Social Stratification of the Jewish Population of Roman Palestine in the Period of the Mishnah, 70–250 CE by Ben Zion Rosenfeld and Haim Perlmutter

Social Stratification of the Jewish Population of Roman Palestine in the Period of the Mishnah, 70–250 CE by Ben Zion Rosenfeld and Haim Perlmutter

This book analyzes Jewish society in Roman Palestine in the time of the Mishnah (70–250 CE) in a systematic way, carefully delineating the various economic groups living therein, from the destitute, to the poor, to the middling, to the rich, and to the superrich. It gleans the various socioeconomic strata from the terminology employed by contemporary literary sources via contextual, philological, and historical-critical analysis. It also takes a multidisciplinary approach to analyze and interpret relevant archeological and inscriptional evidence as well as numerous legal sources. 

The research presented herein shows that various expressions in the sources have latent meanings that indicate socioeconomic status. “Rich,” for example, does not necessarily refer to the elite, and “poor” does not necessarily refer to the destitute. Jewish society consisted of groups on a continuum from extremely poor to extremely rich, and the various middling groups played a more important role in the economy than has hitherto been thought.

Year first published: 2020

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