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Jews and the roman army: Perceptions and realities

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Chapter Summary

Scholars, including military historians, often project the conventions of Talmudic, or even modern, Judaism back into previous periods. This is particularly true in general assumptions about Jews in the military and Jewish attitudes towards the Romans. In discussing this issue, it is important to note that the meaning of the terms 'Romans' and 'Jews' is not always clear, and was used variously and loosely in antiquity as well as today. The evidence for Jewish involvement with the Roman military as allies is clear if fragmentary. Evidence for Jews serving directly in the Roman military is growing. Jews in a pre-Christian world felt quite comfortable in a military context, serving foreigners. Jews as often admired the Roman military, enough to join it in some cases, as they resented and opposed it.

Keywords: Jews; Judaism; military historians; pre-Christian world; Roman military; Talmudic



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