Why does Josephus’ account of the Samaritan Messiah (Ant. 18.4.1) relate to Jesus? What details in the accounts are identical
in both Josephus and the Gospels? What differences are there? How can they be explained? Identical details are the Roman Pilate, the insurrection, the execution by crucifixion, (assumed in Josephus due to insurrection being given as the reason for the condemnation).
Other similarities include: the executed man’s guilt is doubtful (Josephus mentions this immediately after his account); the date (in Josephus, this can be deduced from the end of his period in office), the exact date is not given in the Gospels, but the period of time can be deduced from the fact that it was during Pilate’s term of office.
The locations mentioned are different: Josephus: (Sebaste-) Samaria, Mt Gerizim; the Gospels: Jerusalem. On this point, I must note that: 1) Paul was also not yet aware that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem; 2) in Luke 13:33, Jesus says: Nevertheless, I must go on my way… for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.
The Gospels do not give a historical account of Jesus’ crucifixion; instead they describe the annual Passion festival in Jerusalem. This explains the change of location to Jerusalem.
Josephus calls the crucified Jesus a deceiver, not a Messiah or prophet. That can be explained because Josephus was not a Christian and rejected Christianity. Result: Josephus’s account in Ant. 18.4.1 refers to Jesus’ death.