I continually hear people suggest that the Testimonium Flavianum, that is Josephus’ testimony about Jesus, is only accepted by evangelicals. Even to suggest that Josephus had a core statement later augmented by Christians is an evangelical mistake at best or deception at worst. Is that true?
I think it is fair to say that Bart Ehrman is not an evangelical Christian. I think it would be even fair to say that Ehrman has an anti-Christian bias. What does Ehrman have to say about Josephus?
It is certainly worth knowing that the most prominent Jewish historian of the first century knew at least something about Jesus—specifically that he was a teacher who allegedly did wonderful deeds, had a large following, and was condemned to be crucified by Pontius Pilate. This account confirms some of the most important aspects of Jesus’ life and death as recounted in the Gospels. (Jesus Interrupted, p. 150)
Here is the Testimonium, and the sections in square brackets are the Christian additions. Notice how much we still have.
At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man [if indeed one should call him a man, for] he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. [He was the Messiah.] And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. [For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him.] And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out. (Antiquities 18.3.3)
Interesting. Interesting, indeed.