15 The description is vague (merely
συχνοί), and suggests that Josephus is responding to a general mood of disbelief in Judean self-claims, rather than specific critics of his work (see below). A preface has to indicate the necessity of the work, and this is often expressed in polemical statements regarding the inadequacy or wrong-headedness of others; cf.
War 1.1-3, 13-16. The “people” mentioned here are defined by two participles in the Greek: they “pay attention to slanders …” and “disbelieve what I have written …” They are not themselves the “slanderers” (whose slander is left undefined: see below), but by associating their doubt with such “slander” and “malice” Josephus brings even the initial topic of this treatise (a proof of Judean antiquity) into the overarching strategy of apologetic (see Introduction, § 5).