Miriam Maranzenboim, an American-born Israeli who has lived in Israel since 1977, has made life a little simpler for those of us who have hoped to one day tackle Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews but have never found the time.
“My book is different,” Maranzenboim told KNI. “A person can pick it up in the airport in Los Angeles and, by the time she gets to Paris, she’s finished. It can be read in between five and 10 hours.”
The original history is a 20-volume work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus during the reign of Roman emperor Domitian around 93 AD. In the first 10 volumes, Josephus follows the events of the Hebrew Bible beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve. The second 10 volumes continue the history of the Jewish people beyond the biblical text and up to the Jewish War.
“When I started reading Josephus I didn’t know I’d be writing a book,” said Maranzenboim, who holds a degree in communications from California State University. “I was just kind of taking notes of things that seemed to supplement and amplify the Bible… Then I felt the Lord calling me to do it and also that I was the right person to do it.”
Maranzenboim created the condensed version of Josephus’s epic over an intense work-period of nearly nine months.
“It felt like a quest,” she said. Her method was simple though exhaustive: the book contains a summary, in Maranzenboim’s words, of every section of all 20 books from beginning to end.
“I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m more interested that someone picks my book up, reads his own history and is blessed and amazed by what he reads,” she said. “There are miracles in the intertestamental period of which we are largely unaware; an account of a prophetic meeting between Alexander the Great and, Jaddua, the high priest at Jerusalem during the post-exilic period, for example.”
“After Alexander took Gaza he started off to Jerusalem. Jaddua the high priest was afraid to meet the Macedonians, so he told everyone to pray and offer sacrifices to God to ask him to protect their country. God told Jaddua in a dream to have courage and decorate the city… They showed [Alexander] the book of Daniel, in which was written that one of the Greeks would destroy the Persian Empire. Alexander felt that he was that person.” (Excerpt from Josephus: The History of the Jews Condensed in Simple English)
Maranzenboim’s condensed version of The Antiquities contains many other details about the first and second temple periods that are “essential for understanding the spirituality and religious politics in those times.” The book also contains original illustrations, a map, a table of equivalents and a detailed timeline to embellish Josephus’s original work.
“It’s fascinating,” Maranzenboim said. “The Jews are an eternal people…both Christians and Jews agree that we do not know enough about the intertestamental period.”
Josephus: The History of the Jews Condensed in Simple English by Miriam Maranzenboim was published in March 2017 and is now available in paperback and ePub formats at Amazon.com.