Books

Judaism in Transition 175 BCE to 150 CE: Christian and Jewish Perspectives, edited by James S. McLaren

This little book touches only briefly on Jesus, to history and posterity the most important figure in the period it covers, but it provides a good picture of the fertile soil from which Christianity grew 2000 years ago. Jewish society of the time was diverse, lively, literate and reasonably well recorded by ancient standards. There were many itinerant preachers and healers like the Jesus of the gospels, ascetic sects like the Essenes of the Dead Sea, various politically active Jewish extremists, an aristocratic high priestly caste, the hypocrisy-prone pharisees who were the middle managers of Judaism, other groupings, much intellectual…

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