rakovsky wrote: ↑
Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:59 am
What do you think of Eisenman's writings and theories?
He thinks Josephus was a closet nonTrinitarian Christian or strong sympathizer.
He thinks this for reasons like the Phil. 20 reference to the same person in the imperial household whom Josephus mentions.
He also thinks that Josephus teacher Banus was likely a follower of John the Baptist.
I'm not so sure of that first thing you understood Eisler to have thought. He may have conceded that it was a possible reason why the text we have exists, but my understanding was that he thought that Josephus had relayed a different story about Jesus that was either unfavorable about him, or something akin to the story as it exists in the Slavonic translation of Josephus' War
where Jesus was a sort of quasi-political figure along with John the Baptist who kept drawing the attention of the authorities for fear of insurrection.
In fact, Robert Eisler was convinced that the "actual" story about John the Baptist and Jesus had been told in a now-lost Aramaic story about the Capture of Jerusalem
. He also believed that this "actual" story was used as a source by the Slavonic translation of Josephus' War
found in central Russia and Ukraine.
However, Eisler gets romantically dreamy about what it may have contained, and held a number of weird ideas about the time and the players in that drama. He imagined itinerant groups of Rechabite priests, not of the families of Levi/Aaron, from which folks like John, Banus and Jesus had sprung, and compared them to Gypsie-like tribes of Arab Bedouins of his day called "sleb" who carved crosses in their foreheads like Charles Manson and his followers did in the 1960s.
A modern in-depth study of the Slavonic translation of Josephus' War
was done by Leeming & Leeming, who concluded the weird John and Jesus stories in it, along with other additions and exclusions, were the musings of semi-pagan Slav nobles who were learning about Christianity through Eastern Orthodox priests and perhaps remnants of a people primarily composed of converts to Judaism known as Khazars. The motivation for this translation was to emphasize the military maneuvers and the back-room politics that characterized the world of pagan Slav and Orthodox Russian medieval warlords.
Josephus as good as says he wrote such a work shortly after the end of the revolt of 66-70 CE (until the Sicarii on Masada were finally overrun in 73 CE, there was always the chance that the rebels could gain foreign support), and it served as the nucleus of the much expanded Greek War
, thought to have been published around 75 CE. This Capture of Jerusalem
had been written as imperial propaganda to be disseminated to Judeans resident in Parthian controlled Mesopotamia to dissuade them from heading to Judea as guerilla fighters or join any Parthian efforts to send in troops to prop up the revolutionaries.
There do appear to have been in Mesopotamia Parthian military units of mounted archers consisting almost entirely of Judeans. Herod had intercepted one such discharged unit of Parthian trained mounted archers headed for Judea for aliyah in his early reign, and successfully convinced them to become his tax-exempt police force in the area later ruled by Herod Philip.
I'm sure that during the rebellion of 66CE+ these type units would have been quite welcomed by some of the revolutionaries, but Josephus mentions nothing of this kind except for Judeans from the Parthian client kingdom of Adiabene. Adiabene is not exactly the same as Mesopotamia, so perhaps a hastily written Aramaic Capture of Jerusalem
was sent back with the members of the royal family of Adiabene who had surrendered on terms to the Roman commanders around the capture of Jerusalem, when these were later allowed to return to their native country. The terms may well have included a requirement to bring with them Josephus' propaganda piece telling in lurid detail how completely the Romans had destroyed the city.
A summary of the principal additions and deletions of books 1-4 of the 5 volume Slavonic translation, when compared to the 7 volume Greek War, is summarized by G. A. Williamson in an Appendix to his Penguin edition English translation of Josephus' War
(pp 396-401). In fact, the full analysis of additions/omissions of Slavonic books 1-4 is in an appendix in vol 3 of 9 of H. St. J. Thackeray's translation of the Works of Josephus (War
books 4-7, pp. 635-660).
The original compiler of the variants of the Slavonic translation died before he got to the final volume of the 5 volume Slavonic War (Slavonic War
vol. 5 condenses vols. 5-7 of the Greek War
). What I may need to do is check that Leeming & Leeming volume out of the library again to study what was left out, and added to, the Slavonic translation when compared to the Greek. An added advantage is that it also compares the version of stories as found in Josephus' Antiquities
, and Life
, where they overlap with Greek or Slavonic War
There is, simply, a LOT to be considered.