Talk:Flavius Josephus

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Revision as of 02:19, 3 November 2009 by Jaban (Talk | contribs)
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Let's move all the content on the Testimonium to the it's own page - and leave this page as just a bio of Flavius, with a link to the Testimonium. - Sans Deity 02:07, 22 September 2006 (CDT)

Life Expectancy

An average life expectancy of 25 years does not mean you've had two "back to back" generations, so to say. It's not true that everyone who witnessed the event of AD 25 is dead by AD 50, and that by AD 75 it's only their grandchildren repeating a now third-hand story. That's just not how it works.

The average life expectancy of 25 was largely due to youth mortality. According to that U of T chart, 35% of people died before 15; if you made it to 15, your average life expectancy was 52.

But that's not the end of it, either. 10% of people make it past 60, and 2% make it past 70. Half of those make it as far as 76.

The potential for eyewitnesses isn't the problem. --Jaban 10:06, 31 October 2009 (CST)

This is true. I actually did realise the back to back generation thing was not accurate as a logical argument, but more of an analogy to put the timespan into perspective. As you point out the high infant mortality rate significantly skews the life expectancy estimate, Josephus could have heard testimonies in his 20s and 30s, and regardless the main argument that we still have no first hand accounts stands on its own.
However, if theists choose to play the whole no smoke with out fire card, that the stories had to come from somewhere so there is still some substance to Josephus testimony. I still think it would be worth noting that this being the case, life expectancy was much shorter than it was today. The time span of 60-65 years between the events in question and the published passage poses a much larger historical gap that 60-65 years would today. Even taking your the best case scenario that 1% of people lived to 75 (and i suspect that much in the way infant mortality skews the mean that this figure would be more or less limited to the healthy, well fed, upper class which probably didn't associate with itinerant street preachers), that would still mean that if they were 10-15 at the age of Jesus crusifiction, they'd still be dying off around or before the time of josephus' publication. Also Josephus had previously published texts. As far as i know we have no reason to believe he heard these claims long before c. 94 CE
I know its not a logical argument so much as analogy, but this counter-apologetics wiki whilst relying greatly on logical syllogisms is overall quite conversational in nature. I'll leave it to your judgement, but i don't think pointing out the amount of generational and lateral transfer the information would likely have to pass through in a 60-65 year gap before being recorded by Josephus would necessarily hurt any, especially were further no smoke without fire arguments may arise. - Murphy 07:02, 01 November 2009 (AUS EST)
My point was not over whether or not Josephus had access to contemporary sources, it was over whether or not the average lifespan proves that he couldn't have. And it doesn't. It is reasonable to believe that there could have been a few eyewitnesses who survived long enough for him to speak to them, perhaps years before he wrote Antiquities, even if 99.99% of them did not.
The argument about lateral transfer and many generations making it less likely what he heard was literally true is a valid point. But it doesn't make it impossible. You're opening the door for Christians to argue over what might be possible rather than focusing on the evidence for what actually happened.
In my opinion, you have a stronger argument if you conceded that he could have had contemporary sources, and then attempt to show that he didn't. --Jaban 01:19, 3 November 2009 (CST)
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