Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messianism

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Stephan Huller
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by Stephan Huller » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:37 pm

I obviously meant Enoch not Ezra. What evidence is there that either text (the Similtudes or 4 Ezra) were influential sources. I can accept at least theoretically that the Sadducees produced Enoch. What do the Sadducees tell us about the beliefs of the common man (ie 90 percent of the country?). The Samaritans never had the concept of the messiah. So I am not against the original priestly culture of Israel essentially being developed after the model of a spiritual Vichy France. But so what? The ancient "collaborators" were rich, affluent. They were as a rule likely not willing to participate in revolt

Stephan Huller
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by Stephan Huller » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:42 pm

and the concept of THE messiah is not in the Pentateuch. I never claimed it was essential or originally part of the exegesis of the text. But neither is Jerusalem referenced. Judaism developed from the ignorant rabble. So too "messianism."

John2
Posts: 3371
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by John2 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:55 pm

Neil,

I've been following your discussion of this topic on your blog and now on this thread, and I understand your point of view that there was generally no single, common concept of "the Messiah" or a common expectation of one before the 66-70 CE war, based on the lack of any clear reference to such in the literature before this time.

And you already know that I view people like the Egyptian and the wannabe kings of the first century CE in Josephus as being "messianic" and that I see his reference to the world ruler prophecy that inspired the war as messianic and applicable to the Fourth Philosophy as far back as 6 CE, and that a pre-66 CE messianism is also reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Even if the messianism of the DSS does not reflect the view of the common people (as you seem to think), I don't know what writings do, because I doubt that any of the various writings about the nature of "the Messiah" are reflective of common people. In any event, the DSS at least show that the expectation of a conquering messiah based on the OT existed among some Jews before the 66-70 CE war.

But even when I set this view point of the DSS and Josephus aside I see the big picture this way: How can something that existed before the first century CE (I.e., the expectation of a messiah in the OT) not exist in the first century CE? I'm not saying there is a single concept of "the messiah" in the OT or post-biblical writings, but there is an expectation of a restored Davidic kingdom in the OT, and if the OT existed in the first century CE then so did this general concept. How could it not?
You know in spite of all you gained, you still have to stand out in the pouring rain.

Charles Wilson
Posts: 1545
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:13 am

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by Charles Wilson » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:14 pm

John2 wrote:...there is an expectation of a restored Davidic kingdom in the OT, and if the OT existed in the first century CE then so did this general concept. How could it not?
That idea ended with the destruction of the Hasmoneans and then the Priesthood at the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Promises given to them were taken and rewritten as having been given to the Romans.

Revelation 5: 10 - 13 (RSV):

[10] and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on earth."
[11] Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
[12] saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"
[13] And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"

'N everyone thinks that this is talking about God and Jesus. It's not.

CW

Stephan Huller
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by Stephan Huller » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:47 pm

But the question always comes back to - what the common man think? Like any popular uprising - messianism has to be 'popular.' Do the erudite musings of Enoch 'trickle' down in any meaningful level from the ancient equivalent of Madame Blatavsky's theosophist circles? I don't think so and I think saying that the astral 'Son of Man' being at the heart of Enoch is a 'Christ' is only paying too much attention to a late corruption of the text by Christian editors.

There is always this problem - do 'writings' documents written for any by the elite really reflect the contemporary environment? Was England at the time of the Bronte sisters really reflected in the novels of the sisters? Is 'ancient Greece' better represented by Aristophanes or Plato . Answer - Aristophanes.

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 3578
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by neilgodfrey » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:16 pm

Stephan Huller wrote:What evidence is there that either text (the Similtudes or 4 Ezra) were influential sources.
The point as I understand it is that we have collections of writings that have been preserved from a particular era and as such stand as evidence to some of the ideas/discussions/debates in circulation among their authors/audiences in that era.

We presume that certain texts were selected for ongoing copying because of their relative significance or repute.
vridar.org Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 3578
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by neilgodfrey » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:31 pm

John2 wrote: But even when I set this view point of the DSS and Josephus aside I see the big picture this way: How can something that existed before the first century CE (I.e., the expectation of a messiah in the OT) not exist in the first century CE? I'm not saying there is a single concept of "the messiah" in the OT or post-biblical writings, but there is an expectation of a restored Davidic kingdom in the OT, and if the OT existed in the first century CE then so did this general concept. How could it not?
Are we able to think that there was a single or dominant view among any class of people about such an idea in the first century?

As for the OT I doubt that anyone reading it alone would come away thinking its message was the coming of a Davidic Messiah to conquer. God says he will come and restore everything. Some books seem to indicate he had already done that. Others suggest he is yet to do it. I don't know that the books of the OT contain a common theme of a Davidic Messiah to come in the sense that we see this idea clearly spelled out after the fall of the "second temple".

Certain groups at a later date did turn to passages in the OT to support their various ideas (e.g. Daniel and Isaiah could be used to support the advent of a dying messiah) but that's not the same thing.
vridar.org Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 3578
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by neilgodfrey » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:33 pm

Stephan Huller wrote:There is always this problem - do 'writings' documents written for any by the elite really reflect the contemporary environment?
Exactly.

Jeffrey Staley in reviewing Fitzmeyer's The One Who Is To Come made the same point:
There is no serious attempt to place messianism within the broader matrix of social history. There is no interaction with, say, Richard Horsley or John Dominic Crossan’s work on social banditry and peasant movements (Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Time of Jesus; The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant). One might then ask of Fitzmyer what communities he thinks are reflected in his textual study. If, as many have suggested, only 5 percent of the ancient Mediterranean population could read and write, then what segment of the population is reflected in Fitzmyer’s analysis? Is his “history of an idea” representative of Jewish belief at large, or does it represent only a small segment of the population? Does Fitzmyer’s study of the “history of an idea” reflect only the elites’ mental peregrinations, which are largely unrelated to the general masses? And what difference, if any, would his answer to this question make to this “history of an idea”?
vridar.org Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 3578
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by neilgodfrey » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:26 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Stephan Huller wrote:What evidence is there that either text (the Similtudes or 4 Ezra) were influential sources.
The point as I understand it is that we have collections of writings that have been preserved from a particular era and as such stand as evidence to some of the ideas/discussions/debates in circulation among their authors/audiences in that era.

We presume that certain texts were selected for ongoing copying because of their relative significance or repute.
I should have added that where the texts are seen to share common interests, questions and ideas then it is a fair bet that those were the interests, questions etc of a community or group of some sort that extended beyond the readers of any one text.
vridar.org Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

Stephan Huller
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: Questioning the Historicity of Early 1C Popular Messiani

Post by Stephan Huller » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:24 am

The question then is - did the rabble care less about the cosmic being at the heart of Enoch? Or were they simply an angry mob who were being directed by puppet masters toward revolt through the concept of the Messiah (which was foreign to the Pentateuch in the first place)? The bottom line nevertheless is that I don't think (despite what the texts say now) that the figure in Enoch is properly defined as an 'anointed one'? And even if I am wrong and one day they find this terminology in a buried text of Enoch 'first century popular messianism' had nothing to do with this text.

Post Reply