I Introduction

I 1  The Jewish cultural community – a late fiction

The dominant master narrative is based on the assumption that an independent Jewish cultural community existed and developed  autonomously. This Jewish cultural community is said

Cairo, sphinx
Cairo, sphinx

to have existed alongside the cultural communities of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Hellenistic/Roman culture. From its obscure origins, this culture developed in Palestine from the 10th century BC onwards.

This highly religious culture found its expression in the Old Testament writings with Moses as an early law-giver and the prophets as the creators of the unique Jewish monotheism. Jewish culture is said to have developed in pre-Hellenistic times and to have subsequently defended its identity against all opposition.

I interpret the situation differently: the Jewish cultural community is a fiction dating from Roman times. The small Jewish states in Palestine were always part of the current ruling empire and its culture. Up to the 9th century BC Palestine was under Egyptian influence; later it was dominated by Mesopotamian influences, first Assyrian, then Babylonian.

Then Palestine became part of the Persian empire and its culture; Aramaic, the language of the empire, supplanted regional dialects. Alexander’s advance introduced the Hellenistic era in Palestine, followed by Pompey who brought the eastern Roman empire under control. Roman influence thus spread in the area in the 1st century BC and continued to dominate the country until the end of the classical era.

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