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The Roman-Jewish Wars and Hebrew Cultural Nationalism, 66-2000 CE

The Roman-Jewish Wars and Hebrew Cultural Nationalism, 66-2000 CE (Hardback)

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The Roman-Jewish wars of 66-70, 115-17 and 132-35 once destroyed the territorial, social and political bases of militant Jewish nationalism. Successive defeats brought a Roman ban on Jewish residence in Jerusalem and on proselytization. Most of the Jewish population of Judaea, in southern Palestine, were annihilated or exiled. The creative heart of Judaism shifted to Galilee, where the study of rabbinic law and homiletics flourished, mostly in Hebrew, and the Mishna - the basis of the Talmud - was edited by the Tannaim (Mishna teachers). Defeat and exile made Jewish religious-cultural isolation and vulnerability to anti-Semitism irreversible for the next nineteen centuries. In this controversial book, the authors show how the Roman-Jewish wars were precipitated partly by Jewish demographic and religious expansion and by conflict with the Greeks and their culture. They argue that the trauma and humiliation of defeat stimulated Jewish cultural growth during and after the wars. This culture was an implicit rejection of Graeco-Roman civilization and values in favour of a more exclusivist religious-cultural nationalism.

This form of nationalism, although unique in the ancient world, anticipates more recent cultural-national movements of defeated peoples.

MOSHE ABERBACH is Professor Emeritus at the Baltimore Hebrew University and lives in Jerusalem. His books include The Roman-Jewish War (66-70A), Jewish Education in the Time of the Mishna and the Talmud and Labor, Crafts and Commerce in Ancient Israel. DAVID ABERBACH is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, McGill University, Montreal and Visiting Academic at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He as published books on three modern Hebrew writers, Mendele, Bialikan, Agnon, as well as Surviving Trauma: Loss, Literature and Psychoanalysis, Imperial and Biblical Prophecy 750-500BCE, Charisma in Politics, Religion and the Media: Private Trauma, Public Ideal, and Revolutionary Hebrew: Empire and Crisis.

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