Reading Josephus

Other Greek writings of the New Testament era, including papyri and inscriptions
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Reading Josephus

Postby Louis L Sorenson » September 29th, 2013, 9:49 pm

What books are available to help one read through some of Josephus?

Is there a special lexicon tailored to his works? I know Henry. St. John Thackeray and Ralph Marcus, had been working on a lexicon. http://openlibrary.org/books/OL21877071M/A_lexicon_to_Josephus. Are there any commentaries dealing with the Greek or with some of his writings?

I'm also looking for "The Best of Josephus." What texts would be of most interest. I think the description of the temple would be one. The discussion of the Essenes, Pharisees, and Saducees would be another. Stuff about the Samartians, etc. I would like to build a list of passages that would be suitable for a Greek reader.

Logos has the Niese edition, which I believe has morphology attached: https://www.logos.com/product/5776/josephus-in-greek-niese-critical-edition-with-apparatus. Perseus has Niese' Greek texts and William Whiston's translation. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/collection?collection=Perseus:collection:Greco-Roman Perseus also has some tools. In addition, the Alpheios tools are available: http://alpheios.net/.

Many of the Loeb editions have not had their copyright renewed. Links can be found at http://www.edonnelly.com/loebs.html.
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Re: Reading Josephus

Postby Tony Pope » September 30th, 2013, 3:15 am

See also the PACE site http://pace.mcmaster.ca/york/york/texts.htm, where you can read Greek and English on the same page (Brill translation where available with commentary, and Whiston). The Greek words are linked to Perseus.

PACE also has Polybius in the same format.
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Re: Reading Josephus

Postby Ken M. Penner » October 1st, 2013, 8:04 am

Certainly you would be hard-pressed to do better than the PACE site Tony mentioned.
Note K. H. Rengstorf’s concordance lists glosses for each word. Rengstorf, K. H. 1973–83. A Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus. 4 vols. Leiden.
You might be interested in Ladouceur, D. J. 1977. Studies in the Language and Historiography of Flavius Josephus. Ph.D. diss., Brown University.
For a selection of readings from Josephus, I agree regarding his descriptions of the various sects of Judaism (in War and Antiquities). I found Antiquities easier, possibly because a lot of the subject matter was familiar. Of course, the Testimonium Flavianum is crucial. I might also include his descriptions of other messianic figures. Life is good. Apion is not quite as interesting; it's harder (polished), too.
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Re: Reading Josephus

Postby RandallButh » October 2nd, 2013, 1:47 am

Louis--
There are alot of 'favorite passages' that make for good reading. In addition to those that you and Ken mentioned, I like students to see the siege passage in War 5: 258-302, partially because it has the funny "son is coming" האבן באה ('patriarchal' is specifically Hebrew, not Aramaic) and also War 6: 281-310 where the strange occurrences before the fall of the temple and the sad prophet are described.
If students are mainly interested in NT, then things like the Archelaus delegation to Rome as the background of the parable in Luke 19 are also good reading.
If touring the Land of Israel, then the fall of Yotfat, a nice walk above the real Cana, is excellent though quite long. (Seems it was important to Josephus :) )
Other passages of interest would be the description of Gamla (a short movie is available at the museum in Qatsrin) not too far from Gamla itself,
and the description of the sea battle on the Kinneret is good when going to see the Galilee boat at Ginosar. Lowering soldiers down the Arbel cliffs makes a nice read//hike, too.

We've thought that a special Josephus course would be nice to run, where texts are read/discussed and sites visited, but the amount of text that students would need to read are so extensive that enrollment would be limited and not financially feasible.
The same limitation applies to doing a course on Herodotus or Thucydides. But the battle of Salamis overlooking the island makes a nice read after a Greek breakfast on a clear day. And then there's Pausanius.

I can only see this as feasible in a "pinnacle program" (to be discussed at the ETS Applied Linguistics section, Baltimore 2013) where third-fourth year students have reached a level of classroom fluency on par with what vigorous French/German programs achieve at upper division.
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Re: Reading Josephus

Postby ed krentz » October 2nd, 2013, 11:00 am

Ken M. Penner wrote:Certainly you would be hard-pressed to do better than the PACE site Tony mentioned.
Note K. H. Rengstorf’s concordance lists glosses for each word. Rengstorf, K. H. 1973–83. A Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus. 4 vols. Leiden.
You might be interested in Ladouceur, D. J. 1977. Studies in the Language and Historiography of Flavius Josephus. Ph.D. diss., Brown University.
For a selection of readings from Josephus, I agree regarding his descriptions of the various sects of Judaism (in War and Antiquities). I found Antiquities easier, possibly because a lot of the subject matter was familiar. Of course, the Testimonium Flavianum is crucial. I might also include his descriptions of other messianic figures. Life is good. Apion is not quite as interesting; it's harder (polished), too.

==================
I would suggest beginning the reading of Josephus with his treatise Against Apion. Read the opening of book 1 through his discussion of the canon, then move to his positive discussion of Judiasm in book 2. You will read some relatively easy Greek (though the vocabulary may challenge you) and you will learn how a literate Jew presented Judaism to a non-Jewish audience.

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