The History of Jews and Judaism

Facts and Fictions

by Alan T. Levenson


American Jews are often seen as rich, white, and privileged, but Roman-era Jews were seen as "Eastern," lazy, and poor.

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Cover image for The History of Jews and Judaism

January 2021


Pages 237
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/History
  World History/Religion
  • Forthcoming!




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No group arguably has been the subject of more fictitious imaginings than Jewish people. This book examines historical misconceptions related to Jews, Judaism, and the facts behind the myths.

Jewish people, whether in the Middle East or around the world, have a rich and complex history. They have made numerous contributions to world civilization. At the same time, they have been subject to persecution ranging from name-calling to genocide. Over time, a number of false beliefs have developed and spread about Jews and Judaism. This book examines some of the historical misconceptions related to Jewish people and their faith and sets forth the truths behind the myths.

Included are chapters on particular misconceptions related to Jews and Judaism, such as that Jews in ancient Israel practiced Judaism, Jews are a race, Judaism opposed Christianity, and Judaism thrived under Islam. Each chapter explores how the misconception arose and spread, as well as what we now believe to be the truth and why we believe it. Excerpts from primary source documents provide evidence for the truths behind the myths and help show why people believed in the misconceptions.


  • Chapters discuss particular misconceptions related to Jews and Judaism and how those misconceptions developed and spread.
  • Chapters discuss what we now believe to be the truths behind the myths.
  • Excerpts from primary source documents provide evidence for why people believed in the misconceptions and for what we now consider the historical truths.
  • A bibliography directs readers to additional sources of information.
Series Description

Historical Facts and Fictions

Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? Did the Egyptians really worship animals and gods with animal heads? History is full of misconceptions that have been passed down as historical facts and become rooted in the popular imagination. This series explores historical fictions and what we now believe to be historical truths. Each book focuses on a particular topic, such as a period, event, civilization, movement, religion, or person, and explores roughly 10 misconceptions. Chapters summarize the misconception, discuss how it arose and was propagated, and explain what is now taken as historical fact. The series helps readers think critically about the past and prepares them to be equally critical of the present.
Author Info

Alan T. Levenson is Schusterman/Josey Professor of Jewish History at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of many books and articles on the modern Jewish experience, with special emphasis on the role of the Bible in modern Jewish culture.

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