Thursday, April 27, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
I thought it might be helpful to share some of my (layman's) notes on the cursus honorum (primarily). How a Roman becomes a senator. Of course, the Senate was the body of men that ruled the Roman republic.
A few preliminaries:
- The context for my notes is the Republican period.
- Rome was a militaristic society and culture (e.g. Romans believed military aptitude meant political aptitude and vice versa, and their highest offices combined political and military roles e.g. a consul or praetor leading legions to battle).
- One gained lifetime admission to the Senate after serving as a magistrate for one year. A magistrate wasn't a judge like we might think today but an elected official. I suppose we'd simply say a politician.
- The Senate originally had 100 members, which kept increasing over time. The Senate was 300 up to Sulla, then 600 shortly before the time of Spartacus, then 900 under Julius Caesar, then over 1000 under Augustus Caesar. However, Augustus Caesar eventually reduced the number to 600.
- Although estimates can vary widely, at its height (i.e. during the Roman Empire) I believe the total population was around 75 million, and the city of Rome around 1 million, with the contemporary world population around 300 million. I've heard (but never verified) that no city in the world ever rivaled the population of Rome until the Industrial Age.
- Order of speaking in the Senate: first, the current consul who called the Senate to meet; then the princeps senatus; then current consuls; then ex-consuls; then current praetors; then ex-praetors; then current aediles; then ex-aediles; then current quaestors; then ex-quaestors. In general the Senate met from sun up till sun down. It would be rare for those below the praetor level to ever speak.
Now the path to the Senate:
- Tribune (military). 24 positions per year. Tribune was often (though not always) the first step for a young man aspiring to the Roman Senate to take.
- Quaestor. 20 positions per year: 14 to provincial governors to serve as their deputies, 2 to consuls, and 4 to Rome's treasury. Quaestors were usually lowly bureaucrats with limited political power and no military power.
- Aedile. 4 positions per year in Rome: 2 plebeian aediles and 2 curule aediles. Their role was public works such as ensuring "temple" upkeep where "temple" included religious and social institutions. For example, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was the Senate house, the Temple of Saturn was the treasury, public baths were like modern shopping malls, etc. Aediles also helped maintain aqueducts and thus the water supplies to Rome, they stored and distributed grain, they maintained roads, among others. However, the most prominent role of the aedile was festivals and holidays such as the gladiatorial games. If done well, aediles could win over the commoners or plebeians. That's what Julius Caesar, for one, did.
- Praetor. 8 positions per year. Praetors were essentially judges. But not merely judges as in our modern conception of judges. Since the Romans united military and political into a single role, praetors had vested in them military powers (e.g. commanding a legion) as well as judicial powers. Imperium.
- Consul. 2 positions per year. Traditionally each consul would alternate between their roles and responsibilities every other month (i.e. "holding fasces"). Consuls had the power to open debate in the Senate, propose laws, veto, call the public assembly, oversee elections, wage war, implement martial law, read or interpret omens. Consuls were the height of Roman political achievement.
- Proconsul (or propraetor). Basically a governor of a Roman province. It was what praetors and consuls usually wished to do after serving as praetors or consuls. Some provinces were more desirable than others. In general due to how lucrative it would be for the proconsul to govern the province. Judea was not a province at this time. It held no promise of wealth. It had too many rabble rousers to control. Its main value was it lay at the crossroads between the eastern trade routes as well as Syria and Egypt, two affluent provinces.
- There were other magistrates or political positions (e.g. censor, tribune of the plebs, pontifex maximus), but they aren't officially part of the cursus honorum, as far as I'm aware.
All this said, I'm no ancient Roman historian or classicist so I'm open to correction.
Excerpted from Colin Hemer's paper "The Name of Paul" (1985):
It is generally recognised that Paul, as a Roman citizen, must have possessed a full Roman name, in fact the tria nomina (three names). 'Paulus' was his cognomen, but his praenomen and nomen are quite unknown to us. When a provincial was enfranchised, as when a slave was freed, he automatically assumed the praenomen and nomen of his patron and transmitted it to his descendants...
According to Acts 22:28 Paul was born a Roman citizen. If his family bore the names of a Roman benefactor, the origin must be sought in a previous generation, presumably in the person of a famous Roman who had favoured Tarsus, and bestowed citizenship on some of its leading citizens. If we cannot explain Paul's citizenship in this way, we can only confess our total ignorance of the circumstances.
The three eminent Romans associated with the East and with Tarsus in particular in the preceding period were Pompey, Caesar and Antony, the two latter especially being linked favourably with Tarsus. There is then the possibility - we can say no more - that Paul might have been Cn. Pompeiu Paulus, C. Julius Paulus or M. Antonius Paulus.
The purpose of this note is to draw attention to an inscription from Naples which illustrates the question of Paul's name and identity at three separate points...
'To the spirits of the dead. L. Antonius Leo, also called Neon, son of Zoilus, by nation a Cilician, a soldier of the praetorian fleet at Misenum, from the century the trireme "Asclepius", lived 27 years, served 9 years. C. Julius Paulus his heir undertook the work [of his burial]'...
Paul was both Hebrew and Roman by birth, and operated under either name (Saul or Paul) according to context. It is a neat example of the 'undesigned coincidences' of Acts and Epistles that Paul's Hebrew name is known only from Acts, and his tribe (Benjamin) only from an acknowledged epistle (Phil. 3:5): he was named after the most famous member of his tribe...
Leo's heir bears exactly the name which may possibly have been Paul's own. If he was Leo's near kinsman he may also have been a Cilician, and Tarsus was the capital and dominant city of Cilicia. The form of his name makes it probable that he or his ancestor was enfranchised by Caesar...
The name 'Paulus' itself was a common cognomen, occurring also in the variants Paullus, Polus and Pollus, and meaning 'small', whether in origin pejorative or affectionate. It may sometimes have been confused with an obsolete rare praenomen, usually spelt 'Paullus', which was occasionally revived as an archaizing fashion, as in the names of Paullus Aemilius Lepidus (consul suffectus in 34 B.C.) or Paullus Fabius Maximus (consul in 11 B.C., proconsul of Asia in 9 B.C.; IGRR 4.438, etc.). In Paul' case, as in that of enfranchised provincials generally, the cognomen will have been his ordinary personal name in the Gentile world, his formal designation by praenomen, nomen, father's praenomen, Roman tribe and cognomen being reserved for official documents and remaining unknown to us.
[The amillennial] approach does not fit the literary movement of Revelation. John pictures the period between Christ’s exaltation and return as the time of Satan’s banishment from heaven to earth, where he deceives the nations and persecutes the saints (Rev 12:1–17). By way of contrast, in 20:1–3 Satan is confined in the abyss, which means that he cannot deceive the nations “anymore” (eti), just as defeat in heaven meant that he had no place there “any longer” (12:8) and Babylon’s fall mean that life was not found there “anymore” (18:21–23). Satan does not deceive anyone during the millennium (20:4–6), but deception resumes afterwards (20:7–8; Mounce; Osborne). If the vision of Satan persecuting the faithful in 12:1–17 shows the present character of earthly life, the vision of Satan’s binding assures people that the present situation is not the final one. Evil will be defeated in ways that are not now evident (Boring; Giesen; Murphy) [Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 785.]
In the Incarnation–at least during his state of humiliation–the Logos allowed only those facets of his person to be part of Christ's waking consciousness which were compatible with typical human experience, while the bulk of his knowledge and other cognitive perfections like an iceberg beneath the water's surface, lay submerged in his subconsciousness (ibid. 611).
…the Logos contained perfect human personhood archetypically in his own nature. The result was that in assuming a hominid body the Logos brought to Christ's animal nature just those properties that would serve to make it a complete human nature…Such an interpretation of the Incarnation draws strong support from the doctrine of man created in the image of God…in being persons, [humans] uniquely reflect God's nature. God himself is personal, and inasmuch as we are persons we resemble him. Thus God already possesses the properties sufficient for human personhood even prior to the Incarnation, lacking only corporality. The Logos already possessed in his reincarnate state all the properties necessary for being a human self (ibid. 608-09).
On a May 28, 1999 BBC radio program, Richard Wiseman remarked that most criticism of the Enfield case boils down to saying that the girls in the home where the poltergeist activity occurred, Janet and Margaret Hodgson, were playing tricks. (Start listening around 11:30 in the audio here.) In the time since Wiseman made those comments, Enfield skepticism hasn't changed much. For some recent examples of skeptics attributing the phenomena to cheating by the Hodgson girls, see here, here, and here.
There were five people in the Hodgson family, a mother, Peggy, and her four children: Margaret (age 13), Janet (age 11), Johnny (age 10), and Billy (age 7). Why do skeptics focus on the two girls?
Billy was too young, doesn't seem to have been the sort of person who would do what skeptics are alleging, and was never caught faking anything, as far as I know. Johnny was a few years older, but he also doesn't seem like somebody who would have done the faking in question, he was often away at boarding school when the events occurred, I don't think he was ever caught playing any tricks, and he died of cancer in 1981 without ever renouncing the family's claims about what they experienced. Peggy, the mother, died in 2003, and she never retracted her claims about the poltergeist. (You can watch a video of Maurice Grosse interviewing Peggy and Margaret Hodgson several years before Peggy's death here.) In one of the documentaries I linked in my first post, the SPR's Mary Rose Barrington refers to how impressed she was by Peggy (see here until 1:04:50). Guy Playfair writes:
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Monday, April 24, 2017
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the beginning of the case, so it's getting additional attention this year because of that. MonsterTalk, a podcast of Skeptic magazine, recently ran a two-part series on the poltergeist. The first part is an interview with Guy Playfair, one of the chief investigators of the case, and the second part looks at the case more broadly from a skeptical perspective.
What I want to do in this post is recommend some resources and discuss some of the evidence pertaining to the case. In the posts that follow, I'll interact with some skeptical attempts to explain what happened. The first few of those posts will address skepticism in general. The four posts that follow will each address an individual skeptic: Chris French, Deborah Hyde, Joe Nickell, and Anita Gregory. I expect to be posting one segment in the series every two days.
The principles involved in analyzing the Enfield case are applicable to other cases as well. And it's useful to see how skeptics handle a case that's so recent and so well evidenced, involving so many events and so many witnesses.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
In the much-debated statement "the Father is greater than I" (14:28) the reference is probably to the Son's dependence on the Father's giving, not to the Son's obedience to the Father, which is not relevant to the context. The use of the term "subordination", which implies a hierarchy of rank, may therefore not be very helpful. The Johannine account implies not that the Son ranks below the Father, but that the Son owes everything to the Father. Since everything is given, there is both asymmetry (14:28) and complete commonality (16:15; 17:10). “The Trinity and the Gospel of John,” in The Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance, ed. by Brandon D. Crowe and Carl R. Trueman (London: Inter-Varsity Press [Apollos] 2016), 110.
We should be careful to follow the outlines of the way the Gospel actually depicts the Father-Son relationship, which does not conform in every respect to the relationship of human fathers and sons in the ancient world. A key difference is the fact that both Father and Son are eternal. In a restricted sense the Son's position resembles that of a son who has inherited his father's status and estate at the latter's death. Ibid. 110n55.
It seems you’re not familiar with my proposed neo-Apollinarian Christology in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. It was crafted precisely because I think the usual model tends to Nestorianism for the reasons you mention. On the traditional model the human soul of Christ is not a person, which I find baffling. On my model the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the soul of Jesus Christ. By taking on a human body the Logos completed the human nature of Christ, making him a body/soul composite. So Christ has two complete natures, divine and human.
1. TAGConsidered in isolation, even though it's associated with Van Tilian apologetics, and sponsored by Van Tilian apologetics, as if that's a distinctive of Van Tilian apologetics, there's no reason why TAG couldn't be just one among a range of a priori and a posteriori theistic proofs. No reason, at this discrete level, that it couldn't be incorporated into classical apologetics or figure in a cumulative case approach.2. The necessity of TAGIf, however, we take a step back and ask why TAG is said to be necessary, or why transcendental arguments generally are important or indispensable, then at that underlying level it's not just one of many theistic proofs. Rather, Van Til's contention is that we naturally take many fundamental truths for granted that are groundless unless God exists. And not mere theism, but Reformed theism.On that broader and deeper level, the claim is that TAG reflects a distinctive, all-embracing, and unifying orientation regarding the justification of knowledge. Without that theistic grounding, global skepticism looms large. Even if TAG is compatible with classical theism, or a commutative case metrology, the rationale for TAG is more foundational. As the IEP entry puts it, "Transcendental arguments are partly non-empirical, often anti-skeptical arguments focusing on necessary enabling conditions either of coherent experience or the possession or employment of some kind of knowledge or cognitive ability, where the opponent is not in a position to question the fact of this experience, knowledge, or cognitive ability, and where the revealed preconditions include what the opponent questions. Such arguments take as a premise some obvious fact about our mental life—such as some aspect of our knowledge, our experience, our beliefs, or our cognitive abilities—and add a claim that some other state of affairs is a necessary condition of the first one."On this view, even if there's nothing distinctively presuppositional about TAG, there is something distinctive about transcendental theism.3. Reductio ad absurdumIn addition, Van Til had a two-prong strategy for apologetic dialogue or analysis: assume their viewpoint for the sake of argument and take it to a logical extreme; have them assume the Christian (i.e. Reformed) viewpoint for the sake of argument and take it to a logical extreme. Compare and contrast their respective explanatory power or reductionism. A reductio ad absurdum or argument ad impossibile.(3) is related to (2). As a Calvinist, Van Til thought that for experience to be coherent, everything must happen for a reason. Every event must be coordinated in a part/whole, means/ends relation, according to a wise and benevolent master plan for the world (predestination, meticulous providence). By contrast, theological indeterminism leads to loss of ultimate coherence. Uncontrolled, uncoordinated events that are individually pointless, going nowhere.4. Divine incomprehensibilityDue to his interpretation of divine incomprehensibility, Van Til didn't think it was possible to prove God directly. His intuition seems to be that if God is paradoxical, then he defies straightforward proof.
As standardly conceived, transcendental arguments are taken to be distinctive in involving a certain sort of claim, namely that X is a necessary condition for the possibility of Y—where then, given that Y is the case, it logically follows that X must be the case too. Moreover, because these arguments are generally used to respond to skeptics who take our knowledge claims to be problematic, the Y in question is then normally taken to be some fact about us or our mental life which the skeptic can be expected to accept without question (e.g., that we have experiences, or make certain judgements, or perform certain actions, or have certain capacities, and so on), where X is then something the skeptic doubts or denies (e.g., the existence of the external world, or of the necessary causal relation between events, or of other minds, or the force of moral reasons).