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The Figure of Apion in Josephus' Contra Apionem

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image of Journal for the Study of Judaism

A comparison of Josephus' portrait of Apion with other ancient testimonia shows that the Jewish historian, in his effort to discredit the grammarian, focused on the same failing of character that other ancient authors had found. Josephus also aimed a deceptive attack at Apion's ethnicity wherein he blurs the line between the Alexandrian's Greek cultural identity and his Egyptian origin. Josephus took pains to construct an ideal opponent, one with whom the reader of Josephus' treatise—be he Jew, Greek, or Roman—would not sympathize. An analysis of Apion's "case" against the Jews shows that Josephus himself culled various Jewish items from Apion's Aegyptiaca and, after distorting the original intention of the excerpts, cobbled them together to form an easily refuted indictment of Jewish history and practices. An appendix examines the evidence for a supposed attributed to Apion.


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