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The Problem of the Theater in Early Judaism

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Abstract Some scholars have characterized Jewish participation in Roman theatrical institutions as a departure from normative Judaism, while others have distinguished Jews in the diaspora, who attend the theaters, from Jews in Palestine, who criticize and reject them. Both of these narratives are inadequate because scholars have failed to analyze the sources in terms of the cultural and discursive dynamics of Roman theater-going in general. Critiques and accommodations of the theater are common among Jews who lived in both the diaspora and Palestine, for the nature of theatrical culture itself provided Jews with opportunities for vigorous dialogical give-and-take under a Roman imperium in which theaters and their shows were of utmost political and social importance.

Affiliations: 1: University of Chicago, The Divinity School 1025 E. 58th Street, Chicago, IL, 60637 USA


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