Apr 1, 2011

30 Did Josephus (AD 97) write about Christ

Believer’s statement: The Jewish historian Josephus knew and wrote about Christ in his work Antiquities of the Jews. 

Skeptic’s response: The non-Christian Josephus says “perhaps he was the Messiah.” Other copies of his work are uncompromising: “he was the Messiah.” A Jew, Josephus greatly expected the Messiah deliverer to come and change the fortunes of the Jews. So it's strange that Josephus looks at it in such an offhand manner.

Since Christian writers didn't quote the passage until the early fourth century AD even though they were keen to quote from other portions of Josephus, critics wonder whether the passage was invented in the fourth century. It was when Eusebius, a Christian intellectual, quoted it for the first time. 

Josephus’ “Jesus paragraph” goes as follows:
Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3 At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

Recap: Christians didn't quote the “Jesus passage” before the early fourth century, so critics suspect it was invented and inserted into Josephus' work at that time.

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