Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Historia Augusta, Hadrian refrences Christians, In a letter

I'm not even gonna go into the fact that the Historia Augusta's historical reliability is questionable.

The following passage is about a letter written by the Emperor Hadrian which certain Atheistic scholars use to make a certain point, please read it in context.
For the Egyptians, as you know well enough, are puffed up, madmen, boastful, doers of injury, and, in fact, liars and without restraint, always craving something new, en [sic] in their popular songs, writers of verse, makers of epigrams, astrologers, soothsayers, quacksalvers. Among them, indeed, are Christians and Samaritans and those who are always ill-pleased by the present, though enjoying unbounded liberty. But, lest any Egyptian be angry with me, thinking that what I have set forth in writing is solely my own, I will cite one of Hadrian's letters, taken from the works of his freedman Phlegon, which fully reveals the character of the Egyptians.

       From Hadrian Augustus to Servianus the consul, greeting. The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumour. There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. There is no chief of the Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Christian presbyter, who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or an anointer. Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ.
Again, make sure you've read this without any preconceived notions before I go on.

Now, here is how this is used by many modern Skeptics.

"Followers of Serapis were called Christians as demonstrated in a letter from Emperor Hadrian to Servianus, 134. (Quoted by Giles, ii p86)".

The implied message being that before Christianity even existed the word "Christian" was a term for worshipers of Serapis in Alexandria, and how that becomes a term for followers of a Jewish Messiah varies but you get the point, it's another one of those Christ Myth theories.

Now, how many people reading the above citation without any bias or preconceived notions got that from the letter itself?????

If even one person did I'd be genuinely shocked.

Hadrian is clearly criticizing the way in Alexandria various distinct Religious traditions become mixed up together. Serapians act like Christians and Christians act like Serapians. And Christians are clearly placed with the Jews and Samaritans as people whose religious laws are supposed to be against the kinds of occult activities they were engaging it.

Does it contradict what the Bible implies about our History that Christians in Alexandria were doing this? No, The Bible warms about bad doctrines already popping up before it was even finished. And the problem of Christians engaging in Pagan rites they shouldn't be is addressed in Jesus message to the Churches of Thyatira and Pergamos.  Pergamos interestingly also had a Temple to Serapis as I noted here.

I'm sure there was a remnant of good Christians in Alexandria not doing this that Hadrian wasn't aware of, but that's besides the point, it shouldn't surprise Christians at all that this went on.


  1. WOW! Thank you so much for your blog. This was a great blessing and provided much spiritual clarification. Essentially, Hadrian is highlighting the hypocrisy of Christians living in Alexandrian at the time. The Alexandrian Christians are professing to be followers of Christ, but are actually comprising their behavior and living like the pagans. This is virtually no different than what we read about the Hebrews who fell into rebellion by fellowshipping with surrounding pagan nations and compromise their spiritual integrity. Once again, thank you, this was very helpful.