Steve Mason, Josephus, Jesus and the Testimonium Flavianum

Steve Mason, Josephus, Jesus and the Testimonium Flavianum June 23, 2021

Dr Steve Mason knows him some Josephus, that’s for sure. Check this interview out with my friend Tim Mills. Mason goes into some pretty good detail to show that the famous Testimonium Flavianum is most certainly interpolated to some degree, though there appears to have been something already there that was theologically embellished:

Hume’s Apprentice, a fellow blogger at my previous Skeptic Ink Network home, has just written a piece on Josephus and this passage. He brings into play a recent journal paper:

Most important to all of this is that the latest peer-reviewed assessment of the extrabiblical evidence for Jesus (written by a historicist!) is largely in agreement with the worthlessness of it, and even in agreement that both passages we have discussed are interpolated (added later, forged). Chris Hansen writing for the American Journal of Biblical Theology Feb. 2021:

“In what follows, I will make the case that the extrabiblical evidence is likely not that useful for establishing that Jesus did, in fact, exist as there are numerous epistemological problems with all of it, but that it does, however, aid historicists more than those who challenge the historicity of Jesus in one very important respect: it demonstrates that early Christians were not believing in a celestial Jesus, but one who had lived as a historical person on Earth.” (p.4)

“To begin, we can look at what I would consider the reconstructed sources, these being in the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) and book 20 of Antiquities by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3 and 20.9.1 respectively). While many academics would regard these as authentic, the present author does find it likely that these were wholesale interpolations in the work of Josephus, based on the arguments of Ken Olson, Ivan Prchlík, and N. P. L. Allen.” (p.6)

Mason gives us more on Josephus here:

He continues here, talking about the early Christians:


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