Thursday, July 15, 2010

John Barclay:
Manetho & his reception by Josephus
Ο Μανέθων και η πρόσληψή του από τον Ιώσηπο

 Manetho's "Aegyptiaca" / Αιγυπτιακά του Μανέθωνα #

Although his work is known to us only in précis or fragments, Manetho has attracted immense scholarly interest both for the data he provides on Egyptian chronology and for light he might shed on the origins of “anti-Judaism.” Our knowledge of his life is very sparse. The sources (which spell his name variously, generally Μανέθως or Μανέθων) agree on his status as Egyptian priest, but differ in locating him at Sebennytus or Heliopolis. His life apparently spanned the reigns of Ptolemy I Soter (305—282 BCE) and his successor, Philadelphus (282—246 BCE). Tradition associates him with one or the other in introducing a cult-statue of Serapis at Alexandria (Plutarch, Is. Os. 361-362), and he evidently played some part in mediating between Hellenistic culture and native Egyptian tradition in the new Ptolemaic regime (see Laqueur 1928: 1060-64; Waddell 1940: x-xiv; Fraser 1972: 505-11).

Manetho’s only known significant work is his Αιγυπτιακά, a three-volume survey of Egyptian history from the creation of the world to the reign of Nectanebo (341 BCE). So far as we can tell, Manetho melded material from priestly chronicles and popular narratives of various kinds, though the two are not as neatly separable as Josephus claims (Apion 1.105, 228-29). Although some Greeks had written about Egyptian history and culture (e.g., Herodotus and Hecataeus of Abdera), Manetho was probably the first to present in Greek a full indigenous account, for which he could claim superior access to Egyptian sources (and thus criticise Herodotus, 1.73). This self-presentation has been labelled “apologetic historiography,” a phenomenon parallel to, perhaps even influenced by, the work of Berosus (Sterling 1992: 117-36). But the stance seems more aggressive than defensive: native pride here employs Hellenistic tools to glorify Egypt, at the expense of other nations (Mendels 1990). In such “autoethnography” (Pratt 1994) Manetho is a forerunner of Josephus, who nearly four hundred years later would selectively affirm and ridicule Manetho’s material for his own very different purposes.

Josephus provides our only full citations from Manetho. However, at some point the Αιγυπτιακά was condensed into an epitome known to us via the early Christian chronographers Julius Africanus (d. 240 CE), Eusebius (260—340 CE) and Syncellus (ca. 800 CE); for them it provided an important resource in tracing the course of world history (see chart in Labow 2005: 63). Since these sources are themselves intertwined in complex ways, and indicate that Manetho’s text had suffered alterations and additions over the centuries, the reconstruction of Manetho’s original king-lists proves to be a highly complex and often uncertain procedure. The full evidence, collected in FHG 2.512-616, was reassembled and reassessed by Waddell (1940) and Jacoby (FGH 609); an extensive appraisal has also been offered by Laqueur (1928), Helck (1956), and Redford (1986).

Where Josephus cites Manetho, does he provide a reliable account of his work, or is he dependent on an altered and interpolated text? The question has engendered intense scholarly debate. Pursuing earlier critical questions, Meyer (1904: 71-79) offered an elegant source-critical analysis which laid the foundation for subsequent discussion. He argued that Josephus did not know Manetho’s work at first-hand, but was using one or more copies of edited excerpts. The original Manetho is to be found in Apion 1.75-82, 94-97 (the Hyksos story and its aftermath), possibly in 1.98-101 (Sethos and Harmais), and certainly in 1.232-249 (the leper story); but the paraphrase in 1.84-90 (which contains doublets with the story in 1.75-82) is from a reworking of Manetho, and the crucial links with the Judeans effected in 1.83 and 1.91 (by etymology), in 1.102 (dating via Danaus), and in 1.250 (identifying Osarsiph and Moses) are emendations or additions to Manetho’s text. The reference to “another copy” in 1.83 (with its confused repetition in 1.91) was, for Meyer, clear evidence that Josephus, or his source, knew variant versions of Manetho, and the accretions to the original can be identified by observing the contradictions, overlaps, and inconsistencies in Josephus’ text.

Such source-critical analysis was pursued further by Weill (1918: 71-145) and Laqueur (1928: 1064-80), who each adapted and modified Meyer’s arguments. Weill disagreed with Meyer on the reconstruction of 1.94 (the king who expelled the Hyksos) and took many aspects of Manetho’s story to reflect recurrent legendary motifs, rather than historical events. Egyptian tradition contained various versions of disasters, some associated with foreign invasions, some with polluted natives. The “shepherd” (Hyksos) story represents the first, the “leper” story the second, and both had been associated with Judeans before Manetho’s time; Manetho simply linked both to Jerusalem and combined them, somewhat awkwardly, in 1.232-49. In subsequent Alexandrian debates, a “philo-semitic” version of Manetho retold the Hyksos story (so 1.84-90 and the false etymologies) and an “anti-semitic” version edited and added to the “leper” story (so 1.250). Josephus had both these versions before him (see Weill’s summary, 1918: 133-45). Laqueur’s analysis was considerably more complex, entailing two stages in Josephus’ acquaintance with Manetho, first with the authentic Manetho (of whom he approved) then with the variant versions, both friendly and hostile to Jews, which he incorporated or resented; Josephus also found, and incorporated in 1.254-77, a pagan rationalistic critique of Manetho (see summary in Laqueur 1928: 1079-80, translated in Waddell 1940: xvii-xix).

These analyses demonstrate both the strength and the weaknesses of source-criticism. In the quest to find the original Manetho (which is crucial for Egyptologists), these critics made highly acute observations on the oddities, confusions, gaps, and overlaps in the material conveyed by Josephus. Their careful attention to the text has scarcely been bettered, and they had good grounds to suspect the presence of Manetho-adaptations, not only in texts such as 1.83 and 1.250, but also in the strained associations between the Hyksos, or the “lepers,” and Judeans. The difficulties begin with the explanations of these phenomena, which require the positing of several intermediary layers between Manetho and Josephus; the more ingenious the hypotheses, the less plausible they seem. Apart from the further speculative proposals advanced by Momigliano (1975b), no significant new source-critical hypotheses have been proposed since Laqueur, not because the puzzles are solved but because even the simpler “solutions” seem unproveable. Most hypotheses appear over-confident, especially in proposing the tendencies of the editors of Manetho—in this case two contrasting tendencies in different layers of editing. The presumption that Josephus accurately represents what he found in his sources (Meyer 1904: 71-72; Weill 1918: 92, 98) is especially vulnerable to criticism. So too is the hypothesis that Judeans before Josephus had linked a modified version of the Hyksos story to their own accounts of the exodus (Weill 1918: 87-88, 108; Laqueur 1928: 1071-72; cf. Gruen 1998: 57-67, who proposes Judean insertion of the Solymite invasion into the “leper” story). If we must allow for confusions introduced by Josephus (whose text is also insecure at crucial points), and for the possibility that Manetho himself created doublets and added asides, it becomes increasingly uncertain what we can attribute to the editing processes between Manetho and Josephus.

The lasting legacy of source-criticism is its perception of the problems in the text. In our case those problems particularly cluster at the beginnings and endings of Josephus’ citations from Manetho (e.g., 1.82-83, 94, 102, 250). Unfortunately, the source-critical problem has become entangled with a larger question, on the origins of “anti-Judaism.” In debate on this topic, much weight has been placed on determining whether Manetho connected either of his stories with “Judeans,” and if so, what such connections might imply. In pursuit of this agenda, the early source critics are often cited (perhaps less often studied), but the discussion has been bedevilled by ill-defined notions of “anti-Judaism,” and lack of clarity about what in Manetho’s stories would constitute a connection with Judaism.

Three main opinions are detectable:

i) Some scholars consider that Manetho made no allusion to Judeans in either the Hyksos or the leper stories. He may have made reference in both to Jerusalem (so Heinemann 1931: 26-28; Gabba 1989: 630-36), or those references may be interpolations (so Jacoby in FGH 609), but the identification of Moses with Osarsiph in 1.250 is an “antisemitic” addendum not to be attributed to Manetho; neither story was connected to Judeans or Judaism, either in origin or in Manetho’s version (cf. Gager 1972: 113-18).

ii) Others have argued that, although the Hyksos story was, for Manetho, innocent of any connection with Judeans, the depiction of the “Solymite” return to Egypt and the description of the leper-leader in 1.238-39 are implicit references to Judeans, even if 1.250 is a later addition (Tcherikover 1959: 361-64; Aziza 1987: 49-55; cf. Schürer 3.595-96).

iii) Others again think that the references to “Jerusalem” in both Manetho’s stories imply that he considered the Hyksos the ancestors of the Judeans, whose nation was subsequently augmented by the expelled “lepers.” Thus both stories convey an anti-Judean animus. This case was presented on insufficient grounds by Pucci ben Ze’ev (1993), but is well argued, with detailed response to Meyer, by Schäfer (1997b); cf. Sevenster 1975: 184-88; Stern 1.62-65.

Crucial evidence for this latter argument is the presence in Hecataeus of an association between the Judeans’ departure from Egypt and Egyptian tales of foreigners and plague (apud Diodorus 40.1-3). This parallel was important in Weill’s argument that the various Egyptian sagas had been associated with the Judeans already before Manetho. Whether, or in what sense, this represents “anti-Judaism” is a moot point (cf. Willrich 1895: 53-56), but such material has been significant for the case that hostility to Judeans began in Egypt in pre-Ptolemaic times (see Yoyotte 1963 and Schäfer 1997a). Others have suggested that Manetho himself represents its beginning (associated with the publication of the LXX and/or envy of Judean roles in the Ptolemaic regime), while those who follow option i) suggest that it was only in later Alexandrian conditions that anti-Judaism wormed its way into the Manethonian text by scribal corruption. See further, on this topic, Appendix 3.

For our purposes, since our focus is on Josephus’ text, we are not concerned here to reconstruct the “authentic Manetho.” Clearly, to appreciate Josephus’ use of his source it would be helpful to know precisely what he had before him. But on many occasions, given the difficulty of the material, we have to remain agnostic on this matter, while noting the various options. But we should keep open the possibility that Josephus himself has caused some of the difficulties and confusions that the source-critics have spotlighted, either by his selection, truncation, and paraphrase of his sources, or by his own adjustments to his “cited” texts. Josephus can be at times a clumsy writer, introducing inconsistencies by his own rhetorical and historical maneuvers, and our analysis of his rhetorical needs or goals will sometimes suggest that he, rather than redactors, may have adapted and misrepresented Manetho. For further bibliography on Manetho and the history of Egypt in the relevant period, see Labow 2005: 53-58.

* John M. G. (RTL) Barclay (author) & Steve Mason (editor),
Flavius Josephus: Against Apion,
Brill Academic Publishers, 2006,
pp./σσ. 335-337.

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