Josephus in the Ante-Nicene Fathers: all the citations

The Testimonium Flavianum is really something I do not have time to write much about.  However there seem to be arguments being made about it's authenticity based upon absence of evidence.  I expressed my doubts about this approach in a newsgroup, and the following reply was made.  I quote it, as the idea seems to be in common circulation:
> However, there are instances where absence of evidence _is_ fairly strong evidence.
> In my opinion, the case of the Testimonium Flavium is one of those. As I understand it,
> we have fairly good evidence that church patriarchs from the 2nd to the mid-4th century
> knew Josephus well and used him extensively in their dialogues with non-Christian and
> heretical critics. Yet, not a one mentions the glowing report (or any possible positive
> expurgated version thereof) contained in the TF, until Eusebius. The silence is deafening and damning.

But is this true?  I can't see why the  Fathers would normally quote Josephus.  So I investigated.  

This page is the product of a search for the word 'Josephus' in the Ante-Nicene Fathers at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2.  Results from footnotes or Nicene/Post-Nicene Fathers have been ignored, as the latter will know Eusebius, of course.  After this I read Michael E. HARDWICK, Josephus as a historical source in Patristic literature through Eusebius, Brown Judaic Studies 128, Scholars Press, Georgia (1989).  This covers the same ground, but also looks for possible unattributed references.  Finally the references are discussed by Alice WHEALEY, Josephus on Jesus. Studies in Biblical Literature 36. New York: Peter Lang (2003).

Eusebius says Antiquities was available in Roman libraries. (HE 3.9). Porphyry is only pagan writer to quote Josephus, and does so from the Jewish War (Whealey, p.11) Porphyry does name Antiquities in De Abstinentia 4:11, but it is unclear if he read any of it.  The only papyrus of Josephus is a fragment of the Jewish War.

There are 16 results of which 3 are not relevant:

NB: Two further possible parallels are identified by Hardwick, but will be ignored here as too uncertain.

This leaves 13 results.  9 of these are as follows, with the work of Josephus cited.

In these 10 citations, there seems to be no reason why the Testimonium would be cited; it is foreign to the purpose of the works in question.

The remaining 4 citations are all from Origen.

These indicate that he knew a text of Antiquities in which Josephus referred to Christ, but one somewhat different from that given by Eusebius.

On the basis of the data, the argument from absence seems very shaky indeed.  There is little use of Antiquities at all.


Contents

  1. anf01-64.htm:  Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus: XXXII.53
  2. anf02-43.htm: Theophilus to Autolycus:Book III:Chapter XXIII.-Prophets More Ancient Than Greek Writers.
  3. anf02-57.htm:Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book I, chapter XXI.

  4. anf03-05.htm: Tertullian:Apologeticum:Chapter XIX.
  5. anf06-50.htm:Book III.-The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus:Chapter XVII.38:On the Fortunes of Hyrcanus and Antigonus, and on Herod, Augustus, Antony, and Cleopatra, in Abstract.
  6. anf04-55.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, chapter 16
  7. anf04-55.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter 47
  8. anf04-58.htm: Origen, Against Celsus, Book IV, Chapter 11
  9. anf10-46.htm: Origen:Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, Book X:Chapter 17. The Brethren of Jesus.
  10. anf05-17.htm: The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus: Part I.-Exegetical. Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture.On Jeremiah and Ezekiel.145
  11. anf06-57.htm: The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria:Chapter 3.
  12. anf06-122.htm: Methodius, Book II, Chapter 18.


anf01-64.htm:  Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus: XXXII.53

Josephus says, that when Moses had been brought up in the royal palaces, he was chosen as general against the Ethiopians; and having proved victorious, obtained in marriage the daughter of that king, since indeed, out of her affection for him, she delivered the city up to him.

anf02-43.htm:Theophilus to Autolycus:Book III:Chapter XXIII.-Prophets More Ancient Than Greek Writers.

So then let what has been said suffice for the testimony of the Phoenicians and Egyptians, and for the account of our chronology given by the writers Manetho the Egyptian, and Menander the Ephesian, and also Josephus, who wrote the Jewish war, which they waged with the Romans. For from these very old records it is proved that the writings of the rest are more recent than the writings given to us through Moses, yes, and than the subsequent prophets. For the last of the prophets, who was called Zechariah, was contemporary with the reign of Darius. But even the lawgivers themselves are all found to have legislated subsequently to that period. For if one were to mention Solon the Athenian, he lived in the days of the kings Cyrus and Darius, in the time of the prophet Zechariah first mentioned, who was by many years the last of the prophets. Or if you mention the lawgivers Lycurgus, or Draco, or Minos, Josephus tells us in his writings that the sacred books take precedence of them in antiquity, since even before the reign of Jupiter over the Cretans, and before the Trojan war, the writings of the divine law which has been given to us through Moses were in existence. And that we may give a more accurate exhibition of eras and dates, we will, God helping us, now give an account not only of the dates after the deluge, but also of those before it, so as to reckon the whole number of all the years, as far as possible; tracing up to the very beginning of the creation of the world, which Moses the servant of God recorded through the Holy Spirit. For having first spoken of what concerned the creation and genesis of the world, and of the first man, and all that happened after in the order of events, he signified also the years that elapsed before the deluge. And I pray for favour from the only God, that I may accurately speak the whole truth according to His will, that you and every one who reads this work may be guided by His truth and favour. I will then begin first with the recorded genealogies, and I begin my narration with the first man.

anf02-57.htm:Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Book I, chapter XXI.

On the plagiarizing of the dogmas of the philosophers from the Hebrews, we shall treat a little afterwards. But first, as due order demands, we must now speak of the epoch of Moses, by which the philosophy of the Hebrews will be demonstrated beyond all contradiction to be the most ancient of all wisdom. This has been discussed with accuracy by Tatian in his book To the Greeks, and by Cassian in the first book of his Exegetics. Nevertheless our commentary demands that we too should run over what has been said on the point. Apion, then, the grammarian, surnamed Pleistonices, in the fourth book of The Egyptian Histories, although of so hostile a disposition towards the Hebrews, being by race an Egyptian, as to compose a work against the Jews, when referring to Amosis king of the Egyptians, and his exploits, adduces, as a witness, Ptolemy of Mendes. 

[...many pages of quotes on dates...]

Flavius Josephus the Jew, who composed the history of the Jews, computing the periods, says that from Moses to David were five hundred and eighty-five years; from David to the second year of Vespasian, a thousand one hundred and seventy-nine; then from that to the tenth year of Antoninus, seventy-seven. So that from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus there are, in all, two thousand one hundred and thirty-three years.

Of others, counting from Inachus and Moses to the death of Commodus, some say there were three thousand one hundred and forty-two years; and others, two thousand eight hundred and thirty-one years.

anf03-05.htm:Tertullian:Apologeticum:Chapter XIX.

Their high antiquity, first of all, claims authority for these writings. With you, too, it is a kind of religion to demand belief on this very ground. Well, all the substances, all the materials, the origins, classes, contents of your most ancient writings, even most nations and cities illustrious in the records of the past and noted for their antiquity in books of annals,-the very forms of your letters, those revealers and custodiers of events, nay (I think I speak still within the mark), your very gods themselves, your very temples and oracles, and sacred rites, are less ancient than the work of a single prophet, in whom you have the thesaurus of the entire Jewish religion, and therefore too of ours. If you happen to have heard of a certain Moses, I speak first of him: he is as far back as the Argive Inachus; by nearly four hundred years----only seven less----he precedes Danaus, your most ancient name; while he antedates by a millennium the death of Priam. I might affirm, too, that he is five hundred years earlier than Homer, and have supporters of that view. The other prophets also, though of later date, are, even the most recent of them, as far back as the first of your philosophers, and legislators, and historians. It is not so much the difficulty of the subject, as its vastness, that stands in the way of a statement of the grounds on which these statements rest; the matter is not so arduous as it would be tedious. It would require the anxious study of many books, and the fingers busy reckoning. The histories of the most ancient nations, such as the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Phoenicians, would need to be ransacked; the men of these various nations who have information to give, would have to be called in as witnesses. Manetho the Egyptian, and Berosus the Chaldean, and Hieromus the Phoenician king of Tyre; their successors too, Ptolemy the Mendesian, and Demetrius Phalereus, and King Juba, and Apion, and Thallus, and their critic the Jew Josephus, the native vindicator of the ancient history of his people, who either authenticates or refutes the others. Also the Greek censors' lists must be compared, and the dates of events ascertained, that the chronological connections may be opened up, and thus the reckonings of the various annals be made to give forth light. We must go abroad into the histories and literature of all nations. And, in fact, we have already brought the proof in part before you, in giving those hints as to how it is to be effected. But it seems better to delay the full discussion of this, lest in our haste we do not sufficiently carry it out, or lest in its thorough handling we make too lengthened a digression.

anf04-34.htm:Minucius Felix, chapter 33.

"Neither let us flatter ourselves concerning our multitude. We seem many to ourselves, but to God we are very few. We distinguish peoples and nations; to God this whole world is one family. Kings only know all the matters of their kingdom by the ministrations of their servants: God has no need of information. We not only live in His eyes, but also in His bosom. But it is objected that it availed the Jews nothing that they themselves worshipped the one God with altars and temples, with the greatest superstition. You are guilty of ignorance if you are recalling later events while you are forgetful or unconscious of former ones. For they themselves also, as long as they worshipped our God-and He is the same God of all-with chastity, innocency, and religion, as long as they obeyed His wholesome precepts, from a few became innumerable, from poor became rich, from being servants became kings; a few overwhelmed many; unarmed men overwhelmed armed ones as they fled from them, following them up by God's command, and with the elements striving on their behalf. Carefully read over their Scriptures, or if you are better pleased with the Roman writings, inquire concerning the Jews in the books (to say nothing of ancient documents) of Flavius Josephus or Antoninus Julianus, and you shall know that by their wickedness they deserved this fortune, and that nothing happened which had not before been predicted to them, if they should persevere in their obstinacy. Therefore you will understand that they forsook before they were forsaken, and that they were not, as you impiously say, taken captive with their God, but they were given up by God as deserters from His discipline.

anf06-50.htm:Book III.-The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus: Chapter XVII.38

At that time also, Josephus, Herod's brother, died in his command. And Herod coming to Antony ...

anf04-55.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, chapter 16

I must express my surprise that Celsus should class the Odrysians, and Samothracians, and Eleusinians, and Hyperboreans among the most ancient and learned nations, and should not deem the Jews worthy of a place among such, either for their learning or their antiquity, although there are many treatises in circulation among the Egyptians, and Phoenicians, and Greeks, which testify to their existence as an ancient people, but which I have considered it unnecessary to quote. For any one who chooses may read what Flavius Josephus has recorded in his two books, On the Antiquity of the Jews, where he brings together a great collection of writers, who bear witness to the antiquity of the Jewish people; and there exists the Discourse to the Greeks of Tatian the younger, in which with very great learning he enumerates those historians who have treated of the antiquity of the Jewish nation and of Moses. It seems, then, to be not from a love of truth, but from a spirit of hatred, that Celsus makes these statements, his object being to asperse the origin of Christianity, which is connected with Judaism. Nay, he styles the Galactophagi of Homer, and the Druids of the Gauls, and the Getae, most learned and ancient tribes, on account of the resemblance between their traditions and those of the Jews, although I know not whether any of their histories survive; but the Hebrews alone, as far as in him lies, he deprives of the honour both of antiquity and learning. And again, when making a list of ancient and learned men who have conferred benefits upon their contemporaries (by their deeds), and upon posterity by their writings, he excluded Moses from the number; while of Linus, to whom Celsus assigns a foremost place in his list, there exists neither laws nor discourses which produced a change for the better among any tribes; whereas a whole nation, dispersed throughout the entire world, obey the laws of Moses. Consider, then, whether it is not from open malevolence that he has expelled Moses from his catalogue of learned men, while asserting that Linus, and Musaeus, and Orpheus, and Pherecydes, and the Persian Zoroaster, and Pythagoras, discussed these topics, and that their opinions were deposited in books, and have thus been preserved down to the present time. And it is intentionally also that he has omitted to take notice of the myth, embellished chiefly by Orpheus, in which the gods are described as affected by human weaknesses and passions.

anf04-55.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter 47

I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine. If, then, he says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ, of whose divinity so many Churches are witnesses, composed of those who have been convened from a flood of sins, and who have joined themselves to the Creator, and who refer all their actions to His good pleasure.

anf04-58.htm:Origen, Against Celsus, Book IV, Chapter 11

After this, being desirous to show that it is nothing either wonderful or new which we state regarding floods or conflagrations, but that, from misunderstanding the accounts of these things which are current among Greeks or barbarous nations, we have accorded our belief to our own Scriptures when treating of them, he writes as follows: "The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer." Now in answer to this we say, that I do not understand how Celsus, who has read a great deal, and who shows that he has perused many histories, had not his attention arrested by the antiquity of Moses, who is related by certain Greek historians to have lived about the time of Inachus the son of Phoroneus, and is acknowledged by the Egyptians to be a man of great antiquity, as well as by those who have studied the history of the Phoenicians. And any one who likes may peruse the two books of Flavius Josephus on the antiquities of the Jews, in order that he may see in what way Moses was more ancient than those who asserted that floods and conflagrations take place in the world after long intervals of time; which statement Celsus alleges the Jews and Christians to have misunderstood, and, not comprehending what was said about a conflagration, to have declared that "God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer."

anf10-46.htm:Origen:Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, Book X:Chapter 17. The Brethren of Jesus.

And the saying, "Whence hath this man this wisdom, " indicates clearly that there was a great and surpassing wisdom in the words of Jesus worthy of the saying, lo, a greater than Solomon is here." And He was wont to do greater miracles than those wrought through Elijah and Elisha, and at a still earlier date through Moses and Joshua the son of Nun. And they spoke, wondering, (not knowing that He was the son of a virgin, or not believing it even if it was told to them, but supposing that He was the son of Joseph the carpenter, ) "is not this the carpenter's son? " And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, "Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? " They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or "The Book of James," that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee," might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, "But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James. And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said in the preface, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James." With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, "And His sisters are they not all with us." seems to me to signify something of this nature-they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has. And perhaps by these things is indicated a new doubt concerning Him, that Jesus was not a man but something diviner, inasmuch as He was, as they supposed, the son of Joseph and Mary, and the brother of four, and of the others-the women-as well, and yet had nothing like to any one of His kindred, and had not from education and teaching come to such a height of wisdom and power. For they also say elsewhere, "How knoweth this man letters having never learned? " which is similar to what is here said. Only, though they say these things and are so perplexed and astonished, they did not believe, but were offended in Him; as if they had been mastered in the eyes of their mind by the powers which, in the time of the passion, He was about to lead in triumph on the cross.

anf05-17.htm: The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus: Part I.-Exegetical. Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture.On Jeremiah and Ezekiel.145

What were the dimensions, then, of the temple of Solomon? Its length was sixty cubits, and its breadth twenty. And it was not turned to the east, that the worshippers might not worship the rising sun, but the Lord of the sun. And let no one marvel if, when the Scripture gives the length at forty cubits, I have said sixty. For a little after it mentions the other twenty, in describing the holy of holies, which it also names Dabir. Thus the holy place was forty cubits, and the holy of holies other twenty. And Josephus says that the temple had two storeys, and that the whole height was one hundred and twenty cubits. For so also the book of Chronicles indicates, saying, "And Solomon began to build the house of God. In length its first measure was sixty cubits, and its breadth twenty cubits, and its height one hundred and twenty; and he overlaid it within with pure gold."

anf06-57.htm:The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria:Chapter 3.

Nor is this an opinion confined to ourselves alone. For it was also known to the Jews of old and before Christ, and it was most carefully observed by them. And this may be learned from what Philo, and Josephus, and Musaeus have written; and not only from these, but indeed from others still more ancient, namely, the two Agathobuli, who were surnamed the Masters, and the eminent Aristobulus, who was one of the Seventy who translated the sacred and holy Scriptures of the Hebrews for Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings. These writers, in solving some questions which are raised with respect to Exodus, say that all alike ought to sacrifice the Passover after the vernal equinox in the middle of the first month. And that is found to be when the sun passes through the first segment of the solar, or, as some among them have named it, the zodiacal circle.

anf06-122.htm: Methodius, On the Resurrection, Book II, Chapter 18. (Lost: quote is from Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 234.)

XVIII. And, when Origen allegorises that which is said by the prophet Ezekiel concerning the resurrection of the dead, and perverts it to the return of the Israelites from their captivity in Babylon, the saint in refuting him, after many other remarks, says this also: For neither did they obtain a perfect liberty, nor did they overcome their enemies by a greater power, and dwell again in Jerusalem; and when they frequently intended to build (the temple), they were prevented by other nations. Whence, also, they were scarce able to build that in forty-six years, which Solomon completed from the foundations in seven years. But what need we say on this subject? For from the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and those who after him reigned over Babylon, until the time of the Persian expedition against the Assyrians, and the empire of Alexander, and the war which was stirred up by the Romans against the Jews, Jerusalem was six times overthrown by its enemies. And this is recorded by Josephus, who says: "Jerusalem was taken in the second year of the reign of Vespasian. It had been taken before five times; but now for the second time it was destroyed. For Asochaeus, king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, next Pompey, and after these Sosius, with Herod, took the city and burnt it; but before these, the king of Babylon conquered and destroyed it."

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Updated 9th June 2000.
Last updated 6th October 2001, from Hardwick.

This page has been accessed by  ****** people since 6th October 2001.

Return to Roger Pearse's Pages