Note on the Testimonium Flavianum
Joseph, son of Matthias, was born a few years after the crucifixion of Christ, during the first year of the reign of Caius Caesar (Caligula)[I], or 37 AD. Through his mother he derived from the Hasmonaean bloodline, a sacerdotal lineage which had included high-priests who were also kings. As evidence of Josephus’ rank within Jewish Society, he was selected in his twenty-sixth year[II] as a delegate to appear before Caesar in Rome in 63 AD. There he became friends with Nero’s wife, Poppea, through whose patronage he was able to accomplish his mission. Joseph returned to Judea in the midst of the Jewish uprising against Rome.
Joseph eventually found himself in command of the Jewish armies for the region of Galilee, where he fought Roman Legions under the command of Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian). Captured alive at Jotapata, Joseph gave a prophecy to this Roman Commander that both Vespasian and his son Titus would reign as Caesar[III]. In his various writings, Joseph repeatedly claimed to have experienced such prophetic dreams and visions[IV]. When the prophecy was fulfilled and Vespasian was indeed elevated to the rank of Caesar, he rewarded Joseph with an apartment in the new Emperor’s own house, as well as Roman citizenship and an annual pension[V]. It was at this time that Joseph adopted his benefactor’s family name and became known as Flavius Josephus.