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Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography
Gregory E. Sterling
Publication Date
December 2005


For centuries scholars have recognized the apologetic character of the Hellenistic Jewish historians, Josephos, and Luke-Acts; they have not, however, adequately addressed their possible relationships to each other and to their wider cultures. In this first full systematic effort to set these authors within the framework of Greco-Roman traditions, Professor Sterling has used genre criticism as a method for locating a distinct tradition of historical writing: apologetic historiography.

Apologetic historiography is the story of a subgroup of people that deliberately Hellenizes the traditions of the group in an effort to provide a self-definition within the context of the larger world. It arose as a result of a dialectic relationship with Greek ethnography. This work traces the evolution of this tradition through three major eras of eastern Mediterranean history spanning six hundred years: the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman.

Gregory E. Sterling, Ph.D. (1990) in New Testament, Graduate Theological Union, is Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame. In addition to writing various articles on apologetic historiography, he is co-editor of the Studia Philonica Annual, the general editor of the Philo of Alexandria Commentary series, and the general editor of the Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity series.

“Sterling’s study is of great value to anyone wanting to know where Luke-Acts fits in the ancient world of history writing.”
—Darrell L. Bock, Westminster Theological Journal

Sterling “is nothing if not complete, and readers will be interested in his analysis of the way the Septuagint has influenced Luke-Acts.”
—T. Rajak, Society for Old Testament Study