A Glimpse Into a Conversation

Some controversy and very interesting conversation sprung around a post I put up the other day, regarding Josephus’ writings, documenting Jesus’ life outside of scripture.  I want to share just a bit of that conversation with you today, for the sake of your own spiritual growth and wanderings.

If you’re interested in historical authenticity of scripture, please read on…

Original Post:

Some say there is no mention of Jesus’ life outside of scripture. Flavius Josephus, a prominent and well-known Jewish historian of antiquity writes in book 18 of The Antiquities of the Jews (a non-scriptural historical document):

“At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, did not die out” (Meier 1991, 61). [From, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings/Bart D. Ehrman]

From [Name Omitted for Privacy]:

In the interest of balance, it should be noted that many scholars refute the authenticity of the Antiquities, pointing to potential interpolation and even forgery en masse.

From Rev_Laura_3712:

There are so many wonderfully investigative thoughts, here.

It is absolutely the case that there exists a lot of controversy over Josephus’ writings. Ancient writings in general tend to send a zap of energy and excitement to the brains of many thinkers and scholars. Questions of authenticity, applicability, objectivity, manipulation—so many—come to the table in amazingly colorful ways.

Just to respond to [Name Omitted for Privacy] for a moment: yes, there have been major issues with scribal interpolation regarding Josephus’ texts. The piece I put up was one modern biblical scholars have decided might have been closest to the original before scribal interpolation spoiled the true meat. The actual excerpt says a lot about Jesus specifically being the Messiah, and not a “man.” There’s some Christian lingo strewn here and there, that make present day scholars suspicious that those words did not come from Josephus, himself. The excerpt listed at the beginning of this thread is believed by those scholars to be the original material before manipulation.

But, at the end of the day, none of us can know. When you reach back thousands of years, we’re looking into a time and people so distant from ourselves, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to accurately/clearly understand what transpired between whom, when. All we have is stories passed from moment to moment, person to person, in various ways at various times, none–ever—no matter the historian involved, trustworthy as being free of subjective interpretation, ulterior motive, particular bias, etc.

For me, it’s pretty clear Jesus existed. The man left one of the largest footprints a human life has ever pressed into the dirt of the earth. From the stories which sprung around his life, knowing which events were actual, which legend, which exaggerated, which left out, which absolutely true, is unfortunately beyond our grasp.

But to bring our thread back into someplace more healing, more spiritual, I’ll just mention that what many do experience in a very real way, each day—themselves, in the present moment—is a sense of the life inside them and around them, and a sense that that Life, is something big. Something breathtaking. And Something that reaches far past ourselves and each thing we can see. This Something is what we call “God,” and many people have found the truth of their own experiences of God in the words of the gospels, and in the teachings of Jesus(Yeshua bar Joseph).

And to me, that is the greatest truth we can ever aspire toward even coming a distance away from understanding.

Follow the truth that guides you, and don’t be afraid of where it takes you, because we are always in the Life and soul of God.

Some good thoughts to reflect on:

Psalm 139:1-18

“If you look for truth, you might find comfort, in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap or wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.” –C.S. Lewis

In God’s Love and Peace,
Rev. Laura Hehner
(Deer Park UMC, Bailey)

Written by Deer Park UMC in: General |

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