Many Jews assume that the destruction of the Second Temple was a cataclysm threatening the survival of the Jewish people. They understand the Diaspora as a trauma and thank the rabbis for, presumably, stepping in to save Jerusalem. But history informs us that Judeans had long since developed thriving communities throughout the Mediterranean and Babylonian worlds. In this cours, we will explore the many ways in which Judeans creatively managed and co-created emerging forms of Judaism during Second Temple times and through the early centuries of the Common Era. We will discover why Jewish practice of this period can be described as vibrant, diverse, and confidently engaged in lively dialogues with surrounding cultures. Finally, we will look at how and when the rabbis and their work emerged as a critical part of the Jewish project.