828 r^ JAMES R. MUIR
educational thought as its point of departure. The argument and purpose might thereforebe clearer if we pause here to examine the context provided by each of these histories.
The History of Jewish
A number of Jewish scholars have recently observed that histories of European po-litical philosophy often neglect the contribution of Jewish thinkers, as well as the historyof Jewish political thought generally. Indeed, Jewish scholars themselves have sometimesassumed that little specifically political philosophy existed between the destruction of thetemple in 70
and the establishment of Israel in 1948. As Biale put it in his fine histori-cal study of Jewish political theory:It has often been assumed that, following the destruction of the Temple, the Jews aban-doned politics and, in the absence of a political life, developed no political theories.
Contemporary scholarship has shown this assumption to be unwarranted. Recent editionsof Mendelssohn's
have reminded us that Jewish political philosophy not only hasa history in its own right but also made important contributions to the development ofEuropean political thought. Similarly, others have begun to revive the reputation of medi-eval Jewish political philosophy, and, reaching still further into the past, of the politicalthought of the
and the Diaspora.
The intention of this paper is, in part, to con-tribute to this recovery of Jewish political philosophy from the particular perspective of thesimilarity between the ancient Jewish understanding of the relationship between educa-tional and political aspiration and the view of this relationship advocated by an exception-ally influential, and yet now little studied, Greek political philosopher.It is, I believe, well known that there was extensive interaction between Hellenism andJudaism, particularly during the third and second centuries
Of particular importancein the context of this paper is the influence exerted on Jewish thought by Hellenistic rheto-ricians. As Gerhardsson has pointed out, both the rhetoricians and Jewish thinkers shareda similar, and perhaps mutually supportive understanding of the distinction between writ-ten and orally transmitted law.
Moreover, the formation and consolidation of rabbinichigher education was "undoubtedly stimulated by the Hellenistic schools of rhetoric."
TheHellenistic rhetorical schools, of course, derived their inspiration almost wholly from thepolitical philosopher Isocrates and his unified legacy to political philosophy and education.The question arises, particularly in the context of the Jewish ambivalence towards (andsometimes rejection of) Greek philosophy, why it was that Jewish educators were able to ac-cept the influence of Hellenic rhetorical education, which at that time often went under thename "philosophy." I would suggest that the Isocratic legacy of politically conditioned edu-cation served Jewish educational aspirations well, because it provided an idea of the natureof education that was compatible with ancient Jewish political thought. Specifically, for ex-ample, Jewish educators derived the normative intentions of education from a theologico-political doctrine originating in Jewish antiquity and ultimately from the most ancient rev-elations. While Plato disparaged ancestral religion, particularly in politics and education,"Isocrates argued that education ought to be similarly derived from an ancestral political doc-trine informed by ancestral theology.
Isocrates' admirer and follower in educationalthought, Cicero, adopted a very similar view, which Gerhardsson links to Jewish educators.