Josephus Geographicus 978-3-16-158752-8 - Mohr Siebeck
Jewish Studies

Yuval Shahar

Josephus Geographicus

The Classical Context of Geography in Josephus

[Josephus Geographicus. Geographie im Kontext der klassischen Historiographie bei Josephus.]

unrevised e-book edition 2020; Original edition 2004; 2004. IX, 305 pages.

Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 98

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Why did the ancient historian include a geographical description in his historical work? How does the spatial description fulfil its goal? The first part of the book deals with the answers to these questions as reflected in the historical writings of the famous Greek historians: Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Strabo, and Latin historians such as Tacitus. In the second part, Yuval Shahar analyzes the many geographical and topographical descriptions in the writings of Flavius Josephus, and sets them against the different classical generic approaches.
Why did ancient historians include geographical descriptions in their historical works? How does the spatial description fulfill its goal? In this book, Yuval Shahar discusses these two questions, showing that the answers depend on the particular historian and the genre in which he is writing. He analyzes and compares the presentation of geographical space in the writings of Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius and Strabo, with selected illustrations from early Latin historiography. It is clear from this that Flavius Josephus consciously and definitively follows the generic approach of Polybius and Strabo. Moreover, Josephus' descriptions of parts of the Land of Israel are structured in the same way as the descriptions in Strabo's Geography, and reflect a hidden dialogue between Josephus and Strabo.
Awareness of these generic characteristics enables a new reading of some of Josephus' most famous descriptions, such as Jotapata, Gamala and Masada, and establishes his credibility.

Yuval Shahar Born 1953; studied Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University;
currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and Head of The Multidisciplinary Program in the Humanities, Tel Aviv University.


The following reviews are known:

In: Zion — Vol.70 (2005), H.1, S.150
In: Adamantius — Jg.11 (2005), S.514ff (Gian Luigi Prato)
In: Scripta Classica Israelica — Vol.24 (2005), S.318ff (Daniela Dueck)
In: Polish Journal of Bibl.Research — 8 (2009), S. 87 (Zdzislaw J. Kapera)
In: Classical World — 100 (2007), S. 461 (James Romm)
In: Biblische Zeitschrift — 51 (2007), S. 289–291 (Joachim Jeska)
In: Henoch — 29 (2007), S. 159–166 (Steve Mason)
In: New Testament Abstracts — Vol.48 (2004), H.3, S.647
In: Salesianum — Jg.67 (2005), H.1, S.184f (Rafael Vicent)
In: Shofar — 25 (2007), S. 205–207 (Stuart D. Robertson)