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Old 09-19-2011, 10:34 AM   #1
PhilosopherJay
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Default Reconstruction of the Josephus Text Before the John the Baptist interpolation

Hi All,

It is clear that there was an interpolation within the John the Baptist based on the two facts, 1) the point that Origen reports seeing a different text and 2) the issue of the type of baptism by John for purity of sins or body presupposes a debate over the baptism of Jesus by John. I would like to go further and demonstrate that the entire John the Baptist passage is a forgery and reconstruct what the original passage must have been about based on in order to resolve the major contradictions that now exist in the text.

As I pointed out in "The Master Forger Hypothesis and the "Multiple Forgeries Hypothesis", Origen says this in Anti-Celsus (1:47):

Quote:
I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite.
This contradicts our current version of the passage in Josephus and Church History which explicitly says that John did not baptize for the remission of sins (Jewish Antiquities, Books XVIII-XIX, Loeb Classical Library, 433 ), Translated by L. H. Feldman):

Quote:
For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behavior.
Origen says that John baptized for forgiveness of sins, the Josephus text we now have says explicitly that he did not.

This argument about the nature of John's baptism is clearly a Christian argument aimed at a Christian audience who knew that Jesus was baptized by John and might wonder why Jesus had to be cleansed of his sins.

The greek word baptizo would have been completely mistifying to Josephus' Roman audience.

Quote:
to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one's self, bathe
to overwhelm

Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.
Imagine a First Century Greek or Roman who had never heard of Christian baptism reading that Herod put a good man, Jacob the dipper to death. Jacob the dipper dipped people not to forgive their sins, but to clean their bodies. It would have been perfect nonsense to Josephus' Greco-Roman audience. Even saying only that he dipped to forgive people's sins, as Origen reports Josephus said, would have been perplexing.

This only tells us that this particular reference to John the Baptist was an interpolation and at some point was reinterpolated to erase the idea that he baptised for the forgiveness of sins. What evidence is there that the entire reference to John the Baptist is forged?

Let us say that Harry Potter fanatics take over the world. They insist that Harry Potter actually existed and they put to death anybody who disagrees. They offer as evidence, this famous speech by Martin Luther King:
Quote:
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream and the dreams of Harry Potter.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and Harry Potter are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, and the sons of former slaves and the sons of former Harry Potter Book owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
Even if the Harry Potter fanatics had destroyed all the copies of the original text, it is would not be hard to reconstruct the original by taking out the Harry Potter references and seeing how what is left over relates.

In the same way, we can reconstruct the Josephus text before the John the Baptist material was put in.

First note that the text as it stands now presents at least one horrific logical problem. It says that Machaerus is in the hands of Aretas.

Quote:
earlier she herself had dispatched messengers to Machaerus, which was at that time subject to her father, so that when she arrived all preparations for her journey had been made by the governor. She was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one governor to the next as they provided transport. So she speedily reached her father and told him what Herod planned to do.
The text also tells us that Herod sent John to Machaerus in chains.

Quote:
Though John, because of Herod’s suspicions, was brought in chains to Machaerus, the stronghold that we have previously mentioned and there put to death,
Why does Herod send someone to Machaerus which is under the governance of Aretas and the Nabateans? How is it that he has the power to have somebody put to death there? Isn't it a strange coincidence that Aretas' daughter wants to be sent there?

One could say that Aretas and Herod were allies and therefore Aretas was doing this favor for Herod. However, Josephus doesn't tell us this. It can only be confusion to the reader who doesn't know why Herod sent him to Machaerus instead of holding him in Jerusalem or a hundred other places. What is the meaning of the strange coincidence of Aretas' daughter going to Machaerus and John being imprisoned there? In the text as we now have it, this is a mystery.

This is our first puzzle:

Herod sends John in chains to Machaerus, but Machaerus is in the hands of Aretas. Josephus doesn't explain why he does this.

Puzzle number two is why Josephus emphasizes the speed with which Aretas' daughter gets to Aretas:

Quote:
On his return after transacting his business in Rome, his wife who had got wind of his compact with Herodias, before any information reached him that she had discovered everything, asked him to send her away to Machaerus (a fortress), which was on the boundary between the territory of Aretas and that of Herod. She gave no hint, however, of her real purpose. Herod let her go, since he had no notion that the poor woman saw what was afoot. Some time earlier she herself had dispatched messengers to Machaerus, which was at that time subject to her father, so that when she arrived all preparations for her journey had been made by the governor. She was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one governor to the next as they provided transport. So she speedily reached her father and told him what Herod planned to do.
Why the rush? Once Aretas' daughter was in Machaerus, she could easily have gotten the governor to give her passage to her father. This seems a needless detail that Josephus has told us.
This would make sense only if it was Herod planning to ship her back to her father. It would make sense only if he told her that he was planning to send her to Machaerus and instead made plans to send her back to her father. That she reached her father quickly would emphasize how clever Herod was in planning and executing the whole thing.

The third puzzle is in the letter sent by the Emperor Tiberius:

Quote:
Herod sent an account of these events to Tiberius. The latter was incensed to think that Aretas had begun hostilities and wrote Vitellius to declare war and either bring Aretas to him in chains, if he should be captured alive, or, if he should be slain, to send him his head. Such were the instructions of Tiberius to his governor in Syria.
Tiberius sends instructions for Aretas to be brought in chains to him or killed. We never find out what happens. Instead it is John the Baptist who is put in chains and killed. This is the clue that unravels all our mysteries. Aretas is ordered chained and/or killed, but suddenly it is John the Baptist who gets chained and/or killed.

Let us go back to our Harry Potter fanatical world and imagine we had found this text:

Herod told Tiberius what Aretas had done and Tiberius had ordered his governor Vitellius to put Aretas in chains. Vitellius did what he was told and Harry potter was put in chains.

Not only is the forgery obvious, but once we take out Harry Potter's name, we see the name that belongs there - Aretas.

Once we see that it was Aretas and not John the Baptist who was chained and killed, the actual original story falls into place. Josephus must have written originally something along these lines.
Quote:
In the meantime, a quarrel, whose origin I shall relate, arose between Aretas, King of Petra, and Herod. The tetrarch Hreod had taken the daughter of Aretas as his wife and had now been married to her for a long time. When starting out for Rome, he lodged with his half-brother Herod, who was born of a different mother, namely, the daughter of Simon the high priest. Falling in love with Herodias, the wife of this half-brother—she was a daughter of their brother Aristobulus and sister to Agrippa the Great--, he brazenly broached to her the subject of marriage. She accepted and pledged herself to make the transfer to him as soon as he returned from Rome. It was stipulated that he must oust the daughter of Aretas. The agreement made, he set sail for Rome. On his return after transacting his business in Rome, his wife who had not got wind of his compact with Herodias, before any information reached him her andthat she had discovered everything, He asked him her to send her go away to Machaerus (a fortress), which was on the boundary between the territory of Aretas and that of Herod. Shehe gave no hint, however, of her his real purpose. Herod let her go, since he had no notion that the poor woman saw had no notion and never sawwhat was afoot. Some time earlier she herself he himself had dispatched messengers to Machaerus, which was at that time subject to her father, so that when she arrived all preparations for her journey had been made by the governor. She was thus able to start for Arabia as soon as she arrived, being passed from one governor to the next as they provided transport. So she speedily reached her father and told him what Herod planned to do. Aretas Herod made this the start of a quarrel. There was also a dispute about boundaries in the district of Gabalis. Troops were mustered on each side and they were now at war, but they dispatched others as commanders instead of going themselves. In the ensuing battle, the whole army of Herod was destroyed when some refugees, who had come from the tetrarchy of Philip and had joined Herod’s army, played him false. Herod sent an account of these events to Tiberius. The latter was incensed to think that Aretas had begun hostilities and wrote Vitellius to declare war and either bring Aretas to him in chains, if he should be captured alive, or, if he should be slain, to send him his head. Such were the instructions of Tiberius to his governor in Syria.
(116) But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behavior. When others too joined the crowds about him, because they were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons, Herod became alarmed. Eloquence that had so great an effect on mankind might lead to some form of sedition, for it looked as if they would be guided by John in everything that they did. Herod decided therefore that it would be much better to strike first and rid of him before his work led to an uprising, than to wait for an upheaval, get involved in a difficult situation and see his mistake. Though John, Vitellius carried out his orders and Aretas, because of Herod’s suspicions, was brought in chains to Machaerus, the stronghold that we have previously mentioned and there put to death.
This is how that came about -

[from Mark 16:17-28]Herod had sent and seized Aretas, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. 6.18For John Aretas said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 6.19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,
Herod feared John Aretas, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 6.21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 6.22For when Herodias' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." 6.23And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 6.24And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer Aretas." 6.25And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist Aretas on a platter." 6.26And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 6.27And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 6.28and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother...

yet the verdict of the Jews was that the destruction visited upon Herod’s army was a vindication of JohnAretas, since God saw fit to inflict such a blow on Herod.
While a specific reconstruction is impossible, the narrative only makes sense if Aretas, not John, was the man brought in chains to Machaerus and executed. Note how in this version Herod uses first the daughter of Aretas to have him start a war and get arrested and then the daughter of Herodias to have Aretas executed. This parallel manipulation of daughters motif gets lost when the John the Baptist text replaced the Aretas text.

The fact that the Aretas narrative gets left hanging in midair in our current text, but the narrative gets completed when we substitute Aretas for John as the victim is the best proof that Aretas was the victim of Herod's intrigues in the original text. Also, we now have the irony that Aretas gets arrested and sent as a prisoner to Machaerus, a city he governed. The mentioning of Machaerus in relationship to Aretas' daughter now makes sense as a source of irony and misfortune in the story.

While, I am not certain that Mark and Matthew's recitation of the killing of John the Baptist story derives directly from Josephus' narrative, it seems to fit perfectly and may be considered as part of the hypothesis.

Warmly,

Jay Raskin
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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....This argument about the nature of John's baptism is clearly a Christian argument aimed at a Christian audience who knew that Jesus was baptized by John and might wonder why Jesus had to be cleansed of his sins....

If Jesus was known as an ordinary man who did NOT even begin to preach before he was baptized why would people think an ordinary man had NO sin on the day he was baptized?

1. If Jesus was a MAN then he was regarded as a Sinner.

2. Ordinary people, ordinary sinners, wanted to be BAPTIZED by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. That is PRECISELY why they did go to be BAPTIZED by John and not another baptizer.

3. It would have been TOTALLY out of the ordinary for Jesus, an ordinary man and sinner, to have asked to Baptize John the Baptist when the BAPTISM of John was EXACTLY what Jesus WANTED.

For example, people go to BENNY HINN crusades so that BENNY HINN can pray and physically TOUCH them for healing. It would be quite extraordinary that an unknown ordinary person would attempt to reverse roles unannounced and that Benny Hinn would even allow such a thing.

The baptism story of Jesus by John only makes sense if Jesus was NOT regarded as human.

In the NT Canon, Jesus is NOT described as Human but as God Incarnate and really did NOT need to be baptized for remission of sins.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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Hi, Philosopher Jay

Interesting ideas you have there.....

My position on John the Baptist is that this figure is not historical. So Josephus using this pseudo-historical figure in his story re Antipas, Herodias, Aretas and his daughter, has more to do with his own prophetic interests - than that the JtB character has been interpolated by someone else into the Aretas and Herod (Antipas) story.

My own view here is that Josephus is replaying the historical tape of 37 b.c. It is Herod the Great that wants rid of his wife, Doris, in order to marry the Hasmonean Mariamne. There was a long engagement - was Mariamne already married - perhaps to her uncle Antigonus?

If, and I think it is a big if, Herodias marries Herod (Antipas) after the 33/34 c.e. death of Philip - then Herod (Antipas) has already got rid of the daughter of Aretas by that date. Which is giving Aretas a couple of years to think about starting his war with Herod (Antipas) - usually dated to 36 c.e. or shortly prior to the death of Tiberius in 37 c.e. However, I think the whole Josephan Herodias/Antipas/Aretas story is pseudo-history. It's a Josephan replaying of the historical tape of 37 b.c.

Herod the Great = Herod (Antipas)
Antigonus = Aretas
Doris = daughter of Aretas
Mariamne = Herodias, granddaughter of Mariamne

Bringing John the Baptist into the Aretas/Antipas story - the ghost of Antigonus......

And Josephus does a very nice reversal with this war - Aretas wins the day and it's Herod (Antipas) that gets the chop - exile. The destruction of Herod's army being because of what he done to JtB - (Herod the Great sending Antigonus to Marc Antony in Antioch who beheaded him).

Josephus - a master of the double meaning....

If the gospel writers can tell tall tales re their pseudo-historical JC - there is no reason to deny Josephus the same ability.....he is a prophetic historian after all....

(gMark and gMatthew have Herodias being married to Philip prior to her marriage to Herod (Antipas). Josephus does not relate this marriage. The dating for the marriage to Herod (Antipas) is difficult to ascertain with any certainty - if it ever happened. All in all, the whole issue re Herodias is fraught with problems.)
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:49 PM   #4
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Hi, Philosopher Jay

Interesting ideas you have there.....

My position on John the Baptist is that this figure is not historical. So Josephus using this pseudo-historical figure in his story re Antipas, Herodias, Aretas and his daughter, has more to do with his own prophetic interests - than that the JtB character has been interpolated by someone else into the Aretas and Herod (Antipas) story......
You are so engulfed in your error that you simply cannot admit that it is highly unlikely that Josephus would INVENT characters like John the Baptist when there were persons like APION who would have used those inventions to destroy Josephus' credibility.

Have you forgotten about APION?

There is NO evidence that APION accused Josephus of inventing the character called John the Baptist.

See "Against Apion" by Josephus.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:27 AM   #5
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Hi, Philosopher Jay

Interesting ideas you have there.....

My position on John the Baptist is that this figure is not historical. So Josephus using this pseudo-historical figure in his story re Antipas, Herodias, Aretas and his daughter, has more to do with his own prophetic interests - than that the JtB character has been interpolated by someone else into the Aretas and Herod (Antipas) story......
You are so engulfed in your error that you simply cannot admit that it is highly unlikely that Josephus would INVENT characters like John the Baptist when there were persons like APION who would have used those inventions to destroy Josephus' credibility.

Have you forgotten about APION?

There is NO evidence that APION accused Josephus of inventing the character called John the Baptist.

See "Against Apion" by Josephus.

Please see:

Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writings of Josephus:A Traditio-Historical Analysis,Robert K Gnuse (or via: amazon.co.uk)

Quote:
Josephus’ prophetic role as historian merits special attention.....In War 1.18-19 he declares that he will begin writing his history where the prophets ended theirs, so he is continuing this part of their prophetic function. According to Ap.1.29 the priests were custodians of the nation’s historical records, and in Ap.1.37 inspired prophets wrote that history. As a priest Josephus is a custodian of his people’s traditions, and by continuing that history in the Jewish War and subsequently by rewriting it in his Antiquities, he is a prophet. For Josephus prophets and historians preserve the past and predict the future, and he has picked up the mantle of creating prophetic writings. Perhaps, in his own mind he is the first since the canonical prophets to generate inspired historiography....
my bolding
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:55 AM   #6
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Hi, Jay.

It seems that at least some of your argument hinges on how Origen uses his materials - in this case, Josephus. I have tried to to make the case in my blog how Origen seems to have been quite capable of great selectivity and creativity in this regard; here with Origen representing Josephus as stating that James's death brought about the fall of Jerusalem, here with Origen apparently revising Paul on the issue of James as a brother of Jesus, and here with Origen correcting the prophet Ezekiel where he perceived Ezekiel as referring to David (rather than Jesus) as Christ. Based on the little I know, I wouldn't be surprised if Origen followed Josephus with respect to baptism for purification (because it's what Josephus presumably wrote) but added, of his own initiative, baptism's role in remission of sins (because this is what Origen himself knew to be the true case). It seems to me that, for Origen's witness to be supportive of this hypothesis, one would have to demonstrate Origen's fidelity to the texts he cites.

Cheers,

V.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:21 AM   #7
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See "Against Apion" by Josephus.

Please see:

Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writings of Josephus:A Traditio-Historical Analysis,Robert K Gnuse (or via: amazon.co.uk).....
No, I don't want FLAWED OPNION based on IMAGINATION. I want SOURCES of antiquity that support your claim that Josephus may have invented John the Baptist.

I REFERRED to "AGAINST APION" so that you would be able to have an idea of the things that APION may have questioned in the writings of Josephus.

There is NO indication in the 2 books of "Against Apion" that Apion suggested that John the Baptist was an Invention, prophetic or not.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:33 AM   #8
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See "Against Apion" by Josephus.

Please see:

Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writings of Josephus:A Traditio-Historical Analysis,Robert K Gnuse (or via: amazon.co.uk).....
No, I don't want FLAWED OPNION based on IMAGINATION. I want SOURCES of antiquity that support your claim that Josephus may have invented John the Baptist.

I REFERRED to "AGAINST APION" so that you would be able to have an idea of the things that APION may have questioned in the writings of Josephus.

There is NO indication in the 2 books of "Against Apion" that Apion suggested that John the Baptist was an Invention, prophetic or not.
OK - aa5874 - out with the historical evidence that a character referenced as John the Baptist - in Antiquities - is a historical figure. Unless you can do that - I'm free to think otherwise.....:huh:
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:54 AM   #9
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...
There is NO indication in the 2 books of "Against Apion" that Apion suggested that John the Baptist was an Invention, prophetic or not.
A quick search shows no mention in Against Apion of John the Baptist.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by aa5874 View Post

See "Against Apion" by Josephus.

Please see:

Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writings of Josephus:A Traditio-Historical Analysis,Robert K Gnuse (or via: amazon.co.uk).....
No, I don't want FLAWED OPNION based on IMAGINATION. I want SOURCES of antiquity that support your claim that Josephus may have invented John the Baptist.

I REFERRED to "AGAINST APION" so that you would be able to have an idea of the things that APION may have questioned in the writings of Josephus.

There is NO indication in the 2 books of "Against Apion" that Apion suggested that John the Baptist was an Invention, prophetic or not.
OK - aa5874 - out with the historical evidence that a character referenced as John the Baptist - in Antiquities - is a historical figure. Unless you can do that - I'm free to think otherwise.....:huh:
You seem to be dreaming your history of John the Baptist and still accuse Josephus of doing the very same thing.

You simply cannot show that Josephus invented John the Baptist.

The DATA you need to make such a claim cannot be found anywhere in Extant sources of antiquity.

Please, stop dreaming.
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