Vaccine-passports and the Mark of the Beast

Resisting the Temptation to Interpret Ancient Prophecies by Contemporary Events

Kurt Simmons, JD

There is not now, nor has there ever been, a public health emergency involving COVID-19. The whole pandemic exists solely in the lying statistics of government data and the manipulation of PCR tests. The numbers of both “cases” and “deaths” have been grossly exaggerated and manipulated so that there can be no certainly about the actual lethalness of the disease.[1] However, even according to official data the overall survival rate for COVID-19 is about 98.51.[2] The average age of those that succumb to the disease is about 82 years old.[3] The overwhelming majority of the population therefore has no more to fear of this disease than the seasonal flu.

Why then the maniacal push by the government to inoculate the entire population with potentially dangerous experimental mRNA gene therapy “vaccines”? Public health and welfare are clearly not the motivation.

Many see the push as the means to impose “vaccine-passports,” which will be used as a stepping stone to a digital wallet and currency by which the government can monitor and control every aspect of human activity. Such a system is already in place in Communist China replete with a system of “social credit scoring” by which the state punishes citizens who dare to question its policies.  Similar repressive measures are being foisted upon the free people of western countries. Already in France and New York City access to certain essential goods and services is tied to proof of vaccination. Across the country, men and women are being forced out of employment for refusal to accept the jab.

The book of Revelation speaks of a time when “no man might buy or sell, save he have the mark of the beast” (Rev. 13:17). Many believe that vaccine-passports portend fulfillment of the prophet’s words. If these events are prophesied, then the outcome is inevitable and many will be tempted to sit back and “let come what may.” The end of the world is come and there is nothing more to be done. But if they are not prophesied, the outcome is not inevitable; with heaven’s assistance evil can be resisted and good prevail.

In this article we look at the book of Revelation and the “mark of the beast.” We will conclude that, although vaccine-passports adopt coercive techniques similar to those depicted in Revelation, the imagery of Revelation was fulfilled in the generation it was written.

Date and Theme of Composition

Revelation is the last book of the Bible. It was written by the apostle John while exiled on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9). The consensus view is that it was written about AD 96 during the reign of the emperor Domitian and describes events not yet fulfilled. However, the evidence supporting this view is scant. The better view is that Revelation was written around AD 63 and describes the 1) persecution of the church by Nero and the Jews (AD 64-68), including the divine vengeance meted out in 2) the Roman civil wars following Nero’s death (the “year of four emperors”) (AD 69), and 3) the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state by Rome (AD 66-70). Evidence pointing to the early date includes:

·       The single martyrdom of Antipas in Asia (Rev. 2:13). Since multitudes perished worldwide under Nero, the single martyrdom of Antipas argues that the persecution under Nero had not yet transpired. By the time of Domitian, this would no longer be true.

·         Two persecutions are depicted by John. The first, which broke out shortly after the ascension of the “Man-child” (Christ), would have been the persecution that arose over Stephen. The second was the great eschatological battle Revelation was written to address. Since the persecution under Nero was the second and greatest, undoubtedly it is to this John refers. If Domitian’s persecution were in view, a third would have to be represented.

·         Activities of the Judaizers. Repeat reference to the “synagogue of Satan” and those who say they are Jews but are not (Rev. 2:9; 3:9) shows that the Judaizers were still actively troubling the churches, attempting to corrupt the gospel as they had all during the ministry of Paul. This would have changed following the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

·         The city and temple are portrayed as still standing (Rev. 11:1). These were destroyed in AD 70 and therefore argue for the early date of composition.

·         The tribes are still extant. John portrays a time of political stability during which the war with Rome was held back until a remnant was sealed from the Jews by obedience to the gospel (Rev. 7:1-8).

·         The sixth emperor, Nero, was still on the throne when John wrote (Rev. 17:10).[4]

Perhaps the most direct evidence that Revelation describes events long ago fulfilled is the fact that the world civil powers which persecute God’s people through the “mark of the beast” are the same civil authorities in power at the time of Christ’s birth. The “great red dragon” with seven heads and ten horns which attempts to destroy Christ at his birth (Rev. 12:1-5) is the same civil authority that persecutes the church, first, in the persecution that arose over Stephen (Rev. 12:6-17; cf. Acts 6:9-9:31), and, second, in the persecution under the emperor Nero (Rev. 13-20).

The “seven heads” and “ten horns” describe political attributes of this world civil power. John states that the seven heads are “seven kings: five are fallen; one is; and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” (Rev. 17:10). These are:

1)      Julius Caesar

2)      Augustus Caesar (in whose 42nd year Christ was born)

3)      Tiberius Caesar

4)      Gaius (“Caligula”) Caesar

5)      Claudius Caesar

6)      Nero Caesar

7)      Galba

Therefore, according to John, Nero was in power when he wrote the Apocalypse. Galba, the seventh emperor of Rome, raised a rebellion against Nero in AD 68, initiating the “year of four emperors” – the Roman civil wars that left Rome, Italy, and the empire in ruins. Galba reigned only six months, “a short space.”

The “ten heads” are best understood as the ten senatorial provinces created by Augustus in 27 BC.[5] The number of Roman provinces was not static, but varied. Imperial provinces were ruled by the emperor and were armed with legions; senatorial provinces were under the government of the senate and were unarmed, possessing no legions.[6]  The identity of the senatorial provinces changed from time to time, but there were always ten and only ten. These ten provinces therefore became an identifying feature of the empire from and after 27 BC. This is confirmed by the fact that the same identifying feature of the empire is reflected in the imagery of the book of Daniel in the ten toes of the great image (Dan. 2:33, 41) and in ten horns of the fourth beast or world empire (Dan. 7:7, 20). The identity of the dragon in Revelation and the fourth beast/world empire in Daniel is admitted by virtually all commentators.[7]

John states that the book was about things that “must shortly come to pass” and that were “at hand” (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:6, 7, 10,12, 20). Virtually all New Testament discussion of the eschaton or end-time crisis was couched in similar terms, expressly stating it would occur within the lives of the first disciples (Matt. 10:23; 16:27, 28; 23:34-39; 24:34; 26:64; John 21:19-23; Rom. 13:11, 12; I Cor. 1:7; 7:29; Heb. 10:37; James 5:8, 9; et alia). Difficult passages must be interpreted in light of those that are simple and plain. As between direct time-statements placing the eschaton in the lives of the first disciples and the highly charged apocalyptic imagery of Revelation, the former must control our interpretation, not the latter. Modern readers would do well to recall that Revelation was written to the people of John’s time; not our own. Since the same civil authority in power at the nativity of Christ was also in power during the persecution portrayed by John in Revelation, the book cannot possibly refer to modern events.

Identity of Remaining Characters

Other characters portrayed by John include the

·         The Woman (Rev. 12). This woman is sometimes confused with the virgin, Mary, because she is portrayed as giving birth to Christ, but she is better understood collectively in terms of the faithful, covenant people of God (cf. Isa. 66:7, 8).

·         The Harlot (Rev.17, 18). The Harlot is defined as the “great city…where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). This makes plain that the Harlot is Jerusalem. She is portrayed as the driving force behind the persecution, drunk upon the blood of Jesus’ martyrs (Rev. 17:6). In her is found the blood of the all the righteous shed on earth (Rev. 18:24), words expressly applied by Jesus against Jerusalem (Matt. 23:35). The Harlot “sits upon many waters” or “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:1, 15). This indicates that her political influence reached beyond Palestine into the whole of the Roman Empire, probably in part through illicit trade compacts negotiated with foreign states in exchange for cooperation in the trial and persecution of Christians (see Rev. 17:1; 18:3). John states that the great city “reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18). This is often mistaken in reference to Rome.[8] However, as Jesus was not crucified in Rome and John expressly identifies the “great city” as the city where Jesus suffered, it is better understood in terms of Jerusalem’s political domination and control of Jewish ethnarchs that ruled the Jewish inhabitants of the empire’s separate nations and cities.

·         The Beast (Rev. 13:1-10). This beast rises out of the sea, indicating it is a Gentile power (compare Dan. 7:1 where the four successive Gentile world empires rise from the Mediterranean Sea). The beast is the alter-ego of the dragon; the dragon acts and makes war against the church through the beast in the same way governments prosecute war through their militaries (Rev. 13:2). Like the dragon, the beast has seven heads and ten horns. One head was wounded with a mortal blow, but the mortal wound subsequently healed. The heads have a dual symbolism. We have already noted that they represent the seven Caesars under which God’s people suffered until victory was given to the saints. John also states that the heads represent “seven mountains on which the woman [harlot] sitteth” (Rev. 17:9). In ancient times it was customary to build city-states upon hills and mountain out-crops due to their natural defensive position (Isa. 2:12-14). The seven mountains therefore are best understood as seven cities or regions, perhaps with large Jewish populations, where the persecution attained a head. If this is correct, the wounded head likely refers to Palestine and the persecution that arose over Stephen. This persecution collapsed by the conversion of St. Paul and the removal Caiphas and Pilate from their respective offices in AD 36 by Vitellius, the governor of Syria.[9] The church then enjoyed a period of relative peace and security under Claudius until the rise of Nero when the “mortal wound” healed and persecution revived, symbolized by the ascent of the beast from the Hadean abyss.[10]

·         The False Prophet (Rev. 13:11-18) also associated with the “kings of the earth” (Rev. 19:19, 20). This “beast” rises out of the “earth” or “land.” The earth and land have connotations of Israel and the covenant people and is set over against the sea and abyss, which point to the Gentile peoples of the Mediterranean world. This beast looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon, indicating that it appears outwardly to serve God, but in fact opposes God and his people and is allied with the dragon. It is best understood as the persecuting power wielded by the Jews in cooperation with Rome, probably through Jewish ethnarchs and synagogues scattered throughout the empire over which Jerusalem exercised power and imposed anti-Christian orthodoxy.

The Mark of the Beast

John states that the false prophet which looked like a lamb but spoke like a dragon caused men to make an image to the beast and caused as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Rev. 13:16-18

We have already seen that the seven heads of the beast represent seven Caesars and that Nero, the sixth Caesar, was reigning while the Apocalypse was written. It therefore should not surprise us that the cryptic number of the beast is Nero’s name when transliterated from Latin into Hebrew. Once Hebraicized, the Latin Nero Caesar becomes “NRWN QSR,” the numeric equivalent of 666:

Num = 50                             Qoph = 100

Resh = 200                           Samech = 60

 Waw = 6                              Resh = 200

 Nun = 50

It is difficult to know how literal to take John’s language. We know from Pliny’s letter to Trajan (circa AD 112) that men were required to offer sacrifice to Caesar’s image to escape a charge of being a Christian. However, since Jews would not themselves have made an image of Caesar, and since the “false prophet” is almost certainly the Jewish persecuting power,[11] it seems unlikely that the passage is intended to be understood literally.

Except for client kings like Herod, the Jews and local governments did not have the power to put individuals to death; the jus gladii (power of the sword) was held solely by the Roman government as a check upon subject nations and peoples (John 18:31). Since local governors would not have presumed to contradict the example and authority of Nero, it seems likely that the Jews exploited the persecution in Rome to launch an inquisition against Christians in Judea and accuse Christians to the civil authority in other parts of the empire. Moreover, since the beast was merely a political policy, to “make an image” of the beast presumedly would have entailed adopting similar policies, rather than making a physical image of Nero himself. To give “life” unto the image and to cause it to “speak” and put to death all who do not worship it (Rev. 13:15) is best understood figuratively as giving political life and shape to the persecution and causing it to issue decrees under penalty of death. This is far preferable to giving actual life to a statue of the emperor which is obviously impossible.

It was a well-documented practice among the Jews to completely isolate those whom they had cast out and anathematized. John’s Gospel provides several examples of this very thing (John 10:22, 35; 12:42; 16:2; cf. Matt. 9:11; Lk. 15:2). Of particular interest is John’s statement that the Jews had “no dealings” with the Samaritans who were an anathematized people (John 4:9). “No dealings” would obviously include commercial transactions. John’s language that no man might “buy or sell” is therefore best understood in terms of the Jewish practice of ostracizing religious apostates and non-conformists. Receiving the mark on the right hand or forehead is very like the phylacteries worn by Jews which consisted of small strips of parchment inscribed with texts of the law, encased in leather and bound between the eyes or on the forearm, and may be the source of John’s imagery. The “mark of the beast” probably consisted of any test put forward by the inquisition to mark those who maintained religious orthodoxy by either expressly or implicitly rejecting Christ. The beginning of this very thing may be seen in John’s Gospel and the book of Hebrews where Jewish believers were under pressure to forsake Christ and to return to the temple ritual and its sacrifices.

Historical Precedents and Antecedents

It may be worth our while to touch upon the history leading up to the persecution under Nero and to note that the coercive measures described in Revelation were not new or unique.

The Roman Empire in the time of Christ embraced most of the inhabited world. Roman policy found it necessary for the governance of its vast empire to secure to the various peoples the right to maintain their ancestral laws and customs, including their religious laws and observances.[12] Attempt by Gaius Caligula to introduce images of the emperor into Jewish synagogues in Alexandria and the temple in Jerusalem had disturbed the Pax Romana and threatened rebellion by the Jews.[13] Claudius therefore wisely reaffirmed the Roman policy guaranteeing the religious autonomy of its subject peoples.[14] This policy, known as the religio licita (legally protected religions), was extended by Claudius to Christianity, which the Romans viewed as a sect of Judaism. Roman courts therefore would not entertain complaints against Christians and Claudius himself found it necessary to banish Jews from Rome and Italy for their constant riots and tumults against the followers of Christ (Acts 18:2, 12-16).[15]

It is almost certainly to Claudius and the religio licita that Paul refers when he mentions “what witholdeth” and “he who now restrains” the murderous hatred of the Jews against Christ (II Thess. 2:6, 7). The “gathering together” to Christ (v. 1) (e.g., “harvest by martyrdom,” cf. Rev. 14:9-14) would follow removal of Claudius who was “taken out of the way” (v. 7) by Agrippina, Nero’s mother, who poisoned Claudius, opening the way for Nero to ascend the throne.[16] Nero would then be revealed as the ”man of sin and son of perdition” who opposed and exalted himself against all that is called God or worshipped (v. 3, 4), but who was slain by the breath of Christ’s mouth at his coming (v.8) – poetic imagery and language that describes the end Nero came to and the civil wars that enveloped the empire and witnessed the destruction of the Jewish nation. It is also likely to Claudius that John refers when he mentions the binding angel that restrained the dragon and beast until loosed for the final conflict in the persecution under Nero (Rev. 20:1-11).[17]

But if Roman law guaranteed its subject peoples the right to maintain their ancestral customs, what calumnies and falsehoods might justify revoking this policy and permit the overt persecution of Christians?

Titus Livy reports that in 186 BC Rome was consumed in suppressing the Bacchanalian cult.[18] This cult held secret ceremonies at night consisting of drinking and feasting followed by sexual orgies, including group rape of male initiates by priests. Moreover, the cult did not confine itself to the pollutions of gross sexual immorality, but was also a ready supply of false witnesses, forged documents and wills, perjured evidence, and also dealt in poisons and wholesale murder among the devotees.[19] Because it was considered so dangerous to the state, the senate empowered the consuls to conduct a special inquiry into the bacchic ceremonies and nocturnal rites and to seek out and suppress the cult by the imprisonment and death of its members. To prevent their flight, the senate passed an edict “prohibiting any attempt to sell or buy anything for the purpose of escaping, and forbidding anyone to harbor or conceal any fugitives, or to assist them in any way.”[20] Although it served the narrow purpose of catching members of the cult rather than coercing Christians to renounce Christ, the language prohibiting any to “sell or buy” bears such close resemblance to Rev. 13:17 we cannot help wonder if the allusion is not deliberate.

Tertullian (AD 145-220) reports that Christians were accused of Bacchanalianism consisting of the ritual killing and eating of children, followed by incest and orgies.[21] Justyn Martyr complains of similar baseless accusations[22] and lays blame at the feet of the Jews whom he says sent men into all the world to spread these calumnies.[23] These allegations appear to have had their source in the Feast of Epiphany which commemorated Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). The traditional date for this miracle was January 6th, about sixty days following Jesus’ fall baptism and his return to John at Bethabara (John 1:26-51). By accident of history, the myth of Dionysus, whom the Romans called Bacchus, had it that that god turned water into wine January 5th, which was celebrated by festival the following day.[24] Moreover, the city of Alexandria worshipped the god “Aeon,” which seems to be a compound of Dionysus, Kronos, Apollo, and Osiris, and was purportedly born to the virgin “Kore” the night of January 5th.[25] The shared dates of January 6th, turning water into wine, together with the virgin birth appear to have given hostile parties  colorable basis for the charge  that Christianity was a form of Bacchanalianism whose members engaged in sordid sexual crimes and homicide in their assemblies and therefore should be proscribed. Indeed, these points of contact, flimsy though they be, have caused some to charge that Christians borrowed or appropriated the date of January 6th from paganism and that John consciously fashioned his Gospel to appropriate the myth of Dionysus to Jesus.[26] Suppression of the Bacchanalian cult in 186 BC probably supplied the legal precedent for Nero to single out the church for attack. All that was required was sufficient pretext to move against it. This came in the fire of AD 64.

In AD 64 fire broke out which consumed most of Rome. Tacitus reports that to avert suspicion and popular belief that Nero himself had ordered the city be fired, the emperor accused Christians of the crime instead:

But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, or all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had been taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowed styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition; was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, butt in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.[27]

The lies used to persecute Christians then should be compared with the lies relied upon by the deep-state and Biden administration to brand their political opponents as domestic terrorists today. The imposition of vaccine-passports bears further testimony that the present administration is the spiritual descendant of Nero and those who murdered Christ. Doubtless, Biden and his minions will come to similar ends. Sic semper tyranus.


The book of Revelation spoke to the great eschatological crisis that overtook the first generation of Christians as Rome and the Jews moved to extinguish the light of the gospel offering men freedom and salvation. The same civil power in authority when Jesus was born was still in power when the events depicted came to pass. The legal precedent for persecuting Christians probably was found in the 186 BC suppression of the Bacchanalian cult by Rome. False accusations that Christians were guilty of bacchic rites provided the pretext for their persecution and death. The mark of the beast probably described the coercive measures used by the Jews in the persecution under Nero to isolate, punish, and put Christians to death. Vaccine-passports today obviously are not described by Revelation, but spring from a similar source: evil’s hatred of all that is pure and wholesome, and the tyrant’s desire to extinguish human hope, happiness, and freedom.

May God grant deliverance to all who wait upon him and redeem us from our present crisis!

[1] In March 2020, CDC changed without hearing or public comment the manner of reporting deaths for COVID-19, and only COVID-19, from the manner used for the previous 17 years; this resulted in a 16.7-fold increase in the number of deaths from 9,684 to 161,392 for the relevant period.; accessed September 14, 2021. See also; accessed September 14, 2021.

[2] For ages 0-19 the survival rate is 99.997%; ages 20-49 = 99.98%; ages 50-69 = 99.5%; 70 above 94.6%.; accessed September 14, 2021.

[3]; accessed September 14, 2021. Of 66,257 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in California as of September 9, 2021, 25,325 were age 80+, or 38.2%. Ages 60-80+ account for 81.6 percent of the all deaths.; accessed September 14, 2021.

[4] The definitive works arguing the early date are Redating the New Testament, H.T. Robinson, Wipf & Stock (1976, Eugene), and Before Jerusalem Fell, Kenneth Gentry, American Vision (1998, Atlanta, GA).

[5] “In 27 B.C. the provinces had been divided into two classes, Imperial and Senatorial., ‘provinciae Caesaris,’ and ‘provinciae Sentatus’ or ‘populi.’ The latter were ten in number, Africa, Asia, Bithynia, Achaea, Illyricum, Macedonia, Crete and Cyrene, Sicily, Sardinia, and Hispania Baetica…the Imperial provinces in 27 B.C. were Gaul, Syria, Cyprus and Cilicia, and Hispania Citerior. The number was increased subsequently by the division of single provinces into two or more, and by the inclusion of all provinces constituted after 27 B.C., e.g., Moesia, Pannonia, and Dalmatia.” Thomas Marris Taylor, A Constitutional and Political History of Rome (Metheun & Co., London, 1889), 464; cf. Dio Cassius, 53.12; Loeb ed.

[6] “His [i.e., Augustus’] professed motive in this was that the senate might fearlessly enjoy the finest portion of the empire, while he himself had the hardships and the dangers; but his real purpose was that by this arrangement the senators will be unarmed and unprepared for battle, while he alone had arms and maintained soldiers.” Dio Cassius, 53.2-12; Loeb ed.

[7] To avoid this difficulty, some argue that there will be a “renewed” Roman Empire, a third temple, etc. See, John F. Walvoord, Revelation, revised ed, Moody Publishers (2011, Chicago).

[8] See Augustine, City of God, 13.22 where Rome is called the “second Babylon.”

[9] Josephus, Antiquities, 18.4.2-3.

[10] A brief persecution arose under Agrippa in the days of Gius Caesar, but appears to have only targeted the church’s leaders. It ended abruptly when Agrippa died by the stroke of God (Acts 12).

[11] We note that whereas the beast has universal jurisdiction over “all kindreds, and tongues, and nations (Rev. 13:7) which is consistent with the Roman power, the false prophet has authority only over those that “dwell upon the earth” or land (Rev. 13:8, 12, 14). Its jurisdiction is therefore limited to Jews, including those inhabiting foreign countries as we see in the case of Paul who was given letters to arrest and bring Jewish believers to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:2). The peoples, kindreds, tongues and nations are consistently set over-against the earth or land throughout Revelation (11:9, 10; 13:7, 8; 14:3, 6; 16:14, cf. v. 19 – The “great city” Jerusalem is set over against the cities of the nations).

[12] Augustus took exceeding care “that the national laws and customs prevailing in each nation should be confirmed and preserved.” Philo Judaeus, Embassy to Gaius, 23:153; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, 14.10 for decrees of Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate guaranteeing the religious autonomy of the Jews.

[13] Philo Judaeus, Flaccus; cf. Embassy to Gaius 16-20; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, 18.8.

[14] After the death of Gaius, Claudius Caesar decreed that “all men should be so subject [to the Romans] as to continue in the observation of their own customs, and not be forced to transgress the ancient rules of their own religion.” Josephus, Antiquities, 19.5.2, Whiston ed.

[15] Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, “Claudius,” 25.4.

[16] Ibid, “Claudius,” 44.

[17] “Angels” and “stars” in Revelation are sometimes merely human agents of divine providence; cf. Rev. 8:11; 9:1, 11.

[18] Livy, History of Rome, 39.8-22.

[19] “When once the mysteries had assumed this promiscuous character, and men were mingled with women with all the license of nocturnal orgies, there was no crime, no deed of shame, wanting. More uncleanness was wrought by men with men than with women. Whoever would not submit to defilement, or shrank from violating others, was sacrificed as a victim. To regard nothing as impious or criminal was the very sum of their religion” (Livy, History of Rome, 39.8-18).

[20] Livy, 39:17.

[21] “Monsters of wickedness, we are accused of observing a holy rite in which we kill a little child and then eat it; in which, after the feast, we practice incest, the dogs – our pimps, forsooth, overturning the lights and getting us the shamelessness of darkness for our impious lusts.” Tertullian, Apology 1.6, 7.

[22] Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27; Ante-Nicene Fathers 1.172.

[23] “At that time you selected and sent out from Jerusalem chosen men through all the land to tell that the godless heresy of the Christians had sprung up, and to publish those things which all they who knew us not speak against us…Accordingly, you displayed great zeal in publishing throughout all the land bitter and dark and unjust things against the only blameless and righteous Light sent by God.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 1.17; cf. Acts 28:22.

[24] “Also in the Isle of Andros there is a Fountain in the Temple of Father Bacchus, which upon the Nones of January always runneth with Water that tasteth like Wine; as Mulianus verily believeth ; who was a Man that had been thrice Consul.” Pliny, Natural Hist. 2.103. The Kalends, Nones, and Ides of January were the 1st, 5th, and 13th of the month, respectively (; accessed 6/8/2019).

[25] Epiphanius, “Panarion,” (“Against the sect which does not accept the Gospel according to John, or his Revelation,”), in Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies, eds. Einar Thomassen, Johannes van Oort, 2nd revised edition (Brill, 2013); trans. Frank Williams, 51.22.9-11, Vol. 79, p. 51, 52.

[26] “The date, January 6, was chosen because in Egypt and throughout the oriental world it had been from

time immemorial the feast of the ‘Epiphany of Dionysus,’ the god of returning light and life” (Benjamin W. Bacon, “After Six Days: A Clue for Gospel Critics” in Harvard Theological Review, Vol. VIII, 2 (1915), 94-121); cf. Bainton, “Basilidian Chronology and New Testament Interpretation,” in Journal of Biblical Literature (1923), XLII, 105.

 [27] Tacitus, Annals, 15.44; Loeb ed.



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