Josephus constructs the Samari(t)ans: A strategic construction of judaean/jewish identity through the rhetoric of inclusion and exclusion

Sung Uk Lim

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In this essay I argue that Josephus performs a dual dynamic discourse made up of the discourses of inclusion and exclusion in various dimensions - ethnic, geographical, political, religious, and cultural - so as eventually to construct Judaean/Jewish identity in both an inclusive and exclusive relationship with the Samarians/Samaritans in the context of the destruction of the Second Temple. What is interesting is that Josephus does not deploy the rhetoric of inclusion and the rhetoric of exclusion in a dichotomous manner (sameness vs. difference), but along a continuum with varying degrees of both sameness and difference. It is assumed that the boundary per se between Judaeans/Jews and Samarians/Samaritans is fictive and fluid rather than real and fixed. Therefore, Josephus' attitudes towards the Samarians/Samaritans can be inclusive at times and exclusive at other times, depending on a specific context. The point is that for Josephus, Judaean/Jewish identity-making consists of the twofold process of both assimilation with and distinction from the Samarians/Samaritans. In this regard, Josephus makes the most of the Samarians/Samaritans as a foil against which the Judaean/Jewish people may establish a strategic construction of their identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-431
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies

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