Well I have been reading some more, reading usually in the evening before bedtime or until Morpheus comes to take me to the land of dreams. Lately I have been reading the Essential Works of Josephus compiled by Paul Maier.
Titus Flavius Josephus born Yosef ben Matityahu יוסף בן מתתיהו, was a first-century Roman-Jewish scholar, historian, born in 37 CE in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.
He initially fought against the Romans during the First Roman-Jewish War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee, until surrendering in 67 CE to Roman Forces led by Vespasian after the six-week siege of Jotapata. Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianic Prophecies that initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome and founding the Flavian Dynasty. In response Vespasian being superstitious decided to keep Josephus as a slave and presumably interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor’s family name of Flavius and lived with them on the Palatine.
Flavius Josephus having defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman Citizenship. He became an advisor and friend of Vespasian’s son Titus, later Emperor, serving as his translator when Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem. Since the siege proved ineffective at stopping the Jewish revolt, the city’s destruction and the looting and destruction of Herod’s Temple (Second Temple) soon followed.
Josephus recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War (66-70 CE), including the Siege of Masada. His books provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of early Christianity.
The works on Jewish history presents God or Yawveh יהוה as a vengeful god who thinks nothing of ordering the slaughter of entire cities over and over again simply to let his people win. His people turn against Yawveh many times but he is willing to forgive and forget if they do his bidding, more conquest and more killing. He always rewards his male followers by giving them fertile wives bearing many sons. Reading this reminded me of the book by José Saramago, The Gospel according to Jesus Christ, in this book Saramago present Yawveh has a rich Jewish merchant who is quite willing to do anything to get his way, unscrupulous and sadistic.
Josephus is interesting to read because it is the only account of that period to survive and can be used to compared to what you read in the Old Testament and the Gospels. Josephus wrote for his patrons the Flavian in Rome presenting their point of view.
The other book I read was a history of Rome in 7 sackings by Matthew Kneale. It is a different approach since it speaks directly of the ups and downs of Rome as a city as invaders come and go, from the first in July 387 BCE when the young city became embroiled in a conflict with a band of Gallic Celts led by the warlord Brennus to the last being the Nazis occupation in 1943-44. Lots of details on daily life of Romans through the ages and what life in the city was like.
I am now reading a book I picked up during our trip this September in Nova Scotia entitled A great and Noble Scheme, the tragic history of the expulsion of the French Acadians from their homeland by John Mack Faragher a professor at Yale.
The history of the Acadians is one that touches all French speaking Canadian families in one way or another. Though officially the Acadians are forgotten in the history of modern Canada. Their deportation from the region that is today the Maritime Provinces of Canada happened in 1755 at the time this part of the world was still a band of colonies being disputed both by France and Britain, a pawn in Imperial gamesmanship. It is a complicated history yet fascinating to read, a civilian population at the mercy of two great powers who did not think much of the people. The book is also interesting because Faragher present how France managed or we should say mismanaged its colonies overseas and how Britain was already involved in free market experiment and parliamentary consultation with colonists a concept totally foreign in France and seen as dangerous to Royal authority.
Faragher writes about social mores and how Acadian men often coming to the colonies alone would take native Mikmaw wives and become in the process assimilated into native culture though retaining their European heritage. Speaking French and integrating Mikmaw words and expression into daily conversation. There was also amongst the Acadians a mix of Protestant Huguenots and Catholics fleeing the wars of religions in Europe, many showed litte religious fervour, everyone was in North America to trade and make a better life than what they left behind in France. On the other hand the social life of the New England Puritans was vastly different, no such mixing of races, lots of religion and horrified curiosity towards these Acadians with whom they did a lucrative commerce between Boston and Port Royal, the Puritans found the Acadian amusing, scandalous and rough.
Faragher’s book does away with the romantic notions and the often partisan presentation in most history books. It brings clarity to a confusing but compelling tale.