Jesus was NOT the Messiah
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25-10-2014, 07:55 AM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2014 07:59 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(24-10-2014 02:03 PM)Learner Wrote:  What groups of Jews are you referring to pre-Jesus that believed and expected a Messiah that would suffer and die, that would be crucified and raised the third day (Paul in Corinthians?)

Richard Carrier actually points the existence of such beliefs among a minority of jews at the time:

"A fragmentary pesher among the Dead Sea Scrolls explicitly identifies the servant of Isaiah 52-53 with the messiah of Daniel 9. This decisively confirms that this specific equation had already been made by pre-Christian Jews, as it exists not just in a pre-Christian text, but in this case a pre-Christian manuscript."

"The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, which was originally composed in the 1st century A.D., actually inserts "messiah" right in Isaiah 52:13 ("Behold, my servant, the messiah…"), thus confirming this "servant" was already being interpreted as the messiah by Jews decades before Christianity began. "

http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2011/...ssiah.html

To be fair, this doesn't appear to have been a popular view, and probably existed in such an insignificant way, that the view hardly even existed. Even the Gospels speak of the suffering and death of Jesus as unexpected. Clearly not even his followers expected this to be the end outcome of the messiah, that he'd get hung up by the Romans. I think the Gospels are fairly explicit in this regard. "Our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel"

So it does seem to be true, that linking Jesus to the suffering servant passage, is something that they read back into the text after his death, along with attaching him to various scriptures. They may have used passages that others jews might not typically have associated with Messianic expectations, but this is kind of besides the point. They believed Jesus was the messiah first, and than they looked in scripture at whatever passages and verses, even remotely hinted at his person. We seem to agree on this much.

Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac may not have been used by these writers, but any reader today reading the passage can see the illusion to the death of Jesus, of God sacrificing his only son. In the same way even if the writers never alluded to Isaiah's suffering servant passage, anyone today reading the passage would see the illusions to Jesus. This doesn't prove the passages were actually foreshadowing him, but they still strike a similar image, to those who knew about the life and death of Jesus.

Quote:The Old Testament does not teach that blood sacrifice was the only sacrifice that could atone for sins.

I agree, and I don't think the NT writers believed this either. I think the death and atonement concepts of the Gospels, could only be understand in the context of Jesus's person and life, and not just the crucifixion as an isolated thing, where it's merely the shedding of blood that's significant, rather than what led to the shedding of the blood as just as important.

Christ's life, death, and resurrection, led his followers to a new understanding of God, of God as a father, who loved them, who was love himself, and not a God who merely paid in terms of what is due, but by a gratuitous grace unearned by it's recipients, as illustrated in the Prodigal son. It led them to no longer believe in a God who was distant, but one so near as a friend breaking bread with them, who suffered and loved along with them, and as close to them as their own flesh.

I don't think it was the magical quality of Jesus's blood that did this, but his life and person, that did so, that brought his followers into this new relationship with God. Even the prophet Isaiah, wrote that the actual sacrifices does nothing for God, that their stench reeked, and that what God truly desired is they turned their hearts to him.


Quote:Only after Jesus came, with people who believed him having an agenda to argue that Jesus was the Messiah...only then would people try to scour the OT to find references that the Messiah would suffer and die.

Well their agenda, was to validate something that they were already compelled to believe as true. Their agenda was to make sense of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection, in their historical tradition.
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25-10-2014, 08:17 AM
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  You are describing pretty much how I viewed the question until recently. I just finished Carrier's "On The Historicity Of Jesus" and have seen some of his presentations on the subject and am finding myself being swayed. As EvolutionKills noted, he makes a strong case that the evidence fits the pure mythicist camp at least as well as it fits the "historical core" concept.

Unfogged, thank you for the reply and your thoughts on the issue! I'll admit I've read much more on the "historical core" concept than on the "mythicist" concept, so with anything, it just shows the importance to be open-minded and read widely...I'll have to put that Carrier book a little higher up on my reading list.

You said: "he makes a strong case that the evidence fits the pure mythicist camp at least as well as it fits the "historical core" concept." That's a good point. When you're dealing with such scant evidence for some very unimportant person in a backwater part of the empire, that's not too surprising.

(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Paul certainly deals only with a supernatural Jesus and by the time Mark was written it doesn't seem so unlikely that a writer could either mistakenly assume that he was an actual person or find that to be a convenient way to introduce the message.
I guess I'm a little confused by this statement you made. Paul's letters were written spanning the time of around early 50's to late 60's AD. Most scholars date Mark in the late 60's, being pre-AD 70 (as Mark doesn't as clearly describe the destruction of Jerusalem as Luke, which was written after it). So there wasn't hardly any time at all between Paul's letters about the supernatural Jesus and the time of gospel of "Mark"...they overlapped. As I've mentioned before, I think "Mark" lived somewhere away from Palestine and didn't have any eyewitness testimony (I mean, who'd know Aramaic to even interview the actual eyewitnesses!), but relied on passed-on stories. I don't think, if it's what you're implying, that "Mark" would've read anything from Paul for that to be the basis of his understanding about Jesus of Nazareth. The shared historical claims of Paul and "Mark" about Jesus would be probably only be the fact that Jesus was "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1). I see "Mark" as a completely independent source from anything from Paul. With "Mark" writing about 30 years after Jesus' death, that's not a lot of time for all these stories passing through the grapevine across the churches in the Empire...to believe the person the stories and faith were about never even existed in the first place. Granted, I'm not saying our earliest copies of Mark now (from a couple hundred years later) are the same as the first gospel itself. But, as I noted above, there are some decent reasons for seeing a historical core of things that wouldn't have been made up...Jesus' failed predictions, unlikely aspects of Jesus' life if he'd be the Messiah, etc.


(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Currently I'm in the middle of "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth" by John Allegro. It is going into details of the mythology of the Essenes in the last centuries BCE and first centuries CE and some of the details do seem to provide support for the proposition that the idea of a purely supernatural savior was extant.

Sounds like an interesting book about the Essenes! I'm not surprised they'd have the view you described of a purely supernatural savior. But I'd also mention the difference between the apocalypticists VS the Essenes. John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were apocalypticists. Jesus could've aligned himself with the Essenes, but chose instead to be a follower of John.

(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  One thing that has driven a lot of this home is that I recently started volunteering at a local historical site. The period covered only dates back about 250 years and yet we have conflicting claims about the people involved and the dates things happened. There is a lot that we have to admit we just do not know for sure and we are presenting the most probable reconstruction we can make. The people involved were nearly all literate and official records have been preserved and yet many of the details are in question. Extrapolating to 2000 years ago when literacy was low and for which records have been lost, deliberately destroyed, and forged, the uncertainty has to be huge.

Very good point (and I completely agree)! That would be a fascinating experience to be a part of!
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25-10-2014, 09:25 AM
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 05:23 AM)Learner Wrote:  
(24-10-2014 04:03 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The First Century gospel writers were inventing what they cooked up. They were not "interpreting" anything. The good thing about the Rabbi, is he squarely places the whole she-bang squarely back in the midst of Judaism which produced it. The Rabbi makes many mistakes, (including his contention that a gospel is a "biography"), which it clearly is not. They were proclamations of faith by believers, for believers to remind themselves what they already believed.

For the record, I am more of the persuasion of the likes of Bart Ehrman and E.P. Sanders (the Gospels are highly legendary, with a historical core) rather than of Richard Carrier (Jesus never existed). It's the same way we have to read accounts of like Alexander the Great, who also was supposedly born of a virgin...we need to discern the historical core behind some of the legendary especially when reading about ancient figures, and especially when reading writings from the followers.

I believe (based on my study of the topic) that the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) were most likely all written in the first century anonymously, so I don't believe any of the gospels was actually written by the apostles. I believe John was written a while later than the Synoptics, and my gut reaction is that most of it is highly legendary, considering the great discrepancies with the Synoptics. (Why did Jesus spend the vast majority of his time describing who he is in John, but always hid that in the Synoptics? Why did Jesus say his miracles were signs in John, but refused to do signs in the Synoptics? How could John and the Synoptics be describing such an incredibly different Jesus?)

My understanding is that the Synoptic Gospels were written by distant followers in the Roman Empire who were pretty well versed in Greek (none of Jesus' apostles could've written the Gospels in Greek, and it's highly doubtful they managed to find a top-notch scribe who could write an argued treatise and knew the Septuagint really well). I believe all their source information was passed down (some accurately, some not so much), and this was the basis for their accounts...and any other gospels they could get their hands on. (I've read there were at least 50 gospels in circulation in the first 100 years, I think.) Most scholars agree that the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark's gospel predominantly for their own gospels...and it seems clear that Luke corrected Mark in places where he didn't agree. I would think the author of Matthew took the gospel of Mark and other info he had, and then as a Jew having familiarity with the OT, tried to find ways to find supposed prophecies of Jesus fulfilled from the OT so as to convert his fellow Jews to following Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus' followers were also apocalyptic, as we see in 1st Thessalonians, were they expected the kingdom to come anytime and were nervous of those who'd already died before the kingdom came (1st Thess was written in the AD 50's).

From my reading, I think Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, in the vein of John the Baptist (whose follower he was). Jesus taught, like John, to prepare for the kingdom that would come very very soon in that generation (but it never came). Jesus never claimed to be God, but saw himself as a servant of God who was preaching about and bringing in God's kingdom...where his twelve disciples (including Judas Iscariot when he said this - oops) would sit in that kingdom judging the twelve tribes. Jesus didn't teach as Paul that salvation was through belief in Jesus' death and resurrection, but Jesus taught to follow the commandments and have life...and that the final judgment would be according to works (but Paul does say this in Romans 2). All his moral teaching was in light of preparing for the coming kingdom.

I think one of the biggest keys to why Jesus is not the prophesied Messiah is: ALL the prophecies have a FIRST-coming perspective...what the Messiah will do WHEN HE COMES. Jesus didn't fulfill any of the duties/work of the prophesied Messiah, but his followers said, "Oh, well, he's just going to do all that when he comes back from heaven bringing the kingdom of God." Uh, yeah...NO. The prophecies said what the Messiah would do when he came...Jesus died and didn't do any of that stuff...therefore, he is not the Messiah. I mean, for crying out loud, anyone could claim to be the Messiah then!! Further, I guess Christians should still, in a sense, waiting to see if Jesus actually was the Messiah if he STILL hasn't come to fulfill the work the Messiah is supposed to do...he hasn't proven himself to be the Messiah yet (per their second-coming expectation)!

Glad to hear you listened to the Rabbi (it sounds like)! Thanks for your thoughts from listening to him.

There is no way to sort out all the messiah figures extant at the time. There is not a shred of evidence that a Jesus of Nazareth ever existed, and the fact that not one of the fantastic claims about him, or the events surrounding him, (that many of them are impossible and could not have happened), or were recorded by any of the writers of the time who recorded many other less important happenings, the fact that the "preaching" of Jesus reflects the concerns of the "simplification" paradigm of the Jewish Diaspora from 50 -100 years later than when he was supposed to have existed, the fact that Mark knew of the temple destruction, and all the MUCH more developed theological themes apparent in both the gospels and Acts, ... all lead me to think, while we will never know for sure, Jesus probably never existed, and he was a conflated "meme" invented later.

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25-10-2014, 09:41 AM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2014 09:50 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 07:55 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac may not have been used by these writers, but any reader today reading the passage can see the illusion to the death of Jesus, of God sacrificing his only son.

No. Absolutely not. (First of all it "allusion", not "illusion").
The Abraham myth was directly imported from the Sumerian "ram in a thicket"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_in_a_Thicket , myth from Sumeria.

Think about what you are saying.
You are saying that the assemblers of the myths of Genesis actually had a notion of their deity "sacrificing" HIS son. That is utterly insane. There is not a shred of evidence in Hebrew thought for that, anywhere. It's modernist, Presentism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presentism_...nalysis%29
It's totally backwards. (BTW, this myth is also a "remnant" from the fact that Hebrews practiced child sacrifice.) Just because one human father was asked in a myth, to sacrifice his son, IN NO WAY can be conflated with what eventually came to be a justification for the death of a messiah figure.)
You're connecting imaginary dots.

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25-10-2014, 09:57 AM
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 08:17 AM)Learner Wrote:  
(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Paul certainly deals only with a supernatural Jesus and by the time Mark was written it doesn't seem so unlikely that a writer could either mistakenly assume that he was an actual person or find that to be a convenient way to introduce the message.
I guess I'm a little confused by this statement you made.

I wasn't trying to say that Mark built on Paul but rather that the idea of a Jesus known only via revelation existed in the 40-60CE period when Paul was writing and traveling. As you note, Mark was later and, whether he knew of Paul's writings specifically or not, he could easily have heard about the mythology and either (a) misunderstood it or (b) decided to present it in a historical context to make it easier to explain. Since it was roughly 30 years or more after the supposed events I think either is about as plausible as Mark actually having reliable stories of a historical figure. That means that Mark's writings don't do much to decide the issue one way or the other so other evidence is needed. Unfortunately, there doesn't actually appear to be any.

Quote:
(25-10-2014 07:22 AM)unfogged Wrote:  Currently I'm in the middle of "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth" by John Allegro. It is going into details of the mythology of the Essenes in the last centuries BCE and first centuries CE and some of the details do seem to provide support for the proposition that the idea of a purely supernatural savior was extant.

Sounds like an interesting book about the Essenes! I'm not surprised they'd have the view you described of a purely supernatural savior. But I'd also mention the difference between the apocalypticists VS the Essenes. John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were apocalypticists. Jesus could've aligned himself with the Essenes, but chose instead to be a follower of John.

I'm not so sure the differences are all that great. The Essene mythology seems to have morphed over time and I can easily see gnostic and apocalyptic versions breaking off as new variants from it. Whether that is the case or not, my point was just that the idea of the supernatural savior did exist in some sects so the common claim that all Jews only expected a physical messiah/king is misleading.

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25-10-2014, 10:05 AM
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 09:41 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Think about what you are saying.
You are saying that the assemblers of the myths of the Genesis actually had a notion of their deity "sacrificing" HIS son.

That's actually not what I am saying at all. Of course the writer of the Abraham story had no notion of God sacrificing his son, or any foreshadowing of the death of Jesus.

But a person who believes Jesus's was the messiah, the son of God, will likely see allusions in Abraham and Issac to the Jesus story, just like they would see in the suffering servant passage of Isaiah, even if the writers themselves were not making any messianic suggestions.
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25-10-2014, 10:12 AM
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 10:05 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(25-10-2014 09:41 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Think about what you are saying.
You are saying that the assemblers of the myths of the Genesis actually had a notion of their deity "sacrificing" HIS son.

That's actually not what I am saying at all. Of course the writer of the Abraham story had no notion of God sacrificing his son, or any foreshadowing of the death of Jesus.

But a person who believes Jesus's was the messiah, the son of God, will likely see allusions in Abraham and Issac to the Jesus story, just like they would see in the suffering servant passage of Isaiah, even if the writers themselves were not making any messianic suggestions.

Do you see any possibility that the writers of the NT gospels used the OT stories as inspiration for their own works? In other words, it isn't that the stories of Abraham and Isaiah allude to Jesus but rather that the story of Jesus is (intentionally) patterned after the older stories? The allusions that Christians make are being made backwards.

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25-10-2014, 10:32 AM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2014 11:24 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 10:05 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(25-10-2014 09:41 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Think about what you are saying.
You are saying that the assemblers of the myths of the Genesis actually had a notion of their deity "sacrificing" HIS son.

That's actually not what I am saying at all. Of course the writer of the Abraham story had no notion of God sacrificing his son, or any foreshadowing of the death of Jesus.

But a person who believes Jesus's was the messiah, the son of God, will likely see allusions in Abraham and Issac to the Jesus story, just like they would see in the suffering servant passage of Isaiah, even if the writers themselves were not making any messianic suggestions.

No. A Jew would not, and how would non-Jews even know about it ? Yahweh had no "sons", (as Jesus CAME MUCH LATER to be thought of, AFTER they (non-Jews) fought about it, and argued in the Councils) and even *if* Jesus were a divine figure, NONE of the other divine figures in Hebrew thought *even approached* the status of Yahweh. The term "son of god" did not mean "THE son of god". MANY people were called "son of god". The general honorific term "son of god" meant (in that culture), that a man was "righteous" (NOT that there was some sort of special "generated relationship" between a human and Yahweh. "Divinity" and divine beings in ancient Israel is a complex subject. The "divinity" is DIFFERENT in each gospel, and did NOT mean what it has come to mean today. The idea that Yahweh would have had an "equal" being to himself, was and is, unthinkable to Jews, (who do like to forget about the fact that way back, he did have a wife).
http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/ta...rs-thesis/
When Saul asks the Witch of Endor to conjure the shade of Samuel, (he of couse cannot see it, and asks her what she sees), and she replies "I see a DIVINE being" ... etc. (That in NO way means she saw a deity.)

The second huge problem, is the nature of what is being done (efficacy of) in the sacrifice itself. Hebrew sacrifice was a "ritual (external) purification" to make a human come back into "sych" "right-sanding") with the universe, (and Yahweh). The nature of Christian sacrifice is NOT that. It's the same as "spiritual (internal)l purification" (which most likely came from Zoroastrianism) via Paul (who was from Tarsus, a hotbed of Mithraism, which was a form of Zoroastrianism). They are totally different concepts.

So no. Neither a Jew, nor a Christian would connect the Abraham myth to Jesus, (and IF the Fathers of the Church, who no doubt did know about it, thought it made sense or could be useful, they would have used it early, and prominently.

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25-10-2014, 11:01 AM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2014 04:52 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 10:12 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(25-10-2014 10:05 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  That's actually not what I am saying at all. Of course the writer of the Abraham story had no notion of God sacrificing his son, or any foreshadowing of the death of Jesus.

But a person who believes Jesus's was the messiah, the son of God, will likely see allusions in Abraham and Issac to the Jesus story, just like they would see in the suffering servant passage of Isaiah, even if the writers themselves were not making any messianic suggestions.

Do you see any possibility that the writers of the NT gospels used the OT stories as inspiration for their own works? In other words, it isn't that the stories of Abraham and Isaiah allude to Jesus but rather that the story of Jesus is (intentionally) patterned after the older stories? The allusions that Christians make are being made backwards.

Not exactly, but in a way .. yes. The Christianity seen in Paul's letters, develops directly from Jewish Apocalypticism. One of the Pauls, (and there were at least two), was a Jew, who thought Jesus was an apocalyptic "hero" straight from the Maccabean "hero" tradition, who, just like the heroes before him who were martyred for "the cause", and "exalted" this one, was not only "exalted" (ie "raised up" ... not *resurrected* which is a mistranslation) just like the heroes before him, but this one was "exalted" above all the other Jewish heroes (Philippians 2:9 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name"), (ie the "anointed one").
http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Resurrecti...1598150200
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...other-look

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25-10-2014, 11:27 AM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2014 11:38 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Jesus was NOT the Messiah
(25-10-2014 10:32 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  So no. Neither a Jew, nor a Christian would connect the Abraham myth to Jesus, (and IF the Fathers of the Church, who no doubt did know about it, thought it made sense or could be useful, they would have used it, .. and they very well may have at some point).

Again, you the bulk of your post consists of you addressing some point that I have never made. But you are clearly wrong here. Christians have long connected the Abraham and Issac myth to Jesus, even wikipedia points this out:

"The majority of Christian Biblical commentators view this episode as prefiguring God's plan to have his own Son, Jesus, die on the cross as a substitute for humanity, much like the ram God provided for Abraham. This fulfilled Abraham's reply to Isaac's question of where was the animal that would be used for the sacrifice; Abraham's affirmation that "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering" is seen as a prophetic foreshadow of the promise of the Lamb of God."

As far as the early Christians doing so, well here goes a link covering multiple sources doing just that:

http://www2.ferrum.edu/dhowell/txt_cntxt...istian.htm

Quote:"This "wood," again, Isaac the son of Abraham personally carried for his own sacrifice, when God had enjoined that he should be made a victim to Himself. [21] But, because these had been mysteries which were being kept for perfect fulfilment in the times of Christ" - Tertullian

Quote:And on this account Isaac carried the wook on which he was to be offered up to the place of sacrifice, just as the Lord Himself carried His own cross.

"Finally, since Isaac himself was not killed - for his father had been forbidden to kill him- who was that ram which was offered instead, and by whose foreshadowing blood the sacrifice was accomplished? For when Abraham had caught sight of him, he was caught by the horns in a thicket. Who then did he represent but Jesus, who, before He was offered up, had been crowned with thorns." - Augustine

Quote:"In place of Isaac the just, a ram appeared for slaughter, in order that Isaac might be liberated from his bonds. The slaughter of this animal redeemed Isaac from death. In like manner, the Lord, being slain, saved us; being bound, He loosed us; being sacrificed, He redeemed us ...

For the Lord was a lamb, like the ram which Abraham saw caught in the bush Sabec. But this bush represented the cross, and that place Jerusalem, and the lamb the Lord bound for slaughter." - Melito of Sardis

So yes, Christians did make this connection, very early on in fact.

(25-10-2014 10:32 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The second huge problem, is the nature of what is being done (efficacy of) in the sacrifice itself. Hebrew sacrifice was a "ritual (external) purification" to make a human come back into "sych" "right-sanding") with the universe, (and Yahweh). The nature of Christian sacrifice is NOT that. It's the same as "spiritual (internal)l purification" (which most likely came from Zoroastrianism) via Paul (who was from Tarsus, a hotbed of Mithraism, which was a form of Zoroastrianism). They are totally different concepts.


No, Paul's view of sacrifice as well as the gospel writers view of Jesus's sacrifice was as you put it " to be in right-standing" with God. It seems you understanding of Pauls writing is filtered through the lens of certain strains of Protestantism, but has no real bearing on how it's been understood by the churches with a historical link to the early traditions, such as Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. And the only sort of "internal purification" taking place, is the changing of one's heart.
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