The Image of the Jews in Greek Lit­er­a­ture: The Hel­lenis­tic Period

Beza­lel Bar-Kochva
  • Review
By – October 3, 2011
Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Bar-Koch­va offers schol­ar­ly dis­cus­sions of the views expressed by twelve Greek authors on the top­ic of Jews and Judaism pri­or to the Roman rule of the East. They are divid­ed between those who wrote from the time of the Greek con­quest (333 BCE) until the per­se­cu­tions of the Syr­i­an king Anti­ochus Epiphanes IV (168 BCE), and those who wrote there­after, from the time of the Has­monean Revolt until the con­quest of Syr­ia and Judea by the Romans under Pom­pey (63 BCE). Togeth­er, this lit­er­a­ture encom­pass­es much of the extant evi­dence and offers a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of the pre­vail­ing views among Greek intel­lec­tu­als writ­ing for a vari­ety of rea­sons, from philo­soph­i­cal to his­tor­i­cal, among oth­ers. Instead of one view­point being expressed, or a sim­ple pro­gres­sion from, for exam­ple, pos­i­tive to neg­a­tive eval­u­a­tions, Bar-Koch­va finds an array of opin­ions, some sur­pris­ing, and traces their inter­de­pen­dence. It becomes clear that there were far few­er neg­a­tive com­ments than will char­ac­ter­ize the Roman peri­od, fol­low­ing the failed Revolt of the late 60’s CE, or in the Chris­t­ian peri­od, although more neg­a­tive com­ments do arise to explain and legit­i­mate the actions of Anti­ochus Epiphanes, as well as to denounce the Has­monean aggres­sion it sparked. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index.
Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, is the author of Mys­tery­of Romans, win­ner of the 1996 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, Charles H. Revson­Award in Jew­ish-Chris­t­ian Relations.

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