dimanche 17 juin 2018

Carrier's Entire List


Blooper, Carrier! · Carrier's Entire List

Here is the list of evidence Carrier gives for Caligula, restricted to contemporary:

  • We have busts and statues of Caligula carved from life. Indeed, Wikipedia correctly says “Based on scientific reconstructions of his official painted busts, Caligula had brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin” (source: The Smithsonian). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have a huge number of coins minted by and naming and depicting Caligula as the extant emperor (numerous examples are also depicted and discussed at Wikipedia; here’s another; and another). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have a huge number of papyri, actually written during Caligula’s life, mentioning him as the reigning emperor (e.g. as Gaius Caesar Germanicus Augustus). Because that was how documents were dated (example; example; example). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have a huge number of contemporary inscriptions, erected by Caligula himself and eyewitnesses to his reign. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Examples. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have excavated several of Caligula’s most peculiar ships. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have actual wine barrels from Caligula’s private vineyard, with his name on them. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We have his mother’s tombstone, declaring him her child. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • Pliny the Elder, an eyewitness to Caligula, supplies us a great deal of information directly from his own observations, and from government records and other eyewitness and contemporary sources. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • Other eyewitnesses and contemporaries who report on Caligula include Philo of Alexandria and Seneca, who both met with him personally, and record several things about him (e.g. Philo’s Flaccus and On [My] Embassy to Gaius [Caligula]; Seneca’s On Consolation to My Mother Helvia and On Rage and On the Constancy of the Wise).

  • We have extensive accounts of Caligula in Josephus (a historian born when Caligula reigned, discussing Caligula within only 35 years of his death, and more extensively only 52 years after his death), an account that is exactly in Josephan style and rich with realistic detail (Antiquities of the Jews 18-19, written c. 93 A.D.; and Jewish War 2.184-203, written c. 76 A.D.). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No. Not even the alleged Josephan mentions of Jesus qualify on any relevant point.

  • We know eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Caligula wrote works about him that are lost but that are discussed and used by later writers. These include Seneca’s own friend Fabius Rusticus; Cluvius Rufus, a senator actually involved in the assassination of Caligula (very likely these were the sources employed by Josephus, who even mentions and quotes Cluvius); the memoirs of Claudius (Caligula’s successor); the published correspondence of Augustus; and various poets (e.g. Gaetulicus). Even Caligula’s sister, Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger, wrote up her own memoirs that were cited and used as a source for Caligula by several later historians. Do we have anything like any of this for Jesus? No.

  • We have several later critical historians writing about Caligula who name, cite and quote eyewitness, documentary, and contemporary sources for Caligula: e.g. besides Suetonius (whose example of this I already discussed), also Tacitus, Life of Agricola 10 (written c. 98 A.D.), and Annals 13.20 (written c. 116 A.D.), and even Dio Cassius (not even two hundred years after the fact). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We even have government documents that do this: for example, we have unearthed a bronze tablet copy (dating c. 168 A.D.) of a letter personally written by Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Journal of Roman Studies 1973.63) that mentions him consulting the extant register of those granted citizenship by Caligula (in a list of such registers from other emperors as well). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • Oh…and we have Caligula him-fracking-self! An inscription recording his own letter, in his own words, to the Achaean League, dated 19 August 37 A.D. (Inscriptiones Graecae 7.2711, ll. 21-43). Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

  • We also have declarations of alliance and celebration from many localities at the accession to power of Caligila. For example, the Oath declared by the Aritensians, inscribed on stone shortly after 11 May 37 A.D., elaborately asserting they shall ally with Caligula and declare his enemies their enemies; similarly the Cyzicans as well; and the Oath and Decree of Celebration of the Assians of the same year, which says they are sending an embassy “to seek an audience with and congratulate him, and beg him to remember” their city “as he personally promised when together with his father Germanicus he first set foot in our city’s province” (see Lewis & Reinhold, Vol. 2, § 3 and 9). So here we have the eyewitness, original autograph testimony, of an entire city of people. Caligula was with his father at the age of six when he visited their region (so they are trucking rather hard on the utterance of a toddler). But you don’t say this of, or send embassies to, a guy who doesn’t exist. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? Hell to the no.


Now, the main point on each item, since neither the pastor nor I are in fact trying to pretend Caligula is a myth, is Carrier's refrain : Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.

This is therefore what I intend to answer. For each item. On some, "we would not expect to". On most, yes, we do have sth like that for Jesus.

  • We have busts and statues of Caligula carved from life. - And we have the miraculous likenesses sent to King Abgar, the Sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud of Turin.

  • We have a huge number of coins minted by and naming and depicting Caligula as the extant emperor ... - and since Jesus was living as a subject under Herod and Augustus, and under Pilate and Tiberius, we do not at all exspect any coins to have His image in His lifetime.

  • We have a huge number of papyri, actually written during Caligula’s life, mentioning him as the reigning emperor (e.g. as Gaius Caesar Germanicus Augustus). Because that was how documents were dated - and as AD dating was not yet a thing, we do not exspect to have sth like that for Jesus.

  • We have a huge number of contemporary inscriptions, erected by Caligula himself and eyewitnesses to his reign. - Jesus was probably not building too many houses that still stand, since Romans swept off many in the Jewish war, back when He was serving His fosterfather as a carpenter.

  • We have excavated several of Caligula’s most peculiar ships. - I'm not sure anyone claims to have timbers of St Peter's or St John's bark as relics, otherwise we do not exspect such a thing.

  • We have actual wine barrels from Caligula’s private vineyard, with his name on them. - The miracle of Cana was a wine which was drunk up very quickly.

  • We have his mother’s tombstone, declaring him her child. - We have the belt and the veil of the Blessed Virgin. We also have His own glorious sepulchre.

  • Pliny the Elder ... - dealt with, previous post. Pliny is not so convincing as proof as Carrier would pretend, and is certainly inferior to Gospels in giving details.

  • Other eyewitnesses and contemporaries who report on Caligula include Philo of Alexandria and Seneca, who both met with him personally, and record several things about him (e.g. Philo’s Flaccus and On [My] Embassy to Gaius [Caligula]; Seneca’s On Consolation to My Mother Helvia and On Rage and On the Constancy of the Wise). - Pliny, Philo and Seneca all give less information in* Caligula than Gospels do about Our Lord Jesus Christ. Citing them would be like having no Gospels and only citing Epistles and perhaps Apocalypse.

  • We have extensive accounts of Caligula in Josephus (a historian born when Caligula reigned, discussing Caligula within only 35 years of his death, and more extensively only 52 years after his death), an account that is exactly in Josephan style and rich with realistic detail (Antiquities of the Jews 18-19, written c. 93 A.D.; and Jewish War 2.184-203, written c. 76 A.D.). - If I got this correctly, 22 chapters in Josephus deal with Caligula. Matthew 28, Mark 16 (44), Luke 24 (68), John 21 (89), Acts 1:st chapter (90).

  • We know eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Caligula wrote works about him that are lost but that are discussed and used by later writers. These include Seneca’s own friend Fabius Rusticus; Cluvius Rufus, a senator actually involved in the assassination of Caligula (very likely these were the sources employed by Josephus, who even mentions and quotes Cluvius); the memoirs of Claudius (Caligula’s successor); the published correspondence of Augustus; and various poets (e.g. Gaetulicus). Even Caligula’s sister, Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger, wrote up her own memoirs that were cited and used as a source for Caligula by several later historians. - Indeed. Indeed. No, we do not have a plethora of named lost writers, since the plethora mentioned collectively by St Luke is not named and the 50 odd non-canonical Gospels cannot all be assigned to pre-Gospel tries. This is the point I was making : contemporary writers (who as adults saw events) are there for Jesus, namely four of them in continuous narrative (not mentioning all event related scraps in Epistles and Apocalypse which would arguably more than just rival Pliny), while the contemporary writers for continuous narrative about Tiberius (unless you count Velleius Paterculus as giving continuous narrative about him too!), Caligula, Claudius, Nero, even up to Domitian are gone, excepting perhaps what Josephus had to say on some Flavians, which I had overlooked when earlier stating this. They are gone, and their witness survives only second hand, in authors quoting lost authors after Domitian died (again, excepting Josephus, OK).

  • We have several later critical historians writing about Caligula who name, cite and quote eyewitness, documentary, and contemporary sources for Caligula: e.g. besides Suetonius (whose example of this I already discussed), also Tacitus, Life of Agricola 10 (written c. 98 A.D.), and Annals 13.20 (written c. 116 A.D.), and even Dio Cassius (not even two hundred years after the fact). - You are omitting Early Church Fathers quoting Gospels, presumably because the Gospels are not lost.

    Also, calling Suetonius, Tacitus and Dio Cassius (guys who wrote after Domitian died, as I mentioned) "critical historians" is somewhat equivocal. If by "critical" you mean they are not uncritical of the Caesars in question, granted (easy to criticise a dead Caesar, except Julius and Augustus, right?). If you mean they are not uncritical of their sources, well, they do not show the modern kind of criticism to them - they are not as critical to Agrippina's life of her son as Carrier is of the Gospels.

  • We even have government documents that do this: for example, we have unearthed a bronze tablet copy (dating c. 168 A.D.) of a letter personally written by Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Journal of Roman Studies 1973.63) that mentions him consulting the extant register of those granted citizenship by Caligula (in a list of such registers from other emperors as well). - Again, this is a type of proof you cannot get for someone not engaged in administration.

  • Oh…and we have Caligula him-fracking-self! An inscription recording his own letter, in his own words, to the Achaean League, dated 19 August 37 A.D. (Inscriptiones Graecae 7.2711, ll. 21-43). - There was also a Letter, not just a miraculous image, to King Abgar.

    Oh, Carrier thinks that could be a fake? Well, why not that inscription, if we are tin foilish?

  • We also have declarations of alliance and celebration from many localities at the accession to power of Caligila. For example, the Oath declared by the Aritensians, inscribed on stone shortly after 11 May 37 A.D., elaborately asserting they shall ally with Caligula and declare his enemies their enemies; similarly the Cyzicans as well; and the Oath and Decree of Celebration of the Assians of the same year, which says they are sending an embassy “to seek an audience with and congratulate him, and beg him to remember” their city “as he personally promised when together with his father Germanicus he first set foot in our city’s province” (see Lewis & Reinhold, Vol. 2, § 3 and 9). So here we have the eyewitness, original autograph testimony, of an entire city of people. Caligula was with his father at the age of six when he visited their region (so they are trucking rather hard on the utterance of a toddler). But you don’t say this of, or send embassies to, a guy who doesn’t exist. - Our Lord was probably younger than six when He received an Embassy of a sort which went by Herod to Him, but avoided Herod when returning.


Note, one key point not adressed here is Gospels being genuine, or not adressed in detail.

The point is, Carrier perfectly knew he was not counting them when repeating his refrain, and he was not doing so because he counted them as fakes.

That is another argument, to be answered on more specific grounds pretending that they are such.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris, Porte Dorée
IV Sunday after Pentecost
17.VI.2018

* on (spellcheck or vicinity of touches)

vendredi 1 juin 2018

Blooper, Carrier!


Blooper, Carrier! · Carrier's Entire List

So What About Caligula? How Do You Know HE Existed!?
by Richard Carrier /on May 31, 2018/
https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14117


Pliny the Elder, an eyewitness to Caligula, supplies us a great deal of information directly from his own observations, and from government records and other eyewitness and contemporary sources. Do we have anything like that for Jesus? No.


Did Carrier say "a great deal"? Richard Carrier links to a Perseus Tuft's search on the word Caligula in author Pliny.

Here are the hits to Naturalis Historia:

  • book 4, chapter 5: ... Asia. , Cæsar the Dictator, the prince Caius Caius Caligula, the Emperor. , and Domitius Nero The Emperor Nero

  • book 5, chapter 1: ... which, until the time of Caius Cæsar The Emperor Caligula, who, in the year 41 A.D., reduced the ... to Rome in the year A.D. 40 , by Caligula, and shortly after put to death by him, his

  • book 5, chapter 44: ... , Domitius Corbulo Brother of Cæsonia, the wife of Caligula, and father of Domitia Longina, the wife of Domitian.

  • book 7, chapter 4: ... , who became the wife of the Emperor Caius. Caius Caligula. The name of this woman, who was first his ... was Milonia Cesonia. She was neither handsome nor young when Caligula first admired her: but was noted for her extreme ... and at the time when she first became intimate with Caligula, had already had three children. She and her daughter,

  • book 7, chapter 6: ... of Agrippa and Julia, was the mother of the Emperor Caligula; and of a second Agrippina, who became the mother

  • book 7, chapter 11: ... in the Life of Augustus, c. 63; and that of Caligula, c. 7.—B. Certain individuals, again, both men

  • book 7, chapter 18: ... of Germanicus Cæsar, and the grandmother of the emperor Caligula, whom she lived to see on the throne, and

  • book 7, chapter 44: ... same meaning as our expression, "from the ranks." The Emperor Caligula received that surname when a boy, in consequence of

  • book 8, chapter 64: ... The nephew of Tiberius and the father of the Emperor Caligula.—B. wrote a poem, which still exists. There

  • book 8, chapter 84: ... known. He probably flourished in the reign of Tiberius or Caligula. Cato the Censor, See end of B. iii

  • book 9, chapter 31: ... the reign of Caius, The reign of the Emperor Caligula. at the price of eight thousand sesterces. Juvenal

  • book 9, chapter 33: ... centurions, were distinguished by the name of "caligati." The Emperor Caligula received that cognomen when a boy, in consequence of

  • book 9, chapter 56: ... ii. c. 12, and Pliny, B. xxxvii. c. 6, that Caligula wore gold and pearls upon his socculi. it

  • book 9, chapter 58: ... but was divorced from him, and married to the Emperor Caligula, who, however, soon divorced her. At the instigation of ... the Emperor Nero. the wife of the Emperor Caius Caligula. —it was not at any public festival, or

  • book 9, chapter 81: ... vii. c. 18, and B. xxxv. c. 36. Her grandson, Caligula, is supposed to have hastened her death. the

  • book 12, chapter 5: ... that afforded in the reign of the Emperor Caius. Caligula. That prince was so struck with admiration on ... that he here alludes sarcastically to the extreme corpulence of Caligula. very materially to the shade it threw-the

  • book 16, chapter 76: ... brought from Egypt, by order of the Emperor Caius, Caligula. the obelisk B. xxxvi. c. 14. that

  • book 16, chapter 95: ... but is conjectured to have lived in the reign of Caligula or Tiberius. Cremutius, See end of B. vii

  • book 26, chapter 3: ... say whether Tiberius, the predecessor, or Claudius, the successor of Caligula, is meant; most probably the latter, as the former

  • book 32, chapter 1: ... one of these fish arrested the ship of the Emperor Caligula. Caius in its course, when he was returning ... a trick was played for the purpose of imposing upon Caligula's superstitious credulity, and that the rowers as well

  • book 33, chapter 6: ... and demanded his signet-ring, which his son-in-law, Caligula, had removed from his finger, under the supposition that

  • book 33, chapter 16: ... storeys, which were raised or depressed, to all appearance, spontaneously. Caligula is the emperor meant. introduced into the Circus,

  • book 33, chapter 22: ... substance greatly excited the hopes of the Emperor Caius, Caligula. a prince who was most greedy for gold.

  • book 33, chapter 27: ... 5. From Suetonius, c. 18, we learn that the Emperor Caligula, also, had the Circus sanded with minium and chrysocolla.

  • book 33, chapter 47: ... 63 . Callistus, C. Julius Callistus, the freedman of Caligula, in whose assassination he was an accomplice. The physician

  • book 34, chapter 9: ... is employed by Suetonius, in speaking of a statue of Caligula, c. 22.—B. I do not know whether

  • book 35, chapter 6: ... , though the temple is in ruins. The Emperor Caius, Caligula. inflamed with lustfulness, attempted to have them removed,

  • book 35, chapter 59: ... works were at first proscribed, but were afterwards permitted by Caligula to be read. Fabius Vestalis, See end of

  • book 36, chapter 14: ... one in which, by order of the Emperor Caius, Caligula. the other obelisk had been transported to Rome,

  • book 36, chapter 15: ... is mentioned above as having been removed from Alexandria by Caligula. obelisk This obelisk was transferred by Pope Sextus ... Vaticanus. Circus, which was constructed by the Emperors Caius Caligula. and Nero; this being the only one of

  • book 36, chapter 24: ... City environed by the palaces of the Emperors Caius Caligula. The Palace of Caligula was situate on the Palatine Hill: that of Nero ... which was more recently commenced by the Emperor Caius, Caligula. and completed by Claudius. Under these princes, the

  • book 37, chapter 6: ... . He has rendered, however, comparatively excusable the Emperor Caius, Caligula. who, in addition to other femmine luxuries, used


It looks a bit as if some of theme were from footnotes. Second hit mentions AD dating - not one known to Pliny. Third hit mentions Domitian who started ruling in AD 81 - two years after Pliny died.

The search engine took in hits not only to text by Pliny himself in English translation, but also to annotations made much more recently - by people who have read historians writing after Domitian died, inter alia.

Let's see, I'm checking hit after hit, showing in each case the words of Pliny (or editor other than in footnotes for 5:44?) and saying which of the hits showed words in a footnote:

  • book 4, chapter 5: The Peloponnesus, which was formerly called Apia1 and Pelasgia, is a peninsula, inferior in fame to no land upon the face of the earth. ... For this reason it is that both King Demetrius6, Cæsar the Dictator, the prince Caius7, and Domitius Nero8, have at different times made the attempt to cut through this neck by forming a navigable canal; a profane design, as may be clearly seen by the result9 in every one of these instances. - the hit was to footnote 7.

  • book 5, chapter 1: On our entrance into Africa, we find the two Mauritanias, which, until the time of Caius Cæsar3, the son of Germanicus, were kingdoms; but, suffering under his cruelty, they were divided into two provinces. - The hit was to footnote 3. It explained Caligula is our name for Caius Caesar.

  • book 5, chapter 44: Domitius Corbulo - cited as one cited author. Caligula is mentioned in a footnote to his name.

  • book 7, chapter 4: There are great variations in this respect, which occur in numerous ways. Vestilia, for instance, who was the wife of C. Herdicius, and was afterwards married, first, to Pomponius,4 and then to Orfitus, very eminent citizens, after having brought forth four children, always at the seventh month, had Suillius Rufus at the eleventh month, and then Corbulo at the seventh, both of whom became consuls; after which, at the eighth month, she had Cæsonia, who became the wife of the Emperor Caius.5 As for children who are born at the eighth month, the greatest difficulty with them is to get them over the first forty days. - We learn this emperor Caius was Caligula in footnote 5.

  • book 7, chapter 6: It is contrary to nature for children to come into the world with the feet first, for which reason such children are called Agrippæ, meaning that they are born with difficulty.1 In this manner, M. Agrippa2 is said to have been born; the only instance, almost, of good fortune, out of the number of all those who have come into the world under these circumstances. And yet, even he may be considered to have paid the penalty of the unfavourable omen produced by the unnatural mode of his birth, in the unfortunate weakness of his legs, the misfortunes of his youth, a life spent in the very midst of arms and slaughter, and ever exposed to the approaches of death; in his children, too, who have all proved a very curse to the earth, and more especially, the two Agrippinas, who were the mothers respectively of Caius and of Domitius Nero,3 so many firebrands hurled among the human race. - Obviously book 7 is on pregnancy and childbirth, and that Agrippa was born feet first totally explains how the children of his two daughters tunned out as first class monsters, like Caligula and Nero. Note in passing that Pliny was superstitious, since he believed this, and yet Carrier is willing to cite him as a source on history ...

  • book 7, chapter 11: There exists a kind of peculiar antipathy between the bodies of certain persons, which, though barren with respect to each other, are not so when united to others;1 such, for instance, was the case with Augustus and Livia.2 - the footnote 2 tells us from Suetonius that Caligula is alluded to.

  • book 7, chapter 18: Less important peculiarities of nature, again, are to be observed in many persons; Antonia,6 for instance, the wife of Drusus, was never known to expectorate; and Pomponius, the poet, a man of consular rank, was never troubled with eructation. - Footnote 6 tells us, Antonia was granny to Caligula.

  • book 7, chapter 44: Fortune has determined that P. Ventidius alone should enjoy the honour of a triumph over the Parthians, and yet the same individual, when he was a child, she led in the triumphal procession of Cneius Pompeius, the conqueror of Asculum.1 Indeed, Masurius says, that he had been twice led in triumph; and according to Cicero, he used to let out mules for the bakers of the camp.2 Most writers, indeed, admit that his younger days were passed in the greatest poverty, and that he wore the hob-nailed shoes3 of the common soldier. - Pliny is providing info on Ventidius and mentions caligae, and footnote 2 says those gave Caligula his nickname.

  • book 8, chapter 64: The late Emperor Augustus also erected a tomb to his horse; on which occasion Germanicus Cæsar5 wrote a poem, which still exists. - footnote 5 says who Germanicus Caesar was, but Pliny himself doesn't tell us he was father to Caligula

  • book 8, chapter 84: Cornelius Valerianus cited as author, and footnote guesses he flourished under Tiberius or Caligula.

  • book 9, chapter 31: ENORMOUS PRICES OF SOME FISH. Asinius Celer,1 a man of consular rank, and remarkable for his prodigal expenditure on this fish, bought one at Rome, during the reign of Caius,2 at the price of eight thousand sesterces.3 - while footnote 2 explains Caius as Caligula, the actual text of Pliny says more of fish market or of Asinius Celer (perhaps wellnamed) than of Caligula.

  • book 9, chapter 33: Some fishes have numerous gills, others again single1 ones, others double; it is by means of these that they discharge the water that has entered the mouth. A sign of old age2 is the hardness of the scales, which are not alike in all. There are two lakes3 of Italy at the foot of the Alps, called Larius and Verbanus, in which there are to be seen every year, at the rising of the Vergiliæ,4 fish remarkable for the number of their scales, and the exceeding sharpness5 of them, strongly resembling hob-nails6 in appearance; these fish, however, are only to be seen during that month,7 and no longer. - Pliny tells us of fish scales, the annotator explains hob-nails as translation of Clavorum caligarium"—"nails for the caliga." and then goes off a tangent on the etymology of Caligula.

  • book 9, chapter 56: Long pearls also have their peculiar value; those are called "elenchi," which are of a long tapering shape, resembling our alabaster6 boxes in form, and ending in a full bulb.7 Our ladies quite glory in having these suspended from their fingers, or two or three of them dangling from their ears. For the purpose of ministering to these luxurious tastes, there are various names and wearisome refinements which have been devised by profuseness and prodigality; for after inventing these ear-rings, they have given them the name of "crotalia,"8 or castanet pendants, as though quite delighted even with the rattling of the pearls as they knock against each other; and now, at the present day, the poorer classes are even affecting them, as people are in the habit of saying, that "a pearl worn by a woman in public, is as good as a lictor9 walking before her." Nay, even more than this, they put them on their feet, and that, not only on the laces of their sandals, but all over the shoes;10 it is not enough to wear pearls, but they must tread upon them, and walk with them under foot as well. - Annotator at note 10 tells of Caligula. Of his doing much like these ladies. Sources are given as We find from Seneca, De Ben. B. ii. c. 12, and Pliny, B. xxxvii. c. 6. Well, at book 37 we may indeed find sth on Caligula by Pliny ...

  • book 9, chapter 58: I once saw Lollia Paulina,1 the wife of the Emperor Caius2 —it was not at any public festival, or any solemn ceremonial, but only at an ordinary wedding entertainment3—covered with emeralds and pearls, which shone in alternate layers upon her head, in her hair, in her wreaths, in her ears, upon her neck, in her bracelets, and on her fingers, and the value of which amounted in all to forty millions 4 of sesterces; indeed5 she was prepared at once to prove the fact, by showing the receipts and acquittances. - Footnotes 1 and 2 explain the relation between Lollia and her husband Caligula. The rest of the chapter explains a bit on why Lollia had that apparel.

  • book 9, chapter 81: It was at the same villa that Antonia,5 the wife of Drusus, placed earrings upon a murena which she had become fond of; the report of which singular circumstance attracted many visitors to the place. - Footnote 5 explains Antonia was granny of Caligula.

  • book 12, chapter 5: Another curious instance, again, was that afforded in the reign of the Emperor Caius.2 That prince was so struck with admiration on seeing a plane in the territory of Veliternum, which presented floor after floor, like those of the several stories of a house, by means of broad benches loosely laid from branch to branch, that he held a banquet in it-himself adding3 very materially to the shade it threw-the triclinium being formed for the reception of fifteen guests and the necessary attendants: to this singular dining-room he gave the name of his "nest." - Footnote 2 explains Caius was Caligula and 3 that "adding to the shadow substantially" means he was fat. But yes, Pliny does say that Caligula held a banquet in a plane tree (which is what the chapter is about). Carrier, if you think miraculous reports arise quickly after non-miraculous facts, do you think Caligula was, at the time, lean, and not holding a banquet? Excess reports on people not too excessive arise even quicker.

  • book 16, chapter 76: There was a fir, too, that was particularly admired, when it formed the mast of the ship, which brought from Egypt, by order of the Emperor Caius,17 the obelisk18 that was erected in the Vaticanian Circus, with the four blocks of stone intended for its base. It is beyond all doubt that there has been seen nothing on the sea more wonderful than this ship: one hundred and twenty thousand modii of lentils formed its ballast; and the length of it took up the greater part of the left side of the harbour at Ostia. It was sunk at that spot by order of the Emperor Claudius, three moles, each as high as a tower, being built upon it; they were constructed with cement19 which the same vessel had conveyed from Puteoli. It took the arms of four men to span the girth of this tree, and we not unfrequently hear of the price of masts for such purposes, as being eighty thousand sesterces or more: rafts, too, of this wood are sometimes put together, the value of which is forty thousand. - Pliny say Caligula imported sth ... you obviously think all imports by King Solomon prove he existed too? Footnote, as so often, explains Caius means the guy we call Caligula.

  • book 16, chapter 95: Calpurnius Bassus - cited as an author, and note : 17 He is wholly unknown: but is conjectured to have lived in the reign of Caligula or Tiberius.

  • book 26, chapter 3: CHAP. 3.—AT WHAT PERIOD LICHEN FIRST MADE ITS APPEARANCE IN ITALY. This curse was unknown to the ancients,1 and in the times of our fathers even, having first entered Italy in the middle of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius2 Claudius Cæsar; where it was introduced from Asia,3 in which country it had lately made4 its appearance, by a member of the equestrian order at Rome, a native of Perusiun, secretary to the quæstor. The disease, however, did not attack either females or slaves,5 nor yet the lower orders, or, indeed, the middle classes, but only the nobles, being communicated even by the momentary contact requisite for the act of salutation.6 Many of those who persevered in undergoing a course of remedial treatment, though cured of the disease, retained scars upon the body more hideous even than the malady itself; it being treated with cauteries, as it was certain to break out afresh, unless means were adopted for burning it out of the body by cauterizing to the very bone. - Footnote 2 hesitates whether Tiberius Claudius Cæsar means Tiberius or Caligula. See above for probable resolution it being Tiberius. (Footnote 6 is not likely to be taken in a friendly manner in Balkan or Italy ...or France)

  • book 32, chapter 1: In our own time, too, one of these fish [an echenëis] arrested the ship of the Emperor5 Caius in its course, when he was returning from Astura to Antium:6 and thus, as the result proved, did an insignificant fish give presage of great events; for no sooner had the emperor returned to Rome than he was pierced by the weapons of his own soldiers. Nor did this sudden stoppage of the ship long remain a mystery, the cause being perceived upon finding that, out of the whole fleet, the emperor's five-banked galley was the only one that was making no way. The moment this was discovered, some of the sailors plunged into the sea, and, on making search about the ship's sides, they found an echeneïs adhering to the rudder. Upon its being shown to the emperor, he strongly expressed his indignation that such an obstacle as this should have impeded his progress, and have rendered powerless the hearty endeavours of some four hundred men. One thing, too, it is well known, more particularly surprised7 him, how it was possible that the fish, while adhering to the ship, should arrest its progress, and yet should have no such power when brought on board. - Footnote 5 explains it is Caligula who is called Caius and 7 adds a note of scepticism:

    And well it might surprise him. If there was any foundation at all for the story, there can be little doubt that a trick was played for the purpose of imposing upon Caligula's superstitious credulity, and that the rowers as well as the diving sailors were privy to it.


    But that is not Pliny's words and yet Pliny did mention Caligula here.

  • book 33, chapter 6: But at the present day, we not only procure dainties which are sure to be pilfered, but hands to pilfer them as well; and so far is it from being sufficient to have the very keys sealed, that the signet-ring is often taken from off the owner's finger while he is overpowered with sleep or lying on his death-bed. - Footnote 39 presumes, by adding a reference to Suetonius, that Pliny alluded to Caligula's and Tiberius' relations.

  • book 33, chapter 16: deserves to be quoted in full:

    CHAP. 16.—AT WHAT PERIOD SILVER FIRST MADE ITS APPEARANCE UPON THE ARENA AND UPON THE STAGE.

    We, too, have done things that posterity may probably look upon as fabulous. Cæsar, who was afterwards dictator, but at that time ædile, was the first person, on the occasion of the funeral games in honour of his father, to employ all the apparatus of the arena1 in silver; and it was on the same occasion that for the first time criminals encountered wild beasts with implements of silver, a practice imitated at the present day in our municipal towns even.

    At the games celebrated by C. Antonius the stage was made of2 silver; and the same was the case at those celebrated by L. Muræna. The Emperor Caius had a scaffold3 introduced into the Circus, upon which there were one hundred and twenty-four thousand pounds' weight of silver. His successor Claudius, on the occasion of his triumph over Britain, announced by the inscriptions that among the coronets of gold, there was one weighing seven thousand4 pounds' weight, contributed by Nearer Spain, and another of nine thousand pounds, presented by Gallia Comata.5 Nero, who succeeded him, covered the Theatre of Pompeius with gold for one day,6 the occasion on which he displayed it to Tiridates, king of Armenia. And yet how small was this theatre in comparison with that Golden Palace7 of his, with which he environed our city.


    Pliny actually gives us Caius being succeeded by Claudius who was succeeded by Nero. And Caius vaguely being preceded (there were two emperors between) by Julius Caesar who had a more modest taste. The context is worthy of the Yellow Press, but I did not think we could get this much history on Caligula from Pliny! Who, by the way, is exspecting the scepticism of the future, not on the list of emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero, or on Nero being contemporary with Tiridates, but simply on the luxury he was reporting.

  • book 33, chapter 22: Orpiment: There is also one other method of procuring gold; by making it from orpiment,1 a mineral dug from the surface of the earth in Syria, and much used by painters. It is just the colour of gold, but brittle, like mirror-stone,2 in fact. This substance greatly excited the hopes of the Emperor Caius,3 a prince who was most greedy for gold. He accordingly had a large quantity of it melted, and really did obtain some excellent gold;4 but then the proportion was so extremely small, that he found himself a loser thereby. Such was the result of an experiment prompted solely by avarice: and this too, although the price of the orpiment itself was no more than four denarii per pound. Since his time, the experiment has never been repeated.

    And a chemist today, knowing from note one that orpiment is Yellow sulphuret of arsenic, will conclude that being greedy for gold is not the same as being wise on detecting it. My greatgrandfather who was journeyman to a goldsmith would not have been such a sucker, nor was he that greedy.

    Caligula as alchemist, as Nicolas Flamel "avant le mot" ... is this info or intox? Fact or urban rumour? Well, to get a more overall picture on Caligula we go to Sueton and Tacitus, and so we find it is at least believable. B u t these authors come later than Pliny.

  • book 33, chapter 27: Before now, we have seen, at the spectacles exhibited by the Emperor Nero, the arena of the Circus entirely sanded with chrysocolla, when the prince himself, clad in a dress of the same colour, was about to exhibit as a charioteer.7 - Footnote 7 tells us Caligula had done a similar thing, and we know this from Sueton. In other words, Pliny was not writing on Caligula but on Nero.

  • book 33, chapter 47: And yet, although he was the first to become memorable for his opulence—so pleasant is the task of stigmatizing this insatiate cupidity—we have known of many manumitted slaves, since his time, much more wealthy than he ever was; three for example, all at the same time, in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, Pallas,8 Callistus,9 and Narcissus.10 - In footnote 9, we get to know Callistus was both freedman of Caius and implicated in his assassination. But we do not get this from Pliny.

  • book 34, chapter 9: It was not the custom in former times to give the likeness of individuals, except of such as deserved to be held in lasting remembrance on account of some illustrious deed; in the first instance, for a victory at the sacred games, and more particularly the Olympic Games, where it was the usage for the victors always to have their statues consecrated. And if any one was so fortunate as to obtain the prize there three times, his statue was made with the exact resemblance of every individual limb; from which circumstance they were called "iconicæ."2 I do not know whether the first public statues were not erected by the Athenians, and in honour of Harmodius and Aristogiton, who slew the tyrant;3 an event which took place in the same year in which the kings were expelled from Rome.

    Since Harmodius and Aristogeiton and the prize winners at Olympic games were not given honours as in and of themselves gods or demigods, we can safely conclude that icons of saints are not idolatry. However, the footnoter also tells us Sueton tells is that Caligula had an icon made of him self. Selfie-maniacs, take note!

  • book 35, chapter 6: At Lanuvium, too, it is the same, where we see an Atalanta and a Helena, without drapery, close together, and painted by the same artist. They are both of the greatest beauty, the former being evidently the figure of a virgin, and they still remain uninjured, though the temple is in ruins. The Emperor Caius,3 inflamed with lustfulness, attempted to have them removed, but the nature of the plaster would not admit of it.

    While the context is an immodest painting, the outcome shows why flat murals may have been preferred over statues in icons of saints at times : less risk for removal and sacrilege - or even destruction, barring that of the whole building. And yes, Pliny says Caligula was a porn junkie and a clumsy one ...

  • book 35, chapter 59: Severus Longulanus - cited author, footnote 13 says he used to be "on the index" (proscribed) but Caligula allowed his works to be read. Same footnote also says a man he accused of poisoning is found in chapter 46 of same book, but I didn't find him.

    I did however find this:

    It has been already12 stated by us, when on the subject of birds, that a single dish cost the tragic actor Æsopus one hundred thousand sesterces; much to the reader's indignation, no doubt; but, by Hercules! Vitellius, when emperor, ordered a dish to be made, which was to cost a million of sesterces, and for the preparation of which a furnace had to be erected out in the fields! luxury having thus arrived at such a pitch of excess as to make earthenware even sell at higher prices than murrhine13 vessels.


    And then I did find Asprenas, whom Longulanus had apparently accused:

    It was in reference to this circumstance, that Mucianus, in his second consulship, when pronouncing one of his perorations, reproached the memory of Vitellius with his dishes as broad as the Pomptine Marsh; not less deserving to be execrated than the poisoned dish of Asprenas, which, according to the accusation brought against him by Cassius Severus, caused the death of one hundred and thirty guests.14


    OK, did you catch the phrase "Vitellius, when emperor,"? Whatever Pliny says of Caligula is at a safe distance, several subsequent emperors have agreed that Caligula is a baddy. But do we know this from Pliny? No, we know it from authors after Domitian died (and possibly from Josephus too a bit earlier).

  • book 36, chapter 14: There are two other obelisks, which were in Cæsar's Temple at Alexandria, near the harbour there, forty-two cubits in height, and originally hewn by order of King Mesphres. But the most difficult enterprise of all, was the carriage of these obelisks by sea to Rome, in vessels which excited the greatest admiration. Indeed, the late Emperor Augustus consecrated the one which brought over the first obelisk, as a lasting memorial of this marvellous undertaking, in the docks at Puteoli; but it was destroyed by fire. As to the one in which, by order of the Emperor Caius,17 the other obelisk had been transported to Rome, after having been preserved for some years and looked upon as the most wonderful construction ever beheld upon the seas, it was brought to Ostia, by order of the late Emperor Claudius; and towers of Puteolan18 earth being first erected upon it, it was sunk for the construction of the harbour which he was making there. And then, besides, there was the necessity of constructing other vessels to carry these obelisks up the Tiber; by which it became practically ascer- tained, that the depth of water in that river is not less than that of the river Nilus.

    Obelisk and big tree, here it is told again under obelisk, see above under big tree.

  • book 36, chapter 15: The third4 obelisk5 at Rome is in the Vaticanian6 Circus, which was constructed by the Emperors Caius7 and Nero; this being the only one of them all that has been broken in the carriage.

    Same story, now on how the obelisk was used.

  • book 36, chapter 24: But there are still two other mansions by which all these edifices have been eclipsed. Twice have we seen the whole City environed by the palaces of the Emperors Caius9 and Nero; that of the last, that nothing might be wanting to its magnificence, being coated with gold.10 Surely such palaces as these must have been intended for the abode of those who created this mighty empire, and who left the plough or their native hearth to go forth to conquer nations, and to return laden with triumphs! men, in fact, whose very fields even occupied less space than the audience-chambers11 of these palaces.

    OK, Pliny says Caligula had a great palace, as had Nero (presumably after him).

  • book 37, chapter 6: But it was this conquest by Pompeius Magnus that first introduced so general a taste for pearls and precious stones; just as the victories, gained by L. Scipio1 and Cneius Manlius,2 had first turned the public attention to chased silver, Attalic tissues, and banquetting-couches decorated with bronze; and the conquests of L. Mummius had brought Corinthian bronzes and pictures into notice. ... But in other respects, how truly befitting the hero was this triumph! To the state, he presented two thousand millions of sesterces; to the legati and quæstors who had exerted themselves in defence of the sea coast, he gave one thousand millions of sesterces; and to each individual soldier, six thousand sesterces. He has rendered, however, comparatively excusable the Emperor Caius,13 who, in addition to other femmine luxuries, used to wear shoes adorned with pearls; as also the Emperor Nero, who used to adorn his sceptres with masks worked in pearls, and had the couches, destined for his pleasures, made of the same costly materials. Nay, we have no longer any right, it would seem, to censure the employment of drinking-cups adorned with precious stones, of various other articles in daily use that are similarly enriched, and of rings that sparkle with gems: for what species of luxury can there be thought of, that was not more innocent in its results than this on the part of Pompeius?

    Story of Caligula's shoes adorned in pearls ... again.


I spotted so many "references to" Narnia and Lord of the Rings, I am much convinced of one thing, both Tolkien and C. S. Lewis had read Pliny the Elder while reading Latin. Gollum grasping for a ring (and taking it from the hand of a dying relative) - and finding fish preciousssssssss. Bilbo throwing the shade of a somewhat fat person. Caspian being a seafarer and amazed at some phenomenon. Tarkheenas and Tisrocs in Tashbaan. Elves holding feasts in trees (perhaps also Digory and Polly holding some on the attic), as well as the party tree. Jadis grand father killed his guests, if by burning, we deal with a reference to Ingjald (an Yngling, see Snorre), but if by poison, the inspiration could as well be Pliny. Since C. S. Lewis did not quite show which it was, he could have thought of both. And Tirian grieving for a horselike friend. And Miraz murdering a competent official ... (or two or three) ...

As to education, this again leaves me jealous of that enjoyed by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien : as they had it not just before World War II, but even before World War I, in which they fought, they had so much more Classics and so much more time to learn languages (for young Jack Lewis : at least after he was given private tutoring as opposed to boarding school), while myself having grown up some decades after World War II have had to deal with so much more Political Correctness about World War II, Italian Fascism, Spanish Fascism, French Revolution in history, less Latin and more conversation skills in modern languages (the latter is a boon, though), several other lessons impregnated by Politically Correct attitudes, precisely as I have also had less time to learn music and composition than had Haydn and Mozart (they learned more on composition and an instrument or two, while I only learned some on composition).

But when it comes to literary references for the existence of Caligula by a contemporary, unless we pick and chose the non-traditional Gospel dates, this is inferior to what Gospels say of Jesus, in substance. Much inferior. If I had the scepticism of Carrier, I could pretend that Pliny is really too late to be a contemporary of Caligula and his wife and incorporated a myth on Caligula, a parody of how an emperor is not supposed to be. (Coins could have some other source and so. Or, just ignore the coins when dealing with Pliny, he is supposed to be an independent witness beside the coins, right?)

This brings us to the references outside Pliny which Carrier enumerates, and I will deal with them next time. Meanwhile, Pliny the Elder, as I have said, is not an historian writing on contemporary current history. Just as I said earlier there was a gap between Velleius Paterculus writing in AD 30 and Tacitus writing again in c. 98 AD.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
First Friday of June
1.VI.2018

jeudi 29 mars 2018

The Kind of Apologist I do Not Want to Be


This* sums it up:

"How you know the Christian is going to lose: he starts with Pascal's Wager, doesn't want to defend Christianity, misunderstands evolution, and dodges every question he can."


  • Pascal's wager can have its uses in evangelising, but it is not an argument you use in debates about truth. It's a long term appeal.
  • Christianity is attacked, so the apologist is there to defend it. If he doesn't want to, he's not an apologist (note, the charge may be erroneous, it could be a case of wanting to defend general Theistic metaphysics first, before going specifically onto that question which God is the true one).
  • I am attacking evolution, but hopefully not by misunderstanding it.
  • I dodge reanswering questions already answered and I dodge atheistic versions of what they call Gish gallop, if I can, but as few other questions as possible. As few serious questions as possible, and my worst dodge would normally be "please wait".


* Sutra Stevens, three months ago. Here. As the debate topic was existence of God, the not wanting to defend specifically Christianity was in fact appropriate.

vendredi 8 décembre 2017

Fig Tree Complaint Revisited


I don't know where this atheist cited by J. P. Holding at 1:42 and before in a video* gets his knowledge of fig trees from, but I have been around where fig trees grow. Not in Holy Land, but in France, where the ripening of figs obviously happens later by a few months.

One of the things which can start a fig tree growing is:

  • a) you eat a fig (or two, or three ...)
  • b) you shit on the ground
  • c) fig seeds are now on the ground with excellent fertiliser.


In other words, fig trees do not need cultivation to grow. Nor to have good fruit.

A fig tree would typically be able to provide food for free to poor people and that from perhaps a month of two weeks before it is ripe for consumption as usually seen. An unripe fig is giving you starch where a ripe fig would give you sugar. And from perhaps 1 month before, perhaps a bit later, you would not get too much bitter stuff along with the starch either.

Eating an unripe fig from a wild fig tree is not the treat we think of as "eating a fig", but it is a makeshift when it comes to stilling your hunger.

Now, while the Greek word for "fruit" suggests sth like ripeness, since it can be picked, the word per se does not mean the fruits have to be actually ripe - especially not with figs, where the unripe fruit is, if not excellent, at least edible (if you are very hungry).

The thing is, from Bethany to Jerusalem city, Christ would normally either be walking over Mount of Olives or bast Bethphage - a place where figs are cultivated.

He would either have seen a self sown fig tree, or the fig tree closest to the limit of a fig orchard.

Now, in the case of a self sown fig tree, very obviously He and anyone else had a right to pick from it. This no one would contest.

In the case of the fig tree closest to limit of an orchard, the law of Moses stated the right of poor (and at least Franciscans claim Jesus was poor during the ministry, He was certainly not working as a carpenter any more and what He had earned from selling His part to an older stepbrother not believing in Him, He had arguably given away to the poor) ... the law of Moses stated the right of the poor to gather at the edges of someone's property and things falling to the ground.

As to figs falling to the ground, not a very good thing. They are sticky and any gravel tends to get caught. But going in and eating inside the edge of the orchard, taking nothing out, that was allowed in the law of Moses.

Now, where Our Lord was planning to eat some, whether a self sown tree or according to parallel case to Deuteronomy 23:24,25, there were no figs. Meaning, there were no unripe figs even. Now, this could be for diverse reasons.

  • figs were anyway from wild figs, and the fig collectors were very early that year
  • a self sown fig tree was competing with the alms of someone who wanted to show off his almsgiving before men, and he had the fruits removed
  • a cultivated fig at the edge of the orchard was too often used by poor and the owner decided - if not against the law, at least against the spirit of the law - to make this impossible
  • it was a male tree with no fruit, good only for pollination.


Reason four would be making a comment on the excessive machismo of Jewish culture. Reason one would be making a comment on greed. And reasons 2 or 3 would involve someone being stingy to the poor in order to push them to take alms from someone rather than from God through the fig tree.

While God has instituted private property, He has also set a limit on it.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Feast of Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8.XII.2017

* Omitting link for now, since J. P. Holding is in same video claiming Our Lady was along with the move to declare Our Lord crazy. Link will be given when I make the post refuting this./HGL

mardi 5 décembre 2017

No More Freewill Than a Bowl of Sugar, Cashmore?


I read a horrifying quote on today's article on CMI:*

Similarly Professor Anthony Cashmore stated, “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.”

Reference : Cashmore, A., The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(10):4499-4504, 2010; pnas.org/content/107/10/4499.full.pdf


OK, Cashmore, how many bowls of sugar are imagining they have freewill?/HGL

* https://creation.com/should-robots-have-rights

mardi 31 octobre 2017

Sipapuni Origin Myths


Should Jimmy Akin Review His View on History? · Sipapuni Origin Myths

Jimmy Akin argued not all origin myths can be taken seriously.

As an example, he cites the one of Hopi and Zuni considering man emerged into the fourth or fifth world at Sipapuni.

FOUND! The Sipapuni!
http://jimmyakin.com/2005/12/found_the_sipap.html


For example, certain long-settled peoples have no memory of their true origins, and they have provided an account based on folklore and mythology.

When this happens, they may say that their people was created by the gods—or otherwise entered the world—in the same territory they now occupy.

This is the case with the Hopi and Zuni tribes of North America, whose origin stories hold that human beings—including themselves—first emerged into this world out of a hole in a rocky mound known as the Sipapuni, which is located on the Colorado River outside Grand Canyon National Park.


From link previously provided. And now, from this link:

Because the Sipapuni is an enormously important location in the folklore of several American Indian tribes, particularly the Hopi and the Zuni.

According to both of these tribes, the Sipapuni is the location from which man emerged into this world. In other words, it’s their equivalent of the Garden of Eden.

According to both tribes (though the details vary), the beings that eventually emerged into the world went through a series of other worlds before climbing up out of the Sipapuni into ours.

In Hopi folklore, this is the fourth world. Things weren’t going so good in the third world, and so they found a way to climb up into a new, largely uninhabited world and became the human race.

In Zuni folklore, humans passed through a series of four caves before emerging through the Sipapuni, making this the fifth world.


Now, I would argue that Sipapuni is rather the Mount Ararat of Hopi and Zuni. And considering Creationists who say Grand Canyon (where Sipapuni is one part) formed during and after the Flood, it is possible that post-Flood early arrivals to Americas saw the formation of Grand Canyon, including Sipapuni. If they forgot about the Old World and real location of Mount Ararat, referring to Sipapuni as equivalent of Mount Ararat is indeed rather correct, relatively speaking.

How do I know it is rather their "Ararat" than their "Eden"?

This account* is attributed to a present-day Hopi and is obviously an oral tradition that the speaker attributes to the Ancestral Puebloan Indians (often called Anasazi - not to the liking of modern Puebloan descendants).

This is the fourth world. The third world was ended by a great flood and some humans were rescued by the ant people. The ant people were much larger than today (about four foot tall), although they did live in the ground. At the end of the third world, the ant people made some kind of commitment [I do not recall to whom] that they would keep these refugees safe during the upcoming flood. So they stored away food, brought the people down and plugged all the holes to the surface. The problem came when the flood lasted longer than expected and rations were ran low. The ant people, being honorable people, kept their commitment to keep the humans safe by giving their own rations to these humans. Eventually the waters did recede and the humans were back on the land emerging from a hole as represented in the kivas. But the ant people having not eaten for some time had shrunk to their present miniature size.


If you look at palaeontological insects, you will find some of them are lost greater than these days. If pre-Flood insects were greater and this was recalled by earliest Palaeo-Indians, this makes sense.

In other words, the confusion is between Sipapuni and Ararat and between anthive and Ark (where rations may have been dangerously low just before hitting Mount Ararat), and therefore, apart from confusing localities, and means of salvation during Flood (it's not collectivist Communism!), the Hopi and Zuni story is vindicated as in some essentials simply true, corresponding to parts of Genesis 1-11.

Note, I think Palaeo-Indians arrived before Babel and therefore speaking Hebrew.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris III, la Mairie
All Hallow's Eve
31.X.2017

* Hopi Creation Myth
http://www.stavacademy.co.uk/mimir/hopicreation.htm

The Gospel Truth, William P. Lazarus, part 3


The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

I was planning to make a post about obvious blunders in William P. Lazarus' book.

I will instead gratify his itch to infirm defenses of Christianity (supposing he can do so), by giving a somewhat hazardous hypothesis or conjecture of mine.

When WPL argues for a movement with forgotten origins getting completely rebooted ones via a novel writer talented Gospeller under pen name Mark and three of his rip offs, he is arguing for a Yeshu from c. 100 years before the one we worship having been the real founder of a sect called Notsri.

This is a very hazardous claim. I will make one myself.

There was a Yeshu c. 100 years before Our Lord, he made himself conspicuous by looking at women he was not married to, he left a rabbi who would otherwise have forgiven him, he went to Egypt and learned magic. He founded a sect which was idolatrous - in Sweden. In Ynglingatal and Ynglingasaga and in Saxo, he is known as Odin.

Pharisees retained the memory. So did other future enemies of Our Lord.

When about 100 years later they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they decided to conflate the account of Him with the memories of Odin's pre-Swedish carreer.

The result of this conflation is a blasphemous book known as Toledot Yeshu.

Betrayal by a disciple called Ischarioto was added from the Christian story, a disciple named Mattai were added from it, execution by Jews was added from it (bypassing their use of Romans). The conflation with an earlier character allowed them to forget Jesus was crucified by Ethnics, by Goyim, because Jews in the time of Pilate had already lost the right to execute death penalties.

It also allowed them to explain the Divine Miracles of God made Man as dark magic, learned by Egyptian magicians.

Note, by the time that Toledot Yeshu is composed ... by the way, when is it composed?

It is certainly attested much later than the canonic Gospels.

A recent study reports that more than 100 manuscripts of the Toledot exist, almost all of them late medieval (the oldest manuscript being from the 11th century).[10] The earliest stratum of composition was probably in Aramaic. There are recensions extant in Hebrew, and later versions in Judeo-Persian and Arabic as well as Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish).[11]

The date of composition cannot be ascertained with certainty and there are conflicting views as to what markers denote dates. For instance, the Toledot refers to Christian festivals and observances that only originated after the 4th century.[12][13] However, in his Incredible Shrinking Son of Man Robert M. Price states that the Toledot Yeshu is "dependent on second-century Jewish-Christian gospel",[14] and Alexander argues that the oral traditions behind the written versions of the Toledot Yeshu might go all the way back to the formation of the canonical narratives themselves.[15]

It is unlikely that one person is the author, since the narrative itself has a number of different versions, which differ in terms of the story details and the attitude towards the central characters. Even individual versions seems to come from a number of storytellers.[1]

Some scholars assert that the source material is no earlier than the 6th century, and the compilation no earlier than the 9th century.[16] Although the individual anecdotes that make up the Toledot Yeshu may all come from sources dating before the sixth century, there is no evidence that their gathering into a single narrative is that early.[17] Some scholars, such as Jeffrey Rubenstein, favour a late composition date, posterior to the seventh century.[18]

The earliest known mention is an oblique mention by Agobard, archbishop of Lyon, circa. 826, and then another mention by his successor, Amulo, circa 849.[3][19] [20] However, since Agobard does not refer to the source by name it cannot be certain that this is the Toledot.[21]

from Toledot Yeshu, wiki cited today
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledot_Yeshu


So, my conjecture is very tenuous indeed. The Toledot could be very late, and so could the material from Mishna and Gemarah where certain hints come from.

Instead of there being a real man c. 100 years before Jesus from Nazareth, one who is remembered in Toledot Yeshu for the purpose of denigrating Our Lord, and one better known in his idolatry from Norse myths and the historic legends of his arrival in Uppsala region, the person described could be purely fictitious, invented as a parady of Our Lord.

By the time the Toledot is composed or its Talmudic very partial sources are composed (except if some should refer to a real pre-Christian false prophet), one is very much further away from the times when the supposed or real Yeshu would have existed, and already at some distance from the life of Our Lord whom the Jews rejected, also, and therefore, with description of an extraneous community, Jewish intellectuals were free to make conflations in denigrating purposes.

The only falsehood they make about their own one is pretending it is a straight on continuation of pre-Jesus and pre-Caiaphas Judaism. By the time the Temple was destroyed it was already not so.

Before making comments on other obvious blunders, I think it is appropriate to comment on this one, making the possibly real person of Sanh 103a/b; Ber 17b, Sanh 107b; Sot 47a (I checked "Jesus in the Talmud" for the references) the key in understanding the Christian community is a heavy overreliance of Jewish sources, and notably of the conflation between this man and Jesus in Sanhedrin 43 (same source, I am obviously not an expert in Judaica).

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris III, la Mairie
All Hallows' Eve
31.X.2017

Wikipedian references
to the quote above:

10
Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) pages 483-484.

11
Gero, Stephan (1988). "Apocryphal Gospels: A Survey". Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (in German and English). Teil II (Band 25 (5 Teilband)): 3991f. ISBN 978-3-11-011893-3.

12
Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) p. 488; also, Leiman, Sid Z., The Scroll of Fasts: The Ninth of Tebeth, Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. n.s. 74, nr. 2 (Oct. 1983) p.186-188, p.195. See also Van Voorst, ‘’op. cit.’’, p.122, 127.

13
Maas, Michael (2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. p. 406. ISBN 0-521-81746-3.

14
Price, Robert (2003) Incredible Shrinking Son of Man pg 40

15
Alexander, P. ‘Jesus and his Mother in the Jewish Anti-Gospel (the Toledot Yeshu)’, in eds. C. Clivaz et al., Infancy Gospels, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck GmbH & Co. KG, 2011, pp. 588-616.

1
Dan, Joseph (2006). "Toledot Yeshu". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Encyclopaedia Judaica. 20 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Gale Virtual Reference Library. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-02-865928-2. Retrieved August 4, 2011.

16
Worth, Roland H., Jr., Alternative Lives of Jesus: Noncanonical accounts through the early Middle Ages (2003, NC, McFarland & Co.) pages 49-50; also, Dan, Joseph, "Toledot Yeshu" in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed. 2007, Farmington Hills, Mich., Macmillin Reference USA) page 29; "The complete narrative, which could not have been written before the tenth century, used earlier sources ....".

17
Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (orig. 1922, Engl. transl. 1925, London, George Allen & Unwin) pages 52-53 ("The present Hebrew Tol'doth Yeshu, even in its earliest form, ... was not composed before the tenth century").

18
effrey L. Rubenstein, Stories of the Babylonian Talmud’’ (2010), p 272: "There is not one shred of evidence that Toledot Yeshu existed in written form in Babylonian in the seventh century, as Gero claims it did, nor that the Bavli knew it."

3
Schäfer, Peter (2002). Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah. Princeton University Press. pp. 211f. ISBN 0-691-09068-8.

19
Agobard of Lyons, De Iudaicis Superstitionibus, cited in Van Voorst, op. cit. [Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. WmB Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 122 ff. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9.]

20
Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) pages 29-30.

21
See Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925), page 53 note.

vendredi 27 octobre 2017

The Gospel Truth, William P. Lazarus, part 2


The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

"In other words, Peter Parker is a hack who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a newsroom, much less receive the industry's highest possible award."


Read More: Peter Parker is a terrible journalist
List item 1 on / Things about Spider-Man comics you only notice as an adult (Looper)
http://www.looper.com/74106/things-spider-man-comics-notice-adult/sl/peter-parker-is-a-terrible-journalist


This is a bit reminding of the journalism of William P. Lazarus. At times.

For one, can he really honestly miss that Reimarus could quite as easily be a pseudepigraphon by Lessing as any Gospel really by a hypothetic non-Mark, non-Luke etc?

But Reimarus' main contribution to theological science was his analysis of the historical Jesus, Apologie oder Schutzschrift für die vernünftigen Verehrer Gottes ("An apology for, or some words in defense of, reasoning worshipers of God" — only read by a few intimate friends during his lifetime), which he left unpublished. After Reimarus' death, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published parts of this work as "Fragments by an Anonymous Writer" in his Zur Geschichte und Literatur in 1774-1778, giving rise to what is known as the Fragmentenstreit.[4] This had a deep impact as the beginning of critical research of the historical Jesus Reimarus pointed out the differences between what Jesus said and what the apostles said, identifying Jesus as a Jewish preacher. Jesus, according to this view, was an apocalyptic prophet preaching about a worldly kingdom soon to come. This view is current in modern scholarship. Reimarus also considered Christianity to be a fabrication. The disciples, he said, stole Jesus’ body to fake his resurrection and found a new religion. This explanation is now considered erroneous, as first demonstrated by another great critic in Jesus scholarship, D. F. Strauss.


WPL says so, as well, and misses the implication. Papias and Irenaeus are at least not claiming to themselves have discovered any hitherto un-published four Gospels. As far as anyone can tell, they were very fine thanks with Gospels coming from the named authors well before they said so, and knowedly to everyone concerned so.

When X claims to publish a hitherto unpublished piece of writing, precisely as when Y claims to open up a hitherto even more esoteric society to interested initiates, they are in a position to make and even fake the product, as much as Joseph Smith to fake gold plates, or fake Nephitic content of non-extant gold-plates or even fake translation of non-extant Nephitic content.

Especially as Lessing on his part is extremely well known adherent of another tenet of Deism, as examplified by his "ring parable", as examplified by Nathan the Wise, in which you find it, namely of making "three Abrahamic religions" (roughly) equivalent (with tacit preference for Judaism) and therefore any specific content of any of the three diverse from others very moot. In other words, had he wanted to fake Reimarus, he had a motive as well as an opportunity.

Now, WPL is, all through several chapters, arguing that whoever wrote the Gospels were people who had both motive (namely to give the sect some content of doctrinal type, thitherto inadequate) and opportunity. The scenario is this:

The early Church of Jerusalem got quite lost. It was eradicated when the Romans came. Therefore, the one faction of several which could have been a corrective, could have given some real tradition from Christ, is as lost as original openly existing order of Templars and men like Jacques Molay were when Scottish Rite Freemasons claimed to represent the Templars.

To be fair, I can buy that Templars did contribute to Speculative freemasonry after infiltrating the operative lodges, just as I can buy that Reimarus actually wrote things which Lessing then published. I don't like any of these, so I can consider them as morally equivalent in badness. Therefore possibly identic in fact. But the point is, with Freemasons impersonating "survived Templar order" or with Lessing finding an unpublished manuscript of Reimarus, we have a historically known, attested in narrative, certain opportunity and at least with reference to Templars a nostalgic motive.

What WPL is saying about the lost Church of Jerusalem is the equivalent of all this, BUT without any historic evidence for it, either implied or presented.

Yes, the Church in Jerusalem was in Jerusalem before AD 70. Yes, Jerusalem was destroyed and those found in it were mostly butchered in year 70. That part is historically correct. What is not correct is to imagine that the Church in Jerusalem remained to be butchered. Heeding the prophecies (yes, the traditional scenario does say they had been made by Christ beforehand), they left Jerusalem in time. What is more, they fled to Pella, in a region which to Isaiah would have been known as "Edom, Moab and Ammon", now Jordan. This means, they were perhaps less consultable for a time, but they survived. They could be consulted again. What is more, they started the Christian Church in Edom, Moab and Ammon, meaning these tribes (with some admixtion of later arrivals) were Christians, under the leadership incoming (invading if you like) from Jerusalem.

WPL also imagines that "the Christian Church" was such a chaos of competing factions that one could not know how close or not close any other Church in any other city was to that in Jerusalem. Like, the Church in Jerusalem never thought of any mission outside Jerusalem, no ... well, Samaria, of course (Acts 8), meaning that there was a Christian population in Judea and Samariah as well as in Galilaea, recruited from Samarian as well as from Jewish religions. And when St James became bishop of Jerusalem, it was because St Peter left to Antioch, from where he later went to Rome.

In other words, the first Church in Jerusalem had not only survived, but also disseminated before having to leave the place for some time.

Wait, there is a little pattern here. Isaiah 11 first says sth midway about "His sepulchre shall be glorious" and then continues to tell us what the Messiah will accomplish (apparently post mortem) after being laid in a sepulchre which was glorious (or became so by the Resurrection). Re-Union of Judah and Israel (Judah and Ephraim, to be precise)? Check, first Church in Jerusalem, second in Samariah. Conquest of Edom, Moab and Ammon? Check, when Church of Jerusalem fled to Pella, they converted these peoples to Christianity.

How do we know these things happened?

They are in Acts. Acts was accepted as a valid self account by the Church. It was an officially approved account. That is what a canonic book of the NT means : officially approved, from start, by the officials of the Church. So, in the last resort, I know this because of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

What does WPL or any late offshot of Lessing-Reimarus type of scholarship against this?

  • Self accounts of communities seen with undue suspicion (unless of modern Western state type) - an ironic reference on whether the Catholic accepts Rome was founded by Romulus (we do, St Augustine considered he was made a god by his followers because they loved him), whether we agree the Spartan dynasty has ruled in Sparta since grandsons of Hercules (we do, another Church Father said "Hercules was a strong man, not a god"), whether we accept Yngling dynasty started with Odin and his stepson Frey (Snorri did and I do, with some hesitation, since Saxo considered immediate Swedish successors to Odin were non-Ynglings - but that could have been another region); WPL seems to take this suspicion (again, except to modern Western state type of community) so for granted, he does not even say so, in the chapters I have so far read - but he implies it in also not believing self account of Israelites previous to King David;
  • The fact Jerusalem was destroyed - but rather than say our explanations why the doctrine from original Church survived is wrong and tell us why, he simply ignores it exists : either he is not aware or does not think it is worth mentioning, in the chapters I have so far read;
  • The fact there were sects rival to "what became" Catholic Christianity (or orthodox, if you prefer) - presented as splinters on an equal footing with each other and with the Church. The funny part is, he claims to know about these sects because of the Church Fathers denouncing it, but he is deaf to what they (notably St Irenaeus and St Ignatius) have to say on continuity of the Church - this he does mention;
  • Silence about the relevant facts of our claim in such and such writers which, according to him, would have been very well equipped to and motivated to mention the facts if they had been true - on his estimation. This also he does mention.


Now, let's deal first with what he does mention, since he thought that most important.

He or Carrier or, I suppose, the late Marcus Borg, would argue or would have argued:

  • We know that Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites and a few more existed, since Church Fathers spent so much time arguing against them;
  • We know of the canon of Marcion before we know of any Christian canon;
  • Therefore we are free to imagine, once Jesus had died, all these groups came from him, and some from Paul, and the one coming from Paul managed to subsume the others and absorb them by gradual doctrinal compromse till Christianity as we know it had emerged.


I would on the other hand argue:

  • We know several groups existed because the Church Fathers spent so much time arguing against them, but from the same source we also know, the heretical groups did not remain the same. By the time when Montanists "emerged", i e were clustering around the charismatic figure Montanus, an anti-Pope, probably Ebionites were already gone, either taking Judaism or taking Christianity without Jewish rites, as the Temple fell, and we see no trace of Ebionites rejecting John (which was written by the Apostle against them) but keeping Synoptics (which they were abusing) - in other words, the Catholic Church has been a constant since Christ, and sects, but no one sect, have been constantly rivalling it (no one sect except Judaism, that is);
  • While Marcion's canon is older than Muratorian fragment, we can well imagine that each book finally making it into NT had at least a good backing from many Churches, it is at least certain they are very different from Marcion's canon;
  • We must conclude, the rival groups were not of an equal type, but later derived imitations and split-offs - precisely as Utah and Texas and California free states and Confederation never were exactly the same as United States.


The point is not that WPL is arguing forcefully against this, the point is, he is ignoring it - even while most of what I said is there in the source material (Church Fathers) from whom they claim to derive it.

Next, silence. Or conspicuous silence.

  • Josephus is silent on Nazareth;
  • Very Early Church Fathers (St Clement I of Rome, St Ignatius of Antioch) don't quote the Gospels;
  • Paul ("our earliest preserved Christian writer" - since he denies Matthaean origin of Matthew) is silent on this and that and sundry, including Jesus having a real body and really walking among us.


Here my answers would be:

  • Josephus was arguably, as already conjectured, refraining from mentioning the Church;
  • Does WPL have ANY idea of how short the combined text of Sts Clement and Ignatius would be? I checked : 32 p. on a printout, 39 p. on a "libre office writer" document, 29 037 words. I came to 13 717 words on 19 chapters of Genesis - and considering the prolix rhetorical epistle style of the episples, "I have become acquainted with your name, much-beloved in God" is less than first of thirteen lines of captatio benevolentiae, which does quote St Paul's Epistle to same Ephesians, btw, considering this, the 13 717 words might be roughly equivalent - also, OT is cited in Clement;
  • St Paul clearly does mention a bodily resurrection in more than one place.*


Another favourite of WPL is silence or absence or inaccessibility of "official records". This means those of the Maccabaean-Jewish authorities as well as those of the Romans.

The word official actually means "on duty". Officium means duty. A judge who writes a letter to his wife is writing off-duty, not officially as to his capacity as judge, but a judge writing a verdict is writing officially, on-duty, as to his capacity as a judge. Obviously, the verdict is equally unofficial and off-duty in his relation to his wife and his letter to his wife is equally official, on-duty, in his capacity as a husband. There is no specific thing about being a judge which makes a man more truthful and reliable in it than in his duties to his wife. A man may be cheating, and therefore lying to his wife. A judge may be corrupt, for money or to suppress opponents, and therefore lie in his verdicts. A wife may be tolerant of inattention and confusion in his letters, but a well reputed judge will often not be challenged as to inattention and confusion in his verdicts.

However, modern historiography arose very lately, in what was then technically Prussia : the kingdom of the Brandenburg dynasty.** Just a bit before it became II Reich. Judges and other administration in Prussia were proud of not being corrupt. Prussian prejudice was for religious tolerance, and therefore against reliance on religious documents. Therefore, logically, the historiography born in Prussia will set more value on official documents of state administration (unless the state is too obviously unlike Prussia, like Iroquois federation for having oral records and not keeping up administration, or Spanish one in admitting miracles and Catholic dogma), than on religious officials.

I do not advise WPL to stay with this ideology, it can't be replicated successfully when arguing for the Holocaust and deaths in gas chambers. I don't know any person whose death in a gas chamber was officially recorded as such by the administration of camps, arising in the Prussian tradition. A code 6, Sonderbehandlung, was officially recorded, it is now thought to mean "death by gas chamber", but that is not what the official documents directly say. If we have any reasonable knowledge of anyone actually dying in a gas chamber and not in any other way nor surviving, it is from the kind of factors this type of historiography deems hopelessly inadequate : personal memory, collective memory of a community with victim status. There is one official document from Israel, from a court, in which 50 people swear on oath having seen and survived seeing gassings. There are obviously official documents from Nuremberg trials implying this was done, by investigating who was most culpable for it. Again, these are not official documents from the administration in place when this was - at least supposedly - happening.

You consider it proven gas chambers were used to kill people, I might (perhaps risking prison or mental hospital for saying so, perhaps something else***) disagree. I do NOT disagree that this or that or sundry survivor was badly treated. Like Marcel Cling. Or that at least one person is known to have been going into a gas chamber, but getting out of it alive, namely Jo Wajsblat. I do not disagree, because I do consider personal testimony of Marcel Cling and Jo Wajsblat as proof, even while it is not in the Prussian sense an official document. So, you want to prove camp guards were (often enough to hurt) the extreme brutal equivalent of school yard bullies, you also do not wish to stay with this ideology of historiography.

So, you might want to reassess your criteria for historic reliability a bit.

If you do, one of the things you will notice is that apologias are sometimes private ventures (as in Justin Martyr), sometimes more like official responses (when by men like Origen writing Against Celsus on demand). Either way, them not being state administration type of official does not mean that they can't be used as historic proof.

The real answer to the challenge given in this type of argument, over more than one chapter, is that the Catholic Tradition on Church history is reliable self record of a community. The fact that Gnostics and Marcionites are not giving their version in it is irrelevant (except to a hopelessly Prussian mind). If we had had the self record of these sects, we would not see them going straight back to all of the apostles. Cerinthus would have needed some kind of excuse for the real disciple of Our Lord, St John, shunning him to the point of very quickly leaving a bath where he was entering, and explaining the gesture by saying a house where Cerinthus enters is more at risk than other houses of fallin victim to the wrath of God. We don't have the Church history of Cerinthus' Church. It might be interesting, but I don't think we need it to assess that of the Catholic Church as correct.

Now, I said I have read several chapters after that first on which I made, there was more in them than just this. This time, I am not going chapter by chapter, but taking certain thematics across chapters. Next thematic will be a few obvious blunders in WPL's work, after that I will go to a few real difficulties (I will admit the archaeological difficulty on Nazareth is one I have no full solution to - except the general one, not everything is preserved in archaeology).

The silence of Josephus, on the other hand, I have no problem in explaining.

  • 1) It could be a "wait and see" type of silence, as I suggested previously;
  • 2) it could also be that apart from briefly mentioning Christ Jesus among the portents and calamities in the days of Pilate, Josephus thought the Christian Church outside his scope, because, unlike what WPL contents, it was already markedly something different from Judaism.


Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Vigil of Sts Simon and Jude°
27.X.2017

Notes:

* I enumerated quotes from Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians in this earlier response:

Twelve Pieces of a Doherty Puzzle (it's Too Early to Dismiss Historicity)
http://notontimsblogroundhere.blogspot.fr/2014/04/twelve-pieces-of-doherty-puzzle-its-too.html


** I presume the Weibull school of Sweden is somewhat later.

*** I seem to have been pretty clearly silenced as far as others recognising me as a writer is concerned, in their writings. For instance.

° Yesterday, it was St Evaristus, a Pope of Rome who was martyred under Emperor Hadrian.

mercredi 25 octobre 2017

The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus, part 1


The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

The author after a brief intro on his personal history sets himself to the task of exploring what sources where available to St Mark when he wrote after AD 70.

That St Mark could have taken down dictation from St Peter, who was reading alternatively from Gospels of Matthew and Luke (skipping some and adding some from own memories), as Clement the Stromatist tells us, seems not even worth a mention. That this happened before St Peter was killed in Rome under Nero, therefore well before AD 70, seems totally foreign to William P. Lazarus. That Sts Matthew and Luke could have been on one hand recalling correctly (Matthew being trained as a scribe before being one of the twelve disciples, like any other Levite) could perhaps be considered as a myth by William P. Lazarus, though he does not tell us on what grounds he dismisses historicity thereof.

In other words, WPL, as I will abbreviate him, is giving a scenario which I consider as free fantasy novel. So far, my resumé of chapter 1.

Now, WPL is unlike his "Mark" (the one who set out to write down what wasn't written down until it was too late) known as to his source, the myth is set up by modern scholars. WPL is trying to fill in the details.

He does mention Tacitus as getting his information from Christians. However, Tacitus writes about Christians martyred under Nero. He was himelf 8 years old when this happened. He is for this period citing historians the full texts of which are lost to us. WPL argues, Tacitus could have heard the details from Christians well after "Mark wrote after AD 70". I argue, the historians in question could have heard these from Christians at the time when Nero was persecuting these, they could be lost to us, because too close to the Christians.

This means, Tacitus' words are presumably proof not just of what Christians believed in his time of writing, but of what they had believed in the times of Nero. I note, there is a doubt on this, Tacitus could have had the information when writing Annals, and this could, with a much more remote possibility, have been something other than back then - a possibility so remote as to be practically unbelievable, we'll get back to that later.

Then WPL goes to some length in dealing with Josephus.

His proof for Testimonium Flavianum not being genuine is (citing verbatim from page 9):

Unfortunately, prior to that time [of Eusebius, who mentioned TF], at least 16 church fathers [sic!] are known to have commented on Josephus without mention of this paragraph. If it had existed, they would not have overlooked it or complained, as they did, that Josephus overlooked Jesus.


Now, we have a problem. WPL gives no footnote. I cannot check which 16 Church Fathers* [!] WPL means, nor how many of them were commenting on the Jewish War rather than on Antiquities, nor how many complain of him overlooking Jesus and in what terms.

I know Richard Carrier mentions Origen or Clement or both in this context. That is 1 or 2. One of them could be depending on the other who could have had a faulty manuscript or done a sloppy reading - or the complaint was not meant as "overlooking" in the sense of not mentioning, but a lament that Josephus had not acknowledged Him as the Messiah.

Speaking of Messianic claims, WPL very freely swings around with Jesus not being politically a Messiah equating with Jesus not being the Messiah tout court. I get details of two failed Messiah's. WPL thinks it significant Josephus mentions them, but not Jesus. So do I : recall the test of Gamaliel in Acts?

Acts 5 : 34 But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, by name Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while.

35 And he said to them; Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves, what you are about to do with these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be some body, whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined; who was slain: and all who believed him, were dispersed, and brought to nothing.

37 After this man rose up Judas, of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling, and drew away the people after him: he also perished: and all who adhered to him, were dispersed.

38 And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel, or this work be of men, it will come to nothing:

39 But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they agreed with him.

The reason why Josephus gives no longer account than the TF could be that Christianity in his eyes, according to this criterium, was not yet tested. He was not satisfied it was of God (for whatever pilpul reason), but also satisfied it had not gone down the sink like Theodas. It seems Theodas mentioned by Gamaliel in Acts and the Theudas mentioned by Josephus could be the same person (WPL expressly says he is mentioned by both Josephus and Bible), however, here is an account:

Theudas died in about 45 A.D. Apparently, he was trying to recreate the Exodus, possibly by crossing the Jordan River. The Judean procurator of the time, Fadus, promptly sent troops who massacred them. Theudas' head was then displayed in Jerusalem (Ant:20.5,1, ver. 97-98) [my emphases]


As far as I can see, we have a problem. The apprehension which is shown in Acts 5 is in AD 33. This means, Gamaliel cannot have heard of anything in AD 45 yet. The Theodas he is talking about must be way earlier. There are diverse possibilities:

  • the Bible account could be anachronostic (which as a Christian I will not accept);
  • Josephus could have been misquoted, but was not (I just checked);
  • Theudas in Josephus and Theodas in Acts could be different persons;
  • they could be same person, but Gamaliel looking back to a previous, less dramatic event;
  • Josephus could have been heir to a deliberately anachronostic tradition, misplacing Theodas from times of Pilate or before to times of Fadus;


... this last could have been made in order to discredit Acts as anachronistic. It could also be, Fadus committed another massacre in which Christian Jews were victims, and the démise of Theodas could have been attached to the story so as to remain patriotic while at the same time not attaching memories of loved ones to THAT sect, the one of Theodas being of course less objectionable. But either way, considering that Josephus' silence (relatively) on Jesus and open reference to full story of sect of Theodas (vanishing when his head is displayed in Jerusalem), proves Josephus knew very few facts about Christians because there were very few to know in the first place is totally moot.

Josephus could exactly just as well have kept quiet because he was not yet sure of what to say in the last resort, the story of Christianity not having been over yet in his time, nor is it over in ours.

Before I end, I cannot really take seriously how William P. Lazarus claims basically that inconsistencies between Gospels prove at least some of them are not historic and therefore probably none of them. On page 1 he refers to his daddy teaching in Sunday school and getting a Bible. On page 193, we learn he grew up in a Jewish family. I mean, why would Jews give their sons a whole Bible including New Testament? And why would a Jewish person teaching children religion be referred to as teaching in Sunday School? Wouldn't it be Sabbath school? Oh, of course, later editors have tried to harmonise this by on p. 193 adding the totally spurious reference "by age 13, he was teaching Sunday School at a Conservative synagogue" implying that Jews in his time had taken over the Evangelical vocaublary of "Sunday School" and equally, on page 1, the same very fraudulent editor tried to hide WPL's father being Evangelical by adding a passage about "the 'Old' Testament or the Jewish Bible; and the 'New Testament' or the Christian Bible" - but that is obviously a very clear smokescreen to obfuscate a screamingly clear contradiction between the sources of this compilation ... unless of course, the harmonisation happens to be the exact truth, in which case William P. Lazarus could have some humility about attempted and sometimes perhaps successful harmonisations between the Gospel accounts as well!

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Chrysantus and his
wife, Daria, martyrs
25.X.2017

* Church Father, like Blessed, Doctor of the Church, Venerable, is a title for a deceased person, only the last one can be used for living ones. Titles are capitalised.