Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquitatis Judaice (Antiquities of the Jews)
Venice, 1481
By Flavius Josephus (ca. 37 C.E. - ca. 100 C.E.)

Josephus, a Hellenized Jew, composed the Antiquities in 93 C.E. during a long career of alternately fighting the Romans in Galilee and aligning himself with them. He has often not been received favourably by Jewish scholars, however it is considered to be the first work of Jewish history that integrates the Biblical conception of historical time with secular history. It comprises twenty books, and was arranged to be read alongside the Roman history of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, which also consisted of twenty books. The Antiquities wasn't quite an apologetic work, but was intended to explain and exalt Jewish people in the eyes of the Greco-Roman world. It spans the creation of the world, and carries the history of the Jews down to the outbreak of the war in 66 C.E. Josephus represents both the mainstream and the marginal landscape of Jewish thought of the time, having been schooled by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.

Some of the earliest translations of the Antiquities appeared as early as the 4th century, but the first complete and correct translation first appeared in Augsburg in 1470. The copy owned by the JPL (in Latin) is the oldest book in the collection, an incunabula dating soon after Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. It lacks a title page, but contains copious marginalia.
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