on 1 May 2007
Though there is undeniable bias and, in fact, some minor contradictions in this famous work (e.g., Josephus confuses the name of the Syrian officer Apelles who was killed by the Maccabees at Modin in "The Antiquities of the Jews," calling him Bacchides - who was actually another Syrian general the Maccabees fought in later encounters - in "The Wars of the Jews."), this is an essential historical work for any student of the period. It was in reading Josephus while in graduate school that I was inspired to write my own book "Maccabee." What I found particularly intriguing was Josephus's discussion of the political machinations and the vying for power from the time of the Judas Maccabeus right up to the time of Christ. Though I would not use the works of Josephus as a tool for biblical authentication (there are plenty of other sources that serve that purpose), the history he has recorded certainly provides a better understanding of the tumultuous world into which Jesus Christ was born.
on 13 July 2014
This (the Thomas Nelson edition) is the cheapest version of Josephus on the market, so I purchased it. It's got everything in it, complete and unabridged. The text is clear and easy on the eyes.
The only problem, and one I could not have seen online, is the quality of the paper. It is obviously inferior to the Hendrickson edition. I have the Hendrickson edition of Philo, which is part of 3 book collection also including Eusebius.
So just bear that in mind when purchasing. Quality or price. If I could have chosen I would have paid the extra few £'s, for the extra quality. I can imagine the Hendrickson lasting decades longer than the Nelson.
The Jewish author of what for Christianity has become perhaps the most significant extra-biblical first century testimony. He confirms the historicity of Christ and his early followers, his works covering Jewish history from approximately 200 years before Christ to the dramatic account of the fall of Masada in 73 AD. Archaeological work there and elsewhere in Palestine consistently shows Josephus' accuracy in detail, just one example being the recent discovery of the tomb of Herod the Great.
The oldest of Josephus' writings is entitled 'The Jewish War'. It is believed that he prepared this account to present the Jews with a graphic portrayal of Rome's superior strength and to provide a deterrent against future revolts. These writings scrutinize Jewish history from the capture of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes (in the second century BC) to the turbulent strife of 67 AD. As an eyewitness, Josephus then discusses the war climaxing in 73 AD.
Another of Josephus' works was 'The Jewish Antiquities', a detailed history of the Jews. Starting with Genesis and Creation, it continues to the outbreak of war with Rome. Josephus wrote a personal narrative entitled simply 'Life'. In it he seeks to justify his stand during the war and attempts to allay accusations brought against him by critics of his decision to collaborate with Rome. A fourth work, 'Against Apion', defends the Jews against misrepresentations.
There is no doubt that much of Josephus' history is accurate. In 'Against Apion', he shows that the Jews never included the Apocryphal books as part of the inspired Scriptures. He gives testimony to the accuracy and internal harmony of the divine writings. Says Josephus: "We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, . . . but only twenty-two books [the equivalent of our modern division of the Old Testament into 39 books], which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine."
In 'Jewish Antiquities', Josephus adds interesting detail to the Biblical account. He says that "Isaac was twenty-five years old" when Abraham bound him hand and foot for sacrifice. To the Scriptural account of Israel's departure from ancient Egypt, Josephus adds these particulars: "The number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots, with fifty thousand horsemen, and two hundred thousand footmen, all armed." Josephus also says that "when Samuel was twelve years old, he began to prophesy: and once when he was asleep, God called to him by his name" (See 1 Samuel 3:2-21).
Other writings of Josephus give insight into taxes, laws, and events. He names Salome as the woman who danced at Herod's party and who asked for the head of John the Baptizer. (Mark 6:17-26) Most of what we know about the Herods was recorded by Josephus.
Just 33 years after Jesus gave his prophecy concerning Jerusalem and its temple; the fulfilment began to unfold. Radical Jewish factions in Jerusalem were bent on throwing off the Roman yoke. In 66 AD, news of this prompted the mobilizing and dispatching of Roman legions under Syrian governor Cestius Gallus. After wreaking havoc in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Cestius' men pitched camp around the walled city. Using a method called testudo, the Romans successfully combined their shields like the back of a tortoise for protection from the enemies on the city wall. Attesting to the success of this method, Josephus states: "The darts that were thrown fell, and slid off without doing them any harm; so the soldiers undermined the wall, without being themselves hurt, and got all things ready for setting fire to the gate of the temple."
"It then happened," says Josephus, "that Cestius . . recalled his soldiers from the place . . he retired from the city, without any reason in the world." Evidently without intending to magnify God's Son, Josephus recorded the very act that Christians in Jerusalem had awaited. It was the fulfilment of Jesus Christ's prophecy! Years earlier, he had warned: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her; because these are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:20-22) As Jesus instructed, his followers quickly fled the city, stayed away, and were spared the agony that befell it over three years later.
When Roman armies returned in 70 AD, the consequences were recorded in graphic detail by Josephus. Vespasian's eldest son, General Titus, came to conquer Jerusalem, with its magnificent temple. Within the city, warring factions attempted to take control. They resorted to extreme measures, and much blood was shed. Some "were in such distress by their internal calamities, that they wished for the Romans," hoping for "delivery from their domestic miseries," says Josephus. He calls the insurgents "robbers" engaged in destroying the property of the wealthy and murdering men of importance--those suspected of willingness to compromise with the Romans.
Graphically depicting the civil war, Josephus described living conditions in Jerusalem plunging to unimaginable depths. The seditious themselves "fought against each other, while they trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another." They plundered the populace, murdering for food and wealth.
Titus exhorted the Jews to surrender the city and thus save themselves. He "sent Josephus to speak to them in their own language; for he imagined they might yield to the persuasion of a countryman of their own." But they reproached Josephus. Titus next built a wall of pointed stakes around the whole city. (Luke 19:43) With all hope of escape cut off and movement restricted, famine "devoured the people by whole houses and families." The continuing battle added to the death toll. Unknowingly fulfilling Bible prophecy, Titus conquered Jerusalem. Afterward, observing its massive walls and fortified towers, he exclaimed: "It was no other than God that ejected the Jews out of these fortifications." Over one million Jews perished.
After the war Josephus went to Rome. Enjoying the sponsorship of the Flavian Emperors, he lived as a Roman citizen in the former mansion of Vespasian and received an imperial pension along with gifts from Titus. Josephus then pursued his literary career, to our lasting benefit, indeed, it has been noted we know more about first century Jerusalem than we do about fifteenth century London, thanks to Josephus.
on 22 September 2009
Josephus lived in Israel in the time of Jesus. He was a participant in the war between the Jews and the Roman army, starting on the jewish side but he
switched sides when he saw what way the war was heading. Josephus was also a very good writer an has written several god books, all gatered in this volume.
One of them is a book on the war between the Jews and the Romans (The war of the Jews). An other one, my favorit, is a coment on the Bibles Old Testament. This one is my favorit because it gives a good look into the way the Jews read, and understood, the scriptures at the time of Jesus. This gives a good
basis for understanding why Jesus taught using the words and pictures of speech he did.