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Ps.Hegesippus, translated from Latin into English (2005). Preface to the online edition

There is a Latin text extant in numerous medieval manuscripts under the title of De excidio urbis Hierosolymitanae (On the ruin of the city of Jerusalem) or Historiae (History).  The text is an original composition which borrows very heavily from the Jewish War of Josephus, and is sometimes considered as a free translation and rearrangement of that work.  

The author is given in the manuscripts sometimes as Hegesippus -- which may be a corruption of Iosippus, the spelling of Josephus in many of the manuscripts.  In other manuscripts it is ascribed to Ambrose of Milan, and indeed is sometimes transmitted to us together with some of his works.  Scholars have sometimes attributed the work to him; others to Isaac, a Jewish convert active in Roman ecclesiastical politics in the 370's.  Most scholars today consider the work anonymous, and by convention refer to it as Pseudo-Hegesippus.  It should not be confused with the Latin translation of the Jewish War made by Rufinus, which is more literal and arranged in seven books, and was made later.  It has nothing to do with the lost works of the second-century writer Hegesippus mentioned by Eusebius.

De excidio is arranged in five books.  Books 1-4 correspond to the same books of the Jewish War; book 5 contains the material from books 5-6 and part of book 7 of Josephus.  But material from Antiquities is also being used. In book 2 a version of the so-called Testimonium Flavianum can be found, although this might have come from one of the versions of the Jewish War into which that had been interpolated, or perhaps from Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History.  But in book 2 chapter 4 the story of the seduction of Paulina comes from Antiquities 18.3.  Likewise Book 1 chapter 38 contains material about a pestilence which followed Herod's execution of his wife Mariamne, which comes from Antiquities 15.7, 9.  Neither appears in any version of the Jewish War, so indicating that the author had direct access to a manuscript of Antiquities.

The work is usually dated to between 370-c.375 AD.  It contains in book 2 chapter 9 what seems to be an allusion to the recent reconquest of Britain by Count Theodosius, ca. 370 AD, so cannot be earlier than this.  It also refers to Constantinople by name.  There is a reference to a Latin translation of Josephus in letter 71 of St. Jerome, written between 386 and 400 AD.  The author refers to the triumphant position of the Roman empire, which suggests that it must precede the imperial crisis brought on by the disastrous defeat and death of the emperor Valens in battle with the Goths at Adrianople in 378, and still more so the sack of Rome in 410.

The most recent critical edition was used for this translation : Hegesippi qui dicitur historiae libri V, edited by Vincente Ussani in the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum series, volume 66, Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky (1932).

The translation that follows was never originally intended for publication.  It is really a 'crib', originally written to assist an individual who was working with the Latin and didn't need to look up every word every time.  The author, Dr Wade Blocker, has no time to turn it into a real translation but has kindly allowed it to appear online so other people may use it.  Dr Blocker has very kindly allowed us all access to it, but of course it must not be criticised for not being what it never attempted to be.  I suspect that most of us will simply be grateful that the translator spent the time to make a version of the whole of so obscure a work, and had the generosity to share it with the world.

Ipswich, 2005.

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