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

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This is part 2r 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


Also the Jews created a legendary historical account in Hebrew based on Josephus. That work is called Josippon and is believed to have been written in the tenth century. It depicts the universal history from the time of Adam onwards. Josippon’s main source is probably Pseudo-Hegesippus, which as we know is a Latin paraphrase of Josephus’ Jewish War. In addition, the author uses a number of other sources, among them the Latin versions of the Bible and the Antiquities of the Jews, but then only the first 16 chapters.[185] It is therefore entirely logical that the Testimonium, which is found in Book 18 of the Antiquities of the Jews, is missing in Josippon; and it is hardly – as Alice Whealey argues – due to the fact that the Jewish writer or some later copyist having excluded the Testimonium because they must have assumed that Josephus could not have written the passage in question.[186] But passages about Jesus have also been added to some manuscripts of Josippon, where some things are quite similar to what we find in the Slavonic Josephus, while other passages reflect the traditions found in the Talmud:

“In these days there were many fights and great quarrels in Judea between the Pharisees and the lawless ones in Israel who went after Jesus, the son of Pandera the Nazarene, who performed great wonders in Israel until the Pharisees overpowered him and hanged him on a tree.”[187]

Roger Viklund, 2011-03-23

[185] Louis H. Feldman: Flavius Josephus Revisited: the Man, His writings, and His Significance, 1972, p. 774– 778, in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Hellenistic Judentum in Roman time: Philon and Josephus 21, 2, 1984 by Hildegard Temporini & Wolfgang Haase.

[186] Alice Whealey writes:

“In the High Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for Jewish scholars in Western Europe to argue that the Testimonium Flavianum was a forgery. However, their charge was not based on a critical examination of relevant sources but on their a priori assumptions that a Jewish historian could not have written so favorably about Jesus. Although they cited as evidence the lack of an analogous Testimonium in most copies of the medieval Hebrew adaptation of Josephus’ works, now known as the Josippon, this lacuna was itself a product of such a priori assumptions on the part of its Jewish author and copyists.” (Alice Whealey, The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Antiquity to the Present, 2000 SBL Josephus Seminar, s. 2)

[187] Reproduced by Solomon Zeitlin, The Slavonic Josephus and Its Relation to Josippon and Hegessippus, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 20, No. 1, Jul., 1929, p. 8).


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