Religion and Society in Roman Palestine: Old Questions, New Approaches

Religion and Society in Roman Palestine: Old Questions, New Approaches

Religion and Society in Roman Palestine: Old Questions, New Approaches

Religion and Society in Roman Palestine: Old Questions, New Approaches


This collection of papers combines important archaeological and textual evidence to examine diverse aspects of religion and society in Roman Palestine.A range of international experts provide an unprecedented look at issues of acculturation, assimilation and the preservation of difference in the multicultural climate of Palestine in the Roman period.Key themes include:* the nature of ethnicity and ritual* the character of public and private space in Jewish society* the role of gender and space* the role of peasants* the impact of Roman rule* ritual and the regional framework of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Religion and Society in Roman Palestine will be relevant to ancient historians, interpreters of the historical Jesus and subsequent Jesus movements, and those interested in the development of Judaism from Qu'ran to the rabbis.



The proliferation over recent years of studies throwing light on the history of the Roman provinces has been stimulated above all by advances in the quantity and quality of archaeological research. New techniques, including not least the capacity to process large amounts of data through the use of computers, have permitted sophisticated study not only of individual provinces but of smaller sub-divisions within them. Historians have become increasingly aware of the dangers of generalizing about the cultures, economies, societies and religions of regions as vast and variegated as the Mediterranean world (see Hordern and Purcell 2000) or the Roman Near East (Millar 1993). The clarification of a new picture of this world, in which wider trends induced by state policy or inter-regional trade overlay considerable continuing diversity at many levels, must necessarily rely on numerous local studies such as are presented in this collection: the essays in this book represent the research of an international coterie of historians and archaeologists united by an interest in the realia of Roman Palestine and a common debt to Eric Meyers, whose work has for many years inspired investigation into this field.

Study of Roman Palestine can never be carried out in quite the same way as that of other provinces, and not only because, as Douglas Edwards emphasizes in the first contribution in this volume, the impact of events in this region and period have been so decisive for the later history of Judaism and Christianity, so that few scholars can approach the field without subscribing, overtly or tacitly, to some modern agenda which may threaten to dictate the nature of their interpretation. Of no less importance, and unique to this province, is the survival through those religious traditions of a huge mass of literary material, originally composed in Roman Palestine, copied in antiquity and preserved continuously through the Middle Ages down to modern times.

Jews preserved through the rabbinic academies and synagogue liturgy a great corpus of late-antique writings in Hebrew and Aramaic. Christians preserved a rather different corpus, since all the Jewish writings they retained were either in Greek or translations from the Greek: because Christians had

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