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Messianic claimants (9)



Theudas (about 45 CE)

Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98 and Acts of the apostles 5.36.
Story: Between 44 and 46 CE, one Theudas, about whom Josephus is predictably negative, caused some consternation with what may have been a claim to be the Messiah.
It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas,  persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.
[(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]
Comment: Theudas certainly claimed to be the Messiah. The main argument is that one of the messianic prophecies foretold that the Messiah and his followers were to his stay in the wilderness. Theudas' claim to be able to divide the river is a clear allusion to Joshua 3.14-17, which has everything to do with the redemption of Israel. Another argument is that the author of the Acts of the apostles mentions Theudas in a messianic context (quoted above).
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