2009-05-02

Cuckoo in the nest, 3 — why ALL proposed TFs are unJosephan

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by Neil Godfrey

Back into Josephus and the TF.

I think my original draft really began at the heading Continuing the context of TF in Book 18 below — that is probably the best place to start for continuity with my previous post.

I can scarcely recall where I left off now, and the first part of this post might be repeating some of what I wrote earlier, be disjointed, etc. And feel guilty enough taking the time to even do this post.

Skip down to Continuing the context of TF in Book 18 for my original planned start and better continuity with previous post.

Before resuming the TF’s conflict with the ideological and literary context of the TF in Antiquities, I’ll hit on one point that I have not seen addressed in any of the discussions of this passage.

Missing the forest for the trees

Every discussion about this passage addresses the impossibility of Josephus calling Jesus the Christ. Most say the “Christ” reference is a forgery, even though many simultaneously affirm that Josephus acknowledges the followers of Jesus were named after this title, “Christians”. So the logic of the passage insists “Christ” was included at the same time as the description of the Christians. The one pen had to have written both.

But that’s not the real issue. I think I’ve already addressed that argument and it is missing the forest for the trees.

The real issue is that Josephus is writing at a time when Christians were supposedly worshiping Jesus as God even though once he had been a mortal. Did Josephus not know about this little doctrinal detail among Christians of his day? How could it be possible he not know? If he did know, how can we explain his failure to savage “the race of Christians” for blasphemy? Now there’s an argument from silence that is too loud for many to hear, I suspect. (Thanks, Steven, for alerting us to the bleeding obvious!)

The hostile TF

Not even Eisler, in his “scholarly reconstruction” attempting to demonstrate how Josephus probably wrote pretty much the opposite of what all the text say he wrote, thought to include this. This of course would have met with knowing nods and raised eyebrows from Jewish and gentile audiences alike who would recognize the truth of what he said, and have been the most obvious point of contention or notice to a Jew or anyone else, outdistancing some obscure or ambiguous claims to “messiahship” by light years.

Now about this time arose an occasion for new disturbances, a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man, who was the most monstrous of men, whom his disciples call a son of God, as having done wonders such as no man has ever done…. He was in fact a teacher of astonishing tricks to such men as accept the abnormal with delight…. And he seduced many Jews and many also of the Greek nation, and was regarded by them as the Messiah…. And when, on the indictment of the principal men among us, Pilate had sentenced him to the cross, still those who before had admired him did not cease to rave. For it seemed to them that having been dead for three days, he had appeared to them alive again, as the divinely-inspired prophets had foretold — these and ten thousand other wonderful things — concerning him. And even now the race of those who are called ‘Messianists’ after him is not extinct.

I have at last found an excuse to introduce this particular explanation for the TF.

Later in the post I will show how even this passage expressing the deepest animosity against Jesus fails to contain the tell-tale genuine signature of Josephus, and in fact, when compared with accounts of other ‘messianists’ like Theudas and the Egyptian et al, is decidedly unJosephan.

A more general observation before that, though —

There is absolutely no evidence for any assertion that Josephus wrote something hostile about Jesus and Christians. Origen did not address such a passage when answering his Jewish critic, Celsus, whom he uses as a foil to answer all Jewish objections to Christianity. In this case the perfectly sensible understanding that Josephus could not have written the passage about Jesus has led to the assumption that it Josephus must have written something else about Jesus for which we have no support whatever. Surely the far more economical argument, one that sits most easily with all the extant absence of evidence prior to the fourth century, is that a scribe simply introduced the passage wholesale. The passage does after all cohere as a complete syntactical unit with its most obviously fraudulent phrase (Jesus was the Messiah) being affirmed as original to the passage by the final sentence’s referring back to it to explain the origin of the name of Christians. The fact that the passage contains several “Josephan” words that, on closer inspection, are found repeatedly in the surrounding passages, detracts not a whit from the weight of evidence for all of it being an interpolation. Any scribe copying the text of Josephus will more than likely find some of the language he has been copying coming to him almost by second nature.

The above were comments that came to mind just now; below is an editing of notes I had left from way back to continue previous posts . . . .

Starting again

The purpose of this post is to continue an attempt to demonstrate that the Jewish historian Josephus could not possibly have written anything mildly positive or even neutral about Jesus and the early Christians, and that attempts to find some “Josephan core” in the passage about Jesus in his Antiquities run against the intent and themes and messages guiding Josephus throughout his historical work.

Josephan vocabulary not so decisive

Some scholars attempt to establish that a passage about Jesus found in a work by Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, is not a complete forgery on the grounds that several words in that passage are typical of Josephus. Some even suggest that what Josephus originally wrote about Jesus was pretty much the opposite of what we read in that passage today, and that instead of speaking favourably of Jesus and his disciples, he in fact spoke of them with hostility.

Attempting to establish an original on the basis of a few words, while overlooking the thematic and philosophical positions that frame his entire work does not work. The words that are typically Josephan in this Jesus passage, the TF (Testimonium Flavianum), are found again within a few sentences of the questionable passage, as if begging to be picked up by a copyist jotting in his TF note.

our principal men

Antiquities 18:1

there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men (andron ton proton)

Antiquities 18.3 (TF)

And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men (proton andron) amongst us . . . .

with pleasure receive

Antiquities 18.1

so men received what they said with pleasure
kai hêdonêi gar tên akroasin hôn legoien edechonto hoi anthrôpoikai

Antiquities 18.3 (TF)

a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.
didaskalos anthrôpôn tôn hêdonêi talêthê dechomenôn,

Edechonto (18.1) is a form of dechomai (18.3), meaning “to receive” — the Perseus Tufts dictionary.

Of course, and with very good reasons, the significance of these Josephan (cum  copyist’s) words has a right to measured alongside the preponderance of Eusebian words, as referenced in my earlier post.

To continue the core of this argument. . . An earlier post worked through the content and themes of Josephus up to the place where we find the TF, and noted Josephus’s interest in extolling the virtues of preserving ancient customs, especially the Mosaic ones, and condemning “self-seeking innovators” who bring only calamity on the rest of the Jewish people.

The time Josephus was composing Antiquities, around 90 c.e., was when Christians were supposedly making their unwelcome mark on the world as an apocalyptic sect. Their rift with Mosaic traditions was well known to the Jewish community. Jewish synagogues apparently cast their Christian Jewish associates out of their fellowship. Yet every paragraph of Josephus up to this passage in book 18 of Antiquities is infused with the virtue of the observance of traditional Mosaic customs. Josephus regularly condemns apocalyptic individuals and groups as destructive deviants. Sins of impiety and hypocrisy associated with the temple, even with a pagan temple in Rome, are shown to bring down only condign calamities on the guilty and innocent alike. Yet a Christian message found in all the gospels was that Jesus violently disrupted the customs of the Jewish Temple. Most Christians apparently looked on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet predicting the end of Roman and human rule generally. And worshipped this Jewish man as God whom all races, Jews included, were commanded to worship.

And we are asked to accept that Josephus could only speak neutrally or mildly positively about them and their leader?

The missing summary of the teachings

Then we have the odd silence in the TF about the specific teachings of Jesus and his followers. Josephus has shown his interest in informing his readers of the prominent details of the teachings and practices of the good and bad of Jewish movements and “philosophies” but in the TF we only read a brief statement that could almost be mistaken as a summary confessional creed.

The TF speaks only of “wise” teachings of Jesus while failing to tell us a single one of these, and failing to address the anti-Mosaic character of the teachings of his followers. The TF also speaks of Jews and gentiles following Jesus as one, yet all our other sources inform us of conflicts between Jewish and gentile Christians. Not only conflicts per se, but conflicts over the very traditions that Josephus held the most precious and attempted to honour in the minds of his readers.

It is not like Josephus to leave details of the teachings of another sect untouched. Compare the preceding two paragraphs in Book 18 where the TF appears. Compare 18:1.2-6, 18:5.2:

The Jews had for a great while had three sects of philosophy peculiar to themselves; the sect of the Essens, and the sect of the Sadducees, and the third sort of opinions was that of those called Pharisees; of which sects, although I have already spoken in the second book of the Jewish War, yet will I a little touch upon them now.

Now, for the Pharisees, they live meanly, and despise delicacies in diet; and they follow the conduct of reason . . . .

But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies; nor do they regard the observation of any thing besides what the law enjoins them . . . .

The doctrine of the Essens is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, . . . .

But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death . . . .

John, that was called the Baptist . . . was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. (There is a problem with this passage in a Josephan context, but will save that for another post, along with my reasons for including it here.)

And this is just what Josephus instructed his readers to expect from him in the Preface to Antiquities, para 4:

those that read my book may wonder how it comes to pass, that my discourse, which promises an account of laws and historical facts, contains so much of philosophy. The reader is therefore to know, that Moses deemed it exceeding necessary, that he who would conduct his own life well, and give laws to others, in the first place should consider the Divine nature . . . . .

The absence of a summary of the teachings of Jesus is indeed strange if Josephus really did write anything about Jesus and his followers. One would have a right to expect Josephus to drop a few snippets about how the “philosophy” of Jesus and Christians in their own way promoted the divine nature and Mosaic heritage, or how it violated it and thus contributed to the ruin of the nation. Given the rank Josephus gives to Moses, it is difficult to imagine him having much tolerance for a sect who claimed its leader outranked Moses and was the very embodiment of the divine nature Moses saw only dimly.

original continuation from previous post . . . .

Continuing the context of TF in Book 18

This post continues (for my own satisfaction at least) an outline of the remainder of Book 18 of Antiquities to reinforce the above points, that the themes and interests of Josephus were such that he simply had no room for even a neutral comment about Jesus and Christians.

Josephus does not compose a rambling history that is “just one damned thing after another“. His anecdotes are tied together by a theme and subthemes.

His themes are

  • the supreme, even divine, benefit of the Jewish religious heritage for the rest of humanity,
  • and the living and powerful relevance of this heritage by a demonstration of its benefits when obeyed,
  • and the calamities that ensue when it is violated.

When Josephus relates the fortunes of the Jews, the theme of divine Providence, with its testings, rewardings and punishments, is never too far away.

We also observe his unstated theme of honouring the Roman imperial establishment, and promoting an honourable place for the Jews within Roman civilization.

(I must confess I have read very little scholarly work about Josephus, so my comments are necessarily limited to a very large extent to my own observations. I am open to more nuanced and up to date inputs, of course.)

These themes are introduced in his Preface, paras 2, 3 and 4:

Now I have undertaken the present work, as thinking it will appear to all the Greeks worthy of their study; for it will contain all our antiquities, and the constitution of our government, as interpreted out of the Hebrew Scriptures. And indeed I did formerly intend, when I wrote of the war, to explain who the Jews originally were, – what fortunes they had been subject to, – and by what legislature they had been instructed in piety, and the exercise of other virtues, – what wars also they had made in remote ages, till they were unwillingly engaged in this last with the Romans: . . . .

Upon the whole, a man that will peruse this history, may principally learn from it, that all events succeed well, even to an incredible degree, and the reward of felicity is proposed by God; but then it is to those that follow his will, and do not venture to break his excellent laws: and that so far as men any way apostatize from the accurate observation of them, what was practical before becomes impracticable and whatsoever they set about as a good thing, is converted into an incurable calamity. And now I exhort all those that peruse these books, to apply their minds to God; and to examine the mind of our legislator [Moses] . . . .

But because almost all our constitution depends on the wisdom of Moses, our legislator, I cannot avoid saying somewhat concerning him beforehand, though I shall do it briefly; I mean, because otherwise those that read my book may wonder how it comes to pass, that my discourse, which promises an account of laws and historical facts, contains so much of philosophy. The reader is therefore to know, that Moses deemed it exceeding necessary, that he who would conduct his own life well, and give laws to others, in the first place should consider the Divine nature; and, upon the contemplation of God’s operations, should thereby imitate the best of all patterns, so far as it is possible for human nature to do, and to endeavor to follow after it: neither could the legislator himself have a right mind without such a contemplation; nor would any thing he should write tend to the promotion of virtue in his readers; I mean, unless they be taught first of all, that God is the Father and Lord of all things, and sees all things, and that thence he bestows a happy life upon those that follow him; but plunges such as do not walk in the paths of virtue into inevitable miseries. Now when Moses was desirous to teach this lesson to his countrymen, he did not begin the establishment of his laws after the same manner that other legislators did; I mean, upon contracts and other rights between one man and another, but by raising their minds upwards to regard God, and his creation of the world;

And at the opening of Book 18 Josephus narrows the focus of the above themes:

All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left,) and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies’ fire. Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundations of our future miseries, by this system of philosophy, which we were before unacquainted withal, concerning which I will discourse a little, and this the rather because the infection which spread thence among the younger sort, who were zealous for it, brought the public to destruction.

Observe the fleshing out of these themes in the rest of Book 18, keeping in mind, of course, the contrast with that strange TF:

Ch. 4 – Relief from calamity: Rome restores ancestral customs

  • After Pilate’s removal the new Roman in charge, Vitellius, reduced taxation in Jerusalem and, . . .
  • especially noteworthy, restored the ancient religious practice of the Jews themselves having the guardianship of the High Priest’s garments and accoutrements.

Josephus writes a considerably lengthy narrative explaining how the Jews had originally lost control of these to Rome, and how they were now restored, “as in the days of our forefathers“.

Again Josephus’s primary interest is in the preservation, or restoration, of traditional Mosaic law and customs as a matter of national pride and honour, and in being able to pass on a knowledge of the details of how an ancient religious custom was both broken and restored.

Ch. 4 – Relief from war: Rome makes peace with Parthia – and Jewish involvement

  • Josephus now presents Rome’s (Tiberius’s) dealings with the kingdom of Parthia, its past wars and noble and praiseworthy efforts to secure peace, in detail.
  • He also brings in the treacherous involvement of King Herod and prepares his audience for blowback on this self-seeking troublemaker.

Ch. 4 – The good depart

  • Josephus laments the passing of Herod’s brother, Philip. Philip’s personal goodness and justice are illustrated, along with the justly deserved honours bestowed at his death. Specific acts of righteousness and noble character are worthy of historical memory and elaboration.
  • Philip’s goodness is also a foil to bring out more forcefully the wickedness of Herod.

Ch. 5 – Herod’s sins bring more calamity on the Jews

  • Herod’s unfaithfulness to his wife (daughter of the King Aretas of Arabia Petres) as much as a border dispute, led to a war between Herod and Aretas. Herod’s army was destroyed.

(There is another strange paragraph appearing here in our manuscripts of Antiquities, but this is the subject of another post. For now I will comment only that a story of John the Baptist is told as a strange “non-event” in terms of the rest of the history. It is bracketed by “some Jews thought” that the reason for Herod’s defeat was divine judgment from God for his treatment of John the Baptist. This is so vague as to be meaningless in the context of Josephan history. Josephus tells us who suspected what, and gives some narrative linkage to the events to explain the suspicion or views. And in cases of divine judgment Josephus himself normally implies or states directly his own opinion. So this passage, which breaks the thought of a longer narrative without some direct or indirect comment (which is also unusual), is another worthy of suspect of a later insertion.)

Ch. 5 – Rome’s deference to Jewish ancestral customs

  • A Roman commander sent to punish King Aretas was about to march through Judea, but was reminded that the Jews would not welcome the Roman ensigns into their land. Josephus extols the commander for his respect for Jewish ancestral customs by marching his legions around Judea.
  • Not only that, but he also went up to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice to God at a Jewish festival. Josephus drops in a “footnote”  remark that he also rearranged the political (high priesthood) leadership while he was there.
  • Josephus next informs his audience of divine providence and fulfilment of oracles at work when the planned attack on Aretas was called off.

Ch. 5 – Herod’s family

  • Josephus finds here the appropriate space to detail who was who, with brief biographical notes, of Herod’s family offspring. The purpose, he makes clear, is to teach his audience the workings of Providence, once again. This time it is to illustrate from this case study how having many children counts for nothing in the long-run. It is piety that counts.

Ch. 6 – The fall and rise of Agrippa

  • Josephus then regales us with the lengthy drama of the fall and rise of Herod’s successor, King Agrippa. Agrippa, Josephus informs us, was “a person most worthy of admiration”. It is a drama – also a morality tale – involving fall from fortune, hardship, rejection, imprisonment, danger for his life, divinely inspired prophecy, shrewd acts (not necessarily Agrippa’s) to bring about his restoration, jealousy and troubles he faced when he was restored, and his final safe assumption of the kingdom.

(Incidentally, there are some interesting points of contact between Agrippa’s adventures and those of Paul’s as told in Acts. But that, too, is another post.)

Ch. 7 – The fall of Herod

  • Another morality tale. Herod, regularly chastised by Josephus for his “love of ease” and unjust cruelties, is exiled by the emperor and Herodias loses her estate to Agrippa. “And thus did God punish Herodias for her envy at her brother, and Herod also for giving ear to the vain discourses of a woman.”

Ch. 8 – Calamities on the Jews: Caesar’s image and drought

  • An arrogant command by a mad emperor Caligula to violate the sacred customs and laws of the Jews by ordering his statue to be set up in the Jerusalem Temple was heroically thwarted by the partnership of an honourable and wise Roman commander, Petronius, and the piety and courage of the Jews themselves. God tossed in a nature miracle to show whose side he favoured, too. And Caligula died soon afterwards. 

Ch. 9 – Calamities upon the Jews in Mesopotamia

  • The Jews suffered a great slaughter equal to anything in their history. It is a tale of Jewish piety, of the treachery and bullying on the part of a few Jewish renegades that resulted in so much misery, of honourable and treacherous gentile rulers who had power over the Jews, or reproaches against God and gods, and of what Josephus would probably call “philosophy” in action:

But as their affairs were in so flourishing a state, there sprang up a calamity among them on the following occasion. When once they had deviated from that course of virtue whereby they had gained so great power, they affronted and transgressed the laws of their forefathers, and fell under the dominion of their lusts and pleasures.

The relevance of all this for the TF and its various reconstructions

In my previous post in this series I summarized the contents of Book 18 of Antiquities up to the section where the TF appears.

Time now to revisit the TF. A number of scholarly reconstructions have taken the following passage in Josephus as their starting point, and modified in some way to leave out bits they don’t think Josephus would have said, rephrased other bits to be more like something they think is more Josephan:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

No-one I know of accepts that Josephus said Jesus was the Christ (He in fact said Vespasian was the prophesied king to rule the world), and many scholars would prefer to go even further and reconstruct the TF to something closer to:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

or even if we “reconstruct” it to something like Eisler’s:

Now about this time arose an occasion for new disturbances, a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man, who was the most monstrous of men, whom his disciples call a son of God, as having done wonders such as no man has ever done…. He was in fact a teacher of astonishing tricks to such men as accept the abnormal with delight…. And he seduced many Jews and many also of the Greek nation, and was regarded by them as the Messiah…. And when, on the indictment of the principal men among us, Pilate had sentenced him to the cross, still those who before had admired him did not cease to rave. For it seemed to them that having been dead for three days, he had appeared to them alive again, as the divinely-inspired prophets had foretold — these and ten thousand other wonderful things — concerning him. And even now the race of those who are called ‘Messianists’ after him is not extinct.

No matter which reconstruction we look at, notice now what is missing?

Just adding bits as Eisler has done (above) or omitting other bits to leave a passage that is “linguisitically” more Josephan, or “historically” more like the sort of thing Josephus “would write”, does not work. Those alternate TF proposals all miss the context and thematic thread that ties all of the episodes in Antiquities (particularly books 18-20) together.

There is not a breath of a hint of how this man Jesus or his followers has anything to do with “the history of the Jews”, or their relevance to any of the themes that are elsewhere fleshed out in all the narratives of Josephus.

Whether Josephus tells readers about Judas and Sadduc, or Theudas or “that Egyptian” (both in Book 20), or any of the other Jewish trouble-makers or Jewish notables in Book 18, in every single case Josephus is discussing the workings of God and the natural outcomes of adhering to or violating the laws and nature of God. Sometimes gentiles are the heroes and villains, but the Jews especially, with their special offering of the most noble of philosophies and laws that originated with Moses, are naturally centre-stage.

The TF is about Jesus and Christians for their own sakes. That is unlike any other anecdote of Josephus.

The TF tells us about Jesus in a self-contained bubble. He did this, he did that, he was treated this way, and some thought this about him, and here we see his followers around us today.

There is no connection with the demise or suffering of the Jewish people. Nor is there any relevance to the piety of the Jews in the way they courageously or nobly adhered to their customs of their fathers.

Indeed, it is unthinkable that Josephus could have written such a piece, given that he everywhere else is demonstrating to his readers the piety of his own race and peers in opposing or suffering at the hands of Pilate. They don’t just suffer from Pilate, but they suffered (as discussed in my earlier post) because of their loyalty to Moses who taught them look to the Divine Nature.

Or where he does find fault with leaders, it is to demonstrate that it is the ancestral customs of the Jews that they have violated, not the teachings of one whose followers understood as requiring them to part company with Moses.

34 Comments

  • 2009-05-02 22:07:43 UTC - 22:07 | Permalink

    I realize no-one says the whole TF is interpolated, and that was what I was intending to imply in my title about “all proposed TFs”, and again in my point in earlier posts and in this one where I take up the argument that the most obvious bit in the middle that everyone says is not original (He was the Messiah) is a logical part of the whole, or at least logically linked to the last sentence that just about everyone says was original to Josephus. Removing the most obvious interpolation just doesn’t work. And even if the TF is reduced to something less than what we have, or something more critical, or more neutral — it just doesn’t fit.

    I will edit my piece to clarify this. Thanks for the comment.

    Have only done the James piece in my mind so far — one post at a time! 🙂

    [have since added to my post to clarify the place where other TF reconstructions fit in this argument]

  • Danny
    2009-05-02 21:37:44 UTC - 21:37 | Permalink

    Good analysis. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any mainstream scholar who argues that the TF is wholly interpolated. Usually, they would go halfway, rejecting the obviously christian confessional parts, but keeping the rest. And then they pat themselves in the back for being “critical scholars” instead of partisan apologists.

    Have you tackled the James passage?

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  • 2011-06-05 19:49:25 UTC - 19:49 | Permalink

    This is a late post but there’s something else about the obvious forgery known as the TF that is peculiar: the veribage of “And when Pilate,… had condemned him to the cross.” The thing is, in their apologetics against the Jehovah’s Witnesses claims that Jesus was merely nailed to a pole, the fundamentalist Christians quote all of Josephus’ genuine references to crucifixion plus the TF.

    I did my research and came up with the following sets of verbiage where Josephus reports of persons who were actually crucified:

    anastauroô = to crucify (impale)

    stauroô = to crucify (“pale”)

    proshêlô tô staurô = to crucify (nail to cross, pale, pole or tee)

    There is another reference in War 7.6.4 = 7.201,202 where a Jewish freedom fighter Eleazar almost gets crucifed: “…for he [the Roman general] commanded them to set up a cross (stauron) as if he were to just hang (kremôn) Eleazar upon it immediately.”

    It appears to me that the apologists who fancy themselves as “critical scholars” >*ahem*< have another non-Josephan phrase they need to redact so as to convince themselves that Josephus wrote this. (Assuming they ever recognise the linguistic outlier or see my post!)

  • 2011-06-07 07:39:07 UTC - 07:39 | Permalink

    Thanks for the info. Incidentally, the end of Luke 23:25 is similar to the the Jamesian passage:

    Ἰησοῦν παρέδωκεν τῷ θελήματι αὐτῶν (iēsoun paredōken tō thelēmati autōn) “Jesus he delivered to their will” Luke 23:25

    παρέδωκε λευσθησομένους (paredōke leusthēsomenous) “he delivered them to be stoned” Antiquities 20.9.2 = 20.200

    It gives me cause to wonder if the whole Jamesian passage itself wasn’t simply forged… er, “interpolated”…

    Because if one were to go through all of Josephus’ works there is not ONE MENTION of PAUL, who according to Acts 21, caused a riot at the Temple for permitting a gentile to enter a precinct open only for Jews.

    • John
      2011-06-07 09:48:23 UTC - 09:48 | Permalink

      “Because if one were to go through all of Josephus’ works there is not ONE MENTION of PAUL, who according to Acts 21, caused a riot at the Temple for permitting a gentile to enter a precinct open only for Jews.”

      I couldn’t say why Josephus doesn’t menton this particular event in Acts, but he does mention a Saul, in the same chapter that he mentions James, who caused a riot in Jerusalem:

      “Costobarus also, and Saulus, did themselves get together a multitude of wretches, and … used violence with the people, and were ready to plunder those that were weaker than themselves. And from that time it mainly came to pass that our city was greatly disordered, and that all things grew worse and worse among us” (Ant. 20.214).

      Josephus also mentions someone named Ananius (a name that is associated with Paul in Acts), who, along with “a certain other Jew” (Ant. 20.35), taught the gentile Queen Helena that her son Izates “might worship God without being circumcised” because “worship of God was of a superior nature to circumcission” (Ant. 20.41). But Izates listened to Eleazar from Galilee instead, who convinced them that circumcission was necessary. Do we know of anyone in the first century besides Ananias, this
      “certain other Jew” and Paul who taught against the necessity of circumcission?

      Just saying, it seems curious.

      • 2011-06-07 10:13:49 UTC - 10:13 | Permalink

        It’s probably been linked before, but further discussion is found online with Robert Price’s review of Eisenman’s study: http://www.roberteisenman.com/james_review.htm

      • 2011-06-07 13:54:19 UTC - 13:54 | Permalink

        I looked those up, thanks. Curious, how Acts has a kind of “truthiness” to it, doesn’t it? (i.e., it’s fiction but it sounds factual — until you scratch the surface) It confirms in my mind that someone was digging through Josephus to come up with a heroic tales about the Apostles, especially Paul.

        I wonder, just how much of Christianity actually existed in the First Century?

        • 2011-06-08 08:46:12 UTC - 08:46 | Permalink

          John wrote: “Curious, how Acts has a kind of “truthiness” to it, doesn’t it? (i.e., it’s fiction but it sounds factual — until you scratch the surface)”

          Neil: Herodotus also reads like history even in places where he is clearly telling us myths. “Luke” writes in a voice of a narrator who conveys the impression of one who expects to be believed he is telling us history. The best fiction so often becomes popular because it sounds so plausible, so real. See also http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/how-literary-artistry-has-misled-biblical-historians-nehemiah-case-study-4/

          • John
            2011-06-08 10:06:09 UTC - 10:06 | Permalink

            “John wrote: “Curious, how Acts has a kind of “truthiness” to it, doesn’t it? (i.e., it’s fiction but it sounds factual — until you scratch the surface)”

            Ed-M wrote that, Neil, not me (not that I disagree with it. I was actually mulling over his “truthiness” statement. It kind of sums up Acts well).

            • 2011-06-08 10:13:38 UTC - 10:13 | Permalink

              Woops. Men always trip over themselves when they are trying to multi-task.

      • Geoff
        2011-06-07 19:33:40 UTC - 19:33 | Permalink

        John,

        The story of Izates and Helena was undoubtedly based on actual events concerning Nero and Agrippina, but obfuscated in the writings attributed to ‘Josephus’.

        • John
          2011-06-08 01:00:35 UTC - 01:00 | Permalink

          Geoff,

          The remains of Queen Helena’s palace in Jerusalem may have been discovered in 2007:

          ….fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1196847260218&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull [Link broken, 19th August 2015 — Neil. Try http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Second-Temple-palace-uncovered ]

          • John
            2011-06-08 01:05:29 UTC - 01:05 | Permalink

            She’s also mentioned in the Talmud. For example:

            http://www.come-and-hear.com/nazir/nazir_19.html

          • Geoff
            2011-06-08 01:08:06 UTC - 01:08 | Permalink

            John,

            What does that prove?

            • Geoff
              2011-06-08 19:34:41 UTC - 19:34 | Permalink

              Well, you can quote as many such examples as you like, it doesn’t prove the story of Izates and Helena. Eisenman tried a similar thing. I amazed that he did, because he told me in a telephone conversation, in effect, that the Romans were notorius creators of history. What do you think the editor of the writings attributed to Josephus was up to here in Book 20 of Antiquities?

              • John
                2011-06-08 22:19:57 UTC - 22:19 | Permalink

                “What do you think the editor of the writings attributed to Josephus was up to here in Book 20 of Antiquities?”

                I don’t know. This is what I’m asking you when I wrote: “But even if she did exist, the “story of Izates and Helena” in Josephus, as you said, could still be “based on actual events concerning Nero and Agrippina, but obfuscated in the writings attributed to ‘Josephus’,” but what makes you suspect this?”

                I’m expressing interest in learning more about your idea.

            • John
              2011-06-08 21:25:50 UTC - 21:25 | Permalink

              Geoff,

              It doesn’t prove anything. But along with the “Tomb of the Kings” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombs_of_the_Kings_(Jerusalem), it is evidence of Queen Helena’s existence outside of Josephus. But even if she did exist, the “story of Izates and Helena” in Josephus, as you said, could still be “based on actual events concerning Nero and Agrippina, but obfuscated in the writings attributed to ‘Josephus’,” but what makes you suspect this?

              • Geoff
                2011-06-08 22:38:32 UTC - 22:38 | Permalink

                John,

                You could compare the story I have written with that in Josephus. The similarity between the two is very close. That the version in Josephus was fabricated from real events seems certain. I am convinced that Nero was not what later Roman historians made him out to be. There is a lot more to this.

                Ant. 20.2.1.About this time it was that Agrippina, and her son Nero, changed their course of life, and embraced the Spirit of God, and this on the occasion following: Claudius Caesar, who had also the name of Nero, fell in love with his brother’s daughter Agrippina, and took her to be his wife, and adopted her child. And when his son was adopted, he called him Nero. He had indeed Britannicus, his son, by Messalina also, as he had a daughter Ocatvia by her besides. He sent Nero, with many presents, to Agrippa and he committed his son’s preservation to him. Upon which Agrippa gladly received the young man, and had a great affection for him, and embraced him after the most affectionate manner, and bestowed on him the country called Ein Gedi; it was a soil that bare amomum in great plenty: Accordingly, Nero abode in Ein Gedi until his father’s death.
                Ant. 20.2.2.But the very day that Claudius died, Agrippina sent for all the senators, and for those that had the armies committed to their command; and when they were come, she made the following speech to them: “I believe you are not unacquainted that my husband was desirous Nero should succeed him in the government, and thought him worthy so to do. However, happy is he who receives a kingdom, not from a single person only, but from the willing suffrages of a great many.” Upon the hearing of which, they said that they confirmed the emperor’s determination. Agrippina replied to this, that she returned them her thanks for their kindness to herself and to Nero; but desired that they would however defer the appointment till he should be of age himself. So since these men had not prevailed with her, they exhorted her to appoint Seneca, till he should come of age. The empress complied with this counsel of theirs, and set up Seneca.
                Ant.20.2.3,4.Now, during the time Nero abode at Ein Gedi, a prophet, whose name was James, taught him to worship God in the Spirit. He also, at the earnest entreaty of Nero, accompanied him when he was sent for by Seneca to come to Rome. And he said that he might worship God without sacrificing, which worship of God was of a superior nature to sacrifice. He added, that the Spirit of God would cleanse him, though he did not sacrifice.
                Ant.20.2.5.But as to Agrippina, the emperor’s mother, when she saw that the affairs of Nero’s empire were in peace, and that her son was a happy man, and admired among all men, and even among foreigners, by the means of God’s Spirit over him, she had a mind to go to the city of Jerusalem, in order to worship at that temple of God which was so very famous among all men, and to offer her thank-offerings there. So she desired her son to give her leave to go thither; upon which he gave his consent to what she desired very willingly, and made great preparations for her dismission, and gave her a great deal of money, and she went down to the city Jerusalem, her son conducting her on her journey a great way. Now her coming was of very great advantage to the prophets of Jerusalem; for whereas the priests did oppress them at that time, and many prophets died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal, Agrippina sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of corn, and others of them to Cyprus, to bring a cargo of dried figs. And as soon as they were come back, and had brought those provisions, which was done very quickly, she distributed food to those that were in want of it, and left a most excellent remembrance behind her of this benefaction. And when her son Nero was informed of this persecution, he sent great sums of money to the prophets in Jerusalem.

              • John
                2011-06-08 23:42:21 UTC - 23:42 | Permalink

                I’m not following any of this. Those are the book and chapter numbers for the Izates and Helena portion of the Antiquities. I understand that you have an unusual approach to Josephus, and I appreciate your effort to explain it, but from what I’ve seen you say about it in previous comments and here is not persuasive.

              • 2011-06-09 06:14:49 UTC - 06:14 | Permalink

                I had for a while put a brake on Geoff’s comments after he swamped the blog with his conspiracy theories that history was rewritten to hide the “fact” Nero and not Vespasian destroyed Jerusalem and Paul is a cipher for James who was sent to Jerusalem by Nero . . . .You will not have a rational discussion with Geoff.

                Geoff, make this your last comment. It is a form of spamming to use this blog as a platform to push your theories without engaging in the discussions at hand. What you are doing is no different from the those who come here to preach Jesus to us.

              • 2011-06-09 07:58:56 UTC - 07:58 | Permalink

                Nero destroying Jerusalem? After receiving the Spirit of God??? (Geoff, Antiquities 20.2.3,4) It doesn’t make a lick of sense. The only way this would make any sense if James were the brother of a certain Yeshua who was born in Bethlehem (then a nonexistent town), grew up in Nazareth (then another nonexistent town), crucified under Pontius Pilate at the behest of the Jewish leadership in J’lem and actually rose from the dead! And James teaching Nero to believe all of it.

                Glad you told him off!

              • 2011-06-10 14:06:25 UTC - 14:06 | Permalink

                My apologies to Geoff. I had not taken his comments seriously enough to double check that I was correct in all details I attributed to him. Geoff informs me that he does not say that Nero destroyed Jerusalem at all. My mistake.

                What Geoff assures me he says is that in 66 Nero did take Masada, Qumran, and Machaerus, and was let into Jerusalem where he killed the priests who were persecuting the prophets. In 66/67 Nero left Jerusalem with its temple intact. Vespasian was yet to seize his chance of wealth.

                Geoff’s analysis of texts is second to none. He has been the first person to discover I am not really Neil nor do I reside in Australia. Instead, I am Jeffery and live in Chicago. No other explanation (in Geoff’s mind) can explain how I come to know so much about what is going on in Chicago: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/tim-minchin-on-the-good-book-brains-falling-out-and-loving-jesus/#comment-15708

                Most other readers would, I expect, simply assume that I knew about the schedule of an Australian artist performing in Chicago by looking at his website — http://www.timminchin.com/ — and seeing the Chicago concert advertized there, even with such minute details as dates and venue! Such detail could only be reproduced by someone reading a poster in the city itself, of course. I’ve managed to fool everyone except Geoff.

                So we can see the kind of mind that produces the real facts about Nero, James, Paul and the rest.

              • Geoff
                2011-06-09 06:56:52 UTC - 06:56 | Permalink

                John,

                Don’t you think that the Roman historians wove into their fabricated histories the names of real people to cover the names of those they wanted to forget? This was a myth just up Neils street. They were not interested in real history, but in the fabrication of what they wanted others to believe.

          • 2011-06-08 20:44:35 UTC - 20:44 | Permalink

            Definitely some kind of palace.

  • Geoff
    2011-06-09 07:01:37 UTC - 07:01 | Permalink

    So why be frightened of my theories then “Vridar”?

    • 2011-06-09 09:21:47 UTC - 09:21 | Permalink

      These are Geoff’s final comments here. His posts are now filtered into my spam bin.

  • 2011-06-21 16:36:35 UTC - 16:36 | Permalink

    I my goodness! I have just learned that Geoff Hudson has posted that I am really Jeffrey B. Gibson and Derek Murphy and I publish books for money! http://vridar1.blogspot.com/

    And he wants me to take seriously his thesis that Paul was James and Nero was Vespasian or some such identity switches like that.

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