Divisions in Judea

Among the many peoples within the Roman empire were the Jews. By 63 B.C., the Romans had conquered Judea. The Romans tolerated the religion of the Jews and even excused Jews, who were monotheistic, from worshiping Roman gods.

Among the Jews themselves, however, religious ferment was creating deep divisions. During the Hellenistic age, many Jews absorbed Greek customs and ideas. Concerned about the weakening of their religion, Jewish conservatives rejected these influences and called for strict obedience to Jewish laws and traditions.

The turmoil also had a political side. While most Jews were reluctantly willing to live under Roman rule, others, called zealots, were not. They called on Jews to revolt against Rome and reestablish an independent state. Some Jews believed that a messiah, or anointed king sent by God, would lead the Jewish people to freedom.

Rome Crushes the Jewish Revolt

In A.D. 66, discontent flared into rebellion. Four years later, Roman forces crushed the rebels, captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the Jewish Temple. When revolts broke out again in the next century, Roman armies leveled Jerusalem. Thousands of Jews were killed in the fighting, and many others were enslaved and transported to various parts of the empire.

Faced with a devastated land and defeated in their efforts to regain political independence, many other Jews decided to leave Judea. They joined Jewish communities around the Mediterranean, or in other parts of the Roman empire. Some Jews remained in the northern part of Judea, near the Galilee.

Over the centuries, Jewish religious teachers called rabbis extended and preserved the Jewish law and began to record their discussions in the Talmud. They developed the form of Judaism still practiced today, focusing on the study of the Torah, prayer, and acts of kindness. Despite the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem, Judaism survived.

The Teachings of Jesus

As turmoil engulfed the Jews in Judea, a new religion, Christianity, arose among them. It began among the followers of a Jew named Jesus. Almost all the information we have about the life of Jesus comes from the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Early Christians attributed the writing of these accounts to four followers of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Early Life and Teachings

Jesus was born about 4 B.C. in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. According to the Gospels, he was a descendant of King David of Israel. The Gospels say an angel told Jesus' mother, Mary, that she would give birth to the messiah. “He will be great,” said the angel, “and will be called the Son of the Most High God.”

Growing up in the small town of Nazareth, Jesus worshiped God and followed Jewish law. As a young man, he may have worked as a carpenter. At the age of 30, the Gospels relate, he began preaching to villagers near the Sea of Galilee. Large crowds gathered to hear his teachings, especially when word spread that he had performed miracles of healing. Jesus often used parables, or short stories with simple moral lessons, to communicate his ideas.

Painting of soldiers and cavalry invading an ancient city and causing destruction.

The Roman destruction of Jerusalem's temple in A.D.70 was one of the devastating consequences of the Jewish rebellion.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments