Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Secret Alias »

Goldberg's idea of some sort of correction going on between Jerome's text and our text is worth considering:
(C14) the Christ (τὸν Χριστὸν/ὁ χριστὸς)
When his biblical source contains ‘the Lord’s anointed’, Josephus never adopts the Septuagint’s noun χριστὸς (‘one anointed’), but replaces it instead with a more common expression, such as ‘appointed by God’.42 He does use the verb ‘anoint’ (χρίω) ten times in kingship ceremonies where he makes clear its function, and at least once he avoids χριστὸς by using the verb instead. Because he had a standard way of rendering it that elucidates its sense, not doing so for the tf would indicate Christos was a term with its own significance to his readers and cannot be avoided. The meaning of Christos to the average Roman reader of Josephus in the 90s ce might be gleaned from Tacitus, writing some two decades later (Ann. 15.44), which indicates then Josephus’s readers would have been aware that the Christians had been named after a real person in Judea, Christos. It isn’t unreasonable to suppose Josephus composed the tf with the majority of his readers in mind.

Remarks of the same composition as ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν are found in Josephus’s works.43 Examples are Ant. 20.179, ‘This was Phabi’s son’ (Φαβεῖ παῖς οὗτος ἦν); Ant. 2.229 (Ἁβράμου δὲ οὗτος ἦν); Ant. 18.3, (Boethus’s son) and 12.238 (Onias’ brother); and, with regard to titles, Ant. 19.301, ‘This was the ruler of Syria’ (ἡγεμὼν δὲ τῆς Συρίας οὗτος ἦν); Ant. 17.16, 18.240, 20.81; and War 2.450, 6.305, 7.216. These are always Josephus’s phrasing and not present in his source. Thus, stylistically, this phrase is consistent with a revision by Josephus.

The presence of the definite article coupled with a familiarity with Christian history has led most translators to render the tf’s ὁ χριστὸς as a title, ‘the Christ’, or even ‘the Messiah,’ even though it can also be taken as a name, in accordance with definite article usage in Greek. The proposal that Christos in the tf is simply intended to be understood as a personal name goes back at least to William Whiston.44 The question is whether the article originated with Emmaus, where it also appears. Pelletier has studied the question of whether Josephus follows his source in using the definite article. Where the Letter of Aristeas includes the definite article with the name of a person, Pelletier has found that, ninety percent of the time, Josephus also does so in his corresponding paraphrase. ‘The Demetrios’ (ὁ Δημήτριος), for example, appears twice in Aristeas (301 and 308), and is copied both times by Josephus (Ant. 12.103 and 12.107). Pelletier gives 10 such examples, including Aristeas 304/12.105 (‘the’ Dorotheus) and 41/12.51 (‘the’ Eleazar), while only once is Aristeas’s article omitted. Conversely, in sixteen out of the seventeen instances where Aristeas does not use the definite article, Josephus again follows suit.45 This practice shows Josephus would have no problem with copying the article from Emmaus while allowing the tf phrase to be understood as ‘This was Christos’, in which he calls on the reader’s recognition of the name.

I will comment here on just two of the questions that have been raised concerning this phrase. Many commentators have noted it seems out of context, which some have taken as evidence of interpolation, others of genuineness.46 I note that Emmaus has two descriptions of the followers’ opinion of Jesus, that they ‘hoped’ he would ‘redeem Israel’ and that they are ‘to believe’ (πιστεύειν) the prophecies that he was ‘the Christ’. It would have been characteristic for Josephus to condense these and group them thematically with his remark about Jesus’s teaching a receptive audience.47 This process can have led to C12, C13 and the Christos phrase in their current locations. I discuss further the ‘redeem Israel’ phrase below (after C20).

This leads to the next question. Jerome’s Latin version of the Testimonium (De viris illustribus 13) translates as, ‘He had many Judeans and gentiles as his followers and was believed to be [credebatur esse] Christus.’48 Many commentators have proposed that this may reflect an original form of the tf and that a later Christian editor removed ‘believed to be’.49 As just noted, Emmaus also has ‘believe’ in association with Christos, suggesting Josephus can have adopted it and arrived at the construction referenced by Jerome. If so, however, there are reasons to conjecture that Josephus himself was the one to later alter the text. First, the received text conforms to his style. More significantly, Jerome’s version does not make much sense outside of Jewish and Christian circles. For if the majority of Josephus’s readers did indeed consider Christos to be the name of a historical person, then they would be perplexed by the assertion that one real person (Jesus) was ‘believed to be’ another real person (Christos). A puzzled audience response in public readings, then, can have led Josephus to make the most expedient change, the removal of ‘believed to be’ before official publication. While a better solution may have been ‘he was called ho Christos,’ similar to Ant. 20.200,50 this has neither textural witnesses nor support as an Emmaus paraphrase; and it still requires the activity of an unknown editor to obtain the current text. If Jerome’s does represent an earlier version, the proposal of a final edit by Josephus is the parsimonious solution.
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Ken Olson
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Ken Olson »

StephenGoranson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 12:44 pm 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."
Stephen,

Yes, I know the piece. There are several gems in there. But the particular quotation I was looking for is this one from Vol. V of his edition of Manilius:

The merits essential to a correction are those without which it
cannot be true, and closeness to the mss is not one of them; the indispensable things are fitness to
the context and propriety to the genius of the author. The question whether the error presupposed
was great or small is indeed a question to be asked, but it is the last question

Best,

Ken
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Peter Kirby
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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 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?
That's right.
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amNo, 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.
Yes, it is (but see above).
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amBut it would be a lot more plausible if we had a witness from the early AMW group of manuscripts that had the reading chrestos.
I think that it already meets the threshold of real, reasonable and substantial, plausibility.

I would agree that it would be significantly more probable if we had that.
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amThat 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 would say that it's more than imaginable. I consider that it is plausible, and that it is "credible" in the sense that it is not obviously inferior to the other two main hypotheses (interpolation in its various forms, or a Christos reference). For example, I think that if the interpolation theories regarding Ant. 20.200 are going to be called credible, then this correction theory should be too.
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amIt'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.
All true.

The very short story: my comment was distracting from the discussion here.

The slightly longer story here: whether you or Meier have proposals that are less audacious on the TF (it's not something I'm commenting on), I think that both are considerably more so than this correction hypothesis. Which is to say, the prior probability (which may be read as: inherent plausibility) of this type and level of correction seems high. Where you and/or Meier shine is on the evidence of the passage itself, rather than how regularly an interpolation of this nature happens. The evidence of the TF passage itself overcomes any kind of initial presumption or prior probability of total authenticity of a passage here, at least IMO.

But again, probably a distraction.
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amYour 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'.
Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 11:44 amSo, 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.
Discussed in the previous post.
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Peter Kirby
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Peter Kirby »

Ken Olson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 12:58 pm Yes, I know the piece. There are several gems in there. But the particular quotation I was looking for is this one from Vol. V of his edition of Manilius:

The merits essential to a correction are those without which it
cannot be true, and closeness to the mss is not one of them; the indispensable things are fitness to
the context and propriety to the genius of the author. The question whether the error presupposed
was great or small is indeed a question to be asked, but it is the last question

I'm not sure whether this would commend or condemn the proposal here. :D
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by rgprice »

I'll ask one last time. Why did the scribes use nomina sacra for Christ but not for Jesus?
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DCHindley
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by DCHindley »

I once ran across a man while conducting business one day, who was absolutely sure that Josephus was a Christian and had actually testified about Jesus Christ in Antiquities (the subject of James never came up).

When I asked where he had seen that stated, and he referred me to the essays that Whiston had included at the end of his Works of Josephus.

That was the first time I had read those "Dissertations" (they are, let's face it, kind of kooky), as Whiston was absolutely as convinced of this "fact" as that man was.

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

Post by Secret Alias »

Since Jesus's "excellence" is hinted at in the first part of the TF isn't it at least possible to render the passage:

"At this time, Jesus became a wise man, if indeed it is right to call him a man. He was a doer of astonishing deeds, a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He attracted many Jews and many Greeks also. He was this excellent man/he was excellent."

Compare

ὁ χρηστὸς οὗτος υἱὸς περιεῖδε τὸν αὑτοῦ πατέρα καὶ ζῶντα τῶν ἀναγκαίων σπανίζοντα καὶ τελευτήσαντ ̓ οὐ τυχόντα τῶν νομίμων

this excellent son did not see to it when his own father was still alive and short of necessities , nor when he was dead and not receiving his rites

https://books.google.com/books?id=Xo5OA ... 22&f=false
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Ken Olson
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by Ken Olson »

rgprice wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 1:17 pm I'll ask one last time. Why did the scribes use nomina sacra for Christ but not for Jesus?
I do not know.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by StephenGoranson »

One possible factor:
Jesus was a common name.
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Re: Did Josephus say that Jesus was called Chrēstos?

Post by rgprice »

StephenGoranson wrote: Thu Feb 08, 2024 1:45 pm One possible factor:
Jesus was a common name.
True, but in other works they use nomina sacra for Jesus when it applies to Jesus Christ, but not when it applied to a different Jesus, like Jesus son of Nun.
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