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between minority and majority culture in Byzantine Palestine. We have here, in both cases, a highly sophisticated literary genre, whose origins remain unclear. The audience of the piyyut must have been educated Jews, who would have memorised the Bible. Note that the word itself testifies to the acculturation process to which the phenomenon belongs. The piyyut offers unambiguous evidence for the rabbinisation of liturgical practice in sixth-century Palestine, as Seth Schwartz reminds us (he also points out that we do not know how widespread the practice was).22

Following Pirkoi ben Baboi (ninth-tenth century Babylonia), Steven Bowman has speculated that piyyutim offered a legitimate way (since it was done within the legally permitted synagogal cult) to study the law through a poetical summary; this argument takes into account Justinian's laws forbidding the study of the deuterosis (a term that does not refer exclusively to the Mishnah, but generically to commentaries).23 In 553, Justinian's Novella 146 prohibited the study of the deuterosis. This law also interfered with Jewish cult (something unheard of until then) by demanding the use of specific biblical translations and threatening those who denied resurrection, the last judgment and the angels. Justinian also enforced baptism upon the Jews. The Novella may have been meant as the emperor's retaliation for the Jews' support of the Donatists and the Arian Visigoths. Procopius tells us that it was then that the treasures of the Temple were brought from Rome to Constantinople.

One should also analyse the piyyut together with other kinds of Christian poetry, such as Ephrem's hymns. We know from Chrysostom, after all, that at least in late fourth-century Antioch Christians could participate in synagogal services more than was acceptable to the clergy. Similar attitudes may have appeared in Byzantine Palestine or elsewhere. In 407, Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius issued a law against 'the new crime of superstition' of 'the unheard name of heaven worshippers (caelicolae).' The name of this group active in the early fifth century might point to their identity as later followers of the Judaisers of old, the theosebeis, or yir'ei shamaim (phoboumenoi, metuentes).

The linguistic milieus

For both Christians and Jews, the political borders of the Roman empire were far from coinciding with linguistic boundaries. The Jews of North Africa, Italy, Gaul or Spain, who left so few written traces of their thought or literary creativity, spoke Latin. In the great cities of the Eastern part of the empire,

22 S. Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish society, 263.

23 S. Bowman, 'The Jews in Byzantium'.

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