The Origins of Christian Philosophy
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02-05-2014, 03:45 AM
The Origins of Christian Philosophy
In line with my very view that the NT is but a fiction woven around some figures around the time of the Jewish revolt, it occurred to me that the religious philosophy called Christianity was already in existence and it must be somewhere...written down. I had an idea that the early Christians such as the Armenians, probably did not even have copies of the New Testament and must therefore have relied on other texts.

My search led me to a document called the Didache which contains a set of moral precepts which are clearly similar to Christianity and, no doubt, where the character in the NT called "Jesus" got his ideas from.

I am quoting the Didache in full below:

The Didache - The Complete Text




1 There Are Two Ways 1:1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two ways.

1:2 The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.

1:3 The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies.

1:4 Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, don't ask for it back. You really cannot.

1:5 Give to every one who asks you, and don't ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny.

1:6 However, concerning this, there is a saying: "Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them."


2 The Second Commandment

2:1 The second commandment of the teaching is this:

2:2 Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys; do not have illicit sex; do not steal; do not practice magic; do not practice witchcraft; you shall not murder a child, whether it be born or unborn. Do not covet the things of your neighbor.

2:3 Do not swear or bear false witness. Do not speak evil of others; do not bear grudges.

2:4 You should not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double-tongue is a deadly snare.

2:5 Your speech should not be false nor empty, but fulfilled by action.

2:6 Do not be covetous, or greedy, or hypocritical, or malicious, or arrogant. Do not have designs against your neighbor.

2:7 Hate no one; correct some, pray for others, and some you should love more than your own life.


3 My Child, Flee Evil

3:1 My child, flee evil of all kinds, and everything like it.

3:2 Don't be prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Don't be jealous or quarrelsome or hot-tempered, for all these things lead to murder.

3:3 My child, don't be lustful, for lust leads to illicit sex. Don't be a filthy talker or allow your eyes a free reign, for these lead to adultery.

3:4 My child, don't observe omens, since it leads to idolatry. Don't be an enchanter, or an astrologer, or a purifier, or be willing to see or hear about these things, for these all lead to idolatry.

3:5 My child, don't be a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Don't love money or seek glory, for these things lead to thievery.

3:6 My child, don't grumble, since it leads to blasphemy, and don't be self-willed or evil-minded, for all these things lead to blasphemy.

3:7 On the contrary, be gentle, since the gentle will inherit the earth.

3:8 Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good, and with trembling, treasure the words you have received.

3:9 Don't exalt yourself or open your heart to overconfidence. Don't be on intimate terms with mighty people, but with just and lowly ones.

3:10 Accept whatever happens to you as a blessing, knowing that nothing comes to pass apart from God.


4 My Child, Remember

[4:1 My child, remember day and night him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord. For wherever his lordship is spoken of, there he is.]

4:2 Seek each day the faces of the saints, in order that you may be refreshed by their words.

4:3 Do not initiate divisions, but rather bring peace to those who contend against one another. Judge righteously, and do not take social status into account when reproving for transgressions.

4:4 Do not waver in your decisions.

4:5 Do not be one who opens his hands to receive, or closes them when it is time to give.

4:6 If you have anything, by your hands you should give ransom for your sins.

4:7 Do not hesitate to give, and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good Rewarder.

4:8 Do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish!

4:9 Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; teach them the fear of God from their youth.

4:10 Do not give orders to your servants when you are angry, for they hope in the same God, and they may lose the fear of God, who is over both of you. God is surely not coming to call on us according to our outward appearance or station in life, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared.

4:11 And you, servants, be subject to your masters as to God's image, in modesty and fear.

4:12 You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord.

4:13 Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything.

4:14 In your gatherings, confess your transgressions, and do not come for prayer with a guilty conscience.

This is the way of life!


5 The Way of Death

5:1 The way of death, on the other hand, is this: It is evil and accursed—murders, adulteries, lust, illicit sex, thefts, idolatries, magical arts, sorceries, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisy,double-heartedness,deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness—those who do not fear God.

5:2 The way of death is the way of those who persecute the good, hate the truth, love lies, and do not understand the reward for righteousness. They do not cleave to good or righteous judgment; they do not watch for what is good, but for what is evil. They are strangers to meekness and patience, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, without pity for the needy and oppressed. They do not know their Creator; they are murderers of children, destroyers of God's image. They turn away from those who are in need, making matters worse for those who are distressed. They are advocates for the rich, unjust judges of the poor. In a word, the way of death is full of those who are steeped in sin. Be delivered, children, from all of this!


6 See That No One Leads You Astray

6:1 See that no one leads you astray from the way of this teaching, since all other teachings train you without God.

6:2 For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able, then at least do what you can.

6:3 Concerning food, do what you are able to do and be on guard against meat offered to idols, for that is to worship dead gods.


7 Concerning Baptism

7:1 Concerning baptism, you should baptize this way: After first explaining all things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in flowing water.

7:2 But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, then in warm.

7:3 If you have very little, pour water three times on the head in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

7:4 Before the baptism, both the baptizer and the candidate for baptism, plus any others who can, should fast. The candidate should fast for one or two days beforehand.


8 Your Fasts and prayers

8:1 Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

8:2 And do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in the gospel: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us enough bread day-by-day. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

8:3 Pray this three times each day.


9 Concerning the Eucharist

9:1 Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way.

9:2 First, concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever.

9:3 Next, concerning the broken bread: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever.

9:4 Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. To you is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.

9:5 Allow no one to eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For concerning this, the Lord has said, "Do not give what is holy to dogs."


10 After the Eucharist

10:1 After the Eucharist when you are filled, give thanks this way:

10:2 We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name which you enshrined in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality that you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever.

10:3 You, Master Almighty, have created all things for your name's sake. You gave food and drink to all people for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to you; but to us you freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Jesus, your servant.

10:4 Before all things we thank you because you are mighty. To you be the glory forever.

10:5 Remember, Lord, your church. Deliver it from all evil and make it perfect in your love, and gather it from the four winds sanctified for your kingdom which you have prepared for it. For Yours is the power and the glory forever.

10:6 Let grace come, and let this world pass away!

Hosanna to the Son of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen.

[10:7 But permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire.]


11 Welcome the Teacher

11:1 Welcome the teacher when he comes to instruct you in all that has been said.

11:2 But if he turns and trains you in another tradition to the destruction of this teaching, do not listen. If he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.

11:3 Act according to the precepts of the gospel concerning all apostles and prophets:

11:4 Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord.

11:5 But he must not remain more than one day, or two, if there's a need. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet.

11:6 And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread to last him until his next night of lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.

11:7 In addition, if any prophet speaks in the Spirit, you shall not try or judge him; for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin cannot be forgiven.

11:8 But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; only he is a prophet who has the ways of the Lord about him. By their ways will the false prophet and the prophet be known.

11:9 Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet.

11:10 And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet.

11:11 When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. The ancient prophets acted in this way, also.

11:12 But whoever says in the Spirit, "Give me money,"or something else like this, you must not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.


12 Welcome Anyone Coming in the Name of the Lord

12:1 Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.

12:2 If he who comes is a transient, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be.

12:3 If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living.

12:4 But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst.

12:5 If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler. Watch that you keep away from such people.


13 Every Genuine prophet

13:1 Every genuine prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of support.

13:2 So also, every true teacher is, like a workman, entitled to his support.

13:3 Every first fruit, therefore, of the products of vintage and harvest, of cattle and of sheep, should be given as first fruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests.

13:4 But if you have no prophet, give it all to the poor.

13:5 If you bake bread, take the first loaf and give it according to the commandment.

13:6 If you open a new jar of wine or of oil, take the first fruit and give it to the prophets.

13:7 If you acquire money or cloth or any other possession, set aside a portion first, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.


14 On the Lord's Day

14:1 On the Lord's day, gather yourselves together and break bread, give thanks, but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure.

14:2 However, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned.

14:3 For this is what the Lord has said: "For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the of hosts. . . . For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name is reverenced among the nations."


15 Appoint Bishops for Yourselves

15:1 Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.

15:2 Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.

15:3 And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the gospel. But to anyone who acts amiss against another, let no one speak to him, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the gospel of our Lord.


16 Watch Over Your Life

16:1 Watch over your life, that your lamps are never quenched, and that your loins are never unloosed. Be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

16:2 Come together often, seeking the things that are good for your souls. A life of faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect at the end of time.

16:3 For in the last days false prophets and corrupters will be plenty, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate.

16:4 When lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another, and then the world-deceiver will appear claiming to be the Son of God, and he will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will do iniquitous things that have not been seen since the beginning of the world.

16:5 Then humankind will enter into the fire of trial, and many will be made to stumble and many will perish; but those who endure in their faith will be saved from under the curse itself.

16:6 And then the signs of the truth will appear: the first sign, an opening of the heavens; the second sign, the sounding of the trumpet; and the third sign, the resurrection of the dead—

16:7 not of every one, but as it is said: "Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him."

16:8 Finally, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven' with power and great glory."
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02-05-2014, 01:59 PM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
Unless I am mistaken, the Didache is commonly thought to be written somewhere around 50AD - 150AD. Are you proposing that the writers of the Christian texts adopted those ideas and incorporated them into their narrative of Jesus?
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03-05-2014, 10:49 AM (This post was last modified: 03-05-2014 10:55 AM by Deltabravo.)
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(02-05-2014 01:59 PM)djhall Wrote:  Unless I am mistaken, the Didache is commonly thought to be written somewhere around 50AD - 150AD. Are you proposing that the writers of the Christian texts adopted those ideas and incorporated them into their narrative of Jesus?



That is what I understand, that it is a first century AD writing. Which would seem to make it unlikely that the NT was the source of the Didache.

One theory is that the core principles of Christianity, ie., the beatitudes are from Gnosticism. There was a Rabbi called Eleazar Ben Azariah and his teaching seem very close to this. He was, I think, form Galilee and was a Nazarite.

My own view, which is changing daily it seems, is that the Didache is the formulation of a set of principles based on the application of logic and reason to Judaism. When I read the Didache, it seems to be an attempt to come up with moral principles which have rational reasons, rather than being based on a "dictat" from a scary, hairy thunderer in the sky. The Didiache, perhaps, represents the "dictates of reason", rather than of an all powerful god who forces people to adopt unreasonable beliefs in the hope of reward. If that makes sense.

I think Christianity of the NT can be read on a number of different levels. One can take the stories which are plainly ridiculous out of the religion and you are left with a "logos" which suggests we behave in a moral way. If one can't cope with the idea that one can have a morality without an "enforcer", then one can adopt the scare stories and promises of eternal life and lead a good life because of that. If one were a pagan and was looking for a "messiah", then the NT has that as well. It is different things to different people which may explain its success.

The thing is, why was Jesus baptized, and into what religion? Even if one says that it is fiction and that John the Baptist says it is he who should be baptized by Jesus, there is a religion which is extant at the time into which people are being baptized, and it has to be the same religion as that which Jesus was preaching, or one would presume he would have had a big argument with John the Baptist. To me, this is a story of someone being converted to an existing religion and the fact that it is then spread throughout the middle east and adopted by Coptics, Armenians, Egyptians when the NT was unlikely to have been printed and distributed, suggests to me that there was such a religion with these precepts and along comes someone who fits the bill of a Messiah, but that he is converted to the religion, rather than him being the originator of it.
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03-05-2014, 04:57 PM (This post was last modified: 03-05-2014 05:02 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(03-05-2014 10:49 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  
(02-05-2014 01:59 PM)djhall Wrote:  Unless I am mistaken, the Didache is commonly thought to be written somewhere around 50AD - 150AD. Are you proposing that the writers of the Christian texts adopted those ideas and incorporated them into their narrative of Jesus?



That is what I understand, that it is a first century AD writing. Which would seem to make it unlikely that the NT was the source of the Didache.

One theory is that the core principles of Christianity, ie., the beatitudes are from Gnosticism. There was a Rabbi called Eleazar Ben Azariah and his teaching seem very close to this. He was, I think, form Galilee and was a Nazarite.

My own view, which is changing daily it seems, is that the Didache is the formulation of a set of principles based on the application of logic and reason to Judaism. When I read the Didache, it seems to be an attempt to come up with moral principles which have rational reasons, rather than being based on a "dictat" from a scary, hairy thunderer in the sky. The Didiache, perhaps, represents the "dictates of reason", rather than of an all powerful god who forces people to adopt unreasonable beliefs in the hope of reward. If that makes sense.

I think Christianity of the NT can be read on a number of different levels. One can take the stories which are plainly ridiculous out of the religion and you are left with a "logos" which suggests we behave in a moral way. If one can't cope with the idea that one can have a morality without an "enforcer", then one can adopt the scare stories and promises of eternal life and lead a good life because of that. If one were a pagan and was looking for a "messiah", then the NT has that as well. It is different things to different people which may explain its success.

The thing is, why was Jesus baptized, and into what religion? Even if one says that it is fiction and that John the Baptist says it is he who should be baptized by Jesus, there is a religion which is extant at the time into which people are being baptized, and it has to be the same religion as that which Jesus was preaching, or one would presume he would have had a big argument with John the Baptist. To me, this is a story of someone being converted to an existing religion and the fact that it is then spread throughout the middle east and adopted by Coptics, Armenians, Egyptians when the NT was unlikely to have been printed and distributed, suggests to me that there was such a religion with these precepts and along comes someone who fits the bill of a Messiah, but that he is converted to the religion, rather than him being the originator of it.

First point. We don't know whether it was written before or after the Gospels. The fact that it mentions Jesus at all strongly suggests to me that it was written after the gospels.

Why was Jesus baptised? Well, if he ever existed, he was baptised into Nazarenism, which was a version of Essenism. He was never a Christian.
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03-05-2014, 05:08 PM (This post was last modified: 03-05-2014 05:42 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
There never was a "religious philosophy of Christianity". There never was "orthodoxy". It (they) was/were an ever evolving, multifaceted sets of disparate groups. Actually learning History from real historians and having your work criticized and peer-reviewed, instead of just making up things that pop into one's head, leads to less grievous errors. Which "Jewish revolt" are you talking about ? The beliefs of members of the "Way" (subsect) of Judism flow seamlessly from Jewish Apocalypticism. They didn't need to "get" it from anywhere. As late as the end of the First Century they were still Jews. Which is why the Jewish High Priest required the Expulsion Curses to be read in all the synagogues. The fad in Rabbinic Judaism was trying to cut down the numerous requirements of the "law" and simplify things, which is why "love god and love your neighbor" fit s erfectly with what we know was already going on. They needed nothing "external" to evolve into what became Christianity.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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03-05-2014, 05:10 PM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(03-05-2014 10:49 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  That is what I understand, that it is a first century AD writing. Which would seem to make it unlikely that the NT was the source of the Didache.
Unfortunately, that seem to leave the option that the Didache AND the NT were inspired by the teachings of Jesus. That is much less damaging to inspiration by Jesus than if the Didache had preceded Jesus.
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05-05-2014, 11:22 AM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(03-05-2014 05:10 PM)djhall Wrote:  
(03-05-2014 10:49 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  That is what I understand, that it is a first century AD writing. Which would seem to make it unlikely that the NT was the source of the Didache.
Unfortunately, that seem to leave the option that the Didache AND the NT were inspired by the teachings of Jesus. That is much less damaging to inspiration by Jesus than if the Didache had preceded Jesus.


The story of Jesus is essentially irrelevant for a number of reasons. Any moral philosophy has to stand on its own. It is not moral "because" someone else says it is, and that person's background doesn't make it a better moral philosophy. Even assuming there was some person on whom the Jesus story is based, it makes no difference to the ethical/moral philosophy that he followed this religion.

The question is: did this philosophy pre-date Christianity and what is it?

There are a number of ways of looking at this. The NT itself says that Jesus was born into a religion which had Magis. That means he was likely to have been Persian. Then it says he was converted in Galilee, which means he was likely converted to the Nazarite sect of Eleazar ben Azariah. That sect followed a religion which was very similar to the Didache.

The NT also talks of the "word" or "logos". This suggests Gnosticism and a belief that ethics are a matter of reason and logic. If you look at the Didache, it is very much a work of "logic". For instance, it suggests that one loves ones enemy because then one would not have any enemies. That is just plain common sense. Eleazar took the Old Testament and tried to interpret it logically.

I am of the view that the NT is written by someone who was a secularist and did not believe in an anthropomorphized God. For me, that explains why the resurrection story is such an inconsistent and ridiculous mess. If the person who wrote it was a believer in the power of "reason", then he would have wanted to make the narrative as fanciful as possible to give others the "heads up", not to accept what a religion says because this particular man tells you to or was resurrected or actually the son of god. If the writers of the NT had actually intended people to believe the resurrection story they would have taken greater care to make the stories correspond. The fact that they differ in crucial aspects and are contradictory shows someone is playing games with it. It's a challenge, and it contains within it the seeds of its own destruction as a religion which is based on morality as handed down by an "infallible" deity, because this diety can't even get his facts straight. So, it leaves you, where the writers of it intended, trying to figure out what the "logos" tells us about how we should behave, not a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin.
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05-05-2014, 12:37 PM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(03-05-2014 05:08 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There never was a "religious philosophy of Christianity". There never was "orthodoxy". It (they) was/were an ever evolving, multifaceted sets of disparate groups. Actually learning History from real historians and having your work criticized and peer-reviewed, instead of just making up things that pop into one's head, leads to less grievous errors. Which "Jewish revolt" are you talking about ? The beliefs of members of the "Way" (subsect) of Judism flow seamlessly from Jewish Apocalypticism. They didn't need to "get" it from anywhere. As late as the end of the First Century they were still Jews. Which is why the Jewish High Priest required the Expulsion Curses to be read in all the synagogues. The fad in Rabbinic Judaism was trying to cut down the numerous requirements of the "law" and simplify things, which is why "love god and love your neighbor" fit s erfectly with what we know was already going on. They needed nothing "external" to evolve into what became Christianity.

Well, first of all, I did "learn" history from historians at university and I did study Greek and Roman political theory as well as religion.
I am talking about the revolt referred to by Suetonius in his discussion of Vespasian, in which he refers to a revolt in about 67 AD which he and Titus were dispatched to deal with.

I don't think it is as easy as just saying, "it's in Judaism". I apologize if I don't have as good a grasp of Judaism as you do, I have never studied it and would not know where to start. Frankly, it is a complete mystery to me. What I have read, mainly on Wiki, is about the Nazarites and Eleazar B. Azariah. This appears to be a sect with distinct moral ideas and differs from mainstream Judaism of the day. I also have not paid much attention to Gnosticism or religion at all, recently, as I am an atheist, after all. I am not trying to suggest that Christianity evolved out of something other than Judaism, but I would like to understand what strand of Judaism it is, whether it is close to what Eleazar was teaching, and what influenced him. I don't have access to a good library here so I am relying on wiki, the Jewish Encyclopedia, on line edition, and various web sites which I find on google.

I am not trying to be clever or push some conspiracy theory. I find it interesting and feel there is more to this than meets the eye, and that it is very important in a number of ways, in the particular political/religious climate we are in, these days.
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05-05-2014, 08:10 PM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(05-05-2014 11:22 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  
(03-05-2014 05:10 PM)djhall Wrote:  Unfortunately, that seem to leave the option that the Didache AND the NT were inspired by the teachings of Jesus. That is much less damaging to inspiration by Jesus than if the Didache had preceded Jesus.


The story of Jesus is essentially irrelevant for a number of reasons. Any moral philosophy has to stand on its own. It is not moral "because" someone else says it is, and that person's background doesn't make it a better moral philosophy. Even assuming there was some person on whom the Jesus story is based, it makes no difference to the ethical/moral philosophy that he followed this religion.

The question is: did this philosophy pre-date Christianity and what is it?

There are a number of ways of looking at this. The NT itself says that Jesus was born into a religion which had Magis. That means he was likely to have been Persian. Then it says he was converted in Galilee, which means he was likely converted to the Nazarite sect of Eleazar ben Azariah. That sect followed a religion which was very similar to the Didache.

The NT also talks of the "word" or "logos". This suggests Gnosticism and a belief that ethics are a matter of reason and logic. If you look at the Didache, it is very much a work of "logic". For instance, it suggests that one loves ones enemy because then one would not have any enemies. That is just plain common sense. Eleazar took the Old Testament and tried to interpret it logically.

I am of the view that the NT is written by someone who was a secularist and did not believe in an anthropomorphized God. For me, that explains why the resurrection story is such an inconsistent and ridiculous mess. If the person who wrote it was a believer in the power of "reason", then he would have wanted to make the narrative as fanciful as possible to give others the "heads up", not to accept what a religion says because this particular man tells you to or was resurrected or actually the son of god. If the writers of the NT had actually intended people to believe the resurrection story they would have taken greater care to make the stories correspond. The fact that they differ in crucial aspects and are contradictory shows someone is playing games with it. It's a challenge, and it contains within it the seeds of its own destruction as a religion which is based on morality as handed down by an "infallible" deity, because this diety can't even get his facts straight. So, it leaves you, where the writers of it intended, trying to figure out what the "logos" tells us about how we should behave, not a hairy thunderer or a cosmic muffin.

"I am of the view that the NT is written by someone who was a secularist"

Woa there big fella.

No one person wrote the NT. Even Jeremy knows that.
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05-05-2014, 08:17 PM
RE: The Origins of Christian Philosophy
(05-05-2014 12:37 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  
(03-05-2014 05:08 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There never was a "religious philosophy of Christianity". There never was "orthodoxy". It (they) was/were an ever evolving, multifaceted sets of disparate groups. Actually learning History from real historians and having your work criticized and peer-reviewed, instead of just making up things that pop into one's head, leads to less grievous errors. Which "Jewish revolt" are you talking about ? The beliefs of members of the "Way" (subsect) of Judism flow seamlessly from Jewish Apocalypticism. They didn't need to "get" it from anywhere. As late as the end of the First Century they were still Jews. Which is why the Jewish High Priest required the Expulsion Curses to be read in all the synagogues. The fad in Rabbinic Judaism was trying to cut down the numerous requirements of the "law" and simplify things, which is why "love god and love your neighbor" fit s erfectly with what we know was already going on. They needed nothing "external" to evolve into what became Christianity.

Well, first of all, I did "learn" history from historians at university and I did study Greek and Roman political theory as well as religion.
I am talking about the revolt referred to by Suetonius in his discussion of Vespasian, in which he refers to a revolt in about 67 AD which he and Titus were dispatched to deal with.

I don't think it is as easy as just saying, "it's in Judaism". I apologize if I don't have as good a grasp of Judaism as you do, I have never studied it and would not know where to start. Frankly, it is a complete mystery to me. What I have read, mainly on Wiki, is about the Nazarites and Eleazar B. Azariah. This appears to be a sect with distinct moral ideas and differs from mainstream Judaism of the day. I also have not paid much attention to Gnosticism or religion at all, recently, as I am an atheist, after all. I am not trying to suggest that Christianity evolved out of something other than Judaism, but I would like to understand what strand of Judaism it is, whether it is close to what Eleazar was teaching, and what influenced him. I don't have access to a good library here so I am relying on wiki, the Jewish Encyclopedia, on line edition, and various web sites which I find on google.

I am not trying to be clever or push some conspiracy theory. I find it interesting and feel there is more to this than meets the eye, and that it is very important in a number of ways, in the particular political/religious climate we are in, these days.

"This appears to be a sect with distinct moral ideas and differs from mainstream Judaism of the day."

No. If you read that on wiki the article is incorrect.

The Nazarenes
Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the Bible: Acts referred to
“Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6, 4:10, 2:22, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB.) Most modern Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed (Matt. 2:23Wink but Nazareth the place was not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being of Nazareth, the words “of Nazareth” should actually read “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm). As mentioned, Nazareth the village probably didn’t exist in Yeshua’s time. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY ). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The Bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, not a place, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.
“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB.)
Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE.

Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” ( http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm ).
John the baptist, Yeshua’s family, disciples and followers were all Nazarenes.

The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They weren’t Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn't approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God's chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

They were devoted to the Temple as the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

Yeshua became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the Son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins ( http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm ). They believed that Yeshua was a (human) prophet who they hoped could be Israel’s messiah.

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes or wrote them off as heretics. I think the modern reader interested in Jesus should pay attention to their story.
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