For this episode of the A.D. History Podcast, Paul and Patrick discuss the reality of Emperor Commodus and his often speculated mental health problems. They are joined by a returning guest in the third chair, TGNR’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Kristen E. Strubberg. Kristen possesses both graduate level education in psychology and neuroscience. In addition to her experience working in clinical pharmacological research.
Additionally, they explore a question from the recent “Who Wrote the Gospels?” episode: why isn’t there only a single gospel narrative in the New Testament? As opposed to the four that are now the canonical norm?
Those are valid questions, and ones Tatian in this decade proffered a solution for that today is known as the Diatessaron. So, what did the single gospel look like? Find out in this newest episode!
Emperor Commodus: A Historical & Mental Health Quagmire
Emperor Commodus is a figure whose image in the modern popular historical imagination is defined by Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of him in Gladiator (2000).
Phoenix in his portrayal of Commodus unambiguously presents as having a litany of potential mental health issues.
Despite Gladiator being a work of historical fiction that differs significantly from actual events, it is not fundamentally incongruent with how he is sketched personally by certain contemporaneous histories of Rome from that time.
So, what exactly is the truth of the matter? Did Commodus suffer from mental illness?
To help address this question as she did with Caligula prior, Kristen E. Strubberg as a returning guest helps break down the possible reality of the situation based on the available historical evidence.
Commodus in this particular respect is a very challenging historical case study, as any form of retroactive analysis about his mental health is riddled with many challenges – for which Kristen provides invaluable informed insights you don’t want to miss.
The Diatessaron: Tatian’s Attempt at Merging the Four New Testament Gospels Into One
Have you ever wondered why the Christian New Testament has four gospels instead of one? The Assyrian figure Tatian attempted to create such a single narrative by merging the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John into a single gospel. Today this document is known as the Diatessaron, an all-in-one gospel translated from Greek as “harmony of four.”
The Diatessaron is an amalgam of the four now canonical gospels created by Tatian, where he attempted to remove any instances of conflicting continuity in those four gospels – thus creating a single flowing narrative for the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.
In fact, Tatian kept all but about 50 verses in the canonical four gospels that exist today.
Though the Diatessaron is no longer of theological use in Christianity, it was the gospel of choice for Assyrian Christians until the 5th century. Learn more about its deeply fascinating greater influence in this newest episode!
*Help Support the Show & Contribute to the A.D. History Podcast on Patreon!
Host – Paul K. DiCostanzo
Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at email@example.com
Host – Patrick Foote
Write to Patrick Foote at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Domini voiced by Anna Chloe Moorey
Write to the A.D. History Podcast at email@example.com