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Josephus, Flavius

Source:
A Dictionary of the Bible What is This? Contains accessibly written entries for topics covering the religious, historical, and social aspects of the Bible.

    Josephus, Flavius

    Jewish historian who lived from about 37 to 100 CE; during the rebellion against Rome he was commander of the forces in Galilee but was taken prisoner. He became the interpreter for Vespasian during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE and afterwards resided in Rome, well-regarded by the emperors, Vespasian and Titus. Josephus wrote the history of the Jewish War, laying blame for the revolt on a minority of fanatics. He tried to explain the Jewish faith to Gentiles in his Antiquities of the Jewish People but a reference in it to Jesus was expanded and made more favourable at an early date by a Christian scribe. The four extant works of Josephus are fundamental for our knowledge of Jewish life and history for the last two centuries BCE and the first CE.

    Josephus claimed to be a new Jeremiah: what the prophet proclaimed about the Babylonians, he applied to the Romans, as divinely appointed agents of the wrath of God. Hence the suggestion that the ‘false prophet’ of Rev. 16: 13 could refer to Josephus, whose friendship with Rome was not shared by the author of Revelations.

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