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The Chosen Few

Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. List of Illustrations
  8. List of Tables
  9. Preface
  10. Introduction
  11. Chapter 1 70 CE–1492: How Many Jews Were There, and Where and How Did They Live?
    1. From Jesus to Muhammad (1 CE–622): A World of Farmers
    2. From Muhammad to Hulagu Khan (622–1258): Farmers to Merchants
    3. From Hulagu Khan to Tomás de Torquemada (1258–1492): The End of the Golden Age
    4. Jewish History, 70 CE–1492: Puzzles
  12. Chapter 2 Were the Jews a Persecuted Minority?
    1. Restrictions on Jewish Economic Activities
    2. Taxation Discrimination
    3. Physical versus Portable Human Capital
    4. Self-Segregated Religious Minority
    5. The Economics of Small Minorities
    6. Summary
  13. Chapter 3 The People of the Book, 200 BCE–200 CE
    1. The Two Pillars of Judaism from Ezra to Hillel (500–50 BCE): The Temple and the Torah
    2. The Lever of Judaism: Education as a Religious Norm
    3. The Destruction of the Second Temple: From Ritual Sacrifices to Torah Reading and Study
    4. The Legacy of Rabbinic Judaism: The Mishna and Universal Primary Education, 10 CE–200
    5. Judaism and Education: The Unique Link in the World of the Mishna
  14. Chapter 4 The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Farmers
    1. Heterogeneity and the Choices Facing Jewish Farmers circa 200
    2. The Economic Theory: Basic Setup
    3. The Economic Theory: Predictions
    4. Life in a Village in the Galilee circa 200 through the Lens of the Theory
    5. Annex 4.A: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Farmers
  15. Chapter 5 Jews in the Talmud Era, 200–650: The Chosen Few
    1. An Increasingly Literate Farming Society
    2. Conversions of Jewish Farmers
    3. Summary
  16. Chapter 6 From Farmers to Merchants, 750–1150
    1. The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Merchants
    2. The Golden Age of Literate Jews in the Muslim Caliphates
    3. Summary
    4. Annex 6.A: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Merchants
  17. Chapter 7 Educated Wandering Jews, 800–1250
    1. Wandering Jews before Marco Polo
    2. Jewish Migration within the Muslim Caliphates
    3. Migration of Byzantine Jewry
    4. Jewish Migration to and within Christian Europe
    5. Migration of the Jewish Religious Center
    6. Summary
  18. Chapter 8 Segregation or Choice? From Merchants to Moneylenders, 1000–1500
    1. The Economics of Money and Credit in Medieval Europe
    2. Jewish Prominence in Moneylending: Hypotheses
    3. The Dynamics of Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Europe
    4. Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Italy: A Detailed Analysis
    5. Attitudes toward Moneylending
    6. Facts and Competing Hypotheses
    7. From Merchants to Moneylenders: Comparative Advantage in Complex Intermediation
    8. Annex 8.A: The Charter to the Jews of Vienna
  19. Chapter 9 The Mongol Shock: Can Judaism Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse?
    1. The Mongol Conquest of the Muslim Middle East
    2. Socioeconomic Conditions in the Middle East under the Mongols
    3. Jewish Demography under Mongol and Mamluk Rule: An Experiment
    4. Why Judaism Cannot Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse
    5. Summary
  20. Chapter 10 1492 to Today: Open Questions
    1. Portrait of World Jewry circa 1492
    2. Jewish History, 70 CE–1492: Epilogue
    3. Trajectory of the Jewish People over the Past 500 Years
    4. Persistence of Jewish Occupational Structure
  21. Appendix
  22. Bibliography
  23. Index