In this basic introduction to post-biblical Jewish history, the author examines the elements that shaped the Jewish people after their return from the Babylonian Exile in 538 B.C., and transformed them from an insignificant nation into a religious community and major historical force. The process of growth and development is shown as culminating in one of the great historical events of antiquity: the meeting of Jew and Greek. This confrontation of Mosaic religion and Hellenic culture, the author shows, had begun even before Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Orient in 333 B.C. While struggling to preserve their spiritual heritage, and even rebelling against Greek political domination, the Jews, unlike other Mediterranean peoples, succeeded in assimilating Greek concepts and methods into their native thought. Out of this prolonged contact a richer and stronger community emerged, one which bore within it the seeds of both rabbinic Judaism and its eventual offspring, Christianity.
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