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HIST3170 Rome and Jerusalem: From Pompey to Nero Part 1

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The main aims of this module are: • to introduce students to the history of the Jews under Roman rule; • to familiarize students with a wide range of relevant primary evidence for this subject (with written sources in translation); • to encourage students to explore different political, cultural and religious responses to Roman domination .

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Key historiographical and conceptual approaches to the history of the Jews under Roman rule
  • The challenges of interpreting relevant ancient sources and techniques for analyzing them;
  • Roman policy towards subject peoples of the Roman Empire, focusing on the Judaea and the Palestinian region;
  • Jewish responses to Roman domination from the Late Republic to the First Jewish War against Rome.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply analytical techniques to a wide range of evidence;
  • Formulate and communicate critical judgments coherently and effectively, in formal written exercises;
  • Carry out small-scale research projects, working with a large degree of independence;
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyze primary evidence by applying relevant techniques and theory to its interpretation;
  • Construct in-depth accounts of events, historical figures, historical concepts, etc, by relating evidence to wider contexts
  • Reflect critically on the historiography of Roman imperialism and Jewish history


The spread of Roman power and influence to the eastern Mediterranean, the collapse of the former hellenistic kingdoms (to which many Jews had migrated after the conquests of Alexander), the fall of the Roman Republic and the emergence of the Roman Empire: this is the context for some of the most fundamental developments in Jewish history, including events that would profoundly shape the future of east and west. This course examines Roman policy towards Judaea and the Palestinian region, from Pompey’s conquest of Jerusalem (63 BCE), to Rome’s creation of a client kingdom under Herod the Great and his descendants, to the formation of the province of Judaea under Roman prefects and procurators, culminating in the outbreak of the First Jewish War against Rome in 66 CE. Key topics for study include: the conquest of Jerusalem under Pompey the Great; the world of Herod the Great; Judea under Pontius Pilate and other Roman prefects; religious groups within Judaism (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls); Jesus of Nazareth and messianic Judaism; the emperor Gaius Caligula and the Jerusalem Temple; Nero and the outbreak of the First Jewish War against Rome. Our chief witness for events is Josephus, Jerusalem priest, rebel leader, Roman prisoner, and, finally, author of the seven-volume world classic, the history of the Jewish War. Josephus’s accounts of the War and the centuries leading up to it provide unique firsthand insights into the experiences of a subject people under Roman domination. Other sources for study include the Dead Sea Scrolls; Philo of Alexandria; the New Testament; Greek and Latin authors; archaeological evidence and inscriptions

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Special Subject teaching is delivered by means of two weekly seminars, guided reading, independent research, and completion of assessments.

Independent Study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: the Clash of Ancient Civilizations, 2007. 

Tessa Rajak, Josephus: The Historian and his Society, 2002. 

Peter Schäfer, The History of the Jews in the Greco-Roman World, 2003. 

E.M. Smallwood, The Jews under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian, 2nd edn, 1981. 

Adam Kolman Marshak, The Many Faces of Herod the Great, 2015. 

Steve Mason, Orientation to the History of Roman Judaea, 2016. 

Helen Bond, Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation, 2004. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 50%
Timed Assignment  (1500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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