This is a companion piece to The Gospel Truth by Paul Andruss on his regular post last Friday: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/smorgasbord-writer-in-residence-the-gospel-truth-by-paul-andruss/
Titus Flavius Josephus, as he obsequiously called himself after switching from Galilean rebel to Roman sycophant, was a Jewish historian who lived shortly after the time of Christ to about 100 AD. He gives a valuable eye-witness account of this crucial historical period in three significant works:
The Jewish War (circa 75 AD) – outlining the Jewish Rebellion of 66 AD that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by the future emperor Titus and the mass suicide of the Jewish freedom fighters at Masada.
Antiquities of the Jews (c. 90AD) – a vast compendium detailing the complete history of the Jews
Life (c. 99 AD) – an autobiography
When the Jews rebelled against Roman occupation Joesphus a Galilean nobleman joined the rebels. Hunted down, his gang holed up in a cave where, as Josephus proudly tells it, he persuaded them to commit suicide rather than be captured. After cleverly arranging to be the last man standing, he surrendered to the Roman general Titus (son of the Flavian emperor Vespasian) and was amply rewarded for his treachery.
But this isn’t about Josephus. It isn’t even about his books. It is about 3 passages from Antiquities viewed as independent evidence of Jesus’ existence.
The first concerns the death of Jesus’ brother James. The relevant sentence reads… brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James
While many scholars believe the passage about James is genuine because it is included in every copy of Antiquities, there are some concerns. The earliest existing copies date from 1,000 years after Antiquities was written.
Writing in 280 AD, Origen, a church father, mentions the passage. He then confuses Josephus with an early church father called Hegesippus. While many scholars accept Hegesippus existed, others say he is no more than a version of Josephus as the quotes are often dependant on Josephus.
Origen, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius, the original sources for Hegesippus, all quote the same book written a century after Josephus in Alexandria and taken to Caesarea. Despite its importance to early church history, the book vanished without trace.
Hegesippus says James was a Nazarite (a Jewish ascetic) and a High Priest (he went alone into the Holy of Holies). After James’s murder (different in Josephus) the main High Priest was deposed in favour of a new High Priest called Jesus; possibly his brother. Perhaps the person who wrote Hegesippus’ work was confused by two pairs of brothers with common names?
Read the rest of this fascinating post: http://www.paul-andruss.com/testimonium-flavianum