“Lege Iosephum!” Reading Josephus in the Latin Middle Ages

Subproject 2: Latinitas Iudaica

The Use of Latin Sources in Yosippon

René Bloch, Carson Bay

This cluster explores the reception of Josephus Latinus and other Latin sources in the Yosippon, a 10th-century historiographical work written in Hebrew, probably in Southern Italy. The work is evidence for the Jewish reception of pagan and Christian(-ized) Latin literature. It examines how the Yosippon rewrites and reclaims Latin sources and contextualizes these changes and adaptations in light of contemporary political and cultural conditions. The project explores the extent to which the Jewish minority in 10th-century southern Italy could participate in the intellectual goods of the Christian majority. Using the example of the Hebrew Yosippon – created from a plethora of sources, many of them Latin – it will examine the extent to which Josephus Latinus (primarily the De excidio but also the Antiquities) is rewritten from a Jewish perspective and thereby “reclaimed” for Judaism. At the same time the use of pagan and Christian sources – in both cases transmitted by Christians – in the Yosippon will constitute a case study of Jewish reception in the Christian-dominated power structures of Byzantium.