Is history true?

My answer in Quora:

As a mere shovelbum - field archaeologist - using artefacts to study how the divine men of antiquity were conjured into being, I had to learn the rules of evidence of the Historical method:
Source criticism (or information evaluation) is the process of evaluating the qualities of an information source, such as its validity, reliability, and relevance to the subject under investigation.
Gilbert J Garraghan divides source criticism into six inquiries:[1]
  1. When was the source, written or unwritten, produced (date)?
  2. Where was it produced (localization)?
  3. By whom was it produced (authorship)?
  4. From what pre-existing material was it produced (analysis)?
  5. In what original form was it produced (integrity)?
  6. What is the evidential value of its contents (credibility)?
My concern was driven by the fact that less than a handful of Latin sources exist; other than that, historians were largely using sources from Carolingian monasteries. We have only the word of usually unknown monks that they did not invent. This is unsatisfactory.
Core principles for determining reliability
The following core principles of source criticism were formulated by two Scandinavian historians, Olden-Jørgensen (1998) and Thurén (1997):[4]
  • Human sources may be relics such as a fingerprint; or narrativessuch as a statement or a letter. Relics are more credible sources than narratives.
  • Any given source may be forged or corrupted. Strong indications of the originality of the source increase its reliability.
  • The closer a source is to the event which it purports to describe, the more one can trust it to give an accurate historical description of what actually happened.
  • An eyewitness is more reliable than testimony at second hand, which is more reliable than hearsay at further remove, and so on.
  • If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased.
  • The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias. Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations.
  • If it can be demonstrated that the witness or source has no direct interest in creating bias then the credibility of the message is increased.
To my horror, I found that none of the historians I approached (or studied) knew any of this. Instead, they were following the ‘Christian, textual tradition’ as a matter of faith.
This is how the history I have produced is profoundly different - novel, even - from the traditional.
When I am presented with the supposed works of a supposed figure in the period I am studying, I check the actual manuscripts to see if it existed in that period, and if the supposed author is historical. Usually, the answers are ‘No’. I am not interested in the weak excuses for this; I want the facts, as straight as possible.
One example (of many):

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Thank you, Michael Masiello for both the question and for your genuine interest. The answers I have seen are revealing - one has muted me already “as a matter of principle” and another claims “John Bartram has no idea what he’s talking about.”
I am neither surprised, nor disappointed by even the most negative responses, which are to be expected.
The question is helpful in providing this link to a recent answer by me:
It sets out how historians are supposed to use rules of evidence and my point is that these have not been followed by historians of Christian origins, or of the Christian textual tradition.
As I pointed out (then and in other answers) proving me wrong is really simple and straightforward: show a manuscript dated reliably to the early centuries of the modern era that contains either ‘Jesus Christ’ in any language, or ‘Christian’. Nobody has ever been able to do that.
It is a demonstrable fact - by looking at codex Sinaiticus - how this divine man was originally “Is Chrest”. Further, there is much, reliable archaeology for ‘Chrest’, in these centuries. The religion of the New Testament authors is explicitly Chrestian, not Christian.
This alone tells us how later, Christianity misappropriated Chrestian history: it look the solar cross, the Ptolemaic Chi-Rho (CHR), their rituals and a whole bunch of historical people, and made them Christian.
I do not know for certain when and how Christianity came about. Can anyone tell us when ‘Jesus Christ’ first appears? Nobody has ever answered that and I’ve asked publically (and here) for a long time. Without that answer, I’ve used the best evidences known to me and this is that Christianity was born out of Britain and sold to Charles I, the illiterate Frankish king who became Charlemagne.
This is a series of English who appear to be involved; Boniface, then Alcuin of York.
Alcuin became tutor to Charles I and his family, then set about setting up (Carolingian) monasteries with scriptoria, to which he brought British ‘experts’ to train monks.
If you run through the list of supposed Early-Christian authors and their works, it is vast. I’ve not added up all the claimed manuscripts, but it has to be in the many thousands. The textual tradition has monks in these scriptoria collecting and copying them.
Now here’s the thing. We know of their output because most still exist. Many are online: here is some from just one monastery, St. Gall in Switzerland:
CESG - Codices Electronici Sangallenses: “The purpose of the “Codices Electronici Sangallenses” (Digital Abbey Library of St. Gallen) is to provide access to the medieval codices in the Abbey Library of St. Gallen by creating a virtual library.”
So this is the situation: we have their output but nothing, absolutely zero - of the input, the manuscripts they claim to have copied.
  • They have all disappeared, from all the monasteries.
  • No explanation has been offered as to where they went, what happened to them.
Think about that for a minute. Alcuin had monks collect every ancient manuscript to be found, then they all disappear with no explanation, and then the scriptoria produce their vast output.
One result is that for all the claimed Christian authors - their histories, their anti-heresies, their correspondence - there is nothing to support their historicity.
One example, to make the point. The claimed output of Augustine of Hippo is large:
  • On the Beautiful and the Fitting (LatinDe Pulchra et Apto, 380)
  • On Christian Doctrine (LatinDe doctrina Christiana, 397–426)
  • Confessions (Confessiones, 397–398)
  • The City of God (De civitate Dei, begun c. 413–426)
  • On the Trinity (De trinitate, 400–416)
  • On Free Choice of the Will (De libero arbitrio)
  • Enchiridion (Enchiridion ad Laurentium, seu de fide, spe et caritate)
  • Retractions (Retractationes): At the end of his life (c. 426–428) Augustine revisited his previous works in chronological order. The English translation of the title has led some to assume that at the end of his career, Augustine retreated from his earlier theological positions. In fact, the Latin title literally means 're-treatments" (not "Retractions") and though in this work Augustine suggested what he would have said differently, it provides little in the way of actual "retraction." It does, however, give the reader a rare picture of the development of a writer and his final thoughts.
  • The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram)
  • On the Catechising of the Uninstructed (De catechizandis rudibus)
  • On Faith and the Creed (De fide et symbolo)
  • Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen (De fide rerum invisibilium)
  • On the Profit of Believing (De utilitate credendi)
  • On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens (De symbolo ad catechumenos)
  • On Continence (De continentia)
  • On the teacher (De magistro, a dialogue between Augustine and his son Adeodatus)
  • On the Good of Marriage (De bono coniugali)
  • On Holy Virginity (De sancta virginitate)
  • On the Good of Widowhood (De bono viduitatis)
  • On Lying (De mendacio)
  • To Consentius: Against Lying (Contra mendacium [ad Consentium])
  • To Quodvultdeus, On Heresies (De haeresibus ad Quodvultdeum)
  • On the Work of Monks (De opere monachorum)
  • On Patience (De patientia)
  • On Care to be Had For the Dead (De cura pro mortuis gerenda)
  • On the Morals of the Catholic Church and on the Morals of the Manichaeans(De moribus ecclesiae catholicae et de moribus Manichaeorum)
  • On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans (De duabus animabus [contra Manichaeos])
  • Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean ([Acta] contra Fortunatum [Manichaeum])
  • Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental (Contra epistulam Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti)
  • Reply to Faustus the Manichaean (Contra Faustum [Manichaeum])
  • Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans (De natura boni contra Manichaeos)
  • On Baptism, Against the Donatists (De baptismo [contra Donatistas])
  • The Correction of the Donatists (De correctione Donatistarum)
  • On Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism (De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum)
  • On the Spirit and the Letter (De spiritu et littera)
  • On Nature and Grace (De natura et gratia)
  • On Man's Perfection in Righteousness (De perfectione iustitiae hominis)
  • On the Proceedings of Pelagius (De gestis Pelagii)
  • On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin (De gratia Christi et de peccato originali)
  • On Marriage and Concupiscence (De nuptiis et concupiscientia)
  • On the Nature of the Soul and its Origin (De natura et origine animae)
  • Against Two Letters of the Pelagians (Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum)
  • On Grace and Free Will (De gratia et libero arbitrio)
  • On Rebuke and Grace (De correptione et gratia)
  • On the Predestination of the Saints (De praedestinatione sanctorum)
  • On the Gift of Perseverance (De dono perseverantiae)
  • Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount (De sermone Domini in monte)
  • On the Harmony of the Evangelists (De consensu evangelistarum)
  • Treatises on the Gospel of John (In Iohannis evangelium tractatus)
  • Soliloquies (Soliloquiorum libri duo)
  • Enarrations, or Expositions, on the Psalms (Enarrationes in Psalmos)
  • On the Immortality of the Soul (De immortalitate animae)
  • Answer to the Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta (Contra litteras Petiliani)
  • Against the Academics (Contra Academicos)
  • On eighty-three various questions (De diversis quaestionibus octaginta tribus, 396)
  • Sermons, among which a series on selected lessons of the New Testament Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount
  • Homilies, among which a series on the First Epistle of John
  • On Music (De musica)
  • On Order (De Ordine)
But they are all works of Carolingian monasteries. Go check them if you do not believe me.
Further, go look at the fourth century, when he is supposed to have lived, and you will not find any mark of his existence.
As an archaeologist, I take the scientific approach, which starts with observation. We observe the fourth century and Augustine does not exist there - neither directly, nor indirectly (through mention of him by others).
Could he have existed, but somehow, everything was lost? No, because the monasteries say they had it all, in the eighth century and later. They must claim this, to support their other claim, to have copied it. And yet, there is nothing.
Codex Sinaiticus: “Between the 4th and 12th centuries, seven or more correctors worked on this codex, making it one of the most corrected manuscripts in existence.[60]
We now know that this process continued to at least the twelfth century. That’s four centuries in which the scriptoria were rewriting the Bible and producing the Christian textul tradition. Plenty of time to make it whatever was wanted.
Maybe others have a better understanding of the facts than do I; such would not surprise me. I would be very happy with others writing histories of this, as long as they treat the facts, rather than repeat mythologies and untruths.
My blog here contains many of my answers on this subject and some also contain examples of Chrestian archaeology.

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