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Re: [XTalk] Questions concerning Ant. 20.9.1 (20.200)

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  • Ken Olson
    ... The second reference in Contra Celsum is in 2.13, not 10.13. Best Wishes, Ken kaolson@mindspring.com
    Message 1 of 9 , May 11, 2003
      Correction to my earlier post:

      > A TLG search for the root of the word brother with Jesus' name in the
      > genitive (ADELF + IHSOU) shows Origen to be the first Christian writer in
      > which this is found. It occurs three times in Origen's references to
      > Josephus' mention of "James the brother of Jesus" (Contra Celsum 1.47,
      > 10.13; Commentary on Matthew 10.17). It is found three other times
      > referring to Jesus' brothers collectively:

      The second reference in Contra Celsum is in 2.13, not 10.13.

      Best Wishes,


    • Brian Trafford
      ... myself, so I set myself to reading the first book of Josephus _Wars_. Here are examples I found where Josephus, for whatever reason, does not include an
      Message 2 of 9 , May 12, 2003
        --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Peter Kirby <kirby@e...> wrote:
        > I have heard this before, and I wanted to see if it is true for
        myself, so I set myself to reading the first book of Josephus'
        _Wars_. Here are examples I found where Josephus, for whatever
        reason, does not include an identifying remark when the names are
        mentioned for the first time.

        I won't respond to every single example you offer, but I would argue
        that several do have Josephus providing some kind of identification
        for the reader.

        > Wars 1.6.6. But Pompey did not give him time to make any
        preparations [for a siege], but followed him at his heels; he was
        also obliged to make haste in his attempt, by the death of
        Mithridates, of which he was informed about Jericho.
        > Josephus does not tell us who Mithridates was.

        Mithridates was a king, and famous enough in his own right to need no
        further elaboration to help the readers identify him.

        > Wars 1.6.6. Yet did not he perform any of the conditions he had
        agreed to; for Aristobulus's party would not so much as admit
        Gabinius into the city, who was sent to receive the money that he had
        > The identity of Gabinius is not explained.

        Well, in Wars 1.8.2 Josephus does tell us that Gabinius "was sent as
        successor to Scaurus into Syria..." On this basis it seems
        reasonable to accept that Josephus was assuming that his readers were
        familiar with this person, or at least with his title.

        > Wars 1.7.4. Now he that first of all ventured to get over the
        wall, was Faustus Cornelius the son of Sylla; and next after him were
        two centurions, Furius and Fabius; and every one of these was
        followed by a cohort of his own, who encompassed the Jews on all
        sides, and slew them, some of them as they were running for shelter
        to the temple, and others as they, for a while, fought in their own
        > Sylla is not identified earlier. Furius and Fabius are completely
        > unidentified.

        The latter are identified as centurions, and as for Sylla, he is the
        father of Faustus Cornelius. In each of these cases we have more
        information than merely saying that they were "a certain" Furius or
        Fabius or Faustus, which would be analogous to what we would have in
        Antiquities 20 if we consider "brother of Jesus the one who was
        called Christ" to be an interpolation.

        > Wars 1.8.3. However, Gabinius sent before him Marcus Antonius, and
        followed himself with his whole army; but for the select body of
        soldiers that were about Antipater, and another body of Jews under
        the command of Malichus and Pitholaus, these joined themselves to
        those captains that were about Marcus Antonius, and met Alexander; to
        which body came Oabinius with his main army soon afterward; and as
        Alexander was not able to sustain the charge of the enemies' forces,
        now they were joined, he retired.
        > Josephus doesn't tell us who Malichus and Pitholaus are, nor is
        Marcus Antonius identified, nor is Oabinius.

        Once again we have Roman names, all connected with the more famous
        Gabinius, not to mention the extremely famous Mark Antony. These
        alone would serve as sufficient identifiers for Josephus' Roman

        > Wars 1.8.8. In the mean time, Crassus came as successor to
        Gabinius in Syria.
        > Josephus seems to assume we know who Crassus was.

        Yes. As he is identified as a governor of Syria, this seems to be
        sufficient distinction.

        > Wars 1.8.9. But now Cassius, after Crassus, put a stop to the
        Parthians, who were marching in order to enter Syria.
        > The identity of Cassius is not explained.

        Again, he doesn't need much additional identification, being one of
        Rome's most famous historical figures.

        > Wars 1.9.1. NOW, upon the flight of Pompey and of the senate
        beyond the Ionian Sea, Caesar got Rome and the empire under his
        power, and released Aristobulus from his bonds.
        > We know who Caesar was.
        > Wars 1.9.2. But Ptolemy, the son of Menneus, who was then ruler of
        > Who's Menneus?

        The father of Ptolemy. ;^)

        Speaking seriously, it is not unusual to identify individuals as
        "A" son of "B". In fact, this was the norm. In such cases it matters
        little if "B" is known or not. In such cases "B" serves as the
        surname for "A".

        I hope that the point is now sufficiently made. The giving of a name
        without any context or qualifier (either by the name of a father, or
        some other famous person associated directly with him) is extremely
        rare, and with good reason. Just as we use modern conventions to
        identify one another (i.e. surnames, titles, ect.), so too did the
        ancients. One could be identified by means of one's position
        (governor of "X", centurion, praetor, ect.), by one's father's name
        ("A" son of "B"), or as the ally (or enemy) of some famous Roman
        general. In the case of Antiquities, telling the reader that "a
        certain James" was executed would be meaningless without further
        elaboration. Connecting him with his brother would be much more
        helpful, especially if that brother was already known to the readers
        from an earlier account. Finally, from Josephus' point of view, that
        may have been all that he knew of James, not knowing his father's
        name, or any other useful identifier to work with.

        > BRIAN
        > > Many of the people mentioned in Antiquities were not famous in
        Rome (at least until Josephus tells them about these people. The
        purpose of the identification appears to be to help explain the fall
        of Ananus, and his replacement with Jesus ben Damneus.
        > PETER
        > I take it, then, that you assume that Josephus had earlier
        described Jesus called Christ and expects his audience to remember
        the passage from the eighteenth book.


        > BRIAN
        > > This one looks obvious. Origen made the connection by reading
        intoJosephus' words, and uses his works to attack the Jews.
        > PETER
        > Not obvious to me! How did Origen read such a thing into Ant.
        20.9.1 that the execution of James was the cause of the destruction
        of Jerusalem?

        This is an interesting argument to make, given that many proponents
        of the theory of interpolation of this passage use Origen's reference
        as their justification. Obviously, on such a theory, the supposed
        interpolator saw this as the best fit for Origen's reference, but as
        you note the connection is rather vague. More realistically, Origen
        is merely reading anachronistically into the account, and using it to
        explain why God would have punished the Jews for not only killing the
        Messiah, but also for killing his brother unjustly. Granted, Origen
        does not have much to work with here (there is no reference to James
        as "known as the just" or as a righteous man unjustly condemned in
        Josephus' account), but if read in the context of Origen's (and
        others') understanding of Jewish history and Scripture, fitting a
        pattern of disobedience by the Jews, followed by God's punishment for
        that disobedience. This allows Origen to connect the story of James'
        death with earlier ones of prophets unjustly killed, not to mention
        that of Jesus, Stephen, and others.

        > Do you assume that Josephus used the word "Christ" in chapter 18?


        > Why would Josephus introduce a Jewish term to which he has a
        general aversion at this point only and not give an explanation of
        its meaning, particularly as Josephus is sensitive to his audience
        and explains the meaning of the Jewish concepts that he mentions?
        > Wouldn't it have been more attractive for Josephus to use "the one
        crucified by Pilate" if he had a general aversion to the term Christ
        and did not use it in the context of Vespasian or those rebels who
        put on the diadem?

        I typically shy away from speculating on motives for why anyone
        writes what he or she does, as we simply cannot know motivations for
        people so long dead. If I did have to make a guess, however, my
        reading of this passage indicates that Josephus sees Ananus as the
        bad guy, who is acting rashly and without justification, overstepping
        his authority, and thereby demonstrating his unfitness for office as
        High Priest. The Romans (i.e. Albinius), on the other hand, come off
        rather well in this episode. If Josephus had reminded his readers
        that Ananus was executing someone that had been the brother of a
        man "crucified by Pontius Pilate" this may have lessened the impact
        of Ananus' "scandalous" behaviour, and even given him, some political
        cover in the minds of the readers. After all, if the brother was a
        criminal killed by Pilate, maybe this James character was too, and
        deserved what he was getting! Ananus' actions may have been a bit
        hasty, and even rash, but justifiable, given the family history
        involved here. Since this obviously did not serve Josephus' polemical
        agenda, he would have wanted to downplay the history of Jesus'
        execution, and focused instead on the outrageousness of Ananus'
        illegal actions.

        > And even if Josephus decided to use this politically charged term,
        how could he not give an explanation or rationalization of its
        meaning at some point?

        Suetonius did not feel the need to elaborate on the name/title
        chrestus when he wrote of this trouble maker (in all likelihood he
        didn't know it had any). Nor did it seem to bother Nero much to dig
        into its dubious character. It was sufficient to know that the word
        meant troublemaker (worse still, a Jewish troublemaker!), and leave
        it at that. One rarely needs to know the origins of a durogatory
        name in order to understand its connotative meaning (one need only
        think of a few racial slurs to see this).

        > And given its negative connotation to Romans, would the relatively
        positive reconstruction of the Testimonium proposed by Meier et al.
        be believable, as though Josephus would approve of one called Christ
        by many?

        I am not defending Meier's reconstruction. In my view, referring to
        Jesus as the "so called christ" or "the one called the christ" would
        have been sufficient. It connects him with a group of mysterious
        troublemakers (the Christians), making him the presumed founder of
        this nefarious group.


        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • Geoff Hudson
        ... famous enough in Rome to be used for the purposes of identification? ... Perhaps it was not Jesus who was known to be famous, but James. Then it would
        Message 3 of 9 , May 13, 2003
          --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Peter Kirby <kirby@e...> wrote:

          > 1. How did the personage being used to identify James come to be
          famous enough in Rome to be used for the purposes of identification?

          > 2. Why don't we find out anything about James in this passage?

          > 3. Why isn't the passage clear about whether James died?

          Perhaps it was not Jesus who was known to be famous, but James. Then
          it would have been unnecessary to say anything further about him. He
          would have had to be well known by Romans and Jews alike. Proving
          that James spent years in Rome is difficult, but that is what I think
          he did. He probably went there, possibly with his brother John (I
          see the two together), following the outbreak of persecution as
          described in Acts. I think that much of the history lies buried in
          the Clementine literature.

          I have no problem in seeing the passage as a later edit of
          Josephus' original text, but would hesitate to say it was
          a "Christian" interpolation, because I suspect that the
          original meaning of "Christian" may have been different from
          later understanding. I see the adjacent text as being so heavily
          contaminated with dissimulation that there is every reason not to
          make an exception of Ant. 20.9.1. I would simply refer to two
          examples. The first is the stunning parallels between the story of
          Helena and Izates (Ant.20.2) and the events in the lives of Agrippina
          and Nero. The second is the ridiculous story about Agrippa building
          a "very large" dining room in his palace to observe the
          sacrifices in the temple, only to have his view obscured by the
          construction of a wall in the temple (Ant.20.8.11). I can accept
          that a "very large" wall was constructed, but I say
          ridiculous because the view from the palace in the west to the alter
          on the eastern side of the sanctuary would be obscured by the high
          sanctuary building without the need for a wall. The wall was built to
          obscure the alter from a different aspect.

          I have similar reservations about the TF.

          A speculative reconstruction of the passage:

          [ ] = read out
          {} = read in

          But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the
          high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he
          was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging
          offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already
          observed; when, therefore, [Ananus was of this disposition] (1)
          {Albinus was but upon the road}, he thought he had now a proper
          opportunity to exercise his authority. [Festus] (2) {James} was now
          dead, [and Albinus was but upon the road]; so he assembled the
          sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of [Jesus]
          (3) {James} [, who was called Christ], whose name was [James] {John},
          and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed
          an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them
          to be stoned."

          (1) The editor has already described Ananus' "disposition", and has
          moved the phrase "Albinus was but upon the road" from its
          natural position.

          (2) It is my view that James was killed earlier, possibly in Rome.
          Having rid themselves of James, this was now the opportunity for the
          high priests to finish the job and remove the next most important
          leader, John.

          (3) Jesus was substituted by the editor for James. "Who was
          called Christ" could be an addition if James was well known, or
          it could be "who was called Just", or it could be "who was
          called lord" - "just" and "lord" being titles used elsewhere.

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