Jesus Finds Philip

“… Philip… had been unexpectedly preserved when the royal palace at Jerusalem had been besieged; but, as he fled away, had fallen into another danger, and that was, of being killed by Manahem… So Philip staid there four days, and fled away on the fifth, having disguised himself with fictitious hair, that he might not be discovered… But God himself hindered that his intention, and this for his own advantage also…”

– Josephus, The Life Of Flavius Josephus, :11

Watch out Philip!  Your fictitious hair will not help you hide from God, because Jesus is going to find you, even if it takes him a whole day wandering through Galilee!

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.”

– John 1:43

This one is great, it’s like a first century version of “Where’s Waldo”. There are only a few short mentions of Philip in “The Wars of the Jews” during the time of the war, so if you don’t have Ctrl-F, then just like Jesus it might also take you a whole day of going through all of Josephus’ descriptions of Galilee before you can find Philip:

“Now this lake of Gennesareth {Sea of Galilee;} is so called from the country adjoining to itIts breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water, and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is. Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan. Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is a hundred and twenty furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over. And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into Phiala, and it was found at Paninto, where the ancients thought the fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expenses. Now Jordan’s visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechonitis; when it hath run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltitis [Dead Sea].”

JosephusWars of the Jews, Book 3, 10:7

Right in the middle of all these great, action packed war stories Josephus takes us on this long, boring detour through Galilee and the only interesting thing we find is this short mention of Philip. John’s passage is mocking Josephus’ style through mimicry, Jesus takes a whole day going through Galilee to find Philip.  But the next time that the book of John mentions Philip (below) we have the same joke about the same passage: first Jesus talks at length without any apparent purpose (“I am the path and the way and the light, blah, blah…”), then Thomas gets impatient (representing the readers’ impatience at Josephus’ landscape description) and even Philip appears out of the page, getting bored to death by this verbosity and desperately wants to see Vespasian in action again, and finally comes Jesus’ response to their impatience, mocking the way Josephus usually reacts to critics of his work:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest {we don’t know where you’re going with this;}; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us {Enough! Where’s Vespasian, we want some action!;}. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philiphe that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

John 14:1-12

This humor is sometimes hilarious, Doubting Thomas {the Germans, as we will see later;} is like, “How can we know what you’re talking about, we’ve never been to Israel, I don’t know where you’re going with this” and even Philip is jumping up out of the long description of Galilee to say “Lord, show us the Father already, this is boring, let’s have some action!” Especially considering it is two thousand years old, it is impressive that their humor still works well even today. But, seriously, I would have said you can’t make this shit up, but apparently someone did. However, it is also undeniable, because someone named Philip is mentioned only once in Book 4 and twice in Book 3 and only a few times in the whole New Testament, and two of those stories match perfectly together in a humorous way to mock Josephus.

That was the second time that the book of John mocks how long and boring Josephus’ writings are; once in chapter 1 and once in chapter 14.  But John makes this exact same joke at the very end of his gospel in chapter 21:

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

– John 21:25

“The Wars of the Jews” consists of seven books with 240 pages, “Jewish Antiquities” has 20 books with almost 600 pages, “Flavius Josephus Against Apion” has two books with about thirty pages and “The Life of Flavius Josephus” is only about 10 pages.  All together that makes 30 books and about 900 pages of history that he wrote.  The guy just went on and on and wouldn’t shut up, hehe.

“…But if thou art so hardy as to affirm, that thou hast written that history better than all the rest, why didst thou not publish thy history while the emperors Vespasian and Titus, the generals in that warwere all alive? for thou hast had it written these twenty years, and then mightest thou have had the testimony of thy accuracy. But now when these men are no longer with us, and thou thinkest thou canst not be contradicted, thou venturest to publish it…”

– The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 1:65

That is a good question! Why didn’t the authors of the New Testament publish their history when Vespasian and Titus were still alive, or maybe sixty years early when their country was still alive?

“This digression I have been obliged to make out of necessity, as being desirous to expose the vanity of those that profess to write histories; and I suppose I have sufficiently declared that this custom of transmitting down the histories of ancient times hath been better preserved by those nations which are called Barbarians, than by the Greeks themselves… I shall also demonstrate that such as cast reproaches upon our nation do it very unjustly.”

– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book 1 :11

NEXT: See how Philip Helps us Find Nathanael.

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