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A. P. J. Hendriks, J. van Friesland, G. Janssen & P. Pierik, “Scientific Imagination” (rebuttal of A. van Hooff “Was Jezus inderdaad Caesar?

”), in: De Academische Boekengids (“Ingezonden Brieven”), Vol. 69, July 2008; also available online:

Revised translation from Dutch by Maria Janna (with edits; in defense of Francesco Carotta, Jesus was Caesar – On the Julian Origins of Christianity, Kirchzarten, 1988-1999 / München, 1999 / Soesterberg, 2005) See also on scribd Fulvius De Boer, Criticism of A. van Hooff, “Was Jesus Really Caesar?”

The previous ABG contained Anton van Hooff’s critique of Carotta’s theory on the Roman origin of Christianity. Van Hooff’s article consists of ad hominem attacks, intertwined with arguments by authority and strewn with association fallacies. This is frequently applied in the yellow press and some journalists’ columns, and likewise his article lacks the strength of a scientific argument. His criticism, which was meant to be substantive, is in reality a succession of details that he deduced out of context, from lapses and wrong attributions. Moreover, van Hooff attacks with nonsense: Among other things he alleges that the characteristics of Carotta’s work are those of pseudoscientists, who would supposedly be distinguished by striving for recognition of their insights and invoking as many arguments for this goal. Both features are however also characteristic of nonpseudoscientists abound. We will now discuss two of van Hooff’s many blunders:
“Carotta even creates a crucifix of Caesar.”1

This is incorrect. What actually matters here is the display of a wax figure of the assassinated Caesar at the culminating moment of his funeral, showing all his wounds. As a result the suppressed anger of the
1. van Hooff: “Carotta schept zelfs een crucifix van Caesar.”

people rose in a massive insurrection. Suetonius writes that there was a cruciform tropaeum [“victory sign”, “trophy”] at the head of the bier. Appianus writes that Caesar’s wax figure was erected in an upright position at exactly the same spot. Only in this way the whole crowd was able to see the full body with all the inflicted wounds.
“None of Carotta's hundreds of arguments are good, and a thousand times zero is also zero.”2

Carotta simply identifies the accordances between two datasets. Therefore it doesn’t concern multiplication but statistics. What’s in fact important is the number of congruences, such as resembling names and sayings. But there is more. If one dataset contains certain relationships between elements, and if those relationships are also found between corresponding elements in the synoptical dataset, every statistician will surely get an earful of Carotta’s approach. One of countless examples: The relations between the divine Christ and His competitor John the Baptist in one narrative have an equivalent in the other narrative, namely the competition between the divine Caesar and Pompey the Great. In the same vein Carotta designates nine additional equivalents. And as John is decapitated and his head is presented to a putative client at a royal court, so was the fate of Pompey, who was decapitated at the Egyptian royal court under very similar circumstances. It’s not difficult to ridicule by extracting single arguments from a contextual similarity scheme, as criticaster Van Hooff has been doing. More effort, scientific imagination and astuteness are required to penetrate and understand the overall structural system of parallels.

Nota Bene (A. P. J. Hendriks)3: ABG’s Editor in Chief Shirley Haasnoot refused to print the integral version of the article with reference to its length. This refusal is a beautiful example of arbitrariness, since a letter to the editor in ABG Vol. 67, which had the same length, was indeed printed, a letter however, in which three authors defended their religious belief and convictions.

2. v. H.: “Geen enkel van Carotta’s honderden argumenten deugt, en ook duizend maal nul is nul.” 3. Taken from the unedited version of the original Dutch article, available online here:

Nota Bene (Maria Janna): By editing out the passages from the article, Shirley Haasnoot and ABG obscured the fact that Anton van Hooff is a high school teacher, not a classicist professor at a university. The abridgment also deleted the authors’ several references to van Hooff’s tendency to “poison the well” and his “intolerable” ad hominem attacks, which in principle has all been well documented, but not to the readers of ABG. What’s now also missing from the final version of the article is (a) the reference not only to van Hooff’s inaptitude, but also to his anachronistic views, which don’t accord to the communis opinio in historical sciences, e.g. on Tacitus, Annales 15.44, (b) a slightly more detailed description of Caesar’s funeral,4 (c) the not so well-known fact that Caesar was pontifex maximus of Rome, and most notibly (d) a large number of relevant scientific congruences between Pompeius Magnus and John the Baptist— more than the alleged nine equivalents, by the way!—, while retaining only the lurid example of both men’s decapitation at the end of the article. Therefore a direct and admissible criticism of van Hooff’s article, namely of his unfounded rejection of the relationship between the pointed Crux hasta of John and the Neptunian trident of Pompey, has been banished in the course of Shirley Haasnoot’s (arbitrary?) censorship. ABG: The Scientific Yellow Press? ABG: “academic”? Really?

4. This omission actually complicates the readers’ understanding that the tropaea displayed during Caesar’s funeral (including of course the tropaeum with Caesar’s effigy affixed to it), were in fact cruciform, which has incited van Hooff to retort once more that the cross-shape of the tropaeum is not mentioned as “cruciform” in any of the historical sources. While this remark by van Hooff concerning the written sources is correct, he disregards that Carotta, based on a numismatic analysis, has conclusively shown that the tropaea in those times, and especially those of Caesar, were cross-shaped. Furthermore, judging from reliefs and archaeological finds, the same can be said for Augustan tropaea and the great majority of Roman trophies that were utilized to display spoils of war. (The early Greek tropaion, like the archaic Roman tropaeum, was in many cases only a pole, whereas in imperial times the large Roman victory monuments built of stone were also called tropaea. But all of these are not to be confused with the tropaea of Caesar.)

About the authors A. P. J. Hendriks is reviewer5 and one of the translators6 of Carotta’s work. He is the author of the book Rouw en Razernij om Caesar (Aspekt, Utrecht/Soesterberg, 2008).7 J. van Friesland is a journalist and filmmaker. He worked as director of programming for Buitenhof (Nederland 1). He is the director and one of the producers of The Gospel of Caesar (Het Evangelie van Caesar; 2007/2008),8 a documentary feature film on Carotta’s research.9 Mr. G. Janssen is a classicist. He is translator and editor of works by Plutarch and other classical authors and historians.10 Dr. P. Pierik is a historian and editor of Uitgeverij Aspekt.11 He is a publisher of works in historical sciences, incl. those by Carotta and Hendriks.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10. 11.

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