Josephus, Flavius (AD 37-95)
Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37-95), Jewish historian who turned Roman and became a friend of several emperors. His two most renowned works are The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, both favorite readings in Protestant circles. The Jewish War contains a detailed description of the War between the Jews and Romans AD 66-70 as seen from the Roman camp, in particular the story of the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, of which Josephus had been an eyewitness. The book was translated into German and Dutch rather early in the 16th century and seems to have been widely studied. Bible-oriented Anabaptists naturally were eager to learn all about the prophesied fall of the great city, as well as about the life of the Jews before and after Christ's earthly career. Thus Josephus became as popular as a devotional reader among Anabaptists and Mennonites as Eusebius.
In a Hutterite codex of 1592 (now Bratislava City Library, Msc, no. 10, formerly Bratislava no. 215, with Beck Cod. XIV) there is a hymn entitled: "Von der Zerstorung der Stadt Jerusalem, aus Josephus, dem Geschichtsschreiber, reimweis gestellt durch Hans Rogolin." No Rogolin is known, but only a hymnwriter Rogel, one of whose hymns is found in the Ausbund, Most likely it is this Rogel, a schoolteacher of Augsburg, who composed this hymn. How it came into a Hutterite codex is not known.
The other instance of use of Josephus is Schabaelje's well-known book Wandelnde Seele (1635), a devotional reader composed of three interviews of the wandering soul through the ages. The third and last interview is with a certain Simon Cleophas, an eyewitness of the fall of Jerusalem. Obviously the material for this imagined interview was taken from Josephus. The popularity of this book was instrumental in making Josephus' story widely known among the Dutch and later German Mennonites. Modern Hutterites also read Josephus, as this writer found upon visiting their homes.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1098-1099. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Friedmann, Robert. "Josephus, Flavius (AD 37-95)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/josephus_flavius_a.d._37_95.
APA style: Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Josephus, Flavius (AD 37-95). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/josephus_flavius_a.d._37_95.