Silent historians

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A depiction of the "silent historians" phenomena, namely that 40-60% of modern people "believe" Jesus existed as a real person, in c.20AD, yet "real" historians of this period, e.g. Seneca the Younger (4BC-65AD), Pliny the Elder (23-79AD), and Plutarch (46-120AD), who wrote chapters on “resurrection and gods”, are noticeably silent on his existence?

In religio-mythology, silent historians (LH:6) (TL:43), aka “silent historians problem” (TR:36) (LH:1) (TL:37), “nonhistoricity hypothesis” (Voorst, 2000), or the "reverse history phenomena" (Harpur, 2004), refers to paradox between the fact that presently some 40-60% of Westerners believe that Jesus was a real person who existed, in the period of 0 to 33AD, as a sort of wise religious teacher or reformer, and the fact that "real" historians of this period, e.g. Seneca the Younger (4BC-65AD), Pliny the Elder (23-79AD), author of a 10-volume encyclopedia, Plutarch (46-120AD), author of a 5-volume book on morals, etc., for nearly two centuries forward, make NO mention of him, i.e. are "silent" about him?

Overview

The following is a work in progress ranking of the chronological ordering silent historians; the so-called Josephus point (94AD), shown highlighted, is when purported mentions by actual real historians, i.e. real people (not mythical Bible saints and characters), begins:

# Person Date Summary
Ovid
(43BC-c.17AD)
8AD Pens a secular Greco-Roman version of "creation myth", narrated exactly as in Genesis, in his Metamorphosis, but is not aware of any baby Jesus.
Strabo
(c.63BC-24AD)
23AD Traveled all over the world to make his multi-volume Geography (23AD), in which he published one of the first accurate maps of the world, adjacent, yet is unaware of any "Jesus" of Nazareth (or "Syria" as shown on his map) as reported in the Gospels?
Livy
(59BC-17AD)
Roman historian, who makes NO mention (Ѻ) of the birth of any "age 12" (12AD) child prodigy named Jesus, who supposedly impressed all the temple priests with his vast learning.
Seneca the elder
(54BC-39AD)
Existed through the reigns of three significant emperors; Augustus (ruled: 27BC-14AD), Tiberius (ruled: 14-37AD), the one in charge when “Jesus” was purported to have been crucified, and Caligula (ruled: 37-41AD); author of an historical work, containing the history of Rome, from the beginning of the civil wars almost down to his own death, which was published by his son Seneca the Younger, who was tutor to emperor Nero (ruled: 54-68AD), whose portrait, of note, is carved on the walls of Dendera Temple worshiping the dying and rising god Osiris (not Jesus); neither him nor his son make mention of an dying and rising Jesus?
Tiberius
(42BC-37AD)
Roman emperor who completed Dendera Temple, the place where the "Osiris resurrection" is depicted, in full detail, which is from where the story of the "Jesus resurrection" derives; there is no extant work of his mentioning any "Jesus" dying and rising under his reign?
Philo of Alexandria
(20BC-50AD)
39AD In 39AD, he led an embassy from the Jews to the court of Emperor Gaius Caligula; spent time in Jerusalem (On Providence) where he had intimate connections with the royal house of Judaea; he wrote extensive apologetics on the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. About thirty manuscripts and at least 850,000 words are extant. He offers commentary on all the major characters of the Pentateuch and, as we might expect, mentions Moses more than a thousand times. Yet, he says NOT a word about Jesus, Christianity, nor any of the events described in the New Testament. In all this work,Philo makes not a single reference to his alleged contemporary "Jesus Christ", the godman who supposedly was perambulating up and down the Levant, exorcising demons, raising the dead and causing earthquake and darkness at his death. (Ѻ)(Ѻ)
Seneca the Younger
(4BC-65AD)
c.55AD In c.55AD, penned a 600-page treatise on Morals (Ѻ), but mentions NOTHING of Jesus, the presumed-to-be most moral and righteous person of all, nor of Christians or Christianity? [3]
Hero
(c.10-70AD)
In 67AD, this so-called “da Vinci of his day”, made a trick 'water to wine' jug, using hidden compartments and syphons, that he used to fool onlookers into believing he had turned water into wine; in his vast writings, makes NO mention of any Jesus Christ; but his water-to-wine trick is later used in John 2:10 (c.150AD) of the New Testament as having been a miracle purported to have been performed by a fictional Jesus. (Ѻ)[1]
Apollonius of Tyana
(c.15-100AD)
Saintly first-century Neopythagorean philosopher, adventurer, and noble paladin; a magic-man of divine birth who cured the sick and blind, cleansed entire cities of plague, foretold the future, and fed the masses; was worshiped as a god and as a son of a god; despite such nonsense claims, he was a real man recorded by reliable sources; he makes no mention of Jesus; later real scholars posit, of note, that he was a model for the later fictional Jesus.
Pliny the Elder
(23-79AD)
77AD In 77AD, penned his Natural History of the World, a 10-volume, 37-book, all-knowledge comprising treatise, wherein he attempts to cover all subjects connected to nature; including: not only “resurrection and gods”, but also astronomy, mathematics, geography, ethnography, anthropology, human physiology, zoology, botany, agriculture, horticulture, pharmacology, mining, mineralogy, sculpture, painting, and precious stones, among other subjects, but does NOT mention Jesus Christ, the supposed to have existed most famous resurrected god son of all.[1]
Nero
(37-68AD)
Depicted at Dendera Temple (adjacent), on the interior eastern wall of the outer hypostyle hall, completed c.54 to 68AD, placating the gods Osiris and Isis, in the presence of child god Ihy, son of Hathor and Horus; the parents of Horus; the synretism god Osiris-Horus is what later become reformulated into the "Christ" figure.
Josephus
(c.37-100AD)
94AD In 94AD, is purported to have said the following about a was man named Jesus: (Ѻ)[1]
“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 amongst 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.”
— Josephus (94AD), The Antiquities of the Jews (§3.3) (Ѻ)

This passage, however, as William Smith, in his The Silence of Josephus and Tacitus (1910), points out, was “unknown to” Origen (c.230AD), who had copies of Josephus, and also unknown to earlier writers, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, which points to the conclusion that this was “interpolated in” by a later post-Origen Christian hand; it is invented history, so to say.[2]

Plutarch
(c.46-120)
110AD In 110AD, penned his Moralia, a 78-essay collection (15 volumes in English) of topics related to “morals” or “matters relating to customs and mores”, wherein he discusses all of the various dying and rising gods and god suns, in the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian world, e.g. Osiris, Dionysus, Horus, etc., but makes NO mention of Jesus Christ.[1]
Epictetus
(50-125AD)
Epicetetus, a noted intellectual influence to Origen and Godfrey Higgins, who was a secretary to Nero, from circa 54 to 68AD, is someone who should have known the famed "Jesus", if he had existed, but did not. The main resurrected god of Nero, such as famously depicted at the Dendera Temple (c.68AD), however, was Osiris (not Jesus), on the walls of which Nero is seen placating Osiris and Isis, in the presence of child god Ihy, son of Hathor and Horus. [2] Epictetus doesn’t write about any Jesus Christ or any Jesus or Nazareth; latter commentators, e.g. Elizabeth Carter in her “The Moral Discourses of Epictetus” (1910), argue that much of what we now call the moral philosophy of Jesus was stylize on that of Epictetus; Thomas Jefferson also puts the teaching of Epictetus in the same category of Jesus (who Jefferson thinks was real).
Tacitus
(58-120AD)
110AD In 110AD, in his Annals, in reference to the Great Fire of Rome (66AD) (Ѻ), refers to the punishment of "Christians" by Nero:
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center 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.
— Tacitus (c.110AD), Annals (15:44) (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

and the execution of their founder "Christus" by Pontius Pilate:

Pliny the Younger
(61-113AD)
In c.110AD, in a letter to Trajan (ruled: 98 to 117AD), comments (Ѻ), supposedly, on what to do about the growing numbers of “Christians”; wherein he reports that some have confessed to him, under the threat of torture and death, that they had been Christians for 25 years, meaning a sect of Jewish-derived "Christians" had existed since 87AD.
Suetonius
(69-122AD)
c.110AD In his Life of Nero (c.110AD), he mentions “Christians” as having been involved in a “new and mischievous superstition”; later he says the following:
“Those Judeans [Iudaeos] impelled by Chrestos [Chresto] to assiduously cause tumult, Claudius expelled out of Rome.”
— Suetonius (113AD), Life of Claudius (pg. #)

Dorothy Murdock (2007) that these mentions of Chrestos and Christians is not at all clear, in respect to the Biblical “Paul” figure, who is not mentioned by Suetonius.

Hadrian
(76-138AD)
c.128AD
Serapis (overview).png

Animal body | Shape of an animal

In c.128, as emperor of Rome, reign: 117-138AD, while touring Alexandria, Egypt, he noted Christians were Serapis worshipers; telling his brother-in-law (Ѻ) about this:

Those who worship Serapis are in fact Christians; and they who call themselves Christian bishops are actually worshipers of Serapis.”
— Hadrian (c.128), “Letter to Servianus”

Hadrian, however, never mentions any Jesus. (Ѻ)(Ѻ)

Basilides
(c.80-145AD)
138AD
Horus and Jesus.png
In 138AD, published Exegetica, a two-dozen volume treatise, supposedly, on the Christian gospels; in his “Acts of John” (5th century Armenian edition), produced by his followers, the Basilidians, Christ is described (Ѻ) as follows:
Christ appeared, to his followers, in many different guises, NOT especially a human one.”
— Basilides (c138AD), Exegetica (§: Acts of John)

The works of Basilides, later deemed heretical, were all burned during the 400 to 800AD pagan purge (all heterodox or heretic Christian gospels where purged in this period).

Ptolemaeus
(c.100-155AD)
150AD

Believed Christ or Jesus to be an "animal man" or to have an "animal body" (Hippolytus, 225AD)

Peregrinus
(c.95-165AD)
165AD Was a Greek cynic philosopher, cited by Baron d'Holbach (1770), who, according to Lucian, who attended his suicide by immolation (165AD), “became a Christian so that he could gain wealth”. (Ѻ)
Marcus Aurelius
(121-180)
175AD In his Thoughts (c.175AD), he discusses (Ѻ) how he thinks that “gods” and the “soul” exists, based on the “experience” of their power, but does not mention and god-man named Jesus; was later purported by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History (300AD), that there was an alleged persecution (Ѻ) of a “Christian” at Lyon in Gaul (177AD) during his reign; this purported persecution, however, is debatable (Ѻ), e.g. it is not mentioned in Irenaeus 5-volume Adversus Haereses (180AD), and it is out his Stoic character.[1]
Heracleon
(c.130-c.180AD)
c.175AD
Horus and Jesus.png
Believed Christ or Jesus to be an "animal man" or to have an "animal body" (Hippolytus, 225AD)
Apuleius
(c.124-170AD)
Roman-ruled Numidian Latin author (Ѻ), in his Metamorphosis (aka The Golden Ass), described how the Egyptian parade ceremonies, with Osiris, Isis, and Anubis, were performed in Rome publicly; is cited, along with Homer, Aesop, and Apollonius, as authors upon which later Jesus stories were possibly based (Ѻ); cited (pg. 266) by Budge, Volume Two (1904).
Lucian
(c.120-190AD)
c.170AD In c.170AD, in his Passing of Peregrinus, gave one of the first secular, i.e. real person, accounts of the existence of Christians as a distinct actual faith common to a group of people who considered each other brothers; the gist of which is as follows:[3]
“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. … You see, these misguided [deluded] creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains their contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

Lucian goes on to say that “anyone who knows the world can get rich tricking these simple souls.”[4]

Celsus
(c.125-185AD)
c.175AD His Reason of Truth: The True Word (Λόγος Ἀληθής, Logos Alēthēs), various translated as The True Word (Ѻ) or The True Doctrine (Hoffmann, 1987), attempted to refute the validity of the newly forming sect of Christianity:
“You may see weavers, tailors, fullers, and the most illiterate and rustic fellows, who dare not speak a word before wise men, when they can get a company of children and silly women together, set up to teach strange paradoxes among them. This is one of their [Christian] rules: Let no man that is learned, wise, or prudent come among us: but if they be unlearned, or a child, or an idiot, let him freely come. So they openly declare that none but the ignorant, and those devoid of understanding, slaves, women, and children, are fit disciples for the god they worship.”
— Celsus (c.175AD), The True Word; cited by DeRobigne Bennett (1876) in The World’s Leading Sages (1876)

this work was refuted, in an apologetic manner, by Origen (c.230AD).

Hippolytus
(170-235 AD)
Horus and Jesus.png
His Refutation of All Heresies, summarized all the then prevalent non-orthodox Christian views; one of which was the following:
“The body of Jesus was an animal one. On account of this, at his baptism the holy spirit as a dove came down – that is, the logos of the mother above, i.e. Sophia – and became a voice to the animal man, and raised him from the dead.”
— Hippolytus (c.225), Refutation of All Heresies (§6.30) (pg. 237); summary of the views of the Italians Heracleon (c.175AD) and Ptolemaeus
Plotinus
(205-270)
Arius
(256-336)
Held heterodox Egyptian mythology like views on the "trinity" model.

Discussion

Beliefs

In 2015, 60% in England[5] believed that Jesus, Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth, was a “real person”, who resided in Galilee, about 2,000-years ago, rather than a fictional, mythical, or astro-theological character, e.g. 40% in England (2015) believe this. In 2020, polls in America showed that 52% believe Jesus existed, was a “great teacher”, but not a god.[6]

Harper

In Sep 2004, Tom Harpur, did a 30-min Q&A interview[7][8] with Allan Gregg, of TV Ontario, on his The Pagan Christ; the opening 6-min dialogue, transcripted from the adjacent video, is as follows:[7]

Allen Gregg (0-0:19): You’re one of Canada’s preeminent scholars who spent virtually their entire adult life analyzing, teaching, writing about the biblical scriptures. How in the world did you come to doubt the existence of the historical Jesus of Nazareth?
Tom Harpur (0:20-2:30): Well, there’s no simple answer to that. It took a little time. It became increasingly obvious to me over the last seven [1997] or eight [1996] years, that the ‘Jesus seminar’, which had been devoted to studying ‘what are the authentic words of Jesus?’, ‘what are the authentic actions of Jesus?’, were pairing it down to smaller and smaller amounts, to the point of I think that 18 percent of what they thought he said might be authentic, and about 17 percent of what they thought he might have done might be authentic; and in the course of watching that process and realizing that Jesus was slipping away on them, and knowing myself, from my own scholarship, that there was nothing coming out of the first century at all, in the way of hard evidence, for his existence – we had the Gospels – whose dating is not quite a precise as people would lead us to believe, and only really come together fully in about 150 common era, but their origins or traditions is ‘believed’ to come out of the firs century [common era]. But, apart from Josephus, a Jewish historian, who has two interpretations, which are later forgeries, mentioning Jesus Christ, we have nothing from the first century.
A 2004 interview (30-min)[8] with Tom Harpur, on his The Pagan Christ, and the silent historians problem.[7]
This is why there was such a hoo-fer-rah about finding the supposed ossuary of James, the supposed brother of Jesus [that we had at the Royal Ontario Museum], and all the scholars happen to be here, everybody was beside themselves, because here, for the first time, in this little box, there was bones, they thought they had something from the first century, that was outside of [Josephus]. But that went up into sheer smoke and flames once they got down into looking at it and realizing it was a forgery. So I realized there was very little in regards to evidence – and I’m interested in ‘evidence’. If it’s going to be history, let’s have evidence. The funny thing was, was that the farther the Church got away from the supposed time of Jesus’ life, the more sure it became of what went on!? The closer it got, to that supposed time, the more vague it became. It’s the very ‘reverse’ of what happens with any truly historical person.

Here we see the "silent historians" problem par excellence.

Quotes

The following are related quotes:

“We do not deny that many men called Christ, may in former times, have existed in Jerusalem and elsewhere, any more than we deny that such a person or persons as Hercules once existed in Greece—but we do distinctly deny that either Christ or Hercules were gods, demi-gods, or prophets, or performed the works commonly attributed to them. Christ no more foretold the destruction of Jerusalem than did Hercules conquer the Nemean lion. Christ no more performed the miracles, Testament-makers have ascribed to him, than did Prince Hohenloe the miracles ascribed to him! To destroy the divine and prophetic character of Jesus, is to destroy all that which renders him sacred in the eyes of Christians, and at once strips his character of that gaudy plumage which dazzles the eyes of his worshippers. When this is done, it will be time enough to consider whether one or fifty Jesus Christs walked about the streets of Jerusalem eighteen hundred years ago; and really, of no more practical consequence than it would be to inquire whether certain men called Bacchus once lived in Thebes.”
— German Jew (1841), The Existence of Christ Disproved (pg. 28)[9]
“Is it not strange [?] that the principal historians of the first century are silent as to Christians and their faith? Plutarch and Strabo, for instance, who lived and wrote soon after the alleged advent of Christ, are both silent upon the leading events recorded in the Gospels.”
Charles Watts (1896), “Christianity and History” (pg. 35)[10]

End matter

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 (a) Paulkovich, Michael. (2013). No Meek Messiah (Amz). Publisher.
    (b) Paulkovich, Michael B. (2014). “God on Trial: The Fable of the Christ” (Ѻ), Free Inquiry, 34(5).
  2. Smith, William B. (1910). The Silence of Josephus and Tacitus (pg. 6). Open Court.
  3. Passing of Peregrinus – Wikipedia.
  4. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (§:Lucian of Samosata, pgs. 167-68). HarperOne.
  5. Anon. (2015). “Jesus: Not a Real Person, Many Believe”, BBC News, Oct 31.
  6. Anon. (2020). “A Majority of Americans Think Jesus is a Great Teacher, Yet Reject his Claims to be God” (Ѻ), PR News Wire, Aug 27.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harpur, Tom. (2004). “Historical Jesus is Force-Fed Hokum!” (YT), TVO.org, interview; Atheism Reviews, Mar 16.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gregg, Allan. (2004). “Tom Harpur: On the Pagan Roots of Christianity” (YT), Tvo.org, Sep.
  9. German Jew. (1841). The Existence of Christ Disproved: by Irresistible Evidence, in a series of letters, from a German Jew. [30 letters] (pg. 4). Publisher.
  10. Watts, Charles. (1896). “Christianity and History” (pg. 35), The Freethinker, 16:1, Jan 19.

Further reading

  • Freke, Timothy; Grandy, Peter. (1999), The Jesus Mysteries (§7: The Missing Man, pgs. 133-). Publisher.

External links

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