Is the "Jesus, son of Ananus" story a Parody

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Stuart
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Is the "Jesus, son of Ananus" story a Parody

Post by Stuart » Wed May 06, 2020 10:17 am

A thought experiment:

let's look at a text of Josephus Bellum Iudaica we encounter the character of Jesus, the son of Ananus in book 6, chapter 5, part 3(full text in Greek and English: http://www.biblical.ie/page.php?fl=josephus/War/JWG6#05) and come to a "reverse" conclusion.

Ted Weeden famously highlighted the parallels between Mark (the Synoptics) and this passage in Josephus, and that the passage itself is fictional, drawn from Jeremiah. (A chart somebody found here" https://imgur.com/a/PK5d5 .)

Weeden however makes a few assumptions in his analysis we should note. First is Markan priority, and the second is that Josephus made up the passage himself, and that it is original and authentic to War. Of these Markan priority is the least affecting, as the Synoptics are similar. The second one however is the one I flip on it's head. What if the version of War we have is later, say the base a second century revised version (from which Christian interpolations would later be added) released sometime after the Bar Kokhba revolt, due to revived interest in the subject. (This is not outlandish by any means, as almost all ancient literature, even up to Shakespeare is not the original version we have. George Lucas did similar meddling with his own Star Wars movies, reprising the versions such that it's hard to find an original release.) So the smoothness is not necessarily the result of Josephus' hand but his second publisher.

With that proposition in mind, we should consider that this Jesus, son of Ananus passage is an interpolation beginning at "Μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἑορτὴν οὐ πολλαῖς ἡμέραις ὕστερον". This would reduce 6.5.3 to the same sized paragraph as those around it. And nothing before or after depends upon it. So it could work. Note, I take no exception to the concept that the passage derives from Jeremiah, nor any objection that the author was Jewish.

But this has a deeper implication, as it raises the possibility that it is an anti-Christian parody, an early dig at Christianity, not dissimilar in character from Toledot Yeshu, although more tame, something akin to Voltaire's tongue in cheek parody of Darwinism with the monkey lovers in Candide. Rather than the gospel writers borrowing the elements of the story from Josephus, our pseduo-Josephus borrowed elements of his story from the Christians.

Just a thought. Wondering if it occurred to anyone else as a possibility.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

davidmartin
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Re: Is the "Jesus, son of Ananus" story a Parody

Post by davidmartin » Wed May 06, 2020 2:47 pm

Stuart this is several levels of detail beyond anything I've ever done with Josephus!
But I can tell you when I read him there's a few places i'm gonna say its obvious he's taking a dig at Christianity's origins
The various 'bandits' are disguising something else for one
The story about the Roman lady tricked into sleeping with a god is highly suspicious
I didn't know about the one you mention I will read it
But I've kind of given up with Josephus except he did make me think that the gospel events might have occurred in the 40's rather than 30's and the earlier date was simply to put Jesus close to John the Baptist

OK I read it. My simple mind see's a different angle.
It comes down to Albinus the procurator this was the guy around when James was stoned
I recon this is just a re-telling of James's stoning just to introduce a 'Jesus' into it because its possible James was seen as a messianic figure, a Jesus if you will spiritually, but the church in Josephus's time didn't see it that way and Jesus had to be Jesus and they had to be separate - no others coming in his name. He makes this Jesus seem kind of despicable but gives him a valid prophecy and blame Rome for his death
Connecting it with James then makes sense of the timeline, that's how I see it anyway
Ananias seems to hint at Paul if you ask me as well, as in 'the Jesus proclaimed by Paul' from the Ananias's that pop up around Paul in Acts

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MrMacSon
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Re: Is the "Jesus, son of Ananus" story a Parody

Post by MrMacSon » Wed May 06, 2020 3:35 pm

Stuart wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 10:17 am
(A chart somebody found here" https://imgur.com/a/PK5d5 .)
That chart is from Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus, chapter 10.

Stuart
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Re: Is the "Jesus, son of Ananus" story a Parody

Post by Stuart » Wed May 06, 2020 7:09 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 3:35 pm
Stuart wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 10:17 am
(A chart somebody found here" https://imgur.com/a/PK5d5 .)
That chart is from Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus, chapter 10.
Thanks.

That sort of points out the problem with not holding skepticism to the condition of the non scriptural sources. At times it seems Robert M. Price goes full in on "this is where Jesus came from" to replace the unnamed son from the "Brand X Baptism" days. But if the source already had contact with Christian teachings then the story cannot be a source.

davidmartin,

A veiled anti-christian stratum from Josephus himself is highly improbable, since the theology made fun of depends upon the destruction of the temple already, as in theory this work would barely be much more than a decade after. That leaves a lot of questions about how he could be so aware of a nascent theology, which could only have been written a couple years prior at the earliest, let alone be steeped enough in it to write a parody of it. To me it leaves to reasonable options. Either Weeden is correct, Josephus made up this passage from Jeremiah and the gospels used Josephus, or the version of Josephus we have post dates the gospels, well into the 2nd century, and included parody elements the reviser threw in.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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