Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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lclapshaw
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 1:57 am
lclapshaw wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 12:38 am
Ken Olson wrote: Wed Feb 07, 2024 6:39 am Here is a photoplate of the page containing the Testimonium Flavianum from Codex Ambrosianus 370. You can see the nomen sacrum Chi Sigma with overline near the end of the first line after the break (the eighth line overall). The image is from Robert Eisler's book The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (1931) between pages 58 and 59. I have posted the image on this forum previously, though I think I misidentified it as Niese's manuscript M rather than A.

https://digitallibrary.unicatt.it/vener ... 82800acbda

I don't know of anyplace where an image of a manuscript containing Ant. 20.200 is published (not counting where the manuscripts are themselves online, of course).

Best,

Ken
What I find interesting about the image you posted is that, while the NS XC is being used, the word Christians is written out in full below. I can't seem to locate Iesuos however as the script is difficult for me to follow. Is it written out in full or is the NS being used?

Thanks

Lane
It's written out in full at the very beginning of the fifth line from the top: Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ are the first three words.

Best,

Ken
Ahh yes, I see it now. Thanks.

Lane
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Ken Olson
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Ken Olson »

maryhelena wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 12:43 am
Ken Olson

The TF says any number of things that Josephus the non-Christian Jew is unlikely to have said, which is why I consider it inauthentic.
Ken, have you ever given thought to the idea that Josephus was involved in early Christian origins. After all it's generally assumed that the gospel writers were Jews. Josephus a secret Jewish Christian ? If he was -
then would not a whole different approach be necessary towards the Josephan writings ?
Yes, of course. I have given thought to a lot of things in the quarter century since I first published on the authenticity of the Jesus references in Josephus in 1999. I posted on James Valliant and Warren Fahy's Creating Christ (2016) version of the idea less than two months ago, and you replied two posts down in the thread.

viewtopic.php?p=146927#p146927

As I said there, I think it's crank. The chapter on the Testimonium Flavianum (Part 2, Section 3, p. 288 of my ebook) relies largely on straw men. The authors depend on their audience not knowing the evidence or the state of scholarship and relying on the summaries they present. (I do not know if this is intentionally misleading - it may be that the authors are not very familiar with evidence and method themselves). I do not think they will convince any competent scholars who have actually studies the topic. I do not think they have any evidence either for their particular theory about the Testimonium (Valliant has changed his position on it since) or their general theory about Josephus and the Flavian dynasty creating Gentile Christianity that is not better explained on another theory.

There are a virtually unlimited number of not impossible theories and no one has the time to pursue all of them. You have to pick and choose the theories that seem most plausible and examine those and determine which one seems best.

As for the question of whether Josephus might have been a *Secret* Jewish Christian, well:

1) We have thirty books he wrote that strongly support the theory he was Jewish.

2) We have three lines in his books that might support the claim he was a Christian (Ant. 18.63-64, 20.200).

3) I don't know of any evidence that he was a *Secret* Jewish Christian (or none that could not be better explained otherwise).

Best,

Ken
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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They should rename this thread "Ask Ken About Your Hobby Horse Ideas."
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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I should say I think it is entire appropriate to plumb the depths of Ken's expertise on Josephus which is real. Funny just the same (or so I hope). Waiting for Max Miller https://www.youtube.com/c/tastinghistory to ask how Ken thinks Josephus liked his gefilte fish. Why are there no ancient Jewish cookbooks from antiquity? You don't need a recipe to make awful food.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Thu Feb 08, 2024 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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maryhelena
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by maryhelena »

Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 8:29 am
maryhelena wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 12:43 am
Ken Olson

The TF says any number of things that Josephus the non-Christian Jew is unlikely to have said, which is why I consider it inauthentic.
Ken, have you ever given thought to the idea that Josephus was involved in early Christian origins. After all it's generally assumed that the gospel writers were Jews. Josephus a secret Jewish Christian ? If he was -
then would not a whole different approach be necessary towards the Josephan writings ?
Yes, of course. I have given thought to a lot of things in the quarter century since I first published on the authenticity of the Jesus references in Josephus in 1999. I posted on James Valliant and Warren Fahy's Creating Christ (2016) version of the idea less than two months ago, and you replied two posts down in the thread.

viewtopic.php?p=146927#p146927

As I said there, I think it's crank. The chapter on the Testimonium Flavianum (Part 2, Section 3, p. 288 of my ebook) relies largely on straw men. The authors depend on their audience not knowing the evidence or the state of scholarship and relying on the summaries they present. (I do not know if this is intentionally misleading - it may be that the authors are not very familiar with evidence and method themselves). I do not think they will convince any competent scholars who have actually studies the topic. I do not think they have any evidence either for their particular theory about the Testimonium (Valliant has changed his position on it since) or their general theory about Josephus and the Flavian dynasty creating Gentile Christianity that is not better explained on another theory.

There are a virtually unlimited number of not impossible theories and no one has the time to pursue all of them. You have to pick and choose the theories that seem most plausible and examine those and determine which one seems best.

As for the question of whether Josephus might have been a *Secret* Jewish Christian, well:

1) We have thirty books he wrote that strongly support the theory he was Jewish.

2) We have three lines in his books that might support the claim he was a Christian (Ant. 18.63-64, 20.200).

3) I don't know of any evidence that he was a *Secret* Jewish Christian (or none that could not be better explained otherwise).

Best,

Ken
Thanks for the reply, Ken. Just wanted to get more clarity on your position. My position remains what I said in that thread.

'' What does not make sense is to rule Josephus out of any involvement in the development of what became known as Christianity. I've always maintained that the road forward in understanding Christian origins runs through Josephus. As to be expected it's a road filled with portholes and diversions. Not for the faint of heart...''

Yes, it's a big *if* question but methinks an interesting one to pursue.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 5:25 am New data, courtesy of Martijn Linssen, who found Ant. 20.200 on page 349v (v=verso, or the reverse side) of manuscript A (p. 684 of the digital library online version):

https://digitallibrary.unicatt.it/vener ... 82800acbda

F128 sup. Ant. 20.200.png

In the fourth and fifth lines of the screenshot you can see:

τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ, Ἰά
κωβος ὄνομα αὐτῷ

the brother (of) Jesus the (one) called Christ, Ja
cob (the) name (to) him

So in the earliest known manuscript of Ant. 20.200, the name Jesus and the title Christ are written out in full - there are no nomina sacra used.

Best,

Ken
Thanks, Ken!

This certainly changes things.

But is it too much to suggest this doesn't kill the idea?

We know of many examples of eta -> iota correction of the name of Christ.

I would say that it's less audacious / speculative a suggestion than the very common JP Meier take on the TF, for example.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Peter Kirby »

Ken Olson wrote: Wed Feb 07, 2024 5:50 pm The question about whether it's plausible to think that Josephus wrote chrestus rather than Christus in Ant 20.200 probably deserves further consideration, but my immediate reaction is that the reading chrestus is not significantly more plausible. This is largely because I think Josephus would have to have known that chrestus was a misnomer for Christus and that his Jewish readers (whom he talks about for the Jewish War and would presumably have had for the Antiquities as well) would probably know that too. So I don't think that the reading chrestos really avoids the difficulties of the reading Christos.
Ken Olson wrote: Wed Feb 07, 2024 5:50 pmI suppose one could argue that he did know, but decided to pretend he did not. He suppressed his Jewish sensibilities and disregarded those of his Jewish readers - or he thought they would grasp the subterfuge, or would not be offended because he wrote chrestos instead of Christos even though they probably understood the origin of the word. That is a possibility, but I don't find it a very satisfying one.
Thanks, Ken. And for the rest of your comments. I will give my own immediate reaction, also qualifying it as one.

You're doing exactly what I had hoped this thread could do (among other things): you're re-evaluating the common arguments against the authenticity of a reference to a Jesus called "Christos" in Ant. 20.200, through the fresh lens of seeing if they apply to a Jesus called "Chrestos" in Ant. 20.00. Thank you for that. You have raised some considerations that did not occur to me.

If I may be allowed to paraphrase some of the points made:

Josephus did not call Vespasian the messiah, does not say the oracle was messianic, and didn't specify the scripture.

Josephus wrote a defense of Judaism, and he did not lay aside his Jewish sensibilities.

Since Josephus did not lay aside his Jewish sensibilities, he would not have disregarded those of his Jewish readers.

Implicitly, Jewish readers would be offended by reading what is found in Ant. 20.200, if it read tou legomenou Christou. (This is based on the comment against the idea of "...would not be offended because he wrote chrestos instead of Christos...")

Jews, specifically Jewish readers and Josephus, would have to have known that chrestus was a misnomer for Christus.

Therefore, Jewish readers would be similarly offended by reading what is found in Ant. 20.200, if it read tou legomenou Chrēstou.

Because Josephus would not offend his Jewish readers, Josephus did not write tou legomenou Chrēstou.

Based on this summary, to me it seems that your description of the difficulties here are very different than mine. The biggest difference is this: my "difficulties" were based on not offending or disturbing his non-Jewish readers (described in a previous post). It seems that your difficulties are based on not offending his Jewish readers.

I think I should wait here on your further comment about your ideas of the difficulties involved.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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Peter Kirby wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 10:53 am Thanks, Ken!

This certainly changes things.

But is it too much to suggest this doesn't kill the idea?

We know of many examples of eta -> iota correction of the name of Christ.

I would suggest that it's less audacious / speculative a suggestion than the very common Meier take on the TF, for example.
Peter,

As I understood it, in the OP you were asking about the possibility of the reading chrestos rather than Christos for Ant 20.200 (not that and the TF), right?

No, I don't think it kills the idea because it's imaginable that during the course of transmission it went from chrestos to a NS to Christos. But it would be a lot more plausible if we had a witness from the early AMW group of manuscripts that had the reading chrestos. That is, it would still be imaginable, but it would be a lot more credible if we actually had a manuscript that had chrestos (forgive me if I'm belaboring the obvious).

I take it you are now asking if conjecturally emending the text (i.e., suggesting a reading which has no manuscript attestation) of Ant. 20.200 from Christos to chrestos is less audacious speculative than Meier's conjectural emendation of the TF.

It's very hard to measure how audacious a particular conjectural emendation is (I seem to recall a very good quotation from Housman on this, but I would need some time to locate it). I am suggesting a single conjectural emendation that would remove the entire TF from the Antiquities, whole Meier is suggesting three emendations. My proposal is based on the principle that there are parts of the TF that Meier and other scholars admit Josephus could not have written, but that there is no part that Eusebius could not have written. I think many think I'm making the more audacious proposal because I'm eliminating more words from the text of Antiquities. But I think once admit that the text has been extensively altered (Meier is removing about a third of it by word count - 29 of 89 words IIRC) we've admitted that there are two hands at work - the hand that wrote the Antiquities and the hand of the interpolator and we're trying to decide which of those is more likely to have written the other 60 words.

For many scholars (e.g., Rubio and Mason; Schwartz actually states it) there is an unstated assumption that we should attribute as much of the Testimonium as we can to Josephus. So if we found that some of it is Eusebian, we should still attribute the parts that could be Josephan or Eusebian to Josephus. (I can give examples if you like)

I think your instance might be arguably less audacious than Meier's, but possibly still less strong than either the inauthenticity or authenticity theories. Your proposal is that we can save the text by changing just one letter. Alice Whealey suggested a similar one letter emendation of the Testimonium in her book - changing the word 'truth' to 'strange customs'. She quietly drops this proposal in her subsequent (post me) work, because it seems to acknowledge that there is, in fact, part of the Testimonium which she thought could not reasonably be attributed to Josephus, and that goes against her strategy of arguing for complete authenticity.

So, yes, a one letter change is less audacious than throughly re-writing a text to suit your taste, but it might still very well make the proposal less credible than alternative proposals.

Best,

Ken

PS I looked at the dates of the earliest manuscripts of Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, which quotes Ant. 20.200, to see if they might have an early attestation of the nomen sacrum, but none are earlier than the 10th century, so I don't think they would help to establish early circulation of the nomen sacrum. The Latin and Syriac translations of the HE are earlier, but they won't tell us anything about the transmission of nomina sacra in the Greek text (at least not without making additional assumptions, which would undermine the simplicity of the case).
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Peter Kirby »

Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 am So, yes, a one letter change is less audacious than throughly re-writing a text to suit your taste, but it might still very well make the proposal less credible than alternative proposals.
Of course, and I also think this particular proposal is inherently credible. Not because it's a one letter change, but because it is a change that is widely attested and known to be likely to happen (not 100% necessary - but likely to happen) to the appearance of Chrestos as a name of Jesus. Based on my understanding of the transmission of manuscripts, both of these changes are common:

The eta -> iota correction (but examples of the former are easier to find, due to nomina sacra for the latter):
Chrestian -> Christian or Chrestos -> Christos

The full word -> abbreviation correction:
Christos -> XS

I believe that these two corrections were widespread throughout all periods of transmission of manuscripts by Christian scribes (although the pre-fourth century period isn't very well documented), all the way down to the time we have manuscripts of Josephus. I also believe that these are among the most likely changes to happen independently, so while it's possible that a single manuscript is behind the correction of Chrestos here, it's not the only possibility.

I'm less confident about there being a widespread practice of direct Chrestos -> XS correction, based on my experience so far with relevant examples here. (I may just need to become more familiar with relevant evidence, but that's where I am now.) Accordingly, I would consider first (as a form of the OP's proposal) that the origin of the abbreviation in Ant. 20.200 involved the sequence:

Chrestou -> Christou -> XU

Instead of the sequence that you've outlined (which would posit Chrestou -> XU -> Christou).

This does mean that the initial enthusiasm for finding that an abbreviation is found here in some manuscripts of Josephus was misplaced. It gave me the idea. It doesn't really support it.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by StephenGoranson »

Ken,
Housman, indeed, had much to say about emendations, plausible and otherwise.
In "The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism" (lecture 1921, pub. 1922), though,
admittedly quite out of context [the first word is in italics]:
"....Why is interpolation comparatively uncommon? For the same reason that bullet-wounds are: because the opportunity for it is comparatively uncommon."
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