Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hellenism - FITJ podcast review

The podcast series From Israelite to Jew by Michael Satlow, has reached a very interesting stage. Satlow has finished the Persian era in the history of the Jews and has begun talking about the Greek era. Whereas, from what we can know, under the Persians, the Jews kept developing their own culture, religion and cultural definitions. Even if they took over the lingua franca of the day, Aramaic, they seem rather independent. In Greek times, however, the ruling language, culture and institutions come to heavily influence Judaism.

Hellenism, it is called and as we find out by the end of the podcast, the Jews were possibly more aware of this complex whole of Greek culture. It was a Jew who invented the term Hellenism, as to oppose it to Judaism, but before embarking on how the Jews struggled with Hellenism, this podcast shows how the Greek culture invaded the Jewish one and became just as formative as the age-old traditions.

One of the greatest and obvious products is the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Tanakh. But Satlow shows many more signs and examples of sheer Greekness in the heart of Judaism. This is a most informative, deep and engaging podcast that I enjoy very much. I cannot wait until the next installment.

More FITJ:
Jews of the Persian Empire,
The fox and the hedgehog,
Looking for a Persian History podcast.