Josephus Testimonium

  1. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    (This was split off from this thread - https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=706058 )
    I have for many, many years believed that Jesus, of the Christian bible did not exist. He is not mentioned in Roman records. The Romans were sticklers for record keeping.

    He is not mentioned by Jewish chroniclers of the time (Josephus) [STRIKE]nor in the epistles of Paul, long before the (supposed) gospels were written. I won't get into that as it has already been pointed out above.[/STRIKE]

    The history of the era is still very interesting and should be read.

    I'm retracting the statement about Paul since it's confusing, as Paul only references Jesus after he was "resurrected". (thank you Atyy for pointing that out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. micromass

    micromass 18,875
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Huh?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus
     
  4. marcus

    marcus 24,478
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    Hi Micromass, thanks for the three quotes. I feel OK about the first--I've seen that quote from Josephus several other places. I'm not a scholar and not especially skeptical of ancient sources being tampered with by copyists. I can only tell you my subjective FWIW hunches.

    To me the first quote sounds genuine because kind of tossed off, kind of contemptuously: Oh yeah they stoned this guy, and he happened to be the brother of this other guy they were calling "Christ".

    Some later copyist who forged some inserted mention of Jesus and put it into Josephus text would, I suspect, have done it with more awe and respect, hinting at how very important this personage was.

    That's more the tone I hear in the third quote. With no scholarly expertise to go on, I still do feel it's questionable.

    BTW liked your "French fish" problem!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  5. micromass

    micromass 18,875
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Sure, I completely agree with you. Whether the quotes are genuine and not inserted by translators is very debatable. So it is to me very possible that Jesus wasn't mentioned in the book at all. But claiming that it's certain that he was never mentioned is certainly incorrect. That's all I wanted to show.

    Haha, thanks! :tongue:
     
  6. marcus

    marcus 24,478
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    I reconsidered the second quote and edited my post so as to leave it out of consideration. I see your point in general: can't rule out that there was some historical reference by non-Christian.
     
  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    The passage that was inserted into the work of Josephus has been widely discredited. You should know by now that I usually look things up before I post. :smile: While it's still debated, the arguments that the passages are a forgery are pretty convincing.

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/marshall_gauvin/did_jesus_really_live.html

    http://books.google.com/books?id=mc...w stands no sane critic can believe."&f=false

    This also gives more background on the subject.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#Testimonium_Flavianum_2

     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  8. micromass

    micromass 18,875
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Sorry, but this website has an agenda. I don't accept it as unbiased resource.

    There is a difference between total authenticity and partial authenticity. This difference is important.

    You are cherry picking your scholars and your examples. Fact is that many scholars at least believe that the quotes are partially authentic. Wikipedia gives a much more balanced overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#Detailed_Analysis
     
  9. atyy

    atyy 10,306
    Science Advisor

    I agree that the passages are doubtful, but Maier who is referenced by Evo in the quote "Paul L. Maier calls the case for the total authenticity of the Testimonium "hopeless".[4]" actually goes on to say "The weight of evidence, then, strongly suggests that Josephus mentioned Jesus in both passages. He did so in a manner totally congruent with the New Testatment portrait of Jesus, and his description, from the vantage point of a non-Christian, seems remarkably fair, particularly in view of his known proclivity of roasting false messiahs as the sorts who misled the people and brought on the Romans." http://books.google.com/books?id=kyaoIb6k2ccC&source=gbs_navlinks_s (p662-663). My quotation does not indicate my agreement or disagreement with Maier's judgement.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  10. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not using the article, I am using the references. Did you even bother to read the second reference Bibliotecha Sacra? (Bibliotheca Sacra is a theological journal published by Dallas Theological Seminary)


    What that statement refers to is the authenticity of the entire Testimonium Flavianum. Some scholars believe that the entire work is a forgery, whereas others believe that most or part of it is authentic, with the parts about Jesus having been added later.

    Yes, after reading the pros and cons, I do believe the references are a forgery.
     
  11. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    The entire paragraph
    Again, he is referring here to the authenticity of the Testimonium itself.

    Maier then goes on to say
    So does this sound more in line with the part I quoted or what you found elsewhere? This is where he is referring to the pieces about Jesus not being in the Arabic version. Apparently he seems to contradict himself with this book "Eusebius: The Church History". Here he appears to be saying that both he and Van Voorst are assuming there was Christian Interpolation, no? I've read so many pieces from so many sources in the past 2 days that it's all blurring.

    If there is this much interest in the matter of Christian interpolation of the Testimonium, then perhaps we should split this discussion off into it's own thread. There is a lot written pro and con as to it's validity.

    Sounds like micro will take the pro side in the discussion, sounds like you are neutral? I wonder what our resident historian Marcus has to say?
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  12. atyy

    atyy 10,306
    Science Advisor

    Also, Evo must have meant something very specific by writing that the Jesus of the Christian Bible is not mentioned in the epistles of Paul. Paul mentions Jesus many times, even if you discard all the epistles that are not unanimously agreed to be written by Paul. Try for example Galatians, where he mentions the crucifixion of Jesus, and also some disagreement he had with James, the brother of Jesus (the subject of one of the above-mentioned passages attributed to Josephus).
     
  13. atyy

    atyy 10,306
    Science Advisor

    As I understand, Maier's suggestion is that even if you remove the later interpolations, the strong probability remains that Jospehus did refer to Jesus in his original work. So I believe that Maier's idea is that there was both a reference to Jesus in the original work, as well as later interpolations.
     
  14. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, you are of course, correct, my understanding was that he wrote of Jesus in a mystical sense, more symbolically. This I could be wrong about as it is going by my ancient memory. Now I will need to research this as I hate being wrong.
     
  15. atyy

    atyy 10,306
    Science Advisor

    Nah, that's basically fine in the sense Paul mentions the death of Jesus, but none (that's a bit strong, not sure I'm remembering correctly) of the events in the life of Jesus before that, whereas the gospels do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  16. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

  17. atyy

    atyy 10,306
    Science Advisor

    Quick technical question: Josephus has two references to Jesus. Only one of them, I believe, is in the "Testimonium Flavianum". But I believe the discussion is about both references?
     
  18. micromass

    micromass 18,875
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Yes. And let's add the reference to John the Baptist to this.
     
  19. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    That's in the last link I posted. Testimonium is part of The Antiquities.

    Would you please read the link?
     
  20. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    The first is Jewish Antiquities 18.3.3 Testimonium Flavianum

    The second is Jewish Antiquities 20.9.1

    They are both discussed in my last link.
     
  21. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,300
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I don't have any view on whether or not the account in the gospel is historically correct, but if it is correct it omits some background information which would of course have been well known to its original readers.

    In general the Romans weren't very interested in the religious activities of the citizens of their empire, so long as they obeyed Roman civil law and didn't actively attack the Roman pantheon of gods. (Though that situation changed later on, in the time of Nero for example.)

    They were quite content to let the Jews administer their own religions laws through their religious law courts, except that the religious courts were not allowed to impose the death penalty without the approval of the Roman civil administration.

    That fact is assumed without explanation in the gospel accounts of the death of Jesus. The "back story" of the events is that the Jewish court first attempted to incriminate Jesus of a roman civil offense, such as claiming to be a king in opposition to the Roman administration. If that had been successful, they could have let the Roman legal system deal with him which would have got him out of their hair.

    When that failed, the backup plan was to convict him of the religious crime of blasphemy, and then get the Roman authorities to rubber stamp the death penalty. Piilate was already "on probation" from previous failures to sort out similar problems, and knew that his job was on the line if there was any more civil (i.e. religious) unrest.

    Apparently Pilate's personal opinion was that Jesus was no great threat to anybody (except possibly himself), but he wasn't going to terminate his own career by holding out against the local theocracy - and he certainly had a good motive for not making a full report of the matter to his boss, if he could avoid it!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?