Over the past years, I have been writing a (Dutch) book about the Jewish world at the beginning of the common era. Of course, this is hardly an original theme, but the existing books usually discuss Temple Judaism as a kind of preliminary to either Rabbinical Judaism (leaving out Christianity) or Christianity (leaving out the halachic debates). I wanted a book that dealt with ancient Judaism in itself.
It was published recently. After some preliminary chapters about the historical context (the revolt of the Maccabees, the Hasmonaean dynasty, king Herod, the establishment of Roman rule), the three core chapters deal with the halachic debates, Josephus‘ rendering of these debates, and the eschatological ideas.
There’s of course a chapter about Jesus, focusing on his halachic ideas, and the rise of Christianity. A chapter on the Jewish War forms the end of the book, although I have added a kind of preview to the parting of ways.
There’s also an appendix on hermeneutics and the sources, and a brief essay on the current problems in explaining ancient history to a larger audience: there’s no lack of books, but they are either directed to a very general public or to specialists. Readers who are seriously interested in ancient history (and you know: about a third of the western population has received a higher education), have been neglected; I cannot refer those most interested to secondary literature, because that’s either too easy or too complex.
As I said, the book is in Dutch, but for my English-speaking friends, there is a summary here. Because the English market is essentially locked to foreign books, I do not expect an English translation. A Dutch synopsis is here and if you read Dutch, you can order book here.