Dano Writes RRS Concerning Jesus

Rook_Hawkins's picture
Posts: 1322
Joined: 2006-02-11
User is offlineOffline
Dano Writes RRS Concerning Jesus

Dano sent the RRS a letter asking us about Jesus and if we knew certain things - like Josephus and Tacitus. Below is my reply.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists. Books by Rook Hawkins (Thomas Verenna)

Rook_Hawkins's picture
Posts: 1322
Joined: 2006-02-11
User is offlineOffline
Hello Dano, my name is Rook

Hello Dano, my name is Rook Hawkins.  I'm the RRS ancient texts expert and I'm more then willing to answer your questions.


First, let me direct you to the Jesus Mythicist Campaign forum located Here: http://www.rationalresponders.com/forums/rook_hawkins/the_jesus_mythicist_campaignYou'll find answers to most of these questions you raise there, but I'll also do you the favor of replying to your claims in this e-mail.  I still suggest you check that forum out to get a better understanding of the misinformation about Jesus and the lack of evidence for his existence.

>>> Finally, a few quick questions to be answered by any who care to. (These may have been dealt with before in this forum, but, hey, I'm new here.) Did Jesus exist as a person in history? <<<
It's highly improbably (about less then 1%) that Jesus existed as a person in History.

>>> Did he have followers? <<<
People originally followed a spiritual "revealer" of certain truths about the mystery of God - they called this being "The Annointed Savior" or "Jesus Christ."  You can check out some of the threads in that link to get more information concerning this subject. 

>>> Have you read the writings of Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus? He records the crucifixion of Jesus under Pilate and Nero's persecution of Christians. He was not a Christian. <<<
I've read him, but you're quite incorrect.  Allow me to explain why such comments are misinformation.Tacitus: "But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince, nor the propitiations of the gods succeeded in destroying the belief that the fire had been purposely lit. In order to put an end to this rumor, therefore, Nero laid the blame on and visited with severe punishment those men, hateful for their crimes, whom the people called Christians. He from whom the name was derived, Christus, was put to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, checked for a moment, broke out again, not only in Judea, the native land of the monstrosity, but also in Rome, to which all conceivable horrors and abominations flow from every side, and find supporters. First, therefore, those were arrested who openly confessed; then, on their information, a great number, who were not so much convicted of the fire as of hatred of the human race. Ridicule was passed on them as they died; so that, clothed in skins of beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or committed to the flames, and when the sun had gone down they were burned to light up the night. Nero had lent his garden for this spectacle, and gave games in the Circus, mixing with the people in the dress of a charioteer or standing in the chariot. Hence there was a strong sympathy for them, though they might have been guilty enough to deserve the severest punishment, on the ground that they were sacrificed, not to the general good, but to the cruelty of one man." (Annals XV, 44)

It would be utterly ridiculous to use this, but still, some do.

  • (1) It is extremely improbable that a special report found by Tacitus had been sent earlier to Rome and incorporated into the records of the Senate, in regard to the death of a Jewish provincial, Jesus. The execution of a Nazareth carpenter would have been one of the most insignificant events conceivable among the movements of Roman history in those decades; it would have completely disappeared beneath the innumerable executions inflicted by Roman provincial authorities. For it to have been kept in any report would have been a most remarkable instance of chance.
  • (2) The phrase "multitudo ingens" which means "a great number" is opposed to all that we know of the spread of the new faith in Rome at the time. A vast multitude in 64 A.D.? There were not more than a few thousand Christians 200 years later. The idea of so many just 30 years after his supposed death is just a falsehood.
  • (3) The use of the Christians as "living torches," as Tacitus describes, and all the other atrocities that were committed against them, have little title to credence, and suggest an imagination exalted by reading stories of the later Christian martyrs. Death by fire was not a punishment inflicted at Rome in the time of Nero. It is opposed to the moderate principles on which the accused were then dealt with by the State.
  • (4) The Roman authorities can have had no reason to inflict special punishment on the new faith. How could the non-initiated Romans know what were the concerns of a comparatively small religious sect, which was connected with Judaism and must have seemed to the impartial observer wholly identical with it.
  • (5) Suetonius says that Nero showed the utmost indifference, even contempt in regard to religious sects. Even afterwards the Christians were not persecuted for their faith, but for political reasons, for their contempt of the Roman state and emperor, and as disturbers of the unity and peace of the empire. What reason can Nero have had to proceed against the Christians, hardly distinguishable from the Jews, as a new and criminal sect?
  • (6) It is inconceivable that the followers of Jesus formed a community in the city at that time of sufficient importance to attract public attention and the ill-feeling of the people. It isn't the most popular way to convert and bring people into their religion.
  • (7) The victims could not have been given to the flames in the gardens of Nero, as Tacitus allegedly said. According to another account by Tacitus these gardens were the refuge of those whose homes had been burned and were full of tents and wooden sheds. Why would he risk burning these by lighting human fires amidst all these shelters?
  • (Cool According to Tacitus, Nero was in Antium, not Rome, when the fire occurred.
  • (9) The blood-curdling story about the frightful orgies of Nero reads like some Christian romance of the Dark Ages and not like Tacitus. Suetonius, while mercilessly condemning the reign of Nero, says that in his public entertainments Nero took particular care that no lives should be sacrificed, "not even those of condemned criminals."
  • (10) It is highly unlikely that he mingled with the crowd and feasted his eyes on the ghastly spectacle. Tacitus tells us in his life of Agricola that Nero had crimes committed, but kept his own eyes off them.
  • (11) Some authorities allege that the passage in Tacitus could not have been interpolated because his style of writing could not have been copied. But this argument is without merit since there is no "inimitable" style for the clever forger, and the more unususal, distinctive, and peculiar a style is, like that of Tacitus, the easier it is to imitate. Moreover, as far as the historicity of Jesus is concerned we are, perhaps, interested only in one sentence of the passage and that has nothing distinctively Tacitan about it.
  • (12) Tacitus is assumed to have written this about 117 A.D., about 80 years after the death of Jesus, when Christianity was already an organized religion with a settled tradition. The gospels, or at least 3 of them, are supposed to have been in existence. Hence Tacitus might have derived his information about Jesus, if not directly from the gospels, indirectly from them by means of oral tradition. This is the view of Dupuis, who wrote: "Tacitus says what the legend said." In 117 A.D. Tacitus could only know about Christ by what reached him from Christian or intermediate circles. He merely reproduced rumors.
  • (13) In no other part of his writings did Tacitus make the least allusion to "Christ" or "Christians." Christus was a very common name, as was Jesus, in fact Jospehus lists about 20 in the time Jesus was supposedly said to have existed.
  • (14) Tacitus is also made to say that the Christians took their denomination from Christ which could apply to any of the so-called Christs who were put to death in Judea, including Christ Jesus.
  • (15) The worshippers of the Sun-god Serapis were also called "Christians." Serapis or Osiris had a large following at Rome especially among the common people.
  • (18) The expression "Christians" which Tacitus applies to the followers of Jesus, was by no means common in the time of Nero. Not a single Greek or Roman writer of the first century mentions the name. The Christians who called themselves Jessaeans, Nazoraeans, the Elect, the Saints, the Faithful, etc. were universally regarded as Jews. They observed the Mosaic law and the people could not distinguish them from the other Jews. The Greek word Christus (the anointed) for Messiah, and the derivative word, Christian, first came into use under Trajan in the time of Tacitus. Even then, however, the word Christus could not mean Jesus of Nazareth. All the Jews without exception looked forward to a Christus or Messiah. It is, therefore, not clear how the fact of being a "Christian" could, in the time of Nero or of Tacitus, distinguish the followers of Jesus from other believers in a Christus or Messiah. Not one of the gospels applies the name Christians to the followers of Jesus. It is never used in the New Testament as a description of themselves by the believers in Jesus.
  • (19) Most scholars admit that the works of Tacitus have not been preserved with any degree of fidelity.
  • (20) This passage which could have served Christian writers better than any other writing of Tacitus, is not quoted by any of the Christian Fathers. It is not quoted by Tertullian, though he often quoted the works of Tacitus. Tertullian's arguments called for the use of this passage with so loud a voice that his omission of it, if it had really existed, amounted to a violent improbability.
  • (21) Eusebius in the 4th century cited all the evidence of Christianity obtained from Jewish and pagan sources but makes no mention of Tacitus.
  • (22) This passage is not quoted by Clement of Alexandria who at the beginning of the 3rd century set himself entirely to the work of adducing and bringing together all the admissions and recognitions which pagan authors had made of the existence of Christ Jesus or Christians before his time.
  • (23) Origen in his controversy with Celsus would undoubtedly have used it had it existed.
  • (24) There is no vestige or trace of this passage anywhere in the world before the 15th century. Its use as part of the evidences of the Christian religion is absolutely modern. Although no reference whatever is made to it by any writer or historian, monkish or otherwise, before the 15th century (1468 A.D.), after that time it is quoted or referred to in an endless list of works including by your supposed historian.
  • (25) The fidelity of the passage rests entirely upon the fidelity of one individual (first published in a copy of the annals of Tacitus in the year 1468 by Johannes de Spire of Venice who took his imprint of it from a single manuscript) who would have every opportunity and inducement to insert such an interpolation.
  • (26) In all the Roman records there was to be found no evidence that Christ was put to death by Pontius Pilate. If genuine, such a sentence would be the most important evidence in pagan literature. How could it have been overlooked for 1360 years?
  • (27) Richard Carrier explains that we are actually missing three years in Tacitus, "We are enormously lucky to have Tacitus--only two unrelated Christian monasteries had any interest in preserving his Annals, for example, and neither of them preserved the whole thing, but each less than half of it, nd by shear luck alone, they each preserved a different half. And yet we still have large gaps in it. One of those gaps is the removal of the years 29, 30, and 31 (precisely, the latter part of 29, all of 30, and the earlier part of 31), which is probably the deliberate excision of Christian scribes who were embarrassed by the lack of any mention of Jesus or Gospel events in those years (the years Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection were widely believed at the time to have occurred). There is otherwise no known explanation for why those three years were removed. The other large gap is the material between the two halves that neither institution preserved. And yet another is the end of the second half, which scribes also chose not to preserve (or lost through negligent care of the manuscript, etc.)."
  • (28) Suetonius doesn't mention this event in his histories.
  • (29) And lastly, the style of the passage is not consistent with the usually mild and classic language of Tacitus
>>>Of course you are aware of Flavius Josephus, the court historian for Emperor Vespasian who also records the crucifixion.<<<
I will list why Josephus is also not a dependable source (This is long, but worth the read):"At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified, and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day" (Antiquities 20:200)

  • Many problems abound here. Firstly, this is the Arabic translation of the text. Many consider this a more accurate translation, it does not in anyway change the fact that it is an interpolation. I'm using it to show that even if we ignore that faulty greek translation which is not as accurately translated, this passage STILL does not appear until 300 years later when Eusebius, in the 4th century, cited all the "evidences" of Christianity obtained from Jewish and pagan sources. Eusebius, who admitted to forging multiple works, as well as lying for the sake of his beliefs, as Gibbon recounts: "I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion"

    The text Gibbon speaks of is as follows:
      "But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young
      for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?

      'Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.' - d PLATO

      Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also
      thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction."
    (Chp. 31, Book 12 of Prae Paratio Evangelica).

  • Which is also verified by Robert Ingersoll, "The great religious historian, Eusebius, ingenuously remarks that in his history he carefully omitted whatever tended to discredit the church, and that he piously magnified all that conduced to her glory." Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 293"

  • Apparently Eusebius was the first to use this passage because it didn't exist during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The passage is not found in the early copies of Josephus. Are we to assume it magically appeared there? Please. If it had been authentic you would have heard more about the passage during the centuries prior when the early chruch fathers were struggling to gather any pagan articles on such a person as Jesus. Instead their silence is deadly to this argument.

  • The early Christian fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen were acquainted with Josephus' works they would have quoted this passage had it existed. Chrysostom often referred to Josephus and it's highly unlikely he would have omitted the paragraph had it been extant. Photius did not quote the text though he had three articles concerning Josephus and even expressly stated that Josephus, being a Jew, had not taken the least notice of Christ.

  • Neither Justin in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, nor Origen against Celsus ever mentioned this passage. Neither Tertullian nor Cyprian ever quoted Josephus as a witness in their controversies with Jews and pagans and Origen expressly stated that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not recognize Jesus as the messiah (Contra Celsum, I, 47). In Origen's own words, Contra Celsus, BOOK I., Chap XLVII :

    I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people[...]

  • The passage also interrupts the narrative. Immediately before it Josephus tells of a rising of the Jews due to bitter feeling at the conduct of Pilate, and its bloody suppression by the ruling power. The words immediately following the passage are: "Also about this time another misfortune befell the Jews" and we are told of the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius on account of the conduct of some of their compatriots. What is the connection between the reference to Jesus and these two narratives? That there must be some connection if Josephus wrote the passage about Jesus goes without saying in view of the character of the writer. Josephus was always careful to have a logical connection between his statements and from a rational standpoint there is no occasion whatever to put the passage about Jesus in the connection in which we find it.

  • It's so obvious, even the Catholic Encyclopedia states it as a forgery!

(The following is from a debate)

    "Festus was now dead, and Albinius was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some other, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Ant., Bk. 20.9).
    Also what about Josephus account of John the Baptist?

    Please, you honestly think this is something new? You can see where imaginations fly here, just like when reading the Talmud, one looks and see "Jesus" and immediately thinks it must be Jesus of Nazareth. (A very blind assertion as Jesus and James were very common names, as I showed above) Allow me to put you in your place once again.

    And please, if you're going to quote Josephus get the quote right, "...Astherefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was not dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned" (Antiquities, Josephus, 20.9).

    With respect to the "James, the brother of Jesus, the Christ" in Antiquities...

    James as a Forgery

    • Remember there are good reasons to suspect the passage by Josephus is another Christian interpolation...it also appeared only in Eusebius' work. Keep in mind, this is the same Eusebius who forged the works as stated above, as he was writing he had more then ample time to edit in this little bit.

    • The only usually undisputed allusion to Jesus in Josephus is actually only a passing reference in the context of the trial of James. James is identified, not as James son of (whoever) as one would normally expect but as brother of Jesus. While this passage is more likely to be authentic than the one above, it is not without problems. Origen knows and cites this passage, and is unaware of the Testimonium Flavianum above, providing some evidence for its presence in the Antiquities before its Christian reworking. On the other hand, Origen's version contains the unlikely addition in which Josephus also says that it is as punishment for the execution of James that Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed. The possibility suggests itself that even Origen's Josephus has undergone Christian reworking, simply of a different variety, in which, perhaps, the insulting Testimonium has been expunged, and James has been introduced as a pious Jewish hero."

    Who Was James?

    • James (the one mentioned by Paul as the bishop of Jerusalem) NEVER acknowledged Jesus as his "brother". Jesus NEVER acknowledged James as his "brother". The Gospel of Thomas, one of the gospels rejected by the framers of the Bible, tells us Jesus did not recognise James as his brother. One can see why they didn't consided the GofT to be "inspired by God"!

    • After the death of Jesus, when the Apostles scattered over the world, James the Lesser (St. James the Lesser/Just) remained behind as Bishop of Jerusalem. History supposedly has two accounts of the death of James the Lesser. According to Josephus, St. James was stoned to death in 62 A.D, but Hegesippus, a second century ecclestiastical historian, claims that James was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Pharisees and clubbed to death when the fall didn't kill him. (So just how was he killed? Who do you believe?)

    • The question is who was James? This is not a cut and dried issue among Christians. Was he a half-brother of Jesus? A cousin?, A "brother in spirit?" Jesus never claimed James as his "brother" nor did James ever claim to be Jesus's brother. So who the hell was "James," Christians don't agree!

    Which James?

    • There is a dirty little secret that Christians doesn't bother to tell you is that there are various theories about James and the brothers of Jesus, who they were , who their mother was , who their father was , what relation might they have had to the Twelve, and what sense one can make of the multiple persons named "James" in the N.T. In other words, some Christians have hinged their"proof" on a person whose identity and parentage are much disputed! You might say that the Bible's cup"runneth over with Jameses"(60 of them!)

    • What Christians have neglected to tell us is that there are many different theories exist pertaining to the brother of Jesus. Let's ignore the minor theories and go for the two major theories that dominate the Christian culture........

        The Eastern Theory vs The Western Theory

      • The eastern view maintains that Mary was a virgin not only at the time of the birth of Jesus, but remained so throughout her entire life. The bottom-line is that Joseph had the 4 alleged brothers with another woman prior to Mary and brought them to the marriage.

      • The western view is stricter because it claims that BOTH Mary and Joseph remained virgins throughout their entire lives. "These 'brothers' are merely cousins that seem to come onto the scene."

    • Of course Jesus may also have had half-brothers and half-sisters via Mary and Joseph, the most common assumption among Protestants. The point is that the Bible is NOT clear about the parentage of any siblings.

    Naming the Jameses
    • Let's keep it simple and concentrate on just 4 of these "Jameses" and use their "common" names to keep them straight. If you explore the literature you will come across the appellations for James:

      • 1) James the Great
      • 2) James the Lesser (Little)
      • 3) Jame the Just
      • 4) James, son of Alphaeus

    • Now the plethora of James is just one problem (I've only listed a minimum ) The second one is that the Catholic Church and many Protestant sects don't agree on just "who" the "Jameses" are! Now if you really want to know just how contentious the "James" situation is go here and read more scenarios of how Jesus came by a half-brother (a true blood-brother because Mary is hypothesized to have been married to or inpregnated out of wedlock by a number of different candidates for the father of "James&quotEye-wink:

    • Essays on James the Brother of Jesus

    • The real truth is that James, the alleged brother of Jesus is a shadowy figure of unknown and highly disputed pedigree (is he a cousin/brother, a step-brother, a true half-brother?). Realize what MacDowell et al have done is attached the historicality of another shadowy, disputed figure (Jesus) to that of an individual whose existence is not certain. He then uses a DISPUTED passage from Josephus as an extra-biblical source to claim that this James (a cousin/brother? or a step-brother, or is he a half-brother?) and Jesus are both true historical figures.
    • Read the case against the authenticity of the "James" passage

    • Here is what another historian says about the James passage:
      Josephus on Jesus

    There is also this to consider concerning the "James" Passage: (From another debate)
      For starters...I can read. It doesn't take a genius to read Josephus and see the conflicts. It doesn't take a scholar to read through Clement and others to see the errors and fallaices, contradictions and problems.

      Secondly, you haven't shown (or even partially addressed) which source is more reliable...but rather what some people feel would be most reliable. This doesn't clear up the problems within the sources. You completely skipped over all of my post and merely addressed this one point as if you could prove something. Once again, stating peoples opinions will get you nowhere in this debate. Clearing up the confusion will.

      I do not care what Lowder says, nor anybody else. You still have contradictions to mass through, and this is a huge error on your part. You ignored the problems at hand and tried to deceptively skip over them and rush into a topic you thought would better suit your needs. Unfortunately, things don't work like that. Here is my whole post again for you:

      gdon wrote:
      I'm replying here to a thread that Rook made in the Gnostics thread here.
      Rook_Hawkins wrote:
      Your arguments are as follows as far as I can see:
      1. Paul believed in a historical Christ yet is only said to have met James later in life, several years after his conversion. Further, ths passage on James has been disputed here, so it is hardly non-vague as to a literal or metaphorical reading (especially depending on which versions you use...only the Darby and one other version have it stated as "the Brother of Christ" while all others have it as "the lords brother" which can be taken more metaphorically. And the darby translation sucks when it comes to translations - atleast this is what McDowell and Stuart declare, as well as other apologetics and such.)

      Error: This is non-sequitor. Simply put: Paul never met Jesus so Paul can never be used as evidence for a Jesus as he is hearsay. The only passage which might oppose the hearsay is James, but as I discussed it;s shadowy and quite frankly if Paul met James he would not have disagreed with his teachings, as James was supposedly Jesus' brother! So if James had been the brother of Christ, and the apostle, Paul should have taken James' word for it directly. It would make more sense that James was NOT the brother of Jesus, and just another James (there are 60 James in the NT together, 59 minus this one. Which one was it?) after all it was a common name. And brother is used quite a lot to refer to a metaphorical brother. So no evidence here. Sorry.

      According to Josephus, James "the brother of Jesus, him called Christ". As Kirby says, if the reference is valid, it is enough to establish a prima facie case for the existence of a historical Jesus. Of course, this doesn't PROVE there was a historical Jesus, but, as Kirby says, it is reasonable evidence in terms of normal historical inquiry.

      We know THAT Josephus claims this to be the brother of Jesus, but how this relates to the Gospels is really vital here. If there were no NT then there would be no argument here about a historical Jesus. You want to prove that this proto-Jesus factor existed but ALL your sources are claiming a supernatural Gospel Jesus...and not this proto-Jesus who was just a man.

      You irrationally are trying to seek a Jesus that does not exist in literature by using the mythos of Jesus as a basis while pulling from sources that claim a mythos of Jesus existed. Celsus is the only one that has NOT seemed to use the mythos in his works, and Celsus wrote several decades AFTER Jesus' mythos was already construed emensely. So his construction of a proto-Jesus is merely that of decades of exaggeration and plays on words and hearsay and oral tradition. That's it. Lots of people alive today - intelligent people - think Jesus was real, and do so simply because the majority thinks so.

      Apparently mainstream thinking at the time of Celsus was that he was a real person, and Celsus would have felt no reason to debate that fact as his attacks on jesus lay squarely on the mythos personae which whether a proto-Jesus existed or not mattered little. HIS intent was not to disprove a proto-Jesus but instead to disprove the mythos that was erringly applied to this figure named Jesus.

      Once again...opinions do not push facts, merely push opinions.

      Further, the key phrasing in your statement is "IF." Quite frankly I don't see this vague reference that is still somewhat disputed as conclusive of anything. And I hope you agree.

      However if we're going to speculate, such as you are doing, lets look at the entire segment and do some constructive speculating.

        CHAPTER 9.


          1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, (23) who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.

      Would it not also be reasonable to assume that Jesus, son of Damneus, was given the High Priesthood because his brother James was killed unlawfully by Ananus? James and Jesus in the bolded passage are not known as to where they come from, what laws were broken, nor does it discribe who they were fathered by. In Jewish tradition and law, and as is common in Josephus' works, the fathers name is always mentioned to establish geneology, in fact, it also establishes bloodline. The very issue that it does not establish it at that particular point might be because he establishes later in the underlined text.

      It would also explain why the king replaces him a few years later due to the suspicious nature of the other preists in the Sanhedrin and what's this? He replaces him with another Jesus, son of Gamaliel. It woulkd seem almost as if the Jesus before was not as qualified as the other preists started distructing each other even to the point where they threw stones at one another.

      Further the statement in this translation, done by a Christian source, as it stated as "who was called Christ" instead of "who was called THE Christ." The absense of such a word bothers me, as if Josephus had felt people were talking about their savior, he might have considered to make this Christ stand out a bit more using "the" to accentuate oneness. Unfortunately that isn't implied so I have to go about reasonably to assume this Jesus, perhaps the son of Damneus, was called "the annoited" as he was given the High-Preisthood.

      MORESO, Josephus described Ananus, the High Priest responsible for the death of James in the Antiquities, as the following: "...a bold man in his temper, and very insolent."

      What's also worthy of note is that Josephus did not mention the death of James in his Jewish Wars, if he felt they were so important to mention them at all – and his description of Ananus in Wars is rather different to what is found in Antiquities of the Jews, describing him as: "...a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honour, of which he possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered."

      In fact, Josephus also wrote the following about Ananus in Wars: "I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city (Jerusalem), and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city."

      He seems to completely forget that the whole reason Ananus was removed from power was because James was supposedly slaughtered unjustly, and that was why Jesus, son of Damneus replaced him. To me this smacks of foul play. Now we have another question...why would such an important moment to whom Josephus considers to be a "venerable and very just man" be excluded from the another book with contents concerning the same man? This is not only a question, it's a refutation.

      It seems rather odd that as in one book he claims that Ananus was insolent, yet in another he attributes the very fall of the city to the death of Ananus. This should raise a few red flags as to something being "rotten in the state of Denmark." If not I would re-adjust your honesty measurement readings.

      To complete this point Ananus is said to have stolen the position as High-Preist and did things against the will of the people in the disputed passage, where in Wars he makes it quite clear his intent was to do nothing but the will of the people he cared about. Another glaring contradiction between these two accounts.

      It would also be noteworthy of the other forgery in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, passage 2:10 that was made into some sort of relevance to Acts 12:23. The authentic passage is in Antiquities 19:346.

      As for the other accounts of James' death, Eusebius' (260-340) History of the Church preserved the accounts of two early church fathers on the death of James:

        Clement of Alexandria (150-215) History of the Church 2:1:3-4

          "For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Savior, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem." But the same writer, in the seventh book of the same work, relates also the following things concerning him: "The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one. But there were two Jameses: one called the Just, who was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death with a club by a fuller, and another who was beheaded."

        Hegesippus (110-180) History of the Church 2:23:4-18

          "The manner of James' death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows: "James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James...[W]hen many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, 'We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christy We entreat thee to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we bear thee witness, as do all the people, that thou art just, and dost not respect per sons. Do thou therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position thou mayest be clearly seen, and that thy words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover.' The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have: confidence, forasmuch as the people are led, astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.' And he answered with a loud voice,' Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man ? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.' And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another,' We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.' And they cried out, saying, 'Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.' And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, ' Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.' So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, 'Let us stone James the Just.' And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, 'I entreat thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, 'Cease, what do ye? The just one prayeth for you. And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them."

      Does anybody notice any discrepencies in the commentaries on James' death? Go ahead...you can say it...we know. The problem many people take here is that A says one thing...B says two things, the one that matetrs contradicts A...and C says all three in one while contradicting both A and B in the process. The problem MOST people will make ehre to assume that C is the most correct as it incorporates all three supposed incidents into one. The problem is this is just unreasonable.

      The association to this could be made while using the "witness to a car accident" analogy. Person A says two people were in the car while person B says they say 3. If an officer were to go by the logic implied being used earlier, he would have to go with 3, because 3 is a higher variable, and therefore probably the most right. Right? Wrong. What if person B saw a shadow? Or what if they were just lying? What if Person A and B were both lying, or both miscounted? It's hard to say, and thus we have to rely on outside sources to verify the claims. Unfortunately, the officer has the ability to actually count heads of the cars involved in the accident, and we do not get that luxery. So we are greatly dependant on reliable sources for which none exist, leaving this scenario of ours - James' death - a complete and utter bag of vagueness and inconsistency.

      Some people might take Josephus' account to be the more accurate, as the dating of the siege in Josephus is more accurate historically. The problem here is just because historical information is reliable in the same section as one that is being tested does not make the tested subject any more reliable. It just makes things more complicated. And complication is something you don't want nor need when trying to acquire the validity of a source. Especially a source which, as stated earlier, had trends that include sloppyness, vagueness and a faulty distribution of names, numbers and data. Especially when we have another factor involved - copiest errors - which throws the whole schmeal into a larger pile of complicated ooze that has to be sifted through, and for which no sifting materials exist.

      So here we are. Which account is most accurate and which account is most likely?

      Personally, it would seem more likely that the error in all this is the person who copied the texts. It is easy, when the works were included in the TF, and when Eusebius already had the works of Clement and Hegesippus around to snippit in a few works here and there that made their accounts appeal more to tradition. Why not, when the man himself had already done so earlier? Once more...vagueness. Uncertainty. Contradiction. Misinterpretation. Reformulation. Words that devise and detail the flaws in using the TF, or any references from Josephus to a proto-Jesus simply do not work out well for those using them.
>>>Are you aware of Thallus? His writing date to circa 52 A.D. and a passage on Jesus was contained in Thallus' work on the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to 52 A.D. Thallus noted that darkness fell on the land at the time of the crucifixion. He wrote that such a phenomenon was caused by an eclipse. <<<
No, my son, it did not.  Here is why Thallus is a problem:
    From Bede's apologetic web site :
    The two sources are Thallus (quoted by Julius Africanus in about 220 AD) who wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean in about 50 AD. He mentions the darkness and calls it an eclipse of the sun. This is astronomically impossible as an eclipse cannot take place at a full moon. Another source, Phlegon from around 80 AD, also mentions the darkness, saying it took place at a full moon during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Origen and Africanus quote him.

    • 1. Be aware that we don't have Thallus' writings, only comments from Julius Africanus in the 3rd Century CE. The earliest manuscript of Africanus' work was done by George Syncellus in the 9th Century CE.
    • 2. Julius goes on to criticise him for saying this because a solar eclipse is impossible during a full moon. Even Bede (a Christian apologist) notes this is impossible because an eclipse can't take place during a full moon. For more on the dynamics of solar eclipses go HERE. However there was an eclipse in November of 29 CE, which may have been the one that Thallus referred to. Note the date of the only recorded solar eclipse occurred 4 years PRIOR to the date Christians give for the death of Jesus.
      Both (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html) F.Jacoby and R.T.France note that this does NOT in any way prove Thallus mentioned Jesus at all - it seems that it was Julius, nearly 2 centuries after Thallus alleged wrote about it, who made the connection.
    • 3. The supposed identification of Thallus depends entirely on a misreading of Josephus, which even the author F.F.Bruce admits is "doubtful. Dr. R.T.Frances (a conservative Christian) also rejects this dating of Thallus.
    • 4. Josephus mentions .. "allos Samareus genos" which has to be amended to read "Thallos" to support this identification. All Josephus mentions is that "Thallos" loaned money to Agrippa. This is very non-specific because even if Josephus had said "Thallos", there is no way to be sure that this is in fact the historian Thallus because during that time Thallos was a common name (the "which Thallus? problem&quotEye-wink

    Remember that we are looking for historians who mention Jesus to confirm that a historical personage existed BUT:
    1. Thallus (even if we had any of his work which no longer exists) does NOT mention Jesus, only that a "darkness occurred).
      • Also remember that Julius who supposedly mentions Thallus' report characterizes it as a solar eclipse which could not have possibly occurred on the date in question because of full moon.
      • The only documented solar elipse even close in both time and place to the time/place of Jesus' death occurred in November 24, 29 CE, a date PRIOR to the time given by Christians (33 CE)
    You can also check out what Richard Carrier says on Thallus here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html

    >>> Was he buried?  Did he ries from the dead? <<<
    Neither.  He never lived.  Read Richard Carrier's three chapters in The Empty Tomb.  Also check out the link to the Mythicist forum I sent you.

    >>> Are you aware that Jesus (Yeshua) is also spoken of in the Talmud? <<<
    Again, this is simply false.  Go to this link to see all the supposed evidences for Jesus you listed, including the Talmud: http://www.atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?t=3275

    >>> Did any of Jesus' followers spread the teachings of Jesus?  Were any of his followers killed for spreading his teachings?  Was the dead body of Jesus ever found? Would that not be the easiest way to expose Jesus as a fraud? Would it make sense to die for a teaching the apostles knew was false, i.e. the resurrection of Jesus? Especially if they knew his body could be uncovered? (Nope. There is his body, right in the tomb where you left him.) Would the "creators" of a religion (Christianity) describe themselves in cowardly and derogatory ways in their primary text (Peter as betrayor, Paul as a murderer, the other apostles as cowards, etc.)? <<<
    You sound like you just came from JP Holdings website.  Richard Carrier wrote an Online book that answers all your concerned questions concerning this paragraph - or whatever you want to call it.  WAS CHRISTIANITY TOO IMPROBABLE TO BE FALSE: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/Hope this helps.  Any other questions, please write me back and check out the forum.The best,Rook

    Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists. Books by Rook Hawkins (Thomas Verenna)

    American Atheist
    American Atheist's picture
    Posts: 1324
    Joined: 2006-09-03
    User is offlineOffline
    What about mine?

    What about mine?

    Rook_Hawkins's picture
    Posts: 1322
    Joined: 2006-02-11
    User is offlineOffline
    I promise I'll get to it in

    I promise I'll get to it in a bit, I had to step out and already had the answers to this persons questions - just needed to copy them over.  Yours will take a bit more time to work on then this.  =)  It will get done.




    Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists. Books by Rook Hawkins (Thomas Verenna)

    American Atheist
    American Atheist's picture
    Posts: 1324
    Joined: 2006-09-03
    User is offlineOffline
    Thanks! But I hate that

    Thanks! But I hate that "out of context" crap they bring up.