The categories of Jewish historiography of the Second Temple Period frame how scholars and their students approach crucial texts of this era and therefore shape our understanding of history. Yet, these categories are fraught with difficulties. This article explores this issue by examining Daniel R. Schwartz’s categorization of Second Temple historiography as either Palestinian or diasporan works. While these categories provide interesting insights, they also leave far too many exceptions. This article demonstrates that such efforts of categorization warp our understanding of Second Temple historiography. Rather than categorize Second Temple historiography I suggest that each work ought to be considered from the point of view of its author’s aims.
For nearly three decades scholars of the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, have debated this author’s methodologies and goals in writing his Jewish Antiquities. While source-critics view Josephus as a compiler, new historians have chosen to read Antiquities as primarily a literary work which reveals social, political, and intellectual history. A series of recent publications place these methodologies side by side but rarely coordinate them, which leaves out important insights of each group. At stake is how we moderns read Jewish history of the first century CE. I explore how parallel accounts of Herod’s trial while he was Tetrarch of the Galilee in Jewish War and in Antiquities can be justified by employing source-critical analysis as a first step to explain the changes made to the text of Antiquities before turning to new historians’ methodologies. We can better understand the function of Herod’s trial in Antiquities through this process.