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Did Ancient Judaism Exist?

Philip Harland has an interesting post about a recent article by Steve Mason. Philip had this, and much more, to say about the article.

Mason convincingly argues that Ioudaioi (traditionally translated “Jews”) and related terms should be understood in terms of ethnic groupings in antiquity. For the Hellenistic and Roman periods (at least until the third century CE) we should be speaking of “Judeans”, not “Jews”, and of “Judean customs” or practices, not “Judaism”. Mason is careful to point out that he is not arguing against the use of critically-employed, etic (outsider), scholarly categories in the interest of furthering scholarly knowledge (pp. 458-460). So while he is underlining the absence of the category “Judaism” as a system (i.e. the lack of an emic term such as this in ancient literature), on the one hand, he is also pointing to the ineffectiveness, scientifically, of the uncritical use of this specific modern scholarly (etic) category, “Judaism”, in connection with the ancient period.

It sounds very interesting and should give those who are interested in that time period, and others, something to think about.

3 Responses to “Did Ancient Judaism Exist?”

  1. 1
    Biblical Studies Carnival XXIII:

    [...] articles.  I thank him for mentioning me, but among the possibilities regarding my comments in this post which he should have also written were “too uninformed about the question to make a [...]

  2. 2
    relsimon:

    The “post” link isn’t working.

  3. 3
    Menachem Mendel:

    Thanks for pointing it out. I fixed it.

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