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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Ben C. Smith
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun May 14, 2017 6:29 am

Incidentally, Giuseppe, if the Odes are early, and if the absence of the name Jesus in them is significant (that is, if it means they did not know of a Jesus Christ figure), then it would modify my mythicohistorical/hybrid approach slightly. Basically, it would mean that the servant/slave scriptures were applied to Christ before the name Jesus got attached, whereas I as assuming that this was done in one fell swoop, as it were. It would mean that there was a late stage of my section about the origins of the mythical Christ, a stage during which the crucifixion was already part of the Christ theory (since the Odes make reference at least twice to the cross), before the Yehoshua cult stuff came on board (bringing with it the name of Jesus). What was simply a death/execution in the Yehoshua myth became specifically a crucifixion when combined with this Christ cult thread.

I am still interested, though, in dating the Odes, if possible. I think it is methodologically unsound to spot a correspondence with something from the gospels (the dove, the virgin) and then blithely assume that it is drawing from those gospels; one has to prove, not only the connection, but also the direction of influence, and that can be very tricky. But the same holds true in reverse; assuming that the Odes came first and that the gospels drew from them... well, one has to prove that direction. What can you say in support of that direction of dependence? Why must the Odes be earlier than the gospels?
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Sun May 14, 2017 8:24 am

I can only quote from the article of prof Davies, Ben, but I fear that there is so much in the article that I cannot copy all (and especially the more strong arguments).

Perhaps - and I should point out this ''perhaps'' to be not so reductive - the more strong argument of Davies is the following:

ARGUMENT FROM THE IMPROBABILITY OF A DEPENDENCE 1 FROM N AS OPPOSED TO A DEPENDENCE N FROM 1.
Lattke writes that ''the dependence of the Odes of Solomon on - or their relation to - the Johannine corpus (especially Jon and 1 John) has always been highlighted. But it only became clear with the completion of this commentary that in addition to the pseudo-and deutero-Pauline letters (especially Colossians, Ephesians, and 1 Timothy) Hebrews, and the letters ascribed to Peter (1 Peter), all seven of the authentic Pauline epistles, the Synoptic Gospels (especially Matthew), and possibly Revelation had all exercted a quite surprising influence in the shaping of the Odes of Solomon''. All that, and yet there is not one quotation or clear allusion from any of those texts in any of the Odes!
[...]
Professor Lattke is mistaken when he reasons from the similarities he finds between one set of documents and another that one set therefore pre-existed and exerted a causal influence on the other. I see no reason to conclude from ideological and phraseological similarities that a whole host of New Testament texts ''exerted a quite surprising influence in the shaping of the Odes of Solomon''. On the contrary, I think it is much more likely that the Odes of Solomon exerted quite a surprising influence in the shaping of the New Testament. I mean only that ideas and phrases found in the Odes of Solomon wer written before the time when similar ideas and phrases were written into the New Testament, and the community behind the Odes of Solomon was in existence before there were any Christian communities oriented to Jesus of Nazareth. I have no reason to believe that any New Testament author had read any of the Odes, or that any author of the Odes had ever read any of the New Testament.
The Odes of Solomon, I believe, came first; the writing in the New Testament was later, perhaps a generation or two later, I believe that the ancients who placed the Odes of Solomon alongside the Psalms of Solomon and who included both the texts in their lists of Hebrew Bible apocryphal books had it right. I believe that the reason Jesus of Nazareth is not known by name, or by quotation, or by deed, or by stories of crucifixion and resurrection anywhere in the Odes of Solomon is because they were written before the time of Jesus' ministry. I think that the Odes come from the period 50 B.C.E. - 25 C.E., roughly the time that many of the Dead Sea scrolls were produced and not far from the period that is commonly assigned to the Psalms of Solomon.
(p. 270-271)

ARGUMENT FROM THE SAME TYPE OF SPIRITUAL POSSESSION EXPERIENCE:
To experience, as Odes 32 puts it, ''light from Him who dwells in them'' or to receive the glory that God gave to Jesus, as John 17:22 phrases it, cannot be two different things from two unrelated forms of first century Judaism. They are, I think, substantially and essentially the same thing. But while the Gospel of John focuses on Jesus of Nazareth, the Odes never do. Therefore, I think, the Odes came first and then Jesus, and then Paul's Gospel, John's Gospel, and the religion of Christianity.
(p. 281)

David Aune believes that the Odes of Solomon are the sort of hymns Paul describes with the term odai pneumatikai or ''spiritual songs'' in Col. 3:16 and that ''a member of the Pauline circle connects this term even more closely with inspired utterance: ''Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms andhymns and spiritual odes'' (Eph. 5:18b-19). He believes that such odes were sung during ecstatic congregational worship...
(p. 266)

ARGUMENT FROM THE COMMON EXPERIENCE OF PRE-PAULINE PERSECUTION:
In the Odes of Solomon we may hear the feelings of those who were persecuted by the likes of Paul. For example, in Ode 28 the speaker says,

(p. 275)
When God revealed his son in Paul the first thing Paul did was to go to Arabia. [...] This does not indicate to me that Paul had any significant interest in Jesus' life or teaching, quite the opposite. [...] Bear in mind that all Paul knows of Christianity at this point is antagonistic information that supports the view that it should be persecuted. That is not nothing; people who persecute movements have some idea of what it is they are persecuting. But if the network of churches that Paul persecuted was based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and if God revealed His Son in Paul so that Paul now affirmed that he persecuted the true Churches of God, he would have gone first to Jerusalem, or Capernaum, and not to Arabia. However, if the Odes represent a form of Christianity without a focus on Jesus, then Paul could begin to preach what he formerly condemned without thinking that he needed to find out more about Jesus. In that case, though, what would motivate Paul to speak so fervently about Jesus Christ and him Crucified? Paul clearly separates two things we put togheter. About the life, personality, miracolous deeds and wise inspired saynings of Jesus he evidently cares nothing of all. He seeks no information about such things and nothing about them is ever mentioned in his letters, but about Jesus the crucified and risen Christ he cares a great deal.
(p. 276-277)

Davies appeals also to arguments shown by Jack T Sanders, The New Testament Christological Hymns: Their Historical Background, Cambridge UK 1971. Sanders puts the Odes in pre-Christian Judaism because his authors shared the same old myth of the ''redeemed redeemer''. A clue of this is that the term ''Lord'' found often in the Odes comes from another religious tradition than Judaism, the worship of Adon/Tammuz. And not coincidentially, Paul was operative in Damascus and Antioch.
David Aune writes, in connection to Ode 38:1 specifically [...] that the mention of a chariot within a context where a trip to the celestial Paradise is in view calls to mind Gershom Scholem's claim that Paul's use of the term 'Paradise' in II Cor. 12:3 togheter with an experience of mystical transport puts the apostle of the Gentiles in the tradition of Jewish Merkabha (''Chariot'') mysticism. The Antiquity of this variety of Jewish mysticism is attested by the discovery of the socalled Angelic Liturgy (4QS1) at Qumran...
(p. 262)
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 » Sun May 14, 2017 8:34 am

before the Yehoshua cult stuff came on board (bringing with it the name of Jesus).
Ben, even assuming Davies's view about the Odes, do you mean still, for ''Joshua cult'', a cult of a dying and rising YHWH as originally distinct from the dying and rising Christ ?

Or do you simply assume the popular hope in a military Joshua redivivus (one victorious but not dying) ?
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 Ben C. Smith » Sun May 14, 2017 8:41 am

Giuseppe wrote:I can only quote from the article of prof Davies, Ben, but I fear that there is so much in the article that I cannot copy all (and especially the more strong arguments).
Okay, thanks. I will hopefully be getting the book soon anyway.
David Aune writes, in connection to Ode 38:1 specifically [...] that the mention of a chariot within a context where a trip to the celestial Paradise is in view calls to mind Gershom Scholem's claim that Paul's use of the term 'Paradise' in II Cor. 12:3 togheter with an experience of mystical transport puts the apostle of the Gentiles in the tradition of Jewish Merkabha (''Chariot'') mysticism. The Antiquity of this variety of Jewish mysticism is attested by the discovery of the socalled Angelic Liturgy (4QS1) at Qumran...
(p. 262)
Martínez seems to list that scroll as 4Q403, 4QShirShabbd, and 4QSerek Shirot; and he lists J. Strugnell, The Angelic Liturgy at Qumrân, in the bibliography section.
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun May 14, 2017 8:54 am

Giuseppe wrote:
before the Yehoshua cult stuff came on board (bringing with it the name of Jesus).
Ben, even assuming Davies's view about the Odes, do you mean still, for ''Joshua cult'', a cult of a dying and rising YHWH as originally distinct from the dying and rising Christ ?
I am using the term "Yehoshua cult" to indicate the hypothetical worship of Yahweh as a dying and rising (as I prepare for bricks to be thrown) deity after the fashion of Ba'al, nothing to do with the hero Joshua. I am trying to take advantage of the different forms we use in English in order to distinguish the hero Joshua from my hypothetical Yahweh-avatar Yehoshua, even though of course they are the same name.
Or do you simply assume the popular hope in a military Joshua redivivus (one victorious but not dying) ?
I am very open to seeing how a Joshua redivivus might fit in to my scheme of things; right now I am simply leaving open the option that one of the figures Paul calls "another Jesus" might have been based on such a Joshua.

One of my troubles with Paul himself latching onto a Joshua redivivus figure is that Joshua is such a Jewish nationalistic hope, associated with the violent overthrow of God's enemies, that I am not certain Paul, with his emphasis on the gentiles, would want to emphasize that aspect. But a Yehoshua figure is something I can see Paul getting into.

I think that Paul probably inherited a sense that the Messiah was the son of David, yet in all of his extant writings (pseudepigrapha included!) Paul mentions David only four times, of which two are simply as a composer of psalms, one is from the probably pseudepigraphical 2 Timothy 2.8, and the other is from the (in my opinion) textually suspect Romans 1.3; but he can barely write five sentences without using the name Jesus/Joshua, which makes me suspect that this name had a different ring to him, one not associated with the same kinds of nationalistic hopes with which the equally militaristic David was associated.
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Giuseppe » Sun May 14, 2017 9:12 am

One of my troubles with Paul himself latching onto a Joshua redivivus figure is that Joshua is such a Jewish nationalistic hope, associated with the violent overthrow of God's enemies, that I am not certain Paul, with his emphasis on the gentiles, would want to emphasize that aspect.
Perhaps it is just this pauline paradox that may help you to explain why Paul was a so ardent promoter of such a ''Joshua Christ'' among the gentiles. The apparently sinister figure of a vendicative Jewish conqueror was reduced to a spiritual symbol of salvation (something of the marcionite antithesis would seem to be already in view here...). This may explain why the Pillars first (and the ebionites after) considered themselves as ''spoiled'' in some way by Paul of all their nationalistic hopes about their Joshua Christ.

But this may explain also the reluctance of some Christian gentiles in accepting just the hero Joshua as Christ: the risk is the sacrifice of the spiritual aspect (related by the word ''Christ'') for the most material aspect (the popular hopes about ''Joshua'').
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Joshua is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.
(1 John 2:22)

The reduction of Christ to a mere label for the hero Joshua, a first implicit step towards his incipient euhemerization in recent times.
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 Ben C. Smith » Sun May 14, 2017 9:32 am

Giuseppe wrote:
One of my troubles with Paul himself latching onto a Joshua redivivus figure is that Joshua is such a Jewish nationalistic hope, associated with the violent overthrow of God's enemies, that I am not certain Paul, with his emphasis on the gentiles, would want to emphasize that aspect.
Perhaps it is just this pauline paradox that may help you to explain why Paul was a so ardent promoter of such a ''Joshua Christ'' among the gentiles. The apparently sinister figure of a vendicative Jewish conqueror was reduced to a spiritual symbol of salvation (something of the marcionite antithesis would seem to be already in view here...). This may explain why the Pillars first (and the ebionites after) considered themselves as ''spoiled'' in some way by Paul of all their nationalistic hopes about their Joshua Christ.

But this may explain also the reluctance of some Christian gentiles in accepting just the hero Joshua as Christ: the risk is the sacrifice of the spiritual aspect (related by the word ''Christ'') for the most material aspect (the popular hopes about ''Joshua'').
Maybe. Something to consider, anyway. Still thinking about it.
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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by MrMacSon » Sun May 14, 2017 2:51 pm

Neil Godfrey discussed this on his blog a couple of years ago and Steven Davies entered the comments conversation: link to Davies' first comment

Neil also referred to this 2013 BC&H thread he started 'The "spirit possession" explanation for Christian origins'

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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon May 15, 2017 12:03 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
andrewcriddle wrote:I have real problems in dating Ode 19 before the Gospel writers. (It may imply knowledge of the protoevangelium or the sources on which the protoevangelium was based)
A cup of milk was offered to me, and I drank it in the sweetness of the Lord's kindness.
The Son is the cup, and the Father is He who was milked; and the Holy Spirit is She who milked Him;
Because His breasts were full, and it was undesirable that His milk should be ineffectually released.
The Holy Spirit opened Her bosom, and mixed the milk of the two breasts of the Father.
Then She gave the mixture to the generation without their knowing, and those who have received it are in the perfection of the right hand.
The womb of the Virgin took it, and she received conception and gave birth.
So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies.
And she labored and bore the Son but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose.
And she did not require a midwife, because He caused her to give life.
She brought forth like a strong man with desire, and she bore according to the manifestation, and she acquired according to the Great Power.
And she loved with redemption, and guarded with kindness, and declared with grandeur.
Hallelujah.
To reiterate a question I asked earlier, what prevents the Protevangelium from having borrowed this concept from the Odes or something like them? What tips the arrow in that direction of borrowing? (I have no fully formed opinion on the date of the Odes as yet.)
They may well depend on a common source. It is IMHO improbable that the Protevangelium was influenced by a marginal text like the Odes. My main point is that the Ode clearly involves a doctrine of some form of Trinity and a doctrine of Virginal Conception.
H.J.W. Drijvers, "The 19th Ode of Solomon: Its interpretation and place in Syrian Christianity," Journal of Theological Studies ns 31.2 (Oct. 1980): 337-355 argues plausibly but not conclusively that the Ode has been influenced by Tatian's Diatessaron.

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Re: From a dying Christ to Jesus Christ

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon May 15, 2017 12:16 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Ben C. Smith wrote:To reiterate a question I asked earlier, what prevents the Protevangelium from having borrowed this concept from the Odes or something like them? What tips the arrow in that direction of borrowing? (I have no fully formed opinion on the date of the Odes as yet.)
They may well depend on a common source. It is IMHO improbable that the Protevangelium was influenced by a marginal text like the Odes. My main point is that the Ode clearly involves a doctrine of some form of Trinity and a doctrine of Virginal Conception.
H.J.W. Drijvers, "The 19th Ode of Solomon: Its interpretation and place in Syrian Christianity," Journal of Theological Studies ns 31.2 (Oct. 1980): 337-355 argues plausibly but not conclusively that the Ode has been influenced by Tatian's Diatessaron.
The trinitarian formula is indeed something to be considered. I am not convinced (yet) that the virgin concept has to derive from any infancy narratives (rather than the other way around). Also, for me, a "common source" may well simply be preaching or ritual.
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