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A.D. History Podcast

Commodus on the Couch & The All-In-One Gospel: The Diatessaron | 171AD-180AD F/ Kristen E Strubberg

How accurate was Gladiator (2000) in its portrayal of Commodus‘s mental health? Why did Tatian create an all-in-one gospel the Diatessaron?



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).

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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.

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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.

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Caligula: Truly a Mad Emperor? & Roman Conquest of Britain | 41AD - 50AD Feat. Kristen E. Strubberg

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.”

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Who Wrote the Gospels? | 151AD-160AD

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.

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Historical Jesus: What Do We Know? & Founding the Kushan Empire | 31AD - 40AD

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!

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Host – Paul K. DiCostanzo

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The A.D. History Podcast explores the last two thousand years of world history in an innovative new way. Join hosts Paul K. DiCostanzo and Patrick Foote as they examine the past two millennia, beginning in 1 AD, and progressing forward ten years every episode until they reach the modern day. Within each ten-year installment, Paul and Patrick aim to share incredibly important, but often overlooked fascinating historic events and figures from around the world in prospective fashion; attempting to see history through the eyes and in the world of those who lived it. By identifying these sometimes lesser known - but in no way less significant aspects of history - the A.D. History Podcast endeavors to take these many disparate threads and weave a fuller, richer tapestry of true world history from 1AD to HD.