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Josephus and the History of the Greco-Roman Period: Essays in Memory of Morton Smith.

Edited by FAUSTO PARENTE and JOSEPH SIEVERS. Studia Post-Biblica, vol. 41. Leiden: E. J. BRILL, 1994. Pp. x + 392. HF1 160, $91.50.

The eighteen essays in this collection are the results of an international conference on Josephus organized by Professors Parente and Sievers at the suggestion of the late Professor Morton Smith, of Columbia University. Smith, who died in 1991, had planned to participate in the conference and to subsidize it with his own resources. A bequest from Smith, whose life and scholarly achievement are reviewed in an introductory essay by Shaye Cohen, enabled the conference to proceed.

The essays are arranged into six sections. The first, on "Philological Questions," contains two pieces. Lucio Troiana, of the University of Pavia, in "The [Greek Text Omitted] of Israel in the Graeco-Roman Age," treats not the social issue of Jewish social organization, but the ideal of a political constitution or set of ancestral laws. Josephus offers his version of the notion in Ant. 4 [section]198-302; Troiana usefully compares similar presentations in Philo and other Hellenistic Jewish literature. Shaye Cohen, of Brown University, in "[Greek Text Omitted] and Related Expressions in Josephus," argues persuasively that Josephus consistently uses the phrase to mean "Jewish by birth."

The second section, on "The Sources:" contains three essays. Louis Feldman, of Yeshiva University, in "Josephus' Portrayal of the Hasmoneans Compared with 1 Maccabees," offers a detailed study of the treatment of the Mattathias and his sons. Feldman finds that Josephus, proud of his Hasmonean heritage, embellished the heroic stature of Judah and his brothers while avoiding too close a connection between the Maccabean rebellion and the aspirations of revolutionaries of his own day. Fausto Parente, of the University of Rome, in "Onias III's Death and the Founding of The Temple of Leontopolis," deals with the conflicting reports about the founding of the Egyptian temple. 2 Macc 4:31-33 tells of the death of Onias III in Antioch, without any mention of activity in Egypt. Josephus (JW 1 [section]31-33) knows of a tradition that Onias founded the temple but reports later (Ant. 12 [section]237-39) of his death in Jerusalem prior to the Maccabean revolt. Josephus also reports (Ant. 12 [section]387) that it was Onias IV, son of Onias III, who built Leontopolis. Parente carefully sifts through all the ancient testimonies and concludes that Onias III did found the temple in Leontopolis when the Jerusalem Temple was defiled and that the reports about his early demise are probably erroneous. Mireille Hadas-Lebel, of the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris, in "Flavius Josephus, Historian of Rome," notes the importance of Ant. 18-20 for Roman history and suggests some of the oral sources on which Josephus may have relied.

The third section, "Literary and Other Models," contains four articles. Johann Maier, of the University of Cologne, in "Amalek in the Writings of Josephus," offers a midrashic study of Josephus, who consistently portrays the paradigmatic enemy of Israel as a people beyond the bounds of the Roman empire as he knew them. Josephus thus avoids the suggestion that there was any traditional animosity between Israel and elements of the civilized Roman world. Clemens Thoma, of the Institute for Judaeo-Christian Studies of Lucerne, in "John Hyrcanus I as Seen by Josephus and Other Early Jewish Sources," compares the reports about Hyrcanus in JW 1 [section]68-69 and Ant. 13 [section]299-300 with other sources for his reign. Thoma argues for the reliability of Josephus' account, including its praise of the threefold office of priest, prophet, and prince accorded to Hyrcanus. Tessa Rajak, of the University of Reading, in "Cib che Flavio Guiseppe vide: Josephus and the Essenes," is concerned with the accounts of the Essenes in JW 2 [section]119-61 and Ant. 11 [section]1122 and 18 [section]19-21. Rajak attempts to delineate the constraints of genre as well as the personal factors that led to the divergent accounts. She argues against a source for the report in the War and for the influence of Philo in the later accounts. Steve Mason, of York University, Toronto, in "Josephus, Daniel, and the Flavian House," explores the importance of Daniel in the Antiquities and as a model for Josephus' own self-understanding.

The fourth part of the collection, "History and Topography" contains four pieces. Joseph Sievers, of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, in "Jerusalem, the Akra, and Josephus," treats the character of the Seleucid citadel. Recognizing that the location of the akra remains in dispute, Sievers explores the composition of its population and its economic and political functions within Jerusalem during the middle decades of the second century. Daniel R. Schwartz, of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in "Josephus on Hyrcanus II," explores the portrait of the last of the Hasmoneans in Josephus. Schwartz distinguishes between the different attitudes toward Hyrcanus embedded in the narrative of Josephus. The major source for Josephus, Nicolaus of Damascus, justified Herodian usurpation of the throne by portraying Hyrcanus as morally upright, but ineffectual. Josephus, motivated by anti-Herodian sentiments, agreed with the assessment of Hyrcanus, but indicated that Aristoboulus, not Hyrcanus, should have succeeded Salome. Lee I. Levine, of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in "Josephus' Description of the Jerusalem Temple: War, Antiquities, and Other Sources," attempts to resolve discrepancies in Josephus' description of the Temple. Levine's strategy is generally to argue that different descriptions reflect different stages of the Temple's history. Per Bilde, of the University of Aarhus, in "The Geographical Excursuses in Josephus," catalogues the geographical passages in Josephus and argues that they testify to the historian's own interest in such matters. It is thus unnecessary to posit a special source, such as Vespasian's commentarii, for these sections.

The fifth section of the collection, "Views of the War," consists of three essays treating aspects of the historian's autobiographical memoir. Giorgio Jossa, of the University of Naples, in "Josephus' Action in Galilee during the Jewish War," defends his reconstruction of events in Galilee at the start of the war. Distinguishing between the moderate "Galileans" and the revolutionary "brigands," he sees Josephus as consistently working with and for the Galileans, aiming finally at an accommodation with the Romans. The portrait of Josephus is thus largely that of the Life. Uriel Rappaport, of the University of Haifa, in "Where Was Josephus Lying - In His Life or in the War?" also tends to give more credence to the Life than to the War. Rappaport argues that Josephus was forced by the criticism of Justus of Tiberias to describe more accurately his role in Galilee when he came to write the Life. Seth Schwartz, of King's College, Cambridge, in "Josephus in Galilee: Rural Patronage and Social Breakdown," explores the implications of the narratives of Josephus for the social system operative in Galilee before the war. This essay, in critical dialogue with the views of Martin Goodman, argues that patronage was a significant factor in the social landscape of Galilee during the period.

The final section of the collection, "Aspects of Josephus' Biography," consists of two essays. Gohei Hata, of Tama Bijyutu University and Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, in "Imagining Some Dark Periods in Josephus' Life," speculates on the activities of Josephus in the years before the war, years about which Josephus reveals relatively little. The boldest suggestion is that Josephus, who, during his embassy to Rome, "received gifts from Nero" (Life [section]16), accepted from the emperor the assignment to work for Roman interests in Palestine. Martin Goodman, of Oxford University, in "Josephus as a Roman Citizen," argues that, whatever might have been the faults of Josephus, he should be recognized as a man of "extraordinary bravery" for defending Jews and Jewish traditions through his literary activity in a hostile Roman environment.

These learned and stimulating essays provide a useful cross-section of work being done on Josephus today by leading scholars. They form a fitting tribute to the memory of Morton Smith.

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Author:Attridge, Harold W.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1998
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