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I should probably stress right away that the sketch which follows makes no pretensions to provide a complete overview of Second Temple Judaism; that would distract too much from the primary task, even if space permitted. My concern is rather threefold. First, to indicate something of the comprehensiveness of Judaism, not simply as a religion but also as what might be called a national ideology, or better, as a religion which encompassed the whole of life, education and family life, the law of the land and social relationships, not to mention economics and politics. Second, to give an impression both of the diversity of Second Temple Judaism and of what held it together as 'Judaism'. The hope, obviously, is, thirdly, that thereby readers may be the better able to situate Jesus within Second Temple Judaism, within its comprehensiveness and its diversity, and to identify more readily the points of distinctiveness and tension within his mission.

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