Joesphus was a first century Jewish historian who had 5 main works. He is most often noted for the few references that he makes towards Jesus in his work, "Antiquities of the Jews."

Flavius Josephus Picture

Much of the work of Josephus is highly debated as to the authenticity of it. Many scholars think that a lot of his work has been tampered with, especially those concerning Jesus. There are basically 3 main scholarly camps for the passages concerning Jesus:

  1. Those who accept the entire passage as authentic
  2. Those who reject the entire passage as a Christian interpolation into the text (perhaps authored by the fourth-century church historian Eusebius)
  3. Those who believe that the original text contained an authentic reference to Jesus but was later embellished by Christian copyists.

The 2 references below are taken from his work, "Antiquities of the Jews."

Reference 1

But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought it before the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.

Reference 2

Areas have been highlighted to show where many scholars suggest tampering of the text.

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.

Some reasons why people say these should be rejected

  1. It is impossible that Josephus a Jew would have called Jesus the Messiah.
  2. The passage is never quoted by Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, or Origen, despite its enormous apologetic value.
  3. The passage interrupts the narrative flow of the surrounding text, i.e., the passage comes in the middle of a collection of stories about calamities which have befallen the Jews, and if the passage is excised, the argument runs on in proper sequence.
  4. If it is accepted that there was a reference to Jesus, but it has been altered to reflect a favourable view of him, the fact that there has been any tampering with the text at all makes the entire passage suspect; a heavy burden of proof falls upon anyone who defends partial authenticity.

1 Comment

batesmotel: Jesus: Legend Or Lord

Dr. Paul Maier is one of the leading scholars on your topic....Josephus is his specialty...he is a renown archeologist ....

If you ever want to watch a fascinating DVD, try to acquire "Jesus: Legend Or Lord" by Dr. Paul Maier.

This will clear up many misconceptions that there may be out there concerning Jesus, Josephus and others like Tacitus, etc...

This DVD is hard to get. The only source that I know of, is from the following site:,shop.product_details/flypage,sho...

I hope this adds to the debate.....

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