I’M GETTING A LOT OF PUSH BACK on something I said in my video “What Romans said about crucifixion.”
I quoted a Roman history writer from the first century who included Jesus in his 20-volume history of the Jews.
Here’s the quote:
“There was a wise man called Jesus, a good person who could work wonders….He attracted many followers – Jews and non-Jews. Pilate, at the request of our [Jewish] leaders, sentenced him to death by crucifixion.” —Josephus (AD 37-about 100), Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 3
Here’s some of the push back. It comes from among the more than 5,000 comments I got in response to the video. You can read them for yourself by searching “Josephus” in the “Comments” section of the YouTube page.
- “You have got to be joking… Josephus is a known forgery. I’ve read some of the comments. You people are not well. Please get help with your delusions.“
- “A warning to all Christians, this guy’s non-biblical sources don’t exist! I’m sorry to say there are no contemporary records of the crucifixion or the events surrounding it. I know he sounds convincing but he’s mixing half-truths and deceiving you, maybe to sell books or elicit other money. Seek out the original documents of his ‘sources’ yourself and you’ll see who’s telling the truth. He and people like him make fools of all Christians—they make you seem ignorant and gullible. Don’t let them do it!”
- “That quote by Josephus is forgery, added later by a Christian.”
- “Bart Ehrman a true bible scholar, listen to him to understand truth about Jesus.”
Jesus of Josephus debunked?
I don’t think I have convinced anyone who doubts Josephus to trust what he says about Jesus. I guess I’m not a good salesman.
These folks have read history writers criticizing one version of the quote that certainly has been debunked. Even Christian scholars agree. It’s a version that makes Josephus sound like a Christian, though he was a Roman citizen and a loyal Jew.
The debunked version, which seems to have been edited by a Christian somewhere along the way, has Josephus suggesting that Jesus was more than a man, and that he was the Messiah.
Other versions of the story simply have Josephus reporting that Pilate crucified Jesus, but that his disciples believed he was the Messiah and that he rose from the dead. This version sounds like an objective reporter telling what he had heard from his sources.
I can’t seem to convince people that the second version is very much in line with what Josephus was reporting about some of the mistakes that Roman governor Pilate made when he ruled the Jewish homeland.
I tell them that most historians accept that Josephus did mention Jesus in some way, though they debate what words he used.
I direct them to Wikipedia for a start: Josephus on Jesus. It reports that scholars debate how much Christians edited the original statement. But it says scholars broadly agree that the core content is authentic.
In addition, “Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference… to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James.”
An agnotic weighs in
Several people commenting about this referred me to Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman, who was a former evangelical Christian but now describes himself as an agnostic.
He weighs in on this topic, too.
“I argue that, contrary to what some people have claimed, the bulk of the paragraph probably was indeed written by Josephus, even though a later Christian scribe has clearly inserted some Christian views into it (about Jesus being the messiah who was raised from the dead in fulfillment of the prophets, views that Josephus himself certainly did not have.)
The second reference…Josephus refers to the summary execution of James, whom he calls ‘the brother of Jesus, who is called the messiah.’ …This brief reference to Jesus seems to presuppose that the reader knows whom he is talking about based on what they have already read. In other words, Josephus is indicating which of the many Jesuses he elsewhere discusses he is referring to now, ‘the one who is called the messiah.’ If that reading of him is correct, then it would mean that he did indeed already discuss Jesus. And that would suggest that the passage of book 18 really does go back to Josephus, it is not a later insertion into his writing (even if a scribe altered it in some ways.)” —Ehrman’s blog, July 9, 2016
I’m hoping that if folks won’t believe me, when I tell them that Josephus did, in fact, write about Jesus, that they’ll believe Wikimedia…or a respected agnostic scholar.
So far, I’m getting “no sale.”
Kenneth w heady
The New Testament is the most well attested document of all ancient antiquity that is a fact even Bart Ehrman says that, so people doubt Jesus existence but they don’t doubt Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great existed even there’s even though there’s way less text reliability for their existence go figure lol
One thing about the internet: A person can find support for whatever reality he or she wants to believe.
But, as we’re finding with our current presidential administration, choosing to believe a certain reality isn’t the same as finding Truth (capital “T”). Finding Truth takes a little work and a lot of humility.
I’ve had more than one person quote me something they heard on “Family Guy” or from Bill Maher’s movie, presuming that if it bucks established beliefs, it must be true.
Stephen M. Miller
I wonder when the Age of Lies began here? I mean persistent, sociopathic, proveable lies.,
Off the top of my head, I can’t take it back much further than when our current president persisted in claiming that President Obama was an African-born Muslim. I actually had to debate that with people in my Bible study. And I wasn’t able to convince them that it was a lie. When people persist in lying, they get a following of people who want to believe the lie.
We need to keep fighting for the Truth. We can never presume that Truth is a given. We have to constantly reveal lies for what they are. Now more than ever, I think.
Personally, I stick with the Occam’s Razor approach: Christianity would have to be one “hum-dinger impressive” conspiracy of success and marketing, that stood the test of time, now wouldn’t it? The defense, rest, your honor. 🙂
These people are professional “Trolls” that spend their lives glued to their sites spewing doubt and hatred on the Christian Faith and the Scriptures. I have found on these sites a plethora of ideas from the denial of the Holocaust, no existence of the town of Nazareth, the forgeries of the New Testament (Bart Ehrman) and the search for the historical Jesus (Borg and Crossan). Thank God for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit which testifies to the truth of the Scriptures. I believe that God is and God has received Himself in the Scriptures. Evidences are nice, but they can only prove that a dead Jew existed who called himself the Son of God and came back to life. Evidences cannot prove that the God of the Scriptures is the true God…..this comes by Faith and the Holy Spirit.
Stephen M. Miller
I try to be respectful to them. But I fail sometimes. I’d really like to punch some of them in their delete button.
Here are two interesting articles, one linked and the other in the link’s comment section about the truth of the historical Jesus. Pretty much one of the best documented people from that far back, and remember, Jerusalem was completely destroyed 35-40 years after his death, probably destroying a lot more history.
people in general seem to enjoy following any other belief than Christianity. I think one reason is because as Christians we see ouselves as sinners in need of forgiveness by an all-loving God. Most people don’t want to give up their life of sin.