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William Whiston Study Archive

 Dr. Whitby well observes, no small part of the evidence for the truth of the Christian religion does depend upon the ‘completions’ of the prophecies, and it is believed ‘Josephus’ history‘ furnishes a record of ‘their exact completions’

William Whiston

Fellow of Cambridge college, Clare; Newton’s successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Pioneer of  geology, and Creation Science; Expelled for speculative and controversial theology

(On the Significance of A.D. 70)
“Josephus speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans’ side, and made use of them now for the destruction of the Jews, which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Saviour himself afterwards had clearly foretold.

See Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 64, etc. (Wars of the Jews, VI,II,1)

“That these calamities of the Jews, who were our Savior’s murderers, were to be the greatest that had ever been s nee the beginning of the world, our Savior had directly foretold, Matthew 24:21Mark 13:19Luke 21:2324; and that they proved to be such accordingly, Josephus is here a most authentic witness.” (Wars Preface, Footnotes, 5)

(On The Fulfillment of Deut. 28:68)
“This was an eminent completion of God’s ancient threatening by Moses, that if they apostatized from obedience to his laws, they should be “sold unto their enemies for bondmen and bondwomen.” (Deut xviii. 68.) But one thing here is peculiarly remarkable, that Moses adds, – Though they should be “sold” for slaves, yet “no man should buy them;” i.e either they should have none to redeem them from this sale into slavery; or rather that the slaves to be sold should be more than were the purchasers of them, and so they should be sold for little or nothing; which is what Josephus here affirms to have been the case at this time.” (Wars of the Jews, VI,VIII,2)

(On Daniel’s Seventy Weeks)
“How general the reference of the prophecy then was to a future destruction of the city, appears from the express observation of Josephus, that even the zealots had no doubt of the correctness of this interpretation. The same interpretation is found also in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Gemarah. (P. 215.)

“That these seditious Jews were the direct occasions of their own destruction, and of the conflagration of their city and temple, and that Titus earnestly and constantly laboured to save both, is here and everywhere most evident in Josephus.” (Wars of the Jews, VI,II,4)

“This is a very remarkable day indeed, the seventeenth of Panemus, [Tammuz,] A.D. 70, when, according to Daniel’s prediction, 606 years before, the Romans “In half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” Dan. ix. 27; for from the month of February, A.D. 66, about which time Vespasian entered on this war, to this very time, was just three years and a half.

See Bishop Lloyd’s Tables of Chronology, published by Mr. Marshall, on this year. Nor is it to be omitted, what year nearly confirms this duration of the war, that four years before the war begun was somewhat above seven years five months before the destruction of Jerusalem, ch. 5. sect. 3.” (Wars of the Jews, VI,II,1)

(On The Famines in the First Century)
“5. This further account of the benefactions of Izates and Helena to the Jerusalem Jews which Josephus here promises is, I think, no where performed by him in his present works. But of this terrible famine itself in Judea, take Dr. Hudson’s note here: — “This (says he) is that famine foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28, which happened when Claudius was consul the fourth time; and not that other which happened when Claudius was consul the second time, and Cesina was his colleague, as Scaliger says upon Eusebius, p. 174.” Now when Josephus had said a little afterward, ch. 5. sect. 2, that “Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus as procurator,” he immediately subjoins, that” under these procurators there happened a great famine in Judea.” Whence it is plain that this famine continued for many years, on account of its duration under these two procurators. Now Fadus was not sent into Judea till after the death of king Agrippa, i.e. towards the latter end of the 4th year of Claudius; so that this famine foretold by Agabus happened upon the 5th, 6th, and 7th years of Claudius, as says Valesius on Euseb. II. 12. Of this famine also, and queen Helena’s supplies, and her monument, see Moses Churenensis, p. 144, 145, where it is observed in the notes that Pausanias mentions that her monument also. ” (Antiquities Footnotes, p. 2049-2050)

(On The False Prophets in the First Century)
“Of these Jewish impostors and false prophets, with many other circumstances and miseries of the Jews, till their utter destruction, foretold by our Savior, see Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 58-75. Of this Egyptian impostor, and the number of his followers, in Josephus, see Acts 21:38. (Antiquities Footnotes, p. 2053)

(On Matthew 24:15, The Abomination of Desolation)
“Havercamp says here :- “This is a remarkable place; and Tertullian truly says that the entire religion of the Roman camp almost consisted in worshipping the ensigns, in swearing by the ensigns, and in preferring the ensigns before all the [other] gods.” (Wars of the Jews, VI,VI,1)

“There may another very important, and very providential, reason be here assigned for this strange and foolish retreat of Cestius; which, if Josephus had been now a Christian, he might probably have taken notice of also; and that is, the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction and caution given them by Christ about thirty-three years and a half before, that “when they should see the abomination of desolation” [the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns, ready to lay Jerusalem desolate] “stand where it ought not;” or, “in the holy place;” or, “when they should see Jerusalem any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential, compassed with armies;” they should then “flee to the mound conduct than this retreat of Cestius visible during this whole rains.” By complying with which those Jewish Christians fled the siege of Jerusalem; which yet was providentially such a “great to the mountains of Perea, and escaped this destruction. See tribulation, as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time; no, Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 69, 70. Nor was there, perhaps, nor ever should be.”–Ibid. p. 70, 71.” (Footnote to Wars, II, XIX, 6,7)

(On II Thessalonians 2:2)
“{Greek} is here, and in many other places of Josephus, immediately at hand; and is to be so expounded.    2 Thess. ii. 2, where some falsely pretended that St. Paul had said, either by word of mouth or by an epistle, or by both, “that the day of Christ was immediately at hand;” for still St. Paul did then plainly think that day not many years future.” (Whiston’s Josephus, Ant. bk. xviii. c. ix. sec. 2)

“Since Josephus still uses the Syro-Macedonian month Xanthicus for the Jewish month Nisan, this eighth, or, as Nicephorus reads it, this ninth of Xanthicus or Nisan was almost a week before the Passover, on the fourteenth; about which time we learn from St. John that many used to go ‘out of the country to Jerusalem to purify themselves,’ John 11:55, with 12:1; in agreement with Josephus also, B. V. ch. 3. sect. 1. And it might well be, that in the sight of these this extraordinary light might appear.”  (6,5,3)

(On The Relationship Between Rome and Jerusalem)
“22. We have here one eminent example of Nero’s mildness and goodness in his government towards the Jews, during the first five years of his reign, so famous in antiquity; we have perhaps another in Josephus’s own Life, sect. 3; and a third, though of a very different nature here, in sect. 9, just before. However, both the generous acts of kindness were obtained of Nero by his queen Poppea, who was a religious lady, and perhaps privately a Jewish proselyte, and so were not owing entirely to Nero’s own goodness.” (Antiquities Footnotes, Book XX, Ch. 8 p. 2055)

Norman Bentwich
“A little later Whiston, professor of mathematics at Cambridge, published an English translation of all the works, which is still serviceable, but not critical, together with some dissertations, which are neither serviceable nor critical.” (Josephus)

“Upon this passage Whiston, the translator of Josephus, has the following significant note :—“ Josephus here uses the solemn New Testament words, parousia and epiphany, the presence and appearance of God, for the extraordinary manifestation of His power and providence to Petronius, by sending rain in time of distress, immediately upon the resolution he had taken to preserve the temple unpolluted” (The Lord the Spirit: Showing the Error of expecting any Second Personal Coming of Christ)


Whiston was born to Josiah Whiston and Katherine Rosse at Norton-juxta-Twycross, in Leicestershire, of which village his father was rector. He was educated privately, partly on account of the delicacy of his health, and partly that he might act as amanuensis to his father, who had lost his sight. He studied at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Tamworth. After his father’s death, he entered at Clare College, Cambridge as a sizar on June 30, 1686, where he applied himself to mathematical study, where he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (1690), and M.A. (1693), and was elected Fellow in 1691 and probationary senior Fellow in 1693. William Lloyd ordained Whiston at Lichfield in 1693. In 1694, claiming ill health, he resigned his tutorship at Clare to Richard Laughton, chaplain to John Moore (1646-1714), the bishop of Norwich, and swapped positions with him. He now divided his time between Norwich, Cambridge and London. In 1698 Bishop More awarded him the living of Lowestoft where he became Rector. In 1699 he resigned his Fellowship of Clare College and left in order to marry Ruth, daughter of George Antrobus, Whiston’s headmaster at Tamworth school.

His A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of All Things (1696), an articulation of creationism and flood geology which held that the global flood of Noah had been caused by a comet, obtained the praise of both Newton and Locke, the latter of whom classed the author among those who, if not adding much to our knowledge, “At least bring some new things to our thoughts.” He was an early advocate, along with Edmond Halley, of the periodicity of comets; he also held that comets were responsible for past catastrophes in earth’s history. In 1701 he resigned his Rectorship to become Isaac Newton’s substitute as Lucasian lecturer at Cambridge, whom he succeeded in 1702. Here he engaged in joint research with his junior colleague Roger Cotes, appointed with Whiston’s patronage to the Plumian professorship in 1706.


A portrait of Whiston with a diagram demonstrating his theories of cometary catastrophism best described in A New Theory of the Earth

In 1707 he was Boyle lecturer. For several years Whiston continued to write and preach both on mathematical and theological subjects with considerable success; but his study of the Apostolic Constitutions had convinced him that Arianism was the creed of the early church. For Whiston, to form an opinion and to publish it were things almost simultaneous. His heterodoxy soon became notorious, and in 1710 he was deprived of his professorship and expelled from the university after a well-publicized hearing. The rest of his life was spent in incessant controversy — theological, mathematical, chronological, and miscellaneous. Because of his Arianism, Whiston was never invited to be a member of the Royal Society, due probably to Newton’s feelings about him after he published his unorthodox views. Whiston was permitted, however, to lecture to the Society frequently.

He vindicated his estimate of the Apostolical Constitutions and the Arian views he had derived from them in his Primitive Christianity Revived (5 vols., 1711-1712). In 1713 he produced a reformed liturgy, and soon afterwards founded a society for promoting primitive Christianity, lecturing in support of his theories in halls and coffee-houses at London, Bath, and Royal Tunbridge Wells. In 1714, Whiston was instrumental in the establishment of the Board of Longitude and for the next forty years made persevering efforts to solve the longitude problem. He gave courses of demonstration lectures on astronomical and physical phenomena and engaged in many religious controversies. Whiston produced one of the first isoclinic maps of southern England in 1719 and 1721. One of the most valuable of his books, the Life of Samuel Clarke, appeared in 1730.

While considered heretical on many points, he was a firm believer in supernatural Christianity, and frequently took the field in defense of prophecy and miracle, including anointing the sick and touching for the king’s evil. His dislike of rationalism in religion also made him one of the numerous opponents of Benjamin Hoadly’s Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament. He held that Song of Solomon was apocryphal and that the Book of Baruch was not. He was fervent in his views of ecclesiastical government and discipline, derived from the Apostolical Constitutions, on the ecclesiastical authorities. He challenged the teachings of Athanasius. He challenged Sir Isaac Newton’s Biblical chronological system with success; but he himself lost not only time but money in an endeavour to solve the problem of longitude. In 1736 he caused widespread anxiety among London’s citizen when he predicted the world would end on October 16th of that year because a comet would hit the earth; the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake, had to officially deny this prediction to ease the public.

Of all his singular opinions the best known is his advocacy of clerical monogamy, immortalized in The Vicar of Wakefield. Of all his labours the most useful is his translation of the works of Josephus (1737), with notes and dissertations, still often reprinted to the present day. His last “famous discovery, or rather revival of Dr Giles Fletcher, the Elder’s,” which he mentions in his autobiography with infinite complacency, was the identification of the Tatars with the lost tribes of Israel. In 1745 he published his Primitive New Testament. About the same time (1747) he finally left the Anglican communion for the Baptist, leaving the church literally as well as figuratively by quitting it as the clergyman began to read the Athanasian Creed. He had a happy family life and died in Lyndon Hall, Rutland, at the home of his son-in-law, Samuel Barker on 22 August 1752. He was survived by his children Sarah, William, George, and John. Whiston left a memoir (3 vols., 1749-1750) which deserves more attention than it has received, both for its characteristic individuality and as a storehouse of curious anecdotes and illustrations of the religious and moral tendencies of the age. It does not, however, contain any account of the proceedings taken against him at Cambridge for his antitrinitarianism, these having been published separately at the time.” (Wikipedia)

Date: 16 Oct 2003
Time: 04:53:46

Trying to find out age of book out of William Whiston’s library. “The Works of Flavius Josephus”  [TDD: 1737]

Date:  02 Nov 2003
Time: 11:02:40

How do you find out the date of a leather bound book entitled “Josephus’s Complete Works”? The book was published by The Arundel Print, New York. There is no publishing date listed.

Date:  10 Sep 2004
Time:  12:16:52

josephus Flavius publishers: Holt Rinehart & Winston Publishing date please

Date: 22 Nov 2007
Time: 12:26:57

Any one interested in purchasing of Whiston’s 1711 “An Historical Preface to Primitive Christianity ribib’d…”?

David G. Sox, chesahbinu@comcast.net