has listed similarities and differences between Josephus and Mark:
Josephus, Life 420-21:
“When I was sent by Titus Caesar with Cerealius, and a thousand horse, to a village called Tekoa, to prospect whether it was a suitable place fit for a camp, and on my return saw many prisoners who had been crucified, and recognized three of my acquaintances among them, I was cut to the heart and came and told Titus with tears what I had seen. He gave orders immediately that they should be taken down and receive the most careful treatment. Two of them died in the physician’s hands; the third survived.”
Does this actually compare with the gospel account?
- (1) Three crucified, one survives.
- (2) Name Joseph of Arimathea similar to Josephus bar Matthias–accidentally omitted, but point of interest! My bad!
- (1) in Josephus, hundreds crucified before the walls of Jerusalem, three are recognized as friends of Josephus.
- (2) In the gospels, all three died on the cross, whereas in Josephus all three were still visibly alive.
- (3) In the gospels, Joseph of Arimathea was said to have requested the (dead) body of only one of the crucified, not all three.
- (4) In the gospels the purpose was for burial, not to place under a physician’s care.
- (5) In the gospel story, the survival was due to miraculous resurrection, not a physician’s care.
- (6) The named Roman official is different, Titus vs. Pilate.
- (7) The timing is also quite different. The episode in Josephus takes place at the fall of Jerusalem’s temple in August or September 70, while the gospel episode is during Passover season.
I should add another similarity:
- 3) From Josephus’s Life, it is clear that Josephus had ongoing covert dealings with warrior commander Jesus in Galilee. In Mark, Joseph is said to be "secret disciple" of Jesus.
There are three possibilities:
- Jesus existed, and Mark copied from Josephus
- Jesus never existed and Mark copied from Josephus
- Jesus existed and he was Jesus ben Saphat.
In the first two cases, it is not clear, at contrary it is absolutely unexplicable, WHY "Mark" would have copied from Josephus the detail about "Joseph of Arimathea". In particular, usually the reference to Joseph being a "secret disciple" of Jesus seems to be, interpreted alone
, as an apology for the exact contrary
: Joseph NOT being never
connected with Jesus in the real past.
But the similarity number 3 persuades me that behind that marginal detail there could be an entire History in the real past, connecting a Jesus and a Joseph even before
the death of the former.
The differences number (1) and number (7) are not real differences, since in Mark the references to destruction of 70 CE are very a lot (for example, this
Hence we have 3 similarities against 5 differences.