Josephus—The Jewish WarGaalya Cornfeld, general editor; Benjamin Mazar, Paul L. Maier, consulting editors (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1982) 526 pp., $39.95
No ancient event of limited duration has been better documented—often on a day-today basis—than the Jewish war against Rome from 66 to 74. This phenomenon is the result almost solely of Josephus’s classic account of what scholars call the First Jewish Revolt (distinguishing it from the second Jewish Revolt against Rome of 115 to 117 and the third Jewish Revolt of 132 to 135 led by Bar Kokhba).
The present translation of Josephus’s The Jewish War is the eighth into English. William Whiston’s translation of Josephus’s complete works was finished in 1737. I have counted 217 reprintings of this translation alone, an average of almost one per year. In Whiston’s translation, Josephus’s works have occupied a place on the shelf of the literate English-speaking public between the Hebrew Scriptures, on the one hand, and the New Testament, on the other; most of the events described by him cover precisely this interval.
The earliest book by a Jewish author printed in America, other than the Bible, was Sir Roger L’Estrange’s translation of The Jewish War, published in Boston in 1719. The second book published in America by a Jew was a translation of Josippon, a Hebrew paraphrase of Josephus’s The Jewish War, by Peter Morwyne, (which was dared 1718 but was actually printed in 1722).