Christianity before modern times.

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#81  Postby GakuseiDon » Oct 18, 2010 9:02 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:But that’s just it—the Ebionites weren’t considered orthodox. When I asked for a theological consensus on denial of the Virgin Birth, I (obviously) didn’t mean for it to be culled from the writings of those whom the Church considered heretical.

Sorry, my mistake.

Moses de la Montagne wrote:So was Jesus literally born of a virgin or not?

Personally, I don't think so. I think the earliest layer -- Paul and Gospel of Mark -- doesn't show us that, and that we have Second Century Christians who don't believe it suggests that the earliest Christians didn't believe it either. If the virgin birth had been there from the beginning and supported by scripture, then it is harder to explain why Christians would have dropped it -- in defiance of scripture -- than why they would have picked it up if it hadn't been there from the beginning.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#82  Postby quas » Oct 22, 2010 2:09 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:Tim O’Neill and Gakusei Don would probably be better-informed than I am to do so, but if there’s a stereotype that could be applied here it’s that Byzantine Christianity has traditionally tended towards a mystical appreciation of the scriptures, whereas the Latins have been somewhat more rigorous and exacting.

I'd like to know the 'whys'. Why do the Byzantines believe so and so, why do the Latins have differing beliefs?
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#83  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Oct 22, 2010 3:53 pm

quas wrote:
Moses de la Montagne wrote:Tim O’Neill and Gakusei Don would probably be better-informed than I am to do so, but if there’s a stereotype that could be applied here it’s that Byzantine Christianity has traditionally tended towards a mystical appreciation of the scriptures, whereas the Latins have been somewhat more rigorous and exacting.

I'd like to know the 'whys'. Why do the Byzantines believe so and so, why do the Latins have differing beliefs?


The beliefs don’t necessarily differ that much. The Eastern Orthodox understand the doctrine of the Virgin Birth in the same way the Roman Catholics do—which is to say, literally.

Probably the most significant difference in scriptural interpretation is Jesus’ “thou art Peter” line, which the Catholics interpret as referring to the papacy. The Orthodox naturally don’t. As to why, I suppose it originally boiled down to differing opinions on how the Church should be constituted: as an institution with one guy at the top, or as a diverse community of churches appealing to a singular tradition. Perhaps it has to do with their cultural psychologies? The Romans (being the architects and engineers) would've evolved the more legalistic structure while the Greeks (the poets and philosophers) preferred a broader view. But that's only to return to stereotypes. In any case, the Catholic take is slightly stricter (and less Origen-esque?) although not entirely literal, since they don’t take “Peter” to refer to an actual piece of granite.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#84  Postby quas » Nov 08, 2010 10:23 am

Moses, I do have one more question.
What was Augustine's belief regarding the Ark?
You posted: "he (Augustine) nearly exhausted his capacity for creative thought in City of God to prove that an actual ark was built to house all the beasts of the world". But Wikipedia and Tim make no mention of this. Both of them only mentioned that Augustine was using the Ark dimensions to play a little Da Vinci Code and figure out what those numbers might mean spiritually or some other way. Perhaps it would help if you can provide all the passages in City of God that's related to the Ark.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#85  Postby paarsurrey » Nov 08, 2010 12:51 pm

quas wrote:These days, there is quite a lot of Christians who are not quite Biblical literalists. I say "not quite" because even though they literally believe Jesus rose from the dead, they don't believe that certain events in the OT actually happened. So, instead of being a Young Earth Creationist, they might call themselves "theistic evolutionists". For them, the flood and Noah's Ark is just a myth who were probably copied from earlier flood myths. I got into a discussion with one of them a few days ago. I told him his beliefs probably differed from early Christians, particularly the Church fathers, whom I believe were quite the literalists. And this is because he lives in modern times and thus had, in light of new superseding evidence, changed his beliefs accordingly. Had he lived prior to Darwin and the discovery of the Gilgamesh tablets, he would have been the typical Christian fundie literalist believing that a serpent could really talk to humans. He disagreed, insisting that even early Christianity already had a "strong tradition" for not taking Genesis as a literal historical account of humanity. Is he right? If so, why? What reason would the typical pre-modernity Christian have to believe that the flood never really happened?


I think a true believer has to be a Creationist in the sense that the creation started by the commandment of the Creator-God Allah YHWH with the words "To be" and everything started shaping up or evolving as per the His design. Man evolved in millions of years and Adam was the first person who conversed with the Creator-God Allah YHWH.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#86  Postby hotshoe » Nov 08, 2010 4:13 pm

paarsurrey wrote:
quas wrote:These days, there is quite a lot of Christians who are not quite Biblical literalists. I say "not quite" because even though they literally believe Jesus rose from the dead, they don't believe that certain events in the OT actually happened. So, instead of being a Young Earth Creationist, they might call themselves "theistic evolutionists". For them, the flood and Noah's Ark is just a myth who were probably copied from earlier flood myths. I got into a discussion with one of them a few days ago. I told him his beliefs probably differed from early Christians, particularly the Church fathers, whom I believe were quite the literalists. And this is because he lives in modern times and thus had, in light of new superseding evidence, changed his beliefs accordingly. Had he lived prior to Darwin and the discovery of the Gilgamesh tablets, he would have been the typical Christian fundie literalist believing that a serpent could really talk to humans. He disagreed, insisting that even early Christianity already had a "strong tradition" for not taking Genesis as a literal historical account of humanity. Is he right? If so, why? What reason would the typical pre-modernity Christian have to believe that the flood never really happened?


I think a true believer has to be a Creationist in the sense that the creation started by the commandment of the Creator-God Allah YHWH with the words "To be" and everything started shaping up or evolving as per the His design. Man evolved in millions of years and Adam was the first person who conversed with the Creator-God Allah YHWH.


That's a pretty reasonable way to look at it.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#87  Postby Onyx8 » Nov 08, 2010 10:21 pm

Certainly reasonable just completely unsupported by the only possible documentary evidence: the bible
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#88  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Nov 09, 2010 5:44 am

quas wrote:Moses, I do have one more question.
What was Augustine's belief regarding the Ark?
You posted: "he (Augustine) nearly exhausted his capacity for creative thought in City of God to prove that an actual ark was built to house all the beasts of the world". But Wikipedia and Tim make no mention of this. Both of them only mentioned that Augustine was using the Ark dimensions to play a little Da Vinci Code and figure out what those numbers might mean spiritually or some other way. Perhaps it would help if you can provide all the passages in City of God that's related to the Ark.


It’s in Book XV, chapter 27. The Catholics themselves have given this chapter a title: “Of the Ark and the Deluge, and that We Cannot Agree ... with Those Who Maintain the Figurative and Not the Historical Meaning.” Wikipedia and Tim are probably referring to the preceding chapter, no. 26, wherein an allegorical take is riffed upon.

Indeed Augustine took a good deal of metaphor away from the Flood story, but he was also quick to insist (even against rationalists who scoffed at it) that it was an historical fact.

No one ought to suppose either that these things … are only allegories, and that there were no such facts at all …


Not even the most audacious will presume to assert that these things were written without a purpose, or that though the events really happened they mean nothing, or that they did not really happen, but are only allegory. ... We must rather believe that there was a wise purpose in their being committed to memory and to writing, and that they did happen, and have a significance, and that this significance has a prophetic reference to the church.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#89  Postby willhud9 » Nov 09, 2010 5:54 am

Onyx8 wrote:Certainly reasonable just completely unsupported by the only possible documentary evidence: the bible


The view of evolution can be and is supported by the Bible...but too many Creationists who take the overly literal approach I am a heretic.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#90  Postby Onyx8 » Nov 09, 2010 6:07 am

God created humans from dust, how does that support evolution again? Is it referring to stardust over a 13.7 billion year time span?
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#91  Postby willhud9 » Nov 09, 2010 6:28 am

Or it means that man came from the particles of the earth which from a scientific viewpoint we are. Next, in Genesis 2(which is where the creation out of dust comes from) is not creation. Creation was specifically Genesis 1. Genesis 2 deals with the fall of man which many Biblical scholars except those at Liberty and other YEC institutions is believed to be figurative rather than literal as is most of Genesis in the first place.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#92  Postby willhud9 » Nov 09, 2010 6:29 am

Onyx8 wrote:God created humans from dust, how does that support evolution again? Is it referring to stardust over a 13.7 billion year time span?


It very well could mean that too be honest.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#93  Postby Onyx8 » Nov 09, 2010 7:09 am

If that's the case then it could mean absolutely anything you choose it to mean so you might as well just make up your own stories.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#94  Postby Onyx8 » Nov 09, 2010 7:10 am

Maybe it's all just allegory for "My last prophet is Muhammad, he has all the real dope"
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#95  Postby willhud9 » Nov 09, 2010 7:29 am

Onyx8 wrote:If that's the case then it could mean absolutely anything you choose it to mean so you might as well just make up your own stories.


Not at all. It has a message and that message is a theological message. Genesis 1 and 2 theological message summed up in a nutshell: God created everything, including man and woman, but man and woman were sinful and disobedient to their creator and thus were separated from God. Genesis 2 also tells how death was the consequence of ones sin. <- The theological message which is the ONLY message that the Bible portrays. It is not a history book nor a science textbook, but is is a theological book and thus must be taken and read as one.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#96  Postby quas » Nov 09, 2010 9:27 am

willhud9 wrote:Not at all. It has a message and that message is a theological message. Genesis 1 and 2 theological message summed up in a nutshell: God created everything, including man and woman, but man and woman were sinful and disobedient to their creator and thus were separated from God. Genesis 2 also tells how death was the consequence of ones sin. <- The theological message which is the ONLY message that the Bible portrays. It is not a history book nor a science textbook, but is is a theological book and thus must be taken and read as one.

In the same spirit, you could say that the resurrection never really happened as a historical event. You could, like the Jesus Seminaries guys, claimed that the resurrection was an allegory that Jesus' teachings lived on after his death. No need to believe that Jesus' physical body rose from the grave.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#97  Postby willhud9 » Nov 09, 2010 10:27 am

quas wrote:
In the same spirit, you could say that the resurrection never really happened as a historical event. You could, like the Jesus Seminaries guys, claimed that the resurrection was an allegory that Jesus' teachings lived on after his death. No need to believe that Jesus' physical body rose from the grave.


But the New Testament does not support the assertion that the resurrection did not happen. Upon reading and evaluating the New Testament, the truth of whether Christ rose from the grave is self-evident. This is seen by Paul's teachings on the resurrection and the manner he teaches it. The fact that Jesus rose is the important thing and that He conquered death.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#98  Postby Goldenmane » Nov 09, 2010 2:24 pm

willhud9 wrote:
Onyx8 wrote:If that's the case then it could mean absolutely anything you choose it to mean so you might as well just make up your own stories.


Not at all. It has a message and that message is a theological message. Genesis 1 and 2 theological message summed up in a nutshell: God created everything, including man and woman, but man and woman were sinful and disobedient to their creator and thus were separated from God. Genesis 2 also tells how death was the consequence of ones sin. <- The theological message which is the ONLY message that the Bible portrays. It is not a history book nor a science textbook, but is is a theological book and thus must be taken and read as one.


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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#99  Postby quas » Nov 09, 2010 6:13 pm

Moses,

earlier on you posted, "The Incarnation, for example, (which is still de fide) must be understood as a historical fact by the believing Catholic, upon which a variety of allegorical takes can later be applied (“God became man so that man might become divine;” “I live, yet not I, but Christ within me,” &c.)"

so what do you think of the following criticism:

"Augustine just happened to work under the premise that he was dealing with historical factuality, and wrote his text from that perspective. Deriving from this that he believed that historical factuality is a prerequisite for an allegorical meaning is begging the question. All it shows that he believed in the premise, not that he believed that the premise must be true for an allegorical meaning to exist."

Is it necessary for people like Augustine to take a similar approach to the flood and other genesis stories as he would for The Incarnation? Did he have to believe that all those Genesis stories must be true, before any allegorical meaning could be applied?
Last edited by quas on Nov 10, 2010 4:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Christianity before modern times.

#100  Postby Theodditist » Nov 10, 2010 2:39 am

I have just discovered this thread so I had to skim and skip a lot, but this has to be the most intelligent discussion I have seen here so far. Thank you everybody :)

Four comments:

1. In response to quas' question about the Alexandrian school of Exegesis, which begins around the third century, it has to be added that there was a reaction: the fourth century Antiochene school, which was associate with such prominent figures as Saint John Chrysostom. These were still not 'literalists' per se but did evidently give historicity to Adam and Eve.

2. Regarding the difference between educated and ignorant Christians in the early church; I would have to dig up something to give any detail but in the middle ages there was certainly a gulf between the official doctrines of the Church and the beliefs of people back on the ground.

3. Regarding the related issue of who has the authority to define a religion; I like to distinguish between two ways. The first and most common way in this case is statistical i.e. what does the greatest number believe? The second, and my natural preference as a history student is the historical i.e. how did it come about in the first place, and how has it developed over time? (Also a good way of understanding economics, not to mention people) Of course, these approaches correspond very closely to the popular/elite positions.

4. Going outside Christianity for a moment, there was a Jewish pseudepigraphal text called the book of Jubilees, which tried to fill in the unexplained appearance of Seth's wife in Genesis by confirming an incestuous origin for mankind. Apparently, it is pseudepigraphal (i.e. not considered inspired) largely for that reason. That is the closest thing I know to an early fundamentalist book. Even if it does not qualify as literalist in the modern sense, I would love to know if there is an early Christian equivalent, in other words, some evidence of true literalist strands. Or for that matter, any other examples in Judaism.
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