[in Loeb Classical Library: Josephus
vols. 7-9. Ed. R. Marcus, E. Wikgren & L. H. Feldman. Cambridge MA: Harvard
University Press, 1963-1965].
Josephus' 20 book magnum opus
presents a comprehensive Jewish interpretation of history from the creation
of the world to the eve of the Jewish war. He promised a sequel to cover events
after the war but never published it. The work was deliberately modeled on the Roman Antiquities
of Dionysius of Halicarnassus & was designed to prove to Romans that Jews
could claim a heritage that was more ancient than theirs. The first 11 books are
based primarily on the Greek Septuagint translation of Hebrew scripture, supplemented with some Jewish folklore.
Books 12 & 13 depend on the Jewish account of the Maccabean revolt in 1 Maccabees
. The last third of Josephus' Antiquities
(Books 13-20) is the most important part for later historians. These books
cover events in the 2nd Jewish Commonwealth [135 BCE to 70 CE] for which Josephus
is our most detailed surviving source. For his account of the Hasmonean & Herodian dynasties Josephus used Nicholas of Damascus' authorized biography of Herod
(now lost) & works by other Greek & Roman historians. For the post-Herodian era
[4 BCE-66 CE] he made use of Roman imperial records (including a large number
of official edicts & letters) as well interviews with contemporaries & his own
notes, including his earlier account of The Jewish War.
In material where the War
& the Antiquities
overlap, the later account is generally fuller & less pro-Roman but also more
defensive of the Jewish cause & the author's association with it. This reflects
the circumstances of its publication. The emperor Domitian, unlike his father [Vespasian] & brother [Titus] did not support the writing of histories. So Josephus had to locate another
patron. He dedicates this & later works to one Epaphroditus, whom he describes
as "a man who is a lover of all kinds of learning" [Antiquities
preface] & addresses as "most excellent of men" [Against Apion
1.1] --- obviously an aristocratic Greek scholar.