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Jewish Studies Lecture, October 16: “Josephus’ Revision of the History of Israel”


Stuart Robertson, Lecturer of Hebrew in the School of Languages and Cultures at Purdue University will present “Israel’s Third Historian: Josephus’ Revision of the History of Israel” on Wednesday, October 16 ~ Stewart Center, Room 313 ~ 12:30.

Stuart Robertson has taught at Purdue since 1987 when he was invited to teach Church history in the history department. Then he was invited by the Jewish Studies Program to teach biblical Hebrew in 1999. Since 2007 he has taught, besides four semesters of Hebrew, courses on the formation of the Bible and its early interpreters, on the “evolution of the Bible and its revolutionary effects,” first year Latin, and now he teaches a section of the Cornerstone project. Hence he is a “crack filler” at Purdue. This lecture exposes some thoughts gleaned from his researches in writing a book on Josephus’ retelling of biblical and Jewish history in his great work, “The Antiquities of the Jews.”

Josephus followed the tradition of writing the history of his people in the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the creation of the world. The Hebrew Bible only tells the story up to the defeat of the Jewish people by the Babylonians in 587 and the construction of a smaller second temple at the kindness of the Persian King Cyrus. Josephus brought this story up to date until the second Temple, made grand by King Herod, was destroyed in 70 CE. In my talk today, I will propose what Josephus’ purpose was, why he altered some things and omitted some things, and made interpretations along the way. Thus he showed how saturated he was in the sacred scriptures of his people, and how he thought some particular moments in this story should be properly understood. He wrote all this in Rome after having been taken there as a captive after being defeated in a spirited battle by the general Vespasian who soon after became emperor of Rome.
All members of the Purdue University community and the public are cordially invited to attend this free event offered by the Jewish Studies Program.

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