On the "Roman Piso" Theory

Many years back when I used to pick up copies of The Humanist for entertainment, I recall seeing a small advertisement among the back-matter ads that claimed to provide undeniable, irrefutable proof that Josephus had authored the NT. The offerer was the "Abelard Reuchlin Foundation." Well, these fellows are still around.

It would be an overstatement to say that no one takes this group -- whose overall thesis is that the NT was authored by members of an aristocratic Roman family to keep slaves under control and submissive -- seriously. In fact I can find only one writer who has even bothered to address their claims in any detail, and that ironically enough was racist Christ-myther Revilo P. Oliver. All Oliver did was address a couple of technical claims they made (apparently their thesis ignores that the Romans used very few of what we would call "first names"); as for the rest, he didn't consider it worth his time.

What few other challenges to these ideas I have found have been to merely describe the theory in one word or less as nonsense. I also found a message board, with a message from a member of a Classics Department at Calvin College, which said that he had not looked at the Piso site on angelfire.com, but did say:

...I often use "angelfire.com" sites to illustrate to my students the danger and indeed the absurdity of using websites indiscriminately when they write their term papers. Some of the pages there are real doozies.

And another classics scholar from Penn said:

There's been a lively run of this on the sci.classics newsgroup. The short form of this is that the Piso family is responsible for all secular and sacred Greco-Roman-Christian history, all part of a vast goof performed by them on unsuspecting modern scholars. It reads like a huge collaborative parody of Leo Strauss composed by Borges, Nabokov, and Eco, all under the influence of something they got from Hunter Thompson.

That's about as seriously as the scholars seem to take it. Skeptics of a more rational bent may also find this analysis by a Skeptic interesting. Their summary: "This is one of the most obviously laughable 'theories' I have seen on the web."

Well, that's enough generality. Shall we back that up with particulars? Here are thematic statements from one favoring site:

We Jews and Church Leaders have known since the beginning of Christianity that it was synthesized by the Roman Piso family for the purpose of maintaining control over the masses and to placate slaves. And, this is why we Jews are the "Chosen People" and why we have endured so much for so many years; we are witnesses to the lie.
The New Testament, the Church, and Christianity, were all the creation of the Calpurnius Piso (pronounced Peso w/ long "E") family (a), who were Roman aristocrats. The New Testament and all the characters in it--Jesus, all the Josephs, all the Marys, all the disciples, apostles, Paul, and John the Baptist--are all fictional.
Judaism's ethics and morality were incompatible with the hallowed Roman institution of slavery on which the aristocracy fed, lived and ruled. They feared that Judaism would become the chief religion of the empire...Repeatedly, religious-minded Judaean zealots were staging insurrections against the Herodian rulers of Judaea who were Piso's wife's relations. Piso wished to strengthen his wife's family's control of the Judaeans. The Pisos searched for a solution to the two problems. They found it in the Jewish holy books, which were the foundation both for the rapid spread of the religion and for the zealot's refusal to be governed by Rome's puppets. The Pisos mocked, but marveled at, the Jewish belief in their holy books. Therefore, they felt a new "Jewish" book would be the ideal method to pacify the Judaeans and strengthen their in-laws' control of the country.

That's actually enough for most people to dismiss these theorists out of hand, but for completeness we'd like to put together a miscellany of claims from this group and check them out. The following claims are derived from various websites supporting this theory. Let's start with a foundational claim from these folks:

The member of the Piso family who started it all was Arrius Calpurnius Piso. He was the Roman general who captured the city of Jerusalem for Rome in 66 CE (Common Era), and who, collaborating with Titus (a relative) destroyed the temple there in 70 CE. In fact, both Zela (religious center of Pontus) and Jerusalem were the sites of temples that were destroyed: Julius Caesar destroyed the one in Zela in 47 BCE.

From here is is noted that this "Arrius" is none other than Flavius Josephus himself, and it goes from there. But let's pause for a moment, shall we? It seems rather curious that a Net search of the name "Arrius Calpurnius Piso" turns up nothing but websites that promote or support this theory. The name turns up nowhere on any site dedicated to Roman history, Latin studies, or anywhere having to do with serious scholarship. This is fairly telling, because the existence of this fellow seems to be a root for many facets of this theory:

Revelation 1:8 says "I am the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." The name Arrius Calpurnius Piso begins with Alpha and ends with Omega. Could this be another way of Jesus (the Lord) saying "I am Arrius Piso."? A general rule is that you can substitute "Arrius Piso" wherever the "Lord" is referred to in the NT.
Revelation 13:18 says "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." The number is 600+(3*20)+6, or 666. The "man" is both Jesus Christ and Arrius Calpurnius Piso! Here's why: The number was expressed as Greek characters in the Greek text of the New Testament. Ancient Greek had no "cypher" numbers (0-9) as we have today. Instead, numbers were expressed using characters from the Greek alphabet. The Ancient Greek Numbers that were used to express the number 666 were Chi Xi Stigma. Chi stands for 600, Xi for 60 and Stigma for 6. Chi historically stood for "Christ", both because of the sound of it, and because it appeared as a Greek cross. Could the numbers 600 and 66, put together, mean "Christ is Arrius Piso."?
Is it an accident that the initials JC stand for Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar? Is it an accident that the name given to Jerusalem by Arrius Piso in 66 CE was Jupiter Capitolanum? Another JC.

Another promoting site says, "...Vitellius took control over the empire as emperor. He was killed soon afterwards, by Arrius Calpurnius Piso."

Really? Not according to Suetonius, who in The Twelve Caesars records that Vitellius was killed by a group of soldiers who performed various atrocities on him before throwing his body in the Tiber. No "Arrius" makes as much as a bow.

This "Arrius" is also said to have to have headed Roman forces, and along with Titus, "layed seige upon the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E." Yet Josephus makes no mention of such an Arrius (though we'd guess that's because he was Arrius and was trying to hide it?). We'd like the reader to note that there is no cite or source given for this information, which is apparently typical for this consortium. People are invented from this Piso family based on no more than a whim and perhaps a presumption of an embedded code in the NT and other documents. To put it simply, there is no evidence outside the theory that "Arrius Piso" actually existed.

Here's another one of those types of claims:

Around the end of the reign of Hadrian (after 135 CE) Julius Calpurnius Piso, the son of Arrius Piso, made a big mistake. He had just conquered the Jews at Masada, after which the Jews scattered to all corners of the earth. This was the infamous Diaspora. It was a stunning (if brutal) victory, and Julius wanted to make the most of it. He asked Hadrian to make his son successor to the Emperor, knowing full well that if Hadrian refused, Julius would be obliged to commit suicide. Hadrian refused.

There's quite the confusion here, since Masada was a last stand for the Jews in 73 AD, not in the time of Hadrian, and the "Diaspora" refers to Jews scattered among the nations even long before 70 AD. Not that it matters, because this "Julius" seems to be another invention of the theory. There was indeed a "Julius Piso" who was mentioned in a letter of Pliny but he had nothing to do with the Jewish War. The Roman commander at Masada was named Silva (Josephus, War 7.8). We are told that this Julius also wrote the book of Revelation. Like Arrius, though, he is a phantom.

Also part of this package: numerology.

[Julius] Caesar was an in-law of the Piso family. His wife, Calpurnia, was a Piso! He had married her to cement an alliance with Pontus. When he went from the bed of Cleopatra to Pontus in 47 he betrayed that alliance. It was perceived by the Pisos as the act of a traitor, and they swore their revenge.
Three years later, in 44 BCE, on the 15th day of the 3rd month, Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by conspirators who included Piso family members. The assassination of Julius Caesar is full of clues. His given name, Julius, was written IVLIV in the Latin of his day. Make note of the fact that the number 4 is IV in Roman numerals. Thus the number 44 can be seen to be contained in his very name.

In case you're wondering how this was arranged: it seems to be part of the plan that the Pisos also orchestrated our system of reckoning years and numbering them BC and AD.

The 15th day of the 3rd month contains another clue. If you divide 15 by 3 you get three 5's. The Roman numeral for 5 is V. Thus the day of Caesar's death contains three V's, referring to his phrase VENI VIDI VICI.
Caesar was stabbed 23 times. There were exactly 23 letters in the Latin alphabet of his day. This indicates that we are to use old Latin as a cypher.

Apparently any number is fair game here; and any way it can be associated is fair game as well. Julius Caesar is a real important person for this thesis; here's another example. Noting his famous "Veni vidi vici" phrase, they write:

The infamous number 666, for example, is simply VIVIVI, which refers to VenI VidI VicI. Get it? Oh yes, you will say that 666 is really DCLXVI. Yes, it is, but it also can cleverly be represented as VIVIVI, and the Pisos were very clever. They knew people would throw themselves off the track by their need to be literal.

That's the answer when the data doesn't cooperate: It was actually a "very clever" way of hiding things from people not in on the joke. Here's more:

The number 666 can also be expressed as VI VI VI. If you take the three V's and form a triangle, and then take the three I's and form another triangle, and then overlap the two "against" each other you will form a Star of David. This is yet another way that the number 666 points to the Jews.

You can also rearrange all the pieces, but wouldn't three V's make two triangles plus one line, without the Is? That makes three total. Elsewhere it is said:

Notice that the phrase "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him." contains VENI VIDI VICI! He came. They saw. They pierced (conquered) him. It describes what happened at Zela in 47 BCE, and the assassination that followed three years later. They saw him coming with his troops, and they pierced him 23 times as a result of it.

"Pierced" = "conquered"? And it took place over three years? More more undocumented creativity follows:

When a Roman needed to attend to nature he or she would say something like "Time to turn water into wine." This was a joke, of course, for the act of urination was something like transforming water magically into a kind of 'wine' - urine. Knowing this, can you ever again think that Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Capurnaum was a "miracle?" It was written into the New Testament by the Romans so that everyone in Rome, except the slaves of course, would get a belly laugh.

You won't find any documentation of such a phrase used by Romans, but we wonder whether the priests of Dionysus would have caught on. More yet:

In Latin the word "pistor" (baker) was, like the word "ippos", used by the Piso family to refer to themselves. Could it be that when we read in the Lord's Prayer "Give us this day our daily bread." we are actually reading a request for more "bread" from the Piso family bakery that cooked up the Jesus story?

Yes, and "Piso" is like "pistis" or the faith we are to have in Jesus. Isn't it useful how the Greek and Latin languages evolved so conveniently for this scheme?

Some other ideas by this thesis: Emperor Trajan wrote as Plutarch; Pliny wrote the Pastoral letters (and actually died in a battle against the Jews in 116 AD, fighting under a different name); a son of Arrius (Josephus) wrote the Gospel of John and wrote as Justin Martyr. But wait, there's more:

Is it a coincidence that the Piso family originated in Pontus, and there is a character in the NT named Pontius Pilate? Pontus was an ancient country that was located on the southern coast of the Black Sea, province of Cappadocia. The Latin name of the Black Sea was Pontus Euxinus. Did you ever wonder where the name Pontius Pilate came from? Perhaps it was to commemorate the origins of the Piso family. One of the Piso family ancestors was named Pilatus.

Not a shred of documentation if offered for any of these claims, and if you wonder whether they care that Pontius (not Pontus) Pilate is regarded as a real person by Tacitus, we should note that Tacitus was thought to be in on this conspiracy as well. More: The English language is in on the conspiracy, too --

I'm not sure if this means anything, but the word fool is used exactly 66 times in the King James Bible: 57 times in the Old Testament. The writers of the NT would have had to make up 9 uses of the word "fool" to make it come out to 66.

The problem here is that the KJV translates a few different words as "fool" (nabal, cakal, 'eviyl, keciyl to name four in the Hebrew, and aphron and moros to name two in the Greek). But maybe the KJV translators were Pisos also? In fact, we'll see something like this suggested by the lead theorist below.

Curious Jesus. They inter-changed the words that they use when they say 'Lord'. Sometimes using 'despotes' (despot), but mostly using 'curie'/'curios' meaning not only 'Lord', but also 'curious', 'strange', or 'mysterious'. This is a big hint at what they were doing, especially when mentioned in conjunction with statements such as "the mystery of the Gospels." They take they Latin word 'curia' and then turn it into its masculine form in Greek to get 'curios'. Julius Piso hints at what they were doing in 'Revelations' 18:8, "... for strongly curious is the God that judgeth her." And Julius even ends 'Revelations' snidely, saying in Rev. 22:20; "Yes, come, curious (Lord) Jesus!" Rev. 22:21; "Saints!, praise the Revelations of John!" And that, of course, made them want to exclude 'Revelations' from the canon.

"Kurios" (Lord) in Greek matched with "curious" in English? Not hardly. We have been advised that "curious" comes from a word curiosus, which means "conscientious" and has no linguistic derivation from the Greek "kurios".

The 'Abba' issue. In the New Testament, Jesus, dying on the cross, calls out to God using the word 'abba' - 'father'. And lo, and behold, we find Josephus using this same word while describing something similar in Chapter 8, verse 7, of 'Wars of the Jews'.

The proper title is actually "The Jewish War," and there are 7 books that have a chapter 8 in them. Not one describes anything "similar" (well - similar to what?) and we might add that Jesus did not use the word "Abba" on the cross.

We find 'the Egyptian' mentioned in Acts 21:38, and also in Josephus! The 'Egyptian' referred to was Arrius Piso/Josephus, because Arrius Piso was also 'Philo of Alexandria' (in Egypt), and he is descended from the 'Ptolemies' of Egypt, and because he is of Idumean (Edomite, i.e., 'Egyptian') descent. Not to mention the fact that being a descendant of King David, he has the blood of the Egyptian Pharaohes in him, because King Solomon (David's son), was married to a Pharaoh's daughter!

Solomon had hundreds of foreign wives -- how do we conclude this descent? You will be relieved to know as well, "In the N.T., Jesus is tempted to jump from the Temple in the exact same place that we find described in Josephus!" Described in Josephus...where? It isn't said.

Apparently God is going to hell! In Matthew 5:22 Jesus says: "but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." And in Luke 12:20 "But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." In other words, Jesus says that he who says "thou fool" shall be in danger of hell fire, and then God says "Thou fool"! So, God is in danger of hell fire!...This is either a joke, or an egregious error.

However, the former "fool" is a moros and the latter (and 1 Cor. 15:36) is an aphron.

These folks also claim all manner of sexual jokes behind the NT text; for example, "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die" is said to have sexual innuendos. Likewise, such phrases as "he arose, took up his bed and went" (Mark 2:12), "many knew him" (Mark 6:33), and "having eyes, see ye not?" (Mark 8:18), "eyes" being a codeword known only to Roman aristocratic sorts for another part of the body, one that is active when you sit down, if you get my drift.

Acts, we are told, was written to advertise locations of Roman brothels. I'll just let you think about all of that. One of their sources for this sort of thinking is one James Hannay -- a British chemist of the 19th century known for an experiment in which he artificially produced minute quantities of diamond. In other words, this is someone who as had no business drawing the conclusions he did. It is interesting to note that "Abelard" was a saint supposedly castrated for his tendency to lasciviousness.

A reader wrote to one of these folks and got some interesting information. As we have noted in other articles, Christianity was a social movement top-heavy by proportion with members of the middle and upper class, and less heavy than would be expected with the lower class and slaves; we have also noted numerous social factors that made Christianity unpopular with Rome. The Piso Family thesis has an answer for this:

...why does it seem that the Romans hated Christianity? After all, didn't they "throw the Christians to the lions" in the Coliseum? The last thing the Roman rulers wanted was for the slaves to catch on to the fact that the Romans wrote the New Testament. If they had said "Here, slaves, is a religion made just for you, and we endorse it." the slaves would have done anything but become Christians. Isn't that obvious?

And our reader was told of "The facade of Roman dislike of Christianity":

They had to create the illusion that they were not involved in creating it, so they would not be suspected. Thus, they had to play the part of not knowing anything about it (as Pliny the Younger does), and/or being indifferent to it or disliking it hence the writings about (false) persecutions

Other "facades" include:

The facade of "What the War Was About." Since the Romans were really the "bad guys," they could not let that fact be known. If the public knew the true nature of the war, they would have revolted against Rome just as the Jews did.
The facade of the idea of "Foreigners." There could hardly have been any real foreigners in the way that we are led to believe because of the cooperation of all major rulers in many different lands and the genealogical data that allows us to see how these rulers were related to each other and/or had the same common ancestors, and knew this.

This latter "facade" is especially in opposition to what we know about ancient social networks and ideas of collectivist "in-groups" -- see link above.

The facade of Dynasties. They had to create the illusion that there were dynasties so that the public would never know of the perpetual rule by the same family. Most, if not all, of these rulers were very cruel and extremely harmful to the public. If the public knew that if this were the true case, they would not have stood for it. Illusions were created to make the public think that if, for example, someone could rise in rank in the military, he stood a chance to become Emperor! This was a very powerful idea for people enduring so much misery.
The facade of authors speaking forthrightly and honestly. Ancient authors were royals, and yet they could not say so. By necessity, they had to lie about who they were and about much of what they said in their writings. They tried not to lie when they did not have to because they made use of devices such as disclaimers and said truthful things - in deceptive ways! For many hundreds of years, the general public has believed these ancient authors to be who they claimed to be and as if they wrote in an honest fashion.
The facade of many different people writing. Since only the royals were doing the writing and recording of history as well as Biblical texts, it was necessary that they made it appear that more people wrote than actually were...Thus, the authors played many parts and wrote using alias names to accomplish this. Arrius Piso, for example, wrote as Flavius Josephus, as well as Philo of Alexandria in addition to writing Biblical texts!

The conspiracy, obviously, is quite vast. I think it enough to state that all of this is merely assumed for the sake of the theory, not shown by evidence. But don't dare tell them that. Our reader sent us a record of a conversation between a somewhat more rational atheist and the lead theorist in the Piso camp. This atheist stated:

The Piso theory contends numbered scrolls existed in the first century. No such scroll have been found. No secondary documentation even exists that alludes to such scrolls. The destruction of Pompeii and Herculean in the first century AD froze a period in time. The private libraries of at least one on the members of the inner circle was preserved. It had no numbered text. This proved to be an embarrassment to those who claimed they existed. They know have to concoct wild scenarios where the scrolls are removed to another location, and loved ones are left behind.

Now we cannot vouch for the accuracy of this person's statements, but we do wish to note the leader's answer:

What we had said about numbered scrolls (chapter and verse) is that the Pisos had their OWN private copies that were numbered. And of course, the chances that those scrolls will be found is nearly zero. They were not meant for the public to see/find. They were kept in private family archives for as long as they needed them to be. The numbered copies that were produced for the King James Bible made use of those original ancient numbers which were pulled out of the original ancient texts, because it was SAFE to do so after all of those hundreds of years. And the fact that others had made the attempt to number the biblical texts just prior to the KJV, is just red-herrings so that one could make arguments regarding the claims of anyone such as ourselves. The plan was probably made right from the start as to just when or if numbered texts should ever be made available to the public. What you need to understand is that we are dealing with those of extreme genius. It is necessary to think as they did in order to understand how they made this all work.

Do you get that? This is a work of conspiratorial genius. And if you disagree? The leader has the answer:

You need to educate yourself to a higher level so as to be able to understand these things. As I had said before, you are operating under illusions. You need to get beyond being trapped by those facades.
When one realizes that those who were writing and producing ancient history were in complete control of ALL that would be left to us in terms of evidence, then the threshold in terms of WHAT evidence is, changes. And that is what you have yet to understand. WE are not in any way in control of what evidence there is. We are entirely dependent upon what evidence was deliberately left by the perpetrators themselves. Understand? That, is the true nature of what we are dealing with in the study of ancient history.
This is a broad and extremely complicated subject. It requires genius level thought, and sage dedication to understand fully. It is nothing that can be acheived by amateurs who do not have the ability to know when they are being deceived by ancient authors by any method or means.

I think this all speaks for itself in terms of illustory suppositions of grandeur. One final word from the lead theorist:

Our work, ultimately, is the ONLY way in which humanity has any real hope of ever gaining sanity. It is the only way in which real security for all will ever be achieved, as it effects so many other things. As I can, I have been trying to reveal this to you all for some time now in the form of various articles and subject matter. And I will continue to do so. But I think it is also important that you know just what the ultimate goal is. It is to enable future generations to think clearly, to learn how to learn, and to know how their own minds work. These very simple things are necessary for any person to be sane. So, our goal, via exposing the truth, is to change an insane world into a sane one. And, that is the truth.
The reality of the situation was that I was a sane person living in a world that was comprised mostly of insane people. Now, how is that for a shocker! What a huge thing to realize. I had already known that nearly everyone was very different that I, in that they were not actively seeking the truth about life and the world in which we all live. They, for the most part, simply accepted the illusion of reality which they saw around them. And I knew that. Which, in and of itself, was indeed alarming, but at that point, I had not yet fully understood the great impact of this, nor had I realized that this phenomenon was actually worldwide. I did, however, realize that even people of the highest rank in our society were taken in by those illusions.

It's not necessary to say much more about this theory. It seems to be the sort of thing that one derives from supermarkey tabloids -- only far more creative. In any event, it amounts to this: The Piso theory is based not on evidence of any kind, but on exceptionally creative re-readings of evidence.

Reply from the Piso Family Theorist

When I told a classical scholar of our acquaintance of the Roman Piso theorem, his response was a "WHAT?" with enough question marks attached to go off screen, and a remark that such people were not worth responding to. I slightly disagree, assuming one seeks a certain entertainment value, and this is about what we got from the lead theorist (whose name we cannot discern, so we shall just call him "the leader") of the Piso theory.

The leader caps-titles his response, "A REPLY BY THE NEW CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP (N.C.S.) REGARDING THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BY THE ROMAN PISO FAMILY." To begin (and throughout his response) he seems particularly and petulantly offended that (he thinks) we did not know that he calls his school of thought, "THE NEW CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP".

We did know that he uses this name, and it is of no moment. Give me 20 minutes and I will start a cost-free website advertising "THE NEW QUANTUM PHYSICS" revealing that all of quantum physics as we understand it as wrong, and that atoms actually spell out secretly-coded messages laying out a new theory of physics.

The leader is far off base in supposing that the designation is in any sense meaningful, or that there is actually anything from his self-designated school that supposedly overturns the "old" classical scholarship. Well then, I designate myself the author of the NEWER, EVEN BETTER CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP.

Don't expect the leader to have more than this to offer. With reference to my note from Oliver, the leader assures us that his "NEW CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP" takes care of that, and that it has "discovered" so much the old scholarship doesn't know, namely, that the Romans were very good at creating facades, but we still don't get any actual proof of this, just the same old begged question that a conspiracy is at work.

Oliver's note about the use of Roman names is not actually addressed. Rather, we are treated to a story about how the royal Romans made use of aliases, how they had conclaves with each other to plot against the common people -- and so on, with not one scintilla of proof offered other than the samed begged question that a conspiracy is afoot.

In terms of using a cost-free website as a medium -- as opposed to peer-reviewed journals -- we are told that this is "being adverse to those who are not spending money just to have a website. It is saying that because a person or group has not paid out money for a website that immediately we must ASSUME that their information is invalid or untrue."

No, it runs deeper than that, and actually has nothing to do with the money. Persons with free websites who promote ideas that run completely contrary to accepted ("old" -- i.e., with a proven track record) scholarship, who refuse to be open about their own credentials, who use an alias while refusing to be open about their identity even privately (the leader makes the claim that "religious zealots" may try to harm or kill him, and that "paid" websites suggest backing by special interests), are immediately suspicious and mark themselves as unworthy sources.

As I often told people in Internet classes, give me 10 minutes in a public library and I will have a site up selling cancer cures, and people will buy it, and I'll be out of town with a lot of money before the police can come. If the Piso theory has a worthy word to say then why isn't anything he says recorded in The Journal of Roman Studies? Calling such venues representative of "OLD" scholarship is not an answer. Calling them "biased" is not an answer. Calling it "valuable information" begs the question.

After likewise designating the scholar from Penn as "ignorant" and biased, and after designating the member of that Skeptical list as like one "putting your head in the sand", and claiming that his NEW scholarship will "replace the idea of history" as we know it -- bear in mind how easy it would be to do the same promoting a NEW QUANTUM PHYSICS -- we get to where I spoke of some particulars, and offered some thematic statements from a site sympathetic to the theory.

We're told yet again that we just don't understand, and it is said, "Real scholars do not laugh at new ideas. They investigate them and try to understand them."

Indeed? So if I go to MIT right now and give them the "new idea" that atoms actually spell out secret messages, I suppose they should "investigate and try to understand" that rather than call security to kick me off the campus. The leader goes on for several sentences about how his critics are lazy, ignorant, irresponsible, and so on -- verbiage which can be easily reproduced by anyone in place of getting actual evidence to the fore.

Now we get to where I quoted a Piso-sympathetic website about Arrius Calpurnius Piso as a Roman general who captured Jerusalem. The leader immediately distances himself from the quotel, saying it is from a place that is "NOT an official New Classical Scholarship site".

Oh? My article was a profile of people using this entire family of claims; "official" (one free website) or "unofficial" (some other free website) made no difference to me in context. Not that it matters -- by his own logic, since when does the leader have the right to dismiss such people? We may say: Why don't you instead be a "real scholar" and "try to investigate and understand" this variation on the theory? Why can't the other fellow say (as the leader does), "Well, he's just IGNORANT and BIASED. He needs to address the EVEN NEWER CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP that supersedes the NEW CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP." Is it becoming clear what little foundation this thesis has?

The leader likewise distances himself from the other site's statement that Arrius was actually Josephus, and issues a vague retort that, "I have explained to several people just this week that it is not reasonable to expect to find enough information at this point in time on the Internet about this subject as in order for that to happen there first have to be several books out on the subject so that people can quote from them and post that information!"

All right, so -- when can we have these books? He says, "The books will be out in the coming years and so that information will not find its way to the Internet for a few years from now."

Really? It is now 2009; the leader wrote this in 2003 -- and still no sign of these books. In fact, the site responding to me has articles that have not been updated in ten years or more.

The leader is apparently is online with the idea of affirming an Arrius Piso; to my note that this name appears nowhere on sites devoted to Latin history and such, he agrees and says, "So what? The author was simply looking in the wrong place."

Really? So where's the "right place"? What ancient Roman work of history? What inscription mentioning Arrius Piso as a real person?

There is no such thing. There wouldn't be, the leader tells us, because after all, this was something that the "Old Classical Scholarship" doesn't get because they can't read between the lines and see how these Roman "royals" were fooling n everyone, and if Arrius was actually mentioned clearly somewhere, that would defeat the purpose. It's like the painting of the cow eating grass. But it's blank, you say. A white canvas. Well, the cow ate the grass, the leader replies. But there's no cow, you say. Well, the leader retorts, you didn't expect the cow to stick around if there was no grass, did you? Don't you understand the NEW METHOD OF REALISTIC PAINTING?

The leader does assure us, though, that Arrius Piso's name was given in literary works; it was just "given in the ONLY way in which he could give it - in a way in which it could be hidden and not obvious." How? "...not all together as one name." I.e., an Arrius over here on page 4, a Piso here on page 72.

All right then. Using that method in 2003, I can decode a secret world ruler named Saddam Blair Bush from the daily newspaper. Just in case, we are assured that the leader has some evidence up his sleeve which he hasn't made public yet. It's all very convenient. Thus when I noted that Suetonius didn't say anything about Arrius Piso killing Vitellius, we are assured:

Yes, he does! Suetonius DOES say that Arrius Piso killed Vitellius. But he was using one of Arrius Piso's alias names to do so. And this, is what the author does not understand. Suetonius says, "The officer (official) who dispatched (killed) him was one Antonius Primus, a native of Toulouse, and his boyhood nickname had been Becco ('rooster's beak')." Ref. Suetonius, 'The Twelve Caesars', Vitellius, the last paragraph. Of course, the average person would not know this or how to tell that Arrius Piso used that alias name let alone the many other alias names he used. He used so many alias names in fact, that we have yet to discover them all. Where did he get these alias names?

So it's all a secret code using one of the many convenient aliases that this non-existent Arrius Piso used. Well, why not come up with something for the EVEN BETTER CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP?

"Primus" is a secret code not for Arrius Piso, but for a fellow named "Optimus Primus" who owned a Roman chariot consortium. He wanted Vitellus dead because he wouldn't renew the Roman military chariot contract.

What, leader? It's a new idea, don't laugh at it, investigate it. The only reason you don't agree is because you lack discipline and ability to see it.

When it gets down to where we are told that we're just too "average" to grasp all these secret codes whether in Suetonius or the Bible, when we are told that recognizing all this secret material takes "discipline" and "ability" that only the leader possesses, that there was a conspiracy by unevidenced Roman royals that has fooled all classical scholars today; that these same royals "anticipated" that future atheists and non-Christians would not take the the NT seriously and so put secret codes in it to prove that Christianity was a hoax; and that the "whole reality of history" is changed by someone with no reported credentials and a free website...it's past time to take this seriously.

The leader also distances himself from the sympathetic site's bit about Julius Piso and Hadrian, and offers a replacement from the Reuchlin route:

"Jesus, as a hen gathering her chickens in Matt. 23:37… And the term Gollus, for the dispersion (Diaspora) which he ultimately caused. It was only after the second destruction that the Jewish literature referred to both dispersions (Diaspora) as Gollus" (Ref. 'The True Authorship of the New Testament', Abelard Reuchlin, pg. 11-12).

What this has to do with anything isn't said. I didn't say a word about a Gollus or a Diaspora under Hadrian, so even if this is true (for what it may be worth) it makes has no affect on what I have written. Then we are told:

This leads us to the verge of discussing just HOW the authors of that time could refer to Arrius Piso without mentioning his real name; he was alluded to by using his many alias names which had their origin in his ancestry. He is referred to as "Gallus" or Gollus, because of his ancestral name of "Pollo/Pollio," which means "chicken." However, to explain this so that the reader will understand it as I do would take many cross-references to illustrate and is not possible without all of the related material; and that would require not just one book, but several.

So Arrius Piso conveniently had yet another alias to add to the list (how many is that now?); and there's a linguistic connection between "Gallus" and "Pollio" that it would take several books to explain. We don't doubt it; the linguistic convolutions required to get there would no doubt take years of writing to make clear.

We are then told, "Let it suffice here to make mention only of this with regards to Arrius Piso being 'Gallus'; the second Diaspora was called 'Gollus' by the Jews (I have also seen it referred to as "the Galuth"), because it was caused by Mr. Gallus - Arrius Piso."

The leader has this much right: the terms "galus" (one "L") and "galuth" are used for Jews living outside Israel -- as in, in exile and as a punishment. And it's related to a Hebrew word galah. So this mysterious "Arrius Piso", whose name conveniently is unattested in any source except by "disciplined" research, has yet another alias, also likewise found only by "disciplined" research. I see.

Among the further assurances we have are that this Arrius Piso (still yet proven to exist) has "ancestors on the Flavian side of his family" who "derive from a family whose name was 'Pollo' or 'Pollio,' which is 'chicken.'"

And the evidence for these persons existing is? Not given. Arrius we are told also had another couple of aliases, "Cestius Gallus" and the "Antonius Primus" who killed Vitellius. Proof? Why, it's simple. Here's what Suetonius says:

Vitellius died at the age of fifty-six; nor did his brother and son outlive him. The omen of the rooster at Vienne (noted above) had been interpreted as meaning that a Gaul would kill him - gallus is both a 'cock' and a 'Gaul'. This proved correct: the officer (official) who dispatched (killed) him was one Antonius Primus, a native of Toulouse, and his boyhood nickname had been Becco ('rooster's beak').

So, we are told, Suetonius, referring to Antonius Primus as a "Gallus" is the secret codeword identifying Arrius Piso.

The Hebrew word galal was also inserted in the OT by the Romans, I suspect. So 2 Samuel 15:19 proves that chickens were given refuge in ancient Israel, for it actually says, in secret code, "Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also a chicken."

And why not an allusion to gala, the Greek word for milk? So Peter actually says, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere chicken of the word, that ye may grow thereby..."

But wait. "Pollo" sounds like the Greek polus, meaning "many", but in the NT is a secret code indicating that Jesus was a chicken farmer. (Read: "When he was come down from the mountain, chicken multitudes followed him.")

Such is the Piso theory: Agrand circle of word-sound association, with no concern for etymology, with "proofs" constituted not by evidence but by bald and undocumented assertion, suspicion and conspiracy, secret codes behind any and every word. And the leader admits to our suggestion that Tacitus was in on this conspiracy, yes: "...ALL of the authors of that time were royals who were pretending to be other people by using alias identities; and yes, this includes Tacitus. Tacitus was actually Neratius Priscus." I probably should not have said anything as I may have just expanded the theory.

The leader again creates distance between himself and the sympathetic site -- though he objects that some translations of Josephus use the title "Wars of the Jews" (or variants like "History of the Jewish War Against the Romans" -- he claims the latter is the correct title, but no, it's a little hard to get all of that out of just Bellum Iudaicum) then in response to my implied requesr for more precise evidence on things like Arrius being Philo and descended from Pharaohs, we're told that the "information can be found elsewhere and eventually in upcoming books on the subject." Which still do not seem to be out here in 2009, however.

Then we are told just how far back this really goes:

But the fact of the matter is that the Bible was composed by ancient royals and the family line of those royals extended back to the author of Genesis. And that author, was a Pharaoh. He was Arrius Piso's ancestor.

And further, in answer to my question re:

"In the N.T., Jesus is tempted to jump from the Temple in the exact same place that we find described in Josephus!" Described in Josephus...where? It isn't said. Just take their word for it, it's in there.

The leader assures us, "As for the place where 'Jesus' is tempted (in the story) to jump from the Temple (Matt. 4:5; Luke 4:9), that may be found in the Whiston translation of the works of Flavius Josephus (Book V, Chap. V, paragraph 5 & 6), pg. 555)."

All right, I have that right here. It's there, all right -- as part of a huge, chapter-long description of the Temple complex. Josephus spends the whole chapter describing the Temple complex in loving and complete detail, right down to the sharp points on the roof made to keep birds from landing and making messes all over the place. Jesus could have jumped from the front porch and "the exact same place" would be there, too.

I noted that:

Acts, we are told, was written to advertise locations of Roman brothels. I'll just let you think about all of that. (One of their sources for this sort of thinking is one James Hannay -- a British chemist of the 19th century known for an experiment in which he artificially produced minute quantities of diamond. In other words, this is someone who as usual had no business drawing the conclusions he did.

I think the leader's reply here is worth quoting in full:

Now the author continues to show his sloppy work again. He has found a different James Hannay and thinks that it is the same one which was referred to! He has not bothered to find a book by James Ballantyne Hannay; but again appears to only rely upon a quick websearch for his information. The author has by now demonstrated time and time again that he actually possesses only a cursory knowledge of ancient Roman history and research methodology, among other things.

Did I do a websearch? Yes, I did. I have web access to OCLC, the Online Catalog of the Library of Congress. And true, there is more than one James Hannay -- three of them -- but only ONE is a J. B. Hannay, he was born in 1855, and he is the author of books with these sorts of titles: Sex symbolism in religion on one hand, and On the action of chloride upon iodine on the other.

Not the same Hannay? False. This, again, was a man who had no business doing what he was doing.

Most of the rest of the article the leader decides to ignore. We now get to where we looked at the leader's correspondence with a rational atheist, who noted that the Piso theorists have to "concoct wild scenarios where the scrolls are removed to another location, and loved ones are left behind." As expected the leader has his conspiracy of faith -- "All of the manuscripts have not yet been recovered, and this does not take into account of the fact that many of the documents which were in the Library of the Pisos did NOT even survive," and by the way, "it does not take a genius to realize that whatever manuscripts were in that library which could ruin the plans that the Roman Piso family had worked so hard to create were most likely snapped up as soon as they could get to them...It would be completely stupid to think that as smart as these people were that they were going to leave behind evidence that could destroy everything that they had been worked so long and hard to produce if there were any way to retrieve that evidence."

Yes, it's a cow eating grass scenario; and without the leader's expertise, you will never be able to see that cow as it runs away.

And last, we're also told that "Pliny the Younger records the attempts at retrieval from the Villa of the Pisos by his uncle Pliny the Elder" but don't expect to see this in Pliny's actual works; it has to be read between the lines, we assume, of Pliny the Younger's actual report that Pliny the Elder went over out of scientific curiosity and to rescue someone's wife, and ended up visiting not the Piso villa at all, by the record, but the bathhouse. The leader closes with more assurances that it will take "several books" before he will have enough out there to see that he really is the genius he thinks he is, declares that he has "spent far too much time" replying to our "gibberish," and takes his leave.

And that is all from the leader. What more needs be said? Sober scholarship is obviously not on the docket here.