Author Topic: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity  (Read 20120 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #135 on: November 22, 2017, 06:19:22 PM »
Josephus gives a moral lesson on how prophecy can turn a good man to heed warnings to avoid a bad prophecied fate, and then seems to contradict this idea in a way by saying that it's a false hope that one can escape a bad fate by foreknowing it:
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Now, since there befell Achab the fate spoken of by the two prophets, we ought to acknowledge the greatness of the Deity and everywhere honour and reverence Him, nor should we think the things which are said to flatter us or please us more worthy of belief than the truth, but should realize that nothing is more beneficial than prophecy and the foreknowledge which it gives, for in this way God enables us to know what to guard against. And further, with the king's history before our eyes, it behoves us to reflect on the power of Fate, and see that not even with foreknowledge is it possible to escape it, for it secretly enters the souls of men and flatters them with fair hopes, and by means of these it leads them on to the point where it can overcome them.

Maybe the answer to this mystery is repentance. If the bad fate is imposed as a penalty, then the person can repent to avoid the bad fate, like Nineveh repenting on hearing Jonah's prophecy. But a person cannot think that he can avoid the bad fate simply by foreknowing it and trying to avoid it by means that don't address the root cause, ie the means of repentance.

Josephus appears to infer the story of the chariot of fire when talking about Elijah's death:
Quote
"Now about that time Elijah disappeared (2 Kings ii. 1.) from among men, and to this day no one knows his end.'' He left behind him a disciple EUsha, as we have already related.** However, concerning Elijah and Enoch,* who lived before the Flood, it is WTitten in the sacred books that they became invisible, and no one knows of their death."
I read a scholarly opinion however, that Elijah's chariot didn't deliver ELijah to heaven for ages, but rather than it just transported him via heaven to another location and that Elijah shows up as still alive on earth within one's normal lifespan of years at another later passage. What do you think?

This story of how Ahab's sons were killed is intense. Elisha favored Jehu as king, who killed king Joram, who had been Ahab's successor:
Quote
Now Achab had seventy*- sons, who were being brought up in Samaria, and Jehu sent two letters, one to their tutors, and the other to the magistrates of Samaria, telling them to appoint the bravest of Achab's sons as king, for, he said, they had an abundance of chariots, horses, arms, soldiers and fortified cities," and, when they had done this, to take vengeance for their master's death. This he wTote because he wished to test the feelings of the Samarians toward himself. But, when they read the letters, the magistrates and the tutors were terrified and, reflecting that they could do nothing against one who had overcome two very great kings, they wrote back, agreeing to have him for their master and to do whatever he commanded. He thereupon wrote back, commanding them to obey him and to cut off the heads of Achab's sons and send them to him. So the magistrates summoned the sons' tutors and ordered them to kill them'' and cut off their heads and send them to Jehu. And they did so, showing no mercy at all, and, putting their heads in woven baskets," sent them off to Jezarela.
...
He[Jehu] also asked them[the public] to recognize that all these things had happened to Achab's family, in accordance with God's prophecy and his house had perished, just as Elijah had foretold.

That's 70 sons' heads in woven baskets, cut off by their magistrates and tutors.

Next, Jehu kills the priests of Baal, destroys the temple of Baal, and then lets the Israelites bow down before Jeroboam's two golden heifers (Book 9, Chapter VI).
It seems a little contradictory, although I can see that the heifers are not interpreted as bad as worshiping Baal.

In Book IX, Josephus describes the killing of the prophet Zechariah, the son of the priest Jodas, by king Joas in the Temple:
Quote
Moreover the king even ordered Zacharias," the son of the high priest Jodas, to be stoned to death in the temple, unmindful of the good works of his father, because, when God appointed him to prophesy, he stood in the midst of the people and counselled both them and the king to do right, and warned them that they would suffer heavy punishment if they disobeyed. As he died, however, Zacharias made God the witness and judge of what he had suffered in being so cruelly and violently put to death in return for his good counsel and for all that his father had done for Joas.
This recalls Jesus' warning to the pharisees, which mentioned Zechariah's death in the Temple:
Quote
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 23)
This could be the same Zechariah in both passages, if "son of" can refer to grandsons, great-grandsons, etc.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 06:20:01 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #136 on: November 22, 2017, 11:38:49 PM »
Quote
Maybe the answer to this mystery is repentance. If the bad fate is imposed as a penalty, then the person can repent to avoid the bad fate, like Nineveh repenting on hearing Jonah's prophecy. But a person cannot think that he can avoid the bad fate simply by foreknowing it and trying to avoid it by means that don't address the root cause, ie the means of repentance.

Makes sense, yeah.

Quote
I read a scholarly opinion however, that Elijah's chariot didn't deliver ELijah to heaven for ages, but rather than it just transported him via heaven to another location and that Elijah shows up as still alive on earth within one's normal lifespan of years at another later passage. What do you think?

It's possible given John 3:13 (though him just coming down from heaven and then living out a normal lifespan would seem to contradict not only Josephus but 2 Kings 2:10-12 as well, since Elisha's getting the mantle seems to be contingent on never seeing Elijah again).

I think the interpretation I favor is that the chariot ultimately carried him into Abraham's Bosom (from whence he went to appear during the Transfiguration. 1st C. Jews obviously attached something significant to Elijah, Moses, and Enoch all having had "special departures" from this life) and that Jesus in John 3 is talking about the absolute abode of God which was closed off until the Resurrection.

Quote
It seems a little contradictory, although I can see that the heifers are not interpreted as bad as worshiping Baal.

Aaron witnesses the pillar of fire and the parting of the Red Sea and then builds the Golden Calf. It happens. Maybe Jehu rationalized it as the calves being "representations" of Yahweh like Aaron might have (Exodus 32:5). He was pretty clearly unstable.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 11:41:39 PM by Volnutt »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #137 on: November 23, 2017, 12:27:08 AM »
Thanks for the answers.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #138 on: November 23, 2017, 12:32:41 AM »
I hope they help.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 12:32:54 AM by Volnutt »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #139 on: November 23, 2017, 02:44:25 PM »
Quote
It seems a little contradictory, although I can see that the heifers are not interpreted as bad as worshiping Baal.

Aaron witnesses the pillar of fire and the parting of the Red Sea and then builds the Golden Calf. It happens. Maybe Jehu rationalized it as the calves being "representations" of Yahweh like Aaron might have (Exodus 32:5). He was pretty clearly unstable.

I think it was pragmatism, altho it's also possible Jehu himself felt the way the heifer-"worshippers" did. On the one hand, you have a large section of the populace that wants to worship Baal as their powerful neighbors do. On the other hand, you have a large section that wants to worship Jehovah, via these calves, a system their founder set up so there wouldn't have to be the pilgrimage to (in his day) hostile Jerusalem. While Jehu clearly wasn't afraid to attempt the impossible, as his overthrow of a dynasty and a whole caste of priests proves, he was also a man with pragmatic concerns. Even Jehu isn't going to risk just annihilating his people.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 02:46:44 PM by Porter ODoran »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #140 on: November 23, 2017, 02:49:36 PM »
Josephus writes:
Quote
The kingdom then came to his son Achaz,*^ who in acting most impiously toward God and violating his country's laws imitated the kings of Israel, for he set up altars in Jerusalem and sacrificed on them to idols,* to which he even offered his own son as a whole burnt-offering according to the Canaanite custom, and he committed other offences similar to these.
...
[Later...]But the king of Jerusalem, on learning that the Syrians had returned home, and thinking himself a match for the king of Israel, led out his force against him and, after joining battle, was defeated because of the anger which God felt at his many great impieties.

Book IX
It's ironic - some ancient pagans killed their sons as sacrifices, desiring to receive the gods' blessings, but in this case the sacrifice of Achaz's son had the opposite effect.

Josephus keeps describing the northern Israelites' center as Samaria. It makes me think that the Samaritans, which kept only the Torah and not the later books, are likely remnants of the 10 "Lost Tribes" of northern Israel.

This part is alittle confusing for me:
Quote
But King Achaz, after suffering this defeat at the hands of the Israelites, sent to Thaglathphallasares, the king of Assyria, asking him to give aid as an ally in the war against the Israelites, the Syrians and Damascenes, and promising to give him much money ; he also sent him splendid gifts. And so, after the envoys had come to him, he went to the help of Achaz, and, marching against the Syrians, ravaged their country, took Damascus by storm, and killed their king Arases.
Was "Syria" part of "Assyria" or vice verse, or were they the same people?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 02:50:47 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #141 on: November 23, 2017, 03:15:53 PM »
Josephus writes:
Quote
The kingdom then came to his son Achaz,*^ who in acting most impiously toward God and violating his country's laws imitated the kings of Israel, for he set up altars in Jerusalem and sacrificed on them to idols,* to which he even offered his own son as a whole burnt-offering according to the Canaanite custom, and he committed other offences similar to these.
...
[Later...]But the king of Jerusalem, on learning that the Syrians had returned home, and thinking himself a match for the king of Israel, led out his force against him and, after joining battle, was defeated because of the anger which God felt at his many great impieties.

Book IX
It's ironic - some ancient pagans killed their sons as sacrifices, desiring to receive the gods' blessings, but in this case the sacrifice of Achaz's son had the opposite effect.

Josephus keeps describing the northern Israelites' center as Samaria. It makes me think that the Samaritans, which kept only the Torah and not the later books, are likely remnants of the 10 "Lost Tribes" of northern Israel.

This part is alittle confusing for me:
Quote
But King Achaz, after suffering this defeat at the hands of the Israelites, sent to Thaglathphallasares, the king of Assyria, asking him to give aid as an ally in the war against the Israelites, the Syrians and Damascenes, and promising to give him much money ; he also sent him splendid gifts. And so, after the envoys had come to him, he went to the help of Achaz, and, marching against the Syrians, ravaged their country, took Damascus by storm, and killed their king Arases.
Was "Syria" part of "Assyria" or vice verse, or were they the same people?

I think they were the same people ethnically but split into various fluctuating and coalescing and squabbling tribes and factions over the centuries. Even today, its debated to what extent modern Syrians are related to the ancient Assyrians (though of course current nationalist concerns want them to be).

That's just off the top of my head, though.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 03:16:45 PM by Volnutt »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #142 on: November 23, 2017, 03:27:44 PM »
Josephus writes:
Quote
The kingdom then came to his son Achaz,*^ who in acting most impiously toward God and violating his country's laws imitated the kings of Israel, for he set up altars in Jerusalem and sacrificed on them to idols,* to which he even offered his own son as a whole burnt-offering according to the Canaanite custom, and he committed other offences similar to these.
...
[Later...]But the king of Jerusalem, on learning that the Syrians had returned home, and thinking himself a match for the king of Israel, led out his force against him and, after joining battle, was defeated because of the anger which God felt at his many great impieties.

Book IX
It's ironic - some ancient pagans killed their sons as sacrifices, desiring to receive the gods' blessings, but in this case the sacrifice of Achaz's son had the opposite effect.

That's not irony, that's reality.

Quote
Was "Syria" part of "Assyria" or vice verse, or were they the same people?

The use of the two terms is fairly arbitrary thru history and by different groups. As Volnutt pointed out, both describe a large Semitic population that had great power in trade and governance. However, it seems we now generally (possibly following the biblical protocol) use "Syria" to refer to the eras or geographies in which their center of power was in cities such as modern Damascus just north of Israel, and use "Assyria" to refer to the eras or geographies in which their center of power was Nineveh.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #143 on: November 26, 2017, 09:32:09 PM »
Here in Book IX, Josephus may be explaining the origins of Samaritans, describing the actions of the Assyrian King in bringing people into northern Israel as settlers:
Quote
And, after removing other nations from a region called Chuthos *—there is a river by this name in Persia—,^ he settled them in Samaria and in the country of the Israelites. So the ten tribes of Israel emigrated from Judaea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers went out of Egypt...

As for the Chuthaioi who were transported to Samaria—this is the name by which they have been called to this day because of having been brought over from the region called Chutha, which is in Persia, as is a river by the same name—, each of their tribes—there were five —brought along its own god, and, as they reverenced them in accordance with the custom of their country, they provoked the Most High God to anger and wrath. For He visited upon them a pestilence " by which they were destroyed ; and, as they could devise no remedy for their sufferings, they learned from an oracle that they should worship the Most High God, for this would bring them deliverance.'* And so they sent envoys to the king of Assyria, asking him to send them some priests from the captives he had taken in his war with the Israelites. Accordingly, he sent some priests,* and they,^ after being instructed in the ordinances and rehgion of this God, worshipped Him with great zeal, and were at once freed of the pestilence. These same rites have continued in use even to this day among those who are called Chuthaioi (Cuthim) in the Hebrew tongue, and Samareitai (Samaritans) by the Greeks; but they alter their attitude according to circumstance and, when they see the Jews prospering, call them their kinsmen, on the ground that they are descended from Joseph and are related to them through their origin from him, but, when they see the Jews in trouble, they say that they have nothing whatever in common with them nor do these have any claim of friendship or race, and they declare themselves to be aliens of another race.
What do you think about this explanation for the Samaritans? Do you think that they may include many members of the lost tribes?

Later, the Syrian king advances on Judah and asks King Hezekiah if Hezekiah is relying on Egypt to defeat Assyria. The Assyrian king says that if that "was what he expected, they should, he said, make clear to him that he was very foolish and like a man who leans upon a broken reed and not only falls but also has his hand pierced, and feels the hurt."
(Book X)
This warning reminds me of the crucifixion, where Christ put his weight on the cross (the cut wood being like a broken reed?) and his hands/arms were pierced by that on which he relied. Might this be a reference to the crucifixion in prophecy? I think Hezekiah's three-day recovery from a deadly illness is another such possible prophetic reference.

Josephus says that according to Herodotus, the Egyptian king prayed to God to escape the Assyrian king's assault:
Quote
Concerning this Senacheirimos, Herodotus also tells us, in the second book of his History, that this king came against the king of Egypt, who was a priest of Hephaestus, and besieged Pelusium, but he abandoned the siege for the following reason. The of Egypt, king of Egypt prayed to God, and God hearkened to his prayer and visited a plague upon the Arab—at just this point he is in error, calHng him king of the Arabs instead of king of the Assyrians for, he says, in one night a host of mice ate through the bows and other weapons of the Assyrians, and, as the king on that account had no bows, he withdrew his army from Pelusium.
It's interesting because it contradicts the theory that nations outside of Israel lacked belief in God Himself, holding only to Polytheism.

The story of King Hezekiah's priest Eliakias discovering the Torah in the Temple is curious for me:
Quote
These [pious] things he[Hezekiah] did by using his natural wisdom and discernment and being guided by the counsel and traditions of the elders ^ ; for it was by following the laws that he succeeded so well in the ordering of his government ' and in piety toward the Deity, and also because the lawlessness of the former (kings) no longer existed but had been rooted out.
...
But, in bringing out the gold, the high priest Ehakias came upon the sacred books ** of Moses, which had been placed in the temple, and he brought them out and gave them to Sapha, the scribe. And, when he had read them, he came to the king and informed him that everything which he had ordered to be done had been brought to completion. Then he also read the books aloud to him. When the king had heard them read, he rent his garments and, calling the high priest Eliakias, sent him and the scribe himself* and some of his closest friends to the prophetess Oolda,^ the wife of Sallumos," a man of high repute and illustrious family," commanding them to go to her and tell her to appease God and attempt to win His favour, for, he said, there was reason to fear that, since their forefathers had transgressed against the laws of Moses, they themselves might be in danger of being driven away, and, after being cast out of their own country into a foreign land where they would be destitute of all things, might there miserably end their lives.

FOOTNOTE
Most modern scholars, however, assume that the book of Deuteronomy is here meant, and that in substantially, its present form it was written not long before the reign of Josiah, as the religious reforms prescribed in Deuteronomy seem to have been accepted by Josiah as a program of action.
It sounds in the text as if Hezekiah was pious in following ancient Israel's religious laws, presumably coming from the Torah. But then it sounds as if his priest Eliakias discovered the books of Moses by chance in the Temple. If Hezekiah had known Moses' laws all along, then why was he surprised when they were read out and he concluded that his kingdom would suffer for his fathers' infidelity and "lawlessness"? Maybe the Temple priests had kept Moses' books, but then forgot or ignored them in the period leading up to Hezekiah's reign, and Hezekiah and Eliakias rediscovered the ancient books?

Josephus and the rabbis seem to contradict themselves or scripture about whether Zedekiah the king was good or very bad:
Quote
[King Zedekiah/Sacchias] was contemptuous of justice and duty,*' for those of his own about him were impious, and the entire multitude had licence to act as outrageously as it pleased. It was for this reason that the prophet Jeremiah came to him and solemnly * protested, bidding him leave off his various impieties and lawless acts, and watch over justice and neither pay heed to the leaders, because there were wicked men among them... Now Sacchias, so long as he listened to the prophet saying these things, believed him and agreed to everything as true and that it was to his interest to have faith in him ; but his friends once more corrupted him and, winning him away from the prophet, led him wherever they pleased. ...
Now the king [Zedekiah] himself, because of his goodness and sense of justice, was in no way personally resentful [to Jeremiah] but, in order not to incur the hostility of the leaders by opposing their wishes at such a time, he gave them leave to do as they liked with the prophet.

FOOTNOTE
Cf. § 103 where Josephus, in agreement with Scripture, describes Zedekiah as a wicked king. According to rabbinic tradition "he was so good and pious that for his sake God relinquished his purpose of returning the world to its original chaos as a punishment for the evil-doing of a wicked generation" (Ginzberg iv. 294).

Antiquities, Book X.
It's curious that Josephus and Scripture would describe Zedekiah as wicked, but then Josephus and the rabbis would describe him as good.

Josephus has the Babylonian king say about Zedekiah:
" But," he said, " great is God who in His abhorrence of your conduct has made you fall into our hands."
It sounds strange to hear the Babylonian king praising God. Does this suggest that in Josephus' mind, this king believed in God or was talking about the one ultimate true God?

Josephus comments about the Babylonian king's killing of Zedekiah's sons:
"Thus, then, did the kings of David's line end their lives ; there were twenty-one ** of them including the last king, and they reigned altogether for five hundred and fourteen years".
Does this mean that after the Babylonian conquest, there were no more kings descended from David who ruled the Jews?

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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #144 on: November 27, 2017, 05:15:05 AM »
Here in Book IX, Josephus may be explaining the origins of Samaritans, describing the actions of the Assyrian King in bringing people into northern Israel as settlers:
Quote
And, after removing other nations from a region called Chuthos *—there is a river by this name in Persia—,^ he settled them in Samaria and in the country of the Israelites. So the ten tribes of Israel emigrated from Judaea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers went out of Egypt...

As for the Chuthaioi who were transported to Samaria—this is the name by which they have been called to this day because of having been brought over from the region called Chutha, which is in Persia, as is a river by the same name—, each of their tribes—there were five —brought along its own god, and, as they reverenced them in accordance with the custom of their country, they provoked the Most High God to anger and wrath. For He visited upon them a pestilence " by which they were destroyed ; and, as they could devise no remedy for their sufferings, they learned from an oracle that they should worship the Most High God, for this would bring them deliverance.'* And so they sent envoys to the king of Assyria, asking him to send them some priests from the captives he had taken in his war with the Israelites. Accordingly, he sent some priests,* and they,^ after being instructed in the ordinances and rehgion of this God, worshipped Him with great zeal, and were at once freed of the pestilence. These same rites have continued in use even to this day among those who are called Chuthaioi (Cuthim) in the Hebrew tongue, and Samareitai (Samaritans) by the Greeks; but they alter their attitude according to circumstance and, when they see the Jews prospering, call them their kinsmen, on the ground that they are descended from Joseph and are related to them through their origin from him, but, when they see the Jews in trouble, they say that they have nothing whatever in common with them nor do these have any claim of friendship or race, and they declare themselves to be aliens of another race.
What do you think about this explanation for the Samaritans?

Sounds good, I guess. I don't know the deep history of the period. I would have thought that at least some of the enmity goes back to the rivalry between the two kingdoms of Israel and Judea.

I did get a chuckle because at first glance I read "Chuthaioi" as "Cthulhuoi," though ;D

Do you think that they may include many members of the lost tribes?

I think the simplest explanation is that the lost tribes just got absorbed into surrounding peoples and lost their identity. The only other possible exception I can think of are pocket populations like Beta Israel or the Jews of Kaifeng. But even there, I don't know how you'd prove what tribe they were.

Later, the Syrian king advances on Judah and asks King Hezekiah if Hezekiah is relying on Egypt to defeat Assyria. The Assyrian king says that if that "was what he expected, they should, he said, make clear to him that he was very foolish and like a man who leans upon a broken reed and not only falls but also has his hand pierced, and feels the hurt."
(Book X)
This warning reminds me of the crucifixion, where Christ put his weight on the cross (the cut wood being like a broken reed?) and his hands/arms were pierced by that on which he relied. Might this be a reference to the crucifixion in prophecy? I think Hezekiah's three-day recovery from a deadly illness is another such possible prophetic reference.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea that a warning about a foolish action could be Christological, but maybe.

Josephus says that according to Herodotus, the Egyptian king prayed to God to escape the Assyrian king's assault:
Quote
Concerning this Senacheirimos, Herodotus also tells us, in the second book of his History, that this king came against the king of Egypt, who was a priest of Hephaestus, and besieged Pelusium, but he abandoned the siege for the following reason. The of Egypt, king of Egypt prayed to God, and God hearkened to his prayer and visited a plague upon the Arab—at just this point he is in error, calHng him king of the Arabs instead of king of the Assyrians for, he says, in one night a host of mice ate through the bows and other weapons of the Assyrians, and, as the king on that account had no bows, he withdrew his army from Pelusium.
It's interesting because it contradicts the theory that nations outside of Israel lacked belief in God Himself, holding only to Polytheism.

Well, there was that whole experiment with Atenism. So, it's not impossible that the Pharaoh held praying to a higher single God to be a possibility as a last ditch effort. Might want to check that cite against what Herodotus actually says, though. Josephus could be reading in to it a little. Also, see my point bellow on ancient syncretism.

The story of King Hezekiah's priest Eliakias discovering the Torah in the Temple is curious for me:
Quote
These [pious] things he[Hezekiah] did by using his natural wisdom and discernment and being guided by the counsel and traditions of the elders ^ ; for it was by following the laws that he succeeded so well in the ordering of his government ' and in piety toward the Deity, and also because the lawlessness of the former (kings) no longer existed but had been rooted out.
...
But, in bringing out the gold, the high priest Ehakias came upon the sacred books ** of Moses, which had been placed in the temple, and he brought them out and gave them to Sapha, the scribe. And, when he had read them, he came to the king and informed him that everything which he had ordered to be done had been brought to completion. Then he also read the books aloud to him. When the king had heard them read, he rent his garments and, calling the high priest Eliakias, sent him and the scribe himself* and some of his closest friends to the prophetess Oolda,^ the wife of Sallumos," a man of high repute and illustrious family," commanding them to go to her and tell her to appease God and attempt to win His favour, for, he said, there was reason to fear that, since their forefathers had transgressed against the laws of Moses, they themselves might be in danger of being driven away, and, after being cast out of their own country into a foreign land where they would be destitute of all things, might there miserably end their lives.

FOOTNOTE
Most modern scholars, however, assume that the book of Deuteronomy is here meant, and that in substantially, its present form it was written not long before the reign of Josiah, as the religious reforms prescribed in Deuteronomy seem to have been accepted by Josiah as a program of action.
It sounds in the text as if Hezekiah was pious in following ancient Israel's religious laws, presumably coming from the Torah. But then it sounds as if his priest Eliakias discovered the books of Moses by chance in the Temple. If Hezekiah had known Moses' laws all along, then why was he surprised when they were read out and he concluded that his kingdom would suffer for his fathers' infidelity and "lawlessness"? Maybe the Temple priests had kept Moses' books, but then forgot or ignored them in the period leading up to Hezekiah's reign, and Hezekiah and Eliakias rediscovered the ancient books?

I'm sure much of the Mosaic Law existed as oral tradition regardless of where it was written down, otherwise what were the prophets before Josiah preaching? Hezekiah was probably (over?)reacting to the differences between what he thought the Law was and what the book said.

Josephus and the rabbis seem to contradict themselves or scripture about whether Zedekiah the king was good or very bad:
Quote
[King Zedekiah/Sacchias] was contemptuous of justice and duty,*' for those of his own about him were impious, and the entire multitude had licence to act as outrageously as it pleased. It was for this reason that the prophet Jeremiah came to him and solemnly * protested, bidding him leave off his various impieties and lawless acts, and watch over justice and neither pay heed to the leaders, because there were wicked men among them... Now Sacchias, so long as he listened to the prophet saying these things, believed him and agreed to everything as true and that it was to his interest to have faith in him ; but his friends once more corrupted him and, winning him away from the prophet, led him wherever they pleased. ...
Now the king [Zedekiah] himself, because of his goodness and sense of justice, was in no way personally resentful [to Jeremiah] but, in order not to incur the hostility of the leaders by opposing their wishes at such a time, he gave them leave to do as they liked with the prophet.

FOOTNOTE
Cf. § 103 where Josephus, in agreement with Scripture, describes Zedekiah as a wicked king. According to rabbinic tradition "he was so good and pious that for his sake God relinquished his purpose of returning the world to its original chaos as a punishment for the evil-doing of a wicked generation" (Ginzberg iv. 294).

Antiquities, Book X.
It's curious that Josephus and Scripture would describe Zedekiah as wicked, but then Josephus and the rabbis would describe him as good.

I think Josephus is just talking about too separate parts of the king's life. He was good and pious while he was listening to Jeremiah, but wicked after he turned to his friends. And it is pretty wicked to be so spineless that you let the nobles abuse Jeremiah rather than standing up to them and not enforce what you know is right among the people when you're the king.


ETA: Not sure what the Rabbis were on about, though. Maybe they had Zedekiah confused with Hezekiah?

Josephus has the Babylonian king say about Zedekiah:
" But," he said, " great is God who in His abhorrence of your conduct has made you fall into our hands."
It sounds strange to hear the Babylonian king praising God. Does this suggest that in Josephus' mind, this king believed in God or was talking about the one ultimate true God?

Quote from: Daniel 2:47
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

I think it's basically ancient hyperbole, like calling a foreign ruler "king of all the earth" when you're trying to suck up to him. Ancient polytheists like the Babylonians were open to the existence of everyone else's gods (the Hittites were famous for just absorbing the gods of everybody they conquered or traded with until their pantheon numbered in the upper thousands). Many of the Jews seemed to have had the same mindset, what with the depictions of Asherah as a consort of Yahweh and such that we've found.

Maybe Nebuchadnezzar started personally worshiping the God of Israel alongside the Babylonian pantheon whenever he thought it would be advantageous to do so (though I think in the case of Zedekiah, he was just rhetorically twisting the knife)? Maybe someday we'll even discover the Babylonian equivalent of the altar to the Unknown God (before ISIS blows it up, of course).

Josephus comments about the Babylonian king's killing of Zedekiah's sons:
"Thus, then, did the kings of David's line end their lives ; there were twenty-one ** of them including the last king, and they reigned altogether for five hundred and fourteen years".
Does this mean that after the Babylonian conquest, there were no more kings descended from David who ruled the Jews?

Yep. Jesus must have been descended from a minor son by a concubine that the Babylonians didn't think to kill for some reason.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 05:25:07 AM by Volnutt »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #145 on: November 27, 2017, 10:48:55 AM »
One minor 1st Century pagan text that I think gets glossed over is Pliny the Younger writing to Trajan  on the Christians.

http://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/texts/pliny.html

Of particular interest is the mention of "deaconesses" and the Roman pagan perspective of the Christians in terms of their (the Christian) practices and persecution.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 10:56:35 AM by LivenotoneviL »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #146 on: November 27, 2017, 05:22:58 PM »
Josephus records in the story of Daniel another time when God appeared to a person in a dream:
Quote
In particular Daniel, who had already acquired sufficient skill in wisdom, devoted himself to the interpretation of dreams, and the Deity manifested Himself to him.
Josephus has many stories of God's appearances. It makes me curious what they would have looked like - a bright light, Jesus, etc.

Josephus makes an interesting note about the stone that destroys the Roman empire, intentionally hiding the Messianic meaning from his readers:
Quote
Then you saw a stone break off from a mountain "^ and fall upon the image and overthrow it, breaking it to pieces and leaving not one part of it whole,'^ so that the gold and silver and bronze and iron were made finer than flour,*' and, when the wind blew strongly, they were caught up by its force and scattered abroad ; but the stone grew so much larger that the whole earth seemed to be filled with it.

This, then, is the dream which you saw; as for its interpretation, it is as follows. The head of gold represents you and the Babylonian kings who were before you.^ The two " hands and shoulders signify that your empire will be brought to an end by two kings.'' But their empire will be destroyed by another king from the west, clad in bronze,* and this power will be ended by still another, like iron, that will have dominion for ever through its iron nature," which, he said, is harder than that of gold or silver or bronze."

And Daniel also revealed to the king the meaning of the stone, but I have not thought it proper to relate this, since I am expected to write of what is past and done and not of what is to be ; if, however, there is anyone who has so keen a desire for exact information ^ that he will not stop short of inquiring more closely but wishes to learn about the hidden things that are to come, let him take the trouble to read the Book of Daniel, which he will find among the sacred writings...

FOOTNOTE
Josephus has omitted the scriptural detail about the division of the fourth kingdom and its composition of iron and clay (r/. § 206 note 6), probably because, like the rabbis, he identified it with Rome and did not wish to offend Roman readers ; cf. next note but one.
To me, this episode suggests that Josephus deliberately hid or avoided laying out what he considered to be real Messianic prophecies. I think it accords with him being a secret Christian. So for example, some scholars think that the place where Josephus calls Jesus the Christ must be made up by others after Josephus and inserted, since Josephus doesn't elsewhere talk about Jesus except in the place about his brother James' death. To me though, it seems more likely that Josephus intentionally avoided making his writings more overtly Christian, since this was not officially allowed by Rome.
By Josephus' reference to the division of the iron empire, it sounds like Daniel predicted Rome's division into the western empire and Byzantium in the east.

Later, Josephus says that the ruler Darius the Mede, son of Xerxes or Ahaseurus, patronized Daniel, but Thackeray says that scholars can't find whom this Darius is outside of the Book of Daniel. In history, Darius I of Persia (not of the Medes particularly) was the father of Xerxes, who was the father of Artaxerxes I.
The verses in Daniel identifying this ruler are:
Daniel 5:31: "And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."
Daniel 9:1: "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans"

Josephus writes:
Quote
Now Darius, who with his relative Cyrus put an end to the Babylonian sovereignty, was in his sixty-second year when he took Babylon ; he was a son of Astyages but was called by another name among the Greeks.
And he took the prophet Daniel to his own palace in Media and kept him by his side, bestowing every honour on him.

FOOTNOTE
The identity of " Darius the Mede " (a son of Ahasuerus = Xerxes, according to Dan. ix. 1 ; cf. i.xx reading Artaxerxes for Darius in v. 31) has long been a puzzle. The various identifications proposed—with Cambyses II, with Gobryas, the Median gtiieral assisting Cyrus, with Cyaxares or Astyages, Median kings—are discussed and rejected by H. H. Rowley in a recent book, Darius the Mede. He observes, p. 1 5, note 3, that " Josephus's statement is inspired, of course, by the same harmonistic purpose as the modern arguments with which we are dealing. He found no place in his secular sources for the Darius the Mede of his biblical source, and so he resorted to this vague statement to mask the difficulty." To this I might add that the medieval Jewish commentators say that Darius the Mede (whom they distinguLsh from the later Persian Darius) was a father-inlaw of Cyrus, but this statement does not seem to be based on very old rabbinic sources.

Thackeray's text has a missing part, where the Babylonian officials (satraps) get the king to ban praying for 30 days, and catch Daniel doing so:
Quote
Thereupon the satraps, being presented with the opportunity to act against Daniel which they had looked for, straightway went to the king and accused Daniel of being the only one to transgress his orders. For, they said, though no one else had dared to pray to the gods—and this not because of impiety but in order to observe and preserve . . . out of envy. For, imagining that Darius might treat him " with greater favour than they had expected, so as readily to pardon him even after he had shown contempt for the king's orders, and for this very reason being envious of Daniel, they would not adopt a milder course but demanded that he be cast into the lions' den in accordance with the law.

FOOTNOTE
The text is in disorder here, probably because of the loss of some words after '* preserve," less probably because of a conflation of variant readings.

Whiston's version makes it look like some text is missing or incorrect:
Quote
but the princes having met with the occasion they so earnestly sought to find against Daniel, came presently to the king, and accused him, that Daniel was the only person that transgressed the decree, while not one of the rest durst pray to their gods. This discovery they made, not because of his impiety, but because they had watched him, and observed him out of envy; for supposing that Darius did thus out of a greater kindness to him than they expected, and that he was ready to grant him pardon for this contempt of his injunctions, and envying this very pardon to Daniel, they did not become more honorable to him, but desired he might be cast into the den of lions according to the law.
The text suggests that Darius might have wanted to do something to "preserve" Daniel, with the words "did thus", mentioning a "pardon".

G. Henkel's 1900 translation into Russian says that the satraps "accused Daniel as the only one who violates the decree... and does it not from piety but because he feels himself safe and totally independent in the eyes of those who envy him. But because they proposed that Darius, as a result of his extreme deference to Daniel, will carefully forgive him even the violation of his own regulation, they didn't speak of forgiveness, but demanded that by law Daniel would be thrown in a pit with lions."
Quote
Тогда сатрапы, видя, что их уловка, предпринятая ими против Даниила, вполне удалась, немедленно явились к царю и обвинили Даниила как единственного, который преступает предписания (в то время как никто другой не дерзает молиться богам) и делает-де все это вовсе не из благочестия, но потому, что он чувствует себя безопасным и совершенно независимым в глазах своих завистников. Но так как они предполагали, что Дарий, вследствие своего чрезмерного расположения к Даниилу, охотно простит ему даже нарушение его собственных постановлений, а именно этого-то они желали избегнуть и в этом-то пункте и добирались до Даниила, то они не стали и говорить о помиловании, но потребовали, чтобы, сообразно закону, Даниил был брошен в яму со львами.
http://jhistory.nfurman.com/code/01_010_11.htm

Josephus also speaks of a tower built by Daniel that survives to Josephus' time and where the Persian kings are buried. The tower in this picture in Susa, Iran is known as Daniel's tomb:


Quote
The earliest mention of Daniel's Tomb published in Europe is given by Benjamin of Tudela who visited Asia between 1160 and 1163. In the façade of one of its many synagogues he was shown the tomb assigned by tradition to Daniel. Benjamin declares however, that the tomb does not hold Daniel's remains, which were said to have been discovered at Susa about 640 A.D.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Daniel

At the end of Book X, Josephus explains that Daniel chapter 8 describes the Greek ruler Antiochus' conquest of Judea and his banning of sacrifices in Judea for three years. In the next sentence, Josephus writes:
"In the same manner Daniel also wrote about the empire of the Romans and that  Jerusalem would be taken by them and the temple laid waste.''
It seems that here Josephus is talking about Daniel 9, indicating that Daniel 9 is specifically about the conquest of Jerusalem by Rome. Elsewhere, Josephus had related Daniel 9 to both Antiochus and to Vespasian.

Josephus says that the prophecies' fulfillment disproves atheism, but rather shows that the world operates under God's care.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 05:28:55 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #147 on: November 28, 2017, 11:41:40 AM »
Quote
To me, this episode suggests that Josephus deliberately hid or avoided laying out what he considered to be real Messianic prophecies.

Or he just doesn't want to mention a prophesy that has Rome being overthrown because he depends on Roman patronage.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #148 on: November 28, 2017, 01:24:33 PM »
One minor 1st Century pagan text that I think gets glossed over is Pliny the Younger writing to Trajan  on the Christians.

http://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/texts/pliny.html

Of particular interest is the mention of "deaconesses" and the Roman pagan perspective of the Christians in terms of their (the Christian) practices and persecution.

Good one. In all such cases, it's interesting to realize how much the Roman Empire resembled our own governments. Such as using existing laws limiting the activities of mutual-insurance groups to suppress Christians. There are pros and cons to living in a society obsessed with paying lip-service to the "rule of law." Now, later, under a madman like Nero, that kind of lip-service went out the window for a time. We'll see how our own political history does on that score. -- Yet there were persecutions both under and above the law.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #149 on: December 02, 2017, 03:00:00 PM »
Josephus writes that Isaiah had predicted Cyrus' conquest long before Cyrus' birth. But note Thackeray's footnote contradicting this:
Quote
These things Cyrus knew from reading the book of-prophecy which Isaiah had left behind two hundred and ten years earlier. For this prophet had said that God told him in secret, " It is my will that
Cyrus, whom I shall have appointed king of many great nations, shall send my people to their own land and build my temple." Isaiah prophesied these things one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished." And so, when Cyrus read them, he wondered at the divine power...

Thackeray's footnote:
Actually the passage in Isaiah xliv. about the restoration under Cyrus was made, not by the prophet Isaiah who was a contemporary of Hezekiah in the late 8th century, but by a later prophet (whom modem scholars call Deutero-Isaiah for convenience) living in the 6th (or 5th) century.

SEE 1 Esdras 2:5
“If therefore there be any of you that are of his people, let the Lord, even his Lord, be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem that is in Judea, and build the house of the Lord of Israel: for he is the Lord that dwelleth in Jerusalem.”
And Ezra 1:3
“Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.”

Thackeray also notes that Cyrus is not recorded in the Book of 1 Esdras or Ezra as mentioning the Israelites' prophecies about him.

Another interesting point is that Josephus narrates Cyrus' letter about rebuilding the Temple chronologically at the time when Cyrus wrote the letter, rather than describing the letter only at the later point in time at which it was discovered. Thackeray notes:
Quote
Josephus here alters thescriptural account and anticipates the reference to Cyrus's letter. In 1 Esdras vi. == Ezra vi. Scripture says that Darius at the request of the Jews had a search made in the archives and thereupon found Cyrus's letter authorizing the rebuilding of the temple, with specification of its height, materials, etc. : Scripture goes on to say that Darius then ordered his western satraps Tatnai and Shethar-ttoznai (cf. following notes) to carry out the commands of Cyrus. Thus Josephus supplies, in its proper place, the decree of Cyrus which is mentioned retrospectively in Scripture.

I like Zerubbabel's teaching on truth's strength:
Quote
" I have now shown how great is the strength of women, but none the less both they and the king are weaker than truth. For, although the earth is very great and the heavens high and the sun swift, yet all these move in accordance with the will of God, and, since He is true and just, we must for the same reason believe truth also to be the strongest thing, against which no injustice can prevail. Furthermore, all other things that possess strength are by nature mortal and short-lived, but truth is a thing immortal and eternal. And it gives us, not beauty, that fades with time, nor wealth, of which fortune may rob us, but what is just and lawful, and from this it keeps away injustice and puts it to shame."

In the story of Esther, Esther, fasts for three days and goes to the Persian king. She falls on the ground before him, and he covers her with his sceptre, which a person must touch in order to approach the king. Josephus writes:
Quote
because he looked at her rather forbiddingly and with a countenance burning with anger, she suddenly became faint with fear and fell senseless at the feet of those who stood beside her. But the king, by the will of God, I believe,*^ changed his feeling and, fearing that his wife might have suffered some very serious injury' through her fear, he leaped from his throne and raised her in his arms and brought her back to consciousness, embracing her and speaking to her endearingly and urging her to take heart and not to apprehend a gloomy fate because she had come to him without being summoned ; for this law, he said, applied to his subjects, but she, who ruled equally with himself, had complete security. So saying he placed his sceptre in her hand and held out his staff over her bowed head " in accordance with the law, and thus freed her from anxiety. Through these acts she revived and said, " My Lord, it is not easy for me to tell you what suddenly came over me, for, so soon as I saw you looking so great and handsome and terrible, my spirit failed me and I was left without life."

FOOTNOTE
It is not clear why Josephus distinguishes between a sceptre and a staff, since the apocr. Est. mentions only one golden staff (or sceptre, so Luc.) which the king " laid on her neck."
It reminds me of Psalm 23: "Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me". I also see a resurrection motif there.

One odd potential disparity with the scripture is that while the Hebrew version of Esther says Haman was hanged on a tree, Josephus and the Septuagint says that he was hanged on a cross or crucified.
Jews in the early 5th century AD were celebrating Purim by depicting Haman being crucified, and a 4th c. monk, Evagrius, also suggested that Jews thought Haman was crucified. There is a linguistic issue that comes up, since Jesus is described in the Hebrew version of Matthew as put on an "etz" (meaning "tree" in Hebrew). Paul in one of his apostles describes Jesus as hanged on a tree, and the Talmud says that Jesus was "suspended" at Passover.

One Protestant writer claims that Haman was likely impaled when he was suspended from a pole:
Quote
In the work of the Greek historian Herodotus, impalement is regularly presented as a Persian punishment (see The Histories, 1.128, 3,132, 3.159, 6.30 as examples). Given the setting of Esther, it thus seems likely that the manner of punishment for Haman was in fact impalement. In other words, the fifty-cubit “tree” built by Haman was intended to display Mordecai’s body impaled in such a way that no one could avoid seeing it.
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/was-haman-hanged-or-impaled/

Quote
Hengel demonstrates from ancient sources that crucifixion was not invented by the Romans but used by societies long before. Most notably Herodotus cites numerous examples of crucifixion as a form of execution among Persians. For example Darius has 3000 Babylonians crucified (Herodotus, Hist. 3.159). This got me wondering. Could it be that Haman was not impaled or hung in Esther 7:9, but rather crucified. I went and checked the Hebrew which reads (apologies for the transliteration) hinneh-ha-es aser-assah (behold the tree which he made) . . . teluhu alayw (hang him upon it).
https://salternlite.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/was-haman-crucified/

In his book Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World, John Granger Cook thinks that the LXX has in mind crucifixion because it was written after the Second Punic War when Rome was powerful. The writer notes that the Targums considered Haman to have been crucified, and he notes that Haman's sons are described as being crucified/suspended after their deaths for exhibition.

Michelangelo's "Punishment of Haman":


Josephus narrates how the Samaritans built a temple at Mount Gerizim while under Persian rule. Then he describes how the Samaritans told Alexander the Great during his conquest that they were Jews:
Quote
But all those peoples to whom he came received him in a friendly spirit, whereupon the Samaritans, whose chief city at that time was Shechem,^ which lay beside Mount Garizein and was inhabited by apostates from the Jewish nation, seeing that Alexander had so signally honoured the Jews, decided to profess themselves Jews. For such is the nature of the Samaritans, as we have already shown somewhere above. ^ When the Jews are in difficulties, they deny that they have any kinship with them, thereby indeed admitting the truth, but whenever they see some splendid bit of good fortune come to them, they suddenly ** grasp at the connexion with them, saying that they are related to them and tracing their line back to Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 03:01:00 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #150 on: December 02, 2017, 03:39:48 PM »
The Deutero-Isaiah hypothesis (to the extent it doesn't just rest on an anti-supernatural bias) doesn't tell us whether or not the prophecy itself was an earlier oral tradition, though. Oral tradition was very important to a largely illiterate ancient culture, yet modern textual scholars seem to have a huge bias against it for some reason.

Of course, Josephus still makes a big assumption when he says that Cyrus had ever actually read Isaiah.

Quote
One odd potential disparity with the scripture is that while the Hebrew version of Esther says Haman was hanged on a tree, Josephus and the Septuagint says that he was hanged on a cross or crucified.
Jews in the early 5th century AD were celebrating Purim by depicting Haman being crucified, and a 4th c. monk, Evagrius, also suggested that Jews thought Haman was crucified. There is a linguistic issue that comes up, since Jesus is described in the Hebrew version of Matthew as put on an "etz" (meaning "tree" in Hebrew). Paul in one of his apostles describes Jesus as hanged on a tree, and the Talmud says that Jesus was "suspended" at Passover.

I think calling a crucifixion "hanging from a tree" was a pretty common metaphor everywhere in the ANE (think about all the grim euphemisms that the gallows acquired over the years in modern times). I'm not even sure they would have cared to draw a sharp distinction between crucifixion and impalement (after all, crucifixion is basically just a more sadistic version of impalement). I don't think there's a real contradiction.

Also, I know Michelangelo was a profligate Renaissance Florentine and probably gay, but dang. Did he have to make even Haman shredded?

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #151 on: December 02, 2017, 04:54:35 PM »
Oral tradition was very important to a largely illiterate ancient culture, yet modern textual scholars seem to have a huge bias against it for some reason.

To be fair, the infatuation with texts traps the more traditionally-oriented like Orthodox and Catholics as well, even though we at least talk as if we should know better.

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #152 on: December 02, 2017, 05:28:11 PM »
Oral tradition was very important to a largely illiterate ancient culture, yet modern textual scholars seem to have a huge bias against it for some reason.

To be fair, the infatuation with texts traps the more traditionally-oriented like Orthodox and Catholics as well, even though we at least talk as if we should know better.

I guess Foucault was right about one thing, at least.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #153 on: December 29, 2017, 11:59:44 AM »
In Book XII, Aristaeus tells king Ptolemy:
Quote
the God who gave them their laws is the same who presides over your kingdom, as I have succeeded in learning after much study. For both they and we worship the God who created the universe, whom we call by the appropriate
term Zena,[Accusative case of 'Zeus'] giving Him that name from the fact that He breathes life (zen) into all creatures."

Thackeray notes that Josephus says that Ptolemy ordered 6 elders from each tribe of Israel to translate the Torah (6 x 12 =72), but that Josephus later refers to them as 70 elders, thus giving the title to the "LXX" version of the Bible.
("But I have not thought it necessarv to report the names of the seventy elders who were sent by Eleazar and brought the Law, their names being set down at the end of the letter.")

Josephus gives a surprising turn of events leading to the death of Hyrcanus, the son of the Jewish ruler Joseph:
Quote
And he rulcd over those parts for seven years, during all«the time that Seleucus "reigned over Asia.** Now when this king*^ied, his brother'Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes,"Occupied the throne after him... As for Hyrcanus, seeing how great was the power which Antiochus had, and fearing that he might be captured by him and punished for what he had done to the Arabs, he ended his life by his own hand. And all his property was seized by Antiochus.
I understand that Antiochus' power threatened Hyrcanus, but it seems quite premature that Hyrcanus would have killed himself before Antiochus tried to capture him. Maybe Hyrcanus was secretly killed or was overly afraid? Or maybe he underwent a real risk of capture even without Antiochus having warred on him yet?

Josephus describes the creation of the festival of Hanukhah:
Quote
And on the twenty-fifth of the month Chasleu,' which the Macedonians call Apellaios," they [the Jewish rebels in Jerusalem] kindled the lights on the lampstand and burned incense on the altar and set out the loaves on the table and offered whole burntofferings upon the new altar.
...
So much pleasure did they find in the renewal of their customs and in unexpectedly obtaining the right to have their own service after so long a time, that they made a law that their descendants should celebrate the restoration of the temple service for eight days. And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the festival of Lights, giving this name to it, I think, from the fact that the right to worship appeared to us at a time when we hardly dared hope for it. 

Thackeray's Footnote:
Josephus explains the name " festival of lights " as referring to the sudden deliverance which was like a light appearing in the darkness of despair (a somewhat similar explanation is given in the scholion to Mff/lllal/i Ta'anith, " because they went out from oppression to deliverance " they made Hanukkah a permanent festival) ; it is puzzling, however, that he does not directly connect the name with the kindling of lights in the temple lampstand (rf. above, § .S19). In connexion with the 8 days of the celebration, the scholion to Mfic/ilUit/i I'd'diilth briefly relates the finding of the single jar of oil which would have sufficed for only one day's illumination had not a miracle caused it to last 8 days ; for other ral)binic jiassages cf. Schiirer i. 209 note 61, or the more  recent work of O. Kankin, The Origin of the Festival of Hanukkah, 1930. In 2 Mace, the festival is called " Tabernacles {oKrjvoTTrjyla) of the month of Kislew " ; the usual ral)binic name is Hanukkah " dedication," cf. eyKaivia in .John X. 22, and the texts cited by Strack-Hillerbeck, ad Inc., ii. 539. Derenbourg, p. (j2 note 2, suggests that the name " I-ifrhts," which is not found elsewhere, may go back to an .-ibbreviation of I lei), y'me neroth sel Jianukkah "days of (the festival of) the lights of dedication." 'J'he practice of lighting candles on each of the eight days of the festival (one on the first day, two on the second, etc.) is still observed by
the majority of Jews.
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Another curious event in Book 12 is the slaying of Menelaus, the high priest, by Antiochus (Jr.). King Antiochus (Sr.), his father by the same name, had appointed Menelaus to oversee the temple in Jerusalem while the temple was observing pagan rituals. But then when Antiochus (Jr.) gave up besieging Jerusalem, he killed Menelaus. But this doesn't seem to have been necessary, and it's confusing, since Menelaus was on the same side as Antiochus in the war, and wasn't described as being in conflict with Antiochus.

Quote
After doing this [knocking down Jerusalem's walls], he[Antiochus Jr.] returned to Antioch, taking with him the high priest Onias, who was also called Menelaus.* For Lysias had advised the king to slay Menelaus, if he wished the Jews to remain quiet and not give him any trouble ; it was this man,he said, who had been the cause of the mischief
bv persuading the king's father to compel the Jews to abandon their fathers' religion. Accordingly, the king sent Menelaus to Beroea in Syria, and there had him put to death " ; he had served as high priest for ten years,^ and had been a wicked and impious man, who in order to have sole authority for himself had compelled his nation to violate their own laws.
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Offline Ray1

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It's called a conceit.

rakovsky is obviously thinking out loud here, so to speak, and, as you mentioned just a bit before this unhelpful post, is actively looking to learn. 

The internet is famously difficult on which to convey tone, but your previous posts in this thread make your tone loud and clear: snarky and dismissive.

Real helpful there, buddy.  And just to be clear, that was sarcasm.

Please continue rakovsky.  I'm enjoying this investigation of yours.

+1000 

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Another curious event in Book 12 is the slaying of Menelaus, the high priest, by Antiochus (Jr.). King Antiochus (Sr.), his father by the same name, had appointed Menelaus to oversee the temple in Jerusalem while the temple was observing pagan rituals. But then when Antiochus (Jr.) gave up besieging Jerusalem, he killed Menelaus. But this doesn't seem to have been necessary, and it's confusing, since Menelaus was on the same side as Antiochus in the war, and wasn't described as being in conflict with Antiochus.

Quote
After doing this [knocking down Jerusalem's walls], he[Antiochus Jr.] returned to Antioch, taking with him the high priest Onias, who was also called Menelaus.* For Lysias had advised the king to slay Menelaus, if he wished the Jews to remain quiet and not give him any trouble ; it was this man,he said, who had been the cause of the mischief
bv persuading the king's father to compel the Jews to abandon their fathers' religion. Accordingly, the king sent Menelaus to Beroea in Syria, and there had him put to death " ; he had served as high priest for ten years,^ and had been a wicked and impious man, who in order to have sole authority for himself had compelled his nation to violate their own laws.

Antiochus likely cared not one whiff about repaying Menelaus with kindness for services rendered. Looks to me like he thought that killing the alleged cause of Antiochus's desecration (which in turn caused the Jewish rebellion) would serve to satisfy and pacify the Jews.

So, he threw an ally under the bus for political expediency. Not the first or last time that's happened.
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Offline rakovsky

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In Chapter 13, Josephus relates that Onias, the son of the high priest Onias, had fled to Alexandria in Egypt and
Quote
determined to send to King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra and request of them authority to build a temple in Egypt similar to that at Jerusalem, and to appoint Levites and priests of his own race. In this desire he was encouraged chiefly by the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had lived more than six hundred years before and had foretold that a temple to the Most High God was surely to be built in Egypt by a Jew.'

Thackeray's Footnote:
Is. xix. 19, " In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord." Many commentators suspect vss. 18-25 of this chapter of having been interpolated by a writer of the Hasmonaean period ; in vs. 18 some scholars emend "ir hn-heres " city of destruction " to "ir hu-heres " city of the sun," supposing this to be an allusion to the name Heliopolis " city of the sun."

Isaiah 19 says:
Quote
17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

19 In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.

20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.

21 And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it.
I don't know that the land of Judah was a terror to Egypt in the 2nd to 1st century BC. I also don't know what Egyptian city was called "The city of destruction."
The NIV notes "Some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Symmachus and Vulgate" say "City of the Sun".
I do see how Onias' temple would count as "an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt", and I can also see how Christ who was a child in Egypt and became known to Egyptians would fulfill the verses spiritually wherein "they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them."
I also don't see why verses 18-25 would have to be Hasmonean interpolations into Isaiah, but I also don't know how one could disprove the hypothesis - after all, we don't have definite pre-Hasmonean copies of Isaiah. But all our copies of Isaiah do have those verses, including the Dead Sea Scrolls of c.300-100 BC. So it seems an unlikely theory.

Onias requested to build the new temple on the ruins of the temple to Bubastis. Ptolemy the Egyptian ruler replies:
"We wonder, therefore, whether it \nll be pleasing to God that a temple be built in a place so wild ^ and full of sacred animals. But since vou say that the prophet Isaiah foretold this long ago, we grant your request if this is to be in accordance with the Law,"

Thackeray notes:
"The problem of the validity of a sacrificial site outside Jerusalem, which most scholars believe to have been implicitly forbidden by the legislation of Deuteronomy, is not raised here. The rabbis, however, seem to have accorded the Onias temple some degree of sanctity, cf. Mishnah, Menalioth, xiii. 10, and the works cited in Appendix K."

There is a curious iissue in Book XIII, where according to Josephus Apollonius attacks Jonathan, Jonathan defeats Apollonius, and King Alexander pretends to be pleased with Jonathan's victory and rewards him:
Quote
Now when Alexander heard that his general ApoUonius had been defeated, he pretended to be pleased, as if it had been against his will that ApoUonius "^ fought Jonathan who was his friend and ally, and he wrote to Jonathan, testifving to his worth bv giving him rewards and honours, including a gold brooch," such as are customarily given to kinsmen of kings,'' and he turned over to him Akkaron '^ and its district as land for settlement.

Thackeray notes:
As was remarked above, § 88 note d, Apollonius was fiphting for Demetrius II, not for Alexander Balas. The followins section is therefore a distortion of 1 Mace. x. 88-89, which tells how Alexander honoured Jonathan for his victory over ApoUonius. Josephus' phrase irpoae-TToidTo x^ipetv " pretended to be pleased " is in direct contradiction to the phrase in 1 Mace, irpoaeOeTo ert ho^d^eiv tov 'liovddrjv " he continued still further to honour Jonathan."

Josephus had recorded that the Jewish rebels captured Jerusalem, yet the Macedonians retained a garrison in a citadel in the middle of the city. It seems though that the Macedonians kept the hostile garrison there for a long time, even through successive Judean rulers, who changed allegiances between Hellenic rulers in Antioch, such as Demetrius and Antiochus (there were more than one Hellenic ruler by that name in Syria), and even after the Judeans supposedly took control of Judea and its cities. It's strange. It seems that the normal thing to do would be to arrange with their allied hellenic ruler for the Macedonians to leave Jerusalem, since it was inside the city that the Judeans controlled. Maybe the Macedonians had some kind of uneasy arrangement with the Judean rebels whereby the rebels allowed them to stay?
So for example in Volume 12, Josephus describes King Antiochus putting the guards in Jerusalem and buolding the citadel or "Acra":
Quote
"And he burnt the finest parts of the city, and pulling down the walls, built the Akra (citadel) in the Lower City '^ ; for it was high enough to overlook the temple, and it was for this reason that he fortified it with high walls and towers, and stationed a Macedonian garrison therein."
Then in Volume 13, Jonathan advised the citizens of Jerusalem
Quote
"to set up again the part of the wall round the temple which had been thrown down, and to fortify the temple precincts by high towers, and, in addition, to build still another wall in the midst of the city to keep the garrison in the citadel from reaching the city, and in this way cut off their large supply of provisions".
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Offline Volnutt

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I suppose there could also be a sense in which the Isaiah prophecy is referring to the Coptic Church.

And I suppose the current state of Israel is kind of a terror to the Egyptian government, or at least was in 1973. But perhaps that's too Evangelical of me.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 02:39:24 AM by Volnutt »
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Offline rakovsky

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And I suppose the current state of Israel is kind of a terror to the Egyptian government, or at least was in 1973.
It says "In that day...", so if the events described apply to the ancient period when Onias set up his temple as Josephus suggests, then one would have to look for conflicts in that period where Egypt was on one side and the Judeans were on another side (eg. allied with the Romans or Greeks).
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 12:16:25 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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And I suppose the current state of Israel is kind of a terror to the Egyptian government, or at least was in 1973.
It says "In that day...", so if the events described apply to the ancient period when Onias set up his temple as Josephus suggests, then one would have to look for conflicts in that period where Egypt was on one side and the Judeans were on another side (eg. allied with the Romans or Greeks).

Maybe they don't apply to that period.
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Offline rakovsky

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Josephus records that in order to pay tribute to Antiochus and get him to stop besieging Jerusalem, "Hyrcanus also opened the tomb of David, who Hyrcanus
surpassed all other kings in wealth, and took out three thousand talents of silver, and drawing on this sum, became the first Jewish king to support foreign troops.''

It's interesting that still in the Maccabean period, the exact location of David's tomb was still known. The building commonly called David's tomb today on Mount Sion near Jerusalem doesn't appear to really be his tomb.

The various Judean groups' alliances among each other in the Hasmoean period that Josephus discusses are a bit confusing for me. Were the Hasmoneans the legitimate kingly line and Onias' family the legitimate priestly line, and they had a falling out so that Onias went into exile in Egypt and the Hasmoneans took over the priesthood? Does that make Jesus related to the Hasmoneans?
Were the Hasmoneans allied with the Sadduccee priests and in opposition to the pharisees?
I found Josephus bringing this conflict up in Book 13, Chp. 10:
Quote
Section 5

As for Hyrcanus, the envy of the Jews was aroused against him by his own successes and those of his sons; particularly hostile to him were the Pharisees, who are one of the Jewish schools... And so great is their influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest,'' they immediately gain credence. Hyrcanus too was a disciple of theirs, and was greatly loved by them... [Once, Hyracnus had a feast and] one of the guests, named Eleazar,*' who had an evil nature and took pleasure in dissension, said, " Since you have asked to be told the truth, if you wish to be righteous, give up the high-priesthood and be content with governing the people." And when Hyrcanus asked him for what reason he should give up the high-priesthood, he rephed, " Because we have heard from our elders that your mother was a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes."" But the story was false, and Hyrcanus was furious with the man, while all the Pharisees were very indignant.
Thackeray's note:
This would have been a violation of the laws, based on Lev. xxi. 14, concerning the genealogical qualifications of the high priest.
It doesn't sound right to me that if someone's mother was held a captive against her will that it should disqualify one fromt he priesthood. All the Israelites had been in captivity in Egypt and under Babylon, right?

Josephus writes more:
Quote
(6) Then a certain Jonathan,'' one of Hyrcanus' close friends, belonging to the school of Sadducees, who hold opinions opposed to those of the Pharisees, said that it had been with the general approval of all the Pharisees that Eleazar had made his slanderous statement... And Jonathan in particular inflamed his anger, and so worked upon him that he brought him to join the Sadducaean party and desert the Pharisees, and to abrogate the regulations * which they had established  for the people, and punish those who observed them.

Thackeray's footnote
* These legal innovations [by the pharisees] are noted in the Mishnah

Josephus says of Hyracnus' son, King Aristobulus:
Quote
Now of his brothers he loved only Antigonus, who was next in age, and considered him worthy of a position like his own, while he kept his other brothers in chains. He also imprisoned his mother, who had disputed the royal power with him—for Hyrcanus had left her mistress of the realm—, and carried his cruelty so far that he caused her to die of starvation in prison.
...
He Aristobulus] had a kindly nature, and was wholly given to modesty, as Strabo also testifies on the authority of Timagenes,* writing as follows. " This man was a kindly person and very serviceable to the Jews,
So, he was kindly and killed his mother and imprisoned his brothers? It's confusing.

The following incident reminds me of how at the Yom Kippur temple ritual, one goat was sacrificed and a second goat carried the nation's sins and sent into a valley "to Azazel". In the Talmudic tradition, this scapegoat was sent down a cliff "hard and fast". Perhaps the story about Alexander Jannaeus was making fun of him by comparing him to the sprinkled goat that was sent down a cliff:
Quote
As for Alexander, his own people revolted against him—for the nation was aroused against him op°,res^ses —at the celebration of the festival ,'^^ and as he stood beside the altar and was about to sacrifice, they pelted him with citrons, it being a custom among the Jews that at the festival of Tabernacles everyone holds wands made of palm branches and citrons — these we have described elsewhere...
...
Then he engaged in battle with Obedas, the king of the Arabs, and falling into an ambush in a rough and difficult region, he was pushed by a multitude of camels into a deep ravine near Garada,*^ a village of Gaulanis,'' and barely escaped with his own life, and fleeing from there, came to Jerusalem.
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Offline rakovsky

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In Book 14, Josephus says that the Jewish nation argued to Pompey that they didn't want to have Hyrcanus or Aristobulus as their king because they traditionally were without kings:
Quote
Here he heard the case of the Jews and their leaders, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were quarrelling with one another, while the nation was against them both and asked not to be ruled by a king, saying that it was the custom of their country to obey the priests of the God who was venerated by them, but that these two, who were descended from the priests, were seeking to change their form of government

I understand that the Hasmoneans led the revolt against the Syrians and greeks successfully, but in those several centuries during which the Jewish nation was relatively independent of them, hadn't anyone tried to install a ruler of the line of David? Or did the Hasmoneans just wish to keep their own control and so did not allow for such a change in power?

After Aristobulus was captured by Rome, Rome gave Judea to the Roman governor of Syria, and Hyrcanus set up 5 sanhedrins ("synhedria") to govern the country, so that Josephus concludes: "And so the people were removed from monarchic rule and lived under an aristocracy."

Here is a grammar question: If the Greek plural of sanhedrin/synedrion is sanhedria, Why does English say "sanhedrins", but uses terms like: one criterion, many criteria; one phenomenon, many phenomena? Is there any rule?

Josephus in Chapter 10 notes a letter by Julius Gaius, which says in part:
Quote
"Gaius Caesar, our consular praetor, by edict forbade religious societies to assemble in the city, but these people [the Jewish inhabitants of the city] alone he did not forbid to do so or to collect contributions of money or to hold common meals. Similarly do I forbid other religious societies but permit these people alone to assemble and feast in accordance with their native customs and ordinances."
It sounds like a very strict edict that could impact Christians as well as other religious groups. It's curious - would even mainstream Roman pagan groups be affected?
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 06:42:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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In Book 14, Josephus says that the Jewish nation argued to Pompey that they didn't want to have Hyrcanus or Aristobulus as their king because they traditionally were without kings:
Quote
Here he heard the case of the Jews and their leaders, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were quarrelling with one another, while the nation was against them both and asked not to be ruled by a king, saying that it was the custom of their country to obey the priests of the God who was venerated by them, but that these two, who were descended from the priests, were seeking to change their form of government

I understand that the Hasmoneans led the revolt against the Syrians and greeks successfully, but in those several centuries during which the Jewish nation was relatively independent of them, hadn't anyone tried to install a ruler of the line of David? Or did the Hasmoneans just wish to keep their own control and so did not allow for such a change in power?

My guess is that they'd gotten used, since the return from exile, to Judge-like rulers such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubabbel. Maybe they figured that not having a king would allow them to keep a lower profile and not get exiled again (especially after the Maccabees).

After Aristobulus was captured by Rome, Rome gave Judea to the Roman governor of Syria, and Hyrcanus set up 5 sanhedrins ("synhedria") to govern the country, so that Josephus concludes: "And so the people were removed from monarchic rule and lived under an aristocracy."

Here is a grammar question: If the Greek plural of sanhedrin/synedrion is sanhedria, Why does English say "sanhedrins", but uses terms like: one criterion, many criteria; one phenomenon, many phenomena? Is there any rule?

Why do flammable and inflammable mean the same thing? Why is "i before e except after c" such a non-rule? Language can be weird sometimes.

Josephus in Chapter 10 notes a letter by Julius Gaius, which says in part:
Quote
"Gaius Caesar, our consular praetor, by edict forbade religious societies to assemble in the city, but these people [the Jewish inhabitants of the city] alone he did not forbid to do so or to collect contributions of money or to hold common meals. Similarly do I forbid other religious societies but permit these people alone to assemble and feast in accordance with their native customs and ordinances."
It sounds like a very strict edict that could impact Christians as well as other religious groups. It's curious - would even mainstream Roman pagan groups be affected?

As I recall, Roman policy often tended to restrict all religious groups and mutual aid societies that weren't directly controlled by the government (so, other than the Vestal Virgins or the official cult of the emperor, etc). Exceptions had to be explicitly applied for.

The Jews (and the pagan Egyptians, in a lot of cases) often got preferential treatment, though, because they were a rebellious population that the Roman aristocracy nevertheless grudgingly respected at least for their antiquity.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #164 on: February 05, 2018, 02:38:53 PM »
In Book 15, Josephus tells how the Jews admirably objected to Herod introducing death sports into the amphitheaters:
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to natural Jews, this was no better than a dissolution of those customs for which they had so great a veneration. (13) It appeared also no better than an instance of barefaced impiety, to throw men to wild beasts, for the affording delight to the spectators; and it appeared an instance of no less impiety, to change their own laws for such foreign exercises...

In Chapter 10 of Book XV, Josephus tells how people of Gadara objected to Herod's rule to Caesar publicly, and then that night they supposedly killed themselves for fear of Herod:
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... as the Gadarens saw the inclination of Caesar and of his assessors, and expected, as they had reason to do, that they should be delivered up to the king, some of them, out of a dread of the torments they might undergo, cut their own throats in the night time, and some of them threw themselves down precipices, and others of them cast themselves into the river, and destroyed themselves of their own accord; which accidents seemed a sufficient condemnation of the rashness and crimes they had been guilty of; whereupon Caesar made no longer delay, but cleared Herod from the crimes he was accused of.
I am wondering whether in fact Herod secretly killed them, since I wonder why they couldn't try to escape.

In Book 16, the story of the situation of Herod's two young sons living under the authority of Salome who had killed their mother is sad, as if they were trapped and their death was predetermined by the situation:
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1. BUT now the affairs in Herod's family were in more and more disorder, and became more severe upon him, by the hatred of Salome to the young men [Alexander and Aristobulus], which descended as it were by inheritance [from their mother Mariamne]; and as she had fully succeeded against their mother, so she proceeded to that degree of madness and insolence, as to endeavor that none of her posterity might be left alive, who might have it in their power to revenge her death. The young men had also somewhat of a bold and uneasy disposition towards their father occasioned by the remembrance of what their mother had unjustly suffered, and by their own affectation of dominion. The old grudge was also renewed; and they east reproaches on Salome and Pheroras, who requited the young men with malicious designs, and actually laid treacherous snares for them. Now as for this hatred, it was equal on both sides, but the manner of exerting that hatred was different; for as for the young men, they were rash, reproaching and affronting the others openly, and were inexperienced enough to think it the most generous to declare their minds in that undaunted manner; but the others did not take that method, but made use of calumnies after a subtle and a spiteful manner, still provoking the young men, and imagining that their boldness might in time turn to the offering violence to their father; for inasmuch as they were not ashamed of the pretended crimes of their mother, nor thought she suffered justly, these supposed that might at length exceed all bounds, and induce them to think they ought to be avenged on their father, though it were by despatching him with their own hands. At length it came to this, that the whole city was full of their discourses, and, as is usual in such contests, the unskilfulness of the young men was pitied; but the contrivance of Salome was too hard for them, and what imputations she laid upon them came to be believed, by means of their own conduct; for they who were so deeply affected with the death of their mother, that while they said both she and themselves were in a miserable case, they vehemently complained of her pitiable end, which indeed was truly such, and said that they were themselves in a pitiable case also, because they were forced to live with those that had been her murderers, and to be partakers with them.

(WHISTON'S TRANSLATION)
How would one translate the ending in bold? In Loeb's edition, Ralph Marcus translates it as saying that the youths were forced "to share the same fate" as their mother. Here is the Greek:
οἱ γὰρ οὕτως ἀχθόμενοι τῷ θανάτῳ τῆς μητρός, ἐπειδὴ κἀκείνην καὶ σφᾶς αὐτοὺς κακῶς ἔλεγεν, ἐφιλονείκουν ἐλεεινὴν μέν, ὥσπερ ἦν, ἀποφαίνειν τὴν καταστροφὴν τῆς μητρός, ἐλεεινοὺς δὲ αὐτούς, οἳ τοῖς ἐκείνης φονεῦσιν ἀναγκάζονται συζῆν καὶ τῶν αὐτῶν μεταλαμβάνειν.
(GREEK SOURCE: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=J.+AJ+16.3.1&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0145)

Herod then goes to Caesar and accuses his own sons of wanting to kill him. But it's strange. Josephus had just narrated the story as if the sons did want to kill Herod, but after reciting the accusations by herod, Josephus suggests that the children were innocent:
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. Now the young men, both while he was speaking, and chiefly at his concluding, wept, and were in confusion. Now as to themselves, they knew in their own conscience they were innocent; but because they were accused by their father, they were sensible, as the truth was, that it was hard for them to make their apology, since though they were at liberty to speak their minds freely as the occasion required, and might with force and earnestness refute the accusation, yet was it not now decent so to do. There was therefore a difficulty how they should be able to speak; and tears, and at length a deep groan, followed, while they were afraid, that if they said nothing, they should seem to be in this difficulty from a consciousness of guilt, - nor had they any defense ready, by reason of their youth, and the disorder they were under; yet was not Caesar unapprized, when he looked upon them in the confusion they were in, that their delay to make their defense did not arise from any consciousness of great enormities, but from their unskilfulness and modesty. They were also commiserated by those that were there in particular; and they moved their father's affections in earnest till he had much ado to conceal them.
It comes to my mind that Herod had such a history of attacking and killing his own family members and members of his court that the accusations against his two sons could have been made up.

Josephus made an interesting psychological observation and explanation about Herod's dual or schizoid treatment of his subjects and family:
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4. Now some there are who stand amazed at the diversity of Herod's nature and purposes; for when we have respect to his magnificence, and the benefits which he bestowed on all mankind, there is no possibility for even those that had the least respect for him to deny, or not openly to confess, that he had a nature vastly beneficent; but when any one looks upon the punishments he inflicted, and the injuries he did, not only to his subjects, but to his nearest relations, and takes notice of his severe and unrelenting disposition there, he will be forced to allow that he was brutish, and a stranger to all humanity; insomuch that these men suppose his nature to be different, and sometimes at contradiction with itself;

but I am myself of another opinion, and imagine that the occasion of both these sort of actions was one and the same; for being a man ambitious of honor, and quite overcome by that passion, he was induced to be magnificent, wherever there appeared any hopes of a future memorial, or of reputation at present; and as his expenses were beyond his abilities, he was necessitated to be harsh to his subjects; for the persons on whom he expended his money were so many, that they made him a very bad procurer of it; and because he was conscious that he was hated by those under him, for the injuries he did them, he thought it not an easy thing to amend his offenses, for that it was inconvenient for his revenue; he therefore strove on the other side to make their ill-will an occasion of his gains. As to his own court, therefore, if any one was not very obsequious to him in his language, and would not confess himself to be his slave, or but seemed to think of any innovation in his government, he was not able to contain himself, but prosecuted his very kindred and friends, and punished them as if they were enemies and this wickedness he undertook out of a desire that he might be himself alone honored. Now for this, my assertion about that passion of his, we have the greatest evidence, by what he did to honor Caesar and Agrippa, and his other friends; for with what honors he paid his respects to them who were his superiors, the same did he desire to be paid to himself; and what he thought the most excellent present he could make another, he discovered an inclination to have the like presented to himself. But now the Jewish nation is by their law a stranger to all such things, and accustomed to prefer righteousness to glory; for which reason that nation was not agreeable to him, because it was out of their power to flatter the king's ambition with statues or temples, or any other such performances; And this seems to me to have been at once the occasion of Herod's crimes as to his own courtiers and counselors, and of his benefactions as to foreigners and those that had no relation to him.
I think that analogies can be found with people in positions of power and repute, ranging from local politicians all the way up to persons in greater authority in companies and governments.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 02:39:29 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #165 on: February 09, 2018, 05:05:09 PM »
A major source for doubt about Josephus' passage on Christ's appearances to His apostles (the Testimonium Flavianum in Book 20 of the Antiquities) among scholars has been Origen's remark that Josephus was not a Christian. Origen (c. 185-c.254)'s remark appears in his Contra Celsus, Book I, Chapter XLVII:
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    "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"

One writer gives this explanation for Origen's connection between James' death and the temple:
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Origen simply read into Josephus’ statements about James an earlier, independent Christian tradition--as attested by Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandra--linking James’ death with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. After all, writing to explain the war was one of Josephus' purposes. And such an approach to Josephus would be consistent with Origen’s exegetical and writing styles. He is notorious as an imaginative reader of texts. Josephus’ writings were not an exception as Origen tended to read Christian traditions into Josephus’ writings. Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus, at 17-18.

Furthermore, the placement of the martyrdom of James in Antiquities would have given Origen all the reason he needed to read the account of James' martyrdom in light of the destruction of Jerusalem. The martyrdom is described just before Josephus begins to discuss the problems that lead to the war with Rome, whose legions destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Just a few lines after describing James' death, Josephus writes, "this was the beginning of greater calamities...." Ant. 20.3. A few lines after that, Josephus writes, "And from that time it principally came to pass that our city was greatly disordered, and that all things grew worse and worse among us." Ant. 20.4. While Josephus was referring to other events, the proximity to the killing of James must have proved irresistible to Origen.
http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2007/07/origen-james-brother-of-jesus-and.html
I agree with this explanation and think that Origen was reading into Josephus the idea that James' death effected the temple's destruction.

There is also some hearsay about lost texts that denied the existence of the Testimonium Flavianum:
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Concerning Origen and the TF, Arthur Drews relates in Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus:

    "In the edition of Origen published by the Benedictines it is said that there was no mention of Jesus at all in Josephus before the time of Eusebius [c. 300 ce]. Moreover, in the sixteenth century Vossius had a manuscript of the text of Josephus in which there was not a word about Jesus. It seems, therefore, that the passage must have been an interpolation, whether it was subsequently modified or not." (Drews, 9; emph. added)
http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm

Colin Green notes that the writing about James must be real in Josephus, since Origen in relating Josephus' passage quotes the underlined part verbatim, speaking of "the things which were dared by them [Jews] against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ." Josephus' passage by comparison tells how Ananus "brought before them[the Sanhedrin] the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ".

The main criticism from scholars seems to be that since the Testimonium Flavium calls Jesus the Christ, it must be a forgery. However, there is the 10th c. Arabic version that doesn't label Jesus definitely as the Christ and thus does not have this problem:
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A 10th century Arabic history of the world, “Kitab al-‘Unwan”, written by Agapius, the Christian Melkite bishop of Hierapolis, in Asia Minor, attributes to Josephus the following rendering:

    “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”

This version is much less obviously Christian. Some scholars suggest it may even reflect Josephus’ original wording: but others consider the suggestion ‘he was perhaps the Messiah’ indicate it has also been edited.
https://life.liegeman.org/whats-it-all-about/christn/historymaker/index-qa/extern-qa/
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 05:06:45 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #166 on: February 09, 2018, 06:39:41 PM »
Quoting Dorothy "Acharya S" Murdock? Really? She only had a bachelor's level in Greek Classics and is not even popular among other Christ Mythers. She was also a bit of a New Age nut, iirc.

It would be better to track down the book she sites and read that (even though it's from 1912), if you must interact with her stuff at all.

As far as the Testimonium, I think just the fact that there are two different versions of it causes skepticism. Which one, if either, is more authentic and how could we even tell? At the very least, the manuscript tradition is kind of screwed up.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 06:43:07 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #167 on: February 10, 2018, 01:16:16 AM »
In Book 16 of the Antiquities, Josephus says that his family is closely related to the Hasmoneans' lineage, which is descended from Asamoneas, and that this is why his family had a priestly lineage.

He also writes about how Hyrcanus and then Herod opened up and refurbished David's tomb:
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1. AS for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom; and as he had before heard that Hyrcanus, who had been king before him, had opened David's sepulcher, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver, and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time he opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away. However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly aftrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at great expense also.
This is very interesting, because it raises the question of where David's tomb was. In Acts, Peter says that David's tomb was still with the people in his own (Peter's) time. But what is sometimes called by Israelis "David's tomb" today appears to actually be a 1st century Christian Church built in a synagogal style and renovated drastically by the Byzantines.

In Chapter 8, Josephus in Whiston's 18th century translation says: "there was one told the king that these eunuchs were corrupted by Alexander the king's son with great sums of money. And when they were asked whether Alexander had had criminal conversation with them, they confessed it, but said they knew of no further mischief of his against his father".
In Loeb's 1920's translation, the Eunuchs confess to "intimate relations" with Alexander, which doesn't make much sense unless that is read in a nonsexual sense, since they were Eunuchs.

I think that Josephus does a fine job debunking different pieces of evidence used against Alexander and Aristobulus. For example, he points out how an intriguer came from Lacedemon and befriended Alexander and got him to complain about his situation. Then the intriguer was paid 50 talents and went back to Lacedemon, which banished him, apparently for other problems due to his faulty character.

Josephus asks whether Herod's sons, Herod himself, or Fate/Fortune were responsible for the sons' killing by Herod, questioning
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whether it be to be laid to the father's charge, that he was so hard-hearted, and so very tender in the desire of government, and of other things that would tend to his glory, that tae would take no one into a partnership with him, that so whatsoever he would have done himself might continue immovable; or, indeed, whether fortune have not greater power than all prudent reasonings; whence we are persuaded that human actions are thereby determined beforehand by an inevitable necessity, and we call her Fate, because there is nothing which is not done by her; wherefore I suppose it will be sufficient to compare this notion with that other, which attribute somewhat to ourselves, and renders men not unaccountable for the different conducts of their lives, which notion is no other than the philosophical determination of our ancient law. Accordingly, of the two other causes of this sad event, any body may lay the blame on the young men, who acted by youthful vanity, and pride of their royal birth, that they should bear to hear the calumnies that were raised against their father, while certainly they were not equitable judges of the actions of his life, but ill-natured in suspecting, and intemperate in speaking of it, and on both accounts easily caught by those that observed them, and revealed them to gain favor; yet cannot their father be thought worthy excuse, as to that horrid impiety which he was guilty of about them, while he ventured, without any certain evidence of their treacherous designs against him, and without any proofs that they had made preparations for such attempt, to kill his own sons...
The theory that Fortune is responsible and that people cannot change their futures is very curious. It makes sense that time and space are already in existence and that we have not yet experienced our futures. I can understand the idea therefore that we can affect especially our present, but it seems curious to me that this means that the distant future is less affected.
Further, supposing that the future really is predestined, it's curious to anthropomorphize or personify Fate or Fortune so that they are actually active determiners of what the future holds.

It was curious to see intermarriage among Herod's relatives and also to see that they still had a practice of marrying several wives at once in Herod's time, as Josephus writes in Book 17:
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He also caused them to be betrothed against they should come to the proper age of marriage; the elder of Alexander's sons to Pheroras's daughter, and Antipater's daughter to Aristobulus's eldest son. He also allotted one of Aristobulus's daughters to Antipater's son, and Aristobulus's other daughter to Herod, a son of his own, who was born to him by the high priest's daughter; for it is the ancient practice among us to have many wives at the same time. Now the king made these espousals for the children, out of commiseration of them now they were fatherless, as endeavoring to render Antipater kind to them by these intermarriages. But Antipater did not fail to bear the same temper of mind to his brothers' children which he had borne to his brothers themselves; and his father's concern about them provoked his indignation against them upon this supposal, that they would become greater than ever his brothers had been; while Archclaus, a king, would support his daughter's sons, and Pheroras, a tetrarch, would accept of one of the daughters as a wife to his son.
It makes me wonder when this practice of having multiple wives at once died out among the Jews.

Josephus talks about how Herod freed the Jews of Bathyra from taxes, and relates:
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when Philip, who was [tetrarch] after him, took the government, he made them pay some small taxes, and that for a little while only; and Agrippa the Great, and his son of the same name, although they harassed them greatly, yet would they not take their liberty away. From whom, when the Romans have now taken the government into their own hands, they still gave them the privilege of their freedom, but oppress them entirely with the imposition of taxes.
Loeb's footnote says that Agrippa the Great and his son ruled in 37-44 and 50-c.100 AD. Doesn't this suggest that Josephus was writing after 100 AD?
I mention this because some scholarly questions and debates have arisen over when Josephus wrote his Antiquities. A reason why this is important is that it factors into things like whether Josephus and the apostle Paul were praising the same Epaphroditis, a possible Christian, in their works.

Whiston's translation says that Pheroras' wife paid a fine that was laid on the pharisees, and in return they gave her a favorable prophecy with divine inspiration:
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In order to requite which kindness of hers, since they were believed to have the foreknowledge of things to come by Divine inspiration, they foretold how God had decreed that Herod's government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it; but that the kingdom should come to her and Pheroras, and to their children.
Loeb's translation however says: "In return for her friendliness they foretold - for they were believed to have foreknowledge of things through God's appearances to them - that by God's decree Herod's throne would be taken from him...."
I think that this is the sentence in the Greek: "  οἱ δὲ ἀμειβόμενοι τὴν εὔνοιαν αὐτῆς, πρόγνωσιν δὲ ἐπεπίστευντο ἐπιφοιτήσει τοῦ θεοῦ, προύλεγον, ὡς Ἡρώδῃ μὲν καταπαύσεως ἀρχῆς ὑπὸ θεοῦ ἐψηφισμένης αὐτῷ τε καὶ γένει τῷ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, τῆς δὲ βασιλείας εἴς τε ἐκείνην περιηξούσης καὶ Φερώραν παῖδάς τε οἳ εἶεν αὐτοῖς.  "
Which translation do you think is correct?
If God was still making appearances to the pharisees in Herod's time, it makes me wonder what those appearances or theophanies were like.

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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #168 on: February 10, 2018, 04:28:51 PM »
In telling the story of Antipater's trial before his father Herod for planning to kill Herod, Josephus says that defendants' calling on God in court to prove their innocence is a sign that they are guilty:
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. When Nicolaus had left off speaking, and had produced the evidence, Varus bid Antipater to betake himself to the making his defense, if he had prepared any thing whereby it might appear that he was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of; for that, as he was himself desirous, so did he know that his father was in like manner desirous also, to have him found entirely innocent. But Antipater fell down on his face, and appealed to God and to all men for testimonials of his innocency, desiring that God would declare, by some evident signals, that he had not laid any plot against his father. This being the usual method of all men destitute of virtue, that when they set about any wicked undertakings, they fall to work according to their own inclinations, as if they believed that God was unconcerned in human affairs; but when once they are found out, and are in danger of undergoing the punishment due to their crimes, they endeavor to overthrow all the evidence against them by appealing to God; which was the very thing which Antipater now did; for whereas he had done everything as if there were no God in the world, when he was on all sides distressed by justice, and when he had no other advantage to expect from any legal proofs, by which he might disprove the accusations laid against him, he impudently abused the majesty of God, and ascribed it to his power that he had been preserved hitherto; and produced before them all what difficulties he had ever undergone in his bold acting for his father's preservation.
But this claim by Josephus is really doubtful for me. Why wouldn't an innocent person say an open loud prayer before a court asking the Lord to prove his innocence? I guess it could be considered an outburst disrupting the court, but otherwise I don't know why the issue depends on one's guilt as Josephus supposes. Besides that, I am inclined to think that Antipater really was innocent. Herod had accused enough innocent people before, and the evidence of Antipater's guilt was based on torture or otherwise doubtful enough.

Here is a Greek question. Josephus writes about Antipater's detention: "And after putting him in chains, Herod sent out a letter about him to Caesar in Rome and also sent some men to inform him by word of mouth about the villainy of Antipater." According to Ralph Marcus, the Greek here has an additional, unintelligble part, underlined below:
δήσας δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ῥώμην ὡς Καίσαρα ἐκπέμπει γράμματα περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ γλώσσης διδάξοντας τὸν Καίσαρα τὴν κακίαν τοῦ Ἀντιπάτρου καὶ Κωπωνίου γνώμη τὴν Καίσαρος.

Can one make sense of it?

Matthias son of Margalothus was a teacher of the Torah to his students in Jerusalem and he ordered them to pull down the eagle that Herod had put over the temple gate because it was an abomination as a graven image. Herod's soldiers caught Matthias, who made a speech to Herod, including the words,
"And with pleasure we will endure death or whatever punishment you may inflict on us because we shall be conscious that death walks with us not because of any wrongdoing on our part but because of our devotion to piety." Afterwards, Matthias was burned alive.
Do you think that Matthias' idea is correct? Should one's devotion to piety whereby death walks with them because of the piety cause one to endure death with pleasure?
For example, a Quaker lady in Puritan Massachusetts was executed in a bad way for preaching Quakerism, and she was aware beforehand that the sentence for this was death. Should she, from her own perspective, have taken pleasure in enduring death?

Josephus tells how since Herod felt that the Jewish nation resented him, nearing death he decided to lock leaders of the nation who came to him from across Judea in the hippodrome and then have them shot with darts after his death.
I haven't found Josephus narrating whether this plan was carried out however.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2018, 04:29:43 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #169 on: February 10, 2018, 05:28:11 PM »
Quote
But this claim by Josephus is really doubtful for me. Why wouldn't an innocent person say an open loud prayer before a court asking the Lord to prove his innocence? I guess it could be considered an outburst disrupting the court, but otherwise I don't know why the issue depends on one's guilt as Josephus supposes.

I think it's just Josephus being cynical. I doubt he meant to lay down a detailed theology or anything like that.

Quote
Matthias son of Margalothus was a teacher of the Torah to his students in Jerusalem and he ordered them to pull down the eagle that Herod had put over the temple gate because it was an abomination as a graven image. Herod's soldiers caught Matthias, who made a speech to Herod, including the words,
"And with pleasure we will endure death or whatever punishment you may inflict on us because we shall be conscious that death walks with us not because of any wrongdoing on our part but because of our devotion to piety." Afterwards, Matthias was burned alive.
Do you think that Matthias' idea is correct? Should one's devotion to piety whereby death walks with them because of the piety cause one to endure death with pleasure?
For example, a Quaker lady in Puritan Massachusetts was executed in a bad way for preaching Quakerism, and she was aware beforehand that the sentence for this was death. Should she, from her own perspective, have taken pleasure in enduring death?

Define "with pleasure?" I don't think anybody is talking about masochism or something like that any more than a soldier might say, "I'm happy to lay down my life for my country." He's not literally happy to die, he'd rather not if he could possibly avoid it. But if that's what it takes for his duty and his honor, he's willing to do it. But stopping to say, "I reluctantly but willingly do this because I value the long term utility of this sacrifice to my nation more than I do the short term preservation of my own life" would kind of blunt the sentiment.

I'm sure you can find similar thoughts in a lot of the martyrdom accounts.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2018, 05:29:14 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #170 on: February 13, 2018, 10:45:22 PM »
Later in Book 17, Chapter 8, section 2, Salome orders those gathered in the hippodrome for death to go to their homes, and so they don't get killed.

Josephus describes the movement started by Judas the Galilean that was one of four major religious groups, the other three that he lists being the Sadduccees, Pharisees, and Essenes. My question here is what is the relationship between the "Galilean" movement that he describes and the Christians, since one of the names for the Christians as a sect was "the Galileans", and there appears to be some overlap in their teachings.
Here is what Josephus says about Judas the Galilean in Book 17, following the death of King Herod (c. 4 BC) when a number of small rebellions started. Judas' followers don't sound very Christian though in morality:
Quote
5. There was also Judas, the son of that Ezekias who had been head of the robbers; which Ezekias was a very strong man, and had with great dificulty been caught by Herod. This Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace [there,] and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there; and he became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity; and he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries.
In his commentary on this passage, Whiston focuses on whether this Judas was the same as the Theudas mentioned in Acts:
Quote
Unless this Judas, the son of Ezekias, be the same with that Theudas, mentioned Acts 5:36, Josephus must have omitted him; for that other Theudas, whom he afterward mentions, under Fadus the Roman governor, B. XX. ch. 5. sect. 1, is much too late to correspond to him that is mentioned in the Acts. The names Theudas, Thaddeus, and Judas differ but little. See Archbishop Usher's Annals at A.M. 4001. However, since Josephus does not pretend to reckon up the heads of all those ten thousand disorders in Judea, which he tells us were then abroad, see sect. 4 and 8, the Theudas of the Acts might be at the head of one of those seditions, though not particularly named by him. Thus he informs us here, sect. 6, and Of the War, B. II. ch. 4. Sect. 2, that certain of the seditious came and burnt the royal palace at Amsthus, or Betharamphta, upon the river Jordan. Perhaps their leader, who is not named by Josephus, might be this Theudas.
Here is whiston's comment on the passage in Antiquities Book 20 about the rebel named Theudas:
Quote
This Theudas, who arose under Fadus the procurator, about A.D. 45 or 46, could not be that Thendas who arose in the days of the taxing, under Cyrenius, or about A.D. 7, Acts v. 36, 37. Who that earlier Theudas was, see the note on B. XVII. ch. 10. sect. 5.
Here is what Josephus writes later in Book 18 about Judas the Galilean that sounds similar to Christianity:
Quote
Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. (Antiquities 18.23)
I can see some resemblance between those teachings and Luke 9:
<<And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)>>
as well as Jesus' teaching to "call no man father".

According to John Malalas:
Quote
At the beginning of the reign of Claudius Caesar, ten years after the ascension of our Lord God Jesus Christ, Euodios became patriarch in the great city of the Antiochenes in Syria; he was the first after the apostle St Peter to be consecrated bishop there. Christians acquired this name during his time in office, for bishop Euodios gave this name to them in his preaching; formerly Christians had been called Nazarenes and Galileans
(Malalas, Chronicle, 10.24)
Malalas also wrote this way about them in Chronicle 12:35:
Quote
The emperor Numerian arrived there as he was setting out to fight the Persians. Wishing to observe the sacred mysteries of the Christians, he resolved to go into the holy church where the Christians used to gather to see what the mysteries were which they were performing, because he had heard that the Galileans performed their liturgies in secret.
Epictetus, a Roman writer in the first century, may also have used the term Galileans to refer to Christians:
Quote
If then a man has the same opinion about his property as the man whom I have instanced has about his body; and also about his children and his wife: and in a word is so affected by some madness or despair that he cares not whether he possesses them or not, but like children who are playing with shells care (quarrel) about the play, but do not trouble themselves about the shells, so he too has set no value on the materials (things), but values the pleasure that he has with them and the occupation, what tyrant is then formidable to him or what guards or what swords? 6 Then through madness is it possible for a man to be so disposed towards these things, and the Galileans through habit, and is it possible that no man can learn from reason and from demonstration that God has made all the things in the universe and the universe itself completely free from hindrance and perfect, and the parts of it for the use of the whole?
SOURCE: Epictetus, Discourses 4.7.1-6 [concerning fearlessnesses]

Josephus complains that Archelaus married his deceased brother's wife:
Quote
Moreover, he transgressed the law of our fathers (23) and married Glaphyra, the daughter of Archelaus, who had been the wife of his brother Alexander, which Alexander had three children by her, while it was a thing detestable among the Jews to marry the brother's wife. Nor did this Eleazar abide long in the high priesthood, Jesus, the son of Sie, being put in his room while he was still living.
In the footnotes, Loeb's edition explains that "Levirite law prohibits such marriages (Lev xviii 16; xx.21) unless the previous union is childless. Then they are obligatory.
I hadn't realized this about the Torah rules.

Josephus tells a remarkable story about Glaphyra's dream in which her first husband Alexander visited her and said that she will belong to him again, soon after which she died:
Quote
since it fell out so that Alexander was slain by his father, she was married to Juba, the king of Lybia; and when he was dead, and she lived in widowhood in Cappadocia with her father, Archclaus divorced his former wife Mariamne, and married her, so great was his affection for this Glphyra; who, during her marriage to him, saw the following dream: She thought she saw Alexander standing by her, at which she rejoiced, and embraced him with great affection; but that he complained o her, and said, O Glaphyra! thou provest that saying to be true, which assures us that women are not to be trusted. Didst not thou pledge thy faith to me? and wast not thou married to me when thou wast a virgin? and had we not children between us? Yet hast thou forgotten the affection I bare to thee, out of a desire of a second husband. Nor hast thou been satisfied with that injury thou didst me, but thou hast been so bold as to procure thee a third husband to lie by thee, and in an indecent and imprudent manner hast entered into my house, and hast been married to Archelaus, thy husband and my brother. However, I will not forget thy former kind affection for me, but will set thee free from every such reproachful action, and cause thee to be mine again, as thou once wast. When she had related this to her female companions, in a few days' time she departed this life.
What do you think about this prophetic or ominous story? Do you believe that the dead can actually visit the living in their sleep?
Let me give you an example that puts this in doubt for me. Let's say that a person has dreams about their relatives when they are alive, and they feel realistic to the dreamer while he/she is dreaming. But the relatives deny having any experience (imagined, dreamt, or otherwise) of meeting the dreamer during the evening. Years later, the dreamer has the same kinds of dreams after the relatives pass away. It seems that the relatives in the latter dreams are not necessarily any more likely to be the real souls of the relatives than in the former.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #171 on: February 14, 2018, 12:25:00 PM »
LOEB's edition recommends: Kennard, JS, Jr, "Judas of Galilee and His Clan," Jew. Quart. Rev. 36 (1945-6), 281-286.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/1452114?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #172 on: February 14, 2018, 03:03:10 PM »
Later in Book 17, Chapter 8, section 2, Salome orders those gathered in the hippodrome for death to go to their homes, and so they don't get killed.

Josephus describes the movement started by Judas the Galilean that was one of four major religious groups, the other three that he lists being the Sadduccees, Pharisees, and Essenes. My question here is what is the relationship between the "Galilean" movement that he describes and the Christians, since one of the names for the Christians as a sect was "the Galileans", and there appears to be some overlap in their teachings.
Here is what Josephus says about Judas the Galilean in Book 17, following the death of King Herod (c. 4 BC) when a number of small rebellions started. Judas' followers don't sound very Christian though in morality:
Quote
5. There was also Judas, the son of that Ezekias who had been head of the robbers; which Ezekias was a very strong man, and had with great dificulty been caught by Herod. This Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace [there,] and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there; and he became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity; and he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries.
In his commentary on this passage, Whiston focuses on whether this Judas was the same as the Theudas mentioned in Acts:
Quote
Unless this Judas, the son of Ezekias, be the same with that Theudas, mentioned Acts 5:36, Josephus must have omitted him; for that other Theudas, whom he afterward mentions, under Fadus the Roman governor, B. XX. ch. 5. sect. 1, is much too late to correspond to him that is mentioned in the Acts. The names Theudas, Thaddeus, and Judas differ but little. See Archbishop Usher's Annals at A.M. 4001. However, since Josephus does not pretend to reckon up the heads of all those ten thousand disorders in Judea, which he tells us were then abroad, see sect. 4 and 8, the Theudas of the Acts might be at the head of one of those seditions, though not particularly named by him. Thus he informs us here, sect. 6, and Of the War, B. II. ch. 4. Sect. 2, that certain of the seditious came and burnt the royal palace at Amsthus, or Betharamphta, upon the river Jordan. Perhaps their leader, who is not named by Josephus, might be this Theudas.
Here is whiston's comment on the passage in Antiquities Book 20 about the rebel named Theudas:
Quote
This Theudas, who arose under Fadus the procurator, about A.D. 45 or 46, could not be that Thendas who arose in the days of the taxing, under Cyrenius, or about A.D. 7, Acts v. 36, 37. Who that earlier Theudas was, see the note on B. XVII. ch. 10. sect. 5.
Here is what Josephus writes later in Book 18 about Judas the Galilean that sounds similar to Christianity:
Quote
Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. (Antiquities 18.23)
I can see some resemblance between those teachings and Luke 9:
<<And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)>>
as well as Jesus' teaching to "call no man father".

The JSTOR article is paywalled for me past the first page (c'mon guys, a 10 page article from freaking 1946 should be free...)

My guess, though, is that Josephus's Judas was just a bog standard Zealot of the kind that would kill themselves at Masada in the following generation. I'm sure that the surface comparison would have been irresistible to Jesus's detractors ("Oh, another charismatic figure from Galilee telling us to have no care for present comforts and that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?")

According to John Malalas:
Quote
At the beginning of the reign of Claudius Caesar, ten years after the ascension of our Lord God Jesus Christ, Euodios became patriarch in the great city of the Antiochenes in Syria; he was the first after the apostle St Peter to be consecrated bishop there. Christians acquired this name during his time in office, for bishop Euodios gave this name to them in his preaching; formerly Christians had been called Nazarenes and Galileans
(Malalas, Chronicle, 10.24)
Malalas also wrote this way about them in Chronicle 12:35:
Quote
The emperor Numerian arrived there as he was setting out to fight the Persians. Wishing to observe the sacred mysteries of the Christians, he resolved to go into the holy church where the Christians used to gather to see what the mysteries were which they were performing, because he had heard that the Galileans performed their liturgies in secret.
Epictetus, a Roman writer in the first century, may also have used the term Galileans to refer to Christians:
Quote
If then a man has the same opinion about his property as the man whom I have instanced has about his body; and also about his children and his wife: and in a word is so affected by some madness or despair that he cares not whether he possesses them or not, but like children who are playing with shells care (quarrel) about the play, but do not trouble themselves about the shells, so he too has set no value on the materials (things), but values the pleasure that he has with them and the occupation, what tyrant is then formidable to him or what guards or what swords? 6 Then through madness is it possible for a man to be so disposed towards these things, and the Galileans through habit, and is it possible that no man can learn from reason and from demonstration that God has made all the things in the universe and the universe itself completely free from hindrance and perfect, and the parts of it for the use of the whole?
SOURCE: Epictetus, Discourses 4.7.1-6 [concerning fearlessnesses]

That kind of basic asceticism was pretty common in the ancient world AFAICT.

Josephus complains that Archelaus married his deceased brother's wife:
Quote
Moreover, he transgressed the law of our fathers (23) and married Glaphyra, the daughter of Archelaus, who had been the wife of his brother Alexander, which Alexander had three children by her, while it was a thing detestable among the Jews to marry the brother's wife. Nor did this Eleazar abide long in the high priesthood, Jesus, the son of Sie, being put in his room while he was still living.
In the footnotes, Loeb's edition explains that "Levirite law prohibits such marriages (Lev xviii 16; xx.21) unless the previous union is childless. Then they are obligatory.
I hadn't realized this about the Torah rules.

Josephus tells a remarkable story about Glaphyra's dream in which her first husband Alexander visited her and said that she will belong to him again, soon after which she died:
Quote
since it fell out so that Alexander was slain by his father, she was married to Juba, the king of Lybia; and when he was dead, and she lived in widowhood in Cappadocia with her father, Archclaus divorced his former wife Mariamne, and married her, so great was his affection for this Glphyra; who, during her marriage to him, saw the following dream: She thought she saw Alexander standing by her, at which she rejoiced, and embraced him with great affection; but that he complained o her, and said, O Glaphyra! thou provest that saying to be true, which assures us that women are not to be trusted. Didst not thou pledge thy faith to me? and wast not thou married to me when thou wast a virgin? and had we not children between us? Yet hast thou forgotten the affection I bare to thee, out of a desire of a second husband. Nor hast thou been satisfied with that injury thou didst me, but thou hast been so bold as to procure thee a third husband to lie by thee, and in an indecent and imprudent manner hast entered into my house, and hast been married to Archelaus, thy husband and my brother. However, I will not forget thy former kind affection for me, but will set thee free from every such reproachful action, and cause thee to be mine again, as thou once wast. When she had related this to her female companions, in a few days' time she departed this life.
What do you think about this prophetic or ominous story? Do you believe that the dead can actually visit the living in their sleep?
Let me give you an example that puts this in doubt for me. Let's say that a person has dreams about their relatives when they are alive, and they feel realistic to the dreamer while he/she is dreaming. But the relatives deny having any experience (imagined, dreamt, or otherwise) of meeting the dreamer during the evening. Years later, the dreamer has the same kinds of dreams after the relatives pass away. It seems that the relatives in the latter dreams are not necessarily any more likely to be the real souls of the relatives than in the former.

Assuming it actually happened. Maybe Josephus or his source concocted it to make a polemical point (sort of like the dream sequences in Richard III or Thucydides's "freely summarizing" Athenian political speeches). I don't think that would have been considered dishonest.

If it did happen, it could have just been Glaphyra's guilty conscience and not necessarily a ghost. Though there is some support in Scripture and tradition AFAICT for God allowing things like that, I don't think it's something the average person should expect.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #173 on: February 14, 2018, 07:41:07 PM »
Thanks for your comments, Volnutt.

Besides the passage in Book 17 about Judas the son of Ezekias who revolted in Galilee, Josephus writes about Judas of Gamala who revolted apparently in the same era in Book 18, Chapter 1, sections 1 and 6. I am not sure if these figures are the same. Here are Josephus' words:
Quote
Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same; so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left,) and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies' fire. Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us, and had a great many followers therein, filled our civil government with tumults at present, and laid the foundations of our future miseries, by this system of philosophy, which we were before unacquainted withal, concerning which I will discourse a little, and this the rather because the infection which spread thence among the younger sort, who were zealous for it, brought the public to destruction.
...

6. But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. And since this immovable resolution of theirs is well known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; nor am I afraid that any thing I have said of them should be disbelieved, but rather fear, that what I have said is beneath the resolution they show when they undergo pain. And it was in Gessius Florus's time that the nation began to grow mad with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans. And these are the sects of Jewish philosophy.

Whiston's footnote
Since St. Luke once, Acts 5:37, and Josephus four several times, once here, sect. 6; and B. XX. ch. 5. sect. 2; Of the War, B. II. ch. 8. sect. 1; and ch. 17. sect. 8, calls this Judas, who was the pestilent author of that seditious doctrine and temper which brought the Jewish nation to utter destruction, a Galilean; but here (sect. 1) Josephus calls him a Gaulonite, of the city of Gamala; it is a great question where this Judas was born, whether in Galilee on the west side, or in Gaulonitis on the east side, of the river Jordan; while, in the place just now cited out of the Antiquities, B. XX. ch. 5. sect. 2, he is not only called a Galilean, but it is added to his story, "as I have signified in the books that go before these," as if he had still called him a Galilean in those Antiquities before, as well as in that particular place, as Dean Aldrich observes, Of the War, B. II. ch. 8. sect. 1. Nor can one well imagine why he should here call him a Gaulonite, when in the 6th sect. following here, as well as twice Of the War, he still calls him a Galilean. As for the city of Gamala, whence this Judas was derived, it determines nothing, since there were two of that name, the one in Gaulonitis, the other in Galilee.

Loeb's Footnotes:
Quote
In the parallel passage in BJ ii 118, and in Ant. xviii. 23, Josephus refers to Judas as the Founder of the Fourth Philosophy. JS Kennard, 'Judas of Galilee and His Clan', plausibly identifies this Judas with the Judas who seized the opportunity to aspire to sovereignty in Galilee. (BJ ii. 56).
...
It should be noted that the identification of the Fourth Philosophy with the Zealots, which scholars so often assume, is not found in Josephus here or in the account in BJ iv. 121 ff.


Here is the related section in Wars of the Jews II, 118:
Quote
Under his administration, a Galilaean. named Judas incited his countrymen to revolt, upbraiding them as cowards for consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters, after having God for their lord. This man was a sophist who founded a sect of his own, having nothing in common with the others.

(2) Jewish philosophy, in fact, takes three forms. The followers of the first school are called Pharisees, of the second Sadducees, of the third Essenes.
Thackeray's FOOTNOTE:
Quote
Judas of Galilee (as he is called here and in Gamaliel's speech in Acts v. 37) or of Gamala in Gaulanitis {A. xviii. 4) was the founder of the Zealots, whose fanaticism and violence under Florus, the last of the procurators, hastened the war with Rome. Of the issue of the revolt we learn only from Acts loc. cit. : Judas was killed and his followers dispersed.
There is no sufficient reason tor identifying this fanatic doctor, as Schiirer does, with the brigand Judas, son of Ezechias, who raised an insurrection in Galilee after the death of Herod (BJ. ii. 56).

This note refers to the passage earlier in Book 2 of Wars of the Jews, which says that in the wake of Herod's death:
Quote
At Sepphoris in Galilee and of Judas, son of Ezechias, the brigand-chief who in former days infested the country and was subdued by King Herod, raised a considerable body of followers, broke open the royal arsenals, and, having armed his companions, attacked the other aspirants to power.

Both in Wars of the Jews and in the Antiquities these two Judases of Galilee are mentioned not far apart chronologically, and IIRC as acting within about 10 years of each other. It sounds like they were similar figures and so it raises a question in my mind too whether they were the same person.

Although Loeb's edition notes "the identification of the Fourth Philosophy with the Zealots, which scholars so often assume, is not found in Josephus here or in the account in BJ iv. 121 ff.", when I turn to Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Manuscript section 121, I don't see any footnotes or mention of Judas the Galilean, so I don't know what it is referring to in the bold.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 07:49:27 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #174 on: February 15, 2018, 12:02:08 AM »
In Book 18 Chapter III, section 1, Josephus narrates how Pilate brought busts of the emperor to set up in Jerusalem, a crowd protested, Pilate invited them to the stadium, told them to stop protesting or he would kill them with hidden soldiers, but they offered themselves up for death, so Pilate relented and sent away the images.
Next in section 2, Josephus narrates how Pilate took money from the treasury to build an aqueduct to the city, the people protested, so Pilate ordered the soldiers to attack, and they attacked harder than ordered. So the uprising ended after some were slain.
In Section 3, Josephus introduces what is called the "Testamonium" about Jesus. (About this time there lived Jesus....)
In Section 4, he tells the story of Paulina at the Temple of Isis, which I see as a parallel story to the Testamonium. He begins the section this way:
Quote
About this same time another outrage threw the Jews into an uproar; and simultaneously certain actions of a scandalous nature occurred in connexion with the temple of Isis at Rome. I shall first give an account of the daring deed of the followers of Isis and shall then come back to the fate of the Jews...
In section 5, he tells how four Jews tricked Fulvia into giving them money for the temple and then spent it on themselves, after which the Jews were expelled from Rome.

So this chapter seems to be a telling of a number of incidents that incited the Jews to revolt, which eventually led to the nation's ruin. He may be telling a lesson here too:
Pilate does the impious action of bringing images to Jerusalem, the people piously offer themselves for death in protest, and succeed in having the images remove.
Pilate takes the good action of bringing water to the city, the people mistakenly protest and are killed.
Jews deceive the Roman proselytes about the use of the donations and the Jewish people are exiled from Rome.

The story of Jesus in this context suggests itself as an anecdote explaining a spiritual reason for why the disaster came onto Israel. The Romans in this context were heavy handed and the Jewish leaders were acting wrongly. Like the Jewish protestors against idolatry who offered themselves and were spared, the Christians are a tribe who have still survived, Josephus writes in his Testamonium.

Some scholars have proposed that the Testamonium sounds out of place, as if it was inserted, but after reading almost all of Josephus' volumes, I don't agree with this impression. Instead, the story of Paulina strongly suggests that the Testamonium was used exactly at this point. The reason is that the story of Paulina takes place entirely in Rome and ostensibly doesn't seem to have a relation to any other events in the chapter, as it doesn't involve any Jews. I can tell from my reading that Josephus almost always limits himself to Jewish events or to events that have a strong purpose or relationship to them, like the succession of Roman emperors. There is no ostensible reason why Josephus includes the story of Paulina at this point, and besides that, Paulina's story has major close similarities to the Testamonium.

Here is the Greek of the Testamonium:
Quote
Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς, σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή· ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο· ὁ Χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ’ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου, οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες· ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν, τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.

Here is Loeb's translation of the Testamonium:
Quote
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth[A] gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst 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. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

LOEB'S FOOTNOTES:
Quote
The principal arguments for its authenticity are that it is found in all the manuscripts, that it is cited by Eusebius, and that the vocabulary and style are basically Josephan. The principle arguments against genuineness are: 1) Josephus as a loyal Pharisaic Jew, could not have written that Jesus was the Messiah. 2) Origen explicitly states that Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ. 3) The passage breaks the continuity of the narrative, which tells of a series of riots. Section 65 (AKA Section 4 of Chapter 3) seems to belong directly after Section 62 (the revolt over the aqueduct). 4) There are several stylistic peculiarities (eg ton priton andron par imin is not the way that Josephus refers to the Jews), though Thackeray and Richards and Shutt have noted a number of Josephan idioms....

[A]   Variant (Thackeray's emendation) "the unusual"
What do you think about Thackeray's idea that this could have said in Greek "such people as accept 'the unusual' gladly", instead of "...the truth..."?

The Testamonium is immediately followed by the story of Paulina, below,
which I feel cryptically refers to the Testamonium because of their similar elements:
Quote
4. About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs.

There was at Rome a woman whose name was Paulina; one who, on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation: she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty. She was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character. Decius Mundus fell in love with this woman, who was a man very high in the equestrian order; and as she was of too great dignity to be caught by presents, and had already rejected them, though they had been sent in great abundance, he was still more inflamed with love to her, insomuch that he promised to give her two hundred thousand Attic drachmae for one night's lodging; and when this would not prevail upon her, and he was not able to bear this misfortune in his amours, he thought it the best way to famish himself to death for want of food, on account of Paulina's sad refusal; and he determined with himself to die after such a manner, and he went on with his purpose accordingly. Now Mundus had a freed-woman, who had been made free by his father, whose name was Ide, one skillful in all sorts of mischief. This woman was very much grieved at the young man's resolution to kill himself, (for he did not conceal his intentions to destroy himself from others,) and came to him, and encouraged him by her discourse, and made him to hope, by some promises she gave him, that he might obtain a night's lodging with Paulina; and when he joyfully hearkened to her entreaty, she said she wanted no more than fifty thousand drachmae for the entrapping of the woman. So when she had encouraged the young man, and gotten as much money as she required, she did not take the same methods as had been taken before, because she perceived that the woman was by no means to be tempted by money; but as she knew that she was very much given to the worship of the goddess Isis, she devised the following stratagem: She went to some of Isis's priests, and upon the strongest assurances [of concealment], she persuaded them by words, but chiefly by the offer of money, of twenty-five thousand drachmae in hand, and as much more when the thing had taken effect; and told them the passion of the young man, and persuaded them to use all means possible to beguile the woman. So they were drawn in to promise so to do, by that large sum of gold they were to have. Accordingly, the oldest of them went immediately to Paulina; and upon his admittance, he desired to speak with her by herself. When that was granted him, he told her that he was sent by the god Anubis, who was fallen in love with her, and enjoined her to come to him. Upon this she took the message very kindly, and valued herself greatly upon this condescension of Anubis, and told her husband that she had a message sent her, and was to sup and lie with Anubis; so he agreed to her acceptance of the offer, as fully satisfied with the chastity of his wife. Accordingly, she went to the temple, and after she had supped there, and it was the hour to go to sleep, the priest shut the doors of the temple, when, in the holy part of it, the lights were also put out. Then did Mundus leap out, (for he was hidden therein,) and did not fail of enjoying her, who was at his service all the night long, as supposing he was the god; and when he was gone away, which was before those priests who knew nothing of this stratagem were stirring, Paulina came early to her husband, and told him how the god Anubis had appeared to her. Among her friends, also, she declared how great a value she put upon this favor, who partly disbelieved the thing, when they reflected on its nature, and partly were amazed at it, as having no pretense for not believing it, when they considered the modesty and the dignity of the person. But now, on the third day after what had been done, Mundus met Paulina, and said, "Nay, Paulina, thou hast saved me two hundred thousand drachmae, which sum thou sightest have added to thy own family; yet hast thou not failed to be at my service in the manner I invited thee. As for the reproaches thou hast laid upon Mundus, I value not the business of names; but I rejoice in the pleasure I reaped by what I did, while I took to myself the name of Anubis." When he had said this, he went his way. But now she began to come to the sense of the grossness of what she had done, and rent her garments, and told her husband of the horrid nature of this wicked contrivance, and prayed him not to neglect to assist her in this case. So he discovered the fact to the emperor; whereupon Tiberius inquired into the matter thoroughly by examining the priests about it, and ordered them to be crucified, as well as Ide, who was the occasion of their perdition, and who had contrived the whole matter, which was so injurious to the woman. He also demolished the temple of Isis, and gave order that her statue should be thrown into the river Tiber; while he only banished Mundus, but did no more to him, because he supposed that what crime he had committed was done out of the passion of love. And these were the circumstances which concerned the temple of Isis, and the injuries occasioned by her priests. I now return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome, as I formerly told you I would.

Loeb's footnote:
Quote
Actually [Paulina's story occurred in]AD 19 as we see from Tacitus Ann. ii.85 and not c. 30, as we should deduce from the insertion of these incidents in the midst of the narrative of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. EM Smallwood... though rejecting Josephus' date, suggests that this date was prompted by the danger in which the Jews found themselves in the year 30 because of Sejanus' opposition to them.
...
C. Pharr, 'The testimony of Josephus to Christianity'... remarks that this story of Mundus and Paulina in its present literary form has been influenced by the classic story of the trick of Nectanebus II, the Egyptian king who, according to Pseudo-Callisthenes... deceived Olympias, wife of King Philip of Macedonia, into believing that he was Zeus Ammon, and through her became the father of Alexander the Great.

Here is the relevant passage from Tacitus:
Quote
That same year [when Germanicus died, 19 CE]… There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish worship, and a resolution of the Senate was passed that four thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the island of Sardinia, to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap sacrifice should they die from the pestilential climate. The rest were to quit Italy, unless before a certain day they repudiated their impious rites.

First, I note that Paulina's story doesn't seem to have much to do with the other events in the chapter, except in that both the Egyptian and Jewish cults were banned from Rome. And I can see how Paulina's story could have played a role in the expulsion of the Egyptian cult. But there is still no practical need for Josephus to have told the story even if it did relate to the expulsion of the Egyptian cult, because Josephus, as I have seen, generally only narrates events that relate directly to Jewish affairs.  If the banishment in Paulina's story actually happened in 19 AD like Tacitus said, then it occurred before Pilate's rule in Judea and hence the purpose of inserting it at this point would not really be to show why Jews were revolting against Pilate. It seems that the purpose of Josephus telling Paulina's story is to serve as a relief or antithesis to the Testamonium.

Second, the opening introducing Paulina and her virtues reminds me of the opening of the Testamonium in introducing Jesus and his virtues:
Quote
There was at Rome a woman whose name was Paulina; one who, on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation: she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty.

Third, Ida's paying the priests money in order to treacherously entrap Paulina reminds me of the temple priests' payment to Judas to treacherously catch Jesus.

Fourth, whereas Paulina slept with Mundus, thinking that he was the god Anubis, and Mundus met her "on the third day" of the event and revealed himself, Jesus appeared to his apostles "on the third day" of his crucifixion. In the New Testament, the resurrection appearance is considered a revelation that Jesus is divine.

Fifth, Ida and the priests were crucified by the Romans, and the temple of Isis was destroyed. On the other hand in the Bible, Jesus was crucified. And Christians like Origen ascribed the Jerusalem temple's destruction to Jesus' crucifixion.

Sixth, the mating of Ida and "Anubis" could find a parallel in the divinely induced virgin birth by Mary of Jesus, which Josephus alludes to with his words "if indeed he should be called a man".

Roger Viklund suggests that Paulina was Jewish, noting:
Quote
Afterwards, when Paulina finds out about the deception, she “rent her garments” in despair over her humiliation; a common expression of grief and despair among the Jews and this therefore suggest that she also was a Jewess.
...
Ivan G. Marcus writes:

    ”The tearing of clothes is the basis of what the rabbis called qeriyah, tearing one’s garment, and it is already anticipated here: ’Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and observed mourning for his son many days’ (Gen. 37:34)” (Ivan G. Marcus, The Jewish life cycle: rites of passage from biblical to modern times‎, p. 203).
https://rogerviklund.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/the-jesus-passages-in-josephus-%E2%80%93-a-case-study-part-2e-%E2%80%93-%E2%80%9Dtestimonium-flavianum%E2%80%9D-content-and-context-the-testimonium-does-not-fit-in-context/#_edn1

Quote
I've read... that the off-topic digression [about Paulina] is an allegorical fable intended by Josephus to link the short "Jesus passage" with the final section of the chapter -- in which an unnamed Roman Jew swindles a sincere but naive convert to Judaism out of a huge pile of cash (ostensibly for the Temple in Jerusalem). Which is to say that the racy anecdote about a seducer who pretends to be a god is meant to draw an analogy between the Jewish con-artist in Rome and another Jewish con-artist in Jerusalem!

In other words, could the gushingly "Christian-sounding" quality that skeptics have complained about in the Testimonium Flavium be nothing more than SARCASM on the part of Josephus?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AJosephus_on_Jesus#What_about_the_Paulina_and_%22Anubis%22_anecdote_in_Bk._18,_Ch._3?

In James the Brother of Jesus, Robert H. Eisenman writes:
Quote
Tacitus, who agrees that Tiberius expelled the jews from Rome because of these kinds of pernicious superstitions, places these events [Paulina's story and Fulvia's deception by the four Jews, leading to the banishment from Rome]  precidely in 19 CE - the year of Jesus' purported crucifixion according to the allegedly spurious Acti Pilates.... These 'acts'... have now been lost....

For some this [set of stories] could represent a subtle if malevolent burlesque of Christian infancy narratives. The Fulvia episode has to do with fundraising activities overseas on the part of a teacher, condemnded for Lawbreaking in palestine and three of his associates. Not only does the date of the Mundus and Paulina episode in Tacitus like the date of the death of John the Baptist in Josephus cause problems where New testament chronologies are concerned, it overlaps later information in Suetonius about how during the reign of Claudius (41-54 CE) the Jews were banished from Rome for making propaganda on behalf of one 'Chrestus'.

...
There is something very peculiar about these stories, which are immediately followed up by descriptions of additional tumults and Pilate's repression of what are obviously Messianic disturbances among the Samaritans. It is impossible to say what is going on, but at least in the Mundus and Fulvia stories, Josephus appears to substitute titillating trivia for more substantial turns of events. Additionally, the parody of Christian birth narratives about Jesus, represented by the Mundus and Paulina story, would be typical of Josephus and others of a similar frame of mind.

Throbert McGee writes:
Quote
I would cautiously argue that Josephus’s entertaining but utterly off-topic digression about the seduction of “Paulina” makes sense ONLY as a rhetorical bridge between the passage about Jesus and the subsequent passage about an unnamed Roman Jew who swindles a naive convert to Judaism out of a huge pile of money. Remove the “TF” on the grounds that it’s a complete forgery and the Paulina story has no reason for being there — Josephus could’ve gone right to the story about the dishonest Jew in Rome and its repercussions for the city’s Jewish community. Furthermore, Paulina is described as being a virtuous and faithful wife who is TRICKED into “accidental adultery” by a clever seducer who claims to be the Egyptian god Anubis, making love to her in a dream.

...the “Paulina” story IS ABOUT A CON-MAN WHO PRETENDS TO BE A GOD, and it comes RIGHT AFTER the disputed passage in which Josephus describes Jesus as the Messiah who Rose From the Dead. Far from being an obvious Christian forgery, the Testimonium is possibly deadpan sarcasm!
http://freethoughtnation.com/does-josephus-prove-a-historical-jesus

Karl Kautsky said that the connection was a longstanding observation by readers of the Antiquities:
Quote
Pious commentators early occupied themselves with this sequence, linking the adventure of Madame Paulina with Christ, and seeing in it a hidden sneer on the part of the malicious Jew Josephus at the virginity of the Virgin Mary and the credulity of her fiance Joseph, a sneer that to be sure would not go very well with the recognition of the miracles of Christ immediately preceding it.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1908/christ/ch06.htm

In the late fourth century, a writer using Hegessippus as a pseudonym rewrote the story of Paulina as a satire of the Christian gospel story. Albert Bell writes in his essay "Josephus the Satirist":
Quote
In [Book] II, 12.1 ["Hegesippus"] retells the sory of Paulina and Mundus as an example of the ludibrium typical of the Rome which killed Christ. .... Hegesippus then introduces the element of pregnancy, which is altogether lacking in Josephus: de se quoque et illa deum esse generandum persuadet mulieri. To the Christian audience for whom he was writing this must surely have suggested the Annunciation in Luke I. THe words used to describe Paulina's reaction... when compared to certain phrases in Luke's Gospel heighten this impression...
Bell suggests that as a result, Josephus' original writing of the Testamonium likely referred to Jesus' virgin birth in a derogatory way, and proposes:
Quote
If [in the story of Paulina], Josephus has just satirized the founder of Christianity, could not [Fulvia's story], in light of its context, be understood as satirizing the new sect's foremost propagator, Paul? ... The apostle's converts included large numbers of women, such as Lydia, his first convert in Europe... and Priscilla... Women are prominently mentioned in the salutations to the letters to Colossae and ROme. ... And of course his collection of funds for the Jerusalem Christians was a major aspect of his third missionary journey.
https://www.scribd.com/document/118004185/Josephus-the-Satirist-A-Clue-to-the-Original-Form-of-the-Testimonium-Flavianum

John Munter notes the connections between the two stories that follow the Testamonium:
Quote
The first story involves sex and the second one money but both describe a supposed con man hoodwinking a well-meaning and prominent woman in the religious contexts of both the Greek gods and the Jewish faith.  Both are very oddly placed in that during a discussion of events in Palestine the focus suddenly veers to Rome that includes a discussion of the Temple of Isis about characters and events that are otherwise unattested outside of Josephus...
http://www.themirroredbridalchamber.com/images/The_Samaritan_Jesus.pdf

Munter questions whether Decius Mundus and Paulina were real names of real people. Decius Mundus means something like Worldly God in Latin, and in the story he was playing the character of Anubis, a god of the dead. Paulina, on the other hand, is a feminine form of "Paul".

Another curiosity is that in the two stories that immediately follow the Testamonium, the female protagonist is married to a "Saturninus":
Quote
4... She[Paulina] was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character.

5... Whereupon Tiberius, who had been informed of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made about it, ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome
If these two stories are fictional, then why did Josephus decide to name their husbands "Saturninus"? One blog commentor proposed that "Saturn" is supposed to be a reference to Judaism (https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/4664). It seems to me that Loeb's footnote's idea, suggested by RS Rogers, that Paulina and Fulvia could be the same person and the husband Saturninus her husband in both stories, could be correct.

Peter Cresswell also sees the story of Paulina to be an allegory:
Quote
The unison of a god with a mortal woman is the Christian nativity theme even to the detail of the husband, having been told, feeling honoured at the prospect! The pretender, Decius Mundus, is based on Decius Mus, a mfamous, legendary Roman war hero. He was a soldier who in battle sacrificed himself in to appease the gods, thus dying for the benefit of the many – in the same way that Caiaphas speaks of Yeshua in John’s gospel. Like the figure of gospel creation, Jesus, Decius claims in the story to be a god and he makes public his resolution to die. Like Jesus/Yeshua, Decius appears on the third day (after two days). But his purpose was quite contrary to that of Jesus/Yeshua who proclaimed thereby his divinity. Decius’ objective was to tell Paulinus that he had been pretending to be Anubis; that he was not after all, a god. The outcome, as in the case of Yeshua, is crucifixion. But Decius escapes into exile, as indeed I have earlier suggested that Yeshua may have.

http://www.theinventionofjesus.com/josephus-and-saulpaul/

He adds:
Quote
In [both the story of Fulvia and that of Paulina,] the victim is a woman of high birth, betrayed by a priest or priests, and the husband knows the Emperor and reports the matter. Tiberias exacts punishments, including in both cases a sentence of banishment. To make quite sure the point is not lost, he calls the husband in each case by the same name, Saturnicus! So Paulina is Fulvia and Fulvia is Paulina, perhaps even Fulvia Paulina.

[Fulvia's story is] an almost exact précis of Paul’s position as described in the Acts of the Apostles and, as in Acts, Paul is on a mission, ostensibly to collect money for Jews in Jerusalem. Josephus maliciously repeats rumours that Paul had been using some of the money for himself, something that Paul himself appears to have been acutely aware of (Corinthians I, 9, 3-12).

The article "Josephus' Report on Jesus" in Collected Studies on Philo and Josephus makes an interesting observation showing the connection between the two women's stories: "it could be argued that these sections form one unity, since in his editorial remarks, Josephus claims that 18.65 and 18.80 introduce and conclude the story of Paulina, which clearly indicates that this particular story should be understood as part of the overarching tale of the Jews in Rome. The purpose of the Paulina story is to throw the Fulvia story into relief: In the Paulina story, a greater fraud results in a smaller punishment, whereas in the Fulvia story, a minor fraud results in a terrible and much larger punishment."

In Isis and Sarapis in the Roman World (pp. 85-86), Sarolta A. Takacs says that there was in real life a Paulina Fulvia married to a Saturninis, but she implies that enough details in the story are unrealistic that the story is probably made up:
Quote
The major problem however is the fusion of the two women who had different religious interests. Paulina was an adherent of the cult of Isis... Fulvia... can be thought of as a proselyte Jew. .... One is then left to wonder not only about her religious conversion [from Isis worship to Judaism] and persuasion, her judgment of character and naivete, but also the emperor's repeated willingness to intervene on behalf of the twice foolwed Paulina Fulvia and his sweeping punishments to avenge her. Josephus' colorful account... does not rely on the existence of a Paulina Fulvia but on the theme of moral disintegration that was in his opinion equally applicable to the Jewish and Roman state of affairs.

I find it relevant that the ancient Table of Contents mentions the protests against Pilate bringing the images of the emperor to Jerusalem (Chapter 3), as well as the failed Messianic-type Samaritan revolt (Chapter 4), and yet omits mention of the revolts against the aqueduct, as well as the stories of Jesus, Paulina, and Fulvia. But this doesn't necessarily mean that those stories were absent in Josephus' original text.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 12:02:49 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #175 on: February 15, 2018, 12:25:41 AM »
What does Decius Mundus mean in Latin?
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #176 on: February 15, 2018, 12:41:22 AM »
I think Decius means "the tenth son," doesn't it? "Sixtus, Septimus, Octavius..."

I'm a bit uncomfortable with attempts to find a divine cause for this or that destruction based on Luke 13:1-5.

The points about the Paulina and Jesus passages are interesting, though. The only counterargument I can think of right now is that Josephus might not have cared that much about early Christians to put so much effort into learning about their beliefs in order to make an elaborate parody. But then again, the presence of the Testimonium does make the Paulina story make more sense, as your links point out.

Does this shake your confidence any in your belief that Josephus was a closet Christian?

Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #177 on: February 15, 2018, 01:28:00 AM »
Does this shake your confidence any in your belief that Josephus was a closet Christian?
It is hard for me to know what to make of all this.
The story of Paulina I believe is an allusion to Jesus' story with the virgin birth and 3rd day resurrection. But it is apparently an antithetical one, whereby the Jews had the divine, virgin-born, crucified, risen Messiah who was rejected by the high priests and betrayed by Judas; and in contrast Rome had a pretend Egyptian "god" who had real sex with a chaste woman and was supported by the priests and used a Judas-like figure to achieve his ends, revealing his fraud on the third day, after which he escaped alive and the priests and Judas-like figure were crucified. This would seem to imply that the Christian story is good and authentic.

The story of Fulvia sounds like it could be a parody of Paul's mission work in Rome, but Tacitus says that the expulsion occurred in c. 19 AD, which must mean that the story wasn't directly referring to Paul's missionizing. Also, there could be an antithetical device used: Whereas Paul was subordinate to three leaders, gathered money for the Jerusalem Church (and its three leaders) and sent the money along, the Jewish proselytizer had three subordinates, had gathered money for the temple and stolen it.

I also see a chiastic structure in Chapter 3.
Pilate's abusive actions in Judea (two sections)
Jesus' story
The false religious figures in Rome (two sections).

There seems to be major chiastic mirroring between the stories of Pilate and the religious figures in Rome. Pilate failed to bring the images and aqueduct, but Decius succeeded in impersonating Anubis and the Jewish thief succeeded in taking the money. Yet Pilate succeeded in his conquests over Judea politically as a result despite his failure, and Decius and the thieves ultimately failed because they were caught in their fraud. Despite being subject to Rome in the first two stories, the Jews succeeded in keeping out the images from Jerusalem and losing temple money to the aqueduct in Jerusalem. And the last two stories in the chiasm narrate the destruction of a temple in Rome and the banishment of the Jews from Rome.

Josephus seems to be casting a moral lesson as a kind of puzzle. In the story of Jesus, Jesus failed in his mission as the Messiah because he was crucified, yet he succeeded because of his resurrection and spreading of his message by his followers. In contrast to the outcomes in Chapters sections 1-2, 4-5, the Christian missionaries were sent to Rome, the new Christian "temple" (the Church) was built, Paul's money was sent to the Christian "temple" (Church) in Jerusalem, and the divine image of the Christian "emperor"(Jesus) came to the apostles.

It seems like Josephus has some kind of major secret focus on Jesus that he would go to so much length to write Chapter 3 in this chiastic way.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #178 on: February 21, 2018, 03:59:50 PM »
In Book 18, Josephus describes John the Baptist's baptism this way:
Quote
...he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behaviour.
How does this compare with the christian understanding of Christian baptism?

Does Christianity follow this model: the person repents of their sins, accepts Christ's sacrifice, receives the Holy Spirit and Grace, and then receives "water baptism", which is only "seals" those processes?

Josephus gives this explanation for Antonia's reputation of virtue:
Quote
Now Antonia was highly esteemed by Tiberias both because, as the wife of his brother Drusus, she was related to him, and because she was a virtuous and chaste woman. For despite her youth she remained steadfast in her widowhood and refused to marry again although the emperor urged her to do so. She thus kept her life free from reproach.
How does refusing to remarry despite the emperor's request show virtue and keeping one's "life free from reproach"?

Josephus writes of Agrippa's thirst:
Quote
It was also very hot weather, and they had but little wine to their meal, so that he was very thirsty; he was also in a sort of agony, and took this treatment of him heinously
How does lack of wine make one thirsty? Doesn't wine and alcohol actually induce thirst?

Josephus makes this comment about Agrippa and the "power of fortune":
Quote
So, upon the emperor's permission, he came into his own country, and appeared to them all unexpectedly as asking, and thereby demonstrated to the men that saw him the power of fortune, when they compared his former poverty with his present happy affluence; so some called him a happy man, and others could not well believe that things were so much changed with him for the better.
My question is: How can fortune have "power"? Isn't fortune or destiny in effect the path of history and events from the past into the future? Supposing that the future and past are already set in place, thus creating destiny, then how does destiny have power? It seems to just be the status and state of affairs in the future. The state of affairs would just exist like the ocean exists or rocks exist. It would just be the way that things are, and not itself a "power".
Or does this mean that human will, the soul, the state of affairs, and destiny are different "forces" that can act on each other?

Josephus tells a story of how the Babylonian Jewish leader Anilaeus took a Parthian wife who brought idols into her home: "she took along the ancestral images of the gods belonging to her husband and to herself - for it is the custom among all the people in that country to have objects of worship in their house and to take them along when going abroad."
Ralph Marcus comments: "The story is reminiscient ... of the account of Rachel and Laban's images (Gen 31. 19)". The Biblical verse says: "And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's."
It's remarkable to hear about the Hebrews having idolatry, albeit before Moses' time.

In Book 19, Josephus tells how, on the death of the emperor Gaius Caligula, the Senate tried to take power and return to a Republic as a form of rule. The senator Sentius gave a speech praising the virtues of freedom, and they remarked with amazement that this was happening on the centennial of their earlier loss of liberty:
Quote
And this was the purport of Sentius's oration, (9) which was received with pleasure by the senators, and by as many of the equestrian order as were present. And now one Trebellius Maximus rose up hastily, and took off Sentius's finger a ring, which had a stone, with the image of Caius engraven upon it, and which, in his zeal in speaking, and his earnestness in doing what he was about, as it was supposed, he had forgotten to take off himself. This sculpture was broken immediately. But as it was now far in the night, Cherea demanded of the consuls the watchword, who gave him this word, Liberty. These facts were the subjects of admiration to themselves, and almost incredible; for it was a hundred years since the democracy had been laid aside, when this giving the watchword returned to the consuls; for before the city was subject to tyrants, they were the commanders of the soldiers. But when Cherea had received that watchword, he delivered it to those who were on the senate's side, which were four regiments, who esteemed the government without emperors to be preferable to tyranny. So these went away with their tribunes. The people also now departed very joyful, full of hope and of courage, as having recovered their former democracy, and were no longer under an emperor; and Cherea was in very great esteem with them.

WHISTON'S FOOTNOTE
Hence we learn that, in the opinion of Saturninus, the sovereign authority of the consuls and senate had been taken away just a hundred years before the death of Caius, A.D. 41, or in the sixtieth year before the Christian saga, when the first triumvirate began under Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.
If the math was correct calulating the centennial, then is this a random coincidence or some kind of paranormal synchronicity?

Later in Book 19, the new emperor, Claudius, gives an order allowing the Jews to practice their customs. But it adds a part about the Jews permitting pagan religions:
Quote
WHISTON's TRANSLATION of Claudius' words:
"It will therefore be fit to permit the Jews, who are in all the world under us, to keep their ancient customs without being hindered so to do. And I do charge them also to use this my kindness to them with moderation, and not to show a contempt of the superstitious observances of other nations, but to keep their own laws only."

LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
"I enjoin upon them also by these presents to avail themselves of this kindness in a more reasonable spirit, and not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples but to keep their own laws."
What specifically did Claudius expect the Jews to do in relation to pagan deities?

When Agrippa returned to Judea, he performed sacrifices and interacted with the Nazirites:
Quote
WHISTON's TRANSLATION:

LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
Accordingly, he also arranged for a very considerable number of Nazirites to be shorn.

LOEB'S FOOTNOTE
Lit. Shaven. It is hardly likely... that Agrippa who was scrupulously observant of the Jewish religion should have ordered the Nazirites to violate their vow of not cutting their hair (Num. 6:5). ... It seems best, therefore to assume that Agrippa had shouldered the expenses for the offerings of poor Nazirites. The same expression, le-haleah, to shave, is found several times in the Mishnah, Nazir ii 5 and 6 in the sense of "to bring the offerings of a Nazirite." The phrase is similarly to be interpreted in Acts 21 24.
It's interesting because of the question of the relationship of the Nazirites to "Nazareth" and to the Christians being called "Nazarenes". I read that Paul was performing a Nazirite sacrifice in Jerusalem. Acts 21 says:
21. But they are under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs. 22. What then should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23. Therefore do what we advise you. There are four men with us who have taken a vow. 24. Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that there is no truth to these rumors about you, but that you also live in obedience to the Law. 25. As for the Gentile believers, we have written them our decision that they must abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.

Numbers 6:18 has these instructions: "The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings."


« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 04:01:33 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #179 on: February 21, 2018, 09:11:55 PM »
In Book 18, Josephus describes John the Baptist's baptism this way:
Quote
...he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behaviour.
How does this compare with the christian understanding of Christian baptism?

Does Christianity follow this model: the person repents of their sins, accepts Christ's sacrifice, receives the Holy Spirit and Grace, and then receives "water baptism", which is only "seals" those processes?

In the NT, John's baptism seems to have been a bit different from Christ's.

But either way, as I understand it, in Orthodoxy it's not like the water is miraculous in and of itself. The forgiveness of God has already happened at that moment and the repentance and faith of the person is necessary (in infant baptism, the faith of the godparents is a voucher of sorts. I've been told a couple of times on here that Orthodoxy lacks Luther's idea of "infant faith," which kind of disappoints me, to be honest, but oh well). It's a little tricky, but I'm not sure that Josephus's explanation of it is incompatible with the Orthodox understanding.

Josephus gives this explanation for Antonia's reputation of virtue:
Quote
Now Antonia was highly esteemed by Tiberias both because, as the wife of his brother Drusus, she was related to him, and because she was a virtuous and chaste woman. For despite her youth she remained steadfast in her widowhood and refused to marry again although the emperor urged her to do so. She thus kept her life free from reproach.
How does refusing to remarry despite the emperor's request show virtue and keeping one's "life free from reproach"?

My guess is that either the "urging" was really some kind of coercion (in which case I suppose that she was being virtuous in resisting a marriage she didn't want) or Josephus is just being a super-prude about widows remarrying.

Josephus writes of Agrippa's thirst:
Quote
It was also very hot weather, and they had but little wine to their meal, so that he was very thirsty; he was also in a sort of agony, and took this treatment of him heinously
How does lack of wine make one thirsty? Doesn't wine and alcohol actually induce thirst?

Really bad water (like at most points in history) and wine was all they had? It's still better than drinking nothing.

Josephus makes this comment about Agrippa and the "power of fortune":
Quote
So, upon the emperor's permission, he came into his own country, and appeared to them all unexpectedly as asking, and thereby demonstrated to the men that saw him the power of fortune, when they compared his former poverty with his present happy affluence; so some called him a happy man, and others could not well believe that things were so much changed with him for the better.
My question is: How can fortune have "power"? Isn't fortune or destiny in effect the path of history and events from the past into the future? Supposing that the future and past are already set in place, thus creating destiny, then how does destiny have power? It seems to just be the status and state of affairs in the future. The state of affairs would just exist like the ocean exists or rocks exist. It would just be the way that things are, and not itself a "power".
Or does this mean that human will, the soul, the state of affairs, and destiny are different "forces" that can act on each other?

You're overthinking it. "Power of fortune" is just another way of saying "the favor of God(s/the Fates)." They concluded that Agrippa could only have risen from poverty like that if he had divine favor.

In Book 19, Josephus tells how, on the death of the emperor Gaius Caligula, the Senate tried to take power and return to a Republic as a form of rule. The senator Sentius gave a speech praising the virtues of freedom, and they remarked with amazement that this was happening on the centennial of their earlier loss of liberty:
Quote
And this was the purport of Sentius's oration, (9) which was received with pleasure by the senators, and by as many of the equestrian order as were present. And now one Trebellius Maximus rose up hastily, and took off Sentius's finger a ring, which had a stone, with the image of Caius engraven upon it, and which, in his zeal in speaking, and his earnestness in doing what he was about, as it was supposed, he had forgotten to take off himself. This sculpture was broken immediately. But as it was now far in the night, Cherea demanded of the consuls the watchword, who gave him this word, Liberty. These facts were the subjects of admiration to themselves, and almost incredible; for it was a hundred years since the democracy had been laid aside, when this giving the watchword returned to the consuls; for before the city was subject to tyrants, they were the commanders of the soldiers. But when Cherea had received that watchword, he delivered it to those who were on the senate's side, which were four regiments, who esteemed the government without emperors to be preferable to tyranny. So these went away with their tribunes. The people also now departed very joyful, full of hope and of courage, as having recovered their former democracy, and were no longer under an emperor; and Cherea was in very great esteem with them.

WHISTON'S FOOTNOTE
Hence we learn that, in the opinion of Saturninus, the sovereign authority of the consuls and senate had been taken away just a hundred years before the death of Caius, A.D. 41, or in the sixtieth year before the Christian saga, when the first triumvirate began under Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.
If the math was correct calulating the centennial, then is this a random coincidence or some kind of paranormal synchronicity?

Not sure there's really a difference between the two. But then again, the idea of paranormal synchronicity is something I've never understood that well.

Later in Book 19, the new emperor, Claudius, gives an order allowing the Jews to practice their customs. But it adds a part about the Jews permitting pagan religions:
Quote
WHISTON's TRANSLATION of Claudius' words:
"It will therefore be fit to permit the Jews, who are in all the world under us, to keep their ancient customs without being hindered so to do. And I do charge them also to use this my kindness to them with moderation, and not to show a contempt of the superstitious observances of other nations, but to keep their own laws only."

LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
"I enjoin upon them also by these presents to avail themselves of this kindness in a more reasonable spirit, and not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples but to keep their own laws."
What specifically did Claudius expect the Jews to do in relation to pagan deities?

Probably to not go about destroying idols or trying to force pagans to adopt Judaism (not because Claudius was some forerunner of religious freedom, but because he was trying to keep the peace in the region).
« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 09:12:54 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.