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‘Mary Baker Eddy Mentioned Them’: Flavius Josephus

From the January 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

This article is an adapted transcript from the Journal podcast series, “Mary Baker Eddy Mentioned Them.”

Flavius Josephus was a Jewish scholar, historian, and soldier who came on the scene shortly after the completion of Christ Jesus’ ministry. He wrote several major works in that first century of the Christian Era, and these works are considered to be important accounts of the history of Judaism and Christianity. Included in his multi-volume work called The Antiquities of the Jews are independent narratives regarding James, the brother of Jesus; the beheading of John the Baptist; and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Josephus’ account of Jesus is the earliest account outside the Gospels—that is, the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible. Because some of the statements about Jesus would have been unusual for a Jew such as Josephus to record, its authenticity has been greatly debated.

Josephus was a military commander during the Great Revolt of the Jews against Roman rule and was captured by the Romans in the year 67 ad when the city he was defending fell to the Roman general Vespasian. In an effort to save his own life, Josephus claimed he was a prophet and persuaded Vespasian that ancient prophecies of a world ruler arising from Judaea were referring to the general himself. 

When Vespasian did eventually rise to the rank of world leader, Josephus was freed and adopted into Vespasian’s family, the Flavians. He was ultimately appointed to record the history of the Jewish Revolt for the Romans. The conflict culminated in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 ad, for which Josephus gave a firsthand account of the destruction of the city and its Temple.

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