Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jacob Watts

Memoirs of The Destruction is the second manuscript that Jacob Watts left with my mother, Audrey Helen Watts, in 1954 or 1955. Portions of one of the narratives that is interwoven here were written originally in German, which was translated by my father more than fifty years ago. My mother believed that another version of the manuscript, perhaps entirely in German, was left with an Anglican rector in Winnipeg. To date I have not been able to verify this.

As with The Sailing of Isis, two perspectives tell the story, this one of the revolt of AD 66 to 70 and the final days of the Second Temple. One narrative is that of a physician in service to Queen Berenice, one of the last of the Herods, who with her brother, usually called Agrippa II by historians, was in Jerusalem at the beginning of the revolt and tried to stop it. The other narrative is that of a boy from a minor priestly family who becomes a rebel but escapes the final conflagration. Mahli son of Zabdi in time joins the Pharisees and others who begin those debates on the law that a century later would produce the Mishnah and eventually the Talmud. I do not believe there is any historical basis for either character but, not being multilingual as was my uncle, my access to the historical sources is minimal.

John Ensminger, November 11, 2009

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