Intertestamental period
The intertestamental period is a term used to refer to a period of time between the writings of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 and the Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 texts. Traditionally, it is considered to be a roughly four hundred year period, spanning the ministry of Malachi
Malachi, Malachias or Mal'achi was a Jewish prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He had two brothers, Nathaniel and Josiah. Malachi was the writer of the Book of Malachi, the last book of the Neviim section in the Jewish Tanakh...

 (c. 420 BC), the last of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 prophets, and the appearance of John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 in the early 1st century AD
Christianity in the 1st century
The earliest followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic, Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The Apostles and others following the Great Commission's decree to spread the teachings of Jesus to "all nations," had great success spreading the religion to gentiles. Peter,...

, almost the same period as the Second Temple period
Second Temple period
The Second Temple period , in Jewish history, is the period between 530 BCE and 70 CE, when the Second Temple of Jerusalem existed. It ended with the First Jewish–Roman War and the Temple's destruction....


Several of the deuterocanonical books, accepted as Scripture by Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, were written during this time, so it is sometimes also referred to as the deuterocanonical period. In addition, many Biblical scholars believe that several Hebrew Bible books were in fact composed much later than 400 BC including Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

, Ezra-Nehemiah
Ezra-Nehemiah is the combined biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah - the two were originally one, but were divided by Christians in the 3rd century CE, and in Jewish circles in the 15th century...

 and Chronicles.

Persian rule

400-330 BC, Persian rule under Artaxerxes I, Darius II
Darius II
Darius II , was king of the Persian Empire from 423 BC to 405 BC.Artaxerxes I, who died on December 25, 424 BC, was followed by his son Xerxes II. After a month and a half Xerxes II was murdered by his brother Secydianus or Sogdianus...

, Artaxerxes II, Artaxerxes III, Arses and Darius III.

Hellenistic Period

330-328 BC, Greek
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 Conquest of Alexander the Great; spread of the Greek language.

The conquest of Alexander the Great in 330 BC not only brought the Jews under Grecian domination, see also Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

, but also introduced the Greek language and ideas throughout the ancient world.

Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

 and Seleucid dynasties, 323-166 BC.

After the death of Alexander, his kingdom was divided, and a struggle between the Ptolemies of Egypt and the monarchs of Syria ensued, resulting first in Egyptian, then in Syrian, rule over Judea.

The latter was a dark period in Jewish history, especially during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king, who committed many outrages against the Jews, sought to establish idolatry in Jerusalem (abomination of desolation
Abomination of Desolation
The abomination of desolation is a term found in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Daniel. It also occurs in the book of 1 Maccabees and in the New Testament gospels....

), and defiled the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...


Jewish Independence

Under Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

 and Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 dynasty 166 BC - 63 BC, spreading teaching of unity of God, messianic hope and Scriptures.

Antiochus' activity led to the Maccabean revolt, 166 BC in which the priest Matthias and his sons defeated the Syrians in a series of battles, which secured the independence of the providence of Judea.

This was the foundation of the Hasmonean dynasty, which reigned from 166 - 63 BC.

Roman Rule

Around 63 BC, Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 of Rome conquered Palestine, putting all of Judea under Roman control. This eventually led to Herod
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 being made king of Judea by the senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

. This would be the nation that taxed and controlled the Jews, and eventually executed Jesus on a Roman cross, see Responsibility for the death of Jesus for details. Roman, Greek, and Hebrew cultures (and others) were now mixed together in Judea. The Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 is commonly associated with the establishment of stable government, uniform laws, and Roman roads, water and sewerage systems. Nevertheless, there were several Roman-Jewish Wars before the region was finally fully subjugated.

Significant events

  • Translation of the Jewish scriptures into Koine Greek
    Koine Greek
    Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

    , known as the Septuagint
  • Establishment of the synagogue
    A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

  • Aramaic becomes the common language of the Jewish people
  • Dynasty of Herod the Great
    Herod the Great
    Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

  • Production of copies of the Hebrew scripture and other related writings, known as Dead Sea Scrolls
    Dead Sea scrolls
    The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

     when unearthed in mid 20th century.
  • Production of the 14 books of the Apocrypha. (ISBE, vol 1, p. 457)
  • Production of the Pseudepigrapha. (ISBE, vol 1, p. 457)

Development of Jewish sects

  • Pharisees
    The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

  • Sadducees
    The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

  • Zealots
  • Essenes
    The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests...

     sect at Qumran
    Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

Events Immediately Preceding Jesus

Announcement to Zechariah of the forerunner of Jesus (Luke 1:5-17);

The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

 to Mary of the coming Messiah (Luke 1:26-35);

Preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-6);

See also

  • History of Christianity
    History of Christianity
    The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

  • Timeline of Christianity
    Timeline of Christianity
    The purpose of this timeline is to give a detailed account of Christianity from the beginning of the current era to the present. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates....

  • Chronology of Jesus
    Chronology of Jesus
    The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

  • History of ancient Israel and Judah
    History of ancient Israel and Judah
    Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of ancient Palestine. The earliest known reference to the name Israel in archaeological records is in the Merneptah stele, an Egyptian record of c. 1209 BCE. By the 9th century BCE the Kingdom of Israel had emerged as an important local power before...

  • Cultural and historical background of Jesus
    Cultural and historical background of Jesus
    Most scholars who study the Historical Jesus and Early Christianity believe that the Canonical Gospels and life of Jesus must be viewed as firmly placed within his historical and cultural context, rather than purely in terms of Christian orthodoxy...

  • Missing years
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