Jesus son of Saphat in Josephus and the Jesus of the gospels: one and the same person

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FransJVermeiren
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Jesus son of Saphat in Josephus and the Jesus of the gospels: one and the same person

Post by FransJVermeiren » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:49 am

The core of my theory on the origins of Christianity is that Jesus was active during the war of the Jews against the Romans, 40 years later than what the gospels are telling. The crucial event which transformed the messianist Jesus into the awaited messiah was his survival of his crucifixion in the very last days of the war.

An interesting side effect of my theory is that much more (and much more down-to-earth) extra-biblical information on Jesus is available than ever thought, because the Jesus of the gospels has been mentioned quite circumstantially by Josephus, in his Life as well as in The Jewish War, under his full name Jesus son of Saphat (or Sapphias).
At first sight the differences between these two figures are unbridgeable (for example ‘peaceful’ against ‘belligerent’), but at closer inspection there are numerous similarities between them, which in my opinion justify their identification as one and the same person.

Below I put next to each other passages from Josephus and gospel fragments for different aspects of Jesus’ personality or activity. These gospel fragments (for which I did not pursue completeness) only provide subtle vestiges of the real circumstances of Jesus’ activity, as one of the main objectives of the gospel writers has been to obfuscate precisely these war circumstances.

Jesus is a priest
In Life 134-135 Josephus describes Jesus’ conduct at a meeting in Tiberias in the months during which the Galileans organized their defense against the reconquering Romans: With a copy of the laws of Moses in his hands, he [Jesus son of Saphat] now stepped forward and said: “If you cannot, for your own sakes, detest Josephus, fix your eyes on your country’s laws, which your commander-in-chief intended to betray, and for their sakes hate the crime and punish the audacious criminal.”
Jesus is described with a Torah scroll in his hand, and also his argumentation is based on the Torah (‘your country’s laws’). This is clearly the behavior of a priest.
From the New Testament as well it is clear that Jesus is a priest. On several occasions Jesus plays a prominent role in the synagogue, for example in Mark 1:39, 3:1, 6:2; Luke 4:15-22, 6:6.

Jesus is the leader of the party of the sailors
In Life 66 Josephus describes his plan to demolish the palace of Herod Antipas in Tiberias: We were, however, anticipated in our task by Jesus son of Sapphias, the ringleader, as already stated, of the sailors and destitute class.
For this aspect the link with the New Testament is conspicuous. It is obvious on several occasions that Jesus is the leader of the fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. He recruits his closest followers amongst them, and several stories (in all 4 gospels) depict Jesus as a valiant, charismatic leader on the lake: Matthew 14:22-32, Mark4:35-41; Mark 6:45-52, Luke 8:22-25; John 6:16-21.

Jesus is the leader of the destitute class
Besides the sailors Life verse 66 mentions Jesus also as the leader of the destitute class, the poor (the Dutch translation by Meijer and Wes gives ‘de armen’, ‘the poor’ instead of ‘destitute class’).
From the gospels it is also clear that Jesus is the advocate of the poor. Just one example (Luke 6:20): “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Jesus blesses the poor as he is their leader and they are his adherents.

Jesus is a messianist
Life 35 discusses one of the three political parties in Tiberias: The second faction, composed of the most insignificant persons, was bent on war. From the context it becomes clear that these ‘most insignificant persons’ and the ‘destitute class’ of verse 66 are one and the same party. This means that Jesus is the leader of the party that is bent on war. As the war against the Romans can safely be called the Great Messianic War, Jesus comes forward from this verse as a convinced messianist, a revolutionary who wants to fight to throw out the Romans and for the ideal of an independent Jewish state lead by their messiah.
We also see Jesus as a messianist in the gospels, although an important objective of these writings is to depict Jesus not as a messianist but as the messiah himself. I refer to one pericope, Luke 4:16-22, which is traditionally interpreted as messianic in the sense that Jesus posits himself as the messiah. This is not the case, however. Jesus reads a messianic text from Isaiah and then says: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus does not say in this sentence that he is the messiah, but that the longed-for messianic age is dawning.

Jesus is active at the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee
In Josephus Jesus is the leader of Tiberias, more specifically the leader of the Jewish inhabitants of Tiberias, as Tiberias was a city with a mixed Syrian (Hellenistic) and Jewish population.
In the gospels Jesus is active in exactly the same region.

Jesus is a city man
Although the rural Nazareth is (on dubious grounds) traditionally considered to be Jesus’ birth place, it is clear that during his active career he is at home in Capernaum, a city at the ‘Jewish’ side of the Sea of Galilee like Tiberias.
As Tiberias is hardly mentioned in the gospels (not mentioned at all in the synoptic gospels) one can wonder if Capernaum is not an encoded name for Tiberias.

Jesus is a revolutionary agitator
Josephus, Life 134: The principal instigator of the mob was Jesus, son of Sapphias, at that time the leader of Tiberias, a knave with an instinct for introducing disorder into grave matters, and unrivalled in fomenting sedition and revolution.
In the gospels Jesus is shown as an agitator in Mark 5:1-20, the story of the hostile raid on the herdsmen of the Gadara region, although this hostile aspect is partially camouflaged by the storyline of the demoniac. The herdsmen flee in verse 14 and tell their local fellows about the hostile action of the Galilean Jews. Verse 17 shows this hostility best: And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.
A second example is the story of the cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15-19 and parallels).

Jesus is an ethnic leader in a civil war context
Life 67 goes as follows: Jesus and his followers then massacred all the Greek residents in Tiberias and any others who, before the outbreak of hostilities, had been their enemies.
In the gospels Jesus' raid in the territory of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-20) is an ethnic raid, as Gadara was part of the Hellenistic Decapolis, a region with a Hellenistic-Syrian majority.
In my opinion there is also another encoded story in the gospels that depicts an element of this ethnic civil war in Tiberias: the story of the unclean spirit in Mark 1:21-28. Yhis pericope describes the lynching of an opponent of Jesus (and his Jewish war party) in the synagogue, most probably an ethnic opponent. See my thread ‘A murderous civil war event in the synagogue of Tiberias?’ viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3644&p=78367&hilit= ... ent#p78367

Jesus is a military commander
Josephus clearly depicts Jesus as a military leader in War III:450-452 and 467-468. Verse 450 describes the surprise attack of the defenders of Tiberias on a Roman peace embassy under the decurion Valerianus: But before any parley had taken place, the leading rebels sallied out against him with arms to meet him [Valerianus], headed by a certain Jesus son of Saphat, the leader of this band of brigands.
And verse 467, when the rebels have moved to the neighboring city of Tarichaeae: While the Romans were entrenching their camp, Jesus and his supporters, undeterred by the strength and perfect discipline of the enemy, made a sortie, and at the first onset scattered the workmen and tore down a short length of the wall.
It is obvious that Jesus is not depicted overtly as a military figure in the gospels. However, the 5000 men of the feeding are soldiers, and it is Jesus who leads them in prayer (as a priestly and military leader at the same time).
The phrases ‘I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ from Mt 10:34 and ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth’ from Luke 12:49 point in the same direction. A more accurate title for the pericope The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 14:25-33) would be The Cost of Being a Revolutionary Soldier. This passage is a war fragment through and through. Matthew 14:34-36 is an encoded story of Jesus recruiting revolutionary soldiers. See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4396&p=89913&hilit= ... %22#p89913

Jesus and his adherents are refugees fleeing to Jerusalem
War III:498 describes the capture of Tarichaeae by Titus in September 67 CE: Terror-struck by his [Titus’s] audacity, none of the defenders on the ramparts ventured to fight or offer resistance. Abandoning their posts, Jesus and his supporters fled across country, while the rest rushed down the lake.
In other thread on this forum I have shown that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem in the gospels is not a regular pilgrimage, but the flight of a large group of Galilean refugees to Jerusalem under Jesus’ command in the autumn of 67 CE. For an overview of the flight elements in Luke’s travel narrative see viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3891&p=82941&hilit= ... %22#p82941. Luke 9:51-62, which contains Jesus’ complaint as a refugee, has been discussed in the thread ‘Crossing blocked, return impossible’, viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3891&p=82941&hilit= ... %22#p82941

These similarities between Josephus and the gospels are not a coincidence. They are, together with the other elements of my theory, strong enough to say that Josephus and the gospel writers are discussing the same person and describing the same (civil) war in which Jesus takes part.

The gospel writers have deliberately obfuscated the war circumstances of Jesus’ activity, and at the same time antedated the events. However, the real chronology of the then events has deliberately been preserved in the encoded apocalyptical parts of the New Testament and other early Christian writings, most extensively in the Synoptic Apocalypse, Revelation and the last (16th) chapter of the Didache.

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DCHindley
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Re: Jesus son of Saphat in Josephus and the Jesus of the gospels: one and the same person

Post by DCHindley » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:36 pm

Jesuses, Jesuses, everywhere. Here are all the Jesuses there found in Josephus' works, in no particular order:

01. Jesus, son of Phabes – High priest. Ant 15.322
02. Jesus, son of Ananus – Common man prophesied destruction of the temple. War 6.300
03. Jesus, or Jason – High priest. Ant 12.239
04. Jesus, son of Sapphias – Governor of Tiberias. War 2.566, War 2.599; Life 1.066, Life 1.134
05. Jesus, brother of Onias – High priest. Ant 12.237, Ant 12.238, Ant 12.239
06. Jesus, son of Gamaliel – High priest. Ant 20.213, Ant 20.223
07. Jesus, no patronym – Eldest high priest after Ananus. War 4.238, War 4.316, War 4.325
08. Jesus, son of Damneus – High priest. Ant 20.203
09. Jesus, son of Gamala – High priest & Josephus’ friend. War 4.160; Life 1.193, Life 1.204
10. Jesus, [or Joshua] son of Nun – Successor to Moses. Ant 03.049, Ant 03.308; Ant 4.459
11. Jesus, son of Shapat – Principal head of a band of robbers controlling Tiberias, sallies against Vespasian's messenger Valerian. War 3.450
16. Jesus, no patronym – Captain of those robbers who were in the confines of Ptolemais, allies with Josephus. Life 1.105
12. Jesus, son of Thebuthus – One of the priests, delivers to Titus precious things deposited in the temple. War 6.387
13. Jesus, son of Josadek – High priest. Ant 20.231, Ant 20.234
14. Jesus, no patronym – Galilean at head of a band of 600 followers, sent by Ananus & Jesus to depose Josephus. Life 1.200
15. Jesus, no patronym – Condemned to cross by Pilate. He was [the] Christ. Ant 18.063
17. Jesus, brother of Jacob – Called the Christ. Ant 20.200

DCH

hakeem
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Re: Jesus son of Saphat in Josephus and the Jesus of the gospels: one and the same person

Post by hakeem » Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:23 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:49 am
The core of my theory on the origins of Christianity is that Jesus was active during the war of the Jews against the Romans, 40 years later than what the gospels are telling. The crucial event which transformed the messianist Jesus into the awaited messiah was his survival of his crucifixion in the very last days of the war.

An interesting side effect of my theory is that much more (and much more down-to-earth) extra-biblical information on Jesus is available than ever thought, because the Jesus of the gospels has been mentioned quite circumstantially by Josephus, in his Life as well as in The Jewish War, under his full name Jesus son of Saphat (or Sapphias). ....
Your theory suffers from similar flaws as the Lena Einhorn's Egyptian historical Jesus. You and Lena disregard or minimise other characters and events in Josephus' writings that match the NT Jesus fable in order to make it appear that only Jesus the son of Sapphat or the Egyptian is the most likely the supposed historical Jesus.

The writings attributed to Josephus do not identify an historical Jesus but show how the Jesus story and character were fabricated by using multiple events long after the time of Pilate.

Stories in Josephus about Jesus the son of Annanas, Jesus the son of Sapphat, Jesus the son of Damneus, the expectation of Jews for Messianic rulers c 70 CE, the fall of the Jewish Temple, the crucifixion of three Jews where one survives, the taxing of Cyrenius, and other events imply that NT Jesus was a non-historical invention manufactured no earlier than the end of 1st century [after the writing of the Life of Flavius Josephus c 94-96 CE].

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