Who was Flavius ​​Josephus

Summary of History of the Judean War

The Jews in the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire of the early imperial era represented a mixture of different ethnicities, cultures, languages ​​and religions. The huge empire, which stretched from Spain to Germania to Asia Minor, was divided into provinces, in which governors sent from Rome to maintain the Order, taxes, jurisdiction and the defense of borders. In the cities, the principle of self-administration prevailed: the regulation of all everyday questions lay - always under Roman sovereignty, of course - in the hands of the local elite. While in the northern and western provinces, barbarous from the Roman point of view, the Romanization, i.e. the spread of Roman ways of thinking and living, was promoted in a targeted manner, the already highly developed Hellenistic-Oriental culture remained predominant in the southeastern Mediterranean region.

In religious terms, too, there was a colorful mixture of Roman and regional cults and forms of religion, to which the imperial cult was added in the course of the first century AD. Even if the Romans were not driven by a religious sense of mission, their tolerance had limits. The gods of the Greeks were very similar to their own, and the two religions could easily be reconciled with one another. The monotheistic beliefs of the Jews, however, were always a thorn in the side of the Romans. With the conquest of Jerusalem through Pompey 63 BC And the establishment of the client king Herod 39 BC The potential for conflict increased. Since no ally for local self-government was found after Herod's death, the province of Judea was at the time of Augustus reports directly to a Roman procurator.

Within the empire, the Jews had a number of privileges: from the right to circumcision and the exercise of the Sabbath, to exemption from military service, to exemption from the imperial cult, which was incompatible with monotheism. The rejection of the imperial cult and the externally propagated superiority of the Jewish religion, however, met with great skepticism and led to the fact that the Jews in the Hellenic-Roman world were always regarded as outsiders and socially low-ranking marginalized groups. The Romans were disappointed that, despite privileges granted, the integration of the Jewish population - with the exception of a thin upper class of aristocratic families - failed. For their part, the Jews repeatedly instigated revolts against Roman rule. The expectation of the arrival of the Messiah, who would finally change the situation, played a major role, especially in the lower class, which suffered particularly from Roman taxation. These constant conflicts and revolts finally culminated in the Judean War in AD 66.


When exactly did Flavius ​​Josephus his History of the Judean War wrote is not known, but due to events mentioned in the text, the period can be narrowed down to AD 75 to 79. The author was living in Rome at the time. Much has been speculated about a first version of the work, mentioned in the foreword and written in Josephus’s Aramaic mother tongue, which, however, has no longer survived. Flavius ​​Josephus wrote the received version in Greek with the help of linguistic staff. In his autobiographical notes Vita he also mentions writings as a source Vespasiansthat he had written for documentation and as a commentary on the war.

Impact history

History of the Judean War found widespread use in contemporary Rome and was raised to the rank of official history, since the report demonstrated the military superiority of the Romans and showed the emperors Vespasian and Titus in favorable light. Nice Tacitus but judged that the historians from the time of the Flavians, that dynasty from which Vespasian and Titus descended, had only spoken to the rulers by their mouths.

While the Jews viewed Josephus as a traitor and flatterer of the Romans and paid little attention to the work, the early Christian church showed great interest in the History of the Judean Warespecially Josephus ’description of the destruction of Jerusalem and its holy places, in which they saw a prophecy of Jesus fulfilled. During the Renaissance, the work in Latin was reprinted, but never achieved the dissemination and popularity of the works of other ancient historians such as Tacitus or Thucydides. To this day, Flavius ​​Josephus' book is the main source for the historical reconstruction of the armed conflicts between Romans and Jews.