The Chosen Few
How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492
Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein
In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? The Chosen Few presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein offer a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights into the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.
Maristella Botticini is professor of economics, as well as director and fellow of the Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER), at Bocconi University in Milan. Zvi Eckstein is dean of the Arison School of Business and of the School of Economics at IDC Herzliya in Herzliya, Israel; Judith C. and William G. Bollinger visiting professor in the Finance Department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and emeritus professor in the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University.