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Jesus of Nazareth is possibly mentioned in two passages of the work The Antiquities of the Jews by the Jewish historian Josephus, written in the late first century AD. One passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, discusses the career of Jesus. The authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum has been disputed since the 17th century, although most modern scholars agree that it is partially authentic.[1] The second passage mentions Jesus as the brother of a James, possibly James the Just. Most scholars consider this passage genuine.[2]


Testimonium Flavianum

The following passage appears in the Greek version of Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64, in the translation of William Whiston:

Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον   Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή: ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν  Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ   Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο: ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες: ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.

3.3 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.

The first to cite this passage of Antiquities was Eusebius, writing in about 324, who quotes the passage [3] in essentially the same form (he has πολλους των Ιουδαιων instead of πολλους Ιουδαιους, and inserts απο before του Ελληνικου).

As usual with ancient texts, the surviving sources for The Antiquities of the Jews are Greek manuscripts, all minuscules, the oldest of which dates from the 11th century.[4] The text of Antiquities appears to have been transmitted in two halves — books 1–10 and books 11–20. But other ad hoc copies of this passage also exist.

The topic of the Testimonium's authenticity has attracted much scholarly discussion. This discussion generally falls into three camps of:

  • Those who defend the entire authenticity of the passage;
  • Those who reject the entire passage;
  • Those who believe the passage has an authentic core but also includes later embellishments by Christian scribes.[5]

Recent scholarly discussion has favoured partial authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum.[6] Louis Feldman counts 87 articles published during the period of 1937-1980, "the overwhelming majority of which question its authenticity in whole or in part".[7]

Géza Vermes offers a speculative reconstruction of the original text of the Testimonium Flavianum, removing later Christian interpolations, indicating deletions with '...': [8]

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man...For he was one who performed paradoxical deeds and was the teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews [and many Greeks?]. He was [called] the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him...And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.


Arguments against authenticity


The Christian author Origen wrote around the year 240. His writings predate both the earliest known manuscripts of the Testimonium and the earliest quotations of the Testimonium by other writers. In his surviving works Origen fails to mention the Testimonium Flavianum, even though he was clearly familiar with the Antiquities of the Jews, since he mentions the reference by Josephus to Jesus as brother of James, which occurs later in Antiquities of the Jews (xx.9), and also other passages from Antiquities such as the passage about John the Baptist which occurs in the same chapter (xviii) as the Testimonium.[4] Furthermore, Origen states that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as the Christ" [9] "he did not accept Jesus as Christ" [10], but the Testimonium declares Jesus to be Christ. Thus it could be inferred that the version of Antiquities available to Origen did not give as positive an endorsement of Jesus as the present-day Testimonium.

On the other hand, while the evidence from Origen suggests that Josephus did not write the Testimonium in its current form, it also demonstrates, according to some scholars, that the version of the Antiquities known to Origen must have written something about Jesus, for otherwise Origen would have no reason to make the claim that Josephus "did not accept Jesus as Christ." [11] It is possible, for example, that Origen read the original version of the Testimonium Flavianum, which textual evidence from Jerome and Michael the Syrian (see below) indicates was worded "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ." According to Alice Whealey, this original version was also probably what Eusebius also had at his disposal.[12] Whealey has argued that the wording of Michael the Syrian's Testimonium in particular, which employs the word mistabra, meaning "was supposed," has a skeptical connotation, as evidenced in the Syriac New Testament where it is used to translate Greek enomizeto of Luke 3:23. She has argued that Origen's probable exposure to a reading like Greek enomizeto (corresponding to the Syriac mistabra) in the original version of the Testimonium would readily explain Origen's statement that Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ.[13]

Early Christian writers other than Origen

The absence of clear references to the Testimonium is consistent throughout the work of the Christian writers and apologists of the years A.D. 100-300.[4] It is never clearly mentioned by any author of those two centuries, Christian or otherwise, although it is possible that Origen alludes to it indirectly (see above).

It has been suggested by older scholars that since Justin Martyr makes no mention of the Testimonium in his efforts to persuade the rabbi Trypho in the Dialog With Trypho the Jew [14], the text must not have existed since it would have been an "extremely effective answer" [4] to Trypho. However, this argument is noticeably weak since there is no evidence that Justin Martyr was familiar with the works of Josephus.[15] Moreover, there is no evidence that any early Christian apologists used Josephus' works in apologies directed at Jews.[16] Early writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome do not draw on the Testimonium for anti-Jewish apologetic reasons; rather, they use the text for anti-pagan apologetics.[17] The earliest use of the Testimonium for anti-Jewish disputation appears in an anonymous late fourth century Latin text, known conventionally as Pseudo-Hegesippus's 'De excidio Hierosolymitano.' [18].

Indeed, although some Christians before Origen had read parts of 'Jewish War' and 'Against Apion' it is not clear that any Christian before Origen had read 'Antiquities' at all [19], and none before Origen makes any clear reference to Book 18 of Antiquities, where the Testimonium appears.[20] Against this, Feldman had written that "no fewer than eleven church fathers prior to or contemporary with Eusebius cite various passages from Josephus (including the Antiquities) but not the Testimonium".[4] However, both Michael Hardwick and Alice Whealey have conducted a closer reading of ante-Nicene Christian texts that cite or have been assumed to cite 'Antiquities' than Feldman and other earlier scholars, and both conclude that some prior assumptions that 'Antiquities' is cited are mistaken or debatable. For example, it is has been shown by Michael Hardwick that Tertullian (ca. 193) had read Josephus' 'Against Apion' rather than 'Antiquities', as is sometimes assumed. Tertullian's reference to "antiqitatum Judaicarum" (Apol. 19) is not a reference to 'Antiquities,' but rather a reference to 'Against Apion,' which in ancient times was known as "The antiquity [i.e. ancient-ness] of the Jews." [21] Hardwick argues that contrary to the assumption of some older scholars [22], not only is it not clear that Tertullian had ever read 'Antiquities' but it is not clear that any other writer of the Western church other than Tertullian was directly acquainted with any of Josephus' works at all.[23]

Whealey expresses even more skepticism about Christians before Origen citing 'Antiquities' than Hardwick. For example, she argues that the authenticity of one catena fragment citing Book 2 of 'Antiquities' attributed to Irenaeus is debatable because catenae were often miscopied. In any case, as she has pointed out, even if the attribution to Irenaeus is accurate, it is clear that Irenaeus was unfamiliar with Book 18 of 'Antiquities' since he wrongly claims that Jesus was executed by Pilate in the reign of Claudius (Dem. ev. ap. 74), while Antiquities 18.89 indicates that Pilate was deposed during the reign of Tiberius, before Claudius.[24] As for writers of the Eastern church, Clement of Alexandria vaguely refers (Stromata 1.147) to Josephus' historical writings in a way that indicates that he knew directly or indirectly the claim of Jewish War 6.440 that there were 1179 years between David and the second year of Vespasian. Direct familiarity with 'Antiquities' is, however, unclear in this passage. Clement's claim that there were 585 years between Moses and David may be based on Antiquities 8.61, which says that there were 592 years between the Exodus and the Temple, if one assumes that he subtracted the four years of Solomon's reign, and that a copying error was responsible for Clement's text reading 585 instead of 588. But what this conjectural explanation for Clement's claim about 585 years shows (a figure that does not explicitly appear in Antiquities) shows is that it is far from clear that Clement had direct acquaintance with Josephus' Antiquities. [25][26]

Vocabulary and style

It has been claimed that some of the passage fails a standard test for authenticity, in that it contains vocabulary not otherwise used by Josephus[27]; for example, the Testimonium uses the Greek term poietes with the meaning "doer" (as part of the phrase "doer of wonderful works"), but elsewhere Josephus only uses the term poietes to mean "poet," while it is Eusebius who uses poietes to mean "doer of wonderful works" when referring to Jesus.[28][29][30]. However, it has been argued that Eusebius' use of the term "doer of wonderful works" for Jesus (and in later works for God) is evidence of the influence of the Testimonium's vocabulary on his own vocabulary about Jesus (and by extension about God in later works), rather than evidence of his fabrication of the Testimonium.[31]

On the other hand, it has been argued by many modern scholars that much of the vocabulary and grammar of the passage coheres well with Josephus' style and language. John P. Meier, for example, states that the vocabulary and grammar of the passage (after the clearly Christian material is removed) cohere well with Josephus' style and language...almost every word in the core of the "Testimonium" is found elsewhere in Josephus---in fact, most of the vocabulary turns out to be characteristic of Josephus[32]. C. Guignebert has claimed that Josephus's style is not difficult to imitate, so that vocabulary proves little one way or the other.[33]

The brief and compact character of the Testimonium stands in stark contrast to Josephus' more voluminous detailing[34] of other individuals, even including those of minor importance[35]; for example, Josephus' account of John the Baptist and his death, describes his virtues, the theology associated with his baptismal practices, his oratorial skills, that John's influence was so great that Herod was afraid of John's ability to incite the people to rebel against his regime, the circumstances of his death, and the belief that the destruction of Herod's army was a divine punishment for Herod's slaughter of John[36].

Interruption to the text

The paragraph before the Testimonium flows naturally into the paragraph after it, which might indicate either that the entire paragraph is a later insertion, or that it was substantially rewritten. As Guiguebert put it, "the short digression, even with the proposed corrections, interrupts the thread of the discourse into which it is introduced".[37] On the other hand, this argument has been rejected as inconclusive or unconvincing by some modern scholars, who have argued that Josephus was a "patchwork" writer, who often employed such digressive techniques, inserting passages, sometimes based on barely revised sources, that do not fit smoothly with, and sometimes even contradict, surrounding narratives.[38]

Josephus's faith

It is often argued that "He was [the] Christ" can only be read as a profession of faith, and Josephus was almost certainly not a Christian, instead remaining a conventional Jew; Josephus' lack of Christianity was even mentioned by early Christian writers prior to Eusebius, such as Origen[39] (as noted above). For example, John Dominic Crossan has put it this way:The problem here is that Josephus' account is too good to be true, too confessional to be impartial, too Christian to be Jewish[40].

Consequently, some scholars regard at least certain parts of the Testimonium as later interpolations. In particular three passages stood out[40]:

  • 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

The phrase "he was the Christ" has been viewed as particularly problematic because it seems to indicate that the author thought that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Some scholars have argued that Josephus thought that Jewish messianic promises were fulfilled in Vespasian[41], and view it as unlikely that Josephus would explain too clearly or underline too sharply the existence of alternative messianic fulfilments before Vespasian.[42] In contrast, it has been argued by some[43] that the phrase "he was the Christ" was meant as an identification only, rather than an assertion of Jesus' Messiahship, since the audience for the work were Romans of the late first century, and the earliest extant Roman writers, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger, writing shortly after Josephus in the early second century, identify Jesus as Christus, rather than Jesus, without implying anything about Jesus' Messianic status.

In addition, although the standard text says "he was the Christ", a recent study by Alice Whealey has argued that a variant Greek text of this sentence existed in the 4th century — He was believed to be the Christ[44]; following Whealey's argument, the standard text would represent a corruption of the original, namely the loss of the main verb and a subsequent scribal "correction" of the prolative infinitive.[citation needed]

Alleged Anachronisms

A different question is whether the passage has anachronisms. It has been argued by some that the passages "if it is right to call him a man," "he was the Christ" and "he appeared to them alive again" seem directly to address Christological debates of the early 4th century. On the other hand, by the early 4th century Christological debate was centered mainly on much narrower (some would say hairsplitting) questions, particularly whether Jesus was of the "same substance" (consubstantial/homoousios) with God or not, which was hotly debated at the First Council of Nicaea and several subsequent church councils. Christological debate by the early 4th century was not centered on the much broader points in the Testimonium: whether Jesus was a man, whether he was the Messiah, or whether he appeared alive to his disciples after death. There are indications in the New Testament [where?] that the latter three questions, whether Jesus was a man, whether he was the Messiah, and whether he appeared alive after death to his disciples were contentious issues among various church groups, as well as between Christians and non-Christians, as early as the first century. Thus a text containing these points could certainly date from the first century.


The entire passage is also found in one Greek manuscript of Josephus' earlier work, The Jewish War. (This Greek manuscript of "Jewish War" with an interpolated Testimonium is known as the "Codex Vossianus.") A passage about Jesus that appears to have been inspired by the Testimonium, but that differs widely from it in content also appears in an Old Russian adaptation of "Jewish War" written c.1250.[45] Interestingly, the passage dealing with Jesus is not the only significant difference between the Old Russian and Greek versions of "Jewish War." Robert Eisler has suggested[46] that it was produced from one of Josephus's drafts (noting that the "Slavonic Version" has Josephus escaping his fellow Jews at Jotapata when "he counted the numbers [of the lot cast in the suicide pact] cunningly and so managed to deceive all the others", which is in striking contrast to the conventional version's account:

"Without hesitation each man in turn offered his throat for the next man to cut, in the belief that a moment later his commander would die too. Life was sweet, but not so sweet as death if Josephus died with them! But Josephus - shall we put it down to divine providence or just luck - was left with one other man....he used persuasion, they made a pact, and both remained alive."[47]

Other unique passages in the Old Russian version of "Jewish War" include accounts of John the Baptist, Jesus's ministry (along with his death and resurrection), and the activities of the early church.

Alleged fabrication by Eusebius

Ken Olson has argued that the Testimonium was fabricated by Eusebius of Caesarea, who was the first author to quote it in his Demonstratio Evangelica.[48] Olson argues that the specific wording of the Testimonium is suspiciously closely related to the argument Eusebius makes in his Demonstratio, in particular that Jesus is a "wise man" and not a "wizard", as shown by the fact that his followers did not desert him even after he was crucified. Eusebius himself writes that: shall be legitimate and appropriate to use lies as a remedy....[49]

The argument that Eusebius fabricated the Testimonium is supported by some authors, such as Marshall Gauvin[50] and Earl Doherty[51]. According to Gauvin, "Had the passage been in the works of Josephus which they knew, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen and Clement of Alexandria would have been eager to hurl it at their Jewish opponents in their many controversies. But it did not exist." Furthermore, according to Gauvin, Eusebius had written in his Demonstratio Evangelica, (Book III, pg. 124), "Certainly the attestations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss, if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness." However, Whealey has already shown that Gauvin's assumption that ante-Nicene Christians were "eager to hurl" anything from any of Josephus' works in controversies directed at Jews is unsupported by the extant evidence. Likewise unsupported is Gauvin's assumption that Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria knew Josephus' works generally and "Antiquities" specifically well enough to know of the Testimonium.[52] Regarding Olson's arguments about Eusebian fabrication, Carleton Paget [53] and Whealey [54] have criticized them on stylistic and other grounds.

One of the earliest ecclesiastical authorities to condemn the Testimonium Flavianum as a forgery was Bishop Warburton of Gloucester (circa 1770), who condemned it as a particularly "stupid" forgery.[citation needed] On the other hand, because modern stylometric studies, which use a concordance of Josephus' works that did not exist before the twentieth century, has revealed some Josephan vocabulary and phrases (see above), it has more recently been argued that even "some proponents of the forgery thesis would agree that it is a good one" (i.e. good forgery).[55]

Arguments in favor of authenticity or partial authenticity

Until the 16th century, Christian writers took the position that Josephus wrote the Testimonium in its current form. Many modern scholars do claim that Josephus did write something about Jesus which has been corrupted, in an unspecific quantity, in the surviving Greek text.[6]

Arabic version

In 1971, Shlomo Pines, a Jewish professor, published a translation of a different version of the Testimonium, quoted in an Arabic manuscript of the tenth century. The manuscript in question appears in the Book of the Title written by Agapius the historian, a 10th-century Arabic Christian and Melkite bishop of Hierapolis Bambyce (Manbij). Agapius' version of the Testimonium reads:

For he says in the treatises that he has written in the governance of the Jews: "At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders" - Shlomo Pines' translation, quoted by J. D. Crossan

The text that Pines gives is mainly derived from the quotation of this portion of Agapius in the later Arabic Christian historian, Al-Makin, which contains extra material not found in the Florence manuscript that alone preserves the second half of Agapius.

Pines suggests that Agapius' Testimonium may be a more accurate record of what Josephus wrote, lacking as it does the parts which have often been considered to have been added by Christian copyists. He argued that this would add weight to the argument that Josephus did write something about Jesus.

However, Pines' theory, that Agapius' text largely reflects what Josephus wrote has not been widely accepted. The fact that even the title of Josephus's work is inaccurate suggests that Agapius is paraphrasing his source, which may explain the discrepancies with the Greek version.[56] Agapius explicitly claims that he used a lost, older Syriac chronicle by Theophilus of Edessa (d. 785) to write his chronicle. This suggests that his Testimonium is also a paraphrase of a Syriac version of the Testimonium.[57] Moreover, because of some linguistic parallels between Agapius' Testimonium, the Testimonium of Michael the Syrian (see above and below) and that of the Syriac translation of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiasica, Alice Whealey has argued that Agapius' passage is a paraphrase of a Testimonium taken from the Syriac translation of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica that differed from the textus receptus in several ways, but most significantly in reading "he was thought to be the Christ." [58]

In addition, it has been suggested that Agapius' statement that Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified and to die was a response to the Muslim belief that Jesus did not really die on the cross. However, this aspect of Agapius' Testimonium is not unique, since a similarly enhanced reference to Jesus' death independently appears in Michael the Syrian's Testimonium and in one other Syriac Testimonium deriving from the Syriac translation of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica.[59] This parallel is one more piece of evidence indicating that Agapius' text is an Arabic paraphrase of a literal Syriac translation of the Testimonium.

Syriac version

Pines also refers to the Syriac translation of the Testimonium cited by Michael the Syrian in his World Chronicle. It was left to Alice Whealey to point out that Michael's text in fact is identical with Jerome's translation of the Testimonium at the most contentious point ("He was the Christ" becoming "He was believed to be the Christ"), establishing the existence of a variant that must go back to a Greek manuscript, since Latin and Syriac writers did not read each others' works in late antiquity, but both commonly read and translated Greek Christian texts.

Literary connection with the Gospel of Luke

In 1995, G. J. Goldberg, using a digital database of ancient literature, identified a possible literary connection between Josephus and the Gospel of Luke. He found a number of coincidences in word choice and word order, though not in exact wording, between the entire Josephus passage on Jesus and a summary of the life of Jesus in Luke 24:19-21, 26-27, called the "Emmaus narrative":

And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. ... Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.[60]

Goldberg points out explicit similarities in the Greek text, including a grammatical form of "the third day" which exists only in these two texts, and nowhere else in Christian literature; an unusual introduction of the first-person plural; as well as other consistent peculiarities of order and style that, he argues, have no parallel in other Jesus descriptions. From these, Goldberg writes that "The conclusion that can therefore be drawn is that Josephus and Luke derived their passages from a common Christian (or Jewish-Christian) source." Goldberg points out that Josephus' phrases "if it be lawful to call him a man," "He was [the] Christ," "he appeared to them," and "And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day," have no parallel in Luke's passage, and takes this to support the position that the first two short phrases are Christian interpolations, while the latter two form the context of the Emmaus text and so were available to be transmitted by Josephus. Luke contains the phrases "but besides all this," four sentences on the women who witnessed the tomb, and "the Christ should suffer," for which there is no counterpart in Josephus' text; unless referred to in the summary "these and countless other marvelous things about him".[61]

An alternate theory has been argued by Steve Mason who proposes that Luke-Acts may have used Josephus as a source.[62]

Reference to Jesus as brother of James

The other reference in the works of Josephus often cited to support the historicity of Jesus is also in the Antiquities, in the first paragraph of book 20, chapter 9. It concerns the execution of a man whom traditional scholarship identifies as James the Just.

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.[63]

The above quotation from the Antiquities is considered authentic in its entirety by almost all scholars.[2] One reason for accepting its authenticity is that unlike the Testimonium, the passage was mentioned in several places by Origen. Emil Schürer was one scholar who rejected the entire passage, largely on the a priori grounds that Josephus wanted to avoid mentioning Jewish belief in a Messiah to his Roman readers.[64]

George Albert Wells has conjectured that the words "who was called Christ" were not in the original passage, the words having originated as a marginal note by a Christian copyist, which later became accidentally incorporated into the main body of the text.[65] This passage, and the Testimonium are the only two times that Josephus uses the word "Christ".

Josephus does not mention the martyrdom of James in his Jewish War. There he connects the fall of Jerusalem to the death of someone else - the very person responsible for the death of James as mentioned in the Antiquities. Josephus writing in Jewish War says:[66]

I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city (of Jerusalem), and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city.

See also


  1. ^ J.P. Meir, "Jesus in Josephus: A Modest Proposal," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52 (1990): 76-103.
  2. ^ a b Louis H. Feldman, "Josephus" Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 990-1.
  3. ^ McGiffert, Arthur Cushman. "Paragraph 7 of "Chapter XI.—Testimonies in Regard to John the Baptist and Christ" from Book I of Eusebius' "The Church History."". Retrieved 2007-08-12.  (From the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol. 1, edited by Philip Schaff.)
  4. ^ a b c d e Feldman (1989), p. 431
  5. ^ Edwin M. Yamauchi, Jesus Outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence? p. 212.
  6. ^ a b See Louis H. Feldman, Josephus: A supplementary bibliography (New York, 1986) 618-619; 677.
  7. ^ Feldman (1989), p. 430
  8. ^ Geza Vermes, Jesus in the eyes of Josephus, Standpoint Jan/Feb 2010
  9. ^ Origen, Against Celsus, i:47
  10. ^ Origen, Commentary on Matthew, x:17
  11. ^ Vermes, Geza (2003). Jesus in His Jewish Context. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0800636236. 
  12. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 41;190.
  13. ^ Whealey (2008) p. 581
  14. ^ Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew
  15. ^ Hardwick (1989), pp. 37-46
  16. ^ Whealey (2003), p. 11.
  17. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 27-29.
  18. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 11, 14-15, 28-29, 34
  19. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 7-11.
  20. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 7-8, 11.
  21. ^ Hardwick (1989), pp. 49-50.
  22. ^ Lost and Hostile Gospels, Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould
  23. ^ 'Josephus as an historical source' Hardwick p. 112
  24. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 7-8
  25. ^ Whealey (2003) p. 8
  26. ^ Hardwick (1989), p. 31
  27. ^ Complete Concordance to Flavius Josephus, edited by K. H. Rengstorff, 2002.
  28. ^ Eusebius, Demonstration of the Gospels, 3:5
  29. ^ Eusebius, History of the Church, 1:2:23
  30. ^ Ken Olson, Eusebian Fabrication of the Testimonium (2001)
  31. ^ Alice Whealey notes in particular that Eusebius does not commonly use the word poietes to mean "doer" for anyone except Jesus or God; thus poietes meaning "doer" in general was "not Eusebius' typical mode of expression." Alice Whealey (2007), p. 83; also pp. 80-83; 115.
  32. ^ John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the historical Jesus. Volume I. (New York, 1991) 62; 80-83.
  33. ^ "It may be admitted that the style of Josephus has been cleverly imitated, a not very difficult matter ...", Jesus by C. Guignebert, University Books, New York, 1956, p. 17.
  34. ^ Raphael Patai, The Jewish mind (1996), page 84
  35. ^ Marshall Gauvin, Did Jesus Christ Really Live? (1922), preserved in the University of Manitoba Archives (MSS 47, PC 36, box 15, folder 13), and available online
  36. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:5:2
  37. ^ Jesus by C. Guignebert, University Books, New York, 1956, p. 17
  38. ^ John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (New York, 1991) p. 86, n. 54. Meier cites H. St. John Thackeray, Charles Martin and other scholars who reject the argument that the Testimonium must be an interpolation because it seems to break its surrounding narrative thread.
  39. ^ Origen, Contra Celsus, 1:47
  40. ^ a b John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Peasant
  41. ^ John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus, page 199
  42. ^ John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus, page 199.
  43. ^ Meier, Marginal Jew, p. 73 n. 14; 76-77 n. 26.
  44. ^ "The Testimonium Flavium Controversy from Antiquity to the Present" Alice Wealey, 2000
  45. ^ pgs 470-471, appendix F of The Jewish War, Josephus. (trans. G. A. Williamson; introduction, notes and appendixes E. Mary Smallwood. Penguin Books, Penguin Classics imprint, 1981. ISBN 0-14-044420-3)
  46. ^ Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas ("Jesus the King Who Never Reigned"), by Robert Eisler. Published in Heidelberg in 1929.
  47. ^ pg 220 The Jewish War, Josephus. (trans. G. A. Williamson; introduction, notes and appendixes E. Mary Smallwood. Penguin Books, Penguin Classics imprint, 1981. ISBN 0-14-044420-3)
  48. ^ "Eusebian fabrications: the Testimonium Flavianum" Ken Olson. July 29, 2000.
  49. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, 12:31
  50. ^ Did Jesus Christ Really Live?
  51. ^ CritiqueFour-3
  52. ^ Whealey (2003), pp. 7-11.
  53. ^ Carleton Paget,'Josephus and Christianity' p. 562, 577-578.
  54. ^ Whealey (2007), pp. 73-116
  55. ^ Josephus and Christianity Carlton Paget p. 575-576
  56. ^ Louis Feldman and Gohei Hata, Josephus, the Bible, and History (1989), p. 433.
  57. ^ Whealey (2008, pp.) 575-578.
  58. ^ Whealey (2008), pp. 580-587.
  59. ^ Whealey (2008) pp.582-585.
  60. ^ English Standard Version translation of Luke 24:16-28
  61. ^ Goldberg, G. J. The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus. The Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 13 (1995), pp. 59-77
  62. ^ Steve Mason, "Josephus and Luke-Acts," Josephus and the New Testament (Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody, Massachusetts, 1992), pp. 185-229
  63. ^ Online Reader - Project Gutenberg
  64. ^ Whealey (2003), p. 170.
  65. ^ George Albert Wells, Did Jesus Exist?, (1986) Pemberton Publishing Co., p. 11
  66. ^ Josephus, Jewish War 4.5.2


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