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Justus of Tiberias *

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Tessa Rajak
Somerville College, Oxford


Justus of Tiberias played a part in the first Jewish revolt against the Romans. He was also the author of an historical work, or works, now lost. Various distinctions have been attributed to his writings; the loss of Jewish Antiquities comparable to those of Josephus, and of an account of the Jewish War far more reliable than Josephus', have at different times been regretted. Certainly, the writings would have been of great value to us, and it will be seen that it is not easy to make sense of the rather baffling evidence for their nature and contents. But perhaps it was not simply accident which preserved Josephus instead of Justus.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1973

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page 345 note 1 On such assumptions see section V.

page 345 note 2 So Rühl, , ‘Justus von Tiberias’, Rhein Mus. lxxi (1916), 300.Google Scholar

page 345 note 3 Wachsmuth, Einleitung in das Studium de Allen Geschichte (1889), 437, writes, ‘der Schicksal hat gegen den ersteren entschiedel (i.e. Justus)’.

page 345 note 4 On Nicolaus' relationship with Herod, see Schürer, G.J. V. 5 i. I. 50-I; Wacholder, Nicolaus of Damascus (1962), ch. ii.

page 345 note 5 As suggested by Jacoby, R.E. x (1919), 1342.

page 345 note 6 Krauss, S., Jewish Encyclopedia vii (1903), 398.Google Scholar

page 345 note 7 Some have found the story altogether incredible and treated it as an invention of Josephus. Thus Rühl, op. cit. 304; Jacoby, loc. cit.

page 346 note 1 At some points the evidence of the Vita is supplemented by Josephus' other works.

page 346 note 2 For the best accounts, see Schürer; G. j. V.4 ii. 216–17 (1907);Google Scholar Hölscher in R.E. vi (1936), 779–81;Google ScholarJones, The Herods Judaea (1938), 178–9;Google ScholarJones, , Cities of tlu Eastern Roman Provinces2 (1972), 275 ff.Google ScholarHoehner, , Herod Antipas (1972), 91102, is the most recent discussion.Google Scholar

page 346 note 3 See the evidence about the baths in Schürer, op. cit. 216 n. 522. They were famous enough to attract the attention of Pliny, N.H. 5.15. See also the vivid description of George Smith, Adam, Historical Geography of the Holy Land 25 (1931), 291–2.Google Scholar

page 346 note 4 Dothan, I.E.J. xii (1962), 153–4;Google Scholar Lifschitz, Z.D.P.V. lxxviii (1962), 180–4;Google Scholar Dothan, R.B. lxx (1963), 588–90.Google Scholar

page 346 note 5 The foundation of Tiberias’, I.E.J. i (1950–1), 160–9.Google Scholar

page 347 note 1 So I learn from Professor P. A. Brunt. Hoehner, op. cit. 97 n. 8, misstates the position.

page 347 note 2 See Sukenik, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece (1930).

page 348 note 1 C.E.R.P. 2, 276.

page 348 note 2 Graetz, in M.G.W.Y. xxx (1881), 483–5, drew this inference from the story. He took ii to describe the situation after A.D. 70, sine that was when R. Eliezer (ben Hyrcanus; was at the height of his authority; this ma) be correct, but such stories often become incorrectly anchored. Graetz identified the conscientious prefect with the Epitropos of Tosefta, Shabbat 121a, who is criticized for his excessive religious punctiliousness. There (though not in the parallel texts) the man is named Joseph ben Simai: cf. Klein, Beitrage zur Geographie and Geschichte Galiläas (1909), 66 n. 1.Google Scholar

page 349 note 1 Jones, Herods, loc. cit.; Avi-Yonah, op. cit. (P. 346 n. 5).

page 349 note 2 B.J. 2. 252; Jones, C.E.R.P. 2 276.

page 349 note 3 Jones, C.E.R.P. 2 274–5; The Urbanization of Palestine’, I.R.S. xxi (1931), 7981.Google Scholar

page 349 note 4 Hill, Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Palestine (1914), xiii-xiv and 229–30;Google ScholarMeshorer, , Jewish Coins of the Second Temple Period (1967), 74–5.Google Scholar

page 349 note 5 Kindler, The Coins of Tiberias (1961), no. 2. In addition, Madden cites from Vaillant a Claudian coin of Agrippa I; it has not been seen since: see A History of Jewish Coinage (1864), 110 no. 3.

page 349 note 6 See Corpus Nummorum Palaestinensium, vol. ii (1957), Caesarea Maritima, 30 and 83–5. But Sebaste (a city founded by Herod the Great for pagans) seems to have no coins until Domitian: B.M.C. Pal. xxxvii-xxxviii.

page 349 note 7 Avi-Yonah discusses the question of the foundation date in I.E.J. i, loc. cit. He establishes the limits of A.D. 17 and A.D. 22. Hoehner, op. cit. 94, claims greater exactitude, setting limits of A.D. 18 and A.D. 23. He forgets that the city's year need not have started on 1st January. Year 1 of the city lies between A.D. 17/18 and A.D. 23/4. Therefore the foundation date falls between A.D. 17 and A.D. 23 (or even 24, if the city were founded in the second half of the year, and year / reckoned from the beginning of the same year). The discussion should not have been necessary since George Hill calculated correctly, of course (B.M.C. Pal. loc. cit.). The actual dates for the foundation ceremony proposed by Hill, by Avi-Yonah, and by Hoehner are speculative.

page 349 note 8 For these coins see any of the collections mentioned. Sepphoris was thought to have no coins before Trajan (B.M.C. Pal. xi and T-4); but in Num. Chron. sixth series-x (1950), 284–9, Seyrig attributed to Sepphoris a Neronian bronze coin of 67–8 with a fragmentary inscription.

page 350 note 1 In addition to the coins, see perhaps the inscription in G.J.V. 4 ii. 221 n. 544 = I.G.R. 132; it may be right, with Schürer, to supplement

page 350 note 2 For possible parallels for the retrospective adoption of such titles, see Jones, C.E.R.P. 2 159–60. Creteia in Pontus started coining under Antoninus Pius, entitling itself Creteia Flaviopolis. The coins of Bithynian Claudiopolis started appearing under Trajan; it is not likely that Claudius had freed her, for she had already coined in the Republic.

page 350 note 3 Avi-Yonah, ‘Tiberias in the Roman Period’, in All the Land of Naphtali (Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 1967; Hebrew).

page 350 note 4 See Schwabe, ‘What do we learn about Tiberias from the inscriptions?’ in All the Land of Naphtali (Hebrew).

page 350 note 5 For a summary of the results of excavation, see Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament (1969), no. 53; or, in Hebrew, The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in Israel (1970).

page 350 note 6 C.E.R.P. 2 277–8.

page 350 note 7 See the testimonia in Klein, Sefer hayishuv (The Book of Jewish Settlement; 1939; Hebrew), and Jewish Encyclopedia, loc. cit.

page 351 note 1 (1) Vincent, , R.B. xxx (1922), 121.Google Scholar (2) Frey, , C.I.J. i. 502. For Justa the tailor, see Midrash Rabbah to Song of Songs 6. 12. (Soncino translation ix. 274). It is not clear from the story what exactly the position of Justa was. The word used for ‘governor’ is an Aramaic derivative of the Latin ‘dux’, and aGoogle Scholar

page 351 note 2 The remarks of Luther, Josephus and Justus von Tiberias (Halle, 1910), are sensible: ‘Es ist … in jedem einzelnen Falle zu untersuchen, welcher von beiden Berichten der glaubwfirdiger ist’ (p. 8).

page 351 note 3 Luther, op. cit. 39, disputes Josephus' analysis: he assumes, what I cannot accept, that all important Sadducees and Pharisees in the nation were whole-heartedly for revolt. He is certainly wrong in ascribing the presence of a strong peace party in Tiberias to Greeks.

page 351 note 4 Julius Capellus sounds like a Roman citizen. The Herodian names have obvious implications. Compsus son of Compsus was brother of Crispus, Agrippa I's former Prefect (V. 33). He may be the man who lies at the heart of the story of Kamza and Bar Kamza at T. Bab. Gittin. 56b. See Dérenbourg, Essai sur l'Histoire et la Giographie de la Palestine (1867), 267. The Aramaic name means ‘an avaricious man’. The story is that an invitation was sent to Kamza, but Bar Kamza appeared. When the host would not receive him, Bar Kamza went to Caesar, told him that the Jews had revolted, and recommended the sending to their sacrifice of a blemished offering, which the Jews would refuse to sacrifice. The story's implications are evidently that civil dissension caused the destruction of the Jews. Josephus has the same message. But there is more to it: the rich were anxious for the Romans to come in and punish their fellow countrymen who had got out of control. Bar Kamza is the betrayer of his country.

page 352 note 1 Schalit disbelieves Josephus' statement about Chares: Josephus and Justus’, Klio (1933), 81. He identifies this Chares with the Chares who is described as leading the revolt of Gamala, and therefore distrusts Josephus' statements both about the position Chares adopted, and about the time and manner of his death. But these would be very curious—and useless—falsifications.Google Scholar

page 352 note 2 Schalit, op. cit., doubts this too, believing that there were only two parties in Tiberias and that Josephus invented the third. But subsequent events show that Justus was by no means as committed to peace as the real pro-Roman party. See the discussion below of his later activities.

page 352 note 3 Schürer, G.j.V. 4 i. I. 60, saw this clearly. Failure to recognize it has led to much unnecessary debate about Justus' position. The debate is well summarized at the beginning of Schalit's article (op. cit.).

page 352 note 4 On this see Luther, op. cit. 43 f. But Luther holds that the war could not yet have been predicted. See, however, Josephus' remarks at V. 57.

page 353 note 1 Although Thackeray maintains that the account in the Vita is ‘confused and ridiculous’ (see his note on V. 173).

page 353 note 2 In the Bellum Josephus writes that, after the cessation of the sacrifices for Rome, when saw that war was inevitable, they begged Florus and Agrippa to come and crush the insurgents (B.J. 2. 418). When Cestius reached the city, they offered to open the gates for him. But, after he had retreated, those of the who had not fled the city had to join the revolt (2. 562). This group included those members of High-Priestly families who took over the organization of the revolt, and to whom Josephus' appointment was due (2. 568).

page 354 note 1 That the Vita was an appendix is clear: see the concluding paragraph of the Vita, which is a conclusion to the whole of the Antiquities, and also A.J. 20. 266, which announces the Vita. The Vita itself has no introduction, and opens with a When Eusebius quotes from the Vita he calls it the Antiquities (H.E. 3. so. 8 ff.). All our manuscripts but one have the two works together.

page 354 note 2 As Jacoby does, loc. cit. On Greek writings which combined autobiography with self-defence, see Momigliano, The Development of Greek Biography (1971), 58 ff.

page 355 note 1 The Bellum was written after 75, wher the Temple of Pax, whose reconstruction k referred to at B.J. 7. 158, was completer (Dio 66. 15). See Niese, josephi opp. iv, p. iv but certainly before 79, when Vespasiar died. If Justus' work was published som( twenty years after it was first written, thi. would be some time after A.D. 90 (it neer not have included Masada). The death of Agrippa II would be a precise terminus pas quern-if we knew its date. On this, see below, pp. 361–2. Rühl op. cit. 307, maintains that Justus' work could not be published during Titus' lifetime because Justus told the truth about the Romans in general and Titus in particular, and was not prepared to distort history as Josephus had done in order to cast a favourable light on them. But I do not think that Josephus' history is in this way dominated by adulation of Titus (argued elsewhere). For the same reason, Luther's comparison with the Elder Pliny's delay in publication (op. cit. 69 n. 3) does not seem to be helpful: for Pliny, as a writer of Roman history, the need for adulation was a real hindrance.

page 356 note 1 For an approach which emphasizes the inconsistency, see e.g. Thackeray, josephu. the Man and the Historian (1929), t; cf 5 and 49.

page 356 note 2 Thackeray's note (Loeb, Josephus, ac B.J. 2. 568) is thus unfair, where he maino tains that the Vita talks only of a purel pacific mission, while the Bellum talks of a warlike one: B.J. 2. 569 corresponds not to V. 29 but to V. 62. As to Josephus' purpose in the Bellum, it is true that he wants to present the war as a serious and important one, but his personal motive in doing this has been exaggerated. Motzo's account, Saggi di Storia e Letteratura Giudeo—Ellenistica (1924), 221–2, is reasonably balanced. The other ‘inconsistencies’ between Josephus' two accounts need not be discussed here.

page 356 note 3 Josephus does admit, however, that initially his relationship with John of Gischala had been satisfactory: B.J. 2. 590 and 615; V. 86. cf. Luther, op. cit. 18.

page 357 note 1 Drexler in ‘Untersuchungen zu Josephus and zur Geschichte des jtidischen Auf standes 66–70’, Klio xix (1925), 277375, section ii; Schalit, op. cit. 81 ff.Google Scholar

page 358 note 1 And to a lack of appreciation of the conventions of this kind of literature. Thus Thackeray: ‘The work, in which the author indulges his vanity to the full, is, alike in matter and in manner, the least satisfactory of his writings’ (Loeb, josephus, vol. i, intr. xiv).

page 359 note 1 See the notice on the historian Hesychius (cod. 69), where the last paragraph has: and that on the three works of Dexippus (82).

page 359 note 2 Photius could be careless. For an assessment, see Henry's preface to the Budé edition of Photius' Bibliotheca (1965), xxiv-xxv. Such errors would be even more intelligible if N. G. Wilson's view, that Photius' claim to have worked from memory should be taken literally, is correct. See his article, ‘The composition of Photius’ Bibliotheca', Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, ix (1968), 451–5. For the traditional view, that Photius took notes from texts, see Ziegler in R.E. xx (1941), 690. A. Elter, Rhein. Mus. lxv (1910), 175–9, shows how Photius misunderstood the Neo-Platonic philosopher Hierocles through only glancing at a few parts of his

page 359 note 3 Under Phlegon of Tralles (cod. 97) we find his referred to as and but not Cephalion's is called (68), but that has 9 books. Eunapius (77) wrote a a work of 14 books.

page 359 note 4 See V. 40: and also 357–60: cf. Luther, op. cit. 51.

page 359 note 5 Unless we suppose that there were two editions of the A.J. or the Vita, in which case Tustus could have written after the A.J. first came out. See pp. 361–2 for a discussion.

page 360 note 1 On this see Wacholder, ‘Biblical chrono. logy in the Hellenistic World ChroniclesH.Th.R. lxi (1968), 475.Google Scholar The origin of the synchronism is probably Africanus. See Gelzer, H., Sextus Julius Africanus (1880–1898), 20.Google Scholar

page 361 note 1 Jacoby refers the reader of the Syncellus text to the fragments of Posidonius on the Jews, which are taken from Josephus' Contra Apionem and from Strabo's Geography (F.G.H. 87 F 69–70). But there is no trace there of any ideas of this kind.

page 361 note 2 See p. 365.

page 361 note 3 Niese, loc. cit., praef. v; A.J. 20. 267.

page 361 note 4 Laqueur, Der jüdische Historiker Flavius Josephus (Giessen, 1920), 1 ff. Laqueur is followed by M. Gelzer, ‘die Vita des Josephus’, Hermes lxxx (1952), 67–90, and Pelletier, Flavius Joséphe, Autobiographie (Budé 1959), pp. xiii-xiv. Against this view see Frankfort's remarks, ‘La date de l'Autobiographie de Flavius Joséphe et les œuvres de Justus de Tibériade’, Rev. Beige de Phil. et d'hist. xxxix (1961), 52–8. There are passages throughout the body of the Antiquities which suggest that Agrippa II was dead when they were written. And the Vita flatters Domitian, mentioning no subsequent Emperor.

Motzo (op. cit. 217–19) produced a simpler and better theory which was not exposed to these criticisms—that a second edition of the Vita was produced as a reply to Justus' attacks. But I find it hard to see why Josephus should have rewritten his Autobiography, a work of a different kind produced seven years earlier, instead of simply sitting down and writing a defence.

page 361 note 5 It is not necessary to recapitulate the arguments expounded by Frankfort, op. cit. There is no evidence that Agrippa was alive after 95, and perhaps not even after 92. The only possible (but not necessary) exception is an inscription (from the Hauran or Djebel Druze) where a man appears to have passed directly from the service of Agrippa to that of Trajan (Seyrig, H., Syria xlii [1965], 31–4).Google Scholar

page 361 note 6 Tillemont (Histoire des Empereurs, ii. note 41) already suspected this, without knowing the archaeological evidence. He suggested that Trajan's name was written in error for that of Titus or Domitian. Cf. also Rosenberg in R.E. x (1917), 149–50; Jones, , I.R.S. xxv (1935), 229; P.I.R. 2, 872.Google Scholar

page 362 note 1 Dindorf ii 285.

page 362 note 2 See Gelzer, op. cit. passim, for Syncellus' debt to Africanus. It is likely that any) chronographer would fit into his scheme the date when Justus' history appeared (basec on the information of Josephus.) Frankfor (op. cit.) notes that there are almost as many dates for the publication of Justus' work as there are chronographers. No specia claims are made for this explanation of how the mistake arose. Another curious detai (pointed out to me by Fergus Millar) is that Jerome's brief notice on Justus (de Vir Ill 14–15) is followed by a notice on Clement the Apostolic father, where Clement is also( said to have died in the third year of Trajan Luther (op. cit. 52, following Niese) suggests that Photius confused the date of publication of the chronicle with the last date in it.

page 362 note 3 Jacoby, R.E. x. 1345; Christ, Geschicht der griechischen Literatur,. ii I 602 (1920).

page 362 note 4 Cf. the treatment of Josephus in this respect. Origen remarked on Josephus' disbelief in Christianity and claimed (incorrectly) that Josephus explained the fall of the Temple as due to the execution of James brother of Jesus (Contra Cels. I. 47 = G.C.S. i. 97; in Matth. 10. 17 = G.C.S. X. 22. 7–14); Eusebius, who seems to have been the first surviving author to have had a text containing the Testimonium Flavianum in its present, and at least partly interpolated, form, made much of Josephus as a witness to Christ: Dem. Evang. 3. 124 (G.C.S. vi. 130-I ); H.E. I. II (G.C.S. ii. I 78–80), etc. Others followed Eusebius.

The tradition of remarking on Justus' omission had a long life; Voltaire made the same point, Œuvres, xx. 599 (Paris, 1818).

page 362 note 5 See L.S.J. s.v.

page 363 note 1 For the fragments of this author's see Jacoby, F.G.H. ii. B. 250. On the nature of the work, Schwartz, Die Königslisten des Eratosthenes und Kastor, Abh. Göttingen 40 (1895); Kubitschek in R.E. x (1919), 2350 ff.; Jacoby, F.G.H. ii. B. Comm., p. 814 ff. (1930).

page 363 note 2 It is hard precisely to assess the character of Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic chronographical writings, as is clear from Jacoby's remarks in F.G.H. ii. B. Comm. Some of the difficulties are also apparent in the article of Wacholder (op. cit.). We cannot for example, ascertain the lay-out and scope of the work of Menander of Ephesus, who, according to Josephus, wrote (C.A.I.116).

page 363 note 3 Jacoby, F.G.H. ii. B. Comm., p. 817.

page 363 note 4 See Momigliano, ‘Pagan and Christian historiography in the fourth century’, in Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (1963), and Bultmann, R., History and Eschatology (1958), 56–8, on the special importance of relative chronology to Christian historians.Google Scholar

page 363 note 5 Op. cit. 53–4.

page 353 note 6 Otto in R.E. suppl. ii (1913), 14; Rühl, op. cit. 294; and following them, Christ, ii. z. 602.Google Scholar

page 353 note 7 Loc. cit. 1344.

page 354 note 1 On Demetrius, see Freudenthal, Alex ander Polyhistor (1874), 6 ff.; Jewish Encyclo pedia iv (1903), 512; R.E. iv (1901) 2813 ff. Gutman, Jewish Hellenistic Literature Before th Maccabean Period, 132-48 (1969; Hebrew) Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria i (1972), 690-z and ii nn. 80-100. The fragments are col lected by Freudenthal, and by Jacoby F.G.H. iiic 722. Clement Strom. 1. 153. 4 gives the same title to the work of the second-century writer Eupolemus. Eusebius once refers to a part of that as(P.E. 9. 30). See F.G.H. 723 F ib and 2b. But whatever flexibility there was in the attribution of titles, a work on the Jewish War by Justus could hardly have been called ‘On the Jewish Kings’.

page 355 note 1 Op. cit. 206.

page 355 note 2 If king-lists were the first chronologies, that would be quite plausible. Since the Jews did not have a continuous history of monarchy, their patriarchs and great men would have to do instead in a survey which went back to the period of the Pentateuch.

page 355 note 3 Schürer, loc. cit. 59.

page 355 note 4 e.g. Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften, iv (1893), 349; Wachsmuth, Einleitung, 438; Schürer, loc. cit. 52.

page 356 note 1 Wacholder, op. cit. 475 n. 97, came to the same conclusion.

page 356 note 2 For the use of to mean ‘pagan Greeks’, see Jones, The Greek City (1940), 298.

page 356 note 3 For an exposition of the passage with the emendation ‘Justus’, see Gutschmid. The sense has to be: ‘Neither Phlegon and Dio, nor Justus show any interest in what is conducive to piety. Josephus, on the other hand, avoids such subjects because he is afraid of the pagans’. This interpretation involves the additional difficulty of assuming that Philostorgius was under the misconception that Justus was a pagan: hardly conceivable, if Philostorgius had read Josephus.

page 356 note 4 225–6.

page 356 note 5 Referred to first in Justin Martyr, Tryph. 52, and then appearing in Africanus, ap. Eusebius, H.E. i. 6. 2–3 and 7–11 (together with the story of how Herod had the Temple archives burnt in order to efface all memory of his ignoble origins). Finally, see Syncellus, i. 561.

page 357 note 1 Otto, R.E. viii (1912), rightly dismisses Gelzer's attempts to vindicate its truth.

page 357 note 2 See Otto, loc. cit., and Schalit, König Herodes (1969), 677; the subject is treated in detail by Schalit in ‘Die frühchristfiche Überlieferung über die Herkunft der Familie des Herodes’, A.S.T.I. (1962), 10960.

page 357 note 3 See A.J. 14. 8, where Josephus refers to Nicolaus. Schalit makes use of these arguments.

page 357 note 4 L.S.J. svR.E. 1459 ff. Tarn and Griffiths, Hellenistic Civilization (1952), 171.

page 357 note 5 Vieillefond, Les ‘Cestes’ de Julius Africanus (Florence, 1970), argues that Africanus was a Jew, but the evidence he cites seems insufficient.

page 357 note 6 The Testimonium Flavianum is partly or wholly interpolation. Of a vast literature, Norden's ‘Josephus ünd Tacitus fiber Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie’, Neue jahrbucher xxxi (1913), 637 ff., should be singled out.

page 358 note 1 Einleitung, 438.

page 358 note 2 Luther (op. cit. 52) takes the opposite view to mine, believing that Justus was popular among the Christians.

page 358 note 3 For the evidence that Nicolaus was not a Jew, see M. Stern, ‘Nicolaus of Damascus as a source of Jewish History in the Herodian and Hasmonean age’, Bible and Jewish History, Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Jacob Liver ( Jerusalem, 1971; Hebrew), 375. On Askalon: Steph. Byz., s.v. On Gadara: Jones, The Greek City, 282.

page 358 note 4 Compare Josephus on his own difficulties with Greek: he asserts that knowledge of foreign languages was frowned on by Jews (A. J. 20. 264). That does not mean that Josephus did not know the language. This study of Justus may help to put Josephus' position in perspective.

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