Catalogue


Were the Jews a Mediterranean society? : reciprocity and solidarity in ancient Judaism /
Seth Schwartz.
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010.
description
x, 212 p.
ISBN
9780691140544 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010.
isbn
9780691140544 (hardcover)
contents note
Reciprocity and solidarity -- The problem with Mediterraneanism -- A God of reciprocity : Torah and social relations in the Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sira -- Josephus : honor, memory, benefaction -- Roman values and the Palestinian rabbis.
catalogue key
6980864
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"There are very few books that combine grand ambition with careful and skeptical scholarship as successfully as this wonderfully provocative book. Seth Schwartz takes on the very biggest question of Second Temple Judaism: how different were the Jews from the Greco-Roman society in which they lived? And he does so with sharp sophistication and profound learning."--Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge"An important consideration of some vital questions in the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic period and late antiquity by one of its most original, well-informed, and intellectually rigorous historians. This book offers a new perspective on this formative period in Jewish history and will be much discussed."--Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University"An original, interesting, and important book. Schwartz advances his arguments with much learning and methodological sophistication. I have no doubt whatever that this book will attract much notice."--Martin Goodman, University of Oxford
Flap Copy
"There are very few books that combine grand ambition with careful and skeptical scholarship as successfully as this wonderfully provocative book. Seth Schwartz takes on the very biggest question of Second Temple Judaism: how different were the Jews from the Greco-Roman society in which they lived? And he does so with sharp sophistication and profound learning."-- Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge "An important consideration of some vital questions in the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic period and late antiquity by one of its most original, well-informed, and intellectually rigorous historians. This book offers a new perspective on this formative period in Jewish history and will be much discussed."-- Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University "An original, interesting, and important book. Schwartz advances his arguments with much learning and methodological sophistication. I have no doubt whatever that this book will attract much notice."-- Martin Goodman, University of Oxford
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-08-01:
Schwartz (Jewish Theological Seminary, NYC) has a cogent voice worthy of profound attention in any dialogue concerning Jewish relations with the Hellenistic-Roman world. The present work effectively constitutes a sequel to Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. (CH, Jul'02, 39-6592). The answer to the title question is "usually." Schwartz examines a range of Hellenistic-Roman texts to tease out the exhortations and advice of thoroughly Jewish authors as to the necessity and means of social and, to a certain extent, political integration into and accommodation with the wider Greco-Roman world. Schwartz offers a close, very revealing analysis of the Hellenistic Jewish author Jesus Ben Sira and a refreshingly unorthodox discussion of that literary trickster Josephus. His analysis of Talmudic texts is persuasive, especially in his convincing demonstration that while rabbis urged Jewish purity, their audience was not consistently observant. Schwartz comments shrewdly on the physical evidence for the Roman presence and Jewish acceptance thereof in Syro-Palestina. The author is, however, sometimes too trusting in other scholars' use of literary and (especially) epigraphic materials. Helpful bibliography and index; useful appendixes on "Ben Sira and the Social Hierarchy" and related texts from Josephus's Jewish Antiquities. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Most levels/libraries. P. B. Harvey Jr. Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus
Reviews
Review Quotes
An important consideration of some vital questions in the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic period and late antiquity by one of its most original, well-informed, and intellectually rigorous historians. This book offers a new perspective on this formative period in Jewish history and will be much discussed.
An original, interesting, and important book. Schwartz advances his arguments with much learning and methodological sophistication. I have no doubt whatever that this book will attract much notice.
There are very few books that combine grand ambition with careful and skeptical scholarship as successfully as this wonderfully provocative book. Seth Schwartz takes on the very biggest question of Second Temple Judaism: how different were the Jews from the Greco-Roman society in which they lived? And he does so with sharp sophistication and profound learning.
[T]his is a book from which a reader could learn a great deal about Ben Sira, Josephus, the rabbis, and methods for approaching the study of Jews in the Roman world. Due to the technical nature of some of its arguments, it is most likely to be of use to PhD students and scholars, though its prose is readable enough that it might be used with master's-level students and perhaps even advanced undergraduates. -- Eric C. Stewart, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
[T]his is a book from which a reader could learn a great deal about Ben Sira, Josephus, the rabbis, and methods for approaching the study of Jews in the Roman world. Due to the technical nature of some of its arguments, it is most likely to be of use to PhD students and scholars, though its prose is readable enough that it might be used with master's-level students and perhaps even advanced undergraduates.
"[T]his is a book from which a reader could learn a great deal about Ben Sira, Josephus, the rabbis, and methods for approaching the study of Jews in the Roman world. Due to the technical nature of some of its arguments, it is most likely to be of use to PhD students and scholars, though its prose is readable enough that it might be used with master's-level students and perhaps even advanced undergraduates."-- Eric C. Stewart, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"[T]here can be no doubt that Schwartz's book is essential reading for anyone working in the field. The attempt to answer two big questions at once is laudable, the analysis is carefully done, and the conclusions are complex. We need more studies operating on such a high level of abstraction."-- Benedikt Eckhardt, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
[T]here can be no doubt that Schwartz's book is essential reading for anyone working in the field. The attempt to answer two big questions at once is laudable, the analysis is carefully done, and the conclusions are complex. We need more studies operating on such a high level of abstraction. -- Benedikt Eckhardt, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
[T]he late Keith Hopkins--to whose memory this book is dedicated--would have enjoyed the combination of originality, erudition, theoretical sophistication, and refusal to accept accepted wisdoms that are evident on almost every page of this book. -- Gideon Bohak, Shofar
[T]here can be no doubt that Schwartz's book is essential reading for anyone working in the field. The attempt to answer two big questions at once is laudable, the analysis is carefully done, and the conclusions are complex. We need more studies operating on such a high level of abstraction.
Schwartz's book is essential reading for specialists in Ben Sira, Josephus and rabbinic values, and useful reading for everyone interested in social-scientific approaches to antiquity. In a country like Finland, where the studies of Judaism and of classical antiquity have been largely separated, approaches like Schwartz's are much needed.
"Schwartz's book is essential reading for specialists in Ben Sira, Josephus and rabbinic values, and useful reading for everyone interested in social-scientific approaches to antiquity. In a country like Finland, where the studies of Judaism and of classical antiquity have been largely separated, approaches like Schwartz's are much needed."-- Lotta Valve, ARCTOS
[T]he late Keith Hopkins--to whose memory this book is dedicated--would have enjoyed the combination of originality, erudition, theoretical sophistication, and refusal to accept accepted wisdoms that are evident on almost every page of this book.
"[T]he late Keith Hopkins--to whose memory this book is dedicated--would have enjoyed the combination of originality, erudition, theoretical sophistication, and refusal to accept accepted wisdoms that are evident on almost every page of this book."-- Gideon Bohak, Shofar
Schwartz has presented a masterful study on the integration of the Jews in Greek and Roman culture. Although it is aimed primarily at specialists, advanced students will also learn from his well articulated methodology and his careful reading of select texts. . . . Schwartz has . . . provided an important contribution to, and essential reading for, understanding Jewish integration in the Greco-Roman period.
"Schwartz has presented a masterful study on the integration of the Jews in Greek and Roman culture. Although it is aimed primarily at specialists, advanced students will also learn from his well articulated methodology and his careful reading of select texts. . . . Schwartz has . . . provided an important contribution to, and essential reading for, understanding Jewish integration in the Greco-Roman period."-- Ronald A. Simkins, Biblical Theology Bulletin
[H]owever one responds to any individual point in this book, Schwartz forces us to think and to view the familiar evidence from new perspectives. For this, his reader is in his debt. -- Albert I. Baumgarten, Scripta Classica Israelica
Schwartz has a cogent voice worthy of profound attention in any dialogue concerning Jewish relations with the Hellenistic-Roman world. . . . Schwartz offers a close, very revealing analysis of the Hellenistic Jewish author Jesus Ben Sira and a refreshingly unorthodox discussion of that literary trickster Josephus. His analysis of Talmudic texts is persuasive.
"Schwartz has a cogent voice worthy of profound attention in any dialogue concerning Jewish relations with the Hellenistic-Roman world. . . . Schwartz offers a close, very revealing analysis of the Hellenistic Jewish author Jesus Ben Sira and a refreshingly unorthodox discussion of that literary trickster Josephus. His analysis of Talmudic texts is persuasive."-- Choice
Schwartz has a cogent voice worthy of profound attention in any dialogue concerning Jewish relations with the Hellenistic-Roman world. . . . Schwartz offers a close, very revealing analysis of the Hellenistic Jewish author Jesus Ben Sira and a refreshingly unorthodox discussion of that literary trickster Josephus. His analysis of Talmudic texts is persuasive. -- Choice
"[H]owever one responds to any individual point in this book, Schwartz forces us to think and to view the familiar evidence from new perspectives. For this, his reader is in his debt."-- Albert I. Baumgarten, Scripta Classica Israelica
[H]owever one responds to any individual point in this book, Schwartz forces us to think and to view the familiar evidence from new perspectives. For this, his reader is in his debt.
As is characteristic of Schwartz's scholarship, this book will prompt scholarly debate. I have learned much from it at the same time that it has raised questions with which I will wrestle long after having written this review. -- Benjamin G. Wright, Journal of Jewish Studies
"As is characteristic of Schwartz's scholarship, this book will prompt scholarly debate. I have learned much from it at the same time that it has raised questions with which I will wrestle long after having written this review."-- Benjamin G. Wright, Journal of Jewish Studies
As is characteristic of Schwartz's scholarship, this book will prompt scholarly debate. I have learned much from it at the same time that it has raised questions with which I will wrestle long after having written this review.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, August 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
How well integrated were Jews in the Mediterranean society controlled by ancient Rome? The Torah's laws seem to constitute a rejection of the reciprocity-based social dependency and emphasis on honor that were customary in the ancient Mediterranean world. But were Jews really a people apart, and outside of this broadly shared culture?Were the Jews a Mediterranean Society'argues that Jewish social relations in antiquity were animated by a core tension between biblical solidarity and exchange-based social values such as patronage, vassalage, formal friendship, and debt slavery.Seth Schwartz's examinations of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, the writings of Josephus, and the Palestinian Talmud reveal that Jews were more deeply implicated in Roman and Mediterranean bonds of reciprocity and honor than is commonly assumed. Schwartz demonstrates how Ben Sira juxtaposes exhortations to biblical piety with hard-headed and seemingly contradictory advice about coping with the dangers of social relations with non-Jews; how Josephus describes Jews as essentially countercultural; yet how the Talmudic rabbis assume Jews have completely internalized Roman norms at the same time as the rabbis seek to arouse resistance to those norms, even if it is only symbolic.Were the Jews a Mediterranean Society'is the first comprehensive exploration of Jewish social integration in the Roman world, one that poses challenging new questions about the very nature of Mediterranean culture.
Main Description
How well integrated were Jews in the Mediterranean society controlled by ancient Rome? The Torah's laws seem to constitute a rejection of the reciprocity-based social dependency and emphasis on honor that were customary in the ancient Mediterranean world. But were Jews really a people apart, and outside of this broadly shared culture? Were the Jews a Mediterranean Society? argues that Jewish social relations in antiquity were animated by a core tension between biblical solidarity and exchange-based social values such as patronage, vassalage, formal friendship, and debt slavery. Seth Schwartz's examinations of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, the writings of Josephus, and the Palestinian Talmud reveal that Jews were more deeply implicated in Roman and Mediterranean bonds of reciprocity and honor than is commonly assumed. Schwartz demonstrates how Ben Sira juxtaposes exhortations to biblical piety with hard-headed and seemingly contradictory advice about coping with the dangers of social relations with non-Jews; how Josephus describes Jews as essentially countercultural; yet how the Talmudic rabbis assume Jews have completely internalized Roman norms at the same time as the rabbis seek to arouse resistance to those norms, even if it is only symbolic. Were the Jews a Mediterranean Society? is the first comprehensive exploration of Jewish social integration in the Roman world, one that poses challenging new questions about the very nature of Mediterranean culture.
Main Description
"An important consideration of some vital questions in the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic period and late antiquity by one of its most original, well-informed, and intellectually rigorous historians. This book offers a new perspective on this formative period in Jewish history and will be much discussed."--Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University "An original, interesting, and important book. Schwartz advances his arguments with much learning and methodological sophistication. I have no doubt whatever that this book will attract much notice."--Martin Goodman, University of Oxford
Bowker Data Service Summary
Seth Schwartz elaborates a model of Jewish social relations in antiquity & considers if the Jews can be considered a 'normal' Mediterranean people.
Back Cover Copy
"There are very few books that combine grand ambition with careful and skeptical scholarship as successfully as this wonderfully provocative book. Seth Schwartz takes on the very biggest question of Second Temple Judaism: how different were the Jews from the Greco-Roman society in which they lived? And he does so with sharp sophistication and profound learning."--Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge "An important consideration of some vital questions in the study of Judaism in the Hellenistic period and late antiquity by one of its most original, well-informed, and intellectually rigorous historians. This book offers a new perspective on this formative period in Jewish history and will be much discussed."--Michael D. Swartz, Ohio State University "An original, interesting, and important book. Schwartz advances his arguments with much learning and methodological sophistication. I have no doubt whatever that this book will attract much notice."--Martin Goodman, University of Oxford
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Reciporcity and Solidarityp. 1
The Problem with Mediterraneanismp. 21
A God of Reciprocity: Torah and Social Relations in the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirap. 45
Josephus: Honor, Memory, Benefactionp. 80
Roman Values and the Palestinian Rabbisp. 110
Conclusion: Were the Ancient Jews a Mediterranean Society?p. 166
Ben Sira on the Social Hierarchyp. 179
Josephus on Memory and Benefactionp. 185
Abbreviationsp. 191
Bibliographyp. 193
Indexp. 209
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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