Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Revised Theory on the Origins of the 'Jewish War' Tradition

I am about halfway through my comparative analysis of Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War and see absolutely no reason why we should continue to talk about the former as a 'summary' of the latter text. It is only that the latter text appears in Greek and is more familiar to us. A friend of mine wrote an article recently that the Samaritan Book of Joshua contains a more ancient form of the original narrative than the familiar Jewish version of the same book even though it is now only preserved in Arabic. Our argument would be similar in form to this. 

What has been buzzing around my head today is the title of the work as preserved by Eusebius - υπομνηματα. There is a sheep-like tendency among scholars to just 'accept' the familiar explanation of a given phenomena. So in this case 'Hegesippus' is a second century Jewish-Christian convert who wrote a 'memoir' about Christian history which is to be distinguished from Josephus even though we have a tradition of Josephan writings which ascribes a similarly named Hegesippus as its author. 

I think my observation that Clement of Alexandria's 'Josephus the Jew' who wrote a chronology established in the year 147 CE (the tenth year of Antoninus Pius) MUST BE the 'Hegesippus the Jew' of Eusebius and Epiphanius is key to solving the ancient riddle of the composition of Jewish War. Already every scholar accepts that the Josephan Jewish Antiquities was modeled after Dionysius of Halicarnassus's Roman Antiquities. What does a parallel text called υπομνηματα undoubtedly also written under the inspiration of the same synergoi tell us about the Josephan corpus? 

I can't get the example of Strabo's υπομνηματα ιστορικά out of my head. In other words, just as a work called 'Jewish Antiquities' was developed from older material associated loosely with Josephus after the historical template of Dionysius Halicarnassus by second century 'assistants' I think the same individual/individuals took the same original material - even an apologia related to Vita but much earlier - and developed a υπομνηματα ιστορικά related to the Jewish War using Strabo's text of the same name as a model.

If we look at a recent article on the subject - Johannes Engels, Augusteische Oikumenegeographie und Universalhistorie im Werk Strabons von Amaseia. Geographica Historica 12 Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1999. Pp. 464. ISBN 3-515-07459-7 - it is immediately obvious how Strabo's υπομνηματα ιστορικά might have served as a model for the second century editors Jewish υπομνηματα ιστορικά developed either in the name of Josephus or from his historical perspective (more on this later).

In a review of his original article (which I haven't read yet) Ralf Behrwald remarks that:

the word hypomnemata, "notes", a title Strabo also chose for his geography, to Engels betrays a concept of historical writing that has moved away from traditional history, historiai: to Engels, it is indicative of the compilatory character of these works. Therefore, according to E., Strabo sets himself against the rhetorical character of late Hellenistic historiai: his intention was, Engels assumes, to give a "comprehensive inventory of the humanities in Augustan times" (p. 73). Strabo thus followed a trend that had already started with Alexander Polyhistor, Artemidoros and, in Latin literature, Varro, and that led to the decline of late Hellenistic universal history (p. 75).

In other words, there had already been strong precedents to the idea of taking various previous historical works related to a given subject in order to develop them into a more comprehensive historical chronology. 

A suspicion immediately leaps out of my thoughts that the second century author might have attempted to reconcile Josephus and Justus, the only two known accounts of the Jewish War according to a historical 'common ground' which is now difficult to define because paradoxically it is so familiar to us (i.e. it has become OUR way of looking at that period of history). I will leave this argument for the moment and merely remind my readers that Cohen and others have emphasized that the Josephus who lived in the first century undoubtedly originally only wrote a much shorter work - an apologia related in shape to Vita which essentially addressed contemporary charges from Justus of Tiberias work that he was guilty of a number of atrocities and war crimes as a result of his actions during the war. That original work IMO likely ended where Vita now ends - i.e. the period immediately before the siege of Jerusalem.

Indeed we had a major breakthrough in our research regarding the composition of the original lost second century 'grandfather text' behind Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War in an amazing admission on the part of the original author. In this 'confession' laid out just after the point where Vita ends and before the narrative of the siege of Jerusalem, 'Hegesippus' effectively acknowledges that he has stopped using Josephus as a source and moved onto other source or sources which he confesses is less reliable than Josephus:

Up to this point it has been permissible to wander about, while we occupy our pen with the contagion of the sacred temple founded by our ancestors and of the sacred law and with those fleeing around other cities. But already it is time that we take up those things that were done at Jerusalem relying not upon memory, but so that we do not seem to have denied the administration of the law of our fatherland, or of the pain of our ancient culture. There will be perhaps in these a shadow not truth, but however the shadow points out the track of the truth. For the shadow has the features of the picture, it does not have the brightness, nor is it carried out to perfection, but it portrays the future to those observing carefully. And thus the less the image charms, the more it attracts thanks. Whence it was decided by a witness of things to destroy the old things, to found new things so that they should follow the truth who did not follow the phantoms of faithlessness through difficulties. [Pseudo-Hegesippus 4.5]

This amazing bit of information has been overlooked by all previous attempts at a 'source criticism' of Josephus. It's implications are I think obvious especially when we compare what the second century author says here about his source and what Photius complains about the 'fictitious' or 'invented' character of Justus of Tiberius's account of the siege of Jerusalem. 

Nevertheless I think when we place this comments in the context of this second century author composing a υπομνηματα ιστορικά of the Jews modeled after Strabo's original text of the same name (and paralleled by the effort to establish a Jewish Antiquities after the example of Dionysius of Halicarnassus original historical template) we can finally square how Eusebius's report about a υπομνηματα in the name of 'Hegesippus' might well have been a Josephan narrative which happened to continue down to 147 CE (the period where Clement and Eusebius report this υπομνηματα ιστορικά calculating dates and numbers - some related to Judaism and others relating to the history of the Church).

It all goes back to Engel's reconstruction of the methodology of Strabo's lost υπομνηματα ιστορικά. As Behrwald already noted the υπομνηματα ιστορικά necessarily represented the start of a trend in historical writings where an author merely appropriated already established sources and blended their testimony into a framework of his choosing. In particular these writers attempted to 'bring the history' of a previous period down to their own age. As Behrwald again writes:

In his own reconstruction of Strabo's Historika Hypomnemata, Engel plausibly argues for a structure similar to that of Polybios, whom he set out to continue: introductory parts beginning with the history of Alexander the Great (or Philip of Macedon) that overlap with his precursor's account, and a detailed history that continues Polybios, who himself starts with the end of Timaios' history and enters his detailed account with the year 220, continuing Phylarchos. Given the shadowy nature of the Historika Hypomnemata, Engel in his characterisation of Strabo's method must rely exclusively on his geography. In spite of the author's high esteem for Polybios, Strabo writes for a more ample, educated readership, and, far from restricting himself to information useful for political leaders, treats a wider choice of topics that are pleasing or easily memorized. Consequently, the criterion of political or military usefulness and the sober and precise exposition advocated by Polybios must suffer. On the other hand, as Engel shows, the larger readership addressed leads to a less sophisticated style in Strabo.

Now let's not forget that according to Photius, Justus of Tiberias "begins his history with Moses and carries it down to the death of the seventh Agrippa of the family of Herod and the last of the Kings of the Jews."Josephus's lost original Aramaic work undoubtedly only referenced his involvement in the Jewish War as a kind of apologia. The υπομνηματα ιστορικά of our second century author - and later attributed to 'Josephus the Jew' by Clement and 'Hegesippus the Jew' by Eusebius - writes a history of the Jewish uprising WITHIN THE GREATER CONTEXT of a chronology which - if this text is identified as the 'grandfather' of Pseudo-Hegesippus/Jewish War - begins with Antiochus Epiphanius and which originally concluded in the author's time i.e. 147 CE.

Now before my readership think that an incompatible difficulty has been spotted between Justus of Tiberias's Chronicle and our Jewish War tradition with the specific reference of the former's starting point with Moses, I remind my readers of the specific reference to (a) the original title of Justus's work and (b) Agrippa being emphasized as the 'seventh' king of the Jews. The full quote in Photius reads:

A Chronicle of the Kings of the Jews in the Form of a Genealogy, by Justus of Tiberias. He came from Tiberias in Galilee, from which he took his name. He begins his history with Moses and carries it down to the death of the seventh [king] Agrippa of the family of Herod and the last of the Kings of the Jews

If Justus's history went through an entire history of the Jewish people Photius wouldn't have emphasized Agrippa as the 'seventh.' 

The Moses reference is just to emphasize that the idea of kingship among the Jews derives from Moses. This is idea is central to any messianic doctrine. The comparison with Moses was obviously intended to serve Agrippa or - as the later rabbinic texts note about the character of the Jews who served him in the period - it was intended to 'flatter' him. Justus was after all Agrippa's 'secretary' (τάζις ἐπιστολῶν). Nevertheless the specific counting of Agrippa as the seventh shows with absolute certainty that Justus's history was not like Jewish Antiquities, it was much closer - if not the very historical template - for the second century υπομνηματα ιστορικά later associated with a figure also named Josephus or 'Hegesippus' a deliberate corruption of that name.

I have no idea how this list of Hasmonaean and Herodian rulers were established to make Agrippa the seventh and last. The language of Photius's summary seems to make clear that Justus was the source of the rabbinic idea that there was only one Agrippa. Counting backwards then Herod must have been the sixth king, Antigonus the fifth, Aristobulus the fourth, Salome Alexander the third, Alexander Jannaeus the second and Aristobulus the first leaving out John Hyrcanus (I suspect that John was included as the first and Salome was dropped but that is another argument for another time).

The point however is that we can begin to see - once we really think about it - how the second century υπομνηματα ιστορικά which works its way down to 147 CE is already betraying its characteristic as a revision of Justus's praise of Agrippa. The reference to Moses is removed and thus the implicit argument that Moses was first and Agrippa last and moreover the messianic world ruler of Genesis 49:10. We can also begin to see how Origen's Jewish history which identifies Agrippa as the messiah of Daniel 9:26 has to be Justus's work. It would also seem that the version of the second century υπομνηματα ιστορικά known to Origen was the source of the idea that Herod was this figure (cf. Slavonic Josephus's two references to this effect).

In any event, I would suspect that the second century author of the υπομνηματα ιστορικά went out of his way to introduce Josephus into his heavily 'corrected' Chronology of Justus as a way of displacing Agrippa as the original focus of narrative. As we noted, there is still an uncanny interest in making historical events correspond to Daniel's prophesy of seventy weeks with Agrippa's rejection and being 'cut off' by his Jewish subjects in 66 CE the cause of the destruction. That underlying structure is still present in the work but it now is buried under a much more prominent theme - that of Josephus as the paradigm of a new Jewish identity which is entirely compatible with citizenship in the Roman Empire. 

I am beginning to wonder whether the fabulous narrative regarding the Jews suffering from an 'infection' with the spiritual example of Saul is something which the second century author of the υπομνηματα ιστορικά invented or whether it was a carry over from Justus narrative. In any event the one thing we can be certain of is the fact that the fact that the story is told from the perspective of Josephus is quite deliberate. It diverts attention from Agrippa (who becomes little more than a background character) and emphasizes Josephus as the proper model or example for readers (who were likely Jews or Christians) to follow. We can also be certain that the frequent development of this or that event 'causing' the destruction of the temple (i.e.the death of James, the murder of the high priest Ananus, the curse of Niger etc) are all means of distracting us from Justus's original POLITICAL interest as Agrippa's secretary in emphasizing that the Jews rejection and 'cutting off' of their rightful ruler Agrippa was the cause of their downfall.

If the fabulous claims about the Jews being under a kind of demonic influence of the para-suicidal example of Saul goes back to Justus too then the implications are clearly that Agrippa is David, i.e. the true nagid of the community.

Finally, I suspect that the reason why Clement and Eusebius come to identify the author of the second century υπομνηματα ιστορικά as another Jew named Josephus is because Polycarp was its original author. In other words, Polycarp was the original author of this artificial fusion Justus and Josephus and then owing to serious questions being raised about Polycarp's counterfeiting efforts coming from both pagans and Christians the authorship of the work suddenly changed taking the name 'Joseph' because it was ready at hand. 

Before the reader dismisses this is as yet another conspiracy theory one has to read my short article published over at Hermann Detering's site where I set out the idea that Polycarp's martyrdom was behind Lucian of Samosata's satirical portrait of Proteus Peregrinus (the 'many faced' stranger).http://www.radikalkritik.de/Huller_Peregrin.htm Once this connection is established Polycarp's authorship of this work written in 147 CE after the author came from Greece to Rome (exactly like Polycarp cf. his dispute with Anicetus in Irenaeus's fragmentary works) suddenly makes sense. Indeed the author's development of Justus's original CRITICISM of the Jewish para-suicidal impulse to a deliberate softening where Moses death as recorded in the Hegesippus tradition (and we may presume the disciple John too) VOLUNTARILY following God's command to die at a certain time dovetail perfectly with Polycarp's own para-suicidal example.

Yet this isn't all that there is to our theory that Polycarp is the author of the original material. There is Irenaeus's citation of the chronology of what is later identified as 'Hegesippus' in such a way that Polycarp was originally understood to be the author. Look again at the citation of Hegesippus which is universally connected with the Hegesippus material (see our post above )

Book Three of Against the Heresies begins with a clear reference that Irenaeus is using a chronology which sets out all the bishops of the churches in various urban centers exactly as Hegesippus's υπομνηματα is demonstrated by Eusebius to witness:

It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. [AH iii.1.1]

Every Patristic scholar in the world accepts as the starting point of their understanding of Irenaeus's 'anti-heretical bent' that he inherited it from his master Polycarp. Nevertheless AND CURIOUSLY he cites a chronology which demonstrates "those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and the succession of these men to our own times" - i.e. 147 CE in Rome. This chronology is later identified with an author named 'Josephus' or 'Hegesippus' but I would argue this is a deliberate obscuration, an obscuration paralleled by Eusebius failure to mention Irenaeus's parallel use of this Roman chronology when discussing Hegesippus and the Corinthian see AND Irenaeus's obscuration of THE NAME of his teacher throughout Against the Heresies (he is almost always the anonymous 'presbyter' save for this one section (AH iii chapter 1) which we are now citing (i.e. here he is 'Polycarp' itself a fake name with no precursor in the history of civilization and probably a literal rending of the Hebrew 'Ephraim').

So Irenaeus draws from υπομνηματα and its chronology of bishops down to his own times (i.e. 147 CE) to disprove a parallel 'gnostic' tradition which I have argued elsewhere was rooted in Alexandria based on a chronology of bishops from Mark (the υπομνηματα neither provides a chronology of bishops for Alexandria nor takes an interest in Mark). All of this is done again to attack a formulation very similar to what he read in To Theodore i.e. that the perfect gospel was established 'in secret' only after other imperfect texts were established in the name of various apostles 

For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to "the perfect" apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity. [But] since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. [AH iii.1.2,3]

These words immediately follow the opening statement cited above and demonstrate without question that Irenaeus used the υπομνηματα to combat the 'gnostic' (see Clement's use of this term) Alexandrian tradition based on a single apostle - Mark - who is later deliberately relegated to an inferior status under the influence of this same Roman tradition (a point not lost on Copts of all ages down to its modern leadership).

The purpose of the second century υπομνηματα then being extended down to the year 147 CE is to demonstrate not only that Josephus's conversion to a new understanding of Judaism which conformed to government of Rome was a 'lesson' for all people connected to Israel but more importantly that a form of messianic Judaism (i.e. Christianity) was preserved from the very beginning and confirmed by a line of presbyters down to the modern age. 

It doesn't matter to scholars that the line of the Jerusalem Church for instance - supposedly rooted in James - has no real existence beyond what is written in this υπομνηματα. Indeed many have noted that when the line of bishops is traced 'backwards' to its earliest recorded examples it is of a completely different character (i.e. a line of 'Gentiles' rather than a line of circumcised Jews). The point is that Irenaeus draws on all of various wholly fictitious episcopal lines to prove essentially that 'those of Mark' (i.e. in Alexandria) are effectively disproved by an overarching community of Christians 'in every place' which agree on the same doctrine, the same canon etc.)

Irenaeus proceeds to use the chronology of Roman bishops in the υπομνηματα to argue Rome rather than Alexandria is the true center of Christianity (a wholly unheard of proposition before the publication of the υπομνηματα). He makes specific reference to the author of the υπομνηματα witnessing "no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles" and which helps believers "understand that the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things." [AH iii.1.3] 

This is not the place to take up this issue but the writings of Clement mentioned here CANNOT HAVE originally been written by the figure tradition claims they were written by (i.e. Flavius Clemens a Roman senator who allegedly embraced Judaism in the reign of Domitian when it was dangerous to do so). This Clement is now supposed to be a convert to a Christian message which is completely compatible with 'Roman ideals' - an agenda we see actively pursued by the second century editor of the aforementioned υπομνηματα employed by Irenaeus to disprove the tradition of St. Mark in Alexandria.

The reality is that many scholars have noted that an underlying affinity exists between a key gospel citation in 1 Clement and the only letter than has survived by the hand of Polycarp. The citation DOES NOT come from any known canonical gospel and resembles closest of all the Diatessaron associated with Tatian, the student of Justin. The material that has come down to us from the υπομνηματα that is preserved in the name of Hegesippus which scholarship universally acknowledges is the source or is related to the source that Irenaeus cites in Book Three makes it seem as if the author was at the center of the dispute 'correcting' their doctrine from a variant form established since 'Primus.'

So we read in Eusebius's citation of the υπομνηματα that its author said:

And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. Being in Rome, I composed a catalogue of bishops down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.

I clearly take the portion cited in red to be Irenaeus's marginal gloss confirming the very things which become the subject of his narrative in Book Three. There Irenaeus makes the point of stressing that the material in the letter to Clement was written not by the author of the υπομνηματα in a relatively recent attempt to 'correct the orthodoxy' of the churches in the Empire but rather a text written by 'Clement of Rome' which appears to have been settled in the first century.

This is critical to understand the nexus of material here. For if we read again the material cited in Eusebius's mention of the υπομνηματα and read it side by side with Irenaeus's testimony in Book Three there is unmistakable commonality with only two significant differences - (1) Irenaeus explicitly claims with the aid of his corrected 1 Clement epistle that the controversy mentioned in the υπομνηματα took place in the first century and (2) that Polycarp rather than 'Hegesippus' was the author of the υπομνηματα which is the source for his list of bishops in every city.

Look again at the full citation one more time from the very opening lines (I will cite only from the mention of Clement):

To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,--a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,--that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. [AH iii.1.4]

Irenaeus goes on to mention Polycarp's war with Marcion and his coming in the name of John who lived until the time of Trajan and with this, ends the first chapter of Book Three, a chapter which opened with the argument essentially that the υπομνηματα can help disprove the claims of the 'gnostic' church of Alexandria and their reliance on a single (pseudo)apostle.

There is no doubt at all in my mind that Irenaeus's citation of Polycarp as a witness was necessarily problematic for Irenaeus.  The name 'Polycarp' only comes out of the closet here for a very specific reason - he has to say that the υπομνηματα are rooted in a reliable historical witness. Once this understanding is recognized we can see that the author of the υπομνηματα 'correcting' the beliefs of the Corinthians community and coming to Rome at the time of Anicetus sound remarkably similar to Polycarp's own arrival in Rome and getting into dispute with Anicetus (which Irenaeus again characteristically tries to cover up) "and when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp ... nor Polycarp Anicetus . . . But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the Eucharist in the Church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect. And they parted from each other in peace"

I think we are now prepared for the ultimate realization that Luke-Acts use of Josephus has everything to do with Polycarp's authorship of the υπομνηματα which also developed as a faux Josephan document. It was Polycarp who was reshaping actively Christianity in the era only to himself be reshaped by his student Irenaeus once his falsification efforts were subsequently exposed (by Lucian of Samosata but also Marcionites and other dissenters mention in the Death of Peregrinus).

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