(Revised and expanded edition; commentary by Paul L. Maier) Unabridged. Includes harmony of Greek and English numbering systems, table of Jewish weights and measures, Old Testament text parallels, twenty full-page illustrations, and an updated index.
Josephus was a Jewish
Oddly, as much as Josephus was hated, he became very important to Christians, because of his references to Jesus Christ. But scholars now doubt their authenticity. In one passage, the famed Testimonium Flavianum, Josephus names Jesus as the Messiah. Some through the centuries even claimed Josephus to be a Christian. (If you read my book about Revelation, you’ll come away with just the opposite opinion; Josephus may have played a surprising role in the story of Revelation!)
This book contains all four of Josephus’ writings:
The Jewish War, which describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
The Life of Flavius Josephus, his own autobiography, which ends up as little more than a defense against the various attacks on his integrity during his governorship in Galilee.
Jewish Antiquities, a Bible-driven history of the Jews from the beginning of time.
Against Apion, a defense of Judaism.
Josephus is attempting to tell the story of Israel to the
Josephus remains an important source for Jewish history from the days of Alexander the Great to his own time, particularly in his treatment of the Herods. He is a witness to the rise of early Christianity; the extent of that witness has been disputed for a long time. Josephus is quite biased against the Jewish zealots who instigated and perpetuated the First Jewish War; they're portrayed in a quite terrible light, but we're likely not to know any better since he remains the best source that comes down to us.
It must always be remembered that Josephus is trying to explain the Hebrews and Judaism to a Greco-Roman world, and he has no compunction in describing Jewish realities in Greek paradigms. Jewish sects are described as if different philosophical schools; Hebrew poetry is described as if it is like Homeric verse. For too long many have gone down unproductive rabbit trails in trying to legitimate the use of these descriptive systems; we do well to note that Josephus has no problem distorting the reality of his own heritage in order to make it comprehensible to the pagans to which he writes.
Another problem is the Whiston translation. It's not the best to begin with, and his notes and 1700s understanding is woefully out of date and likely inaccurate. Caveat emptor with all of his notes. Will someone please do us the favor of translating Josephus for the modern world?
An important source for Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity.