Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

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GakuseiDon
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Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:57 am

This thread is inspired by Neil Godfrey's latest post on his excellent Vridar blog: Response #3: Non Sequitur’s Tim O’Neill presentation, The Ascension of Isaiah

I thought it might be worthwhile to get the background in order to see:
(1) what texts we actually have and what do they say, and
(2) what variant texts or fragments exist that might shed further light exists.

I want to concentrate on passages that suggest that Jesus came to earth, so I will ignore the history of the development of the texts, i.e. how there are different sections written over different times. The key passages appear to be in the "Vision of Isaiah" section.

As always, I will distinguish between "historical Jesus" and "earthly Jesus", since an earthly Jesus doesn't necessarily mean "historical Jesus".

I'd like to invite those knowledgeable on these texts to join in. If there is anything I get wrong, or anything I am missing out, please let me know. I'm hoping that this thread can be a resource for others to use whenever this topic comes up. If I am missing variant texts that (for example) leave out key sentences, or have passages that might be relevant, please let us know.

Information can be found in Charles' introduction to "The Ascension of Isaiah: translated from the Ethiopic version, which, together with the new Greek fragment, the Latin versions and the Latin translation of the Slavonic, is here published in full" by Charles, R. H. (Robert Henry), 1855-1931
https://archive.org/details/cu31924014590529/page/n11

This is how I understand the texts in question, both extant and not extant:

G --> G1 --> L1, E
G --> G2 --> L2, S {--> RCRT}

Where:
G: The source Greek text (not extant)
G1: Greek variant based on G (not extant except possibly for fragments)
G2: Greek variant based on G (parent of L2 and S)
L1: Latin fragment, not containing any of the key passages, so will be ignored (extant)
L2: Latin text containing the Vision of Isaiah (extant)
S: Slavonic text in Latin containing the Vision of Isaiah (extant)
E: Ethiopic text containing the complete Ascension of Isaiah that is the usual translation (which I originally thought was written in smudgy Greek(!), but was actually written in Ethiopic presumably from the Greek. That's the one on the ECW page. (extant)
RCRT: Dr Richard Carrier's reconstructed text, as per his book "On the Historicity of Jesus" (not extant)

E contains a "pocket gospel", where Jesus comes to earth and is born of the virgin Mary, etc.

Both L2 and S contain at 11:2 the phrase "Et uidi similem filii hominis, et cum hominibus habitare, et in mundo, et non cognouerunt eum", translated as "And I saw one like a son of man, dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him." This seems to indicate that Jesus was on earth. "Dwelling among men" suggests a period of time on earth, and that plus "they did not know him" suggests that this dwelling was more than just appearing as a vision to a few people.

Charles brackets the 11.2 passage, which according to his description of his keys indicates that "the words so enclosed in S L2 are found in G2, but not in G1. In certain cases the words peculiar either to G1 or G2 are derived from G."

Richard Carrier describes the phrase at 11.2 in the following way, on page 43:

This new version of 11.2 describes a kind of earthly sojourn, but in an absurdly brief fashion. This actually looks like a rewrite of the Jewish scrip­ture of Bar. 3.38, where God himself was 'seen on earth and conversed with men', which would sooner suggest a revelatory experience was going to be described. Hence it's notable how this Ascension text transforms Baruch: it does not have Jesus converse with men or seen by men, but has him only among men yet completely unknown to them. Ascension Isaiah 11.2 also rewrites Dan. 7.13, saying that what Isaiah saw was 'one like a son of man', the one who in Daniel appears among the clouds and will receive an eternal kingdom over the whole universe (Dan. 7.14).

Carrier goes on to explain that the gap in L2 and S between 11.2 and the following passage shows that something has been removed from the L2/S texts, for example the fulfilment of the prophecies leading up to the Jesus dying and then rising. In this, he is undoubtedly correct. The question is: what was there originally? Carrier gives his view on page 45:

It would appear the redactor who produced this version of the text was trying to erase an account of Satan's reaction, and likewise that of the warring angels of the air and the firmament. He has likewise removed the account of God's celestial voice summoning the stars, and what Jesus did in the year and a half (or whatever period) before he ascended and was recognized (as we were told to expect in 10.12-15). Also deleted is any mention of the men Jesus was supposed to bring with him (9.17; or in the Latin, his 'sending' of 'heralds' throughout the earth). Undeniably, a lot has been removed-probably because it could not be gelled with the historicizing account embraced by later Christians who were preserving this text. A Jesus who is killed by Satan in the sky and then only appears to men in revelations (as the citation of Bar. 3.38 implies was going to happen) had to be erased. One redactor just deleted it and tinkered a little with the then-adjoining verses (the text that appears in the Latin and the Slavonic), while another just replaced it with a more desirable and orthodox gospel (which is the text that appears everywhere else).

Carrier goes on to write more on his reasons for why he thinks his reconstruction is plausible, which is interesting but too lengthy to put here. He does believe his reconstructed redacted version "where Jesus never dwells on earth" can be seen in other texts used by early Christians (page 322):

But just as the Ascension of Isaiah was doc­tored by inserting a standard historicist gospel narrative in the middle of it, we can presume the Gospel that Ignatius, Irenaeus and Justin were using had similarly been modified to tack-in the details involving Pontius Pilate, Herod the Tetrarch, and John the Baptist and other such elements. But like the Ascension of Isaiah, this clearly did not completely hide the fact that the original narrative was in accord with the earlier redaction of the Ascension of Isaiah, in which Jesus never dwells on earth, but is born and dies secretly in heaven, and then reveals himself after his resurrection, as a brilliant light surpassing all.

So in the three extant texts that we have -- E, S and L2 -- we have Jesus coming to earth. In E, it has Jesus being born to Mary, etc. In S and L2, we see Jesus "dwelling among men." It is only in Carrier's reconstructed version that Jesus never dwells on earth and is crucified in the air.

(There is also the question of "in your form" appearing in L2 and S and its implications for an earthly sojourn, but I won't cover that here at this time.)

Are there any variant texts that I have left out, or scholarly studies that might help to shed light on L2 or S, from an earthly/celestial Jesus perspective?
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by andrewcriddle » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:20 am

One issue you maybe should cover is the claim by Norelli that the Latin version of AoI used by the Cathars contained a nativity scene.
See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2492 and
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=750 (very long and rambling thread)

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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:58 am

andrewcriddle wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:20 am
One issue you maybe should cover is the claim by Norelli that the Latin version of AoI used by the Cathars contained a nativity scene.
The Book of Revelation put the nativity scene in heaven.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:05 pm

GDon
Both L2 and S contain at 11:2 the phrase "Et uidi similem filii hominis, et cum hominibus habitare, et in mundo, et non cognouerunt eum", translated as "And I saw one like a son of man, dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him." This seems to indicate that Jesus was on earth. "Dwelling among men" suggests a period of time on earth, and that plus "they did not know him" suggests that this dwelling was more than just appearing as a vision to a few people.
surely also the Risen Christ appeared to men like Peter and James and Paul "dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him", to mean that only during hallucinations he could be seen, and only by Christian apostles, not even by mere brothers of the Lord. So these passages can't be interpreted as references to the earthly life of Jesus before the death on the tree.

EDIT: or the spiritual Jesus was appeared invisibly on the earth before the his celestial death, only to inform in advance the apostles (and only them) that he would be crucified in the lower heavens after some day from that moment.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:21 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:57 am
< . . . snip . . . >
Both L2 and S contain at 11:2 the phrase "Et uidi similem filii hominis, et cum hominibus habitare, et in mundo, et non cognouerunt eum", translated as "And I saw one like a son of man, dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him." This seems to indicate that Jesus was on earth. "Dwelling among men" suggests a period of time on earth, and that plus "they did not know him" suggests that this dwelling was more than just appearing as a vision to a few people.

< . . . snip . . . >

So in the three extant texts that we have -- E, S and L2 -- we have Jesus coming to earth. In E, it has Jesus being born to Mary, etc. In S and L2, we see Jesus "dwelling among men." It is only in Carrier's reconstructed version that Jesus never dwells on earth and is crucified in the air.

I don't think one can look at one verse without looking at the tenor of all of the text, regardless of versions of it. In those days angels were men and sometimes a man-angel was Lord or LORD -

.
The Ascension of Isaiah
CHAPTER 3
< . . . snip . . . >
14. And the twelve who were with Him should be offended because of Him: and the watch of those who watched the sepulchre:

15. And the descent of the angel of the Christian Church, which is in the heavens, whom He will summon in the last days.

16. And that (Gabriel) the angel of the Holy Spirit, and Michael, the chief of the holy angels, on the third day will open the sepulchre:

17. And the Beloved sitting on their shoulders will come forth and send out His twelve disciples;

18. And they will teach all the nations and every tongue of the resurrection of the Beloved, and those who believe in His cross will be saved, and in His ascension into the seventh heaven whence He came:

19. And that many who believe in Him will speak through the Holy Spirit ...


CHAPTER 4

1. AND now Hezekiah and Josab my son, these are the days of the completion of the world.

2. After it is consummated, Beliar the great ruler, the king of this world, will descend, who hath ruled it since it came into being; yea, he will descent from his firmament in the likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of his mother: who himself (even) this king.

3. Will persecute the plant which the Twelve Apostles of the Beloved have planted. Of the Twelve one will be delivered into his hands.

4. This ruler in the form of that king will come and there will come and there will come with him all the powers of this world, and they will hearken unto him in all that he desires ..


CHAPTER 7
< . . . snip . . . >
9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.

10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... nsion.html

eta -

Chapter VI

And after these things, the angel said to me, 'Know, Isaiah, son of Amos, this is why I was sent by God to show you all things. For no one before you has seen nor can anyone after you see what you have seen and heard.'

And I saw one like the Son of Man dwelling with men and in the world. And they did not recognize Him. And I saw Him ascending into the firmament and He was not transfigured into [their] form. And all the angels who were above the firmament were struck with fear at the sight and, adoring, they said, 'How didst Thou descend into our midst, Lord, and we did not recognize the King of Glory?'

And He ascended into the first heaven more gloriously and did not transfigure Himself. Then all the angels adored and sang, saying, 'How didst Thou pass through our midst, Lord, and we did not see or adore Thee?'

Thus He ascended into the second heaven and into the third and into the fourth and into the fifth and into the sixth, even to all the heavens, and His glories increased. When He ascended into the seventh heaven, all the righteous sang to him, and all the angels and virtues whom I could not see.

I saw a wonderful angel sit at His left hand, who said to me: 'This suffices you, Isaiah, for you have seen what no other son of the flesh has seen, which eyes cannot see nor ears hear, nor can it rise in the heart of man, how much God has prepared for all who love Him.'

And he said to me, 'Return in your robe until the time of your days shall be fulfilled and then you shall come here.'"

Having seen these things, Isaiah spoke to those standing about him; and, hearing these wonders, all sang and glorified the Lord, who gave such grace to men.

And he said to Hezekiah the king, "The consummation of this world and works will be fulfilled in the last generations." And he forbade them to proclaim these words to the children of Israel or to give them to any man to be recorded. But how many things will be understood by the king and by the utterances in the prophets! And thus be you also in the Holy Spirit, so that you may receive your robes and thrones and crowns of glory placed in the heavens.

He ceased then to speak and went out from King Hezekiah.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110514062 ... Isaiah.htm


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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:16 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:57 am
Carrier goes on to explain that the gap in L2 and S between 11.2 and the following passage shows that something has been removed from the L2/S texts, for example the fulfilment of the prophecies leading up to the Jesus dying and then rising. In this, he is undoubtedly correct.
Given that "dwelling with men" is obviously meant to state that the Beloved was residing or living among men (cum hominibus habitare), at least for a time (you are correct about this), and given that the Ethiopic inserts the "pocket gospel" at this same point, what do you think was removed from this spot?

ETA: I ask because I think the notion of an aerial crucifixion/execution in the Ascension of Isaiah is nonsense, so much so that debating the point is absolute boredom to me: like arguing against a flat earth theory or the miasma model of disease transmission. But there is another possibility that I am considering. Long ago, Peter Kirby wrote about a possible crucifixion/execution in the abyss or the nether realm, and the idea has not left my consciousness since that time. He was not thinking of the Ascension of Isaiah when he floated the notion, but it forced me to notice that in 10.8 the beloved is told to "go forth and descend through all the heavens" to the firmament and "that world" and then to the angel in Sheol. Here the earth ("that world") comes across as no more than just another point along the path, no more or less likely to host the crucifixion than the heavens or the firmament are. Could this be a relic from an earlier version in which the Beloved was in fact executed in Sheol? Romans 10.6-7 also names locales associated with Jesus as heaven and the abyss; the earth is not mentioned. Could that be a relic of the same story? Such a story would certainly repay our attention to another myth that Carrier adduces: the descent of Inana/Ishtar, in which the goddess is slain in the nether realm. Not to mention that there are also parallels between Jesus/Yahweh on the one side and the story of Ba'al and Môt on the other.
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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:46 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:20 am
One issue you maybe should cover is the claim by Norelli that the Latin version of AoI used by the Cathars contained a nativity scene.
See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2492 and
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=750 (very long and rambling thread)
Thanks Andrew. I mulled over putting Norelli into the mix of how to get to the extant texts L2, S and E, but decided against it since I was looking to how Dr Carrier was reconstructing the text as per Tim O'Neill's comments that Neil Godfrey was addressing. Neil's comments seemed a bit confused, especially when talking about "original" texts. But certainly those threads you refer to are pertinent to any discussion on the AoI generally.

Which means the title to my thread is misleading! It would perhaps be more accurately called "Ultimate AoI thread on Carrier's claims regarding any version of AoI on whether Jesus came to earth or not", or something along those lines.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by John2 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:21 pm

Ben wrote:
... in 10.8 the beloved is told to "go forth and descend through all the heavens" to the firmament and "that world" and then to the angel in Sheol. Here the earth ("that world") comes across as no more than just another point along the path, no more or less likely to host the crucifixion than the heavens or the firmament are. Could this be a relic from an earlier version in which the Beloved was in fact executed in Sheol? Romans 10.6-7 also names locales associated with Jesus as heaven and the abyss; the earth is not mentioned.
I'm thinking that the Abyss, Hell, Sheol, etc. (i.e., the place of the dead) is a part of the earth. As Jesus puts it in Mt. 12:40:
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Last edited by John2 on Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 4:23 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:05 pm
surely also the Risen Christ appeared to men like Peter and James and Paul "dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him", to mean that only during hallucinations he could be seen, and only by Christian apostles, not even by mere brothers of the Lord. So these passages can't be interpreted as references to the earthly life of Jesus before the death on the tree.
Dr Carrier does propose something along those lines, as I quote him in my OP. But as Tim O'Neill notes, Carrier appears to brush this off. Why it being a rewrite of Baruch invalidates the earthliness of the setting defies logic, though it is consistent with Carrier's confusion between "earthly therefore historical".

And then, despite L2 and S stating that Jesus dwelled on earth, Carrier writes "the earlier redaction of the Ascension of Isaiah, in which Jesus never dwells on earth, but is born and dies secretly in heaven". I'll go into a bit more on this in my response to Ben's point.
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Re: Ultimate Ascension of Isaiah thread

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:17 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:16 pm
GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:57 am
Carrier goes on to explain that the gap in L2 and S between 11.2 and the following passage shows that something has been removed from the L2/S texts, for example the fulfilment of the prophecies leading up to the Jesus dying and then rising. In this, he is undoubtedly correct.
Given that "dwelling with men" is obviously meant to state that the Beloved was residing or living among men (cum hominibus habitare), at least for a time (you are correct about this), and given that the Ethiopic inserts the "pocket gospel" at this same point, what do you think was removed from this spot?
I agree with Carrier, in that we can get an idea of what is missing from what was expected in the earlier text. From 9.13 to 16 of L2 and S, there is:
1. The Beloved descending until being made in human form
2. Satan stretching forth his hand and the Beloved being crucified on a tree, with not knowing who the Beloved is.
3. The Beloved descending and plundering the angel of death, and then rising after three days[/list]

In 11, there is: "And I saw one like a son of man, dwelling among men, and in the world, and they did not know him."

Based on what is in 9, then, what is probably missing in 11 would be the Beloved, after dwelling among men for a while, being crucified on a tree through the instigation of Satan, then descending to the angel of death and rising after three days, and then ascending possibly to earth for a bit before continuing upwards.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:16 pm
ETA: I ask because I think the notion of an aerial crucifixion/execution in the Ascension of Isaiah is nonsense, so much so that debating the point is absolute boredom to me: like arguing against a flat earth theory or the miasma model of disease transmission.
True. There have been a lot of threads on the topic here, and they all end up with the same conclusion. Carrier keeps the idea alive, and people repeat it uncritically. The problem, as Tim O'Neill pointed out, is that only more knowledgeable readers can appreciate the problems. Carrier appears over-confident in the strength of his analysis. Some examples from Carrier's OHJ:

The Ascension of Isaiah is another example of this: we can tell the origi­nal redaction had Jesus die in outer space (it therefore was composed by a Christian sect who clearly adopted what I am calling minimal mythicism)... (page 351)

Likewise that Jesus had a 'body' to sacrifice, from which could pour 'blood', is exactly what minimal mythicism entails: he assumed a body of flesh in the sub lunar firmament so that it could be killed, then returned to the upper heavens from whence he came. Exactly as the Ascension of Isaiah describes Jesus did, and just like what many believed happened to Osiris (Elements 14 and 31). (page 544)

Jesus would have been buried in a grave or tomb somewhere above the clouds, just as Adam was (Element 38). He would likewise have been abused and crucified there, by Satan and his sky demons (Element 37), just as the earliest discernible redaction of the Ascension of Isaiah imagined. (page 563)

... since as we saw in the Philippians gospel (in §4), in order to die Jesus had to be clothed in a human body, which the Ascension of Isaiah originally placed in outer space. (page 570)

:facepalm:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:16 pm
But there is another possibility that I am considering. Long ago, Peter Kirby wrote about a possible crucifixion/execution in the abyss or the nether realm, and the idea has not left my consciousness since that time. He was not thinking of the Ascension of Isaiah when he floated the notion, but it forced me to notice that in 10.8 the beloved is told to "go forth and descend through all the heavens" to the firmament and "that world" and then to the angel in Sheol. Here the earth ("that world") comes across as no more than just another point along the path, no more or less likely to host the crucifixion than the heavens or the firmament are. Could this be a relic from an earlier version in which the Beloved was in fact executed in Sheol? Romans 10.6-7 also names locales associated with Jesus as heaven and the abyss; the earth is not mentioned. Could that be a relic of the same story? Such a story would certainly repay our attention to another myth that Carrier adduces: the descent of Inana/Ishtar, in which the goddess is slain in the nether realm. Not to mention that there are also parallels between Jesus/Yahweh on the one side and the story of Ba'al and Môt on the other.
It's a possibility, and Carrier is right in that the Inanna myth would demonstrate a similar pattern. So it is at least consistent with ancient beliefs.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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