Out-Heroding Herod

Josephus, Rhetoric, and the Herod Narratives


The book examines the parallel accounts of the rise, reign and fall of King Herod of Judea in the works of Flavius Josephus: Bellum Judaicum 1.204-673 and Antiquitates Judaicae 14-17. The main questions considered here concern the very existence of two separate accounts of the same historical period, the significant rhetorical differences between them, and the ways in which Josephus portrays two different images of the same man: Herod of Judea.
Also under consideration here are literary and historiographical questions regarding the structure of the narratives, the implementation of rhetorical tools, the historian’s authorial voice, and the relations with earlier sources and other examples of Jewish, Greek and Roman historiography.
The two Herod narratives clearly demonstrate Josephus’ meticulous implementation of rhetorical tools and dramatic devices, mostly influenced by Greek historiography. A few Roman echoes and a deeper level of Jewish assumptions appear as well. Josephus’ careful composition and highly charged rhetoric is here explained by using the modern theory of narratology. Reading the Herod narratives in light of narratological concepts like focalization, order and the narrator’s voice reveals new angles for understanding Josephus’ method as a historian and new insights concerning the image of Herod and the rhetorical means used by Josephus in portraying him.

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Tamar Landau (D. Phil. Oxon. 2003) is a book editor and translator for the Tel Aviv University Press and Schocken Publishing House in Israel. She specializes in Josephus, Graeco-Roman historiography, and modern historical theory.

Chapter One — Historiographies
Chapter Two — Herod’s Portrait in the Jewish War
Chapter Three — Herod’s Portrait in the Jewish Antiquities
Appendix One — Modern Scholarship
Appendix Two — BJ 1.201-673 / AJ 14.156-17.200: An Outline of the Parallel Narratives
Appendix Three — Rhetorical Tools in Use in BJ and AJ outside the Herod Narratives
General Index
This book is relevant forJosephan scholars, ancient historians, those interested in historiography, rhetoric, history of Judea in the first centuries BCE/CE, and anyone who wishes to explore Herod's intriguing history and Josephus' complex historical craft.
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