Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Absolutely Unmistakably Clear Proof that the Josephan Corpus Began Its Life as Second Century Christian Corruption

This is a third in a series of posts that will eventually become a published monograph on the subject of whether the Josephan corpus began as an Antonine Christian corruption.  We began with the realization that Clement of Alexandria was using a historical text by a 'Josephus the Jew' who wrote during the tenth year of Antoninus's reign.  Then as a second line of proof I brought forward Turner's article demonstrating that Eusebius and Epiphanius used the work of a Church historian who calculated events in the Jerusalem Church from the tenth year of the reign of Antoninus.  I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this chronologist was the figure known from the writings of Eusebius as 'Hegesippus the Jew.'

I also demonstrated how it is universally recognized that the specific form 'Hegesippus' is an adaptation to the phonetics of Greek, to make the name sound Greek (not Latin). It is an artificial name made up by whoever edited this version of Josephus called Hegesippus.

The most important thing that came from these two lines of proof was that the text that Eusebius identifies in the fourth century as a 'memoir' belonging to 'Hegesippus' was identified by Clement and Origen as a Jewish historical text written by a 'Josephus.'

Whether it is Eusebius's Hegesippus and Clement and Origen's 'Josephus' this is a Jew who wrote a chronology in the tenth year of Antoninus Pius.

Now some of the hundred or so people who actually read this thread and parallel posts at my blog did question one thing - how could anyone in antiquity have bought such a stupid story that there were two 'Jewish Josephs' - i.e. one who was a general at the time of the Jewish war and another who was a Jew or a Jewish convert to Christianity who lived and wrote in the tenth year of Antoninus?

These respondents argued that the whole idea at the heart of pseudo-Hegesippus - i.e. a narrative about a first century Josephus by a second century Josephus - was ridiculous and PROVED beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pseudo-Hegesippus tradition was a fake.  Our accepted text of Jewish War which purports to be directly from the hand of the first century Josephus (or at least through the assistance of synergoi) makes more sense and better explains the surviving narrative.

At first glance these respondents certainly seem write.  If someone wrote a history of the Jewish War it would be a far more authoritative text if it were written as close to the events as possible.  The historical work in the hands of Clement of Alexandria purporting to be from 'Josephus the Jew' who wrote in the tenth year of Antoninus couldn't possibly be as authoritative as the chronology by Justus of Tiberias, who was an eyewitness to major events in the war.

But then again, I thought to myself - there certainly were historical works written about the exploits of Alexander the Great and various other figures which were written more than seventy seven years after the events they describe.  Aelian wrote about Alexander in the second century BCE.  Arrian in the late first century CE.

So why is it so impossible that the Josephan material began life as a second century Christian text written about a first century Jew named Joseph by a second century Jew named Joseph?  The Josephus we all know and love could still have written a historical narrative.  All that I am suggesting is that was lost like Justus's text and moreover that all our existing Josephan material is actually an outgrowth of the literary productivity of the second century Josephus.

Sounds crazy right?  But what's so crazy about it.  Clement absolutely certainly used the work of this second century Josephus.  It is highly probable that Origen did too.  Where are all the other references to Josephus among the non-Alexandrian Ante-Nicene Church Fathers?  They don't exist.

The first person to cite 'our' Josephus is Eusebius in the fourth century and curiously he deliberately distinguishes Clement and Origen's 'Josephus' as 'Hegesippus' which again is an adaptation to the phonetics of Greek, to make the name 'Joseph' sound Greek.

A number of people have theorized that Epiphanius had a hand in creating Josephus.  We are now standing on a very persuasive proof that confirms that suspicion and in fact takes matters one step further.

There cannot be an objection to the idea that Clement and Origen's 'second century Josephus' shows up in the historical record before the closely related text cited by Eusebius as a work direct from the hand of the first century Josephus with no reference to this 'second century Josephus.'

But can we PROVE that our familiar texts claimed to be written by the first century Josephus were really edited versions of the original work known to Clement as coming from the hand of the second century Josephus?

Well, not exactly but we can something almost as good.  We can prove that the understanding Clement had reflects the narrative common to both literary traditions - i.e. the one which is now called Pseudo-Hegesippus and is identified as being written by a secondary Josephus figure (the date of his writing is never specified) about the first century Josephus and which in turn was responsible for the Slavonic Josephus, the Yosippon, the Ethiopic and Syrian narratives AND the various 11th through to 14th century manuscripts of the familiar Josephan narratives where 'the first century Josephus speaks directly to us.

In other words, all the Josephus material (whether written by the first century Josephus or the other guy with the same name) has an underlying similarity.  The Pseudo-Hegesippus material happens to date from the fourth century and has this 'other guy Josephus.'  But there can be no doubt that there is an underlying common ancestor which dates back to a period before the fourth century.

Now it is interesting to note that as the Pseudo-Hegesippus material was being translated into Slavonic and Hebrew 'the other Josephus' got 'lost in translation.'   In other words, the text removes this 'second Josephus' and mirrors the familiar idea of the first century Josephus speaking directing to us without intermediary.

It can't be denied - having the first century Josephus as our narrator suddenly makes everything about the writing seem suddenly more authoritative.  We as students of history like our source better.  We feel more confident that what we are reading actually happened in real history.

But so what?

This is what is wrong with scholarship.  There is an unconscious human need to believe that what we are engaged in isn't a complete waste of time.  So scribes, historians and general readers often unconsciously do their best to make activities they are involved in 'have meaning.'

In this case I am suggesting that things were taken one step further - i.e. that an original narrative known to Clement which featured a 'second century Josephus narrator figure' who definitely was a rabid Christian - was ultimately edited out of the narrative to make it sound 'more realistic' for critical minds living in an age where Christianity had already conquered the world.

In short, no one needed a Christian Josephus narrator any longer telling us how to interpret history 'the Christian way.'  History itself had fully converted to Christianity.

Why am I so confident?  Well that's what's been buzzing through my head all day.  I just remembered that almost the whole of the Jewish War is written in the third person.  As Steve Mason notes:

Evidently, his account of himself, written in the third person, focused upon his character: after describing his ancestry and upbringing, he interspersed the story of his actions with notices about his many virtues, and then he concluded the whole with a summary of his character (Misch 1950:1,307.13)

The usual explanation of this shift to the third person voice is that it was used by classical Greek writers like Thucydides and Polybius.  But this is utterly absurd.  Josephus was a Jew and not a Greek.  Even by the standard account of Josephus his work was originally written in Aramaic in the early 70's to warn Syrian Jews that it was futile to join the revolt against Rome. After the war an expanded version was translated into Greek by the synergoi (75-79 CE).

The point is that Josephus himself could not have been influenced by the classical Greek authors and there is no tradition of writing in the third person for historical eyewitnesses in Latin or Aramaic.  If anyone was responsible for putting Josephus in the third person it was the so-called 'synergoi' and whether they wrote in the late first century or - as the 'second Josephus' hypothesis dictates the middle of the second century, it was they - or him - who introduced the idea of reducing 'the first century Josephus' to a character in the greater narrative.

If 'first century Josephus' we know - i.e. the guy who was on the ground attempting to preserve the peace in Judea - really wrote the Jewish War that we have you'd expect the kind of thing you get in Vita where first century Josephus is speaking in the first person:

The family from which I am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests; and as nobility among several people is of a different origin, so with us to be of the sacerdotal dignity, is an indication of the splendor of a family. Now, I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but from the first of the twenty-four courses; and as among us there is not only a considerable difference between one family of each course and another, I am of the chief family of that first course also; nay, further, by my mother I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asamoneus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood, and the dignity of a king, for a long time together. I will accordingly set down my progenitors in order. My grandfather's father was named Simon, with the addition of Psellus: he lived at the same time with that son of Simon the high priest, who first of all the high priests was named Hyrcanus. This Simon Psellus had nine sons, one of whom was Matthias, called Ephlias: he married the daughter of Jonathan the high priest, which Jonathan was the first of the sons of Asamoneus, who was high priest, and was the brother of Simon the high priest also. This Matthias had a son called Matthias Curtus, and that in the first year of the government of Hyrcanus: his son's name was Joseph, born in the ninth year of the reign of Alexandra: his son Matthias was born in the tenth year of the reign of Archclaus; as was I born to Matthias in the first year of the reign of Caius Caesar. I have three sons: Hyrcanus, the eldest, was born in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian, as was Justus born in the seventh, and Agrippa in the ninth. Thus have I set down the genealog of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me [Vita 1]

Indeed what makes our received Jewish War such a schizophrenic account is that 'Josephus' not only speaks about himself in the third person but also as Schwartz notes he speaks about the Jews in the third person which he argues "sounds strange for Josephus" and suits better a Gentile author (Schwartz Josephus and Nicholas p. 159).  Can we start to see that these might be remnants of the original second century CHRISTIAN narrator Josephus that weren't all removed?

My point here is that it is only because most of you haven't read the Pseudo-Hegesippus narrative from beginning to end that you can't see how it PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt - when coupled with Clement's witness of a 'second century Christian Josephus' narrator - that the reason why much of familiar Jewish War narrative in OUR RECEIVED TEXT is written in the third person IS BECAUSE IT WAS WRITTEN BY THE 'SECOND JOSEPHUS' - the guy who lived in the third century.  Our received text results from a fourth century author 'purifying' that narrative of the ridiculous 'second Josephus' narrator - immediately making it seem a more authoritative account of what happened in Judea in 66 - 70 CE.

I will stop here before I go on to cite the common third person narrative that pervades the received Jewish War narrative and the Pseudo-Hegesippus text AND ASK YOU TO DECIDE WHICH BETTER EXPLAINS ITS DEVELOPMENT (i.e. that the Aramaic speaking Josephus was 'imitating' classical Greek authors like Thucydides or that it is a purified remnant of Clement's Josephus narrative).  For the moment I would just like to close by introducing you to the whole concept of having a 'second Josephus' narrating the account of 'first century Josephus's' involvement in the Jewish War.

I will cite extensively from Heinz Schreckenberg's introduction to the Pseudo-Hegesippus narrative in Jewish historiography and iconography in early and Medieval.  Enjoy!

So-called Hegesippus (Pseudo-Hegesippus), a Latin paraphrase of the Greek War written about 370 (making use also of 1 Maccabees, Lucanus, Suetonius and Tacitus) is preserved among the writings of Ambrose, but the identity of the author remains hypothetical. By introducing a Christian standpoint, the paraphraser changes Josephus' own portrayal, indeed already in the prologue he distances himself from his source (consortem se enim perfidiae Judaeorum exhibuit, 'indeed, he shows himself to have shared in the unbelief of the Jews'; Prologus, p3) The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus are, in the Christian view, the deserved punishment for the perfidia of the Jews and the killing of Jesus. Hegesippus' comment to the Testimonium Flavianum is characteristic of his polemical attitude:

"If the Jews will not believe us, they should at least believe their own people [ie, their Jewish brother Josephus] This is said by Josephus [ie, the witness to Christ], whom they themselves hold to be of great importance; and yet even at this very point, where he speaks the truth, he has so wandered from the way spiritually, that he does not believe his own words. Yet for the sake of historical truth he speaks, for he considers deception a sin,  but he does not believe, for his heart is hard and his faith is false. To be sure, he does no disadvantage to the truth with his unbelief, but rather strengthens his testimony .... The eternal power of Christ Jesus was made clear, in that even the leaders of the synagogue, who dragged him to execution, confessed his divinity." (CSEL 66/1 , pi 64)

(Ps.-)Hegesippus brings the charge against Josephus that, although he defected to the Romans, 'he did not distance himself from their [the Jews'] blasphemy [ie, their unbelief and the killing of Jesus]', and,  'indeed, laments in a heart-rending manner the tribulation [of the Jews], but fails to grasp the reason for this tribulation' (CSEL 66/1, p3) , ie, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple are the deserved punishment for the false beliefs (perfidia) and the godlessness (impietas) of the Jews who rejected and killed Jesus Christ (Prologus; CSEL 66/1, p3).  Whereas Josephus himself differentiates between the various rebel groups and the population of Jerusalem, part of which was in no wise hostile to Rome, here we have an unqualified reference to 'the Jews' who have themselves to thank for their doom and cannot escape the punishment they have earned.[p. 71, 72]

The truth is my friends that Schreckenberg's description isn't exactly true. When we compare the sections of our received Josephus text which describe Josephus in the third person the same pattern emerges. As I noted it is a composite - and heavily edited - text.

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