Hellenism in Palestine as a Cultural Force and its Influence on the Jews, Martin Hengel, Judaism and Hellenism, Fortress Press, Philadelphia 1974.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
I. The Greek Language in Palestinian Judaism
a) The penetration of the Greek language into Palestine
The bond which held the Hellenistic world together despite the fragmentation which began with the death of Alexander and continued thereafter, was Attic koinē. Its sphere of influence went far beyond that of Aramaic, the official language of the Persian kingdom. Greek merchants dealt in it, whether in Bactria on the border of India or in Massilia; laws were promulgated in it and treaties concluded in accordance with a uniform basic scheme; it was the language of both diplomats and men of letters; and anyone who sought social respect or even the reputation of being an educated man had to have an impeccable command of it. The word hellēnízein primarily meant ‘speak Greek correctly’, and only secondarily ‘adopt a Greek style of life’. Impeccable command of the Greek language was the most important qualification for taking over Greek culture. The final establishment and dissemination of the koinē was probably the most valuable and the most permanent fruit of Alexander’s expedition. The way in which it dominated public and economic life in Egypt as virtually the only written language is shown by the Zeno correspondence. Among its approximately two thousand items, very few are in Demotic, and there is not one single piece of writing in Aramaic, although Jews, Idumeans, Syrians and Arabs (= Nabateans) are mentioned often enough; we have hardly two or three Aramaic or Hebrew writings from Jews in Egypt between 300 BC and AD 300. In Palestine, the triumphal progress of Greek makes an impressive showing in inscriptions. It is no coincidence that if we disregard later Nabatean inscriptions in Transjordania and the typically Jewish tomb, ossuary and synagogue inscriptions, which rest upon a certain national self-awareness, from the third century BC we find almost exclusively Greek inscriptions in Palestine. This is true, to mention only the demonstrably early evidence of the third and second century BC, of official texts in honour of Ptolemy IV Philopator in Marisa and Joppa or of the great warning inscription with letters of Antiochus III and Seleucus IV from Hephzibah in Scythopolis as it is of the religious inscriptions in Ptolemais, Scythopolis, Samaria and Marisa or of the tomb inscriptions in Gaza, Marisa and now also in Shechem. Indeed, even graffiti were often written in Greek. To this extent the official language was dominant in the public life of the non-Jewish cities of Palestine. Outside the sphere of Judaism the principle could probably very soon be applied that anyone who could read and write also had a command of Greek. Aramaic became the language of the illiterate, who needed no written remembrances. Weak beginnings of a non-Jewish, Aramaic literature only started to develop in the Byzantine-Christian period, when the significance of Greek in comparison with local vernaculars receded into the background. Here the Hellenization of the non-Jewish parts of Palestine seems to have been even stronger than that of Phoenicia, where a whole series of Phoenician inscriptions exists from the Hellenistic period, and where even local coins were minted with two languages, a sign that the national consciousness of the Phoenicians was still alive, despite the Hellenistic varnish.
The situation in Judea is illuminated by the letters of the Jew Tobias to Apollonius and the king himself, which were all written in excellent Greek and beautiful handwriting by his Greek secretary in 257 BC. A Jewish soldier son of Ananias appears as ‘guarantor’ alongside some pure Greeks, as a witness in a purchase arrangement concluded in the ‘birta’ of Tobias; he too will have known Greek. Since Tobias was the commander of a cleruchy with Greek troops, it is further probable that he himself spoke Greek; his son Joseph certainly received a thorough education in Greek, as is shown by his success in the court in Alexandria- the important office of general tax farmer for ‘Syria and Palestine’ would not have been entrusted to an uneducated barbarian. It is said explicitly of the grandchildren of Tobias that their father Joseph sent them ‘one after the other to the famous teachers of the time’, though Greek education seems to have been really successful only with the youngest of them, Hyrcanus; he went on to be Joseph’s representative at the celebration of the birth of the heir to the throne at the court in Alexandria. The grandchildren of Tobias and their sons later formed the nucleus of that party of Hellenists in Jerusalem who wanted to turn the city into a Greek polis. The high priest and the financial administrator of the temple will also have had impeccable Greek¬-speaking and Greek-writing secretaries for their correspondence with Ptolemaic offices and the court. If one goes on to include members of the Ptolemaic garrison, officials and merchants, even the Jerusalem of the third century BC may be assumed to have had a considerable Greek-speaking minority.
Clearchus of Soli records the meeting of Aristotle with a Greek-educated Palestinian Jew from Judea in Asia Minor about 345 BC. Although this report is unhistorical, we may conclude from it that at the time of Clearchus, about the middle of the third century BC, there were Jews from Palestine to whom the description that ‘he was a Greek not only in his language but also in his soul’ could be applied with some degree of accuracy. The same is true of the Letter of Aristeas. According to that, the high priest chose for the translation of the Torah into Greek six men from each tribe who were distinguished by their ‘paideia’ and ‘not only had a mastery of Jewish literature, but had also acquired a thorough knowledge of Greek’. This report of 72 Jews knowing Greek at the time of Philadelphus may be an exaggeration, but we can conclude that at the time of the composition of the letter in the second half of the second century BC a knowledge of Greek could be taken for granted among Palestinian Jews of the aristocracy. Moreover, the books of Maccabees clearly show that not only the members of the Hellenistic party but also many supporters of Judas and his brothers had a command of Greek- this is the only way in which the embassies to Rome and Sparta and the tedious negotiations with the Syrian rulers are conceivable. There was no stopping the penetration of the Greek language even in Jewish Palestine, and the young Jew who wanted to rise a stage above the mass of the simple people had to learn it. This process was strengthened by contacts with the Diaspora in Egypt, Asia Minor and the Aegean, above all after the temple in Jerusalem attracted more and more festival pilgrims from there. The significance of Jerusalem grew with the growth of the western Diaspora, though it continued to remain the centre of world Judaism, now predominantly Greek-speaking. There was no break in this development even as a result of the Maccabean revolt, but it was furthered because after Jewish independence had been won, the Hasmoneans followed a quite deliberate policy of influencing the Diaspora, which was then continued by Herod. It could not fail to affect the Jews in Palestine. From the second century BC onwards we can trace the beginnings of a Graeco-Jewish literature in Palestine (see below, pp.88-102). Finally, one need only mention the many Greek inscriptions in Jerusalem, which only in part derive from those who had returned from the Diaspora- they do belong, though, for the most part to the later period between Herod and AD 70. Probably the earliest Greek inscription from Jerusalem is a graffito from the magnificent tomb of Jason, decked with drawings of ships. The tomb comes from the time of Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 BC, and the graffito is composed in the style of the Hellenistic epitaph with the motto ‘Enjoy life’.
Greek loanwords give a further indication of the penetration of Greek. It is true that they are extraordinarily rare in Old Testament literature- in addition to the ‘drachmae’, already mentioned, we find ‘appiryōn in the Song of Songs, which is perhaps derived from the Greek, phoreîon ‘sedan chair’, and the various musical instruments in Dan. 3. A deliberate purism based on religious and nationalistic grounds may be the reason why neither Sirach nor the extra¬biblical Qumran texts have any Greek loanwords; conversely, the Greek papyri of Egypt and the koinē in general have hardly any ‘barbaric’ foreign words. On the other hand, even the Essenes, who had a very critical attitude towards the Greek world, could not get by without the Greek language, as is shown by the Greek papyrus fragments found in Qumran, which include fragments of the Septuagint. It was required of the ‘overseer of the camp’, among other things, that he ‘was familiar with all the languages of the families (living in the camp)’, and this surely included Greek. A similar demand was made in the Talmud of members of the Sanhedrin, ‘so that they were not compelled to use an interpreter’. Unlike literary Hebrew, popular Aramaic or Hebrew constantly adopted new Greek loanwords, as is shown by the language of the Mishnaic and Talmudic literature. While it reflects the situation at a later period, its origins go back well before the Christian era. The collection of the loanwords in the Mishna to be found in Schürer shows the areas in which Hellenistic influence first became visible- military matters, state administration and legislature, trade and commerce, clothing and household utensils, and not least in building. The so-called copper scroll with its utopian list of treasures also contains a series of Greek loanwords. When towards the end of the first century BC, Hillel in practice repealed the regulation of the remission of debts in the sabbath year (Deut. 15.1-11) by the possibility of a special reservation on the part of the creditor, this reservation was given a Greek name introduced into Palestinian legal language- perōzebbōl = προσβολή, a sign that even at that time legal language was shot through with Greek.
b) The advance of Greek names
One measure of the advance of the Greek language is the introduction of Greek names. The first traces of this go back to the time before Alexander. Just as prominent Phoenicians, e.g. Strato, king of Sidon, had a Greek form of name, so too the last ‘Persian’ governor of Samaria, Sanballat, seems to have given his daughter the Greek name Nikaso. She married Manasseh, the son of the Jewish high priest. After the Macedonian conquest, the Phoenicians in particular, being more open to Greek culture than hitherto, took over Greek names. We know Philocles son of Apollodorus (Rešephiatan), the last king of Sidon and admiral of Demetrius Poliorcetes and Ptolemy II Philadelphus. After his death Sidon went over to a democratic constitution, and in PZenMich 3 we hear of an ‘archōn’ Theodotus, who sends the dioikētēs Apollonius a present. In a bill which speaks among other things of Gaza, incense and myrrh, and is thus connected with the trade in aromatics, a Zenodorus appears whose father still had the good Semitic name Abbaeus (’abbā or ’abba’y). The double name was an intermediate stage in the Graecizing of names- for dealings with Greeks and on journeys a man had a Greek name, while at home and among Semites he had a Semitic name.
Graeco-Phoenician bilingual evidence of the third century connects Šama‘ba‘al with Diopeithes, Benhodeš with Noumenius, ‘Abdtanit with Artemidorus, ‘Abdšemeš with Heliodorus; an Ashkelonite ’Abd’aštart calls himself Aphrodisius, two Tyrian brothers on Malta, ’Abd’osir and ’Osiršamar, are called Dionysius and Sarapion, like their father and grandfather. Here the giving of names indicates the syncretistic interpretatio graeca of the native gods.
The contamination of Greek and Semitic divine names is striking in Panabelus, the name of a travelling companion of Zeno in Palestine, or a formation like Patrobala, from the tomb inscriptions of Marisa on the Judaeo-Idumean border- the ending Baal was so obvious that it was not always Hellenized. In the tomb inscriptions of Marisa from the end of the third century BC we find a motley mixture of Phoenician, Idumaean and above all Greek names, with a clear trend towards Hellenization- the Phoenician Sesmaius gave his son the name Apollophanes; the latter was then’ archōn’ of the Sidonian politeuma in Marisa for thirty-three years, his son had the same name and a granddaughter was called Demetria. However, a sister of Apollophanes had the Idumean name Sabo, and a brother was called Ammo(n)ius in Egyptian-Hellenistic manner. Ammo(n)ius named a son Kosnatanus after the Idumean God Kos (see below, p.261, n.27); he called his sons Babas and Babatas in Jewish-Idumean fashion, and a daughter, once again, Sabo. Alongside the great family of Sesmaius we find the Phoenician Meerbaal, who called his son Demetrius, who in turn had a descendant Ortas, bearing a Macedonian name. The Phoenician Zenodorus had a son Antagoras; Kosbanus, presumably an Idumean, was father of Callicrates, who again named his son Kosbanus after his grandfather. Another Idumean, Zabbaeus, had two sons Apollodorus and Ammonius. In tomb IV, which, according to Peters and Thiersch, was not one of the tombs of the Sidonian colony, what is perhaps a Jewish name, Sarya, appears among predominantly Greek women’s names like Irene, Berenice, Demetria, daughter of Philo, and Aristeia. Two other names which are possibly Jewish appear among the inscriptions of the special tomb V published by F. M. Abel; apart from a certain Σαλαμ (ψ) (for Σαλαμψω) and Naoυμα (feminine form of Nahum), it probably contains the names of female slaves who come from the region between eastern Asia Minor and the Caspian sea. On the whole, the tomb inscriptions, composed throughout in Greek, together with the names, point to a very high degree of Hellenization in Marisa for the period from the end of the third century to the conquest of the city about 110 BC by John Hyrcanus, a finding which is also confirmed by the tomb paintings and inscriptions elsewhere. Conditions in the capital of Idumea are certainly to be understood as a parallel phenomenon to the Hellenizing tendencies in Jerusalem at the beginning of the second century BC, as it was a bare twenty-five miles away. It is interesting that the Idumean ancestors of Herod presumably descended from the Hellenized aristocracy of this city. Greek names like ‘Melantheus’ are also found in the similar, but simpler rock tombs in Samaritan Shechem, which come from the Hellenistic period. Perhaps they are connected with the Sidonian colony in Shechem. A pottery fragment from the same place from the time between 250 and 150 BC, engraved before the firing of the vessel, has a long inscription in which the name Simonide(s) is still legible; perhaps this is the Graecizing of the Hebrew Simeon.
Little can be said about Jewish names in Palestine during the third century BC, as we have very little Judeo-Palestinian material from this period. How¬ever, circumstances in Egypt are very illuminating- whereas the many Jews mentioned in the Aramaic P. Cowley 81 towards 310 BC have almost exclusively Hebrew names, fifty to a hundred years later we find predominantly Greek names among the Jews of the Egyptian Diaspora. In an agreement of April 260 BC we come across the Jewish soldier Alexander, son of Andronicus; a trial account from 226 BC reports on the dispute between the Jew Dositheus and the Jewess Heraclea; a complaint of 210 BC and an agreement of 201 BC mention nine Jews in all, all of whom have Greek or – in one case – Egyptian names and patronyms. Only about twenty-five per cent of the Jewish military settlers mentioned in the papyri have Jewish names; in reality the percentage is still lower, as Jewish bearers of Greek names can only be recognized by the addition of ‘Ioudaios’, and that was by no means always made. ‘The common life in the camps and military settlements, as well as in mixed military units, brought about a rapid adoption of Greek names and customs.’ Typically Jewish names are rather more frequent in the second century BC, presumably because the Jewish military settlers at that time settled more in self-contained groups; perhaps the national sensibility aroused by the Maccabean revolt also made itself felt in Egypt. A certain tendency towards double names or altering an original Hebrew name can also be demonstrated, whether this came about through translation, assonance, or quite freely, without any visible connection with the old name. Even pagan theophorous names were not excluded, as in a will of 238/7 BC, which mentions an Apoll(odorus?…) hòs kaì Suristì Ionathâs [kaleîtai…]. The theophorous names of Daniel and his companions in Babylonia show that people were not so sensitive on this point in the early Hellenistic period. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of people in the Egyptian Diaspora – like the Jews in Palestine – remained true to the faith of their fathers; this is clear from the fact that in a comparison of all Jewish names, the theophorous names Dositheus – which was used almost exclusively by Jews – and Theodotus stand at the head by a long way. This may be taken as a kind of confession of the one God in pagan surroundings. The most striking instance of this kind is the Jewish slave Antigone, freed in Delphi in 158/157 BC, with her daughters Theodora and Dorothea. There is certainly an intrinsic connection between the rapid Hellenizing of the Jews of Egypt attested by the names and the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek, which also took place in the same century. The first synagogue inscriptions from the time of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 BC) are naturally composed in Greek.
From the moment when the sources for Palestine Judaism become fuller, with the books of Maccabees, we come across an abundance of Greek names. It is clear that the tendency to adopt them did not begin with Antiochus IV, but had been at work even earlier. The first to carry a name which, if not Greek, at least sounded Greek to Jewish ears, was – as far as we can see – Hyrcanus the Tobiad, son of the tax farmer Joseph. Antigonus of Socho, who according to ’Ab.1, 3 received the Torah ‘from Simon the Just’, high priest and father of Onias III and Jason, is one of the early figures with a Greek name to appear in Jerusalem about the end of the third century BC. This is all the more striking as he did not come from Jerusalem, but from a small country town some fifteen miles south-west of Jerusalem. The fathers of the ambassadors sent by Jonathan and Simon to Sparta or Rome, Numenius son of Antiochus, Antipater son of Jason and Alexander son of Dorotheus, may similarly have been born before the turn of the century. John, of the priestly family of Haqqōs, who negotiated with Antiochus III, presumably in Antioch, after 200 BC over the philánthropa basiliká for the Jews, called his son Eupolemus. Under Judas, Eupolemus later led the first embassy to Rome, perhaps with Jason, mentioned above, and presumably distinguished himself as a Jewish history writer in the Greek language. According to II Macc. 14.19, the parliamentarians who sent Nicanor to Judas for peace negotiations included a Theodotus and a Mattathias; perhaps this too was a person with a double name. Two Maccabean cavalry officers in Transjordania, who probably belonged earlier to the cleruchy of the Tobiads in Transjordania (see below, pp.275f.), bore the names Dositheus and Sosi¬pater. This tendency did not cease even during the Hasmonean period. A certain Lysimachus son of Ptolemy – presumably here, as in the case of Antiochus, who has already been mentioned, the names were at the same time political confessions – translated the book of Esther into Greek in Jerusalem; a priest Dositheus and his son Ptolemy then brought the work to Egypt, prob¬ably in the year 78/77 BC. Mention should finally be made of Jeshua-Jason, the leader of the Hellenist party, the brothers Menelaus and Lysimachus, and the later high priest Eliakim-Alcimus; their Greek names were by no means extraordinary, but rather corresponded to a general tendency of nomenclature in the Jewish aristocracy, no matter whether persons were pro¬-Hellenist or pro-Maccabean. Among the seventy-two Palestinian elders, the Letter of Aristeas lists men with Greek names like Theodosius (three times), Theodotus, Theophilus, Dositheus and Jason (twice). Even if it is a Jewish¬-Alexandrian fiction, it would hardly have given individual Palestinians Greek names if this had not happened at the time. Even the Hasmoneans again bore Hebrew/Greek double names after the second and third generations, i.e. after John Hyrcanus, his brother-in-law Ptolemy son of Abub, and his sons Jehuda-Aristobulus, Antigonus and Alexander Jannaeus. Finally, it is certainly no coincidence that in the Hellenistic-Roman period up to about AD 200 the name Simeon-Simon is used most frequently in Palestine. First, it matched the strong national consciousness, for the last of the Maccabean brothers had borne it; secondly, however, it was easily assimilable, as it was almost identical with the Greek name Simon. The ambiguity which becomes evident in the popularity of this name is typical of Jewish history throughout this whole period.
2. Greek Education and Culture and Palestinian Judaism
a) Hellenism as a force in education
The Hellenistic period was a period of education. Thus H. I. Marrou defined Hellenism, in contrast to the preceding ‘civilization of the πόλις’ and the later ‘civilization of the city of God’, i.e. the later Byzantine and medieval Christian empire, as ‘a civilization of paideia’. Some time before Alexander, Isocrates had already broken through the old prejudices of the Greeks towards the ‘barbarians’ which had existed above all since the Persian wars and were still defended by Aristotle, in a revolutionary formulation-
The designation ‘Hellene’ seems no longer to be a matter of descent but of disposition, and those who share in our education have more right to be called Hellenes than those who have a common descent with us.
Even if Isocrates was also setting out to express the intellectual superiority of Athens here, we can see in his words the conception of a ‘universal concept of culture’ pertaining to every man, which for him was identical with the Greek paideia. A century later, under Stoic influence and in a defence of Alexander, Eratosthenes made the further proposal that men should no longer be classed as Greeks or barbarians, but according to aretē/ and kakía, ‘for in the one the sense of right and community, of education (paideía) and eloquence prevails, and in the other the contrary’. Thus the Hellenistic epoch produced a new picture of man, and the key concept in it was paideia. Varro and Cicero were not wrong in later translating paideia as humanitas.
Alexander’s victorious expedition gave new possibilities to the idea of ‘Greeks by paideia’. The Graeco-Macedonian soldiers, officials and merchants planted their customary institutions of education, the Greek school and above all the gymnasium – ‘il n’existe… pas d’institution plus typiquement grecque’ – in the newly-conquered areas of the East. Both institutions developed predominantly on a private and at best on a communal basis. Direct evidence for the Seleucid sphere is relatively limited, but for Ptolemaic Egypt the sources are considerably richer. Here we have the indirect evidence of school papyri for the elementary school, and the overwhelming mass of Greek literary papyri from the chōra, which point to a widespread intellectual interest among the Greek-educated population, show that this private institution, so difficult to reconstruct from the sources, did not lack success. The best-known school papyrus, a handbook of instruction, comes from the third century BC and is typical of a conservative form of instruction, quite uninfluenced by the Egyptian homeland. The gymnasia, which en¬countered strong public interest, appear more frequently, partly in applications made to state offices and also in inscriptions. Like the elementary schools, they were to be found not only in the cities but even in larger villages, i.e., every¬where that Greeks settled in self-contained groups. The sponsoring body was as a rule an association, but often they were based on private foundations. School and gymnasium together gave the Greek minority support against the threat of assimilation to the ‘barbarian’ environment; they were ‘the basis on which Greek culture was built up’. Here generation upon generation of the foreign ruling class received its traditional Greek education and life-style, which bound together all Greeks far beyond the boundaries of the world¬-empires. For political reasons, in Egypt even in Roman times strict precautions were taken to exclude native Egyptians as far as possible from the gymnasium and to accept only the sons of Greek parents, whose fathers had themselves passed through the gymnasium. Nevertheless, above all in the Ptolemaic period, from time to time individual Egyptians succeeded in rising into the preferential class of Hellenes. Non-Greek foreigners were in a better position- prominent Persians and Jews, above all from the ranks of the military settlers, could gain access to the leading upper class by way of Greek education and the gymnasium. The remarkable and probably historically unique fusion of Jewish and Hellenistic culture in Alexandria from the third century BC is only understandable on the grounds of the unhindered access of Egyptian Jews to the treasures of Greek education. Here the gymnasium became an important point of transition.
Instruction in the ‘Greek school’ was presumably divided into three age groups- school age from about 7 to 14/15, followed by the period of the ephebate which lasted one or two years, which was the real time of training in the gymnasium, dominated above all by physical exercise and also a degree of military training. This was in turn followed by the stage of the ‘young men’, who continued their instruction in the gymnasium until about the age of twenty. Former pupils continued contacts with their place of education by means of associations. The honorary director of the gymnasium, the gymnasiarch, was one of the most important city dignitaries, as a rule a rich citizen who could contribute to the support of the institution from his own means. At the same time, the gymnasium was also always one of the central places of public life. Instead of examinations and reports in our sense, the constant competitions served as an effective stimulus; these were not just limited to sports, but also included literary skills. Literary instruction, which at least in the earlier period took third place behind physical training and musical education, was concentrated on one language, the Greek mother-tongue, and on one – it might almost be called the canonical – book, the epic work of Homer, especially the Iliad; at a higher level of instruction the later classic writers of ‘canonical’ status were also taken up. For example, the school book from the third century BC, mentioned above, contains among other things an elegy on the consecration of a temple of Homer by Ptolemy IV Philopator, together with a fragment of the Odyssey and Euripides’ Phoenician Women. The very idea of constant competition, the ‘agonistic ideal of life’, basically goes back to Homer-
aièn aristeúein kaì hupeírokhon émmenai állōn.
Despite all locally conditioned differences, Greek education, which hardly changed from the beginning of the Hellenistic age, maintained down the centuries a ‘remarkable unity and steadfastness’. It preserved its con¬servative traits and educated the young ‘Hellenes’ in a very uniform way. If its original aim, the training of a responsible citizen of the polis, had been suppressed in the Hellenistic monarchies, it still shaped the self-awareness of members of the Greek ruling class- ‘Its overall object was to fashion the ideal of Greek gentlemen’. In this way – not least because of its slant towards sport and because its spiritual foundation was rooted in the chivalrous ideals of the Homeric world – it acquired an expressly aristocratic character- and after hesitation at some unusual manifestations, like the competition of naked youths in the palaestra, had been overcome, it could also exercise a stronger attraction over the youths of subject peoples than the educational ideal of the oriental scribe, which was predominantly directed towards religious attitudes and traditional ‘wisdom’. ‘Whereas Greek education was designed to produce gentlemen amateurs, Eastern education was designed to perpetuate a guild of professional scribes.’
It is commonly stressed that the Greeks could contribute nothing to the peoples of the East in the sphere of religion, but rather that they themselves were to an increasing extent the receivers. This view pays too little attention to the influence of the Greek school. Constant reading of Homer kept alive knowledge of Greek mythology, and favoured the interpretatio graeca of the Oriental world of the gods. Moreover, the gymnasium possessed its own guardian deities, Hermes, Heracles and the muses, and the countless festivals and competitions of the Greeks had a thoroughly religious character. Young people at school played an important role in the feasts to honour the gods of the city, and in the Hellenistic monarchies the ruler cult gained overwhelming significance in the gymnasia in particular; it was the culmination of the tendency to revere human heroes and benefactors as gods, which began at an early stage in the gymnasium. Much as freedom of religious conviction was allowed in the Greek polis, people could be very intolerant with their own citizens in questions of the official cult. At least the Jew exposed to Hellenism in the Diaspora could come up against difficulties if he wanted to undergo education in the gymnasium or acquire citizenship of his native town. In a petition from Ionian cities to Marcus Agrippa between 16 and 13 BC the citizens demanded that Jews should ‘give up their claim to equal rights, for ‘if the Jews really belonged to them, they would also reverence their gods’- ei suggeneîs eisin autoîs Ioudaîoi, sébesthai toùs autôn theoús. Similarly, Apion asked the Jews who laid claim to citizenship of Alexandria- ‘quomodo ergo… si sunt cives, eosdem deos quos Alexandrini non colunt?’ The legendary III Maccabees reports that the Jews who allowed themselves to be initiated into the mysteries of Dionysus were honoured for their action with the citizenship of Alexandria, and that some could not resist this allure. Even if the framework of this book is for the most part unhistorical, the temptation to apostasy for political advantage may point back to a particular historical situation. On the whole, the Jews of the Diaspora remained constant in face of these claims and temptations, but the inscription of the second century BC from Iasus in Ionia, according to which a ‘Nicetas son of Jason from Jerusalem’ contributed 100 drachmas for a feast of Dionysus, shows that they had to be very generous – above all in the early period, before the promulgation of privileges for the Jews by Caesar and his successors. As far as the education of their sons was concerned, the Jewish upper class in the Diaspora was ready on occasion to compromise with the polytheistic basic tendency of gymnasium instruction, as is shown by the way in which Jewish names keep appearing in the lists of ephebes of Greek cities, which usually end with a formula of dedication to Hermes and Heracles. However, this is not to be taken without qualification as an evasion of Jewish belief; partly, it is also a sign that the Judaism of the Diaspora had won an inner self-assurance over against its polytheistic environment. The Letter of Aristeas, about 140 BC, with its frequent stress on the educational ideal of the kalok’agathía, so loved in the gymnasium, already shows that this had been accepted and acknowledged by the Jewish upper class in Alexandria. Philo, too, took it for granted that well-to-do Jews would be educated at the gymnasium. The account of Josephus suggests that Jews were admitted to gymnasium education in Seleucid Antioch- he says that they laid claim to the official distribution of oil by the gymnasiarch; however, they could have received the equivalent in money. The view of S. Applebaum in his controversy with V. Tcherikover, that gymnasium education ‘must have been purchased with the betrayal of Judaism’, is, however, probably too sweeping. In Sardes in the second to fourth century AD, the great synagogue appears ‘seemingly as an integral part of the city gymnasium’, and thus in practice formed a building-¬complex with it. Prominent Jews proudly called themselves ‘Sardianos’, i.e. citizen of Sardes, and some of them were city councillors. The place of the synagogue probably goes back to a gift of the city to the Jews in the first century BC (Antt. 14, 260f.). When by his famous letter of AD 41 Claudius finally deprived the sons of the Jewish aristocracy of entry to the gymnasium in Alexandria, which they coveted, and hence of the right to Alexandrian (and Roman) citizenship, it was a bitter blow against the leaders of Alexandrian Judaism and led the way to the rebellion and the annihilation of the Jewish Diaspora in Egypt in AD 115-117.
The normal course of Greek education communicated an ‘ésprit de corps’ and a marked self-awareness in the face of the barbarian environment, but hardly a comprehensive knowledge of great literature or even philosophy; here pupils were at best informed about certain fashions that were dominant. Whether a person wanted to go beyond the normal course of education ¬which was itself already something of a selection – and to continue his studies until he had acquired a real egkúklios paideía was left to his individual financial and intellectual capacity. There will in any case have been very few who devoted themselves to a more thorough study of rhetoric, philosophy or other special disciplines. The best basis for such a more thorough ‘university study’ was provided in the early Hellenistic period by Alexandria. It was of decisive significance for later Jewish and Christian intellectual history that the first Ptolemies succeeded in making this city – which was so easily accessible from Palestine – into the spiritual centre of the Hellenistic world, and in this area too in achieving an absolute superiority over the Seleucid rulers. In this way Alexandria exercised tremendous attraction not only as the greatest mercantile metropolis, but also as the centre of science and the arts. The intellectual elite of the Greek-speaking Jews of Egypt could not escape this influence. They developed their own learned tradition, which lasted over several centuries – probably a unique phenomenon in the history of the Graeco-Roman world. The first stimulus towards this surely came from the translation of the Torah made under Ptolemy II Philadelphus, probably primarily for liturgical usage (see below, p. 102); the first representative we can note was Demetrius, who wrote a chronological work on ‘the kings of the Jews’ in a learned Alexandrian style, under Ptolemy IV Philopator, 222-204 BC. In this he was following the tracks of Manetho and Berossus, who had treated Egyptian and Babylonian history in a similar way before him; the goal which all had in common was to demonstrate the considerable age of the national tradition. He was followed in the second century by the historical romancers like Artapanus and Cleodemus Malchus, or by poets who dealt with historical themes like the older Philo, the Samaritan Theodotus, Ezekiel the tragedian and – with an apocalyptic slant – the author of the earliest Jewish Sibyllines. With the exception of Demetrius, they all elaborated quite considerably the material of Jewish history which they treated, and did not disdain to use even the colours of Greek mythology or at least the archaic language of classical models. In addition there were more serious historians like Aristeas, Ps.-Hecataeus and Jason of Cyrene, and the first beginnings of philosophical writing in Aristobulus (see below, pp. 110ff.), the Letter of Pseudo-Aristeas and the Wisdom of Solomon, which was composed in the first century BC. As the numerous fragments, mostly spurious, of Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod, Heraclitus, Aeschylus, etc., show, writers had their own views on monotheistic belief in creation or the sacred number seven confirmed by classical authorities. This writing, which is usually designated apologetic or missionary literature, served only exceptionally, however – as with Aristobulus –, to defend Judaism to the outside world; rather, it met the particular needs of a Greek-speaking Jewish readership with an intellectual interest. It was supplemented by an abundance of translations of a more popular kind from Palestinian literature. Even in the mother country, an express need for a wider selection of reading material will have made itself felt as early as the Persian and early Hellenistic period (see below pp. 110ff.). The Greek learned world, on the other hand, did not bother much either with the Septuagint – the creation account was, perhaps, an exception (see below, p. 261, n.24) – or with Hellenistic Jewish writings. The special exception of the collector of curiosities, Alexander Polyhistor, only proves the rule. Only with Philo and Josephus do we meet an apologetic deliberately aimed at outsiders. It is likely that the influences of the literati and learned men inspired by the genius of Ptolemaic Alexandria were not limited to Egypt, but also extended to nearby Judea. There too, the Greek language had made an entry since the middle of the third century BC, and in addition the themes of Jewish¬-Alexandrian literature frequently reflect their close connection of the author with the mother country and the holy city. So from the beginning of the second century we can find the first signs of a native literature in the Greek language in Alexandria itself (see below, pp. 88ff.). It may be assumed that the connections between Jerusalem and Alexandria were also of a cultural kind, and we cannot exclude the possibility that individual gifted sons of the Jerusalem aristocracy, like young Syrians from the Hellenized Palestinian cities, at some time pursued rhetorical studies in Alexandria or other intellectual centres of the Hellenistic world.
b) Greek education and culture in Palestine and its influence on Judaism
The earliest account of the establishment of a gymnasium in Syria and Palestine – leaving aside the mention of a gymnasium in Antioch on the Orontes from the middle of the third century BC – is the narrative in the two books of Maccabees about the foundation of a gymnasium and the ephebate associated with it in Jerusalem, in 175 BC. From a later period, too, we have only quite isolated evidence about gymnasia, for example the report of Josephus that Herod had built gymnasia in Damascus, Ptolemais-Acco and Tripolis at his own expense – presumably developing older institutions, a Graeco-Phoenician bilingual inscription from Aradus, which mentions the gymnasiarchs, Hermes and Heracles, and an inscription which is difficult to decipher and date from Philadelphia, which probably reports the honouring of a gymnasiarch devoted to the cult of Heracles by the council and citizens of the place. Finally, we have the archaeological discovery of the gymnasium of Petra built at the end of the period.
Alongside these and other more or less chance accounts of gymnasia in the Seleucid kingdom, e.g. in Babylon, where Antiochus IV is named as ktistēs, there is indirect evidence, above all the inscriptions which report victories of Phoenician competitors in games in the Greek mother country.
As early as 270 BC an inscription from Delos mentions the Sidonian Sillis and the Byblian Timocrates as victors in the boxing. The ‘sufet’ (dikastē/s) Diotimus is celebrated in Sidon, his home city, towards 200 BC, with a skilful Greek verse inscription, as victor in the Pan-Hellenic Nemean chariot race in Argos, to which in principle only ‘Hellenes’ were admitted. The poem therefore explicitly stresses the mythological affinity between Argives, Thebans and Phoenicians. An undated but probably contemporaneous inscription praises another Diotimus son of Abdubastius, who was victor in the wrestling under the agōnothesia of Apollophanes son of Abdyzomunus in the competition in Sidon in honour of Delphian Apollo. Phoenicians are mentioned relatively frequently in the inscriptions of honour of the Pan-Athenian games in Athens- in 191 BC (or 182/181) the Sidonian Poseidonius son of Polemarchus won in the double race; his countryman Lysanias son of Theodorus followed in 184 BC as victor in the chariot race, and at the same time a Hieron from Phoenician Laodicea was victor in the horse racing. Tyrians, too, were successful, in 180 BC a Dioscorides in the boxing, and in one case a citizen from Ptolemais, perhaps Phoenician Acco. Phoenicians even distinguished themselves in musical festivals in Greece, like the Sidonian Strato son of Strato, as kitharistēs in the Museia in Thespiae in Boeotia.
Although they were at home in their ancestral language and maintained the traditional religious and political institutions, these Phoenicians competed as ‘Hellenes’ in their own right; not only did they have a command of the Greek language, but they had also undergone a gymnasium education and observed the rules of the contests as well as the Greeks of the mother country. Thus there will have been gymnasia not only in the Phoenician cities, but also in the larger Palestinian cities, especially in those which derived from Macedonian—Greek military colonies. When Jason-Jeshua, in addition to the office of high priest, also purchased permission to ‘establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth for it’ in Jerusalem and ‘to enrol the men of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch’, he had these examples in mind. Indeed his Jewish compatriots in Egypt had long had the possibility, if they belonged to the upper social strata of the populace, of obtaining equal rights to the Greeks by Greek education and training in the gymnasium and, like, e.g., the royal hypomnēmatographos Dositheus son of Drimylus, of rising to the highest offices of the state.
Even the Phoenicians on the coast were well advanced here in comparison with ‘backward’ Jerusalem; they could regard themselves as ‘Hellenes’ of a special kind whose culture was older than that of Greece and from whom had descended mythical figures of Greek primeval time like Europa, Andromeda – who was associated with the Palestinian port of Joppa – and above all Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. A line of descent was also constructed in the reverse direction- Agenor, the first king of Sidon and father of Cadmus and – according to some mythographers – of Andromeda, was said in turn to have been a son of Phoronis, king of Argos. Zenodotus the Stoic, otherwise unknown, expressed this high reputation of Phoenicia in an epigram on Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoa-
If Phoenicia bore you, who will find it fault?
Cadmus, from whom Greece learnt writing, was also a Phoenician.
Ei dè pátra Phoínissa, tís ho phthónos; ên kaì ho Kádmos
Keînos, aph’ hoû graptàn Hellas ékhei selída.
Diog. Laert. 7, 30 = Anth. Gr. 7, 117
The legend of the affinity between Jews and Spartans, which surely goes back well into pre-Maccabean times, shows that even the Jews were interested in supporting their claims to equal rights with such primeval associations with Greece. Speculations of this kind were helped on by the fact that there was a certain analogy between the Jews and the Spartans with their strict laws, their lawgivers Moses and Lycurgus, and the divine authorization on Sinai or through Delphian Apollo. Just as the Jews, even according to the first Greek account of Hecataeus of Abdera, led a misóxenon bon, so according to Herodotus the Lacedaemonians were regarded as xenoîsi aprósmeiktoi, and while Lycurgus, the Spartan ‘lawgiver’, was designated friend of Zeus (Zēnì phílos) by the oracle at Delphi, so according to Exod.33.11, God talked with Moses ‘as with a friend’. It is certainly no coincidence that Jason, author of the Hellenistic reform in Jerusalem, ended his life in Sparta. The reform party in particular seems to have had a quite special interest in this affinity, so that the origin of the legend is presumably to be sought in their circles. Possibly it goes back to an elaboration of the note in Gen. 25.1-4 on the sons of Keturah. Here, too, we again have parallels from Phoenicia and Asia Minor- Tyrian writing preserved as an inscription in Delphi claims that the people of Delphi are similarly kin (suggeneîs), and a series of cities in south-west Asia Minor claimed – without historical basis – to be Lacedaemonian colonies. All these instances are fundamentally cases of ‘entrance tickets into European culture’.
With his apparently revolutionary step, Jason was by no means treading a solitary course; according to the parallel report in I Macc. 1.11ff., an influential group with a considerable following were behind him-
In those days men came forth from Israel who were lawless (paránomoi) and misled many (anépeisan polloús), saying- ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about (diathō/metha diathē/kēn metà tôn ethnôn tôn kúkloi hēmôn), for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.’ This proposal pleased them, and some of the people declared themselves ready to go to the king. He authorized them to introduce the ordinances (tà dikaiō/mata) of the Greeks. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, had the foreskin restored, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.
This bold decision of Jason and the men behind him was not just an offence against ‘Jewish popular custom’, as I. Heinemann thought in his critical discussion of the theses of E. Bickermann, but a decisive change of course in the development of the Jewish temple state, an attempt to do away with the result of five hundred years of Israelite and Jewish history. The aim of this step, in which the initiative clearly came from the aristocracy in Jerusalem sympathetic to the Greeks, with the Oniad Jason, son of Simon the Just, at their head, was complete and final bridge-building with Hellenistic culture and the incorporation of the Jewish upper strata into the privileged class of ‘Hellenes’, i.e. those with Greek education. For this purpose, everything that separated the Jews from their more progressive neighbours and had earned them the charge of hostility to foreigners had to be pushed into the background (see below, p.261). Despite this decisive reorientation, Jason must have found many enthusiastic supporters in his undertaking. At first we hear nothing about the unrest or the resistance of the pious- presumably most of the citizens of Jerusalem were on his side, a sign that this development had been on the way for some time. The best young men of the Jerusalem nobility (toùs kratístous tôn ephē/bōn) followed him; the high priest, gymnasiarch and archon of ‘the Antiochenes in Jerusalem’ were at one, ‘under the petasos’, the broad-brimmed hat which was part of the ‘uniform’ of the ephebes. The gymnasium was built in the immediate vicinity of the temple ‘under the acropolis’, and as soon as the gong gave the sign, the priests gladly left temple and sacrifice to take part in what was going on in the palaestra. We do not know whether the Greek guardian deities of the gymnasium, Heracles and Hermes, and the ‘ktistēs’ Antiochus IV, were honoured there; the dilemma in which the Jewish Hellenists found themselves at this point is illustrated by the following episode- the musical and gymnastic festival in Tyre, founded by Alexander the Great and celebrated every five years, provided an admirable opportunity to demonstrate the solidarity of the new ‘Hellenes’ and ‘Antiochenes of Jerusalem’ with the ‘Hellenes’ of the Phoenician cities, a solidarity which, in the view of Jason himself, included sacrifice to the guardian deity of the festival, the Tyrian Heracles-Melkart. The fact that the envoys (theōroí), against their original commission, then gave the money to equip ships, shows that they could not rid themselves of ancestral custom so easily. But this was only a question of interpretation- according to the contemporary Jewish ‘historian’ Eupolemus – who was probably a Palestinian and a faithful follower of the Maccabees – Solomon had already given a golden pillar to king Suron for the temple of ‘Zeus’ in Tyre. Another Jewish ‘history writer’ of the time, Cleodemus-Malchus, reports that the sons of Abraham by Keturah hastened to aid Heracles in his battle against Antaeus and that Heracles eventually married a granddaughter of Abraham. In this way the sons of Abraham were given a share in the Phoenician colonization of Africa. Hellenistic Jewish learning offered many possibilities of ‘interpreting’ pagan-Greek cults and their mythology in the right way (see below, pp. 263ff.).
We have no detailed knowledge about the training given in the gymnasium in Jerusalem. It will, however, hardly have been different from the form usual in other Palestinian and Phoenician cities. Obviously the ephebes competed naked in sports, an offence about which the book of Jubilees becomes excited even two generations later. The vigorous rejection of oil for anointing the body by the Essenes is presumably to be understood as an aversion to the Greek custom and indirectly as polemic against the similar use of oil in the palaestra. The fact that Jewish ephebes attempted to undo the effects of circumcision by epispasm shows how far the tendency to assimilation went. This may at the same time be an indication that non-Jews took part in the gymnastic games. II Macc. 4.10 states that Jason conformed the young ephebes completely to the Greek style of life by means of gymnasium education- epì tòn Hellēnikòn kharaktêra toùs homophúlous metéstēsen; thus the instruction will have embraced not only sports, but also music and literature, like the reading of Homer. Tcherikover’s view ‘that Jason’s reform did not affect traditional religious life’ is certainly too optimistic. The programme of the reformers, which Tcherikover himself describes as ‘the end of self¬-differentiation from the Gentiles, which had been the tradition of generations since Ezra’s time’, also had very serious consequences for Jewish religion. In the ancient world, and still more in Judaism, religion was indissolubly bound up with the cultural and political side of life.
The new institutions, the gymnasium, the ephebate and the establishment of ‘Antiochenes in Jerusalem’, also had a by no means insubstantial political background- the aim was to transform the Jewish ethnos, or the temple state of Jerusalem, into a Greek polis, with a limited, Greek-educated citizenry. The broad mass of the people were left on one side and were demoted to the status of perioikoi, a development which was not such a heavy blow as it might seem, as the people had very little political influence, because of the aristocratic constitution of the Jewish ethnos (see above, pp.25ff.). Nevertheless, a series of popular assemblies are recorded from pre-Maccabean and post-Maccabean times. In the long run the new political order in Jerusalem seemed a convenient way of breaking the influence of the conservative opponents of all innovations, who were certainly still numerous. The social gulf which already existed was also extended and deepened by the Greek education of the upper class, which now became obligatory. So with the unity of state and religious order which was particularly marked in the Jewish theocracy, the revolutionary innovations of Jason and his followers inevitably shook the Jewish temple state to its very foundations.
According to II Macc.4.13, these events marked ‘an extreme of Hellenization’ (akmē/ tis Hellenismoû) in Jerusalem. They were only conceivable on the basis of a lengthy period of preparation, in which Hellenistic influences in Jerusalem had long been at work, though we do not know much about them. One indication is given by Ben Sira with his polemic against apostasy from the law, religious laxity, the arrogance of the rich and religious scepticism (see below, pp.138-53). The predilection for Greek names in the Jewish upper class of Jerusalem from the end of the third century BC also points in this direction. A man like Jason could only introduce his reform in Jerusalem and lead ephebes as ‘gymnasiarch’ because he himself had also undergone a certain degree of Greek education. The same is true of his contemporaries, the three brothers Simon, Menelaus and Lysimachus of the priestly family of Bilga (see below, pp.279f.), who without hesitation supported the rapid Hellenization of the city. The name Menelaus in particular could on the one hand point to the ‘affinity’ with the Spartans and at the same time indicate a certain knowledge of Homer.
That Homer was recognized as the canonical book of Greek education in Jewish Palestinian circles even later is shown by the criticism made by the Sadduccees, reported in Jad. 4.6 and coming from the first century AD- ‘We object against you Pharisees that you say that the holy scriptures make the hands unclean whereas the books of Homer (ספרי המירם) do not make the hands unclean.’ Here the term ‘books of Homer’ is probably already a stereo¬typed description of Greek literature in general, and we may see here a sign that it had found a way into the everyday language of Palestinian Jews a long time before. Perhaps it goes back to the era of acute Hellenization after 175 BC. Even in the later Rabbinic period Homer was not unknown to the Jews of Palestine and was even read again in more exalted circles close to Graeco-Roman civilization. At about the same time as Jason’s attempted reform, the Jewish ‘peripatetic’ Aristobulus quoted a series of lines from Homer, wholly or partially forged, in his dissertation to Ptolemy VI Philometor, to stress the significance of the seventh day, and in so doing attempted to press the highest authority of Greek education into the service of Jewish apologetic aims. A few decades later, towards 140 BC, presumably under the influence of the anti-Hellenistic wave swollen by the victorious Maccabean revolt, the Jewish Sibyl condemned Homer as a pseudográphos by interpolating an earlier Greek text, a verdict in which she was later followed by Josephus, with a reference to Plato. Thus the problem of Homer could be considered by Jews in very different ways; the early Christian fathers then took this many-sided approach further.
The penetration of Greek education into Jewish circles in Palestine began – in analogy with the expansion of the Greek language – as early as the third century BC- there was already a Greek secretary in the family of the Tobiads in 257 BC (see above, P.59), and later Greek tutors were probably at work. The situation may have been the same in the house of the high priest; the pioneer of Hellenization was indeed the second son of Simon the Just, who is praised so strikingly by the conservative Ben Sira (Sir. 50.1-21), and who in the Pirqe ’Aboth is the first teacher mentioned by name at the head of the chain of tradition after the prophets and the men of the ‘great synagogue’ (see below, pp.161f.). In these leading circles, there need not have been conflict between a conscious preservation of the national tradition of the Jewish people and an affirmative attitude towards Greek education. There were also cross-connections with Judaism in Alexandria, which was certainly already strongly Hellenized- for example, the brother of the Tobiad Joseph sought to marry his daughter to a prominent Jew in Alexandria. All these points suggest that even from the Ptolemean period the sons of the Jewish aristocracy in Jerusalem had the possibility of learning Greek language and customs; in other words, a long time before the establishment of the gymnasium and the ephebate there was something like a Greek elementary school – of course on a private basis.
Even after the Maccabean revolt, the Greek school does not seem to have vanished completely from Jerusalem. About the middle of the second century BC, the Palestinian Eupolemus – presumably the leader of a Jewish embassy to Rome – wrote a history of the Jewish kings in Greek (see below, pp.92ff.). A Rabbinic legend reports the civil war between Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II in Judea in 65 BC a short time before the invasion of Scaurus-
When the Hasmoneans were waging war against each other, Hyrcanus was outside and Aristobulus inside (Jerusalem). Every day the besieged put denarii in a basket and took it up for the Tamid sacrifice. There was an old man who had insight into Greek wisdom (שהיה מכיר בחכמה יוונית). He spoke to them in Greek wisdom (לעז להם בח” יוונית). As long as (the besieged) concern themselves with the worship of God, they will not fall into your hands. On the following day (the besieged) again took up denarii in a basket, and instead they found a pig… At that hour it was said, Cursed be the man who rears a pig and cursed be those who instruct their sons in Greek wisdom.
As the legend appears in a slightly different form in Josephus, it may have a historical nucleus. The attached curse on learning ‘Greek wisdom’ may come from a later time; the association between ‘Greek wisdom’, the cessation of sacrifice and the desecration of the temple points back to the events under Antiochus IV and is thus presumably an interpretation of old tradition. The passage also contains the reminiscence that under the later Hasmoneans the leading circles in Jerusalem again came more strongly under the influence of Hellenistic culture- the uncle of the two disputing brothers, Aristobulus I, bore the surname Philéllēn, their father Alexander Jannaeus adopted the title of king, had coins minted with additional Greek legends and used mercenaries from Asia Minor. All this shows that Hellenistic education and style of life once again gained ground in Jerusalem even before Herod. Herod himself seems to have been to the Greek elementary school in Jerusalem, in which the sons of the Jewish aristocracy were probably instructed. At an advanced age he then pursued philosophical, rhetorical and historical studies under the direction of Nicolaus of Damascus; he also had his sons brought up completely in the Greek style. Josephus calls his great-grandson Agrippa II and his kinsmen andrôn tês Hellenikês paideías epì pleîston hekóntōn (Vita 359). We should also presuppose Greek instruction later in the circles of the Jewish aristocracy, for example in the influential family of Simon son of Boethus, who was appointed high priest by Herod and who came from Alexandria, or even in the young Josephus; otherwise he would hardly have been entrusted with the difficult embassy to Rome while he was still a young man. Even after the catastrophes of AD 70 and 135 the positive attitude towards Greek education continued in the family of Jewish patriarchs descended from Hillel. Even towards the end of the fourth century AD the sons of the patriarch are said to have studied with the rhetorician Libanius in Antioch.
Behind these very different reports of the emergence of Greek education in Jewish Palestine, extending over a period of six hundred years, there is one basic necessity. If the circles ruling there at the time wanted to gain greater influence over the Greek-speaking Diaspora and the changing foreign govern¬ments, they not only had to master the Greek language (see above, pp.58ff.), but also to become familiar with certain basic forms of Greek rhetorical education. But this was true only for a certain upper stratum. For by and large the events between 175 and 167 BC which began with the introduction of gymnasium education and ended with the ‘abomination of desolation’ marked a unique and deep turning-point in the history of Palestinian Judaism during the Graeco-Roman period. Only in that brief space of about eleven years under the rule of Antiochus IV was Judaism in the acute danger of submitting to Hellenistic culture as the result of the assimilation furthered by a powerful aristocratic minority. This deep crisis, which led to the attempt¬ – which was undertaken primarily by Jewish forces themselves – decisively altered the religious and spiritual face of Palestinian Judaism. The ground was laid for that polemical and legalistic accentuation of Jewish piety which characterizes it in the New Testament period. And even where the Greek language was, in fact, largely used and with it forms of rhetoric (see below, pp.95ff., 102), this often only happened in order to stress the absolute superiority of the Jewish tradition and to show the impossibility of Greek polytheism and the lax morality of the non-Jews with the means of the Hellen¬istic criticism of religion. Thus ‘Greek education’ was put to serve the Jewish cause. The fathers of the early church took over a large part of their polemic and apologetic arsenal from Hellenistic Judaism (see below, pp.169f., 266).
However, the richest fruit of what was at first such a threatening encounter with ‘Greek education’ began to grow as Judaism formed its own ‘system of education’ which in practice embraced the totality of the people and was decisively to shape its spiritual development.