Was Chrestus Jesus?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
John2
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Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by John2 »

Suetonius writes about a disturbance in Rome instigated by someone called Chrestus ("Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome," Claudius 25), and while I suppose this could refer to someone besides Jesus (which would be fine with me, if so), I'm inclined to think it is Jesus.

Acts 18:1-2 mentions this expulsion and two Christians who were affected by it who are also mentioned in Rom. 16:3-4.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their lives for me.

Given the presence of Christians in Rome at the time of the expulsion and the existence of extremist Christians who instigated a disturbance in Jerusalem according to Acts 21:27-35, it seems plausible to me that Christians of this sort could have also caused a disturbance in Rome.

When the seven days were almost over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everywhere against our people and against our law and against this place. Furthermore, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, the commander of the Roman regimentc received a report that all Jerusalem was in turmoil. Immediately he took some soldiers and centurions and ran down to the crowd. When the people saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul ...

Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, and some another. And since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.

And since Jesus wasn't in Jerusalem or even alive at the time of this disturbance, his presence would not have been necessary for Christians to cause a similar disturbance in Rome.

So for me the choices are that Chrestus refers to Jesus (who, according to Paul in Rom. 1:8 was known "all over the world" and according to Acts had extremist followers and whose followers were known to Suetonius as per Nero 16), or someone else who is otherwise unknown.
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mlinssen
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by mlinssen »

John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm Suetonius writes about a disturbance in Rome instigated by someone called Chrestus ("Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome," Claudius 25), and while I suppose this could refer to someone besides Jesus (which would be fine with me, if so), I'm inclined to think it is Jesus.

Acts 18:1-2 mentions this expulsion and two Christians who were affected by it who are also mentioned in Rom. 16:3-4.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their lives for me.

Given the presence of Christians in Rome at the time of the expulsion and the existence of extremist Christians who instigated a disturbance in Jerusalem according to Acts 21:27-35, it seems plausible to me that Christians of this sort could have also caused a disturbance in Rome.

When the seven days were almost over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everywhere against our people and against our law and against this place. Furthermore, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, the commander of the Roman regimentc received a report that all Jerusalem was in turmoil. Immediately he took some soldiers and centurions and ran down to the crowd. When the people saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul ...

Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, and some another. And since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.

And since Jesus wasn't in Jerusalem or even alive at the time of this disturbance, his presence would not have been necessary for Christians to cause a similar disturbance in Rome.

So for me the choices are that Chrestus refers to Jesus (who, according to Paul in Rom. 1:8 was known "all over the world" and according to Acts had extremist followers and whose followers were known to Suetonius as per Nero 16), or someone else who is otherwise unknown.
Given the fact that nothing in the earliest NT MSS attests to either Jesus or Christ, but only to IS or IHS and XS or XRS, chances are that there indeed were Chrestians whose idol or icon was labelled Chrestus - and if we take Tacitus and Suetonius to be not interpolations, they may very well be describing a historical event

Or they were interpolations, yet at the instigation of Chrestians. It seems that the movement wasn't rebranded until centuries later with Constantine taking full control. It would seem that the takeover of Chrestianity by "Christianity", adding all the elements from Judaism and the Tanakh, first occurred without the rebranding

So far I have yet to see an early manuscript that spells out xristos, other than Philip of course - for all I know it was entirely his idea LOL
John2
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by John2 »

If that's what works for you, then great.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by MrMacSon »

John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm Suetonius writes about a disturbance in Rome instigated by someone called Chrestus ("Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome," Claudius 25), and while I suppose this could refer to someone besides Jesus (which would be fine with me, if so), I'm inclined to think it is Jesus.
  • Claudius 25 is about Jews in Rome. It's not clear who or even what Chrestus is/was, or if that entity was ever in Rome

John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm
Acts 18:1-2 mentions this expulsion and two Christians who were affected by it who are also mentioned in Rom. 16:3-4.
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their lives for me.
  • I think that's a stretch

John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm
Given the presence of Christians in Rome at the time of the expulsion and the existence of extremist Christians who instigated a disturbance in Jerusalem according to Acts 21:27-35, it seems plausible to me that Christians of this sort could have also caused a disturbance in Rome.
When the seven days were almost over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple [in Jerusalem, v.17]. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everywhere against our people and against our law and against this place. Furthermore, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, the commander of the Roman regiment received a report that all Jerusalem was in turmoil. Immediately he took some soldiers and centurions and ran down to the crowd. When the people saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul ...

Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, and some another. And since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.
  • Acts is not reliable as history. It uses the Pauline epistles, but even then often mispresents them

John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm So for me the choices are that Chrestus refers to Jesus (who, according to Paul in Rom. 1:8 was known "all over the world" and, according to Acts, had extremist followers and whose followers were known to Suetonius as per Nero 16), or someone else who is otherwise unknown.
  • Fair enough (though, as I indicated above, I'd be cautious about Acts)
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by davidlau17 »

It seems a bit odd to me that Suetonius would use the name "Chresto" to refer to Christ (and simply calls followers of this character Jews) when he later uses the term "Christiani" to refer to Christians. This might indicate that the latter is an interpolation.
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by Sinouhe »

davidlau17 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:01 pm It seems a bit odd to me that Suetonius would use the name "Chresto" to refer to Christ (and simply calls followers of this character Jews) when he later uses the term "Christiani" to refer to Christians. This might indicate that the latter is an interpolation.
That's exactly the point of Polydor Hochart. He consider the mention of christiani in Suetonius as an interpolation.
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by John2 »

MrMacSon wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:43 pm
John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm Suetonius writes about a disturbance in Rome instigated by someone called Chrestus ("Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome," Claudius 25), and while I suppose this could refer to someone besides Jesus (which would be fine with me, if so), I'm inclined to think it is Jesus.
  • Claudius 25 is about Jews in Rome. It's not clear who or even what Chrestus is/was, or if that entity was ever in Rome

But as I said in the OP, "since Jesus wasn't in Jerusalem or even alive at the time of this disturbance [in Jerusalem in Acts], his presence would not have been necessary for Christians to cause a similar disturbance in Rome.



John2 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:27 pm
Acts 18:1-2 mentions this expulsion and two Christians who were affected by it who are also mentioned in Rom. 16:3-4.
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who have risked their lives for me.
  • I think that's a stretch

If Acts knows Paul's letters (and I think it does), then it knows that Prisca and Aquila were Christians, and since it associates them with Claudius' expulsion of Jews from Rome which Suetonius blames on Chrestus, I'm inclined to see Chrestus as Jesus, all the more so given Rom. 13, which implores Christians in Rome to submit to the governing authorities and engage in good conduct, which implies that some Christians in Rome were not submitting to the governing authorities or engaging in good conduct, like the followers of Chrestus.



Acts is not reliable as history. It uses the Pauline epistles, but even then often mispresents them

But its presentation of extremist Christians is in keeping with Rom. 13.
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by MrMacSon »

davidlau17 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:01 pm It seems a bit odd to me that Suetonius would use the name "Chresto" to refer to Christ (and simply calls followers of this character Jews) when he later uses the term "Christiani" to refer to Christians. This might indicate that the latter is an interpolation.
That's a good point. and, in another thread, Giuseppe has raised the prospect that what we refer to as "Chresto" was XPO. So, it'd be interesting to see the extant source manuscript for both terms ie. XPO and "Christiani"

fwiw, a note, in some English versions of Claudius 25, after 'Chrestus' has, "Suetonius has already, in Tiberius, C. xxxvi.a, mentioned the expulsion of the Jews from Rome ...". The note goes on to say, "this passage confirms the conjecture, offered in the note, that the Christians were obscurely alluded to in the former notice. The antagonism between Christianity and Judaism appears to have given rise to the tumults which first led the authorities to interfere ...". but I reckon that can be taken with a grain of salt.

a Suetonius, 'Claudius Tiberius Nero Caesar,' aka Tiberius XXXVI [in turn, in Twelve Caesars]

XXXVI. He suppressed all foreign religions, and the Egyptian1 and Jewish rites, obliging those who practised that kind of superstition, to burn their vestments, and all their sacred utensils. He distributed the Jewish youths, under the pretence of military service, among the provinces noted for an unhealthy climate; and dismissed from the city all the rest of that nation as well as those who were proselytes to that religion [similia sectantes],2 under pain of slavery for life, unless they complied. He also expelled the astrologers; but upon their suing for pardon, and promising to renounce their profession, he revoked his decree.

https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/te ... apter%3D36

1 "Tiberius pulled down the temple of Isis, caused her image to be thrown into the Tiber, and crucified her priests."- Joseph. Ant. Jud. xviii. 4.

2 'Similia sectantes'. We are strongly inclined to think that the words might be rendered "similar sects", conveying an allusion to the small and obscure body of Christians, who were at this period [supposedly] generally confounded with the Jews, and supposed only to differ from them in some peculiarities of their institutions, which Roman historians and magistrates did not trouble themselves to distinguish. How little even the well-informed Suetonius knew of the [supposed] real facts, we shall find in the only direct notice of the Christians contained in his works (Claudius, C. xxv; Nero, C. xvi.); but that little confirms our conjecture. All the commentators, however, give the passage the turn retained in the text. Josephus informs us of the particular occurrence which led to the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius.- Ant. xviii. 5.3


3 I can't find Josephus informs us of expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius in Antiquities xviii, 5.* All I can find reference to is reference to Jews in relation to Josephus' account of John the Baptist in Ant 18.5.2,] ending with

"Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him"

And, where Vitellius,
"with Herod the tetrarch and his friends, went up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice to God, an ancient festival of the Jews being then just approaching; and when he had been there, and been honorably entertained by the multitude of the Jews, he made a stay there for three days, within which time he deprived Jonathan of the high priesthood, and gave it to his brother Theophilus"

There's also,

"Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus, went up to Rome, a year before the death of Tiberius, in order to treat of some affairs with the emperor, if he might be permitted so to do"

but that is not specific about what 'affairs' he 'treated'.

* ETA: I think that is supposed to be Antiquities 18.3.5

5. There was a man who was a Jew, but had been driven away from his own country by an accusation laid against him for transgressing their laws, and by the fear he was under of punishment for the same; but in all respects a wicked man. He, then living at Rome, professed to instruct men in the wisdom of the laws of Moses. He procured also three other men, entirely of the same character with himself, to be his partners. These men persuaded Fulvia, a woman of great dignity, and one that had embraced the Jewish religion, to send purple and gold to the temple at Jerusalem; and when they had gotten them, they employed them for their own uses, and spent the money themselves, on which account it was that they at first required it of her. Whereupon Tiberius, who had been informed of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made about it, ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome; at which time the consuls listed four thousand men out of them, and sent them to the island Sardinia; but punished a greater number of them, who were unwilling to become soldiers, on account of keeping the laws of their forefathers (11). Thus were these Jews banished out of the city by the wickedness of four men. https://sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-18.htm

Last edited by MrMacSon on Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:38 pm, edited 5 times in total.
John2
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by John2 »

davidlau17 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:01 pm It seems a bit odd to me that Suetonius would use the name "Chresto" to refer to Christ (and simply calls followers of this character Jews) when he later uses the term "Christiani" to refer to Christians. This might indicate that the latter is an interpolation.

To me this is similar to the account of the disturbance in Jerusalem in Acts 21, which calls followers of Jesus Jews, when it had previously called them Christians (or Chrestians). If Acts calls Jesus' followers Jews and Christians (or Chrestians), why is it odd if Suetonius does it?


21:20-28:

Then they said to Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. But they are under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs ...

When the seven days were almost over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches everywhere against our people and against our law and against this place."

11:26:

The disciples were first called Christians [or Chrestians] at Antioch.
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Re: Was Chrestus Jesus?

Post by MrMacSon »

fwiw, a note in relation to 'Chrestos' in Suetonius' Claudius 25 includes


" ... Acts xviii. 2, mentions the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the emperor Claudius: Dio, however, says that he did not expel them, but only forbad their religious assemblies ..."

1. https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/te ... 3D25#note5
2. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/6400/64 ... nknote-528


Acts 18.2 (as in John2's OP)

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome ...

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