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Josephus' Jesus-Ananias & Mark's Jesus

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  • Theodore Weeden
    ... Where does Josephus refer to Jesus son of Ananias in his _Antiquities_? In the index of the Loeb edition of the Antiquities, there is no citing of Jesus
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2005
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      Karen Hanhart wrote on January 31:

      > The story of Jesus son of Ananias is certainly intriguing. You presuppose
      > that Josephus is completely reliable in his report and that Mark's trial
      > was
      > modelled after the trial of this person.
      > The same thing has been said of one of the last stories on the Fall of
      > Jerusalem in his Life 420 - 422. It concerned a supposedly historical
      > encounter of Josephus with three captives crucified, one of whom survived
      > the ordeal.
      > However, is Josephus completely reliable? Doesn't it make more sense to
      > turn the argument around. In that case Mark's gospel was doing the rounds
      > in
      > Rome, soon after 70 and Josephus in his Life mockingly referred to Mark's
      > crucifixion/resurrection narrative soon after the publication of Mark's
      > gospel.

      > Likewise writing about Jesus son of Ananias in his Antiquities, he also
      > invented the trial scenes of this Jesus son of Ananias in his
      > Antiquities

      Where does Josephus refer to Jesus son of Ananias in his _Antiquities_? In
      the index of the Loeb edition of the Antiquities, there is no citing of
      son of Ananias in the _Antiquities_.

      > The fact that Josephus nowhere refers explicitly to the sizeable Jesus'
      > movement, makes one wonder. Others have found mocking, cryptic references
      > to
      > the apostles and the gospel in Josephus.
      > Insiders in the Jewish quarter of Rome, including Christian ioudaioi,
      > would
      > have understood Josephus' mockery full well, while his Roman readers were
      > led by the nose.

      Let me address, in my judgment, the most pertinent issues you raise here.
      What follows is an extremely long essay, necessitated by the case I am
      making. First of all, I place the Markan community in the village region of
      Caesarea, but that is a subject for another thread. Second, you raise the
      question regarding Josephus' reliability. I am not quite sure what you mean
      by reliability. If you are asking about his historical accuracy in
      reporting the story of Jesus son of Ananias, I am not sure whether such a
      person ever existed. I reproduce here the story with a translation provided
      by Robert Funk. The text marked by astericks will be examined in the
      Johannine portion of my presentation here. Here now the Josephus story
      of Jesus son of Ananias in _War_, VI. 300-301.

      "§300 Four years before the war, when the city was at peace and enjoying
      prosperity, someone named Jesus son of Ananias, an illiterate peasant, came
      to the feast at which it is customary for everyone to erect a temporary
      shelter to God [*the Feast of Booths*], and suddenly began to cry out in the
      Temple: "A voice from the east, §301 a voice from the west, a voice from
      the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Temple, a voice against
      the grooms and the brides, a voice against all the people." Day and night,
      through all the narrow streets of the city, he went about shouting this
      refrain. §302 Some of the elders became so enraged over the oracle
      forecasting doom that they arrested the fellow and assaulted him with blows.
      But he, without a word in his own defense or under his breath for those
      striking him, just kept crying out as he had done previously.

      §303 Thereupon, the leaders of the Sanhedrin, convinced that he was under
      the control of some supernatural power, as was the case, brought him before
      the Roman governor. §304 Although *flayed to the bone with scourages*, he
      did not plead for mercy nor did he shed any tears, rather, varying his voice
      in the most lamenting tone, he cried out with each lash, "Woe to Jerusalem!"
      §305 When *Albinus began interrogating him* --- Albinus, you will recall,
      was governor --- *about who he was*, and *where he was from*, and why he
      kept crying out, *he did not reply at all to these questions*, nor did he
      stop repeating his dirge over the city. He kept this up until *Albinus*
      declared him a maniac and *released him*.

      §306 And up until the time the war began, he never approached any of the
      citizens nor was he observed speaking to any of them, but day after day, as
      though it were a prayer he had carefully composed, he evoked his lament,
      'Woe to Jerusalem!' §307 He neither cursed those who beat him every day,
      nor did he bless those who offered him food. To everyone he gave the same
      reply --- the melancholy omen in his lamentation. §308 *His cries were
      most vociferous during the feast days*. So he continued wailing for seven
      years and five months until he saw his prediction fulfilled in the siege of
      the city. Then he found peace. You see, as he was making his rounds and
      shouting in a piercing voice from the wall [of the city], §309 "Woe
      again to the city, and to the people and to the Temple," to which he added a
      final word, "and woe to me too," a stone hurled by a catapult struck and
      killed him instantly. And so, with those ominous predictions still on his
      lips, he died."

      I think parts of that story are clearly not historical. For example, who
      would have been concerned enough about the Jewish and Roman hearings of
      Jesus-Ananias (as I call him) to report the proceedings afterwards? I think
      the content of those hearings is fictive. Moreover, whoever fashioned the
      story of Jesus-Ananias as we have it in Josephus used Jeremiah as a model
      for the type-casting of Jesus-Ananias in the story. I can provide evidentary
      support for Jesus-Ananias being depicted in the story as a latter-day
      Jeremiah. Josephus could have even made up the story, but I am doubtful
      about that. I think it was a story developed after the Roman-Jewish War
      (66-70 CE), and was produced, along with the other ominous signs of God's
      warning of judgment which Josephus provides prior to the story, to saw
      God's judgment against the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. What
      better OT prophet than Jeremiah to portray such a judgment in the
      form of Jesus-Ananias.

      Now with respect to the possibility that Josephus derived the material for
      his story from Mark, let me address that issue by reproducing here a section
      from the a full-length manuscript of my thesis, "Two Jesuses: Provocative
      Parallels, Imaginative Imitation," which I presented at the 2003 fall
      meeting of the Jesus Seminar (see _Westar Institute: Fall 2003 Seminar
      Papers_, 1-122). On pages 42-43, I dealt with the issue of dependency
      under the following heading, and I quote myself.:

      "IX. The Intertextuality of Two Passion Narratives: Questions of Vector and

      "I have been arguing in this essay for Mark having appropriated the story of
      Jesus son of Ananias as a hypotext he drew upon to help create his passion
      narrative hypertext. Thus, I have taken the position with respect to
      intertextuality that Mark was directly dependent upon the story of
      Jesus-Ananias. In taking that position I have not, however, dealt with
      three important questions: (1) From where or whom did Mark gain access to
      the Jesus-Ananias story?, (2) Did Mark access the story in written or oral
      form?, (3) Is it possible that the vector of intertextuality is the reverse
      of that which I have proposed?, i.e., Is it possible that Josephus was
      dependent upon Mark for his story of Jesus son of Ananias? I address the
      latter question first."

      "A. Was Josephus Dependent upon Mark?"

      "Could Josephus have been dependent upon Mark for the story of Jesus son of
      Ananias? Since Josephus pays so little attention to Jesus of Nazareth and
      the Christian movement (only mentioned twice and briefly in _Ant._, XVIII.
      63-64 [with latter Christian emendations] and _Ant._, XX. 200), it is very
      doubtful that Josephus is dependent upon the Gospel of Mark for the
      inspiration to create his story of Jesus son of Ananias. I think that it is
      highly improbable that Josephus would have composed such a story by combing
      through Mark for good material to make an interesting story about someone
      who harangued about the doom of the Temple, Jerusalem and the people seven
      years and five months before the siege by the Roman army actualized that
      doom prediction."

      "Furthermore, there is the issue of *Tendenz*. What tendencies does a
      such as Josephus reveal with respect to how he creates material to serve his
      literary purpose? As I noted earlier, accomplished Greco-Roman writers,
      such as Josephus, often practiced MIMESIS in the course of developing a
      narrative or some other literary piece. And if they were mature writers,
      with refined literary skill in crafting compositions, they avoided
      practicing MIMESIS as a slavish imitation of motifs, details, vocabulary,
      grammatical and poetic constructions from the hypotext they chose to serve
      as the basis for their hypertext. Mature writers with refined rhetorical
      skills most often sought to conceal their imitation (a practice called
      "occulting"), lest their imitation be considered boorishly pedantic and they
      be accused of plagiarism (see [Dennis] MacDonald, [The Homeric Epics and
      the Gospel of Mark], 5). With respect to Josephus, there does not seem
      to be any evidence that he was pedantic in his imitation, if he indeed did
      imitate other authors, as some scholars suggest. MacDonald states, for
      example: "The writings of Josephus display several possible imitations of
      the epics, and in some cases one suspects that he expected his readers
      to detect and appreciate his free adaptations" (5 [and 206. n.21]). But, in
      my judgment, it is quite unlikely that Josephus would stoop to imitating
      an author, such as Mark, whose rhetoric, as scholars have often noted,
      is hardly in the class of those ancient authors most often imitated. For
      these reasons I find it implausible that Josephus was literarily dependent
      upon Mark."

      While in my presentation before the Jesus Seminar I did not think that Mark
      was dependent directly on Josephus. I now think that he was. And since Book
      VI of the _Wars_ was published about 79 CE, I now do not think that the
      Gospel of Mark is any earlier than the early 80's CE.

      Additional support for the likelihood that Mark got the story from Josephus,
      and not the reverse, is John's dependency on the story of Jesus-Ananias
      which he appropriated from Josephus for his own unique depiction of
      Jesus' Roman trial. If, as I argue both Mark and John drew upon the
      Josephus story directly, then it is hardly likely that Josephus was
      dependent upon Mark and John for elements of the Jesus-Ananias' story
      peculiar to their own depiction of Jesus' trials. I cannot imagine Josephus
      sorting through Mark and John looking for good material to create his own
      story of this character who harangued against Jerusalem,. its people and the
      Temple from 62-70 CE. I present my case for John's dependency upon Josephus
      story of Jesus-Ananias from my public address on my thesis presented at the
      opening of the Jesus Seminar in October 2003. In the manuscript distributed
      to the Seminar attendees before the meeting, I give a fuller treatment of
      I now quote from the public address:

      "John's Dependence on the Story of Jesus of Jerusalem"

      "I turn now to what I propose is John's use of the story of Jesus of
      Jerusalem. To make my case for that it is important for me first to draw
      attention to the differences between the Johannine Roman trial of Jesus of
      Nazareth and the Markan and Matthean Roman trials of Jesus of Nazareth.
      And the differences are both striking and strange."

      "Unlike the Markan and Matthean one-stage Roman trial of Jesus, consisting
      three episodes --- namely, (1) Pilate's interrogation of Jesus (Mk. 15:2-4;
      Mt. 27:11-14), (2) the crowd's request for the release of Barabbas and its
      demand for Jesus' crucifixion (Mk. 5:6-11; Mt. 27:15-21), and (3) Pilate's
      release of Barabbas, his scourging of Jesus and deliverance of Jesus to be
      crucified (15:12-15; Mt. 27:22-26) --- John creates two stages in the
      Johannine Jesus' trial before Pilate (18:28-19:16), two stages, each with an
      episode in which Pilate moves from outside and disputative exchanges with
      the Jewish authorities who are insistent that Jesus be crucified to inside
      the praetorium where in privacy Pilate interrogates Jesus. That is
      strikingly different from the Synoptic versions of the Roman trial of Jesus.
      And the strange thing about the Johannine Roman trial of Jesus is that John
      has, as C. K. Barrett declares (_John_, 443), incomprehensibly and "oddly
      inserted" Pilate's scourging of Jesus and the soldiers' mockery between
      Pilate's two private interrogatory sessions, rather than having Pilate
      scourge him and the soldiers mock him at the end of the trial when Pilate
      had acquiesced to the demands of the Jews and delivered Jesus over to be

      "The "incomprehensible" fact that John has "oddly inserted" the scourging
      mockery of the Johannine Jesus in the middle of the Roman trial, as well as
      John's structure of a two-stage trial can be explained in part by John's
      appropriation of elements of the Roman trial of Jesus son of Ananias and his
      incorporation of those elements in the creation of his Roman trial. How can
      I support such a position?"

      "It is clear that for John the two most important episodes in his Roman
      of Jesus are the two private sessions of the interrogation of Jesus by
      Pilate. It is there in those sessions that John frames certain questions
      for Pilate to ask the Johannine Jesus that allows Jesus then to expound
      theologically and christologically on two issues John wants addressed to his
      own readers. Those issues are, as I see them, (1) the issue concerning
      the nature of Jesus' kingship, and (2) the issue regarding the origin and
      source of ultimate power. The two questions that John places upon Pilate's
      lips to prompt Jesus' discourse on kingship and power are two of the same
      questions posed by the Roman governor Albinus to Jesus-Ananias. In the
      Jesus-Ananias story Albinus wanted to know from Jesus-Ananias (1) who he was
      and (2) where he was from. I stated earlier that what Albinus was
      interested in, when he queried Ananias' son about who he was, was the
      socio-political identity that Jesus-Ananias claimed for himself. I also
      presented a case for Mark picking up on Albinus' socio-political-identity
      question and reformulating it as a socio-political identity question with a
      messianic/christological role-specific orientation and placing it upon the
      lips of the high priest as a question posed to Jesus."

      "John, I propose, observing what Mark has done followed Mark's suit and used
      Mark's framing of the question placed upon the lips of Pilate, namely, his
      question to Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews." By scripting that
      socio-political identity question for Pilate to pose to Jesus in the first
      session of his interrogation of Jesus, John enabled his persona Jesus to
      address John's kingship issue in response to Pilate's question and thus have
      Jesus emphatically underscore that his kingdom was not from or of the world.
      In this manner, the identity question made it possible for John to deal with
      the nature of Jesus' kingship in the first session of Pilate's questioning
      of Jesus."

      "In the second session, the issue which John wants Jesus to address for
      the benefit of his readers is the issue of the source and origin of ultimate
      power, i.e., the power manifested in Jesus, the power in John's cosmology
      which is from above, the only power that controls Jesus' destiny. To
      introduce that issue John appropriated the second question Albinus demanded
      that Jesus-Ananias answer the question concerning "where he was from."
      Thus, John formulates that question borrowed from Albinus the Roman governor
      in direct discourse and with it placed on Pilate's lips has Pilate ask Jesus
      then, "Where are you from?" But John did not stop their in his borrowing
      from the Roman trial of Jesus-Ananias. He followed up Pilate's question
      with the same response that Jesus-Ananias had to Albinus' question. The
      Jesus-Ananias story depicts Jesus-Ananias as not replying to Albinus'
      questions. So likewise, John depicts Jesus as not replying to Pilate's

      "That tandem of motifs, the 'Where you from?'-question motif and the Jesus
      non-reply motif, which John derived from the Jesus-Ananias story and
      scripted into his Roman trial at this point provides the segue for John to
      have Jesus speak to the issue of ultimate power, the issue of the moment
      that John wants addressed. Thus, when Pilate asks the question of Jesus,
      'Where are you from?' and Jesus does not answer, John is able to advance the
      exchange to the issue of power he wants addressed by scripting the following
      dialogue between Pilate and Jesus at the dramatic moment when Jesus fails to
      reply to Pilate's 'Where are you from?' question. I quote the Johannine
      'Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not
      know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus
      answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you
      from above."' Once again, it is in this manner, via two motifs drawn from
      the Jesus-Ananias story of the motif of a Roman governor asking a Jesus
      where he was from and the motif of a Jesus not replying to the governor's
      question, that John was able to introduce the issue of origin and source of
      ultimate power in the second session of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus."
      [See the text of the story set off by astericks].

      "Besides the motif of the identity question, 'Where are you from?' and the
      motif of Jesus' non-reply to that question, it is important to draw
      at this point to two other motifs in the Jesus-Ananias story that also
      in the Johannine Roman trial of Jesus. They are the Jesus scourging motif
      and the Jesus release motif. In both of the respective trials a Jesus is
      scourged and a Roman governor moves to release a Jesus. Of course only one
      of the two Jesuses does get released. Nevertheless, the release motif is
      present in both stories. To push the parallels in motifs further, what is
      interesting to me is that the four motifs, which have been in the immediate
      focus of attention, appear in exactly the same sequence in the narrative
      patterns of both stories. If you turn to [the text of the Jesus-Ananias
      story set off by astericks] in section 304-305 the following pattern in
      which the four motifs are introduced. Jesus-Ananias is brought
      to the Roman governor Albinus, he is scourged (the Jesus-scourging motif),
      following the scourging he is asked by Albinus, among other things, where he
      is from (the 'Where-you-from?'-question motif), to which question
      Jesus-Ananias does not reply (the Jesus-non-reply motif, and after the
      interrogation, Albinus releases Jesus (the Jesus-relief motif). In the
      Johannine schema, as the trial progresses from the first stage to the
      the Johannine Jesus is scourged (the Jesus-scourging motif); then in his
      interrogation he is asked where he is from (the 'Where-you-from?'-question
      motif), to which question he makes no reply (the Jesus non-reply motif).
      Then after his interrogation, Pilate is prepared to release him (the Jesus-
      release motif). Thus, there is a parallelism between the two narratives in
      the order of those four motifs."

      "What is striking about this parallelism in the narrative order of these
      motifs in the two stories is how radically different that pattern of
      narrative ordering is from some of the same motifs in the Synoptic trial
      narratives, in particular the Markan and Matthean versions, and the pattern
      of order in which they are arranged. Both the Markan and Matthean trial
      versions have a Jesus-scourging motif, a Jesus-non-reply motif and a
      Jesus-release motif. But they do not have the 'Where you from?'-question
      motif. Instead they have a 'charges-question' motif. That is, in their
      stage, Roman trial of Jesus, Pilate, upon hearing the charges the chief
      priests have levied against Jesus, asks him, 'Have you no answer to make?
      See how many charges they bring against you?' (Mk. 15:4; Mt. 27:13). It is
      in response to Pilate's 'charges question' that Mark and Matthew both tell
      us, that 'Jesus made no . . . answer' (Mk. 15:4). It is, then, to the
      'charges question' that Jesus in the Markan and Matthean versions of the
      Roman trial makes no answer in contrast to the Johannine Jesus and
      Jesus-Ananias who make no answer to the 'Where are you from?' question.
      Consequently, the order of Mark and Matthew's four motifs is: a 'charges-
      question' motif, followed by a Jesus-non-reply motif, followed by a
      Jesus-release motif and then a Jesus-scourging motif, in contrast to the
      Johnnanine and Jesus-Ananias story order of a Jesus-scourging motif, a
      'Where are you from?'-question motif, a Jesus-non-reply motif and a
      motif. It is clear from the comparisons of the Markan and Matthean pattern
      with John juxtaposed with the Jesus-Ananias narrative pattern of the motifs,
      that John constructed his narrative from the final episode of the first
      stage of
      his Roman trial through the end of the second stage, using as a narrative
      template the Roman trial of Jesus-Ananias and not the Markan and Matthean
      Roman trial accounts. Luke is another matter. He only narrates the Jesus
      release motif."

      "Furthermore, it needs to be noted that the 'Where are you from?'-question
      motif plays a prominent role in John's Gospel prior to the Roman trial.
      Earlier, in the Gospel at various points in the Johannine Jesus' disputes
      with his Jewish adversaries the 'Where are you from?'-question motif is
      used to address the issue of Jesus' spiritual origin and his
      messianic/christological status. Thus, for example, in 7:27-28, people
      who encounter Jesus in Jerusalem state with respect to Jesus: "'Can it be
      that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know
      where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where
      he is from.' Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, 'You
      know me, and you know where I am from? But I have not come of my own
      accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I
      come from him.'"

      "It is quite striking, in my view, that none of the synoptic accounts of the
      Roman trial of Jesus has the 'Where are you from?'-question motif, nor is
      'Where are you from?'-question motif utilized with respect to Jesus anywhere
      in the Synoptics. Consequently, I posit that John appropriated this motif
      from the story of Jesus-Ananias and used it not only in the Roman trial of
      Jesus but also elsewhere in his Gospel to address theological and
      christological issues central to John's interest."

      "Finally, with respect to the 'incomprehensible fact that John has 'oddly
      inserted' the scourging and mockery of the Johannine Jesus in the middle of
      the Roman trial, I am convinced that the thesis I have been articulating
      makes the incomprehensive quite comprehensible. How do I see that?
      John, in working with his two sources, Mark and the story of Jesus son of
      Ananias, to create his own unique Roman trial of Jesus, saw that the best
      way to connect the material he derived from the template of his two sources
      --- material which he transformed, transvalued and reconsituted --- was
      to connect the two respective templates by attaching the beginning of his
      transformed and transvalued Jesus-Ananias Roman trial account to the
      end of his revision of his Markan source Roman trial account. Since in
      John's Markan source Jesus' scourging took place after his trial before
      Pilate and in his Jesus-Ananias source the scourging of Ananias' son
      took place before his interrogation by Albinus, John saw, I reason,
      that the natural place to suture his two newly created two stages of
      the Johannine Roman trial together was at the point where the original
      source texts depicted the scourging incident. Thus, narratively, the
      scourging of the Johannine Jesus, by necessity of John's
      compositional procedure, occurs in the middle between two stages
      of the Roman trial, rather than at the end of the Roman trial, as is the
      case in the Markan and Matthean accounts of Jesus' Roman trial.
      This narrative splicing of his two sources, also, explains John's
      decision to ignore the Greek term for scourging which Mark used in his
      account and choose instead a cognate of the Greek term he found for
      scourging in the story of Jesus-Ananias."

      "Feasts in Jerusalem, An Intertextual Connection"

      There remains yet the need to draw attention to one more motif, which
      supports my thesis that John was dependent the story of Jesus of Jerusalem
      for his portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth. In the story of Ananias' son we
      are told that not only did Jesus-Ananias first proclaim his oracle against
      Jerusalem, its people and the Temple in the Temple itself, but also he chose
      to do so on the occasion of the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles in 62 CE.
      We are told in addition that after his release by Albinus, Jesus-Ananias
      continued to proclaim his lamentation of doom daily and most vociferous
      during the feast days. It seems that feasts in Jerusalem were particularly
      important occasions for Jesus-Ananias to besiege observant Jews with his
      dirge of doom. [See the text set off by astericks in the story] What is
      striking to me in this regard is that John also has a fascination with
      in Jerusalem. He places Jesus there during six feasts (three Passover
      feasts [2:13; 6:4; 11: 55], the Feast of Booths [7:2], the Feast of
      Dedication [10:22] and one other unidentified feast [5:1]). In fact, the
      Johannine Jesus shows up in Jerusalem only at feasts. Andit is only at
      feasts that Jesus directly encounters his adversaries 'the Jews.'"

      John's apparent independent use of the Josephus story of Jesus-Ananias, a
      use inspired by John's awareness that Mark had used the same story for his
      trial scenes before him, convinces me that Mark and John were dependent upon
      Josephus for the story of Jesus son of Ananias --- and I could show the same
      for :Luke--- rather than Josephus being dependent upon Mark or John (or
      :Luke for that matter) for material to create his story of Jesus-Ananias.

      Ted Weeden
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