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Josephus - 2

Summary

 

Crossan said it well when he wrote, “The problem here is that Josephus’ account is too good to be true, too confessional to be impartial, too Christian to be Jewish”.  The Testimonium is all or certainly as a minimum a partial forgery.  This is implied even by Christian scholars who use the term “interpolation”, which means to “insert something between fixed points, especially in order to give a false impression”. The term originated from the 17th century Latin and is a derivative of interpolat- meaning refurbished or altered, and related to polire, “to polish” [Oxford American Dictionary].  There are no reputable scholars that as a minimum deny that this section was altered; indeed altered, refurbished and polished for the faith is a fitting description. Listed below are the commonly proposed sections that are thought to be interpolated by many scholars who take the view that only parts of Josephus’ writings were corrupted (for example, Edwin Yamauchi and John Meier):

 

[if it be lawful to call him a man];

[He was [the] Christ].

[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.]

 

Notice, that all we’re left with in this version is that a person called Jesus lived. The Jesus of Christianity is not here. Remember that we do not have any of the original writings of Josephus and all our copies have come through Christian sources.  There is compelling evidence that these references to Jesus and certainly at least to Christ, are not the writings of Josephus but were probably added 200 years later; many think it could have been Eusebius. These sections of Antiquities are never referenced before Eusebius even though many an early church father had access to the writings of Josephus. The evidence is robust that these sections do not provide support for extra-Biblical sources for Christianity, but on the other hand instead demonstrate how Christians forged documents for their faith. Let’s call it for what it is - all or partially forged - and stop cloaking it in a more palatable term such as “interpolation”.

The accounts of the forgeries of Josephus by Christians (if the James reference is included) begs the question - is this the only example of this kind of document corruption, where the end justifies the means?  Do we have evidence of even the scriptures being modified for an agenda?

 

Not An Isolated Occurrence, But A Pattern

 

There are numerous documented examples from the Old and New Testament of theologians and scribes changing verses that did not convey the meaning they thought correct or best. Several of these are referenced on this web site.

 

Hebrew theologians and scribes are known to have changed their scriptures. For example, the beginning and ending of Ecclesiastes has been added to make the book’s message more palatable (Origine page). Another example involves Judges 18:30. The ESV commentary notes that the verse was changed by scribes when they added the Hebrew letter ‘nun’ so that it read “Manasseh” instead of “Moses” because Jonathan was acting more like the son of the wicked Manasseh than of Moses (Origine page).

Demonstrated New Testament changes are even more numerous.  Perhaps one of the most famous is the ending of Mark 16:9 - 20, which nearly every scholar agrees was later added to make the ending more reasonable.  (Origine page)  Another includes John 7: 53 - 8:12 which relates a woman being caught in adultery and being saved from stoning by Jesus.   This narrative is not part of the original gospel and was added later. Indeed, other scribes inserted it after John 21:25 or Luke 21:38. (Origine page)

 

Ancient scholars complained of Christians changing documents, and one of those complaining was the famous third century Church Father Origen, who wrote:  "The differences among the manuscripts have become great either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please".

Pagan critic Celsus claimed, "Some believers, as though from a drinking bout, go so far as to oppose themselves and alter the original text of the gospel three or four or several times over and they change its character to enable them to deny differences in face of criticism".

The Bishop of Corinth, Dionysius, complained "When my fellow-Christians invited me to write letters to them I did so.  These the devil's apostles have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others. For them the woe is reserved.  Small wonder then if some have dared to tamper  even with the word of the Lord himself, when they have conspired to mutilate my own humble efforts." (Origine page)

 

One of the more bold scriptural changes in the NT, but little discussed in the public, is the naming of the gospels. We don’t know wrote them. They were named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the second century by Church Fathers who needed more authenticity for their gospels.  They are named in the third person (The Gospel According To ...).  The original apostles were Aramaic speaking, illiterate men. Whoever wrote the gospels wrote in Greek and were highly educated for their times.

Even within the NT canon, many of the books are forgeries. For example, First and Second Timothy and Titus are agreed by scholars to be pseudonymous (claim to be written by an author, but written my someone else). Besides the three pastoral epistles above, Second Peter was not written by Peter.  Six of the thirteen letters allegedly written by Paul probably were not and can be appropriately labeled as forgeries.   Pseudepigraphical writing was common at the time and may not carry the connotation of deception that we associate with this behavior today. [10]

 

In modern times there have been documented instances of Christians obtaining false degrees and quote mining - lifting quotes out of context for an agenda. This is best documented in the writings of Young Earth Creationists (Link - bogus degrees)  (Link - quote mining).

 

Conclusion

 

The appeal to Josephus as an extra-Biblical confirmatory source regarding Jesus fails an in depth examination.  The Testimonium Flavainum certainly is a partial or complete forgery and the section referring to James is also doubtful in authenticity [11,12,13,14].  Continued Christian references to Josephus as a confirmatory source for the Bible should cease. The changes made to the writings of Josephus are not an isolated occurrence, but represent a pattern of Christian forgeries that are pervasive throughout the centuries. Terming this behavior as “interpolations” and “pseudepigraphical writing” does not deflect what is really occurring; Christians attempting to change history through fraudulent means.

 

Perhaps Martin Luther summed it best when he wrote, “What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such as lies would not be against God, he would accept them” (Martin Luther, cited by his secretary, in a letter in Max Lenz, ed., Briefwechsel Landgraf Philips des Grossmuthigen von Hessen mit Bucer, vol. 1. Source: Sissel Bok, Lying: Moral Choice In Public and Private Life, NY: Pantheon Books, 1978, p. 47.)   We should never accept this kind of behavior.  

 

Jesus outside the Bible does not exist. A review of the claims:  Link

 

 

References

 

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiquities_of_the_Jews

3. http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-18.htm

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

5. http://freethought.mbdojo.com/josephus.html

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

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

8. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Martin_Luther

9. Personal email communication, Gavin Young (5/2011)

10. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-telling-lies-to_b_840301.html?ref=fb&src=sp  (Who Wrote The Bible and Why It Matters)

11. Jesus Never Existed (TF a forgery)

12. Truth Be Known (TF a forgery)

13. Early Christian Writings (TF is a partial forgery)

14. Josephus Unbound (TF is a forgery)

15. Jesus Has Left The Building (5 parts; part 2 concerns Josephus)

16. David Fitzgerald, 2010. The historicity of Jesus.  Link

17. Non-Christian Testimony for Jesus? Link

18. Richard Carrier and Jesus Link

19. Forged Jesus passage in Josephus (2014) Link

20. Jesus without a trace. Link

 

Appendix

 

Josephus’s Writings with the Testimonium Flavianum removed

 

2. But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bid the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition.

[Testimonium Flavianum (#3) Removed]

4. About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. 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. There was at Rome a woman...

~ Biomed