Hard to believe but true: The Passover Seder is a Greco-Roman symposium banquet The Talmud rabbis presented themselves as Stoic philosophers Synagogue buildings were Roman basilicas Hellenistic rhetoric professors educated sons of well-to-do Jews Zeus-Helios is depicted in synagogue mosaics across ancient Israel In Israel there were synagogues where the prayers were recited in Greek. Historians have long debated the (re)birth of Judaism in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple cult by the Romans in 70 CE. What replaced that sacrificial cult was at once something new, even as it also sought to preserve what little it could of the old Israelite religion. Arguing that its transformation from a Jerusalem centred cult to a world religion was made possible by the Roman Empire, Rabbi Burton Visotzky presents Judaism as a distinctly Roman religion. Full of fascinating detail from the daily life and culture of Jewish communities across the Hellenistic world, Aphrodite and the Rabbis will appeal to anyone interested in the development of Judaism, religion, history, art and architecture.
BURTON L. VISOTZKY is Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He worked with Bill Moyers and more recently with Christiane Amanpour on Back to the Beginning, aired annually at Christmas time. The author of many books, including "Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from the Rabbis of the Talmud," he has been named to The Forward 50 and repeatedly to the "Newsweek/Daily Beast" list of the The 50 Most Influential Jews in America. He lives in Manhattan."
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