Richard Carrier replies!

Discussion in 'Richard Carrier, meet Barnum & Bailey' started by Jerry Russell, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. GrayMac

    GrayMac New Member

    Hi Richard. I've been intrigued with Nazoreans and/or Nazarenes aligning with or having been followers of those 'worthy' of being Nazarites.

    I'm also intrigued that you suggest that its more likely the NZR comes from Egyptian roots for "prince".

    Nazirite/Nazarite, which comes from nazir (which, in turn, comes from net.ser, or NSR/NZR), can mean (i) under a vow; (ii) consecrated; (iii) vow of 'separation'; or (iv) crowned eg. Judges 13:1-7

    And ne.tser (etc) = a branch; a shoot; a descendant

    Natzeret = ne.tser (or a variant such as NSR) plus the feminine ending, designated by the letter Tav; and

    Nazeroth is the feminine-plural.
    However, -

    "One of the arguments against Nazareth really being the name behind the term Nazarene is that Nazarene is spelled with a Greek zeta, suggesting a Hebrew zayin behind it, not a tsade, which is what we find in the inscription. It is this mismatch between the tsade and the zeta that suggests that Nazareth is not what lies behind the sect of the Nazarenes in the first place."

    I still think that with Natzeret <=> ne.tser + a Tav, and Nazeroth being the feminine-plural, Nazareth is likely to named after the Nazoreans and/or Nazarenes (or another variation).

    There's also 'na·ṣar'/natsar/ - נָצַר - means "to watch" (c.f. 'netser', said to mean "branch");

    hence 'Natsarith' means watchtower, and 'Natsarim' are 'watchmen'

    Nazareth is in a small basin on a hill/range (and from a nearly ridge apparently one can look out over plains towards the Sea of Galilee)

    There is also a view there is a passive meaning of 'preserved, protected' in reference to its secluded position -
    • RH Mounce, "Nazareth", in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, GW Bromiley (ed), Vol 3: Eerdmans, 1986; pp 500–1
    'Gennetsaret' = 'vale of Netsar' and is said to refer to the whole district.​

    Interestingly, I also have that exact passage from Wikipedia in some notes, but I have it as

    Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220, Against Marcion, 4:8) recorded that the Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene, though he [also] makes the connection with Nazarites in Lamentations 4:7.[8]
    So it looks like someone has edited it from what I have to what is there now; and I'm always suspicious when I see Christ rather than Jesus, as I think that could reflect a period when or somewhere 'He' was a 'more nebulous' entity, before Jesus predominated.

    I think it's a distinct possibility that Nazareth did not exist in the early 1st C. some fairly full, descriptive texts like Adversus Judaeos do not have reference to Nazareth, but have things like -

    "He was from the native soil of Bethlehem, and from the house of David; as, among the Romans, Mary is described in the census, of whom is born Christ", and

    "proceed from Bethlehem" a couple of of times.​

    Of course Jesus is said to have been born in Bethlehem, but it gives the impression the author of that work may not have know he was [supposed to be] from Nazareth.
    Richard Stanley likes this.
  2. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Yes, the "branch" meaning is used closely in association with royalty, as here:

    7But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: 8And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north. 9So the king of the south shall come into his kingdom, and shall return into his own land. (Daniel 11 KJV)​

    And of course, as in branches from the Root of Jesse, the father of David. And from here the grafting onto this root in Romans 11, another key facet of Atwill's analysis, and which I also suspect is meant as Esau (the Romans per the Talmud) regaining his inheritance from Jacob.

    Maybe we can get Jerry to research this. I see that there are lots of edits on this page.
  3. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    Compared to many controversial Wikipedia pages, this one is a sleepy backwater. Fifty edits since 2015. Lots of articles get 50 edits a week. There's some discussion among editors on the talk page puzzling over the relationship between Nazarenes and Nasoreans, but it appears that nobody was willing to put in the work necessary to come up with a well referenced statement.

    I have been on extended leave from Wikipedia editing duties. But, I made a comeback as an anonymous IP editor, to delete an unreferenced item relating to fig bars. Just to show my wwoofer guests how easy it is to join the fun at Wikipedia, and change the world's most consulted knowledge base.
  4. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Of course, none of the following is definitive, but rather highly suggestive in my opinion.

    Besides the interesting fact that Carotta had a Catholic priest translate his Italian version of Jesus was Caesar into English, in Carotta's video he demonstrates currently extant Catholic rituals and associated relics from old churches that clearly evoke the 'Caesarian'.

    The detailed parallels between the death and funeral of Julius (Suetonius's Twelve Caesars and others) and that of Jesus are pretty stunning in my opinion. And, then that the funeral rites of Julius seem to have been re-enacted for John Paul II as well. Missing, of course, was seeing JPII being lit on fire and ascending to Heaven to join Romulus and Julius (and later still by George Washington (in The Apotheosis of George Washington)). For Julius, the loudest in mourning being the Jews of Rome, who saw Julius as their second messiah (after Cyrus that is). Of course, Suetonius wrote his account late, and probably the others as well.

    Virgil, from his famous 4th Eclogue, announcing Augustus as the Prince of Peace for the New World Order of the day, is accorded as an honorary Christian by the Church.

    There is also the imagery found in the catacombs of Flavia Domitilla.

    And then there is my favorite, Juvenal's Satire #6, which I call Domitian's Big Fish Story. The meeting of the Roman poobahs at Domitian's villa (currently the Pope's summer villa) to decide what to do about the fish is hilarious.
    Jerry Russell likes this.
  5. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    We were remiss in not also acknowledging Dr. Sheldon's work here:

    Jerry Russell said:

    'Creating Christ' cites this other book, "Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence, and the Birth of Christianity" (2008). From a standpoint such as Wikipedia's "Reliable Source" criteria, this is huge. Reputable semi-academic publisher, PhD faculty historian co-author.


    Saul of Tarsus is one of the best known and most beloved figures of Christianity. This man, later known as St. Paul, set the tone for Christianity, including an emphasis on celibacy, the theory of divine grace and salvation, and the elimination of circumcision. It was Paul who wrote a large part of the New Testament, and who called it euangelion, "the gospel". There is another side of Paul, however, that has been little studied and that is his connection to the Roman military establishment and its intelligence arm. While other scholars and writers have suggested the idea that Paul was cooperating with the Romans, this is the first book-length study to document it in detail. By looking at the traditional story through a new lens, some of the thorniest questions and contradictions in Paul's life can be unravelled. How did he come to work for the Temple authorities who collaborated with the Romans? How was he able to escape from legal situations in which others would have been killed? Why were so many Jews trying to have Paul killed and to which sect did they belong? These and other mysteries will be solved as the authors follow Paul's career and his connections to Roman intelligence.

    Col. Rose Mary Sheldon received her Ph.D. in ancient history from the University of Michigan and is currently Head of the Department of History at the Virginia Military Institute. Her special field is intelligence history and she is on the Editorial boards of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, The Journal of Military History and Small Wars and Insurgencies, and has written more than three dozen articles on aspects of ancient intelligence. Her books include Espionage in the Ancient World: An Annotated Bibliography and Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome: Trust in the Gods, But Verify.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  6. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Let's discuss some additional factors to the list I provided two posts prior.

    First, we have the 'crosses' of the Legio X Fretensis found in a desert cave outside Jericho, I believe. The Tenth Legion participated in the Jewish War. These equi-armed crosses can easily be dismissed as not being properly symbolic of the typical normative Christian representation of the Cross, which is not a realistic depiction of the Roman crucifixion cross as well. In my opinion, these might more easily be characterized as representing a solar cult (such as Mithraic for Sol Invictus - see later on), but there are such equi-armed crosses in the Christian record, such as the Templar cross(es).

    Second, we have that the first known Xian churches in Palestine were built and run by Roman soldiers, albeit these are of too late construction for our direct purposes. The one in Meggido is interestingly butting directly up against a Jewish community, evoking a similar Roman/Jewish/Christian relationship as the outpost of Dura Europos, where the Jewish community appears to have been the logistics provider for the Romans.

    Found at Dura Europos was a SATOR Square, found in numerous other places in the empire. The central palindromes of TENET form an equi-armed cross, and the word means the same as it does in English today, 'he holds', from the Latin root of teneo -- to hold or keep. As we have just discussed, the Hebrew NSR, means "to keep".

    A SATOR Square:

    In my provided link I discuss my suggested meaning of the words, and that a rotation is involved implying the cosmos, and also an evocation of another rotating 'solar' cross, the swastika. In the case of the reversals of the ROTAS and SATOR, we have alternations of 1,000 year periods for (a solar) Christ and Satan found in Revelation, with 24 (millennial) elders sitting in a circle around God, representing the Sun.

    The letter 'A" is a known stylization, and its descending crossbar makes the letter evoke a masonic compass and square. In the gospels Jesus's father is noted as being a tekton.

    This segues into the thesis of Flavio Barbiero (The Secret Society of Moses) that the Hasmonean family of Josephus (and I assert with the participation of the Flavians, at least) formed the seed and ongoing basis of the Mithraic lodges found throughout the Roman empire, where societal elites including the military were members. And from which many Christians churches were built atop. In some cases were in simultaneous usage, and as exists today where some masonic lodges meet quietly in Christian churches, the masons forming much of the 'elder' and 'deacon' structure of the churches.

    Such 'squares' as the SATOR Square, like the Magic Square of the Sun, relate to Platono-Pythagorean sacred geometry, and of which numbers were understood by the initiated as being the only eternal aspects of existence.

    Speaking of which, the number 153, from the gospel '153 fishes in the net', represents a key geometric ratio number (along with 265) of the Vesica Piscis, the true source of the 'secret' Christian fishy. The associated 'net' is a referent to the net at Delphi and is also associated to the dolphin', the king of the 'fishes' (not known as a mammal then). The dolphin was sacred to mariners of the day, as were Castor and Pollux, the twin saviors of the Greco-Roman world, and whose divine sister launched a thousand ships that demarked the collapse of the Late Bronze Age, via the Trojan War. The symbol of Castor and Pollux, was the dokana, a double cross, one for each twin.

    Might one be reaching heights of Carrier's parallelomania by suggesting that the single Cross of Jesus was intended as a cryptic superposition of the inferred dokana of the two thieves? After all, Castor and Pollux were cattle thieves, even going so far as to attempt to rob their twin cousins. The Apostle Paul then 'coincidentally honors Castor and Pollux by taking his ship leg to Rome on a ship called the Castor and Pollux.

    The shipwreck of Paul parallel's Jospehus's shipwreck, and of course, Josephus rescued his friend Eliezar (a 'solar name') from the cross, between two other unfortunates.

    But, of course, the 'crude' Romans would have been too unsophisticated to understand such things, and not have known about prior religious mergers and acquisitions like the Serapis and Isis cult crafted by the Ptolemids.

    Returning to the Vesica Piscis, the Romans in emperor Claudius's time built an otherwise unique shrine in the very middle of the Dewa fortress in Britain. The shrine was in the shape of a vesica piscis, with 12 niches along the inner walls, like the stations of the cross. Vespasian and his brother served in the Roman army in Britain at this very time.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  7. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    I should clarify, before Mr. Carrier objects, that the Romans certainly knew about the Serapis and Isis cult, because the cult was spread throughout the empire, but what I meant was that ... 'obviously' ... they would have been too crass to understand that the Ptolemid Greeks had crafted that religion, at least in their using Mr. Carrier's consensus reality approach to such matters.

    However, anyone woke enough to appreciate the literary and/or artistic imagery of the "superposition" of Jesus's cross ahead of those of the two criminals (stand-ins for Castor and Pollux) would understand that a new religion was superceding the old, just as the Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Second Covenant supercedes and invalidates the First (including Moses's laws of cultural inversion, all excepting for the 10 Commandments for some strange reason). That is, 'superceding' theology and propaganda in the context of the minds of the hoi polloi, as the Church has always maintained a strong affinity for pagan and Judaic relics and concepts of the prior strata. Just as the Church was syncretistic going forward in acquiring new peoples, it was consciously syncretistic in its very formation.

    When reading Moses Hadas's classic, Hellenistic Culture, Fusion and Diffusion, one has to wonder just why Hadas would have stated at the end of his Introduction that there would be some people unhappy with what he would reveal in the book. He doesn't explicitly state what it is that might make them 'unhappy', and so one must infer from the subtext. There is a slight disconnect of the text from the title, in that the text is constantly comparing the Hellenistic culture with that of the Judaic, yet the title doesn't encompass this aspect.

    As we know today, the Classical Greeks and the Jewish Temple Cult are founded in the same 'general' time frame, in the centuries after the collapse of the Late Bronze Age where Egypt was the only surviving civilization of the wider region. The two diametrically opposed cultures both assert origins in or via ... Egypt, and reflect the violent cultural and theological dialectic of Amun versus Aten. That same dialectic was maintained by the theological synthesis of the Roman Catholic church in its theology, as detailed by James Carroll in his Constantine's Sword, albeit that Carroll misunderstands the motivation and true origin of the dialectic. That is, if you do not have a sufficient enemy, or foil, you must create one.

    As such, as the Sabbah brothers, French rabbis, revealed in their Secrets of the Exodus, the Yahud are recorded on the walls of Amenhotep III's temple (in norther Sudan) as being the personal prelature priesthood of his. On the bases of Amenhotep III's statues are recorded a unique state visit to Mycenae, and of which physical evidence of this trip has been found in several of the named cities along the way. Was Amenhotep III making contact with such as the Danoi, of whom the legend of Egyptus versus Danaus has Danaus immigrating there from Egypt.

    In the aftermath of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age, marked by Castor and Pollux and 'divine' sister Helen, the Judaic canon reveals that the Promised Land is ethnically cleansed by various means in the subsequent centuries, from which the Temple Cult arises, its canon formalized during the Babylonian period. In this same period Greece is a cultural vacuum for centuries till the parallel rise of the Classical Greeks, who claim their wisdom ... from Egypt. And for these later Greeks it was the works of Homer that formed their religious canon, of which the Trojan War was launched because of a divine woman, ... born from an egg. Ironically, Helen's divine brothers couldn't make it to the war, ... to save her, as they had been killed by their twin cousins for trying to steal their cattle, whom the cousins had just stolen themselves.

    We are still living with the purposeful dialectic construction, and this is why Hadas said "some people" will be unhappy with his book.
  8. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Here is John Bartram's recent discussion regarding the pagan origins of 'Chrestianity', from which its Alexandrian 'philosophers' became the 'Christian' church's founding 'Fathers'.

    Bartram discusses the associations of Philo of Alexander including his 'apostate' nephew, the commander of a Roman legion for the Flavian enterprise no less:

    We find Philo allied with: Gaius Caecina Tuscus, Prefect of Egypt 63–65, followed by Philo’s apostate nephew, Tiberius Julius Alexander in 66–69, during the First Jewish-Roman War.

    Since Philo's nephew is an apostate 'Jew', then we must also accord Philo himself as being 'apostate', at least from the perspective of otherwise normative Temple (either First or Second) Cult Judaism. Under no circumstances would a pious, conservative Jew of the day consider Philo's syncretization project with Hellenization to be kosher. However, if one wants to take the perspective of rabbinic Judaism, which Tiberius Alexander and Josephus played a role in forming, then Philo could indeed be accounted as kosher, as has been the case for the last 2,000 years, living under the protective arm of Rome (the imperium morphed into the papacy).

    Bartram discusses members of the extended Caesarian/Cleopatran family of Julius whom are also the blood kin of Helena of Adiabene (the Nazarite whom was buried in an still extant pyramidal tomb in Jerusalem) and her son Izates.

    This leads us to their theological centre, in Alexandria.

    Christian tradition has this:

    Catechetical School of Alexandria: “a school of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria.[1]

    This interests me because there was no Christianity then.

    According to Jerome the Alexandrian school was founded by Mark the Apostle.

    Nor was there a Mark the Apostle.
    [Unless perhaps he was Mark the Antony, the officiant of Julius Caesar's funeral and subsequent lover of Cleopatra's -rs]

    So what might this centre have been? I assume it is the famous Library [of Serapis - rs]. There is no need to think beyond that. This is where Greek Magic was syncretised with the Egyptian, to allow resurrection (Cleopatra as Isis).

    Will Carrier have the same slipshod reaction to the red highlighted sentence of Bartram's as to his prior 'common sense' comments about Postflaviana?

  9. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    By way of mop-up of this thread, I'm running through some points in Richard Carrier's response that I haven't mentioned yet.

    Carrier wrote:

    I’ve “undermined the importance” of my effort by conceding uncertainty. The uncertainty actually objectively entailed by the state of the evidence. Russell thus thinks it’s far more important to defeat Christianity than to tell the truth; therefore any method that gets results too uncertain to be useful for that political aim, must be discarded. Not because it isn’t a valid method or because there is any other method better able to ascertain the truth; but because the truth is a liability to our political goals. Therefore objective methods must go. This is the summation of a crank’s very modus operandi.

    This was off-topic to my review, but it's correct that I think that Atwill's method is far better at yielding results that are reliably accurate.

    In this context, it's important to note that Carrier in "On the Historicity of Jesus" vs. Atwill in "Caesar's Messiah" are addressing two different historical periods. Carrier is primarily interested in the 1st half of the 1st century, when (he believes) Christianity originated. Whereas Atwill is interested in the period beginning after 70 AD and the fall of the Jewish temple, which is the time frame when the Gospels were most likely written.


    I’ll also not bother much with Russell’s totally crank suggestion that all the messianic movements Josephus documented were versions of Christianity. There is exactly zero evidence of that, and no plausibility to it whatever (see OHJ, Ch. 6.5 & Element 4, Ch. 4). Russell seems to think any messianic movement should be considered “Christian,” which is an equivocation fallacy: we do not mean by “Christian” just any “messianism,” but specifically the belief in a resurrected savior whose death atoned for all sins, a belief present in no other messianic sect attested. But it’s just like a crank to go off on pattern hunting to a level of lunacy, and rest a bizarre conclusion on fallacious tricks with words.

    We have a difference in definitions here. By "Christian" (or, more specifically, early Christian) I mean any one of the various amalgamating sects which eventually contributed to the formation of medieval Christianity, either by contributing narrative elements and theological nuggets, or by institutional merger.


    Even more typical of crankery is reasoning by bizarre non sequiturs that experts actually agree with you when in fact they do not. Russell does this when he says “Carrier’s belief” is that Christianity was like “a singular kernel [that] exploded through a process of conversion driven by evangelism and managed by a tightly controlled hierarchical leadership,” and “yet as Carrier himself admits, nothing could be farther from the truth,” since “we know … the chaotic nature of early Christianity.” This is all false.

    Carrier says "this is all false", and then in the very next sentence:

    I do believe Christianity launched from a singular origin: because that’s what our only eyewitness to its formative years tells us (1 Corinthians 15; Galatians 1). And there is zero evidence of it being otherwise.

    Which is it, Richard? Everything I said is wrong? Or, at least half of what I said about your beliefs is correct?

    But I have never said it was “managed by a tightly controlled hierarchical leadership.” To the contrary, I explain in OHJ that that same witness confirms the leadership could only barely control anything, and the movement fractured and spiraled into numerous competing sects (OHJ, Element 21, with Elements 10, 15, and 20, in Ch. 4). It is also a total non sequitur to argue from that, that therefore Christianity didn’t start exactly as that same witness says who attests to its fracture; and outright bizarre to conclude that therefore “I admit” it didn’t.
    OK, I was confused about this part. Carrier's position is consistent: he believes that Paul was telling the truth about the singular origins of Christianity, and also that this church suddenly fragmented into a bewildering variety of competing sects. And it is equally obvious to me that Paul was either lying about both issues, or that our surviving copies of Paul have been distorted either historically or theologically, or both.

    This leaves me with a question for Richard: when did the hierarchical, militant leadership of the Roman church emerge, and why?


    Non sequiturs are also present in Russell’s strange move in arguing “surely the near-silence of history regarding that exploding Church is … far more damning to the view that Paul’s epistles reflect the genuine historical state of the Christian movement.” I struggle to discern any logic at all in this statement. Why would the obscurity of a tiny fringe movement, resulting in next to no document survival (and on Russell’s crank view, no document survival at all, as he thinks all the letters of Paul are forged), argue against it being too obscure and fringe to have documents survive? The idiocy in this reasoning is perplexing to me.

    The reason we have next to no documents about the early church, and indeed no third party references to it either, is because it was too small and inconsequential for anyone to notice it in any records we now have; and the much later church that effectively acquired total document control chose not to preserve any of its first century of documentation (apart from some very few edited letters it deemed safe). No other explanation is possible. If there were many parallel versions of Christianity in the way Russell maintains, the silence of the record is just as peculiar. Unless you adopt exactly the same explanation for it.

    What I actually said was this:

    Carrier also makes much of the silence from history about a world-renowned Jesus figure living during the first half of the first century; but when you think about it, if there really was a Pauline Christian Church that was spreading all over the Mediterranean during Paul’s time, surely the near-silence of history regarding that exploding Church is far more significant, and far more damning to the view that Paul’s epistles reflect the genuine historical state of the Christian movement circa 50 AD. It seems far more likely that Paul’s church is a highly fictionalized version of one or more cults that really did exist at that time.

    To further spell out my position: there were many sects existing circa 50 AD which could be considered as embryonic Christian churches in one way or another. Regarding these sects, a significant amount of historical documentation that has survived (although not nearly as much as we would like.) The letters of Paul need to be interpreted carefully, because there might (or might not) be some core portion that was written in the 50's.

    In their received condition, the letters of Paul certainly do describe a Christian church which is exploding all over the Mediterranean, not a tiny and obscure fringe movement.


    Does Russell imagine Rome completely invented these Romulus passion plays after Mark wrote his Gospel in (at its earliest) the 70s A.D.? Based on what wild speculation contrary to all evidence and plausibility?

    No, what I said was:

    the quoted aspects of the Jesus narrative also represent a close parallel to the birth narrative of Augustus Caesar, and the death narrative of Julius Caesar. These narratives all seem somewhat mythologized, and may very well have co-evolved.
    No Richard, I didn't read all your footnotes. Cicero, Livy and Ovid all lived during Augustine times, and thus they were well familiar with the legends of the death of Julius Caesar and the birth of Augustus.


    Russell then bizarrely insists euhemerization “is actually defined as the process by which a human person is converted into a myth.” Um. No. Euhemerus did not take a historical Uranus and Zeus and mythologize them. He took a mythical Uranus and Zeus and historicized them. That’s why that is called “Euhemerization.” That Russell doesn’t know this shows he didn’t read my book’s discussion of Euhemerism, and doesn’t even know why it’s called Euhemerism—why it is named after Euhemerus, what Euhemerus did that the term references (see Euhemerization and my Brief Note). Total ignorance.

    First of all, if there's any total ignorance on display here, it's that Carrier seems to have ignored or failed to understand what I wrote:

    Euhemerus argued that the well-known mythological gods of his time, were actually historical characters that had been deified through the respect of their followers and heirs.

    In writing that, I exhibited some knowledge of historical Euhemerus, eh? Here's Wikipedia on the definition of Euhemerism:

    Euhemerism (/juːˈhiːmərɪzəm, -hɛm-/) is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages.

    The problem here is that Carrier never uses or defines the word "Euhemerism", but rather he discusses the process of "Euhemerization". I wasn't aware at the time I wrote my review, that Carrier had already addressed this issue at his blog (or, I think he did; the publication dates indicated at Carrier's current website seem to be delayed from when the material might have originally appeared at Freethought Blogs -- (see Euhemerization and my Brief Note)).

    I consider Carrier's definition of "Euhemerization" to be a confusing obfuscation, and what it's hiding is that Euhemerus was the first of a long line of philosophers & historians who agree with Euhemerus, that characters such as Zeus and Hercules were men that became deified. And as Don Gakusei wrote at Carrier's blog site comments section: I think you will continue to receive flak on this because your definition is not consistent with the mainstream one. You keep correctly pointing out that Euhemerus turned the gods into men, but you don’t seem to realize the implication: they were just men. To paraphrase the Soup Nazi: “No ascension for you!”

    There are, of course, many historically documented examples of men who became deified; for example, all the Pharaohs, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. So how does that affect your prior probabilities, Richard Carrier?

    Regarding my points about the book of Acts, Carrier wrote:

    And I demonstrate both points there mathematically. I highlighted certain things here to make a point: Russell only mentions “the trial speeches lacked any mention of a historical Jesus,” as if I didn’t also adduce many other oddities in Acts, and tabulate all of them in their mathematical effect. Omitting the best arguments for a conclusion, “refuting” the weakest one instead, and claiming to have refuted them all, is a common cognitive error humans are prone to.

    No, I was refuting a single point (actually, two points), as examples within a brief book review.

    As to my claim to have refuted the book's entire argument: it is rooted in my view that the two hypotheses proposed are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are constructed in denial of the hypothesis that best fits the evidence.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
  10. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    In case anybody is reading through this and trying to make sense of the debate, I'd like to re-emphasize a point I made above:

    In this context, it's important to note that Carrier in "On the Historicity of Jesus" vs. Atwill in "Caesar's Messiah" are addressing two different historical periods. Carrier is primarily interested in the 1st half of the 1st century, when (he believes) Christianity originated. Whereas Atwill is interested in the period beginning after 70 AD and the fall of the Jewish temple, which is the time frame when the Gospels were most likely written.

    None of us at PF have any disagreement with Carrier's central conclusion in Historicity, if it can be summarized as "maybe there was a historical Jesus, but probably there wasn't." In fact, I'm able to hold both concepts in my head simultaneously: that there was a historical Jesus, and there wasn't.

    Or, more specifically: we say that if Biblical Jesus may be taken as a fictional character, he seems to be an avatar for several known historical figures, including Jewish messianic figures as well as Julian and Flavian Roman Emperors. But we don't believe there was any historical individual who was both a messianic jewish figure, and also the true founder of the religion later known as Christianity.

    We say that the foundation of Christianity was a historical process, involving many historical characters, and some who are not generally acknowledged to have been key figures in that process.
  11. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Or in other words, IF there was no historical Jesus of the Gospels, THEN somebody would have to invent him. The process(es), timing, and motivation for the invention, or 'grafting', being the more salient questions.
  12. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    Carrier wrote an entire paragraph to make this exact same point (my emphasis added); although he devoted his entire book to the topic of "did that actually happen", which he says we need to shift away from; those of us who dare to give the obvious answer to the question "what is the author attempting to say" are subject to endless ridicule...

    From Chapter 10 of Carrier's OTHJ, about the Gospels:

    We need to shift entirely to asking the question ‘What is the author attempting to say or accomplish with this story, or with his revision of this story?’ and not ‘Did that actually happen?’ Because the latter simply wasn’t a concern of these authors. Even if they were concerned to convince people it happened, they were not themselves concerned if it actually did. They had a different agenda, and are crafting the myths they need to sell it. The Gospels were produced by faith communities for preaching, teaching and propaganda, and not as disinterested or even interested biographical inquiry. There is no indication in them of a quest to determine what Jesus really said or did. There is no discussion of sources or of reasons to prefer one claim to another or of attempts to interpret contradictory data or even any mention of the existence of real alternative accounts (even though we know they knew of them— because they all covertly used them as source material). Each author just makes Jesus say or do whatever they want. They change the story as suits them and neglect to mention they did so. They craft literary artifices and symbolic narratives routinely. They frequently rewrite classical and biblical stories and just insert Jesus into them. If willing to do all that (and plainly they were), the authors of the Gospels clearly had no interest in any actual historical data. And if they had no interest in that (and plainly they didn’t), they didn’t need a historical Jesus. Even if there had been one, he was wholly irrelevant to their aims and designs. These are thus not historians. They are mythographers; novelists; propagandists. They are deliberately inventing what they present in their texts. And they are doing it for a reason (even if we can’t always discern what that is). The Gospels simply must be approached as such. We have to stop thinking we can use them as historical sources.
  13. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Oh My Sweet Jesus, if only Carrier could discern what the reason is he could be a Postflavian!!!

    'They' are Roman "mythographers, novelists, and propagandists", writing Roman propaganda to fulfill Virgil's 4th Eclogue vision. The latter paid for by his patron, Octavian Augustus Caesar, the Prince of Peace. The former paid for by Josephus et al's patron, the Flavians. This, even while they were becoming 'gods' themselves.

    Soon we'll be shouting, "By George, I think he's got it", and singing "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."
  14. GrayMac

    GrayMac New Member

    Hi Jerry. I'm with Carrier. And I think what you wrote there^ aligns with what he proposes, too.

    Let me elaborate. To euhemerize essentially means to anthropomorphize or to humanize the notion of a god or the notion of their origin/s. Which is what Euhemerus is said to have done about gods that had no known history. (Carrier says 'historicise' above, which I think is unnecessarily ambiguous & potentially vague as all of the entities being discussed and debated are historical entities).

    As an aside, but historically the problem is that discussion of the concept of 'euhemerization' involves a lot of 'person X' said 'person Y' said group D had said. Both pertaining to Euhemerus himself (as we only have second-hand accounts of him); pertaining to what was said about him in early Christianity (and a lot of that was Christians using Euhemerus's proposals to belittle other sect's gods as having supposedly been mere men, compared to Jesus who was in Christian's eyes a manifestation of God who came to earth); and also in recent times (including via web discussions).​

    eg. Serapis is a euhemerized god - originally a combined Osiris + Apis entity that was within 300 years portrayed as a human (and busts show him to be very similar to the images of Jesus, albeit with a modius on his head).

    Carrier is proposing the same for Christ-Jesus, just in a quicker time frame (yet I think his proposals that Christianity started in the first century a.d. undermines many aspects of this thesis; a nebulous, celestial Christ-Jesus humanized as Jesus of Nazareth would seem to fit better as a late first century or even a second century phenomenon to me).
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  15. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Are you aware of any textual accounts of Serapis being accorded as human ala JoN? Of course, Osiris has been claimed to have been the first dynast of Egypt, but perhaps other than that, what besides the first statues would indicate that he was considered other than a typical god?

    In any case, we have the account of Vespasian, with the aid of Serapis and Isis, spitting in the eye of a blind man and restoring his sight.

    Imagine if there was indeed some human mystery cult leader named Jesus, and as such he was covertly accorded (by some at least) the Hellenistic cult appellation of 'Chrest' (like that Chrestus Pater who dedicated the Vatican's tauroctony relief along with Gaurus). The immediate cult knows him as a human, and internal, 'for eyes only' mystery cult texts are written about him as strictly being a human. However, many generations later, when no one still living is around to gainsay, the 'Chrest' is converted to 'Christ', via the eraser on the end of a No. 2 pencil ... or such equivalent.

    Where is there evidence for a 'celestial' Christ-Jesus, beyond that of a purely Hellenistic Iesous Christos? Both latter spellings of which fit exactly within the Platono-Pythagorean sacred geometry schema, while 'Jesus' is otherwise meaningless, except as 'Yeshua' indicating a second coming of 'messiah' Yeshua > Joshua son of Nun (Nun - the Egyptian celestial and primordial waters).

    J. Rendel Harris made a great advance in noticing that otherwise spontaneous 'global' notions of twin humans having either evil or good connotations becoming turned into successively more elaborate cults. They became more elaborate through the witting human interventions of conquering tribes, their governing leaders and shamen cum priests seeing that merging the differences in cult practices were to their combined benefit. Even before becoming aware of Harris's works on this, Jerry and I have been pursuing this notion of witting mergers and acquisitions, of which the logical and historical nexus of the joining of elite Roman and Jewish (Hasmonean) are manifest in Josephus Flavius (and his extended family), and not to slight the Herodians. The most critical (top down) elements of the 'merger' come together, and such elite, educated peoples were certainly aware of the prior mergers, like Serapis, and the political motivation(s) for doing so. And, as Harris astutely pointed out, the apocryphal twin, Judas-Thomas (Didymas), was left on the canonic scrap heap of the new religion, as per disparate global versions of the 'twin' narratives and related literal human practices.
  16. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    For whatever it's worth, here is what Diodorus said about Euhemerus. (This passage from Diodorus is known, in turn, only by virtue of its quotation in Eusebius.)

    [6.1.4] “Now Euhemerus, who was a friend of King Cassander and was required by him to perform certain affairs of state and to make great journeys abroad, says that he travelled southward as far as the ocean; for setting sail from Arabia the Blest he voyaged through the ocean for a considerable number of days and was carried to the shore of some islands in the sea, one of which bore the name of Panchaea. On this island he saw the Panchaeans who dwell there, who excel in piety and honour the gods with the most magnificent sacrifices and with remarkable votive offerings of silver and god.

    [6.1.5] “The island is sacred to the gods, and there are a number of other objects on it which are admired both for their antiquity and for the great skill of their workmanship, regarding which severally we have written in the preceding Books.4

    [6.1.6] “There is also on the island, situated upon an exceedingly high hill, a sanctuary of Zeus Triphylius, which was established by him during the time when he was king of all the inhabited world and was still in the company of men.

    [6.1.7] “And in this temple there is a stele of gold on which is inscribed in summary, in the writing employed by the Panchaeans, the deeds of Uranus and Cronus and Zeus.

    [6.1.8] “Euhemerus goes on to say that Uranus was the first to be king, that he was an honourable man and beneficent, who was versed in the movement of the stars, and that he was also the first to honour the gods of the heavens with sacrifices, whence he was called Uranus or “Heaven.”

    [6.1.9] “There were born to him by his wife Hestia two sons, Titan and Cronus, and two daughters, Rhea and Demeter. Cronus became king after Uranus, and marrying Rhea he begat Zeus and Hera and Poseidon. And Zeus on succeeding to the kingship, married Hera and Demeter and Themis, and by them he had children, the Curetes by the first named, Persephonê by the second, and Athena by the third.

    [6.1.10] “And going to Babylon he was entertained by Belus, and after that he went to the island of Panchaea, which lies in the ocean, and here he set up an altar to Uranus, the founder of his family. From there he passed through Syria and came to Casius, who was ruler of Syria at that time, and who gave his name to Mt. Casius. And coming to Cilicia he conquered in battle Cilix, the governor of the region, and he visited very many other nations, all of which paid honour to him and publicly proclaimed him a god.”
    To put this in modern academic terms: Eusebius (a tertiary source) is quoting Diodorus (a secondary source), who was quoting Euhemerus (a primary source), who said that he traveled to Panchaea where he interviewed the Panchaeans. Those Panchaeans told him that they knew of the deeds and the family history of their king Zeus, and proclaimed that this human person was a god. In other words, Euhemerus allegedly claimed that the Panchaeans were eyewitnesses (or descendants of eyewitnesses?) to the apotheosis of a human king.

    The passage above is quoted by Tim Widowfield in his essay at Vridar, "What is Euhemerism?" Widowfield goes on to explain how Eusebius and Clement of Alexandria applied the insights they learned from Euhemerus:

    Turning gods into men
    An important thing to keep in mind when trying to understand euhemerization is what so-called euhemerists after Euhemerus did. One instructive case is Eusebius, who wrote about Belus (Bel Marduk) as if he were an ordinary mortal king.

    Belus was the king of the Assyrians. During his reign, the Cyclopes brought lightning and thunder to assist Zeus during his battle against the Titans. At the same time, the kings of the Titans were in their prime — including king Ogygus.

    Naturally, Eusebius was embellishing upon what he’d read in Diodorus’s fragment (see 6.1.10). He was describing a fictional human past in which old, mythical gods supposedly arose from the memory of great kings. He’s imagining a historical epoch when some highly respected men walked the earth, and whose reputations grew over time until they were revered as gods.

    This sort of god-demoting apologetic became a familiar weapon in early Christianity. Fentriss and Wickham in Social Memory: New Perspectives on the Past write:

    The subsequent history of the doctrine that the gods were once mortal men is no less interesting. The doctrine was quickly adopted by the Fathers of the Church, who used it as a weapon against pagans: ‘Those to whom you bow were once humans like yourselves‘ (Clement of Alexandria, in [Jean] Seznec 1972: 11 [The Survival of the Pagan Gods]).

    At this point, the interpretation seems clear enough to me. Euhemerus thought that Zeus was a king who had been deified; by extension, the early Christian fathers said that all the Gods other than Jesus himself, were nothing but human imposters.

    My conjecture is that during Roman times, at least some of the plebs were openly skeptical or even scoffing at the attempts to deify Roman monsters such as Nero and Caligula. Such popular Euhemerism must have been one of the problems for official Roman religion that led to the necessity to invent Christianity, IMO.

    But unfortunately, Widowfield can't accept the simple idea that Euhemerization is just a synonym for 'apotheosis'. Instead he gets lost in a muddle, by quoting extensively from a 2013 book, The "Sacred History" of Euhemerus of Messene by Marek Winiarczyk, as well as Carrier's essays, and trying to reconcile them.

    He says:

    In modern descriptions of euhemerism you’ll often find watered-down or even misunderstood versions. For example, in D.M. Murdock’s Christ in Egypt, you’ll find this terse definition in one of the footnotes:

    One of the relatively few actual instances of what is called “euhemerism” or “evemerism”—making a human into a god or goddess, also deemed “apotheosis”—apparently occurred with the Egyptian architect Imhotep [citing Donald Redford, The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion] . . . (Murdock, 2011, p. 10, emphasis mine)

    What’s wrong here is the simple equating of euhemerism to apotheosis. Carrier in a blog post from July 2015 correctly notes:

    I do wonder where the confusion arose among people (and I’ve seen a lot of them online) thinking euhemerization means turning a real person into a god. That’s not euhemerization. That’s deification. Julius Caesar was deified. He was not euhemerized. Euhemerized gods are always historically non-existent.

    Of course I think that Acharya's simple and clear definition is exactly right. Whereas, with Carrier's insistence that "Euhemerized gods are always historically non-existant", Carrier is assuming (with ZERO evidence) that Euhemerus and his Panchaean witnesses were lying, deluded, making a joke, or being misquoted (or all three.)

    In further support of my position, I offer another quote given by Widowfield:

    The word “euhemerism” entered the English language back in 1846 (see the OED Compact Edition, 1986, p. 902). According to Max Müller (1864):

    . . . Euhemerism has become the recognised title of that system of mythological interpretation which denies the existence of divine beings, and reduces the gods of old to the level of men. Distinction, however, must be made between the complete and systematic denial of all gods, which is ascribed to Euhemerus, and the partial application of his principles which we find in many Greek writers. (Müller, 1864, p. 397)

    Which I feel is compatible with what Acharya said. For whatever it's worth, Widowfield feels that Carrier's definition is not exactly right, either:

    For Carrier to be correct, then the word euhemerize would have to be identically synonymous with historicize, and that cannot be the case. If Carrier is right, we would have to leave aside the bulk of what Euhemerus and later euhemerists said and did.

    Were the evagelists rationalizing Jesus? Were they desupernaturalizing him? Absolutely not. They may well indeed have been historicizing the life of Jesus on Earth. And that’s a perfectly fine way to put it. Let me be clear: My quibble isn’t with Carrier’s overall thesis. I merely contend that his use of the terms euhemerist, euhemerism, and euhemerize conflicts with Euhemerus’s own writings and all euhemerist practitioners thereafter.

    Isn't it possible that Serapis, Osiris, and/or Apis could be understood as purely celestial or spiritual deities, and yet they could be depicted in human form?

  17. GrayMac

    GrayMac New Member

    I think that Euhemerus describing Uranus and Zeus as human kings with human attributes is what euhemerization is (even if they were or are subsequently thought to have been deified humans ie. thought to have or portrayed as having undergone apotheosis). They were given tangible families, etc., as part of their anthropomorphisation (where their genesis had previously been unknown).


    But, the point is not that "Euhemerus thought that Zeus was a king who had been deified", it is that Euhemerus portrayed Zeus as a human king [thus giving the impression he had previously been a human who had been deified, as apposed to having been only known as a celestial god].

    Tim Widowfield mangled the concept and any attempt at clarification in his long-winded Vridar post.

    Euhemerization is not a synonym for 'apotheosis'.

    Denying deification is not euhemerism (otherwise you'd have to say euhmerisim is also denying apotheosis, which would be a denial of what you think euhemerization/euhemerism is)

    If you don't think euhemerism/euhemerization is a term for depicting celestial or spiritual deities as humans or having human form, but is a synonym for apotheosis [and deification], what term or word would you use for depicting celestial or spiritual deities as humans or having human form?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  18. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    I'm not sure when Jerry will be responding, as he's traveling currently.

    In any case, I'm wondering how you might characterize J. Rendel Harris's thesis in his The Dioscuri in the Christian Legends and The Cult of the Heavenly Twins of the Catholic Church's wholesale demotion of numerous local cult variants of twin and triplet gods and goddesses to being among the church's early saints? Perhaps the most notable being the egg-born Dioscuri twins, Castor and Polydueces, and their sister Helen. In these cases, the process is intended to make the adherents, over generations perhaps, forget that these individuals were ever gods or goddesses. Is there a terms for such process, and if not, perhaps we could coin the terms Harrisism (or Harrisy? :rolleyes:) and Harrisification?

    Harris's assertion that the gospel Jesus was likely first proffered as a type of twin, along with 'Judas Thomas' / Didymas Thomas (and then the latter twin being left on the apocryphal cutting room floor generations later when the church became formalized), now gives me some allegorical and symbolic appreciation of such as the story of the descent from the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley, the entrance of the solar 'Christ' through the 'eastern gate', etc. as more adaptive imitatio from the pagan cosmological library.

    Harris also advanced the notion that, via common 'global' scale, tribal considerations of twin and triplet-ship, that the ubiquitous and 'spontaneous' human development of twin and triplet gods and goddesses sprang, with their rather common human attributes paralleled in the respective divine aspects. Harris then adds that, prior to Christianity, that competing and neighboring local 'twin' cults become syncretized, apparently as the outfall of martial conflict or other (political?) concerns. And that such is also part of the Judaic corpus, for example, with the likes of twins, Esau and Jacob, having the same characteristics. Albeit, Jacob wrestles God, not his brother.
  19. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    OK, I've come up with a possible way to understand the term, in a way that's readily distinguished from either apotheosis, or pure mythicism. Although I doubt that this proposal will make Carrier happy.

    Without having done any further research, it's occurred to me that Carrier might be able to make me look really bad for having said that. Perhaps by some archaeological research, it might be possible to prove that Zeus was known as a thunder god since thousands of years before Euhemerus visited Panchaea. (Indeed it seems highly plausible, based on Indo-European linguistics alone.) And yet, the Panchaens might also be telling the truth, when they said they were governed by a personal incarnated deity named Zeus.

    Some new-age religious practitioners believe that Jesus has been reincarnated many times.


    A quick Wikipedia consultation turns up a list of approximately 40 individuals who have been nominated as incarnations of Jesus just since the 18th century, including Baha'u'llah and Sun Myung Moon. Such a claim would obviously be secondary or derivative from a historical or logical point of view, but no less binding on true believers of the faith.

    Could this be a definition of Euhemerism that makes sense? (Although, I would add, it's not consistent with traditional use, any more than Carrier's proposal.)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018

Share This Page