The Josephus Myth

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Secret Alias
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The Josephus Myth

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:32 pm

There are uncanny parallels between the Josephus story and the fable of Joseph the Patriarch https://books.google.com/books?id=l2325 ... 22&f=false - much stronger than anything ever demonstrated about Jesus. Why should we believe the main character in Jewish War and Life is a real person or that the main narrative about his capture and miraculous redemption isn't complete fiction? Aren't the literary parallels and borrowings for Josephus more compelling than any gospel parallels?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

maryhelena
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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by maryhelena » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:41 am

Well now....I did start a thread ''Was Josephus a historical person?'' on FRDB a few years ago. Unfortunately I can't provide a link as Peter's FRDB archive does not seem to be working.
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Blood
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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by Blood » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:53 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:32 pm
There are uncanny parallels between the Josephus story and the fable of Joseph the Patriarch https://books.google.com/books?id=l2325 ... 22&f=false - much stronger than anything ever demonstrated about Jesus. Why should we believe the main character in Jewish War and Life is a real person or that the main narrative about his capture and miraculous redemption isn't complete fiction? Aren't the literary parallels and borrowings for Josephus more compelling than any gospel parallels?
Good question; no easy answers. There is a lot of disingenuousness about Josephus, like how he pretends to have just learned how to write Greek, but in Contra Apion is thoroughly familiar with a broad range of Greek-language texts which betrays decades of immersion in Greek. Either the author is lying, or somebody else wrote the book, and I don't know the motivation in either case.

Perhaps he was an L. Ron Hubbard type: always grossly exaggerating or inventing details about his life in a self-aggrandizing manner.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

StephenGoranson
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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by StephenGoranson » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:08 am

Contra Apion may have been written decades after War.

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DCHindley
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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by DCHindley » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:59 am

Blood wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:53 am
There is a lot of disingenuousness about Josephus, like how he pretends to have just learned how to write Greek, but in Contra Apion is thoroughly familiar with a broad range of Greek-language texts which betrays decades of immersion in Greek. Either the author is lying, or somebody else wrote the book, and I don't know the motivation in either case.

Perhaps he was an L. Ron Hubbard type: always grossly exaggerating or inventing details about his life in a self-aggrandizing manner.
As is generally known here, in War Josephus apologizes for having to make use of professional scribes trained in Attic Greek, by way of saying that he was not used to the Greek language. War is actually written in good classical style Greek, I think I have read somewhere.

I think that the professional scribes that were made available to Josephus by Vespasian were there to spin things to conform to Roman propaganda goals. Josephus was told to sign off on the finished product, maybe allowing him to make corrections of fact (but not in matters of propaganda), but he dared not say "no" to the emperor who saved his life.

I've recently begun to wonder whether part of the agenda of the professional Greek scribes who did the final editing of War was to make special effort to emphasize that Judeans of that region, including an aristocrat like Josephus, were unsophisticated barbarians (which they were, from a Roman perspective). J's Antiquities and Life and Against Apion were his writings alone, which are not close to the quality of the War but not too bad Koine Greek (so I understand).

That may suggest a working familiarity with Koine Greek, but we also have to acknowledge that (as Stephen Goranson has already noted) they were written at least 20 years after the end of the Judean rebellion. Most all of that time would have been spent in Rome. As for what he may have read in Koine Greek while resident at Jerusalem, there were several Greek works written by Judeans of the diaspora available, even the Lxx translation of the Law and various Greek translations of the Prophets and Writings like Daniel. Then there was the matter of communicating with the Roman Prefect and his staff, with the common language being Greek.

That being said, I don't recall having read about Josephus making many, if any, quotations or clear allusions to classical Greek literature. He might have read the city newsletter with its gossip about things going on (Mundus & Paulina, forced group expulsions, etc.) but I can't imagine he was reading Aristophanes' Clouds.

DCH

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Secret Alias
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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:01 am

But beyond this the biographical narrative of Joseph the Galilean are obviously and deliberately stolen from Joseph the Patriarch. That's bizarre and difficult to explain.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Josephus Myth

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:04 am

I don't think so.

Josephus did midrash about himself.

The historicists say that also Jesus did midrash about himself.

But the latter is an impossibility, since Josephus did midrash about himself in a book about the his life and after the facts of that life.

While in the case of Jesus, we should believe that he was going in advance to make the facts of the his life a midrash of the OT. It is clearly impossible. While it is always possible, á la Theudas, an imitation in advance of at least one single fact of the OT. Surely not of a lot.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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