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Flavius Josephus (b. 37 ad)


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An atheist or unbeliever in the Torah. The name epikoros is obviously derived from that of Epicurus, yet the term is used in the Rabbinic literature without reference to Epicurus. Josephus, on the other hand, does apply the term to the followers of Epicurus, writing that: ‘the Epicureans exclude Providence from human life and refuse to believe that God governs its affairs or that the universe is directed by a blessed and immortal Being to the end that the whole of it may endure, but say that the world runs by its own movement without knowing a guide or another's care’ (Antiquities 10. 11. 7). The term has thus had a chequered history but in the Middle Ages and onwards it was used in various senses and eventually became a general term of opprobrium to denote anyone guilty of entertaining heretical opinions.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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