From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Giuseppe
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From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 8:31 am

So Stevan Davies:
I propose that the following occurred:
A: Before 25 C.E. there was a network of communities stretching from Jerusalem to Damascus whose religious ideas are to some degree preserved for us through some of the hymns they chanted, the Odes of Solomon. Those communities believed that humans could be transformed into Christ or the Son of God through an experience understood in terms of the Spirit that we can understand in terms of the generic category of spirit possession.

B: Jesus of Nazareth was affiliated with or influenced by one of those communities. He came to understand himself as one transformed into Son of God and Christ through an experience understood in terms of the Spirit. He was rather widely regarded as one transformed into Son of God or the Holy Hone of God and thereby was able to have a brief but very successful career as an exorcist-healer and to gather a cadre of associates who regarded him as being, uniquely, Christ and Son of God.

C: The communities of Odes Judaism were persecuted through Judean police power and Paul carried out such persecution. However, Paul, to his surprise, spontaneously experienced what those communities advocated, believed that the Son of God had been revealed in him, and he began to spread their form of religion into Gentile areas. Paul understood the Odes religion in reference to the much more public career of Jesus of Nazareth, whose associates identified him as crucified and risen Christ. Paul conflated the Odes religion with the idea that Jesus is Christ to produce a form of Christianity that offered people the possibility of identification through the Spirit with Jesus Christ crucified.

D: Jesus' associates, who eventually came to understand him to have been the unique Son of God and to have been the only Christ, initially had ''pentecostal'' experiences of Spirit possession that were thought to derive from Jesus Christ now in heaven with God. The success of Christianity in spreading throughout the Roman Empire was based largely on the success of Christian missionaries in inducing Spirit possession in people in diverse areas, presumably through methods similar to those that are utilized by Pentecostal missionaries today.

E: Johannine Christians believed that possession by the spirit Paralcete would transform them so that they might believe that Jesus dwells in them and that they can speak words of the Spirit, understood to be Jesus'words recalled to them. Their experiences meant to them that they are now the presence of the Son of God, Jesus, on the earth; it is possible that some of the communities of Odes Judaism became JOhannine Christian Churches. The Johannine community may be the principal form in which Odes Judaism continued to exist after the rise of Christianity oriented to Jesus of Nazareth.
(Stevan Davies, On the Odes of Solomon as Evidence for a Pre-Christianity, in Spirit Possession and the Origins of Christianity, p. 281-282, my red)

I see that Gordon Rylands shared the same ideas of Stevan Davies about the Odes of Solomon and the origins of Johannine communities (more in general, of the Christian gnosticism).
Where they diverge is in the part put by me in red.

You can replace it, for a good understanding of Rylands's view, with the following words of Robert M. Price:
Does not the phenomenon of the Ebionites demand that there had been an historical Jesus? They speak of Jesus as the True Prophet, lately come to reveal the false pericopae of the Torah. Was he not, then, a recent figure? It is always possible that they envisioned him as speaking prophetically through their own teacher of righteousness, not incarnate as a separate individual. But essentially, ”Jesus” functioned for them as a personification of the “law-reviser,” the new exegesis of their sect, just as Moses had long functioned (fictively) as Law personified for other Jews. Why the name “Jesus,” then? I cannot help suspecting that their “Jesus” was originally supposed to be Joshua, immediate successor of Moses, whom the Book of Joshua shows making a covenant for Israel, not merely making a copy of the old one (24:25-26). He would have made his own Torah shortly after Moses. The “Jesus” of the Ebionites would, then, have been the Old Testament Joshua, successor to Moses. Subsequently, at the point of federating with the other sects of the Gnostic Jordan Schwärmerei, they simply identified their “Jesus” with that of their Christian brethren. In fact, what the heresiologists say of the ostensible/inferred founder, “Ebion,” may have been true of the one they claimed as their founder, Jesus! He didn’t exist but was just a name for a new set of scriptural exegeses.
(Robert M. Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle, p.152, note 57)

Under a mythicist paradigm, the Pillars were the first ones to identify the mythical suffering Christ of the so-called (by Davies) ''Odes Judaism'' (named ''pre-christian gnosticism'' by Rylands) with the name Joshua (in honour of the biblical Joshua, on the vawe of the popular myth of (the victorious) Joshua redivivus behind the military hopes of the various Theudas, the Egyptian Prophet, etc).

In this sense the Pillars were already starting the gradual process of euhemerization of the original Christ myth, by dubbing that Christ as ''Joshua''.

This would explain why Paul was at the same time before and after the Pillars.

Paul was before the Pillars because he hallucinated originally only a mythical Christ (the same one of the Odes Judaism), maybe even before the Pillars's hallucination of Joshua Christ.

But Paul was after the Pillars because he coopted from them the idea that the Christ is (the biblical) Joshua.

Therefore the Pillars could claim priority on Paul only regarding the naming of Christ as Joshua, but not regarding the hallucination of the suffering Christ (of the Odes Judaism), a Christ whom Paul could ''see'' entirely alone without the help of the Pillars.

In some way, the Pillars were able to make Paul believe that his gnostic Christ was the same Joshua Christ preached by them.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

lsayre
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by lsayre » Fri May 12, 2017 8:52 am

Quite interesting! Alternatively, Paul was able to make the Pillars believe that their Joshua Christ was in actuality his Gnostic Christ. Either that, or they mutually agreed to revile each other and go separate ways so as not to trip over each other ever again going forward, albeit with a hand shake send off.
Last edited by lsayre on Fri May 12, 2017 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

davidbrainerd
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri May 12, 2017 8:53 am

Are the Odes ever quoted in the New Testament? Because if not, the theory seems completely impossible.

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Giuseppe
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 9:05 am

Are the Odes ever quoted in the New Testament? Because if not, the theory seems completely impossible.
The basical thing in common between Paul and the Odes are the possession experience, prof Davies docet.

In Gal 1-2, we see that Paul had a possession experience, ''his Son in me'', who can only be the Christ of the Odes Judaism:

1 Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the members of God’s family who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

10 Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.


Those who ''pervert the gospel of Christ'' are, in the eyes of Paul, not only the Judaizers ''sent by James'' among the Galatians, but also the followers of a mythical Christ not (still) named ''Joshua'' and enemies of the Paul's (and Pillars's before him) innovation of naming that Christ as Joshua.

The preachers of the Christ of the Odes Judaism would have seen the pauline news about their Christ named Joshua as the absurd claim made by some human leader - the Josephian Joshua-emulator of the moment - to be himself the Christ, and in this sense Paul could appear as someone ''sent from men'' and not by God.

But Paul corrected that false view: Paul confirmed that he is sent not by men but by Joshua Christ, therefore implying that Joshua Christ is not a man.

The members of the Odes Judaism can be secured by Paul: Joshua Christ is not the monstrous euhemerization of their mythical Christ, but he is very the same perfect celestial Christ ''seen'' by them in their dreams, visions, hallucinations, spiritual possessions. The news by Pillars and by Paul are only that JOSHUA is the Christ. But Joshua was not a historical being, in order that he can be the Christ without the risk of blasphemy by Paul.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Giuseppe
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 9:29 am

Quite interesting! Alternatively, Paul was able to make the Pillars believe that their Joshua Christ was in actuality his Gnostic Christ.
Yes, I agree tht both the possibilities can work. A great merit of prof Bob Price is that he captured all these possibilities by simply writing:
Subsequently, at the point of federating with the other sects of the Gnostic Jordan Schwärmerei, they simply identified their “Jesus” with that of their Christian brethren.
(see source of the quote above)

What is necessary to know here is that we have a larger set of only-Christ preachers (Odes Judaism), one including a more little set of Jesus-Christ preachers (The Pillars and Paul). The former set existed already before the latter set. And the entire mission of Paul was essentially to make coincide strictly the two sets, persuading all the followers of the suffering Christ that their Christ is JOSHUA.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

davidbrainerd
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri May 12, 2017 9:32 am

Giuseppe wrote: But Paul corrected that false view: Paul confirmed that he is sent not by men but by Joshua Christ, therefore implying that Joshua Christ is not a man.
It seems more likely he means he's no longer a man. Highly exalted, henceforth know we no longer him after the flesh, etc. It would be impossible to build a case that Paul didn't think Jesus either had been a man or appeared as one, pretended to be one, likeness of sinful flesh etc.

I only see 8 explicit references to the Messiah in the odes, and only one is even interesting, in Ode 24, about a dove flying on the Messiah's head. Which means either the odes are written after the synoptics, or believers in the odes were more interested in historicizing their messiah than this theory allows. But I think the former, i.e. the odes are written to look pre-Christian to be extra OT confirmation of the Christ of the gospels for some sect.

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Giuseppe
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 9:44 am

So Davies:
As discussed above, there is no mention of Jesus in the Odes anywhere, no mention of the crucifixion anywhere, not one saying of Jesus or miracle story about him found in any gospel is referenced in any of the Odes. When the Odes speak of mythological activities of the savior, they are activities that have never been connected with Jesus. For example, the Odes' motif of escaping imprisonment and breaking shackles of iron is not mentioned in any account of Jesus' life. In a manner not characteristic of Christianity the speaker in Ode 22 is given the power to destroy the seven headed serpent, as well as the power to free others from bondage, as we can see in Lattke's translation [...] Stories like this are simply not connected to the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth in any way. They are stories where the human speaker and a divine personage shift identities back and forth. The divine person has scattered the enemies and adversaries of the human speaker who then receives authority to release people from bonds (a standard role of the savior in the Odes).
(ibid., p. 257-258)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 9:55 am

I only see 8 explicit references to the Messiah in the odes, and only one is even interesting, in Ode 24, about a dove flying on the Messiah's head. Which means either the odes are written after the synoptics
The Davies's answer:
As for the dove, we hear in Ode 24:1-2 (Lattke): ''The dove flew onto the had of our Lord Messiah, because he was her Head. And she cooed on/over him, and her voice was heard...'' This might, at a stretch, appear to have something to do with the account in Mark 1:10 but as the passage continues on we quickly enter wholly alien territory (3-4), ''and the inhabitants were afraid, and the sojourners were disturbed. The birds gave up their wing [beat], and all the creeping things died in their hole'', that soon becomes cosmic mythos, (5-6), ''and the primal deeps were opened and covered. And they sought the Lord like those who are about to give birth, and/but he was not given to them for food, because he was not their own'', One does not have to raise the question of what kind of Christian theology identifies the Messiah as the head of the Spirit (assuming that the Odes'dove is symbolic of the Spirit, which is very far from obvious) to realize that the conjunction of the words ''dove'' and ''Messiah'' here have nothing whatsoever to do with Mark's scene of the baptism of Jesus by John.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Giuseppe
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Fri May 12, 2017 10:02 am

It seems more likely he means he's no longer a man. Highly exalted, henceforth know we no longer him after the flesh, etc. It would be impossible to build a case that Paul didn't think Jesus either had been a man or appeared as one, pretended to be one, likeness of sinful flesh etc.
My speculation here is not that Joshua Christ was not a man for Paul, but that he was not an earthly man, as the claim ''Joshua is the Christ'' could make believe to Galatians (who knew only the celestial Christ but not Joshua Christ, since they were followers of the pre-christian Odes Judaism).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri May 12, 2017 10:03 am

Bolding in the quotes is mine.
Giuseppe wrote:So Davies:
As discussed above, there is no mention of Jesus in the Odes anywhere, no mention of the crucifixion anywhere, not one saying of Jesus or miracle story about him found in any gospel is referenced in any of the Odes.
Ode 24, dove on his head. From the baptism by John.

Continuing with the Davies quote:
When the Odes speak of mythological activities of the savior, they are activities that have never been connected with Jesus. For example, the Odes' motif of escaping imprisonment and breaking shackles of iron is not mentioned in any account of Jesus' life.
Sounds just like the old church hymn from my childhood, "Up from the Grave He Arose" (lyrics http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh322.sht ), which includes:

"Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!"

Tell me again how escaping from imprisonment in bars or shackles has nothing to do with Jesus. Its an obvious metaphor for resurrection.
In a manner not characteristic of Christianity the speaker in Ode 22 is given the power to destroy the seven headed serpent, as well as the power to free others from bondage, as we can see in Lattke's translation
Serpent, devil. Freeing people from imprisonment, descent into hades to release the OT fathers. Davies seems completely ignorant of anything but maybe the most dumbed down modern Christianity, like maybe Episcopalianism. I mean seriously, he can't see this stuff?
[...] Stories like this are simply not connected to the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth in any way. They are stories where the human speaker and a divine personage shift identities back and forth.
Like Psalm 2? Purposeful emulation to keep up the OT book ruse.
The divine person has scattered the enemies and adversaries of the human speaker
Emulation of Psalms.
who then receives authority to release people from bonds (a standard role of the savior in the Odes).
Bonds of sin, bonds of death, obvious metaphor.

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