Josephus and the Jews: The Religion and History of the Jews as Explained by Flavius Josephus

By F. J. Foakes-Jackson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
JOSEPHUS AND THE NEW TESTAMENT

Did ' Luke' borrow from Josephus?' -- It is somewhat rashly assumed that, until the books of Josephus appeared, a Christian writer could have had little or no records of the events of his time, and must have owed his information to the Jewish historian. Consequently it is confidently maintained that the Third Gospel and the Acts must be later than the writings of Josephus; and imaginary scenes have been depicted of Josephus reading his productions at Rome with the Evangelist as an interested auditor.1 But generally Josephus seems to have been, like other historians, original as far as his personal experience went, but otherwise a most industrious compiler and copyist of earlier works. It is not unreasonable to suppose that others had access to the same books as Josephus has employed. The assumption that ' Luke' came after Josephus, whom he used as an authority, may be justifiable on other grounds, but it is legitimately open to question if the view is meant wholly to depend on the necessity of the 'War' and 'Antiquities' being anterior to the Gospels and Acts. The New Testament is singularly reticent as to contemporary history. But for the mention of Herod the Great, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Pontius Pilate, no names of public characters are found in Matthew, Mark or John's Gospels, and very few names of places mentioned by Josephus. In all the Pauline epistles there is no single

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1
See B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels (1925), p. 557. This writer is correct in stating that Luke may have heard Josephus read his works aloud in Rome. But his verdict is: 'I am quite unconvinced that there is dependence of any kind.'

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