"At present I see no reason to beleive that Carotta has anything more than a few minor coincidences."
Well, have you looked at what is on his website? There is a lot mentioned there. Still more points of coincidence are of course described in the book. Just a couple of the coincidences that I was struck by:
1) One of the great issues in the lead-up to the civil war between Caesar and Pompey was the moblization of troops by Pompey which was seen as a preparation for war by Caesar. According to Carotta, Pompey corresponds to John the Baptist. (John the Baptist is reproached for baptizing 'And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ')
From the point of view of the Roman soldiers, their experience of such arming of troops and mobilization was dominated by inspection which included ritual cleansings and sacrifices. A cleansing of the soldiers themselves and also of their weapons, as a religious ceremony.
The Latin description of this, lustratio, was understood by the translators as washing and cleansing, So the whole concept was reinterpreted as a concept more familiar to a story set in Judaea: the ritual cleansing of baptism...
2) Jesus is known for his healing of the lame and the blind. Carotta feels that these have their source in a consistent misunderstanding of Roman names by their literal translations: Caecilii (blind) Claudii (lame) Metellus (mutilus, mutilated).
This message has been edited by Aquitaine, May-05-2005 03:50 AM
This sounds even worse. In an account supposedly starting with the civil wars between Caesar and Pompey, Pompey is seen as a simple predecessor to Caeasar ? And why would Pompey be seen as the originator of baptism anyway ?
No, this makes even less sense.
The names look like another coincidence, and I have to question whether all the translations are correct. Why would Metellus refer to mutilus and not the perfectly good Latin word metellus ?
It helps if you try to follow the argument first, and then criticise it later.
quote: In an account supposedly starting with the civil wars between Caesar and Pompey, Pompey is seen as a simple predecessor to Caeasar ? And why would Pompey be seen as the originator of baptism anyway ?
Pompey was specifically the Golden Child of roman senatorial politics for several decades in his youth, achieved ranks he should have been too young to be eligible for, and had a very impressive career as a general. In many ways, yes, he laid the foundations for the one-man rule the Caesar actually implemented (... by accident, as some would say), and so again, it is not prima facie ridiculous to see in him an analogy to John.
And the lustration perfoemd by soldiers probably goes back to the very early republic as a ritual of entry into the military. Nothing in the above seems to suggest the claim is that Pompey invented the lustration, but rather, again, that the event of Pompey's raising legions and inducting troops, is beeing echoed in covert terms in the christian doctrine.
Please note I have not read the site further, nor do I have an opinion on its content. But you appear to be assuming the worst, and then reading the content in that light.
This message has been edited by contracycle, 05-05-2005 05:19 AM
You're not taking account of the context. Supposedly the story BEGINS with Caesar crossing the Rubicon, initiating the armed conflict. In that conflict Pompey is the leading opponent. So Pompey's role in this part of the story is markedly different from the role of John the Baptist.
And why see Pompey as setting the foundations for "one man rule" ?Surely Sulla is a better candidate ?
And I agree that the lustrations were probably an old custom. So why are baptisms not presented as an old custom in the Gospels ?
quote: You're not taking account of the context. Supposedly the story BEGINS with Caesar crossing the Rubicon, initiating the armed conflict. In that conflict Pompey is the leading opponent. So Pompey's role in this part of the story is markedly different from the role of John the Baptist.
Well, fair enough, except remember that Caesar is married to Pompeys daughter IIRC and in some senses his protege. Yes they do end as opponents, but they have a long shared history prior to that.
quote: And why see Pompey as setting the foundations for "one man rule" ?Surely Sulla is a better candidate ?
The important point is that the account is supposedly dealing with the period when Caesar and Pompey were enemies. Why then should the description of their relationship be solely based on their previous history together ? (And even that vaguely, omitting important details).
Well, becuase Pompey was a much more plausible inheritor of the precedent established by Sulla than Caesar. Pompey was famous, established, popular. Caesars actual triumph in the civil war was a bit of an upset, and I don't think most people would have bet on it at the time. Hence, one might plausibly see that the mandate of heaven had passed from Pompey to Caesar.
But please remember I am not actually defending the theory. But that said, there have been other speculations that Roman christianity is really the cult of Sol Invictus, and so the liturgical text as constructed in order to suggest relations and imply inevitability would have been right up its imperial ally.
But the fact is that Sulla forced his way into the Dictatorship and held it, refusing to resign after 6 months according to the tradition. So in terms of establishing the rule of a single man over Rome, Sulla is more of a precedent than Pompey (who never achieved that).
And as I understand it the Sol Invictus connection is supposed to go back only to Constantine. That's too late to have a major effect on the Gospels.
quote: But the fact is that Sulla forced his way into the Dictatorship and held it, refusing to resign after 6 months according to the tradition. So in terms of establishing the rule of a single man over Rome, Sulla is more of a precedent than Pompey (who never achieved that).
Yes, fair enough, that the way we understand the history. Thats also why of you were a Divus Juliius partisan you would probably rather elide such matters, eh?
The proposition is that this is a propgandist reification of Juliian camps point of view. Comparing it to strict history seems rather innapropriate; the claim being advanced is that it IS propganda, not history.
PaulK, I do respect your objections, but consistently, there are answers to them, I just don't have a lot of time to research and explain.
contracycle, thanks! You are exactly right: we cannot look at this from the perspective and understanding of our time, but from the perspective of the original worshipers of Divus Iulius, and ALSO from the warped perspective of those who had later (mis)translated from the Latin texts into Greek.
Your mention too, of propaganda is very appropriate. During the time period after 44BC, a merging of religion with political propaganda was nearly 100%. For the Romans, finding the solution to the problem of governing a continually growing empire using a city-state political infrastructure and mentality was number-one priority. Certain details of Caesar last years indicates that he was turning to god-rulership as the chosen solution, and to slowly replace the city-state structures..
Octavian/Augustus would have to fight his way to absolute control of the empire, but he succeeds only after many difficult years. Cassius and Brutus needed to be defeated. And Sextus Pompey. Finally Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian was heir by adoption, remember. In that way he claimed to be the Son of God (Divus Iulius). But there was Cleopatra and Julius Caesar's true son (by birth) Caesarion, and in him, Antony had an ace up his sleeve. These two opposing claims to inheritance of the god Divus Iulius would result in a long theological war of words, all of them with political intentions and meanings. (What is the greater: Son of God by adoption, or Son of God by birth? etc.)
When Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra, another just as urgent religious propaganda campaign begins: Octavian has to erase and nullify the religious messages of Antony and Cleopatra (who was probably a master at religious propaganda, having inherited vast propagandistic knowledge accumulated over many generations of Ptolemies ruling over Egypt, the most religiously based governmental system in the world...!) ; these messages and propaganda had set-down roots over MANY years.
From Octavian's intolerance for the relics of Antonian/Cleopatrian propaganda (all in religious terms), comes the beginnings of "Christian" hunts for heretics and "Christian" intolerance for differing interpretations of doctrine! Of course, now we see and understand all of this from a "Christian" interpretation and perspective. We only receive knowledge of all this through the curtain of centuries of medieval ignorance and also the censoring hand of Octavian/Augustus durig the decades that he had compete, absolute control. He had ample time to wipe-out all traces of opposing views, and even to rewrite history in order to consolidate his political/religious claims to absolute power...
This idea that the gospels might source originally from Latin histories of Julius Caesar sounds absolutely nutty-crazy at first. At first.
There is a lot of learning and unlearning to do before one can begin to see how plausible it is.
This message has been edited by Aquitaine, May-05-2005 05:49 PM
This message has been edited by Aquitaine, May-05-2005 05:50 PM
This message has been edited by Aquitaine, May-05-2005 06:05 PM
The Gospel of John first presents John the Baptist within a clash between light and darkness:
‘And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’
The context is the argument between Jesus and the Baptist, or more specifically between their followers, which once more is taken up and stated more precisely in Jn. 3:22.
Just one. problem - it isn't true. The verse is John 1:5. The following verses refer to John the Baptist - his first mention in the Gospel - but hardly indicate conflict between John and the light - or conflict between the followers of Jesus and the Baptist respectively:
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.
I am not sure you are really pointing out anything important.
Carotta quotes John 1:5, as you say.
It is not a stretch to connect the meaning of this sentence with the immediately following sentences. It is setting the stage so to speak, for the next sentences.
According to the Carotta theory, we must keep in mind that we are reading a mistranslation. The translators did not completely understand the subject matter, and what little understanding they did have was based upon a completely different persective from that of the original source material.
It would be a stretch to say that the immediately ofllowing verses define the context, becasue to do so you would have to ignore the preceding verses, of which John 1:5 is a continuation. However since the immediately following verses do not mention this supposed conflict either - nor does any verse in the entire chapter.
As to the "mistranslation" idea, that seems a convenient excuse for the low quality of the evidence. The more so since the verse that Carotta takes as referring to Pharsalus comes before Jesus' crossing of the river Jordan which Carotta refers to Ceasar's crossing of the Rubicon. (And having checked I see that Carotta is wrong on that point, too - Jesus crosses the Jordan INTO Galilee - Mark 1:14 - not as Carotta has it FROM Galilee, and that after John the Baptist had been arrested)
Your points, (and PaulK, I am very happy that you are at least reading the website and that you show some honest interest in trying to understand it, so I do appreciate the time you are spending... :) ), remind me of something that Carotta mentions:
The gospels seem to be translations of a Passion Play. What we might have here in the gospels is an interpretation in Greek with commentaries of something that was supposed to be performed by actors on a stage, in Latin. So it might be that the first 4 verses of John were spoken by a voice offstage; Then a second off-stage voice speaks verse 5; The first voice then recites 6 through 8....
If so, then there isn't going to be a continuity of flow from one sentence to another, in the way we would expect it.
This whole concept of it being a (mis)translation of a Passion play brings up some thoughts for me. ...If there is some truth to this, then imagine the experience of the audience in the days, decades after the Latin-speaking generation has passed-away but before the Greek (mis)translations were made: they don't understand the Latin words being spoken, or only in a very broken-Latin sort of way... What kind of meaning do they come away with from the performance? Probably not a very accurate picture of the Roman civil war, that's for certain.
Probably there was such a play, and it was something very important to the worship of the cult and it was enacted every year, year after year, like the Easter Passion play is now. Probably it was performed at each and every temple. The people would probably grow to know the words by heart, like in Oberammergau (sic?) where everyone in the town has participated in the play at some point in their lives—perhaps many times over. Time goes on, with no one understanding the words, including the actors themselves. Perhaps the actors might begin to translate on-the-fly, ad-libbing, using puns, etc., just from sheer boredom or in order to give the whole ceremony/celebration some sort of meaning, if only for themselves! Without a doubt, the audience would find this infinitely more interesting, entertaining and meaningful than a stiff repetition of Latin words that nobody understands any longer...
Perhaps the gospels are actually derived from the more favorite variations loved by the people, variations bordering on being inadvertant parodies of the original Passion play of Julius Caesar/(Divus Iulius)!
(okay, maybe a lot of this is just me and my imagination, but who knows, it could be possible!) :)
Back to Carotta: he lists and speculates on many different levels and offers perhaps too many possibilities. So it's probably rather easy to nitpick at particular details. But he is not trying to analyze this as a scholar, but as a very interested person who feels very strongly that he has discovered something. (That's the way I read things, anyway.)
IMHO, he really has discovered something. The 'big picture' here really seems to fit. The more you start to study and understand the details of Roman history/politics/religion of that time, the more you see how interestingly Carotta's theory fits.
This message has been edited by Aquitaine, May-05-2005 11:03 PM