Tel Aviv University professor Bar-Kochva offers scholarly discussions of the views expressed by twelve Greek authors on the topic of Jews and Judaism prior to the Roman rule of the East. They are divided between those who wrote from the time of the Greek conquest (333 BCE) until the persecutions of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes IV (168 BCE), and those who wrote thereafter, from the time of the Hasmonean Revolt until the conquest of Syria and Judea by the Romans under Pompey (63 BCE). Together, this literature encompasses much of the extant evidence and offers a representative sample of the prevailing views among Greek intellectuals writing for a variety of reasons, from philosophical to historical, among others. Instead of one viewpoint being expressed, or a simple progression from, for example, positive to negative evaluations, Bar-Kochva finds an array of opinions, some surprising, and traces their interdependence. It becomes clear that there were far fewer negative comments than will characterize the Roman period, following the failed Revolt of the late 60’s CE, or in the Christian period, although more negative comments do arise to explain and legitimate the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes, as well as to denounce the Hasmonean aggression it sparked. Bibliography, index.
Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., University of Kansas, is the author of Mysteryof Romans, winner of the 1996 National Jewish Book Award, Charles H. RevsonAward in Jewish-Christian Relations.