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5 Jews and Judaism as the Roman Pagans Saw Them

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Chapter Summary

The attitude of pagan Rome and Romans to Jews and Judaism expressed itself in many ways, in literature, policy, legislation, public opinion, and so forth. The Greek and Latin literary texts of Antiquity referring to Jews and Judaism are one of the sources for the attitude of the intelligentsia to them. In the Christian era, religious antagonism became intense following incessant incitement by the Church, so that in the last two centuries of Jewish presence in Italy during Antiquity co-existence between Jews and Christians became a serious problem. Josephus reported an assorted number of other Graeco-Roman writers who mentioned this or that detail of Jewish history, real or imaginary, often as part of their histories. While he did so to underpin his apologetic thesis of the "Antiquity" of the Jews and of their religion, he throws considerable light on what Graeco-Roman writers thought of the Jewish people and their antecedents.

Keywords: antagonism; Greek; Jews; Judaism; Latin; Roman pagans



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