Josephus and Jesus Christ

(C)Copyright 2001 by Carl Drews
July 21, 2001

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Contents: The Testimony My Commentary A Modern Text Comparison Conclusion

From the back cover of "The New Complete Works of Josephus":

"Flavius Josephus (c. A.D. 37-100) was born to an aristocratic Jewish family, served as a priest, and later became the commander of Jewish forces in Galilee following the revolt against Rome that began A.D. 66. Captured by the Romans, Josephus spent his later life in Rome under the patronage of the Roman emperors where he composed his history of the Jewish people and his account of the Jewish war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70."

The following excerpt contains the testimony of Josephus about Jesus Christ in paragraph 3. This famous paragraph is known as the "Testimonium Flavianum" in Latin, or "The Testimony of Flavius." This reprint is from "The New Complete Works of Josephus", translated by William Whiston, with commentary by Paul L. Maier. Copyright 1999 by Kregel Publications. Pages 590-591. I have reproduced the William Whiston translation of "Jewish Antiquities" here, including his footnotes.

"Jewish Antiquities", by Flavius Josephus. Book 18, Chapter 3, paragraphs 1-5. Paragraph 3 is the Testimonium Flavianum itself, which contains the reference to Jesus Christ.

Chapter 3.

Rebellion of the Jews against Pontius Pilate. Concerning Christ, and what befell Paulina and the Jews at Rome.

1. (55) But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar's effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city; whereas our law forbids us the very making of images; (56) on which account the former procurators were accustomed to make their entry into the city with such ensigns as had not those ornaments. Pilate was the first who brought those images to Jerusalem, and set them up there; which was done without the knowledge of the people, because it was done in the nighttime; (57) but as soon as they knew it, they came in multitudes to Caesarea, and interceded with Pilate many days that he would remove the images; and when he would not grant their requests, because it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request, on the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat upon his judgment seat, which seat was so prepared in the open place of the city, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them; (58) and when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave a signal to the soldiers to surround them, and threatened that their punishment should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him, and go their ways home. (59) But they threw themselves upon the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their death very willingly, rather than the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed; upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem to Caesarea.

2. (60) But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews [1] were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. (61) So he outfitted a great number of his soldiers in the clothing of the crowd, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he directed the Jews himself to go away; but when they boldly cast reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; (62) who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were disorderly, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them killed by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this rebellion.

3. (63) 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. (64) And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross [2], those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day [3], as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.

4. (65) About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome. I will now first take notice of the wicked attempt about the temple of Isis, and will then give an account of the Jewish affairs. (66) There was at Rome a woman whose name was Paulina; one who, on account of the dignity of her ancestors, and by the regular conduct of a virtuous life, had a great reputation; she was also very rich; and although she was of a beautiful countenance, and in that flower of her age wherein women are the most gay, yet did she lead a life of great modesty. She was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character. (67) Decius Mundus fell in love with this woman. He was a man very high in the equestrian order; and as she was of too great dignity to be caught by presents, and had already rejected them, though they had been sent in great abundance, he was still more inflamed with love to her, insomuch that he promised to give her two hundred thousand Attic drachmas for one night's sexual intercourse; (68) and when this would not prevail upon her, and he was not able to bear this misfortune in his amours, he thought it the best way to famish himself to death for want of food, on account of Paulina's sad refusal; and he determined with himself to die after such a manner, and he want on with his purpose accordingly. (69) Now Mundus had a freedwoman, who had been made free by his father, whose name was Ide, one skillful in all sorts of mischief. This woman was much grieved at the young man's resolution to kill himself (for he did not conceal his intentions to destroy himself from others), and came to him, and encouraged him by her discourse, and made him to hope, by some promises she gave him, that he might obtain a night's sexual intercourse with Paulina; (70) and when he joyfully hearkened to her entreaty, she said she wanted no more than fifty thousand drachmas for entrapping the woman. So when she had encouraged the young man, and gotten as much money as she required, she did not take the same methods as had been taken before, because she perceived that the woman was by no means to be tempted by money; but as she knew that she was very much given to the worship of the goddess Isis, she devised the following stratagem; (71) She went to some of Isis's priests, and upon the strongest assurances [of concealment], she persuaded them by words, but chiefly by the offer of money, of twenty-five thousand drachmas in hand, and as much more when the thing had taken effect; and told them the passion of the young man, and persuaded them to use all means possible to beguile the woman. (72) So they were drawn in to promise so to do, by that large sum of gold they were to have. Accordingly, the oldest of them went immediately to Paulina; and upon his admittance, he desired to speak with her by herself. When that was granted him, he told her that he was sent by the god Anubis, who was fallen in love with her, and directed her to come to him. (73) Upon this she took the message very kindly, and valued herself greatly upon this condescension of Anubis, and told her husband that she had a message sent her, and was to dine and lie with Anubis; so he agreed to her acceptance of the offer, as fully satisfied with the chastity of his wife. (74) Accordingly, she went to the temple, and after she had dined there, and it was the hour to go to sleep, the priest shut the doors of the temple, when, in the holy part of it, the lights were also put out. Then did Mundus leap out (for he was hidden therein), and did not fail to enjoy her, who was at his service all the night long, as supposing he was the god; (75) and when he was gone away, which was before those priests who knew nothing of this stratagem were stirring, Paulina came early to her husband, and told him how the god Anubis had appeared to her. Among her friends, also, she declared how great a value she put upon this favor, (76) who partly believed the thing, when they reflected on its nature, and partly were amazed at it, as having no pretense for not believing it, when they considered the modesty and the dignity of the person. (77) But now, on the third day after what had been done, Mundus met Paulina, and said, "Nay, Paulina, you have saved me two hundred thousand drachmas, which sum you might have added to your own family; yet have you not failed to be at my service in the manner I invited you. As for the reproaches you have laid upon Mundus, I value not the business of names; but I rejoice in the pleasure I reaped by what I did, while I took to myself the name of Anubis." (78) When he had said this, he went his way. But now she began to come to the sense of the grossness of what she had done, and rent her garments, and told her husband of the horrid nature of this wicked contrivance, and prayed him not to neglect to assist her in this case. So he revealed the fact to the emperor; (79) whereupon Tiberius inquired into the matter thoroughly by examining the priests about it, and ordered them to be crucified, as well as Ide, who was the occasion of their ruin, and who had contrived the whole matter, which was so injurious to the woman. He also demolished the temple of Isis, and gave order that her statue should be thrown into the river Tiber; (80) while he only banished Mundus, but did no more to him, because he supposed that what crime he had committed was done out of the passion of love. And these were the circumstances which concerned the temple of Isis, and the injuries occasioned by her priests. I now return to the relation of what happened about this time to the Jews at Rome, as I formerly told you I would.

5. (81) There was a man who was a Jew, but had been driven away from his own country by an accusation laid against him for transgressing their laws, and by the fear he was under of punishment for the same; but in all respects a wicked man. He, then living at Rome, professed to instruct men in the wisdom of the laws of Moses. (82) He procured also three other men, entirely of the same character with himself, to be his partners. These men persuaded Fulvia, a woman of great dignity, and one that had embraced the Jewish religion, to send purple and gold to the temple at Jerusalem; and when they had gotten them, they employed them for their own uses, and spent the money themselves, on which account it was that they at first required it of her. (83) Whereupon Tiberius, who had been informed of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made about it, ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome; (84) at which time the consuls listed four thousand men out of them, and sent them to the island Sardinia; but punished a greater number of them, who were unwilling to become soldiers, on account of keeping the laws of their forefathers. Thus were these Jews banished out of the city by the wickedness of four men.

[1] These Jews, as they are here called, whose blood Pilate shed on this occasion, may very well be those very Galilean Jews, "whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices," Luke 13:1, 2; these disturbances being usually excited at some of the Jews' great festivals, when they killed abundance of sacrifices, and the Galileans being commonly much more busy in such disturbances than those of Judea and Jerusalem, as we learn from the history of Archelaus, Antiq. B. XVII. Ch. 9. sect.3 and ch. 10. sect 2, 9; though, indeed, Josephus's present copies say not one word of "those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them," which the 4th verse of the same 13th chapter of St. Luke informs us of. But since our gospel teaches us, Luke 23:6, 7, that "when Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether Jesus were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod"; and v. 12, "The same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together for before they had been at hostility between themselves;" take the very probable key of this matter in the words of the learned Noldius, de Herod No. 219: "The cause of the hostility between Herod and Pilate [says he] seems to have been this, that Pilate had intermeddled with the tetrarch's jurisdiction, and had killed some of his Galilean subjects, Luke 13:1; and, as he was willing to correct that error, he sent Christ to Herod at this time."

[2] A.D. 33, April 3

[3] April 5

[4] Of the banishment of these four thousand Jews into Sardinia by Tiberius, see Suetonius in Tiber sect. 36. But as for Mr. Reland's note here, which supposes that Jews could not, consistently with their laws, be soldiers, it is contradicted by one branch of the history before us, and against to innumerable instances of their fighting, and proving excellent soldiers in war; and indeed many of the best of them, and even under heathen kings themselves, did so; those, I mean, who allowed them their rest on the Sabbath day, and other solemn festivals, and let them live according to their own laws, as Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies of Egypt did. It is true, they could not always obtain those privileges, and then they got excused as well as they could, or sometimes absolutely refused to fight, which seems to have been the case here, as to the major part of the Jews now banished, but nothing more. See several of the Roman decrees in their favor as to such matters, B. XIV. Ch. 10.

My Commentary

There is some debate among scholars over the authenticity of paragraph 3. Most scholars believe that the majority of the paragraph is authentic, with a few crucial sentences inserted later by Christian scribes. Some scholars think that the entire paragraph is a later Christian insertion. A few scholars believe that the entire passage is indeed authentic, and that Josephus himself wrote it down in the form seen here, without later revision. (There is another shorter reference to Jesus in 20.9.1(200).)

"Jewish Antiquities" was published in Rome in 93 A.D., but the original manuscripts have been lost. The earliest surviving copies of "Jewish Antiquities" all contain the passage as printed above. Eusebius quoted the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) in full in about 324 A.D. Therefore, any revision would have had to occur between 93 and 324 A.D. Beyond that brief observation, I will let you look up and review other scholarly evaluations of the Testimonium Flavianum on your own - you can find several on the Internet from various points of view. An excellent place to start is this web site on Flavius Josephus by independent scholar Gary J. Goldberg:

Why is there so much dispute over this paragraph? I think it is because Christians and non-Christians alike realize that this passage is important. If what Josephus has said here is true, if Jesus was the Messiah and if He rose from the dead, it makes a big difference in our lives today! No other passage in the works of Josephus has provoked as much debate as this one. There's a very good reason for that.

Despite the importance of the TF, Christians ought to feel more free to investigate its authenticity. The works of Josephus are not the Holy Bible; "Jewish Antiquities" is not the Word of God in the same sense that the Pentateuch and the Gospels are. Fundamentalist Christians can be more objective when evaluating whether the TF was written originally by the hand of Josephus, or by some later Christian hand. Bear in mind that this debate centers on the authenticity of the passage, not on the fundamental truth of the assertions expressed therein.

When I read the TF in context with the rest of chapter 3, it strikes me in several ways. First, the passage is frustratingly brief. As a Christian in 2001, I would have written "He was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and if you believe in Him right now you will have eternal life!" Why does Josephus go on and on about Paulina when I want to hear more about Jesus? Secondly, the TF has a more distant flavor. It seems to rely on second-hand and third-hand information, whereas the horrible story of Paulina sounds like first-hand information. This is no surprise - Josephus was born years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he wrote "Jewish Antiquities" in Rome. Josephus is reporting information that he obtained from various sources, like any good historian would. The Paulina story sounds like Josephus heard it on the streets of Rome, even from some of the principals. The TF sounds like a story, an interesting rumor, which he heard from a distant land.

Although Josephus may have viewed the story of Jesus as a rumor when he wrote this passage, he is intrigued by the story. The TF in English uses the word "wonderful" twice to describe the works of Jesus. It's a passage of hope and tantalizing possibilities. I think it is entirely possible that the Christian message and witness of the time was compelling to Josephus, and it touched him in a way that all the other stories of brutal wars and executions did not. Remember that Josephus lived a remarkable life during a turbulent time of history. He was not a static person.

Two sentences within the TF jump out at me. "He was [the] Christ" sounds like a blunt declaration of faith. Why would Josephus confess Christ and then go on writing about Saturninus, Tiberius, Vitellius, and Aretas? Perhaps the answer is that Josephus did not know exactly who the Messiah was supposed to be. Certainly there was confusion among the disciples of Jesus over the role of the Messiah even after His resurrection, as expressed on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and in the beginning of Acts (1:6). I suggest that in the first century Jews agreed that the Messiah was to be someone great and holy; but beyond that there was disagreement over whether the Messiah was to be a military leader, a great prophet, a priest-king, or some combination of those. When viewed in that light, the surrounding paragraphs are less surprising.

The second sentence that jumps out at me is, "And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." From our perspective this is the understatement of the millennium! But in the first century, this would be a very strange sentiment for a Christian to express. It states the thought negatively, as if to say, "Those Christians are still hanging in there, but in a few more decades they will be gone." Early Christians hoped that their movement would continue and grow, not become extinct. The sentence only makes sense if it is expressed by an interested observer, someone outside the Christian community.

From those two sentences it seems that the TF is too strong to be from a non-Christian source, and too short and weak to be from a Christian. However, remember that Josephus often reported what he heard and read from his sources without fully believing the story himself. The phrase "if it be lawful to call him a man" sounds a bit like a thoughtful micro-commentary on what he is reporting. Likewise the idea "He was Christ" is expressed later in 20.9.1(200) as "Jesus, who was called Christ". The Agapian (Arabic) version contains further support for the view that the TF is not a full-fledged confession of faith by Josephus himself, but is instead a report; the phrase "Accordingly they [Jesus' disciples] believed that he was the Messiah" appears at the end of the Agapian passage (discovered and translated by Shlomo Pines in 1971).

At worst, the entire TF is a later insertion by a Christian who had read the Gospels, especially Luke 24 or a common source (see Goldberg for the common source). That would be disappointing because we would like a truly independent witness. But it's not so bad - even the worst case would do nothing to shake a Christian's faith in the truth of the Gospels. Remember that what we have in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is sufficient for faith (John 20:30-31).

The TF remains an excellent answer to the question, "Are there historical references to Jesus Christ outside the Bible?" Despite aggressive and hostile critiques of this passage, a large majority of scholars have come to the conclusion that it is mostly the original work of Josephus himself (Whiston and Maier, page 662). The TF is indeed extra-Biblical evidence for the "historical Jesus," and it supports the accounts recorded in the Gospels.

Sure, as a Christian I am biased toward the belief that the TF is 100% authentic. I wanted to believe that the Shroud of Turin was authentic, too, until radiocarbon dating in 1988 placed its origin between 1260 and 1390 A.D. Those tests may not be the last word on the Shroud, but I've moved it into my "Unlikely" column. It's more important to me that my Christian belief and witness are placed on firm ground and reliable evidence.

A Modern Text Comparison

In May 2001 I visited a used book sale at John Carroll High School in Churchville, Maryland. There I found an old textbook, "The New World's Foundations in the Old," and bought it for a dollar. I read it on the airplane on the trip home. On pages 115-116 I found the following text (note paragraph 3).

Julius Caesar's Work was Carried on by Augustus

[1] The assassins had struck down Caesar, but not his work. The kind of government he had set up was to last for many centuries. Sometimes there were disputes as to who should be emperor; but always nearly every one agreed that there must be some emperor over all the Roman world.

[2] The first ruler after Caesar was his nephew Augustus. He quickly crushed the rebellious nobles, and then ruled forty-five peaceful and prosperous years. He carried forward many of Caesar's plans. He also rebuilt splendidly most of the public buildings of Rome, so that he could say before his death, "I found Rome brick and leave it marble." The other chief cities, too, he adorned with noble buildings - temples, theaters, and public baths.

[3] But the most important thing that happened in this long reign had nothing to do with emperors and courts, and probably was never heard of by Augustus: it was the birth of the child Jesus, in a manger, in a distant corner of the Empire.

"Rome was the whole world, and all the world was Rome."
For More than Two Centuries, Life was Peaceful and Prosperous

[4] The Roman Empire, compared with Alexander's, did not extend so far to the east, but it included much more of the west (maps facing pages 74 and 98). It stretched from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and bordered the Mediterranean with narrow bands of land both north and south. Indeed, that inland sea was now the main highway of the Roman world, - more important for trade and travel than even the famous Roman roads on land. The Empire contained about as much territory as does the United States, and had about eighty million people. (How many has the United States?)

[5] The Empire was defended largely by natural boundaries. On the south there stretched away the Arabian and Sahara deserts - an impassable belt of desolate sands. On the west rolled the stormy waves of the Atlantic. On the remaining sides, north and east, lay the North Sea, the broad Rhine and Danube rivers, the Black Sea, and the Euphrates. And along the rivers, stood the mighty Roman legions to watch and guard.

When I read this section, I thought to myself, "You know, that sounds like the reference to Jesus in Josephus!" Paragraph 3 is frustratingly brief, it interrupts the narrative of the Roman Empire, and it leaves out lots of information that would be interesting to a Christian. I have reproduced 5 paragraphs here because the context of the Testimonium Flavianum contains 5 paragraphs. I have faithfully transcribed the format of the text the best I can. This is a bound and printed book with no rips or tape around paragraph 3; we can be sure that the original authors wrote the 5 paragraphs as reprinted above. I don't see any reasonable way that paragraph 3 can be an interpolation by someone else. There is no later alteration or insertion by scribes. I was not looking for something resembling the TF; I came upon this book by chance. While reading it, I was interested in what they had to say about Jesus.

Here is some more information about the textbook "The New World's Foundations in the Old": The copyright dates are 1929 and 1934 by Ruth West. The authors are Ruth West, Head of the Department of History in the Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington; and Willis Mason West, Sometime Professor of History in the University of Minnesota. The publisher is Allyn and Bacon. The book is 385 pages long, and it contains many illustrations, including some color plates. The end of each chapter contains homework questions for the student. The inside front cover of the book has a sticker, apparently for checking it out of the library of the Board of Education of Harford County. Two students did so - Dorothy Curry on September 8, 1937; and Helen Curry on September 6, 1939. I have included all this information because you never know what details might be important to a historian, and so that you may get a feel for this book if you don't want to obtain it yourself through John Carroll High School is a private parochial school.

Some of the analyses of Josephus and the TF speculate on whether he converted to Christianity. Of course "The New World's Foundations in the Old" does not contain a declaration of faith by the authors, and that's not surprising for a high school textbook. Since faith is relevant for Josephus, I looked for the same in this book. Page 33-34 contains the following paragraph:

The Hebrews built no great cities; they were not skilled workmen; and they had few luxuries. But they gave the world something better than any of these things. Their religion was the purest and the highest of all religions of the ancient world. They were the first people to learn the worship of one God, - "a spirit, not made with hands," and a loving Father who cares for all men as His children. This Hebrew religion, as you know, became later the foundation of our Christian religion.

I think the phrase "our Christian religion" refers to the predominant religion in America in 1929-1934, not to the personal faith of the authors. Nevertheless, I think it is quite likely that the authors of this textbook were Christian. Even if not, their writing is very favorable to Christianity.

I have shown here that a historian can indeed embed a brief, but favorable, reference to Jesus Christ within a discussion of Roman affairs. I am aware of the huge historical and cultural gulf that separates Josephus and authors Ruth West and Willis Mason West. Nevertheless, I hope I have refuted the notion that "Josephus didn't write that. No historian would have written something like that!" Historians West did write something like that. The West passage is stronger than the TF because the authors are more likely Christian, but the pattern of the entire text is the same.

"The New World's Foundations in the Old" contains a later section discussing the early Christian church, which is a portion of history that was not accessible to Josephus. The following text is from pages 130-131:

The Roman Empire Had Lasted Long Enough in the West
To Give the Christian Religion a Good Chance
to Spread over All Europe

As we have seen, Jesus was born in the reign of the Emperor Augustus (page 115). In the year 26 A.D. he began to teach his new religion of peace and love and brotherly kindness. Some of the Hebrews welcomed his teachings, but the priests feared that he was turning the people away from the old religion. They went to the Roman governor and accused Jesus of stirring up a rebellion against the Roman government. So he was put to death.

But his disciples went on with his work in all parts of the Roman world. (Can you think of three reasons why it was easier for them to carry their teachings to all parts of that world then than it would have been at any earlier time?) Everywhere they went, the poor and unhappy listened to them eagerly, and little Christian churches sprang up in nearly every city.

Again, we see a short summary of the Gospel, just like the TF. The West textbook continues with 7 paragraphs describing the events of the second century and onward: persecution of Christians, the growth of the church, the emperor Constantine, and the development of a church government.


I think that the Testimonium Flavianum is 100% authentic from the hand of Josephus himself. There, I said it.

The statements and context of the TF are consistent with the mind of a historian who is reporting a story that he heard or read from a Christian source. The story is compelling to Josephus, and so he is willing to pass along an account that is favorable to Jesus. He may not believe in Jesus Christ himself, but he knows that his source does.

Any responsible historian must take the minimalist view because there are a lot of wild claims out there. However, the minimalist view (Occam's Razor) does not always turn out to be correct. Jim Bridger really did discover geysers at Yellowstone. Hernan Cortes' soldiers really did descend into the crater of Popocatepetl and retrieve sulfur in order to make gunpowder. Absence of evidence is only weak evidence of absence. The life, mind, and heart of Josephus contained more than that for which we have direct evidence.

We do have some indirect evidence about the mind of Josephus. Paragraph 1 of Book 18, Chapter 3 (printed above) indicates that Josephus was impressed when people were willing to lay down their lives without resistance, in service to a noble cause. We also know that the message of Christianity was compelling to people in the Roman world, even to King Agrippa and Governor Festus (Acts 26:28-32). The Christian movement grew rapidly from a small band of Jews to include hundreds of thousands of believers throughout the Empire. This growth culminated in 312 A.D., when the Roman emperor Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge and converted to Christianity. I think that the Christian Gospel, and the way it was lived in the first century, also tugged at the heart of Josephus in a way that nothing else had done.

Josephus saw war and pestilence. He saw his city of Jerusalem and the sacred Temple destroyed by a Roman army. He saw plenty of politicians and generals vying for power any way they could get it. He saw false religious leaders. And in the midst of all that, he heard the tale of one holy man, from Josephus' own homeland, preaching an unusual message of love and peace. The priests crucified this man at the hand of the Romans, and His followers told a joyful story of His resurrection. The Christians loved each other as no other Romans did, and went to their deaths in the Coliseum in prayer, refusing to recant their beliefs. I think that Josephus saw all these things and pondered them in his heart. He has given us a testimony, and we are still not quite sure what to make of it.

I hope I have added something new to the debate here, an angle on the TF that has not previously been explored. Add this analysis and the modern text comparison to the others that you may find, and consider them all carefully. Thank you for coming this far with me.

I'm adding the Testimonium Flavianum to my list of questions to ask God when I get to heaven.

Carl Drews
July 5, 2001

Further Reading

There are other extra-Biblical references to Jesus Christ besides Josephus. The following web page (at "Doxa") has a good list of historical sources (Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Galen, Celsus, Mara Bar Serapion, The Talmud, Lucian, Numenius, and Galerius):

Secrets of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, a book review by Carl Drews:

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