Mendel Got It Straight!

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A reader asks about Mendel Nuns "Bethsaida" versus the PBS series "I Claudius" which espouses Josephus' description of "Bethsaida".

Comment from James W. Fox (Houston, Texas, U.S.A.) that was published in the “Readers’ Perspective” column of Jerusalem Perspective 55 (April-June 1999): 9. Fox was commenting on Mendel Nun’s article, “Has Bethsaida Finally Been Found?”

Mendel Nun asserts that in 30 C.E. Bethsaida was renamed Julias in honor of the wife of Augustus, the mother of Tiberius. Josephus, however, said it was renamed after Julia, the daughter of Augustus.

Viewers of the PBS series “I Claudius” will be certain that Josephus was correct and Nun is wrong. They will know that years earlier Tiberius wanted to marry Augustus’ daughter Julia in order to guarantee he would succeed Augustus. (Julia, however, was eventually banished by her father for extreme immorality, and she never married Tiberius.) Viewers of the series also will know that Augustus’ second wife, the mother of Tiberius, was the scheming Livia, not Julia. They, however, will be wrong!

It is the incomparable Mendel Nun, not Josephus, who got the story straight.

Encyclopaedia Britannica notes, “Livia Drusilla (58 B.C.–A.D. 29), wife of the Roman emperor Augustus and after his death called Julia Augusta….” Thus, later in life, Livia was also called Julia. She died in 29 A.D., and one year later Bethsaida was renamed after the emperor Tiberius’ just deceased mother.

This article originally appeared in issue 55 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

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