Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
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29-06-2013, 09:13 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
Hi Daniel, re "son of God"

Here is someone's idea that backs up mine about this...

http://www.haqq.com.au/~salam/earlychris...ongod.html

Thanks for the references to the three books, but in the real world, I'm not going to read them ( No disrespect, or cursory dismissal of your ideas intended.)

Can we cut through all the floss and get to the guts of the issue? Did the ancient Jews believe Yahweh had a son i.e. did they think that there was an entity separate to Yahweh but equal and related to him? I would say no, but am happy to be corrected.

Did Paul think that Christ was literally God's son? I am less sure about this but I think the answer is yes. I will be very interested to hear your opinion.

Would the ancient Jews have been seriously pissed off by someone suggesting that their one and only God had a son? I think the answer is yes, and I suspect this is one of the reasons Paul had so many fights with Jews all around the Empire. It was blasphemy, and Jews believed that if one of their own was blaspheming against God their whole community would be punished.
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29-06-2013, 10:22 PM (This post was last modified: 29-06-2013 11:10 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
Hi Daniel, I've just reread your post. I'm particularly interested in what you say here...

"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."

I guess I could download the dude's book, but, others reading here might be interested in hearing your opinion as to whether Paul actually thought his Christ was the son of God. Paul, or someone writing in his name, did, after all, write

Romans 8:3
King James Version (KJV)
"3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"

Galatians 4
King James Version (KJV)
"4 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,"

Doesn't this suggest that Jesus became the son of God long before the fourth century? I think that it means that there are at least some Christians (those who were heavily into believing Paul) who thought Jesus was divine.

Then, of course, there were the Marcionites and other docetists in the second, third and fourth centuries. They were just as "Christian" as anyone else at that time, and in fact outnumbered the Catholics. They believed that Christ was 100% spirit, (so was , in a sense, a god) sent by an unknown, but benevolent God. It was only in the later fourth century when Catholics became truly powerful that these other groups were suppressed and the Catholics, who wrote the history, labelled them as heretics.

Obviously you are referring to the whole Arian controversy story, and I agree with you that it was only after the council of Nicaea that the line that Jesus was equal to God became the official dogma (at least for a while.)
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30-06-2013, 07:52 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 06:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(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.

The same way your head doesn't explode from being full of poop. Tongue

I'm ambivalent (surprise!) about this. On the one hand, I believe you should give him the benefit of the doubt until you can provide an example of his faith interfering with his scholarship. On the other hand, everything about me has an element of I love my Gwynnies!

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30-06-2013, 08:09 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(30-06-2013 07:52 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(29-06-2013 06:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  How does your head not explode from the cognitive dissonance resulting from this?Consider

Seriously.

The same way your head doesn't explode from being full of poop. Tongue

I'm ambivalent (surprise!) about this. On the one hand, I believe you should give him the benefit of the doubt until you can provide an example of his faith interfering with his scholarship. On the other hand, everything about me has an element of I love my Gwynnies!

It is the dissonance between rigorous scholarship and ridiculous beliefs that is the issue, Mr. Poopypants. Angry

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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30-06-2013, 08:29 AM
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.

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.

Not necessarily. Such a situation can be "evidence of absence" if a number of other conditions can be met, but it can also still be just as fallacious.

(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  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.

Again, not necessarily. It depends on the specific nature of the evidence sought and circumstances on the ground. Any number of scenarios can combine to produce fruitless excavations. This is why we refer to the "accident of preservation," rather than the "law of preservation."

(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  If Nazareth existed as a "polis" there would be archaeological evidence of it.

Not necessarily, but at least in this case, there's plenty of it. There are also conspiracy theorists trying to move dates around and pretend that a certain size threshold must be met in order for their mythicism to be undermined.

(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  If it did not exist, there would be no such evidence. Where is the archaeological evidence for an early first century CE "Nazareth?"

It has been repeatedly shared and linked to on this thread.

(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  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."

I suggest you go back and read the articles to which I linked. You've understated the case quite a bit.

(29-06-2013 04:31 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  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.

It's certainly helpful if you can, but not being able to is not necessarily conclusive. Archaeology is not an exact science. It depends upon interpretation and theory just as much as history. By the way, could you describe your formal training in archaeology for me?

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30-06-2013, 08:34 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(30-06-2013 08:09 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(30-06-2013 07:52 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  The same way your head doesn't explode from being full of poop. Tongue

I'm ambivalent (surprise!) about this. On the one hand, I believe you should give him the benefit of the doubt until you can provide an example of his faith interfering with his scholarship. On the other hand, everything about me has an element of I love my Gwynnies!

It is the dissonance between rigorous scholarship and ridiculous beliefs that is the issue, Mr. Poopypants. Angry

I think it's called compartmentalization, Mr. Droopydrawers. Angry

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30-06-2013, 08:58 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(30-06-2013 08:34 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(30-06-2013 08:09 AM)Chas Wrote:  It is the dissonance between rigorous scholarship and ridiculous beliefs that is the issue, Mr. Poopypants. Angry

I think it's called compartmentalization, Mr. Droopydrawers. Angry


It's not sanity, Mr. Poopface. No

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30-06-2013, 09:06 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

There's no real way to know exactly what he would have thought, but it discusses Mark's christology, and Mark's gospel was the earliest. Additionally, the book digs into Greco-Roman period Judaism and Christianity's development within that context.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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?

I do not find it remarkable. The genre and rhetorical goals of his letters make it unremarkable. He is writing paraenesis for communities of believers who already know the details of the historical narrative. His goal is to exhort them to certain behaviors based on the ethical dynamics of the gospel. There is no reason to expect him to be repeating the narrative to them.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

And the Christ of each gospel is different from the Christs of the other gospels. Paul was also writing an entirely different genre and was a much different person.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

And those scholars are laughably wrong. There's absolutely nothing to commend the notion that the Qumran "Teacher of Righteousness" was Jesus. The two figures are irreconcilably distinct according to their two corpora. Please read that article to which I linked you on parallelomania.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

You're confusing "not mentioning" with "not knowing about" again.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Frazer's old notion of a "dying and rising god" hasn't had currency in the scholarship since before J. Z. Smith's Drudgery Divine, and for good reason. Mark Smith's book The Origins of Biblical Monotheism also has a chapter discussing the numerous problems with that category of deity.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

The fact that such a thing is possible is certainly not evidence that any such thing ever happened. You're stacking assumption upon assumption on top of each other and then trying to point to the height of the argument as evidence of its likelihood.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Again, an argument from silence.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

Fourth century? What is your evidence for that?

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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!

Yes. Your theory is based on the notion that Nazareth didn't exist before then, and that that relationship was just concocted out of thin air once there actually was a Nazareth there. Correct? Given that the evidence quite securely extends Nazareth's existence back to the first century BCE, on what do you now base this notion that Jesus wasn't "of Nazareth" until after 70 CE? If you want to make an assertion, you have to be able to back it up. It's not like the first person to make a claim gets to have his claim be the default position unless someone else can prove him wrong. You're making the claim that Jesus wasn't "of Nazareth" until after 70 CE, so the burden of proof rests squarely with you. So far all I can see is that you believe Paul to be the only person writing before 70 CE, and he doesn't mention Nazareth. That's another incredibly weak argument from silence that ignores the genre of the Pauline corpus, so you need to have something else up your sleeve.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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!

Which is basically what you're doing to me. He is making a claim and then demanding his opponents prove him wrong. You're making a claim and demanding I prove you wrong. The one making the claim has the onus of proof.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

No, it's not. You only feel it's debatable because your assumptions have concocted this non-Jesus version of Christ that you've read into Paul. That's not evidence of anything.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

So you reject the evidence that proves you wrong on the grounds that it (1) might be wrong, and (2) even though it would prove you wrong, it obviously never happened (and so doesn't count?). The fact that it is a tradition that is probably not historical has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Paul knew of it, and the possibility that it was interpolated is in no way evidence that it was interpolated.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  If Paul thought Jesus had been born in Nazareth surely he would have said so,

More evidence based on a priori assumption. There is no reason to insist Paul could not have known about it if he didn't say it.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

I think you've got to work on your methodologies. Your arguments are constructed entirely upon assumptions and argument by assertion.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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?

You are aware, aren't you, that Paul was writing to communities he had personally preached to? Additionally, it is widely held that the gospels existed in oral form for years prior to being written down (in competition with the gnostic texts). There are many ways they could have known of Jesus.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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.

That's not quite my definition of Christianity. I believe Buddha was a wise teacher, but that neither makes me a follower of Buddha nor a Buddhist.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Christianity was, in fact, an invention of the pagan or Gentile world, and the original Jews were fundamentally opposed to that world.

"In fact"? What are the facts that indicate this?

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Jesus, if he ever existed, was a fundamentalist Jew

A fundamentalist Jew would not be out there trying to change Jewish law into something it had never been.

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  who tried to start a war with Rome and got crucified for his efforts.

What? Where are you getting this?

(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  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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30-06-2013, 09:14 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(29-06-2013 06:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  How does your head not explode from the cognitive dissonance resulting from this?Consider

Advil

(29-06-2013 06:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  Seriously.

Oh. Then, seriously, there's no cognitive dissonance. I have no problem acknowledging that my faith tradition is built largely upon myth. This isn't what I'm here to talk about, though.

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30-06-2013, 09:18 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(30-06-2013 09:06 AM)maklelan Wrote:  
(29-06-2013 08:31 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  who tried to start a war with Rome and got crucified for his efforts.

What? Where are you getting this?

I'll let Mark handle the rest of the response, but are you trying to claim that Jesus was not Crucified for trying to start an armed rebellion? Then why was he crucified, a punishment reserved for insurrectionists. Had he been executed for disturbing the temple as is claimed in the bible he would have been stoned as was the custom in Judah.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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