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 II
THE RELIGION OF JOSEPHUS (THE 'APION')

Josephus as an apologist. -- If Josephus displays himself in a bad light in his very frank description of his actions in his so-called 'Life,' his character appears very favourably in his two books popularly known as 'Against Apion.'1 The 'Life' leaves us with the impression that he was a Jew completely devoid of patriotism, but the 'Apion' must be the work of a man who was an enthusiastic admirer of the religion of Israel. Before one attempts to account for this apparent discrepancy it is desirable to have a clear notion of the apology for Judaism which Josephus composed.

The Roman showed no natural antipathy to the Jewish spirit; and the SpartanJosephus, whose virtues were rather those of Rome than of Greece, was the Jew's hereditary ally.2 In the second book of the Maccabees, the instigator of the persecution of the Jews selected by Antiochus Epiphanes was 'an old man of Athens';3 and whether this reading is the correct one or not it expresses a truth. Athens, which represents culture, art, philosophy, freedom of thought, versatility, in a word all the wisdom and attraction of the world, stands and must ever stand as the antithesis of Jerusalem with its austere morality, its inartistic religion, and its unchanging reverence for what appears to the world to be

____________________
1
The proper title of the book is On the Antiquity of the Jews. Only the second book is addressed to Apion. What we commonly call the Antiquities is properly the Archaeology. ἀpχαιολογíα in Greek = ancient history.
2
1 Macc. xii. 5-23. The Lacedaemonians and the Jews were both believed to be descended from Abraham. Antiq. xii. 4 (225 ff.) and xiii. 5 (164 ff.).
3
2 Macc. vi. 1. The Vulgate has 'an old man of Antioch.'

-19-

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