jeudi 10 novembre 2011

Plagiarism charge

Miracles and the Book of Mormon (there is the word demon in the url, wonder why?):

Ruth Tucker is an evangelical Christian. In her excellent book, 'Another Gospel', (Zondervan,1989), she examines the beliefs of Mormons, Moonies, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. Here is what she says about the Book of Mormon.

"Many of the stories in the Book of Mormon were, as Fawn Brodie and many others have shown, borrowed from the Bible. The daughter of Jared, like Salome, danced before a king and decapitation followed. Aminadi, like Daniel, deciphered handwriting on a wall, and Alma was converted after the exact fashion of St. Paul. The daughters of the Lamanites were abducted like the dancing daughters of Shiloh; and Ammon, the American counterpart of David, for want of a Goliath slew six sheep-rustlers with his sling".

What could be more obvious and clear-cut?

Note here, the book of Mormon is supposed to be about other people than the ones in the Old Testament. A bit suspicious if all that ever happens to them has its exactest very prosaic parallels in the Old Testament.

Or take Chapter 2 Verse 249 of the Koran, which is about the first king of Israel, called Talut in the Koran.

So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it. So when he had crossed it, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have today no power against Jalut and his forces.

Christians will at once recognise this strange story about how God tested the army of the Israelites by making them drink from a river. It is found in Judges 7:4-7. Perhaps the details of other Biblical stories were also weaved together into this one story.

Here, please note, that if the Quraan is supposed to be about the same people as for instance Old and New Testaments, it is very fishy how many details differ - precisely as it is fishy when Miryam/Maryam sister of Moses is identified with Mary/Maryam, Mother of Jesus - or when Jesus has a name which corresponds closer to Esau than to Jesus. And Quraan is the younger testimony, the one very much further away in time from the events, meaning that the Old Testament account trumps the one of the Quraan. As does the Testimony of the New Testament.

Quraan is nearly six hundred years younger than Gospels - which were contemporary evidence or at least within a century. Quraan is also younger than Exodus etc. - which was also a contemporary evidence. There the factor is about two thousand years younger.

Here are two cases that are pretty different, but where the page does not go into details of that difference at all. Only the common denominator or "plagiarism" comes into account, and then, by parallel reasoning - the parallel does break down on a certain point, if we remember my analysis of the given items - they go on to:

Take the feeding of the 5,000.

In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha has a great many people to feed with only a few loaves of bread and a little other food. He delegates the task of feeding. There is a complaint that the quantity is too small. The feeding continues and everyone is fed. There is surplus bread left over. This older story from Kings has exactly the same plot as the feeding of the 5,000 - only the numbers are different.

The feeding of the 5,000 is such an obvious rewrite of the story from Kings that if I remind you that Jesus used barley bread, you can guess what type of bread Elisha used.

On page 176 of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, written by a raft of Catholic scholars, it says that 2 Kings 4:42-44 is 'obviously the inspiration for the NT multiplication miracles'. I like the word 'obviously'.

Difference from Quraan? Elisha and Jesus are supposed to be two different persons. They are two different pesons. The story about Jesus is not a garbled version of the story about Elisha, for every one of those Christians knew that Elisha had multiplied loaves before Our Lord.

Difference from Book of Mormon? That book only - with pretty few exceptions and those crucial to Mormonism, like a people of God in the Americas and Christ going there to peach (crucial as replacement of the Catholic Church, as inheritor of Christ's promise at end of Gospel of St Matthew), everything is a remake (often in prosaic detail) of an Old Testament story, but it is improbable - I have not read it - that Mormon's Book exhausts the riches of the Old testament. In Jesus' case, everything in the Old Testament is indeed somehow or other related to Jesus, but not only that, lots of Pagan mythologies and some philosophies too are so.

Elisha multiplied loaves of bread once and Christ did so twice. Elijah raised a widow's boy child from the dead and so did Jesus (from the same region, I seem to recall too). Now, multiplying loaves and raising dead are pretty exact parallels, but there is nothing prosaic about them.

Joseph and Daniel were thrown into miserable prisons and raised out of them - the one mainly to save from starvation, the other to witness to truth. But Christ was not only down in a pit, he was down in Sheôl - and he raised himself as opposed to being let out by his judges. And Pilate and Kaiphas were both far more evil than either Potiphar or Nebuchadnessar. Indeed, Potiphar's wife was Potiphar's excuse, since he listened to her. Pilate's wife could have been Pilate's rescue from evil-doing - if he had dared listen to her. Here there is indeed a parallel, even exactitude in the parallel, but not prosaic sameness, rather opposition: Christ was up against far greater odds than ever Daniel or Joseph. And it was the Holy Land that became by that Deicide a land parallel to the exile lands of Egypt and Babylon.

That there are Pagan parallels is commonplace. I would say that every Pagan myth in some sense touches either the mystery of Christ or the mystery of Antichrist - except when it is as garbled a version of Old Testament story as the Quraan. Deucalion and Pyrrha - as I have noted elsewhere - is a myth telescoping the Flood, the destruction of Sodom, the visit of the angels to Lot and to Abraham and Sarah before Lot. Plus a sentence or two from Creation account and account of the fall. Much as the Quraan is quite capable of telescoping Our Lord's family with Moses' family. Just a few thousand years between them. But there are Pagan myths that are not like that. And some show us Antichrist, some show us Christ. And these are history from the Pagan countries - though sometimes garbled history.

Osiris has been taken a model for resurrection. Sadly enough a resurrection incomplete and magically made by his wife Isis. St Mary, unlike Isis, had no divine powers to raise her Son with, it was the Son who was divine and raised himself.

Krishna has been taken as model for Ascension, by none less than Acharya Sanning. Yeah, right: his soul ascends to Heaven, as shown to a poet, in a dream ... yawn (literally, but that is lack of sleep too, I sleep in places where I am woken up too early). Nothing like Our Lord Resurrecting first and then showing himself as resurrected, not just to close family like Horus, but to 11 and some women and two and five hundred and ... then Rising up to Heaven before their very eyes.

No, the Plagiarism charge will not stick. Plagiarise one source, it is Plagiarism. Plagiarise two, it is Compilation. Plagiarise three or more, it is Original Work. Especially as the supposed Plagiarism is witness accounts.

Now, if 607 verses in St Mark are identical to 607 verses in St Matthew, then maybe St Matthew plagiarised St Mark, as this page says, but then again, maybe St Mark based his one on two eyewitness accounts: St Matthew whom he could read and St Peter whom he could listen to. And some are coincidence, because saying the same things in different words is not easy if both stick to simple words as much as possible. This is of course what we Christians believe to be the case.

Hans-Georg Lundahl

Laws of nature

Evidence*) can be deduced for or against the occurrence of specific events, but such evidence *relies* on general laws. That is because the whole theoretical model of scientific explanation rests on the idea that *every* particular event is subsumed under general rules. We test the rules by reference to the data, which in turn are comprised of specific events.

That brings us back to the guy who without looking at registers assumes he has 32 different persons as grandfather's grandfather's father and so on up to grandmother's grandmother's mother. He is subsuming the specific event under the general rule, but he is stating the general rule sloppily. Just because - being sufficiently distantb from first men - he has to have a grandfather's grandfather's father (or rather eight, but one of them a father's father's father's father's father) as well as a grandmother's grandmother's father (eight, one of them a mother's mother's mother's mother's father) he cannot really know, but he thought he knew, that they were two different persons.

In Western Larger Cities, having 28 - 32 different persons in that generation is not at all uncommon, due to avoiding of close relatives. I think that excepting Jews and Gipsies, who avoid cousin marriages less, as well as recent Near East Immigration, 28 - 32 different people is more common than anywhere between 4 - 26, whereas 2 would be outstanding: in order to have only two of them, one would have to be either five generations after Adam and Eve, or five generations on an isolated island which started out with a single couple like Adam and Eve.

Now, as said earlier: if a man who was really fifth from Adam and Eve (but living away from them, in Nod East of Eden, and so not seeing them) were to extrapolate from the fact that as everyone has two parents, every parent is someone who has two parents, and so on, and conclude that he had 32 different persons five generations back rather than Adam and Eve having sixteen ancestor roles each, would be getting the general rule wrong, because he tried to formulate the general rule before discounting evidence because it conflicted with the general rule.

So, just for example, we can't "test" the hypothesis that the sun went down on July 28, 50000 BC. It's an event, not an explanation. But if someone asked what evidence we have for the truth of the proposition, we could only appeal to the observably law-governed motion of the planet, and the absence of any well-attested discontinuity.

A Christian can reply: it did not set back then, because that year did not exist. God created Heaven and Earth, I will not say later than then, because that gives a false view of God's eternity before creating, if I got St Thomas Aquinas right, but more recently. I will also reply that discontinuities are attested:

  • a) 24 h standstill in Joshua's times;
  • b) one King of Judah asking a prophet to make the sun go backwards two measures on the sun watch (probable limit between equinox Taurus and equinox Pisces if only sun, but neither moon nor fixed stars went back);
  • c) one of those probably equals the exaggerated account of Greeks of Sun rising in the West and setting in the East, when Thyestes made Atreus eat his own sons;
  • d) the two occasions are confirmed losely also by Egyptian astronomers who reported four irregularities for the last ten thousand years (=more than the world existed, thus Egyptians have deliberately misdated to make their culture and knowledge look older than it is).

As for sources neither Jewish, Greek or Egyptian, their records do not reach uninterruptedly as far back as that. As far laws, the one who claims that the Sun obeying Joshua is impossible is very like a man who claims it is impossible that potato cut into pieces can take half an hour to boil soft, from when water starts boiling, because he knows it takes ten minutes at sea level (twenty for big uncut potatoes) and he has never been at Titicaca. Saying there is neither any God nor any angel who can do what bodily creatures cannot, is misstating the laws of nature. And, as in water boiling at 100°C, misstating in such a way that one can live very long without seing the mistake corrected.

I'd prefer not to distinguish between facts and laws, since laws (at least in the framework I'm supposing) are just a certain type of general fact. But, obviously, they're quite different from reports of specific events. To confuse those two sorts of things is just very sloppy.

Precisely: laws are general facts and need scientific explanation and repetated universal or next-to-universal attestation. Specific events are not general and need attestation.

If frequency of attestation is the rule by which we go in accepting or rejecting not so probable events, miracles are in as good a position as plagues or wars - or even better.

If rejection of the supernatural is your rule, because acceptance of the supernatural would in your eyes make the general principle you enounced harder or - though that is just your take - impossible to apply, then you are no longer in a position of inquiring about whether miracles occur, but in the position of one rejecting them. On a certain principle.

Quite obviously, we Christians would not be sharing that principle. So, either the principle is not self evident, or we are unusually stupid for not grasping a self evident principle. Indeed, seeing that atheist materialists are such a clear minority of the World Population, most of the world would be unusually stupid and only a minority sane as usual - but then that "sane as usual" would no longer be "as usual" but rather exceptional. So, where does your principled superiority over the rest of humanity come from? A good question to ask before bowing down to you wisdom, I should think.

It does not come from the logic of your mate who - after reading my previous post here - asks "what sober witness would state that dead men walked" about St Matthew, as if that were a self-evident principle between both parties, and on top of it misses that the one Apostle to be certain eyewitness to the Crucifixion is also the one who reports that blood and water came from Christ's side when St Longinus pierced Our Lord's side with his lance. Nor from his confusion about "not stating same things" as if it were tantamount to stating contradictory things.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
*)On the thread under these arguments came up.

dimanche 6 novembre 2011

Challenge on Gospels.

I was saying on P Z Myers' blog comments that eywitness accounts trump reconstruction. That fuelled a challenge about eywitness accounts as such.

None of the gospels were written by eyewitnesses.

Two were, St Matthew (not present on Crucufixion) and St John (present on Crucifixion). The other two had access to eyewitness accounts.

They don't agree on what Jesus's last words were.

Last on Cross? There were seven in total, spread through the four Gospels. First two include and latter two omit the Psalm quote in Hebrew with Aramaic adress to God and spoonerism in the verb, antepenultime word. Other inclusions and omissions are there for other words among the seven, like only St John giving us "woman, see thy son" and "see thy mother" - impossible for him to miss for obvious personal reasons.

St John: Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. St Luke: And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost. St Mark: And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.=St Matthew: And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

The two that give us psalm 22 before vinegar omit the following two words only giving is the fact that one of them was cried out load and one followed by death, of which the one on consummation is immediately after vinegar and the one on the Father's hands immediately before the giving up of his ghost.

They don't agree on what happened when Jesus allegedly died.

St Matthew: [51] And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent. [52] And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, [53] And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. [54] Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake, and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. St Mark: [38] And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. [39] And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God. St Luke: [47] Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man. St John: [31] Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. [32] The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. [33] But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. [35] And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.

Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke are shorter and shorter, St John gives a different line of events without contradicting the one given by St Matthew.

They don't agree on the location of his tomb.

Only St John gives location. The apparent contradiction is only there if a) Pilate was away from that place, in his palace, and b) he also gave the body as present before him, but c) either he was away and only ordered the body to be given or he was there if the body was before him.

They don't agree on how he was prepared for burial.

St Matthew: [59] And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. [60] And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way. [61] And there was there Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre. St Mark: [46] And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre. [47] And Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of Joseph, beheld where he was laid. St Luke: [53] And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. [54] And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. [55] And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. [56] And returning, they prepared spices and ointments; and on the sabbath day they rested, according to the commandment. St John: [38] And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. [39] And Nicodemus also came, (he who at the first came to Jesus by night,) bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. [40] They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. [41] Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. [42] There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

St John is the one who tells us that Nicodemus brought the spices, but that is no contradiction to the myrrhophores thinking they have to supply spices. None says that the myrrhophores saw the whole process.

They don't agree on who or how many found the alleged empty tomb, who was there when they found it, and what happened afterward.

Since more than one finding of the empty tomb was done, it is no inconvenience if one sees the angels and another not. They have had time to move about.

They don't agree on when and where Jesus allegedly reappeared, and what happened after that.

There were more appearances than one, hence the same solution as to previous.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
George Pompidou Library
of Paris
Sunday the 6 of October Nov.
YooL 2011

mercredi 25 mai 2011

Acharya S supports illogical argument of Earl Doherty

giving an excerpt in her letter:

Doherty is most at home when analyzing the Pauline epistles, drawing on an earlier lineage of scholars who recognized there is next to nothing in them indicating a "historical" Jesus. In this regard, Earl correctly identifies that when Paul is speaking of "scripture" and "prophetic writings," he is referring to the Old Testament, specifically the Greek translation or Septuagint. In that book, the word "Christos" appears some three dozen times, and it is evident that, in his revelation of Christ, Paul is building upon so-called "messianic prophecies," not the words or deeds of a "historical" Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, the canonical Christ represents not "fulfillment of prophecy" but, rather, a patchwork of Old Testament "messianic scriptures," amalgamated with Pagan philosophical notions and mythical motifs, along with both Jewish and Gentile wisdom sayings. Christ is, through and through, a literary figure, handily demonstrated in this lengthy book.

OK the arguments of some people, already known plus this one go something like this: Christ prophecied the destruction of Jerusalem, ergo (sic!) the Gospels were written after or at least not long before Anno Domini 70. Christ was prophecied by Isaiah and others tima after time, aspect after aspect of his life, ergo (sic!) he never existed, St Paul made up a fulfilment out of nothing but (otherwise so far unfulfilled) OT prophecy.

Do I see a question begging argument? How do either of these guys know anything about whether fulfilled prophecy happens or not? They seem to be just presuming it does not happen. And to be dealing with all evidence according to that presumption./HGL

mardi 10 mai 2011

Ascension plagiarises Krishna myth? No.

1) Ascension plagiarises Krishna myth? No., 2) Two slight differences with Dr Craig

Acharya seems to get Mahabharata wrong:

"A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking Keshava, who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga and endued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, and filled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour. When he reached Heaven, Vasava and the twin Ashvinis and Rudra and the Adityas and the Vasus and the Viswedevas, and Munis and Siddhas and many foremost ones among the Gandharvas, with the Apsaras, advanced to receive him. Then, O king, the illustrious Narayana of fierce energy, the Creator and Destroyer of all, that preceptor of Yoga, filling Heaven with his splendour, reached his own inconceivable region. Krishna then met the deities and (celestial) Rishis and Charanas, O king, and the foremost ones among the Gandharvas and many beautiful Apsaras and Siddhas and Saddhyas. All of them, bending in humility, worshipped him. The deities all saluted him, O monarch, and many foremost of Munis and Rishis worshipped him who was the Lord of all. The Gandharvas waited on him, hymning his praises, and Indra also joyfully praised him."*


"Thus addressed by Pritha’s son of pure deeds, all of them hastened their preparations with eagerness for achieving their safety. Arjuna passed that night in the mansion of Keshava. He was suddenly overwhelmed with great grief and stupefaction. When morning dawned, Vasudeva of great energy and prowess attained, through the aid of Yoga, to the highest goal. A loud and heart-rending sound of wailing was heard in Vasudeva’s mansion, uttered by the weeping ladies. They were seen with dishevelled hair and divested of ornaments and floral wreaths. Beating their breasts with their hands, they indulged in heart-rending lamentations. Those foremost of women, Devaki and Bhadra and Rohini and Madira threw themselves on the bodies of their lord. Then Partha caused the body of his uncle to be carried out on a costly vehicle borne on the shoulders of men. It was followed by all the citizens of Dwaraka and the people of the provinces, all of whom, deeply afflicted by grief, had been well-affected towards the deceased hero. Before that vehicle were borne the umbrella which had been held over his head at the conclusion of the horse-sacrifice he had achieved while living, and also the blazing fires he had daily worshipped, with the priests that had used to attend to them. The body of the hero was followed by his wives decked in ornaments and surrounded by thousands of women and thousands of their daughters-in-law. The last rites were then performed at that spot which had been agreeable to him while he was alive. The four wives of that heroic son of Sura ascended the funeral pyre and were consumed with the body of their lord. All of them attained to those regions of felicity which were his. The son of Pandu burnt the body of his uncle together with those four wives of his, using diverse kinds of scents and perfumed wood. As the funeral pyre blazed up, a loud sound was heard of the burning wood and other combustible materials, along with the clear chant of Samans and the wailing of the citizens and others who witnessed the rite. After it was all over, the boys of the Vrishni and Andhaka races, headed by Vajra, as also the ladies, offered oblations of water to the high-souled hero.**

So Krishna does very much not resurrect bodily and ascend bodily into Heaven, it is only his soul that ascends and we get to know that through a vision or not at all except through (at least this locus) the poet's speculation. Do not get me wrong, he may well have lived up to that death and gotten burned that way, but there is nothing like any claim of eye-witness that he rose and was later taken up to Heaven.

Look how big the contrast is with Christ according to the Gospels:

Q. 408***. What do we mean when we say Christ rose "glorious" from the dead?

A. When we say Christ rose "glorious" from the dead we mean that His body was in a glorified state; that is, gifted with the qualities of a glorified body.

Q. 409. What are the qualities of a glorified body?

A. The qualities of a glorified body are:

Brilliancy, by which it gives forth light;
Agility, by which it moves from place to place as rapidly as an angel;
Subtility, by which material things cannot shut it out;
Impassibility, by which it is made incapable of suffering.

Q. 410. Was Christ three full days in the tomb?

A. Christ was not three full days, but only parts of three days in the tomb.

Q. 411. How long did Christ stay on earth after His resurrection?

A. Christ stayed on earth forty days after His resurrection, to show that He was truly risen from the dead, and to instruct His apostles.

Q. 412. Was Christ visible to all and at all times during the forty days He remained on earth after His resurrection?

A. Christ was not visible to all nor at all times during the forty days He remained on earth after His resurrection. We know that He appeared to His apostles and others at least nine times, though He may have appeared oftener.

Q. 413. How did Christ show that He was truly risen from the dead?

A. Christ showed that He was truly risen from the dead by eating and conversing with His Apostles and others to whom He appeared. He showed the wounds in His hands, feet and side, and it was after His resurrection that He gave to His Apostles the power to forgive sins.

Q. 414. After Christ had remained forty days on earth, whither did He go?

A. After forty days Christ ascended into heaven, and the day on which be ascended into heaven is called Ascension Day.

Q. 415. Where did the ascension of Our Lord take place?

A. Christ ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet, the place made sacred by His agony on the night before His death.

Q. 416. Who were present at the ascension and who ascended with Christ?

A. From various parts of Scripture we may conclude there were about 125 persons -- though traditions tell us there was a greater number -- present at the Ascension. They were the Apostles, the Disciples, the pious women and others who had followed Our Blessed Lord. The souls of the just who were waiting in Limbo for the redemption ascended with Christ.

If, as Acharya claims, this was not the original Christian witness and belief - how could anything like the Krishna story change that much and into that? Neither Hercules nor Krishna are anything like parallel.

Hans-Georg Lundahl



Srimad-Bhagavatam / Bhagavata Purana, canto 11, gives the same version, basically: there is no visible ascension. All about Krishna's ascension into the highest abodes of the gods is theological conclusion or poetic prophecy rather than witnessed fact. I am not sure if the text means Arjuna buried him along with the Yadu dynasty, or whether it means he just disappeared totally, but either way no ascension is verified by human eye-witnesses. Therefore, once more, the Ascension of Christ is not a plagiarism of Krishna's disappearance.

canto 11:30

A quote indicating that this might have been before the Flood:

"You and your relatives should not remain in Dvārakā, the capital of the Yadus, because once I have abandoned that city it will be inundated by the ocean."

If this is so, there may have been quite a lot of mistakes in the transmission between the Tower of Babel and the final Hindoo writings down - with Srimad-Bhagavatam / Bhagavata Purana and Mahabharata disagreeing on detail, it would seem. A rumour of invisible ascension to Heaven may reflect the known one of Henoch. But of course Henoch did not want to be worshipped. The massacres of the Yadu dynasty or the battle of the Bharatas or both may reflect the general demoralisation before the Flood./HGL

vendredi 22 avril 2011

1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

I will discuss, of each, who did not mention Our Lord, why this is so, quoting only relevant passages from wikipedia articles.

Aufidius Bassus - preserved in fragments only (in Suasoriae of Seneca the elder)

his Histories (as said only in fragments preserved) were continued by the Elder Pliny of whom wikipedians anonymously wrote:

Meanwhile he was completing the twenty books of his History of the German Wars, the only authority expressly quoted in the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus* and probably one of the principal authorities for the Germania. It disappeared in favor of the writings of Tacitus (which are far shorter), and, early in the 5th century, Symmachus had little hope of finding a copy.**
Like Caligula, Nero seemed to grow gradually more insane as his reign progressed. Pliny devoted much of his time to writing on the comparatively safe subjects of grammar and rhetoric. He published a three-book, six-volume educational manual on rhetoric, entitled Studiosus, "the Student." Pliny the Younger says of it: "the orator is trained from his very cradle and perfected."***

*Tacitus Annals, I 69

**Symmachus. "IV.18". Letters.

*** Pliny the Younger. III.5 To Baebius Macer. Letters..

I totally believe this: Grammatic and Rhetoric training was, during XX C at its best in Soviet Russia, where the once trained Rhetorician, if critical of government, risked the most, and if critical of opponents either beaten or on the outside (but also a bit generous to some of them, so as not to appear biassed) could count on favour.
Ban Gu /Pan Ku and Ban Biao/Pan Piao are Chinamen, so was Liu Xin/Liu Hsin: all non-Roman ones are Chinese. So Roman Empire and China were better documented than other places.
Dio Chrysostomus
Dio Chrysostom (Δίων Χρυσόστομος ), Dion of Prusa or Dio Cocceianus (ca. 40 - ca. 120)
Eighty of his Discourses (or Orations) are extant, as well as a few Letters and a funny mock essay In Praise of Hair*, as well as a few other fragments.
He wrote many other philosophical and historical works, none of which survive. One of these works, Getica, was on the Getae,** which the Suda incorrectly attributes to Dio Cassius.***

*And this work does not enumerate Our Lord Jesus Christ among famous longhaired people? Maybe because early iconography is about the Good Shepherd and shows Our Lord short haired. Or maybe because a memeber of second sophistic school was not to eager on quoting Christian material, as it was highly controversial.

**Philostratus, Vitae sophistorum i.7

***Suda, Dion

Unfortunately, none of the actual works survive. They do live on as sources for the surviving histories of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Suetonius quotes Claudius' autobiography once, and must have used it as a source numerous times. Tacitus uses Claudius' own arguments for the orthographical innovations mentioned above, and may have used him for some of the more antiquarian passages in his annals. Claudius is the source for numerous passages of Pliny's Natural History.*

*See Momigliano (1934) Chap. 1, note 20 (p. 83). Pliny credits him by name in Book VII 35.
Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are incomplete.

Right, he should have mentioned Our Lord as another famous person who died at age 33, of course! Except, back under Claudius, Romans generally took Christians generally for Jews, which shows a somewhat incomplete comprehension of Christianity and so there is at least a slight probability that this parallelism was unknown to the historian (non-contemporary) of Alexander the Great.
Fabius Rusticus
... Fabius Rusticus was a contemporary of Claudius and Nero, but little is known of the extent of his work except that it related to events during the reign of Nero.
... Tacitus cites Fabius Rusticus when describing some of the most controversial aspects of Nero's life including Nero's alleged desire to kill his mother*, Nero's alleged lust for his mother** and Seneca's suicide.***

*Tacitus, Annals 13.20
**Tacitus, Annals 14.2
***Tacitus, Annals 15.61 - same book as in which Tacitus mentions Christians!
Josephus: see my defense of Testimonium Flavianum
Justus of Tiberias:

Justus wrote a history of the war in which he blamed Josephus for the troubles of Galilee. He also portrayed his former master Agrippa in an unfavourable light, but did not publish the work until after Agrippa's death. Justus also wrote a chronicle of the Jewish people from Moses to Agrippa II. Both his works only survive in fragments.*

Flavius Josephus, Justus' rival, criticized the Tiberian's account of the war and defended his own conduct in the Autobiography, from whose polemical passages we derive most of what we know about Justus' life.

*As you may guess, if a work survives only in fragments, and if those fragments do not mention Our Lord Jesus Christ, it does not mean the work did not do so either in the many lost passages. And even if he was very well placed to know about Jesus, it does not mean he wanted to speak about him.
Titus Labienus was an orator and historian in the time of Augustus, nicknamed Rabienus for his vigorous style. He killed himself when the Senate had his books burned. Caligula later overrode the Senate and had the books restored.

This information stamps Titus Labienus "Rabienus" as too early to have probably known about Jesus Christ. Same obviously applies to:

Titus Livius (59 BC - AD 17), known as Livy in English, was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own time.

Cluvius Rufus is mentioned in:

Josephus Antiquities of the Jews XIX.1.13;
Suetonius The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 21;
Pliny the Younger, Epistulae IX.19;
Plutarch The Parallel Lives, Life of Otho 3;
Tacitus Annals, XII.20 and XIV.2;
Tacitus Histories, I.8, II.58, II.65, III.65, IV.39 and IV.43
Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXIII.14;

Which is more or less the works where wikipedians tell us he was recycled, i e used as a primary source by secondary sources.
Valerius Maximus
The author's chief sources are Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Pompeius Trogus, especially the first two. Valerius's treatment of his material is careless and unintelligent in the extreme; but in spite of his contusions, contradictions and anachronisms, the excerpts are apt illustrations, from the rhetorician's point of view, of the circumstance or quality they were intended to illustrate. And even on the historical side we owe something to Valerius. He often used sources now lost, and where he touches on his own time he affords us some glimpses of the much debated and very imperfectly recorded reign of Tiberius.

Gaius Licinius Mucianus fought in Judea! - but! - his historic work appears to be lost. There is an early Christian martyr, July 3, who is also called Mucianus. As far as I know, there is nothing proving they were the same man, neither anything disproving it.

The subject of his history is not mentioned; but, judging from the references which Pliny makes to it, it appears to have treated chiefly of the East, and to have contained considerable information on all geographical subjects. (Tac. Hist. i. 10, 76, ii. 4, 5, 76--84, iii. 8, 46, 53, 78, iv. 4, 11, 39, 80, 85; Suet. Vesp. 6, 13; Dion Cassius lxv. 8, 9, 22, lxvi. 2, 9, 13; Joseph. B.J. iv.10, 11; Plin. H. N. xii.1. s. 5, xxviii. 2. s. 5, xxxiv. 7. s. 17, et passim; Vossius ...)

Quote from = Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology > v. 2, page 1118

A man one liked to refer to rather than copy? An authors' author?
Nicolaus of Damascus:

He also wrote an autobiography, the date of which is uncertain. It mentions that he wanted to retire, in 4 BC, but was persuaded to travel with Herod Archelaus to Rome.

The fragments that remain deal mainly with Jewish history.*


His account of Indian Embassy to Rome, where a sramana burnt himself to the great astonishment of all in Athens, is preserved in Strabo:

It was used by some wikipedian to argue Hindoos could be found in the Levant about the time of Jesus. It also argues that the occurrence was very rare. Otherwise all the Greeks would not have been astonished, and the occurrence itself was due to a very unusual embassy.
Q. Asconius Pedianus

During the reigns of Claudius and Nero he compiled for his sons, from various sources -- e.g. the Gazette (Aetablica), shorthand reports or skeletons (commentarii) of Cicero's unpublished speeches, Tiro's life of Cicero, speeches and letters of Cicero's contemporaries, various historical writers, e.g. Varro, Atticus, Antias, Tuditanus and Fenestella (a contemporary of Livy whom he often criticizes) -- historical commentaries on Cicero's speeches, of which only five, viz, in Pisonem, pro Scauro, pro Milone, pro Cornelio and in toga candida, in a very mutilated edition, are preserved, under the modern title Q. Asconii Pediani Orationvm Ciceronis qvinqve enarratio.

Wonderful take on it! One of his notes might have been that Cicero had his head cut off and his tongue pirced because he did not keep his mough shut. Anyway, that is not a very likely work in which to find references to Jesus Christ, even if Asconius was perfectly well aware of Christians and their claims, or as aware as the public in general.

Other works attributed to Asconius were:
  • a life of Sallust
  • a defence of Virgil against his detractors
  • a treatise (perhaps a symposium in imitation of Plato) on health and long life.

I think everyone understood that being a Christian under Nero or criticising him in other respects were not very likely ways of prolonging one's life. Even now, writing about Rommell is safer than writing about Mgr Richard Williamson! Back then, Sallust, Virgil, Plato were as safe as Cicero to write about. Defending Virgil against detractors was safer than defending St Paul or St Peter. Or even mentioning them.

Seneca the Elder writing Suasoriae and Plutarch writing parallel lives is also an indicator of recycling formalia and common places being very much more interesting to some than writing about contemporaries.
Marcus Servilius Nonianus has not had his work preserved. Guess why? Whatever he said about Christians, he was not very favourable to Nero, I guess.

He is mentioned in Tacitus' Annales vi. 31; xiv. 19, Institutio Oratoria x. 1. 101. (or x. 1, 101.), Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, x. 13. 3.
Thallus, early Christian use of:

The 9th century Christian chronologer George Syncellus cites Sextus Julius Africanus* as writing in reference to the darkness mentioned in the synoptic gospels as occurring at the death of Jesus:
Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the Sun in the third book of his Histories.

Africanus then goes on to point out that an eclipse cannot occur at Passover when the moon is full and therefore diametically opposite the Sun.

This discussion may very much better than the Dan-Browning Éliette Abécassis Qumran fake explain why the story of the darkness is not told in St John (if I recall correctly). The eclipse explanation had been accepted with little regard for logic.

Sextus Julius Africanus (c.160 – c.240) was a Christian traveller and historian of the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.

To me also, as proving one can be a Christian as a mere intellectual without any pretention to monastic life. Deo Gratias!
Velleius Paterculus, as I already mentioned, ceased writing before the Crucifixion.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibl. Buffon
Good Friday 2011

mercredi 20 avril 2011

Oh, just how cruel were the Christians?

I am reading another page of Acharya S now:

I started out answering from bottom:

Rwanda massacres 1994 - the priests murdering Tutsis were feeling the reenacted the French Revolution. Tutsi people were in a way the Aristocrats in Rwanda when it was still a Catholic monarchy. That I learned from Mitteilungsblatt der Priesterbruderschaft Pius X back in the nineties.

Ngo Dinh Diem - was fighting a war. The tactics of his opponent Ho Chi Minh, as described in Che Guevara's booklet Art of Guerilla Warfare were not prettier than what Ngo Dinh Diem started out with. If he went further, it may be he was corrupted by the war he fought. Rather than by his faith.

Jasenovac "Catholic"? - The Franciscan friar who ran it in the end, and who was hanged for it, Miroslav Filipovic, in orders Tomislav Filipovic and as camp leader Tomislav Majstorovic, had been ordered by his superiors to end connexion with the Ustasha while it was still a group of freedom fighters or terrorists (whichever description you prefer), not unlike Irish Republican Brotherhood, while fighting for which even Éamonn De Valera was excommunicated, or even Fenians. He was disciplined by a German military court AND by the Vatican until he came to Jasenovac as a prisoner. - Ustasha's supported by the Vatican? From at least 1941, Alojzije Stepinac tried to help the victims of the Ustasha. He refrained from verbally condemning the régime, own and of occupants, out of concern for 7000 people whose lives he felt was depending on him: =

Colonel John Chivington was Methodist, Reverend Rufus Anderson does not sound like a Catholic priest, but Father Damien, working with lepers does. Reverend Solomon Stoddard does not sound like a Catholic, but the priests who came without arms or colonists to Iroquois and Hurons do sound like Catholic martyrs.

John Winthrop was a Puritan and wanted the colony to be a bulwark against "the Kingdom of Anti-Christ", i e in Puritan understanding the Papacy and - on a lesser level - "High Church" Anglicanism or what was later called such: the kind of second generation Anglican bishops who did not identify quite as much as Puritans with Protestant Reformation. Not surprisingly, quite a lot of the people attributing to Roman Catholicism the cruelty towards Indians under these or those Conquistadors or towards Serbs in Jasinovac are Puritans. Though some are also descendants of victims, either Amer-Indian or Serb.

Hatuey was victim to Columbus' first colonisation - an explorer as much as a Christian. Isabela la Católica rectified such doings. Balboa, famed for discovering the Pacific beyond the Panamá area, was a privateer, obeying neither crown nor Church more than he felt he needed.

Stannard's book American Holocaust is cited, one of the men attacked as a butcher was Hernando de Soto. On wiki article I find he served in the conquest of Perú and was absent when Atahuallpa was killed, for a reason, he was friends with the captive Inca, and he was one who insisted he be judged by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V alone. He felt he owed that as he took the Inca usurper prisoner. Even Prescott, not in general pro-Spanish, will tell you that. He was also serving with Manco Inca Yupanqui against Atahuallpa's troops. Back to Spain, married in Spain, back to Americas, Florida and further into present day US. Up to meeting Tuscaloosa no bloodshed on Indians was reported, in the case of Tuscaloosa's city Mauvila, the bloodshed was retaliation after self-defense. It has been claimed by Josephy (1994) that de Soto's troops carried diseases like small pox and measles to Indians - if so, it was not voluntarily. Here is what article on Mississippian Culture has to say:

Scholars have searched the records of Hernando de Soto in 1539–1543 looking for evidence of contacts with Mississippians. He visited many villages, in some cases staying for a month or longer [...]. Some encounters were violent, while others were relatively peaceable. In some cases, De Soto seems to have been used as a tool or ally in long-standing native feuds. In one example, de Soto negotiated a truce between the Pacaha and the Casqui.

De Soto's later encounters left about half of the Spaniards and perhaps many hundreds of Native Americans dead. The chronicles of de Soto are among the first documents written about Mississippian peoples, and are an invaluable source of information on their cultural practices. The chronicles of the Narváez expedition were written before the de Soto expedition; in fact, it was the Narváez expedition that informed the Court of de Soto about the New World.

Atrocious agaist Indians, this de Soto? I think not. But that is the beginning of Christendom in the New World, let us go back to the Old World:

As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.

Pagan temples were also destroyed by Christian bishops, including St Nicolas of Myra. But as for killing Pagan priests, I would like one single of them named. With circumstances surrounding the killing.

Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.

By whom? Under what circumstances?

Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.

Aesculap's Sanctuary? Reputed for fraudulent pseudo-healings.

Aphrodite's Temple on Golgatha? Golgotha means Calvary, it is the main sanctuary of Christian faith, along with Holy Sepulchre, and that temple, dedicated to the goddess of prostitutes and seduction (neither of which is well seen by Christians) and built there after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (an indication by the way that Christ was known as crucified on that spot) was an insult to our faith, and somehow we were not supposed to have destroyed it? The other two examples, I do not know.

I do know that the legend of St Front says that the monster known as La Gratusse or La Couleuvre came from the Temple of Ceres in Périgueux, summoned by the priest of Ceres with black magic, to frighten the Christians of the region. Such things, if true, do tend to antagonise people from such temples.

Some of the following examples in Acharya's page are taken from the Vegetarian Deschner's book Abermahls krähte der Hahn. German wikipedia has an article on this book, and after what critics say, it is fair to claim he was simply not honest. He seems to have based his work on the kind of "theologians" who came to dominate Vatican II with a gigantic guilt complex. I do not take it as a mere coinicidence that the work came out in 1962, same year as the Council started, and in one of the languages bordering the Rhine river - meaning that theologians and even bishops of the region were well before the Council extremely anti-Traditional. Wiltgen was to name his chronicle of the Council "The Rhine Flows into the Tiber", and one piece of the agenda of those men (Germans, Austrians, Swiss, French, Belgian, Dutch bishops, abbots and experts) was arguing against Catholic states or against states forbidding non-Catholic religions as much as against Catholics being persecuted.

He - Deschner - claimed that the Vulgate had been rejected for centuries before being adopted - no case can be made for the rejection, except that it was indeed "adopted" by Trent defending it against slanders from reformers. He mentions that in the Gospels 3500 single places were corrected by St Jerome, as against his immediate source manuscript, without mentioning that this was against previous translation and by access to Greek original. If he is thus inaccurate and tendentiously anticlerical with regards to a perfectly non-violent thing, like a Bible translation, why should we trust his account of violences? Especially as he often refuses to give intelligible references. This reflection comes after what I learned in German wikipedia of Deschner's book.

Acharya may be arguing that as Christianity was exceptionally violent, as opposed to peaceful Pagans (did she ever read Livy about Punic Wars? - she ought at least to have read about Romulus arranging the rape of the Sabine women before same Romulus ascended to heaven), and so, if any religion is right, it cannot be Christianity. But Christianity is not exceptionally violent except in works that whitewash Pagans, especially if victims of Christians, like Hatuey, there was a reason he was expelled from Hispaniola, about as much as they blackwash Christians. Acharya may argue that Christian priests were exceptionally cruel, except that some of her examples are Protestants, and the Catholic priests who were cruel were not well seen by their own Church. And of course, nothing like the idea that Pagan priests could be cruel, like Molochist or Aztek sacrificiers of humans. Acharya may argue that Christianity was exceptionally intolerant, but it was Christianity which began being tolerant of Judaism - even if in doing so it continued Roman tolerance of Judaism - as opposed to previous one religion per area, basically. Or she may say that Japan is more tolerant with Buddhism and Shintoism coexisting, just as philosophy coexisted with the priesthood of Caesar or with augurs, but they seem to answer different questions and thus to be, as compared to Christianity, parts of a single national Japanese religion, hardly more diverse in appeal than Ephesians from Sermon on the Mount in ethics or than Ethics from basic metaphysics or "mythology", and they form a Japanese religion which was very intolerant of Catholicism in Nagasaki, and Acharya simply avoids the question whether relations between Buddhists and Shintoists were always as peaceful.

This aspect of Acharya's work discredits much of her other writings. Much as it is over-rated in certain circles.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
20 April, Wednesday of
Holy Week AD 2011
Paris, Bibl. Chaptal

lundi 18 avril 2011

What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

A quote made as exactly as I could, maybe the time given extends before I actually begin quoting: [The very earliest teaching about the Resurrection]

Which was at least 25 years later, b t w written to a group of people who were at least 1500 miles away [unhearable] by land and who would have had no way to verify the story about the 500 and so on ... We find that Paul did not talk about a bodily resurrection (sic!)

From this video, 2:45 - 3:05

Dan Barker vs Dr Chris Forbes (Part 3/11)
Macquarie University Atheist League

Two bloopers actually. 1500 miles away meaning they had no possibility to check the story of the five hundred? Oh boy! Have you ever walked on Roman Roads? They are delicious for the feet, even now, when worn out, and they were obviously much better back then. What do you mean "would have had no possibility to verify"? Pamplona to Santiago is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of that distance, walking it took me 50 days, and I am not a trained walker, and I was not always well fed. 100 - 150 days, add 50 days on location to hear ten interviews per day, add the journey back, it would have taken 250 - 350 days, less than one year to verify the story.

Ah, that would have been unpractical! A slave would not have been trusted. Freemen would have needed to stay on place in order to keep business going, right? WRONG. St Joseph was away from his carpentry in Galilee for the time of going to Bethlehem and the flight into Egypt from which he returned years later. No trace whatsoever of this having caused him any trouble worth mentioning in resuming his carpentry on place, no hint this was seen as unbelievable either by Gospellers Sts Luke and Matthew or by their audience. The Roman Empire was not all that ridden by Wall Street and bankers, back then. So, a man taking a year off to verify the story was no big deal. Maybe it was done, maybe it was not done, but St Paul must at least have known it could be done. That he was taking a risk making such a claim.

Next blooper is, after admitting St Paul did make such a claim, even if pretending this was a safe way of fooling the guys, he turns all about and says the claims of St Paul are not about a bodily resurrection.

Which is it? Is the claim not about a bodily resurrection, how come he claims 500 people saw it? If he claims 500 people saw it, how is this not a claim, albeit uncheckable (if even that!) of precisely a bodily resurrection?

Interesting this atheist is a former minister, I think he uses the word preacher. That usually means a Protestant. I suspect he fell away from Christianity when finding it involved too much trust in sources specifically Catholic.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
18-IV-2011, Monday of
Holy Week
Paris, Georges Pompidou

Update on Tuesday: I said we do not know whether St Paul's risk resulted in someone taking up the challenge, but if I see some Church Historian say St Luke was chosen to go to Palestine for that check-up and the Theophilus he wrote to being among the ones hearing what St Paul said here, and this being the origin of why he wrote the Gospel, I will not be the least surprised./HGL

No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ...

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

Commenting on some sentences and name lists of

Acharya quoting her opponent:

they showed a list of about 20 people who they claimed were historians writing in the first century who never mentioned Jesus, and the claim was that because not one of these people mentioned Jesus, clearly he couldn't have been a real historical figure

Now, the blogpost where she is writing about this opponent she is rebutting - a Dr. Chris Forbes, I think - comes to back that list up with (I am quoting it as it stands now, she is free to change it later):

Expert in Agriculture and Religion

Marcus Terentius Varro

When one considers that in antiquity writers often addressed multiple disciplines, it would not necessarily be surprising if experts on "farming and gardening" discussed such a purportedly important and allegedly widespread phenomenon, which Christian tradition claims spread like wildfire during the first and second centuries. In this regard, ancient Roman scholar and statesman Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BCE) wrote extensively about religion and agriculture; unfortunately, his works on religion were destroyed, leaving us to wonder why and whether or not they may have contained information damaging to Christian origins. Varro's book about agriculture, however, survives. So, here we have an important ancient scholar who wrote about both religion and "farming and gardening." Others would likely follow suit.

It is I who highlighted the time he lived in. It is confirmed by wikipedia. He died about 27 years before Our Lord was born, and Acharya S thinks, if Our Lord were historical, he would have mentioned him! What a blooper! You made my day!

Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55; Mark 1:28, 10:1; Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.

These are the two dozen verses in which the Gospels claim Our Lord was famed far and wide. Of Acharya's chosing. She misses the point that this fame was among Jews having not yet rejected him. And that Pilate is not currently considered a writer, since his acts are considered a Christian forgery by scholars agreeing with her, obviously because these acts very much do mention Our Lord. Here is what she says about these passages:

If Christ truly had lived and had the impact claimed of him in the New Testament in some two dozen passages asserting he was famed far and wide , there is little reason why several of these authors would not write about him.

Was Varro among these authors, I wonder?

As Forbes himself remarks:

There are plenty of writers whose manuscripts written in the period we're talking about still survive now...

All those manuscripts, yet not one of them contains anything about Jesus, even though he was supposedly widely famed!

I wonder if Forbes remarks or quotes his opponents in that passage. Most ancient authors do not have manuscripts of their own days surviving into ours. I will have to check, when I see the video. Meanwhile, let us take Strabo and Pausanias:

As concerns geographers, they too might be interested in knowing that the God of the cosmos was supposedly wandering around in the tiny 90-mile area of Judea and Palestine—such a claim would be an interesting tourist point to make for any geographers. In reality, ancient geographers such as Strabo (63/64 BCE–c. 24 AD/CE) and Pausanias (2nd cent. AD/CE) frequently discussed the religion of the people of the areas about which they were writing, as any serious historian should know.

Strabo, as I mentioned in an earlier post, ceased writing before Our Lord started getting the fame those 24 + verses talk about. Which explains the silence of Strabo. Pausanias might have been too ill at ease with Christianity to be conscientious about it. There are people in our days who refuse to cite a certain apologist writing this blog, though I know by internet I have been read in both Iran and Mexico. Or Pausanias might have been a persecuted Christian. Or Pausanias might have been interested in the kind of religion as makes pretty folklore, which was not yet the case so openly with as yet persecuted Christianity. He might have, as much as National Geographic, preferred going into gorgeous rites over going into intricate questions of Christian Orthodoxy - even or especially when the questions of Christian Orthodoxy are not so intricate. But citing Varro or even Strabo as one who would certainly have mentioned Jesus "if he had been widely known" is thick in rhetoric and thin in logic.

Exposing the fact that the writers of the first century—considered one of the best documented periods in history—never recorded the existence of Jesus Christ, Christians or Christianity is a vitally important exercise that should not "get up the nose" of any serious historian. Only a biased Christian historian interested in shoring up the faith at all costs would not want that shocking fact exposed. How many millions of Christians have never been told that there is no credible, scientific and independent evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ from the contemporary record of when he allegedly walked the earth?

Well, the first C may be well documented in some ways, but not in others. And a plethora of historians writing history about it when it happened, when they lived in it, is not one of those ways. Unless you count Josephus and the Christians. By the way, when I say "historians" I do not talk about people studying history at university, I talk about people writing coherent accounts of historical events, even if it were only chroniclers, only chronologically coherent.

But there is a mass of indirect evidence in this century. If Petronius wrote Satyricon and was Nero's arbiter elegantiarum, this tells us something about Nero, even if Satyricon never mentions him. If it is known Seneca and Burrus first tried to influence Nero for the better and then failed so badly they preferred suicide to continuing to bear with him, it is quite consistent with first point and also a very satisfactory explanation why Seneca did not often discuss very overtly contemporary events one after another.

Tacitus - late Ist C. Mentions the Christians of the time when disciple St Peter was crucified upside down - though he does not mention that particular event, he points at no particular figure among them. He mentions them as scapegoats for Nero's incendiary activities, and he mentions them as confessing - being arrested - and getting tortured. They confessed - before arrest and torture! - not to firing the city but to the crime of being Christian and were burned for "detesting mankind". A thing said already about the Jews and meaning up to then either violent non-conformity with Pagan practise or even peaceful such.

Now, Tacitus, as well as Suetonius, write at a safe distance, when Nero and Domition are already dead. See a wiki about one very particular Proclus, not the philosopher:

Larginus Proclus lived in the 1st century in Germany. He predicted that the Roman emperor Domitian would die on a certain day. He was in consequence sent to Rome, where he was condemned to death; but as the punishment was deferred, in order that he might be executed after the fatal day had passed, he escaped altogether, as Domitian died on the very day he had named. (Dio Cassius 68.16; cf. Suetonius Domitian 16.)

Germany must be taken for Germania as a province, not the barbarian Germany beyond the limes, of course. Dio Cassius and Suetonius by stating this give us the reason why so much of Ist C. is short of direct narrative about contemporary events. It is as if Gospels and Acts and Apocalypse, and Josephus who writing for a beaten nation had little to loose, were stray historians in a very historian hostile era. As far as contemporary history is concerned.

This makes very little sense of Acharya's claim that so many as twenty first century writers would have mentioned Jesus if he had existed. I am trying to look up the list given in her book (not recopied on her rebuttal) and find from search link it starts with "aulus perseus". I suppose that means Aulus Gellius and Perseus. Aulus Gellius was an essay writer. But not as controversial as Chesterton. Perseus was a poet. Meanwhile I have looked up a few others, as given on an actual list of hers, thye one on Ancient writers. I have taken away Babylonian and Hindooistic stuff, retaining only Greek and Roman names. Some I have already commented on, here are three more that I take in detail: Celsus, Philo, Josephus.

Celsus - wiki:

Celsus (Greek: Κέλσος) was a 2nd century Greek philosopher and opponent of Early Christianity. He is known for his literary work, The True Word (Account, Doctrine or Discourse) (Λόγος Aληθής), preserved by Origen. This work, c. 177 [1] is the earliest known comprehensive attack on Christianity. Jesus' mother was a poor Jewish girl. This girl's husband, who was a carpenter by trade, drove her away because of her adultery with a Roman soldier named Panthera (i.32). She gave birth to the bastard Jesus. In Egypt, Jesus became learned in sorcery and upon his return presented himself as a god.

- Identical to Talmudic slander of Our Lord. So, earliest evidence, possibly, for this anti-Christian story which also admits historicity of Christ as well as of at least some miracles.

Philo & Josephus: one does not and one does mention Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Testimonium Flavianum has been problematised, by people who, if asked, would have considered it most likely for Josephus, since a Jew, to attest Jesus, if at all, in terms of above slander as known from Celsus. But Josephus lived before Jews definitely decided to reject Jesus, as did Philo. Whom he mentions, as we learn from Wikipedia:

We find a brief reference to Philo by the 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo's selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks in Alexandria (Egypt). Josephus also tells us that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to an official called Alexander the alabarch.[5] According to Josephus, Philo and the larger Jewish community refused to treat the emperor as a god, to erect statues in honor of the emperor, and to build altars and temples to the emperor. Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supported this refusal.

Brother of head of Jewish community? Himself involved in an Embassy on behalf of the Jews? AND having beliefs similar to the Christian ones? Sounds like a very delicate situation for him, if he were to pronounce himself on Christ and on Christianity. I find it very plausaible that he had a kind of wait and see attitude.

On her page I found this list of Ancient Writings - all Babylonian and Hindoo stuff gleaned away, all comments from wiki, unless it be clear it is my comment. Some already mentioned above, not repeated here.

* Berossus - a priest of Bel Marduk[2] and astronomer writing in Greek, who was active at the beginning of the 3rd century BC
* Diodorus - disambigation page gives Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), Greek historian who wrote the Bibliotheca historica ("Historical Library")
Diodorus of Adramyttium (1st century BC), rhetorician and Academic philosopher
Porphyry - Porphyry of Tyre (Ancient Greek: Πορφύριος, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. Wrote against Christians.
* Bible - Mentions Jesus.
* Epiphanius - Christian authors named such all too late. But see also:

Epiphanes is the legendary author of On Righteousness,[1] a notable Gnostic literary work that promotes communist principles, that was published and discussed by Clement of Alexandria, in Stromaties, III. Epiphanes was also attributed with founding Monadic Gnosis.[2] G.R.S. Mead however thinks that Epiphanes was a legend and may not have been an actual person, that the real author of On Righteousness may be the Valentinian, Marcus.

According to Clement, Epiphanes was born on Cephalonia in the late 1st Century or early 2nd Century to Carpocrates (his father), and Alexandria of Cephallenia (his mother). Epiphanes died at the age of 17. Clement wrote that Epiphanes was "worshipped as a god with the most elaborate and lascivious rites by the Cephallenians, in the great temple of Samē, on the day of the new moon."[3] Mead discusses that the idea of temple worship is probably a misunderstanding, that Clement may have mistaken the worship of the moon god Epiphanes with a person of the same name. The Epiphany was a sun-moon festival at the Samē temple. The new moon's life of 17 days (in the lunar cycle) may have been misunderstood as Epiphanes' 17 years of life.[4]

* Hippolytus - Historical figures:
Hippolytus of Rome (died 235), Christian writer and saint
Hippolytus of Thebes, Byzantine chronographer
Saint Hippolytus, one of several possible saints of that name
* Plutarch - Plutarch (Ancient Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploutarchos) then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (Μέστριος Πλούταρχος),[1] c. 46 – 120 CE/AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia.[2] He was born to a prominent family in Chaeronea, Boeotia, a town about twenty miles east of Delphi.
* Tertullian - Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD),[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.[2] He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy.
* Justin Martyr - Justin Martyr (103–165) was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by many Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic Church[2] and the Greek Orthodox Church.[3]
* Minucius Felix - Marcus Minucius Felix was one of the earliest of the Latin apologists for Christianity.

Of his personal history nothing is known, and even the date at which he wrote can be only approximately ascertained as between 150-270 AD. Jerome's De Viris Illustribus #58 speaks of him as "Romae insignis causidicus," but in that he is probably only improving on the expression of Lactantius[1] who speaks of him as "non ignobilis inter causidicos loci."

* Clement Alexandrinus - Titus Flavius Clemens (c.150 - c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria (to distinguish him from Clement of Rome), was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen. He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and valued gnosis that with communion for all people could be held by common Christians specially chosen by God.

* Tatian - Tatian the Assyrian[1][2][3][4] (c. 120–180) was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.

Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the 5th-century, when it gave way to the four separate gospels in the Peshitta version.

* Arnobius - Arnobius of Sicca (Greek: Aρνόβιος εκ Σίκκης; died c. 330) was an Early Christian apologist, during the reign of Diocletian (284–305).[1]
Julius Firmicus Maternus - Not to be confused with Arnobius the Younger. - Arnobius ("the younger"), Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, flourished about 460.

He is the author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

* Julian - disambiguation page: Didius Julianus (133 or 137–193), Roman emperor
Sabinus Iulianus (fl. 283-293), also known as Julian I or Julian of Pannonia, Roman usurper
Julian the Apostate (332–363), Flavius Claudius Julianus, Roman emperor
Julian of Eclanum (Latin: Iulianus Aeclanensis, Italian: Giuliano di Eclano) (c. 386 – c. 455) was bishop of Eclanum, near today's Benevento (Italy). He was a distinguished leader of the Pelagians of 5th century.
Saint Julian of Antioch (sometimes called Julian of Cilicia, Julian of Anazarbus, Julian of Tarsus) is venerated as a Christian martyr of the fourth century. His date of death is given as 305 AD (or between 305 and 311 AD[1]).
Saints Julian and Basilissa (died ca. 304) were husband and wife. They were Christian martyrs who died at either Antioch or, more probably, at Antinoe, in the reign of Diocletian, early in the fourth century, on 9 January, according to the Roman Martyrology, or 8 January, according to the Greek Menaea.

* Proclus - Proclus Lycaeus (8 February 412 – 17 April 485 AD), called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" (Greek Πρόκλος o Διάδοχος Próklos ho Diádokhos), was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers (see Damascius). He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism. He stands near the end of the classical development of philosophy, and was very influential on Western medieval philosophy (Greek and Latin) as well as Islamic thought. - Proclus or Proklos Mallotes (Greek: Πρόκλος Μαλλώτης) was a Stoic philosopher and a native of Mallus in Cilicia. According to the Suda he was the author of:[1]

A Commentary on the Sophisms of Diogenes (Greek: Eπόμνημα των Διογένους σοφισμάτων)
a treatise against Epicurus
His date is unknown; he probably lived at some point between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. It is probably this Proclus who is mentioned by Proclus Diadochus.[2]

* Origen - Origen (Greek: Ωριγένης Ōrigénēs, or Origen Adamantius, c. 185–254[1]) was an early Christian African[2] scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church despite not being considered a Church father by most Christians who recognize this distinction.[3] - Origen may also refer to: - Origen the Pagan, a third-century Platonist philosopher - Adamantius (Pseudo-Origen), a fourth-century Christian writer

* Pseudo-Eratosthenes - Catasterismi (Greek Καταστερισμοί, "Katasterismoi, placings among the stars") is an Alexandrian prose retelling of the mythic origins of stars and constellations, as they were interpreted in Hellenistic culture. The work survives in an epitome assembled at the end of the 1st century CE, based on a lost original, with a possible relation to work of Eratosthenes that is now hard to pinpoint; thus the author is alluded to as Pseudo-Eratosthenes. Apparently it was pseudepigraphically attributed to the great astronomer from Cyrene, to bolster its credibility. However, the astrological connoisseurship of its fables in fact have nothing to do with Eratosthenes' scientific conjectures and solutions—which belong instead near the origins of an astronomy that was separated from the predictive and interpretive functions of astrology, not an easy feat of the logical imagination. The separation was effected in Alexandrian intellectual circles during the 1st century BCE.

* Hipparchus - Hipparchus, or more correctly Hipparchos (Greek: Iππαρχος, Hipparkhos; c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC), was a Greek astrologer, astronomer, geographer, and mathematician of the Hellenistic period. He is considered the founder of trigonometry.

* Archelaus - Archelaus (Greek: Άρχέλαος, born before 8 BC-38) was a Cappadocian Prince[1] from Anatolia and was as a Roman Client King[2] of Cilicia Trachea and Eastern Lycaonia. [3] He is sometimes known as Archelaus Minor (Minor Latin for the younger) [4] and Archelaus II [5] to distinguished him from his father Archelaus of Cappadocia . ... Historical sources mention little on the life of Archelaus and his reign as King. What is mainly known about Archelaus is from surviving inscriptions from his dominion. [does not sound like a prolific writer] ... As a posthumous honor to Archelaus; as a mark of respect to the former King and their distant relative, Iotapa and Antiochus IV named their son: Gaius Julius Archelaus Antiochus Epiphanes. [Does not sound like a name chosen by anyone liking Jews or interested in Jewish matters]. [Only Archelaus of Ist C.]

* Dead Sea Scrolls - Ist C, do not mention Jesus. Much has been done of this. But since they were from and Jesus was not from Essenian sect, sectarian rivalry explains this.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
18-IV-2011, Monday of
Holy Week

samedi 19 mars 2011

Answering a message elsewhere

"Why is Paul's honesty taken for granted?" (<-- click link left or under:)

I have added a little on my outreach to other blogs: = - Steven Carr is one of my latest adversaries on comment section of above message and here his blog records a debate between himself and an Anglican, I made comments on some of their arguments. - full title: Unreliability of introspection, Anti-Intuition(ism?) and God. = short link

Google blockade over

As stated in earlier message exact quotes from this blog led to "no occurrence found" rather than to this blog. This lasted a few days, and is no longer so.

jeudi 17 mars 2011

The Question of Contemporary Evidence

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

"I'd be a lot happier, though probably not sold, with strong circumstantial evidence such as documentation of Jesus, the apostles etc. by any of the known secular historians of the era."

OK, Mr B.

Prove from CONTEMPORARY Roman Authors there was an Emperor Tiberius, while you are at it.

As a little light ahead, as a previous exercise, tell us what German authors (German, not Austrian) you read for the period 1933 - 1945 in Germany, and what Russian authors (not exiled) you read for the periods of Russian Revolution up to WW-II about Russia.

As a further little light ahead, I may mention that last generation before Caesar Augustus was the Golden Age of Latin Prose - Cicero, Caesar, Sallustius. They spoke very unabashedly about very recent events. The reign of Caesar Augustus however was the Golden Age of Latin Poetry. You have of course the Res Actae which he wrote himself. You have allusions in Horace celebrating how he beat Cleopatra or in Virgil writing poems in which he is/"was" prophecied. Then go to Tiberius. How many historians in either Latin or Greek are there under his reign?

Here is what I find on wikipedia: - a little lower you have:

Velleius Paterculus
One of the few surviving sources contemporary with the rule of Tiberius comes from Velleius Paterculus, who served under Tiberius for eight years (from AD 4) in Germany and Pannonia as praefect of cavalry and legatus. Paterculus' Compendium of Roman History spans a period from the fall of Troy to the death of Livia in AD 29. His text on Tiberius lavishes praise on both the emperor[7][92] and Sejanus.[93] How much of this is due to genuine admiration or prudence remains an open question, but it has been conjectured that he was put to death in AD 31 as a friend of Sejanus.[94]

The tribute penny mentioned in the Bible is commonly believed to be a Roman denarius depicting Tiberius.The Gospels record that during Tiberius' reign, Jesus of Nazareth preached and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. In the Bible, Tiberius is mentioned by name only once, in Luke,[95] stating that John the Baptist entered on his public ministry in the fifteenth year of his reign. Many references to Caesar (or the emperor in some other translations), without further specification, would seem to refer to Tiberius. Similarly, the "Tribute Penny" referred to in Matthew[96] and Mark[97] is popularly thought to be a silver denarius coin of Tiberius.[citation needed]

The two MAIN non-Christian Historians about Tiberius are Tacitus who was not even born when Tiberius died and Suetonius. Get the picture?

Suetonius is by people like Mr Bradley (up to now) counted as TOO LATE to count as contemporary evidence.
see also list of authors here:

After that, Mr. Bradley, tell us which one of them would have mentioned Christ "if he had existed" as you say. Note that our "serious scholarship" does not count Acts of Pilate as genuine, but that writing DOES very clearly mention our Lord.

"Hans, you just never quit, do you? LOL By the way, it's just M., I don't require all that formality."

Ah, Mr. B., you do not answer my points, did you?

mercredi 16 mars 2011

Variation on the Scriptoria Game

A What were the texts? 1) somewhere else : The Question of Contemporary Evidence, 2) No, true enough Acharya, Varro did not write about Jesus ..., 3) What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!, 4) 1st C Historians, Wikipedia Category, 5) HGL's F.B. writings : Critiques of Testimonium Flavianum, 6) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on "Contemporary Historians Not Mentioning Jesus" (Answering aekara1987), 7) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Challenged Again on Testimonium Flavianum,

B How were they transmitted? 1) somewhere else : Laci Green likes strawmen?, 2) Variation on the Scriptoria Game,

Way back here:

I offered a game for understanding the transmission of a book recopied and recopied.

I repost the rules with a few variations:

Five to fifteen people:

Rule 1: everyone throws two dice. The top score gets to chose or invent one text to copy. The bottom score gets to be first secretary.

Rule 2: the top player invents a text of at least five lines with coherent content, or choses the text from a book on the shelf, making a hand made copy.

Rule 3: the first secretary gets to copy from the text by top player, he throws one dice to decide how many copies he has to do (1 - 4 = number of copies, 5/6 re-throw).

Rule 4: extant copies including original are divided in two heaps by a third player.

Rule 5: cast lots about which two players get which two heaps (if there are only five players, here is last copying), and in case they have more than one copy, they each have the possibility and even recommendation to compare copies in their hands before chosing what to write, and they may use more than one version (if diversions exist) in what they write. Of course again dice are thrown to determine number of copies.

Rule 5 b: before next generation of copying, if such there be, throw dice to determine losses in manuscripts: double number of manuscripts, throw two dice to determine how many at maximum survive. Put manuscripts in a round, count as many as the dice before eliminating each superfluous one. Then go back to rule 1, but this time not only new text but also copies of older ones will be recopied. Any further application of rule 5 b involves all manuscripts, new and older texts.

Rule 6: after five or ten rounds, as your patience commands, compare all versions, note every divergence. This is best done line by line, or sentence by sentence, original after copy after copy.

Rule 7: points off for every divergence from original text. One off for each totally innocuous one, like different spelling of a word that can abbreviate or of a phrase that can be turned (like main clause and if clause), or for obvious spelling mistakes. Two off for a change of synonyms. Five off if it means something different. Ten off if it means something opposite.

Is there a loser? Are there winners?