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Thread: Josephus Authoritive???

  1. #1

    Default Josephus Authoritive???

    I am doing some research on the Tribes of Israel.
    In doing so I am reading through some of Josephus’s work and was wondering if anyone has ever heard of or know where Josephus’s writings are in contradiction with our Canonized Scriptures?
    Any input will be welcomed!
    Last edited by ugotdave; 05-12-2012 at 12:27 AM.
    Be diligent to present yourself approved to God
    as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,
    handling accurately the word of truth.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Josephus made use of the scriptures ("Old Testament") as sources, so there's going to be a broad agreement. I'm not aware in detail of how he may have differed from them, but I believe it does happen, including places where he simply has material not found in the Bible. This is partly due to his use of other sources, and partly due to the fact that Josephus (as most ancient historians did) had aims of his own, points that he wanted to make.

    To a considerable extent, moreover, it is due to his desire to present Judaism and Jewish history in a way that would make sense to and be welcomed by cultured non-Jews in the Greco-Roman world. Thus he tends to present biblical figures as Greco-Roman philosophers and statesmen. This was not uncommon in the ancient world, something that historians of Egyptian, Phoenician, and other groups did as well.

    Josephus is not "authoritative" in any spiritual or religious sense, and certainly has his failings as a historian, but he is always worth consulting, taking into account these considerations.

    The handiest online source of information is "The Flavius Josephus Home Page" ( The author of it has a particular theory about the origin of information found about Jesus in Josphus, which may or may not be correct; there are certainly many such theories around. But there is reasonably good information there.

    If you have a good library nearby, you might look for some of these books:
    Flavius Josephus: Interpretation and History, edited by Jack Pastor, Pnina Stern and Menahem Mor (Brill, 2011)
    Josephus in Galilee and Rome: His Vita and Development as a Historian, by Shaye J. D. Cohen (Brill, 1979)
    The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C. - A.D. 135), by Emil Schurer, Geza Vermes, & Fergus Millar (Continuum, 1973) - this is a multivolume standard reference work, and you definitely want this updated version, not Schurer's original 19th-century work; there's a chapter on Josephus in it, but just sitting here I can't recall which volume it's in
    David Rensberger
    Atlanta, Georgia

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by ugotdave View Post
    our Canonized Scriptures?
    Remember, not every church/congregation accepts the same cannon of Scripture. But, rest assured that no group accepts Josephus as Scripture! Josephus however, can be of good antiquarian interest.

    Jewish/Hebrew Bible 24 books
    Samaritan 5 books
    Catholic 73 books
    Western Orthodox 75 books
    Eastern Orthodox 78 books
    High Church Protestant (Anglican) 66 books but some accept 73
    Low Church Protestant (same as the evangelicals) 66 books
    Ethiopian Orthodox Church 46 for the OT and 35 for the NT
    The Church of Later Day Saints 66 books plus the book of Mormon

    Brian K. Mitchell
    חפשו בתורה היטב ואל תסתמכו על דברי

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