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Please Enlighten me on Early Church History


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#1    ambelamba

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:34 PM

Seriously.

The last book (of any sort) I bothered to read was Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman. I didn't finish it because pretty much everything was familiar to me.

But the book made me think of some possibilities. Are Bible Scholars holding back some info because it will basically anger everyone? Same thing with scientists, usually evolutionary biologists and geneticists. Maybe I am becoming paranoid but I have a feeling that there are things that they wouldn't release to the general public or even news media because what they discovered or speculated will pretty much p*** off everyone.

I think early Church history might have the same problem. The whole thing was really complicated and messy, and Christian leaders really don't want to talk about it because anyone with a functioning brain (a rarity) will start questioning the origin and purpose of Christianity itself.

Even secular scholars can be divided into only a few groups. Either Jesus was a good teacher or didn't exist. And honestly I really didn't hear about any other speculations from scholastic sectors. Chances are other speculations on Jesus would be incredibly distasteful or even blasphemous to the Nth degree.

And, surprisingly many people don't know that early churches were constantly clashing and different sects had often extremely different core theologies.

Here's what I suspect. At least one of the major proto-Christian sect was probably close to humanist and humanitarian ideology. And I am pretty darn sure this sect was not the Church of Rome.


#2    davros of skaro

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:43 PM

I highly suggest you check out "Richard Carrier" lectures on Youtube, Blogs, and type his name in "Amazon Books" to check the reviews.

http://en.wikipedia....Richard_Carrier

Edited by davros of skaro, 14 January 2014 - 11:44 PM.

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Leviticus 14 2 Peter 1:16
http://m.youtube.com...h?v=MzrIHdN9O7M <-- "Ten Lies About Jesus"
https://m.youtube.co...h?v=79Lmmy2jfeo <-- "The Mythical Jesus"
http://www.unexplain...howtopic=272571 <--Science of belief

#3    third_eye

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:07 AM

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Jesus the Man: New Interpretations from the Dead Sea Scrolls is a 1993 book written by the Australian biblical scholar and theologian Barbara Thiering. Using a technique that the author calls "pesher", she purports to have uncovered evidence that effectively contradicts the biblical story, which she calls the "surface meaning" ("for 'babes'"), regarding the nature of Jesus and his mission. The book has been widely rejected by the scholarly community.[1]

Content

The central thesis of the book is that "Jesus was the leader of a radical faction of Essene priests. He was not of virgin birth. He did not die on the Cross. He married Mary Magdalene, fathered a family, and later divorced. He died sometime after AD 64".[2]
By applying her unique interpretive method to the New Testament gospels and Dead Sea Scrolls, Thiering reconstructs a new history of early Christianity which she contends was hidden in pesher coding. She sees Jesus as a prominent member of this movement, because of his descent from the Davidic kingship, as well as the efforts of his great grandfather, Hillel the Great, and his grandfather, Heli, to establish schools of religious instruction for Jews of the Diaspora. Being technically born out of wedlock, his fortunes changed depending on the views of inheritance of the high priest in power. Unlike Simon Magus, the second most important figure in the New Testament, Jesus was a pacifist and opposed the zealots, calling for a reform and renewal of religion leading to a Jewish empire which would overrule the Roman Empire by its appeal to reason and morality.
Thiering finds that the biography of Jesus hidden in the New Testament shows him to have been born in Qumran, an Essene community beside the Dead Sea, in March, 7 BC. His brother James was born (within wedlock) in September, 1 AD. In March, 17 AD, he was initiated at the age of 23, and took a political stance in favor of his (spiritual) "father", the Annas high priest, "who taught peace with Rome and the promotion of Gentiles".[3]
Rebaptized by John the Baptist in March, 29 AD, he was soon involved in a schism from him, together with a party "called the Twelve Apostles",[4] some of whom (including Judas Iscariot and Simon Magus) were zealots and others (including Jesus), pacifists.
Thiering examines each of the miracles in the New Testament and finds in them nothing miraculous, but rather events marking turning points in the history of "the Fig Tree", as the movement was called.
  • Barbara Thiering ~ Jesus The Man ~ wiki book link
  • Pesher Technique link


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#4    Awake2Chaos

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:18 AM

Are you familiar with the Council of Nicea?


#5    davros of skaro

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:32 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesher

http://www.robertmpr...ing__riddle.htm

Posted Image
Leviticus 14 2 Peter 1:16
http://m.youtube.com...h?v=MzrIHdN9O7M <-- "Ten Lies About Jesus"
https://m.youtube.co...h?v=79Lmmy2jfeo <-- "The Mythical Jesus"
http://www.unexplain...howtopic=272571 <--Science of belief

#6    ambelamba

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:39 AM

View PostAwake2Chaos, on 15 January 2014 - 12:18 AM, said:

Are you familiar with the Council of Nicea?

I have a feeling that it was nothing like the solemn, devout kind of meeting. Probably it was closer to UFC Octagon fighting. :D

Davros, the very concept of Pesher seems like...sorry for my over-simplification but it kinda feels like some major damage control and spinning.

And the explanation by Robert Price made me think of one word: Trolling. No, not Price himself. I am talking about Pauline Letters.

Edited by ambelamba, 15 January 2014 - 12:42 AM.


#7    Paranoid Android

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:05 AM

I'm about halfway through Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist"?, and so far the book hasn't made me think anything along the lines of the OP. If anything, what it's made me think is how silly it is to deny a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

I don't think scholars are "hiding" anything. But I suspect most people would not be familiar with the material in peer-reviewed articles in the field.

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#8    Paranoid Android

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:08 AM

View Postthird_eye, on 15 January 2014 - 12:07 AM, said:


  • Barbara Thiering ~ Jesus The Man ~ wiki book link
  • Pesher Technique link


~
It was Barbara Thiering who tried to equate Jesus with the "wicked priest" referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But pretty much every scholar on the planet dates the Dead Sea Scrolls to the century before Jesus. So I wouldn't tout her work too strongly if I were you.

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#9    Awake2Chaos

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:12 AM

View PostParanoid Android, on 15 January 2014 - 01:05 AM, said:

I'm about halfway through Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist"?, and so far the book hasn't made me think anything along the lines of the OP. If anything, what it's made me think is how silly it is to deny a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

I don't think scholars are "hiding" anything. But I suspect most people would not be familiar with the material in peer-reviewed articles in the field.

I agree.  I think he was definitely a historical figure, but I question the nature of his 'divinity'.  True, supernatural being vs. man-declared deity?


#10    Paranoid Android

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:30 AM

View PostAwake2Chaos, on 15 January 2014 - 01:12 AM, said:



I agree.  I think he was definitely a historical figure, but I question the nature of his 'divinity'.  True, supernatural being vs. man-declared deity?
Absolutely. Jesus' divinity is a matter of faith, a decision I made and have no regrets over. I'm not going to argue if someone chooses not to make that same choice as I, though.

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#11    eight bits

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 06:50 AM

OP

Quote

Even secular scholars can be divided into only a few groups. Either Jesus was a good teacher or didn't exist.
Funny, it seems just the opposite. Within the past year, we've had Reza Aslan's Zealot Jesus. In years gone by, Crossan's Agrarian Reformer Jesus vied with Morton Smith's Magician Jesus.

As to blasphemous, Aslan is Muslim, and so a human Jesus is just fine in that billion-strong religion. Morton Smith's sounds blasphemous, but the actual writing was reverent. (Like Crossan, Smith was an ordained priest; the one Catholic and the other Anglican Communion).

Jesus' sex life or eatly years or social background... lots of Jesuses, many with serious advocates.

Quote

Are Bible Scholars holding back some info because it will basically anger everyone? Same thing with scientists, usually evolutionary biologists and geneticists.
Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. You have never seen as much money in one place as awaits the credentialed messenger of some fundamnetally new fact about genetics, evolutionary biology or Jesus. Every innovation p's somebody off. Besides, depending on who's p'd, that can be part of the fun.

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The whole thing was really complicated and messy.
Amen.

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#12    Leonardo

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 09:14 AM

View Postambelamba, on 14 January 2014 - 11:34 PM, said:

I think early Church history might have the same problem. The whole thing was really complicated and messy,

I honestly do not think the various Christian churches are necessarily "hiding anything" - or at least, not anything of world-shattering importance. As for Christianity being "complicated and messy", part of that is because of it's antiquity and lack of corroborating sources for it's most important 'revelations'. The only source we have for the existence of Jesus as described in the bible is the bible, etc.

Add to this that the scripture upon which Christianity bases it's tenet contains two quite conflicted 'faiths'. The Jewish faith espoused in the teachings attributed to Jesus, which is subtly (or not-so-subtly) anti-Roman; and the pro-Roman "Jewish neutral" faith espoused in the teachings predominantly attributed to Paul. Because of the conflict in the core teachings it is natural the religions based upon these teachings would also be somewhat conflicted - hence "complicated and messy".

And this is only considering the 'New Testament' scripture. Throw in the undeniably Jewish (and pro-Jewish) 'Old Testament' and that complicates the message considerably.

Edited by Leonardo, 15 January 2014 - 09:42 AM.

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#13    third_eye

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 09:23 AM

View PostParanoid Android, on 15 January 2014 - 01:08 AM, said:

It was Barbara Thiering who tried to equate Jesus with the "wicked priest" referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But pretty much every scholar on the planet dates the Dead Sea Scrolls to the century before Jesus. So I wouldn't tout her work too strongly if I were you.

Not touting but just raising some of the available studies out there that is available ... I like her manner of the Pesher technique and it is food for thought though her conclusions might not be agreeable it in no way makes all of her opinions bunk ... at least to me ... I have very little interest in her 'Religious' opinions truth be told ... much more on the 'Historical' parallels found from her reading ...

I think the dating of the Scrolls is still up in the air as far as accuracy goes PA ~ there is still much disagreement among the scholars and Scientists in the debate ~

~edit to add -

much of this 'hiding of the truth' I think stems from the efforts of eradication regarding the differing views or opinions from the early version dictated by the powers that be of the day ... it still exists today because there is 'hidden' knowledge passed on in such a manner for such a long time ... and in light of new discoveries made in recent years ... we know for certain that there is alternative teachings regarding the early beliefs concerning JC ~

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Edited by third_eye, 15 January 2014 - 09:30 AM.

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#14    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 09:30 AM

I don't think Christianity and the writings of a monastic Jewish sect are much related to each other and that way too much is made of them.  The Dead Sea Scrolls tell us more of the history of Judaism of the period, but even here are secondary.  Christianity took form in the second and third centuries and it is these periods that gave us the Christianity we have.

I would add that interpreting religion in Palestine bases on the Scrolls would be kinda like interpreting religion in the States in the twentieth century based on the Watchtower.

Edited by Frank Merton, 15 January 2014 - 09:33 AM.


#15    sutemi

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:51 AM

This really is a huge topic to try to post about so I’ll try to keep this short.  It is very difficult to put together any solid facts from this period of history, but we should remember Jesus was ‘Jewish’ and that there are always people prepared for what ever reason to embellish remembered accounts. Ancient Rome had a policy of amalgamating their gods with those they conquered where ever possible, for instance in the UK they found a shrine at a natural hot spring (the city is still called ‘Bath’), to the Goddess Sulis who they identified with their God Minerva and they built a bath complex which parts of still exist today.  We should remember this when looking back to those times. Also in 325ad Christianity was accepted by The Emperor Constantine although there is controversy over whether he was actually a Christian himself! He only took baptism just before his death. So the Romans have a history of adapting/amalgamating religious ideals and concepts for the benefit of the Empire and its Elite.
I believe there was a true historical teacher called Jesus but because Rome took his teachings as the state religion they needed to ‘adjust’ certain things in the historical accounts. For instance Pontius Pilate was recorded by a contemporary historian Philo as a ‘violent thug fond of executions without trial’ and yet in the bible he is a nice bloke who wanted to let Jesus go! He would not have been bothered about a trouble maker he had a job to do, keep the rule of law and collect taxes and had to support the Jewish elite that helped Rome to control Judea. This adjustment allowed the Romans to shift the blame for his execution on to the Jews. As The former Archbishop of Canterbury, the late Robert Runcie once wrote, "It would have been better for the moral health of Christianity if the blame had stayed with Pilate”. I also believe that this was not the only adjustment made in what in our time is referred to as PR, Rome wanted Christianity but Jesus was a problem he had some very bad ideals, like ‘It is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle’ or ‘give what you have to the poor’ these are not the sort of ideals any ruling elite would like. His family as some writers have it may have consisted of 4 brothers and 2 sisters, some what problematic for the Virgin birth and Marys continual virginity. There is also the also the rebellion in ad 66-70 and consequent attack by Vespasian and his son Titus was nothing short of genocide and then again the war of 132-5 the Jewish annals of the time record the destruction of 50 forts and 900 odd civilian centres and it is estimated the death toll was as high as a million people! So finding people who remembered acts from Pilate’s era would certainly been harder than in normal circumstances. Also the Romans also cleansed the remaining Christian texts that were in opposition to their version hence the burial of the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, which as some one who meditates I like a lot. They give another perspective which I find does not lessen Jesus’s message at all. There are many inconsistancies in the bible but you probably know many of them yourself.
Here are some good documentaries
‘The lost gospels’ by Anglican priest Peter Owen Jones including a discussion with Prof Bart Ehrman. And also
  ‘The secret family of Jesus’ Prof Robert Beckford
I would also recommend the book ‘James the brother of Jesus’ and ‘The New Testament Code’ by Prof Robert Eisenman  (but they are encyclopaedic and are not easy reading they are both over a 1000 pages long) who is a rather controversial figure to the main stream religious scholars both Jewish and Christian. He led the world wide campaign to break the scholarly monopoly of the Dead Sea scrolls and he even released a Facsimile edition of the Dead Sea scrolls. I have no problem with the historical Jesus the teachings alone say enough for me. Where I differ from the religious of most faiths is that I view all the great teachers as talking about the same supreme power, just from their own personal perspective and through the language, culture of their place and era.





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