Jason Engwer is attempting to show that my attitude toward Josephus is inconsistent with my attitude toward the NT. He's written three posts since my last one. The first one I reply to in the comment section here. In this post I'll respond to his second and third posts.
I think rather than showing I'm inconsistent in my treatment of Josephus, what Jason's arguments do (when they are coherent) is actually show that he should apply the lessons he learns from Josephus to the NT. He is the one that is making exceptions. I summarize and respond to his arguments below.
1-Josephus used assistants, and in some of the books the composition is practically handed over to these assistants entirely.
What would I make of these things, Jason asks? Apparently I've "ignored" the potential use of assistants for the NT. I seriously wonder why Jason finds this to be of any significance at all. What is he making of this?
First of all, I have no problem with Josephus using assistants. Jason has asserted that some NT authors used an amanuensis. He does this in an effort to explain the discrepancies in vocabulary. So how does this work, Jason? If I were to concede that Josephus used an assistant I must therefore permit you to invoke an amanuensis whenever you feel the need to get yourself out of a tight spot?
Heck, I guess anybody can now invoke an amanuensis excuse whenever they want to because after all, Josephus used an assistant. It was common at the time. If you go to court and you dispute a will and you prove that the text involves different authors due to the stylistic differences in the vocabulary, the defendant now has an easy answer. An assistant to the deceased must have done it, not me. After all, Josephus used an assistant, so now I'm free to invoke it whenever I find myself in a tight spot. Explain to me the logical principles you use to come up with these rules.
2-Certain scholars regard Josephus as "an incurable liar" and otherwise question his integrity. Where does Jon stand on this issue?
I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I've already mentioned his biases. I'm well aware that he offers an inaccurate pro-Roman spin. Are you suggesting I think Josephus is inerrant or something? I'm pretty much in full agreement with the scholar you cite (J.J. Scott). We have reason to trust Josephus on other matters, but he does have faults that lead him to make erroneous claims. What is the problem here?
3-Josephus writes controversial comments about the nature of the Canon of Jewish Scripture. Many scholars think the Canon wasn't as settled as Josephus claims. Shouldn't this imply forgery by Jon's standards?
Once again, I'm lost. If Josephus is mistaken about the Canon, how does this imply forgery? Jason parallels this case to arguments about Paul in I Cor 15 and Galatians 1. In Galatians "Paul" tells us that he didn't get the gospel from men, but got it directly by revelation. In I Cor 15 Paul says he got the gospel from the Jerusalem apostles, not by revelation. I say this would suggest we're dealing with different authors. How is a mistake from Josephus analogous to the contradiction in Paul?
I'll give you an example of a similar contradiction from Josephus. The famous Testimoniam Flavianum has that Josephus believes Jesus is the Messiah. Elsewhere Josephus says that Vespasian is the Messiah. I don't think he could have written both. One of the claims from Josephus must be spurious. I'm treating both texts in a consistent way. Jason on the other hand will imagine some "how it could have been" scenarios to reconcile Paul with Paul. He probably doesn't do this with Josephus and recognizes at a minimum that the TF is partially spurious. Why the double standard? Why not imagine a "how it could have been" scenario for the TF?
4-Jon lauds Josephus because in an introduction Josephus concedes his own biases. Eusebius similarly recognizes his own deficiencies in composing his own history. Yet Jon has a negative view of Eusebius. What's the story?
Actually, I see Eusebius and Josephus as similar in this regard. Both should be treated with skepticism when we are dealing with issues where they would be expected to have biases. It's possible that Eusebius himself composed the TF. It doesn't exist in writings prior to him. But we would expect that Eusebius would love to see Josephus assert that Jesus is the Messiah. We would expect that Eusebius is embarrassed at the total lack of mention of Jesus from historians that existed at the time of Jesus. So we might suspect that he could concoct such things. This is not to say that everything Eusebius writes is false.
Jason in some cases recognizes this same point. In this thread he responds to my charge that Eusebius claims Papias is a man of small intellect by dismissing Eusebius due to his biases against premillenialism. That could very well be. Papias espoused premillenialism, and we might expect that Eusebius would concoct claims that help him rebut it. I'm not suggesting we treat Josephus any differently.
5-Paul Maier similarly recognizes deficiencies in Josephus.
Once again, so what? I have no problem with your quote from Maier. If you want to be consistent then, would you similarly tell us about the deficiencies and inaccuracies contained in the NT?
The overall lesson here is a good one. Be skeptical when reading an ancient author when he is discussing subjects where you might expect him to have a bias. What do we do with Irenaeus when he tells us Jesus lived to the age of 50 and we know he wants this to be true to combat so called heretics? What should we think when he similarly tells us that the apostle John wrote the 4th gospel? We know he wants to give the text apostolic authority. Shouldn't we approach such claims cautiously? I think so. Jason doesn't. He just takes it at face value. He wants that one to be true, but doesn't want the claim of Jesus living to the age of 50 to be true. So he accepts the former and rejects the latter. Is this a consistent methodology?
Take a look at the gospels. "(B)ut these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." Jn 20:31. If you want to be consistent and treat the NT like we treat Josephus, how would we view the gospel of John? Don't the other gospels betray the same mindset? They most certainly do. They also betray an effort to portray Jesus in a certain light. How does Jason view these texts? Does he apply the same reasoning Maier and Scott do to Josephus? I do.
Jason is staying up to all hours of the night pounding away at the keyboard trying to show that I treat Josephus differently than I treat the NT. But as we look through his arguments it seems I'm the one treating them the same and Jason is the one making the exceptions.