Today is Good Friday – Tim Stanley and The Testimony of Flavius Josephus

Tim Stanley is a British historian and writer for The Telegraph newspaper. He is a devout Roman Catholic. On this significant date in the Christian calendar Tim Stanley posted about ‘historical evidence’ for Jesus’s life on Twitter:

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The Testimony of Flavius Josephus

This testimony to Jesus has long puzzled scholars. Why would Josephus. a devout Jew who never became a Christian, profess faith in Jesus by suggesting he was something more than a man, calling him the messiah (rather than merely saying that others thought he was), and claiming that he was raised from the dead in fulfillment of prophecy? 

Many scholars have recognised that the problem can be solved by looking at how, and by whom, Josephus’s writings were transmitted over the centuries. For in fact they were not preserved by Jews, many of whom considered him to be a traitor because of his conduct during and after the war with Rome. Rather, it was Christians who copied Josephus’s writings through the ages. It is possible that this reference to Jesus has been beefed up a bit by a Christian scribe who wanted to make Josephus appear more appreciative of the “true faith”?

If we take out the Christianized portions of the passage, what we are left with, according to one of the most convincing recent studies, is the following:

At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among may Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out. (Meier 191, 61)

The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart Ehrman, page 241. Ehrman is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, USA.

Categories: Christianity, History

5 replies

  1. i never studied anything about this , but just by reading the quote from tim stanley seem like it came straight out of the gospel of matthew lol


  2. so why does the Quaran say that the people of the book claimed they killed the messiah


  3. ‘fake’ – what kind of name is that?


  4. This part is the most important part:

    “And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so.”

    historical confirmation outside of the NT for the crucifixion and death of Jesus, under the orders of Pontius Pilate. So Josephus confirms that.



  5. No, Josephus only confirms there was a widely held belief that Jesus had been crucified. He was not an eyewitness so he could only rely on hearsay testimony.

    Liked by 1 person

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