The Jews in Late Antiquity
The Hellenistic period begins formally with Alexander’s arrival in the Near East in 334 B.C.E. However, this date should not be seen as the beginning of Hellenistic influence in this region. The Near East as a whole and the Land of Israel and its Jewish residents more particularly were subject to increasing Aegean influence beginning already in the fourteenth century B.C.E. Due to increased trade connections, this influence became much more extensive during the Persian period when Greek coinage became the standard in the Land of Israel. The cultural phenomenon we call Hellenism was a power which would have a lasting impact on Judaism and the Jewish people.
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Challenge and Transformation: Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism
The years of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine rule in Judea and of Sassanian rule in Babylonia were years of great challenge to the ongoing continuity of Judaism, and, at the same time, years of great accomplishment which resulted in the successful meeting of these challenges. By the time the period of Late Antiquity drew to a close, Judaism had survived the challenges of Hellenization, sectarianism, violent revolution, and even anti-Semitism. In addition, the development of Israelite religion into the rabbinic tradition took place in these very same years. The many transitions that took place in this period are what effectively made possible the long-term continuity of Judaism as an exilic religion, able to enter the medieval period with a new consensus on how to face the future and explain the past.
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In the Shadow of Giants: Current Research in Rabbinics (1992)
One generation passes and another comes, but does the earth, the study of Rabbinic literature, the foundation of Judaic Studies, really stand still? We are assembled here this evening in an era in which nothing of the kind is true. A generation of giants has passed from us, and others now follow them, and it seems as if nothing can ever be the same. Fundamental changes have occurred in the manner in which Rabbinic literature and the Rabbinic period are perceived, taught and researched, at least in North America. Yet even after the major challenges to the methods of these giants, their lasting contribution remains permanent as it should.
Click here to download or read online: In the Shadow of Giants: Current Research in Rabbinics (1992)
Please note that although this paper is outdated, it is still worth a read.