- September 28, 2012
- Posted by: essay
- Category: Free essays
Jewish community was traditionally characterized by the maintenance of its cultural traditions, religious norms, values and morals. At the same time, since the ancient times, Jews were susceptible to pursuits and oppression from the part of the dominant ethnic groups. In fact, from the epoch of Exodus till present days representatives of Jewish community suffered from discrimination and oppression and they had to struggle for their right to maintain their cultural traditions and preserve their cultural identity. In this respect, Jewish people is quite unique because, in the course of its history, it has maintained its culture and cultural identity, in spite of a huge pressure from the part of other ethnic and cultural groups which attempted to suppress Jewish culture or even eliminated Jewish community as it was in the epoch of Holocaust. Nevertheless, the Jewish community has surmounted all the obstacles and challenges and it is still one of the most original and unique culture which originated in ancient times and persists till present days. At first glance, such survivability of Jewish culture seems to be paradoxical, but, as the matter of fact, Jews have managed to preserve their culture due to their religion, which became the milestone of Jewish culture and which served as a distinct element of Jewish culture which distinguished Jews from other people and allowed them to preserve their cultural identity.
It proves beyond a doubt that since the ancient epoch Jews were under a pressure of dominant ethnic groups. In this respect, the epoch of the Roman rule is particularly noteworthy because the Roman Empire dissolved peoples and cultures Romans invaded. In fact, Romans absorbed cultures and traditions of those peoples they invaded and adapted them to Roman norms and traditions. At the same time, they attempted to spread Roman culture on the territory of the huge empire they had created by the 1st ”“ 2nd centuries AD. Obviously, they attempted to dominated in the world and many conquered people readily accepted Roman rule and Roman culture.
In this regard, Jews were different because they did not accept the Roman rule. Instead, Judea and Palestine remained a turbulent region where social unrest was maintained by the struggle of Jews for the independence of the Roman Empire. In fact, Jews attempted to overthrow the Romans authority and establish their own, independent state. However, Jews apparently lacked the military power and material resources for the effective struggle with the Roman Empire which was the dominant power in the ancient world at the epoch.
Nevertheless, Jews kept their struggle on and on, which seemed to be illogical stubbornness, taking into consideration the uselessness of this struggle.
However, the struggle of Jews against the Roman domination was motivated by cultural and religious factors. In fact, their religion and culture became the ideological basis of their struggle, while Romans attempted to oppress Jewish religion and cultural traditions. At this point, it is possible to speak about the official, state policy of Rome aiming at the destruction of Jewish cultural and religious traditions, which were the foundation of Jewish community. In this respect, the destruction of the Second Temple may be viewed as a part of this policy conducted by the Roman Empire in Judea and Galilee.
Nevertheless, the destructive policies of the Roman Empire failed to lead to the destruction of Jewish culture and religion. In stark contrast, the destruction of the Second Temple led to the unification of the Jewish community and the growing dissatisfaction with the Roman control over Judea and Galilee. However, being unable to lead a military struggle, Jews focused on the maintenance of their cultural and religious traditions that contributed to the emergence of rabbish Judaism since rabbis became extremely important representatives of the Jewish community who preserved and maintained the cultural identity of the entire nation (Meyers, 167). In such a way, instead of the oppression and degradation of Judaism, the destruction of the Second Temple stimulated the revival of Judaism and its spread among Jews.
In actuality, Judaism became a kind of resistance of Jewish people to the Roman domination and oppression. In this respect, it is important to underline that Judaism became the ideological basis which united Jews and helped them preserve their cultural identity that was apparently different from that of Romans. In such a situation, all the efforts of Romans to assimilate Jews and integrate them into the universal Roman Empire, which became a kind of cultural melting pot, failed.
However, the emergence of Christianity in the Roman Empire raised a new threat to Judaism since Christianity originated from Judaism and, in a way, it is possible to view Christianity and Judaism as two religious movements which have the same ground. In this respect, it should be said that unlike Christianity, which tended to universalism and conversion of all people, regardless of their ethnic origin and culture, to the Christian faith, Judaism remained the religion of Jews and, what was more important, this religion became a distinct feature which allowed Jews to differentiate themselves from other ethnic groups inhabiting the Roman Empire (Irshai, 192). In such a way, Judaism had started to develop as orthodox Jewish religion, which emphasized its difference from Christianity and which was the religion that united Jews, who were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire and even after the downfall of the Roman Empire.
At this point, it is important to underline the fact that Judaism became a really powerful tool of the preservation of Jewish cultural identity, which proved to be able to resist not only to Christianity but also to the huge cultural pressure from the part of Roman culture, which tended to dominate in the Mediterranean. At any rate, the Mediterranean was Romanized and Jews were also exposed to this impact, but they had preserved their unique culture and religion. In this respect, the role of Babylonian Jewish culture can hardly be underestimated because, when Jews and Judaism were severely repressed in Judea and Galilee, the traditional Jewish culture and Judaism kept progressing in Babylon, which became a new cultural center of Jewish people in the 3rd-7th cc A.D. (Gafni, 230). In fact, Babylon was less susceptible to the impact of Rome and it was easier for the local Jewish community to preserve their cultural traditions and norms.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Jews and Jewish culture suffered a huge pressure from the part of Roman culture. Nevertheless, unlike many other peoples inhabiting the Roman Empire, Jews were not assimilated and remained the unique ethnic group, with its own culture and religion. Moreover, Judaism became the ideological basis which contributed to the unification of Jews and preserved their cultural traditions.