Shlomo Pines published a curious version of the Testimonium Flavianum of Josephus, taken from the Arabic Christian writer Agapius. But rereading his article, and comparing this text with the Patrologia Orientalis version of Agapius, we quickly find that there is a problem.
Pines’ text is not that given by the Florence manuscript, which alone preserves Agapius. However the CSCO text also gives quotations from the later Arabic Christian historian, Al-Makin or Elmacin. These Pines has used to supplement the text, and thereby produce his version.
Now in a way this is rather dubious. After all, we know that texts expand in transmission. The Testimonium is perhaps more prone to this than any other bit of Josephus, as the reference in Photius shows, which gives a bit about Jesus otherwise quite unknown. Glosses on this text were always going to occur, and be incorporated. So treating the manuscript as epitomised is unusual.
The real question is whether Al-Makin generally expands on his authorities. If he does, then the extra material must be worthless, and Pines’ version with it.
But there is no complete edition of Al-Makin at all; none that contains this passage at all; no critical text of any of it; no real translation of any value in any language (unless we include Ethiopic). The text is pretty much inaccessible.
I believe that the Agapius Testimonium is not as we have been led to believe. I suggest that Agapius merely gave a rough summary of the contents, rather than a quotation; the text rather reads like that anyway. Until we have a real understanding of Al-Makin’s text and its sources and handling of them, I think we ought to place Pines’ version on the shelf marked ‘to be verified’.