15 Pages


This chapter presents a Case Study on Taxonomical Issues in the Study of Ancient Judaism. In "Fences and Neighbors" Jonathan Z. Smith illustrated the value of such polythetic approaches to the classification of ancient Judaism. It is in this spirit that this essay revisits the notion of ancient Judaisms in order to ask whether it is meaningful to talk of Greco-Roman Diaspora Judaism as a specific sub-class of early Judaism. It is in Greco-Roman Diaspora Judaism, a phenomenon of the cities of the Roman Empire, that the Judaic background to early Christianity is more likely to be found. The dominant scholarly view for first two thirds of the twentieth century was that a highly unified Judaism characterized the Diaspora as a whole after 70 ce, as the rabbis took control of defining what was normative for Jews both in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora.