Item description for Making History: Josephus And Historical Method (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism) by Zuleika Rodgers...
The encounter between interpretation and history in the writings of Josephus provides the conceptual framework for this collection of essays. The contributions in this volume, which were presented at an international colloquium entitled "Josephus: Interpretation and History" held in Dublin in 2004, are united, not by a single view of Josephus, but by the question of historical method, both ancient and modern. These essays take up aspects of a problem basic to all researchers who would use Josephus for historical purposes, namely: What is the relationship between narratives and history? Organized thematically, the volume reflects a critical engagement with the texts of Josephus, other literary texts, case studies of particular events, and material remains.
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Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.6" Width: 6.5" Height: 1.4" Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2006
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN 9004150080 ISBN13 9789004150089
Reviews - What do customers think about Making History: Josephus And Historical Method (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism)?
making history? Jan 28, 2007
This collection of essays with wide-ranging approaches to Josephus and history is well edited by Zuleika Rodgers. I recommend this to whichever history research libraries can afford it. Here I comment merely on Steve Mason's "Essenes and Lurking Spartans in Josephus' _Judean War_: From Story to History." In a previous article ("What Josephus Says about the Essenes in his _Judean War_," available online) Mason made some valid criticisms of the source criticism Bergmeier offered on Josephus. And he rightly noted that "John the Essene" is a misreading--there was no warrior by that name. But, in this new article, as in the older one, Mason again unaccountably underestimates the relevance of sources in the accounts on Essenes in Josephus. Evidently, sources cramp his style--by his, I mean Mason's. Need he be reminded that Josephus, born c. 37 CE, could not write about, say, Judah the Essene, fl. 104 BCE, without a source? Again Mason subjects Josephus to psychoanalysis by concordance, _as if_ Josephus did not use sources. Mason practically ignores Philo, who wrote on Essenes before Josephus. Josephus and Philo share a source, as seen, e.g., in their joint estimate that Essenes numbered "over 4000" (Philo also writes "myriads"). Philo says Essenes were peaceful, an embarassment to Mason's Spartan proposal. Philo wrote: "Essenes...work in various crafts contributing to peace....In vain would one look among them for makers of arrows, or javelins, or swords, or helmets, or armour, or shields; in short, for makers of arms, or military machines, or any instrument of war, or even peaceful objects which might be turned to evil purpose." Spartans were warriors, first and foremost; Essenes were not. No matter; Mason has other plans, so does not quote Philo for his readers. Mason writes that Pliny is not entirely reliable, so can be ignored. But it's unequal treatment to ignore Pliny--who is not really so unreliable when one realizes his source on Essenes, M. Agrippa, is from the time of Herod the Great--and then to comb through Josephus, who is not entirely reliable. That's bracketing off and ignoring evidence. Mason, citing an unreliable secondary source, would have readers imagine that before the Dead Sea Scrolls came to light in 1948 no one located Essenes in the Qumran area. False. Strack did in 1853, placing Ein Gedi south of the Essenes. De Saulcy's 1858 Atlas places a "pays des Esseniens" north of Ein Gedi. Ginsburg in 1870 located Pliny's Essenes on the "north-west shore" of the Dead Sea, right where Qumran is. Many pre-1948 writers speculated that John the Baptist lived in that same wilderness area and may have met Essenes, or even have been one for a time. Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_ 1854 annotated edition (ch. 37) correctly places Essenes not far distant from the St. Sabas Laura. And Joan Taylor wrote on Dixon's account which "states--somewhat prophetically--in 1866 that the 'chief seats of this sect [Essenes] were pitched on the western shores of the Dead Sea, about the present Ras al Feshka'"--as indeed was the case. This dismissal of Pliny on Qumran Essenes is deeply flawed. (Not even Magen and Peleg buy Hirschfeld's attempt to place Essenes uphill of Ein Gedi; they prefer Essenes out of Qumran and into limbo.) It's not circular to say that the best reading of Pliny points to Qumran. Also flawed is Mason's dismissal of the increasingly-recognized Hebrew origin of the name "Essenes," found in Qumran texts recognized as Essene on other grounds. Several times osey hatorah, observers of torah, appears as a self designation. And Mason knows Philo and Epiphanius spelled the name with O--Ossaioi/Osshnoi in Epiphanius. How many 2000-year old confirming repetitions would Mason require before paying attention? Again, this was known before 1948. Melanchthon in 1532 knew the correct Hebrew root, as did other scholars in every century following. Mason writes (p. 220) that in the 1950s "there were no interpretations of Josephus' Essene portrait..." Again, utterly false. A glance at Wagner's book Die Essener in der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion, vom Ausgang des 18. bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts; eine wissenschaftliche Studie--with a massive bibliography--suffices to show Mason's assertion absurdly misleading. For further information, see "Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene," available online. Conybeare long ago saw the invitation to compare Spartans and Jews in a discussion of Essenes: 1 Maccabees 12 and the happenstance that Essenes are first mentioned in Josephus as existing (not starting) in 146 BCE (because his source Posidonius began then). But we now know that 1 Maccabees, though available then in Hebrew, is quite absent among the circa 900 manuscripts of Qumran. The pro-Maccabee festival Hanukkah is also unmentioned in those many calendar texts. Qumran was anti-Hasmonean, anti the family writing letters to Sparta. 4Q448 is increasingly recognized as a curse on Alexander Jannaeus. Essenes are more akin to Daniel than 1 Maccabees, and were unarmed (unlike David Koresh, whose disaster Mason oddly compares). If Josephus wanted to compare the Essenes and the Spartans, why did he not, you know, use the word "Spartans"? He used "Pythagoreans" and "Dacians" when he compared; Philo also named names to compare: Magi, Gymnosophists. Mason guesses married Essenes--he supposes invented by Josephus "as a means of permitting his own Essene affiliation"(!)--were in the desert and celebates in the cities, despite the wilderness types including Banus and John the Baptist. Initiation and the giving of all property is a big step, found explicitly in War 2 and in the Qumran cave texts; Mason misdirects attention from that. Moses was a writing lawgiver; Lycurgus was not. Such a waste of learned talent, this incantation of the Josephan nature of all, even his hapax patterns. The essay may be a virtuoso rhetorical performance, but it misleads readers, and unfortunately has little to do with ancient history. (to be continued/revised)