Flavius Josephus Terminology of Magic: Accommodating Jewish Magic to a Roman Audience

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Subjects: General , Jewish Studies. Volume Issue 1. Export References.

Jsm : Journal for the Academic Study of Magic: Issue 5 (2009, Paperback)

Schwartz, eds. Harvey , True Israel, On the Roman inscription, see Ross S. The community at Delos also referred to themselves as Israelites, but the connection with Gerizim likely indicates Samaritan origins; see A. It is not, however, used as an eponym. Cowey and Maresch , Urkunden des Politeuma, Goodblatt , Elements, See, for example , m. See also Harvey , True Israel, See, for example , Ant.

Scott, ed. See Stern , Jewish Identity, In his two great works, The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities , both written in Greek for educated people, Josephus tried to appeal to aristocrats in the Roman world, presenting Judaism as a religion to be admired for its moral and philosophical depth. Josephus described it:.

Being therefore this kind of person [i. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned. The sole reason for referring to James at all was that his death resulted in Ananus losing his position as high priest. James Jacob was a common Jewish name at this time.

Therefore Josephus identified this James by reference to his famous brother Jesus. Josephus mentions at least 12 other men named Jesus. This extraneous reference to Jesus would have made no sense if Jesus had not been a real person. Few scholars have ever doubted the authenticity of this short account.

On the contrary, the huge majority accepts it as genuine. The latter is unlikely. First-century Romans generally had little or no idea who Christus was. It is much more likely that he was mentioned earlier in Jewish Antiquities.

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Rather, his name appears in a functional phrase that is called for by the sense of the passage. The Testimonium Flavianum reads as follows; the parts that are especially suspicious because they sound Christian are in italics : Around this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.

He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who in the first place came to love him did not give up their affection for him, for on the third day, he appeared to them restored to life. The prophets of God had prophesied this and countless other marvelous things about him.

And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, have still to this day not died out. All surviving manuscripts of the Testimonium Flavianum that are in Greek, like the original, contain the same version of this passage, with no significant differences. The main question is: Did Flavius Josephus write this entire report about Jesus and his followers, or did a forger or forgers alter it or possibly insert the whole report?

Regarding Alternative 1, today almost no scholar accepts the authenticity of the entire standard Greek Testimonium Flavianum. The bold affirmation of Jesus as Messiah reads as a resounding Christian confession that echoes St. Peter himself! Alternative 1 is clearly out. Regarding Alternative 2—the whole Testimonium Flavianum is a forgery—this is very unlikely.

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Even more important, the short passage treated above that mentions Jesus in order to identify James appears in a later section of the book Book 20 and implies that Jesus was mentioned previously. Photo: Codex Parisinus gr. The short reference to Jesus in the later book depends on the longer one in the earlier Book If the longer one is not genuine, this passage lacks its essential background. Alternative 2 should be rejected. Alternative 3—that the Testimonium Flavianum is based on an original report by Josephus 29 that has been modified by others, probably Christian scribes, seems most likely.

After extracting what appear to be Christian additions, the remaining text appears to be pure Josephus. As a Romanized Jew, Josephus would not have presented these beliefs as his own. Interestingly, in three openly Christian, non-Greek versions of the Testimonium Flavianum analyzed by Steve Mason, variations indicate changes were made by others besides Josephus. We can learn quite a bit about Jesus from Tacitus and Josephus, two famous historians who were not Christian.

Almost all the following statements about Jesus, which are asserted in the New Testament, are corroborated or confirmed by the relevant passages in Tacitus and Josephus. These independent historical sources—one a non-Christian Roman and the other Jewish—confirm what we are told in the Gospels: They believed that Jesus later appeared to them alive in accordance with prophecies, most likely those found in the Hebrew Bible.

A well-attested link between Jesus and Christians is that Christ, as a term used to identify Jesus, became the basis of the term used to identify his followers: Christians. The Christian movement began in Judea, according to Tacitus. Josephus observes that it continued during the first century. Tacitus deplores the fact that during the second century it had spread as far as Rome. As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist. Thus his birth, ministry and death occasioned claims that his birth was illegitimate and that he performed miracles by evil magic, encouraged apostasy and was justly executed for his own sins.

But they do not deny his existence. Want more on Biblical figures? Lucian of Samosata c.

Accommodating Jewish Magic to a Roman Audience

In two sections of Peregrinus —here translated by Craig A. It was then that he learned the marvelous wisdom of the Christians, by associating with their priests and scribes in Palestine. And—what else? He interpreted and explained some of their books, and wrote many himself.

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  • They revered him as a god, used him as a lawgiver, and set him down as a protector—to be sure, after that other whom they still worship, the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world. For having convinced themselves that they are going to be immortal and live forever, the poor wretches despise death and most even willingly give themselves up. Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping that crucified sophist himself and living according to his laws.

    Lucian seems to have gathered all of his information from sources independent of the New Testament and other Christian writings. For this reason, this writing of his is usually valued as independent evidence for the existence of Jesus. Other documentary sources are doubtful or irrelevant.

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    One can label the evidence treated above as documentary sometimes called literary or as archaeological. Almost all sources covered above exist in the form of documents that have been copied and preserved over the course of many centuries, rather than excavated in archaeological digs. Therefore, although some writers call them archaeological evidence, I prefer to say that these truly ancient texts are ancient documentary sources, rather than archaeological discoveries. The name Jesus was very common at this time, as was Joseph. So as far as we know, these ordinary ossuaries have nothing to do with the New Testament Jesus.

    Following well established, sound methodology, I do not base conclusions on materials whose authenticity is uncertain, because they might be forged. As a final observation: In New Testament scholarship generally, a number of specialists consider the question of whether Jesus existed to have been finally and conclusively settled in the affirmative.

    A few vocal scholars, however, still deny that he ever lived. The article was first republished in Bible History Daily on December 8, Lawrence Mykytiuk is associate professor of library science and the history librarian at Purdue University.

    He holds a Ph. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, See biblicalarchaeology. John P. I gratefully dedicate this article to my brother, Thomas S.


    Did Jesus Christ Really Exist? Proving Jesus Without the Bible | Beginning And End

    Mykytiuk, to the memory of his wife, Nancy E. Mykytiuk, and to their growing tribe of descendants.

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    I wish to thank Dr. Stuart D. Feldman, for kindly offering his comments on an early draft of this article. That previous article is based on my own research, because few other researchers had worked toward the twin goals I sought: first, developing the necessary methodology, and second, applying that methodology comprehensively to archaeological materials that relate to the Hebrew Bible. In contrast, this article treats an area that has already been thoroughly researched, so I have gleaned material from the best results previously obtained may the reader pardon the many quotations.

    Another contrast is that the challenge in the research that led to the previous article was to determine whether the inscriptions down to B. In the present article, most of the documents very clearly refer to the Jesus of the New Testament. Only in relatively few instances, such as some rabbinic texts, is the reference very unclear.