Josephus and New Testament Studies

Josephus is an essential source for our understanding of the world of Jesus. There are a number of important events and figures that we would know little to nothing about apart from his writings.

While it might not be necessary to sit and read through the entire Antiquities, students of the New Testament simply must be familiar with Josephus and recognize where we have significant information and parallels for the New Testament. Readers always ought to bear in mind that Josephus wrote with his own agenda and bias which needs to carefully scrutinized. The sections below will highlight some of the important passages, some essential works on Josephus, and some fantastic web resources for the study of Josephus.

 

Josephus Parallels, Similarities, or Points of contact with the New Testament

I am shamelessly pulling this list from the Josephus.org page:

  1. King Herod: Luke 1:5 and Matt 2:1 // Ant. 17.7.1 191 and War 1.31.8 665
  2. The Slaughter of the Innocents: Matt 2:2-16 // Ant. 17.2.4 43
  3. Archelaus: Matt 2:22 // Ant. 17.8.1 188
  4. The Census of Quirinius: Luke 2:1 // Ant. 18.1.1 1 
  5. Jesus at Twelve: Luke 2:42 // Life 1.2 8
  6. The Fifteenth Year of Tiberius: Luke 3:1 // Ant. 17.11.4 318, 18.2.2 35, 20.7.1 137; War 2.6.3 94
  7. John the Baptist: Mark 6:17-29; Matt 14:1-12; Luke 3:3, 3:19 // Ant. 18.5.2,  18.5.3 136. See more on the Josephus page dedicated to this.
  8. Pharisees: Matt 23:1, Luke 14:1-14 // Ant. 13.171-173, 18.1.2-3 11-13; War 2.8.14 162-166
  9. Sadducees: Matt 22:23, Mark 12:18, Luke 20:27, Acts 5:17, 23:8// Ant. 18.2.4 16-17, War 2.8.14 162-166
  10. All Things in Common: The Essenes: Matt 10:5-14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5, Acts 2:45 // Ant.18.2.5 18-22, War 2.7.4 119-127
  11. Samaritans: Luke 9:51 // Ant. 20.6.1 118, War 2.12.3-4 232-235
  12. Insurrection in the City under Pilate: Mark 15:7, 27; Luke 13:1, 23:18, 23:32; Matt 27:38 // Ant. 18.3.2 60-62, War 2.9.4 175-177
  13. Render to Caesar: Matt 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:19-26 // War 2.8.1 118, Ant. 18.1.1 3
  14. JesusAnt. 18.3.3 63-64 (for more on the testimonium flavium see the Josephus page on it.
  15. James the Brother of Jesus: Mark 6:3, Matt 13:55, Gal 1:19, Acts 15:5-21 // Ant. 20. 9.1 199-203 
  16. Theudas, and Judas the Galilean: Acts 5:33-39 // Ant. 20.5.1 97-99, 20.5.2 102
  17. The Famine under Claudius: Acts 11:27-28 // Ant. 20.2.5 49-53, 20.5.2 101
  18. The Death of Herod Agrippa I: Acts 12:20 // Ant. 19.8.2 343-361 
  19. Expulsion of the Jews from Rome: Acts 18:1-2 // Ant. 18.3.5 81-84
  20. The Egyptian: Acts 21:37-38 // Ant. 20.8.5 169-172, War 2.13.5 261
  21. Ananias the High Priest: Acts 23:2, 24:1 // Ant. 20.5.2 103
  22. Felix the Procurator, and his wife Drusilla: Acts 24:24 // Ant. 20.7.1 137-144
  23. Festus the Procurator: Acts 24:27-25:2 // Antiquities 20.8.9-10 182-186
  24. Agrippa II and Berenice: Acts 25:13, 26:27-28 // Ant.20.7.3 145
  25. The Widow's Mite and Sacrifices: Mark 12:32-34, 41-44; Luke 21:2-4 // Ant. 6.7.4 147-149
  26. The Circumcision Requirement for Converts: Acts 15:1-20 // Ant. 20.2.3-4 34-48
  27. Living as a Pharisee: Acts 26:4-5 // Life 12
  28. Inner Temple Forbidden to Foreigners: Acts 21:26 // Ant. 15.11.5 417; War 5.5.2 193-94, War 6.2.4 124-26

 

A Few Important Books for the Study of Josephus

Steve Mason is the scholar I rely most on for Josephus. His book Josephus and the New Testament is excellent. The more important book project that Steve Mason is editing is the new translation and commentary on Josephus. You can see the current list of published books in this series on the Brill page. A number of these volumes are available on Logos, yay!

Important Web Resources for Josephus

The Josephus page that has already been referenced is a great website for Josephus. However, by far the best web resource for Josephus is the work of, again, Steve Mason. The Project of Ancient Cultural Engagement is a website that every NT scholar should have bookmarked. Not only does it have a good bibliography, but it has the Greek text aligned with an English translation (including the Brill translation for some books!!). In addition to being able to access the Greek text and translation, there are textual notes, commentary notes, and bibliography related to the different sections. This is still an expanding project, but is already a very impressive site, and we are indebted to Steve Mason for his lifetime of work on Josephus.

 

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments?

Posted by Danny Zacharias.
Posted on September 15, 2015 and filed under Biblical Studies.