John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Tue May 12, 2020 5:18 am

I see that Peter Kirby, in his long article supporting the authenticity of the Baptist passage in Josephus, has ignored completely the following criticism, that was "in the air" at least in the blogosphera of my knowledge, much time before his article.

The Baptist passage is in direct contradiction with Josephus 18.5.1, where it is said that the fortress of Machaerus was then under the command of the Arab king Aretas, against whom Herod lost the war. Renan (Life of Jesus 6) tries to reconcile this contradiction by assuming that the fortress has now come under the control of Herod, but he, as so often, fails to prove it. Just pay close attention to the course of the story told by Josephus (Ant. 18.5.1).

Herod's wife, the daughter of Aretas, learned that her husband wanted to marry his sister-in-law Herodias and fled to the fortress of Machaerus, which was under the command of her father. In the ensuing war between Herod and Areta, Herod lost all his soldiers, and this was supposed to have been a punishment for killing John in the fortress of Machaerus, which he did not yet possess - he could not have conquered it in the meantime, for the war had not succeeded - and for preaching a sermon of punishment for a marriage which he had not yet performed.

It is true that the interpolator of the Baptist passage in Josephus saves apparently himself from the accusation of interpolation by having Herod killer of John not for the latter's preaching against the marriage of Herodias, as the evangelist did, but for mere political reasons, because he feared that a people would revolt as a result of John's sermons, but this because Josephus had already reported earlier about the Samaritan Messiah with Pilate.

Hence the mere presence of the episode about the Samaritan Messiah killed by Pilate, some passages before, can explain why the interpolator changed the true reason of the death of John, from a stupid Gospel-based Torah's observance question to a political reason (fear of sediction). I go even further: the interpolator wanted to distinguish John from the Samaritan Prophet, hence he interpolated the Baptist passage.

You see: our John was accused of sediction, but only accused, whereas the Samaritan arrived to open explicit revolt. Please like the difference. (signed: The Interpolator)

The interpolator could be totally able to mask himself forever as Josephus, if only he hadn't made the following two false moves:
  • 1) he had John killed in Machareus, fortress that was never herodian, neither before nor after the war with Aretas;
  • 2) he had John killed before Herod had married Herodias, hence confuting totally the Gospels. So the Baptist passage in Josephus is totally false, not because it agrees with the Gospels, but the other way round, because it makes the Gospel episode impossible.


I have made my case.

I expect that someone can confute me.

The challenge is thrown.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Tue May 12, 2020 5:40 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:18 am
I see that Peter Kirby, in his long article supporting the authenticity of the Baptist passage in Josephus, has ignored completely the following criticism, that was "in the air" at least in the blogosphera of my knowledge, much time before his article.
Pardon. I see that Peter Kirby didn't ignore that criticism, but he confuted it.

It makes little sense that Herod should send her out of his kingdom, if he needed to keep control of her (such marriages were treaties of sorts). Machaerus as Josephus indicates was on the border with Aretas. At Machaerus there was an agent of Aretas (“him who was subject to her father”), who was informed and who prepared for her onward journey, so she went forth (from Machaerus) into Arabia (καὶ ἀφωρμᾶτο εἰς τὴν Ἀραβίαν), ie out of Herod’s territory. Machaerus was not under the control of Aretas.

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

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Tue May 12, 2020 6:14 am

Peter Kirby has proved beyond any doubt that Macherus was a herodian fortress.

But he is wrong, in my view, when he sees a similarity between the Josephus's defamation of the Samaritan Prophet as potential - and only potential - rebel, and the interpolator's description of John as potential - and only potential rebel:

Compare a similar story about an influential prophet being cut down swiftly for fear of his potential power (Antiquities 18.85-88), to whom Josephus is unsympathetic (but which does lead to the defenestration of Pilate).

But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there. So they came thither armed, and thought the discourse of the man probable; and as they abode at a certain village, which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together; but Pilate prevented their going up, by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and foot-men, who fell upon those that were gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action, some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain. But when this tumult was appeased, the Samaritan senate sent an embassy to Vitellius, a man that had been consul, and who was now president of Syria, and accused Pilate of the murder of those that were killed; for that they did not go to Tirathaba in order to revolt from the Romans, but to escape the violence of Pilate.


If we were to imagine the story of this unnamed Samaritan prophet being told by people who were either his followers or who were at least Samaritans and highly sympathetic to him, we might expect less of those details that Josephus supplies here and more about the (apparently, non-violent) teaching and prophecy made by this man and about his followers who expected great things at Mount Gerizim. But just as this story about a Samaritan prophet retains Josephus’ characteristic emphasis on political motives and the progression of the politically-focused historical narrative, so does, similarly, the passage on John the Baptist.

http://peterkirby.com/john-the-baptist-authentic.html

I disagree strongly with Peter, here. The Samaritan prophet is not "cut down swiftly for fear of his potential power": he has already abundantly crossed the border between potential sedition and open sedition, unlike the Baptist.

Hence the Baptist Passage is meant to raise both a comparison and a difference with the Samaritan Prophet Passage.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Tue May 12, 2020 6:52 am

A reason ignored by Peter may be the following:

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; … Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.

Note the enigmatic changement from "some of the Jews" to (presumably all) "the Jews".

That changement is not causal.

That changement reflects subtly the progressive growth, in terms of political power, of the reaction against Pilate for his killing of the Samaritan Messiah.

But when this tumult was appeased, the Samaritan senate sent an embassy to Vitellius, a man that had been consul, and who was now president of Syria, and accused Pilate of the murder of those that were killed; for that they did not go to Tirathaba in order to revolt from the Romans, but to escape the violence of Pilate. So Vitellius sent Marcellus, a friend of his, to take care of the affairs of Judea, and ordered Pilate to go to Rome, to answer before the emperor to the accusations of the Jews. So Pilate, when he had tarried ten years in Judea, made haste to Rome, and this in obedience to the orders of Vitellius, which he durst not contradict; but before he could get to Rome Tiberius was dead. [This happened around the year 36 ce.]

The descending parable of Pilate is identical to the descending parable of Herod Antipas:
  • before only "some of the Jews" accuse Herod, then "all the Jews".
  • before only "the Samaritan senate" accuse Pilate, then "the Jews", then the Emperor himself (i.e. the entire Roman Empire in his person)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Wed May 13, 2020 6:51 am

In the Gospels, Judas is necessary to recognize Jesus, creating so the great contradiction of a "famous" Jesus during the day who had to be recognized by the soldiers by the help of a betrayer during the night.

But if the source of the Gospels was also a biography about "John the Baptist", alias the Samaritan Prophet, then the need of a "Judas" to recognize him among his captured followers makes a lot of sense. Who was their leader? Pilate needs the help of a betrayer to recognize him and give him the death in primis and inter alia. A "Judas" was really necessary, afterall.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Wed May 13, 2020 8:03 am


The heathens perpetrated everywhere many atrocities against the Christians, and more particularly the following disgraceful deed they committed in Palestine. The bones of the prophet Eliseus and of John the Baptist were dug up out of their sepulchres where they were buried[i.e., in Sebaste, Samaria], and being mingled with the bones of beasts, they were thrown into the flames, reduced to ashes, and scattered to the winds. In some places, too, they seized upon the Christians and placed them as victims on the heathen altars ; and many other fearful atrocities did they commit, impelled, as it would seem, by some supernatural frenzy. When Julian learned these tidings, ho not only felt no indignation against their authors, but even rejoiced at their doings; as though the infamy belonging to such deeds attached itself to others, while his own wishes were in concert with their acts.

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/philostorgius.htm

How can John be killed in Macherus when his corpse was buried in Samaria ?

The 2 traditions are necessarily in conflict. But the witness of Julian is more important than the false witness of the forger of the Baptist passage.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Thu May 14, 2020 12:23 am

In the Iliad of Homer, the gods and goddess assume often the appearance, and only the appearance, of the Greek warriors loved by them and that they want "to save" from the death in the combats.

Hence, when Luke writes:

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God descended to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

(Luke 3:1-2)

...from one hand, he is replacing the descent of Jesus in Capernaum of the marcionite incipit, but from the other hand, he was saying that, for all the time the "word of God", i.e. the Logos, the spiritual Christ, descended on John, John was the Christ of his own right. There is the origin of the separationist Christology.

Now, Joseph Turmel has proved, beyond any doubt, that in the original incipit of the Fourth Gospel it was not the Logos to figure in the incipit, but the Light.

God is light, (1:4)

And the light shines in the darkness, (1:5a)

and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:5b)

Yet to all who did receive him, (1:12a)

he gave the right to become children of God. (1:12b)

The Logos is 100% pure embryonic proto-catholicism. Originally, in the incipit of proto-John, it was the Light to descend on earth, i.e., to descend on John, by assuming his form.

Hence the original "baptism of John" was the descent of the Light on John. Apollos (Acts 18:24–25) knew only about this meaning for the baptism of John.

Therefore in Mark the Logos of God works directly by simply quoting the "words of God" from the OT:

as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way” ]—
3
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness

There also the Logos is in action already in the incipit: a subtle way to eclipse the fact that the Logos, in a previous source, "descended" directly on John.

Hence, while it is true that Luke 3:1-3 is a corruption of the marcionite incipit, it is also true that the mention of a descent of the spiritual Christ directly on John precedes both the marcionite incipit (where 'Capernaum' is there only because Marcion modified Mark) and the Mark's incipit (where the descent of the Logos is deliberately eclipsed by replacing it with the simple mention of the oracles of OT, themselves de facto the 'Logos' of God).


in short:

Image

The map explains why I think that only an Earliest Gospel (call it proto-Mark) where John, and not Jesus, was the man on which the deity Jesus descended, is the key that removes all the contradictions found in the our Gospel incipits.
  • It is evident that Luke falsifies Marcion ( “What we've heard that took place in Capernaum, do here in your hometown")
  • It is evident that Marcion has Capernaum in the incipit because he evades (out of embarrassment) the John's baptism in Mark and jumps directly to Capernaum, the only city mentioned not coincidentially in Mark 1:21.
  • It is evident that the Fourth Gospel wants to confute a previous tradition where John was "himself" the Light and not a mere witness of her.
  • It is evident that Luke and the Fourth Gospel are independent witnesses of the presence, in their common source, of the "Logos of God" descending on someone.
  • It is evident that Mark has replaced the Logos of God, witnessed independently by both the Fourt Gospel and Luke (per point above), with directly the quote of oracles of God from the OT (not coincidentially: the only point in Mark where OT scriptures are quoted expliciter).
  • It is evident, therefore, that the original separationism had the divine being descending on John, not on Jesus. The original "baptism of John" was his being possessed by the Light, the Logos or the Jesus (a deity).

Hence, I add today a new certainty to mine:
  • FACT 1: Paul and any apostle met by Paul placed Jesus always and only in Heaven.
  • FACT 2: John was the Samaritan Prophet killed by Pilate and mentioned by Josephus.
  • FACT 3: the Earliest Gospel had the spiritual Christ descend directly on John and abandon him on the cross.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Thu May 14, 2020 7:36 am

I read that the "dove" is in Hebrew Iemona, with the IEOA equivalent to IAO, IEOU, IAWAH, IOVAH, IAHWE, i.e. YHWH.

The Gnostics called the Pleroma as IEOA, the Unnameable. Hence the dove comes "from Pleroma". Not from YHWH.

This info, in addition to Origen's witness about being only one person who saw the dove descending from heaven and heard the voice from heaven,

"What credible witness beheld this appearance? or who heard a voice from heaven declaring you to be the Son of God? What proof is there of it, save your own assertion, and the statement of another of those individuals who have been punished along with you?"

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... en161.html

...as evidence, inter alia, of the fact that in proto-Mark there was no baptism of Jesus by John, but only the descent of the 'dove'/spiritual Christ directly on the man John. Hence proving my point.

ADDENDA:
Ioannès is the contraction of Iaoannès, meaning 'revelation of Iao'. Iao, Ieao, Ieoa, Ieou is God, the Light, from which the Jews have derived YHWH et similia.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5402
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Peter Kirby » Thu May 14, 2020 9:54 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:18 am
I see that Peter Kirby, in his long article supporting the authenticity of the Baptist passage in Josephus, has ignored completely the following criticism, that was "in the air" at least in the blogosphera of my knowledge, much time before his article.

The Baptist passage is in direct contradiction with Josephus 18.5.1, where it is said that the fortress of Machaerus was then under the command of the Arab king Aretas, against whom Herod lost the war.
has ignored completely
Wrong. It's the second argument for inauthenticity.

http://peterkirby.com/john-the-baptist-authentic.html
(2) The Passage Assumes Herod Antipas Controlled Macherus

Neil Godfrey notes another one of the reasons that Zindler gives for suspecting an interpolation here:

The passage about John the Baptist says Herod sent John to the castle of Macherus to be killed. Yet only two sentences before the Paragraph [1] summarized above, Josephus had written that the castle of Macherus did not belong to Herod, but to the king who soon afterwards attacked him.

This consideration would actually be probative, if what Josephus had written before had implied that the castle of Macherus did not belong to Herod. That is not, however, what the Greek manuscripts state; it is found only later in the printed editions.

F. F. Bruce, Andrew Criddle, and a previous post of mine on A Conjectural Corruption of Josephus reference what is actually found in the manuscripts of Josephus here: not “to Machaerus, which was at that time subject to her father” (εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τότε πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελῆ) but rather “to Machaerus and to him who was subject to her father” (εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τῷ τε πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελεῖ). More than a century ago, S. Sollertinsky made similar observations regarding this passage (“The Death of St. John the Baptist” in The Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 1, pp. 514-515):

But Ewald … has shown that the word [‘was subject’] refers not to Macherus but to the officer who met the daughter of Aretas there. Indeed Volkmar might have asked himself why the daughter of Aretas should request Herod’s permission to go to Machaerus, instead of to her father, if the fortress belonged to him: or how, in asking permission, she should conceal her intention of going to her father. The whole proceeding only becomes intelligible if it is the idea of an honourable retreat which Josephus means to ascribe to her.

Refer to the other post for more detail. This should be regarded as the reading of Josephus, so the argument that the John the Baptist passage contradicts an earlier statement of Josephus regarding Macherus does not hold up.
Which refers to another full article on the site:

http://peterkirby.com/a-conjectural-cor ... ephus.html
The translation in the Loeb edition of Josephus’ Antiquities 18.112 reads:

On his return after transacting his business in Rome, his wife, who had got wind of his compact with Herodias, before any information reached him that she had discovered everything, asked him to send her away to Machaerus, which was on the boundary between the territory of Aretas and that of Herod. She gave no hint, however, of her real purpose. Herod let her go, since he had no notion that the poor woman saw what was afoot. Some time earlier she herself had dispatched messengers to Machaerus, which was at that time subject to her father, so that when she arrived all preparations for her journey had been made by the governor. She was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one governor to the next as they provided transport. So she speedily reached her father and told him what Herod planned to do.

The footnote here says:

The reading of the mss. is “and to him who was subject to her father.”

The following notes are in the text here in the Loeb edition.

εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τότε3 πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελῆ,4
3 τότε] ed. pr.: τῷ τε codd.
4 ed. pr.: ὑποτελεῖ codd.

The Neise edition simply reads, in agreement with the manuscripts:

εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τῷ τε πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελεῖ

F. F. Bruce remarks in a footnote:

He appeals to the statement found in all the printed editions of Josephus, Ant. xviii 112, that Machaerus was subject to Aretas at the time of his daughter’s flight from Antipas (εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τότε [τὸν τῷ Bekker] πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελῆ); but the manuscript tradition (εἰς τὸν Μαχαιροῦντα τῷ τε πατρὶ αὐτῆς ὑποτελεῖ) does not make this statement.

The reading of the printed texts and translations may be called a conjectural corruption of Josephus. Although it is to be found in the editio princeps of the Greek text of Josephus printed in 1544, it disagrees with the three extant manuscripts that attest to Antiquities 18 (AMW).

[Update May 2, 2015: The Latin version (and quotation of it) reads “apud Macherunta omnia pararentur quae itineris usus exposceret” and thus omits the phrase. A perceived inconcinnity in the original wording, “and to him who was subject to her father,” may explain this. On the other hand, if the original wording were the phrase “which was at that time subject to her father,” an omission by the Latin translators of the sixth century may be more difficult to explain. But if the original wording were the wording present in the Greek manuscripts, which could be considered a ‘difficult’ phrasing due to the oblique way of mentioning this person, both the omission in the Latin and the alteration in the Greek is explained.]

The first question might be to ask whether the reading of the manuscripts makes sense. Conjectures are often proposed when the manuscripts themselves do not present a text that makes sense. If the text does make sense, however, there is much less occasion for proposing a conjectural emendation.

τῷ – This is the singular masculine dative definite article that here means ‘to him’.
τε – This is an enclitic particle that is used here as a conjunction (‘and’).
πατρί – This is the singular masculine dative noun from πατήρ, ‘father.’
αὐτῆς – This is the singular feminine genitive adjective that means ‘her.’
ὑποτελεῖ – This is the singular masculine dative adjective that can be translated ‘subordinate’ or ’employed’ or ‘subject’ or ‘liable to taxation’ (from the adjective ὑποτελής) or the third person singular imperfect verb that is translated ‘was subject’ or ‘was paying’ or ‘was servicing’ (from the verb ὑποτελέω).

This is how the Loeb edition gets a translation reading, “and to him who was subject to her father.”

It is also possible to read it, “and to him subordinate to her father.”

There is an example of the adjectival form applied to an individual in Byzantine law: “Thus, for so many days he is called a visitor (παρεπίδηµος) and does not pay tax, but if he passes the fixed time, he becomes a metic thenceforth and liable to taxation (µέτοικος ἤδη γίνεται καὶ ὑποτελής).”

There is also this use in Lucian: “That is another thing that the women are keen about – to have men of education living in their households on a salary (μισθοῦ ὑποτελεῖς) and following their litters.” (Merc. Cond. 36)

Of the verb, there is this use in Lucian: “And it can not only solecize and barbarize, not only twaddle and forswear, call names and slander and lie – it can perform other services even at night (ἀλλὰ καὶ νύκτωρ τι ἄλλο ὑποτελεῖν), especially if your love affairs are too numerous.” (Rh. Pr., 23)

While both the verb and the adjective are also found in the context of paying tribute (and this may have indeed been the original reason that some have sought to correct Josephus here), that is not the only meaning that they can have. The rest of the construction naturally makes good sense as it is, so it is not very difficult to make good sense of the passage as it stands.

In a 2013 post, the user named spin made this comment in explanation of the text:

It makes little sense that Herod should send her out of his kingdom, if he needed to keep control of her (such marriages were treaties of sorts). Machaerus as Josephus indicates was on the border with Aretas. At Machaerus there was an agent of Aretas (“him who was subject to her father”), who was informed and who prepared for her onward journey, so she went forth (from Machaerus) into Arabia (καὶ ἀφωρμᾶτο εἰς τὴν Ἀραβίαν), ie out of Herod’s territory. Machaerus was not under the control of Aretas.

The second question is to ask whether the conjectural emendation helps to solve problems in the text. On the contrary, however, not only does it fail to solve any real problems in the text, because there are none, but it also throws up some problems of its own.

This topographical map shows how the Arnon River and River Wala (to the north of the Arnon River) created a natural southern border for Perea.

Machaerus with the Arnon River and River Wala

Likewise this political map.

First Century Palestine

The difficulty involved in believing that the fortress was held by Aretas has led some to accuse Josephus of simply being in error here.

The Loeb edition has a footnote here that reads (“he is wrong”):

N. Glueck, “Explorations in the Land of Ammon,” Bull. of the Am. Sch. of Orient. Res. lxviii, Dec. 1937, p. 15, on the basis of an archaeological survey of the area, concludes that Josephus is approximately correct in placing Machaerus on the border between the territory of Aretas and that of Herod, but that he is wrong in placing it in the territory of Aretas, which was a few miles away.

Similarly a book on Herod Antipas, p. 286, by Harold Hoehner, states (“…incorrectly…”):

At the time Antipas’ wife, daughter of Aretas IV, was about to be divorced, she asked to be sent to Machaerus, which Josephus describes correctly as being on the border between the lands of Aretas IV and Antipas, but incorrectly places the fortress in the territory of Aretas.

Emil Schürer is ready to countenance “a misstatement through carelessness” by Josephus and notes that some have even seen grounds for “an interpolation” here on account of the apparent error:

As Schürer notes in passing, the difficulty involved in the conjectural corruption of Josephus is not merely that the conjectural reading claims that Machaerus was held by Aretas, although that is indeed “very remarkable” given that it “at all other periods, before and after, formed part of the Jewish territory.” The difficulty is further, and it is worth repeating, that:

It is equally remarkable that Antipas should have guilelessly allowed his wife to go to this fortress belonging to the Arabian king. Or did he consciously agree to it in order to smooth the way for her flight, wishing thus to be rid of her? Josephus did not so conceive of the matter, for according to his representation Herod Antipas knew nothing of the meditated flight.

Thus it is not only a difficulty involved here, objectively, in believing that Machaerus would have been held by Aretas, which thus leads many to conclude that Josephus is in error here. There is further a difficulty, subjectively, for Josephus, in that his own account makes very little sense if Antipas is viewed as sending his wife to a castle being held by her father, since Josephus says that Antipas had “no hint … of her real purpose” to flee. If Josephus believed the castle was held by Aretas, this point that he emphasizes three times (saying also that she asked Antipas to let her go to Machaerus “before any information reached him that she had discovered everything” and “he had no notion that the poor woman saw what was afoot”) makes no sense.

All of these difficulties simply disappear if we allow the text to say what it actually does say in the manuscripts. We are thus in a fairly unusual position here, in that the conjecture not only has no manuscript support but also makes much less sense in context than the original text does. There is only one way out of this strange situation, and that is to disavow the conjecture and let the text stand.

This then restores the translation of Josephus in the Loeb edition to agree with the footnote there and with the Greek text of the manuscripts.

On his return after transacting his business in Rome, his wife, who had got wind of his compact with Herodias, before any information reached him that she had discovered everything, asked him to send her away to Machaerus, which was on the boundary between the territory of Aretas and that of Herod. She gave no hint, however, of her real purpose. Herod let her go, since he had no notion that the poor woman saw what was afoot. Some time earlier she herself had dispatched messengers to Machaerus and to him who was subject to her father, so that when she arrived all preparations for her journey had been made by the officer. She was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one officer to the next as they provided transport. So she speedily reached her father and told him what Herod planned to do.

The word translated “governor” in the Loeb edition (στρατηγός) can also be translated “magistrate,” “general,” “commander,” “leader,” or “officer.” I have used the word “officer” here.

The original account makes sense, subjectively and objectively, as the text of Josephus. Machaerus is not said to belong to Aretas, as it did not. Machaerus is stated to be near the border of the territory of Aretas, as it was. There was a man who answered to Aretas IV inside Machaerus, who may be considered either a spy or a diplomat. Antipas’ wife sent messengers before her to have preparations for a journey into Arabia and into her father’s territory ready when she arrived. This was necessary so that she “was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one officer to the next as they provided transport.” Herod Antipas let her go to Machaerus without any suspicion that she knew anything or had any plan to escape. Everything in the passage makes sense if and only if we understand that the castle Machaerus was under the control of Herod Antipas and belonged to his territory.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: John the Baptist was interpolated in Josephus to distinguish him from the Samaritan Prophet

Post by Giuseppe » Thu May 14, 2020 11:04 am

I have recognized my error in the next post.
At any case, in this post I raise another argument against your defense of the authenticity of the Baptist passage in Josephus.

ADDENDA
In addition, you write:

All considered, it should not surprise us that John the Baptist might be well-regarded by Josephus, especially in the way phrased here at Ant. 18.116-119.

Not even when John the Baptist is so strongly mentioned in Christian tradition, in connection with Samaritan characters as Dositheus and Simon Magus, and with the Samaritan Wilderness (see the Schwartz's article), and in the same time, Josephus had just reported his defamation of the Samaritan Prophet killed by Pilate ? Do you the math.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Post Reply