Debating the historical Jesus
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12-03-2015, 06:32 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 05:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 03:24 PM)Free Wrote:  Yes, you shifted the goal posts. It doesn't matter who the authors of those previous histories were, for the fact of the matter is the question itself of where Tacitus got his sources from has been answered.
Sure the initial focus was on Tacitus' account because Tacitus' account was provided as the evidence. The goal post is validating the reliability of the information within Tacitus' documented account.

I'm glad you acknowledge it as evidence. The goal post questions are really not as important as acknowledging that he used previous Roman sources.

Quote:The goal post has never been "knowledge of where Tacitus got his information from". You have provided a vague answer as to where Tacitus got his information from, but this does not address the goal of assessing the reliability of the information.

There is nothing more available to validate. What we have is all that has come down to us. All we know, according to Tacitus, is that he was accessing previously published Roman histories for his works.

My whole point here was to demonstrate that the claim by many that Tacitus was using Christian sources for his works is completely unsupported, and is actually refuted by the actual evidence within Tacitus' work itself.

Whether or not those previous Roman histories used a Christian source is unknown, but just because it is unknown provides no evidence at all that they did.

We are looking at Roman history here, written according to the Romans. This isn't Christian history, which as Tacitus so expressly states were "a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace."

Think about it.

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12-03-2015, 06:33 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 06:07 PM)Free Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 05:17 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  I ain't putting a dog in this fight but I've got a question for Free that I wouldn't mind an answer to if you wouldn't mind lad.

How did you get from Tacitus claiming access to authors who have given both accounts of how the The Great Fire started to proof of Christs crucifixion? It seems rather plain that Tacitus claims access to information dealing with the fire itself and whether it was accidental or purposely set by Nero, and maybe even who Nero blamed it on, but I see no reason to assume that these authors, to which he claims as sources, also wrote about the crucifixion an event 60+ years removed, in another part of the empire, and almost wholly unrelated to the fire.

I see evidence of sources talking about the fire, I'll even give you that I see the possibility of evidence that Nero blamed it on the Christians, but I see no evidence for contemporary sources of the crucifixion as a separate event.

How did you connect those dots?

Again, ain't putting a dog in this fight at the moment I'm just curious.

I connect that dots by demonstrating that Tacitus used Roman historical sources for his retelling of the Great Fires of Rome, which has the part regarding Christ and the Christians within that particular body of text.

As has been previously demonstrated, Tacitus used Roman historical accounts for his works just before the part about Christus and the Christians, and I will demonstrate again that he was still using the works of previous writers in the paragraph immediately after the one mentioning Christ and the Christians which was Chapter 15:44.

Note the bold and underlined print below:

[15.45] "Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm.

Throughout Asia and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those provinces. The first was a freedman ready for any wickedness; the latter, as far as speech went, was thoroughly trained in Greek learning, but he had not imbued his heart with sound principles. Seneca, it was said, to avert from himself the obloquy of sacrilege, begged for the seclusion of a remote rural retreat, and, when it was refused, feigning ill health, as though he had a nervous ailment, would not quit his chamber.

According to some writers, poison was prepared for him at Nero's command by his own freedman, whose name was Cleonicus. This Seneca avoided through the freedman's disclosure, or his own apprehension, while he used to support life on the very simple diet of wild fruits, with water from a running stream when thirst prompted."


As you can see, Tacitus can be demonstrated as using Roman historical sources for his work both within the context of the section describing the fires, Christ, and the Christians, and then immediately after in the very next paragraph.

Therefore, with him detailing his sources within the context, and all around it, we have no good reason to assume that he was not using Roman historical sources for the insignificant part concerning the Christians and Christ.

I can understand how many will view this from a Jesus existed/Jesus didn't exist perspective, but that is not how this should be viewed. In all intellectual honesty, it should be viewed from strictly a Roman perspective in which we have an ancient Roman historian merely going about his business writing Roman history, and using Roman sources to accomplish this.

After all, Tacitus wasn't writing Christian history here. Also, my point here is not to demonstrate that this conclusively proves anything, but rather only to strengthen the argument that Tacitus, being a Roman, would of course used Roman sources for his Roman history book.

To me, with all Jesus existed/never existed contentions aside, from a strictly historical perspective, all I see here is Roman history.

I'm very grateful for detailed explications of this kind. Thank you!

Speaking strictly as a layman myself, I do have some nodding acquaintance with most of the details for -- and the online arguments concerning -- non-canonical cites like Antiqs. XX (the James/Ananus reference) [ca. 90], Tacitus [ca. 110], etc. But I admit to being quite ignorant on the Clement cite [ca. 90] and would be grateful if Free might give the details on that or refer me to a previous posting here where someone else -- or Free? -- already has done that.

Again, thanks,

Stein
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12-03-2015, 07:16 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 06:32 PM)Free Wrote:  There is nothing more available to validate. What we have is all that has come down to us. All we know, according to Tacitus, is that he was accessing previously published Roman histories for his works.

My whole point here was to demonstrate that the claim by many that Tacitus was using Christian sources for his works is completely unsupported, and is actually refuted by the actual evidence within Tacitus' work itself.

Whether or not those previous Roman histories used a Christian source is unknown, but just because it is unknown provides no evidence at all that they did.
So then, if we were to apply the Historical Method and add to that some common sense we would have to say that the account by Tacitus made 51 years after the alleged event and based on lost Roman documents/accounts of unknown time and unknown author origin suggests that the leader (possibly the founder) of a Jewish sect called "The Way" having a title of Christus may have been severely punished under the rule of Pilot.
There is no mention of crucification. No identity (name, age, place of birth etc) was ascribed to the sect leader. No indication as to the time of year when the punishment was implemented. The details offered could be consistent with the Christian story but were so vague that they could potentially be applied to multiple people. The reliability of this information which was presented, as a side note, is rather weak despite the reputation of the author (Tacitus) as a reputed Roman historian because the reliability of his source/s cannot be determined.
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12-03-2015, 07:28 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
Not sure if this has been posted yet. Maybe you can pull something from it?

http://www.atheismresource.com/2010/wtf-...se-it-isnt

Jesus is basically Hercules whom was a virgin birth from a divine father,

Horus and a bunch of others.


My Youtube channel if anyone is interested.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEkRdbq...rLEz-0jEHQ
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12-03-2015, 07:46 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 07:16 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 06:32 PM)Free Wrote:  There is nothing more available to validate. What we have is all that has come down to us. All we know, according to Tacitus, is that he was accessing previously published Roman histories for his works.

My whole point here was to demonstrate that the claim by many that Tacitus was using Christian sources for his works is completely unsupported, and is actually refuted by the actual evidence within Tacitus' work itself.

Whether or not those previous Roman histories used a Christian source is unknown, but just because it is unknown provides no evidence at all that they did.
So then, if we were to apply the Historical Method and add to that some common sense we would have to say that the account by Tacitus made 51 years after the alleged event and based on lost Roman documents/accounts of unknown time and unknown author origin suggests that the leader (possibly the founder) of a Jewish sect called "The Way" having a title of Christus may have been severely punished under the rule of Pilot.

There is no mention of crucifixion.

The "extreme penalty" mentioned by Tacitus refers directly to crucifixion. Crucifixion was the most extreme penalty in 1st Century Roman law.

The Roman statesman Cicero called it "the most cruel and disgusting penalty" (Verrem 2:5.165) and "the most extreme penalty" (Verrem 2:5.168).

This is commonly known among historians. Investigate further at your leisure.

Quote: No identity (name, age, place of birth etc) was ascribed to the sect leader.

It's not subscribed to 99% of anyone else mentioned either. You have no case here.

Quote:No indication as to the time of year when the punishment was implemented.

That does not matter.

Quote: The details offered could be consistent with the Christian story but were so vague that they could potentially be applied to multiple people.

Sure, now find multiple people whom were called Christ and whom the Christians got their name from. Go ahead, I'll cheer you on. Smile

Quote: The reliability of this information which was presented, as a side note, is rather weak despite the reputation of the author (Tacitus) as a reputed Roman historian because the reliability of his source/s cannot be determined.

You have no good reason to doubt the reliability of Tacitus sources. Since you have no evidence whatsoever to warrant doubt, why do you assert it's an issue?

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12-03-2015, 08:07 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 06:07 PM)Free Wrote:  I connect that dots by demonstrating that Tacitus used Roman historical sources for his retelling of the Great Fires of Rome, which has the part regarding Christ and the Christians within that particular body of text.

Right but he mentions sources when dealing with the origin of the fire. However I see no reason to conclude, even though he gives a description of Christians in the section on the fire, that his source for the fire (the only thing to which he mentions previous authorship) contains ANY account of the Crucifixion of Christ which was a separate event, in another part of the Empire, over 60+ years removed. Just because the mention to Christ is in a section with sources does not mean that the sources attest to that particular event (crucifixion), which again was an event unrelated to the fire.

I see him (kinda) citing a Roman source for the fire, I see no mention of a source Roman or otherwise for the crucifixion. I mean even if the authors who wrote of the fire wrote of the crucifixion (which again I see no evidence to support that opinion) they were still what? 60 years removed from the event? At best case Tacitus' reference to Christ being crucified is third hand, at best.

Also we really do need to know who his source is when it comes to anything Jesus related. He could absolutely be using a Roman source and that source could have based his writings on hearsay or christian testimony or been an out and out fabrication. Hell he may have no source at all for the Christ reference and simply be using commonly known information on what they believe which he would have most certainly known at the time of his writing. His source could be a guy who took a story from believers and wrote it down.
While the passage it's self may be genuine we have no idea at all if the information about Christ in the passage is accurate.


I absolutely agree he used Roman historical sources for his retelling of The Great Fire but I do NOT see any evidence that he used, listed, or named, any Roman historical sources for the crucifixion event itself.

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12-03-2015, 08:20 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 07:46 PM)Free Wrote:  You have no good reason to doubt the reliability of Tacitus sources.

I'm sorry but that is just wrong. It's entirely justified to doubt anonymous, no longer extant, unfalsifiable accounts to which we have no evidence they are contemporary of the event they claim to detail or a 3, 4, or 16th hand written retelling of an oral story about what some people believe.

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12-03-2015, 09:02 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 08:07 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 06:07 PM)Free Wrote:  I connect that dots by demonstrating that Tacitus used Roman historical sources for his retelling of the Great Fires of Rome, which has the part regarding Christ and the Christians within that particular body of text.

Right but he mentions sources when dealing with the origin of the fire. However I see no reason to conclude, even though he gives a description of Christians in the section on the fire, that his source for the fire (the only thing to which he mentions previous authorship) contains ANY account of the Crucifixion of Christ which was a separate event, in another part of the Empire, over 60+ years removed. Just because the mention to Christ is in a section with sources does not mean that the sources attest to that particular event (crucifixion), which again was an event unrelated to the fire.

Actually Tacitus ties it all together quite nicely. He explains that Nero was blaming the Christians for the fire in an effort to deflect suspicions from himself. Tacitus then explains who the Christians were- a class hated for their abominations- and then for the glory of Roman history, he then explains that this hated class of Christians got their name from Christus, who was gloriously executed by the Romans in Judea.

The obvious elephant in the room here is that Tacitus tells us that Nero was blaming the Christians for the fire, and Tacitus tells us that he is getting this information about Nero from previous Roman historians.

The story is about Nero, and Tacitus is getting this story about Nero blaming the Christians from previous Roman histories.

Do you seriously think that Tacitus would be getting this story about Nero blaming the Christians from any other source other than a Roman source?

This doesn't require much brain power to process.

Quote:I see him (kinda) citing a Roman source for the fire, I see no mention of a source Roman or otherwise for the crucifixion. I mean even if the authors who wrote of the fire wrote of the crucifixion (which again I see no evidence to support that opinion) they were still what? 60 years removed from the event? At best case Tacitus' reference to Christ being crucified is third hand, at best.

Since he's writing Roman history, has been demonstrated as using Roman sources, positively identifies Pontius Pilate by name as the Roman official who executed Christ, do you really think his sources are anything but Roman?

If he got his info from the Christians, the name "Jesus" would be all over the text. But because he used Christ- a title that carries the obvious connotation of King- instead of a name, he is demonstrating that the Romans executed the king of the class of Christians that were hated by the Roman population.

Read the text. He absolutely denigrates the Christians, and there is no way he would get this denigration from Christians, nor anyone else, except the Romans. I mean just the language used itself is evidence enough that he didn't get this info from any Christian.

[quote]Also we really do need to know who his source is when it comes to anything Jesus related.

The best argument demonstrates that he used Roman sources. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that he used any other sources other than Roman.

This doesn't need to be 100% conclusive to be the best argument, because nothing in ancient history can ever be 100% conclusive. We don't need to break down his history line by line and question every last sentence. That's when desperation to remain doubtful takes over, and makes a mockery of honest skepticism.

It's just not necessary.

Quote:He could absolutely be using a Roman source and that source could have based his writings on hearsay or christian testimony or been an out and out fabrication.

In order for these assertions and speculation to be valid, you must demonstrate the possibility by finding examples of his doing anything similar to this any where else.

It's real easy to claim that something is possible, but these claims are empty claims until it can be demonstrated how it is even possible, let alone probable.

So therefore, to qualify the possibility, evidence please.

(This is rhetorical; don't go looking, there isn't any evidence.)

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12-03-2015, 09:06 PM
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 08:20 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 07:46 PM)Free Wrote:  You have no good reason to doubt the reliability of Tacitus sources.

I'm sorry but that is just wrong. It's entirely justified to doubt anonymous, no longer extant, unfalsifiable accounts to which we have no evidence they are contemporary of the event they claim to detail or a 3, 4, or 16th hand written retelling of an oral story about what some people believe.

Ummm since Tacitus is writing within say 50 years of the event, Tacitis himself was a contemporary of the event.

Just saying ...

Consider

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12-03-2015, 09:56 PM (This post was last modified: 12-03-2015 10:13 PM by WhiskeyDebates.)
RE: Debating the historical Jesus
(12-03-2015 09:06 PM)Free Wrote:  
(12-03-2015 08:20 PM)WhiskeyDebates Wrote:  I'm sorry but that is just wrong. It's entirely justified to doubt anonymous, no longer extant, unfalsifiable accounts to which we have no evidence they are contemporary of the event they claim to detail or a 3, 4, or 16th hand written retelling of an oral story about what some people believe.

Ummm since Tacitus is writing within say 50 years of the event, Tacitis himself was a contemporary of the event.

Just saying ...

Consider
Tacitus was not alive during the alleged life and death of Jesus having been born long after his supposed death, and writing about the event even longer still. He is not a first hand account of the crucifixion so I hardly consider him a contemporary of Jesus. We have no idea if his source for the validity of the crucifixion was a contemporary of Jesus while he was allegedly alive or died to the point he can give accurate testimony about the event or if Tacitus' source is recording hearsay, claims by people of faith, or a 3, 4, or 16th written retelling of an oral story.

You seem to have missed what my criticism was, no offense intended: I'm not debating that he used Roman sources, I'm saying we have ZERO way of knowing if what his sources say (even if they are Roman) is based on fact, evidence, and an actual event or just hearsay and stories because they are anonymous, unfalsifiable, and no longer exist.

Doubt is absolutely justifiable because I know absolutely nothing about them at all other then that they might, and probably are, Roman. That is the WHOLE list of what we know about his sources.

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