15 APRIL 1938, Page 30


Now that Whiston's Josephus is no longer to be found in every small library, as it was half a century ago, Mr. Jones's learned and well-written account of the historical setting of the Gospels and Acts (Clarendon Press, 8s. 6d.) will be new to many readers. He traces dearly the rise to power of Herod the Great on the ruins of the Hasmonean dynasty (the Maccabees), showing how skilfully that able tyrant tacked and veered between the rival Roman parties and at last emerged as the trusted ally of Augustus. Herod made Judaea pros- perous but could never induce the orthodox Jews to forget that he was an Idumaean convert- or that he ruled for an alien power. His magnificent Templeand other public works earned him no grad -nide. After him the Romans found Judaea a desperate problem. Archelaus, Herod's son, had to be deposed. Direct Roman rule was tried for a genera- tion. Then Herod's grandson, Agrippa I, by the favour of Claudius, ruled for three years and, dying in 44, was succeeded by Roman procurators under whom the religious fanaticism gradually swelled till it burst out in the fatal revolt of 677o when Jerusalem was destroyed by Tinis. No part of the Empire can have been more familiar with violence than Judaea in ill,: time of Christ, and Herod with all his brutality is seen in this vivid narrative to have understood his turbulent subjects - Mr. Jones has grappled successfully with the complications of the ilerodian pedigree, and his sketch-maps are new and

very useful. -