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