A Jew Among Romans: The Life and Legacy of Flavius Josephus

A Jew Among Romans: The Life and Legacy of Flavius Josephus


By (author) Frederic Raphael

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Paperback $14.89
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 36mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 22 January 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0307378160
  • ISBN 13: 9780307378163
  • Sales rank: 519,643

Product description

From the acclaimed biographer, screenwriter, and novelist Frederic Raphael, here is an audacious history of Josephus (37-c.100), the Jewish general turned Roman historian, whose emblematic betrayal is a touchstone for the Jew alone in the Gentile world. Joseph ben Mattathias's transformation into Titus Flavius Josephus, historian to the Roman emperor Vespasian, is a gripping and dramatic story. His life, in the hands of Frederic Raphael, becomes a point of departure for an appraisal of Diasporan Jews seeking a place in the dominant cultures they inhabit. Raphael brings a scholar's rigor, a historian's perspective, and a novelist's imagination to this project. He goes beyond the fascinating details of Josephus's life and his singular literary achievements to examine how Josephus has been viewed by posterity, finding in him the prototype for the un-Jewish Jew, the assimilated intellectual, and the abiding apostate: the recurrent figures in the long centuries of the Diaspora. Raphael's insightful portraits of  Yehuda Halevi, Baruch Spinoza, Karl Kraus, Benjamin Disraeli, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Hannah Arendt extend and illuminate the Josephean worldview Raphael so eloquently lays out.

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Author information

Frederic Raphael is the author of more than twenty novels, f ive volumes of short stories, biographies of Byron and W. Somerset Maugham, and five volumes of his personal notebooks and journals. He is also the translator of, among other works, Petronius's "Satyrica" and is a regular contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement."

Review quote

"Only someone with the gifts of Frederic Raphael could have written a book as original and wide-ranging as this one. His purpose is to explore the moral ambiguity of identity and loyalty that Jews from Josephus to Hannah Arendt have tried to deal with ever since the Roman conquest of Judaea. It is exhilarating to read history that properly illuminates the present." --David Pryce-Jones, author of "Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews" "Joseph Ben Mattathias or--in his latter-day transformation as a Romanized historian of his own earlier role as failed leader of the Jewish nationalist revolt against Rome, 66-70 C.E.--Titus Flavius Josephus, is an extraordinarily modern character, who could easily, in all his political and moral ambiguity, have stepped straight out of a novel by John Le Carre. Understandably, he does not too often figure in the normal classical curriculum. To the rebels he led, and deserted, he became the ultimate traitor. To Romans, he was a pliable convert who nevertheless refused to go all the way to proper Romanitas. Now, at last, he has found his ideal biographer. Frederic Raphael was trained at Cambridge as classicist and philosopher, and has lived for years in France: he sees Joseph(us)'s dilemmas reflected in those of Albert Camus, the radical pro-Algerian who was nevertheless a pied-noir, a French colonialist "malgre lui." With subtlety, irony, and acute insight into Diaspora politics, Raphael brilliantly disentangles, from ancient sources and modern scholarship, a psychologically convincing account of this ancient looking-glass war, and of the elusive individual who was both its chief protagonist and its much-reviled historian. It is a story with endless echoes of, and lessons for, eerily similar conflicts today, and Raphael tells it superbly." --Peter Green, author of "The Hellenistic Age" "Frederic Raphael's probing, reflexive essay on the life and legacy of Joseph ben Mattathias aka Flavius Josephus brilliantly