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Finkelstein the Orientalist

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Chapter Summary

As Arnaldo Momigliano noted soon after Moses Finley's death, Finley paid little attention to Jews or Judaism in his scholarship. This chapter explores this silence in two ways, first, biographically, by trying to determine what sort of Jewish background Finley had, and how much Jewish knowledge he is to have brought to his career as ancient historian. Second, it explores it intellectually, by wondering about the cognitive costs and benefits of this act of 'erasure'. The author's question was inspired by Finley's unconvincingly cavalier dismissal of the 'near east', including the Jews, as a suitable topic for coverage in the introduction to The Ancient Economy. Why did he do it and how would the text have looked if he had not? The chapter assumes that Finley's 'orientalism' in The Ancient Economy is of a piece with his avoidance of the Jews elsewhere in his work.

Keywords: Arnaldo Momigliano; Judaism; Moses Finley's death; The Ancient Economy



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