Jerusalem Report: New Version Found Of Josephus’ Reference To Christ -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 01:3 (Summer 1972)
Article: Jerusalem Report: New Version Found Of Josephus’ Reference To Christ
Author: Anonymous

Jerusalem Report:
New Version Found Of Josephus’ Reference To Christ

A number of references to Christ exist in historical sources outside the New Testament. The most comprehensive passage is one written by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, known as the “Testimonium Flavianum”. The version that has been handed down through the centuries is a Greek edition and reads as follows:

“Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.” (THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS, XVIII, 3.3.)

Scholars say that such a passage could hardly have been written by a non-believing Jewish-Roman. They believe that it was probably reworked by an overzealous Christian editor in the third or fourth century. As a result, the passage has fallen into disrepute as historical evidence.

Recently, an Israeli scholar at Hebrew University, Professor Shlomo Pines, discovered a long overlooked 10th century Arabic version of the passage written by a Bishop Agapius. This version, according to Pines, is closer to the original because it was written in Arabic and probably escaped the attention of Christian editors.

In a monograph on the Arabic version, published by the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Professor Pines writes: “It is so different from the Vulgate [Greek] version that hardly any of the arguments (or, perhaps, none) disproving the authenticity of the latter have any validity with regard to it. In the main, this authenticity has been questioned because of the pronounced Christian traits of the testimonium; in Agapius’s version these traits are conspicuous by their absence, a noncommittal attitude being taken up.”

Another Hebrew University scholar, David Flusser, professor of comparative religion, regards the authenticity of the new passage as certain. A main element in his argument that the passage is not a Christian interpolation [revision], is the absence of an accusation that it was Jewish leaders who instigated Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus. “It is unthinkable”, Professor Flusser writes, “that the accusation of the leading Jewish personalities would be omi...

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