Friday, May 13, 2005

Carotta ..Again Info & Discussions

I thought I'd put these posts about Carotta's claim that Julius Caesar was Jesus up here, since a poster who is pushing Carotta at IIDB has decided to engage in personal attacks on those who disagree.

There's been quite a push in several forums about this book. The forums for the movie The Beast had a discussion. The push also appeared at ephilosopher.

Anyway, without further ado, still more posting on Carotta:

DISCLAIMER: I have only read what's on the website. Haven't seen the whole book.

Much of Carotta's text is online. Here is a chapter/excerpt that shows some of the problems with Carotta's view. Mark was originally written in Latin. Let me show you some of the problems with this chapter. Randomly:
CAROTTA: Detailed examinations of the oldest manuscripts—especially the bilingual Latin/Greek—have shown that with Mark the Greek text in fact is dependent on the Latin.[248] And there is still more: the deviations between the readings in the
Greek manuscripts are explained best if they are seen as different versions of
translation of the Latin text. [249] Also the fact that the Church
Fathers—demonstrably Clement, Irenaeus and Justin—cite the Latin Mark, which
they translate ad hoc into Greek, speaks for the priority of the Latin version.

First off, scholarship accepts that Mark was originally composed in Greek. If you want to confront and change that, you will need some powerful argument. So when I check the citation, what do I find? Citation [248] is from a book by Harris written in (drum roll) 1893! Citation [249] is from Couchoud -- a familiar name -- written in 1926. So we see the pattern we have seen elsewhere -- that Carotta picks and chooses to make his case. He does not demonstrate familiarity with a range of scholarship, nor does he present any potent argument to support his case. Century-old scholarship is unacceptable. He does argue that the Latinisms in Mark constitute a case for it being originally written in Latin, but that case is not anywhere accepted today.

Carotta goes on to say:

It has been observed for some time now that the Gospels contain miraculous
healings that appear to be simplified reports of those Vespasianus had performed
in Egypt, where according to Tacitus the emperor healed a blind man and a man
with a withered hand[passage omitted]
Actually, the idea that the healings are "simplified" versions of the Vespasian incident is laughable. The healings are easily demonstrated to parallel the core of the Elijah-Elisha tales in 1 & 2 Kings, and Andrew Criddle and I just tussled over that in a recent thread at IIDB which I welcome you to resurrect and read. Numerous authors have written on the derivation of the healings, from Gundry to the Jesus Seminar to Robert Price. Carotta shows no familiarity with any of the conclusions of this scholarship. You will note that Carotta's absurd claim goes uncited, probably because no one believes it but him. if you want to overturn the accepted view, you gotta bring big guns.

Carotta then claims:

Moreover the Gospel contains the core of a speech, reported by Plutarchus, in
which Tiberius Gracchus bemoaned that the appropriation of public land by the
aristocrats had rendered the farmers landless and the poorest of people.

Speech of Tiberius Gracchus:‘The wild beasts of Italy have their holes and their hiding places but the men who fight and die for Italy enjoy only the light and the air.
Homeless, they roam restlessly with wife and child. Our rulers lie when they
call on the soldiers to fight for the graves and shrines of their ancestors.
Because none of these Romans can point to a paternal altar or an ancestral tomb.
But rather, they fought and died to bring wealth and luxury to others. They are
called masters of the world and they have not a single clod of earth that is
their own.’[251]

Matthew:‘And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his

Carotta seems unaware that this saying has parallels -- much better ones than the one above -- in the Cynic tradition, as do many other sayings in the Gospel literature. Witty sayings like this, called chreia, were common in antiquity -- Mark has twenty or so, as I recall. Again Carotta does not interact with any of the scholarship on this saying, and refute the several positions held on it by scholars. Why is that?

Carotta writes:

Also, because the same Mark writes a vulgar Greek without the use of the later
Hebraisms and Septuagintisms of Matthew and Luke, and uses popular Aramaisms
instead, the track leads us to the Roman veterans in Syria, either to those of
the Colonia Iulia of Heliopolis (Baalbek) or to those who were settled by
Herodes in Caesarea, Galilaea, Samaria and Decapolis. Namely, they were the ones
who had originally spoken the Latin of the legionaries, and were settled in
rural areas where they inter-married with the local population that still spoke
Aramaic, whereas the official language of the Empire was Greek by this
Far from being without "Septuagintisms" Mark tracks the Septuagint word for word on many, many occasions. For example, the Gospel opening:Here is my herald whom I send on ahead of you Idou, apostello ton aggelon mou pro prosopou sou is taken directly from the Greek of the Septaugint version of Exodus:Idou, apostello ton aggelon mou pro prosopou souIn Mk 1:3 the first 13 words track the septaugint exactly. Mk 1:6 copies phrases from Kings to describe JBap.
I could go on and on. Suffice to say that Carotta doesn't know what he is talking about.

But in case you want to claim that I misunderstood Carotta, he reiterates this point later when discussing Jesus mythicism:

no Gospel was ever written in Aramaic, the Greek of the presumably most ancient
Gospel in particular, that of Mark, is filled with Latinisms whilst the
citations from the Jewish scriptures only emerge in abundance in Matthew.
Mark is filled with citations of the Jewish scriptures (about 150 in 660 verses in some counts). This does not count the use of Jewish scriptures as parallels for structuring, nor the allusions to other jewish writings such as Maccabees and Tobit, as well as inclusions of oral lore (possibly). Mark is a thoroughly Jewish gospel.

But then we go on to:

The apostle Paul writes in his second letter to Timotheus:‘The cloak that I left
at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but
especially the parchments.’[258]

Here the King James Bible uses ‘parchment’, which is called membranae, ‘thin skins’, in the Greek original—a striking use of a Latin borrowed word.

Carotta is busily attempting to prove that Latinisms indicate the text was originally latin in origin. But that is neither here nor there -- note how Carotta refers to 2 Tim as a book written by Paul. Anyone got a problem with that? Not Carotta!

This next selection is picked entirely for style:

Did the itinerant preaching and miracle working members of the early Christian
communities—with the passage of time and the persistent fine-tuning of the
copies of the copies—turn the exemplary fatherly chief commander into one of
themselves, a Church Father made in their own image? From the divine founder of
the Empire to the proclaimer of the Kingdom of God? Did they gradually convert
Divus Iulius, the God of the Roman veteran colonies in the East, into the Jesus
of their communities which had found shelter there? Did they become the creators
of their creator until they themselves finally became Lords over their Lord?
Catch the Erik Von Daniken style of argument-by-unanswered-questions? There's a lot of that in Carotta.

Note Carotta's beliefs on Gospel dating:

Contrary to the later canon, which places Matthew in the first and the most
ancient position,[301] scholarship mostly considers the Gospel of Mark, the
shortest, to be also the most ancient. The given dates are between 40 and 60 AD
and that is why it is called the protoevangelium; it served as source for both
the other synoptics. Matthew and Luke are independent of each other, and both
first wrote after the Jewish war that ended in 70 AD. Where either of them, or
both of them, correspond with Mark they are obviously using Mark, but where they
correspond with each other but not with Mark, they are following a lost logion
source (‘Q’—theory of the two sources); or, according to another opinion, they
are following the oral tradition. In addition they use oral special material
(Sondergut). John is independent of the synoptics; if and to what extent he used
written sources is a matter of controversy.
There is no way on God's green earth that Mark, who is thoroughly familiar with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, dates from prior to 70. That position is held only by religious conservatives. His thumbnail also contains another inaccuracy, as "John" is at least three people. It is arguable whether John is independent.

Another issue here is Carotta's dependence on old scholarship, a certain sign of incompetence. In this chapter he interacts entirely with Loisy, Couchoud, and others of a bygone era. His Catholic Introduction to the NT dates from 1973. Apparently Carotta is in a time warp where work from within the last decade has not yet penetrated.

My favorite part of this is the conclusion:
The one, Divus Iulius—an indubitable historical figure—is as God,
nonexistent: all writers mention him; but there is no religion, no liturgical
texts, no hagiography, no legends.

The other, Jesus—an absolutely doubtful historical figure—is existent only
as God: no chronicler mentions him; but there is a religion, even several, and
there are liturgical texts, hagiographies and legends.

Well, you've never seen them together, have you? So they must be the
same person.

The next chapter has more comical stuff in it. I skipped some from my original post. I especially like this explanation of baptism:

Well, inspection in Latin is lustratio, which actually means ‘cleansing’,
‘lustration’, but in military language it stands for ‘inspection’ because of the
acts of ritual cleansing and expiatory sacrifices that accompanied it. Along
with the lustratio, the inspection of soldiers, went the inspection of weapons,
the armilustrium, the ‘cleansing of weapons’ in the sense of ‘ceremony of
purifying the arms’. The word lustratio comes from luo, ‘to wash’ and in the
second instance means ‘atone’, which finds its Greek pendant in the loutrón,
meaning ‘wash’, ‘bathe,’ and comes from the corresponding verb louô, also ‘to wash’, ‘to bathe’. In the Christian sense these words became ‘baptism’,
respectively ‘baptize.’ The transition from ‘inspection of soldiers with
cleansing of arms’ (the Latin lustratio) to ‘baptism of repentance’ (the Greek
loutrón) came about through the common concepts of ‘washing’ and ‘purifying’. The same meaning is also found in the other Greek word alternatively used for louô, baptizô, which in the Christian sense is also translated with ‘to baptize’(probably because it comes from baptô, which means ‘to dunk’). Before becomingbaptism, baptisma, too, simply meant washing: a further excellent literal
translation of the Latin word lustratio, the inspection. And the fact that baptism was originally seen as the reception into the army of Christ is certainly not contradictory to this idea.
Is Carotta aware that there is a long history of ritual bathing in Judaism (HINT: what is a mikvah)?

It's OK to perform all these operations on words in two languages. It is not okay to do so without explaining why all other scholars are wrong, and without providing powerful evidence to overturn the consensus, and without dealing with the scholarship. I can't resist...there's just so much badness here. Here Carotta analyzes the Pericope Adultera as a Caesar story.

The pendant for the adulterous wife of Caesar is the pericope of the adulteress;
this pericope is not found in the synoptic Gospels, but exclusively in John.It
may appear improper for us to use this pericope, but it is well known that it
only landed in John because it was deleted elsewhere: Where exactly, the textual
critics do not know. We can only say that we are lucky to have it at all, for
again and again, attempts have been made to remove this ‘foreign body’ from
John, ultimately for so-called purely formal reasons, because it does not fit
the style of this particular Evangelist. Augustine delivers the real reason: the
leniency Jesus demonstrates towards the adulteress might be misunderstood![432]Even in the bible text used today, it is only referred to in parentheses or
with a preceding question mark, meaning it is mentioned with reservation:
Carotta appears not to know that this pericope IS found in the Synoptics, in Luke. He tries to pretend that the reason it is rejected is because of its theology, but the reality is that even the ancients knew it wasn't an authentic part of the gospel.

Need we say more? He doesn't know basic stuff, plays games with words, cites scholarship that is decades out of date, doesn't interact with modern scholarship, etc.

In this post at IIDB I wrote a very long discussion of Carotta's derivation of the colt and the ass, too long to put up here. In my next post I showed why the alleged parallels are not parallels. A taste:

CAROTTA:Both Julius Caesar and Jesus began their careers in northern
countries: Caesar in Gaul, Jesus in Galilee;

TURTON: Incorrect. Caesar's public career began in Asia Minor, where at his
own expense he raised a scratch army to fight the invasion of Mithridates of
Pontus in 74. Caesar became a war hero when his forces were able to hold out
long enough to let a real army arrive and save the day. Then he was a magistrate
in Spain, then he was aedile, in charge of the bread and circuses (made himself
popular), and then he was made pontifex maximus. It was only after he had become
famous that he was governor of Gaul. Does Carotta not have an ADSL line in his

But that's still a parallel. After all, you could say their public careers
began in the East. *howls with laughter*

My earlier blogposts on Carotta are (#1) and (#2). I just want to add my closing words from anothe post...:

Now, it is entirely possible that Jesus really is some offspring of Julius Caesar's cult. In principle that is possible. But the fact is that in order to demonstrate that everyone has been completely wrong for 2000 years, you need to analyze every single problem with your case, and understand what the scholars say and incorporate that into your analysis. Further, you have to be able specify clear rules for what you are doing, and why.

So far, there doesn't seem to be anything like that here.


mary jane said...

Quote: "In my next post [at iidb] I showed why the alleged parallels are not parallels."

Actually a few posts later at iidb, all of your objections have been completely refuted by another board member. So what's it now? Carotta seems to be right, that's my guess at least. You announced of continuing the debate (after reading the book, I think). Any plans? Because this thing is important, probably major!

Michael Turton said...

Carotta has no idea what he is talking about. The other person is not an IIDB member but someone shilling for Carotta.

mary jane said...

[quote]Carotta has no idea what he is talking about.[/quote]

1. Since you haven't yet seriously criticized or falsified Carotta's theory, it seems to me as if [i]you[/i] are the one who doesn't know what he's talking about. (...and also you seemingly don't know what Carotta is talking about either.)

2. You seem to be a fan of the mythological school, otherwise you wouldn't solicit for Atwill at Amazon. Wouldn't it then be appropriate if you showed why you think Atwill's theory is superior to Carotta's discovery?

- m.jane

Michael Turton said...

I AM a fan of the mythological school, but that is not why I am praising Atwill's book.

You may believe I have not criticized Carotta's idea, but you are probably the only one who does.


Antoninus Pius said...

I've had a go at Carotta here: But he won't engage with criticism and simply responds with insults. Frustrating.