An alternative theory of
the history of Christianity

Referee Report: Journal of Hellenic Studies

Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia

Brief Notes - P.R.F. Brown (March 2009)

COMMENTS on the Referee Report: Editor JHL, October 2007

Referee (2007) Response to Referee (2009)
This is a revival of the theses of Athanasius Kircher and the AbbČ Hardouin, who (in the hope of disarming the protestant appeal to primitive Christianity) argued that the whole corpus of ancient literature, including the Fathers, up to about 900 A.D. is a forgery. The reasoning of Kircher was based on the absence of numismatic corroboration for the written testimonies. (1) The theses of Hardouin and Kircher are listed as one of the Theories of Fiction. "In a work of 1693 Hardouin hinted; in a work of 1709 he affirmed; in posthumous works of 1729 and 1733 he shouted—a bewildering but simple thesis. Apart from the scriptures—that is the Latin scriptures—and six classical authors, all the writers of antiquity, profane or ecclesiastical, were forged by a group of writers in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries. This group of forgers he never defined or discussed, but always referred to them generically as 'the impious crew', 'maudite cabale'. --- This is not what Brown is claiming at all! Brown's thesis clearly defines the group of forgers, and specifically restricts the forgery to the literature which was generated under the hands of the "Christian Heresiologists" - Eusebius and his "continuators" (See Momogliano).

(2)The Referee does not appear to be aware that C14 citations made in Brown's thesis. The C14 citations themselves immediately refute the theses of Hardouin and Kircher, since there is a C14 citation dated 290 CE (+/- 60 years) for the gJudas and another dated 348 CE (+/- 60 years) for the gThomas - one of the Nag Hammadi Codices.

The argument has never been regarded as anything more than a curiosity, since it presupposes a quite stupendous power of obliteration which the rulers of ancient empires could not have possessed. The Romans appear to have obliterated the Punic literature in Carthage. The Sassanis Persian warlord Ardashir seems to have obliterature the Parthian literature in Persia. The Christian Emperors and their minions at the end of the 4th century seem to have obliterated the library of Alexandria. The political reality of censorship is still evident under the 20thy century rule of Stalin. Constantine's actions may adequately described those of an anti-Hellenistic fascist military supremacist.
Furthermore, the argument is based almost entirely on the absence of substantiating evidence rather than on positive contradiction of the scribal record in the archaeological remains. Even if such positive contradiction were discovered, it would not of course be decisive, as inscriptions and coins can be at least as duplicitous as books more so, perhaps, since the very production of them is an indication that the author is in a position of power and means to retain it. The argument in part is based on the lack of evidence for the New Testament Canon before the 4th century.
The present work improves on Hardouin and Kircher, of course, in its knowledge of epigraphic sources, and some of these, for all I know, may be handled here with originality. Of course the epigraphic sources have been handled with an originality. The argument is made that these sources represent ambiguous citations with respect to the existence of the New Testament Canon prior to the 4th century. A comprehensive list of all known citations was presented.
The paucity of epigraphic evidence for early Christianity is, of course, commonly admitted, but this has not led most scholars to argue that the entire corpus of Christian literature before 325 is a fabrication. So? The argument is novel. "The Emperor Constantine has no clothes" --- Some child has to say it.
If it were, one would have expected the forgers to carry out the enterprise with some doctrinal consistency: why fabricate heretical writings in the name of Origen, for example, while continuing to appeal to his authority? Answer: Many ancient historians need to clarify the existence of two separate Origen's in antiquity, and similarly two separate Ammonias Saccas' (Origen's spiritual teacher). We have Origen the Platonist and Ammonias the Platonist, and another pair - Origen the Christian and Ammonias the Christian. My explanation is this:

Origen the Platonist was a prolific writer, and authored the "Hexapla", but wrote nothing about the New Testament. Eusebius forged additional books and commentary in the name of Origen to hang some antiquity on the "Early Christian writers and evidence. The "Origenist Controversy" of the 4th and 5th centuries was a result of the original books of Origen the Platonist turning up in Christendom -- and not mentioning Jesus or the New Testament.

Why compose the gospels in a homely and obscure idiom which could not fail to bring the authors into disrepute among cultivated readers? To use the words of Lord Acton, Constantine was a "gangster". He did not care about legitimacy. He was interested in gold bullion and unified political power.

"Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Why were “orthodox” writers after Nicaea repeatedly embarrassed by the discovery of tenets contradictory to their own in venerable predecessors?

At Nicaea, the attendees are presented as the Eastern Sacred College of Pontifices (The Greek Priesthood) who were summoned by the Pontifiex Maximus in order to attempt the Canonization of his New Testament Canon as the "Holy Writ" of the new Roman state religion -- in the same manner as did Ardashir in Persia, one century before Constantine.
Archaeological data are never self-interpreting, and since they are generally fortuitous survivals they are even less likely to be representative than the literary texts that have been handed down to us by a deliberate process of canonisation. The assumption that they can be used to construct a history independent of literary sources is surely fallacious. The literary texts that have been handed down to us by a deliberate process of canonisation were done so by Christian Heresiologists of the 4th and 5th centuries. The assumption that they can be used to construct a history independent of monumental, epigraphic and all other archaeological sources is surely wishful thinking.
The fundamental fallacies are compounded in this book by wilful embellishment of such textual evidence as the author deigns to adduce in support of his case. Julian is accusing the evangelists of fiction, rather than imputing a wholesale forgery to Constantine (whom he would have incriminated if he could); The original text of Julian's "Against the Christians" does not exist, since it was burnt by the Christians, and specifically refuted by the Alexandrian Heresiolgist Cyril in the 5th century. What has been recovered of Julian has been recovered from the writings of the hostile censor Cyril, in his many volume work "Against Julian".
Constantine’s admission that the Sibylline oracles were accused of forgery is hardly proof that the authenticity of all other texts had been impugned. Since writing this thesis in 2007 a great deal of further research has been conducted. Specifically, the thesis has been prefaced with two separate theses:

Thesis (1) The New Testament Apocrypha (NTA) were authored as Greek satires after Nicaea 325 CE., and

Thesis (2) The NTA were largely authored by the satirist Arius of Alexandria (a non-christian)


The books of the New Testament Apocrypha (NTA) are currently postulated to have been authored continuously by Christians ‘out of love for the authors and/or books’ of the New Testament Canon (NTC) across the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and perhaps 5th centuries. It is argued that the core series of books of the NTA was largely authored as a political reaction to the “Constantine Codex” between the years of 325 and 336 CE by a non-Christian - Arius of Alexandria. Constantine is sketched as a supreme imperial fascist. Arius is sketched as a Greek Gnostic priest, perhaps one of the therapeutae of Asclepius, whose temples and shrines Constantine had utterly destroyed c.324 CE. Arius as an anti-Christian satirist was so good at his business that the preservation of his books was not only prohibited by the death penalty but was reinforced by Constantine’s pronouncement of “damnatio memoriae” both upon his name and his living memory. Later Christian heresiologists harmonized Arius’ utterly controversial satirical literary reception to Constantine’s NTC and fabricated a “twisted” Hollywood history in which the academic Greek priest appears as one of the cast of “Constantine’s many readily available Christian Bishops”. Arius’ dogmatic sophisms such as “Jesus was made from nothing existing” suggest that the 4th century Arian controversy was not over the theology of Jesus but over the historicity of Jesus.
The scholarship is certainly superior to that of The Da Vinci Code, and the boldness of the argument will guarantee it a hearing, but not any distinguished organ of academic research.

Which "distinguished organ of academic research" could ever contemplate publishing an article which suggests that the New Testament was a 4th century imperially fabricated fiction?

Thesis | Leucius Charinus | New Testament Apocrypha | Arius of Alexandria | Mountain Man Graphics