It has long been argued that Judaism and Hellenism have been two mutually exclusive modes of thinking, but Jenny Labendz’s book adds to the growing weight of literature challenging this point. Emerging Rabbinic Judaism engaged with the philosophical methods of debate common in the Greco-Roman world, and were often more indebted to them than is usually supposed.
Labendz’s book identifies a new sub-genre in rabbinic literature: rabbinic dialogue with a non-Jew and provides a comparison of rabbinic texts to Plato’s texts and to New Testament texts. She investigates rabbinic self-perception and self-fashioning within the non-Jewish social and intellectual world of antique Palestine, showing how the rabbis drew on Hellenistic and Roman concepts for Torah study and answering a fundamental question: was rabbinic participation in Greco-Roman society a begrudging concession or a principled choice? [OUP review]
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