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then, he argues, one should retain serious scepticism about the applicability of rabbinic evidence outside the immediate circles of the rabbis.27

Schwartz's powerful argument sees in the Jewish cultural explosion of late antiquity a response, in some complex ways, to the gradual Christianisation of the Roman empire. Yet his study does not account for the significance of the Talmudic movement, at the same time, in Babylonia. While we have no archaeological remains of the Babylonian Jewish communities, we may assume that the cultural blossoming reflected by the Babylonian Talmud was not singularly literary. We must also lookfor cultural interaction between Jews and Christians in the Sassanid empire. There, such interaction can perhaps be studied more easily (although only in a rather speculative way, alas, as the sources are terribly scarce), since we are dealing with two fairly comparable minorities. In this context, it may be worth referring to the name for Christians in Pahlevi: tarsak, lit. 'fearer'. Shlomo Pines has proposed that we see in this name a trace of the origins of Christianity in Iran, which would have developed through the Jewish communities there.28 Mesopotamian Jews and Christians partook of the same language, Aramaic, a major fact which goes a long way to explain their cultural relationship in the East.

Indeed, as J. B. Segal noted long ago, 'The early advance of Christianity in Mesopotamia was upon ground already prepared by the Jews. It was in a great degree the intellectual and cultural resources of Mesopotamian Jewry that enabled the Aramean strain in the Church of Edessa to stand aloof from the violent theological controversies that tookplace before the fifth century.' Segal adds that 'in the course of time, the Jewish and the Christian communities had moved far apart'.29 We should look for cultural interaction between Jews and Christians in Babylonia not only in explicit theology and hermeneutics, but also in mystical theology and praxis.

Similarities in mysticism

Another example of the religious dynamics between Jews and Christians in late antiquity emerges in some striking similarities between early Christian and Jewish mystical texts and traditions. 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God' (Matthew 5:8). The sixth beatitude of the Sermon on the

27 M. Goodman, 'Jews and Judaism in the Mediterranean diaspora of the late-Roman period'.

28 Sh. Pines, The Iranian name for Christians and the 'God-fearers'.

29 J. B. Segal, 'Mesopotamian communities from Julian to the rise of Islam'.

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