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Dating John's Death By Josephus




Something that I ought to add to this little posting is the manner in which we arrive at the dating of John’s death. Josephus appears to imply that John’s death occurred in the year 36 CE, which is 6 years later than given in the NT and well after the accepted date of Jesus’ crucifixion. The dating hinges on the battle between Aretas, King of Petra and Herod. This battle was the result of two different occurrences, the first being a border dispute between Judea and Petra and the second being the divorce of Aretas’ daughter by Herod, in order to marry his brother’s ex-wife Herodias. Daddy Aretas did not take kindly to the Judean “cad” kicking his little girl to the curb for some “painted floozy” that also happened to be a relative by marriage. Josephus reported that the quarrel with Aretas sprang up at about the time Herod’s brother Phillip died (34CE) and that his other brother (Agrippa0 had gone to Rome in 36 CE (the year before the death of Tiberius). Soon after the battle between Herod and Aretas (which totally destroyed Herod’s army), Tiberius ordered the Syrian Governor Vitellius to attack Aretas, whereupon he marched through Judea with his army, pausing in Jerusalem to placate the Jews and to sacrifice at a festival (probably Passover). On the fourth day of his stay in Jerusalem, Vitellius learned of Tiberius’ death on the 16th of March 37 CE. This would put the battle between Aretas and Herod in the winter of 35/36. Indications are that the action by Vitellius against Aretas must have occurred between his campaign against the Parthians, at the behest of Tiberius, and the death of Tiberius. According to Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius, the Parthian war occurred in 35/36 CE. Ironically, Herod assisted Vitellius in negotiations between Tiberius and the Parthian king, Pharaates. This Vitellius is the same Vitellius that removed Pontius Pilate and send him back to Rome sometime in 36CE.



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