Twelve Books at Herculaneum that could Change History (1 of 3)

Alike the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls & how contesting divisions of churches-academic-historians continue to debate these: here will be the sharing of more of Richard Carrier’s Twelve Books at Herculaneum (nearby Pompeii) that could Change History. In his own recent words “There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples.” continued on to explain much of it has been covered by Mount Vesuvius volcanic ash, since 79ad.

Here are the opening parts …

There is a fabulous ancient treasure still buried at Herculaneum in the Bay of Naples. It is an actual ancient library that has been locked under a veritable rock of volcanic ash since 79 A.D. It likely contains thousands of scrolls, comprising hundreds of books. As I’ll explain shortly, a few hundred were recovered in the 19th century. But many are probably still sitting there—waiting to be excavated. The reasons this hasn’t happened yet are complicated, and aren’t just financial, but political (no one can agree on priorities), though there are rumblings of late to try and go back in. What might we find if we do? I have often been asked this in interviews. Today I will spell out my answer.

The Herculaneum Library

It is important to note that this site wasn’t an actual public library. Nearly every significant city had one of those (one of the many public welfare programs of the Roman Empire and its societal regimes: see my discussion of this fact in Science Education in the Early Roman Empire, index, “libraries, public”). There was one at Pompeii. But its contents were vaporized by pyroclastic flow. The Herculaneum site is actually just the private estate of a wealthy magnate (possibly even a descendant of Calpurnius Piso himself, Julius Caesar’s father-in-law). But wealthy elites (the Elon Musks of their day) maintained impressive libraries of their own. Unlike Pompeii’s, this one was slowly cooked by falling ash and heat, leaving its books charcoal, but still otherwise intact. 

And we have the technology now to read their contents. Indeed, an official competition is now on to read the scrolls we already recovered. Some of them a century ago had been read the old-fashioned way: by smushing or breaking them into pieces and trying to puzzle our way into what was written on them. But this was inaccurate and destructive, so the process was halted; with our new and better tech, it’s back on. In actual reality we have not recovered any scrolls from the library itself. That remains unexcavated. Instead, as archaeologists dug into the courtyard of the villa in the 19th century, they found a bunch of hastily filled crates in a staging area, evidently mid-evacuation. The owner was apparently trying to ship the scrolls out last minute during the eruption, but gave up. 

We don’t know how many books they successfully made off with, or how many are still in the library; and some scrolls were accidentally destroyed by our archaeologists or their laborers. But the cache we recovered from the staging area still amounts to around 1800 papyri. That doesn’t mean 1800 scrolls (much less books; a single scroll is roughly one chapter of a book). Some 500 of that number are just charred fragments (which could belong to only a few scrolls, and in any case won’t get us even a whole chapter much less book), some 970 more are actual scrolls but so badly damaged that we won’t be able to recover their entire contents no matter what we do; and only about 340 are intact scrolls that we have a chance to fully recover. In all, this amounts to maybe 100-200 books (with 30-40 of them in recoverable condition). There were likely hundreds more. Of what we have, there is an Oxford Resource page, and an index that shows how few of these have even been identified, much less translated.

Most of what we have recovered appear to comprise one shelf in the magnate’s home library, containing numerous works of an otherwise little-known Epicurean philosopher, Philodemus of Gadara. And yes, that’s Gadara of the Gadarene swine. He hails from the very town Jesus supposedly visited (although Philodemus had already died the previous century). Much as the finds at Qumran did for Judaism, the Herculaneum texts of Philodemus changed a lot of what we think about ancient world, not just trivially (as I wrote about in a previous humor-piece), but even in weighty subjects like science and philosophy. For example, these works reference a lot more going on then in mathematics and logic than we knew about, including important studies of inductive logic and probability theory, even discussions of non-Euclidean geometry (see The Scientist in the Early Roman Empire, p. 60 n. 153). The remaining books in the cache are almost entirely from other Epicurean authors, and mostly on subjects in philosophy (Demetrius of Laconia; PolyaenusColotes and Metrodorus, all of Lampsacus; Polystratus and CarneiscusZeno of Sidon; even lost works of Epicurus himself). In fact many of these treatises are on logic and mathematics; and apart from one exception (which I will discuss shortly), the only non-Epicurean works identified in the cache so far are a few lost works of the famed Stoic Chrysippus, yet also touching on math and logic.

All of which confirms the library shelved books by subject—and that we have only found a small fraction of that library.

Thistle V of Herculaneum. (Wikipedia)

What Else Could Be There?

It’s unlikely the Herculaneum villa’s library only contained this stuff. It’s all too narrow and niche in subject, and by all accounts the ancient elite were proud of amassing diverse collections in their libraries, and embarrassed not to have succeeded (for a good recent account, see George Houston’s study Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity). What we have appears to merely be a couple of shelves of volumes, maybe just one bookcase, all from the same spot, probably swept directly into the crates we found them in and staged in the courtyard to await a wagon to haul them.

There would have been a great deal else. Literature, history, science. Epistolaries, miscellanies, essays. Memoirs, novels, biographies. Satires. The work of orators and poets. Philosophy and mathematics. Scientific studies and technical manuals. Dictionaries and encyclopedias; and more (I survey the kinds of books that existed in antiquity in Ch. 8 of On the Historicity of Jesus, and throughout both Scientist and Science Education). For example, a prominent Latin collector near to Rome is likely to have had the epistolaries (published letter collections) of Cicero. While we already have copies of those, finding editions scribed within decades of his death would still be of considerable use. More importantly, medieval Christians chose not to preserve almost all ancient literature; so there could be epistolaries from other authors here, famous and obscure. And even poets and orators and novelists, besides being priceless to recover just in respect to the history of art, would also have commented on various subjects of importance, such as popular religion and events (you can see, as just one example, that in both Scientistand Science Education I glean a great deal from all kinds of sources on matters of ancient science, technology, and economics). 

There was a great deal else. To illustrate with a single example: we know another popular genre of the era would also be informative to find more of, paradoxography, or “collections of wonders and miracles.” We have some of those (pre-Herculaneum, Pseudo-Aristotle; post-Herculaneum Phlegon of Tralles). But it was an enormously popular genre spanning every century from the fourth B.C. to well after Vesuvius erupted (e.g. CallimachusPalaephatusPhilostephanusAntigonusArchelausApolloniusHeraclitusMyrsilus, even the famous Varroand Cicero wrote such works, now lost; and those are just the ones we know about). Thus what we can expect to find under the ash of Herculaneum is not just lost books we know existed, but books and authors we never knew did. And no matter what we find, it will all teach us something we didn’t know about the ancient world; probably many things.

Consider the sole exception to the subject-theme of the books we recovered from the courtyard staging area: a lost history of Seneca the Elder (the then-famous father of the now-famous Seneca). Sadly, we can’t fully reconstruct it due to extensive damage. But it would have been nice to get it all, because that history ran up to the end of the reign of Tiberius, making it a text (heretofore entirely lost) recording Roman history during the very time when Jesus is supposed to have lived, which was written by a contemporary to those events. Since it began its narrative during the civil war of Julius Caesar, it only covered a single-century span of events, which could mean it was quite detailed. Could it have discussed Judean affairs in any important way? What about other things, unrelated to Christianity?

Needless to say, we can’t know what books are still there (or that we might yet decipher from the several hundred volumes we already have), but we can play certain probabilities, given what was popular, and where this library was located, and the family that curated it, and details we can glean from the books already recovered. For example, it’s quite unlikely we’ll find anything directly from Christian or Jewish authors or extensively on their affairs; in contrast to how likely it is we could find the works I shall list. I won’t survey every interesting possibility (I give a list of relevance to Christian history in OHJ, Ch. 8; and to the history of science and technology, in SERE, Ch. 3; and those surround just two areas of interest of easily dozens one might contemplate). But I will single out twelve authors whose books I think stand a high probability of being there, and that could contain material that would change history as we know it (at least in subject fields I’ve published in). I could also add many other possible ways we’d learn from these discoveries; but I’ll focus only on one top example of what they could contain that would draw the most worldwide interest.

… parts 2 & 3 will contain 12 predated alternatives + more: Part 2 of 3 and 3 of 3.

Misconceptions becoming weaponised

For many of the CSA Victim-Survivours and their families, the misconception of ‘justified manipulation’ is making a major part of the bigger picture. In experiences of multiple forms of “only our student/family has to deal with this”, the similar deny-deny-deny veil has been used repeatedly throughout the different institutions (i.e. churches, schools, clubs & teams) to use fake-news to hide the truths.

Ron Miller. (2016).

Catholic, other denominations (e.g. Anglican, Baptist, Presbetarian, Methodist), Private Schools (e.g. GPS: ACGS, BBC, BGS, GT, NC, TGS, TSS; ), lawyers, justice dept., police (state + federal), schools (Private – notably same-gender), journalism (online, paid and social) and other interested bodies have each increased their POV.

PRAYBOY satire of iconic Playboy media

While broad scale requests were sent to noted Private Schools (SEQ-GPS & NSW), Legal Bodies and Institutions already mentioned – there has (expectedly) been minimal feedback. Although there have been relevant leaps in Blog statistics, countries and articles – relevant ABC and SBS News contact has been included:

  • Perhaps they are too busy adjusting for these earlier exploits;
  • the hand of god has sent a messenger;
  • they each promise their sorrow, never to repeat it again (again);
Tassos Kouris (2008)

These ‘different pieces’ are being combined in RCbbc’s posts, to explain to readers that their repeated use + reuse is all too common. While reuse of positives may be understood for ‘competitive gain’, ‘academic prowess’ and ‘scientific understanding’, the often (silent 🤐 ) ‘negative gains’ are also swept-under-the-carpet:

  • As harmful as this may be to our individual children,
  • it’s also gravely hurtful – when taking a step back,
  • realise one action leads to another (influence),
  • tweeks-adaptions made to allow greater deception +
  • seeing at the big patterns forming.

How queer theology is changing the place for LGBTQ Christians in the church

A mural of “The Last Supper” is displayed in February in the church of Curahuara de Carangas, Bolivia. While the mural is a version of the original Da Vinci painting, it shows the relationship between Jesus and the apostles. Modern theologians are examining and analyzing the Bible and Christian tradition from a view that homosexuality and gender nonconformity existed in ancient times just as they do today.

‘Previous translation s of the bible’ would indicate CHANGES, to a supposedly concrete-unchangeable foundation. The Catholic’s faith-practice-order: Catholicism, has changed radically since the time of Pope Pius (early 1900’s, 20th century). Although the Catholic Church claims to be under unexpected tension in the current decade, the 3rd decade (2020’s) is less than 10 months away.

Because of safety concerns, the school was essentially on lockdown.

Threatening calls and emails were pouring into Tarleton State University, a medium-sized school in central Texas.

It was 2010 and then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in a press release what the school was doing was attacking common decency.

“No one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans. … This lewd display runs completely contrary to the standards of scholastic excellence and common decency that we demand in our publicly-funded institutions for higher learning,” Dewhurst said.

CBS News talked to a local radio host who was flooded with calls, some angry, some sad.

The state of Texas was in an uproar because of a play. At the center of the controversy was John Otte, then a 26-year-old student at Tarleton State. He was part of an advanced directing class and had to select a production to manage. Otte died in 2018 at age 34, but he spoke about his decision in choosing the play in a 2010 interview found on YouTube.

“It just resonated within me the message of the full picture. … This play was very touching for me. I cried when I read the script and it gave a more tangible Christ figure for me,” he said in the video.

The play was never performed, canceled because of safety concerns and political pressure, as reported by the Texas Tribune.

The play was “Corpus Christi,” a modern telling of the story of Jesus and the apostles set in Texas. But this was not just any play about the son of God. In the production, Jesus and the apostles are gay. And what is being imagined in the theater is getting a closer examination by modern theologians.

Understanding queer theology

Questioning Jesus’ personal life has been a point of historical and theological tension for decades. His supposed relationship with Mary Magdalene is the central plot of “The Da Vinci Code.”

Further theories have questioned whether Jesus had a homosexual relationship with the “beloved disciple” mentioned in multiple Bible verses.

These kinds of questions are part of the growing field of queer theology. The theology analyzes the Bible and Christian tradition from a view that homosexuality and gender nonconformity existed in ancient times just as they do today.

Queer theology resists the notion emphasized in Christianity that heterosexuality is salvation, said the Rev. Dr. Bob Shore-Goss, a gay theologian and author of several books on queer theology.

“The whole ideology of 20th-century, and even now 21st-century, Christianity is to be heterosexual meant you were perfect,” he said. “And what does that do to people like myself? Or people who are transgendered and who are bisexual and so on? We’re lesser human beings. And see there’s a denigration there.”

Shore-Goss said queer theology takes the definition of queer — meaning strange or odd — and applies it in understanding the characters of the Bible and how they navigated their historical society.

The Bible does not include a line about Jesus’ sexuality — gay, straight, bisexual or anywhere on the spectrum — because the terms used today did not exist 2,000 years ago. The terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” were created in the late 1800s.

But comparing the definition of queer to how Jesus acted in ancient Palestine, Shore-Goss said, leads to an obvious conclusion: Jesus was queer.

“When you use the word ‘queer’ historically, it’s not a thing or an identity,” he said. “It is really standing outside of any sort of patriarchal normativity. … I would say Jesus is queer. But if you push me, is that something about sexuality? Possibly. Is it something about his kind of deconstructing and destabilizing masculinity in the Roman Empire, and in first-century Palestine? Yes, he’s not a normal male.”

In ancient times, a man had status and value by owning property, including not just land but a wife. Men owned women. Jesus neither held land or married, according to the Bible.

Jesus also recognized women as equals. In John 4, he goes to a town well and meets a woman who was a social outcast. Merely walking up and talking with the woman would have been viewed as heretical among the religious at the time.

The Holy Spirit, which is said to guide Christians after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, helps the apostles to spread the word of God to people around the world, as told in the book of Acts. One of the first converts in the spread of Christianity is a eunuch, another social and sexual outcast at the time, Shore-Goss said.

In his ministry, Jesus even identified with eunuchs, as told in Matthew 19:12, said Kittredge Cherry, a lesbian minister, theologian and creator of, which promotes LGBTQ rights in the church. Looking over previous translations of the Bible, Jesus ministered to the sexual minorities of his time, she said.

“The word that he used for eunuch is for a sexual minority,” Cherry said. “That’s the closest thing to what we might call today LGBTQ. He reached out to people who the regular religious authorities were saying were sinners, that we’re too far gone to be part of God’s kingdom. He went ahead and said, ‘These are the people that are also welcome in God’s kingdom.’”

Cherry said one of the reasons modern Christians may struggle to accept the sexual diversity present in ancient times and acknowledged in the Bible is because modern Christians struggle to understand their own sexualities and bodies.

What does the Bible really say?

Faith leaders who condemn homosexuality and other sexualities often turn to lines in the Bible that seemingly condemn anything beyond the heterosexual worldview.

However, those verses which Cherry referred to as “clobber passages” are being re-examined and are offering a different view, she said.

“New understandings, based on contemporary Bible scholarship, have debunked a lot of the more hateful and misguided interpretations that say the Bible flatly condemns all homosexuality and gender variance as we know it today,” Cherry said.

An analysis by the Rev. Charles D. Myers of some of the most-used passages condemning homosexuality provides the nuance Cherry mentioned.

Leviticus 18:22  Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (NIV)

The denunciation of men having relations with men here is part of a list of practices Christians should not do. Centuries later, some of those practices are still viewed as socially unacceptable. For example, several lines in Leviticus say people should not practice incest or child sacrifice.

Other rules in the section include not committing adultery or cursing out one’s parents. In 2019 society, these acts are not necessarily seen as good, but they are not a reason for execution.

Then, there are rules in Leviticus that no longer have application to modern times, such as not having sex with a menstruating woman or talking to a fortune teller.

Theologians point out all the rules outlined in Leviticus are given the same weight and punishment. But, over time, society has cherry-picked which rules to keep and which to ignore.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)

The analysis by Myers states the Greek phrase about homosexuality originally used in the passage has two meanings. The first meaning is literal homosexuality. The second meaning, though, is about being sexually promiscuous, a practice the Bible repeatedly condemns in other sections. The meaning the original writers of this passage intended is unclear, Myers wrote.

What queer theology adds

Ancient traditions recognized a spectrum of sexualities, despite not always recognizing the variety as equal.

Heterosexuality was seen as “natural” not only because it was the most common but because of the Protestant Reformation, said Megan DeFranza, theologian and author of “Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God.”

Prior to Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517, celibacy was viewed as the holiest way of life, one of the reasons why nuns and priests in the Catholic tradition must be celibate. Part of Luther’s revolution in the Reformation was announcing that being married and raising a family could also be holy, DeFranza said.

“Then we have the emphasis on ‘Oh, it’s just as much a religious vocation to have a family as it is to serve God and the monastery,’” she said. “Well, what that ended up doing was making fewer places for those who didn’t fit into that binary reproductive model. With fewer monasteries, there were fewer places to go if you didn’t fit in those categories as male or female.”

DeFranza’s work offers a more complex reading of the Bible to counter what she said are often narrow interpretations. Her book re-evaluates some of the gender stereotypes in the church. Among conservative Christians, there are strict gender roles where a man has certain duties and a woman has certain duties. But also, among liberal members of the faith, the genders are seen to be all alike and there is little recognition of the various genders, especially the gender minorities, she said.

DeFranza said modern science on gender and sexuality is helping us better understand what ancient people already knew: There is a spectrum of gender and sexuality.

“Ancient Judaism had six extra categories in addition to male and female,” she said. “… Saint Augustine talks about hermaphrodites in his book ‘The City of God,’ which is a very well-known piece of his literature that lots of folks have to read. And yet, we read right past the section where he talks about hermaphrodites and androgynes being rare but saying every culture has people that they don’t know how to classify as male or female.”

The Bible is clear salvation is not withheld from sexual minorities, DeFranza said.

In Isaiah 56, eunuchs complain to God about being separated from other church followers. God reassures and blesses them, not to be changed and to fit into the binary heterosexual model but God blesses them as they are, DeFranza said.

The ongoing research and conversations around queer theology are reversing a trend in the Christian tradition that has long-marginalized members of the LGBTQ community. While some churches have opened their doors, many people who identify as LGBTQ do not feel welcome in the pews. About half of congregations allow openly gay or lesbian couples to be members, according to the Pew Research Center.

Cherry said queer theology is pushing the church to be more inclusive. A different way of reading the ancient text is allowing the marginalized to see themselves in the Bible story.

“When I read the Bible thinking that Jesus is like me, it just brings it alive and makes it much more real,” Cherry said. “And I think that’s true for other LGBTQ people. I’m not doing this to say, this is the only way to look at Jesus. … It helps to see that Jesus was like we are and to see ourselves reflected in the holy story. Now for our straight allies, I think it’s also valuable to visualize the idea that Jesus was gay because it helps them then to be able to see the holiness among the LGBTQ community and just to expand their idea of God.”

Follow Wyatt Massey on Twitter: @News4Mass.


“The Bible Has Been Changed and Corrupted Over Time”

With the unearthed secrets of Child Sexual Abuse being made globally, Easter-Fertility gives an ideal chance to read more of how similar the bible/church is to a changing business. Following is a copy of text, from PDF available from our Library (see References):

You Bible-thumping Christians are so deluded and stupid. The Bible has been so changed and translated and mistranslated over time that it can’t be trusted. Didn’t you play the telephone game when you were a kid? Whatever the first person whispered to the second person, is going to be very different from what the last person hears. Stop acting as if you have all the answers–your Bible is a book of myths.

You’re in good company; a lot of people think that way because they simply don’t know the facts about how trustworthy the Bible really is. When you find out the truth about how the Bible has been handed down from one generation to the next, your charge will have as much significance as proclaiming that courts have no basis for determining the constitutionality of issues since the Constitution was written so long ago we can’t know what it originally said.

But we can go back to the original Constitution and check, right?

We don’t have the original biblical documents, but we have the next best thing: thousands of copies of the original New Testament manuscripts, by which we can determine whatwas originally said. The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts ( tells me that the current number is about 5500 copies of just the Greek New Testament, and when we combine the Greek with all translations in the various languages before the printing press was invented, there are a staggering 15,000 copies of NT manuscripts in existence, with more being found every day!

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason ( helps illustrate how Bible scientists (the discipline of textual criticism) can

assure us of the Bible’s accuracy:


Pretend your Aunt Sally learns in a dream the recipe for an elixir that preserves her youth. When she wakes up, she scribbles the directions on a scrap of paper, then runs to the kitchen to make up her first glass. In a few days Aunt Sally is transformed into a picture of radiant youth because of her daily dose of “Sally’s Secret Sauce.”

Aunt Sally is so excited she sends detailed, hand-written instructions on how to make the sauce to her three bridge partners (Aunt Sally is still in the technological dark ages–no photocopier or email). They, in turn, make copies for ten of their own friends.

All goes well until one day Aunt Sally’s pet schnauzer eats the original copy of the recipe. In a panic she contacts her three friends who have mysteriously suffered similar mishaps, so the alarm goes out to the others in attempt to recover the original wording.

Sally rounds up all the surviving hand-written copies, twenty-six in all. When she spreads them out on the kitchen table, she immediately notices some differences. Twenty- three of the copies are exactly the same. Of the remaining three, however, one has misspelled words, another has two phrases inverted (“mix then chop” instead of “chop then mix”) and one includes an ingredient none of the others has on its list.

Do you think Aunt Sally can accurately reconstruct her original recipe from this evidence? Of course she can. The misspellings are obvious errors. The single inverted phrase stands out and can easily be repaired. Sally would then strike the extra ingredient, reasoning it’s more plausible one person would add an item in error than 25 people would accidentally omit it.

Even if the variations were more numerous or more diverse, the original could still be reconstructed with a high level of confidence if Sally had enough copies.

This, in simplified form, is how scholars do “textual criticism,” an academic method used to test all documents of antiquity, not just religious texts. It’s not a haphazard effort based on hopes and guesses; it’s a careful linguistic process allowing an alert critic to determine the extent of possible corruption of any work.{1}

When the thousands of copies of manuscripts (far more than for any other document of antiquity) are compared, we can know that the New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. In the entire text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in doubt (about 400 words), and none affects any significant doctrine.{2}

Even if all the manuscripts in the whole world were to disappear, the New Testament is so comprehensively quoted by early church letters, essays and other extra-biblical sources that we could still reconstruct almost the entire testament.

We have a much fuller explanation of this in our article “Are

the Biblical Documents Reliable?”

The historical evidence for the reliability of the biblical documents is so great that we can rest assured that the Bible we read today is the same Bible that God intended for us to have from the very beginning.

Wishing you well, Sue Bohlin

Probe Ministries Notes

1. Greg Koukl, Solid Ground, Jan/Feb 2005, Stand to Reason.

2. Norman Geisler and William Nix,The Text of the New Testament (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 475.