Social and cultural identities interaction with nonJews

The continuity of Jewish communal existence in the diaspora was secured, as we have seen, by pragmatic stances, and, beyond this, by a sophisticated appreciation ofthe complexities ofplural identities and ofthe possibilities and the limits of interaction. Accommodation to the environment and a level of integration into the wider society are observable as a general pattern.32 Assimilation to the point where some Jewish individuals and groups merged into their environment and disappeared must have taken place on a considerable scale, but remains in the nature of things undocumented.

A fundamental determinant of cultural identity was the primary use of the Mediterranean lingua franca, Greek, as spoken and written language, not only in everyday usage, but also for religious purposes. The latter was made possible by the momentous decision, made probably as early as the mid-third century bce, and quite probably - as the Letter of Aristeas would have it - under the auspices of an inquiring and cultured Ptolemy, to translate the 'Jewish Law'

29 For the variety, see Rajak, 'Synagogue and community'.

30 T. Rajak and D. Noy, in Rajak, The Jewish dialogue, 393-430.

31 Brooten, Women leaders, was a landmark study.

32 These phenomena are skilfully distinguished in Barclay, Negotiating diaspora.

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