Over the Border

For some centuries, Jews of the Second Temple era lived in a world that was definitely multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. That was true of course in Diaspora communities, but between, say, 200 BC and the 60s AD, Palestine itself was a mosaic of different ethnicities and religions. No Jew there had to travel more than a [Read More…]

Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing and the Jewish War

Palestine in Jesus’s time was a much more complex and diverse place than we might sometimes think from the standard colonial imagery of Roman soldiers oppressing Jewish subjects. As I have described, there were plenty of other groups in Palestine and neighboring regions, and Jews and Gentiles lived in close proximity. There were also substantial [Read More…]

Peoples Beyond Palestine

I have been posting about the shifting boundaries of the Jewish world during the Second Temple era, and of Jewish political power. By the start of the Common Era, the Herodian family definitely ruled on behalf of the Roman Empire, but the territories in which they operated were far more diverse, ethnically and religiously, than [Read More…]

Palestine, Judea, and the Wider World

I have been working on the Second Temple era of Jewish history, of what is sometimes called the Inter-Testamental period (roughly 300 BC – 50 AD). I am increasingly aware of the need to define the geographical scope of any such project, and the quite radical changes that through the centuries affected the limits of [Read More…]

Naming Palestine

I post frequently on matters of Biblical history, and on occasion I naturally have to give a geographical location, to suggest for instance that a given king ruled over the territory. I use the term “Palestine,” and that requires a word of explanation – not, you understand, apology. In my usage, Palestine refers to the [Read More…]


One of the really impressive books I have read on the subject of Global or World Christianity is Lamin Sanneh’s autobiography, Summoned from the Margin. The book has any number of reasons to recommend it, but I was struck by one remarkable passage he quotes from Winston Churchill. While nothing can dim Churchill’s overall achievement, [Read More…]