Twitter Tales: Did Josephus Mention the Biblical James, the “brother of Jesus”?

A famous passage from Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” (not the Testamonium Flavianum, which was definitely the result of Christian editing), is said to be referring to James, the brother of Jesus, who was called “Christ”. But is it a foregone conclusion that Josephus was indeed referring to THE James and Jesus of the Bible? The reality is that there is another, more likely, explanation.

6 thoughts on “Twitter Tales: Did Josephus Mention the Biblical James, the “brother of Jesus”?

  1. stewjo004

    @ QB

    Maaaaaaan he doesn’t even have the slightest clue what he’s talking about. To begin the passage about James has NOTHING to do with any proof of crucifixion:

    “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, [or, some of his companions]; 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 [Agrippa], 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, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent.[24] 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.”

    So how does that disprove the Quran lol?

    Next, testimonium is obviously an interpolation and more than likely either:

    A. Made by Eusebius on purpose


    B. One of Eusebius’s footnotes that made its way into the text by later scribes

    As it matches his writing style almost verbatim as noted by Ken Olson of Harvard.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. stewjo004

      @ QB
      Man, I wish I had a twitter sometimes to respond to Rob the Arabic version as noted by Alice Wheely is a translation of Theophilus of Edessa’s version which used Eusebius’s version so not independent.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “The Arabic version as noted by Alice Wheely is a translation of Theophilus of Edessa’s version which used Eusebius’s version so not independent.”

      Considering that it traces to Eusebius is enough reason to doubt.

      But a side note that I’d like to post here, afaik Whealey argues that even if it is not independent it would still make their case stronger about Eusebius really quoting Josephus coz it would be more probable that Josephus used those wordings (“he was believed to be”) and the ​”he was christ” versions of Eusebius are the ​interpolations. All we have on the table from her as well as from all academics who have spoken into the matter are speculations and assumptions btw, that’s all we have to work with.

      Let’s flip it,

      Eusebius’ version did have “he was Christ”, but considering that any Christian will find it preposterous that a Jew would say something like this it’s possible some scribe made a “correction” (what he thought of) and this started a line of texts which circulated for a while which Jerome and Theophilus ended up using and Agapius utilizing Theophilus in turn. Simple and very probable.

      One more thing their apologists needs to consider, whether “he was” or “he was believed to be” being implied is only a small portion of the TF,

      The TF has a big problem of grammatical inconsistency compared to Josephus’ overall style of writing…who’s gonna solve that?

      “The finite aorists report in a broad scale the past events concerning Jesus and his followers. That is, unlike the event reporting in the other Pontius Pilate episodes, we are not told in detail what Jesus did. Jesus is throughout a passive participant rather than anactive agent. The aorist verbs that are used to describe Jesus reflect this passivity:

      epēgageto ​
      [“drew over to him”]

      is a mediopassive (middle voice) verb, and

      ephanē ​

      is passive and also nonvolitional; that is, a supernatural force is at least complicit in Jesus’s reappearance. The other two aorists concern not Jesus but his
      followers, and, curiously, both are in the negative:

      ouk epausanto ​and

      ouk epelipe

      We have seen that aorist verbs typically report single prominent actions associated with the protagonist of the story. They play a crucial role in the event structure of the narrative,and while they cannot alone support the story line, they work to anchor clusters of otherkinds of verbs to create episodes. This could hardly be said of the aorists in the Testimonium, however.
      The aorists here seem to belong in a different genre altogether, one which argues and defends rather than reports.

      The use of the negative in two of the four aorists suggests something else. Negatives point implicitly to the corresponding affirmative. They belong in the contexts of denial,of response to a challenge. They suggest here that the author is contradicting unheard voices that question the truth of the chronicle
      There is an element of protest in the voice of the author of the Testimonium that is impossible to attribute to Josephus the sober historian: “There must be some truth in all this, because his followers haven’t gone away, in fact they haven’t stopped worshipping him.”

      More in there:

      So not only we’re witnessing a war of speculations of how the Eusebian copy originally was, we have a bigger issue in terms of grammatical flow.

      Muslims should grab their popcorn meanwhile

      Liked by 1 person

      1. stewjo004

        @ Asura

        Personally, I don’t think Eusebius made a “pious forgery” I favor it’s one of his footnotes that later scribes mistakenly put into the text.

        As for the second part about “being an original” yeah not really imo.

        A. Wheely proves it is not independent. It’s a branch off from the 10th century by way of Theophilus:

        B. Pines who discovered the thing even says the alterations are scribal errors and translations:

        “Agapius’ Arabic text of the Testimonium is in all probability translated from a Syriac version of the Greek original. It is highly probable that in the course of these translations, and also as a result of scribal errors, some alterations, not due to a deliberate attempt at distortion, were introduced into the text.”

        C. The grammar even without their arbitrary “might be interpolations we have no way of objectively determining that” still matches Eusebius’s other writings

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob said

    “do not consider the TF as a *complete* forgery, ~just~ interpolated; they consider the core correct, with some obvious additions.
    This is believed bc we have an Arabic version that closely matches the original”

    A Muslim brother says

    “Testimonium Flacianum Has lot of changes in itself sure not all of it, but many historians belive that Eusebios made some little changes to it.”

    That’s a big problem we have people don’t question why some particular scholar says so.

    Ehrman has a long history of some really bs arguments against mythicists, often arguing against them without even considering or looking at their arguments, his past spat with Richard Carrier is a famous example in the community…that smells close mindedness and agenda but that’s another topic but that alone is enough reason to question everything he says pertaining to Josephus and infact I’m not even surprised out of all possible hypotheses he chose a hypothesis closer in line with what he believes and *what his books say*.

    As for the Muslim brother’s statement about the TF, I’d argue the whole thing is an interpolation as the fact remains that the ***whole passage*** doesn’t follow the usual grammatical flow, if it was orginally there would at least be some sign on consistency even to a meagre degree but there’s none…anyone saying (espcially scholars) that the core was there in Josephus is pure speculation and based on weak evidence as I’ve already shown

    Another point which people don’t consider is that outside the chain of Jerome and Theophilus we have a greater number of other lines of texts and translations giving weight to the probability that Eusebius did actually write “he was”…so what about this…

    Like come on we can flip things all day long

    Liked by 2 people

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