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Conversion To Judaism In Classical Antiquity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter establishes two points: first, that there was a tremendous increase in the number of Jews between the time of the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. and the first century C.E., both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora; and secondly, that there is considerable evidence that Judaism, especially in the period from the second century B.C.E. to the first century C.E., was open to converts and that there is considerable evidence that many did indeed convert, both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora. A good deal of the thesis depends upon the reliability of Josephus, who is a key source for population figures. Since much of the increase in population occurred in the Land of Israel, an important part of the argument is a consideration of the question as to how many people the Land could support in those days.

Keywords: Diaspora; First Temple; Israel; Jews; Josephus; Judaism



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