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Does Tacitus provide independent testimony about Jesus?

July 9, 2013

One of the most important non-Christian references to Jesus in ancient non-Christian sources is found in Tacitus.

Tacitus is generally regarded as one of the finest Roman historians. He mentioned Jesus once in his Annals (15:38-45) when he describes how Nero deflects accusations from himself on the fire of Rome and instead blames the fire on the Christians. In describing this, Tacitus gives a short historical background to these ‘Christians’.

“Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians.

Christ the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentance of the procurator Pontius Pilate, and a pernicious superstition was checked for the moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible and shameful in the world collect and find a vogue’ (Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, tr, M Grant (Harmonsdsworth: Penguin Classics, 1985), 15.44.

There are many theories as to where Tacitus obtains his information. Yet there are two main options: was he simply quoting what he heard from Christians, or did he do his own independent research (and hence provides independent testimony to the existence of Jesus)?

It is indeed possible that Tacitus could have received his information from the Christians. Indeed many atheist Christ myth proponents suggest this. Yet I think this is unlikely for a couple of reasons.

1. Which Christian would have informed him? Tacitus was no friend of the Christians describing it as a ‘pernicious superstition’ and a ‘disease’. The information he supplies about Jesus is fairly specific, correctly identifying the otherwise obscure Pontius Pilate.  Tacitus would require fairly intimate knowledge of Christianity to identify Jesus’ death at the hands of Pontius Pilate (and in the reign of Tiberius, see next point). Pilate is mentioned in the four Gospels. Acts and 1 Timothy 6. Pilate is absent in the earliest and most succinct Christian creed (1 Corinthians 15), and absent from Christian preaching to a Roman audience (see Acts 17 as an example). Hence to describe Jesus’ death at the hands of Pilate, Tacitus would require fairly intimate knowledge of Christianity which is he is unlikely to have obtained from the Christian sources he despised.

2. Furthermore, Christians were unlikely to connect the reign of Tiberius with Pontius Pilate and Jesus’ execution. Tiberius is mentioned only once in the entire New Testament in Luke 3:1. This reference has nothing to do with Jesus’ death. The reign of Tiberius is absent entirely from all Christian creeds and preaching. Tiberius is not mentioned at all by any other Christian source in the first 150 years after Jesus’ death. There was no reason for Christians to connect Tiberius’ reign with Jesus’ death.

Hence the connection with Tiberius and Pilate and Jesus’ death would have required further research. It’s unlikely that Tacitus would have been aware that Pilate was in power in the reign of Tiberius from his own general knowledge as Pilate was an obscure ancient figure. Tacitus’ mention of Pilate here is the only extant reference to Pilate in Roman sources. It appears that Tacitus has done some original research or thinking to connect Pilate with Tiberius and Jesus’ death. This connection is unlikely to have originated from Christians.

Historian Paul Barnett speculates (quite reasonably) as to where Tacitus obtains his information: ‘As a former consul in Rome, Tacitus would have had access to official archives and may have seen Pilate’s report to Tiberius about the execution of Jesus and others in Judea in 33.’ (Gospel Truth, p.39).

I think it’s reasonable to suggest that it is quite likely that Tacitus provides independent testimony about Jesus and corroborates key historical data of the Gospels.

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From → History

57 Comments
  1. Hi Rob,
    I’ve been wondering about Tacitus because it seems the earliest copies we have of his writings are quite late. In fact the lateness of the Tacitus copies compared to copies of the New Testament is often used to show how reliable the New Testament is in relation to other ancient writings, which seems cast doubt on Tacitus. It seems strange to argue for the reliability of Tacitus on one hand, and then to argue on the relative unreliability of Tacitus on the other hand. What are your thoughts?

    • Thanks for the thoughts. Yet I don’t think that the later date of the ancient writings ‘cast doubt on Tacitus’ which you seem to imply. I think historians generally agree that the time between authorship and earliest manuscript for Tacitus is sufficient to be comfortable that the manuscripts have been transmitted accurately. The argument then goes, how much more, then is the NT reliable when the date between authorship and earliest manuscript is so much smaller!

      • Steven Carr permalink

        Good point. We know nothing which seems to be dated less than 20 years ago can be a forgery, because the date between authorship and earliest manuscript is very small.

        That is going to be very useful in criminal investigations as we can rule out forgery if the document is less than 20 years old.

  2. John permalink

    Please find an essay by an Illuminated Being who was thoroughly familiar with all of the modern scholarship re the fabricated origins and institutional poltical purposes of the “New” Testament. And who spent 50 years in the most profound depth-level investigation into ever aspect of Christian dogma/belief and experience. He was thoroughly familiar with all of the classic mystical and visionary experience described in the revered texts of the Illuminated mystics of both the “Catholic” and Eastern “Orthodox” traditions,
    http://www.dabase.org/up-5-1.htm
    Also
    http://www.aboutadidam.org/articles/secret_identity

  3. Steven Carr permalink

    ‘Pilate is absent in the earliest and most succinct Christian creed (1 Corinthians 15), and absent from Christian preaching to a Roman audience (see Acts 17 as an example)’

    I see.

    So Christians would not have been able to tell Tacitus who killed Jesus?

  4. Lasse Norén permalink

    Part of this passage in Tacitus clearly indicate that it cannot be about Christians as the group identified as “Chrestianos” was supposedly an “imminence multitude” of the population in Rome. (the passage ends)

    “Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”

    If we use a normal exponential growth of the religion with a starting point in 35 CE (with about 5,000 followers) and a total population of Christians between 5 and 10 million in the year 300 CE (as is estimated by many scholars). Then we expect to see between 10,000 and 12,000 Christians in total in the whole world by the 64 CE.

    (A growth-rate of about 2.7% to 2.8% gives you between 5.8M to 7.5M people at 300 CE
    Thus with this growth-rate the population at 64 CE would be between 10.8K and 11.1K )

    If every single one of them were in Rome during this time they would not be referred to as an “immense multitude” by a writer, as Rome had over one million people living it it at that time. The scarcity of Christians is also illustrated by the writings of Pliny the Younger who was a magistrate in Rome and who’s uncle was Pliny the Elder (an author and native of Rome during this time). But despite this, Pliny the Younger write that he has never participated in a trial of a Christian in his letter to the Emperor Trajan around 112 CE. He has no knowledge about how to go about this.

    “IT is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them… ” (Pliny the Younger, Book 10 letter 96)

    How is that possible that Pliny has no knowledge about this if an “Immense multitude” of Christians had been tried in Rome jut 50 years earlier and his uncle, who taught him, would have been present at (at least some of) these trials?! There would also have been a “legal presidencies ” in writing about how to do this if the trials of Christians had been common (as is indicated in Tacitus)

    If we instead take the word “Chrestianos” to mean “slaves” (as it was a common term used for slaves in the first century CE). Then we do have a multitude of these “chrestianos” in Rome at that time (in fact some 30% – 40% of the total population). In that case the part of the Tacitus passage that deals with Pilate could be an interpolation. Do note that we only have manuscripts of this passage from the 12th century and that none of the early church fathers (including Eusebius) ever referred to it as a proof of Jesus supposed existence.

    • Christians/Chrestianos can only mean Christians and cannot mean slaves. Tacitus also tells us that the term Christianos originates from Christus who was crucified by Pilate in the reign of Tiberius, making it impossible for Christianos to refer to anything but Christians.

      The question is not the population of the Christians in Rome, but how many were convicted. The estimation says about 5,000 Christians were killed in Nero’s persecution, meaning that there really were an immense multitude convicted since nowhere near 5,000 people were being convicted in a few years at a time in Rome in general. So, for a few brief years during Nero’s reign, almost everyone being executed was a supposed Christian, confirming Tacitus’ report.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.

        To use the passage in Tacitus, which we know was altered – because the oldest copy we have of that book has been forensically tested and shows that the word “Chrestianus” was changed to “Christianus” [1] – is dodgy. If we can prove that the text has been changed at least once (and we can do that) then to assume that the text has not been changed before that is skating on thin ice. Note that trhis copy is from 11th century and the change is estimated to have happened in the 14th century [1] and no mention is made of this passage in any known text prior to the 15th century in regards to it being a proof of Jesus existence. This includes all the early church fathers, including Eusebius, who were doing all they could to try to find references of Jesus in ancient texts. None of them mentions Tacitus and only 1400 years after Jesus supposed existence do we suddenly see a reference to “Christ” (not Jesus) in a copy of a book, which is a copy of a copy, of a copy … written in the 11th century. That is, as stated before, dodgy.
        ***
        >”The estimation says about 5,000 Christians were killed in Nero’s persecution.”

        Estimated based on what?!
        There are no records from Rome stating that 5,000 Christians were prosecuted! There only exist one part, of one passage, that some people (called “Chrestianos”) were persecuted; and we get this information from a text that has provably been altered. But there is a very strong indication that this didn’t happen.

        The reason is that IF 5,000 Christians were tried in Roman courts under Nero, then there would be common knowledge of how to deal with Christians among the lawyers and bureaucrats in Roman Society from that time. But we know from Pliny the Younger that this is not the case. If a “vast multitude” of Christians had been tried then why doesn’t Pliny know this? Pliny’s who’s Uncle (also called Pliny) was present in Rome at the time and Pliny the Younger was an Imperial Magistrate but can find not a single case of how to examine or what punishments there is for being a Christian? Despite 5,000 of them being tried in Rome in the presence of all the best lawyers in the country and the Senate and the Emperor? But just 50 or so years later there are no knowledge an imperial magistrate can muster on how to deal with them?! That is highly unlikely.

        So I think it much more likely that the passage in Tacitus has been changed over the years and that it contains interpolations – something we see in other works of Tacitus.

        ***
        [1] http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zaratacituschrestianos.pdf

      • LOL! Typical mythicist nonsense. And people wonder why historians don’t take mythicists seriously, this nonsense really goes levels beyond comprehension.

        I’ll try to explain this slowly to you, and make it clear why every Roman historian to ever live has never even considered that Tacitus doesn’t mention Jesus.

        “The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.”

        Of course, Tacitus refers to a ‘Christ’ who was executed by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius, meaning that the context is clear on who this Christ was — indeed, if we simply quote the same passage and substitute ‘slave’ with ‘Christ’, Tacitus’ passage loses all sense. See:

        …Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Slave, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus…

        This demonstrates that ‘slave’ is an incoherent translation.

        “To use the passage in Tacitus, which we know was altered – because the oldest copy we have of that book has been forensically tested and shows that the word “Chrestianus” was changed to “Christianus” [1] – is dodgy.”

        Sorry, our “oldest” copy? We only have one copy of Tacitus work. ‘Chrestianos’ and ‘Christianos’ are both variant translations of the same word: Christian. Both terms were used many times throughout church history to refer to ‘Christians’. We have no idea why ‘Chrestianos’ was changed to ‘Christianos’ in that manuscript, it’s only a change of one letter and, either way, it would be translated to ‘Christians’ meaning the variant is irrelevant. There are multiple explanations, interpolation obviously being the most likely — a better explanation is that a scribe saw the word ‘Chrestianos’ and thought it was a misspelling because he was unfamiliar with that variant of how to spell ‘Christians’, and so the scribe changed ‘Chrestianos’ to ‘Christianos’, what he thought was the correct spelling. There is no evidence for interpolation, and as we’ll see later, the text becomes incomprehensible if we consider this section to be an interpolation.

        “Note that trhis copy is from 11th century and the change is estimated to have happened in the 14th century [1] and no mention is made of this passage in any known text prior to the 15th century in regards to it being a proof of Jesus existence.”

        You go on to say that our manuscript dates to the 11th century, a very long time after Tacitus wrote, and is just a copy of a copy of a copy (insert Bart Ehrman video clip here). This is, of course, immediately recognized as irrelevant if you know anything about manuscripts of ancient authors. Our earliest manuscript of Aristotle comes 1,300 years after the original. Our earliest manuscript of Herodotus comes 1,400 years after the original. Our earliest manuscript of Lucretius is 1,100 years after the original. Our earliest manuscript of Plato is 1,200 years after the original. Our earliest manuscript of Suetonius is 800 years after the original. Our earliest manuscript of Thucydides is 1,300 years after the original. See a trend? Rather than our manuscript attestation of Tacitus being an anomaly, it’s actually the rule. Since historians see nothing wrong with the manuscripts of the aforementioned authors and those manuscripts are considered reliable, it would be simple special pleading to say that the manuscripts of Tacitus’ works are unreliable because they’re also written several centuries after the originals — the date of our earliest Tacitus manuscript does not change the reliability of what we have of Tacitus in the tiniest manner. Thus, the argument of “the copy is 11th century” falls apart.

        “This includes all the early church fathers, including Eusebius, who were doing all they could to try to find references of Jesus in ancient texts.”

        WHAT? Eusebius was trying to find mentions of Jesus in ancient authors? I can only consider this your own personal fiction, Eusebius, nor not a single early Christian author was concerned with finding attestation of Jesus. Do you actually think mythicists existed in the time of Eusebius? There was not a single mythicist for 1,700 years after Jesus died. Eusebius wasn’t trying to find attestation of Jesus, and thus why he doesn’t quote Tacitus is… Not surprising at all, since he wouldn’t cared about who Tacitus was at all. And why on planet Earth would he quote Tacitus? Tacitus calls Christianity a ‘mischevious superstition’, a ‘source of evil’, ‘hideous and shameful’, and more — WHAT Christian in their right minds would quote someone like Tacitus? In fact, not only does this point debunk your argument from silence, but it also debunks the claim of interpolation, since of course the idea of Tacitus being interpolated would require us to believe that the Christian interpolater called his own religion a superstition, shameful, etc, which is inconceivable.

        “why doesn’t pliny know about the number 5,000?”

        For all we know, he did know the number and more. But we have no information regarding Pliny’s thoughts whatsoever except for a single letter he sent to Trajan briefly describing his test for deciding which Christians to kill and which Christians to let off. We literally have nothing more from Pliny about this manner, and so any argument resting on what Pliny doens’t tell us is indescribably weak.

        Hence, Tacitus’s statements stand, a vast multitude of Christians (several thousand in only a few years, a logical estimate would be about 5,000 hence the number) were killed under the Neronian persecution (which every historian thinks happened). Tacitus was talking about Christians and mentioned the Christ who founded Christianity and the Christ who was executed by Pilate, and this is a fact, there’s absolutely not a shred of evidence to fight against this.

        According to Richard Carrier (a pseudohistorian), the phrase ‘Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus’ in Tacitus is interpolated. If we remove this phrase from Tacitus, this is what we get:

        “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Chrestians by the populace. [extracted interpolation] And a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

        Obviously, this is entirely without grammatical sense and instantly becomes not only ambiguous but almost incomprehensible. Thus, not only is there no evidence for interpolation, but the evidence almost guarantees authenticity.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        Let#s start with the claim that early church-fathers didn’t try to find references to Jesus amongst the historians of the first century (and without success) and especially Eusebius. You wrote:

        >”WHAT? Eusebius was trying to find mentions of Jesus in ancient authors? I can only consider this your own personal fiction, Eusebius, nor not a single early Christian author was concerned with finding attestation of Jesus.”

        That is provably false. Eusebius was trying his very best to find historical evidences for Jesus (as were other Church fathers). Much of his writings were basically apologetics, like “Preparation of the Gospel” and “Proof of the Gospel” where he is trying to find evidence to support that Jesus was a historical person (cites all the evidences of Christianity obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources in his books on church history).
        Origin does the same thing in his book “Contra Celsus” i.e. try to find proof of Jesus existence in pagan historical writings and not succeeding.
        Clement of Alexandria, at the beginning of the third century, made a compilation of all the recognitions of Christ and Christianity that had been made by Pagan writers up to his time. He never mentions Tacitus.

        Here is an interesting thing though. Origin quotes Josephus in several places and not once does he refer to the “Testimonium Flavianum” (TF) in Josephus. Eusebius in his writing does refer to the TF in Josephus work and that is the very first reference we have for that passage. What is interesting is that Eusebius inherited Origins library in Caesarea. The TF is clearly an interpolation (as the following sentence grammatically fit the the preceding sentence but it does not fit with TF itself and there is no way that Josephus would have referred to Jesus as a Messiah or Christ. So how can this passage (the TF) miraculously appear in Josephus writings when Eusebius look at the text, while Origin (who used the same books) never found it? One answer is that Eusebius was the one that interpolated the text, the text he was the very first one to report. It goes well with his other writings and his really dishonest way to report history.

        So yes, Eusebius did his very best to try to find references for Jesus in ancient pagan writings, we have books from him showing that. I would state that he wanted this proof for Jesus existence so badly that he even interpolated text to do get that “proof”. So why on earth didn’t Eusebius use the passage in Tacitus? He had the writings.

        As did Tertulian who quotes Tacitus extensively and does not find the passage he needed to “prove a historical Jesus”.

        Note here that Eusebius wrote a whole book on Christian martyrs (and the history of the Church) and *he never mentions the persecution of Christians under Nero as scapegoats for the Fire of Rome*. He wanted stories about Christian Martyrdom and he never mention the Tacitus passage nor any persecution of Christians for this reason. You can’t find any references to Nero persecuting Christians for the fire of Rome by any Christians authors until Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century (and his writings is suspiciously similar to the Tacitus passage, but without any reference to Tacitus…)
        Nor do you find references to a massive persecution of Christians for the fire of Rome by any contemporary historians including Josephus who was in Rome in 64 CE to secure the release of a group of imprisoned Jewish priests. We even find a contradiction to the idea that Christians were persecuted in Acts 28:30-31

        “and Paul remained an entire two years in his own hired [house], and was receiving all those coming in unto him, preaching the reign of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness — unforbidden.” (YLT)

        So the Christian community (if it even existed – but I’m not going there right now) was small enough so that Paul could preach to them in his house. And Paul could do this without the fear of persecution. Apparently in 62 CE or maybe later.
        ****
        You write:

        >”“why doesn’t pliny know about the number 5,000?”
        For all we know, he did know the number and more. ”

        I never stated that Pliny didn’t “know about the number 5,000″ (as any reader of my post can see). That is a straw-man from you which you then build on. I stated very clearly that;

        IF there had been 5,000 people tried in Rome, then why doesn’t Pliny know anything about how to prosecute Christians?

        Pliny was a Magistrate and if you have the records of 5,000 previous cases ANY magistrate in Rome would know what the procedure was. Pliny writes that he doesn’t know how to deal with Christians; indicating that this is a very small sect and hardly anyone knows anything about them and their beliefs. (Which he also states outright). This contradicts the narrative in Tacitus that Christianity is common and well-known and your own baseless assumption that 5,000 trials has happened.
        ****
        >”Hence, Tacitus’s statements stand, a vast multitude of Christians (several thousand in only a few years, a logical estimate would be about 5,000 hence the number) were killed under the Neronian persecution (which every historian thinks happened).”

        You are really running around in circles here. You assume that “a vast multitude ” equals “several thousand” (without any reference as to how you got that number) state that based on this a logical conclusion is 5,000 (so that is circular reasoning) and then state that the Neronian persecution happens and that every historian agrees with that .
        (The latter statement isn’t true – none of the early church historians or contemporary writers ever claimed that Nero persecuted Christians for the fire in Rome, and later historians also dismisses it, cf. Brent D. Shaw ,”The Myth of the Neronian Persecution”, The Journal of Roman Studies, Volume 105, November 2015 , pp. 73-100. Now Shaw does state that he thinks the passage is genuine Tacitus – I disagree based on the previously laid out argument)
        ***
        >”Sorry, our “oldest” copy? We only have one copy of Tacitus work.”

        We have later copies made from that “oldest copy” (SINGULAR) which means that any later manuscripts are based on the one original and thus any interpolation and change that has happened in that one oldest copy will perpetuate through later history; as we have nothing else to compare with. So if we can find changes in the text of that oldest copy, we know there are problems with that passage, which is what I have already stated.
        *****
        In regards to the interpolation. I’m not stating that a small part of the passage is interpolated, I state that the whole passage is interpolated (just as the Testimonium Flavianum) and reworked from the writing of the Christian Sulpicius Severus:

        ” In the meantime, the number of the Christians being now very large, it happened that Rome was destroyed by fire, while Nero was stationed at Antium. But the opinion of all cast the odium of causing the fire upon the emperor, and he was believed in this way to have sought for the glory of building a new city. And in fact, Nero could not by any means he tried escape from the charge that the fire had been caused by his orders. He therefore turned the accusation against the Christians, and the most cruel tortures were accordingly inflicted upon the innocent. Nay, even new kinds of death were invented, so that, being covered in the skins of wild beasts, they perished by being devoured by dogs, while many were crucified or slain by fire, and not a few were set apart for this purpose, that, when the day came to a close, they should be consumed to serve for light during the night. In this way, cruelty tint began to be manifested against the Christians. Afterwards, too, their religion was prohibited by laws which were enacted; and by edicts openly set forth it was proclaimed unlawful to be a Christian.”

        [“Sacred History The Persecution of Christians and the Destruction of Jerusalem” Book II, Chapter XXIX. (5th century)]

        We know that the number of Christians in the whole world at this time was tiny. Simply based on the expected exponential growth (as detailed in the first post) we would expect no more than about 10K to 12K Christians in the whole of the Roman Empire. If we have substantially more than that at 64 CE then the total Christian population by the year 300 CE would be way to high from what we know it was at the time. This is also indicated by the writings of Pliny for the reasons stated. Pliny wrote in 112 CE. With the growth-rate of 2.7% to 2.8% per year then the world population would be about 39K to 42K which would fit with Pliny’s writing – a group large enough by that time to start to be noticed but still small by Empire standards. This quote below is in regards to the number of Christians in the beginning of the 2nd century.

        “The total number of Christians within the empire was probably less than fifty thousand, an infinitesimal number in a society comprising sixty million.”

        – Dr. Robert Louis Wilken (“The Christians as the Romans Saw Them”, p31)

        This agrees well with my own estimation based on exponential growth. However, it is directly contrary to the writing of Sulpicius Severus and the passage in Tacitus. The Tacitus passage is more polished than Severus and thus likely written at a later point in time based on the former. (and also on the fact that nobody makes any comments on the description of Christian martyrdom under Nero despite writing books about that topic.

        (1) Thus I find it much more likely that a book written in the 11th century contains an interpolation based on a 5th century Christian writer but polished to fit the narrative of Christian mythology.

        (2) The contrary proposal is that a well known Roman historian write a passage describing an event concerning Christians and Christ that nobody who formulate the History of Christianity and that debated Christian history ever notice for 300 years: Then suddenly a more poorly written and less detailed reference containing major portions of the text is written down by a Christian. A strongly believing Christian writer who then OMITS the reference to Christ (Actually written “Chrstus” ) and to Pontius Pilate – despite this information being of essential significance to any Christian. Why would any Christian writer *omit* a reference to Christ, especially during a time when the Christian Church has just become the official religion of the Roman Empire (380 CE)? That doesn’t hold.

      • Yet again, after clearly pointing out that it is literally insane to think Eusebius was “trying” to find proof for the historical Jesus, you grandly say:

        “That is provably false. Eusebius was trying his very best to find historical evidences for Jesus (as were other Church fathers). Much of his writings were basically apologetics, like “Preparation of the Gospel” and “Proof of the Gospel” where he is trying to find evidence to support that Jesus was a historical person (cites all the evidences of Christianity obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources in his books on church history).
        Origin does the same thing in his book “Contra Celsus” i.e. try to find proof of Jesus existence in pagan historical writings and not succeeding.
        Clement of Alexandria, at the beginning of the third century, made a compilation of all the recognitions of Christ and Christianity that had been made by Pagan writers up to his time. He never mentions Tacitus.”

        My claim is said to be “provably false”, yet you never actually proved it false. You just backed up your assertion with… More assertions. Eusebius and other early Christians were not trying to find any proof for the historical Jesus because there weren’t any mythicists back then. Mythicism is a recent invention. The earliest opponents of Christianity ALL never once a single time denied Jesus existed. Please show me otherwise, find a single ancient account in the first 1,500 years of Christianity where any single person makes any reference to the idea of a non-existent Jesus. You can’t.

        Hence, your claims about Eusebius are not only provably false, they have now in fact been proven false. Eusebius wasn’t responding to mythicists, he was responding to pagans who claimed that Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead or whatnot who thought Jesus was just another Jewish teacher who got killed.

        And quoting Tacitus would be the last thing to help him with that, since Tacitus called Christianity a superstition, hideous, etc. The last person Eusebius would quote is Tacitus (after Celsus of course). The same goes for Origen, he was responding to pagan attacks on the person of Jesus. You perform a common mythicist tactic, and try to shift the conversation to the TF — I won’t get into Josephus here, but all I’ll point out is that virtually all scholars think the TF is only a partial interpolation, and even if it was entirely forged, Josephus refers to Jesus in XX.9.1 anyways as well besides the TF, and this second reference of Jesus in Josephus is fully authentic (and also quoted several times by Origen, interestingly the very source you complain doesn’t quote the TF). I’ll let that rest there, let’s move back to Tacitus.

        Briefly, you claim Acts 28:30-31 contradicts Christian persecution, which is of course nonsensical since we know Paul got martyred in the late 60’s AD from the accounts of Clement of Alexandria. The passage doesn’t at all prove anything against persecution. You also say “Eusebius didn’t quote the Neronian persecution in his book about Christian martyrs” — but this is an argument from silence, and so is irrelevant. Tacitus mentioning of the persecution is basically enough to establish it historically. Most events of ancient history only have one record mentioning them in the first place, which means what we have for the Neronian persecution (one attestation) is literally what we have for almost all other ancient events.

        You then go on with your regular (and fabulously weak) rant about Pliny;

        “I never stated that Pliny didn’t “know about the number 5,000″ (as any reader of my post can see). That is a straw-man from you which you then build on. I stated very clearly that;
        IF there had been 5,000 people tried in Rome, then why doesn’t Pliny know anything about how to prosecute Christians?
        Pliny was a Magistrate and if you have the records of 5,000 previous cases ANY magistrate in Rome would know what the procedure was. Pliny writes that he doesn’t know how to deal with Christians; indicating that this is a very small sect and hardly anyone knows anything about them and their beliefs. (Which he also states outright). This contradicts the narrative in Tacitus that Christianity is common and well-known and your own baseless assumption that 5,000 trials has happened.”

        This is an astoundingly bad argument. Pliny’s letter to Trajan dates to 110 AD, whereas the Neronian persecution took place about 65 AD, meaning that the two events literally have a half a century in between them and thus any ‘procedure’ used by Nero wouldn’t be around with Pliny. Furthermore, there was no procedure Nero used, do you even know what a persecution is? It’s basically Nero sending out a bunch of soldiers to find Christians, and wherever they found Christians they would execute them on the spot. Pliny clearly (if you’ve even read his letter) took his own approach to dealing with Christians without just outright executing them, and furthermore, your claim about Pliny’s lack of mention of any ‘procedure’ is just another argument from silence, again making it irrelevant.

        Moving on, you not only put forth that a section of Annals 15.44 is interpolated, you think the entire thing is interpolated. This is obviously a fabulous fiction that not even guys like Richard Carrier are crazy enough to enter in (and he’s crazy). I will demonstrate soon that the passage couldn’t comprehensibly have been interpolated, but first I need to deal with this Sulpicius Severus nonsense.

        It’s almost too obvious that the account of Severus is directly based off of Tacitus’ account, not the other way around. You claim it’s the other way around because Tacitus’ account is “too polished”, something you asserted without backing it up in the slightest. Indeed, what does “too polished” mean? Everything Tacitus wrote was “polished”, he was a super wealthy aristocrat who was highly ranked in the empire and very well educated, and in fact, Tacitus is literally considered the greatest ancient historian of Roman history. So what does “too polished” mean? Severus account is based off of Tacitus, it’s clear that the entire thing is not interpolated and we can know this by simply taking a look at what Tacitus says — I will quote (almost) the entire passage and bold specific parts;

        …And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
        Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

        This couldn’t have possibly written by a Christian, it was written for Tacitus, for Tacitus calls Christianity a mischevious superstition, hideous and shameful, he refers to Christians as criminals and having a hatred for mankind, etc, etc, etc. He also refers to Pontius Pilate as one of “our” procurators, clearly siding with his actions taken against Jesus.

        In conclusion, no Christian in their right minds would have either written or quoted Annals 15.44, mythicism didn’t exist in the time of Origen or Eusebius so that Christians had to respond to it, and the Neronian persecution took place killing thousands of Christians. You utterly confounded me when you quoted that there were 6 million inhabitants of the empire in the time of Nero, even though Nero’s persecution was not empire-wide but only restricted to Rome, the capital of the empire, and there were not nearly 6 million in Rome (but there were many thousands of Christians, if not tens of thousands).

        Finally, there is not one iota of evidence for Annals 15.44 being an interpolation besides a grammar correction that happened in the 14th century AD, meaning the entire case goes down the sink. You should be reminded that not one Roman historian in the world thinks Annals 15.44 is interpolated, hence not only are your arguments of utter insignificance, but the entire case is not even on the map of contemporary historiography in the first place.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”My claim is said to be “provably false”, yet you never actually proved it false”

        Yes I did. I gave you three BOOKS of apologetics where Eusebius is trying to justify the history of Jesus and Christianity. I gave you one where Origin is doing the same thing and also Tertulian and Clement of Alexandria. The early church was trying to it’s very best to find any and all references to Jesus and the Christian stories in old Pagan writings, especially among the Pagan historians.
        ***
        >”Eusebius and other early Christians were not trying to find any proof for the historical Jesus because there weren’t any mythicists back then. Mythicism is a recent invention. ”

        Ever heard of Celsus? And he was not the only one.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celsus
        ****
        >”Eusebius wasn’t responding to mythicists,…”

        Straw-man. I never claimed Eusebius was “responding to mythesists” I stated he was trying to find proof that Jesus existed and failed that. He might even have falsified texts in order to prove Jesus existence and TF is one such case.
        ****
        >” The last person Eusebius would quote is Tacitus (after Celsus of course). The same goes for Origen, he was responding to pagan attacks on the person of Jesus.”

        You just contradicted yourself. Celsus was showing that there was no person called Jesus that fitted the biblical stories i.e. the bible stories were made up and thus myths. And Eusebius would gladly have quoted a person that criticized Christianity. He was a firm believer in Martyrdom, he wrote a whole book on it.
        ****
        >”Josephus refers to Jesus in XX.9.1 anyways as well besides the TF, and this second reference of Jesus in Josephus is fully authentic (and also quoted several times by Origen, interestingly the very source you complain doesn’t quote the TF)”

        There is problems with that passage too, but nevermind. No Origin state two times that Josephus never believed that Jesus was Christ. So Josephus would not have referred to him as such.
        *****
        >”This is an astoundingly bad argument. Pliny’s letter to Trajan dates to 110 AD, whereas the Neronian persecution took place about 65 AD, meaning that the two events literally have a half a century in between them and thus any ‘procedure’ used by Nero wouldn’t be around with Pliny.”

        There are these things called “writing” and “record keeping” that the Romans were rather well-known to do …. notorious actually.

        Furthermore, Pliny the Younger was a relative and student of his uncle Pliny the Elder who was in Rome at that time. Are you trying to tell me that no magistrate in Rome would have been taught how to judge a group of people that were set on mass trials by their teachers?
        ****
        >”we know Paul got martyred in the late 60’s AD ”

        We don’t actually *know* that as there are no contemporary historical records of Paul either, but that is a topic for another day.

        *****
        >”you think the entire thing is interpolated. This is obviously a fabulous fiction that not even guys like Richard Carrier are crazy enough to enter in (and he’s crazy)”

        Ad hominem and misdirection. Yes and I lay out why that is quite possible. Something you never address.
        ****
        >” You claim it’s the other way around because Tacitus’ account is “too polished”, something you asserted without backing it up in the slightest.”

        That’s a lie as I gave the whole passage so you can read that for yourself.
        ****
        >”This couldn’t have possibly written by a Christian, ”

        Yes it can, because they tried to lend credence to the forgery by deliberately making a Pagan insult their religion. You are forgetting that this is written during the time where mediaeval religious hoaxes were rampant in Europe and the Christian martyrdom complex which has existed since the second century was greatly admired. And much of the martyrdom stories are myths too.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Persecution
        *****
        >”You utterly confounded me when you quoted that there were 6 million inhabitants of the empire in the time of Nero”

        That is a lie. I quote the source that state, in letters; “sixty millions” I give it again:

        “The total number of Christians within the empire was probably less than fifty thousand, an infinitesimal number in a society comprising sixty million.”

        – Dr. Robert Louis Wilken (“The Christians as the Romans Saw Them”, p31)

        ****
        Finally I notice that contrary to me you have never backed up anything you say with facts or references.

      • I have literally never read something as bombastic as one of your arguments. You are so blithely ignorant and your response contains so many utter just-so confections to defend your explanations and outright misrepresentations of my arguments so that I am completely confounded that an actual human being that has an IQ high enough to type on a keyboard could have possibly written something like this. You say, at the end of your comment, “I notice that contrary to me you have never backed up anything you say with facts or references” yet you still have not given one single evidence for your claims, you’ve only piled assertions on assertions, as I’ll soon demonstrate.

        To quickly begin with, I recounted that in my previous comment, no Roman historian in the world thinks the entire passage is literally a forgery, not even a loon like Carrier goes as far as putting more than a sentence into the section of ‘interpolation’. So, what is it that you know that the academy doesn’t which has been piling through this field for two hundred years? Amazingly … you seem to know nothing that they don’t. So why is it that the internet mythicist believes he has overturned all the worlds professionals?

        Let’s see. First, I noted that not a single mythicist lived within the first 1,500 years of since the death of Jesus, hence, if Eusebius was trying to prove Jesus existed … who exactly was he trying to convince? You cite Celsus as a mythicist and give me a link to his Wikipedia page, which of course doesn’t say he’s a mythicist precisely because he wasn’t and Celsus thought Jesus existed. Indeed, Celsus harshly attacked Jesus’ life and his mother when he wrote of them;

        “Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.” Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28

        Here, Celsus clearly knew and believed Jesus existed (I mean, this isn’t even up for debate). Celsus of course, being a pagan and not a Christian, never believed in any of the Christian miracles, he believed the supposed miracles to be a myth (just like Paul before he converted, however you have some contrived nonsense about Paul too which I’ll address soon). Celsus thinks that the poor Jewish mother Mary couldn’t have possibly given birth to Jesus in her virginity in the form of a miracle, so Celsus tells us that Mary was actually an adulteress who fornicated with a Roman soldier so as to conceive Jesus. It is unfathomably clear there were no ancient mythicists, indeed the only reason Jesus is even up for debate today (by non-professionals) is because it’s been so long since He died. But this is the first part of my response, I had to simply outline this point about the non-existence of mythicism in antiquity and its complete rejection by historians before I move on.

        In my last response, after reading your quote from the book The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, I said that the Roman Empire had 6 million inhabitants in the time of Jesus. You then say I “lie” when I saw this, and that the quote actually notes 60 million inhabitants. Really? I lie? Couldn’t it be that I simply misread your quote? And couldn’t it be that your response didn’t at all address my point, which noted that the entire population of the Roman Empire is irrelevant to this discussion because Nero’s persecution was only constricted to the capital of the empire rather than the entire thing? Since Nero’s persecution only happened in Rome, not the entire empire, the population of the entire empire is irrelevant, making your use of Robert Wilken’s book also irrelevant.

        Finally, let’s move back to Eusebius and your responses here.

        “Yes I did. I gave you three BOOKS of apologetics where Eusebius is trying to justify the history of Jesus and Christianity. I gave you one where Origin is doing the same thing and also Tertulian and Clement of Alexandria. The early church was trying to it’s very best to find any and all references to Jesus and the Christian stories in old Pagan writings, especially among the Pagan historians.”

        You claimed Eusebius was trying to find evidence that Jesus existed, and again, give not a figment of proof for this. Eusebius and the early Christians weren’t trying to prove Jesus existed in their apologetics, they were trying to prove Jesus was the Son of God (since no one didn’t think He existed back then), and the only places where Eusebius quotes earlier writings is to find proof for Christianity, not that idea that Jesus existed. The TF, for example — Eusebius quoted it not to prove Jesus existed, but to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, since of course it says “He (Jesus) was the Messiah” (of course that’s an interpolation). You yet again show you haven’t any understanding of Church History. The Christians weren’t trying to show Jesus existed, that’s a fact, they were trying to show He was divine. Thus, your entire contrivance collapses. Because nothing in Tacitus would remotely show Jesus is divine (in fact, it would show just the opposite since Eusebius would in effect be quoting a polemic against Christians), there is no purpose in any Christian using his writings. Let me challenge you. Find me a single ancient writer, Christian or non-Christian, that shows any familiarity with the idea of Jesus not existing or where they say they’re trying to prove Jesus “existed”. Where are your quotations? You clearly have none, and if you’d actually read Eusebius’ works, you’d know he wasn’t trying to prove Jesus existed. This only sadly demonstrates you don’t read much.

        “You just contradicted yourself. Celsus was showing that there was no person called Jesus that fitted the biblical stories i.e. the bible stories were made up and thus myths. And Eusebius would gladly have quoted a person that criticized Christianity. He was a firm believer in Martyrdom, he wrote a whole book on it.”

        Again, the argument is made that Eusebius should have quoted Tacitus. Of course, as I explained earlier, this is an argument from silence (logical fallacy) and so is of no use here. Interestingly enough, I will literally destroy you now. Indeed, your argument is that if Nero persecuted Christians, then Eusebius should have quoted writers earlier than him that make note of Nero’s persecution. Quoting from Melito of Sardis in the 2nd century AD, voilà:

        Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain calumniators, have wished to slander our doctrine, and from them it has come to pass that the falsehood has been handed down, in consequence of an unreasonable practice which prevails of bringing slanderous accusations against the Christians. Ecclesiastical History,
        4.26.9

        I guess that’s checkmate. Melito of Sardis, a 2nd century Christian wrote of the slandering and attack of Christians under the reigns of the emperors Nero and Domitian (Domitian was the first emperor to establish an empire-wide persecution of Christianity), and Eusebius quoted him on the Neronian persecution. What now? Is this the part where you implode?

        This isn’t over, however. Apparently, I was caught in another one of my lies:

        “That’s a lie as I gave the whole passage so you can read that for yourself.”

        I simply said that Tacitus account doesn’t seem “polished at all”, indeed, it sounds like Tacitus in the rest of his writings. To prove that I lied when I said I don’t find Annals 15.44 “polished”, you said you quoted the entire thing. And you did. And that proved that it wasn’t polished at all, it just reads like how Tacitus regularly reads. Really, just keep reading — go ahead and read Annals 15.45, and then 15.46, and so forth. Not only have you failed to even explain what you mean by “polished” (did Tacitus use too many big words for you?), but it actually turns out Tacitus always wrote like that (probably because he was one of the most educated Romans of the entire second century). But, of course, you have yet another complain with Tacitus, and that’s that the entire “Christian persecution” thing is a myth, and to show this, you refer me to a Wikipedia page that talks about a popular book called The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss, a revionist. Moss’s book has been uniformly dismissed by historians, see:

        https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/10/academic-review-of-moss-myth-of-persecution

        To quickly prove this, let’s go to Paul, who died as a martyr. You say there are no contemporary accounts of Paul (forgetting his several letters), and further show yourself unfamiliar with the record on Paul’s martyrdom. Clement of Rome, who was a contemporary of Paul and probably knew him since he is mentioned by Paul in his letters wrote this in 95 AD;

        But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

        So, Clement, a contemporary of Paul and probably directly knew him and is mentioned by Paul himself in his letters (Phillipians 4:3) in 95 AD tells us of the recent martyrdom of Paul that devastated the Christians with the loss of one of their leaders. Not only does this easily show Paul was martyred but it sends Moss’s book to the realm of fiction (but that had been already done).

        I think I’m getting to the end of this. You once again note that Pliny doesn’t refer to Nero’s procedures, an argument from silence, and ignore the obvious fact that Pliny was dealing with the Christians in his own authority and that there was never a single official “procedure” on how to persecute any one group, let alone Christians.

        Finally, back to Tacitus again, I noted Tacitus account attacks Christianity and Christians in numerous ways and so obviously wasn’t written by a Christian — rather it makes perfect sense that it was written by a Roman elitist like Tacitus. You argue that the only reason these insults are really there is because the sinister Christian forgers were trying to make it “look real” by pretending attacks on their own religion. This is totally anachronistic, of course, since there was no concept of making an interpolation “look real” in Tacitus’ day (specifically because there was no investigation into the authenticity of writings back then, that’s a modern thing), and of course, it’s just your own little just-so story to try to explain away the complete anti-Christian language used by Tacitus that has not one shred of evidence to back it up, and as we know, that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

        In conclusion, you were wrong about Celsus (or anyone at the time) being a mythicist, you failed to take into account the accounts of Paul’s execution by his fellow Clement, you were fantastically shown that Eusebius literally does mention the Neronian persecution and that he wasn’t trying to “prove Jesus existed”, on top of the other many corrections I made here. This response represents a stark contrast between your arguments and mine, I extensively quote the ancient records while you just … assert that they say things.

        No wonder Roman historians agree with me. As they say, checkmate.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        Well let’s see what you have cooked up now:

        >”I have literally never read something as bombastic as one of your arguments. You are so blithely ignorant and your response …… ”

        Ad hominem, misrepresentation of fact, not a single point I raised address. No point commenting.
        ****
        >”To quickly begin with, I recounted that in my previous comment, no Roman historian in the world thinks…”

        Appeal to authority fallacy, no point I raised addressed. No point commenting.
        *****
        >”To quickly begin with, I recounted that in my previous comment, no Roman historian in the world thinks …. ”

        Already addressed. Celcus (and other pagan writers) clearly stated that there was no evidence for the Jesus of the Bible, i.e. that character of the Bible is a myth. Of course they didn’t call themselves mythesists , they called themselves historians, philosophers and such like. You even give a quote from Celcus proving that the Jesus Celcus is referring to has nothing to do with the biblical character thus the latter is a myth. The Character Celcus describes is the bastard son of the Roman soldier Panthera, is that the Jesus of the Bible? Do you even know what the word “myth” means?
        ****
        >” Really? I lie? Couldn’t it be that I simply misread your quote?

        Not likely, because my quote was written with words, you made your claim twice and this was not the first time you have misrepresented what I wrote. You never even address the point given in my first post.
        If you have less than 50 K Christians in the second century world wide you will have a much lower number of Christian 50 years earlier as the population of the Christian religion was increasing after it’s start. Thus by 64CE the total amount of Christians world wide would have been maybe 10K. Of this we have only a small amount in Rome as is indicated by Acts. Thus you would not have 5K Christians tried and executed by Nero in Rome because it was simply not enough Christians in that city at that time.
        ****

        >” I guess that’s checkmate. Melito of Sardis, a 2nd century Christian wrote of the slandering a….”

        First off, You know what the word “slander” mean right? That is a VERBAL attack where you spread false statement about a persons (or groups) character. What is interesting (considerer where you got the quote) is that you omitted the preceding verses. Let’s look at two just above where you got the quote:
        ………….
        “4. And Clement of Alexandria refers to this work in his own discourse On the Passover, which, he says, he wrote on occasion of Melito’s work.

        5. But in his book addressed to the emperor he records that the following events happened to us under him: “For, what never before happened, the race of the pious is now suffering persecution, being driven about in Asia by new decrees. For the shameless informers and coveters of the property of others, taking occasion from the decrees, openly carry on robbery night and day, despoiling those who are guilty of no wrong.” And a little further on he says: If these things are done by your command, well and good. For a just ruler will never take unjust measures; and we indeed gladly accept the honor of such a death.”
        …………
        So let’s look at this part of the quote, It refers to Christians as Eusebius writes “us”, It sets the time of when it happened to the time of Meltio work and it reads.

        “For, what never before happened, the race of the pious is now suffering persecution, ”

        So according to your own reference: The Christians (us) had NEVER BEFORE suffered persecution. “Never before” includes the time of Nero.

        You just shot yourself in the foot there mate!

        ****
        >”I simply said that Tacitus account doesn’t seem “polished at all”

        And I gave you the whole quote of Sulpicius Severus to compare Tacitus with and the latter is more polished than the former and the former omits the Christians references you see in Tacitus which is unlikely that a Christian author would do. Which points to the fact that those were added later and thus this part of Tacitus written after Sulpicius Severus. “Polished” means that the Sulpicius Severus texts have been used as the base but has been rewritten to fit Tacitus with respect to style (it flows better has better sentence structure etc) and Christian narrative. Tacitus text is an improvement of what Severus wrote, which is what you tend to see in a “second draft”. The reverse is unlikely.
        ****
        >”Moss’s book has been uniformly dismissed by historians”

        Sure some historians don’t like it, but your own references are talking about MODERN Christianity. “Moss largely overlooks modern Christianity in the two-thirds world, especially in the Middle East and in Communist states”. This is a non sequitur.
        *****
        >”To quickly prove this, let’s go to Paul, who died as a martyr. You say there are no contemporary accounts of Paul (forgetting his several letters)”

        That is circular reasoning. It’s like saying that we know Robin Hood existed because we have all the stories about him. You also omits the fact that we acknowledge that many of those letters are forgeries.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles
        *****
        Again you cannot use parts of the Bible as evidence that it is true. This is called circular reasoning. Homer speaks about Achilles, so does that mean Achilles existed? Did Hercules or Zeus? By the way the first epistle of Clements is dated to sometime between 80 CE and 140 CE.
        *****

      • Yet another bombastic contrivance. Strangely enough, when I last called you ‘bombastic’, you accused me of committing an ad hominem fallacy, proving you simply don’t know what an ad hominem is. An ad hominem is not simply insulting you, an ad hominem is when someone attacks the person in order to dismiss an argument. In other words, it would be something like “richard carrier is retarded, therefore his arguments don’t work” — that would be an ad hominem. Of course, I never dismissed any of your arguments on the basis of your lack of familiarity with church history, I simply called you bombastic, and because I didn’t dismiss any of your arguments on the basis of you being bombastic, I never committed an ad hominem.

        A key to argumentation is understanding the words you use and the words your opponent used. You don’t know your own words, and hence have misaccused me of using a fallacy. You don’t know my words either, and thus you end up claiming I’ve misrepresented you without backing it up either. Previously, I’ve went to painstaking lengths to document your misunderstanding of church history. You’ve brushed over some of it, but it seems clear that you’re starting to learn, especially now that you’ve finally ceased using your arguments from silence regarding Pliny’s single letter to Trajan as well as your argument from silence regarding Eusebius mentioning the Neronian persecution. Nevertheless, we must go further.

        Before I first comment on Paul, I will bring attention to one of your first responses. I initially noted that no Roman historian in the world takes this contrivance your peddling seriously, not even Carrier himself tries to yield more than a sentence in the category of interpolation. So, I asked, what is it that you’ve taken into consideration that the academy hasn’t in the last two hundred years? To this, you responded;

        “Appeal to authority fallacy, no point I raised addressed. No point commenting.”

        This falls apart in two ways. For one, you comment on my point, and then say “no point commenting”, seemingly throwing yourself into a state of self-contradiction. Secondly, you label my claim an “argument from authority”. However, an argument from authority would be saying something is true because an authority says it’s true. I never said Annals 15.44 is authentic because every trained Roman historian in the world agrees it is, I simply point out that the passage uses anti-Christian language that is unparalleled in other Christian interpolation and that there’s no textual evidence for any interpolation here, and so I’ve come to the conclusion that any attack on the authenticity of this passage is simply a just-so story to try to explain away a historians mention of Jesus in the ancient world. Never was my argument based on the authority rather than the evidence — I simply want to know — what have you taken into consideration that Roman historians haven’t? It seems that this accusation of an argument from authority on my part was too quick to be made.

        Anyways, let’s go to Paul. We both know what I said earlier, this was your response:

        “That is circular reasoning. It’s like saying that we know Robin Hood existed because we have all the stories about him. You also omits the fact that we acknowledge that many of those letters are forgeries.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Pauline_epistles
        *****
        Again you cannot use parts of the Bible as evidence that it is true. This is called circular reasoning. Homer speaks about Achilles, so does that mean Achilles existed? Did Hercules or Zeus? By the way the first epistle of Clements is dated to sometime between 80 CE and 140 CE.”

        This is absolutely not circular reasoning, it’s just pointing out that Paul literally wrote things for us and hence to claim he didn’t exist is just astounding. Imagine if you were told that Tacitus doesn’t exist. This clearly makes no sense, since of course, we have Tacitus’ writings. So you tell the lunatic that we have Tacitus writings. He then gives the unmitigated response of “that’s circular reasoning, you can’t use Tacitus to prove Tacitus”. HUH? This argument would be laughed at by any logical person, yet you’re doing the same thing with Paul. You give a Wikipedia link to the dispute of the authenticity of some of Paul’s letters, yet the same Wikipedia link points out that there are seven undisputed letters in the Pauline corpus (that is, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Phillipians and Philemon), which means you shot yourself in the foot by giving me that citation. Indeed, only six of Paul’s letters in the New Testament are disputed, the other seven aren’t questioned by anyone.

        Next, I am told that my argument (Paul wrote X, meaning Paul must’ve existed otherwise we wouldn’t have X) is like saying arguing for Achilles with Homer, which is flat out false. My argument would be saying Homer’s argument proves Homer existed. Clement is dated by almost every scholar to c. 95 AD, however some scholars prefer 70 AD (funny enough, Carrier included). But the consensus seems to be 95 AD, Bart Ehrman once said he could talk for 20 minutes straight on why Clement wrote in the 90’s AD and not any other period. I once saw some random website giving a range of 80 – 140 AD, but that was a random online website and not a scholarly source. Anyhow, Clement’s account of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul obviously debunk Candida’s thesis which has been uniformly dismissed by scholars. Apparently, the reviews I sent you only discuss “modern” Christianity. I guess you simply didn’t read the entire reviews and only read the excerpts given in the link I sent. Here’s a fuller review:

        http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/review/the-myth-of-persecution-how-early-christians-invented-a-story-of-martyrdom

        So, Paul wrote letters, Paul’s (possible) companion Clement wrote of him and his execution a few years after it happened recounting the unfortunate loss of on of the early Churches leaders, and I haven’t made simplistic fallacies. Let’s go on to see whether I really “lied” about the sixty million figure:

        “Not likely, because my quote was written with words, you made your claim twice and this was not the first time you have misrepresented what I wrote. You never even address the point given in my first post.”

        You wrote it in words, but the words ‘sixty’ and ‘six’ look very similar. Perhaps I should be more upfront with you, buddy, I misread your comment so cool down. Got it? I wasn’t lying about your figure, I simply misread it. It’s almost fabulous that you’re insisting I lied about this. There are many estimates about the population of the early Church in Nero’s time. In 2015, a scholar named Brent Shaw actually argued against the historicity of the Neronian persecution and against Tacitus’ account by citing the small Christian population at the time (take note, brother, Shaw is a scholar who doesn’t/didn’t the persecution even happened yet doesn’t doubt Tacitus speaks of Christians) as evidence that there couldn’t have been a large persecution under Nero, similar to what you’re doing. I don’t know if your information comes from Shaw, but let’s move on. Just this year, in the journal New Testament Studies which is under the auspices of Cambridge University, Shaw was totally debunked by Christopher Jones:

        https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/72A73656C0F1372963C197F8945D38D3/S0028688516000308a.pdf/historicity_of_the_neronian_persecution_a_response_to_brent_shaw.pdf

        When it comes to the supposedly small Christian population, Jones rebuts this by pointing out that there is textual evidence that there was actually quite a large number of Christians in Rome at the time. This evidence comes from Paul himself, who says in his letter to the church in Rome “your faith is proclaimed to all the world” (1:8). Taking into account Paul’s use of exaggeration, it appears that this indirectly implies that there were quite a number of Christians in Rome so that they were proclaiming their faith to the ends of the empire. So, it seems as if the argument from population simply wont work, we have good evidence to suggest that the number of Christians in Rome were large enough for this persecution to manifest.

        Finally, we return to Celsus and mythicists. As I’ve been telling you again and again, there was not a single mythicist in the first 1,500 years (probably 1700 in fact) since the death of Jesus. You cited Celsus to prove me wrong (inexplicably, you keep spelling his name ‘Celcus’), and I basically showed that Celsus did believe Jesus existed very obviously, he just didn’t buy the miracles. You then backtrack, claiming that although Celsus did think Jesus existed (as did everyone else), he just didn’t think the Jesus did the miracles that the New Testament talks about, which is irrelevant. To date, I’ve not seen a single shred of evidence that Eusebius was trying to prove “Jesus existed”, since he wasn’t, he was only trying to prove Jesus is the Son of God. Again, if Eusebius was trying to prove Jesus existed … who would he be trying to convince? Certainly not Celsus. Thus, the claim that Eusebius was trying to “prove Jesus existed” falters and Celsus can’t be used to defend this historically false claim. Again, just do yourself a favor and read the very apologetics books that Eusebius wrote that you cited and you’ll clearly see he didn’t at all care about the subject of the historicity of Jesus.

        Since we’re on the subject of Eusebius, let’s talk about his quotation of the very Neronian persecution that I’ve actually shown Eusebius cited from Melito of Sardis who wrote in the 2nd century. But before we do that, there is yet another record in the 2nd century that notes the Neronian persecution, written by Tertullian;

        Consult your own records : there you will find that Nero was the first to furiously attack with the imperial sword this sect then rising into notice especially at Rome 13. But in such an originator of our condemnation we |18 indeed glory. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing but what was sublimely good was condemned by Nero. Apology 5

        So, in about the time of Melito telling us about the Christian subjugation under Nero, Tertullian also tells us that Nero outright furiously persecuted the Christians. Fantastically, Eusebius ALSO(!) quoted this from Tertullian in his Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, Chapter 25. You can find that here:

        http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250102.htm

        So, Eusebius quoted both Melito of Sardis, who tells us Nero was slandering Christians and whatnot, and Tertullian, who further elaborates of Christians being persecuted. If you think it can’t get better, you’re wrong. In the Tertullian passage, Tertullian tells the people he’s writing for to “Consult your own records” to find the narration of Nero’s persecution of the Christians. In other words, Tertullian who is writing 180-200 AD is telling us that there are already Roman records that talk about Nero’s persecution of the Christians. Of course, the only such source we have is Tacitus, meaning Tertullian must have been referring to the works of Tacitus here. Not only does Eusebius’ use of Tertullian blow away your position that Eusebius somehow didn’t quote the Neronian persecution, but Tertullian himself validates the authenticity of Annals 15.44 (which isn’t being disputed by Roman historians anyways). If Tertullian wasn’t talking about Annals 15.44 when he told the Romans to “consult your own records”, then who was he talking about? … no answer can be given.

        Of course, I hear the words repeated to me that Tacitus’ account is “polished”. Since you elaborated in your previous response, however, it’s obvious that when you say it’s more “polished”, you really just mean that Tacitus’ account is more fancy than Severus’ account. As I explained earlier, this is irrelevant since Tacitus is literally the ancient worlds greatest historian and his account in Annals 15.44 is just as fancy as the rest of his writing, and thus, to claim that Annals 15.44 is an anomaly in the writings of Tacitus simply doesn’t work. It’s obvious that Severus is basing his work off of Tacitus, because Severus’ writings contain more developed legends than those of Tacitus. Severus tells us that both Peter and Paul were executed in the Neronian persecution — if the Christians were just forging Annals 15.44 off of Severus, then why didn’t they include this key detail that surely would have greatly helped them advance their claims of martyrdom? Severus’ account is also more developed in another way. While Tacitus refers to some methods of execution used by Nero against Christians, Severus tells us that Nero invented entirely NEW methods of execution just for the Christians! So, it’s obvious that Severus is reading his own Christian bias and developing Tacitus’ account of the Neronian persecution in order to serve his intended purpose: promoting the braveness of the Christians who suffered under the evil Romans.

        So, not only isn’t there a shred of evidence Annals 15.44 is based on Severus’ account, it seems that just the opposite happened, Severus developed Annals 15.44.

        In conclusion, you’re wrong about everything and there remains to be a shred of evidence against the authenticity of Annals 15.44. Tacitus wrote of Jesus and the persecution of Christians under Nero.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”Strangely enough, when I last called you ‘bombastic’, you accused me of committing an ad hominem fallacy … ”

        No I was referring to the whole passage (as I do now too) and any reader of that post will see what I mean.
        ****
        >”You don’t know your own words, and hence have misaccused me of using a fallacy.”

        I find that sentence rather funny.
        *****
        >”You’ve brushed over some of it, but it seems clear that you’re starting to learn, especially now that you’ve finally ceased using your arguments from silence regarding Pliny’s single letter to Trajan as well as your argument from silence regarding Eusebius mentioning the Neronian persecution.

        Straw-man. I have already laid out the case for Pliny and can’t be bothered constantly repeating myself – especially as you have not addressed those points and they are still there for anyone to see. In regards to Eusebius. You just shot yourself in the foot when you brought up and quoted “the Ecclesiastical History”. I give you a hint, who wrote those books do you think?

        * So your own reference mentions that Christians were “slandered” under Nero, not persecuted.
        * It was written by Eusebius and it also confirms Eusebius using Pagan sources to defend Christianity and the story of life of Jesus. (As you will see if you just start reading the books from the beginning)

        For example: In his eagerness to establish the Christian timeline for Jesus birth given in Luke and Matthew he makes a few blunders. Such as when he state that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and 28 years after the death of Anthony and Cleopatra . That would mean the year 2 BCE. However Josephus writings (which Eusebius uses to support this census) would have put that census in the year 6 CE. And also note that King Herod the Great died in 4 BCE, 26 years after the death of Anthony and Cleopatra. But Eusebius write that Jesus was born under the reign of King Herod. Eusebius is trying to fit the two contrary times given for Jesus birth into his Ecclesiastical History and is misrepresenting what the Pagan sources he is using is actually saying.
        *******
        >”This falls apart in two ways. For one, you comment on my point, and then say “no point commenting …”

        Nope, I do not address this as you give no evidence of anything. You simply state “no Roman historian in the world thinks the entire passage is literally a forgery”. You do not address anything I have pointed out instead, you appeal to authority and give no reference as to which one or what is stated by that authority. The whole passage you wrote can be summed up as “daddy told me”. It”s not worth addressing further.
        *****
        [About circular reasoning] >”Imagine if you were told that Tacitus doesn’t exist. This clearly makes no sense, since of course, we have Tacitus’ writings.”

        We have other sources in regards to Tacitus existence such as Pliny the Younger. That is an external independent source verifying his existence. You have no extra-biblical sources verifying Paul and since this is religious writings you have to be very careful about it as the proponents of the religion have a vested interest in writing even falsehoods that support their ideology. Are you familiar with the Christian religion of Mormonism? And that was less than 200 years ago.
        ******
        >”Just this year, in the journal New Testament Studies which is under the auspices of Cambridge University, Shaw was totally debunked by Christopher Jones:”

        Finally a clear reference. I read the article and was not impressed. I quote from it.

        “If there were not enough Christians in Neronian Rome to be a distinctive group, and the term Christianus (Chrestianus) had not yet come into common use by this time, a last question must be: how was Tacitus misled into identifying Nero’s victims as Chrestiani?”

        That is circular! The author assumes that the Tacitus passage is correct and then use that assumption to question the criticism of the same. I note further that all the author is doing is using the Bible to justify a biblical interpretation of the passage – again assuming that the biblical source is correct and can be seen as an untampered historical document. Which it can be as you have self-contradiction in it (c.f. the lineages of Jesus etc). So this is not a “total debunking” I would never have let it pass peer-review. You use the same circular reasoning. *The Tacitus passage say a lot of people therefore it was a lot of people*, such argumentation is based on a logical fallacy.

        ******
        >”I basically showed that Celsus did believe Jesus existed very obviously, he just didn’t buy the miracles.

        Nope, the person described by Celsus violates pretty much all the claims about him given in the Bible. Celsus writes that:
        * Jesus was the bastard son of a Roman soldier.
        * His mother was poor woman of the country convicted of adultery, who gained her sustenance by spinning.
        * Jesus hired himself out as a servant to work in Egypt and learned magic.
        * Jesus used his magic skills to proclaim himself a god.

        Are you really telling me that this is the description of Jesus in the Bible? That these claims about the historical person agrees with the Biblical description? If you don’t, then the biblical story (compared to the statements here) is a myth.
        *****
        >”To date, I’ve not seen a single shred of evidence that Eusebius was trying to prove “Jesus existed”, since he wasn’t, he was only trying to prove Jesus is the Son of God. Again, if Eusebius was trying to prove Jesus existed … who would he be trying to convince? Certainly not Celsus. ”

        Eusebius is trying to get people of his time (and later) to believe in Jesus as a historical person as well as a deity. He start that in Book 1 (see above) and fails. The reason that Eusebius didn’t try to convince Celsus is rather obvious, as Celsus had been dead for about a century before Eusebius was born.
        ****
        Yes let’s have a look at Eusebius again. I assume you are referring to Chapter 25 here:
        ……………….
        “3. But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion.

        4. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows: “Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence.”

        5. Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.”
        ……………

        So this states nothing about any persecution of a vast amount of Christians in Rome, trials of thousands etc. It ONLY mentions the martyrdom of Paul and Peter. And even that is dodgy because you have no verified graves of either man in Rome. You have some rather dodgy claims but no proof. See for instance the following in regards to Paul alleged remains. It also shows very well just how desperate Christians can be to try to find “proofs” that support their religion … even today.

        https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/three-conclusions-bones-st-paul-affair
        ************
        >”Of course, the only such source we have is Tacitus, ”

        That is simply false. There were plenty of Roman records in regards pretty much anything that dealt with crime and official actions. You are making an unsupported assumption here. I dealt with the earlier in the post.
        ****
        >”If Tertullian wasn’t talking about Annals 15.44 when he told the Romans to “consult your own records”, then who was he talking about?

        We know only that he doesn’t mention Tacitus. The statement “Your OWN records” however imply that this is church records, not Roman records
        *****
        >”As I explained earlier, this is irrelevant since Tacitus is literally the ancient worlds greatest historian …”

        So why would a person quoting him not be able to write as good language as the source he is quoting? You expect a second draft to be better than the first, not the other way around. You see this clearly in the Bible where the synoptic gospels and the Johannine one improves in writing-quality with time. This is one way used to date them. So we have established that Mark was written first because, Matthew contains the same material to a great extent and but also additional information and the writing is more polished compared to Mark. This is a well established way to date the Gospels. If we apply the same criteria to Tacitus and Sulpicius Severus. We see that the Tacitus text contains additional information not found in Severus – information in regards to Christian mythos and history whihc is unlikely to have been deliberately omitted by a Christian writer. The writing in Tacitus is more polished and thus the more likely to have been write *after* the more crude passage of Sulpicius Severus and to have used the latter as a base.
        ******
        >”if the Christians were just forging Annals 15.44 off of Severus, then why didn’t they include this key detail that surely would have greatly helped them advance their claims of martyrdom? ”

        Because those executions allegedly happened years later and thus would not fit the narrative of a historical accounting of the year 64 CE.
        *****
        >”While Tacitus refers to some methods of execution used by Nero against Christians, Severus tells us that Nero invented entirely NEW methods of execution just for the Christians!”

        Let’s look at the quotes in parallel:

        (Tacitus) “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

        (Severus) “Nay, even new kinds of death were invented, so that, being covered in the skins of wild beasts, they perished by being devoured by dogs, while many were crucified or slain by fire, and not a few were set apart for this purpose, that, when the day came to a close, they should be consumed to serve for light during the night.”
        ………………..
        The latter text is cruder and refers to the execution methods as new. Tacitus explains WHY the methods were used but does not list them as something new -implying that this methods had been reported on earlier. And the more economical writing (it contains the same materials but make do with fewer words) make sense if we assume that the Severus text is the draft and Tacitus the finished product. While the reverse order make no sense, because why would you deliberately write a cruder, less flowing text if you had Tacitus text to copy from?

        Now compare another part of the text:

        (Tacitus) “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa,”

        (Severus) “And in fact, Nero could not by any means he tried escape from the charge that the fire had been caused by his orders. He therefore turned the accusation against the Christians, and the most cruel tortures were accordingly inflicted upon the innocent.”
        ……………..
        In the Tacitus text you have a lot of additional information that is omitted in Severus,. This isn’t just more words this contain additional “facts”. A Christian writer would not omit this when he is writing about his own religion. Such as the “proof” of Jesus crucifixion, his trial, the time-period when this happened and a conformation of an independent agent as a witness. If you argue that Severus didn’t like the insult to the religion in Tacitus, he could have removed that and still kept the facts. So why did he remove the “facts” – or where the “facts” added in the Tacitus passage which used Severus writing as a base. The latter case makes sense, the former doesn’t.

        *****

      • Reading through your most recent response, I am yet again absolutely stunned by the amount of gymnastics being employed here to defend something as contrived as a Tacitean interpolation. Once again, you misuse the argument from authority accusation, since I did not use an authority as my argument for why Tacitus clearly is not interpolated, I evidently had other arguments — namely, there’s not a figment of textual evidence to support Tacitean interpolation, Tacitus is remarkably insulting towards Christians and Christianity, and more importantly, the entire case seems to be a just-so confection to explain away the Tacitus passage.

        Indeed, my mentioning of the fact that literally all Roman historians don’t take this seriously is to simply ask you a question — namely, what have you taken into account that they haven’t? You claim the Christopher Jones articles shouldn’t even have passed peer-review (I’ll get to that one in a second), however it’s clear that your thesis never has passed peer-review. Even the pseudohistorian Carrier’s obscure paper (which has garnered not a single citation) doesn’t try to go beyond a single sentence for interpolation. So, again, what do you know that Roman historians haven’t gotten to yet?

        On the discussion of Roman historians, let’s go back to Christopher Jones’ debunking of Brent Shaw. In response to my point, you exclaim “finally!” that I’ve given you a citation. This is most strange, since I’ve cited some five ancient records so far already, and you’ve cited … none. Anyways, let’s talk about how Jones destroyed Shaw (assuming you’re familiar with Shaw’s arguments). You are apparently not “impressed” with Jones, even though a particularly important scholar was on his blog:

        https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/nero-the-christians-jones-contra-shaw/

        One of Shaw’s arguments was that there couldn’t have been a sufficient number of Christians in Rome as reported by Tacitus to be persecuted at the time, but again, a record we have that dates a few years earlier than the Neronian persecution attests to just this — Paul’s letter to the Romans, which declares that the church in Rome has been proclaiming its faith to the ends of world. Accounting for exaggeration, this statement of Paul does in fact imply a sufficient number of Christians in Rome at this time, and so we have a direct record directed to Rome that damages to claim of a small and irrelevant Christian population so that Nero couldn’t have taken actions against them.

        As for Paul now, and my point that Tacitus’ history clearly proves Tacitus existed, you say;

        “We have other sources in regards to Tacitus existence such as Pliny the Younger. That is an external independent source verifying his existence. You have no extra-biblical sources verifying Paul and since this is religious writings you have to be very careful about it as the proponents of the religion have a vested interest in writing even falsehoods that support their ideology. Are you familiar with the Christian religion of Mormonism? And that was less than 200 years ago.”

        Mormonism is a sect, not a religion, but let’s put that aside for now. You say we have external attestation of Tacitus (being Pliny), but not for Paul — making you a very forgetful person. How many times have I now mentioned Clement of Rome, a contemporary of Paul who probably knew Paul (again, Paul directly mentions Clement in Phillipians 4:3) who recounts his martyrdom along with the martyrdom of Peter a few years after it happened as he laments over one of the recent deaths of one of the early churches leaders? We clearly do have external and undebatable attestation of Paul here, and furthermore, we also have the Book of Acts, which was also written by a companion of Paul so that he recorded his voyage with Paul. By the way, another note, Clement extensively quotes from Paul’s letters. It’s too obvious that you’re simply confused about Paul, not only do these sources flat out prove Paul existed but we actually have his letters. If Paul didn’t write those letters, then why were they written in Paul’s name? The only reason Paul was considered so authoritative is specifically because of the letters he wrote!

        So, you are simply wrong regarding Paul. Again, your own source in your previous comment (Wikipedia) also flat out notes that there are seven undisputed letters of Paul (1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Phillipians). By the way, it’s irrelevant that we don’t know where Paul was buried, especially.

        Again, Celsus was not a mythicist. A mythicist is not someone who “thinks the divinities of Jesus are a myth”, we both clearly know that we’re talking about people who don’t think Jesus existed. Celsus believes Jesus existed, and I’ve shown he goes to great lengths to explain away the miracles attributed to Jesus (by saying that his mother committed adultery, that his supernatural powers were actually received from the Egyptian magicians rather than God, etc). Remember, Celsus also notes things in line with the biblical accounts such as Jesus coming from a Judean village and claiming to be God, etc. Since it is the case that Celsus thought Jesus existed and every other person in the first 1,500 years after Jesus’ death thought Jesus existed, who was Eusebius trying to convince when he was trying to prove Jesus existed? I’ve asked you this question several times and you still haven’t been able to answer it. The obvious thing is that Eusebius wasn’t trying to prove Jesus existed, he was just trying to prove Jesus was the Son of God, and if you’d simply read the very apologetics books of Eusebius that you referred me to, you’d know this.

        I’ll quickly note Pliny — as I’ve noted earlier (that you seem to have forgotten about as well), there was no “single” method of convicting Christians administered by Nero or any other Roman, and so it would be simply strange to think Pliny would have referred to such a method. Pliny was clearly doing what ever other Roman was, that is, dealing with the Christians in whatever way he pleased. When it comes to executions and convictions, it’s a well known fact that the Roman elitists did pretty much whatever they want when dealing with enemies, never once have I ever read the case of a Roman elitist “using earlier procedures” to deal with an enemy. So, not only is the case a complete argument from silence, the logic here doesn’t work. Pliny wouldn’t have used earlier procedures (and if he did, why would he specifically use Nero’s?), he would have done whatever he wanted to (and that’s exactly what he did).

        Let’s backtrack to Eusebius again. As I’ve shown, Eusebius quotes TWO authors who make note of attacks on Christians under Nero’s time, being Melito of Sardis and Tertullian. So, what does each one say?

        Melito of Sardis tells us that the Christians were slandered. This, of course, could mean very many things, since the word ‘slander’ as used back then only means some kind of attack, be it verbal or physical. From this phrase, we only know that Nero was doing things against the Christians, but Melito also says that Nero tried to “impeach our doctrines”. While this also isn’t sufficiently specific to say Melito was talking about persecution, it could very easily mean that. Tertullian, however, couldn’t be more clear as he writes and as he is quoted by Eusebius;

        The senate, because it did not itself approve, rejected the proposal. Caesar maintained his own opinion, and threatened danger to those who accused the Christians. Consult your own records : there you will find that Nero was the first to furiously attack with the imperial sword this sect then rising into notice especially at Rome. (Apology 5)

        Tacitus goes on to call Nero and Domitian “our persecutors”. This is a clear mentioning of the Neronian persecution by Tertullian, and in turn, quoted by Eusebius. I guess that settles that. You claim when Tertullian says “consult your own records”, he is referring to church records, however Apology 5 is clearly directed to Roman records (I mean he even mentions the Roman decrees). Tertullian even says to consult “your own” records, implying someone of a group different from his own, as in the Romans. Since Tacitus was the only Roman record, and in fact the only record in general we’re aware of that mentions the Neronian persecution before Tertullian, there is little doubt that Tertullian couldn’t have meant anyone besides Tacitus. Everything entirely loses sense however once we start believing Tacitus was actually forged.

        Finally, back to Severus and Tacitus’ accounts. Again, Tacitus is literally always “polished” in his writings. Annals 15.44 is no more polished than Annals 15.45 or Annals 15.46. So this argument clearly doesn’t work, if anything, it rebuts you since this clearly shows that the language of Tacitus 15.44 is consistent with how we know Tacitus always writes. It would be difficult to claim that a Christian wrote Annals 15.44, since that would require the scribe who forged this passage to be able to to write as well as Tacitus, a super wealthy and highly educated aristocrat and Roman elitist, which is unlikely that a random scribe should be able to ever accomplish. As I plow through this passage, it seems more and more clear that Tacitus wrote it.

        However, you try another argument, namely, that Tacitus account has new details. As I’ve previously argued, it’s the other way around, Severus is more developed. Firstly, Tacitus does not tell us why the execution methods were used, like you claim. Both Tacitus and Severus name pretty much the same execution methods, except Severus tells us that Nero went out of his way to produce entirely new forms of execution to kill Christians. Furthermore, Severus claims Nero killed Peter and Paul. If Severus is the draft and source for Tertullian, why on God’s green Earth wouldn’t the forgers mention such a key piece of information? Your explanation is remarkably weak;

        “Because those executions allegedly happened years later and thus would not fit the narrative of a historical accounting of the year 64 CE.”

        Allegedly years later? Allegedly by who? Not even today scholars are sure whether or not Paul & Peter died before, during, or after the Neronian persecution. On your view, Severus is in fact the source and draft of Annals 15.44, meaning that the hypothetical forgers surely would have used such a key piece of information for promoting martyrdom as the deaths of Peter and Paul themselves! It’s evident that some of Severus claims are exaggerate the scale of the persecution as recorded by Tacitus. While Tacitus account is both insulting towards Christians and mentions the simples of the persecution, Severus tells us Nero became creative to be able to kill the Christians in new ways and Severus also starts conflating the martyrs of early church leaders with the persecution as well. This probably explains why you’re one of the only people in the world who thinks Annals 15.44 uses Severus rather than the reverse. There’s absolutely no evidence that anything in Tacitus comes from Severus, and once it becomes clear there isn’t a figment of evidence for Tacitean interpolation it becomes almost certain that Severus used Tacitus. We’ve seen quite literally all your arguments directed against the Neronian persecution (population, Eusebius, Pliny) collapse, and the fact that Annals 15.44 reads just as polished as any other thing Tacitus wrote, Tacitus clearly wrote Annals 15.44 and it becomes repeatedly more clear to me, time after time, that all claims otherwise are just-so stories to try to explain away what is otherwise a solid historical source that is pretty much inarguably authentic. Your claims that anyone but Tacitus, let alone a Christian would write the unbelievable insults to Christianity in Annals 15.44 make little sense if it all when taking into account that no interpolater on Earth was concerned with “sounding authentic” because they didn’t even know that others would try to prove their stuff was interpolated. Christians couldn’t have written Annals 15.44, as the evidence I’m concerned with shows, and all you have are just-so ad hoc implausibilities to claim otherwise. The evidence is overwhelmingly on one side here.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”I CE to evidently had other arguments — namely, there’s not a figment of textual evidence to support Tacitean interpolation,”

        That has already been dealt with. The utter silence from early church-fathers. The fact that there was no “vast amounts of Christians in existence at the time, The fact that not a single person used it as evidence for Jesus existence until the 15th century, that a Roman official source would never refer to Jesus as “Christ” but rather by his name (and the sentence actually state “Chrstus” not “Christus” etc. All that points to an interpolation and I’m far from the only person that has pointed this out.

        Now with all these questions unanswered and the fact that the oldest copy we have was provably altered. That is is from the 11th century. The manuscript shows other signs of tampering where the whole section dealing with the years 29CE to 31 CE are now missing.

        So how do we know this specific passage is genuine and what evidence is it for that. The answer is “none”.
        ****
        >” — namely, what have you taken into account that they haven’t? ”

        I did a population calculation of the expected number of Christians in Rome at the year 64 CE based on the expected growth of Christianity given the amount of knowledge we do have of the Christian population at later points. It’s in the first post.
        ******
        >”however it’s clear that your thesis never has passed peer-review.”

        Not only did my these pass peer review back in 1999 but I have added a further 60+ articles in peer reviewed journals. I’m a scientist not a theologian or historian.
        ****
        >”You are apparently not “impressed” with Jones, even though a particularly important scholar was on his blog:”

        That blog doesn’t even address the circular reasoning used by Jones and does not address in any way what an expected population would be based on fact that we had a Christian population of less than 8 million by the year 300 CE. And an expected Christian population of less than 50K by the beginning of the second century CE. Note here that the majority of Christian strongholds were in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, so with an expected amount of Christians being about 10K or so in total by the year 64CE we expect only a small group of maybe a hundred or so in Rome. Which agrees with the fact that no contemporary historians, Roman or Jewish, mentions them before the beginning of the 2nd century.
        ****
        >”You say we have external attestation of Tacitus (being Pliny), but not for Paul — making you a very forgetful person. ”

        You know what the word contemporary mean right? Tacitus is NOT a contemporary evidence for Paul, and the passage is dodgy. Paul allegedly interacted with a lot of historical people (all whom never mentions him), he caused a lot of “scandals” in the local communities, never reported by ancient historians that were there at the time. The only thing you have about the supposed actions of Paul is in Christian writings.
        ******
        >”ow many times have I now mentioned Clement of Rome, a contemporary of Paul who probably knew Paul.”

        That’s like saying that Little John is evidence for Robin Hood. That Clements is the person mentioned by Paul in Phillipians 4:3 is a church tradition. Much in the same way that the gospel of Matthew is is traditionally associated the the disciple Matthew despite the fact that there is no evidence for this (and most theologian I know agree that it was not written by the disciple Matthew).
        *****
        >”Again, your own source in your previous comment (Wikipedia) also flat out notes that there are seven undisputed letters of Paul.”

        No it actually states, “considered genuine by most scholars”, so they are also disputed to some extent.
        *****
        >”A mythicist is not someone who “thinks the divinities of Jesus are a myth”, we both clearly know that we’re talking about people who don’t think Jesus existed”

        And Celsus clearly point out that the “historical Jesus” he is find evidence for, does not in any way fit the historical Jesus of the bible. Id est the history of Jesus as given by the Bible does not fit the Jesus presented by Celsus so the historical Jesus of the Bible is a myth – a bit like Robin Hood – who is also a myth. Celsus doesn’t mention supernatural powers. The magic he is talking about is the ones found in Egypt i.e. the kind we call magic today. Sleight of hands, illusions, misdirection etc. And it reads “Jewish” village not Judean. And the Jesus of the Bible does not claim to be a god, or the god. In several verses he distance himself from god.

        ***
        >”who was Eusebius trying to convince when he was trying to prove Jesus existed? I’ve asked you this question several times and you still haven’t been able to answer it. ”

        I quote my earlier post verbatim:

        “Eusebius is trying to get people of his time (and later) to believe in Jesus as a historical person as well as a deity. He start that in Book 1 (see above) and fails….”

        And other Christian church fathers did the same thing. tried to find evidence for their religion and to write up a history for it.
        *****
        >”The obvious thing is that Eusebius wasn’t trying to prove Jesus existed, he was just trying to prove Jesus was the Son of God, and if you’d simply read the very apologetics books of Eusebius that you referred me to, you’d know this. ”

        I went through in quite some detail how Eusebius tried to establish the historicity of Jesus birth and fails (This starts in Ecclesiastical Histories Book 1 Chapter 5 and onwards) using Josephus as a crutch and not getting it right.
        ******
        >”there was no “single” method of convicting Christians administered by Nero or any other Roman, and so it would be simply strange to think Pliny would have referred to such a method. ”

        which shows that this was unusual. If you had had 5,000 cases there would be an abundance of literature for a magistrate to draw from. So the fact that Pliny do not know how to deal with Christians indicate that this is a rare event. An Imperial Magistrate does not bother his Emperor with something that is common knowledge.
        ******
        >” the logic here doesn’t work. Pliny wouldn’t have used earlier procedures (and if he did, why would he specifically use Nero’s?”

        NERO’S?! Do you think Nero was precenting over the trial of the Christians? The Roman legal apparatus was massive. Why don’t you have a look at a summary of it. After this you’ll see that 5,000 cases of Christians being tried in court all in Rome would leave a massive amount of records of how to deal with them.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_litigation
        ******
        I found a copy of an English version of Tertullian’s book.

        http://www.tertullian.org/articles/bindley_apol/bindley_apol.htm#13

        What you quote is in Chapter 5 and here it’s starting to look really dodgy again.

        >”Tiberius, then, in whose time the Christian name entered into the world, laid before the senate tidings from Palestine which had revealed to him the truth of that Divine Power there manifested, and supported the motion with his own first vote. The senate, because it did not itself approve, rejected the proposal. Caesar maintained his own opinion, and threatened danger to those who accused the Christians. Consult your own records : there you will find that Nero was the first to furiously attack with the imperial sword this sect then rising into notice especially at Rome 13. But in such an originator of our condemnation we indeed glory. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing but what was sublimely good was condemned by Nero.”

        Being a bit lazy I looked up “early Christian writing” in regards to this. I quote:

        “It would no doubt be pleasant if we could believe this story of Tertullian, which he manifestly believed to be true but a story so inherently improbable and inconsistent with what we know of Tiberius, related nearly 170 years after the event, does not commend itself to a historian’s judgement.”

        Enough said.
        *******
        >” Firstly, Tacitus does not tell us why the execution methods were used, like you claim. ”

        Yes it does read really clearly: “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, … ” id est, it was done in order to mock or humiliate. Again I don’t believe this happened and Tacitus of course never saw it even if the passage there is correct (which it is likely not)
        ******
        >”Not even today scholars are sure whether or not Paul & Peter died before, during, or after the Neronian persecution

        As I stated allegedly happened years late. We do not know when they happened , or even IF they happened as there are hardly any information about these people from outside of the Christian narrative. And Christian forgeries and attempts to change history or to make things up was rampant during this time and continues for millenia.

        We even have it in the Bible with, e.g., the two contradictory lineages of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke. (at least one of them MUST to be false). Things were simply made up to try to convince people that the stories about Jesus was true. And on an on it goes.

      • Since your responses are becoming increasingly frenzied and disorderly, I am without option but to divide my response into specific sections as to maintain any structure as I have done in my previous posts. Indeed, this will be the key to my current response that yet again will undertake your silly conspiracy theory;

        1. Academics
        2. Evidence for/against interpolation
        3. Eusebius
        4. Selcus
        5. Paul
        6. Pliny
        7. Other smaller issues

        Let’s begin.

        1. At last, I receive an answer for my question. Time and time again, I’ve pressed on you; since every Roman historian in the world seems to take no relevance to the conspiracy you promulgate, what is it that a laymen like yourself has taken into account that seemingly was not considered by the academy? Apparently, this is your response:

        “I did a population calculation of the expected number of Christians in Rome at the year 64 CE based on the expected growth of Christianity given the amount of knowledge we do have of the Christian population at later points. It’s in the first post.”

        Apparently, what you take into account that the others haven’t is ‘population’. However, as I’ve shown before, Brent Shaw in his paper against the Neronian persecution specifically cited the population of the Christians against the Neronian persecution, and Shaw doesn’t think Annals 15.44 is a forgery (I will go back to how Jones debunked him in this section). So, since Roman historians have already taken this into account, your answer becomes obsolete. So, again, what have you taken into account that Roman historians haven’t (by the way, I’ll get to your ‘population calculation’ in the second section).

        Jones easily took down Shaw by pointing out that Paul’s letter to the Church of Rome describes a large number of Christians, and this was probably about a decade before the Neronian persecution took place, hence, our sources clearly demonstrate that as far as population goes, there were in fact a sufficient number of Christians in Rome so that Neronian would try to attack them. You claim that in the first century the Christian population was mainly situated in the eastern empire, but that’s obviously not only conjecture, but according to Tertullian, there were a larger number of Christians in Rome than any other century in Nero’s time.

        Regarding Jones’ paper, I pointed out that a particularly important scholar finds it a very good paper, and in response, you say he “hasn’t taken into account the circular reasoning”. However, I, nor does he find any circular reasoning. In fact, the peer-reviewers themselves seem to never have caught any circular reasoning, and since the journal Cambridge University journal New Testament Studies is operated by renowned NT scholars, it appears as if all trained scholars think there’s no circular reasoning and you (the silly mythicist) thinks there is. I wonder who is correct? If it’s not already obvious, they are clearly correct. I went back to your previous comments to find this “circular reasoning”, and found out that you’re full of it. Jones argued that if the designation ‘Christian’ wasn’t around in Nero’s time … then why on Earth did Tacitus think so? Jones is pointing out that it’s unlikely that given that the term ‘Christian’ is an outer-designation, it’s unlikely Tacitus would ever have been misled identifying the the Christians in Nero’s time as ‘Christians’. Indeed, Shaw’s view that the term ‘Christian’ wasn’t around in Nero’s time seems to be a total clunker given the fact that it was an early outer-designation.

        I think that sums up the facts when it comes to the views of the academy we’ve been discussing. Your views against Jones are profoundly weak and you’ve never taken anything into account that Roman historians haven’t.

        2. Evidence for/against interpolation

        You bring forth a line of evidences, all of which I find to be awful. Let me quickly dispel them.

        a. Not quoted until 15th century. I’ve already explained that no Christian in their right minds would quote something as polemical against their religion as Tacitus.

        b. Your population calculation. The entire thing can be dismissed out of hand since it is 100% speculation and based on no facts. It assumes the Christian population to be 8 million by 300 (the estimates I’m aware of are quite higher, about 10-15 mil), but even worse, it assumes that the rate of growth of Christians remained constant from Jesus’ crucifixion to 300 AD, which is impossible to justify. It could have easily been that the rate of growth of Christianity was much faster in the earlier days, so that it reached 150,000 by 100 AD, and then grew at a slower rate so that it then reached 8 million by 300 AD. Anyone claiming to have a ‘population calculator’ for Christians in any period of time in antiquity is out of their minds. The best one can come up with is a very rough approximation.

        c. Provably altered. As I’ve noted earlier, this ‘alteration’ is a single letter — Chrestianos to Christianos. Both spellings are variants for the exact same words. This is almost too clearly, to me, a scribe simply trying to correct what he saw as a spelling error (which is common), it would be completely eccentric to say that changing a letter means that the rest of it is forged, in fact it’s a complete non-sequitur.

        Hence, all arguments against authenticity are incalculably weak. The evidence for authenticity is much stronger; 1) It’s in our only existing copy of Tacitus, no reason to ever assume it wasn’t there 2) The account insults Christianity and Christians, which only makes sense since we can realize the author, Tacitus, was a Roman elitist 3) The passage is just as polished as literally everything else Tacitus writes. Indeed, Annals 15.44 reads just like Tacitus writes literally everywhere else which, as far as I’m concerned, should flat-out prove Tacitus wrote it. The only alternative is to think that some Christian mastermind mastered the style of Tacitus over an enormous length of time so as to insert something in Tacitus that everyone during his time already believed was true, that Pilate crucified Jesus and Nero later persecuted Christianity. And I guess that brings a fourth point, 4) Since literally no one was ever debating whether or not Pilate crucified Jesus or Nero persecuted Christians, what on God’s green Earth would be the purpose of forging an account to say just this?

        Taking the arguments into account, authenticity is myriads more valid than evidence-less forgery.

        3. Eusebius

        At this point, we can both agree that I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Eusebius quotes the persecution in Ecclesiastical History 2.25 when he quoted Tertullian. We both agree Tertullian talks about the persecution, and that’s because this can’t be argued against given what Tertullian says, and because Eusebius makes use of this, the claim that “Eusebius should have mentioned the Neronian persecution” disappears.

        Your only attempt was to cite some website that says what Tertullian says about Tiberius isn’t true, which obviously is irrelevant since that had nothing to do with Tertullian’s words on Nero. Indeed, your very source doesn’t even question the Neronian persecution, and furthermore, you’re obviously trying to shift goalposts now away from whether or not Eusebius mentions the Neronian persecution. He did, so that settles that.

        Again, I think by now, I’ve also proven that Eusebius had no interested in “proving Jesus existed” since it wasn’t even a discussion at the time, he was only wanting to prove Jesus was the Son of God since guys like Celsus were saying that Jesus was just a guy. To demonstrate this beyond a reasonable doubt, I’ve referred you to the works of Eusebius which argue for Christianity. They easily demonstrate Eusebius was trying to prove Jesus’ miracles, not Jesus Himself. Your only attempt of a rebuttal is, I think, disingenuous, because you point out Eusebius argued Jesus was born of a virgin. The fact that Eusebius argued for the virgin birth has nothing to do with Eusebius supposedly trying to advance the very historicity of the guy Jesus. It’s completely disingenuous to say otherwise.

        So, it is both a fact that Eusebius 1) quotes the Neronian persecution 2) Has no concept of needing to prove Jesus existed (since there were no mythicists).

        4. Celsus

        Before writing my most recent response to you, I read the entire first book of Origen’s Contra Celsus, and found that you’re full of it. You try to argue that the Jesus entity of Selcus is entirely distinct from the Jesus discussed in the Bible, and I found this was nonsensical. Indeed, from the first book of Origen’s Contra Celsus alone, I have found Celsus affirms all the following about Jesus;

        -proclaimed himself God
        -came from a Jewish village born of a Jewish mother
        -went to Egypt as recorded by Matthew
        -performed miracles and marvels albeit by sorcery rather than God’s power
        -was an itinerant teacher and taught doctrines
        -had several disciples, including those of the occupation of tax-collectors
        -the baptism of Jesus
        -suffered torture and was executed

        Hence, it is OBVIOUS that when Celsus talks about Jesus, and when the Bible talks about Jesus, both are referring to the exact same Jewish teacher that went around teaching with His disciples and whatnot. Celsus is, therefore, not a mythicist. To define a mythicist as someone who “doesn’t believe in the Jesus of the Bible” would literally include all non-Christians, including guys like Bart Ehrman who have written entire books debunking mythicism. You can obviously believe Jesus existed without believing in the miracles ascribed to Him in the Bible.

        Celsus was, therefore, not a mythicist, i.e. “someone who believes not only that Jesus wasn’t God’s Son, but that He never even existed in the first place”.

        5. Paul

        Here, your comment simply enters the clunker. When I read what you said about Clement of Rome, thank God I wasn’t sitting on a chair, because I would have simply fell out of it in shock. Before I go to Clement, I’ll go back to Paul’s letters which prove Paul existed. In fact, I don’t even need to claim Paul wrote a single one of them to show they prove Paul existed, which therefore frees me of your accusation of circular reasoning.

        Indeed, in every single one of Paul’s undisputed letters, they begin with something like “Paul an apostle from Jesus”. In other words, EVERY SINGLE one of the undisputed letters attests to the existence of a man named Paul. Indeed, even if I were to say not a single one of them were written by Paul, they ALL still attest to his existence by outright quoting him, and we know these letters existed during his lifetime (because they are quoted in the first century by Clement himself) and thus they are not only ridiculously early, but I have at least 7 undisputed contemporary accounts of Paul since they were written by someone during Paul’s lifetime (and for some reason attributed to him, on your view). On top of that, Clement writes of Paul, Clement who was another one of Paul’s contemporaries, probably knew him and wrote soon after his martyrdom to lament over his death. Finally, we have the author of Luke-Acts who mentions Paul, who is ANOTHER(!) one of Paul’s contemporaries and knew Paul and in fact had a voyage with him (hard to have a voyage with someone who didn’t exist).

        And on top of all that, please explain this: if it is the case that Paul didn’t exist… WHY would he be invented? LOL. Did some bishop in the 40’s suddenly decide “hey guys, why don’t we invent some random Christian leader and attribute a bunch of letters to him? wouldnt that be fun?” It quite literally makes no sense. So, not only do we have a ton of contemporaries of Paul writing about Paul, but the mere invention of Paul is inexplicable on historical grounds. I guess that blows you out of the water as well as another one of your conspiracy theories. Seriously, PAUL didn’t exist? Thank God that every Pauline scholar in the world doesn’t even entertain such nonsensical notions.

        Anyways, you say Clement’s mentioning of Paul is “like saying that Little John is evidence for Robin Hood.” What a bunch of clunker. Clement, a contemporary of Paul who actually existed, mentions a Church leader he knew named Paul. This is NOT analogous in the slightest to your Robin Hood tale, this is blatantly an ancient bishop telling us about the death of one of his contemporaries, this is a flat out historical record. How on Earth did Clement lament over Paul’s death if there was no Paul? This conspiracy theory is really just pushing the extent of reason and logic. I’ve shown overwhelming evidence here to establish Paul, and the mere fact that you question something like this readily explains why you’re a mythicist.

        6. Pliny

        God help me. When Domitian persecuted Christians, he didn’t refer back to the procedures of Nero. When Trajan persecuted Christians, he didn’t refer back to the procedures of Domitian. When Hadrian persecuted Christians, he didn’t refer back to the procedures of Trajan. When Aurelius persecuted Christians, he didn’t refer back to the procedures of Hadrian. Indeed, it seems that in the entire history of Roman elitists persecuting smaller groups, they NEVER refer back to the procedures of their predecessors. In other words, it would be entirely special pleading to say that Pliny should have done so, even though no one else did. According to Pliny himself in his letter, he had “never participated in trials of Christians”, which easily explains why Pliny was referring to Trajan to ensure that his personally devised procedures were valid. Trajan in his response did not say “FOOL! Why don’t you just refer to the records of our predecessors and how they tried Christians?” — he simply said “good job”, even though it’s well known Pliny and Trajan weren’t the first persecutors of Christianity. So, I have simply shown that claiming Pliny should have referred to earlier procedures is special pleading. That should have been obvious if you were at all familiar with martyr history, but … you aren’t, so we had to have this discussion.

        7. Other

        “As I stated allegedly happened years late”

        Allegedly? Allegedly according to WHO? LOL. Conjecture detected. Certainly not allegedly by Severus, whom you claim is the source of Annals 15.44. I guess that takes care of that.

        Severus, as I have now established, is developing Tacitus. Tacitus simply refers to some execution methods used by Nero, whereas Severus tells us ENTIRELY NEW methods of execution were used by Nero to take out Christians. Tacitus says not a word of any specific martyrs, but Severus conflates the historical martyrdoms of two of some of the most important church leaders with the Neronian persecution. Obviously, this is much more developed than Tacitus saying “they were mocked”, a statement that does not even have any detection fo development in the first place. Since Severus is vastly more developed than Tacitus, this establishes Severus used Tacitus, and therefore Annals 15.44 was around before Severus (i.e. much earlier than the 6th century AD).

        You also claimed that no historian mentions Jesus or Christians in the first century, of course forcing you to pretend away Josephus. Even if one considers the TF a full flat out forgery (in contradiction with the opinion of scholars which only labels it as a partial interpolation), then there’s still XX.9.1 which is indisputably authentic. You also claim Wikipedia says there is “some” dispute of Pauline letters, which to anyone with any familiarity with NT scholarship, knows is flat out false. For one, Wikipedia is garbage as a source, and according to Wikipedia’s own policies, Wikipedia is unreliable (I know this as a former editor of Wikipedia). That’s why when you use Wikipedia, you have to look at the citations Wikipedia gives for its claims and just ignore the claims themselves. Wikipedia never cites any dispute whatsoever on the seven undisputed letters, and fails to quote a single critic of their authorship authenticity (probably because there’s no dispute to be had, since it’s been proven Paul wrote them). All Pauline scholars (as in 100%) agree Paul wrote all seven undisputed letters. See this:

        https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-662-41228-2_7

        That you’re unaware of all of this really speaks about something. You simply have no familiarity with either church history or New Testament scholarship.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        Okay let’s start with the statistics as this is what the post was about (this is your point 2b).
        It turns out I was not the only one using this approach to calculate the growth of the Christian population in Rome in the first 3 centuries. Professor Rodney William Stark did it back in 1996 in the book” The rise of Christianity”. I quote part of the Wiki about the book and author.

        “Stark has proposed in The Rise of Christianity that Christianity grew through gradual individual conversions via social networks of family, friends and colleagues. His main contribution, by comparing documented evidence of Christianity’s spread in the Roman Empire with the history of the LDS church in the 19th and 20th centuries, was to illustrate that a sustained and continuous growth could lead to huge growth within 200 years. This use of exponential growth as a driver to explain the growth of the church without the need for mass conversions (deemed necessary by historians until then) is now widely accepted.”

        So, the model used is widely accepted which isn’t strange at all as it is what we use in the calculations of population growth in other areas, included the natural sciences where I come from. I used a larger set of people in the starting population and placed that further away from the year 64 CE than did professor Stark so the data I get are higher than his would be. Still I get about 10K to 12K total Christian population by that year. Which isn’t surprising as this is in the beginning of an exponential growth. You wrongly suggest that 15M Christians would have a noticeable effect on the population by the time of the conflagration of Rome in 64 CE. It doesn’t. I use my starting point as an example because it gives an even greater Christian population than Professor Stark’s.

        * 5,000 Christians in the year 35 CE with a growth-rate of 2.7% per year will get you 5,822,876 people by the year 300 CE and the population at 64 CE is…… 10,827 people. (11K)

        * 5,000 Christians in the year 35 CE with a growth-rate of 3.1% per year will get you 16,312,341 people by the year 300 CE and the population at 64 CE is…… 12,119 people. (12K)

        So, you basically get the same number of people within error at that early point in Christian history, which anyone with some maths skill will know. Again, a very low number of Christians worldwide by 64CE, and Rome would have a tiny minority of that population as the real growth of Christianity was in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire (that is where we find the majority of early Christian churches etc.). So, the number of Christians in Rome in 64 CE is NOT a vast multitude as is suggested in the Tacitus passage indicating that it is not genuine. A final point, historians had not used statistical analysis on the Christian population prior to when someone with knowledge in maths did it for them, which is why you haven’t seen it. Now the conclusions of Stark’s work are accepted by a consensus. I suggest you get over it but if you want to talk about the statistical models feel free. I post the other comments in a new post as that doesn’t deal with science.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        I regards to your point 1)

        Corrections of your comments about academics:

        >”Jones easily took down Shaw by pointing out that Paul’s letter to the Church of Rome describes a large number of Christians.”

        The hell it does. Jones article even give you the Greek:
        “ all those who are in Rome, beloved of God “ (Romas 1:7).

        That say absolutely nothing about the number of people in Rome (except it’s a positive number equal or greater than 2) and definitely does not say that it is a large number of people. Furthermore, he is using the Bible to prove a Bible claim. That is again circular reasoning. It’s like using Harry Potter to prove HHarry Potter.
        ****
        >”However, I, nor does he find any circular reasoning. In fact, the peer-reviewers themselves seem to never have caught any circular reasoning,”

        Well maybe you are not trained in this then. I gave you the quote where Jones does it. Here it is again:

        “If there were not enough Christians in Neronian Rome to be a distinctive group, and the term Christianus (Chrestianus) had not yet come into common use by this time, a last question must be: how was Tacitus misled into identifying Nero’s victims as Chrestiani?”

        We can answer his question stated above with.
        “ *Because the passage was not written by Tacitus and/or altered at a later stage* ”.

        That explains the discrepancy. Only if we assume that the passage was written by Tacitus and not altered do we have a problem with what it says and the fact that we expect a very low number of Christians in Rome in 64 CE.

        Shaw points out, that based on external factors (such as the fact that the word Christians were not used early in Christian history) we do not expect it to be a large number of Christians in Rome. Thus, there is something dodgy with the Tacitus passage.

        Jones counters with. If there wasn’t many Christians in Rome, then why does Tacitus use the name Christians. Id est, he uses the passage itself as an argument that it is correct in its description of Christians. His argumentation is basically:

        (P1) “Tacitus writes Chrestianus in that passage”.
        (P2) “If there were not enough Chrestianus then why would Tacitus write Chrestianus”
        (C), “There must have been enough Chrestianus around for Tacitus to write Chrestianus”.

        That is circular reasoning because the premise (P1) comes from the conclusion (C). If the premise is true then the argument is true (because it is basically a tautology), but it is no proof at all that the argument in fact is true. It doesn’t establish that:

        “Tacitus did in fact write that passage” or that

        “Tacitus had correct information when he wrote that passage.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning

        So yes, I would have rejected that article if I saw it in peer-review. It PROVABLY contains circular reasoning.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        Celsus (your point 4)

        >”I read the entire first book of Origen’s Contra Celsus, and found that you’re full of it. You try to argue that the Jesus entity of Selcus is entirely distinct from the Jesus discussed in the Bible, and I found this was nonsensical.”

        I doubt it but let’s see.
        ___________________
        >“I have found Celsus affirms all the following about Jesus;

        (*) That is not true. He doesn’t “affirm” anything in regards to this. He is taking Christian claims about Jesus and is explaining them as nothing special or new; or criticising the claims as illogical or unsupported. If I quote from the stories of Robin Hood I’m affirming them as true?
        _____________________
        >“-proclaimed himself God”

        (*) He states that there was a person proclaiming himself a god or divine. Celsus is addressing the claims about Jesus being a god as given in the Bible.

        “How should we deem him to be a God, who not only in other respects, as was currently reported, performed none of his promises, but who also, after we had convicted him, and condemned him as. deserving of punishment, was found attempting to conceal himself, and endeavouring to escape in a most disgraceful manner, and who was betrayed by those whom he called disciples?”
        ______________

        >“-came from a Jewish village born of a Jewish mother”

        (*) You are omitting that Celsus writes that the person he can find was the bastard son of a Roman soldier which contradicts the Bible. You are omitting that Jesus mother didn’t have a husband and worked as a spinster, in contrary to the Bible.
        ________________
        >“-went to Egypt as recorded by Matthew.”

        (*) Nope he sold himself into servitude as an adult and didn’t flee as a child with his parents. This contradicts the Bible.
        _______________
        >“-performed miracles and marvels albeit by sorcery rather than God’s power”

        (*) Celsus is rather clear here. He is stating that any claim of such miracles is an everyday occurrence and not proof of anything. He isn’t affirming anything here, he is crittesisning the Christian stories. I quote him:

        “Well, let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves, from which many fragments remained over, or those other stories of a marvelous nature were actually wrought by you. These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers, who profess to do more wonderful things, and to the feats performed by those who have been taught by Egyptians, who in the middle of the market-place, in return for a few obols, will impart the knowledge of their most venerated arts, and will expel demons from men, and dispel diseases, and invoke the souls of heroes, and exhibit expensive banquets, and tables, and dishes, and dainties having no real existence, and who will put in motion, as if alive, what are not really living animals, but which have only the appearance of life. Since, then, these persons can perform such feats, shall we of necessity conclude that they are ‘sons of God,’ or must we admit that they are the proceedings of wicked men under the influence of an evil spirit? .
        _______________
        >”-was an itinerant teacher and taught doctrines”

        (*) That is not stated by Celsus. Rather Celsus is constantly questioning how this person the Christians talk about could be such teacher when his (supposed) disciples act the way they do. For a quote, I rather take another one of Celsus which shows just how unimpressed he is by the Christian stories.

        “The teacher of Christianity acts like a person who promises to restore patients to bodily health, but who prevents them from consulting skilled physicians, by whom his ignorance would be exposed.”
        _______________________________
        >”-had several disciples, including those of the occupation of tax-collectors.”

        (*) No, he is stating that the stories about him say this. Then he criticise it by pointing out internal contradictions. For example:

        “In the next place, those who were his associates while alive, and who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with him, nor for him, nor were even induced to regard punishment with contempt, but denied even that they were his disciples, whereas now ye die along with him.”
        ___________________
        -the baptism of Jesus

        Nonsense. The text from Celsus is questioning the whole story. I quote it:

        “beside John, you say that what had the appearance of a bird from the air alighted upon you. What credible witness beheld this appearance? or who heard a voice from heaven declaring you to be the Son of God? What proof is there of it, save your own assertion, and the statement of another of those individuals who have been punished along with you?”
        __________________________
        >”-suffered torture and was executed”

        Nope, Celsus is criticising the Christian doctrine claiming this but he does not say that this actually happened to Jesus – he doesn’t believe it and questions it. I quote him:

        “You mock and revile the statues of our gods; but if you had reviled Bacchus or Hercules in person, you would not perhaps have done so with impunity. But those who crucified your God when present among men, suffered nothing for it, either at the time or during the whole of their lives. And what new thing has there happened since then to make us believe that he was not an impostor, but the Son of God? And forsooth, he who sent his Son with certain instructions for mankind, allowed him to be thus cruelly treated, and his instructions to perish with him, without ever during all this long time showing the slightest concern. What father was ever so inhuman? Perhaps, indeed, you may say that he suffered so much, because it was his wish to bear what came to him. But it is open to those whom you maliciously revile, to adopt the same language, and say that they wish to be reviled, and therefore they bear it with patience; for it is best to deal equally with both sides,–although these (gods) severely punish the scorner, so that he must either flee and hide himself, or be taken and perish”

        **********

        In short all your claims stated above here are provably false.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        6) Pliny.
        >” Indeed, it seems that in the entire history of Roman elitists persecuting smaller groups, they NEVER refer back to the procedures of their predecessors.”

        Exactly! If you have a SMALL insignificant number of Christians, there would be no case-law to base on. But if you have 5,000 Christians prosecuted in a short time and these cases were linked to the burning of Rome, then there would be tons of references in regards to it. You shot yourself in the foot with your own argument.

      • In this response, for the first time I can
        acknowledge that you provide an actual orderly response. Indeed, your previous responses were frenzied and hardly in control, but since you divided your response into six parts this time, it’s a little easier to deal with this. I find after each response, the strength of your arguments take a mini-collapse as I continue collecting more data (indeed, I’ve never met someone so conspiratorial in my life as of yet to argue against the authenticity of Annals 15.44 — a known last resort for mythicists who can’t find other ways to disparage Tacitus, also funny is that every single authority you cite would rebuke you for criticizing the authenticity of this passage). Here, the sequence of my response will go in the following manner;

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper
        2. Population
        3. Evidence for/against interpolation
        4. Eusebius
        5. Selcus

        But right before I start, I have to note this point again. Every single Roman historian in the world disagrees with you, and thus, I continued to ask what it is exactly that the academy and all its brilliant minds haven’t taken into account that a laymen like yourself has. Initially, you replied “population”, but I showed in my previous response that this has already been taken into account by Brent Shaw’s paper. Now, you have in fact buttressed this point of mine, admitting yourself:

        “It turns out I was not the only one using this approach to calculate the growth of the Christian population in Rome in the first 3 centuries. Professor Rodney William Stark did it back in 1996 in the book” The rise of Christianity”.”

        Indeed, by your own discovery, your approach offers nothing new. So, again, what is it that you have taken into account that the academy hasn’t?

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper

        Here, we see you throw a slew of accusations (all of which will be subsequently shown to fall apart) against Jones’ paper, published into the journal New Testament Studies which is operated by Cambridge University. As we’ve seen, all the renowned academics (the editors of the journal and Larry Hurtado) have taken into great value the paper, yet you wouldn’t even let it pass peer-review, which I think all too fantastically demonstrates why you, who hasn’t any credentials whatsoever in history are the mythicist, and why all the renowned academics … aren’t. Even Maurice Casey, a renowned academic in the field and an atheist himself has said this on this issue;

        “This view [that Jesus didn’t exist] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. …. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.”

        Anyhow, let’s get into this. In the midst of inaccurately accusing Jones of circular reasoning, you say I am not “trained” in this, LOL. That’s funny, coming from the person who thinks every person who is trained in the field is … wrong … and you, the conspiracy theorist, are the one who is actually right. Unlike yourself, I have actually published in the field of ancient history (even though I don’t have any degrees in it), meaning that you’re literally the only person in this discussion out of all the names that have come up to be totally unqualified.

        Now, let’s find out again how Jones used circular reasoning. You formulate his argument like this;

        “(P1) “Tacitus writes Chrestianus in that passage”.
        (P2) “If there were not enough Chrestianus then why would Tacitus write Chrestianus”
        (C), “There must have been enough Chrestianus around for Tacitus to write Chrestianus”.”

        There are some errors here. Firstly, the passage says ‘Chrestianos’, not ‘Chrestianus’, which is Latin for ‘Chrestians/Christians’. Secondly, the entire argument is misrepresented, this is what Jones actually says;

        P1: If the followers of Jesus’ in Nero’s time weren’t yet called ‘Christians’, Tacitus wouldn’t call them Christians
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, the followers of Jesus in Nero’s time were called Christians

        That settles whether or not Jones is guilty of circular reasoning. Indeed, these are Jones’ precise words:

        If there were not enough Christians in Neronian Rome to be a distinctive group, and the term Christianus (Chrestianus) had not yet come into common use by this time, a last question must be: how was Tacitus misled into identifying Nero’s victims as Chrestiani?”

        This is a valid point. If Christians weren’t being called ‘Christians/Chrestians’ at the time, then why would Tacitus identify them as such? You go on to incorrectly say the designation “Christian” wasn’t around in the time of Nero. It was of course (as we will see Jones went on to demonstrate), and even Shaw himself, before he was corrected by Jones, only tried to maintain that it wasn’t certain that the designation ‘Christian’ wasn’t around in Nero’s time, conceding of course it probably was;

        Writing, perhaps, as late as the 90s, it is difficult to control the precise mise-enscène. Even if the students of Jesus began to call themselves Christianoi at some point in the 40s and 50s in an eastern city of the Empire, it is difficult to know what sort of general purchase this naming had in the high social and political ranks with which we are concerned. And even if the contemporaneity of the reference could be guaranteed, which it cannot, the use of the term appears to be highly localized and internal to the community itself. (pg. 13)

        Jones later demonstrates Book of Acts simply documents the term, and of course we know that Acts is, at the very least, extraordinarily historically familiar with what was taking place in the 50’s and 60’s to a degree where it has been considered as much of an ancient historiography as the writings of the Thucydides. So there’s hardly any debate there, Shaw, acknowledging this well-proven fact, tries to argue that the term ‘Christian’ was only internalized to the local Christian community and so was not known by politicians including the emperor during Nero’s time. In response, Jones utterly dismantles the claim that ‘Christian’ was an internalized local term by showing it was actually an outer-designation applied to believers in Jesus by non-Christians;

        Luke is talking about more than a term ‘internal to the community itself’: the word
        χρηματίσαι should rather mean ‘were called’ (by others), a sense χρηματίζω
        often has in inscriptions and papyri: in that sense it corresponds closely to
        Tacitus’ uulgus appellabat. The form of the word Χριστιανός, a Greek stem
        with a Latin suffix, might also buttress Luke’s assertion. Among the several meanings
        of the suffix -ianus is that of a follower of a particular leader, often in a hostile
        context. An example close in time and space is provided by the senatus consultum
        de Gnaeo Pisone. Here it is alleged that Piso won over the Syrian legions by paying
        them donatives from the imperial purse, ‘after doing which he was pleased that
        some of the soldiers were called Pisoniani, others Caesariani’ (quo facto milites
        alios Pisonianios, alios Caesarianos dici laetatus sit). Syrian Antioch was not
        just ‘an eastern city of the Empire’, but one of its largest cities; it was also a polyglot
        community with a large presence of Roman soldiers; being responsible for
        maintaining order, these might come into frequent contact with followers of
        Jesus. Such a place could readily give rise to a linguistic hybrid like
        Χριστιανός. It can certainly be conceded that Luke-Acts was composed in
        the later first century, whether or not by someone who was a companion of
        Paul in his later voyages. But the ‘difficulty’ of characterising and dating the
        author is not a reason to suppose him ill-informed about the circumstances of
        early Christianity: other arguments have to be adduced if his testimony is to be
        impugned.

        That settles that, contrary to Shaw, ‘Christian’ actually originated as an outer-designation and hence could have been known outside of the Christian community.

        Again, Romans 1:8 corroborates the claim of Tacitus that there were a sufficient number of Christians to get persecuted as Jones argues. In your attempted response response to Jones however, you flat out misrepresent his argument:

        “The hell it does. Jones article even give you the Greek:
        “ all those who are in Rome, beloved of God “ (Romas 1:7).
        That say absolutely nothing about the number of people in Rome (except it’s a positive number equal or greater than 2) and definitely does not say that it is a large number of people”

        This is either a result of simply misreading Jones, or deliberately lying. I don’t think you’re consciously lying when typing your comments, so I’ll simply presume you misread the academic. This is what Jones actually said;

        This is to discount a letter of Paul that is usually considered ‘the standard against which the authenticity of other epistles attributed to Paul is measured’, the Epistle to the Romans. After his address to ‘all those who are in Rome, beloved of God’ (πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς Θεοῦ, Rom .), Paul begins his letter, ‘First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ about all of you that your faith is announced in the whole world’ (πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ Θεῷ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ, Rom .). Even if Paul does not use the word ‘Christian’, this letter is hardly reconcilable
        with the view that followers of Jesus of Nazareth were not a ‘distinctive group’
        in Rome of the sixties.

        The phrase “all those who are in Rome, beloved of God” isn’t the one that establishes that there were a sufficient number of Christians in Rome, it’s the subsequent phrase in Paul’s letter “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ about all of you that your faith is announced in the whole world.” Now, this phrase does in fact suggest a sufficient number of Christians (if not an enormous multitude) in Rome at the time so that they could proclaim their faith to the “whole world”, more than enough to be recognized as a distinct group as Jones argues.

        Jones corrected Shaw on the term ‘Christian’ as recognized by scholars. I think it would only be an appeal to the imagination to think Shaw could find a way around this, the term ‘Christian’ was absolutely not an internalized term in the Christian community. In conclusion, Jones was right about everything. I discovered yesterday that Christopher Jones is a Professor of Classics at Harvard University, so please, come up with something better than such a frivolously weak response before trying to impugn the veracity of one of the world’s top classicists. Shaw was flat out picked apart by one of the world’s top historians in his challenge to the historicity of the Neronian persection and martyrdom of Paul and Peter. Both scholars, by the way, agree that the passage is authentic.

        2. Population

        As we’ve seen earlier, Paul’s epistle to the Romans specifically implies the existence of a sufficient number of believers in the region for Nero to be able to persecute them. You claim that the majority of churches were in the eastern Roman Empire, thereby neglecting the fact that the very largest church of the early Christians was situated in Rome itself! According to Tertullian, the largest number of believers in the early days of Christianity were located in Rome than any other location. Furthermore, out of all Paul’s epistles, the LONGEST one was directed to the Romans, and as we’ve seen, it implies a large number of Christians located there.

        I feel as though you’re misrepresenting of Rodney Stark in your comment. Indeed, what there is a ‘consensus’ about is not the specific population of Christians at all from Stark’s work. The consensus that the work of Stark established was that you don’t need a vast rate of mass conversions for the Christian population to be ~10-20% of the entire empire by 300 AD, because at a steady growth rate of 2-4% per year that can be achieved. That’s all, and to claim a consensus of something like “10-15k Christians by 64” would simply be dishonest, if not outright lying from Stark’s work. Stark’s work doesn’t support you at all, all it proves is that you don’t need instantaneous mass conversion to equal the growth rate of early Christianity.

        On that note, I can still outright dismiss your population calculation since it is complete speculation. As I explained earlier, you could have had a literal explosion of early Christian growth in the 1st century, which then slows down in the later centuries by a considerable amount. We must remember that the first century was the time of Jesus’ ministry, His disciples, Paul, the writing of the New Testament and more. So, there could have easily been 50,000 Christians (assuming only ~1600 converts on average annually since Jesus’ crucifixion) by 64, and then the growth rate slows down considerably so that 50,000 reaches 8,000,000 by 300. All of this is absolutely conceivable, and this proves specifically that anyone claiming to have a population calculator for the Christian population in any ancient period of time, especially the Anti-Nicene period, is literally out of their minds. Our understanding of the number of Christians during Nero’s time must rest on other factors, such as Paul’s letters and Annals 15.44 itself. Your population calculator is a pseudohistorical method and there’s no evidence for the reliability of its applicationl (especially since it assumes a linear growth rate over a period of 300 years, which is ridiculous).

        3. Evidence for/against interpolation

        This is where things become fabulously easy. You claim that it has been “proven” that ‘Chrestos’ and ‘Chrestianos’ were used before Christianity, despite failing to provide a shred of evidence for the claim. In the entire 1st and 2nd century, the term ‘Chrestianos’ and ‘Christianos’ was never applied to anything besides the followers of Jesus, and the term Chrestus/Christus was never applied to anyone or anything besides Jesus himself, which effectively refutes the idea that these terms are actually refering to some other non-existent entity at the time. And not only that, but Tacitus says that the groups of ‘Chrestianos’ was founded by ‘Christus’ who was executed by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius — to claim that this could refer to anything else is a flat out misunderstanding.
        So, what is our evidence now regarding authenticity? The evidence is quite overwhelming. Since you were unable to defend your position with your previous arguments, you try a new one;

        “No, it isn’t. It’s the only copy of that part of Tacitus annals sure, but It’s not complete as the time-period 29CE to 31 CE is curiously missing. Indicating that the text has already been tampered with.”

        The problem here is that this claim by you … simply doesn’t make sense. Seriously, I can’t make out the reasoning here that you’re using to conclude the passage has been tampered with. I don’t think what you said is grammatically valid at all, so you’re going to have to make this argument a lot more clear for it to make any sense to me. However, you, not yet satisfied with trying to disprove me, go on to say regarding Annals 15.44 reading just like Tacitus always reads;

        “Not true. This has been remarked upon as early as Rev. Robert Taylor,
        [It] “bears a character of exaggeration, and trenches on the laws of rational probability, which the writings of Tacitus are rarely found to do.””

        Indeed, after researching who this Robert Taylor is, I found out he was indeed quite early, perhaps something you should’ve made a bit more clear. Taylor was an early 19th century fringe scholar and, as far as I’m concerned, has zero qualifications in classics, Roman history, or any history in general. That makes your citation worthless, and proves one very important thing — precisely that mythicists must look into the deep recesses academia in order to find the smallest, tiniest sentence to support their gibberish, even though it’s been outdated literally before the automobile was around. If what Taylor said had any validity at all, you would be able to provide a much more valid citation from an actual Roman historian. So the argument stands, Annals 15.44 is as polished as Tacitus always writes.

        However, thinking you’ve gotten me in a real killer refutation this time, you say;

        “Two more falsehoods from you. There is no contemporary writing about Jesus crucifixion, except a later passage in Josephus which is by a consensus of historians considered a fake.
        There are no contemporary historians mentioning that Nero persecuted Christians. Even Josephus who was in Rome in 64CE say nothing of it. Neither does Seneca, Suetonius or Pliny the Elder. This is a very dishonest claim on your part. (and as usual not backed up with references).”

        Something you appear not to understand about the ancient historical record is … it’s very small. Most events of ancient history, regardless of how grand they are, have zero recordings in their contemporary history. Pythagoras, Arminius, Hannibal, all three of these men were enormous figures of their time periods, and have not one single contemporary mention. Indeed, most ancient events we even know about at all are only recorded in a single account, and a single account is all that is needed in an ancient history, most of the time, to establish something happened in the past. This is why Roman historians all agree Nero persecuted Christians — it’s mentioned by Tacitus, a good historian, which means it has just about as much attestation as most other ancient events. So, not only do we have enough attestation for the Neronian persecution and need no others, we can also discard your claim as an argument from silence fallacy.

        So, it seems as if my point went over your head which proves the obvious authenticity of the passage. No one was debating whether or not Jesus was crucified during the time of Tacitus and thereafter. In other words, no one would have forged Annals 15.44 since that would have been useless. If someone was going to interpolate Tacitus, the interpolation would look like what we see in the testimonium flavium — there, the Christian took their sweet time to say that Jesus was the Messiah, that He rose from the dead, and a bunch of other fantastical things. That’s what an interpolation would look like. None of that is in Tacitus. In other words, Annals 15.44 would be useless to forge. So, since all your arguments for forgery and against authenticity have been yet again debunked, we can re-summarize our arguments;

        1) The passage is contained in our only manuscript and there’s no reason to think it was never there
        2) The passage reads just like Tacitus always reads
        3) There would have been no function in forging the passage since we have no evidence that its contents were ever debated by Christians or non-Christians
        4) The passage is overwhelmingly insulting against Christians, making it inconceivable for a Christian to write it

        Moving on, we can continue to add more reasons that I have recently discovered.

        5) If Annals 15.44 is an interpolation, that would literally make it the longest interpolation in ancient history. Not a single other interpolation in ancient history is remotely as long, which would means your claim would require an anomaly.
        6) Furthermore, as I’ve noted earlier, when Tertullian talks about the Neronian persecution, he tells the Romans to “Consult your histories”. So, what is the only Roman source antecedent to Tertullian to mention Nero’s persecution of Christians? Tacitus. Therefore, Tertullian was almost certainly referring to Tacitus

        4. Eusebius

        Now that we’ve settled that, I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt (and you agree) that Eusebius mentions the Neronian persecution when citing Tertullian (and also Melito of Sardis). Realizing that you were wrong about whether or not Eusebius mentions Nero’s persecution of the Christians, you try to shift the debate to Eusebius source, as if I said Tertullian’s account is the evidence for the Neronian persecution. This cannot be considered the same question as we were previously discussing. Eusebius does in fact mention Nero’s persecution of Christians, and so “Eusebius doesn’t mention Nero’s persecution of the Christians” cannot be maintained. I’m not remotely interested in discussing the historicity of Tertullian’s passage since that isn’t relevant to the arguments, rather it’s your attempt to come back from making a flat out error on Eusebiu (indeed Tertullian could have invented every word in that passage and Eusebius would still have mentioned Nero’s persecution of the Christians). Nevertheless I’ll say a few words on Tertullian to satisfy you.

        You attempted to point me to a source that should make us rethink whether or not Tertullian’s account is fact. I already made quick work of the objection. Your argument can be summarized as follows;

        P1: Tertullian makes a claim about Tiberius’ relation with the Christians, and subsequently makes a claim about Nero’s relation to the Christians
        P2: Tertullian’s words on Tiberius are not correct
        C: Therefore, Tertullian’s words on Nero are not correct

        This is a non-sequitur argument, and so it fails, since the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. I guess this is the part where you say “the whole passage is dodgy!” and argue Eusebius forged it, LOL.

        Before I move on to debunking your claims on Celsus, I’ll quickly deal with Pliny, since your words are so profoundly incoherent that I can quickly dispatch it:

        “Exactly! If you have a SMALL insignificant number of Christians, there would be no case-law to base on. But if you have 5,000 Christians prosecuted in a short time and these cases were linked to the burning of Rome, then there would be tons of references in regards to it. You shot yourself in the foot with your own argument.”

        Strawman Fallacy, my point simply proved that Romans didn’t refer to the procedures of their predecessors in their prosecutions. When Domitian persecuted Christians, he didnt’ refer to the procedures of Nero. Trajan didn’t refer back to Domitian. Hardian didn’t refer back to Trajan. Aurelius didn’t refer back to Hadrian. Hence, your claim that “Pliny would have referred back to the Neronian persecution” is provably false. You try to summon up a different argument though … which is irrelevant to Pliny. Since you were wrong about Pliny, you’re new argument is “there should be tons of references to the Neronian persecution should it have happened”. This is conjecture and also provably false, see above where I demonstrated most events of ancient history, no matter how major, only have one reference to them at all.

        5. Celsus

        Your entire comment is a complete misrepresentation of the works of Origen and the views of Selcus. At this point, I’ve also read the second, third, and fourth books of Celsus and I plan to read the fifth today. Reading these, I can increase the list of facts Celsus affirms abot Jesus, but what I’ve recounted earlier is enough;

        -proclaimed himself God
        -came from a Jewish village born of a Jewish mother
        -went to Egypt as recorded by Matthew
        -performed miracles and marvels albeit by sorcery rather than God’s power
        -was an itinerant teacher and taught doctrines
        -had several disciples, including those of the occupation of tax-collectors
        -the baptism of Jesus
        -suffered torture and was executed

        Your response to every single point can be enumerated in the first thing you said on this issue;

        “That is not true. He doesn’t “affirm” anything in regards to this. He is taking Christian claims about Jesus and is explaining them as nothing special or new; or criticising the claims as illogical or unsupported. If I quote from the stories of Robin Hood I’m affirming them as true?”

        This is your argument — Celsus isn’t really affirming any of this, he’s just mentioning the Christian claims and then criticizing them. This is flat out false, as anyone who has read Contra Celsum knows. Every single one of the points I noted that Celsus affirms is in actual fact what he affirms — if I were simply listing everything that Celsus discusses on Christianity, my list would be pages longer. However, my process only noted what Celsus really believed about Jesus. The most important thing to note is that Celsus, beyond a reasonable doubt, thought Jesus existed. He made specific claims about Jesus. He tried to argue that because Jesus had a tax-collector for a disciple, that ought to make us ashamed of the person of Jesus and not follow his teachings. Celsus constantly accuses Jesus of deceiving his followers by claiming to be God among other things. Celsus literally thought Jesus was doing something supernatural as I noted, but not through God’s divinity of course, Celsus thought it was through sorcerer and his source was actually demonic forces rather than God. And indeed, this can be extraordinarily reflected and proven by simply … reading Origen’s rebuttal. Origen wrote EIGHT BOOKS refuting the arguments of Celsus (and I must say I am impressed), and NEVER comes across the claim that Jesus didn’t exist! If Origen was going to respond to ANYTHING Celsus said, surely it would be this heresy, the heresy among heresies that Origen would discuss and work vigorously to refute. But of course, Origen and Celsus both know certain facts about Jesus — Origen thought Jesus was the Son of God, and Celsus thought that Jesus was an evil magician who deceived his disciples, was born through an adulteress marriage from a Jew rather than from virginity, he thought Jesus lied about claiming to be God, he does in fact affirm that he travelled to Egypt as Matthew records (you claimed he doesn’t do such a thing, which is provably false, see Contra Celsum 1.38 where Celsus tries to use Matthew’s visit of Jesus into Egypt to explain where he got his sorcery from), etc, etc, etc.

        At this point, I’m convinced you’re being deceptive to some extent. For example, when I listed the fact that Celsus believed Jesus was born in a Jewish village to a Jewish mother, you responded:

        “You are omitting that Celsus writes that the person he can find was the bastard son of a Roman soldier which contradicts the Bible. You are omitting that Jesus mother didn’t have a husband and worked as a spinster, in contrary to the Bible.”

        You flat out don’t even challenge the fact. In fact, you literally confirm what I say that Celsus notes regarding Jesus, that he was born by a Jewish mother in a Jewish village, and then claim I “omitted” something else, which is flat out false. Nothing was omitted, since I’m simply listing what Celsus believed about the historical Jesus, not how he tried to explain away His miracles. I could spend time further debunking this point, but it’s unnecessary, since it’s provable Celsus believed Jesus was real and it would be pushing credulity to claim otherwise. Indeed, you’ve provided not a scratch of evidence for Celsus being a mythicist, and I’ve shown he wasn’t anyways.

        But one thing I want to note is that you being wrong on Celsus is now irrelevant, since I’ve also demonstrated at this point that Eusebius wasn’t trying to “prove Jesus existed” … since there was no one that needed convincing back then. You put forth that Celsus was a mythicist, although you later retracted this into simply claiming that although Celsus did believe Jesus existed (admitting you were wrong), he didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God or did His miracles by means of God’s power. That, of course, is correct, Celsus was like all his fellow pagans who simply denied what Christians said about Jesus and defended their view of his non-divinity.

        Anyhow, I don’t see how you could possibly come back from that. You didn’t say anything about Paul, leading me to believe one of two things. Either my evidence was so great that now even you have achieved common understanding on this issue of Paul, or you still don’t believe. If you continue to deny Paul, I think my previous comments are suffice;

        Here, your comment simply enters the clunker. When I read what you said about Clement of Rome, thank God I wasn’t sitting on a chair, because I would have simply fell out of it in shock. Before I go to Clement, I’ll go back to Paul’s letters which prove Paul existed. In fact, I don’t even need to claim Paul wrote a single one of them to show they prove Paul existed, which therefore frees me of your accusation of circular reasoning.
        Indeed, in every single one of Paul’s undisputed letters, they begin with something like “Paul an apostle from Jesus”. In other words, EVERY SINGLE one of the undisputed letters attests to the existence of a man named Paul. Indeed, even if I were to say not a single one of them were written by Paul, they ALL still attest to his existence by outright quoting him, and we know these letters existed during his lifetime (because they are quoted in the first century by Clement himself) and thus they are not only ridiculously early, but I have at least 7 undisputed contemporary accounts of Paul since they were written by someone during Paul’s lifetime (and for some reason attributed to him, on your view). On top of that, Clement writes of Paul, Clement who was another one of Paul’s contemporaries, probably knew him and wrote soon after his martyrdom to lament over his death. Finally, we have the author of Luke-Acts who mentions Paul, who is ANOTHER(!) one of Paul’s contemporaries and knew Paul and in fact had a voyage with him (hard to have a voyage with someone who didn’t exist).
        And on top of all that, please explain this: if it is the case that Paul didn’t exist… WHY would he be invented? LOL. Did some bishop in the 40’s suddenly decide “hey guys, why don’t we invent some random Christian leader and attribute a bunch of letters to him? wouldnt that be fun?” It quite literally makes no sense. So, not only do we have a ton of contemporaries of Paul writing about Paul, but the mere invention of Paul is inexplicable on historical grounds. I guess that blows you out of the water as well as another one of your conspiracy theories. Seriously, PAUL didn’t exist? Thank God that every Pauline scholar in the world doesn’t even entertain such nonsensical notions.
        Anyways, you say Clement’s mentioning of Paul is “like saying that Little John is evidence for Robin Hood.” What a bunch of clunker. Clement, a contemporary of Paul who actually existed, mentions a Church leader he knew named Paul. This is NOT analogous in the slightest to your Robin Hood tale, this is blatantly an ancient bishop telling us about the death of one of his contemporaries, this is a flat out historical record. How on Earth did Clement lament over Paul’s death if there was no Paul? This conspiracy theory is really just pushing the extent of reason and logic. I’ve shown overwhelming evidence here to establish Paul, and the mere fact that you question something like this readily explains why you’re a mythicist.

        I don’t see how you can come back from this. I guess you’ll just have to admit you’re wrong.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (4)
        >”Now that we’ve settled that, I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt (and you agree) that Eusebius mentions the Neronian persecution when citing Tertullian (and also Melito of Sardis).”

        Here you again show just how dishonest you are. I have never agreed to that the Eusebius is confirming the persecution of Christians for the conflagration of Rome as is given in the disputed passage of Tacitus. Neither does any historians because the first Christian source to ever link Christians to the burning of Rome and mention that they were persecuted for that was Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century. Eusebius never mentions it and neither does Tertullian despite him quoting Tacitus in his writings. Let me quote what Tertullian say in regards to Tacitus.

        “FOR you, as certain others have done, have dreamed that our God is an ass’s head. Cornelius Tacitus introduced this suspicion. For in the fifth book of his “Histories,” having begun his account of the Jewish war with the origin of the nation itself, having also drawn what conclusions he wished respecting both the origin and the name and the religion of the Jewish nation, he relates that, when the Jews had been liberated, or as he thought banished, from Aegypt, and were tortured by thirst in the deserts of Arabia, where water is exceedingly scarce, they availed themselves of wild asses to guide them to a spring, thinking that the animals would most likely be seeking water after feeding, and he states that for this service they consecrated as a deity the head of a similar animal. And thence, I take it, it was presumed that we, too, being nearly allied to the Jewish religion, were devotees of the same effigy. But yet this same Cornelius Tacitus, really a most loquacious man in falsehoods, relates in the same history that Cnaeus Pompeius, after his capture of Jerusalem and consequent entrance into the Temple for the purpose of investigating the secret mysteries of the Jewish religion, found there no image.” (“THE APOLOGY OF TERTULLIAN FOR THE CHRISTIANS”, CHAPTER XVI.)

        So according to Tertullian (which is the source of the quote given by Eusebius) Tacitus never mentions the Christian religion -doesn’t even know anything about what kind of god is worshipped, crucifixion etc., DOES NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN JEW AND CHRISTIAN; nor does Tacitus mention any persecution of Christians. Apparently Tacitus is a “loquacious man in falsehoods” according to Tertullian.

        *Melito of Sardis* does not confirm any persecution by Nero at all, that is yet another falsehood from you. What is stated is an accusation that Christianity was slandered. However in the very same chapter in Eusebius (Book 4, Chapter 26 verse 4 and 5), just above what you took that quote it also states that for the first time that:
        Clement of Alexandria states that Christians were persecuted and that this had not happened before. This place this very first report of persecution from this source well into the 2nd century.

        So to address your false claim in regards to what I have stated here. I do not acknowledge that Eusebius has verified the Neronian persecution of Christians as outlined in the disputed passage of Tacitus. In fact these source point to it not having happened.
        *****
        >”Eusebius does in fact mention Nero’s persecution of Christians, and so “Eusebius doesn’t mention Nero’s persecution of the Christians” cannot be maintained

        Now you are dishonestly quote-mining: The full quote is:

        “*he [Eusebius] never mentions the persecution of Christians under Nero as scapegoats for the Fire of Rome* ”

        You are omitting the very important last part here – he one with details. Tacitus states that Nero laid the blame for the fire on Christians and then dealt with them. Eusebius does not say this. Eusebius is thus NOT talking about what is in the Tacitus passage.
        *****
        >”Strawman Fallacy, my point simply proved that Romans didn’t ”

        Ha, ha, ha!!! A straw-man fallacy is based on a misquotation and misrepresentation of what the opponent is stating and then attacking that wrong position. This is not thee case here because I gave the full quote from you (as any reader of the posts can see). I give an extended quote of it again. this is what YOU wrote:

        ” When Aurelius persecuted Christians, he didn’t refer back to the procedures of Hadrian. Indeed, it seems that in the entire history of Roman elitists persecuting smaller groups, they NEVER refer back to the procedures of their predecessors. In other words, it would be entirely special pleading to say that Pliny should have done so, even though no one else did.”

        So with this you are stating that if the group was small we would not expect to see references to them in court cases and that it would be a “special pleading [sic. As you use the term wrongly] to say that Pliny should have done so”. Id est, you are stating that if the group prosecuted was small you would not expect to see references by Roman Elitists to them. As Pliny doesn’t know anything about Christians prior to his encounter with them in ~110 CE it follows that this group is small and insignificant. It does not follow that this was the group singled out by Nero for special persecution with regards to the Fire of Rome. (an action nobody of the historians there reported either). A large number of trials, in regards to a catastrophe that was still in living memory, is something that we would expect any writer of that time to comment on. They comment on the fire but not on any trials. We can take Suetonius as an example:

        Here Suetonius state that Nero set the fire, describe the effect of it, describe how the people blame Nero and ridicule him. Then he writes:

        ” He [Nero] made no effort, however, to find the authors; in fact, when some of them were reported to the senate by an informer, he forbade their being very severely punished. As he was passing along a public street, the Cynic Isidorus loudly taunted him, “because he was a good singer of the ills of Nauplius, but made ill use of his own goods.” Datus also, an actor of Atellan farces, in a song beginning:

        “Farewell to thee, father; farewell to thee, mother,”

        represented drinking and swimming in pantomime, referring of course to the death of Claudius and Agrippina; and in the final tag,

        “Orcus guides your steps,”

        he indicated the senate by a gesture. Nero contented himself with banishing the actor and the philosopher from the city, either because he was impervious to all insults, or to avoid sharpening men’s wits by showing his vexation.”

        No Christians, no Trials, no persecution; NOTHING that fits with the disputed passage in Tacitus.

        http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/suetonius/12caesars/nero*.html

        *****

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (5) Celsus

        >This is your argument — Celsus isn’t really affirming any of this, he’s just mentioning the Christian claims and then criticizing them. This is flat out false, as anyone who has read Contra Celsum knows. ”

        And with that you prove for all to see that you have no idea about this. “Contra Celsum” is a reply written by Origen to Celsus own book which was called “The True Word”. That latter book is lost but we do know a lot about it because in his reply Origen quotes extensively from Celsus. I can’t be bothered to write a reply to someone that so utterly misrepresents facts as you have shown yourself to do, so I quote the summary in in the wiki and link it and let you and any reader of this post determine if what you wrote above is true.

        “The True Word (or Discourse, Account, Doctrine; Greek: Λόγος Ἀληθής, Logos Alēthēs) is a lost treatise in which the ancient Greek philosopher Celsus addressed many principal points of Early Christianity and refuted or argued against their validity. In The True Word, Celsus attacked Christianity in three ways; by refuting its philosophical claims, by marking it as a phenomenon associated with the uneducated and lower class, and by cautioning his audience that it was a danger to the Roman Empire.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Word

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        In regards to the alteration of the passage and the

        >”Provably altered. As I’ve noted earlier, this ‘alteration’ is a single letter — Chrestianos to Christianos. Both spellings are variants for the exact same words. This is almost too clearly, to me, a scribe simply trying to correct what he saw as a spelling error (which is common),”

        First off. No, they are not variants of the same word. Chrestos, Chrestianos etc. pre-exist Christianity by centuries as already shown and was used to mean something different than Christians. And (as given by the article you yourself cited) not even the followers of Jesus themselves referred to themselves as Christians at this point in time. I gave the reference to the study which proved that the passage had been altered. Erík Zara, Th.D., writes that the most likely person that this this was the margin glosser some centuries after the text we written, not the scribe. Finally even the word you try to link with Jesus (i.e. Christus) doesn’t read that in the manuscript. It’s written “Chrstus”. There is no “i” in the word between “r” and “s”, and there is no place to insert it. It’s the first word on the 7th line from the top.


        ****
        >”it would be completely eccentric to say that changing a letter means that the rest of it is forged, in fact it’s a complete non-sequitur.”

        I have never said that the change of that letter is the ONLY thing wrong with the passage, so stop using straw-man arguments. It is one of many things wrong with the passage – some of which is already covered.
        *****
        >”It’s in our only existing copy of Tacitus, no reason to ever assume it wasn’t there.”

        No, it isn’t. It’s the only copy of that part of Tacitus annals sure, but It’s not complete as the time-period 29CE to 31 CE is curiously missing. Indicating that the text has already been tampered with.
        ****
        >”Annals 15.44 reads just like Tacitus writes literally everywhere else which,…”

        Not true. This has been remarked upon as early as Rev. Robert Taylor,
        [It] “bears a character of exaggeration, and trenches on the laws of rational probability, which the writings of Tacitus are rarely found to do.”
        ****
        >”The only alternative is to think that some Christian mastermind mastered the style of Tacitus over an enormous length of time.”

        Again, a straw-man. As there is only one copy, one person at one point in time can change it. This has happened with many Christian writings including the Bible where we can show interpolations. For instance John 7:53 to 8:11 “ Pericope Adulterae” (which does not exist in the oldest manuscripts, only in manuscripts after the 4th century).

        Interestingly the first person to refer to it was Eusebius….
        *********
        >”insert something in Tacitus that everyone during his time already believed was true, that Pilate crucified Jesus and Nero later persecuted Christianity.”

        Two more falsehoods from you. There is no contemporary writing about Jesus crucifixion, except a later passage in Josephus which is by a consensus of historians considered a fake.
        There are no contemporary historians mentioning that Nero persecuted Christians. Even Josephus who was in Rome in 64CE say nothing of it. Neither does Seneca, Suetonius or Pliny the Elder. This is a very dishonest claim on your part. (and as usual not backed up with references).

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (In regards to Eusebius your point 3)

        >”At this point, we can both agree that I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Eusebius quotes the persecution in Ecclesiastical History 2.25 when he quoted Tertullian.”

        Not at all. We can both agree that Eusebius is referring to Tertullian, we also know from that book that this is a story of Tertullian is not true. As it contains a claim that Tiberius Caesar tried to protect the Christians etc. I give the summary about Tertullian’s passage again:

        “It would no doubt be pleasant if we could believe this story of Tertullian, which he manifestly believed to be true but a story so inherently improbable and inconsistent with what we know of Tiberius, related nearly 170 years after the event, does not commend itself to a historian’s judgement.”

        >” which obviously is irrelevant since that had nothing to do with Tertullian’s words on Nero”

        Nero is in the very next sentence in the same passage! That whole passage is a flight of fancy. From which you quote-mine parts claiming they are true; despite not a single historian of the time, (including those that hated Nero), ever mentioning it in writing.
        ****
        >”you’re obviously trying to shift goalposts now away from whether or not Eusebius mentions the Neronian persecution.”

        You really are a dishonest person aren’t you. I quote my very first post for all to see.

        “Do note that we only have manuscripts of this passage from the 12th century and that none of the early church fathers (including Eusebius) ever referred to it as a proof of Jesus supposed existence.”

        So, Eusebius NEVER quotes this PASSAGE from TACITUS. He never quotes it when he is discussing Christian martyrdom either, nor when he is talking about Jesus as a historical person nor when he is relating stories about Nero. Not once does Eusebius refer to the Tacitus passage. It is as if it never existed at the time he was writing.

        And in regards to Nero persecuting Christians. This is what I wrote:

        *he [Eusebius] never mentions the persecution of Christians under Nero as scapegoats for the Fire of Rome*

        Which is true. Not once does Eusebius mention Christians being persecuted AS A RESULT OF THE FIRE IN ROME. Do you have a problem understanding English? In fact, he doesn’t mention the fire at all. Neither does Tertullian in the passage you refer to. So kindly stop misrepresenting what is written by me.

        (*) The Tacitus passage lay the blame for the fire with the Christians and state that this was the cause for Christian persecution under Nero.

        (*) Eusebius writing (supposedly at a later point in time) has no knowledge about this and neither has Tertullian. None of them know WHY Nero supposedly persecuted Christians despite this being “common knowledge and already in print by one of the foremost historians of his time”.

        To cite my earlier post:

        “You can’t find any references to Nero persecuting Christians for the fire of Rome by any Christians authors until Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century”

        So you are clearly misrepresenting what I write.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (3)
        >”You claim that it has been “proven” that ‘Chrestos’ and ‘Chrestianos’ were used before Christianity, despite failing to provide a shred of evidence for the claim.”

        That is another lie from you. I quote my own post in the thread above which is there for all to see:

        “The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates_Chrestus

        You are clearly a very dishonest person and quite likely an internet-troll.
        ****
        Then you yet again go back to the passage claiming it has to be true because it say all these things that fit with a Christian narrative. That is exactly what you would expect from an interpolation written centuries later.

        If it was original you would expect Christians to have used the passage before the 15th century. especially those Christian authors that cites Tacitus and also want proof for the Christian history and Christian mythos. But none of them do so. That speaks *against* it being a true passage because we have no verification of it.

        Does the passage contain things that contradict other historians of the time?
        Yes it does. Not a single contemporary historian ever mention the persecutions of Christians for the conflagration of Rome. Even Historians we know was in Rome at that time, like Josephus who was in Rome in 64CE. Not a single Christian writer ever say that Nero punished the Christians for the burning of Rome until Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century. Not a single thing in that Tacitus passage which refers to Christianity is verified by any contemporary sources. There is no reference to Jesus being crucified by Pilate except in a passage in Josephus which a consensus of historians acknowledge as being forged – in whole or in part. There are no conformation of the treatment described for the executions of Christians by any contemporary writer despite this being claimed as “new” in the text. AND NOTE, there are no Christians sources reporting on this either, even those that wrote extensively on Christian martyrdom. Why are everyone in the world silent of this except Sulpicius Severus, 400 years later?
        ****
        >”The problem here is that this claim by you [3 years of Tacitus are missing]… simply doesn’t make sense. Seriously, I can’t make out the reasoning here that you’re using to conclude the passage has been tampered with. ”

        It shows very clearly that the text has been tampered with. Large chunks of it has been removed by someone at some point. Thus we cannot state that we know that the text is pristine and that it can be trusted.
        ****
        >”Taylor was an early 19th century fringe scholar and, as far as I’m concerned, has zero qualifications in classics, Roman history, or any history in general…”

        So first off, that is your opinion – not that of historians, right? But it doesn’t matter as the claim I was refuting was your claim that -“Annals 15.44 reads just like Tacitus writes literally everywhere else,…” which clearly is not the case as someone has already remarked on this, which was to be shown.

        But in regards to the Latin it was enough to get John Wilson Ross who compared “Annals” with “History” to think the former being a complete fake.

        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9098/9098-8.txt

        *****
        >”Something you appear not to understand about the ancient historical record is … it’s very small.

        No I know this very well as I’m used to do very long reference studies whenever I publish things about science which also contains history. That is why I’m not impressed with your claims about this source and also about the claims of Christianity in regards to Jesus. There is no external evidence verifying it.
        ****
        >” This is why Roman historians all agree Nero persecuted Christians — ”

        The hell they do. There is not a single contemporary Roman Historian of that time that mentions Nero persecuting Christians for the burning of Rome. Give the name you claim do this.
        ****
        >”If Annals 15.44 is an interpolation, that would literally make it the longest interpolation in ancient history. Not a single other interpolation in ancient history is remotely as long.”

        You have tons of them who are longer. Just look at all the books and epistles which have been rejected as “non-canonical” (read FAKES). Making fake Christian artefacts was rampant in the 13th to 15th century.

        https://ehrmanblog.org/it-has-arrived-forgery-and-counterforgery-in-early-christian-polemics/

      • God help me! I totally forgot about you. Good to see your back my friend, still as avid as trying to deny the account of Tacitus as ever which all scholars still think is genuine and always will.

        “That is another lie from you. I quote my own post in the thread above which is there for all to see:
        “The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.””

        Jesus was not known as “Chrestos”, he was known as “Christos”. The manuscript of Tacitus’ work says ‘Christos’, not ‘Chrestos’, and while it says ‘Chrestians’, a scribe corrected it to ‘Christians’ which was probably what Tacitus originally wrote. Furthermore, the term ‘chrestos’ meaning ‘good’ obviously, despite being irrelevant to Jesus in the first place, is not a noun, and therefore irrelevant for all relevant purposes.

        “Then you yet again go back to the passage claiming it has to be true because it say all these things that fit with a Christian narrative. That is exactly what you would expect from an interpolation written centuries later.”

        Huh? I don’t remember arguing this — I remember clearly arguing that it insults Christians and Christianity in every way and, hence, was not an interpolation since no Christian would have ever wrote something so polemical against Christianity. Obviously, a Christian interpolation looks like this, the interpolated passage in Josephus;

        Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man; if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross;7 those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again, the third day:8 as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

        Just look at all the fantastical things this interpolation says about Jesus! He did wondrous miracles, he was raised from the dead after three days, he was predicted by the ancient prophets, etc, etc, etc. That’s what a real interpolation looks like. It’s not even logical to presume a Christian could have wrote what we find in Annals 15.44 — rather, it makes perfect sense to assume, as scholars currently understand, Tacitus wrote it — a powerful aristocratic pagan who lived in a time where every powerful aristocratic pagan hated the Christians.

        “Does the passage contain things that contradict other historians of the time?
        Yes it does. Not a single contemporary historian ever mention the persecutions of Christians for the conflagration of Rome.”

        That’s not a contradiction, that’s simply saying Tacitus mentions some things that other historians don’t. In other words, this claim is simply an argumentum ex silentio fallacy, and besides, most ancient accounts we know only come from a single historian — and therefore the fact that this is also what we have for Annals 15.44 is irrelevant. In fact, most of what Tacitus tells us in all his works in general is only mentioned by him. By your argument, that would make most of Tacitus an interpolation.

        “There are no conformation of the treatment described for the executions of Christians by any contemporary writer despite this being claimed as “new” in the text. AND NOTE, there are no Christians sources reporting on this either, even those that wrote extensively on Christian martyrdom. Why are everyone in the world silent of this except Sulpicius Severus, 400 years later?”

        I’ve already shown Eusebius of Alexandria, Melito of Sardis and Tertullian all write about Nero’s persecution of the Christians. Eusebius draws his accounts from Melito and Tertullian, and Tertullian (in the 2nd century) in turn got his information from the works of Tacitus. In other words, for your claim to even be possibly, we have to assume Christians interpolated Tacitus between the brief period Tacitus wrote to the time Tertullian got a hold of his work.

        “But in regards to the Latin it was enough to get John Wilson Ross who compared “Annals” with “History” to think the former being a complete fake.
        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9098/9098-8.txt

        Your link doesn’t work, and if I am reading you correctly, you appear to be trying to claim all of Annals is fake now. This is so ridiculous I can simply dismiss it.

        “You have tons of them who are longer. Just look at all the books and epistles which have been rejected as “non-canonical” (read FAKES). Making fake Christian artefacts was rampant in the 13th to 15th century.”

        Again, there are pseudonymous books, but I’m talking about interpolations, not pseudonymous books. The simple truth is that there isn’t a single interpolation within an authors text anywhere in the entire world of ancient history as long as Annals 15.44, which would mean that your claim would require a rather considerable anomaly to be correct.

        As I’ve outlined again and again, this argument is filled with numberless holes. You even go on trying to cite Bart Ehrman to defend one of your claims, a man who thinks the idea of interpolation in Tacitus by the mythicists to be ridiculous (like all other serious scholars). The simply truth is that Tacitus wrote Annals 15.44, which confirms both persecution of Christianity in the 1st century, hatred of Christians by aristocrats like Tacitus, and yet another extra-biblical mention of Jesus by an authoritative ancient historian. That’s simply how life is, thank God for Christianity.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        I’m going to limit myself to correcting the false statements you made. I’m too busy with other things.

        >”Jesus was not known as “Chrestos”, he was known as “Christos”. The manuscript of Tacitus’ work says ‘Christos’, not ‘Chrestos’, ”

        No it doesn’t. It’s written “Chrstus”. There is no “i” in the word between “r” and “s”, and there is no place to insert it. It’s the first word on the 7th line from the top already given in the reference I have provided – which is a photograph of the page in question. Here is another link

        ******
        >” In other words, this claim is simply an argumentum ex silentio fallacy, and besides, most ancient accounts we know only come from a single historian.”

        Another falsehood as I have already given 3. Seneca, Suetonius and Pliny the Elder, to this we can also add, Dio Cassius. Josephus was in Rome at this time and doesn’t mention anything about Christian persecution either. All of these accounts *contradict* the tale in Tacitus. This is not a case of argumentum ex silentio because these authors are telling a DIFFERENT STORY than what is seen in Tacitus – they are thus CONTRADICTING the tale attributed to Tacitus. Example already given
        *****
        >”I’ve already shown Eusebius of Alexandria, Melito of Sardis and Tertullian all write about Nero’s persecution of the Christians.”

        No you haven’t. I have already pointed that out in post above and can’t be bothered to go through this again. A reader of the post will find them in the thread. And the link-

        http://gutenberg.polytechnic.edu.na/9/0/9/9098/9098-8.txt

        -works just fine. If it doesn’t you just have to place it in Google. Voltaire doubted the authenticity of the book too and he isn’t the only one.
        *****
        As already stated. The thing that we can test in the quote in Tacitus does not agree with other authors nor with what the expected number of Christians in that time would be. To Quote Prof Stark whose work is now accepted.

        “Progress must have seemed terribly slow during the first century—the projected total is only 7,530 by 100. There was a greater increase in numbers by the middle of the second century, but still the projection amounts to only slightly more than 40,000 Christians. This projection is in extremely close agreement with Robert L. Wilken’s estimate of “less than fifty thousand Christians” at this time —”an infinitesimal number in a society comprising sixty million” (1984:31). Indeed, according to L. Michael White (1990:110), Christians in Rome still met in private homes at this time…”

        https://www.humanscience.org/docs/Stark (1996) Rise of Christianity 1-2.pdf

        Using his model at starting data we get 2,241 Christians in the whole world by the year 64 CE. That is about 20% of the number I got (for reasons already stated). Since the majority of Christians were not in Rome at that time I agree with Stark that the number of Christians would have been “infinitesimal” in a city of over a million people.

        And this completely contradict the claim in the passage attributed to Tacitus – in fact it shows that it is false.

      • “No it doesn’t. It’s written “Chrstus”. There is no “i” in the word between “r” and “s”, and there is no place to insert it. It’s the first word on the 7th line from the top already given in the reference I have provided – which is a photograph of the page in question. Here is another link”
        This is simply false. For one, you write “Here is another link” followed by no link, something most strange. There is an ‘i’ in between the ‘r’ and ‘s’. Something I need to remind you of is the fact that this is the very first link you ever sent me:
        http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zaratacituschrestianos.pdf
        This is your very own source … and the last thing it says is this;

        For the sake of clarity, I will add that this particular manuscript of Annales does not contain
        the name Chrestus. No evidence of any alteration of the word “Christus” can be found in the
        ultraviolet photograph.

        In other words, your own source simply rebukes your nonsense and affirms that the manuscript has ‘Christus’, as any scholar who can actually read the Latin manuscript knows. Here’s the Latin edition of Annals 15.44 from Tufts University;
        http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0077%3Abook%3D15%3Achapter%3D44
        “Another falsehood as I have already given 3. Seneca, Suetonius and Pliny the Elder, to this we can also add, Dio Cassius. Josephus was in Rome at this time and doesn’t mention anything about Christian persecution either. All of these accounts *contradict* the tale in Tacitus. This is not a case of argumentum ex silentio because these authors are telling a DIFFERENT STORY than what is seen in Tacitus – they are thus CONTRADICTING the tale attributed to Tacitus. Example already given”
        Again, there’s no contradiction. I don’t know how obvious this is or why you think otherwise — what part of Josephus exactly contradicts Annals 15.44? I’m sorry to tell you, but “not mentioning the persecution” is not a contradiction, otherwise Josephus would also contradict virtually everything Tacitus ever wrote. So, please try to answer the question. Where’s the contradiction? Cassius Dio can’t be added, since of course you have no argument to begin with, and secondly, Dio wrote all the way in the 3rd century AD, making him quite irrelevant.
        “No you haven’t. I have already pointed that out in post above and can’t be bothered to go through this again. A reader of the post will find them in the thread. And the link-
        http://gutenberg.polytechnic.edu.na/9/0/9/9098/9098-8.txt
        -works just fine. If it doesn’t you just have to place it in Google. Voltaire doubted the authenticity of the book too and he isn’t the only one.”
        I accessed the link, and quickly noted this;

        TACITUS AND BRACCIOLINI.
        THE ANNALS FORGED IN THE XVth CENTURY.
        by JOHN WILSON ROSS (1818-1887)

        The author has been dead for over a century, making this resource vastly outdated. I can’t verify a single sentence in that text in modern scholarship, adding it to the increasing pile of your useless and defunct citations. Again, why can’t you simply cite any modern scholarship by Roman historiography? Is it that difficult? It’s even more confusing when you refer to Voltaire — not only didn’t Voltaire doubt the authenticity of Annals 15.44 (much less know about it), and not only is Voltaire not a Roman historian, but he’s been dead for even longer than John Wilson Ross has. And, yet again, I’ve shown Eusebius, Melito of Sardis and Tertullian all speak of Nero’s persecution of Christians, and that Tertullian’s source was Tacitus himself.
        On of the earliest centers of Christianity was Rome itself — alongside Antioch, Ephesus, and a few others. There certainly were enough Christians at the time for, say, 5,000 to be killed out of a possible population of 15,000 Christians at the time. All these numbers are easily feasible, and 5,000 is quite a large number of executions for any single group in any single period in a period of otherwise peacetime.
        Yet again, we see mythicism result in messy scholarship and argumentation, denial of basic information, and simply unjustified claims and narcissistic accusations piled on top of each other.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”For one, you write “Here is another link” followed by no link, something most strange. ”

        The photo is in the text just below what I wrote (twice) and is linked. You can see it twice in the tread. The photo is also given in the link here which is to the wikipedia page about Tacitus. It is in the right-hand part of the wiki page – which shows a photo of a book page. The word “Chrstus” is clearly seen as the first word (i.e. on the the furthest left) on the seventh line in the photo. It is the word just before the symbol ” .: “. Note here that the letter “s” is written similarly to a modern day ” f “.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

        *******
        >”In other words, your own source simply rebukes your nonsense and affirms that the manuscript has ‘Christus’ ”

        No it doesn’t as the photo I have shown 3 times now, clearly state “Chrstus”. The word has not been altered, that is true, it simply does not state what you claim it does because there is no “i” in the word and no place to put it. As is provably shown in the photo supplied – which is of the original text of the earliest manuscript. You are provably spreading falsehoods…. yet again

      • I found the image of Annals 15.44, and found the word that supposedly says ‘Christus’. I can’t find the ‘i’, but quite frankly, I can’t find the ‘s’ either, since I can’t read Latin, and you can’t read Latin. Since every scholar who reads Latin translates it as “Christus”, well, that means it says ‘Christus’. Even that dope Richard Carrier admits it says ‘Christus’ but only dances around it by claiming that it was changed by some Christian. This is basic mythicist apologetics.
        “No it doesn’t as the photo I have shown 3 times now, clearly state “Chrstus””
        We’re told it “clearly” says Christus by someone … who can’t actually read the language of the manuscript. See above, scholars, including the whoop Carrier, read ‘Christus’.
        “I have already given the contradiction, which is in Suetonius reference given again.
        http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/suetonius/12caesars/nero*.html
        I ask a simple question — where does Josephus contradict Annals 15.44? This was problematic because your original argument was “Josephus doesn’t mention what Tacitus mentions meaning there is a contradiction”, which we know is a ridiculous argument. So, in this response, your answers get even weirder — you give me a link to one of Suetonius’ works. Well, I found the part about the Christians in Suetonius, and here is me copying and pasting what your link gave:

        During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. He put an end to the diversions of the chariot drivers, who from immunity of long standing claimed the right of ranging at large and amusing themselves by cheating and robbing the people. The pantomimic actors and their partisans were banished from the city.

        Apparently, you just cited corroboration for Tacitus’ mention of Nero persecuting Christians. Were you intending on giving me yet another link that refutes you? Also, thanks, I’d totally forgotten about this Suetonius text.
        “But apparently Eusebius who wrote in the 4th century is fine by you… Do you realise just how hypocritical you are?”
        Cassius Dio is 3rd century and so is too late. The only reason I even mentioned Eusebius is because you were saying some stuff like “HURR DURR EUSEBIUS WROTE A WHOLE HISTORY ON CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION AND DIDN’T EVEN MENTION NERO’S PERSECUTION EXPLAIN THAT SILLY CHRISTIAN LOLO”. And I responded by … basically showing you where Eusebius mentions the Neronian persecution. The same persecution you claim he never mentioned. Oops? I wouldn’t even have cited Eusebius if you hadn’t tried to make that claim.
        “There wasn’t even enough Christians for that in the whole world. As stated earlier, using the data by Prof Stark (who is accepted by historians) there would have been ~2,240 Christians in the whole world by 64 CE. Tha vast majority in what is now Turkey, as well as in Egypt and Palestine. If there was any Christians in Rome (and we only have the Bible that points to that) it would have been a few hundreds.
        This number also agrees with the Christian sources (Acts 28:30-31)”
        Acts 28:30-31 only tells us that Paul preached in Rome and isn’t of much relevance here. I’ve already explained how it’s completely plausible for there to have been several thousand Christians in Rome by 64 AD — Stark’s data, which I am a lot more familiar with now since we last discussed him (like 1-2 months ago) does not argue that there were ~2,000 Christians in the world by 64 AD. He only demonstrates that if you have a starting population of 1,000 Christians in 50 AD, and undergo an on average 3.4% growth rate, you’d have some 6,000,000 Christians by 300 AD, which demonstrates you don’t need explosive levels of conversion right away to reproduce Christianity’s takeover. However, Stark doesn’t actually place an exact number of Christians at any specific period of time — it’s really impossible to know the actual # of Christians by 64 AD. The only hint we have is Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he tells us that the faith has been spread throughout the whole world. Looks like you haven’t read Stark’s book. Neither have I, but I have found and read one of Stark’s lectures that got into the book since I found it online in PDF format. If you want to read it, by all means, here you go.
        https://roosevelt.ucsd.edu/_files/mmw/mmw12/RodneyStarkReconstructingRiseofChristianityWomen.pdf
        “So Paul’s rented house was enough to cater to all the Christians in Rome. And no Christians were persecuted nor were they in any way hindered to speak or looked down on.”
        Paul mentions persecution a LOT. I don’t see where you got no persecution from Acts 28:30-31.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”I found the image of Annals 15.44, and found the word that supposedly says ‘Christus’. I can’t find the ‘i’, but quite frankly, I can’t find the ‘s’ either, since I can’t read Latin,…”

        Let’s look at that shall we:

        (*) You were told exactly where the word is – and you found it – finally.

        (*) You were also told explicitly the following (I quote): “Note here that the letter “s” is written similarly to a modern day ” f “. ”

        (*) You have already referred to the study about the word “Chrestianos”, which is also seen in that page on the line above as the second word on that line, directly above the word you claim to have not been able for find for such a long time – written by the same hand (except the letter “i” which has been inserted by another hand in stead of the letter “e”).

        (*) “Chrestianos” contains two letters “s” written the same way as the the two letter “s” seen in the word “Chrstus” – again the latter found as the first word on the line 7 in the page – again the letter “s” is written similarly to the “f” of today except that the horizontal stoke is missing.

        (*) You had no problem finding the letters “s” in the word “Chrestianos” since you have referred to the word numerous times.

        So forgive me for being blunt, but I believe you are lying.
        ********
        >” Stark’s data, which I am a lot more familiar with now since we last discussed him (like 1-2 months ago) does not argue that there were ~2,000 Christians in the world by 64 AD. He only demonstrates that if you have a starting population of 1,000 Christians in 50 AD, and undergo an on average 3.4% growth rate, you’d have some 6,000,000 Christians by 300 AD,”

        That is a flat out lie. Stark calculate the number of Christians in the world by the year 50 CE (1,400) as well as by the year 100CE (7,530). This is published in the table on page 3 in the article I have already given as reference.
        https://www.humanscience.org/docs/Stark%20(1996)%20Rise%20of%20Christianity%201-2.pdf

        And since you appear not to know how to follow references. You can copy the whole reference given above (starting with “https:” and finishing with “%201-2.pdf”) and paste it into the search box in Google and then press “enter”. The title is “Chapter one. Conversion and Christian Growth” from
        “The Rise of Christianity”, by Rodney Stark (1996)

        His starting point is the year 40 CE, not 50CE. He also state specifically:

        “Progress must have seemed terribly slow during the first century—the projected total is only 7,530 by 100. There was a greater increase in numbers by the middle of the second century, but still the projection amounts to only slightly more than 40,000 Christians. This projection is in extremely close agreement with Robert L. Wilken’s estimate of “less than fifty thousand Christians” at this time—”an infinitesimal number in a society comprising sixty million”
        (1984:31). Indeed, according to L. Michael White (1990:110), Christians in Rome still met in
        private homes at this time. ”

        So even in the second century there we hardly any Christians in Rome. Far less than an “immense multitude.”
        *****

        And with this final exposure of your dishonesty I call it a day. You are clearly an internet troll or some other bottom-feeder on the web.

      • After riveting through a bunch of nonsense data;

        “(*) You were told exactly where the word is – and you found it – finally.
        (*) You were also told explicitly the following (I quote): “Note here that the letter “s” is written similarly to a modern day ” f “. ”
        (*) You have already referred to the study about the word “Chrestianos”, which is also seen in that page on the line above as the second word on that line, directly above the word you claim to have not been able for find for such a long time – written by the same hand (except the letter “i” which has been inserted by another hand in stead of the letter “e”).
        (*) “Chrestianos” contains two letters “s” written the same way as the the two letter “s” seen in the word “Chrstus” – again the latter found as the first word on the line 7 in the page – again the letter “s” is written similarly to the “f” of today except that the horizontal stoke is missing.
        (*) You had no problem finding the letters “s” in the word “Chrestianos” since you have referred to the word numerous times.”

        You conclude I’m ‘lying’. Of course, this is still highly problematic since you can’t read Latin, and neither can I, and all the scholars who do read Latin … transliterate is ‘Christus’. You claim that the ancient ‘s’ is similar to the modern ‘f’, although my sources tell me that in Classical Latin, ‘S’ back then is very much an ‘S’ nowadays, although I’ll ignore this and simply assume you’re right. Nevertheless, after finding a better picture, I can clearly read the ‘i’ between the ‘r’ and the ‘s’. Here’s a picture of the word;
        https://i2.wp.com/historyforatheists.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/chrestianos.jpg?resize=470%2C177&ssl=1

        This picture shows the word ‘Christianos’ all by itself in Tacitus’ manuscript. As you can see, there’s obviously an ‘i’ right after the ‘r’ to the left of the red arrow on the image above. And, just to consolidate this point, let’s bring back this source that you originally cited:
        http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zaratacituschrestianos.pdf

        Here, Erik Zara writes;

        An argument in favor of the
        Chrestianos-position has been that the “ri” in the word is written in a different way than the
        “ri”-combination usually is, in the manuscript. Against this, it has been claimed that the scribe
        only “goofed” by writing “i” in a different style compared to what he normally did after the
        letter “r”. Georg Andresen found in 1902 that there is an (unusual) gap between the “i” and
        the “s” in the word, and that this has been over bridged (in fact under bridged) by a hyphen,
        which led him to believe that the “i” was corrected from an original “e”.

        It looks as if this scholar is writing out an entire analysis on that little ‘i’ that you simply think isn’t there. Anyways, now that I have a clear image of the ‘i’, I think that puts this contention to rest.

        Again, back to the population, I think I’ve found a way to simplify virtually this entire thing. Let’s say there was, as Stark’s projection puts it, somewhere between 1,000-7,000 Christians in the entire period between 50 AD – 100 AD. If even 3,000, or 2,000 Christians, or even 1,000 Christians were executed during Nero’s persecution, that would have been quite, quite more than the regular number of executions that would have been happening at the time, which validates Tacitus’ statement that the number of executions in this period seems to have gone off. Secondly, even if we assume that not even 1,000 were killed, and that it was only a small number or some other thing, all that would imply is … Tacitus made a mistake. I seem to find that it doesn’t take much for Tacitus to be right, indeed I’ve shown even with a small population Tacitus’ idea that a ton of executions swerved in can be justified, but even if not, then Tacitus would simply have made a mistake. Last I measured, making an error isn’t indicative of something like forgery. Some scholars like Brent Shaw have argued that the entire Neronian persecution never happened (we’ve seen Shaw has been refuted, but put that aside for now), and yet don’t even consider the idea that Annals 15.44 is somehow inauthentic. Annals 15.44 reads just like 2nd century classical Latin, this passage was probably made of use by the late 2nd century by Tertullian, the account is very insulting towards Christians (which we have seen is the opposite of what actual Christian interpolations look like when we placed this beside the testimonium flavium), etc, etc, etc. Even if the entire idea of a mistake here in Tacitus is conceded, that brings us not one step closer to denying the historicity of Tacitus’ account of the Neronian persecution or whatever else he writes.

      • As a further note, I just read the first two chapters of Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity from the PDF file you sent in your previous response. Stunningly, he directly addressed the issue of what Tacitus said about Tacitus’ “immense multitude” comment;

        For example, following the execution of James and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem, the Christian community in Palestine seems to have died out (Frend 1965, 1984). And while Tacitus’s claim that “an immense multitude” (Annals 15.44, 1989 ed.) was butchered by Nero in about 65 is much exaggerated (see chapter 8), even the deaths of several hundred Christians would have been a very serious setback.

        According to our very source, Stark, who you correctly note has his work accepted as the consensus position, explains Tacitus’ comment as an exaggeration, and forgery doesn’t even enter Stark’s mind. This is exactly as I wrote in my previous comment — at best, these facts about the number of early Christians would demonstrate Tacitus made a slip, rather than that some later Christian inserted this into his work.

        In fact, I think I can even explain Tacitus’s slip. Clearly, Tacitus hated Christians, as we have seen earlier. Therefore, when retrospectively looking at Nero’s persecution of the Christians, Tacitus claimed that an “immense multitude” of Christians had been killed in order to make himself and his fellow aristocrats happy. What more proof did Tacitus need of his superiority over the filthy Christians than the fact that in a single persecution, Nero was able to wipe out vast multitudes of Christians? Tacitus may have exaggerated the negativity of what happened to the Christians for personal purposes. Now, this is just a theory, and so I’m not placing much weight on it. All I need to do is show that Tacitus’ comment is only indicative of exaggeration, not forgery.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”Again, there’s no contradiction. I don’t know how obvious this is or why you think otherwise — what part of Josephus exactly contradicts Annals 15.44?”

        I have already given the contradiction, which is in Suetonius reference given again.

        http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/suetonius/12caesars/nero*.html

        *****
        > “Cassius Dio can’t be added, since of course you have no argument to begin with, and secondly, Dio wrote all the way in the 3rd century AD, making him quite irrelevant.”

        But apparently Eusebius who wrote in the 4th century is fine by you… Do you realise just how hypocritical you are?
        *****
        >”On of the earliest centers of Christianity was Rome itself — alongside Antioch, Ephesus, and a few others. There certainly were enough Christians at the time for, say, 5,000 to be killed out of a possible population of 15,000 Christians at the time. ”

        There wasn’t even enough Christians for that in the whole world. As stated earlier, using the data by Prof Stark (who is accepted by historians) there would have been ~2,240 Christians in the whole world by 64 CE. Tha vast majority in what is now Turkey, as well as in Egypt and Palestine. If there was any Christians in Rome (and we only have the Bible that points to that) it would have been a few hundreds.

        This number also agrees with the Christian sources (Acts 28:30-31)

        “30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

        So Paul’s rented house was enough to cater to all the Christians in Rome. And no Christians were persecuted nor were they in any way hindered to speak or looked down on.

        A direct contradiction to Tacitus.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        I’ll take them one at a time

        (1) The circular reasoning of both you and Christopher Jones.

        I will not bother with the early stuff and go straight to your own written “proof”. I quote YOU:

        “P1: If the followers of Jesus’ in Nero’s time weren’t yet called ‘Christians’, Tacitus wouldn’t call them Christians
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, the followers of Jesus in Nero’s time were called Christians”
        *
        That is again a circular argument because the premise P1 is based on the conclusion C.

        That Tacitus is referring to “the followers of Jesus” when he states “Christians” is asserted without any basis or proof by you as a premise (P1). Tacitus never states anything about Jesus or followers of Jesus- this is all assumed by you at this point. Then you get the same thing in the conclusion (C) i.e. that Tacitus is talking about “the followers of Jesus” when he writes “Chrestianus” – a word that has a different meaning in the first place. I gave you a link to what a circular proof is and how to spot them, please read it.
        *****
        >”First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ about all of you that your faith is announced in the whole world.”

        Refers to a number greater or equal to 2. It say absolutely nothing about what that number is. That the faith is announces in the whole world implies no number either only that it’s spread geographically to the most important part in the Roman empire. Furthermore it is again using the Bible to prove the Bible which is no more relevant than to use the Iliad to prove the Iliad, or Robin Hood to prove Robin Hood. Again circular reasoning – you really need to read up on this.

        And Yes I’ll take Christopher Jones to task on this if you can arrange it. It’s time some of these scholars get to try to establish something with the accuracy and rigour we do in the natural sciences.
        *****

      • Thank God. I must truly say, you have gotten quite better. The number of arguments you dropped from your previous response to this one has shown me you’re actually learning something. I still think you’re semi-illiterate when it comes to ancient history, but I no longer consider you a stupid ignoramus (although other stupid ignoramuses [mythicists] still have some influence on your beliefs). An unfortunate thing about your most recent comment is when you wrote “And Yes I’ll take Christopher Jones to task on this if you can arrange it. It’s time some of these scholars get to try to establish something with the accuracy and rigour we do in the natural sciences.” Since every actual scholar in the field thinks you’re partially insane, you have concluded EVERYONE in the academy is incompetent so you can maintain your little mythicist bubble of being right and less biased than those dumb professors! Of course, I’ve only seen this behavior far too prevalent amongst mythicists. My key to my response will be the same as last time;

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper
        2. Population
        3. Arguments for/against interpolation
        4. Eusebius
        5. Celsus

        Before I start of course, since you didn’t answer last time, I’ll repeat from my previous response;

        Every single Roman historian in the world disagrees with you, and thus, I continued to ask what it is exactly that the academy and all its brilliant minds haven’t taken into account that a laymen like yourself has. Initially, you replied “population”, but I showed in my previous response that this has already been taken into account by Brent Shaw’s paper. Now, you have in fact buttressed this point of mine, admitting yourself:

        “It turns out I was not the only one using this approach to calculate the growth of the Christian population in Rome in the first 3 centuries. Professor Rodney William Stark did it back in 1996 in the book” The rise of Christianity”.”

        Indeed, by your own discovery, your approach offers nothing new. So, again, what is it that you have taken into account that the academy hasn’t?

        So, let’s begin.

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper

        Christopher Jones, Emeritus Professor at Harvard University and world-renowned classicist published a paper to Cambridge University’s New Testament Studies taking Brent Shaw to task for his errors. It has become evident by now that your points have demonstrated you’re incapable of addressing Jones’ central thesis — that is, that Shaw conflated the martyrdoms of Paul and Peter with the Neronian persecution so as to claim that if one is historically inaccurate, the other goes down with it, as well as the fact that Shaw mistakenly attributed the term ‘Christians’ as an internalized designation to the Christian community when in fact linguistics and documented history from Acts reveals that the term ‘Christians’ originated as an outer-designation on the Christian community. I’ve demonstrated earlier that Jones’ is correct on these issues, which means that Shaw’s argument doesn’t work. Your only problems with Shaw’s paper is circular reasoning and his use of Romans 1:8. Jones is correct on both counts as we’ll see, but even if he was in fact wrong on both of these points, these arguments were still peripheral to Jones’ main argument which means that Shaw’s paper still doesn’t work. In other words, even if you were correct on these two minor issues, you would fail to have saved Shaw from Jones’ critique.

        To begin with circular reasoning, here is how I formulated Jones’ argument in my last response;

        “(P1) “Tacitus writes Chrestianus in that passage”.
        (P2) “If there were not enough Chrestianus then why would Tacitus write Chrestianus”
        (C), “There must have been enough Chrestianus around for Tacitus to write Chrestianus”.”

        You claimed this still utilizes circular reasoning. As far as I’m concerned, that’s false. Even though, I was still wrong about how I characterized P1. I thought about this and came to the conclusion that the following is an accurate representation of Jones’ argument;

        P1: Tacitus would only call the followers of Jesus ‘Christians’ if that was their designation
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, ‘Christians’ was their designation

        The argument here, of course, is not circular. This is meant to ask the following question: if the followers of Jesus weren’t being called Christians during Jesus’ time, then what would lead to Tacitus designating them as such? Furthermore, even if this argument was circular, which I just refuted, it still wouldn’t matter because as I’ve previously demonstrated, both Jones and Shaw agree with the well-known historical fact that the designation ‘Christian’ originated some time in the 40’s AD. In other words, it’s already been demonstrated that the label ‘Christian’ was around during Nero’s time, Shaw’s central argument was that this designation was internalized to the Christian community so that the political leaders of Rome (such as Nero) wouldn’t know the term. Jones refuted this by showing ‘Christians’ is actually an outer-designation to the community of Jesus’ followers, as I’ve remarked before. In other words, even if the argument were 100% circular, it wouldn’t matter at all because there isn’t a serious debate in the first place on whether or not the designation ‘Christian’ was around at this time, and both Shaw and Jones agree on this. This means that no matter how far you pursue this accusation, you’ll cover absolutely zero ground in disparaging Tacitus’ Annals 15.44.

        So, let’s move on to a discussion that is actually meaningful. Since I continued calling the followers of Jesus ‘Christians’, you took trouble:

        “That Tacitus is referring to “the followers of Jesus” when he states “Christians” is asserted without any basis or proof by you as a premise (P1). Tacitus never states anything about Jesus or followers of Jesus- this is all assumed by you at this point. Then you get the same thing in the conclusion (C) i.e. that Tacitus is talking about “the followers of Jesus” when he writes “Chrestianus” – a word that has a different meaning in the first place. I gave you a link to what a circular proof is and how to spot them, please read it.”

        I don’t need to give any proof that ‘Christians’ refers to the followers of Jesus, since it’s an indisputable fact and you actually haven’t shown me a single instance in the entire first, second or third century after the birth of Jesus where ‘Christian’ referred to a single entity besides the followers of Jesus. Furthermore, if you really must have a ‘proof’, Tacitus writes that the Chrestianos was founded by Christus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. If you think that the Chrestianos are anything but the followers of Jesus in this passage, you’ve simply misunderstood what it says.

        Finally, let’s move on to Romans 1:8, where you repeat your old argument;

        “Refers to a number greater or equal to 2. It say absolutely nothing about what that number is.”

        This is flat out false, since Paul writing that to the Roman church that they have “proclaimed their faith to the whole world” implies a rather large number as far as I’m reading it. You then go on to say this is “using the Bible to prove the Bible” which is … false. This is using Paul’s letter to the Romans to corroborate a reference in Annals 15.44 to a large number of Christians in Rome. Unless Annals 15.44 is part of the Bible, this is not using the Bible to prove the Bible.

        2. Population

        There are two important points I need to make before taking you to task here. First of all, you continue to misrepresent the work of Rodney Stark. Stark does not use the model you’re using, otherwise you would have been able to provide a specific citation to his important monograph. Stark’s work showed, from the very Wikipedia quotation you provided, that you don’t need continus mass conversion in order for the Christian population to grow to ~10 million by 300 AD, since this can be achieved with an annual growth rate of anywhere between 2-4%. Stark’s work did not provide a “consensus” for some 10 thousand Christians during the Neronian persecution, otherwise, Brent Shaw would have used this work to buttress his argument that there were too few Christians during Nero’s reign for them to be a specific target. Of course, Shaw didn’t use Stark’s work precisely because it provides nothing that you purport it does, and you appear to be the only person who thinks it does. The point I’m trying to make here is that anyone claiming to have a population calculator for the early Christians in any specific period of time, especially the first century, is both out of their minds and guilty of using a pseudohistorical method (as in you).

        The second important point to make is the following. If there were only a small number of Christians in Rome during Nero’s reign or persecution, that would only imply Tacitus was wrong. In fact, it wouldn’t even give a hint of forgery or interpolation, which nullifies your entire argument from population (which we know is incorrect given Romans 1:8).

        Anyways, you have quite a bit to say about mathematics:

        “Secondly, You clearly do not know maths!
        An exponential growth of 2% per year will (using the same numbers as before) get you 0.95 M Christians by 300 CE.
        An exponential growth of 4% per year will give you 163 M (roughly one hundred million people more than the *total population of the Roman empire* at 300 CE)
        Now here is the interesting thing: the population of Christians at 64 CE with a 2% growth is roughly 9 K, while the 4% growth per year will give you toughly 16 K. So no matter the ridiculous numbers you used we STILL GET HARDLY ANY CHRISTIANS IN THE WHOLE WORLD BY 64 CE.”

        First of all, you completely mischaracterized my argument. When I wrote 2-4% per year, I only meant this as a range where the average annual Christian growth would fall in, were there to be some ~10 million Christians by 300 AD, and in fact this range is correct. Secondly, I remarked that even if this was the average annual growth for the Christian population, that wouldn’t make it linear. I’ve already demonstrated that in a very realistic scenario, you could have 50,000 Christians by 64 AD which then grows to 10,000,000 by 300 AD. Secondly, even if the population was 16,000, that would be more than enough to have 5,000 martyrs — the figure I originally noted for how many Christians died under Nero’s persecution.

        3. Arguments for/against interpolation

        Something phenomenal happened year — you flat out did not reply to this section of my argument. My earlier comments will suffice, but I’ll note something else as well at the end:

        Something you appear not to understand about the ancient historical record is … it’s very small. Most events of ancient history, regardless of how grand they are, have zero recordings in their contemporary history. Pythagoras, Arminius, Hannibal, all three of these men were enormous figures of their time periods, and have not one single contemporary mention. Indeed, most ancient events we even know about at all are only recorded in a single account, and a single account is all that is needed in an ancient history, most of the time, to establish something happened in the past. This is why Roman historians all agree Nero persecuted Christians — it’s mentioned by Tacitus, a good historian, which means it has just about as much attestation as most other ancient events. So, not only do we have enough attestation for the Neronian persecution and need no others, we can also discard your claim as an argument from silence fallacy.

        So, it seems as if my point went over your head which proves the obvious authenticity of the passage. No one was debating whether or not Jesus was crucified during the time of Tacitus and thereafter. In other words, no one would have forged Annals 15.44 since that would have been useless. If someone was going to interpolate Tacitus, the interpolation would look like what we see in the testimonium flavium — there, the Christian took their sweet time to say that Jesus was the Messiah, that He rose from the dead, and a bunch of other fantastical things. That’s what an interpolation would look like. None of that is in Tacitus. In other words, Annals 15.44 would be useless to forge. So, since all your arguments for forgery and against authenticity have been yet again debunked, we can re-summarize our arguments;

        1) The passage is contained in our only manuscript and there’s no reason to think it was never there
        2) The passage reads just like Tacitus always reads
        3) There would have been no function in forging the passage since we have no evidence that its contents were ever debated by Christians or non-Christians
        4) The passage is overwhelmingly insulting against Christians, making it inconceivable for a Christian to write it

        Moving on, we can continue to add more reasons that I have recently discovered.

        5) If Annals 15.44 is an interpolation, that would literally make it the longest interpolation in ancient history. Not a single other interpolation in ancient history is remotely as long, which would means your claim would require an anomaly.
        6) Furthermore, as I’ve noted earlier, when Tertullian talks about the Neronian persecution, he tells the Romans to “Consult your histories”. So, what is the only Roman source antecedent to Tertullian to mention Nero’s persecution of Christians? Tacitus. Therefore, Tertullian was almost certainly referring to Tacitus

        Thanks to yourself, however, my 6th argument is now much, much more powerful. Previously, I would have said that the probability that Tertullian was referring to Tacitus was about 95% when he told the Romans to “Consult your histories” on the Neronian persecution. However, because of your evidence, I can now say with 99.9% probability that Tertullian was referring to Tacitus. This is because you have actually shown that Tertullian was familiar with the works of Tacitus when you quoted Tertullian saying the following;

        “FOR you, as certain others have done, have dreamed that our God is an ass’s head. Cornelius Tacitus introduced this suspicion. For in the fifth book of his “Histories,” having begun his account of the Jewish war with the origin of the nation itself, having also drawn what conclusions he wished respecting both the origin and the name and the religion of the Jewish nation, he relates that, when the Jews had been liberated, or as he thought banished, from Aegypt, and were tortured by thirst in the deserts of Arabia, where water is exceedingly scarce, they availed themselves of wild asses to guide them to a spring, thinking that the animals would most likely be seeking water after feeding, and he states that for this service they consecrated as a deity the head of a similar animal. And thence, I take it, it was presumed that we, too, being nearly allied to the Jewish religion, were devotees of the same effigy. But yet this same Cornelius Tacitus, really a most loquacious man in falsehoods, relates in the same history that Cnaeus Pompeius, after his capture of Jerusalem and consequent entrance into the Temple for the purpose of investigating the secret mysteries of the Jewish religion, found there no image.” (“THE APOLOGY OF TERTULLIAN FOR THE CHRISTIANS”, CHAPTER XVI.)

        So, not only do we know that Tertullian told the Romans to “Consult your histories” to find record of Nero’s persecution of the Christians and the fact that Tacitus, at this time, was the only Roman historian to have written about the Neronian persecution in one of their works, but we further know that Tertullian was entirely familiar with the writings of Tacitus, so as to demonstrate with virtual certainty that Tertullian was citing Tacitus. Historically speaking, this point ought to single-handedly end this debate, and would in fact end this debate in any conference of Roman historians. Before discussing with you, I knew a good deal about why no Roman historian in the world thinks this passage is a forgery, but now I think that I know much, much more about why Roman historians don’t take mythicists seriously. If you cannot convincingly address the 6th argument (as well as every other of the 5 arguments I put forth), then the evidence overwhelmingly favors my position and we continue to see not a shred of even an indication of forgery in Annals 15.44. Strangely, in your response, you referred to Annals 15.44 as a “disputed passage” twice, even though … there’s no dispute amongst historians.

        4. Eusebius

        This is probably the most useless part in our entire discussion at this point. You originally argued “if Nero’s persecution happened, Eusebius out of all people ought to have mentioned it.” Then, I demonstrated Eusebius did cite the Neronian persecution in regards to his quotations of Tertullian and Melito (you note Melito only says they were ‘slandered’, although I commented on this earlier and don’t need to repeat myself). So, Eusebius was well acquinated with and mentioned the Neronian persecution. Then, you went on to accuse me of misrepresenting you when I said that “you agree that Eusebius confirms the persecution.” However, I never said you agree that Eusebius confirms the persecution, I only said you agree Eusebius mentions the persecution, and you do. I’m not stupid enough to think Eusebius proves that the Neronian persecution happened, only that he mentioned it and so the argument “why didn’t Eusebius mention the Neronian persecution if it happened?” fails. Besides this point, you say Eusebius “doesn’t mention the conflagration”, which is an argument from silence. Continuing to talk about Eusebius is a task without fruit, since he has become irrelevant to our conversation the second I showed he is familiar with Nero persecuting Christians. That means we’re either going to drop point (4) from our conversation, otherwise change it by making it about Tertullian instead. By the way, if we lived in an alternate universe where Eusebius never mentioned the Neronian persecution, I would still have accused you of putting forth an argument from silence.

        You mention Sulpicius again, however I’ve already shown Sulpicius is clearly fashioning his account off of Tacitus. Sulpicius is much more developed since he conflates the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, two of the most important Christian leaders with the Neronian persecution (which would be an amazing omission from Annals 15.44 if Christian were fashioning it off of Sulpicius), and Sulpicius further claims that Nero invented entirely new forms of execution to deal with the Christians. Sulpicius is exaggerating what Tacitus wrote happened to the Christians for obvious reasons.

        Finally, Pliny. Your original argument was something like “Pliny should have referred back to the procedures of Nero” to deal with Christians. I then demonstrated that no Roman ever referred to the procedures of their predecessors when persecuting anyone, and so claiming that Pliny out of all people should have specifically done so is special pleading. Your new argument is now something like “Pliny should have referred to the trials of the Christian under Nero”, which is still special pleading since no Roman referred to preceding trials of persecuting a specific group either. In order to claim that Pliny “should” have done something when it comes with his persecution of Christians, you’re going to need to show that this was the norm amongst Romans in the first place. You’re not going to be able to, though, since it never happened (and even if it did you wouldn’t be able to do so, since you aren’t familiar with Roman histories in the first place).

        Since these arguments weren’t going to fly by, you summoned another one regarding Pliny. This time, you’re claiming that Pliny’s remarkably short letter actually implies that Christians were a small group in his time. Here, this are your words:

        “As Pliny doesn’t know anything about Christians prior to his encounter with them in ~110 CE it follows that this group is small and insignificant. It does not follow that this was the group singled out by Nero for special persecution with regards to the Fire of Rome.”

        First of all, you misrepresent me when claiming that I say it “follows” from Pliny’s letter that Nero persecuted Christians. Secondly, you claim that Pliny’s letter reveals he never knew about Christians before the time he wrote his letter, which is false. All Pliny says in his letter says is that “I have never participated in trials of Christians.” This simply implies that c. 110 AD is when he started persecuting Christians, not when he first heard of Christians. At this point, you’re misrepresenting Pliny. My last point here is the following — as I read Trajan’s response to Pliny, I am actually now able to flat out refute any idea of any Roman even hypothetically “referring back to the procedures of their predecessors”. Indeed, this is what Trajan says in his response (and I’ll highlight the important part):

        You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it–that is, by worshiping our gods–even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.

        Trajan writes that “For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard.” This demonstrates that there was never, in Roman history, any specific standard or procedure to persecute Christians (or any group for that manner) so as to be able to refer back to it and utilize it for yourself. This further shows that each Roman would have had to deal with the persecuted group in his own manner, presumably however he pleases. Therefore, not only is claiming that Pliny should have “referred back to the procedures/trials of his predecessors” special pleading, it makes no sense in general.

        5. Celsus

        This is where things get a bit strange. I find that you no longer deny that Celsus thought Jesus existed, since I demonstrated this is so, you seem to think that I flat out don’t know what the work Contra Celsum is about. First, I’ll quote my previous words on this, and then I’ll quote your response. I said;

        “This is your argument — Celsus isn’t really affirming any of this, he’s just mentioning the Christian claims and then criticizing them. This is flat out false, as anyone who has read Contra Celsum knows.”

        Nothing about this is problematic, although you, entirely misunderstanding, write:

        “And with that you prove for all to see that you have no idea about this. “Contra Celsum” is a reply written by Origen to Celsus own book which was called “The True Word”. That latter book is lost but we do know a lot about it because in his reply Origen quotes extensively from Celsus. I can’t be bothered to write a reply to someone that so utterly misrepresents facts as you have shown yourself to do, so I quote the summary in in the wiki and link it and let you and any reader of this post determine if what you wrote above is true.”

        At this point, I’ve finished reading all books of Contra Celsum, and I already know about everything you wrote. My initial quote, of course, contradicts none of it. I wrote that anyone who has read Contra Celsum knows that Celsus affirms multiple things about Jesus and clearly thought Jesus existed, which is in fact true, since Origen extensively quotes Celsus’s arguments (and responds to them) on a range of issues, from the Jewish nation to the explanation as to why many nations believe in different gods. Apparently, something in my previous words has shown I actually knew none of this, which I still don’t understand exactly what demonstrated any of this. In my previous comment, I even quoted a specific section of Contra Celsum and extensively commented on the beliefs of Celsus.

        I have proven that Celsus is not in fact a mythicist (as all historians agree on), by establishing two points;

        1) Celsus believed a range of things about Jesus, including that his mother was a Jew, he was born in a Jewish village, he himself was Jewish, he has supernatural forces (although he claimed this came from sorcery), he believed Jesus went to Egypt as Matthew records (and Celsus claims that it was Egypt where he got his sorcery from, apparently since Egypt had a reputation for this kind of stuff), etc, etc, etc.

        2) If Celsus thought Jesus didn’t exist, then out of ALL the things Origen commented on in his eight books, it would have been THIS out of all things that Origen would have worked vigorously to rebut, the heresy among heresies, the claim that Jesus Himself did not exist in His entirety. Origen has absolutely not a figment of knowledge that Celsus had such a view, which would be absolutely phenomenal since you’re claiming that Origen’s quotations actually demonstrate Celsus was a mythicist.

        Finally, you’ve continued to fail to show any part of Celsus’ quotations that at all show he was a mythicist. Seriously, for someone claiming Celsus didn’t believe Jesus existed, you’re having a hard time actually showing it.

        Finally, I’ll end this comment off by commenting a few things. You mention Suetonius’ words on the fire of Nero’s city, and exclaim “he doesn’t mention Christians!”, another one of your many arguments from silence since you can’t adduce any real evidence against the historicity of the Neronian persecution or the authenticity of Annals 15.44. You also say that Tertullian notes Tacitus makes no distinction between Jews and Christians, which is false, since he does precisely this in the quotation you give. Tertullian wrote “And thence, I take it, it was presumed that we, too, being nearly allied to the Jewish religion, were devotees of the same effigy.” Tertullian says that, according to Tacitus, the Christians were “closely allied” to those of the Jewish religion, which implies Tacitus made a distinction between the two groups. Furthermore, the quotation you give from Tertullian has no relevance to the Neronian persecution, it was only Tertullian taking his anger out on Tacitus for claiming that the Jews took a donkey head for a god.

        Again, I can’t tell when you’re going to make a concession when it comes to Paul. I guess all I can do is simply quote my previous comments on this;

        Here, your comment simply enters the clunker. When I read what you said about Clement of Rome, thank God I wasn’t sitting on a chair, because I would have simply fell out of it in shock. Before I go to Clement, I’ll go back to Paul’s letters which prove Paul existed. In fact, I don’t even need to claim Paul wrote a single one of them to show they prove Paul existed, which therefore frees me of your accusation of circular reasoning.
        Indeed, in every single one of Paul’s undisputed letters, they begin with something like “Paul an apostle from Jesus”. In other words, EVERY SINGLE one of the undisputed letters attests to the existence of a man named Paul. Indeed, even if I were to say not a single one of them were written by Paul, they ALL still attest to his existence by outright quoting him, and we know these letters existed during his lifetime (because they are quoted in the first century by Clement himself) and thus they are not only ridiculously early, but I have at least 7 undisputed contemporary accounts of Paul since they were written by someone during Paul’s lifetime (and for some reason attributed to him, on your view). On top of that, Clement writes of Paul, Clement who was another one of Paul’s contemporaries, probably knew him and wrote soon after his martyrdom to lament over his death. Finally, we have the author of Luke-Acts who mentions Paul, who is ANOTHER(!) one of Paul’s contemporaries and knew Paul and in fact had a voyage with him (hard to have a voyage with someone who didn’t exist).
        And on top of all that, please explain this: if it is the case that Paul didn’t exist… WHY would he be invented? LOL. Did some bishop in the 40’s suddenly decide “hey guys, why don’t we invent some random Christian leader and attribute a bunch of letters to him? wouldnt that be fun?” It quite literally makes no sense. So, not only do we have a ton of contemporaries of Paul writing about Paul, but the mere invention of Paul is inexplicable on historical grounds. I guess that blows you out of the water as well as another one of your conspiracy theories. Seriously, PAUL didn’t exist? Thank God that every Pauline scholar in the world doesn’t even entertain such nonsensical notions.
        Anyways, you say Clement’s mentioning of Paul is “like saying that Little John is evidence for Robin Hood.” What a bunch of clunker. Clement, a contemporary of Paul who actually existed, mentions a Church leader he knew named Paul. This is NOT analogous in the slightest to your Robin Hood tale, this is blatantly an ancient bishop telling us about the death of one of his contemporaries, this is a flat out historical record. How on Earth did Clement lament over Paul’s death if there was no Paul? This conspiracy theory is really just pushing the extent of reason and logic. I’ve shown overwhelming evidence here to establish Paul, and the mere fact that you question something like this readily explains why you’re a mythicist.

        To finish this response, I’ll simply comment that after my latest remarks, your case has with certainty been permanently weakened. It’s only going to get worse from here on out. I plan on converting you to Christianity soon enough, so it would be best if you simply admitted Annals 15.44 is obviously authentic at this point to get things rolling faster.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        You have a habit of deliberately misquoting people and sources and make unsubstantiated claims. you do the same thing again: this is what you now claim:
        ****

        >” To begin with circular reasoning, here is how I formulated Jones’ argument in my last response;

        “(P1) “Tacitus writes Chrestianus in that passage”.
        (P2) “If there were not enough Chrestianus then why would Tacitus write Chrestianus”
        (C), “There must have been enough Chrestianus around for Tacitus to write Chrestianus”.”
        _____
        That is a lie as I was the person that formulated it this way, as is clearly shown in my own post above. You cited that as my work then you wrote the following:
        *************
        >”There are some errors here. Firstly, the passage says ‘Chrestianos’, not ‘Chrestianus’, which is Latin for ‘Chrestians/Christians’. Secondly, the entire argument is misrepresented, this is what Jones actually says;

        P1: If the followers of Jesus’ in Nero’s time weren’t yet called ‘Christians’, Tacitus wouldn’t call them Christians
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, the followers of Jesus in Nero’s time were called Christians”
        ______
        So you start this with a provable falsehood. Not a good way to go. Then you continue with a new formulation which is still circular.

        >”P1: Tacitus would only call the followers of Jesus ‘Christians’ if that was their designation
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, ‘Christians’ was their designation.

        The argument here, of course, is not circular”
        ______
        Ha ha ha! Again P1 is assumed without any proof, C is contained in P1 not a conclusion from it. Your argument is as flawed as this one below which is constructed the same way.

        P1: Harry Potter couldn’t have used magic if magic isn’t real
        P2: Harry Potter uses magic
        C: Therefore magic is real.

        See the flaw now? See the circularity? Look up what a circular proof is before writing about it again.
        ****
        >”I don’t need to give any proof that ‘Christians’ refers to the followers of Jesus,…”

        The word used in Tacitus is Chrestianos not Christianos and Chrestos has (as shown in the second post I gave) been used long before the age of Christianity so the use of that word PROVABLY does not refer to Christians.

      • This is fabulous. I didn’t think it possible, but we’ve finally wrapped up our discussions on a large number of issues, including Eusebius, Selcus, Pliny, and Paul, which were quite major points of discussion. Progress is being made, although unfortunately, regress is also present. In your latest response, you summon back a number of arguments I’ve already disposed of, apparently forgetting I’ve disposed of them. You’ve told me to “go back to school”, demonstrating your immaturity. For the latest response, the key of points will change, since (4) and (5) both were accomplished in my last response. So, here it is;

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper
        2. Population
        3. Tertullian and Josephus
        4. Arguments for/against interpolation

        Before I begin, there are a few points I need to enumerate. The first one is this — I remarked in my previous response that you failed to provide a single shred of evidence for ‘Chrestianos’ or ‘Christus’ being used a single time in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd century after the crucifixion of Jesus to refer to a single figure besides Jesus or Christians themselves. You’ve still failed to do that, as I’ll demonstrate later. You claimed that you did provide such references, and so while I was sifting through all the links you’ve ever posted to date, I came across this gem:

        [http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zaratacituschrestianos.pdf]

        I didn’t read this the first time you posted it, but now that I have, I must remark that you’ve helped me bury another one of your arguments. I’ll make use of this source later, but because I don’t want to cite the same link again later in my comment, I’ll simply refer to it later as ‘The Killer Source’. Secondly, you wrote something very strange in your most recent reply:

        “This is acknowledge by all scholars in this field and by anyone comparing the texts.”

        I’ll definitely get to this later, but it looks almost paradoxical to me that a mythicist and someone who believes Annals 15.44 isn’t authentic is suddenly … interested in the opinions of scholars. At this point, you seem to be getting flabbergasted that historians think you’re partially crazy, and so you actually decided to question me on whether this consensus really exists or not:

        “As a footnote I find it amusing that you know what any of the authors thought about things. Tell me how do you contact them? Have you written to any of them?”

        As far as I understand it, you’re asking me how I know that every scholar you even tried to mention (besides Robert Taylor, a 19th century doofus), such as Stark, Shaw, etc, thinks Annals 15.44 is authentic. This is because when you actually try to ask Roman historians about the debate about the authenticity of Annals 15.44, they’ll tell you that they’ve never heard of any such debate. For example, when the pseudohistorian Richard Carrier tried to go for Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist, he attempted to strike at a bunch of issues peripheral to Ehrman’s actual arguments, such as whether or not scholars actually debate Annals 15.44. To settle this, Ehrman emailed one a world class Roman historian whom he knew on the issue (James Rives), and Rives told Ehrman … he had never even heard of what he was talking about. You can read all about this on Ehrman’s blog in the following post;

        [https://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/]

        Now that I’ve finally enumerated all that, I can begin discussing your actual arguments. But before so, I must yet again repeat this since you continue to dance around it;

        Every single Roman historian in the world disagrees with you, and thus, I continued to ask what it is exactly that the academy and all its brilliant minds haven’t taken into account that a laymen like yourself has. Initially, you replied “population”, but I showed in my previous response that this has already been taken into account by Brent Shaw’s paper. Now, you have in fact buttressed this point of mine, admitting yourself:

        “It turns out I was not the only one using this approach to calculate the growth of the Christian population in Rome in the first 3 centuries. Professor Rodney William Stark did it back in 1996 in the book” The rise of Christianity”.”

        Indeed, by your own discovery, your approach offers nothing new. So, again, what is it that you have taken into account that the academy hasn’t?

        So, let’s begin.

        1. Christopher Jones’ paper

        Christopher Jones, Emeritus Professor at Harvard University and world-renowned classicist published a paper to Cambridge University’s New Testament Studies taking Brent Shaw to task for his errors. At this point, you’re not even trying to defend Shaw anymore, appearingly taking a step back and finally realizing that Shaw’s central thesis — that the political elites in Rome wouldn’t have known the term ‘Christian’ — is flawed, since Shaw required the term ‘Christian’ to be internalized to the local Christian community, but Jones demonstrated that it was actually an outer-designation. This means that Jones’ paper works and is correct, and refutes Shaw’s paper. Everything we’re discussing about Jones’ paper is peripheral to his main argument, meaning that again, if you were correct on every detail you go for against Jones, you would have failed to save Shaw.

        So, let me quickly talk about the ‘circular reasoning’ and then sum this up. Here is how I formulated the Jones’ argument in discussion;

        P1: Tacitus would only call the followers of Jesus ‘Christians’ if that was their designation
        P2: Tacitus does call them Christians
        C: Therefore, ‘Christians’ was their designation.

        Your response is something like “haha that’s still circular”, although it’s not circular as far as I’m reading it, since P1 can be established independently from C. The entire argument is meant to ask the following question: “If it was the case that ‘Christian’ wasn’t the designation of the followers of Jesus in the 60’s, then why would Tacitus be lead to identifying them as such?” This is a flat out valid question that needs an answer. Where did Tacitus go wrong?

        Secondly, I’m going to point out something very important. The entire claim is irrelevant. As I’ve demonstrated earlier, both Jones and Shaw agree that ‘Christians’ originated as a designation in the 40’s AD, making the entire accusation of circularity irrelevant, since of course, we know the designation was around. Shaw’s entire point was that the designation was internalized, which as I’ve noted earlier, Jones demonstrated is false. In other words, there’s absolutely no fruit in discussing the circularity here — I think it’s safe to presume that you’re misreading the argument in some way, and then concede that the argument is circular for the sake of discussion so we can move on from this irrelevant point. A problem you have is holding on to arguments that are irrelevant to the main point. Let’s move on.

        To sum this up, we’ve both seen Shaw’s central thesis fall apart in light of Jones’ criticisms, meaning his paper doesn’t work. In your most recent comment, you did not reply to my points on Romans 1:8. In this case, my earlier comments will suffice:

        Finally, let’s move on to Romans 1:8, where you repeat your old argument;

        “Refers to a number greater or equal to 2. It say absolutely nothing about what that number is.”

        This is flat out false, since Paul writing that to the Roman church that they have “proclaimed their faith to the whole world” implies a rather large number as far as I’m reading it. You then go on to say this is “using the Bible to prove the Bible” which is … false. This is using Paul’s letter to the Romans to corroborate a reference in Annals 15.44 to a large number of Christians in Rome. Unless Annals 15.44 is part of the Bible, this is not using the Bible to prove the Bible.

        Finally, there’s the use of the term ‘Chrestus’ and ‘Christus’ and ‘Christianos’ and ‘Chrestianos’ and all. Here is your argument;

        That is another lie from you. I quote my own post in the thread above which is there for all to see:
        “The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.”
        [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates_Chrestus]

        Beautifully, this is where the Killer Source comes into play (in just a second). First of all, my original challenge was for you to demonstrate the term ‘Chrestianos’ being used a single time in the entire first three centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus to refer to anything besides the Christians themselves. You greatly misunderstand, thinking that I asked for the use of ‘Christus’ instead. This is what I wrote earlier, copied and pasted:

        I don’t need to give any proof that ‘Christians’ refers to the followers of Jesus, since it’s an indisputable fact and you actually haven’t shown me a single instance in the entire first, second or third century after the birth of Jesus where ‘Christian’ referred to a single entity besides the followers of Jesus. Furthermore, if you really must have a ‘proof’, Tacitus writes that the Chrestianos was founded by Christus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. If you think that the Chrestianos are anything but the followers of Jesus in this passage, you’ve simply misunderstood what it says.

        Therefore, you still have not provided one example. Secondly, you also cannot provide a single example of ‘Christus’ being used within the first three centuries of the crucifixion of Jesus. All your examples aren’t first, second, or third century.

        But there’s a bigger problem.

        Indeed, this is where the Killer Source comes into play. For some reason, only God truly knows why, you keep saying ‘Chrestus’ instead of ‘Christus’, even though Tacitus never once wrote ‘Chrestus’, the manuscript clearly says ‘Christus’. According to the Killer Source, which is your very own source that you cited in the very beginning of our discussion, Erik Zara (author of the Killer Source) writes the following;

        For the sake of clarity, I will add that this particular manuscript of Annales does not contain
        the name Chrestus. No evidence of any alteration of the word “Christus” can be found in the ultraviolet photograph.

        That demonstrates one fabulous thing — the fact that none of your citations work. All your citations refer to the term ‘chrestos’, a Greek word which means “useful, gentle, pleasant, kind” according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary.

        [http://biblehub.com/greek/5543.htm]

        The word ‘chrestus’ is not the same as the name ‘Christus’ and cannot be conflated. There’s an even bigger problem for your arguments, though, regarding linguistics. The Greek word ‘chrestos’ is an adjective, whereas when Tacitus writes ‘Christus’, it’s a flat out proper noun. Here is the relevant portion of Annals 15.44 (I will highlight the important part):

        But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

        If it wasn’t obvious enough by itself that ‘Christus’ is used as a noun here, Tacitus FLAT OUT calls it a “name”! This means Tacitus in Annals 15.44 can’t be referring to the Greek adjective χρηστός. This is buttressed by pointing out the passage continues to say Christus was crucified by Pontius Pilate. Just because I have time for some humor, I will actually quote Annals 15.44 using your translation instead, LOL:

        Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Gentle, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus

        I guess that settles that.

        2. Population

        Here, almost right away, you draw a false equivalency between Stark’s work and your own “model”:

        “You have no idea of what you speak. Stark uses an exponential growth model. So do I.”

        This is a false equivalency between your own work and Stark’s. No one is claiming that exponential growth models are invalid. The claim that is being made is the fact that the only consensus drawn by Stark’s work is that you don’t need instantaneous mass conversion in order for Christians to achieve a population of ~10 million by 300 AD. Stark’s work absolutely does not give arise to any consensus on the Christian population being 10,000-15,000 by 64 AD. I’ve already demonstrated that under a very realistic scenario, there could have been 50,000 Christians by 64 AD. With only 1,000 conversions per year, the Christian population can hit 30,000 by 64 AD. In fact, even under the figure of 16,000 Christians by 64 AD, this would be more than enough to give rise for Nero executing some 5,000 Christians. A larger Christian population in the 60’s AD, as demonstrated earlier, is corroborated by Paul’s letter to the Romans.

        Finally, the last point I made in my previous comment is the following. Even if you were magically successful in arguing for a 15,000 population by 64 AD (which as I’ve shown earlier would be entirely consistent with the Neronian persecution anyways), that would demonstrate absolutely nothing besides that Tacitus made an error regarding the size of the Christian population in the 60’s AD. This wouldn’t even give the smallest indication of forgery, meaning your entire argument regarding population collapses.

        3. Tertullian and Josephus

        Because Tertullian is getting way to good here, I’ll start by commenting on Josephus first. First of all, something that befuddled me is the fact that I’ve never cited Josephus before, but you keep on mentioning him as if you’re trying to prove something. Every once in a while, I basically point out that “scholars agree that XVIII.3.3 is a partial interpolation, not a forgery”, yet you continue annoying me about the supposed forgery located here. I’ve tried to keep away from discussing Josephus since he’s a completely separate issue that mythicists have to dance around, but I’ve concluded that my comments on Josephus will be useful here. Before I comment, of course, I will first quote you:

        “There is no reference to Jesus being crucified by Pilate except in a passage in Josephus which a consensus of historians acknowledge as being forged – in whole or in part.”

        When you say “whole or in part”, you seem to have gotten the que that it’s only a partial interpolation, but you keep calling it a ‘forgery’ for some magical reason. A forgery is not the same thing as an interpolation. A forgery is when an entire text is flat out fake, whereas an interpolation is when a text has only been slightly doctored in some way. A partial interpolation is what we have for Josephus. In fact, if you remove the obviously interpolated parts of Josephus out, it reads like something exactly Josephus would say. First, I’ll quote Josephus and highlight the obviously interpolated part, and then I’ll quote Josephus without including the interpolated parts and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Interpolated:

        Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man; if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross; those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again, the third day: as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

        And here is the text without the interpolations:

        Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross; those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

        See? Reads very nicely. In fact, if that wasn’t good enough on its own, a discovery in the 1970’s actually was the cause for why the opinions of Josephan scholars moved to labeling this as a partial interpolation, because we now have textual evidence that there was a different form of this passage circulating by at least the 10th century (earlier than the earliest Josephan manuscript). Agapius, a 10th century Arab Christian quoted the testimonium flavium, and the the parts “if it be lawful to call him a man” and “he was the christ” are entirely absent from his quotation (although the resurrection part is still there). In other words, this sums up my points on Josephus. I’m not going to cite Josephus for the sake of keeping our responses from becoming disastrously long — all I plan on doing with these aforementioned points is explaining that this cannot be called a forgery, we must call it an interpolation, and why it is an interpolation rather than a forgery.

        Then, Tertullian. In your previous response, you demonstrated that Tertullian was literally flat out familiar with the histories of Tacitus, which I think buttressed the evidence for my argument beyond debate. In fact, I think my previous point is so strong that I’ll just quote it instead of re-articulating it:

        So, not only do we know that Tertullian told the Romans to “Consult your histories” to find record of Nero’s persecution of the Christians and the fact that Tacitus, at this time, was the only Roman historian to have written about the Neronian persecution in one of their works, but we further know that Tertullian was entirely familiar with the writings of Tacitus, so as to demonstrate with virtual certainty that Tertullian was citing Tacitus.

        In my opinion, this point is enough to single-handedly end our entire discussion. Since it was so utterly powerful, I predicted that you either wouldn’t respond, or that your response would be unfathombly weak. It appears as though you responded in an unfathomably weak manner;

        “Tertullian does not cite Tacitus description of the persecution of Christians after the conflagration of Rome, in any work he ever wrote. This is obvious because there isn’t anything from Tacitus disputed passage to be found in Tertullian writing. This is acknowledge by all scholars in this field and by anyone comparing the texts.”

        This is basically saying “Tertullian didn’t explicitly mention Tacitus or explicitly quote his works on the Neronian persecution.” But that’s not enough. Tertullian told the Romans to “Consult your histories” in order to find the Neronian persecution. That necessarily means that Tertullian is using some Roman source, that he doesn’t explicitly identify, to get his information on the Neronian persecution. As we know, Tacitus is the only Roman source at this point to mention the Neronian persecution. And in fact, your very own argument is DEPENDENT on Tacitus being the only Roman historian to mention the Neronian persecution. This is what you wrote;

        “Not a single Christian writer ever say that Nero punished the Christians for the burning of Rome until Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century. Not a single thing in that Tacitus passage which refers to Christianity is verified by any contemporary sources.”

        LOL!!!

        In other words, Tertullian is using a Roman source for his information on the Neronian persecution, Tacitus is the ONLY Roman source to mention the Neronian persecution, AND, you have proven that Tertullian was personally familiar with the works of Tacitus. I guess that blows mythicism, the view that Annals 15.44 is fake, and all your other positions out of the water. It’s also remarkable to me how I’ve nearly entirely fashioned this argument of mine based on your own points.

        4. Arguments for/against interpolation

        The most important thing to do is first quote my yet to be refuted arguments in favor of authenticity, and then deal with your responses;

        1) The passage is contained in our only manuscript and there’s no reason to think it was never there
        2) The passage reads just like Tacitus always reads
        3) There would have been no function in forging the passage since we have no evidence that its contents were ever debated by Christians or non-Christians
        4) The passage is overwhelmingly insulting against Christians, making it inconceivable for a Christian to write it

        Moving on, we can continue to add more reasons that I have recently discovered.

        5) If Annals 15.44 is an interpolation, that would literally make it the longest interpolation in ancient history. Not a single other interpolation in ancient history is remotely as long, which would means your claim would require an anomaly.
        6) Furthermore, as I’ve noted earlier, when Tertullian talks about the Neronian persecution, he tells the Romans to “Consult your histories”. So, what is the only Roman source antecedent to Tertullian to mention Nero’s persecution of Christians? Tacitus. Therefore, Tertullian was almost certainly referring to Tacitus

        You seemingly completely sidestep points 3 and 4, and as we’ve seen earlier, your remarks on 6 have been vigorously refuted. In other words, all I need to do now is comment on your latest remarks. Let’s start with Robert Taylor, where you say:

        “So first off, that is your opinion – not that of historians, right? But it doesn’t matter as the claim I was refuting was your claim that -“Annals 15.44 reads just like Tacitus writes literally everywhere else,…” which clearly is not the case as someone has already remarked on this, which was to be shown.”

        No, it isn’t my opinion that Taylor has zero qualifications in Classics, Roman History, or any form of history in the first place. And as I’ve further noted earlier, Taylor was a 19th century radical, making him an invalid citation. As I’ve remarked earlier, if his claims had any validity whatsoever, you would have been able to produce a citation from an actual Roman historian, a contemporary one in fact, who makes the same point. But the bigger problem is this — you seem to think that Taylor is somehow this neutral observer on this issue and that we can take his comments with more than a grain of salt. But we can’t, since Taylor had an enormous axe to grind against Christianity. Taylor was a radical anti-clergyman, spent most of his career disparaging Christianity, and wrote a whole book against Christianity while he was in jail. Furthermore, he was a mythicist, thought Christianity was a pagan emanation, and believed that the Gospels were produced by Egyptians in 250 BC, LOL. I mean, if TAYLOR out of all people doesn’t constitute a failure of a citation, I don’t know what does. You, out of all people I’ve recently talked to, should know this, since according to yourself, you’ve published 60 papers in the natural sciences. In other words, imagine the following scenario. You’re the editor of some scientific journal, Plos One or something. Someone submits a paper to be published arguing that evolution is wrong, and to prove his point, he cites a 19th century creationist paper written before Darwin published his theory of evolution. That’s an invalid citation if you’ve ever seen one, and the day that paper gets published is the day you’re going to resign from the editorial board of Plos One. Understand that? Good, if you do understand that, then you’re not going to be pursuing Robert Taylor anymore out of all people.

        Anyways, you do make a good point, that it appears to be “my opinion” that Annals 15.44 reads as Tacitus always reads. This is technically true to some degree (I can’t help but remember I’ve read it somewhere before). However, the only reason I ever made this argument is because you tried to argue against Annals 15.44 is too “polished” to be authentic, whatever that meant. I then pointed out Tacitus ALWAYS writes super polished, and to that effect, I thus adduced this argument that Annals 15.44 reads like Tacitus always reads (since he’s always polished, and we would expect a later Christian forger to not be able to write like Tacitus does, yet your claim would require he did somehow do this).

        Anyhow, let’s move on. As I’ve noted earlier, if Annals 15.44 was 100% interpolated, that would literally the longest interpolation in scribal history. To refute this, you mistake the difference between an interpolation contained within a text and a forged text in general:

        “You have tons of them who are longer. Just look at all the books and epistles which have been rejected as “non-canonical” (read FAKES). Making fake Christian artefacts was rampant in the 13th to 15th century.
        [https://ehrmanblog.org/it-has-arrived-forgery-and-counterforgery-in-early-christian-polemics/]”

        I’m well aware that there are some totally fake writings in general (I’ve read some of them), but that’s different. A pseudonymous text is not the same as an interpolation, to what I’m describing. I’m saying that if Annals 15.44 was totally interpolated into Tacitus, that would make it the longest interpolation in scribal history, which means your entire case depends on an anomaly. Of course, pseudonymous texts aren’t interpolations. Those are completely different. I’m talking about actual interpolations within texts. Such as the testimonium flavium. Obviously, fake writings are not nearly as short as Annals 15.44, but Annals 15.44 is significantly longer than any other interpolated text around — ever. Therefore, your claim is still dependent on an anomaly.

        Finally, you say a bunch of stuff like “contemporary historians don’t mention this” or “contemporary historians don’t mention that”, which as I’ve demonstrated, is utterly irrelevant. Many major figures of the ancient past, such as Arminius, Hannibal and Pythagoras have flat out zero contemporary attestations to them. Most events of ancient history in general have not a single contemporary mention to them. The vast majority of major earthquakes from antiquity were never cited once. So, as I’ve remarked earlier, most ancient events are mentioned one time. The Neronian persecution is mentioned by one independent source (Tacitus — all later sources, like Tertullian, Melito, Eusebius, Sulpicius, etc were based off of his account), which means that in this scenario, we have just as much attestation for the Neronian persecution as we have for just about every other ancient event. The entire Peleponnese Wars, which were utterly enormous in Greece, every single one of them, is only mentioned by a SINGLE independent account, Thucydides (all later accounts were based off of his work). The Peloponnese Wars were vastly more significant than the Neronian persecution, which only produced several thousand martyrs at best. This precisely shows that one account is enough, and to complain that “more accounts” aren’t present is special pleading against every single major ancient event or figure to only be mentioned in one account (which would include many, many kings from the ancient world, even pharaohs). If those don’t require more then one citation, it would be special pleading to say the Neronian persecution does. I guess the best way to articulate my thoughts here would be to refer you to this fantastic video;

        Anyways, those are my points in this latest response. I’ll continue to see which ones you continue debating against and which ones you’ll agree with.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (2) Population

        >”Stark does not use the model you’re using, otherwise you would have been able to provide a specific citation to his important monograph. ”

        You have no idea of what you speak. Stark uses an exponential growth model. So do I. I state clearly that I used different initial values for the population and a different starting point in time, which would lead to a larger population than Starks. The reason I didn’t refer to it initially was because I wasn’t aware of the book but that doesn’t matter as we use the same model – which is a standard model used in regards to many forms of population growth in all of science. Which you would know if you knew maths or science.

        So again go back to school and learn some science and maths.

        As a footnote I find it amusing that you know what any of the authors thought about things. Tell me how do you contact them? Have you written to any of them?

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (2) continued

        I’m just highlighting this to show any reader that you have absolutely no idea about this topic.

        >”When I wrote 2-4% per year, I only meant this as a range where the average annual Christian growth would fall in, were there to be some ~10 million Christians by 300 AD, and in fact this range is correct. Secondly, I remarked that even if this was the average annual growth for the Christian population, that wouldn’t make it linear.”

        I have stated from the very beginning, the very first post, that this is an exponential growth…. But apparently you do not know what that is, do you? You need to talk to your maths teacher and get this explained to you.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        Yes I did reply to this but that comment is apparently awaiting moderation. I try again

        (3)

        >”You claim that it has been “proven” that ‘Chrestos’ and ‘Chrestianos’ were used before Christianity, despite failing to provide a shred of evidence for the claim.”

        That is another lie from you. I quote my own post in the thread above which is there for all to see:

        “The Greek word Chrestos [χρηστός] means “fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good” . It appears in ancient Greek sources such as those of playwright Sophocles (497/6-406/5 BCE), who discusses ὁ χρηστὸς, “the good man…” We also have Socrates Chrestus who dies around 90 BCE. And the term “Chrestos” was used to describe slaves.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates_Chrestus

        You are clearly a very dishonest person and quite likely an internet-troll.
        ****
        Then you yet again go back to the passage claiming it has to be true because it say all these things that fit with a Christian narrative. That is exactly what you would expect from an interpolation written centuries later.

        If it was original you would expect Christians to have used the passage before the 15th century. especially those Christian authors that cites Tacitus and also want proof for the Christian history and Christian mythos. But none of them do so. That speaks *against* it being a true passage because we have no verification of it.

        Does the passage contain things that contradict other historians of the time?
        Yes it does. Not a single contemporary historian ever mention the persecutions of Christians for the conflagration of Rome. Even Historians we know was in Rome at that time, like Josephus who was in Rome in 64CE. Not a single Christian writer ever say that Nero punished the Christians for the burning of Rome until Sulpicius Severus in the 5th century. Not a single thing in that Tacitus passage which refers to Christianity is verified by any contemporary sources. There is no reference to Jesus being crucified by Pilate except in a passage in Josephus which a consensus of historians acknowledge as being forged – in whole or in part. There are no conformation of the treatment described for the executions of Christians by any contemporary writer despite this being claimed as “new” in the text. AND NOTE, there are no Christians sources reporting on this either, even those that wrote extensively on Christian martyrdom. Why are everyone in the world silent of this except Sulpicius Severus, 400 years later?
        ****
        >”The problem here is that this claim by you [3 years of Tacitus are missing]… simply doesn’t make sense. Seriously, I can’t make out the reasoning here that you’re using to conclude the passage has been tampered with. ”

        It shows very clearly that the text has been tampered with. Large chunks of it has been removed by someone at some point. Thus we cannot state that we know that the text is pristine and that it can be trusted.
        ****
        >”Taylor was an early 19th century fringe scholar and, as far as I’m concerned, has zero qualifications in classics, Roman history, or any history in general…”

        So first off, that is your opinion – not that of historians, right? But it doesn’t matter as the claim I was refuting was your claim that -“Annals 15.44 reads just like Tacitus writes literally everywhere else,…” which clearly is not the case as someone has already remarked on this, which was to be shown.

        But in regards to the Latin it was enough to get John Wilson Ross who compared “Annals” with “History” to think the former being a complete fake.

        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9098/9098-8.txt

        *****
        >”Something you appear not to understand about the ancient historical record is … it’s very small.

        No I know this very well as I’m used to do very long reference studies whenever I publish things about science which also contains history. That is why I’m not impressed with your claims about this source and also about the claims of Christianity in regards to Jesus. There is no external evidence verifying it.
        ****
        >” This is why Roman historians all agree Nero persecuted Christians — ”

        No they don’t. There is not a single contemporary Roman Historian of that time that mentions Nero persecuting Christians for the burning of Rome. Give the name you claim do this.
        ****
        >”If Annals 15.44 is an interpolation, that would literally make it the longest interpolation in ancient history. Not a single other interpolation in ancient history is remotely as long.”

        You have tons of them who are longer. Just look at all the books and epistles which have been rejected as “non-canonical” (read FAKES). Making fake Christian artefacts was rampant in the 13th to 15th century.

        https://ehrmanblog.org/it-has-arrived-forgery-and-counterforgery-in-early-christian-polemics/

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        I have replied to your point 3 but that is “awaiting moderation”

      • Awaiting moderation? Right now I’m waiting for your responses. Here’s what you need to do since I don’t want to wait so long. Obviously, your comment is awaiting moderaiton because you put 2 or more links in it (or something). So, I’ll fix this for you. Consider the link;

        http://www.google.com

        This is a link. WordPress will detect that. But if you put [ and ] around the link, WordPress will never detect the link. So, copy and paste your reply to point 3, expect put [ and ]’s around each link so it appears as follows;

        [http://www.google.com]

        WordPress can’t detect that. To prove it, I’ll enter in a bunch of links in this response and it’ll never enter moderation.

        [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/south-koreas-defense-minister-raises-the-idea-of-bringing-back-tactical-us-nuclear-weapons/2017/09/04/7a468314-9155-11e7-b9bc-b2f7903bab0d_story.html]

        [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/04/texas-continues-harvey-recovery-efforts-as-hurricane-irma-looms-in-the-atlantic/]

        There. Just copy and paste your response to point 3 and put [ and ] around the link’s.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        >”So, not only do we know that Tertullian told the Romans to “Consult your histories” to find record of Nero’s persecution of the Christians and the fact that Tacitus, at this time, was the only Roman historian to have written about the Neronian persecution in one of their works, but we further know that Tertullian was entirely familiar with the writings of Tacitus, so as to demonstrate with virtual certainty that Tertullian was citing Tacitus.”

        Ha ha ha! Okay you are done.

        Tertullian does not cite Tacitus description of the persecution of Christians after the conflagration of Rome, in any work he ever wrote. This is obvious because there isn’t anything from Tacitus disputed passage to be found in Tertullian writing. This is acknowledge by all scholars in this field and by anyone comparing the texts.

        There is no point continuing commenting here. Your utter dishonesty is becoming boring as are your made up ideas based on no historical evidence. Go back to school.

      • Lasse Norén permalink

        (2) > “I feel as though you’re misrepresenting of Rodney Stark in your comment. Indeed, what there is a ‘consensus’ about is not the specific population of Christians at all from Stark’s work. The consensus that the work of Stark established was that you don’t need a vast rate of mass conversions for the Christian population to be ~10-20% of the entire empire by 300 AD, because at a steady growth rate of 2-4% per year that can be achieved.”

        First off your claim that “Indeed, what there is a ‘consensus’ about is not the specific population of Christians at all … ” is a provable lie because that is what the whole book is about – addressing the population growth of Christians in the Roman Empire – specifically the Christians.

        Secondly, You clearly do not know maths!

        An exponential growth of 2% per year will (using the same numbers as before) get you 0.95 M Christians by 300 CE.

        An exponential growth of 4% per year will give you 163 M (roughly one hundred million people more than the *total population of the Roman empire* at 300 CE)

        Now here is the interesting thing: the population of Christians at 64 CE with a 2% growth is roughly 9 K, while the 4% growth per year will give you toughly 16 K. So no matter the ridiculous numbers you used we STILL GET HARDLY ANY CHRISTIANS IN THE WHOLE WORLD BY 64 CE.

        And it doesn’t matter what your “feelings are”, this is maths. Starks work shows that the Christian population follows an exponential just like I used which means he uses the same mathematical model as I did. This is accepted as a good model (which is what we expect because we know how population grows in other fields to. The fact that you do not have a secondary school mathematics skills doesn’t change that fact. Your ignorance is no excuse. Back to school you go.

        I’m not going to bother with the crazy and unsupported figures you throw around at the end of this point. You clearly have no idea of what you are talking about (and it’s also contrary to the consensus that the population growth is a simple exponential – as long as we haven’t reach saturation whihc of course we cannot have even according to your own quote above).

  5. bob lackey permalink

    To me Lasse the burden on the early church fathers was not to show Jesus existed but that he was the Messiah. The glaring part of the Tacitus passage to me was Pilate’s title “procurator” while most experts say it was “prefect”. But Richard Carrier who doubts Jesus even lived as a human being, argues that Pilate was both prefect and procurator. I wrote to him about this and he informed me he was the one with the PhD in ancient history. So I bowed out.

    Josephus also has a gap of about 1,000 years between the original and the oldest extant copies. I can see how one could doubt anything in either. And much of Tacitus including his work that would cover the time of Jesus, Paul, John the Baptist, Peter etc is lost and not extant. So who knows.

  6. Micjael permalink

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
    Psalms 14:1 KJV

    • Thanks for the comment. Not quite sure how it is relevant to the post. Thanks

    • “Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” [Madalyn Murray O’Hair] -I can write quotes too 😉

  7. Lasse Norén permalink

    I found an article by Rodney Stark in regards to the “Growth of Christianity” [1] In that article he goes through the maths and as expected have much lower numbers than I in regards to the populations of Christians. According to him there would have been 7,530 Christians in total in the world by the year 100 CE. Using his starting value and point in time (1000 people at the year 40 CE) and growth-rate (3.42% per year) we get a total of 2,241 Christians in the whole world by the year 64 CE roughly one fifth of what I got but then again I started with 5,000 and placed that starting point 5 years earlier than Stark – and clearly stated that my values would have been higher than Starks.

    For the mathematically illiterate, Stark and I have use the very same model – which is a simple exponential growth model – which anyone with secondary school mathematics would know.

    x(t) = x0 × (1 + r)^t

    The character “Scientific Christian” is thus provably lying when he/she states the following:

    >”“You have no idea of what you speak. Stark uses an exponential growth model. So do I.”

    This is a false equivalency between your own work and Stark’s. ”

    *No the model is identical – the starting values and growth-rate are not.
    ———-
    >”Stark’s work did not provide a “consensus” for some 10 thousand Christians during the Neronian persecution, otherwise, Brent Shaw would have used this work …”

    * Another provable lie; as Stark calculate the Christians population both for year 50 CE (1,400) and for 100 CE (7,530). So Stark (as stated many times) get a value LOWER than the 10,000 or so calculated by me For reasons already stated.
    ———–
    >” Shaw didn’t use Stark’s work precisely because it provides nothing that you purport it does, and you appear to be the only person who thinks it does.”

    Another provable lie as shown in the article referenced below.
    ————

    So to use Starks own numbers. The Christian population world wide was miniscule by 64 CE! Which means that the reference in Tacitus about an “immense multitude” of “Chrestiani” being tried and killed (a claim not supported by any historians or writers of the time) does not agree with expected population trends for “Christians”. These population trends are now widely ACCEPTED – and Stark in his article also give references to many historians who agree that the Christians population would have to have been very low in the first century or so:

    “Progress must have seemed terribly slow during the first century—the projected total is only 7,530 by 100. There was a greater increase in numbers by the middle of the second century, but still the projection amounts to only slightly more than 40,000 Christians. This projection is in extremely close agreement with Robert L. Wilken’s estimate of “less than fifty thousand Christians” at this time —”an infinitesimal number in a society comprising sixty million” (1984:31). Indeed, according to L. Michael White (1990:110), Christians in Rome still met in private homes at this time…”

    So if the Tacitus passage is partially genuine (which I personally doubt as it fits the passage of “Sulpicius Severus” way too well) then the “Chrestiani” talked about are not Christians as the one thing we can check (expected populations growth of Christians) does not agree with what is stated in the Tacitus passage. All other stamens of history is either unsupported by contemporary writers or contradicted by them.

    The gruesome retelling of how Christians were killed by Nero after the fire. Is contradicted by Suetonius who stated that Nero didn’t punish people for the fire, even those that made fun of him were only exiled.

    The only extra-biblical references to a Trial of “Jesus” under Tiberius is from an acknowledged pious forgery. Pontius Pilate did exist but there are no Roman or Jewish records of him putting any Jesus on trial.

    Reference

    [1] https://www.humanscience.org/docs/Stark (1996) Rise of Christianity 1-2.pdf

  8. Awesome article and comments discussion! From all I’ve researched so far on the Tacitus passage, I see it as suspect and not very reliable as an independent witness for Jesus granted its textual history and other similar accounts to which it relates, or lack thereof.

  9. SoMuchWin permalink

    Apparently ‘Scientific Christian’ may be a metonym for ‘Meticulous Fabricator’; of course, unsurprising considering the overall history of the church.

    Of course the biblical Jesus existed, after all, we’ve discovered a questionable document written in an unrelated epoch, without reference to contemporary Government records, which naturally is referenced by later biased literature, some of which are pious forgeries, which therefore proves its authenticity!

    After-all, Steven Spielberg mentioned Hitler in Indiana Jones, therefore it proves the historicity of Nazi acquisition of the lost ark, for their evil ends; and since, of course, the Crystal Skull refrences Indiana Jones, logically this proves Indy single handedly defeated the Nazi plot!

    Those pesky primary sources, who needs em?

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