Jose'phus, Fla'vius（Φλάβιος Ἰώσηπος), the Jewish historian, son of Matthias, is celebrated not only as a writer, but also as a warrior and a statesman. He is himself our main authority for the events of his life, a circumstance obviously not without its drawbacks, especially as he is by no means averse to self-laudation. He was born at Jerusalem in A. D. 37, the first year of Caligula's reign, and the fourth after our Lord's ascension. His advantages of birth were very considerable, for on his mother's side he was descended from the Asmonaean princes, while from his father lie inherited the priestly office, and belonged to the first of the 24 courses. (Comp. 1 Chron. 21.) For these facts he appeals (Vit. 1 ) to public records, and intimates that there were detractors who endeavoured to disparage his claims of high descent. (Comp. Phot. Bibl. pp. 167, 168.) He enjoyed, as we may well suppose, an excellent education, and exhibited great proofs of diligence and talent in his boyhood, insomuch that, even in his fourteenth year, he was resorted to by chief priests and other eminent men who wished for information on recondite questions of the Jewish law. Nor was his attention confined to such studies; for St. Jerome (the most learned perhaps of the fathers), referring especially to his treatise against Apion, expresses astonishment at the extent of his acquaintance with Greek literature. (Hieron. ad Magn. Oral. Epist. 83.) At the age of 16 he set himself to examine the merits and pretensions of the chief Jewish sects, with the view of making a selection from among them; and if in this there was much self-confidence, there was also, at this time of his life at least. no little earnestness in his struggle to grasp the truth, for we find him spending three years in the desert, under the teaching of one Banus, and following his example of rigorous asceticism. At the end of this period he returned to Jerusalem, and adhered to the sect of the Pharisees, whom he speaks of as closely resembling the Stoics. (Ant. 13.5.9, 18.2, Bell. Jud. 2.8, Vit. 2.) When he was 26 years old he went to Rome to plead the cause of some Jewish priests whom Felix, the procurator of Judaea, had sent thither as prisoners on some trivial charge. After a narrow escape from death by shipwreck, he was picked up by a vessel of Cyrene, and safely landed at Pateoli; and being introduced to Poppaea by an actor named Aliturus, he not only effected the release of his friends, but received great presents from the empress. ( Vit. 3.) By some it has been thought that the shipwreck alluded to was the same of which we have an account in Acts xxvii., that Josephus and St. Paul were therefore fellowpassengers during part of the voyage, and travelled from Puteoli to Rome in company, and that the apostle was himself one of the persons on whose behalf Josephus undertook the journey. (Ottius, Spicileg. ex Josepho, pp. 336-338; Bp. Gray's Connection of Sacred and Clussical Literature, vol. i. p. 357, &c.) Such a notion, however, rests on no grounds but pure fancy, and the points of difference between the two events are too numerous to admit of mention, and too obvious to require it. The hypothesis, moreover, clearly involves the question of the religion of Josephus, which will be considered below. On his return to Jerusalem he found the mass of his countrymen eagerly bent on a revolt from Rome, from which he used his best endeavours to dissuade them; but failing in this, he professed, with the other leading men, to enter into the popular designs. After the retreat of CESTIUS GALLUS from Jerusalem, Josephus was chosen one of the generals of the Jews, and was sent to manage affairs in Galilee, having instructions from the Sanhedrim to persuade the seditious in that province to lay down their arms, and to entrust them to the keeping of the Jewish rulers. (Vit. 4-7, Bell. Jud. 2.20.4.) It would carry us beyond our limits to enter into the details of his government in Galilee, which he appears, however, to have conducted throughout with consummate prudence and ability. From the Romans until the arrival of Vespasian, he did not experience much annoyance and such efforts as they made against him he easily repelled : meanwhile, lie took care to discipline the Galilaeans, and to fortify their principal towns. ( Vit. 4,&c., 24, 43, Bell. Jud. 2.20, 3.4, 6.) His chief troubles and dangers, from which, on more than one occasion, he narrowly escaped with life, arose from the envy and machinations of his enemies among his own countrymen, and in particular of John of Gischala, who was supported by a strong and unscrupulous party in the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem. But Josephus had won by his administration the warm affections of the Galilaeans; and this, combined with his own presence of mind and ability in counter-plotting, enabled him to baffle effectually the attempts of his opponents. (Vit. 13-66, Bell. Jud. 2.20, 21.) The appearance of Vespasian and his army in Galilee spread terror far and wide, so that all but a few deserted the camp of Josephus at Garis; and he, having no hope of the success of the war, with drew to Tiberias, to be as far as he could from the reach of danger. (Bell. Jud. 3.6, Vit. 74.) Thence he sent letters to the Sanhedrim, giving an ac count of the state of things, and impressing on them the necessity of either capitulating or supplying him with forces sufficient to make head against the Romans. He had no hope himself that anything could be done against the power of Rome, but something like a sense of honour seems to have restrained him from abandoning, without a struggle, the national cause; and accordingly, when Vespa sian advanced on lotapata (the most strongly forti fied of the Galilaean cities), Josephus threw him self into it, inspired the inhabitants with courage, animated and directed their counsels, and defended the place for 47 days with no less ability than valour. Iotapata, however, was at length taken, its fall being precipitated by the treachery of a deserter; and Josephus, having escaped the general massacre,concealed himself, with 40 others, in a cave. His place of refuge being betrayed to the Romans by a woman, Vespasian sent several messengers, and among the rest Nicanor, a friend of Josephus, to induce him to surrender on a promise of safety. His fanatical companions strove to persuade him that suicide was the only honourable course; and continuing deaf to his arguments, were preparing to slay him, when he proposed that they should rather put one another to death than fall each by his own hand. The lots were cast successively until Josephus and one other were left the sole survivors; fortunately, or providentially, as he himself suggests, although a third explanation may possibly occur to his readers. Having then persuaded his remaining companion to abstain from the sin of throwing away his life, he quitted his place of refuge, and was brought before Vespasian. Many of the Romans called aloud for his death, but he was spared through the intercession of Titus, and Vespasian desired him to be strictly guarded, as he intended to send him to Nero. Josephus then, having requested to speak with the Roman general in the presence of a few only of his friends, solemnly announced to his captor that he was not to regard him in the light of a mere prisoner, but as God's messenger to him, to predict that the empire should one day be his and his son's; and he professed to derive his prophecy from the sacred books of the Jews. According to Josephus's own account, the suspicion of artifice, which Vespasian not unnaturally felt at first, was removed on his finding, from the prisoners, that Josephus had predicted the exact duration of the siege of Iotapata and his own capture; whereupon he loaded the prophet of his greatness with valuable presents, though he did not release him immediately from his bonds. Clearly the prophecy, like that of the weird sisters to Macbeth, was one which had a tendency to fulfil itself. (Vit. 74, 75, Bell. Jud. 3.7, 8, 6.5.4; comp. Suet. Vesp. 4, 5; Tac. Hist. 5.13; Zonar. Ann. 6.18, 11.16; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3.8; Suid. s.v. Ἰωσηπος; comp. Haggai, 2.7; Suet. Tit. 1.) When Vespasian was declared emperor, at Caesareia, according to Josephus (Bell. Jud. 4.10), but according to Tacitus and Suetonius, at Alexandria (Tac. Hist. 2.79, 80; Suet. Vesp. 7), he released Josephus from his confinement of nearly three years (A. D. 70), his chain being cut from him, at the suggestion of Titus, as a sign that he had been unjustly bound (Bell. Jud. 4.10.7); and his reputation as a prophet was, of course, greatly raised. He was present with Titus at the siege of Jerusalem, and was suspected as a traitor both by Jews and Romans. From the anger of the latter he was saved by Titus, through whose favour also he was able to preserve the lives of his brother and of many others after the capture of the city. Having been presented with a grant of land in Judaea, he accompanied Titus to Rome, and received the freedom of the city from Vespasian, who assigned him, as a residence, a house formerly occupied by himself, and treated him honorably to the end of his reign. The same favour was extended to him by Titus and Domitian as well, the latter of whom made his lands in Judaea free from tribute. He mentions also that he received much kindness from Domitia, the wife of Domitian. (Vit. 75, 76; Phot. Bibl. p. 170.) The name of Flavius he assumed as a dependent of the Flavian family. His time at Rome appears to have been employed mainly in literary pursuits, and in the composition of his works. The date of his death cannot be fixed with accuracy; but we know that he survived Agrippa II. (Vit. 65), who died in A. D. 97. Josephus was thrice married. His first wife, whom he took at Vespasian's desire, was a captire; his marriage with her, therefore, since he was a priest, was contrary to the Jewish law, according to his own statement (Ant. 3.12.2); and his language (Vit. 75) may imply that, when he was released from his bonds, and had accompanied Vespasian to Alexandria, he divorced her. At Alexandria he took a second wife, whom he also divorced, from dislike to her character, after she had borne him three sons, one of whom, Hyrcanus, was still alive when he wrote his life. His third wife was a Jewess of Cyprus, of noble family, by whom he had two sons, viz. Justus and Simonides, surnamed Agrippa. (Vit. 76.) With respect to the character of Josephus, we have already noticed his tendency to glorify his own deeds and qualities, so that he is himself by no means free from the vanity which he charges upon Apion. (Vit. passim, Bell. Jud. 3.7. §§ 3, 16, 8.8, c. Apion. 2.12.) Nay, the weakness in question colours even some of those convictions of his, which might otherwise wear a purely religious aspect--such as his recognition of a particular Providence, and his belief in the conveyance of divine intimations by dreams. (Bell. Jud. 3.8. §§ 3, 7, Vit. 15, 42.) Again, to say nothing of the court he paid to the notorious Agrippa II., his profane flattery of the Flavian family, " so gross (to use the words of Fuller) that it seems not limned with a pencil, but daubed with a trowel" (see Dr. C. Wordsworth's Discourses on Public Education, Disc. xx.), is another obvious and repulsive feature in Josephus. Ilis early visit to Rome, and introduction to the sweets of court favour, must have brought more home to him the lesson he might have learnt at all events from the example of Herod the Great and others--that adherence to the Roman cause was the path to worldly distinction. And the awe, with which the greatness and power of Rome inspired him, lay always like a spell upon his mind, and stifled his patriotism. He felt pride indeed in the antiquity of his nation and in its ancient glories, as is clear from what are commonly called his books against Apion: his operations at Iotapata were vigorous, and he braved danger fearlessly, though even this must be qualified by his own confession, that when he saw no chance of finally repulsing the enemy, he formed a design of escaping, with some of the chief men, from the city (Bell. Jud. 3.7. §§ 15, &c.): nor, lastly, do we find in him any want of sympathy with his country's misfortunes; in describing the miserable fate of Jerusalem, he is free from that tone of revolting coldness (to give it the mildest name) which shocks us so much in Xenophon's account of the downfal of Athens. (Hell. 2.2. §§ 3, &c.) But the fault of Josephus was, that (as patriots never do) he despaired of his country. From the very beginning he appears to have looked on the national cause as hopeless, and to have cherished the intention of making peace with Rome whenever he could. Thus he told some of the chief men of Tiberias that he was well aware of the invincibility of the Romans, though he thought it safer to dissemble his conviction; and he advised them to do the same, and to wait for a convenient season--περιμένουσι καιρόν (Vit. 35; comp. Bell. Jud. 3.5); and we find him again. in his attack on Justus, the historian (Vit. 65), earnestly defending himself from the charge of having in any way caused the war with Rome. Had this feeling originated in a religious conviction that the Jewish nation had forfeited God's favour, the case, of course, would have been different; but such a spirit of living practical faith we do not discover in Josephus. Holding in the main the abstract doctrines of a Pharisee, but with the principles and temper of an Herodian, he strove to accommodate his religion to heathen tastes and prejudices; and this, by actual omissions (Ottius, Praetermissa a Josepho, appended to his Spicilegium), no less than by a rationalistic system of modification. Thus he speaks of Moses and his law in a tone which might be adopted by any disbeliever in his divine legation. (Prooem. ad Ant. § 4, c. Apion. 2.15.) He says that Abraham went into Egypt (Gen. xii.), intending to adopt the Egyptian views of religion, should he find them better than his own. (Ant. 1.8.1.) He speaks doubtfully of the preservation of Jonah by the whale. (Ant. 9.10.2.) He intimates a doubt of there having been any miracle in the passage of the Red Sea (εἴτε κατὰ βυύλησιν Θευῦ, εἴτε κατ᾽ αὐτόματον), and compares it with the passage of Alexander the Great along the shore of the sea of Pamphylia. (Ant. 2.16. § 5; comp. Arr. Anab. 1.26; Strab.xiv. p. 666.) He interprets Exod. 22.28, as if it conveyed a command to respect the idols of the heathen. (Ant. 4.8.10, c. Apion. 2.33.) Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the image he details as far as the triumph of the fourth kingdom; but there he stops, evidently afraid of offending the Romans. (Ant. 10.10.4.) These instances may suffice: for a fuller statement see Brinch, Exam. Hist. Fl. Joseph., appended to Havercamp's edition, vol. ii. p. 300, &c. After all this, it will not seem uncharitable if we ascribe to a latitudinarian indifference, as much at least as to an enlightened and humane moderation, the opposition of Josephus to persecution in the name of religion, and his maintenance of the principle that men should be left, without compulsion, to serve God according to their conscience. (Vit. 23, 31.) The way in which Josephus seems to have been actually affected towards Christianity is just what we might expect antecedently from a person of such a character. We have no room to enter fully into the question of the genuineness of the famous passage (Ant. 18.3.3) first quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 1.11, Dem. Evan. 3.5), wherein Christ is spoken of as something more than man-- εἴγε ά̀νδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή (for we must not, with Heinichen, insist too much on the alleged classical usage of ἔιγε)--and testimony is borne to his miracles, to the truth and wide reception of his doctrines, to his Messiahship--ὁ Χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν, and to his death and resurrection, in accordance with the prophecies. For a detailed discussion of the question we must refer the reader to the treatise of Daubuz, and to Arnoldus's collection of letters on the subject, appended to Havercamp's edition of Josephus (vol. ii. p. 18.9, &c.), also to Harles's Fabricius (vol. v. p. 18, note bb), and especially to Heinichen's Excursus on Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1.11, and the authors on both sides of the controversy, of whom he there gives a full list. The external evidence for the passage is very strong : but the testimony which it bears in favour of Christianity is so decisive, that some have concluded from it that Josephus must have been himself a believer, an Ebionite Christian at least, according to the opinion of Whiston (Dissert. i.), while others have adduced the fact that he was not a Christian as a proof that the passage is spurious. The former opinion appears to be contradicted by positive testimony (see Orig. Comm. ad Matt. ap. Haverc. ad init., c. Cels. p. 35), and has no support from the works of Josephus beyond this one place itself. He speaks, indeed, in high terms of John the Baptist (one of whose disciples Hudson supposes Banus to have been), but there is nothing in his language to show that he had any correct notion of his true character as the predicted forerunner of our Lord (Ant. 18.5.2). His condemnation also of the murder of St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem (Ant. 20.9.1), is no more than might have been and was expressed (as he himself tells us) by all the most moderate men among the Jews; and the statement, quoted as from him by Origen (ll. cc.) and Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 2.23), that the destruction of Jerusalem was a punishment from God for this murder, is not to be found in any of our present copies of his works. As to his having been an Ebionite, this conjecture would imply a warmer zeal for the Jewish law than he seems to have felt, though it would be somewhat more plausible (since the Ebionites and Essenes had much in common; see Burton's Bampt. Lect. vi. notes 81-83), were there any good grounds for the assertion of Daubuz that, as Josephus was disposed in his youth to the tenets of the Essenes (to whom he thinks Banus belonged), so he returned to those opinions after the ruin of his country, when nothing more was to be got by being a Pharisee, and was an Essene when he wrote his Antiquities. We may conclude then that Josephus was no believer in Christ; but this need not, of itself, be any barrier to our reception of the disputed passage; since it is quite conceivable that, with his character and temptations, he might well admit the divine legation of Jesus, without fully realising all that such an admission required, without, in fact, the consistency and courage to be a Christian. A man of the world, with little or no earnestness, he might think it the moderate and philosophical, certainly the safe course, to sit loose to religion altogether; and the term indifference may describe his state of mind even more appropriately than perplexity, such as Gamaliel's. (Acts, 5.34, &c.) To this we may add, as not impossible, the view of Daubuz, Boehinert, and others, that there were Christians even at the court of Domitian who at that time (A. D. 93) were persons of influence -- Flavius Clemens, for instance, and Flavia Domitilla, to say nothing of the doubtful case of Epaphroditus, and that Josephus therefore had an obvious motive for speaking with reverence of the author of Christianity. (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3.17, 18; comp. St. Paul, Philip. 4.22.) Nor are the above remarks less applicable in the main, even if we entirely or partially reject the passage; for Christianity must have attracted the attention of Josephus, and so there would be much significance either in his silence on the subject or in his faltering testimony. Our own opinion is, that he was not likely to commit himself by language so decisive; nor at the same time do we look upon the passage as altogether spurious. It would rather appear (according to the view of Villoison, Routh, and Heinichen) that the strongest expressions and phrases have been interpolated into it, perhaps by Eusebius, who, there is reason to fear, was quite capable of the fraud, perhaps by some earlier Christian, not necessarily with a dishonest purpose, but in the way of marginal annotation. (Villoison, Anecd. Graec. ii. pp. 69-71; Routh, Rel. Sac. iv. p. 389; Heinichen, Excurs. ad Euseb. 1.11.) The writings of Josephus have always been considered, and with justice, as indispensable for the theological student. For the determination of various readings, both in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and in the Septuagint version, they are by no means without their value, though they have been herein certainly over-rated by Whiston. But their chief use consists in such points as their testimony to the striking fulfilment of our Saviour's prophecies, their confirmation of the canon, facts, and statements of Scripture, and the obvious collateral aid which they supply for its elucidation. (See Fabr. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 20, &c.; Gray's Connection of Sacred and Classical Literature, vol. i. p. 310, &c.) The character of a faithful historian is claimed by Josephus for himself, and has been pretty generally acknowledged, though, from what has been already said of his anxiety to conciliate his heathen readers, it cannot be admitted without some drawbacks. (c. Ap. 1.9, Prooem. ad Ant., Prooem. ad Bell. Jud.; Fabr. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 16, &c.) On this subject see Brinch, Exam. Hist. Jos., to the instances adduced by whom we may add our author's omission of the promises to Eve, and Abraham, and Jacob, of the delivering Seed, and his adoption, with some variations, of the story about ARISTEAS and the seventy-two translators of the Old Testament. (Ant. 1.1, 13, 19, 12.2; Gen. 3.15, 22.18, 28.14.) His chronology, differing as it does in many points from that of the Septuagint, as well as from that of the Hebrew text, is too wide a subject to be discussed here. The reader is referred for satisfaction on the point to Vossius, Chron. Sac.; Brinch, Exam. Chron. Jos.; Hale's New Analysis of Chronology; Stackhouse's Hist. of the Bible, ch. 3; L'Estrange, Disc. ii., prefixed to his transl. of Josephus; Spanheim, Chron. Jos. The language of Josephus is remarkably pure, though we meet occasionally with unclassical, or at least unusual, expressions and constructions, in some of which instances, however, the readings are doubtful. On his style in general, and on the different character it bears in different portions of his works, the reader will find some sensible remarks in the treatise of Daubuz above referred to (b. 2. §§ 3, &c.). It is characterised by considerable clearness in what may be called the ἀργὰ μέρη, such as narrative and discussion; the speeches which he introduces have much spirit and vigour; and there is a graphic liveliness, an ἐνάργεια, in his descriptions, which carries our feelings along with it, and fully justifies the title of the Greek Livy, applied to him by St. Jerome. (Phot. Bibl. p. 33; Hieron. ad Eustoch. de Cust. Virg. Ep. xviii.; Chrys. in Ep. ad Rom. Horn. xxv.)
WorksThe works of Josephus are as follows:--
περὶ τοῦ Ἰουδαϊκοῦ πολέμου ἢ Ἰουδαϊκῆς ἱστορίας περί ἁλώσεως), in seven books. Josephus tells us that he wrote it first in his own language, and then translated it into Greek, for the information of European readers (Prooem. ad Bell. Jud. § 1). The Hebrew copy is no longer extant. The Greek was published about A. D. 75, under the patronage and with the especial recommendation of Titus. Agrippa II. also, in no fewer than sixty-two letters to Josephus, bore testimony to the care and fidelity displayed in it. It was admitted into the Palatine library, and its author was honoured with a statue at Rome. It commences with the capture of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes in B. C. 170, runs rapidly over the events before Josephus's own time, and gives a detailed account of the fatal war with Rome. (Jos. Vit. 65; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3.9; Hieron. Catal. Script. Eccl. 13; Ittigius, Prolegomena; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 4; Voss. de Hist. Graec. p. 239, ed. Westermann.)
2. The Jewish Antiquities (Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία）The Jewish Antiquities (Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία), in twenty books, completed about A. D. 93, and addressed to EPAPHRODITUS. The title as well as the number of books may have been suggested by the Ῥωμαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία of Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The work extends from the creation of the world to A. D. 66, the 12th year of Nero, in which the Jews were goaded to rebellion by Gessius Florus. It embraces therefore, but more in detail, much of the matter of the first and part of the second book of the Jewish war. Both these histories are said to have been translated into Hebrew, of which version, however, there are no traces, though some have erroneously identified it with the work of the Pseudo-Josephus Gorionides. [See above, JOSEPHUS, No. 10.]
His own life, in one book.
This is an appendage to the Archaeologia, and is addressed to the same Epaphroditus.
It cannot, however, have been written earlier than A. D. 97, since Agrippa II. is mentioned in it as no longer living (§ 65).
κατὰ Ἀπίωνος, in two books, also addressed to Epaphroditus. It is in answer to such as impugned the antiquity of the Jewish nation, on the ground of the silence of Greek writers respecting it. The title, " against APION," is rather a misnomer, and is applicable only to a portion of the second book (§§ 1-13). The treatise exhibits considerable learning, and we have already seen how St. Jerome speaks of it. The Greek text is deficient from § 5 to § 9 of book ii. [APOLLONIUS of Alabanda, No. 3.]
5. Εἰς ΜακκαβαίουςΕἰς Μακκαβαίους, ἢ περὶ αὐτοκράτορος λογισμοῦ, in one book. Its genuineness has been called in question by many (see Cave, Hist. Lit. Script. Eccl. p. 22), but it is referred to as a work of Josephus by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Philostorgius, and others. (See Fabr. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 7; Ittigius, Prolegom.) Certainly, however, it does not read like one of his. It is an extremely declamatory account of the martyrdom of Eleazar (an aged priest), and of seven youths and their mother, in the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes; and this is prefaced by a discussion on the supremacy which reason possesses de jure over pleasure and pain. Its title has reference to the zeal for God's law displayed by the sufferers in the spirit of the Maccabees. There is a paraphrase of it by Erasmus; and in some Greek copies of the Bible it was inserted as the fourth book of the Maccabees (Fabr. l.c.).
περὶ τοῦ παντός was certainly not written by Josephus. For an account of it see Photius, Bibl. xlviii.; Fabr. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 8; Ittigius. Proleg. ad fin. St. Jerome (Praef. ad Lib. XI. Comm. ad Esaiam) speaks of a work of one Josephus on Daniel's vision of the seventy weeks; but whether he is referring to the subject of the present article is doubtful.