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7 Philosophia epeisaktos: Some Notes on Josephus, Ant. 18.9

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Chapter Summary

When Josephus writes about what Morton Smith nicely called 'the troublemakers', i.e., the Jewish theocratic guerilla fighters in Palestine before 70 ce, he twice calls them 'the fourth philosophy'. Realizing that this numeral is not really informative, on the first occasion he adds the qualification that they form a philosophia epeisaktos, in Louis Feldman's translation 'an intrusive school of philosophy'. What exactly does he mean when he calls them, using a unique terminology, a philosophia epeisaktos? First, why would Josephus call a bunch of revolutionaries a philosophia? The simple answer would seem to be that he had presented the other main Jewish schools of thought as philosophical movements as well so as to provide them with a Hellenistic dress, and here he simply does the same for a fourth group. This chapter tries to clarify Josephus' curious terminology with regard to this group of Jewish theocratic insurrectionists.

Keywords: fourth philosophy; Hellenistic dress; Jewish theocratic guerilla fighters; Josephus; philosophia epeisaktos; philosophical movements



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