John Keba wrote:
> Hello all,
> I am new to the list. I learned of it from Prof. Mark Goodacre of
> Duke, who suggested that I might find an answer to a question that has
> been bothering me for some time. I am not an academic, so my resources
> are limited, and this does seem to be a list on which I can find an
> answer; Professor Gibson was kind enough to approve my request to join.
> In the "Life of Augustus," Suetonius wrote about the divine
> impregnation of Augustus' mother by Apollo in the form of a serpent, a
> story which he states came from the Theologumena of Asclepias of Mendes.
> At least one Historical Jesus scholar has claimed that this is the
> source of Luke's account of Mary's conception. But as you all know,
> Seutonius wrote the Lives decades after the generally held dating of
> Luke; the question becomes then, when was the Theologumena of
> Asclepias written?
First of all, you may wish to note that it is not so certain that Suetonius did
write decades after Luke. Richard Pervo and others are making a strong case for
seeing Luke as dating from around 110-120. If so, then it's not so far fetched
to say that what Suetonius "knew" and was passing on about Augustus was something
that "Luke" would also have known or even that Luke knew of Suetonius' works.
Secondly, the issue is not "would Luke have known Suetonius?", but "would Luke
have known the tale told by Asclepias?" (and BTW, also by Dio Cassius in his
History of Rome [45 1.2-2.4]).
Asclepias was a contemporary of Augustus and to my knowledge he wrote his
Theologumena before Augustus died (14 CE). (Does anyone here have access to the
PW?) So his story of Augutus'/Octavian's divine conception was in circulation for
some time before Luke or Suetonius.
Third, as I have been informed by Ulrich Schmitzer on the Classics List, some
scholars (e.g. Binder, Aeneas und Augustus,1971, 252f.) think that
the epigram by Domitius Marsus (Epigr. Bob. 39f. [Munari] from 43/42
BCE -- ante omnes alias felix tamen hoc ego dicor / sive hominem femina peperi
sive deum) has the same focus as the stories told by Asclepias and Dio Cassius.
If so, the theme was part of Augustus' legend **before** the traditional date of
the writing of Luke.
But why not ask your question of Dom himself (whom I presume is the HJ scholar you
refer to above). He may be reached at:
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.