The Origins of Judaism provides a clear, straightforward account of the development of ancient Judaism in both the Judean homeland and the Diaspora. Beginning with the Bible and ending with the rise of Islam, the text depicts the emergence of a religion that would be recognized today as Judaism out of customs and conceptions that were quite different from any that now exist. Special attention is given to the early rabbis' contribution to this historical process. Together with the main narrative, the book provides substantial quotations from primary texts (biblical, rabbinic and other) along with extended side treatments of important themes, a glossary, short biographies of leading early rabbis, a chronology of important dates and suggestions for further reading.
Robert Goldenberg is Professor of History and Judaic Studies at Stony Brook University (SUNY). He has published in numerous journals, including the Journal of Jewish Studies, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Judaism, Harvard Theological Review, the Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods, and Jewish Studies Quarterly. His most recent book is The Nations that Know Thee Not: Ancient Jewish Attitudes toward Other Religions (1998).
Abbreviations and references; Introduction; 1. The prehistory of Judaism; 2. The beginnings of Monotheism; 3. The book and the people; 4. Crisis and a new beginning; 5. The first kingdom of Judea; 6. Diaspora and homeland; 7. A century of disasters; 8. The rebirth of Judaism; 9. The Rabbis and their Torah; 10. The end of ancient history; Appendix 1. Three sample passages from the Babylonian Talmud; Appendix 2. Rabbinic biographies; Appendix 3. The Sabbath in the history of Judaism; Glossary; Chronology; Bibliography.