« PreviousContinue »
could not be ignorant : he must have known of the massacre of the infants at Bethlehem soon after the birth of Jesus. The arrival of the wise men from the East, who were conducted by a star, gave concern not only to Herod, but to all Jerusalem; Matt
. ii. 8. Josephus was a priest : he could not but have heard of the vision of Zacharias the father of John the Baptist at the temple, Luke i. and it was a thing very proper to have had a place in his History. The prophecies of Simeon and Anna at the temple, and other things that happened there about that time, as we may think, must have been well known to him : then the preaching and miracles of our Saviour and his apostles at Jerusalem, and in Galilee, and all over Judea; the crucifixion of Jesus at Jerusalem at the time of a passover; the darkness for three hours at Jerusalem, and all over Judea; the death of James the brother of John at Jerusalem, by Herod Agrippa : all these things must have been well known to him.
Moreover, before Josephus had finished his work of the Jewish Antiquities, or even the History of the Jewish War, christianity had spread very much in Asia and in other parts, and at Rome itself, where also many had suffered, and that several years before the final ruin of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation. The progress of the christian religion was a very considerable event; and it had its rise in Judea.
The sect of the christians, which had its rise in Judea, and consisted partly of Jews, partly of men of other nations, was as numerous, or more numerous, in the time of Josephus, than any of the three Jewish sects, the sadducees, pharisees, and Essenes, whose principles are particularly described by hin in the c War, and in the Antiquities, and therefore, as we may think, were deserving of notice: but they were not Jewish enough; they were not entirely Jewish: and they were followers of a leader whom our author did not, and could not esteem, consistently with his prevailing views and sentiments.
Josephus was well acquainted with affairs at Rome, and in all the settlements of the Jewish people in Asia, and parts adjacent. He is as exact in the account of the several successions in the Roman empire as any Roman historian whatever. What e a long and particular account has be given of the conspiracy against Caligula, and his death, and the succession of Claudius?
I do not say that Josephus had read the books of the New c De B. J. I. 2. cap. viii.
d Antiq. I. 13. cap. v. et l. 18. cap. 1 Antiq. I. 19. cap. i-iii.
Testament: he might have come to the knowledge of most of the things just mentioned another way: they are great and remarkable events, about which a contemporary, and a man of good intelligence, engaged in public life, could not be ignorant: bis silence therefore about christian affairs is wilful and affected. It cannot be owing to ignorance, and must therefore be ascribed to some other cause, whatever it
His profound silence, however, concerning the affairs of the Christians in his time is no objection to their truth and reality. The history of the New Testament has in it all the marks of credibility that any history can have. Heathen historians f of the best credit bave borne witness to the time of the rise of the christian religion, the country in which it had its origin, and who was the author of it, and its swift and early progress in the world.
Of all those things which are recorded in the gospels and of the progress of christianity afterwards, we have uncontested evidence from the evangelical writers themselves, and from ancient christian authors still extant, and from heathen writers concurring with them in many particulars.
And Josephus, the Jewish historian, who believed not in Jesus, has recorded the history of the Jewish people in Judea, and elsewhere : and particularly the state of things in Judea, with the names of the Jewish princes and Roman governors, during the ministry of our Saviour and his apostles. Whereby, as 8 formerly shown at large, he has wonderfully confirmed, though without intending it, the veracity and the ability of the evangelical writers, and the truth of their history. He has also, as we have now seen in this volume, borne testimony to the fulfilment of our Lord's predictions concerning the coming troubles and afflictions of that people; which is more credible, and more valuable, than if given by a believer in Jesus, and a friend and favourer of him; so that, though all the passages in bis works which have been doubted of should be rejected, be would be still a very useful writer, and his h works very valuable.
quos vulgus christianos appellabat. Auctor hujus nominis Christus, qui, Tiberio imperante, per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat. Repressaque in præsens exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat, non modo per Judæam originem ejus mali, sed per Urbem etiam, &c. Tacit. Ann. 1. 15. cap. 44.
8 See Vol. i. + Evangelicam quoque et apostolicam historiam Josephus confirmat in multis, etiamsi vel maxime ponamus dubitandum esse de yonoiorntu locorum de Christo servatore. lib. xviii. Antiq. cap. 4. de Joanne Baptistâ lib. xviii. cap. 7. de Jacobo. 1. 20. c. 8. et quæ de dirutis propter Jacobi necem injus
Josephus knew how to be silent when he thought fit, and bas omitted some thing's very true and certain, and well known in the world. In the preface to his Jewish Antiquities, he i engages to write of thing's as he found them mentioned in the sacred books, without adding any thing to them, or omitting any thing in them: and k yet he has said nothing of the golden calf, made by the Jewish people in the wilderness; thus dropping an important narrative, with a variety of incidents recorded in one of the books of Moses bimself, the Jewish lawgiver, the most sacred of all their scriptures.
The sin of the molten calf is also mentioned in other books of the Old Testament in the confessions of pious Israelites : as Neh. ix. 18, and Ps. cvi. 19. Nevertheless Josephus chose to observe total silence about it.
A learned critic observed some while ago, as somewhat very remarkable, that' Josephus has never once mentioned the word Sion, or Zion, neither in his Antiquities nor in his Jewish War, though there were so many occasions for it, and though it is so often mentioned in the Old as well as the New Testainent; and he suspects that omission to be owing to design and ill-will to the christian cause.
And, if I was not afraid of offending by too great prolixity, I should now remind my readers of a m long argument of old date, relating to the assessment made in Judea by order of Augustus, at the time of our Saviour's nativity, near the end of Herod's reign, recorded by St. Luke, ch. ii.
tam Hierosolymis-ex iisdem Josephi libris laudant Origenes, 1. contr. Cels. et l. 2. et in Matthæi cap. xiii. Eusebius, l. 2. c. 23. H. E. Hieronymus, Catalogo Script. Ec. cap. 2, et 13. Suidas, Iwontos, et Inoes, hodie vero in Josephi libris non reperiuntur. Fabric. Bib. Gr. 1. 4. cap. vi. T. 3. p. 237, 238.
δια ταυτης ποιησεις της πραγματειας επηγγειλαμην, εδεν προσθεις, 80% av tapa.itwy. Antiq. Pr. sect. 3.
k Eruditionem, diligentiam, prudentiam, fidem, omnes collaudant, præterquam ubi nimio est in suam gentem affectu ; v. gr. in rebus Mosis et Salomonis
-silentium nonnunquam affectatum, ut in iis quæ probro cederent suæ genti. Qualis ex. gr. fuit vituli aurei fabrica, et adoratio, tacita Josepho : ita et in iis quæ faverent christianæ rei, eruditi passim notârunt, et nos subinde in locis suis. F. Spanhem. H. E. T. i. p. 258. Conf. J. Otton. Animadversiones in Joseph. sect. ii. P. 305. Havercamp.
And by all means see Tillemont's remarks upon this Author's Antiquities, Ruine des Juifs, art. 81.
| Sion, Tzion nomen, montem, munimentum, semel iterumque apud Josephum quærens, nullibi inveni, neque iis etiam in locis, ubi expugnationem arcis Tzion expresse tractat; quum tamen centies et millies ipsi occasio data fuerit, ita ut plane sentiam ipsum studio et datâ operâ hoc tam gloriosum pro Novo Testamento nomen pressisse silentio, &c. J. B. Ottii Animadversiones in Joseph. ap. Havercamp. T. 2. p. 305
" See Vol. ii. p. 290--305.
In then quoted a passage from the Antiquities of Joseplius, whence it appears that there were then great disturbances in Herod's family, and there were some pharisees who foretold, or gave out, that God had decreed to put an end to
government of Herod and his race, and transfer the kingdom to another. Josephus here takes great liberties : and though he was himself a pharisee, and at other times speaks honourably of that sect, he now ridicules them. He says • they were men who valued themselves highly for their exact knowledge of the laws; and talking much of their interest with God, were greatly in favour with the women; who had it in their power to control kings; extremely subtle, and ready to attempt any thing against those whom they did not like. But it appears that the king, who was then talked of, and who was to be appointed according to the predictions of the pharisees, was a person of an extraordinary character, for he says that Bagoas, an eunuch in Herod's palace, * was elevated by them with the prospect of being a father and benefactor to his country, by receiving from him a capacity of marriage, and having children of his own.''
All these particulars, though not expressed with such gravity, as is becoming an historian, and is usual in Josephus, cannot but lead us to think that he was not unacquainted with the things related in the second chapter of St. Matthew's gospel. Says the evangelist : “ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is be that is born king of the Jews ? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him. · When Herod the king had heard these things he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." The word rendered “ troubled” is of a middle meaning. How Herod was moved may be easily guessed, and is well known. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were differently moved and agitated, partly with joyful hopes of seeing their Messiah “king of the Jews;" partly filled with apprehensions from Herod's jealousy, and the consequences of it.
It seems to me that Josephus had then before him good evidences that the Messiah was at that time born into the world: but he puts all off with a jest. Perhaps there is not any other place in his works where he is so ludicrous.
n The quotation is as above, p. 292, 293, taken from the Antiquities, l. 17. cap. 2 sect. 4. p. 831. Havercamp.
o P. 292. P Whiston translates : And for Bagoas, he had been puffed up by them; for that this king would have all things in his power, and would enable Bagoas to marry, and to have children of his own body begotten.
We are not therefore to expect that ever after he should take any notice of the Lord Jesus, or things concerning bim, if he can avoid it.
And why should we be much concerned about any defects in this writer's regard for Jesus Christ and his followers : who out of complaisance, or from self-interested views, or from a mistaken judginent, or soine other cause, so deviated from the truth as to ascribe the fulfilment of the Jewish ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah to Vespasian, an idolatrous prince: who was not a Jew by descent nor by religion; who was neither of the church, nor of the seed of Israel?
Josephus was a man of great eminence and distinction
long his people but we do not observe in him a seriousness of spirit becoming a christian, nor that sublimity of virtue which is suited to the principles of the cliristian religion ; nor do we discern in him such qualities as should induce us to think he was one of those who were well disposed, and were “ not far from the kingdom of God :" Mark. xii. 34. He was a priest by descent, and early in the magistracy; then a general, and a courtier ; and in all showing a worldly mind, suited to such stations and employments; insomuch that he appears to be one of those, of whom, and to whom, the best judge of men and things said, “ How can ye believe who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?” Jolin v. 44.
THE MISHNICAL AND TALMUDICAL WRITERS
1. The age and the authors of the Mishna and the Talmuds.
II. Extracts from the Mishna, with remarks. III. Extracts from ihe Talmuds. 1. Of our Saviour's nativity. 2. His journey into Egypt. 3. His disciples. 4. James in particular. 5. His last sufferings. 6. The power of miracles in Jesus and his disciples. 7. A testimony to the destruction of the temple by Vespasian and Titus, with remarks,
1. THE word Talmud is used in different senses; sometimes it denotes the Mishna, which is the text; at other times it is