God-Fearers” are gentiles who befriend Jews, or who observe Jewish ways, or who support the Jewish community, to a degree unusual for a gentile. The name derives from Acts 16:14 and 18:7 and other texts. See Louis H. Feldman, “The Omnipresence of the God-Fearers,” BAR 12:05.



Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.9.1, 13.11.3.


Strabo as cited by Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.319.


Salo Baron, Social and Religious History of the Jews, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Columbia, 1952), p. 173.


On this episode, see Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.2.3–4.


Horace, Satires 1.4.143.


Cicero, Pro Flacco 28.66.


Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings 1.3.3.


Dio Cassius 57.18.5a.


In his discussion of the expulsion from Rome in 19 C.E., Dieter Georgi (The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians: A Study of Religious Propaganda in Late Antiquity [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986]) forgets to cite Dio, the only source that actually supports his thesis.


The only references to large groups of converts (not mass conversions) are Josephus, Jewish War 2.20.2 and 7.3.3, but the first of these, at least, probably refers to “adherents.” See Shaye Cohen, “Respect for Judaism by Gentiles According to Josephus,” Harvard Theological Review 80 (1987), p. 417.


Adolf Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, 2nd ed., trans. James D. Moffat (New York: Putnam’s, 1908), p. 8. Harnack’s argument is developed by Georgi, Opponents of Paul, pp. 83–84.


Baron, Social and Religious History, vol. 1, pp. 170–171.


Philo, Against Flaccus 6.43.


P.M. Fraser calls Philo’s statement “very imprecise, but there is no better figure” (Ptolemaic Alexandria, vol. 2 [Oxford: Clarendon, 1972], p. 164, n. 315).


Migration is the explanation for the growth of the diaspora according to Philo (Life of Moses 2.232.; Embassy to Gaius 36.281–283 [a letter to Agrippa]). According to Josephus (Jewish War 7.3.3), the Jewish community of Antioch grew through the influx of converts.


For the legislation against the Jews, see Amnon Linder, The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation (Detroit: Wayne State, 1987). The laws frequently prohibit the Jewish ownership and conversion of non-Jewish slaves, but otherwise say nothing about the seeking of proselytes. For prohibitions of Manichees (and others) from seeking converts, see Mosaicarum et Romanarum Legum Collatio 15.3.4 (302 C.E.?) and Theodosian Code 16.5.11 (383 C.E.).


The argument of this article is spelled out in greater detail in Shaye Cohen, “Was Judaism in Antiquity a Missionary Religion?” in Jewish Assimilation, Acculturation, and Accommodation, ed. Menahem Mor (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992), pp. 14–23. Readers interested in this question may wish to read Martin Goodman, Mission and Conversion: Proselytizing in the Religious History of the Roman Empire (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994) and Louis H. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993). Readers will see that in the debate between Goodman and Feldman, I believe that Goodman is the winner.