Josephus's The Jewish War

Josephus's The Jewish War : A Biography

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An essential introduction to Josephus's momentous war narrative

The Jewish War is Josephus's superbly evocative account of the Jewish revolt against Rome, which was crushed in 70 CE with the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Martin Goodman describes the life of this book, from its composition in Greek for a Roman readership to the myriad ways it touched the lives of Jews and Christians over the span of two millennia.

The scion of a priestly Jewish family, Josephus became a rebel general at the start of the war. Captured by the enemy general Vespasian, Josephus predicted correctly that Vespasian would be the future emperor of Rome and thus witnessed the final stages of the siege of Jerusalem from the safety of the Roman camp and wrote his history of these cataclysmic events from a comfortable exile in Rome. His history enjoyed enormous popularity among Christians, who saw it as a testimony to the world that gave rise to their faith and a record of the suffering of the Jews due to their rejection of Christ. Jews were hardly aware of the book until the Renaissance. In the nineteenth century, Josephus's history became an important source for recovering Jewish history, yet Jewish enthusiasm for his stories of heroism-such as the doomed defense of Masada-has been tempered by suspicion of a writer who betrayed his own people.

Goodman provides a concise biography of one of the greatest war narratives ever written, explaining why Josephus's book continues to hold such fascination today.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 25.4mm | 294.84g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 8 b/w illus.
  • 0691137390
  • 9780691137391
  • 79,401

Review quote

"The Jewish War rightfully belongs in the biography series of "lives of great religious books." . . . An exciting and excellent piece of intellectual history. I recommend it without any reservations."---Rivkah Fishman-Duker, Jewish Political Studies Review "Mr. Goodman has produced, in his latest work, a succinct and vigorous account that combines erudition and an eye for detail with graceful insights."---Barry Strauss, The Wall Street Journal "Martin Goodman, steeped in both Jewish and classical sources, is the most significant historian of Jews and Judaism writing in the UK today, and one of the most significant in the world. As always, Goodman's work is clear, precise, and a pleasure to read."---David Ruben, Jewish Chronicle
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About Martin Goodman

Martin Goodman is professor of Jewish studies at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Wolfson College. His many books include A History of Judaism (Princeton), Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations, and The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies. He lives in Oxford, England.
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