Josephus Geographicus
The Classical Context of Geography in Josephus
Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism, No. 98

By Yuval Shahar
June 2004
Mohr Siebeck
ISBN: 3161482565
315 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$167.50 Hardcover


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 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.

Ancient History

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