Josephus Flavius

Josephus Flavius both participated in and wrote the history of the Jewish interaction with Rome.

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No historian can write a truly objective account; how much the more so when the author of the history is also its subject. Certainly, Josephus' various works reflect not only his personal bias but also his concern to defend the reputation of his Roman patrons (in JW) and of the Jewish people (in AJ and AA). Josephus’ accounts certainly provide a more entertaining read than some of the more "objective" modern histories that retell their own, sober versions of Josephus' narrative. Although wading through Josephus' bias is a challenge, it is precisely his vanity and his self-righteousness that makes his histories such fun.

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Jeffrey Spitzer is Chair of the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics at Gann Academy, The New Jewish High School, Waltham, Mass., and a member of the Institute's Tichon Fellows Program.