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Nephele

Rabbi Drusus?

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I'm currently reading A Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History, by Benzion C. Kaganoff, and came upon a passage that I thought might be of interest to some here, regarding the Roman influence on Jewish names:

 

Following the Roman conquest of Palestine, a strong Latin influence made itself felt, though it was never so extensive as the Greek. In the Mishnaic and Talmudic literatures (especially the Palestinian Talmud), we encounter many rabbis with Latin names: Drusus, Marinus, Valens, Romanus, Justus, and, mirabile dictu, in several places in the Palestinian Talmud mention is made of a Rabbi Titus! There were Jews who even bore the names of the pagan Roman gods, Apollo, Bacchus, and Castor, and other Latin names such as Agrippa, Marcus, Julius, Justinus, Rufus, Tiberinus, Tiberius, Crispus, Dulcius, Julianus.

 

Kaganoff also mentioned in his book a modern-day surname -- Adolescenti (meaning "youths") -- which belongs to a Jewish-Italian family which supposedly traced its descent from the captive Jewish youths brought to Rome by Titus after the fall of Jerusalem.

 

-- Nephele

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Drusus for the Jewish men, eh? Well, I've always known they had good taste...

 

But seriously, Neph - is there any evidence to suggest that the adoption of Latin names by the Jews - especially in the Julio-Claudian period, was due to the influence of Agrippa? I am sure Ingsoc will back me up here. Marcus Agrippa was very highly thought of by the Jews of the late 1st century BC/early 1st century AD, and perhaps his temperate rule of the territories made all things Roman and Latin a tad more palatable....?

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While Agrippa put one of the most sympathies displayed toward Judaism by a Roman his stay in the east was short (17 BC -13 BC) so I doubt he could have a big affect.

 

I assume those Latin named Jews were Roman citizens and hence they bore a Roman name, It's possible they had two name - one was Roman and was used in dealing with the outside world and the other is Jewish and was used inside the Jewish community.

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I'm currently reading A Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History, by Benzion C. Kaganoff, and came upon a passage that I thought might be of interest to some here, regarding the Roman influence on Jewish names:

 

Following the Roman conquest of Palestine, a strong Latin influence made itself felt, though it was never so extensive as the Greek. In the Mishnaic and Talmudic literatures (especially the Palestinian Talmud), we encounter many rabbis with Latin names: Drusus, Marinus, Valens, Romanus, Justus, and, mirabile dictu, in several places in the Palestinian Talmud mention is made of a Rabbi Titus! There were Jews who even bore the names of the pagan Roman gods, Apollo, Bacchus, and Castor, and other Latin names such as Agrippa, Marcus, Julius, Justinus, Rufus, Tiberinus, Tiberius, Crispus, Dulcius, Julianus.

 

Kaganoff also mentioned in his book a modern-day surname -- Adolescenti (meaning "youths") -- which belongs to a Jewish-Italian family which supposedly traced its descent from the captive Jewish youths brought to Rome by Titus after the fall of Jerusalem.

 

-- Nephele

Salve, Amici.

Strictly speaking, Apollo and C(K)astor were Greek names.

 

I suspect most of those Jewish latin names came from Roman freedmen or at least clients.

 

Were there also many feminine Jewish latin names?

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Drusus for the Jewish men, eh? Well, I've always known they had good taste...

 

But seriously, Neph - is there any evidence to suggest that the adoption of Latin names by the Jews - especially in the Julio-Claudian period, was due to the influence of Agrippa?

 

I think Ingsoc has answered that well. While (as you already know) M. Vipsanius Agrippa was honored by his friend, Herod the Great, who named his grandson after him, that didn't necessarily mean that those Jews who adopted Roman names for themselves did so out of honoring their Roman occupiers -- or even that they might have had Roman patrons.

 

The Jewish people had also been adopting Greek names for themselves for a very long time, as well as names belonging to other Middle Eastern peoples. Esther of the Bible is a Persian name, and her original Hebrew name was Hadassah. Her cousin in the story, Mordecai, has a name which is derived from the name of the Babylonian sky god, Marduk.

 

The reason for the use of gentile names by the Jewish people had much to do with Jewish assimilation into various cultures. Hellenized and Romanized names made business transactions with the gentile neighbors much easier. After awhile, the popular use of these gentile names took over any Hebrew names still retained by their owners, and that's why there are a number of scholars named in the Talmud with gentile names.

 

Salve, Amici.

Strictly speaking, Apollo and C(K)astor were Greek names.

 

I suspect most of those Jewish latin names came from Roman freedmen or at least clients.

 

Were there also many feminine Jewish latin names?

 

Although the names of the gods Apollo and Castor were of Greek origin, the Romans recognized these gods in the Roman pantheon without a change in name, and Roman citizens had been using these theophoric names as cognomina for a long time. You'll probably recall that the son of the emperor Tiberius went by the nickname of "Castor". This is why these are also considered "Roman" names.

 

As for your question regarding Latin names for Jewish women... Although examples can be found of Jewish women who were known by gentile names, because women were generally excluded from business and politics there was really not much need for them to adopt gentile names. Although, of course, there were exceptions, and the Greek name Berenice was in use by Judean royalty. Then there was Dorcas of the New Testament (also known by her Aramaic name of Tabitha, meaning "gazelle" and which translated into her Greek name of the same meaning: "Dorcas"). For Latin examples, there was the married pair of Jewish-Roman tentmakers from the New Testament, Aquila and Priscilla.

 

-- Nephele

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