Understanding the Josephus Evidence of a Trial

Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus contributes three things to our understanding of our conjectured trial.

First, the Josephus passage demonstrates that one aspect of Philip the Tetrarch’s work in his territory was judicial. In this role he can be understood as a traveling circuit judge.

He settled conflicts between tribes and ethnic groups. He also judged all capital cases. Local matters were settled within a tribe itself, according to the laws and customs of the tribe.

Philip the Tetrarch was the only person in his jurisdiction who was automatically authorized to pronounce judgment in a capital case.

Second, Philip’s result was the same result expected in any Roman court, the determination of guilt or Innocence.

The fact of capital decisions (death penalty cases) coincides with the Talmud and with Luke.

In the Talmud, all three of the passages cited (click here) relate to capital cases involving sexual transgression. Each Talmud section features a legal expert justifying the destruction of something not ordinarily subject to Jewish law (the inanimate objects and a beast or ox). In Shabbat 6:7 the judge is labeled Antigonus the Prince.

In Luke 17:34-35, a capital determination seems implicit in the twice-used word “seized”. One man and one woman are “seized”, that is officially taken into custody, presumably for execution.

The key things to note in the Josephus passage are 1) Philip’s judicial role, 2) that he adjudicated whenever and wherever his presence was required, and 3) that justice required his determination of guilt or innocence under the law.


To see a list of other posts related to the Evidence, the Bethsaida Trial and the Gay Jew Jesus, click here.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Devotional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

So what are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s