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Jewish Art In Late Antiquity An Example Of Jewish Identity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses two issues: the development of Jewish identity in exile and the expressions of this identity in the context of Hellenistic culture. It then discusses several works of Jewish art from the Talmudic period as phenomena demonstrating the constancy of Jewish identity. Even after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, there was a firm belief among rabbinic scholars that the history of the Chosen People had not yet come to an end. What we have here, then, is a clear demonstration of how post-70 Judaism overcame the catastrophe of destruction without losing its eschatological hopes. In the realm of pictorial art one of the ways to overcome the trauma of destruction and the struggle for a new identity was reached with the aid of Hellenistic imagery and its reinterpretation in accordance with rabbinic thought.

Keywords: exile; Hellenistic culture; Jerusalem; Jewish art; Jewish identity; late antiquity; pictorial art; rabbinic thought; Talmudic period



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