Slavonic Josephus

Slavonic Josephus

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, writing for the Roman Flavians completed "Antiquities" circa 93/94 CE. In it he makes three mentions of individuals from the gospels. There is one mention of John the Baptist, which has not been disputed, one mention of James the brother of Jesus, who many believed to have been the Messiah, and finally a mention of Jesus whom he states was the Messiah. This final entry known as the "Testimonium Flavianum" has been the object of much controversy as long as scholars have studied this document. It would not be likely that a Jew would ever have considered Jesus the Messiah. The debate on this issue rages on.

Josephus also wrote an earlier work "Bellum Judaicum" or "War of the Jews." In it he describes events that took place during the Roman siege of Palestine and the city of Jerusalem. Though these events took place long after the crucifixion there is only scant mention of any of the biblical characters covered in the gospels, and those mentioned are revolutionaries not pious apostles. The work originally created in Josephus' native tongue Aramaic was translated into Greek for Roman and Greek audiences. It seems that at some point the Greek version was translated into the Slavonic language. In it there are no fewer than eight mentions of Chrisitians as well as John the Baptist and Jesus. At first scholars considered this work to have been a latter day Christian forgery.

In 1908 Johannes Frey, of the University of Dorpat, produced a volume in which he subjected the entries to acute analysis and determined that the author must have been a Jew and not a Christian. It must be noted that most Christian scriptual forgeries are usually clumsy attemps which are heavily dependent on the canonical accounts of events. These entries do not give the same account of events as the gospel stories. There exist three possible candidates who could have been responsible for this document. First, it could have been a Christian, but what Christian would plant inofrmation about Jesus that did not conform to the gospel accounts; second it could have been a Jew, but what Jew would write information that attested to the existence of Jesus. Finally, it could have been Josephus himself who had written an alternate version of "War of the Jews" and then his Roman superiors thought it too self serving to include in the historical account.

Needless to say the debate on this issue continues to this day with many varying accounts as to how this document came into existence. It is important to note that this account is not a faithful translation, but rather a rehashing of ideas which adds many new paragraphs while subtracting others. Regardless, the idea set forth in this document that Yeshu was actually killed not by the Romans, but the Jews is consistent with many other non-scriptual accounts.

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