This book is in part an abbreviation, rethinking, updating and re-orientation of Schwartz 2001. If it is unusually argumentative for a Key Themes book, that is because the topic demands, I would argue, an argumentative rather than a magisterial style, but it is far less argumentative than its remote source. It is more concerned to present a historical narrative, as far as possible, and to give full accounts of various issues in political history, especially the Jewish rebellions of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, which were given short shrift in the earlier book. I have also made an effort to summarize the most relevant new archaeology of the past decade. Most bibliographical items cited in The Ancient Jews were published after 2000.
I could not have written this book without a year of leave, in 2012–13, a semester of which I owe to the happy arrival in May, 2012, of Jonah Margolin-Schwartz. I owe the rest to the goodwill and ingenuity of Mark Mazower and Margaret Edsall. I thank René Bloch for his comments on Chapter 2 and Beth Berkowitz for her comments on Chapters 5 and 7, though neither is responsible for any remaining defects. I derived immense benefit from numerous e-mail exchanges with Hannah Cotton; Walter Ameling and John Ma gave me important advice about Hellenistic Jerusalem, and John sent me in addition some not yet published papers which contain the most original ideas about the background of the Maccabean Revolt since Bickermann’s. I am likewise grateful to Gil Gambash for sending me his manuscript on the British and Jewish revolts against Rome. My gratitude to Peter Garnsey and Paul Cartledge for their good-humoured encouragement and support should go without saying. Paul’s editorial interventions were an education in themselves. Michael Sharp, the editor for Cambridge University Press, has been unfailingly kind and helpful. The emotional roller-coaster ride of parenthood has finally distracted me, now and then, from history (though it has, alas, completely deprived me of television, too), and for that I thank the aforementioned Jonah, his big sister Ayelet, and Judy. With any luck by the time I finish the next book I’ll have the TV back.