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 XV
A REVIEW OF THE 'ANTIQUITIES' AND ITS SOURCES

Points of contact between the Jew and the Roman. -- Josephus did not inaugurate a new idea when he compiled his 'Antiquities.' His great work was designed to appeal to Roman readers; and was qualified to do so since the Romans as a practical people had an interest in their past. Although, therefore, the Jews in the days of Josephus were bitterly opposed to Rome, hating its methods of administration, which restrained their ambition, and contending against its armies with all the fury of fanaticism and despair, yet in some respects the two peoples were in sympathy, and even displayed a certain mutual respect for one another. One reason for this lies in the fact that the Roman, like the Jew, has always been temperamentally a legalist; and the tendency of the lawyer is to seek for precedent in the past, and to look upon the institutions of his country with respect. To him, what is ancient is not only honourable but of practical importance, because it is the foundation of the law under which he lives. It is true the Jew believed he possessed an unchangeable law, given by God Himself; but even herein he did not differ materially from the Roman, who looked on ancestral custom with religious veneration. The Romans also had a certain respect for Judaism as an institution based on law; and, if they hated the Jews, even the provocation of the war did not prevent them recognising the legal rights of Judaism. Subsequently, the Church in Rome so far carried on the traditions of the Empire, that at least

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