I was going to save this post for a rainy day, but I am so excited about my new blog that I am in the mood to post it now. Let’s hope that I come up with new thoughts for future posts!
Allow me to give some background information for my question. On another forum, a skeptic argued that Ezekiel made a false prophecy about Tyre and Egypt. Ezekiel prophesied that Tyre and Egypt would fall to the Babylonians, that did not happen, and so Ezekiel was technically a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18:22 (or so the skeptic argued).
I thought about this issue some more when I was doing my daily reading and meditation on the Book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 43 and 46, Jeremiah predicts that Babylon under Nebuchadrezzar will conquer Egypt. My HarperCollins Study Bible, my Jewish Study Bible, and my Anchor Bible Dictionary all tell me that this did not happen, for Nebuchadrezzar failed in his attempt at conquest. On what do they base this claim? They do not say. But I did a search on the Internet (not that I rely on the Internet alone for my scholarly endeavors), and I found the claim that the Babylonians did not record that they successfully invaded Egypt. For many scholars, such an omission would indicate that they most likely did not, since conquerors in the ancient world tended to boast about their accomplishments.
But here is the interesting part: Josephus says that Nebuchadrezzar did succeed in his endeavor (Antiquities 10:182, 195). One may argue that Josephus was basing his account on the biblical prediction, but, in Against Apion 1:132-133, he says that Berosus presents Nebuchadrezzar as a conqueror of Egypt. According to Josephus, Berosus was a Chaldean who followed the ancient records of his nation in composing a history of Babylonia.
But the plot thickens: I can envision someone saying that neither Josephus nor Berosus can be trusted, since they lived long after the time of Nebuchadrezzar (at least that was a possible objection that entered my mind). But, in an article on “Edom” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, scholar J.R. Bartlett uses Josephus (along with other sources) to draw conclusions about the relationship between Babylon and Edom in the sixth century B.C.E. (ABD, volume 2, p. 293). Josephus lived long after that time, and yet at least one biblical scholar seems to think that his works can be helpful for biblical studies (at least on this occasion).
I have not done research to see how many biblical scholars use Josephus, but my question is: Is it acceptable? Why or why not?