A few years ago I discovered that the early popes list seems to match the list of Roman emperors because with a number of them some of the names are similar and the dates roughly the same and they match in sequential order. Critics have claimed that a number of the early popes are attested in chruch writings of the first few centuries. But how trustworthy are these sources? Is there enough quality and quantity evidence that the 2 lists match, or is the early church sources evidence enough that they can't/don't match? To demonstrate the seeming matches let us start with Pope Pius 1 and emperor Antoninus Pius.
10th Pope Pius 1
Emperor Antoninus Pius.
Both are named Pius.
(Meaning of name Pius match:
The meaning of the name Pius "religious, pious/piety, dutiful, holy, honest" might also match emperor Antoninus Pius?
"Antoninus acquired the cognomen Pius after his accession to the throne, either because he compelled the Senate to deify his adoptive father, or because he had saved senators sentenced to death by Hadrian in his later years." "One of his first acts as Emperor was to persuade the Senate to grant divine honours to Hadrian, which they had at first refused; his efforts to persuade the Senate to grant these honours is the most likely reason given for his title of Pius (dutiful in affection; compare pietas). Two other reasons for this title are that he would support his aged father-in-law with his hand at Senate meetings, and that he had saved those men that Hadrian, during his period of ill-health, had condemned to death."
"Antoninus was known as an avid observer of rites of religion....")
(Two names match?
"like the similar error "Anicetus, Pius" for "Pius Anicetus"". Anicetus Pius similar to Antoninus Pius?)
Pope Pius 1 reigned 140/142/146-154/155/157/161 (compiled from six different official popes lists) "during the [reign] of Antoninus Pius".
Emperor Antoninus Pius reigned 138-148-156-161 (and his successor Marcus Aurelius took some role from 156.)
Both dates coincide 140-155/161 (the whole of pope Pius' reign),
both almost the same start date 138/140, or similar date 146/148;
both the same date 155/156/157,
both the same end date 161.
The argument that Pius "reposed in 155 AD, ... he predeceased Emperor Antoninus Pius by six years" is not valid because (1) the end date for Pius is 154/155/157/161 in different sources, and (2) the end date "155" probably relates to that Marcus Aurelius took some role from 156.
Both are pontiffex maximus.
Pius 1 is bishop / "pope" / "pontiffex maximus" / "supreme pontiff" (Annuario Pontificio, Liber Pontificalis).
"the account of his [Justin's] martyrdom indicates there was no Roman bishop present there."
Antoninus Pius was pontiffex maximus (the emperors from Augustus to Gratian were pontiffex maximus).
"Antoninus was known as an avid observer of rites of religion...."
[The argument that the titles pontiffex maximus and pope were not used by/for bishops of Rome until later (mid-5th & mid-6th centuries) and so is an anachronism is not necessarily valid because bishop/pope/pontiff are still related.]
Both are in Rome.
With both the popes & emperors before and after also match each other all in order.
1 Peter (Nero) = Nero Caesar (Peter)
2 Linus (flaxen hair) = Vespasian (yellow hair)
3 Cletus = Titus
4 Clement 1 = Domitian (cousin Clemens)
5 Evaristus = Nerva
6 Alexander 1 = Trajan (Alexander)
7 Sixtus 1 = Trajan? or Hadrian?
8 Telesphorus = Hadrian?
9 Hyginus (Graecvs) = Hadrianus (Graeculus)
10 Pius 1 = Antoninus Pius
11 Anicetus = Marcus Aurelius (Annius) or Antoninus Pius?
12 Soter = Marcus Aurelius?
13 Eleutherius = L(ucius) (Aurelius) Verus?
14 Victor (Berber) = unconquerable Severus (Libyan)?
(15a antipope Natalius = ?)
15 Zephyrinus/Zepheniah = Septimus Severus
16 Callixtus = Caracalla
16-19 antipope Hippolytus = Heliogabalus
28 Caius = Diocletian (Gaius)
33 Silvester = Constantine (Silvan?)
45 pope Leo 1 the Great = emperor Leo 1 the Great or Majorian?
See each separate pope & emperor chapter for matches details.
Both died aged 74:
Pope Pius aged "74" at end of his papacy (ref Wiki).
Emperor Antoninus Pius aged 74 at end of his reign.
Both are associated with the 10/11th of July:
Pius 1's feast day 11 July.
Antoninus Pius accession day 10/11th of July.
Both are linked with freed slaves:
Pius: "The writer of the later text identifies himself as a former slave. This has led to speculation that both Hermas and Pius were freedmen."
Antoninus Pius: "Antoninus passed measures to facilitate the enfranchisement of slaves. Mostly, he favoured the principle of favor libertatis, giving the putative freedman the benefit of the doubt when the claim to freedom was not clearcut."
Pope Pius 1 built 1/2 churches & baptistry.
He "built a concealed church on the second floor of a bath house which had been converted to a residence. This church, Santa Pudenziana, is the oldest surviving church in Rome...."
Antoninus Pius authorised the construction of a temple to Faustina.
"Antoninus built temples, theaters, and mausoleums...."
["newly built temple to Hadrian"?]
Pius is said to have been a "martyr (by sword)". But they otherwise say it was a conjecture and is no grounds for consideration, and he is not presented as martyr in 'Roman Martyrdom'.
There is no contemporary proof outside of church sources that any pope Pius 1 ever existed. "Many popes in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures". "the account of his [Justin's] martyrdom indicates there was no Roman bishop present there."
"The actions of Pius I are recorded in multiple second and third century sources." But how reliable/trustworthy really are these sources even to a secular academic historian? They might have even begun the pope/emperor correspondences as early as then.
"Additionally, he (Pius) also left us archaeological evidence as to his existence, for he built a concealed church...." But is there any contemporary inscription of name of bishop Pius in/on the church?
"Hermas the brother of Pius wrote The Shepherd of Hermas which work is dated to the mid-2nd century". But does that work mention a bishop Pius?
2 names match?
popes/emperors before & after match
Died age 74 match
10/11 July match
Freed slaves match
Not martyr match
And no proof of pope Pius 1.
(And there will be more matches than I have found in brief research.)
Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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