Richards Carrier's blog post
My earlier post on the same topic
Answering the following:
"In effect, Josephus was saying, ‘Ananus illegally executed the brother of Jesus, which got a reaction; for his crime, he was deposed and replaced by Jesus.’”
I replied (with some editing):
"That requires a lot of imagination. And then, what would be the odds that a Jew condemned to death for breaking the Law would have a brother who is high priest material?
And if it was so (with very little probability!), that would imply this James was from a prominent family. Then how to explain the one who had him put to death was only removed from the high priesthood? The life to that James seems to have been a cheap commodity, as it would be for a lower class Jew."
Replying to the unevidenced supposition:
"He [an assumed interpolator] only finds the story of the stoning of one James in AJ 20.200 which spoke of “the brother of Jesus, whose name was James”."
I wrote (with minor editing):
"Josephus, with very few exceptions, when he declares someone (A) is a brother of B, almost always has already defined earlier who is B (or at least in the same sentence). The only exceptions are when B is already well known.
Looking at the forty-seven occurrences of 'brother' in Josephus' Antiquities last three books (18, 19 & 20), they are only two of these exceptions: Jupiter in 19:1 and Pallas in 20:137.
(the mention of Pallas as a brother of Felix is not necessary because Josephus rarely supplies the name of family relative for any governor and might be just a free instinctive added information.
Pallas was well known as a freedman who became a most competent treasurer of the Empire under Claudius and the early part of Nero's rule, and also amassed a huge fortune)
So "Jesus", on its own, does not make sense, but "Jesus, him called Christ" does, because Josephus knew his audience would know about the attributed title of the assumed founder of Christianity.
Again, the odds are against this hypothesis."
Richard Carrier wrote:
"Indeed. That’s why so many leading Jews were outraged by it."
"The translation from Whiston indicates some of the leading Jews were less than outraged:
"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;"
"most uneasy" & "disliked" do not show outrage. Furthermore, their uneasiness was directed to the breaching of civil laws, because it was not lawful for the high priest to assemble a sanhedrin without the consent of the prefect/governor. They were not too concerned James and others got executed."
From someone (Johan) defending Carrier's position, I got that comment:
"When you say that the influential Jews were not so upset with Ananus the younger, you seem to be arguing against the part of the text that everyone else is in agreement about: namely that Ananus was deposed. Clearly – regardless of whose brother James was – they were upset enough to depose Ananus. And no one has made any argument that requires them to be more upset than that"
"First, it is not me who said that ("influential Jews were not so upset ..."), it is Josephus who said it.
High priests were deposed all the time. Very few ended their tenure by their natural death. And according to Josephus, some of these deposed high priests enjoyed a lot of prestige, influence and respect afterwards (such as Ananus the younger & Jesus son of Damneus. See below).
Replacement of a high priest by another was not bringing shame to the departing high priest and his family. That's why I think that just removal of office of Ananus the younger was not much of a punishment, and that ultra light sentence cannot be explained if that Ananus was responsible to put to death somebody from a prominent family."
Johan also commented:
"Ananus the younger, if we are to believe Josephus, was clearly a very unsuitable high priest."
I replied (with minor editing):
Actually Josephus raved about that Ananus:
Josephus' Wars, IV, V, 2 "... they [the Idumeans] sought for the high priests [former high priests Ananus, son of Ananus and Jesus, son of Gamaliel], and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.
I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city.
He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honor of which he was possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of a democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would be destroyed; to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived, they had certainly compounded matters; for he was a shrewd man in speaking and persuading the people, and had already gotten the mastery of those that opposed his designs, or were for the war. And the Jews had then put abundance of delays in the way of the Romans, if they had had such a general as he was.
Jesus [son of Gamaliel] was also joined with him; and although he was inferior to him upon the comparison, he was superior to the rest; and I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these their great defenders and well-wishers, while those that a little before had worn the sacred garments, and had presided over the public worship; and had been esteemed venerable by those that dwelt on the whole habitable earth when they came into our city, were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts. And I cannot but imagine that virtue itself groaned at these men's case, and lamented that she was here so terribly conquered by wickedness. And this at last was the end of Ananus and Jesus."
According to Josephus, that Ananus was not "a very unsuitable high priest", quite the opposite.
(Note: earlier, the Whiston's translation has the same Ananus declared "bold" and "very insolent". But the Greek underlying "very insolent" means "venturous")
But if he had been the initiator of putting to death member(s) of prominent family(ies), that would be very different. However if he was only part of getting rid of lower class pests, that would not tarnish his reputation.
Now, we can see the motive for Josephus' earlier description of the fast removal of Ananus the younger: just to say that Ananus was not demoted because he was "a very unsuitable high priest" and a bad person.
"Josephus does a rather poor job of explaining why Jesus ben Damneus was chosen, don’t you think?"
I answered (with minor editing):
"Josephus very rarely indicated why an individual was chosen among others to be the next high priest."
Also, if that James was ever the son of Damneus, I agree that Josephus would have done a very poor job by declaring, some ninety words latter, that Jesus son of Damneus was named the new high priest, with no words saying that Jesus was selected because his brother had been executed.
"If James had been completely unrelated to Ananus successor, he is less newsworthy."
"If James, the brother of Jesus called Christ, had been executed for breaking the Law after being judged by the Sanhedrin, that would be also newsworthy, from the point of view of a non-Christian. But the main reason for Josephus to narrate James' passage was to explain why Ananus (who was for Josephus a very great man, as hero, saint and martyr) was demoted so quickly."
"As for exactly how upset the Jews were, ... So clearly they were upset."
"Yes they were upset (but not outraged) but not because James & others were executed, but because Ananus breached civil laws."
"Again, you fail to define what it would mean for someone to be ‘high priest material’"
I replied (with some editing):
"Among other things, be literate (that eliminates 90% of the population), be male (we are down to only 5% now), knowing the Hebrews scriptures (more so the Law) and likely being (at least) a priest or scholar."
And it also helps if you were from a prominent family:
Josephus told us some high priests had a father who was high priest himself: five sons of Ananus the elder, Joseph son of Simon and Elioneus son of Simon Cantheras.
Three other high priests had the same father (Boethus): Simon, Joazar, and Eleazar.
Joazar was Matthias' wife's brother (Matthias being a former high priest).
According to the Talmud, Jesus, son of Gamaliel was married to Martha from the Boethus' family.
According to gJohn, Caiphas was the son in law of Ananus the elder.
That's 17 out of 28 high priests (from Herod the Great's era to 70) with known family ties.
Furthermore, Simon, son of Boethus was one father in law of Herod the Great."
And Josephus himself wrote high priests were chosen from a few families only:
"So when they [the zealots] had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of whom the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office ..." (Wars, IV, 3, 6)
So, because high priests appear to be drawn from a network of prominent families, I do not see as probable a certain James, executed for breaking the Law, just happened to have a brother in high places.
I also found one relevant interesting item:
"When Archelaus was entered on his ethnarchy, and was come into Judea, he accused Joazar, the son of Boethus, of assisting the seditious, and took away the high priesthood from him, and put Eleazar his brother in his place." (Josephus' Antiquities, book XVII, 339)
Josephus did not write "Eleazar, son of Boethus", but "Eleazar his brother". So it is very odd that Josephus wrote "Jesus, son of Damneus" instead of "Jesus, brother of James", that is if it was the case.