Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties By Shaye J.D. Cohen (426 Pages)Publisher: University of California Press, 2000
In modern times, various Jewish groups have argued whether Jewishness is a function of ethnicity (membership in a descent group, a function of birth), nationality (citizenship in a state, a function of politics), religion (membership in a group characterized by various beliefs and practices), or all three. These fundamental conceptions were already in place in antiquity; the peculiar combination of ethnicity, nationality, and religion that would characterize Jewishness through the centuries first took shape in the second century B.C.E. This book studies the ways in which these elements were understood and applied in the construction of Jewish identity - by Jews, by gentiles and by the state - in such a way that the question "Who was a Jew?" could be variously answered.