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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #180 on: February 21, 2018, 09:23:24 PM »
What would it mean for an infant to 'have faith'?

Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #181 on: February 21, 2018, 09:35:17 PM »
What would it mean for an infant to 'have faith'?

My guess would be some kind of pre-cognitive, inarticulate longing for God.

I just like the idea as a sort of repudiation of over-intellectualization or voluntarism. It could perhaps be compared to the faith of the mentally challenged.


Luke 1:44 and Psalm 22:9 are the only places in Scripture that seem to indicate it, though.

Quote from: Psalm 22:9
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

Quote from: Luke 1:44
For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #182 on: February 21, 2018, 09:47:29 PM »
Ahh I see, that makes sense. Also, perhaps Phil. 2:13 speaks of something like this when it talks of pre-action and pre-will (or pre-intellectual) grace: "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #183 on: February 21, 2018, 10:37:55 PM »
Ahh I see, that makes sense. Also, perhaps Phil. 2:13 speaks of something like this when it talks of pre-action and pre-will (or pre-intellectual) grace: "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Maybe!
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #184 on: February 21, 2018, 10:48:05 PM »



Luke 1:44 and Psalm 22:9 are the only places in Scripture that seem to indicate it, though.

Quote from: Psalm 22:9
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

Quote from: Luke 1:44
For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

Good quotes
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #185 on: February 23, 2018, 03:17:40 PM »
In Book 19, Josephus says that the people of Caesarea and Sebaste celebrated Agrippa's death by pouring drinks ("libations") to Charon, a spirit of the dead in Greek mythology, despite the fact that Agrippa had renovated Jerusalem's temple:
Quote
But when it was known that Agrippa was departed this life, the inhabitants of Caesarea and of Sebaste forgot the kindnesses he had bestowed on them, and acted the part of the bitterest enemies; for they cast such reproaches upon the deceased as are not fit to be spoken of; and so many of them as were then soldiers, which were a great number, went to his house, and hastily carried off the statues (25) of this king's daughters, and all at once carried them into the brothel-houses, and when they had set them on the tops of those houses, they abused them to the utmost of their power, and did such things to them as are too indecent to be related. They also laid themselves down in public places, and celebrated general feastings, with garlands on their heads, and with ointments and libations to Charon, and drinking to one another for joy that the king was expired. Nay, they were not only unmindful of Agrippa, who had extended his liberality to them in abundance, but of his grandfather Herod also, who had himself rebuilt their cities, and had raised them havens and temples at vast expenses.
LOEB'S FOOTNOTE:
"The mythical ferryman of the dead over the river Styx or Acheron in the Lower WOrld."

Does this celebration for Charon make sense? I am not sure whether the celebrants were Jews, since it says this happened in Caesarea and Sebaste, which I think may have had alot of gentile inhabitants. But Josephus suggests that the celebrants, like the Jews, should have been grateful for Agrippa renovating the temple.

In Book XX, Josephus tells about King Monobazus marrying his sister and having a child to her, which he designated as his heir. I didn't even know whether one could make offspring with one's own sister successfully!:
Quote
Monobazus, the king of Adiabene, who had also the name of Bazeus, fell in love with his sister Helena, and took her to be his wife, and begat her with child.

Josephus says that King Monobazus gave his son territory that included a place that still in Josephus' era people considered Noah's ark to have remnants:
Quote
WHISTON's TRANSLATION
So he sent for him, and embraced him after the most affectionate manner, and bestowed on him the country called Carra; it was a soil that bare amomum in great plenty: there are also in it the remains of that ark, wherein it is related that Noah escaped the deluge, and where they are still shown to such as are desirous to see them.

LOEB's TRanslation
He... presented him with a district called Carron. The land there... possesses the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood - remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.

Loeb's footnote
The location of Carron presents considerable difficulties. It is not Carrhae, which is in northern Mesopotamia.
In Antiquities I 92, Josephus notes that the remains were shown by the Armenians even in his own day. Berosus the Chaldean (3rd c. BC) as quoted by Josephus, Ant. I 93, also notes that a portion of the ark was still said to be extent in Armenia on the mountain of the Cordyaeans (modern Kurdistan) and that people carried off pieces of the bitumen which they used as apotropaic charms.
What does Bitumen have to do with the Ark?

Earlier, I had come across references to Helena's pilgrimage as a convert to Jerusalem, and I thought initially that the writer was referring to the Roman empress Helena's Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 4th c. Instead, the writer had been referring to the story of Helena, a Queen who converted to Judaism in the 1st century AD, and whose son was a king who converted to Judaism later too. Like the Roman Helena, this 1st century Queen Helena made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and donated major resources there for religious reasons. Like Constantine, King Izates, Queen helena's son, put off formal conversion for a while.
Josephus mentions these events in Book 20 in passages like these:
Quote
CHAPTER 2
...[A Jewish merchant, Ananias], moreover, by their means, became known to Izates, and persuaded him, in like manner, to embrace that religion; he also, at the earnest entreaty of Izates, accompanied him when he was sent for by his father to come to Adiabene; it also happened that Helena, about the same time, was instructed by a certain other Jew and went over to them.
...  And when he perceived that his mother was highly pleased with the Jewish customs, he made haste to change, and to embrace them entirely; and as he supposed that he could not he thoroughly a Jew unless he were circumcised, he was ready to have it done. But when his mother understood what he was about, she endeavored to hinder him from doing it, and said to him that this thing would bring him into danger; and that, as he was a king, he would thereby bring himself into great odium among his subjects, when they should understand that he was so fond of rites that were to them strange and foreign...
... But as to Helena, the king's mother, when she saw that the affairs of Izates's kingdom were in peace, and that her son was a happy man, and admired among all men, and even among foreigners, by the means of God's providence over him, she had a mind to go to the city of Jerusalem, in order to worship at that temple of God which was so very famous among all men, and to offer her thank-offerings there. So she desired her son to give her leave to go thither; upon which he gave his consent to what she desired very willingly, and made great preparations for her dismission, and gave her a great deal of money, and she went down to the city Jerusalem, her son conducting her on her journey a great way. Now her coming was of very great advantage to the people of Jerusalem; for whereas a famine did oppress them at that time, and many people died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal, queen Helena sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of corn, and others of them to Cyprus, to bring a cargo of dried figs. And as soon as they were come back, and had brought those provisions, which was done very quickly, she distributed food to those that were in want of it, and left a most excellent memorial behind her of this benefaction, which she bestowed on our whole nation. And when her son Izates was informed of this famine, (5) he sent great sums of money to the principal men in Jerusalem.
I wonder if the similarities are coincidence or synchronicity?
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #186 on: February 23, 2018, 03:32:06 PM »
In Book 19, Josephus says that the people of Caesarea and Sebaste celebrated Agrippa's death by pouring drinks ("libations") to Charon, a spirit of the dead in Greek mythology, despite the fact that Agrippa had renovated Jerusalem's temple:
Quote
But when it was known that Agrippa was departed this life, the inhabitants of Caesarea and of Sebaste forgot the kindnesses he had bestowed on them, and acted the part of the bitterest enemies; for they cast such reproaches upon the deceased as are not fit to be spoken of; and so many of them as were then soldiers, which were a great number, went to his house, and hastily carried off the statues (25) of this king's daughters, and all at once carried them into the brothel-houses, and when they had set them on the tops of those houses, they abused them to the utmost of their power, and did such things to them as are too indecent to be related. They also laid themselves down in public places, and celebrated general feastings, with garlands on their heads, and with ointments and libations to Charon, and drinking to one another for joy that the king was expired. Nay, they were not only unmindful of Agrippa, who had extended his liberality to them in abundance, but of his grandfather Herod also, who had himself rebuilt their cities, and had raised them havens and temples at vast expenses.
LOEB'S FOOTNOTE:
"The mythical ferryman of the dead over the river Styx or Acheron in the Lower WOrld."

Does this celebration for Charon make sense? I am not sure whether the celebrants were Jews, since it says this happened in Caesarea and Sebaste, which I think may have had alot of gentile inhabitants. But Josephus suggests that the celebrants, like the Jews, should have been grateful for Agrippa renovating the temple.

Syncretism? Though I'd think that if there were really Jews involved, Josephus would have mentioned it disapprovingly.

In Book XX, Josephus tells about King Monobazus marrying his sister and having a child to her, which he designated as his heir. I didn't even know whether one could make offspring with one's own sister successfully!:
Quote
Monobazus, the king of Adiabene, who had also the name of Bazeus, fell in love with his sister Helena, and took her to be his wife, and begat her with child.

You can. But the kid's not going to have a fun life, health-wise.

Josephus says that King Monobazus gave his son territory that included a place that still in Josephus' era people considered Noah's ark to have remnants:
Quote
WHISTON's TRANSLATION
So he sent for him, and embraced him after the most affectionate manner, and bestowed on him the country called Carra; it was a soil that bare amomum in great plenty: there are also in it the remains of that ark, wherein it is related that Noah escaped the deluge, and where they are still shown to such as are desirous to see them.

LOEB's TRanslation
He... presented him with a district called Carron. The land there... possesses the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood - remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.

Loeb's footnote
The location of Carron presents considerable difficulties. It is not Carrhae, which is in northern Mesopotamia.
In Antiquities I 92, Josephus notes that the remains were shown by the Armenians even in his own day. Berosus the Chaldean (3rd c. BC) as quoted by Josephus, Ant. I 93, also notes that a portion of the ark was still said to be extent in Armenia on the mountain of the Cordyaeans (modern Kurdistan) and that people carried off pieces of the bitumen which they used as apotropaic charms.
What does Bitumen have to do with the Ark?

The pitch that Noah covered it with (Genesis 6:14).
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 03:32:47 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #187 on: February 26, 2018, 03:09:30 PM »
I like the prayer of Izates, the Jewish convert king, when faced with the Parthian invasion:
Quote
When the messenger had delivered this his message, Izates replied that he knew the king of Parthia's power was much greater than his own; but that he knew also that God was much more powerful than all men. And when he had returned him this answer, he betook himself to make supplication to God, and threw himself upon the ground, and put ashes upon his head, in testimony of his confusion, and fasted, together with his wives and children. (7)

Then he called upon God, and said, "O Lord and Governor, if I have not in vain committed myself to thy goodness, but have justly determined that thou only art the Lord and principal of all beings, come now to my assistance, and defend me from my enemies, not only on my own account, but on account of their insolent behavior with regard to thy power, while they have not feared to lift up their proud and arrogant tongue against thee."

Thus did he lament and bemoan himself, with tears in his eyes; whereupon God heard his prayer. And immediately that very night Vologases received letters, the contents of which were these, that a great band of Dahe and Sacse, despising him, now he was gone so long a journey from home, had made an expedition, and laid Parthis waste; so that he [was forced to] retire back, without doing any thing. And thus it was that Izates escaped the threatenings of the Parthians, by the providence of God.

The stories of Theudas and Judas the Galilean comes up because of a debate about the date of their revolt in Acts and in the Antiquities.
Quote
1. NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, (9) persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus's government.

2. Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea, in which queen Helena bought corn in Egypt at a great expense, and distributed it to those that were in want, as I have related already. And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.

WHISTON's FOOTNOTE
This Theudas, who arose under Fadus the procurator, about A.D. 45 or 46, could not be that Thendas who arose in the days of the taxing, under Cyrenius, or about A.D. 7, Acts v. 36, 37. Who that earlier Theudas was, see the note on B. XVII. ch. 10. sect. 5.
Since the rebels came so close in time to those in both sources, Acts and Antiquities, I guess that they were really the same person and that one author or the other confused the dates.

Loeb's edition says:
Quote
...Luke... must have had access to a source other than Josephus (in talking about Theudas), since he is precise in the number [of 400 rebels under Theudas], whereas Josephus is not. Though the identity of names is striking, it is of course perfectly possible that two different people named Theudas are referred to. Moreover... there is a chronological discrepancy between Josephus and Acts, since the reference to Theudas in Acts is found in a speech which Gamaliel must have made before AD 37, whereas the revolt mentioned by Josephus occurred in AD 45 or 46. Moreover, whereas Josephus in S.102 almost immediately after he recounts the incident of Theudas, mentions the crucifixion of the sons of Judas the Galilean, Gamaliel says that after Theudas Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census.

Daniel Unterbrink has a theory that Jesus in the Bible is really Judas the Galilean leader in Josephus, but this looks doubtful to me, because Judas the Galilean is openly referred to as a different person than Jesus in the Book of Acts.

That being the case, it is hard to see the names of Judas' sons James and Simon lining up with the names of Jesus' successors in the Church leadership, James and Simon, as more than coincidence.

Josephus repeatedly in Book 20 says that he is going to address certain incidents at a later time in his writings, like he says at the end of Chapter 7, Section 3 about King Poleme of Cilicia:
Quote
Yet did not this matrimony endure long; but Bernice left Poleme, and, as was said, with impure intentions. So he forsook at once this matrimony, and the Jewish religion; and, at the same time, Mariamne put away Archclaus, and was married to Demetrius, the principal man among the Alexandrian Jews, both for his family and his wealth; and indeed he was then their alabarch. So she named her son whom she had by him Agrippinus. But of all these particulars we shall hereafter treat more exactly.
Loeb's edition notes in the footnotes here and in some other places that we don't have Josephus picking up some such accounts in other writings.
(ie. for Chp 7 S. 3, the note says: "There is no such account extant.")
It's curious. Maybe Josephus was forced to stop writing prematurely and didn't have a chance to finish?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 03:10:23 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #188 on: February 26, 2018, 03:43:55 PM »
I like the prayer of Izates, the Jewish convert king, when faced with the Parthian invasion:
Quote
When the messenger had delivered this his message, Izates replied that he knew the king of Parthia's power was much greater than his own; but that he knew also that God was much more powerful than all men. And when he had returned him this answer, he betook himself to make supplication to God, and threw himself upon the ground, and put ashes upon his head, in testimony of his confusion, and fasted, together with his wives and children. (7)

Then he called upon God, and said, "O Lord and Governor, if I have not in vain committed myself to thy goodness, but have justly determined that thou only art the Lord and principal of all beings, come now to my assistance, and defend me from my enemies, not only on my own account, but on account of their insolent behavior with regard to thy power, while they have not feared to lift up their proud and arrogant tongue against thee."

Thus did he lament and bemoan himself, with tears in his eyes; whereupon God heard his prayer. And immediately that very night Vologases received letters, the contents of which were these, that a great band of Dahe and Sacse, despising him, now he was gone so long a journey from home, had made an expedition, and laid Parthis waste; so that he [was forced to] retire back, without doing any thing. And thus it was that Izates escaped the threatenings of the Parthians, by the providence of God.

That is pretty nice, yeah.

The stories of Theudas and Judas the Galilean comes up because of a debate about the date of their revolt in Acts and in the Antiquities.
Quote
1. NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, (9) persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem. This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus's government.

2. Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea, in which queen Helena bought corn in Egypt at a great expense, and distributed it to those that were in want, as I have related already. And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.

WHISTON's FOOTNOTE
This Theudas, who arose under Fadus the procurator, about A.D. 45 or 46, could not be that Thendas who arose in the days of the taxing, under Cyrenius, or about A.D. 7, Acts v. 36, 37. Who that earlier Theudas was, see the note on B. XVII. ch. 10. sect. 5.
Since the rebels came so close in time to those in both sources, Acts and Antiquities, I guess that they were really the same person and that one author or the other confused the dates.

Could be. Then again, Judas was such a common name in that day and easy to confuse with "Theudas" (and this was a time when the Jews had a revolt every other Thursday).

Loeb's edition says:
Quote
...Luke... must have had access to a source other than Josephus (in talking about Theudas), since he is precise in the number [of 400 rebels under Theudas], whereas Josephus is not. Though the identity of names is striking, it is of course perfectly possible that two different people named Theudas are referred to. Moreover... there is a chronological discrepancy between Josephus and Acts, since the reference to Theudas in Acts is found in a speech which Gamaliel must have made before AD 37, whereas the revolt mentioned by Josephus occurred in AD 45 or 46. Moreover, whereas Josephus in S.102 almost immediately after he recounts the incident of Theudas, mentions the crucifixion of the sons of Judas the Galilean, Gamaliel says that after Theudas Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census.

Daniel Unterbrink has a theory that Jesus in the Bible is really Judas the Galilean leader in Josephus, but this looks doubtful to me, because Judas the Galilean is openly referred to as a different person than Jesus in the Book of Acts.

That being the case, it is hard to see the names of Judas' sons James and Simon lining up with the names of Jesus' successors in the Church leadership, James and Simon, as more than coincidence.

"Hard" or "not hard?"

And yeah, I agree that it's far-fetched. Not a good theory when it relies on the assumption that the compiler of Luke-Acts, even if he wasn't St. Luke, was totally incompetent.

Josephus repeatedly in Book 20 says that he is going to address certain incidents at a later time in his writings, like he says at the end of Chapter 7, Section 3 about King Poleme of Cilicia:
Quote
Yet did not this matrimony endure long; but Bernice left Poleme, and, as was said, with impure intentions. So he forsook at once this matrimony, and the Jewish religion; and, at the same time, Mariamne put away Archclaus, and was married to Demetrius, the principal man among the Alexandrian Jews, both for his family and his wealth; and indeed he was then their alabarch. So she named her son whom she had by him Agrippinus. But of all these particulars we shall hereafter treat more exactly.
Loeb's edition notes in the footnotes here and in some other places that we don't have Josephus picking up some such accounts in other writings.
(ie. for Chp 7 S. 3, the note says: "There is no such account extant.")
It's curious. Maybe Josephus was forced to stop writing prematurely and didn't have a chance to finish?

Josephus strikes me as the kind of polymath who makes all sorts of grandiose plans to write about this or that and then forgets about half of them. Or he died before he could get to it.

Or he did write them and the manuscripts have just been lost.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #189 on: February 26, 2018, 04:21:54 PM »
In Book 20, Josephus talks about Nero and how historians have in his time given different views on Nero:
Quote
But as to those that have no regard to truth, they may write as they please; for in that they take delight: but as to ourselves, who have made truth our direct aim, we shall briefly touch upon what only belongs remotely to this undertaking, but shall relate what hath happened to us Jews with great accuracy, and shall not grudge our pains in giving an account both of the calamities we have suffered, and of the crimes we have been guilty of. I will now therefore return to the relation of our own affairs.
The part in bold is something that shows me that the story of Paulina and Mundus in the temple of Anubis following the Testamonium is a reference to Jesus' story. The story has no apparent overt reason for being told by Josephus when reading the Antiquities. The story doesn't mention the Jews or Judea, nor is it even an explanation of a change in the Roman administration or emperorship. It thus seems to have had some implicit purpose instead, which I find to be as a foil to the Testamonium.

Here is how Josephus tells how the Sicarii brigands were introduced to Rome. It sounds like the ROmans themselves may have allowed them to come into Rome in order to accomplish some crimes undercover on the Romans' behalf, which might be hard for some to believe, because the Romans were very concerned about rebellions, and the sicarii could have been a potential source of rebellion:
Quote
Felix also bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish affairs better than he did, lest he should himself have complaints made of him by the multitude, since he it was who had desired Caesar to send him as procurator of Judea. So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of him, now he was become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual admonitions are grievous to those who are disposed to act unjustly. Wherefore Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most faithful friends, a citizen of Jerusalem, whose name was Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to give him a great deal of money for so doing. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived matters so, that the robbers might murder him after the following manner: Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan (19) and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others, not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty.

Here is how Josephus tells the story of James' killing:
Quote
this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, (23) who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.
Whiston makes an interesting note that the reader does not "meet with any Sadducees later than this high priest in all Josephus." So did this event cripple the power of the Sadduccees?

Loeb's edition notes that Josephus portrays Ananus the high priest favorably instead in BJ iv. What this suggests is that while Josephus may not have been against Ananus in all respects, he certainly especially strongly objected to the killing of James, finding it a savage act on Ananus' part. I find Josephus to be showing sympathy for James in this passage, because of his strong objections to the killing. One could imagine that Josephus was only objecting to the killing for violating the limitations on powers given to the Sanhedrin, but unlike other incidents against Jewish dissidents, Josephus doesn't mention or imply anything negative about James.

For example, note how unlike in the story about James, Josephus included invective against the religious dissidents led by an Egyptian in Book 20, Chp. 8:
Quote
These works, that were done by the robbers, filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them. Moreover, there came out of Egypt (20) about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more.
In turn, the sympathetic allusions toward James, as well as Josephus' sympathy for John the Baptist, suggest to me that Josephus was sympathetic to Jesus.

I also notice how in the passage on James, Josephus says that he was the brother of "Jesus who was called the Christ". This title and turn of phrase suggests that it was a common or known epithet for Jesus.

One mystery about the passage is how Origen claimed that Josephus saw James' death as the cause for the nation's destruction, yet the passage does not specify this. I would suggest that this is implicit in the placement of the passage in the context of the harbingers of the temple's destruction. Neighboring and surrounding passages, like the one on the Egyptian above, talk about the factors and troubles leading up to the destruction.

I also note that this is one of the last chapters in one of the last books in the Antiquities. Otherwise in the end of the Antiquities, Josephus promises to write more about certain named events, yet we don't have writings by him that do. This suggests to me the possibility that the story of James, Jesus, and John the Baptist were one of the purposes of Josephus in telling the story of the Antiquities. They were important figures, it seems, whom Josephus especially wanted to include.

Another mystery for me is the figure of the high priest Jesus son of Damnaeus, who replaced Ananus. The name "Damnaeus", or in Greek Damneion, is curious for me. I think that the name means "The Condemned". But what 1st century Jew would be named "The Condemned", especially with a name in Greek, rather than in Aramaic or Hebrew?
I don't know if this was a fictional character, but he shows up a few places later in real circumstances. For example, in the next chapter, Josephus writes:
" the high priest, Ananias... increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest [Jesus], by making them presents".
So were there two high priests at once, Ananias and Jesus, who had been appointed "the high priest", or does this title imply that "the high priest" is above the other high priests who serve at once?

Josephus talks about Jesus ben Damnaeus again here:
Quote
And now Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king [Agrippa] had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the boldest sort of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other. But Ananias was too hard for the rest, by his riches, which enabled him to gain those that were most ready to receive.

Here is another factor that Josephus mentions as leading to the nation's calamity:
Quote
Now as many of the Levites, (26) which is a tribe of ours, as were singers of hymns, persuaded the king to assemble a sanhedrim, and to give them leave to wear linen garments, as well as the priests for they said that this would be a work worthy the times of his government, that he might have a memorial of such a novelty, as being his doing. Nor did they fail of obtaining their desire; for the king, with the suffrages of those that came into the sanhedrim, granted the singers of hymns this privilege, that they might lay aside their former garments, and wear such a linen one as they desired; and as a part of this tribe ministered in the temple, he also permitted them to learn those hymns as they had besought him for. Now all this was contrary to the laws of our country, which, whenever they have been transgressed, we have never been able to avoid the punishment of such transgressions.
Loeb's explains that tradition had required groups of Levites - the singers and gatekeepers - to stay in separate categories, with the singers not allowed to wear the linen, and the singers not allowed to do the gatekeeping work, on penalty of death. However, these rules are not in the Bible, AFAIK. So it's remarkable that this could have been a factor in divine retribution against the whole nation. It doesn't seem that bad a decision by the Levites to mix their categories to me that the nation should have suffered severely.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #190 on: February 26, 2018, 04:56:18 PM »
In Book 20, Josephus talks about Nero and how historians have in his time given different views on Nero:
Quote
But as to those that have no regard to truth, they may write as they please; for in that they take delight: but as to ourselves, who have made truth our direct aim, we shall briefly touch upon what only belongs remotely to this undertaking, but shall relate what hath happened to us Jews with great accuracy, and shall not grudge our pains in giving an account both of the calamities we have suffered, and of the crimes we have been guilty of. I will now therefore return to the relation of our own affairs.
The part in bold is something that shows me that the story of Paulina and Mundus in the temple of Anubis following the Testamonium is a reference to Jesus' story. The story has no apparent overt reason for being told by Josephus when reading the Antiquities. The story doesn't mention the Jews or Judea, nor is it even an explanation of a change in the Roman administration or emperorship. It thus seems to have had some implicit purpose instead, which I find to be as a foil to the Testamonium.

I suppose that makes sense.

Here is how Josephus tells how the Sicarii brigands were introduced to Rome. It sounds like the ROmans themselves may have allowed them to come into Rome in order to accomplish some crimes undercover on the Romans' behalf, which might be hard for some to believe, because the Romans were very concerned about rebellions, and the sicarii could have been a potential source of rebellion:
Quote
Felix also bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish affairs better than he did, lest he should himself have complaints made of him by the multitude, since he it was who had desired Caesar to send him as procurator of Judea. So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of him, now he was become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual admonitions are grievous to those who are disposed to act unjustly. Wherefore Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most faithful friends, a citizen of Jerusalem, whose name was Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to give him a great deal of money for so doing. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived matters so, that the robbers might murder him after the following manner: Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan (19) and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others, not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty.

Huh? I'm confused. It seems like this passage is taking place in Jerusalem, not Rome.

Though it wouldn't be the last time that the Roman government let a group in because they thought that they might prove useful and then lived to regret it. That's how they first got sacked by the Goths, after all.

Here is how Josephus tells the story of James' killing:
Quote
this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, (23) who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.
Whiston makes an interesting note that the reader does not "meet with any Sadducees later than this high priest in all Josephus." So did this event cripple the power of the Sadduccees?

IIRC, the Sadduccees were mostly aristocrats connected to the Temple apparatus. The AD 70 destruction would have ruined them either way.

I also notice how in the passage on James, Josephus says that he was the brother of "Jesus who was called the Christ". This title and turn of phrase suggests that it was a common or known epithet for Jesus.

I think it just means, "who His followers (or the crowd) thought was the Messiah."

I also note that this is one of the last chapters in one of the last books in the Antiquities. Otherwise in the end of the Antiquities, Josephus promises to write more about certain named events, yet we don't have writings by him that do. This suggests to me the possibility that the story of James, Jesus, and John the Baptist were one of the purposes of Josephus in telling the story of the Antiquities. They were important figures, it seems, whom Josephus especially wanted to include.

Seems like a bit of a stretch. The Antiquities is just (roughly) chronological. Then Wars and Vita cover events of his own recent lifetime.

Another mystery for me is the figure of the high priest Jesus son of Damnaeus, who replaced Ananus. The name "Damnaeus", or in Greek Damneion, is curious for me. I think that the name means "The Condemned". But what 1st century Jew would be named "The Condemned", especially with a name in Greek, rather than in Aramaic or Hebrew?
I don't know if this was a fictional character, but he shows up a few places later in real circumstances. For example, in the next chapter, Josephus writes:
Quote
" the high priest, Ananias... increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest [Jesus], by making them presents".
So were there two high priests at once, Ananias and Jesus, who had been appointed "the high priest", or does this title imply that "the high priest" is above the other high priests who serve at once?

They might have had a similar relationship to Annas and Caiphas. One was technically retired, but still heavily involved in events, the other was acting.

Josephus talks about Jesus ben Damnaeus again here:
Quote
And now Jesus, the son of Gamaliel, became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king [Agrippa] had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the boldest sort of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other. But Ananias was too hard for the rest, by his riches, which enabled him to gain those that were most ready to receive.

I guess it's possible that Josephus inserted a rhetorical jab at this Jesus (maybe even changed his first name?) I don't think he would or could just completely make up a high priest.

Here is another factor that Josephus mentions as leading to the nation's calamity:
Quote
Now as many of the Levites, (26) which is a tribe of ours, as were singers of hymns, persuaded the king to assemble a sanhedrim, and to give them leave to wear linen garments, as well as the priests for they said that this would be a work worthy the times of his government, that he might have a memorial of such a novelty, as being his doing. Nor did they fail of obtaining their desire; for the king, with the suffrages of those that came into the sanhedrim, granted the singers of hymns this privilege, that they might lay aside their former garments, and wear such a linen one as they desired; and as a part of this tribe ministered in the temple, he also permitted them to learn those hymns as they had besought him for. Now all this was contrary to the laws of our country, which, whenever they have been transgressed, we have never been able to avoid the punishment of such transgressions.
Loeb's explains that tradition had required groups of Levites - the singers and gatekeepers - to stay in separate categories, with the singers not allowed to wear the linen, and the singers not allowed to do the gatekeeping work, on penalty of death. However, these rules are not in the Bible, AFAIK. So it's remarkable that this could have been a factor in divine retribution against the whole nation. It doesn't seem that bad a decision by the Levites to mix their categories to me that the nation should have suffered severely.

Quote from: Matthew 23:2-3
“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So practice and observe everything they tell you.

Apparently Jesus endorsed using some form of the oral Torah of the day ("Moses's seat" is itself another extrabiblical tradition, actually). This would have been during the period when the Christians were content to consider themselves still under the Temple establishment, after all.

Sounds to me like the Levites were just jockeying for political influence. I think Josephus would say that it was just yet another example of the corruption that lead God to punish them in the first place.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 05:00:31 PM by Volnutt »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #191 on: February 26, 2018, 09:31:24 PM »
" Huh? I'm confused. It seems like this passage is taking place in Jerusalem, not Rome."

Yes, I meant to say Jerusalem.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #192 on: February 26, 2018, 09:34:01 PM »
" Huh? I'm confused. It seems like this passage is taking place in Jerusalem, not Rome."

Yes, I meant to say Jerusalem.

So, why would the Romans need to be sponsoring the Sicarii or "letting them in" to Jerusalem?
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #193 on: February 26, 2018, 09:50:11 PM »
" Huh? I'm confused. It seems like this passage is taking place in Jerusalem, not Rome."

Yes, I meant to say Jerusalem.

So, why would the Romans need to be sponsoring the Sicarii or "letting them in" to Jerusalem?

Loeb's footnote says that this refers to the sicarii:
" Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan (19) and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time".
The story goes that the sicarii were allowed into the city to kill the high priest Jonathan who was in conflict with the Roman leader Felix. The Romans did not have enough legal reason to kill him, so the sicarii served as a secret proxy.

I think that maybe they assassinated other people too for the Romans undercover.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 09:50:53 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #194 on: February 26, 2018, 09:52:43 PM »
" Huh? I'm confused. It seems like this passage is taking place in Jerusalem, not Rome."

Yes, I meant to say Jerusalem.

So, why would the Romans need to be sponsoring the Sicarii or "letting them in" to Jerusalem?

Loeb's footnote says that this refers to the sicarii:
" Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan (19) and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time".
The story goes that the sicarii were allowed into the city to kill the high priest Jonathan who was in conflict with the Roman leader Felix. The Romans did not have enough legal reason to kill him, so the sicarii served as a secret proxy.

I think that maybe they assassinated other people too for the Romans undercover.

Where does it say that the Romans had Jerusalem on lock-down such that they decided who entered and who didn't? The Sicarii were Jews. They came and went as they pleased in their own country (until 135).


ETA: I don't deny that Felix benefited from Jonathan getting whacked and was probably not eager to prosecute anyone for his death, but that doesn't necessarily imply that money changed hands. I doubt the Sicarii needed a reason to kill an establishment priest who wasn't immolating himself on the steps of the governor's house.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 09:56:32 PM by Volnutt »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #195 on: February 26, 2018, 10:06:54 PM »
LOEB'S notes say that these were sicarii, and Josephus says that they were promised money to kill Jonathan the high priest. And Loeb's notes also say that there were two groups of brigands at that time, the group that Felix successfully crushed, and the sicarii. And Josephus says that the sicarii were able to act in security after killing Jonathan. It looks to me like maybe the Romans were allowing the sicarii to attack people at that point. Here is what Josephus says:

Quote
So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of him, now he was become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual admonitions are grievous to those who are disposed to act unjustly. Wherefore Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most faithful friends, a citizen of Jerusalem, whose name was Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to give him a great deal of money for so doing. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived matters so, that the robbers might murder him after the following manner: Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan (19) and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time;
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 10:07:29 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #196 on: February 26, 2018, 11:27:55 PM »
Ah, I didn't see that before.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #197 on: February 27, 2018, 12:09:50 AM »
Ah, I didn't see that before.
Additionally, leading up to that passage, Josephus had narrated how Felix had successfully crushed the brigands of Judea. But then on introducing the story of the killing of Jonathan, Josephus said that the sicarii had free reign. It looked from this like maybe the Romans were intentionally permitting the sicarii to thrive in order to do their "dirty work".
So eg. the appendix to Book XX says:
Quote
xvii. How Felix was sent as procurator and how, finding that the country had been devastated by brigands, he took measures to establish peace in the land by exterminating them and how he imprisoned the foremost of the brigands, Eleazar by name, and dispatched him to Rome...
This was in a section preceeding the description of how he got Jonathan killed.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #198 on: February 27, 2018, 12:25:40 AM »
Josephus describes the system of government in the time of the thirteen high priests from Moses to Solomon this way:
"Now these thirteen, who were the descendants of two of the sons of Aaron, received this dignity by succession, one after another; for their form of government was an aristocracy, and after that a monarchy, and in the third place the government was regal [ie. under kings]."
It's interesting. Under Joshua then, I guess it means that they were under a council of elders? Loeb's footnotes says that the "monarchy" refers to the rule by the judges in Antiquities book xi. Greek section 112 about the "men called judges and monarchs".
A mon-arch could refer to a single ruler, not necessarily a king.

In Chapter 11, Josephus says that the procurator Florus was even a partner with the robbers, so that "the ill fated Jews" (Loeb's translation) went into exile. Whiston's translation puts it this way:
Quote
Gessius Florus, as though he bad been sent on purpose to show his crimes to every body, made a pompous ostentation of them to our nation, as never omitting any sort of violence, nor any unjust sort of punishment; for he was not to be moved by pity, and never was satisfied with any degree of gain that came in his way; nor had he any more regard to great than to small acquisitions, but became a partner with the robbers themselves. For a great many fell then into that practice without fear, as having him for their security, and depending on him, that he would save them harmless in their particular robberies; so that there were no bounds set to the nation's miseries; but the unhappy Jews, when they were not able to bear the devastations which the robbers made among them, were all under a necessity of leaving their own habitations, and of flying away, as hoping to dwell more easily any where else in the world among foreigners [than in their own country].
It seems that it must be an overgeneralization to say that the exile began at that point.

Here Josephus refers to the Holy Land as "Palestine", which is noteworthy because AFAIK the Romans officially called the province Judea in Josephus' time. Palestine I think was a geographic name for the Holy Land, rather than the official name of the province:
Quote
these Antiquities contain what hath been delivered down to us from the original creation of man, until the twelfth year of the reign of Nero, as to what hath befallen the Jews, as well in Egypt as in Syria and in Palestine, and what we have suffered from the Assyrians and Babylonians, and what afflictions the Persians and Macedonians, and after them the Romans, have brought upon us...
(Whiston's translation)

Loeb's translation says "in Egypt, in Syria, and in Palestine."
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #199 on: February 27, 2018, 12:51:18 AM »
Ah, I didn't see that before.
Additionally, leading up to that passage, Josephus had narrated how Felix had successfully crushed the brigands of Judea. But then on introducing the story of the killing of Jonathan, Josephus said that the sicarii had free reign. It looked from this like maybe the Romans were intentionally permitting the sicarii to thrive in order to do their "dirty work".
So eg. the appendix to Book XX says:
Quote
xvii. How Felix was sent as procurator and how, finding that the country had been devastated by brigands, he took measures to establish peace in the land by exterminating them and how he imprisoned the foremost of the brigands, Eleazar by name, and dispatched him to Rome...
This was in a section preceeding the description of how he got Jonathan killed.

Ok. Fair enough.
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Offline rakovsky

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One curious issue regarding the 1st century historian Thallus is how his reference to the eclipse could, as some have proposed, apply to the Crucifixion darkness astronomically:
Quote
a reference to a historical eclipse, attributed to Thallus, has been taken as a mention of the darkness described in the Synoptic gospels account of the death of Jesus, although an eclipse could not have taken place during Passover when this took place.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thallus_(historian)
Sextus Julius Africanus lived in c. 160 – c. 240, he discussed Thallus' reference. Here is Africanus' full quote, taken from the Byzantine scholar George Synkellos:
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On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth--manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. (XVIII.1)

Since a true eclipse can not occur astronomically during Passover, perhaps this eclipse is not a true eclipse, but rather meant as a reference to the darkness during the daytime?

The Christian Think Tank site notes that what was in question for Africanus was the cause of the eclipse, not whether the darkness had occurred:
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The phrase "let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun..." indicates that what is under discussion is NOT the factuality of the event, but the EXPLANATION of it. In other words, Thallus is EXPLAINING the occurrence of the darkness--NOT 'documenting' it (contra G. A. Wells, DJE:13) as was Phlegon.

Harris (op.cit.) points out one of the implications of Julius' word choice here:

...If Africanus were simply questioning the accuracy of Thallus in claiming that an eclipse had occurred at a certain time, he would not have rejected Thallus' view by an expression of opinion--'(wrongly) it seems to me'. What he was rejecting was a naturalistic explanation of the darkness not an alleged occurrence of a solar eclipse.
http://christianthinktank.com/jrthal.html

Here is another translation of Africanus' commentary on Thallus, which makes it sound like Thallus was dismissing the darkness as a natural phenomenon. Which translation do you think is best?
Quote
    Καθ ολου του κοσμου σκοτος επηγετο φοβερωτατον, σεισμω τε αι πετραι διερρηγνυντο και τα πολλα Ιουδαιας και της λοιπης γης κατερριφθη. τουτο το σκοτος εκλειψιν του ηλιου Θαλλος αποκαλει εν τριτη των ιστοριων, ως εμοι δοκει, αλογως. Εβραιοι γαρ αγουσι το πασχα κατα σεληνην ι̅δ̅, προ δε μιας του πασχα τα περι τον σωτηρα συμβαινει. εκλειψις δε ηλιου σεληνης υπελθουσης τον ηλιον γινεται· αδυνατον δε εν αλλω χρονω, πλην εν τω μεταξυ μιας και της προ αυτης κατα την συνοδον αυτην αποβηναι. πως ουν εκλειψις νομισθειη κατα διαμετρον σχεδον υπαρχουσης της σεληνης ηλιω; εστω δη, συναρπαζετω τους πολλους το γεγενημενον και το κοσμικον τερας ηλιου εκλειψις υπονοεισθω εν τη κατα την οψιν. ...

    A most terrible darkness fell over all the world, the rocks were torn apart by an earthquake, and many places both in Judaea and the rest of the world were thrown down. In the third book of his Histories Thallus dismisses this darkness as a solar eclipse, unreasonably, as it seems to me. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on Luna 14, and what happened to the Saviour occurred one day before the Passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place when the moon passes under the sun. The only time when this can happen is in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last day of the old moon, when they are in conjunction. How then could one believe an eclipse took place when the moon was almost in opposition to the sun? So be it. Let what had happened beguile the masses, and let this wonderful sign to the world be considered a solar eclipse through an optical [illusion]. Phlegon records that during the reign of Tiberius Caesar there was a complete solar eclipse at full moon from the sixth to the ninth hour; it is clear that this is the one. But what have eclipses to do with an earthquake, rocks breaking apart, resurrection of the dead, and a universal disturbance of this nature

http://www.textexcavation.com/thallustestimonium.html
Origen also said that pagans were trying to dismiss the darkness in the Passion story as a natural eclipse. Perhaps Thallus' writing could be one such example.

Dale Allison writes in the book The Historical Jesus in Context, "the fact that [Africanus] states his disagreement with Thallus' interpretation - 'This it seems to me, is contrary to reason' - strongly implies that Thallus was offering a mundane explanation for what happened when Jesus died. "(p. 405)
It could be that Thallus said that an eclipse occurred in the early-mid first century and that Africanus proposed that this was the darkness in the crucifixion and called it an unlikely explanation. But I agree with Allison that it's most likely that Thallus was explaining away the darkness as a natural eclipse in order to provoke this reaction by Africanus.

In other known passages by Thallus, Thallus says that certain mythical figures were real life people:
Quote
Lactantius [wrote in Latin]: "Theophilus, in a book on historical matters written to Autolycus, says that in his own history Thallus says that Belus, whom the Babylonians and Assyrians worshipped, is found to predate the Trojan War by 322 years."

Translator's Note: ... this quote shows that Thallus appeared to euhemerize myths, i.e. he found or created a naturalistic explanation for fantastic claims.
https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html
There are other numerous surviving passages where Thallus talks about legendary Greek figures like Cronus and the Titans having battles with kings only a few centuries before the battle of Troy. And Tertullian in Apologeticus writes:
Quote
"And so, as many experts as there are in letters, neither Diodorus the Greek nor Thallus... prints that Saturn was anything but a man."

It would therefore be in the nature of Thallus' writing for Thallus to address the issue of the darkness in c.33 AD and dismiss it as a natural phenomenon.

Dr. Jeannie Constantinou quotes and explains St John Chrysostom as saying that it was not an eclipse, but an "unnatural" event:
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[Says St. John Chrysostom:] "...that darkness was a token of His anger at their crime. For that it was not an eclipse, but both wrath and indignation, is not hence alone manifest, but also by the time, for it continued three hours; but an eclipse takes place in one moment of time.” So you note here that Chrysostom realizes that this was not an eclipse. This was an unnatural event. An eclipse is a natural event.
...
Thallus was disputing the fact that the darkness that occurred was supernatural. He was saying that the darkness that happened at the time of Christ’s death was merely an eclipse. ... This is extraordinarily important because Thallus is writing only 20 or 25 years after Christ’s crucifixion. ... Thallus is not disagreeing that [the darkness] occurred.
http://orthochristian.com/102630.html

Interestingly, Luke's gospel likely does say that the sun was eclipsed:
Quote

    It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land [or, earth] until three in the afternoon, while the sun's light failed [or, the sun was eclipsed]; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. [Luke 23:44-45]

It appears that Luke's Gospel originally explained the event as an eclipse. The majority of manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke have the Greek phrase eskotisthe ho helios ("the sun was darkened"), but the earliest manuscripts say tou heliou eklipontos ("the sun's light failed" or "the sun was in eclipse").[16] This earlier version is likely to have been the original one, amended by later scribes to correct what they assumed was an error, since they knew that an eclipse was impossible during Passover.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_darkness
Perhaps "eklipontos" or the "eclipsing" of the sun does not necessarily mean that the sun was eclipsed by the moon and could mean that it was eclipsed by a cloud cover?

Eusebius of Caesarea may have quoted Thallus about the eclipse when Eusebius wrote in his "Chronicle":
Quote
Jesus Christ, according to the prophecies which had been foretold, underwent
his passion in the 18th year of Tiberius [32 Ce]. Also at that time in other Greek compendiums we find an event recorded in these words: ‘the sun was eclipsed, Bithynia was struck by an earthquake, and in the city of Nicaea many buildings fell’. All these things happened to occur during the Lord’s passion. In fact, Phlegon, too, a distinguished reckoner of Olympiads, wrote more on these events in his 13th book, saying this: ‘Now, in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [32 Ce], a great eclipse of the sun occurred at the sixth hour [i.e. noon] that excelled every other before it, turning the day into
such darkness of night that the stars could be seen in heaven, and the earth
moved in Bithynia, toppling many buildings in the city of Nicaea’.
One reason is because Eusebius doesn't say which other "Greek compendiums" mention these events. And if he was using Thallus as the source for his quote, then it would be analogous to Africanus' use, since Africanus followed Thallus' discussion on the eclipse by talking about Phlegon's discussion of it. Since Eusebius follows Thallus' possible quote with Phlegon's, one could guess that Thallus wrote in the time before Phlegon.

Richard Carrier notes that Thallus was elsewhere one of Eusebius' sources and concludes that he must have been for this quote about the eclipse as well, noting:
Quote
Eusebius  is  quoting  some  number  of unnamed Greek chronologers who wrote the same line; Eusebius was using  Thallus,  a  Greek  chronologer,  as  a  source,  and  almost  certainly  the very same book by Thallus that Africanus cited; and Eusebius does
not reference or quote Thallus here in any other respect, even though he certainly would have (and thus certainly is). For if he bothered to do this for Phlegon and other ‘unnamed’ authors who mention the same event, he  could  hardly  have  omitted  Thallus... So we must assume he is not omitting Thallus, but including him among the several ‘others’ (or the one ‘other’) he quotes a line from.
http://www.jgrchj.net/volume8/JGRChJ8-8_Carrier.pdf
Carrier proposes that Thallus' quote did not refer to Jesus, but only to the events of the eclipse and earthquake, because Eusebius would have quoted Thallus on Jesus if he had. Further, "The curtness and brevity of this line is also what would be expected
from  a  treatise  that  covered  the  history  of  the  entire  world  over  the 
enormous course of twelve centuries in only three scrolls."


Another issue with Thallus' writing is the ending date for his works' chronology. Eusebius mentions:
Quote
From the three books of Thallus, in which he collects (events) briefly from the fall of Ilion to the 167th Olympiad.
Wikipedia notes that Eusebius' "text is preserved in an Armenian translation where many of the numerals are corrupt. The fall of Troy is 1184 BC, but the editors, Petermann and Karst, highlight that the end-date of the 167th Olympiad (109 BC) is contradicted by George Syncellus, who quotes Julius Africanus, and suggest that the end-date should read "217th Olympiad" [92 AD], a change of one character in Armenian."

This latter date would make more sense as it comes after the time of Christ.
Another writer says: "Eusebius tells us that this Thallus wrote in Greek an account of world history from the fall of Troy down to the mid-first century--c.52 CE." [the 202nd Olympiad], http://christianthinktank.com/jrthal.html

If the date in the Armenian text is correct and it narrated up to the 167th Olympiad of the Greek calendar, then Africanus was likely mistaken in seeing in Thallus' words a reference to the darkness in the Passion story.

Some like Whiston propose that Thallus is mentioned here in Josephus' Antiquities, Book 18, but the Greek text doesn't have that:
Quote
καὶ γὰρ ἦν ἄλλος Σαμαρεὺς γένος Καίσαρος δὲ ἀπελεύθερος: παρὰ τούτου δάνεισμα μυριάδας ἑκατὸν εὑρόμενος τῇ τε Ἀντωνίᾳ καταβάλλει τὸ ὀφειληθὲν χρέος καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν τῷ ἀναλώματι θεραπεύων τὸν Γάιον μειζόνως ἐν ἀξιώματι ἦν παρ᾽ αὐτῷ.

After this, Tiberius Caesar recommended to him his grandson, (20) and ordered that he should always accompany him when he went abroad. But upon Agrippa's kind reception by Antonia, he betook him to pay his respects to Caius, who was her grandson, and in very high reputation by reason of the good-will they bare his father. Now there was one Thallus, a freed-man of Caesar, of whom he borrowed a million of drachmae, and thence repaid Antonia the debt he owed her; and by sending the overplus in paying his court to Caius, became a person of great authority with him.
The decision to switch allos to Thallos was made as an emendation by an 18th c. writer, John Hudson. Is there any grammatical possibility that "allos" could be a miswriting of "Thallos"?

The German scholar F. Jacoby refers to
Quote
the manufacture of the name in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18.167, "for there was also Thallus" (according to John Hudson, The Works of Flavius Josephus, 1762; all the manuscripts actually read "for there was also another" (i.e. ALLOS instead of THALLOS); while an anonymous epitome of Josephus reads "there was in fact someone"), "a Samaritan by race, who happened to be a freedman of Caesar" (from whom Agrippa took out a huge loan in 36 AD).
https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html

Richard Carrier writes:
Quote
The addition of the letter theta was conjectured by Hudson in 1720, on the argument that ALLOS didn't make sense, and that Thallus was the attested name of an imperial freedman of Tiberius in inscriptions ("I put 'Thallos' in place of 'allos' by conjecture, as he is attested to have been among the freedmen of Tiberius, going by the inscriptions of Gruter," p. 810, translated from Hudson's Latin). But there is no good basis for this conjecture. First, the Greek actually does makes sense without the added letter (it means "another"), and all extant early tranlsations confirm this reading, and second, an epitome of this passage does not give a name but instead the generic "someone" and this suggests that no name was mentioned in the epitomizer's copy. But finally, the most likely name, if one were needed here at all, would be HALLOS, requiring no added letters, since an imperial freedman by this name is also known in the time of Tiberius from inscriptions.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html
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Offline rakovsky

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Seneca

An interesting question is what the 1st century philosopher Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.] thought about Christianity. Unless the surviving correspondence between him and Paul is genuine, which scholars tend to doubt, Seneca did not write openly about Christianity, even though he wrote about numerous other sects and religions. One explanation for this silence could be that he sympathized with Christianity, but as Paul's arrest showed, it was not politically prudent for Seneca, Nero's tutor, to openly support it.

Nonetheless, Seneca should have been aware of Christianity, since Paul in his epistles sends greetings to those of Nero's household in general, and particularly Epaphroditus, Nero's secretary. Further, Seneca's brother Gallio turned down hearing Paul's case:
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Some of Paul’s activities had led to riots in the provinces and his name repeatedly came to the attention of the Roman authori­ties. One such incident, four years earlier, involved Seneca’s brother Gallio, then ser­ving as a magistrate in Greece. The Jews of Corinth had charged Paul with spreading false doctrines and brought him before the magistrate’s court but Gallio refused to hear the case.
https://www.metrum.org/gosen/fromtraggospel.htm#_ftnref8
Quote
Seneca the Younger, in his book On Superstition (where he criticizes every known cult and religion) makes no mention whatsoever of Jesus or Christianity.... Gallio, Seneca's older brother... was the magistrate who heard Paul's case (Acts 18:12-17).
https://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/27673-christian-foundation-crumbles-under-scrutiny-by-paul-davis

Here is what Acts 18 says about this:
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12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat,

13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.

14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:

15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.

16 And he drave them from the judgment seat.

17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
This sounds likely. In Josephus I read many accounts where Syrians, Greeks, and Jews go to the Romans to settle disputes with each other, and the Romans' decisions are unpredictable in that they don't automatically side with one group over the other. There were also numerous Hellenistic Jews in that era in the Levant who had close relations with the Greeks. That being the case, it's easily foreseeable that the Romans wouldn't punish Paul for teaching in contradiction to the Torah.

The introduction to a modern edition of Seneca's Letters from a Stoic, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Selected and Translated with an Introduction by Robin Campbell, Penguin Books, Baltimore ● Maryland, 1969) says:

Quote
"Christian writers have not been slow to recognize the remarkably close parallels between isolated sentences in Seneca's writings and verses of the Bible...

A few examples of sayings or ideas so paralleled are those of I Cor. iii, 16 (God's 'indwelling presence' – cf. Letter XLI, init.); 1 Tim. vi, 10 ('money the root of all evil');... Rom. xii, 5, 10 (we are members of one body, and 'Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love', etc.); Acts xvii, 29 (God is not like any gold or silver image); Heb. iv, 13 (not even thoughts are hidden from God – cf. Letter LXXXIII, init.); Matt. v, 45 (the sun rises on the wicked as well); and (as translated in the New English Bible) Eph. V, I (imitate, try to be like God).

Whereas Paul writes: "The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. vi. 10)", Seneca says in ("On Tranquility of Soul", 8), "Riches [are] the greatest source of human trouble." Whereas Paul writes: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love." (Rom. xii. 10), Seneca writes "Man is born for mutual assistance." (On Anger, i.5) Matthew v.45 says: "He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good", whereas Seneca writes (On Benefits, i, 1): "How many are unworthy of the light! and yet the day dawns."
A long list comparing Seneca's statements with Biblical ones can be found here:
https://books.google.com/books?id=nymjLdupvq0C&pg=PA133&lpg=PA133&dq=seneca+Be+kindly+affectioned+one+to+another+with+brotherly+love&source=bl&ots=bwOJfSebaV&sig=parRbRsRAfCoIcDO2Io7h32qEsk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj615WwrdDZAhXKjVkKHQkWA7EQ6AEIVjAD#v=onepage&q=seneca%20Be%20kindly%20affectioned%20one%20to%20another%20with%20brotherly%20love&f=false

It is reasonably possible that Seneca or Paul influenced the other, or that these were common ideas in the same philosophical circles that Paul and Seneca both drew from.

Seneca wrote:
<<Certain foreign religions  became the object of the imperial suspicion and amongst the proofs of adherence to the foreign culture or superstition was that of abstinence from the flesh of animals. At the earnest entreaty of my father, therefore I was induced to return to my former dietetic habits.">> (http://www.ivu.org/history/greece_rome/seneca.html) It's interesting that we don't hear Jesus specifically eating meat, other than fish, in the New Testament. But we don't find an order to be vegetarian in the New Testament. Peter's vision told him to eat animals in Acts. And Paul wrote in Romans 14:1-2: "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs." And he writes in Romans 14:20-21: "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to let his eating be a stumbling block. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything to cause your brother to stumble."
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 11:35:15 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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There is also the weird fact that a "Seneca" is listed as the tenth bishop of Jerusalem in Eusebius' history of the Church. It's weird because the leaders of the Church of Jerusalem in the 1st century were Jewish. Maybe this was a Christian who, on converting to Christianity, took on the name of Seneca in honor of the philosopher in a way like Saul received the name of Paul or like Simon took on the name Peter?

Quote
3. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchæus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250104.htm
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 01:07:46 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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The story of Seneca's forced suicide by Nero is disturbing.

It's questionable how much Seneca lived a life in agreement with Christian virtue.
Quote
In 55 AD Seneca wrote his On Clemency which was written following Nero's murder of Britannicus, perhaps as a means of assuring the citizenry that the murder would be the end, not the beginning of bloodshed.[24] On Clemency is a work which, although it flatters Nero, was intended to show the correct (Stoic) path of virtue for a ruler.[21] ... the ancient sources suggest, over time, Seneca and Burrus lost their influence over the emperor. In 59 they had reluctantly agreed to Agrippina's murder, and afterward Tacitus reports that Seneca had to write a letter justifying the murder to the Senate.
...
In his own time, he was accused of hypocrisy or, at least, a less than "Stoic" lifestyle. While banished to Corsica, he wrote a plea for restoration rather incompatible with his advocacy of a simple life and the acceptance of fate... The claims of Publius Suillius Rufus that Seneca acquired some "three hundred million sesterces" through Nero's favor, are highly partizan, but they reflect the reality that Seneca was both powerful and wealthy.[46] Robin Campbell, a translator of Seneca's letters, writes that the "stock criticism of Seneca right down the centuries [has been]...the apparent contrast between his philosophical teachings and his practice."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_the_Younger

I expect that Seneca wrote his approval for the murders of Britannicus and Agrippina because Nero forced him to, or that he strongly risked punishment had he not, as shown by his forced suicide by Nero later. Still, it hardly seems in agreement with Christian virtue.

Paul did have contact with Stoics, as the story in Acts 17 says that Paul debated "Stoic philosophers".

Quote

a Romano-Greek philosopher. (Wall painting, Pompeii).

...the first "pagan" Christians had trained in the Stoic tradition (Pantaenus, Clement, et al) and carried into the new faith the asceticism, seclusion, coarse dress and hirsute appearance which were all the marks of the Stoic sage on his way to "Perfection".
...
A lost work De superstitione [by Seneca] ridiculed popular conceptions of the gods.
... Seneca... was contemporaneous with the "Jesus" of legend. Yet though Seneca wrote extensively on many subjects and people, nothing relating to "Jesus" ever caught his attention

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/seneca.html

But if De superstitione is lost, what basis do the writer above or Paul Davis have for their assertions (eg. in Davis' essay "Christian foundation crumbles under scrutiny", https://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/27673-christian-foundation-crumbles-under-scrutiny-by-paul-davis) that Seneca and this work didn't mention Jesus?

Quote
The apostle Paul first visited the city in AD 51 or 52, when Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul of Achaia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient%20Corinth
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Offline rakovsky

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Some writers have proposed that Seneca, in his essay "On Anger"/"De Ira", alluded to Jesus when he spoke of a foreign crucified leader. It is perhaps relevant that Seneca dedicated "On Anger" to his older brother Gallio, who in the Book of Acts rejected a Jewish petition to punish Paul for contradicting the Torah.

Since it was written after January 41 AD, Seneca could have reasonably known about Jesus when he composed De Ira.
Quote
The exact date of the writing of the work is unknown, apart from an earliest date (terminum post quem), deduced from repeated references by Seneca to the episodic anger of Caligula, who died 24 January 41 AD.[3][4] Seneca refers to his brother by his native name, Novatus, rather than his adoptive one, Gallio, which he bore by 52/53 AD, suggesting the work may date from the mid 40s AD.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Ira

In his first chapter, he introduces general philosophical criticisms of anger, also noting how angry people act like they are crazy. Then in chapter 2 in De Ira, in order to further criticize anger, give examples, and show the reader how it is harmful and cruel, Seneca lists manifestations of anger and then six cases of leaders who were the unfortunate victims of anger:
Quote
2. Next,  if  you  choose  to  view  its  results  and  the  mischief  that  it  does,  no  plague  has  cost  the  human  race  more  dear:  you  will  see  slaughterings  and  poisonings,  accusations  and  counter-accusations, sacking of cities, ruin of whole peoples, the persons of princes sold into slavery by auction, torches applied to roofs, and fires not merely confined within city-walls but making whole tracts of country glow with hostile flame. See the foundations of the most celebrated cities hardly now to be discerned; they were ruined by anger. See deserts extending for  many  miles  without  an  inhabitant:  they  have  been  desolated  by  anger. 

See  all  the  chiefs  whom tradition mentions as instances of ill fate; anger stabbed one of them in his bed, struck down another, though he was protected by the sacred rights of hospitality, tore another to pieces in the very home of the laws and in sight of the crowded forum, bade one shed his own blood by  the  parricide  hand  of  his  son,  another  to  have  his  royal  throat  cut  by  the  hand  of  a  slave,  another to stretch out his limbs on the cross: and hitherto I am speaking merely of individual
cases.
The Latin says "alium in cruce membra diffindere". Does the Latin phrase necessarily refer to crucifixion?

Seneca here is suggesting his own sympathy for the victims and finds that they were treated unjustly. He lists the crucified one last, which suggests that this victim was the latest in the list. By listing the crucified victim last, he also suggests that this one was dealt with most severely, since in the preceding sentences, Seneca builds up his list of manifestations of anger, going from "slaughterings" up to describing whole territories destroyed and turned into desert by anger.

Livio Stechini interprets the passage this way:
Quote
Seneca lists six great men of the past who aspired to royalty but came to an evil end, the last being condemned to have his limbs split asunder upon a cross. The context indicates that this unnamed individual was of foreign nationality, and that his death occurred later than that of Pompey [d. 48 BC]--hence within living memory. See Léon Herrmann, Chrestos (Brussels, 1970), pp. 41-43.
https://www.metrum.org/gosen/fromtraggospel.htm
Unfortunately, I don't have Herrmann's book or read French.

Could one of those killed really have been Pompey?
The Wikipedia article says that he was stabbed by three assassins, the first Achillas was head of the army, Lucius Septimius had been an officer, and the third was Savius (I don't know if he was a slave).
Septimius "thrust a sword into Pompey and then Achillas and Savius stabbed him with daggers." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompey#Civil_war_and_assassination)

The Tektonics webpage claims about Stechini's theory:
Quote
I'm curious what "context" is supposed to implicate a foreigner, apart from the fact that a Roman of rank would not have been crucified. And it is not only this individual who is unnamed; all six are unnamed, a fact which clearly indicates Seneca expected them to be familiar to his audience.
http://www.tektonics.org/qt/seneca.php
It would make sense that Seneca did not name the leaders killed if they (like Jesus) were out of favour with or killed by Rome, since Seneca reasonably might not have wanted to openly appear to be supporting them.
It also makes sense that the person would be a foreigner, since he suffered crucifixion.

Ben Smith of the Text Excavation project wrote:
Quote
I asked for candidates for these six victims of anger on the FRDB (formerly the IIDB), and Jeffrey Gibson further submitted my inquiry to Classics-L, and the following are the suggestions for each victim:

    Stabbed in bed: Candaules by Gyges.
    Struck down at a banquet: Cleitus the black by Alexander of Macedon.
    Killed in the forum: Lucius Appuleius Saturninus by a mob.
    Parricide: The only suggestion was Oedipus as a sort of archetypal figure, but the one making the suggestion acknowledged that it seemed less apt than the suggestions for the rest of the list.
    Throat slit by a slave: Ptolemy of Mauretania on orders from Caligula.
    Crucified: Gavius by Verres, or Hannibal (a Carthaginian general, but not the famous Hannibal Barca) by his own men.

http://www.textexcavation.com/seneca.html
Ptolemy of Mauretania was killed in 40 AD. I couldn't find confirmation that his throat was cut by a slave.

The 6th person could not have been Gavius, sine he was not a "chief":
Quote
A good example would be Cicero's accusation of Verres, former governor of Sicily, for inflicting the cruel penalty of crucifixion on a Roman citizen, Gavius, without adequate investigation and proof to show that he was indeed a spy. This unjust action of Verres was clearly unbearable and scandalous to Cicero...

Paul's Message of the Cross as Body Language, by Wenhua Shi
The Hannibal mentioned above was a general crucified in 257 BC after defeat in Tunis or 238 BC after defeat in Sardinia, long before Pompey or Ptolemy of Mauretania. I am not sure how to accommodate these two accounts below. Maybe these are two different people:
Quote
Hannibal (died 238 BCE) was a Carthaginian general who took part in the Mercenary War between Carthage and rebel mercenaries. He should not be confused with the more renowned Hannibal Barca, son of Hamilcar Barca.
...
During the siege of Tunis he was captured during a night raid and crucified, along with some other high-ranking Carthaginians.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannibal_(Mercenary_War)
Quote
Hannibal ( †257): Carthaginian general, played a role during the first years of the First Punic War. [First Punic War was in 264-241 BCE]

In 258, he was sent to Sardinia, which he had to defend against the Romans. However, he was no match for the Roman commander Gaius Sulpicius Paterculus, who defeated him. Hannibal was crucified by his own men.
http://www.livius.org/articles/person/hannibal-2/
While his killing in the form of crucifixion was severe, it would have been foreseeable (unlike a particularly unlucky surprise fate) in that he was a general waging a war during a time when captives were sometimes crucified, as when Alexander of Macedonia crucified many people in Tyre after his conquest.
There is a pattern of people in Seneca's list being killed in some treacherous circumstance, like stabbing someone in his bed or killing someone else when the rules of hospitality demanded their protection. General Hannibal's killing by his own men would fit that pattern, but the peaceful Jesus' betrayal by Judas and his accusation by the Sanhedrin and crucifixion for being a rebel "king of the Jews" despite seeking a heavenly kingdom instead of an earthly one would fit that mold too.

Regulus was a Roman consul killed by the Carthaginians in 250 BC:
Quote
He was a Consul captured by Carthaginians during the Punic War and held captive. The Carthaginians sent him to Rome (250 BC)to argue for an exchange between Carthage and Rome of captives and for peace. Instead he argued against the exchange and peace, because it was not in the best interests of Rome. He then kept his word and went back to Carthage where he was mercilessly tortured to death. He is considered an idealized Roman for his loyalty to Rome above all else, his honor, as well his ability to stratagize.
http://bcharchive.org/2/thearchives/showthread0660.html?t=64505

Elsewhere Seneca does write about Regulus' crucifixion:
Quote
ON PROVIDENCE, III.
. . . Let us come now to Regulus+: what injury did Fortune do to him because she made him a pattern of loyalty, a pattern of endurance? Nails pierce his skin, and wherever he rests his wearied body he lies upon a wound; his eyes are stark in eternal sleeplessness. But the greater his torture is, the greater shall be his glory. Would you like to know how little he regrets that he rated virtue at such a price? Make him whole again and send him back to the senate; he will express the same opinion.

Do you, then, think Maecenas a happier man, who, distressed by love and grieving over the daily repulses of his wayward wife, courted slumber by means of harmonious music, echoing faintly from a distance? Although he drugs himself with wine, and diverts his worried mind with the sound of rippling waters, and beguiles it with a thousand pleasures, yet he, upon his bed of down, will no more close his eyes than that other upon his cross. But while the one, consoled by the thought that he is suffering hardship for the sake of right, turns his eyes from his suffering to its cause, the other, jaded with pleasures and struggling with too much good fortune, is harassed less by what he suffers than by the reason for his suffering. Surely the human race has not come so completely under the sway of vice as to cause a doubt whether, if Fate should give the choice, more men would rather be born a Regulus than a Maecenas; or if there should be one bold enough to say that he would rather have been born a Maecenas than a Regulus, the fellow, although he may not admit it, would rather have been born a Terentia/a!
Certainly Seneca reveres Regulus, and by including him in a book "On Providence" shows that Regulus was "ill-fated". Plus, he was killed in treacherous circumstances, since he was acting as a diplomat from Rome to Carthage. So he looks like a good candidate. However, Regulus was not a nation's "chief", nor did he die after Pompey or Ptolemy of Mauritania.
Also, is it in question whether Regulus was killed by crucifixion? Seneca elsewhere talks about Regulus being in a chest:
Quote
EPISTLE LXVII.
......
Now a life of honour includes various kinds of conduct; it may include the chest in which Regulus was confined, or the wound of Cato which was torn open by Cato's own hand, or the exile of Rutilius, or the cup of poison which removed Socrates from gaol to heaven.

SEE Tetullian's On Martyrs and compare it with Seneca's description of the crucified chief in Latin ("alium in cruce membra diffindere"):
Quote
Chapter 4
.....
Regulus, a Roman general, who had been taken prisoner by the Carthaginians, declined to be exchanged for a large number of Carthaginian captives, choosing rather to be given back to the enemy. He was crammed into a sort of chest; and, everywhere pierced by nails driven from the outside, he endured so many crucifixions.

IN Latin

Regulus, dux Romanorum, captus a Carthaginensibus, cum se unum pro multis captivis Carthaginensibus compensari noluisset, maluit hostibus reddi et in arcae genus stipatus undique extrinsecus clavis transfixus, tot cruces sensit

I think that Seneca could be writing deliberately ambiguously by not naming the characters in his passage.
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Seneca writes in Book 1 of De Ira:
Quote
What are we to say to the argument that, if anger were a good thing it would attach itself to all of the most noble men? Yet the most irascible of creatures are infants, old men, and sick people.


Quote
we destroy monstrous births, and we also drown our children if they are born weakly or unnaturally formed; to separate what is useless from what is sound is an act, not of anger, but of reason.
:o


What does it mean that the three men here were "set up to die in the same place"? Is Seneca saying that the three were set up in the air at that location as in a crucifixion like one sets up a cross?:
Quote
I remember Gnaeus Piso, a man who was free from many vices, yet of a perverse disposition, and one who mistook harshness for consistency. In his anger he ordered a soldier to be led off to execution because he had returned from furlough without his comrade, as though he must have murdered him if he could not show him. When the man asked for time for search, he would not grant it: the condemned man was brought outside the rampart, and was just offering his neck to the axe, when suddenly there appeared his comrade who was thought to be slain. Hereupon the centurion in charge of the execution bade the guardsman sheathe his sword, and led the condemned man back to Piso, to restore to him the innocence which Fortune had restored to the soldier. They were led into his presence by their fellow soldiers amid the great joy of the whole camp, embracing one another and accompanied by a vast crowd. Piso mounted the tribunal in a fury and ordered them both to be executed, both him who had not murdered and him who had not been slain. What could be more unworthy than this? Because one was proved to be innocent, two perished. Piso even added a third: for he actually ordered the centurion, who had brought back the condemned man, to be put to death. Three men were set up to die in the same place because one was innocent.
The Latin says " Piso adiecit et tertium; nam ipsum centurionem qui damnatum reduxerat duci iussit. Constituti sunt in eodem illo loco perituri tres ob unius innocentiam."

Quote
In all dealing with crime he will remember that the one form of punishment is meant to make bad men better, and the other to put them out of the way. In either case he will look to the future, not to the past: for, as Plato says, "no wise man punishes any one because he has sinned, but that he may sin no more: for what is past cannot be recalled, but what is to come may be checked."
Do you agree or disagree with Plato?
I don't know that this agrees with the Biblical idea of the Last Judgment.

When Seneca writes
Quote
You are as yet only in the first stage of error, and do not go wrong seriously, although you do so often: then I will try to amend you by a reprimand given first in private and then in public.[4] You, again, have gone too far to be restored to virtue by words alone; you must be kept in order by disgrace. For the next, some stronger measure is required, something that he can feel must be branded upon him; you, sir, shall be sent into exile and to a desert place.
The footnotes in Wikisource say:
[4] The gospel rule, Matt, xviii. 15.

Matt xviii 15 is not the same exact thing because it deals with intra-church relations, whereas Seneca deals with public law. But I see alot of overlap between the two. It's a good question how the numerous parallels between Seneca's writing and ideas in the New Testament came about. Maybe there was mutual influence between Stoic circles and the Christians.

What is the etymology or literal meaning of "Jove" or "Ioue" when Seneca writes:
Quote
True, they will say something which you may think shows a great spirit, like Gaius Caesar, who when angry with heaven because it interfered with his ballet-dancers, whom he imitated more carefully than he attended to them when they acted, and because it frightened his revels by its thunders, surely ill-directed,[9] challenged Jove to fight, and that to the death, shouting the Homeric verse :—

            "Carry me off, or I will carry thee!

How great was his madness! He must have believed either that he could not be hurt even by Jupiter himself, or that he could hurt even Jupiter itself.

8. Ceterum sermone, conatu et omni extra paratu facient magnitudinis fidem; eloquentur aliquid quod tu magni <animi> putes, sicut C. Caesar, qui iratus caelo quod obstreperetur pantomimis, quos imitabatur studiosius quam spectabat, quodque comessatio sua fulminibus terreretur (prorsus parum certis), ad pugnam uocauit Iouem et quidem sine missione, Homericum illum exclamans uersum:
e m anaeir ego se.

9. Quanta dementia fuit! Putauit aut sibi noceri ne ab Ioue quidem posse aut se nocere etiam Ioui posse.
The English translation translates Jove as Jupiter the second and third time.

Wikipedia says:
Quote
"Jove (from the archaic Latin for father god) usually refers to the god Jupiter (mythology)."
Sure "Jove" as a word indicated "father god" but I highly doubt it etymologically meant "father god", isn't it from Iu-/Ju- meaning sky? The personification of the sky as made the high god? 4.255.51.153 (talk) 22:07, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jove_(disambiguation)

Quote
From Latin Iove (ablative singular case of Iuppiter), from Proto-Italic *djowe-, ablative case of *djous, from Proto-Indo-European *dyḗws.
Pronunciation

    (Roman mythology) Jupiter, god of the sky.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Jove#Etymology

Quote
"Jove, god of the sky and chief of the gods," from PIE *dyeu-peter- "god-father" (originally vocative, "the name naturally occurring most frequently in invocations" [Tucker]), from *deiw-os "god" (from root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god") + peter "father" in the sense of "male head of a household" (see father (n.)).
https://www.etymonline.com/word/Jupiter?ref=etymonline_crossreference

Was Jove a way of referring to God Jimself in Roman mythology, comparable to how Josephus describes Romans or Greeks discussing God? The difficulty I have is that in Roman mythology, Jupiter was a deity born from other beings, whereas God Himself, the Self-Existent One (as in Philo's somewhat Hellenistic theology and maybe Plato's theology), does not have a creator.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 03:59:07 PM by rakovsky »
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Seneca writes in Book 1 of De Ira:
Quote
What are we to say to the argument that, if anger were a good thing it would attach itself to all of the most noble men? Yet the most irascible of creatures are infants, old men, and sick people.

Well, "there's no fool like an old fool."

But seriously, I tend to think that age usually makes a good man better and bad man worse.

Quote
we destroy monstrous births, and we also drown our children if they are born weakly or unnaturally formed; to separate what is useless from what is sound is an act, not of anger, but of reason.
:o

Common practice everywhere in the Greco-Roman world. I seem to recall there's a text somewhere commenting on how the Christians are strange for not doing this.

What does it mean that the three men here were "set up to die in the same place"? Is Seneca saying that the three were set up in the air at that location as in a crucifixion like one sets up a cross?:
Quote
I remember Gnaeus Piso, a man who was free from many vices, yet of a perverse disposition, and one who mistook harshness for consistency. In his anger he ordered a soldier to be led off to execution because he had returned from furlough without his comrade, as though he must have murdered him if he could not show him. When the man asked for time for search, he would not grant it: the condemned man was brought outside the rampart, and was just offering his neck to the axe, when suddenly there appeared his comrade who was thought to be slain. Hereupon the centurion in charge of the execution bade the guardsman sheathe his sword, and led the condemned man back to Piso, to restore to him the innocence which Fortune had restored to the soldier. They were led into his presence by their fellow soldiers amid the great joy of the whole camp, embracing one another and accompanied by a vast crowd. Piso mounted the tribunal in a fury and ordered them both to be executed, both him who had not murdered and him who had not been slain. What could be more unworthy than this? Because one was proved to be innocent, two perished. Piso even added a third: for he actually ordered the centurion, who had brought back the condemned man, to be put to death. Three men were set up to die in the same place because one was innocent.
The Latin says " Piso adiecit et tertium; nam ipsum centurionem qui damnatum reduxerat duci iussit. Constituti sunt in eodem illo loco perituri tres ob unius innocentiam."

My guess would be that in this case "set up" is more a synonym for "appointed to, condemned." They could have been crucified, sure. But I don't think it can be inferred just from that line.

Quote
In all dealing with crime he will remember that the one form of punishment is meant to make bad men better, and the other to put them out of the way. In either case he will look to the future, not to the past: for, as Plato says, "no wise man punishes any one because he has sinned, but that he may sin no more: for what is past cannot be recalled, but what is to come may be checked."
Do you agree or disagree with Plato?
I don't know that this agrees with the Biblical idea of the Last Judgment.

I agree with Plato and I think this is completely in line with Christ. An unrepentant sinner in Heaven (assuming that Heaven and Hell are actually places and not just states) would just make Heaven Hell for everybody else. Imagine a Jew being forced to spend eternity with an unrepentant Hitler.

If the damned can repent, then hellfire is meant to get them there. But if they are truly beyond repentance, then segregating them is the most humane thing possible (except maybe outside of annihilating them, but that's likely unacceptable for other reasons).

When Seneca writes
Quote
You are as yet only in the first stage of error, and do not go wrong seriously, although you do so often: then I will try to amend you by a reprimand given first in private and then in public.[4] You, again, have gone too far to be restored to virtue by words alone; you must be kept in order by disgrace. For the next, some stronger measure is required, something that he can feel must be branded upon him; you, sir, shall be sent into exile and to a desert place.
The footnotes in Wikisource say:
[4] The gospel rule, Matt, xviii. 15.

Matt xviii 15 is not the same exact thing because it deals with intra-church relations, whereas Seneca deals with public law. But I see alot of overlap between the two. It's a good question how the numerous parallels between Seneca's writing and ideas in the New Testament came about. Maybe there was mutual influence between Stoic circles and the Christians.

I think it's a sort of background "common sense" ethics that was in the air at the time. It just happened to be right.

What is the etymology or literal meaning of "Jove" or "Ioue" when Seneca writes:
Quote
True, they will say something which you may think shows a great spirit, like Gaius Caesar, who when angry with heaven because it interfered with his ballet-dancers, whom he imitated more carefully than he attended to them when they acted, and because it frightened his revels by its thunders, surely ill-directed,[9] challenged Jove to fight, and that to the death, shouting the Homeric verse :—

            "Carry me off, or I will carry thee!

How great was his madness! He must have believed either that he could not be hurt even by Jupiter himself, or that he could hurt even Jupiter itself.

8. Ceterum sermone, conatu et omni extra paratu facient magnitudinis fidem; eloquentur aliquid quod tu magni <animi> putes, sicut C. Caesar, qui iratus caelo quod obstreperetur pantomimis, quos imitabatur studiosius quam spectabat, quodque comessatio sua fulminibus terreretur (prorsus parum certis), ad pugnam uocauit Iouem et quidem sine missione, Homericum illum exclamans uersum:
e m anaeir ego se.

9. Quanta dementia fuit! Putauit aut sibi noceri ne ab Ioue quidem posse aut se nocere etiam Ioui posse.
The English translation translates Jove as Jupiter the second and third time.

Wikipedia says:
Quote
"Jove (from the archaic Latin for father god) usually refers to the god Jupiter (mythology)."
Sure "Jove" as a word indicated "father god" but I highly doubt it etymologically meant "father god", isn't it from Iu-/Ju- meaning sky? The personification of the sky as made the high god? 4.255.51.153 (talk) 22:07, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jove_(disambiguation)

Quote
From Latin Iove (ablative singular case of Iuppiter), from Proto-Italic *djowe-, ablative case of *djous, from Proto-Indo-European *dyḗws.
Pronunciation

    (Roman mythology) Jupiter, god of the sky.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Jove#Etymology

Quote
"Jove, god of the sky and chief of the gods," from PIE *dyeu-peter- "god-father" (originally vocative, "the name naturally occurring most frequently in invocations" [Tucker]), from *deiw-os "god" (from root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god") + peter "father" in the sense of "male head of a household" (see father (n.)).
https://www.etymonline.com/word/Jupiter?ref=etymonline_crossreference

Was Jove a way of referring to God Jimself in Roman mythology, comparable to how Josephus describes Romans or Greeks discussing God? The difficulty I have is that in Roman mythology, Jupiter was a deity born from other beings, whereas God Himself, the Self-Existent One (as in Philo's somewhat Hellenistic theology and maybe Plato's theology), does not have a creator.

Plato was very much into allegorizing the Greek myths when they conflicted with his own theology. It was a common practice for the philosophers. So yes, they likely would call the self-existent God "Jupiter/Jove" and say that Juno, Saturn, Uranus, etc. are just metaphors for something.

As a Stoic, Seneca would have similar sympathies. Who knows what Caesar believed?
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 10:07:04 PM by Volnutt »
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Plato was very much into allegorizing the Greek myths when they conflicted with his own theology. It was a common practice for the philosophers. So yes, they likely would call the self-existent God "Jupiter/Jove" and say that Juno, Saturn, Uranus, etc. are just metaphors for something.

As a Stoic, Seneca would have similar sympathies. Who knows what Caesar believed?
I remember some figure in post 1500 English language literature exclaiming "By Jove...." I took it to refer to God, like to Jehovah, and not that the person believed in Roman mythology whereby Jupiter had a biological lineague, was born of another god, etc.
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Plato was very much into allegorizing the Greek myths when they conflicted with his own theology. It was a common practice for the philosophers. So yes, they likely would call the self-existent God "Jupiter/Jove" and say that Juno, Saturn, Uranus, etc. are just metaphors for something.

As a Stoic, Seneca would have similar sympathies. Who knows what Caesar believed?
I remember some figure in post 1500 English language literature exclaiming "By Jove...." I took it to refer to God, like to Jehovah, and not that the person believed in Roman mythology whereby Jupiter had a biological lineague, was born of another god, etc.

I've seen By Jove in a lot of contexts and I always took it as more mocking. Swear by Jove, who doesn't really exist, instead of by the true God. I've heard people, including atheists, jokingly swear by Vishnu, Odin, Buddha, just a generic "ye gods," etc.

Not necessarily a nice thing to do when it's a god with actual followers outside of a few hipsters on the internet, but it is what it is.


Other nonliteral examples: the saying "Cupid makes fools of us all," all the references to Venus in popular songs, the phrase "nectar of the gods," calling a strong person "Hercules," calling a tall woman an Amazon, the FTD Mercury man.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 02:20:23 AM by Volnutt »
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Jove is always Jupiter. If, for instance, you read the versions of Homer by Chapman or Alexander Pope the name "Jove" appears all the time for him.
Quote
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
- Berdyaev

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Jove is always Jupiter. If, for instance, you read the versions of Homer by Chapman or Alexander Pope the name "Jove" appears all the time for him.

Oh, I know. I think Rakovsky is asking how common "Jupiter" or "Jove" was as a general term for the god of the philosophers and not Mr. Turn-Into-A-Cow-And-Rape-You.
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Offline rakovsky

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In BOOK 2, Chapter 16, does deumque mean exactly the same thing as God when Seneca writes:
Quote
Quid, quod ne illud quidem verum est, optima animalia esse iracundissima? Feras putem, quibus ex raptu alimenta sunt, meliores quo iratiores ; patientiam laudaverim boum et equorum frenos sequentium. Quid est autem cur hominem ad tam infelicia exempla revoces, cum habeas mundum deumque, quem ex omnibus animalibus, ut solus imitetur, solus intellegit ? " Simplicissimi," inquit, " omnium habentur iracundi."

What if I declare that it is not even true that the best animals are the most prone to anger? I may suppose that wild beasts, who gain their food by rapine, are better the angrier they are; but I should praise oxen and horses who obey the rein for their patience. What reason, however, have you for referring mankind to such wretched models, when you have the universe and God, whom he alone of animals imitates because he alone comprehends Him ?"

I liked what Seneca said in Chapter 26:
Quote
"Yet as it is the act of a madman to be angry with inanimate objects, so also is it to be angry with dumb animals, which can do us no wrong because they are not able to form a purpose; and we cannot call anything a wrong unless it be done intentionally. They are, therefore, able to hurt us, just as a sword or a stone may do so, but they are not able to do us a wrong. Yet some men think themselves insulted when the same horses which are docile with one rider are restive with another, as though it were through their deliberate choice, and not through habit and cleverness of handling that some horses are more easily managed by some men than by others. And as it is foolish to be angry with them, so it is to be angry with children, and with men who have little more sense than children: for all these sins, before a just judge, ignorance would be as effective an excuse as innocence."

Seneca appears to not consider the gods responsible for people's destiny:
Quote
There are some things which are unable to hurt us, and whose power is exclusively beneficial and salutary, as, for example, the immortal gods, who neither wish nor are able to do harm: for their temperament is naturally gentle and tranquil, and no more likely to wrong others than to wrong themselves. Foolish people who know not the truth hold them answerable for storms at sea, excessive rain, and long winters, whereas all the while these phenomena by which we suffer or profit take place without any reference whatever to us: it is not for our sake that the universe causes summer and winter to succeed one another; these have a law of their own, according to which their divine functions are performed. We think too much of ourselves, when we imagine that we are worthy to have such prodigious revolutions effected for our sake: so, then, none of these things take place in order to do us an injury, nay, on the contrary, they all tend to our benefit. (Chapter 27)

...in any case let us not be angry with ourselves..., and least of all with the gods: for whatever we suffer befalls us not by any ordinance of theirs but of the common law of all flesh. (Chapter 28)
I read that Calvin took his fatalism and his idea of predestination in part from the Stoics. But here, Seneca does not seem to portray the gods as particularly responsible for people's fates. How does this compare with Calvin's and Augustine's ideas of destiny and predestination and fate? Does Seneca consider the gods responsible for the natural order and uncaring about going out of their way to harm people, whereas Calvin and Augustine see God as particularly attentive to humans' fates?

Can you explain Seneca's idea in Chapter 30:
" Is it a good man who has wronged you? do not believe it: is it a bad one? do not be surprised at this; he will pay to someone else the penalty which he owes to you—indeed, by his sin he has already punished himself."

Good quote:
Quote
"It is the part of a great mind to despise wrongs done to it; the most contemptuous form of revenge is not to deem one's adversary worth taking vengeance upon. Many have taken small injuries much more seriously to heart than they need, by revenging them: that man is great and noble who like a large wild animal hears unmoved the tiny curs that bark at him." (Chapter 32)

Chapter 33 is a messed up story illustrating how a subject can best deal with a powerful killer (an emperor) by not showing any anger for even major harm suffered in order not to offend the killer.

The end of Chapter 34 reminds me of the teaching not to strike back in the gospel:
Quote
"...it takes two men to fight. But suppose that there is an angry struggle on both sides, even then, he is the better man who first gives way; the winner is the real loser. He struck you; well then, do you fall back: if you strike him in turn you will give him both an opportunity and an excuse for striking you again: you will not be able to withdraw yourself from the struggle when you please."
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 06:52:06 PM by rakovsky »
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Jove is always Jupiter. If, for instance, you read the versions of Homer by Chapman or Alexander Pope the name "Jove" appears all the time for him.

Oh, I know. I think Rakovsky is asking how common "Jupiter" or "Jove" was as a general term for the god of the philosophers and not Mr. Turn-Into-A-Cow-And-Rape-You.

ROFL
 ;D ;D ;D
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In BOOK 2, Chapter 16, does deumque mean exactly the same thing as God when Seneca writes:
Quote
Quid, quod ne illud quidem verum est, optima animalia esse iracundissima? Feras putem, quibus ex raptu alimenta sunt, meliores quo iratiores ; patientiam laudaverim boum et equorum frenos sequentium. Quid est autem cur hominem ad tam infelicia exempla revoces, cum habeas mundum deumque, quem ex omnibus animalibus, ut solus imitetur, solus intellegit ? " Simplicissimi," inquit, " omnium habentur iracundi."

What if I declare that it is not even true that the best animals are the most prone to anger? I may suppose that wild beasts, who gain their food by rapine, are better the angrier they are; but I should praise oxen and horses who obey the rein for their patience. What reason, however, have you for referring mankind to such wretched models, when you have the universe and God, whom he alone of animals imitates because he alone comprehends Him ?"

I'm guessing either whatever Deistic God Seneca believed in or else a gloss like "Heaven."


Seneca appears to not consider the gods responsible for people's destiny:
Quote
There are some things which are unable to hurt us, and whose power is exclusively beneficial and salutary, as, for example, the immortal gods, who neither wish nor are able to do harm: for their temperament is naturally gentle and tranquil, and no more likely to wrong others than to wrong themselves. Foolish people who know not the truth hold them answerable for storms at sea, excessive rain, and long winters, whereas all the while these phenomena by which we suffer or profit take place without any reference whatever to us: it is not for our sake that the universe causes summer and winter to succeed one another; these have a law of their own, according to which their divine functions are performed. We think too much of ourselves, when we imagine that we are worthy to have such prodigious revolutions effected for our sake: so, then, none of these things take place in order to do us an injury, nay, on the contrary, they all tend to our benefit. (Chapter 27)

...in any case let us not be angry with ourselves..., and least of all with the gods: for whatever we suffer befalls us not by any ordinance of theirs but of the common law of all flesh. (Chapter 28)
I read that Calvin took his fatalism and his idea of predestination in part from the Stoics. But here, Seneca does not seem to portray the gods as particularly responsible for people's fates. How does this compare with Calvin's and Augustine's ideas of destiny and predestination and fate? Does Seneca consider the gods responsible for the natural order and uncaring about going out of their way to harm people, whereas Calvin and Augustine see God as particularly attentive to humans' fates?

I think Calvin took his "stiff upper lip" approach to life from the Stoics, like most Western Europeans.

Seneca seems to be implying that God set up the universe to work perfectly and that people who die in natural disasters are only tragic, but acceptable, collateral damage. It's not that God doesn't care, but that God is willing to inflict that on them for some greater good. I guess the main way he would differ with Calvin or St. Augustine here is that Seneca likely didn't believe in any kind of Fall effecting nature.

Can you explain Seneca's idea in Chapter 30:
" Is it a good man who has wronged you? do not believe it: is it a bad one? do not be surprised at this; he will pay to someone else the penalty which he owes to you—indeed, by his sin he has already punished himself."

Sounds to me like a principle of "What goes around comes around." He'll get what's coming to him somewhere down the road when he falls afoul of the law or someone's he's wronged kicks the crap out of him. Ties in pretty neatly with the next story you quoted about the great man not needing to take revenge.



The end of Chapter 34 reminds me of the teaching not to strike back in the gospel:
Quote
"...it takes two men to fight. But suppose that there is an angry struggle on both sides, even then, he is the better man who first gives way; the winner is the real loser. He struck you; well then, do you fall back: if you strike him in turn you will give him both an opportunity and an excuse for striking you again: you will not be able to withdraw yourself from the struggle when you please."

Yeah, but the difference is that Seneca frames this as a strategic thing, to give yourself some protection. There's no real earthly advantage to verses like Matthew 5:40-41

Quote
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 09:27:56 PM by Volnutt »
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"Jupiter" is practically the same word as "Jove," for that matter -- etymologically, as "Jove pater," i.e., God as father, or the father god, and in practical fact by Roman times, as "Jupiter" was used as vocative (and then, I believe, also nominative) of "Jove."
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Offline rakovsky

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I like what Seneca says in Book 3:
Quote
Moreover, even if we pass over its immediate consequences, such as heavy losses, treacherous plots, and the constant anxiety produced by strife, anger pays a penalty at the same moment that it exacts one: it forswears human feelings. The latter urge us to love, anger urges us to hatred: the latter bid us do men good, anger bids us do them harm. Add to this that, although its rage arises from an excessive self-respect and appears to show high spirit, it really is contemptible and mean: for a man must be inferior to one by whom he thinks himself despised, whereas the truly great mind, which takes a true estimate of its own value, does not revenge an insult because it does not feel it. As weapons rebound from a hard surface, and solid substances hurt those who strike them, so also no insult can make a really great mind sensible of its presence, being weaker than that against which it is aimed. How far more glorious is it to throw back all wrongs and insults from oneself, like one wearing armour of proof against all weapons, for revenge is an admission that we have been hurt. That cannot be a great mind which is disturbed by injury. He who has hurt you must be either stronger or weaker than yourself. If he be weaker, spare him: if he be stronger, spare yourself.
Let me ask about the instance where the person is stronger. If someone severely hurt you, like performing rape or another injury, shouldn't one choose to press charges, effectively using the courts and state for revenge?
If a stronger person keeps bullying or hurting you, what about how it can be effective to fight back in order to get it to stop, even though the opponent is stronger?

He recommends against great undertakings or those which will not give us success:
Quote
A man's day, if he is engaged in many various occupations, never passes so happily that no man or no thing should give rise to some offence which makes the mind ripe for anger. Just as when one hurries through the crowded parts of the city one cannot help jostling many people, and one cannot help slipping at one place, being hindered at another, and splashed at another, so when one's life is spent in disconnected pursuits and wanderings, one must meet with many troubles and many accusations. One man deceives our hopes, another delays their fulfillment, another destroys them: our projects do not proceed according to our intention. No one is so favoured by Fortune as to find her always on his side if he tempts her often: and from this it follows that he who sees several enterprises turn out contrary to his wishes becomes dissatisfied with both men and things, and on the slightest provocation flies into a rage with people, with undertakings, with places, with fortune, or with himself. In order, therefore, that the mind may be at peace, it ought not to be hurried hither and thither, nor, as I said before, wearied by labour at great matters, or matters whose attainment is beyond its strength.

Be assured that the same rule applies both to public and private life: simple and manageable undertakings proceed according to the pleasure of the person in charge of them, but enormous ones, beyond his capacity to manage, are not easily undertaken. When he has got them to administer, they hinder him, and press hard upon him, and just as he thinks that success is within his grasp, they collapse, and carry him with them: thus it comes about that a man's wishes are often disappointed if he does not apply himself to easy tasks, yet wishes that the tasks which he undertakes may be easy. Whenever you would attempt anything, first form an estimate both of your own powers, of the extent of the matter which you are undertaking, and of the means by which you are to accomplish it: for if you have to abandon your work when it is half done, the disappointment will sour your temper. In such cases, it makes a difference whether one is of an ardent or of a cold and unenterprising temperament: for failure will rouse a generous spirit to anger, and will move a sluggish and dull one to sorrow. Let our undertakings, therefore, be neither petty nor yet presumptuous and reckless: let our hopes not range far from home: let us attempt nothing which if we succeed will make us astonished at our success.
What about something like the abolition of slavery or Apartheid? Living in the early 19th or mid 20th c., respectively, success in abolishing them was not attained, and was also stressful, yet was it also not a worthy task nonetheless?
Otherwise, he is saying truisms - I have experienced instances where I wanted or tried something great and it was beyond my grasp, depending on how one looks at it.

This sounds like a disturbing story to my modern, liberal ears, even though Plato ultimately restrained himself. It's the situation itself that feels uncomfortable to me:
Quote
Plato, when angry with his slave, could not prevail upon himself to wait, but straightway ordered him to take off his shirt and present his shoulders to the blows which he meant to give him with his own hand: then, when he perceived that he was angry, he stopped the hand which he had raised in the air, and stood like one in act to strike. Being asked by a friend who happened to come in, what he was doing, he answered: "I am making an angry man expiate his crime." He retained the posture of one about to give way to passion, as if struck with astonishment at its being so degrading to a philosopher, forgetting the slave, because he had found another still more deserving of punishment. He therefore denied himself the exercise of authority over his own household

Seneca writes that Caligula
Quote
beat senators with rods; he did it so often that he made men able to say, "It is the custom." He tortured them with all the most dismal engines in the world, with the cord, the boots, the rack, the fire, and the sight of his own face.
LOL
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Offline rakovsky

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Here is more wisdom by Seneca in Book III:
Quote
"It cannot be doubted that he who regards his tormentor with contempt raises himself above the common herd and looks down upon them from a loftier position: it is the property of true magnanimity not to feel the blows which it may receive. So does a huge wild beast turn slowly and gaze at yelping curs: so does the wave dash in vain against a great cliff. The man who is not angry remains unshaken by injury: he who is angry has been moved by it. "

Do you agree with this claim by Seneca:
<< "What then?" say you, “shall he not be punished?" He will be, even supposing that you do not wish it: for the greatest punishment for having done harm is the sense of having done it, and no one is more severely punished than he who is given over to the punishment of remorse.>>

Seneca makes an interesting observation how how angry people react when they realize that they became angry over nothing:
Quote
we should pardon many slaves, if we began to judge them before we began to be angry with them: as it is, however, we obey our first impulse, and then, although we may prove to have been excited about mere trifles, yet we continue to be angry, lest we should seem to have begun to be angry without cause; and, most unjust of all, the injustice of our anger makes us persist in it all the more; for we nurse it and inflame it, as though to be violently angry proved our anger to be just.
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Offline Volnutt

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I think I generally agree with that statement, yes. One of the reasons I don't see the need to believe that God is super vengeful is that I think He mostly just leaves the damned to their own self-inflicted misery. No semi-Dante view of Hell can really compare.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2018, 11:16:05 PM by Volnutt »
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Offline rakovsky

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Do you agree that this is a good or important habit?:
Quote
It was the custom of Sextius when the day was over, and he had betaken himself to rest, to inquire of his spirit: "What bad habit of yours have you cured to-day? what vice have you checked? in what respect are you better?" Anger will cease, and become more gentle, if it knows that every day it will have to appear before the judgment seat. What can be more admirable than this fashion of discussing the whole of the day's events? how sweet is the sleep which follows this self-examination? how calm, how sound, and careless is it when our spirit has either received praise or reprimand, and when our secret inquisitor and censor has made his report about our morals? I make use of this privilege, and daily plead my cause before myself: when the lamp is taken out of my sight, and my wife, who knows my habit, has ceased to talk, I pass the whole day in review before myself, and repeat all that I have said and done: I conceal nothing from myself, and omit nothing: for why should I be afraid of any of my shortcomings, when it is in my power to say, "I pardon you this time: see that you never do that anymore?
(Seneca's On Anger, Book III, Chapter 38)
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If you read the Philokalia.
The Sign and Prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary

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Do you agree that this is a good or important habit?:
Quote
It was the custom of Sextius when the day was over, and he had betaken himself to rest, to inquire of his spirit: "What bad habit of yours have you cured to-day? what vice have you checked? in what respect are you better?" Anger will cease, and become more gentle, if it knows that every day it will have to appear before the judgment seat. What can be more admirable than this fashion of discussing the whole of the day's events? how sweet is the sleep which follows this self-examination? how calm, how sound, and careless is it when our spirit has either received praise or reprimand, and when our secret inquisitor and censor has made his report about our morals? I make use of this privilege, and daily plead my cause before myself: when the lamp is taken out of my sight, and my wife, who knows my habit, has ceased to talk, I pass the whole day in review before myself, and repeat all that I have said and done: I conceal nothing from myself, and omit nothing: for why should I be afraid of any of my shortcomings, when it is in my power to say, "I pardon you this time: see that you never do that anymore?
(Seneca's On Anger, Book III, Chapter 38)

In general, probably. For somebody who already has somewhat obsessive compulsive tendencies or who struggles with scrupulosity it might cause more harm than good, though.
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Offline rakovsky

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Here is an interesting observation by Seneca:

Quote
'Nothing,' [Seneca] says, quoting his friend Demetrius,'seems to me more unhappy than the man whom no adversity has ever befallen.' 'The life free from care and from any buffetings of fortune is a dead sea8.' Hence too it follows that resignation under adversity becomes a plain duty. 'It is best to endure what you cannot mend, and without murmuring to attend upon God, by whose ordering all things come to pass.

Another quote is:
St Paul and Seneca
Quote
'What will the wise man do when he is buffeted (colaphis percussus)? He will do as Cato did when he was smitten on the mouth. He did not burst into a passion, did not avenge himself, did not even forgive it, but denied its having been done.'
https://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/lightfoot-dissertations-on-the-apostolic-age/st-paul-and-seneca.html
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 08:03:27 PM by rakovsky »
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I think it's tricky to have that resignation without just falling into fatalism and ascribing evil to God.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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I think it's tricky to have that resignation without just falling into fatalism and ascribing evil to God.

Weird issue:

Isaiah 45:7
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

 7 Я образую свет и творю тьму, делаю мир и произвожу бедствия; Я, Господь, делаю все это.
In Russian this means calamity.

This word can also mean in Hebrew:
Quote
- evil (Gn.6.5)
- unpleasant, giving pain, misery (like in Gn.47.9 "days of trial and hardship", or Pr.15.15)
- distess, misery, calamity (Nu.11.1, Ex.5.19, Gn.48,16)
- sad, unhappy (Pr.25.20)
- vicious, unkind (Pr.26.23)
- wicked (Ec.12.14)
http://www.monachos.net/conversation/topic/220-isaiah-457-i-make-peace-and-create-evil/
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20