Category Archives: justus

Josephus’ enemy – Justus

Since the article in Wikipedia on Justus is short, I thought I would just post it here:

Justus of Tiberias was a Jewish author and historian living in the second half of the 1st century CE. Little is known about his life, except as told by his political and literary enemy Josephus Flavius.

Justus was born in Tiberias, a highly Hellenistic Galilean city and was a man of learning. He was close to the Tetrarch Agrippa II and became a leading citizens of his hometown.

During the First Jewish-Roman War (66-73), he ran into conflict with Josephus, the leading Jewish general in Galilee. When the Romans had reconquered Galilee, Justus sought sanctuary with the Tetrach Agrippa. Vespasian, who led the Roman troops, demanded that Justus be put to death, but Agrippa spared him and merely imprisoned him. The tetrarch even appointed Justus as his secretary, but later dismissed him as unreliable.

Justus wrote a history of the war in which he blamed Josephus for the troubles of Galilee. He also portrayed his former master Agrippa in an unfavourable light, but did not publish the work until after Agrippa’s death. Justus also wrote a chronicle of the Jewish people from Moses to Agrippa II. Both his works only survive in fragments.

Flavius Josephus, Justus’ rival, criticized the Tiberian’s account of the war and defended his own conduct in the Autobiography, from whose polemical passages we derive most of what we know about Justus’ life.

Now on to my point:

Justus’ history of the Jews was still extant by the ninth century. Photius (c.810-c.895 CE) the Patriarch of Constantinople read it and recorded, in his still extant Bibliotheca, a summary of its contents. In this he states that “suffering from the common fault of the Jews, to which race he belonged, he (Justus) does not mention the coming of Christ, the events of his life, or the miracles performed by him.” (Bibliotheca, 33). How would Justus, who lived in Galilee, have missed out on recording the ministry of Jesus?

And Photius called this a “common fault of the Jews” who lived at this time. Meaning that it was common for Jews to have not written about the Jesus of Christianity. I take that as another strike against the historicity of the gospel accounts.

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Posted by on October 26, 2009 in jesus myth, josephus, justus, photius

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