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| Part 4
This is part 2e of the translation of my treatise Jesuspassagerna hos Josefus – en fallstudie into English.
Den svenska texten.
II. Testimonium Flavianum
Content and context
The Testimonium does not fit in context
So far, the arguments mainly have focused on the fact that more or less everything in the Testimonium is foreign to Josephus’ ideas, and that Eusebius’ reliability as a chronicler for very good reasons can be questioned. But still Josephus could have written some small parts of the Testimonium. I now intend to put forward arguments to show that “Josephus’ testimony of Jesus” originally was completely missing from the Antiquities of the Jews, and that Josephus therefore did not write anything at all about Jesus. Let us begin by considering the Testimonium in its context. The entire chapter, in other words what in William Whiston’s English translation from the year 1732 is called Book 18, Chapter 3 (or 18:55–84 according to the newer division), is made up of five paragraphs.
The first paragraph (18:55–59) deals with the Jews and how they are violently protesting against Pilate introducing Caesar’s effigies in Jerusalem. Pilate gave his troops orders to expel and kill the people, who instead “threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly”. The tumult ends with the images being removed.
The second paragraph (18:60–62) is once again about protesting Jews; this time they are protesting against Pilate financing the building of an aqueduct in Jerusalem with sacred money from the temple. Pilate drives away the crowd, and a great number of the Jews were slain and wounded.
The third paragraph (18:63–64) is about Jesus, a wise wonderworker who attracted many followers, both Jews and Greeks. He was the Messiah and the leading men among the Jews persuaded Pilate to crucify him. But on the third day he appeared live again, and his followers called Christians are still active by this time.
The fourth paragraph (18:65–80) is about Paulina, a beautiful, virtuous and noble married woman living in Rome. She is fooled by some Mundus to spend a night with him in the temple of Isis, in that he pretends to be the jackal-headed god Anubis. Afterwards, when Paulina finds out about the deception, she “rent her garments” in despair over her humiliation; a common expression of grief and despair among the Jews and this therefore suggest that she also was a Jewess. The Emperor Tiberius is informed of this incident and as a consequence orders the Isis-priests to be crucified, demolishes the temple of Isis and banishes Mundus.
The fifth paragraph (18:81–84) is about some Jews in Rome who persuades a wealthy woman named Fulvia to donate purple and gold to the temple at Jerusalem; items which these Jews then embezzles. The Emperor Tiberius is informed of the deception and as punishment he ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome.
To sum up: Paragraph 1 deals with an assault on the Jews which almost led to bloodshed. Paragraph 2 deals with a similar topic which leads to much bloodshed. Paragraph 4 is about the disgrace of a (possible) Jewish woman and the destruction of the temple of Isis in Rome. And paragraph 5 is about all the Jews in Rome being expelled. All in all, one can say that the entire passage covers misfortunes which fell upon the Jews. In the middle of this section a story of Jesus is found. Even if Jesus was a Jew, his death would, from a Jewish perspective, hardly have been regarded as a misfortune. From a Christian perspective, this was obviously the greatest misfortune the Jews suffered, but a Jew like Josephus would scarcely have thought so, let alone described it in a book about the history of the Jews.
Two objections are usually made against this argument. 1) What is part of and not part of a block of text, depends on where one begins and ends. This can be compared to all those fund companies, each of which invokes the highest yield and also can show this by selecting the period in which they were the most successful. 2) Furthermore, in the days of Josephus there was no possibility to insert footnotes in the text. If you wanted to insert a story that had nothing directly to do with the rest, you still had to make room for that story inside the text. Both these objections may at first glance seem reasonable, but if they are examined more closely, they scarcely are.
For, no matter how you twist and turn this section, in its present form it is an ugly duckling that does not fit. One can of course choose to incorporate even more in the overview than these five paragraphs, then also the subsequent two paragraphs, including altogether 18:55–89, but this will scarcely be of any help if you want to authenticate the Testimonium. As early as in 1913, the German philologist and religious historian Eduard Norden, noted that the individual parts of this section, which can be said to be about the period over which Pilate served as governor of Judea, are united. The thing joining these paragraphs is not chronology, when in fact the paragraphs four and five on the expulsion of the cult of Isis and the Jews from Rome, seem to have occurred in 19 CE, accordingly before Pilate was appointed governor of Judaea in 26 CE. Instead, they are all united by misfortunes, tumults or uproars, and expressly by the Greek word θόρυβος (thorubos), which means exactly that; and in one case also by στάσις (stasis), which has a similar meaning (civil strife; rebellion). Norden notes that in every paragraph, except in the Testimonium, there is either a noun θόρυβος (thorubos; an uproar, a riot, a disturbance) or a verb θορυβέω (thorubeô; “to make a noise or uproar”) in the course of events.
The section on Pilate’s tenure of office starts in 18:55–59 where he is threatening to kill the revolting Jews unless they would leave off disturbing him (θορυβεῖν, thorubein). In paragraph 2 (18:60–62) those tens of thousands who made a clamor against Pilate’s confiscation of the temple money are said to be tumultuous (θορυβοῦντας, thorubountas) and in the final sentence it is said that it was put an end to this sedition (στάσις, stasis). Then follows the Testimonium Flavianum (18:63–64), where no riots or disturbances are mentioned. The Christians are not called θόρυβος (thorubos) but a φῦλον (phylon), thus a tribe. Norden treats the paragraphs 4 and 5 (18:65–84) as a unit, dealing with misfortunes in Rome; the expulsions of the cult of Isis and the Jews. This section begins with “another sad calamity [which] put the Jews into disorder” (ἐθορύβει, ethorubei). Norden sees the paragraph 6 (18:85–87) and the paragraph 7 (18:88–89) as yet another unit, that begins with a massacre carried out by Pilate on the supporters of the Samaritan prophet. The introduction of the first paragraph (18:85) reads: “But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults” (θορύβου, thorubou). The introduction of the next paragraph (18:88) reads: “But when this tumult [θορύβου, thorubou] was appeased”. This act leads to Pilate being sent to the emperor in Rome and probably deposed.
The first two paragraphs deals accordingly with misfortunes which had befallen the Jews during the time Pilate served as prefect of Judaea. The paragraphs 4 and 5 deals with misfortunes in Rome; and the paragraphs 6 and 7 deals once again with misfortunes during Pilate’s tenure of office, this time befalling the Samaritans. In all cases, the Greek θόρυβος (thorubos) is used, and once also the synonymous word στάσις (stasis). The exception is Testimonium Flavianum, which neither is a misfortune for the Jews or is said to be a misfortune, a tumult or uproar; and the only paragraph where the word θόρυβος (thorubos) does not occur. Norden suggest that Josephus have used a source which only dealt with tumultuous events, a practice not unknown in antiquity. He refers to Titus Livius, or Livy (59 BCE – 17 CE), who in a list of a number of consuls piles up a number of events of tumultuous nature. Josephus utilizes the same technology also in other places and Norden gives two examples from the Jewish War in which a number of consecutive events are described as tumultuous.
It is therefore evident that the Testimonium in its present wording does not fit into the context and thus reasonably was not part of Josephus’ source or sources. Norden suggests that the paragraphs 1, 2, 6 and 7 made up one source of turmoil during Pilate’s governance in the years 26–36, and the paragraphs 4 and 5 another source of turmoil in Rome. Could Josephus still have inserted the Testimonium in this context? If so, he must have made the insertion after he had finished writing the chapter, as paragraph 4 is linked to paragraph 2 – something that certainly indicates that the Testimonium did not appear in the text Josephus originally wrote. And if it is a later addition, it is a bit thick to claim that Josephus himself would have done this, especially since he then would have had the opportunity to rewrite the introduction to paragraph 4 to smoothly comply with the Testimonium.
The truly precarious in the situation is thus the first sentence of paragraph 4, which follows directly on the Testimonium. It says: “At about the same time, another [emphasis added] sad calamity put the Jews into disorder [ἐθορύβει, ethorubei]”. This means that if the Testimonium is genuine, if so only to a portion, Josephus must allude to the Testimonium when he directly after the Testimonium writes that another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder. He then had to be of the opinion that Jesus’ death was a sad calamity for the Jews – something almost unthinkable unless Josephus was a Christian, which he most likely was not. There is nothing in the paragraph about Jesus that suggests that from a Jewish viewpoint the incident is somewhat outrageous and subversive. However, if the entire Testimonium is removed, “another sad calamity” will refer to paragraph 2, which is about Pilate conducting a mass slaughter of Jews, and the text will immediately be logical and run smoothly.
The understanding of the opening of paragraph 4 and its allusion to something previously written, is a very crucial part of my and others questioning of the authenticity of the Testimonium. Accordingly, “ἕτερόν τι δεινὸν” (heteron ti deinon) means “another sad calamity”, or more literally, “another something terrible”. By the expression ”another … terrible”, Josephus must refer back to an incident he just has described as terrible, dreadful, and that he now also will describe something equally terrible that has befallen the Jews.
In defense of the opinion that Josephus, after all, has written something about Jesus in this part of the book, three reasons are usually adduced.
1) The footnote had not yet been invented. If you wanted to insert something, you had to make room for it in the text. But this is no counter-argument against the allusion of the word “another”, inasmuch as Josephus, if he had chosen to insert the Testimonium at this location in the text, would have been able to introduce the story following directly upon the Testimonium in a different way.
2) The execution of Jesus was indeed something terrible to the Jews. Josephus would then really have regarded Jesus’ execution as something terrible for the Jews. Hardly any other than Christians would however adopt this approach. Some researchers, for example Robert Eisler, have understood the problem and Eisler therefore invented a very different Testimonium where Josephus is markedly more critical to Jesus and where new disturbances occurred. If so, you would have to assume a completely different Testimonium where such calamities took place that it really was a disaster for the Jews (and not just for the Christians). This would solve the problem with the reference to “another sad calamity”, but there is no proof or even a sign in the form of any testimony that such a text has ever existed. That kind of reconstruction is therefore not built on a scientific ground, and appears to be an unproven hypothesis brought forward only in order to save the Testimonium Flavianum.
3) The word “another” (heteron) refers past the Testimonium back to paragraph 2, where a mass slaughter of Jews are described, something that really was terrible for the Jews. But such a “misalluding” would be unprecedented in Josephus. On the contrary, he was very particular about each transition being logical and coherent. Some scholars have found that Josephus also in other parts of his works introduces stories that break the sequence of the account. For example, Leo Wohleb refers in particular to the Antiquities of the Jews 8:26 ff, 10:24 ff and 13:171 ff. In these three instances there really are passages that make intrusions on the story by addressing a different topic, and then Josephus returns to what logically can be seen as a resumption of the past story. But neither of these examples, nor any other that I have found or seen anyone else refers to, resembles the surroundings of the Testimonium. To be sure, the introductions to the paragraphs following upon the “intrusive paragraphs” are not linked to the “intrusive paragraphs”; they really just continue from where the stories were interrupted because of the “intrusive paragraphs”. But in none of these cases is Josephus so obviously “misalluding” as he is in the sentence immediately after the Testimonium. The closest parallel that I can find is the beginning of the Antiquities of the Jews 10:30, which reads: “At this time …” However, this is the epitome of Josephus, which he so often begins his paragraphs or sections with, without therefore referring to an exact moment in time but only an approximate time. On the other hand, the sentence directly after the Testimonium refers back to what Josephus wrote before the Testimonium and is to my knowledge unprecedented in the whole of his literature. I have not found a single passage anywhere in Josephus’ complete works in which he has made such an imperfect reference, as he appears to do immediately after the Testimonium and I have also never seen anyone else put forward an equally serious example.
In order to clearly illustrate this, we can remove all of the Testimonium and restore to the text which probably was the one Josephus originally wrote. The quote begins at the end of the mass killings of Jews in paragraph 2, and then goes directly over to the beginning of paragraph 4:
So he [Pilate] 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. [στάσις].
About the same time also another sad calamity [δεινὸν] put the Jews into disorder [ἐθορύβει], and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs. (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:62, 65)
It then becomes even more obvious and evident that the end of paragraph 2 (καὶ οὕτω παύεται ἡ στάσις, 18:62) is associated with the beginning of paragraph 4 ([Καὶ ὑπὸ τοὺς αὐτοὺς χρόνους] ἕτερόν τι δεινὸν ἐθορύβει, 18:65). Norden provides other examples from the Antiquities of the Jews of how Josephus lets δεινὸν (deinon = terrible) succeed στάσις (stasis = civil strife, rebellion, sedition). The sedition was checked, and another terrible thing caused disturbances. It is also striking to study how smoothly Josephus in other cases solves this with “intrusive paragraphs”. Paragraph 4 concerning Paulina and the temple of Isis is a passage of events in Rome which seemingly is inserted between events during the time of Pilate. In contrast to the alleged insertion of Testimonium Flavianum Josephus inserts this passage very elegantly. He says that he with the other sad calamity is referring to paragraph 5 about the expulsion of all the Jews from Rome, a real disaster for the Jews, but that he at first will deal with the temple of Isis. Such an explanation is totally lacking in the Testimonium. Josephus writes thus:
About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs. (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:65)
Then he tells about Paulina and the temple of Isis, whereupon he writes:
I now return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome, as I formerly told you I would. (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:80)
Summary. The most plausible conclusion would accordingly be that Josephus did not write anything at all about Jesus in Book 18 of the Antiquities of the Jews. Instead, he describes two terrible misfortunes that befell the Jews, of which the later one led to a massacre. Then he makes a crossing where he announces that he will give an account of the Jewish affairs which was another sad calamity that put the Jews into disorder, but that first will take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis. When he is finished with that story he makes yet another crossing by saying that, as he promised, he will return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome; the other calamity.
 Ivan G. Marcus writes:
”The tearing of clothes is the basis of what the rabbis called qeriyah, tearing one’s garment, and it is already anticipated here: ’Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and observed mourning for his son many days’ (Gen. 37:34)” (Ivan G. Marcus, The Jewish life cycle: rites of passage from biblical to modern times, p. 203).
And from the Behrman House, Inc, The Basics of Kriah, or Tearing a Piece of Clothing:
“Kriah is a Hebrew word meaning ‘tearing.’ It refers to the act of tearing one’s clothes or cutting a black ribbon worn on one’s clothes. This rending is a striking expression of grief and anger at the loss of a loved one. Kriah is an ancient tradition. When our patriarch Jacob believed his son Joseph was dead, he tore his garments (Genesis 37:34). Likewise, in II Samuel 1:11 we are told that King David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and rent them upon hearing of the death of Saul and Jonathan. Job, too, in grieving for his children, stood up and rent his clothes (Job 1:20). Kriah is performed by the child, parent, spouse, and sibling of the deceased. It is usually done at the funeral home before the funeral service begins.”
 Eduard Norden, Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie, in Kleine Schriften zum klassischen Altertum (Berlin, 1966), p. 241–275.
 Tacitus is considered to portray the same events and then place them at about 19 CE:
”There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish worship, and a resolution of the Senate was passed that four thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the island of Sardinia, to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap sacrifice should they die from the pestilential climate. The rest were to quit Italy, unless before a certain day they repudiated their impious rites. ” (Tacitus, The Annals 2:85)
 James Carleton Paget, Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity, Journal of Theological Studies 52:2 (2001) p. 579.
 In both cases the deceived ones are prominent (Jewish) women living in Rome; in both cases, their respective husbands are the ones who present the events for the Emperor Tiberius; in both cases, Tiberius punishes the entire Jewish community for the crimes done by a few villains. (Eduard Norden, Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie, i Kleine Schriften zum klassischen Altertum, Berlin 1966, p. 245)
 Titus Livius, The History of Rome, book 3, chapter 22–24. (Eduard Norden, Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie, in Kleine Schriften zum klassischen Altertum, Berlin 1966, p. 248)
 Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2:223 ff and 2:252 ff. The words that are used are θόρυβοι, στάσεις, τάραχαι and so on. (Eduard Norden, Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie, in Kleine Schriften zum klassischen Altertum, Berlin 1966, p. 247)
 Steve Mason writes:
“Josephus is speaking of upheavals, but there is no upheaval here. He is pointing out the folly of Jewish rebels, governors and troublemakers in general, but this passage is completely supportive of both Jesus and his followers. Logically, what should appear in this context ought to imply some criticism of the Jewish leaders and/or Pilate, but Josephus does not make any such criticism explicit. He says only that those who denounced Jesus were ‘the leading men among us.’ So, unlike the other episodes, this one has no moral, no lesson. Although Josephus begins the next paragraph by speaking of ‘another outrage’ that caused an uproar among the Jews at the same time, there is nothing in this paragraph that depicts any sort of outrage.” (Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992, p. 165)
 Robert Eisler’s reconstruction of the Testimonium:
“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 all men, whom his disciples call a son of God, as having done wonders such as no man hath ever yet 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.” (Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist: According to Flavius Josephus’ recently rediscovered ‘Capture of Jerusalem’ and the other Jewish and Christian sources, 1931, p. 62)
 Leo Wohleb, Das Testimonium Flavianum. Ein kritischer Bericht über den Stand der Frage, Römische Quartalschrift 35 (1927), 151–169.
 The Greek text from the introduction of paragraph 4 of the Antiquities of the Jews 18:65:
”Καὶ ὑπὸ τοὺς αὐτοὺς χρόνους ἕτερόν τι δεινὸν ἐθορύβει τοὺς Ἰουδαίους καὶ περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν τῆς Ἴσιδος τὸ ἐν Ῥώμῃ πράξεις αἰσχυνῶν οὐκ ἀπηλλαγμέναι συντυγχάνουσιν. καὶ πρότερον τοῦ τῶν Ἰσιακῶν τολμήματος μνήμην ποιησάμενος οὕτω μεταβιβῶ τὸν λόγον ἐπὶ τὰ ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις γεγονότα.”
 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:60–65. The paragraphs 3 and 5 in William Whiston’s translation and paragraph 4 in John P. Meier’s translation:
[Paragraph 3] 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 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.
[Paragraph 4] At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who received the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. He was the Messiah. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.
[The beginning of paragraph 5] About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs. There was at Rome a woman whose name was Paulina; one who, on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation: she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty.
 Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 4:59:
”Τὴν μέντοι στάσιν οὐδ᾽ οὕτως συνέβη παύσασθαι, πολλῷ δὲ μᾶλλον αὔξειν καὶ φύεσθαι: χαλεπωτέραν ἐλάμβανε τῆς ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον προκοπῆς αἰτίαν, ὑφ᾽ ἧς οὐδέποτε λήξειν τὸ δεινὸν ἦν εἰκὸς.”
”However, this sedition was so far from ceasing upon this destruction, that it grew much stronger, and became more intolerable. And the occasion of its growing worse was of that nature, as made it likely the calamity would never cease.”
Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 5:135:
”… στάσις αὐτοὺς πάλιν καταλαμβάνει δεινὴ … ἐκ τοιαύτης αἰτίας.”
”… which great indolence of theirs brought a terrible sedition upon them, and they proceeded so far as to fight one against another, from the following occasion.”
Eduard Norden, Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie, i Kleine Schriften zum klassischen Altertum (Berlin, 1966), s. 250.
 Flavius Josephus writes:
“When he had said this, he went his way. But now she began to come to the sense of the grossness of what she had done, and rent her garments, and told her husband of the horrid nature of this wicked contrivance, and prayed him not to neglect to assist her in this case. So he discovered the fact to the emperor; whereupon Tiberius inquired into the matter thoroughly by examining the priests about it, and ordered them to be crucified, as well as Ide, who was the occasion of their perdition, and who had contrived the whole matter, which was so injurious to the woman. He also demolished the temple of Isis, and gave order that her statue should be thrown into the river Tiber; while he only banished Mundus, but did no more to him, because he supposed that what crime he had committed was done out of the passion of love. And these were the circumstances which concerned the temple of Isis, and the injuries occasioned by her priests. I now return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome, as I formerly told you I would.” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:77–80)