If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

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Giuseppe
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If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 pm


Related questions about absence of evidence crop up in law and in history. In legal contexts, the question has to do with the weight of negative evidence – testimony from a witness that he did not notice something, by contrast with the positive evidence of a witness who testifies to what he did see or hear.

http://homepages.wmich.edu/~mcgrew/Evidence.htm

What is not considered, to my knowledge, in the discussion about the Argument From Silence applied on the epistles about the HJ-historicity, is the possibility of a contrast of the kind described above.

Paul comes rapidly to mind as example of someone who didn't mention the historical Jesus. And Josephus also.
The total falsity of the Testimonium doesn't affect the case.

But if the Josephus's Testimonium is genuine, then he is positive evidence of an outsider who mentioned things not mentioned by an insider.

Could an outsider mention what an insider didn't mention?

I find here the real force of the Argument From Silence applied on Paul about the HJ.

To defeat the threat of this so strong Silence, the historicist has to show real evidence of a HJ in Paul. I.e. evidence that would persuade about the historicist view of Paul insofar the partial authenticity of the Testimonium would persuade about the historicist belief of the his author.

The problem is that I can't use this argument since there are serious doubts about the authenticity of the entire TF.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Peter Kirby
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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:37 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 pm

Related questions about absence of evidence crop up in law and in history. In legal contexts, the question has to do with the weight of negative evidence – testimony from a witness that he did not notice something, by contrast with the positive evidence of a witness who testifies to what he did see or hear.

http://homepages.wmich.edu/~mcgrew/Evidence.htm
The quote is talking about actual testimony from a witness "that he did not notice something" but you're talking about:
what an insider [=Paul] didn't mention
To defeat the threat of this so strong Silence, the historicist has to show real evidence of a HJ in Paul
So you're not talking about Josephus as a witness and you're not even talking about any particular piece of testimony.

You're talking about Paul, and you're talking about an absence of an extant mention (according to you) of a HJ in Paul.

The title is bait-and-switch and would read "Paul didn't mention a HJ, so Jesus didn't exist" if it wanted to be clear.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Peter Kirby
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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:51 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 pm
Paul comes rapidly to mind as example of someone who didn't mention the historical Jesus.
One more comment: under the HJ hypothesis regarding Paul, all the mentions of "Jesus" in Paul are mentions of a historical Jesus. This is not to say that the mere mention of "Jesus" in Paul proves that Paul believed in a historical Jesus, because it doesn't. But it does make problematic an effort-free attempt to argue that Paul didn't mention a historical Jesus, since it contains the premise that Paul's references to Jesus are to something other than a historical Jesus. Instead of talking about Paul mentioning or not mentioning a historical Jesus, it's more accurate to talk about different interpretations of Paul's references to Jesus. This is why it's usually framed in terms of Paul giving inadequate supporting historical details in a way that seems suspicious if he were a person on earth, which is of course an argument worth having (... and which has been had many times here on the forum).
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:53 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:37 pm


The title is bait-and-switch and would read "Paul didn't mention a HJ, so Jesus didn't exist" if it wanted to be clear.
Are you sure that my argument requires a Josephus who is direct witness of the man and not of the mere hearsay of the man? My argument is that if the outsider Josephus noted a so little thing as the Christian hearsay about a HJ, then the silence of the insider Paul becomes virtually stronger (=more unexpected) against the HJ. Could really he not mention EXPLICITLY what even a (his contemporary) not-Christian mentioned EXPLICITLY (even if only as mere hearsay)?

Vice versa, if Josephus was silent about (the hearsay of) HJ, then the silence of Paul didn't find a possible meter to misure the real force of this silence.
Last edited by Giuseppe on Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:56 pm

To continue an explanation of why this is important, that a Jesus in Paul could be an HJ or not-HJ in Paul:

Every person is either a living-human type or not. So a reference to a named person is either to someone who either is a once-living human, or is not. Once we've established that a person is referenced, like Jesus in Paul, we have two ways to go with it. Both need to be established on the basis of the evidence; an absence of evidence by itself isn't sufficient to prove the opposite.

An analogy, perhaps, if that helps. Every poster on the internet is presumably male or female (or bot). Just because you can't prove the poster is female, doesn't mean that they are male, and vice-versa. The same for being a bot or not, although that can be easier to show I guess. Positive characteristics are needed to distinguish, or it might just be unknown.
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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:00 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:53 pm
Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:37 pm


The title is bait-and-switch and would read "Paul didn't mention a HJ, so Jesus didn't exist" if it wanted to be clear.
the silence of the insider Paul becomes virtually stronger (=more unexpected) against the HJ. Could really he not mention what even a Pagan mentioned (even if only as mere hearsay)?
Okay, that's actually pretty clear.

You just feel that strongly about your opinion that your reading of Paul is evidence that Jesus didn't exist.

Your title flows more naturally like this:

"EVEN if the TF is partially genuine, Jesus STILL probably didn't exist"

Not as punchy a title, I know, but way more accurate.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:05 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:51 pm
This is why it's usually framed in terms of Paul giving inadequate supporting historical details in a way that seems suspicious if he were a person on earth, which is of course an argument worth having (... and which has been had many times here on the forum).
Yes, I mean that level of interpretation, not simply mention or not.


Coudl the outsider Josephus sound so explicit, in the face of a his contemporary - insider Paul - who seems to be not so explicit about the real presence of the person on earth ?

It is as if a thief is signaled by a sentinel outside the home, but not by the sentinel inside the home. The two things are mutually exclusive. Or Josephus is totally interpolated, or Paul didn't mention a HJ (=he denies him).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:08 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:00 am


Your title flows more naturally like this:

"EVEN if the TF is partially genuine, Jesus STILL probably didn't exist"
Better still:

“Jesus's existence is denied MORE, and not LESS, if the TF is at least partially genuine”.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:11 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:05 am
Coudl the outsider Josephus sound so explicit, in the face of a his contemporary - insider Paul - who seems to be not so explicit about the real presence of the person on earth ?
If I can just throw this out there, then, the answer is 'yes, actually'.

People who are insiders can often sound like they're speaking in code because they have a lot of implicit information that isn't stated and for which there is little to no motivation to state because they're talking to each other and all that background information might not be relevant to their point. On the other hand, people who are outsiders and who are actually purporting to describe something in a way intelligible to outsiders - like a Jewish historian Josephus to the Roman audience - would be unable to assume any implicit information about Christians or about Jesus and would need to start from the beginning and build the picture concretely. Meanwhile, insiders don't need to and have less occasion to talk about the basic picture, since they're inside that picture and are busy making new things of interest on top of it - theology, ethics, soteriology, eschatology, ritual, etc.

I'm not saying that this is it and that, therefore, Paul wrote about HJ. But I will say that this insider/outsider distinction doesn't fall out the way you want it to and that the insider can indeed omit some information that would have to be presented by an outsider, due to their different audiences and purposes.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: If the Testimonium Flavianum is partially genuine, then Jesus didn't exist

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:34 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:11 am
I'm not saying that this is it and that, therefore, Paul wrote about HJ. But I will say that this insider/outsider distinction doesn't fall out the way you want it to and that the insider can indeed omit some information that would have to be presented by an outsider, due to their different audiences and purposes.
I understand your point.

To refine better the my argument, a quote from Kris D. Komarnitsky may be very useful:

But as JP admits, even in high-context societies "repeat of detail would ... occur if some need were present to repeat."

(quoted by Tim Widowfield in When Is Paul’s Silence Golden?)

In my view, it is more (and not less) expected that, if Josephus wrote about Jesus, then the occasions where also Paul should have sounded more explicit, in spite of the is context of insiders, would have increased exponentially (and not decreased).



Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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