The Hellenization of Judaea in the First Century After Christ

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Hellenization Judaea First Century by Martin Hengel

Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review. Martin Hengel. New Reduced Price. Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. The bones of the rich Alexandrian Nicanor, who had the doors of the Nicanor gate made, were also laid to rest in Jerusalem. Possibly, like A more recent interpretation conjectures that the remains of his sons Nicanor and Alexas found rest in the inscribed ossuary.

Be this as it may, we can assume that Greek was spoken among the families of these aristocrats who had returned. It will also be the case that Greek was no less established among the leading families of Jerusalem than in the scriptoria and the bazaars of the city or at the tables of the money changers in the temple forecourt.

However, the significance of language was not just limited to Jerusalem. Thus a substantial Jewish population lived in the Hellen- ized cities of the coastal plain from Gaza to Dor or Ptolemais-Acco: in Caesarea they made up almost half the population, and in Jamnia certainly and Ashdod probably they outnumbered the Hellenized Gentile population. That Greek was the principal language in Scythopolis, theold Beth-shean, presumably derived its remarkable name from the fact that in the third century BCE the Ptolemies settled cavalry there from the kingdom on the Bosphorus 'Scythians'.

The 'Hellenization' of Judaea in the First Century after Christ by Martin Hengel (2012, Paperback)

Under the mythical name Nysa it was a particular On coins and in an inscription the city calls itself Pompey restored the city, which had Anyone who wants to discover Dionysian features in John 2. In Hellenistic, pre-Roman times Tell Anafa- Arsinoe flourished just next to the northern frontier in the eastern part of the Hule valley.

It was presumably destroyed by Alexander Jannaeus around 80 BCE. Another Hellenistic city founded by the Ptolemies which disappeared when it was conquered by the Hasmonaeans was Philotheria Beth-Jerach at the south end of Lake Tiberias. Because of its Greek name, Tarichaea, the Jewish Magdala, around four miles north of Tiberias on the same lake, seems to have been a Hellenistic foundation as the centre of the fishing industry.

Presumably there was a whole series of smaller Macedonian-Greek settlements in Palestine which did not develop into real cities and did not have any 80 rights as cities. The great cemetery in Beth-shearim between Nazareth and Haifa which comes from between the second 81 and fourth centuries CE contains predominantly Greek inscriptions.

History: The Hellenization Of The Jews

Some of those buried there come from the Phoenician metropolises. After the death of R. Jehuda han-Nasi after the tombs of Beth- shearim took on a more than regional significance, like the Holy City before 70 CE. We may assume that the rabbinic teachers from the Tannaitic period all also spoke Greek.

The letters of Bar Kosiba from the wilderness of Judaea have provided us with further material; they show that the Jewish pseudo- messiah or one of his officers got on better in Greek than in Hebrew. We may also draw conclusions from this background for the Jesus movement. Among the twelve disciples of Jesus two, Andrew and Philip, bear purely Greek names, and in the case of two others the original Greek name has been Aramaized.

The blind beggar Bartimaeus Bar-Timaios in Jericho, who becomes a follower of Jesus, can also be mentioned in this connection. Such Greek names are often attested for Jews in Palestine and Egypt. Shim 'on on and Simon were almost e. Philip came from Bethsaida John 1. The name Philip was then presumably a The At all events, Simon Peter must have been bilingual, since otherwise he could not have engaged so successfully in missionary work outside Judaea from Antioch via Corinth to Rome.

Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism by David Steinberg

It is remarkable that Luke does not know of Peter having any problems with language - say in connection with Cornelius; this arises for him only in the case of Paul before the crowd in Jerusalem and the tribune Claudius Lysias Acts Such knowledge was a prerequisite for upward social mobility, both in crafts and trade and in the service of the political powers, the Herodian rulers, the cities, the temple administration and the other Jewish authorities and even more in the service of Rome.

The better the knowledge of language a Palestinian Jew acquired, the more easily he could rise in the social scale. The larger cities, primarily Jerusalem, but also Sepphoris and Tiberias, had Greek schools which presumably went as far as an elementary training in rhetoric. An institution like the temple must have had a well-staffed Greek secretariat for more than two centuries see below, 22f.

From the beginning, those trained in such schools with a higher social status gained particular significance for the Jesus movement. We may assume that Jesus himself, who as a building craftsman belonged to the middle class, and to an even greater degree his brother James, was capable of carrying on a conversation in Greek. The situation of his native Nazareth However, we do not necessarily have to go so far as Zahn, G.


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Kittel 91 andJ. Sevenster in supposing that James in any case himself wrote his letter, composed in excellent Greek, even if the the good style is not in itself an argument against a Palestinian origin for the letter. As leader of the earliest community in Jerusalem he could certainly also have had the use of a secretary. The discussion at the 'apostolic council' will at least have been carried on also in Greek, otherwise the presence of a Greek like Titus will hardly have made sense.

We can 92 therefore spare ourselves the hypothesis of an Aramaic protocol from which Paul is supposed to be quoting. Simon's sons and his mother were perhaps known later in the Christian community in Rome, and Jason of Cyprus, Paul's host Acts Not least, mention should of course be made here of the 'Seven' as the spokesmen of the Hellenist community Acts 6. These levels of bilinguality would also explain why, presumably even during the lifetime of Jesus, the message of Jesus also reached Diaspora Jews in Jerusalem who almost only spoke Greek or spoke it exclusively; it was from among them that that group of Hellenists was recruited which separated because of its worship in Greek and as a special group in the community became significant in Jerusalem with such amazing rapidity.

John Perhaps John 4. Though the goal of education might initially be different, indeed contrary, in the long run there could not fail to be an influence of each side on the other. Here Fergus Millar stresses a point which we must keep in mind if we are to have a correct estimation of the spiritual power of the Judaism of that time:. But even where there was opposition and conflict involving vigorous argument with the new pagan civilization, as in Judaism, people became more strongly 'infected' by it than they realized. The religious motive which interests theologians most here fades into the background - at least to begin with.

It is amazing how many significant Greek academics, men of letters and thinkers were produced by the new Graeco-Macedonian foundations or the Graecized cities of Palestine and Transjordan from the second century BCE onwards. Gadara, about six miles from the southern border of Galilee as the crow flies, was the home town of Menippus, the inventor of satire from the fourth to third century BCE; Meleager, the founder of the Greek anthology from the second century; and the Epicurean Philodemus, for whose library we are indebted to the papyrus discoveries in Herculaneum, from the first century B C E.

The orator Theodore of Gadara, who instructed the future emperor Tiberius, lived at the end of the first century B C E , and at the beginning of the second century CE the Cynic Oenomaus of Gadara, who is presumably mentioned in a very positive way in the Talmud, but also meets with the approval of Eusebius, so that he hands down some substantial passages about him in his Praeparatio Evangelica.

Stephen of Byzantium lists two orators and a sophist as coming from Gerasa, and the neo-Pythagorean and mathematician Nicomachus from the second century CE is particularly well known. As coming from Ashkelon, the only coastal city, which the Hasmonaeans were unable to capture, Stephen of Byzantium mentions not only the well known Antiochus, who revived Platonism and was a contemporary of Cicero, but also three Stoic philosophers, two grammarians and two historians.

The grammarian Ptolemaeus taught in Rome during the early period of the Empire.

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Even if these scholars did not usually remain in the country but made their fortunes in the cultural centres of the West, we must assume that there was a firm and lasting scholarly tradition in the places I have mentioned - to which should also be added the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, which while preserving their own tradition at the same time achieved a considerable cultural climax. All these towns provided a solid education and also enjoyed an influence to match.

Even Jewish Palestine could not escape the attraction of Greek education, which flourished in the Hellenistic cities all around it. The author of the Letter of Aristeas, writing in Alexandria, takes it for granted around BCE that the seventy-two translators who came from Palestine had all had a solid Greek education, and conversely the Talmudic literature also knows the Septuagint legends in their more developed form, corresponding to that in Philo, in which each individual translator was inspired.

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The contrary verdict to this very positive After the second century CE it was increasingly rejected because of the rivalry of the Christians and replaced by Aquila's translation. There can be no doubt that it was used frequently in Jerusalem, probably in the synagogue of Theodotus. Fragments of Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible have been found both in Qumran and in the Wadi Murabba ' a t , and in The scroll of the twelve prophets The editors must have learned their Greek grammar well. Paul himself was already working with such a revised text of the books of Isaiah, Job and Kings, and it is quite possible that he made this critical revision himself.

One can no However, the influence of Greek education and literature extends very much wider.

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