Black Spirituality Religion : Josephus - An Eyewitness to Christianity...


Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2001
New York
Josephus on Jesus

Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) was the most famous of all Jewish historians. He was a member of the priestly aristocracy of the Jews, and was taken hostage by the Roman Empire in the great Jewish revolt of 66-70 AD. Josephus spent the rest of his life in or around Rome as an advisor and historian to three emperors, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. For centuries, the works of Josephus were more widely read in Europe than any book other than the Bible. They are invaluable sources of eyewitness testimony to the development of Western civilization, including the foundation and growth of Christianity in the 1st century...

The so-called Testimonium Flavianum is the only direct discussion of Jesus to be found in the writings of Josephus. Unfortunately, the text as we have it in extant copies of Josephus' Antiquities appears to have been dramatically rewritten from a Christian point of view. (The writings of Josephus were brought down to us from antiquity not by the Jewish community, but by the Christians).

The second column contains an Arabic quotation of the Josephus passage that has a much less Christian flavor. Some scholars have argued that the Arabic version has a more likely claim to originality. Although that is a strong possibility, it should be noted that even the Arabic version is a good deal kinder to Jesus than Josephus usually is to messianic claimants.

In addition, it is harder to see why the Christian scribe would feel so compelled to change it. It is possible that the original may have been much more insulting, in keeping with Josephus' normal pattern, and that the Greek and Arabic versions are simply two different recensions of a Christian rewrite. R. Eisler has made an effort to reconstruct an "original" that might have - given Christian revision - served as a base for the version that survives in Greek. It is, of course, entirely hypothetical, and no textual evidence exists to support it, but it does fit in better with Josephus' usual pattern and language, as well as the general context of the passage.

On the other hand, it may be possible to "save" the Arabic version. Particularly if we remove the last sentence (i.e., "accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders...") as a pious expansion, we are left with a noncommittal report on the martyrdom at Roman hands of a pious Jew. This would not be at all inconsistent with Josephus' style, particularly if he discounted (as later followers' embellishments) the claims made by Christians that Jesus was the Messiah. This last suggestion is to some extent crippled by the less controversial reference in Antiquities 20 if it is genuine...

Similarly, Josephus the pious Jew. For he says in the treatises that he has written on the governance of the Jews:

"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders."

The only usually undisputed allusion to Jesus in Josephus is actually only a passing reference in the context of the trial of James. James is identified, not as "James, son of Mary" as one would normally expect, but as the brother of Jesus. While this passage is more likely to be authentic than the one above, it is not without problems. Origen knows and cites this passage, and is unaware of the Testimonium Flavianum, providing some evidence for its presence in the Antiquities before its Christian reworking.

On the other hand, Origen's version contains the unlikely addition in which Josephus also says that it is as punishment for the execution of James that Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. The possibility suggests itself that even Origen's Josephus has undergone Christian reworking, simply of a different variety, in which, perhaps, the insulting Testimonium has been expunged, and James has been introduced as a pious Jewish hero.

From Antiquities 20.9.1:

"Since Ananus was that kind of person, and because he perceived an opportunity with Festus having died and Albinus not yet arrived, he called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and brought James, the brother of Jesus (who is called 'Messiah') along with some others. He accused them of transgressing the law, and handed them over for stoning..."

Keita Kenyatta

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2004
It might be intresting to note that at the time of Josephus writings, there were 70 historians living and writing. No other mentions Jesus. Josephus was a jew, supposedly, and based upon an investigation of his writings it has been concluded that he did not write what was said in reference to Jesus or that it was a later interpolation. More on this at request. Thank you. Peace !


Well-Known Member
Feb 26, 2013
No way was Josephus against the Son; he was certainly a believer and the writings were his own. Just by reading through all of his writings, one can see where it all makes sense, where he fills in many blank spots, and how Josephus understood the workings of the Father, and how He was saving Israel through the sending of His Son to die for our sins.

Just because he was Jew, or rather a Judaean/Israelite doesn't mean he was against our tried, true, and resurrected Savior, because not all Jews were against their Brother in the flesh, making them His brothers and sisters and mothers in the Spirit, with true belief and all faith.

Reading other Historical writings, which aren't biblical based, help fill in even more which he spoke of, but he was certainly one among the faithful, a holy man, a righteous prophet of the KING.

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