Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Leucius Charinus
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Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

In 1910 Arthur Drews published a study [1] of the non-Christian witnesses to the historicity of Jesus . Drews discussed the Jewish witnesses to Jesus such as Philo, Justus of Tiberias, Josephus and the Talmud. And then the Roman witnesses such as Pliny, Suetonius and Tacitus. Drew’s study examined the ground of the 1st and early 2nd century for any references to Jesus. Drews drew a blank. There was a silence about Jesus from the 1st century. Wally was not found by all investigators.

This present study sets out to identify non-Christian authors of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or early 4th centuries who make some reference to the early Christians. The historicity of the early Christians is assured by masses of Christian authors. But what do the non Christian authors have to say about the Christians, or the New Testament, or the early church? Or did they say absolutely nothing at all? And the church industry could not help but to fill in the gaps?

This list is supposed to be comprehensive. Who’s missing from it?

Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

DATE --- Non-Christian Author and text,

BCE-BCE Erythraean Sibyl
106-043 Cicero translates Sibyl’s acrostic
040 BCE Virgil - advent of Christ predicted
BCE-100 Dead Sea Scrolls - theories?
030-033 King Abgar of Edessa - the letter
030-033 Letter from Herod Antipas to Pilate
034-034 Letter from Pilate to Tiberius
034-037 Report of Tiberius to the Senate
093-094 Josephus Flavius - TF18
093-094 Josephus Flavius - Antiquity 20
050-065 Seneca - correspondence with "Paul"
054-305 Nero to Diocletian: Persecutions

101-112 Pliny the Younger Ep 10:97
101-112 Emperor Trajan - Dear Pliny
115-116 Tacitus - Annals 15:44
117-138 Hadrian - Letter to Servianus
118-119 Suetonius - (Nero 16)
118-119 Suetonius - (Claudius 25)
122-122 Hadrian - Letter to Minicius Fundanus
125-125 Aristides the Philosopher - Apology
150-150 Antoninus - Epistle to assembly of Asia;
100-160 Fronto - Against; Minucius Felix
170-180 Marcus Aurelius - Letter to Senate
170-180 Marcus Aurelius - Meditations 11:3
170-180 Lucian - Life of Peregrine
170-180 Lucian - Alexander the Prophet
170-180 Lucian - The Patriot
170-180 Lucian - The Timarion
175-177 Celsus - True Discourse
180-200 Galen - Greek: "On the Pulse" 2 refs
180-200 Galen - Arabic: "On the Prime Mover"
180-200 Galen - Arabic: "Platonic Dialogues"
160-350 Talmud = Babylonian; Jerusalem

230-235 Cassius Dio - Epitome by Xiphilinus
240-270 Mani - Various writings
260-270 Plotinus
270-275 Aurelian - Letter about Sibylline Books
280-303 Porphyry = Against the Christians; VP
290-303 Sossianus Hierocles - Lover of Truth
280-380 Historia Augusta = 10 further refs


DISCUSSION

The provisional conclusion of this study is that all of the above references are best explained as either interpolations or forgeries undertaken by the Nicene church industry of the 4th and subsequent centuries. The implication is that the early Christians may not have existed in history and that the Nicene Church industry fabricated for itself a pseudo-historical origin.

Or are some of these references genuine and authentic? How do we know? Not everyone will agree with the interpretation of the evidence that it has been systematically corrupted. This is part of a larger study of evidence concerning the terminus ad quem (latest possible date) for Christian origins. A map of the evidence in a schematic form is available. [2]


[1] The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (1912) by Arthur Drews, translated by Joseph McCabe
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Witn ... y_of_Jesus

[2] Evidence Map: Chronology of the components of Christian Literature
https://www.academia.edu/78665273/Evide ... Literature
gmx
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by gmx »

What about non-manuscript evidence ? Christian artifacts, inscriptions, catacombs ?

And what of Christian documents themselves? Are they not evidence of Christians ?
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

gmx wrote: Tue Aug 30, 2022 3:35 pm What about non-manuscript evidence ? Christian artifacts, inscriptions, catacombs ?
The archeology and physical manuscripts are dealt with separately in accordance to the map of the evidence linked above, along with a description of the map which is reproduced below. Obviously all this evidence has to be interpreted.

Image

(For some reason the image wont display. It appears to open in a new tab.)
And what of Christian documents themselves? Are they not evidence of Christians ?
A study of the Christian literature has introduced a classification system as follows:

Christian literature

The three major classes are these:

(1) New Testament Canonical literature (NTC) including the LXX or Septuagint.

(2) New Testament Apocryphal literature (NTA) including the Nag Hammadi Codices (NHC).

(3) Ecclesiastical History (EH) - which can be further classed as consisting of:
EH1 - Orthodox doctrines, preservation of NTC, creeds, lists of bishops,
collected commentaries, attestations to NT readings, patristic comments, expositions, sermons, testimonia, early church "fathers", etc;
EH2 - Persecution by Roman emperors - political history;
EH3 - Martyrology;
EH4 – Hagiography;
EH5 - Cult of Saints and Martyrs;
EH6 - Holy Relic Trade;
EH7 - Heresiology - Heresy, Heresiologists, Heretics, Heresiarchs and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
The map of the evidence is completed by

(4) Non-Christian literary sources [the subject of this thread] and

(5) Archaeological evidence.

Also Showing proposed alternative chronology for the composition of the NTA (325-337 CE), NHC and the subsequent forgery of EH7 (heresiology).

This map of the evidence aims to be comprehensive. As to the question whether any of this evidence establishes the historicity of the early Christians the answers will depend upon how each investigator interprets the evidence. The evidence is mute. It does not speak. The investigator must introduce hypotheses to make it speak.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Some discussion on some of the items listed in the OP.

Non-Christian Literature

pp.5-6

Richard Carrier helpfully states that “Christians were shameless liars, and ancient Christian forgery (and document meddling) was rampant” [10]. The historian Arnaldo Momigliano more helpfully recounts that “one is never simple-minded enough about the condemnation of forgeries. Pious frauds are frauds, for which one must show no piety - and no pity.” [11]

Carrier, unlike some mainstream scholars, allows the Christian references in Suetonius, Tacitus, and Josephus to have been later interpolations by the church industry. He then (along with mainstream scholarship) relies on the Christian references in the following authors to be genuine: Pliny, Trajan, Celsus, Porphyry, Fronto, Hierocles, Galen, Marcus Aurelius, Lucian, Epictetus. Let’s look at a sample of these.

The Christian reference in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is classed as a margin gloss or interpolation by at least two Greek translators, Maxwell Staniforth (1964) and Gregory Hays (2003). The reference to “Galileans” in Epictetus is not a reference to Christians but rather to the lawless inhabitants of Galilee. In regard to Celsus “it is indeed impossible to be certain that Celsus is fairly represented by the texts Origen quotes to refute him”. The same applies to Hierocles and Fronto. In all cases we are reliant upon later Christians quoting the original author.

The letter exchange in Pliny’s 10th book with Trajan containing reference to the Christians has been questioned by scholars on a number of grounds. Among the eighty-two works of Lucian known to A.M. Harmon (Loeb, 1913) at least fifteen forgeries are listed, some of which are clearly Christian forgeries (e.g., Philopatris).

In regard to the writings of Porphyry, aside from other writings forged in his name, “Life of Plotinus” (Chapter 16) is [better adduced as] an interpolation motivated in order to have Porphyry attest to the 3rd century existence of such books as Zostrianus and Allogenes (found in the Nag Hammadi codices). When this section 16 is removed from the text, there is a smooth flow of narrative between sections 15 and 17. The Nicene Church industry variously both preserved and/or supposedly consigned to the flames, the literature of Porphyry. They were in control of the libraries, the preservation of literature and the education system. It is suggested that “Life of Plotinus” (16) be referred to as the Testimonium Porphyrianum.

One of the four Christian references in the voluminous writings of Galen should in the future be referred to as the Testimonium Galenium. From his summary of Plato's Republic:
  • "In the religious community of the followers of Christ there are most admirable people who frequently act according to perfect virtue; and this is to be seen not only in their men but in their women as well." And I see that he admires them for their virtue, and although he is a man whose position is known and whose opposition to Judaism and Christianity is manifest and clear to everybody who has studied his books and knows what he states in them, he nevertheless cannot deny the excellent qualities which the Christians display in their virtuous activities."
Shades of the Testimonium Flavianum. Such a glowing reference by Galen is simply too good to be true. Where Arthur Drews studied the non-Christian witnesses to the historicity of Jesus, this present study concerns the non-Christian witnesses to the historicity of the early Christians.

The results of this study do not look good because the utterly corrupt Christian church industry seem to have fabricated references to their prior existence in a selection of supposedly independent pagan literature.

The church industry between the 4th century and the later middle ages has simply corrupted non-Christian literature with interpolations and forgeries designed to support the assertion that a “nation of Christians” coexisted in the empire before the 4th century. What motivated the church industry to do this? Could it be that they had problems substantiating their claims? Setting aside the church dogma and our beliefs, what does the archaeological evidence have to say?


[10] No, Christianity Was Not Invented in the 4th Century • Richard Carrier
https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/18047

[11] p.7, On Pagans, Jews and Christians: Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987


Extracted from:
Carrier and the Mainstream Dating Game:
Defending a 4th century "terminus ad quem" for Christian Origins

https://www.academia.edu/60176264/Carri ... an_Origins

Nasruddin
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Nasruddin »

Anyone else seen all this before? It goes nowhere.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Nasruddin wrote: Wed Aug 31, 2022 2:59 pm Anyone else seen all this before? It goes nowhere.
Here's what most people may have seen before. Biblical scholarship of various flavors presenting various items listed above in the OP as evidence in support of the historicity of Jesus and the Christians. Sorry for striking out Jesus but the OP is not necessarily interested in Jesus. The OP seeks non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians.

What did the pagans say? Or were they silent?

The following pages cite the non Christian sources as evidence for Jesus and the Christians. And obviously they are claiming that these are genuine and authentic sources.


* The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Gary Habermas)
Chapter IX - Ancient Non-Christian Sources
https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/ ... s_fac_pubs

* The Bart Erhman Blog: Non-Christian Sources for Jesus
https://ehrmanblog.org/non-christian-so ... story-com/

* Capturing Christianity: Did Jesus Actually Exist? (Non-Christian Sources)
https://capturingchristianity.com/jesus ... n-sources/

* Rational Christianity: Extra-biblical references to Jesus and Christianity
https://www.rationalchristianity.net/je ... rabib.html

* WIKI: Sources for the historicity of Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_f ... an_sources

* GOOGLE: non Christian sources
https://www.google.com/search?q=non+chr ... references

But are these references genuine and authentic?

IMO it may be argued that in fact none of these references are either genuine or authentic - and therefore do not represent historical evidence for the existence of the "Early Christians". On the contrary it may be argued that all of this so-called evidence may be best explained as interpolations or forgeries by the church industry between the 4th century and the later middle ages.


If anyone here thinks that any of these non Christian literary references represent genuine and authentic historical evidence for the historical existence of the "Early Christians" then present your favorite reference for discussion.

Except for the TF - "A rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too" (Bishop Warburton of Gloucester, 1762). I have grown weary of discussing this fraud. Find something else.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

MrMacSon wrote: Sun Aug 28, 2022 1:13 amThe references to early Christianity in the works of Lucian and Plotinus, at least
In addition to Porphyry's "Life of Plotinus" (Chapter 16) --- which I claim should be referred to as the Testimonium Porphyrianum, an interpolation like the "TF" --- there is the supposed anti-Gnostic reference in the chapter heading of the Ninth Tractate of the Second Ennead by Plotinus. This is often generally quoted and cited with the description "Against the Gnostics".

However the actual title of this tractate is: AGAINST THOSE THAT AFFIRM THE CREATOR OF THE KOSMOS AND THE KOSMOS ITSELF TO BE EVIL.

What other supposed "Christian references" are located in the writings of Plotinus? None that I am aware of.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Highlighting FRAUD: Forgery or Interpolation of sources

Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

DATE --- Non-Christian Author and text,

BCE-BCE Erythraean Sibyl
106-043 Cicero translates Sibyl’s acrostic
040 BCE Virgil - advent of Christ predicted
BCE-100 Dead Sea Scrolls - theories?
030-033 King Abgar of Edessa - the letter
030-033 Letter from Herod Antipas to Pilate
034-034 Letter from Pilate to Tiberius
034-037 Report of Tiberius to the Senate
093-094 Josephus Flavius - TF18
093-094 Josephus Flavius - Antiquity 20
050-065 Seneca - correspondence with "Paul"
054-305 Nero to Diocletian: Persecutions

101-112 Pliny the Younger Ep 10:97
101-112 Emperor Trajan - Dear Pliny
115-116 Tacitus - Annals 15:44
117-138 Hadrian - Letter to Servianus
118-119 Suetonius - (Nero 16)
118-119 Suetonius - (Claudius 25)
122-122 Hadrian - Letter to Minicius Fundanus
125-125 Aristides the Philosopher - Apology
150-150 Antoninus - Epistle to assembly of Asia;
100-160 *** Fronto - Against; Minucius Felix
170-180 Marcus Aurelius - Letter to Senate
170-180 Marcus Aurelius - Meditations 11:3
170-180 Lucian - Life of Peregrine
170-180 Lucian - Alexander the Prophet
170-180 Lucian - The Patriot
170-180 Lucian - The Timarion
175-177 *** Celsus - True Discourse
180-200 Galen - Greek: "On the Pulse" 2 refs
180-200 Galen - Arabic: "On the Prime Mover"
180-200 Galen - Arabic: "Platonic Dialogues"
160-350 Talmud = Babylonian; Jerusalem

230-235 Cassius Dio - Epitome by Xiphilinus
240-270 Mani - Various writings
260-270 Plotinus
270-275 Aurelian - Letter about Sibylline Books
280-303 Porphyry = Against the Christians; VP
290-303 *** Sossianus Hierocles - Lover of Truth
280-380 Historia Augusta = 10 further refs

*** In regard to Celsus “it is indeed impossible to be certain that Celsus is fairly represented by the texts Origen quotes to refute him”. The same applies to Hierocles and Fronto


SUMMARY

The results of this study do not look good. What the evidence presented above suggests is that the church has simply fabricated references to their prior historical existence in a selection of supposedly independent pagan literature.

Or am I missing something? Why were the non Christian authors silent about the Christians before the Nicene council? Any ideas out there?
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by schillingklaus »

Those early persecutions (before Emperor Decius) only exists in the blooming fanatasy of apologists like Ehrman.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Non-Christian Literary Witnesses to the Historicity of Early Christians

Post by Leucius Charinus »

schillingklaus wrote: Fri Sep 16, 2022 12:50 am Those early persecutions (before Emperor Decius) only exists in the blooming fanatasy of apologists like Ehrman.
Even the supposed persecution by Diocletian is IMO questionable. Our primary sources for this - the latest and greatest persecution - are the literary sources of the three high profile Christians Eusebius, Constantine and Lactantius. What could possibly go wrong believing what these sources might have to say?

http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/imper ... stians.htm
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