Monday, December 2, 2013

Was Jesus Even Crucified?

Link to Part 1.

Link to Part 2.

Link to Part 3.

Link to Part 4.

Part 5

Antiquities 18.3.3 or “Testimonium Flavianum:” a Gospel Commercial!

Note: meanings of all Greek words can be looked up at the Tufts Perseus Greek Word Study Tool.

As it turns out, a computer comparison check was made against Josephus’ Antiquities 18.3.3 against all the ancient Greek writings, and the closest match to it was found in the Canonical Gospel of Luke!

So let’s see how the two compare, shall we?

So the major reliance of this Part 5 will be on the article “The Josephus-Luke Connection” by G.J. Goldberg, Ph. D. 1

First Josephus’ Antiquities 18.3.3 (Whiston’s translation)2:
[63] 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. [64] 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.
Then Luke 24:13-27 (Young’s Literal Translation) 3:
13 And, lo, two of them were going on during that day to a village, distant sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, the name of which [is] Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing with one another about all these things that have happened. 15 And it came to pass in their conversing and reasoning together, that Jesus himself, having come nigh, was going on with them, 16 and their eyes were holden so as not to know him, 17 and he said unto them, ‘What [are] these words that ye exchange with one another, walking, and ye are sad?’

18 And the one, whose name was Cleopas, answering, said unto him, ‘Art thou alone such a stranger in Jerusalem, that thou hast not known the things that came to pass in it in these days?’

19 And he said to them, ‘What things?’

And they said to him, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who became a man — a prophet — powerful in deed and word, before God and all the people, 20 how also the chief priests and our rulers did deliver him up to a judgment of death, and crucified him; 21 and we were hoping that he it is who is about to redeem Israel, and also with all these things, this third day is passing to-day, since these things happened. 22 And certain women of ours also astonished us, coming early to the tomb, 23 and not having found his body, they came, saying also to have seen an apparition of messengers, who say he is alive, 24 and certain of those with us went away unto the tomb, and found as even the women said, and him they saw not.’

25 And he said unto them, ‘O inconsiderate and slow in heart, to believe on all that the prophets spake! 26 Was it not behoving the Christ these things to suffer, and to enter into his glory?’ 27 and having begun from Moses, and from all the prophets, he was expounding to them in all the Writings the things about himself.
Now if we boil the above passage from Luke down to the essentials about Jesus, we have this:
‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who became a man — a prophet — powerful in deed and word, before God and all the people, how also the chief priests and our rulers did deliver him up to a judgment of death, and crucified him; and we were hoping that he it is who is about to redeem Israel, and also with all these things, this third day is passing to-day, since these things happened…. And he said unto them, ‘O inconsiderate and slow in heart, to believe on all that the prophets spake! Was it not behoving the Christ these things to suffer, and to enter into his glory?’ 27 and having begun from Moses, and from all the prophets, he was expounding to them in all the Writings the things about himself.
As Dr. Goodman demonstrates, there are several parallels between Antiquities 18.3.3 and Luke 24:19b-27 with verses 22-24 skipped over. And almost all of them are in the exact same order.

The first one:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man / The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who became a man — a prophet.
In the Greek we have from Antiquities, Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ (Ginetai de kata touton ton chronon Iêsous sophos anêr = “There came of age about this time Jesus, a wise man), and from Luke, τα περι ιησου του ναζωραιου ος εγενετο ανηρ προφητης (ta peri iêsou tou nazôraiou os egeneto anêr prophêtês = “Those about Jesus the Nazorean who was [or became] a man prophet”). For “came of age” and “was [or became]” we have the same root Greek verb, γίγνομαι (gignomai), “come into being, come into a new state of being, to be born”. Then what Josephus has for “a wise man” σοφὸς ἀνήρ (sophos anêr), Luke has the similar “man prophet” 4 ανηρ προφητης (anêr prophêtês). Josephus doesn’t admit to Jesus being a prophet here, but admits to the person being a wise man: what follows is Josephus stating that Jesus did what prophets did do!

The second statement:
If it be lawful to call him a man
This passage in Antiquities 18.3.3, in Greek, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή (eige andra auton legein chrê = if one has to call him a man) has no parallel in Luke 24, unless one wants to interpret Luke’s use of the conjugate of γίγνομαι (gignomai) therein as “became” as in becoming a human from a prior state of being of being as a god or in the more ordinary sense of becoming a man by reaching maturity, which, according to Goldberg, is inconsistent with Luke’s use of the verb elsewhere to mean “was.” 5

Third, we have:
for he was a doer of wonderful works / powerful in deed
In Antiquities for “for he was a doer of wonderful works” the Greek phrase ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής (ên gar paradoksôn ergôn poiêtês = literally, “for he was a composer of amazing deeds”) has its parallel in Luke’s δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ (dunatos en ergô = “powerful in deed”). Both use ἔργον (ergon) “work, deed, action,” and δυνατὸς (dunatos) “strong, mighty, powerful, dynamic” has its parallel in παραδόξων (paradoksôn), “contrary to expectation, incredible, paradoxical, admirable, wonderful”.

Then fifth we have:
a teacher of such men / and word
For Josephus’ “a teacher of such men” (διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων (didaskalos anthrôpôn)) and for Luke we have καὶ [δυνατὸς ἐν] λόγῳ (dunatos en ergô kai logô = “and [powerful in] word.”). It doesn’t look parallel at first glance abut a look into λόγῳ (logô) would show that the noun also includes “saying, statement, maxim, proverb, speech, discourse, reasoning, account, rule, principle, law, etc.,” which means that being a teacher is not ruled out in this passage.

And sixth we have:
as receive the truth with pleasure / before God
The extant Greek in the Testimonium reads: τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων (tôn êdonê talêthê dechomenôn = “those receiving the unconcealed [truth] with pleasure”); in Luke it reads: ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ (enantion tou theou = “before God”). The two are not exactly the same, but in each of Jewish and Christian concepts God is supposed to be a God of Truth, with a capital T. So if Jesus was powerful in Word before God and taught men who gladly accepted that which was concealed but was unconcealed by Jesus, he wouldn’t exactly be teaching lies, now would he? ;^)

The seventh is:
He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles / and all the people
In the Greek we have for Josephus’ “He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles,” καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο (kai pollous men Ioudaious, pollous de kai tou Ellênikou epêgageto); and for Luke’s “and [before] all the people,” καὶ [ἐναντίον] παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ (kai [enantion] pantos tou laou). These two are very well matched, even if the former seems more expansive than the latter.

Then we have in eighth place:
He was [the] Christ. /
The Greek in Antiquities for this is: ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν (o Christos outos ên). There is NO parallel in Luke at this point, which dovetails nicely with the majority of scholars who’ve studied this, that this passage was a Christian interpolation. I will come back to this later, however.

Now we come in the ninth to the part about the Passion:
at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, / how also the chief priests and our rulers
In the Greek, Antiquities 18.3.3 has: ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin = at the passing of information against [him] of [= by] the most superior men among us”); and Luke 24 has: ὅπως τε παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες ἡμῶν (opôs te paredôkan auton oi archiereis kai archontes êmôn = “that moreover the chief priests, and the rulers of us, delivered him up”). Another hit! Although the language is not exact, the meaning is about the same: “chief priests and rulers of us” (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες ἡμῶν (oi archiereis kai archontes êmôn)) are one in the same with “most superior men among us” (τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin); and, although “delivered him up” (παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν (paredôkan auton) is certainly not identical with “with a passing of information against [him]” (ἐνδείξει (endeiksi)), the effect, as we shall see, is the same: a passing of the death penalty.

And so we have the death sentencing in tenth place:
And when Pilate… had condemned him to the cross / to a judgment of death, and crucified him
Now here we actually have an actual crucifixion occurring in Luke, but *not* necessarily in Josephus! For Josephus reads: καὶ αὐτὸν… σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου (kai auton… staurô epitetimêkotos Pilatou = “and of Pilate having sentenced him to a cross [or pole or an upright pale or a staurôs-punishment]”); whereas, Luke reads: εἰς κρίμα θανάτου καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν. (eis krima thanatou kai estaurôsan auton = “unto a judgement of death and they crucified him”). The only differences between Luke and Josephus is (1) Josephus only has Jesus condemned by Pilate, while in Luke he is actually (allegedly) crucified; and (2) Pilate is the one who does the condemning in Josephus, whereas in Luke, the chief priests and rulers of the Jewish people in Jerusalem are the ones indicated who do the condemning and the crucifying (although Pilate is recorded in Luke 23:25 as handing over Jesus to their will). 6 And if you read on from there, of course, in Luke’s account the Jewish leaders do the dirty work of crucifying him. I know that’s not how Christianity interprets it, at least these days, but that is how the text reads!

After this in the eleventh place, we have:
those that loved him at the first did not forsake him / and we were hoping
In the Greek, for Josephus we have: οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες (ouk epausanto oi to prôton agapêsantes = “they did not leave off doing so, [those] who loved [or adhered to 7 or had an affection for] at the first”), indicating the followers of Jesus kept their love for and their allegiance to him; and for Luke we have: ἡμεῖς δὲ ἠλπίζομεν (êmeis de êlpizomen = “we moreover were hoping”), indicating the disciples were presently losing or have recently lost their faith in the man. Clearly each indicates an opposite direction from the other, like the parallel roadways on an expressway or a divided highway where the two lines of traffic go in perfectly opposite directions. So we have a parallel here, too.

After this, there is in the twelfth place:
/ that he it is who is about to redeem Israel
The extant Greek for Luke has it as: ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ μέλλων λυτροῦσθαι τὸν Ἰσραήλ (oti autos estin o mellôn lutrousthai ton Israêl = “that he is the one being destined to redeem [or release by paying a ransom for, liberate by paying a ransom] the [nation of] Israel”), which excludes any idea of liberation by warfare or by warmongering, but by payment of ransom only. This sort of “liberation” is not in line with the sort of Messianic beliefs that caused the Jews to rebel against Rome in 66 CE, but is certainly in conformance with the Christian belief system that Jesus Christ died as a ransom for many. Josephus has nothing at this point, but earlier at the end of section [63], his extant Greek reads, ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν (o Christos outos ên = “the Christ he was.”) The existence of a parallel here is possible and probably, even though the placement of the order of the phrase in Luke does not match that in Josephus. Note also, a little later on in Agapius’ 10th Century Arabic work, 8 there is the phrase: “he was perhaps the Messiah” and we will discuss this when get to that point.

Then for the thirteenth, skipping over Luke 24:22-24, but directly to the next phrase in Josephus’ Antiquities 18.3.3 [64], we proceed to the reason why, in Josephus, those who “loved him at the first did not cease to do so:”
for he appeared to them alive again the third day / “and also with all these things, this third day is passing to-day, since these things happened….” And he said unto them
For the Greek in Antiquities we have: ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν (epsanê gar autois tritên echôn êmeran palin zôn = “for he appeared to them having a third day9 being alive [and in full strength(?)]10 again”)and Luke has: • ἀλλά γε καὶ σὺν πᾶσιν τούτοις τρίτην ταύτην ἡμέραν ἄγει ἀφ’ οὗ ταῦτα ἐγένετο.… • καὶ αὐτὸς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς (alla ge kai sun pasin toutois tritên tautên êmeran agei aph’ ou tauta egeneto… kai autos eipen pros autous = “but really also with all these things, this third day it passes, after which all these things happened…. And he said unto them) Here, the parallel is almost exact and completely congruent, except for the length of time he was allegedly alive again; Josephus’s passage states he was alive and in full strength again for three days when he appears to his followers. Whereas in Luke, he shows up three days after he was nailed up.

Now at this point we would encounter in Agapius’ Arabic-language World Chronicle, a phrase tacked on the end of Antiquities’ depiction of Jesus appearing to the disciples having a third day alive [and in full strength(?)] again. Shlomo Pines translated the added phrase, which introduced the next point below, as: “They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah….”11 Although whether Agapius obtained his source from perhaps an authentic Josephan source rather than a paraphrase of the textus receptus quoted almost verbatim in Eusebuis’ Ecclesiastical History, it does show that when this was written, in the Tenth Century CE, the mention that Jesus was the Christ was not dropped, merely modified and relocated.

And this is the fourteenth instance: what Jesus says to the two disciples outside Emmaus is right similar to what Josephus allegedly wrote in Antiquities 18.3.3:
as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him / ‘O inconsiderate and slow in heart, to believe on all that the prophets spake! Was it not behoving the Christ these things to suffer, and to enter into his glory?’
Again, we have another parallel. Josephus’ extant Greek states: τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων (tôn theiôn prophêtôn tauta te kai alla muria peri autou thaumasia eirêkotôn = “as the prophets of God having proclaimed these and also countless other marvellous [things] about him”). Luke adds Jesus’ excoriation of the two to reprove them for their loss of faith – basically blaming them for not expecting that the Messiah was to suffer and die and so forth; this is what Jesus says, in the Greek text of Luke: Ὦ ἀνόητοι καὶ βραδεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ τοῦ πιστεύειν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐλάλησαν οἱ προφῆται• οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ; (O anoêtoi kai bradeis tê kardia tou pisteuein epi pasin ois elalêsan oi prophêtai, ouxi tauta edei pathein ton Christon kai eiselthein eis tên doksan autou; = “’O unthinking and slow to comprehend in the heart to believe on all the things that the prophets spoke!’ Was it not needful [for] the Christ to have suffered these things and enter into his ?‘”) Note both Josephus and Luke has the same Greek word (different declensions) for prophets (προφητῶν, προφῆται) and similar words denoting inspiring of awe: θαυμάσια (wonderful, marvellous) in Josephus and δόξαν (glory) in Luke.
/ and having begun from Moses, and from all the prophets, he was expounding to them in all the Writings the things about himself.
This is but a continuation in Luke of the same Josephan – Lukan parallel in the paragraph above, it’s really a repeat of Josephus’ “as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. (τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων (tôn theiôn prophêtôn tauta te kai alla muria peri autou thaumasia eirêkotôn)” In Greek, Luke wrote: καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ Μωυσέως καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν προφητῶν διερμήνευσεν αὐτοῖς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς γραφαῖς τὰ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ. (kai arksamenos apo Môuseôs kai apo pantôn tôn prophêtôn diermhneusen autois en pasais tais graphais ta peri eautou = “and having begun from Moses and from all of the prophets he was expounding to them in all the writings as to those [things] about himself.”) Here we have Josephus’ “the divine prophets” mentioned in Luke as “Moses, and… all the prophets;” in Josephus “foretold” as “in all the writings;” and “these and ten thousand other things concerning him“ as “those [things] about himself.”
And in the fifteenth and last, we have:
And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. /
Josephus is said to have written in the Greek, εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον. (eis eti en te nun tôn Christianôn apo toude ônomasmenon ouk epelipe to phulon.) Although there is no parallel to this sentence in the compact section in Luke, the continuance of the story past verse 27 through the end of Acts completes the parallel. Nota bene that according to Acts 11:26, the “disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”12 Acts finishes up with Paul arriving in Rome and meeting brethren there (Acts ch. 28), showing that Christians were everywhere!

And so we have fifteen instances, twelve of which are found parallels between Josephus’ Antiquities 18.3.3 and his counterpart Luke’s Gospel 24:13-27 each opposite the other in order in their respective places, save the eigth, the twelfth and the fifteenth. Yet, the eighth point in the extant Greek Antiquities (the end of the thirteenth point within Agapius’ quote thereof) finds its parallel in the twelfth point found in Luke; the fifteenth point for Antiquities finds its parallel in what transpired after Luke 24:27, clear through to the end of Acts. Clearly, the passage widely assumed to be written by Josephus is none other than a Gospel Commercial and the obvious parallels between the two could not have occurred at ramdom. Either Luke copied Josephus; or Josephus copied Luke; or both copied the same source; or Eusebius, Pamphilus of Caesarea, or some other early (3rd or 4th Century CE) Christian clergyman forged the whole thing in toto.

I will now hand the blogspace over to Dr. Goldberg:13
There are several alternatives. I shall demonstrate the following:

1. The similarities are too numerous and unusual to be the result of accident. This will be demonstrated on another page by a statistical comparison of all other known descriptions of Jesus of similar length.

2. The similarities are not what would be written by a 2nd or 3rd century Christian deliberately mimicking Josephus' style. This is a consequence of the study on the statistics page.

3. The similarities are what would be expected if Josephus had employed a document very similar to Luke's Emmaus narrative as his source for information on Jesus, which he then moderately rewrote. This will be demonstrated on the style page by studying how other passages in his works were rewritten by Josephus from sources known to us.

The conclusion that can therefore be drawn is that Josephus and Luke derived their passages from a common Christian (or Jewish-Christian) source.

The analysis allows us to identify what is authentic in the Testimonium. It also allows is to plausibly uncover the document used by both Josephus and Luke. I will argue elsewhere that this document is a copy of a speech used by early Jesus proselytes of Jerusalem.

For the first time, we will have independent, Jewish documentation of the speech that is called, many times in Luke/Acts, "the word" and "the gospel."
Well, well, well. So so it appears that Josephus could very well have written this piece, copying off of a Jewish Christian “bible tract.” Yet he hardly could have written this without including a rather strident disclaimer. After all, the consensus of scholars who have studied the TF is that the passage has been tampered with by Christians. If he only actually wrote this verbatim, or only what the majority of scholars agree he wrote, then what we have here is that by the time of Domitian Caesar, at least one branch of Christianity had become politically correct. And Suetonius tells us what happened to historians who wrote things that the Roman Emperor found to be politically incorrect, and what happened to their scribes as well. 14 And if there was even one branch of Christianity that was politically correct back then, then we are certainly looking into the abyss.


1 G. J. Goldberg, Ph. D., “The Josephus-Luke Connection,” The Journal for the Study of the Pseuepigrapha, 13 (1995), pp. 59-77. Also found at this Link:
2 Flavius Josephus. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by. William Whiston, A.M. Auburn and Buffalo. John E. Beardsley. 1895. Tufts Perseus Digital Library.
3 Luke 24, Young’s Literal Translation,
4 Goldberg is correct concerning the English meaning here: that Jesus didn’t necessarily become a man, that is, was a divine spirit prior to becoming a man, but in the neighborhood of the time of Cleopas relating these things, Jesus was a man – and came of age of maturity to become a man, i.e., 30 (Luke 3:23). Goodman is also correct about Jesus being a man-prophet, which all the English translators stumble over, often omitting “man” or changing it to “male” or hyphenating the term as “man-prophet.”
5 Goldberg, “The Jesus-Luke Connection.” Cf. with Strong's Lexicon's meaning ( and the concordance at ( The listing the verb’s occurrences in Luke shows all manner of valid English meanings for the Greek verb.
6 Greek: τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν παρέδωκεν τῷ θελήματι αὐτῶν (ton de Iêsoun paredôken tô thelêmati autôn). Latin: Iesum vero tradidit voluntati eorum. Link:
7 Goldberg.
8 Goldberg.
9 Goldberg. I am not the only one to figure that this is how the extant Greek reads! If the writer of this passage meant “on the third day” as all translations assume, even Jerome’s Latin, then he left out the preposition ἔν (en), variant of εἰς (eis).
10 For ζῶν (zôn), variant of ζάω (zaô) The Middle Liddell Greek-English Lexicon includes “being alive and in full strength,” although metaphorically. Josephus might have meant this literally, rather than simply “being alive,” but as far as I know, no known scholar reads it this way. 11 Alice Whealey, “The Testimonium Flavianum in Syriac and Arabic,” New Testament Studies, Cambridge, England, UK, Cambridge University Press, Vol. 54 (2008), pp. 573–590, p. 574.
12 Greek text: χρηματίσαι τε πρώτως ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τοὺς μαθητὰς Χριστιανούς. (chrêmatisai te prôtôs en Antiocheia tous mathêtas Christianous) Literally, “Were called, moreover, first in Antioch the disciples, Christians.” Nota bene, the Codex Sinaiticus had originally instead of Χριστιανούς (Christianous), Χρηστιανούς (Chrêstianous).
The “correction” was rather poor in the Sinaiticus. The Vaticanus on the other hand, has Χρεἰστιανούς (Chreistianos), a "Latinist" substitution of an epsilon and an iota for the Greek êta.
13 Goldberg (conclusion).
14 Suetonius, Life of Domitian 10: “Then Hermogenes of Tarsus died because of some allusions that he had introduced into a historical work; and the slaves who acted as his copyists were crucified.” Link:; Domitianus 10: item Hermogenem Tarsensem propter quasdam in historia figuras, librariis etiam, qui eam descripserat, cruci fixis. Link:

Coming soon: Part 6 - When was Jesus Allegedly Crucified?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beth Tells Jake What-for!

Note what she did to the graffito he wrote.

It was written and captured at the southwest corner of S. Telemachus and Baudin Streets in New Orleans.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Was Jesus Even Crucified? Part 4

Link to Part 1.

Link to Part 2.

Link to Part 3.

Part 4 - Further Examination of the Testimonium Flavianum.

Could Josephus even have written any of this? If so, is it more “properly decorated” than most scholars who say it has an authentic Josephan core agree upon?

First, the first passage of 18.3.3 [63] calls Jesus “a wise man” which Josephus applied to figures who were genuinely wise – such as Solomon (Antiquities 8.2.7 [53]) and Daniel (Antiquities 10.11.2 [237].) It is questionable if Josephus saw Jesus as wise particularly if he was casting assertions on his masculinity and referred to him as “the one called Christ” (as in a so-called messiah) in Antiquities 20.9.1.[200].

The second passage: “if it is lawful to call him a man” / “if one has to call him a man” is also doubtful; most scholars would agree it is a Christian emendation. Instead of cutting both ways, as I said it could in Part 2 before, the qualifying phrase that follows forces a positive spin on it.

The phrase “for he was a doer (ποιητής (poiêtês)) of wonderful works / paradoxical deeds. (παραδόξων ἔργων (paradoxôn ergôn))” Again, I have noted Josephus used the phrase “wonderful works (παραδόξα ἔργα (paradoxa erga))” with regard to the works done by Elisha (Antiquities 9.8.6 [182]). And I have shown before in Part 2 that poiêtês is basically a poet, author, composer.

The fourth passage ”a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure” is another curious statement. It doesn’t look like either Josephus or a later Christian would have written this. Josephus could have written this but only with a noun or adjective that he used elsewhere with negative connotation, especially if he was denigrating Jesus’ masculinity, such as ἀνακαλύψας (anakalupsas) meaning “revealed, unconcealed, exposed”, which he used in a reference to a Roman soldier exposing himself at Passover in Antiquities 20.5.3 [108], instead of the generally positive τἀληθῆ (talêthê). Also curious and perhaps inappropriate is the term “with pleasure” (ἡδονῇ (êdonê)) when coupled with “receiving the truth” (τἀληθῆ δεχομένων (talêthê dechomenôn)), for it casts assertions on the masculinity of those being taught by Jesus. Philo, in his work Opif. 164, said that “a snake fighter”, lauded by Moses, was “a symbolic representation of self-control (ενκρατεια (enkrateia)), waging a fight that never ends and a truceless war against intemperance (ἀκρασίαν (akrasian)) and pleasure (ἡδονῇ (êdonê)), producing softness and voluptuousness in soul and body.” 1

Still, in Antiquities, ἡδονῇ (êdonê is sometimes employed in a positive sense, sometimes in a negative sense, and sometimes in a neutral sense. A coincidence that in Antiquities 18.1.1 [6], Josephus writes, “men received what [Judas tha Gaulonite / Galilean and Sadduc the Pharisee] said with pleasure,” nearly identical to what is extant in 18.3.3 [63]. 2 An even more curious coincidence is in 18.3.4 [70], in the account of the seduction of a Roman matron, Paulina, through the connivance of Egyptian priests of Isis and a freed-woman named Ide, is that the seducer, one Decius Mundus, “joyfully hearkened to her [Ide’s] entreaty,” that is, her proposal to arrange a way to trick the matron to spend the night together with Mundus posing as the Egyptian god Anubis. On the third day after their night together, Mundus reveals all to Paulina, saying it was him, and not a god she spent the night with, and said that he rejoiced “in the pleasure I reaped by what I did.” 3 In neither instance is ἡδονῇ (êdonê) interpreted positively or even in a neutral sense.

In the fifth passage we read that “he drew to himself (ἐπηγάγετο (epēgageto)) many of the Jews and many of the Greeks.” Again, this could be positive, if Jesus was winning over people who are glad to hear the truth; or it could be negative, as Jewish polemic records that he (or someone else named Yeshu) was a mesith (enticer). But then again it could be seen as casting assertions on Jesus’ masculinity even if it was written as is. It is noted by Stephen Moore and Janice Anderson that:
Educated elites who excelled in paideia were actually suspicious of speakers who were excessively popular with audiences of low degree, stigmatizing them as illegitimate players in the game of words. Some of the suspect speakers were, like Jesus, entrepreneurs in the religious sphere: people such as the quasi-Christian Peregrinus and the snake-oracle-monger Alexander of Abonuteichas. So, though Jesus could control an ignorant crowd, in the eyes of the educated Jesus’ public-speaking ability would have been at best an ambiguous component of his masculinity. 4

The sixth passage “He was the Christ.” (ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν (o Christos outos ên)). On this point serious scholars unanimously agree that Josephus never would have written this like this. There is disagreement among scholars whether Josephus did or did not write something like the statement that “Perhaps he was the Messiah” like the one in Agapius’ 10th-Century Arabic version, but I am convinced the Agapian version is an expansion of the bald statement “He was the Christ” in the original and extant Greek interpolation. 5, 6, 7

The partial phrase “of the leading men among us” (πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (prôtôn andrôn par' êmin)) repeats somewhat in Antiquities 18.5.3 [120]-[123], which mentions that Vitellus is entreated by men of the highest standing: “the principal men” (ἄνδρες οἱ πρῶτοι (andres oi prôtoi)). So Josephus could very well have written this. The problem is, is that the whole phrase “at the suggestion [or indictment] of the leading men among us” (ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin)) is so close to the Canonical Gospel accounts that if ἐνδείξει (endeiksi) is to be interpreted as “indictment” instead of a mere “pointing out” or “providing of information,” then Josephus is confirming that the Sanhedrin put or wanted to put the historical Jesus on trial, but on what charges? Josephus doesn’t tell us. Neither does he tell us that Pilate actually tried him, either. Philo stated that Pilate was known for his lawlessness, cruelties and briberies, who frequently put many Jews to death without trial and was also known for his endless savage ferocity. (Embassy to Gaius, 360)

The next phrase, “when Pilate condemned him to the cross” (σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου (staurô epitetimêkotos Pilatou) actually means, “of Pilate having condemned him to a pole (plain or crossarmed)”. The verbiage is different from all other occurrences of crucifixion or impalement described in Antiquities, where Josephus employs conjugates either σταυρόω (staurow) or ἀνασταυρόω (anastaurow), or even more colorful language. The verbiage here is an outlier, obviously Christian in tone, possibly translated direct from the Latin crux, for generally in Latin articles generally are not used and in Greek they generally are. Instead, Josephus would probably have used ἀνασταυρῶσαι (anastaurôsai): “to be impaled, crucified, suspended.” This, of course, is complicated by the fact that Diodorus Siculus and Philo of Alexandria both refer to the word σταυρός (stauros) as the penal act of Roman crucifixion (i.e., suspension upon a T-pole), not the actual “cross” or pole itself. So does Lucian of Samosata according to the English translation. 8 In the 10th-Century Agapius version in Arabic, discovered in 1971 by Schlomo Pines, the passage records that “Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.” It may have been cribbed from a fuller version rather than one independent, more original or more accurate. Agapius’ version has been judged to have come from a Syriac source, itself from an earlier Greek source. So it is difficult to determine if Agapius’ came from a different Antiquities manuscript or was a paraphrase from the familiar “Testmonium Flavianum” with critical changes made to counter Muslims’ objections that he was not crucified, period. 5, 6, 9, 10

Other evidence that may indicate that Josephus may have used ἀνασταυρῶσαι (anastaurôsai) instead of σταυρῷ (staurô) and a Christian scribe changed it to "improve" the text is the the use of the former in writings during the Third Century CE that used the former verb to denote the suspension of heads impaled on pikes. 11 It should also be noted that Byzantine and Medieval chronicholers regarded the Greek ἀνασταυρόω (anastaurow) and ἀνασκολοπίζω (anaskolopizô), and the Latin in crucem agere to be synonymous. 12, 13, 14, 15 This could mean that the Christian scribe who was copying an earlier copy of Antiquities made the change because he did not want the implication that Jesus was impaled instead to be assumed by some future reader who wasn't as pious.

Then there is the part where Josephus mentions the disciples who loved him ἀγαπήσαντες (agapêsantes) at the first and do not leave off doing so after Jesus was “condemned to the cross.” In all other locations of Antiquities where Josephus uses the word, only two have a definite negative sense (Antiquities 3.1.4 [20] and 18.9.6 [361]) and two others might have a negative sense (5.10.2 [342] and 18.7.2 [245]). All other instances of ἀγαπάω (agapaô) appear have a positive sense, even in cases where sexual love may be implied (4.8.23 [249], 5.10.2 [342]. 16 Instead, the word is variously translated as “loved, had affection for, was contented with, affection” and the like. It’s possible that Josephus thought the followers who had an affection for him at the start -- of what? Josephus doesn’t mention that -- did not leave off doing so, but the overwhelming majority of the instances of the word ἀγαπάω (agapaô) in Antiquities (48 in all) have a positive sense. 17

Then there is the business why the disciples who loved Jesus and had an affection for him at the start did not leave off doing so: “for he appeared to them alive again on the third day” (Whiston) or “having a third day alive again” (apparent literal translation). 18 The word for “appeared,” ἐφάνη (ephanê) means “appeared, showed up, was seen, was stripped bare” but the last is peculiar and strange because Josephus in this paragraph uses the grammatical genitive to denote a personal instrumental agent; 19 “alive,” ζῶν (zôn) means “alive, living” but it could also mean “in full life and strength.” In other words, Jesus could have survived the suspension, which in my opinion is not likely when surrounded by executioners guarding against any escape while alive; or, he could have given everybody the slip and returned three days after. The traditional location of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane at the foot of a hillside stairway as publicly revealed by Fr. Jerome Murphy O’Connor of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem (The Search for Jesus (6 of 7) 4:02 – 5:05, for the link to the in-video discussion click here), plus the fact that Josephus does not say if Jesus was even present before Pilate, gives in my opinion credence to the latter interpretation of Josephus’ description of the post-condemnation appearance.

On the other hand, whoever wrote the phrase concerning his post-condemnation appearance intended to mean that “he appeared to them alive again [i.e., the second time] on the third day,” then the overwhelming majority of serious scholars who say this line is an interpolation (forgery) are correct, for (in addition to the obvious reason) the Greek words for “third day” (τρίτην ἡμέραν (tritên êmeran)) are in the singular accusative (direct object) without their necessary preposition εἰς (eis) to indicate that it’s the third day. Nor are they written in the dative τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ (tritê êmera), "on the third day" that Josephus himself employs in Antiquities 18.3.4 [77]. These words corresponds to the Latin words tertia die which are in the singular ablative and have no article, which is peculiar to Latin, which shows to me that the Greek may have been translated from a Latin original “crib note” without the proper level of carefulness and then inserted into the paragraph. Even so, Josephus still could have written that Jesus showed up to his followers reportedly alive again (but in reality alive still) at some unspecified time after his official condemnation by Pilate, which could have been decreed with Jesus in absentia. For without the appearance, we have Josephus expressing a sense of surprise that Jesus’ first lovers did not leave off loving him, and also in either case a sense of dismissiveness, hostility and perhaps disgust that the “tribe” or “swarm” of lovers still hadn’t disappeared as of his day. 20

The next phrase about the ancient prophets of God I will leave without comment, except most scholars would consider it a Christian interpolation [i.e., a forgery].

The last phrase is a doozy in my opinion – “And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day,” The Greek word for “tribe,” φῦλον (phulon), can be interpreted as “race, people, tribe, class, clan, family; company, host; host, swarm.” In fact, Josephus uses this very word in Antiquities 2.14.4 [306] for a swarm of locusts! 21 Otherwise, the use of the word to denote Christians basically would have been Eusebian and in this passage, possibly indicative of a complete or partial forgery by Eusebius or those under his command. 22 Then there is the closing phrase, “are not extinct at this day” (εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν… οὐκ ἐπέλιπε (eis eti te nun ouk epelipe)), literally: “unto still and [in particular] even now not have become wanting,” which I sort out as: “and in particular, still… have not disappeared unto this very day.” This phrase usually means in ancient Jewish (ex.: Biblical) references that a very long time has elapsed since the events in question occured. 23 Even so, some like Peter Kirby would conclude that sixty years (i.e., 33 to 93 CE) would be a sufficiently long time for Josephus to employ such verbiage in this passage. 24

The whole paragraph precedes two religious scams that Josephus thought gave rise to, or was tangentially related to, a disaster for the Jews in Rome: the expulsion of them out of the city by Tiberius Caesar, 19 CE. Even so, my search for an alternate meaning of this paragraph which would reveal that Josephus clearly intended the religion to have started as a scam has been resoundingly tripped up and confounded. All we are left with is some kind of Gospel commercial, which could have been far too dangerous for Josephus to write, even in the truncated form accepted by most scholars, 25 unless at that very early stage Christianity (or at least one form of it) was politically correct.

Even so, if Josephus did write that Jesus appeared alive to his earliest followers after he was supposed to have been executed on the Roman T-pole, then he certainly was skeptical whether Jesus was ever crucified in the first place.

And so we will find out in Part 5 that in a way, it is a sort of Gospel commercial.


1. Philo, Opif. 164, quoted in: Stephen D Moore and Janice Capel Anderson, New Testament Masculinities. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature (2006), p. 70

2. The extant Greek of this passage in Antiquities 18.1.1 [6] reads: (καὶ ἡδονῇ γὰρ τὴν ἀκρόασιν ὧν λέγοιεν ἐδέχοντο οἱ ἄνθρωποι (kai êdonê gar tên akroasin ôn legoien edechonto oi anthrôpoi)). The whole of Antiquities 18.1.1 recounts the first Jewish revolt of the First Century CE under Judas the Gaulonite/Galilean whose philosophy, dubbed the “fourth philosophy” by Josephus in 18.1.2, consisted of a declaration that there is no lord but God, to the obvious exclusion of Caesar, and also that paying taxes to Rome is tantamount to accepting a status of slavery to Rome. Of course, Josephus deemed the “fourth philosophy” to be the reason for all the disasters that came upon the Jews and that these two individuals were the ones who promulgated it. So “with pleasure” (ἡδονῇ (êdonê)) would be interpreted entirely in the negative sense.

3. Antiquities 18.3.4 [71], [77] In section [71] the extant Greek of “and when he joyfully hearkened to her entreaty” is: καὶ δεχομένου τὴν ἱκετείαν ἡδονῇ (kai dechomenou tên iketeian êdonê)), which is also nearly identical with the subject line in 18.3.3. In [77]. We read for “I value not the business of names, but I rejoice in the pleasure I reaped by what I did,” the extant Greek: μηδέν μοι μελῆσαν τῶν ὀνομάτων, ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐκ τοῦ πράγματος ἡδονῆς (mêden moi melêsan tôn onomatôn, alla tês ek tou pragmatos êdonês): literally,”by no means for myself is an object of interest of the names, but of the pleasures from the act.”

4. Moore and Capel Anderson, pp. 325-6. The authors note on pp. 68-70 that sex and gender were seen in the Greco-Roman world on a sliding scale, an hierarchial gradient from male to female where in middle ranges masculinity begins to shade imperceptibly into femininity, creating a slippery slope where a swift slippage from more manly status (with the elite males at the top) to a less manly status is an ever-present danger to the sexually advantaged male subject. At the tail end would be those labeled “not-men:” females, slaves (of either sex), boys, sexually passive or “effeminate” males, eunuchs, barbarians, etc. In fact, the term malakos was regularly used to differentiate women, girls, youths and “effeminate” males from “true” men.

5. The chain of custody of Agapius’ TF, as well as Michael the Syrian’s Chronica which contains a more obviously Christian version of the TF, appears to be able to be traced back to a Syriac version of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiasticae. The Jesus Passages in Josephus: Part 2m, Part 2n and Part 2o.

6., Richard Carrier's Article Accessed 6-15-2013. One-sixth of the way down, Mr. Viklund writes, quoting Mr. Carrier:

“Like me, he thinks Alice Whealey is wrong when she claims that Eusebius originally wrote ‘He was thought to be the Messiah’ in his quotation of the Testimonium. I am pleased to see that Carrier argues in the same way as I do regarding the small deviations of the Testimonium, especially in the translations: ‘More likely some early copy of Eusebius’s History alone was ‘improved’ by a scribe intending to restore a more plausible quotation from a Jew … and it is this that we see in Whealey’s cited examples. It is inherently less likely that all manuscript traditions of all the texts of Eusebius and all manuscript traditions of Josephus were conspiratorially emended in the same way, than only one manuscript tradition of a single text of Eusebius being emended the other way.’”

7. John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, Rethinking the Historical Jesus. New York, Doubleday division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. (1991). Vol. 2, pp. 78-79, notes 37, 38. In these two notes Meier makes it clear that he does not believe Josephus wrote any version of “He was he Christ” (ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν (o Christos outos ên)) with or without qualifications of any sort.

8. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 20.54.7, “so that the wanton violence and vengeance almost resembled a crucifixion” (ὥστε σταυρῷ παραπλησίαν εἶναι τὴν ὕβριν ἅμα καὶ τὴν τιμωρίαν (ôste staurô paraplêsian einai tên ubrin ama kai tên timôrian = literally, “just as almost tantamount with a stauros-punishment to be the outrage and at the same time the vengeance")). Cf. with Philo In Flaccum 72, “where the final and reserved penalty is a crucifixion” (ἡ τελευταία καίἔφεδρος τιμωρία σταυρός ἤν (ê teleutaia kai ephedros timôria stauros ên = literally, “where a final and seated penalty is a stauros-punishment”), and Lucian, 1, “altogether a sweet spot for a crucifixion” (καὶ ὅλως ἐπικαιρότατος ἂν ὁ σταυρὸς γένοιτο. (kai olôs epikairotatos an o stauros genoito = literally, “and as a whole a most perfect place if haply the stauros it’s become”)). In all three cases the noun used by these authors is σταυρὸς (stauros), and only in Lucian the noun is translated incorrectly by the translators – in that instance it should be “cross” or “crossarmed pole” rather than “crucifixion” in English (although “cross” brings up imagery of the object of adoration in the business end of a church).

9. Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle: Was There No Historical Jesus? “Supplementary Articles – No. 16: Josephus on the Rocks.”, accessed 6-12-2013.

10. The Qu’ran, Surah 4,156. For a fuller discussion on this, see the Part 1 post of this article.

11. Cassius Dio, Roman History 75.8 on the capture and beheading of Niger by Alexander Severus: "[But] his pursuers overtook him and cut off his head. Severus caused the head to be sent to Byzantium and be set up on a pole.” The verb for "be set up on a pole" is ἀνεσταύρωσεν (anestaurôsen). Cf. a similar sentence in his Roman History 76.7, where after capturing and slaying another rival, one Albinus, the same Severus "ordered all but the head to be cast away, but sent the head to Rome to be exposed on a pole." Again, the verb for "to be exposed on a pole" is ἀνεσταύρωσεν (anestaurôsen). See also Herodian of Antioch, History of the Roman Empire 3.8.1, reports that Severus, "having sent the head of Albinus (to the capital city), he ordered it to be set on a pike as public property. The verb for "to be set on a pike" is ἀνασταυρωθῆναι (anastaurôthênai).

12. Hesychius of Alexandria (5th C. CE) Alphabetical Collection of All Words, a.k.a. Peter Allan Hansen, ed. Hesychii Alexandri Lexicon, Volumen III Π – S. Berlin, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. (2005), pp. 312, 340:

16__. σταυροί, οί καταπεπηγότες σκόλοπες, χάρακες (Stauroi, oi katapepêgotes skolopes, charakes). My translation: Stauroi: these skolopes (impaling stakes) having been fixed down in [the ground], pointed stakes [for palisades and other defensive works].

1066. σκόλοπες, ὀρθέα (l. ὀρθᾷ) καί ὀξέα ξύλα, σταυροί, χάρακες (Skolopes, orthea (l. ortha) xula, stauroi, charakes) . My translation: Skolopes, upright and sharpened timbers, stauroi (pales), pointed stakes.

1072. σκόλοψιν ὡς ὀπτῶσιν: τό γάρ παλαιόν τούς κακουργοῦντας ἀνεσκολόπιζον, ὀξύνοντες ξύλον διά ῥάχεως καί τοῦ νώτου καθάπερ τούς ὀπτωμένους ἰχθούς ἐπί ὀβελίσκων (skolopin ôs optôsin: to gar palaion tous kakourgountas aneskolopizon, oxunontes xulon dia racheôs kai tou nôtou kathaper tous optômenous ichthous epi obeliskôn). My translation: with skolopes (impaling stakes) as for roasting: for in the ancient times they impaled those doing evil, [using] sharpened timbers through the lower part of the spine and the back, just like those fish roasting on spits.

Cf. Hesychius’ Etymologus 100.51: ἀνασκινδυλεὐωθαι: ἀνασκολοπισθῆναι. (anaskinduleuôthai: anaskolopisthhnai.) My translation is: anaskinduleuôthai: to have been impaled. Justus Lipsius (de Cruce I.6) defines the verb as in cruce diffindere, meaning, “to be split apart on a crux [i.e., an impale].” See also Photius of Constantinople (815-893 CE), where σκινδαλεύω (skindaleuô) is defined as ἀνασταυρόω (anastaurow = impale, crucify), incorporating Ctesias’ Persica, frg. 6 wherein is recounted the death of the Persian Eunuch Petisaras who, per order of Princess Amytis, had his eyes put out, was skinned alive, and then was crucified (that is, impaled).

13. Orosius (4th to 5th C. CE) Historiae 6.18.33fin. "...but Octavian, remarkable of intellect, released from service 20,000 soldiers, he returned 30,000 slaves to their masters, and drove onto the stake 6,000 slaves for whom their masters could not be found." The Latin for "drove onto the stake" is in crucem egit. Cf. Cassius Dio Historiae Romanae 49.12.5, which has for the execution of the 6,000 slaves the Greek ἀνεσκολοπίζετο (aneskolopizeto = were impaled).

14. Eustathius of Thessonalica (1115-1195 CE), Commentary on the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Odyssey ξ. 11: σταυροί ὀρθᾷ καί ἀπωξυμμένα ξύλα. - οἱ δ᾽ αὐτοί καί σκόλοπες λέγονται, ἀφ᾽ ὧν τό ἀνασκολοπίζεσθαι, καί ἀνασταυροῦσθαι. (stauroi ortha kai apôxummena xyla. – oi d’ autoi kai skolopes legontai, aph’ ôn to anaskolopizethai, kai anastaurouthai.) My translation: Stauroi: upright and sharpened logs. – But these themselves and skolopes are called, from these that anaskolopizethai [(to be fixed on a sharp stake)] and anastaurouthai [(to be fixed on a pale) are derived].

Iliad ἡ. 441: σκόλοπες λέγονται δὲ οἱ τοιοῦτοι σκόλοπες καί σταυροί - ἐκ δὲ τούτων τό ἀνασκολοπίζειν, καί ανασταυροῦν. (skolopes legontai de oi toioutoi skolopes kai stauroi – ek de toutôn to anaskolopizein, kai anastauroun.) My translation: Skolopes they are called, and of such a kind [as] these skolopes and stauroi – from these that anaskolopizein [(to fix on a sharp stake)] and anastauroun [(to fix on a pale) are derived].

Odyssey η. 11: σκόλοπες δὲ καί νῦν ξύλα ὀρθᾷ, οἱ καί σταυροί. (skolopes de kai nun xula ortha, oi kai stauroi.) My translation: But skolopes even now [are] upright timbers, these and stauroi.

15. Ioannis Zonaras (12th C. CE), Annales 8.14fin, writes: "Moreover the general Hasdrubal indeed evaded [punishment], but afterwards at home he was accused by the Carthaginians and driven onto a stake." The Greek for "driven onto a stake" is ἀνεσκολοπίσθη (anastkolopisthê = impaled) and the Latin is in crucem actus est. Annales 8.17 (2nd pgh.): But Hanno, having escaped, was directly urged on into Carthage. But the Carthaginians, exacting punishment for his life and with a panic fear indeed drove him onto a stake, and the Elders sent Catulus to sue for peace. The Greek for "drove onto a stake" is ἀνεσταύρωσαν (anestaurôsan = crucified/impaled) and the Latin is again in crucem actus est..

16. Nota bene: in the reference to Johnathan loving David, Antiquities 6.11.1. [206] Josephus makes clear that in his opinion, Johnathan’s love for David was not sexual: “because he [Johnathan] loved the young man [David] and reverenced him for his virtue.”

17. Tufts Perseus Digital Library word search on ἀγαπήσαντες (agapêsantes), expanded to include all forms of ἀγαπάω (agapaô).

18. The extant Greek reads, τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν (tritên exôn êmeran palin zôn) the words translate literally in order as: “third having a day again alive [or alive and in full strength]”

19. Examples within Antiquities 18.3.3 [64]: ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (endeiksei tôn prôtôn andrôn par’ êmin): “with a pointing out of [= by] the chief men among us;” ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου (epitetimêkotos Pilatou): “of [= with, when] Pilate having sentenced”

20. Meier, p. 66.

21. Antiquities 2.14.4 [306]: “After this a tribe (φῦλον (phulon)) of locusts consumed the seed which was not hurt by the hail; so that to the Egyptians all hopes of the future fruits of the ground were entirely lost.” Obviously in this instance Josephus meant “swarm.”

22. Peter Kirby, Earliest Christian website, “Testimonium Flavianum: Josephus’ Reference to Jesus,” under the heading “Conclusions.” In it, he notes: “After reading the study of Ken Olson that shows the vocabulary of the Testimonium to be not Josephan but rather Eusebian, I was inclined to regard both references as spurious.”


23. Examples are to be found in the book of Joshua: “…and raised over it [the body of the King of Ai] a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day” (Joshua 8:29), and “they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day” (Joshua 10.27). Quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version, quoted in John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposingthe Roots of Anti-Semitism, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, Div. of HarperCollins Publishers (1995), p. 163.

24. Peter Kirby writes, “It is sometimes argued that the phrase "to this day" at the end of the passage indicates the perspective of a writer who was writing long after the events in question and that Josephus was too close in time to make it believable that he would have used the expression. On the contrary, a span of 60 years time after the death of Jesus is sufficient to cause some surprise at the survival of the cult. According to the speech of Gamiliel in Acts 5:35-39, most movements disbanded shortly after the death of the leader.” See subheading 1 under the heading, “Arguments that the Testimonium is Spurious,” in Earliest Christian, “Testimonium Flavianum, Josephus’ Reference to Jesus.” Refer to Note 20 above for the link.

25. The truncated form accepted by most scholars probably would be as follows:

[63] Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦ τον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ: ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο. [64] καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἀνασταυρῶσαι ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον. (Change from σταυρῷ to ἀνασταυρῶσαι mine).

[63] Ginetai de kata touton ton chronon Iêsous sophos anêr: ên gar paradoksôn ergôn poiêtês, didaskalos anthrôpôn tôn êdonê talêthê dechomenôn, kai pollous men Ioudaious, pollous de kai tou Ellênikou epêgageto. [64] kai auton endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin anastauroôsai epitetimêkotos Pilatou ouk epausanto oi to prôton agapêsantes. eis eti te nun tôn Christianôn apo toude ônomasmenon ouk epelipe to phulon. (Change from staurô to anastauroôsai mine)

[63] Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the unconcealed [truth] with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. [64] And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those that loved him at the first did not ease to do so. And the swarm of Christians, so named from him, are still not extinct at this very day. (Tweaks to truncated vesion of Whiston's translaion mine)

On edit:
August 2, 2013: Add links to Parts 1, 2 and 3; changed in Note 20: (Greek) σταυρῷ to ἀνασταυρῶσαι, (transliteration) staurô to anastauroôsai, (English) "to the cross" to "to be crucified."
August 4, 2013: Reordered and renumbered notes for sequential reference in the text; added paragraph that begins with "Other evidence that may indicate," and added notes 11 and 12.
August 5, 2013: Changed verbiage about the third day to include the preposition εἰς (eis) and Josephus' own use of the Greek dative meaning "on the third day" in Antiquities 18.3.4.
August 6 through 8, 2013: Cleaned up formatting, spelling, grammar and syntax errors. August 8, 2013: Add new Note 12, renumbered old Notes 12 through 22. Note 22 (now 23): added additional tweak to Whiston's translation for fuller meaning of "truth" in line [63]. August 16, 2013: Add new Notes 12 and 14, renumber existing Notes 12 through 23 as Notes 13 and 15 through 25.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Was Jesus Even Crucified? Part 3

Link to Part 1.
Link to Part 2.

Part 3 - The Latin Translation.

To perhaps get a better understanding of what Josephus meant, or perhaps not, we now turn to Jerome’s copy of the Latin translation of Josephus’ Antiquities, which he quoted in his De Viris Illustribus 13. Jerome, in contradistinction to what Origen said about Josephus not believing Jesus was the messiah, had this to say: “In the eighth [sic!] book of his Antiquities he most openly acknowledges that Christ was slain by the Pharisees on account of the greatness of his miracles, that John the Baptist was truly a prophet, and that Jerusalem was destroyed because of the murder of James the apostle. He wrote also concerning the Lord after this fashion:…” 1

Let me note here that the Jamesian reference was not found in the extant manuscript copy of Josephus’ Antiquities, as Jerome assrets, but rather the 20th, and Josephus does not attribute Jerusalem’s destruction to the murder of James therein or anywhere else in Antiquities.  Origen’s referrals to the Jamesian passage also appears to make the same error 2.

The English translation from New Advent 3 first:

“In this same time was Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it be lawful to call him man. For he was a worker of wonderful miracles, and a teacher of those who freely receive the truth. He had very many adherents also, both of the Jews and of the Gentiles, and was believed to be Christ, and when through the envy of our chief men Pilate had crucified him, nevertheless those who had loved him at first continued to the end, for he appeared to them the third day alive. Many things, both these and other wonderful things are in the songs of the prophets who prophesied concerning him and the sect of Christians, so named from Him, exists to the present day.”
The extant Latin, from the Documenta Catholica Omnia website 4:

Eodem tempore fiut Jesus, vir sapiens, sit amen virum oportet eum dicere. Erat enim mirabilium patrator operum, et doctor eorum, qui libenter vera suscipiunt: plurimos quoque tam de judaeis quam de gentibus sui habuit sectatores, et credebatur esse Christus.  Cumque invidia nostrorum principum cruci eum Pilatus addixisset a, nihilominus qui eum primum dilexerant, perseveraverant. Apparit eum eis tertia die vivens, multa et haec alia mirabilia carminibus prophetarum de eo vaticinatibus, et usque hodie Christianorum gens ab hoc sortita vocabulum, non defecit.
  1. adfixisset, “affixed, attached.” 5
And this is how I translate it (boldface emphasis mine) – footnotes flag certain Latin words that have multiple meanings:

There was at this time Jesus, a wise man, if nevertheless one ought 6 to call him a man. Namely he was an effector 7 of astonishing deeds and a teacher 8 of men, who are pleased to accept the truth 9: many even of the Jews as of the Gentiles he considered his own followers 10, and he was believed to be the messiah. And by means of the hatred 11 of our leading citizens Pilate sentenced him to the crux 12, all the same those who loved 13 him at first had continued to do so. For he showed up 14 to them on the third day alive still 15, and this and many other marvelous things in the oracles of the prophets having prophesied of him, and even unto this day the race 16 of Christians, having chosen 17 their name from him, are not extinct. 
Now if one looked closely at the Latin source (PDF) from Documenta Catholica Omnia, one would notice that the Latin runs side-by-side with the Greek. So it is probable that the Latin was translated from the Greek in Jerome’s day, because the extant Greek is identical to that in Antiquities 18.3.3! 18 So we have the Latin, therefore, conforming to the “Testimonium Forgianum” that Eusebius quoted, i.e., the Christianized version, not the Josephan original. And the only word that doesn’t conform to Whiston’s English translation is vivens, which means “alive still, surviving, living, alive, being alive,” etc. It does not mean “alive again,” let alone “resurrected.” So even here we have a possible remnant of Josephus’ skepticism that the historical Jesus (Jesus the Nazarene) rose from the dead. Rather, he survived his “crucifixion” or avoided getting suspended by the Romans under Pilate in the first place.

1.       Jerome, De Viris Illustribus (Illustrious Men) 13,       Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10.17. Cf. Contra Celsum 1.47 and 2.13.       Jerome (New Advent), ibid.
4.       Documenta Catholica Omnia, De Viris Illustribus Liber Ad Dextrum, Caput XIII, col. 663 (PDF p. 17). 
5.       Roger Viklund, Jesus Granskad, “The Jesus Passages in Josephus, Part 2l, ‘Testimonium Flavianum’: The Church Fathers’ Knowledge, The Latin Translations, Jerome.” Accessed 6-1-2013.
6.       Transl. “ought” – Latin oportet, “ought, has to, needs to, must.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
7.       Transl. “effector” – Latin patrator, “effector, achiever, accomplisher”. (Perseus) (Whitaker)
8.       Transl. “teacher” – Latin doctor, “teacher, instructor, trainer, doctor.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
9.       Transl. “truth” – Latin vera, “(adjective) of the truth, genuine, true, true things; (noun) the truth, that which is true truth, reality, fact; (noun) the spring, springtime of life, youth.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
10.   Transl. “followers” – Latin sectatores, “followers, pursuers, attendants, familiars, retinue, adherents.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
11.   Transl. “hatred” – Latin invidia, “hatred, envy, grudge, jealousy, ill-will.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
12.   Not translated but changed to the nominative – Latin crux (dative cruci = “to the crux”), “gallows, frame, tree, stake on which criminals were hanged or impaled, frequently cross [but not always so]; crucifixion; torture, torment, trouble, misery.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
13.   Transl. “loved” – Latin dilexerant, “loved, picked, selected, singled out, valued, esteemed, prized, appreciated.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
14.   Transl. “showed up” – Latin apparuit, “appeared, came into sight, made an appearance, was visible, was seen, showed himself.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
15.   Transl. “alive still” – Latin vivens, “living, being alive, having life, surviving, being still alive.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
16.   Transl. “race” – Latin gens, “race, swarm, brood, crew, herd, [a] people.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
17.   Transl. “chosen” – Latin sortita, “having drawn lots; having assigned, allotted  or obtained by lots; having shared, divided, distributed; having got by lot, obtained, received; having got by chance or as a lot, got, obtained, received.” (Perseus) (Whitaker)
18.   Subheading under the title at the first page of the PDF (pursue the link in note 4) we read, “Adjuncta versione antiqua Graeca quam sub Suphronii nomine Erasmus edidit,” meaning: “Attached to the ancient Greek version which under the name of the Suphronii Erasmus edited.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Was Jesus Even Crucified? Part 2

Link to Part 1.

Part 2 - The Josephan Record.

In Part 1, I have shown that the Muslims disbelieve in the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and that the New Testament record is a shoddy record indeed to establish the certainty of the present-day Canonical Gospel accounts owing to the fact that none of them date back to beyond approximately 350 CE, the dating of the Codices Alexandrius, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. Worse is that St Paul, whose epistles predate the four gospels according to scolarly consensus, wrote to the Galatians that "before [their] very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified" (Gal. 3:1 NIV), which calls into the mind a theatrical production. 

Now we go on to Josephus. Only Christian apologists will tell you the whole paragraph is authentic. A minority of scolars assert the whole anecdote was a Christian forgery from the early 4th Century, and I am partial to that view. Most scholars will tell you, that Josephus’s “Testimonium Flavianum” was partially interpolated but has a Josephan core. In other words, Christian forgers doctored the thing, but not too much. I will put my own personal opinions aside and use the assumption that the scholarly consensus is correct. Here is what is in the present day record (Whiston translation) from the extant Greek text of Josephus' Antiquities 18.3.3:

[63] 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. [64] 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.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3 [63-64] 1

Now here is what the extant Greek text 2 says:

[63] 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. [64] 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.


[63] Ginetai de kata touton ton chronon Iêsous sophos anêr, eige andra auton legein chrê, ên gar paradoksôn ergôn poiêtês, didaskalos anthrôpôn tôn êdonê talêthê dechomenôn, kai pollous men Ioudaious, pollous de kai tou Ellênikou epêgageto: o Christos outos ên. [64] kai auton endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin staurô epitetimêkotos Pilatou ouk epausanto oi to prôton agapêsantes: epsanê gar autois tritên echôn êmeran palin zôn tôn theiôn prophêtôn tauta te kai alla muria peri autou thaumasia eirêkotôn. eis eti en te nun tôn Christianôn apo toude ônomasmenon ouk epelipe to phulon.

So let us break down this text to see if the Whiston translation is correct:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man” (Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ (Ginetai de kata touton ton chronon Iêsous sophos anêr)): γίνεται means of persons “came into being, was born;” but more rarely, “came into a new state,” perhaps “came of age.” And σοφὸς ἀνήρ (sophos anêr) does mean “a wise man” but also “a clever man” or "a man skilled in a craft." 3 So an alternative translation of this phrase could be, “Now there came of age about this time a clever, skilled man Yeshua.” The possibilities by what Josephus meant could be a sophist, a sorcerer, or the brains behind the ensign incident of Antiquities 18.3.1 and the aqueduct incident of 18.3.2.

“[I]f it be lawful to call him a man” (εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή (eige andra auton legein chrê)) can also be rendered as “if one has to call him a man,” since the verb, χρή, (chrê) translates as “[it] is necessary.” Most scholars say this is a Christian interpolation (i.e., forgery) but this phrase can cut both ways. In Deuteronomy 23:2 KJV, there is the line, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” The word “bastard” is in the Hebrew, מַמְזֵר (mamzer) which means “bastard, child of incest, mongrel race. 4 Obviously these disqualifiers would make an offspring of fornication, incest or relations with a foreign race to be less than a “real” man. The Jewish polemic that Jesus was a child of fornication and of mixed race had to come from somewhere and it apparently appeared first in Celsus’ On the True Word, quoted in Origen’s Contra Celsum. 5, 6 So we could leave this the way William Whiston translated it, or translate it alternatively, “if one has to call him a man.”

“[F]or he was a doer of wonderful works” (ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής (ên gar paradoksôn ergôn poiêtês)): “doer” here is ποιητής (poiêtês), meaning “maker, inventor, legislator, poet, author, composer.” Elsewhere in Josephus, it is used to mean poet 7 or [that which is] made by oneself 8. Now wonderful works here are παραδόξων (paradoksôn), “contrary to all expectation, unbelievable, paradoxical, admirable (with regard to athletes, musicians, artists, etc.);” and ἔργων (ergôn), “works, deeds, acts, actions, things, matters, mischiefs, troubles.” Now this phrase appears elsewhere in Josephus only once when as he was recounting the life of the prophet Elijah, he tells of how Elijah “performed wonderful and surprising works by prophecy”9. But here the Jesus that Josephus is talking about is doing these things differently than Elijah: Elijah’s doing the works as ἐπεδείξατο (epedeiksato): “shewed off, made a display of his powers,” whereas this guy seems to be the author or composer of the works, that is, the brains behind them. So here we can translate alternatively the Greek phrase as: “for he was an author of astonishing actions.” Perhaps those actions were the ensign and aqueduct incidents described in Antiquities 18.3.1 and 18.3.2, or maybe he was a sorcerer as the extant Jewish polemic claims. 

Now comes the part about Jesus being a teacher: διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων (didaskalos anthrôpôn tôn êdonê talêthê dechomenôn): “a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.” Now this could hardly have been written by Josephus. The phrase appears to have been written or doctored by a Christian who forgot the line in 2 Timothy 3:4, “lovers of pleasure (φιλήδονοι (philêdonoi) 10) more than lovers of God.” The word ἡδονῇ (êdonê): "enjoyment, sensual, physical or malicious pleasure, delight, pleasant lusts, strong desire, passion" is from whence we get the English term "hedonism." Further, διδάσκαλος (didaskalos) could mean "teacher, master, trainer" (LSJ - of a dithyrambic or dramatic chorus), or "school, producer;" and second, τἀληθῆ (talêthê) certainly means “unconcealed, true, real, truthful, honest, true, unerring, genuine, self-realizing, coming to fulfillment (in an ironic sense in Sophocles and Euripedes)." Yet this passage is in a short paragraph nested in a series of anecdotes (Antiquities 18.3.1 through 18.3.5) about what turned out to be disasters for the Jews! That this paragraph 18.3.3 is followed by anecdotes of two religious scams, one of which also includes an improper seduction of a Roman matron, strongly suggests that if this is not completely forged, Josephus was convinced that Christianity was a scam. It is possible that he used another word with a more negative connotation: ἀνακαλύψας (anakalupsas), “uncovered, open, unveiled, removed a covering, uplifted a veil.” Unconcealed and revealed are excellent synonyms, as in 2 Cor. 3:14. 11 Indeed, in Antiquities, Josephus uses the term in the sense of “uncovered, revealed (i.e., unconcealed).”12, 13, 14 The last reference describes the action of a Roman soldier, charged with guarding the Temple and the assembled masses therein against any possible sedition, who exposed his virile parts. 14 Furthermore, δεχομένων (dechomenôn) returns “taking, accepting, receiving, catching (as in a vessel 15), giving ear, regarding, approving,” etc. So this sentence could be translated as: “a trainer of such men who receive the ‘unconcealed’ with sensual pleasure,” and have a very rude connotation!

Next is the phrase, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο (kai pollous men Ioudaious, pollous de kai tou Ellênikou epêgageto) “He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles.” This coheres very well not only with the positive Christian sense of “won over,” but also the more neutral “drew over” as is shown in the Whiston translation, and even in the negative Jewish polemic sense of “enticed” – the Jewish polemics said Jesus the Nazorean was a mezit to minuth, that is, an enticer to heresy or apostacy. 16 The Greek word ἐπηγάγετο (epêgageto) returns “won over, brought in over and above, brought to himself, procured for himself, brought on or over to himself, urged on, led on to himself by persuasion, invited, laid / applied on [himself].” Note also that τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ (tou Ellênikou) “of the Greeks” (plural, even though it literally translates, “of the Greek” (singular), i.e., “[originally] from Greece.” This, too, has a Christian flavor, but in the pen of a skeptical or even hostile Jewish writer could imply a negative, even a rude connotation instead. So this can translate alternatively as: “and indeed he enticed many of the Jews and even many of the Greeks.”

Next is ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν (o Christos outos ên) “He was the Christ," i.e., the Anointed or the Messiah. Clearly Josephus did not write this. He would have qualified it with a word indicating skepticism about Jesus being the Messiah, such as λεγόμενος (legomenos) 17, “being spoken, said, called.” So this would be rendered more logically as, “He was the one called Anointed [or Messiah],” for Christ is a Christian term, not Jewish. A side note here -- in Antiquities 8.5.2 [133], χριστὸν (christon) (accusative of χριστὸς) means "plastered," as in the plastered interior walls of the First Temple. 18 Take that information for what it's worth, and apply it as you will.

This blog post will continue right here.


Now this: “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;” (καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες (kai auton endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin staurô epitetimêkotos Pilatou ouk epausanto oi to prôton agapêsantes)): this is a long compound sentence and I will have to break it up.

First will be “And when Pilate” (καὶ Πιλάτου (kai Pilatou)). This literally translates as: “And of Pilate.” The word καὶ (kai) can be rendered as, “and, even, also, just, and yet, and where, and how long ago, and indeed, and further, and so, and now,” etc., so “and when” is perfectly valid.

Second is “at the suggestion of the chief men among us” (ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν (endeiksi tôn prôtôn andrôn par' êmin)). This translates well, too: the noun ἐνδείξει (endeiksi) is defined as: “at (with, by) the indication, pointing out, laying of information against, writ of indictment, proof, demonstration.” So the chief men could have issued a writ of indictment after a proper trial, but the meaning of the word implies no trial was necessary – they simply could have passed information along to the Prefect.

Third is: “condemned him to the cross” (αὐτὸν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος (auton staurô epitetimêkotos)). The word for “to the cross” is σταυρῷ (staurô) which could also mean “to the pole” or even “to the impaling stake,” or to the punishment thereof. And this is unusual verbiage for Josephus to use. It sounds Christian; because if Josephus went by his usual nomenclature 19, he would have used the infinite passive of ἀνασταυρόω (anastauroô), which is ἀνασταυρῶσαι (anastauroôsai): “to be impaled, crucified, [or otherwise suspended on a wooden instrument of death by torture].” Also ἐπιτετιμηκότος (epitetimêkotos) which is related to the English word epithet, returns “having laid a value on, having showed honor to, having increased in price; having laid a penalty on, having censured.” So we see here that Pilate is described as simply sentencing Jesus to a death by a suspension on a pole or an equally tortuous wooden object. So if Josephus wrote this, and is correct, we see that Jesus only had one trial – before the Sanhedrin (Jewish Senate) – if even that, for there could have been no trial; in any case, Pilate summarily ordered him to be executed.

Here’s the important part: “those that loved him at the first did not forsake him” (οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες (ouk epausanto oi to prôton agapêsantes)). The verb ἐπαύσαντο (epausanto), meaning, “cease, stopped, left off rested, put an end to, blunted, made to cease, brought to an end, checked, made an end of, left off from, ceased, stopped doing so, abated.” So Josephus is not saying those that loved him at the first did not forsake him (although that is definitely implied), he’s saying they did not leave off doing so, i.e., they kept on doing whatever they were doing with him, which was loving him. Or was it? For the word for “loved” is ἀγαπήσαντες (agapêsantes) -- from the Greek noun ἀγαπή (agape) – which verb actually means “greeted with affection, treated with affection, caressed, loved, sexually loved [but only rarely], fraternally loved [New Testament], were fond of, were well pleased or contented with.” In the Christian sense it only means “fraternally or unconditionally loved” and Josephus was no Christian! So if one is to believe that Josephus wrote this, a meaning with a negative connotation will be appropriate, and unfortunately, Christians, there is only one: “those who physically / sexually loved him at the first did not leave off [doing so].”

And why did they not leave off doing so? Because he showed up alive after he was allegedly crucified! Says the phrase, “for he appeared to them alive again the third day” (ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν (epsanê gar autois tritên echôn êmeran palin zôn). The verb ἐφάνη (epsanê) returns from the LSJ: the aorist third person indicative passive “came to light, was seen, appeared, came into being, was manifest, was joined with [!], was stripped bare [!].” The plural personal pronoun, αὐτοῖς (autois) is in the dative (of object and/or of agent) so it could mean not just “to them” but also “for them, with them, by them, etc.” Then comes the difficult phrase: τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν (tritên echôn êmeran palin zôn) is literally, “having a third day alive again” or “having a third day in full life and strength again.” So the alternative, in a throroughly negative connotation, could be: “for he was joined with [or stripped bare by] them having a third day in full life and strength again.” There is, of course, no telling how long this took, but it appears that if Josephus is not entirely skeptical of the subject Jesus being crucified in the first place, then he is implying that he actually survived being nailed up to and/or penetrated by a crucifixion tool. 20

The next phrase, “as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him” (τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. (tôn theiôn prophêtôn tauta te kai alla muria peri autou thaumasia eirêkotôn.)). Now this is just too Christian. Josephus would never have written anything like this, unless he meant “strange, absurd, extraordinary” for θαυμάσια(thaumasia) instead of “wonderful, marvelous, excellent” as a Christian would mean by the Greek adjective. Yet I know of no evidence, save for the assertions of the small modern day Lubavitcher following of the late Rabbi Schneerson, that the Jews ever saw Jesus (either the subject of this paragraph or of the New Testament) as a person who was forseen by the Prophets. On top of that, Origen said that Josephus did not even believe in (the Christian) Jesus as the Messiah. 21 So this phrase is right out.

But the last sentence could have been written by Josephus as is: “And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον. (eis eti en te nun tôn Christianôn apo toude ônomasmenon ouk epelipe to phulon.)) Since φῦλον (phulon) has meanings other than “tribe,” such as “phylum, race, class of men,” and “swarm,” the last sentence in Josephus’ pen could mean, “And the swarm of Christians have not gone extinct, even unto this day.”

So, after a short statement introducing the paragraph as yet another calamity for the Jews, and perhaps why, here’s how the “Testimonium Flavianum” could have come off to the average educated reader of the day:

[63] Now there came of age about this time a clever, skilled man Yeshua (if one has to call him a man), for he was an author of astonishing deeds, a trainer of such men who receive the ‘unconcealed’ with sensual pleasure. And indeed he enticed many of the Jews and even many of the Greeks. He was the one called Anointed. [64] And when Pilate, at the passing of information by the chief men among us, condemned him to the stauros, those who physically / sexually loved him at the first did not leave off [doing so]: for he was joined with [or stripped bare by] them having a third day in full life and strength again. And the swarm of Christians have not gone extinct, even unto this day.

So there you have it. The “Testimonium Flavianum” with a negative connotation, closer in line with what Josephus would have actually wrote. The problem is, regardless of how it was actually written, or even if it was written at all, it brought none of the ire of the early Church Fathers, especially Origen, whose three quotes from Josephus’ Antiquities where he mentions James, “the brother of the one called Christ” shows he was thoroughly familiar with Books 18 and 20. 22 So it appears we have not just absence of evidence, but also evidence of absence. Either that, or all the Christian writers who knew of it before Eusebius thought it was so blasphemous, that they studiously ignored it. But when Eusebius quotes it, it clearly had become the touched-up “Testimonium Forgianum” that we know of today.

1. Flavius Josephus. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston, A.M. Auburn and Buffalo. John E. Beardsley. 1895. Tufts Perseus Digital Library.

2. Flavius Josephus. Flavii Iosephi opera. B. Niese. Berlin. Weidmann. 1892. Tufts Perseus Digital Library.

3. Word definitions from the LSJ, Middle Liddell, Slater and Autenrieth tabs of the referenced (and linked) words accessed at the Tufts Perseus Greek Word Study Tool.

4. Strong’s Herbrew 4464 מַמְזֵר (mamzer), bastard, child of incest, of mixed population, mongrel i.e., born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother.

5. Origen, Contra Celsum.

6. Wikipedia, Criticism of Jesus, Criticism by Source, Celsus.

7. Josephus Antiquities 12.2.14 [110]: καί πρὸς τὸν Δημήτριον ἤρξατο ποιεῖσθαι λόγους, πῶς οὕτως θαυμαστῆς οὔσης τῆς νομοθεσίας οὐδεὶς οὔτε τῶν ἱστορικῶν αὐτῆς οὔτε τῶν ποιητῶν ἐπεμνήσθη (kai pros ton Dêmêtrion êrksato poieisthai logous, pôs outôs thaumastês tês nomothesias oudeis oute tôn istorikôn autês oute tôn poiêtôn) “And he began to discourse with Demetrius, "How it came to pass, that when this legislation was so wonderful, no one, either of the poets or of the historians, had made mention of it." Cf. 12.2.14 [113]: ἐδήλου δὲ καὶ περὶ Θεοδέκτουτοῦ τῶν τραγῳδιῶν ποιητοῦ ἀναφέρεσθαι (edêlou de kai peri Theodektoutou tôn tragôdiôn poiêtou anapheresthai) “Moreover, he informed him of Theodectes, the tragic poet”

8. Josephus, Antiquities 18.6.2 [147]: ὥστε ἀπορίᾳ τῶν ποιητέων καὶ αἰσχύνῃ τῇ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοῖς (ôste aporia tôn poiêteôn kai aiscêunê tê ep’ autois) “for shame of his present condition” (lit.: inasmuch as a difficulty of the [things] made by himself and the shame concerning them”). This is about Agrippa fleeing to his tower at Malatha in Idumea.

9. Josephus, Antiquities 9.8.6 [182]: θαυμαστὰ γὰρ καὶ παράδοξαδιὰ τῆς προφητείας ἐπεδείξατο ἔργα (thaumata gar kai paradoksadia tês prophêteias epedeiksato erga) “He also performed wonderful and surprising works by prophecy”

10. Strong’s Greek 5369 φιλήδονος (philêdonos), “loving pleasure. From φίλος (philos), ‘friend, dear, lover, beloved’ and ἡδονή (êdonê) ‘pleasure, lust, strong desire, sensuous pleasure’ from where we get the word hedonism.

11. 2 Corinthians 3:14, ἀλλὰ ἐπωρώθη τὰ νοήματα αὐτῶν. ἄχρι γὰρ τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας τὸ αὐτὸ κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναγνώσει τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης μένει, μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον ὅτι ἐν Χριστῷ καταργεῖται• (Alla epôrôthê ta noêmata autôn, achri gar ths sêmeron êmeras to auto kalumma epi th anagnôsei tês palaias diathêkhs menei, mê anakaluptomenon oti en Christô katargeitai. ) “But the minds of them were hardened, indeed until the present day the same veil at the reading of the Old Covenant remains, not revealed, which in Christ is being annulled”

12. Josephus, Antiquities 6.11.4 [218] ἐλθόντες δὲ καὶ ἀνακαλύψαντες τὴν κλίνην καὶ τὸ σόφισμα τῆς γυναικὸς εὑρόντες ἀπήγγειλαν τῷ βασιλεῖ. (elthontes de kai anakalupsantes tên klinên kai to sophisma tês gunaikos eurontes apêggeilan tô basilei.) “now when they came and uncovered the bed, and found out the woman’s contrivance, they told it to the king”

13. Josephus, Antiquities 7.7.3 [151] ἀνεκάλυπτε δ᾽ αὐτῷ καὶ παρεγύμνου τὴν ὀργὴν τοῦ θεοῦ ποιήσαντος μὲν αὐτὸν βασιλέα πάσης τῆς Ἑβραίων δυνάμεως (anekalupte d’ autô kai paregumnon tên orgên tou theou poiêsantos men auton basilea pasês tês Ebraiôn dunameôs) “He also revealed to him, and laid before him, the anger of God against him, who had made him king over the army of the Hebrews”

14. Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.3 [108] τετάρτῃ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς ἑορτῆς στρατιώτης τις ἀνακαλύψας ἐπεδείκνυε τῷ πλήθει τὰ αἰδοῖα (tetartê de êmera tês eortês stratiôtês tis anakalupsas epedeiknue tô plêthei ta aidoia) “But on the fourth day of the feast [of Passover], a certain soldier let down his breeches, and exposed his privy members to the multitude” (lit.: “but on the fourth day of the feast, one soldier uncovered and exhibited to the crowd [his] private parts”)

15. Josephus, Antiquities 3.8.3 [197] μέτρον δ᾽ ἐστὶ τοῦτο ἐπιχώριον δύο χόας Ἀττικοὺς δεχόμενον (metron d’ esti touto epichôrion choas Attikous dechomenon) “an hin is our own country measure, and contains [or ‘catches’] two Athenian choas, or congiuses”

16. Wikipedia, Heresy in Judaism; Cf. Wikipedia, Jesus, “Religious Perspectives / Jewish Views;” Wikipedia, Judaism’s View of Jesus; and Wikipedia, Jesus in the Talmud. Nota bene: the Talmudic accounts with the name Yeshu יֵשׁוּ may refer to the Christian Jesus. He is referred to as a mesit (an enticer to apostasy or heresy).

17. This word is used in Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1 [200]: ἀδελφὸν Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ, Ἰάκωβος ὄνομα αὐτῷ (adelphon Iêsou tou legomenou Christou, Iakôbos onoma autô) “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James.”
18. Josephus, Antiquities 8.5.2 [137]: τὸ δὲ ἄλλο μέχρι τῆς στέγης χριστὸν ἦν (to de allo mechri tês stegês christon ên) “But the other part, up to the roof, was plastered over.”

19. Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.2 [102]: Ἰάκωβος καὶ Σίμων, οὓς ἀνασταυρῶσαι προσέταξεν Ἀλέξανδρος. (Iakôbos kai Simôn, ous anastaurôsai prosetacen Alexandros) “The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.” (lit.: “Jacob and Simon, those Alexander ordered to be crucified / impaled.”)

20. Josephus, Life 75 [420b, 421]: ὡς ἐκεῖθεν ὑποστρέφων εἶδον πολλοὺς αἰχμαλώτους ἀνεσταυρωμένους καὶ τρεῖς ἐγνώρισα συνήθεις μοι γενομένους, ἤλγησά τε τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ μετὰ δακρύων προσελθὼν Τίτῳ εἶπον. ὁ δ᾽ εὐθὺς ἐκέλευσεν καθαιρεθέντας αὐτοὺς θεραπείας ἐπιμελεστάτης τυχεῖν. καὶ οἱ μὲν δύο τελευτῶσιν θεραπευόμενοι, ὁ δὲ τρίτος ἔζησεν. (ôs ekeithen upostrephôn eidon pollous aichmalôtous anestaurômenous kai treis egnôrisa sunêtheis moi genoumenous, êlgêsa te tên psuchên kai meta dakruôn proselthôn Titô eupon.o d’ euthos ekeleusen kathairethentas autous therapeias epimelestatês tuchein. Kai oi men duo teleutôsin therapeuomenoi, o de tritos ezêsen.) as I came back, I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician's hands, while the third recovered.

21. Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 10.17: “Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James." Cf. Contra Celsum 1.47: “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 this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, 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. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine.” Cf. also Contra Celsum 2.13: “For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works. Now in these it is recorded, that “when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall you know that the desolation thereof is near.” But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes clear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”

22. Ibid.