Lights Out With Pliny

Did Pliny neglect to talk about the darkness at the time of Christ? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For the sake of discussion with this post, I’m going to be assuming the darkness at the crucifixion of Christ was an actual event and not an apocalyptic image. Now granted for the sake of argument that that is the case, an objection is raised. “If this was such an event, why did Pliny never mention it? Pliny gives an exhaustive list in book 2 of the eclipses that happened.”

So it is and most people get this kind of idea from Gibbon. Surely when Pliny was recording the history of these events he would have mentioned an event of great darkness like this. Yet the solution to this for anyone is to simply look at the chapter in Pliny.

Most of us will be impressed when we hear of a chapter, but this is a short chapter in Pliny. In Latin, it is eighteen words. The relevant portion when translated reads as follows:

“eclipses are sometimes very long, like that after Cesar’s death, when the sun was pale almost a year.”

Pliny then does not give an exhaustive look at all the eclipses and thus we should not be surprised if he does not mention the one that happened at the time of Christ. What could be said about that if it is a literal event? Most people would chalk it up as some kind of anomaly. It’d be nice to have known what caused it, but they couldn’t know. It might cause some talk for awhile, but when no one could figure anything out and no great disasters happened shortly afterwards, everyone would just move on.

Do we have similar events happening other times? Yes. There was a dark day even in American history. It was back in 1780. What caused it? To this day, no one knows for sure, but no one denies that it was dark all throughout the day on that day. Details of that dark day can be found here.

If there’s one lesson definitely that we can get from this brief little look, it’s that one should always be seeking to test primary sources. On the internet, this is much easier to do. Also, if one has a device like a Kindle, one can download many old books for free and go through them and look and see. This requires just a little bit of research.

Unfortunately, while atheists usually mock Christians as being people who are gullible, too many of them wind up buying into myths like this because it just seems to fit with the idea of people being ignorant and unscientific back then and overly gullible. If there is a story that fits the picture, then the story is true, such as the myth that they believed in a flat Earth.

This is not to say Christians never do this. Unfortunately, they do, and if anyone thinks I am wrong on citing a source on this blog, then please by all means let me know. I realize I am capable of making mistakes too and I encourage everyone to check everyone else for mistakes, including myself. It has been said that a cry of the Reformation was “To the sources!” I think that is a cry we should all agree with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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