Memoria Press is a classical education company that publishes high quality materials. We recently received The Wars of the Jews set to review and it was the perfect finish to Miss E’s 9th grade literature for the year. This is a ten lesson course that takes a look at the historical fulfillment of the prophesies regarding the fall of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 70 at the hands of the Roman empire.
The Wars of the Jews is recommended for grades 9 and up, which seems to be a solid recommendation. The set includes three books:
- The Wars of the Jews: The Fall of Jerusalem text by Josephus
- The Wars of the Jews Student Guide (single use book)
- The Wars of the Jews Teacher Guide
There are samples on the website for each of these books.
The text The Wars of the Jews: The Fall of Jerusalem is an English translation (by William Whiston) of the writing of historian Josephus. Josephus was a Jew who was captured and became a Roman advisor and citizen. He is considered to be a leading historian of the times and was present with the Roman army at the siege and fall of Jerusalem.
The 141 page long soft cover text is Book V, chapters 6-13 and Book VI, chapters 1-10 of Josephus’ writings. There are also endnotes in the text. This is an historical text and as such, it presents some challenges. The language or phrasing can sound different to our ear and that means that it is sometimes beneficial to read a passage out loud to help understand it. Also, there are many people presented that had a role in this event and it takes some effort to keep them straight.
It is a classical text and so is not a fast read. The time spent in reading the text helps the reader to really understand why Jerusalem was an important city and why it was one the Romans felt it necessary to overtake. The Jews were fighting a lot amongst themselves and the Romans really benefited from this disunity. The text begins by introducing us to the Jews in the city. It then carries us through the Roman siege, the change in leadership of the Roman army, and the final destruction of the city.
The text has included helpful maps of Jerusalem so that students can understand the movements of the Romans and the Jews and how the strategy of attack worked. There are photos of historical sites, such as the wall of Jerusalem and the site of Antonia. There are drawings of what the temple looked like and Roman siege weapons such as the catapult. There is also pictures of statues such as the one of Titus and another of a curved trumpet. These all help the student to understand the historical context and importance of this event.
The endnotes are related to people and places in the text that benefit from further explanation. They are correlated to the text through numbers and are easy to find. They are helpful and interesting.
The Student Guide for The Wars of the Jews is also a softcover book that is about 8 1/2 x 11 inches. It includes 26 pages of work for the student. It has a Table of Contents, the lessons, and a review. Each lesson covers two pages. The lesson includes Facts to Know, which are important people, places, words, and quotes. It then has several comprehension questions with blanks for the student to write in. Some of the lessons include vocabulary words. The final review is three pages long and reviews all ten lessons in preparation for a test.
The Teacher Guide is the same size as the Student Guide and is almost an exact replication of it. The difference is that the Teacher Guide includes the answers to each of the comprehension questions and part of the review. It also includes a reproducible test and test answer key.
I really enjoyed this text and appreciated that it was a short study to fit nicely at the end of the school year. Miss E was able to complete the study in about three weeks, working on one lesson per school day.
We had listened to an audio drama earlier this year about the fall of Jerusalem so it was good to be able to follow that up with the historical account of the events. That kind of connection is beneficial.
One thing I would love to see included in the Teacher Guide is a page number reference for where the answer is within the text for the comprehension questions. I read through the text and I struggled to help Miss E with some of the questions that she had because I couldn’t find the passage. I could read her the answer from the Teacher Guide but it always makes a lot of sense to be able to go back to the text and read the passage, putting the answer in context.
Miss E’s Thoughts:
The Wars of the Jews was really interesting. I did find some of it hard to understand because of the language. I have read, and really enjoyed, a fiction book that was set right after the fall of Jerusalem. Some of the characters in The Wars of the Jews were mentioned in the book I read. This gave me a little bit more of an insight into everything that had happened before the start of that book. I think that this was a really good “school thing” but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone for just reading, though I have a friend who would probably enjoy reading it for pleasure. It would be a good fit for probably as young as some 7th graders (my sister could have used this set) and be too easy for some high schoolers.
We have had the pleasure of reviewing many things from Memoria Press. These include:
- First Form Latin
- Traditional Logic
- 6th grade Literature Set
- Greek Myths
- Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set
Lori, At Home.
Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews from other families who reviewed The Wars of the Jews, as well as
- Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) and Simply Classical Writing Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition),
- Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words and Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words, and
- The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History set.