Jesus was Caesar – Vitae Parallelae

Chapter II of the English edition

© Francesco Carotta, Kirchzarten, Germany

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

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Vitae Parallelae

Both Caesar and Jesus start their rising careers in neighboring states in the north: Gallia and Galilee.

Both have to cross a fateful river: the Rubicon and the Jordan. Once across the rivers, they both come across a patron/rival: Pompeius and John the Baptist, and their first followers: Antonius and Curio on the one hand and Peter and Andrew on the other.

Both are continually on the move, finally arriving at the capital, Rome and Jerusalem, where they at first triumph, yet subsequently undergo their passion.

Both have good relationships with women and have a special relationship with one particular woman, Caesar with Cleopatra and Jesus with Magdalene.

Both have encounters at night, Caesar with Nicomedes, Jesus with Nicodemus.

Both of them are great orators and of the highest nobility, descendant of Aeneas and son of David, yet nevertheless both are self-made men. Both struggle hard and ultimately triumph, hence each has a ‘triumphal entry’: Caesar on horseback and Jesus on a donkey.

Both have an affinity to ordinary people—and both run afoul of the highest authorities: Caesar with the Senate, Jesus with the Sanhedrin.

Both are contentious characters, but show praiseworthy clemency as well: the clementia Caesaris and Jesus’ Love-thy-enemy.

Both have a traitor: Brutus and Judas. And an assassin who at first gets away: the other Brutus and Barabbas. And one who washes his hands of it: Lepidus and Pilate.

Both are accused of making themselves kings: King of the Romans and King of the Jews. Both are dressed in red royal robes and wear a crown on their heads: a laurel wreath and a crown of thorns.

Both get killed: Caesar is stabbed with daggers, Jesus is crucified, but
with a stab wound in his side.

Both die on the same respective dates of the year: Caesar on the Ides (15 th) of March, Jesus on the 15 th of Nisan.

Both are deified posthumously: as Divus Iulius and as Jesus Christ.

Both leave behind priests: Marcus Antonius and Peter. Both have a posthumous heir: Gaius Octavianus adopted by Caesar’s Last Will and Testament and John the disciple whom Jesus adopts while on the cross (‘Woman, behold thy son!’).

Now, there is one thing that stands out as being strikingly incongruous: Caesar was a commander, while Jesus was a thaumaturge.

However, in his funeral oration for Caesar, Antonius depicted all of Caesar’s many great achievements as miracles.[45] These miracles of Caesar included the survival of a storm at sea[46] and even the raising of the dead: for the people took it to be a miracle that Caesar brought the honors of Marius ‘back from Hades into the city’ after many long years of Sulla’s dictatorship. [47]

In turn, some of Jesus’ miracles concern the banishing of demons, which indeed represents the absolute, theological form of warfare.

The picture we usually have in mind is of Caesar waging merciless war,[48] in stark contrast with Jesus preaching of love and bringing the Kingdom of God, which we assume to be one of peace, love and unity. This is in spite of the well-known passage:

    ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household’.[49]

And Jesus continues by praising those who take his people in and give them victuals. Clearly, these are civil war conditions. Thus Jesus brings about the Kingdom of God explicitly through civil war—even if he did not desire to use such means—exactly as Caesar himself did.

In turn, the clementia Caesaris is scarcely mentioned, if it is not completely ignored, even though Caesar meant it to be an important political statement:

    ‘Let this be the new policy of victory that we arm ourselves with mercifulness and liberality.’[50]

This political program of love-your-enemies was carried out so consistently, that he perished[51]—like Jesus.

Even the limitations to their clementia are the same: Caesar forgave all his enemies—except the repeat offenders who mocked his clementia;[52] Jesus forgave all sinners—except those who sinned against the Holy Spirit.[53]

Thus the main features of the picture seem to fit. Let us now have a closer look at the people who surround Caesar and Jesus in order to see if there are any more parallels.

First approach

Pompeius, for example, is beheaded and his head is presented in a bowl to the person who supposedly wanted him killed—exactly what the Gospels tell us happened to John the Baptist.

Antonius negotiates with Caesar’s assassins, dines with them and dissembles; Peter is recognized at the enemies’ campfire and denies Jesus.

Caesar’s lover Cleopatra, later Antonius’ lover and mother of their children, is finally humiliated at Octavianus’ feet—Magdalene, who talks to Jesus about love and announces Jesus’ resurrection to Peter, washes the Lord’s feet with her tears.

Caesar’s uncle Marius, banished but brought back from Hades, lived with his wife Iulia and with Martha, a fortune teller; Jesus’ uncle Lazarus, resurrected from the dead, lived with his sister Mary and with a woman called Martha, who foretells his resurrection.

Now we shall move on to the few properties we mentioned above.

The victory of Caesar was sealed by a palm tree sprouting from the floor of a temple. While the people were giving him an ecstatic ovation, hailing him king, they waved olive branches. Jesus, too, was hailed as a king, and still today olive branches are waved on Palm Sunday. His horse is a donkey, which is a strange steed for a king, for the animal is no faster than a man on foot. But the horse of Caesar must also have been quite strange, for the equestrian statue of Caesar on the Forum Iulium had human feet.

We imagine the crown on Caesar’s head to be a laurel wreath: the triumphal wreath. Those statues of Divus Iulius that depict him as Soter, Savior, Redeemer, have wreaths of oak leaves or of grass, however, resembling both in form and meaning the crown of thorns worn by Jesus the Savior[54] —as we have seen. Jesus, in turn, is crowned with a laurel wreath by a legionary as depicted on a sarcophagus dating from 340/370 ad, on which the oldest known image of the Passion can be seen (fig. 116, p. 387).[55]

Let us now examine the locations, starting with the few names mentioned so far.

The rise of Caesar begins in Gaul, that of Jesus in Galilee. Caesar, coming from Gallia (Gaul), crosses the Rubicon and arrives in Corfinium; Jesus, coming from Galilaea (Galilee), crosses the Jordan and arrives in Capernaum (also Caphernaum). Gallia and Galilee are the respective neighboring countries in the north. Both have to cross boundary rivers: the Rubicon separated Gallia from Italia, whereas the Jordan actually separated Galilee from the Decapolis and the Gaulanitis, but the Evangelists write as if Judaea were located immediately on the other side of the river. Corfinium and Capernaum respectively are the first cities in which they arrive. The stormy seas that are crossed by Caesar and Jesus also act as borders: across the Ionian Sea lies Ionia, as Greece was and is called in the Orient;[56] across the Sea of Galilee again lie Decapolis and the Gaulanitis, but for the Evangelist it is again Judaea.

The same attributes and properties (from now on all called ‘requisites’, for short) appear within the same structures. The resemblance of the names is astonishing too: Gallia and Galilaea, Corfinium and Caphernaum, Italia or Ionia on the one hand and Judaea on the other.

Considering the resemblance of the names and the similarity of the requisites, a sequence emerges: Gallia + boundary river + Corfinium = Galilaea + boundary river + Caphernaum. Now, if we try to extend this sequence, we find that Caesar expels the commander of the enemy occupying the town of Corfinium; Jesus expels the unclean spirit of a possessed man. The English words occupied and possessed both have the same Latin equivalent: obsessus.

For Jesus it was also about power and struggle, ‘for he was teaching by proxy’ as Luther translates the passage of Mark; ‘for he taught them as one that had authority’ in the King James Version. Taking the sentence literally it becomes still clearer:

    ‘for he instructed them as the one who had power’.[57]

The hostile spirit also sees him that way:

    ‘Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us?’[58]

Therefore the sequence can be extended: Gallia + boundary river + Corfinium + occupying commander + expulsion = Galilee + boundary river + Caphernaum + possessed man + expulsion.

When comparing Caesar and Jesus we ascertain the existence of similar requisites within analogous structures and sequences.

As far as names are concerned, it is easy to list the people around Caesar and then find their corresponding representatives in the story of Jesus. Keeping to the few people and places mentioned so far:

The Characters and their Actors

Caesar : Jesus
Pompeius : John (the Baptist)
Antonius : Simon (Peter)
Curio : Andrew
Cleopatra : Mary Magdalene
Nicomedes : Nicodemus
(Decimus) Brutus : Judas
(Marcus) Brutus : Barabbas
(Cassius) Longinus : (the centurion) Longinus
Lepidus : Pilate
Octavianus (Augustus) : John (the beloved disciple)
Marius (+ Iulia and Martha) : Lazarus (+ Mary and Martha)
The Senate : The Sanhedrin
Gaul : Galilee
Rubicon : Jordan
Corfinium : Caphernaum
Rome : Jerusalem
Italy/Ionia : Judaea

It is conspicuous that some are identical—Longinus = Longinus; Martha = Martha—or might be held to be. The wife of Marius could certainly be named Maria (Mary), all the more likely by non-Romans.[59] Their different function—wife resp. concubine versus sister—is thus relativized that the sisters are ‘loved’.[60]

Other names are similar: Gallia > Galilee, Corfinium > Caphernaum (which in the Latin manuscripts is written Cafarnaum), Ionia > Judaea. The first two are within the framework of the usual metathesis of the liquidae (‘l’ and ‘r’).[61] In the last we observe that Ionia and Iudaea are quite similar in Greek script: IWNIA > IOUDAIA. In the decisive letter—N versus D—there is only a deviation in the direction of the third line. That, coincidentally, Italy is not written very differently—ITALIA > IOUDAIA—could explain the confusion in the Gospel wherein Judaea is located on the other side of the Jordan as well as on the other side of the Sea of Gennesaret.

Lepidus and Pilatus (Pilate) are quite close in appearance too, as Pilatus looks like a syllabic metathesis of Lepidus: Lepidus > Piledus > Pilatus.[62] Idem for Nicomedes—of Bithynia and Nicodemus—of Bethania.

The difference between Brutus and Barabbas is somewhat greater, but is not unbridgeable: Comparing the semantically relevant sound alone—Barabbas is a semitic name and in those languages only the consonants and consonanced vocals are of semantic relevance—we have BRVT versus BRAB. Moreover the meaning of Barabbas is understood to be ‘Bar-Abbas’, ‘son of the father’, and when Caesar was being stabbed he exclaimed to Brutus : ‘You too, my son?’ So the term ‘son of the father’ is appropriate for Brutus.

All the other parallel names seem to be different from each other: Brutus unlike Judas, Rome unlike Jerusalem etc.

But with a second look there are analogies to be detected here too.

The full name of Brutus, the traitor, was Decimus Iunius Brutus. Iunius can be rendered in Greek as Iunas, just as the Latin Lucius became the Greek Lukas.[63] Now, Iunas is very close to Judas, comparable to the above Ionia = Judaea, especially in Greek lettering: IOUNAS = IOUDAS. The only difference is the third line of N and D. Decimus, for its part, means ‘the tenth’, so Decimus Iunius could be understood as ‘Junas the Tenth’. And the name of the traitor in Mark is ‘Judas, one of the twelve’.[64]

Marius too, as an ‘outlawed’—latro in Latin—is acoustically and visually not far removed from Lazarus.[65]

In Johannes (the disciple John), it seems that the article had been added: Octavianus Augustus, called the young, and in this respect, the new Caesar, in Latin iuuenis, Greek (h)o neos (Kaisar),[66] soon becomes aurally and visually Johannes: iuuenis > Johannes, (h)o neos > Johannes.[67]

John (the Baptist) could have been written Gnaios instead of neos: (the) Gnaeus (Pompeius), (h)o Gnaios (Pompeios); or in the sources the more common epithet Magnus, which, if the ‘M-’ is ignored, resembles Gnaeus: (M)agnus > Gnaeus. Both are easily heard and read as Johannes: (M)agnus respectively Gnaeus > Johannes, (h)o Gnaios > Johannes.[68]

Curio however, does not come close to Andreas (Andrew) tonally, but it does so in meaning as if Curio originated from uir, Latin for ‘man’[69] just as Andreas stems from the Greek anêr, andros also meaning ‘man’. The same goes for senate and sanhedrin, which simply means council, not only in Rome and Jerusalem.[70]

And Mary Magdalene—Maria of Magdala, i. e. ‘Maria of the tower’[71]—matches Cleopatra in sense. As Caesar’s mistress she could be regarded as a Iulia and as a Iulia she could then be a Maria (see above).[72] Distinct from all the other Mary’s, in her case the name Maria of the tower would not be wrong at all. For the most famous of all towers of antiquity, one of the Seven World Wonders, was the light-house of the isle of Pharos, the landmark of Alexandria, the city of Cleopatra. The tower in which she met her death, too, had become famous. Barricaded in this tower, she resisted Octavianus till the bitter end.[73]

The resemblance that Antonius has with Simon (Petrus) has somewhat more color. Interestingly, in most cases Petrus is called Simon and Simon appears in the accusative form, with the ending ‘-a’, as when he appears for the first time in Mark: ‘…he saw Simon…’[74]Simwna, Simona. But this looks like Antonius, read from right to left:


—heterographic: like a foreign Aramaic word in Greek.[75]

In regards to the names of other places, the Rubicon doesn’t sound anything like the Jordan, and with respect to meaning—if the Rubicon is understood as Red river—it could only be connected with the Red Sea. But this is wide of the mark. It so happened that after crossing the Rubicon, Caesar also had to cross the river Aternus on the border of the city, before he was able to set upon Corfinium. The name Aternus could be connected to the Jordan: leaving aside the initial sound iota—which frequently occurs in the Semitic languages (like Johannes, Joseph etc.)—(I)ordanes looks like a metathesis[76] of Aternus with an exchange of the related sounds ‘t’ and ‘d’:

    Aternus > Artenus > Iordanes.

It just so happens that the Rubicon flows into the Adriatic between Ravenna and Senigallia, and thus into the Gallic sea, which structurally and linguistically corresponds to the ‘Sea of Galilee’—what the Evangelist conspicuously calls the Lake of Gennesaret—through which the Jordan flows. Finally, in pursuing Pompeius after the Rubicon and the Aternus, Caesar had to cross the Ionian sea—the position of which relative to the Rubicon and the Aternus resembles the relative position of the Red Sea to the Jordan. In addition there is a certain coincidental literal resemblance between the (mare) Ionium und Iordanes.

With regard to Rome and Jerusalem it is not necessary to be too concerned about the differences in name. The name of Rome is hardly mentioned in the ancient sources: it is usually just referred to as ‘the city’. For example, in the citation above from Plutarchus, where it is reported that the people saw it as a miracle that after the long years of Sulla’s dictatorship Caesar had brought the honors of Marius back from Hades ‘into the city’: eis tên polin. The city being referred to in any given instance depended on the context.[77] But if the name Rome is mentioned explicitly, like in the phrase eis Rômên ‘(in)to Rome’, which occurs frequently, (H)ierousalêm (Jerusalem) is not so far removed (EISRWMHN > IEROUSALHM). The other variant of the name (H)ierosolyma, even contains the letters of Roma in sequence: (H)ieROsolyMA.

Concerning the meaning, we note the following:

Hiero means holy. So Hierosolyma is the holy Solyma. But Solyma (or Salem)[78] is thought to mean peace.[79] So Hierosolyma signifies nothing other than the holy city of peace. But de facto this was really only Rome, the city that had secured the peace of the world: the Pax Augusta was proclaimed urbi et orbi in the year 17 BC and the temple of Janus was closed. In order to commemorate this event Augustus had ordered the building of a monument—the ara pacis, the Altar of Peace. Now (H)ieru-salem reflects ara pacis—in the first section by the sound, in the second by the meaning:[80] ara > (h)ieru; pacis > salem.

So we have gone through the short list of names mentioned at the beginning of our chapter. We have established that persons and places occurring in the stories of Caesar and Jesus bear names that are either very close aurally or visually, or they look like the translation of each other.

The Names of the Lord

As is well known, the nomina sacra are reflected in the writings of the Gospel by abbreviations—usually the first and last letter—so we cannot compare the original name, but only that which has been passed down to us. Concerning the abbreviation for Jesus—IêsuS > IS—it is worth noting that IuliuS would be abbreviated the same.[81]

When comparing the complete names that have been passed down to us, we can establish other interesting things as well.

It is widely accepted that Jesus is the Greek form of the name Jeshua, respectively Joshua or Jehoshua—which literally means ‘Jahweh helps’ or ‘Jahweh saves’, analogously ‘Godhelp’. If this is the case, then Jesus can be seen as the translation of the Greek sôtêr—‘savior’, ‘redeemer’—respectively euergetês—‘optime meritus’, ‘benefactor’—all titles of honor for Caesar,[82] just as they often appear in the literature and are documented as inscriptions on the bases of the statues dedicated to him in the East after Pharsalos.

This is reason enough to have a more precise look at the inscriptions of the other statues consecrated to Caesar in Ionia. Were there perhaps already parallels to Jesus’ titles?

This is a typical dedication to be found on the Ionian islands:

    The people (worship) Gaius Iulius Gaius’ Son Caesar, Pontifex Maximus and Imperator, [for the second (time) Consul and Dictator], Savior and Benefactor [of all Greeks].[83]

Over on the mainland in Ephesus, the then capital of the multi-ethnic province of Asia, he is even hailed as ‘God from God’ and ‘universal Savior of mankind’:

    ‘The cities in Asia and the communities and nations (worship) Gaius Iulius Gaius’ Son Caesar, Pontifex Maximus and Imperator, (for) second (time) Consul, (the) appearing God (coming) from Ares and Aphrodite (from Mars and Venus), the common Savior of the whole of mankind…’[84]

These are all titles that we are familiar with being applied to Jesus. Starting from the last:

Savior of all the Greeks—or even Savior of the whole of mankind—reminds us of our Savior, for sôtêr is the same as servator or salvator.

Benefactor is not much different in meaning than our merciful Lord.

The appearing God, coming from Ares (Mars) and Aphrodite (Venus)—this also seems familiar to us: Son of God and the Holy Virgin, God incarnate.[85]

Imperator, Consul, Dictator—we know this from Christology and the litanies, this is our Almighty, the Pantokrator of the Greeks.[86]

As we have seen, pontifex maximus in its Greek form archiereus megistos contains Christos as a possible contraction.[87]

We even find resemblances in the names:

Caesar, Greek Kaisar, is not far removed from Nazara, the oldest version of Nazareth, especially in the accusative—Kaisara.[88]

Gaius’ Son, or Son of Gaius, is embarrassingly redolent of Son of Man.[89]

And finally—Gaius Iulius, like archiereus megistos, is a further candidate for an abbreviation that could lead to Jesus: GAIuS iUliuS > IÊSUS.[90]

Summarized—Caesar’s inscriptions on his earliest cult statues in Ionia would be, in Christian interpretation:

    To Jesus, Son of Man, Nazarene, to Christ and the Almighty [Pantokrator,][91 Son of God and God incarnate, merciful Lord and Savior of all mankind.

These titles are well known. But it is most astonishing, that even the translational variants of the names and titles are just as well known.

Jesus, for example, is not only the possible abbreviation of Gaius Iulius, but coincidentally also of Divus Iulius (DIuUS iUliuS) > Jesus and Divi Filius (DIuUS filiUS > Jesus).[92]

From the beginning Kaisar (Greek for Caesar) was equated with kyrios (Lord) because of the resemblance in sound.[93] It is not documented that Caesar called himself dominus, although he did remain seated like a lord when he was approached by a delegation of senators at the temple of Venus, whereas the cruciform depiction on the reverse of his coins evokes the dominion over the four cardinal points, the dominus terrarum. It is known that Augustus did not want to be called Lord, which only serves to demonstrate that he indeed was. This form of address became normal for the later emperors. Interestingly enough, Jesus also is addressed rather by ‘master’ than by ‘Lord’, and he is only entitled ‘Lord’ in the later Gospels.[94] So kyrios, which regularly appears in the manuscripts as nomen sacrum in the abbreviated form KC, could have sneaked in for Kaisar—or Kaisar Sebastos, Greek for Caesar Augustus—which absolutely can be covered by the same token,[95] at a time and place where the address ‘Lord’ for the Kaisar was no longer as scandalous as it was at the time of Caesar.

The ancient name for dictator was magister populi,[96] which was preserved in the form of address: magister. Jesus is addressed in just this way: didaskale, master—or in translation, rabbi.[97] As if the words dictator and magister were taken in their specific scholarly meaning.[98] That Jesus’ dictations are orders really is proved by the passage in Mark among others where the word didaskôn occurs:

    ‘for he taught them as one that had authority.[99]

So here rabbi can stand in for magister as the form of address for dictator.

This polysemy of the names and titles lets us infer that there are doublets and crossovers of wording,[100] but exactly this would explain the variety of names, titles and forms of address for Jesus.

Our déjà vu experience continues: we realize to our surprise that Caesar’s titles on the bases of the statues dedicated to him anticipate those of Christ—in toto as well as word by word. The differences can be explained by regular abbreviations—like in Gaius Iulius > Jesus or archiereus megistos > christos—or by a naive translation—like in son of Gaius > Son of man or dictator > rabbi—or by simple mistakes in writing—Kaisar > Kyrios and Kaisara > Nazara.

These are typical aberrations and alterations that occur in the development of a tradition, in which oral transmission[101] via various languages as well as the written actions of redactors and copyists are entangled in each other. Textual criticism has demonstrated that this has also been the case with the Gospels.

The mistakes in writing are not unusual and the other anomalies also remain within the bounds of what is usual in transitions between languages: the sound and lettering is preserved, or the meaning is, or a combination of both. This is a well known mechanism which occurs not only in folk etymologies and bowdlerization[102] but also in official scholarly translations, as for example in the translation of Latin terms into Greek, the second official language of the empire.[103]

Because we have not yet carried out a comparison based on the context, we still do not know whether mistakes or folk etymologies actually were involved. This is the reason why we are left with different hypotheses standing side by side, which are possibly mutually exclusive and can only be thought of within processes of oral or written tradition. For example, whether Johannes might have evolved from the Latin iuvenis or the Greek (h)o neos, or from (M)agnus, Gnaeus or (h)o Gnaios.

It must be observed by now that both phenomena may lead to a delocalization,[104] so that the imagined scenery accompanying the story can make a transition from Rome to Jerusalem. When we hear ‘Sanhedrin’, we think of Jerusalem rather than Rome, although it is known that ‘Sanhedrin’ means ‘Senate’. And if we normally associate Caesar with Romans, it does not necessarily mean that the scene is located in the city of Rome: all the authorities empire-wide at that time were Romans. Is it the city of Rome or the world of Rome? urbs or orbis?

However cursory our study of the parallels has been so far, the observed resemblances between the names of persons and places concerning Caesar and Jesus are so regular that a closer examination is advisable to see if the Vita Caesaris could have been the exemplar for the Gospels.

Firstly we need to ask a crucial question, for if it cannot be answered all other questions are rendered superfluous:

Where is the cross in the Caesar story?


Notes to II. Vitae Parallelae

[ for a Greek text with diacritic signs please refer to the printed edition or to the PDF of the notes ]

[45] App. BC 2.146 : [...] ἐν θαύματι αὐτῶν ἕκαστα ποιούμενος. [<]

[46] Dio Cass. HR 44.44.4. App. BC 2.150.625: Καίσαρι δὲ ἥ τε Ἰόνιος θάλασσα εἶξε, χειμῶνος μέσου πλωτὴ καὶ εὔδιος γενομένη [...]. Dio Cass. HR 41.46.3: ἐξέφηνεν ἑαυτὸν καθάπερ ἐκ τούτου καὶ τὸν χειμῶνα παύσων. [<]

[47] Plut. Caes. 5: καὶ θαυμάσας ὥσπερ ἐξ Ἅιδου διὰ χρόνων πολλῶν ἀνάγοντα τὰς Μαρίου τιμὰς εἰς τὴν πόλιν. [<]

[48] Apparently it is willingly repressed that Caesar was pontifex maximus from the beginning of his career, and that he was honored during his lifetime with cultic practices and after his death as a God. Here is just one example representative of many others: in his preface to Rasmussen (1967) the editor lists: ‘Caesar was a politician and statesman, conqueror, discoverer and general at the same time—and not least an orator and writer of rank [...]’. The pontifex maximus, son of Venus and God of the Empire is not mentioned—it is left to specialist studies (cf. inter alia: Wlosok (1978), Price (1984), Clauss (1999) or Cancik / Hitzl (Ed.) (2003)). [<]

[49] Mt. 10:34-36. Cf. Martial (Poet of the first century ad), Epigrams, ix, 72-73:
cum gener atque socer diris concurreret armis
maestaque civili caede maderet humus.
A common school translation recites:
‘When Caesar and Pompey each attacked the other
And son killed father and brother his brother.’
It is not a literal translation, having lost the ‘dire arms’ and the ‘mournful earth becoming wet from the civil massacre’, but it makes clear that the gener and the socer, the ‘son in law’ and the ‘father in law’, were Pompeius and Caesar fighting one another in a civil, and yes, a domestic war.
If we compare the text of Martial with Mt. 10:34-36 in Latin (Vulgate)—
Nolite arbitrari quia pacem veneri mittere in terram: non veni pacem mittere sed gladium. veni enim separare hominem adversus patrem suum, et filiam adversus matrem suam, et nurum adversus socrum suam: et inimici hominis, domestici eius.
—-we see that gener and socer, ‘son in law’ and ‘father in law’, have become nurus and socer, ‘daughter in law’ and ‘mother in law’. The reason lies in the fact that Matthew is citing Micah 7:6:
‘For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.’
But in Micah there is no reference to a ‘sword’ or other ‘arms’, although to ‘blood’ in Mch 7:2. So Martial’s verses are closer to Matthew’s passage than Micah’s. It is conspicuous that a text like this from Martial was present here, before Matthew himself or later copyists substituted it with the inevitable midrash, in this case a citation of Micah. [<]

[50] Letter of Caesar to Oppius and Cornelius, in: Cic. ad Att. 9.7 c : Haec nova sit ratio vincendi, ut misericordia et liberalitate nos muniamus. Stauffer (1957), p. 20 , translates: ‘Das muß die neue Siegestaktik und Sicherheitspolitik sein, daß wir Vergebung üben und eine freie und festliche Welt schaffen—This must be the new tactics of victory and security politics that we grant forgiveness and create a free and festive world’. Cf. Suet. Jul. 75. [<]

[51] This is attested of him by the Church Fathers also—cf. Orosius Hist. 6.17.1 , who says that Julius Caesar perished in the attempt to construct the political world anew, contrary to the example of his predecessors, in the spirit of clemency: Caesar Roman rediit: ubi dum Reipublicae statum contra exempla maiorum clementer instaurat, auctoribus Bruto et Cassio, conscio etiam plurimo senatu, in curia viginti et tribus vulneribus confossus interiit.’ [<]

[52] Dio Cass. HR 44.46.5-6 : πάντας ὅσοι μὴ καὶ πρότερόν ποτε ἁλόντες ὑπ' αὐτοῦ ἠλέηντο ἀφείς. τὸ μὲν γὰρ τοὺς πολλάκις ἐπιβουλεύοντάς οἱ ἀεὶ περιποιεῖσθαι μωρίαν, οὐ φιλανθρωπίαν ἐνόμιζε [...]. [<]

[53] Mk. 3:29 : ὃς δ᾿ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος [...]. [<]

[54] Dio Cass. HR 44.4.5 ; Gel. 5.6.11. [<]

[55] Detail of the passion-sarcophagus in: Hinz (1973-81), I Fig. 74 . Cf. note 157, ill. 116, second scene from left. [<]

[56] Today Greece is still called Ionia by the Turks and the Arabs, and the Greeks are still Ionians. But also in the West the term is more comprehensive than one thinks. So the Ionian islands are less likely to be the eastern ones in front of the Ionian coast-line of Asia minor like Chios and Samos, but rather the western islands in the Ionian sea, the islands in closer proximity to Italy like Corfu, Cephalonia etc. [<]

[57] Mk. 1:22: ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων. [<]

[58] Mk. 1:24: Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; [<]

[59] In Rome the woman receives the name of her father’s gens, but sometimes even scholars make the mistake of naming her after her husband—so Caesar’s wife Pompeia is called ‘Iulia’ by Appianus (BC 2.14). The differing accent, Mária and María results from the different rules of the Latin and Greek accentuation. Gr. Mários/María like Ky´rios/Kyría. [<]

[60] Jn. 11:5. [<]

[61] For the metathesis of the liquids in the Aramaic cf. Stanislav Segert (41990), Like Greek Herakles > Latin Hercules; German Riegel > Czech lígr. The variations in the vocals are insignificant, even more so to ears that are familiar with Semitic languages. In the Aramaic—as in the other Semitic languages—only the consonants are semantically relevant. A similar phenomenon exists in the Indo-European languages only as a residuum, for example in English: begin, began, begun. If we were to also only pen the consonants, the relationship of the three words would be more striking. Common denominator: bgn. [<]

[62] For eventual doublets that can be generated from different names, among them especially ‘Lepidus’ see note 100. [<]

[63] Concerning short forms with -aV cf. Chantraine (1933), p. 31 sq. [<]

[64] Mk. 14:43: Ἰούδας εἷς τῶν δώδεκα. [<]

[65] Cf. the respective meaning of the Italian derivatives: ladro —‘thief, rogue’—and lazzarone —‘scoundrel, villain, lout’. [<]

[66] Ὁ νέος Καῖσαρ respectively Καῖσαρ ὁ νέος—so Octavianus Augustus is often called to distinguish him from the older (Nicolaus Damascenus Vit. Caes. 14: πρεσβύτερος) or great Caesar (Nic. Dam. Vit. Caes. 107: μεγάλος). Cf. i. a.: Nic. Dam. Vit. Caes. 14, 16, 17, 32, 36, 37, 51, 107; Plut. Brut. 27.1 , Cic. 43.6, 44.1 and Plut. Ant. 16.1 ; App. BC 3.21, 32 and 33 . If there was no pressing danger of confusion the ancient historians simply called him CaesarΚαῖσαρ.
N.B.: We transcribe here—and from now on—the Greek article ‘o not with ‘ho’ but with ‘(h)o’ or even ‘o’,—as well as the other words beginning with spiritus asper—because in the late Hellenistic time we are concerned with, the ‘h’ was not pronounced and was no longer written: the diacritical signs, the accents, the esprits etc. were introduced at a later time. The classical transcription here would give the wrong impression and lead us astray. [<]

[67] Iuuenis > ὁ νέος > Ἰωάν(ν)ης. There are many examples in the Romance languages of the incorporation of the article into the name—witness the French Lorient (< l’Orient), Lancelot (< l’Ancelot < Anselo < Anguselus), the Italian Labbadia (<l’Abbadia), etc.
The acoustic transition to Johannes (John) also occurs when the Greek ὁ νέος is omitted and the Latin iuuenis is supposed as the starting point. The presence of a ‘v’ in the Italian form of both words giovane and Giovanni (and its absence in the popular Gianni) would speak for the direct derivation of the name Ἰωάν(ν)ης from the Latin iuuenis. A modern example for young > John is the football (resp. soccer) player Elber—who was called il giovane Elber in Italy ‘the young Elber’ when he came from Brazil at a young age—and was later called Giovane in Germany as well—but with the accent of Giovànni: Giovàne, instead of gióvane. [<]

[68] Because of the weak and aspirant pronunciation of the Greek ‘g’—and because of the appearance of the writing. [<]

[69] Model: curia < co-uiria, meeting of men. [<]

[70] Nicolaus Damascenus (i. a. Vit. Caes. xxiii 82) regularly calls the Roman Senate συνέδριον. The distinction between synedrion, ‘(Greek) council’ and synedrium, ‘Jewish council’, which is often made in German, is arbitrary. In English the perspicuity of the relation between senate and synedrion is lost, because the last is rather called sanhedrin, using a pseudo-Hebraic word, in fact a late hebraization of an authentic Greek word, composed of syn, ‘together’ and (h)edra, ‘seat, sitting, session’. The Greek word synedrion indicates simply a council, i. e. in Rome the senate. [<]

[71] Aramaic migdol, ‘tower’ respectively ‘castle’. Hence the frequency of places with this addition. [<]

[72] It is striking that all women who are related to Jesus or who are close to him are called Maria. [<]

[73] Plut. Ant. 74: αὐτὴ δὲ θήκας ἔχουσα καὶ μνήματα κατεσκευασμένα περιττῶς εἴς τε κάλλος καὶ ὕψος. [<]

[74] Mk. 1:16: εἶδεν Σίμωνα. [<]

[75] Cf. the reputed relic of the titulus crucis, the sign on Jesus’ cross, with a text written from right to left, Greek and Latin: ΒCΥΝΕΡΑΖΑ(Η)Ν.CΙ / RSVNIRAZAN.I—for ΙC.Ν(Η)ΑΖΑΡΕΝΥCΒ / I.NAZARINVSR, here obviously in imitation of the Jewish way of writing; the Greek line is a mere Greek transcription of the Latin line rather than a translation, in contrast to all the Greek citations of the Gospels, so that this titulus crucis can hardly be considered authentic, even if some devout scholars persist in doing so. Anyway, if authentic, it documents the possibility of writing Greek and even Latin in reversed script in a Jewish context. If not authentic, it documents the inveterate tendency to write Greek and even Latin in reversed script, in order to appear authentic. In fact, in archaic times the Greeks—like the Egyptians and Etruscans—did not always write from the left to the right, but also from right to left. Sometimes they wrote one line to the right and the next line to the left: boustrophedon, which means: as oxen reverse during ploughing (cf. the inscription of the Cretan city of Gortyn about its municipal right). It is also assumed that the Septuagint was transcribed in Greek letters first and was then translated with occasional perceptual errors, amongst them the ones due to the misreading of the direction in which various words were to be read (cf. Wutz (1925) . Apart from the Septuagint, transcriptions of Hebrew texts are contained in the writings of Flavius Josephus, Origenes, Eusebius, Epiphanes, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion. For the heterographical use of the Aramaic in the Persian cf. Segert (41990), 1.7.6. So it is conceivable that a copyist has taken the name Antonius to be a reversed, heterographically inserted Simona and that he has ‘corrected’ the supposed mistake. [<]

[76] The metathesis, the reordering of sounds, often occurs in transitions between languages, sometimes combined with a wrong etymology. So for example, wasp— (from the Latin vespa) was in Old English wæps, as if it had come from wefan —‘to weave’—although in this case the etymology could, as an exception, be correct. [<]

[77] N.B.: This expression—εἰς τὴν πόλιν, pronunciation: Is tem bolin—became Istambul, the proper Turkish name for the city of Constantinople. This is similar to the Arab medina, which signifies ‘city’ generally but ‘The city’ as well. [<]

[78] LXX and Philo write Σαλήμ, Flavius Josephus Ant. J. 1.180 writes Σολυμᾶ. [<]

[79] Paul in Heb. 7:1 sq calls Melchisedek βασιλεὺς Σαλήμ by following Gn. 14:18 and explains it as ‘king of peace’. Philo leg. all. 3.79: Μελχισεδὲκ βασιλέα τῆς εἰρήνηςΣαλὴμ τοῦτο γὰρ ἑρμηνεύεται. [<]

[80] Similar to the German Regensburg, which sounds like ‘Castle of Rain’, derived from Latin Castra Regina, which can be erroneously understood as ‘Queen’s castle’: castra > Burg, ‘castle’ (straight translation); regina > Regen, ‘rain’ (translation by sound—thus changing the meaning). In fact Regen, Lat. Regina, is neither the rain nor a queen, but the name of the river flowing there. [<]

[81] Older manuscripts—i. a. P. Bodmer II (= P 66)—write IC, only more recent ones like the Bezae Cantabrigiensis (= D) write—IHC. [<]

[82] Cf. i. a. App. BC 2.106: σχήματά τε ἐπεγράφετο ταῖς εἰκόσι ποικίλα, καὶ στέφανος ἐκ δρυὸς ἦν ἐπ' ἐνίαις ὡς σωτῆρι τῆς πατρίδος, ᾧ πάλαι τοὺς ὑπερασπίσαντας ἐγέραιρον οἱ περισωθέντες. [<]

[83] Cf. Raubitschek (1954) , p. 69 , (B), (C), (F), (G), (J), (K), (M), (N), (O): the many similar inscriptions have the following common denominator:
[ ΥΠΑΤΟΝ ΚΑΙ ΔΙΚΤΑΤΟΡΑ ΤΟ ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟΝ ] ΣΩΤΗΡΑ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΗΝ [ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ ΑΠΑΝΤΩΝ ] . In square brackets we have the titles that were omitted or were formulated in another manner in one or the other inscription. The accusative indicates that these are not only dedications but in fact are consecrations. [<]


[85] Like Jesus, Caesar was also «Son of God». Because the Julii were generally considered to be descendants of Venus via Julus and Aeneas and especially he, the favorite son, who had consecrated his victories to her: Venere prognatus. Cf. Cic. Ep. ad fam.; c. vii Id. Mart. 49. Linguistically there is to note, that ‘Son of God’ in Greek can also mean ‘Son of the Goddess’, because θεός is a commune and also means Goddess, e. g.: ἡ Διὸς θεός, ἡ Ζηνὸς θεός, verbatim ‘she the Zeus’ God’, i. e. the daughter of Zeus; cf. also Dio Cass. HR 41.61.4: ἐν τῷ τῆς Νίκης ναῷ [...] καὶ τὴν θεὸν αὐτὴν [...]. Hence υἱὸς θεοῦ (Mk 15:39; Lk 1:35) and thus also υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (passim)—can also mean ‘Son of the Goddess’. So Dio Cassius says of Caesar, analogous to the inscription from Ephesos, that he is ἐκ τῆς Ἀφροδίτης (HR 44.37.4), descended ‘from Aphrodite’, while the parallel place in Appianus (BC 146) speaks of θεοῦ γενέσεως ‘his origin from God’ (not ‘from the Goddess’, although ‘from Venus’ is meant here). The ‘from Ares’ in the inscription from Ephesos—instead of the expected ‘from Anchises’—originates from the marriage of Mars and Venus, a notion familiar to the Greeks, because it had come to the Romans from them (cf. Wissowa (21912) p. 292). Here ‘from Ares’ alludes politically to Caesar as the new Romulus, who was the son of Mars (cf. also the temple of Mars Ultor which was later consecrated to Caesar by his adoptive son Octavianus; the same Augustus was to name his nephew and adoptive son Caius Caesar ArhoV uioV). Possibly it also alludes to the fact that Caesars’ father descended on the mothers’ side from the Marcii Reges, who stemmed from Ancus Marcius (cf. Suet. Jul. 6.1), with (etymologically correct) derivation of Marcius from Mars. Caesar had sacrificed to both deities, Mars and his ancestral mother Venus, at midnight before the battle at Pharsalos: App. BC 2.68.281: θυόμενός τε νυκτὸς μέσης τὸν Ἄρη κατεκάλει καὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ πρόγονον Ἀφροδίτην [...].
Jesus Son of God
can thence stand for Caius Iulius Venere prognatus. But since (υἱὸς τῆς) ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗΣ is very close to (υἱὸς τοῦ) ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΥ in tone and appearance of writing, hypothetical mix-ups between ‘Son of Man’ and ‘Son of God’ cannot be completely ruled out.
can stand for divus. The fact that theós can only relatively rarely be found on the pedestals of Ionian statues, even more seldom on the earlier ones (on which instead archiereus or archiereus megistos, i. e. pontifex maximus, is written), is explained thus: that those with theós probably came later, in the time after Munda, when the title divus was bestowed upon Caesar. Cf. Raubitschek (1954). [<]

[86] In our consecration-inscriptions the Latin title imperator is rendered as autokratôr. Jesus is called pantokrator, the almighty, which sounds like a blend of imperator with autokratôr or of hypatos (consul) with autokratôr. But also the apantôn of tôn hellênôn apantôn could be heard as panto-. In the Gospel it is said that Jesus had exousia —authority, full power. The classical Latin translation of exousia is potestas respectively imperium (cf. Magie 1905, p. 11, 68 and 121). So exousia respectively pantokrator could represent a collective term for the different political titles of Caesar that were sometimes mentioned together or sometimes alternately: autokratôr, hypatos, diktator—imperator, consul, dictator. [<]

[87] The nomen sacrum, the abbreviation for ΧΡΙCΤΟC, ΧΡ, is an anomaly because in most abbreviations, the first and the last letter are the ones preserved—ΘΕΟC > ΘC, ΙΗCΟΥC > ΙC etc. Thus the normal abbreviation is ΧC. So it would be conceivable that the abbreviation ΧΡ may have replaced the abbreviation for ΚΑΙCΑΡ, ΚΡ, through a writing error: Κ > Χ. [<]

[88] Jesus Nazarene is the name and sometimes the address of Jesus. The possessed man of Capernaum in Mark addresses him that way. Nazarênos—Ναζαρηνός—is generally understood as ‘of Nazareth’. Outside of Mark, sometimes Ναζωραῖος is found instead, but this variation is also interpreted as an adjective to Ναζαρέθ—explicitly so in Matthew 2:23. The Septuagint has Ναζηραῖος. The annotation by Bauer (61988), Sp. 1077, that ‘the linguistic bridge from Ναζαρέτ to Ναζωραῖος is difficult to construct, and one has to assume that Ναζωραῖος had another meaning before it was connected to Nazaret’, something that cannot be emphasized too much. For Nazareth there is also the variation Nazara which could be older (cf. Lk. 4:16: Καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς Ναζαρά). If we compare in Greek the roots of Nazarênos and Nazareth with CaesarΝΑΖΑΡ > ΚΑΙΣΑΡ—then the difference appears to be minimal (the differing letters—the inital Ν and Κ—both consist of three lines: only the beginning and the direction of the last line differ a bit; Σ and Ζ can be confused; Ι dissipates easily and it could be held for the commonly appearing dash of the Ζ : Ζ- . Whereas Nazara is close to Kaisara (the Greek accusative of Caesar) and also Nazareth is close to Kaisareia (Greek Caesarea: the name of several cities), so Nazarênos looks like Kaisarianos: Jesus Nazarene could stand for Gaius Iulius Caesar. [<]

[89] Caius Iulius Caesar was ‘son of Caius’, pronunciation ‘Gaius’. Understood as having the meaning of ‘son of Gaia’, ‘son of Mother Earth’, the name Gaius stood for the concept of ‘man, human’ par excellence to the farmers which the Romans were (cf. the vow of marriage of the Roman woman: Vbi tu Gaius et ego Gaia —‘Where you (will be) man of earth, likewise I (will be), woman of earth’). This is especially the case for Greek ears (In Greek Caius is written Gaios, like Gaia, gê, the earth. Cf. γῆ, γᾶ or γαῖα —gê, gâ or gaî—for ‘earth’ and in English ‘geography’; γαιήϊοςgaiêios—‘born of the earth, coming from the earth’, poetical since Odyssey 7.24; also γηγενής gêgenês—‘born of the earth, son of earth, native, autochthon’), and—translated—also for Aramaic ears (‘Adam’, name of the first man and ‘man’ in general, is derived from adamâ, ‘earth, arable land’. According to Gn. 2:7: ‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground [...]’—a play on words; Gn. 5:2: ‘Male and female (men) created he them [...] and called their name Adam (man)’—both times ‘Adam’. For Christ as ‘the new Adam’ cf. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:45). So Jesus Son of Man can stand for Caius Iulius Cai filius. However, since both parts of the name (i. e. Caius Iulius and Cai filius), as demonstrated in the inscriptions, can be easily confused in the Greek—especially when written without a space between the words, as was usual at that time: ΓΑΙΟΝΙΟΥΛΙΟΝ ΓΑΙΟΥΥΙΟΝ, gaionioulion gaiouuion— many a son of man can also stand for Caius Iulius. (The frequent occurrence of son of man82 times in the four Gospels—as well as its use: never as an address, would attest to this.) [<]

[90] Gaius Iulius as a proper name cannot endure: it is too long. Proper names shrink in usage to a maximum length of two syllables. Johannes becomes Jannis, Jean, Sean, Ian or John, etc. and if officialdom tries to preserve the full form it shrinks just as much in practise—so the German Johannes to Hans for example, or the Italian Giovanni becomes Gianni; of course Johannes can be abbreviated according to the modern trend to Jo but it has to become shorter. The same thing happens to other names with three or more syllables: Margarita becomes Margit or Rita, Joseph can remain (it only has two syllables, but there is in German the option of Sepp), but Giuseppe (three syllables) becomes Beppe, Francesco becomes Franco, Checco, Paco or Franz etc. (but François can remain): always the maximum of two syllables.
The same tendency toward one or two syllables can be observed in the names of towns: Colonia becomes Köln, Confluentes Koblenz, Mogontiacum Mainz, Forum Livii becomes Forlì etc. Gaius Iulius has four syllables. The abbreviations, only Gaius or only Iulius, rule themselves out because they would lead to confusions. The name has to contract itself. As a comparison Forum Iulii, which became Fréjus, could help us to understand the process (apparently the vulgar tongue started from the undeclined basic form F orum Iulius: Forum Iulius > Fre-jus). This shows that the second link of our combination Iulius becomes -ius (-jus). The unaccented middle syllable then fades (cf. i. a. Pope (1934): vigilare > veiller; regina > reine; nigrum > noir; legere > lire, etc.). So Gaius Iulius will have as an intermediate stage Gais-jus. The initial soft ‘g’ becomes ‘j’, whereas the spirant ‘s’ absorbs the semivowel ‘j’ of the second link; then the accented vowel in the first link closes itself to ‘e’ (especially in the case of the Greek Gaios, because it is understood as a dialectal version of gêios —pronunciation ‘ghêios’—Dorean γάιος / Attean γήιος): Iêsus, Greek ΙΗCΟΥC.
Gaius Iulius > Gais-jus > Iêsus >
Gaius Julius
and Jesus can be one and the same name, the one in its elaborate form and the other in the everyday one. [<]

[91] The titles in the square brackets correspond in the Christology, besides basileus and kyrios, to others that are typical for Caesar— victor, triumphator, imperator, even Caesar —or for Augustus— dux, custos, princeps and Augustus. Cf. Cancik (1975), p. 118. That dictator is missing in Christology may be based on the fact that the title was prohibited after Caesar’s murder. Hence Octavianus took the title princeps. [<]

[92] At the time when the Gospels originated, which means a century or so after Caesar’s death, there were so many Caesars and Julii that it became common to call Caius Iulius Caesar rather Divus Iulius, ‘the divine Julius’ (cf. the titles of Suetonius’ emperor-biographies). Because Divus Iulius was his cult-name it would be conceivable that we should assume Diuus Iulius as the starting point for the short name Jesus instead of Gaius Iulius.
Remarkably—in this case also, the short form would be Jesus. The development of the second element would be at first the same: Iulius > -ius (-jus). What can become of Diuus is illustrated to us by the development of diu pater (from an original dieu pater) which became Ju-piter: the ‘d’ before ‘iu’ was eliminated. That this rule was valid also later can be seen in the evolution of diurnus which led to the French jour and to the Italian giorno. So Diuus at first becomes Iuus. The intermediate stage would be Iuus-jus. Then the spirant ‘s’ would absorb the semivowel ‘j’: Iuusus. Finally the accented syllable would lead to a narrowing of the vowel as before— Iêsus.
Diuus Iulius
> Iuus-jus > Iuusus > Iêsus > Ἰησοῦς.
Moreover, we have to notice here that also Caesar’s adoptive son Octavianus became Caius Iulius Caesar Cai filius by his adoption—and hence he had practically the same name as the father (the cause was the condicio nominis ferendi: in order to claim the inheritance C. Octavius Thurinus had taken the name of his adoptive father and he was called Gaius Iulius Caesar Cai filius Octavianus from then on. The equality of names proved itself to be a political trump. His opponents like Antonius denigrated him as Octavianus, sometimes Thurinus as well. Today he is called mostly by his later title of honor: Augustus. Cf. Cancik (1975), p. 118). When his adoptive father shortly after was consecrated, the adoptive son was from then on called Caius Iulius Caesar Divi filius —‘son of God’. But because Caesar was also son of God as descendant of Venus there was practically no possibility of distinguishing them.
Coincidentally we also arrive at the short name Jesus when we use Divi Filius as the starting point (instead of Caius Iulius or Divus Iulius). We would namely have to assume Diuus Filius as the undeclined basic form (see the above example ‘Fréjus’). Diuus becomes Iuus, as we have seen before, Filius to fius (disappearance of the unaccentuated syllable). Then the dental fricative ‘s’ would absorb the labiodental fricative ‘f’: Iuusus. And from here on again Iêsus.
Diuus Filius
> Iuus-fius > Iuusius > Iêsus > Ἰησοῦς.
All Roman roads lead inevitably to Jesus.
We have to reckon with the possibility that Caesar and Octavianus Augustus have competed to generate the name Jesus. Or—expressed differently—we have to be prepared for at least two Jesus-figures. [<]

[93] This is documented for koíranos, which is close to kyrios in both meaning and sound. Cf. the play on words of Areios οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκαισαρίη—‘More than one Caesar is not a good thing’ (Plut. Ant. 81)—a paraphrase of Odysseus’ οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη—‘More than one master is not a good thing’ (Iliad 2.204)—which enticed Augustus to murder Caesarion, the real son of Caesar and Cleopatra. [<]

[94] Mark and Matthew speak in only one passage of Jesus as ‘the Lord’, Ὁ κύριος: Mk. 11:3 = Mt. 21:3. In addition, Mark uses this term only once as a form of address (7:28). Matthew has it several times. Only Luke uses it more often. At the time of Matthew and Luke (between 70 and 100 ad) the term dominus = kyrios as a designation of and an address to the emperor had established itself, following Oriental custom. [<]

[95] The Greek ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ respectively ΚΑΙCΑΡ CΕΒΑCΤΟC for the Latin CAESAR AVGVSTVS is the common name of the later emperors, which was abbreviated in different ways in inscriptions and on coins and finally with the simple Κ.C. (cf. von Aulok (1957-68), nr. 19, coin of Traianus from Amasia in the Pontus). While on the Latin emperors’ coins the title pontifex maximus was regularly written, mostly abbreviated p. m. , on the Greek ones the correspondent archiereus megistos is found extremely seldom (if we do not err lastly on a coin of Caligula-Augustus from Crete with the obverse inscription ΓΑΙΟΣ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒ. ΓΕΡΜ. ΑΡΧ. ΜΕΓ. ΔΗΜ. ΕΞΟΥ ΥΠΑ.). This is probably connected with the fact that except for Augustus who could only become pontifex maximus i. e. archiereus megistos after the death of Lepidus in 12 BC, all other emperors normally took on the title as a rule at their enthronement already, so that at least in the Greek-speaking East archiereus megistos was an understood attribute of Kaisar Sebastos. This would mean that the title archiereus megistos had become ownerless in the East—and could be usurped. [<]

[96] Accordingly the magister equitum, the Grand Master of the Horse, was his proxy. [<]

[97] Cf. Jn. 1:38: ‘Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master)’. Ῥαββί, ὃ λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον Διδάσκαλε. It could also be translated: ‘Rabbi—that is master, translated’, then ‘Rabbi’ would be the translation of ‘Master’. [<]

[98] Cf. in English ‘dictation’, ‘to dictate’, see also the German ‘Dichter’ (poet, writer), as well as the address ‘Master’. Rabbi too is originally an address—‘(my) Lord’—which later took on the meaning of (law)teacher. [<]

[99] Mk. 1:22: ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων [...]. [<]

[100] We have seen that if sound and meaning fall apart, for the one name Caesar, two can emerge in the Gospel: so Iesus as a possible translation of servator or as a result of the wearing off of Gaius Iulius respectively Divus Iulius or Divi Filius. Thus two persons in the Caesar story can stand for one in the Gospel—or vice versa. For example:
Lepidus > Pilatus
(preservation of the sound)
Praetor Lepidus > Petrus
(the sense of Lepidus, misunderstood as lapis, lapidis, ‘stone’; the sound from praetor)
Or vice-versa:
praetor (Lepidus) > Petrus
praetor (Antonius) > Petrus
praetor (Brutus) > Petrus

[101] Concerning the oral transmission of information, there is the well known experiment: a picture is shown to the first student, who has to describe it to the next one and so on. It is then possible to follow the transformation of the story. If the picture was of a woman in black who undresses in front of a man in white, the result can be that a white man has raped a black woman: Thus a medical examination by a doctor turns into a rape. Provided, of course, that there are racial problems in the area. The story is totally different at the end but the requisites are the same: woman/black/naked, man/white/power.
In such experiments that examine the spreading of rumors (or of information heard through the grapevine), at first a simplification of the original story is observed, which tends toward the threefold unity of time, place and action like in the old theater. Only later does embellishment take place, the function of which, however, is to explain rationally and credibly that which has become incomprehensible. Therefore requisites, changed by folk etymology, may generate others that fit into the new picture and support the requisites in their new function. In the example mentioned above the discarded garment could be torn suddenly, or a bed or a knife may appear. But above all a great deal can be argued round and round: the interpretation gets the upper hand. Sub-themes will also arise which seek to correct contradictions caused in the main story, etc.
It is virtually impossible to trace a narration found at the delta of an oral river back to its source. But if we have both, the mouth and the (supposed) source, it is easy to determine, by the comparison of the requisites, if one is the source of the other or not. So if ‘grapevine’ effects did become incorporated in the Gospels, then, in the process of verification of our hypothesis, we first have to pay attention only to the requisites and set the story they are embedded in aside for the moment. In this way a possible filiation may be detected. [<]

[102] For an example of a transition through three languages cf. i. a., the medicinal herb Erythraea which the Greeks named after the centaur Chiron Kentaurion, Latin centaurium (cf. Plinius, Nat. hist. 25.66): misunderstood as centum aurum (‘hundred gold pieces’), in German/Dutch it went beyond the Hundertgulden, ‘hundred guilders’, to the Tausendgüldenkraut, ‘thousand guilders herb’. Sometimes transitions are not provable. The Hindi word for ape— markata —is found again in meerkat: a small long-tailed monkey very fond of climbing (e. g. a southern African mongoose, especially the suricate). A Portuguese mediation, marcata, misinterpreted as mar cata, ‘see cat’, seems to be obvious but it is not substantiated (Cf. Kluge 211975, s. v. Meerkatze).
It is particularly in the names of flora and fauna that the folk language is mistaken in determining the origin, inferring the wrong mediator from the sound and then proceeding to a fantastic origin: the Zizyphus iuiuba, with its characteristic fruits, the ‘red or Chinese dates’ is called, according to the botanical name, ‘common Jujube’ in German, but the thorny shrub or tree of the Jujube, became Judendorn, ‘thorn of the Jews’ in the vernacular. A similar thing happened to the Helianthus tuberosus, a root tasting like artichoke which was named after the sunflower girasole, ‘turning with the sun’, by the Italo-Americans, and became Jerusalem artichoke in the USA, albeit not an artichoke and not from Jerusalem (communication by Erika Simon).
The role played by a third term as an attraction pole in the mechanism of folk etymology is illustrated by the German radikal, ‘radical’ > ratzekahl, ‘absolutely bare’, influenced by tabula rasa; idem with the French forcené < f or-senné, ‘out of mind’, with the influence of energumène. For the incorporation of the article cf. the assistant of Commissaire Moulin in the French TV-criminal series: Katzmann, ‘cat-man’, called Shalom (< chat l’homme). For the incorporation of other particles cf. the German nickname Owi for the smiling Jesus-child in the crib, from the Christmas-song: Stille Nacht ... Gottes Sohn oh wie lacht / Liebe aus deinem göttlichen Mund / da uns schlägt die rettende Stund, / Christ in deiner Geburt...—Gottes Sohn oh wie lacht, ‘Son of God, O how love laughs from out Thy godly mouth...’ > Gottes Sohn, Owi, lacht, ‘God’s Son, Owi, laughs’...: oh wie, ‘oh, how’, was bound together to Owi, and taken for the proper name of the Jesus-child.
It is not unusual that animals pop up in folk etymology providing an outlet for the people’s respective love or hatred of them.
Elephants never roamed around the London Elephant and Castle and one would seek the castle in vain. The name is the legacy of a visit by a Spanish princess, when the common people had to shout out in her language : ‘A l’infante de Castilla!’.
The Mäuseturm, ‘mice-tower’, near Bingen on the river Rhine owes its name not to any mice but to the Maut, ‘toll’, that was exacted there: when the memory of the ancient Maut was long gone, popular idiom turned the Maut-tower into a Mice-tower (German Maus/Mäuse = mouse/mice).
are not to be found in the American city called Buffalo, nor any bison, but there is a beautiful river, christened beau fleuve by the French, which naturally sounded like Buffalo to the ears of the Englishman.
People insist on calling police by animal names in all languages: in Germany they are called Bullen (bulls), in French poulets (chickens), in England pigs, in Italy poia and puia (buzzard). Different animals, as we see, but they have one thing in common: they always are the animal whose name in the respective languages corresponds most closely to the respective language’s word for police (polizia, Polizei, etc). It does not matter which animal, the main thing is that it is one. And how far removed phonetically the animal’s name is from the respective word for policeman/police is determined by chance: in the word Bullen the hissing end-sound is missing, in the words pigs and puia the ‘l’, etc. The main thing being that they are approximately called by their name!
We must not forget that this is not about the development of language in the sense of Indo-European linguistics with its regular sound shifts, but about folk etymologies, folk ‘etymolocheats’ one could say. This is particularly the case with folk etymologies arising from feelings of awe—the so-called occultatives. We can observe how far removed this can be from the laws of sound shift. This happens if e. g. a Bavarian while cursing conceals his Sakrament! (sacrament) behind a Sack Zement! (sack of cement), or also when a Venetian covers his ostia! (the sacred Host) with ostrega! (the humble oyster). We see how sometimes sounds disappear or how they can originate out of necessity, as in this case the ‘r’, ‘z’ and ‘g’. The main thing is they are hidden, right under our noses!
Folk etymologies can also lead to symbolic reinterpretations. The sausage, e. g., stands for anal or sexual associations in almost all languages, depending on its form and size from hot dog to Negersäckel, ‘black man’s pouch’, the term for blood-sausage in German rural areas. Almost everywhere—but not in Northern Italy. There, sausage is used as a synonym for stupidity: a salame, ‘salami’, is an idiot. The reason is that a big salami is called a salamon, which sounds like Solomon —the epitome of the wise man. So it is said of anyone who was behind the door when the brains were handed out that he is no ‘Solomon’, but rather a ‘salamon’—a big salami. So salami became a synonym for stupidity—contrary to its namesake. Anyhow the new association also helped to expose some sacerdotal pseudo-wisdom, wrapped in biblical Latin, as brainwashing of the people: an enlightening side effect!
Could this have occurred with us in the same way as in the former times of the Church, when the priest scarcely knew any Latin and the people none, leading to inevitable slips of the pen and the tongue, funny misunderstandings and roguish corruptions: Hoc est corpus > hocus-pocus. In nomine pax > kannst wechsle, Max? —‘can you change, Max?’: originally a play on words between nomen, ‘name’, and nummus, ‘coin’). Or also on the base of a different language : Salam aleikum > ich zahl, wenn ich vorbei kum. —‘I’ll pay when I come by’.
Is the Gospel the missal of the poor in spirit?
Folk etymologies always occur when vernacular is involved. When, however, scholars cause it one speaks of Verballhornungen (erudite corruptions/bastardizations/transmogrifications). The result is often still more exciting. He who gave his name to this process—of making things worse rather than better by changing the sense whilst intending to correct what was supposedly wrong—was no layman but a scholar, a printer from Lübeck, Germany: Joh. Balhorn the younger. In 1586 he edited the ‘Lübische Recht’, the law of the city of Lübeck, ‘Auffs Newe vbersehen, Corrigiret’. The printer was blamed for the fateful erroneous improvements of the editors. Actually ‘one should write ‘Verbalhornung’ (ver-Balhorn-ung) with only one ‘l’, but this would present the danger of it being read as ‘Verbal-hornung’—and this would be another Verballhornung. For this reason ‘Verballhornung’ is written with two ‘l’’s: is this not itself one: ‘Ver-ball-hornung’?
As a matter of fact there are only a few genuine folk etymologies: most of them are scholarly corruptions, that are decreed to be folk etymologies once they are detected in order to preserve them like forcené and Tausendgüldenkraut.
And there are things that the scholars do not want to admit because of ideological reasons. So the Indo-European philologists with their tribal idea of languages according to the maxim that ‘the inheritance goes through the bood’, only accept words of consanguinity, and conversely all noble words have to be of consanguinity. So meerkat (literally ‘sea-cat’) is not permitted to originate from the Indian markata, and Arbeit, ‘work’, has to be a German word because of the deutsche Wertarbeit, ‘German quality work’. So it is fabulated that the word Arbeit originated from an Indo-Germanic root *orbho-, which means ‘orphaned’ and then became the Germanic *arbhêjô, ‘am an orphaned (and hence obliged to heavy work) child’. There’s a rub in this explanation: Arbeit, ‘work’, never meant ‘child or servant labor’, but from the beginning the meaning was ‘utilizing nature, agriculture’ or even ‘hardship’ (Cf. Kluge 211975 , s.v. Arbeit). Further, the word Arbeit comes from the south—in the north we already have Werk, work, etc. And in the south there is a word that means ‘utilizing nature, farming’ and ‘trouble’ as well, which is the medieval Latin laborat(um). Since the initial ‘l’ sound is often lost in words because it is taken to be the definite article (cf. German Oleander < lorandum or Venetian osmarin < l’osmarin < rosmarin), we may assume an aborat as the intermediate stage which could become, by metathesis of the liquid, arabot as the possible basic form for the origin of the Slavic rabota (by the loss of the ‘a’ which was taken to be a Greek article) and the Old High German arabeit. But this is not even allowed to be considered: where would we end up? [<]

[103] In the bilingual Roman Empire, Greek correspondences were sought for the Latin terms of the official Roman language. In Leipzig in 1905, David Magie published a treatise on the manner of how the Roman festive vocabulary was rendered in Greek, and he identifies three methods which followed each other in the course of the centuries: in the most ancient times by comparison (comparatio) —so for example populus was rendered as dêmos —later, when there were no longer any Greek correspondences, firstly by translation (interpretatio) —so for example censor became timêtês —and finally by adoption, borrowing of the Roman terminology (transcriptio)— a process where dictator did not become autokratôr, but rather diktatôr instead (Cf. Magie 1905).
But if we take a look at which word succeeds amongst the different possible variants, we find an astonishing fact: for the word senatus it is not the classical boulê that becomes accepted, nor even gerousia, qua meaning the best translation, but (besides synedrion) synklêtos. For imperator (sometimes also for dictator) autokratôr, ‘absolute ruler’, was said. For lictor, the usher with the lictor-bundles, it was said liturgos, ‘functionary, servant of the state’. For Augustus, the title of the emperor Octavianus and then of his successors too, it was said Sebastos, ‘revered (Sir)’. If we list all these correspondences, we detect the attempt to choose words that are close in sense as well as in sound. Actually, to preserve the sound, diminutions of sense were tolerated:
> synklêtos / imperator resp. dictator > autokratôr / lictor > liturgos / Augustus > Sebastos.
It is seen very clearly with synklêtos, which means ‘called together, convoked’ (and hence more appropriate as the translation of comitium calatum) and also with dictator, who indeed ruled by himself but did so within the framework of the constitution and so was not sui iuris —he was not an ‘autocrat’; the same goes for imperator, who in his original sense of victor was more likely a nikatôr, a ‘winner’; it also goes for lictor, who got his name from ligo, the ‘bundle’ he carried—he was not just a simple ‘civil servant’; and it applies to Augustus, a name that the Romans took partly from augeo, ‘to increase, to let it grow’ and partly from observation of the flight of birds (ab avium gustu) —so it did not stand for a typical ‘revered one’ at all.
It is striking that the resemblance of sound was always aimed at the ending of the word and only at the beginning of the word if possible.
We rather have to be astonished that in general the other names in the Gospels remain so close to those of Caesar’s vita. Seemingly the similarity of sound was more important for the editors of the Gospels than for the magistrates: After all, they had to proselytize; the civil servants did not have to convince anybody.
With respect to Caesar’s official titles the Greek terms in comparison to the Latin ones are shown to be similar:
stays: diktator; consul is translated: hypatos; imperator is rendered as autokratôr, which is not a correct translation. For the word means the same as the Latin sui iuris —between ‘absolute ruling’ and ‘plenipotentiary’. Even in the combined meaning of ‘unlimited lord and master’ autokratôr represents dictator better than imperator. Apparently it was chosen because autokratôr is phonetically closer to imperator —like the later sebastos is closer to augustus. A comparable situation is observed between the titles pontifex maximus and archiereus megistos. Arch-iereus would be enough, because arch- already gives the idea of maximus, like iereus that of pontifex: but yet we find in addition also its full form, even if pleonastic, probably because archiereus megistos is rhythmically and phonetically close to pontifex maximus. [<]

[104] The classic example here is the London Elephant and Castle: As we have seen above it originates from: ‘A l’infante de Castilla!’. This disappoints the tourist who expects to see the castle of a Maharaja and imagines himself in India.
In the Paris Metro one can fantasize being on a railroad trip through Europe: Anvers, Rennes, Liège, Plaisance, Danube, Crimée, Stalingrad... or, following Napoleon: Solferino, Campo-Formio, Wagram, Austerlitz, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre (the last one is a French corruption of Winchester), Pyramides —the last one points to Caesar: Alésia, Rome etc.
In the US one keeps on coming across doublets of European towns: Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, Toledo etc.—without counting the ‘New’ ones: New York, New Orleans etc. In polyglot Switzerland it is even easier to be sent on a journey: thus an American travel guide once counselled caution because all the towns have three names there, a German, a French and an Italian one, for example: Basel/Bâle/Basilea, Genf/Genève/Ginevra or ... Luzern/Lausanne/Locarno (sic!—these three being really three different cities).
In America, names that were originally European have sometimes experienced a second mutation and migration: so it is thought that the people called Cajun or Cajan, half-bloods in the South of Alabama and Mississippi, received their names from the Acadian, descendants of French speaking immigrants from Louisiana who were forcibly resettled.
Stereotype city-names like for example the many called Heliopolis or Nikopolis caused confusion, especially those which were named after a ruler like Alexandria, Seleukia, Antiochia, Ptolemais, Caesarea etc. The greater the ruler’s house and duration of the dynasty, the more prevalent the city-name and the greater the confusion, occurring in former times just as it sometimes occurs among modern historians: in which Antiochia or in which Caesarea did this or that event occur? To which Alexandria did Caesar want to relocate the capital of the Empire? The context decides. But what if it is precisely the context that is misleading? Or what if the location itself determines the context? Then an event is suddenly located at another place and the context is fantasized accordingly. Then we find ourselves in a right mess!
Our suspicion is that the Gospels are exactly such a mess. We need to find the original ingredients, and this is only possible if we detect the first delocalization. [<]

[ Chapter III: Crux ]