Archive

Dealing with truth anyway

The door rang. I was surprised to see Vera Putina. It appeared that Putin’s mother was visiting her granddaughter’s fiancé’s family in Holland. “It is not safe for me to go to Moscow,” she explained, expressing the sentiment of many.

When she was settled in the safety in my living room with a good cup of Darjeeling, it also appeared that there was more.

VP: “I am upset. The Western media depict my son only as a sportsman. They show him doing judo, riding horses, fighting bears, and the last week they featured him as a diver in a submarine. Of course he is very athletic, but he is also a smart man. I want you to look at his intellectual side too.”

Me: “It is fine of you to ask, because there indeed is a general lack of awareness about that.”

VP: “Let me tell you ! When my father had his love affair with Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia [see the Putin family tree here], one of their secret meeting places was in the royal archives of the Romanovs. Sometimes my father, because he was unemployed, took some of the old documents to sell on the market. You know, my mother Kira had an expensive taste.”

VP said this without blinking an eye. The unperturbedness when taking other people’s possessions and territories must have a family origin.

VP: “My father once found the application letter by Pierre de Fermat for membership of the St. Petersburg mathematical society. It detailed his proof of his Last Theorem.”

Me: “Ah, that might explain why he never published it ! He used it for his application, and this got lost in the archives ?!”

VP: “I don’t know about that. My father sent it in for the Wolfskehl Prize of 100,000 gold marks, but it was rejected for it didn’t satisfy the criterion of having been published in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Me: “This is historically very interesting. If you still have that letter by Fermat, no doubt a historical journal will gladly publish it. It doesn’t matter on content since Andrew Wiles now proved it.”

VP: “No, no, no !” She gestured with passion as an Russian woman can do. “Fermat is not important ! It is what Vladimir did ! When he was twelve, he also looked at Fermat’s letter, and he found an omission ! Moreover, he worked on the problem himself, and almost solved it. Here, I brought along the papers to prove it to you.”

She delved into the bag that she had brought along and produced a stack of papers. I also saw a wire bound notebook such as children use in school.

Me: “Almost solving means not solving. Mathematics is rather strict on this, gospodina Putina. But it is historically interesting that you have Fermat’s original proof and that your son worked on it.”

VP: “For this, he had to learn Latin too !’

She gave me the stack. There was a great deal of difference between her nonchalant and triumphant handing over of the papers and my hesitant and rather reverent accepting of them.

VP: “You look it over, and inform the Western media that my son almost solved Fermat’s Last Theorem when he was only twelve ! If I hadn’t told him that he had to go to his judo lessons, he would have finished it for sure !”

She said the latter as proof that she had been a good mother, but also with a touch of regret.

Confronted with such motherly compassion I could only respond that I would oblige. Hence, below is Vladimir Putin’s proof. First I translate Fermat’s own proof from Latin (also using the Russian transcript that Putin made) and then give Putin’s correction.

Fermat (1601-1665) and Putin (1952+)

Fermat (1601 – 1665) and Putin (1952 – ∞) (Source: wikimedia)

Fermat’s Last Theorem, using middle school algebra

Theorem. No positive integers n, a, b and can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for n > 2.

Proof. (Pierre de Fermat, April 31 1640, letter to czar Michael I of Russia)

Without loss of generality b. Take k = n – 2 > 0. We consider two cases:

(1) a2 + b2c2

(2) a2 + b2 > c2.

(1) When a2 + b2c2 then a2 + b2 + d = c2 for d 0

Then a < c and b < c. Then also ak < ck and bk < ck for k > 0.

If the theorem doesn’t hold, then there is a k > 0 such that:

ak+2 + bk+2ck+2

ak a2 + bk b2 = ck c2 = ck (a2 + b2 + d)

a2 (akck) + b2 (bkck) = d ck ≥ 0

negative + negative ≥ 0

Impossible. Thus the theorem holds for (1).

(2) If a2 + b2 > c2 then obviously (see the diagram) for higher powers too: an + bn > cn.

Fermat's drawing for his proof (right rewrites left)

Fermat’s drawing for his proof (RHS re-orders LHS)

Since (1) and (2) cover all possibilities, the theorem holds.

Q.E.D.

Putin’s correction, age 12

The comment by schoolboy Vlad on this proof is:

“While (2) is obvious, you cannot rely on diagrams, and you need to fully develop it. At least I must do so, since I find the diagram not so informative. I also have problems reading maps, and seeing where the borders of countries are.”

Hence, young Putin proceeds by developing the missing lemma for (2).

Lemma. For positive integers n, a, b and c: if a2 + b2 > c2 then an + bncn for n > 2.

Proof. (Vladimir Putin, October 7 1964)

Without loss of generality a b. Take k = n – 2 > 0.

If a2 + b2 > c2 then a + b > c. (Assume the contrary: a + b c then a2 + b2 < (a + b)2c2, which contradicts a2 + b2 > c2.)

Expression an + bn > cn is equivalent to (an + bn)1/n > c. The LHS can be written as:

f[n] = a (1 + (b / a)n)1/n  with a b.

This Lemma has the Pythagorean value f[2] = √(a2 + b2) > c. The function has limit f[n → ∞] = a. (See a deduction here.) Thus f[n] is downward sloping from f[2] >  to limit value a. We have two cases, drawn in the diagram below.

Case (A) Diagram LHS: c ≤ a, so that there will never be an intersection f[n] = c.

Case (B) Diagram RHS: a < c < f[2] = √(a2 + b2). There can be an intersection f[n] = c, but possibly not at an integer value of n. Observe that this case also provides a counterexample to Fermat’s claim that “obviously” f[n] > c, for, after the intersection f[n] < c. Young Putin already corrects the great French mathematician ! This is a magnificent result of the future President of the Russian Federation, at such a young age. His grandfather’s Marinus van der Lubbe’s submission to the Wolfskehl Prize would also have failed on this account.

a (1 + (b/a)^n)^(1/n) and parameter cases

f[n] = a (1 + (b / a)^n)^(1/n) and parameter cases

At this point, young Putin declares that Case (A) on the LHS is proven, based upon above considerations. He adds:

“I accept this proof on the LHS, even though I have difficulty understanding that limits or borders should not be transgressed.”

As so often happens with people who are not entirely sure of their case, the schoolboy then develops the following simple case, just to make certain.

Case (≤ b). Use numerical succession from a2 + b2 > c2.

Given an + bn > cn then prove an+1 + bn+1 > cn+1.

a an + b bnb an + b bn = b (an + bn) > b cnc cn

Thus the Lemma holds for this case.

To be really, really, sure, Putin adds an alternative proof that assumes the contrary:

ak a2 + bk b2ck c2

ak a2bk a2 + bk a2 + bk b2bk c2ck c2bk c2

a2  (akbk) + bk (a2 + b2c2) ≤ c2 (ck bk)

nonnegative + positive  ≤  nonpositive

Impossible. Thus the Lemma holds for (≤ b).

It would have been better when he had looked at Case (B) on the RHS, notably by proving that f[n] = c cannot hold for only integers.

At this point in his notebook, young Putin writes:

“I have to go to judo training. Perhaps I will continue tomorrow.”

I have looked in the remainder of the notebook but did not find further deductions on Fermat. Apparently the next day young Putin continued with what was more on his mind. It appears that he had a fantasy land called Dominatia in which he played absolute master, and it took much of his time to determine what was happening there. Something of the unruly nature of the natural numbers however must have stuck in his mind. In a perfect fantasy land everything is already as wished, but in young Putin’s Dominatia land he fantasizes about unruly citizens who must be put under control.

Conclusions

The above supports the following conclusions:

  • The theorem & lemma are not yet proven for Case (B) on the RHS. We must still rely on Andrew Wiles.
  • Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin doesn’t do just sports but also has amazing intellectual powers, at least when he was at age twelve.
  • Fermat’s original own proof of his theorem seems to have had a serious error, but it is not precluded that it was only chance that it did not get published (with or without corrections).
  • Fermat’s Last Theorem has dubious value for education. It seems more important to develop the notion of limits, and in particular the notion that you should not transgress borders. When students do not understand this properly at a younger age then this may cause problems later on.
Appendix 1. Case (c > a ≥ b)

It may be nice to see how f[n] = c is sandwiched, when a + b > f[2] > c > a ≥ b.

Case (c > a ≥ b)  There is a point f[n] = c or an + bn = cn for reals but perhaps not for integers.

(i) At the intersection:

ak a2 + bk b2 = ck c2

Take ak c2 + bk c2 and substract the above on both sides:

(c2 – a2) ak + (c2 – b2) bk = (ak + bkck) c2

positive + positive = ?

The latter must be positive too, and hence: ak + bk > ck

Thus, assuming that the theorem doesn’t hold for n requires that it holds for k = n – 2.

(ii) After the intersection: Since f[n] is downward sloping we have f[n+1] < f[n] = c. Reworking gives:

an+1 + bn+1 < cn+1

Another way to show this is:

(a – can + (b cbn < 0

a  an+ b bn  < c (an + bn)

an+1 + bn+1cn+1

Comparing (i) and (ii) we see the switch from > to <.

Appendix 2. Parameter restrictions in general

Assume that an + bn = cn holds. There are restrictions for this to occur, notably by the remarkable product:

(an bn) (an + bn) = (an bn) cn

a2n b2n = (an bn) cn

an (an cn) = bn (bncn)             (*)

For example: when c = a, then an + bn = cn is only possible in (*) if c = a = b, but this is actually also impossible because it requires that cn + cn = cn. The table collects the findings, with the LHS and RHS now referring to equation (*).

an + bn = cn c <(LHS +) c =(LHS 0)
c > a  (LHS -)
c < (RHS +) (=),
but Case (c b)
impossible opposite signs
c b  (RHS 0) impossible impossible
cn + cn = cn
impossible
c > b  (RHS -) opposite signs impossible (=) the only risk

This table actually also proves Case (A) that Putin took for granted. Only Case (B) remains, and requires proof that f[n] = c cannot hold for only integers.

A Russian submarine took me from the beach in Scheveningen to the destroyer MS Ghost of Kursk, that brought me to the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on the Atlantic. “I could take an plane from Schiphol to Moscow,” I suggested, but they put me on an intercontinental missile, and one half hour later the parachute landed me in Sotchi, where I was detailed to Vladimir Putin’s mansion.

Vladislav Surkov was yelling at him.

“You, bastard son of the Romanovs, you are not worthy of Mother Russia,” Surkov screamed at the top his voice.

The professional science fiction author and amateur demagogue was beyond control and was throwing all that he could find at the President of the Russian Federation.

(See the earlier weblog on Putin’s ancestral line.)

“I am a father. I have a son !” Vlad replied. “Your insults are worthless if you don’t see this elementary fact.”

“History dictates that we follow Barbara Tuchman on the Guns of August,” Surkov screamed. “The world is a stage. Try to remember your Shakespeare ! Only those stories work that refer to earlier stories that worked. We must repeat history if we want to write history. In 1914 the first World War started by a string of incompetent decisions. We can only succeed in our plans for world domination when we repeat those incompetent decisions. When we start our war on the Ukraine now in August then people in Europe will be terrified. When we wait another month then they will laugh. We must strike now !” 

Surkov yelled and pointed to the diagrams that he had hung on the walls.

“Yes, of course,” Putin replied, calmer than ever. “But I am a father now. I must take care of my son.”

Surkov launched himself at the President of the Russian Federation. Fortunately for world history, president Putin has a black belt, and the attack by the science fiction author and stage director was deflected efficiently.

Putin in a judo exercise

Putin in a judo exercise (source: screenshot youtube)

“So, what am I doing here ?” I managed to ask.

“My son needs a good education,”  Vlad said. “I am willing to postpone my war on the Ukraine till he has mastered arithmetic. So perhaps you have some suggestions.”

Vlad apparently had read this earlier weblog.

Listening to Theodorakis, The struggles of the Greek people

 

Last weblog referred to Pseudo Erasmus who referred to Graig Willy who referred to Thierry Medynski who referred to Emmanuel Todd.

Medynski uses a colour scheme for Todd’s categories that I find hard to remember. It also appears that Willy has given a colour to Russia while this is not available from Medynski. Thus, let me return to Medynski’s map and propose a colour coding that seems easier to remember (updated May 18).

My suggstion is: Green will be the authoritarian stem family structure that can live with inequality.  Gray blue will be the authoritarian family structure that wishes to see equality except for the patriarch. Red allows for inequality but because of liberal tendencies. Blue combines liberalism and equality. The blue-ish area identifies the region in which equality dominates.

“Todd identifies four premodern European family types according to two major criteria: Is an individual free upon adulthood or does he continue to live with, and under the authority of, his parents? Are brothers equal, notably in terms of inheritance, or are they unequal.” (Craig Willy’s summary of Todd)

My colour proposal Authoritarian Liberal (free from parents)
Unequal Stem (green) Nuclear (red)
Equal (inheritance)
Communitarian (gray blue)
Nuclear egalitarian (photon) (blue)

This gives the following map – in which the legend is also sorted from blue to red.

Traditional family systems of Europe (1500-1900) (Source: Todd - Medynski)

Traditional family systems of Europe (1500-1900) (Source: Todd – Medynski)

There is more cohesion between Germany and Norway and Sweden than commonly perceived.

Relation to the USA

My suggestion is based upon the USA Red and Blue, for the Republican versus Democratic states.

USA Red and Blue States, for Republican and Democratic party outcomes, purple mixtures (Source: Wikipedia)

USA Red and Blue States, for Republican and Democratic Party outcomes at Presidential elections. Purple: mixtures over elections (Source: Wikipedia)

The differences between red and blue states may not be quite comparable to Todd’s scheme, but it helps to develop the idea and identification. Still, the clue is that the USA apparently has been shaped predominantly because of the nuclear family structure.

“Les États-Unis et l’Europe n’ont pas le même projet de société du fait de leurs structures familiales. Structurés sur la famille nucléaire absolue, les États-Unis expriment une dérive du fondamentalisme protestant avec cette vision messianique et civilisatrice pour diriger le monde selon leurs propres intérêts. Du fait de sa mosaïque de structures familiales, l’Europe devrait favoriser l’émergence d’un monde polycentrique. Cependant, depuis l’Acte Unique, tout se passe comme si l’identité européenne était réduite aux valeurs véhiculées par la famille nucléaire absolue, à savoir la pensée unique du néo-libéralisme. D’où l’échec de cette conception de l’Europe.” (Medynski, my emphasis)

The differences between Republicans and Democrats thus may be linked to the differences between England and the Ile de France.

Consequences for Europe and the euro

Check out Todd’s 2013 Harper’s video on the euro – with thanks to Pseudo Erasmus for alerting us to this. See also Jamie Galbraith and perhaps also not so strong John Gray. And then see my paper Money as gold versus money as water.

PM

PM 1. For completeness and comparison, this is the colour scheme of Medynski’s image. We changed only red and yellow but it still makes a difference in reading.

Thierry Medynski Authoritarian Liberal
Unequal Stem (green) Nuclear (yellow)
Equal Communitarian (red) Nuclear egalitarian (blue)

PM 2. Never forget about the Heineken Eurotopia map.

PM 3. Check whether there is a relation with the other French intellectual, Thomas Piketty.

PM 4. Russia would have the gray blue too, which confirms Willy’s adaptation of Medynski’s image.

“Cette mosaïque de systèmes familiaux distingue l’Europe des Etats-Unis (structurés sur la famille nucléaire absolue) et de la Russie (structurée sur la famille communautaire exogame) où seul un des termes, l’individualisme ou le système communautaire, est privilégié.” (Medynski, my emphasis)

Listening to J.M. Jarre, The concerts in China,
and The Blooming of Rainy Night Flowers

Vladimir Putin called me on my fixed line and Xi Jinping was on my mobile phone. This difference already told everything.

They didn’t know that the other was calling me too- though I wonder about uncle Xi. They were negotiating and got stuck again.

See the map for their current division of Europe. The question mark gives the contested region. Neither of them wants it – so that it likely becomes an European Nature Park in which the European Bison on Wisent can roam freely again.

“Okay,” I asked Putin, “are those V.P. initials on Germany really necessary ?”

Vlad: “I lived there. Historians must know about the meaning of resentment, not just by Germans but by all people who have lived there.”

Division of Europe by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

Division of Europe by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping whispered in my other ear: “Putin could have gotten all of Germany except for Bavaria, because we really want to have Bavaria. His initials now give us much of the Ruhr too. This is okay since we also get Rotterdam harbour. Do you notice that we divide Holland between the Protestant North and the Catholic South ? We presume that the Protestants will be a pain in the ass for Orthodox Christian Russia.”

Me to uncle Xi: “So you don’t get Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw Orkest and the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. Why didn’t you draw the line at Bremen ? They only have a statue of the Bremer Stadt musicians, of a rooster on top of a cat on top of a dog on top of donkey.”

Town Musicians of Bremen (Source: wikipedia commons)

Town Musicians of Bremen (Source: wikipedia commons)

Xi Jinping: “In the negotations last December, president Putin essentially gave us Eastern Siberia, though he doesn’t know this yet. So we want him to feel as if he gets the better deal. We presume that his daughter Maria who fled Holland wants to return there again.”

Vlad: “I am happy that I could secure Serbia and Greece because of the Orthodox Church. I am a bit worried about Amsterdam however. I don’t know whether I want Vincent van Gogh and those coffee shops within my sphere of influence.”

Me to Vlad: “Amsterdam wouldn’t mind being rejected by both Russia and China. It could become some free enclave, still a city rather than an European Nature Park with the natives running around in animal skins again. Though they pretty much already do so.”

Vlad: “My problem is that I have been watching some of the video’s that Xi Jingping has been sending me. Ever since I watched Girls of Ali Mountain I have not been able to sleep well. I am afraid that I am falling in love with one of those Chinese actresses.”

Me to Vlad: “I suffer with you. But aren’t you changing the rules of diplomacy again ?”

Vlad: “Whatever. Check this out. This mystery actress at minute 1 is fabulous.”

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress, minute 1

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress 1, minute 1:00

Vlad: “But this other mystery actress at minute 1:30 is perhaps even more fabulous ! What is driving me crazy is that all these Chinese actresses look just the same !”

Girls of Ali Mountain, mistery actress 2, minute 1:30

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress 2, minute 1:30

Me to Vlad: “Some people have all the bad luck of the world ! So your next plan is to make a film with you yourself featuring as one of the boys of Ali Mountain, so that you can get to know them better ?”

Vlad: “A great idea ! I actually tried to both show an interest in Amsterdam and use it as a bargaining chip: Xi Jinping can have Amsterdam when he tells these actresses for me apart and sets up a date for me – or two if that were needed.”

Me to Vlad: “My wikipedia tells me that Ali Mountain lies in Taiwan. Xi Jinping has nothing to say about this, yet.”

The fixed line went dead with a curse. The mobile connection ended with a polite click.

Listening to Hatzidakis – Oi Geitonies tou Fengariou

One event that falls under the boycott of Holland is the Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, February 12 – May 17.

“The Rijksmuseum presents a retrospective of Rembrandt van Rijn’s later work for the very first time. In collaboration with The National Gallery in London, the exhibition ‘Late Rembrandt’ presents a comprehensive overview of the Master’s work from around 1652 to his death in 1669.” (A glimpse at the Rijksmuseum website.)

It is great but can also be crowded.

Don’t forget the BBC documentary on the Rembrandt by Himself exhibition last year in London. Because of the boycott we cannot have the BBC make a documentary of Late Rembrandt of course.

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum (1)

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum – a quiet moment

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum - rather busy

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum – rather crowded

Listening to Theodorakis & Saleas, Weeping eyes
and Anna RF,  Weeping eyes

Some authors look at the links between Greece and the Near East in their ancient myths and literature. Apart from mythology this mainly concerns Homer with the Iliad and the Odyssee – but we should not exclude the philosophies from Pythagoras onward. For the Near East think about e.g. Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible (the Tenach ~ Old Testament).

Three authors caught my attention. I am no student of this realm and hesitate to read their books. However, I can roughly understand what is reported about this area of research, and then wonder what may be relevant when we consider what mathematics education can contribute to the education on Jesus and the origin of Christianity. Mathematics deals with more than numbers and space, it also deals with patterns.

These three authors are:

A comment by Ready on Louden seems to hold for all authors:

“What is more, Louden’s book continues to refine the Homeric comparative project as a whole in three ways. First, the relationship Louden detects between the Hebrew Bible and the Odyssey is for the most part genealogical, not historical. [ftnt] He imagines some sort of common source used by, not direct, purposeful contact between, Greek and Israelite cultures (see, e.g., 11 and 121). But finding numerous and close connections between the Odyssey and Genesis, Louden hypothesizes “that the Odyssey, in some form, served as a model for individual parts of Genesis (particularly the myth of Joseph)” (324). Indeed—and this is the point I wish to stress—Louden reminds us that the transmission of motifs and tales was not solely westward: “Greek myth should be seen in a dialogic relation with Near Eastern myth, with influence running in both directions, during several different eras” (12). As another example of how Louden notes the possibility of movement eastward from Greece, I cite his speculation on a Greek origin for stories about a man wrestling a god (see 121). I hasten to add, however, that, although he ponders the matter in the book’s Conclusion, Louden is not really concerned with the actual mechanisms of transmission. His exercise is a heuristic one: “the main reason I adduce OT myths is because their parallels provide a tool for our understanding and interpretation of Homeric epic” (11). Second, Louden reaffirms the value of comparing Homeric epic with non-epic literature from the ancient Near East. After all, the Hebrew Bible may contain elements associated with epic or even epic material but is not itself epic. Nonetheless, comparatists need not fear connecting the text with Homeric epic. If we insist on comparing Homeric poetry only with that which we precariously define as epic, we shall deny ourselves access to a wealth of useful data. Third, I return to a point mentioned above. Louden consistently notes when different versions of the same episode, myth, or story pattern do different things (see, e.g., 176). This flexibility in his analytical program is most welcome, for the comparatist should delve into the discrepancies along with the convergences.” (Jonathan L. Ready in this review of Louden)

A question on the Zodiac

The Zodiac is one crowning achievement of neolithical times and early history. Because of lack of cameras and lack of writing, early observations were couched in narratives. Such narratives would discuss gods and goddesses. For some, the narratives would start lives of their own. One question that arises is how the Zodiac relates to these ancient tales, like Gilgamesh or the travels by Odysseus. In my book The simple mathematics of Jesus I pointed to the use of the Zodiac as some kind of a map for the New Testament. I also observed that the NT ~ OT. (See some reasons to summarize the OT into the NT.) Hence, if OT ~ Homer then we may surmise that the Zodiac would also be relevant for understanding the Odyssee.

This argument holds in more cases. A criticism on Macdonald is that passages in Mark refer to passages in the OT, so that Macdonald is erroneous in linking Mark to Homer. However, when the OT is also based upon Homer, then the link could still be correct. The only inference that would change is that Mark might be less Hellenizing than Macdonald suggests.

A surprise on Plato’s cave

I was much surprised by this:

“And the great Hellenistic thinker, Plato, composed a tale that has epitomized the best of Hellenistic values and Western values since. His allegory of the cave tells us how a would-be saviour of a people will do all he can out of compassion to rescue others. But at the same time those he loves and would save will not recognize him or his claims. They will even scoff at him, and even eventually seek to kill him if they ever have the chance.

This is the essence of the Gospel message about the nature, reception and fate of Jesus. Jesus is very much the classic Hellenistic (cum Roman) hero of the gentiles. He is like Achilles and like the saviour in the parable of the Cave.” (Neil Godfrey, vridar.org, 2011-03-17)

LXX and rabbits

A standard notion is that Ptolemy Soter (367-283 BC) introduced the syncretic god Serapis to unify the beliefs of his Greek soldiers and his Egyptian subjects. A hypothesis by Russell Gmirkin is that also the Septuagint was a deliberate creation and no mere translation of what already existed in completion – see this discussion at vridar.org. An argument is that Ptolemy’s actual name was Lagos – Rabbit – and that there is no explicit mention of rabbits in the Septuagint. The latter might however also be accomplished by mere editing, so we would want to consider more arguments.

A major problem is that the OT assigns full power to the priests in Jerusalem, and it is not clear why Ptolemy would create such an OT, and why he didn’t want full power to the king, who would he himself.

It depends however upon the period. The Ptolemies and Seleucids would battle about Palestine. In the period from Alexander till the arrival of the Romans, Palestine changed hands five times. Perhaps some Ptolemaic ruler wished for an independent Palestine like a buffer state ?

It is not clear whether Godfrey develops this argument himself or copies it from Gmirkin, but check the text at vridar.org for the clou:

“Rather, one only has evidence as late as ca. 400 BCE or what Wellhausen called “Oral Torah,” that is, an authority vested in the Jerusalem priesthood rather than in a written code of laws.” 

“But there is one detail Aristobulus gives us that may be a more certain clue to the date the Septuagint was composed. In the fictional Letter to Aristeas (recall that Gmirkin believes this to have been written by Aristobulus) he tells us that the Septuagint was written at the time Arsinoe II was the wife of Ptolemy II. Though this datum is in a fictional letter, it is nonetheless true that this Arsinoe, who was the full sister of Ptolemy II, did marry her brother (according to Egyptian royal custom) some time between 279 and 273 BCE. She died in July 269 BCE.” (Neil Godfrey, vridar.org, 2012-12-30)

Elsewhere we read:

“These documents tell us of Palestine under the rule of Ptolemy 11 [sic] Philadelphus (283‑246 B.C.E.). The country was often beset by Seleucid attacks and Bedouin incur­sions. Ptolemaic military units were stationed throughout Pal­estine, and many Greek cities were established.” (MyJewishLearning.com, Palestine in the Hellinistic Age)

Thus, if we concur with the notion that the Torah (Pentateuch) was written around 270 BC then Ptolemy II had control over Palestine, and:

  • either wanted to turn Palestine into a buffer state under control of Jerusalem
  • or overlooked the possibility of taking control (by creating a suitable syncretic text)
  • or did create a syncretic text – so that the original oral tradition “was much worse”.
With all this Hellenizing, Socrates (ca. 469-499 BC) can be Jesus too

All this connects with an insight that I easily recalled from a course in philosophy in 1973:

“If one only regards the little that we know about Socrates really for certain, one would be inclined to ask: How is it possible that such a man, although he was a personality with a deep moral nature, and who died for his convictions, whose proper philosophy however is hardly seizable, has had such an immeasurable influence? One would point out that the comparison of the death of a martyr by Socrates with that of Christ and those of the earliest christian martyrs – which the texts of earliest Christianity indeed point out – have sustained a passionate memory of Socrates. But the real answer rather must be, that the impact of Socrates resides in his entirely exceptional personality, which can be humanly very close to us even after more than twenty centuries, rather than on what he taught. With him, namely, something entered into the history of mankind, what hence has become an ever deeper working inner force: the unwavering, self-sustaining, autonomous moral personality. This is the ‘Socratic Gospel’ of the internally free human, who does good only for the good.” (Hans Joachim Störig, “Geschiedenis van de filosofie”, part 1, p143, Prisma 409)

Thus, when we consider the creation of a syncretic gospel that had to combine both Judaism and Greek thought, then the authors may well have been tempted to take Socrates as the most powerful story available, and put a personage like him in the lands of Palestine.

Both Socrates and Jesus were convicted by a trial. The idea of a court trial that judges on the hero is ancient enough: compare the Osiris myth.

The best book on the trial is likely by I.F. Stone (1907-1989). Beware of hero worship however, not only w.r.t. Jesus but also w.r.t. Störig on Socrates:

“Actually, in spite of the journalistic pose, [Stone] is in Greece on a mission, having had a clear view of what he wants to do before he went. He wants to cleanse Athens of the Socratic blood guilt. Athens is a tragic protagonist, having itself violated what it holds most dear, its sacred principle of free speech. Socrates and his propagandists, Plato and Xenophon, succeeded in making Athens look bad to all later times. Socrates poses as the disinterested seeker for the truth, the man trying to turn from the darkness of the cave to the light of the sun, brought down by the prejudice of the city. Stone turns this around: Athens sought the truth and was tricked by the duplicitous Socrates. He really did engage in a conspiracy to discredit democratic openness and succeeded in getting Athens to betray itself. Lesson: philosophic detachment is inauthentic, a snare and a delusion. The thinker must be a participant in the progressive struggle of the people against the dark forces of reaction. History is the triumph of reason; distancing oneself from it in order to be reasonable is unreasonable and merely disguises old class interests. The true philosopher is éngage or committed. Thus Stone is Socrates’ accuser, the voice of Athens now become fully self-conscious and philosophic.” (Allan Bloom, review of I.F. Stone on Socrates, 1988)

I.F. Stone 1988

I.F. Stone 1988

Addendum April 8:

(1) While the Church destroyed documents with alternative views, or stopped others from copying them, the same has been done in philosophy by followers of Plato, see Michel Onfray, Les sagesses antiques

(2) In religion, there is the distinction between the theology and the daily practice (mass, births, weddings, funerals). My essay SMOJ suggests that Plato’s philosophy didn’t develop into a religion since he forgot to develop a liturgy and to train priests who would do the rituals. It may however well be that Plato did develop such a religion, namely what became known as Christianity.

Vladimir Putin called me this morning. He was his usual confidence but I sensed a tad of worry.

When Putin calls there must be a reason.

Vlad: “I did what you advised but it doesn’t work.”

Me: “Okay, I am listening.”

Vlad: “I didn’t kill Garry Kasparov yet, as you suggested, and I made sure that he was on Dutch television last Sunday. But I don’t see the headlines.”

Me: “Well, he complimented you by calling you “the most dangerous man the world has ever seen, potentially”. He even compared you to Hitler, but now with nuclear weapons. Many Dutch people are more afraid of you than ever. So you should agree that it works.”

Vlad: “Yes, of course, I watched the programme, shooting seventy tv sets to pieces. We agreed that I should experiment with democracy, so I let him have his say, so that everyone can see what idiot he is. But I don’t see a headline in The New York Times “Kasparov shows himself a great fool”. If this is democracy then I am glad that I am against it.”

Me: “But if you want people to understand that you are the most dangerous man the world has ever seen, then you need clowns like Kasparov who say so, since nobody else will dare this. Thus you cannot have the NYT to expose him as a clown, since then people will no longer listen to him, and people will no longer believe that you are the most dangerous man the world has ever seen.”

Putin went silent on the other side of the line.

Me: “Listen, democracy is a game in which you can never lose. You only have to understand its rules.”

Vlad: “I don’t play by rules. Why do you think that I am called dangerous ?”

Me: “Excuse me, I should have said “understand how it works”. You have to hand it to Kasparov: how he explained that you are no chess player since chess has rules while you are rather a poker player so that you can win even when your cards are lousy. Can’t you remember that chess game by you and me ?”

Vlad: “I thought that a silly comparison. When I play poker then I don’t have to bluff since I can always put in some nukes. But okay, I begin to understand why this interviewer Pieter Jan Hagens didn’t fall from his chair from laughter. He wanted his viewers to think that the idiot was given his freedom of speech.”

Me: “Exactly. Do also observe that Kasparov spoke with an interviewer and not with some top Dutch politicians. Kasparov could have asked them some embarrassing questions on MH17 and the Dutch Shell co-operation with Gazprom. The politicians on their part could have asked Kasparov for some real measures to hurt you. Neither happened. The trick of Dutch journalists is that they have wedged themselves into a position where they ask the questions and get paid a top income for that. Of course, such journalists are actually superfluous. People in top positions are quite capable to ask such questions themselves. They only need someone to announce who will be on the show: and anybody can do so and at a minimum wage. But this is how democracy works.”

Vlad: “And Pieter Jan Hagens thus made sure that there was no real political debate. I had to pay him for that too. I like the guy. I should invite him to Moscow to teach his tricks to my people. And they could teach him their tricks too.”

I could not suppress a shudder. I felt happy that this was a normal phone without views.

Vlad: “Still, Angela Merkel had this idiot Tsipras visiting her, and she got media coverage from all over the world, while my democratic experiment with Kasparov went unnoticed. I let the joker live ! Isn’t anybody grateful for that ?”

Me: “That is the price of being a dictator. This is a democratic world and you are the odd-man out. You will see that reaction again when Tsipras will visit you on April 8. I already wondered why you didn’t see the plight of the Greek people. If you receive and treat him while behaving as a dictator, then the world press will regard it as a non-event, but if you receive him as the inventor of democracy and a great inspiration for the European future, then the media will go berzerk.”

Vlad: “I don’t get you. You want Russia to take its example from Greece ?”

Me: “That would be a great headline ! You are doing fantastic ! Your small experiment with Kasparov on Dutch television is opening up your mind to possibilities that I hadn’t thought of myself ! Yes, look into that weird Greek system of democracy in which the largest party gets 50 seats extra. Check how Russian corruption can learn from Greek corruption in a democracy. Check how Tsipras has an inner circle with other clowns like Yannis Varoufakis, so that Kasparov’s discussion about your inner circle replacing you becomes even more silly. Check how a small determined country can wreak havoc on the world economic system, while you need a huge army and your nukes and still get expelled from the G8. I regard our discussion as very fruitful and promising. My compliments to you, the most dangerous man the world has ever known, potentially.”

Vlad, apparently pleased, but still with a tad of worry, as always when he was considering a democratic idea: “I don’t like that “potentially”. I am thinking that I will let Kasparov live a bit longer. I want him to see what I am potentially capable of.”

Garry Kasparov on Dutch tv, 2015-03-22 (Source: screenshot Buitenhof tv)

Garry Kasparov on Dutch tv, 2015-03-22 (Source: screenshot Buitenhof tv)