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Please join us Wednesday, February 21 at noon for The Cristol Lecture "False and True Messiahs: Rome's Jewish Wars in Jewish Memory" with Guy Chet Professor of History at the University of North Texas.

The lecture will be available via Zoom webinar. CLICK HERE to register.

Generously supported by The Louis and Frieda Cristol Endowment for Academic Programming in Jewish Studies

In the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, Judea launched two major rebellions against the Roman Empire.   These revolts represented a major military challenge to Rome, but it suppressed them both with brutal efficiency.   Rome's Jewish Wars had a tremendous impact on Jewish history, putting an end to Jewish sovereignty in Judea, precipitating the Jews’ 2,000-year exile from their homeland, and changing the practice of Jewish worship.   But they also had an important impact on Roman history, by bringing about the final split between Jews and Christians.   This transformed Christianity into a persecuted religion that eventually supplanted the Roman religion.  

For almost 2,000 years, Judaism remembered the rebel leaders as reckless zealots, nationalist hotheads, and promoters of a false messiah.   They were seen as contemptible characters responsible for the brutal Roman suppression, the loss of sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the massive toll of death, dispossession, and enslavement, and the endless miseries that Jews’ subsequently suffered in the diaspora as a despised minority in Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East.   During the 20th century, however, the leaders of the Jewish rebellions were suddenly and retroactively transformed – rehabilitated in Jewish memory as heroic and admirable national role-models.

Guy Chet ( is Professor of History at the University of North Texas, teaching classes on early-American and military history.  His first book (Conquering the American Wilderness: The Triumph of European Warfare in the Colonial Northeast) is a study of English and American military culture.  Addressing narratives of Americanization and Anglicization, it points to trends of cultural continuity between the Old World and the New.  This theme of transatlantic cultural cohesion is at the heart of his second book, on Atlantic piracy and illegal trade (The Ocean is a Wilderness: Atlantic Piracy and the Limits of State Authority, 1688-1856), as well as his latest book, on the origins, nature, and ends of the American Revolution (The Colonists’ American Revolution: Preserving English Liberty, 1607-1783).  Although a specialist in early-modern history, Chet’s first love was and still is Roman history.