Abstract: There is little consensus as to the historical nature of the sect identified by Tacitus in Annales 15.44 as the Christiani. Nor is there any firm consensus on the authenticity and historicity of all of that fragment known as Tacitus’ fragment 2 (= Sulpicius Severus Chronica 2.30.6-7), whose references to “Christiani” are widely suspected of being later Christian interpolations. Much of this fragment is thought, nevertheless, to be from the lost portion of the fifth book of Tacitus’ Historiae.
A solution can be found to both of these problems by adducing from fragment 2 new evidence indicating that this fragment indeed represents a primary historical source. This new evidence takes the form of the discovery of a significant statistical relationship among the following three words: (1) The metaphor stirps (branch, descendants) used to describe the Christiani in fragment 2, (2) and (3) NazwraîoV and NazarhnóV (Nazorean), describing the New Testament sect associated with the Cristianoì of Acts 11.26. The connecting link among, as well as the common source for, the three words_listed above appears to be the Hebrew netser (branch, descendants — apparently influenced by Isa 11.1), which both translates into stirps and transliterates into NazwraîoV/NazarhnóV.
It is mathematically extremely unlikely that this link with netser represents a random coincidence. Also, it appears that a later Christian redactor of fragment 2 or his target audience would not have known of this connection. Because of this and other contextual explanations, the possibility is largely eliminated that fragment 2 could have been significantly redacted by a later Christian. We are thus left with the substantial probability that this fragment constitutes a primary historical source, most likely via Tacitus. In turn this source supplies us with a probable solution to the problem of the Christiani’s identity by depicting them in fragment 2 as being major participants in the first Jewish revolt against Rome in 66-73 CE.
In the well-known section of Annales 15.44, Tacitus refers unmistakably to “Christiani.” We shall presently take a fresh look at another passage thought to be at least partly Tacitean and which also mentions a sect called “Christiani.” In so doing, this will demonstrate how much historical data can be successfully concealed in one brief passage. As will be seen, when it comes to these “Christiani,” things are not at all as they have seemed. The second passage in question is commonly known as Tacitus’ fragment 2, much of which is generally considered to have once been part of the now lost portion of the fifth book of Tacitus’ Historiae. Fragment 2 was preserved by the Christian historian Sulpicius Severus in his Chronica 2.30.6-7 (ca. 400-403 CE).
This fragment will enable us to demonstrate who the Christiani really were, and, as we shall see, they were not Christians. Here as elsewhere in this paper I am using “Christians” (as opposed to “Christiani”), “Christianity,” and “the Church” to refer to the Pauline version only.
The present study demonstrates that frag. 2 is a primary historical source that in all probability correctly identifies frag. 2’s “Christiani” as the Latin name for a group of major participants in the first Jewish revolt against Rome of 66-73 CE. In addition, we shall see that the Hebrew name for at least a portion, if not all, of this group was probably “Netsarim” (Nazoreans).
Let us now turn to frag. 2 and see why it shows the Christiani to have been major opponents of the Romans. This fragment gives the details of the debate within a high-level military council of war called by the Roman army commander Titus just prior to the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in Jerusalem in 70, near the end of the first Jewish revolt against Rome. The debate was over whether or not the Roman army should destroy the Temple. For our purposes here, the last half of frag. 2 (= Severus’ Chronica 2.30.7) is the most relevant because it specifically mentions “Christiani”:
(2.30.6) It is reported that Titus first deliberated, by summoning a council of war, as to whether to destroy a Temple of such workmanship. For it seemed proper to some that a consecrated Temple, distinguished above all that is human, should not be destroyed, as it would serve as a witness to Roman moderation; whereas its destruction would represent a perpetual brand of cruelty.
(2.30.7) But others, on the contrary, disagreed — including Titus himself. They argued that the destruction of the Temple was a number one priority in order to destroy completely the religion [per Severus. Tacitus or another classical author would have used the word superstitio (alien religious belief). Compare Hist. 5.8 and Ann. 15.44 (exitiabilis superstitio)] of the Jews and the Christiani: For although these religions [i.e., superstitiones] are conflicting, they nevertheless developed from the same origins. The Christiani arose from the Jews: With the root removed, the branch [stirps] is easily killed.
fertur Titus adhibito consilio prius deliberasse, an templum tanti operis everteret. etenim nonnullis videbatur, aedem sacratam ultra omnia mortalia illustrem non oportere deleri, quae servata modestiae Romanae testimonium, diruta perennem crudelitatis notam praeberet. at contra alii et Titus ipse evertendum in primis templum censebant, quo plenius Iudaeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur: quippe has religiones, licet contrarias sibi, isdem tamen abr auctoribus profectas; Christianos ex Iudaeis extitisse: radice sublata stirpem facile perituram. C. Halm, ed., Sulpicii Severi libri qui supersunt, CSEL, vol. 1 (Vienna, 1866). Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are my own.
The discovery that the Christian historian Severus took most of frag. 2 from a now-lost portion of Tacitus’ Historiae was first made in 1861 when Jacob Bernays published his seminal study
For more recent commentary on frag. 2, see Brian W. Jones, The Emperor Titus (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984) 54-5; Yochanan H. Lewy [Johanan Hans Levy], Studies in Jewish Hellenism (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1960) 190-4 [Hebrew]; T. D. Barnes, “The Fragments of Tacitus’ Histories,”Classical Philology 72, no. 3 (1977) 224-31; G. K. van Andel, The Christian Concept of History in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1976) 33-4, 43-8, 51-2; Hugh Montefiore, “Sulpicius Severus and Titus’ Council of War,” Historia 11 (1962) 156-70; Arnaldo Momigliano, “Jacob Bernays,” Mededelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, afd. letterkunde, n.s., 32, no. 5 (1969) 151-78, esp. 167; Flaminio Ghizzoni, Sulpicio Severo (Rome: Bulzoni, 1983) 207-9; and André Lavertujon, La Chronique de Sulpice Sévère, vol. 2 (Paris, 1899) 69, 394-400. demonstrating that the fragment is reasonably Tacitean in style. He also showed it is apparently fairly accurate historically,
Nevertheless, a number of writers have expressed the opinion that the last half of frag. 2 with its references to “Christiani” represents in large part a “Christianizing” redaction by either Sulpicius Severus himself or some other later Christian.
In any event, however, a straightforward reading of the last half of frag. 2 supports the view that the Romans considered destroying the Temple in an attempt to cripple Judaism and eliminate the base of operations of a group known as “Christiani.” If we accept frag. 2 as a primary historical source (and as we shall presently see, this course of action is logically justifiable), there can be no doubt that the Christiani were a Jewish group who, along with those referred to as “the Jews,” were major participants in the first Jewish revolt against Rome. These Christiani are also distinguished in frag. 2 from those who were presumably, from the Roman perspective at least, more normative Jews: the Christiani and “the Jews,” though on the same side against the Romans, are depicted as having religious beliefs that are conflicting. According to frag. 2 then the Christiani were major participants in the war and Titus burned the Temple primarily to destroy them by crippling Judaism – thus destroying the Christiani’s base of operations in Israel.
This point of view in frag. 2 is consistent with the other extant references by classical Roman historians to “Christiani” of the Second Temple period. We may note Tacitus’ description in Annales 15.44 of the “Christiani’s” superstitio as dangerous (exitiabilis), sinister (atrocia), an evil (malum), etc. and Suetonius’ portrayal of the “Christiani” in Nero 16.2 as following a “new and dangerous [malefica] superstitio.”
There are a number of arguments that demonstrate frag. 2 to be a primary historical source. The first of these points was made by Bernays and others; the rest are new to this study. This paper will focus on the more relevant portion of the fragment, the second half. Here then is the criticism, primarily literary/statistical, in favor of the classification of frag. 2 as a primary historical source:
1. The second half of frag. 2, like the first, is reasonably Tacitean in style. This is particularly true with respect to (A) quippe used instead of nam before the expression of explanatory and contrasting opinions in a subordinate sentence,
2. The clear impression given in frag. 2 of the “Christiani” as opponents of the Romans is even more strongly reinforced by something Bernays did not mention. There can be little doubt the Roman general staff under Titus is portrayed in the final part of frag. 2 (“…they nevertheless developed from the same origins. The Christiani arose from the Jews: With the root removed, the branch [stirps] is easily killed”; see note 1 above) as quoting from Isa 11.1 in describing frag. 2’s “Christiani” by using the Latin word stirps (branch, descendants), one of whose Hebrew equivalents from Isa 11.1 (Heb./Aram., netser) just happens to transliterate into the two names (NazwraîoV and NazarhnóV [i.e., “Nazorean”]) in the Greek New Testament for what would have been, to Severus or any other later Christian redactor, virtually the same sect as “Christiani.” As will be shown, the odds of this being a random coincidence are so remote (along with the likelihood Severus or his readers would even have been aware of this connection) that as a result we may virtually eliminate Severus as the primary source for most of the last half of frag 2.
As will be shown more clearly, frag. 2’s “Christiani” are portrayed, after Isa 11.1, as a “branch” of Jesse — father of David — growing out of Jesse’s Jewish “roots” (radix).
Stirps would have been a good choice in frag. 2 with which to translate netser from Isa 11.1 since each of these substantives meant both “branch” and “descendants” (in this case, presumably, of David).
The branch metaphor in frag. 2, stirps, is one of relatively few Latin words with a Hebrew equivalent (netser) that can be transliterated into “NazwraîoV” (Matt 2.23, 26.71, Luke 18.37, John 18.5, 7, 19.19, Acts 2.22, 3.6, 4.10, 6.14, 22.8, 24.5, 26.9) and “NazarhnóV” (Mark 1.24, 10.47, 14.67, 16.6, Luke 4.34, 24.19) – two words describing the sect that is associated also with the New Testament’s “Christiani” (“Cristianoí”: Acts 11.26). The first three Semitic consonants of netser can be transliterated into the first three Greek consonants of either NazwraîoV or NazarhnóV.
These few Semitic words (from biblical Hebrew, Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, and Talmudic Aramaic [the latter included for reasons given below]) containing only the consonants N-TS-R or N-Z-R are listed as follows, together with all their known meanings: (1) From the Hebrew, by root (see Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon; also James H. Charlesworth, Graphic Concordance to the Dead Sea Scrolls [Tübingen: J. C. B Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1991]): nezer (crown; a priest’s miter [Lev 8.9]; [a woman’s] hair; a consecration [Lev 21.12]; a Nazirite’s consecrated hair [Num 6.19]; a separation [Num 6. 8, 12, 13]), nazir (one consecrated or crowned [e.g., a prince, ruler, etc.]; a Nazirite; an untrimmed vine [like the Nazarite’s untrimmed hair – see Lev 25.5, 11]), natsar (one who watches; the preserved [of Israel – see Isa 49.6]); a secret thing [Isa 48.6]; a secret place [Isa 65.4]; the besieged [Ezek 6.12]; a besieger [Jer 4.16]; those observing [Torah: Ps 119.2, Prov 28.17]; one tending [a fig tree – Prov 27.18]; one who is crafty [Prov 7.10]), and netser (branch; shoot; descendants). (2) From the Aramaic (see Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature [1903; repr., New York: Pardes, 1950]; also Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period [Ramat-Gan, Israel: Bar Ilan Univ. Press, 1990]): Notseri (a Christian or Nazorean [= Lat., Christianus; see note 17 below]), nezirah (a nobleman; a Nazarite’s vow), Nezirah (a man’s name [Gen Rab. 12.6, etc.]), natsir (a fetus), netser (a cricket; willow), and nitsrah (a wicker basket).
I have eliminated Semitic meanings that are duplicative. For the statistical reasons, see below. There are thus a total of only 29 distinct meanings of Semitic words that could have been transliterated into either “NazwraîoV” or “NazarhnóV.”
The odds of this verbal relationship among stirps, netser, and NazwraîoV/NazarhnóV being a coincidence can be calculated mathematically roughly as follows: Working backwards from the Greek “NazwraîoV” and “NazarhnóV” (the end results of the putative transliterations), we have already noted above the 29 different meanings of the only Semitic words this author is aware of that could conceivably have been transliterated into the two Greek words in question. If we then make the very generous assumption that for each of the 29 Semitic meanings there were as many as 10 nouns in Latin which could originally have expressed each meaning, we arrive at a total figure of 290 (= 29 x 10) Latin nouns that could originally have been used to express these 29 Semitic meanings by the Roman general staff (or a later redactor of frag. 2). Thus, in theory any one of these 290 Latin nouns could have been chosen randomly as a metaphor for the Christiani by the Romans or a later redactor and still given us Semitic translations that could ultimately have been transliterated into NazwraîoV and NazarhnóV. We are assuming here for the sake of argument that the Romans or a later redactor picked their “Christiani” metaphor completely at random — and not with any preexisting knowledge of the Christiani’s Semitic name, if any. All we have to do at this point then is divide 290 by the total number of nouns in the Latin language to obtain the probability of the Romans or anyone else having randomly arrived at a metaphor which happened to correctly transliterate ultimately into the two Greek names for the sect the New Testament also associates with the “Christiani” of Acts.
To simplify this calculation and at the same time ensure reasonable accuracy, we shall eliminate from consideration all Latin proper nouns, since these refer mainly to people and places outside of Israel and it is most unlikely the Christiani would have chosen their Semitic name, if any, from such a list (for the effect of this on our calculation, see below). Therefore, we shall consider only Latin common nouns. An estimate based on a representative sampling of common nouns from the Oxford Latin Dictionary (1982) indicates there were approximately 18,000 common nouns in Latin. This gives us, therefore, an estimated probability of randomness in this case of 290 divided by 18,000, or 1.61%. Subtracting this fraction from 100% to obtain a probability of non-randomness gives us 98.39%.
It is quite possible, of course, that some first-century Semitic words and meanings that are unknown to us today have been inadvertently omitted from this analysis. In the present author’s opinion, however, this particular problem has been more than adequately compensated for by the very generous use of 10 Latin common nouns for every Semitic meaning as well as the inclusion of Semitic words and meanings from Talmudic Aramaic. In addition, the failure to consider the use of metaphors or similes involving Latin proper nouns (see above) may also understate the probability of non-randomness — by drastically limiting the total number of Latin words under consideration to just 18,000.
In any event, the overall results indicate a probability of non-randomness well within the range of statistical significance (i.e., > 95%). Q.E.D.
There is a statistical relationship here that is almost certainly not random. This virtually eliminates Severus or another later Christian as the source for this material since a later Christian redactor almost certainly could not have arrived at the choice of stirps simply by accident, as we have seen. Nor probably would Severus (or another later Christian) even have known anything of this verbal relationship. Furthermore, had he known, writing about it in such an utterly oblique way would have been pointless; his readers would not for the most part have understood the connection. This can be inferred by the absence of references to it in Christian and other literature.
Thus, by process of elimination we are almost certainly left with a classical source, probably Tacitus (see above at note 4), for frag. 2, demonstrating that frag. 2 is in all likelihood a primary historical source. In addition, since frag. 2 is probably Tacitean, its Christiani can now probably be identified with the Christiani of Tacitus’ Annales 15.44.
3. Moreover, in Rom 11.16-24 Paul seems to derive from the Hodayot of the Dead Sea
Scrolls (1QH 14.14-17, 15.18-19, 16.4-11) a root-branch metaphor that originally compared the Qumran community to a tree or planting established by God. All three of these passages from the Hodayot employ netser and thus all were apparently influenced in turn by the parallel Isa 60.21 (one of only four passages in the Hebrew Bible to contain netser), and perhaps Isa 11.1 as well.
4. To the extent that Severus or any other later Christian may have redacted the second half of frag. 2 by Christianizing it, he would have had to mimic successfully Tacitus’ style and vocabulary. This would have had to be done with sufficient expertise to deceive both people in his own time who were fluent in Latin and future generations of scholars (see note 4 above). But in so doing, the redactor would have risked exposure by his contemporaries because the complete Historiae were still extant during the early fifth century.
For this reason it is almost equally unlikely that Severus would have, had he possessed any caution at all, (1) inadvertently or subconsciously copied Tacitus’ style in the second part of frag. 2 or (2) consciously attempted to interpolate just one or two of the passage’s key words – such as “Christiani” — while leaving the others relatively undisturbed. Furthermore, any such hypothetical interpolations of “Christiani” into frag. 2 would almost certainly had to have been made before 418 CE when the entire fifth book of Tacitus’ Historiae was still available (see note 22 above). This follows from the fact that in his parallel account of Titus’ destruction of the Temple in Hist. adv. Pag. 7.9.4-6 (ca. 418) Paulus Orosius almost certainly emulated but Christianized the wording of the last half of frag. 2 by changing “Christiani” to “Ecclesia Dei” and “stirps” to “germinante.”
Having largely ruled out Severus or another Christian as the source for the last half of frag. 2, let us note that the classical author of this fragment, presumably Tacitus, was a historian or eyewitness observer who was in all likelihood accurately quoting the majority opinion of the Roman general staff; an opinion in this case involving a description of the Christiani as a “branch” that exactly matches the opinion of all the various authors of the canonical Gospels writing in Greek, and which is therefore almost certainly not a random coincidence. We have a number of sources who appear to have had the same very particular idea about the Christiani as a “branch.” Since it is obvious that the Roman generals during the first Jewish revolt did not get their ideas from the Gospels and since it is also unlikely that the authors of the Gospels would have turned primarily to historical accounts of the Roman generals for subtle suggestions as to what to call the Nazoreans, then it is clear all parties must have derived their information on netser from a common source. This source must have been a very reliable one, or the Roman general staff would not have used it in any form at their high-level meeting. Surely the Romans would have known the proper names of their enemies. The alternative would be too fantastic. Ultimately, this reliable common source could only have been the Christiani’s actual Semitic name, derived from netser. This name in Hebrew would have been, presumably, “Netsarim” (i.e., Nazoreans), that is to say, “followers of the branch (= descendant) of David.”
It may also be noted that in Isa 60.21 (see above) the branch (netser) God plants represents the righteous of Israel. Thus, the name “Netsarim” would most likely have carried the additional meaning in Hebrew (a meaning presumably grasped and perhaps even implied in frag. 2 by the Roman high command) describing those who belonged to this “big branch,” i.e., the Christiani (see also Lewy, Jewish Hellenism, 192).
As to what else the Roman general staff might have meant by their root-branch metaphor in frag. 2, Lewy provides several examples in Jewish Hellenism (192-3) of the words stirpitus, radicitus, and exstirpare used to describe the uprooting of foreign religions by the Romans. However, to the best knowledge of this author, the explicit use of a root-and-branch metaphor in its entirety is to be found nowhere else in classical literature other than in frag. 2 and is otherwise unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition. This provides additional evidence that the Roman general staff’s precise choice of metaphor in frag. 2 was influenced by the Jewish culture in which they found themselves and in particular, as has been demonstrated by the statistical inferences above, by the distinctive Semitic name and identity of their opponents.
As we have seen, a straightforward reading of the last half of frag. 2 supports the view that the Romans considered destroying the Temple in an attempt to cripple Judaism and eliminate the base of operations of a Jewish group they called “Christiani.” The Christiani must have been major participants in the revolt against Rome in order to have had the Roman general staff focus on them and destroy the Temple. The razing of the Temple could only have been justified by Titus’ council of war, with its keen eye on history and public opinion, if this action would have undermined Rome’s main opponents in Israel. The destruction of the Temple can also be seen in this light as an extension of the tortures inflicted on the Christiani six years earlier by Nero in Rome, as described by Tacitus in Ann. 15.44.
This construction of frag. 2 also harmonizes with the meaning of the name “Christiani” given in Ann. 15.44 as describing the ideological supporters of a certain Christus, executed several decades earlier by Pontius Pilate in Judea. The name “Christus” refers presumably to “the anointed one [of God],” i.e., the king of Israel. (Justin Dial. 86; Tertullian Apol. 3.5; Ad nat. 1.3; Adv. Prax. 28; Lactantius Inst. 4.7.4; and Elias J. Bickerman, “The Name of Christians,” HTR 42 (1949) 109-24, esp. 119 (repr., Studies in Jewish and Christian History, vol. 3 [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986] 139-51): “…’Christus’ is, of course, a literal…rendering of the Hebrew Mashiah (Aramaic: Meshiah), meaning ‘Anointed’…” See, e.g., Ps 2.2, 2 Sam 22.51, etc.) Tacitus describes Christus as “the source for the [Christiani’s] name” (auctor nominis eius).(Ann. 15.44. “The formation of such a name from ‘Christus’ is in accordance with late Latin usage (cp. ‘Augustiani’ [Ann.] 14.15,8, ‘Tertullianus,’ etc.)…,” Henry Furneaux, ed., Cornelii Taciti: Annalium ab excessu Divi Augusti libri [The Annals of Tacitus], vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1891) 528. Cf. esp. the parallel “Caesariani”: C. Spicq, “Ce que signifie le titre de chrétien,” Studia Theologica 15, no. 1 (1961) 68-78, esp. 74-5. See also Harold B. Mattingly, “The Origin of the Name Christiani,” JTS, n.s., 9 (1958) 26-37; J. le Coultre, “De l’étymologie du mot chrétien,” Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie 40 (1907), 188-96, esp. 188-90; Bickerman, “Name of Christians,” 109-24; and Henry J. Cadbury, “Names for Christians and Christianity in Acts,” in F. J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, eds., The Beginnings of Christianity. Part I: The Acts of the Apostles, vol. 5 (1933; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979) 375-92, esp. 383-6. Pauline Christians would arguably have been regarded as the followers of the resurrected: Baruch Lifshitz, “L’origine du nom des chrétiens,” VC 16 (1962) 65-70.) Thus, the meaning of “Christiani” in Latin parallels the first definition of “Netsarim” given above, as referring to the followers of Isa 11.1’s royal branch of David. The extant evidence suggests, however, that after the overwhelming defeat of Israel and the Jewish resistance in the 70’s the name “Christiani” was used largely to designate Pauline Christians (Pliny Ep. 10.96-97; Ignatius Rom. 3.2; Martyrdom of Polycarp 10.1, etc.), who had presumably stepped into the historical vacuum left by the decimation of the earlier Jewish Christiani.
We are now in a position to adduce some additional evidence demonstrating that stirps (= netser) in frag. 2 leads us to Isa 11.1: (1) Isa 11.1 is the one primary reference in ancient Jewish literature to use netser in a way most consistent with both the warlike context and the root-branch metaphor in frag. 2. Compare the three other uses of netser in the Hebrew Bible: Isa 14.19, 60.21, and Dan 11.7. (2) It is quite likely that a Jewish group as Temple-based as the Christiani would have received their Semitic name from the Hebrew Bible. (3) On 17 of the 18 occasions in which Tacitus uses stirps elsewhere in his works he refers to descendants or descent, particularly royal or noble.
The Christiani’s Judaism most likely included, as may be deduced in part from their founder’s title of Christus, a messianic/royalist component. Tacitus reports in Ann. 15.44 that their teachings had spread as far as Rome: exitiabilis superstitio rursum erumpebat…per urbem etiam (“…the dangerous superstitio broke out again…throughout Rome also”). It was the Empire’s opposition to the Christiani’s teachings that explains Titus’ proposal in frag. 2 to destroy not only the Christiani themselves (the “branch” of Judaism) but the Temple that in his view sustained their belief in monotheism and their anti-Romanism. The Romans felt that as long as the Temple stood those who stood against Rome were assured of a rallying point (Josephus Bell. 6.239).
In conclusion, out of all the myriads of different metaphors utilizing substantives which anyone, whether Roman general or later Christian redactor, could have employed to describe the Christiani in frag. 2, the branch metaphor just happens to match up, via netser, with (1) the identical sounding Greek words for “Nazorean” in the New Testament for what would have been virtually the same sect as “Christiani” to a Christian redactor and (2) what appears strongly therefore to be a parody of Isa 11.1, implicitly containing netser, embedded in frag. 2. This entire correlation is further confirmed by a consistent tradition in other sources (Rom 1.3, Justin Dial. 86-87, b. Sanh. 43a, etc.) linking the Nazoreans to Isa 11.1. Since under the given circumstances the odds that all these phenomena are a coincidence are extraordinarily low, it is clear that frag. 2 is too highly detailed to have been substantially redacted by a later Christian. It thus represents almost certainly a primary historical source, probably via Tacitus, portraying the Christiani as a major Jewish group acting in opposition to Rome and in defense of Israel.