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Who Was/Is Jesus Of Nazerath?


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#31    I AAAM

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 05:30 AM

Quote


How can you even know how accurate your gospels are?  Here is a little quote for you:

"Today we know of just over thirty papyrus manuscripts of New Testament books which can be dated before the fourth century. That number is small in comparison with the scores of copies of Homer and the dozens of copies of other famous Greek authors."
"Each copy [of the New Testament texts] has its own oddities and mistakes: no two are completely identical, or the same as the Codex Sinaiticus [ca. 350 C.E.] or other later manuscripts - Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus
yes.gif


Oooooooooh! Jesus! Now you pose a difficult question here deeeeear! Your dear old granny will have to put on her thinking wig to answer that one deeeeeear!

Nooooow, as I see it, Jesus was tha son of Yahweh who was given messages from the creators (Elohim Incorporated) to give to mankind, but the messages were mainly from his father Yahweh. He gave the messages, had a small following, and then they crucified him for his preachings and beliefs.

That other chap "Homer" you mention I think is in the cinema, does he have a son named Bart? blink.gif and a daughter named Lisa? sleepy.gif

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#32    trublvr

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 01:39 AM

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”... The doctrine of bodily resurrection also serves an essential political function: it legitimizes the authority of certain men who claim to exercise exclusive leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter. What seems to have developed in the first decades of the new movement, following the stories of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples, was a veritable rash of further appearances. The luminous Jesus was turning up all over the Mediterranean. This soon became a problem. The original disciples were busy trying to establish a network of believers, which entailed establishing doctrine and authority--i.e. a church. When questions arose, someone had to answer them; those who had experienced the Risen Christ were deemed to be in position of authority.

But now all sorts of people, in Ephesus and Antioch and Alexandria, people who had never known Jesus in life, were insisting that they had been visited by him after his death. Why were their visions any less authoritative than others? Why could they not find their own way through Jesus? What special sign of power did the disciples possess?

Somehow, between the years 30 and 70, an answer to this problem was decided on. We see it enshrined today in the New Testament. Jesus appeared BODILY to Peter, then to the other disciples. He stayed on earth BODILY form for forty days after the resurrection, and then he ascended BODILY into heaven. And that was that: no other appearances were to be considered authoritative. By appearing in a resurrected physical body to Peter and certain others, he conferred a special status on them. They were to lead his church. And this doctrine of bodily resurrection redounds to us today, for in Catholic tradition the Pope still derives his authority from Peter; the sitting Pope wears “the shoes of the Fisherman.” Every mainline Christian institution similarly claims a place in the relay of authority from Christ to Peter to the fathers and so on...”


  Seanph,

      First of all, greetings; we've never been interacted with one another.  
    
      There are some majors flaws in what you've written here.  First, it is entirely untrue that the early Christian claim of bodily resurrection was constructed in order to confer authority on the apostles.  Even if you do not believe in Jesus' resurrection, this simply does not cohere with what we see in the New Testament or of what we know of the Jewish belief in resurrection.  

       First, in the NT, any special leadership status (if we can call it that) conferred upon the disciples had already been established prior to the resurrection.  Had Jesus died and not been resurrected, and the disciples wanted to start a new religion entirely devoid of any claims about Jesus' resurrection, the disciples still would've been authoritative sources of leadership and information about Jesus simply because they were a part of his inner circle.  There is no need for Jesus' earliest followers to conjure up the resurrection event to grab at authority.

       Second, there is not an automatic correlation between having authority and being a witness of the resurrection.  You can read the NT to see this (again, even if you don't believe in it!).  For instance, Barnabas was considered an apostle (read Acts) even though he had not seen the resurrected Jesus.  Also, there seemed to be a development from the apostles to elders/prophets and bishops.  The early Christians felt no need to conjure up a resurrection event to seize power.  They were ardently interested, though, in sharing power with those who had come into the church, but experiencing the resurrected Jesus, while a foundational to the teaching about resurrection (he could be experienced because it was physical), was not foundational to leadership.  There's no mention of Timothy, Titus, Silas, Judas, Junia and Phoebe, or many other leaders in the early church experiencing the resurrected Jesus firsthand. Still, though, they were significant leaders. It is said that 500 others experienced the resurrected Jesus (1 Cor. 15); however, we know there were not 500 apostles.

     Third, when the Christians began to bring the message into Gentile territory, what would it have benefited them to make up a resurrection doctrine in order to grab at power/authority?  The Gentile world had no such belief in bodily resurrection; it was a Jewish thing.  Because there's no value concerning such a belief in the Gentile world, what would it have profited the disciples to insist on their own authority merely based upon experiencing the resurrected Jesus?  And as I've already said above, the authority conferred upon them by their proximity to Jesus during his earthly ministry would have been enough.

     Fourth, did the disciples conjure up all those embarrassing things in the four gospels to grab at authority as well?  More specifically, did they make up their lack of belief surrounding all the resurrection accounts to make themselves look good? For instance, at the end of John's gospel, you have an ashamed Peter being reinstated to leadership by Jesus after his three-fold denial of him.  Is this a power-play narrative made up to make people think that Peter is "the man?"

     Fifth, you refer to rampant appearances of Jesus all over the Mediterranean.  To what documentation/witnesses are you referring?  Who were these other people claiming to have seen the resurrected Jesus?  As I stated above, resurrection was unique to the Jewish world, so who was claiming to have experienced him in the Gentile world?  Even if one could say that gnostics or some other esoterics branches made such claims (I'm not sure they did), at most they would have said they had some mystical, airy-fairy experience, but not that they had run into the resurrected Jesus.  The antipathy between the early Christians and those with contrary/heretical views of Jesus didn't center on "I saw him and you didn't!" kind of thinking.  Mostly, such antipathy concerned the nature of the resurrection and what God's resurrection of Jesus said about the nature of the world, not who did or did not see Jesus.  Again, though, where are these scores of Jesus-appearances popping up all over the Mediterranean?

   Sixth, it seems to me that whenever people are at a loss to explain something supernatural in purely naturalistic/materialistic terms, they rely on the old "power play" argument.  "Oh, they just made this or that up to get power."  In our hyper-cynical age, people merely accept such an explanation uncritically, without thinking through whether or not such a critique is plausible.  Even if one is not convinced of Jesus' resurrection, the notion that the disciples made it up to get power is simply not plausible and not backed by any evidence.

Edited by trublvr, 06 November 2005 - 02:05 AM.

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#33    seanph

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 02:56 PM

Quote

There are some majors flaws in what you've written here. First, it is entirely untrue that the early Christian claim of bodily resurrection was constructed in order to confer authority on the apostles. Even if you do not believe in Jesus' resurrection, this simply does not cohere with what we see in the New Testament or of what we know of the Jewish belief in resurrection.


Early Christianity was wildly diverse, bitter infighting and power struggles common.  Professor Bart Ehrman provides a detailed account of this in his terrific book "Lost Christianities".  And what I quoted is consensus amongst scholars.  Again, as Russell Shorto explains in “The Gospel Truth” (p. 221-222):

”... The doctrine of bodily resurrection also serves an essential political function: it legitimizes the authority of certain men who claim to exercise exclusive leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter. What seems to have developed in the first decades of the new movement, following the stories of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples, was a veritable rash of further appearances. The luminous Jesus was turning up all over the Mediterranean. This soon became a problem. The original disciples were busy trying to establish a network of believers, which entailed establishing doctrine and authority--i.e. a church. When questions arose, someone had to answer them; those who had experienced the Risen Christ were deemed to be in position of authority.

But now all sorts of people, in Ephesus and Antioch and Alexandria, people who had never known Jesus in life, were insisting that they had been visited by him after his death. Why were their visions any less authoritative than others? Why could they not find their own way through Jesus? What special sign of power did the disciples possess?

Somehow, between the years 30 and 70, an answer to this problem was decided on. We see it enshrined today in the New Testament. Jesus appeared BODILY to Peter, then to the other disciples. He stayed on earth BODILY form for forty days after the resurrection, and then he ascended BODILY into heaven. And that was that: no other appearances were to be considered authoritative. By appearing in a resurrected physical body to Peter and certain others, he conferred a special status on them. They were to lead his church. And this doctrine of bodily resurrection redounds to us today, for in Catholic tradition the Pope still derives his authority from Peter; the sitting Pope wears “the shoes of the Fisherman.” Every mainline Christian institution similarly claims a place in the relay of authority from Christ to Peter to the fathers and so on...”


Please read the following for the full details ...

*The Gospel Truth by Russell Shorto
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

*The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels (Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

*The Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman (Professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

As for the resurrection ... Even the very conservative Catholic scholar[s] Raymond E. Brown acknowledges the resurrection to be spiritual.  As does John P. Mier and Bishop John Shelby Spong et al.

*The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

*A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1 by John P. Meier
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

*Resurrection: Myth or Reality? : A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity by John Shelby Spong
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

As for the Jewish idea of resurrection ... Quite fascinating.

Oxford Companion to the Bible:

Biblical Background.  In all but the latest parts of the Hebrew Bible, the concept of resurrection was applied not to the life of the individual after death but metaphorically to the renewal of Israel corporately after the return from exile (see Isaiah 26.19; Ezekiel 37.1–14, where the resurrection language, especially in Ezekiel 37.13, is clearly metaphorical). In apocalyptic literature, beginning with Daniel 12.2, resurrection language is applied literally, denoting coming to life again after death through an act of God in a transcendental mode of existence beyond history. This new existence, however, is not conceived in an individualistic fashion; it is the elect people of God (Daniel 12.1) who are corporately resurrected. The transcendental character of this resurrection life is indicated by such similes as “shine like the brightness of the sky” (Daniel 12.3).

Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, a concept couched in apocalyptic terms and involving a new cosmic order. It was to arrive shortly; God was already at work in Jesus’ ministry to bring it about. Jesus’ proclamation thus implied impending corporate resurrection of the people of God, or at least of those who responded positively to his message. In the controversy with the Sadducees, Jesus used a simile reminiscent of Daniel 12.3 to describe the transcendental character of the resurrection life; the resurrection will be “like angels in heaven” (Mark 12.25). Critical scholarship regards the predictions by Jesus of his own resurrection (Mark 8.31; etc.) as creations of the post-Easter community after the event. Since, however, Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom implied resurrection, there can be no question that he foresaw the corporate resurrection of God’s people as lying beyond his own death (Mark 14.25). But there is nothing in his authentic preaching to suggest that he expected an individual resurrection for himself.--REGINALD H. FULLER (Molly Laird Downs Professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary)

[I]"A particularly acute problem is created by the portrayal of the physical reality of the Lord’s risen body in some of the later stories. This seems to run counter to the earlier tradition, to Pauline teaching on the nature of the postresurrectional existence (1 Corinthians 15.35–49), and to the categorical statement in 1 Corinthians 15.50."
--R. Fuller

"God raised Jesus from the dead' is a statement of faith, not historic fact.”--Stephen J. Patterson, associate professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis

"Jesus...was...placed into a common grave, and covered over...in a very short time only some unmarked bones remained. Even the bones were gone before too long. Nature rather efficiently reclaims its own resources."[I]--[I]John S. Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, P. 241

*Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ric...troduction.html

If you are relying on the NT--particularly the gospels--for an accurate portrayal of Jesus' life and death etc ... you're in big trouble.  The gospel are midrash, literary works, faith documents--and the Vatican freely admits this.  They are not to be taken as histories.  They were written to persuade others to believe.  

As for the rest of your statement ... You are arguing from the standpoint of faith.  Why would they make up such stories etc.?  The reasons are legion, and I have addressed them in prior posts.  Please re-read them along with the numerous academic references I provided.  They are enlightening and outstanding reads.  Well worth the time and effort.  

*The Nature of the Appearances
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/halluc...ion.html#gospel

*The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Appearances
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/visionorigin.html

Kindly,

Sean

Edited by seanph, 06 November 2005 - 03:07 PM.

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#34    Jesusfan

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:30 AM

Quote


Early Christianity was wildly diverse, bitter infighting and power struggles common.  Professor Bart Ehrman provides a detailed account of this in his terrific book "Lost Christianities".  And what I quoted is consensus amongst scholars.  Again, as Russell Shorto explains in “The Gospel Truth” (p. 221-222):

”... The doctrine of bodily resurrection also serves an essential political function: it legitimizes the authority of certain men who claim to exercise exclusive leadership over the churches as the successors of the apostle Peter. What seems to have developed in the first decades of the new movement, following the stories of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples, was a veritable rash of further appearances. The luminous Jesus was turning up all over the Mediterranean. This soon became a problem. The original disciples were busy trying to establish a network of believers, which entailed establishing doctrine and authority--i.e. a church. When questions arose, someone had to answer them; those who had experienced the Risen Christ were deemed to be in position of authority.

But now all sorts of people, in Ephesus and Antioch and Alexandria, people who had never known Jesus in life, were insisting that they had been visited by him after his death. Why were their visions any less authoritative than others? Why could they not find their own way through Jesus? What special sign of power did the disciples possess?

Somehow, between the years 30 and 70, an answer to this problem was decided on. We see it enshrined today in the New Testament. Jesus appeared BODILY to Peter, then to the other disciples. He stayed on earth BODILY form for forty days after the resurrection, and then he ascended BODILY into heaven. And that was that: no other appearances were to be considered authoritative. By appearing in a resurrected physical body to Peter and certain others, he conferred a special status on them. They were to lead his church. And this doctrine of bodily resurrection redounds to us today, for in Catholic tradition the Pope still derives his authority from Peter; the sitting Pope wears “the shoes of the Fisherman.” Every mainline Christian institution similarly claims a place in the relay of authority from Christ to Peter to the fathers and so on...”


Please read the following for the full details ...

*The Gospel Truth by Russell Shorto
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

*The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels (Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

*The Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman (Professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

As for the resurrection ... Even the very conservative Catholic scholar[s] Raymond E. Brown acknowledges the resurrection to be spiritual.  As does John P. Mier and Bishop John Shelby Spong et al.

*The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

*A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, Vol. 1 by John P. Meier
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846

*Resurrection: Myth or Reality? : A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity by John Shelby Spong
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

As for the Jewish idea of resurrection ... Quite fascinating.

Oxford Companion to the Bible:

Biblical Background.  In all but the latest parts of the Hebrew Bible, the concept of resurrection was applied not to the life of the individual after death but metaphorically to the renewal of Israel corporately after the return from exile (see Isaiah 26.19; Ezekiel 37.1–14, where the resurrection language, especially in Ezekiel 37.13, is clearly metaphorical). In apocalyptic literature, beginning with Daniel 12.2, resurrection language is applied literally, denoting coming to life again after death through an act of God in a transcendental mode of existence beyond history. This new existence, however, is not conceived in an individualistic fashion; it is the elect people of God (Daniel 12.1) who are corporately resurrected. The transcendental character of this resurrection life is indicated by such similes as “shine like the brightness of the sky” (Daniel 12.3).

Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, a concept couched in apocalyptic terms and involving a new cosmic order. It was to arrive shortly; God was already at work in Jesus’ ministry to bring it about. Jesus’ proclamation thus implied impending corporate resurrection of the people of God, or at least of those who responded positively to his message. In the controversy with the Sadducees, Jesus used a simile reminiscent of Daniel 12.3 to describe the transcendental character of the resurrection life; the resurrection will be “like angels in heaven” (Mark 12.25). Critical scholarship regards the predictions by Jesus of his own resurrection (Mark 8.31; etc.) as creations of the post-Easter community after the event. Since, however, Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom implied resurrection, there can be no question that he foresaw the corporate resurrection of God’s people as lying beyond his own death (Mark 14.25). But there is nothing in his authentic preaching to suggest that he expected an individual resurrection for himself.--REGINALD H. FULLER (Molly Laird Downs Professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary)

[I]"A particularly acute problem is created by the portrayal of the physical reality of the Lord’s risen body in some of the later stories. This seems to run counter to the earlier tradition, to Pauline teaching on the nature of the postresurrectional existence (1 Corinthians 15.35–49), and to the categorical statement in 1 Corinthians 15.50."
--R. Fuller

"God raised Jesus from the dead' is a statement of faith, not historic fact.”--Stephen J. Patterson, associate professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis

"Jesus...was...placed into a common grave, and covered over...in a very short time only some unmarked bones remained. Even the bones were gone before too long. Nature rather efficiently reclaims its own resources."[I]--[I]John S. Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, P. 241

*Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ric...troduction.html

If you are relying on the NT--particularly the gospels--for an accurate portrayal of Jesus' life and death etc ... you're in big trouble.  The gospel are midrash, literary works, faith documents--and the Vatican freely admits this.  They are not to be taken as histories.  They were written to persuade others to believe.  

As for the rest of your statement ... You are arguing from the standpoint of faith.  Why would they make up such stories etc.?  The reasons are legion, and I have addressed them in prior posts.  Please re-read them along with the numerous academic references I provided.  They are enlightening and outstanding reads.  Well worth the time and effort.  

*The Nature of the Appearances
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/halluc...ion.html#gospel

*The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Appearances
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/visionorigin.html

Kindly,

Sean


Well... The earliest eyewitness accounts that we have historical evidence for, the first letters of Apostle paul, and Book of James, all show us that there was already established a well recognized branch of authority/leadership within the first generation of the Church's existence... Peter/John/James were recognized as the jewish leadership, while paul was that for the Gentiles entering into the Church..

There was no Great power struggle within the early Church, as the Apostles were official recognized as being the Supreme authority under Christ, and than there were added what could be considered additional roles of local leadership, ie, deacons/Elders within a few years...

Problem with trying to have "liberal" biblical scholarship reinterpret the actual historical event surrounding Jesus and birth of the Church is that they do not have the capacity to honestly evaluate the facts, as their is a skewed bias against the Supernatural/accuracy/inspiration of Scripture, along with a post modern view of jesus, as being just one of several wannabe messiahs/Saviours/prophets, but no inclination on their part to accept any thinking about etertain Him as thr risen Lord... They can't. since be denying God actually as a real Being, of vcourse He could not come to earth to die for Sins, since also Man is not a sinner, hence no need to be saved...

So what you have are "scholars" who come to the documented historical facts around jesus, Church, Bible etc, and they will not , no cannot, accept this as being anything close to what is stated to be true, since they are already made up their minds that God is not real, Bible is no more inspired than any other religious writing, and that Jesus could not have done the miracles/deeds,words, and most of all risen, since their mindset simply will not allow for this to have happened...

Still amazing how people can keep saying that these "truths/facts" about liberal scholarship is assured, as they come to their conclusions not based upon evaluation of the empirical data, but based upon their preconceived mindset...


#35    mako

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:10 PM

OKay, I asked you how you knew your scriptures were trustworthy and showed you how they couldn't really be trusted, yet with a typical Christian ostrich-like attitude, you never answered. Now I ask, "Can you trust Paul?"  Here is a little information to clear that up:

We need to look at Apollonius of Tyana (known as Pol of Tyana) because some of his many deeds, travels and teachings are preserved for us in the Holy Bible. Pol was the Cappadocian Savior who worked miracles, preached morals, preached a Gnostic Spiritual Christ who was a spiritual being in the world, who did not ever become corruptible flesh. Instead, this spiritual Christ, taught by Pol, entered Mithra the Christ, (as a dove) at his baptism and left him at his crucifixion. He then became the sacrifice of God’s Son, the Christ, for all mankind.

Some reports said Pol himself died (upside down) to save mankind. Much of his activities are recorded in the Bible as those things attributed to a man called Paul of Tarsus in the New Testament. Some of Pol's known letters (to the same towns listed in the Bible as letters from Paul) were known and quoted in the fourth century by Greek historians. These fourth and fifth century historians claimed Pol's letters are the basis for the letters that the (possibly fictitious?) Paul of the Bible was supposed to have written. They accused the Christians of Plagiarism (stealing someone else's work) and denied that there was any evidence that a Paul of Tarsus ever lived!

Many of these writings that are attributed to someone called Paul in the New Testament, came straight out of known Gnostic texts and other writings. It has been well demonstrated that the Paul of Tarsus in the New Testament is claimed to have done many of the same identical deeds, spoke some of the same words and made the same claims as was earlier attributed to Apollonius, who was called Pol of Tyana (a suburb of Tarsus).

Pol was a real man, a Mithraic, and/or, Gnostic philosopher who was written about in a number of Official court histories by both the Romans and the Greeks. Also recording him were the Egyptians and others. Pol preached his Gospel all over the Middle East, Europe and even over in India and Persia. The Holy Catholic Church succeeded in destroying much of this material, or of infusing Paul’s name where Pol was listed. Today we must depend on the writings of Philostratos, several others who eulogized Pol and the Christian writers who tried to discredit the claims made about Pol and his works and teachings. These defenders of Christianity tried to show that there really was a Paul even if he did do some of the same things credited to Pol of Tyana.

Many of the events that were supposed to have happened to the Paul of the New Testament, were events that were Known (and recorded) to have happened to Pol of Tyana. Some of the same words that were recorded officially as statements of Pol were reported to have been said later by Paul in the New Testament. There is not one single scrap of non-Christian evidence that Paul of the New Testament was a living person.
All of Paul's letters could be pure fabrications, clear there are multiple authors, but the originals may not have been from "Paul" either. -  MQTA of ExC.... yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#36    Mad Cobra

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:19 PM

Mako

My turn to sit back and relax and watch the argument......Round
grin2.gif

All in parallel yet so far

Cast is the illusion made is the reality

#37    mako

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:22 PM

LOL  yes.gif  The cokes and beer are in the fridge and the tan recliner is the softest...knock yourself out amigo!  yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#38    Jesusfan

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 02:02 PM

Quote


OKay, I asked you how you knew your scriptures were trustworthy and showed you how they couldn't really be trusted, yet with a typical Christian ostrich-like attitude, you never answered. Now I ask, "Can you trust Paul?"  Here is a little information to clear that up:

We need to look at Apollonius of Tyana (known as Pol of Tyana) because some of his many deeds, travels and teachings are preserved for us in the Holy Bible. Pol was the Cappadocian Savior who worked miracles, preached morals, preached a Gnostic Spiritual Christ who was a spiritual being in the world, who did not ever become corruptible flesh. Instead, this spiritual Christ, taught by Pol, entered Mithra the Christ, (as a dove) at his baptism and left him at his crucifixion. He then became the sacrifice of God’s Son, the Christ, for all mankind.

Some reports said Pol himself died (upside down) to save mankind. Much of his activities are recorded in the Bible as those things attributed to a man called Paul of Tarsus in the New Testament. Some of Pol's known letters (to the same towns listed in the Bible as letters from Paul) were known and quoted in the fourth century by Greek historians. These fourth and fifth century historians claimed Pol's letters are the basis for the letters that the (possibly fictitious?) Paul of the Bible was supposed to have written. They accused the Christians of Plagiarism (stealing someone else's work) and denied that there was any evidence that a Paul of Tarsus ever lived!

Many of these writings that are attributed to someone called Paul in the New Testament, came straight out of known Gnostic texts and other writings. It has been well demonstrated that the Paul of Tarsus in the New Testament is claimed to have done many of the same identical deeds, spoke some of the same words and made the same claims as was earlier attributed to Apollonius, who was called Pol of Tyana (a suburb of Tarsus).

Pol was a real man, a Mithraic, and/or, Gnostic philosopher who was written about in a number of Official court histories by both the Romans and the Greeks. Also recording him were the Egyptians and others. Pol preached his Gospel all over the Middle East, Europe and even over in India and Persia. The Holy Catholic Church succeeded in destroying much of this material, or of infusing Paul’s name where Pol was listed. Today we must depend on the writings of Philostratos, several others who eulogized Pol and the Christian writers who tried to discredit the claims made about Pol and his works and teachings. These defenders of Christianity tried to show that there really was a Paul even if he did do some of the same things credited to Pol of Tyana.

Many of the events that were supposed to have happened to the Paul of the New Testament, were events that were Known (and recorded) to have happened to Pol of Tyana. Some of the same words that were recorded officially as statements of Pol were reported to have been said later by Paul in the New Testament. There is not one single scrap of non-Christian evidence that Paul of the New Testament was a living person.
All of Paul's letters could be pure fabrications, clear there are multiple authors, but the originals may not have been from "Paul" either. -  MQTA of ExC.... yes.gif


Problem is that there is NO evidence that this Pol, or for that matter, Mithra, ever existed as actual historical beings... There was NEVER any factual information giving to refure the documented historical evidence for the Jesus being who the Bible claims He is, and for the reliability of the Gospels, rather there was biased "liberal" interpretation of the data being presented as "facts/truths"..

What is known, is that jesus of Nzareth was an actual being, who did miracles/healings, who claimed to be able to be God while upon the Earth, who died and was raised back to life and seen by over 500 eyewitnesses at one time... earliest writtings within Canon of NT letters appeared only few years after these events, and Paul the Apostle was known to have been an historical figure, and that as a memeber of the Pharisees, would nOT use any Gnostic doctrines, no, rather would base his understanding of work and mission of Jesus from strickly OT prespective...

In fact, full blown Gnosticism was not even around the early Church until middle second century, when "gospel of Thomas" faked letter appeared on the scene, and though there were literally dozens of such faked documents, the early Church was unanamious in having only the 4 Gospels that we recognise now as being true...


Someone can claim that Christianity rose out of the pagen/mystery religions around at that time, but the historical evidence is that it sprung up out of the fervant OT background/belief that God would one day send a Messiah to enable His people to overcome their enemies... Problem was not that Jesus was not their Messiah, no, problem was that He is a Messiah who came to overcome sin and spiritual death, with the promise of new resurrected life, but the people that He came to were instead looking for the Messiah to overcome Romans and other earthly kingdoms...

As Jesus himself said, what is more impossible, to say to one that your sins are forgiven, or to tell him to take up his mat and walk?

jesus shows us that He had the authority and power to both forgive Sins, and to heal others... Not saying that he was the only Man to ever do miracles/healings/spoke truth, but am saying that He was the ONLY historical figure to ever claim to be the Sinbearer of the whole earth, had deeds.words, and had most of all the resurrection from the grave to back it up

tell me, has your saviour ever claimed to be God, and to also been raised back to life, with eyewitnesses evidence to back this up?



#39    Mad Cobra

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 02:26 PM

Jesus was human right?

Humans are judged by god right

Jesus will also be judged by god right

Do you think he is going carry all of mankind’s sin and go hell and all the real sinners enjoy heaven? .....you are far from the truth my friend


I Know Mako I just couldn't help myself ......I’ll get another coke from the fridge! I’ll get another coke from the fridge!


All in parallel yet so far

Cast is the illusion made is the reality

#40    101

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 02:31 PM

Quote


Jesus was human right?

Humans are judged by god right

Jesus will also be judged by god right

Do you think he is going carry all of mankind’s sin and go hell and all the real sinners enjoy heaven? .....you are far from the truth my friend
I Know Mako I just couldn't help myself ......I’ll get another coke from the fridge! I’ll get another coke from the fridge!


Jesus cannot be judged by God because  he is the one in the book of Revelations with hair of wool and eyes of fire who comes to judge us.  yes.gif

Posted Image


Just remember, you can do anything (that is physically possible) that you set your mind to.  All you have to do is believe in yourself.- Mako

#41    Jesusfan

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:47 PM

Quote


Jesus was human right?

Humans are judged by god right

Jesus will also be judged by god right

Do you think he is going carry all of mankind’s sin and go hell and all the real sinners enjoy heaven? .....you are far from the truth my friend
I Know Mako I just couldn't help myself ......I’ll get another coke from the fridge! I’ll get another coke from the fridge!


True... All Humans will have to one day face God and be judged for their sins and evil works/deeds done in our flesh.

God the Father will not though be our Judge, for he has granted this rwsponsibility unto His Son jesus Christ... Which makes perfect sense since: jesus experienced all the same temptation that are common to man, yet without sin, so He really knows how to judge our hearts and thought righteously, and he has paid the price/penalty for our Sins, by becoming THE sinbearer for our sake upon the Cross... So it makes sense that as a "reward" for completing the mission of being our suffering Messiah, God would exaulted and raise Him up the glorified King and Judge...

Never said that Jesus would go to/or is in hell, just that He experienced for all who believe on His name the death that sin brings... Which is total seperation from both the Person and the Love of God... jesus, who knew no sin, and who alweays had complete unity/fellowship with His Heavenly father, had to taste what all who reject Jesus will taste... Judgement, and total seperatoion from presense of God..

Thank God that he was willing to experience that, for by His death and His resurrection, God grants the means to become the Children of God, to all whom have believed in the name of the Lord Jesus, as their Savior and Lord...


#42    Mad Cobra

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:58 PM


101 cool what you believe is what you believe.

JesusFan i don't even need to read your reply's anymore to know it’s wrong but anyway carry on!



All in parallel yet so far

Cast is the illusion made is the reality

#43    trublvr

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 04:32 PM

Seanph,

I don’t mean to be insulting here, but the as your Ehrman, Shorto, and Pagels references go:  Are you merely looking at the on-line reviews of their works and referring to them from that? I had difficulty accessing all of your sites, but when I went to Amazon, they gave me only a few excerpts (which I fully expect; after all, they do want us to buy their books!) and some reader reviews.  

In any event, I’m already familiar with the arguments of Ehrman, Pagels, and Shorto.  Honestly (as one of the reviewers said of Shorto), there is nothing new here.  Writers such as these work from a few, basic premises that have been easily and thoroughly dealt with.

The overview of this brand of thought:  Early Christianity was a “diverse” group and doesn’t end up being what we now know as Christianity until about the fourth or fifth century.  Originally, there were many different Christianities, and then big, bad Constantine and/or the primitive Catholics rose up (with imperial power on the brain, no less!), raping and pillaging these poor Christians and their original Jesus.  In their wake, what was left is the Jesus of the oppressive orthodoxy, which is the Jesus you can run into in many contemporary, “conservative” churches of our time.  This is pretty much the gist of all of them.  Though these writers and their reviewers make their ideas out to be very new and ground-breaking, hidden/Gnostic/esoteric gospels/literature have been known about and available for a very long time.  Try checking out Philip Jenkins’ Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus has Lost It’s Way for a great survey and assessment of this very old (and passé) phenomenon.  

First, it utterly preposterous to claim that Jesus—a first century, Palestinian Jew—would’ve been any proponent of gnosticism.  Gnosticism is thoroughly anti-Jewish (to be distinguished from anti-Semitic, though at times it was)!  A system of thought in which Yahweh is viewed as a lesser demi-god (demi-urge) who haphazardly and idiotically creates a broken world could not be more antithetical to any form of Judaism at the time of Jesus.  Moreover, Jesus could not have even garnered a following from any Jewish people, let alone a following which could have spawned any kind of messianic movement that was in any threatening to the Roman or Jewish establishment.  

Second, Christian and non-Christian scholars perpetually dismantle the notion that any of the gnostic literature existed prior to the mid-second century.   What is consistently demonstrated is that it was the gnostic writers who were thoroughly dependent on the more ancient Christian literature. For example, if the gnostic gospels had such primacy, why was Marcion compelled to include much of Luke’s gospel and a few of Paul’s letters in his canon?  Though he excised the Judaic tones in Luke and Paul, the fact that Maricon felt it necessary to steal from two early Christian works is indicative of the gnostics’ dependence on the early Christian literature and theology, instead of the other way around.  Jesus was a Jew, and the earliest Christians were Jewish.  Because of the Jewishness of the early Jesus movement, there is simply no way that earliest Christian theology and literature could’ve been gnostic.
Third, these writers are always trying to push the dates for NT authorship into the third or fourth centuries so that they can get the NT closer to Constantine and/or the Roman imperial church.  The reason for this has nothing to do with sound scholarship.  Instead, this line of thinking has everything to do with linking biblical, orthodox Christianity to the imperial church, thusly creating the perfect villains (Constantine and the evil church) and the perfect victims (the poor gnostics [et al] merely desired to quietly live out their alternative religion with their alternative Jesus).  In American and West European society, the meta-narrative of the oppressive church crushing the peaceful pagans who once frolicked naked and innocent through the wilderness is a powerful one. While some of these criticisms of the church and its history are validated by instances in history, this is hardly an adequate assessment of the entire history of the church.  What Pagels and her ilk seek to do is to take this contemporary meta-narrative and retroject it—uncritically and unscholastically—into the ancient situation.  Placing the creation of the NT material in proximity to the emergence of the imperial church is a huge piece of this kind of -historical revisionism.  The utterly flawed, hypocritical, and un-Christ-like Constantine and those “christians” who threw in with his court (not all did) are wonderful villains.  The problem for these writers is as follows:  From what we know of earliest Christianity, we see no political or monetary motives for the early church to preach what it did (that Yahweh’s eschaton had been realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) and to live as they did (that is, living as if the eschaton/kingdom of God had been inaugurated in what Jesus taught and accomplished).  This is deeply problematic because without materialistic, selfish motives, the notion that Jesus really is who the NT portrays him to be and that the early Christians got it right continues to be a live option.  And some of us just can’t stomach that.  

So because we militate against the biblical explanations of why the primitive church preached what it preached and lived as it lived, we are forced to come up with a materialistic, selfish motive for its claims and activity.  But we had no such motive from what we know from the evidence in- and outside of the NT.  Well (we think), if we can somehow prove that people who we know were despicable (Constantine and his crew) were responsible for creating the NT, then we can have our perfect motives and our perfect victims.  

Being that victimization is a wonderful form of Western political currency, we then idealize the ancient heretics and their heretical material!  Our attempts to do so fall flat in the face of the heretics’ own testimony.  For instance, to my feminist friends who go on and on about Elaine Pagels and how liberating and beautiful gnosticism is for women, I always point out that the gospel of Thomas ends with the gnostic Jesus saying, “Let every woman who wants to enter the kingdom of heaven first become a man.”  Usually, they are shocked that this statement is in the (so-called) gospel of Thomas (their shock revealing their utter lack of familiarity with the text). Some of them have the decency to say that they need to at least take another look at it before praising the gnostic literature.  Others, though, say something along the lines of: “Well, that’s a deep, spiritual teaching which must be read in context!  You are taking it out of context!”  To this I reply that none of the sayings of the Thomas gospel are in context (a feature many scholars erroneously use to bolster their case for an early Thomas date), so the statement cannot be softened by anything before or after it.  Also, had the same statement appeared anywhere in the canonical bible without context to soften or explain it, the same pro-Thomas (rah, rah, rah!) folks would quickly level the charge of misogyny or worse.  

Attempts to subvert the NT with any gnostic literature also fall flat because they consistently fail to explain why ANYONE would have bothered to kill Jesus in the first place!  Gnostic doctrine posed absolutely no threat to the Roman empire!  In fact, if you’re looking to run an empire, gnostic religion is a great kind of religion to have around.  First, because it is tenaciously mystical and inward-looking (navel-gazing), there’s no fear of people trying to incite insurrections or trying to gain political favor.  In fact, I know of no Roman attempt to suppress gnostics.  The more Hellenized Jesus becomes, the more difficult his death at the hands of the Romans is to explain.  Second, gnosticism was easily incorporated into Roman imperial cult worship.  Gnostics had no problem honoring the king as a “lord,” because in their thought there were many such deities.  And even if a gnostic would’ve had a problem with whether or not Caesar really was a deity, there was certainly no penalty for honoring him as such.  A gnostic would’ve done obeisance to Caesar with no fear of reprisal from the gnostic community or the gnostic deities.  Again, the Jewishness of Jesus and his message give us a much more plausible and credible understanding of why the Romans and some Jewish religious leaders would want to kill him than do the Hellenized, gnostic Jesus conjectures.  

Lastly, the NT presents us with an entirely credible portrait of the diversity in earliest Christianity.  Namely, primitive Christianity seemed to branch out in three ways: 1) Jewish Christianity (they’d glommed on to this loooong before the Ebionites); 2) Gentile Christianity (via Paul and his crew); and 3) Johannine Christianity (a sub-set of Gentile Christianity).  In these three forms were diversity, instead of the variety argued for by Pagels and the like.  The difference?  Diverse Christianity sprung out of unity—the unified view of Jesus as God’s unique, Jewish representative on earth whose vocation included making atonement for Israel’s sins and the sins of the world, and who Yahweh vindicated for all his sufferings through resurrection.  What Yahweh was supposed to do for Israel at the end of time (vindicate Israel for her sufferings at the hands of her enemies and apostate Jews), He did for Jesus (Israel’s representative) in the middle of history.  Out of this unified understanding of Jesus, grew a diversity of expression.  For Jews, Jesus was their boy, their relative (literally) and friend who walked in their neighborhoods, spoke their language, and worked miracles in their midst.  For Gentiles, they experienced and knew this Jewish Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, having had no opportunity to walk know him/identify with him in the way that the Jewish Christians did.  The Johannine crew was (along with Paul) was learning to explain Jesus in thoroughly Gentile categories (i.e., “logos”), affirming the truths that pointed to Yahweh already present in Gentile culture (by virtue of our common origin as Yahweh’s creations), while advancing critiques against pagan culture, its practices and religion.   The Jews were thoroughly aware of Spirit of God (the ruach hakodesh), and they enjoyed Spirit-fellowship with Jesus and the charismata which came from it.  The Gentiles were taught the importance of Jesus’ ethnic background and the importance of Jewish history (especially their indebtness to the Jewish people, so as to prevent what Marcion idiotically engaged in: anti-Jewish Christianity.  Check out Paul in all of Romans for this.).  In Acts, Romans, and Galatians, we find some material honestly documenting disputes between the early Christians.  The arguments were not resolved by merely allowing for a variety of “christianities” entirely cut off from the unity of the earliest witness about Jesus.  Instead, they found resolution by appealing to unity and allowing for diversity rooted in unity.

Again, when current writers try to make early Christianity out to be disparate groups with radically different views of who Jesus was, they actually betray more of their own attempts to retroject our culture into the ancient situation than they reveal anything about the ancient situation.  First, in our time, it is fashionable to use religion like an accessory, like a piece of jewelry, something that expresses something about me and my preferences, as opposed to something sacred about God. The closest parallel to our current state of religion are the gnostic and esoteric religions in the ancient world.  We try (in vain) to put Jesus in collusion with these ancient spiritualities not because we’re interested in good scholarship, but because the only way to end up with a Jesus who looks like us and uncritically condones all that we say or do is to find things in the ancient world that mirror us and our culture and to put Jesus on the side of those people or things.  So because Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar need a Jesus who looks like a white, liberal, hippie guru, they have to find ancient parallels to white, liberal, hippie gurus.  So they latch onto the Cynics, who were renowned for their public acts of irreverence (including public defecation and sex-acts) and try ardently to place Jesus in proximity to Cynics, claiming that Jesus was actually a Cynic whose sole purpose was to overthrow “the man” and to just engage in post-structuralist dialogue with people consisting of witty aphorisms.  The only problem: Cynics were not known to pal around with Jews, and there were probably no Cynics hanging around Jerusalem/Judea during Jesus’ time.  Additionally, there is absolutely no proof that Jesus hung around with Cynics or subscribed to Cynic philosophy!  None at all.  Also, Crossan’s theory (laughed at by Christian and secular critiques alike) fails to explain a) how a Cynic Jesus could’ve garnered a Jewish following (we know of no Jewish Cynic movement in the ancient world) or cool.gif why the Romans would’ve bothered with killing a Cynic Jesus (we know of no Roman anti-Cynic activity).  By the by, Crossan has endured so much Christian and non-Christian scholarly heat for this view that he doesn’t speak on it very much anymore.  I saw him debate N.T. Wright (who in addition to James D.G. Dunn are doing some of the best NT scholarship right now) in New Orleans in April, and he got obliterated by Wright (though, personally, they are great friends).  He mentioned nothing of the Cynic thesis.  Why?  Because scholars of all stripes have called him and the rest of the Jesus Seminar out for their utterly irresponsible and (intentionally) outlandish methodologies.

The liberal scholastic community also reads its very community into the NT situation.  In university settings, liberal arts majors (especially on the graduate level) are forced to come up with novel takes on literature and art, even if the view is ridiculous.  The goal: Merely to come up with something new, with novelty being some kind of hallmark of originality (which is not always the case).  I’m in no way arguing that students should not be encouraged to have new takes on old stories!  In my days as a literature major at U. New Orleans, I had wonderful professors who encouraged me to branch out and take risks in interpretation.  However, there were definite boundaries to and checks intrinsic to my work that ensured that my interpretation had to be credible.  So for me to say that Moby Dick was essentially about a homo-erotic relationship between Queequeg and the whale, might be a novel idea, but I would’ve received an “F,” because the text (and the tradition of Melvillian scholarship) simply doesn’t lead in that direction.  Melville is trying to say something in his text, and there are other people more learned than myself who have studied said text.  These two factors (among others) create limits and criteria that are necessary to guide my research and my conclusions.

However, not everyone operates this way.  With novelty becoming an end in itself (one of the excesses of post-modernity), any view of anything must be given serious consideration no matter how stupid on the basis that we must operate with “diversity.” The “diversity” is really “variety” in disguise.  With true diversity, plurality and choices are guided and shaped by an over-arching unity in purpose and/or praxis.  Here plurality springs forth form unity.  With variety (which is sadly what passes for true diversity in the West), plurality and choice are promoted for their own sake and for the sake of any and every individual’s whims with no commitment to unity.  Tribalism ensues.  This is the state of many (though not all) sectors of liberal arts scholarship, and when such scholars try their hands at NT criticism they bring this tribal pluralism with them, foisting it upon the NT writers and their communities.  

It is interesting that many of these scholars will attempt to say that the church made this up or made that up for political/economic gain, while they CLEARLY conjure up all manners of things about Jesus and the NT to make money themselves!  If we turn their criticism of the NT writers onto them, we find that they are the ones with economic and political motives and that they’re scholarship is guided by book sales, movie deals (a al Brown’s Da Vinci Code), and publicity/fame-seeking (the Jesus Seminar revealing their findings on Palm Sunday and becoming the darlings Christmas and Easter “Who is Jesus?” articles on the History and Discovery Channels and in Time and Newsweek articles).  These writers consistently cast the earliest Christians into their own mold:  a bunch of scholars coming up with different takes on Jesus, with each take fueled by his/her political, social, and/or economic motives.  But while the motives of these “scholars” are obvious, they are unable to find such motives in the early Christians.  So they just find a convenient villain from the first few centuries of Christianity and then fiddle around with time (uncritically pushing the dates of the NT documents forward) to put the villains in touch with the texts.  Then they sanitize heresies, uncritically push the dates of heretical texts back, and then claim that they (not Paul, Peter, and current believing Christians all over world) are the true inheritors of “original” Christianity.  It’s no wonder that the Jesus these writers consistently come up with bears more resemblance to a new-age hippie liberal (not all liberals fit this description or espouse such things) than he does to an ancient Jew in the Middle East.

If you want some good books to check out on Jesus and early Christianity that contain over-views and comprehensive criticism of the views represented by the writers you’ve mentioned, here you go:

The Real Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson (fmr. Benedictine monk at Emory U.)

Anything by N.T. Wright, but more specifically try The Resurrection of the Son of God or What Saint Paul Really Said

Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Re-invents the Historical Jesus ed. by Wilkins and Moreland (a number of incredible NT scholars dismantle Crossan and the rest of the Jesus Seminar point by point)

Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way by Philip Jenkins (comprehensively covers all claims about “hidden/lost” gospels and their history)

Christianity in Crisis, ed. by Farmer

The Jesus Quest by Ben Witherington (evaluates many of the newer views on Jesus)

The Gospel Code by Ben Witherington (demonstrates why the gnostic Jesus promoted by the Da Vinci Code doesn’t fit logic, the early Christian or Jewish scene, or even what scholars know of gnosticism!)

Jesus: Two Visions in which N.T. Wright and Jesus Seminar fellow Marcus Borg debate about who Jesus and the early Christians were.

Cynic, Sage, or Son of God? by Dr. Greg Boyd, who dismantles Crossan and the Jesus Seminar, even using Crossan's own admission of the defeat of his Cynic hypothesis as fodder for this book!  Also, Boyd defends the canonicity and early dating of much Lukan and Pauline literature.

I’ve read all of these except for The Resurrection of Son of God. Because this book is huge (over 1,000 pages), I’ve had to rely on Wright’s individual articles in which he unpacks his thoughts in shorter form. Also, I’m currently reading James D.G. Dunn’s first installment in his Christianity in the Making series entitled Jesus Remembered.  It’s very good, too.

If truth is not a matter of majority vote, neither is it a matter of minority dissent.        

                                                --Douglas Groothius

#44    Jesusfan

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 05:24 PM

Quote


Seanph,

I don’t mean to be insulting here, but the as your Ehrman, Shorto, and Pagels references go:  Are you merely looking at the on-line reviews of their works and referring to them from that? I had difficulty accessing all of your sites, but when I went to Amazon, they gave me only a few excerpts (which I fully expect; after all, they do want us to buy their books!) and some reader reviews.  

In any event, I’m already familiar with the arguments of Ehrman, Pagels, and Shorto.  Honestly (as one of the reviewers said of Shorto), there is nothing new here.  Writers such as these work from a few, basic premises that have been easily and thoroughly dealt with.

The overview of this brand of thought:  Early Christianity was a “diverse” group and doesn’t end up being what we now know as Christianity until about the fourth or fifth century.  Originally, there were many different Christianities, and then big, bad Constantine and/or the primitive Catholics rose up (with imperial power on the brain, no less!), raping and pillaging these poor Christians and their original Jesus.  In their wake, what was left is the Jesus of the oppressive orthodoxy, which is the Jesus you can run into in many contemporary, “conservative” churches of our time.  This is pretty much the gist of all of them.  Though these writers and their reviewers make their ideas out to be very new and ground-breaking, hidden/Gnostic/esoteric gospels/literature have been known about and available for a very long time.  Try checking out Philip Jenkins’ Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus has Lost It’s Way for a great survey and assessment of this very old (and passé) phenomenon.  

First, it utterly preposterous to claim that Jesus—a first century, Palestinian Jew—would’ve been any proponent of gnosticism.  Gnosticism is thoroughly anti-Jewish (to be distinguished from anti-Semitic, though at times it was)!  A system of thought in which Yahweh is viewed as a lesser demi-god (demi-urge) who haphazardly and idiotically creates a broken world could not be more antithetical to any form of Judaism at the time of Jesus.  Moreover, Jesus could not have even garnered a following from any Jewish people, let alone a following which could have spawned any kind of messianic movement that was in any threatening to the Roman or Jewish establishment.  

Second, Christian and non-Christian scholars perpetually dismantle the notion that any of the gnostic literature existed prior to the mid-second century.   What is consistently demonstrated is that it was the gnostic writers who were thoroughly dependent on the more ancient Christian literature. For example, if the gnostic gospels had such primacy, why was Marcion compelled to include much of Luke’s gospel and a few of Paul’s letters in his canon?  Though he excised the Judaic tones in Luke and Paul, the fact that Maricon felt it necessary to steal from two early Christian works is indicative of the gnostics’ dependence on the early Christian literature and theology, instead of the other way around.  Jesus was a Jew, and the earliest Christians were Jewish.  Because of the Jewishness of the early Jesus movement, there is simply no way that earliest Christian theology and literature could’ve been gnostic.
Third, these writers are always trying to push the dates for NT authorship into the third or fourth centuries so that they can get the NT closer to Constantine and/or the Roman imperial church.  The reason for this has nothing to do with sound scholarship.  Instead, this line of thinking has everything to do with linking biblical, orthodox Christianity to the imperial church, thusly creating the perfect villains (Constantine and the evil church) and the perfect victims (the poor gnostics [et al] merely desired to quietly live out their alternative religion with their alternative Jesus).  In American and West European society, the meta-narrative of the oppressive church crushing the peaceful pagans who once frolicked naked and innocent through the wilderness is a powerful one. While some of these criticisms of the church and its history are validated by instances in history, this is hardly an adequate assessment of the entire history of the church.  What Pagels and her ilk seek to do is to take this contemporary meta-narrative and retroject it—uncritically and unscholastically—into the ancient situation.  Placing the creation of the NT material in proximity to the emergence of the imperial church is a huge piece of this kind of -historical revisionism.  The utterly flawed, hypocritical, and un-Christ-like Constantine and those “christians” who threw in with his court (not all did) are wonderful villains.  The problem for these writers is as follows:  From what we know of earliest Christianity, we see no political or monetary motives for the early church to preach what it did (that Yahweh’s eschaton had been realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) and to live as they did (that is, living as if the eschaton/kingdom of God had been inaugurated in what Jesus taught and accomplished).  This is deeply problematic because without materialistic, selfish motives, the notion that Jesus really is who the NT portrays him to be and that the early Christians got it right continues to be a live option.  And some of us just can’t stomach that.  

So because we militate against the biblical explanations of why the primitive church preached what it preached and lived as it lived, we are forced to come up with a materialistic, selfish motive for its claims and activity.  But we had no such motive from what we know from the evidence in- and outside of the NT.  Well (we think), if we can somehow prove that people who we know were despicable (Constantine and his crew) were responsible for creating the NT, then we can have our perfect motives and our perfect victims.  

Being that victimization is a wonderful form of Western political currency, we then idealize the ancient heretics and their heretical material!  Our attempts to do so fall flat in the face of the heretics’ own testimony.  For instance, to my feminist friends who go on and on about Elaine Pagels and how liberating and beautiful gnosticism is for women, I always point out that the gospel of Thomas ends with the gnostic Jesus saying, “Let every woman who wants to enter the kingdom of heaven first become a man.”  Usually, they are shocked that this statement is in the (so-called) gospel of Thomas (their shock revealing their utter lack of familiarity with the text). Some of them have the decency to say that they need to at least take another look at it before praising the gnostic literature.  Others, though, say something along the lines of: “Well, that’s a deep, spiritual teaching which must be read in context!  You are taking it out of context!”  To this I reply that none of the sayings of the Thomas gospel are in context (a feature many scholars erroneously use to bolster their case for an early Thomas date), so the statement cannot be softened by anything before or after it.  Also, had the same statement appeared anywhere in the canonical bible without context to soften or explain it, the same pro-Thomas (rah, rah, rah!) folks would quickly level the charge of misogyny or worse.  

Attempts to subvert the NT with any gnostic literature also fall flat because they consistently fail to explain why ANYONE would have bothered to kill Jesus in the first place!  Gnostic doctrine posed absolutely no threat to the Roman empire!  In fact, if you’re looking to run an empire, gnostic religion is a great kind of religion to have around.  First, because it is tenaciously mystical and inward-looking (navel-gazing), there’s no fear of people trying to incite insurrections or trying to gain political favor.  In fact, I know of no Roman attempt to suppress gnostics.  The more Hellenized Jesus becomes, the more difficult his death at the hands of the Romans is to explain.  Second, gnosticism was easily incorporated into Roman imperial cult worship.  Gnostics had no problem honoring the king as a “lord,” because in their thought there were many such deities.  And even if a gnostic would’ve had a problem with whether or not Caesar really was a deity, there was certainly no penalty for honoring him as such.  A gnostic would’ve done obeisance to Caesar with no fear of reprisal from the gnostic community or the gnostic deities.  Again, the Jewishness of Jesus and his message give us a much more plausible and credible understanding of why the Romans and some Jewish religious leaders would want to kill him than do the Hellenized, gnostic Jesus conjectures.  

Lastly, the NT presents us with an entirely credible portrait of the diversity in earliest Christianity.  Namely, primitive Christianity seemed to branch out in three ways: 1) Jewish Christianity (they’d glommed on to this loooong before the Ebionites); 2) Gentile Christianity (via Paul and his crew); and 3) Johannine Christianity (a sub-set of Gentile Christianity).  In these three forms were diversity, instead of the variety argued for by Pagels and the like.  The difference?  Diverse Christianity sprung out of unity—the unified view of Jesus as God’s unique, Jewish representative on earth whose vocation included making atonement for Israel’s sins and the sins of the world, and who Yahweh vindicated for all his sufferings through resurrection.  What Yahweh was supposed to do for Israel at the end of time (vindicate Israel for her sufferings at the hands of her enemies and apostate Jews), He did for Jesus (Israel’s representative) in the middle of history.  Out of this unified understanding of Jesus, grew a diversity of expression.  For Jews, Jesus was their boy, their relative (literally) and friend who walked in their neighborhoods, spoke their language, and worked miracles in their midst.  For Gentiles, they experienced and knew this Jewish Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, having had no opportunity to walk know him/identify with him in the way that the Jewish Christians did.  The Johannine crew was (along with Paul) was learning to explain Jesus in thoroughly Gentile categories (i.e., “logos”), affirming the truths that pointed to Yahweh already present in Gentile culture (by virtue of our common origin as Yahweh’s creations), while advancing critiques against pagan culture, its practices and religion.   The Jews were thoroughly aware of Spirit of God (the ruach hakodesh), and they enjoyed Spirit-fellowship with Jesus and the charismata which came from it.  The Gentiles were taught the importance of Jesus’ ethnic background and the importance of Jewish history (especially their indebtness to the Jewish people, so as to prevent what Marcion idiotically engaged in: anti-Jewish Christianity.  Check out Paul in all of Romans for this.).  In Acts, Romans, and Galatians, we find some material honestly documenting disputes between the early Christians.  The arguments were not resolved by merely allowing for a variety of “christianities” entirely cut off from the unity of the earliest witness about Jesus.  Instead, they found resolution by appealing to unity and allowing for diversity rooted in unity.

Again, when current writers try to make early Christianity out to be disparate groups with radically different views of who Jesus was, they actually betray more of their own attempts to retroject our culture into the ancient situation than they reveal anything about the ancient situation.  First, in our time, it is fashionable to use religion like an accessory, like a piece of jewelry, something that expresses something about me and my preferences, as opposed to something sacred about God. The closest parallel to our current state of religion are the gnostic and esoteric religions in the ancient world.  We try (in vain) to put Jesus in collusion with these ancient spiritualities not because we’re interested in good scholarship, but because the only way to end up with a Jesus who looks like us and uncritically condones all that we say or do is to find things in the ancient world that mirror us and our culture and to put Jesus on the side of those people or things.  So because Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar need a Jesus who looks like a white, liberal, hippie guru, they have to find ancient parallels to white, liberal, hippie gurus.  So they latch onto the Cynics, who were renowned for their public acts of irreverence (including public defecation and sex-acts) and try ardently to place Jesus in proximity to Cynics, claiming that Jesus was actually a Cynic whose sole purpose was to overthrow “the man” and to just engage in post-structuralist dialogue with people consisting of witty aphorisms.  The only problem: Cynics were not known to pal around with Jews, and there were probably no Cynics hanging around Jerusalem/Judea during Jesus’ time.  Additionally, there is absolutely no proof that Jesus hung around with Cynics or subscribed to Cynic philosophy!  None at all.  Also, Crossan’s theory (laughed at by Christian and secular critiques alike) fails to explain a) how a Cynic Jesus could’ve garnered a Jewish following (we know of no Jewish Cynic movement in the ancient world) or cool.gif why the Romans would’ve bothered with killing a Cynic Jesus (we know of no Roman anti-Cynic activity).  By the by, Crossan has endured so much Christian and non-Christian scholarly heat for this view that he doesn’t speak on it very much anymore.  I saw him debate N.T. Wright (who in addition to James D.G. Dunn are doing some of the best NT scholarship right now) in New Orleans in April, and he got obliterated by Wright (though, personally, they are great friends).  He mentioned nothing of the Cynic thesis.  Why?  Because scholars of all stripes have called him and the rest of the Jesus Seminar out for their utterly irresponsible and (intentionally) outlandish methodologies.

The liberal scholastic community also reads its very community into the NT situation.  In university settings, liberal arts majors (especially on the graduate level) are forced to come up with novel takes on literature and art, even if the view is ridiculous.  The goal: Merely to come up with something new, with novelty being some kind of hallmark of originality (which is not always the case).  I’m in no way arguing that students should not be encouraged to have new takes on old stories!  In my days as a literature major at U. New Orleans, I had wonderful professors who encouraged me to branch out and take risks in interpretation.  However, there were definite boundaries to and checks intrinsic to my work that ensured that my interpretation had to be credible.  So for me to say that Moby Dick was essentially about a homo-erotic relationship between Queequeg and the whale, might be a novel idea, but I would’ve received an “F,” because the text (and the tradition of Melvillian scholarship) simply doesn’t lead in that direction.  Melville is trying to say something in his text, and there are other people more learned than myself who have studied said text.  These two factors (among others) create limits and criteria that are necessary to guide my research and my conclusions.

However, not everyone operates this way.  With novelty becoming an end in itself (one of the excesses of post-modernity), any view of anything must be given serious consideration no matter how stupid on the basis that we must operate with “diversity.” The “diversity” is really “variety” in disguise.  With true diversity, plurality and choices are guided and shaped by an over-arching unity in purpose and/or praxis.  Here plurality springs forth form unity.  With variety (which is sadly what passes for true diversity in the West), plurality and choice are promoted for their own sake and for the sake of any and every individual’s whims with no commitment to unity.  Tribalism ensues.  This is the state of many (though not all) sectors of liberal arts scholarship, and when such scholars try their hands at NT criticism they bring this tribal pluralism with them, foisting it upon the NT writers and their communities.  

It is interesting that many of these scholars will attempt to say that the church made this up or made that up for political/economic gain, while they CLEARLY conjure up all manners of things about Jesus and the NT to make money themselves!  If we turn their criticism of the NT writers onto them, we find that they are the ones with economic and political motives and that they’re scholarship is guided by book sales, movie deals (a al Brown’s Da Vinci Code), and publicity/fame-seeking (the Jesus Seminar revealing their findings on Palm Sunday and becoming the darlings Christmas and Easter “Who is Jesus?” articles on the History and Discovery Channels and in Time and Newsweek articles).  These writers consistently cast the earliest Christians into their own mold:  a bunch of scholars coming up with different takes on Jesus, with each take fueled by his/her political, social, and/or economic motives.  But while the motives of these “scholars” are obvious, they are unable to find such motives in the early Christians.  So they just find a convenient villain from the first few centuries of Christianity and then fiddle around with time (uncritically pushing the dates of the NT documents forward) to put the villains in touch with the texts.  Then they sanitize heresies, uncritically push the dates of heretical texts back, and then claim that they (not Paul, Peter, and current believing Christians all over world) are the true inheritors of “original” Christianity.  It’s no wonder that the Jesus these writers consistently come up with bears more resemblance to a new-age hippie liberal (not all liberals fit this description or espouse such things) than he does to an ancient Jew in the Middle East.

If you want some good books to check out on Jesus and early Christianity that contain over-views and comprehensive criticism of the views represented by the writers you’ve mentioned, here you go:

The Real Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson (fmr. Benedictine monk at Emory U.)

Anything by N.T. Wright, but more specifically try The Resurrection of the Son of God or What Saint Paul Really Said

Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Re-invents the Historical Jesus ed. by Wilkins and Moreland (a number of incredible NT scholars dismantle Crossan and the rest of the Jesus Seminar point by point)

Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way by Philip Jenkins (comprehensively covers all claims about “hidden/lost” gospels and their history)

Christianity in Crisis, ed. by Farmer

The Jesus Quest by Ben Witherington (evaluates many of the newer views on Jesus)

The Gospel Code by Ben Witherington (demonstrates why the gnostic Jesus promoted by the Da Vinci Code doesn’t fit logic, the early Christian or Jewish scene, or even what scholars know of gnosticism!)

Jesus: Two Visions in which N.T. Wright and Jesus Seminar fellow Marcus Borg debate about who Jesus and the early Christians were.

Cynic, Sage, or Son of God? by Dr. Greg Boyd, who dismantles Crossan and the Jesus Seminar, even using Crossan's own admission of the defeat of his Cynic hypothesis as fodder for this book!  Also, Boyd defends the canonicity and early dating of much Lukan and Pauline literature.

I’ve read all of these except for The Resurrection of Son of God. Because this book is huge (over 1,000 pages), I’ve had to rely on Wright’s individual articles in which he unpacks his thoughts in shorter form. Also, I’m currently reading James D.G. Dunn’s first installment in his Christianity in the Making series entitled Jesus Remembered.  It’s very good, too.

Apleasure in reading your posting to our discussion... just wish that those inclined to being persuaded to the "liberal/critical/modern" scholarship would take tim eout to read and think throught he various reasons why these theories don't make sense, as there is sound valid factual evidence to support the more traditional assumptions concerning jesus and the early Church foundations, and not those thought up by persons who objective stated goals are to water down the "real" Jesus of History, and to help "reveal" what his followers and early Church really believed and taught..

Think it would be wise to remember also that the Church DID NOT produce the NT/OT Scriptures, for Isreal had already produced the OT writings before jesus was even born, and that the Church merely codified in third/fourth Centuries what was already known to have been written for NT Canon, and for what Theology to have concerning jesus and his Messiahship/nature... Catholic Church did not create either jesus or NT canon, but they did formally agree to what God had aleady inspired and was recieved at such at end of the first Century...


#45    seanph

seanph

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 05:45 PM

Quote

I don’t mean to be insulting here, but the as your Ehrman, Shorto, and Pagels references go: Are you merely looking at the on-line reviews of their works and referring to them from that? I had difficulty accessing all of your sites, but when I went to Amazon, they gave me only a few excerpts (which I fully expect; after all, they do want us to buy their books!) and some reader reviews.


No problem.  The books I listed sit right before me.  In fact, I'm parousing the "Gospel Truth" (page 218) as I speak.  My library is extensive--including all my history and classics text from my college days.  I also have many sources on cd-rom--"Early Christian Writings", the "Oxford Companion to the Bible", and on DVD the lectures of Professor Bart D. Ehrman: "Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication" and the "Historical Jesus".  All exhaustive resources and consensus works.

*Professor Bart D. Ehrman
http://www.teach12.com/store/professor.asp...art+D%2E+Ehrman

*Early Christian Writings (all on CD)
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

Quote

In any event, I’m already familiar with the arguments of Ehrman, Pagels, and Shorto. Honestly (as one of the reviewers said of Shorto), there is nothing new here. Writers such as these work from a few, basic premises that have been easily and thoroughly dealt with.


Shorto's book is a book on modern biblical scholarship--a consensus of what scholars are sayings these days.  Not surprising somebody said that it contains nothing new.  And no they haven't--save by fundamentalists.  Pagels, Ehrman et al books are required reading in any college classroom--they were for me.  In fact, Pagels' "The Gnostic Gospels" was/is highly acclaimed, so much so that it was chosen by the "Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the 20th Century."  Hardly dealt with. Please read something beyond Christian conservatives like Johnson (have the paperback edition of "The Real Jesus") and Wright.  Try something new for a change.  I did.  Wasn't easy being a Christian at the time, but I did.  And grateful for it! wink2.gif

And my suggested reading list to you ...wink2.gif

*Recommended Reading List by Peter Kirby (2004)
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/books.html

*Historical Jesus Theories
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

Kindly,

Sean

Edited by seanph, 07 November 2005 - 10:47 PM.

"Any religion whose prerequisites for individual salvation don’t conduce to the salvation of the whole world is a religion whose time has passed."--Robert Wright, The Evolution of God




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