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Is Josephus' passage about Jesus a forgery?

I get lots of responses to these YouTube videos from atheists and skeptics. One of the most common objections to The Real Jesus concerns Myth #1: “The Historical Jesus is different from the Jesus of the Bible.” This briefly mentions the so-called Testimonium Flavianum, the testimony of Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish historian who mentions Jesus Christ and Christianity a few times in his works.

The common reaction is, “This was a FORGERY!” or “Josephus was a FRAUD!” But most people criticizing the validity this passage – or the reliability of Josephus as a historian – don’t know too much about it. They are repeating the widely accepted conclusion that this passage on Jesus from Josephus’ Antiquities may have been interpolated due to two suspicious phrases that make Josephus sound like a Christian. The consensus is that a Christian scribe may have tried to elucidate Josephus for his Christian audience.

Contrary to what you might hear, the passage is judged authentic by most scholars once the perceived Christian additions are removed. And whether the passage has been altered greatly or with just a few minor words or phrases added, Josephus’ references to Jesus, James and John the Baptist are an authentic witness that validates first century Gospel stories.

I get a more than a little tired of answering this objection in the short 500 character responses allowed on YouTube. Skeptics want to believe the passage is a forgery and don’t want to go and do the research for themselves. So I wanted to briefly deal with this in a short video response. I decided to interview the well-known Internet apologist, J.P. Holding, and ask him some questions.

1. What is an interpolation?
2. Do most (or all) of ancient writings contain interpolations?
3. What is the difference between an interpolation and a forgery?
3. Are there any credible modern scholars who believe that the Josephus passage in question has not been interpolated?
4. Are there any who think it is an outright forgery?
5. What is the consensus of the textual critics on what the passage must have originally read like? How can we be certain of this?
6. What about the other passage containing the phrase “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ”?

And just for fun: I hear a lot of comments about why there are not records of the crucifixion of Jesus in “Roman records.” They think that somehow the argument from silence applies here, even though there is not one existing “crucifixion record” from Judea during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. People don’t know how common an occurrence crucifixion was in the first century. People also don’t know that Josephus’ description of crucifixion closely matches that of the Gospels in recounting what happened with Jesus’ body.

7. How many times does Josephus describe or record crucifixions in his History? Does any of this information corroborate the record of Jesus body being taken from the cross and buried?

Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun” (Josephus Wars 4.5).

Compare this with Gospel account about Joseph of Arimathea.

Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near” (Luke 23:50-54).

My neighbor and Jesus Seminar scholar, John Dominic Crossan, thinks that Jesus’ body must have been eaten by dogs, despite this passage by Josephus and despite having no evidence or documents to back this up.

And on a related note:

8. What about the idea that Luke and Acts were written in the second century and that similar passages in Luke and Acts were based on Josephus (and not vice versa)?

These and other questions are answered in the Real Jesus DVD and you may see a preview of it on The Real Jesus Vlog at YouTube.

Your comments are welcome!

Textile Help

Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

$49.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

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Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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