Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the gospel of caesar

third time lucky...


francesco carotta is a linguist who has spent the last ten years researching a theory that the gospels, specifically that of mark, is actually based on the life of julius caesar. a pretty far out theory, or not, as the case may be...

with a distinct lack of evidence for jesus in non-christian texts, the existence of christ as a historical figure has long been the subject of debate. despite this, somehow, the christian religion took hold of the ancient world and managed to expand in an extremely dramatic style until is permeated the roman empire. using early christian iconography, his extensive research on the linguistics of the earliest known versions of the scriptures and historical accounts of the death of caesar, carotta (along with a catholic priest, pedro garcĂ­a gonzalez) builds up, what appears to be a highly credible case.

carotta analyses the work of mark alongside histories of caesar and, more specifically, depictions of his death. these studies seem to present an almost endless string of correlations between the words of christ and caesar, the language that is used to describe the pair and the people who featured in their lives, painting a picture of how the worship of caesar, as a religion, was re-packaged in a form that we know as christianity.

quite frankly, it was a bloody good arguement...

although slightly clunky at times, the documentary builds up a quite amazing case for carotta's theories. and, by it's conclusion, i'd forgiven it any short-comings and had been thoroughly engrossed in it.

very good...

4 comments:

Everett Koop said...

I saw it too. I can't speak for the science involved, though it sounded very convincing. But I actually liked the film very much. There were a few minor idle spots, but I welcomed that this was not your usual modern documentary film, neither brash infotainment nor ascetic hyperrealism. A very good film. Old-school (in a positive way). Classy. And quite a fascinating subject actually.

dandan said...

cool...

well, having studied classics for around six years (school, college and some at uni), he didn't say anything which was outlandish enough to discredit his arguments, in regards to historical texts.

i would, however, have liked for him to have contextualised 'acts' (the acts of the apostles, which appears in the 'new testament' after the four gospels, within the context of his theory.

still, as you say, a very good film...

Mary Jane said...

A small bit of info can be found on Carotta's website, i.e. the introductory paragraph on Acts in his book:

"The Acts initially would tell of the deeds of the apostles, i. e. the legates of Caesar after his demise. Consequently the deeds of Antonius/Simon and his alter ego Lepidus/Peter would be found at first, soon to be joined by Octavianus/John—who surprisingly switch names and roles in the conflict between Peter and Simon, and Peter and Ananias (Cleopatra here being replaced by Saphira). The second part would be the story of the young Caesar, here named the ‘small’, paulus,—totally overlain by the story of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish freedman of Vespasianus."

Copied from here: http://tinyurl.com/6kms6h

In the book he continues with these basic points:

(1) the evangelist (Luke) has left out the Julio-Claudian interlude from Tiberius to Nero, and concentrated on the "new beginning" under Vespasian, directly following the "original beginning" under Caesar & Octavian; Saulus/Paulus is the diegetic mirror of Josephus before and after his conversion

(2) Then, concerning the "new beginning" after the caesura in Acts, he compares the 2nd part of Acts with the autobiography of Flavius Josephus, which run parallel in many aspects, with much of the primary incidents, properties and characteristics in their lives being identical.

(3) At the end of the passage he interprets, why there would be a Flavian overlay in parts of the New Testament:

Flavian dynasty without direct connections to Caesar & Augustus — Flavian re-interpretation of the Julio-Claudian founding story, i.e. strengthening the official cult of Divus Iulius, but also adapting the "Caesar Romance", the mythicized version of his life (the earliest gospels) to make it a story with a "Flavian flavour" ;) — political reasons (Palestine conflicts etc.), i.e. a further and more decisive judaization of the texts — etc.

As you can see—and I hope you're not annoyed too much—I've read the book and actually support this theory. I find it compelling and very plausible. Also liked the film… but I'm biased, so I'm not sure if that counts. ;)

PS (speaking of Acts): There are also some noteworthy parallels in the apocryphal Acts of Paulus and Thekla (= Octavian and probably Livia).

dandan said...

hey mary jane, thanks for that...