Reliance on essentialist or syncretistic models of cultural dynamics has limited past evaluations of ancient Jewish populations. This reexamination of evidence for Jews of North Africa offers an alternative approach. Drawing from methods developed in cultural studies and historical linguistics, this book replaces traditional categories used to examine evidence for early Jewish populations and demonstrates how direct comparison of Jewish material evidence with that of its neighbors allows for a reassessment of what the category of “Jewish” might have meant in different North African locations and periods and, by extension, elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The result is a transformed analysis of Jewish cultural identity that both emphasizes its indebtedness to larger regional contexts and allows for a more informed and complex understanding of Jewish cultural distinctiveness.
Karen B. Stern, Ph.D. (2006) in Religious Studies, Brown University, is Lecturer of Religion at University of Southern California.
"Richly annotated, professionally written, and cogently argued, this specialized study will be a key addition to any research library. Essential. Upper-division undergraduates, graduates, researchers/faculty." – S.H. Werlin,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in:
"Karen Stern has done a great service in collecting, analyzing, and bringing to the fore the archaeological remains of North African Jewry during late antiquity. This volume should be purchased by every library that collects deeply in classics, patristics, and, of course, Jewish studies." – Steven Fine,
Yeshiva University, New York, in:
Review of Biblical Literature 02 (2009)
Those interested in Jewish cultural history, early Judaism, Jews in Muslim lands, Church history, Jewish-Christian relations, religion in late antiquity; archaeologists, classicists and historians of cultural identity in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean.