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The Chosen Few:
How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492
Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein

Book Description | Reviews
Introduction [in PDF format]


List of Illustrations xi
List of Tables xiii
Preface xv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1
70 CE-1492: How Many Jews Were There, and Where and How Did They Live? 11
From Jesus to Muhammad (1 CE-622): A World of Farmers 15
From Muhammad to Hulagu Khan (622-1258): Farmers to Merchants 31
From Hulagu Khan to Tomás de Torquemada (1258-1492):
The End of the Golden Age
Jewish History, 70 CE-1492: Puzzles 51

Chapter 2
Were the Jews a Persecuted Minority? 52
Restrictions on Jewish Economic Activities 52
Taxation Discrimination 58
Physical versus Portable Human Capital 59
Religious Minority 61
The Economics of Small Minorities 62
Summary 65

Chapter 3
The People of the Book, 200 BCE-200 CE 66
The Two Pillars of Judaism from Ezra to Hillel (500-50 BCE): The Temple and
the Torah
The Lever of Judaism: Education as a Religious Norm 69
The Destruction of the Second Temple: From Ritual Sacrifices to Torah Reading
and Study
The Legacy of Rabbinic Judaism: The Mishna and Universal Primary Education,
10 CE-200
Judaism and Education: The Unique Link in the World of the Mishna 78

Chapter 4
The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Farmers 80
Heterogeneity and the Choices Facing Jewish Farmers circa 200 82
The Economic Theory: Basic Setup 84
The Economic Theory: Predictions 87
Life in a Village in the Galilee circa 200 through the Lens of the Theory 88
Annex 4.A: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Farmers 89

Chapter 5
Jews in the Talmud Era, 200-650:
The Chosen Few 95
An Increasingly Literate Farming Society 96
Conversions of Jewish Farmers 111
Summary 122

Chapter 6
From Farmers to Merchants, 750-1150 124
The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Merchants 125
The Golden Age of Literate Jews in the Muslim Caliphates 130
Summary 150
Annex 6.A: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Merchants 150

Chapter 7
Educated Wandering Jews, 800-1250 153
Wandering Jews before Marco Polo 154
Jewish Migration within the Muslim Caliphates 163
Migration of Byzantine Jewry 172
Jewish Migration to and within Christian Europe 173
Migration of the Jewish Religious Center 195
Summary 200

Chapter 8
Segregation or Choice? From Merchants to Moneylenders, 1000-1500
The Economics of Money and Credit in Medieval Europe 202
Jewish Prominence in Moneylending: Hypotheses 209
The Dynamics of Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Europe 212
Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Italy: A Detailed Analysis 219
Attitudes toward Moneylending 232
Facts and Competing Hypotheses 237
From Merchants to Moneylenders: Comparative Advantage in Complex
Annex 8.A: The Charter to the Jews of Vienna 244

Chapter 9
The Mongol Shock: Can Judaism Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse? 248
The Mongol Conquest of the Muslim Middle East 249
Socioeconomic Conditions in the Middle East under the Mongols 252
Jewish Demography under Mongol and Mamluk Rule: An Experiment 254
Why Judaism Cannot Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse 258
Summary 259

Chapter 10
1492 to Today: Open Questions 261
Portrait of World Jewry circa 1492 261
Jewish History, 70 CE-1492: Epilogue 264
Trajectory of the Jewish People over the Past 500 Years 266
Persistence of Jewish Occupational Structure 268

Appendix 274
Bibliography 287
Index 317

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File created: 4/21/2017

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