Ideology

Reflection upon the condition of exile evolved at the same time as the circumstances of life away from the homeland. The term 'diaspora' itself is a coinage of the Alexandrian Greek Torah translation, appearing first in Deuteronomy (28:25; 30:4-5). A derivation of the Greek root meaning 'to scatter', this rendering collects together a number of different Hebrew words, among them galut, 'exile', thereby creating a more coherent construction than had existed before. Dispersion, as in the Hebrew Bible, is a temporary condition of dislocation, to be surely followed by an ingathering (e.g. Ps 146; Isa 49:6; Esdras 11:9 = Neh 1:9; and especially the prayer in 2 Macc 1:27). At times, especially in the prophetic books, this is taken as a state of disgrace and interpreted as national punishment (e.g. Jer 41:12-22; Dan 12:2). But a more positive representation of the dispersal gains ground in Greek Jewish writing through the Hellenistic-Roman periods, expressed not only by the Alexandrian Philo but also by Josephus, a priest from Judaea, albeit writing in the diaspora after the fall ofJerusalem (AJ 4.115,14.110).1 The noun 'diaspora' in its specialised sense is absent from their vocabulary, though Josephus has the verbal form from the same root; these authors do not, in fact, make a sharp conceptual divide between Jews in the land of Israel and those everywhere else.2 On the other hand, they contain ample reference to an existing or longed-for homeland, and Philo, though not Josephus, speaks of an eventual ingathering. This attachment was implicit in the standard appellation for a Jew, ioudaios/a, a person from Judaea.3 It is summed up by Philo's much-quoted statement where, drawing on the Greek vocabulary of colony and mother-city, he asserts that the inherited place of residence was a Jew's patris, but Jerusalem their metropolis (Flacc. 46).4

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