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Grant number like: FB-52726-06

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Seth R. Schwartz
Columbia University (New York, NY 10027-4649)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2006 – 6/30/2007

Toward a History of Ancient Jewish Social Relations

I begin with the observation that the canonical texts of the Jews reject the norms of Mediterranean culture--pervasive institutions of social reciprocity, a profound concern with honor, etc.--a disposition shared with Athenian democracy, philosophical sects, and some "mystery religions". The texts prescribe instead a society based on dependence on God and corporate solidarity. But such a vision was necessarily at odds with a life shaped by harsh economic conditions. I propose to examine three texts--Ben Sira, Josephus, Palestinian Talmud--to see what their accommodations can tell us about ancient Jewish social life.