Francesco Carotta (2007)
|Born||1946 (age 67–68)
|Known for||Caesarian origin of Christianity
Gospel as a diegetic transposition
|Notable work(s)||Jesus was Caesar – On the Julian Origin of Christianity|
Francesco Carotta (born 1946 in Veneto, Italy) is an Italian writer who developed a theory that Julius Caesar was the historical Jesus, that the Gospel is a rewriting of Roman historical sources, and that Christianity developed from the cult of the deified Caesar. This theory is generally ignored in academic circles.
Francesco Carotta was born in 1946 in Veneto, Italy. Carotta studied philosophy in France and linguistics in Germany. In the 1970s he was active as a writer in the cultural-political movements in Frankfurt, Bologna and Rome. In 1980 Carotta headed the Frankfurt-based Casa di Cultura Popolare as director. As executive director and publisher he supported Kore, a Freiburg publisher of feminist books and women's literature. At Kore he published preliminary findings from his research in the late 1980s. In 1999 he presented his theory on the Caesarian origins of Christianity in the book War Jesus Caesar?. Since then he has continued his research and written several articles. He has participated in documentary films on Caesar and Christ, given academic lectures, and reconstructed Caesar's funeral ceremony in Spain, based on the historical sources. Carotta lives in Kirchzarten near Freiburg.
Caesarian origin of Christianity
Francesco Carotta's theory runs contrary to all established theories on the historical Jesus. Carotta postulates that the historical person behind the Biblical figure Jesus Christ was not Jesus of Nazareth, but the Roman statesman Gaius Julius Caesar, from whose cult Christianity developed over the course of several generations.
Jesus was Caesar
The thesis of Carotta's book Jesus was Caesar is based on a philological comparison of the gospels, especially the earliest Gospel of Mark, with the ancient sources about the last years in the life of Caesar during the Great Roman Civil War and its aftermath, and about his immediate legacy. Among the Roman sources are primarily the historiographical works of Appian, Plutarch and Suetonius, who all relied to some extent on Caesar's contemporary Gaius Asinius Pollio and his lost Historiae, which according to Carotta might constitute the Latin Ur-Gospel. This extended Roman-Christian synopsis is augmented by comparisons in related fields like archaeology, numismatics, iconography, liturgy, and ritual traditions. Carotta argues that the multiple parallels which he noticed between the lives and cults of Caesar and Christ can best be explained by his theory that Jesus Christ is based on the deified Julius Caesar, transformed and mirrored in the eastern Hellenistic and judaizing regions of the Roman Empire.
Within Carotta's theory the gospels are hypertexts after what he calls a "diegetic transposition" of Latin and Greek Roman sources (hypotexts) on Caesar's life from the beginning of the Civil War, the crossing of the Rubicon, until his assassination, funeral and deification, conforming to Jesus' mission from the Jordan to his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. Textually transformed from Rome to Jerusalem in Caesar's eastern veteran colonies, the Gospel narrative with its altered geography, dramatic structure, its characters and newly adopted cultural environment, would therefore have been written neither as a mimetic approximation of Caesarian attributes nor as a mythological amalgam, but as a directly dependent, albeit mutated rewriting (réécriture) of actual history.
He argues that, following this initial 'transpositional process', there was at first a redaction of the Caesarian Ur-Gospel inspired by Augustan history and theogony, whereby the later synoptic gospels by Matthew and Luke incorporated (among other pericopes) the Nativity of Jesus, originally transposed from the nativity of Augustus, and the resurrection narrative, according to the chronological-biographical structures in the historical account by Nicolaus of Damascus. Later generations produced more discrete traditions from the Augustan sondergut like the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation. According to Carotta, the ultimate early Christian metamorphosis of the eastern Caesar-religion, which was to reinterpret the foundational cult of the Julian imperial dynasty with regard to the contested Palestine, was provoked by the new Flavian theopolitical ideology, which also induced the rewriting of the vita of Vespasian's court historian Flavius Josephus into the hagiography of Saint Paul in the second part of Acts.
Outside of Germany his theory drew little response, while the Dutch translation caused a controversial and at times heated debate in the Dutch media that lasted for almost a decade: historian Thomas von der Dunk, philosopher Andreas Kinneging and philosopher Paul Cliteur were among those who supported Carotta's theory, while philosopher Willem J. Ouweneel, theologian Matthijs de Jong, historian Marc van Uytfanghe, and the Dutch Bible Society dismissed the book. In an issue of the Dutch magazine Quest Historie dealing with conspiracy theories, theologian Annette Merz, while acknowledging the similarities between the lives of Jesus and Julius Caesar, was quoted as arguing that Carotta would have to refute the non-Christian sources for the existence of Jesus.
Dominican priest Jerome Murphy-O'Connor criticized Carotta for avoiding explanations on why the "figure called Jesus Christ" would have been "invented" and given a "life modeled on that of Julius Caesar", and "why there should be four versions of the career of Jesus". Latinist Maria Wyke called Carotta's views "eccentric" and described the connections between Caesar and Jesus listed by him as "sweeping and often superficial parallels, however detailed and justified at book length". Spanish philologist Antonio Piñero called Carotta's reading of the Gospel as a diegetic transposition an "ingenious exercise" but also noted several methodological shortcomings which made the theory "completely implausible".
Expanded theory and other works
During a 2008 lecture and in a subsequent article Carotta presented an extension of his theory, which interprets the Gospel as a diegetic transposition (see above). In 2009 Carotta wrote an article in which he supported the arguments for the authenticity of the so-called Orpheos Bakkikos, a supposedly syncretistic early Christian amulet showing the Crucifixion of Christ. Carotta postulates that the lost amulet showed the funerary wax effigy of Caesar, presented on a tropaeum. In a 2011 article Carotta argued for a restitution of the Liberalia (17 March) as the correct date of Caesar's funeral ceremony, and for a dismissal of the chronology developed by 19th century German scholars. In the 2012 edition of his book containing earlier and new articles he argued that Fulvia was the mother of Christianity and possibly the author of the ur-gospel.
- Van Friesland, Jan: Auf den Spuren von Caesar. Interviews mit Francesco Carotta. Soesterberg: Aspekt, 2014, ISBN 978-9461534576.
- War Jesus Caesar? 2000 Jahre Anbetung einer Kopie. München: Goldmann, 1999, ISBN 3-442-15051-5 (German).
- War Jesus Caesar? – Artikel und Vorträge. Eine Suche nach dem römischen Ursprung des Christentums. Kiel: Ludwig, 2012, ISBN 978-3-937719-63-4.
- with Heide, Holger: "Bologna. Anmerkungen zu einem Modell reformierter Herrschaft", in Herzbruch, Barbara (ed.): Die Rote Armee Fraktion und die Linke, Jahrbuch Politik 8. Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach, 1978, ISBN 3-8031-1082-3.
- "Il Cesare incognito / Da Divo Giulio a Gesù", in Canfora, Luciano (ed.): Quaderni di Storia 57: 357-375. Istituto di Storia Greca e Romana (Bari), Milan: Dedalo, 2003, ISSN 0391-6936.
- "Los evangelios como transposición diegética: una posible solución a la aporía '¿Existió Jesús?'", in Piñero, Antonio (ed.): ¿Existió Jesús realmente?. Madrid: Raíces, 2008, ISBN 978-84-86115-64-7, pp. 101–124. English version.
- with Eickenberg, Arne: "Orfeo Báquico: la cruz desaparecida", in Isidorianum 35 (18): 179-217. Seville: Centro de Estudios Teológicos de Sevilla, 2009, ISSN 1131-7027. English version.
- with Eickenberg, Arne: "Liberalia tu accusas! Restituting the ancient date of Caesar's funus", in Revue des Études Anciennes 113 (2): 447-467. Bordeaux 2011, ISSN 0035-2004. Scanned version.
- "Triumviri come Eraclidi su gemme italiche? Considerazioni complementari su Oxilo e la terza generazione degli Eraclidi di Erika Simon", in Quaderni ticinesi di numismatica e antichità classiche 42: 85–92. Basel 2013, ISSN 1420-1739.
- The Gospel of Caesar (Het Evangelie van Caesar), documentary film, Jan van Friesland (dir., prod.), Van Friesland Filmproducties/VARA/CoBo Fonds, Netherlands 2007/2008
- Death Masks, documentary film, Stuart Clarke (dir.), Wild Dream Films/History, UK 2009
- Jesús 2.0, documentary for the feature film El discípulo, Emilio Ruiz Barrachina (dir.), Ircania Producciones, Spain 2010
- Cf. Carotta's CV. Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF) .
- I.a. Mara, Cham (July 1974). "Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Kritik, die als Aufhebung wird auftreten können". Schwarze Protokolle (Frankfurt am Main: Peter-H. Ober) 9: 2–74. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Haberl, Horst Gerhard (1990). Auf und davon: eine Nomadologie der Neunziger. Graz: Droschl. p. 178. ISBN 3-85420-193-1.
- Niederländer, Frank (ed.); Schulz, Gabriele (ed.) (1994). Das Literaturbuch 1993/94. Literarisches Leben in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Berlin: Deutscher Kulturrat/Nomos. p. 183. ISBN 3-7890-3106-2. Cf. R. R. Bowker Publishing (ed.) (1993). International Literary Market Place 1994. New Providence: Reed Reference. p. 165. ISBN 0-8352-3347-2.
- I.a. Cam (Francesco Carotta) (1988), "Madonna mia", in Cam (ed.), BellaMadonna/Memoria 2089. Almanach vom Kore Verlag, Freiburg: Kore, pp. 9–15, ISBN 3-926023-75-9. Cf. Cam (1989), "Verkündigung: Caesars Kreuzigung – Das Evangelium nach Kleopatra", in Cam (ed.), BellaMadonna/Memoria 2090. Kalenden und Iden. Almanach vom Kore Verlag, Freiburg: Kore, pp. i–ix, ISBN 3-926023-76-7. Cf. also Cam (23 December 1991). "Jesus Christus, Caesar incognito". die tageszeitung (Berlin). p. 20.
- Strohecker, Irina (15 October 2007). "'Für einen Forscher gibt es nichts Ärgerlicheres als die Fiktion'". Badische Zeitung (Freiburg). p. 33.
- Following the literary theory introduced by Genette, Gérard (1982). Palimpsestes. La littérature au second degré. Paris: Seuil. ISBN 2-02-006116-3.
- E.g. Euler, Ralf (29 November 1999), "Euch ist ein 'Bobbelsche' geboren", Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung; Höge, Helmut (24 December 1999), "Er kam, sah und heilte", die tageszeitung: 19; Sellner, Albert (20 March 2000), "Ein Stück Welträtsellösung", Badische Zeitung: 28; Widmann, Arno (28 June 2000), "Jesus – Julius", Berliner Zeitung.
- For an overview of the theory's reception including a full summary of the Dutch controversy cf. the external links.
- For earlier summaries of the Dutch debate cf. also Ariëns, Hans (6 February 2003), "Jezus Christus, alias Julius Caesar", Mare 19. Cf. Hendriks, Tommie (2004), "Was Jezus Caesar? Receptie van een historische These", De Zwarte Hand 1: 119–157.
- Lobosco, Roberto (2010). "Was Jezus Christus eigenlijk Julius Caesar? Goddelijke Dubbelganger". Quest Historie (Diemen: G+J Uitgevers) 3 (1): 68–71. ISSN 1877-6302.
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2007). Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives. Collegeville: Glazier (Michael) Inc. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8146-5173-5.
- Wyke, Maria (2007). Caesar: A Life in Western Culture. London: Granta. p. 255 sq. ISBN 978-1-86207-662-4.
- Piñero, Antonio (2008), "A modo de síntesis parcial y conclusiones", in Piñero, Antonio, ¿Existió Jesús realmente?, Madrid: Raíces, p. 345 sq., ISBN 978-84-86115-64-7.
- Carotta, Francesco (2008), "Los evangelios como transposición diegética: una posible solución a la aporía '¿Existió Jesús?'", in Piñero, Antonio, ¿Existió Jesús realmente?, Madrid: Raíces, pp. 101–124, ISBN 978-84-86115-64-7. English version: "The Gospels as diegetic Transposition: A possible Solution to the Aporia 'Did Jesus exist?'".
- Carotta, Francesco; Eickenberg, Arne (2009), "Orfeo Báquico: la cruz desaparecida", Isidorianum 35 (18): 179–217, ISSN 1131-7027. English version: "Orpheos Bakkikos — The Missing Cross".
- Carotta, Francesco; Eickenberg, Arne (2011), "Liberalia tu accusas! Restituting the ancient date of Caesar's funus", Revue des Études Anciennes 113 (2): 447–467, ISSN 0035-2004.
- Carotta, Francesco (2012), "Fulvia: die Mutter des Christentums?", in Carotta, Francesco, War Jesus Caesar? – Artikel und Vorträge. Eine Suche nach dem römischen Ursprung des Christentums, Kiel: Ludwig, pp. 109–177, ISBN 978-3-937719-63-4
- Works by or about Francesco Carotta in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Carotta's website
- DIVVS·IVLIVS: research blog on Carotta's theory incl. an overview of the theory's reception
- Francesco Carotta at the Internet Movie Database