Josefus: Gennesaret

26/09/2013

Utsikt, Arbelfjellet 2012Området rundt Gennesaretsjøen var kjerneområdet for Jesu verksemd. Dette var eit området med viktige naturressursar for menneska i Galilea på denne tida (og seinare), både når det gjaldt jordbruk og fiske.

På bildet ser eg ut over Gennesaretsjøen. Bildet er tatt på toppen av Arbelfjellet.

Den jødiske historikaren Josefus skreiv ei begeistra skildring av dette landskapet i Den jødiske krig. Boka blei skriven på 70-talet e. Kr, altså ca ein generasjon etter at Jesus levde her. Sjølv om Josefus sikkert tar litt hardt i, får me eit inntrykk av dei rike  naturressursane i området, som er frodig og flott også i dag.

Josefus skriv:

Langs Genesaretsjøen strekker det seg et vidunderlig naturskjønt landskap med samme navn. Jorden er så fruktbar at det ikke er den plante som ikke kan vokse her, og innbyggerne dyrker da også alt mulig. Klimaet er slik at det passer for de forskjelligste slags vekster. Nøttetrær, som er spesielt avhengige av kjølige vintre, finnes her i store mengder, likeledes palmer, som trenger varme, og dessuten fiken- og oliventrær, som helst skal ha middeltemperatur. Man kunne kalle det naturens ærgjerrighet dette å tvinge gjennom en forening av motsetninger på ett sted og å skape sunn strid mellom årstidene, som prøver å overgå hverandre i å sette sitt preg på egnen. De spesielle klimatiske forhold medfører ikke bare at landet produserer en mengde forskjelligartede frukter, men også at sesongen varer så lenge. Vindruer og fiken, for å nevne noen av de edleste produktene, kan nemlig høstes kontinuerlig i 10 måneder, mens de øvrige modnes litt etter litt året rundt. I tillegg til ideell temperatur nyter landet godt av det næringsrike vannet fra en kilde som lokalbefolkningen kaller Kafernaum. Det er noen som har ment at denne er en gren av Nilen siden her finnes en fiskeart som ligner den i sjøen ved Aleksandria, nemlig korakinos (fotnote: en 50 cm lang sort, ålelignende fisk). Landskapet langs sjøen med samme navn har en lengde på 30 stadier og en bredde på 20. Det var alt om denne egnens naturlige beskaffenhet.

(Josefus: Den jødiske krig. Tredje bok. Kapittel X.8. Omsett frå gresk av Bente Lassen. Aschehoug. Oslo 2002)


Herodes, den store?

27/12/2010

Er det rett å kalla Herodes for den store? Skulle han heller vore kalla Herodes den grufulle?

Geza Vermes har skrive ein lengre biografisk artikkel om Herodes i Standpoint Magazine januar/februar 2011. Han skriv om blant anna om politikk, familiefeidar og byggjeprosjekt som blir knytt til Herodes.

(Oppdatering: Merk at eg til slutt her i notatet siterer ein kommentator som meiner at Vermes forsøkjer å omskriva historia og gjera Herodes mindre grufull enn han var).

Her er nokre avsnitt frå Geza Vermes» artikkel:

Herod the Terrible or Herod the Great?

The Christian world has inherited a wholly negative image of king Herod (74/72-4 BCE), during whose reign Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1, Luke, 1:5). Matthew’s legendary account, Nativity plays and Christian imagination have turned Herod into the Ivan the Terrible of antiquity. When the three wise kings, or rather oriental magicians (magoi in the Greek Gospel), arrived at the royal palace in Jerusalem and asked about the recently born king of the Jews, Herod pretended to be helpful and directed them to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of the Messiah, on condition that they promised to let him know the whereabouts of the babe. He, too, wished to greet him, he lied, when in fact he planned to murder the potential rival. So when the magi failed to return, he let loose his soldiers on the infants of Bethlehem.

The extensive secular chronicles provide a more nuanced biography, one that is almost as detailed as those of Roman emperors. Our chief informant is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-c.100CE), who devoted most of Book I of his Jewish War and Books XIV to XVII of Jewish Antiquities to the life and times of Herod. Josephus uses as his main source the universal history of Nicolaus of Damascus, the well-informed teacher, adviser and ambassador of Herod. The fact that Josephus often criticises the king suggests that beside the court historian’s pro-Herod chronicle, he had also at his disposal another account sympathetic to the Hasmoneans, the Jewish priest-kings, who from 152 BCE ruled the Holy Land, first independently and after 63 BCE under the aegis of Rome, until Herod took their throne in 37 BCE.

(…)

Her er nokre avsnitt som handlar om tempelet i Jerusalem:

The jewel in the crown of his exclusively Jewish creative activity was the construction of the Second Temple. It started in 19 BCE and was financed by him. The Western Wall of Herod’s Temple still stands and is the holiest site in Judaism. The size of the building was substantially larger and higher than the Temple erected at the end of the sixth century BCE. To reassure the inhabitants of the city, Herod assembled in advance all the building materials, and hired and trained the stonemasons and carpenters.

To allay religious worries, he associated the Jewish clergy with the project, and to please them he ordered sumptuous robes for 1,000 priests. The main sanctuary, completed in 18 months, was inaugurated in a grandiose ceremony entailing the sacrifice of 300 oxen. The Temple was one of the marvels of the ancient world. According to a Jewish saying, «He who has not seen the Temple of Herod, has not seen a beautiful building in his life.» Work continued long after Herod’s death and did not end until the procuratorship of Albinus in 62-64 CE, a few years before its destruction in the first rebellion against Rome in 70 CE.

As far as the Jewish religion was concerned, the enlarged and embellished Temple added extra attractiveness to cultic worship and thus increased the number of pilgrims who came from the four corners of the ancient world to worship in Jerusalem. Just over three decades after Herod’s death, Jewish pilgrims present in Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot or Pentecost included, according to the Acts of the Apostles (2:9-11), people from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphilia, Egypt, Cyrene, Rome, Crete and Arabia. Moreover, Herod’s liking for the learned Pharisees, who endorsed him when he was most in need of support, and his fondness of the Essenes, whose prophet Menachem predicted that one day Herod would become king, further contributed to the active promotion of the intellectual and spiritual life of Judaism.

(…)

Her er det konkluderande avsnittet hans, der han kjem tilbake til omtalen av Herodes den store:

In short, both Jewish and Christian traditions treat him as Herod the Terrible. The historian, however, is fully aware, despite Herod’s grave shortcomings, of his unparalleled political and cultural accomplishments. In particular, his long friendship with Augustus was highly beneficial to the inhabitants of Judea and the Jewish religion. Moreover, while Herod enjoyed the enviable status of a «client king, friend of the Roman people», none of his descendants, if the short reign of Agrippa I (41-44 CE) is discarded, was sufficiently esteemed by Augustus and his successors to receive the title «king of the Jews». All in all, in view of these unquestionable achievements Herod deserves to be known as the one and only Herod the Great.

Les heile artikkelen her.

(via PaleoJudaica)

Oppdatering 30.12.2010:

Todd Bolen på BiblePlaces Blog kommenterer artikkelen her og hevdar at Vermes prøver å omskriva historia for å gjera Herodes mindre grufull enn han var!

Geza Vermes tries to rewrite history in a lengthy article on Herod the Great, arguing in part that Herod was the victim of nasty old St. Matthew who “transformed him into a monster.”  I thought it was interesting how the author preferred the passive voice when describing the deaths of the people that Herod murdered.  For instance, “Augustus with a heavy heart allowed Herod to try his two sons, who were found guilty and executed by strangulation in Sebaste/Samaria.”  Josephus provides the only surviving account of the episode. He writes of Herod, “He also sent his sons to Sebaste, a city not far from Cesarea, and ordered them to be there strangled” (Wars 1.551; 1.27.6).


Kor døydde Herodes Agrippa?

06/08/2010

Kong Herodes Agrippa I døydde i år 44 i Cæsarea ved havet. Byen er i dag ein flott arkeologisk park der det er mykje interessant å sjå. Eg anbefalar gjerne denne staden!

Dødsfallet er omtalt i Apostelgjerningane (12,20-23), og er skildra som ei ganske spesiell hending. Er det mogleg å vita nøyaktig kor dette skjedde i byen?

Blant dei interessante bygningsrestane frå det første hundreåret er eit teater, eit amfiteater/ein hippodrom og restane av kong Herodes den store sitt palass. Herodes Agrippa var for øvrig barnebarn til den meir berømte Herodes den store, som hadde prega byen med sine store byggverk.

Herodes Agrippas dødsfall er ei av dei få hendingane som er omtalt både i Apostelgjerningane og hos Josefus (Antiquities 19,343-350). Josefus si framstilling er meir detaljrik enn Lukas», men dei to skildringane er likevel relativt samstemmige. Begge forfattarane skriv at kongen blei hylla som ein gud og at han tok imot hyllesten, – og begge skriv at han raskt etterpå døydde som ein straff for dette.

Men det var dette med den nøyaktige lokaliseringa av hendinga. Josefus skriv at det skjedde i teateret i Cæsarea, og dette har av dei fleste blitt akseptert som korrekt. Men nå har Todd Bolen (BiblePlaces.com) analysert tekstane og skrive ein interessant artikkel om dødsfallet på nettstaden The Bible and Interpretation. Han har funne ut at Josefus her truleg har vore unøyaktig og at det er meir sannsynleg at det skjedde i det store amfiteateret.

Eg syns argumentasjon hans for dette verkar overbevisande og anbefalar gjerne artikkelen Not in the Theater: Challenging Josephus’s Location for the Place of Herod Agrippa’s Death.


Josefus om Jesus

21/12/2009

Geza Vermes har skrive ein artikkel om det interessante avsnittet om Jesus i Josefus sitt verk Antiquities. Dette er truleg den einaste ikkje-kristne kjelda frå det første hundreår som omtalar Jesus. Men forskarane er ueinige i korleis me skal sjå på dette avsnittet; er den kjende teksten slik Josefus skreiv den? Eller er den eit seinare kristent innskot i skriftet? Geza Vermes gir ei innføring i problematikken og landar på eit (relativt vanleg) mellomstandpunkt; Josefus skreiv avsnittet om Jesus, men teksten viser at kristne seinare har lagt til enkelte ord og uttrykk. Det er derfor nødvendig med ein historisk- og litteraturkritisk analyse for å finna ut kva Josefus eigentleg skreiv.

Her er teksten i Antiquities 18,63-64:

(63) About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed paradoxical deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many Greeks. He was the Christ. (64) When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

Les gjerne heile artikkelen til Geza Vermes: Jesus in the Eyes of Josephus. Her er konklusjonen hans:

In conclusion, what seems to be Josephus’s authentic portrait of Jesus depicts him as a wise teacher and miracle worker, with an enthusiastic following of Jewish disciples who, despite the crucifixion of their master by order of Pontius Pilate in collusion with the Jerusalem high priests, remained faithful to him up to Josephus’s days.

Let me offer therefore the text that I believe Josephus wrote. The Christian additions, identified in the paragraph that follows the earlier reproduction of the English translation of Antiquities 18: 63-64, are excised and the deletions are indicated by [……]. The dubious authenticity of the phrase «[and many Greeks?]» (see the same paragraph above) is signalled by the question mark. Finally, the word [called] is inserted into the sentence «He was [called] the Christ» on the basis of Josephus’s description of James as «the brother of Jesus called the Christ».

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man…For he was one who performed paradoxical deeds and was the teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews [and many Greeks?]. He was [called] the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him…And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

(via PaleoJudaica)


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