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A History of the Hasmonean State: Josephus and Beyond




Josephus cautiously avoided messianism in his history of the Has- monean period. He appears to have been reluctant to document any Hasmonean history that involved the violent messianism of the type that had contributed to the outbreak of the First Jewish War. Instead, he stresses that the Hasmonean family’s rule had gone well until they had established a monarchy and allowed sectarian factions to influence politics. Josephus wrote his books partly to support the aristocracy, namely the rule of the Pharisees and their leaders. For Josephus, these groups represented caution and Roman aristocratic values. They were opposed to the religious zeal of the Zealots and related Jewish groups that had caused the rebellion against Rome. For Josephus, the priests and the aristocrats were the only legitimate Jewish leaders.



Chapter from: A History of the Hasmonean State: Josephus and Beyond (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016).



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By Kenneth Atkinson
Department of History
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
October 2016


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