Diasporas in Antiquity by Shaye J. D. Cohen, Ernest S. Frerichs

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By Shaye J. D. Cohen, Ernest S. Frerichs

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See Mekilta Pisha 15 p. 57 ed. HorovitzRabin with the note ad loc. '*'Song of Songs Rabbah on Song of Songs 6:11 (p. 35b ed. Vilna); cited by Salo Baron, "Problems of Jewish Identity," Proceedings of the American Acadamey for Jewish Research 46-47 (1979-1980) 33-67, at 52 n. 23. 162Y. Avodah Zarah 2:1 40c. The commentaries differ on the explanation for a man's inability to disguise himself; some say (see Pilpula Harifta on R. ) think it is because of his hair and beard. 40 Diasporas in Antiquity money, you might reasonably conclude that that someone was a Jew.

Dio is not necessarily talking about "converts" - he does not even mention circumcision. For Dio anyone devoted to Jewish ways is called a Jew. " According to Dio if you are devoted to Jewish ways you are called a Jew, but are you a Jew? Some ancient texts clearly make the distinction between "being" a Jew and being "called" a J e w . "* Revelation, in the passages treated at the beginning of this study, speaks of people who call themselves Jews but really are not. A contemporary of John of Patmos, the philosopher Epictetus, writes:"' Why, then, do you call yourself a Stoic [if you are a student of Epicurus], why do you deceive the multitude, why do you act the part of a Jew when you are Greek?

If this is correct, the Yerushalmi is saying that even gentile-named people who appear in a document issued by a communal Jewish institution can presumed to be Jews. This presumption makes a great deal of sense. '^ In sum: people associating with Jews were not necessarily Jews themselves. Even people assembled in a synagogue or present in a Jewish neighborhood were not necessarily Jews themselves. In the Roman diaspora social mingling between Jews and gentiles was such that, without inquiring or checking, you could not be sure who was a Jew and who was not.

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