Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

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Joseph D. L.
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Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:02 am

Okay so I've spent the last month or so trying to collate/coalesce my thoughts into a formal essay but I've been in a brain fog for a while where nothing good comes out. Maybe that's a sign that my theory isn't as strong as I think? Oh well, I'm putting it out there and maybe some helpful criticism can help jump start my brain.

Phlegon, a freedman and letter courier for emperor Hadrian, composed an extensive history of the Olympiads, and according to Origen, he makes some interesting remarks about Jesus:

Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus), but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions. So that he also, by these very admissions regarding foreknowledge, as if against his will, expressed his opinion that the doctrines taught by the fathers of our system were not devoid of divine power.

///

But if Celsus believe the Gospel accounts when he thinks that he can find in them matter of charge against the Christians, and refuse to believe them when they establish the divinity of Jesus, our answer to him is: Sir, either disbelieve all the Gospel narratives, and then no longer imagine that you can found charges upon them; or, in yielding your belief to their statements, look in admiration on the Logos of God, who became incarnate, and who desired to confer benefits upon the whole human race. And this feature evinces the nobility of the work of Jesus, that, down to the present time, those whom God wills are healed by His name. And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Cæsar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place, Phlegon too, I think, has written in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles."

Other historians who refer to Phlegon are Julius Africanus, and Eusebius:

“In the fourth year, however, of Olympiad 202, an eclipse of the sun happened, greater and more excellent than any that had happened before it; at the sixth hour, day turned into dark night, so that the stars were seen in the sky, and an earthquake in Bithynia toppled many buildings of the city of Nicaea.”

Though not much can be conclusively ascertained from what we have, Origin makes a rather strange observation, that Phlegon wrote about Jesus but that he seemingly confused Jesus with things that happened with Peter. He doesn't go on to detail exactly what these attributes were, and like other writers plays fast and lose with his evidence (his wording as to what book this is found proves as much). But what exactly does this mean? Did Phlegon know and write about both Jesus and Peter?

Phlegon also wrote about the crucifixion, or rather about the darkness and the earthquake that happened in tandem of the crucifixion. According to Eusebius, Phlegon was describing an eclipse, which is odd because that's what's said about Thallus's own description according Julius Africanus:

On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his 'History', calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.

So there are two writers, Thallus and Phlegon, who both say that in the time of Tiberius Caesar there was an eclipse, a great darkness, and a great earthquake.

Well, with the help of the NASA website, we can confirm that there was indeed an eclipse of Judea in 29 ad. and another one would not occur until thirty years later. But the 29 ad eclipse happened in November. No way in hell this can be collaborated to fit the eclipse of Jesus, who was crucified during Passover (indeed an eclipse is not possible during Passover).

So what is going on here? Why are two writers referring to the same event and later Christians are believing it to be about Jesus? Well, there's a pretty glaring issue that is often just glossed over but might in fact hold the key to unlocking this mystery.

Phlegon states that there was an eclipse, and an earthquake... in Bithynia? Why would there be an earthquake in Bithynia if the crucifixion occurred in Palestine?

Orosius, probably relying on Eusebius, mentions an earthquake happening in Bithynia, but there is a major problem. He has the earthquake during the 19th year of Tiberius's rule, or 33 ad. The eclipse that Phlegon and Thallus describe happened in 29 ad.

What does this mean? That the church writers were making things up and didn't know what they were talking about. Duh! But that seems self evident. What does that have to do with with Phlegon?

Well, consider Phlegon's role. He has a position with the royal hall, is a trusted courier of Hadrian, and he has pretensions of being a historian. He would have access to the works of other historians, as well as his own workshop of editors, granted to him to run royal propaganda.

Hadrian made no secret that the eclipse of 118 ad, which occurred over the Black Sea, held significance to him as it's sign was featured prominently on coins minted during his rule.

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And of course, Bithynia was the homeland of Antinous.

Add that both Thallus and Phelgon composed histories of the Olympiads, though Thallus leaves off an earthquake, mentioning only the darkness...

Conspiracy theory? Phlegon just co-opted Thallus's work, adding in the earthquake to draw attention to Bithynia.

But why the 19th year of Tiberius?

Well, why does Origen say that Phlegon confused Jesus and Peter together?

It almost seems to me that Phlegon was deliberately making up a history for reasons I can't explain why...

Ah, but wait a minute. Who else is suspected of co-opting a historical work for their own propaganda? Hegesippus, and a mysterious passage in Josephus mentioned by Clement of Alexandria (teacher of Oriegn) that implies that he wrote of the tenth year of Antoninus Pius. And what is Josephus used for in Christian history? Well, Christian history itself. The writer(s) of Acts of the Apostles used him, the Synoptics used him, and Josephus's usefulness in Christianity is such that they even inserted whole passages into him basically preaching Christianity.

This convergence is almost too conspicuous. Or maybe that's the fatigue talking. To sum it up

Phlegon = Hegesippus + Thallus/Josephus

And to make this even more conspiuous, Phlegon is even mentioned as one of the brethren in Romans 16, and his name means the same thing as Ignatius's, to burn brightly, or to be zealous/boastful... yeah, boastful. Like someone else we're all familiar with...

Anyway, I'm tired. I'm hitten submit and going to bed.

Charles Wilson
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Charles Wilson » Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:56 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:02 am
Though not much can be conclusively ascertained from what we have, Origin makes a rather strange observation, that Phlegon wrote about Jesus but that he seemingly confused Jesus with things that happened with Peter. He doesn't go on to detail exactly what these attributes were, and like other writers plays fast and lose with his evidence (his wording as to what book this is found proves as much). But what exactly does this mean? Did Phlegon know and write about both Jesus and Peter?
Bingo!

Thank you, Joseph D. L.!

If you find the Origen quote, PLZ post it!!!

CW

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:57 am

Origen never goes into detail about what he felt Phlegon had confused Jesus and Peter with.

To give a general overview of my hypothesis, Phlegon is responsible for creating the idea of a historical Jesus so as to co-opt the rascally Nazarenes into the greater Christian/Hadrianic religion.

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:24 am

Is it peculiar to anyone else that Peter and John are the only Apostles to have a Gospel written for them by guessed at writers? Mark, a follower of Peter (and Paul according to Acts), wrote his Gospel based on the preachings of Peter; and John either had Marcion or Papias as his secretary and dictated his Gospel to them. This latter point is strange considering it is Papias who said Mark wrote down Peter’s Gospel. Is this merely the same story being told from two different traditions?

And John is such an obvious fictional character, created to bridge the yawning cap between the life of Jesus and the Apostolic fathers. I mean, Clement, Ignatius, Papias, and Polycarp, and even Marcion and Cerinthus, were all followers and hearers of John? Meanwhile, the other Apostles are left to the dust, and killed before the Temple was destroyed. But John miraculously survived to the time of Trajan???

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:55 pm

So could John be a proxy for Josephus?

maryhelena
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by maryhelena » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:35 pm

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:55 pm
So could John be a proxy for Josephus?
Josephus? The man who placed his own Jesus story (the TF) in the context of 19 c.e. (the year the Jews were expelled from Rome). The man who placed his John, the baptizer, story in 36/37 c.e. ? That Josephus.....

Anyway, it does seem that Josephus, like GJohn, had an interest in playing with symbolic or prophetic numbers. If the Jesus of the Josephus story was crucified under Pilate in 19 c.e. (Daniel Schwartz one scholar supporting an early date for Pilate) - then perhaps GJohn's 'not yet 50' might thrown some light on why Josephus placed his Jesus story in the context of 19 c.e.

49 years back from 19 c.e. and it's 30 b.c. Not of course, yet another birth date for the fictional Jesus figure - but the killing, the execution, of the last Hasmonean King and former High Priest, Hyrcanus II. (by Herod)

Also of interest is that Josephus has placed the killing of Hyrcanus II just 7 years from the execution of Antigonus in 37 b.c.

So...if it's the Josephus route to early christian origins that interests you.....keep digging.....follow the numbers......who knows but you might just find Hasmonean gold.... :)
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Phlegon and the creation of the historical Jesus

Post by Joseph D. L. » Tue Jul 28, 2020 1:02 am

maryhelena wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:35 pm
Josephus? The man who placed his own Jesus story (the TF) in the context of 19 c.e. (the year the Jews were expelled from Rome). The man who placed his John, the baptizer, story in 36/37 c.e. ? That Josephus.....
Joseph ben Gurion, and Justus of Tiberias, whose writings were co-opted by the mysterious Hegeisppus (Josephus) character. I'm presuming that Phlegon, the courier of Hadrian, was this Hegesippus. I think Josephus ben Matthias is a made character.
Anyway, it does seem that Josephus, like GJohn, had an interest in playing with symbolic or prophetic numbers. If the Jesus of the Josephus story was crucified under Pilate in 19 c.e. (Daniel Schwartz one scholar supporting an early date for Pilate) - then perhaps GJohn's 'not yet 50' might thrown some light on why Josephus placed his Jesus story in the context of 19 c.e.

49 years back from 19 c.e. and it's 30 b.c. Not of course, yet another birth date for the fictional Jesus figure - but the killing, the execution, of the last Hasmonean King and former High Priest, Hyrcanus II. (by Herod)

Also of interest is that Josephus has placed the killing of Hyrcanus II just 7 years from the execution of Antigonus in 37 b.c.
I can't think of anything to say about this. Hasmonean theories have never really appealed to me. I will say that in regards to my over all theory, certain historical characters from that time could have made their way into our Gospel-Acts narratives because of this Hegesippus figure, meaning that he is a prime suspect for the creator of a "historical Jesus".
So...if it's the Josephus route to early christian origins that interests you.....keep digging.....follow the numbers......who knows but you might just find Hasmonean gold.... :)
I could use some gold right now. ;)

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