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The Hellenistic Jewish Historians

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Chapter Summary

The largest literary corpus that reflects the attempt of an ethnic group to present its own story within the Hellenistic world is Jewish. Jewish contacts with Greeks go back well beyond the Hellenistic world itself. The Hebrew Bible appears to begin referring to the Greeks in late seventh century and exilic texts. One incontestable source of contact between Greeks and Jews was trading. The Greeks apparently knew very little about the Jews prior to Alexander. The standard perception among Greek intellectuals such as Hekataios of Abdera and Megasthenes at the beginning of the Hellenistic age was that the Jews were philosophers. Quotations from Hellenistic Jewish authors have come down to us in Eusebios, Clement, and Josephos. All three of these derived their information from the work of the first century B.C.E. Roman savant, Alexander Polyhistor.

Keywords: Alexander Polyhistor; Clement; Eusebios; Hellenistic Jewish historians; Josephos



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