The Jewish War (Penguin Classics)


The Jewish War (Penguin Classics)
The Jewish War (Penguin Classics)
by Authors: Flavius Josephus, Josephus
Released: 01 April, 1984
ISBN: 0140444203

Sales Rank: 54,191

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The Jewish War (Penguin Classics) > Customer Review #1:
1st Century clash between Romans and Jews

I bought this book to read before a trip to Israel in 1999. Its a very readable English translation. This gives Josephus account of the war between the Romans and the Jews in the 1st century. Most fascinating (and horrible) are the accounts of the destruction of Gamla and Jerusalem and the final siege of Masada. Scholars are critical of Josephus because he puts too much of himself into the story and because it is probably biased in favor of his Roman benefactors. (Josephus began fighting against the Romans, but then came over to their side when he was captured and convinced of the hopelessness of the rebellion. He tried to convince the Jews not to fight, but to accept Roman rule. He wrote this history for the Romans benefit after the war.) Nevertheless, there are very few good historical accounts of this place and time. Reading it gives you a taste of what life would have been like in that ancient land during this terrible period. Its well worth the time spent reading it, especially if you plan to visit the places described.

The Jewish War (Penguin Classics) > Customer Review #2:
Historical eyewitness

This is a classical historical eyewitness account of the Jewish revolt 66-70 CE against Roman rule. It covers the following events: the outbreak of the war, campaign in Galilee, the isolation of Jerusalem, the fall of the city in the hands of Titus, destruction of the temple, the triumphal return of the conquerors to Rome, and the Massada episode. The first version was written in Aramaic but latter translated to an impeccable Greek, the narration covering many details concerning Roman war tactics (Flavius Josephus was himself a general, first for the Jewish rebels and later an advisor to Titus). It fails to our present concept of how history should be written in the sense that Flavius Josephus puts in too much of his personal life, with considerable self-adulation.
There are controversies as to how reliable is Flavius Josephus account (destruction of the Temple, for example), to what extent facts where distorted in order to set Flavius favorably in the eyes of his fellow Jews and in the eyes of his Roman benefactors. Whatever the criticisms to his personal life or the fallacies in his historical account, the fact remains that his writing is a rich source of information of a war brought about by the religious tension between the Jewish populace who had become impoverished through high taxation and the Roman government. Much ironical it may sound, but Jospehus with his shrewdness and a strike of luck was destined to remain alive so that we may enjoy and gain knowledge of a specific time in history.

The Jewish War (Penguin Classics) > Customer Review #3:
History by an eyewitness

I found Josephus to be an excellent source of history because he was both an eyewitness and a participant. Though undoubtedly slanted toward his own personal opinion, I think the events Joseph described really happened. He, at first, was part of the rebellion against Rome, but it seems he had reservations about the wisdom of the rebellion. He did fight, however, but was defeated and captured.

After his capture, he apparently realized the hopelessness of war against Rome and seemed to have been surprised and saddened by the civil wars, murders, and political infighting of the Judeans within Jerusalem. He tried many times to shame them out of their infighting, and he encouraged them to surrender undoubtedly because, due to their disunity, they faced certain defeat. He is sometimes referred to as a traitor because he did not support the rebellion to the end. I dont think this is fair to Josephus. Not every political movement in a country is righteous and justified. I wonder how I would act were I were a German citizen during the Nazi era or an Iraqi during Saddam Husseins defiance of international law.

I found Josephus to be a very rich source of information for "Revelation and the Fall of Judea." I am very grateful that Josephus took the time to write such a detailed account of what he saw. He writes his history almost like a novel. This easy to understand translation makes for very interesting reading. I highly recommend this book.

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