This volume by an internationally know New Testament scholar and historian offers a concise history of the complex and often obscure period, from the Jewish exile to the completion of the New Testament writings and the onset of the age of martyrs, which was of such crucial significance for Judaism and Christianity. The author's attention is concentrated on the political, social and religious factors in this period. Beginning with the period in which Judea was under Persian rule, from which much of the religion and cultural heritage of Judaism derives, the author goes on to describe the process of hellenization that occurred after the conquest of Alexander the Great when Persian rule came to an end. The major portion of the book is devoted to the New Testament era proper, when Palestine was under Roman domination. Finally, the author traces the events which led to the ultimate divorce of Christianity and Judaism.