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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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Hellenism and Hybridity

Hellenism and Hybridity

Did the Jews Learn How to Be Jewish from the Greeks?

(p.207) Chapter Six Hellenism and Hybridity
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the theory advanced by the American scholar Shaye Cohen stating that the Greeks played a role in the formation of Judaism, and that Hellenization is the process that created the Jews. In his 1999 book The Beginnings of Jewishness, Cohen argues that it was the Judeans' imitation of Greek culture during the Hellenistic Age that transformed their culture into Judaism. Essential to the idea of the Hellenistic Age as conceived by scholars is the notion of hybridity, symbiosis, or melting together. The chapter considers Cohen's theory as another option for understanding Jewish origins as well as the role of foreigners in the origin stories that scholars tell about the Jews. It also compares Cohen's theory with that of Daniel Boyarin, who claims that Judaism developed into an ethno-religion under the influence of Christianity.

Keywords:   hybridity, Shaye Cohen, Greeks, Judaism, Hellenization, Jews, The Beginnings of Jewishness, Hellenistic Age, Jewish origins, Daniel Boyarin

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