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C O U R S E 
Letters of the Apostle Paul
Laura Nasrallah, Harvard University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Understanding the Historical Josephus
Notes taken on February 24, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
the historical Josephus
Josephus has a complicated Jewish identity
he's a debated and controversial character
he started out as a leader in the movement rebelling against Rome
then went over to the Roman side and wrote history of the Jewish War at the pay of the Flavian emperors
he called himself a prophet but was salaried by the Romans
some see him as a traitor and a collaborator
his full name is Flavius Josephus, Flavius taken from the Roman imperial household
Josephus on himself
born of distinguished priestly family in Jerusalem
born around 37 AD, a few years after the execution of Jesus as a rebel
claims he was descended from the Hasmoneans, great military leaders
claims he was a child prodigy
returned in 55 to follow the Pharisees, somewhat like the Greek stoic philosophy
63 AD: chosen to serve as member of Jewish embassy to Rome
task: secure release of imprisoned priests
allowed him to move in the highest Roman circles in Nero's court
"The Jewish War"
account of Roman suppression from 66 to 73
"The Antiquities"
20 volumes
story of Jews from creation to last procurators before the war with Rome
"A Life"
his own story, a defense against attacks from some named Justus of Tiberias
his story is complicated
conflicting stories of war with Jews in Jewish War and his life
talks about himself both as a defender of a Jewish city yet at the time he was captured by the Romans
claims that he confronts Vespasian in 67 CE, prophesied his elevation to the imperial role and he was spared
Vespasian frees him
he also presents himself in a different way
reluctant of the Jewish revolt
hard to find the historical Josephus
was he a war hero or a moderate aristocrat
a better way to look at him is as a hybridity
*** he takes over, he adopts the rhetoric of Rome in order to make his nation comprehensible to Rome
*** he molds Judaism into a form that would be palatable to a Greco-Roman audience