Rome & Jerusalem, The Clash of Ancient Civilisations


Up until 66 CE, the Romans displayed a unique tolerance towards their Jewish subjects. The Jews were exempted from the cult of emperor worship imposed on the rest of the Empire, their dietary and other “eccentricities” were treated with affectionate bemusement rather than hostility. But, in the year 66, a war broke out which would lead ultimately to the total destruction of Jerusalem, the banishment of the Jews from their own land and the renaming of Judaea as Palestina to expunge all reference to the Jews from the region. We know, of course, that the Jewish people did not re-establish a state in the region until the foundation of Israel in 1948.

In this scholarly yet eminently readable account, Goodman examines what led up to this clash of cultures and how it underpins centuries of European anti-Semitism. His history also encompasses the emergence of Christianity from its beginnings as a Jewish faction into a major religion. Goodman is one of the world’s leading scholars of the ancient Roman and Jewish worlds. He is also a marvellous stylist, giving an account of the destruction of the Temple which is as gripping as fiction. A book not only for the specialist, but the generalist with an interest in the origins of Europe’s troubled relations with the Middle East.

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