Josephus Authentic?

Switch89
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Josephus Authentic?

What do you guys think about Christopher Price's objections to Ken Olson's theory that Eusebius invented the Josephan references to Jesus?

http://www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_josephus.html

 


HisWillness
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Honestly, there are always

Honestly, there are always going to be controversies available from ancient (or near-ancient) texts, because there are so many unnamed copyists and so many people invested emotionally in the topics covered by the texts. The biggest problem with this particular piece that I've always had is that it shows up (I think) in the 4th century. Sure, it wouldn't be the first time we had fragments that only popped up in the 4th century, but the 4th century is significant because the timing coincides with the early formation of the church.

It's my contention that it doesn't actually matter who the forger might have been, or if there was, indeed, a forgery. It's more that the content is dubious because of its timing. When we read any other account of that era, Christianity is already a seriously regarded and feverishly adhered to religion (just look at any of the writings of St. Augustine that I'm forced to translate this semester). The likelyhood of a forgery is extremely high, and Price admits in his objections right off the bat, that "of 52 scholars, 39 found some portions of the TF to be authentic." Note that he says "some portions". That's expected from a 4th century text, but the parts that are authentic would be pretty important to note, wouldn't they? A serious academic would have to address the actual passages, not just give a "team effort" score.

The second problem I have is the acute amount of emotional investment involved. I don't think that these texts will receive a level-headed analysis for a long time, because a lot of the literature comes from the theological side. People who have already spent a good portion of their lives invested in theology are going to take the historical Jesus position by default. It's inevitable. They're not going to be very detached in their reading of such texts. So with a great deal of force on their side, anyone who suggests that Jesus may be an elaborated story of what may or may not have been a historical person is going to get the cold shoulder, even though in any other historical discussion, that would be a reasonable statement.

 

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Brian37
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HisWillness wrote:Honestly,

HisWillness wrote:

Honestly, there are always going to be controversies available from ancient (or near-ancient) texts, because there are so many unnamed copyists and so many people invested emotionally in the topics covered by the texts. The biggest problem with this particular piece that I've always had is that it shows up (I think) in the 4th century. Sure, it wouldn't be the first time we had fragments that only popped up in the 4th century, but the 4th century is significant because the timing coincides with the early formation of the church.

It's my contention that it doesn't actually matter who the forger might have been, or if there was, indeed, a forgery. It's more that the content is dubious because of its timing. When we read any other account of that era, Christianity is already a seriously regarded and feverishly adhered to religion (just look at any of the writings of St. Augustine that I'm forced to translate this semester). The likelyhood of a forgery is extremely high, and Price admits in his objections right off the bat, that "of 52 scholars, 39 found some portions of the TF to be authentic." Note that he says "some portions". That's expected from a 4th century text, but the parts that are authentic would be pretty important to note, wouldn't they? A serious academic would have to address the actual passages, not just give a "team effort" score.

The second problem I have is the acute amount of emotional investment involved. I don't think that these texts will receive a level-headed analysis for a long time, because a lot of the literature comes from the theological side. People who have already spent a good portion of their lives invested in theology are going to take the historical Jesus position by default. It's inevitable. They're not going to be very detached in their reading of such texts. So with a great deal of force on their side, anyone who suggests that Jesus may be an elaborated story of what may or may not have been a historical person is going to get the cold shoulder, even though in any other historical discussion, that would be a reasonable statement.

 

"This person existed" is irrelevent to me.

"This place existed" is irrelevent to me.

We can prove that Obama and George Washington are real people. But if anyone would claim that they could litterally fart a Lamborginni out of their ass, I think most rational people would raise a brow, if not put them in a padded room.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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HisWillness
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Brian37 wrote:We can prove

Brian37 wrote:

We can prove that Obama and George Washington are real people. But if anyone would claim that they could litterally fart a Lamborginni out of their ass, I think most rational people would raise a brow, if not put them in a padded room.

Well exactly. That's the third problem. I think that people arguing that a man named Jesus actually existed aren't also arguing that he ACTUALLY turned water into wine. So at best, I'd have to say congratulations to someone if they found enough evidence of an actual Jesus, but how much bearing that would have on the situation would be near to nil. Even if this real Jesus was the inspiration for the stories, it's pretty easy to dismiss ideas like raising the dead and multiplying loaves (in the literal sense), so the character of Jesus is most likely a far cry from the original "real" Jesus, provided such a man existed.

Thus the irrelevance. I can tell you I know a guy named Jack who climbed a magic beanstalk. I could very well know a guy named Jack, but I think we all know that the bit about the magic beanstalk is a lie.

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Switch89 wrote:What do you

Switch89 wrote:

What do you guys think about Christopher Price's objections to Ken Olson's theory that Eusebius invented the Josephan references to Jesus?

http://www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_josephus.html

 

 

Price seems happy to limit his comment to one translation of one redaction, probably because Olson concentrated on the same translation but most definitely because it suits Price's assumption concerning the genuineness of the passage in terms of authorship.

 

In 1931 a more literal translation was attempted by Robert Eisler, himself a "believer" but also a man convinced that liberal translation of antique documents was the bane of historical study. Eisler's translation, undertaken with the help of both linguists and semantics scholars in Vienna, read as follows:

 

 

"Now about this time arose an occasion for new disturbances, a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man, who was the most monstrous of men, whom his disciples call a son of God, as having done wonders such as no man has ever done.... He was in fact a teacher of astonishing tricks to such men as accept the abnormal with delight.... And he seduced many Jews and many also of the Greek nation, and was regarded by them as the Messiah.... And when, on the indictment of the principal men among us, Pilate had sentenced him to the cross, still those who before had admired him did not cease to rave. For it seemed to them that having been dead for three days, he had appeared to them alive again, as the divinely-inspired prophets had foretold -- these and ten thousand other wonderful things -- concerning him. And even now the race of those who are called 'Messianists' after him is not extinct."

 

 

This translation was based completely on the redaction over which Price takes Olson to task and fits much more succinctly with the citation regarding the Testimonium Flavianum contained in the Arabic Kitab al-'Unwan. Eisler concluded (much to his own disappointment) that the passage became even more stylistically disjointed an inclusion in Josephus's tract as a result, casting even more doubts on its provenance. However he deduced too that the authorship of the inclusion was before Eusebius and had been created very likely by a copyist who displayed some cynicism towards the cult referred to, most likely because he felt it would fit better into Josephus's history.

 

Such inclusions by copyists were par for the course at the time and not overt or even covert attempts at deception. Instead later copyists tended to see the original document as a "base" upon which to flesh out the narrative with each copy as time went on. Histories were especially prone to such editorship. Eisler himself reckoned that Josphus's document concerning the governance of the Jews had been augmented in this fashion at least thirty times by different hands before the infamous redaction.

 

In short, it is not possible for Price to "debunk" Olson's claims definitively, or for that matter for Olson to definitively "prove" them. But for Price to infer on the basis of picking holes in Olson's theory that this makes the disputed content Josephus's is way too emphatic an assertion based on the source material available and, in fact, quite a claim indeed. To suggest that Josephus's writings made it down to the middle ages without corruption would make them practically unique amongst classical texts, and given the particular passage they took (through the hands of religious agenda-driven scribes), a miracle on a par with the ones the debated passage alludes to.

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HisWillness wrote:Thus the

HisWillness wrote:

Thus the irrelevance. I can tell you I know a guy named Jack who climbed a magic beanstalk. I could very well know a guy named Jack, but I think we all know that the bit about the magic beanstalk is a lie.

Hells bells, we already have real people around whom religions have sprouted. The biggest example: Elvis. And there are people alive today who knew the man!

And then there's Joseph Smith, and L. Ron Hubbard, and a ton of other pathological liars who insisted their fantasies were true. Given enough gullible fools, any single person has a chance of becoming a religious figure. (David Koresh. Jim Jones. Marshall Applewhite. And so on.)

I think it'd be cool if they could prove that Jesus didn't exist, but even cooler if they proved he did exist, and he was a pop-star who died in the outhouse after ingesting way too much hash and sour beer.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Christopher Price: apologetic hack lawyer

Switch89 wrote:
What do you guys think about Christopher Price's objections to Ken Olson's theory that Eusebius invented the Josephan references to Jesus?

http://www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_josephus.html

Ken Olson is at least a scholar and knows the languages necessary for an analysis of the material. Price is simply unprepared. A scholarly response to Olson is Alice Whealey.

While I personally am not convinced by Olson's analysis, I wouldn't be able to show that it is wrong. It is plausible and he has mustered evidence for his position.

Whatever the case as to who is responsible for the Testamonium Flavianum (AJ 18.63-64) it is fake. The current consensus is to remove the bits that are too offensive and claim that the rest is genuine -- an extremely arbitrary approach.  The consensus includes the notion that there is at least interference with the passage. The whole passage disrupts the context it is found in: prior there is a report of an "outrage" against the Jews at the hands of Pilate and after it there is a report (AJ 18.65f) of another outrage which starts "About this time another outrage threw the Jews into an uproar". Obviously this doesn't refer back to the death of Jesus, but to the hubbub caused by Pilate, when he dipped into temple funds for a building project and stimulated a slaughter. So a consensus regarding some of the content being fake and evidence that the whole thing is an insertion should point to Olson having a chance of being correct. He has a blog which deals with the issue out there somewhere. (Treat Christopher Price like he's a complete idiot and you won't go too wrong.)

 

 

spin

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