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Old 11-18-2008, 01:10 PM   #21
andrewcriddle
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Rivka Nir, Open University of Israel
Josephus on John the Baptist: A Christian Interpolation? (20 min)

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The consensus among scholars today is that the passage in Josephus about John the Baptist, AJ 18.116-119, is authentic. In this paper I challenge this consensus, and argue that the passage is a Christian interpolation reflecting an internal Christian dispute concerning the questions—

1) Is remission of sins the result of immersion in water or is it achieved by spiritual purification prior to immersion?

2) What is the role of bodily purity in Christian baptism?

Judaeo-Christian movements, to which I maintain the author of the passage belonged, retained the Jewish principle of immersion for bodily purity, but with it emphasized penitence, the Christian requirement for remission of sin.

Details of the passage also indicate Christian interpolation.

1. The epithet assigned to John, "the Baptist," and the terms the author uses for immersion (baptismos, baptisis) are taken from the Christian theological vocabulary.

2. The call to "join in baptism" suggests a mass collective immersion, an initiation into a new community, like Christian baptism, and, as in the case of Christian baptism, there is preaching and exhortation for it.

3. The expresssion "acceptable to God" associates immersion with the sacrificial rite in the Temple, which, like Christian baptism, it replaces.

4. John's baptism cannot be the Jewish Pharisaic immersion, the Essene immersion, or that of Bannus, for though in all of these the immersion is for purification of the body, none of these immersions has anything to do with repentance and spiritual purity, nor do they atone for sin.

Finally, I argue that Origen did not have the Josephus passage as we have it. The first reference to it is in Eusebius, and the interpolation must have been made at about or shortly before his time.
On the basis of these arguments, it might be preferable to suggest that a Christian gloss about the religious significance of Baptism has become interpolated in a basically authentic account of John the Baptist by Josephus.

Andrew Criddle
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Old 11-18-2008, 02:03 PM   #22
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I should add that in his Commentary on Matthew, Origen states "[Josephus] says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James." When in fact there is no such statement in either Josephus or Hegesippus.

Now, maybe Hegesippus did say something along those lines. But we have no record of it. Making it, IMO, no more or less likely than that Josephus originally said something along those lines.

And notice that this is different than his claim in Against Celsus--that Josephus himself attributed the fall of Jerusalem to the death of James. Furthermore, in Book II of Against Celsus, Josephus makes another error--he repeats that Josephus attributed the siege of Jerusalem to the death of James, but he also states (correctly) that it began under Nero and was completed by Titus--whereas in the Hegesippus passage about James, it is Vespasian who is said to have besieged and captured Judea.

Finally, Hegesippus doesn't even actually blame the war on the death of James. So exactly what is Origen even confused about? Perhaps he interpreted Hegesippus to mean that he blamed the war on James' death--but then, where does the claim in the Commentary on Matthew come from--that it was the people who laid the blame on his death? Because Hegesippus doesn't say that, either, nor could he be plausibly interpreted to mean that. You could suggest that Hegesippus made that claim in a lost fragment--but we don't have evidence for that. What we do have, however, is an oddly parallel passage--the claim, in our text of Ant., that the people blamed the destruction of Agrippa I's army on the death of John.

Now, this is all kind of circumstantial, so maybe Origen was not only confused, but inconsistent. But it doesn't seem like he's being inconsistent about anything that Hegesippus said. Instead, it seems like he's interpreting a passage very much like the one in Ant. about John, but was instead about James. Again, I am suggesting that somewhere there was a statement that others attributed the fall of Jerusalem to the death of James--maybe in Hegesippus, alright, but maybe in an original version of Josephus instead?

(Ben, can you point me toward Ken Olson's argument that the Origen passage resembles the Hegesippus passage?)
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Old 11-18-2008, 02:05 PM   #23
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Rivka Nir, Open University of Israel
Josephus on John the Baptist: A Christian Interpolation? (20 min)
On the basis of these arguments, it might be preferable to suggest that a Christian gloss about the religious significance of Baptism has become interpolated in a basically authentic account of John the Baptist by Josephus.

Andrew Criddle
Note though that if it can be argued that Origen's silence about the TF is evidence that it wasn't in his copy, then your argument requires there to have been two Christian interpolators--one of the JtB passage, another for the TF. This adds a degree of complexity to your suggestion.
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Old 11-18-2008, 02:41 PM   #24
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I should add that in his Commentary on Matthew, Origen states "[Josephus] says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James." When in fact there is no such statement in either Josephus or Hegesippus.
There is indeed a statement in Hegesippus that could easily be read as post hoc ergo propter hoc; after describing the death of James at the hands of the Jews, he turns right around and adds that straightway Vespasian besieged them (ευθυς Ουεσπασιανος πολιορκει αυτους).

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Furthermore, in Book II of Against Celsus, Josephus makes another error--he repeats that Josephus attributed the siege of Jerusalem to the death of James, but he also states (correctly) that it began under Nero and was completed by Titus--whereas in the Hegesippus passage about James, it is Vespasian who is said to have besieged and captured Judea.
How is this an error? It is historically true (as Origen says in 2.13) that the revolt began under Nero, was continued by Vespasian, and completed by Titus under the continued leadership of Vespasian, exactly as Origen says in 2.13. It is also true (as Hegesippus says) that Vespasian besieged Jerusalem. Furthermore, I think the reminiscence of Josephus (Hegesippus) in 2.13 really begins only after ως μεν Ιωσηπος γραφει.

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Finally, Hegesippus doesn't even actually blame the war on the death of James.
It is very easy to read him as saying this, post hoc ergo propter hoc, as I mentioned above.

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So exactly what is Origen even confused about? Perhaps he interpreted Hegesippus to mean that he blamed the war on James' death--but then, where does the claim in the Commentary on Matthew come from--that it was the people who laid the blame on his death? Because Hegesippus doesn't say that, either, nor could he be plausibly interpreted to mean that. You could suggest that Hegesippus made that claim in a lost fragment--but we don't have evidence for that. What we do have, however, is an oddly parallel passage--the claim, in our text of Ant., that the people blamed the destruction of Agrippa I's army on the death of John.
That is, IIRC, how Olson reads it; Origen is conflating the people in Hegesippus with the people in (the real) Josephus.

The options you are presenting are not mutually exclusive.

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(Ben, can you point me toward Ken Olson's argument that the Origen passage resembles the Hegesippus passage?)
It was a private email correspondence between Olson and Kirby that Olson sent my way. I cannot seem to locate it in its entirety right now, but I do have part of it from a page of notes:
Eusebius' quotation of Hegesippus in HE 2.23.4-18 has forms of DIKAIOJ, as either a noun designating James or an adjective modifying James, 13 times, and LAOJ 10 times. Within the passage Hegesippus states: "He [James] was called the Righteous by all men from the Lord's time to ours;" "on account of his extreme righteousness, he [James] was called the Righteous and Oblias, that is in Greek 'rampart of the people and righteousness;'" "the whole people testify to you that you [James] are righteous."
There is more than this; hopefully I can locate the rest of the exchange and find more relevant details.

Ben.
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:34 PM   #25
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There is indeed a statement in Hegesippus that could easily be read as post hoc ergo propter hoc; after describing the death of James at the hands of the Jews, he turns right around and adds that straightway Vespasian besieged them (ευθυς Ουεσπασιανος πολιορκει αυτους).
But this is an implication of Hegesippus at most, not of "the people".

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Furthermore, I think the reminiscence of Josephus (Hegesippus) in 2.13 really begins only after ως μεν Ιωσηπος γραφει.
Alright, then we can let that pass.

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It is very easy to read him as saying this, post hoc ergo propter hoc, as I mentioned above....That is, IIRC, how Olson reads it; Origen is conflating the people in Hegesippus with the people in (the real) Josephus.
But again, there are no "people" in Hegesippus' passage about James even implying that the events were linked. We can see how Origen might link the death of James to the siege; it's much harder to see how the people in the passage could be read as promoting the idea.

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There is more than this; hopefully I can locate the rest of the exchange and find more relevant details.
Thanks.
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:40 PM   #26
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But again, there are no "people" in Hegesippus' passage about James even implying that the events were linked. We can see how Origen might link the death of James to the siege; it's much harder to see how the people in the passage could be read as promoting the idea.
Sorry, I am not following the objection. How does a mental conflation of Hegesippus and Josephus not explain Origen in this respect? Hegesippus supplies the death of James and its connection with a Jewish defeat; Josephus supplies another death and its connection with another Jewish defeat. What remains?

Ben.
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Old 11-18-2008, 03:56 PM   #27
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I found my hardcopy of Olson, but not my original electronic copy. Here are some excerpts:
Origen misconstrues or misremembers Josephus as saying that (1) James was called the Just (2) he had a reputation for righteousness among the people (3) the Temple was destroyed by the Romans because of this. None of this came from Josephus. Points (1) and (2) are explicitly stated in Hegesippus and (3) is implied. This is what led Thackeray and Winter to suggest that Origen was misattributing to Josephus what he had read in Hegesippus.

....

They may both [Origen and the Chronicon Paschale] be confusing Hegesippus with Josephus. This was a fairly common mistake in antiquity and in the middle ages.

....

I think Origen's statement in Comm. Mt. 10.17 could more easily be called a paraphrase of Hegesippus than it could a paraphrase of Josephus.

....

The tradition of attributing the destruction of the Temple to the killing of James [as implied in Hegesippus and stated in Origen] does not appear to have been widespread. It's not found in the extant remains of our other sources for James the Just (Gospel of Thomas, I and II Apocalypse of James, Pseudo-Clementines, Gospel of the Hebrews).
Ben.
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:21 PM   #28
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Sorry, I am not following the objection. How does a mental conflation of Hegesippus and Josephus not explain Origen in this respect? Hegesippus supplies the death of James and its connection with a Jewish defeat; Josephus supplies another death and its connection with another Jewish defeat. What remains?
What remains is Origen's claim, in the Commentary on Matthew, that the people blamed the fall of Jerusalem on the death of James. Ant. 18, for example, says the people blamed the defeat of Agrippa I on the death of John. Hegesippus implies that the author (i.e. Hegesippus) blamed the fall of Jerusalem on the death of James. What's missing is any suggestion, by either Josephus or Hegesippus, that the people blamed the war with Rome on the death of James.
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:34 PM   #29
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What's missing is any suggestion, by either Josephus or Hegesippus, that the people blamed the war with Rome on the death of James.
You seem to be completely ignoring the part where I suggested that Origen misremembered the people blaming the war on the death of James from the people blaming another war on the death of John the baptist. Between these two texts (Hegesippus and Josephus on John), what remains?

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Old 11-18-2008, 07:51 PM   #30
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You mean the CBQ article that was once available free [K. A. Olson, "Eusebius and the Testimonium Flavianum," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 61.2 (1999) 305-322]? CBQ went to a "free to subscribers only" format some while ago. If you find your copy, let me know, as I only had the dead link saved.

Ken did post a "fairly long essay" under the title "Eusebian fabrications: the testimonium Flavianum" on Crosstalk2 dated July, 29, 2000 (#4869)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/4869

Ken's long dormant Blog has some links to other posts and responses to his proposals, mainly at Crosstalk2 and Stephen Carlson's blog:
http://kaimoi.blogspot.com/2005/03/k...-et-al_31.html

I am aware of one fairly serious although ideologically hyped challenge from the evangelical Christian perspective (the CBQ article is not cited specifically for some reason by author Christopher Price) at:
http://www.christiancadre.org/member..._josephus.html


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Originally Posted by Ben C Smith View Post
I found my hardcopy of Olson, but not my original electronic copy. Here are some excerpts:
Origen misconstrues or misremembers Josephus as saying that (1) James was called the Just (2) he had a reputation for righteousness among the people (3) the Temple was destroyed by the Romans because of this. None of this came from Josephus. Points (1) and (2) are explicitly stated in Hegesippus and (3) is implied. This is what led Thackeray and Winter to suggest that Origen was misattributing to Josephus what he had read in Hegesippus.

....

They may both [Origen and the Chronicon Paschale] be confusing Hegesippus with Josephus. This was a fairly common mistake in antiquity and in the middle ages.

....

I think Origen's statement in Comm. Mt. 10.17 could more easily be called a paraphrase of Hegesippus than it could a paraphrase of Josephus.

....

The tradition of attributing the destruction of the Temple to the killing of James [as implied in Hegesippus and stated in Origen] does not appear to have been widespread. It's not found in the extant remains of our other sources for James the Just (Gospel of Thomas, I and II Apocalypse of James, Pseudo-Clementines, Gospel of the Hebrews).
Ben.
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