Pilate and Josephus

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by rakovsky » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:15 pm

Ben,
I know what you are saying. If it was just Josephus popping the name Decius Mundus in some usual historical place in his text, I wouldn't think of it as anything but a real historical reference to a real person of that name. But this passage is one that I am convinced is written as a cryptic allusion to NT events with figures he names as Paulina and Ida alluding to Paul and Iuda, so it inclines me to think that the same is true for the name of Decius Mundus.

As for the meaning, the Bible in both Testaments many times uses the idea of a tenth as a way of speaking of a tithe. Josephus also numerous times IIRC speaks of Rome as having conquered or spread over the world, even though I know that they hadn't conquered Persia. He says that Rome even tried to cross the Atlantic IIRC. Meanwhile, Paul's mission was to spread the gospel across Rome, if not the world of the gentiles. Just as Paulina in Section 4 refers to the allusion to Paul in Section 5, it looks reasonable to me to think that Decius Mundus refers to the tithing that the Pauline figure in Section 5 performs.

Another possibility I considered us that it refers to the concept that shows up repeatedly in the visionary or apocalyptic literature of the 1st or 2nd centuries that there were a number of a heavens, e.g. the "7th heaven". In some Jewish Christian thinking from at least the 6th century that I came across, these heavens are associated with the planets. To speak of the Tenth World brings to mind this idea, since in the epistles Paul says he knew someone who was taken up to the Tenth Heaven. Plus, in the Nag Hammadi literature, Paul rises to the Tenth Heaven:
http://theconversation.com/pauls-apocal ... over-40836

Gill's exposition of 2 Cor 12:2 interprets the third heaven as referring to a third world:
(( The apostle refers to a distinction among the Jews of , "the supreme heaven, the middle heaven, and the lower heaven" (f); and who also make a like division of worlds, and which they call , "the supreme world, and the middle world, and the lower world" (g); and sometimes (h) the world of angels, the world of the orbs, and the world of them below; and accordingly the Cabalistic doctors talk of three worlds; , "the third world", they say (i), is the supreme world, hidden, treasured, and shut up, which none can know; as it is written, "eye hath not seen", &c. and is the same with the apostle's "third heaven". ))
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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by rakovsky » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:20 pm

Charles Wilson wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:42 pm
"Tithing World", perhaps?
While you posted this I was looking up all Biblical usages of the word tenth. It very often if not usually shows up that way. Chapter 3 section 5 is to a big extent an allusion to Paul's tithing for Jerusalem's church. Good job.

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:25 pm

rakovsky wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:15 pm
Another possibility I considered us that it refers to the concept that shows up repeatedly in the visionary or apocalyptic literature of the 1st or 2nd centuries that there were a number of a heavens, e.g. the "7th heaven". In some Jewish Christian thinking from at least the 6th century that I came across, these heavens are associated with the planets.
There were only 7 planets in antiquity: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Uranus was not discovered until 1781, Neptune not definitively until 1846.
To speak of the Tenth World brings to mind this idea, since in the epistles Paul says he knew someone who was taken up to the Tenth Heaven.
In the epistle (of 2 Corinthians) it is the third heaven, not the tenth.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by rakovsky » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:50 pm

In the shorter and probably earlier text, The Apocalypse of Paul, discovered in 1945/6 as part of the library at Nag Hammadi, God’s Spirit takes the form of a little child who speaks to Paul and then catches him up not just to the third, but all the way to the tenth heaven.

At heaven number three Paul is still able to see the earth below. By heavens number four and five he is in the realm of angels. Number six is the place of a “great light” and number seven is the place where Paul now sees “an old man”. By the time Paul gets to level ten, he is (re)united with “fellow spirits”, although the detail for these upper echelons is pretty sparse.
https://theconversation.com/pauls-apoca ... over-40836

I don't think that the heavens or world's were the same exact thing as the planets. Rather, the idea was probably that the planets and stars were sitting in heavenly layers. And so there could be heavens beyond the visible planets like in the Nag Hammadi text.

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:17 am

rakovsky

This has been a very informative and interesting exchange you and and Ben have been having. Nevertheless, there still is a lot more at stake in this than whether Josephus and his audience appreciated Oscan puns.

If Josephus knowingly and intentionally misstated the name of a historical man, or invented the man altogether, for whatever purpose, then does that not imply that Josephus was not even trying to write history?

If further, his purpose in misrepresenting inventions as if they were facts was to spoof Christianity and what would generations later become the New Testament, then on what basis can we say that his Testimonium, which introduces the theme of his spoof, is intended to present actual facts about Christian origins?

Or, suppose you rehabilitated the Paulina and Mundus story so that "everything that Josephus said happened did happen," but only motivated his inclusion and placement of the story as "Josephus intends his reader to understand that Christianity is a farce." Just that much would justify re-examining the TF as possibly original as received, as a suitably ironic introduction of a subject he then disparages.

This is a big discovery that you have made, a game changer. You should be addressing directly the revolutionary impact of the decoding of what might otherwise be mistaken for an inversion of the antecedent Amphitryon, IMO.

In that vein, and while I have your attention, we know that the later but still ancient pseudo-Hegesippus version of Paulina and Mundus highlights the idea that Paulina will become the mother of a god's child. This is at least as obviously a "Christian theme" as the crucifixion of Ida (who doesn't appear in that later version, oddly enough).

If Josephus is looking to spoof Christianity, then how did he miss that part? That is directly what the "if it be lawful to call him a man" swipe in the TF referred to.

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by maryhelena » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:43 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:39 am
rakovsky
My guess is that he was spinning a report based partly on real events. ... My guess is that Josephus likely took that information and spun a lurid tale, naming his characters Paulina (after Paul, who is alluded to in the next story about the 4 Jewish swindlers) and Decius Mundus (meaning "Tenth World", a very unlikely name for a real person).
That's pretty serious if Josephus knowingly made things up and invented false names, isn't it? If true, this would affect the interpretation of the now-adjacent Testimonium. For example, the hypothesis that the TF is original, but tongue-in-cheek and exaggerated for satirical effect would become tenable, maybe even attractive (Eusebius becomes the first apologist not to get the joke; much later Agapius "cleans it up" to kill the humor and salvage Eusebius' reputation).

'Tis a strange business, this historical Jesus thing.
Indeed a very strange business ;)

Yes, I would suggest that the Josephan writer used stories to reflect historical events. Consequently, reading Josephus requires awareness of this. After all, a 'truth' can perhaps be captured more within a story than presented as a fact. We might have lots of facts regarding past history but what really happened sometimes has to be read between the lines. Well, something like that... :)

So with Josephus. Why is the TF placed within a context of 19 c.e ? Why is it followed by the Paulina story? Why is the Paulina story followed by Jewish man story? I have found that by considering the time frame in which Josephus sets his stories may provide some answers to these questions.

The TF (whichever parts of which one denies or accepts) is placed within the context of 19 c.e. For a JC historicist that dating is unacceptable. However, from an ahistoricist position that date is significant. Not only for the dating of the JC crucifixion story but that the dating brings back into focus Hasmonean history.

19 c.e. is 49 years away from the events Josephus relates for 30 b.c. The year in which the last Hasmonean King and High Priest was killed by Herod. Perhaps what Josephus is doing with his Jewish exile story is relating a history of Hyrancus II. Yes, one can''t parallel one thing against another - but it's the essence of the story that is important. Whatever the intricacies of the Josephan story set in 19 c.e. it is linked to the event of 30 b.c. via a 49 year linkage (7x7). In other words; Josephus has used a historical event during the time of Tiberius, the exclusion of Jews from Rome, to highlight an earlier exiling and death of a Jewish High Priest to Babylonia. (always keep in mind Judea is under Roman occupation hence public remembrance of the Hasmonean dynasty would be an unwelcome nationalistic intrusion).

Hyrancus was killed by Herod in 30 c.e. 7 years earlier, in 37 b.c. the Hasmonean King and High Priest Antigonus was executed by Herod. Perhaps the Paulina story belongs to this period of History - following as it does the TF (which to my thinking relates to the Roman execution of Antigonus). If so, maybe Paulina is a symbolic representation of the Hasmoneans and Decius Mundus is the Herodians. Thus the last 10 years of the Hasmonean Dynasty (40 b.c. to 30 b.c. )is being retold via allegory following the TF in Antiquities Book 18.

Remembering past historical events is remembering where we have come from. The disasters along the way are part of our collective history. This year, in particular, there will be ceremonies remembering those who died during World War 1 - Armistice Day 2018 being 100 years since that 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month.

What was a Jewish historian, of Hasmonean blood, to do on such remembrance days of the history of his own people while living under Roman occupation....all he could do is tell stories - history via allegory.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:06 am

maryhelena

Hi. I'm OK with the TF + Paulina + the expulsion block being a single contiguous exposition, received by us as originally composed by Josephus, if that's what happened. I'm certainly not saying that it couldn't have happened.

What I'm energized about is that the received TF is a bone of contention because, if authentic and offered as a recital of actual facts, then it is the earliest non-Christian endorsement of a Christian "creed" as accurate history. That's huge, as we all know.

If it's authentic but not offered as a recital of actual facts, then its value and contentiousness both diminish sharply. Josephus would have introduced a farce with a satire of a creed, and followed that with a real tragedy. That would be a very powerful composition, IMO, but now worthless as any kind of belated witness to a "historical Jesus." (Not historically worthless; that by 93 CE the Christian movement had a mature creed known well enough by non-Christians to motivate satire is worth knowing.)

The very doubt whether the TF is authentic is predicated on an assumption of serious literal intent. If it's supposed to be a joke, then of course it "doesn't sound like what Josephus or any Jew really professed." And of course early Christian apologists didn't rely on it, on pain of being laughed at themselves. Only later would Eusebius not get the joke, or get the joke, but trust that nobody was laughing anymore.

Now, your decoding (distinct from rakovsky's) makes Paulina and Mundus a farce with a non-Christian ultimate meaning. It's still a farce, though, and it's still verbally linked and follows-on to what we receive as a parody of a Christian creed (even if that in turn has its own coded reference to something else). Josephus is shown as departing freely from actual fact, until he returns to fact abruptly to tell of a massive and murderous oppression of Roman Jews.

I am not sure what you, as an advocate of a particular reading, can do about that. It is a problem, though, and while not "fatal" (yes, that could be what happened), a fictive and surface-humor context for the TF is a major consequence of the hypothesis, and as such needs some attention.

On a point arising,
After all, a 'truth' can perhaps be captured more within a story than presented as a fact.
Fully agreed, but we need to be careful about saying that aloud. Those are fighting words hereabouts :) .
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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by maryhelena » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:38 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:06 am
maryhelena

Hi. I'm OK with the TF + Paulina + the expulsion block being a single contiguous exposition, received by us as originally composed by Josephus, if that's what happened. I'm certainly not saying that it couldn't have happened.

What I'm energized about is that the received TF is a bone of contention because, if authentic and offered as a recital of actual facts, then it is the earliest non-Christian endorsement of a Christian "creed" as accurate history. That's huge, as we all know.

If it's authentic but not offered as a recital of actual facts, then its value and contentiousness both diminish sharply.
On the contrary, it's value increases. The value of an allegory is that it removes the either/or approaches to the account. It presents opportunity to search for meaning and explanations that may, perhaps, lie outside the either/or scenarios.

Josephus would have introduced a farce with a satire of a creed, and followed that with a real tragedy. That would be a very powerful composition, IMO, but now worthless as any kind of belated witness to a "historical Jesus." (Not historically worthless; that by 93 CE the Christian movement had a mature creed known well enough by non-Christians to motivate satire is worth knowing.)

The very doubt whether the TF is authentic is predicated on an assumption of serious literal intent. If it's supposed to be a joke, then of course it "doesn't sound like what Josephus or any Jew really professed." And of course early Christian apologists didn't rely on it, on pain of being laughed at themselves. Only later would Eusebius not get the joke, or get the joke, but trust that nobody was laughing anymore.

Now, your decoding (distinct from raskovsky's) makes Paulina and Mundus a farce with a non-Christian ultimate meaning. It's still a farce, though, and it's still verbally linked and follows-on to what we receive as a parody of a Christian creed (even if that in turn has its own coded reference to something else). Josephus is shown as departing freely from actual fact, until he returns to fact abruptly to tell of a massive and murderous oppression of Roman Jews.

I am not sure what you, as an advocate of a particular reading, can do about that. It is a problem, though, and while not "fatal" (yes, that could be what happened), a fictive and surface-humor context for the TF is a major consequence of the hypothesis, and as such needs some attention.

On a point arising,
After all, a 'truth' can perhaps be captured more within a story than presented as a fact.
Fully agreed, but we need to be careful about saying that aloud. Those are fighting words hereabouts :) .
Paul

My view on the TF is that the core is Josephan. It's not a core in support of historicity for the gospel JC - it is, if anything, support for the literary nature of that gospel Jesus figure. The TF story and the two stories that follow, Paulina and Decius Mundus, and the Jew story, are all stories reflecting, alluding to, Hasmonean history.

I don't see any farce or intention to deceive. The TF and the following two stories are what they are: Allegories that are reflecting, giving illusion to, historical events of past Hasmonean history. Perhaps we should acknowledge lack of insight on our part before we are reduced to a negative appraisal of the writer, or writers, of the stories.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by rakovsky » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:20 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:17 am
rakovsky

This has been a very informative and interesting exchange you and and Ben have been having. Nevertheless, there still is a lot more at stake in this than whether Josephus and his audience appreciated Oscan puns.

If Josephus knowingly and intentionally misstated the name of a historical man, or invented the man altogether, for whatever purpose, then does that not imply that Josephus was not even trying to write history?
...
If Josephus is looking to spoof Christianity, then how did he miss that part? That is directly what the "if it be lawful to call him a man" swipe in the TF referred to.
Paul,
I welcome you to the thread that I made on the Paulina story to talk about this more.
Let me compare Paulina's story to one popular Russian novel, called The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. In it, the Devil comes to Moscow to tell a writer his own version of Jesus' Passion. It bears some resemblance to critical or hostile academic perceptions of Jesus in Russia in the 1930s, using names like Yeshua and Yerushalayem, which Bulgakov at the end of the novel presents as if they exist In some dark alternate plane. In it, as Deacon Kuraev points out, the figures are distorted, so that Jesus only pretends to care about the crucified people next to him, and there is no mention of a resurrection.

Bulgakov in the novel was trying to hint at the existence of God and opened the novel with the 7th proof of God's existence. In the book, he was using the dark side of the Devil and his amoral version of Jesus' story with its false love and false caring in order to hint at the real existence, goodness, true love and caring of God. That is, Bulgakov write a fictional novel with a fictional gospel with immorality and amorality, what Kuraev calls The Gospel According to Satan. Maybe also he had to write a fictional story, because it was too dangerous to write a lengthy book openly promoting the gospel and debunking the atheistic opponents or critics of the gospel.

When we come to the stories of Josephus about Paulina and the four swindlers, we find the Biblical elements reversed to form an immoral antithesis to the gospel. Rather than a virgin birth by the power of the "living God", or as Jesus said, The God of the Living, Paulina is tricked into sex by a god of the dead, Anubis. Rather than Paul tithing for the church, the 4 swindlers tithe for their own pockets. Since the immoral, fake stories are opposite to the gospel, one could think, following the logic that holds for The Master and Margarita, that Josephus was implying the reverse when it came to the Biblical stories, ie. that they were good and true, that Paul was a real life person who tithes for the church and not a fictional swindler who tithes for his own pockets.

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Re: Pilate and Josephus

Post by maryhelena » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:00 am

rakovsky wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:20 am
that Paul was a real life person who tithes for the church and not a fictional swindler who tithes for his own pockets.
Speculation regarding stories in the NT, and their significance for stories in Josephus, is all very well. However, without it having some semblance to history it has no value. In other words, speculation, if it is to move into the realm of probabilities has to have some connection to reality. With Josephus, in particular, the reality front and center stage is history.

As to the NT figure of Paul - there is no evidence that such a figure existed. Hence any speculation about this NT figure that works from the assumption of historicity falls flat - it can never get off the ground and be of value in a historical context.


Thomas Brodie: Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus.

PAUL: THE PENNY FINALLY DROPS

Historicized fiction.

A mass of data had suddenly fallen into place.
What hit me was that the entire narrative regarding Paul, everything the
thirteen epistles say about him or imply-about his life, his work and travels,
his character, his sending and receiving of letters, his readers and his
relationship to them-all of that was historicized fiction. It was fiction,
meaning that the figure of Paul was a work of imagination, but this figure had
been historicized-presented in a way that made it look like history, history like, 'fiction made to resemble the uncertainties of life in history' (Alter
\98\ : 27)
......

So-and this reality took time to sink in-the fgure of Paul joined the
ranks of so many other figures from the older part of the Bible, figures who,
despite the historical details surrounding them, were literary, figures of the
imagination.

Anyway, the focus of this thread is Pilate and Josephus in the context of Antiquities Book 18. I appreciate that the stories following the TF are of interest but bringing in the NT figure of Paul as though that figure has some relevance to these Antiquities stories is simply an attempt to equate one story with another story - a Josephan story with a NT story. What these stories are crying out for is interpretation via an analysis of Hasmonean/Jewish history - that can't be achieved by reading one story into another story. In both cases, the Josephan and the NT, it is necessary to get outside the story - to view the story through the prism of history - to let history take precedence not it's reflection or illusion within the stories. It is what the story captures, what it's essence is, that is fundamental. The intricacies of the stories might be of interest - but they are the trees that should not hinder our view of the wood.....
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

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