Josephus and the Jews: The Religion and History of the Jews as Explained by Flavius Josephus

By F. J. Foakes-Jackson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE HOPE OF ISRAEL IN JOSEPHUS

Hope essential to every religion . -- When St. Paul sent for the elders of the Jewish community in Rome he told them: 'For this cause did I intreat you to see and to speak with me: for because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.'1 In his allusion to the' hope of Israel' the Apostle was using words as intelligible to the men he was addressing as they were to himself. The question is whether such a hope would have appealed to Flavius Josephus. But among earnest men, whether Jews or Christians, there must always be a belief that the revelation of God which they have received, whether as a nation or as a Church, has some great end in view. To believe that Israel has no future, that the nation has survived its purpose and will disappear, is as difficult for a Jew, as it is for a Christian to say that the faith in Christ may have been of use in its day, but that He will be forgotten and has lived on earth for nothing. No cause can survive the abandonment of the conviction that it has a work as yet unfulfilled to accomplish. A religion may survive its institutions, as Judaism did the Temple sacrifices, and possibly an age-long rule of life like the Law of Moses; but it can never outlive its hope.

Josephus not an idealist . -- Josephus was assuredly no idealist. Brought up as a priest, he was anxious to maintain the dignity of the national Temple; educated in the school of the Pharisees, he admired the Law. But he was not a truly religious character; rather he was a far-sighted man who recognised that the best interests

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1
Acts xxviii. 20.

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