Historical Jesus III:Josephus page 2; scholars support Josephus two passages; Sholmo Pines Arabic Text.


The Religious A priori


Historical Jesus





III.A.Josephus (page 2)
I.Major arguments against accepting the TF.

A.The Link to Eusebius.

Eusebius was the earlist commentator to quote the TF. That introduces the Skeptic to many problems with Eusebius. These problems include the allegation (although false) that Eusebius said that pious fraud is acceptable, and that he invented much of his historical evidence such as the Bishop's lists. This in itself is proof enough for most skeptics who reject the TF that Eusebius made it up.Since the eariliest quotation of it comes from Eusebius, some skeptics make an argument from sign and contend that this is proof enough that he invented the TF.

B.The Christian Phrasing.

The passage is peppered with statments and phrases that are obviously Christian. The use of the phrase "on the third day" to describe the resurrection is practically a signature that says "by a christian." The Phrases such as "if it be lawful to call him a man, for the he was the Messiah," are clear evidence of Christian tampering.This phrasing seems to have some similarity with Luke, thus leading to a major argument that the forger barrowed his phrasology from the Gospel of Luke.

See bottom of page one for proof that this paraell with Luke is actually strong evidence against forgery, not for it.


C.The suppossedly awkward position of passage.

Critics claim that the passage seems to be a digression into the life of Christ and doesn't flow from the larger context of the work.

II.Answers:

A.On Eusebuis' Credibility.

1)Other MS testify to credibility.

It is crucial to note that we have other readings that have the same core information about Jesus but lack the same emminadations, because this proves that Eusbius didn't make up the core information about Jesus. It also proves that previous readings existed which lacked the emmindations but which did not lack the mention of Jesus. That builds the probability that Jospehus really did mention Jesus. That probality is very high.

In other words, since we know of other Ms with different emmendations, we know that there is no real reason to pretend that Eusebius made up the passage. The passage was known in Eusebius' form: J.B. Lightfoot, Eusebius of Caesarea, (article. pp.308-348), Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature, Sects and Doctrines, ed. by William Smith and Henry Wace, Volume II (EABA-HERMOCRATES). This excerpt pp.324-5.

This treatment may be regarded as too great a sacrifice to edification. It may discredit his conception of history; but it leaves no imputation on his honesty. Nor again can the special charges against his honour as a narrator be sustained. There is no ground whatever for the surmise that Eusebius forged or interpolated the passage from Josephus relating to our Lord quoted in H. E. i 11, though Heinichen (iii. p. 623 sq., Melet. ii.) is disposed to entertain the charge. Inasmuch as this passage is contained in all our extant MSS, and there is sufficient evidence that other interpolations (though not this) were introduced into the text of Josephus long before his time (see Orig. c. Cels. i. 47, Delarue’s note), no suspicion can justly. attach to Eusebius himself. Another interpolation in the Jewish historian, which he quotes elsewhere (ii. 23), was certainly known to Origen (l. c.). Doubtless also the omission of the owl in the account of Herod Agrippa’s death (H. E. ii. 10) was already in some texts of Josephus (Ant. xix. 8, 2).

Lightfoot was, of course, one of the true greats of chruch historiography and Biblical scholarship.

Steve Mason discusses the two references to Jesus in Josephus' writings in his book "Josephus and the New Testament":

alternate versions (Agapius, Pseudo-Hegesipus, Michael the Syrian):

"Finally, the existence of alternative versions of the testimonium has encouraged many scholars to think that Josephus must have written something close to what we find in them, which was later edited by Christian hands. if the laudatory version in Eusebius and our text of Josephus were the free creation of Christian scribes, who then created the more restrained versions found in Jerome, Agapius, and Michael?" (page 172)

And:
"Nevertheless, since most of those who know the evidence agree that he said something about Jesus, one is probably entitled to cite him as independent evidence that Jesus actually lived, if such evidence were needed. (page 174 ff).

Prof. Louis Feldmann, in his book Josephus and Modern Scholarship, noted that between 1937 to 1980, of 52 scholars reviewing the subject, 39 found portions of the Testimonium Flavianum to be authentic - 10 scholars regarded the Testimonium Flavianum as entirely or mostly genuine, 20 accept it with some interpolations, 9 with several interpolations, and 13 regard it as being totally an interpolation. (See Christopher Price, A Thorough Review of the Testimonium Flavianum; Peter Kirby, Testimonium Flavianum)

So, according Feldman, the vast majority of scholars (75 %) favor partial authenticity of the Testimonium. Some scholars who accepts that Josephus wrote something about Jesus: Lane Fox, Michael Grant, Crossan, Borg, Meier, Tabor, Thiessen, Frederiksen, Flusser, Charlesworth, Paul Winter, Feldman, Mason...

Finally, many commentators who regards TF as entirely interpolation, do accept smaller passage (eg. Per Bilde, Hans Colzelmann).

(Mason, Feldman, Colzelmann quotes contributed by researcher Nehemias CADRE blog 8/18/2008 02:16:00 PM)


a) Jerome's Reading.

St. Jerome quoted from the TF as saying "he was believed to bethe Messiah," rather than "he was the Messiah." This has led many scholars to believe that Jerome knew of another, perhaps older version of the TF that read differently and lacked the "tweeked" parts of the passage.

b)The Arabic Text.

A Jewish scholar named Sholmo Poines foudn an Arabic Text that reads differently then does the recieved version of the TF.

Josephus'Testimony to Jesus
James D. Tabor
(Testimonium Flavianum) Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64

Tabor: "Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:"

"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders."

c) Syriac text.

Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

The TF controversy from antiquity to present

In the second major twentieth century controversy over the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum, the erudite Near Eastern studies scholar, Shlomo Pines, tried to argue that the paraphrase of the Testimonium that appears in a Christian Arabic chronicle dating from the tenth century might be more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium. 21 Reaction to Pines' thesis was mixed, but the most important piece of evidence that Pines' scholarship on Christian Semitic sources brought to light was not the Arabic paraphrase of the Testimonium that he proposed was more authentic than the textus receptus, but the literal Syriac translation of the Testimonium that is quoted in a twelfth century chronicle compiled by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch (1166-1199). 22 It is this version of the Testimonium, not the Arabic paraphrase of it, that has the greatest likelihood of being, at least in some ways, more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium because, as noted earlier, this version of the text agrees with Jerome's Latin version of the text in the same crucial regard. The medieval Syriac Testimonium that Pines uncovered is very strong evidence for what many scholars had argued since birth of the controversy over the text in the Renaissance, namely that Jerome did not alter the Testimonium Flavianum to read "he was believed to be the Christ" but rather that he in fact knew the original version of the Testimonium, which he probably found in Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica , which read "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ."

(2) No Textaul evidence

No textual evidence supports the charge that Origin or Eusbius made up the passage.

a) All copies we have contain the quote.

If it had been forged we should have some copies that don't contian it.

New Advent Encyplopidia:
"all codices or manuscripts of Josephus's work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way."


b) Passage known prior to Eusebius

Nor is it ture that our first indication of the existence of the Passage begins with Eusebuis:

Again, the same conclusion follows from the fact that Origen knew a Josephan text about Jesus, but was not acquainted with our present reading; for, according to the great Alexandrian doctor, Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Messias ("In Matth.", xiii, 55; "Contra Cels.", I, 47).


c)Silence of Early writters is explianed

Second, it is true that neither Tertullian nor St. Justin makes use of Josephus's passage concerning Jesus; but this silence is probably due to the contempt with which the contemporary Jews regarded Josephus, and to the relatively little authority he had among the Roman readers. Writers of the age of Tertullian and Justin could appeal to living witnesses of the Apostolic tradition. (Ibid)



3)Eusebius careful with sources.

Lightfoot, again:

The manner in which Eusebius deals with his very numerous quotations elsewhere, where we can test his honesty, is a sufficient vindication against this unjust charge.1Moreover, Eusebius is generally careful not only to collect the best evidence accessible, but also to distinguish between different kinds of evidence. “Almost every page witnesses to the zeal with which he collected testimonies from writers who lived at the time of the events which he describes. For the sixth and seventh books he evidently rejoices to be able to use for the foundation of his narrative the contemporary letters of Dionysius; ‘Dionysius, our great bishop of Alexandria,’ he writes, ‘will again help me by his own words in the composition of my seventh book of the history, since he relates in order the events of his own time in the letters which he has left’ (vii. praef.) . . . In accordance with this instinctive desire for original testimony, Eusebius scrupulously distinguishes facts which rest on documentary from those which rest on oral evidence. Some things he relates on the authority of a ‘general’ (iii. 11, 36) or ‘old report’ (iii. 19, 20) or from tradition (i. 7, . 9, vi. 2, &c.).


3)Admits when he can't fill in gaps

Lightfoot agin:

"In the lists of successions he is careful to notice where written records failed him. ‘I could not,’ he says, ‘ by any means find the chronology of the bishops of Jerusalem preserved in writing; thus much only I received from written sources, that there were fifteen bishops in succession up to the date of the siege under Hadrian, &c.’ (iv. 5).” [W.] “There is nothing like hearing the actual words” of the writer, he says again and again (i. 23, iii. 32, vii. 23; comp. iv. 23), when introducing a quotation."(Lightfoot,Ibid.)

If Eusebius really believed that pious fruad was acceptable, why did he bother to admit when he couldn't fill in a gap? Why didn't he just make up the information? If he made up Bishop lists on other occasions, why not this time?

4)Pious Fraud Quotation Itself a fraud

Roger Pearse, an experienced amature scholar demonstarates that this rumor about Eusebius goes back to a quotation by Gibbon, and Eusebuis never said anything like it:

"Some very odd statements are in circulation about Eusebius Pampilus the Historian. Recently someone quoted one of them at me, as a put-down. I had the opportunity to check the statements fairly easily, and the results are interesting, if discouraging for those looking for data on the internet. Since then I have come across other variants, and added these also.

Note that the Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

*'I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion'

*'It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment.'"

Roger goes on in a long page to disect and disprove this whole thesis, and to show that it was the 18th century historian Gibbon who said this about Eusebius, and not Eusebius himself.

Next: Page 3 THIS Argument; Josephus 3
Next argument: III.B. Tacitus



The Religious A priori