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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces conversion processes within the history of Judaism. Even in early periods of Jewish history, the resident alien (ger) was allowed to become a member of the Jewish community and participate in the worship of God. Specific rules varied over time, but certain rituals were consistently applied, such as circumcision, immersion, and in earlier periods, when the Temple existed, animal sacrifice was required. With the fall of the Persian Empire in 333 b.c.e., Hellenization permeated the life of people in a vast expanse of territory. With the spread of the Greek language and culture, business and cultural exchanges, and modes of life were characterized by a degree of cosmopolitanism and individualism, thus the possibility of personal choice and thus conversion. Jewish conversion were characterized by long periods of education and training; whereas Christians during the same period emphasized the possibility of rapid conversions, often accompanied by mystical experiences.

Keywords: Hellenization, circumcision, proselytes, God-fearers, cosmopolitanism, individualism, Ruth, Paul, Josephus, resident alien (ger)

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