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Christian Fraud

Once again a Christian brought up the passage from Josephus as extra biblical evidence for the historicity of Jesus. Kinda funny considering Christians have been claiming the same for 17 centuries yet even Christian scholars do not claim the passage is fully legitimate. Antiquities by Josephus was written sometime after 90 CE so that is 19 centuries ago. Why have Christians only been claiming the passage as  evidence for 17? Evidence points to the passage being forged by Eusebius sometime in the early 4th century coincidentally at the time of Constantine’s Nicaean council.

Before I go any further let me give the passage in question.

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 principled 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 the third day, as the divine prophets foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

At first glance, and even second glance this does seem to confirm Jesus historicity but there are a few glaring errors that stick out in the text and there are more when the text itself is examined [as I mentioned with the 4th century remark. this passage is entirely absent from Origen’s 2nd century copy and does not appear anywhere till the 4th century].First and most ‘sore thumbish’ is the last sentence about the tribe of Christians existing at this day. As was mentioned, Josephus wrote the Antiquities in the late 1st century. Christianity was a disorganized and quite small bunch of people until the 2nd century [read early Church history for confirmation] which would mean we have an apparent edit by a Christian at a later date. Now Josephus was not a Christian nor did he believe Jesus was the Christ. Had he actually written that he would have said Messiah not Christ nor would he have given the subject one small paragraph.

One very interesting point is seen if you consider the subject matter of the book this passage appears in. This passage is the only one in book 18 that can be removed with no damage to the text. For that matter, it makes the text flow much better grammatically. Another very odd occurrence is the sentence immediately following this passage.

And about the same time another terrible misfortune confounded the Jews

Correct me if I’m wrong here but is Josephus saying the truth and Christ was really a misfortune? If he really thought Jesus was the truth and Christ he would have considered it a victory not a misfortune to the Jews. This is what a Christian, particularly one named Eusebius, would say.

Outside of this passage, he really makes no other reference to Jesus [indirectly by mentioning James his brother] nor does he mention the gospels or any of Paul’s writing. Josephus devoted more space to writing about the Essenes and about three times as much space writing about Judas The Galilean than he did about Jesus. No, he didn’t think Jesus was the Christ and it is very doubtful that he even mentioned him. Now why would the Christians focus on making it appear as if Josephus did? There were many writers at the time that were more friendly to the early Church so why Josephus? Well I have my idea so I will share with you readers. First let me mention that Josephus was born in 37 CE which was after the supposed crucifixion of Jesus. We read in section 75 of Life

…I saw many captives crucified; and I remembered three of them as my former acquaintances. …I went to Titus, and told him of them. He immediately commanded them to be taken down….Two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered.

Which seems to be something Christians might find a use for considering we read in Mark 15:23

And with [Jesus] they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left…. Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council,…went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

It is certainly ‘odd’ that on two separate occasions two prominent individuals both viewed a set of three men being crucified. Both then went to a Roman official to plea that his friend  might be taken down.  After their request was granted, in each case, two of the crucified men died, and one survived. Still this doesn’t exactly answer why Josephus. Firstly Josephus was for a little while the governor of Galilee. Second, he resided in Cana which was where Jesus first reported miracle occured. The third and most amazing fact is the name of the man who according to the bible rolled away the stone, Joseph of Arimathea. To be honest this to me is one of the most damning pieces of textual evidence against the bible [outside of the absurd stories and talking animals]. The author of Mark didn’t even hide his fraud or he didn’t think his readers would see the connection. According to Mark 15:43 the Greek used for Joseph of Aramathea was Joseph apo Arimathias which was clearly taken word for word for the genealogy of Josephus in section 1 of Life. Which translated says Joseph begat Matthias yet it made a better story to use Josephus grandfather in the bogus crucifixion story that was witnessed by Josephus who wasn’t born yet? more I look into the bible stories, the more convoluted and impossible they become. I really wonder, how do people suspend the rational part of their brains in order to swallow this hook, line and sinker?

Some further reading you might enjoy

[tweetmeme source=”noreligionblog” only_single=falsehttps://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/christian-fraud]

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One Response

  1. This was handily the best explanation of the Josephus claim that I’ve ever read. Clear, concise and logically argued. Thank you very much!

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