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Critique and Apologetics

Jews, Christians and Pagans in Antiquity


Edited By Jörg Ulrich, David Brakke and Anders-Christian Jacobsen

This book contains 13 contributions from an international conference held in 2007. The idea of the conference was to investigate the confrontations and the cultural, philosophical and religious exchange between different religious groups in antiquity and to establish a more comprehensive theory about what apologetics was considered to be both in the context of antiquity and from the perspective of modern scholarship: is it possible to define a literary genre called apologetics? Is it possible to talk about apologetics as a certain kind of discourse which is not limited to a special kind of texts? Which argumentative strategies are implied in apologetic discourses? The essays in this volume present a new approach to these questions.


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Josephus' Contra Apionem as Jewish Apologetics 265


Josephus' Contra Apionem as Jewish Apologetics John M.G. Barclay Josephus' treatise Contra Apionem is the only full extant treatise from ancient Judaism in the apologetic genre (which I will define below), and is one of the most interesting examples of apologetic seif-representation from antiquity.1 None of our Jewish evidence of- fers more than partial and fragmentary parallels to this treatise, so it is largely impossible to trace antecedents and developments in Jewish apologetics before this point (90s of the first century CE). But Contra Apionem more than makes up for this lack: here we have a rieh source, entertaining, multi-faceted, intelligent, rhetorically skilful, and almost paradigmatic of the apologetic phenomenon, with all its complexities and ideological possibilities. In this essay I will attempt to accomplish three tasks. First, I will discuss how and, by what definition, the text can be considered an 'apology' in its rhetorical or literary genre. Secondly, I will make brief remarks an parallels in Greek and Roman antiquity, before, thirdly, explor- ing Josephus' apologetic strategies, which are fine exemplars of the intellectual work required by effective apologetics in any age. 1. Contra Apionem as Apology A brief survey of the text indicates that Josephus has packaged his diverse material in a form dominated by the mode of 'response' to criticisms, accusations and slanders.2 In the introduction (1.1-5), par- ' For full discussion see my commentary, J.M.G. Barclay, Flavius Josephus. Transla- tion and Commentary. Vol. 10. Against Apion, Leiden 2006. 2 I designate the structure of the...

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