ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 257-260
Katherine Blouin, Le conflit judio-alexandrin de 38-41. L'identite
juive a l'preuve. Paris, Budapest, and Torino: L'Harmattan, 2005. 199
pages. ISBN 2-7475-8348-1.
This is the first monograph ever dedicated exclusively to the study of the
Alexandrian conflict that caused the persecution and death of many members
of the local Jewish community in the summer of 38 CE. A volume on the subject was certainly needed and is welcome, despite its publication in a series
not dedicated to the study of antiquity but to collecting cross-chronological
and cross-geographical works on Judaism.
The book includes an introduction, a first chapter devoted to analyzing the
background and the development of the Alexandrian Jewish community during the Ptolemaic and early Roman periods, a second chapter devoted to the
riots of 38 CE, and conclusions. A bibliography, a series of useful appendixes
with the most important texts and maps discussed in the book, and an index
complete the volume. The author privileges a reading of the background of
the riots based on the conflict of cultural identities, but finds their real cause
in matters related to status. In particular, the author maintains that with the
Roman conquest the Jews lost their previous privileged status and that some
of them tried to acquire Alexandrian citizenship - an attempt which provoked
the "cathartic" reaction of the Alexandrian Greeks. Neither the socio-cultural
reading of the riots, nor the attempt to acquire the Alexandrian franchise are
new in relation to the study of the riots of 38. Nonetheless, the presentation
of the work promises an interesting read. Some important points can, however, be disputed; the criticisms below concentrate strictly on the Alexandrian
Some key questions concerning the history of the Alexandrian Jews and
their status are summarily presented in the introduction. Without specification the author says that "Alexandrians" refers to Greeks with the Alexandrian
franchise (p. 15), without making any reference to the decades-long discussion
on the subject,' ignoring the data collected in a recent volume of the Prosopographia Ptolemaica, which put the discussion of Alexandreus in a completely
different light.2 But more surprisingly, by misquoting Bell's commentary on
Claudius' Letter to the Alexandrians, PLond. 6.1912, the author (p. 16) leads the
1 Main discussion in the comments on CPJ 2.151; M.A.H. el-Abbadi, "The Alexandrian Citizenship," JEA 48 (1962) 106-123; P.M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria, vol.
1(Oxford 1972) 47; D. Delia, Alexandrian Citizenship during the Roman Principate
(Atlanta 1991) 27.
2 C.A. LIda, Foreign Ethnics in Hellenistic Egypt (Leuven 2002) 347-357.