Josephus (c37-100 AD)
Please note: The following article is from one of the Internet sites that clarify the disputation in regard to the Josephus’ historical recording about Jesus Christ. Please read carefully and I hope this article settles the matter regarding the Josephus’ assertion that Jesus existed a “flesh and blood” historical man in the first century.
Flavius Josephus is a highly respected and much-quoted Romano-Jewish historian.
The early Christians were zealous readers of his work.
A native of Judea, living in the 1st century AD, Josephus was actually governor of Galilee for a time (prior to the war of 70 AD) – the very province in which Jesus allegedly did his wonders.
Though not born until 37 AD and therefore not a contemporary witness to any Jesus-character, Josephus at one point even lived in Cana, the very city in which Christ is said to have wrought his first miracle.
Josephus’s two major tomes are History of The Jewish War and The Antiquities of the Jews.
In these complementary works, the former written in the 70s, the latter in the 90s AD, Josephus mentions every noted personage of Palestine and describes every important event which occurred there during the first seventy years of the Christian era.
At face value, Josephus appears to be the answer to the Christian apologist’s dreams.
In a single paragraph (the so-called Testimonium Flavianum) Josephus confirms every salient aspect of the Christ-myth:1. Jesus’s existence 2. His ‘more than human’ status 3. His miracle working 4. His teaching 5. His ministry among the Jews and the Gentiles 6. His Messiahship 7. His condemnation by the Jewish priests 8. his sentence by Pilate 9. His death on the cross 10. The devotion of his followers 11. His resurrection on the 3rd day 12. His post-death appearance 13. His fulfillment of divine prophesy 14. The successful continuance of the Christians.
In just 127 words Josephus confirms everything – now that is a miracle!
BUT WAIT A MINUTE ...
Not a single writer before the 4th century – not Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, etc. – in all their defenses against pagan hostility makes a single reference to Josephus’ wondrous words.
The third century Church ‘Father’ Origen, for example, spent half his life and a quarter of a million words contending against the pagan writer Celsus.
Origen drew on all sorts of proofs and witnesses to his arguments in his fierce defense of Christianity.
He quotes from Josephus extensively. Yet even he makes no reference to this ‘golden paragraph’ from Josephus, which would have been the ultimate rebuttal.
In fact, Origen actually said that Josephus was “not believing in Jesus as the Christ.”Origen did not quote the ‘golden paragraph’ because this paragraph had not yet been written.
It was absent from early copies of the works of Josephus and did not appear in Origen’s third century version of Josephus, referenced in his Contra Celsum.
Consider, also, the anomalies:1. How could Josephus claim that Jesus had been the answer to his messianic hopes yet remain an orthodox Jew?
The absurdity forces some apologists to make the ridiculous claim that Josephus was a closet Christian!
2. If Josephus really thought Jesus had been ‘the Christ’ surely he would have added more about him than one paragraph, a casual aside in someone else’s (Pilate’s) story?
In fact, Josephus relates much more about John the Baptist than about Jesus!
He also reports in great detail the antics of other self-proclaimed messiahs, including Judas of Galilee, Theudas the Magician, and the unnamed ‘Egyptian Jew’ messiah.
It is striking that though Josephus confirms everything the Christians could wish for, he adds nothing not in the gospel narratives, nothing that would have been unknown by Christians already.
3. The passage is out of context.
Book 18 starts with the Roman taxation under Cyrenius in 6 AD, talks about various Jewish sects at the time, including the Essenes, and a sect of Judas the Galilean.
He discusses Herod’s building of various cities, the succession of priests and procurators, and so on.
Chapter 3 starts with a sedition against Pilate who planned to slaughter all the Jews but changed his mind.
Pilate then used sacred money to supply water to Jerusalem, and the Jews protested.
Pilate sent spies among the Jews with concealed weapons, and there was a great massacre. Then comes the paragraph about Jesus, and immediately after it, Josephus continues:‘And about the same time another terrible misfortune confounded the Jews ...’
Josephus, an orthodox Jew, would not have thought the Christian story to be ‘another terrible misfortune.’
It is only a Christian who would have considered this to be a Jewish tragedy.
Paragraph 3 can be lifted out of the text with no damage to the chapter.
It flows better without it.
Outside of this tiny paragraph, in all of Josephus’s voluminous works, there is not a single reference to Christianity anywhere.
4. The phrase ‘to this day’ confirms that this is a later interpolation.
There was no ‘tribe of Christians’ during Josephus’s time. Christianity did not get off the ground until the second century.
5. The hyperbolic language is uncharacteristic of the historian:’... as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.
”This is the stuff of Christian propaganda.
In fact, the Josephus paragraph about Jesus does not appear until the beginning of the fourth century, at the time of Constantine.
Bishop Eusebius, that great Church propagandist and self-confessed liar-for-god, was the first person known to have quoted this paragraph of Josephus, about the year 340 AD.
This was after the Christians had become the custodians of religious correctness.
Whole libraries of antiquity were torched by the Christians.
Yet unlike the works of his Jewish contemporaries, the histories of Josephus survived.
They survived because the Christian censors had a use for them.
They planted evidence on Josephus, turning the leading Jewish historian of his day into a witness for Jesus Christ !
Finding no references to Jesus anywhere in Josephus’s genuine work, they interpolated a brief but all-embracing reference based purely on Christian belief.
Do we need to look any further to identify Eusebius himself as the forger?
Sanctioned by the imperial propagandist every Christian commentator for the next thirteen centuries accepted unquestioningly the entire Testimonium Flavianum, along with its declaration that Jesus “was the Messiah.”