No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5402
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:50 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 am
I mean to imply precisely the opposite in both the cases.
If Acts is pure fiction, then what is shown above proves that the author denies the usual historicist excuse (“Jesus was obscure so no wonder about Festus's ignorance about his crucifixion”) and in this sense it is still useful against historicity.
If it is pure fiction, then an argument starting from a premise of Festus' ignorance has a false premise and fails.
Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 am
If there is some historical nucleus behind that episode of Acts, then the Argument from Silence is strong: should really I explain the reason, Peter?
If we want to believe the story is historical, then we first need to explain what Acts is, when it was written, and what its sources were. That cries out for an understanding and an explanation. The most obvious and simplest explanation for that kind of factual detail would be that this is some sort of ancient history. The obvious question is, if it's that good about exact quotes, whether it has the fundamental narrative arc at all correct. A narrative arc that, of course, starts from Jerusalem, where that Jesus died -- according to Acts.

In which case, either the quote was invented for dramatic effect -- common even in ancient history -- or you have to find a way to reconcile the points that Jesus died in Jerusalem, that the author of Acts believe these things were not done "in a corner," and that some Roman governor, even in his assigned post, didn't learn about it by study or by fame but only incidentally, as we also know Pliny did.

Of course, these statements easily fit together so long as you don't try too hard to make it otherwise, by the same type of argument that would have us believe that governors studied up on everything and so... again, Jesus must have existed because you couldn't pull that one past such an educated gentry as the Romans had.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:56 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:50 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 am
I mean to imply precisely the opposite in both the cases.
If Acts is pure fiction, then what is shown above proves that the author denies the usual historicist excuse (“Jesus was obscure so no wonder about Festus's ignorance about his crucifixion”) and in this sense it is still useful against historicity.
If it is pure fiction, then an argument starting from a premise of Festus' ignorance has a false premise and fails.
But that says us still something about the author of Acts: that he was unable to concede a historical Jesus who was also obscure, and despite of that particular his reluctance, he concedes the Festus's ignorance about Jesus's crucifixion, in what had to be a story of FACTS (at least in the intention of the author of Acts). So this betrayes the his real (historical) knowledge that Jesus was unknown (since he invents a fiction about him as unknown).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 5402
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:10 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:56 am
Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:50 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:38 am
I mean to imply precisely the opposite in both the cases.
If Acts is pure fiction, then what is shown above proves that the author denies the usual historicist excuse (“Jesus was obscure so no wonder about Festus's ignorance about his crucifixion”) and in this sense it is still useful against historicity.
If it is pure fiction, then an argument starting from a premise of Festus' ignorance has a false premise and fails.
But that says us still something about the author of Acts: that he was unable to concede a historical Jesus who was also obscure, and despite of that particular his reluctance, he concedes the Festus's ignorance about Jesus's crucifixion, in what had to be a story of FACTS (at least in the intention of the author of Acts). So this betrayes the his real (historical) knowledge that Jesus was unknown (since he invents a fiction about him as unknown).
We already know that there were lots of people in the 1st/2nd century that didn't know about Jesus. That shows up repeatedly in the sources as the dynamic that the first and early second century Christian apostles/missionaries had. When they arrive somewhere, it's not that the people there had all heard about Jesus and rejected his and his follower's teachings (excepting the city of Jerusalem immediately after the crucifixion, allegedly, according to Acts). It's that the people there hadn't yet heard about Jesus and the baptism in his name and his death/resurrection. The idea that they were fighting against existing views of Jesus/Christianity is mostly an anachronism... at least, in the beginning, until about the mid/late 2nd century and later. So I don't think anyone is fooled into thinking that Jesus was known everywhere, least of all by Acts, where this dynamic is shown repeatedly on the missions of Paul and the others. When the author has someone say the things weren't done in a corner, it's not because everyone knew all about it, but rather because there were witnesses (for example, the feeding of the 5000).

So, we know that at the time Acts was written (which is before Irenaeus' Adv. Haer.), lots were ignorant about Jesus. This isn't something that needs to be established by a sketchy argument based on a quote ostensibly placed on the lips of Festus. It also brings us back into familiar territory for the historicity of Jesus debate, making the quote a red herring. The real premise is an uncontroversial statement (if made in unexaggerated form) that has nothing to do with the historical Festus. The disagreement is whether this more-or-less relative obscurity of Jesus -- not everyone knew about him, even a hundred years on -- seems unremarkable (to almost everyone) or surprising (to some naive Christians who thought God played a blowout rock concert on Earth in AD 30... and the occasional mythicist).
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:19 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:10 am
So I don't think anyone is fooled into thinking that Jesus was known everywhere, least of all by Acts, where this dynamic is shown repeatedly on the missions of Paul and the others.
The surprising thing is that Festus and Agrippa are in Jerusalem (both in the real History and in the fiction of Acts). Could they not know about who this Jesus was? The author of Acts seems to describe them in the same way of the people met by the early apostles outside Israel: they didn't know anything about this Jesus, how was he killed, by whom, why. It seems as if this Jesus was killed by the Jews, not by Pilate.

If the Festus episode was described as happened in Rome or somewhere in the Empire, then I would have not raised the problem in advance. Festus was not in Jerusalem only for a short interval, like Philo. He, as Governor, was always in Judea. Idem for Agrippa.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:25 am

About the Felix and Festus episode in Acts, it seems that there is a historical nucleus behind the story.

The Roman authorities did really some investigations about the real fate of Jesus, finding de facto nothing at all.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Jax
Posts: 767
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:10 am

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Jax » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:15 pm

DCHindley wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:26 am
Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:04 am
DCHindley wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:56 am
But I also find the statement placed in Festus' mouth to be strange. The synoptic Gospels portray Jesus as a sagely fellow who was unjustly killed as a rebel by the Romans, but what Romans seemed to fix onto was the fact that he was crucified as a rebel. So for Festus to call Jesus a mere dead man and not mention a crucifixion is a bit strange. But there are two problems with this matter: 1) How can we be sure that the author of Acts 25 didn't simply want avoid this and leave that fact out of the narrative, and 2) Even if he was sharing actual court testimony, how do we know that Paul even mentioned the manner of Jesus' death to Festus?
It is not so strange, afterall:
1) if Paul didn't meet really Festus, i.e. Festus met other Christians and not really Paul himself, so Paul couldn't proclaim Christ crucified to Festus.
2) if the cruxifixion was not the manner of death of the Jesus in the earliest Myth. We know from a particular version of the Ascension of Isaiah that Jesus was killed by demons and only after the his mere corpse was hung on the tree. And obviously, the Christ-Lamb of Revelation was not crucified.

So, in both the cases (a real meeting of Festus with Paul or with Christians different from Paul), the Argument from Silence is STRONG.

It is even more strong since the Silence is not only from Festus, but also from the Jewish accusers of Paul before Festus. So the historicist can't evade the discussion by adducing (as usual) the excuse that “Paul eclipsed deliberately a seditious Jesus”.
What would Simon & Garfunkel think of your interpretation of the Sound of Silence?

For a really Disturbed interpretation, see below:



DCH
Not really sure what Simon & Garfunkel think, but I kind of like it.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:28 am

Now this is surprising:

Mythicist Arthur Drews argued that the epistle of Pliny the Younger is based on Acts. In particular, on the discourse of Festus before king Agrippa.

This explains why even the forger preserved the silence about an earthly Jesus, despite of fact that the forger was a historicist Christian: it was his source - the Festus's discourse in Acts - to be tremendously silent on the earthly Jesus.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

lsayre
Posts: 320
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:39 pm

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by lsayre » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:18 am

Unless I missed it, there is no mention of Jesus in the letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan, and neither is there mention of him in the reply. Any potential relevance or significance here? Such as perhaps two religions, one which worshiped a Jesus, and one which worshiped a Christ, whereby at some juncture they merged into one? Any significance to this being in regard to the administration of the region of Pontus, such as perhaps an early Marcionite connection?

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:01 am

lsayre wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:18 am
Unless I missed it, there is no mention of Jesus in the letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan
yes I meant Christo quasi deo.
In the hypothesis that it was modeled on Acts, I have merely explained why the forger was so silent himself too, about the earthly Jesus.

The idea of a Christ different from Jesus is bullshit. While the view that there were two Jesus, one named Jesus Son of Father ("Bar-Abbas") and the other called Jesus Christ, is serious (it is the my view).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7455
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: No mention of Pilate in Festus's discourse of Acts 25 (and why this silence is surprising)

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:45 pm

OF great interest in another thread and ABSOLUTELY connected with this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6788&p=109056#p109056
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Post Reply