How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:58 pm

Many things in the gospels and early Church history are the kind of thing that someone living in the 1st or early 2nd c. could find out, but someone living 400 years later would not. The New Testament is written for a 1st-2nd c. audience. Someone living in the 1st c. could check up on the facts for themselves too in controversial areas. For example, how much of the story of Jesus did the pharisees believe was true? How many more appearances of Jesus did the apostles claim there were, eg. the appearance to James, the appearance to the Five Hundred, etc.? Why did Judas betray, when did the story about the virgin birth start, what exactly were these appearances of Jesus really like, how much did Pilate really care about executing Jesus? Did Joseph of Arimathea exist? What were Jesus' years like before getting baptized by John?

You have the fact that the first century record would be more helpful if it preserved direct accounts, like Roman or Jewish records. Understandably, some of them got destroyed in 70-135 AD in the wars, and other records physically decomposed after 1000 years or so.

And then you have records that normally we would expect to get passed down but somehow disappeared,
like Gospel of the Hebrews , since it was used by Jerome and quoted over the next 800 years or so. Another is the Preaching of Peter, which was accepted by Clement Alexandrine. These are both 1st to early 2nd c. works. And besides them are the writings by Papias and Hegesippus on church history, which could be quite helpful. How could such major documents have ended up being so fragmentary? Did someone intentionally suppress them because they had heretical information? That seems to have been the case with Gospel of the Hebrews, according to one story about Pat. Cyril Jerusalemite.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:19 pm

I do think that Paul knew the story of the Virgin birth, as he writes in Galatians 4:4:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
There does not seem to me to be much point in Paul writing those underlined words unless he is referring to birth from a mother in particular, otherwise, why not say "born of a human father and mother"? It seems that by specifying "a woman" and not adding "a human father", and by calling God the father, he is alluding to this idea that God was the Father and Mary was the mother.
By adding "under the law", Paul is addressing an issue that someone could worry that Jesus' birth for some reason was not lawful, which would be the case if she had sex out of wedlock.

I would add by the way, that due to the Chiastic structure and parallel between Mary Magdalene (finding an empty tomb due to a miraculous resurrection) and Mary of Nazareth (having Jesus in a cave due to a miraculous birth), that Mark and for that matter the other gospels at least allude to the virgin birth concept.

Still, there is something curious. Paul complains in 1 Timothy 1 about people who "occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations". The genealogies were at the beginning of two gospels and are quite long. I don't know what other genealogies Paul could have in mind. And what exactly would the "myths" be? Does he mean myths related to the Virgin birth? Ascension of Isaiah says that Jesus was delivered after only 2 months in the womb and without labor pains. But it doesn't narrate a story about the wise men, the inn, et. al. either, and says Joseph and Mary were from Bethlehem. Perhaps there were different stories/myths related to the virgin birth floating around in the 1st century, even if Paul and the gospels at least infer that there was a virgin birth?

It's the kind of thing that would be helpful for someone in the 1st c. to find out. He could go to Bethlehem or the area of Nazareth and find out what people thought about Mary's marriage, who was Joseph the carpenter, etc.

It's reasonable to imagine that Mary or Joseph were descended from David and as such were living in Bethlehem and then fled to Nazareth because Herod was maniacal and had a practice of killing potential rivals (including IIRC children who could grow up as potential contenders). It's also reasonable to think that Mary had sex out of wedlock and married an elderly Joseph as Plan B. I say elderly, since that could explain why he wasn't in the picture 30 years later when Jesus had his ministry.

If you check Matthew 13 though, it says:
“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?"

It makes it sound like if you went and checked with the locals, they would think that Joseph was Jesus' natural father. Now, conceivably, Joseph and Mary could just have told people that as a cover story. But nonetheless, that is the story you would get if you checked with the locals. Probably the only way to check for sure would be to check with Mary or her closest friends themselves. But let's say that Mary tells you that it was a natural birth? Then it would be an interesting dillemma. Conceivably she could just be hiding this Truth out of fear of reprisal. However, in various gospel places she is portrayed as a believer in Jesus' divinity, like when she asks him to do a miracle at Cana.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 6830
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:05 pm

rakovsky wrote:I do think that Paul knew the story of the Virgin birth, as he writes in Galatians 4:4:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
There does not seem to me to be much point in Paul writing those underlined words unless he is referring to birth from a mother in particular, otherwise, why not say "born of a human father and mother"?
Because "born of (a) woman" was a common expression in antiquity. It had nothing to do with absent fathers or virgin births:

Job 14.1: For a mortal born of woman is short-lived, and full of wrath.

Job 15.14: What is a mortal that he should be blameless, or one born of woman that he would be just?

Job 25.4: How then is a mortal just before God? Or who born of woman can cleanse himself?

Sirach 10.18: Arrogance was not created for men, nor wrathful rage for the brood of women.

Euripides, Bacchae, lines 987-990: Who then bore him? For he was not produced from the blood of women, but is the offspring of some lioness or of Libyan gorgons.

1QS 11.21a: As what shall one born of woman be considered in your presence?

1QHa 5.20b: What is one born of woman among all your fearful works?

Matthew 11.11: Amen, I say to you, there is not greater than John the baptist among those born of women, but the lesser in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.

Luke 7.28: I say to you, no one is greater than John among those born of women, but the lesser in the kingdom of God is greater than him.

Thomas 15: When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves onto your faces and worship him; that one is your father.

Josephus, Antiquities 16.11.5 §382: Will you slay these two young men, born of a queenly woman, who are accomplished with every virtue in the highest degree, and leave yourself destitute in your old age, but exposed to one son who has very ill managed the hopes you have given him, and to relations whose death you have so often resolved on yourself?

Josephus, Wars 4.8.3 §460: The report is that this fountain at the beginning caused, not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but also of the offspring of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever, but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor.

The expression simply means "human" or "mortal".

Ben.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 3566
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by neilgodfrey » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:13 pm

rakovsky -- every line of your posts is either a logical fallacy or factual error/ignorance. You are doing nothing but rationalising fantasy scenarios to support your religious beliefs. Your approach has nothing in common with the way serious historians frame historical questions and undertake an analysis of the data to see what can be used as relevant evidence to test a hypothesis. Your approach is all delusional rationalisation of mostly misunderstood data. Circular reasoning will prove what you want to prove every time.
vridar.org Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

iskander
Posts: 2091
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:38 pm

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by iskander » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:33 am

rakovsky wrote:I do think that Paul knew the story of the Virgin birth, as he writes in Galatians 4:4:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
There does not seem to me to be much point in Paul writing those underlined words unless he is referring to birth from a mother in particular, otherwise, why not say "born of a human father and mother"? It seems that by specifying "a woman" and not adding "a human father", and by calling God the father, he is alluding to this idea that God was the Father and Mary was the mother.
By adding "under the law", Paul is addressing an issue that someone could worry that Jesus' birth for some reason was not lawful, which would be the case if she had sex out of wedlock.

I would add by the way, that due to the Chiastic structure and parallel between Mary Magdalene (finding an empty tomb due to a miraculous resurrection) and Mary of Nazareth (having Jesus in a cave due to a miraculous birth), that Mark and for that matter the other gospels at least allude to the virgin birth concept.

Still, there is something curious. Paul complains in 1 Timothy 1 about people who "occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations". The genealogies were at the beginning of two gospels and are quite long. I don't know what other genealogies Paul could have in mind. And what exactly would the "myths" be? Does he mean myths related to the Virgin birth? Ascension of Isaiah says that Jesus was delivered after only 2 months in the womb and without labor pains. But it doesn't narrate a story about the wise men, the inn, et. al. either, and says Joseph and Mary were from Bethlehem. Perhaps there were different stories/myths related to the virgin birth floating around in the 1st century, even if Paul and the gospels at least infer that there was a virgin birth?

It's the kind of thing that would be helpful for someone in the 1st c. to find out. He could go to Bethlehem or the area of Nazareth and find out what people thought about Mary's marriage, who was Joseph the carpenter, etc.

It's reasonable to imagine that Mary or Joseph were descended from David and as such were living in Bethlehem and then fled to Nazareth because Herod was maniacal and had a practice of killing potential rivals (including IIRC children who could grow up as potential contenders). It's also reasonable to think that Mary had sex out of wedlock and married an elderly Joseph as Plan B. I say elderly, since that could explain why he wasn't in the picture 30 years later when Jesus had his ministry.

If you check Matthew 13 though, it says:
“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother’s name Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?"

It makes it sound like if you went and checked with the locals, they would think that Joseph was Jesus' natural father. Now, conceivably, Joseph and Mary could just have told people that as a cover story. But nonetheless, that is the story you would get if you checked with the locals. Probably the only way to check for sure would be to check with Mary or her closest friends themselves. But let's say that Mary tells you that it was a natural birth? Then it would be an interesting dillemma. Conceivably she could just be hiding this Truth out of fear of reprisal. However, in various gospel places she is portrayed as a believer in Jesus' divinity, like when she asks him to do a miracle at Cana.
If you are still looking for another interpretation Beowulf offered this one:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=427
beowulf wrote:Galatians 4:4
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law"



Jesus is sent by God.

He is therefore very special, but he is not an angel or a spirit, but a man born of a woman like any other man

Jesus is a son of God, loved by God like a son and given the authority to do and change things

He is not an outsider, but one born under the same tradition and obligations as any other man: when he changes things he will do it with knowledge and out of love for Judaic and Gentiles alike.

Modern example:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, Martin Luther, born of a woman, born under the law

User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:34 am

iskander wrote: Jesus is sent by God.

He is therefore very special, but he is not an angel or a spirit, but a man born of a woman like any other man

Jesus is a son of God, loved by God like a son and given the authority to do and change things

He is not an outsider, but one born under the same tradition and obligations as any other man: when he changes things he will do it with knowledge and out of love for Judaic and Gentiles alike.

Modern example:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, Martin Luther, born of a woman, born under the law
Thanks for sharing.
I think it's one of those cases where one cannot prove it absolutely as a matter of logic, however, I see in this an allusion to the virgin birth.
For example, it's true that Martin Luther was born of a woman, so that saying that some man is born from a woman doesn't absolutely necessarily mean anything unusual at all.

Still, I see in that a hint. What is the point of saying Martin Luther was born of a human woman, as opposed to saying Martin Luther was born to a man and a woman? What Paul is saying is that Christ had God for his father and Mary as his mother. Well, what about his human father? Why is a human father not in that scheme?

It seems to me that along with Paul's various claims of Jesus' pre-incarnation existence, he is also alluding to Jesus' virgin birth.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:03 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
rakovsky wrote:I do think that Paul knew the story of the Virgin birth, as he writes in Galatians 4:4:
"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
There does not seem to me to be much point in Paul writing those underlined words unless he is referring to birth from a mother in particular, otherwise, why not say "born of a human father and mother"?
Because "born of (a) woman" was a common expression in antiquity. It had nothing to do with absent fathers or virgin births:

Job 14.1: For a mortal born of woman is short-lived, and full of wrath.

Job 15.14: What is a mortal that he should be blameless, or one born of woman that he would be just?

Job 25.4: How then is a mortal just before God? Or who born of woman can cleanse himself?

Sirach 10.18: Arrogance was not created for men, nor wrathful rage for the brood of women.

Euripides, Bacchae, lines 987-990: Who then bore him? For he was not produced from the blood of women, but is the offspring of some lioness or of Libyan gorgons.

1QS 11.21a: As what shall one born of woman be considered in your presence?

1QHa 5.20b: What is one born of woman among all your fearful works?

Matthew 11.11: Amen, I say to you, there is not greater than John the baptist among those born of women, but the lesser in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than him.

Luke 7.28: I say to you, no one is greater than John among those born of women, but the lesser in the kingdom of God is greater than him.

Thomas 15: When you see one who was not born of woman, prostrate yourselves onto your faces and worship him; that one is your father.

Josephus, Antiquities 16.11.5 §382: Will you slay these two young men, born of a queenly woman, who are accomplished with every virtue in the highest degree, and leave yourself destitute in your old age, but exposed to one son who has very ill managed the hopes you have given him, and to relations whose death you have so often resolved on yourself?

Josephus, Wars 4.8.3 §460: The report is that this fountain at the beginning caused, not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but also of the offspring of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever, but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor.

The expression simply means "human" or "mortal".

Ben.
I am familiar with these expressions. They are evidence that when Paul speaks of Jesus born of a woman, that is all he means. Still, it does not solve the issue for me, because the root factor for me is different, and is not just the expression itself.. Paul is setting up a paradigm and direct juxtaposition - Jesus is born of a heavenly father on one hand and a mortal human mother on the other. Within that paradigm, the question arises, what about the father?

Well, in Matthew's gospel, local people say things like Isn't this the carpenter's son?, suggesting that he didn't seem to be anyone special growing up. Well in Matthew's eyes Jesus really was someone special.
54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[h] Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
~Matthew 13
In asking where he got the powers and whether his father was the carpenter and his mother's name Mary, and whether these are his brothers and sisters, Matthew is implying hidden answers to these questions.
Matthew's hidden answers are that the wisdom and power are from God, that God is his real father, that his mother Mary's real name is something different, and that his brothers and sisters are those who "do the will of my father who is in heaven" (as he explains later).

Hence, Mary is really his mother, but she has some secret name, whereas Joseph is not really his father, he has a secret father. However, the local people don't believe any of these things that he is teaching them through his allusions.

This passage of Matthew 13 implying that the carpenter is not Jesus' "real" father and that the locals just think this shows up in Mark 6 too.

Additionally, the profession of a "carpenter" could itself be an allusion to something, just like a "fisherman" (an apostle) is. A fisherman is an allusion to catching people (fishers of men). A carpenter builds houses, so perhaps the "carpenter" profession is a reference to building God's house, like the Temple. Jesus talked about the wisdom of Solomon, who built the Temple, and Joseph descended from Solomon adopted Jesus, making him an adopted son of Solomon on Joseph's line.

So to get back to Paul's expression, woman bears children, it's true, whereas a father begets them. To say "born of a woman", as opposed to born of a goddess, suggests human birth. However, Paul is not just saying Jesus was born of a woman. He is making a juxtaposition where Jesus has God as his father and a human woman as his mother. This paradigm fits within pagan motifs by the way where a hero like Hercules was born of a God like Zeus and a human mortal woman.

Further, this motif was actually not totally limited to paganism as is commonly expected. In Genesis we read about the "gods" having sex with human women and giving birth to the "giants" (Nephilim?). In the beginning of Genesis we also read a curious passage about the "seed of the woman" having enmity with the serpeant. What is curious about this is that women do not have seed. I would be interested to see if the Bible ever else refers to a woman as having seed? I know that seed can be an expression for descendants (eg. the seed of Abraham), so I wouldn't be totally surprised.

To say Jesus was born under the Law/Torah in connection with Paul's paradigm of God-father Woman-mother is also curious. Jewish males are technically not born into the Mosaic covenant, they only enter it on the 8th day circumcision, I think. Zeus having sex with a human mother would not be lawful. However, one could conceive of the holy spirit prompting Mary to give birth virginally as something not involving unlawful sex. He would not have what is called an "illegitimate birth", but a lawful one.
Last edited by rakovsky on Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

iskander
Posts: 2091
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:38 pm

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by iskander » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:07 am

rakovsky wrote:
iskander wrote: Jesus is sent by God.

He is therefore very special, but he is not an angel or a spirit, but a man born of a woman like any other man

Jesus is a son of God, loved by God like a son and given the authority to do and change things

He is not an outsider, but one born under the same tradition and obligations as any other man: when he changes things he will do it with knowledge and out of love for Judaic and Gentiles alike.

Modern example:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, Martin Luther, born of a woman, born under the law
Thanks for sharing.
I think it's one of those cases where one cannot prove it absolutely as a matter of logic, however, I see in this an allusion to the virgin birth.
For example, it's true that Martin Luther was born of a woman, so that saying that some man is born from a woman doesn't absolutely necessarily mean anything unusual at all.

Still, I see in that a hint. What is the point of saying Martin Luther was born of a human woman, as opposed to saying Martin Luther was born to a man and a woman? What Paul is saying is that Christ had God for his father and Mary as his mother. Well, what about his human father? Why is a human father not in that scheme?

It seems to me that along with Paul's various claims of Jesus' pre-incarnation existence, he is also alluding to Jesus' virgin birth.
Thank you,
Jesus is presented as the saviour who is the son of God. The example of Martin Luther and later of Ghandi were used to say that in 4: 4 Paul declares Jesus to be a Jewish man, as Luther was a Catholic man and as Ghandi was a subject of the British Empire.

Paul says the same about Jesus in Romans 9 : 4-5 as he does in Gal 4 : 4.
Romans 9:4

They are descendants of Israel, chosen to be God's sons; theirs is the glory of the divine presence, theirs the covenants, the law, the temple worship, and the promises.

Romans 9:5
The patriarchs are theirs, and from them by natural descent -- kata sarka, sexual intercourse-- came the Messiah. May God, supreme above all , be blessed forever! Amen.


In Judaism the messiah is ( or could b) a pre-existing man of flesh and bone, created by sexual intercourse, like every man and woman .

User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:18 am

iskander wrote: Romans 9:5
The patriarchs are theirs, and from them by natural descent -- kata sarka, sexual intercourse-- came the Messiah. May God, supreme above all , be blessed forever! Amen.
Kata sarka means according to the flesh. In the patristic teaching, Jesus is from the patriarchs by the flesh through Mary.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

User avatar
rakovsky
Posts: 1175
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:07 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: How did early Christian texts just go missing?

Post by rakovsky » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:28 am

I am reading the possible first century Christian works and the virgin birth teaching occasionally comes up. The latest two works I am reading about, the Odes of Solomon and Ascension of Isaiah, go into this teaching, for example. (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2786) I think it was not just something inserted by Constantine in the 4th c. It looks like it was already one of the Christian beliefs in the time of the apostles.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

Post Reply