25 Aug 2014 
#104 Here are Carrier's comments on Josephus' Antiquities 20, 9, 1, trying to prove "Jesus called Christ" is an accidental interpolation.

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Before going any further, I'll quote the passage from Josephus' Antiquities 20, 9, 1 for future reference:
"AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent [wrong translation: “venturous” would be much more adequate]; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ [more accurately translated as "him called Christ"], whose name was James [better translated as "James by name"]and some others; and when he had formed an accusationagainst them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest."

From pages 337-342 (which I reproduce integrally) of Carrier's “On The Historicity Of Jesus” (OHJ):

“That leaves one other passage in Josephus, where it is said, 'The brother of Jesus (who was called Christ), the name for whom was James, and some others' were tried and stoned by the high priest Ananus for unspecified crimes and in defiance of proper criminal procedure. Obviously, if Jesus Christ had a brother, then Jesus Christ existed. So Josephus is here said confirm the historicity of Jesus, by knowing details about his family. However, I have elsewhere demonstrated that the phrase *who was called Christ' is an accidental interpolation and was never written by Josephus. It entered the manuscripts of Josephus sometime in the late third century.

[Note: “elsewhere” means an article 'Origen, Eusebius and the Accidental Interpolation', only available for a hefty price. However most elements of this hypothesis are addressed next in this chapter. It is just a tenuous Carrier's supposition, certainly not “demonstrated”. And with no evidence it was written in the late third century]

We know this because Origen never quotes this passage, even when scholars claim he does. In fact Origen shows no knowledge of this passage as we have it, or the story it relates, or where it was located in the works of Josephus; whereas Eusebius is the first to actually quote the passage we have in the present text of Josephus.

[Note: Eusebius was also the first to quote many other passages from Josephus' writings.
A widely believed interpolated passage (not appearing in the earliest known manuscripts) is, according to Eusebius' History of the Church (2, 23):
Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called  Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.” 
Origen (3rd century) commented most likely from the aforementioned passage when he wrote:
"he [Josephus] had a mind to set down what was the cause why the people suffered such miseries, till the very holy house is demolished, he said, that these things befell them by the anger of God, on account to of what they had dared to do to James, the brother of Jesus ..." (Commentary on Matthew, X, 17)
Let's notice, Origen wrote here only "James" (not "James the Just"), as in Ant. 20, 9, 1.
Where would this interpolated passage (in italics here) have been located? Most likely at the end of 'Antiquities', right after book 20, chapter 11, section 2, as follows:
“Now this war began in the second year of the government of Florus, and the twelfth year of the reign of Nero. But then what actions we were forced to do, or what miseries we were enabled to suffer, may be accurately known by such as will peruse those books which I have written about the Jewish war. These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.
An argument can be made the interpolator was working from Antiquities 20, 9, 1, and repeated “brother of Jesus, that is called Christ.” to make it look as written by Josephus. And James the just (or righteous) could have been borrowed from Hegesippus' writings or from the gospel of Thomas or from the 2nd apocalypse of James, all of them 2nd century texts, well before Origen's times.
Did not Origen know about the passage in Ant. 20, 9, 1?
It seems to me Origen could not resist using the interpolated passage (thought as authentic) which demonstrates the huge importance of James. Origen's intention was not to describe how James was killed, explaining why the earlier passage was passed over (or was it not? because "James" shows without "the just" in both Origen's comment and Ant. 20. 9, 1)]

He is thus the first to have known it. Where Origen is now claimed to be citing this passage, he can be shown to have confused a story written by the Christian hagiographer Hegesippus, (whom we just examined in §8) as being in Josephus.

[Note: But Origen's comment was based on something he told Josephus wrote. Does that count for something? No, according to Carrier. Furthermore, I shown how well the interpolation (the likely basis for Origen's comment) fits towards the end of Josephus' Antiquities. Carrier is again making some key supposition based on no evidence]

At that time, the original text of Josephus probably read either 'the brother of Jesus, the name for whom was James, and some others' or 'the brother of Jesus the son Damneus, the name for whom was James, and some others', either only later accidentally incorporating a Christian marginal or interlinear note (by insertion or replacement, to correct what a later copyist mistook as an error), thereby eclipsing the original meaning of the passage, which was that Ananus was punished for the offense of extralegally executing the brother of 'Jesus ben Damneus' by being removed from office and replaced by that same Jesus ben Damneus (as the narrative goes on to relate).

[Note: Let's notice how complicated is Carrier's proposal.
Now, I will review the two options:
A) If "the brother of Jesus, whose name was James", without "him called Christ" were the initial Josephus' words, and with the 'Jesus' in question meant, again, to be "Jesus, the son of Damneus", written about ninety words later, then:
That goes against good syntax and common sense. It is the reverse of the normal practice of first clearly identifying a new character (such as "J. son of D."), then, later in the text, referring to the same person as just "J.". When the reader sees "J.", he/she would understand that "J." is the son of "D.", as read earlier. But the opposite is absurd, with the reader left wondering if the earlier unidentified "Jesus" could be "Jesus, the son of Damneus" written later.
An excellent example relative to both A) & B): let's see how Josephus dealt with "younger Ananus" in Ant., 20, 9, 1: first "the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus", then "younger Ananus" ("younger" because Josephus had digressed on the older Ananus a few words earlier), then "Ananus" (four times).
 B) If it was "son of Damneus" instead of "who was called Christ", why would Josephus not write "James, the son of Damneus"? Why bother to identify someone with two identifiers ('brother of Jesus' and 'son of Damneus'), when one ('son of Damneus') is sufficient? More so when this Jesus (son of Damneus) does not need to be introduced yet, and Josephus normally preferred identification through the father (when known, as it is the case here) rather than through a brother.
And some ninety words later, the new high priest would have been introduced such as "Jesus, another son of Damneus" or, even better, "Jesus, the brother of James" or simply "Jesus" (if that Jesus had been already identified as brother of James and son of Damneus, as postulated by Carrier) but, in that case, "Jesus, the son of Damneus" is the most unlikely wording by Josephus.
And removing “son of Damneus” to replace it by “who was called Christ” could not be accidental]

There are six arguments for this conclusion, which together establish such an extremely low probability that any Christ was originally mentioned here that we can dismiss this evidence as of no value to determining the historicity of Jesus.

First, 'who was called Christ' is exactly the kind of thing a scholar or scribe would add as an interlinear note here—to remind him and future readers that (or so the annotator believed) the Jesus here mentioned is Jesus Christ, as we would do today with an informative footnote or marginal note. Indeed these kinds of marginal 'passage identifiers' are common in extant manuscripts. For example, one manuscript of Tacitus has similar comments in the margins identifying the passage mentioning Christ there, for the benefit of Christian readers skimming the text for passages of interest. And in this case, the idiom and vocabulary of 'who was called Christ' is a well-established Christian idiom (derived from the Gospels), commonly used by Origen, yet wholly alien to Josephus (who never of uses the word `Christ'). In fact the complete phrase 'Jesus, who was called Christ' is (apart from a necessary change of case) identical to that of Mt. 1.16 (which happens to be a passage about Jesus' family), which is thus a phrase Josephus would not be as likely to use as a Christian annotator would. Though such a phrase would not be impossible for Josephus to construct on his own, such a coincidence is less probable than if it originated from a Christian hand.

[Note: Josephus used the expression 'tou legomenou' (= ”who was called” or “it so-called”) three more times in 'Antiquities', to name a plain (1, 4, 3), a mountain (8, 5, 3) & a month (12, 10, 5),  suggesting Josephus had little regard for Jesus (a thing?) and considered "Christ" as a name (and not a title).
Furthermore 'tou legomenou christou' is put in the mouth of Pontius Pilate (twice) in Mat 27:17 & 22, suggesting the expression was used by non-Christians (like Josephus)]

Second, the words and structure chosen here are indeed the ones that would commonly be used in an interlinear note, essentially just a participial clause—remarkable brevity for something that would sooner otherwise spark a digression or cross-reference, had Josephus actually written those words. Obviously there would almost certainly be a reference to the TF, if it existed (perhaps even identifying the book in which it appeared, so readers would know what scroll to pick up to find out or remind themselves who Or what this 'Christ' is and why he's being mentioned, or at the very least mentioning that he had previously discussed this person), especially since the reference is so obscure.The more so as the extant TF does not mention Jesus having a brother, nor explains why his brother would be a target of prosecution, much less defense by other leading Jews; indeed it mentions no persecution of Christians at all but instead emphasizes their unimpeded thriving 'to this day'.Thus, there would be much to explain here even if the TF had existed. For example, in this very same narrative about James, Josephus refers back to his previous discussion of the Sadducees when he mentions them, and explains why mentioning them is relevant to his present glory. Yet surely 'Christ' would rate at least the same treatment, being the more obscure (as Sadducees were already mentioned several times previously, even in the very same book: e.g. Ant. 18.16), and an explanation or cross-reference to the IF would be even more natural (e.g. 'the one called Christ whom I mentioned before')—after all, for the Sadducees he gave us both a reference and an explanation of relevance; likewise when he mentions Judas the Galilean in Ant. 20.102, we get an 'as I mentioned before' and an explanation besides.

[Note: It is strange that Carrier rejects the main TF of Antiquities 18, 3, 3 (as I do), but then make arguments about its “silences”. I do not see why that TF should mention Jesus' brother, why would he be persecuted, etc ... More so when that was already explained in Ant. 20, 9, 1, well before that main TF appears suddenly through the writings of Eusebius (early 4th century)]

Or if there was no TF (and as we just saw, surely there wasn't), certainly we'd find here an explanation of why this Jesus was called 'Christ', what that word even meant (at the very least explaining its connection to Christians and James's being one, if that is even what is meant—since James is not said to be a Christian here, or in the TF, thus the text as we have it here requires an assumption only a Christian would make, further arguing against this being from the hand of Josephus), and why Josephus thought it important to mention either, since the passage as written leaves no stated reason for either Jesus or his moniker Christ even to be mentioned at all—and any inferences to such a reason would only occur to a Christian. no to Josephus or his intended readers, who would not know anything about the obscurities of Jewish laws or religion, which is why he always explain such things when they come up elsewhere. In short, such omissions here are far more probable if 'called Christ' is an accidental interpolation, than if they are the words of Josephus.

[Note: In Antiquities 20, 9, 1, the main purpose of Josephus is to explain why a particular high priest was removed from office. He mentioned the trial of James (and others), as being illegal because not approved by the Roman governor, leading to protest and finally dismissal of the high priest. James was prominent enough (as also corroborated by Paul's 'Galatians' and 'Acts') to be named. He also had to be identified among other “James”. So naturally, “brother of Jesus, him called Christ”, at a times (around 93 AD) when Josephus' educated audience would know about Christians and the alleged founder of their faith, a so-called Christ. There was no need for Josephus to digress on other matters.
James is not said to be a Christian here, for good reason, because James and other pillars never became Christians: see here]

Third, the story as we have it makes no sense as being the execution of Christians, not only because no such basis for the executions is mentioned. but also because many influential Jews are outraged by the execution of this James and his men and seek the punishment of Ananus (and the Jewish and Roman authorities fully concur and duly punish him), which makes little sense if he was executing members of the hated (if not actually illegal) sect of Christians.
[Note: The Church of Jerusalem under Peter & James was not Christian. It was Jewish, and took Jesus as a prophet who died on the cross. Furthermore, the Greek text does not say “outraged”, but “most uneasy” and “disliked”. And Josephus was very clear some Jews were unhappy, not by what was done to James & others, but to the fact civil Roman laws (trials by the Sanhedrim had to be approved by the Roman governor) were broken: “but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the lawsthey disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more,”]

Indeed, writing for a Roman audience in the era of Domitian, Josephus would be describing an inexplicable course of events. where the execution of Christians was considered a legal matter of courses not an act warranting outrage and dismissal from office. In fact we get no sense from the way the story is told that there was any popular animosity toward this James and his affiliates. To the contrary, all the animosity in the story is against their killers. Regardless of what Josephus himself may have thought about Christians, it's more likely he would feel a need to explain this strange course of events to his Roman audience than simply gloss it—whereas if this wasn't a passage about Christians, then its content is improbable at all.

[Note: Again these “James and affiliates” were not Christians, so that removed a few of Carrier's arguments. My feeling is that the “most equitable of the citizens” were upset by what Ananus did, and tried to prevent the high priest to do it again, because they were afraid he would act the same way against some of them.
Aristocratic Josephus would not care much about James, an uneducated Jewish sect leader, but had to mention him in order to explain the high priest removal]

Fourth, apart from the execution being a stoning (the most common form of execution employed by the Jews, and therefore not at all peculiar to or indicative of Christian victims), this story does not agree with any other account of the death of James 'the brother' of Christ. It therefore is not likely to actually be an account of the death of James the brother of Christ. It certainly was not known to be such by any Christian who composed those later accounts of that legendary figure's death (as we saw in §8).

[Note: The version of Hegesippus is very much embellished and dependant on passages from the New Testament. It is meant to make believe, that despite the “silences” of James, described as a superlative Jew, he was also, at most, a closet proto-Christian. It is therefore very suspect and most likely not written by someone knowing about Josephus' works]

Fifth, the book of Acts shows no knowledge of this event. And it is nigh impossible for a Christian of the time to know less than Josephus about the fate of 'James the brother of Jesus Christ' (particularly a Christian claiming to have researched the history of his church: Lk. 1.1-4). In fact Luke makes a point of always depicting the Romans protecting or rescuing Christians from the excesses of Jewish persecution or other dire fates (e.g. Gallio: Acts 18.12-23; Lysias and Festus: Acts 23-24; Roman guards: Acts 16.19-40; 27.42-44), and of depicting some among the Jewish elite as being less negatively disposed toward Christians (Gamaliel: Acts 5.34-42; even Herod Agrippa: Acts 25-26). In its present form, Ant. 20.200 has all of this. Indeed it hands Luke a rhetorical coup: Romans (and Herod Agrippa himself) punishing Jews for persecuting Christians. There is no possible way Luke would have passed up an opportunity to include this in his account. The only explanation for why he didn't that has any probability is that this event never happened—yet it is wholly improbable that Josephus would fabricate it. In fact, as Luke appears to have used Josephus as a source (Chapter 7, §4), Luke could not have found any story about James the brother of Christ' in Josephus. Therefore, it wasn't there.

[Note: The book of 'Acts', in the second half (the Pauline one), mentions James only when Paul met him in Jerusalem. Furthermore the book story ends towards year 62 AD, the same year that Josephus put James' trial. The rest is pure speculations from Carrier]

Sixth, and most conclusively, Origen has no knowledge of this passage, despite being intimately familiar with Josephus and citing him often. We can therefore be certain Origen's copy did not contain a reference to Christ, here or anywhere. This has commonly been denied, but in ignorance: where scholars claim Origen is quoting this passage, he is demonstrably not. Meanwhile all other arguments against an interpolation occurring here are only against deliberate interpolation, but that is not what happened; the interpolation of 'called Christ' was more likely an accident. So we already have five arguments for, and none against, with a great weight of improbability ruling this passage out of consideration. But this sixth argument settles it: all passages where it is claimed Origen is attesting to Josephus's mention of Christ as the brother of James actually paraphrase a completely different story found only in Hegesippus, a story that is a patent Christian hagiography and thus cannot have originated with Josephus. Origen was simply misattributing it to him.

[Note: I already explained about Origen. And there is no evidence Origen was paraphrasing Hegesippus, when that Origen wrote he was commenting on a passage in Josephus' works. And I already provided evidence against any “accidental” interpolation. “none against” is from Carrier's day-dreaming: I presented my arguments as stated here (plus some more) against his case on Carrier's own blog. So he should know that there are arguments against his views]

In each case Origen quotes nothing from Josephus, except the words 'the brother of Jesus who was called Christ', but that's just the combination of two phrases, 'the brother of Jesus' and 'who was called Christ', the former entirely common (and thus not distinctive of Josephus or Christianity) and the latter the accidental interpolation that did not originate with Josephus (for all the reasons already surveyed), but is instead (as I already noted) a well-established Christian idiom, commonly used by Origen. By contrast, Josephus never otherwise uses the word 'Christ', and if he ever did. would have explained what it meant and why he was using it. That be didn't entails he didn't write those words here. That Origen kept claiming he was paraphrasing Josephus, when instead he was actually paraphrasing Hegesippus, was simply a product of an error of memory, which Origen is known for; in fact Hegesippus and Josephus were known to be confused by others, too, so it was evidently an easy mistake to make.

[Note: Repeating many times Origen was paraphrasing Hegesippus will not make that statement true! It is strange that Carrier put so much emphasis on something which is far-fetched and goes against what Origen wrote himself, in these two sentences, as such:
"he [Josephus] had a mind to set down what was the cause why the people suffered such miseries, till the very holy house is demolished, he said, that these things befell them by the anger of God, on account to of what they had dared to do to James, the brother of Jesus ..." (Commentary on Matthew, X, 17)
"...Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes dear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God." (Contra Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 13)
However, in Hegesippus' account, it is Vespasian, not Titus, and not destroying but besieging Jerusalem.
The only common thing I found between Hegesippus and Origen's comments on James's death is “James the just (or righteous). And if Josephus never used “Christ” again, it is probably because he knew the word had been taken over by Christians]

In summary, there is no evidence Josephus ever mentioned Jesus Christ. There is therefore no evidence here to consider."

[Note: Very easily said (from many unevidenced & illogical suppositions), but far from being proven!]

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {brother(s)} {brother of Jesus} {Carrier} {Carrier's OHJ} {historical Jesus} {James} {Jesus' historicity} {Josephus} {mythicism}
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