Now, my father Matthias was not only eminent on account of is nobility, but had a higher commendation on account of his righteousness, and was in great reputation in Jerusalem, the greatest city we have. I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother; and I made mighty proficiency in the improvements of my learning, and appeared to have both a great memory and understanding. Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law. And when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trim of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three: - The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that Sadducees, and the third that of the Essens, as we have frequently told you; for I thought that by this means I might choose the best, if I were once acquainted with them all; so I contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great difficulties, and went through them all. Nor did I content myself with these trials only; but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years. (3) So when I had accomplished my desires, I returned back to the city, being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which is of kin to the sect of the Stoics, as the Greeks call them.
(3) When Josephus here says, that from sixteen to nineteen, or for three years, he made trial of the three Jewish sects, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essens, and yet says presently, in all our copies, that he stayed besides with one particular ascetic, called Banus, with him, and this still before he was nineteen, there is little room left for his trial of the three other sects. I suppose, therefore, that for, with him, the old reading might be, with them; which is a very small emendation, and takes away the difficulty before us. Nor is Dr. Hudson's conjecture, hinted at by Mr. Hall in his preface to the Doctor's edition of Josephus, at all improbable, that this Banus, by this his description, might well be a follower of John the Baptist, and that from him Josephus might easily imbibe such notions, as afterwards prepared him to have a favorable opinion of Jesus Christ himself, who was attested to by John the Baptist.