Roman Historians and Easter Tradition

In this weekend episode, Victor Davis Hanson and cohost Sami Winc look at a few news stories, talk about historians of the Roman era, and the Christian and pagan traditions of Easter.

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27 thoughts on “Roman Historians and Easter Tradition”

  1. Meta already gave $100M to one state for democrats, Michigan I believe. The site will monitor and restrict conservative content while loosely claiming to do so on the left content.

    Westinghouse was at the forefront on the miniaturization of nuclear, that is until they let China obtain the technology. What the US does not give away, China steals.

  2. Calculation of the date of Easter:
    The simple standard definition of Easter is that it is the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. If the full Moon falls on a Sunday then Easter is the next Sunday. (Wikipedia)

    If the full Moon occurs the day before the equinox, then the first full moon is 27 days later, and if that happens to be a Sunday, Easter will be 34 days after the equinox. If the full moon is the equinox and it happens to be a Saturday, the next day will be Easter.

  3. Thank you, professor, for your fascinating discussion of Roman historians! Highly instructive!

    On your discussion of Easter:
    1. For Christians, the Resurrection was an actual historical event which demonstrates the divinity of Jesus Christ.
    2. In early Christianity, there was no concept (at least not as far as I am aware of except perhaps in certain heretical sects) of the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. This is a Protestant notion that didn’t enter into mainstream Western Christianity until after Luther.
    3. In both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, in contrast to Protestantism, salvation is more of a process rather than an event.
    4. The earliest depictions of Jesus (in the catacombs, for example) are based on classical models. The realistic representation of Jesus stems from the image on the Shroud of Turin.
    5. There are a lot of controversial books on Jesus. They all share an effort to deny the divinity of Christ. tbc.

    1. Romans 3:21-26

      But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law,
      although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–
      the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
      For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
      and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
      who God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith.
      This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    2. Romans 4:23-25

      But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

    3. Romans 5:1, 6-9

      Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for in in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

    4. Titus 3:4,5

      But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

    5. Romans 10:9-11

      Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

    6. Mark 10:45
      “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

      John 1:12
      But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

      Ephesians 2:8,9
      For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.

    7. Romans 5:10,11

      For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
      much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
      More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
      through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    8. The Scriptures indicate that you must trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord which means believing in his suffering and death on the cross as a payment for your sin and the justice that you owe God. This trust acknowledges that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day just as he foretold to give you a righteousness that you did not earn and a new ability to live for God.

      Trusting Christ as your personal Savior and Lord expresses a desire to be reconciled to God, that is, to have a right relationship with him. A reconciled relationship is one in which you are no longer under God’s judgment and are willing to live for Christ as the Lord of your life. Christ’s lordship is expressed in obedience to his will and repentance from sin.

    9. The Bible indicates that salvation from God’s justice is not a process but a certainty that occurs when one has faith in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord.

      The past tense of the verbs used in the scriptures given indicate that salvation from God’s judgment has occurred without believers working for it.

      Jesus Christ’s death is a payment made on behalf of sinners to satisfy God’s justice for sin. There is no work of man that he can do to escape the penalty of sin. Man must turn to Christ as his Savior and Lord.

      Romans 8: 33,34
      Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised– who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

  4. 6. The Easter Egg tradition comes from an ancient tradition that Mary Magdalene, when challenged by the Roman, authorities, held up an egg and said that if Jesus rose from the dead the egg would turn red, and it miraculously did turn red. In her icons, she is often shown holding a red egg. In Orthodoxy, at the Easter Vigil, we are given eggs dyed red to commemorate that event. The fertility/renewal aspect is more symbolized by the rabbit — i.e. the Easter Bunny.
    7. The date of Easter: First Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. The date of Easter is usually not the same for western and Orthodox Christians as a different calendar is used; also Orthodox Easter cannot fall on the same day as Jewish Passover.
    8. There were many complex causes of the East-West Schism, including linguistic and cultural differences, but the main cause was Rome’s decision to change the Niceness Creed by addition of the “filioque” (“and the Son”) to the clause pertaining to the procession of the Holy Spirit, in addition to Rome’s insistence that such a change could be made autocratically by the Pope (the Patriarch of Rome). The divergence in the dates of celebration did not take place until the institution of the reform of the calendar in 1582. The Orthodox retained the Julian Calendar.

  5. Victor, Victor, please never mention 3 mile island and Chernobyl in the same sentence, or the same paragraph, or the same conversation again. That falls into the typical popular ignorant narrative that nuclear energy is untrustworthy. Believe me. It is dangerous. But Chernobyl and Fukushima were absolute worldwide disasters. Looking at the “elephants foot“ melted pile of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl for 10 to 20 seconds was a death sentence. The levels of radiation at those disasters was unimaginable. I am a radiologist and in my radiation biology classes in order to be certified as a diagnostic radiologist, in the 1980s, my physic professor told us the relative dose released at 3 mile island compared to Chernobyl. The relative dose of the microscopic amounts of radiation, which were released from 3 mile island gave the immediate vicinity and approximate 300 milliremdose of radiation. This is approximately equal to that of an x-ray of the abdomen. Which is nothing. Chernobyl on the other hand was a worldwide disaster. Please be careful when you compare these two events. your language this way help promulgate the misconception.

  6. Charles Carroll

    Thank you for your fascinating description of Roman historians.
    Vis-a-vis Christian beliefs, many believe that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather selfishness; me want or me no want to have to work/earn. As we go through life, we either become more or less selfish. Purgatory is the period after death in which the soul is separated from God until it dissipates its selfishness.

  7. Anthony Patrick Mull

    The Shroud of Turin is a is the most studied archeological object in the world and, so far, honest scientific studies have concluded that the image on it was created by no known technology. All evidence points to the Shroud as being a 3-D photograph of Christ at the moment of His Resurrection, created on non-photographic material by a 6-8 billion watt blast of laser light for
    1/40 billionth of a second. Much more evidence is available on, and at

    Efforts that I have seen which attempt to refute the above claim ignore, or deny, known facts,
    and are so obviously biased as to be almost laughable.

  8. Victor and Sami: Regarding the importance of the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ –

    Jesus foretold his resurrection, and its fulfillment gives him credibility that he is more than a moral teacher. Without his resurrection he is mistaken or a liar and could not be God or a good teacher.

    Mark 10:32-34 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.

  9. Victor and Sami: Regarding the purpose of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead –

    Jesus’ resurrection from the dead shows himself to be God in human flesh.

    Romans 1:1-4 …the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

  10. Victor and Sami: Regarding the significance of Jesus rising from the dead –

    Jesus’ resurrection validates that he will judge mankind for their sin.

    Acts 17:30,31 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

  11. Victor and Sami: Regarding the crucial importance of Christ rising from the dead –

    Jesus’ resurrection is crucial to the truthfulness and validity of Christianity.

    1 Corinthians 15: 14-19 And if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, who he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

  12. Victor and Sami: Regarding the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the grave –

    Believing in Jesus’ resurrection is vital to having a faith that saves men from sin.

    Romans 10:9 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

  13. Victor and Sami: Regarding the necessity of Jesus rising from the dead –

    Jesus’ resurrection enables God to declare men righteous before him.

    Romans 4:22-25 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

    i.e. Jesus’ death pays the penalty for believers’ sin but his resurrection from the dead allows God to justify them, that is to declare them righteous.

  14. Sami and Victor: Regarding non-Christian references to the historicity of Jesus the Christ –

    Not much of any types of records from Palestine have survived the millennia so there is also an absence of material pertaining to Jesus.

    Here are a few references to Christ –

    1. Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian born in A.D. 52-54, wrote of Christ who was put to death by Pontius Pilate.

    2. Lucian of Samosata, a satirist of the second century, referred to a man who was crucified in Palestine and introduced a new cult into the world and that crucified sophist was worshipped.

    3. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian born in A.D. 37, wrote in the early second century mentioning Christ and James the brother of Jesus – “the so-called Christ.”

    4. Suetonius, a Roman historian born in A.D. 120, wrote of Chrestus, an alternative spelling of Christus.

    5. Plinius Secundus, governor of Bithynia, wrote in A.D. 112 and referenced Christians and Christ.

    6. Thallus, a Samaritan historian, wrote in A.D. 52 and was cited by later writers about the darkness that fell upon the land during Jesus’ crucifixion.

    7. Plegon, a 1st century historian, wrote about the darkness during Jesus’ crucifixion and was referenced by later writers.

    8. Mara Bar-Serapion, wrote a letter after A.D. 73 to his son and mentions Christ the Jewish king whom was executed.

    9. Baraia, a Jewish Rabbis, mentions Yeshua of Nazareth who was hanged on the eve of Passover.

    Josh McDowell’s book, “A Ready Defense.”

  15. Sami and Victor: Regarding the open and easily contestable assertion of Christ’s rising from the dead –

    1 Corinthians 15:3-9 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. The he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

  16. Victor and Sami:

    1. Historians write from second-hand accounts.

    2. The gospel writers wrote from first-hand accounts, they offer eye-witness testimony.

    3. The gospel accounts pass the requirements for historical and judicial evidence.

    4. Many books have been written to evaluate the evidence of the gospel accounts and have been found reliable as evidence.

    5. The apostles preached the resurrection of Christ and would not gain a following if their claims were false.

    6. The gospel writers wrote of the resurrection of Christ soon after its occurrence and could be scrutinized and verified by people who were alive at the time. Their message would not gain a following if false.

    7. Christianity is based upon a historical event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

    1. From what is seen from the opening paragraph of Luke’s gospel, he wrote as a historian who followed Jesus closely and compiled a narrative. It seems that his work is not a first-hand account but I’m wondering if he ever inserted his own first-hand experience.

      Luke 1:1-4

      Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

  17. Victor and Sami: Regarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus the Christ –

    8. The resurrection could have been disproven at its supposed occurrence just by producing the body but the authorities, both Jewish and Roman did not produce a body to silence this claim.

    9. The authorities were anticipating claims of a resurrection, so they made arrangements with Pilate, the secular authority, to secured Jesus’ tomb in advance of the third day with an armed Roman guard.

    10. After Jesus’ resurrection, the authorities could have dispelled any claims of its occurrence by simply showing his body to the public. Instead, they could not produce the body and instead claimed that the disciples stole the body.

    11. The burial tomb of Jesus was under guard by Roman soldiers, the body was placed in a tomb with a heavy boulder place to secure it, the tomb was sealed with a seal that was not to be tampered with. The disciples would not be able to steal the body under these conditions.

    12. The Bible reports that the Roman soldiers who guarded Jesus’ tomb were kept safe from punishment by the religious authorities who would protect them from the Roman punishment to fail to secure the tomb. The soldiers were paid by the Jewish officials to say that the disciples stole his body.

    13. Eyewitness testimony followed Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. Jesus the Christ will come back to earth by descending from heaven and he will be visible to all.

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