Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

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Ben C. Smith
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Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:48 pm

I have been finding it difficult to juggle all the argumentation available regarding Tacitus' paragraph on Nero and the Christians, so I thought I would create a thread dedicated to collecting the various evidence.

First, the passage itself. Tacitus, Annals 15.44 (translation modified slightly from that of Church and Brodribb):

Et haec quidem humanis consiliis providebantur. mox petita {a} dis piacula aditique Sibyllae libri, ex quibus supplicatum Volcano et Cereri Proserpinaeque, ac propitiata Iuno per matronas, primum in Capitolio, deinde apud proximum mare, unde hausta aqua templum et simulacrum deae perspersum est; et sellisternia ac pervigilia celebravere feminae, quibus mariti erant.

Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first in the capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women.

Sed non ope humana, non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis decedebat infamia, quin iussum incendium crederetur. ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiabilis superstitio rursum erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque. igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud proinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt. et pereuntibus addita ludibria, ut ferarum tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent aut crucibus adfixi aut flammandi atque, ubi defecisset dies, in usu{m} nocturni luminis urerentur. hortos suos ei spectaculo Nero obtulerat, et circense ludicrum edebat, habitu aurigae permixtus plebi vel curriculo insistens. unde quamquam adversus sontes et novissima exempla meritos miseratio oriebatur, tamquam non utilitate publica, sed in saevitiam unius absumerentur.

But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. 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. 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 rather to glut the cruelty of one man that they were being destroyed.

The term Christianos may have originally been Chrestianos, with an e instead of an i. Refer to The Chrestianos Issue in Tacitus Reinvestigated, by Erik Zara; I also have a photo of the page of this manuscript which contains this portion of the text:

Image

One is reminded of Tertullian, Apologeticum 3.5-6:

Christianus vero, quantum interpretatio est, de unctione deducitur. sed et cum perperam Chrestianus pronuntiatur a vobis, nam nec nominis certa est notitia penes vos, de suavitate vel benignitate compositum est. oditur itaque in hominibus innocuis etiam nomen innocuum. at enim secta oditur in nomine utique sui auctoris.

Christian [as a word] indeed, as much as it is to be interpreted, is derived from [the word] anointing. And even when it is falsely pronounced Chrestian by you, for neither is there any certain notice taken of the name among you, it is made up of sweetness or benignity. Thus even an innocent name is hated among innocent men. But indeed the sect is hated in the name of its author.

Forum user spin has summarized his arguments for the interpolation of Annals 15.44 on this forum:
spin wrote:Here are some of the problems with Annals 15.44:
  1. The testimonium taciteum is not part of the discourse that Tacitus constructed against Nero. It is tacked on with little interest in maintaining the discourse against Nero and it took no account of the previous statement that ended the discourse by focusing the reader's attention on the fact that the fire seems to have started via an order (implicitly from Nero).
    The description of the fire started in A.15.38. He analyzes the impact of the fire in A.15.41. In A.15.42 Tacitus then describes the new palace of Nero built after the fire as well as further wasteful measures he enacted, but which got nowhere. A.15.43 talks about Nero's city reconstruction measures. We finally arrive at the close of the discourse:

    "Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, where water was procured to sprinkle the temple and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

    What Tacitus has done, and he has consciously constructed his text with meticulous care, was to place the relevant post-dated facts, including the passage about the reconstruction, before this conclusion. This conclusion is masterly:

    "But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

    There is no escaping the fact that Nero is guilty of starting the fire. Tacitus doesn't need to say it. His statement has all the subtlety of the snake. Having displayed his art so well, is he going to waste that effort to insert a nugget concerning christian martyrdoms, a distraction from his condemnation of Nero?

    In the narrative, this treatment of the christians is just another human effort already covered by the fact that all human efforts didn't banish the sinister belief. Why it was not placed before the conclusion is unfathomable for the quality of the rest of the narrative. The conclusion about the conflagration being "the result of an order" is drowned by a description of christian martyrdoms and all of Tacitus's work pinning the fire on Nero has dissipated into a gorefest of christians going crispy crackly into the night.

  2. It erroneously calls Pontius Pilate a "procurator" when Tacitus is a major source for the fact that procurators weren't given control of provinces before the time of Claudius.
    A prefect was in origin a military posting. A procurator was someone appointed by the emperor to look after the finanial side of administration.

    Here's a pre-Claudian reference in the Annals to a procurator is 4.15:
    • Everything indeed was as yet in the hands of the Senate, and consequently Lucilius Capito, procurator of Asia, who was impeached by his province, was tried by them, the emperor vehemently asserting "that he had merely given the man authority over the slaves and property of the imperial establishments; that if he had taken upon himself the powers of a praetor and used military force, he had disregarded his instructions; therefore they must hear the provincials."
    You note that the procurator has no judicial powers, but merely had charge of the province's property. The province of Asia was ruled by a proconsul, eg Caius Silanus (3.66) or Junius Silanus (13.1). The role of the procurator changed with Claudius in A.12.60:
    • That same year the emperor was often heard to say that the legal decisions of his procurators ought to have the same force as if pronounced by himself.
    They didn't have judicial power in their own right because they weren't patricians. Judicial power was necessary to make legal decisions necessary as a provincial governor. Suetonius alludes to the same decision (Claud. 12):
    • [Claudius]requested of [the senate] permission for the prefect of the military tribunes and pretorian guards to attend him in the senate-house; and also that they would be pleased to bestow upon his procurators judicial authority in the provinces.
    And so started the governance of imperial provinces by procurators alluded to in Histories 5.9,
    • The kings were either dead, or reduced to insignificance, when Claudius entrusted the province of Judaea to the Roman Knights or to his own freedmen, one of whom, Antonius Felix, indulging in every kind of barbarity and lust, exercised the power of a king in the spirit of a slave.
    Procurators were not a part of the Roman cursus honorum, the sequential order of public offices, being private employees of the emperor to administer the finances of his provinces. Until the time of Claudius, they had no power to tell Romans who were in the cursus honorum what to do, so couldn't govern. Tacitus, knew the cursus honorum inside out, having risen through those ranks to become a proconsul himself. He knew when procurators gained judicial power and was well aware that prior to Claudius no procurator had the power to govern.

    Pilate was not a procurator. He was a military prefect, as indicated by an inscription found in Caesarea Maritima, in charge of a small province answerable directly to the proconsular legate in Antioch. (And bringing up Richard Carrier's opinions as to the possibility of Pilate being a procurator is pure desperation.)

    Tacitus obviously didn't write about Pilate as governor of Judaea being a procurator.

  3. It has Nero's gardens being given over to the burning of christians at night in 15.44.5, when the gardens were filled with people made homeless by the fire who were waiting while new dwellings were being built and living in temporary (flammable) structures, traumatized by the fire. (15.39.2)
  4. It is a passage about something Nero attempted in order to dispel the rumours that he'd started the fire, after Tacitus stated that none of his efforts could dispel the rumours.
    The description of the fire started in A.15.38. He analyzes the impact of the fire in A.15.41. In A.15.42 Tacitus then describes the new palace of Nero built after the fire as well as further wasteful measures he enacted, but which got nowhere. A.15.43 talks about Nero's city reconstruction measures. We finally arrive at the close of the discourse:

    "Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, where water was procured to sprinkle the temple and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

    What Tacitus has done, and he has consciously constructed his text with meticulous care, was to place the relevant post-dated facts, including the passage about the reconstruction, before this conclusion. This conclusion is masterly:

    "But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order."

    There is no escaping the fact that Nero is guilty of starting the fire. Tacitus doesn't need to say it. His statement has all the subtlety of the snake. Having done that he's going to waste that effort to insert a distraction about christian martyrdoms, isn't he? In the narrative, this treatment of the christians is just another human effort after describing the fact that all human efforts didn't banish the sinister belief.

    The conclusion about the conflagration being "the result of an order" is drowned by a description of christian martyrdoms and all of Tacitus's work pinning the fire on Nero has dissipated into a gorefest of christians going crispy crackly into the night.

  5. Tacitus, known as one of the greatest orators of his era, writes a passage that blames the christians for something, but is unclear as to what it was that they pleaded guilty of.
    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.

    A whole body of scholarly discourse has grown up around what the first christians mentioned might have pleaded guilty of. Then the writer admits he is not interested in the fire at all, stating that "an immense multitude (!) was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind." Carried away by such a rhetorical frill, the author is unaware of the general topic. (There's no need to contemplate the lack of seriousness involved in this "immense multitude.")

  6. The style of the passage wildly does not reflect Tacitus's renowned style of reserve and understatement.
    Tacitus is known for his restrain, yet in our passage we get the full gory details of torture and mayhem against the christians. Ronald H. Martin writes of Tacitus' choice not to cite the gruesome detail of Galba's head in his Histories, saying:

    "His practice elsewhere suggests that he judged it beneath the dignity of history to record such sordid events." (Tacitus and the Writing of History, U. Cal. Press, 1988, p.73.)

    It apparently wasn't beneath the dignity of history for our passage to tell us:

    "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."

    This is below the dignity of Tacitus as a historian.

  7. The passage is functionally a martyrdom story outlining how awfully the christians were treated--so badly that passers by could feel pity (this is in the city where people went to the amphitheatre to watch people being torn apart by wild animals for entertainment). Arguing that the picture was not favorable to christians, is merely an accusation that a christian interpolator was incapable of trying to fit into the style of the original writer.
    As this material doesn't fit the tenor of Tacitus's writing, the only people to whom this passage would have much interest were christians, for it is functionally a story of christian martyrdom, though a story apparently unknown to Tertullian who refers to Tacitus and christians under Nero, but not to this passage. What we find in reading it is that the christians suffer horribly for their faith and even pagan passers by are driven to feel compassion for their sufferings.

    The passage does talk of the christians as criminals, which might suggest to some that christians couldn't write such things about christians. However, such a tendentious approach to the endeavor would render the passage obviously out of place.

    The story serves no polemical value to Tacitus's efforts to inculpate Nero for the fire.

(As this material was getting lost in the passage of time on internet, I thought I would collate it here, so that it might live a little longer. I've put more out there, such as why Sulpicius Severus makes a good candidate for the seed source of the testimonium taciteum, but time and complexity does not permit further at the moment.)
He refers to Sulpicius Severus, who wrote early in century V, and his Chronicle 2.29.1-4a:

Interea abundante iam Christianorum multitudine accidit ut Roma incendio conflagraret Nerone apud Antium constituto. sed opinio omnium invidiam incendii in principem retorquebat, credebaturque imperator gloriam innovandae urbis quaesisse. neque ulla re Nero efficiebat, quin ab eo iussum incendium putaretur. igitur vertit invidiam in Christianos, actaeque in innoxios crudelissimae quaestiones; quin et novae mortes excogitatae, ut ferarum tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent, multi crucibus affixi aut flamma usti, plerique in id reservati, ut cum defecisset dies, in usum nocturni luminis urerentur. hoc initio in Christianos saeviri coeptum. post etiam datis legibus religio vetabatur, palamque edictis propositis Christianum esse non licebat. tum Paulus ac Petrus capitis damnati; quorum uni cervix gladio desecta, Petrus in crucem sublatus est.

In the meantime, the number of the Christians being now very large, it happened that Rome was destroyed by fire while Nero was stationed at Antium. But the opinion of all cast the odium of causing the fire upon the emperor, and the emperor was believed in this way to have sought for the glory of building a new city. And in fact, Nero could not by any means that he tried escape from the charge that the fire had been caused by his orders. He therefore turned the accusation against the Christians, and the most cruel tortures were accordingly inflicted upon the innocent. Nay, even new kinds of death were invented, so that, being covered in the skins of wild beasts, they perished by being devoured by dogs, while many were crucified or slain by fire, and not a few were set apart for this purpose, that, when the day came to a close, they should be consumed to serve for light during the night. It was in this way that cruelty first began to be manifested against the Christians. Afterward, too, their religion was prohibited by laws which were given, and by edicts openly set forth it was proclaimed unlawful to be a Christian. At that time Paul and Peter were condemned to capital punishment, of whom the one was beheaded with a sword, while Peter suffered crucifixion.

The following text from Sulpicius Severus is sometimes thought to derive from one of the lost books of Tacitus. Chronicle 2.30.6-7:

Fertur Titus adhibito consilio prius deliberasse an templum tanti operis everteret. etenim nonnullis videbatur aedem sacratam ultra omnia mortalia illustrem non oportere deleri, quae servata modestiae Romanae testimonium, diruta perennem crudelitatis notam praeberet. at contra alii et Titus ipse evertendum templum in primis censebant quo plenius Iudaeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur, quippe has religiones, licet contrarias sibi, iisdem auctoribus profectas. Christianos ex Iudaeis extitisse; radice sublata, stirpem facile perituram.

Titus is reported, after a council was summoned, to have deliberated beforehand whether he should destroy the temple, it being of such workmanship. For it seemed to some that a sacred edifice, illustrious beyond all mortal things, ought not to be brought down, because, if preserved, it would be a testimony to Roman moderation, but, if destroyed, would offer a perennial notice of [Roman] cruelty. But, on the other hand, Titus himself, along with others, decided that first of all the temple should be destroyed so that the religion of the Jews and of the Christians might be removed all the more, since these religions, although contrary to one another, came forth from the same authors. The Christians rose up from the Jews; if the root were taken away, the stem would easily perish.

The Latin Library has this text available online in Latin: http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/sulpiciusseverus.html.

Richard Carrier in an online article and Eric Laupot in the article to which Carrier is responding point out that Paulus Orosius, a contemporary of Severus, has a very similar passage in his History Against the Pagans 7.9.4-6 (Carrier provides the Latin and a translation, which I have slightly modified):

Quod tamen postquam in potestatem redactum opere atque antiquitate suspexit, diu deliberavit utrum tamquam incitamentum hostium incenderet, an in testimonium victoriae reservaret. sed ecclesia dei iam per totum orbem uberrime germinante, hoc tamquam effetum ac vacuum, nullique usui bono commodum, arbitrio dei auferendum fuit. itaque Titus imperator ab exercitu pronuntiatus, templum in Hierosolymis incendit.

After seizing [the temple], which he nevertheless admired because of its workmanship and antiquity, Titus deliberated for a long time whether to set on fire this inspiration of the enemy, or spare it as a testimony to his victory. But, since the church of God had already grown very fruitfully throughout the whole world, this [temple] was essentially vain and pointless, and suitable for no good use to anyone, so by the decision of God it had to be destroyed. And so, once Titus was pronounced emperor by the army, he burned the temple in Jerusalem.

It seems worthwhile to present those references to texts dealing with or potentially touching upon a persecution of Christians under Nero. I will also include texts which refer simply to the martyrdom of Peter and/or Paul, for the sake of completeness:

John 21.18-19; 1 Peter 5.13; 2 Peter 1.14; 2 Timothy 4.6-8; Acts of Peter; Acts of Paul; Ascension of Isaiah 4.1-3; 1 Clement 5.3-6; Ignatius, Ephesians 12.2, Romans 4.3; Polycarp, Philippians 9.1-2; Melito, Apology to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (fragment); Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.1; Tertullian, Scorpiace 15, Prescription Against Heretics 24.4, 36.3; (pseudo-)Hippolytus, On the Twelve 1, 13; Suetonius, Nero 16.2; Tacitus, Annals 15.44; Eusebius, History of the Church 2.25.1-8, Chronicle; Jerome, Chronicle; Sulpicius Severus, Chronicle 2.29.1-4a.

For my part, I am open to the Testimonium Taciteum being an interpolation, but am not by any means sure in either direction. I am still considering the case made on each side. Perhaps future discussions on the matter here on this forum will persuade me one way or the other. (I believe it goes without saying that, if you have additional evidence to present, you are by all means welcome to present it here.)

Ben.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:56 pm

.
A key question is whether Annals 15.44 is fully genuine and, if so, where Tacitus got his information from. I have seen commentary that it is unlike he would have got any information from official Roman records as many or most records were destroyed in the fire referenced therein, and by a bigger fire ~80s AD/CE [date?].

There has been commentary that, if genuine, it could be due to Christians repeating early Christian narratives (eg. France, RT (1986). Evidence for Jesus (Jesus Library). Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-340-38172-8.).

There is also an issue around the veracity of the passage, and issues of the provenance of Annals in toto - there is very little reference to them in Antiquity, if any at all. It seems the extant books of Annals were found in two (or maybe three) sites in the Middle Ages, and the tranche that included Book 15, found in a scriptorium-library of an Italian monastery at Monte Cassino in the 13th/14th century -

Zanobi da Strada (d. 1361) had probably discovered Annals 11–16 at Monte Cassino where he lived for some time.[6][12] The copies of Annals at Monte Cassino were probably moved to Florence by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375), a friend of da Strada[12][13][14] Regardless of whether the Monte Cassino manuscripts were moved to Florence by Boccaccio or dal Strada, Boccaccio made use of the Annals when he wrote Commento di Dante c. 1374 (before the birth of Poggio Bracciolini)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annals_(Tacitus)
The significance of the Annals finding their way into the possession of Poggio Bracciolini is that -

... he served under four successive popes (1404–1415); first as scriptor (writer of official documents), soon moving up to abbreviator, then scriptor penitentiarius, and scriptor apostolicus.

Under Martin V he reached the top rank of his office, as Apostolicus Secretarius, papal secretary. As such he functioned as a personal attendant (amanuensis) of the Pope, writing letters at his behest and dictation, with no formal registration of the briefs, but merely 'preserving' copies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poggio_Br ... later_life
In 1878 John Wilson Ross and in 1890 Polydore Hochart suggested that the whole of the Annals had been forged by Poggio Bracciolini. Ross, at least, I think, wrote a whole treatise on that proposition.


The relationship of Annals 15.44 to Chronicle 2.30.6-7 of Sulpicius Severus is interesting. As Ben alluded above, it is sometimes thought to derive from Tactius, and specifically Annals 15.44. Arthur Drews thought the reverse is possible, and even likely -

The first unequivocal mention of the Neronian persecution in connection with the burning of Rome is found in the forged correspondence of Seneca and the apostle Paul, which belongs to the fourth century. A fuller account is then given in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (died 403 A.D.), but it is mixed with the most transparent Christian legends, such as the story of the death of Simon Magus, the bishopric and sojourn of Peter at Rome, etc. The expressions of Sulpicius agree, in part, almost word for word with those of Tacitus. It is, however, very doubtful, in view of the silence of the other Christian authors who used Tacitus, if the manuscript of Tacitus which Sulpicius used contained the passage in question. We are therefore strongly disposed to suspect that the passage (Annals, xv, 44) was transferred from Sulpicius to the text of Tacitus by the hand of a monastic copyist or forger, for the greater glory of God and in order to strengthen the truth of the Christian tradition by a pagan witness.[67]

The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus by Arthur Drews; The Roman Witnesses; 2. Tacitus
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Witn ... /Section_2

67 In his De l'Authenticity des Histoires et des Annales de Tacite Hochart points out that, whereas the Life of St. Martin and the Dialogues of Sulpicius were found in many libraries, there was only one manuscript of his Chronicle, probably of the eleventh century, which is now in the Vatican. Hence the work was almost unknown throughout the Middle Ages, and no one was aware of the reference in it to a Roman persecution of the Christians. It is noteworthy that Poggio Bracciolini seems by some lucky chance to have discovered and read this manuscript (work quoted, p. 225). Cf. Nouvelles Considerations, pp. 142-72.
Jay Raskins has proposed that the Annals passage [15.4] could have initially been about Nero and one of Nero's procurators ie. Festus, (but perhaps it could have been Felix, or Florus), and was 'doctored' to be about both Tiberius & Pilate to support the core of the Christian story (It would thus essentially be a time-shift too, a la Lena Einhorn).
I proposed a number of years ago that Tacitus originally wrote that Nero sent the Procurator Porcius Festus to put down the Christians/Chrestians.

Christian interpolators, misunderstanding, changed it to Pontius Pilate, and they changed Chrestus to Christ and Nero to Tiberius.

Thus the original [might have] read:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite punishments on a class hated for their disgraceful acts, called Chrestians by the populace. Chrestus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (i.e., Crucifixion) during the reign of Nero at the hands of one of our procurators, Porcius Festus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.
https://jayraskin.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/294/
Note also that Jay correlated his argument with reference to Antiquities. 20.8.10 -
10. Upon Festus’s coming into Judea, it happened that Judea was afflicted by the robbers, while all the villages were set on fire, and plundered by them. And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous. They made use of small swords, not much different in length from the Persian acinacae, but somewhat crooked, and like the Roman sicae, [or sickles,] as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got their denomination; and with these weapons they slew a great many; for they mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said before, and easily slew those that they had a mind to slay. They also came frequently upon the villages belonging to their enemies, with their weapons, and plundered them, and set them on fire. So Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:47 pm

  • The term Christianos may have originally been Chrestianos, with an e instead of an i.
I'm pretty sure that's been confirmed.

"With ultra-violet examination of the MS the alteration was conclusively shown. It is impossible today to say who altered the letter e into an i."

J. Boman, Inpulsore Cherestro? Suetonius’ Divus Claudius 25.4 in Sources and Manuscripts, Liber Annuus 61 (2011), ISSN 0081-8933, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem 2012, p. 355, n. 2.
Tertullian wrote in Ad Nationes (circa 200 CE)
“Even when by a faulty pronunciation you call us “Chrestians” (for you are not certain about even the sound of this noted name), you in fact lisp out the sense of pleasantness and goodness.”
And also note the 3 references to Chrestians (in Greek) in Codex Sinaticus -ie. no use of Christian there

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:55 pm

MrMacSon wrote:There is also an issue around the veracity of the passage, and of Annals in toto - there is very little reference to them in Antiquity, if any at all.
Tacitus appears to have become obscure already by the middle of century III. The Res Gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus have this to say about the emperor Tacitus at 10.3:

He had Cornelius Tacitus, the writer of Augustan history, placed in all the libraries, claiming him as a relative; and in order that his works might not be lost through the carelessness of the readers he gave orders that ten copies of them should be made each year officially in the copying-establishments and put in the libraries.

There is no telling, of course, how long this policy was actually carried out.

The current titles for Tacitus' main historical works, "Annals" and "Histories", are not ancient. The Annals runs from the death of Augustus through the reign of Nero (much of the material being lost to us, including the last two years of Nero's reign). The Histories runs from the Year of Four Emperors (69) through the reign of Domitian. Together, then, the two works would have covered everything from the death of Augustus through the reign of Domitian. This becomes important when reading Jerome, Commentary on Zechariah 14.1.2:

jeromeontacitus.jpg
jeromeontacitus.jpg (18.67 KiB) Viewed 3745 times

Basically, Tacitus wrote the Lives of the Caesars from after Augustus up until the death of Domitian in thirty books. This clearly refers to both works: the Annals followed by the Histories.

Interestingly, Tacitus writes in Annals 4.73:

Ac simul utrumque exercitum Rheno devectum Frisiis intulit, soluto iam castelli obsidio et ad sua tutanda degressis rebellibus.

And, simultaneously conveying each army down the Rhine, he cast them at the Frisii, the siege of the castle being immediately dissolved and the rebels dispersed to guard their own [ad sua tutanda].

J. L. Berggren, Ptolemy's Geography, page 28, note 34:

"Siatoutanda" (Geography 2.11), perhaps from the phrase, "The rebels having departed to ensure their safety (ad sua tutanda)" (Tacitus, Ann{als} 4.73, Loeb 4.129). The resemblance... was first noticed by H. Müller in 1837....

If Müller is correct, and the resemblance is not accidental, then Ptolemy mistakenly took the phrase ad sua tutenda ("to guard their own possessions") as ad Suatutenda or ad Siatutenda ("to Siatutenda"), thus demonstrating that Ptolemy (early century II) knew the Annals.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:58 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
  • The term Christianos may have originally been Chrestianos, with an e instead of an i.
I'm pretty sure that's been confirmed.

"With ultra-violet examination of the MS the alteration was conclusively shown. It is impossible today to say who altered the letter e into an i."

J. Boman, Inpulsore Cherestro? Suetonius’ Divus Claudius 25.4 in Sources and Manuscripts, Liber Annuus 61 (2011), ISSN 0081-8933, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem 2012, p. 355, n. 2.
Yes, I was perhaps being overly circumspect; the 2009 article I linked to by Erik Zara has the same information about the ultraviolet.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Charles Wilson » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:26 pm

You can find the criticism of Annals, written by John Wilson Ross, Tacitus and Bracciolini, on the 'Net as a Gutenberg Project book and also from Amazon for a print copy.
I have been assured by a Scholar who has many of the Classics on his site that Annals is real, by way of analysis of words and syntax when compared with other manuscripts of Tacitus. Portions of Annals are found in other manuscripts.

I have a personal reason for hoping that Annals was from the hand of Tacitus. Portions of Acts are immediately understood when examined in regards to Annals. Acts 5 has the Story of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts itself spends a great deal of time describing the 12th Legion. All of this is comprehensible when Acts is compared with Annals. The 12th Legion is given a time marker with the paralytic Aeneas, who has been unable to move his legs for 8 years. What happened to the 12th Legion in 62?

When this view becomes cemented in your brain and you add others such as Pliny the Younger into the equation, you are led to the conclusion that Interpolations were performed on the works of Tacitus from without. "Chrestos/Christos" is but a single datum compared to the other. I still think you can get to this view (Thanx, Jay!) without Annals but it immensely more difficult.

More if needed.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by spin » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:53 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:The term Christianos may have originally been Chrestianos, with an e instead of an i.
The significance of this has long been exaggerated by a certain range of infidel. First, if one took the time to familiarize oneself with the Beneventan script, it is obviously Chrestiani:

1. The script uses digraphs, two letters together, one of which is "ri", the form of which can be seen in the word "Christus" (and Tyberio) in the line below "Chrestiani".
2. There is too much space after the present "i", enough to finish an "e".
3. The bulge on the following "s" is at the height where an "e" in the script would join and not at the height where there was a preceding "i". (See "inuisos" two words before "Chri/estiani".

There is no doubt about the original copy featuring an "e", but the significance of that is not considered in relation to the "Christus" in the following line. A corrector has fixed the orthography of "Chrestiani" and a copy was usually read then corrected where necessary. Had the source text read "Chrestiani", the corrector of the new text had little reason to correct it. The tendency was to leave the copy as close to the original as possible. The fact that Christus is written correctly according to the habits of users of the Beneventan script, points to the fact that it belongs to the good copy, ie there is no hope that the word was "Chrestus".

So why did we end up with "Chrestiani"? My understanding is that we were dealing with a French copyist, in whose language at the time the term was chrestien. See part 1b of the section "Étymol. et Hist." at the bottom of this. This seems to have been a case of scribal fatigue, automatically starting with the form the copyist was familiar with. The sound change "i" > "e" was a verified independent change in French. (It was "christiens" a century earlier, noted in the link.)

There is no mileage to be gained by fixating on the "e" in "Chrestiani" here. It is a mediaeval manifestation and its value is merely tendentious speculation.

The Bracciolini conspiracy theory that wanted people to believe that the Tacitus manuscript was a forgery is a sad crock that requires renaissance writers to be experts in the intricacies and ideosyncracies of the antiquated Beneventan script and to invent thousands of—to modern scholars—historically verifiable facts contained in the manuscript. The view is absurd.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Charles Wilson » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:04 pm

Thank you, Spin.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:04 pm

spin wrote:
Ben C. Smith wrote:The term Christianos may have originally been Chrestianos, with an e instead of an i.
The significance of this has long been exaggerated by a certain range of infidel. First, if one took the time to familiarize oneself with the Beneventan script, it is obviously Chrestiani:

1. The script uses digraphs, two letters together, one of which is "ri", the form of which can be seen in the word "Christus" (and Tyberio) in the line below "Chrestiani".
2. There is too much space after the present "i", enough to finish an "e".
3. The bulge on the following "s" is at the height where an "e" in the script would join and not at the height where there was a preceding "i". (See "inuisos" two words before "Chri/estiani".

There is no doubt about the original copy featuring an "e", but the significance of that is not considered in relation to the "Christus" in the following line. A corrector has fixed the orthography of "Chrestiani" and a copy was usually read them corrected where necessary. Had the source text read "Chrestiani", the corrector of the new text had little reason to correct it. The tendency was to leave the copy as close to the original as possible. The fact that Christus is written correctly according to the habits of users of the Beneventan script, points to the fact that it belongs to the good copy, ie there is no hope that the word was "Chrestus".

So why did we end up with "Chrestiani"? My understanding is that we were dealing with a French copyist, in whose language at the time the term was chrestien. See part 1b of the section "Étymol. et Hist." at the bottom of this. This seems to have been a case of scribal fatigue, automatically starting with the form the copyist was familiar with. The sound change "i" > "e" was a verified independent change in French. (It was "christiens" a century earlier, noted in the link.)

There is no mileage to be gained by fixating on the "e" in "Chrestiani" here. It is a mediaeval manifestation and its value is merely tendentious speculation.
I agree.
The Bracciolini conspiracy theory that wanted people to believe that the Tacitus manuscript was a forgery is a sad crock that requires renaissance writers to be experts in the intricacies and ideosyncracies of the antiquated Beneventan script and to invent thousands of—to modern scholars—historically verifiable facts contained in the manuscript. The view is absurd.
I agree.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:31 pm

spin wrote: The Bracciolini conspiracy theory that wanted people to believe that the Tacitus manuscript was a forgery is a sad crock that requires renaissance writers to be experts in the intricacies and ideosyncracies of the antiquated Beneventan script and to invent thousands of—to modern scholars—historically verifiable facts contained in the manuscript. The view is absurd.
Which Tacitus 'manuscript' are you referring to? Annals 15.44? Book 15 in toto? Annals 11-16? all the extant Annals?
Annales 11-16, Historiae

All of the late Italian manuscripts - some 31 at the last count - are copies of a single mediaeval manuscript, also in the Laurentian library, where it is number 68.2. It is referred to as M. II or 'second Medicean', to distinguish it from the unique codex of Annals 1-6. Bound with it are the major works of Apuleius, written slightly later than the Tacitus but at the same place.

The copies are discussed by Mendell.6

This MS is written in the difficult Beneventan hand. It was written at Monte Cassino, perhaps during the abbacy of Richer (1038-55AD). It derives from an ancestor written in Rustic Capitals, as it contains errors of transcription natural to that bookhand. There is some evidence that it was copied only once in about ten centuries, and that this copy was made from an original in rustic capitals of the 5th century or earlier,8 but other scholars believe that it was copied via at least one intermediate copy written in a minuscule hand.9

... Boccaccio had certainly seen the text by 1371, and the MS is listed among the books given by him at his death to the monastery of S. Spirito in Florence. Whether he had 'liberated' it, or acquired it from another collector who had done so has been extensively debated, without final result.

The MS is next seen in 1427, in the hands of the book-collector Niccolo Niccoli, who had furnished bookcases for Boccaccio's collection at S.Spirito. That Niccolo had not acquired the MS legitimately is suggested by a letter to him from his friend Poggio Bracciolini, asking to see it and promising to keep quiet about it. Knowledge of the text among the humanists is correspondingly limited in this period.

Poggio returned the MS to Niccolo, complaining about its barbarous script, and comparing it unfavourably with a copy of it in humanist script held by another mutual friend, Salutati.

At Niccolo's death in 1437, the MS passed with his books to the monastery of San Marco at Florence with the Medici as executors, and the humanist copies all date from this period or later.

The editio princeps was from the press of 'Spira' at Venice, a folio volume containing only the last 6 books of the annals and the first five of the histories. It is undated, but supposed to be from either 1468 or 1470. (Dibdin, Thomas Frognall, An introduction to the knowledge of rare and valuable editions of the Greek and Latin classics, 4th edn., London (1827), vol II. p.466 checked).

http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/tacitus/

6. C.W. MENDELL, Manuscripts of Tacitus XI-XXI, YCS 6 (1939), pp.41-70. (Ref. from Oliver). (Not checked)

7. A facsimile edition of the main MSS exists: Tacitus. Codex Laurentianus Mediceus 68 phototypice editus; praefatus est Henricus Rostagno, Lugdunum Batavorum (1902). (Ref. from Oliver, listed in Bodleian). (Not checked)

8. E.A. LOWE, The Unique Manuscript of Tacitus' Histories, Casinensia, Monte Cassino, 1929, vol. I pp. 257-272. (Ref. from Oliver). (Not checked)

9. C.W. MENDELL and S.A. IVES, 'Rycks's Manuscript of Tacitus', American Journal of Philology 72 (1951), pp.337-345. (Ref. from Oliver). (Not checked)
Scholars generally agree that these copies were written at Monte Cassino and the end of the document refers to Abbas Raynaldus cu... who was most probably one of the two abbots of that name at the abbey during that period.[14]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_o ... ts_context

14 Newton, Francis, 'The Scriptorium and Library at Monte Cassino, 1058–1105', ISBN 0-521-58395-0 Cambridge University Press, 1999. "The Date of the Medicean Tacitus (Flor. Laur. 68.2)", p. 96-97. [1]

Francis Newton states that it is likely that Annals 11–16 were in Monte Cassino during the first half of the rule of Abbot Desiderius (1058–1087) who later became Pope Victor III.[17]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annals_(T ... thenticity

17 Francis Newton (29 Apr 1999) 'The Scriptorium and Library at Monte Cassino, 1058–1105' ISBN 0-521-58395-0 Cambridge University Press pages 104–105
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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