Books of the month

September - 2022

ROMAN PALESTINE

In Class and Power in Roman Palestine. The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. p. 353, $29.99), Anthony Keddie investigates the forms of socio-economic organization in the early Roman domination of Palestine (63 BC-70 AD). Using literary documentation (New Testament and Flavius Josephus), material (tableware, lamps, clothing, mortuary practices), and comparative analyzes with other provinces, Keddie analyzes the changes that have taken place in fields such as urban development, land ownership and organization of the work, taxes, religious economy, and materiality. Thus, he finds that despite small improvements in the living conditions of non-elites, the economic integration into the Empire deepened the inequalities in relation to the elites. By reintroducing issues of class, social distinctions and the agency of non-elites, Keddie points to a reading of the analyzed texts as material contributions to an ideological class shift in the face of inequalities in Roman Palestine.

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BEARERS OF LETTERS

In The Bearers of Business Letters in Roman Egypt (Peeters, 2022, 64 p., available at: https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:159492), Paul Shubert investigates letter bearers in Roman Egypt from the 1st to the 3rd century, rescuing some experiences of the common people that made communication over long distances possible in the period. The study is developed from about 2,000 business letters selected by the author, among more than 60.000 letters, because they explicitly or implicitly identify their bearers. Then, in addition to the formal structure of communication, Shubert investigates the carriers' experiences in the transport of letters itself, as well as in other activities and services that they could perform together, such as carriers of different items and money, information, among others.

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