This provocative new history of Palestinian Jewish society in antiquity marks the first comprehensive effort to gauge the effects of imperial domination on this people. Probing more than eight centuries of Persian, Greek, and Roman rule, Seth Schwartz reaches some startling conclusions — foremost among them that the Christianization of the Roman Empire generated the most fundamental features of medieval and modern Jewish life.
Schwartz begins by arguing that the distinctiveness of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman periods was the product of generally prevailing imperial tolerance. From around 70 C.E. to the mid-fourth century, with failed revolts and the alluring cultural norms of the High Roman Empire, Judaism all but disintegrated. However, late in the Roman Empire, the Christianized state played a decisive role in ”re-Judaizing” the Jews. The state gradually excluded them from society while supporting their leaders and recognizing their local communities. It was thus in Late Antiquity that the synagogue-centered community became prevalent among the Jews, that there re-emerged a distinctively Jewish art and literature — laying the foundations for Judaism as we know it today.
Through masterful scholarship set in rich detail, this book challenges traditional views rooted in romantic notions about Jewish fortitude. Integrating material relics and literature while setting the Jews in their eastern Mediterranean context, it addresses the complex and varied consequences of imperialism on this vast period of Jewish history more ambitiously than ever before. Imperialism in Jewish Society will be widely read and much debated.
Angelic beings can be found throughout the Hebrew Bible, and by late antiquity the archangels Michael and Gabriel were as familiar as the patriarchs and matriarchs, guardian angels were as present as one’s shadow, and praise of the seraphim was as sacred as the Shema prayer. Mika Ahuvia recovers once-commonplace beliefs about the divine realm and demonstrates that angels were foundational to ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish practice centered on humans' relationships with invisible beings who acted as intermediaries, role models, and guardians. Drawing on non-canonical sources—incantation bowls, amulets, mystical texts, and liturgical poetry—Ahuvia shows that when ancient men and women sought access to divine aid, they turned not only to their rabbis or to God alone but often also to the angels. On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel spotlights these overlooked stories, interactions, and rituals, offering a new entry point to the history of Judaism and the wider ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world in which it flourished.
Where do demons come from? Why did the Sages try to contain them with strange laws?
Dr. Sara Ronis is an associate professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University. She specializes in understanding rabbinic literature using interdisciplinary perspectives. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Do Not Go Out Alone at Night”: Law and Demonic Discourse in the Babylonian Talmud. In her upcoming book manuscript, she explores how late antique Jews thought about demons as part of larger intercultural conversations within the Sassanian empire.
An Aramaic incantation bowl from Nippur, photo taken circa 1909, shown in ‘Studies in Assyriology and Archaeology’ dedicated to Hermann V. Hilprech
Completed by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) in 1922, this lyrical, evocative, and unique book is a key work to understanding the life and art of this creative genius who has come to be known as the "Father of Surrealism." His deep roots in Jewish tradition-religious and secular-are reflected in these recollections of his poverty-stricken youth in White Russia, to his involvement in the Paris art world prior to World War I, and back again to Russia until his decision in 1923 to finally return to Paris. "Belongs unmistakably to the world of his paintings ... it flickers with sharp responses and vivid phrases."
Annette Yoshiko Reed
What did ancient Jews believe about demons and angels? This question has long been puzzling, not least because the Hebrew Bible says relatively little about such transmundane powers. In the centuries after the conquests of Alexander the Great, however, we find an explosion of explicit and systematic interest in, and detailed discussions of, demons and angels. In this book, Annette Yoshiko Reed considers the third century BCE as a critical moment for the beginnings of Jewish angelology and demonology. Drawing on early 'pseudepigrapha' and Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls, she reconstructs the scribal settings in which transmundane powers became a topic of concerted Jewish interest. Reed also situates this development in relation to shifting ideas about scribes and writing across the Hellenistic Near East. Her book opens a window onto a forgotten era of Jewish literary creativity that nevertheless deeply shaped the discussion of angels and demons in Judaism and Christianity.
December, 2011 Conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications
A telephone survey of the American general population (ages 18+) Interview dates: December 8 – 12, 2011
Number of interviews: 1,000 Margin of error for the total sample: +/- 4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level NOTE: All results show percentages among all respondents, unless otherwise labeled. Please refer to the exact sample number at the bottom of each table. All results shown are percentages unless otherwise labeled.