From the time of Cyrus to the time of Herod, except for a brief period of independence in the second and first centuries BC, Judea was subservient to either the Persians, the Hellenistic kingdoms, or the Romans. Only in the area of religion did the Jews maintain their freedom almost without interruption. Their greatest tangible achievement in these centuries was in literature. During this period Israel’s Scriptures emerged in their final form, summing up a thousand years of Israel’s religious history and becoming the foundation of all subsequent Judaism and of early Christianity. This book examines Jewish history against the background of the successive kingdoms which controlled Judea.
The author discusses the political situation in Judea and the social and economic conditions in so far as we can know then, and the early literary and religious developments. He then moves on to a discussion of the literature of the second and first centuries BC: the scholarly and pietistic traditions, apocalyptic and historical writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the completion of the canon. A brief general bibliography is appended.
The author makes excellent use of the sources available, and assesses them with a finely critical eye. He writes not only for students of early Judaism, but also for the general reader.
About the author
W.S. MCCULLOUGH is a graduate of the Unviersity of Toronto and of Harvard University. He has been a member of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in the University of Toronto since 1930, and, since 1952, has held the rank of Professor.
‘An extremely concise, well-organized, and succinct account of its subject.’