Josephus: the Main Manuscripts of "Antiquities"

Full list of all manuscripts

This work in 20 books was the product of Josephus' middle age.  It was completed in the 13th year of Domitian at the age of 56 (i.e. in A.D. 93-94), according to the last paragraph of the work, Ant. 20, 267.  From the concluding paragraphs it may be inferred that the author issued a later edition, to which the Autobiography was added as an appendix.  "For the Antiquities contains two perorations, the original conclusion having (like the original preface to a modern work) been relegated to the end, while to this has been prefixed another peroration, mentioning the proposal to append the Life.  The Life alludes (Vita 359) to the death of Agrippa II, an event which, according to Photius, occurred in A.D. 100.  We may therefore infer that this later and enlarged edition of the Antiquities appeared early in the second century." (Thackeray, p.x).

Josephus received aid from Greek assistants (synergoi).  Two of these -- the principal assistants -- are most visible in the later books, where the author seems to have handed over composition to them.  Books 15-16 are the work of an assistant who also worked on the Jewish War, a cultured writer with a love of the Greek poets and Sophocles in particular.  Books 17-19 show the marked mannerisms of a hack, a slavish imitator of Thucydides.  In these books the two assistants have practically taken over the entire task.  In the earlier books they have lent occasional assistance.

The work splits neatly into two, and the two portions have separate traditions.  Here are the main manuscripts.  

Books 1-10.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /

R Paris Codex Regius Parisinus 14
O Oxford, Bodleian Codex Oxoniensis (Bodleianus), miscell. graec. 186 15
M Venice, Marcianus Codex Marcianus (Venetus) Gr. 381 13
S Vienna Codex Vindobonensis II. A 19, once Graecus 2 11
P Paris Codex Parisinus Graecus Gr. 1419 11
L Florence Codex Laurentianus, plut. lxix. 20. 14
Lat. (Latin version made by order of Cassiodorus in 5th/6th century - no details of MSS given)
Exc. (Excerpts made by order of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century - no details of MSS given)
E (Epitome, used by Zonaras and conjectured by Niese to have been made in the 10th or 11th century - no details of MSS given).
Zon. (The Chronicon of J. Zonaras, 12th century - no details of MSS given).
ed. pr. N/A The editio princeps of the Greek text (Basel, 1544) seems to be derived in part from some unknown MS and is occasionally an important authority. 1544

The original text is found in no single group of MSS.  As a  rule, the RO(M) group is superior (in i. 82, 148 (R)O alone preserve the correct figure, where the other witnesses conform to the Hebrew text of Genesis).  At the other extreme stands a pair of MSS -- SP -- which when unsupported are seldom trustworthy.  The other witnesses are of a mixed character, with the old Latin version being particularly important.

There are other MSS not used by Niese.  (One is listed below for Books 11-20). [I  presume these are Italici]

The edition of Benedict Niese (Berlin 1887) contains more details.  Early editions contain chapter divisions - the section numbers were created by Niese.

Books 11-20.



Shelfmark & Notes


Date /

P Rome Codex Vaticanus Palatinus, nr. 14.   Ant. 11-17, Life. 9 or 10
F Florence Codex Laurentianus plut. 69, cod. 20.   Ant. 1-15 (see above under 'L'). 14
L Leiden Codex Leidensis F 13.  Ant. 11-15. 11 or 12
A Milan Codex bibl. Ambrosianae F 128.  Image of page with TF here. Ant. 11-20, Life (with lacunae) 11
M Florence Codex Medicaeus bibl. Laurentianae plut. 69, cod. 10.  Not used by Niese for 1-10. Ant. 1-20, Life. 15
V Rome Codex Vaticanus Graecus 147.   Ant. 3-15 (originally 1-15; 
there are lacunae in 13-15).
W Rome Codex Vaticanus Graecus 984 Ant. 11-20, War, and an 
epitome of Ant. 1-10.
1354 A.D.
E Epitome (as above)
Lat. Latin version (as above)
Zon. Zonaras (as above).  Chiefly a witness to the E text.
Exc. Excerpta Peiresciana et Ursiniana (as above, made at the orders of Constantine VII).

The Greek MSS may be grouped into two families: one is made up of PFV, the other of AMW.  L agrees now with one group, now with the other.  

Note that for the so-called Testimonium Flavianum (Book 18, sections 63-64 [chap. 3]), the witnesses are AMW.  In addition Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica  i. 11 and Eusebius Demonstratio Evangelica iii. 5. 105 are also witnesses to the text.

As with 1-10, the two modern editors, Niese and Naber, disagree concerning the relative merits of P and A, the two best in each group.  Niese prefers P to A (except where P agrees with AMW against FV); Naber prefers A to P.

Cassiodorus' Latin version

Cassiodorus records ordering the translation of Antiquities of the Jews in 22 books in his Institutes XVII, 1.  There is an English translation online:  

George Syncellus' version

In the new English translation by Adler & Tuffin, reference is made to a text of Josephus known to Syncellus and other 9th century Byzantine chroniclers which has been interpolated with material from the Little Genesis or Book of Jubilees.  (A&T. p.liv, giving refs., including Syncellus ch.120.4-8).  This seems to be based on material in the chronicle which is stated by Syncellus to be by Josephus, but is in fact from Jubilees.  It is not clear to me whether an interpolated text is the only explanation -- for instance Photius knows of works falsely attributed to Josephus.  More information on this would be nice -- no external reference to this idea is given in A&T.

Table of Contents / Chapter titles

The Greek text includes a summary of contents at the start of each book.  These do not correspond to the chapter divisions.  They can be found in the Loeb text in translation: the Greek is online at Perseus, and they are included at the start of each book: Start of Book 1 (SPIonic font).

[This information from the web, until I can get more solid info]. The table of contents and its English translation for Books 18-20 are available in Feldman's edition of Josephus, Loeb Classic Library, vol. 9, at 534-555 [now republished as vol. 10].

Professor Feldman described the Table of Contents, thus in an email:

Prefixed to each book of the Antiquities is a rough table of contents for that book. At the end of the table of contents for each book there is a statement as to the number of years covered by that book. For each of the portions of each book there is a very brief summary in two or three lines of that portion...The Table of Contents, in both the Greek original and in the Latin translation does not refer to the Testimonium Flavianum or John the Baptist or James, the brother of Jesus. ... [It was] already referred to in the Latin version of the fifth or sixth century.


There are some pages from a 12th century Latin MS of Antiquities online at 

A 12th century copy of the translation into Latin by Rufinus is accessible at the CEEC. (Flavius Josephus translat. Rufino Tyrannio)


It would be nice to have more details - if you have more information, do let me know.


H. St. J. THACKERAY, Josephus: Jewish Antiquities.  Loeb edition, Harvard University Press.  Later volumes and preface by Ralph MARCUS. Louis H. FELDMAN did vol 9 (books 18-20).  All these are derived from Neise's edition. Checked.

William ADLER & Paul TUFFIN, The Chronography of George Synkellos: A Byzantine Chronicle of Universal History from the Creation.  Oxford University Press (2002).  Checked.  

Benedikt NIESE, Flavius Josephus: Flavii Iosephi Opera, Berolini : Apud Weidmannos, 1885-95.  7v. ; 23 cm.  Greek Text with Latin notes.  Contents: V.1-3. Libri antiquitatum iudaicarum.--v.4. Libri antiquitatum iudaicarum et vita.--v. 5 De iudeorum vetustate.-- v. 6 De bello iudaico.--v.7 Index  Not checked.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Written 24th May 2002.

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