Cleodemus Malchus

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CLEODEMUS MALCHUS (2nd century b.c.e.), obscure Hellenistic historian, held by some to be Jewish. Josephus records in the name of Alexander Polyhistor that a certain "Cleodemus the Prophet, also called Malchus" wrote a history of the Jews (Jos., Ant., 1:238–41). The epithet "the Prophet" and the syncretistic nature of the fragment led Freudenthal to believe that Cleodemus Malchus must have been a Samaritan. Schuerer, however, disputes this theory stating that at that period such syncretistic tendencies were also common to Jews. In fact, there is reason to believe that he was neither Samaritan nor Jew, for neither would refer to Moses as "their lawgiver" (although this phrase may be by Alexander Polyhistor). The title "the Prophet" may indicate a temple official which implies Phoenician or Nabatean origin. Also, in view of the fact that Josephus never consciously quotes Greco-Jewish writers, it is most likely that Cleodemus Malchus was not a Jew.


J. Freudenthal, Hellenistische Studien, 2 (1875), 130–6; Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 481.

[Ben Zion Wacholder]