100 books like Heritage and Hellenism

By Erich S. Gruen,

Here are 100 books that Heritage and Hellenism fans have personally recommended if you like Heritage and Hellenism. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Josephus: The Historian and His Society

Guy MacLean Rogers Author Of For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

From my list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for the topic of relations between Jews and Romans goes back to my introduction to the subject in an undergraduate seminar at University College London taught by the late, great Oxford historian Sir Fergus Millar. Taking the seminar with Millar and reading Josephus’ detailed account of the great revolt of Jews against Romans in 66 CE fascinated me: how and why would a small group of Jews take on the ancient world’s only superpower? This is a question that I've been thinking about for almost 50 years and have now written up my answers to in my book For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

Guy's book list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire

Guy MacLean Rogers Why did Guy love this book?

Flavius Josephus was a first-century CE Jewish-Roman priest and general and the author of several works about the history of the Jews and Rome, including one about the Jewish Revolt of 66-74 CE. Famouslyor infamously—Josephus fought on the side of the Jewish rebels at the beginning of the war, but then changed over to the Romans after his failed defense of the Jewish fortress of Iotapata. In her biography of Josephus, Tessa Rajak provides an accessible, balanced, and brilliant portrait of Josephus and his world. Rajak’s biography helped me to understand how and why the writings of Josephus, Jewish patriot and traitor, are essential to understanding the causes, course, and outcome of the greatest revolt in Roman imperial history.

By Tessa Rajak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Josephus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Josephus, author of the "Jewish War" and the "Jewish Antiquities", belongs equally to Jewish and to Greco-Roman history. A well-to-do priest and Pharisee at Jerusalem, he was a contemporary and chronicler of the great changes which took place in the Roman Empire in the first century AD and a controversial general in the great Jewish revolt of 66-73 against Rome. Tessa Rajak, an ancient historian versed in both Greek and Hebrew, assesses the varied source material to produce a sociological account of the Jewish revolt which casts fresh light on Josephus' attitudes, placing his achievement in the context of both…


Book cover of Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth

Guy MacLean Rogers Author Of For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

From my list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for the topic of relations between Jews and Romans goes back to my introduction to the subject in an undergraduate seminar at University College London taught by the late, great Oxford historian Sir Fergus Millar. Taking the seminar with Millar and reading Josephus’ detailed account of the great revolt of Jews against Romans in 66 CE fascinated me: how and why would a small group of Jews take on the ancient world’s only superpower? This is a question that I've been thinking about for almost 50 years and have now written up my answers to in my book For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

Guy's book list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire

Guy MacLean Rogers Why did Guy love this book?

In 74 CE, 960 Jews on top of the rock fortress of Masada reportedly took their own lives rather than surrender to a Roman army. Their defiant self-sacrifice became a modern, nationalist rallying cry in Israel: “Masada shall not fall again.” Jodi Magness, who directed excavations of the Roman siege-works at Masada and is one of the preeminent archeologists of the ancient world, has written a superb book about Masada, describing its physical setting and development, the history of the site’s excavation, the story of the Roman siege, and the creation of Masada’s hotly contested modern myth. What happened in Masada in 74 CE continues to fascinate, inspire and trouble us: this book explains why.

By Jodi Magness,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new account of the famous site and story of the last stand of a group of Jewish rebels who held out against the Roman Empire

Two thousand years ago, 967 Jewish men, women, and children-the last holdouts of the revolt against Rome following the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple-reportedly took their own lives rather than surrender to the Roman army. This dramatic event, which took place on top of Masada, a barren and windswept mountain overlooking the Dead Sea, spawned a powerful story of Jewish resistance that came to symbolize the embattled modern State…


Book cover of Jerusalem Under Siege: The Collapse of the Jewish State, 66-70 C.E.

Guy MacLean Rogers Author Of For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

From my list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for the topic of relations between Jews and Romans goes back to my introduction to the subject in an undergraduate seminar at University College London taught by the late, great Oxford historian Sir Fergus Millar. Taking the seminar with Millar and reading Josephus’ detailed account of the great revolt of Jews against Romans in 66 CE fascinated me: how and why would a small group of Jews take on the ancient world’s only superpower? This is a question that I've been thinking about for almost 50 years and have now written up my answers to in my book For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

Guy's book list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire

Guy MacLean Rogers Why did Guy love this book?

Based upon a stellar doctoral dissertation written at Princeton University Jonathan Price’s monograph about the first four years of the war of Jews against Romans is a treasure trove of information and insights about Jewish history, the various factions within Jewish society, and the tragic destruction of the Jewish Temple and a large part of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Sharp intelligence, learning, engagement, and balanced judgment can be found on every page of this impressive and readable book.

By Jonathan J. Price,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jerusalem Under Siege as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This internal history of the Jewish rebellion traces factionalism among the Jews from the decades before the war's outbreak through the constantly shifting and dangerous alliances that reigned in Jerusalem from 66 to 70 C.E.; rivalries and divisions are revealed even in the structure of the Jewish army and in the patterns of famine and desertion during the siege. Classical, rabbinic, archaeological and numismatic evidence are brought to bear on a new interpretation of Josephus' Bellum Judaicum.


Book cover of Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations

Guy MacLean Rogers Author Of For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

From my list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for the topic of relations between Jews and Romans goes back to my introduction to the subject in an undergraduate seminar at University College London taught by the late, great Oxford historian Sir Fergus Millar. Taking the seminar with Millar and reading Josephus’ detailed account of the great revolt of Jews against Romans in 66 CE fascinated me: how and why would a small group of Jews take on the ancient world’s only superpower? This is a question that I've been thinking about for almost 50 years and have now written up my answers to in my book For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews Against Romans, 66-74 CE

Guy's book list on history of Jews and the Roman Empire

Guy MacLean Rogers Why did Guy love this book?

This is a work on a grand scale about Rome and Jerusalem and relations between Romans and Jews written by a scholar of both Jewish and Roman history. It goes into great depth about the cultural, political, and religious beliefs and practices of Romans and Jews and uses the evidence for them to explain how and why these two ancient civilizations repeatedly came into tragic conflict. This book is probably the best and most informative guide to the antecedents of the great revolt of Jews against Romans.

By Martin Goodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rome and Jerusalem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial history of the titanic struggle between the Roman and Jewish worlds that led to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Martin Goodman—equally renowned in Jewish and in Roman studies—examines this conflict, its causes, and its consequences with unprecedented authority and thoroughness. He delineates the incompatibility between the cultural, political, and religious beliefs and practices of the two peoples and explains how Rome's interests were served by a policy of brutality against the Jews. At the same time, Christians began to distance themselves from their origins, becoming increasingly hostile toward Jews as Christian influence spread within the empire. This is the…


Book cover of Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

From my list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

Martha Marks Why did Martha love this book?

The empire-shaking Great Revolt looms over my second and third novels, and Faulkner’s book illuminated it for me in a way that nothing else did. He unravels the interwoven historical, social, religious, ethnic, cultural, and political conflicts that led to the disastrous Jewish rebellion against Rome. His work is controversial in some quarters because it goes against the grain of Christian thinking about this time and place. Personally, I found it revealing and eloquent. To me, this a must-read for anyone trying to understand the “why” behind the cataclysm that befell the Jewish people between 66 and 73 AD and still impacts our world today.

By Neil Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Apocalypse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ancient Palestine was a ferment of social and ideological conflict. Full-scale insurrectionary revolt exploded in AD 66 and took on a revolutionary character as moderate upper-class leaders were pushed aside and replaced by popular radicals. The war that followed was bitterly fought, and culminated in the five-month siege of Jerusalem in the summer of AD 70. which ended with the fall and destruction of the city amid appalling atrocities. Mopping-up operations concluded with the spectacular siege of Masada in AD 73. First published in 2002. Dt Neil Faulkner's acclaimed Apocalypse is a gripping account of a series of events that…


Book cover of Dangerous Voices: Women's Laments and Greek Literature

Fiona McHardy Author Of Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature

From my list on women and revenge in Greek tragedy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for Greek literature began as a child when I was captivated by Greek myths and epic tales. As a student, I became fascinated with tragic revenge plots involving women, especially mothers who kill their children, and since then, I have published extensively on gender and violence in ancient Greek literature and life. I speak modern Greek and love thinking about these topics in traditional Greek folk poetry and literature as well, especially works like Alexandros Papadiamantis’ The Murderess and Pantelis Prevelakis’ The Sun of Death.

Fiona's book list on women and revenge in Greek tragedy

Fiona McHardy Why did Fiona love this book?

The focus of this book is on the power women could wield through public lamentation of the dead, with particular attention to their abilities to demand vengeance through their songs. Holst-Warhaft makes use of modern Greek laments to put forward an argument about the dangers of women’s voices instigating violence and to suggest this is why the ancient Athenians wanted to restrict women’s lamentation.

I find particularly fascinating the preserved laments of women from Mani where they claim to have taken revenge themselves, such as the nineteenth-century lament of Kalopothos Sakkakos in which his sister Paraski says she poisoned his killers (her husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law) in revenge.

The intersections between motifs in these folk songs and ancient tragedies are enlightening.

By Gail Holst-Warhaft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dangerous Voices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Dangerous Voices Holst-Warhaft investigates the power and meaning of the ancient lament, especially women's mourning of the dead, and sets out to discover why legislation was introduced to curb these laments in antiquity. An investigation of laments ranging from New Guinea to Greece suggests that this essentially female art form gave women considerable power over the rituals of death. The threat they posed to the Greek state caused them to be appropriated by male writers including the tragedians. Holst-Warhaft argues that the loss of the traditional lament in Greece and other countries not only deprives women of their traditional…


Book cover of Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Author Of Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century

From my list on Black-Jewish relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor who teaches and works in the field of African American History. Because I am both white and Jewish, I’ve been repeatedly asked to give talks about relationships between African Americans and white Jewish Americans, and about what “went wrong” to shatter the “grand alliance” of the civil rights movement embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I had no answer, but I suspected that none of the stories that we had been told, whether good or bad, were fully true. So I went back to the sources and uncovered a complex and multilayered history. Black and Jewish collaboration was never a given, and underlying tensions and conflicts reflected the broader realities of race and class in the U.S. In the book I explored how these historical and political forces operated, and continue to resonate today.

Cheryl's book list on Black-Jewish relations

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Why did Cheryl love this book?

Too often “Black-Jewish relations” focuses on Jewish engagement in the Black civil rights struggle, a largely one-sided political narrative. This book broadens that horizon in two ways. First, it focuses on the Black experience and encounter with the other, rather than the Jewish one. Second, it explores the religious dimension that political discussions often ignore – that the Black experience with Jews and Judaism is as much rooted in religion as in politics.

By Yvonne Patricia Chireau (editor), Nathaniel Deutsch (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Zion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Black Zion explores the myriad ways in which African American religions have encountered Jewish traditions, beliefs, and spaces. The collection's unifying argument is that religion is the missing piece of the cultural jigsaw puzzle, that much of the recent turmoil in black-Jewish relations would be better understood, if not alleviated, if the religious roots of those relations were illuminated. Toward that end, the contributors look a number of provocative
topics, including the concept of the Chosen People, the typological identification of blacks with Jews, the actual identification of blacks as Jews, the sacredness of space and symbols, the importance of…


Book cover of Rifka Takes a Bow

Gloria Koster Author Of Dance the Hora, Isadora

From my list on lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a school and public librarian as well as a writer. I also serve as a member of the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education. We review hundreds of books each year for consideration of a place on our list –The Best Children’s Books of the YearI've chosen to recommend some lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters or themes because a number of my own books fit into this category. Mitzi’s Mitzvah, Little Red Ruthie, and Dance the Hora, Isadora! are three of my Jewish themed books. Each of these titles has been selected by PJ Library, an organization that sends a book each month to children.

Gloria's book list on lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters

Gloria Koster Why did Gloria love this book?

This book reflects the author’s own experience as a child during the heyday of Yiddish theater. It’s an exciting story that will engage kids with a slice of history as they imagine themselves taking to the stage and enjoying the thrill of the limelight. So many Jewish-themed books focus on the holidays, so it’s refreshing to have others that just reflect Jewish life in the past or the present.

By Rebecca Rosenberg Perlov, Cosei Kawa (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rifka Takes a Bow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Rifka's parents are actors in the Yiddish Theater in New York, but one day Rifka finds herself center stage in a special role! A slice of immigrant life on New York's Second Avenue, this is a unique book about a vanished time and a place – the Yiddish theater in the early 20th century―made real through the telling of the true life story of the 96-year-old author as a little girl.


Book cover of Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

Eugene Borowitz was the leading liberal Jewish theologian of the 20th and early 21st century. Although this book may be challenging for those disinclined to read dense theology, it is presented in a more popular way and contains a theology that has informed the lives of many Jews, including myself. 

By Eugene B. Borowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renewing the Covenant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Borowitz creatively explores his theory of Covenant, linking self to folk and God through the contemporary idiom of relationship.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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