Private Households and Public Politics in 3rd-5th Century Jewish Palestine
Alexei Sivertsev examines the nature of the Jewish aristocratic households and their public functions during the later Roman and Byzantine periods (third to fifth centuries C.E.). The author first discusses the nature of the Jewish patriarchate during the third century C.E. He argues that the family of patriarchs ( nesi'im ) is best understood as a local city-based aristocratic clan. It emerged, along with other contemporary clans, as a result of the gradual conversion of the national aristocracy of the once independent Judean state into the municipal aristocracy of the Roman province of Palaestina in the course of the first to second centuries C.E.In the second part of this book Alexei Sivertsev addresses the specific public functions performed by Jewish aristocratic clans, such as judicial, religious, administrative and legislative. He also demonstrates the continuity that existed in this respect between the Second Commonwealth aristocratic clans and those of the rabbinic period. Finally, the third part of this study deals with the process leading to the integration of the local native aristocracies of the Roman Near East into the centralized administrative system created by the Emperors, starting with Constantine the Great. This process is analyzed specifically regarding the example of the Jewish ruling elite. The main question in this section is the degree to which the local administrative apparatus of the newly created Byzantine bureaucracy developed out of the traditional and clan-based public institutions which had existed locally throughout the Roman period.
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