Reading Josephus' "Prophetic" Inspiration in the Cave of Jotapata (War 3.351-354) in Roman Context

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Abstract

This article offers a literary analysis of the famous episode in Judaean War 3.351–354, in which Josephus suddenly recalls his “nightly dreams.” It takes up the question of how Josephus characterizes himself in this episode in consideration of an elite audience located in Rome steeped in Graeco-Roman learning. In explaining this episode, scholars have put special emphasis on parallels with discourses of Judaean prophecy and biblical prophets, such as Jeremiah and Daniel. The hypothesis that Josephus consciously presents himself as a prophet has found widespread acceptance and grown to become almost undisputable since the 1970s. In addition to challenging the view that Josephus explicitly and deliberately presents himself as a biblical prophet, the present contribution develops an interpretation that considers the historiographical outlook of the whole War as a military-political composition imbued with classicizing features.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Flavius Josephus
  • Jewish War
  • Prophecy
  • Graeco-Roman historiography
  • self-characterization
  • rhetoric

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