Date of the "Yosippon."
Author of the "Sefer Yosippon," a history of the Jews from the time of the destruction of Babylon (539 B.C.) to the downfall of the Jewish state (70 C.E.), with historical accounts of Babylonia, Greece, Rome, and other countries. In the current text the author professes to be the old Greek historian Flavius Josephus, giving to the name "Joseph" the Greek ending "on" ("Josephon," "Joseppon," or "Josippon" [V07p259003.jpg]. His Arabic name "Yusibus" is, according to Wellhausen, identical with "Egesippus"). A gloss gives the form V07p259004.jpg from the Italian, "Giuseppe." Down to the eighteenth century, his work was universally known as the "Hebrew," or the "smaller, Josephus" as contrasted with the work now commonly known under the name of Josephus and written in Greek. It is generally held that the work was composed by a Jew living in southern Italy. Scaliger and Zunz believed that he lived in the middle of the ninth century; but Zunz later modified his view, placing the date at 940. The Mohammedan writer Ibn Ḥazm (d. 1063) was acquainted with the Arabic translation of the "Yosippon" made by a Yemen Jew, and Chwolson believes therefore that the author of the "Yosippon" lived at the beginning of the ninth century. No Jewish author mentions this chronicle before Dunash ibn Tamim (10th cent.), and even the passage in Dunash supposed to refer to the "Yosippon" does not certainly do so. Trieber holds the singular view that the author lived in the fourth century.
Commencing with Adam and the geographical conditions of the first millennium, the author passes to the legendary history of Rome and Babylon, to the accounts of Daniel, Zerubbabel (according to the Apocrypha), the Second Temple, and Cyrus, and to the histories of Alexander the Great and his successors. He then gives the history of the Jews down to the destruction of the Temple. The last part contains, among other things, a brief history of Hannibal and an account of the coronation of an emperor, which, according to Basnage ("Histoire des Juifs," vii. 89, Paris, 1710), refers to that of Otto the Great (crowned 962); this would be the only and a most valuable source of information concerning this event. If Basnage's conjecture is correct, the date of the composition of the "Yosippon" may be placed at the end of the tenth century. The "Yosippon" is written in comparatively pure Biblical Hebrew, shows a predilection for certain Biblical phrases and archaisms, and is rich in poetical passages and in maxims and philosophical speculations.
By the Jews of the Middle Ages the "Yosippon" was much read and was highly respected as a historical source. Scaliger in his "Elenchus Trihæresii Nicolai Serarii" was the first to doubt its worth; Jan Drusius (d. 1609) held it to be historically valueless on account of its many chronological mistakes; Zunz and Delitzsch have branded the author as an impostor. In fact, both the manuscripts and printed editions are full of historical errors, misconceptions of its sources, and extravagant outbursts of vanity on the part of the author. But there is scarcely any book in Jewish literature that has undergone more changes at the hands of copyists and compilers; Judah Mosconiknew of no less than four different compilations or abridgments. The later printed editions are one-third larger than the editio princeps of Mantua.
It was perhaps due to Jerahmeel ben Solomon that the work received its traditional title "Yosippon." He supplemented his copy from Josephus, whom he designates as "the great Joseph," or, according to a gloss, "the Gentile Joseph" (V07p259005.jpg V07p259006.jpg; Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." i. 521; Neubauer, "M. J. C." i. 20); a copyist, however, considered the Hebrew work (V07p259007.jpg) from which he copied to be an abridged Josephus (V07p259008.jpg). The original title of the work, according to Trieber, was probably "History of Jerusalem" (as in ed. Mantua, p. 133a), or, as a manuscript suggests, "History and Wars of the Jews." It is quoted in the Hebrew-Persian dictionary of Solomon ben Samuel (14th cent.), under the title "History of the Second Temple" (V07p259009.jpg V07p259010.jpg; see Bacher in Stade's "Zeitschrift," xvi. 242; idem in "R. E. J." xxxvii. 143 et seq.; Fränkel in "Monatsschrift," xliii. 523).Literary Criticism of the Work.
Sebastian "Münster's edition (Basel, 1541) omits as not genuine the legendary introduction (ch. i.-iii.) with its genealogical list (which addition, however,was made as early as the twelfth century; see Abraham ibn Ezra on Psalm cx. 5; David Ḳimḥi, "Sefer ha-Shorashim," s.v. V07p260001.jpg), and also ch. lxvii. to the end, narrating the expedition of Vespasian and Titus against Jerusalem. Azariah dei Rossi also recognized that the Alexander romance of Pseudokallisthenes in a Hebrew translation had been smuggled into the first edition; and, following David Ḳimḥi, Rapoport showed that the last chapter belonged to Abraham ibn Daud (see Ḳimḥi on Zech. xi. 14; also "Sefer ha-Shorashim," s.v. V07p260002.jpg). Zunz has shown many other portions of the work to be Spanish additions, made in the twelfth century. Almost the whole account of Alexander and his successors has been proved by Trieber to be of later origin. According to that critic, the part of the work original with its author ended with ch. lv. (the dedication of Herod's Temple), more or less of the remainder being taken from Hegesippus, and perhaps added as early as the fifth century. This would explain the numerous contradictions and style-differences between these two parts. There remains, as the nucleus of the whole chronicle, a history of the Second Temple, beginning with the apocryphal stories concerning Daniel, Zerubbabel, etc., and finishing with the restoration of the Temple under Herod. A copyist of Hegesippus, however, identified the "Joseph ben Gorion" (Josephum Gorione Genitum), a prefect of Jerusalem, mentioned in iii. 3, 2 et seq., with the historian Josephus ben Mattithiah, at this time governor of the troops in Galilee. This may account for the fact that the chronicle was ascribed to Joseph b. Gorion. Wellhausen, agreeing with Trieber, denies that the genuine part has any historical value whatever. Trieber contends that the author did not draw his information directly from Josephus or from the Second Book of Maccabees, as is usually believed, and as Wellhausen still maintains. He believes that both II Maccabees and the "Yosippon" used the work of Jason of Cyrene, and Josephus and the "Yosippon" that of Nicholas of Damascus. A study of the "Yosippon" would reveal the manner in which Josephus and II Maccabees used their sources. Apart from the Chronicle of Panodorus, which was largely used by the interpolators, the work in its original, as well as in its later form, seems to have been influenced by other sources, hitherto unascertained. Further light may in the future be thrown upon the subject by a more extended criticism of the text.
Editions: (1) The first edition of the "Yosippon" was published in Mantua by Abraham Conat (1476-79), who also wrote a preface to it. Other editions are: (2) Constantinople, 1510; arranged and enlarged, with a preface by Tam ibn Yaḥya ben David. It is borrowed to a great extent from that of Judah Leon ben Moses Mosconi (b. 1328), published in "Oẓar Ṭob," 1878, i. 017 et seq. (see Berliner's "Magazin," 1876, p. 153). The text in this edition is divided into ninety-seven chapters. (3) Basel, 1541; with a Latin preface, and a translation from the text of the editio princeps, by Sebastian Münster. The edition, however, contains only chapters iv. to lxiii.; the remaining chapters have been translated into Latin by David Kyberus ("Historia Belli Judaici," in De la Bigne's "Bibliotheca Patroni," Paris). (4) Venice, 1544; reprinted from the Constantinople edition, as were all the following editions. (5) Cracow, 1588 and 1599. (6) Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1689. (7) Gotha, 1707 and 1710; with Münster's preface and a Latin translation and notes by Friedrich Breithaupt. Other editions appeared at Amsterdam (1723), Prague (1784), Warsaw (1845 and 1871), Jitomir (1851), and Lemberg (1855; see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Bibl." xi. 62).
Translations and Compilations: A Judæo-German translation, with excellent illustrations, was published by Michael Adam (Zurich, 1546; Prague, 1607; Amsterdam, 1661); it was later revised by Menahem ben Solomon ha-Levi, and published under the title "Keter Torah" (Amsterdam, 1743). Another Latin translation, with Tam ibn Yaḥya's preface, was published by Joseph Gagnier (Oxford, 1706); a French translation of Kyberus' Latin supplement by F. de Belleforest was published in Genebrard's French translation of Fl. Josephus (Paris, 1609). The oldest extant abstract was made in southern Italy, about 1150, by Jerahmeel ben Solomon (see the fragments published by Neubauer—"M. J. C." i. 190; "J. Q. R." xi. 364—and the translation of a portion by M. Gaster—"The Chronicles of Jerahmeel," London, 1899). Another abstract, made in 1161 by Abraham ibn Daud and used as the third book of his "Sefer Seder ha-Ḳabbalah," was published (Mantua, 1513; Venice, 1545; Basel, 1580, etc.), with Münster's Latin translation, at Worms (1529) and Basel (1559). An English translation of this abstract was made by Peter Morvyn (London, 1558, 1561, 1575, 1608). A Judæo-German compendium by Edel bat Moses was published in Cracow in 1670; the oldest German extract, under the title "Joseppi Jüdische Historien" (author not known) is described in Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." (iii. 389). Some short extracts, in German, are given in Zedner, "Auswahl aus Hebräischen Schriftstellern" (pp. 16 et seq.), and in Winter and Wünsche, "Die Jüdische Litteratur" (iii. 310 et seq.). For the Arabic and Yemenite translations, in which the author is called "Yusuf ibn Ḳaryun," see Zechariah ibn Said.
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