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Martin Goodman has divided his intellectual life between the Roman and Jewish worlds. He has edited both the Journal of Roman Studies and the Journal of Jewish Studies. He has taught Roman History at Birmingham and Oxford Universities, and is currently Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. He is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. In 1996 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2002 he edited the Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies, which was awarded a National Jewish Book Award for Scholarship. He lives with his family in Birmingham.
The Jewish revolt against the Romans, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in A.D. 70, marked an irreparable breach between the pagan-and later Christian-worlds and an outcast Jewish minority. Yet the first two-thirds of this absorbing historical study explores the harmony of Roman and Judaic civilizations before the revolt. Goodman, a professor of Jewish studies at Oxford, finds many similarities in a far-ranging comparative analysis of their religions, cultures, economies and governments, though he gives more space to the worldly, extravagant Romans than to the relatively austere and parochial Jews. Before the revolt, he contends, Romans considered Jews unobjectionable, despite their eccentric monotheism; Jerusalem prospered under Roman rule and Jews living in diaspora were well integrated into Roman society. Goodman argues that the cataclysm could have been avoided (the burning of the Temple was accidental, he believes) but for the politics of the imperial succession, which prompted a needlessly hard line against the revolt and then Judaism itself. Drawing on Josephus's firsthand narrative, Goodman fleshes out his lucid account with archeology, numismatics and commentary from Roman and Jewish sources. The result is a scholarly tour de force, a resonant story of a tragic conflict caused by political miscalculation and opportunism. 16 pages of photos, 8 maps. (Oct. 28) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Magnificent. . . . A fascinating and extremely rich history. . . . An engrossing double portrait that shows how much our own civilization owes to both Jerusalem and Rome." --The New York Sun"Innovative. . . . A complicated bit of history brilliantly told." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch"Well-written, detailed and meticulous. . . . Provides an intricate examination of life in the first century." --The Dallas Morning News"A triumph. Goodman's scrupulous care with his sources, his eye for telling detail and his easy prose style combine to produce a work that will reward any reader." --Jerusalem Post