Steve Mason: If Luke Didn’t Know Josephus…

Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament, second edition (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), 293.

I cannot prove beyond doubt that Luke knew the writings of Josephus. If he did not, however, we have a nearly incredible series of coincidences, which require that Luke new something that closely approximated Josephus’s narrative in several distinct ways. This source (or these sources) spoke of: Agrippa’s death after his robes shone; the extramarital affairs of both Felix and Agrippa II; the harshness of the Sadducees toward Christianity; the census under Quirinius as a watershed event in Palestine; Judas the Galilean as an arch rebel at the time of the census; Judah, Theudas, and the unnamed “Egyptian” as three rebels in the Jerusalem area worthy of special mention among a host of others; Theudas and Judas in the same piece of narrative; Judaism as a philosophical system; the Pharisees and Sadducees as philosophical schools; and the Pharisees as the most precise of the schools. We know of no other work that even remotely approximated Josephus’s presentation on such a wide range of issues. I find it easier to believe that Luke knew something of Josephus’s work than that he independently arrived at these points of agreement. Nevertheless, further study may provide alternatives.

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