- Found Sean Freyne's *Galilee: From Alexander the Great to
Hadrian* and am trying to read it. Bill Arnal seems to have
read it, I wonder what he thinks.
I'm very uneasy following along with Freyne on anything because
he seems to be so eager to discover a Jewish Galilee that any
evidence at all is taken to be demonstrative of his point. Almost
at random I can cite "... the two coins for Sepphoris for the year 68
C.E. have a Greek legend but no human representation. This can only
mean that the total ethos, as distinct from certain centers, was still
thoroughly Jewish, even if architectural designs and pottery styules
could suggest the opposite." Or it could mean that the people
who were active in a money economy... tax collectors, soldiers,
landlords, during the time of Judean/Idumean occupation, were
Jewish. The latter interpretation does not tell us much about
native Galileans. The former interpretation... well, you re-read it
Or "What is particularly striking
in light of these circumstances is that when the sources again
mention the north, attachment, even special devotion to the Jerusalem
temple and its cult system, is presumed." This he supports
with general citation of Judith and Tobit, the latter an historical
romance set in the pre-722 period, and 1 Macabees 5. Now, the
latter concerns a war between the Judeans and the Gentiles which
the chapter seems to presume to be the general population of
The only mention of Jews in Galilee that I can find is 5:23
"He (Simon Macabee) took with him the Jews who were in Galilee and in
Arbatta, with their wives and children and all that they had, and
brought them to Judea with rejoicing." Whether or not we
should believe that there were so very few Jews (Freyne cautions
us not to, of course) his use of the passage to support the
claim for "attachment, even special devotion to the Jerusalem
temple and its cult system" by Galileans is inane. The whole
book is permeated with that sort of thing, seems to me. Not to
mention hosts of citations from Talmud taken more or less at
face value to demonstrate facts on the Galilean ground centuries
earlier... but not always. R. Johanan's statement "Galilee, Galilee!
You hate the torah! Your end will be to be besieged" is, we
learn, not to be relied upon. Rabbinical statements to the opposite
effect are to be relied upon. He usually takes Josephus' statements
to be unreservedly true and even Josephus' explanations for things,
as though a Judean Priest-General in Galilee was giving us
accurate anthropological field-work reports.
Far as I can tell Freyne's book supports the idea that there were
some Jews in Galilee, more than zero, and that some of those
Jews in Galilee were fond of Judean Jewish religious institutions.
Can't argue with that. Having established that there were indeed
some Jews in Galilee he writes of Galileans as being Jewish.
That seems to be a gross and obvious fallacy, but he does it
all the time.
But I'll read more of it. Anybody else read it?