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Rabbis as RomansThe Rabbinic Movement in Palestine, 100-400 CE$
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Hayim Lapin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179309

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179309.001.0001

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The Formation of a Provincial Religious Movement

The Formation of a Provincial Religious Movement

(p.64) 3 The Formation of a Provincial Religious Movement
Rabbis as Romans

Hayim Lapin

Oxford University Press

Whereas Chapter 2 worked from the texts outward, here we locate Rabbis within the social history of Roman Palestine in the third and fourth centuries. The chapter argues that rabbis constituted a small (a few dozen to a few hundred members at the most) group of mostly urban, wealthy, literate men. This has important consequences for understanding the rabbinic movement, since it implies that Rabbis were both considerably “Romanized” (in the sense that they had considerable familiarity with Roman administration and broadly Roman culture. This chapter investigates the depiction in rabbinic texts of Rabbis’ negotiation of their urban landscape. Turning to organization, although it is not strongly emphasized in rabbinic texts, it is possible that kinship or family associations played a role in the development and continuity of the movement. Modes of organization that have more emphasis in rabbinic texts link Rabbis to voluntary religious associations in the ancient world, and perhaps even more strongly to the way in which contemporaneous philosophical and other schools of thought were described.

Keywords:   schools, Hairesis, Sepphoris, Tiberias, Caesarea, urbanization, numbers, disciple circles, voluntary associations

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