Historian; lived in Alexandria in the second century
The departure from Egypt is then recounted, with many haggadic additions and embellishments. The astounding assertion, that Moses and the Patriarchs were the founders of the Egyptian religion, led Freudenthal to the assumption that "Artapanus" must be a pseudonym assumed by some Jewish writer who desired to be taken for an Egyptian priest, in order to give greater weight to his words. This supposition, however, as Schürer points out, is highly improbable, and fails to explain the remarkable phenomenon of a Jew ascribing a Jewish origin to the Egyptian pantheon. It is much more probable that Artapanus belonged to a syncretistic circle of philosophers that saw no such grave objection to a moderate idolatry as to prevent its being accepted as of Jewish origin. Having adopted the Greek fables that derived the Egyptian cult from Grecian heroes, and having identified these heroes with Biblical personages, he had no alternative but to trace the idolatry of Egypt to a Jewish source.
[Or, Artapanus' position may have been somewhat as follows: Thinking it necessary for the honor of the Jewish people that they should be regarded as the source of all religion, he chose to attribute to them the origin of the Egyptian religion in spite of difficulties that he may have felt in connection with its idolatry.—
- Dähne, Geschichtl. Darstellung, ii. 200-203;
- Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor, pp. 143-174, 215, 231 et seq.;
- Susemihl, Gesch. der Griechischen Literatur, ii. 646 et seq.;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, iii. 606;
- Willrich, Juden und Griechen, p. 160;
- Schürer, Gesch. iii. 354-357, who gives further references.