The Jesus Passages in Josephus – a Case Study, part 2p – ”Testimonium Flavianum”: The Church Fathers’ knowledge; miscellanous, Jewish War

Part 1
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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
Part 2q Part 2r Part 2s Part 2t
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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 2p 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 Jewish War and the Slavonic Josephus with their respective additions

The Jewish War

The first historical work that Josephus wrote was the Jewish War. He wrote this in his native language Aramaic, and not long after the war between Jews and Romans ended in 70 CE. Josephus later got help to translate the work into Greek, as he himself at the time still not had sufficient knowledge in Greek. Much of what he wrote about in the Jewish War, he later came to repeat in his second major historical work, the Antiquities of the Jews; as for example the account of what characterized the followers of the three major Jewish “philosophies”, that is, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes, albeit in shortened account. Even the seemingly most insignificant religious and political factions are mentioned. Now, if one happens to believe that the Testimonium indeed was written by Josephus for the Antiquities of the Jews, one could expect that he would have described Christianity, Jesus and John the Baptist, also in his first work (in which there certainly are far greater opportunities to make room for such passages).[169]

In Book 2, Chapter 9 of the Jewish War, Josephus reproduces the same two events that he later also depicts in the Antiquities of the Jews just before the Testimonium. It is the stories of Pilate’s attempt to set up the Emperor’s effigies in Jerusalem and his mass killing of those Jews who protested against the financing of the building of the aqueduct with sacred money from the temple. One starts wondering why Josephus did not say anything about Jesus at this first opportunity, since he there describes the same events preceding the Testimonium in the Antiquities of the Jews.

Furthermore, the opening of the Jewish War 2:9:4 on the fighting over the temple money – “after this he [Pilate] raised another disturbance [ταραχήν]” – is similar to the opening of the paragraph following the Testimonium – “about the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder [ἐθορύβει]”. The former quite logically refers to an earlier uproar while the latter, by the Testimonium being present where it is, refers to the Testimonium which seems to be completely wrong.[170]

Roger Viklund, 2011-03-21


[169] George R. S. Mead writes:

“In describing there the events which led up to the outbreak of the revolt, he treats of all the other religious and political movements in Palestine, even the most insignificant, contemporary with the beginnings of Christianity, and yet he says not a single word about the Baptist or Jesus. This is a very striking and puzzling omission. Where precisely we should expect to find such mention, and where far greater opportunities occur for bringing it in than in The Antiquities, we are confronted with ’the silence of Josephus.” (G. R. S. Mead, Gnostic John the Baptizer: Selections from the Mandaean John-Book, 1924, III The Slavonic Josephus’ Account of the Baptist and Jesus, p. 98; reproduced in Sacred texts)

[170] Earl Doherty writes:

“One might note that the opening of paragraph 4 about the aqueducts, “After this he [Pilate] raised another disturbance,” is very similar to the opening of the paragraph in the Antiquities following the Testimonium, “About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder.” The former, of course, makes sense in Jewish War as introducing the disturbance over the aqueducts immediately following the disturbance surrounding the effigies. The latter, on the other hand, used in Antiquities to introduce the calamity of the Jewish expulsion from Rome, does not immediately follow the earlier disturbances. Instead, it is abutted against the Testimonium, interfering with the logical connection to the previous ‘sad calamity,’ the aqueduct affair. The near-identical nature of those respective opening lines suggests once again that in the Antiquities, just as in Jewish War, the reference to “another sad calamity” in the opening of paragraph 4 was designed to follow immediately upon an incident of similar nature, namely the aqueduct discussion of paragraph 2, not upon anything resembling the Testimonium.” (Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle, Supplementary Article No. 16, Josephus on the Rocks, The Silence of Jewish War)

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