• April 21, 2024

Josephus forgery on Jesus

Here’s a neat little paragraph succinctly summarizing one of the many problems with the passage in the works of the Jewish historian Josephus used to “prove” the historicity of Jesus Christ, called the “Testimonium Flavianum”:

“Its brevity disproves its authenticity. Josephus’ work is voluminous and exhaustive. It comprises 20 books. Whole pages are devoted to petty robbers and obscure seditious leaders. Nearly forty chapters are devoted to the life of a single king. Yet this remarkable being, the greatest product of his race, a being of whom the prophets foretold ten thousand wonderful things, a being greater than any earthly king, is dismissed in a dozen lines.”

John Remsburg, The Christ (29)

There is much more, of course, although one would think this argument alone would suffice to prove this passage is fake in toto. Yet, because it often contended that the TF is the “best evidence” for Christ’s historicity, it is fought for tooth and nail. Hence, the existence of the world’s most famous man essentially rests on a brief and palpably bogus forgery.

Further Reading

The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Unveiled

The value of Josephus in establishing a historical Jesus

17 thoughts on “Josephus forgery on Jesus

    Unfortunately, the ‘believers’ won’t rely on the lack of evidence to disway their belief. Their ‘evidence’ is neatly packaged in their Holy Bible and, despite the fact that that book is full of myths, lies, postulations and inaccuracies, they are firm in their denial of any other ‘evidence’ – including the fact that there is NO CONTEMPORANEOUS WRITING that supports their belief that there was ever a Jesus who became the Christ. None!

    So, as welcome as this discussion is amongst those of us who treasure the search for factual, historical evidence for that which we take as ‘truth’, this discussion will be meaningless to those who truly need to read and understand it.

  2. Almost ignored, overlooked and disregarded.
    If both Josephus and Jesus were Jewish, and if Jesus really performed all those miracles, and if crowds of people witnessed those miracles, then I would think that Josephus would have felt a great deal of pride for his fellow Jew, Jesus, and would have written 40 (chapters) on Jesus; or at least 40 (paragraphs)? How ’bout 40 (sentences)?

    When Josephus was in his younger years, there had to have been thousands of (un)educated people and hundreds of (educated) people still living who could have personally told Josephus that they witnessed the miracles of, and communicated with, Jesus.

    If Josephus had really heard about Jesus, wouldn’t Josephus, of all people, referrenced his source of his news of Jesus?

    If Josephus had really heard about Jesus, then it’s very illogical that in his writings Josephus would almost completely ignore, overlook and disregard Jesus.

    1. I tend to disagree. Let me start by saying that I’m not sure what I believe so you don’t think I’m just spewing nonsense around to prove a point. However, knowing something about the period, I’m not surprised at all that Josephus did not write much about the historical Jesus. At the time, Jesus’ followers were being persecuted, both by the Romans and by the Jewish establishment. Christians still considered themselves to be Jews, but the Jews did not consider the Christians to be pure, as it were. It was dangerous to talk about Jesus.

      That being said, Jesus was not an important character at the time. At the very least, nobody could have predicted that the tiny sect of his followers would eventually grow into the largest religion in the world. “Messiahs” were popping up every other week in Judea. The Romans were constantly crucifying “messiahs” that Josephus does not even mention. Some of those “messiahs” had much larger followings than Jesus had during his life, and many people believed that those “messiahs” had performed miracles too. They were a product of their time. The Jewish people dreamed of liberation from the Romans, and they believed that a new Davidic king would kick the Romans out. So every once in a while, a new person would come along claiming to be the Messiah.

      In the end, the lack of historical evidence for Jesus is not surprising. To most people, he was just another “messiah.” Most people did not take him seriously. The only people who wrote extensively about him were the people who thought he really was the Messiah, and they wrote the New Testament. I guess what I am saying is that you should base your belief or disbelief in Jesus on your personal conviction, and not on the lack of historical evidence. That is very weak.

      1. I disagree Adrian, ‘Carpet Ride’ is right, if Jesus really existed and did all those things attributed to him Josephus would certainly have noticed and written about it. There’s no way around that fact and Josephus would definitely not’ve been the only one. Philo and many others would’ve taken notice as well. At the end of the day, making claims like: “the lack of historical evidence for Jesus is not surprising” is pure hogwash. That is simply an absurd nonsensical argument.

        In over 20 passages throughout the canonical gospels claiming Jesus was famed far and wide not a single one has ever been substantiated with credible evidence:

        Jesus famed far and wide:

        “These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

        Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

        Mark 1:28, 10:1;

        Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

        – Who Was Jesus?, page 85

        Adrian: “The only people who wrote extensively about him were the people who thought he really was the Messiah, and they wrote the New Testament”

        No, they did not. The authors of the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are all anonymous. Nobody really knows who wrote them and the never came into existence until the mid to late 2nd century. That is what the literary and historical records show. The gospel authors were not eye-witnesses who ever met Jesus. Paul never met Jesus in the flesh either.

        Adrian: “you should base your belief or disbelief in Jesus on your personal conviction, and not on the lack of historical evidence. That is very weak.”

        LOL, no, that would be ridiculous. Credible evidence is anything but a ‘weak argument.’ If there existed credible evidence for Jesus faith would not be the main requirement.

        Even New Testament scholars who are also professed Christians disagree with you, Adrian:

        “The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres.”

        Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus

        – Who Was Jesus? 24

        * Dr. Crossan is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies

  3. Faith
    The “holy” in Hebrew means “set apart.” Good things come to those who wait. Who among us has never experienced at least one small miracle in his/her lifetime?

    How about ghosts, does Josephus attempt to prove or disprove their existense? Is proof or disproof even possible? Not really. I do appreciate your research, Acharya.

    What would we do without sunshine?

    Those who seek the Truth unwaveringly will experience greater joy than those who deny things categorically.

    Something to hope for…


    1. Proof and sunshine?
      Juddson – If you mean by miracle a supernatural intervention then the answer to your question is No one. There are coincidences, hoaxes, frauds, and occurrences that are explained by natural events. Nothing more.

      Your reference to ghosts reveals a gross failure of the educational system in our country. Ghosts quite often fall under the heading of beliefs of gullible fantasy prone people. They are hoaxes and misinterpretations and are pseudoscience. Ghost hunters use equipment they don’t understand. One popular type of instrument is an EM meter. It detects electromagnetic fields. So each time they get close to some wiring they get a beep. They then claim that ectoplasmic residue is present and the credulous are amazed.
      Finally in response to your statement “Is proof or disproof even possible”. A great philosophical question. I certainly cannot prove that I will not be struck by lightning 10 times tomorrow. But the probability is so high that I will not, that I feel confident when I say that I won’t. Simply by understanding the world and how it obeys certain laws we can be quite certain of many things. Mathematics also has many proofs as its framework.

      When investigating any claim we look for evidence which is valid and verifiable. The scant Josephus passages were determined to be forged centuries ago by christians. One argument used was that he was Jewish and would never have referred to anyone as The Christ. Sounds like common sense to me. There are other arguments such as Acharya has presented as well that demonstrate the same conclusion.

      As far as proving a negative…you are right. But that’s not the point. Investigating claims requires evidence for validation. And when we try to do this for the existence of Jesus Christ there isn’t even the slimmest of verifiable evidence. It is all revealed to be forged fraudulent claims backed by further fraudulent claims.

      As far as your sunshine comment…well we wouldn’t exist so we really wouldn’t care.

      1. I wrote a rather lengthy reply to a previous comment (only 2 above) to which I refer you, but I feel it is important to reply to this message personally. I suspect that there is a higher power, and generally speaking, I think I am a Christian. As I wrote above, I’m not really sure, but I think I believe in Christ.

        That being said, you bring up a good point. The comment to which you replied is a very poor argument for the existence of Christ. I commend the person who wrote it on his faith and bravery, but it is not very helpful.

        Like I said, Jesus was considered by most people to be one of dozens, if not hundreds of people who called themselves “messiahs.” Many, like Jesus, were executed by Rome. Most were not mentioned by Josephus either, so it is not surprising that Josephus did not mention him.

        However, I disagree that there is no evidence for the historical Christ. People should not so quickly dismiss the Bible as a historical document. More often than not, archaeology supports what the Bible says. Of course, this is not true for Genesis (the Universe was obviously not created in six physical days. This belief is actually rather new. In the past, most people interpreted the “six days” thing as six periods of time. After all, the sun doesn’t come around until the fourth day, so how could the first three days have happened? Plus, the Hebrew word can also mean “period of time” as well as “day”).

        But I digress. It is easy to prove Biblically described battles from the Old Testament (there is plenty of archaeological evidence), but it is much harder to prove the existence of someone who, at the time, was a relatively insignificant figure. To most Jews, he was an impostor and to the Romans and other people of the Empire, he was some rebel that was executed. They would not have heard of him unless an Apostle came to their city to preach.

        Now back to the Biblical evidence. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that over 500 people, most of whom were still alive, saw Christ after the Resurrection. Paul, who wrote the letter, is a historically verifiable figure, and most scholars accept his letters as legitimate. At the time, there were anywhere from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 people living in Palestine, which encompassed Judea. If 500 people had seen the risen Christ, far from everyone would have known someone who had seen Jesus, but if anyone were really serious about finding out more, he would be able to find an eyewitness. So it follows that Paul would not have been able to make such a claim if it were not true.

        There is much more evidence, but I will only give one more piece of evidence. I could write this all out, but there is a short and concise article already in existence. Here you go.


        I recommend you read the whole thing, but let me bring your attention to one short passage.

        “Greenlee adds that “since scholars accept as generally trustworthy the writings of the ancient classics even though the earliest MSS were written so long after the original writings and the number of extant MSS is in many instances so small, it is clear that the reliability of the text of the N.T. is likewise assured.””

        1. Adrian, your version of this history appears to have more to do with Christian re-visionism than any sort of accuracy. Josephus mentioned around 20 different Jesus’s and none turn out to be the NT Jesus. The TF has been considered a forgery by scholars for centuries.

          The bible is in no way considered an accurate historical document. It is a fictional book. Archaeology has shown the bible to be false.

          Adrian “We read in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that over 500 people, most of whom were still alive, saw Christ after the Resurrection.”

          Christian NT scholars disagree with you:

          “One would naturally expect that the Lord Jesus Christ would be sufficiently important to receive ample notice in the literature of his time, and that extensive biographical material would be available. He was observed by multitudes of people, and his own followers numbered into the hundreds (1 Cor. 15:6), whose witness was still living in the middle of the first century. As a matter of fact, the amount of information concerning him is comparatively meager. Aside from the four Gospels, and a few scattered allusions in the epistles, contemporary history is almost silent concerning him.”

          Merrill C. Tenney

          – Who Was Jesus? 85-86

          * Dr. Tenney is a conservative evangelical Christian who was a professor of Theological Studies and the dean of the school of Theology at Wheaton College. Tenney was also one of the original translators of the NASB and NIV editions of the Bible.

          Adrian “Paul, who wrote the letter, is a historically verifiable figure, and most scholars accept his letters as legitimate.”

          Even a cursory search would reveal that even Christian NT scholars concede that half of Paul’s letters are unauthentic.

          “Greenlee adds that “since scholars accept as generally trustworthy the writings of the ancient classics even though the earliest MSS were written so long after the original writings and the number of extant MSS is in many instances so small, it is clear that the reliability of the text of the N.T. is likewise assured.””

          [quote]The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, remarks:

          “The NT [New Testament] is now known, in whole or in part, in nearly five thousand Greek MSS [manuscripts] alone. Every one of these handwritten copies differs from every other one … It has been estimated that these MSS and quotations differ among themselves between 150,000 and 250,000 times. The actual figure is, perhaps, much higher…”

          “…A study of 150 Greek MSS of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings … It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the NT in which the MS tradition is wholly uniform.”

          “…Many thousands of the variants which are found in the MSS of the NT were put there deliberately. They are not merely the result of error or of careless handling of the text. Many were created for theological or dogmatic reasons… It is because the books of the NT are religious books, sacred books, canonical books, that they were changed to conform to what the copyist believed to be the true reading.”

          – Who Was Jesus?, pages 48/49

          * The TID is a conservative Christian authority “Text, NT,” v. 4; 594-595[/quote]

  4. Here’s the irony. The more evidence shown to disprove Christianity, the stronger their faith becomes. :woohoo:
    I simply don’t get the mental gymnastics to reach that kind of conclusion. :huh:

  5. The words that came to prophets from the Lord were repeated many times from God through many different prophets throughout the ages. Not one prophet claimed they were original. Furthermore, every single word Jesus Christ spoke while on the earth, he spoke to prophets in the past while he was in heaven, and Jesus himself was the word of God. So your claims that the words prophets and Jesus spoke were not original, do not disprove Christianity in any way. Nice try though. You’ll have to come up with a better deception than that Satan!

  6. re:
    [quote name=”Hector”]Here’s the irony. The more evidence shown to disprove Christianity, the stronger their faith becomes. :woohoo:
    I simply don’t get the mental gymnastics to reach that kind of conclusion. :huh: [/quote]

    This may be of a truth, but in the last days Satan will produce overwhelming evidence contrary to Christ and him crucified. It’s get so bad that God has no choice but to cut the times short, least the vary elect be deceived as well. The tricks of the trade have become outrageous and unfair. This will cause a heavy hand to be leaned on those who use such techniques.

    1. So, God provided us with intelligence which we use when we apply those “techniques” to verify the truth of certain claims about Christianity.

      God also created the universe and all of its contents, like the matter and the laws of physics.

      So, using intelligence to accept or refuse evidence, in other words, following our nature to understand nature is against the creator of our nature and the nature itself.

      That’s not faith; that is a trick of the mind.

      And it’s exactly the same argument that keep Europe sleeping for more than a thousand years.

      What you’re saying is: no one can alter Christian faith… not even Christ.

  7. Few things your missing here
    1. Josephus didn’t live during Jesus time
    2. he wrote 20 books 3 of which mention Christ or the king of the Jews
    3. the only thing that has been honestly questioned about the works is his the section on how Jesus died. Josephus in the end switched sides and was touted as a roman. Which is why his name changed from Joseph ben Matityahu to Titus Flavius Josephus
    4. To speak praise or good words about any of the messiahs of that time was treason punishable by death so even if he did believe Jesus he could write about it openly without risk his own life.
    5. There are more documents that speak of the king of the Jews (which we believe to be Jesus Christ) how ever there was 11 crucifixions before Christ and several after for treason as a threat to roman empire.

    1. Thank you. I have addressed the Josephus issue much more extensively elsewhere ([url]http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-8327295676949120%3Ao4kcodsrg5k&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=josephus&sa=Search&siteurl=freethoughtnation.com%2F&ref=&ss=3j3j8#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=josephus&gsc.page=1[/url]), including the [i]one [/i]other mention in the James passage.

      The relevant phrase in the James passage appears to be an interpolation, and there remains no solid evidence that Josephus had any knowledge of a historical “Jesus of Nazareth” remotely resembling the character in the New Testament.

      Moreover, none of the other supposed references to Jesus Christ ([url]http://truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm[/url]) in the historical record of the first two centuries provides evidence of the earthly existence of such a figure.

      The historical record is empty because the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters. A composite of multiple “people” is no one. When the mythological and midrashic layers are removed, there remains no historical core to the onion.

  8. The very fact that although I smoke occasionally, drink too much, (according to the holy men and my wife) eat pork and work on Sundays, make love with pleasure and enjoyment without risk of pro-creation and don’t incessantly thank some fluffy-cloudy and very INTOLERANT person who allegedly lived in the past for allowing me the privilege to live, be it any of the prophets or gods, makes me un-religious or unworthy and should be killed by stoning or worse as advocated in the “books” proves that such texts are controlling bigotry.
    I am still alive, have a good standard of living and I’m able to decide for myself what is right or wrong, (thanks to my un-biased and free-thinking upbringing) and happily live without having some zealot telling me HOW I should think! Quite frankly, I can tell the difference between right and wrong myself and any religion that tells you that if you don’t believe, you will be punished is a load of codswollop. THINK PEOPLE!!!!!!!! Are you incapable of deciding what are basic human rights, how we should treat our fellow man, how to conduct ourselves without insulting others, being tolerant of other’s intolerance? These are fundamental attributes of a “civilized” society. Those who believe in well-massaged books of the past, when society was not considered to be “civilized” are proving just that! They are “uncivilized” They rely on bigoted, manipulative, and oppressing manuscripts, written and re-written to suit the times and moods of the CONTROLLER of the author, and are out of touch with modern civilization where most would prefer a life without conflict and intolerance.

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