Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

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Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

Postby kwallace1611 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:42 pm

Hi all.  I just started reading Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus and was almost immediately struck with a question.  He basically is going through the Old Testament and presenting the events as history for the Romans but he adds a lot of details not found in the Bible.  What keeps going through my mind is, where did he get this additional information?  Back when he was writing this it was not common practice as it is today to document your sources.  So it causes me to wonder how much of what he says is reliable.  Could it have just been passed through tradition?  Were there historical works that he had read that were destroyed in the library at Alexandria?  Or could there have been other sources he used that otherwise have not survived to this day?  Did he just make the details up?

Is there anyone else who has read any of his works and can speak to this?
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Re: Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

Postby George » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:52 pm

Aloha kwallace 1611,

It's been a long time since I have read anything by Josephus (about the middle of the 1970's to the early 1980's) and, as I recall,  I wasn't very impressed with his fidelity to Scripture (i.e. the Old Testament). A quick review of Josephus' (aka Titus Flavius Josephus - born Joseph ben Matiyahu) life reveals that he was a first century Jewish "scholar, historian, and hagiographer" who turned his back on his own people and, like Esau before him, sold his birthright to the Romans for a mess of pottage (or in Josephus' case - 'the good life').

As to where Josephus got the information for his books: the famous Library in Alexandria Egypt was still in existence (at least some of it) during his life-time, and much of the so-called "Old Testament Apocrypha" was probably also available for his research. Given the fact that he sold out to the Romans it should be no surprise that he would seek out extra-scriptural sources for his history.
The contents of the “Apocrypha” (As found within the so-called "Septuagint"):
1. 1 Esdras
2. Tobit
3. Judith
4. The Rest of Esther
5. The Wisdom of Solomon
6. Ecclesiasticus
7. Baruch, with the Epistle of Jeremiah
8. The Song of the Three Holy Children
9. The History of Susanna
10. Bel and the Dragon
11. The Prayer of Manasses *
12. 1 Maccabees
13. 2 Maccabees

There are three additional “Apocryphal” books that were not in the so-called “Septuagint”:
14 2. 2 Esdras
15. 3 Maccabees
16. 4 Maccabees

As to how reliable Josephus' written works are: I wouldn't trust (or rely on) anything he wrote - unless it can be substantiated with Scripture. Since the Holy Bible is be a believer's FINAL AUTHORITY in all matters of faith and practice, this kind of study leads to far too much speculation, conjecture, and supposition, which results in far too little little genuine spiritual edification.

1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

1 Corinthians 10:23 ¶ All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Yours for the Lord Jesus Christ and for His Holy word,

George Anderson

Psalms 33:4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
George Anderson

. . . . . yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written . . . . . Romans 3:4
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Re: Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

Postby armadillo » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:27 am

Thank you Br. George for your spot on answer, as per usual.  Josephus was by no means a Christian or even a good orthodox Jew.  He was very much a Hellenistic Jewish historian and was heavily influenced by Alexandria.  I have a translation of his complete works and have started to read it several times, just for grins.  But I never can get very far before I completely loose interest.  From what I understand, his history is not very accurate and contains contradictions.  Josephus is much like my copies of "The Works of Philo" and "Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History", I have them, but they simply take up room on my shelf while collecting dust.  One day I may own a bird and will need material to line the cage.

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Re: Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

Postby kwallace1611 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:28 pm

Thanks to both of you for your reply.  I apologize for taking so long to respond to your post.  I thought I would get an email telling me that a reply had been posted and when I did not it did not remind me to come back to the site to check.
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