When/what is the End of Days?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:39 pm

If anything could more completely embody a COMPLETE DETACHMENT from early sources (i.e. second - fourth centuries) it is this drivel. NO ONE read Acts this way. The community that used Acts and the communities that didn't (i.e. the Pauline communities) never engaged in the sorts of discussions we see drawn up by modern academia. But this is a critical distinction. In antiquity there was no party in Christianity which maintained the Law in any way that resembled that of the Qumran community or Jews generally. The discussion in Acts about Peter's relation to the Law is wholly fictitious in IMHO and developed - if I can borrow the term - in the way a stock character is developed. In other words, IF Peter was Jewish and the epistles of Paul were directed against him and his Jewish beliefs THEN here is how it would play out.

But the idea that Acts - a mostly fictitious work - can serve as the basis to understand the Qumran texts is a wholly laughable idea. That 'serious scholarship' has been devoted to a laughable premise isn't surprising given the limited number of things that the industry of academia can actually write about. There are conferences on Marcion for God's sake - a boogeyman who lives in the margins of Patristic tomes. But just to make clear, you:

1. have to establish that Acts is a historical account and not a historical romance or faux-history (as I and many other hold)
2. then you have to argue that 'Jewish-belief-system' of the community that Peter came from was distinct and is not of a 'stock' character (again if the community was fictitious there is another barrier still to overcome). In other words, Peter is real, the basic account of Acts is historical but now demonstrate that the author spent any time actually describing a distinctive Jewish community or as I would have it, he just 'painted in' some sort of 'Jewish belief(s)' for Peter knowing full well he would become 'Christian.' This sort of thing happens a lot in the later martyrologies.
3. then, in an even more difficult manner still, you'd have to establish that YOUR particular or anyone's interpretation of the Qumran texts is the right one and that THAT understanding of who or what kind of a community produced the scrolls was somehow related to that fictitious or not fictitious account in Acts.
4. THEN, FINALLY assuming anyone is still standing as you work your way through all these maybes, ifs and perhapses - you will have to overcome the greatest hurdle of all - i.e. that the relationship of the documents discovered at Qumran firmly dated to the period before the Common Era were produced by the community described in Acts which existed AFTER the Common Era

in short, trying to prove that my dog is the resurrected Christ has more going for it.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

John2
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:04 pm

Well, that's a tall order for something that's really only tangential to the subject of this thread.

I can tell you more briefly that even Eisenman agrees that Acts is mostly fiction.
First, the Book of Acts cannot be considered a historical presentation. There is too much mythologizing, too much that is out-and-out fiction, too much fantasizing. Important materials are left out, yet, underlying the presentation, the broad lines of a certain kind of history can be discerned.

https://books.google.com/books?id=XhJcW ... n.&f=false
An example of this would be Peter's tablecloth vision, which I think is totally made up. But I think there was nevertheless an historical Peter and that Acts is using this vision as a way to deal with the real issue of gentile inclusion into Christianity in a pro-Pauline manner. And at the same time I think Luke-Acts is aware of and/or incorporates other early Christian writings (in addition to Josephus), like of course the gospel of Mark and perhaps the letters of Paul and Matthew (if not "Q") -which is not to say that this means that any of these writings are completely historical (excepting Paul and Josephus), only that it is aware of documents that actually existed. Similarly I think that Luke-Acts knows (of?) the Damascus Document and MMT, and if I get more time I'd be happy to explicate this in another thread.
Last edited by John2 on Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:37 pm

By wrapping in Eisenman into this discussion you've also added another layer of possible error - i.e:

1. whether Acts is historical
2. whether the Jewish culture described in Acts (which may or may not be ficitional) is reflective of an actual Jewish culture or a 'stock' one invented by the author
3. Eisenman's understanding of Acts
4. Eisenman's understanding of the Qumran texts
5. whether or not the relationship between Acts and Qumran (assuming there is one) is one of influence i.e. a pre-existent Qumran community writing MMT two hundred years before Acts and influencing the history or the author of Acts (see above) or - as you propose one of description - i.e. describing the same culture/community because we can now ignore C-14 evidence and assume that the Qumran texts DESCRIBE the community 'Jewish Christians' of Acts.

5 is so ludicrous and implausible it's not even worth discussing. Also no point looping Eisenman into the discussion as it is yet another level of possible dissonance (other than your obvious implied purpose of having the forum discuss your books which are otherwise generally ignored) :tomato: .
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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DCHindley
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by DCHindley » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:47 pm

Secret Alias wrote:By wrapping in Eisenman into this discussion you've also added another layer of possible error - i.e:

1. whether Acts is historical
2. whether the Jewish culture described in Acts (which may or may not be ficitional) is reflective of an actual Jewish culture or a 'stock' one invented by the author
3. Eisenman's understanding of Acts
4. Eisenman's understanding of the Qumran texts
5. whether or not the relationship between Acts and Qumran (assuming there is one) is one of influence i.e. a pre-existent Qumran community writing MMT two hundred years before Acts and influencing the history or the author of Acts (see above) or - as you propose one of description - i.e. describing the same culture/community because we can now ignore C-14 evidence and assume that the Qumran texts DESCRIBE the community 'Jewish Christians' of Acts.

5 is so ludicrous and implausible it's not even worth discussing. Also no point looping Eisenman into the discussion as it is yet another level of possible dissonance (other than your obvious implied purpose of having the forum discuss your books which are otherwise generally ignored) :tomato: .
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John2
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:58 pm

Why am I not "wrapping" Nehemia Gordon into this discussion, or trying to promote his books, or posing as him? He's an author too, and he's had as much, if not more, of impact on my point of view as Eisenman and I consequently cite him just as often on the forum.

In any event, while I respect your unique intelligence and educational background, and while nothing you've said in this thread has been too offputting, I generally don't care for your tone and manner of discourse and would appreciate it if you could refrain from commenting on my threads.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.

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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:36 pm

Whatever. The facts are that citing Eisenman isn't going to help you move this hypothesis from the junk heap. Why not tell us instead how you think Acts's description of the 'Jewish' controversy that (apparently) caused Paul and Peter to part ways relates to the Qumran literature. How on earth is it possible that someone like Paul (even as described in Acts) would have managed to convince Peter - allegedly a member of the yachad of Qumran - to abandon obedience to the Torah? This is where the whole argument breaks down for me.

One might use a Schonfield-like argument and argue that the 'Jewish Christians' were adherents of only part of the Law. The Patristic sources do echo this sort of understanding. But I would like to hear how it is - given the testimony of the Church Fathers - that we see a zealously observant community like that at Qumran equated with the Jewish Christians of Acts, Galatians and the Patristic literature? This is wholly out of step with the 'Jewish Christians' that we know from any Christian sources. How could Paul have (allegedly) made peace with that community - the yachad of the Qumran literature - at Jerusalem? It defies logic and any semblance of knowledge of what is at stake in Galatian.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:53 pm

I want to repeat, as someone who is intimately familiar with ALL of the early Christian sources, that there simply isn't an early or ancient witness who describes the existence of wholly observant 'Jewish Christians.' There's always an asterisk besides their 'Jewishness' insofar as they appear more Jewish that Pauline Christians insofar as - apparently - they stress that they are 'Jewish,' Israelite or some such concept. But again Christians resemble 'messianic' Jews of the seventeenth and eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (i.e. followers of antinomian type leaders). They read and interpreted the Jewish scriptures but in a highly mystical or allegorical manner. Indeed as far as I can see the only points of debate that ever emerges in the Patristic literature are (a) the calculation of Easter (b) abstention from certain types of foods and wine (c) some sort of observance of the Sabbath even as a fast (d) adherence to the Ten Commandments (e) recognition of Jewish holidays but again in a highly allegorized or 'spiritual form' (such as the examples of a Christian Festival of Unleavened Bread and (f) the covering of women. Maybe there are others. But circumcision isn't on that list certainly, nor animal sacrifices, nor again ritual mourning, birth observances, marriage contracts, divorce etc etc. There is simply no way to square core Jewish beliefs with the 'Jewish Christians' unless you assume that ALL of the Patristic sources are wrong and all the books of the Orthodox are forgeries which is a gross neglect of scholarship. The 'Jewish Christians' of early Christian literature weren't the yachad of Qumran nor directly related to that community.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:02 pm

And if you REALLY want my opinion (please, please tell us sir) I think that the fact that there is no real 'Jewishness' to Acts and much of early Christianity (as described in the Patristic literature) leads to this sort of reckless scholarship that Eisenman engages in (others are on this list too certainly) in order to fill the void. But the problem is with THE SOURCES. Acts is a forgery. Once you start developing history from this second century romance your ship has already run aground on the rocks.

I've said time and again, the Pauline scriptures were interpolated. I don't know what the original form of the letters or even the gospel took but it was 'Jewish' or at least closer to 'real Judaism' than anything in Acts. The key is to piece together what the earliest rabbinic sources (mostly developed from the circle of R Ishmael in their commentary on Exodus) to get a feel for these heretics. What does it say? They stressed only the Ten Commandments came from heaven (this is supported by the Torah itself) and that there were two gods (this is also supported by the Torah). Beyond this, neither I nor anyone else has anything meaningful to say about what 'Jewish Christianity' was about other, than perhaps, those people described in certain reports who refused to drink wine and eat meat because of the loss of the temple AND the bit about circumcision not being in the Ten Commandments (this sounds Pauline). Good luck finding out what 'Jewish Christians' were all about from that paucity of source material!
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

John2
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:37 pm

I feel like I've come full circle on the subject of the End of Days. As I said, I've never given much thought to it before, but I started out thinking that Nehemia Gordon's article on it seemed sensible, and after looking into the subject more I think he is right that it is connected to the blessings and the curses in the Torah and dependent on repentance, like in Daniel 9 and MMT, and I don't see what else there is to say about it.

I tend to not start many threads due to having limited internet time, and this one has been enjoyable for me and I appreciate all the comments and views. It seems like the whole gang chimed in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpO8HgBr3WU
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Secret Alias
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Re: When/what is the End of Days?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:20 pm

to the blessings and the curses in the Torah
It's a core Biblical concept so that would be logical cf Samaritan concept of 'favor' and 'disfavor'
All Israel during this time enjoyed the ‘Rehuta’, the favor of Shema. When Israel
violated Shema’s Law, ‘Fanuta’ (disfavor) took place and his grace was hidden from Israel.
From this period on marks the beginning to the conflict between the people that
worshipped on Mount Gerizim and those who left to worship at Shilo. The division of
Israel can be seen as violating the covenant that Shema had established with them. For all
of Israel no longer stood as one. They did not put away the evil from among them. http://shomron0.tripod.com/educationalguide.pdf
The difficulty is in reconciling why the return of God (= Jesus) was promoted by the sins of the nation but Jesus appears entirely merciful in his demeanor. Why isn't Jesus angry, vengeful etc. if he is god (which he certainly was for Christians) and these (the times he returns) are the end times? That's the rub, my friend. Why is Jesus such a nice guy?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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