Jesus in Josephus

Josephus is the go-to extra-Biblical source for the life of Jesus. This article covers (1) where Josephus mentions Jesus, (2) the earliest surviving manuscripts, and (3) some of the controversies about the passages.

Mentions of Jesus Christ

Both of the mentions of Jesus Christ by Josephus are found in Josephus’ Judaic Antiquities.

Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 3, Sections 63-64, contains the Testimonium Flavianum.

Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9.1, Section 200 mentions “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”.

Book 18 and 20 are only preserved in 3 of the 13 main manuscripts. The MSS are A (11th c.), W (14th c.), and M (15th c.).
The MSS by siglum, location, and name:
A: Milan. Codex bibl. Ambrosianae F 128.
W: Rome. Codex Vaticanus Graecus 984.
M: Florence. Codex Medicaeus bibl. Laurentianae plut. 69, cod. 10.

All three of these are believed to share a common source text. The general consensus among scholars is that Josephus did not author the TF. The language used in the TF is closer to that of Eusebius than Josephus. The three phrases “maker of miraculous works”, “tribe of Christians”, and “to this day” are not used anywhere else in any of Josephus’ works, but they are used several other times by Eusebius.[2]

The Companion to Josephus by Chapman & Rogers (2016) provides a list of MSS that allegedly contain books 18 and 20 of the Antiquities.

9th century

Siglum: a
Location, Library: Milan, Bibl. Ambrosiana
Manuscript: A 220
Blatt No., Family: 47, λ
Date: 800-850
Contents: Ant. 17-20

Siglum: S
Location, Library: Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek
Manuscript: GKS 157 folio
Blatt No., Family: 41, λ
Date: 800-850
Contents: Ant. 1-12, 17-20

Siglum: Ba
Location, Library: Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Msc. Class 78*
Blatt No., Family: 113, φ
Date: Mid-C9th
Contents:Ant. 1-20

10th century

Siglum: C
Location, Library: Montecassino, Bibl. monumentale di Montecassino
Manuscript: 124
Blatt No., Family: 10, β
Date: C10th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: Vo
Location, Library: Leiden, Universiteit Leiden
Manuscript: VLF 17
Blatt No., Family: 49, λ
Date: C10th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, 17-20, Heg.

11th century

Siglum: Ga
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut.89inf.11*
Blatt No., Family: 27, η
Date: C11th
Contents: Ant. 17-20

Siglum: f
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5763*
Blatt No., Family: 44, λ
Date: End of C11th
Contents: Ant. 17-20

Siglum: Lau
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut. 66.5/6*
Blatt No., Family: 149, χ
Date: End of C11th
Contents: 66.5: Ant. 1-18.3
66.6: Ant. 18-20, War

Siglum: L
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut. 66.2*
Blatt No., Family: 3, α
Date: C11th
Contents:Ant. 1-20, ApionWar 1.1-27.6

Siglum: St
Location, Library: Brussels, Bibl. royale
Manuscript: II 1179
Blatt No., Family: 144, χ
Date: C11th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: V
Location, Library: Rome, Bibl. Vaticana
Manuscript: Vat. Lat. 1998
Blatt No., Family: 14, γ
Date: C11th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, Heg.

11th/12th century

Siglum: Cr
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut.19sin.01*
Blatt No., Family: 17, ε
Date: C11/12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20 (missing 11.148-347), Apion

Siglum: El
Location, Library: Valenciennes, Bibl. municipale
Manuscript: 546
Blatt No., Family: 115, φ
Date: C11/12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Pl
Location, Library: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Clm 11302*
Blatt No., Family: 81, π
Date: C11/12th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, War 1-7 [13-19], Ant. 18 [not numbered]

12th century

Siglum: Werd
Location, Library: Berlin, Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Lat. Fol. 226
Blatt No., Family: 146, χ
Date: 1100-1159
Contents:Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Bo
Location, Library: Oxford, Bodleian Library
Manuscript: Canon. patr. lat. 148
Blatt No., Family: 4, α
Date: 1145
Contents: Ant. 11-22, ApionWar

Siglum: s
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 12511
Blatt No., Family: 59, v
Date: 1150-1199
Contents: Ant. 1-12, War, Ant. 18-20

Siglum: Prs
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 8959*
Blatt No., Family: 99, σ
Date: c.1160
Contents:Ant. 1-17, War 1-7 [18-24], Ant. 18-20, Ant. 13-17 and Ant. 19-20 “from a textual tradition different from other books”

Siglum: Cor
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 16730*
Blatt No., Family: 123, φ
Date: 1170-1180
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Ne
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5045*
Blatt No., Family: 29, ζ
Date: Early C12th
Contents: Vol. 1: Ant. 1-12
Vol. 2: Ant. 13-20, War 1 (part), War 4-7 (Lat. 5-7, part) [21-24]

Siglum: U
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: NAL 2453
Blatt No., Family: 154, ω
Date: Early C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: li
Location, Library: Lincoln, Cathedral Library
Manuscript: Lincoln 145 (C.1.6)
Blatt No., Family: 161, ω
Date: Mid-C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20 (many lacunae), War

Siglum: Mir
Location, Library: Winchester, Winchester College
Manuscript: ms. 6
Blatt No., Family: 165, v
Date: Mid-C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: Mt
Location, Library: Oxford, Merton College
Manuscript: Merton 317
Blatt No., Family: 101, σ
Date: Mid-C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, War 1-2, Ant. 18-20, War 3-7, Ant. 14-17

Siglum: D
Location, Library: Cologne: Diozesan- und Domblibliothek
Manuscript: 162/163*
Blatt No., Family: 107, σ
Date: 1150-1175
Contents: 162: Ant. 1-4, 8-13
163: Ant. 14-20, War

Siglum: Nv
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Harley 3883
Blatt No., Family: 72, ξ
Date: Late C12th
Contents: 71: Ant. 1-12; War pref.; Ant. 13
72: Ant. 14-20, War

Siglum: N/A
Location, Library: Cologne, Historisches Archiv der Stadt Koln
Manuscript: Best 7010 (Wallraf 276)*
Blatt No., Family: N/A
Date: End of C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Adm
Location, Library: Admont, Benediktinerstift
Manuscript: 71/72
Blatt No., Family: 84, ρ
Date: C12th
Contents: 71: Ant. 1-12; War pref.; Ant. 13
72: Ant. 14-20, War

Siglum: Cl
Location, Library: Troyes, Mediatheques
Manuscript: 137*
Blatt No., Family: 100, σ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: cl
Location, Library: Troyes, Mediatheques
Manuscript: 701*
Blatt No., Family: 62, ν
Date: C12th
Contents: War 1-7 [1-9], Ant. 18-20 [20, 21, 20]

Siglum: Ar
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Arundel 94
Blatt No., Family: 170, ω
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 15-20, War

Siglum: Cn
Location, Library: Klosterneuburg, Stiftsbibliothek
Manuscript: 5
Blatt No., Family: 106, σ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: cr
Location, Library: Heiligenkreuz, Stiftsbibliothek
Manuscript: 34
Blatt No., Family: 140, ϕ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 14-20, War

Siglum: Du
Location, Library: Durham, Cathedral Library
Manuscript: B.II.1
Blatt No., Family: 160, ω
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Ha
Location, Library: Valenciennes, Bibl. municipale
Manuscript: 547*
Blatt No., Family: 116, φ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Lamp
Location, Library: Graz, Universitatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Graz 105
Blatt No., Family: 85, ρ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: M
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: San Marco 385*
Blatt No., Family: 16, ε
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, Apion 1

Siglum: n
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 16731*
Blatt No., Family: 71, ξ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Sr
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 115427
Blatt No., Family: 20, γ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20 (missing 18.63-64)

Siglum: Vct
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 14361
Blatt No., Family: 60, ν
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, War 1-7 [13-19], Ant. 18-30 [20, 21, 20]

Siglum: Vi
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5048
Blatt No., Family: 5, α
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: z
Location, Library: Zwettl, Stiftsbibliothek
Manuscript: 25
Blatt No., Family: 94, ρ
Date: C12th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

12th/13th Century

Siglum: Co
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5046
Blatt No., Family: 65, v
Date: C12/13th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, WarAnt. 18-20

Siglum: p
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5047*
Blatt No., Family: 103, σ
Date: C12/13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Pa
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5049
Blatt No., Family: 128, φ
Date: C12/13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, WarApion

13th Century

Siglum: Cp
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 16941
Blatt No., Family: 73, ξ
Date: 1200-1230
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Sa
Location, Library: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Clm 15841
Blatt No., Family: 89, ρ
Date: c.1200
Contents: Ant. 1-20, WarHeg.

Siglum: Pd
Location, Library: Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket
Manuscript: A 148 (“Codex Gigas”)*
Blatt No., Family: 93, ρ
Date: 1204-1230
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: b
Location, Library: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Clm 4510*
Blatt No., Family: 87, ρ
Date: Early C13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: Sg
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 11735
Blatt No., Family: 67, v
Date: Early C13th
Contents: Ant. 1-12, War 1-7 [13-19], Ant. 18-20

Siglum: ld
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Royal 13 E viii
Blatt No., Family: 166, ω
Date: Early C13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Sch
Location, Library: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Clm 17404*
Blatt No., Family: 88, ρ
Date: Mid-C13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, WarHeg.

Siglum: d
Location, Library: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
Manuscript: M 533/M 534
Blatt No., Family: 68, v
Date: Late C13th
Contents: 533: Ant. 1-15
534: Ant. 16-20, War

Siglum: al
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Add. 22859/22860
Blatt No., Family: 74, ξ
Date: C13th
Contents: 22859: Ant. 1-11
22860: Ant. 12-20

Siglum: Cb
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Add. 15280
Blatt No., Family: 121, φ
Date: C13th
Contents: Ant. 1-20; War

Siglum: Ld
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Add. 22861
Blatt No., Family: 66, v
Date: C13th
Contents: War 1-7 [1-8], Ant. 18-20 [9-11]

13th/14th Century

Siglum: pa
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5050*
Blatt No., Family: 30, ζ
Date: C13th/14th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War 1 (part), War 4-7 (Lat. 5-7; part) [21-24]

14th Century

Siglum: Cov
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Harley 5116
Blatt No., Family: 168, ω
Date: Early C14th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: Aus
Location, Library: Vich, Archivo Capitular
Manuscript: 162
Blatt No., Family: 132, φ
Date: C14th
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: Crem
Location, Library: Kremsmunster, Stiftsbibliothek
Manuscript: 350
Blatt No., Family: 90, ρ
Date: C14th
Contents: Ant. 14-20, War

Siglum: Vn
Location, Library: Vienna, Osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek
Manuscript: Palatinus Lat. 333
Blatt No., Family: 91, ρ
Date: C14th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, War

Siglum: N/A
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5059*
Blatt No., Family: N/A
Date: C14th
Contents: WarAnt. 18-20

15th Century

Siglum: par
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 5051*
Blatt No., Family: 22, γ
Date: 1400-1450
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: pat
Location, Library: Paris, Bibl. nationale
Manuscript: Lat. 8835
Blatt No., Family: 25, γ
Date: 1461
Contents: Ant. 1-20

Siglum: Fl
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Harley 3699
Blatt No., Family: 31, ζ
Date: 1478
Contents: Ant. 1-20, Apion

Siglum: h
Location, Library: London, British Library
Manuscript: Harley 4961/4962/4963
Blatt No., Family: 31, σ
Date: C15th
Contents: 4961: Ant. 8-13
4962: Ant. 14-20, Apion
4963: War 1-7 (21-27)

Siglum: l
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut. 66.3*
Blatt No., Family: 18, ε
Date: C15th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, Apion

Siglum: t
Location, Library: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Manuscript: Clm 18004*
Blatt No., Family: 92, ρ
Date: C15th
Contents: Ant. 10-20

Siglum: N/A
Location, Library: Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana
Manuscript: Plut. 18sin.10*
Blatt No., Family: N/A
Date: C15th
Contents: Ant. 1-20, Apion

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Transmission of the Testimonium Flavianum and the Passage about James

The Testimonium Flavianum (TF) is first cited by Eusebius in the 4th century in his:
Demonstratio evangelica (3.5, section 124)
Historia ecclesiastica (1.11.7-8)
Theophania (only survives in 1 Syriac translation).

There are two phrases that differ between Eusebius’ Demonstratio and Historia. He changes “revere” and “leaders” to “receive with pleasure” and “first men”. This was likely done for verisimilitude, to make it appear more Josephan in style.

The passage about James is also suspicious, as the only other place that the word Christ occurs in the MSS of Josephus is in the (generally accepted to be fake) Testimonium Flavianum. On the topic of the passage about James, in 1999, K. A. Olsen claimed, “We simply have no way of reconstructing how the passage originally read.”

Origen also mentions the passage about James in his:
Commentarii in Matthaeum (10.17)
Contra Celsum (1.47; 2.13).
Eusebius references Origen.

Shlomo Pines (1908-1990) brought Agapius’ Arabic translation to light in the 20th century. Pines believed Agapius’ text to be based primarily on Eusebius’ Historia.

Agapius’ text apparently misidentifies Phlegon as Plato. Also, “the passage contains many omissions, additions, and changes making it very different from its parent text.” Overall, the text of Agapius renders a different story than Eusebius’.

No author cites the TF before Eusebius. The next person to cite it is nearly a century later.

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References:

[1] – Pearse, Roger. Josephus: the Main Manuscripts of “Antiquities” (24 May 2002). http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manuscripts/josephus_antiquities.htm. Accessed 27 May 2020.

[2] – OLSON, K. A. “Eusebius and the ‘Testimonium Flavianum.’” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 2, 1999, pp. 305–322. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43723559. Accessed 27 May 2020.

[3] – Levenson & Martin. The Place of the Early Printed Editions of Josephus’s Antiquities and War (1470–1534) in the Latin Textual Tradition (2017). https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004324749/B9789004324749_043.xml. Accessed 27 May 2020.

[4] – https://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/1470_augsburg_schussler.html. Accessed 27 May 2020.

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