Ancient History

My friend Victoria at Raynotbradbury challenged me to post about an author or philosopher of the ancient world, and I have chosen Josephus.  Here are Vic’s rules for the challenge:  1) Choose an author or philosopher from Ancient times.  Country of origin doesn’t matter.  2) Share 3 of that individual’s quotes and any other info about him or her you care to provide.  3) Challenge 3 to 6 additional Bloggers.

Flavius Josephus, 37 CE – 100 CE, lived in Jerusalem during Rome’s occupation of Judea and commanded Jewish troops against the Romans during the first Jewish War.  After surrendering in 67 CE, he became a slave under Emperor Vespasian and was eventually granted his freedom.  While scholars continue to debate the authenticity and accuracy of his published works, he is for the most part acknowledged by the scholarly community as a reliable source of historical information about 1st-century Palestine.

Josephus is one of the very few extra-biblical sources of information about Jesus Christ, which is why I chose him for this challenge.  The history of religion, especially of Christianity, is one of my major areas of interest, and I have spent a significant portion of my adult life reading about and studying the subject.  I am not a scholar myself but am fairly well-versed in the range of modern scholarly debate & opinions about early Christian history.

I relinquished my faith years ago and am an Agnostic.  Although most days I don’t believe in the existence of a God or gods, I do believe there was a historical Jesus who was called Messiah by some and whose life is the basis for the stories about him in the Christian New Testament.  I present this information simply to share it, not in an attempt to sway anyone’s opinion about the subject.

The quotes I have chosen are the three passages from The Antiquities of the Jews that are most often provided as reliable statements about the historical Jesus and early Christian history.

1) from Book 20, Chapter 9, 1:  “But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”

2) from Book 18, Chapter 5, 2:  “Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man… Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion… Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.”

3) from Book 18, Chapter 3, 3:  “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

Having no other sources to hand, I’ve relied upon Wikipedia for my information.  The quotes and info I’m sharing here are located at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#James_the_brother_of_Jesus and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus

If you’re interested in learning more about Josephus, those two pages are a good starting point, and they include extensive lists of works cited.

Finally, I challenge three of my most recent followers:

M. A. Young at AnnotherVoice

Esoterica at Existential Ergonomics

Nathi at A Wayward Scribbles

I hope y’all will take a few minutes to visit their blogs and see what they have to say.  And feel free to chime in below on any aspect of my post.

Via Daily Prompt: Retrospective

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22 thoughts on “Ancient History

  1. I think I’ve heard the name but I’m going to check, because I do not feel like I am familiar with the book or text. But I’ve studied The Bible (some years…). In general I love to visit diff religious groups lol when I’m on vacation or travelling…cool to know a bit more about you and the way u r seeing God.
    Btw, have you heard, Daily Post is done with the prompts… today was the last I guess :/

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I’m missing so many posts when my mum is here 😅 I was unaware about it :/
        Or I have a feel I read that post (hm)…but probably i thought it was a joke. I don’t know but I saw 7 or 8 posts about it today, kinda everywhere 😮 still don’t believe lol

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  2. Fascinating information on Josephus, whom I had never heard of before. I was brought up in a Catholic home and relinquished my faith in early adulthood, thought 15 years in Catholic school has bred an intense interest in the historical end of things. Thanks for offering up the challenge–I accept, and I’ll post something in the next few days on an ancient author or philosopher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful, Esoterica, I am excited to see what you come up with! I was raised Catholic as well but have attended a series of small Baptist churches for the past 25 years because that’s where my wife is comfortable. The Baptist beliefs are a large part of what led me to give up my faith.

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  3. Thought provoking! Here’s what I’ve learned as a result:

    1. The common Hebrew name Yeshua (to rescue or deliver) was given to the Hebrew man who was later labeled as an anointed one (maw-chee-yach in Hebrew). His teachings were brought to Greece by his apostles within 50 yrs or so of his death.

    2. In Greek,Yeshua, or Joshua, in Greek is Iesu. The “s” was added at the end because that made it a nominative word (subject) rather than a genitive, (possessive). Most Greek words beginning with “i” became J in English.

    3. In Greek, the word for “anoint” is “chrio”). As more and more Greek followers of Iesu developed, they called themselves followers of the anointed one. Finally in the 4th XX AD, Constantine, his followers were officially given the name christianos, or followers of the anointed one.

    4. Anointing was a ritual of putting oil on someone’s feet in order to announce their dedication or commitment to an office (like king) or study of or entry into a religion. Yeshua had been anointed just as David, Solomon and other Jewish leaders and prophets had been.

    5. The more mystical properties of Yeshua, or Iesu, or Jesus, were ascribed to him later by prophets, mainly Paul, to create more excitement by distinguishing him from other anointed Jewish prophets and leaders. Also, leaders and tyrants all over Europe and Asia called themselves sons of God — but they weren’t speaking about direct lineage so much as chosen, just as the Jews were said to have been chosen children of God in the old testament. The healings, direct lineage and resurrection were attributes that gave Yeshua a different standing, allowing a new religion to be formed around those beliefs, and the term rescuer, or deliver, became savior.

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    1. Yes, interesting for sure. Unfortunately, like for most other ancient sources, especially those related to the bible, it’s difficult to determine exactly what Josephus’s individual style was since all we have of his works are copies of copies of copies.

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