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

INTRODUCTION
WHY JOSEPHUS DESERVES ATTENTION

Object of this book. -- The works of Flavius Josephus have long been widely circulated, and in most devout families used to be regarded as hardly less indispensable than the Bible itself. Yet it is perhaps permissible to say of them that, though they are widely known and freely quoted, yet upon the whole they have been rarely read intelligently. But, although Josephus is frequently entertaining, it is no easy task to construct a consistent history out of his voluminous literary output. For this reason, among others, he has, on the one hand, been treated with undeserved contempt; whilst, on the other, many have accepted his statements with somewhat unreasonable credulity. This book is an endeavour to supply a key to the study of an author who, with all his defects, is not only a remarkable man and an historian of exceptional value, but is personally worthy of study as a character of almost unique psychological interest.

Unique value of Josephus' writings. -- The life of Josephus was both long and varied. Born in A.D. 37, the year that Caius (Caligula) was proclaimed emperor, he probably survived till the early days of the reign of Trajan ( A.D. 98-117). Brought up in exclusively Jewish circles, priestly, legal, and ascetic, he was in youth untouched by Greek culture. Yet after his active civil and military life was over, and he was fully thirty years old, he first applied himself to a literary career, and produced two considerable histories in the Greek language. Pro-Roman in sympathy, he wrote an excellent apology for the religion of his own people, a work full of curious

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