Reading the First Century: On Reading Josephus and Studying by Daniel R Schwartz

By Daniel R Schwartz

The writings of Flavius Josephus supply a lot of what we all know concerning the first century CE - which witnessed the start of Christianity, the destruction of the second one Temple of Jerusalem, and the concomitant upward push of rabbinic Judaism. although, Josephus was once an writer, now not a video digicam, and what he wrote frequently displays a lot except what truly occurred within the first century: Josephus' works have been affected either through his literary versions and by way of present occasions, and so they functioned in numerous methods for Josephus as somebody and in addition as a Jew and a Roman, writing in a time of tumult and radical switch. Daniel R. Schwartz argues that via development from the ground up - first developing the textual content and its which means, then relocating directly to problems with Josephus' types, resources, and reasons - we might however reconstruct, with a few self belief, the occasions and tactics of this important period.

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I have chosen the cases with an eye to illustrating the modern contexts in which there is interest not only in the stories the sources tell but also in the history to which they bear witness. 2 Issues of text and interpretation: The case of Josephus’ divorce (Life 415) Jewish law, following Deuteronomy 24:1 (“and he shall write a bill of divorce for her and put it into her hand”), allows husbands to divorce their wives but not vice versa. 259–260, condemning Herod’s sister Salome for violating that law, “acting on her own authority” and dissolving her marriage by sending her husband a divorce document.

But it is not clear that we should, for that allusion to a wife comes in a speech where it serves a clearly rhetorical purpose – referring to the members of Josephus’ family who were endangered by the continuation of the Roman siege.  M. Rabello, “Divorce of Jews in the Roman Empire,” Jewish Law Annual 4 (1981) 93–95.  27). 27 As is indicated by the critical apparatus for this passage in the standard edition: Flavii Iosephi Opera edidit et apparatu critico instruxit Benedictus Niese, IV (Berlin: Weidmann, 1890) 387, note to line 15.

Note, however, that the note is so long that Hoehner forgot, by its end, that its purpose was to define the meaning of genesia in Matt 14:6//Mark 6:21; that got him into a circular argument. Namely, in concluding his long discussion of whether the term in those verses refers to Antipas’ birthday or rather to an anniversary of his coronation, after noting that Herod the Great celebrated the day of accession and Josephus even says that was usual [Ant. 423] Hoehner nevertheless depends upon these same verses from the Gospels, according to the usual translations [“birthday”], in order to nail down his claim that Antipas celebrated his birthday.

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