He is the only one who really understands his mind and purpose. We have now to examine the evidential value of the passage, supposing it to be genuine, and apart from all that we have said of its historical value. Those who do not find this interpretation of Annals, xv, 44, plausible have still to solve the problem whether the Chrestians or Christians of the Roman historian were really Christians in our meaning of the word or were distinct from them.  The Christians, who called themselves Jessaeans, or Nazoraeans, the Elect, the Saints, the Faithful, etc., were universally regarded as Jews. top.  How, then, could the Roman Clemens about the end of the first century connect the death of the two apostles with the Neronian persecution? “In order to put an end to the trouble, Nero laid the blame on those whom, hateful for their crimes, the people called Christians.” However, Andresen has made a fresh study of the Tacitus manuscript, and shown that the word was at first “Chrestianos,” and was later altered to “Christianos”; whereas it is written “Christus,” not “Chrestus.” “Now it is quite clear,” says Harnack, “Tacitus says that the people call the sect Chrestiani; he, however—relying on more accurate knowledge, as Plinius has already written ‘Christiani’—quietly corrects the name, and rightly speaks of the author of the name as Christ.”, The expression “Chrestiani” is usually regarded as a popular version of “Christiani” (compare Vergil and Virgil), just as, on this account, Suetonius is supposed to have written Chrestus instead of Christus. Von Soden also translates it: “All who openly confessed Christianity were at once arrested,” etc. top. In regard to the question of the origin of the Christian religion and the historicity of Jesus it has almost entirely abdicated its function, and is actually pleased that it need not deal with this delicate theme, as Seeck candidly admits when he says in his Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (iii, 1900): “We have no intention of depicting the human personality of Jesus and telling the story of his life, since these problems are, in the present state of tradition, perhaps insoluble, but at all events not yet solved.
Perhaps he overstated the case a little, for he also says, 'Only Luke is with me.' The composition of'Acts of Martyrs' for commemoration in church seems to have begun in Palestine; in Jerusalem even, since Stephen and James the Just are our oldest specimens. (c) The Possibility of Various Interpretations of “Annals” xv, 44.—So much as to the possible spuriousness of Annals, xv, 44. The Jews and the Romans were
xvi) of a chastisement of the Christians by the emperor as a class of men full of a new and criminal superstition (genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae)? This supposed “purity of the text of Tacitus as shown by the oldest manuscripts” exists only in the imagination of Gibbon and those who follow him. He threw himself with great energy into the organization of relief and opened his splendid gardens on the Vatican Hill to the thousands of homeless citizens; and in order to find victims to placate the people, and amusements to occupy their attention, he laid the blame for the fire on the Christians. It is very different with the evidence of Tacitus.
Annas II was the last of them. It would be strange if a monastic copyist of Tacitus, occupied with his work for months, if not for years, could not so far catch his style as to be able to write these twenty or twenty-five lines in the manner of Tacitus. He lost no time in marrying Poppaea, the Jewish wife of M. Salvius Otho, a lady who is described by Josephus as devout.
Had he been speaking of the Brahmans, he would have said, in the same way, that they derived their name from a certain Brahma, who had lived in India, as there was a legend about him; yet Brahma would not on that account have lived as a man, as Brahma is merely the name of one of the three manifestations of the personified god-head. It is not even stated that the apostles named met with a violent death on account of their faith, as the word “martyresas” (“after rendering his testimony”) need not by any means be understood to mean a testimony of blood, because the word “martyr” originally means only a witness to the truth of the Christian faith in the general sense, and is equivalent to “confessor,” and was only later applied to those who sealed their faith by a violent death. We may turn to the Epistle itself, and see what it says as the persecution becomes more intense. The high priest Ananias [as the name now appears in the text] advanced every day in popularity, and won the favour and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner, and ingratiated himself with the (new) high priest and with Albinus [the new procurator] by making them gifts.
We might therefore regard the name “Chrestiani” as equivalent to “the clean brethren,” just as it is customary to call the scum of Paris the “Apaches.”, We know from history what an evil repute the Egyptian people, which consisted mainly of Alexandrian elements, had at Rome.
Possibly there is question of some popular phrase used in Nero's time which Tacitus himself did not understand; possibly, however, the sentence in which Christus is said to have been the author of the name of Christians and the whole reference to Judaea do not come from the pen of Tacitus at all, but are due to a later Christian, who identified the Chrestians of Tacitus with the Christians; and thus the whole Neronian persecution and the supposed confirmation of the historicity of Christ by the Roman historian are based upon a monstrous misunderstanding.
by them, or later, with the consent of the whole church, by other men in high
There is no sign of optimism about the outcome. There was a Roman of high rank, who was 'prefect of the city' at this time. Then the author of the letters of Seneca to Paul enlarged the legend in its primitive form, brought it into agreement with the ideas of this time, and gave it a political turn. He then continues: “But neither the aid of man, nor the liberality of the prince, nor the propitiations of the gods, succeeded in destroying the belief that the fire had been purposely lit. It is said, however, that Tacitus, “on account of the difficulty of his style and his whole attitude, was not generally read by Christians,” so that his text is, “in the general opinion of experts, the freest from corruption of all the ancient writings.” So at least von Soden assures us (p. 11). We have first the “multitudo ingens” of the Christians. In either case, the so-called letter of Clemens is no evidence of the fact of a considerable persecution of the Christians under Nero. Finally a clever forger (Poggio?) Josephus also says this in his Antiquities.
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