Sunday, November 04, 2007

Being a 'Jew' or a 'Judean'

Among the on-going debate (see here from Phil Harland) as to whether or not Ioudaioi should be translated as "Jew" or "Judean", is one piece of evidence mostly overlooked from Epictetus:
‘Why, then do you call yourself a Stoic, why do you deceive the multitude, why do you act the part of a Jew, when you are a Greek? Do you not see in what sense men are severally called Jew, Sirian, or Egyptian? For example, whenever we see a man halting between two faiths, we are in the habit of saying, “he is not a Jew, he is only acting the part”. But when he adopts the attitude of mind of the man who has been baptized and made his choice, then he both is a Jew in fact and is also called one’ (Epictetus. Diss. 2.9.19-20, trans. W.A. Oldfather, LCL).
I have to ask does being a "Jew" here refer to belonging to the geography or ethnography of Judea? I don't think so. So I still find reason to think that, at some points at least, Ioudaioi can be broader than Judean. In Epictetus is seems highly religious and even related to a certain praxis.


Unknown said...

Earlier today, I was reading the introduction to Paul Treblico's The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius. He's going through what we can know of pre-Christian Ephesus; specifically the Jewish presence there. He quotes some inscriptions, specifically epitaphs, that leave tombs in the care of the Ιουδαιοι. I haven't really kept up with the Jew/Judean discussion that much, but in these cases, I'd think, the meaning must be specifically that of Jews and not of Judeans.

Rick Brannan

JD said...

I'm not terribly up on this debate, but it seems to me the terminological shift is intended to get people thinking away from the iudaios=religion toward the iudaios=ethnos. I posted on (my home) some thoughts on this. It would seem to me those epitaphs, as well as many epitaphs in Rome and Spain, and references to "iudaeii" in Republican and Imperial Latin sources point out that there's a point to be made here, but that the term clearly does not at all necessarily mean that the people in question actually came from Judea. There are lots of other good examples of this sort of usage. I don't know why we focus on Jews.

Phil H. said...

Hello Michael,

I do not see any incompatibility between the passage you cite from Epictetus and Steve Mason's arguments concerning the ethnic-focus of the term ioudaioi (in fact, I think that it is among the examples he gives of ioudaizein, to adopt the ways of the Judeans). It may well be that you are being thrown off by the translation you are using--take a look at the Greek. More importantly, read Steve Mason's article and things will start to make more sense.

Phil H