How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

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smitty1931
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How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by smitty1931 » Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:44 pm

Anyone interested in the evolution of the Christian Religion will enjoy this insightful book, written for the layman. Unless you are a biblical scholar many of his points will be new and stimulating.

absinthe
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by absinthe » Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:57 pm

The way I heard it was that a Rabbi sent his son to Israel to study the faith in readiness also to become a Rabbi. Trouble is, his son returned and said, "Hey dad! I decided to turn Christian!"

Incensed, the dad hurried round to his Synagogue, raised his eyes heavenward, clasped his fingers and cried, "Please God, what went wrong? I send my son to Jerusalem to help him become a Rabbi and he comes back a Christian."

After a few seconds a big booming, echoing voice came down from the sky. "Ahhhh...funny you should say that. The very same thing happened to me."

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Agnes Selby » Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:05 pm

absinthe wrote:The way I heard it was that a Rabbi sent his son to Israel to study the faith in readiness also to become a Rabbi. Trouble is, his son returned and said, "Hey dad! I decided to turn Christian!"

Incensed, the dad hurried round to his Synagogue, raised his eyes heavenward, clasped his fingers and cried, "Please God, what went wrong? I send my son to Jerusalem to help him become a Rabbi and he comes back a Christian."

After a few seconds a big booming, echoing voice came down from the sky. "Ahhhh...funny you should say that. The very same thing happened to me."
:lol: :lol: Excellent joke, Absinthe. Love it.

Agnes.

Jean
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Jean » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:11 am

The heartiest laugh I've had on a difficult day :lol: . Thank you! :)
Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population. - Albert Einstein

I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out - David Sedaris (Naked)

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:04 am

Mildly amusing, I suppose - better for those without an understanding of the Trinity, I would guess.

As for the OP, we went through some of this with the "Jesus the Jew" thread awhile back. No sound scholar takes the idea of Pauline invention of Christianity seriously these days. It's the oldest and most thoroughly debunked of the conspiracy/alternative-Jesus theories doing the rounds amongst the controversialist/populist fringe - that always gets good airtime and press.

The truly radical idea no one is allowed to think these days is that of basic orthodox Christianity.

We have already seen too much evidence in studying the other seven members of the inner circle to think that Paul invented high Christology or the messianic community of Jews and Gentiles united in Christ. He was the last of all the apostles, not the first. Even Peter preceded him in reaching out to the Gentiles.
Witherington III, Ben – What Have They Done With Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History – Why We Can Trust the Bible [Harper SanFrancisco, 2006, p. 230]

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:37 am

Brendan wrote:Mildly amusing, I suppose - better for those without an understanding of the Trinity, I would guess.
Surely, Brendan, you don't claim that you or anyone else understands the Trinity, do you? :wink:

From the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia:

All theologians admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is of the number of these [mysteries]. Indeed, of all revealed truths this is the most impenetrable to reason. Hence, to declare this to be no mystery would be a virtual denial of the canon in question. Moreover, our Lord's words, Matthew 11:27, "No one knoweth the Son, but the Father," seem to declare expressly that the plurality of Persons in the Godhead is a truth entirely beyond the scope of any created intellect.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:34 am

As usual, your take on these things is entirely superficial. That we cannot know God in His essence does not mean that we know nothing at all about Him - thanks largely to the Son and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit known through the ascent to union with the Trinity - never complete in this life. That we cannot know what the Trinity is does not mean we cannot know that the Trinity is.

. . . for Gregory the knowledge of God that takes place through the purification and illumination of the theologian is constantly enabled by the figure of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Christ has of course been the centre of the Church’s doctrine and devotion since apostolic times, and “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor 12.3) is possibly the earliest Christian confession. Similarly, in Gregory’s doctrinal system, Christ is not simply one member of the Trinity, a figure whose earthly career is accidental to Trinitarian doctrine, strictly speaking, and who could just as well have been God the Father or the Holy Spirit made incarnate; but he is the necessary and permanent focus of the knowledge of God. While there is an obvious and even simplistic sense in which Christ’s divinity is implied in a full doctrine of the Trinity (if we could imagine beginning there), for Gregory the confession of Christ’s identity as eternal Son of God is, in a deeper sense, the direct means by which the Trinity is conceived and known in the first place, and, by the presence of the Holy Spirit, Christ remains the centerpiece of that knowledge.

Gregory of Nazianzen was one of the chief architects of the language and concepts used in the Christological controversies that occupied the Church, in increasingly scholastic terms, from the fifth to the eighth centuries. Yet, ironically, his doctrine of Christ is not primarily concerned with technical terminology or the precise definition of the composition of Christ’s person, as several generations of students have been taught to regard pre-Chalcedonian Christology. In fact, Gregory is quite insistent that technical and terminological questions must be subjugated to the basic faith of which they are but an imperfect expression. In the same way that the doctrine of God and the doctrine of the knowledge of God cannot be separated in Gregory’s work, so too the identity of Christ cannot be separated from the human salvation that Christ effects. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Gregory’s Christology is essentially an expression of his soteriology, so that our understanding of the nature of Christ’s person is determined throughout by the nature of Christ’s salvation, and vice-versa.

Beeley, Christopher A. – Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God [Oxford Studies in Historical Theology, 2008, p. 115-116]


Within this context of epistemological ascent, which has brought the mind through knowledge to silence, we see the specific function of faith: Gregory says that faith ‘unites the searching mind to the incomprehensible God’. Faith, then, is Gregory’s term for that faculty of union between mind and God.

Union, however, is not the only function faith performs; faith also mediates. Just as faith performs the function of union between mind and God, so faith mediates between mind and God. Faith mediates knowledge to the mind knowledge of a discursive sort: namely, that God is greater than any symbol by which he can be known. Hence, while we are in the context of an apophatic ascent of the mind, and faith is the zenith of this ascent, grasping in union the divine essence, the mind is not left with nothing. Faith gives the discursive mind something of what it ‘knows’; it is obliged, [as Canévet has stated,] to translate itself into discursive thoughts. The discursive mind receives ‘the likeness of gold’ , that is, the knowledge that God is greater than any symbol that can be known, but this is not ‘gold itself’ (the divine nature), that is, the non-discursive experience of, indeed union with, the divine nature by faith alone.

Laird, Martin – Gregory of Nyssa and the Grasp of Faith – Union, Knowledge and Divine Presence [Oxford Early Christian Studies 2004 p. 73]

As an apophatic faculty of unknowing (as Daniélou has termed it) faith moves beyond the hindrance to reason which the paradox or the coincidence of opposites imposes on the mind’s understanding. Faith can do what mind could never do, even if the latter managed to move into the divine presence: grasp the ungraspable.
Laird, Martin – Gregory of Nyssa and the Grasp of Faith – Union, Knowledge and Divine Presence [Oxford Early Christian Studies 2004 p. 87]

DavidRoss
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:30 am

Brendan wrote:No sound scholar takes the idea of Pauline invention of Christianity seriously these days.
Really? To whom do they credit it, if not Paul?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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SaulChanukah

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by SaulChanukah » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:35 pm

absinthe wrote:The way I heard it was that a Rabbi sent his son to Israel to study the faith in readiness also to become a Rabbi. Trouble is, his son returned and said, "Hey dad! I decided to turn Christian!"

Incensed, the dad hurried round to his Synagogue, raised his eyes heavenward, clasped his fingers and cried, "Please God, what went wrong? I send my son to Jerusalem to help him become a Rabbi and he comes back a Christian."

After a few seconds a big booming, echoing voice came down from the sky. "Ahhhh...funny you should say that. The very same thing happened to me."
To connect 'change' to the essence of God is a classic form of Idol Worship.
One of the basic foundations of the Jewish faith which is connected all the way to Abraham, and to the first human, Adam, is that God is one with no parts, completely spiritual and is not bound to change in any way. Anyone that attributes 'change' or 'physicality' to God is guilty of idol worshiping and breaks the first two commandments from the Ten Commandments.

Why do Christians then fall for the lie of God changing and becoming physical?

Because they are completely ignorant in the most fundamental and categorical way to the understanding of the true essence of God and his aim of creating this world and everything in it, and of the Torah.

They fail to understand that God's Torah is not just some book with information, but its God's wisdom , and therefore its never bound to change. God never changes his wisdom. The Christians believe that God wrote a NT. That's another total failure in grasping the true meaning of Torah. Had they knew that God and his Torah are never bound to any change, and are inseparable, for God's wisdom (Torah) is not something external of himself, but it is him, God's Wisdom and himself are one, without any separation or parts of divisions, had they understood these concepts clearly in their true depth and meaning, they would have never made the mistake of claming that God changed his mind and created a NT.

The basic and most fundamental aspect of Judaism is the clear understanding and acceptance that God and his Torah are one and never bound to any change in any way imaginable.

Since the Christians don't know this and many other things , they are capable of making astronomical and categorical errors and mistakes and problems.

It all stems from total ignorance, unequivocal ignorance.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by living_stradivarius » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:21 am

Brendan wrote:Mildly amusing, I suppose - better for those without an understanding of the Trinity, I would guess.
Do I detect a hint of Image?
Image

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:38 am

DavidRoss wrote:
Brendan wrote:No sound scholar takes the idea of Pauline invention of Christianity seriously these days.
Really? To whom do they credit it, if not Paul?
Jesus Christ.

Paul himself describes how he preaches the Gospel taught to him by the Disciples, not anything original of his own, and this was accepted as inspired by the early church wherever it went. See Tradition, Scripture and Interpretation by D.H. Williams or any decent commentary on the Pauline epistles. N.T. Wright's What Paul Really Said is a good introduction. For further analysis, try Thistleton's volume on 1 Corinthians in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series.

Paul converted to (rather famously, I would have thought) the Christian Church and preached its Gospel. He did not invent it.

Also credited are Matthew, Mark, Luke (the accepted author of Acts. Wilson has his work ahead of him if he wishes to dispute that. See Tannehill's 2 volume work The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts), John, Peter, the author of Hebrews (a forthcoming work speculates Lukan authorship) - and if the author mentioned in the OP is following Eisenman's lead as the Amazon reviews indicate (based on a very speculative reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Habbakuk Pesher), James. Try Eisenman's James, the Brother of Jesus and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians as well as Geza Vermes' The Changing Faces of Jesus and Jesus the Jew for some of the background scholarship for Wilson's speculation.

Under the Old Covenant, in times when the prophetic word was silent, there was the temptation to arrange God’s commands as a Torah, making a kind of system and “law” out of them, although the best Israelites were always aware that there was something presumptuous about this. Faced with Jesus Christ, however, it would be utterly fantastic to attempt such a thing. Separating his deeds and words from his spontaneous and sovereign person would be in flagrant contradiction with these same deeds and words: they are “spirit and life”, written not on stone or parchment but in “fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor 3:3). If there is to be a Holy Writ to bear witness to the words and deeds of Jesus, it must continually point away from the letter and the system and toward what is embodied, by God’s spirit, in Jesus Christ.
von Balthasar, Hans Urs – Truth is Symphonic [Ignatius Press 1972, trans. Harrison, Graham1987, p 30]

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by smitty1931 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:31 am

I am amazed at the responses to my recommendation to read Wilson's book! Naturally if you believe "your" religion is correct in all aspects, then reading is a waste of time. Any open minded student of religion will find Wilson's points well researched and thought provoking.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:12 am

smitty1931 wrote:I am amazed at the responses to my recommendation to read Wilson's book! Naturally if you believe "your" religion is correct in all aspects, then reading is a waste of time. Any open minded student of religion will find Wilson's points well researched and thought provoking.
Well Smitty, it's not on the shelf at the library in Glens Falls, so I've put my name down for it. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

DavidRoss
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:37 am

Brendan wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:
Brendan wrote:No sound scholar takes the idea of Pauline invention of Christianity seriously these days.
Really? To whom do they credit it, if not Paul?
Jesus Christ.
Interesting. Yet if we take Matthew 16:16-18 literally, then Jesus regarded himself as the "messiah" (kristos, the anointed one), a redeemer sent by God to free the Jewish people (or some variation of this belief). In the Gospels, Jesus teaches no religion. Rather, he is a radical reformer who teaches a "back to basics" approach to life rooted in a personal relationship with a living God, free from the clutter of religious claptrap that priesthoods inevitably promote as a means of ensuring their status and authority. He reduces "all the law and all the prophets" to a fundamental prescription for life which embraces the essence of his teaching: "Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself" -- and through his parables he teaches the meaning of "love," not as a "feeling"--an emotion--but as our choice to conduct ourselves in relation to others ever mindful of their welfare.

Nowhere in the Gospels that I've ever seen does he state that he intends to found a new religion with a new set of doctrines and dogma and priestly authorities and institutions laying heavy burdens on the people. Instead, he promises that "his yoke is light"--a yoke linking each of us to a living God in a relationship like that of child to parent, and linking all of us to each other as brothers and sisters sharing a common heritage.

The religion came after, based on Paul's establishment of communities in the non-Jewish Hellenic world. Its oldest and most revered texts are Paul's letters to those communities setting out Paul's new religious orthodoxies. When looking at the Christian "church" as a whole, we see a set of beliefs and practices ordained by Paul, not Jesus, and often contrary to Jesus's teachings as expressed in the Gospels. For instance, it is Paul who teaches that women are second-class citizens. Jesus teaches the equality of women and sets his inner circle straight on the matter when Martha complains that Mary is acting like a disciple and not a serving girl. To use the "lumpers and splitters" analogy, Paul is a splitter, at pains to divide people into good and bad, right and wrong, sinners and saints; Jesus, on the other hand, is a lumper, bringing people together, teaching us to recognize and honor our similarities, our common heritage as children of God, whether male or female, rich or poor, Samaritan or Israelite, dutiful son or reckless wastrel.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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smitty1931
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by smitty1931 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:58 pm

Bravo! That is exactly what the author is saying, although he takes the trouble to cite chapter and verse. You have the gift of coming precisely to the point.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by karlhenning » Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:32 pm

The title is false: a Christian is a follower of Christ, so Jesus the Christ would not be, would not become, cannot be in a state of a Christian.

Should be obvious, I thought. Already doesn't reflect well on B. Wilson.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:51 pm

It seems to me that Jesus (Joshua) promoted adherence to Judaism, in its spirit rather than its letter. He and his followers hoped that the people of the Hellenic world would find Judaism attractive. Since his time, people have followed interpretations of his teachings, particularly those of Paul, who had pretensions to rabbinical learning. Jesus believed that he lived in the End Times - many still do, it makes them feel involved in something exciting - and Paul thought the same. This world-view explains a lot about the origins & thus the nature of Christianity, and links Paul & Jesus as fellow travellers; they both contribute to the origins of the Church. It's not either/or. They were both utterly deluded. But faith rises above such considerations, enriching the lives of those who have it.
"I did it for the music."
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:29 pm

Mark Harwood wrote:They were both utterly deluded.
:!:
Mark Harwood wrote:But faith [enriches] the lives of those who have it.
Or, "...those who are blessed to have been humbled enough to receive this gift of grace." :D
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by karlhenning » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:51 pm

Mark Harwood wrote:. . . Jesus believed that he lived in the End Times . . . [He and Paul] were both utterly deluded.
As statements of faith go, those two enjoy some little eccentricity, I think ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
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Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:06 am

smitty1931 wrote:I am amazed at the responses to my recommendation to read Wilson's book! Naturally if you believe "your" religion is correct in all aspects, then reading is a waste of time. Any open minded student of religion will find Wilson's points well researched and thought provoking.
Open mind? I read schoalrship from all over the place on the issue. Can you even consider the idea that orthodox Chirstianity may have something to it?

According to the Amazon blurb, Wilson bases his work on the speculations of Robert Eisenman concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls (in particular, the Habbakuk Pesher) that most biblical scholars reject. I have read Eisenman’s works that I mentioned previously, and consider them extremely dubious at best. Someone basing their scholarship or opinion on scholarship already rejected is a waste of time and money. But the Alternate Jesus industry always gets a few ignorant suckers who refuse to read scholarship favourable to anything remotely ‘orthodox’ in principle.

If you cannot understand that point, there is no point in talking to you at all on this topic. Sorry, but that’s just the truth as I see it. See my following response to David Ross if you think he had any valid points to make.

I may not be a biblical scholar by trade, but I do read it in Greek, have scholarly commentaries on all of the New Testament (and some of the Old), most of Eisenman and Vermes’ works that Wilson bases his on, and have numerous (dozens if not hundreds of) academic volumes on the foundations of Christianity and the Church—from a variety of secular, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Gnostic and Orthodox scholars. I also have many of the texts of the early church and the Church Fathers, some in Greek, some in Latin, most in translation, as well as the Nag Hammadi library, a couple of copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls, texts and analyses of Gnostic gospels, Pagan religion and philosophy etc etc.

Is it any wonder that I occasionally turn my nose up at the ignorance of popular culture concerning a topic I have studied quite extensively for many years if not decades?

BTW, I do not consider myself an expert on the subject—but I have read a few, and my next-door neighbour is a retired Professor of New Testament Studies. I look at my library and lament all the works I am missing. But I have read enough to consider most populist works on the topic to be shallow—the more controversial and sensational the claim, the more dubious it always turns out to be. The Alternate Jesus industry is totally bogus—but there’s a sucker born every minute. In a society that forbids teaching the basics of its own religion, history and tradition, it is money for jam.


From http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/library ... 3/v03.n088 re Eisenman and the Habbakuk Pesher (from 1996. I haven’t much bothered with it since):

Well, from what I have heard, his theory works with the data quite well -- just so long as one is willing to date all the scrolls about 200 years later than the accepted paleographic dating. Eisenman, of course, was quite willing to do so, but a few years ago, they performed a series of C-14 tests which basically confirmed all of the paleographic datings. The final nail in the coffin to Eisenman's theories occured last summer (or was it the summer before last), I believe, when they did a C-14 test on the Habbakuk Pesher -- a text that is fundamental for the reconstruction of the early history of the Qumran sect -- and the results were the same.

At the 1994 SBL conference in Chicago, Eisenman was going to present a paper entitled something like, "The Final Proof the James the Just was the Teacher of Righteousness" -- a conclusion that seemingly was precluded by the results of the C-14 tests. Sadly, a family emergency at the last second forced him to leave the conference before he could deliver the paper.

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:10 am

DavidRoss wrote:
Brendan wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:
Brendan wrote:No sound scholar takes the idea of Pauline invention of Christianity seriously these days.
Really? To whom do they credit it, if not Paul?
Jesus Christ.
Interesting. Yet if we take Matthew 16:16-18 literally, then Jesus regarded himself as the "messiah" (kristos, the anointed one), a redeemer sent by God to free the Jewish people (or some variation of this belief). In the Gospels, Jesus teaches no religion. Rather, he is a radical reformer who teaches a "back to basics" approach to life rooted in a personal relationship with a living God, free from the clutter of religious claptrap that priesthoods inevitably promote as a means of ensuring their status and authority. He reduces "all the law and all the prophets" to a fundamental prescription for life which embraces the essence of his teaching: "Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself" -- and through his parables he teaches the meaning of "love," not as a "feeling"--an emotion--but as our choice to conduct ourselves in relation to others ever mindful of their welfare.

Nowhere in the Gospels that I've ever seen does he state that he intends to found a new religion with a new set of doctrines and dogma and priestly authorities and institutions laying heavy burdens on the people. Instead, he promises that "his yoke is light"--a yoke linking each of us to a living God in a relationship like that of child to parent, and linking all of us to each other as brothers and sisters sharing a common heritage.

The religion came after, based on Paul's establishment of communities in the non-Jewish Hellenic world. Its oldest and most revered texts are Paul's letters to those communities setting out Paul's new religious orthodoxies. When looking at the Christian "church" as a whole, we see a set of beliefs and practices ordained by Paul, not Jesus, and often contrary to Jesus's teachings as expressed in the Gospels. For instance, it is Paul who teaches that women are second-class citizens. Jesus teaches the equality of women and sets his inner circle straight on the matter when Martha complains that Mary is acting like a disciple and not a serving girl. To use the "lumpers and splitters" analogy, Paul is a splitter, at pains to divide people into good and bad, right and wrong, sinners and saints; Jesus, on the other hand, is a lumper, bringing people together, teaching us to recognize and honor our similarities, our common heritage as children of God, whether male or female, rich or poor, Samaritan or Israelite, dutiful son or reckless wastrel.
What a load of old cobblers. A simple answer never suffices. Oh, well, what the hell . . .

Without a doubt the central affirmation of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is both divine and human. On this truth all Christians are agreed, since indeed one who denies this can scarcely bear the name ‘Christian’ in any meaningful sense at all.
Fairbairn, Donald – Grace and Christology in the Early Church [Oxford Early Christian Studies, 2003 p.vii]

Why choose Matthew 16:16-18 to be interpreted literally? Why not take John 1:1 literally instead? Bit selective in our texts, are we? Two can play that game. But no matter—I’ll show just how ignorant your post was using the material you chose.

First off, no one with half a brain reads Scripture in a merely literal sense. The literal (as in the common sense meaning of the words in a row) sense of Scripture is the starting point for analysis, let alone theology—not the end point. :roll:

Litera gesta docet,
Quid credas allegoria,
Moralis quid agas,
Quo tendas anagogia.

The letter shows us what God and our fathers did;
The allegory shows us where us our faith is hid;
The moral meaning gives us rules of daily life;
The anagogy shows where we end our strife.


But let’s have a look at the Christology of Matthew, since you seem to think Matthew has a Low Christology. I’ll start with 16:16-18, then I’ll get to Paul and the early church after that.

Believe it or not, this will be brief and not cover all aspects of Matthian (let alone biblical) scholarship I have available. I can easily move onto every Trinitarian text in the NT (all of it, really), if necessary. I have thousands upon thousands of pages of scholarship (Christian, Jewish, secular, Gnostic, Pagan . . .) at hand, so this will just be fun for me

This is what I love to do online—exposing the ignorance of popular culture, atheists, fundamentalists and every anti-Christian bigot out there, including those ‘Christians’ who find heresy to be ever so fashionable today. I’ve been doing it for many years now, but thanks for giving me another great soapbox! Enjoy! :twisted:

So, let’s begin with the actual text, in Greek, of Matthew 16:16-18. The actual pericope is 16:13-20, but you seem to really insist on quoting out-of-context as thoroughly as possible.

The following is from the Westcott-Hort New Testament. Personally, I use either the Nestle-Aland27 or United Bible Society4 editions (called the Critical Text), but can happily move to the Byzantine Textform (Textus Receptus) of the Greek if you so prefer. I used Westcott-Hort here as I couldn’t find a Critical Text online to cut and paste, and using the “Symbols” function in Word to mouse-click swathes of Greek is a pain.

I assume, since you seem to consider yourself an expert on the Greek words, that you can read the Greek so I won’t bother providing a translation.

Matthew 16:16-18
16αποκριθεις δε σιμων πετρος ειπεν συ ει ο χριστος ο υιος του θεου του ζωντος
17αποκριθεις δε ο ιησους ειπεν αυτω μακαριος ει σιμων βαριωνα οτι σαρξ και αιμα ουκ απεκαλυψεν σοι αλλ ο πατηρ μου ο εν [τοις] ουρανοις
18καγω δε σοι λεγω οτι συ ει πετρος και επι ταυτη τη πετρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν και πυλαι αδου ου κατισχυσουσιν αυτης

Commentary snippets:

‘I will build the church [or God’s/the Lord’s church]’ might have been expected rather than ‘my church’. Despite there being much more explicit and implicit self-reference on the part of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospel tradition than is at times allowed for, there must be a reasonable expectation that Matthew has intervened to offer another pointer to his own high christology. Throughout the NT the church is predominantly the church of God. . . For Matthew, the church can be Jesus’ church because Jesus’ presence effects the presence of God: the church is God’s church through being Jesus’ church.
Nolland, John – The Gospel of Matthew [New International Greek Testament Commentary, 2005, p. 673]

Christology. 16:13-20 begins by moving the reader to draw a comparison between Jesus an great heroes from the past. Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist. It at once becomes apparent that the contrasts are greater than the similarities. Even if Jesus is undeniably a prophet, he is greater than all other prophets. Indeed, even more than John the Baptist is he more than a prophet. Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’. As such he is not one in a series. He rather stands alone. He is the realization of the messianic hopes of Judaism, the fulfiller of the Davidic promises, the culmination of salvation-history. He also builds the church, which is the eschatological temple, and he speaks of the inability of the powers of Hades to overcome those who follow him. He also has the keys to the kingdom and the power to give them to another. Are we not dealing in 16:13-20 with a person who cannot be adequately described in purely human categories (cf. our comments on 14:22-33, where the term ‘I am’ appears)?
Davies, W.D. and Allison, D.C. – Matthew 8–18 [International Critical Commentary, 1991, 2006, p. 641=-642]

For the sake of brevity I will not include commentary from the NICNT, Sacra Pagina and Brazos Theological Commentary, but can do so if you really want to see just how off the mark your limited and out-of-context use of the passge truly is.

That the majority of Jesus’ own followers and disciples didn’t have a clue who he really was until after the Passion is the basic sub-plot of every Gospel, and highlighted within every Gospel as well. That’s the rising tension of Gospel narrative for the listener/reader: how can these buffoons miss what is so obvious?!? How can everyone miss the point when He is right in front of them?

The infinite mystery hidden in plain sight.

That you cannot read a Gospel as a whole, let alone gain an holistic perspective of Christian thought in the NT from reading all of the texts, does not bode well for any understanding of the early church and how (and why) doctrine was formed later on.

The Greek word for Christ appears 18 times in the Gospel of Matthew, so taking one isolated case is also bogus. Let’s have a look at some other instances of Matthew’s usage before moving onto the term Christ in other NT documents and the early Church (mostly Jewish, like Matthew) revelation of the true nature of the Jewish Messiah.

In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus Christ creates a Messianic Torah on His own authority. Christ is clearly (at least to Christians) establishing his own authority, person and message above that of the written Torah and the orthopraxy of the Pharisees (who went on to establish a new religion of Rabbinic Judaism unlike that of previous Judaism). Who on earth can do that? Who can re-write or trump the Torah but the Lord God Himself?

And how could God be crucified? What a ridiculous notion, eh? It is a scandal and a folly to Jew and Gentile alike, according to Paul, a devout Jew who converted to Christianity after persecuting the Christian Church.

Now let’s move to the early Church.

To begin with, the early church did not consider itself separate from Judaism until kicked out of Temple (unless they also worshipped in the Temple until its destruction. Another ‘interesting’ speculation of Eisenman’s is that Christians caused the Jewish Revolt and that Nero was right—the Christians also burned Rome) and synagogue by other Jews. So of course Christ did not found a church—he was Lord Incarnate as well as Messiah (see Jack Miles’ Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God as to why no one other than God Himself could have fulfilled the role. Try reading it. Really, read the book. I’m not just quoting titles for effect—really read the scholarship sometime).

He was/is the Living God. That some Jews refused to worship Him as Lord, or even recognize his role as Messiah, meant that the other Jews (and Gentiles) who did necessarily split the old religion apart. That is a simple historical fact that in no way detracts from either the Incarnation or Christ’s Messiahship. It is also an historical fact that the Rabbinic Judaism (the Pharisees that Jesus so deplored) that emerged at the same time was very different from the Judaism that went before the destruction of the Temple. Not something the Rabbis like to be public knowledge because they claim authority from time immemorial, but it’s the truth.

That the Christian Church is the one true religion of Scripture upsets Jews and secular folk, but is the attitude of the Church. Jesus did not found a new religion. He and Christianity are the one true religion of Scripture, of Abraham, Moses, David and Jonah, so your interpretation is totally off the mark. Of course God/Christ did not found a new religion—nor did the Church! It’s the same one it’s always been! It’s just that not many traditional Jews actually understood the point of it—which is what Jesus was constantly telling them. See the Sermon on the Mount cited above, for instance.

That the one true church and religion can only be called ‘Christian’ post-Incarnation is hardly controversial, I would have thought. That Matthew, Paul et al were writing during the split between Chirstianity and Rabbinic Judaism is also an uncontroversial historical fact - and Matthew and Paul et al were writing for the Christian side of the schism of what had until then been one religion.

An anonymous writer in the fist century addresses the church at Corinth (1 Clement) in order to encourage believers to avoid worldly practices and seek heartfelt repentance. Central to this exhortation , the church leaders are therefore to embrace “the glorious and holy canon of our tradition”. Here and elsewhere the writer displays no cognizance of an operational scriptural canon apart from the Old Testament, which he cites as declaring fully and unambiguously the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Williams, D.H. – Tradition. Scripture and Interpretation [Evangelical Ressourcement, 2006, p. 26-27]

No one was trying to establish a new religion—not Christ, not Paul, not James, not even Peter. That we human beings did so in later years anyway is not their doing, nor their fault. The Church was trying to reveal the true meaning of Scripture (OT) as Incarnate in Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh. Not all Jews agreed. What else was going to happen but one set of Jews going one way into a new human religion (Rabbinic/Talmudic Judaism) and the other into another? What else could possibly have happened? Jesus himself seemed to know that not all the Jews were going to accept him as Lord but that some Gentiles would (think of the Centurian asking for his servant to be healed in Matthew, for instance), yet as Redeemer he could only sacrifice Himself for them, return and hope (humans having free will in God’s image) that some would recognize their Lord and Saviour through the Passion and Resurrection.

Some did. Some did not. Hence a split. It’s really rather simple and obvious if you give it a couple of seconds thought.

The early Church was well aware that Christ did not come to establish a new religion, with doctrine and dogma—which is why it took so long, and the Fathers were so reluctant, to form both canon and doctrine. Their hand was forced by the abundant heresies and interpretations that were doing the popular rounds. This is similar to the modern era, where every heresy and alternate Jesus theory is considered superior to orthodoxy—the new unthinkable thought.

The theologians of the Christian Church were slowly driven to a realization that the deepest questions which face Christianity cannot be answered in purely biblical language, because the questions are about the meaning of biblical language itself. In the course of this search the Church was impelled reluctantly to form dogma. It was the first great and authentic example of the development of doctrine.
Hanson, R.P.C. – The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God [Baker 1988, 2005, p. xx-xxi]

The interesting thing about Paul is that, as the first author of NT Scripture, he already has a High Christology of Jesus as God Himself. The very earliest evidence we have of any Christian thought is that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate.

This combination of monotheistic affirmation and the command to love God takes us back to the very heart of Judaism, to the prayer, amounting to a confession of faith, said three times a day by devout Jews from Paul’s time right up to the present. ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One; and you shall love the Lord your God. . .’ This is known as the Shema, from the Hebrew word for ‘Hear’ with which it opens. As so often in Paul, the text he alludes to one minute is the text he will develop the next minute. Watch how he advances his argument.

Having cleared the ground in verses 1-3, he begins the real thrust of the chapter with as clear a statement of Jewish monotheism as one could wish to see. We know, he says, that no idol has any real existence (Galatians 4:8-11 again), and that there is no God but one. That is Jewish-style monotheism, ranged classically against pagan polytheism. Then, in typically Pauline style, never content to say a good thing once if he can expand it a bit, he continues by referring directly to, indeed quoting, the basic Jewish confession of faith, the Shema. In contrast, he says, to the many ‘gods’ and ‘lords’ of the pagan world, for us, he says, ‘there is one God – the Father, from who are all things and we unto him – and one Lord – Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and we through him’. To feel the full force of this, we need to set it out side by side with the text Paul has in mind:

The Lord our God . . . One God – the Father . . .
The Lord is One . . . . One Lord – Jesus Christ . . .
(Deuteronomy 6:4) . . (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Faced with that astounding statement, one would have to say that if the early Fathers of the church hadn’t existed it would be necessary to invent them. Paul has redefined the very meaning of the words that Jews used, every day in their regular prayers, to denote the one true God. The whole argument of the chapter hinges precisely on his being a Jewish-style monotheist, over against pagan polytheism; and, as the lynchpin of the argument, he has quoted the most central and holy confession of that monotheism and has placed Jesus firmly in the middle of it. Lots of Pauline scholars have tried to edge their way round this one, but it can’t be done. The nettle must be grasped. Somehow, Paul believes, the one and only God is now known in terms, at least, of ‘father’ and ‘lord’. All things are made by the one; all things are made through the other.

This verse is one of the most revolutionary bits of theology ever written.

Wright, N.T. – What Saint Paul Really Said [1997 Forward Movement p66-67]


And Paul always claims that he teaches the Gospel and tradition he learned from the disciples, and the catholic (universal) Church accepted the epistles into their already living tradition. Paul did not invent that tradition, but preached it.

Paul was not trying to write Scripture. He was writing letters to Christian groups (churches) that had strayed from the tradition and Gospel of the Church. That his letters accorded to that pre-existing tradition so well that they were accepted as inspired by the Holy Spirit into the canon as it formed in later years does not change their basic form and function, nor does it mean that Paul invented the Church or its tradition that he was so keen to preach.

Paul’s special, Church-appointed mission was to the Gentiles. That he was successful, and that the Temple and Jerusalem Church were destroyed thus making speculation concerning it quite dubious, is historical fact that does not mean that Paul invented the Church or its tradition. He certainly invented no doctrine or dogma.

The Christian eschatology of “all is fulfilled in Christ: but not yet” and awaiting Christ’s return leads many to the idea that Jesus and his followers thought they were living in the “end times” of the world. Some may well have, but it’s hard to prove. The point is that we are all living in our own end time. All of us die, and will die soon, in the shadow of the Cross.

And from God’s infinite, eternal perspective, a couple of thousand years is nothing.


If the above fails to satisfy, please give me an excuse (or many excuses) to sound off at length about any objection you think you have. I really do have thousands of pages of scholarship ready and waiting to be given some air.

The Gospel of Christ crucified: a scandal and a folly to Jew and Gentile alike. Thus it ever was and ever will be.

karlhenning
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by karlhenning » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:54 am

Brendan wrote:The Gospel of Christ crucified: a scandal and a folly to Jew and Gentile alike. Thus it ever was and ever will be.
Yes, quite nearly an unchangeable verity.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
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Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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http://www.luxnova.com/

DavidRoss
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:02 pm

Gosh, Brendan, it would be nice if you could make your points without the personal slights and without impugning me by attacking points of view I neither hold nor have expressed. It's really not necessary to be so defensively aggressive. I'm not attacking your beliefs, but stating my own views on the matter...which views are informed by an open-minded, whole-hearted, and earnest inquiry into these subjects many years ago when I was undertaking Catholic instruction with a mind toward conversion. I'm not against you, but for you...and I am completely open to evidence that may both broaden and deepen my understanding. And finally, though I'm able to overlook the unnecessary digs and focus instead on the cognitive content of your statements, you might do well to consider that even mild nastiness doesn't really serve your apparent cause, but undercuts it.

I'm not “interpreting Matthew literally” or “selectively,” but suggesting that in that passage--if Matthew can be trusted at least insofar as he reports the teachings ascribed to Jesus by his source texts (don't you wish we had Q?!)--then Jesus quite literally and explicitly regarded himself as the Messiah. If so, then--especially if we regard Jesus as a pretty noteworthy and influential fellow!--we might want to have some idea of what that meant in a pre-crucifixion 1st Century Jewish context. That meaning might not be entirely clear to us at this great remove of time, but one thing is clear: it did not mean what many 20th Century Christians take it to mean, "the one and only appearance of God incarnate in human form."

Even if we read ο υιος του θεου του ζωντος straightforwardly as "the son of the living God," this does not entail the exclusivity that orthodox Christianity is focused on, but just as easily accommodates the inclusiveness that Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount, repeatedly referring to God as "your Father" when addressing the crowd, and as "our Father" when teaching them how to pray.

The thread I see running through much of your thinking, as illustrated by your comments and those you cite from other sources, is the same teleological view that Matthew's Christology is based on, namely the predetermined understanding of Jesus as God Incarnate and the "founder" of your religion. See, for instance, your summary comment on the founding of the early church:
Brendan wrote:That the Christian Church is the one true religion of Scripture upsets Jews and secular folk, but is the attitude of the Church. Jesus did not found a new religion. He and Christianity are the one true religion of Scripture, of Abraham, Moses, David and Jonah, so your interpretation is totally off the mark. Of course God/Christ did not found a new religion—nor did the Church! It’s the same one it’s always been!
Note also that what you seem to mean here by "religion"--something vaguely like "devotional submission to the will of a loving God"--is not at all the same as what is generally meant in common practice when it describes a cultural institution comprising a set of beliefs, practices, doctrines, etc that offers (at least) moral guidance to its adherents. And note also that if “apples are fruit” is one of the premises underlying your argument, then of course it will logically support the conclusion that “apples are fruit.”

I love this comment of yours:
Brendan wrote: No one was trying to establish a new religion—not Christ, not Paul, not James, not even Peter. That we human beings did so in later years anyway is not their doing, nor their fault.
Absolutely. I never claimed otherwise. And, as I claimed above, that new religion—in the institutional sense—is based more on the commands of Paul than on the teachings of Christ.

I love this statement, too:
Brendan wrote: The interesting thing about Paul is that, as the first author of NT Scripture, he already has a High Christology of Jesus as God Himself. The very earliest evidence we have of any Christian thought is that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate.
Yes yes yes! The “founder” of the new religion—that is, the man whose writings the religion is largely based on—in the earliest texts of that religion, expresses a fundamental tenet of that new religion. But of course!

I trust the circularity is obvious? Whether Paul is right about the nature of Jesus or not makes no difference. The fact is that Paul’s belief about the nature of Jesus proves nothing about the correctness of the religious belief that’s based on Paul’s belief, but only shows that the later religion is, indeed, based on Paul’s belief.

Again, before you get all defensive and go ballistic on me, please note that this tells us NOTHING about Jesus’s nature. Whether Jesus was “God Incarnate” or “a fully realized child of God expressing the divine nature shared by all humans if they but realize it,” matters not a whit as regards the human origins of the religion based on Paul’s texts, for Paul’s texts tell us nothing but what Paul thought, and not whether what he thought was/is true.

Likewise the claim you make here:
Brendan wrote: And Paul always claims that he teaches the Gospel and tradition he learned from the disciples, and the catholic (universal) Church accepted the epistles into their already living tradition. Paul did not invent that tradition, but preached it.
Again, Paul’s claim establishes only that Paul made the claim, and tells us nothing about its veracity.

In closing, let me note again that in discussing the apparent origins of the church, as ascertainable from the church’s own documents, and in noting the evidentiary limitations of those documents, and in stating my opinion that those documents do not “prove” anything about the nature of Jesus Christ save for what the authors (and the early Christian communities that canonized them) apparently believed, I am making NO claim about Christ’s nature or divinity. I wish I had the answer to that question which remains a mystery to me and many others, but I do not.

I envy your certainty. I do not share it—though not from want of asking to be blessed with the gift of such faith, nor from opposition to it nor disdain for it, nor from being too stupid or ignorant to understand it. I just do not share it. Many of my friends and family members and others I respect, love, and admire do share it, however. And since I know that I don't know, I also know that what you believe could be true. I just don’t know that it is, and in spite of my willingness to believe, I have not thus far been persuaded to such belief in the absence of knowledge.

Peace out.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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HoustonDavid
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:46 pm

DavidRoss wrote:Gosh, Brendan, it would be nice if you could make your points without the personal slights and without impugning me
I must wholeheartedly agree, David; that was my first reaction to Brendan's epistle, and you have stated
it better than anything I was planning to write.

Brendan, it says a great deal about your faith that you cannot teach us about it without impugning others
and using personal slights. The arrogance of your approach to conveying your faith is reprehensible. I'm sure
you would agree that Christ and His Apostles were better teachers than that or there wouldn't have been
any believers and followers.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

jbuck919
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:20 pm

Litera gesta docet,
Quid credas allegoria,
Moralis quid agas,
Quo tendas anagogia.
The letter shows us what God and our fathers did;
The allegory shows us where us our faith is hid;
The moral meaning gives us rules of daily life;
The anagogy shows where we end our strife.
Pithy language, Latin. It even provides its own explications.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Mark Harwood
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:26 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Litera gesta docet,
Quid credas allegoria,
Moralis quid agas,
Quo tendas anagogia.
The letter shows us what God and our fathers did;
The allegory shows us where us our faith is hid;
The moral meaning gives us rules of daily life;
The anagogy shows where we end our strife.
Pithy language, Latin. It even provides its own explications.
:)
Put it in Latin, it'll seem profound.
This is genuine frontier theological gibberish, but in Latin it's almost impressive.
:wink:
"I did it for the music."
Ken Colyer

HoustonDavid
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:20 pm

So much of the profound mystery of the Roman Catholic liturgy came from the Latin, which
is not nearly so ambiguously mysterious in the local dialect. It's probably good that the locals
didn't understand the Latin and the clergy weren't exactly forthcoming. Two things changed
theology for all time: the invention of the printing press which gave the literate a chance to
read and interpret the testaments; and the litergical change from Latin to the lingua commonal
after the Second Vatican Council under Pope John XXIII, in 1963. Nothings been the same since.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:25 am

DavidRoss wrote:Gosh, Brendan, it would be nice if you could make your points without the personal slights and without impugning me by attacking points of view I neither hold nor have expressed. It's really not necessary to be so defensively aggressive. I'm not attacking your beliefs, but stating my own views on the matter...which views are informed by an open-minded, whole-hearted, and earnest inquiry into these subjects many years ago when I was undertaking Catholic instruction with a mind toward conversion. I'm not against you, but for you...and I am completely open to evidence that may both broaden and deepen my understanding. And finally, though I'm able to overlook the unnecessary digs and focus instead on the cognitive content of your statements, you might do well to consider that even mild nastiness doesn't really serve your apparent cause, but undercuts it.

I'm not “interpreting Matthew literally” or “selectively,” but suggesting that in that passage--if Matthew can be trusted at least insofar as he reports the teachings ascribed to Jesus by his source texts (don't you wish we had Q?!)--then Jesus quite literally and explicitly regarded himself as the Messiah. If so, then--especially if we regard Jesus as a pretty noteworthy and influential fellow!--we might want to have some idea of what that meant in a pre-crucifixion 1st Century Jewish context. That meaning might not be entirely clear to us at this great remove of time, but one thing is clear: it did not mean what many 20th Century Christians take it to mean, "the one and only appearance of God incarnate in human form."

Even if we read ο υιος του θεου του ζωντος straightforwardly as "the son of the living God," this does not entail the exclusivity that orthodox Christianity is focused on, but just as easily accommodates the inclusiveness that Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount, repeatedly referring to God as "your Father" when addressing the crowd, and as "our Father" when teaching them how to pray.

The thread I see running through much of your thinking, as illustrated by your comments and those you cite from other sources, is the same teleological view that Matthew's Christology is based on, namely the predetermined understanding of Jesus as God Incarnate and the "founder" of your religion. See, for instance, your summary comment on the founding of the early church:
Brendan wrote:That the Christian Church is the one true religion of Scripture upsets Jews and secular folk, but is the attitude of the Church. Jesus did not found a new religion. He and Christianity are the one true religion of Scripture, of Abraham, Moses, David and Jonah, so your interpretation is totally off the mark. Of course God/Christ did not found a new religion—nor did the Church! It’s the same one it’s always been!
Note also that what you seem to mean here by "religion"--something vaguely like "devotional submission to the will of a loving God"--is not at all the same as what is generally meant in common practice when it describes a cultural institution comprising a set of beliefs, practices, doctrines, etc that offers (at least) moral guidance to its adherents. And note also that if “apples are fruit” is one of the premises underlying your argument, then of course it will logically support the conclusion that “apples are fruit.”

I love this comment of yours:
Brendan wrote: No one was trying to establish a new religion—not Christ, not Paul, not James, not even Peter. That we human beings did so in later years anyway is not their doing, nor their fault.
Absolutely. I never claimed otherwise. And, as I claimed above, that new religion—in the institutional sense—is based more on the commands of Paul than on the teachings of Christ.

I love this statement, too:
Brendan wrote: The interesting thing about Paul is that, as the first author of NT Scripture, he already has a High Christology of Jesus as God Himself. The very earliest evidence we have of any Christian thought is that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate.
Yes yes yes! The “founder” of the new religion—that is, the man whose writings the religion is largely based on—in the earliest texts of that religion, expresses a fundamental tenet of that new religion. But of course!

I trust the circularity is obvious? Whether Paul is right about the nature of Jesus or not makes no difference. The fact is that Paul’s belief about the nature of Jesus proves nothing about the correctness of the religious belief that’s based on Paul’s belief, but only shows that the later religion is, indeed, based on Paul’s belief.

Again, before you get all defensive and go ballistic on me, please note that this tells us NOTHING about Jesus’s nature. Whether Jesus was “God Incarnate” or “a fully realized child of God expressing the divine nature shared by all humans if they but realize it,” matters not a whit as regards the human origins of the religion based on Paul’s texts, for Paul’s texts tell us nothing but what Paul thought, and not whether what he thought was/is true.

Likewise the claim you make here:
Brendan wrote: And Paul always claims that he teaches the Gospel and tradition he learned from the disciples, and the catholic (universal) Church accepted the epistles into their already living tradition. Paul did not invent that tradition, but preached it.
Again, Paul’s claim establishes only that Paul made the claim, and tells us nothing about its veracity.

In closing, let me note again that in discussing the apparent origins of the church, as ascertainable from the church’s own documents, and in noting the evidentiary limitations of those documents, and in stating my opinion that those documents do not “prove” anything about the nature of Jesus Christ save for what the authors (and the early Christian communities that canonized them) apparently believed, I am making NO claim about Christ’s nature or divinity. I wish I had the answer to that question which remains a mystery to me and many others, but I do not.

I envy your certainty. I do not share it—though not from want of asking to be blessed with the gift of such faith, nor from opposition to it nor disdain for it, nor from being too stupid or ignorant to understand it. I just do not share it. Many of my friends and family members and others I respect, love, and admire do share it, however. And since I know that I don't know, I also know that what you believe could be true. I just don’t know that it is, and in spite of my willingness to believe, I have not thus far been persuaded to such belief in the absence of knowledge.

Peace out.
Another pile of ignorant, unsupported-by-scholarship or evidence rubbish. That Paul was the first top write something down does not mean no oral tradition existed. Just Hiow stupid are you?

Well, since you obviously have no educated opinion or scholarship to back-up your posts, I’ll forget about such myself and just get the flame-thrower out. I told you rebuking ignorant, anti-Christian poppycock was how I like to spend most of time online.

You know nothing about the subject, regale me with moronic, ignorant heretical piffle and expect to be treated as if it were worthy of sophisticated conversation and lofty manners.

Get a clue. Your ignorant stupidity and heretical garbage is ipso facto offensive to any orthodox Christian: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. Oh, but insulting Christians, Christ and Church with cretinous, uneducated hornswoggle is perfectly acceptable in your mind/world, unworthy of passionate response.

Sorry, as long as you continue to insult me and my religion I will return the favour in my own way as a free person and Christian. Problem is, I’ve actually done a lot of reading on the subject.

Do try that one day. Perhaps you won’t venture such useless and unsupported twaddle as a result. If you can produce scholarship, not uneducated, mindless PC populist garbage, you might get a different kind of response from me.

But I won’t be holding my breath.

If you don’t like my responses, don’t provoke me. It’s really very simple.

Or just use the ‘foe’ feature and never bother to read my posts or write a response to one ever again.

. . . It involves the rash dismissal of an important question, and a misunderstanding of how science, including scientific historiography, actually works. It says, in fact, both too little and too much.

Too little: in standard positivistic fashion it appears to suggest that we can only regard as ‘historical’ that to which we have direct access (in the sense of ‘first-hand witness accounts’ or near equivalent). But, as all real historians know, that is not in fact how history works. Positivism is, if anything, even less appropriate in historiography than in other areas. . . . Ruling out as historical that to which we do not have direct access is actually a way of not doing history at all.

Wright, N.T. – The Resurrection of the Son of God [Fortress, 2003, p. 15-16]

But this legitimate desire for serious historical and critical reading of the sources, and the proper refusal to go back behind Reimarus to a day when such questions could not be raised, is perverted if it leads us to ignore the fact that, in history, it is getting in the data that really counts. And we need at this point to reopen the question, often closed this century: does it really count as ‘getting in the data’ to say ‘this is a creation of the early church’? It might, if we could produce a really workable hypothesis about the early church which would support this theory, but in my judgment such a story has not yet been suggested. Study of the actual history of the early church is in its infancy, but already the young child is showing signs that it will soon become vigorous enough to attack the speculative hypotheses that have for so long usurped its place in the family.
Wright, N.T. – The New Testament and the People of God [Fortress, 1992, p. 106]

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:27 am

Mark Harwood wrote: :)
Put it in Latin, it'll seem profound.
This is genuine frontier theological gibberish, but in Latin it's almost impressive.
:wink:
Actually, it comes from St John Cassian (the founder of monasticism in the West) and was standard theologiy from the 5th to the 16th centuries in the West.

A passage of Scripture has four possible meanings; the letter, the allegory, the moral teaching, and the anagogy. The letter is simply the obvious historical or literal sense, what the text immediately states and directly means. The allegory, the moral teaching, and the anagogy are three possible spiritual meanings of the letter. The allegory is the import of the text for the church and Christ, the ecclesiastical or christological doctrine that the text supports. The moral teaching, or tropological sense, is the import of the text for the individual believer—the soteriological meaning, or what it says about the individual’s salvation. The anagogy is the text’s meaning as far as transcendent reality and future events are concerned, that is, the mystical, metaphysical, and eschatological secrets hidden in the text. Medieval exegetes interrogated the Bible systematically in terms of its teaching about the church, Jesus Christ, the individual believer, and the life to come.

To take an example, in Psalm 76 it is written: “In Judah God is known, his name is great in Israel.” Literally, this verse refers to the southern and northern kingdoms of the Hebrew people in biblical times, a subject not particularly pertinent to medieval Christians. Allegorically, however, it can be applied to the church and Jesus, where God is known through his revelation and saving act of redemption. In terms of its moral teaching, it can be referred to the soul, heart, or mind of the individual believer, where God is known in prayer and meditation. Anagogically, it can direct the Christian to heaven and the Last Judgment, where God’s greatness and will shall be known in the fullest sense. The four meanings of Scripture transformed the Song of Songs into an extended Christian parable. No longer the lyric picture of a king’s frolicking with his mistress, Solomon’s song was seen to describe God’s love of Christ and the church (the allegory), the soul’s love of God (the moral lesson), and the joy of heaven (the anagogy).

Spiritual interpretation made the Psalms the most popular Christian book of the Middle Ages. Spiritual interpretation also served to keep many brilliant and curious clerical minds from the brink of boredom and heresy. Although they may strike the modern reader as sheer fantasy, the three spiritual senses of Scripture seem actually to have limited and disciplined speculation on the Bible. By designating three permitted spiritual meanings of Scripture in correlation with three basic spheres of church life and doctrine (ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology), the medieval church gave its “phi beta kappas” their heads, yet also turned them in directions beneficial to it.

Ozment, Steve – The Age of Reform 1250 –1550 [Yale 1982 p65-67]

That you are entirely ignorant of it just tells me you are deeply ignorant of Christian history and theological methodology. It was standard in theology for over 1000 years.

Just another ignorant twit trying to sound sophisticated about a subject you know nothing about.

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:29 am

HoustonDavid wrote:
DavidRoss wrote:Gosh, Brendan, it would be nice if you could make your points without the personal slights and without impugning me
I must wholeheartedly agree, David; that was my first reaction to Brendan's epistle, and you have stated
it better than anything I was planning to write.

Brendan, it says a great deal about your faith that you cannot teach us about it without impugning others
and using personal slights. The arrogance of your approach to conveying your faith is reprehensible. I'm sure
you would agree that Christ and His Apostles were better teachers than that or there wouldn't have been
any believers and followers.
Why on earth would I care about your opinion on the matter or my choice of expression? I try to give polite warning signals to folk to discourage them from prattling on with ignorant bunk, but they obviously take no notice until hit in the face with a wet fish.

{Why is he so cranky? All we are doing is insulting, dismissing and disparaging the core of his identity, being, life-long research, inner experience and culture with ignorant populist nonsense. How dare he be annoyed with streams of balderdash and say so!}

That you cannot imagine someone defending orthodox Christianity with passion and zeal as well as scholarship just tells me how limited and ignorant your understanding of Christian thought, history and expression is.
Heresiology has traditionally involved some of the most ‘vibrant’ language ever written in Western history. Irenaeus of Lyon in his Against Heresy, Jesus talking to or about the Pharisees, the Arian and Christological controversies, the Reformation polemics ’twixt Catholic and Protestant . . . If it matters to you, heart and soul, one responds a little differently than to a mere intellectual exercise concerning trivia.

Do try and read a little history of Christian thought and theological source material. It ain’t PC or affected Victorian manners at all – and neither am I. The PC notion that everyone is ‘entitled’ to an opinion on anything and everything and ‘entitled’ to spout their opinion, however ignorant and lacking in substance that may be, is frankly ridiculous. When the subject is as deep and heart-felt as religion, such ‘entitlement’ becomes boorish and offensive .
I do not try to tell jbuck all about Bach as he is obviously so much better educated (let alone experienced with the music) on the topic than I am. I do not try to tell TeresaB all about medicine, as she is so much better educated on the topic than I am. I do not spout ignorant nonsense about photography at Chalkperson, American law to Ralph &c.

If Ralph accuses me of being ignorant of American Law—which he has, particularly when I assume Australian law is similar—I readily accept it. I am ignorant of American law. I am ignorant of medicine and photography and a vast range of topics that I would never dream of sounding off about, and if I do and find someone whose expertise is clearly superior I acknowledge and learn or shut my stupid gob about the topic.

But it doesn’t matter that I tell folk that I’ve been studying this for years and have thousands upon thousands of pages of academic scholarship on the matter: the ‘entitled’ just spew their ignorant opinions and feel superior about it. What utter morons—and I don’t mind making such an observation.

Unlike heresiologists of old, I do not compare my opponents to monsters, children of whoredom, fathers of blasphemy or possessed of devils. I do point out how ignorant, stupid, wrong and bigoted some posts (and posters who persist in it) are—in no uncertain terms.

That you happily mistake many years of deep research from a variety of conflicting perspectives for “certainty” (Ha!) is just an example of how ignorant, distorted and far from the truth your view on the matter is.

The one thing in this thread I am certain of is the ignorance displayed by those who lack any scholarship, education or deep thinking on the matter yet treat every anti-Christian opinion as if it were gold and somehow indicative of being ‘open-minded’.

It’s just sheer ignorant stupidity, and I’ll continue to point out how ignorant and stupid such opinions are until folk desist from throwing them my way.

I open no threads preaching the Christian faith, dismissing another religion (except for PC, but most PC fundamentalists—such as jbuck—refuse to think of it as religion, so I get a free pass there) nor ones promoting books that I think should be read on the subject.

But when someone is promoting a book based on speculative scholarship about a dubious interpretation of James the Just as the Teacher of Righteousness in the Habbakuk Pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which has been rejected as impossible by Carbon-14 dating, and I have the temerity to have read the background material and say that it is based on dubious scholarship at best—well, look at the result!

My ‘certainty’ in this matter is based on Carbon-14 dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Habbakuk Pesher in particular. Those who wish to believe that scholarship in opposition to Carbon-14 dating evidence is somehow valid should explain why, IMHO. Unless or until someone can point out to me why that Carbon-14 dating is wrong, or why the Teacher of Righteousness in the Habbakuk Pesher should be interpreted as referring to James the Just, I’ll remain convinced on the basis of science and textual analysis that Eisenman’s (and therefore Wilson’s) work in this regard is dead wrong.

I can be convinced otherwise—with evidence and good scholarship, not the brainless gibberish presented thus far.

Perhaps, however, this suspicion about us will be disarmed by remembering that this display of anger is not on our own behalf, but because of insults levelled against our father in God; and that it is a case in which mildness would be more unpardonable than anger.
Gregory of Nyssa – Against Eunomius 1

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:06 am

Wow, what a douchebag. Any oral tradition about Jesus before Paul's writings certainly wouldn't have been passed on with such contempt! The veracity of the so-called scholarship you cite is still premised on faith with no analysis to refute DavidRoss' legitimate points. It doesn't matter how many sources you cite or how many years you've spent reading them. We want the analysis, not tautological arguments put forth by quotes. I can read L. Ron Hubbard holistically rather than as text, maybe then I'll realize Xenu is more than just a being some madman pulled out of his arse.

And please, enlighten the rest of us by translating the Greek.
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by diegobueno » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:42 am

Brendan reminds me very strongly of the Pharisee in Luke 18:10.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by karlhenning » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:48 am

HoustonDavid wrote:So much of the profound mystery of the Roman Catholic liturgy came from the Latin, which is not nearly so ambiguously mysterious in the local dialect.
Well, I don't know about that. The Eastern Orthodox Liturgy is no less rich in mystery, and yet the Orthodox made it a point to prepare versions of the Liturgy in the vernacular.

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:32 am

living_stradivarius wrote:And please, enlighten the rest of us by translating the Greek.
I'm no expert on ancient Greek, but the passage is the "original" language of Matthew 16:16-18. It reads:

And answering, Simon Peter said, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." And answering, Jesus said to him, "You are blessed, Simon Bar-Jonas, for it wasn't flesh & blood that showed you this, but my father who is in the heavens. And I also say to you, that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my congregation, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it."

"Peter" is petros (πετρος), a pebble or rock, and in this passage Jesus describes Simon Bar-Jonas's recognition of Jesus as Christ as the "rock" (πετρα) on which his congregation (εκκλησιαν--"congregation" or "assembly") will be assembled. Although the presumption is that Jesus would have spoken in Aramaic naming Simon "Cephas," which also means "rock."
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:59 am

DavidRoss wrote:Although the presumption is that Jesus would have spoken in Aramaic naming Simon "Cephas," which also means "rock."
And the name Pierre is still the French word for "rock"! (Just thought I'd throw that in.) :D

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:26 am

Brendan wrote:Why on earth would I care about your opinion on the matter or my choice of expression? I try to give polite warning signals to folk to discourage them from prattling on with ignorant bunk, but they obviously take no notice until hit in the face with a wet fish.

{Why is he so cranky? All we are doing is insulting, dismissing and disparaging the core of his identity, being, life-long research, inner experience and culture with ignorant populist nonsense. How dare he be annoyed with streams of balderdash and say so!}

That you cannot imagine someone defending orthodox Christianity with passion and zeal as well as scholarship just tells me how limited and ignorant your understanding of Christian thought, history and expression is. [etc, etc]
Brendan, no one here is attacking you or your faith--at least, neither I nor the OP (I haven't read all the posts). The only "insulting, dismissing, and disparaging" I've seen on the thread comes from you. It seems as if your faith is so precarious that you feel it's threatened by inquiry into the development of the religious establishment that teaches the belief system on which your faith is based. And it seems that you feel the way to meet that threat is to abuse those whose points of view differ from your own. It looks as if your intolerance is based on fear that your faith cannot stand up to scrutiny of honest inquiry. Sounds like a lot of folks on the threads about politics, economics, and global warming! :wink:

Before you lash out again, perhaps it would help if you were to pause and ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" Are the folks here like the money changers at the Temple, deserving to be scourged and driven from the grounds? Or are we like those who have heard about this wandering Rabbi and wish to see him for ourselves and ask for our questions to be answered?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Mark Harwood
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:20 am

Brendan wrote:
Mark Harwood wrote: :)
Put it in Latin, it'll seem profound.
This is genuine frontier theological gibberish, but in Latin it's almost impressive.
:wink:
Actually, it comes from St John Cassian (the founder of monasticism in the West) and was standard theologiy from the 5th to the 16th centuries in the West.

Right. So that means it's not authentic frontier theological gibberish??

A passage of Scripture has four possible meanings; the letter, the allegory, the moral teaching, and the anagogy. The letter is simply the obvious historical or literal sense, what the text immediately states and directly means. The allegory, the moral teaching, and the anagogy are three possible spiritual meanings of the letter. The allegory is the import of the text for the church and Christ, the ecclesiastical or christological doctrine that the text supports. The moral teaching, or tropological sense, is the import of the text for the individual believer—the soteriological meaning, or what it says about the individual’s salvation. The anagogy is the text’s meaning as far as transcendent reality and future events are concerned, that is, the mystical, metaphysical, and eschatological secrets hidden in the text. Medieval exegetes interrogated the Bible systematically in terms of its teaching about the church, Jesus Christ, the individual believer, and the life to come.

To take an example, in Psalm 76 it is written: “In Judah God is known, his name is great in Israel.” Literally, this verse refers to the southern and northern kingdoms of the Hebrew people in biblical times, a subject not particularly pertinent to medieval Christians. Allegorically, however, it can be applied to the church and Jesus, where God is known through his revelation and saving act of redemption. In terms of its moral teaching, it can be referred to the soul, heart, or mind of the individual believer, where God is known in prayer and meditation. Anagogically, it can direct the Christian to heaven and the Last Judgment, where God’s greatness and will shall be known in the fullest sense. The four meanings of Scripture transformed the Song of Songs into an extended Christian parable. No longer the lyric picture of a king’s frolicking with his mistress, Solomon’s song was seen to describe God’s love of Christ and the church (the allegory), the soul’s love of God (the moral lesson), and the joy of heaven (the anagogy).

Spiritual interpretation made the Psalms the most popular Christian book of the Middle Ages. Spiritual interpretation also served to keep many brilliant and curious clerical minds from the brink of boredom and heresy. Although they may strike the modern reader as sheer fantasy, the three spiritual senses of Scripture seem actually to have limited and disciplined speculation on the Bible. By designating three permitted spiritual meanings of Scripture in correlation with three basic spheres of church life and doctrine (ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology), the medieval church gave its “phi beta kappas” their heads, yet also turned them in directions beneficial to it.

Ozment, Steve – The Age of Reform 1250 –1550 [Yale 1982 p65-67]

I was about to thank our friend for taking the trouble to expand the point, when I got to this:

"That you are entirely ignorant of it just tells me you are deeply ignorant of Christian history and theological methodology. It was standard in theology for over 1000 years."

Calling it "gibberish" does not indicate that I was unaware of it. Quite the contrary.

"Just another ignorant twit (that's me all right!) trying to sound sophisticated (I think not) about a subject you know nothing about."

Here I take issue. It's a subject that I studied obsessively in my youth. Only when I had wrung it out as far as I could did I conclude that theology in its entirety has no reality, and I left it behind.
Sorry, Brendan, but you've disappointed me. I hoped to learn from your reading of Scripture, but it's dusty old cobblers.
Thanks for the personal abuse. It indicates your value as a debating partner. Be happy in your faith, and by all means insult those who challenge it.

:)
"I did it for the music."
Ken Colyer

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:15 pm

Kindly put, Mark. Of what use is learning when not accompanied by understanding, let alone wisdom?

"By their fruits you shall know them."

I love the pithiness of Jesus's teaching in the Gospels. (No, that's not a lisp!) Have the reams of commentary improved on it?
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by HoustonDavid » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:15 pm

I have stated that I prefer to use the dictionary and thesaurus as the preferred weapons of
verbal debate. I looked up Henry's description of Brendan in both but could not improve on
"douchebag". WWJS about such a teacher, I wonder. Brendan you have achieved something
naught but one other member has achieved: I have added you to my "foes" list. Interestingly,
that other individual also considers himself a teacher, but from a rather different perspective.
Goodbye and "happy" teaching to you, although I doubt that is remotely possible.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:27 pm

Thanks to Smitty1931 for recommending the book and inspiring my new signature.
"I did it for the music."
Ken Colyer

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:54 pm

Success! David won't read or respond to me again!

And I was the one calling you an ignorant twit, Mr Harwood.

Douchebag, eh? That the best you lot have? :lol:

The thing I find so stupefying is the depth of ignorance of the most basic history or concept of the formation of Christianity—church, tradition and scripture—revealed here. How ignorant and lacking in simple neurological activity would someone have to be to think that written material appears before the tradition it expresses? Particularly letters to churches!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I mean, that is stop-in-your-tracks, what-can-on-say, look-at-that-dribbling-cretin, point-and-laugh stupid. Politeness doesn’t enter into it: we shouldn’t give smart-aleck little Johnny a gold star for saying over and over again the most stupid and obviously wrong opinions to adults who know better. When folk are wrong and stupid, sometimes they need to be told so in order to make them stop. Giving folk gold-stars and respect when they are not deserved causes inflated egos and sense of ‘entitlement’ that is utterly undeserved and promotes further stupid and ignorant bloviation.

As this thread amply demonstrates, unfortunately.

Not so long ago, any ten-year old could have told you that the Christian Church and its tradition existed before Paul converted (who was Saul persecuting and why?). It took Paul 20 years from that conversion on the road to Damascus before he wrote his first extant letter to a distant church. Who founded the Christian church in Rome Paul claimed he hadn’t visited in his letter to the congregation in the capital of the Empire?

Honestly, it’s elementary school stuff.

Normally I’d recommend Metzger’s The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development and Significance [Oxford, 1997], but folk here are obviously incapable of reading anything, let alone academic scholarship, on the topic.

Nowadays, the most ignorant malarkey is considered theologically or historically sophisticated by folk who have utterly no clue whatsoever about the basic timeline and process of canonical formulation. And I do mean the very, very basics.

• Dead Sea Scrolls (including Habbakuk Pesher) – c 250 BC – 50 BC according to Carbon-14 dating
• Christ – c 4 AD
• Crucifixion and Resurrection – c 36 AD
• Pentecost
• Preaching of Peter, Stephan etc. Guys who ran like chickens rather than be associated with Jesus are now prepared to die in cruel ways in His name.
• Jerusalem Church (James the Just)
• Persecutions of Saul
• Conversion of Saul to Paul on the road to Damascus. As Paul confesses, he was the last (not the first!) Apostle to see the Risen Christ
• Paul learns the Gospel from the Disciples (Christian church and its tradition already exists—even if no one has written it down that we know of! What an astounding idea!)
• Paul is given his mission to the Gentiles (across the Empire, hence the necessity of writing letters instead of direct contact and oral communication. First Epistle about 55 AD)
• Death of Paul, Peter et al
• Revelation (had to be written before the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem—even in the Apocalypse the worst prophesied for Jerusalem was 10% destruction)
• Gospels and destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem Church c 70 AD
• Didache, Baranabas, Ignatius etc (no longer material directly from the Apostolic era)
• Gnostic gospels etc c 100-200 AD
• Marcion
• Formation of Scriptural canon rejecting Gnostic and non-Apostolic material, c 200-400 AD. Many Fathers did not include Revelation in their lists of canonical works well after Nicea

That tradition formed before it was written down is hardly a controversial, outrageous or sensational claim. The opposite is! :roll:

How can anyone hold, let alone justify, the notion that Paul invented his ideas and Epistles from whole cloth, sent them to no one because no Christian church could possibly exist for him to send a letter to, then these nonexistent churches decided (and had the power!) to make them definitive for the Christian Church (where did it come from again?!? Paul’s letters that he wrote to . . . well, who if the Church didn’t exist until after Paul’s letters?), Western culture and history for 2000 years? That the Habbakuk Pesher in the Dead Sea Scrolls referred to James the Just 200 years before James lived?

Looks a tad silly to me. No, it is the most utterly ignorant and stupid account of Christian ecclesial and canonical formation I have ever encountered—and I have been hanging about atheist and fundamentalist sites for many years.

I’ve come across many, many ignorant fools trying to sound off about Christianity, but this thread has explored new depths of ignorance I was unaware existed. Even on Atheist websites most of them have done enough reading to know better than this gumpf.

I really cannot find the words to express just how stupid and ignorant the anti-Christian posts on this thread have been, but I’ll continue to make a valiant effort as long as the retards want this to go on.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:53 pm

Not so long ago, any ten-year old could have told you that the Christian Church and its tradition existed before Paul converted (who was Saul persecuting and why?). It took Paul 20 years from that conversion on the road to Damascus before he wrote his first extant letter to a distant church. Who founded the Christian church in Rome Paul claimed he hadn’t visited in his letter to the congregation in the capital of the Empire?
In none of the posts above did anyone say these "churches" didn't exist. The question is what they taught and what the "oral tradition" was comprised of. DR's post about the "invention" of a new religion pertains to teachings that were not found in pre-Pauline "Christian" communities.

This following was your only useful contribution to this thread. Some of us may verify your claims against these sources at our own leisure (your methods of persuasion notwithstanding):
Paul himself describes how he preaches the Gospel taught to him by the Disciples, not anything original of his own, and this was accepted as inspired by the early church wherever it went. See Tradition, Scripture and Interpretation by D.H. Williams or any decent commentary on the Pauline epistles. N.T. Wright's What Paul Really Said is a good introduction. For further analysis, try Thistleton's volume on 1 Corinthians in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series.

Paul converted to (rather famously, I would have thought) the Christian Church and preached its Gospel. He did not invent it.

Also credited are Matthew, Mark, Luke (the accepted author of Acts. Wilson has his work ahead of him if he wishes to dispute that. See Tannehill's 2 volume work The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts), John, Peter, the author of Hebrews (a forthcoming work speculates Lukan authorship) - and if the author mentioned in the OP is following Eisenman's lead as the Amazon reviews indicate (based on a very speculative reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Habbakuk Pesher), James. Try Eisenman's James, the Brother of Jesus and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians as well as Geza Vermes' The Changing Faces of Jesus and Jesus the Jew for some of the background scholarship for Wilson's speculation.
The rest is trash.
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NancyElla
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by NancyElla » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:01 am

Brendan wrote:Success! David won't read or respond to me again!

And I was the one calling you an ignorant twit, Mr Harwood.
Sheesh, Brendan, your angry and insulting tone undercut your scholarship, and rhetoric like this makes the church no friends and can give ordinary Christians a bad name! Remember:
"A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness." I'm praying that the your anger, whatever its source, will be eased so that you can put your obvious erudition to good use.
"This is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great." --Willa Cather

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by slofstra » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:53 am

Given that the writer, Wilson, is a convert to Judaism I won't be reading this book. Obviously, his thesis will be highly coloured away from a "Christian" Jesus.
At the same time, there's no question in my mind that Christian theology developed quite extensively between the time of Christ and the councils of Nicene and then Chalcedon. I tend to be somewhat unitarian in my own thinking.
I've recently read books by Marcus Borg, who I like, and Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ, which I find provocative but of whose ideas I am quite skeptical.

The new issue of the Economist has reviews of two new books about Jesus.

Jesus: A Biography From a Believer. By Paul Johnson. Viking; 242 pages; $24 and £17.99. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. By Philip Pullman. Canongate; 245 pages; $24 and £14.99.

The Johnson book sounds interesting, but I'm not interested by anything Pullman would write. I suppose I should read the Dark Materials trilogy some time.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by DavidRoss » Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:09 am

living_stradivarius wrote:In none of the posts above did anyone say these "churches" didn't exist. The question is what they taught and what the "oral tradition" was comprised of. DR's post about the "invention" of a new religion pertains to teachings that were not found in pre-Pauline "Christian" communities.
As you obviously understand, we know almost nothing about post-crucifixion but pre-Pauline "Christian" communities. ("Christian" in the sense that Karl noted, "followers of Christ," not necessarily "Christian" in the sense of common usage today, describing that broad, sect-ridden religious institution riddled with more accretions of beside-the-point BS than Jesus ever despaired of in the religion taught by the Pharisees of his day!) Obviously, if the earliest documentation we have regarding Christian practice and belief consists of Paul's letters, then we have no documentation preceding him. That's a big "Duh!" :wink:

Regarding the passage you cited as a useful contribution by Brendan, partially reproduced here:
Paul himself describes how he preaches the Gospel taught to him by the Disciples, not anything original of his own, and this was accepted as inspired by the early church wherever it went. See Tradition, Scripture and Interpretation by D.H. Williams or any decent commentary on the Pauline epistles. N.T. Wright's What Paul Really Said is a good introduction. For further analysis, try Thistleton's volume on 1 Corinthians in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series.

Paul converted to (rather famously, I would have thought) the Christian Church and preached its Gospel. He did not invent it.
I cannot help but think of Paul's own words to the contrary. For instance, in Galatians 1:11-12 he states: "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

Clearly, Paul's own words do not support Brendan's contention that he was taught the gospel he preached by the disciples. In fact, in Galatians 2, Paul describes how fourteen years after he began preaching, he went to Jerusalem and met privately with "those who seemed to be leaders" (Gal 2:1-2). He reports that James, Peter, and John were polite to him and told him to go ahead and preach to the Gentiles, and they would minister to the Jews (Gal 2:9). Leaving Paul's chronically self-serving tendencies aside, his account of this shows only that Jesus's inner circle practiced what Jesus had taught them, that outsiders trying to do good in his name were not to be forbidden from it, for those not against them were for them (Mark 9:38-40).

Later, in the same letter, Paul prides himself on his opposition to Peter in Antioch over matters of Jewish tradition and declares that he, Paul (who never met Jesus), knows better than Peter (who lived and studied with Jesus for years) which customs must be followed and which not (Gal 2:11-3:29). Paul offers some fine argument justifying his position, which argument has long been accepted by the established Christian church. Whether he was right or not is beside the point of this discussion. What is the point is that is that Paul's own words again establish that Paul's teaching, on which the church is based, stems not from the oral tradition passed on by Jesus's disciples, but rather comes from Paul himself, claiming special divine revelation as his authority (Gal 1:12 and elsewhere, again and again).

Primary sources are so much more enlightening than 2nd-, 3rd-, or 36th-hand commentary and interpretation, don't you think? :D

Lastly, let us look at one element of particular note in Brendan's last offering, from the timeline he so kindly provided for the edification of those who may not be familiar with it:
Brendan wrote:Preaching of Peter, Stephan etc. Guys who ran like chickens rather than be associated with Jesus are now prepared to die in cruel ways in His name.
This, to me, has long been the nub of the matter, at least for those seeking some kind of empirical evidence to support the extraordinary claims of the church that Jesus was resurrected after death and appeared to the disciples who witnessed first-hand this astonishing miracle. It's easy to understand why the disciples "ran like chickens" after Jesus's arrest and hid out, denying their association with him and fearing arrest and punishment as blasphemers and rabble-rousers. Yet within a fairly short period of time, after the reported appearance of the resurrected Christ and Thomas's famed skepticism, they set out boldly and fearlessly preached the gospel of the resurrection, despite suffering horribly cruel martyrdoms as a consequence (dragged to death by horses, boiled in oil, thrown from the top of the temple and beaten to death with clubs, crucified upside down, tortured and beheaded, flailed to death with whips, etc :shock: ).

Something profound happened to change those men from a scattered band of fearful cowards into an incredibly brave and committed batch of fellows "speaking truth to power." By the accounts of the Gospels and the physician Luke's account in Acts, that something was their first-hand witnessing of the resurrected Christ and the subsequent gift of the holy spirit. To me, at the remove of more than two thousand years, it seems that such events would certainly empower men to change so radically...and I'm pretty darned perplexed when trying to imagine anything else that might have done the trick.
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Mark Harwood
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:26 pm

David said:

"Something profound happened to change those men from a scattered band of fearful cowards into an incredibly brave and committed batch of fellows "speaking truth to power." By the accounts of the Gospels and the physician Luke's account in Acts, that something was their first-hand witnessing of the resurrected Christ and the subsequent gift of the holy spirit. To me, at the remove of more than two thousand years, it seems that such events would certainly empower men to change so radically...and I'm pretty darned perplexed when trying to imagine anything else that might have done the trick."

This is precisely what a friend, a retired Minister, said to me when I told him about my urge to believe and the way it conflicts with the facts as I see them. Something galvanised these people. It's tempting to go along with it & hope to understand a little better later. But countless books & my own untutored reading of the Bible provide, to my mind, overwhelming evidence that the Resurrection story is not true. After that, no Christian faith is possible.
And who is to say that no other experience could have inspired such fervent belief in the early Church?
The arguments for the divine source and utter truth of any scripture add up to less than a hill of beans to me. There are just too many ways to read the words of men, and some of us become ridiculous, even dangerous, when we try to impose our way on others.
Barbara Thiering summed up what I thought of the Gospels in her book, Jesus the Man, which is well worth a look.
As an eminent theologian whose views oppose those of our friend Brendan, she probably qualifies as "just another ignorant twit". Another book of hers, Jesus of the Apocalypse, seems to me to be quite bonkers in parts, but to her credit she never disparages the efforts of others to come to terms with the subject.
"I did it for the music."
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slofstra
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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by slofstra » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:59 pm

Mark Harwood wrote:David said:

"Something profound happened to change those men from a scattered band of fearful cowards into an incredibly brave and committed batch of fellows "speaking truth to power." By the accounts of the Gospels and the physician Luke's account in Acts, that something was their first-hand witnessing of the resurrected Christ and the subsequent gift of the holy spirit. To me, at the remove of more than two thousand years, it seems that such events would certainly empower men to change so radically...and I'm pretty darned perplexed when trying to imagine anything else that might have done the trick."

This is precisely what a friend, a retired Minister, said to me when I told him about my urge to believe and the way it conflicts with the facts as I see them. Something galvanised these people. It's tempting to go along with it & hope to understand a little better later. But countless books & my own untutored reading of the Bible provide, to my mind, overwhelming evidence that the Resurrection story is not true. After that, no Christian faith is possible.
And who is to say that no other experience could have inspired such fervent belief in the early Church?
The arguments for the divine source and utter truth of any scripture add up to less than a hill of beans to me. There are just too many ways to read the words of men, and some of us become ridiculous, even dangerous, when we try to impose our way on others.
Barbara Thiering summed up what I thought of the Gospels in her book, Jesus the Man, which is well worth a look.
As an eminent theologian whose views oppose those of our friend Brendan, she probably qualifies as "just another ignorant twit". Another book of hers, Jesus of the Apocalypse, seems to me to be quite bonkers in parts, but to her credit she never disparages the efforts of others to come to terms with the subject.
I'm not so sure of your statement that no Christian faith is possible after rejecting the Resurrection story. The writer Tom Harpur seems to think one can be a Christian without even accepting the fact of a historical Christ. And there are certainly quite a few theologians who reject the resurrection, at least insofar as being a bodily resurrection, but still consider themselves Christian. But I agree that it changes the entire terrain of belief significantly to do so.

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Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Mark Harwood » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:39 pm

"...one can be a Christian without even accepting the fact of a historical Christ."

This I have to look into. Thanks for the steer, slofstra.
"I did it for the music."
Ken Colyer

Brendan

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by Brendan » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:48 pm

Mr Harwood, do please change your sig to read "Just another ingorant twit trying to sound sophisticated about a subject he knows nothing about" or whatever my original wording was.

Keep up the good work displaying what an ignorant twit you confess yopurself to be, but do make the wording out in full top make your public confession copmplete and true.

So, we've moved effortlessly from Jesus the Jew to Jesus the Pagan to Jesus the myth, eh? Any heresy that isn't acceptable to anyone and everyone? Or is orthodox Christianity the only Unthinkable Thought that must be eliminated at all costs? :roll:

Folk who reject an historical Christ may call themselves 'Christian' but the Christian Church has callerd them 'Heretics' since the earlist manifestations of Gnostic and Docetic heresy.

Far from being Pagan myth, Chirst was perceived as very different indeed from Pagan and Jewish religion 9and symoloisim and myth) that had gone before.

Thus, prior to the Nestorian controversy, the church had opposed three extreme misrepresentations of the person and work of Christ. (1) Christ was a divine being and therefore could not suffer (Docetism); (2) God the Father was temporarily changed into the suffering Son, at the expense of his full divinity and transcendence (Patripassianism); (3) Christ was involved in change, birth, suffering, and death, therefore he could not be fully divine (Arianism). Having ruled out the three extreme options, the church asserted that the Son of God suffered in reality and not mere appearance; that it was the Son who became incarnate and suffered, not the Father; that the Son’s involvement in suffering did not diminish his divine status, because the incarnation was a supreme act of divine compassion and as such it was most appropriate and God-befitting.

The justification of the incarnation as an act worthy of God is a common theme of Christian apologetic against philosophically minded pagans, whose understanding of God did not allow for the possibility that God could empty himself, assume the human condition, and suffer the consequences. The very fact that the Fathers quite self-consciously understood their argument for the God-befitting character of the incarnation to be directed against Hellenistic philosophers puts into question the assumption that the Fathers asserted divine impassibility simply as a result of their uncritical acceptance of the conceptuality of Hellenistic theological thought.

Gavrilyuk, Paul L. – The Suffering of the Impassible God – The Dialectics of Patristic Thought [Oxford Early Christian Studies, 2004 p. 18]

Just more populist, ignorant nonsense from the anti-Christian brigade.

The idea that Christianity stole it’s basic content from pagan religions is not new. It finds its roots in the “history of religions school” which developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. By the mid-twentieth century, this viewpoint had largely been debunked, even by scholars who saw Christianity as a purely natural religion.
Komoszewski, J. Ed, Sawyer, M. James, Wallace, Daniel B. – Reinventing Jesus – How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture [Kregel, 2006 p. 221]


One of the fallacies regarding parallels between pagan deities and Jesus Christ is that the pagan religions are often lumped together as though they were one religion—and one that is virtually identical to Christianity in many of it’s most important features. This is the composite fallacy. By combining features from various mystery religions, a unified picture emerges that shows strong parallels with the gospel. The only problem is, this unified religion is artificial, a fabrication of the modern writer’s imagination.
Komoszewski, J. Ed, Sawyer, M. James, Wallace, Daniel B. – Reinventing Jesus – How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture [Kregel, 2006 p. 223]

To bother or not to bother - that is the question . . .

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Mathhew 7:6

SaulChanukah

Re: How Jesus Became Christian by B. Wilson

Post by SaulChanukah » Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:28 pm

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? What is the Evidence?

Question:

Dear Rabbi Singer:

I'm doing a project on missionary and counter-missionary groups. There is a very large section in my project that deals with theology. I have read your site as well as the Jews for Jesus site, and I must say that the information is both deep and extensive. I must commend you. Your site offers many good counter arguments to the validity of Jesus being the messiah. I have, however hit a stumbling block.

I checked your Q&A section on the web pages, but found very little dealing with "Jewish" explanations of the resurrection. I found that quite odd, as any Christian will tell you that Jesus' resurrection is the foundation of the Christian religion. I assume that we as Jews do not believe in Christ's resurrection, so how do we explain the resurrection? Did a bunch of crazy people decide to create a story about a resurrection? This story was passed on to the time when the Gospels were written, so how inaccurate can they be? The memory of someone 40 years ago isn't considered faulty today, so accounts from 40 years may have been altered, but all adhere to a resurrection story. What is the Jewish take on the resurrection?


Answer:

You certainly have not overstated the importance of the claim of Jesus' resurrection to the Christian church. As Paul candidly admits, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." (I Corinthians15:17) In essence, the validity of Christianity stands or falls on this claim. Because of the importance of this topic, I have dedicated an entire segment on the tape, "Confused Texts and Testimonies," to this subject.

Bear in mind that Christianity is not the only religion in human history to proclaim to the Jewish people that their savior or demigod was resurrected from the grave. The claim of a deity who has defeated the grip of death is one of the most common themes embedded in the plethora of religions that have emerged since time immemorial. Your question, therefore, may be expanded even more widely because the claim of a divine savior who is born of a virgin birth, suffers a brutal death, and ascends to heaven was so very common among pagan and Gnostic religions during the first century (this was especially true for the regions around Tarsus, Paul's hometown). Mythologies throughout the Roman Empire and beyond contained widespread beliefs that notable mortals and god-men were born of virgins and returned from the dead. See accounts of Romulus, Apollonius of Tyana, Drusilla, Claudius, Dionysus-Bacchus, Tammuz-Adonis, Mithra, Osiris, Krishna, and Buddha.

The question for the Jewish people is simple. Should we accept the numerous claims made by widespread religions of a miraculous resurrection from the dead simply because their zealous defenders promoted them, regardless of how soon following the supposed event it was alleged to have occurred? Claims of biased followers need to be particularly scrutinized, especially if they were the only claims that exist.

Since the belief in Jesus' resurrection is the foundation of Christianity, we should certainly examine the credibility of this story. What is the evidence for the belief that Jesus rose from the grave? Aside from the accounts in the New Testament, there is no independent supportive documentation, nor is there any circumstantial evidence. There is not even one contemporaneous historian who mentions one word about the resurrection. The entire claim hangs exclusively on the New Testament texts. Moreover, it was the creators and defenders of Christianity who promoted the stories of the resurrection. Their biased testimony must therefore be examined more carefully. Is this testimony reliable? As a seeker of truth, you are the judge.

Obviously, a judge must be impartial, and objectively weigh all of the relevant evidence. Realize this is not a routine case; your relationship with God is at stake. As an individual examining the case for the resurrection, you should not be swayed by conjecture or hearsay, but demand clear proof.

If you were the judge presiding over a murder case, you would want to be absolutely certain before convicting the defendant. If the prosecutor called his key witnesses, but each told a different story, his case would be very shaky. The defense attorney would argue for the acquittal of his client by demonstrating the weakness of the prosecutor's case. He would impeach the state's witnesses by showing how their accounts are contradictory.

The resurrection narratives in the Gospels may be convincing testimony for people who have not read them very carefully. As a responsible judge, though, you can't be satisfied with just a casual examination of the evidence, especially if biased witnesses gave the testimony. The stories told in the New Testament, and the passion narratives in particular, are so inconsistent, that the resurrection story collapses under careful scrutiny. The conflicting testimonies of the evangelists are so unreliable, they would not stand up to critical cross-examination in any court of law. In fact, there is virtually not one detail of the crucifixion and resurrection narratives upon which all four Gospel authors agree. Yet, it is upon this story that the entire Christian religion stands or falls.

I have prepared the following three-part study to help you critically evaluate the case of the alleged resurrection of Jesus. This analysis consists of: (1) the crucial date of the crucifixion, (2) the events that supposedly followed the resurrection, and (3) a crucifixion/ resurrection chart that carefully maps out the inconsistencies among the four Gospels with regard to the passion narratives. Let's begin this examination of the resurrection stories by studying the date of the crucifixion as told by the four Gospels.

The Crucifixion Date:
On Which Day Was Jesus Crucified?


When examining the four crucifixion accounts as they are presented in the New Testament, it is difficult to point to a single event upon which all four Gospel writers agree. Even the date of the crucifixion is an issue of contention among the four Gospels.

A perfunctory examination of New Testament texts reveals that the Books of Matthew,1 Mark,2 and Luke3 all agree that the Last Supper was actually a Passover Seder. Bearing in mind that Jesus was crucified on the very next day following the Last Supper, that would mean that according to all three synoptic4 Gospels, Jesus was crucified on the first day of Passover, or the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (for example, if tonight were a Passover Seder, then tomorrow would be the first day of Passover5).

The author of the Book of John, however, completely contradicts the first three Gospels, and maintains that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover, or the 14th day of Nissan. The Book of John reads, "Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover . . . . Then he handed him over to them to be crucified." (19:14-16)

The implications of this stunning contradiction cannot be overstated because both claims cannot be true. In essence, this is not the sort of inconsistency that can be explained away by missionaries insisting that the reason for the varying Gospel accounts is due to different perspectives of the Gospel writers. Jesus was crucified either of the eve of Passover, which is the 14th day of Nissan, as John contends, or on the first day of Passover, which is the 15th day of Nissan, as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke maintain. Jesus could not have been crucified on both days.

As a result of this conflict over the crucifixion date, numerous other aspects of John's passion narrative will differ radically with the synoptic Gospels. For instance, John's description of what transpired during the Last Supper is entirely different from the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John cannot include a Passover Seder in his version of the Last Supper because according to his reckoning of the date of the crucifixion, the night of the Last Supper fell on the night of the 13th day of Nissan, which was not a holiday. Therefore, in his Last Supper no aspect of the Seder ceremony occurs. In fact, in John's Last Supper, there is neither eating of the matzo nor drinking of the wine because in John's Gospel the evening before the crucifixion does not occur on the festival of Passover. In the book of John (chapter 13), where the events that occurred the night before the crucifixion are described, we therefore find no mention of anyone drinking wine, or eating matzo and herbs as we find in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John's account of the Last Supper only describes Jesus' washing the feet of the disciples.

Moreover, John begins his 13th chapter by saying, "Now before the festival of the Passover . . . ." This is a stunning opening statement because according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke that momentous night wasn't "before the festival of Passover, but rather it was the festival of Passover. Also, according to John, when Judas Iscariot mysteriously leaves the Last Supper with the moneybag, the disciples immediately presume that he is taking money to purchase food for the festive meal (13:29). Why would Judas be purchasing food for the feast if, according to the first three Gospels, they had just eaten it?

Furthermore, John's story describes how, when the Jews were handing Jesus over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified on the morning of the crucifixion, "They [the Jews] themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover."6 (John 18:28) Why were these Jews concerned about not being able to eat the Passover? According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke they had already eaten it because the Passover Seder took place the previous night. This is not a problem for John because John states that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover, so that this statement makes perfect sense in his story. In contrast, the synoptic Gospels never mention in their accounts the fear the Jews had of entering the home of Pilate. Such concern would be preposterous because in Matthew, Mark, and Luke's story, the Jews had already eaten the Passover lamb the previous night.

The first question that naturally comes to mind is: Why would John change the crucifixion date from the 15th day of Nissan to the 14th day? Why was it so important to the author of the fourth Gospel that Jesus be crucified on the eve of Passover rather than the first day of Passover, as the other three Gospels claim?

The simple answer becomes quite clear when we have a good understanding of what message John's Gospel was trying to convey to its reader.

Remembering that the book of John was the last of the four Gospels to be written, the author was trying to appeal to a second century church that had already become predominantly gentile. Bearing this in mind, John had to appeal to these pagans of the Greco-Roman world whom he was addressing. This was accomplished by carefully integrating heathen practices with elements of the Jewish faith. The notion that an animal was to be revered and sacrificed as a god was well known and widely practiced throughout the Roman Empire7 in mystery religions such as Mithraism, which flourished during the time that the Book of John was being written. This book's author was well aware of this and seamlessly fused together the Mithraic sacrifice of the redeeming bull with the Jewish sacrifice of the Paschal lamb.

It is for this reason that only in John's Gospel does John the Baptist proclaim of Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God . . . ." (1:29, 36) In fact, of the four Gospels, only John ever equates Jesus with the Passover lamb. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke agreed with the fourth Gospel that the lamb was the antitype of Jesus, as John insisted, why is it that when the synoptic Gospels described the communion at the last supper, Jesus raised the matzo saying, "This is my body"? He should have raised the Paschal lamb. At mass, priests should be giving their parishioners lamb chops rather than a wafer for communion.

In addition, only John's narrative includes the story of the Roman soldiers who pierced the side of Jesus rather than break his legs on the cross (John 19:31-37). This brief narrative only fits into the theological story line of the fourth Gospel. This is because only the author of the Book of John was eager not to have Jesus' bones broken so as not to violate the prohibition of breaking the bones of the Paschal lamb found in the Book of Exodus (12:46).

Therefore, we have come to the reason that John places the crucifixion on the 14th day rather than the 15th. Because the Torah commands Israel to slaughter the Paschal lamb on the eve of Passover or on the 14th day of Nissan (Exodus 12:6), John's Jesus is also "slaughtered" (i.e. crucified) on the eve of Passover or the 14th day of Nissan.

The Resurrection Accounts:

Can Both of These Stories Be True?



Matthew 28:1-10

"After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (2) And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. (3) His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. (4) For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. (5) But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. (6)He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (7) Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." (8) So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (9) Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. (10) Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

John 20:1-18

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. (2) So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." (3) Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. (4) The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. (6) Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, (7) and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. (8) Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; (9) for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (10) Then the disciples returned to their homes. (11) But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; (12) and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. (13) They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." (14) When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. (15) Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." (16) Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). (17) Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (18) Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her."

What is wrong with the two stories quoted above? If taken separately, the resurrection accounts presented by either Matthew or John appear fancifully viable. When read side by side, however, they collapse because it would have been historically and chronologically impossible for both accounts to have occurred. In fact, the crucial events presented in these two Gospel narratives are so manifestly contradictory that even liberal Christians, who often allow for occasional mistakes that appear in the New Testament, must take pause.

This brief study will examine several irresolvable contradictions in the variant Gospel accounts of the resurrection chronology as reported by the authors of Matthew and John. The following discrepancies, which we will now examine, have been selected because they cannot be ameliorated or explained away by such well-worn arguments as "each Gospel writer is giving us his own personal perspective." Such a rationalization becomes impossible because the above Gospel narratives are so irreconcilable that no explanation can account for the stark differences between them.

Matthew presents us with a post-resurrection story where the two Marys are greeted at the tomb by an angel who had just rolled away the stone from its entrance. After revealing to both women the empty place where Jesus' body once laid, the angel proclaims to them that Jesus had already risen from the dead. The angel goes on to instruct both Marys that they are to tell the disciples that Jesus had gone before them to the Galilee to meet them. (Matthew 28:1-7)

If that encounter wasn't convincing enough for the two women, Matthew continues to relate how, after leaving the tomb, both Marys unexpectedly meet the resurrected Jesus himself, whom they both worship. Jesus then essentially repeats the angel's instructions to them, and sends the women to inform the disciples that they are to meet the resurrected Jesus in the Galilee. (Matthew 28:8-10)

Like Matthew's account, John's resurrection narrative also contains an empty tomb. However, that is where the similarities between the first and fourth Gospel end. In John's version of the first Easter morning, when Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb, there is no angel there to greet her with information about Jesus' whereabouts or instructions about a rendezvous in the Galilee as we find in Matthew's account (Matthew 28:5-7). On the contrary, in John's story, after Mary finds the empty tomb, she concludes that someone had removed the body from the grave. Mary certainly had no reason to believe otherwise. She therefore quickly runs back to the disciples and reports, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him!" (John 20:1-2)

The above account is entirely inconsistent with Matthew's post-resurrection narrative. Why didn't Mary know that Jesus' body was not laid anywhere? In Matthew's story, the angel had already reported to her that Jesus rose from the dead and had gone to the Galilee. It would therefore have been ludicrous for her to think that someone had moved the body when the angels had already informed her that Jesus' resurrection had occurred. Moreover, if the angel's instructions to her were not convincing enough, Matthew maintains that Mary also met the resurrected Jesus himself right after leaving the tomb (Matthew 28:9); and all this transpires before Mary ever sees the disciples. Why then in John's Gospel is Mary clueless as to where Jesus' body was moved, when according to Matthew, Mary had already heard from two reliable sources -- the angel at the tomb and Jesus himself -- that Jesus rose from the dead?

Further contradicting Matthew's post-resurrection account, John's story lacks the Roman guards whom Matthew places at the tomb to prevent anyone from removing Jesus' body. How could John's Mary have thought that someone removed the body, when according to Matthew, Roman soldiers were placed at the tomb for the specific purpose of preventing just such an occurrence? Obviously, the author of the fourth Gospel has no need for Roman guards at the tomb, so in John's crucifixion account they simply are not there.

This Gospel problem of the missing Roman soldiers in the Book of John raises another important issue. Missionaries often contend that it would have been impossible for anyone to have surreptitiously removed Jesus' corpse from the tomb because there were guards posted at the tomb who would have prevented such an occurrence. Therefore, they argue, without any possibility for the body to have been quietly whisked away, the only other logical conclusion is that Jesus must have truly been raised from the dead.

John's account, however, completely nullifies this argument because according to his story line that is precisely what Mary thought had happened. Mary clearly didn't feel as though the scenario of Jesus' body being removed was unlikely. In fact, according to John, that was her only logical conclusion. Clearly, Matthew's guards didn't dissuade John's Mary from concluding that someone had taken Jesus' body, because, in John's story, Matthew's Roman guards do not exist.

To compound the problem of the conflicting resurrection accounts even further, John's Gospel continues to unfold with Mary returning to the tomb a second time only to find two angels sitting inside the tomb. Mary is still unaware of any resurrection as she complains to the angels that someone had removed Jesus' cadaver. As far as John's Mary was concerned, the only explanation for the missing body was that someone must have removed it, and she was determined to locate it (John 20:11-13). Although in Matthew's account the angel emphatically tells Mary about the resurrection (Matthew 28:5-7), in John's Gospel the angels say nothing about any resurrection. The angels only ask Mary, "Woman, why are you weeping?" Mary then inquires as to whether the angels have removed Jesus' body. At that point, Mary turns around only to see Jesus standing before her, and mistakes him for the gardener. Mary is still completely unaware of any resurrection, and therefore asks the "gardener" if he was the one who carried away Jesus' body. It is only then that Mary realizes that she was speaking to the resurrected Jesus (John 20:14-16).

It is at this final juncture of the narrative that the accounts of Matthew and John remain hopelessly irreconcilable. The question every missionary must respond to is the following: When Mary met Jesus for the first time after the resurrection, had the angel(s) already informed her that Jesus rose from the dead? According to Matthew he clearly did, and in John's account they certainly did not. Both could not have occurred. As we survey the divergent New Testament accounts of the resurrection, we are not just looking at contradictory versions, we are simply staring at two entirely different stories.

Many Christian apologists have argued that the inconsistent resurrection accounts are similar to a traffic accident that is viewed by four different witnesses: Each who sees it has a distinct perspective. This might be a tenable idea if the evangelists were actually on the scene and watched the story unfold as the women approached the tomb. Yet this was not the case. Not only were the Gospel writers not eyewitnesses, they didn't even write their accounts of the story until at least 40-70 years after it allegedly took place. Moreover, most of the inconsistencies in the resurrection narratives (i.e. date, time, and place) cannot be explained away as differences in perspective.

Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.), a renowned philosopher and a contemporary of Jesus, wrote extensively about his time. Yet his entire corpus of works fails to mention a word regarding Jesus or his alleged resurrection. Josephus' silence on this matter is also deafening. Consequently, the only information we have of this 2,000-year-old tale is the Greek document called the New Testament. Yet the moment our finger begins to navigate through its verses we are confronted and appalled by the plethora of glaring irreconcilable inconsistencies. Every element of the resurrection narrative is recklessly contradicted by another.

There is, however, a more significant issue here: the source. When a number of people, in different places, and at different times, write a description of an event that occurred in the significant past -- whether a year ago, a decade ago, or a half a century ago -- we expect and anticipate many contradictions. Why, you ask? Because humans are fallible, and are therefore likely to make unintentional and intentional errors. Accordingly, when we read descriptions of what transpired during a historical event, such as the assassination of JFK, disparities will inevitably exist among the accounts. Therefore, when various individuals witness a traffic accident and then attempt to clearly transmit the information they saw, errors will be made. This is what we expect from humans! The New Testament, however, does not make this claim. Its authors and those who promoted the Christian religion wanted us to believe that its content was divinely inspired! Every word is from God! With this claim, we must hold it to an entirely different standard of accuracy -- that of perfection. The time span from the first letters of Paul to the last words of Revelation is over a half a century. Moreover, these books were penned from one end of the Roman Empire to the other. Thus, if we are to assume they were written by mere mortals, without Heavenly inspiration, mistakes and inconsistencies are expected. God, however, is inerrant.

There is another difference between conflicting accounts of a traffic accident and conflicting accounts of the resurrection. The testimonies of a traffic accident are believable because they are likely to have occurred and make sense in our world. The resurrection story, on the other hand, is a biological and scientific impossibility. Thus, the only reason for believing its miraculous occurrence -- defying all natural laws -- is the believer's total reliance on the credibility of the divine author. Since the stunning contradictions clearly establish the human origins of the resurrection stories, we can no more accept their testimony than we can that of the Book of Mormon. Moreover, the resurrection story is a self-serving rationalization to account for a messianic failure.

I know there have been many frantic attempts to respond to some of the countless inconsistencies that exist in the Gospels. These answers, however, are so plainly forced and contrived that even a perfunctory examination of these rationalizations lets its reader know that they were written by desperate men, hopelessly trying to swim with shoes made of concrete. God doesn't suffer from human fallibility and certainly wouldn't present such a garbled account of what Christians consider the most crucial event in world history.

Best regards for a happy Passover.

Very truly yours,

Rabbi Tovia Singer
Last edited by SaulChanukah on Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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