Flavian Signature Verification project -- progress report

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
As we've discussed here and on the podcast, I'd like to use document retrieval & natural language processing ("big data") technology to prove that the "Flavian Signature" is an objective, verifiable fact which can be statistically validated. The idea is to use passages from Luke and the other gospels as a type of "search query", and look for sections in Josephus Wars that are judged as 'good matches' by the document comparison / retrieval algorithm. Hopefully, the linear sequence of matches will emerge from this process, creating a statistically verifiable link between the Gospels and JW. Also, at the level of individual passages and paragraphs, we can get an idea of the objective statistical strength of the parallel.

So far, what I've been able to accomplish is to download some tools from the Internet: a trained set of "Context Vectors" from Google Research, and utility packages known as 'NLTK' (Natural Language Processing Tools) and 'Gensim', an open source document retrieval system by Radim Rehurek. This software is in Python, so I have a learning curve: in the past, I've used C++ and Tcl/Tk for doing this sort of work, but use of those languages is fading fast, while Java and Python are in the ascendency. Python is conceptually pretty similar to Tcl/Tk: interpreted, dynamically typed, and syntactically very compact. But I'm finding it to be a huge improvement in terms of the readability of the code, and I feel that Tcl/Tk has been defeated by a worthy opponent. Learning Python is, I think, time well spent.

Also, I've obtained the texts of the KJV bible and all Josephus' works (Whiston translation) in plaintext (UTF-8) format, from gutenberg.org, and written some glue code to parse the texts and return the chapter and verse sections as documents.

Finally, I've written some code that can compare two documents on a "bag of words" basis, word for word, looking for statistically significant word matches. Words are considered "matched" either if they are identical, or judged similar based on "context vector" cosine distance. Matches are evaluated using a modified TF-IDF function. I tried this out using Matt. 23:1-25:1 as the "search query" across Josephus Wars, parsed into 824 "documents" (Whiston book, chapter and section numbers, but not verse numbers.) The Flavian Signature match for this pericope is considered to be JW Book VI, Chapter 5, sections 1-3 and extending into the first verse of VI.6.1 (verses 271-316), according to Giles' analysis, which is similar but not exactly the same as Joe's. See:

http://postflaviana.org/community/index.php?threads/the-flavian-signature-inside-the-city-destruction-of-the-temple-doomsday.1492/

for the color coded match analysis. I feel this is the most powerful of any of our parallels, which is why I started here.

The algorithm found JW VI.5.2 and VI.5.3 in the top 5 matches, VI.5.3 was #2. (Actually, by tweaking the scoring system, it's possible to get various other results.) The top winner by this scoring formula was JW V.10.5, which reads:

It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance
of these men's iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once
briefly:--That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries,
nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than
this was, from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought
the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear
comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed
what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious
and abortive offspring of our nation, while they overthrew the city
themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a
melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously against them, and did almost
draw that fire upon the temple, which they seemed to think came too
slowly; and indeed when they saw that temple burning from the upper
city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on
that account, while yet these passions were discovered among the Romans
themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter in their
proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.​
 
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
(continued....)

So this is really a pretty good match to the Matthew passage ("Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"), as Josephus gave his own reasons why the Jewish rebellion deserved to be damned. Here is the list of matching words that the algorithm came up with, along with the score for each word pair:


temple temple 6.226286154806179
generation generation 5.171214630019184
appear appear 4.580390435932779
neither neither 3.8573893936572
world world 3.68069780013756
therefore therefore 3.471770701502769
nation nation 3.2427997529651185
beginning beginning 3.081170192926453
hypocrites scum 3.0115158499167918
come come 2.9424494786774695
iniquity iniquity 2.704432287894301
here here 2.671763553209775
go go 2.4601735285919064
whether whether 2.458346130011047
know think 2.412113984226125
woe miseries 2.3327742299128564
other other 2.3237133525681677
ever ever 2.0215149824551224
while while 2.002187384830582
come go 1.9433930606733856

Notice that most of the word pairs are exact matches, but a few are close synonyms ('woe', 'miseries') while others are opposites ('come', 'go'). The total score is 118, which is to be interpreted logarithmically: that is, the chance of such a close match is 1 in 10^118. Actually for a variety of reasons, this is a huge over-estimate; but nevertheless it's obvious that the two passages are semantically closely related -- both are talking essentially about the same topic.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
(continued....)

The #2 score at 115 was the preferred sequential match. This sounds just slightly lower than the top winner, but by the logarithmic scale this is judged to be 1000x more likely to have occurred by chance. Here are the matching top 20 words. (Wow, this is frustrating: I had justified the results table, and used a linear font, and Xenforo squeezed out the white space anyhow. Sorry!)

So here's the list of top 20 matching words between Matt. 23:1-25:1 vs. JW VI.5.3 --

woe woe 16.43560185516376
scribes scribes 9.381180441895715
hour hour 5.7526064117513
coming coming 3.4758667938831533
cry cry 3.2385367578956803
desolation desolation 2.769472935128329
coming going 2.6609113710810877
shut shut 2.4879854923707208
appear appeared 2.1882204989880263
watch watch 2.1836487242447253
sign sign 2.151475084457816
hypocrites deceivers 2.139760724477308
altar altar 1.6045075350093354
sign signs 1.5288092591689617
winds winds 1.4938809369892325
clouds clouds 1.3847364675641645
Stone Stone 1.3555950671137407
words words 1.2690368363333855
till till 1.236366804161391
shed shed 1.2195031360966917

The top several scores are much higher for this match pair, but for some reason JW V.10.5 wins out in depth. "Woe" scores especially high because it's repeated over and over, 9 times in Matthew and 8 in Josephus.

This is all somewhat encouraging, but my feeling is that the passage from JW VI.5.3 is actually a far closer parallel than V.10.5, and the "bag of words" approach is never going to discover the difference. The reason is that the parallels are encoded in the syntax: that is, phrases like "woe unto you", "from the east to the west", "coming on the clouds" and so forth. Furthermore, these matches are sometimes conceptual as much as than verbatim, i.e. "lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west" vs. "a voice from the east, a voice from the west".

So what's needed is a way to parse these sentences, recognize the component parts, and rate the similarities & differences at a phrase and sentence level, rather than just at a bag-of-words level. This was a little beyond what we could do at the state of the art in 1999 for mass volumes of data when I was working for HNC/Aptex. And it may be beyond the state of the art for what can be downloaded as open source toolkit software from the Internet -- although I'm evaluating Gensim's Doc2Vec and NLTK's Treebank to see what they can do.

Stephen Gallant invented the "Context Vector" system for the CIA and HNC/Aptex back in the early 1990's. Google's new word2vec system is an improvement, but not really so different. So what's Gallant up to lately? Vector representations for sentence structures! No open source implementation yet, but really it looks like it might be possible to use these ideas.

http://multimodelresearch.com/pdf/01.pdf
 

gilius

Active Member
Wow, you are learning a new programming language for this? That's good dedication - but Caesar's Messiah and the Flavian Signature deserve it; I cannot stress how important this is in terms of exposing psychological warfare and laying the foundation for opening up post-Flaviana truth. Out of all the conspiracy theories - this is the only one that can be proven to be conspiracy fact - yet the majority do not have the skill to understand or accept the proofs themselves. Therefore, this project is much needed and welcomed with open arms. Good work, Jerry!

I am still building up an overview in mind of exactly how this works - will re-read your posts a few more times and check out the links. It seems the method takes into account alternative words for the same meaning, otherwise I would have suggested using several translations of the gospels and both of the major translations of Josephus (Whiston and the Irish Jesuits modern translation).
 
...("big data") technology to prove that the "Flavian Signature" is an objective, verifiable fact which can be statistically validated.
Have you looked into the statistical work of Russian Mathematician Anotoly Fomenko?

He uses statistical methods to analyze the veracity of historical narratives. This sounds like similar to what you are attempting.

http://www.chronologia.org/en/

Fast-Forward this video to 13:40 where he gives his "matching key" metaphor. It seems similar to Joe's typology...

 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Charlie,

I've spent a lot of time looking into Fomenko's theories. It seems to me that his statistical arguments are pretty severely flawed, and I don't believe he's ever published any of the work in reputable peer-reviewed journals. Considering that Fomenko is probably the most highly regarded mathematician in Russia, how can this be explained? Fomenko, of all people, should know that this sort of statistical analysis is not as easy as it appears at first glance.

More about Fomenko in this thread:

http://postflaviana.org/community/index.php?threads/i-am-about-to-go-down-anatoly-fomenkos-rabbit-hole-anyone-else-wanna-take-the-trip.1542/
 
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Well, this is pretty bogged down (sigh!...) but I hope to get back to it after tax time.

I found a very amazing tool, a syntactic dependency parser that's similar to one being used by Google to parse the entire contents of their Google Books library, 3,5 million books, 345 billion words. Their project is described here ---

http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/books/syntactic-ngrams/syntngrams.final.pdf

The parser is at www.spacy.io. I downloaded it, got it running, and found that I could parse the entire bible and all the works of Josephus in a matter of minutes. Compared to what we could do 20 years ago, this is simply incredible. Anybody who says there's no progress in AI, doesn't know what they're talking about.

The bad news is, I don't have any great ideas yet for how to use the data from the parser. I'm still pondering how it's working.

I did do some experimentation with breaking the texts into smaller chunks (phrases separated by semicolons) for similarity scoring similar to what I talked about above. I was hoping this would clear up some problems related to large variations in the lengths of the chunks being compared. But the problems were similar to what I saw before: the machine's similarity score doesn't correlate very well with my own judgment, and a lot of spurious comparisons get relatively high scores.
 
Could you please explain what this 'parsing' is?

I'm not educated enough on this subject to even understand the first sentence of the abstract! :)

"The distributional hypothesis of Harris (1954) states that properties of words can be captured based on their contexts. The consequences of this hypothesis have been leveraged to a great effect by the NLP community, resulting in algorithms for inferring syntactic as well as semantic properties of words".

It sounds interesting. I would like to learn NLP someday.

What does this machine tool actually do?
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
'Parsing' means to identify and tag the functional parts of speech of the various words in a sentence (nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives, etc.) and to diagram the relationships between words and clauses (subject, object, etc.) -- similar to grammar school "sentence diagramming" assignments.

There's a spacy demo here, that allows you to enter sentences and see the analysis.

'NLP', Natural Language Processing, is the study of using computers to analyze free-form texts in English or other languages, in order to extract information, create texts and responses, do machine translation, and so forth. This is distinct from 'NLP', Neuro-Linguisitic Programming, a subtle form of hypnosis which uses suggestions embedded in natural language.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Josephson's new findings put a whole new light on this project. I'd been working under the assumption that the parallels between Josephus and Luke ought to be found in sequence. My algorithm was finding a bunch of parallels that were out of sequence, and I was assuming it was because the algorithm wasn't good enough at identifying strong parallels (which was true) and also because a certain number of parallels might occur at random. The off-sequence parallels I was reviewing (and I didn't look at many of them) seemed straightforward enough to see, but not really very interesting from the satirical point of view.

What Josephson is saying (among other things) is to get out of that box, and look at possibly deliberate parallels occurring out of order. If there are many such parallels that seem intentional, then it's further evidence of literary dependency. But at the same time, it could be bad news for the Flavian Signature idea. I'd been hoping that even with the occurrence of off-sequence parallels, there might also be a predominance of on-sequence parallels. Such predominance might provide a way to get a statistically significant result, even with a weak measure of parallel similarity. Now with possibly 10x as many parallels off-sequence as on-sequence, that test isn't looking so likely to pan out. Still worth a try.

I think it's still clear that we need some kind of objective measure for the closeness and statistical power of these claimed parallels. Of course the machine comparison can only go so far, any scoring system would also need to include some human estimate of the interpretability & irony level.

When I left off this project, I had come up with at least some vague ideas for using the Spacy syntactic dependency parser as part of the similarity measure. The parser breaks sentences into a nested structure of semantic fragments (subject-verb-object sets) that could be analyzed for similarity, either directly or perhaps hierarchically. But, the parser is trained to work with modern English. It was making much more than the expected level of parsing errors, and sometimes the parser would completely fail due to bugs triggered by ancient syntax. I was using the KJV and Whiston texts. So, I decided that the next step would be to import modern translations into the system, like the ones at www.biblical.ie. Another chore! Sadly, I've been distracted and too busy to get back to this.
 

Josephson

Member
I just posted "Jesus Appears to the Disciples" which is I think a very good example of why algorithms will have a very hard time identifying parallels because computers are terrible at irony and satire. In that example "the aged" is represented by "a piece of broiled fish" and "the infirm" is represented by "a honeycomb" and Jesus eating them is a slaughter. You have to see an image for an image and understand the running gag.

One place where I think computers could be useful is in figuring out the rhythm, why certain passages were chosen to be satirized by each author in their satire. If you notice, in "The Seven Bowls of Wrath" the book of Revelation only satirizes passages where you have the word "calamity". In the letters to the seven churches it seems only passages with the word "letter" or "embassage" or something similar appears. My impression is that the book of Matthew mainly satirizes passages from Josephus which have a reference to someone of nobility, like Josephus (the son of the living God), Titus, Vespasian, Herod or even God. Luke appears to me to satirize mainly passages with mentions of weapons, especially the words "sword" or "arms" or other weapons of war (maybe the word "fire" also?. John seems to satirize mostly passages with buildings in them like the "Temple", "tower" and maybe also descriptions of land formations (God's house). Mark maybe seems to satirize many passage which have the word "wall" or other man made "works" besides buildings but I am less confident about that one. I wonder if it is possible to take all the passages that are satirized by Matthew and checking them for similarities, what is the common thread here that makes this set of passages to be chosen by Matthew, and the same for the other books. Finding new parallels is I think less important right now, I already have about 80% of the Gospels and more than 90% of the book of Revelation, but if we could understand the rhythm of why the author of each book chose to satirize that particular set of passages then we should be able to get every single parallel without too much trouble and then I think we would understand everything about this and straighten up any wrinkles in the parallels and the proof would be done.
 

gilius

Active Member
Firstly, we know that the Synoptic gospels were written under Titus and designed to match up sequentially to the Jewish War (2 sets of books).
The other system we know of was written under Domitian based around the book of revelation being in line with the epistles and Suetonius (3 sets of books).
Joe's upcoming book is meant to feature another system based around Pliny/Trajan, which we don't know anything about yet.

We've established that the sequential parallels are not just 1 or 2 sentences, but are matched by large chunks/sections from each of the books, and serve multiple purposes:
Shared verbatim, names, locations, concepts
Satire
Puzzles
Flavian vanity
Roman propaganda with additional information/important message or moral, etc.
+ sometimes antisemitism.

Josephson's best findings so far would be additional strands to the Domitian parallels, otherwise I think the majority of the other stuff he found could be described as mini-parallels, or simply shared language, occurring via the odd quote here and there. Josephson has posted large chunks based around mainly shared names and locations more than anything, but in my opinion the majority of his colour coding doesn't appear to match up in terms of any shared concepts (when I get a chance I will go through and validate each colour with a tick or cross for further discussion).

So when we take away the sentences that are colour-coded yet lacking any shared concepts, we are left only with a couple of sentences that share a name or location though lacking any significant meaning or "flesh-on-bones" (see list above as to what constitutes a proper parallel - also happen to be in sequence). Josephson also sees a lot of satire in his parallels, and I hope to analyse their merit here (or lack of) in due course.

No offence to Josephson as I can see he's trying his best to fish out any similarities he can by beginning with some matching word here or there, yet struggling to get the rest of the paragraphs to work. A lot of his findings are original and valid - but I think we should let go of the ones that don't work or comprise only a couple of matching words or a single concept. Again - see above - genuine parallels are more rich and sophisticated.

Like Josephson I came up with many parallels before, which I had to ditch. Joe mismatched some, and even Jerry and I had debates about many alternatives that took a long time to be accepted - resolved through the proper validation based on the above list. If the Flavians deliberately put in a parallel - rather than just repeating how dead bodies have a bad smell, say - there has to be a more deeper connection. And every true parallel can demonstrate this - even cutting down the fruit trees tied to Isiah - which was probably the shortest one in Caesar's Messiah.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
computers are terrible at irony and satire.
I agree that at the present state of the art, computers just don't see jokes. The problem is, human beings also seem to have difficulty in reaching agreement about what is funny, and whether the humor is intentional. A case in point, is our debate about whether the Josephus passages about Lunatic Jesus and Cannibal Mary should be seen as satires of early Christianity, or whether they are simple matter-of-fact news reports, probably at 2nd hand.

One place where I think computers could be useful is in figuring out the rhythm
A basic database might be very helpful in keeping track of the data, even if the computer can't actually figure anything out. I have a spreadsheet with all the Flavian Signature parallels in both Joe and Giles' versions. Increasing it to include 450 parallels would be a daunting task, but not impossible. The computer can also give scores for the extent of similarity based on word-level comparisons and sequences.
 

Josephson

Member
Could you tell me which parallels you doubt or question?
I am not so much interested in the question of who wrote the New Testament, but more in the question of what it is that they wrote. Which I think is a more fundamental question since authorship inherently requires more conjecture than content since we have the content here entirely. And if we can show that every single verse of the New Testament is a satire of some passage in Josephus then the New Testament is a satire. I did post a few short and simple examples to make sure that the humor is transparent and easy to see at the first glance, but this assumption of the entirety of the Gospels being parody or satire has yielded many very long and complex parallels spanning several chapters even of Josephus and the New Testament (see "Jesus' Body is a Temple", I put 8 examples in that thread but in my book I have many more where the temple is Jesus' body), far longer and more complex than any of the parallels stemming from the Flavian Signature hypothesis, I even run out of colors to highlight the common themes, and I have ten times as many of them and every single one shows some kind of dark satire and sarcastic parody of Josephus' works. I am lead to the conclusion that this is a dark parody of a genocide. This does NOT mean that I reject "Flavian Vanity", I only think that it is secondary to satire as the original purpose for writing these books. It seems somewhere between probable and obvious that at some point these satires were sanitized, polished, and/or selected, throwing out all the apocryphal texts like Thomas and Philip which make the satire too obvious and selecting the most "faith inspiring" texts to promote a new Roman religion.

It is hard to argue for Cannibal Mary as a satire of early Christianity because those suspected early texts on which the Gospels are based don't seem to exist, unless they are the works of Josephus which I argue for. If Josephus had included Cannibal Mary as a satire of early Christianity, then he must have invented the part about Mary "saving a fine portion" which the guards could not take away from her in order to make Luke 10:38-42 look like a satire of itself, he must have inserted the phrases "the famine pierced her" in order make Luke 2:12-35 look like a joke, then Josephus must have entirely invented the passage right after Cannibal Mary in VI, 3:5 where this story gets told to the Roman army in order to make the immediately following passage in Luke when the "heavenly army" suddenly appeared and formulated that entire passage so as to make Luke again look like a satire. If you continue down this rabbit hole then you have to assume that Josephus had all of the Gospels and the book of Revelation in their current form and then proceeded to write these extremely long histories which when combined make those religious texts look like silly, pompous parodies. Josephus must have written "the ground did no where appear visible" and "they ran upon such as fled from them" in order to make "every island fled away" and "the mountains were not found" sound like an "ad absurdum" parody of his own account and he must have done this many hundreds of times. Josephus, a Jew, reverse engineering the New Testament into a parody that seems to mock him and his history at every turn through his book seems to me far less likely than a bunch of Greeks writing Greek satires, that's just what Greeks did back then, especially when Josephus even complains about them doing that in his own life-time, saying they were writing "Grecian fables" to mock his history and making it a form of "scholastic performance for the exercise of young men" and he speaks of "miracles or pieties" designed to cast a reproach upon the Jews.

I think psychologically it is very difficult to accept the possibility that all of Christian traditions with the sacrament and Mary and so on are based on a satire of a cannibalistic horror, because this is the worst thing I could have dreamt up in my worst nightmare. However, if the shoe fits? The Gospels are almost universally regarded as literature, they are short, poetic, have no named author and don't give a lot of historical detail but are mostly allegory: they look a lot like Greek satire. And it would seem almost impossible for Josephus to write a passage here which explains the satire of a bunch of different passages scattered through the New Testament more than 400 times. If there was an early form of Christianity, then it must have been entirely wiped out and replaced with this satire of a genocide, polished into Roman empire worship. In my book, I suggest that these "early Christians" are the Essenes who were started by Essa who the Muslims call Isa. If you read Josephus' description of the Essenes, you have to admit they sound a lot like modern Christians, with baptisms, avoiding sex for pleasure, they agree on very many points. And you might note that Jesus curses the Pharisees and Sadducees but never mentions the third sect in Judea of that time, the Essenes. I think the story of Essa was taken and mixed with the wars of the Jews until the Gospels became a satire of a genocide entirely replacing the Essenes. But what I prove is that the Gospels are a satire of a genocide 400 times.
 

Josephson

Member
If part of Josephus' motivation was to make Christianity look like a joke and he was on the side of the Roman caesars then that would be counter to the "Flavian Vanity" thesis, and they would seem to have failed at getting that message out. And if the main point of the Gospels was Flavian Vanity then why would they include a reference in the Gospels to such a horrific event that Caesar himself thought ought to be covered over with the overthrow of the city itself. Instead the Cannibal Mary passage makes much more sense as a story Josephus picked up from one of the deserters and has uncertain validity but that the Gospels mock that event and this satire was later abused into "Flavian Vanity" since it superficially seemed to praise the Romans for doing God's work, although satirically, since that is what Josephus did all the time, but only if you forget about or can't see the satire of a genocide behind it. That is the only interpretation of the parallel between the Gospels and Cannibal Mary that supports the Flavian Vanity thesis.
 
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Could you tell me which parallels you doubt or question?
I can't speak for Gilius, but the first thing I look at in evaluating a parallel is the extent of exact word matches. However, matches of exact words are more or less significant depending on how common those words are. Some words (like 'the', 'and', 'of') are going to occur in almost every sentence, while others (for example, 'chorazain') are very rare, perhaps mentioned only once or a few times in the entire works of Josephus or the New Testament.

The next thing I look at is close matches, either variant spellings or similar meanings, or directly opposite meanings. These are less significant, but still can be very distinctive depending on the occurrence rate of the words themselves.

Next, I check to see if the word-level parallels occur in sequence. An ordered sequence greatly multiplies the odds of literary dependency between the passages.

Finally, I evaluate how interpretable the parallel is. In other words: does it speak as if the author is trying to make a point with the parallel, and is that point consistent with the hypothesized literary pattern or purpose? Does the interpretation seem clear and unmistakeable, or somewhat forced?

If you choose any two paragraphs at random from the vast ocean of text on the Internet, there is always going to be some minimal level of detectable correlation or parallelism. If you repeat the experiment at random a thousand times, and pick the most correlated pair, the parallelism will appear pretty strong, and indeed it might very well be traceable to some intentional or unintentional literary dependency. So we need to contend with the idea that the parallelisms we think we see, are just appearing at random.

I don't think it's a matter of "doubting or questioning" parallels, so much as seeing that some are stronger or weaker than others. Even the weak ones might very well be intentional, considering that they're appearing in context of an interpretable pattern.

I'm also concerned about what we can demonstrate as factual, in a way that can't realistically be denied from a scientific, statistical perspective. Right now we have a situation where a reasonable percentage of lay readers seem to find the argument reasonable. For example, if you look at the reviews of Joe's book at Amazon, they're mostly positive. Also, he gets a lot of fan email.

However, many highly trained & educated people (for example, Carrier, Price, Ehrman) say they think this is all just nuts, and that all these parallels are in our imagination. I think those negative reviews really do hurt our ability to get traction.

It is hard to argue for Cannibal Mary as a satire of early Christianity because those suspected early texts on which the Gospels are based don't seem to exist, unless they are the works of Josephus which I argue for.
I feel that you haven't responded to my earlier argument here. Most mainline scholars are pretty convinced that the four canonical gospels were composed from earlier sources, although of course there's lively debate about what those sources might have been. The most dominant opinion is that there was at least a compilation of sayings, known as "Q", but there are many other proposals. It's been argued that Mark contains so many latin idioms that its original version must have been Latin. Similarly for Matthew, the original must have been Aramaic or Hebrew. The apocryphal Gospel of Peter appears to be older than any of the four canonical ones, and was probably written before the fall of Jerusalem.

Josephus could have been written as a satire of any of those hypothetical sources.

If you continue down this rabbit hole then you have to assume that Josephus had all of the Gospels and the book of Revelation in their current form and then proceeded to write these extremely long histories which when combined make those religious texts look like silly, pompous parodies. Josephus must have written "the ground did no where appear visible" and "they ran upon such as fled from them" in order to make "every island fled away" and "the mountains were not found" sound like an "ad absurdum" parody of his own account and he must have done this many hundreds of times.
Of course this is exactly what Joe and Giles are arguing, that the interconnections between Josephus and the Gospels are so complex and interrelated that they must have all been written together by the same group of people. I think it's possible that some pre-Christian documents appeared first, then Josephus' Wars, and then the Gospels were written based on both of those. But if the Gospels followed after Josephus, they seem to have been written by people with similar motivations.

If part of Josephus' motivation was to make Christianity look like a joke and he was on the side of the Roman caesars then that would be counter to the "Flavian Vanity" thesis, and they would seem to have failed at getting that message out.
This is another aspect why our thesis is having trouble gaining traction. On the surface, Josephus seems to be a serious work of history, while the New Testament seems to be very honestly spiritual. And according to the conspiracy theory we're proposing: in order for the scheme to succeed, these texts needed to be very functional as history and hagiography, respectively. In the early years of the religion, the history of Josephus was used to demonstrate the factual truth that Jesus' prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem had been fulfilled. We say that this literature was created in order that the Romans could defeat the Jewish nationalist zealots, and that later it grew into the role of a unifying religion for the entire Empire.

So if this was their purpose, why would the authors insert these hidden Easter eggs proclaiming their own malfeasance? If detected, it would risk bringing the whole enterprise down in disgrace. And yet, we know it was (almost?) never detected. Generations of priests and clergy have taught the New Testament to their congregations, apparently without ever suspecting this macabre under-current.

And now we're claiming that we've suddenly made this discovery that no one else has seen, in the most carefully studied books in world history? Seems pretty unlikely, wouldn't you think? In a Bayesian sense, the priors against this are pretty high? And we're also claiming that Marlowe, Shakespeare and Bassano knew, but somehow they too decided to keep it hidden? And then it was forgotten again? Or, perhaps worse, passed down from generation to generation as a secret held closely by the inner circles of the Freemasons, Jesuits and/or Kabbalists? You can see why this is a hard sell?
 

Josephson

Member
Oh, yes, I know it is a hard sell. Can't seem to get anyone to take the time to read this carefully enough to get it because you have to read really a lot very carefully before you can start to see it. And it does sound crazy even to myself, but I can't deny what I found. But I have one advanced degree in mathematics and two in physics and so I understand a thing or two about statistics and proofs. And I wouldn't claim to have a proof if I didn't feel the totality of the evidence was overwhelming leaving no other logical alternative. Yes, if you take very many articles off the internet it is likely that you will eventually find two that are very similar or with some similar parts talking about raspberries. But for statistics, how is 80% or 90% of one being a joke about 80% of the other? They are almost the same text, with the same names, the same places, the same visuals. However, I disagree with your requirement of having events in the same chronological order. The Gospels themselves don't agree on the order of events or when Jesus said this or that, so it would be impossible for all of them to agree with the chronology in Josephus. Chronology does not have to be preserved to demonstrate textual dependence, especially when you have 80-90% dependence. If there are some of those parallels that you think are weak then I can only guess you didn't see the satire, maybe I didn't point it out well enough. Because it is true they don't use the exact same words, usually the verses in NT answer, react to or exaggerate events in JW. I think a lot of people have not seen this because one they don't want to see it and seeing it could get you labeled as an antichrist and killed for many centuries. But also because it is so horrific and abhorrent that it is hard to even allow it into your head that this could have happened. But you cannot justify Cannibal Mary in JW by Flavian Vanity. Nor can you justify Cannibal Mary in NT with Flavian Vanity. The only justification for the very long parallel of such a horrific event spanning several passages of both is through satire. I know this is a hard sell, hard to imagine that this could be the case and hard to get anyone to listen. But I truly believe that I have made a breakthrough in understanding the satire and have definitively proven that almost the entirety of the Gospels and the book of Revelation can only be interpreted as satire of the works of Josephus and that if anyone would take the time to understand all 450 parallels of my book then any reasonable person would be forced also to the conclusion that this is a satire of a genocide, as crazy as that sounds. And I still hope to convince some of you here for starters, since you already have smelt that there is something rotten in this story and have been investigating and working on this for some time and should be quicker to understand the argument I am making, because it is very long and hard to follow and absolutely unbelievable. If I can't convince you guys to take a good hard look at this, then who can I?

You mention the four source hypothesis and the M and Q sources, etc. My thesis is that most of the source for the Gospels is Josephus, also the sayings. Do you want to see where the sermon on the mount is in Josephus? Do you want to see where turn the other cheek comes from? Tell me a saying or a miracle or what ever where you would like to know the Q or M source for its origin. Maybe there is a little bit of inspiration from other sources, but I claim to show that by far the majority is inspired from Josephus by a satirist in ancient Rome. Now, Josephus was accused many times for writing very bad Greek, making lots of mistakes. Maybe the satires of his work imitated his Hebrew influenced mistakes as well, that's what any comedian would do. If there are latin idioms that could indicate an author with latin influence, but the fact that all of these have linguistic differences should lead you away from the assumption that this was a centralized effort at the beginning. It was probably more of a decentralized fan-fiction kind of thing, where teachers used this writing of satires of Josephus as a kind of scholastic performance for the exercise of young men and many people developed their own satires with their own styles and laughed their asses off at the stupid Josephus who claimed he was sent by God as a minister to save his people from their seditions but instead watched his entire nation slaughtered in front of his face, including his family, and still wrote that the Caesars were lead by God to commit this genocide.
“…Josephus… had dreamed in the night time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews, and the events that concerned the Roman emperors. Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests: and just then was he in an ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God, and said, "Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretell what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am content to live. And I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee."
– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, 8:3​
"...I got all those that I remembered as among my own friends and acquaintances to be set free, being in number about one hundred and ninety; and so I delivered them without their paying any price of redemption, and restored them to their former fortune...”
– The Life Of Flavius Josephus, 1:75​

What an asshole, I would make fun of him if I were Greek also. Like, "oooh, Jesus, you really saved and redeemed your people, didn't you? Now they're all dead" (read that with a sarcastic voice).
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, yes, I know it is a hard sell.
Hi Josephson, just to clarify, I am not saying that your version is any harder to sell than our version. We're all in the same boat here. In fact, if your 450 parallels are good, it makes the argument much stronger.

However, I disagree with your requirement of having events in the same chronological order. The Gospels themselves don't agree on the order of events or when Jesus said this or that, so it would be impossible for all of them to agree with the chronology in Josephus.
I agree completely. The idea that the parallels are in chronological order, has been framed as an empirical discovery. We say the sequence illustrates the parallel careers of Jesus and Titus. More specifically, the sequence is seen clearly in Luke, and is to some extent thrown out of order in the other gospels.

But you cannot justify Cannibal Mary in JW by Flavian Vanity. Nor can you justify Cannibal Mary in NT with Flavian Vanity. The only justification for the very long parallel of such a horrific event spanning several passages of both is through satire.
I don't see any contradiction between vanity, and use of satire.

If I can't convince you guys to take a good hard look at this, then who can I?
Please be patient. I can't speak for others, but I'm reading with great interest. My comments are my first reactions, and I'm trying to ask questions to help me understand what you're saying.
 
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