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Josephus was a Christian Hebrew priest and historian whose writings have titles such as Judean Wars, Antiquities of Judeans, and Against Apion. In Judean Wars, Josephus presents his account of what happened during First Judean Roman War (66-70 AD).
Judean is often mistranslated as Jew or anything related to a Jew.
Josephus wrote Judean Wars first in the language of his country which was Aramaic and afterwards translated his work into Greek for Greeks and Romans.
Judean Wars (Book 1, Preface, Paragraph 1)- "I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians. Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work]."
Judean Wars (Book 1 Preface, Paragraph 2) - "I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it; but to suffer those Greeks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by my means, knew accurately both whence the war begun, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended."
H.St.J. Thackeray (who translated Josephus' Judean Wars from Greek into English) also point out this - "We learn from the proem that the Greek text was not the first draft of the work. It had been preceded by a narrative written in Aramaic and addressed to "the barbarians in the interior", who are more precisely defined lower down as the natives of Parthia, Babylonia, and Arabia, the Jewish dispersion in Mesopotamia, and the inhabitants of Adiabene, a principality of which the reigning house, as was proudly remembered, were converts to Judaism (B. i, 3, 6). Of this Aramaic work the Greek is described as a "version" made for the benefit of the subjects of the Roman Empire, i.e. the Graeco-Roman world at large.
The information about Josephus' Antiquities of Judeans and the tamperings in Antiquities of Judeans can be read here:.
Difference between Judean Wars (Aramaic version) and Judean Wars (Greek version)
As mentioned above, Josephus' Judean Wars was first written in Aramaic and then translated to Greek for the benefit of Greeks and Romans.
But it is believed that the current surviving Greek versions of Josephus' Judean Wars is not written by Josephus.
This is because there are huge amount of contradictions between the surviving Aramaic version of Josephus' Judean Wars Book Six and Greek version of Judean Wars Book Six. Many of the differences can be read here:.
The author of Judean Wars in Greek is like a totally different person from the author of Judean Wars in Aramaic since they share two different information on several occasions.
One theory for this disagreement is that it is possible that several portions of Josephus' Greek manuscript of Judean Wars might have been damaged and the later scribes (inexperienced in Aramaic) had to translate from Josephus' Aramaic version of Judean Wars into Greek in order to restore the damaged portions of Josephus' Greek version of Judean Wars which resulted in severe mistranslations and also script tamperings.
Josephus on Jesus Christ
Josephus does discuss about Jesus Christ in his work "Antiquities of Judeans."
Antiquities of Judeans 18:63 (Below - Translation from Greek).
"About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly. He won over many Judeans and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him, and the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day."
Jesus winning over many of the Greeks over in his own time seems to contradict with Josephus' testimony (in Antiquities of Judeans XX XI) about Greek not being the spoken language of first Israel and the extreme rarity in terms of a Judean knowing Greek in first century AD. Although, it is mentioned in John 12:20 that some Greeks came up to worship at the fest and to see Christ.
Josephus' testimony on Jesus is mentioned in Syriac (a.k.a Aramaic) by Michael the Syrian, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, 1166-1199 which is different from Greek Version. Here (below) is the Syrian version of the Testimonium which Michael the Syrian, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, 1166-1199, reproduces in his Syriac Chronicle from 1173:
“The writer Josephus also says in his work on the institutions of the Judeans: ’In these times there was a wise man named Jesus, if it is fitting for us to call him a man. For he was a worker of glorious deeds and a teacher of truth. Many from among the Judeans and the nations became his disciples. He was thought to be the Messiah. But not according to the testimony of the principal [men] of [our] nation. Because of this, Pilate condemned him to the cross and he died. For those who had loved him did not cease to love him. He appeared to them alive after three days. For the prophets of God had spoken with regard to him of such marvellous things [as these]. And the people of the Christians, named after him, have not disappeared till [this] day.” (Michael the Syrian, Chronicle 10:20.
Instead of Greeks, it says "Nations" and "He was the Messiah" is "He was thought to be the Messiah." Many from the nations did come to see Jesus for healing which is mentioned in Matthew 4:24-25 and Mark 3:7-8.
Syrian version also agrees with Josephus' testimony (Antiquities of Judeans Book XX XI) about Greek not being the spoken language of first century Israel and the extreme rarity in terms of a Judean knowing Greek since there are no Greeks mentioned in Syrian version of Josephus' testimony on Jesus.
Josephus does mention about Jesus Christ one more time in Antiquities of Judeans 20:9:1 (below translation from Greek).
"And now Caesar, upon hearing of the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. ... But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Judeans, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus ... Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest."
James, the brother of Jesus Christ (and also a disciple of Jesus Christ) is mentioned as Lord's brother in Galatians 1:18-19.
Josephus on Old Testament Canon
In first century, Josephus mentions about Old Testament Canon in his work "Against Apion."
Against Apion, Book 1, Paragraph 8:
"For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them."
Josephus' classification of Old Testament Canon (the laws of Moses, Prophets, and Psalms) is in agreement with Luke 24:44.
Luke 24:44 (NIV) - "He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
This type of classification can also be seen in Acts 13:15 where the law and the prophets are read. Acts 13:15 (NIV) - "After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak."
More information about Old Testament Canon can be read here:.
Josephus' Timeline of Ancient History
Josephus' timeline of ancient history (From Priest Melchizedek to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD) can be read here:.
The falsification of Nero's life -- Josephus on the falsification of Nero's life
- JOSEPHUS WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY H. ST. J. THACKERAY, M.A, IN NINE VOLUMES, II THE JEWISH WAR, BOOKS I-III, INTRODUCTION, PAGE IX
- See: Antiquities_of_Judeans
- See: Josephus'_Judean_Wars
- See: Language_of_Jesus
- The translation from Syriac is made by Shlomo Pines. (Shlomo Pines, An Arabic version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its implications, 1971, p. 26)