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Bibil Identifier bibil:144968
Publication Type Article of book
Title (English, Long) Sophists and Rabbis: Jews and Their Past in the Severan Age
Author Geiger, Joseph
Edited book Severan Culture
Year (Reference) 2007
Language English
Pages 440-448 Pages
Genre Original
Abstract Joseph Geiger considers the intellectual elite of the Jews — the rabbis — in the Severan age. It was unfortunate for Christians that the Jews had not succumbed after Titus’ war on them and the sack ofthe Temple in AD 70, but in fact grew stronger. The intellectual strength of their culture, based on lively oral debate and a huge sense of the legitimating past, has clear parallels with the Greek sophistic movement. Was this culture ‘literary’ or did it too have pretensions to political authority? One key difference from pagans was the Jews’ possession of a very central religious text. The rise of rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Temple saw the end of Jewish Greek literature as the Jews focused their energies on interpreting their past — recorded in the Bible — and ignoring alternatives. Rabbinic interest in the past virtually sidelined discussion even of Jewish matters in the recent past (and certainly excluded Rome). This was an age of remembering, in Greek, Latin, and Jewish culture. Memory as always entails invention, and the rabbis were not concerned to check their facts when they did allude to historical events. Thus the Bar-Kokhba revolt is remembered, but safely through an aetiology. There is no sense of history as we understand it, Even their retelling of the Maccabean revolt involved dropping the name of King Antiochus. Geiger observes that the obsession with the Bible over post-biblical history parallels the sophist's obsession with the age of the Persian wars and Alexander — though the parallel is admittedly superficial. Texts like Maccabees which were in conformity with Biblical historiography were however outside the received canon, and that, he suggests, is why they were excluded. (S. Swain, Introd., p. 20s.)
Keywords Thesaurus BiBIL : Milieu : Ancient Judaism : Important Persons and Movements : Talmudic Period : Rabbinism
Thesaurus BiBIL : Unbound Keywords : Memory
Thesaurus BiBIL : Milieu : Ancient Judaism : Themes : Scripture
Thesaurus BiBIL : Milieu : Graeco-Roman World : Literature - Philosophy : Second Sophistic
Last modification 2017-10-27