Jesus Finds Philip


The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.”
– John 1:43​

This one is great, it's like a first century version of “Where's Waldo”. There are only a few short mentions of Philip in “The Wars of the Jews” during the time of the war, so if you don't have Ctrl-F, then just like Jesus it might also take you a whole day of going through all of Josephus' descriptions of Galilee before you can find Philip (I won't highlight it;):

“Now this lake of Gennesareth {Sea of Galilee;} is so called from the country adjoining to it. Its breadth is forty furlongs, and its length one hundred and forty; its waters are sweet, and very agreeable for drinking, for they are finer than the thick waters of other fens; the lake is also pure, and on every side ends directly at the shores, and at the sand; it is also of a temperate nature when you draw it up, and of a more gentle nature than river or fountain water, and yet always cooler than one could expect in so diffuse a place as this is. Now when this water is kept in the open air, it is as cold as that snow which the country people are accustomed to make by night in summer. There are several kinds of fish in it, different both to the taste and the sight from those elsewhere. It is divided into two parts by the river Jordan. Now Panium is thought to be the fountain of Jordan, but in reality it is carried thither after an occult manner from the place called Phiala: this place lies as you go up to Trachonitis, and is a hundred and twenty furlongs from Cesarea, and is not far out of the road on the right hand; and indeed it hath its name of Phiala [vial or bowl] very justly, from the roundness of its circumference, as being round like a wheel; its water continues always up to its edges, without either sinking or running over. And as this origin of Jordan was formerly not known, it was discovered so to be when Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis; for he had chaff thrown into Phiala, and it was found at Paninto, where the ancients thought the fountain-head of the river was, whither it had been therefore carried [by the waters]. As for Panium itself, its natural beauty had been improved by the royal liberality of Agrippa, and adorned at his expenses. Now Jordan's visible stream arises from this cavern, and divides the marshes and fens of the lake Semechonitis; when it hath run another hundred and twenty furlongs, it first passes by the city Julias, and then passes through the middle of the lake Gennesareth; after which it runs a long way over a desert, and then makes its exit into the lake Asphaltitis [Dead Sea].”
Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, 10:7​

Right in the middle of all these great war stories Josephus takes us on this long, boring detour through Galilee and the only interesting thing we find is this short mention of Philip. John's passage is mocking Josephus' style through mimicry: first Jesus talks at length without any apparent purpose, then Thomas gets impatient (representing the readers' impatience at Josephus landscape description) and even Philip appears out of the page, getting bored to death by this verbosity and desperately wants to see Vespasian in action, and finally comes Jesus' response to their impatience, mocking the way Josephus usually reacts to critics of his work:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest {we're from Germany, we've never been there;}; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us {Enough! Where's Vespasian, we want some action!;}. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
– John 14:1-12​

This humor is sometimes hilarious, Doubting Thomas {the Germans, as we will see later;} is like, “How can we know what you're talking about, we've never been to Israel, I don't know where you're going with this” and even Philip is jumping up out of the long description of Galilee to say “Lord, show us the Father already, this is boring, let's have some action!” Especially considering it is two thousand years old but their humor still works well even today. But, seriously, I would have said you can't make this stuff up, but apparently someone did. However, it is also undeniable, because someone named Philip is mentioned only once in Book IV and twice in Book III and only a few times in the whole New Testament, and two of those stories match perfectly together in a humorous way to mock Josephus.

“…But if thou art so hardy as to affirm, that thou hast written that history better than all the rest, why didst thou not publish thy history while the emperors Vespasian and Titus, the generals in that warwere all alive? for thou hast had it written these twenty years, and then mightest thou have had the testimony of thy accuracy. But now when these men are no longer with us, and thou thinkest thou canst not be contradicted, thou venturest to publish it…”
– The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 1:65​

That is a good question! Why didn't the authors of the New Testament publish their history when Vespasian and Titus were still alive, or maybe sixty years early when their country was still alive?

“This digression I have been obliged to make out of necessity, as being desirous to expose the vanity of those that profess to write histories; and I suppose I have sufficiently declared that this custom of transmitting down the histories of ancient times hath been better preserved by those nations which are called Barbarians, than by the Greeks themselves… I shall also demonstrate that such as cast reproaches upon our nation do it very unjustly."
– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book I :11​


This one is a good example of why computers have difficulties finding matches, because it is not simply matching a few words between passages but requires you to read it, understand it, imagine the whole situation and understand the irony, something computers are terrible at doing. In John 1, the joke is that it will take you a day of reading through Josephus' description of Galilee before you can find Philip, because Josephus' descriptions are so damn long and boring, this one only having one single reference to an actual person which you might miss if you don't have Control-F or some other search function. In John 14, you see the same joke, where Jesus going on this long meaningless tangent "In my fathers house (the Roman empire) are many mansions... I am the light and the truth and the way, no man come unto the father but by me... henceforth, ye know me... blah blah blah" and then even Philip is getting bored of all this and jumps out of the page of the description of Galilee and yells frustratedly "God damn it! Lord! Show us the Father {Vespasian;} already and it is enough! We don't care about your stupid descriptions of Galilee, that whole country is desolate anyway". It is hilarious, but you have to be able to understand the joke, for unto some it is given to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of God and to others it is not, hehe.


Active Member
Besides Verbatim all parallels tend to have shared concepts - but what are the concepts here other than just 2 verses being boring to read? That's how I would explain a parallel to somebody who is having a hard time seeing a deeper connection where verbatim is lacking.


The joke is in the fact that it took Jesus a day of going through Galilee in order to find Jesus. If it is literally walking through Galilee then this is not so strange, but since the Gospels reference the works of Josephus, this can only be taken ironically, since it also took me about a day of reeding through Josephus' description of Galilee looking for anything interesting in the story and all I found was some Philip guy who only gets a few side mentions and doesn't do anything very interesting, either in The Wars of the Jews or in the New Testament. But what makes it truly hilarious is the second time that the book of John makes fun of that passage in chapter 14 when even he is jumping out of the page and saying "this is boring, show us Vespasian and his great war actions!" It is both of these jokes together that makes the identification of who Philip is obvious. Besides just his name.

Maybe this parable will help too:

A Blind Man Healed at Bethsaida
“AND now the seditious rushed into the royal palace, into which many had put their effects, because it was so strong, and drove the Romans away from it. They also slew all the people that had crowded into it, who were in number about eight thousand four hundred, and plundered them of what they had. They also took two of the Romans alive; the one was a horseman, and the other a footman. They then cut the throat of the footman, and immediately had him drawn through the whole city, as revenging themselves upon the whole body of the Romans by this one instance. But the horseman said he had somewhat to suggest to them in order to their preservation; whereupon he was brought before Simon; but he having nothing to say when he was there, he was delivered to Ardalas, one of his commanders, to be punished, who bound his hands behind him, and put a riband over his eyes, and then brought him out over against the Romans, as intending to cut off his head. But the man prevented that execution, and ran away to the Romans, and this while the Jewish executioner was drawing out his sword. Now when he was gotten away from the enemy, Titus could not think of putting him to death; but because he deemed him unworthy of being a Roman soldier any longer, on account that he had been taken alive by the enemy, he took away his arms, and ejected him out of the legion whereto he had belonged; which, to one that had a sense of shame, was a penalty severer than death itself.”
– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, 7:1​

“And he cometh to Bethsaida {house of hunting;}; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
– Mark 8:22-26​

“… He also at the same time gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire, and ordered that they should bring timber together, and raise banks against the city; and when he had parted his army into three parts, in order to set about those works, he placed those that shot darts and the archers in the midst of the banks that were then raising; before whom he placed those engines that threw javelins, and darts, and stones, that he might prevent the enemy from sallying out upon their works, and might hinder those that were upon the wall from being able to obstruct them. So the trees were now cut down immediately, and the suburbs left naked. But now while the timber was carrying to raise the banks, and the whole army was earnestly engaged in their works, the Jews were not, however, quiet; and it happened that the people of Jerusalem, who had been hitherto plundered and murdered, were now of good courage, and supposed they should have a breathing time, while the others were very busy in opposing their enemies without the city, and that they should now be avenged on those that had been the authors of their miseries, in case the Romans did but get the victory.”
– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book V, 6:2​

“And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
– Mark 8:22-26​

Do you see what I mean?


“…There have been indeed some bad men, who have attempted to calumniate my history, and took it to be a kind of scholastic performance for the exercise of young men. A strange sort of accusation and calumny this!…”
– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book I, 1:10​

“…He adds another Grecian fable, in order to reproach us…”
– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II :8​

“Nay, this miracle or piety derides us further, and adds the following pretended facts to his former fable…”
– Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book I, 11:10​


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
– Matthew 13:34​

“Jesus said, "The (Father's) kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And [when] he died he left it to his [son]. The son [did] not know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, [discovered] the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."”
– Thomas 1:109​