David Mytton

Book Review (3/5) – A History of Judaism (Martin Goodman)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

I suspect this book is not really aimed at mainstream, general readers. It reads much more like an academic work that explains the history of Judaism in detail. This is quite different, although related, from a history of Jews as a people, and so focuses much more on the religion itself. This includes the various sub-groups and types of Judaism, where they came from and how they have developed.

Given the level of detail, it makes for difficult reading. I found the history quite difficult to follow, mainly due to the many intricate branches of how Judaism has developed over thousands of years. If the reader is interested in the historical elements then I would recommend Simon Sharma’s “A History of the Jews” instead.

However, I found the final section on more contemporary issues of Judaism much more accessible. It offers a useful understanding of Judaism from the Renaissance period through to the modern day, although only provides a high level description of the formation and structure of Israel as a Jewish state.