chapter  1
5 Pages

Introduction: studying the Jewish Diaspora in antiquity

BySean Freyne

There are many factors that contribute to this relative neglect of Jewish Diaspora studies in antiquity, not least the scarcity of literary sources other than for Egypt. Yet one suspects this is not the only reason for their subordinate position within the burgeoning field of studies of Second Temple Judaism. These have been concentrated largely on the homeland, because of political reasons to do with the modern state of Israel, but also because of the amount and nature of the data that have been amassed within that milieu over the past half-century. The excitement generated by the Dead Sea Scrolls and their publication, and the intense interest in the archaeological data from Galilee, are just two examples of particular interests, important though they may be, setting, and to an extent skewing, the scholarly agenda. By contrast, the new data for the Diaspora have received much less attention, confined as they are for the most part to inscriptions and some limited archaeological evidence.