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Re: orion Posidonius
Lest Stephen Goranson feel he is alone in a cave on these matters (in the
context of the ORION audience at least), it has long been my impression
(and, yes, my will to believe) that Posidonius stands closely behind the
Strabo passage, and that the ultimate source of that passage (even if it
does not come through Posidonius, I hasten to add) was a Jewish informant
reflecting yet another variety of Jewish outlook in the Greco-Roman worlds
in accord with other cultic-critical Jewish witnesses (Philo provides
ample evidence; also the Epistle of [ps-]Aristeas on the meaning of the
food laws; Paul on true circumcision; etc.). The idea that the Strabo
(Posidonios?) passage was "anti-Jewish" makes no sense to me in the
context that I imagine for varieties of Jewish perspectives in that world.
The idea that Posidonius and/or Strabo are entirely responsible for the
idealized "Stoic" concept of religiousity and cultus that appears in this
report seems to me an easy way out of asking the more direct -- and
perhaps for some, more embarrassing? -- question of what "stoicizing" Jews
would have done with this material? Were there no Jewish "philosophers" of
Stoic orientation? Was the Jewish world that small at that time? As an
observer of my own worlds, and as one who finds the use of carefully
applied analogy basic to the effort to understand, I find that impossible
to accept (I did warn you all about the "will to believe," did I not?).
Were they so vastly different from us?
Stephen Goranson wrote, in part
> The view that Philo used Posidonius more than he explicitly acknowledged is
> hardly controversial. To suppose that Philo, who defended Jews, would be
> either uninterested in the History of Posidonius or unable to obtain a copy
> strains credulity.
> Calling the view that Posidonius or Strabo could have heard or read an
> Essene-influenced view of history "fantasy" does not, I suggest, advance
> the discussion. Some Jews disliked Alexander. Strabo reports that.
> Posidonius had friends. One of them was Pompey (not that I'm eager to bring
> up the year 63). Perhaps some day you'll be more amenable to comparing
> Porphyry, Contra Apion 2, 4QD, War 2, Posidonius, Strabo, Agrippa, Philo's
> Apology, Epiphanius, etc.
PS. Although he (understandably, in light of his own perspectives) does
not do much with this material, Louis Feldman (Jew and Gentile in the
Ancient World) does record the evidence and allude to modern discussions,
especially in his footnotes. For those who do not wish to search for or
wade through the extensive relevant articles in the Pauly-Wissowa RE,
Feldman may provide a useful shortcut, along with M. Stern's discussions
in his Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism. Feldman does not see
"anti-Judaism" in this material, incidentally. He opts for the "Stoicism
of the non-Jewish transmitters" approach.
Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania