Who was Flavius Josephus?


I am wondering about something: Often I hear about an historian, named Flavius Josephus. His writings are referred to many times, but I am wondering just how reliable is his writings? Do you believe this resource to be as useful as others seem to? How can we be sure he wrote about things correctly? What is your opinion?


Titus Flavius Josephus was born in A.D. 37 and died about A.D. 100. He was a Jew by birth from the tribe of Levi and of the priestly division, having the name Joseph when he was born, but later became a Roman citizen and took on a Roman name. He was a historian and wrote about Jewish history for the Romans. His works give us insight into Jewish beliefs during the first century, but what is notable is that Josephus was in Jerusalem when it was destroyed in A.D. 70. Having survived the destruction, he left us a first hand account of what happened.

Flavius Vespasian was the Emperor when Jerusalem was destroyed and Titus, Flavius' son, was the commander in charge of its destruction. Thus you can see where "Titus Flavius Josephus" came from. Josephus was a commander during the Jewish wars and was captured. He was taken to Rome where he became a Roman citizen and was allowed return to Judea and was given a pension in return for his recording the history of the Jews for Flavius.

Josephus is about as accurate as any other historian.

"Josephus includes information about individuals, groups, customs and geographical places. His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He makes references to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the time, Pharisees and Essenes, the Herodian Temple, Quirinius' census and the Zealots, and to such figures as Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, Agrippa I and Agrippa II, John the Baptist, James the brother of Jesus, and a disputed reference to Jesus. He is an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism (and, thus, the context of early Christianity)." [Wikipedia]