Jews on the Move: Catherine Hezser’s Jewish Travel in Antiquity | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 75, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



As part of NTT JTSR’s series on Key Texts, the present article discusses Catherine Hezser’s monograph (2011). We demonstrate that Hezser’s work has been groundbreaking in its challenge of the predominantly sedentary characterisation of Jews in much of previous scholarship. In reaction to this image of Jews in the first five centuries of the common era, Hezser shows that travel played an extensive role in late-antique Jewish life. Hezser argues, for instance, that the travels of rabbis were a pivotal factor in the development of the social structure of the rabbinic movement. Notwithstanding the innovative nature of Hezser’s argument, her focus on the rabbinic movement means that her discussion of pre-rabbinic Jewish material tends to remain somewhat superficial. What is more, Hezser’s historicising reading of the rabbinic material can be challenged on the ground of the different genres and literary formulations represented in the rabbinic writings. In short, therefore, Hezser’s work has been instrumental in placing Jewish travel solidly on the scholarly agenda, but it has not provided the final word on the topic.


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