Judaism & Hellenism

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    Chancey, Mark A.

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    "Introduction" to Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus

    "By the time of Jesus, all Judaism was Hellenistic Judaism. Martin Hengel’s dictum, articulated in his massive book Judaism and Hellenism and elaborated upon in follow-up projects, has been enormously influential. His review of evidence from the Persian through the early rabbinic periods demonstrated that Hellenistic influence was felt in many spheres of Jewish life in Palestine: linguistic, literary, educational, architectural, religious, philosophical, artistic, political, economic, and military...[C]onfusion abounds about how extensive those influences were at different times and about the specific ways in which they were manifested. As impressive and influential as Hengel’s work has been, some of his specific claims were oversimplified. Furthermore, much subsequent scholarship has gone well beyond Hengel in its characterizations of Greco-Roman culture in the world of Jesus. A review of statements often made about Jesus, his earliest followers, and their Galilean setting highlights issues that merit further examination."
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    Chancey, Mark A.

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    "Introduction" to The Myth of a Gentile Galilee

    "My primary goal in this study is to bridge the gap between textual studies and archaeology, combining both to provide a more detailed and accurate picture of first-century CE Galilee. By making use of Josephus and biblical sources as well as excavation reports, utilizing archaeological data from multiple sites, and differentiating early finds from later finds, this work demonstrates that most Galileans in the first century CE were Jews. Galilee’s earlier history explains how it became predominantly Jewish, and, in the first century CE, Josephus and the authors of the Gospels regarded it as a region where circumcision, Sabbath observance, loyalty to the Jerusalem temple, and purity were major concerns. Archaeological discoveries clearly attest to Jewish burial and purity practices at several sites."
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    Hellerman, Joseph

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    Purity and Nationalism in Second Temple Literature: 1-2 Maccabees and Jubilees

    "Before the Maccabean crisis, a considerable contingent of Jewish elites had demonstrated a willingness to compromise their ethnic solidarity by openly adopting Greek customs and practices. The initiative which led to Antiochus’s decree in fact originated among the Jews. A faction of the Hellenized Jewish nobility, led by a certain Menelaus, desired to reform Jewish religion and 'make a covenant with the Gentiles' (1 Macc 1:11). More than a few of Menelaus’s contemporaries showed themselves willing to jettison socially defining purity practices and traditional temple worship in order to accommodate themselves to Greek mores. Comparable attitudes and behaviors are conspicuously rare among Jews some two centuries later."
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    Levine, Lee I.

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    "Hellenism and the Jewish World of Antiquity", Chapter 1 of Judaism and Hellenism in Antiquity: Conflict or Confluence?

    "One of th emost engaging and productive areas of research in the modern study of Jewish history in antiquity is the issue of Hellenization. In attempting to legitimize the scientific study of Jewish topics, nineteenth-century scholars often highlighted phenomena common to Jews and their surrounding society. Only in the twentieth century, however, has this field become central to the concerns of both Jewish and Christian scholars."
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    Skarsaune, Oskar

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    "The Cultural Dimension: Judaism and Hellenism", Chapter 1 of In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity

    "Modern Christians in general assume that the Judaism that was the mother soil of Jesus, the apostles and the earliest Christian communities was the Judaism Christians know from the Bible...This assumption is fundamentally misleading, and many phenomena in the New Testament and the early church are not properly understood unless this assumption is corrected. To put it briefly: Some very important things happened to Judaism and the Jewish people in the period 'between the Testaments,' and these are essential for understanding the origin of the Jesus movement and the early church."