A History of Judaism

Happy Hanukkah! This week's review looks back at the history of Judaism

A History of Judaism

Goodman, Martin. Princeton, 2018
623p bibl index, 9780691181271 $39.95, 9781400890019

A History of Judaism book cover

Goodman (Jewish studies, Univ. of Oxford, UK) has produced a magnificent, well-researched history of Judaism from the Second Temple period into the present. He has, interestingly and uniquely, chosen to tell the early part of this history through a sophisticated reading of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, incorporating other sources where necessary and appropriate. For later periods, Goodman utilizes a broad range of both primary and secondary sources. He writes clearly and engagingly, guiding readers through key moments in the development of Judaism. He also provides a detailed literary portrait of many key figures involved in this history (Maimonides, the Baal Shem Tov, Abraham Geiger, and many more). A significant theme running throughout is how Judaism was shaped by surrounding cultures, such as Hellenistic influence in the later Second Temple period, Islamic influence in the early Middle Ages, and Christian influence in later periods in Europe. Scholars of Judaism will certainly find minor details in this presentation with which to quibble, but most will acknowledge that this volume is a valuable contribution to the field of Jewish studies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
J. M. Bos, University of Mississippi
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Middle Eastern Studies
Subject: Humanities – Religion
Choice Issue: Sep 2018

Enjoy this week’s review? Check out more reviews of related titles: