I’m currently reading the book of Josephus starting out in the biblical narrative of creation to the death of Isaac and was wondering if this is more reliable than the Bible or is he just giving me a historical perspective due to him writing about the Wars of the Jews.

  • 3
    Reliable how ? Theologically ? Morally ? Historically ?
    – Lucian
    Sep 9 '19 at 5:31
  • 1
    Best to decide for yourself if Josephus is reliable. My suggestion would be to develop your own criteria upon which to gauge the usefullness of materials. Personally, I think his writings are a red herring. Others, most assuredly, think differently.
    – tblue
    Sep 9 '19 at 6:24
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not involve trying to understand the historio-religious/linguistic meaning of a particular Bible passage. Sep 9 '19 at 20:29

The only reliable "source for biblical truth" is the Bible itself.

Secular, historical writings, such as Josephus, are reliable sources of what many people believed to be true at the time they were written.

When that recorded popular belief matches how contemporary people behaved during New Testament times, it gives more credence to the biblical writing. (E.g. the Jews and Samaritans didn't get along, the Romans controlled the country.)

If you find cases where Josephus describes things that contradict the biblical record, then you'll be faced with deciding which is wrong and, more importantly, why it is wrong.

Remember to keep in mind that Josephus's target audience was the Romans, not the Jews, so his descriptions will be written in a way that they will best understand it and in a way that they will want to believe it. E.g. look at the events happening in the world today and compare their reports on Fox News, BBC, and Al Jazeera.

  • Thank you for that Sep 9 '19 at 18:14

Josephus has some value for historical purposes but of not much value when compared to the Scriptures.

Even among historians he is limited in value for his assessment of history. Josephus was an Israelite who, during the 70 AD rebellion switched to the other side, therefore there are elements that are intended to restore his own reputation, which had largely been destroyed at that point.

It would be like Benedict Arnold writing a history of the American Revolution.

Perhaps the most significant obstacle to any serious examination of Josephus is the problem that are as many as four different extant versions of his writings. There is one vague reference to the events of the cross in one of the versions but scholars are very divided on whether this was added later by Christian authors or it was part of the original.

At best it can give some historical insight into the first century that in a few cases can color the historical interpretation of certain passages but that is always vague at best

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