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Old 04-23-2001, 06:23 PM   #111
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POLYCARP: Tacitus is referring to the Roman governor Pilate as a procurator because that is the title with which he is familiar. Its the same type of mistake as calling Massachussets a "state". Its not a "state", its a "commonwealth". However, we don't nitpick with someone who calls Massachussets a state anymore than we should nitpick with Tacitus for calling Pilate a procurator.

Its purely semantical...

What exactly is your point about Tacitus referring to Pilate as procurator?

EARL: The point is that Tacitus could not have been quoting from an official document of Jesus' period (as if there would have been such a record), which would have called Pilate "prefect" not "procurator." This means that Tacitus' source must have been secondary or hearsay not primary, whether from Christians or uninformed non-Christians of his own time; he was repeating common knowledge of his time (after 115 CE), the existence of which isn't in dispute. Tacitus is not an independent confirmation of Jesus' existence, since his information appears to come from a later period as opposed to an informed and independent (early) source, which would have provided the prefect-procurator distinction.

****

NOMAD: In the KJV, Pilate is identified as the governor in Matthew, Luke and John 28:10. Matt does so no less than 8 times, starting with Matthew 27:2.

And just to be certain, I looked up procurator under the NIV, NASB, KJV and RSV Bibles, and found no instances where this title was ever used (for Pilate or anyone else).

EARL: The term "prefect" is also not found anywhere in the NT. The NT authors aren't aware, or at least don't use, the distinction. The author of Matthew calls Pilate simply "hegemon," which means "governor" or "leader" in general, rather than using the official Roman term. (We get the term "hegemony" from this Greek word.) The term "hegemon" doesn't betray any detailed knowledge of the Roman hierarchy on Matthew's part. And the same term is found in Luke 3:1, "hegemoneuo" ("being the leader"). Pilate is not mentioned at all in John 18:28. The term in John 18:28 is "praitorion" which means "judgment hall" or "palace." Again, no special knowledge is betrayed by the use of that term, no distinction between "prefect" and "procurator," nothing that could only have been received from a very early source of Jesus' own time.

So as for Nomad's question, "Since the Gospels identify Pilate as the governor of Judaea (Matt 27:10, Luke 3:1, John 18:28), why would this error by Tacitus be attributed to Christians?" the answer is that this question rests on a false premise, that the NT authors showed detailed, independent knowledge of the Roman hierarchy of Jesus' time, and therefore wouldn't likely have been the source for Tacitus' use of "procurator." The term the NT authors used for Pilate was a general term for "leaders" or "governors," and therefore even later Christians of Tacitus' time, without any reference to the prefect-procurator distinction in their sacred texts could very well have been the source for Tacitus' error. Certainly we are entitled to believe that Christians rather than Roman records of Jesus' period would have been the more likely source for the error.

****

Regarding Pliny, the point is not that Jesus isn't referred to in the passage, but that the author doesn't distinguish between an historical or mythological head of the religious group. The passage gives no details about an historical leader, such as Jesus, that could only have derived from an early, informed, and independent source. Pliny's information comes from Christians of his own time (around 112 CE).

The same goes for Serapion, as far as I can see.



[This message has been edited by Earl (edited April 23, 2001).]
 
Old 04-23-2001, 06:47 PM   #112
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Good, we're back to SERAPION.

A couple points to make here… Three times Pliny refers to "Christ". I really don't understand how you fail to see this as a clear reference to Jesus. You even said that Pliny received his info from Christians. If he got the info from Christians, then how in the world would he not know of Jesus?

You are right. I blew this. I was just writing too fast. No need to have bitten your tongue. I deserved the abuse.

Let's shelve this for a moment…..

"Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise king, because of the NEW LAWS HE LAID DOWN."

Polycarp, we have a translation problem here, because several versions I have:

"…live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the TEACHING WHICH HE HAD GIVEN."

That's the version from F. F. Bruce, as I cited, on the SecWeb. Where is yours from? Note also the JUNO-HERA flip-flop. Is this originally a latin version?

Although it seems difficult to confuse TEACHINGS with LAWS. Does anyone have this in the original language?

By the way, I found the entire text of the letter here, at New Advent, where they keep the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is a sad, and very moving letter.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0863.htm

And they wrote, for that passage:

"…because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the NEW LAWS WHICH HE ENACTED."

Jesus was not king, and did not enact or lay down any laws. Point remains. There is no reference to Jesus in this passage. Certainly not a specific one.

To summarize, once again, there is no specific reference in Serapion and Suetonius. If it were there, you could just post it. Since Pliny and Lucian are specifically referencing Christian beliefs, how can they count as a "specific" reference to Jesus? For Tacitus, we have already seen, it is unknown where he got his information. Arguments could go either way. Some nine sources you gave as "specific references" have turned out to be not so specific. Marcus Aurelius we agreed has no specific reference.

All of us have been making an implicit assumption that such works as count for specific references should be non-christian. But everyone is forgetting about -- gnostic and spurious works. Those are certainly extrabiblical, and may count as specific references.

Michael
 
Old 04-23-2001, 08:36 PM   #113
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:

Please answer the one simple question I’ve posed to you about three or four times now. If Nazareth did not exist until the second century, then how did Mark write about Nazareth in 70 C.E. ? By failing to answer this one simple question you demonstrate the magnitude of your ignorance.

Peace,

Polycarp (who now has a sore forehead from banging his head against a wall)

</font>
I'm sorry Poly, that isn't evidence. This debate is through, I have no intention of explaining what evidence is to you.
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Old 04-23-2001, 08:39 PM   #114
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DougI:
I'm sorry Poly, that isn't evidence. This debate is through, I have no intention of explaining what evidence is to you.</font>
Jeepers, I'm really curious about this one. Just how DID those gospel writers know to claim that Jesus was from a city that would not exist for a few (or one) hundred years?

Inquiring minds want to know Doug.

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited April 23, 2001).]
 
Old 04-23-2001, 09:41 PM   #115
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Turtonm, your reply dealing with the Chrestus/Christus argument was good.

However, I think that the evidence weighs in heavily on the side of this being a reference to Jesus.

The discussion on Classic-L even ended with one of the very quotes that I posted above from J.P. Meier (i.e. - *quodam* argument). Suetonius was apparently talking about a Jew, so it really shouldn't matter that the name was common among non-Jews. All of this information was provided in my quotes above, but it might be hard to understand due to lack of context...

Regardless, it is a disputed text, but a very good argument can be made for its referring to the Jesus of the NT. Most things in history are based on probability, and I think there is a high probability that Suetonius' passage indeed refers to Jesus (possibly in the very manner suggested in the Classic-L discussion).

Turtonm, thanks for your thoughtful, researched, and documented opinion.

Ish
 
Old 04-23-2001, 10:33 PM   #116
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

I have not "refused" anything. I have already offered some arguments about how Tacitus COULD have gotten his information from Christians (or from someone discussing them) and you have argued that he COULD have gotten it from the archives. I pointed out his error in Pilate's name, and the fact that he gives Jesus his religious title. You said that COULD have been in the archives.</font>
Let's do this again:

Tacitus is using the title that would have made sense to the readers of his day. How in the world you decided that this was because he got it (or could have even possibly gotten it) from Christians is beyond me. Christians weren't using the title procurator, so you think that Tacitus might have gotten it from them because...?

Secondly, in the passage Tacitus makes a simple statement: Jesus was executed by Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Since he does not elaborate on this point, you argue that this shows he may have gotten his information from Christians. This begs the question though. Why?

Finally, you have never defended the assertion that Tertullian or Ignatius should have been aware of Tacitus' Annals, and further, that they should have quoted from it. You have offered no reason that we should accept either of these arguments.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Now, that leaves us in the realm of "COULD." "Arguable" is the exact word I used about five posts ago. I see no reason to change it, since we do not know where Tacitus got his information from.</font>
The only question here is whether or not Tacitus is offering us a reference to the historical Jesus. Clearly he is. For all the smoke you have generated here, I am not even certain you are arguing that there is a real fire. Tacitus appears to clearly believe that Jesus existed, and like Josephus, there is no reason to discard him unless we have evidence that the passage is an invention.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As I predicted, I'd have to repeat myself.</font>
We both appear to be doing this, largely because I keep pointing out how you refuse to address the questions, and continue to dance. At some point I do hope you will address the questions however, and give us something to look at beyond assertions.

Look at it this way: Tacitus may have gotten his information from the man on the moon for all we know. But unless you are prepared to offer and defend an explanation for why we should think that he did (again, remember, you're saying that you think it is possible is not good enough), then why should we even consider this as a realistic option?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Since you no doubt posted before reading Polycarp's point on Tacitus' "error", I will let you correct your mistake when you get the chance to do so.
Now, what is your evidence? I keep asking because you keep dodging. You have ignored the evidence offered, and poisoned the well in the process, thinking it is perfectly acceptable to reject the opinion of experts and scholars in the field because they contradict your preconceived agenda.

Michael: Hmmm, which experts and scholars in what field? Nobody agrees on where Tacitus got his information in that passage.</font>
The source of the information is not the issue. It is not a Christian interpolation. It is not a Christian invention. Tacitus tells us about an historical person in a very brief passage, and does so in exactly the way we would expect, given that he does not think that Jesus is all that important a person, and that Christianity is a vile and disgusting little religion.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Finally, I have already told you that I am not interested in the Setonius discussion. Polycarp is doing just fine holding your feet to the fire on that one. For now I want to know why you treat Tacitus as suspect. Thus far you haven't offered us anything you have been willing to defend (IOW, posting links, then running from any discussion about the points raised is not a solid debating technique).

Michael: My feet are just fine, thank you. All Ish and Polycarp have done is said that Suetonius "could" have been mistaken, and offered evidence that others did so. Their whole argument boils down to "It is possible that Suetonius made a mistake. Therefore, this is a specific reference to Jesus." That is "holding my feet to the fire?"</font>
I have yet to see you offer any proof that the name "Chrestus" is even a mistake, as opposed to an alternative spelling for the name "Christus". We have examples of this exact alternate spelling from other sources, so what's the problem?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I noticed that you quickly scampered from the Suetonius debate when I put up a link to a debate among scholars on this very issue that supported exactly what I had been saying all along. The passage is arguable, and does not contain enough information to make a solid judgement.</font>
Since I have not offered Seutonius as an argument, but merely pointed out that the spelling of the name is acceptable in two forms, I don't see what your point is here either.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Heck, you could even interpret Raymond Brown's data showing no jews named Chrestus as proof that Chrestus wasn't a jew!</font>
Given that the reference and it's context tells us that Seutonius is talking about a Jew, I think you missed Brown's point completely.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That still leaves SERAPION, which everyone has gradually backed away from. Can we return to it? </font>
I have never heard of this reference prior to Polycarp bringing it up. To be honest, I do not see it as a clear enough reference to Jesus to be useful in a discussion of non-Christian sources for the historical Jesus.

Sorry Polycarp.

Nomad
 
Old 04-23-2001, 11:06 PM   #117
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:

EARL: The point is that Tacitus could not have been quoting from an official document of Jesus' period (as if there would have been such a record), which would have called Pilate "prefect" not "procurator."</font>
Why not? By 115 the title of "procurator" had been in use for 70+ years and would have been more meaningful to his readers. Semantic exactitude is not a trademark of virtually any of the ancient sources.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Tacitus is not an independent confirmation of Jesus' existence, since his information appears to come from a later period as opposed to an informed and independent (early) source, which would have provided the prefect-procurator distinction.</font>
Since even the Gospels do not refer to Pilate as prefect or procurator, and they clearly do refer to an historical Jesus, and are a very early source, how did you make this determination?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: In the KJV, Pilate is identified as the governor in Matthew, Luke and John 28:10. Matt does so no less than 8 times, starting with Matthew 27:2.
And just to be certain, I looked up procurator under the NIV, NASB, KJV and RSV Bibles, and found no instances where this title was ever used (for Pilate or anyone else).

EARL: The term "prefect" is also not found anywhere in the NT. The NT authors aren't aware, or at least don't use, the distinction. The author of Matthew calls Pilate simply "hegemon," which means "governor" or "leader" in general, rather than using the official Roman term. (We get the term "hegemony" from this Greek word.) The term "hegemon" doesn't betray any detailed knowledge of the Roman hierarchy on Matthew's part. And the same term is found in Luke 3:1, "hegemoneuo" ("being the leader"). Pilate is not mentioned at all in John 18:28. The term in John 18:28 is "praitorion" which means "judgment hall" or "palace." Again, no special knowledge is betrayed by the use of that term, no distinction between "prefect" and "procurator," nothing that could only have been received from a very early source of Jesus' own time.</font>
And this is my point exactly Earl. Since the Christian sources are not calling Pilate "procurator", why claim that the use of this term suggests Christian interpolation?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So as for Nomad's question, "Since the Gospels identify Pilate as the governor of Judaea (Matt 27:10, Luke 3:1, John 18:28), why would this error by Tacitus be attributed to Christians?" the answer is that this question rests on a false premise, that the NT authors showed detailed, independent knowledge of the Roman hierarchy of Jesus' time, and therefore wouldn't likely have been the source for Tacitus' use of "procurator." The term the NT authors used for Pilate was a general term for "leaders" or "governors," and therefore even later Christians of Tacitus' time, without any reference to the prefect-procurator distinction in their sacred texts could very well have been the source for Tacitus' error.</font>
Since the Gospel authors did not know the title of prefect or procurator, this means that later Christians would be the source of Tacitus' error in calling Pilate the procurator???

Did this argument make sense to you when you typed it?

I think it is far more probable that Tacitus was simply using the title that was most commonly known to his readers of the early 2nd Century, and he made this choice regardless of who he used as a source. As for trying to pass this off as somehow a Christian invention, or that he had to have gotten this information from Christians, the reasoning behind this escapes me completely.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Certainly we are entitled to believe that Christians rather than Roman records of Jesus' period would have been the more likely source for the error.</font>
Why?

Nomad
 
Old 04-24-2001, 04:43 AM   #118
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DougI:
I'm sorry Poly, that isn't evidence. This debate is through, I have no intention of explaining what evidence is to you.
Quote:
</font>
I'm sorry... Did you say something? 'Tis such sweet bliss that flows from the streams of ignorance.

Doug, Doug, Doug... You are making me feel guilty for having to show how illogical your argument is.

I think I'll leave you to rest in your happy place. What color is the sky in "happy land"?

Peace,

Polycarp (who is kinder and gentler today than he was yesterday)

 
Old 04-24-2001, 05:06 AM   #119
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
You are right. I blew this. I was just writing too fast. No need to have bitten your tongue. I deserved the abuse.
Quote:
</font>
Nahhh... No need for anyone to be abusive. We're all friends here.

I think Ish wrapped up the topic very well. We're not going to get much further on this topic. As for the "teachings/law" issue in Serapion I've seen it translated both ways. They would seem to be very close - maybe laws only to the followers of the king? Teachings would actually fit better with Jesus. I don't know what the original language says. It is a very sad letter from a guy who seemingly has no hope. Nomad is free to disagree with me on Serapion, although I must tell you I think he’s been blinded by Satan

Lucian clearly believes Jesus existed. He doesn’t agree with Christian doctrine as is clear from his constant ridicule given to it. However, he refers to Jesus as a man who lived in Palestine and was crucified. He doesn’t scorn the fact Jesus existed – only the fact that Christians are stupid enough to worship such a man.

Suetonius is probably the least likely of the bunch, but I still think its more probable to be a reference to Jesus than someone else.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> All of us have been making an implicit assumption that such works as count for specific references should be non-christian. But everyone is forgetting about -- gnostic and spurious works. Those are certainly extrabiblical, and may count as specific references.
Quote:
</font>
As you’ve noted, and I would agree, we really don’t gain any new knowledge about Jesus from any of these sources. If anything we get confirmation of a few details – Jesus lived in the Palestine area, he was executed by the Romans, and some of his followers worshipped him after he died. Would you say this is an accurate summary ?

We really can’t trust Christian sources on the issue of Jesus because they’re biased and we know they always lied about everything. Do you think the gnostic Christians were an honest bunch?

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 04-24-2001, 07:11 AM   #120
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Jeepers, I'm really curious about this one. Just how DID those gospel writers know to claim that Jesus was from a city that would not exist for a few (or one) hundred years?

Inquiring minds want to know Doug.
</font>
They could have edited the texts like they have done throughout history or they could have taken the name from an insignificant hamlet, which when the propaganda was written it had flourished into a city. But I am impressed by the pathetic attempts of apologists to suggest that a question is evidence or am I should I just expect the apologist's answer to always be, "It's in the bible so it must be true." But judging from the commentary I receive from apologists I'm dealing with children
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