Josephus, Flavius

Josephus, Flavius flāˈvēəs jōsēˈfəs [key], a.d. 37–c.a.d. 100, Jewish historian and soldier, b. Jerusalem. Josephus' historical works are among the most valuable sources for the study of early Judaism and early Christianity. Having studied the tenets of the three main sects of Judaism—Essenes, Sadducees, and Pharisees—he became a Pharisee. At the beginning of the war between the Romans and Jews, he was made commander of Galilee, despite the fact that he had opposed the uprising. He surrendered to the Romans instead of committing suicide when the stronghold was taken. He won the favor of the Roman general Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus) and took his name, Flavius. He lived in Rome under imperial patronage, where he wrote the Greek-language historical works for which he is renowned. He wrote The Jewish War; the famous Antiquities of the Jews, a history of the Jews from creation to the war with Rome; Against Apion, an exalted defense of the Jews; and his autobiography, or apologia. His complete works have appeared in English editions.

See H. St. John Thackeray, Josephus (1929, rev. ed. 1968); T. Rajak, Josephus (1983); L. H. Feldman, Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1984); L. Feldman and H. Gohei, ed., Josephus, Judaism, and Christianity (1987); F. Raphael, A Jew among Romans (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Historians, Ancient: Biographies