Re: Josephus and Magi

On Thu, 29 Sep 1994, Robert Kraft wrote:

> Josephus does not refer to Simon the Essene (Ant 17[.13.3].346) as a
> magos (astrologer, associated with Persian lore and practice), but
> rather to another person named variously Atomos or Simon in the MSS
> of Ant 20[.7.2].142, a Cypriot Jew who advises Drusilla to marry the
> Roman governor Felix. Clearly Josephus is not using the term in a
> complimentary manner with reference to Atomos. In the few other passages
> in which he uses the "mag-" root (astrologer, magi[c]-act), there is
> little reason to believe he has a positive attitude -- Pharoah's
> magicians in the exodus story, and Daniel's counterparts at the court of
> the Persian king. (Josephus refers to acts of magic in the former
> ["mageiai"] and to the "magoi" themeselves in the latter, perhaps
> intending a distinction. The Greek of Exodus does not use the term;
> both Greek texts of Daniel do.)

McNamara argues thus:  Magoi in the NT at least is usually merely 
"magician", not Zoroastrian mage.  In Daniel magoi are mentioned along 
with Chaldaioi-which terms are more or less synonymous and used to 
designate magicianns, dream interpreter's etc.  Josephus describes those 
whom Archelaus called to interpret his dreams as manteis and 
chaldaioi-and even though the term magoi is not used, chaldaioi would be 
describing a class of people.  (Wars 2,7,3)  Judas the Essene is called a 
seer in War 1,3,5Simonmon the Essene is not explicitly called a 
Chaldaean, but he interpreted dreams and clearly (sic) belonged to that 
class.  Since then Essenes could be included with Chaldaioi, why not as 
Magoi also, particularly in judaisms influenced by terminlolgy from Daniel.

There are some obvious problems with this of course.  And as I said, I am 
toying with the idea.  This is the weak link in McNamara's 
discussion-ever other problem (from the East, why look in Jerusalem for 
Jesus and not in Bethlehem, why star gazing) he seems to deal with rather 
well except this jump from Magi to Essenes.  It is plausible, but very shaky.
I apologize for the misinformation in my original post.

Larry Swain
Parmly Billings Library