Wednesday, 14 February 2018

#BookReview — Rome & Jerusalem By Martin Goodman #History #Jerusalem #AncientRome

Rome & Jerusalem
By Martin Goodman

A magisterial history of the titanic struggle between the Roman and Jewish worlds that led to the destruction of Jerusalem.

In 70 C.E., after a four-year war, three Roman legions besieged and eventually devastated Jerusalem, destroying Herod’s magnificent Temple. Sixty years later, after further violent rebellions and the city’s final destruction, Hadrian built the new city of Aelia Capitolina where Jerusalem had once stood. Jews were barred from entering its territory. They were taxed simply for being Jewish. They were forbidden to worship their god. They were wholly reviled.

What brought about this conflict between the Romans and the subjects they had previously treated with tolerance? Martin Goodman—equally renowned in Jewish and in Roman studies—examines this conflict, its causes, and its consequences with unprecedented authority and thoroughness. He delineates the incompatibility between the cultural, political, and religious beliefs and practices of the two peoples. He explains how Rome’s interests were served by a policy of brutality against the Jews. He makes clear how the original Christians first distanced themselves from their origins, and then became increasingly hostile toward Jews as Christian influence spread within the empire. The book thus also offers an exceptional account of the origins of anti-Semitism, the history of which reverberates still.

When the Roman Empire marched on Jerusalem, the life of the Jews was irrevocably changed forever. 

Rome and Jerusalem by Martin Goodman is a monumental study. His understanding of this era shines through in every page. Not only is this book a work written by a great scholar, but it is also presented in a vastly compelling way, which is not at all dry as some non-fiction books are. Not once did my interest waver.

Goodman writes with an elegant narrative that is compelling. It is perfect for those who want to know more about Jerusalem and the Eastern Roman Empire. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in Jewish history and the history of Jerusalem.

Rome and Jerusalem is a long book, but then so is the history of the region. Goodman has split the book into three separate parts. Part I explores both the Roman and Jewish culture. It also explores how their paths crossed and how their differences seemingly alienated one from the other. Part 2 looks at the destruction of Jerusalem. This was by far the most interesting section of the book. It was fascinating as well as informative. The last part looks at the growth of the Church. Goodman finishes his book off with a look at the rise of anti-Semitism.

There were a few gaps in the history, which I did find a little frustrating. Goodman is quite selective in what he included. However, as a resource book, when put aside others, it is excellent, and I found it straightforward to navigate. I will certainly be coming back to this book again and again.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx