By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Life of Josephus, Part 4

In the next two paragraphs (8 and 9) of The Life of Flavius Josephus, we find that Josephus and his companions have arrived in Galilee. They found the people of the village of Sepphoris miserable because the Galileans were planning to attack them because they (Sepphoris) were friends with the Romans and with Syria. Apparently, Josephus was able to smooth that over, at least for the time being.

Josephus then went to Tiberius and found there three factions in that city. The first was composed of, as Josephus says, "men of worth and gravity." They were led by Julius Capellus. This group wanted to continue in their allegiance to Rome. There was in this group a man named Pistus who disagreed because he was guided by his son Justus, of whom we will hear more in a moment.

The second faction was composed of "the most ignoble persons." They wanted to go to war.

Justus, mentioned above, was leader of the third group. Josephus says that "he pretended to be doubtful about going to war, yet was he really desirous of innovation." Josephus says that Justus expected to gain power for himself if they rebelled. One point that Justus used to stir up the people of Tiberias was that they had been the capital of Galilee, with the royal treasury and the archives, but that now Sepphoris was the capital, having ingratiated itself with Rome.

Apparently, Justus was an educated man and a persuasive speaker. He persuaded some in Tiberius to take up arms and others he forced to. They "set the villages that belonged to Gadara and Hippos on fire," which were near Tiberias and Scythopolis.

In paragraph 10, we meet John, the son of Levi, in Gischala, a village. John did his best to keep his people from rebelling against Rome, but the neighboring villages of Gadara, Gabara, and Sogana, and the Tyrians combined into an army and destroyed Gischala. John took up arms then and afterward rebuilt Gischala and fortified it.

We'll stop there because the next paragraph is very long and will probably get its own post. This post shows how much of an uproar Galilee was in when Josephus arrived, with opposing factions and jealousies and resentments among the villages. It would appear to me that it was not just a rebellion against Rome, but was, with men like Justus, an excuse to stir things up and perhaps gain power out of the situation.

Some of this is confusing because of all the people named and the villages and regions named. Israel was a small country with small villages all over and some larger towns and cities. It wasn't that far from one end of the country to the other, or from side to side, so it's not difficult to imagine that news traveled fairly quickly. Therefore, I can imagine everyone getting involved in the question of whether or not to rebel.

(Link to Part 3)

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Life of Josephus, Part 3

Links to my previous posts about The Life of Flavius Josephus (There are additional links in the posts themselves.) :

"Flavius Josephus and His Works"
"A Bit More on Flavius Josephus" (scroll down--something's too long somewhere and crowds the post below the sidebar!)
"Life of Josephus, Part 1"
"Life of Josephus, Part 2"

A couple of links about Gessius Florus, who came up in "Part 2" and about whom Pop emailed to me a link suggesting Gessius Florus and Josephus might be the same person:

"Florus, Gessius" in the Jewish Encyclopedia
"Gessius Florus"

That last link sounds as if they are not the same person. But who knows?! Nevertheless, I gathered this bit of information on Gessius Florus from a Google search, and I place it here for anyone who is interested.

According to Josephus, this defeat of Gessius Florus resulted in the killing of the Jews in the neighboring cities in Syria, despite no rebellion on the part of the Syrian Jews. In Scythopolis, the Jews that lived there were forced to bear arms against other Jews. The Damascus Jews also went through the same types of things. Josephus writes, "...we have given a more accurate account of these things in the books of the Jewish war. I only mention them now [in The Life of Flavius Josephus], because I would demonstrate to my readers that the Jews' war with the Romans was not voluntary, but that, for the main, they were forced by necessity to enter into it." (This in paragraph 6 of The Life of Josephus Flavius.)

Now, in the little bit I've read so far, there were indeed some Jews eager for a rebellion, but I take it that many did not want to participate for fear of repercussions if they lost. And there were probably those Jews who were content with the way things were, because their lives were going well. Josephus strikes me as one of the latter. I do not know what his true position was--I have heard that he betrayed his fellow Jews, but I have also heard that it only appeared that way and that his writing of all these histories was his way of trying to make up to the Jews any wrongdoing they thought he had done. I am not sure that reading his writing will straighten that out for me, but it is interesting.

I am going through The Life of Josephus Flavius because I thought it might give me some knowledge about this often-quoted man. In addition, I can decide whether I want to continue discussing him through a reading of his other works, or if I want to move on to Eusebius. Or some other project. I do feel bad that I have been so lax about this project.

The next thing to occur after the defeat of Gessius Florus was that Josephus was sent to Galilee with Joazar and Judas ("two others of the priests") because not all of Galilee had revolted and Josephus and his companions were to attempt "to persuade the ill men there to lay down their arms." He's supposed to tell them that it's better to keep the arms for the most courageous men of the nation (Doesn't that sound insulting to the men he'll be telling this to?) and also that the Jews should wait to see what the Romans do. (Paragraph 7)

Stay tuned for the next episode.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Some New Links to Blogs

I've added three new blogs to my links on the left sidebar. They are Jettboy's blog, Straight and Narrow Blog, Tigersue's blog, Tigersue's Jungle, and One Woman's World. Enjoy.


A Charming Diversion

Take a trip over to "From Babylon to Zion With Love" and see the singing hippo with a dancing dog. Very cool.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Art and Entertainment

I read an interesting editorial over at and thought I would link to it. We LDS sometimes discuss where we are going or where we might go with art of various kinds, and this essay had some observations about mistakes conservatives make with art. I thought it brought up some interesting ideas. Whether you agree or not, it gives you some points to consider. The editorial is called "Ten Mistakes Conservatives Make in Art and Entertainment" by Erik Lokkesmoe.

One question I have (and I would welcome comments on it) is why it seems difficult to write something serious and meaningful without using 4-letter words, having wrongheaded characters, portraying sinful situations, or being gross/disgusting (as in serial killers--not the Porky movies). Maybe it is because the problem of sin or the problem of evil enters into serious situations. Or maybe it is that our choices are (or can be) serious or meaningful, but that requires some form of good vs. evil to choose between.

Another question along with that one: Why on earth is "weird" considered high art? I mean, some books, for example, are strange mental rambles that make no sense and yet reviewers and critics rave about how great they are. Is "weird" an acquired taste? Or is grim and depressing supposed to be "real" art? In trying to think of some examples, I come up with Thomas Hardy's books for that last question. And how about James Joyce and Virginia Wolffe for that first one?

I know that different people have different tastes, and it is not my intent to be rude and insulting. I would really like to know what people get out of things that are so far off the beaten path. Paintings, music, plays, and poetry are similar--there is a wide range available, but "weird," "grim," "depressing," or at least "off the beaten path" are revered--and, frankly, I don't understand why. Is it just because it is (at some point, anyway) new and different? Do people really get anything out of it?

On the other hand, things that are tame, conventional, traditional, etc. can seem awfully dull and superficial. I suppose that is because it is too common or there isn't any tension or element of surprise.

Well, be that as it may, I hope you all understand that I am really curious and would love to get some comments on different types of art and why you think it is meaningful or not.

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