|JOSEPHUS, FLAVIUS |
(joh ssee' fuhss, flay' vee uhss) Early historian of Jewish life and our most important source for the history of the Jews in the Roman period. His four surviving works are The Jewish War (composed about A.D. 73), The Antiquities of the Jews (about A.D. 93), Life (an autobiographical appendix to The Antiquities), and Against Apion, penned shortly after The Antiquities. The date of Josephus' death is unknown but was probably after A.D. 100.
Following the conflict between Rome and the Jews of Palestine (A.D. 66-73), Flavius Josephus gave an account of the struggle in his seven books of The Jewish War, which include a prehistory reaching back to the second century B.C. Josephus came to Rome in 73 and lived in a house provided by Vespasian, who also gave him a yearly pension. The Antiquities, Life, and Against Apion were all written in Rome. In The Antiquities Josephus paraphrased the Septuagint (earliest Greek translation of the Bible) to tell the story of the Hebrews through the time of Cyrus and then employed other sources to complete the account through the first century. The account of the revolt against Rome is in many respects quite different in the The Antiquities than it is in the earlier War. Against Apion defends the Jews against charges of the grammarian Apion as well as against other common assaults on the antiquity and moral virtue of the Jews. Josephus' Life focuses primarily upon the six-month period in which he was commander of Jewish forces in the Galilee and refutes the charge made by Justus of Tiberias that Josephus had organized the revolt in the Galilee.
Fred L. Horton, Jr.