Prophecy in Roman Judaea: Did Josephus Report the Failure of an 'Exact Succession of the Prophets' (Against Apion 1.41)?

Mason, S., Nov-2019, In : Journal for the Study of Judaism. 50, 4-5, p. 524-556 33 p.

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  • Prophecy in Roman Judaea: Did Josephus Report the Failure of an ‘Exact Succession of the Prophets’ (Against Apion 1.41)?

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In Ag. Ap. 1.41, after stressing that the Jewish holy books are rightly trusted because only prophets wrote them, Josephus remarks that Judaeans do not trust later writings in the same way. The reason he gives is usually translated as "the failure of the exact succession of the prophets." Whereas older scholarship played down this reason to insist on the absence of prophecy in post-biblical Judaism, the prevailing view today holds that Josephus meant only to qualify later prophecy, not to exclude it. This essay broaches the more basic question of what an alpha chi rho iota beta eta zeta delta iota alpha delta omicron chi eta means. Arguing that an exact diachronic succession of prophets makes little sense, it offers two proposals that better suit Josephus' argument. It further contends that Josephus is talking about the ancient Judaean past, the subject of this work, not about the work of later historians including himself. He distinguishes sharply between prophecy and historical inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-556
Number of pages33
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2019


  • Flavius Josephus, prophecy, canon, Scripture, Jewish historiography, Greek historiography, Jewish-Greek relations, Jewish-Christian relations

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