Dedication to Theophilus

WHEREAS the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations; while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistical manner; and while those that were there present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humor of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jews; and while their writings contain sometimes accusations, and sometimes encomiums, but no where the accurate truth of the facts; I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians…”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Preface:1

This is exactly the same way that the book of Luke begins:

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus {means lover of God”;}, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

– Luke 1:1-4

But that introduction to Luke ends in almost exactly the same way that the very last passage of “The Life of Josephus” ends, with a dedication to Epaphroditus:

“…But to thee, O Epaphroditus {means “lovely”;}, thou most excellent of men! do I dedicate all this treatise of our Antiquities; and so, for the present, I here conclude the whole.”

– The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 1:76

The first four verses of Luke can be entirely reconstructed from the very first passage of “Wars of the Jews” and the very last passage of “The Life Of Flavius Josephus”. Scholars agree that Luke was most likely written between 80-100 AD with modifications going well into the second century. However, “Wars of the Jews” was published before that, in 75 AD and “The Life of Josephus” was written between 94 and 99 AD. As it turns out, whereas Luke begins nearly the same as the first passage of “The Wars of the Jews”, Matthew begins nearly the same as the first passage of “The Life of Josephus” and John begins nearly the same as the very first passage of the book of Genesis.

“… I thought it therefore an absurd thing to see the truth falsified in affairs of such great consequence, and to take no notice of it; but to suffer those Greeks and Romans that were not in the wars to be ignorant of these things, and to read either flatteries or fictions, while the Parthians, and the Babylonians, and the remotest Arabians, and those of our nation beyond Euphrates, with the Adiabeni, by my means, knew accurately both whence the war begun, what miseries it brought upon us, and after what manner it ended…”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Preface:4

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