The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity

The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity: What Christianity Cost the Jews

2020 | ISBN: 0190222271 | English | 520 Pages | PDF | 37 MB

The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity examines the fate of Jews living in the Mediterranean Jewish diaspora after the Roman emperor Constantine threw his patronage to the emerging orthodox (Nicene) Christian churches.
By the fifth century, much of the rich material evidence for Greek and Latin-speaking Jews in the diaspora diminishes sharply. Ross Shepard Kraemer argues that this increasing absence of evidence is evidence of increasing absence of Jews themselves. Literary sources, late antique Roman laws, and archaeological remains illuminate how Christian bishops and emperors used a variety of tactics to coerce Jews into conversion: violence, threats of violence, deprivation of various legal rights, exclusion from imperial employment, and others. Unlike other non-orthodox Christians, Jews who resisted conversion were reluctantly tolerated, perhaps because of beliefs that Christ's return required their conversion. In response to these pressures, Jews leveraged political and social networks for legal protection, retaliated with their own acts of violence, and sometimes became Christians. Some may have emigrated to regions where imperial laws were more laxly enforced, or which were under control of non-orthodox (Arian) Christians. Increasingly, they embraced forms of Jewish practice that constructed tighter social boundaries around them. The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity concludes that by the beginning of the seventh century, the orthodox Christianization of the Roman Empire had cost diaspora Jews-and all non-orthodox persons, including Christians-dearly.

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