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eight bits

You thought Josephus' Testimonium was dicey..

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eight bits

The only non-Christian mentions of Jesus dated to the First Century are from the just-in-time (93 CE) Jewish Antiquities of Josephus, an identification of James the Just and the "Flavian Testimony."

One objection to the FT, apart from its being a shameless fake in its present form, is that it interrupts the "flow" of the surrounding narrative. That turns out to be an illusion. What now immediately follows the FT has apparently shifted about 600 words away from its proper location in the text, based on chronological order and thematic coherence.

https://uncertaintis...ion-of-paulina/

Errors like that are especially easy for lengthy hand-copied documents, which the Antiquities was for most of its existence. The material that has moved, however, is itself more than just a little doubtful, both as to its historical reliability and as to whether Josephus actually wrote it.

The TF lives in a rough neighborhood, truthiness-wise.

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third_eye

I concur ~

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eight bits

Thinking some more about the FT, and the "truthiness" of the neighborhood. The correct sequence in the Antiquities is:

1. The death of Germanicus (probably genuine Joe, but spun)

2. Paulina (disputed)

3. The expulsion of Jews from Rome (probably genuine)

4. Two stories about Pilate, retold from Josephus' Jewish War (probably genuine based on earlier work)

5. The FT (disputed)

6. Pilate's last battle in the region and "recall" to Rome (probably genuine, but spun)

as opposed to the same stories in the order (1,4,5,2,3,6).

By "spun" (the first and last items in the list), I mean that Josephus states as fact what he doesn't know. Germanicus died mysteriously (#1). Josephus says, as a fact, that Germanicus was poisoned by Piso. That is a fair suspicion, but it isn't an established fact, either.

Jospehus also has Pilate's governorship terminated by the Governor of Syria, supposedly for unnecessary roughness in putting down a Samaritan armed gathering (#6). It's unclear that that was how it really was, either. Pilate isn't depicted as being especially rough, and it's vague where the Governor of Syria would have gotten the authority to relieve Pilate of an Imperial appointment.

Josephus thus transmits hearsay, or his personal impression of whatever record may have survived, as fact without identifying any actual source. Many of the details in the Seduction are at best hearsay if not simply made up. It is at least possible that Josephus' own earlier Jewish War is the actual source for item #4 here.

So, the score comes down to this. Of the six items in this "neighborhood," two might not even have been part of the orginal work and if they were, they are very likely to have been improved in the copying (FT and Seduction), two more are at best hearsay (Piso and how Pilate left office), and one is apparently self-quoting.

That leaves only one story among the six fully reliable in all its reported details. Jews were both conscripted and expelled from Rome in 19 CE, a fact with two other independent surviving reports (Tacitus and Suetonius).

And this is the only First Century "witness" to Jesus who doesn't worship him AND whose writings survived a harsh and purposeful selection process. That's a problem for those who wish to establish Jesus' historical existence as a secure secular fact, and puts a knowable historical Jesus out of reach, IMO, based on any existing evidence.

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third_eye

Possible some links that may be of interest, if unfamiliar ~

SECTION 13

Early Christianity and the Church

For the historian, insurmountable difficulties surround Jesus himself. Too little information about the actual man in his day can be verified and too many people care about the interpretation of Christ's life and teaching, a situation which leaves historians with no real hope for achieving consensus. The gospels themselves only exacerbate the problem, since they entail numerous difficulties starting with the very language in which they were published. For all practical purposes, then, Christianity enters history with the appearance of Saint Paul whose writings are the earliest datable Christian documents. In the next three centuries, as the new religion slowly spread across the Roman world, it becomes easier and easier to track its development up to its consummate political triumph, Constantine's conversion in the early fourth century. Research on the evolution of early Christianity and the complex path it followed up to its eventual domination of the West has uncovered an unparalleled wealth of diverse perspectives on Christ, many of which were branded heresies and subsequently disappeared from the historical record. But now archaeology has brought to light several of the texts composed by authors later denounced as subversives. These so-called Gnostic Gospels demonstrate the immense creativity of early Christians and the rich abundance of possibilities inherent within the religion itself.

~

Known in the Dynastic period as Per-medjed, Oxyrhynchus rose to prominence under Egypt’s Hellenistic and Roman rulers. It was a prosperous regional capital, reckoned the third city of Egypt, and home town of the sophist Athenaeus. In later antiquity it was famous for its many churches and monasteries. Today the village of el-Bahnasa occupies part of the ancient site. Grenfell and Hunt, who made its "few squalid huts" their base of operations, knew it as ‘Behneseh’.

The town lies roughly 300 km south of the coastal metropolis of Alexandria, or 160 km south-west of Cairo (ancient Memphis). It is situated on the Bahr Yusuf, the branch of the Nile that terminates in Lake Moeris and the Fayum oasis.

~

What we’ve set out to do with the imaging project is to take the papyri systematically, one volume at a time — but that’s not to say we can’t or won’t handle requests for particular images out of sequence. If you have a request, then contact us.

We only ask two things:

  1. Be as specific as you can. The collection contains thousands of published papyri. Just saying (e.g.) ‘New Testament’ or ‘Homer’ isn’t much help to us. Quoting the publication details from the printed volume of Oxyrhynchus Papyri, on the other hand, will make us very happy.
  2. Check the LOCATION-LISTS. Many of the papyri have been distributed to other institutions. We can’t image material we don’t have.

~

Cairo Geniza

The Cairo Genizah, alternatively spelled Geniza, is a collection of some 300,000[1] Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in the genizah or storeroom of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat or Old Cairo, Egypt. These manuscripts outline a 1,000-year continuum (870 CE to 19th century) of Jewish Middle-Eastern and North African history and comprise the largest and most diverse collection of medieval manuscripts in the world. The Genizah texts are written in various languages, especially Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic, mainly on vellum and paper, but also on papyrus and cloth. In addition to containing Jewish religious texts such as Biblical, Talmudic and later Rabbinic works (some in the original hands of the authors), the Genizah gives a detailed picture of the economic and cultural life of the North African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, especially during the 10th to 13th centuries. It is now dispersed among a number of libraries, including the libraries of Cambridge University and the University of Manchester. Some additional fragments were found in the Basatin cemetery east of Old Cairo, and the collection includes a number of old documents bought in Cairo in the latter nineteenth century.[2]

~

Tacitus and his manuscripts1

Introduction

There are quite a number of misleading statements about this subject circulating on the internet, including the curious idea that Tacitus was forged in the 15th century by Poggio Bracciolini. This page has been written to place the facts at the disposal of those interested, and references to more information. The intended audience is the interested layman. All this material is derived from the sources listed.

I've also added a short paragraph on the allegations that Tacitus' works were forged.

The works of Tacitus that have come down to us are as follows:

Annales
, 1-6

Annales
, 11-16,
Historiae

Minor Works

The titles Annales and Historiae are 16th century, as the manuscripts present both works under the title Ab excessu divi Augusti. Historiae 1-5 appear as books 17-21 in the MS.

It is generally accepted "that Tacitus completed the Historiae in 14 books, and then wrote 16 books Ab excessu Divi Augusti, but did not complete the prolegomenary and supplemental works which he had projected. The result, therefore, was two historical works which were subsequently combined, possibly by the author but more probably by a later editor, into a single sequence of 30 books numbered consecutively. The existence of such a consolidated edition is implied in Jerome's oft-quoted reference (Comm. ad Zach. 3, 14; = Migne, 25, 1522) to the triginta volumina (= libri) of the Tacitean 'vitae Caesarum,' and confirmed by the subscriptions in the Second Medicean manuscript, in which we clearly have the remains of a consolidated edition. At the end of the second book of Historiae, for example, the colophon reads: Cornelij tacitj. || Liber octauus decim; expljcit. || Incipit nonus decimus. This numbering is certainly taken from the mutilated archetype from which the Second Medicean was copied, and may therefore be presumed to be ancient.".2

~

~

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eight bits

3rd eye

There are some good links there.

I think, however, there are two kinds of alteration, both (it seems) present in the Paulina story:

1. Innocent mistake, that the two twinned stories, Paulina and the expulsion of the Jews from Rome, have "migrated" away from where they belong.

The codex starts out like today's "blank book" (a fixed number of blank pages, all assembled before anything is written, by hand). You're copying a long work into your blank book, like Antiquities. One day, you notice that you made a mistake a few minutes before. You've left out two stories from 19CE, and have already started copying stories about Pilate, 26CE or later.

What do you do? You're not going to start over, the blank book is expensive, and you've got hundreds of hours of work into this copy. I'd copy in the missing material, wherever I am in the copying, with maybe some marking both here and also where it belongs to indicate I've goofed.

The hitch is whether the next copyist, years from now, understands my markings. Maybe not. Maybe the copyist is "just a copyist," and doesn't know when the Jews were expelled. Or when Pilate was in Judea. He looks at my markings and doesn't know what that's all about, but the text looks fine, so he just copies the text as I wrote it out and moves on.

2. Forgery, intentionally putting something into the text that the author didn't, creating the appearance that the author did put it there. Jospehus didn't write all that obsequious claptrap that would embarrass a Christian to write - although what a fantasy to force some Jew to say it.

Late ancient Christians believed that the leading Jews (like Josephus) knew that Jesus is their savior, they just won't admit it. Saint Epiphanius wrote about that, in his Panarion, in the tale of a different Josephus (in the section on the Ebionites):

http://www.bombaxo.c...of-a-patriarch/

Citation of this particular article for its quotation of Epiphanius does NOT imply or suggest endorsement of the website nor of anything else it contains.

Faking it is the next best thing to making it happen. Even so, it could well be that Josephus made some note of Pilate's fondness for crucifixion. Joe may have mentioned one among the many victims who might be a familiar name to his audience in the last decade of the First Century.

Maybe there were sex scandals at the Roman Iseum, and Josephus noted that, too. But all those ridiculous details? No. Josephus didn't write a sex farce, anymore than he confessed Jesus as his God. Some celibate monk relieved his boredom and got off on obsessing over what happened to Paulina, just as an antisemite got off on what he could make a Jew say when the Jew couldn't fight back.

Edited by eight bits
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third_eye

@eight bits

~

I think the key and crucial points raised is that the period when the texts were copied and duration normally taken ~ it is not as linear as commonly believed or presented with many copyists responsible for only one specific part throughout the land having no idea of the context nor the full contents, and mostly for the entire length of their life ... on top of which many were more decorative craftsmen and responsible for the inlaid embellishments, in other words, the copyists though not entirely illiterate, they mostly had no idea of exactly what they were copying in the first place ~ and they were not allowed to speak of the Holy Texts they were copying, usually upon punishment of death in most cases.

Coupled and compounded by the problems unique to the state of the technology in regards to information transmittance specific to the age, I guess that much is to be expected of what and how the conditions will or does allow.

~ As to whether there was a definitive purposeful desire or plan to mislead, I guess that's pretty much a subjective view best left to those who knows more or has the evidence to present their case one way or the other.

`

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eight bits

3rd eye

We probably can agree that a chain of handwritten copies stretching back almost two thousand years is bound to have fidelity problems.

Ironically, it may be better if the only thing the copyist knows is the alphabet, otherwise it is almost inevitable that the "copyist" will become an "editor," correcting "spelling mistakes" (that is, changing the wording), "cleaning up" the grammar (changing the sense of the sentence), and adding "explanations" of difficult concepts. All the while, of course, making mechanical copying errors of one's own.

I'm content that not all errors are intentional, not all intentional errors arise from an intent to change (the copyist may think he is "recovering" the true original), and not all errors made intentionally to change are intentionally to mislead.

If the TF were faked to mislead, then it would look like what the "academic consensus" comes up with when they claim that there was some original version. That is, the forgery would look like something that isn't immediately recognized as fake. On the other hand, if the existing TF is fantasy wish fulfilment that has migrated into the text, then it will look like what we have in hand: what a Jew could be made to say about Jesus under duress.

We do have evidence of fantasy in copying "Secret Mark" (searchable) is a "copy" of an otherwise unattested letter from Clement of Alexandria, which refers to sections of the Gospel that no longer exist. It is a blatant homoerotic confection (Jesus gets it on with the risen and oh so grateful Lazarus, to make a short story even shorter).

There is no evidence that Secret Mark was produced by the scholar who found it (Morton Smith, now dead, then a professor of ancient history at Coumbia University). It was produced by somebody in a monastery, and in modern times, based on physical evidence. In other words, it was written by a monk with time on his hands. The qulaity of the composition is excellent, even with up-to-date methods, we cannot completely eliminate the possibility that it was copied from something written by Clement.

Once written, it found its way into a monastery library. It is just a matter of luck, maybe, that it wasn't transmitted forward first as an authentic letter, and then secondarily as a "correction" to the text of Mark.

Edited by eight bits
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third_eye

Well , maybe St Augustine had it right after all ... in a sense of the word ... :)

~

Papal Infallibility: The Catholic-Protestant Debate over Papal Infallibility

Article ID: DC170-4 | By: Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie

The following is an excerpt from article DC170-4 of the Christian Research Journal. The full PDF can be viewed by following the link below the excerpt.

Papal Infallibility- A Summary

Papal infallibility was formalized at the First Vatican Council, A.D. 1870. It is required belief for Roman Catholics but is rejected by evangelicals. On examination, the major biblical texts used to defend this dogma do not support the Catholic position. Further, there are serious theological and historical problems with the doctrine of papal infallibility. Infallibility stands as an irrevocable roadblock to any ecclesiastical union between Catholics and Protestants.

According to Roman Catholic dogma, the teaching magisterium of the church of Rome is infallible when officially defining faith and morals for believers. One manifestation of this doctrine is popularly known as “papal infallibility.” It was pronounced a dogma in A.D. 1870 at the First Vatican Council. Since this is a major bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants, it calls for attention here.

~

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eight bits

The second installment of the "Jesus and Josephus" series has appeared. The dicey passage this time is from Josephus' Jewish War, wherein we read many omens of the destruction of Jerusalem seen during the 60's. The omens range from Halley's Comet to a cow giving birth to a lamb.

Within that range, one omen that seems to have made a big impact on Jospehus' readers is that one night, priests heard strange and not-quite human voices coming from inside the Temple, apparently during a small earthquake. The voices said "Let's get out of here" (or words to that effect).

Tacitus, who was a priest of the Roman state religion, retold the incident in his own terse way. His version, however, improved some details (the massive inner doors of the Temple swung open by themselves, something which supposedly also happened, but on a different occasion), and the voices were those of the gods, plural. A Jewish miracle is thus reworked into a pagan miracle.

Jerome, who was a priest of the Christian religion, made an even bigger change than Tacitus in even fewer words. The incident supposedly happened while Jesus was being crucified, and Jerome said that is what Josephus wrote. A Jewish or pagan miracle is thus reworked into a Christian miracle.

If Jerome's version had stuck, that would have been a third "non-Christian testimony" to the historical Jesus from the First Century. It didn't, and so we dasn't doubt that the two mentions of Jesus that did stick were 100% genuine Josephus.

https://uncertaintis...call-a-miracle/

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third_eye

It was all Judaic if not totally Jewish in those days , irrespective if Roman or Gentile regardless ~

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eight bits

Another interesting bit on the "stolen miracle" theme. This is a talk given by Richard Carrier. It's an hour, but the opening third is especially interesting, I think.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was fighting the barbarians in the Czech region of Europe. One of his legions got surrounded and cut off, with no water supply during a hot summer. On the point of surrender, somebody called on a god and PRESTO! rain fell on the parched troops, while thunder and hail fell on the surrounding bad guys. The Romans rallied and won a decisive victory.

Christians promptly claimed credit for the miracle and at least in the West, only the Christian writings about the event survived. A thousand years later, however, a Greek manuscript that had survived in Eastern Europe made its way westward. This was the first westerners had ever heard that there was a pagan version of the incident.

Carrier does a good job, IMO, making the case that the pagan version was the original, and the Christians stole the credit for their God.

The rest of the talk is enjoyable, too. At the end, Carrier has some remarks about historical method that might nterest many.

The document in question is available in English translation at

http://www.livius.or...legio/rain.html

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eight bits

Installment 3 weighs in. The task this time is to estimate what Josephus could have written about Jesus. Maybe nothing, of course, but there is a plausible 10th Century Arabic version of the Testimony by Agapius of Hierapolis.

Agapius' version may be based solely on his own judgment about what he had read in Eusebius (the obvously faked Testimony), and not based on Agapius having read any other version of Josephus than what we have. Even so, it would be an expert estimate of what Josephus might have written, adjusted a bit for 10th Century audiences who are already familar with Christianity, something that would have been a novelty in the 1st Century.

Taking this and other factors into account, the blog proposes the following "upper bound" estimate on what Josephus might have written,

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, a teacher. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. They thought Jesus was the Christ. When Pilate had condemned him to the cross, those that had loved him did not forsake him, for they said he appeared to them alive again the third day. The divine prophets had foretold wonderful things about the Christ. Christians, so named from Jesus, are not extinct to this day.

Although the styles are different, the actual information content is very similar to what Tacitus wrote 15 - 20 years later,

... a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Chrestians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease...

Neither one offers much support for the existence of Jesus. Both are explaining the origin and content of Christianity as told by Christians. There is no evidence whatsoever of any independent investigation into the reality of Jesus as a man by either historian. Indeed, Tacitus' "invetsigation" may have been to read and rewrite Josephus, as we saw him doing in the last installment regarding the voices in the Temple.

Conclude: This evidence offers as much support for a historical Jesus as the same team, Josephus and Tacitus, offers for the reality of gods or angels having been overheard deciding to leave town. In both cases, Josephus heard a story and wrote it down for Tacitus to read and rewrite to suit his agenda.

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/josephus-and-jesus-iii-estimating-a-plausible-testimony/

Edited by eight bits
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Hawkins

Under normal circumstance, no secular government nor secular historian will serious record down supernatural or paranormal activities. Not yesterday, not today and not tomorrow.

This is the rule of thumb, it happens that Josephus is a religious Jews that he chose to record down briefly from a religious perspective simply because he paid attention to religious matters unlike any other historians.

The argument that "because the lack of secular document about Jesus such that He's not a historical figure" is thus a straw man.

Edited by Hawkins

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eight bits

Hawkins

The argument that "because the lack of secular document about Jesus such that He's not a historical figure" is thus a straw man.

I am not sure what you're getting at. To be a straw man, an argument must be offered as a rebuttal. The absence of any surviving non-Christian mention of Jesus for two or more generations after his estimated date of death is simpy an observation of fact. It's not a "rebuttal" (unless used or misused that way in some specific debate), and so not inherently a straw man.

When the mentions come, whether by Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius or Pliny, they are in the context of providing information about the early Christian church. These mentions are ineffective for establishing Jesus as a historical figure, but possibly shed some light on the first century of the church. Historians cannot be blamed if the dead Jesus (or maybe just the idea of a fleetingly dead Jesus) was more influential than the living one (assuming there ever was a living one).

This is the rule of thumb, it happens that Josephus is a religious Jews that he chose to record down briefly from a religious perspective simply because he paid attention to religious matters unlike any other historians.

Tacitus was a devoted elite priest of the state religion, and "paid attention to religious matters." Pliny famously speculated about ghosts, in a letter where he also discusses a government official consulting with the local goddess of Africa. Suetonius' history includes supernatural elements in connection with the Emperor cults.

I am unsure what ancient historians you're thinking of. The early big ones who are said to talk about Jesus' church all have lots to say about subjects with supernatural and paranormal content,

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eight bits

Part 4 (and the end) of the blog series on Josephus and Jesus is online:

https://uncertaintis...-a-new-brother/

The emphasis this time is the "brother of Jesus called Christ" attributed to Josephus in his Antiquities.

There is no way to authenticate what finally comes to down to two Greek words. Josephus' story of James has two other Jesuses in it, either one of whom would make narrative sense if he were James' brother.

The case for authenticity turns on remarks from Origen which use the otherwise rare "called Christ" phrase. Although the God Squad sometimes can be caught saying that Origen "quotes" these words from Josephus, that is a conclusion, not an observation.

What is observed is that Origen used the term, which is also used three times in the Gospel of Matthew. That is significant since Origen was working on a commentary on that Gospel while discussing Josephus.

What Origen describes about James simply isn't in Josephus. Origen is visibly not quoting Josephus, he is misremembering something he read elsewhere.

We have had many discussion here of the "academic consensus" and how august its teachings are. There is probably no clearer demonstration of the intellectual bankruptcy of the consensus than its treatment of these two or three words. The words are at best suspect; this James is fairly confidently the brother of a Temple high priest.

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