Thursday, November 6, 2014

Suetonius And "Chrestus" And Jesus

As the ever-diligent Tim O'Neill helpfully pointed out, I erred in my post referring to Michael Paulkovich's 126 when I said that someone named Chrestus appears in Tacitus. O'Neill is correct: Chrestus appears in Suetonius, not in Tacitus. The beginning of chapter 25, part 4, of Suetonius' account of the Emperor Claudius begins:

Iudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit.

(Because the Jews, led by Chrestus, were constantly making disturbances, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.)

Some mythicists point to this Chrestus and say that it shows that Jesus (Christ, Christus) never existed: it wasn't Christus, it was Chrestus, and he was never in Jerusalem, he was in Rome. Sez so right there in Suetonius. That's what some mythicists argue.

I just want to point out that I find it ironic that these particular individuals, who find reasons to doubt so many references to Jesus' existence in so many different texts, and to assume so many wholesale rewrites of the New Testament when we have so many NT manuscripts and there so little reason to doubt things, because we can see fairly clearly what changes were made and when by looking at all of these thousand of Biblical manuscripts, including some manuscripts as old as the 2nd century, perhaps as early in the 2nd century that they were made when Suetonius was still alive -- Ah say Ah say Ah say these non-historians, these non-experts calling themselves experts in the early history of Christianity have no problem whatsoever believing in the existence of a leader of the Jews in Rome in Claudius' reign called Chrestus, not Christus, rather then think that this may be a misspelling of Christus, in manuscripts of Suetonius of which the oldest are 9th century. And they are more ready to believe that the rather ambiguously-worded sentence clearly shows that this Chrestus was alive in Rome in Claudius' reign, rather than think that Suetonius does not mean to refer to a living leader present at the time, or, more likely in my opinion, that Suetonius simply didn't know much about the Christians, had heard some vague accounts of them linking them to someone named Chrestus, and made a mistake when he wrote about them. Or someone told Suetonius about Christus and he misheard it as Chrestus. Or Suetonius wrote "Christus," and some time between when he wrote in the 2nd century and when the oldest-known copies of his work were made in the 9th century, someone copied one letter wrong.

And these mythicists accuse others of bending the truth to suit their pre-conceived notions and grasping at straws.

SOME mythicists have done this with Suetonius' mention of "Chrestus." Not all of them -- or all of us if everyone not convinced that Jesus existed is a mythicist. I'm pretty sure Wells never has.

As I often point out, I am not a pro at this. I'm pointing it out once again in connection with some of the wackier mythicists because I want to make the point, again, that one by no means needs to be a pro or an expert in order to see that they are neither. (Wells is a pro. Probably the only living mythicist pro. Surely if there were another I would've come across him or her by now.)

1 comment:

  1. You have not mention Codex Sinaiticus and it's use of Chrestians. What about the ceremonial cup with "Jesus Chrstus" on the side.

    I was aware of the passage you mention, but have just come across the further info.

    You mention we have so many NT texts, but they are all very late. We have only rare scraps from much later. The big problem of course is that Christianity in the fourth century scoured the world destroying gospels and other texts, and then executing the non orthodox believer.