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Online Text for Josephus

Antiquities Book I Antiquities Book XI Wars Book I
Antiquities Book II Antiquities Book XII Wars Book II
Antiquities Book III Antiquities Book XIII Wars Book III
Antiquities Book IV Antiquities Book XIV Wars Book IV
Antiquities Book V Antiquities Book XV Wars Book V
Antiquities Book VI Antiquities Book XVI Wars Book VI
Antiquities Book VII Antiquities Book XVII Wars Book VII
Antiquities Book VIII Antiquities Book XVIII Life of Josephus
Antiquities Book IX Antiquities Book XIX Against Apion Book I
Antiquities Book X Antiquities Book XX Against Apion Book II

Perseus: The Wars of the Jews, Antiquities of the Jews, Against Apion, The Life of Flavius Josephus

Online Resources for Josephus

Offline Resources for Josephus

Information on Josephus

Emil Schürer writes: "The best known historian of Jewish affairs in the Greek language is the Palestinian Josephus, properly Joseph, the son of Matthias, a priest of Jerusalem. Of his two chief works one is, the Ιουδαικη Αρχαιολογια, a comprehensive delineation of the entire Jewish history from the beginning to his own times. It is the most extensive work on Jewish history in the Greek language with which we are acquainted, and has on that account so retained the lasting favour of Jewish, heathen and Christian readers, as to have been preserved entire in numerous manuscripts. . . . Notwithstanding its great difference from the philosophizing delineation of Philo, its tendency is similar. For it is the purpose of Josephus, not only to instruct his heathen readers, for whom it was in the first instance intended, in the history of his people, but also to inspire them with respect for the Jewish nation, both as having a history of hoary antiquity, and a long series of celebrities both in peace and war to point to, and as able to bear comparison in respect of laws and institutions with any nation (comp. especially Antt. xvi. 6. 8). The other chief work of Josephus, the History of the Jewish War from A.D. 66-73, gives the history more for its own sake. The events of these years are in themselves so important, that they seemed worthy of a detailed description. Perhaps it was written by command of Vespasian, from whom Josephus received an annual salary (Vita, 76), and to whom the work was delivered as soon as it was completed (contra Apion, i. 9; Vita, 65). If a tendency to boasting is detected in it, this refers rather to the individual Josephus and the Romans than to the Jewish nation." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 221-222)

Martin McNamara writes: "All of Josephus' four extant works are important sources for Jewish history and tradition. The first to be composed was The Jewish War—an account of the war of the Jews against the Romans. Josephus himself tells us that he wrote two versions of this. The first one was in his own vernacular, i.e. Aramaic, and composed for 'the up-country barbarians', i.e. the Aramaic-speaking Jews of the Parthian kingdom, especially those of Babylon. This edition is lost. The extant Greek version is an adaptation by Josephus himself of the Aramaic work. It was published about A.D. 78, when Josephus was about 40 years old. The next work to be published was The Jewish Antiquities, about sixteen years later (A.D. 94 or so). It appears that soon before the publication of The Antiquities Justus of Tiberias had published his history of the Jewish War, with serious accusation of misconduct during the war in Galilee directed against Josephus. It is possible that Josephus' third and autobiographical work, the Life, was published at the same time as the Antiquities and as a reply to Justus. Some scholars, however, maintain that the Life was published about A.D. 96, and may have appeared together with a second edition of the Antiquities that appeared between A.D. 93/94 and 100. Josephus' final extant work to be published was Against Apion, or to give its original title, On the Antiquity of the Jews. In the first part of this work Josephus sets out to refute the detractions and contentions of anti-Semitic writings. In the course of doing so he excerpts from a large number of works no longer extant. In the second part Josephus gives his positive defence of the Jewish people, setting forth the inner value of Judaism and its superiority over Hellenism. In this we have a rather full presentation of Jewish halakah as known to Josephus." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 239)

James C. VanderKam writes: "After preparing the Galilee militarily, Josephus led the fight in the north against the advancing Roman army under the command of Vespasian. The Romans defeated Josephus' forces and he himself was eventually captured by them. Josephus was brought before Vespasian and predicted that he would become emperor. Vespasian kept him in custody until he was indeed declared emperor by his troops in 69 CE in Egypt. At that point he released the prophetic Josephus, and the future historian returned to Judea with Titus, Vespasian's son, who now had the task of suppressing the revolt. At Titus's behest he would, from time to time, try to convince the defenders of Jerusalem to surrender, but to no avail; he was himself injured in the process (War 5.363-419)." (An Introduction to Early Judaism, p. 143)

Raymond F. Surburg writes: "In evaluating the historical worthiness of The Jewish War, it must not be forgotten that the Memoirs are written from a Roman point of view. 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 the Life does not present a consistent portrayal of the Galilean campaign. Laquer, in Der juedische Historiker Flavius Josephus suspects Josephus of deliberate misrepresentation of details so that he might find favor with his other patron, King Agrippa II." (Introduction to the Intertestamental Period, p. 165)

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