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Comments by Michael Calum Jacques author of '1st Century Radical'.,
This review is from: Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (Paperback)
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. As a summary reading of the various reviews posted about this book will reveal, it is relatively easy thing to find cavils with another scholar's work, but the task of reconstructing periods of history from the ancient world is an intricate one and can be, at times, a patently thankless exercise.
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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Initial post: Nov 25, 2008 10:23:37 AM PST
Daniel Weitz says:
As a retired PhD on Roman History and Jewish, I look forward to reading this with a notebook as you suggested!
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