their cultural life - though there is nothing to suggest much consequence to either. Some similarities between Tertullian's patterns of thought and Jewish law are not enough to permit extrapolations. Jews who thought they had been wronged in a real-estate deal could ask for justice and protection from Bishop Augustine, but he does not seem to have known very much about (or to have retained an interest in) Jewish practices.

There were Jewish communities in Visigothic Spain, but here too the scanty evidence is enough to suggest that they were dwindling at the time of the Islamic invasion. Isidore of Seville, in the seventh century, does not seem to have met Jews. Everywhere in the Roman empire, Jews formed minority communities, while the Christians asserted themselves as belonging to the majority. This imbalance was shattered only in the Sassanid empire, where both Jews and Christians represented minorities, rather similar in various ways. This important situation is interesting in the relations between Christians and Jews within the Euphrates valley during late antiquity.

After the fourth century, the evidence about Jews in general, and about Jewish-Christian relationships in particular, is twofold: archaeological and literary. The former can sometimes be used to sharpen the insights provided by the literary sources.12 While the archaeological data from Byzantine Palestine is remarkable, the remains of Jewish synagogues or funerary monuments in the diaspora are meagre. As for Jewish documents, we have nothing except the literature produced in both Palestine and Mesopotamia, to which should be added the various magical inscriptions, on bowls or papyri. On the other hand, the evidence provided by Christian texts is mainly of a theological nature, and includes biblical exegesis, spiritual exhortation, homilet-ics and polemical as well as theological tractates. To these sources should be added imperial legislation, in particular as it appears in the codices of Theodosius and of Justinian, which tells us a lot about daily practices and conceptions.

Civic religions or scriptural religions?

When we speak of communities, we tend to assume that this was the natural mould of religious expression for both Jews and Christians.13 But one should avoid isolating these two special groups from the broader context. In the ancient world, religion was above all a matter of state, of public life. The

12 See e.g. H. Kennedy, 'Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia'; Sh. Cohen, 'Jews and Judaism in the Greco-Roman world'.

13 See G. Fowden, 'Religious communities'.

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