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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In Part One, I discussed the famous paragraph from Josephus’ Antiquities known by its nickname the Testimonium Flavianum: the testimony of ‘Flavius’ (Josephus’ patron Roman name) to the life, death, and appearances-after-death (at least) of Jesus Christ.

The internet hardly needs another article on the TestiFlav, of course, as it's quite famous, and has been chewed over repeatedly by proponents and opponents on all sides of the aisle. I wouldn't even have written Part One at all, except I wanted to remind readers of the principles for why and how scholars across the board, conservative and liberal, from true believers out to even some hypersceptics, accept the testimony as being mostly original to Josephus. (Some hypersceptics think the entire passage is an interpolation, and not everyone agrees about what the value of the passage is even if it's original, but that's a whole other issue.)

That's because there's another version of the TestiFlav which not even many scholars know about, which has long been rejected as a total interpolation (i.e. some pious Christian added it completely to a text); and I thought it would be an interesting experiment to apply the principles of commonly accepted TestiFlav analysis to it.

So, beware, be very a-ware: this article will be VERY MUCH LONGER than Part One. All ye who are willing to slide into it, though -- to the Prattjump!





Recapping Part One, I presented commonly known (and widely accepted) reasons for why the paragraph should be mostly accepted, aside from three brief (suspected) interpolations, as genuine; and I considered the curious evidence of a report of the TF (found late in a 10th century Arabic text) from a Christian historian Agapius, who gives me serious (though not decisive) reason to think that part of a sentence normally rejected (for some good reasons) by analysts as an interpolation, is in fact part of the non-interpolated text of the TF.

Giving the reconstructed paragraph again, with my counter-consensus suggestion marked within asterisks (and a couple of minor emendations for grammatic clarity), we have:


Around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. [For?] He was a worker of paradoxical deeds and was a teacher of people who lustily accept truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. [Perhaps also including, ‘...who believed him to be the Messiah.’] Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross. [but] Those who had first loved him did not cease [doing so]. **[For?] They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.** To this day the tribe of ‘Christians’ named after him has not disappeared.

(Please see my previous entry for more discussion about the received version of the TF, plus differences with the Agapius version.)

This is fairly common knowledge among students of “historical Jesus” analysis (pro and con).

What many people don’t know, however, is that there exists yet another version of this famous paragraph. (Much as with the Agapius information, I owe notice of this paragraph to Robert E. Van Voorst in Jesus Outside the New Testament, 2000, pp 85-88. He would not necessarily agree with my suggested use of Agapius above, or with my analysis below, however.)

This paragraph is not found in a commentary talking about the Antiquities (such as Agapius clearly implies), nor in some copy of the Ant. itself, but in one Old Slavonic (i.e. Old Russian) copy of the other most famous book from Josephus, The Jewish War. Due to its obvious resemblances to the TF, this much longer paragraph has been nicknamed the Testimonium Slavianum.

(Because even scholars get bored sometimes and need to be witty. {wry g})

There are many peculiar differences in the Slavonic JW compared to the received versions of the JW, four of which involve Jesus somehow. (There are no references to Jesus in any other surviving copies of the JW, by the way: both of the commonly accepted Josephan references are found in Ant. The second reference, which mentions Jesus-called-Christ in relation to the murder of James by Ananus, son of Annas, will not be discussed in this series.) Three of these Slav-JW references are very brief, and have no parallel in any other known Josephan references. In textual order, the other three references refer to:

1.) an inscription hung above the gates leading into the inner part of the Temple, referring to Jesus as a “king who didn’t reign” and who was crucified by the Jews for foretelling the destruction of the city and the desolation of the Temple. (Inserted into JW 5.5.2 line 195.)

2.) a reminder that the curtain of the Temple had been rent apart when “the doer of good, the man who through his acts was no man” was delivered to death through bribery. Though Jesus’ name isn’t mentioned, a survey of resurrection material is passed across: it is said that after he was put to death and buried his body wasn’t found; some assert he is risen but others that his body was stolen by friends (the writer claims not to know what to believe); and a report that some say there were thirty Roman and a thousand Jewish guards around his grave. (Inserted into JW 5.5.4 line 214.)

3.) a sentence speaking of Messianic prophecy from the Bible is mentioned as being applied, “some say”, to Herod, or else to “the crucified wonder-worker” Jesus, or some say to Vespasian. (Inserted into JW 6.5.4, replacing line 313.)

It is hard to know what to make of this material; other than to play it safe and ignore it as being otherwise unattested except in a late copy of a foreign language (compared to the original composition time and language.) I doubt Josephus would call Jesus “the man who through his acts was no man”, and I don’t know any good reason myself why an inscription would be hung above gates leading into the inner part of the Temple--but then I don’t know enough to call that implausible, either. (Though I suspect it’s implausible.) The other portions might be plausibly Josephan material, even if they’re being ported over from somewhere else--in any case, if they’re original to JW then they were excised by someone commissioning a copy at a very early date, since no Greek copies feature this material. Or, they could be someone trying to pretend to be Josephus but slipping up on occasion. Some of the portions are, at least, curious, and not necessarily in a pro-Christian fashion but in a fashion of second-or-thirdhand interest, which Josephus might be expected to indulge in.

What is of most interest, and potentially of most use, is the fourth and by far the longest mention in the Slavonic JW. Unlike the other three references, this one has the advantage of attestation elsewhere, and pretty solid attestation at that: namely, it strongly resembles the well-known Testimonium found in Josephus’ later book! Some of the characteristics of the TestiSlav can be obviously disregarded as late interpolations, but others...? Well, that’s what makes this text so interesting!

Here’s the received version of the Slavonic Testimonium Flavianum (hereafter the TestiSlav, or TS), as reported in English by Van Voorst from F. F. Bruce’s Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, 1974, pp 43-53:

At that time there appeared a certain man -- if it is proper to call him a man, for his nature and form were human, but his appearance was superhuman and his works were divine. It is therefore impossible for me to call him a mere man; but on the other hand, if I consider that his nature was shared by others, I will not call him an angel. Everything that he performed through an invisible power he worked by word and command. Some said, “Our first lawgiver is risen from the dead, and he has displayed signs and wonders.” But others thought that he was sent from God. In many respects, however, he opposed the Law and he did not keep the Sabbath according to the custom of our forefathers. Yet he did nothing shameful. He did nothing with his hands, but with his word alone. Many of the common people followed him and paid heed to his teaching. Many men’s minds were stirred, for they thought that through him the Jewish tribes could free themselves from the power of Rome. It was his custom to stay outside the city on the Mount of Olives. There he wrought cures for the people. A hundred and fifty assistants joined him, and a multitude of the populace. When they saw his power, and his ability to accomplish by a word whatever he desired, they communicated to him their will that he should enter the city, cut down the Roman troops and Pilate, and reign over them; but he would not listen to them. When news of this was brought to the Jewish leaders, they assembled along with the high priest and said: “We are too powerless and weak to resist the Romans. But since the bow is bent, we will go and tell Pilate what we have heard, and then we shall avoid trouble; for if he hears of it from others we shall be robbed of our goods and we shall be slaughtered and our children dispersed.” So they went and told Pilate. Pilate sent soldiers who killed many of the multitude. The miracle-worker was brought before him, and after he held an inquiry concerning him, he pronounced judgment as follows: “He is a benefactor, he is no criminal, no rebel, no seeker after kingship.” So he released him, for he had healed his wife when she was dying. He went back to his usual place and did his customary works. Even more people gathered round him, and he gained even more glory by his acts. The scribes were stung with envy, and they gave Pilate thirty talents to kill him. He took it and gave them liberty to carry out their will. So they seized him and crucified him, contrary to the law of their fathers.

Portions of the first part are obviously Christian interpolation (unless Josephus is to be given credit for propagating both docetism and also counter-docetic orthodox kerygmas concerning Christ!!) Some of the remainder could be plausibly Josephan or plausibly Christian. But large portions of this material are clearly independent of canonical Gospel form and even content. The same material could easily result from a second-or-thirdhand hearing of the Christian story, with convenient guesses being made about how it’s supposed to fit together--a form that would fit Josephus, or some other non-Christian, far better than a Christian scribe trying to make overt apologetic use of a ‘reference’ from Josephus.

Any comparison will have to account for the received version of the TF on one hand, and the reconstructed version of the TF with the probable interpolations removed. This can get confusing, but I'll try to make it simpler. Hereafter, "rec'd" means data suspected of being interpolated into the received text found in Antiquities; "non-interp" means data kept in the reconstructed text, which is generally judged to be genuine Josephus.


Notable direct similarities with the Antiquties TF include the following:

1.) the phrase “if it is proper to call him a man” [rec’d]

2.) Jesus does amazing or controversial things [non-interp “paradoxical deeds”]

3.) popularity with common folk who pay heed to his teaching. [non-interp, ‘common folk’ easily implied in “many Jews and many Greeks”; maybe also in “accepting the truth lustily” if this means over-eagerly and uncritically]

4.) collaboration of the Sanhedrin with Pilate in trying and executing Jesus. [non-interp]


Notable similar/dissimilarities with the Ant. TF include the following:

1.) the introduction that “around this time lived” the person described in the paragraph. In the TS he is not called a wise man, and an orthodox counter-docetic kerygma is given instead. The TF names him Jesus, which the TS never does.

2.) the many people who follow Jesus are not specifically categorized as Jews and non-Jews (i.e. Greeks) in the TS.

3.) the TS implicates Pilate in the arrest, too, unlike the TF (which doesn’t mention arrest).

4.) the TS is a lot more detailed about Pilate ‘condeming Jesus to the cross’ than the TF; and implicates the Sanhedrin a lot more.


So much for even partial similarities. Notable direct differences would include... well... pretty much everything else! Highlights:

1.) Jesus is never even named in the TS! (Instead he is called ‘so-and-so’ which seems to resemble ways suspected of referring to Jesus in the Mishna/Talmud material.) Nevertheless, it’s clearly the same story as told in the TF and the Gospels.

2.) The TS never declares Jesus to be the Messiah, unlike the (received) TF.

3.) The whole end of the received TF is utterly lacking, i.e.:

3a.) the affirmation that Jesus’ disciples continued following him; including up to the present day.

3b.) why they continued following him (the Resurrection appearances).

3c.) no mention (such as in the rec’d version of the TF) of Jesus fulfilling prophecies of the Jewish ancient prophets. This is not only missing at the end, it is even missing earlier where (considering the structure of the TS) one might most reasonably have expected it!

3d.) no mention that the followers of so-and-so are called Christians, after him.

4.) the TS discusses miracles more openly.

5.) the TS features two trials...

6.) ...after the first of which Pilate completely releases Jesus!


Now, this material shows up only in one foreign-language copy (so far as I've ever heard) of The Jewish War, but that copy was sent as part of a cultural improvement program, and the history of it is worth recounting before we continue. (Details can be found, though not regarding the Slavonic JW, in Richard Fletcher's masterful history of the first Christian evangelists, The Barbarian Conversion.)

As Greek Christians and Roman Christians began reaching out to pagan nations north of them, the Greek Christians of the Eastern Empire found that the Slavic tribes had no written language, so an evangelical bishop named Cyril (along with some other missionaries) invented a written language for the Slavs. We call this Old Slavonic now, but eventually it developed into modern Russian, yet the man who gave the Slavs the written word is still honored by the name still used for the Russian alphabet: Kyrillic.

Cyril and his partners didn't do this only to send the Slavs Bibles (although that, too). The Christian Emperors instituted a massive program of passing on the lessons and knowledge of Greco-Roman civilization to the Slavs, so that their people would be able to live better, and (not-incidentally) would be better buffer allies to protect the Byzantine heartland from the raider tribes of the steppes farther north.

The histories of Josephus were part of the gifts of culture provided for the Slavic people. But of course there were evangelical motives as well, so in theory it wouldn't be surprising for a pious scribe to want to salt The Jewish War with tidbits of 'history' about Jesus. The JW, after all, was a much shorter transcription project than all the books of Antiquities, so if the JW didn't have a version of the famous Testimonium in it, why not insert it somewhere?

But then the theory breaks down on the peculiarities of how the scribe must have gone about it. Instead of simply porting the TF over (along with the shorter other Ant. reference to Jesus, which doesn't get ported at all), the scribe adds a lot, changes a lot, and leaves out some surprising things (while adding some odd touches elsewhere in JW). If the purpose was evangelism, why not just send over what the TF fairly briefly reports? Much of the TS runs quite against the all-important canonical Gospel material after all!

Which brings us around to comparing the TS with the Gospels.


Notable direct similarities between the TS and one or more (usually all four) canonical Gospel accounts would include the following:

1.) works of power being done by word or command, instead of by calling upon some higher authority.

2.) popular debate over whether Jesus is an ancient Jewish prophet returned, or was sent from God directly (in some fashion).

3.) controversy over whether Jesus loyally keeps the Law and the Sabbath.

4.) popularity with common folk who pay heed to his teaching.

5.) some serious problems with revolutionaries wanting Jesus to be a military rebel; which Jesus refuses.

6.) staying on the Mount of Olives.

7.) more than only twelve disciples.

8.) curing people who visit him (perhaps also during mass gatherings.)

9.) concern among the Sanhedrin that Jesus is inspiring popular revolt against Rome, which would be disastrous for Israel (and the Sanhedrin personally!)

10.) collaboration of the Sanhedrin with Pilate in arresting, trying and executing Jesus.

11.) troops sent to do the arresting.

12.) the arrest occurs on Olivet.

13.) some violence occurs during the arrest.

14.) a verdict of ‘innocent’ from Pilate, who makes efforts to release Jesus.

15.) Pilate’s wife being somehow influential in Pilate’s efforts to free Jesus. (Only found in GosMatt among the canonical Gospels.)

16.) the Sanhedrin being jealous of Jesus.

17.) the Sanhedrin bribing someone.

18.) the bribery involves 30 units of silver.

19.) Pilate eventually agreeing to the wishes of the Sanhedrin, against his own previous judgment.

20.) Pilate disassociating himself somehow from the execution.

21.) crucifixion being the execution.

22.) the Sanhedrin’s actions in the execution being somehow contrary to their own laws.

23.) there are multiple trials before Pilate.

24.) neither the TS nor the Gospels call the disciples of Jesus “Christians” (unlike the TF), even though the Gospels do expect his followers to be connected to his name somehow.

Obviously, quite a few more direct similarities there, compared to the TF! However, on examination the details show no specific borrowing from particular texts; which is peculiar for a very late Christian interpolation (though far from impossible of course).


At the same time, the differences in these similarities, not to say the absolute differences, are notable, too. Similar-differences:

1.) Jesus regularly touches people in the Gospel accounts, including for healing. In the TS he touches no one.

2.) Jesus is suspected of being one or another prophet returned in the Gospels, but not suspected of being Moses returned, even though comparisons with Moses (and even a guest cameo during the Transfiguration!) are far from lacking.

3.) Jesus’ disciple group is reckoned at 150 in the TS instead of 70 or 72 (much less 12.)

4.) The proto-Zealot problem is mostly dealt with in the Gospels before Jesus’ final week near Jerusalem, even though some of the things Jesus does that week, including the Triumphal Entry, might be construed as anti-proto-Zealot (entering on a donkey’s foal instead of on a horse, for example), and even though there are hints of proto-Zealot expectations among the apostles up until the arrest. But the TS has people still agitating explicitly for a military uprising on the slopes of Olivet during the grand finale. The Sanhedrin is worried about a popular uprising in various ways in the Gospels (especially GosJohn, where they fear military reprisal from Rome), but no Gospel reports any popular uprising happening. (In story terms, this would probably be because the Sanhedrin acted quickly enough to get Jesus on a cross early Friday morning, nipping any potential rebellious support for Jesus in the bud. No militaristic zealot would follow a man cursed by God to die on a tree; certainly that man could not be the Messiah!)

5.) The Gospels record a lot of Jesus' public teaching and healing, although not on Olivet per se (some private teaching yes, but public teaching no). The TS however does, and even though it doesn't give details the reference isn't incidental -- it's connected to why the people are staging an uprising on Mount Olive.

6.) The wording of the Sanhedrin’s political worries of Roman reprisal is quite different (even if substantially similar in content).

7.) None of the Gospels explicitly involve Pilate’s aid in the arrest of Jesus, though it certainly makes the most historical sense to expect him to have been alerted for a quick trial the next morning. (The Roman cohort members sent with the arresting party in GosJohn would imply Pilate's early alert and cooperation, but the author doesn't make the connection explicit--possibly because in his story he would have no way to explain why Pilate turns around unexpectedly Friday morning and tries to defend Jesus. That explanation is left to GosMatt alone -- and to the TS, yet still somewhat differently!)

8.) Unlike the TS, where soldiers sent by Pilate kill many of the multitude on Olivet (in an admittedly Pilate-esque fashion!), the arrest in the Gospels ends with one relatively minor wound (healed by Jesus) and the scattering of a much smaller band of disciples (the Apostles and some extras).

9.) Pilate’s verdict of innocence is more strongly positive in the TS. The Gospels don’t have Pilate acquiting Jesus with the technical compliment “benefactor”, even though the history of Jesus’ policy in his Gospel ministry might have earned him that ruling.

10.) The reasons of Pilate’s wife for wanting to free Jesus are different. A dream-warning in GosMatt; gratitude for healing in the TS. Moreover, the gratitude in the TS is Pilate’s, for Claudia having been healed; Pilate has no affinity for Jesus in any of the Gospels. (His wife is unnamed either in the TS or in GosMatt, but known in independent witnesses as the Imperial nobelwoman Claudia Procula and verified to have been at least within writing distance.)

11.) The Sanhedrin in the TS bribes Pilate, not Judas Iscariot, who isn’t mentioned (nor any of the apostles). The lack of Judas Iscariot in a pious insertion meant (per the interpolation theory) to be instructive to allied kings and their noblemen, is very strange.

12.) The monetary figure is talents in the TS, not silver coins--talents (i.e. talantons, the heaviest weight of silver) being a bribe far more appropriate for a Roman governor. (Talantons are mentioned in the Gospels but not for that purpose.)

13.) Despite some odd wording in the Gospel accounts, Jesus isn’t really delivered over to the Sanhedrin for execution by crucifixion. The Romans do it, just as would be historically expected.

14.) Even though the scriptural testimony might reasonably add up to such a christological (and anti-docetic) conclusion, it isn’t spelled out as at the beginning of the TS. (Although the TS does stop short of regarding Jesus as God Incarnate, much less as the 2nd Person of God Incarnate. So far as it goes, it might be an high-Arian yet still non-docetic Jesus: the incarnation of a created but supremely powerful and authoritative super-angel.)


There are relatively few outright differences in the TS, compared to the Gospels, with the most obvious and most important being:

1.) In the TS, Jesus is outright released by Pilate, to return to Olivet and continue teaching and healing!--which he does! Nevertheless, he still ends up being formally condemned to die by Pilate, just as in the Gospels.

2.) The Gospels, like the TF, but not the TS, go on to note that Jesus keeps his disciples after his execution. (GosMark being the obvious exception, but the account ends in a weird fashion there; and the disciples are expected to keep going.)

3.) The Gospels (including GosMark, by preparatory expectation), like the TF (or the rec’d version anyway), but not the TS, explain why Jesus continued having Messianic disciples after his execution: they believed he had been raised alive and that they had met him in that state.


What to make of all this? Is there anything reasonable to even speculatively make from all this?!

Supposing for sake of hypothesis that the TS represents some kind of report of a prior text original to Josephus, what could we expect it to look like?

a.) it would look like the (obviously related) TF to some substantial degree;

b.) it would not contain materials foreign to Josephus’ interests and/or beliefs;

c.) if it had any relation to the context of the TF at all, it would be evidence of how the Sanhedrin and Pilate were incompetent and/or tyrannical.

What are Josephus’ motives? Well, we can be reasonably sure that he isn’t interested in defending orthodox Christology! (Nor some kind of high Arian Christology for that matter.) So we can test removing those and see how coherent things look without them. Ditto maybe the working of power without touching anyone, which could be a brief docetic addition. (But it could also reflect a distinction between Jesus acting with spoken authority and other wonder workers using spells and cantrips or at least invocations for other agents to act.) We have no evidence elsewhere that Josephus is familiar with Gospel texts directly; but as it happens the TS doesn’t betray any specific familiarity with Gospel texts, either: whenever narrative borrowing might be suspected, the details turn out to be notably different. We can expect Josephus to be trying to blame the Sanhedrin and Pilate for bad government of the Jews, although if he gives Pilate a bit of credit as a duly appointed Roman governor that might not be too implausible (especially if it somehow makes Jesus look good to the Romans). If he gives any credit to the Sanhedrin at all, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was done in some fashion that flattered the Romans. Josephus would like for his patrons to respect the Jewish religion, and thus also Jewish prophets and teachers, despite the debacle of the Jewish War and its obviously religious roots. Relatedly, he would not be expected to affirm the Messiahship of anyone he’s trying to present in a relatively positive light to his patrons. (But the TS, quite notably, doesn’t have any of that anyway.)

Putting those principles into play, keeping what fits from the TS, and eliminating what doesn’t, we may arrive at the following reconstruction -- phrases I’m on the fence about including, according to the proposed criteria, will be {fancy bracketed like this}:

At that time there appeared a certain man. {Everything that he performed through an invisible power he worked by word and command.} Some said, “Our first lawgiver is risen from the dead, and he has displayed signs and wonders.” But others thought that he was sent from God. In many respects, however, he opposed the Law and he did not keep the Sabbath according to the custom of our forefathers. Yet he did nothing shameful. {He did nothing with his hands, but with his word alone.} Many of the common people followed him and paid heed to his teaching. Many men’s minds were stirred, for they thought that through him the Jewish tribes could free themselves from the power of Rome. It was his custom to stay outside the city on the Mount of Olives. There he wrought cures for the people. A hundred and fifty assistants joined him, and a multitude of the populace. {When they saw his power, and his ability to accomplish by a word whatever he desired,} they communicated to him their will that he should enter the city, cut down the Roman troops and Pilate, and reign over them; but he would not listen to them. When news of this was brought to the Jewish leaders, they assembled along with the high priest and said: “We are too powerless and weak to resist the Romans. But since the bow is bent, we will go and tell Pilate what we have heard, and then we shall avoid trouble; for if he hears of it from others we shall be robbed of our goods and we shall be slaughtered and our children dispersed.” So they went and told Pilate. Pilate sent soldiers who killed many of the multitude. The miracle-worker was brought before him, and after he held an inquiry concerning him, he pronounced judgment as follows: “He is a benefactor, he is no criminal, no rebel, no seeker after kingship.” So he released him, for he had healed his wife when she was dying. He went back to his usual place and did his customary works. Even more people gathered round him, and he gained even more glory by his acts. The scribes were stung with envy, and they gave Pilate thirty talents to kill him. He took it and gave them liberty to carry out their will. So they seized him and crucified him, contrary to the law of their fathers.

As can be seen, a lot remains!--even if the few places where I’m fence-straddling are taken out, too.


What are the basic composition options? Exhaustively these would seem to be:

Option 1.) This represents something actually written by Josephus, with minimal subsequent touchup. If so...

Opt 1.1.) ...the material was original to The Jewish War, perhaps an early draft, which survived in the Byzantine archives. On this theory, Josephus marked it for omission before sending his notes to the scribes for reproduction, but ended up putting a much shorter, less detailed (and less colorful) version in the Antiquities later.

Opt 1.2.)...the material was original to Antiquities, but was marked out by Josephus to be replaced with the shorter (presumably non-interpolated) version as scribal reproduction instructions. On this theory the original draft survived as a treasure in Constantinople, and an enterprising scribe, not wanting to lose them, inserted them into an early Old Slavonic copy of The Jewish War.

These variant theories would explain why the version was never transmitted: Josephus didn't want it to be included (or not in this form), and the original draft (either way) would be a treasure seen by few. Also, the strong differences in this version compared to the Gospel material would disincline pious scribes from wanting to juice up either text by re-including it. Still, it must be acknowledged that on any theory a Christian scribe did certainly include the material found in this Slavonic copy of Josephus. Why he would bother to do so is a difficult guess on any theory.

Option 2.) This represents someone attempting to forge an entry by Josephus, and succeeding reasonably well at it--the orthodox theology portions would have to be considered very late interpolations in any case, but for this option they would involve at least one, maybe more interpolations beyond the original forgery (as the Slavonic text was copied and recopied freshly during the Christology disputes of the period). Why a scribe (Christian or otherwise, orthodox or otherwise) would even want to forge an entry at all, with the kinds of details found (and not found!) in the non-interpolated version, is anyone's guess.


Each of these hypotheses has several corollary options, which would have to be considered. But an important element to the analysis (for any practical result), would be how feasibly any hypothesis-set can fit into a largescale historical theory that effectively deals with the known (not merely hypothetical) data.

Which, unfortunately, is somewhat beyond my own competency on the topic. However, this does provide a direction for further analysis someday.

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