The New Complete Works of Josephus. Revised and expanded edition
By Paul L. Maier
Reviewed by Dr. William Barrick
13.2 (Fall 2002) : 289-290
William Whiston (1667-1752) published his translation of Josephus’ works in 1737 and it has been reprinted some 220 times. Its various defects have not severely damaged its continuing serviceability (15-16). Like Josephus’ historical contributions themselves, the defects are outweighed by its merits. As Maier points out in his “Introduction,” the Loeb Classical Library edition of Josephus with translation by H. St. John Thackeray, Ralph Marcus, and Louis H. Feldman is the best edition available (16). However, it is also expensive, costing about $200 even when discounted.
This edition of Josephus’ works is a cleanly typeset, inexpensive edition with illustrations, charts, maps, and commentary. It also includes an index of the “Texts of the Old Testament Parallel to Josephus’ Histories” (1101-6), a “Harmony of the Numbering Systems in the Greek and English Editions of the Works of Flavius Josephus” prepared by Neal Windham (1107-14), a general subject index (1115-42), and an “Index of Photographs, Illustrations, and Maps” (1143). Paul L. Maier has inserted nineteen strategically placed comments that are extremely helpful in understanding Josephus’ text and its contributions (59, 79, 95, 119, 188, 200, 264, 295, 322, 345, 370-71, 385, 453, 491, 567, 662-63, 842, 870-71, 908). How valuable is Josephus? Maier responds,
For excavations at Jerusalem, the Herodian fortresses, Jericho, Samaria-Sebaste, Caesarea, Antipatris, Gamala, and elsewhere, Josephus’s works are a guide for where to dig as well as a standard reference for evaluating the results of the dig—so closely is Josephus’s prose confirmed by the hard evidence of archaeology (908).
Josephus’ works in this edition include “Jewish Antiquities” (45-661), “The Jewish War or The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem” (665-936), “Against Apion” (937-81), and “An Extract Out of Josephus’ Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades” (983-85). Whiston’s “The Life of Flavius Josephus” (17-44), seven dissertations (987-1086), “Table of the Jewish Weights and Measures” (1087- 92), and “A List of Ancient Testimonies and Records” (1093-99) round out the volume.
Paul L. Maier is the Russell H. Seibert professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. He was named “Professor of the Year” in 1984 as one of America’s twenty-five finest educators. He is translator and editor of Josephus: The Essential Works (Kregel, 1994), translator of Josephus: The Essential Writings (Kregel, 1990) and Eusebius: The Church History (Kregel, 1999), as well as author of In the Fullness of Time (HarperCollins, 199 1), Pontius Pilate (Kregel, 1996), and The Flames of Rome (Kregel, 1991).
For the amateur and scholar alike, all students of the Bible and the history of the ancient Near East will find this edition of Josephus’ works a handy tool. As a Bible college student nearly forty years ago, this reviewer purchased his first copy of Whiston’s translation of Josephus. The volume was part of a fire sale. It was a smoke-damaged hardback of the 1914 S.S. Scranton edition and has provided many hours of wonderful armchair excursions into the world of the Bible. Now this Kregel edition sits on the shelf alongside it. The next time this reviewer goes to Jericho, and whenever he has the opportunity to visit Gamala, it will go with him.