The historical accounts of ancient Jewish history written by Flavius Josephus have long been recognized as invaluable resources to those wanting to understand biblical times. Josephus is undoubtedly the most reliable (but not infallible) extrabiblical author of Jewish antiquity. He lived during the first century, having been born shortly after the time of Jesus. He wrote numerous volumes which were eventually organized into two great books; the first, entitled The Jewish War, chronicles the war with Rome that resulted in the fall of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish people in A.D. 70. The second is called Jewish Antiquities and covers many events from creation to the outbreak of war with Rome.
While extremely valuable for the understanding of biblical times, few Bible students have actually read these volumes due to the great length, redundancy, overlap with Scripture, tendencies to exaggerate, and sheer weight of peripheral details and matters that hold little interest to most readers today. This is where Paul Maier comes to the rescue. One of the foremost scholars today in the area of Jewish and Christian history, Maier has provided us with a readable Josephus. He has cut the fat, leaving out unimportant details and conversations, condensing events and providing us with the essential information from Josephus. The result is a mere 400 pages of highly interesting material that any serious reader could comprehend.
Josephus, the Essential Works expanded and enhanced from the earlier Josephus, the Essential Writing is an absolutely gorgeous hardcover volume, written on the finest paper with 91 full-color photographs, 21 maps, illustrations and charts, and 19 sidebar discussions. This book is a joy to read as well as extremely helpful in understanding biblical times, especially the period of the Jewish war.