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Jews and judaism in the mediterranean Diaspora in the late-roman period: The limitations of evidence

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Chapter Summary

Modern interpretations of the nature of Judaism in the Mediterranean diaspora in the late-Roman period have been based mainly on the evaluation of archeological and epigraphic data. In Jews' religious geography, the centre of the world, the core of purity, lay in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbinic texts from late antiquity are extant only because their contents interested enough Jews through the medieval to the early modern period for them to be continuously copied and eventually printed. The evidence of Christian authors about Jews is almost equally unsatisfactory, but for rather different reasons. Whatever their divergences, one common denominator for all Jews was that each thought of himself or herself as belonging within a system defined as Judaism.

Keywords: Christian; Jerusalem; Jews; Judaism; late antiquity; late-Roman period; Mediterranean diaspora; rabbinic texts



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