History of research

The first book-length work on Byzantine Jewry was Samuel Krauss’s Studien zur byzantinisch-jüdischen Geschichte. It remains the starting-point for research in this area, even though so much new evidence has come to light since Krauss wrote.

Joshua Starr’s Jews in the Byzantine Empire consists of two parts, a synthetic account and a source book comprising English translations, notes and bibliographical references. The same format was adopted more recently by Steven Bowman for his Jews of Byzantium 1204–1453, which sets out to extend Starr’s pioneering work to the period after the Latin conquest of Constantinople. Two books on the subject appeared in the intervening years.

Zvi Ankori’s Karaites in Byzantium the formative years, 970–1100, while it is ostensibly devoted to the Karaites, deals compendiously with the whole of Byzantine Jewry in the eleventh century, and makes use of a far wider range of source materials than Starr had laid under contribution.

Andrew Sharf’s Byzantine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade is a serviceable narrative with a substantial bibliography.

David Jacoby, in a long series of magisterial studies, has placed the study of Byzantine Jewry on a new footing: most of these have been collected together in the volumes of his collected articles such as Byzantium, Latin Romania and the Mediterranean.

Joshua Holo’s Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy embraces many aspects of Jewish life in the empire beyond the narrowly economical, from the 7th to the 12th century. 


Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium: the Formative Years, 970–1100. New York, Jerusalem, 1959.

S. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium (1204-1453). Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1985.

J. Holo, Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy. Cambridge, 2009.

D. Jacoby, Recherches sur la Méditerranée orientale du XIIe au XVe siècle. Peuples, sociétés, economies. London, 1979.

D. Jacoby, Byzantium, Latin Romania and the Mediterranean. London, 2001.

D. Jacoby, ‘The Jews in Byzantium and the Eastern Mediterranean: Economic Activities from the Thirteenth to the Mid-Fifteenth Century’ in Wirtschaftsgeschichte der mittelalterlichen Juden: Fragen und Einschätzungen, eds. Michael Toch, Elisabeth Müller-Luckner (München 2008), 25-48.

D. Jacoby, ‘The Jewish Communities of the Byzantine World from the Tenth to the Mid-Fifteenth Century: Some Aspects of their Evolution’ in Jewish Reception of Greek Bible Versions. Studies in their Use in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, eds. Nicholas de Lange, Julia G. Krivoruchko and Cameron Boyd-Taylor (Tübingen 2009), 157-181.

S. Krauss, Studien zur Byzantinisch-Jüdischen Geschichte. Leipzig, 1914.

A. Sharf, Byzantine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade. New York, 1971.

J. Starr, The Jews in the Byzantine Empire, 641-1204. Athens, 1939.

J. Starr, Romania: The Jewries of the Levant after the Fourth Crusade. Paris, 1949.

  • Mapping the Jewish communities of the Byzantine Empire
  • is funded by:
  • ERC
  • and hosted by:
  • University of Cambridge