©1998 Barbour and Company, Inc.
For the average person interested in the background of the New Testament, or even simply the history of the first century, Josephus should be required reading. However, his style in the traditional English translation of 1739-41 seems to be so forbidding to many that they don't even make the attempt. "Thrones of Blood" is an excellent place to start because it combines the most pertinent material from two of Josephus' histories ("The Antiquities of the Jews" and "The Jewish War") into one continuous simplified narrative which "reads more like a novel than a history book." The English is paraphrased into modern style and is very easy to understand.
Listeners need to keep in mind, though, that a paraphrase is really an interpretation. In this case I have generally found it to be very accurate; but having heard what is has to say, it should be checked against a more literal translation if you want to be sure of the exact words of Josephus in any particular sentence. The narrator of the audiobook is pleasant to listen to, and although he sometimes mispronounces a few of the ancient names, that doesn't have to detract from the story (which is really quite gripping). The main drawback is that since the print version is already an abridgment of Josephus, the audiobook is an abridgment of an abridgment. This makes it more of a "scan," with the result that in a few places it becomes difficult to follow who was who. Repeated listenings should cure this problem, however.
All in all, I highly recommend "Thrones of Blood" as a place to start for everyone. It would also be great for someone simply wanting a refresher on Josephus, or even just a good read. It has rekindled my interest to read through the complete edition of Josephus. I hope it will do the same for you, too; but even if it doesn't, the "Thrones of Blood" audiobook will give you a wealth of background material for understanding where we are today.
Just an average Joe.
It gave me a much better understanding of that period of time.
The first person perspective.
He did well.
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