First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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rakovsky
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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by rakovsky » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:22 am

Thallus is known from his other numerous passages to demythologize different legendary events and figures, such as calling Saturn a man in history and in another case saying that the Assyrians and others were worshiping someone who was a historical figure. It would have been natural for Thallus to have dismissed the darkness in Jesus' story as a natural eclipse of some kind, as Julius Africanus appeared to have been criticizing Thallus for doing. So I think that Thallus really was writing about Jesus' story as Christian apologists have proposed.

Still, I suppose that Africanus could have proposed that Thallus was writing about the darkness in Judea in c. 33 AD when in fact Thallus was not. Or Thallus could have been responding to Jesus' story without actually having been in Judea in c. 33 to know whether there really was severe darkness during the Passover. Or supposing that there was a darkness, one could still find natural explanations for it like Thallus apparently was trying to do, eg. the "eclipse" could have been a strong cloud cover or summer lightning storm.

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Re: Wiki EarlyChristian writings Missing from our Forum'sWebsite

Post by DCHindley » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:50 am

rakovsky wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:34 pm
Some Christian writers have over the centuries thought that Philo was writing about Christians when he described the Therapeutae in his "On the Contemplative Life". But it doesn't appear that he did.
I wrote about this issue here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/for ... 338.0.html

One question is when was On the Contemplative Life written by Philo. I read a modern claim asserted that it was written in 10 AD, well before Christianity would have been preached in Egypt, but I didn't see information or reasoning backing the date up.
rakovsky,

I think you are right, 10 AD may just be someone's guess, and thus may be influenced by wishful thinking.

Seems the latest date is in the early years of Claudius, around 40 CE. In the Embassy to Gaius, an event dated to 38 CE, he calls himself an old man. So they project back a lifespan of 60 years to get a date of birth circa 20 BCE. I cannot find anything in the footnotes to F H Colson's translation in LCL vol 363 (Philo vol 9 of 10), or C D Yonge's translation (vol 4) to suggest a specific historical allusion in the book On the Contemplative Life.

If it is suggested that Eusebius was right, and the contemplative sect written about was a Christian one (Hist of Church 2:17:3ff), there would have to have been an explosion of Christianity in just one decade (ca. 30-40 CE) to get the scale of activity Philo attributes to these folks. In my humble opinion, I think that this might have been something of interest to Philo as a younger man (age 20-30) who liked to hang around the cosmopolitan communities which centered about lake Meriotes, which would put it around 10 CE of one used age 30. This is probably the reasoning of the source that inserted that 10 AD date into the text you cited in your article.

DCH

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by rakovsky » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:18 am

Good job checking for sources, DCH. The 10 AD date shows up in alot of blog-quality webpages, but not in published academia, from what I found. The clearest arguments that I see on the topic of the group's identity are (1) that Philo nowhere specifies that the group was Christian or Messianic, (2) he says that the sect's founder's were "ancient men", yet this could not be said in such a collective way of the Messianic prophets (eg. David and Isaiah), Jesus, and his disciples, and (3) The term "Therapeutae" was well known to refer to specific pagan cults like the "Therapeutae of Asclepius". True, Philo's Therapeutae are dedicated to God Himself, the "Self-existent", who is not one of the lower gods like Asclepius, but analogous to or the same as the Christian and Jewish "Jehovah". Still, a reader of the time who saw the term "Therapeutae" would assume that Philo was talking this well-known category of healers called Therapeutae, and I believe would not take the extra step of drawing any particular unstated inferences about Christianity.

Pseudo-Dionysius (5th-6th c. AD) says that Therapeutae was another name for monastics in his time and Christian environment. If you see the name "monk", today you might automatically think of Christian monks, but you could also think of Buddhist ones, depending on your background. So someone living in the early-mid 1st century who saw the well-known name Therapeutae would think of the general category of healers, who included Hippocrates.

The passage by Philo is not irrelevant to Christianity though, because it shows the kinds of circles that Alexandrian Christianity and its monasticism later drew from.

I know that one of the arguments in favor of Jesus-mythicism is that we don't have records by Philo, Seneca, or other non-Christians from the mid-1st century explicitly mentioning Jesus. But I think that this is not such a strong argument when we consider that Christianity was an illegal sect, which would stigmatize public figures from praising it, that 2000 years have passed, and that the Church could have erased or failed to pass down copies of antagonistic references to Jesus. Let's say that Philo (d. 50 AD) did hear about Christianity, which overlapped with his Trinitarian-type teachings, and did accept Jesus. It could be easily something that he would tend to want to keep to himself or share orally, rather than publish in official records, since it could lead to his rejection by the Jewish community.

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by rakovsky » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:09 am

Shouldn't Papias' writings be dated to 95-140 AD, rather than 110-140 AD?
The Early Writings webpage says:
Schoedel writes about Papias (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 5, p. 140):
It is notable that Eusebius, in spite of his desire to discredit Papias, still places him as early as the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117); and although later dates (e.g., A.D. 130-140) have often been suggested by modern scholars, Bartlet's date for Papias' literary activity of about A.D. 100 has recently gained support (Schoedel 1967: 91-92; Kortner 1983: 89-94, 167-72, 225-26).

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/papias.html
Wikipedia says:
The work of Papias is dated by most modern scholars to about 95–120.[7][8] Later dates were once argued from two references that now appear to be mistaken..... Eusebius refers to Papias only in his third book, and thus seems to date him before the opening of his fourth book in 109. Papias himself knows several New Testament books, whose dates are themselves controversial, and was informed by John the Evangelist, the daughters of Philip and many "elders" who had themselves heard the Twelve Apostles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis#Date

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by DCHindley » Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:52 am

rakovsky wrote:
Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:09 am
Shouldn't Papias' writings be dated to 95-140 AD, rather than 110-140 AD?
The Early Writings webpage says:
Schoedel writes about Papias (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 5, p. 140):
It is notable that Eusebius, in spite of his desire to discredit Papias, still places him as early as the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117); and although later dates (e.g., A.D. 130-140) have often been suggested by modern scholars, Bartlet's date for Papias' literary activity of about A.D. 100 has recently gained support (Schoedel 1967: 91-92; Kortner 1983: 89-94, 167-72, 225-26).

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/papias.html
Wikipedia says:
The work of Papias is dated by most modern scholars to about 95–120.[7][8] Later dates were once argued from two references that now appear to be mistaken..... Eusebius refers to Papias only in his third book, and thus seems to date him before the opening of his fourth book in 109. Papias himself knows several New Testament books, whose dates are themselves controversial, and was informed by John the Evangelist, the daughters of Philip and many "elders" who had themselves heard the Twelve Apostles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis#Date
I think we all have come to agree that Papias did not actually hear any apostles or disciples of Jesus directly, but heard stories that the second generation had relayed to him about them.

According to the common date for Jesus' period of activity, then, ca. 30 CE to 70 CE is 40 years, which is about one generation, then 70-110 is the second "generation." Of course, Christians liked to believe that their key figures lived to extreme ages, kind of throwing a wrench into any attempt to figure out where the "original" generation ends and the next one begins, but most folks in those days lived about 40-60 years.

Let's assume that Jesus' disciples/apostles were about the same age as he was, say 30 years old. This means that most if not all of them should be dead by 60 CE.

Those who carried on the torch after them would, again, have been at least in their 20s, maybe 30s, when they entered into their duties as elders and "evangelists." So they would be dying out by about 90 CE.

So, yes, Papias could have originally published his Notebooks in the 90s, but it could just as well be the 100s or 110s (I speak of decades). The later writer Hegesippus, for his part, did not write his notes for publication until he was an older man, IIRC.

In my opinion, Christianity as we know it from the NT had to have developed in reaction to the social conditions that prevailed in Judean dominated territory up to southern Syria, in consequence of the Judean rebellion. Give the Phoenix of the church 10 years to grow from the ashes, or 80 CE, as a start of developed Christian tradition (where Jesus is a divine redeemer, no longer an anointed Judean royal claimant).

Irenaeus was right, though, that the traditions Papias passed on of Jesus' teachings about a future kingdom of God on earth do resonate with Paul's preoccupation with the faithful (Judean and gentile) one day inheriting a bountiful promised land, although I am skeptical that Paul was a Christian himself.

The earliest Christians' desire to see a fruitful kingdom overseen by Jesus the anointed ruler, had over time experienced the crucible of the Judean war, morphing into a mystery cult.

The remnants of Paul's movement had also been decimated and beat up by the aftermath of that rebellion, even though they resided outside of southern Syria/Palestine.

The morphed Christian cult later interacted with, and absorbed into itself, Paul's orphaned movement of faithful gentiles longing to inherit the blessed age promised by God to Abraham's seed. So, and like a couple old widow/widowers, the two movements "married" out of convenience.

But I do not think that the idea of a fruitful messianic kingdom was quick to die out, even in the mystery cult of Jesus Christ, even though they seems to deny it to Judeans who would not renounce the law as they themselves had done.

A lot of what has been written by scholars are based on incredibly romantic (hence not realistic) notions about the earliest "christians." Even the traditions about the Judean wing of the Jesus movement, where Jesus was likely the anointed king of a still to come kingdom of God, was equally hokey and romantic, with the same incredibly long lives and halos around their heads as they incredulously believed was the case with their own gentile wing figures. It is almost as though that by the time the mystery-cult Christians realized that they were irrevocably divorced from Judaism, they had little memory of their founders and early leaders, and had to fabricate a back-history to 'explain" it away, and put distance between them and Judeans.

Yet scholars accept these traditions lock stock & barrel as if sacred in themselves, because it make them feel good and doesn't upset the faithful.

Amen!

DCH

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by arnoldo » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:40 am

^^
I've read Magnus Zetterholm's The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation Between Judaism and Christianity and other scholars and haven't gotten that impression.

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by pavurcn » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:00 pm

Human Lifespans Nearly Constant for 2,000 Years

"When Socrates died at the age of 70 around 399 B.C., he did not die of old age but instead by execution. It is ironic that ancient Greeks lived into their 70s and older, while more than 2,000 years later modern Americans aren't living much longer."

https://www.livescience.com/10569-human ... years.html

-------

"Back in 1994 a study looked at every man entered into the Oxford Classical Dictionary who lived in ancient Greece or Rome. Their ages of death were compared to men listed in the more recent Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Of 397 ancients in total, 99 died violently by murder, suicide or in battle. Of the remaining 298, those born before 100BC lived to a median age of 72 years. Those born after 100BC lived to a median age of 66. (The authors speculate that the prevalence of dangerous lead plumbing may have led to this apparent shortening of life)."

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2018100 ... -longevity

----------

See Pliny's Natural History Book 7.xlviii for some examples
But to pass to admitted facts, it is almost certain that Argathonius of Cadiz reigned for 80 years; his reign is thought to have begun in his fortieth year. It is not questioned that Masinissa reigned 60 years and that the Sicilian Gorgias lived 108 years. Quintus Fabius Maxixnus was augur for 63 years. Marcus Perperna and recently Lucius Volusius Saturninus outlived all the persons whose votes in debate they had taken as consuls; Perperna left only seven of those whom as censor he had electedhe lived to 98. In this matter it occurs to me to note also that there has only been a single five-year period in which no senator has died, from when Flaccus and Albinus as censors performed the purification ceremony to the next censorsbeginning 175 B.C. Marcus Valerius Corvinus completed 100 years, and there was an interval of 46 years between his first and sixth consulships. He also took his seat in the curule chair 21 times, which is a record; but his length of life was equalled by the pontifex Metellus.

Also among women Livia wife of Rutilius exceeded 97 years, Statilia a lady of noble family under the Emperor Claudius 99, Terentia Cicero's wife 103, Clodia Ofilius's wife 115; the latter also bore 15 children. The actress Lucceia delivered a recitation on the stage at 100. Galeria Copiola the actress of interludes was brought back to the stage in the consulship of Gaius Poppaeus and Quintus Sulpicius, at the votive games celebrated for the recovery of his late Majesty Augustus, when in her 104th year; she had been brought out at her first appearance by Marcus Pomponius, aedile of the plebs, in the consulship of Gaius Marius and Gnaeus Carbo, 91 years before, and she was brought back to the stage when an old woman by Pompey the Great as a marvel at the deification of the big theatre. Also Pedianus Asconius states that Sammula lived 110 years...and so on.
=======
Conclusion

It is quite reasonable to imagine that of all the people who followed Jesus at least some lived 50 to 60 years after the crucifixion, therefore to the years 80 to 90 CE. Plenty of time of for stories and certain details to be vetted and confirmed.

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by DCHindley » Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:17 pm

arnoldo wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:40 am
^^
I've read Magnus Zetterholm's The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation Between Judaism and Christianity [2003] and other scholars and haven't gotten that impression.
Reviews of his method vary considerably. Personally I do not like any publication that claims to be taking a "Social Science" approach, because that term really means nothing. Karl Marx's economic approach is also a social science approach, but that don't make it right or good. While we are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy because the author of a study considers it a contribution to sociology/anthropology, it is not in itself a "science" like chemistry or physics. There are just too many uncontrolled, not to mention controlled, variables to speak of it so.

But anyways, a review published in the Journal of Early Christian Studies seems to suggest that Zetterholm had made too many safe assumptions. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/172623
Anyone expecting to find an historical account of the origins of the Antioch church in this book will be sorely disappointed. ... Zetterholm brings to bear on it the resources of sociological study and the importance of ideology.

There are limits to the study, as Zetterholm himself admits. First, the search for an answer is confined to the church at Antioch and to the period up to the death of Ignatius. Secondly, it is impossible to reconstruct from the available texts the entire process of separation. We simply do not have enough information. As a result, Zetterholm uses sociology to go beyond the literary sources, and he also draws on comparative materials from antiquity. He says, "if we find something in texts about the local situation that makes sense from an underlying social-scientific perspective, and if this text can be analyzed with modern theories in order to extract more information from it, and if we also find expressions of the same phenomenon in other ancient texts dealing with other locations, I would say we have a case" (14). This statement both reflects the methodology of the study and raises a red flag. The caution is that information in the texts must make sense from the perspective of the social sciences and that such information must be susceptible to analysis in accord with modern theories. Does Zetterholm put too much weight on social science theories, sometimes to the point of over-riding the text?
Another review, published in RBL, really liked it, with reservations.
https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/ ... lst_facpub
The book's provocative thesis is that the parting of the ways, at least here [in Antioch], was essentially an inner-Christian affair: the result of a conscious effort by Jesus-believing Gentiles to dissociate themselves from the Jesus-believing Jews to whose community they were attached. ... Given the paucity and questionable reliability of the sources, Zetterholm finds sociological theories to be indispensable gap-fillers, indeed, providers of information in those cases where the alternative, given the state of the evidence, is to say nothing (10, 11).

He thus proposes a four-part method involving (1) the assumption of the general theoretical perspective of the sociology of knowledge as presented in Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality (London: Penguin, 1991); (2) the use of more specific sociological theories and models to illuminate particular problems; (3) comparative study of other data from antiquity; and, of course, (4) analysis of the primary source material from Antioch. A case is considered made if we find something in texts about the local situation in Antioch that makes sense from an underlying socialscientific perspective, and if this text can be analyzed with modern theories in order to extract more information from it, and if we also find expressions of the same phenomenon in other ancient texts dealing with other locations (14).
...
This is is a highly original and provocative study. Its relentlessly sociological approach and apparent lack of any underlying Christian (or Jewish) apologetic make this work a breath of fresh air in the perennial discussion of the separation of Judaism and Christianity. It is also, however, frequently quite speculative. ... Chapter 4's general thesis that James viewed the Gentiles essentially as God-fearers while Paul did not seems to me to be quite to the point. But Zetterholm's detailed reconstruction becomes unnecessarily complicated as a result of its positive assertion of the historicity of the apostolic decree. [etc.]
Seems Zetterholm makes assumptions deemed safe, like assuming the historicity of the apostolic decree and that modern social theory can be exported back in time and space to ancient times like the theme park owner did with partially preserved dinosaur DNA, filling the gaps in the DNA with that from a frog, in the movie Jurassic Park. I feel like I'm reading Malina's NT World where he assumes that modern Mediterranean style machismo fits ancient times like a glove. I say it ain't as close a fit as Malina wants it to be.

K C Hanson (moderate-liberal), J Dominic Crossan (liberal) and Richard A Horsley (moderate-conservative) do it too, so it is not just a right-conservative Christian methodology.

DCH

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by DCHindley » Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:40 pm

pavurcn wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:00 pm
Conclusion

It is quite reasonable to imagine that of all the people who followed Jesus at least some lived 50 to 60 years after the crucifixion, therefore to the years 80 to 90 CE. Plenty of time of for stories and certain details to be vetted and confirmed.
Well, I don't want to go by the life expectancy of members of the elite or aristocratic classes. Living to average age does mean you have a higher liklihood of living well beyond that age, but I am going to assume that early Christians were not so lucky to have good nutrition and available medical care (such as it was). Just because it is possible to live to be 100+, doesn't mean it happened a lot. I do not see every reason to assume it.

Here is a Wiki page on life expectancy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy
Classical Greece 25[15] to 28[16] Based on Athens Agora and Corinth data, total life expectancy at 15 would be 37–41 years[10]

Classical Rome 20 to 30 Data is lacking, but computer models provide the estimate. If a person survived to age 20, they could expect to live around 30 years more. Life expectancy was probably slightly longer for women than men.[17]
Since we just do not have enough information to calculate accurate longevity tables (if you survive x years, you might live y more years), so I used averages of 30-60 years.

DCH

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Re: First Century Christian Writings Missing from our Forum's Website

Post by pavurcn » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:57 am

DCHindley wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:40 pm

Since we just do not have enough information to calculate accurate longevity tables (if you survive x years, you might live y more years), so I used averages of 30-60 years.

DCH
Perfectly fine, it seems to me. So if 60 percent fell within the average, and 20 percent fell short of it, we still have 20 percent beyond it, one of five. Therefore my conclusion seems to stand: it is reasonable to believe some (i.e., a non-trivial percentage) were alive in 80 / 90 CE. I agree that we cannot know what percentage fell short or exceeded the average, so it is a guessing game. There were also some aristocrats, like Joseph of Arimathea, or likely John the Elder (if he was, as some think, highly educated and from the priestly class). There were some who met Jesus as children, e.g., Jairus's daughter at 12. If she lived to 62, that is still close to 80 CE.

Also the point about the 100-year-olds mentioned by Pliny is not that it happened a lot, but that it was not at all unknown, so 70 and 80 year-olds were likely far less rare, though not so rare as to deserve special mention.

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