(A2-10) The Jewish Nomos between Normativity and Identity Using the Example of Alexandria in the 1st-3rd Centuries A.D.

Due to the large number of Jews who lived in Alexandria until the pogrom (117 A.D.), the city was the most important centre of ancient diaspora Judaism. On the other hand, it was the city where most of the writings of the Septuagint (first of all the corpus of law of the Pentateuch) and other Jewish-Hellenistic literature were produced which, for their part, influenced Greek-speaking Judaism significantly. And finally, Alexandria was regarded as the pagan “capital of culture” of the ancient world, where acculturation phenomena and discrimination tendencies of the Jewish self-conception and its institutions were bound to occur.

By chronologically focusing on the first three centuries A.D., the project chose a central epoch of ancient religious history in the Mediterranean or, rather, Alexandria that is highly relevant as regards the history of reception and influence. This epoch is determined by the differentiation of Christianity from already hellenised Judaism in the land of Israel, but particularly in the diaspora.

The project examines the following questions:

  • To what extent does the normative corpus of the Jewish nomos (Tora) have an identity-forming effect in the conflicting interest of religion and politics, and in what way has this corpus been made a norm on the basis of this identity-forming effect?
  • To what extent do experiences of plurality that are felt to be critical make for the situation that a complex of norms (here: the Jewish one) is implicitly or explicitly challenged or changed as regards content, or that it is felt to be necessary that this complex be made explicit, reinforced and/or written?
  • What role does the internal perspective of the Jewish ethnic group play in the justification of norms – and what role does the adoption of the external perspective in one’s own argumentation play?
  • How can the interplay of Jewish norm discourse with other politico-religious norm discourses be described?
  • To what extent are “legality” and “morality” discoursively differentiated?
  • In this context, the early Christian discussions around the nomos are to be included. The question to be asked is – again focusing on Alexandria – whether and to what degree the nomos was relevant for the Christians as an expression of socio-religious and political identity. Moreover, another question is what position the early church took up in the competing normative discourses until the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.).

The Project is part of interconnecting platform F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group The liquefaction and solidification of normativity.