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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Josephus

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For a proper understanding of the Apostolic Age there are, apart from the Epistles of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, no documents of such value as the writings of Josephus.

1. Life and character.-We have on account of the life of Josephus from his own pen. He was born in Jerusalem in a.d. 37, his father being Matthias, a priest of noble lineage, and belonging to the first course of the priesthood, i.e. Jojarib, while on his mother’s side he was connected with the royal Hasmonaean house. He was a child of excellent parts, and received a superior education. He studied the principles of the three main sects of Judaism under professional teachers of each, and lived for three years in the society of an ascetic hermit named Banus-a discipline then regarded as a desideratum of good breeding (we find something of the same kind in the early life of Seneca). At the age of nineteen he attached himself to the Pharisaic party. In a.d. 64 he visited Rome, where, through the influence of a Jewish actor named Alityrus, he succeeded in gaining the ear of the Empress Poppaea-first the mistress, and from a.d. 62 the wife, of Nero-and so securing the liberation of some Jewish priests who had been put in bonds by Felix. Josephus had scarcely returned to Jerusalem when, in a.d. 66, he was drawn into the movement which, springing from the long-accumulating hatred of Rome among the Jews, and fanned by the agitation of certain fanatics, soon burst forth in the lurid flames of revolt and war. It is true that the more eminent priestly ranks to which Josephus belonged, as also the leaders of the Pharisaic party, were altogether averse to an insurrection against the overwhelming power of the Roman Empire. Presently, however, the movement resolved itself so decisively into a national cause, a war of the Lord, that Josephus was quite unable to stand aloof. He undertook the command of Galilee, where, in spite of the personal hostility of the zealot John of Gischala, he organized the Jewish defence during the winter of 66-67. For six weeks he withstood with great skill and daring the Roman assault upon Jotapata, a fortress commanding the line of approach from Ptolemais, and then played his part with such address that, falling into the hands of the Romans as the last survivor of the siege, he caught the personal notice of Vespasian by means of a prophecy. His life was spared, and when his prediction was at length fulfilled by the proclamation of Vespasian as Emperor (3 July, a.d. 69), he regained his freedom. From that time he called himself Flavius Josephus, and for the remainder of the war-during the siege of Jerusalem-the erstwhile leader in the rebellion acted as advise and interpreter in the headquarters of Titus. Thereafter he accompanied the victorious Titus to Rome, and settled down as a littérateur, enjoying the esteem and the bounty of the Flavian Emperors, and devoting himself to the task of doing battle with spiritual weapons for the now politically shattered cause of his nation. As Josephus mentions the death of Agrippa ii. (a.d. 100: Photius, Cod. 33), he must have survived, till the reign of Trajan. He was four times married, and had five sons. According to Eus. HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).] iii. ix. 2, a statue was raised in his honour, and his works were placed in the public library.

In personal character, as even the above brief outline of his career suffices to show, Josephus was not free from decidedly sinister traits. A thorough Jew, he was always able to make the most of his opportunities, and was not over-scrupulous as to the means he employed. Even his vanity serves to bring him into clearer light. As a man he was far from great. It is not, however, the man that concerns us here, but the historian; and if, even in that capacity, his talent was of a distinctly mediocre order, yet, in virtue of our interest in his subject, he is for us one of the most important historical authors we have.

2. Works

(a) The Jewish War.-Josephus devoted his powers first of all to a work of the most vital moment for us, viz. a history of the Jewish war against Rome (Bellum Judaicum [referred to as BJ]). Although he had doubtless learned Greek in his youth, he felt that he could not yet write as a Greek author. He therefore composed his first work in his native language, i.e. Aramaic, and afterwards, with the help of literary collaborators, reproduced it in a Greek form, which, however, was not a more translation, but rather a recast of the original. This Greek edition was published in the closing years of Vespasian’s reign, between a.d. 75 and 79. As against the many unreliable and merely hearsay reports of the war, and the mischievous distortions of fact emanating from anti-Jewish feeling, Josephus proposed, as an eye-witness, to give an unbiased and veracious chronicle, which, by means of a just estimate of the Jewish people, of their good qualities and their military achievements, should not only exhibit in a clearer light the tragic element in the catastrophe they had brought upon themselves, but should also make manifest the real greatness of the Roman triumph. Accordingly, in the seven books of this work, after a survey of Jewish history from the Maccabaean revolt to the death of Herod the Great (bk. i.), he shows how events moved swiftly towards the rebellion: the mismanagement of affairs under the sons of Herod, the growing maladministration of the Roman procurators, and more particularly-after a short interlude of national Pharisaic ascendancy in the reign of Agrippa i.-of the incompetent Albinus and Gessius Florus (bk. ii.). The history proper begins with the expedition of Vespasian to Judaea at a time when the whole land was already in arms: bk. iii. describes the conquest of Galilee, with its two culminating points, The capture of Jotapata and that of Taricheae; bk. iv. narrates the somewhat dilatory prosecution of the war to the time of Vespasian’s being proclaimed Emperor, and his withdrawal to Egypt, and tells also of the anarchical state of Jerusalem; bks. v. and vi., starting from the return of Titus from Alexandria, describe the siege of the capital, and the internecine strife of the besieged, and close with the burning of the Temple (10th of the month Ab = July-August a.d. 70); and bk. vii. serves as an epilogue to the whole, recording the triumph of Titus and the long-protracted subjugation of the southern part of the country till the Fall of Masada (April 73). In bk. iii. (ch. iii) Josephus gives a description of Galilee, and in bk. v. (chs. iv and v) an account of Jerusalem, and of the Temple and its services. At the end of ch. v he indicates his intention of dealing with the city more exhaustively in a later work.

(b) The Antiquities.-He fulfilled this design in his Antiquities of the Jews, which he completed in a.d. 93-94. The work was probably composed on the plan of the Roman Archaeology of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, published almost exactly a century before (8 b.c.). In the Antiquities Josephus recounts in twenty books the history of his people from the creation of the world. His principal source was the OT, with which, however, he deals very freely, and he does not scruple to introduce Haggâdic elements. In bk. I. he carries the narrative to the death of Isaac, and in II. to the exodus from Egypt; III. describes the giving of the Law; IV. the wanderings in the desert, and Moses’ directions for the organization of the future commonwealth; V. the conquest of Canaan under Joshua and the Judges; VI. and VII. the reigns of Saul and David respectively; VIII-X. the reign of Solomon, and the period of the kings until the Exile; XI. the restoration of the nation under Cyrus, and its history till Alexander the Great; XII. Judaea under the Seleucids; XIII. the Maccabaean revolt, and the Hasmonaean rule till Alexandra’s death (67 b.c.); XIV. the intervention of the Romans under Pompey, consequent upon the wars between the brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus; XV. Herod’s winning the crown, and his reign till the building of the Temple; XVI. the tragedy of Herod’s family till the execution of Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Mariamne; XVII. the period from the execution of Antipater and the death of Herod till the deposition of Archelaus (a.d. 6); XVIII. the Roman administration; XIX. the period of the Emperors Gains and Claudius-otherwise the reign of Agrippa I. († a.d. 44); XX. the last Roman procurators till the outbreak of the rebellion (a.d. 66). Thus bks. XIII-XX. of the Antiquities run parallel with bks I. and II. of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) .

(c) Minor works; projected works; pseudonymous works.-Josephus hoped to supplement his Antiquities by a narrative bringing down the history to the reign of Domitian-i.e. by an abridgment and continuation of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) (Ant. XX. xi. 3 [267]),* [Note: The divisions follow Whiston’s Eng. translation, with the numbering of Niese’s Gr. text in square brackets.] and he also projected an account of the Jewish faith and the Jewish Law in four books (ib. [268]). Neither of these works, if ever written, has come down to us. The Antiquities, however, is followed by an autobiography (Vita), written after a.d. 100, and here Josephus endeavours to meet the charges with which Justus of Tiberias assailed his conduct during the war in Galilee in a.d. 66-67. the apology for Judaism in two books, in which Josephus replies to the attacks of Anion, an Alexandrian littérateur (contra Apionem), may be regarded as in some degree a compensation for the second of the projected works, and was composed subsequently to the Antiquities. The two works entitled Of self-governing Reason (περὶ αὐτοκράτορος λογισμοῦ-the so-called Fourth Book of Maccabees) and Of the All (περὶ τοῦ παντός), ascribed to Josephus by Eusebius and Photius respectively, are certainly not his. The former was probably written by an Alexandrian Jew; the latter, which survives only in a small fragment, is in all likelihood the work of Hippolytus.

3. Literary methods.-The manner in which Josephus seeks to present Judaism to the Greek mind ranks him among the Alexandrian apologists of that faith, though he claims to write merely as a historian; and, as a matter of fact, he owes more to the tradition of Palestinian Rabbinism than to that of Alexandria. His hellenizing tendency manifests itself strikingly in his reproduction of biblical history; unlike Philo, he gives the biblical names in a Greek form, writing Adamos, Abelos, Abramos, Isakos, Iakobos, Esauos, Iosepos, etc.; and, what is more, he hellenizes even the ideas, especially in the speeches and prayers of the Patriarchs, which he introduces quite in the style of contemporary historical composition, as e.g. in Ant. i. xviii. 6 [272f.]; other instances are Solomon’s prayers at the dedication of the Temple (viii. iv. 2f. [107ff.]), and his correspondence with Hiram of Tyre (viii. ii. 6, 7 [51-54]). A genuinely apologetic idea lies in the statement that the Egyptians owed their far-famed proficiency in mathematics and astrology to Abraham (i. viii. 2 [167]). Josephus tells us, further, that Moses composed in hexameters (ii. xvi. 4 [346]), and David in trimeters and pentameters (vii. xii. 3 [305]). He devotes considerable space to the traditions-taken from the Epistle of Aristeas-regarding the Greek version of the Mosaic Law executed at the court of Ptolemy ii., by seventy-two wise men from Jerusalem (xii. ii. [11-118]). But perhaps the most characteristic instance of his hellenizing tendency is his description of the Jewish sects (xiii. v. 9 [171-173], Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. viii. 2-14 [119-166]), which he seeks to divest of all political significance, and to represent as the exact counterparts of the philosophic schools of Greece (Pharisees = Stoics; Sadducees = Epicureans; and Essenes = Pythagoreans): an affinity which he tries to establish by introducing quite irrelevant considerations, such as their attitude to the problems of free-will and fate-thus misleading even modern investigators-while, as a matter of fact, the unphilosophical and non-Hellenic character of the sects reveals itself at every point. Thus Josephus, in spite of his Hellenic guise, is in all things a genuine Jew, a Palestinian Rabbi: witness, for instance-as compared with the tractates of Philo-his version of the story of Moses, where he not only gives us the name of Pharaoh’s daughter (Thermuthis), but also relates how Moses as a child was presented to Pharaoh, and how, when the king put his diadem on the child’s head, the latter threw it upon the ground; and again, how, when Moses had grown to manhood, and was in command of an Egyptian army in a war against Ethiopia, he broke a way into that all but inaccessible country by making use of ibises to destroy the serpents which obstructed the march, and further, how he captured the impregnable city of Saba (or Meroë; Philae, an island in the Nile?) by gaining the love of Tharbis, the daughter of the Ethiopian king (Ant. ii. ix. 5, 7 [224-227, 232-237], x. 2 [243-253]). This is pure Rabbinical Haggâdâ. Of the same character are the fabulous embellishments of the story of Joseph (ii. iv. [39-59]), as also the many references to superstitions which the Jews of the day had in common with the Greeks, as e.g. in the stories about Solomon (viii. ii. 5 [42ff.]): here Josephus states that he had personally witnessed an exorcism which a Jew named Eleazar performed before Vespasian and his officers by means of a ring, a root, and certain incantations, all associated with Solomon. How little the horizon of Josephus extended beyond Palestine is shown also by the brevity with which he treats of the persecutions of the Jews in Alexandria, and of the famous embassy of Philo to the court of Gaius Caligula (xviii. viii. 1 [257ff.]).

4. Sources.-Josephus is throughout very dependent on his sources. Where the biblical narrative fails him, a constraint falls upon his language. Of the period between Cyrus and Alexander the Great he has nothing to record, and he lures the reader across the gap by a long extract from the Epistle of Aristeas. For the history of the Maccabees he keeps close to 1 Mac. For the succeeding period he cites numerous documents, which, unlike the speeches, he did not invent but probably quoted verbatim (as found in a collection formed by Agrippa i.?). For the facts of universal history he was indebted first to Polybius (till 143 b.c.) and then to Strabo. For the reign of Herod the Great he manifestly utilizes the voluminous work of Nicolaus of Damascus, who, as the counsellor of Herod, had exalted his patron to the skies. It is true that Josephus controverts Nicolaus, but, while he sets many matters of detail in a different light, he borrows from him the actual facts; hence, too, the profusion of material in bks. xv.-xvii. as contrasted with the meagre data of the following period. But even for the latter he is not entirely dependent upon his own personal recollections, but falls back upon documents; and, in fact, while preparing this part of his Antiquities, he seems to have re-examined, and here and there to have more fully utilized, the same authorities from which he had already quoted more briefly in Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) i. and ii. He has thus to some extent furnished us with the means of controlling his work as a historian.

5. Credibility.-Our estimate of the historic reliability of Josephus, despite the personal attestation of Titus and the sixty-two commendatory letters of Agrippa ii. (c. Apion. i. 9 [51f.], Vit. 65 [363f.]), will scarcely be a favourable one if we compare the Vita with the relative sections of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , inasmuch as each differs greatly from the other in the impression it conveys of his conduct during the Galilaean campaign. We must remember, however, that the former is really a book of personal reminiscences, and, like most works of its kind, exhibits the writer’s tendency to exculpate himself; and it would therefore be far from right to found our judgment of Josephus as a historian upon the Vita. As regards the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , we may certainly affirm that it is a carefully executed work, and that in the Antiquities the author has in general reproduced-though with a veneer of Hellenism-what his sources supplied. But he exaggerates in his numerical data, and he over-praises the generosity of the Romans. As another misleading tendency we need only mention his having done his best to suppress the Messianic expectations of his people, or at least to purge them of all political import. He set the seal on this attitude by assuring Vespasian-the oppressor of his nation-in God’s name that the coming sovereignty of the whole world should one day be his (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. viii. 9 [401f.]).

Nevertheless, the manner in which he has woven his materials into the texture of his narrative frequently arouses misgiving. A number of his references to other passages of his writings (cf. Ant. xi. viii. 1 [305], xviii. ii. 5 [54]) cannot be verified in his extant works, and must therefore have been inadvertently taken over from the source he happened to be using. In chronology especially he shows himself to be a very unsafe guide. He has no regular method of dating-neither consulates nor reigns-and it is only occasionally that we find such chronological references as ‘the third year of the 177th Olympiad, when Quintus Hortensius and Quintus Metellus were consuls’ (Ant. xiv. i. 2 [4]), i.e. 67 b.c. Moreover, events from different sources and of different dates are thrown promiscuously together. A characteristic instance is found in the history of Pilate. While in Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) (ii. ix. 2-4 [169-177]) Josephus refers to Pilate only in connexion with the two tumults which he caused by introducing into Jerusalem standards bearing the figure of the Emperor and by using the Temple funds for the construction of an aqueduct, he apparently gives a much fuller record in Ant. (xviii. ii. 2-iv. 2 [35-89]). Here, after referring to Valerius Gratus as the first procurator of Judaea under Tiberius (14-37)-the four successive changes in the high-priesthood being all that he thinks worthy of mention in the eleven years of that procuratorship-Josephus records (in xviii. ii. 2 [35]) Pilate’s accession to the office, an event that cannot be dated earlier than a.d. 26. But before dealing (in xviii. iii. 1-2 [55-62]) with the tumults which he had already described in Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , he describes from another source the founding of Tiberias by Herod Antipas (xviii. ii. 3 [36-38]), the embroilments among the Parthians consequent upon the death of Phraates (a.d. 16; Tac. Ann. ii. 1f.), the extinction of the royal house of Commagene in the death of Antiochus (a.d. 17; Tac. ii. 42), and the murder of Germanicus (10 Oct. a.d. 19; Tac. ii. 69ff.). Next, after recounting the two Jewish tumults referred to, he relates two events which evidently had already been conjoined in the Roman tradition (Cluvius Rufus?), for only the second belongs to his subject (as giving an example of the ill-fortune that beset the Jews): the first deals with the outrage in the Temple of Isis in Rome, where the priests lent themselves to a trick by which a Roman lady of repute was beguiled sub praetextu religionis to yield herself to a lover (xviii. iii. 4 [65-80]); the second with the fraud practised by four Jews upon another Roman matron-an incident which led to the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the decree of Tiberius, and to the drafting of 4,000 recruits from amongst them to Sardinia (a.d. 19) (xviii. iii. 5 [81-84]; cf. Tac. Ann. ii. 85). Then at length the narrative returns to Pilate, for the purpose of showing that he was deposed by Vitellius in consequence of a revolt of the Samaritans (xviii. iv. 1 [85ff.]), and that, after his ten years of office, he was sent to Rome to defend his actions before Tiberius, arriving there, however, only after the Emperor’s death (16 March, a.d. 37). This outline will serve to show how little the narrative takes account of strict chronological sequence, as also-to take but one instance-how unwarranted it is of Schürer, on the supposed evidence of Josephus, to assign the foundation of Tiberias to a date after a.d. 25, while numismatists, with a considerable show of reason, had fixed it in a.d. 17. Similarly, from the statement of Josephus that the defeat of Herod Antipas in the war against his father-in-law Aretas of Arabia (an event which should probably be assigned to a.d. 36) was regarded as a punishment for his murder of John the Baptist, we have no right to draw conclusions as to the date of that event or to that of the entrance of Jesus upon His public ministry, as has been done by Keim and others, who have on the same grounds fixed upon a.d. 35 as the date of the Crucifixion.

6. Attitude to Christianity.-A question of the utmost importance is that of the attitude of Josephus to Christianity. As he describes the period in such minute detail, we naturally ask whether he ever alludes to that powerful movement amongst his fellow-countrymen; and his mention of the slaying of John the Baptist prompts the question whether he records the Crucifixion of Jesus and the martyrdom of His disciples. It is certainly true that in the Antiquities, between the two sections dealing, as noted above, with Pilate, we find the following passage (xviii. iii. 3 [63-64]):

‘Now about this time appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one may call Him a man; for He was a doer of marvellous works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with gladness, and He drew to Himself many of the Jews, as also many of the Greeks. He was the Christ; and when, on the indictment of the leading men amongst us, Pilate had sentenced Him to the Cross, those who loved Him at the first did not cease to do so; for on the third day He again appeared to them alive, as the divine prophets had affirmed these and innumerable other things concerning Him. And the race of Christians, which takes its name from Him, is not yet extinct.’

On the strength of this testimonium de Christo, which is quoted by Eusebius (HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).] i. xi. 7, 8; cf. Demonstr. Evang. iii. iii. 105; Theoph. v. 44), Josephus was reckoned among Christian writers by Jerome (de Vir. Illustr. 13), and honoured as such throughout the Middle Ages. But modern criticism has thrown serious doubts upon the authenticity of the passage, and not without good reason. For not only does Origen seem to be unacquainted with it-otherwise he would certainly have referred to it in in Matth. tom. x. 17 and c. Celsum, i. 47-but, as regards, its contents, it simply could not have come from a man like Josephus, more especially in view of the fact that, as we have seen, he anxiously avoids all reference to the Messianic expectations of his people. (The view, proposed by Burkitt and strengthened by Harnack, that Josephus used the failure of the Messianic movement in the case of Jesus for the purpose of demonstrating that no Messianic aspirations were left after this in the Jewish people, is not supported by the text as it stands.) Thus the only question that remains is whether an authentic statement of Josephus has been worked over by a Christian hand (so, recently, among others, the Roman Catholic scholar, J. Felten [Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (Holtzmann and others)., Regensburg, 1910, i. 618]), or whether the whole is an interpolation of Christian origin (so Niese, Naber, Schürer, and others). Even on the first alternative it is hardly possible to make out what Josephus himself could have written. The parallel cited by Zahn (Forschungen zur Gesch. des neutest. Kanons, vi. [Leipzig, 1900], p. 302) from the Acta Pilati belongs to the late Byzantine recension of that work, and is in reality an echo of the very passage under consideration.

A second passage of similar character is Ant. xx. ix. 1 [200f.], where the judicial murder of James ‘the brother of Jesus who was called Christ’ (Messiah?) and of some others, by Ananus, the high priest, is referred to as having been disapproved of by the strict observers of the Law (Pharisees?). But here too the work of another hand is unmistakable: Origen (locc. citt., and also c. Celsum, ii. 13) had read a similar interpolation in Josephus, though in some other part of his works.

The whole question has become somewhat more complicated by A. Berendts’ discovery of a Slavonic recension of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) . Just as, side by side with the accurate Lat. version of the Ant. executed at the instance of Cassiodorus, a very free translation of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , the de Excidio Hierusalem of Hegesippus (the so-called Iosippus), bearing a thoroughly Christian character, was current-often under the name of Ambrose-in the West, so there was found among the Slavonic Manuscripts a very peculiar form of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , giving a detailed account of the trial of Jesus. Berendts propounded the theory that this really represented the original form of the Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) , and had therefore preserved authentic utterances of Josephus regarding Christ (the Slavonic Enoch, which in part goes back to a Judaeo-Aramaic original, would furnish a parallel case). Berendts was able to show that in this Slavonic Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) we have a record largely divergent from the Greek text, and exhibiting a markedly anti-Roman bias-a record, too, which, as e.g. in the chapter dealing with the Essenes, appears to have been used by Hippolytus, so that, in spite of the legendary air of many of its features, it is hardly reasonable, with Schürer and others, to assign it to a late date. Moreover, its references to Jesus are not of a character that suggests interpolation from the Christian side. Hence, if we reject the hypothesis of Berendts, the only theory that we have to fall back upon is that of an early Jewish redaction, as proposed by R. Seeberg and Frey. A final verdict will be possible only when the complete text is in our hands.

7. Relation of St. Luke to Josephus.-Finally, a question of special importance for our knowledge of the Apostolic Age is that of the relation of St. Luke to Josephus. Many scholars believe that the numerous resemblances between them-intelligible enough surely where both writers are dealing with the same period-can be explained only on the theory that St. Luke made use of Josephus Were this really the case, it would certainly be a fact of great importance, not only for our estimate of the Evangelist’s credibility, but also for fixing the date of his works, which, on this theory, could not have been written till after the publication of the Antiquities (a.d. 93-94), i.e. the beginning of the 2nd century. The most thorough-going adherent of the theory is Krenkel (Josephus und Lucas), who finds, for instance, in St. Luke’s narrative of the Infancy, a free reproduction from the Vita; but the majority restrict the theory to certain Lucan passages which they hold to be dependent on Josephus (e.g. Luke 3:1, Lysanias of Abilene, and Acts 25:13, Agrippa and Berenice with Festus, etc.). The crucial passage, however, is Acts 5:36 f., with its inaccurate historical sequence, Theudas-Judas of Galilee; and the error is supposed to be explained by Ant. xx. v. 1, 2 [97f., 102], where the slaying of the sons of Judas by Tiberius Alexander is recorded after the crushing of Theudas’s insurrection by Cuspius Fadus. The theory would impute to St. Luke an almost incredible misunderstanding, which would indeed presuppose his having used Josephus in a manner so superficial as to lead one to say that, if he had ever read the work of Josephus at all, he must have forgotten it entirely. The two authors, in point of fact, are obviously quite independent of each other. Thus St. Luke (13:1f.) mentions a Galilaean revolt of which Josephus takes no cognizance, while the three revolts recorded by Josephus as having occurred under Pilate find no mention in Luke.

It is particularly instructive to compare their respective accounts of the death of Agrippa i. (Ant. xix. viii. 2 [343-352]; Acts 12:20-23). Here Josephus writes as follows:

‘Now when [Agrippa] had reigned three years over all Judaea he came to the city of Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower, and there he provided games in honour of Caesar, thus instituting a festival for the emperor’s health. To this festival a great number of the officials and eminent people of the province had come together. On the second day of the games he put on a robe made wholly of silver and of a wonderful texture, and came into the theatre at the dawn of day. The silver, illuminated by the first beams of the sun, shone forth in a strangely awe-inspiring manner and gleamed fearfully in the eyes of those who looked on. Presently his flatterers, one here, another there, called out words which were not to turn out to his good, addressing him as a god, and adding: “Be thou propitious; if till now we feared thee as a man, henceforth we confess that thou art exalted above mortal nature.” This the king did not rebuke, nor did he reject the impious flattery. But when after a while he looked upwards, he saw the owl [in xviii. vi. 7 [195-200] it is related that the owl had appeared to Agrippa at Rome] sitting on a rope over his head, and he perceived at once that it was a messenger of misfortune, as it had formerly been a messenger of good fortune, and he experienced an anguish that struck through his heart. He was seized with severe intestinal pain, which set in with great force. Springing up, he said to his friends: “A god in your eyes, I must nevertheless even now resign my life: fate thus immediately punishes the lies you falsely spoke, and I, whom you named immortal, am carried away by death; but a man must accept his destiny, as it pleases God; yet we have lived by no means ill, but in a splendour worthy of praise.” Having spoken these words, he was seized with increasing agony. He was accordingly carried hurriedly into the palace, and the news of his imminent death soon spread to all. Then the multitude, with wives and children, all lying in sackcloth, according to their native custom, besought God for the king, and everything was full of sighing and lamentation. And when the king, lying upon the high roof, looked down and saw them thus prostrated in prayer, he could not himself refrain from tears. After he had been sorely tormented with intestinal pains for five days, he resigned his life, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh of his reign.’

When we compare this diffuse narrative, with its sentimentality and superstition, with the short, vigorous, and sincerely pious record of St. Luke, we see at once the vast difference between the two writers: on the one side, Josephus, the hellenizing Jew; and, on the other, St. Luke, a Christian of heathen origin, reading history in the light of the Bible. For further comparison we might take, e.g., the account of St. Paul’s shipwreck (Acts 27, 28) and that of a similar experience of Josephus (Vit. 3 [14ff.]). Josephus is of importance for us, therefore, not as a source of St. Luke’s writings, but as a means of supplementing and checking them; and, indeed, it would be impossible without his help to write a history of New Testament times.

Literature.-I. Editions and Translations.-(a) The best critical ed. is that of B. Niese, 7 vols., Berlin, 1887-95; a smaller ed. by S. A. Naber, Leipzig, 1888-96 (besides the usual division into chapters and paragraphs, both of these arrange the material in continuously numbered sections). (b) Germ. translation : H. Clementz, Halle, 1900-01. (c) Eng. translation : R. Traill, ed. I. Taylor, London, 1847-51; W. Whiston, rev. A. R. Shilleto, do. 1889-90. (d) Lat. translation : ed. C. Boysen, in CSEL [Note: SEL Corpus Script. Eccles. Latinorum.] xxxvii. 6, Vienna and Prague, 1898. (e) Hegesippus: ed. C. F. Weber and J. Caesar, Marburg, 1858-64. (f) Syriac translation of Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) vi. (as 5 Mac.): ed. Ceriani, Milan, 1883; H. Kottek, Berlin, 1886. (g) Armenian translation : cf. F. C. Conybeare, Journal of Theological Studies ix. [1908], pp. 577-583 (who proves that Moses of Khoren made use of it). (h) On the Slav. Josephus: A. Berendts, Die Zeugnisse vom Christentum im slavischen ‘De Bello Judaico’ des Josephus in Texte and Untersuchungen , new ser., xiv. 4, Leipzig, 1906, ‘Analecta zum slavischen Josephus,’ in Zeitschrift für die neutest. Wissenschaft ix. [1908], pp. 47-70, and ‘Die ältesten ausserchristlichen Nachrichten über die Entstehung des Christentums,’ in Mitteilungen und Nachrichten für die evangelische Kirche in Russland, lxiii. [1910], pp. 157-173; also E. Schürer, ThLZ [Note: hLZ Theologische Litteraturzeitung.] xxxi. [1906] no. 9; R. Seeberg, Von Christus und dem Christentum, Gross-Lichterfelde, 1908, and J. Frey, Der slavische Josephusbericht über die urchristliche Geschichte, Leipzig, 1908. (i) A late Heb. ed. of the 10th cent. written under the name of Josippus or Joseph ben Gorion (Gorionides): Heb. and Lat. ed. J. F. Breithaupt, Gotha, 1707; J. Wellhausen, ‘Der arabischa Iosippos,’ in AGG [Note: GG Abhandlungen der Göttinger Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften.] , phil.-hist. Klasse, new ser., i. [1897]; Trieber, NGG [Note: GG Nachrichten der königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen.] , phil.-hist. Klasse, 1895; J. Winter and A. Wünsche, Die jüdische Litteratur, Trèves, 1896, iii. 309-314; E. Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] i. 3, 4 [Leipzig, 1901] 159-161.

II. Works dealing with Josephus and his writings.-(a) Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] i.3,4 74-106 (giving all the important lit. [Note: literally, literature.] ); H. St.-J. Thackeray, in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) v. 461-473; S. Krauss, in Jewish Encyclopedia vii. 274-281. (b) On the OT text used by Josephus: A. Mez, Die Bibel des Josephus, Basel, 1895. (c) On the Haggâdâ: O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte (Holtzmann and others).2, Tübingen, 1906, p. 190f. (d) On Josephus as apologist: P. Krüger, Philo und Josephus als Apologeten des Judentums, Leipzig, 1906; A. von Gutschmid, lecture on c. Apion. in Kleine Schriften, iv., do. 1893, pp. 336-384. (e) On Josephus as historian: C. Wachsmut, Einleitung in das Studium der alten Geschichte, do. 1895, pp. 438-449; H. Peter, Die geschichtliche Literatur über die römische Kaiserzeit, do. 1897, i. 394-401; O. Stählin, in Christ-Schmid, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, ii. 1 [5Munich, 1911], pp. 448-456; G. Misch, Geschichte der Autobiographie, i. [Leipzig, 1907] 189ff.; B. Brüne, Josephus der Geschichtsschreiber, Wiesbaden, 1912, Flavius Josephus und seine Schriften in ihrem Verhältnis zum Judentume, zur griechisch-römischen Welt und zum Christentume, Gütersloh, 1913. (f) On the sources of Josephus: H. Bloch, Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus (Leipzig, 1879), J. v. Destinon (Kiel, 1882) (for Ant. xii-xvii.), F. Schemann (Marburg, 1887) (for bks. xviii-xx.), and G. Hölscher (Leipzig, 1904); H. Luther, Josephus u. Justus von Tiberias, Halle, 1910. (g) On his imitation of Thucydides: J. T. H. Drüner, Untersuchungen über Josephus, Marburg, 1896. (h) On his style: W. Schmidt, de Flavii Josephi elocutione, Leipzig, 1894. (i) On the testimonium de Christo: cf. Schürer, op. cit. i. 544-549; A. Goethals, Josèphe témoin de Jésus, Paris, 1910; F. C. Burkitt, ‘Josephus and Christ,’ in Theol. Tijdschrift , 1913, pp. 135-144; A. Harnack, ‘Der jüdische Geschichtsschreiber Josephus und Jesus Christus,’ in Internationale Monatsschrift für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Technik, vii. [1913] 1037-68; K. Linck, De antiq. vet. quae ad Iesum Nazarenum spectant testimoniis (Religionsgeschichtl. Versuche u. Vorarb., xiv. 1 [1913]); E. Norden, Josephus u. Tacitus über Jesus Christus (Neue Jahrbücher für das klass. Altertum, xvi. [1913] 637-666); P. Corssen in Zeitschrift für die neutest. Wissenschaft , xv. [1914] 114-140. (j) On Josephus and St. Luke: M. Krenkel, Josephus und Lucas, Leipzig, 1894; H. H. Wendt, Die Apostelgeschichte9, Göttingen, 1913, pp. 42-45; A. Harnack, Neue Untersuchungen zur Apostelgeschichte (Beiträge, iv.), Leipzig, 1911, p. 80; articles in Jewish Encyclopedia and Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics .

E. von Dobschütz.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Josephus'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/j/josephus.html. 1906-1918.

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