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Josephus, Flavius (AD 37–c.100)

  1. L. David McClister

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1585

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

McClister, L. D. 2011. Josephus, Flavius (AD 37–c.100). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Josephus (Jewish name, Joseph ben Matthias) was a Jewish historian of the 1st century ad, of Hasmonean and priestly descent, who grew up in Palestine. During his formative years, he investigated the Jewish sects and finally decided upon membership with the Pharisees. At the age of 26, he participated in a delegation to Rome to petition for the release of some Jewish priests whom the Judean procurator Felix had sent for trial there. The First Jewish War erupted shortly after his return to Palestine, and the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem dispatched Josephus to oversee the defense of Galilee, where he was opposed by rivals, especially Justus of Tiberias and John of Gischala. Josephus came into Roman hands when the town he was defending, Jotapata, fell to Vespasian in ad 67. Once in Roman custody, Josephus predicted that both Vespasian and Titus would become emperors and thus won their favor. He accompanied the Roman forces to Jerusalem where he witnessed the fall of the city in ad 70, and after that he was taken to Rome, granted citizenship, and wrote several literary works. His Roman name, Flavius Josephus, reflects the acquisition of his citizenship from the Flavian house. Virtually nothing is known of his life in Rome.


  • Josephus, Flavius (AD 37–c.100);
  • jewish war (bellum judaicum);
  • against apion (contra apionem)