ALSO see Josephus’Writtings
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Electronic Encyclopedia - Cite This Source
Josephus, Flavius, A.D. 37-c.A.D. 100, Jewish historian and soldier, b.
See H. St. John Thackeray, Josephus (1929, rev. ed. 1968); T. Rajak, Josephus (1983); L. H. Feldman, Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1984); L. Feldman and H. Gohei, ed., Josephus, Judaism, and Christianity (1987).
Josephus (37 – sometime after 100 AD), who became known, in his capacity as a Roman citizen, as Titus Flavius Josephus, was a 1st-century Jewish historian and apologist of priestly and royal ancestry who survived and recorded the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70. His works give an important insight into first-century Judaism.
two most important works are Jewish War (c. 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94). Jewish War recounts the Jewish
who introduced himself in Greek
as "Iosepos (Ιώσηπος), son of Matthias,
an ethnic Hebrew, a priest
fought the Romans in the First Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 as a Jewish military leader in Galilee. After the
Jewish garrison of Yodfat
was taken under siege, the Romans invaded, killing thousands, and the remaining
survivors who had managed to elude the forces committed suicide. However, in
circumstances that are somewhat unclear, Josephus and one of his soldiers
surrendered to the Roman forces invading
In 71, he arrived in
first wife perished together with his parents in
life is beset with ambiguity. For his critics, he never satisfactorily
explained his actions during the Jewish war — why he failed to commit suicide
(Josephus) was conceited, not only about his own learning but also about the opinions held of him as commander both by the Galileans and by the Romans; he was guilty of shocking duplicity at Jotapata, saving himself by sacrifice of his companions; he was too naive to see how he stood condemned out of his own mouth for his conduct, and yet no words were too harsh when he was blackening his opponents; and after landing, however involuntarily, in the Roman camp, he turned his captivity to his own advantage, and benefitted for the rest of his days from his change of side.
his critics ignore the fact that Simon
Bar Giora and John
of Giscala, both extreme zealots and great opponents of Josephus,
who stayed in
dictates we should hate this man. But it's hard to get angry at Josephus. What,
after all, did he do? A few soldiers were tricked into suicide. Some
demoralizing claptrap was shouted at a beleaguered army. A wife was
distressed... all of which pale by comparison to what the good men did. For it was the loyal, the idealistic and the brave who did the real
damage. The devout and patriotic leaders of
Josephus was unquestionably an important apologist in the Roman world for the Jewish people and culture, particularly at a time of conflict and tension. He always remained, in his own eyes, a loyal and law-observant Jew. He went out of his way both to commend Judaism to educated Gentiles, and to insist on its compatibility with cultured Graeco-Roman thought. He constantly contended for the antiquity of Jewish culture, presenting its people as civilised, devout and philosophical.
that a statue of Josephus was erected in
The works of Josephus provide crucial
information about the First Jewish-Roman War and are also important literary
source material for understanding the context of the Dead
Sea Scrolls and post-Second Temple
Judaism. Josephan scholarship in the 19th and early 20th century became focused
on Josephus' relationship to the sect of the Pharisees. He was
consistently portrayed as a member of the sect, but nevertheless viewed as a
villainous traitor to his own nation - a view which became known as the
classical concept of Josephus. In the mid 20th century, this view was
challenged by a new generation of scholars who formulated the modern concept of
Josephus, still considering him a Pharisee but restoring his reputation in part
as patriot and a historian of some standing. Recent scholarship since 1990 has
sought to move scholarly perceptions forward by demonstrating that Josephus was
not a Pharisee but an orthodox Aristocrat-Priest who became part of the
offers information about individuals, groups, customs and geographical places.
His writings provide a significant, extra-biblical account of the post-exilic
period of the Maccabees,
the Hasmonean dynasty
and the rise of Herod
the Great. He makes references to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the
time, Pharisees and Essenes,
census and the Zealots,
and to such figures as Pontius
the Great, Agrippa
I and Agrippa
the Baptist, James the brother of Jesus,
and a disputed reference
to Jesus. He is an
important source for studies of immediate
A careful reading of Josephus' writings allowed Ehud Netzer, an archaeologist from Hebrew University, to confirm the location of Herod's Tomb after a fruitless search of 35 years - on top of tunnels and water pools at a flattened desert site, halfway up the hill to the Herodium, 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem - exactly where it should be according to Josephus writings.
years, the works of Josephus were printed only in an imperfect Latin
translation from the original Greek. It was only in 1544 that a version of the
Greek text was made available, edited by the Dutch humanist Arnoldus
Arlenius. The first English translation appeared in 1602 by Thomas
Lodge with subsequent editions appearing throughout the 17th century. However,
the 1544 Greek translation formed the basis of the 1732 English translation by William
Whiston which achieved enormous popularity in the English speaking
world and which is currently available online for free download by Project
Gutenberg. Later editions of the Greek text include that of Benedikt
Niese, who made a detailed examination of all the available
manuscripts, mainly from
The Jewish War
work in Rome was an account of the Jewish War, addressed to certain "upper
barbarians" – usually thought to be the Jewish community in Mesopotamia – in his
"paternal tongue" (War I.3), arguably the Western Aramaic
language. He then wrote a seven-volume account in Greek
known to us as the Jewish
Bellum Iudaicum). It starts with the period of the Maccabees and
concludes with accounts of the fall of Jerusalem, the Roman
victory celebrations in
against this background that Josephus wrote his War, and although often
dismissed as pro-Roman propaganda (perhaps hardly surprising given where his
patronage was coming from), he claims to be writing to counter anti-Judean
accounts. He disputes the claim that the Jews serve a defeated god and are
naturally hostile to Roman civilization. Rather, he blames the Jewish War on
what he calls "unrepresentative and over-zealous fanatics"
among the Jews, who led the masses away from their natural aristocratic leaders
(like him), with disastrous results. He also blames some of the governors of
The next literary work by Josephus is his
twenty-one volume Antiquities of the Jews, completed in the last
year of the emperor Flavius Domitian (between
1.9.93 and 14.3.94, cf.
AJ X.267). He claims that interested persons have pressed him to give a fuller
account of the Jewish culture and constitution. Here, in expounding Jewish
history, law and custom, he is entering into many philosophical debates current
with the story of Creation,
he outlines Jewish history. Abraham taught science to the Egyptians, who in
turn taught the Greeks.
Moses set up a
senatorial priestly aristocracy, which like that of
Josephus' Against Apion is a final two-volume defence of Judaism as classical religion and philosophy, stressing its antiquity against what Josephus claimed was the relatively more recent traditions of the Greeks. Some anti-Judean allegations ascribed by Josephus to the Greek writer Apion, and myths accredited to Manetho are also exposed.
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An expansive approach to the dramatic elements in Josephus’ writing is now ... Josephus’ life) and the long tradition of dramatic writing by historians, ...
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This is as peculiar in Greek as it is in English, and such a construction is not found elsewhere in Josephus' writing." Mason, op. cit., page 169. ...
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Josephus was writing for the Establishment - The final point to be ... One is that if Josephus is writing history—however briefly—and the Jesus he is ...
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The Works of Flavius Josephus is free at StudyLight.org for sermon, Bible study, and Sunday school preparation.
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Furthermore, the fact that Josephus is writing under imperial patronage tended to give the work a pro-Roman bias. A comparison between The Jewish War and ...
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Those who subscribe to the first theory suggest as another solution that the emperor's books was not published until after Josephus had completed writing ...
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Indeed, in Wars of the Jews, Josephus declares that Vespasian fulfilled the messianic oracles. Furthermore, Origen, writing about a century before Eusebius, ...
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It also makes sense for Luke to draw these three men from Josephus: since Josephus was writing for a Roman audience, if the Romans knew any Jewish rebels, ...
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