b-greek-digest V1 #620

b-greek-digest             Sunday, 19 March 1995       Volume 01 : Number 620

In this issue:

        Re: Josephus on prophets
        Re: Josephus on prophets
        Re: Josephus on prophets


From: cba@cba.onramp.net
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 16:09:35 cst
Subject: Re: Josephus on prophets

    At the risk of appearing overtly critical I think Greg has glossed over
some points. Jo. has an adversion to calling the 'sects' during his 'own day'
by Jewish conventions. He signifies their existence as philosophical
schools--an obvious attempt to resonate with his Greco-Roman (and Flavian)
audience. Moreover, he has a distinct _tendez_ in offering exculpatory
evidence on the behalf of the Pharisees. In addition, he also goes to great
lengths to present the Jewish faith as innocent of the sole breach of the
_Pax Romana_ (in roughly a two hundred year period only the Jews were guilty
of this percieved breech). It comes as litte wonder than that Jo. would paint
J. the B. in a light that has does not mirror the so-called prophets that
arose during this turbulent period (roughly nine to ten from Judas, Theudas,
etc. until the destruction by Titus and Vespesian). Such a moniker would have
elicted an opprobrious view of John in the eyes of his audience. And, as
seems probable, Jo. thought well of J. the B. then it comes as no surprise
that he did not refer to him in the manner of the Gospels. Moreover, the most
proximate temporal, and religious, source for the J. the B. ministry is the
Gospel material (and Acts)--not Josephus. The normative canons on proper
historiographical methodology dictate that the Gospels should recieve
priority. Hope this little soapbox lecture has been probative rather than a
Best Regards


From: cba@cba.onramp.net
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 17:42:54 cst
Subject: Re: Josephus on prophets

Paleo-Bill's points are not incorrect, just in need of some nuancing. 
Josephus' language for JBap IS, as PaleoBill indicates, hellenised.  
Fine.  The question is: so what?  

Josephus can use the term _profetes_ of other contemporaries 
both favourably and unfavourably -- remember, he thinks of 
himself as a _profetes_: does this mean that he wants to call 
down opprobrium on himself?!  I don't think so.  But this 
double and triple use should indicate that we need to 
do more than look at the use of the term.  For the term needs to be 

As I have tried to suggest, the point is: what does 
Josephus MEAN when he says _profetes_?  Likewise, what does he MEAN 
by describing JBap in highly hellenised form?  

I think that it will ultimately be more helpful to examine the use of 
the terminology that Josephus DOES use for JBap and see how it fits 
other figures he may describe, than it will to suppose on the basis 
of the Gospel traditions that Josephus MUST describe JBap as a 
prophet and then look desperately for something that may not 
even be there.  

Re. Gospel evidence: Paleo-Bill says that 
> the most 
> proximate temporal, and religious, source for the J. the B. ministry is the
> Gospel material (and Acts)--not Josephus. The normative canons on proper
> historiographical methodology dictate that the Gospels should recieve
> priority. 

So ANTIQUIUS MELIUS always applies in historiography?   Would you 
agree then that Q1 may be a better index of what the historical Jesus 
was like than the canonical Gospels -- assuming Q1, of course?  
Shouldn't one also take into consideration bias and possible 
authorial intent?  Does this mean that Mark is better than John?  
Lots of questions raised in that final statement.


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From: cba@cba.onramp.net
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 15:42:02 cst
Subject: Re: Josephus on prophets

On Thu, 16 Mar 1995, Gregory Bloomquist wrote:

> So, a suggestion: let's assume with Larry an hypothesis that accords
> the historical JBap the status or role of _profetes_; however, let's
> also ask then why Josephus, differently from the Gospel writers, has
> painted JBap in a highly stylised portrayal of Hellenistic sage,
> something that he also did with other "prophets"?
> And bringing us full circle: might the answer to that question
> suggest why, assuming Larry's hypothesis of the historical Jesus as
> prophet, the earliest Gospel tradents (e.g., the earliest line
> of thinking in Q1) might have done the same with Jesus?

A most interesting line of reflection!  Should it be the case that "the 
earliest Gospel tradents" preferred a more "hellenized" or sage-like 
Jesus (and, please note, I'm not yet able to see from Kloppenborg et alia 
yet quite why this suggestion is taken by some as so forceful or likely), 
we should certainly observe Kloppenborg's caution against reading his 
proposed literary history of Q as indicating/equalling the tradition 
history of the Jesus material.  Put positively, Kloppenborg himself warns 
us that material that might have been added later to Q might well have 
been among the earliest Jesus material around, and might have very good 
call for being considered authentic (e.g., eschatological material).
	But to return to Greg's question, yes, I think we also have to 
consider what factors/forces might have moved Q1 folks to draft their 
Jesus the way some propose they did.  One possibly relevant matter is 
that Kloppenborg also insists that "Q" = LITERARY phenomena, not oral 
tradition (contra, e.g., Kelber), and that it = GREEK material, not 
Aramaic material.  So, on this suggestion, the folks in question might 
well have been preparing a picture of Jesus to commend him to tastes that 
favored Greek-philosophical values/characteristics/themes, in which case 
the proposed sophistic Jesus of Q1 might be a secondary, lateral 
adaptation of Jesus & Christianity somewhat comparable in some respects 
to Josephus' attempt to portray and commend Judaism to his non-Jewish 
	But I must leave this speculative line for others and commitments 
of my own summon.

Cheers.  Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba


End of b-greek-digest V1 #620


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