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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:31 am 
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Hi I am new here but have been reading Acharya for a couple of years.
I love many of the authors that she has sited, thanks Acharya.

I came across this site ("Edit" not dead scrolls or gnosticism)
This is the site'
http://www.mystae.com/index.html
I was wondering what peoples thought's are regarding the "statements made" from this section and what Acharya thought as well.



Jesus Outside the New Testament
Roman Sources
(1) Tombs, Ordinances and Graffiti

Tomb Inscriptions - late 30's C.E.?
"Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit ['the Lord wept'] catacombs outside Jerusalem bear inscriptions like, 'Jesus, have mercy', and 'Jesus, remember me in the resurrection', inscriptions thought to date from the 40's or late 30's, and indicating the presence in Jerusalem from a fairly early date of a community that believed in resurrection and in the power of someone named Jesus to see the believer safely through death and beyond."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus

The tombs were discovered during the rebuilding of a Franciscan chapel and excavated from 1953 to 1955.

"A tomb of the Late Bronze period gave finds which are important for the civilization of Jerusalem just at the time of its conquest by the Hebrews. A necropolis used from 136 BC to 300 AD produced a great amount of material. The necropolis had two periods each with different styles and cultures. The first, the earlier is characterized by Kokhim (oven-shaped) tombs running from 185 BC, while the second is characterized by tombs with an arcosolium belonging to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. With the Kokhim tombs are closely connected the sarcophagus and the ossuary; the first cut in hard stone (mizzi) follow the motifs of classical art, both in structure and subject, in close artistic relation with the Tombs of the kings and 'Herod's' of the 1 cent. AD; the ossuaries, on the other hand in soft stone (kacooley) follow a local trade technique with architectonic and floral motifs.
"On the ossuaries were found many more or less symbol signs (crosses, tau, Constantinian monograms) and 43 inscriptions (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) incised or traced with charcoal. Of interest is the recurrence of names common in the New Testament, as Mary, Martha, Philo the Cyrene, Matthew, Joseph, Jesus."
- Dominus Flevit the site where "The Lord Wept"

Caesar's Decree - c. 50 C.E.
"A stone slab found in Nazareth, of height 0.61m is inscribed (in Greek) with a decree demanding the death penalty for anyone who broke the seals on a tomb or stole a dead body." (Attributed date c. 50 C.E.)
- Summarized extract - IVP Three Volume Bible Dictionary (under section for Nazareth)

"It is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity for those who have made them for the cult of their ancestors, or children, or members of their house. If, however, any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried, or has maliciously transferred them to other places in order to wrong them, or has displaced the sealing or other stones, against such a one I order that a trial be instituted, as in respect of the gods, so in regard to the cult of mortals. For it shall be much more obligatory to honour the buried. Let it be absolutely forbidden for anyone to disturb them. In the case of contravention I desire that the offender be sentenced to capital punishment on charge of violation of sepulture."
- Ordinance of Caesar

"The Emperor threatens the death penalty for interference with, or the removal of bodies from, tombs, may belong to any date from Augustus to Claudius."
- Summarized extract - Peakes Commentary of the Bible
(Various sections found from index under Claudius' expulsion of Jews from Rome and Tombs, sanctity of.)

The original owner of the stone left only a short note about its origins when he donated it to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris - "Marble slab sent from Nazareth in 1878."

"Nazareth may be the place, but the finder could have carried it there from somewhere else, a few days' donkey journey away, wanting to sell it to Christian pilgrims. Since the nature of the connection with Nazareth is uncertain, no argument linking the stone with the early Christians can rely on its. Unless the stone was set up on Judaea and moved northwards later, Pontius Pilate cannot have had it made, because Galilee was in the kingdom of Herod Antipas, where Pilate had no power. Indeed, even a decree of Caesar would hardly be displayed in Galilee until after Antipas' reign ended in AD 44. That means it is possible that Claudius made the decree."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus

"Why would a Caesar have any cause to take such a specific interest in this part of the Empire and in a matter which, apparently, not an issue of Roman state? Surely this would seem to be better resolved by local Government and not one to demand the intervention of the Emperor. However, if the implications of any such alleged activity had affected Rome that would make it more understandable."
- Mark Carlin

Chrestus, the Instigator - 50 C.E.
"Expulsion of Jews from Rome reported by Suetonius (Claud. 25.) and Orosius (Hist. VII, vi, 15) . Orosius puts this in Claudius' ninth year, 25th Jan. AD 49 - 24th Jan. AD 50. The later claiming to have extracted the date from Josephus, however, our copies of Josephus do not contain such an entry. Claudius had expelled from Rome the Jews who were 'incessantly causing tumults with Chrestus as the instigator'."
- Summarized extract - Peakes Commentary of the Bible:

"Since the Jews were constantly causing disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome."
- Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars - Claudius 5.25.4 (c. 120 CE)

"The Emperor Claudius, around the year 49-50, expelled the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2) because (says Suetonius) they were fomenting disorder at the instigation of one Chrestos. It seems plausible that there were disputes in Rome between Jews who believed that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb because he had risen, and Jews who believed that it had been stolen. When these disputes caused public disorder, Claudius (or his deputy) made inquiries, expelled both sides from the city (after the manner of a parent who, when two children are fighting over a toy, takes it away from both of them for the time being), and then ordered a stern decree against grave-robbing to be promulgated at the places where the disturbance had begun. Presumably these would include at least (1) Jerusalem, where the alleged corpse-snatching had taken place, and (2) Nazareth, the home town of the alleged corpse."
- James Kiefer

"The report that Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in A.D. 41 because they were, 'at the instigation of Chrestus, repeatedly rioting,' probably refers to some local troublemaker."
- Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? (1978) p. 66

"A short note on the name 'Chrestus': From the examination of the Greek for Chrestus and Christos I have observed that the former is a common slave name which has the basic meaning of 'good' and the latter derived from the rare Greek word (rare or just closest?) 'to anoint' and thus Christos is the best match for the Aramaic word 'messiah' - which also, essentially means 'anointed one' with the Jewish associations of king, etc. What may be important is that while both names basically mean something different from each other they are, I have read, phonetically the same."
- Mark Carlin

"'Chrestus' is the correct Latin form of a very common Greek name and is not a misspelling, but some scholars believe that Seutonius meant to use 'Christos' instead. One problem with this (if indeed Seutonius was referring to Christ) is that the context of the passage suggests that someone named Chrestus was living in Rome at the time, a century after Jesus. Kee and Wells get around this problem by assuming that Seutonius was referring to Christian preachers who were announcing that the Messiah in Jesus was coming. Kee (Jesus in History) also adds that Suetonius may have had his dates confused and was instead referring to the actual disturbances that occurred during the reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE). Wells (The Jesus of the Early Christians) is not as generous and sticks closer to the known in that 'Chrestus' was probably an agitator who emerged from the Roman ghetto proclaiming himself as the Messiah. Messianic fervor ran high during the time of the fall of Jerusalem (70 CE) and this is a highly likely explanation. In any case, it is very difficult to construe from Suetonius anything that even remotely speaks to the historicity of Jesus."
- James Still, "Biblical and Extrabiblical Sources for Jesus"

"Could it be that the expulsion of the "Jews" (which might include any associated bickering faction) was as a result of a dispute in which one party had claimed that a grave had been robbed? In my mind, both Aquina and Priscilla were Christian before they were expelled from Rome (though I know this is debated) and migrated to Corinth (Acts). Also, when Paul first visited Rome he was greeted by the 'brethren' (in Acts) which again leads me to the opinion that Rome had Christians from a very early date.
"If there is connection between Suetonius' report and the archaeological find in Galilee (and I realize that this is speculative) it raises a distinct possibility that the early critics of Christianity held the view that the Christian claim to a resurrection was a false claim and that the earlier movement had themselves removed the body of the dead Jesus. Also, that the charge was so strongly held and expressed that a tumulus of such magnitude arose which led Caesar Claudius to expel the lot of them rather than risk riots in the streets of Rome."
- Mark Carlin

Thallus' Eclipse - 52 C.E.
A "passage on Jesus was contained in Thallus' work on the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to 52 A.D. Thallus noted that darkness fell on the land at the time of the crucifixion. He wrote that such a phenomenon was caused by an eclipse."
- Harry V. Martin. "Proving the Historic Jesus"

According to McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, "Thallus, a Samaritan-born historian mentioned Christ in 52 C.E. However his works are no longer extant, so we have only citations of it by others...Julius Africanus, a Christian writing about 221, says, talking about the darkness that fell when Christ was crucified, 'Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun -- unreasonably, as it seems to me.' (It is unreasonable because the crucifixion was at Passover, which is based on the lunar calendar and requires a full moon. When there's a full moon, the moon is at the opposite side of the earth from where it has to be for an eclipse.)".
"Phelgon, another first-century historian, is also quoted by Africanus as saying 'during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon'. Phelgon's comment (presumably the same one) is also referred to by Philopon."
- James Kiefer

Mara's Letter - c. 73 C.E.

"What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."
- Mara bar Serapion, letter to his son from prison

According to F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (p. 114), the Mara bar Serapion letter was " written some time later than A. D. 73, but how much later we cannot be sure." Written in Syriac, this letter may actually have originated in the 2nd or 3rd century C.E. The "wise king" is not identified by Mara bar Serapion and may have lived in the same time frame as Socrates and Pythagoras - half a millenium earlier than Jesus.

"The Bible itself recorded the political assassinations of Jewish royalty that occurred close enough to Nebuchadnezzar's capture of Jerusalem [586 B.C.E.] to consider the conquest of either Israel or Judea as an event that had happened 'just after' the murder of one of these kings. Josiah's father, King Amon, for example, was assassinated less than 50 years before Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:23)."
- Farrell Till, "The 'Testimony' of Mara Bar-Serapion"


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:36 am 
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Interesting. I don't have time to go through all of this one point at a time. The first thing jumps out at me as fraudulent:

Quote:
Tomb Inscriptions - late 30's C.E.?
"Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit ['the Lord wept'] catacombs outside Jerusalem bear inscriptions like, 'Jesus, have mercy', and 'Jesus, remember me in the resurrection', inscriptions thought to date from the 40's or late 30's, and indicating the presence in Jerusalem from a fairly early date of a community that believed in resurrection and in the power of someone named Jesus to see the believer safely through death and beyond."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus


I've never heard of such a thing. I'd need to see all of the documentation on this one. "Remember me in the resurrection?" That sounds completely PHONY.

Much of the rest of it is not really relevant, such as tombs with the names of characters in the Bible. Well, perhaps they were used in the Bible because they were popular. A stone slab from the Nazareth necropolis - what kind of evidence is that? None. All it shows is that Nazareth was indeed a necropolis - not a town where people lived - and that people were stealing bodies.

The Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius fallacies I have addressed in detail. And so on. Nothing earthshattering here, except the quote above, which I highly question. I would not, however, be surprised if some form of "Jesus" or "Joshua" or IES or IASIOS, etc., were found in writing preceding the Christian era. One of the Christ myth theses is that there was a Joshua and IES cult prior to the Christian era.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:00 am 
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Gullible tourism has always been profitable.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 11:12 am 
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Acharya wrote:
Interesting. I don't have time to go through all of this one point at a time. The first thing jumps out at me as fraudulent:



Quote:
Tomb Inscriptions - late 30's C.E.?
"Several of the tombs in the Dominus Flevit ['the Lord wept'] catacombs outside Jerusalem bear inscriptions like, 'Jesus, have mercy', and 'Jesus, remember me in the resurrection', inscriptions thought to date from the 40's or late 30's, and indicating the presence in Jerusalem from a fairly early date of a community that believed in resurrection and in the power of someone named Jesus to see the believer safely through death and beyond."
- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus


I've never heard of such a thing. I'd need to see all of the documentation on this one. "Remember me in the resurrection?" That sounds completely PHONY.

Much of the rest of it is not really relevant, such as tombs with the names of characters in the Bible. Well, perhaps they were used in the Bible because they were popular. A stone slab from the Nazareth necropolis - what kind of evidence is that? None. All it shows is that Nazareth was indeed a necropolis - not a town where people lived - and that people were stealing bodies.

The Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius fallacies I have addressed in detail. And so on. Nothing earthshattering here, except the quote above, which I highly question. I would not, however, be surprised if some form of "Jesus" or "Joshua" or IES or IASIOS, etc., were found in writing preceding the Christian era. One of the Christ myth theses is that there was a Joshua and IES cult prior to the Christian era.



Hello Acharya.

Do you think it is possible that the early church turned a "Teacher of Righteousness" into a "Deity" that is the "Jesus character" we know today?

Edit;

I read some other posts in which you deal with "What If" and I get your point.

I think (just my opinion) that what the religious establishment has done with the Jesus Character I.E. "Exclusivism" is what sets the "ideology" apart from all other ideologys, as does Islam.
Christianity has a "Santa" that they "wish" to hold onto. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you don't use your "santa" as a "My Gods better than your god" kind of ideology to usurp over others.

Whoever, by whatsoever means approaches me, I accept him for his salvation... All creatures great and small - I am equal to all; I hate none, nor have I any favorites.
The Bhagavadgita

I found this interesting:

Teacher of Righteousness.
"Brownlee (130) asserts that the Teacher of Righteousness arose shortly after the Maccabaeans gained victory according to the following scenario: John Hyrcannus 135-105 BC turned from the devout hasidim (holy ones) to the Sadducees. When he was rebuked by the Teacher, he persecuted the Teacher and inveigled the Pharisees into supporting him. His son Alexander Jannaeus 103-76 BC persecuted the Teacher who fled to the region of Damascus 'They drove me from my land like a bird from its nest; and all my neighbors and friends are driven far from me'."
- Chris King, "The Apocalyptic Tradition"

"In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness."
- Jeremiah 23:6

"The Essene [Yahad] founder called himself the Righteous Rabbi, a title close enough to Jeremiah's Yahweh's Righteousness to indicate that he saw himself as the messiah of Jeremiah's prophecy [c. 250?]. His followers accepted him as such and did not abandon that belief even after his execution in 103 B.C.E. [forty years after the death of Jonathan Maccabaeus] Rather than acknowledge that their messiah was totally and permanently dead, the Essenes [Yahad] maintained for the 170 more years that they remained in existence that their Righteous Rabbi would fulfill his messianic function of deposing the Hasmoneans (or, after 63 B.C.E., driving out the Romans) and making himself king of Judah, at the time of his 'Second Coming'."
- William Harwood, Mythologies Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus

Teacher of Righteousness
"...The Teacher of Righteousness began his ministry late in the second or early in the first century B.C.E., perhaps during the reign of Alexander [Jannaeus]. After the Pharisees came to power under Salome, they persecuted the Teacher's group, which was sympathetic to the Sadducean establishment, eventually hounding the Teacher into exile. When Hyrcanus II became king, he renewed his efforts to destroy the Teacher and his group."
- Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (1996) p. 32


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:10 pm 
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the trouble with there being a 'teacher of rightoeusness' IMO, is that once you have deconstructed the Jesus story back to where all the stories and myths come from, there is nothing at all left that needs explaining. The Jesus that appears in the Gospels needs no other explanation than the astrotheology and the pillaging of stories from its contemporary religions.

Now there are other Jesus' that are known to history around about the same time - and indeed these have been recorded, and dredged over, and no-one is denying that some of these other Jesus' did some things that got them noticed, some may have even had small bands of followers - One of them even got himself crucified.

But these are just people who had the common name of Jesus and have nothing to do with and do not exist in the Bible as the story of Jesus.

If you really had tortured logic over it, you might be able to say that yes indeed, there arose a 'Jesus' who did some good things and had some followers that sparked off the Jesus movement - they valued his teachings so much (sarcasm), that they completely made up his story and wisdom by rewriting his whole life by pillaging the astrology and wisdom of the religions and people they were rebelling against. It just doesn't fit.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:36 pm 
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marcUK wrote:
the trouble with there being a 'teacher of rightoeusness' IMO, is that once you have deconstructed the Jesus story back to where all the stories and myths come from, there is nothing at all left that needs explaining. The Jesus that appears in the Gospels needs no other explanation than the astrotheology and the pillaging of stories from its contemporary religions.

Now there are other Jesus' that are known to history around about the same time - and indeed these have been recorded, and dredged over, and no-one is denying that some of these other Jesus' did some things that got them noticed, some may have even had small bands of followers - One of them even got himself crucified.

But these are just people who had the common name of Jesus and have nothing to do with and do not exist in the Bible as the story of Jesus.

If you really had tortured logic over it, you might be able to say that yes indeed, there arose a 'Jesus' who did some good things and had some followers that sparked off the Jesus movement - they valued his teachings so much (sarcasm), that they completely made up his story and wisdom by rewriting his whole life by pillaging the astrology and wisdom of the religions and people they were rebelling against. It just doesn't fit.


Thanks for the reply;

I find it interesting that a Astrotheological ideology manifested itself to be a "Physical Reality" in the person of Jesus.

It further amazes me that Constantine who "knew about this "Astrotheology" made it into a state religion for political purposes that is at the top of it's game here in America.

I think that the reason why people "Hold on" to the idea of Jesus, is for personal sentimental reasons, and the fact that death comes to us all eventually, and mankind as a whole has a hard time (given the complexity of our brains) to deal with the "unknown," and so man looks to something else to replace the fear that grows up as we grow up and see others die and wonder where they have gone.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:35 pm 
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I think most ordinary people need something simple and concrete to believe in to make sense of the world. If you start looking at the science of quantum physics and astromomy everything seems illogical and difficult to comprehend........and the immensity is overwhelming.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:15 am 
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santamarana wrote:

Thanks for the reply;

I find it interesting that a Astrotheological ideology manifested itself to be a "Physical Reality" in the person of Jesus.


not really sure what you mean here, ???

Quote:
It further amazes me that Constantine who "knew about this "Astrotheology" made it into a state religion for political purposes that is at the top of it's game here in America.


Constantine on his death bed, too weak to resist, had his arms twisted by the psychotics of Christianity - it wasn't a pro-active decision of his.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:20 am 
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marcUK wrote:
santamarana wrote:

Thanks for the reply;

I find it interesting that a Astrotheological ideology manifested itself to be a "Physical Reality" in the person of Jesus.


not really sure what you mean here, ???

Quote:
It further amazes me that Constantine who "knew about this "Astrotheology" made it into a state religion for political purposes that is at the top of it's game here in America.


Constantine on his death bed, too weak to resist, had his arms twisted by the psychotics of Christianity - it wasn't a pro-active decision of his.



Quote:
not really sure what you mean here, ???


I meant how people took Astrology and turned it into a Living history known as Jesus.


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santamarana wrote:
I meant how people took Astrology and turned it into a Living history known as Jesus.


FYI, it had been done many, many times with numerous gods and goddesses around the globe. The priesthood that created Jesus Christ was building on a long line of priestcraft - they did a darned good job, considering how much fanaticism this myth has created. But, they made enough mistakes - being fallible humans - that we can dissect it.

I did a somewhat short-but-sweet job on it, I believe, in my new ebook Who Was Jesus?[/url]

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FYI, I have been pouring over all these purported proofs for the hard-copy edition of my book Who Was Jesus? They can readily be dispensed with and serve merely to demonstrate the desperate state of finding anything that may verify biblical claims.

Stay tuned...

An October release is planned.

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Thallus and Carrier

Professor B. Jobjorn Boman has sent me his paper addressing Richard Carrier's discussion of the ancient writer Thallus, whose purported mention of an "eclipse" has been held up by Christian apologists as "proof" of Christ's crucifixion, during which the sun was purported to have gone dark. Hence, Jesus existed!

Some may recall Boman reviewed my article on the "Chrestos" of Suetonius, in which his work was cited. (See also "Chresto in the Suetonius Manuscript Tradition.")

In his new article, Boman analyzes whether or not Carrier is correct in his statement concerning Thallus being "quoted" by early Church father Eusebius, in Carrier's article "Thallus and The Darkness at Christ's Death."

Boman's article is entitled:

"Comments on Carrier: Is Thallus Actually Quoted by Eusebius?" (Liber Annuus 62 (2012))

Relevant excerpts include:

Quote:
According to an excerpt in George Syncellus’ 9th century Chronograhpy regarding the earthquake and the darkness that the Synoptic Gospels state befell the world during Jesus’ crucifixion, the Christian historian Julius Africanus is said to have claimed that a historian named “Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun” in the third book of his Histories (a work not extant). In his article “Thallus and the Darkness at Christ’s Death”, Richard Carrier argues, amongst other things, that Thallus was actually quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, and thus that modern scholarship possesses the exact words of Thallus – words which do not contain any reference to Jesus Christ or Christianity. Hence, modern authors should not include Thallus among the ancient testimonia for the historical Jesus, Carrier concludes. Both Carrier’s 2012 article and his earlier article “Thallus: An Analysis” (1999)3 should be read by the readers of this article.

Quote:
If Carrier is wrong, and Eusebius is not quoting Thallus, but merely abbreviating Phlegon, what would the implications of this be? Carrier’s main chain of argument seems to be that 1) if Thallus mentioned an eclipse during the time of the crucifixion, and 2) Eusebius had read this account, which he had, as he used Thallus’ History as a source, and since 3) Eusebius mentioned other sources on the darkness, Eusebius must have included the known source Thallus among the pagan authors attesting to the darkness. He certainly would have referenced Thallus, if he had mentioned the eclipse, Carrier asserts. My (not too certain, I admit) suggestion is this: Eusebius did not mention Thallus in this context, because Thallus did not attest to any eclipse during the time of Jesus’ passion.

The two discussed this subject at Carrier's blog:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/arc ... ment-34461 and below.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Thallus and Phlegon

I would just like to chime in here and expound on this subject a little bit more, If I may, with the words of Farell Till from his Article The Absence of Evidence:

Quote:
A second inerrantist "solution" to the silence of contemporary records in this matter [the 3 hr. darkness] is to claim that secular records of the darkness were made but just didn't survive. In support of this claim, they cite surviving fragments of the writings of Julius Africanus, a 3rd-century AD Christian writer, who allegedly quoted first century writers who witnessed such an event and wrote about it. The alleged reference to the darkness at midday is in fragment 18 of Africanus's History.

"As to his works severally, and his cures effected upon body and soul, and the mysteries of his doctrine, and the resurrection from the dead, these have been most authoritatively set forth by his disciples and apostles before us. On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the passover but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however let it carry the majority with it and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth-manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer."

We see in this quotation an example of how inerrantists will play both sides of the street. On the one hand, they will try to explain this problem by claiming that the darkness was only regional and therefore unobservable in other parts of the hemisphere, but then they will quote Africanus as proof that the darkness had been noticed by some contemporaries. Africanus, however, said that this was a "most fearful darkness" that "pressed on the whole world," and that obviously is not the description of just a regional darkness. Inerrantists can't have it both ways. They can't argue that this was only a regional darkness and then cross to the other side of the street and try to prove the historicity of this event by quoting a writer who thought it was a universal darkness.

The major weakness in this attempt to find contemporary confirmation of the midday darkness, however, is that Africanus did not actually quote his sources. He simply said that Thallus and Phlegon said thus and so. Look carefully at what Africanus said in reference to the "testimony" of Thallus: "This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun." Africanus had just claimed that there had been a "most fearful darkness" that had covered the whole world then immediately, without quoting what Thallus had actually said, Africanus claimed that Thallus had referred to "this darkness" in his third book and called it "an eclipse of the sun," but without the actual words of Thallus to evaluate, we cannot know if he had recorded that a period of darkness, which he had called an "eclipse," had occurred during a crucifixion or if he had simply stated that there had been an eclipse at a time that an early Christian apologist could conveniently construe to be a reference to the same period of darkness mentioned in the synoptic gospels. In the source that Africanus referred to, did Thallus mention Jesus or a crucifixion? We don't know, because Africanus did not quote what Thallus said. Did Thallus say that this "eclipse" had lasted for three hours? We don't know, because Africanus did not quote what Thallus said. In other words, we know what Africanus said that Thallus said, but we don't know if Thallus actually said what Africanus said that he said. This much ballyhooed testimony of Thallus, then, is nothing more than hearsay evidence that has been filtered through an early Christian apologist, who almost two centuries after the time of Thallus was desperately looking for contemporary testimony to the three hours of midday darkness alleged in the synoptic gospels.

The same problem is in the reference that Africanus made to Phlegon, who was not even a contemporary of the event in question. Inerrantists tout Phlegon as a "first- century historian," but he was born in the latter half of the first century, and the work referred to by Africanus was written about AD 140. That was more than a century after the alleged darkness had occurred, so Phlegon cannot be considered a contemporary witness to it. Africanus claimed that Phlegon said that "in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth" and went on to say that this eclipse was "manifestly that one of which we speak," but was it really the same darkness that Africanus was writing about? He didn't quote what Phlegon had written. He merely said that Phlegon had said that there was an eclipse from the sixth hour to the ninth in the time of Tiberius Caesar, but we don't have the actual text from Phlegon's history to confirm that he had said that there was an "eclipse" of three hour's duration. That Phlegon probably did not say that the darkness from the eclipse had lasted three hours is evident from other attempts by early Christian writers to make Phlegon's reference to an eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar into historical proof that a three-hour darkness had fallen over the world during the crucifixion. Philopon, a 6th-century historian, also referred to Phlegon's alleged description of an eclipse at the time of the crucifixion, but what Philopon did not say that Phlegon said is sufficient to cast suspicion on the accuracy of Africanus's account of what Phlegon had allegedly written.

"Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Christ Jesus Christ and no other [eclipse] it is clear that he did not know from his sources about any eclipse in previous times (De opif. mund. II 21)."

Notice that Philopon did not say, as Africanus did, that Phlegon had said that the eclipse had lasted from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. Philopon simply said that Phlegon had "mentioned the eclipse," but as crucial as the length of the eclipse would have been to corroborating the gospel accounts of the darkness, how likely is it that Philopon would have omitted this bit of information if Phlegon had actually included it in his account?

What is more likely is that Phlegon mentioned an eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar without specifying its duration and then early Christian apologists later tried to distort this into a reference to the darkness that the synoptic gospels claimed happened at the time of the crucifixion. That an eclipse happened on November 24, AD 29, which would have been during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, is known, but we do not have any records that indicate this was an eclipse of such phenomenal duration as three hours. Since the length of eclipses is measured in minutes rather than hours, if a prolonged darkness of three hours at midday had happened, then Phlegon would surely have mentioned its abnormal duration, and if Phlegon had specified that the "eclipse" had lasted three hours, then any apologist later citing him as a source of evidence would just as surely have quoted the exact language where Phlegon had said the darkness lasted three hours. That Philopon didn't mention this in citing Phlegon strongly indicates that Phlegon said nothing about a three-hour duration of darkness.

Eusebius, a 4th-century church historian, also cited Phlegon as a witness to this alleged darkness.

"Jesus Christ underwent his passion in the 18th year of Tiberius [32 AD]. Also at that time in another Greek compendium we find an event recorded in these words: 'The sun was eclipsed, Bithynia was struck by an earthquake, and in the city of Nicaea many buildings fell.' All these things happened to occur during the Lord's passion. In fact, Phlegon, too, a distinguished reckoner of Olympiads, wrote more on these events in his 13th book, saying this: 'Now, in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [AD 32], a great eclipse of the sun occurred at the sixth hour [noon] that excelled every other before it, turning the day into such darkness of night that the stars could be seen in heaven, and the earth moved in Bithynia, toppling many buildings in the city of Nicaea' (Chronicle, vol II)."

As in the case of Philopon's reference to Phlegon, Eusebius did not say that Phlegon claimed that the "eclipse" lasted three hours. He said only that it had "occurred at the sixth hour." Furthermore, what Eusebius quoted from Phlegon located the "eclipse" and earthquake in Bithynia, which was on the southern shore of the Black Sea about 600 miles northwest of Jerusalem, so the earthquake that Phlegon referred to would not have been the same earthquake that Matthew claimed struck Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion with such intensity that the tombs of dead "saints" were shaken open (27:52).

There are two reasons why we can conclude this: (1) An earthquake of that intensity over such a wide geographical area would surely have received more attention in the records of the time than the scent references that Africanus, Philopon, and Eusebius had to dig to find. (2) As Eusebius quoted Phlegon, the earthquake struck Bithynia at the "sixth hour" during an eclipse, but according to Matthew, the midday darkness ended at the ninth hour, after which time the earthquake struck (27:45-46, 51).

Eclipses and earthquakes are not uncommon events, so we would expect to find references to them in ancient secular records. If, however, an earthquake and midday darkness as spectacular as those claimed by Matthew in his account of the crucifixion had actually happened, we would expect early apologists like Africanus and Origen to have had access to various secular sources that contained exact details to confirm what Matthew had claimed. Furthermore, we would expect that the early church would have spared no effort to make sure those secular records survived to provide unbiased corroboration of the extraordinary events that the synoptic writers reported in their accounts of the crucifixion. Instead, we find that early apologists had to strain to find brief secular references to eclipses and earthquakes that they could claim were the same extraordinary events that the gospel writers mentioned.

The problem that contemporary silence in the matter of this midday darkness presents to biblical apologists was effectively stated by Edward Gibbon at the end of the 15th chapter of his famous history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

"Under the reign of Tiberius, the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman Empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours. Even this miraculous event, which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history. It happened during the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence, of the prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of Nature, earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the globe. A distinct chapter of Pliny is designed for eclipses of an extraordinary nature and unusual duration but he contents himself with describing the singular defect of light which followed the murder of Caesar...."

In other words, this notable historian was stating the obvious: a phenomenon like the midday darkness alleged in the synoptic gospels would not have passed unnoticed in the secular records of that time. Furthermore, Gibbon stated in a footnote that the attempts by early Christian apologists to cite Phlegon as proof of the prolonged darkness at the time of the crucifixion had been by his time "wisely abandoned." Unfortunately, modern apologists desperate to defend biblical inerrancy have reverted to those discredited sources.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:44 pm 
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Welcome to the party, NoctisLucisCaelum!

Here's the link to the article you mentioned: The Absence of Evidence by Farrell Till, 2002

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