Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
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28-06-2013, 09:38 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(28-06-2013 08:58 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Not available to the general public, perhaps, but surely even archaeological journals have online archives these days? Such as would be accessible from a university or even public library?

(insert joke about archaeologists being stuck in the past here)

Correct. Students at universities usually will have access to such online databases, and if someone has the money, they can buy the subscription themselves. There are different ways to access scholarship elsewhere, though. Some scholars will put their stuff on their own websites, or on academia.edu. With Google Scholar you can find previews of books and some articles.

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28-06-2013, 10:20 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(28-06-2013 09:04 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I guess it's okay that we can agree to disagree about the Nazareth village/hamlet, so I suggest we just leave it at this.

I must admit I'm extremely perplexed by your comments about the Nazarenes being a Christian sect, and that they were called such because Jesus allegedly came from Nazareth.

You obviously know a lot about old Testament Scripture. I hope you're not offended when I ask have you ever actually researched the origins of Christianity from an historical perspective? And by that I mean read anything more than just what is written in the Bible?

Yes, I have. My specialization is Israelite/Jewish and early Christian conceptualizations of deity. My focus vis-à-vis Christianity has been the development of Christian notions of Christ and his divinity. I've done quite a bit of research on issues intersecting that topic.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Please have another look at posts number 11 and 13 in this thread. Please press on the links provided, and have a look about the authors of the texts that I have referenced. Please also google "Nazarenes", and have a read of any of the historical discussions about this group. There is some confusion in the literature about them, I think some of this is deliberate, as the church fathers wrote about them, often knew not much about them, and even tried to distort their legacy. Yet there is no doubt that they were Jewish, and I think fundamentally opposed to the Gentile world which created Christianity. They are sometimes referred to as "Jewish Christians," which is a misnomer as they were never Christians.

In post #11, your argument that "Nazarene" does not refer to a provenance in Nazareth only raises one piece of evidence, namely the notion that Nazareth didn't exist in the first century. The accusation that Paul was a member of that sect simply means he was of the sect that followed the person from Nazareth. One of your links is dead, and I'm not interested in watching a YouTube video (especially when my wife is putting my youngest daughter to bed). I don't find support for your claim that "Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran." Your link takes me to a lengthy article that appears to be written by one James Scott Trimm, who doesn't appear to have any legitimate credentials of which to speak, and is speaking primarily in support of his faith community. I already linked to an article by a former president of the Society of Biblical Literature addressing parallelomania, and I would refer back to that article in response to Trimm's website. I don't see anything compelling about his case, but I'm not going to take the time to respond point by point. The quotation at the end of the Wise, Abegg, and Cook translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls certainly doesn't add any legitimacy to the claim. Marty Abegg is a good friend of mine, and I promise he wouldn't agree with Trimm's thesis.

Your post #13 basically just asserts that historical references to Christians were really references to Nazarenes. I don't see anything in the way of solid evidence.

Tertullian points out that the Jews called Christians Nazarenes because they worshipped a person from Nazareth. Epiphanius was the first to suggest it was a separate heretical sect within Christianity, but that's based more on the sectarianism of the time and his distance from the original groups. There's no real evidence that the Nazarenes were a Jewish sect.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hugh Schonfield and James Tabor are two of the authors that I'm very familiar with who wrote about them.

I have a lot of issues with Tabor's scholarship (and particularly his recent ridiculous claims about a "fish" ossuary) and Schonfield's scholarship is even more fringe. I'm not surprised to see either of these scholars promote this idea, but I wouldn't at all say it shows it enjoys circulation within mainstream scholarship. Eisenman's scholarship is probably the most ludicrous of those mentioned in your post #13.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  They are very well respected.

Tabor has made important contributions in terms of archaeology, but his interpretations are out there. His most recent campaigns have pretty much alienated him from most scholars today.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Douglas Lockhart is not so well-known, but writes extensively about them. There are hundreds of other respected authors who talk about the Nazarenes.

And their claims conflict entirely with the consensus view. I have yet to come across any legitimate evidence that there was any independent Jewish Nazarene sect.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I carry on about the Nazarenes a fair bit, because their existence challenges the very heart, the very legitimacy, of Christianity. I think their true story should be told.

Because it challenges the legitimacy of Christianity? Certainly you can see how one might feel this smacks of confirmation bias.

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29-06-2013, 12:35 AM (This post was last modified: 29-06-2013 12:38 AM by kim.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
Maybe those people in that little village were Sethians - they were around way before Christianity. Just tossing out a thought here. Drinking Beverage

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29-06-2013, 01:08 AM (This post was last modified: 29-06-2013 01:45 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(28-06-2013 10:20 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(28-06-2013 09:04 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I guess it's okay that we can agree to disagree about the Nazareth village/hamlet, so I suggest we just leave it at this.

I must admit I'm extremely perplexed by your comments about the Nazarenes being a Christian sect, and that they were called such because Jesus allegedly came from Nazareth.

You obviously know a lot about old Testament Scripture. I hope you're not offended when I ask have you ever actually researched the origins of Christianity from an historical perspective? And by that I mean read anything more than just what is written in the Bible?

Yes, I have. My specialization is Israelite/Jewish and early Christian conceptualizations of deity. My focus vis-à-vis Christianity has been the development of Christian notions of Christ and his divinity. I've done quite a bit of research on issues intersecting that topic.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Please have another look at posts number 11 and 13 in this thread. Please press on the links provided, and have a look about the authors of the texts that I have referenced. Please also google "Nazarenes", and have a read of any of the historical discussions about this group. There is some confusion in the literature about them, I think some of this is deliberate, as the church fathers wrote about them, often knew not much about them, and even tried to distort their legacy. Yet there is no doubt that they were Jewish, and I think fundamentally opposed to the Gentile world which created Christianity. They are sometimes referred to as "Jewish Christians," which is a misnomer as they were never Christians.

In post #11, your argument that "Nazarene" does not refer to a provenance in Nazareth only raises one piece of evidence, namely the notion that Nazareth didn't exist in the first century. The accusation that Paul was a member of that sect simply means he was of the sect that followed the person from Nazareth. One of your links is dead, and I'm not interested in watching a YouTube video (especially when my wife is putting my youngest daughter to bed). I don't find support for your claim that "Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran." Your link takes me to a lengthy article that appears to be written by one James Scott Trimm, who doesn't appear to have any legitimate credentials of which to speak, and is speaking primarily in support of his faith community. I already linked to an article by a former president of the Society of Biblical Literature addressing parallelomania, and I would refer back to that article in response to Trimm's website. I don't see anything compelling about his case, but I'm not going to take the time to respond point by point. The quotation at the end of the Wise, Abegg, and Cook translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls certainly doesn't add any legitimacy to the claim. Marty Abegg is a good friend of mine, and I promise he wouldn't agree with Trimm's thesis.

Your post #13 basically just asserts that historical references to Christians were really references to Nazarenes. I don't see anything in the way of solid evidence.

Tertullian points out that the Jews called Christians Nazarenes because they worshipped a person from Nazareth. Epiphanius was the first to suggest it was a separate heretical sect within Christianity, but that's based more on the sectarianism of the time and his distance from the original groups. There's no real evidence that the Nazarenes were a Jewish sect.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hugh Schonfield and James Tabor are two of the authors that I'm very familiar with who wrote about them.

I have a lot of issues with Tabor's scholarship (and particularly his recent ridiculous claims about a "fish" ossuary) and Schonfield's scholarship is even more fringe. I'm not surprised to see either of these scholars promote this idea, but I wouldn't at all say it shows it enjoys circulation within mainstream scholarship. Eisenman's scholarship is probably the most ludicrous of those mentioned in your post #13.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  They are very well respected.

Tabor has made important contributions in terms of archaeology, but his interpretations are out there. His most recent campaigns have pretty much alienated him from most scholars today.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Douglas Lockhart is not so well-known, but writes extensively about them. There are hundreds of other respected authors who talk about the Nazarenes.

And their claims conflict entirely with the consensus view. I have yet to come across any legitimate evidence that there was any independent Jewish Nazarene sect.

(28-06-2013 07:25 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I carry on about the Nazarenes a fair bit, because their existence challenges the very heart, the very legitimacy, of Christianity. I think their true story should be told.

Because it challenges the legitimacy of Christianity? Certainly you can see how one might feel this smacks of confirmation bias.

"My specialization is Israelite/Jewish and early Christian conceptualizations of deity. My focus vis-à-vis Christianity has been the development of Christian notions of Christ and his divinity. I've done quite a bit of research on issues intersecting that topic."

Please tell us more. I, for one, will be very interested to hear some of your conclusions.

"The accusation that Paul was a member of that sect simply means he was of the sect that followed the person from Nazareth."

I would be very interested to hear what evidence you have that Paul thought Jesus was from Nazareth. It is my opinion that Jesus became "of Nazareth" only when the gospels were written, at the very earliest in the 70s. I imagine you would agree that there is no evidence Paul was still alive in the 70s.

If you can provide any evidence that confirms that Jesus was from Nazareth before the gospels were written, please do so.

Can you provide some evidence that the Nazarenes were called as such because they thought Jesus was from Nazareth?

"I'm not interested in watching a YouTube video (especially when my wife is putting my youngest daughter to bed)."

If you're too busy to discuss this, that's fine by me.

Can you name a scholar that you don't have any issues with, so that I and everyone else who might be interested have some idea on what you do and don't believe?

I don't live in the United States, but in Australia, and I don't circulate in the rarefied air of Jewish historical academia. Perhaps you could tell me why James Tabor has fallen out of favor, and with whom, and why Hugh Schonfield, who devoted 60 years of his life to studying the life and times of Jesus, is not on the A list either.

Perhaps you could explain why you feel so vitriolic towards people because they have a different opinion to yours? You make it sound as though there is some sort of club amongst all these academics, and you gossip about each other behind each other's backs.

"I have yet to come across any legitimate evidence that there was any independent Jewish Nazarene sect. "

By "independent" I assume you are referring to it being separate from Christianity? Or from pharisaic Judaism? If you're referring to Christianity, I wonder when you would place Christianity as beginning? And where? And amongst whom?

Here is my opinion, about which I would value your comments. The term Christian can't really be applied to anyone who didn't believe in the divinity of Christ, right? I would say the earliest record we have of anyone talking about the divinity of Christ is the writings of St Paul...
The First Christian Author
Paul was the first known Christian author whose writings have survived. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ear..._writers). He had a burning need to tell anyone who would listen all about his theology, so he became a traveling evangelist. He probably wandered around half the Roman Empire for twenty years or so, preaching his version of religious truth. He wrote letters to many communities, some of which have survived. They’re very interesting, as we can read his authentic thoughts and emotions, and they’re the letters that would contain the first formula for the theology of Christianity.

We get real hints about the Nazarenes on reading Paul; much more so than by reading the Gospels, which were first written and edited many decades later, and by whom we’re not sure. The Gospels didn’t influence Paul, because Paul wrote first. (http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/jesus.html ). In fact, the reverse is true; Paul’s writings undoubtedly influenced the Gospel writers.

Paul was an imaginative theologian. He claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain. All devout Jews believed in the one and only Yahweh, a god who had no family; it was a central pillar of their theology. Various pagan cults, however, had gods who had families, for example the cult of Mithras, and the Roman imperial cult (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cu...nt_Rome)). I think Paul was trying to reinvent Judaism to make it more like these pagan cults.

Christians may be surprised to learn that it was Paul who first documented the idea that Yahweh had a son. (Rom.8;3, Gal. 4;4 and others.) Jews such as the Nazarenes sometimes referred to a pious man or a king being a “son of God,” but it was never meant in a literal sense.

Paul was also the first person ever to document that Christ had risen from the dead.

It was Paul’s unwavering commitment to these novel notions that seemed to spark his passion for evangelism.

Paul is traditionally credited with writing thirteen of the twenty-seven titles in the New Testament. All scholars admit that other parties who used Paul’s name to give them credibility wrote a number of “his” letters, and they were then attributed to Paul. This was a common practice of the time, and was, in fact, forgery. Many scholars claim only the following letters are genuine: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus probably aren’t genuine. Hebrews is universally recognized as not genuine. The doubtful letters, including Hebrews, are labeled as “deutero-Pauline.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_...epistles).

It’s thought he wrote his first surviving letter, to the Thessalonians, in 50–51 CE and his last enduring dispatch to an individual named Philemon, in 61–63 CE. Anonymous reporters penned the deutero-Pauline posts, probably in the early second century.

So it was "Paul's" communities who were the first Christians we have on record, ie the people he wrote to. I maintain that they were quite separate from the brothers and family and disciples and followers of Jesus, who were Nazarenes, and fundamentalist nationalistic Jews.

"Because it challenges the legitimacy of Christianity? Certainly you can see how one might feel this smacks of confirmation bias."

I'm interested in the truth. I want to know what happened. I've spent many years trying to find out, and yes, I've come to some conclusions about the fabricated nature of the dogma and the ugliness of belief. Does that make me biased? No. I haven't closed my mind off to learning more ,which is why I'm engaging you now. I'm willing to be proven wrong about some things if it helps all parties discover truth.

Now, you've labelled me as biased, and you've badmouthed most authorities that I've mentioned so far on this thread. You've spoken as though you have access to and knowledge of all the best authorities (which may be true,) yet in my opinion you haven't presented many good facts to back up your positions. That doesn't mean they don't exist (I have no real reason not to believe you) but if you keep resorting to the argument from authority without producing the pearls your credibility is going to wear thin.

I haven't made any assumptions that you are biased, even though you have admitted the (rather embarrassing) fact that you are a Mormon. I won't hold that against you. I will reserve judgement as to whether your "Christian" background is coloring your own scholarship until you tell us a little bit more about what you do and don't believe.
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29-06-2013, 12:18 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Please tell us more. I, for one, will be very interested to hear some of your conclusions.

Well, my master's thesis at Oxford focused on anti-anthropomorphism in LXX Exodus. You can read it here. My second one looks at biblical conceptualizations of deity from a cognitive perspective. One of my primary conclusions is that deity was attributed to anything that exercised divine agency, which was a communicable authority prototypically thought to reside in anthropomorphic heavenly warriors and patriarchs. Less prototypically, however, it could inhabit human authority figures and inanimate objects, rendering them deities. In some research I'm currently working on, I suggest this line of thought can account for the rise of Jesus as a divine figure within the Jewish worldview of inclusive monotheism. I find much more to commend in the "divine agency" approach to christology than in the "divine identiy" approach. Michael Peppard's recent book The Son of God in the Roman World is an excellent contribution to the former.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I would be very interested to hear what evidence you have that Paul thought Jesus was from Nazareth.

What Paul actually thought is inaccessible, but the book of Acts certainly makes that case (22:7; 26:9). The contexts in which the references to Nazareth are found in the gospels and in Acts are not found in the Pauline corpus, given he is writing to people who need no introduction to, or reference point for, Jesus.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It is my opinion that Jesus became "of Nazareth" only when the gospels were written, at the very earliest in the 70s. I imagine you would agree that there is no evidence Paul was still alive in the 70s.

What evidence can you produce that he was not "of Nazareth" prior to the 70s CE? The written gospels are post-70, but the oral traditions very obviously predate that.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If you can provide any evidence that confirms that Jesus was from Nazareth before the gospels were written, please do so.

The logical argument is clear enough. No empirical evidence exists, but no empirical evidence for much of any exists before the gospels were composed.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Can you provide some evidence that the Nazarenes were called as such because they thought Jesus was from Nazareth?

Well, Matt 2:23 states that he was from Nazareth, fulfilling the unknown prophecy stating he would be called a "Nazarene." That's pretty definitive. Other than that, I don't think you can point to any text prior to the third or fourth century that suggests any other understanding.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If you're too busy to discuss this, that's fine by me.

I don't like responding to YouTube videos. I went ahead and watched it anyway, and I'm not particularly impressed. First, he seems to be just regurgitating Salm's claims, which I've already addressed, but he's also making some quite problematic claims, like saying Stephen Pfann is not an archaeologist. Whatever one thinks of his scholarship, his training (MA, Graduate Theological Union; PhD, Hebrew University) and experience unquestionably qualify him as an archaeologist.

Can you name a scholar that you don't have any issues with, so that I and everyone else who might be interested have some idea on what you do and don't believe?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I don't live in the United States, but in Australia, and I don't circulate in the rarefied air of Jewish historical academia. Perhaps you could tell me why James Tabor has fallen out of favor, and with whom,

Since hooking up with Simcha Jacobovici on this fish ossuary project, he's lost the respect of just about everyone. There's a good roundup of reactions to his claims here.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  and why Hugh Schonfield, who devoted 60 years of his life to studying the life and times of Jesus, is not on the A list either.

How much time someone has dedicated to study means very little. Schonfield claimed to himself be a Nazarene and promulgated bizarre theories about Jesus that betrayed heavy bias toward promoting the notion of an early Jewish Nazarene sect. Of course, there's no evidence for any such sect, it's just a tradition that began centuries later.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Perhaps you could explain why you feel so vitriolic towards people

I don't feel vitriolic toward anyone, I just don't buy their claims and acknowledge some deep-rooted biases.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  because they have a different opinion to yours?

I'll thank you not to accuse me of criticizing scholars for no other reason than disagreeing with me. That's an incredibly insulting accusation in my profession, and in this case it is simply untrue.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  You make it sound as though there is some sort of club amongst all these academics, and you gossip about each other behind each other's backs.

No, but scholars regularly get together to discuss their ideas, and disagreement is a regular part of that.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  By "independent" I assume you are referring to it being separate from Christianity?

Correct.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Or from pharisaic Judaism? If you're referring to Christianity, I wonder when you would place Christianity as beginning? And where? And amongst whom?

The question of the parting of the ways" is a complicated one, and I've not committed myself to a particular position at this point.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Here is my opinion, about which I would value your comments. The term Christian can't really be applied to anyone who didn't believe in the divinity of Christ, right?

I don't agree. First, "Christian" just means a follower of Christ, and that devotion no doubt had different degrees of commitment back then. Second, it depends on what you mean by "divinity." If you mean "divinity" in the trinitarian sense of identity with God, then I would object, since that would mean there was no such thing as a Christian prior to around the third/fourth centuries CE. If you mean "divinity" in the sense of some kind of access to divine agency or some special relationship with God, then I would say that ideology is promoted in one form or another from the beginning to the end of the New Testament.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I would say the earliest record we have of anyone talking about the divinity of Christ is the writings of St Paul...
The First Christian Author
Paul was the first known Christian author whose writings have survived. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ear..._writers). He had a burning need to tell anyone who would listen all about his theology, so he became a traveling evangelist. He probably wandered around half the Roman Empire for twenty years or so, preaching his version of religious truth. He wrote letters to many communities, some of which have survived. They’re very interesting, as we can read his authentic thoughts and emotions, and they’re the letters that would contain the first formula for the theology of Christianity.

We get real hints about the Nazarenes on reading Paul;

But the word "Nazarene" appears nowhere in any Pauline text. On what non-circular grounds do you identify Nazarene ideology in his writings?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  much more so than by reading the Gospels, which were first written and edited many decades later, and by whom we’re not sure.

I wouldn't say "many decades" later. I would say around one decade later, although the oral traditions no doubt pre-dated their commitment to writing by at least that decade. Mark, for instance, is unquestionably a performance-based gospel.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Gospels didn’t influence Paul, because Paul wrote first.

The gospels in the form they exist now didn't influence Paul, but we don't know how early the original forms are.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  In fact, the reverse is true; Paul’s writings undoubtedly influenced the Gospel writers.

Undoubtedly? That's a degree of certainty few scholars would be comfortable with, particularly with Judaizers like Matthew, who would have roundly rejected Paul's innovations and departures from Judaism.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was an imaginative theologian. He claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain.

Actually the notion of a "son of God" who shared in his authority and divinity predates Paul and Jesus by a couple centuries.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  All devout Jews believed in the one and only Yahweh, a god who had no family; it was a central pillar of their theology.

This relies on rather conservative christologies. The notion of a "son of God" actually goes back all the way to the beginning of the Hebrew Bible. What to do with these divine offspring was a problem that every generation of Israelites and Jews dealt with in some way or another. I would recommend you check out the following publications:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ddLqKDa...&q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=TxZK1Le...&q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=4pqHwHI...&q&f=false

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Various pagan cults, however, had gods who had families, for example the cult of Mithras, and the Roman imperial cult (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cu...nt_Rome)). I think Paul was trying to reinvent Judaism to make it more like these pagan cults.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Christians may be surprised to learn that it was Paul who first documented the idea that Yahweh had a son. (Rom.8;3, Gal. 4;4 and others.)

That's not true at all. Gen 6:2, 4 and Deut 32:8-9 (4QDeut-j; LXX) are much, much earlier. For fun, notice that David is directly called "God" in Ps 45:6-7.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Jews such as the Nazarenes sometimes referred to a pious man or a king being a “son of God,” but it was never meant in a literal sense.

More conservative Christian notions that simply don't work. In addition to the Peppard book I recommended above, see Collins and Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was also the first person ever to document that Christ had risen from the dead.

His is the earliest extant text that does so, but that doesn't at all mean he was the first to do it. The fact that he just breezes through a summary of the Christian tradition, in fact, indicates it was a tradition that had been in circulation for some time. Whether or not Paul originated the tradition is unknown.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It was Paul’s unwavering commitment to these novel notions that seemed to spark his passion for evangelism.

Paul is traditionally credited with writing thirteen of the twenty-seven titles in the New Testament. All scholars admit that other parties who used Paul’s name to give them credibility wrote a number of “his” letters, and they were then attributed to Paul. This was a common practice of the time, and was, in fact, forgery.

From a modern legal point of view, but I wouldn't get taken in too much by Ehrman's recent book.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Many scholars claim only the following letters are genuine: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus probably aren’t genuine. Hebrews is universally recognized as not genuine. The doubtful letters, including Hebrews, are labeled as “deutero-Pauline.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_...epistles).

The letter of Hebrews never claims to be from Paul. Why would you call something a forgery that never claims to come from a specific person?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It’s thought he wrote his first surviving letter, to the Thessalonians, in 50–51 CE and his last enduring dispatch to an individual named Philemon, in 61–63 CE. Anonymous reporters penned the deutero-Pauline posts, probably in the early second century.

So it was "Paul's" communities who were the first Christians we have on record, ie the people he wrote to. I maintain that they were quite separate from the brothers and family and disciples and followers of Jesus, who were Nazarenes, and fundamentalist nationalistic Jews.

But you have evidence of this, you're just filling in the gaps with assumptions, tacitly insisting the internal logic or the thoroughness of the theory is somehow qualifies it as evidence of its own veracity.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm interested in the truth. I want to know what happened. I've spent many years trying to find out, and yes, I've come to some conclusions about the fabricated nature of the dogma and the ugliness of belief. Does that make me biased? No. I haven't closed my mind off to learning more ,which is why I'm engaging you now. I'm willing to be proven wrong about some things if it helps all parties discover truth.

Now, you've labelled me as biased, and you've badmouthed most authorities that I've mentioned so far on this thread. You've spoken as though you have access to and knowledge of all the best authorities (which may be true,) yet in my opinion you haven't presented many good facts to back up your positions.

And yet, I've yet to see you provide a direct and clear criticism of any of the facts or evidence I've presented. Rather, what you've done is (1) sidestepped them to provide your own explanation, evidently thinking that your position is so self-evident that my position will just wither without ever needing to be directly engaged, and (2) claimed you don't buy it. Can you provide any direct challenge to the consensus views, or can you only just assert that your view is better?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  That doesn't mean they don't exist (I have no real reason not to believe you) but if you keep resorting to the argument from authority without producing the pearls your credibility is going to wear thin.

You've been asking me to comment on the authority of this and that scholar and position. Please don't turn around and call my responses appeals to authority. I've provided the evidence and have explained in detail why each of your concerns is unfounded. The only time you've directly engaged any of that evidence was to say that you just don't buy it.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I haven't made any assumptions that you are biased, even though you have admitted the (rather embarrassing) fact that you are a Mormon.

I'm sorry you're embarrassed that I'm LDS. I'm certainly not, and if you're trying to suggest I am, I'll thank you not to tell me about my feelings. Obviously your claim to objectivity falls under question when you start telling me what I'm thinking.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I won't hold that against you. I will reserve judgement as to whether your "Christian" background is coloring your own scholarship until you tell us a little bit more about what you do and don't believe.

As I've told Ellis over and over again, you will never be able to demonstrate that a word of my scholarship is in any way colored by my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, the vast, vast majority of my scholarship directly contradicts the ideologies of the church. That alone should put the lie to any silly notion that my scholarship is biased, but you're welcome to go plumb the depths of my blog and try to prove me wrong. In the end, I am not impressed with these veiled and naive accusations of bias that are quite obviously based on nothing more than assumption and presupposition. I am hoping for better from you.

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29-06-2013, 04:31 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
I don't really want to wade through the whole thread but this line caught my eye.

Quote:3 - The argument from silence. This tendency plagues both atheists and believers. The lack of mention of any character or toponym from any historical source is not, in and of itself, evidence of anything. Writers and annals inexplicably omit things all the time. To Ellis I pointed out that fundamentalists argue for the traditional dating of Daniel on the grounds that, among other things, the text uses the legitimately Neo-Babylonian name Belshazzar despite that character's omission from Herodotus' history.

Yes. For whatever reason a historian may or may not mention something for a zillion reasons which seemed important to him at the time. So the lack of mention in a specific work by a specific author cannot be said to constitute evidence of much. When you get into the idea of NO author mentioning something in ANY work that is a much shakier proposition. But that is not really the point I want to make because history is not the only field involved.

When you get to archaeology then absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. If Nazareth existed as a "polis" there would be archaeological evidence of it. If it did not exist, there would be no such evidence. Where is the archaeological evidence for an early first century CE "Nazareth?" Fr. Bagatti came up with some oil lamps in tombs and it is doubtful that Jews would have lived in a cemetery and the fairly reputable xtian scholar, Steven Pfann came up with what amounted to a single family farm. That's it. One farm. No "polis." Frankly, with the significant city of Sepphoris a couple of miles away it is pretty clear that the local political entity would have been there and not any "Nazareth."

So, when you make claims about absence of evidence please restrict it to "history." In archaeology, if you claim a city is located somewhere you ought to be able to come up with evidence that such a city actually existed at the time you claim.
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29-06-2013, 06:35 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 12:18 PM)maklelan Wrote:  As I've told Ellis over and over again, you will never be able to demonstrate that a word of my scholarship is in any way colored by my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, the vast, vast majority of my scholarship directly contradicts the ideologies of the church. That alone should put the lie to any silly notion that my scholarship is biased, but you're welcome to go plumb the depths of my blog and try to prove me wrong.

How does your head not explode from the cognitive dissonance resulting from this?Consider

Seriously.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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29-06-2013, 06:38 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  I don't really want to wade through the whole thread but this line caught my eye.

Quote:3 - The argument from silence. This tendency plagues both atheists and believers. The lack of mention of any character or toponym from any historical source is not, in and of itself, evidence of anything. Writers and annals inexplicably omit things all the time. To Ellis I pointed out that fundamentalists argue for the traditional dating of Daniel on the grounds that, among other things, the text uses the legitimately Neo-Babylonian name Belshazzar despite that character's omission from Herodotus' history.

Yes. For whatever reason a historian may or may not mention something for a zillion reasons which seemed important to him at the time. So the lack of mention in a specific work by a specific author cannot be said to constitute evidence of much. When you get into the idea of NO author mentioning something in ANY work that is a much shakier proposition. But that is not really the point I want to make because history is not the only field involved.

When you get to archaeology then absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. If Nazareth existed as a "polis" there would be archaeological evidence of it. If it did not exist, there would be no such evidence. Where is the archaeological evidence for an early first century CE "Nazareth?" Fr. Bagatti came up with some oil lamps in tombs and it is doubtful that Jews would have lived in a cemetery and the fairly reputable xtian scholar, Steven Pfann came up with what amounted to a single family farm. That's it. One farm. No "polis." Frankly, with the significant city of Sepphoris a couple of miles away it is pretty clear that the local political entity would have been there and not any "Nazareth."

So, when you make claims about absence of evidence please restrict it to "history." In archaeology, if you claim a city is located somewhere you ought to be able to come up with evidence that such a city actually existed at the time you claim.

Well said!
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29-06-2013, 08:31 PM (This post was last modified: 29-06-2013 08:53 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 12:18 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Please tell us more. I, for one, will be very interested to hear some of your conclusions.

Well, my master's thesis at Oxford focused on anti-anthropomorphism in LXX Exodus. You can read it here. My second one looks at biblical conceptualizations of deity from a cognitive perspective. One of my primary conclusions is that deity was attributed to anything that exercised divine agency, which was a communicable authority prototypically thought to reside in anthropomorphic heavenly warriors and patriarchs. Less prototypically, however, it could inhabit human authority figures and inanimate objects, rendering them deities. In some research I'm currently working on, I suggest this line of thought can account for the rise of Jesus as a divine figure within the Jewish worldview of inclusive monotheism. I find much more to commend in the "divine agency" approach to christology than in the "divine identiy" approach. Michael Peppard's recent book The Son of God in the Roman World is an excellent contribution to the former.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I would be very interested to hear what evidence you have that Paul thought Jesus was from Nazareth.

What Paul actually thought is inaccessible, but the book of Acts certainly makes that case (22:7; 26:9). The contexts in which the references to Nazareth are found in the gospels and in Acts are not found in the Pauline corpus, given he is writing to people who need no introduction to, or reference point for, Jesus.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It is my opinion that Jesus became "of Nazareth" only when the gospels were written, at the very earliest in the 70s. I imagine you would agree that there is no evidence Paul was still alive in the 70s.

What evidence can you produce that he was not "of Nazareth" prior to the 70s CE? The written gospels are post-70, but the oral traditions very obviously predate that.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If you can provide any evidence that confirms that Jesus was from Nazareth before the gospels were written, please do so.

The logical argument is clear enough. No empirical evidence exists, but no empirical evidence for much of any exists before the gospels were composed.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Can you provide some evidence that the Nazarenes were called as such because they thought Jesus was from Nazareth?

Well, Matt 2:23 states that he was from Nazareth, fulfilling the unknown prophecy stating he would be called a "Nazarene." That's pretty definitive. Other than that, I don't think you can point to any text prior to the third or fourth century that suggests any other understanding.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If you're too busy to discuss this, that's fine by me.

I don't like responding to YouTube videos. I went ahead and watched it anyway, and I'm not particularly impressed. First, he seems to be just regurgitating Salm's claims, which I've already addressed, but he's also making some quite problematic claims, like saying Stephen Pfann is not an archaeologist. Whatever one thinks of his scholarship, his training (MA, Graduate Theological Union; PhD, Hebrew University) and experience unquestionably qualify him as an archaeologist.

Can you name a scholar that you don't have any issues with, so that I and everyone else who might be interested have some idea on what you do and don't believe?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I don't live in the United States, but in Australia, and I don't circulate in the rarefied air of Jewish historical academia. Perhaps you could tell me why James Tabor has fallen out of favor, and with whom,

Since hooking up with Simcha Jacobovici on this fish ossuary project, he's lost the respect of just about everyone. There's a good roundup of reactions to his claims here.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  and why Hugh Schonfield, who devoted 60 years of his life to studying the life and times of Jesus, is not on the A list either.

How much time someone has dedicated to study means very little. Schonfield claimed to himself be a Nazarene and promulgated bizarre theories about Jesus that betrayed heavy bias toward promoting the notion of an early Jewish Nazarene sect. Of course, there's no evidence for any such sect, it's just a tradition that began centuries later.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Perhaps you could explain why you feel so vitriolic towards people

I don't feel vitriolic toward anyone, I just don't buy their claims and acknowledge some deep-rooted biases.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  because they have a different opinion to yours?

I'll thank you not to accuse me of criticizing scholars for no other reason than disagreeing with me. That's an incredibly insulting accusation in my profession, and in this case it is simply untrue.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  You make it sound as though there is some sort of club amongst all these academics, and you gossip about each other behind each other's backs.

No, but scholars regularly get together to discuss their ideas, and disagreement is a regular part of that.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  By "independent" I assume you are referring to it being separate from Christianity?

Correct.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Or from pharisaic Judaism? If you're referring to Christianity, I wonder when you would place Christianity as beginning? And where? And amongst whom?

The question of the parting of the ways" is a complicated one, and I've not committed myself to a particular position at this point.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Here is my opinion, about which I would value your comments. The term Christian can't really be applied to anyone who didn't believe in the divinity of Christ, right?

I don't agree. First, "Christian" just means a follower of Christ, and that devotion no doubt had different degrees of commitment back then. Second, it depends on what you mean by "divinity." If you mean "divinity" in the trinitarian sense of identity with God, then I would object, since that would mean there was no such thing as a Christian prior to around the third/fourth centuries CE. If you mean "divinity" in the sense of some kind of access to divine agency or some special relationship with God, then I would say that ideology is promoted in one form or another from the beginning to the end of the New Testament.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I would say the earliest record we have of anyone talking about the divinity of Christ is the writings of St Paul...
The First Christian Author
Paul was the first known Christian author whose writings have survived. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ear..._writers). He had a burning need to tell anyone who would listen all about his theology, so he became a traveling evangelist. He probably wandered around half the Roman Empire for twenty years or so, preaching his version of religious truth. He wrote letters to many communities, some of which have survived. They’re very interesting, as we can read his authentic thoughts and emotions, and they’re the letters that would contain the first formula for the theology of Christianity.

We get real hints about the Nazarenes on reading Paul;

But the word "Nazarene" appears nowhere in any Pauline text. On what non-circular grounds do you identify Nazarene ideology in his writings?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  much more so than by reading the Gospels, which were first written and edited many decades later, and by whom we’re not sure.

I wouldn't say "many decades" later. I would say around one decade later, although the oral traditions no doubt pre-dated their commitment to writing by at least that decade. Mark, for instance, is unquestionably a performance-based gospel.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Gospels didn’t influence Paul, because Paul wrote first.

The gospels in the form they exist now didn't influence Paul, but we don't know how early the original forms are.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  In fact, the reverse is true; Paul’s writings undoubtedly influenced the Gospel writers.

Undoubtedly? That's a degree of certainty few scholars would be comfortable with, particularly with Judaizers like Matthew, who would have roundly rejected Paul's innovations and departures from Judaism.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was an imaginative theologian. He claimed his Christ was a god - a very novel, indeed blasphemous idea for a Jew to entertain.

Actually the notion of a "son of God" who shared in his authority and divinity predates Paul and Jesus by a couple centuries.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  All devout Jews believed in the one and only Yahweh, a god who had no family; it was a central pillar of their theology.

This relies on rather conservative christologies. The notion of a "son of God" actually goes back all the way to the beginning of the Hebrew Bible. What to do with these divine offspring was a problem that every generation of Israelites and Jews dealt with in some way or another. I would recommend you check out the following publications:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ddLqKDa...&q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=TxZK1Le...&q&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=4pqHwHI...&q&f=false

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Various pagan cults, however, had gods who had families, for example the cult of Mithras, and the Roman imperial cult (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_cu...nt_Rome)). I think Paul was trying to reinvent Judaism to make it more like these pagan cults.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Christians may be surprised to learn that it was Paul who first documented the idea that Yahweh had a son. (Rom.8;3, Gal. 4;4 and others.)

That's not true at all. Gen 6:2, 4 and Deut 32:8-9 (4QDeut-j; LXX) are much, much earlier. For fun, notice that David is directly called "God" in Ps 45:6-7.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Jews such as the Nazarenes sometimes referred to a pious man or a king being a “son of God,” but it was never meant in a literal sense.

More conservative Christian notions that simply don't work. In addition to the Peppard book I recommended above, see Collins and Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Paul was also the first person ever to document that Christ had risen from the dead.

His is the earliest extant text that does so, but that doesn't at all mean he was the first to do it. The fact that he just breezes through a summary of the Christian tradition, in fact, indicates it was a tradition that had been in circulation for some time. Whether or not Paul originated the tradition is unknown.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It was Paul’s unwavering commitment to these novel notions that seemed to spark his passion for evangelism.

Paul is traditionally credited with writing thirteen of the twenty-seven titles in the New Testament. All scholars admit that other parties who used Paul’s name to give them credibility wrote a number of “his” letters, and they were then attributed to Paul. This was a common practice of the time, and was, in fact, forgery.

From a modern legal point of view, but I wouldn't get taken in too much by Ehrman's recent book.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Many scholars claim only the following letters are genuine: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus probably aren’t genuine. Hebrews is universally recognized as not genuine. The doubtful letters, including Hebrews, are labeled as “deutero-Pauline.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_...epistles).

The letter of Hebrews never claims to be from Paul. Why would you call something a forgery that never claims to come from a specific person?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It’s thought he wrote his first surviving letter, to the Thessalonians, in 50–51 CE and his last enduring dispatch to an individual named Philemon, in 61–63 CE. Anonymous reporters penned the deutero-Pauline posts, probably in the early second century.

So it was "Paul's" communities who were the first Christians we have on record, ie the people he wrote to. I maintain that they were quite separate from the brothers and family and disciples and followers of Jesus, who were Nazarenes, and fundamentalist nationalistic Jews.

But you have evidence of this, you're just filling in the gaps with assumptions, tacitly insisting the internal logic or the thoroughness of the theory is somehow qualifies it as evidence of its own veracity.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I'm interested in the truth. I want to know what happened. I've spent many years trying to find out, and yes, I've come to some conclusions about the fabricated nature of the dogma and the ugliness of belief. Does that make me biased? No. I haven't closed my mind off to learning more ,which is why I'm engaging you now. I'm willing to be proven wrong about some things if it helps all parties discover truth.

Now, you've labelled me as biased, and you've badmouthed most authorities that I've mentioned so far on this thread. You've spoken as though you have access to and knowledge of all the best authorities (which may be true,) yet in my opinion you haven't presented many good facts to back up your positions.

And yet, I've yet to see you provide a direct and clear criticism of any of the facts or evidence I've presented. Rather, what you've done is (1) sidestepped them to provide your own explanation, evidently thinking that your position is so self-evident that my position will just wither without ever needing to be directly engaged, and (2) claimed you don't buy it. Can you provide any direct challenge to the consensus views, or can you only just assert that your view is better?

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  That doesn't mean they don't exist (I have no real reason not to believe you) but if you keep resorting to the argument from authority without producing the pearls your credibility is going to wear thin.

You've been asking me to comment on the authority of this and that scholar and position. Please don't turn around and call my responses appeals to authority. I've provided the evidence and have explained in detail why each of your concerns is unfounded. The only time you've directly engaged any of that evidence was to say that you just don't buy it.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I haven't made any assumptions that you are biased, even though you have admitted the (rather embarrassing) fact that you are a Mormon.

I'm sorry you're embarrassed that I'm LDS. I'm certainly not, and if you're trying to suggest I am, I'll thank you not to tell me about my feelings. Obviously your claim to objectivity falls under question when you start telling me what I'm thinking.

(29-06-2013 01:08 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I won't hold that against you. I will reserve judgement as to whether your "Christian" background is coloring your own scholarship until you tell us a little bit more about what you do and don't believe.

As I've told Ellis over and over again, you will never be able to demonstrate that a word of my scholarship is in any way colored by my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, the vast, vast majority of my scholarship directly contradicts the ideologies of the church. That alone should put the lie to any silly notion that my scholarship is biased, but you're welcome to go plumb the depths of my blog and try to prove me wrong. In the end, I am not impressed with these veiled and naive accusations of bias that are quite obviously based on nothing more than assumption and presupposition. I am hoping for better from you.

Hi Daniel, thank you for your reply.

I suggest we both cut out the ad hominems. It is boring for other people to read and our discussion can degenerate into a battle of egos, which is tiring for both of us.

I will try to stick to stick to a discussion of history.

Your thesis topics are interesting and relevant to some of the things we can discuss. I haven't read your thesis yet, but will get around to it.

I find it fascinating that you're studying the rise of Jesus as a Divine figure in the Jewish monotheistic world. The Jews today do not consider that Jesus was divine. I have always considered it highly unlikely that the original followers of Jesus, and in fact Jesus himself, the real person that is, thought he was in some sense divine. I would value your comments about this. I note that the book you recommend is talking about the concept of Divinity in the Roman world. I would say that this has little to do with what the historical Jesus, if he ever existed, would have thought. Was Jesus not a peasant Jewish farmer from the backwater of Gallilee, which was barely inhabited by Gentiles, particularly in rural areas? I can't imagine that Jesus was influenced by the philosophy of the Greek or Roman world. Can you?

You say that "what Paul thought is inaccessible." I think you must be referring to what Paul thought about Jesus' birth place, because we have realms of Paul's ramblings which are obviously a direct product of his thoughts. I strongly suspect, but can't prove, that they have been interpolated in places. It's generally accepted, I think, that the letters have been edited. I wonder do you not find it remarkable that Paul barely mentioned what the historical Jesus said or did?
Paul Knew Almost Nothing of Jesus
Most Christians assume Paul was restating Jesus’ teachings, but Paul never claimed he was inspired by Jesus or Jesus’ disciples. Paul held his message came from God and was about his Christ. It was not from Jesus.
Paul's Christ was someone different from the miracle-working preacher in the Gospels, the Jesus we think we know. Amazingly, in the twenty-first century, we know more about “Jesus” than Paul did!
Paul (or an interpolator) wrote,
“Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now” (2 Cor. 5:16, NJB.) He was only interested in the idea of a resurrected spirit, his Christ figurehead.
Someone passing himself off as Paul wrote that “Christ” was a mystery, one that he had a particularly good understanding of:
“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4, KJV,) and
“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Col. 4:3, KJV.)
Paul didn't give a fig tree about the life or teaching of a once living human Jesus. The only thing that mattered to him was that a Christ was crucified and resurrected. He rambled on and on about the supposed significance of Christ's death and resurrection, not his life.

Who then, was Paul’s Christ? It was someone who Paul thought had existed in heaven since the beginning of time, yet only revealed to the world via his interpretation of scripture. Douglas Lockhart (http://douglaslockhart.com/) and a number of other scholars (http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/BkrvEll.htm) think it could have been the “Teacher of Righteousness” written about in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are many theories as to who this character was, one of which is that he was an Essene leader, a priest, who lived perhaps a hundred years before Yeshua who had disapproved of the Hasmonean high priest. The community this teacher inspired may have been a sect that believed the teacher of righteousness would soon return from the dead. Lockhart also believes this sect may well have been the same sect Paul set out to persecute, yet ended up trying to join, and he may have spent some time in Arabia learning their teachings.

This explains Paul’s complete ignorance of the Jesus we think we know.

In the gentile world of the time there was competition from many dying and rising gods such as Mithras. Those gods often didn’t have a mortal life that was remembered, just like his Christ. It was only the myth of them dying and rising again that gave them significance, just like his Christ. Paul’s Christ was probably his own Judaic myth invented to compete with these other cults. The idea that Christ would one day be equated with Yeshua may not ever have been on Paul’s radar. (http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/parttwo.htm).

The authors and editors of the Gospels may have superimposed Paul’s “Christ” into the biographies of Jesus in the gospels. They might also have edited “Jesus” into Paul’s writings where he had written only “Christ.” Paul does say that Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate, yet this would have been an easy interpolation for a second century Christian to insert. I can’t prove this happened; yet I think it likely.
Most Christians I have talked to about this are perplexed, and with good reason, because Paul’s lack of commentary on Jesus undermines the account about Jesus being an inspiring, insightful individual that had so impressed his disciples, someone with amazing charisma who preached wise anecdotes. This is an image created by churchmen using the gospels. Paul knew none of this. Outside of scripture he only ever acknowledged one teacher of wisdom—himself. An authoritative Yeshua, even though recently deceased, would have focused the limelight on someone more significant than himself, and I don’t think he would have liked that.

Just who Paul’s Christ was is a difficult concept to grasp, and in my opinion it’s not worth the effort. It helps to remember that the sources of Paul’s ideas are obscure; that his writings have been tampered with; that original meaning is often lost in translations; that the Jesus stories we know so well only finished being cobbled together in the fourth century, and Paul had never read them; and that Paul had an overactive imagination and was just odd.

I would greatly value your expert comments on the above.

I hear what you say about James Tabor. I will look at what he's been saying about the fish ossary. I did read his book the "Jesus Dynasty" many times and was very influenced by it.

I'm interested that you say there is no evidence for an early sect of Jews known as the Nazarenes. Gosh, I've got multiple authors who talk about them. I'll have to go back and look at the evidence. I'll get back to you on that one.

I hope the following isn't an ad hominem. I've asked you for some evidence that Jesus was of Nazareth prior to the 70s, and you reply by asking me to produce evidence that he wasn't! This reminds me of William Lane Craig, who, if I remember correctly, provides evidence for Jesus's miracles in debates by asking his opponents to prove that the miracles didn't happen! I think the fact of the matter is that we have no evidence for "Jesus" until the gospels appear in the 70s. Whether Paul knew of an historical flesh and blood once living character called Jesus is debatable. Paul says almost nothing of the birth or life or sayings or miracles of a Jesus. He does talk about what a Jesus allegedly said and did at the Last Supper, although this could well be an interpolation and is absolutely obviously non historical. If Paul thought Jesus had been born in Nazareth surely he would have said so, and he doesn't. So I think my argument remains unrefuted; there is no evidence anyone one knew Jesus came from Nazareth until the gospels were written.

Just to make my position clearer, I'll say that I do believe there probably was once a living flesh and blood Jesus. It's possible that some of the events of his life are loosely incorporated in the Gospels, but I maintain that the Jesus we know so well didn't exist until the gospels were written.

I hear you about your definition of what constitutes a Christian. Obviously being a Christian means different things to different people. I would say that if someone is a Jew, they do not believe in the divinity, in any sense, of Christ, and are therefore not Christian. For example there are Jews and Islamists today who believe that Jesus was a wise teacher, but they wouldn't call themselves Christians.

I maintain the essential tenet of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus, which confirmed his divinity.

I think that the original family, followers and disciples of Jesus, if he ever existed, were never Christians according to my definition.

With respect to you, I find your statement that the communities Paul wrote to needed no introduction about Jesus, to be remarkable. How, do you think, people around the Roman empire in the 50s and 60s would have known of Jesus? There was no mass media. Most of them couldn't read or write, so Paul's letters would have been read out loud to them by whoever could. The gospels hadn't been written yet. There were no churches, other than the loose congregations that Paul tried to set up. "His" communities met in synagogues or in people's houses.

To my mind the obvious reality of the situation is that Paul knew almost nothing of the life, sayings or miracles of Jesus, and neither did the communities he wrote to. What mattered to Paul and them was his crucified and resurrected son of God Christ figure, who, at this stage, was not a flesh and blood once living historical character.

Thanks for filling me in about the Hebrews letter I hear it that the author never claims to be Paul. I didn't know that. The fact is that traditionally it's been accredited to Paul.

Re "The question of the parting of the ways" is a complicated one, and I've not committed myself to a particular position at this point."

I'll give you my opinion on this. There never was a parting of the ways. John the Baptist, Jesus, his family and his disciples were all Jews and were never Christians, other than in the sense of your definition of Christianity in that they believed Jesus was a wise teacher. Christianity was, in fact, an invention of the pagan or Gentile world, and the original Jews were fundamentally opposed to that world. Jesus, if he ever existed, was a fundamentalist Jew who tried to start a war with Rome and got crucified for his efforts. He was only one of many failed messsiahs. The Romans crucified Jesus twice; once in real life on a cross, and secondly by lying about his legacy. Christianity was invented by the Roman government to undermine the messianic expectations of Jews. The Romans had defeated the Jews militarily in the first Jewish War of 66 to 70 and the Flavian government created Christianity by writing the gospels to try to convince the Jews that their Messiah had already been and gone. They were trying to water-down militaristic Judaism and dilute it with Gentiles. This explains why Christianity became centred in Rome, not Jerusalem!

This post has gone on long enough. I will respond to other comments you've made in another post. Regards, Mark
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29-06-2013, 08:52 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
Here are some more links about the Nazarenes I got these from a very quick google search.

I'm sure these can whet anyone's appetite who is interested.

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prair...zarens.htm

http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html

http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/nazarane...nflict.htm

http://www.hope-of-israel.org/nazarene.htm

http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/nazarenes.html

http://historical-jesus.info/t58.html
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