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«Edited by Mladen Popović LEIDEN • BOSTON © 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV CONTENTS List of Figures and Tables Preface List of Contributors The Jewish ...»

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The Jewish Revolt against Rome

Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Edited by

Mladen Popović


© 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV


List of Figures and Tables


List of Contributors

The Jewish Revolt against Rome: History, Sources

and Perspectives

Mladen Popović

Provincial Revolts in the Early Roman Empire

Greg Woolf

Die römischen Repräsentanten in Judaea: Provokateure

oder Vertreter der römischen Macht?

Werner Eck Identity Politics in Early Roman Galilee

Andrea M. Berlin Not Greeks but Romans: Changing Expectations for the Eschatological War in the War Texts from Qumran.............. 107 Brian Schultz Going to War against Rome: The Motivation of the Jewish Rebels

James S. McLaren What is History? Using Josephus for the JudaeanRoman War

Steve Mason

Rebellion under Herod the Great and Archelaus:

Prominent Motifs and Narrative Function

Jan Willem van Henten © 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV vi contents Josephus, the Herodians, and the Jewish War

Julia Wilker Josephus on Albinus: The Eve of Catastrophe in Changing Retrospect

Daniel R. Schwartz Philosophia epeisaktos: Some Notes on Josephus, A.J. 18.9....... 311 Pieter W. van der Horst Who Were the Sicarii?

Uriel Rappaport A Reconsideration of Josephus’ Testimony about Masada

Jodi Magness

Coinage of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome:

Iconography, Minting Authority, Metallurgy

Robert Deutsch Identifying the Mints, Minters and Meanings of the First Jewish Revolt Coins

Donald T. Ariel The Jewish Population of Jerusalem from the First

Century b.c.e. to the Early Second Century c.e.:

The Epigraphic Record

Jonathan J. Price

The Jewish War and the Roman Civil War of 68–69 c.e.:

Jewish, Pagan, and Christian Perspectives

George H. van Kooten Index of Modern Authors

Index of Ancient Sources

–  –  –


1. The Paneion (Sanctuary of Pan)

2. The ancient Israelite high place at Tel Dan

3. The Zoilus inscription found in the High Place at Tel Dan

4. Open-air sanctuary of Mizpe Yammim, eastern upper Galilee

5. Bowls and saucers made in coastal workshops

6. Casserole made in Akko

7. Serving and perfume vessels made in Tyre

8. Oil lamps made in Tyre

9. Wine amphora from Rhodes

10. Black-slipped bowls made in northern Phoenicia................ 83

11. Red-slipped plates and cups made in northern Phoenicia

12. Cooking pots from Gamla, first century b.c.e.

13. Storage jars from Gamla, first century b.c.e.

14. Tel Anafa, view of courtyard villa, looking north

15. Pottery of the first century b.c.e. from one room of a house at Gamla

16. Bathtub inside neighborhood bathhouse at Gamla, first century b.c.e.

17. Miqveh inside neighborhood bathhouse at Gamla, first century b.c.e.

18. Plain unadorned lamps typical of the first century c.e.

19. Nozzles from plain, unadorned lamps typical of the first century c.e.

20. The synagogue at Gamla, dating to the first century c.e.

21. Roman temple at Horbat Omrit, view of stylobate

–  –  –

22. Roman temple at Horbat Omrit, view of front steps

23. Coin of Herod Philip

Deutsch Figures

1. Reverse of a silver shekel of Israel

2. Obverse of a silver shekel of Israel

3a–b. Bronze prutah of the first year

–  –  –


1. Differences in Iconography

2. Differences in Terms Used in Inscriptions

3. Differences in Dating Conventions

4. Differences in Epigraphy

5. Differences in Denominations

6. Differences in Technology

7. First Jewish Revolt Coins: Summary of Minters and Minting Places

–  –  –

Methodology in this general or pure part is in point of fact almost wholly neglected by historians. They live in this respect from hand to mouth, and on the rare occasions when they start thinking about the subject they are apt to conclude that all historical thought is logically indefensible, though they sometimes add a saving clause to the effect that they personally can interpret evidence pretty well because they have a mysterious intuitive flair for the truth, a kind of δαιμονίον σήμειον which informs them when their authorities are telling lies.1 Around the middle of the first century c.e. conflicts in southern Syria erupted in widespread and lethal violence. After various unsuccessful attempts to calm the situation, a large Roman-led military force invaded Judaea, eventually besieging and destroying the mother-city Jerusalem with its world-famous temple. Of this much we are confident because many independent lines of literary and material evidence would be inexplicable otherwise. But the hundreds of thousands of persons involved in the growing conflict, on all sides, each had an incalculable number of experiences, thoughts, feelings, and interactions. This we know by analogy: they were human beings, and so must have had thoughts, feelings, and interactions. Some few of them played significant roles in the events. If we think only of the most prominent— the emperor Nero and his advisors, the senatorial legate(s) based in northern Syria, the equestrian governors in the south, Jerusalem’s aristocracy with its many members and differences, the leaders of the coastal and Decapolis cities around Judaea, the Samarian leadership, the councils, village elders, and prominent individuals in Galilee, Peraea, and the Golan, the Roman commanders and senior military staff, and members of the royal family descended from Herod—we realize R. G. Collingwood, Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1926) in The Idea of History (rev. ed.; ed. J. van der Dussen; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 389.

Either Collingwood in hurriedly penning his lecture notes (he wrote the series in five days) or his editor guessed the accents incorrectly. His allusion is to Plato’s “otherworldly sign” (δαιμόνιον σημεῖον), the inner pilot that kept Socrates acting in true character (Resp. 6.496c; Euthyd. 272e; Phaedr. 242b).

© 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV156 steve mason

that each must have had relationships among their own kind and with those they governed, commanded, or served. As what turned out to be “the revolt” was taking shape, all of these figures acted in certain ways, making decisions week by week and day by day, motivated by roughly the same mixes of ideology, social standing and connections, ambition, anger, and fear that have always motivated people.

Without knowing anything more than this, which we may posit without historical investigation, we know that untold myriads of things happened in this region from, say, 65 to 74 c.e. Whatever was said, done, and thought by all of these players—and by the ordinary inhabitants of the area—was real life then and there.

Against this chaos of human interaction, fundamental questions facing the historian include these: What are our aims in undertaking a history of this war? Of those uncountable events, which ones are suitable targets for historical study, and on what criteria? How should

we go about investigating them? What sorts of evidence do we have:

in each case what is the nature of the thing and why do we have it still today? How sure can we be of our results, on particular points and in our larger portraits? What language and categories should we use in our efforts at description: what combination of ours and theirs, for which kinds of things? What is the relationship between the historical past, which we generate by investigation, and the actual lived reality two millennia ago?

My general thesis is that the different views of history held by those of us who study Roman Judaea is a sizable but mostly neglected problem. In other explorations of the Roman Empire, in spite of many differences of perspective among investigators, the methodological situation seems a bit clearer, even as conclusions are less tightly embraced. Lacking narratives comparable to those of Josephus, historians of Roman Africa, Asia Minor, Spain, Britain, or Arabia are in a mostly shared predicament, which they recognize from the outset. With little hope of recovering many specific events, causes, and motives from a given week, month, year, or decade, many prefer to stay with the kinds of social, economic, and demographic history that can draw from evidence over long periods and different sites: l’histoire de la longue durée.2 One excellent example of many is R. Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

–  –  –

In the case of Judaea, Josephus’ detailed narratives and essays in thirty volumes, which include seven substantial books on the war and its contexts, tantalize us with the lure of a different approach. Along with Josephus, of course, we have a treasury of other post-biblical literature including the Qumran Scrolls. Intensive archaeology in Israel and Palestine has turned up spectacular sites, small finds, and inscriptions. Much of this material is still being discovered, classified, and interpreted. Still, because most post-biblical literature is intramural and assumes rather than explains its context, while the archaeological finds illuminate moments in the stratigraphy of a site but not usually political motives or the meaning of events, Josephus continues to provide the interpretative spine for the period from about 200 b.c.e. to 75 c.e., when his narrative ends.

Because we have this uniquely rich resource in Josephus, it is a nearly overwhelming temptation to lean on it, to begin our study of anything he mentions by looking first to his account and asking: How reliable is it? This orientation need not entail the naive quotation of Josephus as historical fact, though that has been the most common way of writing Judaean history, and it continues unimpeded in popular works.3 Josephus-dependence might take the form of more critical exercises, such as trying to extract his sources (as though undigested) or setting logical traps to shake loose low-hanging factual fruit from his narrative tree, even if that tree is admitted to be nourished by his “apologetic” concerns. Josephus-dependence might even take the form of a systematic mistrust or rejection of Josephus in principle, coupled with the attempt to rescue from his tendentious presentation the supposedly uncomfortable truths that he mentioned in spite of himself.

But however we do it in fine, when we take any of these approaches we still treat Josephus’ writing as our authority, map, or guide. We begin our investigation with his narratives and try to find some way of converting them (if we cannot simply accept them) into a mirror of the lived past.

I shall argue that such dependence on any ancient text cannot be justified by a defensible historical method, let alone in view of the particular nature of Josephus’ narratives, and that clinging to this approach severely handicaps our conception of history, our procedures, and therefore our results. Our good fortune in having Josephus does not E.g., D. Seward, Jerusalem’s Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea (Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo, 2009).

–  –  –

change the basic conditions of historical research, which require that we treat his works the same way we handle other, less comprehensive ancient accounts. That he wrote elaborate histories makes no difference to the essential historical predicament, which we have also where Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, or Tacitus is our main guide.

My paper has two parts. In the first I outline a method that, though basic and not pretending to solve perennial problems in the philosophy of history,4 seems appropriate to the study of a war such as this. This part may strike some readers as trite or naive, others as supercilious in an essay offered to professional colleagues. Such readers may prefer to move directly to Part II. I include the first part because of the great variety of approaches in the study of Judaean history, literature, and archaeology. That diversity attaches different meanings to such terms as history/historical, the past, accuracy, reliability, facts, hypotheses, objectivity, and probability. I hope to offer some useful reflections on these matters, both for their own sake and as a basis for the second part. There I consider two episodes in the Judaean-Roman War: the campaign of Cestius Gallus in late 66 c.e. and Titus’ destruction of the temple.5 For the limited purposes of this essay, my aim there is only to illustrate how our approach to history produces a particular kind of research problem, investigation, and results.

Part I. What is History? Towards a Model

In asking about the nature of history I do not mean to suggest that the question can be answered succinctly, certainly not to the satisfaction of every historian. Within a History department of any size, such as my own, the differences of practice according to period and chronological span, geographical area, and tools deemed appropriate for each area, from quantitative to documentary to archaeological to literary study, are daunting. Another sort of problem is the widespread mistrust of claims to historical knowledge in other bays and inlets of the humanities, where history may be regarded as only the addition of yet more These continue to be debated in, for example, the journal History and Theory published by Wesleyan University.

Each receives a chapter, as do the Galilean campaign and the capture of the desert fortresses, in my forthcoming book, The Judaean-Roman War of 66 to 74 c.e.: An Inquiry (Cambridge University Press).

© 2012 Koninklijke Brill NV what is history? 159

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