Samaritans In Flavius Josephus
Text & Studies in Ancient Judaism, No. 129
By Reinhard Pummer
Distributed by Coronet Books
The first-century C.E. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is our main source of information for the early history of the Samaritans, a community closely related to Judaism whose development as an independent religion is commonly dated in the Hellenistic-Roman period. Josephus’ two main works, Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, contain a number of passages that purport to describe the origin, character and actions of the Samaritans.
In composing his histories, Josephus drew on different sources, some identifiable others unknown to us. Contemporary Josephus research has shown that he did so not as a mere compiler but as a creative writer who selected and quoted his sources carefully and deliberately and employed them to express his personal views. Rather than trying to isolate and identify Josephus’ authorities and to determine the meaning these texts had in their original setting, Reinhard Pummer examines what Josephus himself intended to convey to his audience when he depicted the Samaritans in the way he did. He attempts to combine composition criticism and historical research and argues that the differences in Josephus' portrayal of the Samaritans in War on the one hand and in Antiquities on the other are due to the different aims the historian pursued in the two works.
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