How late is the Testimonium Flavianum?

As is common with ancient texts, however, there are no surviving extant manuscripts of Josephus' works that can be dated before the 11th century, and the oldest of these are all Greek minuscules, copied by Christian monks.[59] (Josephus on Jesus - Extant sources)

I claim that there is no Jesus Christ, no Christianity and no Christians for the period of the Western Roman Empire. I now also claim to know who invented this character and Church - Alcuin. I have already dismissed most specific, textual claims said (sometimes wrongly) to belong to the first century; here I will do so for the infamous Testimonium Flavianum.

Most independent scholarship has already rejected this passage as by Josephus, though Christian apologists cling to it (by necessity). Here is the latest rejection (with many thanks to Acharya for bringing it to my attention):

A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus: Jewish Antiquities xviii:63 by Paul J.Hopper
Abstract: Josephus in the Jewish Antiquities introduces Jesus the Messiah into his history of the Jews, and appears to report events corresponding closely to those of the Gospels, including Jesus’s crucifixion on the orders of Pontius Pilate. A long standing dispute exists about the authenticity of this text. The present article offers a narratological analysis of the passage, comparing the styles of event reporting in the passage with the three other episodes in Josephus’s Pontius Pilate sequence. The study concludes that the uses of the Greek verb forms such as aorists and participles are distinct in the Jesus passage from those in the other Pilate episodes, and that these differences amount to a difference in genre. It is suggested that the Jesus passage is close in style and content to the creeds that were composed two to three centuries after Josephus.
The author:
Paul J. Hopper is an American linguist of British birth. In 1973, he proposed the glottalic theory regarding the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European consonant inventory, in parallel with the Georgian linguist Tamaz Gamkrelidze and the Russian linguist Vyacheslav V. Ivanov. He later also became known for his theory of emergent grammar (Hopper 1987), for his contributions to the theory of grammaticalisation and other work dealing with the interface between grammar and usage. He currently works as the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA.
At Carnegie Mellon university:
My research and teaching have been centered on the connections between rhetoric (discourse) and grammar (linguistic structure). I am interested in working out the implications of an idea first broached by me in 1988, that structure is not immanent in a language but "emerges" through repetitions of favored word groupings in discourse. Along these lines, I wrote, with the Stanford linguist Elizabeth Traugott, a book, Grammaticalization (Cambridge 1993), that describes the typical historical sources and trajectories of the forms that make up the grammar of a language. Some of my work involves a critique of the standard assumptions of linguistics from the perspective of rhetoric. I'm fascinated by structural differences among languages and the search for "the essential" in language, and this interest has led me into a variety of projects, from comparative Indo-European and the Malayo-Polynesian languages to discourse analysis to the study of human-ape communication. I have published articles and written and edited books on Indo-European and Germanic philology and on Malay discourse. I have been editor of the journal Language Sciences, and have served on the executive committees of the MLA's Language Theory section and of the Linguistic Society of America. I've been the Collitz Professor at the LSA's Linguistics Institute, and have been a Fulbright Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow.
Now, some comments of my own:
  • Nothing of the works of Josephus exist prior to the 11th century.
  • Although the work of Josephus is mentioned in the text described as a copy attributed to one Eusebius of Caesarea, as I have noted repeatedly, this character did not and could not have existed in the period claimed for him; he is what I term a 'ghost' of the fraudulent 'textual tradition', a mythology posing as history.
  • This mythology was composed by and to the order of Alcuin, authorised by Charlemagne.
How does this impact the paper by Hopper, mentioned above?

He may be entirely correct in his suggestion that the Jesus passage is close in style and content to the creeds that were composed two to three centuries after Josephus. This would make this particular, textual fraud contemporaneous to the production of early-Chrestian texts misattributed to Christianity. That works for me.

It would be unlikely that Alcuin would compose the interpolation in the style of this late period (two to three centuries after Josephus); rather, he would have used the style of the first-century Josephus. This raises another possibility:

Maybe Hopper is caught in the glittering web of false assumptions which comprise the fraudulent textual tradition for Christianity. Maybe he 'just assumes' the historicity of the Eusebius of Caesarea character and if so, the interpolation could belong to a later period and Alcuin.

I suggest a new method for dating texts (mis)attributed as early Christian: accepting that the Christian textual tradition is a mythology begun by Alcuin, divide them into the 'Chrestian' and 'others', then date these 'others' as 8th century or later.

Share this: