Ah yes Evangelion, but I understand that there is no external documentation at all for Flavius Josephus.
He is probably a myth fabricated by Constantine or the Romans.
Or has that one already been done?
Sort of, Deef posted about a mythicist and his clique years ago who would deny the historicity of Paul, Celsus and basically anyone who could be used as a source about the historical Jesus. I think that also included Josephus. I'll try to find the link.
Edit: Okay, the site has been removed and the discussion on this forum doesn't mention Josephus. But the guy did deny the historicity of Origen and Ignatius, so I guess Josephus could have been equally fair game but there's no evidence he did deny their existence.
Sorry to take so long in replying, but I don't visit this forum so often these days. And thanks for the very informative and detailed article.
I haven't read it in detail yet, but I see your conclusions and general comments. Three things immediately stand out:
1. There seems to be a small trend of experts in some discipline writing outside their expertise in academic journals. (I recall paleontologist Gregory Paul writing on religion and prosociality a decade ago and disagreeing with the experts, and then of course there's Salm on Nazareth.) As you say, fresh input is welcome, but it needs to recognise both the author's limitations and the work of experts.
2. What may seem as bias in such writers. You hint at this when you comment that Hopper sets up a false dichotomy of either christian apologist or sceptical unbeliever, ignoring that most secular scholars try to avoid such biases.
3. The lack of comparitive studies. Testing his method on other sections of Josephus, and on other authors, would give his method a lot more rigour. I came across this when I read Bart Ehrman's Forged. He, and other scholars, speak confidently of the differences in vocabulary and sentence structure within the NT letters traditionally attributed to Paul, and use their conclusions to define which letters were actually written by him. But they never mention how they tested their methodology on other known contemporary authors to show how much or little they varied their style for different circumstances (or even with different scribes). This seems to me to be a very basic weakness. I am not an academic, so I don't have access to all that much, but searched on Google and couldn't find any case where someone did this method checking for the work Ehrman reports. It is like using placebos in medical research, or using split records to demonstrate the accuracy of modelling of climate data (close to my former field of work). The lack of such accuracy checking makes results like Ehrman's or Hopper's less credible to me.
Thanks so much for reporting this here. I will take a closer look when I can.
My turn to apologise for the late reply. On differences in vocabulary in the disputed letters of Paul, for me the best analysis is in "Biblical Criticism on Trial" by Eta Linnemann. It's the most scientific treatment, with tables and word-counts of the vocabulary that is (mis)used in arguments like Ehrman's. Some of the evidence works in both directions, but you won't find a better treatment of it as far as I know. It's out of print but you can get second-hand copies from the usual websites.
Hi Colin, I realise I have stopped visiting this site, though I never actually intended to do that. But if you see this, thanks for the suggestion. That book is readily available so I will check it out.