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Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations [Paperback]

Martin Goodman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Jan 2008

In Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, Martin Goodman explores the history of a titanic struggle whose repercussions are still felt today.

In 70CE, after four years of Jewish rebellion, Roman legions devastated the great city of Jerusalem. Sixty years later, its ruin was completed when Emperor Hadrian built a new city on top of it that Jews were forbidden even to enter.

In this highly acclaimed book, Martin Goodman examines the background and course of this titanic conflict - from the political ambitions of Roman military leaders to the spread of Christian influence through the empire - and its lasting consequences.

'In this remarkable book Martin Goodman casts a truly fresh eye over well-known figures and events'
  History Today

'Important and powerfully expressed ... The best available general account of a turning point not just in the history of the Roman Empire but also in the development of the modern West'
  Simon Goldhill, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Should be read by anyone seeking seriously to understand modern Middle Eastern tangles ... a lucid account of ancient tragedy'
  Diarmaid MacCulloch, Guardian

'Splendid ... an important book, on a difficult subject : the reason why Romans sought to destroy the Jews and Judaism completely. Only one man would have written it'
  Paul Johnson, Tablet

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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; First Printing edition (31 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014029127X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140291278
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"This is an important book, on a difficult subject: the reason why the Romans, who had so much in common with the Jews, sought to destroy the Jews and Judaism completely. Only one man could have written it. Martin Goodman is professor of Jewish studies at Oxford and has the unique distinction of having edited both the Journal of Roman Studies and the Journal of Jewish Studies. This polarity of expertise enables him to describe in a penetrating way the terrifying Jewish revolts against Rome of AD 66-70 and 132-5, as well as provide a fresh and convincing analysis of their origins and consequences. . . Goodman has written a splendid book."--Paul Johnson, "The Tablet" "Martin Goodman's massive new treatment of two crucial centuries of Jewish history should be read by anyone seeking seriously to understand modern Middle Eastern tanges. . . It would be pleasing to feel that international statesmen might draw lessons from Goodman's lucid account of ancient tragedy." --Diarmaid MacCulloch, "The Guardian" "Sombre and magisterial. . . a brilliant comparative survey. . . There can be no doubting that the issues raised by "Rome and Jerusalem" will have a resonance with readers far beyond the confines of university classes or theology departments. The Roman world has begun to hold a mirror up to our own anxieties in a way that would have appeared wholly implausible a bare decade ago. If it was the fall of the Bastille that shaped 19th and 20th century history, then it can sometimes seem as though the 21st century is being shaped by the fall, nearly 2000 long years ago, of Jerusalem."--Tom Holland, "Sunday Times ""His style is brisk and clear, his learning prodigious and hisscope immense. . . as Goodman's compelling and timely book reminds us, even the most pessimistic could hardly have guessed that it would take 2000 years for [the Jews] to return to their holy city -- or that even then, their battles would be far from over."--Dominic Sandbrook, "Saturday" "Telegraph" ""Rome and Jerusalem" is, among many other things, a history of anti-Semitism -- or, if that term is felt to be anachronistic for Goodman's period. . . judaophobia. . . Martin Goodman has spent his career studying both ancient Rome and ancient Jerusalem ...He is thus the ideal scholar to try to hack a way through these tangled thickets of belief, prejudice and false consciousness."--Paul Cartledge, "Sunday Telegraph ""A monumental work of scholarship ... the parallels with modern day Baghdad are all the more resonant for Goodman studiously avoiding them."--Rabbi David J. Goldberg, the "Independent" "An impressive, scholarly book."--"The Economist" "From the Hardcover edition."

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two millenia on, reprocussions for us all... 1 Mar 2008
By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A major historical faultline in the history of the world is the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Roman army in 70 CE. This truly the point of origin of the crisis in the Middle East, and is a starting point of the Jewish Diaspora and central event in the history of the Jewish faith and the genesis of Christianity. By comparison with the tonnage of popular works on Greece, Egypt, and Rome, this moment of history seems strangely neglected. No longer.

This book is a singularly professional and readable history by a fine writer and a highly effective scholar. It consists of parallel histories of the two cities, their inhabitants, the faiths they represented and the cultures that existed amongst them, and is a fascinating comparison of two Mediterranean cultures strongly influenced by Hellenistic Greek culture yet so completely alien to each other.

The book rests on a fine reading of the controversial figure of Josephus, the Jewish historian who changed sides during the revolt and wrote a history of the Jewish war for a predominantly Roman audience. The evaluation of this talented but ideologically evasive individual is one of the delights of the book.

This is a scholarly yet accessible example of ancient history. If you enjoy the work of Robin Lane Fox, I think you will be at home here. Similarly, if your reading centres on the early history of Christianity, you will find a vital perspective. All readers, I think, would benefit from Goodman's elegant discussion of a clash of civilisations that has stark implications for the world two millennia after it occurred.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read! 27 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this was a hard to put down book; it is filled with a wide range of detail that is hard to find elsewhere.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
The title of this book and the Prologue about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE might lead one to expect that this book would focus on the direct relationships between Rome and the Judean provinces over which it acquired formal or informal control from about 63 BCE onwards. Had it done that, it would have been much shorter than it is. We will indeed learn what brought the two societies into such violent conflict in the end; but for the most part the Romans tolerated great differences in the life-styles and institutions in the empire they controlled. With the exception of Caligula, they even allowed the Jews freedom from Emperor worship, and they exempted Jews from having to pay taxes in Sabbath years (one in seven) when Jewish law insisted that farm land remain fallow. Even when the ultimate authority was vested in the procurators, the Romans generally preferred to rule through the local Jewish authorities: High Priests, client kings or tetrarchs. These, or more particularly their Jewish subjects, did not like to have the ultimate authority vested in an alien power and may have disliked the culture of these aliens, but as long as their rule was not too intolerable, the two cultures rubbed along reasonably well. It did become intolerable in the end, and about a sixth of this immensely long book will deal with the Jewish revolts and the violent Roman repression. But for its first 400 pages or so, with a formidable display of detailed knowledge of Roman and Jewish society, it is simply interested in comparing and contrasting them, without suggesting that these differences made the final showdown inevitable. Read more ›
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
It was my pleasure to be supervised by Prof Martin Goodman whilst I was conducting research into aspects of First Century Palestine at St Cross College, Oxford.

This chunky tome (even in paperback) spreads some 650 pages and is dense with valuable information and historical observations; it is a referential fund with respect to the areas of interfacing and interaction between the forces of Roman imperialism and the culture of the Jews.

But this is far more than either merely a cultural or an historical study; for example, Prof Goodman expounds an entire thesis regarding the origin and subsequent development and expansion of the messianic movement, amongst other things. In fact, more than one previous reviewer has been somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer density of the historical data contained herein.

As ever, Prof Goodman makes deft use of his sources and his treatment of Flavius Josephus is a model which most writers can only hope to aspire towards. Despite its length and scope, the author knows what to omit as well as what to include; apart from an abundance of pertinent observations, the reader is spared overbearing philosophizing although, inevitably, it is difficult to produce studies on events like the probable mass suicide at Masala without including a degree of comment, be that implicit or explicit.

This book is probably not something to read casually and deserves a notebook by its side. As a single volume reference book which 'does what it says on the cover' this reviewer has absolutely no hesitation in recommending it on the bases of its sound, thorough, scholarship and its general - albeit demanding in parts - readability.

Michael Calum Jacques
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Why they wail at the wall
An extraordinary fusion of knowledge of the classical and specifically Roman world, with of the Bible and the Jewish past. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Julian
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard-going
This was not quite what I expected: ie a book of how Roman and Jerusalem viewed each other.

Rather it was a description of the differences in culture etc between the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in history. The relationship of Jews and Romans is elucidated and I suspect most readers will get a mass of interesting material... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dr. E. Rubinstein
4.0 out of 5 stars Painstaking account of an epochal encounter
In 63 BCE, the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem, and Judaea became part of the Roman empire. For the next hundred years or so, Roman rule encountered little organised or... Read more
Published on 20 April 2012 by Jeremy Bevan
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Christianity has always been a religion of the city. It was birthed in the cities of the Roman empire and the most significant shapers of Christian thought and practice today come... Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Matthew Hosier
4.0 out of 5 stars A banana
The origins of anti-semitism are argued to have begun during the siege of Jerusalem which ended in 70AD. For a Christian perspective see: Matthew 27, 24-26 & Luke 23, 26-31. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2011 by Nobby
5.0 out of 5 stars the catastrophic collisions of Rome, Israel, and the early Christians
This is one of those dense history books that separates the true history buff (or academic) from the casual reader. Read more
Published on 6 May 2011 by rob crawford
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book about an important conflict in the ancient world
This book about Rome and Jerusalem is written by Martin Goodman who is an expert on Roman and Jewish history. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2010 by Torben Retboll
5.0 out of 5 stars how history should be written
This book asks a simple question about a matter of immense importance: Why did the Jews (and only the Jews) become so alienated from mainstream Mediterranean/European culture? Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2009 by emmcol
4.0 out of 5 stars authoritative
Those who have a fragmentary knowledge of either Roman or Jewish history will find this book makes helpul connections. Read more
Published on 8 Aug 2009 by Tallscot
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