Josephus' Portrait of David

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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arnoldo
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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by arnoldo » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:59 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:Well the Hebrew Scriptures are certainly a Taliban-like text -- ordering stoning and death for all sorts of acts and mass slaughter of various select groups of unbelievers.
According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil. I guess the only point we can agree in is that Josephus primarily wrote to a Roman audience. With this in mind, Feldman writes that Josephus omits describing David in messianic terms to his Roman audience. I found that your scholar, McLaren, writes that in Josephus " there is little sense of an independent state being established and certainly no mention of its name, ‘Israel,’ let alone reference to ‘Zion*". So according to both scholars, Josephus deliberately omits mentioning certain information to his presumably Roman audience. I do understand your argument that in the first century there was not any Davidic messianic expectations hence Josephus' silence in regard to this issue.

*The quote from McLaren is from The Jewish Revolt Against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
which currently costs $203. However, McLaren's section is available almost in it's entirety here.

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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:20 pm

arnoldo wrote: According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil.
Correct. It is all assumption. Not enough to fight to the death over. Always healthy to distinguish between assumptions, hypotheses, evidence and data. That way we don't have to get agro or defensive when challenged but even be willing to discuss, demonstrate, revise.
Last edited by neilgodfrey on Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:43 pm

arnoldo wrote:
According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil ...
How does this fit with Dennis MacDonald's proposals that "Mark borrowed extensively from the Odyssey and the Iliad, and that he wanted his readers to recognize the Homeric antecedents in Mark’s story of Jesus"? "Mark was composing a prose anti-epic, MacDonald says, presenting Jesus as a suffering hero modelled after but far superior to traditional Greek heroes" in his The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.

The Gospel of Mark "Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero."

MacDonald also proposes that the Homeric Epics are the foundation the Acts of the Apostles.

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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:10 pm

arnoldo wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:Well the Hebrew Scriptures are certainly a Taliban-like text -- ordering stoning and death for all sorts of acts and mass slaughter of various select groups of unbelievers.
According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil. I guess the only point we can agree in is that Josephus primarily wrote to a Roman audience. With this in mind, Feldman writes that Josephus omits describing David in messianic terms to his Roman audience. I found that your scholar, McLaren, writes that in Josephus " there is little sense of an independent state being established and certainly no mention of its name, ‘Israel,’ let alone reference to ‘Zion*". So according to both scholars, Josephus deliberately omits mentioning certain information to his presumably Roman audience. I do understand your argument that in the first century there was not any Davidic messianic expectations hence Josephus' silence in regard to this issue.

*The quote from McLaren is from The Jewish Revolt Against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
which currently costs $203. However, McLaren's section is available almost in it's entirety here.
By the way, fwiw, I do not "follow" McLaren in preference to Feldman or anyone else. I attempt to follow the arguments and the evidence marshalled in support of each -- no matter who they are from. My perspective of Josephus is more comprehensively addressed by Steve Mason at https://www.academia.edu/2978438/What_i ... -Roman_War

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arnoldo
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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by arnoldo » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:32 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
arnoldo wrote: According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil.
Correct. It is all assumption. Not enough to fight to the death over. Always healthy to distinguish between assumptions, hypotheses, evidence and data. That way we don't have to get agro or defensive when challenged but even be willing to discuss, demonstrate, revise.
Yeah, the argument from silence, lack of evidence and data may favor that there was a lack of messianic expectations in the first century. Josephus certainly doesn't indicate that David was a messianic figure of any kind.

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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:45 am

arnoldo wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
arnoldo wrote: According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil.
Correct. It is all assumption. Not enough to fight to the death over. Always healthy to distinguish between assumptions, hypotheses, evidence and data. That way we don't have to get agro or defensive when challenged but even be willing to discuss, demonstrate, revise.
Yeah, the argument from silence, lack of evidence and data may favor that there was a lack of messianic expectations in the first century. Josephus certainly doesn't indicate that David was a messianic figure of any kind.
The more I looked into the assertions of a messianic movement or similar the more I discovered that the arguments consisted almost entirely of ad hoc explanations for the absence of evidence.

The alternative historical reconstruction, that there was in fact no such movement or expectation, does not rely simply on lack of evidence for the alternative, but also upon the evidence that does exist and the explanations for this evidence within the ancient sources. Example: Josephus mentions a number of wayward movements that came to nothing- - an Egyptian, Theudas. All the tropes Josephus uses in describing these movements echo his uses of the same elsewhere -- and they always indicate prophets and prophetic movements. Josephus sees himself as a prophet. All of this positive evidence makes it more likely that Josephus is attacking these movements as being those of "false-prophets" -- whom he denounces explicitly as false-prophets.

Given this positive evidence, it seems quite unnecessary to simply discard it all and assume instead, on the contrary, that Josephus is describing something else, viz messianic movements, something he never mentions anywhere.

And there is no reason whatever to think that he feared to mention messiahs to his Roman audience. None. He could quite easily have denounced "FALSE" messiahs as he denounced false prophets -- but he never did. Besides, "messiah" would have meant nothing to Romans anyway. And I doubt any would have had any idea that a mention of David implied a messianic successor. Why would they think that? Besides, other writings spoke of a Davidic messiah as a future utopian figure, nothing for the Romans to worry about anyway even if they knew of these.

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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by iskander » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:44 am

arnoldo wrote:...
Yeah, the argument from silence, lack of evidence and data may favor that there was a lack of messianic expectations in the first century. Josephus certainly doesn't indicate that David was a messianic figure of any kind.
Every historian is a collector of facts, wrote a well known historian of our ancient past.

Which facts are there to collect about precisely what? We will choose a very famous king, the great Alexander, conqueror of Persia.
Robin Lane Fox, in his book , Alexander the Great , writes.
" General notes on sources.
For convenience throughout the book, I write many quotations or opinions in the name of Alexander's historians ...
I cannot stress too strongly that all these quotations and opinions are only known at second or third hand, as rephrased by other classical writers often four hundred years later,...
No word or phrase can be assumed to have been retained from the original... "



The sources mentioned by Lane Fox have reached us because dedicated copyists made new copies from the perishing exiting ones, otherwise we would know very little about Alexander. This repeated effort to preserve the history of Alexander may be of no use to anybody since we cannot rule out forgery, interpolations and so on.

Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Penguin; Film Tie-in with Oliver Stone's "ALEXANDER" Ed edition (4 Nov. 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0141020768
ISBN-13: 978-0141020761
Page 499

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arnoldo
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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by arnoldo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:17 am

MrMacSon wrote:
arnoldo wrote:
According to Feldman, Josephus deliberately points out these acts that David engaged in in an effort to parallel similar deeds documented in Homer and Virgil ...
How does this fit with Dennis MacDonald's proposals that "Mark borrowed extensively from the Odyssey and the Iliad, and that he wanted his readers to recognize the Homeric antecedents in Mark’s story of Jesus"? "Mark was composing a prose anti-epic, MacDonald says, presenting Jesus as a suffering hero modelled after but far superior to traditional Greek heroes" in his The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.

The Gospel of Mark "Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero."

MacDonald also proposes that the Homeric Epics are the foundation the Acts of the Apostles.
Feldman writes the following concerning Josephus,
Josephus's Interpretation of the Bible
Josephus show considerable knowledge of Greek literature, in matters both of style and of content, chiefly Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripeds, Herodotus, Thucyldides, Plato, and Aristotle. He is aware that Homer was an oral poet and shows a fondness for certain Homeric expressions, particularly in his account of the binding of Isaac, where his choice of language suggest an attempt to equate Abraham and Priam. He cites Hesiod to explain the extraordinary lifespans of the earliest patriarchs. He is especially indebted to Sophocles for his account of the passing of Moses and of Solomon’s cleverness in judging the cases of the two mothers and in impressing the Queen of Sheba. There are several striking parallels between Josephus’s version of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac and the account of the sacrifice of Ighigenia in Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis. Moreover, Josephus tends to restate the Jewish concept of divine governance in terms of fate as delineated in Herodutus and the Greek tragedians, The influence of Thucydides upon Josephus is particularly profound, especially in his attempt to mold Jewish heroes, notably Moses, in the pattern of Thucydides’ portrait of Pericles, and in his attack on the fickleness of the masses, the selfishness of demagogues, and the catastrophic effects of civil strife. Likewise, Plato’s description of the philosopher-king has influenced Josephus’s portrayal of biblical heroes; and the laws of Plato’s ideal state are viewed as parallel with those given at Sinai.


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arnoldo
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Re: Josephus' Portrait of David

Post by arnoldo » Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:37 pm

Josephus also mentions David's Tomb in Ant., 16:7:1
CHAPTER 7.

HOW, UPON HEROD'S GOING DOWN INTO DAVID'S SEPULCHER, THE SEDITION IN HIS FAMILY GREATLY INCREASED.

1. AS for Herod, he had spent vast sums about the cities, both without and within his own kingdom; and as he had before heard that Hyrcanus, who had been king before him, had opened David's sepulcher, and taken out of it three thousand talents of silver, and that there was a much greater number left behind, and indeed enough to suffice all his wants, he had a great while an intention to make the attempt; and at this time he opened that sepulcher by night, and went into it, and endeavored that it should not be at all known in the city, but took only his most faithful friends with him. As for any money, he found none, as Hyrcanus had done, but that furniture of gold, and those precious goods that were laid up there; all which he took away. However, he had a great desire to make a more diligent search, and to go farther in, even as far as the very bodies of David and Solomon; where two of his guards were slain, by a flame that burst out upon those that went in, as the report was. So he was terribly aftrighted, and went out, and built a propitiatory monument of that fright he had been in; and this of white stone, at the mouth of the sepulcher, and that at great expense also. And even Nicolaus (10) his historiographer makes mention of this monument built by Herod, though he does not mention his going down into the sepulcher, as knowing that action to be of ill repute; and many other things he treats of in the same manner in his book; for he wrote in Herod's lifetime, and under his reign, and so as to please him, and as a servant to him, touching upon nothing but what tended to his glory, and openly excusing many of his notorious crimes, and very diligently concealing them. And as he was desirous to put handsome colors on the death of Mariamne and her sons, which were barbarous actions in the king, he tells falsehoods about the incontinence of Mariamne, and the treacherous designs of his sons upon him; and thus he proceeded in his whole work, making a pompous encomium upon what just actions he had done, but earnestly apologizing for his unjust ones. Indeed, a man, as I said, may have a great deal to say by way of excuse for Nicolaus; for he did not so properly write this as a history for others, as somewhat that might be subservient to the king himself. As for ourselves, who come of a family nearly allied to the Asamonean kings, and on that account have an honorable place, which is the priesthood, we think it indecent to say any thing that is false about them, and accordingly we have described their actions after an unblemished and upright manner. And although we reverence many of Herod's posterity, who still reign, yet do we pay a greater regard to truth than to them, and this though it sometimes happens that we incur their displeasure by so doing.
http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text ... ant16.html

FWIW, David's tomb is also mentioned in Acts 2:29

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