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Flavius Josephus and the Pharisees

    There is simply no basis, anywhere in Josephus’s narratives, for connecting him with the Pharisees. 

By Steve Mason, Professor (Humanities & Ancient History)
Canada Research Chair in Cultural Identity and Interaction
in the Graeco-Roman World
York University, Toronto
April 2003

    Since the rise of modern scholarship, most students of ancient Judaism and Christian origins have thought that the principal narrative for understanding ancient Judea, the work of Flavius Josephus (37 – ca. 100 C.E.), was written by a Pharisee. In combination with other common assumptions about Josephus—that he was a self-serving opportunist, that he lacked much ability as a thinker or writer, especially in Greek, that he borrowed most of his material wholesale from others—labeling him as a Pharisee served to preclude any serious interest in his writings as compositions. If we could “peg” his religious affiliation, we would already have explained him in some basic ways, put him in a useful box. We knew what Pharisees were (or so we thought), and so if Josephus was one, we knew a lot about him too. Things that didn’t sound particularly Pharisaic in his writing could easily be explained away by his notorious opportunism: he would happily “Hellenize” certain concepts for the benefit of his Greek-speaking audience, and to this end he didn’t mind corrupting his true beliefs quite badly. It seemed reassuring to know that, no matter what stunts he pulled for his own dubious ends, we knew what he really was. In fact, from time to time his allegedly despicable character was cited as but further evidence—in addition to the gospels—of what was held to be the sordid character of all Pharisees.

    From the late 1950s, to be sure, some scholars recognized a problem with assuming that Josephus was a Pharisee. Namely, he does not feature the Pharisees in any of his narratives: they hardly figure in his earliest work (the Judean War), becoming significant players only in latter third of the Judean Antiquities-Life, written in the mid-90s; but then they disappear again from his last and most vigorous defense of Judaism. More importantly, what he writes about Judaism and its laws (or “constitution”), which is a lot, shows no evidence of any Pharisaic bias. We might have suspected Pharisaic influences if he had embraced the special “tradition of the fathers” accepted by Pharisees, for example, or clearly described resurrection from the dead. But he does not. In fact, a number of his passages are openly hostile toward the Pharisees.

    Scholars proposed a two-sided solution to this conundrum. First, Josephus may not have actually been a Pharisee in fact, or a truly committed one, but only wanted to portray himself as one (this from a line in his autobiography, on which more below) because after the war of 66-73 CE the Pharisees were the dominant group in the rebuilding of (“early rabbinic”) Judaism at Yavneh/Jamnia. So he wrote more about the Pharisees in his works of the 90s and allegedly declared his affiliation with them in the Life (§ 12) in order to repair his relations with the new Jewish leadership. This relationship had been seriously damaged, it was thought, by his allegedly treasonous Judean War, widely interpreted by scholars as a piece of Roman-Flavian propaganda. Josephus mentioned the Pharisees more often in the Antiquities-Life both to make amends with this group and perhaps also to commend the new Pharisaic-rabbinic leadership to some vaguely conceived “Roman authorities.” The influential scholars who sponsored this view were Morton Smith, Jacob Neusner, Harold Attridge, and Shaye Cohen, among others. The other part of the explanation as to how Josephus could have been a Pharisee but failed to support them, or even maligned them (e.g., at AJ 13.400-32; 17.41-45): he borrowed, with allegedly typical cloddishness, material that was actually alien to the position he was trying to assume.

    So until the 1980s, the standard views held that Josephus either really was or wanted to be seen as a Pharisee. This affiliation pre-empted other efforts to understand Josephus and his place in Judaism—or, as I would prefer to say, in Judean culture. Although scholars proposed a number of aspects of Josephus’s narratives that they considered consonant with his Pharisaic allegiance (such as belief in afterlife and judgment or concern for legal precision), these were all rather arbitrary and as easily explicable if he was not a Pharisee. The only positive evidence they could offer for Josephus’s Pharisaic allegiance was a paragraph in his autobiography: Life 10-12. In the following examination of that passage, I shall show that it cannot bear the weight that has traditionally been placed upon it.

    In the early sections of the Life, Josephus recounts his ancestry (1-6), youth and education (7-12). From section 10 he describes the final phase of his education, from age 15—corresponding to the highest level of Greek and Roman education, in rhetoric and/or philosophy. Josephus claims that he determined to gain expertise in each of the three “philosophical schools” that existed among the Judeans (not, contra Thackeray in the Loeb, “into which our nation is divided”). These schools, as he has often explained before (War 2.119-66; Ant. 13.171-73; 18.12-20), were those of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. He supposed that he would then be in a position to select the best (Life 10). But what scholars usually fail to notice is what comes next. He claims that, although he went through very tough training in all three schools, he did not find any of them adequate for him (Life 11). His search was unsatisfying and so he could not choose any of them. That is why, when he heard about a teacher who lived in the wilderness, leading an extremely tough and simple life, he sought out this man: Bannus. Only this reclusive figure fired his imagination and satisfied his yearning for truth and so he stayed with him three years, becoming his devoted follower (Life 11-12a).

    That much seems clear enough from Josephus’s account. What comes next has, I think, quite misled scholars. Josephus claims that after his long and satisfying stay with Bannus, when he was 18 he returned to the city (polis) and began to take part in public or civic affairs (politeuesthai), “deferring to [perhaps “following the example/lead of”] the school of the Pharisees.” What does this mean?
Most translators and interpreters have collapsed the two different Greek clauses—“began to take part in civic life”; “deferring to the school of the Pharisees”—as if it were a single clause, and is if the verb “take part in civic affairs” (politeuesthai) had to do not with Jerusalem’s affairs but with Josephus’s ordering of his own life. The result is that they translate the whole passage along these lines: “Being now in my nineteenth year I began to govern my life by the rules of the Pharisees” (Thackeray, in Loeb). And so they conclude: Josephus either became or wished his readers to think that he became a Pharisee. This conversion to Pharisaism was the conclusion of his original search for a philosophical school allegiance (Life 10).

    The problems with such a reading of the passage are, however, plentiful. First, as we have seen it ignores the context, according to which Josephus plainly says that his initial intention was not satisfied with any of the schools, but only with the unique wilderness-teacher Bannus, whose energetic imitator (zelotes) he became. It would make no sense for him to say now, innocently, “And so finally I became a Pharisee.” Second, that is not in fact what he says. When Josephus remarks that he began to politeuesthai, the Greek verb cannot plausibly mean “conduct my life according to the rules of . . . ” here. The primary meaning of the verb has to do with actions in the polis or city, thus: govern, enact policy, engage in public affairs. True, in some specific contexts in other writers it can be used metaphorically of one’s own life, as a kind of internal city to be governed, but that does not work here. In the first place, the verb comes in the sentence following Josephus’s statement that he returned to the polis, or city (of Jerusalem), and this must set the context for the activity in question. Second, in Josephus elsewhere, this verb always refers to public affairs: he does not show a tendency to use it figuratively, though of course he might have done so. Third, this passage in fact marks a transition in his life, from education (Life 7-12) to public affairs. The stories that follow immediately (his embassy to Rome in Life 13-16 and his mission to Galilee from Life 17) are major instances of his public life.

    All of this means that Josephus is not describing an internal conversion to Pharisaism, but rather his return to the city from the desert experience with Bannus, hence the redirection of his thinking from exotic philosophy to the realities of governing. Understood this way, the passage also fits precisely with the norms of Josephus’s time and place. Young Roman aristocrats too, such as Cicero in the late Roman Republic and Agricola in the early empire, had wandered off as youths to indulge their philosophical yearnings, until they exchanged such idealism or even fanaticism—tolerated in the young—for the roles in public life that would define their character and their true legacy. This is what Josephus is talking about. He is boasting of his youthful determination to seek out the most rigorous philosophical teacher (studying ancient philosophy frequently involved physical toughening and hardship) and his capacity to do without luxury or even comfort for long periods. But then he had the good sense to assume his rightful place in the aristocratic élite of Jerusalem at an appropriate age, for which he returned to the city.

    We ought to translate Life 12, then, somewhat as follows:

When I had lived with him three years and so satisfied my longing, I returned to the polis. Being now in my nineteenth year I began to involve myself in polis life, deferring to the philosophical school of the Pharisees, which is rather like the one called Stoic among the Greeks.

    Although this translation makes a crucial distinction between the main clause (getting involved in polis life) and the dependent clause (deferring to the school of the Pharisees), of course it still leaves the problem of what deference to the Pharisees means here. But that problem is not so difficult to solve, once we realize that the deference in question is a function of activity in public life. In Ant. 18.17, earlier in the same work (the Life was written as an appendix to the Antiquities; cf. Life 430), Josephus has claimed that anyone who takes up public office or government, even a Sadducee, must defer to “what the Pharisee says.” Otherwise he would not be tolerated by the masses, who, as Josephus has said elsewhere (Ant. 13.297-98, 400-32; 17.41-45), vigorously support the Pharisees. But this does not mean that Sadducees become Pharisees when they assume public office, and it does not mean that Josephus converted either. He is simply recalling the fact that his entry into public life (the main point in Life 12: his transition from education to civic affairs) required a certain deference to the Pharisees. This says nothing about his own school affiliation, if he had any after his youthful devotion to Bannus.

    Once we read the passage in this way, we realize that there is simply no basis, anywhere in Josephus’s narratives, for connecting him with the Pharisees. And once we abandon the effort to identify him as a Pharisee, we can place his other remarks about the Pharisees in a more adequate and illuminating context, as follows.

    Whenever Josephus gets a chance to describe himself, from the prologue of the War (1.1-3) through the Antiquities-Life (e.g., Life 1) to the Apion (1.1-50; 2.145-96), he consistently presents himself as a proud member of the hereditary élite in Judea formed by the priesthood. Every city or nation of the Mediterranean had its criteria for membership in the local ruling elite—subject ultimately to Roman domination, of course—and, as Josephus explains (Life 1), for Judeans membership in the priesthood was most important. He also claims a certain privilege within the priesthood. Although his ancestry is a bit difficult to work out chronologically, the historical problem is not nearly as important for understanding his self-representation as is his claim to élite status. Ever since Polybius at least, in the second century BCE, Greek-speaking political figures had wrestled with the problem of maintaining a meaningful status under Roman rule. Much as formerly great powers (e.g., Britain, France, and Germany) today debate the best way to preserve their dignity and national heritage in the face of American domination of world politics, so also local elites in the eastern Mediterranean talked much about the best way to ensure the welfare of their states: somewhere between servile capitulation to Rome, which would rob them of internal autonomy, and opposition to Rome, which might mean the complete loss of the state itself. Most often they tried to steer a middle course of self-respecting cooperation, as we see in Josephus’s near contemporaries Plutarch and Dio Chrysostom.

    This was the world in which Josephus also operated. He and his colleagues tried above all, he says, to preserve the peace and well-being of their state. When they saw the movement towards conflict with Rome quickly gaining popular support, and popular leaders emerging to lead the rebellion, they did everything in their power to stop it. On the one hand, they pleaded with the people to realize the folly of pursuing this action. On the other hand, they undertook missions to the well-connected King Agrippa II and the Roman governor of Syria to complain about their people’s treatment at the hands of governors, who seemed to be fanning the flames of revolt. All of this was standard, proper practice for aristocrats, who felt themselves inextricably tied to the welfare of their states.

    After the disastrous conclusion of the war, of course, Josephus moved to Rome and wrote up the history and culture of his people in thirty volumes (War: 7; Antiquities-Life: 21; Against Apion: 2). All of that effort, it is fair to say, was geared to enhancing the Judeans’ image after the war, though presumably not so much for the benefit of their true enemies (who would be unlikely to listen anyway) as for people in Rome who were already half-willing to listen, who had some admiration for the Jews in advance.

    How do the Pharisees figure in Josephus’s efforts to explain his people’s culture and history after the war? Let us take his compositions in turn.

    Josephus wrote the War, he says, to combat chauvinistic pro-Roman and anti-Jewish accounts of the conflict (War 1.1-3, 6-9), which had portrayed the Judeans as both a weak nation, deserted by their protective Deity at the time of need, and congenitally rebellious. Although Josephus’s War has usually been characterized as itself pro-Roman propaganda, because of its portraits of the Roman general-emperors’ courage and clemency and other virtues, nothing could be further from the reality of the text. Rather, Josephus sets out to undermine the current pro-Roman accounts. He does this in a number of ways, most obviously by stressing: the major mistakes made by Roman legions, their low morale, fear, risk-aversion, lack of discipline (contrary to reputation), and tactical blunders; the fearless tenacity of the irregular Judean soldiers, their spirit, daring, and contempt for death; his own brilliant generalship and clever ruses; and the Romans’ total reliance on the Judean God (contrary to common impressions) for their capture of Jerusalem. Although he does not, of course, voice any open criticism of the young general Titus who captured the city, Josephus completely denies him any credit for destroying the Judean city and temple, cleverly making Titus’s humanistic “clemency” a cover for what amounts to dreadfully incompetent generalship—in contrast, for example, to Josephus’s own! This is a pro-Judean account through and through.

    The Pharisees hardly figure in this account, and when they do they are inconsequential. They are completely absent from the heart of the narrative, concerning the war itself (books 3-7), turning up only in the preliminary history of books 1 and 2. They first appear in connection with Queen Alexandra Salome, in a passage where Josephus complains that she gave them far too much power because she was gullibly superstitious and they had a popular reputation for piety. Under her reign, therefore, they came to control domestic affairs more or less completely (1.110-14). In his portrait of King Herod, who appears in the War mainly as an excellent Roman ally—to make the point that Judeans have traditionally gotten along well with the Romans, as with all world powers—the Pharisees again appear briefly on the wrong side, with those who caused Herod domestic problems because of their popular influence (1.571). When Josephus comes to describe the three Judean “philosophical schools” (2.119-66), he gives by far the greatest weight to the Essenes (2.119-61), who embody many of the virtues he attributes to Judeans in general: simplicity, toughness, discipline, occult powers, acceptance of all world rulers, contempt for death, belief in post-mortem rewards and punishment. He even implies his own affinity with the group (2.157). After that loving description, he briefly contrasts Pharisees and Sadducees on some philosophical issues (2.162-66). All three schools appear, however, in stark contrast to the rebellious “school” founded by Judas the Galilean in 6 CE (2.118). So to a certain extent the Pharisees are validated here, with the Sadducees and especially the Essenes, for not being rebellious. Similarly in 2.411 their leaders appear with other members of the élite in the attempt to head off popular revolt. But that is the last time they appear in the 7-volume War: they are strictly background furniture in the opening scenes.

    In the final third of the Antiquities-Life the Pharisees appear much more frequently than in the War. Josephus’s magnum opus comprises, first, his effort to explain the origins, laws (or “constitution”), history, and culture of the Judeans to an apparently sympathetic gentile audience (1.10-12). This work in twenty volumes is followed by the celebration of his own public career and character as a member of the governing élite in the Life. The story is never an idealized one, however. He constantly plays off the noble aspirations and potential of the Judean constitution against the reality of human failings in Judean history. Indeed, it is the divinely authorized constitution that ensures the inevitable punishment of those who violate its terms (1.14, 20). Josephus thus describes both virtuous kings (who prospered) and wicked ones (who suffered), both distinguished high priests and others who brought the office into disrepute—hastening, he claims, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

    In this story, the Pharisees appear on both sides of the ledger. When he wants to compare Judean culture with that of the larger Greco-Roman world, Josephus can happily include them as one of the nation’s three philosophical schools alongside Sadducees and Essenes (13.171-73; 18.12-20). The three Judean schools roughly match the Stoics (Life 12), Epicureans (Ant. 10.277-78; 18.15-17), and Pythagoreans (Ant. 15.371). Of these groups, as in the War, it is the Pharisees who enjoy broad popular support because of their popular image. But Josephus is no democrat, as we have seen, and the fact that the Pharisees are immensely popular is no commendation for him. When he comes to describe the involvement of Pharisees in concrete events of Judean history, their influence is almost always disruptive.

    After they have been introduced neutrally as one of the three Judean philosophical schools (13.171-73), the Pharisees enter the narrative at the head of the popular opposition to the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus (ruled 135-104 BCE) and his sons, allegedly out of envy at their success (13.288). Notice Josephus’s language:

And particularly hostile to him were the Pharisees, who constitute one school among the Judeans, just as we have explained above. They have such influence with the mob that even if they say something against a king or a high priest they are immediately trusted.

    Since Hyrcanus was one of Josephus’s favorite figures in Judean history (e.g., 13.300-301), the Pharisees are plainly on the wrong side of history here. This is an important story because it marks the historic break between the Hasmoneans and the most popular school, with whom they had been in cooperation, a rupture that would have serious consequences for the reigns of Aristobulus (104 BCE) and especially Alexander Janneus (104-76 BCE). Alexandra Salome’s vigorous attempt to repair the breach resulted, in Josephus’s particular view of the world, in catastrophe for the Hasmonean house (13.431-32).

    Space does not permit a detailed analysis of these passages, but it seems obvious that throughout the entire Hasmonean narrative, in which Josephus has a considerable stake because of his claims to Hasmonean ancestry (Life 1-6), the Pharisees appear as demagogues: mainly non-aristocratic rabble-rousers who are quite capable of manipulating rulers because of their great influence. That is more or less what Josephus says of them, repeatedly (Ant. 13.288, 297-98, 400-402). He explains that the Pharisees recognized as authoritative a body of living tradition in addition to the laws of Moses, from “the fathers,” which the Sadducees did not accept. This tradition, perhaps to some extent because it alleviated the harsher prescriptions of the Bible in civil and criminal law (13.294), was extremely popular (13.297; 18.15, 17). It was, he says, John Hyrcanus’s abrogation of the Pharisees’ tradition as the basis of the legal system that led to massive popular opposition, which dogged Alexander Janneus’s occasionally violent reign. When Janneus died, his widow and successor Alexandra was compelled to reinstate those ordinances (13.408) and also to give a leading role to the Pharisees in her administration (13.400-406). Josephus describes their activities in the most censorious and disparaging language. Notice the difference from the parallel account in the War: it is no longer the case that Queen Alexandra was duped by the seemingly pious Pharisees. Rather, as a cunning politician she takes to heart her dying husband’s plan for salvaging the dynasty by cynically promoting the Pharisees.

    Josephus’s verdict on all of this is clear. He thinks that Alexandra sold out to those who did not have the interests of the hereditary priestly aristocracy, led by Hasmonean high priests, in view. Rather than appointing a strong high priest in her younger son Aristobulus II, she kept the much weaker Hyrcanus II in that office so that the Pharisees could run things, completely alienating the natural aristocratic circle around her husband and embittered younger son. The resulting conflict between her sons, their children, and their backers led to fateful Roman intervention. Josephus the priestly aristocrat and proud heir of the Hasmoneans (we need not press too hard the basis for this self-understanding) claims to regret all of this.

    In the same vein is the only other appearance of the Pharisees as a group in the Antiquities: when, in 17.41-45 some 6000 of them refuse an oath of allegiance to Herod. Once again Josephus explicitly mentions their great influence and the problems they could accordingly cause for a ruler (17.41). Although the figure of Herod in the Antiquities is much more ambiguous than his counterpart in the War—virtuous in many respects but fatally flawed by his willful pride and tyrannical tendencies—even still Josephus makes perfectly clear his assessment of the Pharisees as trouble-makers for those in power. The same thing is hinted at in the passage we considered above where, in describing the Sadducees, he notes that they must defer “to what the Pharisee says” whenever they assume public office (18.17).

    It is true that two men who turn out to be Pharisees are singled out for indirect praise in the Antiquities: members of the Jerusalem court who courageously opposed its capitulation to the young Herod, Samaias and Pollion. But the story is noteworthy for its confusion. At first Josephus praises only Samaias’s conduct (14.172-76) without mentioning a Pharisee connection. That connection comes into view only later, incidentally, when he names Samaias’s teacher Pollion as a Pharisee in retrospect (15.3-4).

    In Josephus’s own career Pharisees continued to play a disruptive role, and again their popular influence was a factor. Although his Life typically includes the leading Pharisees with the chief priests as men who were opposed to popular inclinations toward rebellion from Rome (Life 21; cf. War 2.411), individual Pharisees do not come off well in this account. Most significant is Simeon son of Gamaliel, a famous Jerusalem Pharisee from an illustrious family. Although Josephus concedes his social standing and even personal qualities (Life 191-92), he relates that this man was a close friend of his mortal enemy, John of Gischala, and in that context the great man was quite willing to resort to the most underhanded tactics in his efforts to remove Josephus from Galilee. These tactics included bribery of the other members of the war council, including the chief priests (and Josephus’s friends) Ananus and Jesus (Life 195-96). The outcome was that a four-man delegation was sent to replace Josephus by winning over the allegiance of his Galilean supporters (Life 196-98). Of the four, three were Pharisees, and Josephus devotes much of the middle section of the autobiography (Life 199-335) to exposing their allegedly nefarious—and ultimately unsuccessful—activities against him. All of this is in keeping with Josephus’s general characterization of Pharisees in his narrative, as men made powerful by their popular influence rather than by historic right. It may even be that Josephus’s personal conflict with leading Pharisees was what predisposed him to be so critical of their influence in earlier history. We can no longer determine such matters.

    As I have noted above, the Pharisees do not appear in Josephus’ final known writing concerning Judean antiquity, the Against Apion.

    In sum, then, the Pharisees are not of great interest to Josephus in his thirty volumes of writing. Certainly they do not have the central place of the priestly aristocracy, which is inextricably linked with the admirable Judean constitution throughout all his works. There is no evidence that he identified with the Pharisees in any way. On the contrary, in his world of values they appear on the wrong side entirely. They are for him popular teachers who have the confidence of the masses. But this is no recommendation. He is an unabashed elitist, who thinks that the hereditary priestly aristocracy are the ones properly charged with teaching and caring for the masses. As for many ancient writers, for Josephus the masses are a rudderless, impetuous mob that can be easily led by whoever makes the most convincing appeal to them. Josephus wishes that the aristocrats were always successful in managing their populace, but he willingly concedes that both in the context of war and otherwise, this has not always been the case.

    Although he is quite willing to acknowledge the Pharisees’ place within Judean culture as a “philosophical school,” the only preference Josephus exhibits among these groups is for the Essenes: their philosophy, disciplined way of life, and actual behavior in Judean history all earn his compliments—consistently. His glowing description of them in War 2.119-61 closely matches his portrait of general Judean values in Apion 2.146-96. Whenever the Pharisees, by contrast, appear as actors in the narrative, it is almost invariably to wield their influence for self-serving and socially disruptive ends. Josephus expresses a nearly consistent antipathy for all popular leaders or demagogues. John the Baptist [Ant. 18.111-14] is a curious exception, possibly because of his early death and Josephus’s desire to expose the sordid Herodian marriages involved. Whereas other such leaders come and go in the narrative, however, the Pharisees receive more of his venom because they have persevered as a group of popular leaders from Hasmonean times to his own.

    Once we abandon any connection between Josephus and the Pharisees, a number of benefits follow. Most importantly, we can read him with a new curiosity and openness, without the blinkers provided by a presumed religious or philosophical affiliation. We no longer need to say, when we read his accounts of afterlife and judgment, for example, that he must really mean something else (bodily resurrection), which he has Hellenized. When he talks about the “ancestral traditions” of the Judeans, we can now see that these are quite parallel to the ancestral traditions of other cultures and have nothing to do with the special “traditions of the fathers” recognized by the Pharisees only. In general, we find in Josephus a statesman very much like other statesmen of the Greek-speaking eastern Mediterranean, wrestling with the same sorts of questions in the same sort of language, trying to find a place for his people in a perilous world subject to Roman domination.

    It is perhaps natural to ask: If Josephus was not (and did not claim to be) a Pharisee, then what was he? To which group did he belong? To answer such a question we need first, however, to reject the old and invalid assumption that all ancient Judeans belonged to one of the three schools mentioned by Josephus. This assumption was the basis for much scholarly nonsense in the past—for example, identifying texts as Pharisaic or anti-Pharisaic, Sadducean, or even Essene (in the case of the Dead Sea Scrolls) because of certain statements in them viewed more less in isolation. This assumption presumably lay behind Thackeray’s rendering of Life 9, cited above: whereas Josephus speaks of the three schools “among us” (par’ hemin) Thackeray wrote of the sects into which “our nation is divided.” Since the work of Morton Smith and especially Jacob Neusner from the 1950s onward, we have come to realize that ancient Judean culture offered many sorts of “school” affiliation, whether with the dominant parties or with individual teachers (e.g., Bannus, John the Baptist, Jesus, Theudas), and also non-affiliation. There is no reason to assume that all or most Judeans, especially those of the aristocratic élite, had a particular school affiliation.

    Indeed, in the larger Greco-Roman world with which Josephus so consistently compares his own culture, it would have been remarkable to find a public leader expressing devotion to one single philosophical school. As we have seen, it was considered praiseworthy for a man to learn something of all the major philosophies, to have a philosophical perspective that would serve him well in handling the vicissitudes of life. He should know a basic philosophical vocabulary and try to live as philosophers recommended, which is to say simply, with dignity, fearlessly, and without need of luxury or favor. Josephus illustrates this model when he parades his youthful philosophical preparation. But ongoing devotion to one school smacked of fanaticism and would therefore be deeply suspect in a mature man who was active in public life. True to form, Josephus presents himself as just such a man, the embodiment of his people, free from any zealous devotion to one school.