The Jesus Passages in Josephus – a Case Study, part 2k – ”Testimonium Flavianum”: The Church Fathers’ knowledge; The Latin translations, Pseudo-Hegesippus

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Part 2a Part 2b Part 2c Part 2d
Part 2e Part 2f Part 2g Part 2h
Part 2i Part 2j Part 2k Part 2l
Part 2m Part 2n Part 2o Part 2p
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Part 3a Part 3b Part 3c Part 3d
Part 3e Part 3f Part 3g Part 3h
Part 3i Part 3j
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Part 4
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Excursus

This is part 2k of the translation of my treatise Jesuspassagerna hos Josefus – en fallstudie into English.

Den svenska texten.

II. Testimonium Flavianum

The Church Fathers’ knowledge of the Testimonium

The Latin translations

All surviving Greek manuscripts of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews contain the Testimonium in the wording that also Eusebius has; but all these manuscripts are late (11th century onwards). There is however a number of renderings of the Testimonium in works written in other languages ​​– thus translations made from the Greek – and some of these should be paid attention to in a treatise like this one. Among the earliest are the Latin translations. They can be said to be three in number. Rufinus of Aquileia translated Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History into Latin in around the year 402 and then translated also the Testimonium. His version confirms the Testimonium in the normative version. A few years earlier did also Jerome translate the Testimonium, and since his work is founded on Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, it is likely that also his master for the Testimonium was Eusebius’ version. Jerome’s version of the Testimonium deviates primarily from the normative text by his version saying that Jesus only “was believed to be the Messiah.” An additional two decades earlier (during the 370’s) an unknown author known as Pseudo-Hegesippus summarizes the Testimonium very freely, and demonstrates thereby knowledge of the paragraph. What his master for the Testimonium looked like and which source he used, cannot be settled with certainty.

Pseudo-Hegesippus

Testimonium Flavianum is witnessed, although not quoted, in a Latin text which in medieval manuscripts goes by the name of De excidio urbis Hierosolymitanae (On the destruction of the city of Jerusalem). In some manuscripts the work is attributed to Bishop Ambrose of Milan (c. 340–397); in other to a Jewish convert named Isaac, who served in the Roman church policy in the 370’s.[94] We actually do not know who wrote it. The name Pseudo-Hegesippus originates from the fact that the work sometime in the period from late fourth to early ninth century erroneously was assumed to have been written by Hegesippus, a Christian chronicler who lived about 110–180 CE. The mistake was probably due to the names Hegesippus and Josephus being so similar. The work is essentially a paraphrase of Josephus’ Jewish War and Josephus was often named Iosippus in Latin. The confusion may also have been due to the fact that it, like Hegesippus’ now lost work Memoirs (Ὑπομνήματα), consisted of five books. Inasmuch as the work previously was attributed to Hegesippus it has come to be known as Pseudo-Hegesippus.

The work is usually dated to sometime in the period 370–375 CE. It is believed to have been written at the earliest in the 370’s since there seems to be a reference in the text (2:9, 5:15) to Count Theodosius’ reconquest of Britain which took place in the years 367–370, and it should therefore have been written after that event.[95] It also refers to the triumphant position of the Roman empire (2:9, 5:46), and the description of the barbarian tribes on the border suggest that the author is not aware of Rome’s devastating defeat at Adrianople in present-day Turkey in the year 378 and the subsequent Germanic invasions, which in that case sets a upper limit at 378 CE.[96] In a letter from the late fourth century, Jerome writes that the rumour that he “translated the books of Josephus” into Latin is false [97] Some interpret this as if Josephus thus would be translated into Latin, and also as a reference to Pseudo-Hegesippus’ “translation” and that the work thus was available in the late fourth century.[98] Pseudo-Hegesippus’ writing is, however, no translation, not even a paraphrase, but should rather be regarded as an entirely new historical work. It is consistent with much of contemporary historiography, which often was plagiarism. Pseudo-Hegesippus chose however to be very free in regard to his sources, and is not afraid to reassess Josephus’ attitude towards the Jews and emphasize the Christian message. Without any doubt did the author consider himself to be a historian[99] and he summarizes freely the works of others, where the framework consists of Josephus’ Jewish War augmented by other writers, particularly Virgil (70-19 BCE), Sallust (86-35 BC) and Cicero (106-43 BCE).[100]

There is a very free paraphrase of the Testimonium in book two, and this is often adduced as evidence that Pseudo-Hegesippus knew of a version of the Testimonium going back on a manuscript of Josephus that was independent of Eusebius, and that this manuscript also was lacking the expression “he was the Christ/Messiah.” If Pseudo-Hegesippus was not aware of Eusebius, he should accordingly rely on a version of the Testimonium which he had not received from him and therefore Eusebius scarcely could have invented the Testimonium.

This line of argument however remains to be proven. It is in my opinion quite possible that Eusebius is the author of the Testimonium. And as Eusebius also is the first known person to cite and attribute the Testimonium to Josephus, Pseudo-Hegesippus’ testimony must evidently be closely examined; something that will be done in the following.

A drawing in brown, red and yellow, meant to represent Cassiodorus, in a manuscript of parchment from before 1176 CE.

When in the West, in contrast to the East, an increasingly number of people went from Greek to Latin, a need to translate important Greek texts into Latin arose. It has been suggested that Pseudo-Hegesippus did not know Greek, since all the texts he uses, except Josephus (and possibly Eusebius), was in Latin.[101] The one who was in charge of the translation of all the writings of Josephus from Greek into Latin was the Roman statesman and writer Cassiodorus (c. 485-c. 583).[102] But apparently Josephus’ Jewish War was by then already translated into Latin. Cassiodorus says that the translation of the book into Latin, according to some was made ​​by Jerome (c. 347–420), according to others by Ambrose (340–397) and by still others by Rufinus (c. 345–410).[103] Jerome writes (sometime around 385–398) that he at least has not translated the books of Josephus, as rumoured. This is sometimes interpreted as if the Jewish War already in the late fourth century was translated into Latin. Others assume that Jerome refers to Pseudo-Hegesippus’ free paraphrasing and still others that he instead denies that there is any translation and that nothing of Josephus therefore yet had been translated.[104]

In 395 CE, at the very earliest, but more likely in 402 or 403 did Rufinus of Aquileia translate Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History into Latin; a very free translation with both deletions and additions.[105] Rufinus’ translation is far from a literal translation. Furthermore, his work had an addition at the end covering the period from Eusebius up until Rufinus’ own time.[106] He did however translate the Testimonium verbatim.

Köln Dombibliothek, Codex 1035, from 1463 CE. Part of folio 14r with the Testimonium Flavianum in Rufinus’ Latin translation.

A little more than a century later, Cassiodorus (or rather his assistants) translated Josephus’ writings from Greek into Latin. The exception was the Jewish War, which already had been translated, perhaps by Rufinus or by someone else. But the Testimonium does not appear in that book. Cassiodorus thus made the first translation of the Antiquities of the Jews into Latin and was accordingly translating directly from the Greek. Eusebius, however, had already reproduced the Testimonium, the passage on James and the passage on John the Baptist. When Rufinus translated Eusebius into Latin, he of course also translated these three passages. When Cassiodorus then translated the Antiquities of the Jews into Latin, he used the Greek text of Josephus, except when it came to the three Christian passages, where he instead chose to copy the Latin text of Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.[107] The reason for this may be as simple as laziness or convenience, yet there is reason to question whether Cassiodorus’ copies of Josephus lacked the Christian passages, as every translator – even if they are using an earlier translation as a template – usually like to give their translation its own profile, if only by slightly changing somewhat in the choice of words or the structure of the sentences.

As previously said, some argue that Pseudo-Hegesippus did not know Greek, because all his sources apparently were Latin sources. Since there is no indication that Eusebius would have been translated into Latin before Rufinus made his translation in 402 CE, and if pseudo-Hegesippus (c. 375 CE) did not know Greek, he would accordingly not have been able to make a loose translation of Eusebius’ Greek version of the Testimonium into Latin.

However, it is likely that Pseudo-Hegesippus really knew Greek. First of all there is no evidence that his main source, the Jewish War, was translated into Latin in the 370’s, although it is possible. Furthermore, if any of Jerome (who denies it), Ambrose or Rufinus had – as the rumours claimed in the time of Cassiodorus (mid 6th century) – translated the work; it is doubtful whether they would have had it completed in the early 370’s because of their relatively young age at the time. The one who is commonly pointed out as the translator of the Jewish War into Latin is Rufinus,[108] and by c. 370 he was hardly older than 25 years. It is therefore unlikely that Pseudo-Hegesippus had access to a Latin translation of the Jewish War.

Moreover, Pseudo-Hegesippus’ work appears to be just a free paraphrase/translation, perhaps made ​​by someone who was not too knowledgeable in Greek. To make doubly sure, Pseudo-Hegesippus is also aware of other passages than the Testimonium in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews; passages which Eusebius did not refer to in his Ecclesiastical History.[109] Thus, Pseudo-Hegesippus was reasonably familiar with the Antiquities of the Jews and there is no evidence whatever that this work would have been in a Latin translation in the 370’s. Taking this into consideration, while at the same time acknowledging that Cassiodorus himself confirms that he in the sixth century is the first one to translate the book into Latin,[110] it seems very likely that Pseudo-Hegesippus actually had at least a basic knowledge of the Greek language.

To summarize: If now Pseudo-Hegesippus relied on the Antiquities of the Jews, it means that he actually knew Greek, although not necessarily perfect Greek. It is though impossible to determine from where he paraphrased the Testimonium. However, it is reasonable to assume that pseudo-Hegesippus’ master (whichever it was) had the Testimonium in Greek and not in a Latin translation, since we have no evidence that either Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews or Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History was translated into Latin by the time of Pseudo-Hegesippus. There was simply no Latin version of the Testimonium available when Pseudo-Hegesippus wrote his work. Since Pseudo-Hegesippus principally relies on the Jewish War, which, in contrast to the Antiquities of the Jews does not contain anything about Jesus, it is possible that his edition of the Jewish War contained an interpolated version of the Testimonium. We know that at least later in time the Testimonium was also attached to the Jewish War.[111] Another possibility is that the Greek manuscript of the Antiquities of the Jews that Pseudo-Hegesippus likely utilized actually contained the Testimonium. This would be no sensation even if Eusebius was the creator of the Testimonium in the very beginning of the fourth century, because at the time when Pseudo-Hegesippus wrote, at least 60 years had elapsed since Eusebius for the first time reproduced the paragraph. A third scenario is that Pseudo-Hegesippus was relying directly on Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.

The evidence that he actually found the Testimonium in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews is that he also sums up the passage on John the Baptist, which is found in Josephus. In this context he follows the (reverse) order of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, by first telling about Jesus and then about John. This is the opposite order of Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, where he follows the evangelical order with John first and then Jesus. On the other hand, this can easily be explained by the fact that Pseudo-Hegesippus’ account is very loose and if he chose to insert the Testimonium from Eusebius, he may have inserted the paragraph wherever he found it justified based on his motives. On top of this, like Eusebius Pseudo-Hegesippus chose to interpret John’s death in light of the Gospels; then “as a punishment for admonishing Herod for his marriage to Herodias.”[112]

The possibility that Pseudo-Hegesippus has taken the Testimonium from Eusebius is also supported by the fact that the paragraph about Jesus (2:12) is inserted by Pseudo-Hegesippus long after he has told 1) about Pilate setting up imperial effigies in Jerusalem (Antiquities of the Jews, AJ, 2:3, the same event that is told of just before the Testimonium), 2) about Paulina, who is seduced in the Isis temple (AJ 2:4, right after the Testimonium and not occurring in the Jewish War) 3) and about Pilate’s assault on the Samaritans (AJ 2:5, the second following paragraph after that in the Antiquities of the Jews). If Pseudo-Hegesippus would have taken the Testimonium from the Antiquities of the Jews, the reasonable place to introduce the paragraph would be in connection with these other stories (AJ 2:3–2:5). This, however, is not the case.

Pseudo-Hegesippus may therefore very well be using Eusebius as his template for the Testimonium. Jay Raskin has noted the structural similarities between the way Pseudo-Hegesippus and Eusebius are thinking, in the context where they both reproduce the Testimonium. Just before Eusebius quotes the Testimonium both in Demonstratio Evangelica and in Theophania, he argues that the Jews should believe in “the good and miraculous things about Jesus”, because the apostles for the sake of truth also told the negative things about Jesus; and the Jews have no problem believing in all the negative.[113] Right after Eusebius having reproduced the Testimonium in his Ecclesiastical History, he calls attention to the fact that there is no excuse left for those who by forging scriptures speak ill of Jesus “since an historian, who is one of the Hebrews themselves, has recorded in his work these things concerning John the Baptist and our Saviour”;[114] that is spoken good of him. On these three occasions Eusebius thus highlights that a) the Jews and other skeptics actually should believe in the good and miraculous things that are told about Jesus for the sake of truth, because the Apostles also reported things that were unfavourable to Jesus, also they for the sake of truth, and b) because Josephus, one of the Jews himself, said favourable things about Jesus, there is no reason for skeptics to talk bad about Jesus. Eusebius writes this in direct connection to all the three times he quotes the Testimonium.

These three passages, and above all the text set in bold type, should be compared to Pseudo-Hegesippus, who claims that “if the Jews do not believe us, they might believe one of their own”, one “who spoke the truth about” Jesus, and that although “he did not believe even his own words … he spoke for the sake of fidelity to history, because he thought it wrong to deceive”. Raskin argues that Pseudo-Hegesippus perhaps was familiar with all the three books where Eusebius reproduces the Testimonium and that his arguments were influenced by this. As can be seen the line of thought is similar in both Eusebius and Pseudo-Hegesippus when they are dealing with the Testimonium, that is to say that Josephus chose to reveal the truth about Jesus for the sake of truth, and that the skeptics therefore also in the interests of truth should not speak ill of Jesus. To this a further observation can be added, namely that the brief mention that Eusebius makes of John the Baptist in Ecclesiastical History immediately after the Testimonium[115] (quoted in blue above) also has its parallel in a reference to John the Baptist made by Pseudo-Hegesippus right after he has summarized the Testimonium:[116] “John the Baptist a holy man, who never placed the truth of salvation in second place, had been killed before the death of Jesus.”[117] This suggests that Pseudo-Hegesippus after all was relying on Eusebius and in a way treats Jesus and John in the same order as Eusebius – by mentioning John again and this time after he has mentioned Jesus.

Because of the very free nature of Pseudo-Hegesippus’ work, nothing is safe to say other than to suggest that Pseudo-Hegesippus probably knew Greek, but maybe not perfect Greek because whenever he had the opportunity he used Latin sources. He therefore easily could have incorporated the Testimonium from a copy of one of Eusebius’ works. But he may all the same very well have used the Antiquities of the Jews also for the quote of the Testimonium, provided that it was found in the manuscript he had access to. This still does not prove a witnessing of the Testimonium independent of Eusebius, because at the time when Pseudo-Hegesippus wrote, 60–70 years had passed since Eusebius first quoted the Testimonium, and accordingly there were ample time for the Testimonium to find its way into the copy which Pseudo-Hegesippus in this case relied on.

It is therefore difficult to decide which source Pseudo-Hegesippus used for the Testimonium, but it may well be Eusebius and thereby does Pseudo-Hegesippus not provide a witness to the Testimonium independent of Eusebius. The question then is how well the second claim of an independent testimony stand up to scrutiny? Alice Whealey argues that Pseudo-Hegesippus in addition to giving one from Eusebius independent witness to the Testimonium (something that is not possible to know) also had access to a version of the Antiquities of the Jews in which the phrase “he was the Messiah” was missing. There might then possibly, again according to Whealey, have been a more de-Christianized variant such as “he was believed to be the Messiah”. She claims that everything in the Testimonium exists in rewritten form in Pseudo-Hegesippus except for Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus and that Jesus was the Messiah.[118] From this she concludes that as Pseudo-Hegesippus always promotes Christianity on the expense of Judaism, he would never have left out Josephus’ saying that Jesus was the Messiah if that was to be found in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ manuscript of the Antiquities of the Jews (or in any other original).[119] But is she right? Here is the whole of the relevant paragraph:

Pseudo-Hegesippus’ Testimonium

“They were suffering the punishments for their crimes, those who, after having crucified Jesus, the arbiter of divine affairs, then were also persecuting his disciples. For many Jews and even more Gentiles believed in him and were attracted by his teaching of morals and performance of works beyond human capability. Not even his death put an end to their faith and love, but rather it increased their devotion. And so they brought in murderous bands and conducted the originator of life to Pilatus to be killed, they began to press the reluctant judge. In which however Pilatus is not absolved [non excusator Pilatus], but the madness of the Jews is piled up, because he was not obliged to judge, whom not at all guilty he had arrested, nor to double the sacrilege to this murder, that by those he should be killed who had offered himself to redeem and heal them. Of this the Jews themselves give the testimony, Josephus the writer saying in his history that there was at that time a wise man, if it be appropriate, he says, to call man the creator of miraculous works, who appeared alive to his disciples three days after his death according to writings of the prophets, who prophesied both these and innumerable other things full of wonders about him. From him began the congregation of Christians, even infiltrating every race of humans, nor does there remain any nation in the Roman world that is without his religion. If the Jews do not believe us, they might believe one of their own. Thus spoke Josephus, whom they esteem a very great man, and nevertheless so devious in mind was he who spoke the truth about him, that he did not believe even his own words. Although he spoke for the sake of fidelity to history because he thought it wrong to deceive, he did not believe because of his hardness of heart and faithless intention. Nevertheless it does not prejudice truth because he did not believe, rather it adds to the testimony because, unbelieving and unwilling he did not deny it. In this the eternal power of Jesus Christ shone forth, that even the leading men of the synagogue who delivered him up to death acknowledged him to be God [his divinity].” (Pseudo-Hegesippus, De excidio Hierosolymitano, book 2, chap. 12)[120]

Compare the text of Pseudo-Hegesippus above with the text in the Testimonium Flavianum below. Those parts above that are set in the red are in my opinion, reasonably equivalent to the parts of the Testimonium that are set in red below. The parts that are set in green in the Testimonium below are those parts that Alice Whealey argues are missing in  Pseudo-Hegesippus, but which I think also is present there, and these parts are also marked in green above. The blue-marked parts in Pseudo-Hegesippus, contain statements that Josephus was not a believing Christian.

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. (Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:63-64)

As can be seen, Pseudo-Hegesippus has not made a literal translation. It is hardly even a matter of paraphrasing, but rather a kind of collage. The Testimonium is therefore scattered and woven into other trains of thought. Alice Whealey is arguing that if “he was the Messiah” would have been part of the copy which Pseudo-Hegesippus relied upon, he would never have failed to include the phrase, especially as he takes every opportunity to emphasize the supremacy of Christianity over Judaism. The parts that are set in green in the Testimonium are the parts that Whealey claims are absent in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ account. But I think that she is wrong and that they certainly are there. The parts that I refer to have been highlighted in green also in Pseudo-Hegesippus above.

First and foremost, in the case of Pilate’s condemnation, Pseudo-Hegesippus writes: “even the leading men of the synagogue who delivered him up to death”. This is really close to what is written in the Testimonium: “And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading/principal men among us, condemned him to the cross”. The highlighted brown parts are partially verbatim in the Testimonium and Pseudo-Hegesippus. Only Pilate, not the deliverance has been omitted. But Pilate’s offense occurs earlier in Pseudo-Hegesippus, by the statement that when Jews had brought Jesus “to Pilatus to be killed, they began to press the reluctant judge. In which however Pilatus is not absolved [non excusator Pilatus]” This in all likelihood refers to precisely the part in the Testimonium where “Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross”, and thus Pilate is not absolved. In both cases, it is said that the Jews by bringing pressure on Pilate is able to make him kill Jesus. Apparently, also this part of the Testimonium is found in Pseudo-Hegesippus, although – as is usual when it comes to him – thoroughly rehashed.

Acknowledged his divinity. If this assumption is correct, it would mean that only “he was the Messiah” was excluded from Pseudo-Hegesippus’ version of the Testimonium. But is even this the case? Ken Olson has proposed a solution that is much more plausible than an omission of “he was the Christ” in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ master, namely that it after all is there, but rather in the form of “acknowledged his divinity”.[121] This is how Alice Whealey translates the passage in question: ”even the leading men of the synagogue who delivered him up to death acknowledged him to be God”. We have to ask ourselves: From where in Josephus has Pseudo-Hegesippus got the information that the leading Jews would have regarded Jesus as God? This is fundamentally a quite bizarre statement if Josephus would have written it. Josephus of course was a devout Jew and thus must have known that the leading Jews could not possibly consider Jesus to be God! While a statement in the Testimonium that Jesus vas the Messiah is missing, at the same time there is this strange and seemingly baseless statement in Pseudo-Hegesippus, that Jesus was acknowledged as God by the leading Jews.

It is reasonable that an absence in one place and an excess in another, suggests that the absence should be filled by the excess. If only one detail is missing, while another detail has been added, one should first examine whether this new detail has its origin in the missing part. It is quite possible that a person who was not really knowledgeable in Greek would misinterpret the Greek. It says: ”ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου”. This literally means: “Messiah this was and him on accusation of the principal men among us to pole Pilate having condemned.” Pseudo-Hegesippus would then have interpreted this as: “Messiah this was, and he was acknowledged by the principal men, and Pilate condemned him to the cross.” Or rather, as Ken Olson suggests, that Pseudo-Hegesippus interpreted “he was the Christ [= the anointed one]” as being the accusation which the principal men made against Jesus.[122] Thereby the principal men would have acknowledged him as the Messiah and in that way affirmed his divinity. This is strengthened by four factors:

1)      The Latin deum fatebantur, which Whealey translates into “acknowledged him to be God”, can also be translated as “acknowledged his divinity”. Heinz Schreckenberg, for example, translates the passage to “confessed his divinity”.[123] The verb fatebantur is the past tense of fateor, which means to confess, admit, acknowledge, own, show or indicate. The noun deum means god and deity. And to claim that Jesus was the Messiah is very close to acknowledge his divinity if you are a committed Christian.

2)      Is it then possible to translate the Greek ἐνδείξει (endeixei = accusation) into the Latin fatebantur (acknowledged)? There seems to be a big difference in meaning between accusing someone and acknowledging (or confessing) someone. The Greek ἔνδειξις means primarily “a pointing out” and thus “an accusation”, “a laying information against” somebody. But the word has also the meaning of “a demonstration”, “display of one’s good will”. This latter interpretation is not that far from “acknowledge” or “confess” in the meaning of “considering that someone is”.

3)      This is also supported by the fact that Pseudo-Hegesippus everywhere else does not translate, or even paraphrase, but many times just gives his own interpretation of how he believes the history should be portrayed. When combined with a misinterpretation of the Greek in such a way that it was the principal men among the Jews who saw Jesus as the Messiah, it is entirely logical and feasible that the Testimonium, in exactly the wording that was in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, also was in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ master, whatever it was. One should remember that the manuscripts at that time were written in uncial script, which means entirely in capital letters, while there often were no gaps between words, sentences or even phrases, and the line could break in the middle of a word. CONSEQUENTLYITCOUL-DLOOKLIKETHISTHENEWSENTENCEBEGUNWITHOUTAPRECEEDINGDOT.

4)      The fact that the phrase “the principal men” (Greek: ”πρώτων ἀνδρῶν” or prôtôn andrôn) occurs soon after “he was the Christ”, and not like Pilate, at the end of the sentence (or in a sentence further away), makes it likely that the connection erroneously was made by Pseudo-Hegesippus. It is a seductive circumstance that it was the principal or leading men who acknowledged his divinity, and the term “the principal men” is just adjacent to “he was the Messiah” in the Testimonium (ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν). It is a seductive circumstance since “he was the Messiah” is the only component of the Testimonium missing in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ rehash of the paragraph. The likelihood that all this would happen by chance seems to be small.

Since the Latin deum can be translated into deity meaning divinity and the Greek ”endeixei” be interpreted as “a demonstration”; since Pseudo-Hegesippus’ text is a very free paraphrase, and the expression ”the principal  men” follows closely upon “he was the Messiah” in the Testimonium – Pseudo-Hegesippus’ assertion “that even the leading men … acknowledged his divinity” seems to be taken directly from the Testimonium, albeit modified in a more Christian course so that Jesus was rather divine than anointed. In that case, this would be fully consistent with Pseudo-Hegesippus’ efforts to reinterpret Josephus in a more Christian direction, where Jesus being divine reasonably is of more value than him being the Messiah.

The parts of Pseudo-Hegesippus’ Testimonium that are set in blue above, says that Josephus himself was not a believing Christian, but despite this he did not deny the testimony. Since Pseudo-Hegesippus, according to my explanation, apparently misread the Greek, and thought that Josephus had written that the principal men of the synagogue believed that the man who was brought to Pilate was the Messiah and therefore divine, or that they perhaps accused him of being the Messiah, it is entirely reasonable that Pseudo-Hegesippus did not consider Josephus to be a Christian. Pseudo-Hegesippus would then have interpreted the text so that Josephus himself did no claim that Jesus was the Messiah. And an objection that the Testimonium must have contained other things, such as a denial by Josephus that made Pseudo-Hegesippus think that Josephus was not a Christian, is far-fetched; because Pseudo-Hegesippus apparently has everything else in the Testimonium in front of him. In the Testimonium it is among other things called into question whether Jesus was a human being and it is said that the prophets had foretold his future life, all oblique identifications of Jesus as the Messiah. This was apparently still not enough for Pseudo-Hegesippus to interpret Josephus as a Christian. But this is of course an accurate observation made by Pseudo-Hegesippus, as beside the Testimonium there is not a trace in Josephus which would indicate that he was a Christian.

To sum it all up; Pseudo-Hegesippus’ master probably had all the components of the normative version of the Testimonium. Because of his free interpretation, it is impossible to determine the exact wording of the manuscript he had access to. Inasmuch as Pseudo-Hegesippus’ main source is Josephus’ oldest historical work, the Jewish War, it cannot be ruled out that there was an interpolated version of the Testimonium in his manuscript of the Jewish War. But there is also the possibility that he has taken the Testimonium from Eusebius, either directly or indirectly from someone else who in turn was relying on Eusebius. Finally, it is quite possible that Pseudo-Hegesippus found the Testimonium in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (and then likely in Greek), because at times he seems to use information that can only be found there. If that is the case, it would still be no sensation if Pseudo-Hegesippus had found the Testimonium in the manuscript of the Antiquities of the Jews which he had access to. By then almost seven decades had elapsed since the passage was first witnessed, which leaves plenty of time for Eusebius’ version of the Testimonium (the one he composed or simply reproduced) to be interpolated into the various manuscripts spread around the vast Roman Empire, although not necessarily in all or even most manuscripts.

Roger Viklund, 2011-03-15


[94] This Isaac is mentioned by Jerome in Commentarii in Epistulas, Ad Titum 3:9.

[95] From the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:

“The work is usually dated to between 370–c.375 AD. It contains in book 2 chapter 9 what seems to be an allusion to the recent reconquest of Britain by Count Theodosius, ca. 370 AD, so cannot be earlier than this. It also refers to Constantinople by name. There is a reference to a Latin translation of Josephus in letter 71 of St. Jerome, written between 386 and 400 AD. The author refers to the triumphant position of the Roman empire, which suggests that it must precede the imperial crisis brought on by the disastrous defeat and death of the emperor Valens in battle with the Goths at Adrianople in 378, and still more so the sack of Rome in 410.” (Preface to Pseudo-Hegesippus)

[96] Albert A. Bell JR, Josephus and Pseudo-Hegesippus; in Louis H. Feldman, Gōhei Hata, Josephus, Judaism and Christianity, Detroit 1987, p. 350.

[97] Jerome; from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:

“It is a false rumour which has reached you to the effect that I have translated the books of Josephus and the volumes of the holy men Papias and Polycarp. I have neither the leisure nor the ability to preserve the charm of these masterpieces in another tongue. Of Origen and Didymus I have translated a few things, to set before my countrymen some specimens of Greek teaching.” (Hieronymus, Letter LXXI. To Lucinius).

[98] From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“The work began to circulate about the time of the death of the Bishop of Milan (398), or shortly after. A letter of St. Jerome (Epist lxxi), written between 386 and 400, bears witness to this. But there is nothing to prove that St. Ambrose wrote this work at the end of his life. The various allusions, notably that to the conquest of Britain by Theodosius (c. 370) are more readily explained if it be an earlier work of St. Ambrose, antedating his episcopate.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability).

[99] Albert A. Bell JR. writes:

“There is nothing in this to indicate that the writer perceives himself to be translating a Greek work for the convenience of a Latin-reading audience. He thinks of himself as some of the manuscripts designate him: a historiographus. The only reference to Josephus points out the inadequacies of his account. Pseudo-Hegesippus intends his work as a corrective and as the last volume in a comprehensive ‘History of the Jews,’ the rest of which is lost. But it is a history written ‘to prove something, not to tell a story,’ if we may paraphrase Quintilian. He wants to show that God has abandoned the Jews in favor of the Christian church. The war between A.D. 66 and 70 was, in his view, God’s effort to destroy the Jews.” (Albert A. Bell JR, Josephus and Pseudo-Hegesippus; in Louis H. Feldman, Gōhei Hata, Josephus, Judaism and Christianity, Detroit 1987, p. 353)

[100] From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“The authors most frequently imitated are Virgil, Sallust, and Cicero, precisely the writers most frequently imitated by St. Ambrose.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability)

[101] Alice Whealey writes:

“Other than Josephus, its sources are all Latin or, like the Bible, available in Latin translation. For example, it used the Latin rather than Greek version of 1 Maccabees. Eusebius’ works were not yet available in Latin when it was written in the late fourth century.” (Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus, The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times, 2003, p. 31)

[102] Heinz Schreckenberg writes

“That Cassiodorus had only Antiquities and Against Apion translated had two reasons. One was the banal fact that there probably already existed sufficient copies of the Latin War, and the other was the inner affinity of the two works, which taken together presented an excellent compendium of Jewish history and religion.” (Heinz Schreckenberg, Kurt Schubert, Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity (Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Ad Novum Testamentum) p. 76

[103] Norman Bentwich, Josephus, p. 136, quotes Cassiodrus:

“As to Josephus, who is almost a second Livy, and is widely known by his books on the Antiquities of the Jews, Jerome declared that he was unable to translate his works because of their great volume. But one of my friends has translated the twenty-two books [i.e. the Antiquities and the two books of the Apology], in spite of their difficulty and complexity, into the Latin tongue. He also wrote seven books of extreme brilliancy on the Conquest of the Jews, the translation of which some ascribe to Jerome, others to Ambrose, and others to Rufinus.” (Cassiodorus, Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum 1:17:1)

[104] Emil Schürer writes:

“On the origin of these texts, the following evidence exists. (I) Jerome, epist. lxxi ad Lucinium, 5, ‘Porro Iosephi libros et sanctorum Papiae et Polycarpi volumina falsus ad te rumor pertulit a me esse translata: quia nec otii mei nec virium est, tantas res eadem in alteram linguam exprimere venustate’. From this it follows not only that Jerome made no translation of Josephus, but that in his time there was still no translation of his works, or at least part of his works, available, otherwise there would be no need of one.” (Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ: 175 B.C.–A.D. 135, Volume I, 1973, p. 58)

[105] Torben Christensen has closely studied Rufinus’ translation methodology and it can be summarized as follows:

Rufinus’ translation of the Ecclesiastical History is very free. Many of the changes he made were due to his desire to create a lucid style. At the same time he took great liberties and he could rewrite as well as add new information. (Torben Christensen, Rufinus of Aquileia and the Historia ecclesiastica, Lib. VIII–IX, of Eusebius, p. 333)

[106] ”Rufinus was the very opposite of a literal translator”. But it was his Latin translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History “that was transmitted to the Latin west.” (Rosamond McKitterick, History and memory in the Carolingian world, p. 227–229)

[108] Heinz Schreckenberg, Kurt Schubert, Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity (Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Ad Novum Testamentum) p. 76.

[109] Marian Hillar writes:

“That it is used directly from Josephus is confirmed by the Pseudo-Hegesippus using also the reference concerning the deceived Roman matron, Pauline, which follows the Jesus passage in Antiquities (Bk. XVIII.9.4; De excidio Bk. II. 4). He also makes reference to the passage on John the Baptist though the interpretation of his death is that found in the Gospels – as a punishment for admonishing Herod for his marriage to Herodias (Antiquities Bk. XVIII.5.2; De excidio Bk. II.12.2).” (Marian Hillar, Flavius Josephus and His Testimony Concerning the Historical Jesus, 2005, p. 17).

[110] Cassiodorus, Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum 1:17:1.

[111] Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man – The Case for a Mythical Jesus (2009), p. 548–549.

[112] Compare the Antiquities of the Jews 18:5:2 to Pseudo-Hegesippus 2:12:2.

[113] Eusebius, Theophania 5:43; Demonstratio evangelica 3:5.

[114] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1:11:9

[115] Eusebius writes:

”Since an historian, who is one of the Hebrews themselves, has recorded in his work these things concerning John the Baptist and our Saviour, what excuse is there left for not convicting them of being destitute of all shame, who have forged the acts against them? But let this suffice here.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1:11:9)

[116] Jay Raskin on FRDB.

[117] Pseudo-Hegesippus writes:

“In which the eternal power of Jesus Christ shone bright because even the leaders of the synagogue confessed him to be god whom they had seized for death. And truly as god speaking without limitation of persons or any fear of death he announced also the future destruction of the temple. But the damage of the temple did not move them, but because they were chastized by him in scandal and sacrilege, from this their wrath flared up that they should kill him, whom no ages had held. For while others had earned by praying to do what they did, he had it in his power that he could order all things what he wished to be done. John the Baptist a holy man, who never placed the truth of salvation in second place, had been killed before the death of Jesus.” (Pseudo-Hegesippus, De excidio Hierosolymitano 2:12)

[118] Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus, The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times, 2003, p. 32.

[119] Alice Whealey writes:

“Conversely, it is hard to believe that Pseudo-Hegesippus would have omitted an apparent testimony to Jesus’ Messiahship, namely the statement ‘he was the Messiah,’ if it had stood in his text of Antiquities, for he is inclined to exaggerate the significance of the Testimonium, especially in his claim that it shows even the leaders of the synagogue acknowledged Jesus to be God. If it had stood in his text, one wonders why Pseudo-Hegesippus is so adamant that Josephus still did not believe” (Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus, The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times, 2003, p. 33)

[120] Pseudo-Hegesippus, De excidio Hierosolymitano 2:12:

“Luebant enim scelerum suorum supplicia, qui postquam Iesum crucifixerant divinorum arbitrum, postea etiam discipulos eius persequebantur. Plerique tamen Iudaeorum, Gentilium plurimi crediderunt in eum, cum praeceptis moralibus, operibus ultra humanam possibilitatem profluentibus invitarentur. Quibus ne mors quidem eius vel fidei vel gratiae finem imposuit, immo etiam cumulavit devotionem … De quo ipsi Iudaei quoque testantur dicente Iosepho historiarum scriptore, quod fuerat illo in tempore vir sapiens, si tamen oportet, inquit, virum dici mirabilium creatorem operum, qui apparuerit discipulis suis post triduum mortis suae vivens secundum prophetarum scripta, qui et haec et alia innumerabilia de eo plena miraculi prophetaverunt. Ex quo coepit congregatio Christianorum et in omne hominum penetravit genus, nec ulla natio Romani orbis remansit, quae cultus eius expers relinqueretur. Si nobis non credunt Iudaei, vel suis credant. Hoc dixit Iosephus, quem ipsi maximum putant, et tamen ita in eo ipso quod verum locutus est mente devius fuit, ut nec sermonibus suis crederet. Sed locutus est propter historiae fidem, quia fallere nefas putabat, non credidit propter duritiam cordis et perfidiae intentionem. Non tamen veritati praeiudicat, quia non credidit sed plus addidit testimonio, quia nec incredulus et invitus negavit. In quo Christi Iesu claruit aeterna potentia, quod eum etiam principes synagogae quem ad mortem comprehenderant Deum fatebantur.”

“They were suffering the punishments for their crimes, those who, after having crucified Jesus, the arbiter of divine affairs, then were also persecuting his disciples. For many Jews and even more Gentiles believed in him and were attracted by his teaching of morals and performance of works beyond human capability. Not even his death put an end to their faith and love, but rather it increased their devotion. And so they brought in murderous bands and conducted the originator of life to Pilatus to be killed, they began to press the reluctant judge. In which however Pilatus is not absolved, but the madness of the Jews is piled up, because he was not obliged to judge, whom not at all guilty he had arrested, nor to double the sacrilege to this murder, that by those he should be killed who had offered himself to redeem and heal them. Of this the Jews themselves give the testimony, Josephus the writer saying in his history that there was at that time a wise man, if it be appropriate, he says, to call man the creator of miraculous works, who appeared alive to his disciples three days after his death according to writings of the prophets, who prophesied both these and innumerable other things full of wonders about him. From him began the congregation of Christians, even infiltrating every race of humans, nor does there remain any nation in the Roman world that is without his religion. If the Jews do not believe us, they might believe one of their own. Thus spoke Josephus, whom they esteem a very great man, and nevertheless so devious in mind was he who spoke the truth about him, that he did not believe even his own words. Although he spoke for the sake of fidelity to history because he thought it wrong to deceive, he did not believe because of his hardness of heart and faithless intention. Nevertheless it does not prejudice truth because he did not believe, rather it adds to the testimony because, unbelieving and unwilling he did not deny it. In this the eternal power of Jesus Christ shone forth, that even the leading men of the synagogue who delivered him up to death acknowledged him to be God [his divinity]. And truly as god speaking without limitation of persons or any fear of death he announced also the future destruction of the temple. But the damage of the temple did not move them, but because they were chastized by him in scandal and sacrilege, from this their wrath flared up that they should kill him, whom no ages had held. For while others had earned by praying to do what they did, he had it in his power that he could order all things what he wished to be done. John the Baptist a holy man, who never placed the truth of salvation in second place, had been killed before the death of Jesus.” (Pseudo-Hegesippus, De excidio hierosolymitano (Hegesippi qui dicitur historiae libri V) in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, (Vindobonae: Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1932; reprint by Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York, London: 1960). Vol. 66, pt 1, 2. Bk. II:12.1. Translation by Whealey, op. cit. pp. 31–32. Additions made from BOOK II OF HEGESIPPUS)

[121] Ken Olson on Crosstalk2.

[122] Ken Olson:

“The received text of the Testimonium reads ”He was the Christ and on the accusation of the leading men among us Pilate condemned him to the Cross.” I think that Ps.-H. has interpreted ”He was the Christ” to be the accusation that the Jewish leaders brought against Jesus rather than an authorial comment by Josephus. That is, admittedly, not a good translation of what Josephus actually says, but we are not dealing with a good translation here but a tendentious interpretation. And I think it would be difficult to account for the claim about the leaders [sic! leader’s] confession in any other way.” (Ken Olson on Crosstalk2)

[123] Heinz Schreckenberg translates it like this:

“The eternal power of Christ Jesus was made clear. In that even the leaders of the synagogue, who dragged him to execution, confessed his divinity”. (Heinz Schreckenberg, Kurt Schubert, Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity, p. 72)

4 kommentarer

  1. 16 mars, 2011 den 07:47

    For what it’s worth, I think that Josephus only goes as far back as Pseudo-Hegesippus’s original source. I suspect that the Jewish Wars is a mixture of the Aramaic notes of the real historical first century Josephus and Justus or some other source (for how did Josephus know what was going on behind the walls of Jerusalem) developed by a Christian editor (probably Polycarp) in 147 CE (i.e. on the seventy seventh anniversary of the destruction of the temple). I think the Testimonium is original to the composition but unknown to the historical Josephus. In other words, the work was developed by a Christian and was modified by Eusebius into something more like what a Jew might have written in the first century.

    Gilla

    • 16 mars, 2011 den 11:14

      I am on the fence whether or not the Testimonium only goes back to Eusebius or to the time before him. I do not think that the Testimonium in any form was written by Josephus, since it does not fit in the context. However, it is a quite difficult issue and when it comes to the Slavonic Josephus it becomes even more complicated. I have previously never heard of the solution you are suggesting here, although I have read some of your theories. Have you elaborated on this theory somewhere?

      Gilla

  2. 16 mars, 2011 den 22:13

    I once started an extensive side by side comparison of Pseudo-Hegesippus (the Latin translation associated with Ambrose) and the Greek text of Jewish War at freeratio.org. There are some surprises that come out of that.

    Gilla


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