The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

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The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:11 am

Subject: On the silence of 2century apologists
Jax wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:53 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:11 pm
MrMacSon and Jax, is the proposition on the table simply that Christianity started as a Greek/Hellenistic sect, with little to no Jewish/Semitic influence at all, and only later spread to Jewish/Semitic people groups?
Hi Ben....
Hi there. :)

I just wanted to briefly respond to this in its own thread. I am highly sympathetic to syncretistic reconstructions of earliest Christianity. Ideas may have filtered in from all kinds of sources. I am also, however, highly skeptical of suggestions to the effect that Judaism was being appropriated in much the same way that Roman Mithraism may have appropriated a Persian religion: from a distance and with little or no intimate knowledge of the original cult. Or, even more extremely, the way modern practitioners of Wicca have appropriated a (probably completely fallacious) version of ancient Druidism. I do not think our extant evidence is very conducive to that degree of appropriation.

Syncretism can be treated as a spectrum, as it were, with extreme appropriation on one end and simple inheritance of religious ideas from one's forebears on the other. I am not certain where exactly on that spectrum you would set Christianity vis-à-vis either Judaism itself or a Jewish-Christian cult which may have arisen from Judaism, but I have reasons for thinking that the connection between Judaism and Christianity is pretty direct (namely, that sectarian versions of the former gave rise to the latter).
...in my case, I note that all of the places that we normally associate with the origins of early Christianity appear to be in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and later Rome, Syria and Alexandria by Egypt. Further, a large proportion of those sites are Roman military veteran colonies of Julius and Augustus Caesar of the late 1st century BCE (Corinth, Philippi, Troyas, Sinope) or major Roman cities (Thessalonika, Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome) with the earliest sites for Christianity being Corinth, Thessalonika, Philippi, and Rome.

No sign of Christianity outside of much later tradition seems evident in the Levant until after the Bar Kokhba revolt when the area was heavily resettled by Roman emigrants. Also the spread of Christianity doesn't seem to radiate out from Jerusalem as would seem normal if that area was the source of this new cult. Rather, it seems to radiate out from Greece and Asia Minor.
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.

Your observations about the radiation of Christianity from Greco-Roman cities are sound, but they do not seem to take into account the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Of course after that point little or nothing would be radiating from Jerusalem. Of course the influx of settlers after bar Kokhba would be completely different people. We are not looking for the Catholic Church in more or less continuous occupation of Vatican City here; we are looking for a cult which would have been cut short in the most brutal fashion only decades after its formation.

And yes, of course Christianity became a predominately Greek and later Latin phenomenon in the Roman Empire (though also a Syriac phenomenon on the Eastern frontiers and beyond). If the original trunk had been cut off, then it would naturally be up to the branches to continue and propagate the new religion.

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? But my main point here is that your observations are not actually good objections.
Add to this the fact that the language of early Christianity is Koine Greek and not Jewish or Aramaic as one would expect from a cult originating from the Levant and one could make a case for Christianity not originating there.

....

While it is obvious that the early Christians data mined the Jewish works, it is the Greek translations of that literature that are being used not the Jewish and Aramaic originals, and Greek and Roman literature and philosophy are clearly and abundantly evident in early Christian thought and literature.
There is indeed a lot of contact with Greek and Roman ideas; but there is also a lot of contact (and, I believe, of a more constitutional nature) with Jewish ideas from before 70. Most notably, the Qumran scrolls frequently provide us with the best, most direct, and most illuminating parallels to the earliest Christian ideas. If Christianity began as a fringe Jewish sect in much the same intellectual milieu as the Qumran sect(s), then this overlap is easily explained. But, if Christianity arose only later, long after 70, and appropriated Judaism as its fictional basis, we would have to devise a mechanism by which those connections were made.

Same goes for ideas which later found their way into the Mishnah and which were probably never translated from Hebrew or Aramaic until centuries later: strong arguments have been made for various gospel materials having arisen from those Mishnaic streams, some of which betray a local knowledge of customs peculiar to Palestine. (I think here of Roger David Aus' work on the feeding of the 5000, for example.)

These are positive arguments for a close genetic relationship between Christianity and Jewish sects. The idea (in consonance with the Pauline epistles) that Christianity arose from Jewish sectarianism before 70 explains the data; if there is a better explanation for this data, I am completely open to it.

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:

Philo, Life of Moses 2.7.40: 40 And there is a very evident proof of this; for if Chaldeans were to learn the Greek language, and if Greeks were to learn Chaldean, and if each were to meet with those scriptures in both languages, namely, the Chaldaic and the translated version, they would admire and reverence them both as sisters, or rather as one and the same both in their facts and in their language; considering these translators not mere interpreters but hierophants and prophets to whom it had been granted their honest and guileless minds to go along with the most pure spirit of Moses.

Most Alexandrian Jews probably knew no Hebrew or Aramaic at all. Their language was Greek, so scriptures were furnished for them in their own language. Yet who would deny that Alexandrian Judaism originally derived from Judea? In my view Christians did much the same thing. They produced and translated texts in and into their own languages. Christians, in fact, became some of the premier religious translators of all recorded history, producing sacred and semisacred texts in Coptic, Armenian, Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and many other languages, right down to the present day.

I actually have a lot more to say concerning the language issue, since I believe our extant Christian materials to be positively teeming with evidence that at least some of the stories about Jesus and other topics originally circulated in Semitic languages, but that is a huge topic all its own.
Also the vast majority of names in the NT and other early Christian literature are Greek and Roman not Jewish.
The vast majority of names in the NT are quite simply appropriate for their time and place. In the Greek and Roman cities mentioned in the epistles we find Greek and Roman names; in the cities and villages of the Levant in the gospels we find Hebrew and Aramaic names (Simon, Judas, Matthew, Thomas, Jairus, Mary, and so on). There are definitely exceptions on both sides, and those exceptions are probably meaningful (I suspect, for example, that the names Philip and Andrew speak to the Hellenization of various places in Palestine, but it was very common, at any rate, for Jews to bear both Jewish and Greek or Latin names as alternates).

This is not (yet) a positive argument for the view that Christianity derived from Judaism in some way, but rather a query about what import you are pouring into the names. What does it mean, for you, that stories and letters set in Greek and Roman locales have more Greek and Roman names in them, whereas stories set in Jewish and Galilean locales have more Hebrew and Aramaic names in them?
Not to mention that Jesus being the son of God is clearly a pagan concept that is foreign to Judaism.
This concept used to have a lot of currency, but my view is that it has been completely debunked by modern investigators ranging from the relatively conservative Martin Hengel to the relatively liberal Margeret Barker. Christology, however, is a supremely complex topic probably deserving of its own thread(s).
Couple this with the overwhelming rejection of Christianity by the Jewish people and I feel that a Jewish origin for Christianity to be unlikely.
Mormonism clearly descended from Christianity, yet Christians overwhelmingly reject Mormonism, and it remains a fringe group with respect to Christianity, with its own extra scriptures, practices, and beliefs. Again, this observation is not actually an objection, to my mind.
The anti-Jewish nature of Christianity would seem odd for a religion that originated from Judaism.
Does the violently anti-Catholic nature of Lutheran Protestantism seem odd for a religion that originated from Catholicism?

(Not all branches of Christianity are or were anti-Jewish, by the way. The concept of "Judaizers" is early and pervasive.)

Ben.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:26 am

If Simon was the first heretic and Simon was a Samaritan then Gerizim also.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Jax » Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:34 pm

Hi back. :)

First of all, I'm glad that you started a new thread to continue this discussion as I don't like derailing other peoples threads.

As to the syncretistic nature of Christianity from Judaism, I also feel that Roman Mithraism and modern Wiccaism are poor matches, as you say, as they are essentially new cults devoid of a understanding of their supposed roots. This is why I decided that the cult of Serapis would make a better example in this case.
That Christianity had plenty of first hand material of Judaism to work with in shaping itself should be amply evident.

You mention Lutheran Protestantism versus Catholicism, and Mormonism being descended from Christianity and being rejected by non-Mormon Christians, yet the Lutherans, Catholics, and Mormons are all still Christians in their core beliefs (that Jesus is the son of God and belief in him leads to salvation). This is however not the case with Christianity in relation to Judaism. In the spectrum of syncretism it would seem to appear that Christianity is of the "inheritance of religious ideas from one's forebears" end of it.
One problem that presents itself is of course that we have Paul talking about apostles before himself in Jerusalem. This is of course a serious problem and not one that I can hand wave away simply by appealing to the passage being a later interpolation.
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.
Could you link me to this material please? I would like to read it.
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?
Same here. Please understand that I am researching this aspect of early Christianity and as yet have no firm convictions concerning any of my conclusions. I will say however that I find the story as told in the Gospels and Acts very unlikely from a historical perspective.
There is indeed a lot of contact with Greek and Roman ideas; but there is also a lot of contact (and, I believe, of a more constitutional nature) with Jewish ideas from before 70. Most notably, the Qumran scrolls frequently provide us with the best, most direct, and most illuminating parallels to the earliest Christian ideas. If Christianity began as a fringe Jewish sect in much the same intellectual milieu as the Qumran sect(s), then this overlap is easily explained. But, if Christianity arose only later, long after 70, and appropriated Judaism as its fictional basis, we would have to devise a mechanism by which those connections were made.

Same goes for ideas which later found their way into the Mishnah and which were probably never translated from Hebrew or Aramaic until centuries later: strong arguments have been made for various gospel materials having arisen from those Mishnaic streams, some of which betray a local knowledge of customs peculiar to Palestine. (I think here of Roger David Aus' work on the feeding of the 5000, for example.)

These are positive arguments for a close genetic relationship between Christianity and Jewish sects. The idea (in consonance with the Pauline epistles) that Christianity arose from Jewish sectarianism before 70 explains the data; if there is a better explanation for this data, I am completely open to it.
I agree. This is actually one of the reasons that a pre-CE Paul seems, to me, like it might have validity. As I posted in the other thread I feel that there is a possibility that Paul is using material popular with sectarian Judaism of the 1st century BCE.

At any rate this is a work in progress and I welcome any and all critiques of my current position.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:05 pm

Jax wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:34 pm
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.
Could you link me to this material please? I would like to read it.
Do you mean this? viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3780&p=80648#p80648. In context, I had been trying to lump 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18 in with an interpolation in 5.1-11. I still think that 5.1-11 is an interpolation, but I no longer think that 4.13-18 is.

One way to mitigate the force of placing Paul before 70 would be to demonstrate that the references to Jerusalem as an influential religious community have been interpolated. It does not seem to me that they all are, but again, I am open to arguments on that.

My main reasons for thinking that Christianity owes its existence to some kind of Jewish sectarianism have a lot to do with careful attention paid to the details of stories from the gospels and to the finer points of Christian theology.

For example, the more I read Margaret Barker, the more convinced I am that, for early Christians, Jesus was in some sense the same as Yahweh, implying that Christianity may have arisen from a Jewish sect which revered Yahweh as a dying and rising God like Ba'al: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3139. But motifs from this sycretistic and hypothetical cult are not all mediated by Paul; they also find a place in the gospels: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3153, as in the stilling of the storm or the walking on water. This implies a continuity between a cult which probably did not survive the destruction of AD 70 and the gospel texts at the very core of the Christian religion.

There are details about Jerusalem in the gospels (such as the Pool of Siloam in John 9.7 or the Pavement in John 19.13) which did not survive the destruction of the War, implying at least a tourist's knowledge of pre-War Judea. Mark mentions Bethphage, a town so local that it escapes mention in our extant literature until Talmudic times.

Or there are the Passover motifs present in the feeding of the 5000, involving Mishnaic observances and knowledge of local customs having to do with the baskets. Technically, this knowledge could have come out of Palestine after 70, but it cannot very well have come from Corinth or Rome! It involves intimate knowledge of the traditions surrounding Ba'al-Shalishah and the reaping of the harvest in Israel. (This comes from Roger David Aus' work on the feeding stories; I may eventually write something up about it.)

There are sayings which make no sense in Greek but which make perfect sense in Hebrew or Aramaic: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3718, implying that they hail from a Semitic environment. There are Semitisms in the gospels which, while they are not enough to prove that the texts are translations from a Semitic tongue, are enough to show that the authors were probably bilingual, writing in Greek in a Semitic way.

The Jesus Hymn in Philippians 2.5-11 seems to depend upon a knowledge of how the sacred name of Yahweh works with relation to the theophoric name of Jesus; in other words, the Hymn was composed by someone with a good knowledge of Hebrew.

All extant testimony points to a Judean origin for Christianity; even Marcion had Judea (or Galilee) in his gospel as the site for Jesus' appearance on earth.

These are just scattered ideas at this stage, but it is also just scratching the surface. There are just too many tendrils connecting Second Temple Judaism and the land of Palestine to Christianity and the Greco-Roman cities where it eventually flourished. The tradents were not all borrowing ideas from afar (though some were), using texts like the Septuagint. At least some of them, on my current best understanding of the evidence, were in Palestine, and some of them before 70, speaking Hebrew and Aramaic instead of Greek or Latin.

My current view, which I am in the process of testing, is that Christianity began, essentially, as a Jewish Mystery Cult. Its emphasis on a dying and rising Yahweh (= a dying a rising Jesus) was easy to Hellenize, and that is what happened to it, especially after the Romans did their thing in the War and Jerusalem ceased to be influential in any way.
You mention Lutheran Protestantism versus Catholicism, and Mormonism being descended from Christianity and being rejected by non-Mormon Christians, yet the Lutherans, Catholics, and Mormons are all still Christians in their core beliefs (that Jesus is the son of God and belief in him leads to salvation).
But this leads to an a fortiori argument against your observations, does it not? If Mormons are rejected by other Christians, by and large, why would Christians not be rejected by Jews, especially once Christianity had emerged as its own entity? In other words, the bare fact of rejection by the parent sect/religion/cult, no matter how far the child has drifted, is not an objection to there being a parent and a child religion in the first place. Once distinctions are made, all kinds of reactions, especially negative ones, are available. That most Hindus did not subscribe to Buddhism is no argument against Buddhism having arisen from Hinduism.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:18 pm


... 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.
Interestingly,

Although the Temple had been destroyed 130 years prior to its publication, in the world described by the Mishnah the Temple still exists and the laws that governed it are expressed in the present tense .. [it] ignores the events of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah/





Your observations about the radiation of Christianity from Greco-Roman cities are sound, but they do not seem to take into account the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Of course after that point little or nothing would be radiating from Jerusalem. Of course the influx of settlers after bar Kokhba would be completely different people. ... we are looking for a cult which would have been cut short in the most brutal fashion only decades after its formation.
After the tumultuous times of Hillel (d. ~ 10 CE) and Shammai (d. ~30 CE), the "House of Hillel" and the "House of Shammai" came to represent two distinct perspectives on Jewish law, and disagreements between the two schools of thought persisted through much of the 1st century a.d. and are found throughout the Mishnah.

Apparently the Tanna'im lived in several areas of the Land of Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Rabbi Johanan ben Zakai and his students founded a new religious center in Yavne. Other places of Judaic learning were also founded by his students in Lod and in Bnei Brak. Apparently some Tannaim worked as laborers (e.g., charcoal burners, cobblers) in addition to their positions as teachers and legislators. They were still leaders of the people and negotiators with the Roman Empire.

Simeon/Shimon ben Gamliel II was a youth in Betar when the Bar Kokhba revolt broke out, but when that fortress was taken by the Romans he managed to escape the massacre. On the restoration of the college at Usha, he was elected its president, not only because he was a descendant of the house of Hillel, but in recognition of his personal worth and influence. Gamaliel II became president of the Great Sanhedrin and Johanan ben Zakkai's successor. He put an end to the division which had arisen by the separation of the scribes into the two schools named respectively after Hillel and Shammai, and took care to enforce his own authority as the president of the chief legal assembly of Judaism with energy and often with severity. He did this in order that disunion should not prevail in Israel.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:35 pm

The constant present tense of the Mishnah probably owes itself to the Mishnah being, in essence, a law code:

E. P. Sanders, Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah: Five Studies, pages 314-316: Neusner makes a good deal of the fact that the Mishnah is written in the present tense (p. 236) and that it makes use of only a 'few formal patterns of syntax' (p. 244). The present tense shows that the Mishnah cares nothing for history, but only for 'static problems' (p. 236), while the limited syntax points to 'the conception that the norms are axiomatic for, and expose the logic of, all situations in general, but pertain to none in particular'. All this goes to show that 'what is concrete and material is secondary' (p. 246). Thus the formulas and present tense point towards a semi-Platonic world view, and they prove that the Mishnah's apparent topics are not its real subject matter. In fact, of course, he has simply stumbled upon characteristics of grammar and syntax which are frequent in legal and semi-legal writing. David Daube years ago wrote on the legal force of the present tense in laws, and it may be discerned if one will only pick up a tax form or a highway code. These are also characterized by a limited syntactical range. .... Laws characteristically do not give historical preambles and eschatological conclusions. Prophecy is entirely missing. .... It suffices to begin with Leviticus 1.1. Here we see many of the phenomena which Neusner finds so remarkable when he meets them in the Mishnah. Leviticus has a fictional address by God to Moses, which sometimes requires the future tense ('When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord', Lev. 25.2), but most of the laws are 'timeless'. Does this mean that the priestly authors had an entirely different world view from that of their contemporaries? That does not follow.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:34 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:35 pm
The constant present tense of the Mishnah probably owes itself to the Mishnah being, in essence, a law code: ..

Sure, but the Mishnah apparently still represents the Temple as still standing

... in the world described by the Mishnah the Temple still exists and .. [it] ignores the events of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah/

Others have noted "the prominence given to issues relating to the Temple ... as if it were eternal .."
Second, the prominence given to issues relating to the Temple —vir­tually the entirety of Kodashim and sections of all the other orders except Nashim—suggests that the Tannaim were committed to preserv­ing Jewish continuity in the face of disaster. Perhaps the Temple had been destroyed more than 100 years ago, but they would carry on as if it were eternal, as sure as the turning of the earth.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/articl ... tastrophe/

(Reprinted with permission from Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals, published by Pocket Books.)

The synosis of Naftali S. Cohn's 2012 The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis says
... Why...do the Temple and its ritual feature so prominently in the Mishnah? Against the view that the rabbis were reacting directly to the destruction and asserting that nothing had changed, Naftali S. Cohn argues that the memory of the Temple served a political function for the rabbis in their own time. They described the Temple and its ritual in a unique way that helped to establish their authority within the context of Roman dominance.

At the time the Mishnah was created, the rabbis were not the only ones talking extensively about the Temple: other Judaeans (including followers of Jesus), Christians, and even Roman emperors produced texts and other cultural artifacts centered on the Jerusalem Temple. Looking back at the procedures of Temple ritual, the rabbis created in the Mishnah a past and a Temple in their own image, which lent legitimacy to their claim to be the only authentic purveyors of Jewish tradition and the traditional Jewish way of life. Seizing on the Temple, they sought to establish and consolidate their own position of importance within the complex social and religious landscape of Jewish society in Roman Palestine.

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15054.html

[The one customer review at Amazon.com has mixed things to say about this (though I just realised it's by Joel Watts, who I think is the crank polemist who tried at one stage to crash or sink vridar.org, which might explain his commentary style and sometime lack of clarity)] -

Cohn writes to convince us the Rabbis used (or created) the memory of the Temple as a way to secure their influence as the proper authority when they wrote the Mishnah. In many places, he comes close to sheer enlightenment, but at times seems to become lost before he arrives ..

.. For Cohn, the Rabbis are concerned with preserving the memory of the Temple and securing their authority over the Judaean community. They do this by a variety of ways as detailed in chapters 2-4 ...

[Watts refers to] Cohn's expert analysis of the use of the destroyed Temple to support the Flavians and the successive reigns of Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian. Cohn also avoids discussing Jewish-Christian rivalry during this time as well.

However, Cohn does a marvelous job at connecting the Rabbis to other Jewish groups, including those who believed in Jesus as Messiah. His explorations here are not fully complete as noted above, but must be examined with great care as he takes the Temple in the Synoptics and places it alongside the Temple in the Mishnah. A picture emerges of authority and identity ...

... it casts new light on identify in the Fourth Gospel as well as calling into question how the Gospels use the Temple in their writings.

https://www.amazon.com/Memory-Temple-Ma ... 0812244575

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:41 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:34 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:35 pm
The constant present tense of the Mishnah probably owes itself to the Mishnah being, in essence, a law code: ..

Sure, but the Mishnah apparently still represents the Temple as still standing

... in the world described by the Mishnah the Temple still exists and .. [it] ignores the events of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah/

Yes: it is preserving laws from the period when the temple was still standing, with the hope that the temple would someday be rebuilt. It is a law code, not a literary text.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:52 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:41 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:34 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:35 pm
The constant present tense of the Mishnah probably owes itself to the Mishnah being, in essence, a law code: ..

Sure, but the Mishnah apparently still represents the Temple as still standing

... in the world described by the Mishnah the Temple still exists and .. [it] ignores the events of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah/

Yes: it is preserving laws from the period when the temple was still standing, with the hope that the temple would someday be rebuilt. It is a law code, not a literary text.
Sure, but I wonder if the tense used in the Mishnah or it's forerunners or paratexts might have influenced people writing literary or other theological texts to write similarly, especially about the Temple ie. in present tense.

eta: of course, they'd have to be reading Mishnaic Hebrew (aka Tannaitic Hebrew or Early Rabbinic Hebrew) or have it interpreted for them.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:13 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:52 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:41 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:34 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:35 pm
The constant present tense of the Mishnah probably owes itself to the Mishnah being, in essence, a law code: ..

Sure, but the Mishnah apparently still represents the Temple as still standing

... in the world described by the Mishnah the Temple still exists and .. [it] ignores the events of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/mishnah/

Yes: it is preserving laws from the period when the temple was still standing, with the hope that the temple would someday be rebuilt. It is a law code, not a literary text.
Sure, but I wonder if the tense used in the Mishnah or it's forerunners or paratexts might have influenced people writing literary or other theological texts to write similarly, especially about the Temple ie. in present tense.
Does the presence of guidelines about Letters of Marque in the US Constitution (in the present tense) encourage people to write about them as if they were still issued?
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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