Why Not Talk About This Instead?

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

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:58 am

Paradise became a way to refer to Eden.
This is what I found out through my study on the 'Life of Adam':
http://historical-jesus.info/16.html

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

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:16 pm

John2 wrote: ... the central core of Christianity [is], in my view, that the "gospel" about Jesus at least ... 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 ...
I agree with this, which is why the assumption that 'he was a first century CE religious Jew of some sort' is unlikely. I think there may be elements of a messianic-preacher in there, but from when is hard to know - it could be anywhere from BC to 3rd C. Whoever it was may or may not have been crucified. They may have been preaching about a Christ, and got folded into the story, but if hey were folded into the sotry, that would be more likely to have happened to someone later in the period, rather than early. I think what you say next supports this contention of mine -
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 Peter Kirby » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:46 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
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.
Michael BG wrote: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.
Michael BG wrote:Wasn’t the Ascension of Isaiah written by Christians living after the death of Paul?
This question, as you put it, was brought up as an objection. If there is no basis for the objection, then there is no validity to the objection. If there is no basis for the dating or relative dating behind the objection, then there is no basis for the objection. Far from being "strange," this is all very logical.

I did not mention a dating of the Vision of Isaiah as a line of evidence in support of anything. Someone else did (i.e., you did). So the question is put to you.

There were neutral ways to ask this question as a question, but that's not what happened. And you'd get the same response anyway. I'd have to ask if there is any real evidence regarding the terminus a quo of this document. Is there? With my cursory review of the literature, nothing jumps out at me.

If we have no evidence specifically regarding dating, it can't be used as a premise either for or against any hypothesis.

You might have more of a valid point here if I were trying to claim a dating as a line of evidence, but I did not.

Here is what M. A. Knibb has to say regarding the question of dating the Ascension of Isaiah (... and the kind of thing that might have been helpful for you to produce if you were going to attempt to sustain an objection based on a dating ...).

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ascension.html
Both Justin Martyr and Tertullian refer to the tradition that Isaiah met his death by being sawed in half, and this same tradition about Isaiah was probably in the mind of the author of Hebrews 11:37. If this last point is correct, it suggests that the Martyrdom was composed not later than the first century A.D. But the narrative, like the stories of the martyrdom of Eleazar and the martyrdom of the seven brothers and their mother (2Mac 6:18-7:42), is probably much older than this and goes back ultimately to the period of the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167-164 B.C.

There are a number of indications which point to the view that 3:13-4:22 was composed at about the end of the first century A.D. This section of the Ascension is clearly later than the death of Nero in A.D. 68 because it refers to the expectation that Nero would come again as the "Antichrist" (see 4:2b-4a); presumably a little time would have been needed for this belief to develop, and this suggests a date at the earliest toward the end of the first century. On the other hand, the picture of the corruption of the Church which is given in 3:21-23 invites comparison with the descriptions of the Church given in 1 and 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, and 1 Clement 3; the similarities with these writings likewise suggest that 3:13-4:22 dates from about the end of the first century. Two other pieces of evidence also point towards this date. First, the author of 4 Baruch 9:18, 20, a work attributed to the early second century, betrays a knowledge of chapters 1-5 of the Ascension in their Christian form and may even have known the complete book; he gives in 9:18 what appears to be a loose quotation of 3:17 of the Ascension. Second, this same passage of the Ascension (3:17) provides a description of the emergence of the Beloved (Jesus) from the tomb which is similar to the description given in the Gospel of Peter 39f., a work which dates from the middle of the second century. Taken together, these indications suggest a date for the composition of 3:13-4:22 at about the end of the first century.

The date of the Vision of Isaiah is rather more difficult to determine. The fact that Jerome refers to 11:34, and that Epiphanius gives a quotation of 9:35f., suggests that this part of the Ascension was in existence, at the latest, by the end of the third century A.D. But it is probably much older than the third century. The Acts of Peter 24, which dates from the second half of the second century, appears to quote 11:14, while the narrative of the miraculous birth of the Lord in 11:2-16 shows some similarities with the Protevangelium of James, a work attributed to about A.D. 150. It thus seems likely that the Vision comes from the second century A.D. The date of composition was carried back even earlier (to the close of the first century) by Charles, because he believed that 11:16 was quoted in Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians 19, "And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary and her child-bearing and likewise also the death of the Lord." But it is not at all clear that Ignatius really is quoting from the Ascension.
Based on what this passage mentions:
  • The section 3:13-4:22 most likely belongs to the last third of the first century, according to Knibb's interpretation of this data.
  • The Vision of Isaiah of difficult to date. Knibb prefers the second century AD, while others preferred the late first century. Knibb does not point to any evidence that would set a lower bound. An examination of what information is available does not even allow us to claim that the Vision of Isaiah is even necessarily post-70 AD.
  • The Martyrdom of Isaiah is older, perhaps as old as 167-164 B.C.
In response to your question/objection:

If the interpretation of the Ascension of Isaiah is correct, and if it reflects a more-primitive viewpoint compared to what was prevalent in the late second century (as revealed from the works of the heresiologists and orthodox), the question becomes how early does such a work have to be in order to belong to this kind of more-primitive viewpoint with plausibility.

Your question is premised on the idea that it would have to be written in the lifetime of Paul in order to share a primitive viewpoint along with Paul.
Wasn’t the Ascension of Isaiah written by Christians living after the death of Paul?
But not even that really makes sense. They could share a primitive viewpoint, even if they were not both written during the life of Paul. For example, if it were written during the late first century, that could be a period of time in which this primitive viewpoint flourished, even after the death of Paul.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:55 pm

But not even that really makes sense. They could share a primitive viewpoint, even if they were not both written during the life of Paul. For example, if it were written during the late first century, that could be a period of time in which this primitive viewpoint flourished, even after the death of Paul.
The Christian additions on the vision of Isaiah, made progressively by several Christian Gnostics, were included in a totally Jewish text. Charles gathered up the pieces of evidence, but because of his Christian faith, could not see the obvious.
http://historical-jesus.info/100.html (my analysis of the vision of Isaiah, verse by verse)

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:15 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
But not even that really makes sense. They could share a primitive viewpoint, even if they were not both written during the life of Paul. For example, if it were written during the late first century, that could be a period of time in which this primitive viewpoint flourished, even after the death of Paul.
The Christian additions on the vision of Isaiah, made progressively by several Christian Gnostics, were included in a totally Jewish text. Charles gathered up the pieces of evidence, but because of his Christian faith, could not see the obvious.
http://historical-jesus.info/100.html (my analysis of the vision of Isaiah, verse by verse)
This so-called analysis is flawed. Even if all its other flaws and non sequiturs were ignored, it is not based on the best available critical texts and does not make any observations based on the specific known differences among the manuscripts despite the fact that the claims being made are essentially text-critical in nature.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:22 pm

This so-called analysis is flawed. Even if all its other flaws and non sequiturs were ignored, it is not based on the best available critical texts and does not make any observations based on the specific known differences among the manuscripts despite the fact that the claims being made are essentially text-critical in nature.
Can you say what it is flawed? Charles' analysis or mine, based on Charles' study? Maybe not the best available texts now, but what would that change?
I did not have to make observations based on the specific known differences among the manuscripts, but on the fact most Christian items on E & L1 are different than the Christian items on S & L2. These Christian items were therefore added by two different interpolators, definitively Gnostic Christians on an original Jewish text with very little christianization (because that shows in E & L1 and also in S & L2), that is 9:14 and a few words in 9:16.
These two Christian items definitively seem outright insertions in a text which otherwise would be totally Jewish (without also the different Christian items between E & L1 and S & L2, as previously mentioned), with the Beloved being no more than an angel.

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:09 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:Can you say what it is flawed?
The conclusions reached do not actually follow.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Michael BG » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:49 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Peter Kirby wrote:
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?
Michael BG wrote: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.
This question, as you put it, was brought up as an objection. If there is no basis for the objection, then there is no validity to the objection. If there is no basis for the dating or relative dating behind the objection, then there is no basis for the objection. Far from being "strange," this is all very logical.

I did not mention a dating of the Vision of Isaiah as a line of evidence in support of anything. Someone else did (i.e., you did). So the question is put to you.

There were neutral ways to ask this question as a question, but that's not what happened. And you'd get the same response anyway. I'd have to ask if there is any real evidence regarding the terminus a quo of this document. Is there? With my cursory review of the literature, nothing jumps out at me.

If we have no evidence specifically regarding dating, it can't be used as a premise either for or against any hypothesis.

You might have more of a valid point here if I were trying to claim a dating as a line of evidence, but I did not.
Bold added

In my first post quoted above only one assumption is being make – that somewhere behind the versions we have of the Ascension of Isaiah lies a Jewish belief. There is a bias in the second question, which is expecting a positive answer, which now I think you have given (written/edited by Christians before the end of the second century). There was no objection, how could I object to something I didn’t know.

Of course you are correct that by asking these questions I could be setting the scene to attack those assumptions, but I hope I never attack someone’s assumptions without clarification of what they are. I don’t know if it is usual practice to attack the assumptions of others here without being clear what those assumptions are, but I hope not.

I accept the question could have been more neutral but I didn’t think it not being neutral would get the reaction it did, which I found strange.

I didn’t know if you accepted M.A.Knibb’s or anyone’s dating. I don’t accept that the issue of dating is irrelevant. If it is assumed that Paul wrote his epistles in the first century CE dating would be a valid objection if you were looking for his ideas to have been influenced by Augustine of Hippo writing in the fourth and fifth centuries CE.

However thank you for the extended post, which I think means that your working hypothesis is that Ascension of Isaiah was put together by the end of the second century CE, and that it might be older. However you haven’t stated if you think that behind chapters 6-11 there is a Jewish document written before and around 70 CE.



Peter Kirby wrote:
Wasn’t the Ascension of Isaiah written by Christians living after the death of Paul?
But not even that really makes sense. They could share a primitive viewpoint, even if they were not both written during the life of Paul. For example, if it were written during the late first century, that could be a period of time in which this primitive viewpoint flourished, even after the death of Paul.
It is a possibility that the Vision of Isaiah part was written by 117. It is therefore a possibility that the language used could be earlier. I don’t think you have made a very strong case that all of the language used in the Vision of Isaiah would be current with Paul. There are other Jewish traditions such as Wisdom that might explain Paul’s theology better, but I have not put much effort into studying the traditions behind Paul’s letters. Wisdom (and I assume Logos) have a pre-existence in heaven and in the Wisdom of Solomon there is talk of Wisdom coming from heaven

Wis 9:10 RSV
“Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of thy glory send her,
that she may be with me and toil,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to thee.”

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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Peter Kirby » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:38 pm

Michael BG wrote:However you haven’t stated if you think that behind chapters 6-11 there is a Jewish document written before and around 70 CE.
I haven't found any evidence to support that hypothesis.

I'm also not sure that the (contrasting) category of "Jewish" is extremely helpful, especially when being contrasted with first century varieties of "Christians." The typical dividing line used usually tends to be the mention of "Jesus" (or "Christ"). But in the context of the idea that "Jesus" may not refer to Jesus of Nazareth, that may not be as bright a red line as it is often assumed to be.
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Re: Why Not Talk About This Instead?

Post by Michael BG » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:31 pm

Peter Kirby wrote:
Michael BG wrote:However you haven’t stated if you think that behind chapters 6-11 there is a Jewish document written before and around 70 CE.
I haven't found any evidence to support that hypothesis.
I haven’t looked for any evidence, but I thought there was a theory that there was a Jewish document, which then became “Christianised” as lots of the Christian aspects could be removed and what is left would make sense within a Jewish environment. Examples are maybe “the Christ” in 8:18, most of 9:5 (the Lord Christ … Jesus), maybe “who will be called Christ” in 9:12, (11:2-22 as suggested by Muller) etc. so that the original text was about the “Beloved” one or “Beloved” of God and not Jesus Christ.
Peter Kirby wrote: I'm also not sure that the (contrasting) category of "Jewish" is extremely helpful, especially when being contrasted with first century varieties of "Christians." The typical dividing line used usually tends to be the mention of "Jesus" (or "Christ"). But in the context of the idea that "Jesus" may not refer to Jesus of Nazareth, that may not be as bright a red line as it is often assumed to be.
I have assumed that the way a text is defined as Christian is by it’s references to Jesus Christ. I do recognise that the term Christ could be used in a Greek text for a Jewish Messianic figure and therefore might not be what I would define as a Christian text and I assumed this is generally accepted by those working in the field of early Christianity. Is this not generally accepted now as I don’t recall any other definition of what a Christian text is 35 years ago?

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