Becoming Diaspora Jews Behind the Story of Elephantine Karel van der Toorn

The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library
Publication date:
12 Nov 2019
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235 x 156mm


This book tells the story of the earliest Jewish diaspora in Egypt in a way it has never been told before. The colony that lived at Elephantine Island in the fifth century BCE is an icon of the Jewish diaspora, but there is something unusual about it. These people had abandoned Hebrew for Aramaic and venerated several Aramean gods beside the ancestral Jewish god. Karel van der Toorn studies an unexplored papyrus to shed new light on their history.

Karel van der Toorn is professor of religion and society at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of the prize-winning Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible, among other publications.

“In this erudite work, the Jewish community at Elephantine becomes a case study for a wide palette of issues, ranging from the emergence of Judaism to the negotiation of cultural boundaries.”—Ronald Hendel, author of How Old Is the Hebrew Bible?