samedi 18 mars 2017

Carrier on Tacitus


Creation vs. Evolution : Richard Carrier Refutes Certain Evolutionists · somewhere else : Carrier on Tacitus

I am here continuing my reading (partly perhaps sloppy, but I am dealing with things that catch my eyes too much for me to misconstrue them, not with article as a whole), of Richard Carrier's article.*

Thus, that Tacitus should mention a Gospel claim about Jesus (if in fact he ever did) is already 100% expected on the existence of the Gospels, regardless of whether Jesus existed or not. That reference in Tacitus thus has no effect on our final probability of historicity. That’s how dependent probability works. And ironically, here it’s Christian apologists who typically don’t grasp the point that Fishers of Evidence is making: that the probability the extrabiblical sources would mention Jesus, even if he didn’t exist, is dependent on the Gospels having already done so (and their Christian informants subsequently relying on the Gospels, as we know they did).


That Tacitus mentioned a Gospel claim about Jesus is not 100 % expected on the existence of the Gospels.

It could be he never laid eyes on them and therefore would not mention Jesus.

Also, his having read a Gospel is not 100 % expected on his having referred to a Gospel claim, since he could have it, directly or indirectly from a Christian.

But it is if evidence he knew the Gospel claims as in Gospels at least evidence the Gospel already existed in his time, and that Christians already believed them OR it is evidence that Christians already believed the claims before the Gospels were written.

Does the evidence Tacitus brings here tie this to only his own time?

The Christians persecuted by Nero could (theoretically, from the point of view of a non-Christian enquirer) have believed something totally different, then changed their minds, then Tacitus had access to what they later believed, then projected this back to the time of Nero's persecuting Christians.

But this is where skepsis would be getting really unlikely.

For one thing, it is unlikely in the first place that a community believing in a purely spiritual Jesus without any historic or physic connection (comparable to Hindoo beliefs about Shiva or Greek about Apollo, the kind of belief Carrier thinks was that of the first Christians) would become a belief in a historical one (comparable to Hindoo beliefs in Krishna or Greek beliefs in Hercules, and yes, I think these existed as men).

But for another thing, it is also unlikely that Tacitus would do such a blunder about the Christians. He cites and therefore had access to three historians from the time of Nero, which are lost to us.

This means, Tacitus' is functioning as a wiki article for information gleaned from these three historians, and this means Tacitus would have known what Christians believed about Jesus, not in AD 90 only, but in AD 64, when Nero crucified St Peter, decapitated St Paul and used x number of other saints as torches in the dark, which, irony on irony, spiritually they actually were for pagans who saw them from the dark of their paganism.

So, Tacitus and Suetonius (both of which had access to three historians mentioned, as well as to Acta Senatus from those years) are telling us that Christians in AD 64 "already" believed Jesus had lived as a historical person.

Though Tacitus does not mention St Peter and St Paul as individual persons, their existence was believed by his contemporaries among Christian writers whose historicity is generally not put in doubt. Sts Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons and Papias are accepted as historical and they accepted the evidence internal to the Apostolic community for the existence of Apostles, Irenaeus directly mentioning Sts Peter and Paul and I think more of them did so.

And this in turn means that Sts Peter and Paul are as well attested by Christians in the time of Tacitus, as Jesus is attested in the time of Nero by Tacitus' sources.

And St Peter was identified as having spoken with Jesus for years, as His disciple.

Presumably, this is also the story Christians in Rome could get from St Peter close to AD 64.

Either he invented the story and died a martyr's death for it, which is totally improbable, or he believed it.

If he believed it, he either made a mistake or was right about what he was dying for.

But this brings us to the Gospels' as to what circumstances he gained his impression from.

So, for example, if assessing the evidence of a murder, FoE found blood on the accused, he could rightly say “the probability that the accused is bloody, given that I observed and verified the accused is bloody” is 1 (or near enough; there is always some nonzero probability of still being in error about that, but ideally it will be so small a probability we can ignore it).


Yes, when the hypothetic policeman in whose skin Carrier puts himself observed the blood, it is probability of 1 or very close that the man actually was bloody.

And when Peter saw Jesus while on a fishing tour, after Jesus had died, it is a probability of 1 that he observed Jesus alive.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sabbath after
II Lord's Day in Lent
18.III.2017

* I think I forgot attrubution on the previous article, needing a coffee, so here is the attribution:

Fishers of Evidence Gets Confused about Math
by Richard Carrier on March 17, 2017
http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12183


I was going to notify him by commenting under that article with a link to these two articles of mine. But I saw this:

I only publish comments by my patrons and anyone who or whose work I discuss in the article commented on. Comments must also follow good etiquette. Those who engage in dishonest, abusive, or harassing behavior may even be banned as commenters and patrons.


If my comment won't be published anyway, why not let his patrons notify him, if they are reading this?

For my own part, I am not into patreon ...

jeudi 9 mars 2017

While Acharya Sanning has died, her mistakes may live on - here is for her Pagan Parallels


If you recall her, she considered that Christ's Ascension or even Resurrection was plagairised from Krishna.

Here is what Mahabharata has to say:

The Mahabharata
Book 16: Mausala Parva
Section 4:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m16/m16004.htm


Begins with the words:

Vaishampayana said:


And the rest of the section is what he said, including the end:

"After his brother had thus departed from the (human) world, Vasudeva of celestial vision, who was fully acquainted with the end of all things, wandered for some time in that lonely forest thoughtfully. Endued with great energy he then sat down on the bare earth. He had thought before this of everything that had been fore-shadowed by the words uttered by Gandhari in former days. He also recollected the words that Durvasas had spoken at the time his body was smeared by that Rishi with the remnant of the Payasa he had eaten (while a guest at Krishna’s house). The high-souled one, thinking of the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, as also of the previous slaughter of the Kurus, concluded that the hour (for his own departure from the world) had come. He then restrained his senses (in Yoga). Conversant with the truth of every topic, Vasudeva, though he was the Supreme Deity, wished to die, for dispelling all doubts and establishing a certainty of results (in the matter of human existence), simply for upholding the three worlds and for making the words of Atri’s son true. Having restrained all his senses, speech, and mind, Krishna laid himself down in high Yoga.

"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."


So, how do we know Krishna was received into Heaven?

Because Vaishampayana tells that story.

Was he received bodily into Heaven?

No, one of the next sections tells of his funeral:

"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, no parallel.

Hindoos who believe Krishna was a god and is a god want to be burned as funeral.

We who believe Jesus is the True God and also the Promised Christ, want to be buried in soil or rock, and hope for the Resurrection of which He, but not Krishna, was the first fruit.

Meanwhile, one may ponder when Mahabharata might have happened, if it happened (most of it, not Krishna's soul being adored by gods), and my solution is, something like it happened in the pre-Flood world.

The hero Bharat, ancestor to Krishna and the Pandavas (and also to the Kauravas) may well have been a post-Flood confusion between two different Henoch : the one who founded a city (or for whom his father Cain named a city), in Genesis 4:17, and the one who was lifted up to Heaven, in Genesis 5:24.

The Semites (at least those who later became Hebrews) remembered the difference between the two Henoch, the ancestors of Hindoos confused them into one single Bharat. That is my guess.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Thursday of Ember week
of Lent
9.III.2017

lundi 9 janvier 2017

Did St Matthew Err About Which Prophet Has Said What?


Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter' s field, as the Lord appointed to me.

This has been considered as a reference, not to Jeremias, but to Zacharias.

Zacharias 11:12-13 And I said to them: If it be good in your eyes, bring hither my wages: and if not, be quiet. And they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me: Cast it to the statuary, a handsome price, that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary.

So, was St Matthew wrong? If not, why did he say Jeremias instead of Zacharias?

I know from J. P. Holding that one attack on inerrantism does bring this up:

Fifth, Cragun argues that church fathers did not "idolize" the Scriptures, but that is not really the point. What he needs to show is that the church fathers thought Scripture erred. As it is, he can come no closer to this than e.g., Jerome discussing problems in the text (such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures). Although Jerome discusses the problem, he does not say, "this is an error." What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi." But as Cragun admits, this sort of thing comes more of Jerome's perceived neurotic compulsion for detail than from any real problem.


First of all, I totally take my distance from the qualification "neurotic compulsion" about Saint Jerome's care for detail.

I take my distance from the psychological idealogy it involves, I consider it an idiotic observation about writers (where would Tolkien's Middle Earth have been if he had not had a real concern for detail - mutatis mutandis applicable also to writers touching on real life), and I consider that on the one hand learned people in Antiquity and Middle Ages had a very great respect for verbal exactitude, and on the other hand at any time when Christianity was socially strong, apologists were obliged to deal with people "really neurotic" about detail (insofar as "neurotic" has any meaning at all), and ready to twist things.

Now, what about Zacharias or Jeremias? There are at least three solutions, not sure if all are distinct.

J. P. Holding, as cited:
(such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures)

Damien Mackey
whom I follow on Academia, once said that Jeremias and Zacharias have the exact same person as an author.

AND while googling,
I just found yet another soloution.

KJV Today thinks
we are instead dealing with another text:


The words from Zechariah 11:12-13 are not the exact words recorded at Matthew 27:9-10. Zechariah does not mention the "children of Israel" and the "field". In fact, only Jeremiah mentions the "field". Jeremiah 32:6-10 describes Jeremiah being commanded by the LORD to buy a field with seventeen shekels of silver.


In other words, when St Matthew writes about thirty pieces, he is estimating this as equivalent to Jeremias' "seventeen shekels" (Douay Rheims has seven staters and ten pieces of silver).

Jeremias 32:6-10 And Jeremias said: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: ehold, Hanameel the son of Sellum thy cousin shall come to thee, saying: Buy thee my field, which is in Anathoth, for it is thy right to buy it, being akin. And Hanameel my uncle' s son cam to me, according to the word of the to the entry of the prison, and said me: Buy my field, which is in in the land of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thins, and thou art next of kin to possess it. And I understood this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the held of my uncle' s son, that is in Anathoth: and I weighed him the money, seven staters, and ten pieces of silver. And I wrote it in a book and sealed it, and took witnesses: and I weighed him the money in the balances.

Now, I'd be surprised if Haydock comment didn't somehow cite St Jerome's solution for Matthew 27:

Ver. 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias. Jeremias is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek; whereas the passage is found in Zacharias xi. 12. Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremias, now lost; as St. Jerome says he found it in a writing of Jeremias, which was not canonical. Others conjecture, that Zacharias had also the name of Jeremias. Others, that St. Matthew neither put Jeremias nor Zacharias, but only of the prophet: and that the name of Jeremias had crept into the text. Jeremias is not in the Syriac; and St. Augustine says it was not in divers copies.

And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus. The evangelist cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast them to the potter:[2] which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased the potter's field. The price of him that was prized. In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically, as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed. (Witham)


So, St Jerome says it was in a non-canonical writing of Jeremias. And that Matthew found it there.

I wonder whether J. P. Holding is here by "easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures" meaning sth like it being OK to cite a conglomerate of Zacharias 11:12-13 with Jeremias 32:6-10.

But that would also be a solution.

And KJV Today gives yet a solution, same page as previous:

The text of Matthew 27:9-10 says "that which was spoken", not "that which was written", so there is no need to look for the exact quotation in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah spoke the prophecy but did not write it. Zechariah then wrote Jeremiah's oral prophecy while omitting the reference to a field because that detail had already been described in Jeremiah 32:6-10.


A very laudable sentiment, too sad that the site is dedicated to King James Version rather than Vulgate / LXX / Douay Rheims.

In other words, while I am not often engaged in this sort of problems about the Bible, where it is supposed to contradict itself, it seems that the solutions abound well over the problems.

However, both the problems and the solutions assume a familiarity with all aspects of the Bible well above my level - that is why I usually leave this kind of thing to others.

Let's return to this:

What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi."


Would that be St Mark? I found it in Mark 5:41. Now, I go to Corpus Thomisticum, Catena Aurea in Marcum, to chapter 5, lectio 3, and find, nope, there is a passage in Matthew too! Anyway, the reference to St Jerome is indeed there in the lectio 3 of chapter 5 of St Mark's Gospel:

Hieronymus de optimo genere Interpret.

Arguat aliquis Evangelistam mendacii, quare exponendo addiderit tibi dico; cum in Hebraico Thabitha, cumi tantum significet puella, surge. Sed ut emphaticoteron** faceret et sensum vocantis et imperantis exprimeret, addit tibi dico, surge.


Let someone argue the Gospeller [guilty] of lying, because exposing he added "I say unto thee"; when in Hebrew Thabitha, cumi only signifies "maid, stand up". But in order to make it more emphatical and express the sense of [Him] calling and of [Him] commanding, he adds "I say unto thee, stand up".

It could of course also be that Christ in fact used the Hebrew or Aramaic (St Jerome was using the word Hebrew for both Hebrew and Aramaic*) equivalent of "I say unto thee" but St Mark thought "thalitha cumi" was as much "Hebrew" as non-Hebrew speaking faithful could stomach, or perhaps St Peter cited only those verbatim from memory, as a side remark to St Matthew's:

9:25 And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose.

Or to St Luke's:

8:54 But he taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise.

If St Luke's sources could not recall "I say unto thee" neither they nor St Luke said anothing actually false in stating "maid, arise", while St Marc could be giving a fuller quote along with a translation back to Aramaic of the words. Either way, there is no falsehood.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Julian and Basilissa
9.I.2017

* This is perhaps one of the arguments for those saying the Vulgate relied on Aquila rather than direct and own reading of OT text.

** St Jerome is very clear that "emphaticos" is Greek, so that it needs a Greek comparative and neuter accusative "emphaticoteron" rather than Latin "emphaticius". Forming "emphaticius" which would be the Latin form, I think his taste was good.