Reviews

Sons of Jacob

"I pray you think you question with the Jew."
—William Shakespeare,
The Merchant of Venice

The Jews Under Roman and Byzantine Rule has already appeared in German and Hebrew editions by the same polyglot author who has now produced the English translation. Avi-Yonah has mined Greek, Hebrew, and Latin sources and puts into his footnotes whatever space does not permit him to treat elsewhere. His stated reason for writing his work is that "the period after the destruction of the Jewish state [unlike the earlier postbiblical period] remained as the so-called 'period of the Mishnah and Talmud,' the preserve of specialized historians who regarded it as the 'history of suffering and scholarship' and nothing more. This book has been written in order to restore it to its proper place in the political history of the Jewish nation as a whole."

From the death agony of the Second Jewish Commonwealth through the establishment of a Roman (rather than Hebrew) form of Christianity as the imperial state religion, up to the Arab conquest of the Middle East, Jews, or those perceived as such, were a generally persecuted group. Jewish communities did harrass Christianizing Jews—known disparagingly as "Minim [types]"—and would, in some cases, have put them to death, had their punitive power not been taken away by...

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