[quote="kantus12, post:1, topic:342224"]
I've heard some stories about Josephus' histories, and its mention of Jesus-ben-Ananias (or something to that effect), who prophesied Jerusalem's destruction about 60 AD. I've met some people claiming that the similarities between Josephus' account of his trial and the Gospels' description of Jesus' trial "prove" that Matthew copied the description of the trial from Josephus. Does anyone here know anything that might throw more light on this issue? I'd like to have something to say back.
From the horse's mouth (Josephus, War 6.288-309):
But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began [AD 62], and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city.
However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon the magistrates, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.
Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come.
This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the Holy House!" And just as he added at the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.
There are indeed some similarities between the two Jesuses: they preached "woes" and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem; the leaders of Jerusalem (certain of the most eminent among the populace) bring both men to the incumbent Roman governor; the accused says nothing to defend himself. But if we compare that Jesus to our Jesus, there are also differences in the outcome. We could see why Jesus of Nazareth was executed rather than simply flogged. (Funny observation: in Luke 23:16 and 22, Pilate proposes to the people gathered that Jesus, whom he views as harmless, be simply chastised and released - something which was actually done in Jesus son of Ananias' case.) Jesus of Nazareth had a following (maybe not that large, but a following nevertheless). He spoke of a 'Kingdom' of quite some time. He had taken physical action in the Temple. And most importantly, He was not mad (or at least was not deemed to be), which makes Him all the more dangerous. Pilate and Caiaphas apparently knew that He was not breeding a secret army and was planning to use force (otherwise, His followers would have also been rounded up), and that is not their cause to be concerned. Rather, they feared that Jesus could rouse the mob with what He has been doing for almost a week. That's the reason why both Jesuses were arrested really: what made Jesus Christ's ultimate fate different from Jesus son of Ananias is that the latter was ultimately deemed to be too mad to pose any actual threat. (We could read the gospels as implying that Pilate was somewhat willing to let Jesus off by playing the same 'He's a harmless idiot' card, but he is ultimately persuaded not to.)
Seriously, Josephus speaks of quite a number of Jesuses in his two works. There were a lot of 'Jesuses' in 1st century, if he and the archaeological record is of any evidence.