The first name of Hyrcanus II.

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Ben C. Smith
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The first name of Hyrcanus II.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:53 pm

Subject: The connection of John with wilderness preceded the Gospels
maryhelena wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 7:43 am
Another perspective.


Greg Doudna

IS JOSEPHUS’S JOHN THE BAPTIST PASSAGE A
CHRONOLOGICALLY DISLOCATED
STORY OF THE DEATH OF HYRCANUS II
?

As I implied in the Christian Texts and History forum, in reply to this post, this article was a fun read. Its argument depends, however, upon the first name of Hyrcanus II, absent from Josephus, being John (implied Greek Ἰωάννης). Doudna states that his first name is commonly thought to be John, due to the practice of papponymy (naming a male child after his grandfather), a practice which I can confirm to have happened a fair bit in the Hasmonean line.

But this supposition in the article jogged something in my memory, and I went looking. It seems that a lot of scholars actually think that the first name of Hyrcanus II was Jonathan (implied Greek Ἰωνάθης), not John. On page 87 of “A Note on Hasmonean Coin-Legends, Heber and Rosh Heber,” in Palestine Exploration Quarterly, volume 97, number 1 (1965), for example, Daniel Sperber inscribes Hyrcanus II as Jonathan on a table of Hasmonean rulers. Or, more recently:

Daniel Machiela, “A Brief History of the Second Temple Period Name ‘Hyrcanus,’” in the Journal of Jewish Studies, volume 61, number 1 (Spring 2010), page 133:

The son of Alexander Yannai (Jannaeus) and Alexandra Salome, and grandson of John Hyrcanus I, Hyrcanus II is referred to by Josephus only under the name ‘Hyrcanus’. However, based on numismatic legends it appears likely that he presented himself to his own people under a Hebrew name: ‘Jonathan’ (ינטן or יהונטן).*

* Meshorer, A Treasury of Jewish Coins, 31–32, 47–48, 283–293. For a defence of the opinion that some coins bearing the name ‘Jonathan’ refer to Hyrcanus II, and not Alexander Yannai (whose full Hebrew name was also Jonathan), see especially 31–32. Aside from the name, the legends are typically identical to the coins of John Hyrcanus I (cf. n. 59). The fact that both Hyrcanus I and II are regularly called ‘John’ in modern treatments unnecessarily obscures the fact that they bore different Hebrew names.

I believe the names John and Jonathan were sometimes confused; I am pretty sure I have seen Jonathan at a spot in Whiston's translation of Josephus where the Greek has Ἰωάννης; and of course one can readily see the similarity between Ἰωάννης and Ἰωνάθης in Greek, not to mention between יוחנן or יהוחנן and ינטן or יהונטן in Hebrew.

But, if Hyrcanus II was really named Jonathan instead of John, this datum would put at least a little bit of a damper on Doudna's argument, I think.

Does anyone have any further information on this matter?

Thanks.

Ben.

ETA: Should have included this passage from Doudna:

Gregory L. Doudna, “Is Josephus’s John the Baptist Passage a Chronologically Dislocated Story of the Death of Hyrcanus II?," in Biblical Narratives, Archaeology, and Historicity: Essays in Honour of Thomas L. Thompson, page 123:

The name ‘John’ for Hyrcanus II has not, however, gone unchallenged. In a 1987 article Tal Ilan noted that there is no ancient attestation of a Hebrew name for Hyrcanus II, questioned whether Hyrcanus II had a Hebrew name, and if he did, challenged the assumption that it must have been ‘John’ (Ilan 1987). Yet while it is true there is no confirmed attestation of a Hebrew name for Hyrcanus II, it seems unwarranted to suppose he did not have one. If it were not for coins, it would not be known that the final Hasmonean king, Antigonus, had a Hebrew name, Mattathias. Hyrcanus II minted no coins according to the most current information.*

* It has been conclusively ruled out that any of the ‘John high priest’ Hasmonean coins can be attributed to Hyrcanus II (Hendin 1991: 6). It has also separately nearly been ruled out that any of the ‘Jonathan high priest’ Hasmonean coins can be attributed to Hyrcanus II (Hendin and Shachar 2008). Nor are any other coins attributed to Hyrcanus II. A reasonable explanation for why Hyrcanus II minted no coins is that, except for c. 67 BCE when he was king for only a few months according to Josephus — too brief to mint coins — Hyrcanus II held no civil authority other than as ethnarch and therefore was in no position to mint coins (see Sharon 2017).

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StephenGoranson
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Re: The first name of Hyrcanus II.

Post by StephenGoranson » Tue Aug 18, 2020 2:50 am

a) Tal Ilan, besides in her JQR 78 (1987-8) article, in her 2002 extensive Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part I Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE (TSAJ 91) p. 12 continued to hold that some Hasmoneans “only had a Greek name,” e.g. Hyrcanus II (p. 350).
b) Herod the Great apparently had only a Greek name.
c) If Hyrcanus II had a Hebrew name, would it be likely that Josephus would know and give it?
d) Given uncertainty that he had a Hebrew name, assuming any particular Hebrew name for Hyrcanus II may be a big “if.” Options are John, Jonathan, or something else--*or none at all.*

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The first name of Hyrcanus II.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:31 am

Makes sense. Thanks, Stephen.
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