Moses in historiography from hellenistic Alexandria to Josephus
Johnston, Gregory Thomas
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In Greek and Roman historiography various presentations of Moses have emerged from di!erent political and cultural environments. Hellenistic Jewish authors demonstrate a willingness to stray from the traditional story in pursuit of their polemic objective: to convince Greek speakers of the signi"cance of the Jewish nation in the history of culture. In these stories, Moses is Kulturbringer, responsible for the cultural greatness of Egypt and, in turn, of Greece. Universal historians of the late "rst century BCE used the story of Moses to shed light on a region and its people which had recently become signi"cant in the struggle for power in the Mediterranean world. Josephus argues instead that Moses was a great legislator on the basis of the greatness of his deeds and that he exceeded Lycurgus, Solon, and Zaleucus in antiquity. Despite Jewish arguments, Greeks and Romans found ways of undermining Jewish claims without denying their reality.