In Josephus, Paul, and the Fate of Early Christianity, F.B.A. Asiedu undertakes a challenging task: probing the silences in historian Josephus’ extensive body of written work from the 1st century, in particular his neglect of Paul in Jerusalem and later Christians in Rome. The analysis argues that Josephus’ silences are intentional strategies and that they result from how he wanted to depict Judaism in his day.... Such a study is exceptional in its handling such an enormous body of literature and thinking thoughtfully and creatively about the gaps in an author’s narrative.
This is a stimulating book about which much more could be said. It is necessarily speculative, as are many arguments about silence, but it explores Josephus' silence in sometimes arresting ways. Few will agree with all its conclusions but all should profit from it.
Asiedu makes a credible case and along the way supplies the reader with a lot of information about Joesphus himself.
Asiedu proposes the bold thesis that Josephus’s notable silences about Jesus, Paul, and the early Christian movement—with rare exceptions such as the judicial execution of James, the brother of Jesus—cannot be explained as the result of a relatively small and inconsequential movement that escaped his attention, but was instead an intentional strategy he employed aimed at excluding Christians from Jewish history. Asiedu uses Josephus’s own works, the works of his contemporaries (e.g., Marital, Tacitus, Pliny), and the early Christian letter of 1 Clement as support for this thesis. He contends that Josephus’s familial, social, and political connections in Jerusalem make it improbable that he was ignorant of Paul, his connection to Pharisaism, and the role he played in the bourgeoning Christian movement. His silence about the great fire in Rome, the supposed culpability of the Christians, and their subsequent persecution by Nero are also suspicious, especially in light of the evidence provided by contemporary, secular historians who bear witness to these events. Finally, Josephus’s silence about the existence of a thriving Christian community in Rome, whose self-identification was deeply rooted in Judaism, its Scriptures, and its forefathers, as is evidenced in 1 Clement, is further confirmation of Asiedu’s thesis. Although impossible to prove his thesis due to the absence of tangible evidence, Asiedu’s investigation into Josephus’s silences about the Christian movement, and the probability that it was by design is worthy of consideration[.]