Originally written in Yiddish by a newspaper editor now living in Tel Aviv, this is a long leaden novel about the period of instability in Jewish history during the first and second centuries. The Pharisees, upholders of religious tradition and holders of civil power, are opposed by the Saducees, Hellenized humanists who, interestingly, command the military. When dispute leads to clash, the Romans finally move in--and that's that. Embodying the Pharisee/Saducee split are Anti-pater and the hero, Artapanos. Tsanin's grip on his history is sure, and his message is clear: ""Why did Jews long to run away from themselves? Why was it that a Greek did not wish to be a Roman? Why was it that an Arab did not wish to be a Cretan? Or a Roman an Egyptian? Yet there were always Jews who wished to be what someone else was, yet not what they were in themselves."" But the presentation here is elephantine and clumsy, history made puppet-show--only for the previously-learned or the very tolerant.