The study of the texts of Josephus, even in connection to the ‘hotly contested’ and famous passages found there, is not all wrangling. There is, it will be admitted, a slight amount of mystery as to whether a reference to Jesus originally formed part of the Latin table of contents (falling out of transmission here and there), or whether it came later and proliferated to most (but not all) of the Latin manuscripts. Aside from that, however, there is very little to tussle over here, with some interesting things to observe in the development of the textual witnesses, particularly in connection to the parts where John is mentioned.
This post would be completely impossible without the diligent and much-appreciated efforts of David B. Levenson and Thomas R. Martin, authors of “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” (Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume 45 , Issue 1, pages 1 – 79). Their work here is invaluable, as they have presented a critical edition of these passages (and related matter), in the Latin version, for the first time.
Disclaimer: The English translations are partly based on the Loeb edition, but any errors are my own.
Jesus Christ in the Latin Table of Contents
Many of us (including me) have been missing out on knowing, in the first place, that Jesus can be found in the Latin table of contents to the Antiquities (although not in all the manuscripts). As Levenson and Martin point out (p. 51):
Niese’s apparatus is misleading and inadequate in several respects. As is generally the case, he cites only “Lat” without noting any of the significant number of variants in the order of entries, wording, and general content found in this section of the Table of Contents for LAJ. Of greatest significance, he fails to report the appearance of the reference to Jesus in the Table of Contents in any Latin manuscript.
Just for a bit of context here, the Latin version of the Antiquities has much better manuscript attestation than the original Greek, and it exists in dozens of copies (over a hundred in all). The exceptions to the rule here are only four in number, as they inform us (p. 51):
It should be noted that of all the manuscripts and printed editions we have seen, only four, S, f, Pa, and Arn, omit the reference to Jesus in the Table of Contents. S and f are closely related (f might be a copy of S), and Arn is a copy of Werd, which does have the reference. The appearance of the reference in all other manuscripts suggests that it was the Latin translators who introduced the reference to Jesus in the Table of Contents with the conjunction et (et de ihesu christ; see the apparatus for variants), just as they probably added et de baptista iohanne, which is found, with minor variants, in all the manuscripts we have seen except Arn [which leaves a space in both places, where the John and Jesus mentions would have been].
Where the Greek manuscripts read this (p. 51):
ὡς Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος ἠθέλησε κρύφα εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰσενέγκαι προτομὰς Καίσαρος, γνοὺς δὲ ὁ λαὸς ἐστασίασε πρὸς αὐτὸν ἄχρι ἐξεκόμοσεν αὐτας ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων εἰς Kαισάρειαν.
How Pontius Pilate sought secretly to introduce busts of Caesar into Jerusalem, and how the people rose up against him and refused to permit it.
The Latin manuscripts generally read this (p. 52):
Qualiter Pontius uoluit latenter intromittere in Hierosolimam statuas Caesaris cognoscens autem populus seditionem aduersus illum commouit donec illas ab Hierosolimis in Caesaream transmitteret. et de Ihesu Christo.
How Pontius Pilate sought secretly to introduce busts of Caesar into Jerusalem, and how the people, having learnt of it, rose up against him until he withdrew them from Jerusalem to Caesarea. And concerning Jesus Christ.
These manuscript variations are noted for the words “and concerning Jesus Christ” here (p. 52):
et de Ihesu Christo] omitted by Arn (with blank space where these words might have gone) f Pa S; et de domino ihesu christo D d El Ha n p U (iesu) Werd; et commemoratio ihu x(pist)i s; et comemorat ihu xpi Co; de ihu xpo filio dei Sa; de ihesu xpo aug; de iesu christo ven 1511par; et de domino nostro ihu xpo Cor Cp; de domino ihesu christo na1475.
Let’s just get the wrangling out of the way, then. The argument that could be made for a later interpolation here would be threefold. The first argument would be that S happens to be the oldest extant Latin manuscript here, while Pa shows that the omission was not confined to S. This is easily flipped on its head, of course, as the manuscript attestation for the other reading is stronger, starting from manuscripts in the very same ninth century as S. The second argument would be that it is somewhat difficult to come up with a very likely explanation for a reference to Jesus Christ here falling out of the manuscripts, even only once, while it is much easier to see how it could have been added to the text, even added to the text more than once. The third argument is that there is a sufficient amount of manuscript variation in the reference here to maintain that this is likely to be what happened and that the reference was introduced to the manuscripts not just once but more than once, in different forms. These, then, are the arguments, and the reader may judge their cogency. (They could be overturned with a decent explanation as to the reason for the omission.)
Levenson and Martin themselves conclude that, “Since all but four AJ manuscripts also have a reference to Jesus in the Table of Contents, it is likely that this too was added by the translators.” (p. 60)
John the Baptist in the Latin Table of Contents
The story of the Latin table of contents with its references to John the Baptist, while it has some twists and turns, is relatively secure in its outline. The original Latin table of contents agrees with the wording of the manuscripts A M W and with the order of the manuscript A and the editio princeps, P. From there, there is some independent development in the Latin textual tradition. But it seems completely clear both what the original form was and that the reference to John stood there.
As Levenson and Martin comment in this regard, “All manuscripts of the Table of Contents for the Latin Antiquities have a reference to John the Baptist not found in the Greek text (except Arn, which depends on a manuscript that does have the reference), indicating that this was added by the Latin translators, as Niese’s apparatus suggests.” (p. 60)
They note the order of the text in this part of the Antiquities of Josephus, as follows (p. 53):
A. “Tiberius writes to Vitellius to persuade Artabanus to send hostages.”
B. “Death of Philip the Tetrach and the conversion of the tetrarchy into an eparchy.”
C. “War of Herod against Aretas in which Herod is defeated, but survives.”
D. “Tiberius writes to Vitellius to make war on Aretas.”
E. “Death of John the Baptist.”
Here is the table of contents, which is out of order, in A and in P, the editio princeps:
C) πόλεμος Ἡρώδου [not in P: τοῦ τετράρχου] πρὸς Ἀρέταν τὸν Ἀράβων βασιλέα καὶ ἧττα.
A and D) ὡς Τιβέριος Καῖσαρ ἔγραψεν Οὐιτελλίῳ Ἀρταβάνην μὲν τὸν Πάρθον πεῖσαι ὁμήρους αὐτῷ πέμψαι [P: πέμψειν], πρὸς Ἀρέταν δὲ πολεμεῖν.
B) τελευτὴ Φιλίππου καὶ ὡς ἡ τετραρχία αὐτοῦ ἐπαρχία ἐγένετο.
Here is the text of M and W, the other two Greek manuscripts with Antiquities 18:
A and D) ὡς Τιβέριος Καῖσαρ ἔγραψεν Οὐιτελλίῳ Ἀρταβάνην μὲν τὸν Πάρθον [W: τῶν πάρθων] πεῖσαι ὁμήρους αὐτῷ πέμψαι, πρὸς Ἀρέταν δὲ πολεμεῖν.
B) τελευτὴ Φιλίππου καὶ ὡς ἡ τετραρχία αὐτοῦ ἐπαρχία ἐγένετο.
C) πόλεμος Ἡρώδου τοῦ τετράρχου πρὸς Ἀρέταν τὸν Ἀράβων βασιλέα καὶ ἧττα.
The Latin manuscripts start from the out-of-order list of A and P, above. They show no real contact with the other order that exists in the other Greek manuscripts. Instead, the development in both the Greek and Latin textual traditions can be explained on the principle that the “difficult reading” explains all the easier ones. Someone has corrected the order in the Greek textual tradition to the more sensible outline found in manuscripts M and W and away from manuscript A. We will find the same tendency at work in the Latin textual tradition.
And now we turn to the references to John in the Latin table of contents.
I. “The vast majority of Latin manuscripts with a Table of Contents (all except al, Alb, Cl, Ne, pa, and Sa) follow the order in P and A and the wording in mss A, M, and W.” (p. 53)
(A) pugna Herodis tetrarchae aduersus Aretam Araborum regem et qualiter superatus extiterit.
(B) Qualiter Tiberius Caesar scripsit Vitellio ut Artabani Partho persuaderet obsides mittere, aduersus Aretam uero pugnare.
(D) and (E) (Qualiter Tiberius Caesar scripsit) morte Philippi tetrarchae et qualiter tetrarchia eius in praesidalem dispensationem redacta sit et de baptista Iohanne.
(A) The war of Herod the tetrarch with Aretas the king of the Arabians and how he (Herod) was defeated.
(B) How Tiberius Caesar sent instructions to Vitellius to induce Artabanus the Parthian to send hostages to him and make war on Aretas.
(D) and (E) (How Tiberius Caesar wrote) The death of Philip and how his tetrarchy became provincial territory, and concerning John the Baptist.
The phrase “How Tiberius Caesar wrote” is a copying defect that exists in most Latin manuscripts. Only a couple Latin manuscripts that take the general form shown above, which two are related to each other (Arn Werd), correct this to make it read more sensibly.
Other variants in these passages exist, but I will quote just those dealing with the four words on John (p. 55):
480 et] omitted by Cp na1475
481 de] omitted by pat
482 baptista] baptisma f S
483 baptista Iohanne] iohanne baptista al Cl cl Co D Ld Pl Prs s Sg U Vct Werd; iohanne omitted by Pa; sancto iohanne baptista Cp; et de baptista iohanne omitted by Arn (with blank space where it might have gone); et de baptisma iohanne corrected to et de baptista iohannis f
This form of the passage was to develop into the next Latin form in a couple manuscripts (Cl, al).
II. “Strikingly, the Table of Contents in Troyes ms 137 (Cl) presents the same material in the same order as the narrative of AJ 18. BL 22860 (al) follows this closely, but includes the problematic phrase ‘Qualiter Tiberius Caesar scripsit’ (mortem Philippi). In correctly placing the war of Herod against Aretas (C) after the letter about Artabanus (A) and the death of Philip (B), Troyes 137 and BL 22860 agree with Greek mss M and W. Unlike these Greek manuscripts, however, they also correctly separate Tiberius’ letter to Vitellius about Artabanus (A) and his letter to Vitellius to make war on Aretas (D).” (p. 55)
(A) Qualiter Tyberius scripsit Vitellio ut Artabano Partho persuaderet obsides mittere.
(B) Mors Philippi tetrarche et qualiter thetrarchia eius in presidalem dispensationem redacta sit.
(C) ac pugna Herodis thetrarchae aduersus Aretham regem Araborum. et qualiter superatus extiterit.
(D and E) et qualiter Tyberius Cesar scripsit Vitellio aduersus Aretham pugnare et de Iohanne baptista.
(A) How Tiberius sent instructions to Vitellius to induce Artabanus the Parthian to send hostages to him.
(B) The death of Philip and how his tetrarchy became provincial territory.
(C) and the war of Herod the tetrarch with Aretas the king of the Arabians and how he (Herod) was defeated.
(D and E) and how Tiberius Caesar sent instructions to Vitellius to make war on Aretas, and concerning John the Baptist.
The scribe has simply set everything right. Levenson and Martin note here (p. 56):
At least in the case of the entry about the death of Philip, this tradition represents an earlier form of the text because mors Philippi (Troyes 137), corresponding precisely to τελευτὴ Φιλίππου, is closer to the Greek than the clearly corrupt Qualiter Tiberius (Caesar) scripsit mortem Philippi. It is tempting to suggest that the other differences between this tradition and the one in the vast majority of manuscripts can be explained by the scribe’s access to a Latin Table of Contents that would reflect a more correct Greek Table of Contents that does not happen to have survived. However, the fact that the Latin Table of Contents in the first tradition has the conflation of the two letters of Tiberius, an error found in the Table of Contents of all Greek manuscripts, strongly suggests that this mistake was already in the original translation sponsored by Cassiodorus and that therefore the text in the related manuscripts Cl and al represents a correction of the Table of Contents on the basis of the narrative of AJ 18.
This manuscript development was itself to develop further, into a third form, which also happened to inform the first printed editions.
III. “An elaborated representative of the version in Cl and al is found in Clm 15841 (Sa), which is taken over by the editio princeps (aug), and from there by the Venice editions with only orthographic differences:” (p. 56)
(A) et qualiter Tyberius Cesar scripsit Vitellio ut amicicias componeret cum Artabano Parthorum imperatore.
(B) Mors Philippi fratris Herodis iunioris et qualiter tetrarchia eius dispensationi Syriae regiminique coniuncta est.
(Not found elsewhere:) et de simulatione quae contigit inter Aretham Pethreum et Herodem quia eiecit Herodes filiam Arethae quam duxerat uxorem. amore captus Herodiadis quam sub introduxit loco uxoris.
(D) et quia Tyberius prouocatus scriptis Herodis. mandat Vitellio aduersus Aretham pugnare.
(E) De Iohanne baptista ab Herode passo.
(A) And how Tiberius Caesar sent instructions to Vitellius to make friendship with Artabanus the Parthian commander.
(B) The death of Philip, Herod’s younger brother, and how his tetrarchy came to be joined together under the management and government of Syria.
(Not otherwise attested.) And of the fraudulence that transpired between Aretas of Petra and Herod, who had married the daughter of Aretas, when Herod had cast aside his wife. Infatuation held captive Herodias, whom he took in place of his wife.
(D) And, wherefore, Tiberius reprimanded Herod in writing. He charged Vitellius with the war against Aretas.
(E) Concerning John the Baptist suffering by Herod.
The next two items here represent sundry variants on this passage in the table of contents, with no clear indication of their relationship to the three already mentioned above.
IV. “BL Royal 13 D vii (Alb) and the Lübeck printed edition (lüb) have a compressed Table of Contents here that, as in the case of the other entries, differs from all other manuscripts and early printed editions:” (p. 57)
“De morte Philippi et eius modestia. et de discordia Herodis et Arethe et de Iohanne baptista.”
“Concerning the death of Philip, and concerning the discord between Herod and Aretas, and concerning John the Baptist.”
V. “An interesting development in the Latin textual tradition is found in BN 5045 (Ne), which has item XIIII as pugna Herodis tetrarche aduersus Aretam Araborum regem et qualiter superatus extiterat et de baptista Iohanne (The war of Herod the tetrarch with Aretas the king of the Arabians and how he [Herod] was defeated, and concerning John the baptist) written in a very small hand after the notice of the death of Philip and the transfer of his tetrarchy (. . . redacta sit). The same passage appears earlier at the end of number XI (with Are in place of Aretam), with a line through it indicating it is to be deleted. The deleted passage would correspond to the order in the majority of Latin manuscripts and Greek mss P and A. The correction would follow the order in the second Latin version of the Table of Contents, but the rest of the section is like the majority of manuscripts in that it conflates the two letters of Tiberius into one and does not have a separate sentence reporting the order to fight Aretas. Unlike any of the other versions, the phrase et de baptista Iohanne is attached to the notice of the defeat of Herod’s army. Because the deleted sentence does not have a reference to John the Baptist, it is unclear whether et de baptista Iohanne appeared after et qualiter superatus extiterat in the manuscript the scribe was copying or right before the insertion (i.e., after redacta sit), where it is found in the vast majority of manuscripts.” (p. 57)
James with Others in the Latin Table of Contents
The reference is attested by a single manuscript, “BL Royal 13 D vii (Alb)” (p. 57)
XVI. et Albinus Festo successit et Ananus accepto pontificatu Iacobum cum aliis ad lapidandum tradidit.
On Albinus succeeding Festus and Ananus taking office, James with others were handed over for stoning.
There is no significant probability, due to the scant manuscript attestation (in one unusual witness), that this were part of the original sixth century Latin version of the Antiquities. As Levenson and Martin say, “Since the content of the Table of Contents in this manuscript is completely different from the rest of the manuscript tradition, it does not provide adequate grounds for positing the appearance of James in the Table of Contents of the original Latin translation of the Antiquities.” (p. 60)
In a future post, I will revisit this valuable article from David B. Levenson and Thomas R. Martin for the information that they have gathered on the text of the passages themselves.