Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Mosaic Legislation on Prophets in [Josephus's] Antiquities 4.218

I am happy to report that my paper proposal for this November's SBL Josephus Group session on "Josephus, Moses and Torah" has been accepted. The paper, which builds on research I presented at CSBS last May (1, 2, 3, 4), is (or will be!) an attempt to puzzle out Josephus's understanding of the "Prophet like Moses" described in Deuteronomy 18. Here is the abstract:
In his summary of the Mosaic constitution (A.J. 4.196-302), Josephus omits Deuteronomy's legislation about prophets, but inserts an enigmatic reference to a “prophet” in his paraphrase of Deut 17:8-13. The “prophet” who, according to A.J. 4.218, participates in the Jerusalem high court along with the high priest and gerousia, has been variously regarded as another term for the high priest, or as representing the scribes or the Pharisees. This paper builds on Sarah Pearce’s argument that the “prophet” is to be understood in the first place as Joshua, and that the passage presents this system of government as an ideal. A review of the use of “prophet” (προφήτης) in Josephus demonstrates that the historian consistently distinguished prophets such as Joshua from priests and kings; it also suggests that Josephus understood Deuteronomy 18 as a prediction of a succession of prophets, and, finally, that he intended A.J. 4.218 as a summary of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 as well as 17:8-13.
I worry that my title and abstract will confirm my friend and colleague's impression that conferences like SBL are "so . . . deadly . . . boring,"* but I am excited about the topic and glad for the opportunity to present it at a session dedicated to Josephus.

*His reasons are sound. I simply want to claim an exemption.


Ken Penner said...

Quite the contrary; the abstract made me eager to hear your reasoning. But maybe I'm as just boring as SBL ... said...

Congratulations! Sounds interesting to me.

You're not just hearing this news now, I hope!

d. miller said...

No, just (un)fashionably behind on blogging, as usual.

Eric said...

You definitely get an exception on this. Your paper - and all your work - is very much exempt from the criticisms I voiced!