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Without Josephus's writing, however, we'd know nearly nothing about several centuries of Jewish history. Still, when hearing Josephus's name, grown scholars, serious women and men, allow their eyebrows to crease, their lips to purse.

The Ancient Romans and Jews (The Jewish War and Revolt)

It's like, well, if you mention Hillary Clinton without immediately assuring everyone in sight that "of course she was a very flawed candidate. But refer to Josephus in polite academic company, and you'll see: both the ancient writer and you will be become objects of scorn. Most of us learn about Josephus not in daily life or ritual but in formal Jewish Studies coursework, so it's worth reflecting on our experiences of introduction. Sitting in a professor's office in Grey Building, a sunlit office next to the neo-Gothic Duke Chapel. We translated Josephus from the Greek, line by line.

There was no biography, no context. We just translated the Greek sentences and talked about grammar.

AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

There was a general knowing wave of the arm toward his untrustworthiness. In Religious Studies, a certain kind of liberal scholar is most terrified of the word "apologist. As one of the few figures of overlap between Jewish and Christian Studies, Josephus has taken the brunt of all of this discursive uncertainty. Everyone gains, it seems, by scorning him. It's also the case that Josephus's biography and his writings are situated at the intersection of cultural conflict and identity, as are many scholars. If you haven't embodied notions of hybridity and the multicultural, if you tend to lean toward singular communities and away from the intellectual imaginarium of a globalized, motion-filled world, then Josephus's complexity, his ability to overlap and live in several worlds, and additionally, his veering away from Jewish militarism won't seem like merits.

What Is So Special About Josephus?

If you're able, though, to consider the ancient first century differently, to imagine what it sounded like, to reconsider the complexities of identity, and to consider what the emotional world that created everything from early Christianity to the rabbinic movement may have felt like, then Josephus becomes quite interesting. This is the heart of my historian's transgression: to meet Josephus head on and humanly. Look around. He's the dude with his heart on his sleeve.

If you actually read his writing, this becomes easier and easier to see.

Flavius Josephus between Jerusalem and Rome : his life, his works and their importance

Josephus has gotten a bad rap for living between two cultures, for not being a pure Jewish rebel. I disagree, really. I think much of our best work comes from living at the margins and in multiple uncomfortable places. For most of his teens and twenties he was a bit of an aristocratic fop, popping between Rome and Jerusalem, hanging with the ruling-class sons of both cities. The First Jewish Revolt changed everything. After accomplishing this mission through the intercession of Nero's wife, Poppaea, he returned to Jerusalem to find the country in revolt against Rome.

Josephus was an eyewitness to history, and his writings are considered authoritative. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 49 pages. Published May 16th first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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More filters. Sort order. As a Biblical scholar and historian you have to read the primary sources. I have always wanted to engage Josephus for myself but felt daunted by the task. Don't be daunted--it's not that hard.

Villain of the Christmas story, King Herod realized a bold new vision of a Roman Judaea.

However, it was difficult to keep my momentum going when the little sections started blurring together. First I led some soldiers to Sepphoris and then we went to Tiberius and then Justus was treacherous so I fought him.


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The men of Galilee love me I As a Biblical scholar and historian you have to read the primary sources. I have a man crush on Vespasian. It was interesting to see Jewish idioms outside of the Bible and villages in the Galilee that never appear in the Bible at all. The title itself may mislead modern readers because this is mainly an account of Josephus' military campaigns and peace keeping ventures.

As he mentions at one point, he is trying to counter what another historian has written about these events and about Josephus' actions. Important for a scholar but not the most enjoyable read.

Aside from the early portion and the final portion of this ancient autobiography, the author presented a confusing, self-serving, and overly detailed depiction of a very short portion of his life--his involvement in the Jewish Wars. This is especially surprising as he focused a much longer work on the actual events of the Jewish War that was substantially more readable. Here, he seemed obsessed with defending every action he made during this time. His defense is poorly structured and suggests to Aside from the early portion and the final portion of this ancient autobiography, the author presented a confusing, self-serving, and overly detailed depiction of a very short portion of his life--his involvement in the Jewish Wars.

His defense is poorly structured and suggests to the reader that Josephus was clumsy, self-motivated, and apt to change alliances at the drop of a hat. He describes himself as a great general, basing this on his ability to avoid fighting as much as possible. He characterizes his enemies as notorious liars, but doesn't really provide evidence to support this view.

He skates over the fact that he was the only one of his officer corps to survive a suicide pact in the chief battle he actually fought, and lost, against the Romans. A battle he came out of smelling like a rose, when he switched sides and flattered the commander with a prophesy that he would one day be emperor, which through a series of disjointed events -- he actually did.

Why you must be thinking, would I give this as high a rating as three stars? A reasonable question. I have to say watching a shady but crafty character try, unsuccessfully, to obscure his obvious deficiencies almost years ago, is quite engaging. This isn't history; it's unintentional farce. Billy the Kid: His Life and Legend. Peter the Great: His Life and World. Recommend Documents. Siqueiros: His Life and Works Opposite the entrance Your name.

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