For purposes of this Guide, ancient Jewish history will encompass:

  • Chronologically: from the beginning of the Second Temple era to the Byzantine period (commonly set to commence with the reign of Constantine the Great and the building of Byzantium or Contstantinople, c. 324-330CE).
  • Geographically: the lands then inhabited by Jewish communities, i.e., the Land of Israel and the diaspora (including the lands bordering on the Mediterranean Sea and those in present day Syria and Iraq).
  • Time Periods: divided according to political developments in the Land of Israel as follows:
    • 538 - 332BCE         Persian period
    • 332 - 164BCE         Hellenistic period
    • 164 - 63BCE           Maccabean period
    • 63BCE - 330CE      Roman domination
  • Major themes: composition of the last of books of the biblical canon and of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings, development of Halakhic literature and religious practice, rise and decline of sects, Hellenization and acculturation, nationalism, resistance against and accommodation to foreign rule.


Primary source - "an artifact, a document, a recording or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic." (Wikipedia)

Secondary source - a source "that was created later by someone who did not experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions you’re researching.” (VILLAG online)

Scholarly or Peer reviewed articles - Sometimes you'll hear terms like "scholarly," "academic," "peer-reviewed," "refereed," "empirical study" or "research" used interchangeably to describe a type of journal or journal article. They're related but not necessarily the same. Here's a quick lowdown:

  • scholarly or academic journals: usually refers to the journals in which the scholarship or research of an academic discipline is published. These journals include research articles, but may also include book reviews, editorials, letters to the editor, etc. Scholarly journals are usually but not always peer-reviewed.
  • peer-reviewed or refereed journals (or articles): refers to those journals that submit contributed articles to a panel of experts in the discipline for review prior to publication. Students are often advised to seek out peer-reviewed articles, as the peer-review process provides a greater assurance that the research presented is sound.
  • research or empirical research: Research articles describe and document research conducted by the author(s). Empirical studies are based on data derived from observation or experimentation. Research articles usually comprise an abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, list of references and appendices