Abstract: The authenticity of Josephus’ Testimony of Christ has been questioned since the 1600s. After presenting eleven arguments why it should be accepted as authentic, the context in which the Testimonium is present is evaluated to reveal Josephus’ purpose is to attack Christianity through his rhetorical style and use of sarcasm.

Josephus, the famous Jewish first century historian, was born in A.D 37. He states in his autobiography, “The family from which I derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from priests… from the first of the twenty-four course… by my mother I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asmoneus, from who my family was derived, had both the office of the high priest and the dignity of a king for a long time together.”(Jos. Life. 1.1)1)Josephus, Life of Flavius Josephus, Chapt. 1, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 1 Michael Licona notes, “This places Josephus geographically and chronologically in a position where he would have heard about Jesus from the church at its inception…. Since his father was a priest, the Christian gospel would likely have been a topic discussed around his family dinner table.”2)Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, IVP Academic (Downers Grove, IL: 2010), p. 235 Indeed, Josephus was very curious about the religious scene of Jerusalem in the first century as he records of his early years, “Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law. And when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trim of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three: – The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that Sadducees, and the third that of the Essens, as we have frequently told you; for I thought that by this means I might choose the best, if I were once acquainted with them all; so I contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great difficulties, and went through them all.”(Jos. Life. 1.2)3) Josephus, Life of Flavius Josephus, Chapt. 1, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 1 He dedicated 3 years of his later teenage life, presumably one year with each of these three Jewish sects, inorder to determine his faith. “So when I had accomplished my desires, I returned back to the city, being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees…”(Jos. Life. 1.2)4) Josephus, Life of Flavius Josephus, Chapt. 1, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 1

The passage we are inquiring of—famously known as the Testimonium Flavianum—has produced massive discussions among scholars, some who defend it as authentic and those who deny its authenticity or take some middle ground on the topic. As it stands today it states:

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.(Jos. Ant. 18.63-64)5) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 3; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379[note: I will be using the numbering system that is common today for easy reference as it is available on the internet, but in the footnotes I will provide the older system of numbering “book, chapter, paragraph” along with the page number of the edition I am using]

Very few have outright denied the passage entirely. Atheist Gordon Stein, who denies it completely, stated, “the passage comes in the middle of a collection of stories about calamities which have befallen the Jews.”6)Gordon Stein, “The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell,” The Free Thought Association (Culver City, CA: 1984),p. 2 To deny the passage as a forgery in its entirety is erroneous for a number of reasons.

First, this is an unbelievable claim for anyone who has actually read the text. This chapter of Josephus has five paragraphs, the Testimonium is in paragraph 3, the fourth paragraph is the longest and takes up approximately half the chapter containing an account of a virtuous woman being seduced in the Temple of Isis in Rome. Josephus writes as the second sentence of this paragraph to introduce this account, “I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs.”(Jos Ant. 18.65)7) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 4; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379 He then closes the paragraph, saying, “I not return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome, as I formerly told you I would” (Jos. Ant. 18.65).8) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 4; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 380 To say that the Testamonium is out of context is completely ignoring the context that is immediately following the Testamonium which is out of context.

Secondly, the grammar of the passage in its entirety is inconsistent with any known Christian author of antiquity. Nowhere do we find in Christian literature any sense of calling themselves a “tribe [φῦλον] of Christians.” However, Josephus uses the word, not only for the tribes of Israel, but also for “a tribe of locus” (Jos. Ant. 2.304);9)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 2, chap. 14, para. 4; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 61 “the Menenian tribe, … the Lemonian tribe, … the Terentine tribe, … the Sergian tribe, … the Lemonian tribe, … the Papyrian tribe, … the Mecian tribe” (Jos. Ant. 14.219);10) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 14, chap. 10, para. 10; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 300 Herodotus can use the word for a body of troops in the Athenian army (Hdt. Hist. 6.111).11)Herodotus, The Histories (Trans. George Rawlinson), Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY: 1997), p. 491 “In the Egypt priesthood we find φυλαι as division of ministry or classes performing their ministry in turn.”12)Christin Maurer, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Ed. Gerhard Friedrich, Trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiler), WM B.Eerdmans Publishing Company (Grand Rapids, MI: 1974), Vol. 9, p. 246 There is no premise for Christians interpolating such a phrase. Other problems would include calling Christ “a wise man” which would not be typical for Christian scribes but Josephus uses the phrase frequently (Jos. Ant. 1.166; 1.213; 7.162; 8.53; 9.18; 10.229; 13.109; 18.63; 19.167; 19.201; 20.259). Calling Christ “a doer of wonderful works” παραδόξων ἔργων (παραδόξων “contrary to opinion or expectation, strange, wonderful, remarkable.”13) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Second Edition (ed. Walter Bauer and trans. Wm. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and F. Danker, University of Chicago Press  (Chicago, IL: 1979), p. 615 ) is not a common expression for Christians to claim miracles to the Lord. Luke employs it once (Luke 5:26). Clement of Rome uses the word to indicate “that wonderful sign… a certain bird which is called a phoenix”14)Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement, Chap. 25; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 1, p. 12 Obviously not in context to miracles of Christ. Josephus, however, uses it frequently (Jos. Ant. 2.91, 223, 285, 295, 345, 347; 3. 1, 30, 38; 5. 28, 125; 6. 171, 290; 9.14, 58, 60, 182; 10.21, 214, 235, 266; 15.379; Jos. Ag. Ap. 2.114). Josephus uses the word to reference the miracles of Elijah: “He also performed wonderful and surprising works” (Jos. Ant. 9.182),15) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 9, chap. 8, para. 6; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 206 as well as describing a table “a just notion of what was new and surprising” (Jos. Ant.12.63)16) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 12, chap. 2, para. 8; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 248

One would expect Christian interpolation to use the word “signs” or “wonders.”17)Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, IVP Academic (Downer Grove, IL: 2010), p.282

Thirdly, John Dominic Crosan who is no friendly voice attempting to defend the authenticity of this passage of Josephus, says, “The Jewish witness is the description of Jesus in Flavius Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities 18:63, which seems to be presumed before and by the passing mention in 20:200.”18)John Dominic Crosan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 1992), p. 372 The second passage Crosan mentions reads:

But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned…(Jos. Ant. 20.200)19) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 20, chap. 9, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 423

Obviously, this passage presupposes the former discussion of Christ has been mentioned. Furthermore, Origen referenced these two passages together around A.D. 245, which from his comment we see the purpose for Josephus earlier passage of Jesus (Jos. Ant. 18.63) is mentioned in context of calamities because it foresees this later passage (Jos. Ant. 20.200) that expresses the reason for the calamity of the Jewish Temple being destroyed.

And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James.20)Origen, Commentary of Mathew, Book 10, chapt. 17; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, (edited by Allan Menzies.), Henrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusettes: 1896, 2012), Vol. 9, p. 424

Another portion of Origen’s writings similarly states:

For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless — being, although against his will, not far from the truth— that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ), — the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice.21)Origen, Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapt. 47; The Ante-Nicene Fathers (edited by Alexander Roberts, D.D., & James Donaldson, LL.D.), Henrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusettes: 1896, 2012), Vol. 4, p. 416

As we see here, Origen makes comments alluding to both passages from Josephus that mention Christ. There is absolutely no justifiable reasons to omit the Testamonium altogether.

The majority view of scholars is not to reject the Testamonium altogether, but to consider it as having undergone an interpolation by a Christian scribe at some later date. An example of this view is presented by the popular apologist Lee Strobel in his The Case for Christ in which he records his interview with Dr. Edwin Yamauchi. Yamauchi is records as saying:

But today there’s a remarkable consensus among both Jewish and Christian scholars that the passage as a whole is authentic, although there may be some interpolations…. That means early Christian copyists inserted some phrases that a Jewish writer like Josephus would not have written… For instance, the first line says, ‘About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man.’ That phrase is not normally used of Jesus by Christians, so it seems authentic for Josephus. But the next phrase says, ‘if indeed one ought to call him a man.’ This implies Jesus was more than human, which appears to be an interpolation…. But then there’s this unambiguous statement, ‘He was the Christ.’ That seems to be an interpolation… Its seems unlikely Josephus would have flatly said Jesus was the Messiah here, when elsewhere he merely said he was considered to be the Messiah by his followers.22)Edwin Yamauchi interviewed by Lee Strobel in Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapid, MI: 2000), p. 104-105

In response to this position, we should first ask ourselves, “would a Christian scribe purposely interpolate this passage of Josephus?” Anyone who has read early Christian writings would know that much expressions of a higher holiness and near perfectionist pronouncements were commonly made among Christian authors. This fact immediately causes one to be suspicious of the charge of interpolation. Perhaps a Gnostic or other apostate could have done it but then we would not see conformity with orthodox doctrine such as “if it be lawful to call him a man” implying deity. A Gnostic interpolation would likely express doceticism and deny calling Christ a man.

Secondly, the argument presented is: “if the passage, as we have it today, was originally in Josephus, then Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian or Origen would have quoted it, for its apologetic value is tremendous.”23)Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus, Thomas Nelson Publishers (Nashville, TN: 1993), p. 42 However, none of these early Christian apologist quote the Testimonium. But as we saw above, Origen does allude to it without quoting it. In fact, he alludes to both passages of Josephus mentioning Christ, but he quoted neither one. If the lack of a direct quote is an argument against the Testimonium, then why is the other passage not questioned? Note that this essentially is an argument from silence, which could be equally argued against by saying a lot of the early Christian writings no longer exist and there is more writings that are missing than extant today. Any of these lost writings could have possessed a direct quote. Scholars familiar with ancient literature are well aware of the fact that the ancient authors did not always cite their sources verbatim. Craig Keener, who has been described as having an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient literature, writes: “That ancient historians, biographers, and anthologists depended on earlier sources is not in question; both biblical and Greco-Roman traditions frequently cite them. (Other means of detecting them, such as different textures within a narrative, are usually less dependable.) They often cite varying accounts, even when preferring one over another.”24)Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 170-171 he adds in a footnote, “Quadrigarius, especially where the latter’s account varies from Livy’s (Forsythe, “Quadrigarius,” 391)—and hence may follow him at times without citing him.”25) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 171 He further mentions “Tacitus, who, naturally, does not need to cite many sources on his father-in-law, Agricola. …even Livy can mention that there are many while citing only one (Livy 42.11.1).”26) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 172 “Pliny the Elder, explaining that he could not survey everything (N.H. pref. 18), notes that he surveyed about two thousand volumes (though using especially a hundred) and supplemented them with other data (pref. 17).”27) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 172-173 adding in a later footnote about Tacitus “though they did not always cite them…”28) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 173 Actual quotations in ancient literature was not used as it is today and should not be assumed to meet the same expected criteria as modern authors. Often authors were paraphrased as cited from memory, or simply alluded to without credit given, as long as the core meaning was relayed.

That is, the ideal was to capture the gist…. Gist was not objectionable; ancients relied on their memory to retrieve and arrange information because the standard for accuracy was the “gist.”29) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 277

Thirdly, Origen seems to stress the thought that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ. By doing this it appears he had both passages as they stand today and is attempting to reconcile them. One passages say “He was the Christ” (Jos. Ant. 18.3.3) and the other says “Jesus, who was called the Christ” (Jos Ant. 20.9.1). Clearly Josephus acknowledged himself as a Pharisee so Origen stressed that Josephus was not a Christian. This was not uncommon in ancient literature. Keener states,

Sometimes Josephus apparently “corrects” or adjusts biblical accounts on the basis of other biblical passages.30) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 189

Another early Christian author Hegesippus was well acquainted with Josephus. “Hegesippus produced a free translation of the Jewish War, De bello iudaico, around 370, rewriting Josephus from the traditional Christian perspective emphasizing the depravity of the ‘Jews’.”31)Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 3 Hegesippus states in his prologue: “the excellent narrator Josephus (covers) with his historical pen, would that he had been attentive to religion and truth as to tracking down events and the staidness of speeches.” (Hegesippus 1.1)32) Ps.Hegesippus, translated from Latin into English (2005). Translated by Wade Blocker; http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/hegesippus_01_book1.htm Botha explains this passage “Josephus’ lack of attention ‘to truth’ refers to Josephus being a Jew and not converting to Christianity.”33) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 3  Ancient Christians did not think Josephus was a Christian and wanted to make sure everyone else knew that as well. Why would they press the issue unless there seemed to be a contradiction in the text they read also?

Fourth, Origen’s commentary on Matthew was written in A.D. 245 and his Against Celsus was written in A.D. 248 while he “left Alexandria for Caesarea in A.D. 231.”34)Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Revised Edition), Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1964, 1998), p. 289 This presents the possibility that Origen’s excess to a Josephus text was corrupted by the Jews as Origen mentions comparing the Hebrew manuscripts he excessed from the Jews with the Greek Septuagint, stating, “we have been at pains to learn from the Hebrews, comparing our own copies with theirs which have the confirmation of the versions…”35)Origen, Origen’s Commentary on John, book 6, chap. 24; The Ante-Nicene Father, (ed. Allen Menzies, D.D.), Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1896, Fifth Printing, 2012) Vol. 9, p. 371 Thus it is very possible Origen read a copy of Josephus that was corrupted by a Jewish scribe. Since we are well aware of the historical polemic from Jews against Christians would indicate this more likely; an argument from silence would allow this as possible. However, Eusebius, who is the first extant author to give us the quotation from Josephus’ Testimonium is likely quoting it exactly as Origen was familiar with it. Philip Schaff explains why Eusebius’ citation is likely exactly as Origen read it, since Eusebius was “under the influence of the works of Origen. He formed an intimate friendship with the learned presbyter Pamphilus, who had collected a considerable biblical and patristic library, and conducted a flourishing theological school which he had founded at Caesarea, till in 309 he died a martyr in the persecution under Diocletian. Eusebius taught for a long time in this school…”36)Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 2011), Vol. 3, p. 872-873

Fifth, the Christian apologists who referenced Josephus had never needed to argue along the lines of Jesus being a historical figure the way modern apologists have to. Jesus was historically recognized as a true figure and never questioned by the ancient world. The popularity of the quotation of the Testamonium today is relevant to the “historical Jesus” issue, which is only of recent history. “In1906 under the title Von Reimarus zu Wrede, Albert Schweitzer published an analysis of the works of whole series of Welielm Wrede (1859-1906). This was translated by W. Montgomery as The Quest of the Historical Jesus, providing the name by which the search in question has been best known ever since.”37)Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Revised Edition, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1964, 1998), p. 271 This “historical Jesus” studies was popularized by Rudolf Bultmann who claimed the New Testament’s depiction of Jesus had to be demythologized to discover who the historical Jesus was. This type of skepticism of questioning if Jesus was even a real person is of a relatively recent development. If there was no necessity to argue along these lines in the ancient world then why would we expect the ancient apologists to cite the passage?

Sixth, the Ante-Nicene Fathers who mention Josephus do so for other purposes than for an apologetic for Christ. Justin Martyr’s reference to Josephus was in his address to the Greeks in which his mention was in context as an apologetic for Moses. He states, “These things, ye men of Greece, have been recorded in writing concerning the antiquity of Moses… the wisest of the historians relate, who have chosen to record his life and actions, and the rank of his descent,–I speak of Philo and Josephus.”38)Justin Martyr, “Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks,” chapt. 10; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 1, p. 277 Justin again mentions Josephus and Philo in this same context to defend “That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews…”39) Justin Martyr, “Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks,” chapt. 10; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 1, p. 279 The common argument of the day was to prove something as authoritative by proclaiming its antiquity. Josephus argued this line of rhetoric for the Jewish faith while Christians utilized his argument attached to the Christian faith being the completion of the Jewish religion as Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew’s Scripture. Irenaeus reference to Josephus was in context of Moses40)Irenaeus, Fragments From the Lost Writings of Irenaeus,” 32; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 1, p. 573 Theophilus also evoke Josephus to argue for the antiquity of the Hebrew prophets as evidence of their authority over Greek writings.41)Theophilus, Theophilus to Autolycus,” chapt. 23; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 2, p. 118 Clement of Alexandria uses Josephus to express chronology, again, to prove the antiquity of Hebrew Scripture makes them higher than Greek philosophers.42)Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, book 1, chapt. 21; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 2, p. 334 Tertullian holds the same argument: “Their high antiquity, first of all, claims authority for these writings. …he [Moses] is five hundred years earlier than Homer… the Jew Josephus, the native vindicator of the ancient history of his people…”43)Tertullian, Apology, chapt. 19; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 3, p. 33 Mark Minucius Felix mentions Josephus to argue that the Jewish author admits the Jews forsook God before God forsook them.44)Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix, chapt. 33; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 4, p. 194 Origen was quoted twice above. The only other mention of Josephus by Origen is to encourage others to read “Antiquity of the Jew” because “he brings together a great collection of writers, who bear witness to the antiquity of the Jewish people…”45)Origen, Against Celsus, Book 1, chapt. 16; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 4, p. 403 Anatolius refers to Jospehus as an earlier author who set forth the time of the year when the passover was celebrated.46)Anatolius, The Paschal Canon of Anatolius or Alexandria, chapt. 3; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 2012) Vol. 6, p. 147 In all there ae 11 mentions of Josephus by Christian authors in the first three centuries of the Christian era.  Not one offers a quotation from Josephus, and outside of Origen (who does allude to the passages we are discussing), not one comments on Josephus in context that would demand this passage to come up.

Seventh, the earliest actual citation of this passage from Josephus is from Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapt. 11)47) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250101.htm and is cited as we have it today. Furthermore, his citation of Josephus is within the context in which alludes to other passages of Josephus work collaborating with the New Testament account. “Not long after this John the Baptist was beheaded by the younger Herod, as is stated in the Gospels. Josephus also records the same fact, making mention of Herodias by name… The same Josephus confesses in this account that John the Baptist was an exceedingly righteous man… He relates these things in the eighteenth book of the Antiquities…After relating these things concerning John, he makes mention of our Saviour in the same work… Since an historian, who is one of the Hebrews themselves, has recorded in his work these things concerning John the Baptist and our Saviour, what excuse is there left for not convicting them of being destitute of all shame, who have forged the acts against them?” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Chapt. 11)48)http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250101.htm Eusibius’ quotes connects Josephus’ “Antiquity of the Jews” book 18 with John the Baptists and Jesus the Christ showing parallel in thought of Origen’s quotation above. Within these four references to Josephus’ writings, only two quotations of Josephus are offered (Jos. Ant. 18.63; 18.116). Eusebius died in 340 so those who read his works could have crossed referenced it with Josephus to see whether this was accurately quoted. There is not one extant statement from any author expressing doubt in the authenticity of Josephus Testimonium being authentic or Eusebius’ quotation of him being accurate. Both have been “considered genuine down to the 16th century, but has been disputed ever since.”49)Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 2011), Vol. 1, p. 92

Eighth, all Greek and Latin manuscript contain this passage as it stands. The earliest Greek text appear to be from the eleventh century but the numerous Latin Manuscripts date back to the sixth century. As mentioned above, it is quoted by Eusebius in the fourth century. There is only one exception to the universal agreement among manuscripts, a tenth century Arabic text preserved in the Kitab al’Unwan or Book of Title, a history of the world written by Agapius, Melkite bishop of Phrygian Hierapolis in Asia Minor. This text reads:

Similarly Josephus [Yusifus] the Hebrew. For he says in the treaties that he has written on the governance [?] of the Jews: “At this time there was a wise man called Jesus. His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous [or: his learning/knowledge was outstanding]. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”[as cited by John Dominic Crosan, his bold and emphasis]50) John Dominic Crosan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 1992), p. 373

Crosan suggests “we have here the original and uninterpolated text of Josephus.”51) John Dominic Crosan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 1992), p. 374 The problem with such a thought is that usually, textual critical methods place preeminence on the texts of the original language (Greek in this case) or oldest manuscripts (such as the Latin texts), especially when the oldest texts and original languages can be verified by early citations such as from Eusebius. John Meier commented on this Arabic text, saying, “I am doubtful that this 10th-century Arabic manuscript preserved the original form of the Testimonium, especially since it contains sentences that.. are probably later expansions or variants of the text.”52)John P. Meier, “Jesus in Josephus: A Modest Proposal,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 52, p. 89 Shlomo Pines of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, drew attention to this text in 1971. Offering the two options of whether the Arabic text underwent censorship or none at all, concluded, “The first hypothesis seems to me to be the more probable one, but for no very conclusive reason. At the moment this is anybody’s guess.”53)Shlomo Pines, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its Implications, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Jerusalem: 1971), p. 70 Thus accepting this text is subjective, based on what one would presuppose the text should say; not objective, considering criteria establishing stronger validity that would argue against it. This Arabic text definitely seems corrupted as not following Josephus style where it varies. A second explanation could be that this text is derived from the speculatively suggested text of Josephus that Origen may have seen in the hands of the Jews. It seems that Origen would have seen the text as we know it based on Eusebius’ citation of it, but an argument from silence can go either way.

Ninth, the second time Josephus mention Christ the passage appears in all of the Greek manuscripts “without any notable variation.”54)John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Doubleday (New York, NY: 1991), Vol. 1, p. 57 It reads as follows: “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stone…” (Jos. Ant. 20.200)55) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 20, chap. 9, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 423 Eusebius quotes the passage as is (Ecclesiastical History 2.23.22), which further supports Eusebius accurately citing the Testimonium. Josephus incriminates the Jews for the illegal procedure of stoning James lending authenticity fitting the context of Ananus’s removal from his office. Calling James “the brother of Jesus” is not the Christian expression as they wrote about Christ with more reverence. Hyppolytus (170-236) spoke of “James the Lord’s brother”;56) Hyppolytus, On the Seventy Apostles; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 2012), Vol. 5, p. 255 The Constitution of the Holy Apostles refers to “James the bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord”;57) The Constitution of the Holy Apostles, Book VII, Chap. IV; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 2012), Vol. 7, p. 477 “James, the brother of Christ”.58) The Constitution of the Holy Apostles, Book VIII, Chap. XXXV; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 2012), Vol. 7, p. 496 If a Christian scribe had tampered with the other passage, why would this passage go unscathed? No ancient Christian author has ever referred to James as the brother of Jesus, but rather Christ or the Lord. David Aune, assuming Josephus Testimonium was a Christian interpolation around 300 A.D., says, “Given the transmission history, it is striking that more Christian interpolations were not made.”59) David Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, Westminster John Know Press (Louisville, Kentuky: 2003), p. 252

Tenth, the suspicion of whether Josephus would write something that seems to imply Christ deity is due to ignorance of ancient writers or considering their writing in a holistic conception. For example, those who doubt Josephus would write “if it be lawful to call him a man” (Jos. Ant. 18.63) are doubting it because they ask is this what the author would have wrote compared to considering that the author himself would have in mind what to write for his audience. Josephus writes “declaring, before we proceed, that we have nothing so much at heart as this, that we may omit no facts, either through ignorance or laziness; for we are upon the history and explication of such things as the greatest part are unacquainted withal, because of their distance from our times; and we aim to do it with a proper beauty of style, so far as that is derived from proper words harmonically disposed, and from such ornaments of speech also as may contribute to the pleasure of our readers, that they may entertain the knowledge of what we write with some agreeable satisfaction and pleasure. But the principal scope that authors ought to aim at above all the rest, is to speak accurately, and to speak truly, for the satisfaction of those that are otherwise unacquainted with such transactions, and obliged to believe what these writers inform them of.” (Jos. Ant. 14.1-3)60) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, book 14, chapt. 1, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 289 Clearly, he had his readers entertainment in mind when he wrote with the intentions to educate them in historical event he assumed they were not acquainted with. The proper question to ask is whether Josephus would think his readers would be pleased to see him imply deity to a man. Josephus was writing, not to Jews who considered him a Hellenistic traitor of the nation, but to the elite class of people in the Greek culture. “I have been obliged to set down these decree because the present history of our own acts will go generally among the Greeks…” (Jos. Ant. 16.174)61)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, book 16, chapt. 6, para. 8; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p.345 Josephus was also well aware of the fact that there were Christians within his intended audience (Acts 13:1, Luke 8:3); as well as the fact that the Greeks often deified men (Acts 14:11-18; Acts 12:20-23 cf. Jos. Ant. 19.342-352;62)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, book 19, chapt. 8, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 412-413 Rev. 13:4). Robin Lane Fox wrote of the Roman culture’s view of gods appearing to men in visions, stated, “These beliefs were not the strange fancies of a small minority. They were sensitive to the entire social and political climate and could lead to solid, persistent practice.”63)Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, NY: 1987), p. 122 He reiterated this thought by stating, “That God could visit man was the least novel feature of Christian teaching in a pagan’s eyes.”64)Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, NY: 1987), p. 141 The idea of a man being a god was also prevalent as N. T. Wright identified, “By the time of the New Testament the emperors were routinely worshipped as divine, in the eastern parts of the empire at least, during their lifetime.”65) N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Volume 3 (Christian Origin and the Question of God), Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), p. 56 Cicero notes, “Let us then imitate our Bruti, our Camilli, and Ahalae our Decii, our Curius, and Fabricius, and Maximus, our Scipios, our Lentuli, our Aemilii, and countless others, who have given liberty to this republic; all of whom I consider deserving of being ranked among the company and number of the immortal gods.” (Cicero, For Sestius, 68.143) Even the pagan Greeks would not be offended at Christ being presented as deified since this was apparently brought up by Tiberius to add Christ into the pantheon of Greek gods. Tertullian, a second century Christian apologist, who was jurisconsult before converting to Christianity, being familiar with Roman archives appealed to these records when writing to the Roman officials: “All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Cæsar, who was at the time Tiberius. Yes, and the Cæsars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Cæsars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Cæsars.”66)Tertullian, Apology, chap. XXI;  The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 3, p. 35 He claimed that Pilate became a Christian because he could not deny the evidence from the legal procedures when he condemned Christ to be crucified. He further stated, “[Emperor] Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Cæsar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians. Consult your histories; you will there find that Nero was the first who assailed with the imperial sword the Christian sect, making progress then especially at Rome. But we glory in having our condemnation hallowed by the hostility of such a wretch.”67)Tertullian, Apology, chap. V; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA, 2012) Vol. 3, p 21-22

Keeping in mind that intended audience of Josephus, his questioning “if it be lawful to call him a man,” may in fact, be alluding to the same event Tertullian mentioned (as quoted above) of the senate voting against adding Christ to the Roman pantheon. In Josephus expression, he conjures the memory of his elite readers, that their laws spurred against Christ just as the Jews who convinced Pilate to crucify Him.

Furthermore, we must ask what exactly is meant by Josephus with the phrase that seems to imply deity to Christ. In one place the expression of children of gods is used as flattery to depict beauty of individuals. Josephus writes, “when he saw Aristobulus, he stood in admiration at the tallness and handsomeness of the child, and no less at Mariarune, the king’s wife, and was open in his commendations of Alexandra, as the mother of most beautiful children…. Dellius also talked extravagantly, and said that these children seemed not derived from men, but from some god or other.” (Jos. Ant 15.25-27)68) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 15, chapt. 2, para. 6; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 315 Craig Keener speaking of phrases that sound to our modern ears to imply deification should not be forcefully interpreted by our modern opinions.

The ancient use of the phrase is too broad to delineate a specific type; it can refer to a literal “divine man,” an “inspired man,” a man somehow related to deity, and an “extraordinary man.”69) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 331

Josephus uses it with this broad meaning. “Now as to this prophet [Isaiah], he was by the confession of all, a divine and wonderful man in speaking truth; and out of the assurance that he had never written what was false, he wrote down all his prophecies, and left them behind him in books, that their accomplishment might be judged of from the events by posterity: nor did this prophet do so alone, but the others, which were twelve in number, did the same.” (Jos. Ant. 10.35)70) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 10, chapt. 2, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 214 Josephus is applying the word divine to Isaiah for his prophesying, yet prophesy is not limited to men of God in Josephus’ writings. He speaks if Balaam prophesying: “Thus did Balaam speak by inspiration, as not being in his own power, but moved to say what he did by the Divine Spirit.” (Jos. Ant. 4.118)71) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 4, chapt. 6, para. 5; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 91 Yet Balaam is set on equal ground as Isaiah by Josephus: “although this Balaam, who was sent for by the Midianites to curse the Hebrews, and when he was hindered from doing it by Divine Providence, did still suggest that advice to them, by making use of which our enemies had well nigh corrupted the whole multitude of the Hebrews with their wiles, till some of them were deeply infected with their opinions; yet did he do him great honor, by setting down his prophecies in writing…. But let every one think of these matters as he pleases.” (Jos. Ant. 4.156-159)72) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 4, chapt. 6, para. 13; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 93 Recognizing Balaam as an enemy, yet offering honor to him as a prophet on par with Isaiah—a divine man—Josephus leaves the reader with the information to think whatever they will. Josephus also mentions a couple Essens that allegedly prophesied. “But here one may take occasion to wonder at one Judas, who was of the sect of the Essens, and who never missed the truth in his predictions… foretelling things to come…” (Jos. Ant 13.310)73) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 13, chapt. 11, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 282 The second such reference to Essens prophesying suggests that many have done so. “Now there was one of these Essens, whose name was Manahem, who had this testimony, that he not only conducted his life after an excellent manner but had the foreknowledge of future events given him by God also…. We have thought it proper to relate these facts to our readers, how strange soever they be, and to declare what hath happened among us, because many of these Essens have, by their excellent virtue, been thought worthy of this knowledge of Divine revelations.” (Jos. Ant. 15.373, 379)74) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 15, chapt. 1o, para. 5; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 333-334 These passages are unique since they reveal that Josephus view of prophets was not that they were godly men (Balaam), or even followers of the Jewish sect he considered theologically accurate (Essens). He also refers to a German who prophesies to Agrippa, who “appeals” to his “own country gods”, declares “the prediction of the gods” revealing to Agrippa what he “forknow[s]”, that is “knowing beforehand” (Jos. Ant. 18.195-204);75)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 4, chapt. 6, para. 13; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p.386 which prophesy was fulfilled accurately (Jos. Ant. 18.236-237).76)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 4, chapt. 6, para. 13; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p.388 Josephus speaking of Moses, as the man who gave the Jewish nation the law from God, is called “our legislator was a divine man…” (Jos. Ant. 3.180)77) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 3, chapt. 7, para. 7; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 75 Commenting on this passage, Keener suggests,

The expression “divine man” never appears in the LXX or NT and is rare in any Jewish sources. (Josephus’s single use of the term may be roughly equivalent to “man of God”; Philo’s use is closer to a Stoic conception but is unrelated to miracles.)”78) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 333-334

This use of the term is not the only time Josephus as Keener suggests since we saw above his reference to Isaiah as “a divine and wonderful man.” Even in the Testimonium Josephus refers to the “divine prophets” (Jos. Ant. 18.64). John Gill commenting on 2 Peter 1:21 explained the phrase “holy men of God” is reference to the prophets:

such as he sanctified by his Spirit, and separated from the rest of men to such peculiar service; and whom he employed as public ministers of his word: for so this phrase “men”, or “man of God”, often signifies, 2 Samuel 2:7.79) Gill, John. “Commentary on 2 Peter 1:21”. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-peter-1.html; 1999.

Even Josephus’ Jewish background would allow a broad use of calling men “god” as such phrases are present in the Old Testament (Genesis 33:10; Exodus 7:1, 22:28; Psalm 82:6). Christ quotes Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34-35 and Peter refers to the Christians “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) showing this broad usage was still used during the first century when Josephus was writing. The Old Testament expressed man having divinely ordain authority to judge by this terminology. Early Christians made similar statements, such as Irenaeus, who writes: “how will man pass into God, unless God had first passed into man?”80)Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chap. XXXIII The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 1, p. 507 Hippolytus asked, “But if thou art desirous of becoming a god…”81)Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Book X, chap. XXIX; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 151 Cypran82)Cyprian, Treatise VI.:11;The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 468 Clement of Alexandria83)Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, chap. I; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 2, p. 174 and Novatian made similar comments, such as Christ “offering divinity” to man.84)Novatian, Treatise Concerning the Trinity, chap. XV; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 624 Christians also had divinely ordained right to judge–even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)–but understood even more in applying this terminology of deification, such as having holiness and immortality imputed to the Christian believer (either present tense judicially or future tense in glorification). Clearly these phrases from Josephus, the Bible, and Christians of the ancient world should not be interpreted within our modern interpretive grid when none of these text taught men could become gods in the same sense the pagans taught deification.

Eleventh, while some in the past had stumbled over Josephus acknowledgment of Christ being a doer of miracles, modern scholarship, even in the skeptic circles, no longer question this phrase as authentic. The earliest polemic sources attacking Christianity never rejecting the facts of Christ performing miracles, but rather called them sorcery.85)see Heath Henning, Proof Christ Preformed Miracles, March 22, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/proof-christ-performed-miracles/ Michael Licona recorded many of the recent scholars positions accepting this as historical facts.86)Michael Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: a New Historiographical Approach, IVP Academic (Downer Grove, IL: 2010), p. 281-282 Craig Keener declared, “Most scholars today thus accept the claim that Jesus was a healer and exorcist. The evidence is stronger for this claim than for most other specific historical claims that we could make about earliest Christianity; miracles characterized Jesus’s historical activity no less than his teaching and prophetic activities did…. Among non-Christian sources, the rabbis and Celsus are clear, and Vermes also argues that the miracle claim in Jos. Ant. 18.63 is authentic, on the basis of Josephus’s style.”87) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 322-323 For this purpose David Aune notes: “All of the Gospels contain defenses against  the charges that Jesus was a magician…. In Mark this surfaces in the Beezebul pericope, in which Jesus claims to be an instrument of God, not Satan ([Mark] 3:20-30); in the attribution of counterexorcisitic language to demons ([Mark] 1:23-28, 32-34; 5:1-20); in Herod’s notion that Jesus might be a necromancer ([Mark] 6:14-15). In Matthew and Luke… it appears in charges that Jesus is an “impostor,” perhaps reflecting Deut. 13:1-11; 18:20 (Matt. 27:63)…. In John this antimagical polemic is expressed when Jesus is thrice charged with having a demon ([John] 7:20; 8:48-53; 10:20f.).”88)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 56 While discussing the treatment of miraculous signs reported in ancient historians, Keener discussed the ancient authors willingness to report claims whether they personally viewed them with veracity or skepticism, stating, “we should note that the differences also usually corresponds to the expectation of the audiences for which they wrote…”89) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 348 Whether Josephus believed Christ was a doer of wonderful works is irrelevant to his presenting them to his audience. Finally, the fact that “Jewish sources continued to link miracles with many of the biblical prophets”,90) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 335 identifies why Josephus may have connected the implication of His deity with miraculous works. As discussed above, accepting Christ as a prophet would not demand Josephus to recognize Him as a godly man or orthodox theologically. Therefore, His miracles could vouch for His inspired words as “a teacher of such as receive truth with pleasure”, without forcing belief in Him as a Christian would.

With these eleven possible explanations of why the passage should not be viewed as an interpolation, anyone of or any combination of these potential explanations should cause scholars to not be hasty in regarding all extant evidence as corrupted.

Few scholars have excepted the Testimonium without an interpolation but offer a different explanation such as a mistranslation. N. T. Wright, for example, says:

I suggest that the key phrase about Jesus in Ant. 18 is neither a Christian interpolation nor a confession that Josephus believes Jesus to be the Messiah, but a way of identifying Jesus: ‘“The Christos”, of whom you have heard, was the man.’91)N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Volume 3 (Christian Origin and the Question of God), Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), p. 556

In an earlier book, Wright explains fuller:

I suspect that more of the latter passage is original to Josephus than is sometimes allowed. In particular the crucial sentence, houtos en ho Christos, normally rendered ‘he was the Christ’, and therefore regarded as clear evidence of Christian interpolation, should be translated the other way round. The definite article (ho) indicates the subject, not the complement: ‘ “The Christ” [of whom Josephus’ readers will, he presumes, have herd] was this man.’92)N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of god: Volume 1 (Christian Origins and the Question of God), Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 1992), p. 353 (Brackets in  original)

There are a few weaknesses in his explanation here. One, he is not defending the entire passage, but only this little phrase from being an interpolation. If the rest of the passage has been corrupted by an interpolation, this phrase is not relevant to defend. If any of the passage has an interpolation then the logical and consistent idea would be to acknowledge that this phrase is also faulty. Second, Wright reckons “Professor Moule raises a query with me at this point: does the rule about subject and complement still hold if the noun in question is a title or proper name?”93) N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of god: Volume 1 (Christian Origins and the Question of God), Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 1992), p. 353 Which Wright answers, “I suspect it does”;94) N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of god: Volume 1 (Christian Origins and the Question of God), Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 1992), p. 353 but he has not proven so. Thus, N. T. Wright’s suggested translation of Josephus is highly suspicious and is reasonably not accepted by many scholars. However, N. T. Wright has made sweeping generalizations of Greek grammar concerning the articles in the past, particularly the articular infinitive in Philippians 2:6.95)see. N. T. Wright, “ἁρπαγμὸς and the Meaning of Philippians 2:5-11,” Journal of Theological Studies, 37 (1983), p. 344 He presented the conventional view which depends on the Blass-Debrunner-Funk section on the articular infinitive which specifies the rule, “In general the anaphoric significance of the article, i.e. its reference to something previously mentioned of otherwise well known, is more or less evident.… Without this anaphoric reference, an infinitive as subject or object is usually anarthrous.”96)F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Translated by Robert W. Funk), The University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL: 1961), p. 205, para. 399 It goes on citing examples of “anaphoric” and “less clearly anaphoric…” which Denny Burk recognized, “One could reasonably argue that the only clearly anaphoric articular infinitives are those that have a cognate term in the near context… Thus, the prima facie argument for an anaphoric link does not hold in Philippians 2:6.”97)Denny Burk, “Christ’s Functional Subordination in Philippians 2:6,” in The New Evangelical Subordinationism? Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son (ed. Dennis W. Jower and H. Wayne House), Pickick Publication (Eugene, OR: 2012), p. 88 Simply put, Wright’s attempt to offer an odd translation to the Josephus text based on the article is highly suspicious and should not be (and has not been) given much credibility.

However, by arguing that the Testimonium should stand as it is, it still needs to be explained as to what Josephus meant when he wrote what he did about Jesus Christ. No scholars have attempted to understand the passage in question within its context but simply have been too quick to write it off as an interpolation. Josephus context demands consideration, both in the narrative surrounding the Testimonium, and the rhetorical methods utilized commonly by Josephus. As Pieter Botha recognized in his article “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” explaining, “take into account that Josephus’ remarks should be understood only in the context that Josephus gave them. Words have their meaning only in context.”98) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 5 He also warned, “To simply cite a statement made by Josephus as evidence may achieve certain effects, but the ethics of interpretation demands that we deal with context—we should endeavor to cite his meaning.”99) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 11-12

To cite Josephus’ meaning, we need to understand his style and use of rhetoric. “Virtually all Greco-roman history was written under the strong influence of rhetoric.”100)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 30 Craig Keener stresses the fact that “Josephus is known for his rhetorical embellishment…”101) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 272 Furthermore, “Ancient writers used rhetorical techniques to make their histories persuasive. Greek historians know how to present their material in an artistic way, and rhetorical conventions helped shape the telling of good history.”102) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 132 Some of the major methods of rhetoric was arrangement of the narrative (for historians) to effect the readers with ethos and pathos. Cicero defined how orators should speak to the audience: “Under my whole oratorical system and that very readiness in speaking … lie three principles, as I said before, first the winning of men’s favour [ethos], secondly their enlightenment [logos], thirdly their excitement [pathos].” (Cicero, De Oratore 2.128 [LCL])103)Cicero in Twenty-Eight Volumes, De oratore (Trans. E. W. Sutton, H. Rackham), Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA: 1942, 1967), Vol. 3, p. 291 An ancient historian applying this means would offer the historical narratives as facts for the readers enlightenment, appeal to the authors and audience ethos (ethic or good character) to gain their favor, and stimulate the audiences emotions to affect them to think the way the author intends. Dionysius of Halicarnassus also defined these three manners for rhetoric. “I shall begin with what are called rhetorical proofs, dealing with each of the three kinds that are distinguished, the factual, the emotional [pathos] and the moral [ethos].” (Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Lysias 19)104)as cited by David Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, Westminster John Know Press (Louisville, Kentuky: 2003), p. 170 Pathos specifically, was used to ignite the audiences emotions as a manipulative means. David Aune describes “pathos” as:

a transliteration form of the Greek word [παθος] (“emotion, passion”), corresponding to the Latin word adfectus (from which the modern English word “affect” is derived), is a general term for the emotions (the most important of which was anger)…in literary composition (Longinus 8.1) and in rhetoric, where it was used of the emotions of an audience and how to arouse them.105) David Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, Westminster John Know Press (Louisville, Kentuky: 2003), p. 339-340

The intention of appealing to ethos and pathos is explained by Jakob Wisse: “Ethos is the favorable presentation of the character of speakers and client (content), aimed at the hearer’s sympathy (effect), pathos is aimed as arousing violent emotions in the hearers (effect). None of the two categories can be dispensed with: pathos, as a whole (in contrast with the individual emotions), has no specific content, so its described by effect only, since it is firmly tied to character-drawing.”106)Jakob Wisse, Ethos and Pathos From Aristotle to Cicero,  F.M. Hakkert (Amsterdam: 1989), p. 240 Indeed, Josephus “is more emotionally committed to his material than most other historians because he has a personal stake in the matters about which he writes…”107) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p.303 Understanding these rhetorical methods led Botha to say of Josephus, “His stories are often not unlike contemporary soap operas.”108) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 8 “Josephus actively creates a complex, coherent, meaningful his-story.”109) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 10 This is the basic literary style we must interpret Josephus with as we consider further the specific context within his narrative.

The chapter of Josephus in question is divided into five paragraphs. The first paragraph (Jos. Ant. 18.55-59)110) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chapt. 3, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379 builds upon the ethos of the Jewish people whose “law forbids us the very making of images,” developed with pathos of Pilate whose entering Jerusalem “in order to abolish the Jewish laws.” As his method of apologetics for the Jewish nation being a holy nation with righteous laws, he is preparing the purpose of inserting the Testimonium as an attack against Christ and the “tribe of Christians.” Previously, he comments that the Jews “would they never bear images of men in their city, meaning the trophies, because this was disagreeable to the laws of their county.”(Jos. Ant. 15.278)111) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 15, chapt. 8, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 328 Josephus sets the stage saying true Jews would never believe God revealed Himself as an image of man as an attack against the Christian faith which states “Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person…” (Hebrew 1:3). Josephus reports “Pilate was the first who brought those images to Jerusalem, and set them up there; which was done without the knowledge of the people, because it was done in the night time…” which relates to Christ of Whom the Jews reported “His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.” (Matthew 28:13) This sets Pilate sneaking an image in at night as parallel to Christ becoming an image after His body was allegedly snuck out at night. Of course, Josephus would have been aware of these correlations with the witnessing of Christians; Josephus frequently relied on what was common knowledge in his day. “For what I have now said is publicly known, and supported by the testimony of the whole people…” (Jos. Ag. Ap. 2:107)112)Josephus, “Flavius Josephus Against Apion,” Book 2, para. 8; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 627 The Jews “interceded” and “petitioned” Pilate “many days, that he would remove the images” to no avail as Pilate answered the removal of the images would be “to the injury of Caesar”. The Jews would later turn this argument against Pilate (John 19:12, 15). On the sixth day of this “disturbing him”, Pilate threatened “immediate death” upon the Jews if they persisted. “But they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Cesarea.” Here they won by manipulating Pilate. Many have viewed the Testimonium skeptically for accusing the Jews “when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross”; but Josephus views it not as incriminating, but rather a victory of removing the image. Herein the ethos/pathos theme of the righteous Jews willing to die an honorable death by standing against images and gaining a victory against Pilate introduces this chapter with many parallels to the Testimonium. The honorable death was viewed highly both in the minds of Josephus audience, and his as well as seen in his eulogy of Sampson: “And indeed this man deserves to be admired for his courage and strength, and magnanimity at his death, and that his wrath against his enemies went so far as to die himself with them.” (Jos. Ant. 5.16)113) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 5, chapt. 8, para. 12; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 120-121

The second paragraph (Jos. Ant. 18.60-62)114) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chapt. 3, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379 relates Pilate using “sacred money” to “bring a current of water to Jerusalem” which “the Jews were not pleased” about. This erupted into a “tumultuous” situation with Pilate having his soldier lay “much greater blows” upon the “unarmed” people, and “a great number of them slain by this means,” and “thus an end was put to this sedition.” The gospel accounts describe the crucifixion of Christ as a tumultuous event with an unarmed man beaten and slain. However, this account is antithetical as the sedition of the “tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

The third paragraph is the Testimonium (Jos. Ant. 18.63-64)115) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 3; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379 which is followed by a bazaar account in the fourth paragraph (Jos. Ant. 18.65-80)116) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 4; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 379-380 being the longest portion in the chapter, oddly seems to have nothing to do with anything relevant to the history of the Jews. This is what is called a digression:

a technique for temporarily suspending the narrative to include extraneous topical material of various types….

Digression function in various ways: (1) They are ancient counterparts to the footnotes, appendices, and excursuses of modern scholarship…. (2) They can supply important background necessary for understanding the narrative… (3) They can have a didactic function, emphasizing the moral and political lessons to be drawn from the narrative… (4) Digressions can provide variety and enjoyment, both by relieving a long and tedious narrative…117)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 94

Josephus at times avoids digressions (Jos. Ant. 11.68)118)Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 11, chap. 3, para. 10; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 231 but the first and last sentence clearly marks this fourth paragraph as a digression–though David Aune wrongfully calls it a “dramatic episode”.119)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 107 Cicero explained the use of Digression in a narrative as: “in which some digression, unconnected with the immediate argument, is interposed, either for the sake of criminating another, or of instituting a comparison, or of provoking some mirth not altogether unsuitable to the business under discussion, or else for the sake of amplification.” (Cicero, De inventione 1.19)120)available at https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_Invention/Book_1#19 Elsewhere, Cicero explains: “and digression from the subject, and when gratification has thus been afforded, the return to the subject ought to be happy and elegant; proposition of what you are about to say, transition from what has been said, and retrogression; there is repetition; apt conclusion of reasoning; exaggeration, or surpassing of the truth, for the sake of amplification or diminution; interrogation, and, akin to this, as it were, consultation or seeming inquiry, followed by the delivery of your own opinion; and dissimulation, the humour of saying one thing and signifying another, which steals into the minds of men in a peculiar manner, and which is extremely pleasing when it is well managed…” (Cicero, De oratore, 3.53.203)121)available at http://pages.pomona.edu/~cmc24747/sources/cic_web/de_or_3.htm Accordingly, Cicero intends digressions to accuse an individual by thematic comparisons that are exaggerated beyond truth. In this fourth paragraph, Josephus jumps from Jerusalem to Rome to discuss an event that occurred to pagans in the Isis temple. “Sometimes historiography also required one to backtrack or advance into the future, to keep to a train of thought or a geographical region.”122) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 193 On this occasion, the purpose jumps from one geographical region to impress a parallel (in Josephus’ opinion) of a similar event. Botha assures us “he is not an incoherent rambler.”123) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 10 “As one becomes familiar with his stories one discovers their many interconnections.”124) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 11 Keener states, “Many of the changes that writers made in their sources were matters of arrangement, which was of great importance to those trained in rhetoric…. One matter reminding the narrator of another was a common rhetorical technique for transition.”125) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 144 So Josephus has a rhetorical purpose to change his scene to Rome and topic to a pagan temple. Indeed, Cicero tells us a good orator “will treat the same subject in many ways, sticking to the same idea and lingering over the same thought” (Cicero, Or. Brut. 40.137)126)as cited by Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 307 Josephus’ transition is said to relate “another calamity” which indicates he had just finished reporting a calamity. The previous paragraph was the Testimonium, which has Christ crucified and “he appeared to them alive again” which is not a calamity unless this is understood as why “the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day” being Josephus view of a calamity. Even the presentation of this calamity, which has been called “atrocity stories”, is “a common method of rhetorical retribution”127)Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 462  In fact, this fourth paragraph depicts a pious pagan woman, who was tricked and taken advantage of, fooled to believe “the god Anubis had appeared to her.” Josephus’ digression is accusing Christ by comparison to the pagan notion of gods appearing to men.

Utilizing the pathos to heighten our emotional response to this “calamity,” we are introduced to Paulina with thick ethos laid on her character. Paulina, who “was very much given to the worship of the goddess Isis,” was “on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation: she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty. She was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character.” A man named Decius Mundus “fell in love with this women” and not being able to entice her, fell all the “more inflamed with love to her, insomuch that he promised to give her two hundred thousand Attic drachmae for one night’s lodging” but she still turned him down. He then spoke to “Ide, one skillful in all sorts of mischief,” and offered her “fifty thousand drachmae for the entrapping of the woman” so “that he might obtain a night’s lodging with Paulina”. Ide “devised the following stratagem” to offer money to the priests of the Isis temple to tell Paulina that the god Anubis gave him a message for her to spend the night in the temple in order “to sup and lie with Anubis.” She was overwhelmed to hear that “this condescension of Anubis” would be an invitation extended to her. We must remember the common opinion of the pagan of the ancient world. Robin Lane Fox writes:

In the mystery religions, too, the old patterns of a god’s appearance were not displaced. …the idea of an encounter was central to the entire mystery rite…. In this old area of vision, the mystery experience seems to have been concentrated. When we find spells and magical texts promising to summon and reveal the gods, they attach, once again, to an existing strand in conventional religiousness. Magic offered a technique for bringing close encounters to pass: it was a systemization of an older hope, not a strange innovation.128)Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, NY: 1987), p. 124-125

Paulina spent the night at the temple and after the lights went out, Mundus “did not fail of enjoying her, who was at his service all the night long, as supposing he was the god”. She further spoke to “her husband, and told him how the god Anubis had appeared to her. Among her friends, also, she declared how great a value she put upon this favor, who partly disbelieved the thing, when they reflected on its nature, and partly were amazed at it” because she was known for ethos, i.e. “the modesty and the dignity”. More parallel is evident when Josephus reports “on the third day after what had been done, Mundus met Paulina” and revealed to her that he enjoyed her “while I took to myself the name Anubis.” Once this account reached the emperor Tiberius, he ordered the priests “to be crucified, as well as Ide” for their trickery. Furthermore, Tiberius “demolished the temple of Isis”.

The rhetoric is clearly presented in the parallelism. Craig Keener expressed, “most [ancient] historians were happy to look for parallels.”129)Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 569 David Aune explained:

An obvious literary function of schemes of correspondence is to unify the composition. A historical function of such schemes is to demonstrate that history itself has a pattern. For both these reasons, ancient historians often sought to elicit patterns of historical recurrence in their narratives. Appian (ca. A.D. 95-165) saw historical parallels between the Roman defeat at Cannae and the defeat of Hasdrubal the Carthaginian (The Hannibalic Wars 7.8.53).130)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 119; also quoted by Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 569

Keener also noted, “more recent tendency [of scholars] has been to see such similar patterning as a deliberate authorial strategy which invites the reader to read one incident in the light of the other…. Indeed, even the Jordan crossing in Josephus deliberately echoes the sea crossing at the exodus.”131)Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 573-674 Since Josephus is recognized to use this literary method; why have these scholars not noted the obvious in the text surrounding the Testimonium? Josephus here inserts this account without contextual purpose outside of the fact that it follows the topic he is presenting. “Quintilian explicitly distinguishes between two basic approaches to encomium or panegyric (an oratorical counterpart to biography), the chronological and the topical (3.7.10)…. These are not two distinct biographical genres, however, but two complimentary variables within Greco-Roman biography.”132)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 32 Pliny the Younger repeats a rumor he heard without concern of its truth or lack of it, for the purpose of a moral lesson. “I should not like to say that this actually was the case, but it adds to the moral that it should be considered as true.” (Letters 9.13.25)133)Pliny the Younger, Letters, book 9, letter 13, sect. 25; at http://www.attalus.org/old/pliny9.html David Aune states, “Since biographers, as antiquarians and historians, were primarily trained in rhetoric, that is the source of their skills in character depiction, skills more concerned with plausibility than with truth.”134)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 31 The goal is to produce emotionally charge hatred against the calamity in the Isis temple and conveniently connected that hatred with Christians who correlate so much with the event as he depicts it. “In judicial rhetoric, the accuser tries to rouse the jury to feel hatred toward the accused, while the defender tries to make the jury feel pity for the accused (Quintillian 6.1.9-11).”135) David Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, Westminster John Know Press (Louisville, Kentuky: 2003), p. 340 It was the Jews we are intended to feel pity for because the few rebellious individuals that followed the forbidden image of God in Christ cause the calamity of the Jewish temple to be destroyed. “Josephus is trying to impress his audiences with the depth and variety of Judaism and to expose a ‘few’ rebels as the true anti-social elements abandoning their admirable traditions. That is the past as it was—to Josephus that is.”136) Pieter J. J. Botha, “History, rhetoric and the writings of Josephus,” Neotest Amentica, 31(1) 1997, p. 11 He elsewhere draws such parallels to ignite passionate anger towards individuals through guilt by association. “It was Antiochus Epiphanes who first brake that law, and deprived Jesus, and made his brother Onias high priest in his stead. Aristobulus was the second that did so, and took that dignity from his brother [Hyrcanus]; and this Herod was the third, who took that high office away [from Arianflus], and gave it to this young man, Aristobulus, in his stead.” (Jos. Ant. 15.41)137) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Preface, Book 15, chapt. 3, para. 1; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 316 So Herod is demonized discrediting his ethos for preforming similar actions as Antiochus Epiphanes, a very emotionally (pathos) charged named to incite. “In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, character was an important ingredient of historiography; in biography a person’s achievements illustrate his character, while in history achievements are part of a broader historical framework.”138)David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment, The Westminster Press (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1989), p. 30 Josephus apologetic method is seen also in turning the common view of his day around as a polemic. Most people had opined that the Jewish Temple was destroyed because the unlawful murder of James. Now Josephus is accusing Jesus and His followers of idolatry and that is the cause of the Temple’s destruction. Elsewhere, Josephus expresses the seditious acts of the few tyrant acting Jews caused the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (Jos. Wars. 1.9-10), such revolutionaries disregarded their own religious and moral codes (Jos. Wars 4.150, 155,381-383), and what they got was what they deserved (Jos. Wars. 2.449-457; 6. 108-110, 249-251).

The final paragraph of this chapter (Jos. Ant. 18.81-84)139) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 3, para. 4; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 380 speaks of a Jewish man that “had been driven away from his own country by an accusation laid against him for transgressing their laws”, whose ethos was “a wicked man”. He then lived in Rome as a false teacher, instructing “men in the wisdom of the laws of Moses.” He drew to himself disciples and took advantage of another rich woman of “great dignity”. These men conned the Jewish woman out of much money under the pretense that the money would be brought back to Jerusalem “to the Temple.” This correlates with Paul missionary journeys. Josephus was probably aware of and familiar with the book of Acts and possible the gospels (Jos. Life 1.2, cf. Luke 2:42-47). Josephus was a historian. Surely his interest would have led him to read a historical monograph of a sect that diverged out from Judaism, at very least for a brief understanding of it, considering he spent a year with the three various sects of Judaism in his youth (Jos. Life 1.2). Keener explains the book of Acts as “surveying the gospel’s movement from Jerusalem to Rome…”140) Craig S. Keener, Acts An Exegetical Commentary: Introduction and 1:1-2:47, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI: 2013), Vol. 1, p. 137 It is Paul’s taking the offering to Jerusalem (Acts 24:17, 22; 25:19; 27:6; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3) that is being attacked as a scam by Josephus. Paul strived to prove he was no charlatan (Acts 20:33-35), willingly and diligently working with his hands (Acts 20:34-35), continually night and day (1 Thessalonians 2:9), to be financially independent (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9; ) to avoid such accusations (1 Corinthians 9:3-19, especially v. 12), to set an example for others to work hard (1 Corinthians 4:12, 16; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:9-10), and to support the weak with what was earned in abundance (Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Clearly, Paul was aware of such accusation against him in his life time and emphasized through his actions, ministry, and teachings, that these were erroneous accusations. Josephus spoke of how the Jews suffered famines due to Sabbatical Years, stating, “this distress was in part occasioned by the covetousness of the prince regent, who was still in want of more, and in part by the Sabbatic year, which was still going on, and forced the country to lie still uncultivated, since we are forbidden to sow our land in that year. (Jos. Ant. 15.7)141) Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 15, chap. 1, para. 2; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 314 According to Jack Finegan’s tracing of the chronology of Paul’s returning to Jerusalem in intervals of seven years; Paul’s purpose for the offerings to Jerusalem was to provide for the saints during the Sabbatical Years.142)Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Revised Edition), Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1964, 1998), p. 394 Ancient authors that attacked Christians often made accusations that they were charlatans, such as Lucian of Samosata, who wrote in (A.D. 165): “Indeed, people came even from the cities in Asia, sent by the Christians at their common expense, to succour and defend and encourage the hero. They show incredible speed whenever any such public action is taken; for in no time they lavish their all.  So it was then in the case of Peregrinus; much money came to him from them by reason of his imprisonment, and he procured not a little revenue from it. The poor wretches have convinced themselves, first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time… for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by occasions, comes among them, he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk.” (Lucian of Samosata, The Passing of Peregrinus, 13)143)http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/peregrinus.htm

To review the major points of interpreting this chapter: the first paragraph Josephus presents the true Jews who are willing to die before allowing an image represent God. The third paragraph is antithetical, presenting the Christians who believe Jesus Christ as the image of God. The fourth paragraph expresses that superstitious pagans have been fooled by men who claim to be gods. As the major apologetic of the era was to argue from antiquity, Josephus seeks to prove Judaism as the most ancient belief and early Christian apologists argued for their antiquity through continuity with Judaism. The majority of ancient Christians apologists alluded to Josephus for this specific reason. Josephus is seeking to sever that continuity by claiming Christianity has more in common with pagans than with Judaism.

The extent of parallels is too strong to ignore when one is familiar with Josephus rhetorical style. One common argument against the Testimonium is expressed as: “We would rather expect him to have represented Jesus as an imposter, or as an enthusiast.”144) Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 2011), Vol. 1, p. 93 However, Josephus sounding as to give dignity to Jesus as the Christ most likely is sarcasm evident in the parallelism presented in the immediate context. Note, elsewhere in his writings he makes obvious sarcastic comments within immediate context of scoffing at the pagan notion of gods appearing to men and Isis. “Now Manetho says that the king’s desire of seeing the gods was the origin of the ejection of the polluted people; but Cheremon feigns that it was a dream of his own, sent upon him by Isis, that was the occasion of it. Manetho says that the person who foreshowed this purgation of Egypt to the king was Amenophis; but this man says it was Phritiphantes. As to the numbers of the multitude that were expelled, they agree exceedingly well the former reckoning them eighty thousand, and the latter about two hundred and fifty thousand!” (Jos., Ag. Ap.1.293-295)145)Josephus, “Flavius Josephus Against Apion,” Book 2, para. 8; The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1960, 1981), p. 620-621 Here is an example of how Josephus utilizes sarcasm, drawing on two separate authors that contradict each other though writing on the same account. Note he uses the parallelism with mention of “the king’s desire to see the gods” as well as a mention of Isis; just as the sarcasm is suggested as an attack on the superstition of Christians believing Christ is God in the parallelism attempted to press with gods appearing in the Isis temple. Ancient authors would be more apt to catch the drift of Josephus’ rhetoric, especially the higher educated elite in Hellenistic culture. This would explain why Origen emphasized Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ to express the rhetoric to those who might not have caught it. Modern scholars who are not willing to accept this premise of interpreting Josephus’ Testimonium will have to give a better explanation of the context and why Josephus would add this paragraph of an Isis worshiper in his history of the Jews which is so obscenely out of place.

In conclusion, how should we understand this interpretation of Josephus derogatory remarks of Jesus Christ? First, it reveals the common view of the Jews desire to attack Christianity, equating them as foolish as the superstitious pagans that believed the gods could appear to men. This shows that the first century Christians worshiped Christ as God. Secondly, since Christianity was equated with paganism by the Jews, the miracles of Christ and early Christians were also considered sorceries just as they would like have viewed pagan claims of miracles. Obviously, Josephus major apology for Judaism was arguing from its antiquity contrast to his polemic against Christianity as a novel sect branching out of Judaism in recent days. Thus, the claims of miracles, Christ’s deity, and the resurrection were definitely well known expressions of the early Christian kerygma. So the apologetic value is still evident as being proven authentic. Furthermore, Paul’s missionary journeys and taking up offerings for the poor in Jerusalem is also indirectly confirmed as historical. Josephus assumes his targeted audience would be familiar with these facts and his subtleties in the sarcasm and parallels points to the widespread knowledge of the general Roman citizen. This also reveals a wide spread of Christian writings such as Acts for this information to be understood. Finally, and most important of all, this should be received as a rebuke to conservative scholars who have quickly adapted to the skeptic argument of copyist errors in Scriptures. If this disputed text from Josephus can be shown from its immediate context to be authentic, when accurately interpreted, how much more diligently should we attempt to understand Scriptures when we perceive a difficulty instead of claiming textual corruption or copyist errors. As I have noted elsewhere, this opinion of a text being corrupted is all too common whenever someone subjectively decides there is a difficulty in a text.146)see Heath Henning, Deistic Inspiration or Preserved Inerrancy, May 2, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/deistic-inspiration-preserved-inerrancy/ God has no personally invested interest in preserving Josephus or other such secular text, yet God does have a personally invested interest in preserving His inspired words and has promised He would do so.147)see. Heath Henning, Psalm 12 Proves Perfect Preservation, August 7, 2017; http://truthwatchers.com/935-2/ I have personally noted multiple times when conservative scholars have claimed a corruption in a text due to a perceived difficulty but the answer can be found within the immediate context. Scholars need to reassess their alleged commitment to studying God’s word instead of compromising with skeptical arguments.

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