2009-05-03

cuckoo postscript — a more plausible Josephan “reconstruction”

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by Neil Godfrey

I do not at all think, for reasons given in my previous posts, that Josephus wrote anything about Jesus. But if he had done so, I have fabricated the sort of thing one might expect him to have written, given the themes and interests that he uses to thread his episodes together. My point is to illustrate just how wide of the mark the various “reconstructions” of the TF are, given the context of the TF discussed in my previous two posts.

Now there was about this time Jesus, a mad man, who pretended to perform wonderful works, to persuade the base sort of men who follow their own lusts to despise the customs of their fathers, and teach against Moses and the Temple. For he taught men to disregard the sabbath, and even ransacked a quarter of the Temple to prevent the daily sacrifice. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, resisting the principal men amongst us, refused at first to condemn him to the cross, released, out of spite, a murderer to cause further suffering among the Jews. Though Pilate was eventually persuaded to crucify him, those who thought him to be something at the first did not forsake him, but pretended he had been raised from the dead, and even blasphemously declared this wicked man to be a God and one to be worshipped. And this was the most blasphemous of the mad distempers that arose in our midst, and added to our miseries. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, for they also called him the Christ, infest the earth to this day.

The sections underlined highlight key points that make this fabrication more reliably “Josephan” in theme and purpose, while the underlined section also in italics is a necessary addition given what the real-world experience of Christians would have been towards the end of the first century.

Lest anyone go mad with base distemper over this, and take it as in any way expressing something like a Josephan original, one would need to explain why the contextual passages were so completely excised.

See Posts 1, 2, 3 for details.

Or, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, if you don’t like that “reconstruction” because you prefer a Jesus who observed and taught the law meticulously, I have another:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, who performed wonderful works, and he persuaded many who love the truth and the divine nature as taught by the customs and laws of our fathers. He taught that men must love the law and keep it with the same perfection as God himself, and that their word should be as strong as if they had uttered an oath. For he forbad the making of oaths, saying that one’s word should be as truthful as the word of God at all times. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, out of envy and hatred for the Jews, sought to condemn him to the cross, the principal men among us could do nothing to distract him from his purpose. Those who loved him, including some of our principal men, did not forsake him after his death, and some claimed to have seen him risen from the dead some days after his crucifixion. But his followers, who are still with us to this day, turned against his teaching and joined the mad distempers of the times that brought us our miseries. They are the tribe of Christians, so named from him, for they also called him the Christ. This was an error, but not so egregious as one faction of this sect, mainly found among the Greeks, who even came to blasphemously worship him as God.  But that Jesus himself taught no such thing can be seen from his teaching against blasphemy, as when he taught men not to risk the wrath of God by taking an oath in his name.


  • 2009-05-06 20:20:07 UTC - 20:20 | Permalink

    These are both as plausible reconstructions surely as attempts by other scholars to reconstruct what Josephus might have written.

    That is an attempt as hubristic as it is doomed.

  • 2009-05-06 20:39:21 UTC - 20:39 | Permalink

    Hubristic attempts at reconstructions? If you read my post to which this one was a “postscript” — as per its title — you’d know they are nonsense “reconstructions” — Josephus gave us nothing to reconstruct!

    The irony is that as I wrote them it occurred to me that some apologist might actually read my post superficially and take them as serious attempts at reconstructions. The last person I expected to fall for that was someone like you.

    Not that I’d expect any except with my narrow interests to read my lengthy workings through the TF in its Josephan context — but you obviously missed my intro explanation:

    My point is to illustrate just how wide of the mark the various “reconstructions” of the TF are, given the context of the TF discussed in my previous two posts.

  • 2009-05-06 21:40:42 UTC - 21:40 | Permalink

    I meant the ‘other’ reconstructions were hubristic.

  • Pingback: How they used to debate the evidence of Josephus for the historical Jesus « Vridar

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