The Testimonium Flavianum

Flavius Josephus

Today, most do not recognize this very important record of history, known as The Testimonium Flavianum. It is attributed to Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian who lived through and recorded the history of the Jews from the beginning of the intratestimental period (400 BCE – Jesus’ birth) through the end of the first century CE. We’ll examine more about Josephus in another blog. For now, we’ll concentrate on The Testimonium Flavianum.

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so-called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. – Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63

Josephus witnessed many of the events that occurred in Jerusalem and Palestine during the period of Roman oppression. His accounts of the siege and fall of both Jerusalem and Masada is important, and controversial, in both the history and current culture in Israel.

The Testimonium Flavianum is the only extra-Biblical writing to make a direct reference to Jesus. This alone makes it one of the most important historical records outside of the Bible itself.

What makes The Testimonium Flavianum extremely controversial are the two phrases in italics in the quote above.

Josephus was a Jew, not a converted Christian. For a Jew to make either of these statements raises questions about whether Josephus was their author. In part, because of these two phrases, the Jews pretty much ignored Josephus’ works until the 20th century.

In a 1991 book by John Meier, The Marginal Jew, the author hypothesizes that these two phrases were inserted from margin notes when Josephus’s’ works were translated during the 4th century. While there is supporting evidence, it is inconclusive.

In 1995 a new discovery in another document showed an amazing similarity to Josephus’s’ account. The wording was too close to have been coincidence. It is now thought that both were taken from a Jewish-Christian Gospel that has since been lost.

Controversial as it is, The Testimonium Flavianum is one of the most important extra-Biblical writings.

Alive in The Word

About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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1 Response to The Testimonium Flavianum

  1. Pingback: The Testimonium Flavianum (via ChristianBlessings) | A Journey Through the Bible

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