Thursday, January 16, 2014

Josephus's Jesuses

From the II Errancy discussion list, January 9, 2002:
I once took the time to count up all the Jesuses listed in
Josephus from I think it was 100 BC to 50 AD. It was a
relatively large number, like 40-50 of them. Most of them
were minor political or religious leaders. I think there
were several Jesuses listed in the Talmud for the same
period. There are even at least two possible passing references
to other Jesuses in the NT for heaven's sake. In some very
old manuscripts of the gospels' Barabbas (Aramaic name
means "son of the father"), a supposed revolutionary political
leader, has the first name of Jesus, and there is a Jewish
magician with the Greek name Elymas and a Hebrew name
of Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus) who Paul out magics in Acts
chapter 13. It is not hard to imagine that stories from
either of these two men's lives or any of the other Jesuses
could have added to the gospels' myths. When it is considered
that the gospels were written at least 30-40 years after the
events they describe and there were all these Jesuses
running around doing things that were being remembered
in folk tales, I would think that it is reasonable to suspect
there was far more than one human Jesus that inspired
the stories of the gospels. If you add to this possibility
that any good story about a Jewish religious teacher who was
addressed in the story by his followers as simply "Rabbi" might
also have mistakenly become part of the Christian mythology,
I think the idea that no one "Jesus" of the gospels ever existed
is very reasonable.

It's rather odd that Josephus, who was born shortly after the

time Jesus was allegedly crucified, would have mentioned
so many obscure Jesuses but mentioned Jesus the
miracle-worker and resurrected one only in two short
statements whose authenticity has been challenged by
many scholars.

Farrell Till

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