Prophetic Figures in Late Second Temple Jewish Palestine: The Evidence from Josephus

Overview

Isolated passages from the writings of Josephus are routinely cited in general studies of early Jewish prophecy, but the present work is the first comprehensive examination of this material. Gray begins with a discussion of the significance of the belief—widely attested in Jewish sources from the late Second Temple period—that prophecy had ceased. She proceeds to outline a general theory about the nature and status of prophecy in this period. Giving careful consideration to the prophetic claims that Josephus ...

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Overview

Isolated passages from the writings of Josephus are routinely cited in general studies of early Jewish prophecy, but the present work is the first comprehensive examination of this material. Gray begins with a discussion of the significance of the belief—widely attested in Jewish sources from the late Second Temple period—that prophecy had ceased. She proceeds to outline a general theory about the nature and status of prophecy in this period. Giving careful consideration to the prophetic claims that Josephus makes for himself, she argues that these claims are more substantial and more important for understanding Josephus than is usually thought. Gray goes on to examine Josephus' reports concerning prophecy among the Essenes and Pharisees, and his accounts of the activities of the "sign prophets" and other figures. In every instance, Gray interprets the evidence about prophecy in relation to Josephus' personal career and his thought and work as a whole. Drawing on a range of evidence, much of which has not played a significant role in other studies of early Jewish prophecy, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in Josephus, the history of prophecy in Israel, or the historical Jesus.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An impressive work which casts fresh light on many major and minor matters through applying a new and consistent perspective to a difficult area. It breaks much new ground, and does so in an agreeable style."—John Barton, Oriel College, Oxford

"This is an excellent piece of work, very well controlled in overall design, and very well prepared in detail. It both takes into account other work in the field and makes an original contribution. The work will be of considerable interest for Christian and Jewish studies."—Fergus Millar, Brasenose College, Oxford

"Significant and readable....The study should be consulted by all those persons interested in the variety of projects which fall somewhere under the rubric of social scientific investigations of the relevant time period."—IOUDAIOS Review

"Thorough and clearly organized work, Gray has done a service to scholarship."—Journal of Theological Studies

"It seems to me that Professor Gray had indeed brought a fresh approach to bear on the religious and political turmoil of the late Second Temple period; and that she has uncovered the need for further research into the attitude of popular circles towards the varieties of prophecy. On both counts this book is to be warmly welcomed."—Le'ela

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195076158
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

A Note on Translation xiii
Abbreviations xv
Introduction 3
Biographical Sketch 4
The Plan of the Present Work 4
1. Josephus and the Belief that Prophecy Had Ceased 7
Evidence that Josephus Believed that Prophecy Had Ceased 8
Against Apion 1.41: Prophecy and the Writing of History 8
Antiquities 3.218: John Hyrcanus and the End of Priestly Divination 16
Josephus' Use of [characters not reproducible] and Related Terms 23
The Continuation of Prophecy After Its Supposed Cessation 26
Dreams and Prophetic Inspiration 27
Prophecy as Prediction 30
Conclusion 34
2. Josephus as Prophet 35
The Revelation at Jotapata 35
The Content of the Revelation 37
The Apologetic Purpose of the Narrative 41
Josephus' Defense of His Decision to Surrender 44
The Revelatory Experience Described in War 3.351-54 52
Priestly Expertise in the Interpretation of Scripture 53
Revelatory Dreams and Visions and Their Interpretation in Josephus 58
The Mechanics of Interpretation in War 3.351-54 69
Typological Correspondences Between Josephus and the Ancient Prophets 70
Jeremiah 72
Daniel 74
Joseph 77
Conclusion 78
3. The Essenes 80
The General Statement in War 2.159 83
The Study of "Sacred Books" 83
The Meaning of the Phrase "Various Purifications" 86
The Study of "Sayings of Prophets" 89
Conclusion 89
Josephus' Reports Concerning Individual Essene Prophets 92
Judas (War 1.78-80; Antiquities 13.311-13) 92
Menahem (Antiquities 15.373-79) 95
Simon (War 2.112-13; Antiquities 17.345-48) 101
Josephus' Essene Prophets and Pesher Interpretation at Qumran 105
Josephus' Use of [characters not reproducible]-Terminology in Connection with the Essenes 107
Conclusion 110
4. The Sign Prophets 112
Josephus' Reports Concerning the Sign Prophets 114
Theudas (Antiquities 20.97-99) 114
The Egyptian (War 2.261-63; Antiquities 20.169-72) 116
Unnamed Figures Under Felix (War 2.258-60; Antiquities 20.167-68) 118
Unnamed Prophet of 70 C.E. (War 6.283-87) 120
Jonathan the Sicarius (War 7.437-50; Life 424-25) 121
Unnamed Figure Under Festus (Antiquities 20.188) 122
The Meaning of Josephus' Sign Terminology 123
[characters not reproducible] as Omens or Portents 123
[characters not reproducible] as Authenticating Miracles 125
[characters not reproducible] Josephus' Accounts of the Sign Prophets 131
Characteristic Features of the Sign Prophet as a Type 133
Conclusion: Josephus and the Sign Prophets 143
5. Other Prophetic Figures 145
Onias (Antiquities 14.22-24) 145
Prophetic Figures Among the Pharisees 148
Pollion and Samaias (Antiquities 14.172-76; 15.3-4, 370) 148
Pharisaic Intrigues in the Court of Herod the Great (Antiquities 17.41-45) 152
Jesus Son of Ananias (War 6.300-309) 158
Conclusion 164
Notes 168
Bibliography 213
Index of Passages 222
Author Index 234
Subject Index 236
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