The Jesus of Josephus

In his Church History, Eusebius quotes Josephus on the signs leading up to the destruction of the Jewish temple. One happened at Pentecost and involved a certain Jesus

the son of Ananias, a common countryman, four years before the war, when the city was particularly prosperous and peaceful, came to the feast, at which it was customary for all to make tents at the temple to the honor of God, and suddenly began to cry out: A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the temple, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against all the people. Day and night he went through all the alleys crying thus.

but they, the authorities, the distinguished, seized him …

But certain of the more distinguished citizens, vexed at the ominous cry, seized the man and beat him with many stripes. But without uttering a word in his own behalf, or saying anything in particular to those that were present, he continued to cry out in the same words as before.

and brought him to the Roman governor …

And the rulers, thinking, as was true, that the man was moved by a higher power, brought him before the Roman governor.

though scourged, he remained composed … 

And then, though he was scourged to the bone, he neither made supplication nor shed tears

and still cried out his message …

but, changing his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, he answered each stroke with the words, Woe, woe unto Jerusalem.

The accounts of that other Jesus, the son of God, not Ananias, which were written after Josephus, add a warning to the list of the temple’s ill omens …

Do you see all these great buildings?, replied Jesus, Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

And, overheard, this prediction got him into similar trouble to his name sake. It didn’t pay to warn about the temple’s demise. Particularly when your name was Jesus!

Today mention Josephus and you hear about his questionable mention of that other Jesus, the inspirational son of God, not the possessed son of Ananias. Or you hear that his account of the fall of the temple confirms that Jesus’ prediction, just his. Today, most, though not all, are like Eusebius - Josephus is a mere validator for the story of a man beyond history. They miss the time itself.

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