Readers may have noticed that I devoted January's postings to reviewing the eccentric theory (I use the adjective advisedly -- Merriam-Webster defines it as "deviating from conventional or accepted usage" -- I am not trying to match one of Signor Carotta's colorful terms of abuse) that "the entire Gospel is a mutated history of the Roman Civil War, from the Rubicon to the assassination and burial of Caesar, i.e. from the Jordan to the ‘capture’ and the ‘crucifixion’ of Jesus."
Three times, I have tried to engage Signor Carotta in debate (here, here and here), and three times he has denied me. Three times, I have listed errors in his argument, gaps in his logic, and mistakes in his research. But each time, rather than answering my criticism, Signor Carotta has cunningly chosen to turn the tables.
He prefers to restrict his responses to slandering my blog and nit-picking my critique. He offers no defense of his eccentric theory, other than to assert that it is true. When forced to recant on one of his ill-considered arguments, far from taking the opportunity to reconsider how it might impact upon the rest of his eccentric theory, he merely counterblasts that "there are hundreds upon hundreds of links and parallels, and this is simply one of them".
With typical cunning, the great man has distanced himself from the mean-spirited and puerile name-calling on his web site. Instead, we are informed that "our rebuttals don’t come from Carotta, but from Divus Iulius". Well, whether it's Signor Carotta or his Divine Iulius mouthpiece doesn't make much difference. I'm sure that, if his web site minion has adopted this low level of playground debate, it cannot be without the great man's blessing. "If you throw enough mud", goes the saying ... mehercle, he has certainly slung shovelfuls in this direction!
Whose is the Lost Cause?
The latest blustering reply from Carotta, a.k.a. Divine Iulius (C.D.J.) will apparently be the last:
A.P. needn’t worry, though: all good things go by three, and it’s likely that there will not be another return coming from our side of the imperial court. But he may feel free to serve again ...
That is kind of Signor Carotta, inviting me to contribute to my own blog! (Perhaps this arrogance is part of his Divine Iulius persona? The same arrogance that expects to read "future blunders" in my blog. Eheu!)
Predictably, his final reply is no better than his previous efforts. I am, it appears, "a lost cause" and "essentially a clueless fraud"; my criticisms are "insignificant, biased, undocumented, etc."; and my study of Caesar's inscriptions "shows that A.P. doesn’t even rudimentarily know the art of textual criticism".
Rather than defending his use of the ugly term "diegetic transposition" as the key to his theory, perhaps by explaining its alleged importance, he prefers to criticize Merriam-Webster (one of our fundamental national reference works) for not listing the awful term! Is there no end to C.D.J.'s arrogance?
At least this time, I am not accused of smear tactics (one of C.D.J.'s most bizarre accusations), but I have, apparently, "made a fool" of myself. (I can't help noticing that all of these "observations" seem to apply quite accurately to Signor Carotta's theory!)
Cunning, innuendo and trickery
While C.D.J. bickers about how many people Plutarch actually called chrêstós -- and there seem to be rather a lot, which makes a fool of anyone wishing to assign divine significance to the term ... while C.D.J. devises ever-more childish slanders (there must surely be some intellectual Italian innuendo behind the otherwise inexplicable slur, "our incurable parrot"!), readers are cunningly diverted from the real point of my review.
It's really quite simple:
- Signor Carotta claims that there was no Jesus Christ.
- Signor Carotta thinks that we have been duped by the Gospel accounts into believing in Jesus Christ.
- Signor Carotta claims that the Gospels really tell the story of Julius Caesar "from the Rubicon to the assassination and burial of Caesar."
- And Signor Carotta believes that he has proved this by twisting the names and the events of the Gospels until they supposedly resemble features from the latter part of Caesar's life.
As I have explained (three times), there is absolutely no factual foundation upon which to base this eccentric theory. None, whatsoever. Zero.
- Signor Carotta thought that he could "spin" a disputed bust of Caesar into a pathetic pietà of the dictator, which in turn could be worshipped as a Christ image.
- He is mistaken.
- Signor Carotta thought that this was sufficient proof to establish that Julius Caesar was worshipped as Christ, with his official titles chanted in "perpetual formulaic repetition".
- He is mistaken.
- Signor Carotta thought that a lengthy list of supposedly significant parallels -- he claims "hundreds upon hundreds of links and parallels", but this is cunning exaggeration -- between the Gospels and some events from Caesar's life would clinch the deal.
- He is mistaken.
It is surprising that an accomplished philosopher like Signor Carotta seems to be ignorant of the fundamental rules of historical enquiry. In fact, he is guilty of improper argumentation, on a large scale. When he claims to have cited "hundreds upon hundreds of links and parallels", he has fallen into the trap of the formal fallacy, for nowhere has he proved that these "links and parallels" are at all significant. All the parallels in the world mean nothing, unless he can come up with some reason to link them to his theory.
- Why should we believe that Caesar's Gaul has become Christ's Galilee?
- Why should we believe that Caesar crossing the Rubicon has become Christ crossing the Jordan to reach Capernaum? (Did Christ even cross the Jordan? Signor Carotta is a little vague on this one. And by no stretch of the imagination can the word Rubicon become corrupted into Jordan.)
- Why should we believe that Pilate washing his hands is a corrupted description of Lepidus? (And why, if Lepidus was at Caesar's "Last Supper", wasn't Pilate at Christ's?)
- Why should we believe that Pompey the Great has become a character called "John the Baptist"? (Oddly, in this case, Carotta's linguistic gymnastics can only show Gnaeus becoming Johannes. So how does Pompey become The Baptist?)
- Why should we believe that Scribonius Curio and Mark Antony have become the brothers Andrew and Simon Peter? (Carotta's theory has a bizarre sequence whereby Curio first becomes vir, in order to facilitate translation into Greek andros, which mutates into Andreas. However, he cannot get Antonius to become Petros, so he tries to convince us to read Antonius backwards and transliterate into Greek -- Συινωτνα -- so that it looks like Simôna! Does it?)
- And above all, why should we believe that the "character" called Jesus is a coded reference to Divus Iulius?
Of course, Signor Carotta's response can be anticipated. Everything is explained by "diegetical transposition", that ugly term that requires no justification! We have a different term for this low level of debate: pseudo-science.
Signor Carotta unscientifically believes that there is "such an overwhelming amount of similarities ... that coincidence can be ruled out". But, of course, the serious historian never rules out coincidence, in the absence of proof.
Sadly, Signor Carotta has consistently failed to supply proof of his eccentric theory. He has, quite simply, struck out!