Jesus was Caesar – Quod erat demonstrandum

Extracts from the book «Jesus was Caesar»

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten

© 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands

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Quod erat demonstrandum

pp. 214-217 (original German Edition), = p. 209-211 (English Edition)

Quod erat demonstrandum. Our question as to whether or not the Gospel is based on an original Caesar source has been answered positively by successfully verifying our suppositions. From now on it is no longer a question if this happened, but how.

Miraculous triumphs and triumphant miracles

We started from the prominent words of Caesar and tried to find them in the Gospels. We saw that they can be found there with subtle changes:

    ‘Who is not on any side, is on my side’ was found as ‘He that is not against us, is on our part’;
    ‘I am not King, I am Caesar’ as ‘We have no king but Caesar’;
    ‘The best death is the sudden one’ is ‘That thou doest (lead me to death) do quickly’;
    ‘Have I saved them, that they may ruin me?’ as ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save’.

Only in two of the quotations do the subtle changes lead to distortion of the meaning:

    ‘Alea iacta est(o)’ became ‘casting: for they were (h)aleeis (fishers)’;
    and ‘veni vidi vici’ became ‘I came, washed and saw’.

The last two quotations were embedded in miracles:

    ‘Casting: for they were fishermen’ later attained in Luke the honorable status of the miraculous draught of fishes;
    «I came, washed and saw» said the blind man who had been healed.

Another quotation turned into a complaint about a miracle that failed to materialize:

    ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save’.

But this transformation of words into miracles only happened when the words were spoken in a warlike context: ‘Alea iacta est’ at the beginning of the war at the Rubicon; ‘veni vidi vici’ announcing victory over Pharnakes; ‘Oh, have I saved them that they may ruin me?’ as a dark threat of a posthumously revenging campaign.

The main characteristic is: Miraculous victories become victorious miracles. In an analogous way successful sieges are healings of possessed, victories over Caecilii and Claudii are miraculous healings of blind and lame, the crossing of the stormy sea by the army is a walk on the lake.

We have hinted that this habit of referring to Caesar’s victories as miracles began during his own lifetime. Plutarchus reported that the people regarded it as a miracle that he brought the statues of the demonized Marius from Hades into the city and Appianus tells us that Antonius in his funeral oration for Caesar described Caesar’s victories as miracles. In this respect the Gospel writers did not do anything new, but only further decorated the legend Caesar was. The deeds of Caesar became the miracles of Jesus.

Just as the miracles developed out of victories, the parables came from the signs that denoted the victories. It would be easy to show how miracles and parables proliferated, how Matthew and Luke fought in the gap opened by Mark and packed and inserted entire cycles of miracles and series of parables. But that has already been done by traditional textual criticism, and here we only need mention it.

As far as language is concerned, we have observed that some parallels between Caesar and Jesus point to misunderstandings of the Caesar source (e.g. obsessus: ‘possessed’ instead of ‘besieged’). Logically every besieged in the Caesar texts should correspond to a possessed in the Jesus story: we were able to see that this indeed was the case. Since it seemed that Caesar sometimes had been confused with caecus, ‘blind’, Lepidus with a ‘stone jar’, dictator with a ‘schoolmaster’ we investigated if also Asinius Pollio, in accordance with the meaning of his name, changed into an ‘ass’s colt’, and likewise diverse Caecilii and Claudii into ‘blind’ and ‘lame’. Once again we saw that this was the case: we found the people we sought in the figures we expected. Even more: In the complicated Clodius-anecdote we saw how different articulations were divided among different pericopes which appear very much coherently in Mark. In each of these pericopes the Clodius we are looking for appears with another name: as ‘the lame’ sometimes also called ‘gout sufferer’, as ‘leper’, as ‘publican Levi, son of Alphaeus’, as ‘Matthew’ or ‘Jacob’. With this, altogether, all the variants, surnames and meanings of Clodius are found, either as translation (though vulgarized) or according to sound or writing (though corrupted).

Finally we saw that the same thing happened with Metellus who was taken for a mutilus, ‘mutilated’. Moreover, in the context of his story we were able to recognize which specific confusion led to the pivotal point—here Saturn with seed—which allowed the entire story to tip so that its reorganization became possible as well as necessary. The misinterpretation of the Latin termini was the condition and basis for the Greek evangelical editing. This was not original, but a new editing.

Evangelium Marci and Vita Divi Iulii

The number of misinterpretations, which seem to have taken place at the time the Gospel texts developed, may surprise. But they remain within the bounds of what folk etymology can bring about, and only insignificantly exceed that which took place when later Gospel texts were handed down—in the Greek handwritten copies as well as in translations into each of the other languages used in bible tradition beginning with Latin—which is easily seen by glancing at modern textual criticism.

The only thing that is new is our tracing everything back to an original Latin source. However, the presence of Latin in the original Greek text, and especially the many Latinisms in Mark, have long hinted at Latin sources. So far, the extent to which this has been studied is of hardly any consequence, although the hypothesis conforms to the tradition that the Gospel of Mark was written in Latin in Rome (see below).

The result we arrive at—that the Gospel of Mark looks like a rustic-naïve Greek retelling of a Latin vita of Divus Iulius—puts tradition in a new light. Since the misunderstood expressions in the Gospel of John were sometimes Greek—for instance enikêsa, ‘I conquered’, as enipsa, ‘I washed’—his exemplar might already have been a Greek translation, unless he knew absolutely no Latin instead of only having a poor knowledge of it, like Mark. That might explain why there are so few miracles in John: the obsessi, Caecilii, Claudii or Metelli are simply not available to become ‘possessed’, ‘blind’, ‘lame’ or ‘cripple’.

In spite of all the differences among the Gospel writers, we were able to see that the passages examined from the Caesar sources and the Gospels can be read parallel over some length. We also noticed that in places where Mark broke down the original coherent story into separate pieces, he nevertheless left the pericopes to a large extent in the original sequencing.

A Caesar-Jesus synoptical comparison is therefore conceivable.

This is what we will systematically dedicate ourselves to in the next chapter.