Philo's guide to decoding the Hebrew Bible

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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seeker
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Post by seeker » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:54 pm

Forum Monk wrote:The evidence for when the books of the New Testament were written is controversial but sustained on the basis of the documents themselves as well as the writings of other early authors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Testament
The original texts were written in Koine Greek by various authors after c. AD 45 and before c. AD 140. Its 27 books were gradually collected into a single volume over a period of several centuries...


Tertullian, in the 2nd century, is the first currently known to use the terms novum testamentum/new testament and vetus testamentum/old testament. For example, in Against Marcion book 3 [1], chapter 14, he wrote:

This may be understood to be the Divine Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel
...
Seven of the epistles of Paul are generally accepted by most modern scholars as authentic; these undisputed letters include Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, First Thessalonians, and Philemon.
...
According to tradition, the earliest of the books were the letters of Paul, and the last books to be written are those attributed to John, who is traditionally said to have lived to a very old age, perhaps dying as late as 100, although this is often disputed. Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185, stated that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome, which would be in the 60s, and Luke was written some time later.
Most secular scholars agree on the dating of the majority of the New Testament, except for the epistles and books that they consider to be pseudepigraphical (i.e., those thought not to be written by their traditional authors). For the Gospels they tend to date Mark no earlier than 65 and no later than 75. Matthew is dated between 70 and 85. Luke is usually placed within 80 to 95. However various scholars disagree with this as Luke indicates in the book of Acts that he has already written the Gospel of Luke prior to writing the introduction to Acts. Acts is written in a journal form indicating that it may have been written during Paul's journeys which it documents. That would put Acts as early as the 60's and the Gospel of Luke earlier than that. This then could push back Mark into the late 50's if one believes that Mark is the source of some of Luke's material. Early church fathers seem to support parts of that. For instance Irenaeus claims "Luke recorded the teachings of Paul, after the deaths of Peter and Paul. He wrote after the Hebrew Matthew, at around the same time as Mark, and before John." Clement though claims: "Luke was written before Mark and John and at the same time as Matthew. " When taken with Clement's writing on Mark, this means that Peter and Paul were alive at the time that Luke was written. The earliest of the books of the New Testament was First Thessalonians, an epistle of Paul, written probably in 51, or possibly Galatians in 49 according to one of two theories of its writing. Of the pseudepigraphical epistles, Christian scholars tend to place them somewhere between 70 and 150, with Second Peter usually being the latest.
Evidence of the early existence of the gospels and epistles of Paul:
Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians - dated 120CE. Polycapr claims to a personal aquaintance of John the Apostle.
He quotes from the synoptic gospels, Acts, Romans, Corinthians 1 and 2, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and 1 John

Letters of Ignatius dated 115CE written to the churches of asia minor.
He quotes from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus

Letter of Clement to the Corinthians - dated 95CE
He quotes from the Synoptic Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, and 1 Peter

The actual physical evidence of parchments and papyrii further confirms an early date for the writing of the gospels,and epistles:
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus ... ripts.html
Even within the period that runs from c. A.D. 100-300 it is possible for paleographers to be more specific on the relative date of the papyrus manuscripts of the New Testament. For about sixty years now a tiny papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John has been the oldest "manuscript" of the New Testament. This manuscript (P52) has generally been dated to ca. A.D. 125. This fact alone proved that the original Gospel of John was written earlier, viz. in the first century A.D., as had always been upheld by conservative scholars.

We now have early and very early evidence for the text of the New Testament.
...
As you can see, from the fourth century onwards the material base for establishing the text of the Greek New Testament is very good indeed. The manuscripts Sin. (Sinaiticus), A (Alexandrinus) and B (Vaticanus) are almost complete parchment manuscripts. With the help of the earlier papyrus manuscripts we have been able to establish that the text of these three great manuscripts is to a large extent reliable. The papyrus manuscript P75 was the latest to be published, but it showed a virtually identical text to manuscript B. This settled the vexed question whether we have in the parchment manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries a safe guide to the original text of the New Testament. We have.
In general the attested evidence of the NT documents is much more reliable and complete than most other classic, ancient documents.
Misleading at best. While dating is generally settled there is a problem of redactions. Mark, for example has four different endings in texts that date as late as the 5th century, in fact the three early texts that you mentioned show these discrepancies (one of them leaves out the entire account of the ressurection, ooops).

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Post by rich » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:13 pm

Soooo - do we believe people today with agendas or people from back then - also with agendas.
To me neither is conclusive enough on their own. I think - it's only my thoughts - but I think we would need to first find proof that all that is being declared as gnostic is actually gnostic and not a different form of mysticism (of which the Jews at that time appear to have no end of). To group all forms of mysticism into one isn't correct either. Or maybe I'm just using the wrong terminology by saying mysticism - maybe it should be beliefs? Yes? No?
i'm not lookin' for who or what made the earth - just who got me dizzy by makin it spin

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Post by Ishtar » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:11 pm

Rich, I agree.. and I did make the point earlier.

There were so many different groupings at that time, and although many were gnostics, others were not.

Apologies FM if I have been misleading over this in the beginning. I only realised myself - as we started to examine this in more detail - the extent of the other groupings. However, in my view, this only goes to show what a diverse seed bed Christianity evolved from, whether gnostic or mystery or whatever we want to call it.

As Bart D Ehrman says, in Misquoting Jesus (apologies for the length but I think its worthwhile reading because it lays out the context very well):
We know a good deal about Christianity during the second and third
centuries—the time, say, between the completion of the writing of the
New Testament books and the conversion of the Roman emperor
Constantine to the religion, which, as we have seen, changed everything.
These two centuries were particularly rich in theological diversity
among the early Christians. In fact, the theological diversity
was so extensive that groups calling themselves Christian adhered to
beliefs and practices that most Christians today would insist were not
Christian at all.

In the second and third centuries there were, of course, Christians
who believed that there was only one God, the Creator of all there is.
Other people who called themselves Christian, however, insisted that
there were two different gods—one of the Old Testament (a God of
wrath) and one of the New Testament (a God of love and mercy).
These were not simply two different facets of the same God: they were
actually two different gods. Strikingly, the groups that made these
claims—including the followers of Marcion, whom we have already
met—insisted that their views were the true teachings of Jesus and his
apostles.

Other groups, for example, of Gnostic Christians, insisted
that there were not just two gods, but twelve. Others said thirty.
Others still said 365. All these groups claimed to be Christian, insisting
that their views were true and had been taught by Jesus and his
followers.

Why didn't these other groups simply read their New Testaments
to see that their views were wrong? It is because there was no New
Testament. To be sure, all the books of the New Testament had been
written by this time, but there were lots of other books as well, also
claiming to be by Jesus's own apostles—other gospels, acts, epistles,
and apocalypses having very different perspectives from those found
in the books that eventually came to be called the New Testament.

The New Testament itself emerged out of these conflicts over God (or
the gods), as one group of believers acquired more converts than all
the others and decided which books should be included in the canon
of scripture. During the second and third centuries, however, there
was no agreed upon canon—and no agreed upon theology.

Instead, there was a wide range of diversity: diverse groups asserting diverse theologies based on diverse written texts, all claiming to be written by apostles of Jesus.

Some of these Christian groups insisted that God had created
this world; others maintained that the true God had not created this
world (which is, after all, an evil place), but that it was the result of a
cosmic disaster. Some of these groups insisted that the Jewish scriptures
were given by the one true God; others claimed that the Jewish
scriptures belong to the inferior God of the Jews, who was not the one
true God. Some of these groups insisted that Jesus Christ was the
one Son of God who was both completely human and completely divine;
other groups insisted that Christ was completely human and not
at all divine; others maintained that he was completely divine and not
at all human; and yet others asserted that Jesus Christ was two
things—a divine being (Christ) and a human being (Jesus).

Some of these groups believed that Christ's death brought about the salvationof the world; others maintained that Christ's death had nothing to dowith the salvation of this world; yet other groups insisted that Christ
had never actually died.

Each and every one of these viewpoints—and many others besides—
were topics of constant discussion, dialogue, and debate in the
early centuries of the church, while Christians of various persuasions
tried to convince others of the truth of their own claims. Only one
group eventually "won out" in these debates. It was this group that
decided what the Christian creeds would be: the creeds would affirm
that there is only one God, the Creator; that Jesus his Son is both
human and divine; and that salvation came by his death and resurrection.

This was also the group that decided which books would be included
in the canon of scripture. By the end of the fourth century,
most Christians agreed that the canon was to include the four Gospels,
Acts, the letters of Paul, and a group of other letters such as 1 John
and 1 Peter, along with the Apocalypse of John. And who had been
copying these texts? Christians from the congregations themselves,
Christians who were intimately aware of and even involved in the debates
over the identity of God, the status of the Jewish scriptures, the
nature of Christ, and the effects of his death.

The group that established itself as "orthodox" (meaning that it
held what it considered to be the "right belief) then determined what
future Christian generations would believe and read as scripture.
What should we call the "orthodox" views before they became the
majority opinion of all Christians? Possibly it is best to call them protoorthodox.

That is to say, they represented the views of the "orthodox"
Christians before this group had won its disputes by the early fourth
century or so.
It's also difficult to find one common demoninator among this hotpotch, although most of them had the second initiation (fire/light). As I showed in my table comparison of the OT and NT Gnostic initiation themes - Exodus and the life of Jesus - it looks as though the Literalists must have taken out all references to the second initiation, or thrown out books that talk about it - but somehow left it in with John the Baptist where it sticks out like a sore thumb, yet the question that no Christian today seems to ask is: "What is this baptism of fire that JoB promised, and why have I only had the water one?"

But the one thing that links them all is that they were all persecuted and suppressed by the burgeoning orthodox religion which took the bits it wanted of these beliefs and practises for its own purposes, and left the rest.

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Post by Ishtar » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:56 am

I don’t agree with Rich that we should go into what each and every one of these early Christian groups believed, as that will bog us down in endless, unnecessary detail.

But it might help to be a little more specific about groupings of groups, and luckily Bart Erhman has broken them all down into a nice manageable three.

Adoptionists – believed that Jesus was not divine but a full flesh and blood human being whom God had "adopted" to be his son, usually at his baptism, and that he was a Jew. The Ebionites were adoptionists, who Paul fought against because they insisted that only those who were Jewish could follow this flesh and blood Christ.

Docetists – the opposite to the Adoptionists. They maintained that Jesus was not a full flesh and blood human being. He was instead completely (and only) divine. He only "seemed" or "appeared" to be a human being, to feel hunger, thirst, and pain, to bleed, to die. Since Jesus was God, he could not really be a man. He simply came to earth in the "appearance" of human flesh. Probably the best known docetist from the early centuries of Christianity was the philosopher teacher Marcion.

Separationists (of which most are Gnostics) – this theology is thus named because it divided or separated Jesus Christ into two: the man Jesus (who was completely human) and the divine Christ (who was completely divine). Thus the man Jesus was temporarily indwelt by the divine being, Christ, enabling him to perform his miracles and deliver his teachings.But that before Jesus's death, the Christ abandoned him, forcing him to face his crucifixion alone.

When you argue with non-intelligent Christians (of which group obviously Monk is not among) they make the mistake of assuming that Gnostics post-date the first century because they cannot be attested any earlier than Justin Martyr and Iraneus’s letters railing against them.

But what they fail to realise is that a a real, historical Jesus who died on the cross for our sins cannot be attested to at all ... ever... let alone in the first century. And there is no evidence of a belief within orthodox Christianity (if it even existed then) in any kind of a Messiah who was born in a manger in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph and who walked on water and who fed the five thousand from five loaves and two fishes and yada yada yada until the gospels were canonised by Iraneus (180 CE). And the slightly earlier Polycarp, whose letter to the Philippians yes Monk - does attest to orthodox Christianity then; but it also attests to the 'heretical' groups (Adoptionists, Docetists and Separationists) at the same time, because Polycarp attacks them in the letter:

Polycarp 7:1
For every one who shall not confess that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh, is antichrist: and whosoever shall not confess the
testimony of the Cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert
the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and say that there is
neither resurrection nor judgment, that man is the firstborn of
Satan.

Polycarp 7:2
Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false
teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from
the beginning, being sober unto prayer and constant in fastings,
entreating the all-seeing God with supplications that He bring us
not into temptation, according as the Lord said, The Spirit is
indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.
Polycarp attests to Marcion (the Docetists) and the Valentinians (Gnostics).

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/polycarp.html
Polycarp disciple of the apostle John and by him ordained bishop of Smyrna was chief of all Asia, where he saw and had as teachers some of the apostles and of those who had seen the Lord. He, on account of certain questions concerning the day of the Passover, went to Rome in the time of the emperor Antoninus Pius while Anicetus ruled the church in that city.

There he led back to the faith many of the believers who had been deceived through the persuasion of Marcion and Valentinus, and when. Marcion met him by chance and said "Do you know us" he replied, "I know the firstborn of the devil." Afterwards during the reign of Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus in the fourth persecution after Nero, in the presence of the proconsul holding court at Smyrna and all the people crying out against him in the Amphitheater, he was burned. He wrote a very valuable Epistle to the Philippians which is read to the present day in the meetings in Asia.
And Monk – even if we accept your claim for the earlier Ignateus (for whose history we have to rely on Eusebius, a known 4th century forger) even Ignatius attests to the existence of hererodox groups in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:
You also mention Clement, Monk, whose writings are so distrusted by some scholars that they are referred to as a ‘romance’. But even if we accept the legitimacy of these letters, Clement attacks Paul in one of them over his row with Ebionites, thus attesting the Ebionites (Adoptionists).

So between them, Ignatius, Polycarp and Clementine attest to all three groupings: the Adoptionists (Ebionites); the Docetists (Marcionites) and the Separationists/Gnostics (Valentinians) at the time that they were writing.

Thus with no historical attestation for a real life Jesus, the first century is a level playing field for a World Cup soccer match which the Literalists eventually won... but they were neck and neck until well into extra time when Eusebius (a very expensive, foreign player who'd been brought in by oil tycoon boss Constantine) hand balled it into the goal.

He said it was the Hand of God.




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Post by Ishtar » Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:50 am

seeker wrote:
Forum Monk wrote:The evidence for when the books of the New Testament were written is controversial but sustained on the basis of the documents themselves as well as the writings of other early authors.

Misleading at best. While dating is generally settled there is a problem of redactions. Mark, for example has four different endings in texts that date as late as the 5th century, in fact the three early texts that you mentioned show these discrepancies (one of them leaves out the entire account of the ressurection, ooops).
Seeker, they were still arguing about the last 12 verses of Mark well into the 16th century. Erasmus didn't include them in his Greek version of the New Testament because he didn't find them in the much earlier Greek manuscripts he was working from. They had, however, crept into the later Latin Vulgate - so one hell of a row broke out about that and Erasmus was told in no uncertain terms that the Holy Roman Catholic Church would not endorse his Greek New Testament unless he put these verses in. Erasmus agreed to only if they could produce a Greek manuscript that contained those twelve verses. So the authorities quickly rushed one up, they invented it by translating it from the Latin Vulgate to the Greek, and then gave it to Erasmus as proof, which he bought into ... or more likely he'd lost the will to live by that point ...anyway, he gave in and published it.

And Monk, another of these interesting printers' tales - this time a row over the Trinity - is called the Johannine Comma. So we could argue over that - after all, a comma will make a change from a colon!


:lol:

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Post by pattylt » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:18 am

Forum Monk, I must point out a very controversial statement that you made. I am sorry but I can not let it go unchallenged.
You said:
Most mainstream Christian churches believe this the first prophecy, in spite of your skepticism. Many prophecies in the OT speak of the a very non-kinglike messiah, which the Jews failed to comprehend.
(my bold)
It is very arrogant to claim that the Jews did not understand their own bible and prophecies. It would be much more gracious to state that they interpreted them differently. The continued idea that Jews do not understand their own bible is ridiculous and borders on antisemitism. Since no two Christians interpret the bible the same, please give Judaism the same courtesy. /rant
I always like a dog so long as he isn't spelled backward.

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Post by seeker » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:28 am

Ishtar wrote:
Seeker, they were still arguing about the last 12 verses of Mark well into the 16th century. Erasmus didn't include them in his Greek version of the New Testament because he didn't find them in the much earlier Greek manuscripts he was working from. They had, however, crept into the later Latin Vulgate - so one hell of a row broke out about that and Erasmus was told in no uncertain terms that the Holy Roman Catholic Church would not endorse his Greek New Testament unless he put these verses in. Erasmus agreed to only if they could produce a Greek manuscript that contained those twelve verses. So the authorities quickly rushed one up, they invented it by translating it from the Latin Vulgate to the Greek, and then gave it to Erasmus as proof, which he bought into ... or more likely he'd lost the will to live by that point ...anyway, he gave in and published it.

And Monk, another of these interesting printers' tales - this time a row over the Trinity - is called the Johannine Comma. So we could argue over that - after all, a comma will make a change from a colon!


:lol:
For that matter I could have brought up the difference between the Catholic canon and the Protestant canon and argued that the differences between translations of the bible mean it is still in flux but I didn't want to pull things too far off topic.

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Post by seeker » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:48 am

rich wrote:Soooo - do we believe people today with agendas or people from back then - also with agendas.
To me neither is conclusive enough on their own. I think - it's only my thoughts - but I think we would need to first find proof that all that is being declared as gnostic is actually gnostic and not a different form of mysticism (of which the Jews at that time appear to have no end of). To group all forms of mysticism into one isn't correct either. Or maybe I'm just using the wrong terminology by saying mysticism - maybe it should be beliefs? Yes? No?
Unfortunately any discussion of religion will always end up involving agendas but that doesn't mean it isn't possible to look at religion objectively. I think the key to studying any subject thoroughly is the ability to set aside personal interests in evaluating the evidence.

Were there other forms of mysticism than Gnosticism? Certainly there were but Gnosticism was the theological underpinning of the competing mystery religions of the time. The point here is that it was such a strong element in early Christianity people were asking what the difference was, especially when Christians demanded exclusivity.

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Post by pattylt » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:42 am

Ishtar,
Using your categories of early Christians, how much, do you feel, that the loss of so many Jews/early Christians in 70CE determined the direction of Christianity? It seems to me that if the Gnostics were mainly located in the Jerusalem area, their losses would have been numerous and easily shifted the balance to the Literalists or other doctrines.

I guess I am asking is, how much did Christianity change due to the substantial losses of followers vs the doctrine just evolving over time? The circumstances of 70CE definetly changed the direction of Judaism. It led to the rise of Rabbinic Judaism, a more literal interpretation of Torah vs a mystical one, just as Christianity did.
I always like a dog so long as he isn't spelled backward.

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Post by War Arrow » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:30 am

Better keep this short as I see you're all busy discussing who was better, the Essenes or the Pharisees. Or something.
Ishtar wrote:I think you once told me before, War Arrow, that the Aztecs went one further with their placating. They weren't just going for the usual atonement .. they were trying to put the gods/spirits in debt to them.
Just an idea, and one that might be subject to a fair bit of criticism.
Ishtar wrote:This is laughable in the shamanic context. The help of the spirits is totally free anyway and those who do remain in the lower earthly dimensions, which humans inhabit, to help us do so out of their benevolence and altruism. You can't cut a deal with someone who's giving you everything out of unconditional love. There are no bad spirits - what you sometimes get is energy in the wrong place, but not the Devil which is the invention of Christians.
Interesting - you're (I guess) suggesting something developed from Shamanism in (I suppose) a quite different way to er... other religions. At least I think you are. Anyway, yes there wasn't really a strong good/evil duality, more like a favourable/unfavourable grey scale - in other words, energy in the wrong place is a good term.

Anyway, my original point was specifically relating to the (Aztec) religious figures status as intermediary in comparison to parallels mentioned here, which you've now answered so I'll let you all get on with your confusingly unMexican stuff.
Ishtar wrote:So next time you see one of these smelly individuals, I suggest you grab him by the willy and lead him to a hot, soapy bath and a scrubbing brush! Actually, you get saddhus and fakirs like that in India. It sounds very similar. But they're not necessarily holy and often can be complete charlatans.
Normally I'd concur, but in this case, all things being Mexican... or rather equal, I think (possibly misguided) reverence would be more appropriate. Just a "thought experiment". Honest. I'm not bonkers.
Mind you, some of this goes a long way to explaining stinking Aussie Tom (stinking because he stinks, not because he's an Aussie) at work. Perhaps he's a shaman (or pretending to be one).
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Post by Minimalist » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:38 am

Ken Humphreys takes another whack at old "Paul."

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/galatians.html
The novel identification of Barnabas as "Jupiter" and Paul as "Mercury" (nothing like it appears elsewhere in the New Testament) is actually NOT as original as it seems. Ovid, a Roman poet, published an anthology of Greek myths "Metamorphoses" around the year 8 AD and the whole compendium is about transformations of men and gods. One story, in particular, concerns the appearance, in Phrygia, of Jupiter and Mercury. It results in the "foundation of a new church".

"In the hills of Phrygia, an oak and a lime tree stand side by side ... There is a swamp not far from there, once habitable land but now the haunt of diving-birds and marsh-loving coots. Jupiter went there, disguised as a mortal, and Mercury, the descendant of Atlas, setting aside his wings, went with his father, carrying the caduceus. A thousand houses they approached ... But one received them: it was humble it is true, roofed with reeds and stems from the marsh, but godly. Baucis and the equally aged Philemon, had been wedded in that cottage in their younger years, and there had grown old together ...

“We are gods,” they said, “and this neighbourhood will receive just punishment for its impiety, but to you we grant exemption from that evil" ... Everywhere else vanished in the swamp ... but their old cottage, tiny even for the two of them, turned into a temple ... “We ask to be priests and watch over your temple" .... The gods’ assurance followed the prayer. ...“Let those who love the gods become gods: let those who have honoured them, be honoured."

– Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8.611-678, Philemon and Baucis meet Jupiter and Mercury.

Heavens above, surely "Luke" didn't copy his ideas?!
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Post by Ishtar » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:39 am

pattylt wrote:Ishtar,
Using your categories of early Christians, how much, do you feel, that the loss of so many Jews/early Christians in 70CE determined the direction of Christianity? It seems to me that if the Gnostics were mainly located in the Jerusalem area, their losses would have been numerous and easily shifted the balance to the Literalists or other doctrines.

I guess I am asking is, how much did Christianity change due to the substantial losses of followers vs the doctrine just evolving over time? The circumstances of 70CE definetly changed the direction of Judaism. It led to the rise of Rabbinic Judaism, a more literal interpretation of Torah vs a mystical one, just as Christianity did.
Hi Pattyit

It's difficult to say how much it determined the direction of Christianity when nobody knows what Christianity was in the first place.

However, knowing what we do about the Jews at that time, i.e. that most of them did not live in Palestine but in Egypt and Asia Minor - I'd say the the biggest influence came from those places, and in particular Alexandria, which was a sizzling hotpotch of many different creeds and beliefs of mainly Gnostic Jews like Philo, docetists and separationists (Christian gnostics).

In the first century, there were more Jews living in Alexandria than any other place in the world.

The Bible we have today is based on the following 4th century codexes:

The Codex Alexandrinus - produced in Alexandria.

The Codex Sinaiticus - produced in Egypt.

The Codex Vaticanus - produced by Eusebius in Caesarea for King Constantine.

As you can see, none were produced in Palestine.

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Post by Ishtar » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:49 am

Minimalist wrote:Ken Humphreys takes another whack at old "Paul."
Heavens above, surely "Luke" didn't copy his ideas?!
Take my hat off to Ken. Excellent find! :D

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Post by Minimalist » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:02 am

Using your categories of early Christians, how much, do you feel, that the loss of so many Jews/early Christians in 70CE determined the direction of Christianity? It seems to me that if the Gnostics were mainly located in the Jerusalem area, their losses would have been numerous and easily shifted the balance to the Literalists or other doctrines.

There is a huge assumption there, Patty. Namely that there were any "literalists" before the mid-second century.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by seeker » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:37 am

pattylt wrote:Ishtar,
Using your categories of early Christians, how much, do you feel, that the loss of so many Jews/early Christians in 70CE determined the direction of Christianity? It seems to me that if the Gnostics were mainly located in the Jerusalem area, their losses would have been numerous and easily shifted the balance to the Literalists or other doctrines.

I guess I am asking is, how much did Christianity change due to the substantial losses of followers vs the doctrine just evolving over time? The circumstances of 70CE definetly changed the direction of Judaism. It led to the rise of Rabbinic Judaism, a more literal interpretation of Torah vs a mystical one, just as Christianity did.
I'm not so sure that many early Christians had a Jewish background. In fact one consistent theme throughout history is that Jews didn't convert to Christianity all that often. Jewish views of the OT and promises to them by God are very different from Christian views. Of course I'm speculating here but it seems to me very unlikely that Christianity started as a Jewish sect even though it was heavily influenced by apocalyptic Judaism.

I do think that Gnosticism and the OT have a sort of natural attraction to each other but Judaism begins at a point in the evolution of Zoroastrianism that precedes a lot of the later concepts that Gnostics would adopt. One of the things its easy to forget is that so little was written down that it was very easy for concepts to change and evolve fairly rapidly

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