Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Which 'Josephus' is Closer to the Original? Pseudo-Hegesippus Book 4 Chapter 10 or Bellum Judaicum Book 4 Chapter 5,6?

We continue with our side by side comparison of Pseudo-Hegesippus and Jewish War in the hope of determining which narrative is closer to the original second century manuscript known to Irenaeus, Clement, Origen and likely Eusebius and Epiphanius in a slightly different form). The next section in Pseudo-Hegesippus reads:

There was in the community of citizens Zacharias, who hated the wicked and would not mingle with the infamous, rich in property, whose abundance they thought would be effectual in disuniting his party or a rich booty for themselves. This they thought to acquire by a charge of betrayal. But he untouched by knowledge of this began to help himself with boldness, so that he not only countered the charges, but added those guilty of the greatest outrages. The matter was heard before seventy men. They set everyone free, because nothing was brought forward that was pertinent to the crime. But yet the former bursting in throw matters into disorder and drive away the judges not only with injury but with peril, so that by their example others in the future would beware to take steadfastness in making judgments if their will was opposed. On the contrary however lest anyone should be discharged, they themselves the executors of their wraths killed without judgment those whom they pleased. Gorgon a man pleasing and amiable was slain. Also Niger Peraites, who among the defenders of Iudaea had been chosen for watching over great matters, a fighting man, so that he even exhibited as signs of valor the scars of wounds, was seized for death and when he saw himself being led outside the city, he began to beg not for life but for burial. But he received a response of not even his so pitiable petition in accordance with mercifulness. False accusations were contrived: if anyone ransomed himself, he was innocent, whoever did not offer money was killed as if guilty.[Pseudo-Hegesippus 4.10]

The parallel section in Jewish War reads:

And now these zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, so they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose; and as they intended to have Zacharias the son of Baruchone of the most eminent of the citizens, slain, - so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness and love of libertywhich were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a mall that had great power to destroy them. So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that so it was, and desired that such their affirmation might he taken for sufficient evidence. Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape from them, as having been treacherously called before them, and then put in prison, but not with any intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of his life he was under. Accordingly he stood up, and laughed at their pretended accusation, and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge; after which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the law, and made heavy lamentation upon the confusion they had brought public affairs to: in the mean time, the zealots grew tumultuous, and had much ado to abstain from drawing their swords, although they designed to preserve the appearance and show of judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just at their own peril. Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict that the person accused was not guilty, as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors; hereupon there arose a great clamor of the zealots upon his acquittal, and they all had indignation at the judges for not understanding that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him; and as he fell down dead, they bantered him, and said, "Thou hast also our verdict, and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other." They also threw him down from the temple immediately into the valley beneath it. Moreover, they struck the judges with the backs of their swords, by way of abuse, and thrust them out of the court of the temple, and spared their lives with no other design than that, when they were dispersed among the people in the city, they might become their messengers, to let them know they were no better than slaves.

But by this time the Idumeans repented of their coming, and were displeased at what had been done; and when they were assembled together by one of the zealots, who had come privately to them, he declared to them what a number of wicked pranks they had themselves done in conjunction with those that invited them, and gave a particular account of what mischiefs had been done against their metropolis. - He said that they had taken arms, as though the high priests were betraying their metropolis to the Romans, but had found no indication of any such treachery; but that they had succored those that had pretended to believe such a thing, while they did themselves the works of war and tyranny, after an insolent manner. It had been indeed their business to have hindered them from such their proceedings at the first, but seeing they had once been partners with them in shedding the blood of their own countrymen, it was high time to put a stop to such crimes, and not continue to afford any more assistance to such as are subverting the laws of their forefathers; for that if any had taken it ill that the gates had been shut against them, and they had not been permitted to come into the city, yet that those who had excluded them have been punished, and Ananus is dead, and that almost all those people had been destroyed in one night's time. That one may perceive many of themselves now repenting for what they had done, and might see the horrid barbarity of those that had invited them, and that they had no regard to such as had saved them; that they were so impudent as to perpetrate the vilest things, under the eyes of those that had supported them, and that their wicked actions would be laid to the charge of the Idumeans, and would be so laid to their charge till somebody obstructs their proceedings, or separates himself from the same wicked action; that they therefore ought to retire home, since the imputation of treason appears to be a Calumny, and that there was no expectation of the coming of the Romans at this time, and that the government of the city was secured by such walls as cannot easily be thrown down; and, by avoiding any further fellowship with these bad men, to make some excuse for themselves, as to what they had been so far deluded, as to have been partners with them hitherto.

The Idumeans complied with these persuasions; and, in the first place, they set those that were in the prisons at liberty, being about two thousand of the populace, who thereupon fled away immediately to Simon, one whom we shall speak of presently. After which these Idumeans retired from Jerusalem, and went home; which departure of theirs was a great surprise to both parties; for the people, not knowing of their repentance, pulled up their courage for a while, as eased of so many of their enemies, while the zealots grew more insolent not as deserted by their confederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and plat some stop to their wickedness. Accordingly, they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also; he was also for democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any of the Jews whosoever; the principal thing that ruined him, added to his other advantages, was his free speaking.Nor did Niger of Peres escape their hands; he had been a man of great valor in their war with the Romans, but was now drawn through the middle of the city, and, as he went, he frequently cried out, and showed the scars of his wounds; and when he was drawn out of the gates, and despaired of his preservation, he besought them to grant him a burial; but as they had threatened him beforehand not to grant him any spot of earth for a grave, which he chiefly desired of them, so did they slay him [without permitting him to be buried]. Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward. they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another. So when this Niger was killed, their fears of being overturned were diminished; and indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretense to destroy them; for some were therefore slain, because they had had differences with some of them; and as to those that had not opposed them in times of peace, they watched seasonable opportunities to gain some accusation against them; and if any one did not come near them at all, he was under their suspicion as a proud man; if any one came with boldness, he was esteemed a contemner of them; and if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have some treacherous plot against them; while the only punishment of crimes, whether they were of the greatest or smallest sort, was death. Nor could any one escape, unless he were very inconsiderable, either on account of the meanness of his birth, or on account of his fortune.
 [Jewish War 4.5.4 - 4.6.1]

I don't know how anyone can look at this section and argue that Jewish War is more original than Pseudo-Hegesippus. Hegesippus begins by telling a story about a certain Zacharias WITHOUT mentioning that he was killed by the zealots. Jewish War by contrast claims that he was yet another martyr for the cause of truth and follows a monotonous pattern of attributing his death to an accusation that he was collaborating with the Romans (the later editor clearly had a limited imagination). Indeed in the course of this expansion this Zacharias becomes 'Zacharias the son of Barachias' of Matthew 23:25. 

Whiston explains the story as follows: 

some commentators are ready to suppose that this" Zacharias, the son of Baruch," here most unjustly slain by the Jews in the temple, was the very same person with "Zacharias, the son of Barachias," whom our Savior says the Jews "slew between the temple and the altar," Matthew 23:35. This is a somewhat strange exposition; since Zechariah the prophet was really "the son of Barachiah," and "grandson of Iddo, Zechariah 1:1; and how he died, we have no other account than that before us in St. Matthew: while this "Zacharias" was "the son of Baruch." Since the slaughter was past when our Savior spake these words, the Jews had then already slain him; whereas this slaughter of "Zacharias, the son of Baruch," in Josephus, was then about thirty-four years future. And since the slaughter was "between the temple and the altar," in the court of the priests, one of the most sacred and remote parts of the whole temple; while this was, in Josephus's own words, in the middle of the temple, and much the most probably in the court of Israel only (for we have had no intimation that the zealots had at this time profaned the court of the priests. See B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2). Nor do I believe that our Josephus, who always insists on the peculiar sacredness of the inmost court, and of the holy house that was in it, would have omitted so material an aggravation of this barbarous murder, as perpetrated in. a place so very holy, had that been the true place of it. See Antiq. B. XI. ch. 7. sect. 1, and the note here on B. V. ch. 1. sect. 2.

I don't know how to explain this obvious relationship between gospel and Josephus. On the one hand it makes no sense to think that whoever edited Matthew would think Jesus was referencing anyone other than a Zechariah who lived in the distant past. But then again Jesus would be acknowledged to have prophetic powers to know all things that would happen in the future. Is the only reasonable possibility that the mention of Zachariah son of Barachias in Josephus was a borrowing from Matthew. I really don't know but I think the one thing we can be sure of is that the tradition behind Pseudo-Hegesippus DID NOT include this material. 

As such Jewish War is once again to be demonstrated as a later production when compared with Pseudo-Hegesippus.

The long section added to Jewish War with a zealot engaging in conversation with the Idumaeans follows a familiar pattern. We are told now that the chief priests were NOT conspiring to surrender the city to the Romans (something explicitly contradicted in the previous narrative). As Hegesippus does not contain Ananus's long speech nor his murder and those of his associates it is no wonder that this section is not present in Pseudo-Hegesippus. However as THAT extra material clear represents an addition made in Jewish War, the explicit denial here on the part of the zealot might well represent an additional layer of editing. In other words, Jewish War might well be two layers removed from Hegesippus.

Jewish War also adds something to the story of Niger of Peres. Hegesippus conceives the story of Niger as an example of the manner in which the rebels mistreated wounded veterans. Jewish War adds a 'curse' from Niger which re-re-emphasizes the para-suicidal theme. There is a tendency in Jewish War for supernatural explanations so we see added to the original material known to Hegesippus the idea that:

now when they were slaying him [Niger], he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men, and was what came most justly upon them, when not long afterward. they tasted of their own madness in their mutual seditions one against another.

I find this section particularly useful in arguing for Pseudo-Hegesippus being closer to the lost original second century υπομνηματα. It is in my mind impossible and utterly implausible to argue that Hegesippus shortened a text like our received Jewish War. It makes more sense again to make the case that Jewish War is an expansion of a common ancestor text to both.

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