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Josephus: Henry Leeming: Josephus' Jewish War and Its Slavonic Version: A Synoptic Comparison (2003) "This volume presents in English translation the Slavonic version of Josephus Flavius' "Jewish War, long inaccessible to Anglophone readers, according to N.A. Materskej's scholarly edition, together with his erudite and wide-ranging study of literary, historical and philological aspects of the work, a textological apparatus and commentary. The synoptic layout of the Slavonic and Greek versions in parallel columns enables the reader to compare their content in detail. It will be seen that the divergences are far more extensive than those indicated hitherto."


Josephus Pleads Still

Modern Josephus Studies:  John M.G. Barclay, Per Bilde, Steve Mason, Tessa Rajak, Joseph Sievers, Paul Spilsbury, Gregory E. Sterling, W.C. van Unnick

Flavius Josephus

Study Archive

The Wars of the Jews Library ﻩ Exhaustive Bibliography ﻩ Visual Timeline | Works of Flavius Josephus ﻩ Josephus in Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia ﻩ Ancient Histories of Flavius Josephus ﻩ Flavius Josephus Home ﻩ PACE ﻩ Josephus, the Primary Source ﻩ Scientific Dating ﻩ Governmental Administrations ﻩ First Century Jerusalem ﻩ Historical Maps ﻩ Maps of Jerusalem

Flavius Josephus : Credibility and Importance : Steve Mason Stebbing's Essay | The Credibility Of Josephus ﻩ The Jewish millionaire who surrendered to the Romans ﻩ David Chilton's Synopsis

Preterist Perspectives ﻩ Effects of the Fall of Jerusalem on Christianity ﻩ Did Jerusalem Christians Flee to Pella? | Josephus and Jesus ﻩ Revelation and Josephus

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PORTRAITS

Josephus

http://members.aol.com/Fljosephus2/josephusPictureLestrange.jpg

[Flavius Josephus]

Comments on the Credibility and Importance of
Flavius Josephus
(37-100)

 

The Ultimate Message of Josephus:  "you may perhaps recover when you have reconciled yourself with the deity who destroyed you."  (War 5.19)
 

http://members.aol.com/Fljosephus2/Vespasian2.gif
Pleading Before Vespasian


Pleading Before Jerusalem

...

In writing The Wars of the Jews, Josephus is still pleading to both.


THE TWO HEADS OF JOSEPHUS

HISTORICAL: "During the Middle Ages, Josephus was the most widely read ancient author in Europe.. Josephus' literary influence had no equals, with the sole exception of the Bible." / "The Greek-speaking population (in the Byzantine Empire) was familiar with the lengthy Greek version of Josephus. The long scrolls were piously copied and epitomized by countless generations of chronographers and historians.." Steven Bowman (See: Josephus and Judaean Politics)

THEOLOGICAL: "The fulfilment of our Lord’s prophecy respecting Jerusalem.. is portrayed in the pages of Josephus with terrible exactness. We may, perhaps, without presumption ascribe the existence of his works to Divine Providence; for there are few persons who have read his narrative that have not felt themselves more deeply impressed than ever with the solemn truths of Scripture, and the tremendous certainty of the Divine judgments." - representative quote from countless authors (Exhaustive Bibliography)


Testimonium Flavianum

Geza Vermes claims Testimonium Flavianum is genuine!  (http://standpointmag.co.uk/jesus-in-the-eyes-of-josephus-features-jan-10-geza-vermes) "In conclusion, what seems to be Josephus's authentic portrait of Jesus depicts him as a wise teacher and miracle worker, with an enthusiastic following of Jewish disciples who, despite the crucifixion of their master by order of Pontius Pilate in collusion with the Jerusalem high priests, remained faithful to him up to Josephus's days. // Reconstruction: "About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man...For he was one who performed paradoxical deeds and was the teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews [and many Greeks?]. He was [called] the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him...And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."


Was Flavius Josephus Familiar with Christian Eschatology?
(Olivet Discourse/Apocalypse of John)

10/20/12: This question will receive an archive of its own.  Listening to the Norman Dietz, et al, version of the Destruction of Jerusalem on tape has made it clear that there is a profound link between his writings and Jewish Apocalyptic.. not to mention Christian Apocalyptic ("never was, never will be again")

John's Revelation - “And there were noises and thundering and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.” (16:18)

Josephus - “for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming” (“Wars of the Jews” 4:4:5)
John's Revelation - "Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” (16:19)



Josephus - “it so happened that the sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and parted into three factions, and that one faction fought against the other; which partition in such evil cases may be said to be a good thing, and the effect of divine justice.” (5:1:1)

John's Revelation - “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent.” (16:21)

Josephus -  “Now the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and further. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness;” (5:6:3)

"As for the impiety of which Josephus accused (John of Gischala), it stems to some extent from the fact that John, like many others, gave a favorable interpretation to the Scriptural prophecies, whereas Josephus saw them as foretelling the ruin of Jerusalem" (Louis H. Feldman, Josephus, the Bible and History, p. 234)


Being Presented to Vespasian by Titus

Josephus Flavius, the ancient Jewish writer of first century Palestine, wrote a number of historical, apologetical and autobiographical works which together comprise a major part of Hellenistic Jewish literature. The original Aramaic version of his first work, known as Bellum Judaicum, or The Jewish War, has been lost. However, the Greek version of this work, and the rest of his works written in Greek during his Roman exile after the destruction of Jerusalem, were preserved by the Church, particularly because of their general importance for the history of Palestine in the early Christian period and for the curious Testimonium Flavianum to the founder of Christianity contained in the Jewish Antiquitiess.

Latin translations of Josephus' oeuvre made between the fourth and sixth centuries were studied in Christian Europe for an entire millennium. The editio princeps of Josephus printed works was in fact an edition of his works in Latin, still the intellectual language of Europe in 1470; the first edition of the Greek text did not appear in print until nearly 75 years later, after the Renaissance revival of Greek learning. Subsequently, hundreds of editions of Josephus' works appeared in all corners of the Western world, not only in Greek and Latin but in every modern vernacular as well. Among the most popular authors during the history of Christian printing, Josephus suffered a different fate among Jews: except for a pseudepigraphic medieval Hebrew paraphrase of The Jewish Warr, the works of Josephus were virtually forgotten by the Jewish people until modern times.

 

  • Josephus the Zionist Hinting at the ancient history of the Jews, which he does not describe in this work (but would turn to later in "The Antiquities of the Jews"), Josephus nonetheless claims that, alongside the Exodus from Egypt and the weary life of wandering, the Jews were exiled from " their own country," thus stressing a clear territorial link to the land of Israel.

  • Understanding Josephus: Seven Perspectives (1998) "Josephus's thirty volumes (more consulted than read) are considered the ultimate reference work for Judaism in the Graeco-Roman period. Even the more sceptical, who would wish to read between the lines, must often resort to arbitrary techniques because it is not apparent where the 'lines' are. This volume of essays by seven prominent scholars-John Barclay, Per Bilde, Steve Mason, Tessa Rajak, Joseph Sievers, Paul Spilsbury and Gregory E. Sterling-is another step in the effort to change the way we look at this most famous/notorious ancient Jewish historian. It introduces him as a rational being, a first-century author, and a thinker, with his own literary and social contexts-on the premise that he is worth trying to understand. Three essays deal with his Jewish Antiquities, two with Against Apion, and two with the larger themes of afterlife and apocalyptic in his writings. An up-to-date assessment of Josephus and his modern scholarly interpreters, for expert and non-expert alike."

  • Robert Findlay - A Vindication of.. Josephus, from Various Presentations and Cavils of the Celebrated Voltaire (1770 PDF)

  • Luther - Justus of Tiberias (1910 PDF)

  • Richard Laqueur - The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus: A Biographical Investigation Based on New Critical Sources (1920 PDF) "Laqueur continues to serve, justifiably and indisputably as the introduction to the literary criticism of the text of Josephus"

  • R. Traill - The Jewish war: a new tr., by R. Traill, ed. with notes by I. Taylor - Volume One (1851 PDF)

  • Phil Spilsbury: Josephus on the Burning of the Temple, the Flavian Triumph and the Fall of Rome (2002 PDF)

  • Tommaso Leoni - Josephus as a Source for the Burning of the Templee (2002 PDF)

  • SocialistWorker: A Judas Who Didn't Betray the Movement -"Two thousand years ago, a Jewish peasant rebellion stirred in the countryside in and around Judaea, an obscure Mediterannean province of the Roman empire. The rebellion would change the face of history. Judas of Galilee was one of its early leaders.  The rebellion, which climaxed in open revolt in 66-70AD, was mercilessly crushed by Roman legions.  The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.  Defeat was a catastrophe. Historian Neil Faulkner (Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome, AD 66-73 - Tempus, 2002) has summed it up: “Apocalypse” glimpsed but missed, “the revolutionary overthrow of Rome and a passage into the light of a possible sunrise”

  • Our Young Folks' Josephus - "Jump back in time to a place where historical accounts of the Hebrews are brought to life in an exciting narrative style. The history of Ancient Israel is revealed in a first-hand account from the great historian Flavius Josephus. Our Young Folks’ Josephus is a compilation of his two greatest works, Antiquities of the Jews and The Jewish Wars. You’ll marvel at the history that is played–out before your eyes. A journey that begins with the call of Abraham and ends with the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of Massada...this is a must-have for any bookshelf.” ~Eclectic Homeschool Online"

 

IN SCHOLARSHIP

Alfred Church (1902)
"IN this story I have followed the narrative of Josephus, making many omissions but no other change of importance. It did not fall within the scope of my work to estimate his veracity and trustworthiness; but I may here say that a close acquaintance with his history will not incline the reader to put much confidence in his narrative on any point where interest or vanity may have tempted him to depart from the truth. In one matter, which is of such interest and importance that an account of it may be given here, he seems to have deliberately falsified history. The ingenuity of a German critic, Jacob von Bernays, detected in the Chronicle  of Sulpicius Severus (a Christian writer, A.D. 350—420) a very slightly disguised quotation from one of the lost books of the History  of Tacitus. The passage may be thus translated.

"Titus is said to have called a council of war, and then put to it the question whether he ought to destroy so grand a structure as the Temple. Some thought that a sacred building, more famous than any that stood upon the earth, ought not to be destroyed. If it were preserved, it would be a proof of Roman moderation; if destroyed, it would brand the Empire for ever with the stigma of cruelty. On the other hand there were some, and among these Titus himself, who considered that the destruction of the Temple was an absolute necessity, if there was to be a complete eradication of the Jewish and Christian religions. These superstitions, opposed as they were to each other, had sprung from the same origin; the Christians had come forth from among the Jews; remove the root and the stem would speedily perish."

In the interest, doubtless, of his Imperial patrons, the family of Vespasian, Josephus represents the destruction of the Temple as having been accomplished against the will of Titus." (Last Days of Jerusalem, preface)

Louis H. Feldman
"The significance of Josephus is particularly great in the following areas.  (1) Inasmuch as he presents up with a paraphrase of the Bible, he is an important early witness to the biblical text whose paraphrase can be compared not only with the Hebrew and the Septuagint in its various versions but also with the Dead Sea fragments. (2) He represents one of the earliest extant stages in the history of midrashic tradition, in which his work can be compared with not only the later rabbinic Targumim and Midrashim but also with the writings of Philo, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Pseudo-Philo's  Biblical Antiquities, and such a work as the Dead Sea Genesis Apocryphon.  (3) He is on of the earliest witnesses to the Jewish Halakhic (legal) tradition, earlier by a century than the rabbinic Mishnah and to be compared with Philo and with such works as the Dead Sea Temple Scroll.  (4) He presents by far our fullest account of the momentous change - one may well call it a revolution - in the history of Judaism, including its enormously successful proselytizing activities, which led from its biblical phase to its rabbinic era.  (5) His works, along with some Samaritan inscriptions and papyri and the Dead Sea Scrolls, are our fullest account of the development of sectarian movements in Judaism - Samaritanism, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the revolutionary Fourth Philosophy.  (6)  The period he covers in such detail is the era just before and during the emergence of Christianity and hence is crucial for an understanding of the infant years of the new religious group.  (7) He is the chief guide for the archeologist in the process of recreating the economic, social, political, and cultural life of Judea, particularlyl for the two centuries before the destruction of the Second Temple.  (8) He occupies an important place in the history of Greek and Roman historiography, a link in the joining of the Isocratean and Aristotelian schools.  (9)  He is an important source for much of Greek, Roman, and Parthian political and military history (for example, he gives us a far fuller account of the assassination of the Emperor Caligula and the accession of Claudius than any other writer. (10) He is by far our most important source for the relations between Jews and non-Jews, including, in particular, the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.  (11) As the author of the first extant autobiography from antiquity, he is important for establishing the canons of this genre, which was to culminate in Augustine's Confessions.  (12) He is an important source for Greek vocabulary and grammar of the Hellenistic period, notably those of Philo, the New Testament, and papyri." (Josephus, Judaism and Christianity, pp. 13,14)

Sharon Turner
"Few pieces of history are more interesting, than Josephus's account of the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem." (History of the Anglo-Saxons, p. 49)

Paul Volz
"Even Josephus does not completely avoid the national expectations of his people.  In Ant. 4.114 ff. he gives a vivid and rich paraphrase of Bileam's promise (Num. 24), and in War 5.19 he seeks to keep down his grief caused by Jerusalem's destruction by the exclamation: 'you may perhaps recover when you have reconciled yourself with the deity who destroyed you'.  Generally, however, his position is different.  In War, 6.31.2, he changes the ancient oracle, that one from Judea would gain world domination, interpreting it as referring to Vespasian.  With this interpretation he expressly dissociates himself from the messianic zealots, who, according to Josephus, were stirred up to a messianic war precisely by this oracle.  Moreover, it is strange how unclearly he expresses himself in Ant. 10.210 on the stone from Daniel ch. 2.  It is similarly strange that in Ant. 10.267ff., surveying the prophecies in Daniel, in the first place, he does mention Daniel ch. 8, but not ch. 7, and secondly, he does describe the derious visitation prophecied by Daniel, but in his paraphrase he includes nothing about the 'Son of Man' in Daniel 7.13 or about the positive prospects of salvation linked to this figure.  Accordingly, Josephus' personal opinion did not include the eschatological belief and the national expectations, but only the individual belief in an hereafter, where the national redemption and the eschatological salvation have been replaced by the redemption of the soul and its immortality." (quoted in Understanding Josephus, p. 38)

 

 

Eusebius (325)
"If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange." (
Book III, Ch. VII)

 

Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel)
 (AD314-19)


"..how can we deny that the prophecies of long ago have at last been fulfilled? And these foretold that the Lord would come to Egypt not in an unembodied state, but in a light cloud, or better "in light thickness," for such is the meaning of the Hebrew, shewing figuratively His Incarnate state."

"The Holy Scriptures foretell that there will be unmistakable signs of the Coming of Christ. Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies...

Or who can deny, that concurrently with the appearance of our Saviour Jesus the solemnities of the Jews, their city with its Temple and the worship performed therein, have come to an end, together with their native rulers and governors, and that from that time the hope and expectation of the nations through all the world has been made known, since the things laid up in the Lord have come." (Book
VIII)
 

"In the miniature depicting the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Roman Emperor Titus, who directed the battle, sits enthroned in a tent while his soldiers storm the city. As is typical for the art of this period, the scene is anachronistic: the figures wear armor of the 1400s, and the city of Jerusalem is a medieval walled city with battlements, wood-and-plaster houses, and even a Gothic church. To give the illusion of recessed space, the artist used an intuitive rather than a mathematical perspective, stacking the farther buildings on top of those in the front. Despite this innovative method for representing space, he also used an un-naturalistic background of checkered squares for the sky, instead of blue paint.

Isodore of Pelusium
"If you have a mind to know what punishment the wicked Jews underwent, who ill-treated the Christ, read the history of their destruction, writ by Josephus, a Jew indeed, but a lover or truth, that you may see the wonderful story, such as no time ever saw before since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall  be.   For that none might refuse to give credit to the history of their incredible and unparalleled sufferings, truth found out not a stranger, but a native, and a man fond of their institutions, to relate them in a doleful strain." (Lib. 3. ep. 75. Vid. et ep. 74.)

 

Preterist Commentaries By Futurists

C.H. Spurgeon
"The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God." (Commentary on Matthew, p. 412)

Henry Stebbing
"Valuable as are the remains of classical antiquity, the Works of Josephus may be placed, at least, on a level with the most esteemed monuments of ancient learning.   Josephus was esteemed in the first ages of Christianity as an author deserving a high degree of respect for research and integrity. Pious and learned men of later ages have continued to view him in the same light." ("Introduction to Josephus' Works")

John Wesley (1754)
"Josephus' History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter (Matt. 24). It is a wonderful instance of God's providence, that he, an eyewitness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance." (
Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament)

 

Partially Preterist Commentaries

David Brown
"21. And then, if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo he is there; believe him not--So Lu 17:23. No one can read JOSEPHUS' account of what took place before the destruction of Jerusalem without seeing how strikingly this was fulfilled. " (in loc.)

Philip Doddridge
Christian writers have always with great reason represented Josephus's History of the Jewish war as the best commentary on this chapter; and many have justly remarked it as a wonderful instance of the care of Providence for the Christian church, that he, and eye-witness, and in these things of so great credit, should (especially in such an extraordinary manner) be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this noble prophecy in almost every circumstance." (Doddridge, An Exposition of the Gospels, I:267, note.)

Jonathan Edwards (1739)
"These things [were] are all related by one of the most prudent historians who lived at that very time and that very place, and he says that many were alive when he wrote and could attest to all this." (Misc. 972)

G.A. Henty
"In all history there is no drama of more terrible interest than that which terminated with the total destruction of Jerusalem. Had the whole Jewish nation joined in the desperate resistance made by a section of it to the overwhelming strength of Rome, the world would have had no record of truer patriotism than that displayed by this small people in their resistance to the forces of the mistress of the world. Unhappily the reverse of this was the case. Except in the defense of Jotapata and Gamala, it can scarcely be said the the Jewish people as a body offered any serious resistance to the arms of Rome. The defenders of Jerusalem were a mere fraction of its population, a fraction composed almost entirely of turbulent characters and robber bands, who fought with the fury of desperation, after having placed themselves beyond the pale of forgiveness or mercy by the deeds of unutterable cruelty with which they had desolated the city before its siege by the Romans. They fought, it is true, with unflinching courage, a courage never surpassed in history, but it was the courage of despair, and its result was to bring destruction upon the whole population as well as upon themselves. Fortunately the narrative of Josephus, an eye-witness of the events which he describes, has come down to us, and it is the store-house from which all subsequent histories of the events have been drawn. It is no doubt tinged throughout by the desire to stand well with his patrons Vespasian and Titus, but there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of his descriptions. I have endeavoured to present you with as vivid a picture as possible of the events of the war without encumbering the story with details, and except as regards the exploits of John of Gamala, of whom Josephus says nothing, have strictly followed in every particular the narrative of the historian." (
Introduction: For the Temple)

Thomas Lodge (1609)
"To the Right Honourable Father of Arts and Arms, Charles Lord Howard, Baron of Effingham, Early of Nottingham, High Constable of the Castle and Forrest of Windsor, Lord Chief Justice in Eyre in England, Governour and Captain Generall of all her Majesties Forts and Castles, High Admirall of England and Ireland, Lieutenant of Sussex and Surrey, Knight of the most Noble Order of the Garter, and one of her Majesties most Honourable privy Councell..   Vouchsafe therefore to level the eye of your esteem upon the Center of this happy history : and as Themistocles was animated to noble actions by beholding Miltiades trophies, and Alexander, in seeing Achilles tombe, did grievously sigh with an honorable emulation, so let the zeal, magnanimity, and admirable constancy which every where affronteth you in this book (and ravisheth the best minds from the boundless troubles of this world, and draweth them into the contemplation of true perfection) so settle your honourable love and affection to emulate the same, that as for glory in Arms, so for preserving and protecting Arts, you may outstrip your competitors and amaze too curious expectation. " (Dedication, "The Famovs and Memorable Workes of Iosephus, a Man of Mvch Honovr and Learning among the Iewes, Faithfully translated out of Latin, and Frenchm by Tho. Lodge, Doctor in Physicke."osephus' Jewish Wars)

Philip Schaff (1877)
"The destruction of Jerusalem would be a worthy theme for the genius of a Christian Homer. It has been called "the most soul-stirring of all ancient history." But there was no Jeremiah to sing the funeral dirge of the city of David and Solomon. The Apocalypse was already written, and had predicted that the heathen "shall tread the holy city under foot forty and two months." (p. 397-398)

Daniel Smith (1839)
"Haying been an eye witness of the scenes which he describes, he has given a most authentic account of the miseries as well as of the unparalleled crimes of his nation. Though a Jew, and by no means intending to favor Christianity, and though he suppresses most of what related to its Author, yet his history of facts shows the fulfilment of the predictions of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as those of Moses, to the very letter." (Preface, Destruction of Jerusalem)

William Whiston (1737)
"Josephus speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans' side, and made use of them now for the destruction of the Jews, which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Saviour himself afterwards had clearly foretold."


Preterist Commentaries from Modern Preterism

F.W. Farrar (1882)
"the Fall of Jerusalem and all the events which accompanied and followed it in the Roman world and in the Christian world, had a significance which it is hardly possible to overestimate. They were the final end of the Old Dispensation. They were the full inauguration of the New Covenant. Nothing but God's own unmistakable interposition - nothing but the manifest coming of Christ - could have persuaded Jewish Christians that the Law of the Wilderness was annulled. 

It was to this event, the most awful in history - 'one of the most awful eras in God's economy of grace, and the most awful revolution in all God's religious dispensations' - that we must apply those prophecies of Christ's coming in which every one of the Apostles and Evangelists fixed these three most definite limitations - the one, that before that generation passed away all these things would be fulfilled; another, that some standing there should not taste death till they saw the Son of Man coming in His kingdom; and third, that the Apostles should not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come. It is strange that these distinct limitations should not be regarded as a decisive proof that the Fall of Jerusalem was, in the fullest sense, the Second Advent of the Son of Man which was primarily contemplated by the earliest voices of prophecy" (ibid., Vol. 2, p. 489)

Thomas Newton  (1754)
"As a general in the wars (Josephus) must have had an exact knowledge of all transactions, and a Jewish priest he would not relate them with any favour of partiality to the Christian cause. His history was approved by Vespasian and Titus (who ordered it to be published) and by King Agrippa and many others, both Jews and Romans, who were present in those wars. He designed nothing less, and yet as if he had designed nothing more, his history of the Jewish wars may serve as a larger comment on our Saviour's prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem." (Newton, p. 433)

Bishop Porteus
"The fidelity, the veracity, and the probity of the writer are universally allowed; and Scaliger in particular declares, that not only in the affairs of the Jews, but even of foreign nations, he deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put together.
" (quoted by Farquharson)

 


Josephus in the Ante-Nicene Fathers: all the citations
By Roger Pearse, Original Digital Custodian of Lee's Dissertation on Eusebius' Theophany

The Testimonium Flavianum is really something I do not have time to write much about.  However there seem to be arguments being made about it's authenticity based upon absence of evidence.  I expressed my doubts about this approach in a newsgroup, and the following reply was made.  I quote it, as the idea seems to be in common circulation:
> However, there are instances where absence of evidence _is_ fairly strong evidence.
> In my opinion, the case of the Testimonium Flavium is one of those. As I understand it,
> we have fairly good evidence that church patriarchs from the 2nd to the mid-4th century
> knew Josephus well and used him extensively in their dialogues with non-Christian and
> heretical critics. Yet, not a one mentions the glowing report (or any possible positive
> expurgated version thereof) contained in the TF, until Eusebius. The silence is deafening and damning.

But is this true?  I can't see why the  Fathers would normally quote Josephus.  So I investigated.  

This page is the product of a search for the word 'Josephus' in the Ante-Nicene Fathers at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2.  Results from footnotes or Nicene/Post-Nicene Fathers have been ignored, as the latter will know Eusebius, of course.  After this I read Michael E. HARDWICK, Josephus as a historical source in Patristic literature through Eusebius, Brown Judaic Studies 128, Scholars Press, Georgia (1989).  This covers the same ground, but also looks for possible unattributed references.  Finally the references are discussed by Alice WHEALEY, Josephus on Jesus. Studies in Biblical Literature 36. New York: Peter Lang (2003).

Eusebius says Antiquities was available in Roman libraries. (HE 3.9). Porphyry is only pagan writer to quote Josephus, and does so from the Jewish War (Whealey, p.11) Porphyry does name Antiquities in De Abstinentia 4:11, but it is unclear if he read any of it.  The only papyrus of Josephus is a fragment of the Jewish War.

There are 16 results of which 3 are not relevant:

NB: Two further possible parallels are identified by Hardwick, but will be ignored here as too uncertain.

  • Melito of Sardis: Possible allusion in his Homily on the Passion to Jewish War 6.201-213: although the story of the mother eating her child may be derived from Lamentations 4.10 instead.

  • Lactantius: Possible parallel use of Genesis 6.2 in Divine Institutes 2.15, but no necessary link to Josephus.

This leaves 13 results.  9 of these are as follows, with the work of Josephus cited.

In these 10 citations, there seems to be no reason why the Testimonium would be cited; it is foreign to the purpose of the works in question.

The remaining 4 citations are all from Origen.

These indicate that he knew a text of Antiquities in which Josephus referred to Christ, but one somewhat different from that given by Eusebius.

On the basis of the data, the argument from absence seems very shaky indeed.  There is little use of Antiquities at all.


Contents

  1. anf01-64.htm:  Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus: XXXII.53
  2. anf02-43.htm: Theophilus to Autolycus:Book III:Chapter XXIII.-Prophets More Ancient Than Greek Writers.
  3. anf02-57.htm:Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book I, chapter XXI.
  4. anf03-05.htm: Tertullian:Apologeticum:Chapter XIX.
  5. anf06-50.htm:Book III.-The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus:Chapter XVII.38:On the Fortunes of Hyrcanus and Antigonus, and on Herod, Augustus, Antony, and Cleopatra, in Abstract.
  6. anf04-55.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, chapter 16
  7. anf04-55.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter 47
  8. anf04-58.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book IV, Chapter 11
  9. anf10-46.htm: Origen:Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, Book X:Chapter 17. The Brethren of Jesus.
  10. anf05-17.htm: The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus: Part I.-Exegetical. Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture.On Jeremiah and Ezekiel.145
  11. anf06-57.htm: The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria:Chapter 3.
  12. anf06-122.htm: Methodius, Book II, Chapter 18.


anf01-64.htm:  Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus: XXXII.53

Josephus says, that when Moses had been brought up in the royal palaces, he was chosen as general against the Ethiopians; and having proved victorious, obtained in marriage the daughter of that king, since indeed, out of her affection for him, she delivered the city up to him.

  • Note: Whealey says this is derived from Antiquities 2.238-253.  But Irenaeus can hardly have read book 18 of Antiquities, and in particular Ant. 18:89 which specifies that Pilate was removed in the closing years of Tiberius, as he asserts that Pilate crucified Jesus under Claudius (Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 74).

anf02-43.htm:Theophilus to Autolycus:Book III:Chapter XXIII.-Prophets More Ancient Than Greek Writers.

So then let what has been said suffice for the testimony of the Phoenicians and Egyptians, and for the account of our chronology given by the writers Manetho the Egyptian, and Menander the Ephesian, and also Josephus, who wrote the Jewish war, which they waged with the Romans. For from these very old records it is proved that the writings of the rest are more recent than the writings given to us through Moses, yes, and than the subsequent prophets. For the last of the prophets, who was called Zechariah, was contemporary with the reign of Darius. But even the lawgivers themselves are all found to have legislated subsequently to that period. For if one were to mention Solon the Athenian, he lived in the days of the kings Cyrus and Darius, in the time of the prophet Zechariah first mentioned, who was by many years the last of the prophets. Or if you mention the lawgivers Lycurgus, or Draco, or Minos, Josephus tells us in his writings that the sacred books take precedence of them in antiquity, since even before the reign of Jupiter over the Cretans, and before the Trojan war, the writings of the divine law which has been given to us through Moses were in existence. And that we may give a more accurate exhibition of eras and dates, we will, God helping us, now give an account not only of the dates after the deluge, but also of those before it, so as to reckon the whole number of all the years, as far as possible; tracing up to the very beginning of the creation of the world, which Moses the servant of God recorded through the Holy Spirit. For having first spoken of what concerned the creation and genesis of the world, and of the first man, and all that happened after in the order of events, he signified also the years that elapsed before the deluge. And I pray for favour from the only God, that I may accurately speak the whole truth according to His will, that you and every one who reads this work may be guided by His truth and favour. I will then begin first with the recorded genealogies, and I begin my narration with the first man.

  • Note: Whealey says this is a reference to Against Apion.

anf02-57.htm:Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book I, chapter XXI.

    Chapter XXI.-The Jewish Institutions and Laws of Far Higher Antiquity Than the Philosophy of the Greeks.

On the plagiarizing of the dogmas of the philosophers from the Hebrews, we shall treat a little afterwards. But first, as due order demands, we must now speak of the epoch of Moses, by which the philosophy of the Hebrews will be demonstrated beyond all contradiction to be the most ancient of all wisdom. This has been discussed with accuracy by Tatian in his book To the Greeks, and by Cassian in the first book of his Exegetics. Nevertheless our commentary demands that we too should run over what has been said on the point. Apion, then, the grammarian, surnamed Pleistonices, in the fourth book of The Egyptian Histories, although of so hostile a disposition towards the Hebrews, being by race an Egyptian, as to compose a work against the Jews, when referring to Amosis king of the Egyptians, and his exploits, adduces, as a witness, Ptolemy of Mendes. 

[...many pages of quotes on dates...]

Flavius Josephus the Jew, who composed the history of the Jews, computing the periods, says that from Moses to David were five hundred and eighty-five years; from David to the second year of Vespasian, a thousand one hundred and seventy-nine; then from that to the tenth year of Antoninus, seventy-seven. So that from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus there are, in all, two thousand one hundred and thirty-three years.

Of others, counting from Inachus and Moses to the death of Commodus, some say there were three thousand one hundred and forty-two years; and others, two thousand eight hundred and thirty-one years.

  • Note: Hardwick says that this is a composite of Jewish War 6.435 ff. and Antiquities 8.61 ff; 7.389.  Whealey agrees.

anf03-05.htm:Tertullian:Apologeticum:Chapter XIX.

Their high antiquity, first of all, claims authority for these writings. With you, too, it is a kind of religion to demand belief on this very ground. Well, all the substances, all the materials, the origins, classes, contents of your most ancient writings, even most nations and cities illustrious in the records of the past and noted for their antiquity in books of annals,-the very forms of your letters, those revealers and custodiers of events, nay (I think I speak still within the mark), your very gods themselves, your very temples and oracles, and sacred rites, are less ancient than the work of a single prophet, in whom you have the thesaurus of the entire Jewish religion, and therefore too of ours. If you happen to have heard of a certain Moses, I speak first of him: he is as far back as the Argive Inachus; by nearly four hundred years----only seven less----he precedes Danaus, your most ancient name; while he antedates by a millennium the death of Priam. I might affirm, too, that he is five hundred years earlier than Homer, and have supporters of that view. The other prophets also, though of later date, are, even the most recent of them, as far back as the first of your philosophers, and legislators, and historians. It is not so much the difficulty of the subject, as its vastness, that stands in the way of a statement of the grounds on which these statements rest; the matter is not so arduous as it would be tedious. It would require the anxious study of many books, and the fingers busy reckoning. The histories of the most ancient nations, such as the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Phoenicians, would need to be ransacked; the men of these various nations who have information to give, would have to be called in as witnesses. Manetho the Egyptian, and Berosus the Chaldean, and Hieromus the Phoenician king of Tyre; their successors too, Ptolemy the Mendesian, and Demetrius Phalereus, and King Juba, and Apion, and Thallus, and their critic the Jew Josephus, the native vindicator of the ancient history of his people, who either authenticates or refutes the others. Also the Greek censors' lists must be compared, and the dates of events ascertained, that the chronological connections may be opened up, and thus the reckonings of the various annals be made to give forth light. We must go abroad into the histories and literature of all nations. And, in fact, we have already brought the proof in part before you, in giving those hints as to how it is to be effected. But it seems better to delay the full discussion of this, lest in our haste we do not sufficiently carry it out, or lest in its thorough handling we make too lengthened a digression.

  • Note: Whealey says this is a reference to Against Apion.

anf04-34.htm:Minucius Felix, chapter 33.

    Chapter XXXIII.-Argument: that Even If God Be Said to Have Nothing Availed the Jews, Certainly the Writers of the Jewish Annals are the Most Sufficient Witnesses that They Forsook God Before They Were Forsaken by Him.

"Neither let us flatter ourselves concerning our multitude. We seem many to ourselves, but to God we are very few. We distinguish peoples and nations; to God this whole world is one family. Kings only know all the matters of their kingdom by the ministrations of their servants: God has no need of information. We not only live in His eyes, but also in His bosom. But it is objected that it availed the Jews nothing that they themselves worshipped the one God with altars and temples, with the greatest superstition. You are guilty of ignorance if you are recalling later events while you are forgetful or unconscious of former ones. For they themselves also, as long as they worshipped our God-and He is the same God of all-with chastity, innocency, and religion, as long as they obeyed His wholesome precepts, from a few became innumerable, from poor became rich, from being servants became kings; a few overwhelmed many; unarmed men overwhelmed armed ones as they fled from them, following them up by God's command, and with the elements striving on their behalf. Carefully read over their Scriptures, or if you are better pleased with the Roman writings, inquire concerning the Jews in the books (to say nothing of ancient documents) of Flavius Josephus or Antoninus Julianus, and you shall know that by their wickedness they deserved this fortune, and that nothing happened which had not before been predicted to them, if they should persevere in their obstinacy. Therefore you will understand that they forsook before they were forsaken, and that they were not, as you impiously say, taken captive with their God, but they were given up by God as deserters from His discipline.

  • Note: Whealey says this refers back to Tertullian, and the thesis is that of the Jewish War.  Hardwick questions whether Minucius Felix knew more of Josephus than the name, and points out that many writers may only have had a collection of quotes, rather than the whole work.  Whealey is likewise unsure whether Minucius Felix had actually read Josephus, or simply was aware of the book and that it argued thus.

anf06-50.htm:Book III.-The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus: Chapter XVII.38

At that time also, Josephus, Herod's brother, died in his command. And Herod coming to Antony ...

  • Note: This does not refer to our Josephus.  However passages elsewhere derive from Antiquities 12, 14 and 15.  Whealey says that it is unclear whether Africanus used Josephus, or rather his source for this, Nicolaus of Damascus.

anf04-55.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, chapter 16

I must express my surprise that Celsus should class the Odrysians, and Samothracians, and Eleusinians, and Hyperboreans among the most ancient and learned nations, and should not deem the Jews worthy of a place among such, either for their learning or their antiquity, although there are many treatises in circulation among the Egyptians, and Phoenicians, and Greeks, which testify to their existence as an ancient people, but which I have considered it unnecessary to quote. For any one who chooses may read what Flavius Josephus has recorded in his two books, On the Antiquity of the Jews, where he brings together a great collection of writers, who bear witness to the antiquity of the Jewish people; and there exists the Discourse to the Greeks of Tatian the younger, in which with very great learning he enumerates those historians who have treated of the antiquity of the Jewish nation and of Moses. It seems, then, to be not from a love of truth, but from a spirit of hatred, that Celsus makes these statements, his object being to asperse the origin of Christianity, which is connected with Judaism. Nay, he styles the Galactophagi of Homer, and the Druids of the Gauls, and the Getae, most learned and ancient tribes, on account of the resemblance between their traditions and those of the Jews, although I know not whether any of their histories survive; but the Hebrews alone, as far as in him lies, he deprives of the honour both of antiquity and learning. And again, when making a list of ancient and learned men who have conferred benefits upon their contemporaries (by their deeds), and upon posterity by their writings, he excluded Moses from the number; while of Linus, to whom Celsus assigns a foremost place in his list, there exists neither laws nor discourses which produced a change for the better among any tribes; whereas a whole nation, dispersed throughout the entire world, obey the laws of Moses. Consider, then, whether it is not from open malevolence that he has expelled Moses from his catalogue of learned men, while asserting that Linus, and Musaeus, and Orpheus, and Pherecydes, and the Persian Zoroaster, and Pythagoras, discussed these topics, and that their opinions were deposited in books, and have thus been preserved down to the present time. And it is intentionally also that he has omitted to take notice of the myth, embellished chiefly by Orpheus, in which the gods are described as affected by human weaknesses and passions.

anf04-55.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter 47

I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine. If, then, he says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ, of whose divinity so many Churches are witnesses, composed of those who have been convened from a flood of sins, and who have joined themselves to the Creator, and who refer all their actions to His good pleasure.

anf04-58.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book IV, Chapter 11

After this, being desirous to show that it is nothing either wonderful or new which we state regarding floods or conflagrations, but that, from misunderstanding the accounts of these things which are current among Greeks or barbarous nations, we have accorded our belief to our own Scriptures when treating of them, he writes as follows: "The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer." Now in answer to this we say, that I do not understand how Celsus, who has read a great deal, and who shows that he has perused many histories, had not his attention arrested by the antiquity of Moses, who is related by certain Greek historians to have lived about the time of Inachus the son of Phoroneus, and is acknowledged by the Egyptians to be a man of great antiquity, as well as by those who have studied the history of the Phoenicians. And any one who likes may peruse the two books of Flavius Josephus on the antiquities of the Jews, in order that he may see in what way Moses was more ancient than those who asserted that floods and conflagrations take place in the world after long intervals of time; which statement Celsus alleges the Jews and Christians to have misunderstood, and, not comprehending what was said about a conflagration, to have declared that "God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer."

anf10-46.htm:Origen:Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, Book X:Chapter 17. The Brethren of Jesus.

And the saying, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, " indicates clearly that there was a great and surpassing wisdom in the words of Jesus worthy of the saying, lo, a greater than Solomon is here." And He was wont to do greater miracles than those wrought through Elijah and Elisha, and at a still earlier date through Moses and Joshua the son of Nun. And they spoke, wondering, (not knowing that He was the son of a virgin, or not believing it even if it was told to them, but supposing that He was the son of Joseph the carpenter, ) "is not this the carpenter's son? " And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, "Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? " They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or "The Book of James," that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee," might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, "But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James. And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said in the preface, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James." With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, "And His sisters are they not all with us." seems to me to signify something of this nature-they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has. And perhaps by these things is indicated a new doubt concerning Him, that Jesus was not a man but something diviner, inasmuch as He was, as they supposed, the son of Joseph and Mary, and the brother of four, and of the others-the women-as well, and yet had nothing like to any one of His kindred, and had not from education and teaching come to such a height of wisdom and power. For they also say elsewhere, "How knoweth this man letters having never learned? " which is similar to what is here said. Only, though they say these things and are so perplexed and astonished, they did not believe, but were offended in Him; as if they had been mastered in the eyes of their mind by the powers which, in the time of the passion, He was about to lead in triumph on the cross.

anf05-17.htm: The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus: Part I.-Exegetical. Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture.On Jeremiah and Ezekiel.145

What were the dimensions, then, of the temple of Solomon? Its length was sixty cubits, and its breadth twenty. And it was not turned to the east, that the worshippers might not worship the rising sun, but the Lord of the sun. And let no one marvel if, when the Scripture gives the length at forty cubits, I have said sixty. For a little after it mentions the other twenty, in describing the holy of holies, which it also names Dabir. Thus the holy place was forty cubits, and the holy of holies other twenty. And Josephus says that the temple had two storeys, and that the whole height was one hundred and twenty cubits. For so also the book of Chronicles indicates, saying, "And Solomon began to build the house of God. In length its first measure was sixty cubits, and its breadth twenty cubits, and its height one hundred and twenty; and he overlaid it within with pure gold."

  • Whealey says that Hippolytus parallels Jewish War 2:119-266 in his Refutation of All Heresies.  She does not discuss this passage.

anf06-57.htm:The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria:Chapter 3.

Nor is this an opinion confined to ourselves alone. For it was also known to the Jews of old and before Christ, and it was most carefully observed by them. And this may be learned from what Philo, and Josephus, and Musaeus have written; and not only from these, but indeed from others still more ancient, namely, the two Agathobuli, who were surnamed the Masters, and the eminent Aristobulus, who was one of the Seventy who translated the sacred and holy Scriptures of the Hebrews for Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings. These writers, in solving some questions which are raised with respect to Exodus, say that all alike ought to sacrifice the Passover after the vernal equinox in the middle of the first month. And that is found to be when the sun passes through the first segment of the solar, or, as some among them have named it, the zodiacal circle.

anf06-122.htm: Methodius, On the Resurrection, Book II, Chapter 18. (Lost: quote is from Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 234.)

XVIII. And, when Origen allegorises that which is said by the prophet Ezekiel concerning the resurrection of the dead, and perverts it to the return of the Israelites from their captivity in Babylon, the saint in refuting him, after many other remarks, says this also: For neither did they obtain a perfect liberty, nor did they overcome their enemies by a greater power, and dwell again in Jerusalem; and when they frequently intended to build (the temple), they were prevented by other nations. Whence, also, they were scarce able to build that in forty-six years, which Solomon completed from the foundations in seven years. But what need we say on this subject? For from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and those who after him reigned over Babylon, until the time of the Persian expedition against the Assyrians, and the empire of Alexander, and the war which was stirred up by the Romans against the Jews, Jerusalem was six times overthrown by its enemies. And this is recorded by Josephus, who says: "Jerusalem was taken in the second year of the reign of Vespasian. It had been taken before five times; but now for the second time it was destroyed. For Asochaeus, king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, next Pompey, and after these Sosius, with Herod, took the city and burnt it; but before these, the king of Babylon conquered and destroyed it."

 

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Updated 9th June 2000.
Last updated 6th October 2001, from Hardwick.

The World of Josephus


     There is no doubt that Josephus' "Wars of the Jews" is one of the most electrifying works in ancient historical literature. The author was not only present at the events described, but he was also one of the war's most central characters. Joseph ben Mattias was a General of the Jewish Army for the beginning of the war with Rome. In the spring of A.D. 67, Vespasian's forces advanced upon Josephus' Twelfth Legion, most of which, upon the sight of the Roman army, deserted. He withdrew to the fortress of Jopata, and withstood a siege for six weeks. At last he was forced to surrender to the Romans (July A.D. 67).

     Josephus made a remarkable prophecy that Vespasian would one day become Emperor. In itself, this was almost unthinkable, since the Julian line was still occupying the throne, and no Emperor had yet been created outside of Rome. In less than a year, Nero committed suicide, and two years later, Vespasian was named Emperor by his legions. The prophecy seems to have given Josephus a place of privilege, for he was more of a reporter, interpreter, and go-between than a prisoner.

     When Vespasian ascended to the throne of the Roman Empire, he freed Josephus, and gave him the family name of Vespasian, Flavius. With the resumption of the Jewish War, Josephus returned to Jerusalem with Titus the son of the Emperor to exhort the Jews to surrender. The content of his "Wars" is the account of what he saw, and his final conclusion that,

"had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water, or else been destroyed by such thunder as the country of Sodom perished by, for it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such punishments; for by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed" (VI,V,6).

     Most Christians have never heard of nor read Josephus' account of the event surrounding the seven year Jewish War.    Preterists, no matter of what stripe, believe that his work displays the providential nature of Israel's desolation. No matter one's eschatology, historically this work has been seen as  powerful substantiation of Christ's prophecies.

    In addition to relaying the general history of the war, certain sections of the book have long excited special interest.  One such passage is found in Book 6:

Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence" (Wars, VI-V-3).

Other contemporary historians picked up on the story:

Tacitus (1st Century), the Roman historian, relating the same events, wrote:

"In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure" (Histories, v. 13).

Eusebius (A.D. 325), quoting from the Latin Josephus, in the fourth century:

"For before the setting of the sun chariots and armed troops were seen throughout the whole region in mid-air, wheeling through the clouds and encircling the cities" (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Ch. 8).

The crimes of that people (not the least of which was the killing of their Christ), representing the rejection of Christ among the rebellious even to this day, brought upon Israel the same judgments as fell upon Sodom and Egypt.. scripture even referring to Jerusalem with those names (Rev. 11:8).  God brought desolations and woes upon the head of that apostate nation, showing the power and vengeance of God (Isa. 52:10), as Paul recounted in Romans 9:17,

"Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."

That Josephus gave an account strikingly similar to all of Christ's Olivet Prophecies has been appreciated throughout Christian history. Eusebius (325) wrote:

"If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange." (Book III, Ch. VII)


Thomas Newton
(1754) and others wrote on the connection :

"As a general in the wars (Josephus) must have had an exact knowledge of all transactions, and a Jewish priest he would not relate them with any favour of partiality to the Christian cause.   He designed nothing less, and yet as if he had designed nothing more, his history of the Jewish wars may serve as a larger comment on our Saviour's prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem." (Newton, p. 433)

John Wesley (1754)

"Josephus' History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter (Matt. 24). It is a wonderful instance of God's providence, that he, an eyewitness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance." (Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament)

 William Whiston (1737)

"Josephus speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans' side, and made use of them now for the destruction of the Jews, which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Saviour himself afterwards had clearly foretold."

Philip Schaff (1877)

"The destruction of Jerusalem would be a worthy theme for the genius of a Christian Homer. It has been called "the most soul-stirring of all ancient history." But there was no Jeremiah to sing the funeral dirge of the city of David and Solomon. The Apocalypse was already written, and had predicted that the heathen "shall tread the holy city under foot forty and two months." (p. 397-398)


F.W. Farrar (1882), Archbishop of the Anglican church, wrote on the account as follows:

"the Fall of Jerusalem and all the events which accompanied and followed it in the Roman world and in the Christian world, had a significance which it is hardly possible to overestimate. They were the final end of the Old Dispensation. They were the full inauguration of the New Covenant. Nothing but God's own unmistakable interposition - nothing but the manifest coming of Christ - could have persuaded Jewish Christians that the Law of the Wilderness was annulled. 

It was to this event, the most awful in history - 'one of the most awful eras in God's economy of grace, and the most awful revolution in all God's religious dispensations' - that we must apply those prophecies of Christ's coming in which every one of the Apostles and Evangelists fixed these three most definite limitations - the one, that before that generation passed away all these things would be fulfilled; another, that some standing there should not taste death till they saw the Son of Man coming in His kingdom; and third, that the Apostles should not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come. It is strange that these distinct limitations should not be regarded as a decisive proof that the Fall of Jerusalem was, in the fullest sense, the Second Advent of the Son of Man which was primarily contemplated by the earliest voices of prophecy" (ibid., Vol. 2, p. 489)

The Significance of A.D.70


All Whiston footnotes (1737) are included, with comments by the Manager.

Articles Related to Josephan Studies

PEOPLE

PLACES / EVENTS

WRITINGS

'Now the people of Caesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the Roman soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence'.
Josephus,
Wars 2.18.1

"The fulfilment of our Lord’s prophecy respecting Jerusalem.. is portrayed in the pages of Josephus with terrible exactness. We may, perhaps, without presumption ascribe the existence of his works to Divine Providence; for there are few persons who have read his narrative that have not felt themselves more deeply impressed than ever with the solemn truths of Scripture, and the tremendous certainty of the Divine judgments."
Henry Stebbing

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Date: 13 Mar 2006
Time: 13:50:14

Comments:

Re: Footnote No. 14, Josephus' Jewish War and its Slavonic Version. You may like to know that the editor of this volume is not Bernard Orchard (see also the Amazon UK website) and that it was not published in 1999. Orchard's project was greatly delayed; and when he learnt in June 2000 of the German Slavist Ernst Hansack's review of Meshcherskij's edition from which the English translation had been made by H. Leeming, Orchard wound up his Slavonic Josephus project -- intended for scholarly research in Josephus and New Testament era studies -- and agreed with Brill to cancel the publishing contract. He also circulated his reason for doing so to the several Josephus scholars with whom he had been in contact concerning his Slavonic Josephus project. In view of Leeming's poor health (he has since passed away) Orchard decided to permit him to do with his English translation as he pleased, in case Leeming considered it of value in his own specialist field of Slavonic studies


Date: 09 Aug 2012
Time: 06:07:45

Your Comments:

Greetings! I am doing research on Josephus. Why do you think that William Whiston [an odd and interesting man!] translated Josephus in 1732 [his was 70 at the time!]. What was Whiston's motive??

God Bless You! P.S. This is a great web page!

Rev. Dr. Mark D. Isaacs >>> ziegenfussu @ juno.com
 

 



 






Woodcut from Flavius Josephus, De la Bataille Iudaique, printed in Paris by Antoine Vérard, 1492.

 

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(Boston, 1719)
Josiah Franklin (Ben's father) woodcut engraving of a frontispiece for which Samuel Kneeland printed

josephus1.jpg (42818 bytes)

Edward Bernard (1638-1696), professor of astronomy at Oxford, prepared this scholarly Greek-Latin edition, of which only a part was published. Printed in 1686-87.

 




 

 

 

 

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