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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Josephus IV Jewish Antiquities, Books I-IV

Rich in history and literary devices, this is a must read.  The reader feels like they are getting a tour of Jewish history.  In these works, Josephus essentially sums up the Torah in his own words.  There is a lot of paraphrasing and even accounts that are slightly different from the Torah itself.  For the reason of that, I will let each reader arrive at their own conclusion.  Needless to say, this book is very interesting.  We read of how Moses wasn't the only one to part a sea.  Josephus writes that this isn't a made-up story since even Alexander the Great is written of as having parted a sea.  The footnotes in this work are also fascinating.  When the topic of manna came up, a footnote had me learn that Arabs have long found an edible substance that emanated from tamarisk trees.  There are even some phrases that are familiar to the New Testament and even predate the New Testament.  This gives evidence to the idea that much of the phrases and cultural references in the New Testament was derived from contemporary sources such as this work.  All in all, I found this very work very interesting.  It really made me about the history of manuscripts.  The footnotes do note where discrepancies between manuscript lie, and that really was great.  There was no covering up.  That isn't to say that a book with discrepancies should be ultimately dismissed.  After all, even my great grandmother's birth year is different on several documents from ancestry.com.  The discrepancies in Josephus' work prove that his book is not divine (he never claimed it was).  But still, it is a great peek into a historical time that is worth the read.

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