When did Judaism become popular in the ancient world, and what caused it to spread faster at that point in time? (ex: Christianity had its spread assisted by Emperor Constantine in the Roman Empire)

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    Popular? AFAIK, during history grups of Jews emigrated (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not) and brought their culture (including religion) with them, but Judaism was never neither proselitizing (searching new converts) nor popular. Only in counted exceptions (the most notorious that of the Khazars) there were mass conversions. What makes you consider Judaism as "popular" in the Roman Empire? – SJuan76 Aug 30 '15 at 20:14
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    @SJuan76. Judaism was "popular" in the Roman Empire. Please see my answer. – fdb Aug 30 '15 at 21:42
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    Is there any evidence that Judaism became popular? Please clarify the assumption. There were pockets of Judaism, but as far as I know it was always a minority religion. (This is not a judgement, just a summary of statistics). – Mark C. Wallace Nov 21 '18 at 19:28

Around the beginning of the Christian era there were people called “God fearers”, who were gentiles (non-Jews) who worshiped the God of the Jews, but were not circumcised and did not follow the Law of Moses. (See for example Acts 13:16 and 13:26). These “God fearers” seem to have been the prime target of Paul’s preaching. They should be seen in the context of the fad for “Oriental religions” (Mithraism, Isis-worship and the like) in the Roman Empire.

  • How is this an answer, and why is it upvoted? – John Dee Nov 23 '18 at 2:02

The first relatively wide knowledge of Jews and the Jew religion came as a result of the Babylon enslaving. 536 BC.

Judaism became widely known in the Christian times, after wide spreading of Jews as the result of the last Jew-Roman war. 135 AC.

But the times when several non-Jew nations accepted the Judaism came even later - about 7-8 cent AC. Khasars are the most known example.


Judaism never become popular like the large world religions (Christianity, Budism, Islam...etc) as it does not have a universal message. Judaism was, until very recently, a religion by birth that did not proselytize. It is a system of laws intended for a chosen people, not all people.

Chritianity, in its earliest days, was just a sect of Judaism, without a specifically universal message. It was Paul that laid the groundwork to make Chritianity a call to all people.

  • Wrong. Judaism proselytized a lot during different periods. – John Dee Nov 22 '18 at 15:27
  • Interesting. I never heard that. I always learned it was by birth. When and where was proselytization. – dwstein Nov 22 '18 at 16:06
  • I know that it was common in the early medieval period. I suspect this period is also the answer to this question. It was enough of a problem for Christianity that the Carolingians made laws against some Jewish proselytism, like Jews converting their slaves. I read this in Early Jewish Medieval Policy in Western Europe by Bernard Bachrach. – John Dee Nov 23 '18 at 2:00

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