Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Hi, Ken

Good discussion. I'll need a day or so, since today is an election day here in the trackless wilds and I'll be standing out in the rain holding a sign. I'm told this is vital for the health of the republic. How can I say no?
Ken Olson
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Re: Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Post by Ken Olson »

Ken Olson wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:54 pm I think the statement allegedly from Josephus, but actually probably from Origen, about James' reputation for sanctity that the downfall of Jerusalem was believed to be on account of his death, signals a shift from reliance on Eusebius to inclusion of other sources.
This might need clarification. Here is the entirety of Jerome, De Viris Illustribus 2 (the entry on James):

James, who is called the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just, the son of Joseph by another wife, as some think, but, as appears to me, the son of Mary sister of the mother of our Lord of whom John makes mention in his book, after our Lord's passion at once ordained by the apostles bishop of Jerusalem, wrote a single epistle, which is reckoned among the seven Catholic Epistles and even this is claimed by some to have been published by some one else under his name, and gradually, as time went on, to have gained authority. Hegesippus, who lived near the apostolic age, in the fifth book of his Commentaries, writing of James, says

After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels' knees.

He says also many other things, too numerous to mention. Josephus also in the 20th book of his Antiquities, and Clement in the 7th of his Outlines mention that on the death of Festus who reigned over Judea, Albinus was sent by Nero as his successor. Before he had reached his province, Ananias the high priest, the youthful son of Ananus of the priestly class, taking advantage of the state of anarchy, assembled a council and publicly tried to force James to deny that Christ is the son of God. When he refused Ananius ordered him to be stoned. Cast down from a pinnacle of the temple, his legs broken, but still half alive, raising his hands to heaven he said, Lord forgive them for they know not what they do. Then struck on the head by the club of a fuller such a club as fullers are accustomed to wring out garments with — he died. This same Josephus records the tradition that this James was of so great sanctity and reputation among the people that the downfall of Jerusalem was believed to be on account of his death. He it is of whom the apostle Paul writes to the Galatians that No one else of the apostles did I see except James the brother of the Lord, and shortly after the event the Acts of the apostles bear witness to the matter. The Gospel also which is called the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and which I have recently translated into Greek and Latin and which also Origen often makes use of, after the account of the resurrection of the Saviour says, but the Lord, after he had given his grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James (for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he drank the cup of the Lord until he should see him rising again from among those that sleep) and again, a little later, it says 'Bring a table and bread,' said the Lord. And immediately it is added, He brought bread and blessed and broke and gave to James the Just and said to him, 'my brother eat your bread, for the son of man is risen from among those that sleep.' And so he ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years, that is until the seventh year of Nero, and was buried near the temple from which he had been cast down. His tombstone with its inscription was well known until the siege of Titus and the end of Hadrian's reign. Some of our writers think he was buried in Mount Olivet, but they are mistaken.
https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm

The material about Hegesippus, including the qoutation, and the mention of Clement's Outlines, and the Josephus material prior to the highlighted claim seem all to have come from the second book of the Ecclesiastical History and we have no need to suppose that Jerome looked them up in the original sources. He's taking the material second hand from Eusebius. He then shifts to other sources. The highlighted portion would appear to have been taken from Origen Commentary on Matthew 10.17:

And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in twenty books, wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ.https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101610.htm

The later bit about James in the Gospel of Hebrews Jerome claims to have read and translated himself, though he acknowledges that Origen knew of the work.

Best,

Ken
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Greetings, Ken

I am happy to report that the republic seems to have survived my marginal participation in yesterday's election. Thank you for your patience with the delay.
Ken Olson wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:54 pm ...
Two points here. They're not necessarily probative for the authenticity of the James passage, by may conribute to how we think about what Eusebius is up to and how he uses his sources.
Fine.
(1) I don't think there was a garden-variety 'would they die for a lie?' argument before Eusebius. I think he's the originator of the argument (or he planted the garden), as discussed previously in this thread from 2017:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3366
Like most of Eusebius's ideas, we find the seed for it in Origen:
Even if it were the case that nobody used the argument before Eusebius, that would not change its character. But we would seem to agree that Origen writes

Will Celsus have the former to be true, but the latter, although recorded by eye-witnesses who showed by their acts that they clearly understood the nature of what they had seen, and who manifested their state of mind by what they cheerfully underwent for the sake of His Gospel, to be inventions?

That's all there is to the argument, directly and economically expressed.

Eusebius devotes more words to the argument than Origen, but Origen has a specific opponent in mind with whom he has been carrying on a virtual dialog when we reach the bolded statement. Therefore, Origen enjoys a context in which he need not specify yet again which "eye-witnesses" he is talking about.

In contrast, Eusebius, talking to himself as it were, makes his list (he is, after all, famous for his lists). He indulges in more rhetorical ornamentation than Origen, but the two apologists are nearly tied for the meager amount of evidence each offers for their shared fact claim that individuals qualified to know first-hand the truth of the Christian narrative died as a result of clinging to that truth.
(2) While James may be one among others who died for the lie, if his death were reported in Josephus, who Eusebius likes to cite in the DE as an outside source to back up his Christian sources, his omission here is at least a little bit odd.
There's no arguing about tastes. I admire the rhetorical focus of a guy sticking to the argument he has chosen to offer here and now, while allowing Josephus to have his (corrupted) say elsewhere. You don't see it that way. Fair enough.
'For all we know ... that much is true?' This seems awfully credulous.
Why credulous? The American idiom doesn't pretend to prove the applicable fact claim. In context, we have Jerome's unrebutted testimony (acknowledged to be subject to interpretation) about what sources support Jerome's story about James. The idiom in no way rules out that Jerome may be mistaken or that his presentation of what he recalls about Clement and Josephus depends on his agreement with Eusebius about those earlier authors.

We seem to agree that Jerome has acknowledged his general debt to Eusebius in the preface (If I can all it that) of the book.
Alice Whealey thinks Jerome is taking the Testimonium Flavianum from Eusebius HE (one of the places I agree with her).
I have no problem with that.
I think the statement allegedly from Josephus, but actually probably from Origen, about James' reputation for sanctity that the downfall of Jerusalem was believed to be on account of his death, signals a shift from reliance on Eusebius to inclusion of other sources.
There are two distinct claims, both found in Origen, both supposedly according to Josephus. (1) James's death caused the fall. (2) Unspecified people other than Josephus believed (1) to be true. I found it interesting that Jerome chose (2).

I agree that that could be described as inclusion, even engagement with, sources other than Eusebius.
But why do you think his source for what he says about Hegesippus, Clement or Josephus (barring the one statement he takes from Origen) is anything but Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, book II? Why think Jerome is verifying Eusebius references rather than just relying on Eusebius?
That doesn't sound much like what I think. It is clear to me that Jerome does sometimes rely on his unverified memory, and his embrace of EH may be nothing more than agreement between it and what he remembers of other works. On the other hand, his memory isn't necessarily always wrong, and I simply don't know (and don't know any way to find out) what, if anything, Jerome may have checked afresh or recently before he wrote.

(I think that that also covers your clarification post.

I'll add that in general, if two incompatible hypotheses "approximate" each other, have similar observable consequences, then it usually requires lots of high quality evidence to distinguish between them with confidence. Taking an intermediate source second-hand and having an independent recollection which agrees with the intermediate source approximate each other. IMO, the amount and quality of potentially distinguishing evidence are poor.)
Ken Olson
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Re: Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Post by Ken Olson »

Paul the Uncertain wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 3:53 am
But why do you think his source for what he says about Hegesippus, Clement or Josephus (barring the one statement he takes from Origen) is anything but Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, book II? Why think Jerome is verifying Eusebius references rather than just relying on Eusebius?
That doesn't sound much like what I think. It is clear to me that Jerome does sometimes rely on his unverified memory, and his embrace of EH may be nothing more than agreement between it and what he remembers of other works. On the other hand, his memory isn't necessarily always wrong, and I simply don't know (and don't know any way to find out) what, if anything, Jerome may have checked afresh or recently before he wrote.

(I think that that also covers your clarification post).

I'll add that in general, if two incompatible hypotheses "approximate" each other, have similar observable consequences, then it usually requires lots of high quality evidence to distinguish between them with confidence. Taking an intermediate source second-hand and having an independent recollection which agrees with the intermediate source approximate each other. IMO, the amount and quality of potentially distinguishing evidence are poor.)
Okay, got it. You're not claiming that Jerome verified the references in Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement. I would allow that he has read at least some of Josephus in the past, though whether that plays a role in what he says here is another matter.

But when you say 'his embrace of EH may be nothing more than agreement between it and what he remembers of other works' you seem to be implying that we should think that what Jerome says has been influenced by his memory of those works (Hegesippus, Josephus, Clement) which he read directly. Do you have specific evidence of this influence? It seems to me that what he says can be entirely explained by his dependence on Eusebius HE Book II without remainder.

This is where Occam's razor comes in. We need the theory that Jerome is dependent on Eusebius HE. The theory that his testimony in DVI 2 has also been influenced by his reading of Hegesippus, Josephus, or Clement is possible, but not necessary.

Best,

Ken
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Ganging up On Josephus James Ganghymn Style. The Argument Against Josephus James.

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Greetings, Ken
Ken Olson wrote: Sun Sep 18, 2022 6:10 am ...
Okay, got it. You're not claiming that Jerome verified the references in Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement. I would allow that he has read at least some of Josephus in the past, though whether that plays a role in what he says here is another matter.
Yes.
But when you say 'his embrace of EH may be nothing more than agreement between it and what he remembers of other works' you seem to be implying that we should think that what Jerome says has been influenced by his memory of those works (Hegesippus, Josephus, Clement) which he read directly. Do you have specific evidence of this influence? It seems to me that what he says can be entirely explained by his dependence on Eusebius HE Book II without remainder.
I recommend that we should think it is seriously possible that Jerome read widely in literature relevant to what he himself wrote about, and that when he mentions a specific work or author it is seriously possible that his reading included what he mentions. Such reading, if it occurred, would plausibly have some influence on his recollections.

That his recall was sometimes wrong doesn't exclude that he might at other times have been correct. As for those times, if any, it would be hard from paraphrase and mash-up to distinguish among: (a) he remembered correctly, (b) he relied solely on some intermediate source that offered accurate information, (c) he relied on the agreement of his recollection with some accurate intermediate source, or (d) he checked directly with the named source. All the more difficult when some of the mash is no longer extant, or even to know whether or not he really is correct about its content.
This is where Occam's razor comes in. We need the theory that Jerome is dependent on Eusebius HE. The theory that his testimony in DVI 2 has also been influenced by his reading of Hegesippus, Josephus, or Clement is possible, but not necessary.
I don't see the Occam issue any more than I saw the credulousness issue earlier. I am not accepting nor assuming that Jerome's accounting of the sources he mentions is correct or that it reflects some level of diligence in verification, but rather I am pointing out the uncertainty of the matter.

You and I both accept the proposition that Jerome depends on Eusebius to some useful extent. If that's what we need, then we have that much. Nothing is taken from us by my asking a follow-up question.
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