Does Scorpiace relate to Annals 15 & Nero 16?

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Does Scorpiace relate to Annals 15 & Nero 16?

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:38 am

Suetonius - 'Lives of the Twelve Caesars', Nero, 16: -
"During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. He put an end to the diversions of the chariot drivers, who from immunity of long standing claimed the right of ranging at large and amusing themselves by cheating and robbing the people. The pantomimic actors and their partisans were banished from the city."

Annals 15.43 refers to Rome burning 'by the Gauls', & fire; then 15.44 refers to Nero's punishment/persecution of Christians due to the Great Fire of Rome: -
43 Of Rome meanwhile, so much as was left unoccupied by his mansion, was not built up, as it had been after its burning by the Gauls, without any regularity or in any fashion, but with rows of streets according to measurement, with broad thoroughfares, with a restriction on the height of houses, with open spaces, and the further addition of colonnades, as a protection to the frontage of the blocks of tenements. These colonnades Nero promised to erect at his own expense, and to hand over the open spaces, when cleared of the débris, to the ground landlords. He also offered rewards proportioned to each person's position and property, and prescribed a period within which they were to obtain them on the completion of so many houses or blocks of building He fixed on the marshes of Ostia for the reception of the rubbish, and arranged that the ships which had brought up corn by the Tiber, should sail down the river with cargoes of this rubbish. The buildings themselves, to a certain height, were to be solidly constructed, without wooden beams, of stone from Gabii or Alba, that material being impervious to fire. And to provide that the water which individual license had illegally appropriated, might flow in greater abundance in several places for the public use, officers were appointed, and everyone was to have in the open court the means of stopping a fire. Every building, too, was to be enclosed by its own proper wall, not by one common to others. These changes, which were liked for their utility, also added beauty to the new city. Some, however, thought that its old arrangement had been more conducive to health, inasmuch as the narrow streets with the elevation of the roofs were not equally penetrated by the sun's heat, while now the open space, unsheltered by any shade, was 'scorched by a fiercer glow'.

44 The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. 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. Christus, 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 Judæa, 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; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

[Note also the references to banquets in both passages; to either chariots or charioteers in both passages; and references to cheating and robbing the people (Nero 16) or criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment (Annals 15.44)]

Authors have variably argued that "We read the lives of the Cæsars: at Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith" in Scorpiace 15 is referring to the passage in Nero 16, the Annals 15.44 passage, or to both passages.

Annals 15.45 is also interesting in this context -
  • "Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm. Throughout Asia and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those provinces. The first was a freedman ready for any wickedness; the latter, as far as speech went, was thoroughly trained in Greek learning, but he had not imbued his heart with sound principles. Seneca, it was said, to avert from himself the obloquy of sacrilege, begged for the seclusion of a remote rural retreat, and, when it was refused, feigning ill health, as though he had a nervous ailment, would not quit his chamber. According to some writers, poison was prepared for him at Nero's command by his own freedman, whose name was Cleonicus. This Seneca avoided through the freedman's disclosure, or his own apprehension, while he used to support life on the very simple diet of wild fruits, with water from a running stream when thirst prompted."

Other passages in Scorpiace refer to fire or persecution -viz. -
Chap 1
We have faith for a defence, if we are not smitten with distrust itself also, in immediately making the sign and adjuring, and besmearing the heel with the beast. Finally, we often aid in this way even the heathen, seeing we have been endowed by God with that power which the apostle first used when he despised the viper's bite [Acts 28:3]. What, then, does this pen of yours offer, if faith is safe by what it has of its own? That it may be safe by what it has of its own also at other times, when it is subjected to scorpions of its own. These, too, have a troublesome littleness, and are of different sorts, and are armed in one manner, and are stirred up at a definite time, and that not another than one of burning heat. This among Christians is a season of persecution. When, therefore, faith is greatly agitated, and the Church burning, as represented by the bush [Exodus 3:2], then the Gnostics break out, then the Valentinians creep forth, then all the opponents of martyrdom bubble up, being themselves also hot to strike, penetrate, kill.

And now the present state of matters is such, that we are in the midst of an intense heat, the very dog-star of persecution —a state originating doubtless with the 'dog-headed one' himself. Of some Christians the fire, of others the sword, of others the beasts, have made trial; others are hungering in prison for the martyrdoms of which they have had a taste in the meantime by being subjected to clubs and claws besides. We ourselves, having been appointed for pursuit, are like hares being hemmed in from a distance; and heretics go about according to their wont. Therefore the state of the times has prompted me to prepare by my pen, in opposition to the little beasts which trouble our sect, our antidote against poison, that I may thereby effect cures. You who read will at the same time drink. Nor is the draught bitter. If the utterances of the Lord are sweeter than honey and the honeycombs, the juices are from that source. If the promise of God flows with milk and honey, Exodus 3:17 the ingredients which go to make that draught have the smack of this.

Chap 8
As says Esaias, See how the righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; and righteous men are taken away, and no one considers it: for from before the face of unrighteousness the righteous man perishes, and he shall have honour at his burial. Here, too, you have both an announcement of martyrdoms, and of the recompense they bring. From the beginning, indeed, righteousness suffers violence. Forthwith, as soon as God has begun to be worshipped, religion has got ill-will for her portion. He who had pleased God is slain, and that by his brother. Beginning with kindred blood, in order that it might the more easily go in quest of that of strangers, ungodliness made the object of its pursuit, finally, that not only of righteous persons, but even of prophets also. David is persecuted; Elias put to flight; Jeremias stoned; Esaias cut asunder; Zacharias butchered between the altar and the temple, imparting to the hard stones lasting marks of his blood [Matthew 14:3]. That person himself, at the close of the law and the prophets, and called not a prophet, but a messenger, is, suffering an ignominious death, beheaded to reward a dancing-girl. And certainly they who were wont to be led by the Spirit of God used to be guided by Himself to martyrdoms; so that they had even already to endure what they had also proclaimed as requiring to be borne. Wherefore the brotherhood of the three also, when the dedication of the royal image was the occasion of the citizens being pressed to offer worship, knew well what faith, which alone in them had not been taken captive, required—namely, that they must resist idolatry to the death [Daniel 3:12].

Chap 9
... "Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The following statement, indeed, applies first to all without restriction, then specially to the apostles themselves: "Blessed shall you be when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, since very great is your reward in heaven; for so used their fathers to do even to the prophets. So that He likewise foretold their having to be themselves also slain, after the example of the prophets." Though, even if He had appointed all this persecution in case He were obeyed for those only who were then apostles, assuredly through them along with the entire sacrament, with the shoot of the name, with the layer of the Holy Spirit, the rule about enduring persecution also would have had respect to us too, as to disciples by inheritance, and, (as it were,) bushes from the apostolic seed.

Chap 10
... There will need to be carried on in heaven persecution even, which is the occasion of confession or denial. Why, then, do you refrain, O most presumptuous heretic, from transporting to the world above the whole series of means proper to the intimidation of Christians, and especially to put there the very hatred for the name, where Christ rules at the right hand of the Father? Will you plant there both synagogues of the Jews — fountains of persecution— before which the apostles endured the scourge, and heathen assemblages with their own circus, forsooth, where they readily join in the cry, Death to the third race?

Unerring reason has commanded us to set forth these things in even a playful manner; nor will any one thrust out the bar consisting in this objection (we have offered), so as not to be compelled to transfer the whole array of means proper to persecution, all the powerful instrumentality which has been provided for dealing with this matter, to the place where he has put the court before which confession should be made. Since confession is elicited by persecution, and persecution ended in confession, there cannot but be at the same time, in attendance upon these, the instrumentality which determines both the entrance and the exit, that is, the beginning and the end. But both hatred for the name will be here, persecution breaks out here, betrayal brings men forth here, examination uses force here, torture rages here, and confession or denial completes this whole course of procedure on the earth. Therefore, if the other things are here, confession also is not elsewhere; if confession is elsewhere, the other things also are not here.

Chap 11
In the same manner, therefore, we maintain that the other announcements too refer to the condition of martyrdom. He, says Jesus, who will value his own life also more than me, is not worthy of me, Luke 14:26 — that is, he who will rather live by denying, than die by confessing, me; and he who finds his life shall lose it; but he who loses it for my sake shall find it Matthew 10:39. Therefore indeed he finds it, who, in winning life, denies; but he who thinks that he wins it by denying, will lose it in hell. On the other hand, he who, through confessing, is killed, will lose it for the present, but is also about to find it unto everlasting life ... How would Christ speak, but in accordance with the treatment to which the Christian would be subjected? But when He forbids thinking about what answer to make at a judgment-seat, Matthew 10:19 He is preparing His own servants for what awaited them, He gives the assurance that the Holy Spirit will answer by them; and when He wishes a brother to be visited in prison, Matthew 25:36 He is commanding that those about to confess be the object of solicitude; and He is soothing their sufferings when He asserts that God will avenge His own elect. Luke 18:7 In the parable also of the withering of the word Matthew 13:3 after the green blade had sprung up, He is drawing a picture with reference to the burning heat of persecutions.
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Re: Does Scorpiace relate to Annals 15 & Nero 16?

Post by Roger Pearse » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:59 pm

Robin Birley has argued that Tertullian's Apologeticum refers to Annals 15. The Ad Nationes - sort of a first edition of the Apologeticum - explicitly calls the criminalisation of the Christians the "Institutum Neronianum".

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Re: Does Scorpiace relate to Annals 15 & Nero 16?

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:12 am

Roger Pearse wrote:Robin Birley has argued that Tertullian's Apologeticum refers to Annals 15. The Ad Nationes - sort of a first edition of the Apologeticum - explicitly calls the criminalisation of the Christians the "Institutum Neronianum".
Cheers Roger.

Here is a link to Roger's commentary on Ad Nationes ['to the Nations'] -

and a link to Tertullian's Apology -

Apparently some paragraphs are shared with Minucius Felix's dialogue Octavius. It is not known which predated which.
Bardenhewer noted "the Apologeticum has come down in numerous codices, some of them quite ancient" and Roger has them listed here -
Tertullian's [i]Apologeticum[/i] wrote: We are not a new philosophy but a divine revelation. That's why you can't just exterminate us; the more you kill the more we are. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.


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Ad Nationes I

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:39 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Here is a link to Roger's commentary on Ad Nationes ['to the Nations'] -
Tertullian, Ad Nationes I, Translated by Š Q. Howe, 2007 -
Chapter VII
Tertullian now seeks the source of the reports of Christian misconduct. His answer to this is 'fama', the Latin word for rumor, a concept that was held in great ill repute by the Romans. Tertullian quotes a famous line from Virgil where rumor is reviled as being swift and malevolent. Moreover, it is invariably the bearer of false information.

Persecution of the Christians goes back to the time of Nero who was [supposedly] notorious for his character defects. And to this day, 200 years after its origin, Christianity is still subject to persecution. Let us consider the reliability of these two Christian enemies -- Nero and rumor. Tongue in cheek, Tertullian raises the question of whether Nero was just and pure. The response of Nero's contemporaries and historians ever after has been a resounding "no." As to the reliability of rumor, the question speaks for itself in the very definition of rumor....

You will say, how is it possible that such a hideous reputation has grown up around you Christians as to convince our lawmakers of its testimony? And I shall ask who was the advocate for your lawmakers in their own time and for you in the present time to vouch for this reputation? Could it perhaps have been:
  • Rumor, an evil of matchless speed (Aeneid IV. 176)

    < . snip . >
Our Christian name first emerged when Augustus was emperor. During the reign of Tiberius, our beliefs shed their light abroad. Under Nero condemnation flourished. You might give some thought to the actual character of our first persecutor. If he was just and chaste, then the Christians are immoral and wanton. If he was not an enemy of the people, then we are the enemy of the people. Our persecutor demonstrated our true character by punishing those who were at odds with him.

Of the movements from the time of Nero, only ours endures to this day righteous in respect to our character and at variance with our persecutor. We have not yet been around for 200 years. Over this period there have been so many perverse Christians, so many transfiguring crosses, so many infants slaughtered, so many loaves of bread soaked in blood, so many lamps extinguished, so many incestuous liaisons. And to date it is only Rumor that discriminates against the Christians.
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Tertullian's Apologeticum [Apology]

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:59 am

MrMacSon wrote:
and a link to Tertullian's Apology -
From which there is a link to the 1917 translation by Alexander SOUTER -
CHAP. V. And now to treat somewhat more fully of the origin of laws of this kind, there was an old decree that no god should be consecrated by a general without the approval of the senate. M. Aemilius learnt this in the case of his god Alburnus. This, too, makes in our favour, because among you divinity is weighed out by human caprice. Unless a god shall have been acceptable to man, he shall not be a god: man must now be propitious to a god. Accordingly Tiberius, in whose time the Christian name first made its appearance in the world, [supposedly] laid before the senate tidings from Syria Palaestina which had revealed to him the truth of the divinity there manifested, and supported the motion by his own vote to begin with. The senate rejected it because it had not itself given its approval. Caesar held to his own opinion and threatened danger to the accusers of the Christians.

Consult your records : you will there find that Nero was the first emperor who wreaked his fury on the blood of Christians, when our religion was just springing up in Rome. But we even glory in being first dedicated to destruction by such a monster. For whoever knows him can understand that it could only have been something of supreme excellence that called forth the condemnation of Nero. Domitian too had tried the same experiment as Nero, with a large share of Nero's cruelty, but inasmuch as he retained something of humanity also, he was easily able to change his course, even restoring those whom he had banished. Such have always been our persecutors, unjust, impious and treacherous, whom even ye yourselves have been wont to condemn and to reinstate those who were condemned by them. But, out of so many emperors who reigned from that time to the present, men versed in knowledge, human and divine, show us one who set himself to destroy the Christians.

We on the other hand can show you a protector, if the letters of the honoured emperor M. Aurelius be searched, in which he testifies that the famous drought in Germany was put a stop to by the rain which fell in answer to the prayers of the Christians who happened to be in his army. Thus, although he did not openly abolish punishment incurred by such men, yet in another way he openly neutralized it, adding also a condemnation, and indeed a more shocking one, for their prosecutors. Of what sort then are these laws, which are put into force against us by the impious, the unjust, the base, the cruel, the foolish, the mad, and by them alone ? Laws which Trajan made less effective by forbidding Christians to be sought out; to which no Hadrian, although an investigator of all curiosities, no Vespasian, although conqueror of the Jews, no Pius, no Verus ever set his mark. Certainly the worst of men would be more readily sentenced to death by all the best, as their enemies, than by their own accomplices. ... lation.htm

CHAP. XXI [end] -
... with certain disciples he lived in Galilee, a district of Judea, for forty days, teaching them what they were to teach. Then, having ordained them to the duty of preaching throughout the world, he was taken up to heaven in a cloud, much more truly than people like Proculus are wont to assert among you about Romulus. All these things with reference to Christ, Pilate, who himself also in his own conscience was now a Christian, reported to the then emperor Tiberius. But even the emperors would have believed on Christ, if either emperors had not been necessary to the world, or if it had been possible for Christians too to be emperors.

His disciples also scattered throughout the world in accordance with the order of their teacher God. They themselves [the disciples] too having gladly suffered much at the hands of persecuting Jews, of course for their confidence in the truth, at last through the cruelty of Nero sowed the seed of Christian martyrdom at Rome.

But we will show you that the very persons whom you worship are reliable witnesses of Christ. It is a great point, if, to make you believe the Christians, I can employ those on whose account you now disbelieve them. Meantime this is the order of our teaching, this the beginning both of our sect and name together with that of its founder. Let no one now charge us with dishonour, let no one believe any other thing than this, because it is not permitted to any one to tell lies about his own religion. For from the moment that a man says anything is worshipped by him other than what he worships, he denies what he worships, and transfers both worship and honour to another, and by transferring he now no longer worships that which he denied. We affirm and affirm openly and, torn and bleeding, as we are, under your torture, we cry aloud, 'We worship God through Christ.' Suppose him to be a man: it is through him and in him that God desires himself to be known and worshipped.

But to reply to the Jews, they themselves too were taught to worship the Lord through the man Moses: and to meet the objections of the Greeks, Orpheus at Pieria, Musaeus at Athens, Melampus at Argos, Trophonius in Boeotia bound men by initiations: to turn my attention to you also, the rulers of the nations, Numa Pompilius, who loaded the Romans with most irksome superstitions, was a man.

Let it be allowed to Christ to imagine divinity to be his own possession, not as a mere name by which he was to tone down to a true humanity a barbarous herd, by making them awe-struck at the crowd of so many divine powers that had to be appeased, as Numa did, but so as to open to the recognition of the truth the eyes of men already refined and deceived by their very refinement. Seek then and see whether this divinity of Christ be true. If it is that on the learning of which any one is reformed and becomes good, it follows that the unreal (divinity) must be given up, as all that method in particular has been found out, which hiding itself under names and representations of dead persons does by certain signs and wonders and oracles work belief in its own divinity.
The beginning of CHAP. XXI [some of this reads like a draft of the Jesus narrative] -
But since we have stated that this sect is supported by most ancient Jewish documents, though very many know on our own declaration also that it is comparatively new, belonging as it does to the time of Tiberius, perchance on this ground a further inquiry may be made into its nature, viz. that it conceals some of its own arrogance under the shadow of a most famous religion, or one that is at any rate permitted by law, or because in addition to the question of its age we have no relation with the Jews either with regard to distinctions of meats, or the sanctity of special days or the distinctive bodily mark itself or the sharing of the name with them, which would of course be our duty if we were the property of the same god. Even the common people now know Christ as a human being, such as the Jews judged him (to be), so that it is easier for any one to believe that we are worshippers of a man. But we are neither ashamed of Christ, seeing that we rejoice to be reckoned as his servants and condemned with him, nor is our idea of God different from that of the Jews. We must therefore say something about Christ as God. The Jews had long enjoyed favour with God, for among them the justice and loyalty of their ancestors at the beginning were remarkable; whence the greatness of their race and the glory of their kingdom flourished and so great happiness, that from the words of God, by which they were taught, they were warned beforehand as to the gaining of his favour and the avoidance of his displeasure...

He came therefore, that being, Christ, the Son of God, who it was foretold would come from God to reform and illuminate the world. The Son of God therefore was announced as ruler and master of this grace and dispensation, the enlightener and the leader of the human race, not indeed born under such circumstances, that he should blush at the name of son or at his father's seed; it was not through incestuous connexion with a sister nor through the debauching of a daughter or of another's wife that he got a god for father, a lover scaly or horned or feathered or changed into a shower of gold, like Danae's. These shameful deeds of Jupiter are the gods you worship. But the Son of God has his mother as the result of no unchastity; even she, whom he seems to have (for mother), had not married. But I will first explain his nature, and thus the character of his birth will be understood. We have already proclaimed that God constructed this totality of the universe by word and reason and power.

Among your philosophers also it is a settled belief that Logos, which means word and reason, is the fashioner of the universe. For Zeno lays it down that this maker, who fashioned everything in order, is the same that is called also fate and god and the mind of Jupiter and the inevitableness of all things. These Cleanthes combines in the Spirit, which he maintains pervades the universe. And we also ascribe Spirit as its true essence to word and reason and likewise to power, by which we have proclaimed that God has constructed everything, in which are present both word when declaring and reason when arranging and power when accomplishing.

We have learnt that this Spirit came forth from God and by this forth-coming is begotten and has therefore been called Son of God, and God from unity of nature. For Spirit is also God. Also, when a ray is projected from the sun, it is a part of the whole; but the sun will be in the ray, because the ray belongs to the sun and is not separated from, it by nature but stretches out from it. Spirit comes from Spirit and God from God as light is kindled from light. The parent-stem remains whole and unlessened in substance, even if you borrow a number of offshoots of its character from it: |71 so also that which has come forth from God, is God and the Son of God, and both are one. So the Spirit that comes from Spirit and the God that comes from God brought about the number two, as regards the measure (of the possession of being), in grade not in unchangeable condition, and it did not separate from the source, but came out from it. This ray, therefore, of God, as was always foretold15 in the past, coming down into a certain virgin and being formed into flesh in her womb, is born man mixed with God. The flesh having been informed with breath is nourished, grows up, speaks, teaches, works, and is Christ. Meantime accept this story, which is like your own, while I show how he is proved to be Christ and who they are among you who have previously supplied hostile tales of that kind to destroy a truth of this kind....

and mid-chapter-
It followed therefore that he whom they had assumed to be merely man because of his humility, they regarded as a magician from his power, when by a word he cast out demons from men, restored light to the blind, cleansed the lepers, braced up the paralytic again, and even by a word restored the dead to life, ruled the elements themselves, quelling storms and walking upon seas, showing that he was the word of God (that is the Logos), that original, first-born word, attended by power and reason and supported by spirit, the selfsame who was both making and had made everything by a word.

At his teaching, however, by which the teachers and leading men among the Jews were refuted, they were so angered, especially because a vast crowd was turning aside to him, that in the end they prosecuted him, and by the violence of |73 their partisanship forcibly obtained from Pontius Pilate, who at that time was governing Syria on behalf of the Romans, Jesus' surrender for crucifixion. He himself also had foretold that they would do so; a small thing, if the prophets had not also foretold it earlier. And further, on being crucified he displayed many signs peculiar to that death. For he released his spirit of his own accord with a word, anticipating the duty of the executioner.

At the same moment daylight was withdrawn, though the sun was then marking the middle of his course. Those who did not know that this also had been prophesied with regard to Christ, thought that it was an eclipse; and yet you have that overshadowing of the sky recorded in your secret records. Then the Jews took him down, laid him in a tomb, and further surrounded it with a large band of soldiers, to guard it carefully, lest his disciples might remove the corpse by stealth, because he had foretold that on the third day he would rise again from death, and thus escape those who suspected them.

But lo, on the third day there was a sudden earthquake and the massive stone which had blocked the entrance to the tomb was rolled back; the guard dispersed in panic, though no disciples appeared, and nothing was found in the tomb except the grave clothes. Nevertheless, the rulers, whose interest it was both to spread a wicked tale and to recall from the faith their tributaries and dependents, spread abroad the report that he had been stolen by his disciples. For neither did he show himself to the crowd, lest the irreligious might be freed from their mistake, and also in order that belief, which is destined to receive no little reward, should be strengthened by difficulty. However with certain disciples he lived in Galilee, a district of Judea, for forty days, teaching them what they were to teach. Then, having ordained them to the duty of preaching throughout the world, he was taken up to heaven in a cloud, much more truly than people like Proculus are wont to assert among you about Romulus. All these things with reference to Christ, Pilate, who himself also in his own conscience was now a Christian, reported to the then emperor Tiberius. But even the emperors would have believed on Christ, if either emperors had not been necessary to the world or if it had been possible for Christians too to be emperors....
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Nero as the Antichrist

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:44 pm

'Nero as the Antichrist' - ... /nero.html
... It ..was to Nero that Paul [is said to have] appealed from the tribunal at Caesarea (Acts 25:10ff), and in whose reign Peter and Paul traditionally were thought to have been executed at Rome (e.g., Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, II.25.5-8; Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics, XXXVI).

It therefore is not surprising that Nero was perceived by Christians as a persecutor of their faith. For Eusebius, he was "the first that persecuted this doctrine" (II.25.4); for Tertullian, "the first emperor who dyed his sword in Christian blood, when our religion was but just arising at Rome" (Apology, V); for Sulpicius Severus, "he who first began a persecution" of Christians (Sacred History, II.28).

After Nero's suicide in AD 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return (Suetonius, LVII.1; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Dio, LXVI.19.3). Suetonius relates how court astrologers had predicted Nero's fall but that he would have power in the East (XL.2). And, indeed, at least three false claimants did present themselves as Nero redivivus (resurrected). The first, who sang and played the cithara or lyre and whose face was similar to that of the dead emperor, appeared the next year but, after persuading some to recognize him, was captured and executed (Tacitus, II.8). Sometime during the reign of Titus (AD 79-81) there was another impostor who appeared in Asia and also sang to the accompaniment of the lyre and looked like Nero but he, too, was exposed (Dio, LXVI.19.3). Twenty years after Nero's death, during the reign of Domitian, there was a third pretender. Supported by the Parthians, who hardly could be persuaded to give him up (Suetonius, LVII.2), the matter almost came to war (Tacitus, I.2). Such fidelity no doubt can be attributed to the magnificent reception (and restoration of Armenia) that Tiridates, the brother of the Parthian king, had received from Nero in AD 66 (Dio, LXII.1ff).

As popular belief in Nero's actual return began to fade, he no longer was regarded as an historic figure but an eschatological one. The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah dates to the end of the first century AD and is one of the apocalyptic pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. In an interpolation, the so-called Testament of Hezekiah, Isaiah prophesies the end of the world, when Beliar (Belial) the Antichrist will manifest himself as the incarnation of the dead Nero.
  • "And after it [the world] has been brought to completion, Beliar will descend, the great angel, the king of this world, which he has ruled ever since it existed. He will descend from his firmament in the form of a man, a king of iniquity, a murderer of his mother—this is the king of the world—and will persecute the plant which the twelve apostles of the Beloved will have planted; some of the twelve will be given into his hand. This angel, Beliar, will come in the form of that king, and with him will come all the powers of this world, and they will obey him in every wish....And he will do everything he wishes in the world; he will act and speak like the Beloved, and will say, 'I am the Lord, and before me there was no one.' And all men in the world will believe in him" (IV.1-8).
Beliar will perform miracles and seduce the followers of Christ until, at the Second Coming,
  • "the Lord will come with his angels and with the hosts of the saints from the seventh heaven, and will drag Beliar, and his hosts also, into Gehenna [the figurative equivalent of hell]."
Nero also possesses the attributes of the Antichrist in the Sibylline Oracles, a collection of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic verses attributed to the prophecies of the ancient Sibyl, who identifies herself as a native of Babylon (III.786; also Lactantius, Divine Institutes, I.6) and a daughter (or daughter-in-law) of Noah (III.808ff). In Oracle V, which dates to the late first or early second century AD, Nero has become a resurrected and demonic power symbolic of Rome, itself.
  • "One who has fifty as an initial [the Hebrew letter "N"] will be commander, a terrible snake [the serpent or dragon], breathing out grievous war....But even when he disappears he will be destructive. Then he will return declaring himself equal to God" (V.28ff).
Here, Nero is manifested as the Antichrist, "that man of sin [lawlessness]...who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God...shewing himself that he is God" (II Thessalonians II.3-4).

The Sibyl presents Nero both as king of Rome (Oracle V, 138ff) and the means of God's retribution in destroying it (365). A matricide and megalomaniac, who presumed to cut through the isthmus of Corinth and was perceived as responsible for the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70, Nero "will come from the ends of the earth" (363) as a champion of the East and an instrument of God's punishment. He will overthrow tyrants and "raise up those who were crouched in fear" (370) before falling in a final battle against the West. Then there will be peace and "no longer will anyone fight with swords or iron or with weapons at all" (382ff). In this expectation, as in Oracle IV (119ff, 1137ff) and Oracle VIII (70ff, 153ff), one perceives the hope raised by the False Neros among the oppressed provinces of the East. ... /nero.html
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No. of the Beast 666, Revelation, & the Redivivus legend

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 11:04 pm

In Greek isopsephy and Hebrew gematria, every letter has a corresponding numeric value. Summing these numbers gives a numeric value to a word or name. The use of isopsephy to calculate "the number of the beast" is used in many of the below interpretations.

Preterist theologians typically support the numerical interpretation that 666 is the equivalent of the name and title, Nero Caesar (Roman Emperor from 54-68) whose name, written in Aramaic, can be valued at 666 using the Hebrew numerology of gematria, a manner of speaking against the emperor without the Roman authorities knowing. Also "Nero Caesar" in the Hebrew alphabet is נרון קסר NRON QSR, which when used as numbers represent 50 200 6 50 100 60 200, which add to 666.

The Greek term χάραγμα (charagma, "mark" in Revelation 13:16) was most commonly used for imprints on documents or coins. Charagma is well attested to have been an imperial seal of the Roman Empire used on official documents during the 1st and 2nd centuries. In the reign of Emperor Decius (249–251 AD), those who did not possess the certificate of sacrifice (libellus*) to Caesar could not pursue trades, a prohibition that conceivably goes back to Nero, reminding one of Revelation 13:17.
* The term 'libellus' has particular historical significance for the libelli that were issued during the reign of Emperor Decius to citizens to certify performance of required pagan sacrifices in order to demonstrate loyalty to the authorities of the Roman Empire.

The word libellus is a Latin diminutive form of the ordinary word liber* (meaning 'book')... Literally, it means "little book." Sometimes the word was used to describe what we would call: essays, tracts, pamphlets, or petitions.
  • * 'liber' - from which we get the English word library.
The entry in wikipedia quotes the page cited in the previous post above^ [ref. 38 here] -
It has also been suggested that the numerical reference to Nero was a code to imply but not directly point out emperor Domitian,[35][36] whose style of rulership resembled that of Nero and who put the people of Asia (Lydia), whom the Book of Revelation was primarily addressed to... under heavy taxation.[37] The popular Nero Redivivus legend stating that Nero would return to life can also be noted;
  • "After Nero's suicide in AD 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return (Suetonius, LVII; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Dio, LXVI.19.3). Suetonius (XL) relates how court astrologers had predicted Nero's fall but that he would have power in the east. And, indeed, at least three false claimants did present themselves as 'Nero redivivus' (resurrected)."[38]
35. An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity By Delbert Royce Burkett, p.510.
36. Encyclopedia of prophecy By Geoffrey Ashe, p.204.
37. From every people and nation: the book of Revelation in intercultural perspective, p.193.
38. "Nero as the Antichrist".
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666, Revelation, Irenaeus, I & II John, & Daniel

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 11:47 pm

In the apocalyptic Revelation of John, Nero is the second beast who, through miracles and the threat of death, compels the worship of the first beast. Moreover, the second beast marks everyone with its own mark, without which "no man might buy or sell" (Rev 13:17). "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six" (Rev 13:18). The riddle seems to have been forgotten almost as soon as it was written and not solved until 1835, seemingly because the number was assumed to be in Greek or Latin—and not Hebrew. And, to be sure, it is intriguing that 666 encodes the name of Nero in such a way when Revelation, itself, was written in Greek.

In ancient Greek and Hebrew, letters also represented numerals (as in Latin), their values assigned according to the order of the alphabet, alpha and aelph, for example, having the numerical value of 1. By adding these values, words could be represented as the sum of their numbers. This literation of numbers and numeration of letters was known as isopsephia by the Greeks and gematria by the Jews (which, in cabalistic practice, has been used to interpret Hebrew scripture). Suetonius relates an example of isopsephia when he records that graffiti appeared in both Greek and Latin lampooning Nero after he had his mother killed: "A calculation new. Nero his mother slew" (Life of Nero, XXXIX.2). In Greek, both "Nero" and "killed his own mother" have the same numerical value (1005).

If the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar (Neron Kaisar) is transliterated into Hebrew (nrwn qsr; נרוקס קסר), the numerical equivalent is 666—although it should be remembered that this number was not represented as a figure but as letters of the alphabet or written in full. In other words, the "number of the beast" was not expressed as "666" (indeed, discrete Arabic numerals would not be invented for another five hundred years) but by the phrase hexakosioi hexekonta hex or the numerical values of the Greek letters themselves, chi (600), xi (60), and stigma (6).

But what is curious is not so much that 666 can be decoded to signify Nero but that the name is encoded in this particular number, especially since it could have been represented as readily in other ways. It only is when the words are transliterated from Greek into Hebrew and then calculated that the numeration adds up to 666 (nrwn qsr, 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200). Even so, this is an alternate spelling, a letter being transliterated in "Neron" (nrwn instead of nrw) but not in "Caesar" (qsr instead of qysr). Although these forms do appear in the Talmud and an Aramaic scroll from Qumran, they no doubt complicated the solution to the puzzle...

If the Latin (rather than the Greek) spelling "Nero Caesar" is transliterated into Hebrew (nrw qsr), the final "n" in Neron being omitted (and its corresponding value of 50), the name computes as 616, which is the number indicated in the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament (the fragment illustrated below). If "Neron Caesar" is correct, it may be that the Latin was transcribed incorrectly, perhaps because the copyist realized that this transliteration did not equate to 666 and so omitted the letter, which changed the sum to 616. Still, each digit of 666 is one less than seven, the perfect number, and such mathematical play may have tended to establish 666, rather than 616.

Regardless of the number, Nero is the only name that can account for both 666 and 616, which is the most compelling argument that he, and not some other person, such as Caligula or Domitian, was intended.... ... /nero.html

Writing a century later, Irenaeus is the first church father to comment on the number of the Beast, although he did not know what the number actually encoded and warns against "making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved" (Against Heresies, V.30.3). He 'understood' John's vision to have occurred "almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign," a 'tradition' repeated by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (III.18.3) and by the church fathers (e.g. Sulpicius Severus, II.31) ...

For Irenaeus, the name of the Beast "possesses the number six hundred and sixty-six, since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge....and also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood" (v.29.2) which, he says, came in the six hundredth year of Noah. By analogy, too, the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar (who cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace) was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide (cf. Daniel 3:1ff). This "being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies....I do not know how it is that some have erred following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number [L] in the name, deducting the amount of fifty from it, so that instead of six decads they will have it that there is but one" (v.30.1). Mores specifically, one might add that the wealth acquired by Solomon in a year was "six hundred threescore and six talents of gold" (I Kings 10:14, cf. II Chronicles 9:13).

Nero, too, was the sixth emperor, counting from Julius Caesar (as did Suetonius, for example, and Josephus, cf. Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII.2.2, where Tiberius is identified as the third). "And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come" (Revelation 17:10). The sixth (and last) of the Julio-Claudian emperors, it is Nero who "is" but who has been "wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed" (13:3)—Nero redivivus.

Although Nero manifests the Antichrist, the word itself does not appear in John's revelation—nor in any other book of the Bible except I John and II John, where it signifies anyone who "denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22) and "confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (4:3).

The notion first finds expression in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, when at the end time "the king of the north" (11:40) shall appear, defeating some nations and sparing others, persecuting the saints and putting many to death. In the Jewish Temple shall be placed "the abomination that maketh desolate" (11:31), and he shall "magnify himself above every god" (11:36). The figure here is that of Antiochus VI (Epiphanes), the king of Syria who captured Jerusalem in 167 BC and desecrated the Temple by offering the sacrifice of a pig on an altar to Zeus ("the abomination of desolation," I Maccabees, 1:54). In seeking to Hellenize the Jews, Antiochus forbade their religious practices and commanded that copies of the Law be burned, all of which is related in the apocrypha of I Maccabees (1:10ff) and by Josephus in the Antiquities of the Jews (XII.5.4).

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the Nero Redivivus Legend

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:47 am

Nero Redivivus Legend was a belief popular during the last part of the 1st century that Nero would return after his death in 68 AD. The legend was a common belief as late as the 5th century.[1] The belief was either the result or cause of several pretenders who posed as Nero leading rebellions.

Several variations of the legend exist, playing on both hope and fear of Nero's return. The earliest written version of this legend is found in the Sibylline Oracles.[2] It claims that Nero did not really die but fled to Parthia, where he would amass a large army and would return to Rome to destroy it.[3]

At least three Nero imposters emerged leading rebellions. The first, who sang and played the cithara or lyre and whose face was similar to that of the dead emperor, appeared in 69 during the reign of Vitellius.[5] During the reign of Titus (c 79-81) there was another impostor who appeared in Asia and also sang to the accompaniment of the lyre and looked like Nero but he, too, was exposed.[6] Twenty years after Nero's death, during the reign of Domitian, there was a third pretender. Supported by the Parthians, who hardly could be persuaded to give him up,[7] the matter almost came to war.[8]

Dio Chrysostom, the Greek philosopher and historian, wrote
  • "seeing that even now everybody wishes [Nero] were still alive. And the great majority do believe that he still is, although in a certain sense he has died not once but often along with those who had been firmly convinced that he was still alive."[4]
Augustine of Hippo wrote that some believed
  • "he now lives in concealment in the vigor of that same age which he had reached when he was believed to have perished, and will live until he is revealed in his own time and restored to his kingdom."[1]
In later forms of the legend, among many early Christians, this legend shifted to a belief that Nero was the Antichrist.[1]

Some Bible scholars see the description of the wounding and healing of the Beast in Revelation 13:3 and the mention of the eighth king who is also one of the earlier seven kings in Revelation 17:8-11 as allusions to the Nero redivivus legend.[9]

  • 1. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX.19.3
    2. The Sibylline Oracles, IV, 119-124; V.137-141; V.361-396
    3. AntiChrist(avrixpu ros)
    4. Dio Chrysostom, Discourse XXI, On Beauty
    5. Tacitus, Histories II.8
    6. Dio, LXVI.19.3
    7. Suetonius, LVII
    8. Tacitus, I.2
    9. (DieOffenbarung des Johannes [Tubingen: J.C.B.Mohr, 1926; "Handbuch zum NeuenTestament"], pp. 115-15)

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