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Quotes About the Bible and History


Edward H. Flannery

Hellenistic Antisemitism

"As late as the fifth century B.C.E., Herodotus--that meticulous observer and perambulating pioneer of history who visited many lands, including "the Palestine of Syria"--ignored the Jews in his comprehensive history of the time. Obviously, their theological claims and their ethnic exclusivism neither interested nor irked the syncretic polytheists of antiquity as long as they were worked out on Palestinian soil. Nor did they attract much notice during the first years of the Diaspora. At most, these introverted communities scattered among the nations were regarded as mere curiosities. Herodotus also visited Elephantine, yet he failed to note in his History that the garrison there was Jewish. But the Diaspora, quietly gaining its foothold in the ancient world, was the stage being prepared for the inevitable clash between the worshippers of Yahweh and those of pagan deities.

...After the conquests of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.), the Jews ceased to remain unnoticed. The Macedonian conqueror pupil of Aristotle and diligent propagator of the Grecian mode of life, left behind him a world rapidly becoming Hellenized. Against the first unification of culture, Jewish communities--now grown in size and influence--emerged in all their singularity. Unlike the rest of their Greco-Oriental and, later, Roman neighbors, Jews did not take their place as average citizens of the cities and towns. They continued to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Holy City to which they sent a didrachma each year as a personal tax and where stood the temple of Yahweh, their one true God, invisible and transcendent, who refused to assume His place in the Pantheons of the empire. Looking upon their host countries as profane soil and their fellow citizens as children of error and superstition, Jews grouped themselves in a quarter of their own city. The "ghetto" was a voluntary reality hundreds of years before the term was coined or legislation regarding it enacted. To the proud heirs of Pericles, Aristotle and Homer, this aloofness was an insufferable arrogance. Convinced that all that was not Greek was barbarian, they resented rival claims to superiority or privilege on the part of the people they considered politically and culturally undistinguished. A collision between these two proud and dissimilar mentalities could only be a matter of time."

Edward H. Flannery "The Anguish of the Jews" Revised and Updated (New Jersey: Paulist Press., INC, 1985) pp. 8, 10-11