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Doing like jews or becoming a jew? Josephus on women converts to judaism

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Chapter Summary

To ask the question, how did women convert to Judaism during the Second Temple period, is to assume quite a lot. It assumes the notions of 'conversion' and 'Judaism', but neither should in fact be taken for granted. Josephus seems to have thought that Gentile men can become Jews via circumcision, but that Gentile women, who cannot be circumcised, cannot become Jews. They can only do like Jews do. Josephus, as perhaps befits someone whose life straddled the destruction of the Second Temple and saw the transition from the type of Judaism ruled by priests to that ruled by rabbis, was somewhat in the middle. Josephus was on the verge of allowing women to convert to Judaism, and was held back from the final recognition of that only by his priestly notions and allegiance.

Keywords: circumcision; Josephus; Judaism



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