Marian Hillar on the Testimonium Flavianum
- Those of you who are not tired of hearing about the Testimonium Flavianum might be interested in Marian Hillar's essay on it, available in pdf form at:
or you can just google "Hillar" and "Testimonium" to get either the pdf or html versions.
Basically, Hillar argues that the Testimonium is completely inauthentic and that the identification of James as "the brother of Jesus who was called Christ" in Ant. 20.200 is a later gloss inserted to identify the James found in Josephus with the James of Christian tradition. I am in general agreement with Hillar on those points, but differ from him on several others, especially those having to do with the chronology and genealogy of the witnesses.
Kenneth A. Olson
MA, History, University of Maryland
PhD Student, Theology, University of Birmingham
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- [from Geoff Riggs; not Liz H., my better half]
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ken Olson" <kenolson101@...> wrote:
> Those of you who are not tired of hearing about the Testimonium
Flavianum might be interested in Marian Hillar's essay on it, available
in pdf form at:
> or you can just google "Hillar" and "Testimonium" to get either the
pdf or html versions.
> Basically, Hillar argues that the Testimonium is completely
inauthentic and that the identification of James as "the brother of
Jesus who was called Christ" in Ant. 20.200 is a later gloss inserted to
identify the James found in Josephus with the James of Christian
tradition. I am in general agreement with Hillar on those points
[G.R.] Although I have seen some cogency in some of the arguments
questioning certain phrases in the TF, I still have trouble seeing the
logic in any argument advanced against the reference to James in
Ant.20.200. Unlike the TF, we have direct citations of this Josephan
reference to James as early as Origen, well before any Christian scribe
would be very likely to interpolate this James reference in a Josephus
text. Moreover, the more entrenched Christian tradition became, the
higher the discomfort in associating any member of Jesus's family with a
sibling relationship to Jesus, due to developing beliefs around Jesus's
mother Mary. Considerations like these point to a perspective very much
like Josephus being behind Ant.20.200 and not a later Christianized one.
For all these reasons -- and having now read the Hillar essay cited
above -- I remain unconvinced as to the proposed inauthenticity of the
wording in Ant.20.200. If there are any arguments for its
inauthenticity in addition to those cited in the Hillar URL, I'd be
interested in seeing them. But so far, I see such arguments as having
certain distinct flaws.
- Hm. The discussion gives a lot of attention to the
treatment and use of Josephus in the time from his
writing to a much later period.
It tends to focus mainly on the content and themes
in the disputed passage, and in the related passages
in Josephus, and the way these motifs are used in
later writers, which is fair enough.
What it does not do is look at the stylistic evidence.
The TF is either interpolated or completely spurious
but which? By taking successive short phrases of a
few words at a time one can see which of these phrases
uses a linguistic pattern which reappears a) in the
rest of the extensive works of Josephus b) in an even
larger quantity of early Christian texts.
The result is that the phrases which are unproblematic
in their content in the TF do reappear elsewhere in
Josephus, and those which are more suspect do not.
Also the first set of these phrases do not appear
in the very large quantity of early Christian texts
available in digital form since the early TLG disc came out.
Eusebius does elsewhere use some of the phrases in question.
But then Eusebius cites the TF. So it is possible that
E repeated elsewhere phrases from an already interpolated
TF. (Or, if you think E was in the habit of
falsifying other quotations then one might suspect
him of being the interpolator).
The main drawback with the stylistic method tried, is that
it is checking extremely short passages from the TF against
a very large quantity of other text a) in Josephus and
b) elsewhere. This is not a normal stylometric procedure
and it would need rather smarter statistical methods than
are usually used in stylometry to knock it into shape and
test it properly. Also I think changes to the TLG might make
it hard to re-test some of this - the earlier systems for
stylistic work on the TLG may have been more flexible.
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
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