by Norman Bentwich
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[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. i. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. B.J. II. viii.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Vergil, Aeneid, vi.]

Lastly, Josephus turns to the fourth sect, the Zealots, whose founder was Judas the Galilean:

"These men agree in all other things with the Pharisees, but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and they say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. Moreover they do not fear any kind of death, nor do they heed the death of their kinsmen and friends, nor can any fear of the kind make them acknowledge anybody as sovereign."

Josephus, however, cannot refrain from imputing low motives to those who belonged to the party opposed to himself and hated of the Romans. "They planned robberies and murders of our principal men," he says, "in pretense for the public welfare, but in reality in hopes of gain for themselves." And he saddles them with the responsibility for all the calamities that were to come. About the Messianic hope, which appears to have inspired them, he is compulsorily silent.

The historical record that follows is very sketchy. We have a bare list of procurators and high priests down to the time of Pontius Pilate, a notice of the foundation of Tiberias by the tetrarch Herod, and an irrelevant account of the death of Phraates, the king of the Parthians, and of Antiochus of Commagene, who was connected by marriage with the Herodian house. Still there is rather more detail than in the corresponding summary in the second book of the Wars, and Josephus must in the interval have lighted on a fuller source than he had possessed in his first historical essay. It is not impossible that the new authority was again Justus of Tiberias. Of the unrest in the governorship of Pontius Pilate he has more to say, but the genuineness of the passage referring to the trial and death of Jesus, which is dealt with elsewhere,[1] has been doubted by modern critics. It is followed in the text by a long account of a scandal connected with the Isis worship at Rome, which led to the expulsion of Jews from the capital. In this way the chronicler wanders on between bare chronology and digression, until he reaches the reign of Agrippa, when he again finds written sources to help him. The romance of Agrippa's rise from a bankrupt courtier to the ruler of a kingdom is treated with something of the same full detail as the events of Herod's career, and probably the historian enjoyed here the use of royal memoirs. He may have obtained material also from the historical works of Philo of Alexandria, which were partly concerned with the same epoch. He refers explicitly to the embassy which the Alexandrian Jews sent to the Roman Emperor to appeal for the rescission of the order to set up in the synagogue the Imperial image, at the head of which went Philo, "a man eminent on all accounts, brother to Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy." Bloch[2] indeed is of the opinion that the later historian did not use his Alexandrian predecessor, either in this or any other part of his writings, and points out certain differences of fact between the two accounts; but in view of the references to Philo and the fact that Josephus subsequently wrote two books of apology, one of which was expressly directed in answer to Philo's bitter opponent Apion, it is at least probable that he was acquainted with Philo's narrative. He may, however, have used it only to supplement the memoirs of the Herodian house, which served him as a chief source. Josephus devotes less attention to the Alexandrian embassy than to the efforts of the Palestinian Jews to obtain a rescission of the similar decree which Petronius, the governor of Syria, was sent to enforce in Jerusalem. His account is devised to glorify the part which Agrippa played. The prince appears as a kind of male Esther, endangering his own life to save his people; and indeed higher critics have been found to suggest that the Biblical book of Esther was written around the events of the reign of Gaius.

[Footnote 1: Ant. XVIII. iii. Comp. below, p. 241.]

[Footnote 2: Die Quellen des Flavius Josephus.]

The story of Agrippa is interrupted by a chapter about the Jews of Babylon, which has the air of a moral tale on the evils of intermarriage, and may have formed part of the popular Jewish literature of the day. Another long digression marks the beginning of the nineteenth book of the Antiquities, where Josephus leaves Jewish scenes and inserts an account of Caligula's murder and the election of Claudius as Emperor. This narrative, while of great interest for students of the Roman constitution, is out of all proportion to its place in the Jewish chronicle. Josephus, it has been surmised, based it on the work of one Cluvius (referred to in the book as an intimate friend of Claudius), who wrote a history about 70 C.E.; he may besides have received hitherto unpublished information from Agrippa II, whose father had been an important actor in the drama, or from his friend Aliturius, the actor at Rome, who had mixed in affairs of state. Anyhow, he took advantage of this chance of making a literary sensation. Doubtless also, the recital, which threw not a little discredit on the house of the earlier Caesars, was for that reason not unwelcome to the upstart Flavians, and may have been inserted at the Imperial wish.

Agrippa I is the most attractive figure in the second part of the Antiquities. He is contrasted with Herod,

"who was cruel and severe in his punishments, and had no mercy on those he hated, and everyone perceived that he had more love for the Greeks than for the Jews.... But Agrippa's temper was mild and equally liberal to all men. He was kind to foreigners and was of agreeable and compassionate feeling. He loved to reside at Jerusalem, and was scrupulously careful in his observance of the Law of his people. On his death he expressed his submission to Providence; for that he had by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner."

His peaceful reign, however, was only the lull before the storm, and the last book of the Antiquities is mainly taken up with the succession of wicked procurators, who, by their extortions and cruelties and flagrant disregard of the Jewish Law and Jewish feeling, goaded the Jews into the final rebellion. It contains, however, a digression on the conversion of the royal house of Adiabene to Judaism, which is tricked out with examples of God's Providence. Yet another digression records the villainies of Nero (which no doubt was pleasing to his patrons) and the amours of Drusilia, the daughter of Agrippa I. But of the rising discontent of the Jewish people in Palestine we have no clear picture. Josephus fails as in the Wars to bring out the inner incompatibility of the Roman and the Jewish outlook, and represents, in an unimaginative, matter-of-fact, Romanizing way, that it was simply particular excesses—the rapacity of a Felix, the knavery of a Florus—which were the cause of the Rebellion. This is just what a Roman would have said, and when the Jewish writer deals at all with the Jewish position, it is usually to drag in his political feud. He especially singles out the sacrilege of the Zealots in assassinating their opponents within the Temple precincts as the reason of God's rejecting the city; "and as for the Temple, He no longer deemed it sufficiently pure to be His habitation, but brought the Romans upon us and threw a fire on the city to purge it, and brought slavery on us, our wives, and our children, to make us wiser by our calamities." Thus the priestly apologist, accepting Roman canons, finds in the ritual offense of a section of the people the ground for the destruction of the national center. He is torn, indeed, between two conflicting views about the origin of the rebellion: whether he shall lay the whole blame on the Jewish irreconcilables, or whether he shall divide it between them and the wicked Roman governors; and in the end he exaggerates both these motives, and leaves out the deeper causes.

The penultimate chapter contains a list of the high priests, about whom the historian had throughout made great pretensions of accuracy. He enumerates but eighty-three from the time of Aaron to the end of the line, of whom no less than twenty-eight were appointed after Herod's accession to his kingdom; whereas the Talmud records that three hundred held office during the existence of the second Temple alone.[1] That number is probably hyperbolical, but the statement in other parts of the Rabbinical literature, that there were eighty high priests in that period,[2] throws doubt on this list, which besides is manifestly patched in several places.

[Footnote 1: Yoma, 9a.]

[Footnote 2: Yer. Yoma, ix., and Lev. R. xx.]

With the procuratorship of Florus, Josephus brings his chronicle to an end, the later events having been treated in detail in the Wars; and in conclusion he commends himself for his accuracy in giving the succession of priests and kings and political administrators:

"And I make bold to say, now I have so completely perfected the work which I set out to do, that no other person, be he Jew or foreigner, and had he ever so great an inclination to it, could so accurately deliver these accounts to the Greeks as is done in these books. For members of my own people acknowledge that I far exceed them in Jewish learning, and I have taken great pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks and understand stand the elements of the Greek language, though I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue that I cannot speak Greek with exactness."

He makes explicit his standpoint with this envoi, which shows that he was writing for a Greek-speaking public and in competition with Greeks, and this helps to explain why he sets special store on the record of priests and kings and political changes, and why he so often disguises the genuine Jewish outlook. As an account of the Jewish people for the prejudiced society of Rome, the Antiquities undoubtedly possessed merit. History, indeed, at the time, was far from being an exact science, nor was accuracy esteemed necessary to it. Cicero had said a hundred years earlier, that it was legitimate to lie in narratives; and this was the characteristic outlook of the Greco-Roman writers. The most brilliant literary documents of the age, the Annals and Histories of Tacitus, are rather pieces of sparkling journalism than sober and philosophical records of facts; and therefore we must not judge Josephus by too high a standard.

Weighed in his own balance, he had done a great service to his people by setting out the main heads of their history over three thousand years, so that it should be intelligible to the cultured Roman society; and had he been reproached with misrepresenting and distorting many of their religious ideas, he would have replied, with some justice, that it was necessary to do so in, order to make the Romans understand. On the same ground he would have justified the omission of much that was characteristic and the exaggeration of much that was normal. He shows throughout some measure of national pride. To-day, however, we cannot but regret that he weakly adopted much of the spiritual outlook of his Gentile contemporaries, and that he did not seek to convey to his readers the fundamental spiritual conceptions of the Jews, which might have endowed his history with an unique distinction. His record of two thousand years of Israel's history gives but the shadow of the glory of his people.



In every age since the dispersion began, the Jews have appeared to their neighbors as a curious anomaly. Their abstract idea of God, their peculiar religious observances, their refusal to intermarry with their neighbors, their serious habits of life—all have served to mark them out and attract the wonder of the philosophical, the vituperation of the vulgar, and the dislike of the ignorant. Their enemies in every epoch have repeated with slight variation the charge which Haman brought in his petition to King Ahasuerus, "There is a people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people, neither keep they the king's laws" (Esther 3:8). In the cosmopolitan society that arose in the Hellenistic kingdoms, it was their especial offense that they retained a national cohesion, and refused to indulge in the free trade in religious ideas and social habits adopted by civilized peoples. The popular feeling was fanned by a party that had a more particular grievance against them. Though certain philosophical sects, notably the schools of Pythagoras and Aristotle, were struck with admiration for the lofty spiritual ideas and the strict discipline of Judaism, another school, and that the most powerful of the time, was smitten with envy and hatred.

The Stoics, who aspired to establish a religious philosophy for all mankind, and pursued a vigorous missionary propaganda, particularly in the East, saw in the Jews not only obstinate opponents but dangerous rivals, who carried on a competing mission with provoking success. The children of Israel were spread over the whole of the civilized world, and everywhere they vigorously propagated their teaching. Of all enmities, the enmity of contending creeds is the bitterest. The Stoics became the first professional Jew-haters, and set themselves at the head of those who resented Jewish particularism, either from jealousy or from that unreasoning dislike which is universally felt against minorities that live differently from the mass about them.

The ill-will and sectarian hatred were most prevalent at Alexandria, where the powerful Jewish community excited the attacks of the half-Hellenized natives. The campaign was fought mainly as a battle of books. The Hebrew Scriptures represented the early Egyptians in no favorable light. The Greco-Egyptian historians retaliated by a malevolent account of the origin and history of the Hebrew people, of which Manetho's story is the prototype. In this work of the third century B.C.E. the children of Israel were represented as sprung from a pack of lepers, who were expelled from Egypt because of their foul disease. A still more virulent attack on the Jewish teaching is found in two Stoic writers of the first century B.C.E., Posidonius of Apamea, a town of Phrygia, and Molon,[1] who taught at Rhodes. The former raised the charge that the Jews alone of all peoples refused to have any communication with other nations, but regarded them as their enemies. Molon, besides a general travesty of their early history, wrote a special diatribe against them—the first document of the kind which history records—accusing them of atheism and misanthropy, cowardice and stupidity. These remained the stock charges for centuries, and they assumed an added bitterness after the Roman conquest, when to the peculiarity of Jewish customs was added the stigma of being a subject people. The hatred of Greek and Jew, despite all the ostentatious friendliness of a Herod for Greek things, became deeper, and it showed itself as well without as within Palestine. At Alexandria, in the beginning of the first century, the antagonism developed into open riots, and the leaders of the anti-Jewish party were again two Stoics, Apion and Chaeremon, the one orator and grammarian, the other priest and astrologer. There is nothing very original in their libels, which are modeled upon those of Posidonius and Molon; but some fresh detail is added. It was said that the deity worshiped at Jerusalem was the head of an ass, to which human sacrifices were offered, and that the Jews took an oath to do no service for any Gentile. Apion, a man of some repute, was the head of the Alexandrian Stoic school, and called "the toiler," because of his industry. He was, however, also known as "the quarrelsome"[2] ([Greek: ho pleistonikeas]). Another critic of ancient times says he was notorious for advertising his ideas (in doctrinis suis praedicandis venditator)[3], and the Emperor Augustus declares that he was the drum of his own fame (i.e. the blower of his own trumpet). He was in fact a mixture of scholar and charlatan, as many of his successors have been, the Houston Chamberlain of the first century.

[Footnote 1: Schuerer (iii. 503ff) has brought cogent reasons to show that Molon is not the same as Apollonius, another Jew-baiter, with whom he has often been identified.]

[Footnote 2: Clemens, Strom. i. 21, 101.]

[Footnote 3: Gallus, Noctes Atticae, v. 2.]

Apion wrote a history of Egypt in which his attack upon the Jews appears to have been an episode,[1] but his prominence as an anti-Semite is shown by the fact that he went as the spokesman of the Greek embassy to Caligula on the memorable occasion when Philo was the champion of the Jewish cause. In that capacity Philo prepared an elaborate apology for his people, which he had not the opportunity to deliver; but it contained in part an account of the religious sects, designed to show their philosophical excellence, and it was known to the Church fathers of the early centuries of the Christian era. Only small fragments of it are preserved by Eusebius, and the rest of the apologetic writing of Alexandria, which was in all probability very extensive, has disappeared. Yet the Hellenistic-Jewish literature is colored throughout by an apologetic purpose. Whether the work is a professedly historical or ethical or philosophical treatise, the idea is always present of representing Judaism as a sublime and a humanitarian doctrine, and of refuting the calumnies of the Greek scribes. Thus, besides his elaborate apology prepared for the Roman Emperor, Philo had written a popular presentation of Judaism in the form of a Life of Moses, with appended treatises on Humanity and Nobility, which was but a thinly-veiled work of apologetics. Another part of the defensive literature took the form of missionary propaganda under a heathen mask. The oracles of the Sibyl and Orpheus, a forged history of Hecataeus, and monotheistic verses foisted on the Greek poets, were but attempts to carry the war into the enemy's territory. Further, there must have been a more direct presentation of the Jewish cause by way of public lectures and popular addresses in the synagogues. Nevertheless, the specific answers to the charges advanced by the anti-Jewish scribblers are now to be found most fully stated in Josephus. In his day the literary campaign against the Jewish name was as remorseless as the military campaign that had destroyed their political independence. The Romans, tolerant themselves in religion, had long been intolerant of Jewish separatism and national exclusiveness, and Cicero,[2] shortly after the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey, had denounced their "barbarian superstition" in language that is typical of the outlook of the Roman aristocracy. "Even when Jerusalem was untouched, and the Jews were at peace with us, their religious ceremonies ill accorded with the splendor of our Empire; still less tolerable are they to-day, when the nation has shown, by taking up arms, its attitude towards us, while the fact that it has been conquered and reduced to servitude proves how much the gods care for it."

[Footnote 1: The idea, which is derived from the Church fathers, that he wrote a separate [Greek: logos] against the Jews, appears to be based by them on a misunderstanding of Ant. XVIII. viii. 1. Comp. Schuerer, op. cit. iii. 541.]

[Footnote 2: Pro Flacco, 68.]

The later poets of the Augustan age, Horace, Tibullus, and Ovid, expressed a supercilious disdain for the Jewish customs of Sabbath-keeping, etc., which were spreading even in the politest circles. As the political conflict between the Romans and their stubborn subjects became more pronounced, the Roman impatience of their obstinacy increased. Seneca, writing after Palestine had been placed under a Roman governor, speaks bitterly of "the accursed race whose practices have so far prevailed that they have been received all over the world." Hating the Jews as he did with the double hatred of a Roman aristocrat and a Stoic philosopher, he is yet fain to admit that their religion is diffused over the Empire, and anxious as he is to decry their superstition, he reveals part of the reason of their success. "They at least can give an explanation of their religious ceremonies, whereas the pagan masses cannot say why they carry out their practices." The pagan cults were languishing because of the frigidity of their forms and their incapacity for providing men with an ideal or a discipline or a solace; and the people turned to a living religion. The day had come that was foretold by the prophet, when men shall catch hold of the skirts of a Jew, saying, "We will go with you, because we have heard that God is with you" (Zech. 8:23).

The bitterest and the most envenomed attacks on the Jews were written after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the failure of Rome to break the stubborn spirit of her conquered foe became apparent. The legions could destroy Jerusalem; they could not uproot Judaism or even stay its progress. The presence of thousands of Jewish captive slaves at Rome accelerated indeed the march of conversion. Vespasian and Titus forebore to take the title "Judaicus" after their triumph, lest it should be taken to mean that they had Judaized. The speedy defection of Roman citizens to the superstition of a conquered people was an insult, which, added to the injury of their obstinate resistance, roused to fury the remnants of the Roman conservatives. The entanglement of Titus with the Jewish princess Berenice was the final outrage. The satiric poets Martial and Juvenal inserted frequent ribald references to Jewish customs; but the nature of their works precluded a serious criticism. Martial was a master of flouts, jeers, and gibes, and Juvenal was a soured and disappointed provincial, who delighted to hurl wild reproaches. He declaimed against the passing away of the old manners of Republican Rome, and for him the spread of Jewish habits was among the surest signs of degeneracy. The poets, however, did not so much endeavor to misrepresent as to ridicule the Jews and their converts. But the classical exponent of Roman anti-Semitism is Tacitus, the historian who wrote in the time of Nerva and Trajan, i.e. just after Josephus, and who treated of the Jews both in his Annals, which were a history of the last century, and in his Histories, which dealt with his own times. He surpassed all his predecessors, Greek or Roman, in distortion and abuse, and he combined the charges invented by the jealousy and rancor of Greek sophists with the abuse of Jewish character induced by Imperial Roman passion. His account cannot be mistaken for a sober judgment. By the transparent combination of earlier, discredited sources, by blatant inconsistencies, and by neglect of the authorities that would have provided him with reliable information, he shows himself the partisan pamphleteer. But the indictment is none the less illuminating. Mommsen speaks of the solemn enmity which Tacitus cherishes to the section of the human race "to whom everything pure is impure, and everything impure is pure." Doubtless his hatred was founded on intense national pride, but it was fed by his tendency to blacken and exaggerate. His audience was composed, as Renan says, of "aristocrats of the race of English Tories, who derived their strength from their very prejudices." Their ideas about the Jewish people were as vague as those of the ordinary man of to-day about the people of Thibet, and they were willing to believe anything of them.

Tacitus gives several alternative accounts of the origin of the Jews.[1] According to some they were fugitives from the Isle of Crete (deriving their name from Mount Ida), who settled on the coast of Libya. According to others they sprang from Egypt, and were driven out under their captains Hierosolymus and Judas; while others stated that they were Ethiopians whom fear and hatred obliged to change their habitation. He supplies himself a fanciful account of the Exodus, tricked out with a variety of misrepresentations of their observances, which are ludicrously inconsistent with each other:

"They bless the image of that animal [the ass], by whose indication they had escaped from their vagrant condition in the wilderness and quenched their thirst. They abstain from swine's flesh as a memorial of the miserable destruction which the mange brought on them. That they stole the fruits of the earth, we have a proof in their unleavened bread. They rest on the seventh day, because that day gave them rest from their labors, and, affecting a lazy life, they are idle during every seventh year. These rites, whatever their origin, are at least supported by their antiquity.[2] Their other institutions are depraved and impure, and prevailed by reason of their viciousness; for every vile fellow despising the rites of his ancestors brought to them his contribution, so that the Jewish commonwealth was augmented. The first lesson taught to converts is to despise their gods, to renounce their country, and to hold their parents, children, and brethren in utmost contempt: but still they are at pains to increase and multiply, and esteem it unlawful to kill any of their children. They regard as immortal the souls of those who die in battle, or are put to death for their crimes.[3] Hence their love of posterity and their contempt of death. They have no notion of more than one Divine Being, who is only grasped by the mind. They deem it profane to fashion images of gods out of perishable matter, and teach that their Being is supreme and eternal, immutable and imperishable. Accordingly, they erect no images in their cities, much less in their temples, and they refuse to grant this kind of honor to kings or emperors."

[Footnote 1: Hist. v. 2ff.]

[Footnote 2: Ch. lvii.]

[Footnote 3: This statement agrees remarkably with what Josephus puts into the mouth of several of his speakers. See above, p. 114.]

The sage Pliny, who himself laughed at the crude paganism of his time, could also point the finger of scorn at the Jews as "a people notorious by their contempt of divine images." To the genuine Roman, the state religion might not be true, but it was part of the civic life, and therefore its rejection was unsocial and disloyal. Yet the account of Tacitus contains several remarks which, in their author's despite, reveal the moral superiority of the conquered over the conquerors. He notes their national tenacity, their ready charity, their freedom from infanticide, their conviction of the immortality of the soul, their purely spiritual and monotheistic cult. Tacitus certainly wrote after the works of Josephus had been published, so that the apology is not an answer to him; but his methods of misstatement were anticipated at Rome by a host of anti-Semitic writers. Though Josephus never mentions a single Roman detractor of his people, and confines his reply to Greeks who were long buried, it was doubtless against this class that he was anxious to defend himself and his faith.

He declared at the end of the Antiquities his intention to write three books about "God and His essence, and about our laws," proposing, perhaps, to imitate Philo's apology for Judaism, which was in three parts. But the virulence of the calumny against Judaism induced him to modify his plan and write a specific reply to the charges made against the Jews. It was necessary to refute more concisely and more definitely than he had done in his long historical works the false tales about the Jewish past and the Jewish law that were circulated and believed in the hostile Greco-Roman world. He directed himself more particularly to uphold the antiquity of the Jews against those who denied their historical claims and to disprove the charges leveled against the Jewish religious ideas and legislation. These two subjects form the content of the two books commonly known to us as Against Apion. Only the second, however, deals with Apion's diatribe, and the current title is certainly unauthentic. Origen,[1] Eusebius, and Hieronymus[2] refer to the first book as About the Antiquity of the Jews, and Hieronymus adds the description [Greek: antirraetikos logos], A Refutation. Eusebius similarly[3] speaks of the second book as the Refutation of Apion the grammarian. Porphyry calls it simply [Greek: pros tous Hellaenas], The Address to the Greeks, and it is possible that Josephus so entitled his work. It is noteworthy that he directed his pleading to the Greek-speaking and not to the Latin public; the Greeks, he recognized, were the source of the misrepresentations of his people, and, as Greek was read by all cultured people in his day, in refuting them he would incur less obloquy and attain his end equally well.

[Footnote 1: Orig. C. Cels. i. 14.]

[Footnote 2: De Viris Illustr. 13.]

[Footnote 3: H.E. III. viii. 2.]

The first point that Josephus seeks to make good in his apology is the antiquity of the Hebrew people and the historical character of their Scriptures. In the Greco-Roman world, which had lost confidence in itself, and looked for inspiration to the past, age was a title to respectability, and it was the aim of the Jewish apologist to explain away the silence of the Greeks. For the certificate of the Hellenic historians was in the Hellenistic world the most convincing mark of genuineness.

"By my works on the Antiquity of the Jews—thus Josephus begins—I have proved that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity and had a distinct existence. Those Antiquities contain the history of five thousand years, and are derived from our sacred books, but are translated by me into the Greek tongue."

Josephus loosely represents that the whole of the Antiquities is based on the Bible, and reckons the period of history at nearly a thousand years more than it covered.

"But since I observe that many people give ear to the reproaches that are laid against us by those who bear us ill-will, and will not believe what I have written concerning the antiquity of our nation, while they take it for a plain sign that our nation is of late date because it is not so much as vouchsafed a bare mention by the most famous historians among the Greeks, I therefore have thought myself under an obligation to write somewhat briefly about these subjects, in order to convict those who reproach us of spite and deliberate falsehood and to correct the ignorance of others, and withal to instruct all those who are desirous of knowing the truth of what great antiquity we really are. As for the witnesses whom I shall produce for the proof of what I say, they shall be such as are esteemed by the Greeks themselves to be of the greatest reputation for truth and the most skilful in the knowledge of all antiquity. I will also show that those who have written so reproachfully and falsely about us are to be convicted by what they have themselves written to the contrary, and I shall endeavor to give an account of the reasons why it has happened that a great number of Greeks have not made mention of our nation in their histories."

Acting on the principle that the best defense is attack, Josephus starts by turning on the Greeks themselves and discrediting their antiquity. They were a mushroom people, or at least their records were modern, and not to be compared in age with the records of the Phoenicians, the Hebrews, or the Babylonians. Comparative sciences had flourished in the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, and in the light of them the Greek claim to exclusive wisdom had been shattered. Josephus had made himself master of the current knowledge of the subject. The Greeks learnt their letters from the Phoenicians, they have no record more ancient than the Homeric poems, and even Homer did not leave his poems in writing,[1] while their earliest historians lived but shortly before the Persian expedition into Greece, and their earliest philosophers, Pythagoras and Thales, learnt what they knew from Egyptians and Chaldeans. Having shown the lateness and Oriental origin of Greek culture, Josephus accuses Greek writers of unreliability, as is manifest by their mutual disagreement. He makes a great show of learning on the subject and uses his material effectively. Doubtless he found the topic ready to hand in some predecessor, and it is somewhat ironical that a Josephus should throw stones at a Thucydides on the score of inaccuracy.

[Footnote 1: It is interesting that this casual statement of Josephus was one of the starting points of modern Homeric criticism.]

The reason for the want of authority in the Greek historians—continues Josephus—is to be found in the fact that the Greeks in early times took no care to preserve public records of their transactions, which afforded those who afterwards would write about them scope for making mistakes and displaying invention: conditions which favored literary art, but marred historical accuracy. Those who were the most zealous to write history were more anxious to demonstrate that they could write well than to discover the truth.

The contrast between the individual creative impulse of the Hellene and the respect for tradition of the Hebrew, which anticipates in a way Matthew Arnold's contrast between Hellenic "spontaneity of consciousness" and Hebraic "strictness of conscience," is pointedly made by the apologist:[1]

"We Jews must yield to the Greek writers as to style and eloquence of composition, but we concede them no such superiority in regard to the verity of ancient history, and least of all as to that part which concerns the affairs of our country. The reliability of the Hebrew records is vouched for by the unbroken succession of official annals handed down by priests and prophets. The purity of the priestly caste was strictly maintained by the law of marriage, which impelled every priest to make a scrutiny into the genealogy of his wife and forward a register of it to Jerusalem, where it was duly recorded in the archives. And we possess the names of our high priests from father to son for a period of two thousand years. Nor is there individual liberty of writing among us: only the prophets (i.e. inspired persons) have written the earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God Himself by inspiration, and others have written about what happened in their own times, and that too in a very distinct manner. We have no mass of books disagreeing with each other, but only twenty-two books containing the records of all our past, which are rightly believed to be inspired."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 6ff.]

The reckoning of the Canon is interesting:[1] there are five books of Moses, thirteen books of the prophets, recording the history from the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, and the remaining four books, the Ketubim, contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life. The books written since the time of Artaxerxes have not the same trustworthiness, because the exact succession of prophets has not been maintained. The intense sentiment which the Jews feel for their Scriptures is proved by their willingness to die for them.

[Footnote 1: The accepted number of books in the Jewish Canon is twenty-four, and this number is found in the Book of II Esdras, xiv. 41, which is probably contemporaneous with Josephus. The number 22 is to be explained by the fact that Josephus must have linked Ruth with Judges and Lamentations with Jeremiah. See J.E., s.v. Canon.]

Again a contrast is pointed between the seriousness of the Hebraic and the levity of the Greek attitude towards literature. Josephus egotistically draws an example from the record of the recent war. The Greeklings who wrote about it

"put a few things together by hearsay, and, abusing the word, call their writings by the name of histories. But I have composed a true history of the whole war and of all the events that occurred, having been concerned in all its transactions; for I acted as general of those among us that are named Galileans, as long as it was possible for us to make any resistance. I was then seized by the Romans, and became a captive. Vespasian and Titus kept me under guard, and forced me to attend on them continually. At the first I was put into bonds, but later was set at liberty and sent to accompany Titus when he came from Alexandria to the siege of Jerusalem, during which time nothing was done that escaped my knowledge. For what happened in the Roman camp I saw, and wrote down carefully; and what information the deserters brought out of the city, I was the only man to understand. Afterwards, when I had gotten leisure at Rome, and when all my material was prepared for the work, I obtained some persons to assist me in learning the Greek tongue, and by these means I composed the history of the events, and I was so well assured of the truth of what I related, that I first of all appealed to those that had the supreme command in that war, Vespasian and Titus, as witnesses for me. For to them first of all I presented my books, and after them to many of the Romans that had been engaged in the war. I also recited them to many of my own race that understood Greek philosophy, among whom were Julius Archelaus, Herod, king of Chalcis, a person of great authority, and King Agrippa himself, a person that deserved the greatest respect. Now all these bore their testimony to me that I had the strictest regard to truth; who yet would not have dissembled the matter, nor been silent, if I, out of ignorance, or out of favor to any side, either had given a false color to the events, or omitted any of them."

Josephus here indignantly replies to his Roman detractors, who accused him of having composed a mere partisan thesis. As a priest he had a special knowledge of the Scriptures, which were the basis of his Antiquities, and as an important actor in the drama of the Roman war, he wrote of its events with the knowledge of an eye-witness. He excuses his digression as being made in self-defense, and claims to have proved that historical writing is indigenous rather to those called Barbarians than to the Greeks. He then returns to the task of refuting those who say that the Jewish polity is of late origin because the Greek authors are silent about it. One main cause of the silence was the isolation of Judea and the character of the Jewish people, who did not delight in merchandise and commerce, but devoted themselves to the cultivation of the soil. This, of course, is a picture of the Bible times, because in the writer's days they were beginning their mercantile development. Hence the Jews were in quite a different condition from the Phoenicians, the Thracians, the Persians, and the Medes, with all of whom the Hellenes came into contact. They are rather to be compared with the Romans, who only entered into the Greek sphere of interest later in their history.

Josephus makes the point that it would be as reasonable for the Jews to deny the antiquity of the Greeks because there is no mention of them in Hebrew records, as for the Greeks to deny the antiquity of the Jews for the converse reason. And if the Greeks are ignorant of the Hebrews, he argues that there is abundant testimony in the histories of other peoples. He starts with the Egyptian evidence, and quotes from Manetho, the anti-Jewish historian, giving extracts about the Hyksos tribes and Hyksos kings, whom he identifies with Joseph and his brethren. The identification was popular till recent times, but modern historical criticism has rejected it. Josephus dates the invasion of the Hyksos at three hundred and ninety-three years before Danaus came to Argos, which in turn was five hundred and twenty years before the Trojan war. Thus he puts the Bible story far ahead in age of Greek myth. Passing on to the testimony in the Phoenician records, he derives from the public archives of Tyre, to which reference was made also in the Antiquities,[1] evidence of the relations between Solomon and Hiram, and further quotes the account given by the Hellenistic historian Alexander of Ephesus, who mentions the same incident. This Alexander had written a world-history, and had collected the chronicles of the various peoples that formed part of Alexander's empire. Josephus, who probably knew of his work through Nicholas or some other chronicler, cites him to confirm the Bible. Collections of extracts about the Jewish people and references to the Bible in Greek literature were already in vogue, for it was an age similar to our own in its love of encyclopedias. Josephus uses with not a little skill these foreign sources, and supplements the comparative material which he had introduced in the Antiquities. Confirmation of the account of the flood, as also of the rebuilding of the Temple after the return of the Jews from Babylon, is found in the Chaldean history of Berosus; and other long extracts from Babylonian history are inserted that furnish a casual mention of Judea or Jerusalem. Josephus attempts, too, with doubtful success, to combine the Phoenician and Babylonian records in order to prove that they agree about the date of the rebuilding of the Temple. The only justifiable inference from the passages, however, appears to be that both sources agreed on the existence of Cyrus, king of Persia.

[Footnote 1: Comp. above, p. 159.]

Finally he adduces passages from various Greek writers, to show that the Jews were not entirely unknown to the Hellenes before Alexander's conquests. Josephus had no doubt predecessors among the Hellenistic Jewish litterateurs in the search for testimony, as well as successors among the Christian apologists; but his collection has alone survived, and has become invaluable to modern scholars, who have ploughed the same field for a different purpose. Authority is brought forward to show that Pythagoras had connection with the Hebrews, and Herodotus, it is argued, referred to the Jews as circumcised Syrians.[1] More apposite is a passage quoted from Clearchus, a pupil of Aristotle, about a discussion which his master had with a Jew of Soli, "who was Greek not only in language but in thought." The genuineness of this excerpt has been questioned, but without good reason. Aristotle's school had a scientific interest in the Jews as in other peoples that had come under Greek sway through Alexander's conquests.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Ant. VIII. x. 3.]

Josephus then sets out some very eulogistic passages about his people, purporting to be from Hecataeus of Abdera, which are very much to his taste and his purpose. Unfortunately, however, they are too good to be true, and modern criticism has established that, while the genuine Hecataeus, an historian who wrote at the end of the fourth century B.C.E., did insert in his work an account of Jerusalem and the Jews, the glowing testimonials which Josephus adduces are from forged books devised by Jews to their own glory. A passage of a less favorable tone, and of which the genuineness is therefore not open to suspicion, is quoted from Agatharchides, a Seleucid historian. Finally, with an incidental mention of a half-dozen Hellenistic writers that have made distinct reference to the Jewish people, and of three Jewish writers, Demetrius, the elder Philo, and Eupolemus, "who have not greatly missed the truth about our affairs," Josephus closes his evidence as to the antiquity of his nation.[1] Possibly he did not realize that his last three witnesses were of his own race, and it is not improbable that this string of names was to him also a string of names culled from Alexander Polyhistor or a similar authority.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 23.]

The latter part of the first book is devoted to the refutation of the anti-Jewish diatribes of several Greeks, and starts off with a few commonplaces upon the topic, to the effect that every great nation incurs the jealousy and ill-will of others. "The Egyptians," says Josephus, "were the first to cast reproaches upon us, and in order to please them, some others undertook to pervert the truth. The causes of their enmity are their chagrin at the events of the Exodus and the difference of their religious ideas."[1] Josephus deals with Manetho's description of the going-out from Egypt, and undertakes to demonstrate that "he trifles and tells arrant lies." He dissects the charge that the Hebrews were a pack of lepers exiled from the country, and insists upon its absurdity and the lack of consistency in the details. He offers ingenuously as a proof of the falsity of the allegation that Moses was a leper the Mosaic legislation about lepers. "How could it be supposed," he asks, "that Moses should ordain such laws against himself, to his own reproach and damage?" Chaeremon is unworthy of reply, because his account, though equally scurrilous, is inconsistent with that of Manetho. But the story of Lysimachus, a writer of the same genus, is more critically examined and found wanting, because it gives no explanation of the origin of the Hebrews. Lysimachus derived the name Jerusalem from the Greek Hierosylen—to commit sacrilege—the Hebrews, according to his story, owing their settlement to the plunder of temples; and Josephus points out triumphantly that that idea is not expressed by the same word and name among the Jews and Greeks. But, to vary a saying of Doctor Johnson, this section of Josephus must be read for the quotations, for if one reads it for the argument of either assailant or apologist, one would shoot oneself.

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. 24.]

The second book of the apology, which is a continuation of the first, opens with an elaborate refutation of Apion. Josephus questions whether he should take the trouble to confute the scurrilous stories of the Alexandrian grammarian, "which are all abuse and vulgarity"; but because many are pleased to pick up mendacious fictions, he thinks it better not to leave the charges without an answer. He disposes first of Apion's tales about Moses and the Exodus, which are of the same character as those of Manetho and Chaeremon. Loaded abuse and unmeasured invective color the refutation, but Apion apparently deserved it. We may take, as a fair specimen of his veracity, the statement that the Hebrews reached Palestine six days after they left Egypt and rested on the seventh day, which they called Sabbath, because of some disease from which they suffered, and of which the Egyptian name was Sabbaton. Apion had in particular attacked the Alexandrian Jews, and Josephus takes the opportunity of enlarging on the privileged position of his people, not only in the Egyptian capital, but in the other Hellenistic cities where they had been settled.[1] He elaborates and amplifies what he had stated on this subject in the Antiquities, and adds a short account of the miraculous delivery of the Egyptian Jews during the short-lived persecution of Ptolemy Physcon, which is recorded more fully and with some variation of detail in the so-called Third Book of the Maccabees. In reply to Apion's charge, that the Jews show a lack of civic spirit because they do not worship the same gods as the Alexandrians, Josephus launches out into an explanation of their conception of God, describes their abhorrence of idolatry, and deals also with their refusal to set up in their temples the image of the Emperor. "But at the same time they are willing," he says, "to pay honors to great men and to offer sacrifices in their name." He deals also, in a digression, with calumnies derived from Posidonius and Melon about the worship of an ass in the sanctuary at Jerusalem.

[Footnote 1: This part of the book, it may be noted, has only been preserved in the Latin version; the Greek original has been lost.]

Apion had invented a detailed story of ritual murder to justify Antiochus Epiphanes for his spoliation of the Temple. The origin of this charge is instructive of the methods of a classical anti-Semite. There was, in the innermost sanctuary, a stone[1] on which the blood of the burnt offering was sprinkled by the high priest on the Day of Atonement. It was known as the [Hebrew: Even Shtiah] and tradition said that the ark of the covenant had rested on it. Mystery centered around it, and the Greek scribes imagined that it was the object of worship. Now, the Greek word for a stone was Onos, which likewise meant an ass, and it was probably on the strength of this blunder that prejudice for centuries accused Jews and Christians of worshiping an ass' head. Josephus brings proof of the emptiness of the charge, and retorts that Apion had himself the heart of an ass; and then, describing the ritual of the Temple, insists that there was no secret mystery about it. It gives a touch of pathos that he speaks as if the Temple services were still being carried out, whether because he was copying a source written before the destruction, or because he deliberately disregarded that event. Apion, like Cicero, had taunted the Jews on account of their political subjection, which proved, he argued, that their laws were not just nor their religion true. Josephus meets the charge—which in the materialistic thinking of the Roman world was hard to answer—by the not very happy plea that the Egyptians and Greeks had suffered a like fortune. So, too, he meets the gibe that the Jews do not eat pork, by saying that the Egyptian priests abstain likewise. He omits in both cases the true religious answer, which would probably not have appealed to his public.

[Footnote 1: Yer. Yoma, v. 2.]

At this point the reply to the Alexandrian anti-Semite comes to an end, and the rest of the book comprises a defense of the Jewish legislation, "which is intended not as an eulogy but as an apology." The broad aim is to show that the Law inculcates humanity and piety; but Josephus, before setting himself to this, again labors to point out that it is pre-eminent in antiquity over any of the Greek codes. This done, he gives a summary of the principles of Judaism, which is unlike anything else he wrote in its masterly grasp of the spirit of the religion and in its philosophical attitude. So great indeed is the contrast between this epilogue and the bald summary of the Mosaic laws in the Antiquities that it is safe to say that Josephus had for his later work lighted on a fresh and more inspired source. His presentation has the regular characteristic of the Alexandrian school, an insistence on the universal and philanthropic elements of the Mosaic law; and it is likely that he had before him either Philo's work on the Life of Moses, or another work, which his predecessor had used. It matters little that there are differences of detail between his and Philo's interpretations: the manner and the general purport are the same, and the manner is not the usual manner of Josephus, and altogether different from the treatment in the Antiquities.

He lays down with great clearness the dominant features of the Mosaic constitution. It is a theocracy, i.e. the state depends on God. The passage in which he makes good this principle is a striking piece of reasoning in comparative religion, worthy to be quoted in full:

"Now there are innumerable differences in the particular customs and laws that hold among all mankind, which a man may briefly reduce under the following heads: Some legislators have permitted their governments to be under monarchies, others put them under oligarchies, and others under a republican form; but our legislator had no regard to any of these forms, but he ordained our government to be what, by a strained expression, may be termed a Theocracy, by ascribing the authority and the power to God, and by persuading all the people to have a regard to Him as the Author of all the good things enjoyed either in common by all mankind or by each one in particular, and of all that they themselves obtain by praying to Him in their greatest difficulties. He informed them that it was impossible to escape God's observation, either in any of our outward actions or in any of our inward thoughts. Moreover he represented God as un-begotten and immutable through all eternity, superior to all mortal conceptions in form, and though known to us by His power, yet unknown to us as to His essence. I do not now explain how these notions of God are in harmony with the sentiments of the wisest among the Greeks. However, their sages testify with great assurance that these notions are just and agreeable to the divine nature; for Pythagoras and Anaxagoras and Plato and the Stoic philosophers that succeeded them, and almost all the rest profess the same sentiments, and had the same notions of the nature of God; yet durst not these men disclose those true notions to more than a few, because the body of the people were prejudiced beforehand with other opinions. But our legislator, whose actions harmonized with his laws, did not only prevail with those who were his contemporaries to accept these notions, but so firmly imprinted this faith in God upon all their posterity that it could never be removed. The reason why the constitution of our legislation was ever better directed than other legislations to the utility of all is this: that Moses did not make religion a part of virtue, but he ordained other virtues to be a part of religion—I mean justice, and fortitude, and temperance, and a universal agreement of the members of the community with one another. All our actions and studies have a reference to piety towards God, for he hath left none of these in suspense or undetermined. There are two ways of coming at any sort of learning and a moral conduct of life: the one is by instruction in words, the other by practical exercises. Now, other lawgivers have separated these two ways in their opinions, and, choosing the one which best pleased each of them, neglected the other. Thus did the Lacedemonians and the Cretans teach by practical exercises, but not by words; while the Athenians and almost all the other Greeks made laws about what was to be done, or left undone, but had no regard to exercising them thereto in practice.

"But our legislator very carefully joined these two methods of instruction together; for he neither left these practical exercises to be performed without verbal instruction, nor did he permit the learning of the law to proceed without the exercises for practice; but beginning immediately from the earliest infancy and the regulation of our diet, he left nothing of the very smallest consequence to be done at the pleasure and disposal of the individual. Accordingly, he made a fixed rule of law, what sorts of food they should abstain from, and what sorts they should use; as also what communion they should have with others, what great diligence they should use in their occupations, and what times of rest should be interposed, in order that, by living under that law as under a father and a master, we might be guilty of no sin, neither voluntary nor out of ignorance. For he did not suffer the guilt of ignorance to go without punishment, but demonstrated the law to be the best and the most necessary instruction of all, directing the people to cease from their other employments and to assemble together for the hearing and the exact learning of the law,—and this not once or twice or oftener, but every week; which all the other legislators seem to have neglected."

This passage contains, in many ways, an admirable explanation of Judaism as a law of conduct, inculcating morality by good habit; it lacks, indeed, any deep spiritual note or mystical exaltation, but it was likely for that reason to appeal to the practical, material-minded Roman. Josephus corroborates what Seneca had grudgingly remarked, that the Jews understood their laws; and it is this, he says, which made such a wonderful accord among us, to which no other nation can show a parallel. The eloquent insistence on the harmony uniting the Jewish people is another proof that Josephus is here reproducing the ideas of others, for it is in complete and glaring contrast with what he had repeatedly written in his Antiquities and his Wars about the strife of different sects. His books would have supplied the best argument to any pagan criticising his apology. Josephus further ascribes to the singleness of the tradition the absence of original genius among the people. The excellence of the Law produces a conservative outlook, whereas the Greeks, lacking a fixed law, love a new thing. S.D. Luzzatto, the Hebraist of the middle of the nineteenth century, emphasized the same contrast between Hellenism and Hebraism.

Turning in detail to the precepts of the Law, Josephus gives eloquent expression in the Hellenistic fashion to the idea of the divine unity. "God," he says, "contains all: He is a being altogether perfect, happy, and self-sufficient, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things; God's aim is reflected in human institutions. Rightly He has but one Temple, which should be common to all men, even as He is the common God of all men." He develops, too, the humanitarian aspect of Judaism in the manner of the Hellenistic school. "And for our duty at the sacrifices, we ought in the first place to pray for the common welfare of all and after that for ourselves, for we were made for fellowship, one with another, and he who prefers the common good before his own is above all dear to God." He points to the excellence of the Jewish conception of marriage, another commonplace of the Hellenistic apologist, as we know from the Sibylline oracles; to the respect for parents and to the friendliness for the stranger. He insists with Philo[1] that kinship is to be measured not by blood, but by the conduct of life. He dwells, likewise in company with the Hellenists, on a law that lacks Bible authority: that the Israelites should give, to all who needed it, fire and water, food and guidance.[2] The impulse to this interpretation of the Torah is found in the charge made by the Jews' enemies, that they were to assist only members of their own race.[3] Josephus appears to be original, and, as is quite pardonable, he may be writing with a view to Roman proclivities, when he praises the law for the number of offenses to which it attaches the capital penalty. Like many a later Jewish apologist living amid an alien and dominant culture, Josephus accepts foreign standards, and he is silent about the Pharisaic teaching which softened the literal prescripts of the Bible.[4]

[Footnote 1: Comp. De Nobilitate.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Philo, II. 639.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 102.]

[Footnote 4: It has been noticed above (note, p. 153) that Josephus appears to misunderstand or deliberately misinterpret the Hebrew [Hebrew: aror] (cursed be!), which precedes many prohibitions of the Mosaic law, to mean "he shall be put to death."]

In a peroration Josephus returns to a general eulogy of the Jewish Law, on account of the faithful allegiance which it commands, and denounces the pagan idolatry in the manner of the Greek rationalists, who had made play with the Olympian hierarchy. While the inherent excellence of the Jewish Law is dependent on the sublime conception of God, the inherent defect of the Greek religion is that the Greek legislators entertained a low conception of God, and did not make the religious creed a part of the state law, but left it to the poets to invent what they chose. The greatest of the Greek philosophers, indeed, agreed with the Jews as to the true notions about God: "Plato especially imitated our legislation in enjoining on all citizens that they should know the laws accurately." A later generation made bold to declare that Plato had listened to Jeremiah in Egypt and learnt his wisdom from the Jewish prophet. Josephus compares with the Jewish separateness the national exclusiveness of the Lacedemonians, and claims that the Jews show a greater humanity in that they admit converts from other peoples. They have, moreover, shown their bravery not in wars for the purpose of amassing wealth, but in observing their laws in spite of every attempt to wean them away. The Mosaic law is being spread over the civilized world:

"For there is not any city of the Greeks, nor any of the barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever whither our custom of resting on the seventh day has not come, and by which our fasts and lighting up of lamps and divers regulations as to food are not observed. They also endeavor to imitate our mutual accord with one another, and the charitable distribution of our goods, and our diligence in our trades, and our fortitude in bearing the distresses that befall us; and what is here matter of the greatest admiration, our Law hath no bait of pleasure to allure men to it, but it prevails by its own force; and as God Himself pervades all the world, so hath our Law passed through all the world also."

The task of the apologist is completed; "for whereas our accusers have pretended that our nation are a people of late origin, I have demonstrated that they are exceedingly ancient, and whereas they have reproached our lawgiver as a vile man, God of old bare witness to his virtues, and time itself hath been proved to bear witness to the same thing."[1] In a final appreciation he concludes:

"As to the laws themselves, more words are unnecessary, for they are visible in their own nature, and are seen to teach not impiety, but the truest piety in the world. They do not make men hate one another, but encourage people to communicate what they have to one another freely. They are enemies to injustice, they foster righteousness, they banish idleness and expensive living, and instruct men to be content with what they have and to be diligent in their callings. They forbid men to make war from a desire of gain, but make them courageous in defending the laws. They are inexorable in punishing malefactors. They admit no sophistry of words, but are always established by actions, which we ever propose as surer demonstrations than what is contained in writing only; on which account I am so bold as to say that we are become the teachers of other men in the greatest number of things, and those of the most excellent nature only. For what is more excellent than inviolable piety? What is more just than submission to laws? And what is more advantageous than mutual love and concord? And this prevails so far that we are to be neither divided by calamities nor to become oppressive and factious in prosperity, but to contemn death when we are in war, and in peace to apply ourselves to our handicrafts or to the tilling of the ground; while in all things and in all ways we are satisfied that God is the Judge and Governor of our actions."

[Footnote 1: C. Ap. ii. 41.]

As we read this final outburst of the Jewish apologist and think of what he had himself written to gainsay it, and what he was yet to write in his autobiography, we are fain to exclaim, o si sic omnia! One would like to believe that in the defense of the Jewish Law we have the true Josephus, driven in his old age by the goading of enemies to throw off the mask of Greco-Roman culture, and standing out boldly as a lover of his people and his people's law. Such latter-day repentance has been known among the Flavii of other generations. And the two books Against Apion show that when Josephus had not to qualify his own weakness nor to flatter his patrons, he could rise to an appreciation and even to an eloquent exposition of Jewish ideals. Yet it was not the Greek-writing historian, but the Palestinian Rabbis, that were to prove to the world the undying vigor, the unquenchable power of resistance of the Jewish Law. The Vineyard of Jabneh founded by Johanan ben Zakkai was the sufficient refutation of Roman scoffers, while the apology of Josephus became the guide of the early Church fathers in their replies to heathen calumniators who repeated against them the charges that had been invented against the Jews. It is significant that Tacitus, who wrote his history some few years after the defense of Josephus was published, repeated with added virulence the fables which the Jewish writer had refuted. The charges of anti-Semites have in every age borne a charmed life: they are hydra-headed, and can be refuted, not by literature, but by life.

Nevertheless literary libels, if unanswered in literature, tend to become fixed popular beliefs, and in the Dark and Middle Ages the Jewish people were to suffer bitterly from the lack of apologists who could obtain a hearing before the peoples of Europe. In the early centuries of the Christian era, before the Christian Church was allied with the Roman Empire, tolerance ruled in the Greco-Roman world, and the narrow Roman hatred of Judaism was in large part broken down. Celsus, Numenius, and Dion Cassius, three of the most notable authors of the second century, speak of the Jewish people and Jewish Scriptures in a very different tone from that of a Tacitus and an Apion. And as it has been said, "Who shall know how many cultured pagans were led by the books of Josephus to read the Bible and to look on Judaism with other eyes?"[1] If the apologies of Philo and Josephus could not pierce the armor of prejudice and hatred which enwrapped a Tacitus or a Christian ecclesiastic, they at least found their way through the lighter coating of ignorance and misunderstanding which had been fabricated by Hellenistic Egyptians, but which had not fatally warped the minds of the general Greco-Roman society.

[Footnote 1: Comp. Joel, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte, ii. 118.]



The works of Josephus early passed into the category of standard literature. It is recorded that they were placed by order of the Flavian Emperors in the public library of Rome; and though Suetonius, the biographer of the Caesars, who wrote in the second century, and Diogenes, the biographer of the philosophers, who wrote a century later, do not apparently hold them of any account, it is certain that they were carefully preserved till the triumph of the Christian Church gave them a new importance. For centuries henceforth they were the prime authority for Jewish history of post-Biblical times, and were treasured as a kind of introduction to the Gospels, illuminating the period in which Christianity had its birth. The traitor-historian was soon forgotten by his own people, if they ever had regard for him, and with the rest of the Hellenistic writers he dropped out of the Rabbinical tradition. Possibly the Aramaic version of the Wars survived for a time in the Eastern schools, but while the Jews were struggling to preserve their religious existence, they had little thought for such a history of their past.

The Christians, on the other hand, had a special interest in the works of Josephus, since they found in them not only the model of their defense against pagan calumnies, but the earliest external testimony to support the Gospels. Josephus was venerated as the Jew who had recorded the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. The Antiquities contain two references to John the Baptist and an account of the execution of James, the brother of Jesus; but the most celebrated of the "evidential" passages occurs in book xviii of the Antiquities, where in our text, following on the account of Pilate's persecution, occurs this paragraph:

"Now, there lived about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared alive to them again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (ch. 3)."

An enormous literature has been provoked by these lines, and the weight of modern opinion is that they are altogether spurious. The passage is first quoted by Eusebius,[1] the historian of Caesarea, who wrote about the beginning of the fourth century C.E.;[2] but Origen, his predecessor by a hundred years, significantly enough does not know of it. Josephus, he says simply, did not acknowledge the Christ.[3] At the same time Origen quotes a passage from the same book of the Antiquities,[4] to show that the Jews ascribed the defeat of the Tetrarch Herod to his murder of John the Baptist. The earliest of the Patristic writers, Clement of Alexandria, quotes Josephus as to chronology, but it is fairly certain that he did not know the works at first hand, since the era he refers to runs from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus,[5] i.e. till the better part of a century after the death of Josephus. Origen likewise probably knew Josephus only at second hand, and the inference is that both the Alexandrian ecclesiastics derived their citations and their interpolation in the text of Josephus from a pious Christian abstract and improvement. The uncompromisingly Christian character of the text, the discrepancy between Origen and Eusebius, and the notorious aptitude of early Christian scribes for interpolating manuscripts, and especially the manuscripts of Hellenistic Jewish writers, with Christological passages make it well nigh certain that the paragraph was foisted in between the second and third century. That was a period when, as has been said, "faith was more vivid than good-faith." The will to believe its genuineness, however, persisted to our own day, and some have made a compromise between their sentiment and their critical faculty, by arguing that the passage, though partly corrupt, is founded on something Josephus wrote.[6]

[Footnote 1: Comp. Schlatter, op. cit. 403.]

[Footnote 2: H.E. i. 41; Comp. Freimann, Wie verhielt sich das Judenthum zu Jesus? (Monatsschrift fur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums, 1911, p. 296).]

[Footnote 3: Comm. in Matth. ch. xvii.]

[Footnote 4: Ant. XVIII. v. 5.]

[Footnote 5: Strom. I. xxi. 409.]

[Footnote 6: Among those who uphold this view is the Franco-Jewish savant Theodore Reinach, whose opinion is that the Christian scribe changed a testimonium de Christo into a testimonium pro Christo (R.E.J. xxxv. 6). Both Renan and Ewald hold that our passage is a corrupted fragment of a much fuller account of Jesus in the Antiquities. See Joel. op. cit. p. 52.]

It is alleged that many of the words are such as Josephus might have used, but, apart from the fact that this is contested by other authorities, it is unreasonable to suppose that the interpolator would go out of his way to stamp the insertion as a forgery by using extraordinary words. It is urged again that the passages about John and James in the Antiquities support the likelihood of Josephus' having mentioned Jesus. But these passages are themselves open to very grave suspicions. There is no reference to them in the epitome of the chapters furnished at the head of each book, which according to Niese dates from the age of the Antonines, or the end of the second century. Nor does the Slavonic version of Josephus contain the passage about James, and while Origen refers to that passage, he had a different version of it from that which appears in our manuscripts. It seems that he has incorporated the gloss of a Christian believer. And again, while our text imputes the blame of the stoning of James to the Sadducees, and gives credit to the Pharisees for endeavoring to prevent it, Hegesippus, the Christian writer of the second century, uses the alleged account of the incident by Josephus to gird at the Pharisees. The probability is then that different Christological insertions were made in the manuscripts of Josephus according to the leaning of the scribe, but that none of the supposed evidences are genuine, or based on a genuine narrative. The absence of any reference to Jesus and the apostles in Josephus would have seemed damaging to the truth of the Christian testament, and therefore the passages were supplied.

Nevertheless we may be grateful to the interpolators, because, on the strength of these passages, Josephus was especially treasured through the Dark and Middle Ages, and he alone survived of the Hellenistic apologists. When Christianity established its center at Rome, Josephus was soon translated into Latin, and in the Vulgate version (if we may so call it) he was best known for centuries. The seven books of the Wars were rendered into Latin by one Tyrannus Rufinus of Aquilea, who was a contemporary of Jerome (Hieronymus, 345-410 C.E.), and a very industrious translator of the works of the Greek Patristic writers. The translation of the Antiquities, though ascribed to the same author, was made later. Jerome apparently was invited to undertake the task, for in one of his letters he writes:[1] "The rumor that the works of Josephus and Papian and Polycarp have been translated by me is false. I have neither the leisure nor the strength to render his writings into another tongue with the same elegance" [as those already done]. It is uncertain who the translator was, but the work was carried out at the instigation of Cassiodorus (480-575), who lived in the time of Justinian, and was a versatile historian. He wrote himself a chronicle of events from Adam to his own day as well as a history of the Goths. In his book on the Institutions of Holy Literature he says:

"As to Josephus, who is almost a second Livy, and is widely known by his books on the Antiquities of the Jews, Jerome declared that he was unable to translate his works because of their great volume. But one of my friends has translated the twenty-two books [i.e. the Antiquities and the two books of the Apology], in spite of their difficulty and complexity, into the Latin tongue. He also wrote seven books of extreme brilliancy on the Conquest of the Jews, the translation of which some ascribe to Jerome, others to Ambrose, and others to Rufinus."

[Footnote 1: Epist. ad Lucrinum, 5.]

The autobiography of Josephus, alone of his writings, does not appear to have been done into the language of the Western Church. Perhaps its worthlessness was apparent even in the dark days. More ancient, however, and even more popular than the complete Latin version of Josephus, was an abridgment of his works which passed under the name of Hegesippus. The name is not found till the ninth century, but it is likely that the work was written in the time of Ambrosius, the famous bishop of Milan (C.E. 350). In this form the seven books of the Wars are compressed into five, and the words and phrases of the original are modified throughout. The writer in his preface explicitly declares that it is a kind of revised version, and he improves the original by Christological insertions, explaining, for example, the destruction of Jerusalem as a judgment upon the Jews for the murder of Christ. Josephus, he says, aims at the careful unraveling of events and at sobriety of speech, but he lacks faith (religio) and truth; "and so we have been at pains, relying not on intellectual force but on the promptings of faith, to probe for the inner meaning of Jewish history and to extract from it more of value to our posterity." Josephus is often mentioned by name as authority for the statements, but at the same time considerable additions are made from other Roman sources. Some have thought that there was a compiler named Hegesippus, others that the word is but a corruption of the Latinized form of the Jewish historian's name: Josippus, formed from [Greek: Io saepos], would become Egesippus, and finally Hegesippus.

A Greek epitome of Josephus also existed. We find it used by a Byzantine historian, John Zonaras, during the tenth and the eleventh century, in the composition of his chronicles. It omitted the speeches and historical evidences of the fuller work and pruned its excessive garrulousness. By the uncritical scholiasts and the prolix chroniclers of the Byzantine and Papal courts, Josephus was esteemed as a distinguished and godlike historian, and as a truthloving man ([Greek: philalaethaes anaer]). He was dubbed by Jerome "the Greek Livy," and to Tertullian and his followers he was an unfailing guide. Choice passages in his writings are frequently extracted, often with a little purposive modification, to emphasize some Christological design. Eustathius of Antioch in the sixth century, Syncellus in the eighth, and Cedrenus and Glycas some three or four hundred years later, are among those whose extant fragments prove a frequent use of Josephus. And the neo-Platonist philosopher Porphyry (ab. 300 C.E.), who was well acquainted with Jewish literature, reproduces in his treatise on Abstinence the various passages about the Essenes from the Wars and the Antiquities. The Emperor Constantine later ordered extracts from the Wars to be put together for his edification in a selection bearing the title About Virtue and Vice.

Owing to this popularity, we have abundant manuscripts of Josephus. The oldest of the Latin is as early as the sixth century; the Greek date from the tenth century and later. Niese, the most authoritative editor of Josephus in modern times, thinks that our manuscript families go back to one archetype of the second century in the epoch of the Antonines. The earliest printed copy like the earliest manuscript of his work contains the Latin version, being a part of the Antiquities, which was issued in 1470 at Augsburg. The whole corpus was printed in 1499, and, after a number of Latin editions, the first Greek edition was published at Basel by Arten, in 1544, together with the Fourth Book of the Maccabees, which was ascribed to the historian.

In the days of vast but undiscriminating scholarship that followed the Renaissance, Josephus still enjoyed a great repute, and Scaliger, prince of polymaths, regarded him as superior to any pagan historian. The great Dutch scholar Havercamp made a special study of the manuscripts, and produced, in 1726, a repertory of everything discovered about his author. A little later Whiston, professor of mathematics at Cambridge, published an English translation of all the works, which is still serviceable, but not critical, together with some dissertations, which are neither serviceable nor critical. Later translations into English and almost every other language were made, but the greatest work of modern times on Josephus is the edition of Niese. Lastly, it may be mentioned that we have a Slavonic version, which goes back to the eighth or the ninth century, and a Syriac version of the sixth book of the Wars, which is included, immediately after the Fourth Book of the Maccabees, in a manuscript of the Syriac version of the Bible dating from the sixth century, and is entitled the Fifth Book of the Maccabees. It has been suggested that the Syriac was based on the work which Josephus published in Aramaic before he wrote the Greek; but Professor Noeldeke has shown that the theory is not probable, since the translator clearly used the Greek text.[1] Somewhat late in the day a Hebrew translation of the books Against Apion, which were regarded as the most Jewish part of his work, was made in the Middle Ages, and printed, together with Abraham Zacuto's Yuhasin, at Constantinople, in 1506, by Samuel Shullam. The Hebrew translation is very free, and is marred by several large omissions. It was very probably made with the help of the Latin version.

[Footnote 1: Literarisches Centralblatt, 1880, no. 20, p. 881.]

While Josephus enjoyed great honor among Christian scholars, for centuries he passed out of the knowledge of his own people. The Talmud has no reference to him, for the surmise that he is the "philosopher" visited by the four sages who journeyed from Palestine to Rome[1] is no more than a vague possibility. Nor has the supposed identification with the Joseph Hakohen that is mentioned in the Midrash anything more solid to uphold it.[2] In the Middle Ages, however, when Spain, Italy, and North Africa witnessed a remarkable revival of Jewish literature, both secular and religious, and when scientific studies again interested the people, the historical literature of other peoples became known to their scholars, and several Jewish writers mention the chronicles of one Yosippon, or "little Joseph." The text of the chronicle itself is widely known from the eleventh century onwards. The first author to mention it is David ben Tammum (ab. 950), and an extract from the book is found about a century later. Four manuscripts of it have come down to us: two in the Vatican, one in Paris, and one in Turin, and it was among the earliest Hebrew books printed. Professing to be the work of Joseph ben Gorion, one of the Jewish commanders in the war with Rome and a prefect of Jerusalem, it is written in a Rabbinical Hebrew that is nearer the classical language than most medieval compositions. It was indeed argued on the ground of its pure classical idiom that it dated from the fourth century, but Zunz[3] showed that this was impossible. It bears all the traces of the pseudepigraphic tendency of a period that produced the first works of the Cabala, the Seder Olam Zutta of Rabbi Joshua, and the neo-Hebraic apocalypses. The attempt to write an archaic Hebrew is marred by the presence of Rabbinical and novel terms. Reference to events or things only known to later times is combined with the pretension of an ancient chronicle. The country and the date of the author are uncertain, but probabilities point to Italy, where in the ninth and tenth centuries Jewish culture flourished, and where both Arabic and Latin works were well known in the Ghettos. The transcription of foreign names, the frequent introduction of the names of places in Italy, the acquaintance with Roman history, and the fact that Italian Jews are among the first to recognize Yosippon favor this theory. It is fitting that the country where Josephus wrote his history should also have produced a Jewish imitation of his work. Yosippon indeed was soon translated into Arabic, and its narratives and legends passed into the current stock of Ghetto history. The book was swollen by later additions, which Zunz has proved to belong to the twelfth century. One Yerahmeel ben Shelomoh who flourished in that epoch is mentioned in an early manuscript as a compiler of Yosippon and other histories; and it is possible that he was himself responsible for parts of the work in its present form.

[Footnote 1: Derek Erez, ed. Goldberg, iii. 10.]

[Footnote 2: Moed Katon, 23a. See above, p. 177.]

[Footnote 3: Comp. Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vortraege, pp. 154ff.]

The chronicle of Yosippon is a summary of Jewish history, with considerable digressions—many of them later interpolations—about the history of the nations with whom the Hebrew people came into contact, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Like the Book of Chronicles, it begins with Adam and genealogies, explains the roll of the nations in Genesis, and then springs suddenly from the legendary origin of Babel and Rome to the relation of the Jews with Babylon. The history proper contains the record of the Jews from the first to the second captivity, but is broken by a mass of legendary material about Alexander the Great—reproducing much of what is found in pseudo-Callisthenes—and by a short account of the Carthaginian general Hannibal and several incidents of Roman history. These include a description of a coronation of the Emperor, which, it is suggested, applies to the medieval and not the classical period of the Empire.

The book was known throughout the later part of the Middle Ages and down to the eighteenth century as the Hebrew Josephus, and contrasted with the [Hebrew: Yosifon la-Romim], or "Latin Josephus." When the genuine works of our worthy became known to the Jews, Yosippon was regarded as the true representative of the Jewish point of view against the paganizing traitor. Its author had not a first-hand acquaintance with our Josephus. He knew him only through the Latin versions, which were mixed with much later material. Possibly he meant to pass off his work as the Hebrew original of the Jewish history, and confused Joseph ben Gorion with Joseph ben Mattathias; for in the introduction to one manuscript we read, "I am Joseph, called Josephus the Jew, of whom it is written that he wrote the book of the wars of the Lord, and this is the sixth part." This, however, may be the gloss of a later scribe, who found an anonymous book, and thought fit to supply the omission. In places the Hebrew translator reproduces, though with some blunders, the Latin Hegesippus, but he sought to give charm to his work by legendary additions, which more often show Arabic and other foreign influences than traces of the Jewish Haggadah. Interpolations have served to increase the legendary element, and take away from the historical value. But it is this element, reflecting the ideas of the age, that gives the composition a peculiar literary interest.

Though only to a small extent representing Jewish tradition, the book remained very popular among the Jews both of the West and the East, and was long regarded as authoritative. The first printed edition was issued at Mantua, in 1476, and was followed by the edition of Constantinople, in 1520, arranged in chapters and enlarged, and an edition of Basel, in 1541, containing a Latin preface and a Latin translation of the greater part. In 1546 a printed Yiddish edition appeared in Zurich, and in the Ghetto it retains its popularity to the present day. Other editions and translations have followed. Steinschneider has noted that as late as 1873 an abstract of the Arabic translation together with the Arabic version of the Book of the Maccabees was published at Beirut.[1] The spuriousness of the work has now been established, and of modern scholars Wellhausen[2] is almost alone in ascribing to it any independent historical worth. In the Spanish period of Jewish culture the real as well as the spurious Josephus was read by many of his race, and some hard things were said of him. Thus Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel, the statesman and apologist (1457-1508), regarded him as a common sycophant and wrote, "In many things he perverted the truth, even where we have the Scriptures before us, in order to court favor with the Romans, as a slave submits himself to the will of his master." Azariah de Rossi (ab. 1850), anticipating the ideas of a later age, alone balanced his merits against his demerits. Among the great Christian scholars of the Renaissance, however, he enjoyed great fame. Joseph Scaliger, the most eminent of the seventeenth century critics, could write of him, "Josephus was the most diligent and the most truthloving of all writers, and one can better believe him, not only as to the affairs of the Jews, but also as to the Gentiles, than all the Greek and Latin writers, because his fidelity and his learning are everywhere conspicuous."[3] It is illustrative of his popularity that Rembrandt named one of his great Jewish pictures after him. Whiston's English translation of his works became a household book, found side by side with the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress.[4]

[Footnote 1: J.Q.R. xvi. 393.]

[Footnote 2: Der arabische Josippus; see J.E., s.v. Joseph ben Gorion.]

[Footnote 3: De Emend. Temp. Proleg. 17.]

[Footnote 4: Readers of Rudyard Kipling may recall that in Captains Courageous one of the seamen on board the "We're Here" Schooner reads aloud on Sunday from a book called Josephus: "It was an old leather-bound volume very solid and very like a Bible, but enlivened with accounts of battles and sieges."]

In modern times his reputation as a trustworthy authority has depreciated considerably, and it is still depreciating. More accurate study and wider knowledge have exposed his grave defects as an historian, and the critical standpoint has dissipated the halo with which his supposed Christian sympathies had invested him, and laid bare his weakness and his essential unreliability. Yet with all his glaring faults and unlovable qualities he has certain solid merits. The greatest certainly is that his works so appealed to later generations as to have been preserved, and thereby posterity has been enabled to get some knowledge, however inadequate, of the history of the Jewish polity during its last two hundred years—between the time of the Maccabees and the fall of the nation—which would otherwise have been buried in almost unrelieved darkness. And at the same time he has preserved a record of some interesting pieces of Egyptian, Syrian, and Roman history. Just because he was so little original, he has a special usefulness; for he reproduces the statements of more capable writers than himself, who have disappeared, and he has embodied an aspect of the Hellenistic-Jewish literature which had otherwise been lost. We can estimate his value to us as an historian from our ignorance of what was happening in Judea during the fifty years after his account comes to an end.

It is true that he brings before us, for the most part, but the external facts and the court scandals in place of the vital movements and the underlying principles; and in dealing with contemporary events he has a perverted view, borrowed largely from Roman foes and feebly corrected. But it is something to have preserved even these facts, and in the account of the Wars he often draws a vivid picture. The siege of Jerusalem has passed into the roll of the world's heroic events, and it owes its place there largely to the narrative of Josephus. Moreover, in spite of his pusillanimity and his subservience to his Roman patrons, Josephus did possess a distinct pride of race and a love of his people. It led him at times to glorify them in a gross way, but notably in the books Against Apion it could inspire a certain eloquence; and many hostile outsiders must have learnt from his pages to appreciate some of the great qualities of the Jewish people.

To appraise him fairly is difficult. He has few of the qualities, either personal or literary, that attract sympathy and many of the defects that repel. He is at once vain and obsequious, servile and spiteful, professing candor and practising adulation, prolix and prosaic. As a general he proved himself a traitor; as apologist of the Jews, a function which he asserted for himself, he marred by a lack of independence the service which he sought to render his people. In his account of their past he was often false to their fundamental ideas of God and history. Whether he was really under the influence of the debased Greco-Roman culture of the day, which consigned mankind to the dominion of fatality, or whether he deliberately masked his own standpoint to please his audience, he presented the history of the Hebrew nationality in the light of ideas of fate strange to it. He has perpetuated a false picture of the Zealots, whose avowed enemy he was, and he reveals an inadequate understanding of the deeper ideas and deeper principles of the Pharisees, whose champion he professed to be. Generally, in dealing with the struggle against Rome, his dominating desire to justify his own submission and please the Romans led him to distort the facts, and rendered him blind to the real heroism of his countrymen. The client in him prevails over the historian: we can never be sure whether he is expressing his own opinion or only what he conceives will be pleasing to his patrons and masters. This dependence affects his presentation of Judaism as well as of the Jewish people. He dissembled his theological opinions in his larger historical works, and it is only in his last apologetic composition that he asserts confidently a Jewish point of view.

Yet it is but fair to Josephus to consider the times and circumstances in which he wrote. It was an age when the love of truth was almost dead, extinguished partly by the crushing tyranny of omnipotent Emperors, partly by the intellectual and moral degeneration of pagan society. The Flavian house soon showed the same characteristics of a vainglorious despotism as the line of Caesars which it had supplanted. Under Domitian "the only course possible for a writer without the risk of outlawry or the sacrifice of personal honor was that followed by Juvenal and Tacitus during his reign, viz., silence." It was an age when, in the words of Mazzini, "a hollow sound as of dissolution was heard in the world. Man seemed in a hideous case: placed between two infinities, he knew neither. He knew not past nor future. All belief was dead; dead the belief in the gods, dead the belief in the Republic." The material power of Rome, while it dazzled by its splendor, seemed invincible, and it crushed, in all save the strongest, independence of thought and independence of national life. Unfortunately it fell to Josephus to write amid these surroundings his account of the Jewish wars and the history of the Jews, and he may have been driven to distortion to keep his perilous position at court. The moral environment, too, was such as to contaminate those who had not a deep faith and a strong Hebrew consciousness. At Alexandria it was possible to achieve a harmony between Judaism and the spiritual teaching of Greek philosophy; but the basic conceptions of Roman Imperialism were not to be brought into accord with Jewish ideas.

Josephus had no conception of the moral weakness, he felt only the invincible power, of the conqueror. He was a Jew, isolated in Rome, estranged from his own people, and not at home in his environment, a favored captive in a splendid court, a member of a subject people living in the halls of the mighty. Did ever situation more strongly conduce to moral servility and mental dependence! It was well nigh impossible for him, even had he possessed the ability, to write an honest and independent history of the Jews. It required some courage and steadfastness to write of the Jews at all. In such circumstances he might well have become an apostate, as his contemporary Tiberius Alexander had done, and it is a tribute to his Jewish feeling that he remained in profession and in heart true to his people, that he was not among those who with the fall of the second Temple exclaimed, "Our hope is perished: we are cut off." He had indeed chosen the easier and less noble way on the destruction of the national life of his people; he preferred the palace of the Palatine with its pomp to the Vineyard at Jabneh with its wise men. While Johanan ben Zakkai was saving Judaism, Josephus was apologizing for it. Yet he too has done some service: he preserved some knowledge of his people and their religion for the Gentiles, and became one of the permanent authorities for that heretical body of Jewish proselytes who in his own day were beginning to mark themselves off as a separate sect, and who carried on to some extent the work of Hellenistic Judaism. Perhaps the true judgment about him is that he was neither noble nor villainous, neither champion nor coward, but one of those mediocre men of talent but of weak character and conflicting impulses struggling against adversity who succumb to the difficulties of the time in which their life is passed, and sacrifice their individuality to comfort. But he wrote something that has lived; and for what he wrote, if not for what he was, he has a niche in the literary treasure house of the Jewish people as well as in the annals of general history. As a man, if he cannot inspire, he may at least stand as a warning against that facile subservience to external powers and that fatal assimilation of foreign thought which at once destroy the individuality of the Jew and deprive him of his full humanity.


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