Josephus and Judaism after 70 CE

Jonathan Klawans

in Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199928613
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980567 | DOI:
Josephus and Judaism after 70 CE

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This chapter begins by considering a commonly held view that Judaism was shattered—theologically and otherwise—by the destruction of the second temple. It is argued that this common view problematically imposes on the past a common view of the present—namely, that traditional Jewish theology has shattered in the wake of the Holocaust. This view also involves overlooking or downplaying the works of Josephus, which constitute our earliest thorough response to temple’s destruction. The post 70 situation is then reconsidered by carefully comparing Josephus’s own response to the destruction with the later rabbinic one. Like the later rabbis, Josephus too quickly came to understand the destruction of the second temple as an expression of divine punishment for the people’s sins, following biblical precedents. As such, there remained hope for an eventual reversal, just as the second temple was built after the fall of the first. Although these views are articulated by Josephus and the later rabbis, this chapter concludes by arguing that Sadducees and Essenes could have upheld similar views, following the same biblical precedents. It should not be assumed, therefore, that Essene or Sadducean theology could not explain 70 CE either.

Keywords: Destruction of the Temple; sectarianism; Jewish; theodicy; covenant; atonement; apocalyptic; plausibility structures

Chapter.  12961 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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