This collection of essays contains a state of the field discussion about the nature of revolt and resistance in the ancient world. While it does not cover the entire ancient world, it does focus in on the key revolts of the pre-Roman imperial world. Regardless of the exact sequence, it was an undeniable fact that the area we now call the Middle East witnessed a sequence of extensive empires in the second half of the last millennium BCE. At first, these spread from East to West (Assyria, Babylon, Persia). Then after the campaigns of Alexander, the direction of conquest was reversed. Despite the sense of inevitability, or of divinely ordained destiny, that one might get from the passages that speak of a sequence of world-empires, imperial rule was always contested. The essays in this volume consider some of the ways in which imperial rule was resisted and challenged, in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires. Not every uprising considered in this volume would qualify as a revolution by this definition. Revolution indeed was on the far end of a spectrum of social responses to empire building, from resistance to unrest, to grain riots and peasant rebellions. The editors offer the volume as a means of furthering discussions on the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution, the motivations for them as well as a summary of the events that have left their mark on our historical sources long after the dust had settled.
John J. Collins is Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University. His recent books include Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (2nd ed.; Fortress, 2014) and Scriptures and Sectarianism. Essays on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Mohr Siebeck, 2014). He is co-editor of the Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (2010) and the Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2010) and editor of the Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature (2014) and serves as general editor of the Anchor Yale Bible and Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library.
J.G. Manning is the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of History and of Classics at Yale with appointments also in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and at Yale Law School. His research has two primary research foci, the economic and legal History of the Hellenistic world, and Egyptian history in the long run. He is co-Director of the Yale Initiative for the Study of Antiquity and the Premodern World.
List of Abbreviations
Introduction. John J. Collins and J. G. Manning When is a Revolt not a Revolt? A Case for Contingency. Erich S. Gruen Assyria and Babylonia Revolts in the Assyrian Empire. Succession Wars, Rebellions against a False King, and Independence Movements. Karen Radner Assyria’s Demise as Recompense: A Note on Narratives of Resistance in Babylonia and Judah Peter R. Bedford Revolts in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: A Preliminary Discourse Analysis. Eckart Frahm The Persian Empire Xerxes and the Oathbreakers: Empire and Rebellion on the Northwestern Front. Matt Waters Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC. An Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered. John Lee Resistance, Revolt and Revolution in Achaemenid Persia. A Response. E. R. M. Dusinberre The Ptolemaic Kingdom Revolting Subjects. Empires and Insurrection, Ancient and Modern. Brian McGing Revolts under the Ptolemies. A Paleoclimatological Perspective. Francis Ludlow and J. G. Manning The Seleucid Empire Resistance and Revolt. The Case of the Maccabees. Robert Doran Temple or Taxes? What Sparked the Maccabean Revolt? John J. Collins The Roman Empire The Importance of Perspective. The Jewish-Roman Conflict of 66-70 CE as a Revolution James McLaren and Martin Goodman Josephus, Jewish Resistance and the Masada Myth. Tessa Rajak The Impact of the Jewish Rebellions, 66 – 135 CE. Destruction or Provincialization? Seth Schwartz Bibliography
All those interested in the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires.