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Eloquently, learnedly, persuasively, Gruen invites the reader of his new book to consider familiar evidence from the Jewish past from a new—one might say a non-diaspora—perspective. His point is simple, but its historical implications are profound. As he observes, in the nearly four hundred years that stretch between Alexander the Great...and the emperor Nero...Jews could be found in large numbers, and in well-established communities, throughout the Mediterranean. Neither military compulsion nor the vicissitudes of captivity had brought most of them to those places. To state the point a little differently: the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 C.E. did not cause the second diaspora. Many ancient Jews—probably most ancient Jews—had by that point lived outside the land of Israel for centuries. They did so, evidently, because they wanted to do so.
— Paula Fredriksen