Journal for the Study of Judaism 42.3

JSJ 42.3 (2011) has just been published online.  And now, on to some of the spoils:

Margaret H.Williams, “Image and Text in the Jewish Epitaphs of Late Ancient Rome.”

This paper aims to establish for the first time the relationship between the verbal and visual elements of the Jewish epitaphs from 3d/4th-century C.E. Rome. A close analysis of the approximately 500 usable inscriptions leads to the conclusion that, the Jewish character of most of the images notwithstanding, the key operative factor at every social level was Roman memorialisation practice. The study thus throws considerable light on the acculturation of Rome’s Jews in Late Antiquity. Two appendices, in which all the symbols that occur are listed individually and by cluster, complete the study.

Fergus Millar, “A Rural Jewish Community in Late Roman Mesopotamia, and the Question of a “Split” Jewish Diaspora.”

This paper emphasises the significance of Syriac evidence for the history of the Jewish Diaspora, and then focuses on an episode in the Syriac Lives of the Eastern Saints by John of Ephesus, which records the demolition by the local Christians of the synagogue of a Jewish community established in a village in the territory of Amida. The significance of this story is explored in two inter-related ways. Firstly, there is the relevance of Syriac-speaking Christianity which, like Judaism, was practised on both sides of the Roman-Sasanid border. Secondly, the article suggests that the presence of Jewish communities in those areas of the Roman empire where Syriac or other dialects of Aramaic were spoken complicates the recently-proposed conception of a “split” Jewish Diaspora, of which a large part was unable to receive rabbinic writings because it knew only Greek. But for Jews living in areas where Aramaic or Syriac was spoken, there should have been no major linguistic barrier to the reception of the rabbinic learning of either Palestine or Babylonia.

I’ve been waiting for some work on John of Ephesus and some interfacing between Syriac Christianity and Sasanian Jewry.

There are also a slew of reviews, including one of Yehudah Cohn’s Tangled up in Text.  In addition, there is a very extensive “Books Received” section.

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