Judaism in the Hellenistic Diaspora

Scope: Jews in the Diaspora were connected to their compatriots in Palestine in a number of ways, and their allegiance to Torah was no less real. Circumstances of life in the Diaspora, however, enabled Judaism to develop in distinctive ways. Most notably, it enabled an engagement with Greek culture that was more positive and pervasive. Alexandrian Judaism gives us a glimpse of Jewish life in the Hellenistic Diaspora, with the increased importance of the synagogue as the center of community life and with a literature based on the Greek translation of Torah called the Septuagint. Philo of Alexandria provides a chief example of religious experience in the Diaspora, but some elements of his mystical interpretation of Judaism are found elsewhere, especially in the wall paintings of the Synagogue at Dura-Europos.

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