Several recent studies have advanced the thesis that ancient Judaism and the emerging Christian movement took up the Middle Platonic trichotomic model of the human being. This article analyzes all instances of πνεῦμα in the works of Josephus. All passages in which Josephus talks about πνεῦμα in relation to living people can most plausibly be interpreted in the sense of “breath.” In addition, he uses the lexeme for demons, for the divine spirit and for wind, i.e., in the entire breadth of common language usage. A philosophical concept of πνεῦμα cannot be identified and there are no traces of a Jewish adaption of Middle Platonic anthropology in Josephus. He does not use πνεῦμα to denote a connection between human beings and the divine, nor does he have a πνεῦμα/ψυχή/σῶμα-model of humanity.
Paul’s statement that seeds die after sowing in the soil before they germinate is often assessed as a commonly held view of antiquity. Some scholars even claim that it conforms to the scientific standards of ancient philosophy. This paper examines the sources cited as evidence for this claim and shows that it is untenable. Paul’s formulation is very unusual. His idea that seeds die does not make sense on the background of ancient botany. Similar, albeit not identical ideas can be found only in the context of some ancient mystery cults. It is difficult to assess how wide-spread they were.