Workshop | 'Religio licita'? The Romans and the Jews, 1st century BCE - 3rd century CE

FNO 02/ 40-46


Usually Judaism is regarded as 'religio licita' of the Roman Empire. Nonetheless it is always regarded with suspicion as can be detected from Menahem Stern's collection of ancient anti-Jewish texts (, id., Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism). In addition, Karl Leo Noethlichs has pointed to the importance of legal sources for the perception of Jews. These texts normally do not limit the status of Jews, but show significant exceptions. If we, in addition, take into account that Kelsos at the end of the 2nd century polemized against Jews and Christians alike, we have to ask in two directions: First, what was the Roman view on Jews and, second, which changes within Judaism under the Roman influence might be detected? Already at the end of the first century BCE we see altercations between Jews and Romans, as can be seen in Pompeius' ambivalent attitude towards the Jews. On the one hand there are his brutal actions against Jews; on the other hand he tried to establish a Roman order within Judaic territories (and be it to keep them "calm"). That continues in the times of the emperors.

In our workshop we are mainly interested in the reasons for the conflicts which arose after the Jews were given a number of privileges although the Jews themselves showed little or no interest in territorial-expansive efforts and did not threaten Rome in this regard.

[available in German only]

Tagungsbericht Religio licita? Rom und die Juden vom Pompeius bis Konstantin. 04.07.2013-05.07.2013, Bochum, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 26.09.2013, <>

Affiliated Persons


PD Dr. Görge K. Hasselhoff


Dr. Meret Strothmann


Office GA 6/160
+49 234 32-22552