Josephus and the Politics of Historiography

Apologetic and Impression Management in the Bellum Judaicum


Although Josephus' debt to the traditions of Greco-Roman historiography is widely recognized, the classical elements in his Bellum Judaicum are still often dismissed as just formal ornatus. This study reconsiders Josephus' intellectual affiliation to his predecessors in the genre and argues that the work's classical complexion, and in particular its distinctive color Thucydideus, are integral to the intellectual and ideological design of BJ. Deployed typically at crucial points where Josephus deals with the motives of the Jewish insurgents, the classical elements directly subserve the work's apologetic and polemical tendencies, subtly predisposing the reader to a particular interpretation by applying the rationalist and psychological categories of 'scientific' Greek historiography. In this sense the classical form of BJ is interpreted in light of the historian's partisan political agenda.
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Biographical Note

Gottfried Mader, D.Phil. (1986) in Classics, teaches in the Department of Classics at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. He has published widely on Augustan poetry, on Seneca tragicus, and on classical historiography.


All those with an interest in intellectual history, historiography and reception theory, as well as classical philologists, ancient historians, theologians and students of Jewish history.


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