Displaying an Authoritative Testimony: On the Use of Flavius Josephus by Isho‘dad of Merv. Silvia Castelli
Displaying an Authoritative Testimony: On the Use of Flavius Josephus by Isho‘dad of Merv Silvia Castelli In his essay Rezeptionsgeschichtliche und textkritische Untersuchungen zu Flavius Josephus (1977), Heinz Schreckenberg devoted few pages to the Orien- tal tradition in Syriac and Arabic,1 focusing specifically on the testimonium fla- vianum. Leaving aside the famous Josephan passage on Jesus, in this paper I would like to draw my attention to the use of Josephus by the ninth-century East Syrian bishop Isho‘dad of Merv. I will first set the context of the use of Josephus in Medieval Syriac Literature; then consider where, in what way and for which reasons Isho‘dad made use of Josephan material, specifically in his commen- taries on the Pentateuch and on the Gospel of Matthew; finally, through the re- ference to it in Isho‘dad, I shall turn to a feature peculiar to the Syriac tradition, the recurrent identification of Flavius Josephus with Caiaphas, the high priest.2 The Context: Josephus in Early Syriac Literature Several non-biblical and secular Greek works have been translated within Syriac circles since the fourth century. The writings of the Church Fathers, Eusebius in primis, were the first among these, because of their biblical interest.3 Other works, especially those related to the spheres of Aristotelian philosophy and medicine and subjects such as zoology, botany, meteorology, geography and mathematics, have also found their way into Syriac literature through transla- tions: in a few cases, it is the Syriac alone that has preserved works...
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