Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:16 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:49 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:30 am
However, on the surface of things, Julian appears to be referring to contemporaries of Tiberius and Claudius. What are the arguments in favor of the other meaning?
the argument would be that in the construct:
the well-known writers of that time

..."of that time" is a genitive objective and not a mere genitive subjective (specifying merely the time of their activity as writers).
Genitive? What word do you think "of that time" is translating?

...ὧν εἷς ἐὰν φανῇ τῶν τη­νι­καῦ­τα γνωριζομένων επιμνησθεὶς — ἐπὶ Τιβερίου γὰρ ἤτοι Κλαυδίου ταῦτα ἐγί­νε­το — περὶ πάν­των ὅτι ψεύδο­μαι νομίζετε.

Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:23 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:16 pm
Genitive? What word do you think "of that time" is translating?
you are right: it is an adverb.
In bold:

...ών είς εάν φανή τών τη­νι­καύ­τα γνωριζομένων επιμνησθείς — επί Τιβερίου γάρ ήτοι Κλαυδίου ταύτα εγί­νε­το — περί πάν­των ότι ψεύδο­μαι νομίζετε.

It reads: "...of the writers at that time".
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:25 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:23 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:16 pm
Genitive? What word do you think "of that time" is translating?
you are right: it is an adverb.
In bold:

...ὧν εἷς ἐὰν φανῇ τῶν τη­νι­καῦ­τα γνωριζομένων επιμνησθεὶς — ἐπὶ Τιβερίου γὰρ ἤτοι Κλαυδίου ταῦτα ἐγί­νε­το — περὶ πάν­των ὅτι ψεύδο­μαι νομίζετε.

It reads: "Writers at that time".
Exactly. "Writers at that time," ἐπὶ Τιβερίου γὰρ ἤτοι Κλαυδίου ταῦτα ἐγί­νε­το.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:57 pm

Just putting this out there, having given it no more than a few moments of thought thus far. What if there is an interpolation (marked in red), but it is not the entire Testimoneum Taciteum?

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. 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. / 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. 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 center 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.

Is there any advantage to such a scenario?
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:24 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:57 pm
Is there any advantage to such a scenario?
I like, in such sense, the comment of G. Doudna about Tacitus.

But the strange thing, frankly, is the point about the living torches just in the place where the Vatican will be.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:36 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:57 pm

Just putting this out there, having given it no more than a few moments of thought thus far. What if there is an interpolation (marked in red), but it is not the entire Testimoneum Taciteum?

Tacitus, Annals 15.44 (translation modified slightly from that of Church and Brodribb):

... 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.

... 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 center 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.

Is there any advantage to such a scenario?
I'm not sure what you mean by 'any advantage', but proposing such an interpolation seems reasonable.

Arthur Drews proposed in his section on Tacitus in The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, -

.
"Equally invalid is the claim that the way in which Tacitus speaks of the Christians excludes all idea of a Christian interpolation."
.


The lack of reference to Annals 15.44 by the church fathers would seem to be significant to the issue of it's origin and provenance and thus its veracity, especially lack of reference by those church fathers that were seeking to reify Christianity before themselves, as is the lack of evidence of provevance of Annals per se.

Arthur Drews also noted in his section on Tacitus in The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, - -

We have a number of instances in the first centuries of Christian writers who are acquainted with Tacitus, such as Tertullian, Jerome, Orosius, Sidonius Apollinaris, Sulpicius Severus, and Cassiodorus.


It would be interesting to know whether Marcus Claudius Tacitus really claimed Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus as an ancestor and, more importantly regarding Annals 15.44, provided for the preservation of Publius / Gaius Cornelius Tacitus' works, as stated in the section on Marcus Claudius Tacitus in the dubious Historia Augusta, -

He had Cornelius Tacitus, the writer of Augustan history,34 placed in all the libraries, claiming him as a relative;35 p315 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. [chap 10 here, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/R ... itus*.html]

Footnote 34 there is noteworthy and may verify this passage, -

From this passage Casaubon [in 1603ce] took [coined] the title which has ever since been given erroneously to this collection; see Vol. I, Intro., p. xi.


The other thing worth addressing is how much Annals 15.44 aligns with the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (or vice versa). Drews noted, -

Teuffel, in his Geschichte der Röm. Literature (5th ed. 1890, ii, 1137), commends Sulpicius Severus for his “skill” in imitating Tacitus, among others, in his composition.

Drews also noted

... there is the complete silence of profane writers and the vagueness of the Christian writers on the matter; the latter only gradually come to make a definite statement of a general persecution of the Christians under Nero, whereas at first they make Nero put to death only Peter and Paul. 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.

and then, immediately in the next sentence in the same paragraph, -

.
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]

[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.
.

Of course, Sulpicius Severus is later than Marcus Claudius Tacitus so if Sulpicius did the interpolation Marcus Claudius T. would be absolved, but it may not be as simple as one or the other.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:01 pm

The first part of Annals 15.44 is noteworthy, too, -
Ben C Smith wrote:
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 femie, quibus mariti erant. Sed non ope humana, non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis decedebat infamia, quin iussum incendium crederenatur ...

... 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. 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 ...

To me it lends itself to being a focus or a focal point at which one might want to seek means of propitiating a new god, to point to a new order ...

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:43 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:57 pm
Just putting this out there, having given it no more than a few moments of thought thus far. What if there is an interpolation (marked in red), but it is not the entire Testimoneum Taciteum?

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. 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. / 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. 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 center 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.

Is there any advantage to such a scenario?
One the one hand some of the alleged problems with the passage concern the plausibility of Tacitus providing a lurid account of Nero's persecution of Christians, the suggested interpolation would not remove these supposed problems.

On the other hand the hostile tone of the reference to Christ is prima facie evidence against Christian interpolation, and part of it quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. feels IMHO stylistically Tacitean.

I find it quite plausible that auctor nominis eius from whom the name had its origin, is a gloss but this does not accept the substantial authenticity of the passage.

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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:44 am

andrewcriddle wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:43 am
One the one hand some of the alleged problems with the passage concern the plausibility of Tacitus providing a lurid account of Nero's persecution of Christians, the suggested interpolation would not remove these supposed problems.
That is true.

How lurid is too lurid for Tacitus? He does not shy away from writing about murders and massacres producing streams of blood. But this paragraph is more specific than that.
On the other hand the hostile tone of the reference to Christ is prima facie evidence against Christian interpolation, and part of it quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. feels IMHO stylistically Tacitean.
I agree with both of these assessments.
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Re: Arguments concerning the Testimonium Taciteum.

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:18 am

On the other hand the hostile tone of the reference to Christ is prima facie evidence against Christian interpolation,
I see the hostile tone of the reference to Christians, not to Christ. There is prima facie not show of hostility behind the simple report of the public execution of someone.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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