Book review: The New Complete Works of Josephus

by William Whiston and Paul L. Maier


I don’t know if this is a particularly good translation; I’ve nothing to compare it to, since I’ve never read any other. It’s not the translation I wish to promote, it’s the writings. Every Bible scholar, especially New Testament scholars, simply MUST read Josephus.

Josephus was a Jewish historian who wrote his books during the same years that most of the New Testament was being written. That is, the latter three decades of the first century. Josephus was not particularly well-liked among Jews; he abused his governorship, he defected to the enemy when captured by the Roman legions, and he wrote his history of the war to present the Romans in a good light. Given to exaggeration, he taints nearly every chapter of his War of the Jews with self-glorification and political and religious aims. Yet, he remains our most important historian for the war of 67-70 CE, which proved to be the springboard for the spread of Christianity, and to be honest, it’s his personal agendas that make his writing so interesting.

Oddly, as much as Josephus was hated, he became very important to Christians, because of his references to Jesus Christ. But scholars now doubt their authenticity. In one passage, the famed Testimonium Flavianum, Josephus names Jesus as the Messiah. Some through the centuries even claimed Josephus to be a Christian. (If you read my book about Revelation, you’ll come away with just the opposite opinion; Josephus may have played a surprising role in the story of Revelation!)

This book contains all four of Josephus’ writings:

The Jewish War, which describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The Life of Flavius Josephus, his own autobiography, which ends up as little more than a defense against the various attacks on his integrity during his governorship in Galilee.

Jewish Antiquities, a Bible-driven history of the Jews from the beginning of time.

Against Apion, a defense of Judaism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>