In 1972 Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem released the results of a study on an Arabic manuscript containing Josephus’ statement about Jesus. It includes a different and briefer rendering of the entire passage, including changes in the key words listed above: At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.^20

Of the three disputed portions, none remains unchanged. The initial problematic statement “if it be lawful to call him a man” has been dropped completely, recounting only that Jesus was a wise man. The words “he was a doer of wonderful works” have also been deleted. Instead of the words “He was (the) Christ” we find “he was perhaps the messiah.” The phrase “he appeared to them the third day” now reads “they (the disciples) reported that he had appeared to them,” which is an entirely true statement which was voiced by the first century eyewitnesses. Lastly, the statement that “the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him” has been drastically reduced to “concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders,” which concerns the messiah and possibly not even Jesus, according to Josephus. Therefore, while some words are completely deleted, others are qualified by “perhaps” and “reported.”