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Who Were the First Christians?Dismantling the Urban Thesis$
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Thomas A. Robinson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190620547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190620547.001.0001

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Counting the Jewish Population

Counting the Jewish Population

Chapter:
(p.41) 4 Counting the Jewish Population
Source:
Who Were the First Christians?
Author(s):

Thomas A. Robinson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190620547.003.0004

Claims about the size of the Jewish population in the Roman Empire vary wildly, from 2 million to 10 million or more. But any attempt to establish the size is doomed to fail because of the nature of the evidence. In spite of that, many scholars have asserted that Jews made up 20% of the Eastern Roman Empire, claiming also that the diaspora Jewish population was largely urban, with some claiming that this population was economically prosperous too. But such a scenario would not only saturate the cities of the Roman Empire with Jews, it would need to explain how a largely rural and farming population in the homeland of Palestine (with perhaps a million people) could have populated the urban areas of the Roman Empire with skilled artisans and traders. Perhaps a rural Jewish diaspora needs consideration.

Keywords:   Jewish diaspora, urban, social level, Palestine, Jewish demography, rural Jews, farming, Roman Empire

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