Historical Jesus

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

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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33761  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 10:14 am

dejuror wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:......So Josephus nowhere discusses messianic expectations prior to the Jewish War. Your argument appears to rely upon data that makes no reference to messianic expectations nor even messiahs of any kind, and must in turn find an explanation for that silence in the evidence to justify its use to support a claim that Josephus is talking about messianic movements! That sounds like the sort of apologetic one expects from the most erudite of theologians.


Here is exactly where your argument for an early Paul is utterly flawed.


I don't know what you mean by my "argument for an early Paul". I was not arguing "for an early Paul".

dejuror wrote:
1. Josephus wrote nothing of messianic expectations until the Jewish War c 70 CE.

Now, explain why the Pauline writers are writing about a character called Jesus the Messiah hundreds of times as if Jesus the Messiah was a household name before the Jewish War c 70 CE.??


Belief in Jesus as a messiah is NOT an expression of a widespread Jewish anticipation that a Messiah is soon to come or appear in history. That's surely obvious. I don't understand your objection.

dejuror wrote:The Pauline Corpus mentions Jesus as the Messiah over 380 times.


I have written in Vridar lots about Paul's discussion of Jesus as Messiah. What is your point?

dejuror wrote:How could Josephus miss such a prominent Messiah, the Son of God, born of the seed of David which was being proclaimed "all over" the Roman Empire by a Hebrew of Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin and a former Pharisee?


Well I don't know anyone who believes Josephus wrote that Jesus was such a Messiah. Are you saying that Josephus thought Jesus was the Messiah?

Or perhaps you are referring to scholarly reconstructions of the clearly interpolated text. That's fine. But I tend to opt for the simplest explanations. Before World War 2 you could scarcely find a scholar anywhere who gave the slightest credence to any part of the Testimonium Flavianum. This whole idea that a clearly interpolated text must have had some (imaginary) authentic core is entirely coincidental with post WW2 apologetics and ecumenical embracing of what the Jews have to tell us about Jesus. Okay, that's nice. Now let me tell you about this very famous bridge I can sell you at a bargain price . . . .

dejuror wrote:Let us compare the Epistle to the Romans with gMark--both have 16 chapters.

The author of Romans mentioned Jesus as the Messiah about 68 times

The author of gMark mentioned Jesus as the Messiah ONLY about 8 times.

Examine 1 Corinthians---Jesus called the Messiah about 59 times----gMark Only 8 times.

Examine 2 Corinthians--Jesus called the Messiah about 45 times--gMark Only 8 times.

Examine Galatians---Jesus called the Messiah about 36 times--gMark Only 8 times.

The Pauline Corpus is NOT compatible with Jewish expectations of a Messiah c 70 CE as found in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius.

The Pauline Messiah was unknown by Jewish and Roman writers of the 1st century.

The Pauline Corpus matches a later time period AFTER the writings of Philo, Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius.

It was in the 2nd century that Jesus the Messiah was a household name in the Roman Empire.

In "Against Celsus" Origen declared that Celsus wrote nothing of Paul.

It is gMark that appears to match the early Jewish and Roman writers of the 1st century---gMark's Messiah was unknown and wanted no-one to know who he was.

Mark 8:30 KJV ------And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Up to the writing of gMark, after c 70 CE, no-one was told of a Messiah called Jesus which is completely compatible with the writings of Philo, Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius.


That's all very interesting and nice. But I have no idea what it has to do with anything I have written so far. Sorry, I'm just the new boy here. Sounds like I poked my head in on a discussion that is way beyond anything of interest to me.

(By the way, I have long tended to suspect the Pauline corpus was a second century product, if that's what you are trying to prove to me.)
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33762  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 10:16 am

Mus Ponticus wrote:
spin wrote:Hell, Neil, I've been tardy here. I've been engaged in trying to pin McGrath down in the comments section of the Vridar post on his blog. I'm a b-a-a-a-d boy.
That was a fun read. I was hoping that James would engage you on the "brother of the lord"-issue. Hasn't happened yet :(


Can you give me a link? I really have tired of ever revisiting McGrath's blog/pages/posts ..... but if someone gives me a direct link I do generally follow that up. . . .

Thanks
N
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33763  Postby tanya » Jul 23, 2013 11:03 am

neilgodfrey wrote:The earliest evidence (e.g. I Corinthians 15) also says that every contact with Jesus - including those of all other apostles - was AFTER the resurrection.


Hi Neal, thanks very much for your participation here, much appreciated.

I think you may have erred in this sentence above. I believe you mean, "written text", not "evidence", for we have no "evidence" of the existence of Jesus. There exists only documents, written, in my opinion, a full century after Jesus is supposed to have lived, claiming that he had been a genuine living person, and not a character in a work of fiction.

I am aware of not one syllable, written by any of the "apostles", nor for that matter, by any of the more important, "disciples" of Jesus. The earliest texts, as far as I am aware, were penned by Justin Martyr (we have but one single manuscript, copied in the middle ages, in an Italian monastery, and in poor condition, as evidence for his text) and his colleague/student, Tatian, the Diatessaron. P52 is touted, but so fragmentary as to be of dubious authenticity. The rest seem to be copies of originals, created post Constantine.
DeJuror: It is spin, not Neil, who claims that Paul preceded the gospels, though spin declines to reply to my challenges (see post 33639, for example)
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33764  Postby Mus Ponticus » Jul 23, 2013 11:05 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:
spin wrote:Hell, Neil, I've been tardy here. I've been engaged in trying to pin McGrath down in the comments section of the Vridar post on his blog. I'm a b-a-a-a-d boy.
That was a fun read. I was hoping that James would engage you on the "brother of the lord"-issue. Hasn't happened yet :(


Can you give me a link? I really have tired of ever revisiting McGrath's blog/pages/posts ..... but if someone gives me a direct link I do generally follow that up. . . .

Thanks
N
Here you go: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/06/vridar-no-longer-available.html
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33765  Postby RealityRules » Jul 23, 2013 11:12 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
dejuror wrote:How could Josephus miss such a prominent Messiah, the Son of God, born of the seed of David which was being proclaimed "all over" the Roman Empire by a Hebrew of Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin and a former Pharisee?
Well I don't know anyone who believes Josephus wrote that Jesus was such a Messiah. Are you saying that Josephus thought Jesus was the Messiah?

Or perhaps you are referring to scholarly reconstructions of the clearly interpolated text. That's fine. But I tend to opt for the simplest explanations. Before World War 2 you could scarcely find a scholar anywhere who gave the slightest credence to any part of the Testimonium Flavianum. This whole idea that a clearly interpolated text must have had some (imaginary) authentic core is entirely coincidental with post WW2 apologetics and ecumenical embracing of what the Jews have to tell us about Jesus. Okay, that's nice. Now let me tell you about this very famous bridge I can sell you at a bargain price . . . .

Interesting comments about the recent 'emphasis' on the TF. Of course, Antiquities 20 refers to Jesus, son of Damneus.

What about Josephus's alleged mention of 19 other Jesuses, such as Jesus, son Ananias in War 6.5.3 288-309 ??
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33766  Postby Mus Ponticus » Jul 23, 2013 11:16 am

neilgodfrey wrote:That's all very interesting and nice. But I have no idea what it has to do with anything I have written so far. Sorry, I'm just the new boy here. Sounds like I poked my head in on a discussion that is way beyond anything of interest to me.
I think dejuror is our friend "aa5874" from the Freeratio/IIDB forum. aa5874 is known for just repeating the same stuff over and over and over...
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33767  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 11:20 am

Mus Ponticus wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:
spin wrote:Hell, Neil, I've been tardy here. I've been engaged in trying to pin McGrath down in the comments section of the Vridar post on his blog. I'm a b-a-a-a-d boy.
That was a fun read. I was hoping that James would engage you on the "brother of the lord"-issue. Hasn't happened yet :(


Can you give me a link? I really have tired of ever revisiting McGrath's blog/pages/posts ..... but if someone gives me a direct link I do generally follow that up. . . .

Thanks
N
Here you go: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/06/vridar-no-longer-available.html


Oh my goodness! How can that post have over 300 comments! I saw that number and just backed out. What the hell can they possibly be saying? Any chance you can do one more favour and link to a comment where I should start to read from?
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33768  Postby Mus Ponticus » Jul 23, 2013 11:32 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
Mus Ponticus wrote:That was a fun read. I was hoping that James would engage you on the "brother of the lord"-issue. Hasn't happened yet :(


Can you give me a link? I really have tired of ever revisiting McGrath's blog/pages/posts ..... but if someone gives me a direct link I do generally follow that up. . . .

Thanks
N
Here you go: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/06/vridar-no-longer-available.html


Oh my goodness! How can that post have over 300 comments! I saw that number and just backed out. What the hell can they possibly be saying? Any chance you can do one more favour and link to a comment where I should start to read from?
I don't know what comment I should link. I suspect that many of those 300 are comments regarding the shutdown of Vridar and not between spin and James. Just scroll down and look of spin's name and read those comments if you are interested. But I warn you, this isn't that fascinating. :lol:
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33769  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 11:47 am

RealityRules wrote:
Interesting comments about the recent 'emphasis' on the TF. Of course, Antiquities 20 refers to Jesus, son of Damneus.

What about Josephus's alleged mention of 19 other Jesuses, such as Jesus, son Ananias in War 6.5.3 288-309 ??


That reference to "James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ" is just as problematic as the famous TF of book 18. Check any of the last half dozen or so posts listed here for the details: http://vridar.org/?s=josephus+18+james+brother+called+

That Jesus, as you intimate here, is really the same Jesus who is the son of Damneus -- one only has to continue reading that paragraph in Josephus to see how this makes so much sense.

As for the 19 or so other Jesuses, it would make no difference if Josephus mentioned 190 Jesuses.

The point is that none of the ones he mentions are in any way evidence for any sort of general popular anticipation for a messiah to appear in that generation of Jews living in Judea.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33770  Postby RealityRules » Jul 23, 2013 12:13 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:That Jesus, as you intimate here, is really the same Jesus who is the son of Damneus -- one only has to continue reading that paragraph in Josephus to see how this makes so much sense.

the paragraph in Antiquities 20?


neilgodfrey wrote:As for the 19 or so other Jesuses, it would make no difference if Josephus mentioned 190 Jesuses.

The point is that none of the ones he mentions are in any way evidence for any sort of general popular anticipation for a messiah to appear in that generation of Jews living in Judea.

Yes; None of the 19 or so Jesus mentions are, in any way, a reasonable historical account of the alleged 'Jesus the Christ of Nazareth'.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33771  Postby spin » Jul 23, 2013 1:30 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:That Jesus, as you intimate here, is really the same Jesus who is the son of Damneus -- one only has to continue reading that paragraph in Josephus to see how this makes so much sense.

Actually it doesn't make too much sense. The reference to Jesus son of Damneus is structured as a first reference to the figure, ie you introduce the figure by giving a patronym or some other familial reference. Jesus son of Damneus is first mentioned in 20.203, while the Jesus brother of James is in 20.200. If this latter Jesus were Jesus son of Damneus, you'd expect the reference to "son of Damneus" in 20.200 to make it the first reference, but it is not there, suggesting that this first Jesus is not the son of Damneus. There is no easy way out of this. One has to suppose a more complex editorial hand at work than implied by a simple inclusion.

However, the expected grammar in the Greek of the brother of Jesus called christ James by name is not there. Greek nominal descriptors are inclusive of the form

    "the of Jesus called christ brother"
    τον Ιησου του λεγομενου Χριστου αδελφον

rather than sequential

    "the brother of Jesus called christ"
    τον αδελφον Ιησου του λεγομενου Χριστου

of the text. One would usually expect the person talked about to precede the descriptor, ie James the brother of Jesus called christ, unless the person the relative in the descriptor is already known to the reader, either recently mentioned or famous. This is not a guarantee by any means that the text was doctored, but it is suggestive of a textual problem. Maybe Josephus had dyspepsia while writing. Who knows?

But an interesting place to start analysing the issue is the use by Origen of James the brother of Jesus. His source is clearly not Josephus, though he attributes his passage (three times) to Josephus, but Josephus makes no connection between the death of James and the fall of Jerusalem as Origen does. However, Hegesippus (a name confused with Josephus) deals with the death of James and he does indirectly relate James's death to the fall of Jerusalem in such a way that it could be misconstrued. If Origen confused Hegesippus for Josephus, then we have a trajectory:

    Hegesippus, rewritten by
    --> Origen CC 1.47, influences a marginal note leading to its insertion in
    --> Josephus AJ 20.200, and all three are recorded by
    --> Eusebius EH 2:22 (who mistakes Origen's material as a separate source by Josephus)

This suggests that none of the phrase "the brother of Jesus called christ" was originally in the text, which may originally have been something like "a certain man, James by name".
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33772  Postby spin » Jul 23, 2013 1:42 pm

Mus Ponticus wrote:
spin wrote:Hell, Neil, I've been tardy here. I've been engaged in trying to pin McGrath down in the comments section of the Vridar post on his blog. I'm a b-a-a-a-d boy.
That was a fun read. I was hoping that James would engage you on the "brother of the lord"-issue. Hasn't happened yet :(

And I doubt he will. He was caught out in his "the brothers in christ" concoction. He usually doesn't commit himself substantively, preferring to hide behind the consensus of scholars. This consensus of scholars reminds me of the consensus regarding electro-shock therapy. There are some consensuses that one should never trust. (But if you have enough interest, you learn as much as you can in order to develop a critic understanding of the subject, so you are less reliant on a consensus.)
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33773  Postby Blood » Jul 23, 2013 1:59 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
RealityRules wrote:
Interesting comments about the recent 'emphasis' on the TF. Of course, Antiquities 20 refers to Jesus, son of Damneus.

What about Josephus's alleged mention of 19 other Jesuses, such as Jesus, son Ananias in War 6.5.3 288-309 ??


That reference to "James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ" is just as problematic as the famous TF of book 18. Check any of the last half dozen or so posts listed here for the details: http://vridar.org/?s=josephus+18+james+brother+called+

That Jesus, as you intimate here, is really the same Jesus who is the son of Damneus -- one only has to continue reading that paragraph in Josephus to see how this makes so much sense.

As for the 19 or so other Jesuses, it would make no difference if Josephus mentioned 190 Jesuses.

The point is that none of the ones he mentions are in any way evidence for any sort of general popular anticipation for a messiah to appear in that generation of Jews living in Judea.


True. In fact, one could argue that the commonality of the name in Josephus actually undermines the historical Jesus "called Christ." Josephus doesn't think there is anything exceptional about the name, but the New Testament writers act as if "Jesus" could only be a holy name solely given to a godman after his death, expressed most famously in the Philippians Hymn.

Philippians 2:6-11
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
"One absurdity having been granted, the rest follows. Nothing difficult about that."
- Aristotle, Physics I, 185a
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33774  Postby spin » Jul 23, 2013 2:54 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:Hell, Neil, I've been tardy here. I've been engaged in trying to pin McGrath down in the comments section of the Vridar post on his blog. I'm a b-a-a-a-d boy.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
It's certainly true that the evidence is only contained within christian tradition, yet it doesn't support the christian tradition.

That doesn't make sense to me. How can an integral part of a tradition not “support the tradition”?

What makes it an integral part? In what sense is John the Baptist an integral part of christianity? The best you've offered is a vague notion of John being a foil. Baptism doesn't fit into christianity. It has no meaning within the theology. Some duffer had to come up with this baptism with fire nonsense to trump the Johannine variety. Still people got baptized.

We'll have to agree to disagree. Baptism is as “integral” to Christianity as is a ritual eating the flesh of Christ and the confession that Christ is Lord.

There's a vague excuse with the eating the body in that Jesus is attributed with inaugurating it, but there isn't even that excuse with baptism.

neilgodfrey wrote:In Paul we can see it preceded any references to John the Baptist. There are clues throughout Mark that baptism is a symbolic motif apart from JB, as has been established I think at least since Scrogg's and Groff's 1973 JBL article, “Baptism in Mark: Dying and Rising with Christ”. Fire was part and parcel of Mark's Scriptural source for the entire scene: the new Exodus as the founding event for a new people of God is set in the wilderness, heralded by a lone prophetic voice, announcing the way, being led safely through water and fire of judgment (Isa. 40:3). . . .

Isaiah 40 has nothing to do with water and Scrogg & Groff's article is quite a butterfly effort that floats over all sorts of things including the young man who ran away naked and the young man in the tomb without justifying much of what is said in the article.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:This idea that there was some sort of competition between John the Baptist and Jesus is a product of later Christianity. It was introduced by later Christianity and the apologetic purposes are transparent. It was not there in the epistles or other pre-gospel traditions (unless one accepts modern constructs of Q as historical evidence).

If christianity started with Paul, ie his epistles, then you are getting the beginnings of christianity and he says all he is giving is christ crucified. He was apparently still working out the basics.

If you like. But again we'll have to agree to disagree. We have in Paul's letters quotations and references to traditions and hymns and christologies that preceded him. We have to accept Paul as he is.

What indicates that Jesus material precedes Paul?

neilgodfrey wrote:He gets pretty stroppy in some of his epistles about anyone wanting to change anything he teaches – not indicative of one still groping his way to thrash out a new religion. What was worked out later became either “heresy” or “orthodoxy”.

He is certainly "stroppy" about people, such as those from Jerusalem, who want to include torah observance in believers' activities. Jesus has supposedly abolished torah observance and Jerusalem, ostensibly the rump of Jesus's disciples, is still advocating circumcision and ritual purity regarding food. That doesn't smell to you that Paul got it right when the Jerusalemites didn't? The fellow who didn't receive the teaching when Jesus was on earth knew better than the disciples.

Where's the actual evidence in Gal that there were any pre-Pauline Jesus believers?

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
You're overworking the "apologetic" and "theological faith" rhetoric and I think not noticing the fact that John doesn't sit well in christianity. John is the one who receive the Elijah references leaving Jesus to play second fiddle as an Elisha figure. John talks about the eschaton, the end time, the need for repentence. Jesus gets to repeat this stuff, but it's John's message. That's upstaging, don't you think?

Apologetic and faith are not overworked. I simply introduced them as the simplest explanations for the JB passages in the gospels. Can you point to a single JB reference in the gospels that does not link directly to some OT passage? Without going into the details here, we can see that everything said about JB in the gospels is derived from Malachi, 1 and 2 Kings, Isaiah, . . . It is all “midrashic” creation if you will tolerate that word. If not, I'll use another. Whatever it's called it all amounts to the same thing. The only conceivable “secular” historical reference we have to John (Josephus) situates him at a time that excludes him from any possible role in relation to Jesus.

This doesn't amount to apologetic and faith. It's a claim that there is a hb source for every single John reference in the gospels. OK, I'll ask about the elephant in the room: what's the source for baptism?

When an evangelist crafts a baptism scene from Jewish Scriptures to introduce the new Saviour that sounds like the sort of activity that one could call a “faith” or apologetic activity.

Where is the, umm, baptism? The word comes from the verb "to dip". There needs to be a clear forerunner to the idea of baptism.

neilgodfrey wrote:The same symbolic meanings are at work as were there for Paul when he spoke of baptism. The new Israel emerging from the waters to be filled with the Holy Spirit as God's son – just as the New Exodus of Isaiah foretold is just the starter. The wilderness setting and the Elijah figure – the whole body and soul of the scene is theological symbolism through and through. There is nothing but superfluous razors for Occam's beard if we try to find room for anything historical on top of all of this.

Here's another interesting thing. It is John the Baptist who gets the Elijah material pinned to him. Jesus gets the Elisha stuff. How come John gets to wear the Elijah suit? Mal 4:5 tells us Elijah comes before the great and dreadful day of the lord, ie the eschaton. This is consistent with the gospel presentation of John, predicting the eschaton. There is no room in this for a recon mission by Jesus.

neilgodfrey wrote:If you don't see this as an “apologetic” of any kind then again we'll just have to disagree.

You seem to be using the term somehow differently. I don't see any sign of religious advocacy (as entailed in the notion of apologetic activity) in what you've been saying. You are trying to source material.

neilgodfrey wrote:There are any number of likely candidates for the source of the baptism. I thought that's pretty obvious. What's the source for the other ritual, the meal?

It's a development on the Jewish meal. See 1 Cor 11:17-22 for Paul's thoughts on it, before it gets waylaid by the Lucan last supper material. It's the bread and wine here repurposed through mystery cult ideas.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
It's not evidence, but argument from silence. The notion of thew messiah is delineated briefly in the Psalms of Solomon and to a greater extent in the DSS. The securely dated DSS by C14 are before the turn of the era and the Psalms are the same, so there is already a literary tradition to support the notion before the reputed time of Jesus.

Now you're getting my point. We have no evidence of a popular imminent messianic expectation prior to the Jewish War(s).

But you're not getting mine. You know: argument from silence.

We're talking past each other. Your argument is there despite the silence – or absence of evidence. I am simply saying lack of evidence means lack of evidence and no foundation for any argument. We can't build a case despite the lack of evidence.

I'd say that my argument is based on the implication of political activism in the Jewish context. It is extremely difficult to separate Jewish nationalism from messianism. Jewish nationalism here means the overthrow of foreign rule under the leadership of some liberator. That's messianism, when it's all attributed to the work of god.

neilgodfrey wrote:My argument is based on the way the term “messiah” is used in the evidence we do have. It never applies to a contemporary figure until the Jewish War/s at end of first and early second centuries.

OK. While it's obvious to me that the christians are not going to use the term for anyone but Jesus and the Jews are not going to use it in retrospect for anyone who gets killed, that is strong case to dismiss the lack of use of the term and look for the manifestations of Jewish nationalism. You want someone to use the term, yet there is no-one available to do so.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:The notion of the messiah is found in many Jewish texts. The question remains, though, whether these notions were part of the wider popular consciousness. We have no evidence that they were. The texts speak of a messiah at the “end of days” – suggesting a distant future time. There is no evidence that such an idea was translated into having any immediate relevance to the society of the day among the general population.

We have no wider evidence of very much about Judea in the first century, let alone views of what the general population found relevant. The literature that you are trying to separate from the general population is most of what we have about the period. The literature talks of messianism. Messianism was a strongly political notion involving the overthrow of foreign rulers and we have traces of several political moves, taken to be vaguely independence oriented, that the Romans crushed in Palestine.

We can't validly squeeze the evidence we have for one subset to fit into gaps left by the absence of evidence in other areas without serious justification. We have no reason to assume that the literary evidence we have was in the consciousness of the general populace, let alone that it was interpreted to apply to imminent political events. The Gospel of Matthew nativity scene even assumes the contrary – that the general populace were not filled with any such anticipation: special inquiry had to be directed to the court wizards.

The Matthean nativity is pie in the sky. Simeon got sufficient support. He was a messiah to Aqiba. A number of earlier figures got significant support. You just need someone to tell you that that was what was expected of a messiah.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
Josephus has apologetic reasons not to deal with any messianism. In fact he eschews the term in all places except the TF and the reference to James. No-one but Jesus is a messiah. You can understand my straight face here. (The two passages about Jesus are the only two that mention a messiah, so you should be able to glean my lack of belief.) Josephus had reasons not to deal with this problematic notion of Judaism, since armed rebellion is entailed in the messiah's activities. His work is usually, and I think fairly, classified as an apologetic history. Besides, a dead messiah is a false messiah and Christians are not going to label anyone else a messiah. The messianic silence is not significant.

So goes the conventional wisdom. But is any of this really the final word? Josephus has apologetic reasons to eschew references to messianism, we are told, but then we are told he doesn't eschew the term for other reasons – e.g. when he talks about the brother of Jesus or whatever, or when he talks about Vespasian. This sounds like some sort of ad hoc rationalization rather than a real argument.

I may not have made myself clear, so let me try again. Both references to the messiah concerning Jesus are bogus. (The TF for obvious reasons and "the brother of Jesus called christ" from the James passage on syntactic grounds.) They just happen to be the only references to "christos" in Josephus despite the term being used about 40 times in the LXX.

So Josephus nowhere discusses messianic expectations prior to the Jewish War. Your argument appears to rely upon data that makes no reference to messianic expectations nor even messiahs of any kind, and must in turn find an explanation for that silence in the evidence to justify its use to support a claim that Josephus is talking about messianic movements! That sounds like the sort of apologetic one expects from the most erudite of theologians.

Form, rather than name, is what I have been working from. As I've said above, you seem to want the name, when you've got no possible source that can give it to you. Argument from silence that doesn't work at all.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:I can reply that there is a simpler explanation: there was no popular messianic expectation until the time Josephus says there was.

Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. We have almost no sources for Palestine beside Josephus, so once again this is an appeal to silence. And he avoids using the term messiah, though he does indicate knowledge of messianic prophecy, when he applies it to Vespasian, so his lack of discussion concerning messianism when he deals with Jewish political activists killed by the Romans. We later find a specific political activist, Simeon bar-Koseba, who no-one can deny was called messiah. It's not hard to look back at the zealot movement and see the same aims as Simeon.

I'm not appealing to silence. I'm appealing to the evidence we do have for the way “messiah” was understood (as not applying to a contemporary figure or being the subject of popular anticipation) prior to the Jewish War/s. The silence in the evidence leaves my argument untouched.

Again, you've got no sources that allow you conclude "this source should have used the term, if it were indeed used."

neilgodfrey wrote:It is a complex argument to say that Josephus did not mention something about events that he wrote about because of various motivations and sensibilities on the part of himself and others; why not simply say X is not mentioned, full stop? Leave it at that. Maybe they really were the average royal pretenders without any “messianic” associations at all.

We have been extremely lucky with Simeon. He is mentioned in the rabbinical sources and we even have a few letters. Without that luck you'd be using the same argument against him. Then you'd be able to say that there were no messiahs, period. I think we can work on the notion that messianism is the religious justification for armed rebellion against foreign rulers.

Now, answer me this: Jesus is in no sense a Jewish messiah, so why did he get labeled the messiah if the term had no currency?

neilgodfrey wrote:Why is there even a question about why he did not address something? Why do we have to assume there must have been more (our belief systems demand there was more!) and then find arguments to explain the silence. This does not sound like best-practice methodology to me.

I think you are spending too much time with the use of terms, well, one term, that you cannot expect to have been used. I've gone for functional indications of rebellion against foreign authority.

neilgodfrey wrote:Now if we do have good reasons that's fine. But question-begging is not allowed.

spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
Who was around to leave a body of literature that would call anyone else a messiah? The silence is insignificant.

Messianism, if embodied, implied rebellion against the Roman overlordship. It meant removal of foreign power from the land of the Jews. Advocating messianism was sedition.

It was not sedition to scorn those who pretended to be messiahs and accuse them of lying and thereby being responsible for the downfall of Jerusalem. Josephus could not scorn anti-establishment rebels enough. Adding the fact that they were deluded messianists would not have hurt his propaganda interests in any way. Why, even the scholarly establishment can quite accept Josephus telling the Romans that some Jews thought Jesus was the messiah.

The passage is one of those apparently non-cristian testimonials that religious scholarship has held on to tenaciously for lack of anything more substantive in its efforts to sustain a Jesus in history.

The fact that you rightly point out regarding Josephus's views of the political "rebels" only helps to understand why he wouldn't address them as messianic.

This is begging the question.

Actually, it's highly significant. A failed messiah is not a messiah. Probably for any Jew, people who lead others astray pretending to be what they are not is scornful. Remember Mk 13:6, "Many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray." Obviously, there had been other messianic hopefuls.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
You still really haven't said what benefit including John would have been. The best you've mentioned is something about him being a foil, which seems to have entailed saddling christianity with baptism.

Well a literary foil suggests a benefit. We have the typical literary prophetic announcement of a great figure to come, the representative of the Old against the New. This is another topic entirely. I have posted about it often enough on Vridar. It deserves another series of posts here.

You're making my case. There needs to be an old order for the new one to supercede. If it weren't real then it would have no effect on the audience of the immediately subsequent period.

Stories don't have to be “true” or “real” to be powerful mind-changers.

You mean they'll make people forget what they've already experienced?

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
I gave the Acts reference purely for the fact that the baptist religion is shown to have survived and was proselytizing, showing that it was a separate existence from christianity. The later it is, the more significant that separation is.

That various writers didn't know him, especially someone at the beginning (Paul), suggests that the evolving tradition hadn't as yet dragged John in.

All the Acts reference does is tell us what the author of Acts wanted to convey to his audience. Now what is the best explanation for that? That is another question entirely. (We can't just blithely assume historicity. We need first to address the nature and context of the literature we are dealing with.)

You'll note that I didn't assume historicity for the passage. I used it to show that this writer of Acts is still dealing with the effect of John's religion long afterwards.

The assumption that there was an effect from John's religion long afterwards is an assumption of historicity.

Christianity seems to think it did and there is no benefit in it wasting its time prolonging the stuff, if it wasn't true somehow.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:And if Paul writing twenty plus years after Jesus had no need to address the JB question – when and why does this JB become someone that Christianity “can't ignore”?

Paul was just starting the religion. Why should he have dealt with John, when he was still working out what his beliefs were? This line of argument makes you ask why Paul didn't acknowledge anything much at all that was later found in the gospel. It either wasn't significant or it was added later. I don't think there was much of anything at the time of Paul because he seems the best bet as the founder of the religion.

This is returning us to stuff addressed above.

Not successfully! You were using old christian scholarship that claims to know what existed before Paul, when there is no evidence for stuff existing before Paul. We do have evidence of lots of stuff after Paul and a willingness to rework existing texts.

neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:
spin wrote:
I don't think one can make these sorts of calls without having a close familiarity with the language and cultures. The Greek seems pretty straightforward to me, but what it seems to me would probably not be of any significance because I lack that close familiarity.

I am open to reading the scholarly arguments. I have read several that DO address this “in Christ” phrase (Novenson, Engberg-Pedersen) and it is of their arguments that I am thinking here.

If anyone with the skills has argued a case that “in Christ” can refer to any believer in a messiah, per se, then I will love to read it. Till then I have no alternative but to go along with the arguments of those who do have the specialist skills – such as the likes of the two scholars I mentioned.

“In Christ” does not speak of a believer in a Messiah, per se. Bar-Kochba supporters were never described as being “in Christ”, I am sure.

Again we come to the wall of silence. I'm sure there is no problem in accepting the term "christ" is what Jews used in Greek for "messiah". I doubt that you'd want to argue that Paul--amongst everything else--is coining a new christian idiom which included "in christ", but is using the resources of the language already existent. This should point to the likelihood of "in christ" existing before Paul and any hypothetically earlier Jesus believers.

I addressed the silence above. My argument is not from silence; the silence has no effect upon my argument that is based on the evidence we do have. I don't have to rationalize the silence away.

“In Christ” has been studied and explored often enough for us to have a pretty good idea of what it means.

We'll have to differ here again. Paul is our earliest christian literature. We have no prior or contemporary usage of the term "in christ" to allow us to decide anything about its use.

neilgodfrey wrote:Anyway, when Paul speaks of “assemblies in Christ” I think we are entitled to be guided by the evidence we do have vis a vis the understanding of messiah, its relationship to contemporary persons, it's theological core, and the concept of “in” within this context, to guide our conclusion as to what Paul meant by the phrase.

There is no reason to think that there were identifiable "assemblies" that could be characterized by their belief in a messiah! We can generally say that Judaism per se, for all its different flavours, believed in a messiah or two.

If there were a Johannine movement, then of course this is not correct. The Mandaeans are supposedly descendents of the baptist (non-christian) movement. If a group of Israelites can be called an assembly (εκκλησια) such as in Deut 23:1-3, then any such congregation can be. This is the language that Paul inherited.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33775  Postby dejuror » Jul 23, 2013 3:24 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:

I hope I'm not treading on angelo's toes, but I have an idle moment . . . .

Actually all of these claims lack secure foundation.

The passage referring to 500 brethren is of questionable authenticity, as noted by William O. Walker when he cites Robert M. Price in Interpolations in the Pauline Letters. (One part of the argument for this that the detail was obviously unknown to the authors of the gospels.)

The idea that there was a Jesus cult distinct from Paul's Christianity is actually a scholarly construct that originated with Bauer and has been modernized by Burton Mack. There are alternative models.

The idea that Paul himself persecuted Christians was unknown among the Marcionites -- a form of Christianity that essentially preceded what we would call orthodoxy. (Luke-Acts in its canonical form was unknown till the latter half of the second century.)

Claims of having the "last" vision have polemical value and so must be treated with caution.

The earliest evidence (e.g. I Corinthians 15) also says that every contact with Jesus - including those of all other apostles - was AFTER the resurrection.

There is no evidence that anyone knew of the Gospel of Luke until the mid second century. Earlier evidence indicates a complete ignorance of anything distinctive to the Gospel of Luke.


It is rather odd that you are claiming that virtually every piece of evidence that indicate the Pauline writer is late [after the Gospels] is questionable but you use the very Pauline Corpus without corroboration to claim that Pauline Corpus is pre stories of John the Baptist.

You seem to have forgotten that it is actually corroborated in the Canon and by Apologetics that the Pauline Corpus was LATE and that Paul was ALIVE after gLuke was composed.

1. The author of Acts writing some time AFTER the Gospels knew NOTHING of the Pauline Corpus. Read Acts.

2. Apologetics writing in the 3rd and 4th century claimed there was a tradition that Paul was ALIVE after gLuke was composed. See Commentary on Matthew 1 and Church History 6.25.

3. An apologetic source, the Muratorian Canon, claimed the Pauline Corpus was composed AFTER the Apocalypse of John. See the Muratorian Canon.

4. Letters to place Paul in the 1st century at the time of Nero have been deduced to be forgeries. See the Paul/Seneca letters.

5. In the writings of Justin Martyr c 150 CE it would appear that he knew "details" of the story of Jesus found in the Gospels but knew of NONE of the "details" of the Pauline post-resurrection visits. See the writings of Justin.

6. It has been deduced that many letters of the Pauline Corpus were composed AFTER c 70 CE.

7. It has been deduced that the Pauline Corpus has multiple unknown authors.

8. Aristides did not acknowledge Paul at all as the one who evangelized the Roman Empire . See Aristides' Apology

9. Arnobius did NOT acknowledge that Paul preached to the heathen. See Arnobius' Against the Heathen"

10. In Minucius Felix Octavius there is no mention of the entire Pauline Corpus. See Minucius Felix's Octavius

11. The first Apologetic source to mention the Pauline Corpus by name claimed Jesus was crucified under Caudius c 48-50 CE or about 20 years after the 15th year of Tiberius. See Irenaeus "Against Heresies".

12. 1st century Jewish and Roman writers show no influence at all of the Pauline Messiah and Gospel.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33776  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 9:57 pm

spin wrote:
There's a vague excuse with the eating the body in that Jesus is attributed with inaugurating it, but there isn't even that excuse with baptism.


You are confusing the myth attached to the ritual with the origin of the ritual. We know quite well the symbolic/spiritual reasons for both rites. Paul explained baptism in the most explicit terms.

spin wrote:
Isaiah 40 has nothing to do with water and Scrogg & Groff's article is quite a butterfly effort that floats over all sorts of things including the young man who ran away naked and the young man in the tomb without justifying much of what is said in the article.


Isaiah 43 -- part and parcel of the passages Mark is engaged with intertextually -- has the ideal Israel come through water and fire. I'm overwhelmed by your searing intellectual demolition of the Scrogg and Groff argument. I can't argue with that sort of grappling with the evidence. . . . .vridar.org/2011/10/02/that-mysterious-young-man-in-the-gospel-of-mark/

spin wrote:
What indicates that Jesus material precedes Paul?


I thought you knew your Paul better than this. Paul makes no reference to any earlier material at all?

spin wrote:
He is certainly "stroppy" about people, such as those from Jerusalem, who want to include torah observance in believers' activities. Jesus has supposedly abolished torah observance and Jerusalem, ostensibly the rump of Jesus's disciples, is still advocating circumcision and ritual purity regarding food. That doesn't smell to you that Paul got it right when the Jerusalemites didn't? The fellow who didn't receive the teaching when Jesus was on earth knew better than the disciples.

Where's the actual evidence in Gal that there were any pre-Pauline Jesus believers?


You are resorting to rhetorical questions to paper over weaknesses in your argument here.

spin wrote:
Where is the, umm, baptism? The word comes from the verb "to dip". There needs to be a clear forerunner to the idea of baptism.


I'm not interested in silly, umm, retorts, quips and arbitrary conditionals that substitute for serious addressing of the evidence at hand.

spin wrote:Here's another interesting thing. It is John the Baptist who gets the Elijah material pinned to him. Jesus gets the Elisha stuff. How come John gets to wear the Elijah suit? Mal 4:5 tells us Elijah comes before the great and dreadful day of the lord, ie the eschaton. This is consistent with the gospel presentation of John, predicting the eschaton. There is no room in this for a recon mission by Jesus.


I thought you were more widely read on all that has been studied in relation to this. You seem to be unaware of the way ancient authors drew upon and adapted their literary sources. This is a topic all of its own starting from the basics.

. . . .

I'm bored with this conversation. You are trying to make a case that rationalizes absence of explicit evidence for your case and then just blithely say I don't have any evidence because I don't manage to present the entire argument at the precise moment you say you want it. The sources and evidence I refer to are there all there for everyone to read -- but so many people read into them what is simply not there.

You keep reading the gospels as if they are records of historical events. You will have to justify that assumption before we continue any discussion.

Your arguments, rhetorical questions, question begging -- it's all grounded in so much assumption that I cannot take for granted as easily as you do.

If you want to discuss one specific point then single it out and discuss that. I have no interest in trying to continue addressing a dozen different points in a long-winded post when each exchange only brings up such stark and fundamental differences that there is no common ground for a serious discussion. Those assumptions and methodologies need to be cleared first.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33777  Postby Clive Durdle » Jul 23, 2013 10:29 pm

has the ideal Israel come through water and fire.


And Isaiah got that from the stories of the crossing of the red sea and the forty years in the wilderness (Oh another story repeated in the gospels!) where they were led by the cloud by day and fire by night.

Baptism by water and fire have clear precedents.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33778  Postby RealityRules » Jul 23, 2013 10:41 pm

.
People read the Paul documents as if they are historical records - to do so seems a big assumption

see http://www.rationalskepticism.org/christianity/questioning-the-authenticity-of-the-pauline-documents-t27743.html#p1106613
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33779  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 11:15 pm

Clive Durdle wrote:
has the ideal Israel come through water and fire.


And Isaiah got that from the stories of the crossing of the red sea and the forty years in the wilderness (Oh another story repeated in the gospels!) where they were led by the cloud by day and fire by night.

Baptism by water and fire have clear precedents.


Isaiah and Malachi are said to be constantly harking back to this first Exodus as the paradigmatic event for the foundation of any new start for a people of God. Isaiah 63 has an Israel figure emerge from the sea that is torn apart and the holy spirit comes down from heaven and comes "into" Israel. This is all part of the imagery Mark uses in the baptism scene. (Mark is unique in having the spirit enter "into" Jesus while the other Synoptics have it light upon him.) The imagery of wilderness, rending, falling of the holy spirit, emerging from water, holy spirit entering into Israel -- Jesus has for good reason been understood here as the ideal Israel in the baptism and wilderness scenes in Mark.

Jesus and John are both entirely theological symbols through and through, every detail a pastiche from the OT.

Mark is creating Jesus as the ideal Israel -- even the presence of God himself -- ushered in through the symbol of the old prophets. (Over and over throughout the Gospel Mark will attribute to Jesus the qualities the OT attributes to God himself.) Anyone who has tried to follow Mark literally knows there are a zillion problems -- it makes no sense as a literal story (people who don't understand him follow him; crowds who worship him one moment call for his death the next; he speaks in symbols and makes no sense to his audience. . .) The embarrassments only arose with later gospels that attempted to create a more plausible historical figure that was at the same time a figure who met the requirements of their christology.
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Re: Historical Jesus [strict moderation]

#33780  Postby neilgodfrey » Jul 23, 2013 11:17 pm

RealityRules wrote:.
People read the Paul documents as if they are historical records - to do so seems a big assumption

see http://www.rationalskepticism.org/christianity/questioning-the-authenticity-of-the-pauline-documents-t27743.html#p1106613


Another argument is that the Paulines were the product of a school rather than an individual. Not unlike the way the OT Prophets were composed according to "minimalists" like Philip Davies.
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