views updated


PLUTARCH ° (c. 46–120 c.e.), Greek biographer and antiquarian. He discusses whether the Jews abstain from the use of swine's flesh out of reverence for the animal or because of aversion to it (Quaestiones Conviviales, 4). In a symposium (ibid.) "Who is the God of the Jews," Bacchus is identified with the God of the Jews and the Bacchanalian celebrations with the Festival of Tabernacles. "They set up tables laden with all kindsof fruit and live in tents and in huts made of vine branches and ivy intertwined. The first day of this Festival is called the Festival of Tabernacles" (Gr. skēnē, "tent"). This identification is refuted by his contemporary *Tacitus (Historiae, 5:5). Plutarch also mentions the widespread anti-Jewish slander (cf. *Apion and Tacitus) that the Jews worshiped the head of an ass because that animal helped them discover wells of water in the wilderness. In his essay on superstition, Plutarch states that the Jews did not defend their city on Sabbath, but remained "clothed in their superstition, as if in a great net." Plutarch's treatment of Judaism is prompted by neither hatred nor respect. The Jewish religion was considered by cultured pagans a pious superstition, in common with other Oriental cults.


Reinach, Textes, 136–50.

[Samuel Rosenblatt]