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Josephus the Satirist? A Clue to the Original Form of the "Testimonium Flavianum"

Josephus the Satirist? A Clue to the Original Form of the "Testimonium Flavianum"

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Published by Andrzej Michalski
Testimonium Flavianum
Testimonium Flavianum

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Published by: Andrzej Michalski on Dec 26, 2012
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Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Josephus the Satirist? A Clue to the Original Form of the "Testimonium Flavianum"Author(s): Albert A. Bell, Jr.Source:
The Jewish Quarterly Review,
New Series, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Jul., 1976), pp. 16-22Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 27/09/2011 09:53
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JOSEPHUSTHESATIRIST?ACLUETOTHEORIGINALFORMOF THETESTIMONIUMFLAVIANUM
ByALBERTA.BELL,Jr.,Durham,North Carolina'THEREAREFEWPASSAGESextantinanyancientauthor,
whichhave beenmorefrequently,orperhapswithgreatershewofreason,thesubjectofdebate,thantheaccountsuppos'dtobegivenof ChristbyJosephusin theeighteenthbookof hisAntiquities."So wroteNathanielForsterinI749.1The debatehashardlyslackenedin theinterveningtwocenturies.2The twoextremepositionsarethattheentirepassage(Ant.XVIII,63-64)isafabrication,asR.Eisler,3E.Norden,4andothersassert,or that itisgenuineasitstands,asF. C.Burkitt,5A.G.Harnack,6andF. Dornseiff7argue.
1ADissertationupontheAccountSuppos'dtohavebeengiven ofJesusChristbyJosephus,BeiTnganattempttoshewthat this celebratedPassage,someslightcorruptionsonly excepted,may reasonablybe esteem'd
genuine(Oxford,1749),p.7.
2
Forbibliographiesofthe vastliterature onthesubjectseeL.H.Feldman,StudiesinJudaica,I,ScholarshiponPhilo and
Josephus
(I937-r962)
(NewYork,I963)andAppendixKof vol.IX
of the LoebClassicalLibraryeditionof theAntiquitatesJudaicae,transl.byH. St.JohnThackerayetal.(Cambridge,Mass.,1965).L.Wahleb,"ZumTestimoniumFlavianum.Einkritischer Bericht
iiberden StandderFrage,"Revue BenedictineXLIV(1927),I-I9,
is a usefulsurveyofearlier literature.MorerecentlyS.Pines,AnArabicVersionoftheTestimoniumFlavianumanditsImplications(Jerusalem,
I97I)
has contributed tothe discussion.
3
"FlaviusJosephusonJesusCalled theChrist,"JQRXXI(1930),
i-6o,esp.21-30.
4
"Josephusund Tacitus fiberJesusChristusund einemessianischeProphetie,"NeueJahrbich.f.d. klass.AltertumXXXI(I913),637-666.5"JosephusandChrist,"Theologisch TijdschriftXLVII(I913),
135-I44.
6
"DerjiidischeGeschichtsschreiberJosephusundJesusChristus,"Internat.Monatsschr.fiirWiss.Kunst undTechnikVII(I913),
I037-1068.7"Zum
TestimoniumFlavianum,"Zeitschriftf.d. neutest.Wiss.
XLVI(I955),
245-250.
 
JOSEPHUSTHESATIRIST?-BELL
IntrueHegelianfashionasynthesisalsoemergesinthepositionthatJosephusmade some unfavorablementionofJesusat thispointwhich apiousChristianscribealtered.8SinceOrigenin themid-thirdcentury saysthatJosephusdidnotthinkJesuswastheChrist,9while Eusebius10andallsubsequentChristian writers citethepassageinitspresentform,it isgenerallyconcededthat theTestimonium,whateveritsoriginalcontent,took theshapein whichwe knowitinthelate third orearlyfourthcentury.S.ZeitlinevenidentifiesEusebius himselfastheauthorof thepassage.1Thepassagedoeshave someJosephan stylisticcharacter-isticsand,ifafabrication,sone of the betterones ofantiquity.But"themostprobableview",as L. H.Feldmancon-cludes,12sthat ourtext isbasicallyJosephus'withChristianalterations.ThisraisestheperplexingquestionofwhatJosephushadoriginallysaid thatso offendedsomeChristianscribe that hefeltcompelledto alterit. Mostscholars re-constructthepassagewith a neutraltone,tothiseffect:"Jesuslived at aboutthistime,a notableteacher whowasreputedtohaveperformedmiracles. Hewasputto deathbytheprocuratorPontius Pilate." As adevoutPhariseeJosephuscould have saidsomethingofthissort.Butwould theChristians havefeltitnecessarytotamperwith it?Tacitussaysnothing anymoreoffensiveaboutJesus,13anda Tes-
8
E.Bammel,"ZumTestimoniumFlavianum,"inJosephus-Studien:UntersuchungenzuJosephus,demantikenJudentumunddemNeuenTestament.OttoMichelzum70.Geburtstag gewidmet,ed.by
0.Betz etal.(G6ttingen,1974),pp.
9-22.
9Comment.in Matt.XIII,55;ContraCelsumI,47.
10
Eccl. Hist.I,
11.7;
Demonstr.Evang.III,
5.I05.
11"The
ChristPassageinJosephus,"
JQR,(I927-28),
231-255.
InJosephusonJesus,withparticularreferencetotheSlavonicJosephusand theHebrewJosippon(Philadelphia,
I93I),
pp.62ff.,herepliestocriticismsofhisargument,whichisbasedonthe fact thatEusebiusistheonlyChristian authorintheentireante-Nicenecorpuswho uses
thephraseT&v
XpLcrLavov&T6
cpov,which isfoundintheTestimonium
12
LoebAntiquities,IX,5I,noteb.
13
AnnalsXV,44.
I7

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