I’d like to use this series to refute many of his key claims since they still get circulated heavily on the internet. To kick off, we will start with an extremely popular howler of his: the Serapis letter.
In Hagin’s presentation on the council of Nicaea, he belabors the claim that Christianity is based in pre-Christian, Egyptian religion and that Jesus never really existed. To start with, I challenge anyone reading this blog to name a single living scholar on earth holding a Bible or Classics related academic chair at any university who holds either of those positions. Here’s a hint: Big name New Testament scholars and researchers like Richard Carrier, Gary Habermas and Bart Ehrman have assessed those two extensively and there isn’t a single scholar holding a related university chair on earth who maintains either.
|Serapis in all his|
“Egypt, which you commended to me, my dearest Servianus, I have found to be wholly fickle and inconsistent, and continually wafted about by every breath of fame. The worshipers of Serapis [here] are called Christians, and those who are devoted to the god Serapis [I find], call themselves Bishops of Christ.”
So what’s the big deal? In short, this letter is a widely known forgery. It’s a fake.
Despite the obvious fact that the letter (if it were authentic) would be a century too old to demonstrate any meaningful Christian etiology, it is part of a late 4th century forgery entitled Historia Augusta. The Historia Augusta contains so many anachronisms that it is easily dated to AD 395. The “Serapis letter” itself is full of anachronisms demonstrating this point. Hadrian was only in Egypt in 130, and the letter mentions his adopted son Lucius Aelius, who Hadrian did not adopt until six years after. Hadrian also salutes Servianus as consul, but Servianus did receive position as consul until 134. The letter also mentions the “Patriarch of Jewry,” a position that did exist until he created it after the Jewish Revolt in 132.
Glanwill W. Bowersock, in a proceeding volume of the Genevan conference on the Historiae Augusae gives a scholastic survey of the dating of the texts. He writes:
“The presence of fiction in the Historia Augusta is by now an established fact. The mischievous author of this work pretended, as we all know, to be writing historical biographies; but this pretense, though compelling the inclusion of genuine historical material, imposed no perceptible limits on his wit and invention.”
Günter Stemberger (PhD Jewish studies, Innsbruck and Göttingen), commenting on the Serapis letter confirms, “We should hardly assume the existence of an actual event on which these remarks were based.”
There you have it. This source vaunted all over the web on Kemetic and free-thinking sites is a sham and everyone in the Classical field is aware of its dubious nature. The text is centuries too old to be written by who Hagins says it is, and it is far too late to contain any meaningful historical data which the forgery pretends to relate.