Goldstein, Jonathan A(mos) 1929-2004

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GOLDSTEIN, Jonathan A(mos) 1929-2004

PERSONAL: Surname pronounced "gold-stine"; born July 19, 1929, in New York, NY; died December 1, 2004 in Iowa City, IA; son of David Aaron and Rose (Berman) Goldstein; married Helen C. Tunik (a professor), February 1, 1959; children: Rise Belle, Rachel Sarah. Education: Harvard University, A.B. (cum laude), 1950, A.M., 1951; Jewish Theological Seminary of America, M.H.L., 1955; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1959.

CAREER: Columbia University, New York, NY, instructor in ancient history, 1960-62; University of Iowa, Iowa City, assistant professor, 1962-67, associate professor, 1967-70, professor of ancient history and classics, 1970-97, emeritus professor, 1997-2004.

MEMBER: American Historical Association, Association of American Historians, American Philological Association, Archaeological Institute of America, American Academy for Jewish Research, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright study award in Israel, 1959-60.


The Letters of Demosthenes, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1968.

(Author of introduction) Anchor Bible: Maccabees I, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1976.

(Translator and author of introduction and commentary) II Maccabees, Doubleday (Garden City, NJ), 1983.

Semites, Iranians, Greeks, and Romans: Studies in Their Interactions, Scholars Press (Atlanta, GA), 1990.

Peoples of an Almighty God: Competing Religions in the Ancient World, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of articles and reviews to learned journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Jonathan A. Goldstein was a professor emeritus at the University of Iowa and the author or translator of a number of books on ancient history, with a special emphasis on religions and Near Eastern civilizations. Goldstein spoke French in addition to Hebrew and read German, Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, and Aramaic, skills that served him well in his Biblical studies and in book-length works such as Semites, Iranians, Greeks, and Romans: Studies in Their Interactions and Peoples of an Almighty God: Competing Religions in the Ancient World. The latter, published in 2002, is a "chronological textbook survey on history, culture, and the power of belief to craft a national identity," according to Library Journal's Sandra Collins.

In the book, Goldstein argues that other ancient people besides the Hebrews believed in a monolithic god. According to Goldstein, the Babylonians were also influenced by such a belief. Employing "rich, exhaustive and often overwhelming" historical detail, as Jana Riess of Publishers Weekly commented, the author examines Hebrew and Babylonian literature to discover the central place that "Yahweh" and "Marduk" held respectively for these two civilizations. These two religions then competed for primacy in the ancient world by touting the primacy of their respective gods. Collins went on to note that Goldstein's book was a "lengthy, detailed discussion" that was "worth joining." Similarly, Riess felt that the author "succeeds" in demonstrating the competition between the two religions, but also thought that his "turgid prose and staggering detail" could be off-putting to some readers. Likewise, Peter Machinist, reviewing the same book in Interpretation, found that "Goldstein's book is full of dense analysis that is provocative and often rewarding, but not always easy reading." For America's Daniel J. Harrington, Peoples of an Almighty God provides a "comprehensive account of ancient Near Eastern history from the eighth to the second centuries B.C." Harrington went on to call the book "Goldstein's magnum opus." Writing in the Anglican Theological Review, Anathea E. Portier-Young had further praise for the work, observing that Goldstein "brings together the fruit of extensive research and massive erudition in multiple disciplines, wielding the tools of source, genre, redaction and textual criticism with masterful force." And David L. Petersen in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly called the volume "erudite and original."



America, March 11, 2002, Daniel J. Harrington, review of Peoples of an Almighty God: Competing Religions in the Ancient World, pp. 18-19.

Anglican Theological Review, winter, 2003, Anathea E. Portier-Young, review of Peoples of an Almighty God, pp. 197-198.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, July, 2003, David L. Petersen, review of Peoples of an Almighty God, pp. 436-438.

Interpretation, January, 2003, Peter Machinist, review of Peoples of an Almighty God, pp. 84-85.

Library Journal, February 1, 2002, Sandra Collins, review of Peoples of an Almighty God, pp. 106-107.

Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2002, Jana Riess, review of Peoples of an Almighty God, p. 56.

Religious Studies Review, April, 1988, review of II Maccabees, p. 167; April, 1992, review of Semites, Iranians, Greeks and Romans, p. 153.*

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