Vilna: Tipografii R. M. Romma, 1864. First edition. Hardcover. 12mo. 411pp. Modern decoratively marbled paper covered boards, with original cloth covered boards bound inside. We believe this to be the first ever Hebrew translation of Flavius Josephus' "Antiquities of the Jews." This work is extremely rare, as OCLC only lists 3 libraries that own this work. A page of Yiddish printing has been pasted on the original cloth boards. Title page crudely repaired with tape. Sporadic foxing and staining throughout, but text is clean. Stamp of "Dawid Probst" on verso of title page. Aside from faults, book is a good reading copy. poor. Item #19747
Flavius Josephus a.k.a. Joseph b. Matityahu was a 1st century Jewish historian and soldier. During the 66-70 C.E. Jewish revolt against Rome, he was made commander of Galilee. He surrendered to the Romans rather then commit suicide. After the war, Josephus spent the last three decades of his life living in a villa outside of Rome under imperial patronage and writing his histories. He authored The Jewish War, The Antiquities of the Jews, Against Apion and an autobiography.
Josephus' historical works are among the most valuable sources for the study of 1st century Judaism and the context for early Christianity. This is due, among other things to the fact that they are products of his firsthand experience and his peculiar position as a defender of Judaism and a supporter of Rome. While Josephus was ignored by Jewish tradition (the Talmud makes no mention of him), he was embraced by the Church. This was mainly because of the Testimonium Flavianum passage from the Antiquities Book 18, which refers to Jesus and even calls him the Messiah. (Whether or not this passage was all or in part added in by a Christian scribe is a matter of some debate among scholars.) Such Church Fathers as Origin, Jerome and Ambrose, as well as the early ecclesiastical historian Eusebius quote him in their work.
For more information:
1) On Josephus:
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition (1911)
Encyclopedia Judaica (1972)
2) On the different editions:
Graesse: Tresor de Livres Rares et Precieux ou Nouveau Dictionnaire Bibliographique. (Martino: Cambridge, MA.)
Heinz Schreckenberg: Bibliographie zu Flavius Josephus (Leiden: Brill. 1968)
Heinz Schreckenberg: Bibliographie zu Flavius Josephus. Supplementband mit Gesamtregister (Leiden: Brill. 1979)
Louis H. Feldmann: Josepus. A Supplementary Bibliography. (Garland: New York/London. 1986)
Kalman Schulman was a 19th century Russian Jewish maskil (philosophe), who advocated for the use of Hebrew, as opposed to Yiddish, as a means of advancing Jewish culture. He wrote works of history and science in Hebrew thus making him an important forerunner of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and the creation of modern Hebrew.