Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Peter Kirby
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:02 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:Okay. I'll be interested on where you take this.
As far as I know, all the cards are on the table. We could spend a lot of time putting together dots and amassing references, but I don't consider any part of the hypothesis that I've suggested here to be obscure. It's ready for action--ready to be considered alongside other ideas to compare and contrast.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Michael BG » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:37 pm

When talking about comparing the ideas in Paul’s letters and the Ascension of Isaiah are any assumptions being made about dates? I think I read that Peter Kirby believes that Paul wrote his letters over a long period continuing to a few years after 70 CE. Wasn’t the Ascension of Isaiah written by Christians living after the death of Paul? Or are you saying that underneath chapters 6-11 there is a Jewish belief in the seven heavens which Paul is likely to share?
GakuseiDon wrote: Carrier has also floated the idea that Jesus might have been killed in a mythical setting on earth, though this is more an aside than a theory. Carrier writes on page 563 of OHJ:
  • The original 'revealed' death and burial could have been imagined as occurring on earth and still be (from our perspective) mythical, if, e.g., the passion sequence was 'revealed' to have occurred somewhere like the Garden of Eden, a place no one knew the actual location of and thus where no ordinary witnesses could have been available (of course, the earliest Christians thought even the Garden of Eden was in outer space: 2 Cor. 12.2-4; see Element 38)
Is this typical of the way Carrier presents evidence?
The Garden of Eden is not in 2 Cor 12:2-4:

“[2] I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
[3] And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows --
[4] and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”
(I have an impression there might be some doubts about “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” should be in both verses.)

In verse 3 the Greek word is παραδεισον or paradeisos, which Strong’s Concordance states comes from “an ancient Persian word meaning ‘enclosure, garden (or) park’.” Therefore I think it is wrong of Carrier to say Paul thought that the Garden of Eden was in “outer space” (Carrier’s term for heaven). Or have I missed something?

Also if 2 Cor 12:2-4 was written by Paul, then he believes in at least three levels of heaven, but he may only have believed in three – the heaven of the birds, the heaven of the stars etc., and the heaven of God and angelic beings, (including Wisdom/Christ).

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun Sep 13, 2015 5:54 pm

Michael BG wrote:
GakuseiDon wrote: Carrier has also floated the idea that Jesus might have been killed in a mythical setting on earth, though this is more an aside than a theory. Carrier writes on page 563 of OHJ:
  • The original 'revealed' death and burial could have been imagined as occurring on earth and still be (from our perspective) mythical, if, e.g., the passion sequence was 'revealed' to have occurred somewhere like the Garden of Eden, a place no one knew the actual location of and thus where no ordinary witnesses could have been available (of course, the earliest Christians thought even the Garden of Eden was in outer space: 2 Cor. 12.2-4; see Element 38)
Is this typical of the way Carrier presents evidence?
No. But then, Carrier was just offering it as an example of a mythicist alternative to "sublunar crucifixion". It's more of an aside than something supporting his main mythicist theory. He doesn't take it any further.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:11 pm

Michael BG wrote:The Garden of Eden is not in 2 Cor 12:2-4:

“[2] I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
[3] And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise -- whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows --
[4] and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”
(I have an impression there might be some doubts about “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” should be in both verses.)

In verse 3 the Greek word is παραδεισον or paradeisos, which Strong’s Concordance states comes from “an ancient Persian word meaning ‘enclosure, garden (or) park’.” Therefore I think it is wrong of Carrier to say Paul thought that the Garden of Eden was in “outer space” (Carrier’s term for heaven). Or have I missed something?


Paradise became a way to refer to Eden. This is what the Jewish Encyclopedia says about paradise (underlining mine):


The word "paradise" is probably of Persian origin. It occurs but three times in the Old Testament, namely, in Cant. iv. 13, Eccl. ii. 5, and Neh. ii. 8. In the first of these passages it means "garden"; in the second and third, "park." In the apocalypses and in the Talmud the word is used of the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype (comp. references in Weber's "Jüdische Theologie," 2d ed., 1897, pp. 344 et seq.). From this usage it came to denote, as in the New Testament, the abode of the blessed (comp. Luke xxiii. 43; II Cor. xii. 4; Rev. ii. 7).


And this is from the entry on the garden of Eden (underlining mine again):


The Talmudists and Cabalists agree that there are two gardens of Eden: one, the terrestrial, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation; the other, celestial, the habitation of righteous, immortal souls. These two are known as the "lower" and "higher" Gan Eden. The location of the earthly Eden is traced by its boundaries as described in Genesis.

In 'Erubin 19a (comp. Rabbinovicz, "Variæ Lectiones," ad loc.) Resh Laḳish expresses himself to the following effect: "If the paradise is situated in Palestine, Beth-Shean [in Galilee] is the door; if in Arabia, then Bet Gerim is the door; and if between the rivers, Damascus is the door." In another part of the Talmud (Tamid 32b) the interior of Africa is pointed out as the location of Eden, and no less a personage than Alexander the Great is supposed to have found the entrance of Gan Eden in those regions which are inhabited and governed exclusively by women. Alexander, who desired to invade Africa, was directed to Gan Eden by the advice of the "elders of the South."


Ben.

ETA: Also, both the LXX (παράδεισος) and the Vulgate (paradisus) use the word "paradise" of the garden in Genesis 2-3.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:31 pm

Michael BG wrote:When talking about comparing the ideas in Paul’s letters and the Ascension of Isaiah are any assumptions being made about dates? I think I read that Peter Kirby believes that Paul wrote his letters over a long period continuing to a few years after 70 CE. Wasn’t the Ascension of Isaiah written by Christians living after the death of Paul? Or are you saying that underneath chapters 6-11 there is a Jewish belief in the seven heavens which Paul is likely to share?
Assumptions appear to be made about dates... in the paragraph above. ;)

What evidence is there to put a date on the Ascension of Isaiah? (And, specifically, the 'Vision of Isaiah' part.)

Regarding the Ascension of Isaiah and its date, do you have evidence, a hypothesis, or a belief?

I would prefer to speak about evidence and hypothesis, not belief. I did express some ideas about Paul in another thread in this forum, but I did so in the form of a hypothesis to explain certain oddities, not as a belief. If you have a hypothesis, it is related to certain data and evidence and is proposed as a competing explanation of them.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Michael BG » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:12 am

Thank you GakuseiDon for your reply.

@ Ben C. Smith

Timescales are important but if the Greek version of the Apocalypse of Moses used the word “Paradise” for the earthy “Garden of Eden” then I accept that when Paul used the term he may be referring to a heavenly Garden of Eden.
Peter Kirby wrote: Assumptions appear to be made about dates... in the paragraph above. ;)

What evidence is there to put a date on the Ascension of Isaiah? (And, specifically, the 'Vision of Isaiah' part.)

Regarding the Ascension of Isaiah and its date, do you have evidence, a hypothesis, or a belief?

I would prefer to speak about evidence and hypothesis, not belief. I did express some ideas about Paul in another thread in this forum, but I did so in the form of a hypothesis to explain certain oddities, not as a belief. If you have a hypothesis, it is related to certain data and evidence and is proposed as a competing explanation of them.
I find it strange that when I ask those comparing Paul and the Ascension of Isaiah about their dating of them, stead of answering my question they ask me what date I would put on the Ascension of Isaiah.

I am sorry Peter if there is an expectation that exact terms are used like “hypothesis” rather than the more vague term “belief”. I am sorry if you interpreted the word “believes” as if I meant you believed in the same a fundamentalist believes in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. I was using as in “I believe it is not going to rain soon”, when leaving the house without an umbrella.

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by John2 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:32 am

Ben wrote:

"I am still very much more in favor of a venue on earth, perhaps even in Israel/Judea, but without much more specification than that at first, since the first advent was supposed to be a secret, hidden both from spiritual powers and from humanity."

I'm assuming you are referring to statements like, "No, we declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began" (1 Cor. 2:7); and
"This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed" (1 Cor. 4:1); and "my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past" (Rom. 16:25).

This is the central core of Christianity in my view, that the "gospel" about Jesus at least (whether he existed as a human being or not) was originally a secret hidden in the OT. And I don't think we can ever know what Jesus was "really" like at the time other than this, though my default assumption is that he was a first century CE religious Jew of some sort.

And going by this assumption, I think he could have been similar to the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, given the other parallels that exist between the DSS and Christian writings, such as messianism, anti-Pharisaism, the creation of beatitudes and the use of similar messianic proof texts, the practice of a new covenant in a place called Damascus, hostility towards the rich, a faction that was pro-law and one that was anti-law, and being called "the way."

And we can add to this basic list the idea that the "gospel" about Jesus was a secret that was hidden in the OT and revealed to "those entrusted with the mysteries of God," like the DSS sect kept their doctrines secret from outsiders:

"These are their ways in the world ... faithful concealment of the mysteries of God" (1QS col. 4).

"And the Interpreter shall not conceal from them [those who have passed initiation into the sect], out of fear of the spirit of apostasy, any of those things hidden from Israel which have been discovered by him (1QS col. 8).

"He shall conceal the teaching of the Law from men of falsehood, but shall impart true knowledge and righteous judgment to those who have chosen the Way" (1QS col. 9).

"[T]his concerns the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysteries of the words of His servants the Prophets" (1QpHab col. 7).

"[Interpreted, this concerns] those who were unfaithful together with the Liar, in that they [did] not [listen to the word received by] the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God ... [in whose heart] God set [understanding] that he might interpret all the words of His servants the Prophets" (1QpHab col. 2).

Here we have the actual writings of this sect, and we still don't know exactly what their secrets were, and I think this practice of keeping secrets is also why there is so much "silence" about "Jesus" in the earliest epistles too, because they were written to outsiders.

As Josephus says of the Essenes (who I think wrote the DSS and were proto-Jewish Christians), "He will neither conceal anything from those of his own sect, not discover any of their doctrines to others, no, not though anyone should compel him so to do at the hazard of his life" (War 2.141).
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:52 am

Famous examples that are candidates for interpolation include Romans 1:3 (and surrounding), Galatians 1:19 (and surrounding), and the phrase in Galatians 4:4.

Just because these three passages cause problems for mythicists, that does not mean they are famous examples.

About Romans 1:3 & surroundings:
Here I explained why Paul would have written (or inserted a hymn) Ro 1:3-6 (therefore against the possibility of interpolation):
>> But why did Paul suddenly announce the Son (Jesus) "come of David's seed according to flesh", when he never made use of it next (except much later and briefly in Romans 15:12)? And when Paul never depicted Jesus as King? And right at the very beginning of his epistle?
Paul was addressing a remote audience whom he never met (except a few, according to Romans 16:3-16a, likely in cities such as Corinth & Ephesus, before they moved to Rome), but expected his letter to be read also by/to Jews (Romans 2:17, etc.). Such a statement would immediately attract their attention (favorably). But what about the others, the Gentiles? Could Paul have taken the risk to turn them off early on by claiming a (very much) Jewish attribute (unheard of before, according to Earl), and not even necessary for his ensuing discussion? Of course not!
Therefore, Jesus, as "Son of David", had to be already widely admitted, and Paul knew it. So he could mention it, out of the blue, without upsetting (or confusing!) anyone.

Note: in the front of his epistle (up to 2:17), it seems Paul tried to soften up his Jewish audience:
a) "concerning his Son (come of David's seed according to flesh,)" (Romans 1:3 Darby)
b) "marked out Son of God in power, ... by resurrection of [the] dead" (Romans 1:4 Darby)
It appears here there is no pre-existence for the Son, who is revealed only by his (alleged) resurrection.
c) Jesus is never identified as solely "(the) Lord".
d) From 1:10 to 2:15, there are twenty-four mentions of "God" in a row, with no Jesus/Son/Lord/Christ in between.
It is only after alluding to God's wrath to come and writing "in [the] day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my glad tidings, by Jesus Christ." (2:16 Darby) that Paul confronted the Jews about the Law and circumcision. <<
from http://historical-jesus.info/djp2.html
And Ro 1:3, as written by Paul, is confirmed by Ro 15:12: “And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. ”

About the phrase in Galatians 4:4: http://historical-jesus.info/18.html
After analyzing Gal 3:7-4:7, I concluded: Paul used the common knowledge Jesus had been an earthly man (from a woman) and a Jew (as descendant of Abraham) in order to clinch a long & complicated argument. If the existence of Jesus on earth was not accepted or even doubted, then the argument would simply not work.
Here is my analysis:
>> Paul started by making a claim: "But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ."(3:16 Darby). That seems to refer to Genesis 17-22 but it is never specified here according to Paul's words.

Anyway, the promise is about inheritance (3:18) for all (Gentiles and Jews --3:8, 14, 28-29) but that is put on hold by the Law "until the seed [Christ] came ['erchomai', clear expression of a coming to occur] to whom the promise was made" (3:16, 19). Then everyone would be liberated from the Law by Christ (3:13, 22-25) & his crucifixion (3:13) and "the promise, on the principle of faith of Jesus Christ, should be given to those that believe." (3:22), allowing Paul's Galatians to be God's sons & heirs and (by "adoption"?) seed of Abraham (3:7, 29).

What remains is for the Son/Christ to come as the seed of Abraham, that is as a Jew and earthly human (as other seeds of Abraham, like Paul (Ro 11:1), Jews of Israelite descent (Ro 9:7), other apostles (2 Cor 11:20)), in order to enable the promise. So we have:
Gal 4:4-7 Darby "but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman [as an earthly human],come under law [as a Jew would be], that he might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship. But because you are [Greek present tense] sons ... So you are [present again] no longer bondman, but son ..."

So Paul was thinking about an earthly "flesh & blood" mother! And Christ had already come and gone (1:1)!

About Galatians 1:19 (and surrounding):
What is the best explanation for "James, the brother of the Lord"?
This is the first reference of “James” in ‘Galatians’. But at the time (around 38) of Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (as narrated in Galatians 1:18-20) there was another prominent member of the “church of Jerusalem” named James, the brother of John, who got executed around 42 (according to Acts 12:1-2). Therefore, Paul probably wanted to identify the “James” he met then, more so due to this one becoming most important later.
Because that other James was not a brother of Jesus, referring to James in Galatians 1:19 as "the brother of the Lord" would remove any confusion.

Also we have the testimony of Josephus in Antiquities (“the brother of Jesus so-called Christ, James by name”): another interpolation to demonstrate?

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:54 am

[Peter Kirby wrote: So, where would these things take place, if not in Judea and under Pilate?
The candidate that comes to my mind is ‘under the earth': that Jesus descended under the earth and was crucified and buried by the demons there. Perhaps the reader has their own ideas or comments on the subject.
Some passages in Romans do indicate Jesus was crucified on earth, in the heartland of the Jews, among Jews:
http://historical-jesus.info/19.html
(Is there evidence in Paul's epistles about the Crucifixion on earth? Yes)

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:56 am

Regarding the Ascension of Isaiah and its date, do you have evidence, a hypothesis, or a belief?

I would prefer to speak about evidence and hypothesis, not belief. I did express some ideas about Paul in another thread in this forum, but I did so in the form of a hypothesis to explain certain oddities, not as a belief. If you have a hypothesis, it is related to certain data and evidence and is proposed as a competing explanation of them.
According to my analysis, the “vision of Isaiah” was at first a Jewish text which then got Christianized by several gnostic Christians.
I based that analysis on the work of R.H. Charles:
http://historical-jesus.info/100.html

Cordially, Bernard
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