Richard Carrier replies!

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure, then, how could Josephus be writing about Basilides? And, how could Vespasian meet with Basilides? Vespasian died in 79 AD, and the Antiquities was finished about 94 AD.

Could there be more than one person named Basilides? And if Josephus is writing about an earlier Basilides, perhaps that person isn't connected with the later Saturninus?
Those gnostics had a very long lifespan Jerry. :rolleyes:

The 'late' Basilides aside, we're already spanning 3 generations of Origins process, unless one wants to skip such as Tiberius ... and/or that other Pandera. Perhaps such as 'Basilides' is more a title as I have speculated for 'Chrest' the 'good', and the same for 'Christ' the 'anointed', but as his son Isadore was apparently his successor, then this seems less likely.

It appears that both Basilides's and Valentinus's systems were a subsequent strata of 'gnosticism', more Hellenized than the prior, what I'll call the Egypto-Judaic system. Here, it is interesting that 'Basilides' means 'royal' or 'kingly', similar to the NZR Egyptian root that I believe is the basis of the Biblical 'Nazarite'.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Those gnostics had a very long lifespan Jerry.
Indeed. In raising this objection to Claude's interpretation of the Triptych, I'm hoping that there is a plausible explanation. This was a missing piece of the puzzle in Joe's solution, as to why Paulina/Fulvia's husband is Saturninus.
 

Seeker

Active Member
I'm not sure, then, how could Josephus be writing about Basilides? And, how could Vespasian meet with Basilides? Vespasian died in 79 AD, and the Antiquities was finished about 94 AD.

Could there be more than one person named Basilides?
I thought I was told that the Ellis take on this was that the "first" Basilides was Jesus/Izates/etc. giving his official submission and legitimate ordaining of power to Vespasian in exchange for his life, is this in error?
 
"Saturninus called vegetarian"
Is this what you meant to say? And/or what is the significance?

If Serapis is Osiris, superceder of Anubis, and Vespasian is typologically superceding Vitellius, do we have and parallel data for Vitellius?

Osiris's problems with his brother Set is interesting as well, in regards to Jesus and 'brother' Satan.
I should have said "Saturninus was called a vegetarian there", a description not applied to Basilides. Seventh-day Adventists are vegetarians as were many early Gnostics, vegetarianism being part of the giving-up of animal sacrifice ceremonies.

Otherwise too, your posting is very insightful, Richard!

Yours faithfully
Claude
 
Your penchant for Fawlty reconstructions and interpretations of Basilides is a gift to Christian orthodoxy.:D

So when I wrote "Basilides is commonly considered the earliest Gnostic (120 AD)." …
I'm not sure, then, how could Josephus be writing about Basilides? And, how could Vespasian meet with Basilides? Vespasian died in 79 AD, and the Antiquities was finished about 94 AD.
… I was merely reporting the common academic viewpoint, since the Heresiologists identify Basilides as predating Valentinus and Marcion. Academia however will not allow Gnosticism to go back to the 1st century, so posits that Basilides and his compatriot Saturninus, lived about 120-130 AD.

Josephus does NOT write about Basilides; rather, he writes about Saturninus in the TWO latter pieces of the triptych, the Gnostic Saturninus readily inferred from the tryptich's content and their intimate relation to the first piece, the Testamentum Flavianum. The connection here is that the heresiologists (Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Epiphanius) all link Saturninus to Basilides. Since Saturninus has a "Flavian-link-to-Jesus" role in Josephus, it then occurred to me that a similar role for Basilides might be found in Suetonius and Tacitus - so when I looked, I hit the bullseyes in that Basilides, both at Mt. Carmel and Alexandria, enters a temple to worship the "new" god there - Vespasian.
Could there be more than one person named Basilides? And if Josephus is writing about an earlier Basilides, perhaps that person isn't connected with the later Saturninus?
We are talking of a Gnostic priest called Basilides, not other people of that name. Josephus mentions only Saturninus but the cognoscenti among the inventors of Christianity already knew of the connection between Basilides and Saturninus. Only academic conventional idiocy places Basilides in the 2nd century - ignoring the Saturninus link and unaware of Joe's discovery of the triptych.*

How strange then that the heresiologists should link Saturninus and Basilides, while we find the Christian link to Saturninus in Josephus and the Vespasian-Basilides link in both Suetonius and Tacitus. You cannot tell me that these later historians were unaware of the Saturninus-Basilides link, even though you could postulate that Josephus was unaware of Basilides.

So no dice Jerry - because you are indulging in special pleading (though how could one mathematicise that????). The Basilides-Saturninus Gnostic link to the Flavian origin of Christianity (I.e. the Vespasian/Titus to Jesus link) is clear by seeing and combining the connections from Josephus and Suetonius/Tacitus.

Yours faithfully
Claude

*In fact, I saw a recent academic review article (2019) on the Christ-myth. It gives Joe Atwill only a footnote reference - to the oldest edition of CM - and describes him as a "conspiracy" theorist since he is the only Christ-myth advocate who asks the all-important 'WHY' question. (I.e. a true conspiracy theorist is one who asks 'why'!):cool:
 
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The Carrier pigeon explicitly invoked Einstein's Relativity (not Galileo's) hence the reduction of objects and people to "abstract passive points" is an inevitable deduction from Einsteinian theory - hence Carrier does not need to invoke "passive points" explicitly...
Abstract passive points? He doesn't say that at all. He only says that 'intersectionality' is a function that applies to everyone.
...since 'intersectionality' inevitably invokes the idea that individuals are completely controlled by their social environment.
Perhaps the problem is, really, that Carrier reveals himself to be an Einsteinian? And having identified that one fact about him, you feel justified in rejecting his entire body of work, and all his various and diverse political opinions expressed in the linked essay?
Indeed so, since people who invoke Einstein's stuff even without really understanding it are thinking in this mechanistic way where individuals are merely pushed and pulled by external forces, - their agency, their free will, negated in the process, i.e. essentially denying the victims the ability to think at all!

Eugen Duehring, the socialist opponent to Marx & Engels, thought along similar lines, reducing "the silly delusions of inner freedom" to "the relation between rational judgment on one hand and instinctive impulses on the other", the human being reduced to an inert point or internally static "billiard ball" type of object. Engels replied to this BS with:
Engels-anti-Duehring said:
(Page 140, I:11) Viewed thus, freedom consists in rational judgment pulling a man to the right while irrational impulses pull him to the left, and in this parallelogram of forces the actual movement proceeds in the direction of the diagonal. Freedom is therefore the mean between judgment and impulse, reason and unreason, and its degree in each individual case can be determined on the basis of experience by a 'personal equation', to use an astronomical expression. But a few pages later on we find: [Duehring] "We base moral responsibility on freedom which however means nothing more to us than susceptibility to conscious motives in accordance with our natural and acquired intelligence.".... This second definition of freedom, which quite unceremoniously gives a knock-out blow to the first one, is again nothing but an extreme vulgarization of the Hegelian conception.
Carrier's crude thinking reflects Einstein's theory own crudity, reducing people to mere passive points pushed hither and thither as by a parallelogram of forces - i.e. "intersectionality" - rational and irrational.

Yours faithfully
Claude
 
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Dear Seeker,

Your idea seems very plausible to me.
I thought I was told that the Ellis take on this was that the "first" Basilides was Jesus/Izates/etc. giving his official submission and legitimate ordaining of power to Vespasian in exchange for his life, is this in error?
Given that one of the names of this Jesus-Izates was Basilides, then the name could later be applied to a heretical version of Gnostic-Christianity since the earliest versions of Christianity were all unacceptably Gnostic for later Christian traditions - the name 'Basilides' then being used to identify a heresy, one begun by a mythical character called 'Basilides' - the Saturninus link from Josephus perhaps being added only by Suetonius and Tacitus. We see something like this joke-naming in the gospels' comedy where the rabble call for the release of Barabbas - i.e. "son of the father" - rather than Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully
Claude

PS: And so we can answer Jerry's conundrum.
This was a missing piece of the puzzle in Joe's solution, as to why Paulina/Fulvia's husband is Saturninus.
Fulvia comes from a word meaning yellow in a broader browner sense than 'Flavus' (= Flavian). I.e. she is a downmarket Flavian much as Paulina is a downmarket transvestitured St. Paul. It is all a joke, hence too the word "saturnine" meaning gloomy, slow and remote - he is embarrassed by the "Christian" goings-on of his wife/wives. So it is therefore very likely that the heresiologists' story of Basilides and Saturninus being fellow-students of Simon Magus is just a hand-me-down story, repeated as "gospel truth" by the (presumably) devout heresiologists.
 
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Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
And here I thought that 'intersectionality' merely referred to the fact that differnt individuals or groups can have varying 'interest' positions on a range of issues relative to whatever informs them in the short or long term. The manner in which one issue divides differently than the next one creating ever smaller groupings. But even this is relativity, eh? No, Everything is binary, white and black ... as those Jesu and Masons say. Even those damn epigenes.

Given that one of the names of this Jesus-Izates was Basilides, then the name could later be applied to a heretical version of Gnostic-Christianity since the earliest versions of Christianity were all unacceptably Gnostic for later Christian traditions - the name 'Basilides' then being used to identify a heresy, one begun by a mythical character called 'Basilides' - the Saturninus link from Josephus perhaps being added only by Suetonius and Tacitus. We see something like this joke-naming in the gospels' comedy where the rabble call for the release of Barabbas - i.e. "son of the father" - rather than Jesus Christ.
Basilides is also accorded as the guy who stated that it was Simon of Cyrene who was nailed to the cross. From him may likely have been the source for it becoming the Islamic tradition, of such as Arrians or Nestorians carried Isa(Izates) forth to them.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
I was merely reporting the common academic viewpoint,
So just to be clear, you are disputing the "common academic viewpoint" and arguing that Basilides and Saturninus were active in the ~70 AD time frame?

Josephus does NOT write about Basilides;
Yes, excuse me, I got confused. I should have asked "How could Josephus have been writing about your Saturninus, if Basilides was his contemporary?" But, your explanation covers this confusion on my part.

...since 'intersectionality' inevitably invokes the idea that individuals are completely controlled by their social environment.
No, just the idea that individuals are effected or influenced by their social environment. Your statement is an overstated "straw man", as opposed to Carrier's original point which should be completely non-controversial, if not downright trite.
 
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Yes, Jerry, I accept your first comments above - that the academic viewpoint merely obscures the reality of the Basilides-Saturninus connection, otherwise obvious from the three heresiologists (Irenaeus, Hippolytus & Epiphanius).

As for the last point, indeed I would have accepted your criticism as the underlined point is trite, even bland...
No, just the idea that individuals are effected or influenced by their social environment. Your statement is an overstated "straw man", as opposed to Carrier's original point which should be completely non-controversial, if not downright trite.
...but the assertion on your part as to overstatement rests only on your belief in the benignity of Einstein's relativity* and Carrier's presumed ignorance of the details and implications of Einstein's relativity theory, given that it is commonly believed in.

Yours faithfully
Claude

*In Clark's biography of Einstein p. 422 he quotes Einstein's "modest" reply (on the very weekend of the Wall St. Crash in 1929) deflecting a claim as to his greatness.
Einstein said:
I claim credit for nothing. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.
IOW Einstein does not merely believe the trite observation that "individuals are effected or influenced by their social environment". Rather, Einstein's "intersectionality" is that everything - every human thought, behavior and action - is predetermined by the universe itself (given Einstein's Spinozan atheism). That is why Carrier's pigeon-brained invocation of Einstein's relativity implies much more than the trite comment that you have interpreted it as meaning.

This is what Einstein (and the original Protestantism of Luther's pessimism and Calvin's optimism) is all about. Tell us that everything is predetermined (so as to absolve himself and his cronies from blame in advance) then speculate to your heart's & wallet's content in finance and physics - then ultimately force the results down the necks of the ignorant masses!
 
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Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Calvin's 'error' was that he made exoteric doctrine of what was ever before esoteric doctrine of the Mother Church. Predestination of the Elect is in the canon, ... not the catechism. But that was his role, the dialectic foil of his Sorbonne schoolmate Ignatius of Loyola. Neither of which were their given names, BTW.

The first statement of faith of the Low Church Baptists mistakenly included Predestination of the Elect and had to be promptly redacted. It does not do well for the ragged sheep to learn the wily ways of the lords of the manors, the shepherds. It would alter their behavior within a new social environment. This is the function of designer Culture. Good genes versus blue jeans?
 
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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Einstein said:
Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
This quote exemplifies Einstein's famous rejection of quantum theory and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. It has nothing to do with relativity. Galilean and Newtonian physics were just as deterministic as Einstein's relativistic physics. Whereas nowadays, nobody believes this anymore.
 
Very insightful comment, Richard.
Calvin's 'error' was that he made exoteric doctrine of what was ever before esoteric doctrine of the Mother Church. Predestination of the Elect is in the canon, ... not the catechism. But that was his role, the dialectic foil of his Sorbonne schoolmate Ignatius of Loyola. Neither of which were their given names, BTW.
The big difference presumably being that Calvin was NOT hit between the legs by a cannonball, which meant that Ignatius had to forever direct his attention to spiritual rather than physical matters.;)

Low indeed...
The first statement of faith of the Low Church Baptists mistakenly included Predestination of the Elect and had to be promptly redacted. It does not do well for the ragged sheep to learn the wily ways of the lords of the manors, the shepherds. It would alter their behavior within a new social environment. This is the function of designer Culture. Good genes versus blue jeans?
... but predestination hides among Church councils and discussions, being hidden from the ordinary catechisms, its implications sometimes drawn out exquisitely.

In the Anglican Church there were a rejected series of articles for the church called the "Lambeth Articles" (these are described in two theological texts I inherited from my Anglican minister grandfather viz. E. J. Bicknell, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles, and W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology - the former an Arminian, the latter a Canadian Calvinist). These took predestination to its logical conclusion, claiming that God predestined those slated for damnation as much as those slated for salvation - such articles were rejected as too horrific, so the doctrine of preterition was substituted instead - i.e. that the damned are those who "fall by the wayside", overlooked by a God who nevertheless counts every falling sparrow and tells believers - presumably individually - that they are worth "many sparrows".

Too many mysteries - or just extrapolationomania?

Yours faithfully
Claude
 
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Thank you for the reference Jerry, as I had not looked at this earlier section where you discussed Gnosis with GrayMac
I'd agree that the radical, messianic and militant Jewish sects of 1st century Palestine, probably were not "well-defined versions" of Christianity. I advocate for a "mergers and acquisitions" model of the growth of early Christianity. The Roman church grew by co-opting themes from various religions into their own literature, and by recruiting followers from other religions, when they could not directly co-opt the leadership of competing sects.

Our argument is essentially literary, that Biblical Jesus seems to be typologically related to the various Jewish messianic figures mentioned in Josephus, such as Judas the Galilean, The Egyptian, and the Woe-Saying Jesus. These, in turn, also seem to resemble characters found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, I conclude that these messianic figures probably did exist, and that the Roman religion strongly appealed to followers of those various messianic figures.
Your observations on GrayMac are quite correct.
Peter and James seem to have been Essene messianic radicals, at least if Eisenman's reading of the DSS is correct. Josephus' depiction of James is also consistent with the idea that James was an Essene radical. So, one might suppose that the church of Peter and James was an Essene sect. And, their sect is depicted as a proto-Christian church in the book of Acts.
Essene theology can easily be seen as proto-Christian, as it was more extreme than Pharisaism, i.e. more anti-Sadducee and more anti-Temple Judaism. However Essenism itself evolved. In my opinion there is a change from older Essenism (the DSS, i.e. before 50 BCE) to the Therapeutae (10BCE-30AD as described by Philo) to the Essenes according to Josephus, which latter must date to about 40-60AD, though many don't agree with me here.
The Sethians and Simonians first appear in the historical record in the 2nd century, as heterodox Jewish-Hellenistic Christian sects. So they might very possibly be connected to the 1st century Essene radical sects, though I'm sure Carrier would complain that there's no real evidence of that. The Mandaeans (possibly aka Nazarenes, Nasoreans and Sabians) also seem related, although again there's no accepted evidence or proof of their status or existence in the 1st century AD or before.
The Carrier pigeon can flap on about whatever he likes :rolleyes: - and I know that above, Jerry, you are merely (and rightly) presenting the standard teachings, the agreed baseline.

The emerging understanding however is that Sethian Gnosticism is older, since it is a specifically anti-Jewish heresy. Mandaeism is a form of Sethian Gnosticism as it invokes the Biblical Seth (Shitil) as a being involved in human salvation, likewise with the Biblical Enosh (Anush) and the more recently introduced Abel (Hibil). This very issue is why I went to the UK last year, but the material evidence is not yet fully written up, let alone published. I have not been invited (yet?) to write up my contribution there - and was unable to due to sickness last October, then my mother's final illness and death after that.

That Mandaeism is nevertheless distinct from Nag Hammadi Sethianism indicates the movement's great age - especially as the Mandaean Ardban (Artaban II) from 12-38AD is intimately involved in the Adiabene scandal revealed by Ralph Ellis. That Mandaeism is not derivative of Nag Hammadi Sethianism is clear from the Second Series of the Four Luminaries (the first series being Harmozel, Oroiael, Daviethe and Eleleth) - these being Gamaliel, Gabriel, Samblo & Abrasax. Mandaeism shares some of the Second Series characters, notably Samblo and Gabriel, but is different in details. Nevertheless their common origin is quite clear - but this origin in equally clearly a BCE one - and one that is extremely anti-Jewish, despite Mandaeism being soundly based upon Jewish ideas! Mandaeism too, certainly had connections to the earlierst Christianity but is NOT derivative from Christianity.
Yes, and I raised this issue in my original review of Carrier's book. Robert M. Price thinks that the Pauline corpus is mostly, or perhaps entirely, a late forgery. I wasn't meaning to say I'm sure Price is correct, only that it deserves consideration. Carrier's concept of describing the possibilities with a Bayesian probability distribution could be useful here, and I suppose my review could have been clearer.
Much of Paul has been reworked, but the original Paul predates the canonical Gospels. E.g. the Paul-Seneca correspondence lists three epistles, Corinthians, Achaeans and Galatians! Achaeans has been reworked to become 2-Corinthians, while the other two epistles have also been modified. Nevertheless, they with 1-Thessalonians show a pre-canonical Christianity where the Jews kill Jesus rather than lobbying the Romans to do it.

Such material is NOT part of Mandaeism which, like Islam later on, has no interest in a Jesus killed by Jews-&/or-Romans. Instead, Mandaeism upholds John the Baptist as a human being exemplifying their baptismal practices.

Joe Atwill had not seen the two-stage process, but the reworking of Paul's epistles came along with the finalizing of the canonical Gospels, which clearly occurred in the wake of the Bithynian massacres of Christians who would not worship the Emperor but fantasized a heavenly Jesus instead (the Trajan-Pliny correspondence), one Who once lived on Earth under Pontius Pilate! So in no way does this detract from Joe's understanding of the Rome-Jewish War as pivotal in creating Christianity. Rather, it highlights the roles of Basilides and Saturninus whose influence is earlier than scholars imagine as they are revealed by Tactius & Suetonius (Basilides) and Josephus (Satornilus [sic] or Saturninus).

Much confusion over the time of origin of Sethianism has been created by academics such as John D. Turner, who, in his 2001 work, Sethian Gnosticism and the Platonic Tradition, treats Mandaeism as a side issue as he seems not to recognize it as Sethian. He imagines it all to arise in the 2nd century - hence when the Gospel of Judas (< 150 AD) was published, he then misrepresented its evidence in order to claim that it was an early form of Sethian Gnosticism. Rather, it is clearly a later form of Sethian Gnosticism, revealing his whole dating framework to be quite bogus, especially as his real interest was in studying the Platonic influence in Nag Hammadi texts (in which he does a good job).

Yours faithfully
Claude
 
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Charles Watkins

Active Member
Sorry I missed GrayMac's time here as he seems to have some good insights into Marcion's movement, my latest interest. I suspect Marcionism was not a spontaneous development, but a reboot of what Bartram calls the 'Chrestian' sect. Marcion's innovation was the introduction of the 'Paul' character to pronounce that Jesus was the 'Chrest' incarnate. Yes, Marcion used the term 'Chrest'. His churches were in a lot of the same places.

Bartram posits an Egyptian origin for 'Chrest', pointing to Philo's synthesis of Plato and Judaism. How would that hop over to the Black Sea to be taken up by Marcion? I suppose Egypt's trading interests may have extended that far, but there may have been political reasons for such an alliance. After all, Pontus was the domain of Mithradates VI, legendary challenger to Rome. If Marcion was fronting for Alexandrian interests who had already established 'Chrestian' congregations in anti-Roman areas, it would explain his rapid growth. (If the Romans were going to have their Jesus, the Alexandrians would have their Paul.) It is looking as though the defamed 'Christians' who were so reviled in Rome turn out to be Marcionites.

All I'm finding on Marcion is a sketchy personal history and some speculation on his beliefs based on what his opponents said about him. According to Ray Embry http://geocities.com/athens/ithaca/3827/marcion.html his innovations were:

  1. The "faith only" movement (solafideism),
  2. The theory of dispensationalism,
  3. The concept of "New Testament Christianity,"
  4. The New Testament itself, as a distinct body of inspired writings,
  5. Sola Scriptura, the idea that all Christian teachings should be based solely on the Scriptures (The New Testament).
How well this jibes with 'Chrestianity' is going to take me back into Bartram.

I also came across a theory by Matthias Klinghardt that Marcion's gospel was based on a proto-Luke, which preceded the canonical gospels but was later redacted by Marcion and then the Catholics. He also suggests that Marcion became active somewhat earlier than generally assumed. Klinghardt's book is in German, so I got this off a site called Our Beans: http://sanctushieronymus.blogspot.com/
 

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
Bartram posits an Egyptian origin for 'Chrest', pointing to Philo's synthesis of Plato and Judaism. How would that hop over to the Black Sea to be taken up by Marcion?
The same way that (Chreste) Isis and Serapis made their way to Rome, and the Jewish 'Alexander' clan became besties with such as the Flavians.
I suppose Egypt's trading interests may have extended that far, but there may have been political reasons for such an alliance. After all, Pontus was the domain of Mithradates VI, legendary challenger to Rome. If Marcion was fronting for Alexandrian interests who had already established 'Chrestian' congregations in anti-Roman areas, it would explain his rapid growth.
More than just traders shuttled around the Mediterranean and substantially further. For instance, Buddhists were in Palestine and elsewhere, and Alexander the Great (OG) had Hellenized them to some extent in Bactria. And there was the mail system.

It does make a lot of sense that there would be competing factions between those advancing a new 'religion' as well as political/cultural opposition from the Old Guard. This is the argument made for the violent schism between the Atenists and the Amunists of Egypt. Besides the Amun priesthood being endangered, many or most of the nomes' nobles stood to lose politically and financially.

Players like Marcion, Origen, Basilides, Valentinus, Clement of Alexandria, etc., likely eventually lost out because they were too closely connected to the transitional strata that eventually had to be discarded in favor of the new construct. The new construct which whittled down the prior divine twin system to just Jesus and his daddy, and that ghost. Twin Judas-Thomas had to go as well, in this case to our memory holes and India (where it seems he had some prior zodiacal history as I might be posting soon on the Chrest to Christ post).
 
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