The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Blood
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Blood » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:45 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote: Your list does not include Jerusalem, but I would definitely associate Jerusalem with the origins of Christianity, at least to the same extent that I associate Corinth or Philippi, and probably more. I have given reasons elsewhere (having found myself persuaded by Peter Kirby) for thinking that there is a core to the Pauline epistles which predates 70 (in agreement with all known streams of Christian thought). But Paul describes Jerusalem as a highly influential church during that period.

...

As for the main Christian language being Greek, well, Alexandrian Jews used the Septuagint, which was in Greek, and they treated it as holy scripture, no less inspired than the original Pentateuch of Moses:
But would the Judeans in Jerusalem (not Alexandria) have been using the Septuagint? Why? If Christianity's origins are going to be associated with that city, then we would also need good reasons to believe that, for some reason, the Greek text was also considered the primary text even in Jerusalem. And if that was the case, where in the world was the Hebrew text used as the base text in the first century? Qumram? Anywhere?
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Blood
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Blood » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:06 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:The only positive argument I offer in this section for a primitive Judaic church is the epistles of Paul, and I am still very much in the middle of evaluating those epistles; who knows what I may eventually conclude?
"The epistles of Paul" ... which are also in Greek, written by a person somewhat skilled in Greek argument and rhetoric. A person who, unlike Philo or Josephus, makes no reference to the Hebrew words or possible meanings of the Hebrew text, and only seems aware of the γραφῶν in Greek.

Not what one would expect from a Hebrew sectarian with roots in Jerusalem, even to a Greek recipient. If anything, one would expect him to be even more like Philo, schooling his ignorant, foreign audience on what the Hebrew text really means.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:11 pm

Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:45 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote: Your list does not include Jerusalem, but I would definitely associate Jerusalem with the origins of Christianity, at least to the same extent that I associate Corinth or Philippi, and probably more. I have given reasons elsewhere (having found myself persuaded by Peter Kirby) for thinking that there is a core to the Pauline epistles which predates 70 (in agreement with all known streams of Christian thought). But Paul describes Jerusalem as a highly influential church during that period.

...

As for the main Christian language being Greek, well, Alexandrian Jews used the Septuagint, which was in Greek, and they treated it as holy scripture, no less inspired than the original Pentateuch of Moses:
But would the Judeans in Jerusalem (not Alexandria) have been using the Septuagint?
Probably not, at least not consistently. Why should they?
If Christianity's origins are going to be associated with that city, then we would also need good reasons to believe that, for some reason, the Greek text was also considered the primary text even in Jerusalem.
I do not follow you. Why do you think early Jewish sectarians in Jerusalem must have used the Septuagint? Why could they not have used the Hebrew scriptures, as Matthew tends to do in his authorial quotations? Paul, writing for gentiles, usually uses the LXX (as we might expect), but even he sometimes prefers the Hebrew text instead. The epistle of James, written for Diaspora Jewry, contains a combination of quotations from the Hebrew and from the LXX. The epistle of Jude, I think, pretty much ignores the LXX in favor of the Hebrew.
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Blood
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Blood » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:18 pm

The point being that if Christianity's origins are to be associated with Jerusalem, then we would expect to find greater emphasis on Hebrew words and texts, not Greek ones. We cannot assume that because Jews in Alexandria were using the LXX, that Jews in Jerusalem were also. The argument would be more consistent if Christianity's origins were instead associated with Alexandria, since we have stronger reasons to believe that the LXX was the main base text there.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:25 pm

Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:06 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:The only positive argument I offer in this section for a primitive Judaic church is the epistles of Paul, and I am still very much in the middle of evaluating those epistles; who knows what I may eventually conclude?
"The epistles of Paul" ... which are also in Greek, written by a person somewhat skilled in Greek argument and rhetoric. A person who, unlike Philo or Josephus, makes no reference to the Hebrew words or possible meanings of the Hebrew text, and only seems aware of the γραφῶν in Greek.

Not what one would expect from a Hebrew sectarian with roots in Jerusalem, even to a Greek recipient. If anything, one would expect him to be even more like Philo, schooling his ignorant, foreign audience on what the Hebrew text really means.
Philo?

Adam Kamesar, The Cambridge Companion to Philo, page 235: Many of Philo’s biblical interpretations were completely dependent on the Septuagint version, which he invariably cites as his starting point. H. A. Wolfson did indeed insist that, in writing for Greek readers, Philo naturally quoted the translation familiar to them, ‘even though his knowledge of Hebrew was such that he could himself without too much effort provide his own translation.’ While admittedly there is no positive evidence of his knowledge of Hebrew, the burden of proof, according to Wolfson, is upon those who would deny him such knowledge. Yet, although the evidence for Philo’s ignorance of Hebrew is only cumulative, it is all but irresistible. A few examples will illustrate Philo’s utter dependence on the Greek version of the Bible. Y. Amir has noted that Philo interprets the biblical description of the earth on the first day of creation as being tohu va-vohu (Gen 1:2), rendered in the Septuagint ‘invisible and unformed’ (aoratos kai akataskeuastos), as referring to the ‘Idea’ of the earth, a part of the Platonic intelligible world. This Hebrew expression, however, cannot designate such a higher level of reality. Similarly, D. Gooding has pointed out that in various places, Philo expounds a passage by playing on the etymology of a word in the Septuagint regardless of whether the Hebrew word that it represents has a similar etymology (Deus 103). Moreover, where a Greek word had more than one meaning, Philo will sometimes select one of those meanings, regardless of whether the underlying Hebrew word can have the meaning he insists on (Deus 168–71). In any case, one of the strongest arguments once relied on in order to demonstrate Philo’s knowledge of Hebrew, namely, the many etymologies of Hebrew names adduced by him, has been effectively removed by the discovery of papyrological evidence that makes it evident that Philo, as some had already conjectured earlier, did make use of Greek onomastica that provided him with the information he needed for this purpose.

The critics may be wrong; maybe Philo knew Hebrew. But he apparently never relies upon the Hebrew text for his quotations.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:26 pm

Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:18 pm
The point being that if Christianity's origins are to be associated with Jerusalem, then we would expect to find greater emphasis on Hebrew words and texts, not Greek ones. We cannot assume that because Jews in Alexandria were using the LXX, that Jews in Jerusalem were also. The argument would be more consistent if Christianity's origins were instead associated with Alexandria, since we have stronger reasons to believe that the LXX was the main base text there.
This is a matter of completely missing the point of my post.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:31 pm

Your point would make sense only if Paul were the first Christian. Ex hypothesi, and in accordance with several statements from the epistles, he was not. Paul using (mainly) the LXX for his gentile converts no more disproves a Judean/Semitic origin for Christianity than Philo using the LXX for his fellow Alexandrian Jews disproves a Judean/Semitic origin for Judaism.
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Bernard Muller
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:37 pm

the Jesus story was derived directly by manipulating the Septuagint and the writings of Josephus.
Once again, I agree with this. :cheers:
Hmm, so gMark would have been written after 78 CE, the year when Josephus' Wars was published (or completed). But the internal evidence points to soon after the events of 70 CE.
The Jesus' story derived directly by manipulating the Septuagint and the writings of Josephus?
That would put that story and that Jesus as totally invented. And if you include all the writings of Josephus, that would send that fictional invention in the 2nd century.
I agree that a lot of the Septuagint made it in the gospels, but on narrative details and sayings only, and Josephus' Wars (but not Antiquities) was known by "Luke".

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:39 pm

Deleted because already posted.

Cordially, Bernard
Last edited by Bernard Muller on Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jax
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Jax » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:51 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:37 pm
the Jesus story was derived directly by manipulating the Septuagint and the writings of Josephus.
Once again, I agree with this. :cheers:
Hmm, so gMark would have been written after 78 CE, the year when Josephus' Wars was published (or completed). But the internal evidence points to soon after the events of 70 CE.
The Jesus' story derived directly by manipulating the Septuagint and the writings of Josephus?
That would put that story and that Jesus as totally invented. And if you include all the writings of Josephus, that would send that fictional invention in the 2nd century.
I agree that a lot of the Septuagint made it in the gospels, but on narrative details and sayings only, and Josephus' Wars (but not Antiquities) was known by "Luke".

Cordially, Bernard
Wouldn't Mark have needed to have read Antiquities to write about John the Baptist?

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