• The Wars of the Jews

    (Part 1: The Antiquities of the Jews)

    The second half of Josephus’s Complete Works gets to the real gritty parts of history. Antiquities is Israel’s historical record, but The Wars of the Jews is something completely different. There is some overlap at first. Wars was written first, so it’s not chronological. There are some mentions to the same to kings and conquerers, so many of the first chapters is repetitive. But once it gets into new territory, it’s truly fascinating.

    Its authenticity lies in Josephus himself, who was not only historian but a general in the Jewish army. He commanded the forces in the siege of Yodfat, which is one of the first battled described in detail. He records speeches given by himself and the Roman forces, and records the day-to-day of battle, defense, and ultimately Roman victory.

    It’s easy to glance over historical records after a while, especially when you’ve been reading the same book on the same topic for nearly a year. But when the war came to Jerusalem, I couldn’t put it down. Page after page of disbelief, that these events truly happened, that this was the beginning of the end. We know that the Temple fell. We know it was related to this war, that everything that happens is leading up to its demise. But I had no idea how it happened: How the Jews were starved out of their homes, and how the Temple was ultimately burned to the ground. The Western wall only survives because the Romans opted to keep it for their own defense.

    Josephus later writes a defense of his works (Against Apion), a response to critics who disbelieve his chronicle. But he proves himself by combing other nations’ historical records, finding reference to the Jews in each of them. It’s a great addition, especially for those of us who aren’t going to read ancient texts from places like Assyria and Babylon. I thought the Jews weren’t mentioned in Egyptian history, but they’re present, briefly.

    This isn’t an easy read. But it’s worth the effort for the first-hand account and a more complete understanding of events. Outside of the Bible, Josephus’s works are considered the primary source of ancient Israel’s history. If nothing else, at least read The War of the Jews.

  • Interior Catholic

    My previous Internet home was always meant to be temporary. It was suitable during discernment, while figuring out where I was meant to be. I’ve had dreams of expanding the site into something more cohesive, more than just “thoughts on a page” on any old website. While I considered a proper domain name, I continually came back to my roots. What was I first drawn to as a Catholic? What moved me toward Catholicism to begin with? My faith has always been deeply personal, not too loud or showy. St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle was one of the first texts to really hit me in the face (spiritually), and hasn’t left since. More details about the name’s inspiration is found on the new About page, so I won’t get into much here. In short, it was fitting.

    There’s something about the eagerness of a convert. It’s said they’re the most devout, and it makes sense—we’ve likely done a lot of research. We’ve seen the Church from the outside, and know what other people are saying about it. We’ve probably said some of those things ourselves in the past. But once you’re there, and start to understand the complexity and beauty of it, there’s nothing quite like it. You want to shout it from the rooftops. Or you’re bursting from within, unsure yet of the proper outlet.

    What is my outlet? This blog, partially, but I expanded it into a full site for a reason. Motivation to do more, to write more, to spread the word. I’m planning to release mini devotionals. I’m organizing a page for apologetics. I’ve read countless books already, and can compile a good virtual reference library. I think of all those things I needed along my own journey, knowing others seek the same things. I already have a lot of this material, between packed bookshelves, notebooks, and this blog itself. It just has to be organized into something helpful for others, not just for myself.

    And maybe I’ll also get back to updating this blog more frequently. For real this time.

And they said to him, “Inquire of God, we pray thee, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.”

And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.”

—Judges 18:5–6

      Posts at BEHOLD

      Resting in God
      A Change of Plans