Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah was one of the key founders of rabbinic Judaism. Together with rabbis Johanan ben Zakkai and Gamaliel II he helped his people face the crisis of late first and early second century Judaism in the wake of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been the center of Jewish religious life.
Like other Hillelites, he was relatively open toward Gentiles, and his influence is thought to have prevented, at least temporarily, a second Jewish rebellion against Rome. For Rabbi Joshua, righteous Gentiles had a place in heaven alongside Jews. At the same time he was a vehement opponent of Jewish Christians who blamed their fellow Jews for rejecting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and who claimed that God had removed his blessing from the people of Israel who did not follow Jesus.
Along with Johanan ben Zakkai, Gamaliel II, and Akiba, Rabbi Joshua is one of the most quoted sages of the classical rabbinic literature. He was also a peacemaker and a unifier. Although he opposed the strict interpretation of the rabbis of the house of Shammai and promoted the ultimate triumph of the broad-minded views of the house of Hillel, he deeply respected his theological opponents and forgave those who did him wrong.