My project as a BRIHC Research Fellow explores the range of different ways in which Flavius Josephus, the reputed historian of the 1st century AD, was perceived by Medieval Greek and Latin men of letters from the 5th century onwards. By adopting a comparative approach to how Josephus was seen across East and West, I aim to demonstrate that the emphasis on characteristics and attributes, such as the historian’s Jewishness, truthfulness, wisdom, and expertise, were all means adopted by medieval literati to enhance the validity of his works.
I developed a keen interest in ancient authors, such as Plutarch and Josephus, in the course of my doctoral research. My thesis was dedicated to the twelfth-century chronicle of John Zonaras, a Medieval Greek text with enormous popularity, which combines an incredible variety of sources related to Jewish, Roman and Byzantine history. Among the topics investigated in my thesis was Zonaras’ creative treatment of his sources. My doctoral research challenged the view that medieval authors like Zonaras, who draw extensively on earlier texts, are mere ‘compilers’. Exploring Zonaras’ method of work, I demonstrated that he subjected his material to a thoughtful process of selection and adaptation. The principles that governed this process reflected his cultural, ideological and indeed political orientation.