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Josephus' Portrait of Isaiah

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Chapter Summary

There are a number of reasons for concluding that Josephus realized the importance of the biblical prophets for his history and that he was well acquainted with them. In particular, in his apologetic work, Against Apion, where he had to be very careful about his accuracy because he was attacking Greek historians for their unreliability, he says that the reason why there are no discrepancies in what is written in the Bible is that only prophets had the privilege of recording the history of Jewish people, and that the accuracy and consistency of their records are guaranteed by the fact that they were divinely inspired. Though Josephus showed a great respect for and identification with prophets, and though Isaiah was so highly regarded by rabbinic tradition, with which he seems to have been well acquainted, he appears to downgrade the importance of Isaiah, especially as compared with Jeremiah and Jonah.

Keywords: Against Apion; biblical prophets; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Jewish people; Jonah; Josephus; rabbinic tradition

10.1163/9789004275959_009
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