The lost chapter: Imperialism and jewish society 70-135 CE

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Seth Schwartz's Imperialism and Jewish Society is a powerful history of Judaism in Antiquity. However, it presents a puzzle: the reader, who finishes Part One of the book, which ends in 70 CE, and turns the page to begin reading Part Two, finds himself, or herself, in a chapter that astonishingly begins in 135 CE. In other words, the book skips a period which, for many scholars, is one of the most important periods in the history of Judaism, “the Yavneh Generation”. The claim of this paper is that writing a chapter on Palestinian Judaism in the years 70-135, seriously taking into account both the material and the literary evidence pertaining to that period, would have made it difficult to maintain, as Schwartz does, that Judaism shattered as a result of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE and the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt. Consequently, the story Schwartz tells about the abandonment of Judaism by most Palestinian Jews in the wake of the Bar Kokhba revolt should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-82
Number of pages20
JournalRevue des Études Juives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

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