Josephus

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Flavius Josephus 37 - 101 A.D. Jewish general and historian who took part in the Jewish revolt against the Romans and later worked for a Roman patron. Josephus would become close friends with the emperors Vespasian and Titus, taking their family name, Flavius. Josephus born into a priestly family and a descendant of the Hasmoneans, was well educated and at age 19 became a Pharisee.

Writings

A prolific writer, Josephus' works, in ancient Greek, not only include his own biography but also The Antiquities of the Jews and The Wars of the Jews. His writings, especially concerning events of the first century, are considered of particular interest as they provide extra-biblical references to key events recorded in the Bible and are considered to provide additional insight into Jewish thought, background and history of the ancient world.

The Antiquities of the Jews Is Josephus' recounting of Jewish history from Creation to first-century Roman Procurator Florus in a total of 20 books, broken into a number of chapters. The Jewish Encyclopedia indicates that it was Josephus' motive in writing the history was to both glorify the Jewish people and their history in the eyes of the Greco-Roman world and to counteract what he considered to be false histories being circulated that degraded the Jewish nation.
Surviving early copies and translations of his writings make some references to the life and death of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and Jesus' brother James the Just.
A few modern scholars are skeptical of the passages in Josephus' writings that refer to Jesus, believing they were inserted by copyists during the middle ages. While the longer passage (the "Testimonium Flavium") most probably contains at least a few interpolations, the passage for the most part is considered genuine by most scholars. A copy of the Testimonium was found in Agapian that contained no signs of interpolation. The citation about John the Baptist, and about James the brother of Jesus, are considered to be genuine.
†The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3.3.63-64; Chapter 5.2.116-118; Chapter 9.1.200.
The Wars of the Jews provides a general history of Jewish warfare and contains 7 books, broken into a number of chapters. The history covers the time from Anitochus Ephiphanes taking Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabees to the taking of Jerusalem by Titus to the sedition of the Jews at Cyrene.

See also

References

  • Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times,Peter Lang Publishing (2003).
  • William Whiston, The Works of Josephus, Complete and Unabridged, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. (1987)
  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Josephus
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