The evidence of the variants of the TF

PART 2 of my Historical Jesus series

Pseudo-Hegesippus, De excidio urbis Hierosolymitanae 2.12 [“On the ruin of the city of Jerusalem”]:

It was Pollard that once observed “the Latin manuscripts are generally much earlier than the surviving copies of the Greek original, meaning that we need to know the Latin before we can restore Josephus’ Greek.” [1]

In my latest paper I have tracked at least three redactional layers in the TF. These layers can be seen more easily from the Latin manuscripts. In the textus receptus (“received text” of Antiquities) we have the phrase “He was the Christ”. Yet in Jerome’s Latin recension it says “he was believed to be the Christ” which shows it is earlier than the textus receptus found in Josephus Antiquities. Jerome’s recension was known to have used Eusebius’ version as Jerome literally copied it from Eusebius’ History (H.E.). Jerome let’s us know that it was Eusebius’ History (H.E.) that he copied it from as he says himself: “that Eusebius Pamphilus in the ten books of his Church History has been of the utmost assistance” (De Viris Illustribus 13). Interestingly in two manuscripts of Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius’s H.E., the same phrase is used. “By far the most interesting variant in the texts we are discussing is the reading et credebatur esse Christus (“he was believed to be the Christ”) for Christus hic erat (“he was the Christ) which is found in two manuscripts of Rufinus currently in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Clm 6383 from the late eighth century and Clm 6381 from the early ninth century.” [2]

The most interesting of the Latin variants is the De excidio, written by Pseudo-Hegesippus. This Christianised Latin adaptation of Josephus’ War is independent of Eusebius. As Paget states:

“The importance of this reference lies in the fact that Pseudo-Hegesippus writes independently of Eusebius. This is made clear by the fact that he refers to Josephus’ account of John the Baptist after the TF, following the Josephan order and not the Eusebian order as we find it in HE, and at an earlier point in the same book (2.4) [cf Ant.18.3.4] refers to the Paulina incident which Eusebius never mentions.”[3]

De Excidio was created out of the Greek Jewish War in circa 370, but it is known that this author had direct access to Antiquities, not only from Paget’s points but also the report of pestilence which followed Herod’s execution of his wife Mariamne (1.38; cf Ant. 15.7,9). This paraphrase does not mention that Jesus was the messiah. “It is not easy to see why he should have omitted any reference to Jesus as the Messiah if it was in his version of the received text. After all, he appears to exaggerate the significance of the TF, most blatantly in his claim that even the leaders of the synagogue acknowledged Jesus to be God.” [4] If the statement “he was the Christ” was in Ps-Hegissipius’ received text he would have used that exact phrase.

The importance of the De Excidio usage of the TF is that his received text from Antiquities was prior to Eusebian tampering. As Nussbaum states:

In De excidio Hierosolymitano 2:12, Pseudo-Hegesippus paraphrases the TF, omitting the statement that Jesus was the Christ. He then vehemently criticises Josephus that he testified of Jesus, but did not believe in him as the Christ. It can be concluded that Pseudo-Hegesippus must have read a kind of TF, otherwise he would not have screamed that Josephus did not believe despite his report on Jesus. The situation is reminiscent of Origen writings – he wrote that Josephus did not believe in the messiahship of Jesus. [5]

To sum up Jerome’s recension has “he was believed to be Christ” which is what Eusebius wrote into the TF. The other Latin translation De Excidio is a paraphrase but what makes this interesting is that he took from a copy of Antiquities before Eusebius tampered with it. It means that one Latin translation of Jerome is before the textus receptus but after Eusebius. The other Latin translation of Ps-Hegesippus is before both the textus receptus and before Eusebius tampering.

Pseudo-Hegisippus recension

>>>>>They indeed paid the punishments of their crimes, who after they had crucified Jesus the judge of divine matters, afterwards even persecuted his disciples. However a great part of the Jews, and very many of the gentiles believed in him, since they were attracted by his moral precepts, by works beyond human capability flowing forth. For whom not even his death put an end to their faith and gratitude, on the contrary it increased their devotion. And so they brought in murderous bands and conducted the originator of life to Pilatus to be killed, they began to press the reluctant judge. In which however Pilatus is not absolved, but the madness of the Jews is piled up, because he was not obliged to judge, whom not at all guilty he had arrested, nor to double the sacrilege to this murder, that by those he should be killed who had offered himself to redeem and heal them. About which the Jews themselves bear witness, Josephus a writer of histories saying, that there was in that time a wise man, if it is proper however, he said, to call a man the creator of marvelous works, who appeared living to his disciples after three days of his death in accordance with the writings of the prophets, who prophesied both this and innumerable other things full of miracles about him from which began the community of Christians and penetrated into every tribe of men nor has any nation of the Roman world remained, which was left without worship of him. If the Jews don’t believe us, they should believe their own people. Josephus said this, whom they themselves think very great, but it is so that he was in his own self who spoke the truth otherwise in mind, so that he did not believe his own words. But he spoke because of loyalty to history, because he thought it a sin to deceive, he did not believe because of stubbornness of heart and the intention of treachery. He does not however prejudge the truth because he did not believe but he added more to his testimony, because although disbelieving and unwilling he did not refuse.<<<<<<

I have a second blog on the Excidio here.

The Slavonic

Before the thirteenth century, in Constantinople or its environs, a mutant form of the TF found its way into a Greek text of the War of the Jews. (Read on to see that this was an earlier Greek examplar of the manuscripts of the Slavonic we have now).

This is now known as the ‘Slavonic Josephus.’ The material corresponding to the beginning of the Testimonium was inserted between the third and fourth paragraphs of the ninth chapter of Book 2 of War. “… it is certainly a noteworthy fact that Josephus’ silence about Jesus in the Jewish War was felt to be a defect at quite an early period, with the result that attempts were made to remedy this state of affairs by a bold insertion of the Testimonium into the War.” [6]

All scholars recognize that the Slavonic has been destroyed with Christian gloss as explained very well by Van Voorst:

“The Slavonic Josephus reflects the growing Christian tendency to excuse Pontius Pilate for Jesus’ death and to blame the Jews, even to the point of saying that the Jews themselves crucified Jesus. To make this point, the Slavonic version has to ignore Josephus’s original statement that Pilate crucified him….The Slavonic Testimonium uses the New Testament extensively at several points to develop its story.” [7]

But then Van Voorst goes on to say that the Slavonic does “not provide an authentic textual alternative to the main Testimonium Flavianum in the Jewish Antiquities.” [8]

Yet Christians were trying to bolster up the TF, so Van Voorst fails to explain why they dropped his name “Jesus” and title “Christ”. Both De Excidio and the Slavonic do not have Pilate crucifying Jesus (which could be explained by the general trend of taking the blame off of the Romans and placing it onto the Jews. Both recensions also do not name Jesus or call him Christ. Same as in De Excidio, this would not have happened if the Slavonic had come from the textus receptus found in the manuscripts of Antiquities that were post Eusebian tampering. Of course it is easier to explain if the Slavonic came from a Greek exemplar that existed before the editing of Eusebius. It would explain it perfectly if it came from an exemplar that existed before Eusebius added the words ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’. There is evidence it came from an early Greek exemplar as a number of Greek words were taken over literally by the Russian. [9] For example: igemon, metropolja, archierei, skinopigja, katapetasma, aramatji and others just shows that the Slavonic is working off an early Greek exemplar. The Slavonic has the same attributes as the De Excidio, (not naming Jesus or calling him Christ) as if it came from the same textual family of a pre Eusebian Greek examplar. The De Excidio is a paraphrase of a pre-Eusebian TF whereas the Slavonic is an expansion of a pre-Eusebian TF.

The Slavonic is so bloated, it is laughable. The most telling part of Slavonic is the fact that it says so much about Jesus except his name. It refers to him as “there appeared a certain man” (Slavonic War 2.9.3/4). This suggests that this particular line of transmission has preserved the notion that Jesus was not named in the original TF.

Jesus not being named is not unusual for Josephus, cases such as the ‘Egyptian’ (War 2.13.5) who led a revolt of thousands and featured in both Antiquities and War yet he could only call him the ‘Egyptian’. Same goes for the ‘Samaritan’. (Ant. 18.5.1).

In the following sentence contained in the Slavonic TF could have come from an original TF, “And many souls were roused, thinking that thereby the Jewish tribes could free themselves from Roman hands.” The word tribe is also in the last sentence of the TF. That line plus the fact Jesus was not named nor called Christ, are the parts that the Slavonic has preserved from the original TF.

As damaged as the Slavonic is with Christian gloss, it is on a different transmission line than the Arabic and Michael the Syrian recension. Therefore it is valuable as it came from a pre Eusebian Greek exemplar.

The Slavonic recension

>>>>At that time there appeared a certain man, if it is meet to call him a man. His nature and form was human, but the appearance of him more than (that) of a human (being): yet his works (were) divine. He wrought miracles wonderful and strong. Wherefore it is impossible for me to call him a human (being, simply). But on the other hand, if I look at (his) characteristic (human) nature, I will not call him an angel. And all, whatsoever he wrought through an invisible power, he wrought by a word and command. Some said of him, “our first lawgiver is risen from the dead, and hath evidenced this by many cures and prodigies.” But the others thought he was (a man) sent from God. Now in many things he opposed the Law and kept not the Sabbath according to the custom of (our) forefathers. Yet again, he did nothing shameful nor underhand. And many of the multitude followed after him and hearkened to his teaching. And many souls were roused, thinking that thereby the Jewish tribes could free themselves from Roman hands. But it was his custom rather to abide without the city on the Mount of Olives. There also he granted cures to the people. And there gathered to him of helpers 150, but of the crowd a multitude. But when they saw his power, that he accomplished by a word whatsoever he would, and when they had made known to him their will, that he should enter the city and cut down the Roman troops and Pilate, and rule over them, he heeded it not. And when thereafter news of it was brought to the Jewish leaders, they assembled together with the high priest and said, “We are powerless and (too) weak to resist the Romans. Since however the bow is bent, we will go and communicate to .Pilate what we have heard, and we shall be free from trouble, in order that he may not hear (it) from others and we be robbed of(our) goods and ourselves slaughtered and (our) children dispersed.” And they went and reported (it) to Pilate. And he sent and had many of the multitude slain. And he had that wonder-worker brought up, and after he had held an inquiry concerning him, he pronounced (this) judgment: “He is (a benefactor, but not) a male­factor (nor) a rebel (nor) covetous of king(ship).” And he let him go, for he had healed his dying wife. And after he had gone to his wonted place, he did his wonted works. And when more people again gathered round him, he glorified himself by his action(s) more than all. The scribes (therefore) being stung with envy gave Pilate thirty talents to kill him. And he took (it) and gave them liberty to car out their will (themselves). And they took him and crucified him contrary to the law of (their) fathers.<<<<

Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 1.11.7

There is a variant found in one of the manuscripts: 

Codex A of Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.11.7

This reading offers the pronoun τις after Ίησούς referring to “a certain Jesus.” This is the same reading as the Slavonic. “The Slavonic Josephus offers a trace of the same pronoun: the phrase muzi nekij retroverted into Greek would correspond to ἀνήρ τις” [certain man] [10] This derogatory expression argues against the TF being made up of whole cloth. (This phrase ‘τις’ was also used for Judas the Galilean, War 2§118). No scribe would have interpolated the word τις but this phrase could have escaped a copyist attempting to interpolate the original TF. The use of ‘certain’ suggests a figure not well known. The qualification of ‘certain’ would only be omitted if the figure was well known.

This variant plus the Slavonic suggests that the particular line of transmission the Slavonic came from has preserved the notion that Jesus was not named in the original TF. Of course Jesus not being named is not unusual for Josephus: cases such as the ‘Egyptian’ (War 2.261– 263; Ant. 20.169–172) who led a revolt of thousands and he was featured in both Antiquities and War yet Josephus could only call him the ‘Egyptian’. Same goes for the ‘Samaritan’ who was also not named and was described as “A man who made light of mendacity”. In that passage his mob “appeared in arms”! (Ant. 18.85–87).

The beauty about Josephus report of these other messianic figures is that they have not been tampered with. Therefore they are invaluable to see how Josephus would have written about Jesus before the TF was tampered. This phrase ‘τις’ was also used for Judas the Galilean, War 2§118 and Theudas Ant. 20 §97. It also makes the original TF very similar to the way Josephus described these other apocalyptic prophet types.

In the words of Bermejo-Rubio

Now, we know what he [Josephus] thought of those who harboured or encouraged messianic pretentions, namely, that they were nothing but a band of fanatics who broke riots and the seeds of war. In fact, Josephus went so far as to affirm (in War VI § 313) that the Messianic oracles contained in the prophetic books of Israel referred to Emperor Vespasian. [11]

Horsley picking out some Josephan passages notes:

Impostors and demagogues, under the guise of divine inspi­ration, provoked revolutionary actions and impelled the masses to act like madmen. They led them out into the wil­derness so that their God would show them signs of immi­nent liberation. (War 2.259; see also the parallel in Ant. 20.168: For they said that they would display unmistakable signs and wonders done according to God’s plan.) [12]

Josephus’ Hellenistic terms and concepts cannot quite hide the apocalyptic features of the prophets and movements that shine through here. What were imposters and demagogues with mere pretense of inspiration to the aristocratic Pharisee and deserter to the Romans were, in the ordinary Palestinian Jewish context, prophets filled with the Spirit. Thus fired by the Spirit, these prophets and their followers thought they were about to participate in the divine transformation of a world gone awry into a society of justice, willed and ruled by God: exactly the revolutionary changes Josephus feared and despised. Like Josephus, the Roman governor Felix had well- founded anxieties about the potential disruption of the Roman imperial order, for such prophets apparently pro­ claimed to the people that God was finally bringing an end to their oppression and restoring their freedom. [13]

Arabic and Michael the Syrian recension

In a response to Ken Olson, Whealey was under the impression that the original TF is only minimally different from the textus receptus. [14] Ironically it was from her own brilliant scholarship that this minimally changed version was proved to be from the hand of Eusebius! In other words this is the middle redaction by Eusebius and the textus receptus is at least the third redaction (redacted after Eusebius). How she proved this (without realizing it!) was by showing more primitive recensions of the textus receptus that came from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica stemming from the hand of Eusebius. (Discussed next paragraph). [15] So her argument of minimal change shows the more primitive version of the TF actually written by Eusebius. What Whealey does not seem to realize is the version of the TF that she is arguing against Olson originally came from the hand of Eusebius! I have showed in my paper that we actually have three redactions of the TF. “We can see three layers of redaction at play here, firstly from the original the hand of Josephus as per Paget’s arguments. Secondly Eusebius: from Olson’s scholarship yet his arguments only support Eusebian tampering, not a creatio ex nihilo. Thirdly, scribes who changed the TF after Eusebius’ tampering. Whealey shows more primitive recensions than the textus receptus that came from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica stemming from Eusebius.” [16]

To much fanfare back in 1971 Shlomo Pines released a book on the Arabic recension of the TF thinking that parts of it were going back to the original TF, or closer to it. [17] It is closer to it as it is more primitive than the Textus Receptus found in all manuscripts of Antiquities. Whealey has proved that the Agapius version is a paraphrase. She proved this as she showed Michael the Syriac recension used the same source. [18]

According to Whealey the Arabic and Michael the Syrian do stem from what Eusebius wrote. (What Eusebius originally wrote we no longer have). It is just that some of the variants (Arabic, Michael the Syrians and some Latin variants) are earlier than the textus receptus. (The textus receptus is a touch up of what Eusebius originally wrote). This is still useful in my reconstruction of the TF, because if we can get it back to what Eusebius originally wrote, we can take it from there using the other bits of evidence discussed here in this blog. The textus receptus is what is found in all manuscripts of Josephus and the Greek manuscripts of Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica. Whealey has proved this, using textual criticism between the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica and Michael the Syrians recensions.

Shlomo Pines back in 1971 did track the evolutionary history of the Testimonium Flavianum, in his book, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its implications. Pines’ monograph drew attention to a long-known tenth century Arabic historical work, the “Kitāb al-Únwān” (Universal History) a chronicle of the history of the world up to the 10th century written by Agapius, who was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (Hierapolis). As the Agapius rendition is only a paraphrase we will not use this in our reconstruction of the TF.

Shlomo Pines also discovered a 12th-century Syriac version of the Testimonium in the chronicle of Michael the Syrian.

Although the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian dates to nearly three centuries later than Agapius, he too reports a version of the TF that is more primitive than the received text of Antiquities. Whealey has found Michael recension more valuable as it is a literal copy as opposed to Agapius which happens to be a paraphrase. Michael was born in 1126 and was Patriarch of Antioch from 1166 to 1199; he thus lived more than three centuries after Agapius.

Both Agapius’ and Michael’s chronicles. have a common source, now lost, of the Syriac chronicle of the Maronite Christian, Theophilus of Edessa (d. 785) This contained a narrative account of the seventh- and eighth-century Muslim conquests of the Roman Near East.

Agapius himself claimed that his own chronicle was based on the Syriac chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa (d. 785). Michael the Syrian’s chronicle broadly parallels Agapius’ chronicle for the same period from creation to about 780, with the two chronicles being particularly close for the period from the first Muslim conquests of the Roman Near East to about 780. Michael the Syrian used the chronicle of Dionysius of Tellmahre (Monophysite patriarch of Antioch 818–848) Dionysius himself acknowledged that he drew on the work of Theophilus of Edessa. (Same source as Agapius).

For Agapius’ relatively brief chronicle is clearly an abbreviated paraphrase of a longer source, while the section of Michael’s chronicle that parallels Agapius’ chronicle, from creation to the eighth century, is much longer and it frequently quotes entire sources verbatim. This suggests that Agapius’ Testimonium (the Arabic) was also a paraphrase rather than a verbatim quotation of its original Syriac source.

It has been observed that material in Michael’s account of the first century was dependent on a source that had quoted excerpts of Josephus from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica rather than translate them directly from Josephus’ works.

It is much more probable that these distinctive common elements simply reflect the nature of the literal translation of the Testimonium that was taken from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica by the common source that both Agapius and Michael followed, the former loosely and the latter literally. The most significant common elements are that both Agapius and Michael qualify the Testimonium’s statement about Jesus being the Messiah, and that both make a more explicit reference to Jesus’ death than the textus receptus Testimonium. (Current copy found in both Josephus MSS and MSS of the Greek Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius).

             Whealey argues that Agapius’ Testimonium is a loose paraphrase of the Testimonium from the Syriac Historia Ecclesiastica while Michael’s Testimonium is a literal rendition.

Both the Agabius and Michael the Syrians versions both stem from Eusebius original version (his original copy which we don’t have now)! Michael the Syrians is very close to the Syriac Ecclesiastical History.

So to sum up, the first layer written by Josephus existed until the second layer when Eusebius added the name “Jesus” and title “Christ”. This was seen from the evidence of De Excidio and Slavonic. Michael the Syrians version which is more “primitive” than this Textus Receptus is close to this second redactional stage of the TF, ie it is close to what Eusebius wrote. This is known as Michael the Syrians version actually originally came from a Syrian version of Ecclastica Historia. This was the book by Eusebius, therefore this version came from an Eusebian version that Eusebius originally wrote. This original Eusebius version is a version we no longer have but is probably accurately represented by Michael the Syrians version.

        Michael the Syrians recension is very important for my reconstruction because it at least gets us back to what Eusebius originally wrote. 

         The Slavonic recension is also very important as it actually preserves some parts of the TF that were pre-Eusebian. The Slavonic working off a very early Greek exemplar has preserved some fascinating points despite the major Christian gloss.

Here is Michael the Syrians rendition:

>>>>The writer Josephus also says in his work on the institutions of the Jews: In these times there was a wise man named Jesus, if it is fitting for us to call him a man. For he was a worker of glorious deeds and a teacher of truth. Many from among the Jews and the nations became his disciples. He was thought to be the Messiah [or Perhaps he was the Messiah] . But not according to the testimony of the principal [men] of [our] nation. Because of this, Pilate condemned him to the cross, and he died. For those who had loved him did not cease to love him. He appeared to them alive after three days. For the prophets of God had spoken with regard to him of such marvellous things [as these]. And the people of the Christians, named after him, has not disappeared till [this] day.<<<<

Tacitus Annuls 15.44

Steve Mason commented: “We do not know where Tacitus learned this information. It is unlikely that such a man read the gospels. More likely, he heard reports at first or second hand from Christians facing trial, though he may have read whatever Josephus wrote about Jesus in Ant. 18.63–64. Josephus was the source in Rome for things Judaean, after all, and there is reason to think that Tacitus used his War elsewhere (Hist. 5.1–13).” [19]

It is likely that Tacitus got his information about Christians from his friend Pliny the Younger yet that was not his only source. [20] F. F. Bruce notes that Tacitus’ information best aligns with Greco-Roman polemical sources on Jews, yet he also said “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that both Tacitus and Suetonius depended here, directly or indirectly, on Josephus,” in regards to the oracle applied to Vespasian (Compare Tacitus, Histories 5.13 to Josephus, War 6.312-313 cf. Suetonius, Vespasian 4.5). [21] Tacitus most probably read Josephus given the similar comments on Vespasian as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. Tacitus had multiple sources such as Pliny, other Greek and Roman sources and Josephus. (A polemical original TF would have also served Tacitus’ purposes well). Having multiple sources would explain why Tacitus would contradict Josephus in certain points. For the sake of my model reconstruction I will examine the following line from Annales:


“and the pernicious superstition was repressed for a moment, repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio” (Tacitus, Annales 15.44.3)


“Repression (Ann. 15.44.3): It would be interesting to know how precisely Tacitus pictured Christianity’s being “repressed” at the outset…… It is possible Tacitus thought that Pilate had put some of Jesus’ followers to death” [22] Tacitus is under the impression Jesus died as a criminal, sentenced by a Roman official and his execution carried out by Roman soldiers, all this information could have been easily got from the TF. Jesus fits the profile of other messianic figures reported in Josephus, leading a crowd and easily repressed by local Roman governments.

The entirety of Tacitus’s information about Jesus is paralleled in Josephus, AJ 18, if not in the TF, then nearby in the book. Tacitus uses the erroneous title for Pontius Pilate as procurator. Josephus uses a non specific title governor (ήγεμών) for Pilate in Ant18.3.1. In fact both Josephus Wars and Philo’s Embassy to Giaus applied the term procurator for Pilate. ( Wars2.117,169; Legatio ad Gaius299). [23]

Tacitus more than likely used all the records at his disposal including Josephus (he does elsewhere). Cook shows that Tacitus had multiple sources [24] he would have glanced at Josephus’s small entry of Jesus as one of his sources and seen that Jesus got crucified under Pilate. Tacitus also does not name Jesus but uses Christ instead. This would ring true as the Slavonic has preserved the fact that Jesus was not named in the original TF.

Tacitus got his information about Christians from his friend Pliny the younger. It is also true that the information Tacitus has about Christians is more than that Pliny would have given him and matches the TF on certain points. It is probable that Tacitus would have received his information from both Pliny and a negative TF.

While some of the four points Carlson names are generic, I see two points that are not generic. The first non generic point of contact between the Testimonian Flavianum and the Testimonium Taciteum is Jesus getting executed by Pilate. The second point I would argue is the type of movement Jesus led. In the following line that the seditious movement led by Jesus was put down:

Annuls 15.44.3 which has “repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio” “and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment”

The following excerpt from After Jesus Before Christianity edited by Erin Vearncombe et al shows Tacitus, his mention of Jesus and his movement:

“Roman writers probably understood christus in Latin as the name or title of an individual. They recognized it as a foreign-sounding word, connected with strange superstitions from Israel, a place of continued rebellion. As the name originated in this place of rebellion, they probably recognized it as signaling rebellion or resistance, for which they were on the lookout with those connected to Israel’s traditions….. Tacitus mentions chrestiani and christus. The confusion of i and e in Latin is common. Tacitus ties the term christianus to the traditions of Israel. He is making a distinction within various types of Judeans. Christianus is a type of Judean; any further meaning of “belonging to the party of the Anointed” or of “the good ones” is actually irrelevant to Tacitus. The association with Judea is enough. The transliteration of christianos (Greek) to christianus (Latin) is significant because it signals a Judean provenance, an association with a people of rebellion and resistance. “Christian,” in Latin, refers to yet another troublesome “group from the eastern Mediterranean. The meaning has nothing to do with who they are, but where they come from, and their resulting potential to cause trouble. [25]

After Jesus Before Christianity edited by Erin Vearncombe et al

I will now reproduce Tacitus Annuls 15.44

>>>Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christian’s by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.<<<


[1] Richard M. Pollard, The De Excidio of “Hegesippus” and the Reception of Josephus in the Early Middle Ages, (2015), Viator, 46 (2), p.72.

[3] J. Carleton Paget, “Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity,” Journal of Theological Studies 52, no. 2 (2001), p. 566-7

[4] Paget, “Some Observations”, p.567.

[5] Johannes Nussbaum, Das Testimonium Flavianum Ein klassisches Beispiel einer Echtheitsdiskussion, 2010 Novum Testamentum 52(1), pp.72-82

[6] Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist: According to Flavius Josephus’ Recently Rediscovered ‘Capture of Jerusalem’ and the other Jewish and Christian Sources. Trans. Alexander Haggerty Krappe (New York: Dial Press, 1931), p.68.

[7] Van Voorst, Robert E., Jesus Outside the New Testament, An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, (Eerdmans, 2000), p.87-88.

[8] Van Voorst, Jesus Outside, p.87

[9] Robert Eisler, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, ibid, (English Translation), p.130.

[10] Bermejo-Rubio, Fernando, Was the Hypothetical Vortage of the Testimonium Flavianum a “Neutral” Text? Challenging the Common Wisdom on Antiquitates Judaicae 18.63-64, Journal for the study of Judaism 45 (2014) p.358; Paget, ibid, p.565; Eisler, Robert, The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist, (1929), p. 38-41.

[11] Fernando Bermejo-Rubio, La naturaleza del texto original del Testimonium Flavianum. Una crítica de la propuesta de John P. Meier, E STUDIOS BÍBLICOS LXXII (2014) p.273.

[12] Horsley, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs, p. 161

[13] Horsley, Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs, pp. 161-2.

[14] Alice Whealey, “Josephus, Eusebius of Caesarea, and the Testimonium Flavianum” in Christoph Böttrich and Jens Herzer (eds) Josephus und das Neue Testament, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), pp.115-6.

[15] Alice Whealey, The Testimonium Flavianum in Syriac and Arabic, New Test. Stud. 54, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 573–590.

[16] Dave Allen, Test Case: What Josephus would have realistically written about Jesus, JGRChJ, vol 18, p.10.

[17] Pines, Shlomo, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its Implications. (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, 1971).

This book is highly recommended as it reproduces all the variants of the TF.

[18] Alice Whealey, The Testimonium Flavianum in Syriac and Arabic, pp. 573–590.

[19] Mason, Steve, Sources that Mention Jesus from Outside the Circles of Christ-Followers, p.8

This paper was an English translation contained in Jesus Handbuck, (Handbucher Theologie) (German Edition), Schöter and Jacobi, Ed. (Mohr Siebeck, 2017).

[20] Richard Carrier, ‘The Prospect of a Christian Interpolation in Tacitus, Annals 15.44’, Vigiliae Christianae 68 (2014), pp. 264–83 (specifically pp.?266–7); Helen K. Bond, The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 38

[21] F. F. Bruce, Tacitus on Jewish History, Journal of Semite Studies, 29(1) 1984, quoted at p. 42.

[22] John Granger Cook, Roman Attitudes Toward the Christians From Claudius to Hadrian,, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 261, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), pp. 50-51.

[23] Stephan S Carlson, A Pre-Eusebian witness to the Testimonium, Hypotyposeis blog (2004).

[24] Cook, John Granger, Roman Attitudes Toward the Christians, From Claudius to Hadrian, (Mohr Siebeck, 2010), p.41-2, esp. fn 54.

[25] Erin Vearncombe et al eds, After Jesus Before Christianity.



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