Friday, August 13, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Comparing the Prefaces of 1st Century Josephus vs. 2nd Century Josephus

The Preface of First Century Josephus is clearly written in the first person with the author claiming to be Josephus the Jewish general who led the Jewish revolt:

1. Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations; while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistical manner; and while those that were there present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humor of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jews; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes encomiums, but no where the accurate truth of the facts; I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians; Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards.

Notes - the author is clearly a secondary figure pretending to be Josephus. He not only wrote after Justus of Tiberias ('vain and contradictory story by hearsay ... flattery to the Romans') and perhaps Tacitus ('hatred of the Jews'). All of this points to a secondary figure who lived after the historical Josephus. Justus's narrative must have been completed shortly before his death (cf. Photius Justus of Tiberias "He [Justus] died in the third year of Trajan [100 CE], when the history ends. Justus' style is very concise and he omits a great deal that is of utmost importance. Suffering from the common fault of the Jews, to which race he belonged, he does not even mention the coming of Christ, the events of his life, or the miracles performed by Him."). Tacitus wrote the Annals c. 116 CE again possible also shortly before his death. The line "I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians" despite the tacked on self-identification by 'Josephus' is a task which is elsewhere explicitly connected with 'synergoi' (Greek speaking 'assistants' cf. Against Apion 1.50). How this isn't interpreted as the synergoi taking on Josephus's identity is beyond me. They must have been writing the introduction and for the explicit purpose of warning Jewish or Jewish Christian rebels about the dangers of rebelling against Rome. It is worth noting that Josephus writing in the 'first person' continues down to the end of the introduction until the very conclusion of the preface when he ends with the words:

I have comprehended all these things in seven books, and have left no occasion for complaint or accusation to such as have been acquainted with this war; and I have written it down for the sake of those that love truth, but not for those that please themselves [with fictitious relations]. And I will begin my account of these things with what I call my First Chapter.

Book Seven is clearly a separate work. It is never found in any copies of Jewish War outside of Europe. The fact that the person writing the preface identifies seven chapters to his work is highly suspicious. 

The Preface to Second Century Josephus narrative is clearly a second century Greek author who OPENLY acknowledges taking a first century manuscript of Josephus and 'Christianizing' it because Josephus was not a believer:

Having followed with my pen the four books of Kings which the sacred writings embrace all the way to the captivity of the Jews and the destruction of the wall and the triumphs of Babylon, I arranged this in the manner of history. The prophetic speech also summarizes in a few words the things done by the Macchabaeans; of the rest all the way to the burning of the temple and the booty of Titus Caesar the excellent narrator Josephus (covers) with his historical pen, would that he had been attentive to religion and truth as to tracking down events and the staidness of speeches. He showed himself in his own words even a partner of the treachery of the Jews, which he made known about their punishment, and whose arms he deserted, but whose sacrilege he did not give up: he lamented tearfully their hardships, but he did not understand the cause of this hardship. Whence it was a concern for us relying not upon the help of tricks but the purpose of faith to go in the history of the Jews a little beyond the chain of sacred writing so that, as if seeking a rose among the thorns, among the savage crimes of the impious, which were paid off at a price worthy of the impiety, we may dig up something of reverence of the sacred law or of the miracle of the divine destiny, which although to evil heirs were either a pretext in unfavorable circumstances or a reason for honor in favorable ones; at the same time, because it is proof of domestic wickedness, establishes for all that they themselves were for themselves the authors of their own destruction, first because they turned the Romans who desired something different against themselves and attracted them to an examination of their kingdom, for which it was preferable to be ignored, not about to keep faith they asked for friendship, unequal in strength they violated the peace, finally they brought on war, to whom all hope was in their walls not in their strength, since to be shut in by a siege is a miserable thing for all, which even if it proceeds well, is accustomed more frequently to increase rather than to decrease the dangers. And lest anyone should think us to have undertaken a task empty of faith and unnecessary, let us consider that all the tribe of Hebrews was so led by their leaders, as is plainly evident, whether from the loins of Judas the successors of his begetting nowhere were deficient, or in truth offended in the chain of leaders, but continued in him in whom all things remained placed and who was himself the hope of the nations. From here therefore we take up our beginning.[Prologue]

I think there is good reason to believe that BOTH prefaces were written by later editors. In the case of First Century Josephus the Greek synergoi are active but pretend they are 'first century Josephus.' In the case of 'Second Century Josephus' the editing and manipulating is explicitly referenced from the get go. 'Josephus' the first century Jew is almost always referenced in the third person.

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