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RE: [XTalk] Re: Two Jesuses: the Provocative Parallels

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  • David Hindley
    ... in the account come from. I suppose there are a couple of possibilities. For example, Josephus deliberately shaped the telling of account to being out the
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 3 11:55 PM
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      Stephen Carlson says:

      >>The next question to consider is where did the seemingly Christian details
      in the account come from. I suppose there are a couple of possibilities.
      For example, Josephus deliberately shaped the telling of account to being
      out the parallels between Jesus of Nazareth and the madman Jesus and
      possibly discredit Jesus in the process. As another example, Josephus
      wanted to relate a trial scene but did not have any real details, so he took
      it from Mark or Luke. Alternatively, one could flip it around and argue
      that Mark or Luke shaped their accounts of the trial around those of Jesus
      ben Ananias. A final possibility is that when Josephus asked about Jesus
      ben Ananias's trial, his source got confused and told him the details for
      another trial of a Jesus--i.e., Jesus of Nazareth -- or the two trial
      accounts were already conflated in the popular imagination by the time
      Josephus inquired about it. I like the last possibility the best.<<

      Those seemingly Christian parallels ("details" suggests a connection that is
      to be proved, not assumed) are pretty vague. Interrogation by a governor,
      scourging and reviling, it would seem to me, may be the norm for all trials
      of this sort. His continued laments may have caused fears among the
      Jerusalem (Jewish) elite that the Romans might interpret them as
      instigations to revolt or at least a potential cause of major unrest.
      Josephus' portrayal of events makes it appear that the Jewish elites did not
      think much of the man, but that is part of the ironic plot of the story.
      Still, I would think that they really had no choice but to send him to the
      governor, if he were indeed real, or risk recriminations.

      The governor releasing him as nothing more than a madman may be a true event
      (the prospect of the Jewish temple and city being destroyed was not a likely
      one at the time, and perhaps even laughable to the Roman ruling class or
      their soldiers, who were fully aware of and/or resentful of the significant
      privileges accorded to Jews and their temple state), but may also again be
      an intentional ironic plot twist. Like a lot of modern 3rd world nations or
      areas, a good roughing up is meant as a "wake up call" for those who engage
      in such behaviors lightly, or whose caretakers (and let's assume JbA had
      some family) did not restrain them. Josephus is using him as a metaphor for
      the Jerusalem elite who had not paid close enough attention to signs of the
      impending disaster of the revolt.

      BTW, I think your scenario for how Josephus could have heard the story about
      this character, assuming it is not entirely made up, is quite reasonable. It
      would be similar to "coffee table" or cocktail party small-talk talk among
      certain crowds today.

      As for Josephus' ability to fabricate pretty fantastic stories, how about
      the one where the gates of the temple swing open on their own? If anything
      like this actually happened, it may have been that the door somehow opened
      unexpectedly (e.g., strong wind, earth movement, etc). The meaning he gave
      to the event was secondary, of course, and pure spin, although here he at
      least acknowledges that the wise men understood the true implications and
      tried to warn the populace. Same with the omens preceding it.


      David Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio USA

      Jwr 6:290-300 290 Thus also, before the Jews' rebellion, and before those
      commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds
      to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month of
      Xanthikos [Nisan], (Niese: April 25, Capellus: April 8) and at the ninth
      hour of the night, so great a light shone around the altar and the holy
      house, that it appeared to be bright daytime; which lasted for half an hour.
      291 This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskilful, but was so
      interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed
      immediately upon it. 292 At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was
      led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst
      of the temple. 293 Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the]
      temple, which was of brass, and extremely heavy, and had been with
      difficulty shut by twenty men, and fastened with iron-bound bars, and had
      bolts sunk very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire
      stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the
      night. 294 Now, those who kept watch in the temple, came hereupon running
      to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up there,
      and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. 295 This
      also appeared to the common people to be a very happy prodigy, as if God
      thereby opened to them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning
      understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its
      own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies.
      296 So these publicly declared that the signal predicted the desolation that
      was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the
      twenty-first day of the month of Artemisios [Iyyar], (Niese: June 8,
      Capellus: May 21) 297 a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon
      appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not
      related by those who saw it, 298 and were not the events that followed it
      of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before
      sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen 299
      running about among the clouds, and surrounding the cities. Moreover, at
      that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into
      the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their
      sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a
      quaking, and heard a great noise, 300 and after that they heard a sound as
      of a great multitude, saying, "We are departing from here." [Loeb
      translation, via BibleWorks]
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