Monday, August 16, 2010

Does the Rabbinic Tradition Know Where Josephus was REALLY Captured During the Jewish War?

I will continue our continued examination of the parallels between Hegesippus and Jewish War but I would like to emphasize the way both texts disagree with Vita (their presumed source at least according to Luther, Laqueur and Cohen) at this very critical juncture. Vita does not introduce Josephus's capture at this juncture. Instead we see the material identified by Laqueur as a later addition reference Josephus's capture at Jotapata (Vita 65, 74, 75) but the entire narrative is curiously missing from the chronology. Vita's natural chronology assumes that the genocides perpetrated in Gamala and Sepphoris was perpetrated under Josephus's watch. These charges must have been the most serious against the Jewish revolutionary commander and so were eventually were disassociated with Josephus to make him an acceptable witness against Justus's chronology. Hence also the re-arrangement of the material in Vita so as to respond to what must have been Justus's characterization of Josephus as a war criminal. I think the key line in the Vita rewrite is "For thou knowest that I was in the power of the Romans before Jerusalem was besieged, and before the same time Jotapata was taker by force, as well as many other fortresses, and a great many of the Galileans fell in the war." (Vita 65) The synergoi were actively (and undoubtedly posthumously) disconnecting Josephus from being a parallel to the Yochanan ben Zakkai capture at Jerusalem as preserved Gittin 56b. I suspect that 'John' here is a confusion for Josephus. I am not the first.

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