Now one of the most distinguished (and ebullient) historians of ancient Jewish culture, Tessa Rajak burst onto the scene in the early 1980s with the publication of Josephus: The Historian and his Society. Many believe this book catalyzed the budding interest in the ancient Jewish historian and is partly responsible for creating a field of study devoted entirely to him. During Rajak’s career, Josephan studies has mushroomed, and now one can hardly approach ancient history—particularly ancient Jewish and Christian history—without climbing the mountain of literature on Josephus.
Rajak is currently one of the key investigators in a new project funded by the AHRC and the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies entitled “The Reception of Josephus in Jewish Culture from the 18th century to the Present.” She is joined by Andrea Schatz, Reader in Jewish Studies at King’s College, London, and Martin D. Goodman, Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford, and Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.
Their research project (website here) includes a full series of workshops, and they are already underway. Goodman and Schatz will also contribute a number of publications during the course of this project. We wanted to talk to Rajak not only about this current work, but also about her impact on the study of Josephus.