So you guys in shock? I NEVER write two blog post in a week!! Blame it on taking a few weeks off and also on a conversation that made me want to re-read a certain historian called Josephus. For those of you who don’t know him a quick biography:-
TITUS FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS
Born: Yosef Ben Matityahu
Born A.D. 37
Romano-Jewish scholar, born in Jerusalem
He wrote numerous works on world history from a Jewish perspective for a Roman audience. With me so far? Good! His writings give us valuable insight into 1st Century Judaism and the background of his peoples. However, lest we forget, his main source material was, of course, the Torah. So more of a religious history then.
Now to continue, on those rare occasions when a theist actually wants to talk of evidence outside of the Bible, Josephus’ name usually gets pulled out of the bag. What doI do you wonder? Well – I rub my hands together in glee, it is always nice to move away from the religious texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…….
Well, in theory anyway.
You see Josephus wrote “The Antiquities of the Jews” around 94 C.E which is the earliest description of Jesus outside of the bible. Or is it?
Where did he get his information from? A primary source? A secondary source?…… nope a Christian document in circulation around 90 C.E. written by Christians. On closer inspection, he also more or less copies the “Book of Luke”
There are no Roman records of any actual events regarding Jesus or infact any of the characters or small non-Jewish religious groups at that time. Josephus published his book on the History of the Jews in Rome around AD 93-94. He included the paragraph ( please see below) on Jesus where he mentions “christians” before they were known as such. Proof if any were needed that although Josephus wrote the original manuscript some parts are not authentic and were added much later by christian scholars. Scholarly opinion agrees that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was expanded on and altered by Christian scholars.
Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή: ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο: ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες: ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3[52
Josephus did mention a teacher called Jesus. However, let me point out Josephus wrote about a number of people who went by the name of Jesus, Yeshua, and Joshua. Of course, later writers would add interpretations based on information that would correspond with the New Testament accounts. How do we know this? Because there are various copies of Josephus work in different languages with various passages either added or deducted to suit.
Regardless of when it was written, Josephus has no primary sources and as he wasn’t born until AD 37 has nothing but hearsay to lean on. He may have been a good scholar and his Jewish history is a fascinating read but alas more of a novelist than a factual historian then. He is like most theological scholars who only relate to their own particular version of events. They brush off any evidence that doesn’t fit their religious text.
There are 126 historical texts written around the 1st Century era and in none is Jesus mentioned
The only sources where you will find mention is as follows:-
PLINY THE YOUNGER (born 62 CE)
His letter about the Christians only shows he got his information from Christians
TACITUS (Born 64 CE)
Born well after the alleged life of Jesus. He mentions ‘Christus” briefly in ( Book XV Sec 44) which he wrote in 109 CE. He gives no source for his information
SUETONIUS (Born 69 CE)
mentions a ‘Chrestus’ a common name. Apologists assume he means ‘christ’ but it still says nothing about an earthly Jesus
Stop laughing! Some christians actually use excerpts from the Talmud as evidence of Jesus. They claim Yeshua refers to jesus. However, historians believe this is in reference to Yeshua Ben-Perachia who was born a century before Jesus. Again, it doesn’t matter as this is a Palestinian version of the Talmud and wasn’t written until 5 Century CE. This would, in fact, seem to be written purposefully to include the mythology of Jesus into the Talmud.
BUT WHAT OF WRITINGS ABOUT JESUS DURING HIS LIFETIME?
Well, now there’s a thing ———— there aren’t any! Most revealing of all is the fact that all the people who wrote about him never met him. Not a single one! Curious huh?
Think about it, not a single historian, philosopher, scribe or follower ever mentioned him!
There are many, many historical figures throughout time, Atilla The Hun, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Cleopatra, Napolean etc, etc. The difference is we have irrefutable evidence of their existence – not so Jesus.
Interestingly almost all historical figures have descriptions of what they looked like. Nowhere in the bible do we have a description of Jesus. How odd that none of his disciples or characters in the bible record what he looked like?- and yet they managed to record every word he uttered. Curious.. kinda points to the fact of a myth, doesn’t it? So that no matter where you are you picture your version of Jesus, blond, blue-eyed, Mediterranean, middle eastern?Hmm?
You see where I’m going with this right?
Do people actually believe that because something is written and spread about a character called Jesus, it means he actually lived? Facts derive out of evidence, not hearsay, not from theological scholars and certainly not from faithful believers. Regardless of your position or circle of admirers, if you can’t support a hypothesis with evidence. It is just a hypothesis!
The truth is Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, etc reveal to us it is simply a myth derived from much earlier mythology or possibly archetypical hero-worship. Every religion alive today is derived from a hodgepodge of many stories…. like Chinese whispers.. that’s all……..
THE END 🙂