Monday, August 16, 2010

Shaye Cohen and the Hypomnema Behind the Surviving Texts of Jewish War

I have been reading Cohen's Josephus in Galilee and Rome for the last few hours and it is amazing to see how many of his arguments are so very useful for our thesis. Cohen argues for instance that Vita was written as a chronology so immediately we see an underlying conflict with the narrative in Jewish War which we have noted many times here - Josephus doesn't appear captured until long after the Jewish War (and Hegesippus tradition) say he was taken behind Roman lines. 

We will get back to these chronological considerations later. For the moment I would just like to emphasize that Cohen argues that Vita knows the lost original text that was actually written by 'first century Josephus' and which was also developed in some form to make our current text of Vita. 

Cohen of course isn't offering up the Hegesippus and the evidence from Clement, Origen, Eusebius and Epiphanius that (a) was a Christianized version of Josephus written by another man named Joseph in 147 CE and (b) that all the surviving copies of Jewish War derive in some form from this Christian original. 

I think Christian interpolation explains the creation of ALL the works of Josephus including Vita but for the moment I would like to cite Cohen's development of many of Lacqueur's ideas because they have will have an important effect on our discoveries regarding the relationship between Hegesippus and Jewish War. 

Cohen writes of literary relationship between Vita and Jewish War going back to a hypomnema:

Thus in both sequence and (at least to some degree) content V has a more pristine form of the material than BJ. But, as we remarked in chapter one above in our criticism of Laqueur, that which is more pristine is not necessarily that which is earlier. Therefore a more significant example of V's primacy is the parallel V 86//BJ 615, from the episode of John at Tiberias. "He (Josephus) did not yet suspect the plotter (John)," BJ 615), makes little sense in BJ, after John's murderous plots of BJ 593-594 and the "Josephan gloss" of 599 and seems to be a careless paraphrase of V's "I did not suspect that he would do anything wicked." In V the words make sense because John's machinations, as described by V 70-76, were not such as to arouse suspicion. Here then is a good indication of the literary priority of V.

By priority we mean that V, although written after BJ, contains as its nucleus a document which was written much earlier and was utilized by BJ. The existence of this document is supported by more than just the parallel V 86//BJ 615. The relationship of BJ 2 to V is similar to the relationship of BJ 1 to AJ 15-16 (see above) and this analogy suggests that the "common source" behind BJ 2 and V was not just Josephus' memory but a written document. The "original sequence" preserved by V and thematically revised by BJ, is the sequence of this work. This theory also explains the literary peculiarities of V. If V were a mere sloppy retelling of the story of Josephus' career in Galilee, written all at one time some thirty years after the events in order to refute Justus and based primarily on Josephus' memory (perhaps refreshed by a quick perusal of BJ), we could not explain why the clear organization of BJ was not followed more closely, why Justus' role is so spotty and peripheral, and why his name often appears in sentences which have no connection with their context and no consequence for the action (see chapter five below, section C 1). This argument in favor of the common source theory was emphasized (actually overemphasized) by Laqueur. The only other systematic way to explain Justus' marginal role is to suppose that Josephus had written an autobiography, attached it to AJ, but later, after Justus' attack, converted it to serve his need for a self-defense. But if this autobiography is our V minus the glosses, it is amazing that even before the attack of Justus Josephus prepared a long apologetic account which included precisely those elements he would later need in his self-defense. Therefore it has been suggested that the original autobiography was a short work consisting mostly of information on Josephus' background and family. The frame of our V is a remnant of this alleged edition (V 1-27 and 414-430). A few years later, in order to respond to Justus, Josephus expanded his earlier work in order to produce an apologetic and polemic. But this suggestion does not solve our problem (why is the polemic against Justus so easily separable from the text?), and is intrinsically implausible (why did Josephus not write a separate retort to Justus if his autobiography were already complete?) as well as chronologically difficult (Agrippa probably died before 93/4 and so there is no reason to postulate two different editions of V).

What is the nature of this hypothetical common source? The least uncertain thing about it is that it was arranged chronologically much like V. If it was a literary work, a polished account like, say, that of Nicolaus of Damascus, we must explain why there are so many discrepancies between V and BJ, many more than between AJ 15-16 and BJ 1. Some of these, no doubt, are Josephus' response to Justus (see chapter five below). but many are too picayune to be of any significance. It is apparent that Josephus' memory, in addition to this written source, must have played a large part in both V and BJ. Thus we need a document fixed enough to have a definite order but free enough to allow remarkable divergences caused by shifts in memory. The most likely candidate is a hypomnema, a dry sketch or outline of the events in Galilee, which Josephus prepared before writing BJ. CA 1.50, "when my entire narrative was prepared" may well refer to this sketch. Ancient historians were expected to prepare such hypomnemata before proceeding to their literary works. BJ, a rhetorical history, drastically shortened, thematically rearranged, and freely modified the hypomnema. V, a hasty polemic and apologetic, retained the scope, structure, and, in general, the dryness of the original but added anti-Justus material (including the "glosses") and extensive self-defense. A similar theory has been advanced to account for the differences between the Vita Constantini and the sections parallel to it in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius. The one, a biography, and the other, a history, describe events of Eusebius' own lifetime but disagree on many details and on the order of events. Perhaps these two works derive from a Eusebian hypomnema.

We cannot now determine the exact content and form of this work. Josephus has rewritten everything not only because this was his normal procedure (see chapter two), but also because the hypomnema was meant to be rewritten.
[p. 81 - 83]

The point of course is that Cohen is looking for the exact same thing we are - i.e. a common source for many of the Josephan texts. I prefer to think of an Aramaic chronology which was treated as a hypomnema. 

Here is the Wikipedia entry for hypomnema in any event:

Hypomnema (Greek. υπομνημα, plural υπομνηματα, hypomnemata), also spelled hupomnema, is a Greek word with several translations into English including a reminder, a note, a public record, a commentary, a draft, a copy, and other variations on those terms[1].
Michel Foucault uses the word in the sense of "note", but his translators use the word "notebook", which is anachronistic (see codex and wax tablet). Concerning Seneca's discipline of self-knowledge, Foucault writes: "In this period there was a culture of what could be called personal writing: taking notes on the reading, conversations, and reflections that one hears or engages in oneself; keeping kinds of notebooks on important subjects (what the Greeks call 'hupomnemata'), which must be reread from time to time so as to reactualize their contents."[2] In an excerpt from an Interview with Michel Foucault in The Foucault Reader, he says: "As personal as they were, the hypomnemata must nevertheless not be taken for intimate diaries or for those accounts of spiritual experience (temptations, struggles, falls, and victories) which can be found in later Christian literature. [... T]heir objective is not to bring the arcana conscientiae to light, the confession of which—be it oral or written—has a purifying value."

Plato's theory of anamnesis recognized the new status of writing as a device of artificial memory, and he developed the hypomnesic principles for his students to follow in the Academy. The hypomnemata constituted a material memory of things read, heard, or thought, thus offering these as an accumulated treasure for rereading and later meditation. They also formed a raw material for the writing of more systematic treatises in which were given arguments and means by which to struggle against some defect (such as anger, envy, gossip, flattery) or to overcome some difficult circumstance (a mourning, an exile, downfall, disgrace).

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