Jordan Rosenblum deposited Home is Where the Hearth Is?: Jewish Household Sacrifice as Appropriation in the group Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity on AJS Commons 5 years, 6 months ago
Household sacrifice is a common feature of the ancient Mediterranean. While offerings are made in temples, a home altar is a frequent sacrificial site. This raises an intriguing question for scholars of Judaism in antiquity: do Jews also sacrifice on household altars? While Judaism in antiquity is riotously diverse, it often looks very much like other ancient Mediterranean religions. It would therefore seem reasonable to expect to find at least some Jews offering household sacrifices. In fact, we do – though the evidence is slender and sometimes cryptic. In this essay, I survey the extant literary evidence for Jewish household sacrifice in antiquity. By examining texts from Tobit, Philo, Josephus, the Mishnah, and Julian, we can catch a fleeting glimpse of a household practice that is both unexpected (according to normative views of Judaism) and expected (in light of the Mediterranean character of Judaism in antiquity).