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Flavius Josephus About Jesus?

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by Ben Masada, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Flavius Josephus About Jesus?

    Here is a secular account from Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian (37 CE - 95 CE):

    "About this time arose Jesus, a wise man, who did good deeds and whose virtues were recognized. And many Jews and people of other nations became his disciples.
    Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. However, those who became his disciples preached his doctrine. They related that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Perhaps he was the Messiah in
    connection with whom the prophets foretold wonders." (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XVIII 3.2)

    I have read this passage in Josephus, as well as the charge of it being a forgery interpolated by the Church. But I don't see anything in the quotation of Josephus to compromise or contradict the Scriptures. Therefore, I am ready to accept it as legitimate.

    Jesus was indeed a wise and virtuous Jew. By the time Josephus wrote this, many Christians would be talking about Jesus as such, and probably two or three of the gospels were out.

    As we can see, Josephus left out to mention the Hellenistic part preached about Jesus by Christians. And with regards to Pilate, Josephus did charge him with having been the one who condemned Jesus to the cross, and not the Jews, whom the NT is only too ready to accuse.

    Regarding resurrection, there is no indication in Josephus. He says that those who related to him, obviously Christians, would say that Jesus appeared three days after his crucifixion. To appear alive after one's crucifixion is no evidence that he had died and much less resurrected.

    And for being the Messiah, he uses the term "perhaps" based on the word of Christians who would preach about him as such. But Messiah in the Christian sense and not Jewish. The Christian idea about the Messiah pales before the Jewish concept of the one.

    Ben
     
  2. ittarter

    ittarter New Member

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    Why would Josephus' views need to be aligned to the Bible? The reason people see a Christian interpolation here relates to the purpose of the Antiquities generally, and the presentation of Pontius Pilate specifically.

    In the Antiquities, Pilate is shown to subvert Jewish practices and demonstrate loyalty to the Emperor over the Jews. He backs off only when the Jewish people commit to the laws of their ancestors even to the point of death. He opposes cultish or extremist forms of religion, such as the Jesus way, and the Samaritan rally narrated later on (paragraphs 85-89).

    The passage on Jesus does not enhance Pilate's profile in any way. When Josephus' narration is analyzed it is clear that he doesn't give himself to little side-notes along the way. Every story has a clear purpose. Except this one.

    Furtherfore, it is well-known from other passages in other Josephus literature that the historian's general perspective on Jesus is quite different than what we see here in the "traditional" version of Antiquities.
     
  3. S-word

    S-word Well-Known Member

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    In a book called “Jesus the Evidence,” by Ian Wilson, page 127, I read, “Of the fate of James, we learn from Josephus, Eusebius and Hegesippus, that after leading a life of great piety, worshipping daily in the Temple, and winning great respect from the ordinary people, in 62 A.D. he was murdered at the instigation of one of that same Sadducee sect responsible for the death of Stephen, and of his brother Jesus.

    The historical account by Josephus of the death of James, states that the high priest Ananus took advantage of the interval between the death of Festus and the arrival in Jerusalem of his replacement Albinus, and he rather hastily convened the Sanhedrin and had James and other followers of Jesus condemned to death.

    Ben, when will you admit, that like every other country around that time, the Jewish political system had within it, power hungry backstabbers and assassinators. Pilate may have passed the death sentence on Jesus, but it was at the insistence of the Jewish authorities who accused Jesus of stirring the people up and telling them not to pay taxes to the Emperor and claiming that he himself is the Messiah, a king and therefore a threat to Caesar.
     
    #3 S-word, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  4. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Josephus was Jewish, and I think he knew a little better than you and I do about Jewish culture and customs or Faith.
     
  5. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Interesting that I don't recall to have read in Josephus about the death of James, and that the High Priest convened the Sanhedrin in a hastily manner to condemn James and others.

    What I see are Christians fabricating all sorts of things so that readers print in their minds the picture of the Jewish Sanhedrin as a gang of criminals condemning people to death at the moment of a glance.

    What are you trying to make of a Jewish Court, the facsimile of a Taliban trial?
    Before you read anything in the NT which involves dealing with the Sanhedrin, you must read the Tanach first.

    A person to be condemned to death would take months, even years, and a lot of other implications for the execution to be effected. This is just enough to deny that there is any truth at all in all those hastily convenings of the Sanhedrin to justify Jesus' trial, or James', or Stephen's, or of any other. It's all the result of a Christian conspiracy to implement the Pauline policy of Replacement Theology. That's all.
     
  6. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Josephus wasn't a trained historian. At the time history wasn't even an established discipline. Primary sources, hearsay and rumors didn't always didn't always sort themselves into different degrees of confidence.
     
  7. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Seyorni, wake up man! When did History stop being primarily hearsay and rumors? Only that now it has become more organized; but essencially it is all the same. Don't tell me that today it is transmitted ipsissima verba!
     
  8. ittarter

    ittarter New Member

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    Obviously. But that has nothing to do with anything I said.
     
  9. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Well, I thought you had said something in terms of the failure of History at that time to enjoy different degrees of confidence. And I said that except for the sophistication, there is not much of a difference in the essence of History.
     
  10. Oberon

    Oberon Well-Known Member

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    Actually this isn't exactly correct. Herodotus' use of the noun histories at the beginning of his work started a specialized usage of this word.

    In other words, after Herodotus, history as a discipline did begin.
    Even acknowledging that writers of the classical period were less skeptical than today’s historians (or people in modern society in general), it appears from the historical record that they knew very well the duties of the historian. Thucydides comment on his commitment to truth may be read above. Polybius, in his Histories, quotes Timaios’ views on history: hoti Timaios phesi megiston hamartema peri ten historian an einai to pseudos; dio kai pareinie toutois, ous an exelegxe diepseusmenous en tois suggrammasin heteron ti zetein onoma tois byblious, pnata de mallon e kalein historian (12.11). Cicero, in his De Legibus, also connects history with truth: “Quippe cum in illa [historia] omnia veritatem…referantur” (1.5). Lucian states that, “tou de suggrapeeos ergon hekasta, hos eprachthe, eipein” (How to Write History 39), and says also (more poetically) that compared to the moisikos, “e de ouk an ti pseudos empeson [he historia] oud’ akariaon anaschoito, es auten katpothen (How to Write History 7). It is quite clear that those purporting to write history after Herodotus thought their greatest concern ought to a commitment to truth.


    Moreover, simply because ancient historians were not as rigorous as todays, and did not have access to as many sources, does not mean they should simply be rejected. Rather, they should be looked at and weighed critically. The two references to Jesus by Josephus have. It almost certain that one has been altered by christians, but that Josephus did originally write the passage. As for the shorter reference, there is no reason to suppose interpolation or alteration, as the reference is decidedly un-christian.

    Additionally, Josephus was certainly in a position to know the what people were saying about Jesus, as he was contemporary with many eyewitnesses to Jesus' mission. Morever, he was alive during the trial of James he describes in his shorter reference to Jesus.
     
  11. S-word

    S-word Well-Known Member

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    Ah, the old christian conspiracy again, Reds under the bed and all that rubbish. You’re at it again Ben, you take the little pieces from any writings that titillate the taste buds of your mind then reject the rest as rubbish.

    These are your words Ben, "Here is a secular account from Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian (37 CE - 95 CE):"


    Because the great Ben Masada does not recall reading the passage in “Josephus Jewish Antiquities,” (xx.9) where it is said, “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” met his death after the death of the procurator ‘Porcius Festus,’ yet before ‘Lucceius Albinus took office (Antiquities 20: 9) are we then to believe, simply because you don't recall having ever read this passage, that this was not recorded by Josephus?

    Josephus then goes on to say that the high priest ‘Ananus ben Ananus’ took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin who condemned James “on the charge of breaking the law,” then had him executed by stoning. Josephus reports that Ananus’ act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder.

    quote=Ben Masada; What are you trying to make of a Jewish Court, the facsimile of a Taliban trial? By Sword: Nah mate, Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of 37 CE - 95 CE did that.
     
    #11 S-word, Jul 20, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  12. ittarter

    ittarter New Member

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    There is history writing, and there is historiography. Josephus has a clear purpose that he lays out in each of the introductions to his literary works. Talking about and explaining history has, in fact, changed a great deal in the "modern" era when compared to the "ancient" era. But this is neither here nor there.

    As I was pointing out, the purpose of Antiquities is such that the famous passage on Jesus in fact detracts from it, rather than adding to it. Thus, in questioning the historicity of the passage I am in fact upholding the literary genius of the writer.

    Back in grad school I wrote a paper about Josephus' rewriting of the story of the Fall of Man. I discovered that he writes very intentionally, every sentence, every nuance, every allusion. Therefore, I would be highly surprised if he "slipped up" and added extra details about Jesus just because they were interesting. Particularly since it flows against his overarching interests in the book and his viewpoints of Jesus found elsewhere in his literary corpus. Thus, I side with the majority of modern scholarship and believe that the passage was interpolated by a Christian writer or copyist.
     
    #12 ittarter, Jul 21, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  13. gnostic

    gnostic The Lost One

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    Being Jewish don't mean being a good historian.

    Josephus was hardly a good historian, and no where in the same league as Tacitus.

    Josephus linking the Israelites with Hyksos is the example how biased he is, making baseless claim without evidences.
     
  14. Oberon

    Oberon Well-Known Member

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    Let's be clear. The majority of modern scholars argue that the passage has been altered, but that the bulk of it is Josephus with various additions.
     
  15. logician

    logician Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't really matter what kind of historian Josephus was, his writings were tinkered with long after he was gone, the few passages concerning Christ out of place in the context of his writing, making them obvious forgeries.
     
  16. Oberon

    Oberon Well-Known Member

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    Hardly. As Vermes and many others have shown, much of the larger passage which references Josephus uses typical Josephan vocabulary. Furthermore, the shorter reference to "James, the brother of Jesus, the one called Christ" is certainly authentic. No christian would write in "the one called christ." To christians, Jesus wasn't "called" christ he WAS christ. Also, James is not the focus of the story (and would be in any Christian version), but rather the High Priest. Furthermore, Jesus is used ONLY to identify WHICH James was on trial (as so many people had the same name). He merely an identifier, and the method of identification is not at all christian.

    And Josephus was a decent historian according to ancient standards. He probably wasn't as good as Tacitus or Thucydides, but he was a great deal better than Herdotus or Diogenes Laertius.
     
  17. ittarter

    ittarter New Member

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    Let's be clearer. There are innumerable scholarly reconstructions of Josephus' "original words about Jesus" and the bulk of them are differ significantly from, and are usually shorter than, the traditional text.
     
  18. dogsgod

    dogsgod Well-Known Member

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    Matthew 1:16
    16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.


    Matthew (27:17 and 22): “Whom do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus, called Christ?”

    John 4:25
    The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

    Justin: “the one called Christ among us” in his First Apology 30


    This is yet another problem with the Josephus reference since this is a Christian term.
     
    #18 dogsgod, Jul 22, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  19. dogsgod

    dogsgod Well-Known Member

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    Note that "James" is identified as "the brother of Jesus" and this "Jesus" is in turn identified as "called Christ."

    If "James" originally stood alone, a Christian scribe may have made a marginal note in order to identify this "James" as "the brother of Jesus, called Christ." Perhaps assuming that this "James" was "James the Just" traditionally thought to have died around this time.

    Or, "James, the brother of Jesus" was original and "called Christ" was added as a marginal note in order to identify the "Jesus" that Josephus was writing of. In either case, a marginal note could later end up being inserted into the text. These types of interpolations are not necessarily intentional, but they have been known to happen. This is not to say that this is necessarily how this Christian term made its way into the text, but it is a plausible explanation as to how these things happen.
     
  20. Oberon

    Oberon Well-Known Member

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    Not as being christ. Christians called Jesus "Iesous Christos" not Jesus "the one called christ." The only exceptions to this are in specific circumstances which make the reasons clear.
    For example, you cite Pilate saying Jesus is "called" christ, but Pilate wasn't Christian. You cite john, except you mistranslate the passage. John is translating the hebrew messiah by saying, "the messiah [translated as Christ]..."

    As for Justin, he is writing to a non-christian, and says that "this Jesus is the one we call christ."

    Christians simply said "jesus christ" unless circumstances demanded for a different construction. If a christian scribe altered the passage, he would have simply added "the christ" or "christ." THAT is christian. Jesus, the one called christ, is NOT.

    Why? Why identify this James with James Jesus' brother? James was a very common name. There is no reason for to alter this text with a non-christian title simply because a James is mentioned. Heck, shortly after a seperate Jesus is mentioned, but nobody bothered to alter that, because it was clear it wasn't the same Jesus. Josephus had to identify this James in some way, because there were far too many people named "James." If he had originally identified James as a different James, then there would be no need to alter it at all. Instead, we have Josephus identifying a minor character James (hardly a christian way of doing things) and adding an atypical christian title (the one called Christ, not the Christ or just Christ).

    Again, why then the atypical christian title? A christian would have written "brother of the lord" or at LEAST "jesus christ".
     
    #20 Oberon, Jul 23, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
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