The Latin Translations of Josephus on Jesus, John the Baptist, and James: Critical Texts of the Latin Translation of the Antiquities and Rufinus’ Translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Based on Manuscripts and Early Printed Editions

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This article presents the first critical texts of the passages on Jesus, John the Baptist, and James in the Latin translation of Josephus’ Antiquitates Iudaicae and the sections of the Latin Table of Contents for AJ 18 where the references to Jesus and John the Baptist appear. A commentary on these Latin texts is also provided. Since no critical edition of the Latin text of Antiquities 6-20 exists, these are also the first critical texts of any passages from these books. The critical apparatus includes a complete list of variant readings from thirty-seven manuscripts (9th-15th c.e.) and all the printed editions from the 1470 editio princeps to the 1524 Basel edition. Because the passages in the Latin AJ on Jesus and John the Baptist were based on Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica, a new text of these passages in Rufinus is provided that reports more variant readings than are included in Mommsen’s GCS edition. A Greek text for these passages with revised apparatus correcting and expanding the apparatuses in Niese’s editio maior of Josephus and Schwartz’s GCS edition of Eusebius is also provided. In addition to presenting a text and commentary for the passages in the Latin Antiquities and Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius, there is catalogue of collated manuscripts and all the early printed editions through 1524, providing a new scholarly resource for further work on the Latin text of the Antiquities.

The Latin Translations of Josephus on Jesus, John the Baptist, and James: Critical Texts of the Latin Translation of the Antiquities and Rufinus’ Translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Based on Manuscripts and Early Printed Editions

in Journal for the Study of Judaism




See A. Grafton and J. Weinberg“I have always loved the holy tongue”: Isaac Casaubon the Jews and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press2011) 210-13 for a new discussion of the controversy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. For recent scholarship see A.-M. Dubarle “Le témoignage de Josèphe sur Jésus d’après des publications récentes” RB 84 (1977): 38-58; L. H. Feldman “The Testimonium Flavianum: The State of the Question” in Christological Perspectives: Essays in Honor of Harvey K. McArthur (ed. R. F. Berkey and S. A. Edwards; New York: Pilgrim Press 1982) 179-99; Feldman Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1937-1980) (Berlin: de Gruyter 1984) 679-703 957-58; É. Nodet “Jésus et Jean-Baptiste selon Josèphe” RB 92 (1985): 321-48; Feldman “A Selective Critical Bibliography of Josephus” in Josephus The Bible and History (ed. L. H. Feldman and G. Hata; Leiden: Brill 1988) 429-35; J. P. Meier A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (New York: Doubleday 1991) 56-88; H. Schreckenberg “The Testimonium Flavianum” in Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity (ed. H. Schreckenberg and K. Schubert; Assen: Van Gorcum 1992) 38-40; A. Whealey “Josephus on Jesus: Evidence from the First Millennium” TZ 51 (1995): 285-304; K. A. Olson “Eusebius and the Testimonium FlavianumCBQ 61 (1999): 305-22; J. Carleton Paget “Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity” JTS 52 (2001): 539-624; S. Bardet Le Testimonium Flavianum: examen historique considérations historiographiques (2d ed.; Paris: Cerf 2002); A. Whealey Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times (New York: Peter Lang 2003); A. Whealey “Josephus Eusebius of Caesarea and the Testimonium Flavianum” in Josephus und das Neue Testament (ed. Christfried Böttrich and Jens Herzer; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2007) 73-116; Friedrich-Wilhelm Horn “Das Testimonium Flavianum aus neutestamentlicher Perspektive” in ibid. 117-36; C. K. Rothschild “‘Echo of a Whisper’: The Uncertain Authenticity of Josephus’ Witness to John the Baptist” in Ablution Initiation and Baptism: Late Antiquity Early Judaism and Early Christianity (ed. D. Hellholm et al.; Berlin: de Gruyter 2011) 255-90.


E.g. R. EislerThe Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (trans. A. H. Krappe; New York: Dial1931); S. Pines An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and Its Implications (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 1971); A.-M. Dubarle “Le témoignage de Josèphe sur Jésus d’après la tradition indirecte” RB 80 (1973): 481-513; A. Whealey “The Testimonium Flavianum in Syriac and Arabic” NTS 54 (2008): 571-90.


CassiodorusInstitutiones 1.17.1: “. . . as for example Josephus (almost a second Livy) who composed his books of Jewish Antiquities on a large scale. Father Jerome writing to Lucinus Betticus says that he was not able to translate Josephus because of the size of this prolix work. But I have had him translated into Latin in twenty-two books by my friends a task involving great labour on their part since he is subtle and complex. He also wrote seven other marvelously clear books on the Jewish Captivity. Some ascribe the translation of this work to Jerome others to Ambrose still others to Rufinus. The fact that this translation is ascribed to such men declares the special merits of its composition” (trans. Halporn in J. W. Halporn and M. Vessey Cassiodorus. Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning and On the Soul [TTH 42; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 2004] 149). Some fifteenth-century manuscripts most modern editions and many scholars ascribe the Latin translation of the War to Rufinus presumably because Jerome explicity denies translating Josephus’ works and Ambrose is commonly thought to be the author of pseudo-Hegesippus. This is almost certainly not the case as G. Ussani demonstrates in “Studi preparatorii ad una edizione della traduzione latina in sette libri del Bellum IudaicumBollettino del Comitato per la preparazione della Edizione nazionale dei classici greci e latini (nuova serie—fascicolo I; Rome: Academia Nazionale dei Lincei 1945): 85-102. Ussani bases her conclusion on the facts that the work is not mentioned in the catalogue of Rufinus’ translations by Gennadius (De viris illustribus 17) and that there are significant differences in both style and content between the translations of parts of the same two passages of the War in the Latin translation of the War and in Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius’ quotations from Josephus. We have confirmed her results by analyzing a larger sample of the material found both in the Latin translation of the War and in Rufinus. Whealey Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy 34 states simply that Rufinus cannot be the author of the translation of the War because it is different from Rufinus’ translation of the Josephus passages in Eusebius. In fact some fifteenth-century manuscripts of the Antiquities and most early printed editions also ascribe the translation of the Antiquities to Rufinus leading to occasional confusion among modern scholars and library cataloguers. On the question of authorship see Levenson and Martin “Ancient Latin Translations.”


WhealeyJosephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy34-36.


C. BoysenFlavii Iosephi opera ex versione Latina antiqua pars vi: De Iudaeorum uetustate siue contra Apionem libri ii (CSEL 37; Vienna: Tempsky1898); F. Blatt The Latin Josephus I. Introduction and Text. The Antiquities: Books I-V (Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget 1958).


See 4.3 below. See also V. Bulhart“Textkritische Studien zum lateinischen Flavius Josephus,” Mnemosyne 4th ser. 6 (1953): 140-57 who uses the Greek text to emend the Latin of the 1524 Basel edition; Blatt 22-23 who lists a number of places in AJ 1 where the 1524 Basel edition can be corrected from the evidence of the Latin manuscripts; and Levenson and Martin “Ancient Latin Translations.”


Feldman“Selective Critical Bibliography” 335.


U. LieblDie illustrierten Flavius-Josephus-Handschriften des Hochmittelalters (Frankfurt: Peter Lang1997) 101-2.


Date: E. KlemmDie Romanischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. Part 1 (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert1980) no. 283.


H. SchreckenbergBibliographie zu Flavius Josephus (Leiden: Brill1968) 1-7 and Bibliographie zu Flavius Josephus: Supplementband mit Gesamtregister (Leiden: Brill 1979) 163-68.


T. Gerardy“Gallizianimarke, Krone und Turm als Wasserzeichen in grossformatigen Frühdrucken,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 46 (1971): 11–23 at 22; U. Altmann Die Leistungen der Drucker mit Namen Brandis im Rahmen der Buchgeschichte des 15. Jahrhunderts (Diss. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 1975) 31.


Schwartz-MommsenEusebius Werke 2.1:173 and 175. Eusebius’ quotation from Josephus begins with the first sentence of AJ 20.197 (Πέµπει δὲ Καῖσαρ Ἀλβῖνον εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν ἔπαρχον Φήστου τὴν τελευτὴν πυθόµενος) and then skips to AJ 20.199 without an indication that there is intervening material.

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