Thursday, August 18, 2016

(Series 2) Roman Senator/Historian, Tacitus, Wrote About Christ, Christians And Nero

Again I point out the unreasonable fact that many of the same unbelievers who swear America was not founded primarily by Christians, no matter the historical record, also swear that Jesus Christ never really existed... no matter the historical record. So here's another Historian unbeliever giving testimony shortly after Historian Josephus wrote of "Christ" in the first century, and that shortly after the Gospel Mark dated around 70AD

Rom.14:11 "For it is written (Isa.45:23), As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."

The historian, Publius Cornelius Tacitus, was a non-Christian, Roman Senator
who recorded certain facts about Jesus Christ and Christians in his works.

In The Fire of Rome, by Karl von Piloty, 1861, says according to Tacitus, the Roman Emperor, Nero, targeted Christians as those responsible for the burning of Rome. The Roman historian and senator, Tacitus, referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate, and the existence of early Christians in Rome in one page of his final work, Annals (written around AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.

The context of the passage is the six-day conflagration of Rome that burned much of the city in AD 64 during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero. The passage is one of the earliest non-Christian references to the origins of Christianity, the execution of Christ described in the canonical gospels, and the presence and persecution of Christians in 1st-century Rome.

Scholars generally consider Tacitus' reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source. Eddy and Boyd state that it is now "firmly established" that Tacitus provides a non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Historian Ronald Mellor has stated that The Annals is "Tacitus's crowning achievement" which represents the "pinnacle of Roman historical writing". Scholars view it as establishing three separate facts about Rome around AD 60: (1) that there were a sizable number of Christians in Rome at the time, (2) that it was possible to distinguish between Christians and Jews in Rome, and (3) that at the time pagans made a connection between Christianity in Rome and its origin in Roman Judea.

The Annals passage (15.44), which has been subjected to much scholarly analysis, follows a description of the six-day Great Fire of Rome that burned much of Rome in July 64 AD.
The key part of the passage reads as follows (translation from Latin by A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb, 1876):
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christ, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Jud├Ža, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty. An immense multitude was convicted, not so much for the crime of firing the city, as of their hatred against mankind.
Tacitus then describes the torture of Christians. The exact cause of the fire remains uncertain, but much of the population of Rome suspected that Emperor Nero had started the fire himself. To divert attention from himself, Nero accused the Christians of starting the fire and persecuted them, making this the first documented confrontation between Christians and the authorities in Rome. Tacitus never accused Nero of playing the lyre while Rome burned – that statement came from Cassius Dio, who died in the 3rd century. But Tacitus did suggest that Nero used the Christians as scapegoats.

Copies of Tacitus' works derive from two principal manuscripts, known as the Medicean manuscripts, written in Latin, which are held in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy. It is the second Medicean manuscript, 11th century and at Monte Cassino, which is the oldest surviving copy of th passage describing Christians.  (Tacitus' opinion is that of a non-Christian, Roman Senator. RB)

Much of the information in this post is taken from Wikipedia.