A book on first and second century Christian communism using David Graeber's work

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ajjohnstone
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Jun 24 2017 06:05

The debate that won't go away

https://www.indy100.com/article/historians-are-questioning-if-jesus-ever...

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Jun 24 2017 13:29
ajjohnstone wrote:
The debate that won't go away

https://www.indy100.com/article/historians-are-questioning-if-jesus-ever...

In serious scholarship it's not a debate at all, Bart Ehrman and Reza Aslans books don't present new theories but rather pictures that have been in NT scholarship for decades.

It's alive in parts of popular culture for the same reason 911 trutherism still exists; conspiracies are fun.

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Jun 24 2017 18:26

Dave B mentioned the question of the historicity of Buddha, which I'm guessing is even less debated in "serious scholarship" of Buddhism, than Christ in Christianity studies. Like I said, in the grand scheme of things for a historian it doesn't matter, hence it will not be debated, and for Christians/Buddhists themselves, they have no interest in questioning the basis of their own theology (their idea of "fun"). Ditto for the historicity of Mohammad.

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Jun 28 2017 11:02

In the grand scheme of Things, almost nothing in history matters, so if that's Your excuse for who almost no one in "serious scholarship" doubts Jesus existed, that's not really valid; they doubt all kinds of Things that don't really matter, because for historians, truth matters for its own sake.

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Jun 28 2017 13:23

I should say for an "historical materialist" (or any historian with a sound approach) what matter is how Christianity developed and spread, with a focus on the social conditions in the Roman Empire in the Near East. On the other hand, for a superficial historian the personality/individual is by itself indeed the key explanation.

In the preface to his book The Christ Myth (can be read here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45540/45540-h/45540-h.htm) Arthur Drews mentioned already several authors before him who came to the conclusion that Jesus was a myth. E.g. John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, Emilio Bossi (Gesù Christo non è mai esistito, which apparently was republished by anarchists and socialists) etc. Drews also already addressed why most of "serious scholarship" still does not take note of this. Btw Dave B, he does lay emphasis on the Buddhist influence.

Drews' thesis is the same as that of Carrier: first Jesus was a god and only later with the Gospels was he made into a man.

Drews wrote:
According to the prevalent view of critical theologians, as presented even by Pfleiderer, the apparitions of the “Lord,” which after Jesus’ death were seen by the disciples who had fled from Jerusalem, the “ecstatic visionary experiences, in which they thought they saw their crucified Master living and raised up to heavenly glory,” were the occasion of their faith in the resurrection, and consequently of their faith in Jesus’ divine rôle as Redeemer. Pathological states of over-excited men and hysterical women are then supposed to form the “historical foundation” for the genesis of the Christian religion! And with such opinions they think themselves justified in looking down on the rationalist of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment with supreme contempt, and in boasting of the depth to which their religious-historical insight reaches! But if we really admit, with historical theology, this more than doubtful explanation, which degrades Christianity into the merely chance product of mental excitement, at once the further question arises as to how the new religion of the small community of the Messiah at Jerusalem was able to spread itself abroad with such astounding rapidity that, even so soon as at most two decades after Jesus’ death, we meet with Christian communities not only over the whole of Western Asia, but also in the islands of the Mediterranean, in the coast-towns of Greece, even in Italy, at Puteoli, and in Rome; and this at a time when as yet not a line had been written about the Jewish Rabbi. Even the theologian Schweitzer is obliged to confess of historical theology that “until it has in some way explained how it was that, under the influence of the Jewish sect of the Messiah, Greek and Roman popular Christianity appeared at all points simultaneously, it must admit a formal right of existence to all hypotheses, even the most extravagant, which seek to attack and solve this problem.”

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Jun 28 2017 13:41

Noa, I didn't respond to the stuff you posted earlier about mistakes in Luke and so on because (frankly), I'm not going to argue against everything you can find on the internet. But first thing I noticed was the article was from the 40s, New Testament scholarship has radically Advanced since then, especially With New archeological find, the DDS and the Nag Hammadi findings. The second thing I noticed was that it was the Lukean material that was problematic, Not the earliest material (Q and Mark), Nobody argues that Luke was writing from palestine himself or had knowledge of palestine, the original Sources did. Also Richard Carriers argument is basically just "it's not enough" ... Well, Ok; but I don't know what he expects. Anyway I would love to see Carrier deal With Bauckhams Works.

By the way, the early 20th Century Christ Myth theorists have been debunked by further knowledge of second temple Judaism. By the way, the quote by Drews here is only addresssing the problem of why Christianity grew so fast ... There are plenty of theories for that.

The idea that Jesus was a god first and a man second requires a few Things.
1. Explaining away all the Pauline evidence that Jesus was thought of as a person who lived on Earth as a human being and died.
2. Pretending the Gospels had NO prior form/Sources/oral tradition that wen't back to the time of Paul ... which basically ignores the evidence from the gospels.
3. Explain why the Jesus as a god that wasn't on Earth doesn't exist anywhere in any theological early text at all? All of them we have assume he was a person.
4. Explain why he was made as a human being SO early, and done so in such a convincing way that no one thought to question it.
5. Explain why they made him as a human being during the same generation (or the generation right after) he was supposed to have lived.
6. Explain how they had that much information as to what a first Century palestinian apocaplyptic prophet would look like.
7. Explain why the Christian's practiced an adjusted form of judaism (worshiping on Sunday for example, the eucharist practice, and so on) and all tied it back to the historical person of Jesus.

There are many other problems With the theory, which again, is why its not taken seriously in modern NT scholarship or early Christianity scholarship ... it was once, but it isn't any more.

And it's not because suddenly People are more religious now than they were 100-150 years ago.

Quote:
I should say for an "historical materialist" (or any historian with a sound approach) what matter is how Christianity developed and spread, with a focus on the social conditions in the Roman Empire in the Near East. On the other hand, for a superficial historian the personality/individual is indeed the key explanation.

The two are not mutually exclusive. In studying the history of the Russian revolution it would be stupid to ignore the social conditions and so on, and it would be just as stupid to ignore people like Lenin and Trotsky and so on.

NO historian explains the spread of Christianity by just saying "Jesus"!!! all of the histories account for it in terms of the historical conditions, the social conditions, as well as the history of the Group itself and Jesus' life and Death.

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Jun 28 2017 15:40
Quote:
3. Explain why the Jesus as a god that wasn't on Earth doesn't exist anywhere in any theological early text at all? All of them we have assume he was a person.

Drews mentions the fight within Christianity against Gnosticism, there was such a thing as Gnostic Christianity right? and did it not regard Jesus as a purely celestial being?

Quote:
4. Explain why he was made as a human being SO early, and done so in such a convincing way that no one thought to question it.

Drews says that it was a response by more Jewish-orientated Christians against Paul (or gnostics). They set up the story of a earthly Jesus firmly in a Jewish context.

Quote:
5. Explain why they made him as a human being during the same generation (or the generation right after) he was supposed to have lived.

Drews thinks that the more Jewish-orientated Christian community had to trump the authority Paul claimed for himself (being visited by Jesus on the road to Damascus): so they claimed to have eaten together with an actual physical Jesus.

Quote:
In studying the history of the Russian revolution it would be stupid to ignore the social conditions and so on, and it would be just as stupid to ignore people like Lenin and Trotsky and so on.

But Jesus doesn't play a role in the spread/development of Christianity itself throughout the world, which, I insist, should be the actual subject of study here. The comparison should be to the development of the USSR after the death of Lenin, and then a study of Lenin's life and sayings does nothing to explain the further course of it. Anything the Party leadership did or wanted to do could retroactively be put into Lenin's mouth. Effectively they invented a Lenin for themselves, one that did not actually exist, at least in that form. On the other hand they quasi-deleted such an opponent as Trotsky from history.

Dave B
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Jun 28 2017 20:17

As to gnostics etc

Very early on, probably early 2nd century, Christian, ‘heretics’ started to dehumanise JC in various ways.

One of them had it that at the instance of meeting John the Baptist god took over or occupied JC’s ordinary bod body and left it at the crucifixtion etc.

There is a problem with ‘heresies’ as to whether or not it was original and the orthodox view in fact heretical or the other way around.

Marcion of around 140AD for instance thought that “God’s sovereign governance over creation, including the plans of humanity” was a heresy and it was Satan that had sovereign governance over creation, including the plans of humanity.

The problem that ‘gnostic heretics’ had was the same as the one Celsum and people of a more general platonist viewpoint had; what was a perfect and divine doing wandering around as a lumpen prole?

And do divine being go for shit in the desert etc?

Another historical materialist point is that what makes an ideology particularly a popular one is not the specialness of it its supposed originator but the people or significant section of society that buy into it.

And that section of society has opinions and (socio-economic) interests that lead to them taking up one idea versus another.

Ideas as such are mutations but fail unless they are suitable adapted as a good fit in; as successful ‘rationale’ in a social environment.

I would say it was because a god, or JC, was presented as an ordinary prole like its followers that it was successful.

Actually the basic Feuerbachian idea of JC being a projection of or image of the masses that supported him goes back a long way, from possibly the first materialist?

Thus from Xenophanes (c. 570—c. 478 B.C.E.)

But mortals suppose that gods are born,
wear their own clothes and have a voice and body. (frag. 14)
Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black;
Thracians that theirs are blue-eyed and red-haired. (frag. 16)
But if horses or oxen or lions had hands
or could draw with their hands and accomplish such works as men,
horses would draw the figures of the gods as similar to horses, and the oxen as similar to oxen, and they would make the bodies of the sort which each of them had. (frag. 15)

http://www.iep.utm.edu/xenoph/

you could argue

…that the working class would draw or accept the figures of the god(s) as similar to the working class…

And thus doing a reverse anthropogenic projection from the gospel story it; appealed to those who were early christians because they were workers.

Celsum was under no doubts as to the socio economic make up of the early Christians even if others are.

Just as he never questioned the historicity of JC as an existing physical human being.

The Gnostic/marcion argument about ‘physicality’ of the material world took another turn and developed into catharism which believed that the physical world wasn’t real at all and an illusion.

Its very modern variant would be the film the Matrix and that we are living a computer simulation.

Something that has kicked off very recently by hardnosed scientists.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-we-living-in-a-computer-s...

I think the gospel story has a deeper "philosophical" turn to it.

I am not going to be judged as to my life on earth by some bod that can turn water into wine and conjure up a fish supper out of nothing.

Which party wouldn’t he get invited to.

Let alone the cudos you get from walking on water and healing the blind etc.

Eat shit and see how you deal with it before judging me.

Hence the theological decent to hell was seminal as I guess he was as helpless there, as it goes, as we are here?

Unless of course when he said at the last supper that they couldn’t follow him were he was going to go he really was planning on just nipping out for a pooh.

The idea of altruistic and saving decent to hell or Hades or whatever was very contemporary for the time and not just in the myth of Err.

So you had this from Ovid who isn’t a bad place to go to get some idea of what was rattling around in peoples heads at the time?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheus_and_Eurydice

Dave B
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Jun 28 2017 21:37

Incidentally a lot of born agains and atheist new testament scholars can get a bit upset about this kind if thing.

It doesn’t seem to occur to them that perhaps JC had an original ‘political’ idea and was pitching it in a range of terms that people were familiar with.

Be it Judaism, cynicism, stoicism, Platonism, Buddhism or foreclosure on debt.

There was an interesting article on that recently on something more recent?

By the end of the Revolutionary War, as few as a third of American farmers owned their own land. When the urban elites began to foreclose on the debts and raise the taxes of subsistence farmers – many of whom had fought a long and excruciating war to secure their “liberty” – it amounted to a direct assault on the last bastion of Americans’ economic independence.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/06/23/deep-history-of-americas-deep-stat...

Tom Henry
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Jun 29 2017 04:33

I have been sporadically enjoying this thread, but there is something I have just wanted to throw in for a while. I don’t require any responses or anything, I don’t want to spoil the discussion.

Isn’t the example of Jesus and his activities actually an example of how political opposition to the state is organised in states?

That is, ‘Jesus’ is less a possible example of communism than an example of how political groups become sects, rackets and dictatorships?

Jesus is a product of state formation?

The only evidence I can find for prophets (people who are ‘revolutionary’ or anti current society) existing outside states is the example of the karai prophets amongst the Amazonian Tupi-Guarani written up by the anthropologist Pierre Clastres (Archeology of Violence, 2010, p 159-162). But the phenomenon of the karai was founded on pressures on that society (such as population growth and the emergence of powerful chieftains) to form a state. They emerged in a society he describes as changing for the worse, becoming expressive of ‘social division’ and ‘inequality’. Thus the karai saw the way things were as evil and wanted to go to a better world, toward where the sun rises, and they found that their ideas resonated with others. When ten thousand Tupi-Guarani got to the mouth of the Amazon in the early sixteenth century they found the obstacle of the sea. Ten years later the last surviving 300 of them found their way to Peru, which by then was occupied by the Spanish.

So, the indications might be that

a) communism is solely a response to living in a state (or, as with the karai, seeing the state coming for you on the horizon)

b) the example of Jesus gives us the blueprint for how this opposition to the state pans out if it is ‘successful’

c) it gives us an indication of how all political groups behave

d) it hints that consciousness-raising is in fact nothing different to the strategy of Jesus, which was described as putting a sword between father and son, sister and brother, etc, - that ‘sword’ being belief (a raised consciousness, or an understanding of ‘the truth’ etc).

This would mean then that Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers could be described as examples of communism because their particular activities did not get them or their ideology effectively anywhere.

But the example of Jesus would tell us that if Gerrard Winstanley had got anywhere he would probably end up as another Lenin, Stalin, or Pope (even though that was not his intention at all of course). In fact, following this line of reasoning, Oliver Cromwell, of course, assumed the Jesus, or proxy Jesus, role in the English Revolution.

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Jun 29 2017 07:34
Noa Rodman wrote:
Drews mentions the fight within Christianity against Gnosticism, there was such a thing as Gnostic Christianity right? and did it not regard Jesus as a purely celestial being?

No it didn't, for all intents and purposes everyone would have thought of Jesus as a human being, except he only seemed to be human, he was actually a Divine being that looked human (like Docitism); So that actually takes away from Your theory since the Gnostics had to deal With the fact that everyone knew Jesus as a human being that lived at a specific time.

Quote:
Drews says that it was a response by more Jewish-orientated Christians against Paul (or gnostics). They set up the story of a earthly Jesus firmly in a Jewish context.

The Gnostics only adopted Jesus as a figure in the mid 2nd Century at the very earliest, if they even existed before.

Paul was not a Gnostic and he understood Jesus as a historical individual, and the Gospel material goes back to Pauls time.

Quote:
Drews thinks that the more Jewish-orientated Christian community had to trump the authority Paul claimed for himself (being visited by Jesus on the road to Damascus): so they claimed to have eaten together with an actual physical Jesus.

Which is nonsense because Mark, and Luke, were pro-Pauline; matthew was pro Jewish. Not only that but Paul's claim had to be defended (and he did) against those who actually knew Jesus when he was alive ... so he has it backwards.

...

There's a reason Drews theory and the other mythecist theories have been dead in the water for about 100 years and completely abandoned in scholarship.

Quote:
But Jesus doesn't play a role in the spread/development of Christianity itself throughout the world, which, I insist, should be the actual subject of study here. The comparison should be to the development of the USSR after the death of Lenin, and then a study of Lenin's life and sayings does nothing to explain the further course of it. Anything the Party leadership did or wanted to do could retroactively be put into Lenin's mouth. Effectively they invented a Lenin for themselves, one that did not actually exist, at least in that form. On the other hand they quasi-deleted such an opponent as Trotsky from history.

Jesus himself doesn't, but the traditions coming out of his life, teachings, and Death do.

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Jun 29 2017 08:09
Tom Henry wrote:
Isn’t the example of Jesus and his activities actually an example of how political opposition to the state is organised in states?

That is, ‘Jesus’ is less a possible example of communism than an example of how political groups become sects, rackets and dictatorships?

Jesus is a product of state formation?

Jesus, along With really all prophets in the Jewish Tradition, only exist within the context of state/ruling class oppression. Every example of a prophet (that functions as a prophet, not the judges for example in pre-state Israel), was a reaction to oppression and exploitation.

Quote:
Thus the karai saw the way things were as evil and wanted to go to a better world, toward where the sun rises, and they found that their ideas resonated with others. When ten thousand Tupi-Guarani got to the mouth of the Amazon in the early sixteenth century they found the obstacle of the sea. Ten years later the last surviving 300 of them found their way to Peru, which by then was occupied by the Spanish.

A foreteller, or a Oracle or something like that is NOT a prophet. In ancient Israel (against popular conception) a prophet was not primarily someone that went around telling the future, but rather someone who would speak God's Word against the rulers, sometimes that included what God would do.

Apocalyptic prophets was more speaking about God's revelation of the condemnation of the rulers and usually included an eschatalogical vision. Other prophets were more political in that God saw the oppression of the poor and demanded justice.

A prophet is not someone that went around telling the future.

Quote:
a) communism is solely a response to living in a state (or, as with the karai, seeing the state coming for you on the horizon)

b) the example of Jesus gives us the blueprint for how this opposition to the state pans out if it is ‘successful’

c) it gives us an indication of how all political groups behave

d) it hints that consciousness-raising is in fact nothing different to the strategy of Jesus, which was described as putting a sword between father and son, sister and brother, etc, - that ‘sword’ being belief (a raised consciousness, or an understanding of ‘the truth’ etc).

"communism" on the part of the Christians was based on their belief in eschatology and their wishing to follow Jesus' teachings in light of that.

Jesus wasn't successful tongue, he got killed, the Christian Group outside wasn't a threat to the system, it was more of an annoying itch.

What Jesus did was preach general Jewish justice teaching (his teaching was more or less the same as John the Baptist) along With the eschatalogical coming of God's Kingdom; what made him different, however, was his pacifism and his teaching of a Complete reversal ...With that teaching he then would poke the authorities (doing his antics at the temple) trying to goad them into taking action ... and they did, and they killed him.

Tom Henry
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Jun 29 2017 08:56

Hi Rommon, thanks for treating me kindly as I paddle out of my depth.

I don't want to derail the conversation here but could i just make a couple of comments? And don't feel you have to reply to them.

I probably should have explained the karai story better. They were looking for peace on earth, they weren't foretelling the future like an oracle in a cave. They thought if everyone went elsewhere things would be good. Their 'prophecy' was that everything was going downhill, which everyone around them also recognised, and their solution was not to rise up against things right there, but head off to somewhere else. They didn't have a centralized state to focus their hostilities upon. The mess was all around them and there was not one specific thing to attack (maybe this is always the case, but the point I am making is that they were outside of a state, not inside one), but they, and the people they talked with, recognised how things were changing, etc. Their promised land was the Land without Evil, the resting place of the gods, 'where arrows hunted by themselves', and they argued that all previous laws needed to be subverted and turned upside down.

I know, of course, that Jesus wasn't personally 'successful' (or was he?) - I meant 'Jesus' was ultimately 'successful' in material terms - in that his acolytes seized power, not that they instituted a better world. I meant specifically that what we can learn from the story of 'Jesus' is possibly more to do with how communism will 'fail' rather than how it might succeed. In the same context: was the Russian Revolution successful? Was Lenin Successful? Was Stalin successful.

On another note, could one, for a laugh (??), change one of your comments?:

Quote:
"communism" on the part of the Christians was based on their belief in eschatology and their wishing to follow Jesus' teachings in light of that.

to

Communism on the part of the Marxists is based on their belief in eschatology [the study of 'end things'] and their wishing to follow Marx's Hegelian inspired critiques and theories in light of that.

smile

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Jun 29 2017 09:10

Tom, I see, Yeah, I think that would definately fit With the prophetic categoery.

To be honest I'm not really that familiar With non-Jewish prophetic traditions, the Greco-Roman world didn't really have a prophetic tradition.

As far as Jesus being successful, I don't really know; I mean Jerusalem did not get restored, God did not establish his Kingdom, his movement did start eschatalogical communities of fellowship, and that was in line With Jesus's Message.

By the time CHristianity really took hold (which was after Constantine) Christianity was unrecognizable from the actual life and ministry of Jesus. Augustinian Christianity was a Whole different animal.

BTW, you're not the only one that has seen parallels between Christian eschatology and Marxist historical materialism; there are a lot there. I think much of the enlightenment, both socialist and liberal; come directly from theological positions influenced by Christianity. Marx was more Christian than he would ever care to admit.

Tom Henry
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Jun 29 2017 09:35

Thanks, yes, that's a fair point, that I glossed over, about the 'distance' between Jesus and The Roman take up of it. Although Augustinianism could be equated to later Stalinism, and all that - but that's a different discussion! Cheers.

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Jun 29 2017 12:28
Rommon wrote:
[Paul] understood Jesus as a historical individual,

That's addressed by Drews:

Drews wrote:
Only once, 1 Cor. xi. 23 sq., where Paul quotes the words at the Last Supper, does the apostle apparently refer to an experience of the “historical” Jesus: “The Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was betrayed, took bread,” &c.21 Unfortunately here we have to do with what is clearly a later insertion. The passage is obscure throughout (vers. 23–32), and through its violent and confusing interruption of the Pauline line of thought may be recognised as an after-insertion in the original text, as is even acknowledged by many on the theological side.

.

Rommon wrote:
because Mark, and Luke, were pro-Pauline; matthew was pro Jewish. Not only that but Paul's claim had to be defended (and he did) against those who actually knew Jesus when he was alive ... so he has it backwards.

The author of Mark might have agreed with Paul's preaching to the gentiles, but still felt threatened by Paul's infringement on their authority.

Quote:
But when Paul showed his independence by his reserve before the “Brothers” at Jerusalem, and began to attract the feelings of those at Jerusalem by his abrogation of the Mosaic Law, then they commenced to treat him with suspicion, to place every obstacle in the way of his missionary activity, and to attempt, led by the zealous James, to bring the Pauline communities under their own government. Then, seeking a title for the practice of the apostolic vocation, they found it in this—that every one who wished to testify to Christ must himself have seen him after his resurrection.
But Paul could very justly object that to him also the transfigured Jesus had appeared.125 Then they made the justification for the apostolic vocation consist in this, that an apostle must not only have seen Christ risen up, but must also have eaten and drunk with him.

(here Drews places the first Christian community in Jerusalem, but this isn't essential).

This is just a simple thesis of Drews' regarding the question why Jesus would have been humanized.

----

Anyway, some works of John M. Robertson's against the existence of Jesus:

Christianity and mythology (1910, 2nd revised ed.): https://archive.org/details/christianitymyth00robe

Pagan Christs: studies in comparative hierology
(1911, 2nd revised ed.): https://archive.org/details/paganchristsstud00robe

The historical Jesus, a survey of positions (1916): https://archive.org/details/historicaljesuss00robe

The Jesus problem; a restatement of the myth theory
(1917): https://archive.org/details/cu31924029296147

(alternatively, these are also available at hathi)

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Jun 29 2017 12:08
Rommon wrote:
parallels between Christian eschatology and Marxist historical materialism; there are a lot there. I think much of the enlightenment, both socialist and liberal; come directly from theological positions influenced by Christianity. Marx was more Christian than he would ever care to admit.

That's a bunch of nonsense.

Tom Henry
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Jun 29 2017 12:16

Is it though? wink

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Jun 29 2017 12:33

Yes, as Kautsky wrote in a review of Bebel's book on Islam:

Quote:
our development does not stand on the shoulders of Christianity, but rather on the shoulders of classical antiquity one the one side, and the shoulders of Islamic culture on the other.

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Jun 29 2017 12:56

Noa ... I don't know why you insist on using Kautsky as an athority on Christian origins, and using scholarship which is outdated by 100 years. As far as Drew's claim or "later insertion" (he would need a Whole lot of later insertions by the way as Paul mentions Jesus as a historical figure more than once), there is absolutely 0 textual-critical evidence to back that up, and the textual-critical evidnece shows the opposite. Your claim about Mark is just made up and has 0 evidence behind it.

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Jun 29 2017 13:28

I merely quoted one point in Drews' thesis (it wouldn't be appropriate to post the full thing, so look it up if you care). The claim that Mark was written by a rival Christian group solely in order to challenge Paul's authority is indeed "made up" by Drews, but so are all claims by "Scholarship" about the origins of Christianity (btw, I think you're committing some fallacy of consensus). And the date of scholarship doesn't matter for judging its truth-content.

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Jun 29 2017 14:01

The date does matter if since that date a ton of New evidence and information and studies have come out and the former doesn't take that into account. No not all claims are "made up", some of them have evidence backing them, others do not.

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Jun 29 2017 14:39

Just bluster. So far you have given as an example of new information eg the Damascus document, drawing the conclusion that "covenant renewals, and even Direct talk of New covenants was rooted deeply within the Jewish worldview."

which is irrelevant to the point that the founders of Christianity need merely have been people familiar with Judaism.

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Jun 30 2017 07:31

I personally haven't done extensive Research in the DDS, I've done Research for my area of interest within Christian Origins (the economic practices and their origins from the Lukean Q material), However I've read many historians who HAVE done extensive Research into the DDS, the archeological finds in Palestine, Greco-Roman history, and second temple Judaism.

The point is not that they were familiar With "judaism" broadly, but rather early first Century second temple Palestinian Judaism. And deeply so.

Btw, it seems strange to me that the gospel writers would put failed prophecies in Jesus' mouth if they weren't actually written in his generation, or they weren't taking from actual eye witness Sources, it's also strange that they would record material by Jesus and then try and explain it away, or redact it to make it fit their theology. You haven't given really any positive evidence for Your claim by the way. You're just trying to swat Down all the evidences that go heavily against Your theory, usually by brining up scholars from the early 20th Century that push completely abandoned theories ... btw, Your argument against Q is just "ochams Razor"??? Common now, that isn't an argument that actually deals With the synoptic problem, it's just ignoring the issue.

Dave B
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Jun 30 2017 17:29

I think this is the question that demands an answer?

The Alethes Logos of Celsus and the Historicity of Christ David Neal Greenwood

Conclusion

As has been pointed out by others, the testimony of hostile witnesses is particularly valuable. As John Meier has noted, “such positive evidence within a hostile source is the strongest kind of evidence.”52

If Celsus, who would likely have wished Christ away from the Roman Empire if he could, testified to his existence, that in some ways is even more valuable than positive testimony from a Christian source.

Ultimately, neither Celsus nor any of the polemicists who followed him could scientifically validate the existence of Christ, but at every turn when historical issues were raised, neither he nor they ever claimed that Christ was a myth. This would have been the simplest approach, surely, to insist that there was no birth of Christ, virgin or otherwise, no deeds, miraculous or otherwise, and no death, atoning or otherwise.

This would have been devastatingly effective, had there been anyone for whom such an approach seemed credible.

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Noa Rodman
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Jun 30 2017 18:38

debate on Celsus in Richard Carlile's The Lion (1828) between an anonymous critic (who btw believes Jesus was brought up as a magician in Egypt) and Robert Taylor (response on p.81).

Taylor argued against the existence of Jesus in a couple of books:

Syntagma of the evidences of the Christian religion. Being a vindication of the manifesto of the Christian Evidence Society (1828): https://archive.org/details/syntagmaevidenc00taylgoog

The Diegesis: Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity (1829): https://archive.org/details/diegesisbeingad00taylgoog

Also available at hathi.

In the latter, Taylor says Celsus might be just referring to a different guy named Jesus (there were lots of people with that name), just as the Talmud does (hence, like I said, it is reasonable to suppose that Celsus got it from a Jewish oral tradition).

So Robert Taylor (1784 – 1844) deserves credit as one of the first to reject the existence of Jesus, years before Bruno Bauer.

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Rommon
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Jul 3 2017 07:30

So Celsus was writing about a different guy named Jesus, who the Christians followed, With the same biography and teachings, living in the same era and area ...

Not only that even within the New Testament there are arguments being addressed dealing With the historical Jesus. The birth narratives were very likely reactions to the fact that People were saying Jesus was a bastard (as seen in John).

But maybe, the apostles fabricated the arguments against Jesus being a prophet/messiah so they could argue against them so that they could convince everyone that Jesus was real ... Maybe ...

Celsus only gets part of his polemic from a Jewish Source ... the other part he gets from elsewhere.

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Noa Rodman
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Jul 3 2017 14:59

There isn't much use in again responding to those types of arguments (Celsus as hostile witness - although Celsus wasn't even a witness), which it turns out were already made in 1828. Robert Taylor addressed it eg also in his Syntagma:

Quote:
Never should it be forgotten, that we
have only been allowed to know what the objections of Celsus
were, per favour of such extracts from his writings as his oppo-
nent, Origen found it convenient to answer ; and if Origen were
the author of the objections, as well as of the answers to them,
he would not have been the first Christian Jack-o'both-sides.

It wouldn't have done to have suffered Celsus to ask him to
show proof of the existence of Christ as a man, to have called on
him to produce a copy of the register of his crucifixion, or to
refer to any extraneous and independent evidence.

Another major book against the existence of Jesus (which btw deals with the Talmud references) is the following: William Henry Burr's Revelations of Antichrist, concerning Christ and Christianity (1879): https://archive.org/details/revelationsofant00burr

Dave B
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Jul 4 2017 18:33

It is I think quite preposterous to suggest that Origen’s Contra Celsum is a complete fraud and Origen may have even invented Celsum.

It would have a fraud of breathtaking and quite unnecessary sophistication.

As is often the case with these things re Mr Taylor, there are mutually exclusive arguments that superficially are supposed to lend weight to the overall argument.

So whilst proposing that Celsum was a myth, as well he suggests Celsum did exist, and speculates that he would have asked for contemporary evidence of JC’s existence which Origen ignored as an inconvenient question.

That would be proposing that JC being a magician and the son of a whore and an archer from the 14th Legion rather than a virgin; and was short ugly, disfigured and working class was less inconvenient than he didn’t exist at all.

Of course it would have been ‘inconvenient’ for Celsus to flip and after providing such salacious details then say that he didn’t exist.

Before the nag harmardi library discovery thing of 1945 etc the christians were accused of Jack-o'both-sides stuff quite understandably as some of this Gnostic stuff that they talked about did look like complete bonkers and perfect straw man material.

They have come out smelling of roses on that one and it looks like they fairly represented that alleged ‘straw man’ as something quite real.

The asses head thing also obviously you would think wasn’t Jack-o'both-sides stuff as we have contemporary archaeological evidence of that as well as in Josephus’s Against Apion.

And Tertullian, the Christian, mentions it as well.

Actually a Christian from around 140AD does ‘seem’ to refer to contemporary ‘roman’ records in Justin the Martrys appeal to the Roman emperor to give the Christian a break.

First apology chapters 35 and 48.

“Acts” of Pilate here in the context refers to a report by Pilate of what had happened that Justyn circa 140AD seems to think is their document and they have it.

It is an intriguing subject as Tertullian mentions it in some detail around 190AD but whatever he had then certainly looks like a Christianised and forged version of it.

However it didn’t go away as circa 300AD the Roman emperor Maximin II published an anti Christian state text called the Acts of Pilate which unfortunately the Christians later burned.

I think it is reasonable to assume that at that stage there was still no JC myth story.

The third acts of Pilate dated post 400AD , which is an entertaining read albeit an obvious fraud, was almost certainly a rebuttal of that.

There was another anti Christian 15 chapter book in the late 3rd century by Porphyry of Tyre.

Burned again and shot themselves in their future foot again by our Christians

Books then are like our chapters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porphyry_(philosopher)

There is no suggestion or indication there either of a myth story, in fact the contrary.

It is possible of course that there was a JC myth and the oral Judiac tradition decided to counter it with counter myth stories.

I guess the pagans and ‘Jews’ might prefer that ‘glass house’ anti historical approach.

The problem I have with that is that after being familiar with literary style of the time etc.

The anti Christian stuff in contra celsum is rooted in gritty and credible real materialism.

Dave B
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Jul 4 2017 19:55

Mr taylor is a good find mind you.

Well resourced and there is some stuff in it I hadn’t heard about.