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date: 07 December 2022

religion, Jewishlocked

religion, Jewishlocked

  • Martin Goodman


Judaism in Graeco-Roman antiquity is better known than any other ancient religion apart from Christianity, primarily because of the survival to modern times of traditions about ancient Judaism through rabbinic and Christian literature. However, this same factor creates its own problems of bias in the selection and interpretation of evidence.

The main sources of knowledge about Judaism are the Old and New Testaments and other religious texts preserved in Greek within the Christian Church: the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and the writings of *Philon(4) and *Josephus. The works composed in Hebrew and *Aramaic produced by the rabbis after ce 70 stress rather different aspects. A fresh light has been shone on Judaism by the chance discovery of Jewish papyri in Elephantine and especially by the *Dead Sea Scrolls, which revealed the incompleteness of the later Jewish and Christian traditions even about the 1st cent. ce, the period for which most evidence survives. Pagan Greek and Latin writers emphasized the aspects of Judaism most surprising to outsiders but many of their comments were ignorant and prejudiced.


  • Jewish Studies

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