Who is The 2nd Best Witness for Jesus? - Josephus

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Who is The 2nd Best Witness for Jesus? - Josephus

Postby searchengineguy » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:23 am

In my experience if you ask most educated church-going Christians about proof of Jesus' existence, they will usually quote a famous non-Christian source, the ancient historian Flavius Josephus (c37-100 AD). A lawyer friend of mine once lent me a book as "proof" with the usual list of dodgy secular witnesses and marked a page with a passage that he thought was absolute gold, the infamous Testimonium Flavianum.

It was the first time that I had ever seen it and it looked quite impressive at first glance. In just one paragraph, Josephus appeared to lay out the supposed life of Jesus, his miracles, ministries, trial, crucifixion, resurrection and how he founded "a tribe of Christian followers" to "this day". He seemed to be very impressed with this wondrous Christian messiah, even though he (Josephus) was a Jewish/Roman historian. Here it is here;

“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, and condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”


It seemed to good to be true and I did some Googling and discovered that no Christian writer ever quoted it before the 4th century! In fact nobody had written about it and it was widely known to be an interpolation, or inserted text - a redaction. Even more damning, the 3rd century Church Father Origen had written that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as the Christ."

It's really easy now with computer software to pick up on suspicious writing styles, but you can see how out of place it looks yourself when it is sandwiched between the paragraph before and after the inserted text;

2. But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews[8] were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bid the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition.

3. 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,[9] those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day;[10] 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.

4. About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, ...

Another sad calamity? Its talking about the wonderful life and triumphal resurrection of Jesus!


See:
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/Thread-The-great-josephus-interpolation
The great josephus interpolation
Flavius Josephus

Christian apologetic fan's most popular non-Christian writer who mentions Jesus is Flavius Josephus. Although he was born in 37 CE and could not have been a contemporary of Jesus, he lived close enough to the time to be considered a valuable secondhand source. Josephus was a highly respected and much quoted Roman historian. He died sometime after the year 100 and his two major tomes were ‘The antiquities of the Jews’ and ‘the wars of the Jews’. Antiquities was written sometime after the year 90 CE. In book 18, chapter 3, this paragraph is encountered:

“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, and condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

This does appear to give historical confirmation for the existence of Jesus. But is it authentic? Most scholars, including most fundamentalist scholars, admit that at least some parts of this paragraph cannot be authentic. Many are convinced that the entire paragraph is a complete forgery, an interpolation inserted by Christians at a later time. There are at least seven solid reasons for this:

1) The paragraph is absent from early copies of the works of Josephus. For example, it does not appear in Origen’s second century version of Josephus, in ‘Origen Contra Celsum’, where Origen fiercely defended Christianity against the heretical views of Celsus. Origen quoted freely from Josephus to prove his points, but never once used this paragraph, which would have been the ultimate ace up his sleeve.

In fact, the Josephus paragraph about Jesus does not appear at all until the beginning of the fourth century, at the time of Emperor Constantine. Bishop Eusebius, a close ally of the Emperor, was instrumental in crystallizing and defining the version of Christianity was to become Orthodox, and he is the first person known to have quoted this paragraph of Josephus. Eusebius once wrote that it was a permissible “medicine” for historians to create fictions – prompting historian Jacob Burckhardt to call Eusebius “the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity.”

The fact that Josephus – Jesus paragraph shows up at this point in history – at a time when interpolations and revisions were quite common and when the Emperor was eager to demolish gnostic Christianity and replace it with literalistic Christianity – makes the passage quite dubious. Many scholars believe that Eusebius was the forger and interpolator of the paragraph on Jesus that magically appears in the works of Josephus.

2) Josephus would not have called Jesus “the Christ” or “the truth.” Whoever wrote these phrases was a believing Christian. Josephus was a messianic Jew, and if he truly believed Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (the Christ), he certainly would have given more than a passing reference to him. Josephus never converted to Christianity. Origen reported that Josephus was “not believing in Jesus as the Christ.”

3) The passage is out of context. Book 18 (containing the interval of 32 years from the banishment of Archelus to the departure from Babylon) starts with Roman taxation under Cyrenius in 6 CE and talks about various Jewish sexts at the time, including the Essenes and a sect of Judas the Galilean, which he devotes three times more space than to Jesus. He discusses at great depth the local history in great detail. But oddly this single paragraph can be lifted out of the text with no damage to the chapter or the way it flows.… Almost as if it was added after the fact, which of course it was.

4) The phrase “to this day” shows that this is a later interpolation. There was no “tribe of Christians” during Josephus time. Christianity did not get off the ground until the second century.

5) In all of Josephus voluminuous works, there is not a single reference to Christianity anywhere outside of this tiny paragraph. He relates much more about John the Baptist than about Jesus. He lists the activities of many other self-proclaimed Messiahs, including Judas of Galilee, Theudas the magician and the Egyptian Jew Messiah, but is mute about the life of one whom he claims (if he had actually wrote it) is the answer to this messianic hopes.

6) The paragraph mentions that the “divine prophets” foretold the life Jesus, but Josephus neglects to mention who these prophets were or what they said. In no other place does Josephus connect any Hebrew prediction with the life of Jesus. If Jesus truly had been the fulfillment of divine prophecy, as Christians believe, Josephus would’ve been the one learned enough to document it.

7) The hyperbolic language of the paragraph is uncharacteristic of a careful historian: “… As the divine prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him…” This sounds more like sectarian propaganda – in other words, more like the new testament – than objective reporting. It is very unlike Josephus.

Christians should be careful when they refer to Josephus as historical confirmation for Jesus. If we remove the forged paragraph, as we should, the works of Josephus become evidence against historicity. Josephus was a native of Judea and a contemporary of the apostles. He was governor of Galilee for a time, the province in which Jesus allegedly lived and taught. He transversed every part of this province and visited the places where but a generation before Christ performed his prodigies. He resided in Cana, the very city in which Christ is said to have wrought his first miracle. He mentions every noted personage of Palestine and describes every important event that occurred there during the first 70 years of the Christian era. But Christ was of so little consequence and his deeds too trivial to merit a line from this historians pen.


Sources: The Thinking Atheist, The Antiquities of the Jews and http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/josephus-etal.html
Frisbeetarianism: is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.
- George Carlin.
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