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THE HISTORIAN THALLUS (2nd cent. BC-2nd c. AD) Question on Dating His Writing

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Thallus was an ancient Greek scholar who wrote Histories in three volumes. In one passage in his Histories, he described an event of darkness that he labeled or dismissed as an eclipse. Julius Africanus, the 2nd-3rd century Christian writer, said that he was talking about the darkness at Jesus' death. In other known passages by Thallus, Thallus says that certain mythical figures were real life people: 



Lactantius [wrote in Latin]: "Theophilus, in a book on historical matters written to Autolycus, says that in his own history Thallus says that Belus, whom the Babylonians and Assyrians worshipped, is found to predate the Trojan War by 322 years."

Translator's Note: ... this quote shows that Thallus appeared to euhemerize myths, i.e. he found or created a naturalistic explanation for fantastic claims.


There are other numerous surviving passages where Thallus talks about legendary Greek figures like Cronus and the Titans having battles with kings only a few centuries before the battle of Troy. And Tertullian in Apologeticus writes: 


"And so, as many experts as there are in letters, neither Diodorus the Greek nor Thallus... prints that Saturn was anything but a man."

It would therefore be in the nature of Thallus' writing for Thallus to address the issue of the darkness in c.33 AD and dismiss it as a natural phenomenon.

(Question) What is the ending date for the chronology of Thallus' writings?
According to the surviving, Armenian version of Eusebius' Chronicle, Eusebius (as quoted below) wrote that Thallus collected events up to 109 BC:


From the three books of Thallus, in which he collects (events) briefly from the fall of Ilion to the 167th Olympiad.

Here is another translation:


There are fragments from the 3 books of Thallus, in which he made a summary in abbreviated fashion from the sack of Troy to the 167th Olympiad [i.e. 109 BC] (Eusebius, Chronicle, I. K125.2)

Wikipedia notes that Eusebius'


text is preserved in an Armenian translation where many of the numerals are corrupt. The fall of Troy is 1184 BC, but the editors, Petermann and Karst, highlight that the end-date of the 167th Olympiad (109 BC) is contradicted by George Syncellus, who quotes Julius Africanus, and suggest that the end-date should read "217th Olympiad" [92 AD], a change of one character in Armenian.

George Syncellus quoted Julius Africanus as saying that Thallus had written about the darkness that happened during Jesus' crucifixion. Here is the quote from Julius Africanus: 



Καθ ολου του κοσμου σκοτος επηγετο φοβερωτατον, σεισμω τε αι πετραι διερρηγνυντο και τα πολλα Ιουδαιας και της λοιπης γης κατερριφθη. τουτο το σκοτος εκλειψιν του ηλιου Θαλλος αποκαλει εν τριτη των ιστοριων, ως εμοι δοκει, αλογως. Εβραιοι γαρ αγουσι το πασχα κατα σεληνην ι̅δ̅, προ δε μιας του πασχα τα περι τον σωτηρα συμβαινει. εκλειψις δε ηλιου σεληνης υπελθουσης τον ηλιον γινεται· αδυνατον δε εν αλλω χρονω, πλην εν τω μεταξυ μιας και της προ αυτης κατα την συνοδον αυτην αποβηναι. πως ουν εκλειψις νομισθειη κατα διαμετρον σχεδον υπαρχουσης της σεληνης ηλιω; εστω δη, συναρπαζετω τους πολλους το γεγενημενον και το κοσμικον τερας ηλιου εκλειψις υπονοεισθω εν τη κατα την οψιν. ...

(A most terrible darkness fell over all the world, the rocks were torn apart by an earthquake, and many places both in Judaea and the rest of the world were thrown down. In the third book of his Histories Thallus dismisses this darkness as a solar eclipse, unreasonably, as it seems to me...)


You can read my thread about this quote from Julius Africanus here: hellenism.net/greek-forum/topic/22633-the-historian-thallus-2nd-cent-bc-2nd-c-ad-3-questions/

A date of 92 AD. would make more sense as it comes after the time of Christ.

Glenn Miller writes: "Eusebius tells us that this Thallus wrote in Greek an account of world history from the fall of Troy down to the mid-first century--c.52 CE."(http://christianthinktank.com/jrthal.html) 52 CE would be the 202nd Olympiad. Miller cites "Murray Harris, JSOTGP5:344" Unfortunately, I can't find Harris' article.

If the date in the Armenian text is correct and Thallus narrated up to the 167th Olympiad of the Greek calendar, then Africanus was likely mistaken in seeing in Thallus' words a reference to the darkness in the Passion story.


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