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The first Josephus "testimonium"

April 18 2010 at 8:43 PM

Vince  (Login MoxiFox)
Forum Owner

 
I think this one bears some discussion on its own.

Again, I'll quote Origen's rebuttal of Celsus so that "we" can focus our attention to the details of JUST this one issue (hopefully)....

Again, to set the scene, Origen was an early Christian scholar living between the time of 185 AD and 254 AD. That means he lived in the "3rd century" after the time of the alleged Jesus Christ.

Origen wrote a relatively large number of books to refute a "pagan" fellow by the name of Celsus. Now, Celsus' writings were all destroyed by the church, so we can't check to see what Celsus ACTUALLY said but ....... we can deduce from what Origen wrote in RESPONSE to Celsus .... what Celsus was probably saying in his own arguments.

So, one of the things Origen wrote in response to some argument of Celsus' was :

[ "I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew accepting John somehow as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great time after John and Jesus. 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 [Josephus], although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple [said that it was 'to avenge James the Just'], 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." (Origen, Contra Celsum, 1: 47; ANF. 4: 416.) ]

1) "the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great time after John and Jesus. 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."

From this argument, we can deduce that Celsus may have questioned the EXISTENCE of John the Baptist -or- Origen is attempting to create a "string" between JTB and Jesus Christ, to prove the EXISTENCE of Jesus Christ. If JTB baptized Jesus, then Jesus must have existed.

2) "Now [Josephus], although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple [said that it was 'to avenge James the Just'],"

Thus, Origen is declaring that Josephus did NOT believe in Jesus as the Christ.

3) "whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the CAUSE of these calamities ....since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, [ he ] says nevertheless -- -- 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)"

So here we have our first indicator that Josephus was aware of this "brother" of James ... who was Jesus and was also called "Christ" and ....

4) "the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice."

The Jews put James to death (presumably by stoning). The last quote -#4- was in Origen's own words and no longer a quotation of the Josephus passage.

Here is the Josephus passage so that it can be fully scrutinized on its own. This is the one that Origen was quoting FROM ...

[ And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. 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. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest. ]

Thus, the question ....

Was the following part in Josephus' writing, or is it faked/somehow added to his writings LATER by a Christian scribe?

[ and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, ]

If it's genuine, one has to wonder why Josephus would just suddenly DROP the "brother of Jesus who was called Christ" ... into his story, without a SINGLE CLUE of who this Jesus guy was or represented!

Another possibility might be that ........ James was known as a Christian leader who consistently referred to himself as, "Hi. I'm James, the brother of Jesus who is Christ." Even though no outsider would understand what the heck he was talking about, it would NEVERTHELESS .... IDENTIFY James as .... "that fellow who claims to be the 'brother of Jesus who is Christ'."

(Do you remember that old show on TV, called Newhart, where these 3 crazy brothers always showed up together, with their one spokesman brother ALWAYS introducing the group as, "Hi, I'm Larry. This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl." ?? Ok, that line was Larry's trademark ....... just as James the Just may have had the trademark line, "Hi, I'm James ... the brother of Jesus who is Christ." )

What do you think?

-Vince

 
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