Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture


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Asia was the name of a Roman province in what is now western Turkey Asia Minor. Perhaps he compared it to Roman records, whether in general governmental archives or in records concerning various religions.

I have read one analysis by an author who arbitrarily assumes that Tacitus got his information only from Christians—no other source. He likely had access to some archives through his status, either as Proconsul of Asia, as a senator—or, as is often overlooked, from his connections as a high-ranking priest of Roman religion.

In 88 C. Membership in this priestly regulatory group very likely gave Tacitus access to at least some of the accurate knowledge he possessed about Christus. With characteristic brevity, he reported the facts as he understood them, quickly dismissing the despised, executed Christus from the Annals see Meier, Marginal Jew , vol. Tacitus himself tells us … that in 88 [C.

It rather sounds as if he took his religious office seriously …. Tacitus presents himself as a man concerned to preserve traditional Roman religious practice, convinced that when religious matters are allowed to slide or are completely disregarded, the gods will vent their anger on the Roman people to correct their error. Tacitus was in his twenties in 79 C. Vesuvius annihilated the city of Pompeii.

One can reasonably suppose how he might have interpreted this disaster in relation to the Roman gods. Quoted from Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , p. Jewish Antiquities , XX. Odd as it may seem, the English name James is ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Jacob. The omitted words indicated by the ellipsis … are in Greek, to let scholars know what words are translated into English. Winter asserts that Josephus mentions about twelve others named Jesus. Feldman puts that number at Feldman and Gohei Hata, eds.

Press, , p. See Meier, Marginal Jew , vol. Richard T. Josephus says James was executed by stoning before the Jewish War began, but Christian tradition says he was executed during the Jewish War by being thrown from a height of the Temple, then, after an attempt to stone him was prevented, finally being clubbed to death. It was modern scholar John P.

Meier who put these passages in italics. Christians believe that Jesus was fully human, but also fully Divine, having two natures in one person. This clause seems intended to lead toward the two boldly Christian statements that come later. This straightforward translation from Greek, in which I have italicized three phrases, is by Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , pp. Meier subtracts these three apparently Christian portions from the Testimonium. What remains is a very plausible suggestion, possibly the authentic, smoothly flowing report written by Flavius Josephus—or very close to it.

Here is the remainder:. Around this time there lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was one who did surprising deeds, and a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who in the first place came to love him did not give up their affection for him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, have still to this day not died out Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , pp.

Regarding differing religious convictions of readers that have generated disagreements about this passage at least since medieval times, see Alice Whealey, Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times , Studies in Biblical Literature, vol. In the High Middle Ages c. The problem was that with few exceptions, both sides argued from a priori assumptions with no critical examination of evidence. In the late s and the s, some Protestant scholars made the public charge of forgery. By the mids, based on textual evidence, scholarly opinion had rejected the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum and the controversy largely ended for over two centuries.

Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , p. Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament , 2nd ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, , p.


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According to Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , pp. On whether the Testimonium Flavianum interrupts the structure of its literary context, see Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , pp. Also see France, Evidence for Jesus , pp. See Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus , pp.

The Syriac language developed from Aramaic and is the or an official language of some branches of Orthodox Christianity.


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A passage in a tenth-century Arabic Christian manuscript written by a man named Agapius appears to be a version of the Testimonium Flavianum. Shlomo Pines gives the following translation from the Arabic:. For he says that in the treatises that he has written on the governance [? His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous.

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And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

The writer Josephus also says in his work on the institutions of the Jews: In these times there was a wise man named Jesus, if it is fitting for us to call him a man. For he was a worker of glorious deeds and a teacher of truth. Many from among the Jews and the nations became his disciples. He was thought to be the Messiah. But not according to the testimony of the principal [men] of [our] nation.

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Because of this, Pilate condemned him to the cross, and he died. For those who had loved him did not cease to love him. He appeared to them alive after three days. For the prophets of God had spoken with regard to him of such marvelous [as these]. These Latin, Arabic and Syriac versions most likely represent genuine, alternative textual traditions.

Actually, Christians tended to make references to Jesus more glorious. Nor is there any indication that anti-Christian scribes reduced the references to Jesus from glorious to mundane, which would likely have been accompanied by disparagement. They contain variations that exhibit a degree of the fluidity that Mason emphasizes Mason, Josephus and the New Testament , pp. But these versions are not so different that they are unrecognizable as different versions of the Testimonium Flavianum. They use several similar phrases and refer to the same events, presenting phrases and events in a closely similar order, with few exceptions.

Thus, along with enough agreement among the standard Greek text and the non-Greek versions to reveal a noteworthy degree of stability, their differences clearly exhibit the work of other hands after Josephus. In the process of finding the similarities of phrases and references in extant manuscripts, one can come to recognize that the standard Greek form of the Testimonium Flavianum is simply one textual tradition among several. On balance, the Greek version is not necessarily supreme over all other textual traditions Mason, Josephus and the New Testament , pp.

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Despite a degree of stability in the text, the fluidity that is evident in various textual traditions is plain evidence that what Josephus wrote was later altered. When viewed from the standpoint of the Latin, Arabic and Syriac versions, the Greek text looks deliberately altered to make Josephus seem to claim that Jesus was the Messiah, possibly by omitting words that indicated that people called him Christos or thought, said, reported or believed that he was.

Also, although of course the evidence is the crucial factor, alternative 3 also happens to have the support of the overwhelming majority of scholars, far more than any other view. Almost all of the following points are listed and elaborated in Van Voorst, Jesus Outside , pp. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside , p.

His footnote attached to this sentence states, with reference to Justin Martyr:. Accepting a groundless report, you have invented a Christ for yourselves, and for his sake you are unknowingly perishing.

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Even in this statement, in which Trypho tries to imply that an existing report of Jesus as the Christ is erroneous, his reason is not necessarily that Jesus did not exist. Trypho was attempting to raise hypothetical doubt without here stating any actual grounds for doubt.

These suggestions, more likely taunts, from Trypho, which he immediately abandons, cannot be regarded as an argument, let alone a serious argument. The chief difficulty in working with rabbinic writings that might be about Jesus is that. Balaam, Ben Pandira, Ben Stada, etc. Evans, eds.

Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture
Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture Life in the Spin Cycle: The Almost Meaningless Search for Truth in Todays American Hype Culture

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