Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
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02-07-2016, 05:37 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 04:49 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 04:32 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I happen to think there may have been a Yeshua...a failed and crucified insurrectionist. He was not the Jesus you read about in the the comic book gospels.

And that is where we differ.

Yeshua is the same Jesus who's life Paul and the Christian sects embellished. This explains why Paul said he met James, the lord's brother, and why Paul constantly mentions the crucifixion of Jesus as the gospels and other sources do, and so on.

Yes, Paul loosely based his concept off of the very same Jesus/Yeshua of the gospels, who was also the focus of the original follows in the Church of Jerusalem.

This one and same Jesus/Yeshua spawned numerous sects including the Nazerenes, Christians, and Gnostics.

There are just too many similarities for this to be two or more different people.

"This one and same Jesus/Yeshua spawned numerous sects including the Nazerenes...",


NO! You clearly know nothing about the Nazarenes. Sorry folks, I'm going to have to repeat myself while schooling this one....I'll start with the Essenes...

The Essenes
The third important group was the Essenes. We know a fair bit about them, not only from Flavius Josephus, (http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/josep...senes.htm) who may have been an Essene, but also from Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, and from the (probably) Essene Qumran community who hid the Dead Sea Scrolls.

They were a heterogeneous group, but some generalizations can be made about them. They were well respected amongst most Jews. Josephus numbered them at about four thousand, and writes they had a strong affection for each other, and lived in groups scattered throughout Judea. They preferred to wear white and were particular about certain bathing rituals, including baptism. Most were celibate, which was quite unusual, as most Jews considered it as living an incomplete life. They rejected the pursuit of pleasure, preached poverty, humility, chastity, loving one’s neighbor, and penitence. They believed in a war between the forces of good and evil, and in the need for God’s grace. They strove to speak gently and quietly, to never swear, and were strong believers in justice and that all Jews were equal. They rejected the accumulation of wealth, and shared all their possessions. They claimed to love the truth and to never steal. Unlike the other Jewish sects, they spurned animal sacrifice. They thought of themselves as healers, to be able to cast out demons and restore the dead to life. They were said to foretell the future and to have little fear of death. They were convinced that after death their souls were destined for paradise, provided they had been righteous.

They deeply resented the Sadducees, so set up their own priesthood separate to the temple. They mistrusted most of the Pharisees, regarding them as corrupt or hypocritical.

Josephus leaves out one important fact about them; that many of them were intensely anti-Roman. We know this from the Dead Sea scrolls. Many authors have unknowingly misled modern readers by stating that Essenes were pacifists, which is true, yet once they’d decided God justified a war —a holy war—they would fight. Josephus was writing for a Roman audience, and was trying to present his countrymen in the best possible light, so this omission is understandable.

Yeshua the Essene

I think Yeshua was an Essene, for the following reasons. (http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/018...sene.php).

They had many beliefs in common with those credited to Jesus. Some of the sayings attributed to Jesus are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (yet his existence is never mentioned in them.) Jesus and his disciples pooled their funds, which were administered by a treasurer, a feature of Essene communities. Many scholars believe John the Baptist, who could have been Yeshua’s cousin, was an Essene. John baptized Yeshua, so Yeshua clearly had the same beliefs as him. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/jlgi/jlgi05.htm).

The Gospel’s writers and editors didn’t mention the existence of the Essenes even once. If it was suggested or implied that Yeshua and the disciples were Essenes, it would have meant they were too fundamentally Jewish and too anti Roman. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...nes.html).
One minor fact that doesn’t fit is that Yeshua and his disciples allegedly ate fish, and the Essenes were strict vegetarians.

There was a particular group of Essenes known as Nazarenes. I believe John, Yeshua, his family, and his disciples were all Nazarenes. Obviously, then, they were an important group, and I will discuss them shortly.

Zealots
Zealots were practitioners of armed military resistance against the Romans. They were a militant political, rather than a religious movement, but their ideals were inspired by their religion.

Galilee was the heartland of zealotry. Judas of Galilee (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot, the disciple - who was also said to be a zealot) was an important zealot figure in 6 CE. This is part of what Josephus had to say about him.

“Judas the Galilean was the author of the fourth branch of Jewish philosophy. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.” (http://www.livius.org/men-mh/messiah/mes...s04.html). Josephus didn’t document what happened to Judas, but the author of Acts did;

“And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too and all of his followers dispersed” (Acts 5:38, NJB.) The author didn’t mention that Roman soldiers killed Judas, I think because he didn’t want readers drawing parallels with Jesus. We know from other historians that most of Judas’ followers weren’t dispersed; they were killed in battle or captured and crucified.

Zealotry was an attitude that inspired action. There wasn’t one particular group known as “zealots.” Josephus described them as a group of rebels and outsiders who were distinctly separate from all other Jews, because he wanted his Gentile readers to think that most Jews were peace-loving people who were pleased to be part of the empire. In reality, I think most Jews, particularly the poorer ones, had a degree of zealotry in their hearts, but many of them were too afraid to practice it.

Zealots had significant support from sympathizers. In 66 CE, perhaps thirty odd years after Yeshua’s death, several large groups of zealots played the leading roles in a major revolt against the Romans. The uprising occurred throughout most of Judea and included the capital, Jerusalem. The Romans responded by routing Galilee. They then laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 CE, destroyed the temple and massacred an estimated one million Jews. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsou...olt.html). Josephus quite rightly held zealots responsible for starting the war. Interestingly, he may have originally been a Galilean zealot who defected to the Roman side. If so, he was a traitor. He spent the rest of his life living in Rome and writing pro-Roman history.
It was during this war that Essene zealots at Qumran hid the Dead Sea Scrolls from the invading Roman army.

There are interesting similarities between the ancient zealots and the popular image of today’s al-Quada; a strong belief that they’re being oppressed by foreigners; a firm adherence to religious beliefs; a reckless disregard for personal safety; a preference for violence over peaceful negotiation; and a disregard for human life. Both groups have been willing to kill their countrymen who don’t agree with them. I’m referring to different religions in different eras, but the same self-righteous fanaticism inspired by belief.

The Nazarenes

Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the bible: Acts referred to
“Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB.) Most Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed, (Matt. 2:23) but Nazareth the place was probably not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being “of Nazareth,” the real meaning is “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm.) As mentioned, Nazareth the village probably didn’t exist in Yeshua’s time. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.

“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB.)

An important religious sect would not have been named after an obscure Galilean village!

Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. (http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A”Hugh J.Schonfield” AND subject%3A”Nazarenes”). He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE. So, if he was right, they were already well established in Jesus’ time.

Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” (http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm).

John the Baptist, Yeshua’s family, disciples and followers were all Nazarenes. The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They too were Jews, not Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn’t approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God’s chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

They considered the temple was the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

Yeshua may have became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins (http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm). They believed he was a (human) prophet who they hoped could be Israel’s messiah.

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly Gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes, or wrote them off as heretics, or tried to claim that some of them believed in the divinity of Christ. I think the modern reader interested in Jesus should be interested in their story.
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02-07-2016, 06:06 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2016 07:22 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 04:49 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 04:32 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I happen to think there may have been a Yeshua...a failed and crucified insurrectionist. He was not the Jesus you read about in the the comic book gospels.

And that is where we differ.

Yeshua is the same Jesus who's life Paul and the Christian sects embellished. This explains why Paul said he met James, the lord's brother, and why Paul constantly mentions the crucifixion of Jesus as the gospels and other sources do, and so on.

Yes, Paul loosely based his concept off of the very same Jesus/Yeshua of the gospels, who was also the focus of the original follows in the Church of Jerusalem.

This one and same Jesus/Yeshua spawned numerous sects including the Nazerenes, Christians, and Gnostics.

There are just too many similarities for this to be two or more different people.

"This one and same Jesus/Yeshua spawned numerous sects including the... Gnostics."

Really? I wonder what you know of the gnostics? When one considers gnostics existed before Yeshua's time, it's impossible that "he" "spawned" them! ConsiderThumbsup... More schooling for you follows...

Gnosticism
The term “Gnostic” is a convenient one for historians, as it packages some very diverse groups into a neatly labeled whole, yet things weren’t that simplistic. The term means “one who knows,” rather than designating a distinct doctrine.

It’s a common misconception that Gnosticism began during the Christian era, yet people who are now considered to be Gnostics existed thousands of years beforehand. Gnostics were, in fact, very eclectic, as they tried to interpret many religious ideologies and philosophies. The Greek philosopher Pythagorus was a “Gnostic,” as was the Jewish philosopher Philo. Mandaeanism was a form of Gnosticism dating from the 4th century BCE that tried to bridge Judaism with Zoroastrianism, and it was very influential on Christianity.

During the Christian era, “Gnosticism” became more of a monolithic movement associated with Christianity, although the term itself was never used until the modern era.

Edward Gibbon wrote that the Gnostics were distinguished as the most polite, learned, and the wealthiest of the early Christians, and that their principal founders were natives of Syria or Egypt. They blended their faith in Christ with many “sublime but obscure tenets,” which they derived from oriental philosophy and even from the religion of Zoroaster, (628–551 BCE) an ancient Iranian prophet, philosopher and poet, and others. There were many groups of them, all of which can be considered as proto-Christians. Instead of the four Gospels eventually adopted by the church, the Gnostics produced a multitude of histories in which the actions and discourses of Christ and his apostles were discussed.

Valentinus was a deep thinker. Like Marcion, he believed that Yahweh was a “mistake,” and even thought of him as evil. He believed that the supreme God, who had sent Christ, was someone different, and androgynous.

One of the most important differences between Gnosticism and Catholicism was the removal of the intercessor between God and man. Catholics (even today) are told that they need a priest to perform absolution from sin and other functions like baptism, communion, blessings, and burials. Gnostics didn’t. As a result, the priesthood felt threatened because the Gnostics did them out of an income and diminished their importance.

The Valentinians participated in the public life of the Catholic Church, yet also held their meetings separately from them. These meetings were open to all interested parties and served to attract potential converts to the movement. Women held positions of authority within his community. Anybody who came to a meeting was seen as potentially spiritual and was made welcome. Tertullian reported:

“They all have access equally, they all listen equally, they all pray equally—even pagans if they happen to come…They also share the kiss of peace with all who come.” (Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 41.)

Stephan A. Hoeller, a recognized modern authority on Gnosticism, relates the following insights (adapted by myself without changing their meaning) on Valentinus’ Gnosticism.

Valentinus’ ideas on how things are might be summarized as follows: people from all walks of life recognized that there was something wrong with their lives. Catholic Christians, as well as Jews, recognized that there was a “wrongness” in human existence too, but they accounted for it chiefly in terms of the effects of human sin; that whatever was wrong with the world was the result of human disobedience to the creator. This meant that all evil, discomfort, and terror in their lives and in history were somehow man’s fault. So a theme of “Mea Culpa” ran through this worldview, which permanently affixed an element of guilt to the human psyche. Valentinus, in opposition to this, shifted the blame for wrongness in the world from humanity to divinity. That God the creator could be at fault in anything was tantamount to blasphemy in Catholic eyes. Yet Valentinus didn’t view the creator with the worshipful eyes of the Judeo-Christian believer, but rather saw the creator, along with other divinities, as man’s mythical creations. Consider this quote from the Gospel of Philip (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html, part of the Nag Hammadi library):
“God created man and man created God. So is it in the world. Men make gods and they worship their creations. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men” (Logion 85: 1–4.)

He believed humans had the potential to resolve the wrongness of their existence by using “Gnosis,” or self-knowledge. He thought that because human minds had lost their self-knowledge, we lived in a world that was lacking in integrity. Knowledge of self was the real resurrection - resurrection from the death of ignorance.

Valentinus would say there was no need for guilt, or for repentance from sin. Nor was there a need for belief in salvation by way of the death of Jesus. We didn’t need to be saved; we needed to be transformed, by Gnosis, the activation of self-knowledge.
The proposition that the human mind lives in a largely self-created world, from whence only Gnosis can rescue it, is common to Buddhism. According to Buddha, the world of apparent reality consists of ignorance and the lack of authentic selfhood.

Valentinus didn’t negate or diminish the importance of Jesus in his teachings, and he claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, but his Jesus never was the character in today’s gospels. Unlike the master/sheep relationship of Christianity, for the Valentinians, Christ was like a brother, a wise teacher who helped them work things out. The great devotion and reverence shown for Jesus is manifest in the Gospel of Truth from Nag Hammadi, (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/got.html) which in its original form was authored by Valentinus himself. Jesus is indeed a savoir, but the term needs to be understood in the meaning of the original Greek word “soter,” meaning healer, or bestower of health. “Soteria” meant healthiness, deliverance from imperfection, and becoming whole.

The Valentinians believed that all wrongness in the world has one common root: ignorance. We’re ignorant of the authentic values of life, and substitute inauthentic ones for them. These inauthentic values are either physical or of the mind. We believe that we need things (such as money, symbols of power, prestige or physical pleasures) in order to be happy or whole. Similarly, we fall in love with the ideas and abstractions of our minds. The rigidities and the hardness of our lives is due to our attachment to things and concepts. The Gnostics called the sickness of materialism “hyleticism,” (worship of matter) while the sickness of abstract intellectualism and moralizing was known as “psychism,” (worship of the mind/emotional soul.)

Jesus, the soter, the healer-savior, the spiritual maker of wholeness, could exorcise the sicknesses of hyleticism and psychism by bringing knowledge of the “pneuma” (spirit.) They could not say what “pneuma” was, but could indicate what it did. It brought a flexibility and courage to life, so that the soul ceased to be fascinated and confined by material things and ideas and could address itself to life. The obsessive state of material and mental attachments was replaced by spiritual freedom; the inauthentic values of the former were made to give way to more authentic ones.

I thank Stephan A. Hoeller for providing the above insights into Gnosticism.

Wow! The above takes some effort to understand and appreciate, but the ideas expressed are real and powerful. It’s refreshing to realize that nearly 2000 years ago there were people whose thinking was this deep. There are clever minds at work here. These ideas have a very non-Jewish flavor to them. I find it difficult to imagine a Jewish peasant from Galilee such as Jesus entertaining them.

Some decades after Valentinus’ death, Irenaeus began his massive work “Adversus Haereses,” with a highly colored and negative view of Valentinus and his teachings that occupies most of the book.

The Gnostic philosophy was popular, but they were labeled and suppressed as heretics by a Catholic Church more interested in the pursuit of power than in personal profundities. It’s a pity that Valentinus’ Jesus was forced out of circulation. Imagine Christian society today if a Gnostic Jesus story had won the propaganda battle. The focus would be on self-discovery and the acceptance of alternative views! There are good websites and numerous books on Gnosticism for anyone interested (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/nhlintro.html).
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02-07-2016, 06:35 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2016 07:18 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 02:46 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 01:35 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  Moses never existed.

Agreed.

Quote:No one who ever wrote of jesus, knew him.


Unknown.

Quote:The Exodus never happened.

Agreed.

Quote:The mythical global flood of 2349 BCE never happened.

Agreed.

Quote:The synoptic gospels were not written by their namesakes, and are pseudonymous works.

Agreed, and neither was John written by anyone named John.

Quote:Now run along and go learn a few things and come back when you are ready to challenge me. You stumbled into theTHINKINGatheist, and I am sure you thought you were going to come in here and teach us heathens a thing or two....silly. You know why we are experts in theology? Because we have studied it, read the bible, applied analysis and comparative studies to the OT, NT and the story of jesus. You need to go back to the kiddy table where you can impress them with stories of magic.

There is virtually nothing you can teach me that I don't already know. However ...

Multa profecto ostenderet tibi quod non possum etiam Latine et Graece.


"There is virtually nothing you can teach me that I don't already know."


Ha ha!!

Classic Dunning–Kruger effect... a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately.
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02-07-2016, 07:14 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
Wow. Just fucking wow.

(02-07-2016 02:46 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  There is virtually nothing you can teach me that I don't already know. However ...

Let us take a moment and behold the glorious, arrogance possessed only by those who are unaware of their own ignorance.

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02-07-2016, 07:22 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 02:33 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 01:19 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  What is exceptionally obvious is your lack of academic education on theology, NT, and historicity of jesus. Don't make me beat you with the knowledge stick child. Did I imply more than one jesus was nailed to a piece of wood like an insignificant thief? no.

What I state, and can back up categorically, is no one who EVER wrote of jesus knew him. So all of the "jesus said, and jesus did" stories are based on hearsay by non-eyewitnesses. Ever played the telephone game child? Your anthropocentric perspective of a transcendental super genie and his alleged halfling spawn "false messiah" whose legend was the basis of later hubris theological pseudepigrapha driven fantasies about incarnation and atonement does not impress me as it is without evidence.. Faith, the belief in something without evidence is what you cling to like a stripper to her favorite pole. Research, trace the story back to its authorship, see the relation to older Sumerian, Crete and Greek myths that all of the major biblical stories are based upon, think, and evolve beyond the Fiction, Fantasy and Forgery that makeup the Christian cult. Endeavor to learn child, and stumble down the epistemological path to truth. Let me know when you think you have learned a few things before you bother to waste my fucking time with your amateur and childlike understanding of the subject at hand.

You implied that there were other people named Jesus who were regarded as a Messiah, presumably during that same time.

I am simply asking you for one other example, aside from Jesus of Nazareth, of any other person named Jesus who was entitled as Christ or Messaih.

In regards to my education, I will tell you this.

You are a student.

I am a teacher.

Wink

Yes, Jesus was a common name.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_p...o_you.html


Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus' death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters—including a descendent of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2).


An ossuary box was found with the names Jesus and his wife Mary on it.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/f...ion.israel

Israeli archaeologists were also quick to point out that despite the statistical work commissioned by Mr Jacobovici, the names scratched into the boxes were all highly popular and common in the first century.

"We know that Joseph, Jesus and Mariamene were all among the most common names of the period. To start with all these names being together in a single tomb and leap from there to say this is the tomb of Jesus is a little far-fetched, to put it politely," said David Mevorah, a curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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02-07-2016, 07:32 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 07:14 PM)Fatbaldhobbit Wrote:  Wow. Just fucking wow.

(02-07-2016 02:46 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  There is virtually nothing you can teach me that I don't already know. However ...

Let us take a moment and behold the glorious, arrogance possessed only by those who are unaware of their own ignorance.

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It's a common trait amongst god botherers. As people learn more, they
- usually give up bothering god
- become more humble
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02-07-2016, 08:16 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 07:32 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It's a common trait amongst god botherers. As people learn more, they
- usually give up bothering god
- become more humble

The ones we get here usually choose c.) double down on their claims without improving their arguments. Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-07-2016, 08:38 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2016 09:44 PM by GoingUp.)
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 04:58 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  You may have read it, but you didn't textually excavate it. In short, you didn't fully understand what was actually there to see, and instead only read the words.

So I read it, but I didn't understand it because I don't come to the same conclusion as you? Wow. "Textually excavate"... wow. Dodgy

Textual excavation is a procedure historians use. You can Google it and find out more.

It's a trained skill that allows historians to see more than what is just on the surface, hence "excavation."

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  So firstly, according to your reasoning- or lack thereof- it is not obvious that a proud Roman statesman and revered historian is writing Roman history for the Roman population?

Then secondly you say, "He is indeed writing Roman history?"

So either it is obvious that he is writing Roman history, or it is not obvious he is writing Roman history. Which is it?

He is writing Roman history, in describing the actions of Emperors--one in particular, in that case--who lived/ruled 50 years before his writing. It is a Roman history for Romans. The cultists in the story who got blamed for Nero's (possible) actions are only a detail, as are the things done to those people at the behest of the Emperor. The center of the story from Tacitus is the Emperor, not the victims. Only from the perspective of the past 1700 years of Christian dominance of Western culture do we see the Christians as being so important to the story that he'd be careful enough to check a document to verify that part of the story. You could just as easily substitute the worshipers of the Resurrected Amon-Ra in there, and it wouldn't change the story (if it was they who were persecuted). You accused me of substituting modern perspective into a story, yet you appear to be doing the same. They. Are. A. Footnote!

So we agree that he is writing Roman history and not relating anything from the Christians such as hearsay?

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  In addition to that, you are merely speculating with an un-sourced opinion, and then you are attempting to diminish the importance of Pilate while referring to him as" some distant regional governor" while miserably attempting to convince me that that is what Tacitus actually thought about Pilate?

Tacitus by no means referred to Pilate as some "distant regional governor." You are attempting to put words into his mouth that do not exist.

To Tacitus, a century after Pilate was no longer Prefect of the Judean province, and not an actor in the story about Nero that Tacitus is telling, yes, he would have been "distant regional governor".

But that is not what Tacitus referred to him as being, is it? Those are your words and your thoughts from this century being imposed on a historical figure who existed some 2000 years ago. That practice is inappropriate in evaluating historical texts as it can easily skew the reality of what is actually there in the print.

It is entirely possible that Tacitus may have in fact known Pilate personally, as he was purportedly born a mere 20 years after Pilate left Judea for Rome, and both were from families of statesmen. it is certainly not unreasonable to accept as possible that they were, at the very least, contemporaries.

Quote:Like the Christians themselves, who he was and what he did was not critical to that narrative, except as background information for the "present" (50 years before Annals) story being told. Again, Pilate is only seen as important to us because of his central place in Christian theology, which is what garnered him a mention in the section on why Nero was persecuting Christians.

But Tacitus makes no mention of the theology of the Christians other than to claim they were hated for their abominations, and that they held some kind of a mischievous superstition, which could possibly be a reference to the resurrection story.

You are attempting to say that Tacitus was writing with the Christian audience in mind when you say such things as "Pilate is only seen as important to us because of his central place in Christian theology, which is what garnered him a mention in the section," but the text clearly contradicts that position as 1) He was writing Roman history for a Roman audience, and 2) he regards the Christians as a class who were hated.

It makes absolutely no logical sense for Tacitus- a proud Roman statesman and historian- to write the section for a Christian audience who he described as being hated and as being criminals.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Then you assert again that you seem to understand that Tacitus was someone completely detached from the question of the Christians by asserting "the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description," yet you fail to acknowledge that the entire paragraph is all about the numerous tortures Nero places on these Christians, whom you claim are "not critical enough to merit more than a description?"

If they are not critical enough to merit more than a description? as you say, then why does Tacitus go into such detail about their persecutions and tortures?

No, he says much more than a description about who they were.

Because the "numerous tortures Nero places on these Christians" is the point of the narrative: the narrative is about the actions of Nero. Again, if Nero was persecuting a cult that believed in a resurrected Amon-Ra, Tacitus would have briefly described what they were and where they came from, before going into detail about the actions of the Emperor. This should not be such a difficult concept for you.

That does not address my point in which I contest your assertion the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, with that description clearly being in reference to Christus, but then Tacitus details even more of a description about them with their persecutions by Nero.

In other words, if the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, then why then does Tacitus offer MORE on the Christians in the proceeding sentences?

My point is that your statements appear contradictory.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  This is nothing more than an apologetic, and does nothing to address my point. You have in no way whatsoever countered my point that Tacitus would not glean his information for Roman history from any dialogue he had with the Christians amounting to hearsay. You have provided no supporting evidence to validate any of your claims above, and are again merely asserting with no support whatsoever.

You think Tacitus would not go find out exactly what a Christian was, and what they claimed, in writing about them?

Do you see any indication of him actually doing anything that in the text? No.

Quote: Why not?

Since he was a statesman with access to official Roman records and historical records, why would he need to do that? Since he was writing Roman history, why would he go to the Christians and use their version of their history as opposed to Roman history?

Your position on all this one I have seen many many times, but what you do not realize is that you are viewing all this exactly the same way a Christian would. You see something here about Christ and go about trying to explain it from a Christian perspective, despite the fact you are not a Christian.

But what Tacitus wrote has absolutely nothing to do with a Christian perspective, which was something he was far removed from according to who he was, his culture, and his pedigree.

You are asking me accept that a proud, respected, and powerful Roman named Tacitus consorted with a hated sect of Christians for information on who they were, and what they believed when all that information was readily available to him from his very own trusted Roman resources.

Christians were considered to be enemies of the Roman Empire in Tacitus' time, as evidenced by his very own words, and also buy records we have from Pliny the Younger, who was Tacitus' friend.

Therefore, it is a massive illogical and unreasonable stretch to consider as plausible that this particular Roman would consort with a hated enemy for information to be included as part of Roman history.

Quote:[quote] It's clear they were present in Rome, and we know that Tacitus investigated and wrote about many cults, and had plenty of reasons to investigate Christianity prior to the writing of Annals. (One speculated reason I remember reading was the conversion of Emperor Domitian's niece Domitilla, to Christianity, about 10 years prior to the writing of Annals, something that would have struck a man like Tacitus as more than a bit curious and worth looking into, since it affected the ruler class of Rome.) You also leave out the fact that it was very difficult even for a Senator to access official Roman record-vaults without specific permission from the Emperor; if Tacitus already knew who and what the Christian claims were, as he likely did, then what would be the point of going to find the document about Pilate for what amounts to a footnote? It makes no sense.

This is another not well investigated argument I have seen several times from atheists with various levels of personal agendas.

And it is completely refuted by the Annal's text.

We see Tacitus accessing the public records, known as the Acta Diurna in Annals 12.24, 3.3, and 13.31

Then we also see Tacitus accessing the more restricted Roman records known as the Acta Senatus at 15.73 and 15.74, which incidentally is the exact same chapter as 15.44 where he writes about Christ. Wink

These are just a few examples among many which demonstrate that Tacitus had more than enough high standing to be granted access to these records, and he did access them according to the text.

But the reality here is that Tacitus likely did not access these particular records in regards to Pilate, Tiberius, Christ, or the Christians. Instead, he would have gotten this information from a consensus of historians and their previously written historical documents.

So to differentiate a consensus from mere hearsay, we need only to look at the definitions:

hearsay: information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor.

consensus: general agreement or concord; harmony.


Therefore, since we already know from the text that Tacitus consistently used the consensus of previous historical records which substantiate each other, we cannot consider this as mere hearsay which cannot be adequately substantiated on its own.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Does nothing to counter the point, and also if your position about Christians not quibbling actually did have merit, then how do you explain the numerous apologetic texts from the early church fathers who existed previously, during, and immediately after the time of Tacitus, and who vigorously defended their faith by attempting to counter anything they felt was inaccurate?

Well, the church did, later on, have quite a quibble with the tone of Tacitus' description of them... but his description of them was not inaccurate. When people accused them of practices they did not believe in, then they had cause to quibble.

Yet the point still remains that we do not find any ancient text with anybody- Christian or non Christian- questioning or denying the existence of Jesus as at the very least a mere human being who actually lived.

And we know there are texts which demonstrate plenty of opportunity for any Christian antagonist to challenge the existence of Jesus.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  And why do we not see from the non-Christian antagonists in antiquity living after Tacitus saying anything to counter Tacitus's positive claim that Christ, of whom the Christians were named after, was executed by Pilate, indicating his actual existence?

How would they know if he was a real guy or not? I am unfamiliar with any "antagonists in antiquity" who would have been placed in a position to be able to know anything about Jesus other than the claims of his followers. If you are aware of any, please let me know. It is a moot point for an antagonist to argue-- "and he might not even be a real guy!" So?

Have you not read Celsum? Trypho? Marcus Cornelius Fronto? Galen?

These are all heavy and well recorded ancient critics of Christianity dating as far back as a century or less after the purported crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Not one of them questioned the existence of Jesus at all.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  No one in antiquity questioned the existence of this Jesus as being, at the very least, an ordinary man. In fact, we have texts from non Christian antagonists who chastise the Christians for embellishing the life of Jesus instead of respecting him as being but a mere man.

We know the Christians were embellishing, and continuing to embellish, the story. Even modern Christian scholars admit that. And, just like me, I don't see any reason to quibble with Jesus existing as an ordinary man. I do, like them, quibble with the volumes of stories the Christians told about the man, and find the magical parts outright laughable. This argument from silence does not back up your point.

An argument from silence can be used as a valid argument if a reasonable expectation of non silence does not occur.

It is reasonable to expect someone to say something to the effect that Jesus never existed if there was any shred of truth to it at all.

But not one single peep, not even from Christianity's harshest ancient critics.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Yes, exactly. We do not find a Christian source that has the information that Tacitus used regarding Christ, and the persecution of the Christians. This indicates that Tacitus did not use Christian sources for this, which adds to the credulity that his sources were exclusively Roman, and specifically, Roman written sources.

You're conflating two different questions. Tacitus' use of written sources for the persecution of the Christians is a very different question from using official records of the alleged crucifixion of Christ. No one is arguing that T didn't have records and testimony about the persecutions. But just knowing what a Christian was and what they claimed does not require records... it requires ever having had a conversation with a person (say, for instance, Domitilla) who was a Christian. Ever. It does not warrant a conclusion that there exists some timely-written, now-missing Roman document that somehow gets Pilate's rank wrong.

It doesn't require that at all. All it requires is for him to access the works of previous Roman historians who- considering the time frame- most likely were contemporary to Pilate and Tiberius.

Tacitus published his works only a mere 75 - 80 years after Pilate left Judea, and since we already know that he accessed the works of previous Roman historians, then those works would almost certainly be contemporary to the time of Pilate and Tiberius.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Again you are attempting to misrepresent the text by using such words as "Apparently" and inserting an interpretation of the text as meaning, "They call themselves Christians because of a guy they call Christ."

"They" is not in the text. The text clearly says, "called Christians by the populace." He is telling you that the Roman population calls them Christians, and not that the Christians themselves said anything at all in that respect. He is again using the ROMAN perspective to describe the origin of the Christians, and literally tells you that explicitly.

What's the difference? I paraphrased loosely to point out the objective of his passage about the Christians, not to try to semi-quote him.

And I'm saying he's telling the story from a Roman perspective! What point do you think you're getting across, here?

You paraphrase was inappropriate as it does not accurately reflect the true nature of the text. The word "apparently" as a paraphrase insinuates room for doubt, when the fact is Tacitus clearly makes a positive claim.

It misrepresents the text.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  You are still of the mind that someone wrote down what the Christians claimed, despite the fact that I pointed to direct evidence that he used numerous written materials for his works, and I also directly pointed to him the Roman perspective by his use of "populace" directly within the same sentence as Christ and the Christians.

He tells us that they were called Christians by the Roman population, and not by the Christians themselves.

You're actually weakening your case. To make your case, you'd have to argue that the Christian detail-information was so little-known that Tacitus would have had to research it in the official library. But if it was well enough known among the general population for the Christians to have developed a nickname, you'd have to argue that Tacitus was the most clueless person in the city. This in no way provides support for your claim that he had to use documents to describe a Christian prior to listing the actions of Nero against them.

You have missed the point here, which is that Tacitus did not use any hearsay from the Christians regarding the title of Christians, but rather he used Roman perspectives from the Roman population who commonly referred to this sect as Christians.

What this strengthens in my position as a whole is that it provides even more evidence that Tacitus was writing Roman history regarding the Christians from the ROMAN perspective (the Roman population) as opposed to your assertion of Christian hearsay.

Quote:
(02-07-2016 12:40 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  It doesn't matter who's view you share, for all the matters is what can be demonstrated as having merit via evidence. It's one thing to assert something, but it's entirely different to back it up with corroborating evidence.

It is you who must establish that official records were used by Tacitus,

And that has been accomplished with numerous examples further up in this post.
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02-07-2016, 09:54 PM (This post was last modified: 02-07-2016 10:03 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  So we agree that he is writing Roman history and not relating anything from the Christians such as hearsay?

It's not an either-or proposition. He's writing the actions of the emperors, to which the sect persecuted by one of those emperors would be a mere footnote.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  But that is not what Tacitus referred to him as being, is it? Those are your words and your thoughts from this century being imposed on a historical figure who existed some 2000 years ago. That practice is inappropriate in evaluating historical texts as it can easily skew the reality of what is actually there in the print.

It is entirely possible that Tacitus may have in fact known Pilate personally, as he was purportedly born a mere 20 years after Pilate left Judea for Rome, and both were from families of statesmen. it is certainly not unreasonable to accept as possible that they were, at the very least, contemporaries.

I referred to him as a distant regional governor because Judea was relatively minor and among the most distant and troublesome provinces. He was also governor nearly 80 years before Tacitus wrote Annals in 115 C.E.

Pilate would have had to be old enough to be Prefect/Governor in the year 26, placing him as born before the Common Era. Pilate was recalled to Rome a decade later, arriving there in 37 C.E.

Tacitus was born in 56 C.E., and would not have been an adult until Pilate was well into his seventies! So it's possible they met, at some point, I suppose, but they are not "at the very least, contemporaries" by any stretch of the imagination.


(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  But Tacitus makes no mention of the theology of the Christians other than to claim they were hated for their abominations, and that they held some kind of a mischievous superstition, which could possibly be a reference to the resurrection story.

You are attempting to say that Tacitus was writing with the Christian audience in mind when you say such things as "Pilate is only seen as important to us because of his central place in Christian theology, which is what garnered him a mention in the section," but the text clearly contradicts that position as 1) He was writing Roman history for a Roman audience, and 2) he regards the Christians as a class who were hated.

It makes absolutely no logical sense for Tacitus- a proud Roman statesman and historian- to write the section for a Christian audience who he described as being hated and as being criminals.

WAY TO DESTROY THAT STRAWMAN! Clap

At no point did I claim the subject was written for a Christian audience. I am saying that people today, looking at Tacitus' writing through the lens of 1700 years of Christian-dominated culture, see the parts about the Christian sect as something important. I strongly doubt that would be the case for Tacitus or his Roman audience. You are trying to make me argue the opposite of what I am saying.

Tacitus had no reason to even suspect that the Christians would do anything but die out, as yet another weird cult, of which the city of Rome had hundreds, at the time... or as T put it: "where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular". All those other ones "found their center", became popular for a bit, and then died out. For the sake of future audiences who might not know what present Roman residents commonly knew about the people they called "Christians", it was necessary to provide some context for who the hell those people were, what they were doing in Rome, and why Nero went after this group. That's all it is: a footnote for future generations of (Roman) readers, or those who didn't live in Rome and might not be as familiar with Christians as a local was.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  That does not address my point in which I contest your assertion the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, with that description clearly being in reference to Christus, but then Tacitus details even more of a description about them with their persecutions by Nero.

In other words, if the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, then why then does Tacitus offer MORE on the Christians in the proceeding sentences?

My point is that your statements appear contradictory.

At this point I'm not sure if you're screwing with me or being deliberately obtuse. The Christians were unimportant to Tacitus, a mere "mischievous superstition" (like so many other weird ones "from every part of the world"), but explaining what Nero was doing, to whom, and why, was obviously important to him. It's the whole reason he was writing: "This is what the Emperor did and why he did it." This is not difficult stuff.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Do you see any indication of him actually doing anything that in the text? No.

Why should that be in the text? As I said before, we know that Tacitus had at LEAST the amount of "common knowledge" of the claims of the Christians as the people in Rome who gave them the nickname "Christians", just as you and I today know at least the most basic tenets of Islam, even if we don't necessarily have access to a Qur'an or any historical documents related to them.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Since he was a statesman with access to official Roman records and historical records, why would he need to do that? Since he was writing Roman history, why would he go to the Christians and use their version of their history as opposed to Roman history?

Ugh. Again? He was writing A GODDAMNED HISTORY OF THE EMPERORS. Simply explaining a common-knowledge item (for him and other residents of Rome, at least) about what this group of Christians believed and why they were in Rome would have been necessary for, say, a Roman citizen who was a resident of Londonium, Britannia, reading a copy of his book.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Your position on all this one I have seen many many times, but what you do not realize is that you are viewing all this exactly the same way a Christian would. You see something here about Christ and go about trying to explain it from a Christian perspective, despite the fact you are not a Christian.

No, you're twisting everything I say into a Christianity-centered perspective. I'm saying they're unimportant, to a guy like Tacitus, or his Roman audience, except as a matter of "who the fuck are these people, and why did Nero allegedly target them?" As you say in your next paragraph:

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  But what Tacitus wrote has absolutely nothing to do with a Christian perspective, which was something he was far removed from according to who he was, his culture, and his pedigree.

Quite.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  You are asking me accept that a proud, respected, and powerful Roman named Tacitus consorted with a hated sect of Christians for information on who they were, and what they believed when all that information was readily available to him from his very own trusted Roman resources.

Christians were considered to be enemies of the Roman Empire in Tacitus' time, as evidenced by his very own words, and also buy records we have from Pliny the Younger, who was Tacitus' friend.

Therefore, it is a massive illogical and unreasonable stretch to consider as plausible that this particular Roman would consort with a hated enemy for information to be included as part of Roman history.

Consorting? No. But I don't think it's remotely a stretch to say he may have interviewed one or several, at some point, or gathered the information as part of what I keep referring to as "common knowledge", the way you and I know about (for instance) the Branch Davidians or the Mormons. He may have conducted interrogations of the sort he mentions in the very next line of his text: "Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."

(Bold emphasis my own, of course.) It appears at least some of the information Tacitus gathered comes directly from Christians, does it not?

[Edit to Add: I am not claiming Tacitus interviewed the Christians killed under Nero's reign, of course, but that others did. He may well have read those reports. He may also have conducted similar interviews with Christians condemned in his own time. That's all.]

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  This is another not well investigated argument I have seen several times from atheists with various levels of personal agendas.

And it is completely refuted by the Annal's text.

We see Tacitus accessing the public records, known as the Acta Diurna in Annals 12.24, 3.3, and 13.31

Then we also see Tacitus accessing the more restricted Roman records known as the Acta Senatus at 15,73 and 15.74.

These are just a few examples among many which demonstrate that Tacitus had more than enough high standing to be granted access to these records, and he did access them according to the text.

But the reality here is that Tacitus likely did not access these particular records in regards to Pilate, Tiberius, Christ, or the Christians. Instead, he would have gotten this information from a consensus of historians and their previously written historical documents.

That's almost exactly what I'm saying. Tacitus had access (to the Actus Senatus with special permission, which is why he mentions it when he does it) to records, but no reason to do so when more common ways of getting the information or simply knowing the information already were all that was needed for the sake of an "and this is who these people are, dear readers" footnote.

What it does not do is demonstrate that Tacitus was working with official Roman records of the actions of Pilate, rather than the simpler explanation that the descriptions the Christians gave of themselves to anyone who would listen was commonly known, including to Tacitus.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Therefore, since we already know from the text that Tacitus consistently used the consensus of previous historical records which substantiate each other, we cannot consider this as mere hearsay which cannot be adequately substantiated on its own.

Non sequitur. We know that Tacitus was careful to record the actions of the emperors with such historical records; we do not know that the same is the case for a minor footnote. Indeed, in the case of the Annals we know of a few places where his citations were sloppy, leading some Tacitus scholars to speculate that he was unable to fully edit and corroborate portions of the work before he died.


(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Yet the point still remains that we do not find any ancient text with anybody- Christian or non Christian- questioning or denying the existence of Jesus as at the very least a mere human being who actually lived.

And we know there are texts which demonstrate plenty of opportunity for any Christian antagonist to challenge the existence of Jesus.

And the point remains that I asked "why would they do that?" They're attacking (or ridiculing) the ideas of the Christians. Saying "and Jesus probably wasn't even real!" adds nothing to that sort of criticism. There is no reason to expect anyone to talk about this. It's a non-starter.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  Have you not read Celsum? Trypho? Marcus Cornelius Fronto? Galen?

These are all heavy and well recorded ancient critics of Christianity dating as far back as a century or less after the purported crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Not one of them questioned the existence of Jesus at all.

Yes, though I spell it Celsus. All of them were critics of Christian practices, leading to Origen's (and others') replies in defense of the actual practices. Again, the question of whether or not Jesus was a real guy, a century before these arguments came about, would have been moot.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  An argument from silence can be used as a valid argument if a reasonable expectation of non silence does not occur.

It is reasonable to expect someone to say something to the effect that Jesus never existed if there was any shred of truth to it at all.

But not one single peep, not even from Christianity's harshest ancient critics.

Ignoring for a moment the awkward syntax of the above, there is zero reason to think that someone "should have" attacked the question of whether or not the Christians were following a real guy from a century before, or a figment of some other preacher's imagination. It's irrelevant to the questions that were being raised by the detractors, all of which focused on the perceived dangers of their superstition. It is far from a "reasonable expectation" that someone should have also raised the claim that Jesus might not be real. What would they even base such a claim for that upon, at that time in history?

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
Quote:You're conflating two different questions. Tacitus' use of written sources for the persecution of the Christians is a very different question from using official records of the alleged crucifixion of Christ. No one is arguing that T didn't have records and testimony about the persecutions. But just knowing what a Christian was and what they claimed does not require records... it requires ever having had a conversation with a person (say, for instance, Domitilla) who was a Christian. Ever. It does not warrant a conclusion that there exists some timely-written, now-missing Roman document that somehow gets Pilate's rank wrong.

It doesn't require that at all. All it requires is for him to access the works of previous Roman historians who- considering the time frame- most likely were contemporary to Pilate and Tiberius.

Tacitus published his works only a mere 75 - 80 years after Pilate left Judea, and since we already know that he accessed the works of previous Roman historians, then those works would almost certainly be contemporary to the time of Pilate and Tiberius.

There is still not one reason to think that Tacitus' point was to do anything other than relay for an ignorant audience what he knew about the claims of the Christians. What he knew about them, gotten from whatever source, is irrelevant to the question of why the "records" would get Pilate's rank so wrong it would be illegal during the entire time of his governorship. It's not a small question-- as you so carefully point out, "station" was everything to a Roman like Tacitus, and to the Roman upper class in general. If he was working from records, then either he or the guy who wrote the record made a grievous error, both being highly unlikely with respect to a case like this.

You keep repeating that he "accessed records", as if that action would be employed for every minor point he makes in every book. Had he been referring to an emperor or still-powerful family in the present Roman empire, I'd buy that. But simply to reference an annoying cult of miscreants for the purpose of explaining to the audience who they were and why Nero fixated on them? No.

(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
Quote:You're actually weakening your case. To make your case, you'd have to argue that the Christian detail-information was so little-known that Tacitus would have had to research it in the official library. But if it was well enough known among the general population for the Christians to have developed a nickname, you'd have to argue that Tacitus was the most clueless person in the city. This in no way provides support for your claim that he had to use documents to describe a Christian prior to listing the actions of Nero against them.

You have missed the point here, which is that Tacitus did not use any hearsay from the Christians regarding the title of Christians, but rather he used Roman perspectives from the Roman population who commonly referred to this sect as Christians.

What this strengthens in my position as a whole is that it provides even more evidence that Tacitus was writing Roman history regarding the Christians from the ROMAN perspective (the Roman population) as opposed to your assertion of Christian hearsay.

And how would "the Roman population" have known what Christians were, enough to nickname them, if not by "Christian hearsay" (also called knowing some, and talking to others about who they were, until it became common knowledge). This is particularly pointed to by Tacitus' reference in the continuing passage of a sympathy some Romans began to hold for the oppressed Christians, due to Nero's actions:

"Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."

People knew what Christians were, even if they were seen as detestable.

There is utterly zero reason for the presuppositions you make here.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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02-07-2016, 10:32 PM
RE: Contemporary Accounts of Jesus
(02-07-2016 08:38 PM)GoingUp Wrote:  
(02-07-2016 04:58 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  So I read it, but I didn't understand it because I don't come to the same conclusion as you? Wow. "Textually excavate"... wow. Dodgy

Textual excavation is a procedure historians use. You can Google it and find out more.

It's a trained skill that allows historians to see more than what is just on the surface, hence "excavation."

Quote:He is writing Roman history, in describing the actions of Emperors--one in particular, in that case--who lived/ruled 50 years before his writing. It is a Roman history for Romans. The cultists in the story who got blamed for Nero's (possible) actions are only a detail, as are the things done to those people at the behest of the Emperor. The center of the story from Tacitus is the Emperor, not the victims. Only from the perspective of the past 1700 years of Christian dominance of Western culture do we see the Christians as being so important to the story that he'd be careful enough to check a document to verify that part of the story. You could just as easily substitute the worshipers of the Resurrected Amon-Ra in there, and it wouldn't change the story (if it was they who were persecuted). You accused me of substituting modern perspective into a story, yet you appear to be doing the same. They. Are. A. Footnote!

So we agree that he is writing Roman history and not relating anything from the Christians such as hearsay?

Quote:To Tacitus, a century after Pilate was no longer Prefect of the Judean province, and not an actor in the story about Nero that Tacitus is telling, yes, he would have been "distant regional governor".

But that is not what Tacitus referred to him as being, is it? Those are your words and your thoughts from this century being imposed on a historical figure who existed some 2000 years ago. That practice is inappropriate in evaluating historical texts as it can easily skew the reality of what is actually there in the print.

It is entirely possible that Tacitus may have in fact known Pilate personally, as he was purportedly born a mere 20 years after Pilate left Judea for Rome, and both were from families of statesmen. it is certainly not unreasonable to accept as possible that they were, at the very least, contemporaries.

Quote:Like the Christians themselves, who he was and what he did was not critical to that narrative, except as background information for the "present" (50 years before Annals) story being told. Again, Pilate is only seen as important to us because of his central place in Christian theology, which is what garnered him a mention in the section on why Nero was persecuting Christians.

But Tacitus makes no mention of the theology of the Christians other than to claim they were hated for their abominations, and that they held some kind of a mischievous superstition, which could possibly be a reference to the resurrection story.

You are attempting to say that Tacitus was writing with the Christian audience in mind when you say such things as "Pilate is only seen as important to us because of his central place in Christian theology, which is what garnered him a mention in the section," but the text clearly contradicts that position as 1) He was writing Roman history for a Roman audience, and 2) he regards the Christians as a class who were hated.

It makes absolutely no logical sense for Tacitus- a proud Roman statesman and historian- to write the section for a Christian audience who he described as being hated and as being criminals.

Quote:Because the "numerous tortures Nero places on these Christians" is the point of the narrative: the narrative is about the actions of Nero. Again, if Nero was persecuting a cult that believed in a resurrected Amon-Ra, Tacitus would have briefly described what they were and where they came from, before going into detail about the actions of the Emperor. This should not be such a difficult concept for you.

That does not address my point in which I contest your assertion the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, with that description clearly being in reference to Christus, but then Tacitus details even more of a description about them with their persecutions by Nero.

In other words, if the detail of whom the Christians are is not critical enough to merit more than a description, then why then does Tacitus offer MORE on the Christians in the proceeding sentences?

My point is that your statements appear contradictory.

Quote:You think Tacitus would not go find out exactly what a Christian was, and what they claimed, in writing about them?

Do you see any indication of him actually doing anything that in the text? No.

Quote: Why not?

Since he was a statesman with access to official Roman records and historical records, why would he need to do that? Since he was writing Roman history, why would he go to the Christians and use their version of their history as opposed to Roman history?

Your position on all this one I have seen many many times, but what you do not realize is that you are viewing all this exactly the same way a Christian would. You see something here about Christ and go about trying to explain it from a Christian perspective, despite the fact you are not a Christian.

But what Tacitus wrote has absolutely nothing to do with a Christian perspective, which was something he was far removed from according to who he was, his culture, and his pedigree.

You are asking me accept that a proud, respected, and powerful Roman named Tacitus consorted with a hated sect of Christians for information on who they were, and what they believed when all that information was readily available to him from his very own trusted Roman resources.

Christians were considered to be enemies of the Roman Empire in Tacitus' time, as evidenced by his very own words, and also buy records we have from Pliny the Younger, who was Tacitus' friend.

Therefore, it is a massive illogical and unreasonable stretch to consider as plausible that this particular Roman would consort with a hated enemy for information to be included as part of Roman history.

Quote:This is another not well investigated argument I have seen several times from atheists with various levels of personal agendas.

And it is completely refuted by the Annal's text.

We see Tacitus accessing the public records, known as the Acta Diurna in Annals 12.24, 3.3, and 13.31

Then we also see Tacitus accessing the more restricted Roman records known as the Acta Senatus at 15.73 and 15.74, which incidentally is the exact same chapter as 15.44 where he writes about Christ. Wink

These are just a few examples among many which demonstrate that Tacitus had more than enough high standing to be granted access to these records, and he did access them according to the text.

But the reality here is that Tacitus likely did not access these particular records in regards to Pilate, Tiberius, Christ, or the Christians. Instead, he would have gotten this information from a consensus of historians and their previously written historical documents.

So to differentiate a consensus from mere hearsay, we need only to look at the definitions:

hearsay: information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor.

consensus: general agreement or concord; harmony.


Therefore, since we already know from the text that Tacitus consistently used the consensus of previous historical records which substantiate each other, we cannot consider this as mere hearsay which cannot be adequately substantiated on its own.


Well, the church did, later on, have quite a quibble with the tone of Tacitus' description of them... but his description of them was not inaccurate. When people accused them of practices they did not believe in, then they had cause to quibble.

Yet the point still remains that we do not find any ancient text with anybody- Christian or non Christian- questioning or denying the existence of Jesus as at the very least a mere human being who actually lived.

And we know there are texts which demonstrate plenty of opportunity for any Christian antagonist to challenge the existence of Jesus.

Quote:How would they know if he was a real guy or not? I am unfamiliar with any "antagonists in antiquity" who would have been placed in a position to be able to know anything about Jesus other than the claims of his followers. If you are aware of any, please let me know. It is a moot point for an antagonist to argue-- "and he might not even be a real guy!" So?

Have you not read Celsum? Trypho? Marcus Cornelius Fronto? Galen?

These are all heavy and well recorded ancient critics of Christianity dating as far back as a century or less after the purported crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Not one of them questioned the existence of Jesus at all.

Quote:We know the Christians were embellishing, and continuing to embellish, the story. Even modern Christian scholars admit that. And, just like me, I don't see any reason to quibble with Jesus existing as an ordinary man. I do, like them, quibble with the volumes of stories the Christians told about the man, and find the magical parts outright laughable. This argument from silence does not back up your point.

An argument from silence can be used as a valid argument if a reasonable expectation of non silence does not occur.

It is reasonable to expect someone to say something to the effect that Jesus never existed if there was any shred of truth to it at all.

But not one single peep, not even from Christianity's harshest ancient critics.

Quote:You're conflating two different questions. Tacitus' use of written sources for the persecution of the Christians is a very different question from using official records of the alleged crucifixion of Christ. No one is arguing that T didn't have records and testimony about the persecutions. But just knowing what a Christian was and what they claimed does not require records... it requires ever having had a conversation with a person (say, for instance, Domitilla) who was a Christian. Ever. It does not warrant a conclusion that there exists some timely-written, now-missing Roman document that somehow gets Pilate's rank wrong.

It doesn't require that at all. All it requires is for him to access the works of previous Roman historians who- considering the time frame- most likely were contemporary to Pilate and Tiberius.

Tacitus published his works only a mere 75 - 80 years after Pilate left Judea, and since we already know that he accessed the works of previous Roman historians, then those works would almost certainly be contemporary to the time of Pilate and Tiberius.

Quote:What's the difference? I paraphrased loosely to point out the objective of his passage about the Christians, not to try to semi-quote him.

And I'm saying he's telling the story from a Roman perspective! What point do you think you're getting across, here?

You paraphrase was inappropriate as it does not accurately reflect the true nature of the text. The word "apparently" as a paraphrase insinuates room for doubt, when the fact is Tacitus clearly makes a positive claim.

It misrepresents the text.

Quote:You're actually weakening your case. To make your case, you'd have to argue that the Christian detail-information was so little-known that Tacitus would have had to research it in the official library. But if it was well enough known among the general population for the Christians to have developed a nickname, you'd have to argue that Tacitus was the most clueless person in the city. This in no way provides support for your claim that he had to use documents to describe a Christian prior to listing the actions of Nero against them.

You have missed the point here, which is that Tacitus did not use any hearsay from the Christians regarding the title of Christians, but rather he used Roman perspectives from the Roman population who commonly referred to this sect as Christians.

What this strengthens in my position as a whole is that it provides even more evidence that Tacitus was writing Roman history regarding the Christians from the ROMAN perspective (the Roman population) as opposed to your assertion of Christian hearsay.

Quote:It is you who must establish that official records were used by Tacitus,

And that has been accomplished with numerous examples further up in this post.

Why don't you be honest and admit you don't give a fuck about Tacitus...you just want to be seen defending your lawd and saviour... who one happy day you'll be "going up" to be with? Angel
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