Friday, August 13, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? A Passage Found Only in Pseudo-Hegesippus Book One Chapter One

The second in our series where we try to establish whether the underlying common text of Jewish War (shared by Latin Pseudo-Hegesippus and Greek Jewish War) prove that we have the original narrative written by 1st Josephus or a deliberately 'corrected' version of a Christianized text by a 2nd century Josephus openly attesting that he was working from and adding to 1st century Josephus (viz. a fourth century editor eventually wrote 2nd century Josephus out of the narrative). We will go through the existing material line by line where ever a reference to Josephus appears in the first person or third person. Here is the second appearance of 'Josephus' in one of the surviving narratives:

Nor did Antiochus remain calm who resented his army to have been an object of mockery to Simon the father of Ionathas, and desiring to quench the beginnings of Ionathas yet rising, coming with a great band, he besieged Jerusalem and Hyrcanus. Hyrcanus fended him off with gold, which he was not able to do with weapons, and the tomb of David having been opened, as Josephus is our source, he dug up three thousand talents of gold, from which he counted out three hundred to Antiochus, so that he should abandon the siege, bought off by this price he went away.[Hegesippus 1.1]

The story is paralleled by the following narrative in Book One of '1st century Josephus' (not surprisingly without the self-reference):

And now Antiochus was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judea, and sat down before Jerusalem and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege. Moreover, he was the first of the Jews that had money enough, and began to hire foreign auxiliaries also.[Jewish Antiquities 2.2.5]

It is amazing to see how these two accounts ultimately attributed to '1st century Josephus' differ from what is commonly identified as 'Jewish Antiquities by Josephus':

And when Hyrcanus sent to Antiochus, and desired there might be a truce for seven days, because of the festival, be gave way to this piety towards God, and made that truce accordingly. And besides that, he sent in a magnificent sacrifice, bulls with their horns gilded, with all sorts of sweet spices, and with cups of gold and silver. So those that were at the gates received the sacrifices from those that brought them, and led them to the temple, Antiochus the mean while feasting his army, which was a quite different conduct from Antiochus Epiphanes, who, when he had taken the city, offered swine upon the altar, and sprinkled the temple with the broth of their flesh, in order to violate the laws of the Jews, and the religion they derived from their forefathers; for which reason our nation made war with him, and would never be reconciled to him; but for this Antiochus, all men called him Antiochus the Pious, for the great zeal he had about religion. But Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who excelled all other kings in riches, and took out of it three thousand talents. He was also the first of the Jews that, relying on this wealth, maintained foreign troops. There was also a league of friendship and mutual assistance made between them; upon which Hyrcanus admitted him into the city, and furnished him with whatsoever his army wanted in great plenty, and with great generosity, and marched along with him when he made an expedition against the Parthians; of which Nicolaus of Damascus is a witness for us; who in his history writes thus [Jewish Antiquities 13.8.4]

I can't believe that there are people claiming that Josephus wrote Jewish Antiquities when this account is COMPLETELY at odds with what is written in Jewish War. In those accounts, Antiochus is furious and besieges Jerusalem only to be bribed by Hyrcanus in order to release his stranglehold on the city. The citation from Nicolas of Damascus is deceptive because it only shows that Antiochus allowed Jews to maintain their customs not that he didn't besiege Jerusalem. 

I am baffled how anyone can claim Josephus wrote both Jewish War AND Jewish Antiquities. In any event it is worth noting that 2nd century Josephus specifically cites 1st century Josephus as the source for this story. As it appears in the introduction we might well assume that 1st century Josephus referenced this story but the real question is why - if 2nd century Josephus - has access to all sorts of histories - did he specifically attribute this narrative to '1st century Josephus'? The answer must be that 1st century Josephus must have been the only person to ever mention that someone robbed the temple during the siege.

I wonder whether Josephus invented this story of a 'precedent' in order to justify his stealing of Imperial property during the siege of Jerusalem in 66 CE. The reason I say this is that Vita is replete with accusations that Josephus stole or caused damage to Imperial property. The invention of the story would justify his actions during the siege. 

A parallel example emerges in Vita with regards to Josephus's plunder of the Imperial grain during the war - viz. "I placed my armed men on the outside of the village, and gave orders that they should guard the passes with great care, that the enemy might not disturb us until we should have carried off the corn, a great quantity of which lay there: it belonged to Bernice the queen, and had been gathered together out of the neighboring villages into Besara; so I loaded my camels and asses, a great number of which I had brought along with me, and sent the corn into Galilee."[Vita 24] The story of the rebels stealing of Agrippa's grain supply is repeated throughout the rabbinic tradition too. But most interesting of all it's justification with the theft of David makes its way into the gospels too when Jesus says "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."[Mark 2.25 - 26]

It is even more interesting to note that when Tertullian justifies Jesus breaking the Sabbath law prohibiting gathering food on the Sabbath against Marcion's interpretation he doesn't identify this story as appearing in the gospels but rather as one of his typical scriptural argument:

For from the Creator's Scripture, and from the purpose of Christ, there is derived a colourable precedent ----as from the example of David, when he went into the temple on the Sabbath, and provided food by boldly breaking up the shew-bread.[AM 4.12]

In other words he (or his second century source) says the example of David from 1 Sam. xxi. 2-6 can be used to provide a precedent for breaking laws in cases of emergencies. It doesn't necessarily mean that Jesus was ending the Sabbath. But clearly the way Tertullian frames his argument (or more likely his source) it shows that the reference to David stealing the showbread WASN'T in the standard texts of Marcion's gospel at the time.

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