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A Jew in the Roman Bathhouse

Cultural Interaction in the Ancient Mediterranean
Yaron Eliav(Autor*in)
Princeton University Press
1. Auflage
Erschienen am 16. Mai 2023
392 Seiten
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978-0-691-24344-3 (ISBN)
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A provocative account of Jewish encounters with the public baths of ancient Rome

Public bathhouses embodied the Roman way of life, from food and fashion to sculpture and sports. The most popular institution of the ancient Mediterranean world, the baths drew people of all backgrounds. They were places suffused with nudity, sex, and magic. A Jew in the Roman Bathhouse reveals how Jews navigated this space with ease and confidence, engaging with Roman bath culture rather than avoiding it.

In this landmark interdisciplinary work of cultural history, Yaron Eliav uses the Roman bathhouse as a social laboratory to reexamine how Jews interacted with Graeco-Roman culture. He reconstructs their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about the baths and the activities that took place there, documenting their pleasures as well as their anxieties and concerns. Archaeologists have excavated hundreds of bathhouse facilities across the Mediterranean. Graeco-Roman writers mention the bathhouse frequently, and rabbinic literature contains hundreds of references to the baths. Eliav draws on the archaeological and literary record to offer fresh perspectives on the Jews of antiquity, developing a new model for the ways smaller and often weaker groups interact with large, dominant cultures.

A compelling and richly evocative work of scholarship, A Jew in the Roman Bathhouse challenges us to rethink the relationship between Judaism and Graeco-Roman society, shedding new light on how cross-cultural engagement shaped Western civilization.

De Gruyter
Für Beruf und Forschung
Digitale Ausgabe
Fixed format
27 b/w illus. 3 maps.
27 b/w illus. 3 maps.
978-0-691-24344-3 (9780691243443)
Schweitzer Klassifikation
Newbooks Subjects & Qualifier
DNB DDC Sachgruppen
Dewey Decimal Classfication (DDC)
BIC 2 Klassifikation
BISAC Klassifikation
Yaron Z. Eliav is associate professor of rabbinic literature and Jewish history of late antiquity at the University of Michigan. He is the author of God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place, and Memory and the producer of the documentary Paul in Athens.
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • A Note on References, Names, Abbreviations, and Translations
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Setting the Stage
  • Chapter 1. The Miracle of (Hot) Water: The Emergence of the Roman Public Bathhouse as a Cultural Institution
  • Chapter 2. A Literary Bathhouse: Realities and Perceptions at a Roman (Jewish) Public Bath
  • Chapter 3. Earliest Encounters: Archaeology, Scholarly Debate, and the Shifting Grounds of Interpretation
  • Part II. Filtered Absorption
  • Chapter 4. A Sinful Place? Rabbinic Laws (Halakhah) and Feelings about the Public Bathhouse
  • Chapter 5. Tsni'ut (Rabbinic Modes of Modesty) in the Halls of Promiscuity: Mixed Bathing and Nudity in the Public Bathhouse
  • Chapter 6. The Naked Rabbi and the Beautiful Goddess: Engaging with Sculpture in the Public Bathhouse
  • Part III. Social and Cultural Textures
  • Chapter 7. A Social Laboratory: Status and Hierarchy in a Provincial Roman Bathhouse
  • Chapter 8. A Scary Place: The Perils of the Bath and Jewish Magic Remedies
  • In Conclusion
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Bibliography of Primary Sources
  • Bibliography of Scholarly Works
  • Index of Ancient Citations
  • General Index

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