Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review of Chrubasik and King (eds.), Hellenism and the Local Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Boris Chrubasik, Daniel King (ed.), Hellenism and the Local Communities of the Eastern Mediterranean. 400 BCE—250 CE. Oxford; London: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. xxii, 232. ISBN 9780198805663. $85.00. Reviewed by Peter Talloen, University of Leuven (
As stated in the introduction by Chrubasik and King, the book focusses on the ways in which the relationship between local communities and Greek culture was negotiated in key areas of the Hellenistic world: Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The center stage is held by the non-Greek communities of those areas who refashioned and reshaped what they deemed to be Greek cultural forms to suit their own needs and interests. By studying different regions with different local interpretations of Greek culture, the volume aims to sketch a more nuanced cultural history of the Eastern Mediterranean. According to the editors, this focus on local interpretations of Greek cultural forms should also raise the question whether the historiographical terms Hellenism and Hellenization to describe these processes are still useful labels for the cultural processes at play in this time period—similar to questions raised about the usefulness of the term ‘Romanization’.5 The volume not only has a broad geographical scope but also a wide chronological one. The editors do not adhere to the traditional chronological boundaries of the Hellenistic period, 323—31 BCE, as they consider the interaction between Greek and non-Greek cultures not restricted to this period. The overview starts in 400 BCE, the beginning of a period of intensification of non-Greek engagement with Greek cultural forms especially in Asia Minor, as demonstrated by several contributions. Similarly, the editors rightly argue that engagement with Greek culture did not cease with the battle of Actium. Yet, why 250 CE was chosen as the end date is not clarified. Surely, Greek cultural influence did not come to an end in the middle of the 3rd century CE.
Ancient Judaism receives plenty of attention in the book. There is also coverage of Palmyra, Dura-Europos, Babylon, Egypt, and Asia Minor.

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