The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

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Giuseppe
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The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:32 am

Guy G. Stroumsa, in Christ’s Laughter: Docetic Origins Reconsidered, argues that “a claim that Jesus’ sacrifice was not really accomplished appeared among the very first followers of Jesus.

Isaac’s name means “he will laugh”, according to Philo, and here would be the origin of the Christ's Laughter legend behing the docetic Gospel of Judas.

Philo considered Isaac not Abraham's son, but Son of God.

And for Clement, “Isaac is Christ”:
The king, then, is Christ, who beholds our laughter from above, and
looking through the window, as the scripture says, looks at the
thanksgiving, and the blessing, and the rejoicing, and the gladness, and
furthermore the endurance which works together with them and their
embrace. . . . He himself [Christ] is Isaac [for the passage may be
interpreted otherwise], who is a type [typos] of the Lord, a child as a son;
for he was the son of Abraham, as Christ, the Son of God, and a sacrifice
as the Lord. But he was not immolated as the Lord. Isaac only bore the
wood [of the sacrifice], as the Lord the wood [of the cross]. And he [Isaac]
laughed in a secret way [egela de mustikôs], prophesying that the Lord
would fill us with joy, as we have been redeemed from corruption by the
blood of the Lord. But Isaac did not suffer, yielding the precedence in
suffering to the Logos. Moreover, his not having been slain hints at the
divinity of the Lord. For Jesus rose again after his burial, without having
suffered, exactly like Isaac was released from sacrifice [mè pathôn, kathaper
hierourgias apheimenos ho Isaak]
(quote of Clement in p. 279)


This remembers me the words of Rylands:
And when we have noted that in the doctrine of various
sects the Christ was believed to have manifested himself in
Adam, Cain, Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph,
and Moses, we ought surely to find it rather surprising that
the list is terminated by Moses and does not include Joshua,
especially as Moses is recorded (Deut. xviii, 15) to have
promised the Israelites that " the Lord thy God will raise
up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy
brethren, like unto me." This promise, which of course
refers to Joshua, was referred by Christians of the second—
possibly of the late first —century to Jesus. If at that time
the promise was believed to have been fulfilled in a re-appearance
of Joshua, it could easily have happened that
we should have no clear and explicit record of the fact.
For if any early writer had intended to say that the Christ
had manifested himself in Joshua, or that Joshua was the
Christ, writing in Greek the only way in which he could
have made his statement would be that " Jesus is the
Christ," since Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua.
(Beginning, p. 151, my bold)


So Stroumsa:
The conclusion seems to impose itself that there
existed in first-century Judaism, or at least in some trends in Hellenistic
Judaism, a conception of Isaac, alias laughter, Son of God, born of a
virgin. If Isaac had been offered in sacrifice by his heavenly Father for
the redemption of his people and had escaped death, all the elements
needed for the emergence of a docetic theology of Jesus, having escaped
suffering on the cross
, were present at the very origins of Christianity
(p. 286, my bold)

I would find suggestive in particular the words:
It is worth noting that Clement, as also Origen after him,
underlines the fact that at least in his divine nature Jesus did not suffer.
One can speak here, in a way, of a semi-docetic perception. A full-fledged
docetic perception, however, would contradict the central myth and the
central ritual of Christianity
: a sacrifice. Such a full-fledged Docetism is of
course conceivable only in a religious system where there exist other
sacrifices; when the very notion of sacrifice is rejected, Docetism is meaningless.
(p. 280, my bold)

Stroumsa is bound obviously by the academic dogma of the Sacrifice Expiatory at the Origin of Christianity. But if there was someone who didn't need a sacrifice at all, they were the Gnostics.

This fits perfectly with the thesis of Rylands of the Christianity as the fusion of the two separate cults: a Gnostic cult of Christ and a pre-christian cult of Joshua. The former was based on a spiritual Christ Revealer of Gnosis, and the latter was based on the sacrifice expiatory of Joshua.

What was decisive for the rise of Christianity, according to Rylands, was not so much the presence of the latter as of the former. It is surely expected that when the Gnostics adopted the name “Jesus” for their celestial Christ, they did so by removing in first place the feature of the expiatory sacrifice. And the best way (for the Gnostics) to remove entirely the theme of sacrifice is to have a “full-fledged docetic view” of the death of Jesus.

As reaction, the followers of the Joshua cult, i.e., the ebionites (and the author of Revelation, the Apologists, the proto-catholics, etc), would have judaized the Gnostic Christ by imposing the feature of sacrifice, firstly by adoptionism (Mark), and lastly by incarnationism (Matthew and Luke).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:22 am

Strong of the knowledge of Rylands and Parvus, I would have no problems to consider any reference to expiatory sacrifice in the epistles of Paul as later interpolations.

But I wonder: may the same fatidic verses of 1 Cor 2:6-8 be interpreted in a docetic manner?
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
I think that the text may be read with a docetic view in mind. If the Archons of this Age had known the identity of their victim (i.e., that he was not the Lord of Glory but only his mere appearance or substitute) then they would haven't crucified him. But in whiletime they would have shown an act of rebellion against the Son of God (showing their will of killing him). And therefore their hour was arrived.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:35 am

it would not make sense for Paul to say that that “wisdom” was esoteric, reserved for only a few of “perfects”, and reveal that wisdom in a public letter. So he apparently proclaimed a crucified Christ, but in fact his Christ was not crucified.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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MrMacSon
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:16 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:32 am
Guy G. Stroumsa, in Christ’s Laughter: Docetic Origins Reconsidered, argues

- - - "a claim that Jesus’ sacrifice was not really accomplished appeared among the very first followers of Jesus".

Isaac’s name means “he will laugh”, according to Philo, and here could be the origin of the Christ's Laughter legend behind the docetic Gospel of Judas.

Philo considered Isaac not Abraham's son, but Son of God.
and, interestingly -
Various gnostic texts and traditions describe Christ laughing in heaven while Simon of Cyrene is being crucified in his place. This laughter of Christ has not so far been properly understood. This article proposes to see in it a reference to the etymology of Isaac’s name, yzhaq, (“he will laugh”). This etymology was widely known among first-century Jews. Philo, for instance, discusses it on various occasions, even claiming that Isaac was actually the son of God, not of Abraham, and that his mother Sarah was a virgin when she conceived him.

Guy G. Stroumsa, in Christ’s Laughter: Docetic Origins Reconsidered
Last edited by MrMacSon on Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Secret Alias
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:35 pm

Giuseppe

But was Paul's letter originally public?
“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

neilgodfrey
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:16 pm

You may or many not be aware that the aqedah or sacrifice of Isaac being the basis of the Christ myth is discussed in detail by Jon D. Levenson in his book, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity. I have set out his arguments in a series of posts -- one needs to start from the bottom of the page and work up.

Giuseppe
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:47 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:35 pm
Giuseppe

But was Paul's letter originally public?
I don't think it was public, for two reasons:

1) his content is too much banal. Complexity requires secrecy. Simple things don't.

2) assume that Paul was secret in the first century CE.
Then it would be expected in the second century CE that Paul would have become so famous, since he was made public (by Marcion?), that even the Pagans would have noted him. But Paul is never mentioned by the Pagans. Therefore if he remained obscure in the second century (even if public), he could well be so in the first, too.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

earlydude
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by earlydude » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:53 am

May I ask what is meant by the "the sacrifice expiatory of Joshua." ?

Thank you.

Giuseppe
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:05 am

earlydude wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:53 am
May I ask what is meant by the "the sacrifice expiatory of Joshua." ?

Thank you.
The fact that the god Joshua dies so that his shed blood purifies the sins of the his worshipers.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

earlydude
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Re: The docetic Jesus at the origin of Christianity

Post by earlydude » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:01 pm

Thank you.

Am I right in understanding this version of the Joshua god is meant to be an angelic son of El?

Is he basically Yahweh who we know also had an ancient "rising and dying" aspect?

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