Peter Craigie Memorial Lecture Department Colloquium
Josephus and the Bible
Dr. Paul Spilsbury, Regent College
SS 527 (Kawamura Library)
Recent readings of Josephus have paid close attention to his historical method, his use of sources, his biases and loyalties, and his rhetorical and narrative strategies. Emerging from this work is a deepening appreciation of the extent to which his personal identity and historical outlook were shaped by the narrative and ideological shape of the Jewish Scriptures. While it would be going too far to regard Josephus as a theologian or a biblical historian, it is nevertheless important to see him always in light of his commitments to the sacred texts and not just in those places where he explicitly cites the Scriptures or retells the biblical story. Josephus’ outlook was profoundly shaped by the Hebrew Bible and his interpretation of current events is never devoid of biblically derived assumptions and perspectives. Further, like many other Hellenistic-Jewish writers of his era, Josephus’ relationship with the Scriptures was far from passive. Rather, we often find him engaged in shaping, molding, and creatively reordering the biblical narrative to his own particular ends, be they political, rhetorical, sociological or religious. For all of these reasons a fully orbed understanding of Josephus must pay careful attention to the subject at hand. As we do so we are given insight into the power of the biblical narrative to shape identity, and also of the remarkable uses to which malleable and adaptable religious texts might be put.
Dr. Spilsbury’s teaching and research interests include New Testament studies, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and Christian thinkers from the first few Christian centuries. He has authored two books, The Image of the Jew in Flavius Josephus’Paraphrase of the Bible (Mohr Siebeck, 1998), and The Throne, the Lamb and the Dragon: A Reader’s Guide to the Book of Revelation (InterVarsity, 2002). He is co-author of Judean Antiquities 8-10: Translation and Commentary (Brill, 2005); has published numerous book chapters, articles, and reviews; and has travelled extensively throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries associated with the ancient church. He is also a frequent speaker at churches, retreats, and conferences.