Debate with Paul Myers · Paulogia also doesn't get what is reasonable evidence for 1st C events · Holy Koolaid attacked Bible History with HolyKoolaid Tries to Back Up his Attack Against Exodus · Paulogia took on the Tower
Here is his video:
Are there authentic secular writings about Jesus? - Creation Today Claims
Paulogia | 20.XI.2018
Here are my comments:
- 4:33 "in that time period virtually noone knew who Jesus was"
Up to what exact year?
Among what exact non-Christian sources, and how likely would their topic have been to include Him if they knew of Him?
Varro and Velleius Paterculus didn't know who Jesus was. But Varro died (as I recall, it was ten years or so since I took this) 4 AD, and Velleius Paterculus finishes his Roman History in 16th year of Tiberius, and the last chapters are just very sketchy praise of Tiberius' excellent judgement (it involves praise of Seianus, whose protégé Pilate was, a praise which was soon to be very untimely). And this is AD 30, exactly when Our Lord started gathering disciples.
How likely is Pliny the Elder to include a reference? He did write a history too, and coud have included one there, but it's lost. Perhaps it's lost bc of such a reference, or perhaps simply bc some non flattered Emperor was still around to arrange a book burning. His Naturalis Historia does include contemporary historic references, but on a gossip press level, and when it suits another subject. Such and such a tree has an excellent platform for building a platform in ... and guess if Caligula enjoyed tree house squatting while already an adult ... such and such a fish can stop a boat (normally it can't) and guess if Caligula pardoned the rowers when he found out they were being stopped by it .... (and guess why Pliny claimed it could stop a boat).
- 5:44 Wow! A sceptic who says sceptics don't need to watch Zeitgeist either!
Hood down (which I had anyway, but as I wear a hoodie, "hat off" would be inappropriate to my situation)!
- 6:43 The question is posed in a way so as to make the criteria for a yes just larger than those which would admit a yes, a few.
It also presumes there were lots of historians.
After the taking of Jerusalem you have Josephus, a little later you have Tacitus, Dio Cassius and Sueton. Every one of them mentions Jesus in some way, Josephus mentions some considering Him as the Messiah (note, he doesn't say he agrees!) and the other three mention him as founder of the Christian community. This Christian community is also mentioned in Pliny the Younger who corresponds with Trajan or Hadrian (forget which of them) on the criteria for prosecuting them.
Livy can be left out, since for one thing his history only goes into the reign of Augustus and for another the last books of his history are all lost. He cannot even serve to corroborate Caesar's conquest of Gaul, what's left of him now.
Philo gives a parallel to Josephus' Antiquities (hence we have his comments on Genesis 1:1 which have some notoriety in our internal YEC debate, some old earthers like to cite him as giving an alternative to YEC, though "not in time" doesn't suggest "over long periods to me"), but no parallel to Josephus' On the Jewish War.
A Samarian historian has his text lacking and so do a few Roman ones, who are cited by Tacitus, Dio and Sueton - in scarce excerpt. These excerpts would not give us enugh to go on whether they included any reference.
Seneca the Elder was a rhetor : he wrote speeches between Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra about how to deal with Iphigeneia, as this was a fairly safe waty to train rhetoric compared to doing law cases based on contemporary stories. Seneca the Younger was a Stoic who believed everything is one and who gave small tweets of advice on how to be moral (notably in immoral surroundings, which he and Burrus would have been fairly expert on, if we trust Tacitus on their fate). I forget which of them was also a tragedian playwright and unlike Aeschylus Persians, Roman tragedy then did NOT do contemporary news stories.
So, exactly how can one subscribe to the premiss there were "several historians"?
There were few, those who do contemporary after AD 30 and who are preserved to a man mention him, but the mentions are too short to fulfill the specifics of the supposed straightforward question. So, I would say there went some bias into formulating it. One framed it so as to give an impressive no, when asked with an alternative specific - Jesus founder of Christian community - you get the answer at least four non-Christians. Or at least three, I forget if there were references in Dio too.
Wait, I copy paste from google hit 1:
// Never rely only on a source [overall when the source is generalist and it's about a very wide corpus of works, like the one written by Cassius Dio].
First of all, his background of Roman citizen of the high society [Senator, console] probably carried him to ignore a young and odd cult like the Christian one [not "embedded" in the Roman Civitas]. And his approach to history was not that sociological.
Then, Cassius mentions the Christians
Check book 70, 3.
He mentions Antonino and his good policy also towards Christians. //
Next commenter says this is not from the preserved original text, but from an epitomiser.
I checked Philo, was partly wrong. There are two works dealing with contemporary matters:
// "In Flaccum" and "De Legatione ad Caium," an account of the Alexandrian persecution of the Jews under Caligula. This account, consisting originally of five books, has been preserved in fragments only (see Schürer, l.c. pp. 525 et seq.). Philo intended to show the fearful punishment meted out by God to the persecutors of the Jews (on Philo's predilection for similar discussions see Siegfried, "Philo von Alexandria," p. 157). //
But the context makes these two works too narrow in scope to mention Jesus, so they are no test on whether he knew of Him. And the other ones are too remote in scope.
Plus, he could have a strong bias for not mentioning Him:
// It was either his father or paternal grandfather who was granted Roman citizenship from Roman dictator Gaius Julius Caesar. Jerome wrote that Philo came "de genere sacerdotum" (from a priestly family). His ancestors and family had social ties and connections to the priesthood in Judea, the Hasmonean dynasty, the Herodian dynasty and the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Rome. //
- 7:13 "Gospels are anonymous"
Not according to Papias.
- 7:47 Where are the contemporary sources for the life of Jesus?
Well, where are the contemporary sources for the LIFE of Caligula?
There aren't any either. Pliny the Elder, as mentioned, gives lots of episodes - uniformly introduced in relation to other topics. But only in Tacitus, Sueton and Dio Cassius do we find a beginning to end account of his carreer.
The questioner likes to take "contemporary" very strictly, like not even one generation delay, and he excludes the Gospels which on our view do fulfill the criterium. But there are no authors contemporary to that generation which do narrative history of contemporary events and are preserved to us.
If Tacitus is good enough evidence why Labienus wrote in Nero's time (even if Labienus, nicknamed Rabienus, is lost), why is Papias not good evidence about the Four Gospels (which are btw preserved)?
- 8:11 I am sorry, but when you say "lifetimes after the events they describe" you are not only flouting Church Tradition about authorship, you are even flouting Bible scholars of a less conservative type (like guys who do Markan priority). You are basically repeating the idiocies of Voltaire, which were only his wishful thinking.
- 8:40 You showed Carrier as a "credentialled scholar" ... how about checking the exact nature of his credentials?
"In 2008, Carrier received a doctorate in ancient history from Columbia University, where he studied the history of science in antiquity. His thesis was entitled "Attitudes Towards the Natural Philosopher in the Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)." He has published several articles and chapters in books on the subject of history and philosophy."
I don't think this is directly per se credentialling his ability to assess historic facts about antiquity. What did his subject take? A deep dive into Catilinarian conjuration and assessing how do we know Catilina existed? No, simply looking up author after author through the 4 centuries mentioned and see what each had to say about "the natural philosopher".
So, if I really want to know what Cicero thought of astronomy, fine, Carrier can tell if I lack access to Cicero or find it daunting to search him, but this has no bearing on his ability to assess what authors can be consulted on Catilina.
Or in a sense he arguably would know as a side point, that Catilina is mentioned and adressed in speeches by Cicero
quousque tandem abutere Catilina patientia nostra? quem ad finem sese effreneta iactabit audacia?
(A very biassed source, by the way, like Churchill is a very biassed one about Hitler)
Then you have Sallust and you have - but not for Catilina! - Caesar also writing about the end of what we call the Republic.
Like, for the years 30 to 33 and ensuing years to captivity of St Paul, you have also three authors from the actual time doing full length narrative accounts : Matthew, Mark, Luke. Their contemporary colleagues between Velleius and Josephus are lost.
- 9:23 Did Caesar identify himself in the text of Bellum Gallicum? If not, does that make the work an anonymous source?
You are playing around with criteria for dismissal which would dismiss normal, all sides agreeing, history as well.
9:35 How if it was instead Mark who copied Matthew?
St. Clement the Stromatist gives this account. St. Luke decided to write a Gospel. He knew of many attempts (many is more than 3, so he can't mean just the other three!) and thought he could do better. He did a work. Then he went to St. Peter in Rome to get authorisation for his work to be actually read in Church. St. Peter had a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel (the earliest!) lying around, and he started reading from both Matthew and Luke jumping between them, but his secretary Mark thought he was dictating a Gospel (he must have been good ad Tironian notes, the then sthenography) and started to write down what he said.
Note very well, the traditional view of authorships is St. Mark depending on St. Matthew (and perhaps St. Luke too) and not other way round.
- 11:03 Forgery or interpolation?
How about Josephus simply being concise in giving the report he had heard from someone else and his perhaps not sharing the view?
How about not bringing up the Jewish taboo, as if we know Josephus was all his life in good standing with the Jews, when in fact at one time he had to ask the Emperor for help against Jews excommunicating him?
How about acknowledging the Jewish attitude was only being crystallised about that time, so one could expect ... shall we say "outliers" or am I misusing this English word?
- 12:23 "startling deeds"
Need not have referred to miracles, per se, though I think Josephus believed them (certainly some later Jews did, when considering he was "Yeshu" come back from Alexandria with magic tattoos - but the Yeshu in question if not totally a lampoon on Him, was a generation or two earlier).
Could have been about things like driving traders from Temple or roaming the countryside with disciples or eating bread with no washing of hands first ... things to which he could be attaching some meaning. The one of the Temple being obvious, and highly to the point in the time when he wrote after its destruction.
- 12:25 "textual discrepancies"
Only a question of divergent translations from the Greek.
Teacher of "men" or of "people"? Greek has "anthropon" which translates men = human beings, but not men = adult males. So, one would be traditionally translating "men" and the other would think "that sounds too much adult males, I'll take people instead". In German it would be Menschen, in Swedish menniskor ...
- 14:08 Rather than events that are historically verified?
I am sorry, but the main historical verification for most events is precisely what people believed.
Sure, some affairs we also have narratives from participants, unfiltered, but usually we have what people around believed to have happened. For battle of Crécy, I can see a list of the primary sources we have, these being Medieval ...
The Anonimalle Chronicle, 1333–1381. Edited by V.H. Galbraith. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1927.
Avesbury, Robert of. De gestis mirabilibus regis Edwardi Tertii. Edited by Edward Maunde Thompson. London: Rolls Series, 1889.
Dene, William of. Historia Roffensis. British Library, London.
French Chronicle of London. Edited by G.J. Aungier. Camden Series XXVIII, 1844.
Froissart, Jean. Chronicles. Edited and Translated by Geoffrey Brereton. London: Penguin Books, 1978.
Grandes chroniques de France. Edited by Jules Viard. Paris: Société de l'histoire de France, 1920–53.
Gray, Sir Thomas. Scalacronica. Edited and Translated by Sir Herbert Maxwell. Edinburgh: Maclehose, 1907.
Le Baker, Geoffrey. Chronicles in English Historical Documents. Edited by David C Douglas. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Le Bel, Jean. Chronique de Jean le Bel. Edited by Eugene Deprez and Jules Viard. Paris: Honore Champion, 1977.
Rotuli Parliamentorum. Edited by J. Strachey et al., 6 vols. London: 1767–83.
St. Omers Chronicle. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS 693, fos. 248–279v. (Currently being edited and translated into English by Clifford J. Rogers)
Venette, Jean. The Chronicle of Jean de Venette. Edited and Translated by Jean Birdsall. New York: Columbia University Press, 1953.
Only one of them [I haven't checked Venette, I missed him], cited by Froissard, is scrupulous to write only what he had witnessed or people he cites had witnessed. But even Jean Le Bel then does cite things he had not witnessed himself on trust of others who had done so.
It does not mention if Crécy is among the things Jean Le Bel had seen or among the things he had heard reports of ...
- 14:51 There is no reasonable doubt Eusebius was quoting Africanus correctly. There is no reasonable doubt Africanus was quoting Thallus correctly - precisely as there is no reasonable doubt Tacitus was quoting Labienus correctly on something that Nero did.
There is a very huge difference between citing what you heard in a whisper and citing what you have read. Telephone game exits from comparisons.
Again, your criterium is such we cannot properly know Nero was suspected at the time of plotting to have his mother killed.
15:26 There was a fearful darkness on the land.
This much is clear from Thallus being quoted in the context.
You ask Carrier how likely Thallus was of being good at astronomy. Bc a mid Jewish calendar month eclipse is physically impossible.
Here is the deal. When Africanus wrote, Thallus was still around. Otherwise he couldn't have quoted him.
OK, just possibly he could have made up an author and a quote and then told people it seems no one can find Thallus "any more" ... but if so, he would have been up against questions like "where did you read him?"
Again, it is just possible he attribued to a then extant Thallus whom others could consult a passage about a darkness which wasn't in the text at all, or wasn't the right year or wasn't the right land (i e wasn't Holy Land). But if so people would have asked Africanus things like "wait, were you saying this was during the Crucifixion of a man in Palestine?" and added "I had heard there was a very visible eclipse in the 23 year of Tiberius, but it was in Rome, my grandfather saw it".
Again, it is just possible Thallus didn't explain it as an eclipse, but then Africanus would have been answering charges of strawmanning ....
It is however, for the right time, namely on a 14th Nisan, which is uniformly always at or near full moon (precisely as a 14th Ramadan with Muslims!) impossible it was an actual eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. At full moon, as Thallus may have ignored and as Africanus would not have ignored, Sun and Moon are opposite sides of Earth.
So here is an alternative view on why we don't have Thallus : Africanus won the day. He discredited Thallus and those interested in that question would prefer Africanus over Thallus, those who weren't would shun both. Later, Africanus is cited at a time when he is losing ground (people like Rob Skiba would really like it to be over his theology being anti-Nicene, not just his writings ante-Nicene). So, now we know of him through Eusebius.
- 16:20 "if so, this passage" [Pliny the Younger, I think] "merely tells us that"
You are depending heavily on Carrier's views against Euhemerism.
Euhemerism in general means, like Hercules and Romulus were men who were then taken to be gods, even Athena, Zeus, Saturn had been men and had been mistaken for gods.
Carrier's view is the opposite, namely that something called Euhemerisation happens to gods like Hercules. First Hercules was worshipped as a god, then this god for some - to me not very explicable - reason is projected onto the streets of Tiryns and Mycenae ...
So, Carrier says, Christians first worshipped Jesus as a "heavenly being" and then "euhemerised" Him in this sense : projecting Him to the streets of Jerusalem and Kapharnaum and to the country roads between Galilee and Judaea.
This is not very likely ... religious cults may add layers of divinity to a gone leader, they are not likely to add layers of humanity to a pure divinity. And yes, I think Hercules and Romulus existed. As people.
Let's continue with Tacitus:
Tacitus would not have called Christianity a superstition for making supernatural claims, he doesn't use that word about omens at the death of Agrippina.
To Tacitus, a "superstition" is not "making a supernatural claim" but "living by absurd observances" (most michieveously not sacrificing to the emperor's genius). Example : Horace speaks of sabbaths and new moons as Jewish superstitions. Those were the ones relevant for his excuse against testifying in court as cited (Ibam forte via sacra).
It's like calling kosher food a "superstition" because it allows the Beth Din to give authorisations that the department of health cannot give to a butchery.
- 18:26 You are missing that Greg and Craig are pronounced differently.
Christós and Chrestós (differing with iota vs eta) were definitely spelled differently and at this time already pronounced the same. The Greg / Craig parallel would have done if we were speaking of 300 BC Athens. Newsflash, we aren't. Aristoteles Savalas is nicknamed Telly, not Tellay. And the date for this transition is known.
- 18:45 Now, the evidence about a historic character existing are usually what people believed.
How do I know Jules Verne existed?
Novels attributed to him are there, but you are on record as a sceptic about authorships.
People believe he existed ... but you just now make a distinction between evidence for a belief about historic fact and evidence for a historic fact itself. Some can visit his tomb .... can you spell Holy Sepulchre?
Everyone I spoke to believes Hitler (at least to all appearances) lost in 1945 and Germany was invaded by three powers from the West and Soviets from the East. This belief is my best clue to Germany actually losing independence for a while in 1945.
The thing is, Sueton is not saying what Christians believed in his time, but what Christians believed back in the time of Emperor Claudius.
The further back a belief about a fact can be traced, the more likely it is to actually reflect the fact itself.
- 18:52 Neither Pliny the Younger, nor Tacitus, nor Sueton are discussing whether the supernatural events happened or didn't happen. When they speak of "mischievous religious belief" or "pernicious superstition" it is simply a question of this belief separating Christians from the common hum drum life of a well integrated Roman.
Les Éblouis by Sarah Suco is not discussing whether Christianity is true or false, just saying that this charismatic resident group was committing "child abuse" by asking the children to have a prayer life. (I haven't seen it, it seems to involve some now populistic charge about child abuse in the sexual sense too).
And that is the precise level of these critiques given against Christianity, therefore it cannot be used to dismiss historicity of miracles.
A very curious fact is, Sarah Suco lived from 8 to 18 within a community, she is now 35 and is making the movie AND she says in an interview it took her years to identify what happened as a sect.
In the movie, it ends with the main character contacting the police.
Obviously, that part is not based on her own memories from the experience ...
- 20:15 As a parallel to your request for non-Christian confirmation of miracles, how about non-Roman confirmation Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, from 1st C. BC?
Velleius Paterculus covers it, in or a bit before AD 30, but he is very clearly subservient to the Caesar family which is in power.