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Re: Joe's view on Josephus

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  • joe baxter
    ... At least as I understand it, this does not change anything. Previously, Ian, I quoted what I believe was *your own* translation, i.e., Aretas made this
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 1, 1998
      At 04:07 PM 11/1/98 +0100, I wrote:

      >>Josephus does not place " the repudiation of the daughter of Aretas by Herod
      >>Antipas as the fundamental reason for the strife between Herod and Aretas."
      >>Not at least in my Whiston translation. What he says is that "Aretas made
      >>this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod . . . ." What
      >>seems suggested is that *Aretas* may have declared this as his reason for
      >>going to war.

      Ian answered:
      >I did specifically deal with this sentence as a misleading translation of
      >"archEn echthras" based on an early form of English. The Greek actually
      >implies "first (or fundamental) cause for the strife".
      >
      >So the passage is actually quite plain.

      At least as I understand it, this does not change anything. Previously, Ian,
      I quoted what I believe was *your own* translation, i.e.,

      "Aretas made this [the repudiation] the first cause of the strife between
      him and Herod, who had a quarrel with him about their boundaries at GamalikEi."

      Is this in fact your translation, Ian. If not please give your translation.
      And, if it is not too much to ask, could you also provide a M. Grondin style
      interlineated translation.

      If this is your translation, nothing is changed by your translation since in
      both translations we have Aretas, not Josephus, providing the first cause of
      the strife.(How, in any case would Josephus ever really know what the first
      cause of the strife? Considering how far he is removed in time, and
      considering the unreliability of hearsay evidence.) If we still have Aretas
      providing the first cause of the strife, then my prior remarks are still on
      point:

      "Now I ask you, Ian, is it your habit to believe the reasons which are cited
      by a country as the real reasons which the country has for going to war?
      Would you agree with me that most wars have financial and territorial ("who
      had a quarrel with him about their boundaries at GamalikEi") considerations
      behind them, and the cited grounds are usually pretextual? Are you in the
      habit of believing politicians? Do you still (or did you ever) believe
      America's cited reasons for going to war with North Viet Nam? How about
      Hitler's reasons for invading Poland? How about Russia's cited reasons for
      invading Czechoslovakia? How about Kenneth Starr's reasons for going at Bill
      Clinton? If Aretas' real reasons for going to war were abjectly territorial,
      would you expect him to declare his reasons?

      I recognize, Ian, that the cited passage is ambiguous. Still, it is my
      experience that gold, land, and self protection are behind most wars. I do
      not trust the reasons given by Aretas."



      >
      To which Ian asked:
      >>
      >>>Does this mean too that you believe that Josephus had no reason for
      >>>connecting the death of John the Baptist with the war between Aretas and
      >>>Herod?
      >>
      I answered:
      >>One senses in Josephus that he may have believed that divine forces were
      >>somewhat ostensible. Thus he says:
      >>
      >>"It was also reported, that when Aretas heard of the coming of Vitellius, to
      >>fight him, he said upon the consulting his diviners, that it was impossible
      >>that this army of Vitellius' could enter Petra; for that one of the rulers
      >>would die, either he that gave orders for the war . . . ."
      >>
      >>Thus Tiberius died, Aretas received fate's protection, and Herod received a
      >>fate due him. That is the sense I get from Josephus. But you read far too
      >>much into this to suggest a date for JB's death. Fate has its way of
      >>catching up to people, but it works at its own inexorable rate.

      Ian is not satisfied:
      Unfortunately, Joe, I can't see how this deals with the question you were
      trying to answer. Did Josephus have a reason for connecting the death of
      John the Baptist with the war between Aretas and Herod or did he not?

      I believe I answered your question, but I will try one more time.

      Your question, as they say, "assumes facts not in evidence." Josephus does
      not make an explicit connection. His theme, instead seems to be one of
      drawing attention to the interesting forces of fate at work. In the passages
      we are discussing, he provides the info re the death of JB because some Jews
      said there was a connection, not between the war and the death, as you
      suggest, but between the outcome of the war and the death of JB. But
      Josephus doesn't say when JB died, and the passages do not really provide a
      strong basis for an inference on this subject. If JB made a deep impression
      in his time,and if JB continued to have followers many years later, as had
      been suggested, Herod's baseless and ruthless murder of this popular prophet
      could have, in the minds of "some Jews," endowed Herod with a mark of Cain.
      Indeed, given the story of Tiberius' death ("It was also reported, that when
      Aretas heard of the coming of Vitellius, to fight him, he said upon the
      consulting his diviners, that it was impossible that this army of Vitellius'
      could enter Petra; for that one of the rulers
      would die, either he that gave orders for the war . . . .") it would be
      natural to believe in such connections. Ancient people, more than the people
      of our own time, tended to believe in the *timeless* and inexorable workings
      of fate.

      With kind regards,

      Joe
    • Ian Hutchesson
      ... It should. One can t distance it on the basis of it only being the first occasion that there was a grievance, for this was the principal grievance. ...
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 2, 1998
        >>I did specifically deal with this sentence as a misleading translation of
        >>"archEn echthras" based on an early form of English. The Greek actually
        >>implies "first (or fundamental) cause" for the strife.
        >>
        >>So the passage is actually quite plain.
        >
        >At least as I understand it, this does not change anything. Previously, Ian,

        It should. One can't distance it on the basis of it only being the first
        occasion that there was a grievance, for this was the principal grievance.

        >I quoted what I believe was *your own* translation, i.e.,

        Basically. I consulted the Greek text at the MIT Classic Tech Library.

        >"Aretas made this [the repudiation] the first cause of the strife between
        >him and Herod, who had a quarrel with him about their boundaries at GamalikEi."
        >
        >Is this in fact your translation, Ian. If not please give your translation.
        >And, if it is not too much to ask, could you also provide a M. Grondin style
        >interlineated translation.

        I suggest you have a look where I did. I don't have a Greek source for Josephus.

        >If this is your translation, nothing is changed by your translation since in
        >both translations we have Aretas, not Josephus, providing the first cause of
        >the strife. (How, in any case would Josephus ever really know what the first
        >cause of the strife? Considering how far he is removed in time, and
        >considering the unreliability of hearsay evidence.) If we still have Aretas
        >providing the first cause of the strife, then my prior remarks are still on
        >point:

        Joe, I simply didn't understand the logic of this. Josephus provides the
        background to the war. I see no point in trying to make modern analogies to
        the situation as the stakes are very different. Marriage was a totally
        political event between rulers in the ancient world. This is a matter of
        power and politics, or definitely would have been for Aretas. So forget the
        second world war, or whatever.

        >I recognize, Ian, that the cited passage is ambiguous.

        In what way ambiguous?

        >Still, it is my
        >experience that gold, land, and self protection are behind most wars. I do
        >not trust the reasons given by Aretas."

        That is deeply involved in the marriage.

        >To which Ian asked:
        >>>
        >>>>Does this mean too that you believe that Josephus had no reason for
        >>>>connecting the death of John the Baptist with the war between Aretas and
        >>>>Herod?
        >>>
        >I answered:
        >>>One senses in Josephus that he may have believed that divine forces were
        >>>somewhat ostensible. Thus he says:
        >>>
        >>>"It was also reported, that when Aretas heard of the coming of Vitellius, to
        >>>fight him, he said upon the consulting his diviners, that it was impossible
        >>>that this army of Vitellius' could enter Petra; for that one of the rulers
        >>>would die, either he that gave orders for the war . . . ."
        >>>
        >>>Thus Tiberius died, Aretas received fate's protection, and Herod received a
        >>>fate due him. That is the sense I get from Josephus. But you read far too
        >>>much into this to suggest a date for JB's death. Fate has its way of
        >>>catching up to people, but it works at its own inexorable rate.
        >
        >Ian is not satisfied:
        >Unfortunately, Joe, I can't see how this deals with the question you were
        >trying to answer. Did Josephus have a reason for connecting the death of
        >John the Baptist with the war between Aretas and Herod or did he not?
        >
        >I believe I answered your question, but I will try one more time.
        >
        >Your question, as they say, "assumes facts not in evidence." Josephus does
        >not make an explicit connection. His theme, instead seems to be one of
        >drawing attention to the interesting forces of fate at work. In the passages
        >we are discussing, he provides the info re the death of JB because some Jews
        >said there was a connection, not between the war and the death, as you
        >suggest, but between the outcome of the war and the death of JB.

        This should be sufficient, that it was thought that someone thought that
        there was a connection between JB's death and the war. Josephus records it
        as having some relevance to the events. Josephus is quite a reasonable
        historian for his time, even given his clear apologetic aims both for
        himself and his people. He shows himself to be critical. Had this connection
        seemed unreasonable, he would have commented. If he had added it himself, it
        would have been because the connection seemed reasonable, ie no exaggerate
        time lag between the death and the war. It is inescapable that the death of
        John the Baptist is perceived by Josephus as in some way relevant, whether
        he was the source or not.

        Some people have this idea that if you sneeze, it'd make sense to say "bless
        you" even a week later.


        Ian

        If you wonder why you get just one copy of this message, Joe, I sent it too
        the list only, so that you wouldn't get a wasted second copy.
      • joe baxter
        At 10:03 AM 11/2/98 +0100, you wrote: Basically. I consulted the Greek text at the MIT Classic Tech Library. I suggest you have a look where I did. I don t
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 2, 1998
          At 10:03 AM 11/2/98 +0100, you wrote:

          "Basically. I consulted the Greek text at the MIT Classic Tech Library. I
          suggest you have a look where I did. I don't have a Greek source for Josephus."

          Fortunately, Ian, you are located at kind of the midway point between
          Occidental, California, where I am, and Europe, where quite a few folk are.
          Still, Ian, this is going to be a little out of the way for Anne Quast in
          Australia. Will you at least pick us up at the airport?

          Joe
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