Words, Words, Words: A response to Richard Carrier on Feldman and Eusebius

It’s always nice when my blog posts attract attention. I learned last week that an old post of mine, from 2013, has attracted a response from a professional atheist polemicist named Richard Carrier. In a rather excitable post here on his own blog he roundly denounces my casual remarks, and indeed myself (!), and offers a new theory of his own. A correspondent drew my attention to this, and asked me to comment.

My original post was written after I happened to see an article by the excellent Josephus scholar Louis Feldman. This tentatively endorsed the fringe idea that Eusebius of Caesarea (fl. early 4th century) may have composed the so-called Testimonium Flavianum (TF), the rather odd passage in Josephus Antiquities 18 which mentions Christ.[1] This claim is not one that anybody has previously had much time for, and I didn’t see any purpose in rebutting it. Feldman was only summarising work by others, I felt.

But then I saw something interesting. The article made the claim that, if you search the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae database for a phrase towards the end of the TF, “And the tribe of Christians has not died out even to this day” (eis eti te nuneven/still to this day),[2] then it gives a bunch of hits in Eusebius’ works, and pretty much nowhere else.

I do computer searches. I’m interested in Eusebius. So I did the search for the phrase, but I got only a handful of results. Disappointed, I blogged about it, added some cautions on rushing to conclusions from these kinds of matches, and thought no more about it.

Last week I learned that, after four years, Richard Carrier has written a blog post in which he asserts rather over-enthusiastically that I simply did the search wrong – that instead I should have searched for eis eti nun; the te is just a particle, with the vague sense of “and”, and the two phrases are pretty much the same in meaning. Of course the two are indeed more or less identical in meaning.

Carrier’s search produces splendid results. It gets 94 matches.[3] Of these, 6 are later than Eusebius; one each in six authors. The other 88 are entirely in Eusebius. In other words, practically nobody in all Greek literature ever uses the phrase other than Eusebius, if we can trust this search.  It looks like the claim that Eusebius wrote the TF is proved!

But 88 out of 94 is not just a good result for the theory. It’s a fabulous result! In fact, it’s too good to be true. It’s like a Soviet election result with 99% voting for the official candidate. The number is supposed to produce confidence in the result, and does the opposite. It’s a sign that we need to sanity-check what we are doing.

Doing so produces instant discomfort. Surely “even to this day” is a trivial phrase? Are we really saying that Eusebius invented something as obvious as that? It seems unlikely. Imagine a Greek, complaining about his neighbour, as man has done since time immemorial. Would he not say, “How long has this been a problem?” “Oh it started when we landed, and it has continued even to this day.” How else would you express that idea?[4]

In fact, if we look at little further we find that the idea in rather similar words is indeed kicking around well before Eusebius, six centuries earlier, in the third century BC.   Apollonius Rhodius uses the idea in his Argonautica. He uses it to tie together past and present, in precisely the way that Eusebius does. [5]   The historian Polybius uses it, the poet Callimachus uses it. Nobody in our corpus uses it like Eusebius does; but then nobody is writing quite the kinds of works that Eusebius is.

So why didn’t these authors appear in the results, when we do the search? Because these rely on searching for versions of eiseti nun, which differs only by a word-division and means much the same thing.[6] We can omit te; we can replace it with the stronger equivalent kai; we can run eis and eti together, especially when we know that Greek manuscripts did not feature word division.  Any claim that depends on the presence of a space in the text is a pretty fragile one.

In fact there are quite a number of things we can do to twiddle the search, once we start thinking about it. Let’s just give the numbers from the TLG for a few versions of this search string, all of which mean much the same:

  • eis eti te nun – 4 hits. Josephus (1 hit), Eusebius (3 hits).
  • eiseti te nun – 7 hits. Eusebius (4), Sozomen (2), Oecumenius (1).
  • eis eti nun – 94 hits. 88 are from works of Eusebius, and the other 6 are later: Didymus the Blind (d.398) On Genesis, Procopius of Gaza (5th c.) Commentary on Isaiah, Stobaeus (6th c.), Chronicon Paschale (6th c.) and two 12th century Byzantine writers.
  • eiseti nun – 142 hits. Mostly pre-Eusebius; 7 hits in Apollonius Rhodius (3rd c. BC), Timaeus Historicus (3rd c. BC), Polybius (2nd c. BC), Philo (1st c. AD), Aelius Aristides (2nd c. AD), Lucian (2nd c.), Oppian (2nd c.), Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200), and others.  But Eusebius (63 hits) and Sozomen (41 hits) do appear.
  • eis eti kai nun – 23 hits. 2 hits from Porphyry (3rd c.) from different works. Some from Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, and then Byzantine writers.
  • eiseti kai nun – 110 hits. Callimachus (3rd c. BC), Herennius Philo (ca. 100 AD), Lucian, the Book of Jubilees (ca. 150 BC), Eusebius (56 hits) – especially in the commentaries on Isaiah and Psalms – Eutropius, Chrysostom, Palladius, and Byzantine writers.  Also an LXX variant reading for Isaiah 9:6 (given by Eusebius).

All of these do show significant use by Eusebius. Some of these show pre-Eusebian use; others don’t.

In fact Carrier is quite well aware of the pre-Eusebian results, which he proceeds to mention briefly in a paragraph that reads as if it was tacked on afterwards.   But it’s terrible stuff. Clement of Alexandria is just a Christian, so he doesn’t count (?!).  Polybius doesn’t count because no other historical writer after him uses this phrase.  In fact Carrier has changed his argument; from “only Eusebius uses this, so it proves that Eusebius forged the TF” – a defensible argument, if wrong – to “Eusebius uses this more than anyone, so that proves that he forged the TF”.  Which, of course, it does not.  Carrier has defeated himself.[7]

Here’s the rub; the success or failure of our search comes to depend on us, on our judgement, on our ingenuity, on our knowledge of Greek.   This subjectivity was precisely why, in my first blog post, I never proceeded beyond the exact match.

There are further possible issues with this method. Only 1% of Greek literature has survived. Much of that is biased towards technical, classical or ecclesiastical writings, those that were useful to copyists in the Dark Ages. The TLG contains only a portion of that 1%. Someone who knew more about computational linguistics than I do could easily point out more problems.

The database itself is not “clean”;[8] it is comprised of texts edited by many different editors, whose choices from the manuscript tradition will reflect their preferences. One example of this may be found in searching outside the TLG for eis eti nun. The TLG gives no hits before Eusebius. But I find that the 1831 R. Klotz edition of Clement of Alexandria, Protrepicus, has three hits for it.[9] In the TLG, based on the GCS edition, eis eti is replaced by eiseti. There is no indication in the apparatus as to why. The results of each database search are therefore a reflection of editorial choices.

Stylistic analysis, whether manual or automated, can be something of a trap. It’s terribly easy to forget how little we really know about the texts before us, the language which none of us speak as a native and which changes considerably over the thousand years before us, the vagaries of editors, the influence of ammanuenses and copyists, and of the non-literary spoken language, which surrounds the literary text like a warm bath at every instant but is almost invisible to us.

To sum up, we saw that a search for the exact phrase does not confirm Carrier’s claim. A search for revised phrases which mean the same does not confirm the claim either.  Attempts to dodge this simply destroy the argument.

*   *   *   *

Now let’s go back to where we started. The argument in Feldman’s article was that the use of this phrase proved that Eusebius wrote the TF.   We don’t want any implicit assumptions here, so let’s lay the argument out explicitly.

The claim is: (1) we have no evidence that eis eti te nun (etc) was used in Greek literature before Eusebius; (2) the search proves that Eusebius uses it extensively; therefore (3) any use of the term proves that Eusebius composed that bit of text; and (4) the TF as found in the Church History of Eusebius does contain it; so (5) Eusebius composed the TF.

The second point is correct. Eusebius does use the eis eti nun phrase extensively, once or twice in every book of the Church History, and elsewhere.

But the first point is dodgy, and so is the third. We have seen that in fact we do have evidence of its use for 6 centuries before Eusebius.

But let us suppose for a moment that the TLG searches did in fact show, as Carrier contended (before he discovered otherwise), that nobody used eis eti nun before Eusebius. The argument still is flawed. For this argument is an argument from silence – that we have no evidence that anyone else … so it must have been him. Arguments from silence are not valid.

The archaeologists never tire of telling us that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is the first thing that we must remember. And we’re searching only a subset of 1% of Greek literature, as we saw.  According to Carrier this means that we don’t have any evidence of use before Eusebius … very well. But even then we don’t have all the evidence. We have only a fraction of it.

In conclusion, the claim that examining the use of eis eti nun proves that Eusebius composed the TF is not correct. The claim itself seems to involve an argument from silence. And the silence itself can only be sustained by ignoring the exact matches, using a related search, and then finding reasons to ignore other related searches.

  1. [1]There is another brief mention in Ant. 20 which also does so.
  2. [2]I have transliterated the Greek so that general readers can follow along.
  3. [3]This from a search of the TLG-E disk; I am currently unable to access the online system.
  4. [4]In fact it would be rather interesting to know how this was expressed in the classical period, as eis eti nun does not seem to be classical.
  5. [5]M.P. Cuypers, “Apollonius of Rhodes”, In: Irene J. F. De Jong, René Nünlist, Angus M. Bowie, “Narrators, Narratees, and Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature: Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative”, vol. 1. Brill, 2004, p.56 and n.24.
  6. [6]My thanks to Ken Olson for pointing this out in a comment on my original post. Dr O. is clearly no bigot, for he did so despite this information working against the interest of his theory: clearly a gentleman and a scholar.
  7. [7]Full disclosure: I wrote the majority of this post without Carrier’s post before me, so I did not remember his change of mind at this point.
  8. [8]See further M. Eder, “Mind your corpus: systematic errors in authorship attribution”, Literary and Linguistic Computing 28, 2013, 603-14.
  9. [9]Page 9 line 29, p.12  l.17, p.18 l.16. The first of these reads “καταδουλοῦται καὶ αΐκίζεται εἰς ἔτι νῦν τοιὶς άνθρώπους,”

Some notes on Musonius Rufus

C. Musonius Rufus (c. 30-100 AD) was a Stoic philosopher of the reign of Vespasian.[1]  He belongs to the group of four Roman Stoics which comprises Seneca, Epictetus (who was a pupil of Musonius Rufus), and Marcus Aurelius.[2]  He has been referred to as “the Roman Socrates”.[3] Naturally he spent time in gaol under Nero, and was exiled under Vespasian.

It is not clear whether he actually composed any works of his own, and none have come down to us directly.  Philostratus tells us that a biography existed, of doubtful quality.[4]

However a collection of lectures, written down by his pupil Lucius (as we learn from Lecture 5), certainly existed.  For in the Anthology of Stobaeus – itself not perfectly preserved, but attested in a number of manuscripts – we find long extracts, some twenty-one lectures, given under the name of Musonius Rufus, in books 2, 3 and 4.  This material was first gathered only in 1822 by the Dutch scholar, I. V. Peerlkamp.  An English translation can be found partially online at Archive.org here.

In addition some thirty-two sayings, anecdotes and precepts is preserved in Stobaeus, Epictetus, Aulus Gellius, and Aelius Aristides.  Some of this material may come from a collection of reminiscences of Musonius Rufus, listed in the Suda under the name of the Augustan writer Asinus Pollio (and so wrong; but perhaps his contemporary Annius Pollio, or the Hadrianic Valerius Pollio was the original name).  An example:

On the assassination of Galba someone said to Rufus, “Can you now hold that the world is ruled by divine Providence?” To which he replied, “Did I ever for a moment build my argument, that the world is ruled by a divine Providence, upon Galba?”

There is also an exchange of letters, quoted by Philostratus, which does not seem to be authentic; and a letter to Pancratides, first translated by Cynthia King, which may be a writing exercise.  I noticee that it takes a different line to the Lectures on the question of whether to have many children.

How accurately the ideas of Musonius Rufus are transmitted we cannot know.  Since the Lectures appear only in extracts in an anthology from Christian times, it is entirely possible that only the more Christian ideas appear.  After all, any sensible author, however keen on the writer he is quoting, would naturally omit ideas that were entirely offensive to the reader unless he proposed to combat them as such.  So we must read these extracts with caution.

I came to read about Musonius Rufus after discovering online a short article by professional atheist Dr Richard Carrier on the subject here, and to whom I am grateful for causing me to look into the matter.

Of course he has his constituency to address.  Thus he asserts that Musonius Rufus was, in his opinion, the moral superior of Jesus Christ.  It does not seem to have attracted much attention from his intended audience, probably because, although one sees occasional attempts, the ploy of claiming superior morality to Christians is not much in vogue in an age so dedicated to vice and debauchery as our own.  But let people think what they will: if it causes even one person to read so obscure an author as Musonius Rufus, then that is a good thing.

He begins as follows:

Since this man deserves far more publicity than he has ever gotten in the modern age, I have written this short essay. He exemplifies the sort of man who should have been venerated and made the founder of a world religion, but was not, yet he was the moral superior in my opinion to Jesus–not perfect, but admirable within the context of his own day.

The article seems fair enough as a guide to Musonius.  As a specimen of anti-Christian writing, however, it is not very good.  It is one of the “finger-print” characteristics of hate-writing that those attacked must have no redeeming quality whatever.  They must be all black, all vile.  And this is somewhere at the bottom of the attitudes expressed by Dr. C., for the article is designed to attack the idea of “Jesus the moral leader”.  The ploy of promoting some nobody as the rival of a well-known figure, purely in order to diminish the latter, is an old trick of polemic as we all know, and need not detain us.  We need not suppose that Dr C. actually intends to follow the precepts of Musonius Rufus himself!

But since Dr C. does not in fact take Musonius Rufus as his guide in life, whatever his claims for him, he has no scruple in writing the following passage:

Although many of his views are remarkably progressive for his time, being for example a strong advocate for the education and extension of equal rights to women (Discourses 3 and 4), he regarded homosexuality as unnatural and monstrous, and all forms of recreational sex of any kind as immoral (Discourse 12), and opposed abortion (Discourse 15).

Quite so.  Musonius is “morally superior” to Jesus; but how inferior, how sadly inferior, morally, to the campaigners of the Selfish Generation with their advocacy of fornication, unnatural vice and infanticide!  What value, then, does Dr C. place on Musonius Rufus and his supposed moral superiority?  Sadly not much, it would seem.

Yet Musonius Rufus could have told Dr C. a few things about morality to which he would have been well-advised to listen.  So could Jesus of Nazareth.  So, indeed, could very many of the ancient philosophers.  Few of them would have had much time for the values and ideas of our day, and the worthless people who advocate them.  But the core of Christian teaching is not in its moral precepts.  It is merely that, in our age, it is only the Christians who uphold morality when the influential open their mouths against it.

It is also a little surprising that Dr C. does not seem to know that the moral teachings of Jesus are not unique, and may be found among many authors who lived before the latter walked the earth.  Those who read about the Natural Law tell us that morality is not something invented, but something which is known to all men, in every age, even if they consistently fall short of it.  Cicero On Duties makes fine reading.  Of course carrying the advice out is rather more difficult.

Never mind.  From my own point of view, it was nice to discover another ancient writer.  Let’s have some more examples of what he has to say:

” Musonius,” Herodes said, “ordered a thousand sesterces to be given to a beggar of this sort who was pretending to be a philosopher, and when several people told him that the rascal was a bad and vicious fellow, deserving of nothing good, Musonius, they say, answered with a smile, ‘Well then he deserves money!'”

Anyone who has read Diogenes Laertius will recognise that philosophy was beset with charlatanry.

In this category belongs the man who has relations with his own slave-maid, a thing which some people consider quite without blame, since every master is held to have it in his power to use his slave as he wishes. In reply to this I have just one thing to say: if it seems neither shameful nor out of place for a master to have relations with his own slave, particularly if she happens to be unmarried, let him consider how he would like it if his wife had relations with a male slave. Would it not seem completely intolerable not only if the woman who had a lawful husband had relations with a slave, but even if a woman without a husband should have? And yet surely one will not expect men to be less moral than women, nor less capable of disciplining their desires, thereby revealing the stronger in judgment inferior to the weaker, the rulers to the ruled. In fact, it behooves men to be much better if they expect to be superior to women, for surely if they appear to be less self~controlled they will also be baser characters. What need is there to say that it is an act of licentiousness and nothing less for a master to have relations with a slave? Everyone knows that.

This would be an unusual opinion in antiquity, and the practice of abusing slaves was only criminalised with Constantine.  Indeed even freed slaves were generally thought to owe their masters such “services”, even if the unfortunate Quintus Haterius managed to overstate the case.

He said that he himself would never prosecute anyone for personal injury nor recommend it to anyone else who claimed to be a philosopher. For actually none of the things which people fancy they suffer as personal injuries are an injury or a disgrace to those who experience them, such as being reviled or struck or spit upon. Of these the hardest to bear are blows.

This too has much common sense.  Let me commend, then, the reading of Musonius Rufus.

  1. [1]Text edited by Hense, Teubner, 1905, online at Archive.org here.  English translation by Cora E. Lutz, Musonius Rufus: “The Roman Socrates”, Yale Classical Studies 10, 1947.  Partially online at Archive.org here.  New English translation by Cynthia King, Musonius Rufus: Lectures & Sayings, Createspace 2011.
  2. [2]I owe this information to the BMCR review of Cynthia King’s translation, online here.
  3. [3]R. Hirzel, Der Dialog, Leipzig 1895, II, p.239; via Cora E. Lutz, p.4.
  4. [4]Apollonius of Tyana, V. 19.

Feldman, the Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius and the TLG

Last year Josephus scholar Louis Feldman wrote a tentative article in support of the hitherto fringe idea that Eusebius of Caesarea composed the so-called Testimonium Flavianum found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 18.[1]  On p.26 we find the following statement:

There is one phrase in the Testimonium that, while it has been noted by several scholars, has not been sufficiently emphasized, namely, eis eti te nun (still to this day), referring to the fact that “still to this day,” “the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has not disappeared.”

This brief phrase, I would like to suggest, may–I repeat, may–give us the key to the whole puzzle as to the legitimacy of the Testimonium Flavianum. That key is now available to us because of the compilation during the past few decades of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the complete dictionary of all the Greek words in all the extant Greek literature. In such a thesaurus, one would expect such a phrase to appear not hundreds but thousands of times, and it does appear frequently; but the only writer in this entire collection of many thousands of Greek texts to use this phrase with the words in this order, aside from Josephus, is Eusebius, in whose writings it appears three times. This phrase thus appears to be a favorite of Eusebius and of no one else, at least of extant writers from that period.

Now this seems really rather impressive (to me, anyway). But we must always verify our facts.

Let us do a textual search on the TLG for eis eti te nun.  What do we get?

eis_eti_te_nun

We get precisely four results.  I’m not sure what search term produced “frequent” results.

1. The first result is Josephus himself.  So far so good.

2. The second result is … erm … Eusebius quoting Josephus in the Church History book 1, chapter 11, verse 8; English translation here.  This, of course, is neither here nor there as far as Feldman’s theory is concerned.

3. The third result is from book 2 of the Church History, chapter 1, verse 7; English here.[2]

4. The fourth result is from the Eclogae Propheticae, p.168, l.15.  This is part of Eusebius’ later work, the General Elementary Introduction (to Christianity): “Διὸ καὶ τότε θαυμάζεσθαι αὐτοὺς εἰκὸς ἦν παρὰ τοῖς ἔμφροσιν, καὶ τοὺς λόγους αὐτῶν ἀναγράπτους παρὰ τοῖς ἱερογραμματεῦσι φυλάττεσθαι, εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν παρ’ ὅλῳ τῷ ἔθνει προφήτας γεγονέναι τοῦ Θεοῦ πιστεύεσθαι·”

It is not obvious from this list of data just why this means that Eusebius composed the TF.  So at this point we may ask ourselves what Feldman’s argument was again.  It would be advisable to place the argument in our own words — to avoid the danger of being influenced by rhetoric —  and to make explicit any inferred arguments.

Feldman’s argument would seem to be as follows:

  1. If two writers both use the phrase eis eti te nun, and only two, then this must mean that one has read the other, and that one is copying the other or has composed both.
  2. Josephus uses this phrase once.
  3. Eusebius, who is later, uses it twice (ignoring the verbatim quotation of the TF).
  4. Therefore Josephus did not write it, but Eusebius did.

I think most of us will be perplexed a little at this logic.

The first part of the argument seems very risky in a number of ways.  The phrase is a simple one, and ought to appear, as Feldman acknowledges, all over the place.  But the TLG as it stands reports only 4 results.  It would seem possible, therefore, that the TLG database is not representative of Greek literature or speech.  Since only 1% of ancient literature is preserved, and the TLG contains only a portion of that 1%, it is not impossible that this supposition is correct.  But if the TLG is not comprehensive, then the presence of only 2 authors in the search means nothing; only that the TF is not comprehensive.  In regard of completeness, it is suspicious that no other quotations of the TF appear in the results.  Is it really the case that no later Greek author quotes the TF?

Likewise a phrase of 4 words is not much of a fingerprint.

Finally, arguments from parallels are always dangerous, because trivial parallels can be mistaken for significant fingerprints.  They can arise in a great number of ways, and do not necessarily involve connection, never mind derivation.  For instance literature derives from oral speech.  Phrases appear in multiple places in modern literature, not because the authors know each other but because of some other source.  The popularisation of the term “chillaxing” by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 will undoubtedly have left its mark in the literary record; but woe betide any subsequent scholar who draws conclusions from comparing literature, rather than seeking its real origin.

The fourth part of the argument is a non-sequitur.  If we allow a connection, it may arise in a number of ways.

The first possibility is the simplest.  Let us suppose that Josephus wrote those words.  Let us suppose that Eusebius copied them for the HE I, liked the phrase, and, having it in mind, repeated it when he composed book II, and, later, in the GEI.  What could be more natural?  What need is there to suppose anything other than copying?

There is another, many-headed alternative.  For this we need to consider the second quotation of the TF by Eusebius, in the Demonstratio Evangelica, book 3, chapter 5.  This does not appear in the search because, simply, it has a different text: “ὅθεν εἰσέτι νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦδε τῶν Χριστιανῶν οὐκ ἐπέλειπεν τὸ φῦλον.”

Why are there two versions?  Is Eusebius quoting from memory and tripping up, or using different copies of the text? — for how else can the same quotation have two different wordings?

But if he is quoting from memory a favourite saying then why does he get it wrong?  This, surely, is evidence against the “favourite” argument.

If he has access to copies with two different versions, then of course there is a textual problem at this point with Josephus in transmission, which means that arguing from a parallel in the text is pointless because in this case we don’t know what the text is.

We might also consider the well-known phenomenon of harmonisation.  This is most familiar to us from the New Testament and the Lord’s Prayer where — I am told — the version in Luke tends to become assimilated to that in Matthew in the manuscripts, as the former was more familiar.

Now Eusebius HE is a common text.  Josephus’ Antiquities 11-20 is comparatively a rare one.  The TF was so well known by itself that it intrudes into Josephus Jewish War.  The conditions are right for assimilation in transmission.  Do we know for sure that, far from Eusebius composing the TF, the copyist of the 9th century ancestor of all our modern mss. of Antiquities 11-20 did not harmonise the text with the HE, conciously or otherwise?

We do have evidence that assimilation did occur in versions of the TF.  Jerome quotes in Latin in De viris illustribus a somewhat different version of the text.  But I am told that in the Greek translation of DVI, someone has “corrected” the TF to the version found in Eusebius HE and Josephus.

On the other hand, the DE is also a rare text.  Evidently harmonisation was not that commonplace.

But if we do assume a connection, and we allow for harmonisation, then it is equally likely that the Josephan TF is merely a scribal copy of the Eusebian version in the HE, itself probably corrupt, and that the real text is lost.  If Eusebius (or his literary assistants – we must remember that there are problems with the quotations in the HE) did write down the TF from memory, and did so differently in the HE and DE, then of course errors of memory are possible and Eusebian phrasing may be introduced by a normal text-critical path.

Some will also feel rather concerned at the tiny data volumes – 4 words, 2 quotations – involved.  Are these numbers large enough to be statistically significant?  Databases can tell us much, but they can also mislead if used without awareness of the pitfalls, and without devising a way to exclude false positives.

In short, the argument put forward by Prof. Feldman is interesting but unconvincing.  The data does not require the hypothesis of Eusebian composition in order to explain it.

UPDATE (17/2/17): In a new article, atheist Richard Carrier complains here that, for the purposes of the theory, I should have searched for eis eti nun instead of the exact phrase in the text of Josephus, eis eti te nun.  In fact I just searched for the “brief phrase” that Feldman gave, and I didn’t look further for ways to make it work.  But let us by all means discuss this in a separate post when I have had a chance to look at the TLG.

  1. [1]Louis H. Feldman, On the authenticity of the “Testimonium Flavianum” attributed to Josephus, in: E. Carlebach and J. Schacter (ed), New Perspectives on Jewish Christian Relations, Brill, 2012, 13-30.  Accessible on Google Books Preview here.
  2. [2]7 When he came to that place he healed Abgarus by the word of Christ; and after bringing all the people there into the right attitude of mind by means of his works, and leading them to adore the power of Christ, he made them disciples of the Saviour’s teaching. And from that time down to the present the whole city of the Edessenes has been devoted to the name of Christ, offering no common proof of the beneficence of our Saviour toward them also.