Jewish Antiquities  [Books 12-20]

Josephus' 20 book magnum opus presents a comprehensive Jewish interpretation of history from the creation of the world to the eve of the Jewish-Roman war (66-70 CE). He promised a sequel to cover events after the war but never published it. The work was deliberately modeled on the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus & was designed to prove to Romans that Jews could claim a heritage that was more ancient than theirs. The first 11 books are based primarily on the Greek Septuagint translation of Hebrew scripture, supplemented with some Jewish folklore. Books 12 & 13 depend on the Jewish account of the Maccabean revolt in 1 Maccabees. The last third of Josephus' Antiquities (Books 13-20) is the most important part for later historians. These books cover events in the 2nd Jewish Commonwealth (135 BCE to 70 CE) for which Josephus is our most detailed surviving source. For his account of the Hasmonean & Herodian dynasties Josephus used Nicholas of Damascus' authorized biography of Herod (now lost) & works by other Greek & Roman historians. For the post-Herodian era (4 BCE-66 CE) he made use of Roman imperial records (including a large number of official edicts & letters) as well interviews with contemporaries & his own notes, including his earlier account of The Jewish War. In material where the War & the Antiquities overlap, the later account is generally fuller & less pro-Roman but also more defensive of the Jewish cause & the author's association with it. This reflects the circumstances of its publication. The emperor Domitian, unlike his father [Vespasian] & brother [Titus] did not support the writing of histories. So Josephus had to locate another patron. He dedicates this & later works to one Epaphroditus, whom he describes as "a man who is a lover of all kinds of learning" [Antiquities preface] & addresses as "most excellent of men" [Against Apion 1.1] --- obviously an aristocratic Greek scholar.

[in Loeb Classical Library: Josephus vols. 7-9. Ed. R. Marcus, E. Wikgren & L. H. Feldman. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1963-1965].

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