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Josephus’ Biblical Paraphrase As A Commentary On Contemporary Issues

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers certain themes in the first half of the Antiquities, where Josephus, in his additions to, subtractions from, and modifications of the biblical narrative, is, in effect, commenting upon contemporary issues, particularly the recent war of the Jews with the Romans. Josephus shares with Thucydides and Plato a disdain for demagogues. This contempt grew out of experiences that each saw as destroying his state in his own lifetime. The chapter remarks that Josephus not only, like his much admired model Thucydides, looked upon history as a handbook for statesmen but also viewed it, as had the prophets in the Bible, as a guide to the future. And to a considerable degree, he viewed the Bible through the lens of the present, and, in particular, the disastrous war that the Jews had fought against the Romans and in which he himself was directly, and many would say ignominiously, involved.

Keywords: Bible; demagogues; Jews; Josephus; Romans; Thucydides



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