Fortress Press

Jewish Paideia: Education and Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora

Jewish Paideia

Education and Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora

Jason M. Zurawski (Author)


Interested in a gratis copy?

How do you plan on using your gratis copy? Review requests are for media inquiries. Exam requests are for professors, teachers, and librarians who want to review a book for course adoption.

  • In stock
  • Kindle - Nook - Google
  • Quantity discount
    • # of Items Price
    • 1 to 9$49.95
    • 10 or more$37.46

Jewish Paideia investigates diverse self-reflections on what it meant to be Jewish in Hellenistic and early Roman Diaspora communities by examining depictions of ideal Jewish education, or paideia, in the literature of the period. Education offers a unique and unexplored vantage point for understanding the internal constructing of Jewish identity in progress, as it provides key insight into the most determinative constituents of Jewish ethics and culture and into how questions of "Jewishness" were reimagined under dynamic and varied cultural and political circumstances. Within the elite intellectual circles of the ancient Mediterranean world, individual and communal identity, not unlike today, was inextricably bound to education. Depictions of ideal Jewish education become for us windows into a discourse of identity as it happened. By exploring how Jewish writers utilized paideia as a means of forming, reshaping, and deploying unique portraits of Jewish identity, this volume fills a significant lacuna in the study of ancient Judaism and the Jewish people. It also provides meaningful comparanda for Classicists and necessary background for later developments of Late Antique Jewish and Christian pedagogy. The diverse ways in which education was construed directly reflect how authors sought to internally understand and externally portray the Jewish community. Education offers keen insight into how the ancestral past became a contested site, how "the other" was utilized as a foil for reinforcing the image of the in-group, how empire and colonization impacted understandings of the Jewish people within broader society, and how Jewish law functioned to connect community members across space and time. Paideia, therefore, provides the researcher unparalleled access to Jewish self-reflections during this important period of history and to questions that have been central to developing a greater understanding of the Jewish people within the ancient Mediterranean world.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506481777
  • eBook ISBN 9781506481784
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 395
  • Publication Date October 10, 2023


Jewish Paideia makes a major contribution to our understanding of one of the most significant fields of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern education. Through case studies of four influential authors or texts, Jason Zurawski reveals both the diversity of Hellenistic Jewish education and its coherences while also revealing how education responded to evolving Jewish identities in a formative period and helped to shape them. Scholars and students alike will benefit from the book's incisive scholarship and fresh insights.

Teresa Morgan, Yale Divinity School

In this elegantly written book, Jason Zurawski explores the multifaceted concept of paideia as it was adopted by Greek-speaking Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. He shows how distinctively Jewish understandings of paideia are based on the usage of this term in the Septuagint as a translation for Hebrew musar, discipline. He examines the shifting relationships between paideia and identity formation in the Letter of Aristeas, the works of Philo of Alexandria, the Wisdom of Solomon, and 4 Maccabees. This is a very accessible study of a complex and crucial concept in the study of ancient Judaism.

Karina Martin Hogan, Fordham University

Read this book. It teaches that paying attention to ancient Jewish discourses about education is a way to discern how texts articulate Jewish ethics, culture, and identity. This is an important insight, and the book is a rich and erudite volume. Reading it can be formative for your own paideia.

Matthew Goff, Florida State University

This book contributes significantly to a longstanding and important debate on the relationship between Hellenism and Judaism in Second Temple Jewish writings. Jason Zurawski brings a novel approach to the subject by seeing it through the lens of education (paideia), thus injecting fresh insights into the discussion. His extensive analysis of four key works combines a fine philological investigation with a well-honed literary, rhetorical, and philosophical argument, making the case for a fundamental compatibility between Jewish and Hellenic conceptualizations. Zurawski's careful and insightful analysis draws out the universal rather than the parochial or the ethnocentric principles advanced by Jewish intellectuals.

Erich Gruen, University of California Berkeley