Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Bernard Muller
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:53 am

to MrMacSon,
Are you implying Chrestus was a Jew? ie. not a Christian? or not of another religions or cult?

or, are you implying Jews were not loyal to Judaism?
I am not implying anything, but since only Jews were banished from Rome following the dispute, I am inclined to think it was an all Jewish affair: "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."
I also think the disturbances were between Jewish Christians and orthodox Christians, and that Chrestus was likely Jesus Christ.
However I would not put too much weight on that and I do not think I made an argument from Suetonius' Chrestus in my website.

Cordially, Bernard
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MrMacSon
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:01 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:53 am
to MrMacSon

but since only Jews were banished from Rome following the dispute, I am inclined to think it was an all Jewish affair: "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."
The passage implies ‘Chrestus’ was alive then. It was also written ~60 yrs later.

I also think the disturbances were between Jewish Christians and orthodox Christians, and that Chrestus was likely Jesus Christ.
However I would not put too much weight on that and I do not think I made an argument from Suetonius' Chrestus in my website.
Why would there be significant numbers of Christians in Rome 30 yrs after the alleged Jesus alleged death? Ie. within 1 generation. Paul is supposed to have been preaching in Asia Minor and across the Agean sea. And struggling to maintain adherents in some places. Peter is supposed to have also been preaching in Asia Minor.

Bernard Muller
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:36 pm

to MrMacSon,
The passage implies ‘Chrestus’ was alive then. It was also written ~60 yrs later
Not necessarily: 'at the instigation of Chrestus' can mean 'because of Chrestus'.
It is rather strange you mention that alleged implication because earlier you said that Chrestus could be Serapis.
Suetonius, like many other historians, were writing about events well before their times.
Why would there be significant numbers of Christians in Rome 30 yrs after the alleged Jesus alleged death? Ie. within 1 generation. Paul is supposed to have been preaching in Asia Minor and across the Agean sea. And struggling to maintain adherents in some places. Peter is supposed to have also been preaching in Asia Minor.
Why not? That was about 20 years after Jesus' death. And the first Christianity was Jewish not Pauline. Paul came later.
Paul in 'Romans' (written 57 CE) certainly dealt at length with Jewish Christians there, about 30 years after Jesus' death. The persecution by Nero came seven years later.
I do not think Peter went to Asia Minor (& Rome), but only Syria & Corinth.

Cordially, Bernard
I believe freedom of expression should not be curtailed

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spin
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by spin » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:47 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:35 am
I do not see any clash,
Did you read for content? How is the execution of christians related to the other items in the list, the bannings, beyond the claim that as it appears in a list of measures taken by Nero to end abuses? What abuses do you think are implied with the execution of christians? And do you really think there was a sizeable body of christians in Rome well enough known to cause Nero to deal with them??
Bernard Muller wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:35 am
Furthermore I do not think that a Christian interpolator could have written: "Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition"
This is the old christians-are-useless-interpolators argument.
Dysexlia lures • ⅔ of what we see is behind our eyes

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Jax
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Jax » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:29 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:36 pm
to MrMacSon,
The passage implies ‘Chrestus’ was alive then. It was also written ~60 yrs later
Not necessarily: 'at the instigation of Chrestus' can mean 'because of Chrestus'.
It is rather strange you mention that alleged implication because earlier you said that Chrestus could be Serapis.
Suetonius, like many other historians, were writing about events well before their times.
Why would there be significant numbers of Christians in Rome 30 yrs after the alleged Jesus alleged death? Ie. within 1 generation. Paul is supposed to have been preaching in Asia Minor and across the Agean sea. And struggling to maintain adherents in some places. Peter is supposed to have also been preaching in Asia Minor.
Why not? That was about 20 years after Jesus' death. And the first Christianity was Jewish not Pauline. Paul came later.
Paul in 'Romans' (written 57 CE) certainly dealt at length with Jewish Christians there, about 30 years after Jesus' death. The persecution by Nero came seven years later.
I do not think Peter went to Asia Minor (& Rome), but only Syria & Corinth.

Cordially, Bernard
The only problem that I see with your contention that early Christianity was as socially dynamic as you seem to indicate is that, aside from a couple of vague, short mentions that are highly contested, there is no mention of this phenomenon in the actual 1st century. By anyone.
According to you, Jesus died in the 30's and by the 60's Christianity was a movement so prevalent in the city of Rome that it had the rulers of Rome up in arms. And yet no one mentioned it until 80 years after the death of Jesus.
This means that no one wrote anything about Christians or Christianity for 80 years even though it was a quickly spreading and dynamic cult.

Does this really seem reasonable to you?

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MrMacSon
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:07 pm

Jax wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:29 pm

... And yet no one mentioned it until 80 years after the death of Jesus. This means that no one wrote anything about Christians or Christianity for 80 years even though it [supposedly] was a quickly spreading and dynamic cult.
Maybe not even then: Pliny-the-younger's letter mentioning Christians is now being questioned for authenticity. Antiquities 18 (and very probably Ant. 20) is almost certainly interpolation or fraud. Suetonius' references are too vague to be significant. Tacitus Annals 15.44 has poor provenance (as do the others) and has various doubts.

Their contemporary Hadrian is supposed to have written about Alexandrian worshippers of Serapis calling themselves Bishops of Christ ...

Bernard Muller
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:43 pm

to spin,
Did you read for content? How is the execution of christians related to the other items in the list, the bannings, beyond the claim that as it appears in a list of measures taken by Nero to end abuses? What abuses do you think are implied with the execution of christians? And do you really think there was a sizeable body of christians in Rome well enough known to cause Nero to deal with them??
Certainly, the Christians' abuses are not revealed in Suetonius' passage, but it is also the case for the pantomimic actor & their partisans.
Paul's letter to the Romans (57 CE) is proof there was a sizeable body of Christians in Rome then.
According to Tacitus (annals 15:44), Nero did not deal with those Christians because of their high number, but because he needed scapegoats. And these Christians ("hated for their abominations" and accused of "hatred against mankind") were unpopular.
Tacitus wrote in his passage about Christians, related to the spreading of Christianity in Rome:
"in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular" (according to the context "things hideous and shameful" include Christian beliefs).

This is the old christians-are-useless-interpolators argument.
Still, Christian interpolators were very unlikely to say their religion was a mischievous superstition.
Consider the interpolated Josephus' Antiquities 18 TF to see the difference.

Cordially, Bernard
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Bernard Muller
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Bernard Muller » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:34 pm

to Jax,
The only problem that I see with your contention that early Christianity was as socially dynamic as you seem to indicate is that, aside from a couple of vague, short mentions that are highly contested, there is no mention of this phenomenon in the actual 1st century. By anyone.
Only one problem? I am rejoicing :D
Mythicists and other extreme skeptics have to contest these kinds of evidence. Of course, they are highly contested by them.
Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny the Younger wrote about Christians very soon after the end of the 1st century.
According to you, Jesus died in the 30's and by the 60's Christianity was a movement so prevalent in the city of Rome that it had the rulers of Rome up in arms. And yet no one mentioned it until 80 years after the death of Jesus.
I already explained to spin that the Christians were selected by Nero as scapegoats because they were hated by the populace.
As far as reporting the rise of Christianity in non-Christian texts written in the 1st century, we have to consider we have relatively few surviving texts written in antiquity, that a huge amount of texts written then have disappeared or got destroyed.
This means that no one wrote anything about Christians or Christianity for 80 years even though it was a quickly spreading and dynamic cult.
But Paul's epistles, Acts, 1 Peter, Revelation (which I take written in the 1st century) certainly testify to a relatively quickly spreading and dynamic cult.
And if I remember well, you were considering Paul's epistles as written in the 1st century BCE, which would make the "problem" even worse.

Cordially, Bernard
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Jax
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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Jax » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:59 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:34 pm
This means that no one wrote anything about Christians or Christianity for 80 years even though it was a quickly spreading and dynamic cult.
But Paul's epistles, Acts, 1 Peter, Revelation (which I take written in the 1st century) certainly testify to a relatively quickly spreading and dynamic cult.
And if I remember well, you were considering Paul's epistles as written in the 1st century BCE, which would make the "problem" even worse.

Cordially, Bernard
Actually having Paul in the 1st century BCE makes things better. A small, slowly evolving cult of Christianity that finally achieves critical mass in the late 1st to early 2nd century really helps explain the complete absence of visible Christians in the 1st century.

The story as told by Acts makes no sense at all.

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Re: Who existed ? When ? Where ?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:57 am

The problem with these discussions is that people tend to overstate the evidence to support their side of the debate. It's like having an argument with your spouse. You overstate your case because you know there is likely an equal opposite argument on the other side. I wish we could all agree to disagree with each other and move on from these 'I am totally right and you are totally wrong' type of discussions (impossible of course because of the nature of people like Bernard and Neil as examples of extremist thought on the respective sides here).

The facts here can only lead to an agnostic POV. Maybe Jesus existed, maybe he didn't. That's the bottom line. Yes it is hard to believe that Christianity could have started without a historical Jesus but then again there isn't much in the way of solid evidence for his existence. For me at least the fact that:

1. Paul is generally acknowledged to have based his 'gospel' on a revelation or some sort of extra-historical understanding of Jesus

and that

2. Pauline traditions tended to be mystical/allegorical/spiritual whatever you want to call it

opens the door to the reasonable possibility that the historical Jesus was created out of Pauline Christianity even as a reaction to it by another 'revelation' given to a 'counter-Pauline' prophetic figure, a reaction against the radical rejection of 'Judaism' (however defined). In other words, the forces that led to a radical prophet/visionary like Paul could have produced a 'second Paul' (viz. someone who had a vision of a historical Jesus buried within the original vision of Paul). Polycarp might have been that figure. Polycarp could be Peregrinus or a Peregrinus-type visionary (i.e. second Paul) who argued that Jesus existed, that Jesus was wholly different from the traditional Pauline understanding of him as a god. There is very little solid evidence before Polycarp of 'Jewish-Christians' or a 'historical Jesus community.'

I am not saying that 'this is a fact' or that 'the historical Jesus tradition' was invented by Polycarp through just the kind of vision which led Paul to postulate a super-human/super-celestial Jesus. Only that it is possible.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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