Josephus in Modern Jewish Culture

The cover features the title page of Kalman Schulman’s Sefer Toldot Yosef (Life of Joseph), Vilna, 1859. Schulman’s translations of Josephus’s works into Hebrew form a key step in the reception of Josephus in the 19th century.

This volume, edited by Dr Andrea Schatz (Leiden: Brill, 2019, xii + 360 pp.) traces for the first time from a variety of angles how the modern Jewish reception of Josephus’s life and work took shape.

The contributions by scholars from Europe, Israel, the UK and the United States explore the remarkable continuities, contrasts, and turns that characterize the reception of the ancient historian and his work among modern Jews.

Josephus was nearly omnipresent in modern Jewish culture: he was re-read and re-imagined as a companion for modern times among proponents of the Jewish Enlightenment, Wissenschaft des Judentums, the Reform movement, Modern Orthodoxy, socialism and Zionism, in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, in the Yishuv, and in the United States. The chapters of the volume – read on their own or in conjunction with each other – demonstrate that Josephus’s work could divide opinions and intensify divisions while also providing space for debates that reveal unexpected connections and affinities between individuals and groups that otherwise preferred to disagree with each other.

Throughout the volume it is apparent that Josephus remained important to modern Jews because of (rather than in spite of) the irresolvable complexities and ambiguities of his life and work.

The volume will be relevant for scholars and students of Jewish Studies, Jewish-Christian relations, History, Classics, Modern Literature and Reception Studies. It also addresses a wider public whose interest in Josephus continues to be stimulated by the image and site of Masada and by wider debates on history, memory, nation, and diaspora.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: Reading and Re-writing Josephus for Modern Times
    Andrea Schatz
  • Josephus in Early Modern Jewish Thought from Menasseh to Spinoza
    Jacob Abolafia
  • Hidden Polemic: Josephus’s Work in the Historical Writings of Jacques Basnage and Menaḥem Amelander
    Bart Wallet
  • A Tradition in the Plural: Reframing Sefer Yosippon for Modern Times
    Andrea Schatz
  • The “Maskil Hero”: The Image of Josephus in the Worldview of the Jewish Enlightenment
    Yotam Cohen
  • Josephus and the Jewish Chronicle: 1841–1855
    Sarah Pearce
  • Kalman Schulman’s Josephus and the Counter-History of the Haskalah
    Shmuel Feiner
  • Kalman Schulman’s Hebrew Translation of Josephus’s Jewish War
    Lily Kahn
  • In the Shadow of Napoleon: The Reception of Josephus in the Writings of Jost, Salvador and Graetz
    Marcus Pyka
  • Dismantling Orientalist Fantasies and Protestant Hegemony: German Jewish Exegetes and Their Retrieval of Josephus the Jew
    Alexandra Zirkle
  • Can’t Live with Him, Can’t Live without Him: Josephus in the Orthodox Historiography of Isaac Halevy and Ze’ev Yavetz
    Eliezer Sariel
  • Josephus through the Eyes of Zvi Hirsch Masliansky (1856–1943): Between Eastern Europe, the USA and Eretz Yisra’el
    Tessa Rajak
  • Taking Josephus Personally: The Curious Case of Emanuel Bin Gorion
    Orr Scharf
  • ‘Flavius’ on Trial in Mandate Palestine, 1932–1945: Natan Bistritzky’s Hebrew Play and Lion Feuchtwanger’s German Trilogy
    Yael S. Feldman
  • Reading and Interpreting Flavius Josephus in the Vilna and Warsaw Ghettos (1941–1943)
    Shifra Sznol

For further details, please follow these links:

You may also contact Dr Andrea Schatz: