Thursday, December 03, 2015

Review of Rudich, Religious Dissent in the Roman Empire

Vasily Rudich, Religious Dissent in the Roman Empire: Violence in Judaea at the Time of Nero. Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. Pp. xxiv, 350. ISBN 9780415161060. $160.00.

Reviewed by William den Hollander, Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (


The monograph under review is in more than one way a bold one. While his expertise as a Roman historian certainly provided Rudich with a valuable foundation for the present study, and his earlier examinations of dissident psychology led naturally to this analysis of violent religious dissent,1 his focus on Roman Judea necessitated a brave plunge into unfamiliar territory, a virtual quagmire of scholarly literature that he admits to having underestimated initially (xi-xii). The high degree to which he immersed himself in the ancient texts and modern scholarship is, however, a credit to his industry and a direct benefit to the depth of his contributions—although it should be noted that he closed his ‘dossier’ by the end of 2011, so that the book does not necessarily reflect the latest trends in scholarship.