This article presents a reading of the story of the Patriarch's meeting with the Emperor Diocletian as it appears in the late antique midrashic compilation, Genesis Rabbah. The story encapsulates the complexity of the relationship between the rabbis and Roman political, cultural and religious hegemony, showing the rabbis as both in eternal conflict with the Roman Empire and its culture and, yet, in many ways, very Roman themselves. In the second half of the article, I argue that this story presents a unique perspective on rabbinic views of both “demons” and the Olympian gods themselves. I conclude by comparing and contrasting these views with the approaches of early Christian thinkers.
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