"What Flavius Josephus Did Not See"
A couple of good quotes from Momigliano's essay "What Flavius Josephus Did Not See" that I have been chewing over:
The history of the survival of national cultures in the Roman Empire is a history that does not admit generalizations. It includes the opposite cases of Greeks who become Romans when they become Christian (and would address the pagans as Hellenes) and the Egyptians (or Syrians) who reacquired the best of their national conscience when their language (respectively Coptic and Syrian) became the language of their religion after their conversion to Christianity. In the Latin West, old regional cultures appear to have lived a subterranean life, until they reemerged (at least to a certain extent) in Latin or Neo-Latin form after the fall of the Western Empire.
Flavius Josephus writes his works in Greek especially for the readers of the Greco-Roman ruling class (Bellum Jud. 1.16), but he cannot help bearing in mind Greek-speaking Jews as well (more than he is willing to admit). The fact that he writes in Greek implies [...] the acceptance of criteria of exposition and explanation inherent in the Greek historiographic tradition. Jewish sects are characterized in the Greek style, and dominant figures are described with abundant rhetorical means unparalleled in contemporary Aramaic and Hebrew prose. It is impossible for linguistic reasons alone to express the emotions of the apocalyptics or, vice versa, the normal activities of the frequenters of the synagogue in a Greek historiographical prose. Outside of historiography, "John," author of the Apocalypse, is an original artist who, because he feels involved, succeeds in translating apocalyptic emotions into Greek despite breaking grammar and syntax. Within the historiographic tradition we learn about the synagogues, and the churches that derived from them, from "Luke," author of Acts of the Apostles, but only because he manages to create a new type of prose that is in keeping with the revolutionary situation he wants to represent. For Flavius Josephus, the adoption of the Greek language has the opposite meaning of manifesting the longing that Judaism, as he conceives of it, live within the Greco-Roman civilization. But apocalypse and synagogue are foreign to that model of Judaism which, right or wrong, he draws from the Bible, from a few other documents, and from his own experience and offers to his Gentile, or if Jewish, Hellenized readers.