Christian Censorship in Josephus

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ajwps, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. ajwps
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    ajwps Active Member

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    Discussion: Insertion of Jesus in Josephus history around time of Jesus.

    continued on post 2
     
  2. ajwps
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    ajwps Active Member

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  3. grannys01
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    It was very enlightening to read your hypothysis of Christsing editing of Josephus. I can use it in my Sunday School class. We sometimes use Josephus's works as background material but your critical review puts a new and wecomed perspective to history.

    Pat
     
  4. ajwps
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    ajwps Active Member

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    Dear Pat,

    My recent post is not my hypothysis as I have simply used a copy and paste quote from a research site.

    I wish that my knowledge of Josephus was as complete as the points put forth in this report. All I am aware of is the fact that Josephus was born shortly after the time generally accepted crucifixion of one Jesus Christ.

    The use of another's works by adding or inserting new ions that promote something that never existed is a significant violatio of another's works.

    Obviously there is no way of speaking with the historian himself but scientific investigation of word usage, context consistency and the like are very relevant in any such conclusion of text alteration as well as the points brought forth in the previous copy of the research paper.

    One might think that an event such as described in the NT as the sun being blot out or even the killing (crucifixion) of a relative of or a god would have been a very significant part of the historians text. But alas only two small sections refer to a man called Jesus when in truth, the Greek name Jesus was not used by the people living in the Roman empire's land of Israel at that time. A complete copy of the works of Josephus can be found at the following site. (with possible later inclusions into his original works)

    http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/JOSEPHUS.HTM

    Good luck with your class and it is brave of you to even use this research in your Sunday school discussions.
     
  5. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    ajwps,

    Very interesting post on Josephus. As I stated before, I haven't done a lot of research into his works or his life. I have two points from the article you posted, though.

    1. The supposed insertion of a favorable text about Jesus. There are two reasons I see, of the top of my head, why Christians would not have done this. First, no Christians in the 2nd-4th centuries A.D. would have expected a favorable writing about Jesus from a Jewish historian. If that passage had pooped up all of a sudden, and older versions existed that omitted that passage, it would have obviously been exposed as a lie. Second, the time that the supposed forgery came into being, according to dates given in the article, was between 250-320 A.D. At this time, Christians were still a persecuted minority in the Roman empire, and while mainstream acceptance of Christianity was growing, it was not until 312 A.D. that Constatine even became emperor, giving only eight years for Christians , as it were, to conspire to change Josephus's works, execute the change, and have the forgery accepted as a genuine part of his works.

    2. The Acts of Pilate: (p.s. I added letters to the logic steps)

    I take issue with step C. The Christian canon had been agreed on in 397, but by 220 AD, most books in today's NT were recognized as Scripture by most, if not all, of the Christian world. The books were considered as such because of their spiritual and theological value, not necessarily because of its historical value. Thus, this book would have never been considered canonical, regardless.
    Step E is also faulty logic. Basically, it says, "If A, then B. B is true. Therefore, A is true." But this is not necessarily so. B (in this case, claims of forgery) could have been made regardless of whether those claims were true. That kind of claim, however, would be hard to disprove. Thus, the claim sticks.
    Step F, IMO, is the bastard child of the faulty logic of steps C and E. I fail to see why the lack of existence of the Acts of Pilate are some kind of proof that Christians conspired to erase any unfavorable history about them.

    I'll offer one more reason to support it:

    Altering the Acts of Pilate to put the crucifixion in 21 AD instead of 30 AD, as is now commonly recognized, took the change of an X to an I (30=XXX, 21=XXI). Much simpler.
     
  6. ajwps
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    Apparently Jeff you have attempted a great deal of thought at refuting this post. Let’s take a closer look at your logic points.

    1. “The supposed insertion of a favorable text about Jesus. There are two reasons I see, of the top of my head, why Christians would not have done this.”

    “First, no Christians in the 2nd-4th centuries A.D. would have expected a favorable writing about Jesus from a Jewish historian.”

    For your first point to be valid you must initially assume that there existed references to Jesus’ events in any historical records available and then put to pen by Josephus. Then you must assume that any 2 – 4 AD century Christians found negative findings about Jesus. The enigma is that current Josephus historical texts now magically have positive findings regarding Jesus and his times. Also you must realize that Josephus was using Roman records and writings in order to write his historical records as Jesus had already been crucified before Josephus’ birth. Josephus relied on existing documents and records that the Romans or Pilate had to maintain referencing Jesus, his missionary activities, relatives and associates and any miraculous events of the NT crucifixion. Also remember that the early Christians (Jesus followers and disciples) did not vary from their childhood Jewish social and religious beliefs even after the death of Jesus and therefore the Jewish Josephus would have no reason to document any negative evidence of the miraculous events described in the NT. Ergo there is no valid reason to expect Josephus to insert or alter anything in the history as he found and recorded it.

    “If that passage had pooped (sic) up all of a sudden, and older versions existed that omitted that passage, it would have obviously been exposed as a lie.”

    Note the last passage of my original post which does reference an older version of Josephus’s Jewish War. “There is a Slavonic text of Josephus's Jewish War which seems to be an early version. It is not free of Christian alterations but tells a different story from the usual. Jesus is not named as such but is called the "Wonder Worker" and led a band of 150 disciples into Jerusalem in a pathetic attempt at revolution. He was crucified around 21 AD. Christians tell us this is a mediaeval forgery!” So there were earlier versions that did pop up but like the Gospel of St. Thomas discarded as heresy by the Church. Ergo it is probably true that Christian’s later revised the work of Josephus in order to find evidence of a historical Jesus.

    “Second, the time that the supposed forgery came into being, according to dates given in the article, was between 250-320 A.D. At this time, Christians were still a persecuted minority in the Roman empire, and while mainstream acceptance of Christianity was growing, it was not until 312 A.D. that Constatine even became emperor, giving only eight years for Christians , as it were, to conspire to change Josephus's works, execute the change, and have the forgery accepted as a genuine part of his works..

    For your second point to be valid you must assume that the early church of Christ was to busy being persecuted by the Romans for St. Paul and the NT writers to compose the books you now use at your church. Please keep in mind that Constantine and the Council of Nicea canonized the existing Christian testaments that you feel could not have been written because of the persecuted Christian minority. Nope your theory doesn’t hold water here either as Josephus’s recorded history was in front of them and not a problem for insertions of a historical Jesus.

    “I take issue with step C. The Christian canon had been agreed on in 397, but by 220 AD, most books in today's NT were recognized as Scripture by most, if not all, of the Christian world. The books were considered as such because of their spiritual and theological value, not necessarily because of its historical value. Thus, this book would have never been considered canonical, regardless.
    Step E is also faulty logic. Basically, it says, "If A, then B. B is true. Therefore, A is true." But this is not necessarily so. B (in this case, claims of forgery) could have been made regardless of whether those claims were true. That kind of claim, however, would be hard to disprove. Thus, the claim sticks.
    Step F, IMO, is the bastard child of the faulty logic of steps C and E. I fail to see why the lack of existence of the Acts of Pilate are some kind of proof that Christians conspired to erase any unfavorable history about them.”

    Then let’s take a look at section c with which you take issue.

    c. If they existed either they were favorable to the Christian story and so would be part of the Christian canon or they were unfavourable to the Christian story and so would have been destroyed or altered. They are not part of the canon and so they were unfavourable to the Christian cause. They were either destroyed or altered.

    Premise ‘c’ is exactly on point. In any rational debate, the absence of earlier documents of purported facts (the Acts of Pilate) has nothing to do with Josephus’s work as he had to be extremely careful to not destroy records which would raise the ire of his mentors; ergo he would have lost the favor of his Roman overseers and thus be killed. It would have been simple for the early Christian NT writers to simply not find the Acts of Pilate which would not have been favorable to the Gospels. Your invalidating the premise set forth by having the other steps contradict each other does not meet the level of credibility.

    “I'll offer one more reason to support it:”
    quote:

    Oddly these documents date Jesus's trial and crucifixion to 21 AD, apparently at odds with Josephus who says Pilate did not take up office until 26 AD.
    ...
    And altering the dates in Josephus needed only two simple numeric changes - to the Greek number for the length of Pilate's Prefecture (from 18 to 10 years) and the Greek number for the length of the Prefecture of Gratus, his predecessor (3 to 11 years).



    ”Altering the Acts of Pilate to put the crucifixion in 21 AD instead of 30 AD, as is now commonly recognized, took the change of an X to an I (30=XXX, 21=XXI). Much simpler.”

    What problem is there if the histories of Josephus were totally rewritten by the Christian Gospel writers and with the majority of Josephus’s work verbatim in keeping with the context of the recorded historical records? Then the Gospel writers or others would simply insert new small sections which included the changing of an X to an I as long as they were rewriting the entire earlier works of Josephus?

    No, I think you will have to find other reasoning to invalidate the insertion of Christianity into the previous comprehensive works of Josephus.
     
  7. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    Thanks! :D Glad someone notices!!! :) Though I do want to say: I am not arguing that the passages you refer to are genuine, because I don't know the historiography of Jospehus's works. I am arguing that they could be, and probably are, genuine.

    I assume that Jews would not say anything positive about Jesus because, during his life, Jesus stood against the religious traditionalism of the time, and after His resurrection, Christians hailed him as God. I could not imagine any orthodox Jew wnating to even mention His name, let alone in a good light, if that were the case.
    Also, You purport that Josephus relied strictly on Roman writings, without taking into account any type of oral tradition. At the time, writing and reading were not nearly as popular as they are now, and many traditions were passed on by word. It is entirely possible - and I would think probable, considering His miracles - that word of mouth about Jesus had reached Josephus.

    A work that said something like that would obviously be held as a fiction, because it contradicted the four Gospel accounts that were written between 60-100 A.D. You rail against a possible Christian forgery of Josephus, but you haven't considered the possibility that an anti-Christian would forge the same document.

    My argument is that Christians would be too busy setting up churches and evangelizing, while avoiding persecution, to look up Josephus's works in the local library, successfully forge them, and get it recognized as genuine. I was not arguing that no Christians ever wrote, becasue they obviously did. Moreover, their writings were for the purpose of encouraging believers, helping them to live the Christian life, and evangelizing non-believers. A snippet of text in a Jewish historian's work probably would not have done much to further the cause.

    I still think it is unlikely that these texts are forgeries. Not impossible - but unlikely.
     
  8. ajwps
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    ajwps Active Member

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    Originally posted by gop_jeff
    Apparently Jeff you have attempted a great deal of thought at refuting this post.



    ”Thanks! Glad someone notices!!! Though I do want to say: I am not arguing that the passages you refer to are genuine, because I don't know the historiography of Jospehus's works. I am arguing that they could be, and probably are, genuine.”

    Jeff take note to what you are saying in the above sentences. You use the disclaimer ‘I don’t know the works’ followed by the words ‘could be’ and finally ‘probably.’ When rebutting arguments about historical events, you must find positive or definitive evidence in order to reinforce your position without using any uncertainties which proves nothing.

    “I assume that Jews would not say anything positive about Jesus because, during his life, Jesus stood against the religious traditionalism of the time, and after His resurrection, Christians hailed him as God. “

    You are making the same absurd assumptions about Jesus, his religious background along with most of the Jews of that day based solely on (Saul) Paul’s word. A Tarsian man who created a god out of a Jewish Jesus who never stood against the religious traditions of his time. Even Jesus himself said in Paul’s NT that he had not come to change one iota or dital of the original word of G-d, the Father of all mankind.

    A word that came from a long dead Jew he met in a flash on the road to Damascus. The Jewish people (including Jesus) were under the yoke and rule of the Roman Empire in that time. The Jewish people were looking for their promised Messiah to rid them of their rulers and give them back their lands. Jesus among others were the hoped for Messianic messenger and the prophecies of redemption from Rome. So when each of the hoped for messiahs died and the prophecies not fulfilled, the Jewish people knew that none was the promised messenger messiah.

    To believe in Jesus as a messianic being, you have prove that his own people who had hopes for him to be the promised one, to turn against this messiah so that the gentiles could be saved. But remember, being saved by anyone or anything beside your own actions was nonsense. Even to Jesus Christ of Nazareth.


    “I could not imagine any orthodox Jew wnating to even mention His name, let alone in a good light, if that were the case. Also, You purport that Josephus relied strictly on Roman writings, without taking into account any type of oral tradition. At the time, writing and reading were not nearly as popular as they are now, and many traditions were passed on by word. It is entirely possible - and I would think probable, considering His miracles - that word of mouth about Jesus had reached Josephus.”

    Jeff you forget that Josephus was a historian who wrote a record of facts taken from existing records or from what he personally witnessed. Historians do not use rumors, traditions or anything that could not validate the accuracy of the work product. What you IMAGINE about any person has no validity or merit when taken into the light that there was no Christianity to mention until long after Jesus was crucified. You are assuming that the man Jesus claimed messiahship or a purported relationship to or being a diety. I don’t have to IMAGINE that Jesus or any of those many others who had this type of title placed on them ever conceived of such an ideation. IMAGINE if you will the Creator of all things, coming to earth, impregnating an already engaged earth woman to have a son who would save mankind from sin. In other words, no man is responsible for committing sin as long as he believed in Jesus and was again forgiven. This was a very foreign concept to the Jewish people including Jesus Christ.

    “A work that said something like that would obviously be held as a fiction, because it contradicted the four Gospel accounts that were written between 60-100 A.D. You rail against a possible Christian forgery of Josephus, but you haven't considered the possibility that an anti-Christian would forge the same document.”

    I am not here to question or have you question your faith in the Gospel accounts of a Jew who was crucified as were thousands of his fellow Jews. A Jewish man who sinned before his own G-d like everyone else, a man who lived, ate food, drank liquid and went to the bathroom. Can you imagine a god who urinates or defecates like every other human being on earth? You were born a Christian and have every right to believe in Jesus Christ as a risen one-third of a trinty of a god.

    I have considered the possibility of a Jewish forgery about Christ, but actual records (Dead Sea Scrolls), archeology and conflicted NT gospels make any IMAGINED forgery to be totally unnecessary. Jews are not given to falsifying records or committing murder of a god except in the imagination of Mel Gibson.


    “My argument is that Christians would be too busy setting up churches and evangelizing, while avoiding persecution, to look up Josephus's works in the local library, successfully forge them, and get it recognized as genuine. I was not arguing that no Christians ever wrote, becasue they obviously did. Moreover, their writings were for the purpose of encouraging believers, helping them to live the Christian life, and evangelizing non-believers. A snippet of text in a Jewish historian's work probably would not have done much to further the cause.”

    You have made my point perfectly. Thanks

    ”I still think it is unlikely that these texts are forgeries. Not impossible - but unlikely.”

    Jeff you are correct. If your proposition were correct, a Jew by the name of Josephus wouldn’t have referred at all to a any man claiming to be god. But Josephus records did put a couple of snippets about a man named Jesus who would be a god.

    What would be Josephus reason for even mentioning him one way or the other
     

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