14 Jan 2013 
#33 Comments on Josephus' Antiquities, XX, IX, 1 and "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James". With UPDATE as of Jan 14th 2013

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Richards Carrier's blog post
More about the same topic here

Mythicists have been proposing that Josephus did not write "who was called Christ" or had "son of Damneus" instead. Both cases create problems as explained here.

But first, here is the text of Antiquities XX. IX, 1:
"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; 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 accusation against 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."

A) 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) but, in that case, "Jesus, the son of Damneus" is the most unlikely wording by Josephus.

B) If "the brother of Jesus, whose name was James" were the initial Josephus' words, before "him called Christ" was added by a Christian, 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 my earlier quote of Ant., XX, IX, 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).

C) Valid for the two previous cases: if "younger Ananus" illegally arranged for the execution of someone from a prominent family, he would have been more severely punished than just removed from office!

I put a similar comment on Carrier's blog under the post "Jesus in Josephus".

UPDATE: my comment appeared ten days later with Carrier's answer here

I want to reply here:
On A), Carrier said "James, the son of Damneus" could also be a possibility, as written originally by Josephus. So now we have one more of those, all of them totally unevidenced. Anyway, for that new possibility, this would also apply: "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"", expected change that Carrier never argued against in his reply.

Then, answering "Why bother to identify someone with two identifiers ("brother of Jesus" and "son of Damneus")", Carrier replied: "Because the man killed being his brother is Josephus' point."
But how does Carrier know it is the point? That's a circular argument: Josephus' point (unevidenced) is such, so the two identities (unevidenced) can be explained because Josephus wanted to make that point (unevidenced). And what are the chances that someone killed in Jerusalem had a brother who was high priest material?

On C) Carrier wrote "No evidence to back it up." That's rather strange coming from Carrier! But I still insist, if the victims of that Ananus the Younger were from prominent families, more shake up than just a removal from office would be expected. Instead, as Carrier put it "it only involves a procedural violation", which could only be explained if the executed ones were considered low social status (expendable) pests by the establishment.

On B) Carrier said "What would be weird is for Josephus not to explain why Jesus Christ is relevant to this story of why Ananus was replaced with Jesus ben Damneus."
But Josephus just wanted to idendify that James (as brother of Jesus called Christ --NOT Jesus Christ!). I do not see why Josephus had to explain any relevance.

Later J. J. Ramsey posted a part of Carrier's article:
"In fact, the text may have originally said, "the brother of Jesus ben Damneus, the name for whom was James, and some others." Since "Jesus ben Damneus" appears again a few lines later (and as I have argued, it is more likely that Josephus actually meant this Jesus), a scribe who saw a marginal note "who was called Christ" (τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ) scribbled above "ben Damneus" (τὸν τοῦ Δαμναίου), regardless of how or why it came to be written there, may have inferred a dittography. This is a common scribal error where a copyist's eye slips to a similar line a few lines down (by mistaking which "Jesus" he had left off at), then realizes he had picked up at the wrong place, but corrected himself and then wrote a superlinear phrase intended to replace the erroneous material. A later copyist would then interpret the earlier copyist's correction as calling for the erasure of "ben Damneus" as a dittograph, omit the words, and replace it with the gloss, "who was called Christ.""

It's look rather complicated and certainly far-fetched. And "No evidence to back it up."
J. J. Ramsey objected that someone would write "who was called Christ" above the alleged "ben Damneus" and that Carrier never explained that.
But Carrier had an answer:
"Yes I do. It's in the article itself. I say quite a lot about that in fact. I even list Origen as a possible culprit, and discuss other possibilities and their motives.
Evidently, you haven't really read the article"
"possible"/"possibilities": is it what mythicist evidence is all about?

PS: the article in question is difficult to access and not free!

More about the same topic here and here
Also check out tag: {brother(s)}

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {brother(s)} {brother of Jesus} {Carrier} {historical Jesus} {James} {Josephus} {mythicism}
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Comment from: Geoff Barrett

On this point: "I want to reply here: On A), Carrier said "James, the son of Damneus" could also be a possibility, as written originally by Josephus. So now we have one more of those, all of them totally unevidenced."
Isn't it the case that HJ scholars have more or less coalesced around the view that the TF (in Book 18) has been tampered with? Isn't also the case that the various versions put forth by scholars of what might have been the original words written by Josephus are all also "totally unevidenced."?

I raise this point because if we are allowing that clearly there have been additions/changes in the actual words written by Josephus, additions by Christian scribes, probably, in the one case, then why not in the other? It seems special pleading unless you are arguing for the full authenticity of the TF, an argument that is also rejected by many, if not most scholars.

I will read further to see if you address this point later, but I just wanted to put that out there.
Comment from: mullerb Hello Geoff, and welcome,

By "totally unevidenced", I meant there is no ancient copy or ancient witnessing showing either "James, the son of Damneus" or "brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, James by name". It was not meant to be my main argument. But Carrier thinks the high priest had to be replaced by the brother who got executed, which is only evidenced by circular reasoning.

For your information, I rejected the whole of the main TF at a time when many atheists were still confortable with the expurgated one: see here

But to reject something, and then replace it with something else, you need a very good set of arguments, which I do not see with Carrier about the James' passage.

Cordially, Bernard