The Roman Empire's Influence on Judaism

This course will examine the complicated, often tense, but always dynamic relationship between Jews and Rome as well as the role that the Roman Empire played in the development of Judaism as a religion. Through a focus on three case-studies, we will arrive at a more nuanced picture of this incredibly complicated but formative period in Jewish history: How did the cultural forces of the Greco-Roman world influence and impact the transformation of Judaean sacred practice into a modern religion? How did Rome and its political empire create the system in which an independent Jewish kingdom could arise, flourish, and assert itself within a larger political community? How did Roman legal tradition impact the rabbinic project, especially the creation of the Mishnah and the Talmud? In what ways was Judaism—itself a Greek word (Iudaismos)—a product, at least in part, of the larger Greco-Roman world? Instructor: Adam Marshak