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15 Judaism in Asia Minor

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Chapter Summary

The beginnings of Jewish presence in Asia Minor may go back to fifth century BCE, although the evidence is controversial because of a problem in interpretation of a Hebrew word in Obadiah 20. This chapter focuses on roughly one thousand years between the beginnings of Jewish settlement there and end of Talmudic period. The data are too few and probably Jewish life in Anatolian cities usually was too uneventful to make it into books. The chapter discusses a very significant form of rapprochement between Jews and Gentiles in Asia Minor, namely the cult of Theos Hypsistos, God Most High. Theos Hypsistos is a designation that was current as an epithet for the highest god in both paganism and Judaism and Christianity. It is highly probable that this rather elusive cult concerned a syncretistic religious movement that did a conscious effort to bridge the gap between polytheism and monotheism.

Keywords: Asia Minor; Jewish settlement; Jews; Judaism; Talmudic period; Theos Hypsistos



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