Reading Josephus.

by Daniel Russ on January 20, 2011


Flavian Josephus


Its amazing how nothing ever changes.

I downloaded Josephus’ work, The Wars of the Jews on a free ebook site. and in his very first complaint, he cavils the other sources of accounts of the Judean revolt as wildly inaccurate and filled with bias. He lambasts them, he says they were not there and the events he hears seem like a way to find approbation from the Romans, or the hatred of the Jews.

“It is true, these writers have the confidence to call their accounts histories; wherein they have a mind to demonstrate the greatness of the Romans, while they diminish and lessen the actions of the Jews as not discerning that those must appear to be great Who have only conquered those that were little. Nor are they ashamed to overlook the length of the war, the might of the Roman forces, who so greatly suffered in it or the might of the commanders whose great labors will be deemed inglorious, if what they achieved be reckoned but a small matter.”

Make no mistake about it, Josephus is lamenting the state of the official Roman news media, the official recorders of events that then are promulgated throughout Rome. He is saying that the current group of news media players are reporting what they want the news to be, not the dispassionate facts. He is saying the story about the battle being reported is told to protect the rich and powerful, to protect reputations and to hide the costs of the venture. You could almost switch the words Judea with Afghanistan and Rome with the USA and the story would make sense today.

Josephus goes on to say that the media of old, the ancient Greeks, did not have the tools the Romans did, but they were more truthful. So Josephus is doing what we do here as well, we lament the feigned facts and zombie memes of the current press corp and compare them to the press corp of old, the Eric Sevarides, the Walter Cronkites and Dan Rathers.

Josephus, a Jew, does not resist reporting what happens to him under the Romans. He also blames the Jews for starting the war and assaulting Roman assets in the first sallies in the conflict. He is basically worried that the Romans will continue to screw up in his country because in their own country the Romans are getting their information from the Fox News of the Roman Empire.

Plus ça change, plus ça la mème chose.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed Garland October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

You failed to mention that Josephus was also a former Jewish rebel who, after being captured, switched sides and more or less toadied up to the Romans…would his modern-day counterparts be those journalists who have taken positions as cheerleaders for the current adminstration?

Daniel Russ October 19, 2013 at 6:31 pm


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