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Unsocial Bandits

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Chapter Summary

Over the last few generations of scholarship on Christian origins, the notion of armed violence by organized bands of men has played an important role in defining the political topography of the Galilee and the complexion of the Jesus movement in Jewish Palestine. Social banditry, Hobsbawm argued, is universally found wherever societies are based on agriculture, and consists largely of peasants and landless laborers ruled, oppressed and exploited by someone elselords, towns, governments, or even banks. Soon after the publication of Hobsbawms book the model of social banditry came under serious attack. Several structural features of ancient society made banditry a normal occurrence. Josephus assumes that economic pressures are directly related to banditry. A particularly important relationship existed between banditry and the army. As Shaw observes, the professional soldier was always a potential bandit.

Keywords: Galilee; Josephus; social banditry



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