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Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism$
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Jonathan Klawans

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199928613

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199928613.001.0001

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Josephus and Judaism after 70 CE

Josephus and Judaism after 70 CE

(p.180) 5 Josephus and Judaism after 70 CE
Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism

Jonathan Klawans

Oxford University Press

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

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