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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MrMacSon
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:40 am

Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:45 pm
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?
Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:18 pm
The point being that if Christianity's origins are to be associated with Jerusalem [Judea], 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 [Judea] 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.
Blood wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:03 pm
... which city was associated with Christian origins, and why, not what ethnicity or religious group.
archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:43 am
Can you make a better case for somewhere else, other than in Judea?
Prelude -
Apparently as the Jewish conflict with the Romans grew before the first Roman-Jewish War (66-70 AD/CE), the 'nations' surrounding Judea (then part of the Roman Iudaea province) all sided with the Romans: the House of Shammai proposed that all commerce and communication between Jew and Gentile should be completely prohibited. The House of Hillel disagreed, but when the Sanhedrin convened to discuss the matter, the Zealots sided with the House of Shammaia. How much 'communication between Jew and Gentile' involved the leaders, particularly those in the Sanhedrin, and others involved in theological determinations, may be hard to determine; but it may be relevant to the issue at hand.
  1. Eleazar ben Ananias, the Temple captain and a leader of the militant Zealots, is said to have invited the students of both schools to meet at his house ... many of the House of Hillel were killed, meaning that those present from the House of Shammai were able to force all the remaining individuals to adopt a radically restrictive set of rules known as 'The Eighteen Articles'

After the fall of the 2nd Temple the Sanhedrin is said to have decamped to Yevnah (in Judea; aka Yavneel/Jabnah/Jamnia) (It may have first moved to Usha (a small village in west Galilee) until 116 AD/CE, before moving to Yevnah, but ended up in Usha after the Bar Kokhba revolt).

The Roman-Jewish War had diminished Jews appetites for conflict: under Gamaliel II, the opinions of the House of Hillel won the reconstituted Sanhedrin's support on most issues (eg during 'the Council of Jamnia'*, if it did actually happen).

The Sanhedrin is said to have moved [or returned] to Usha in 135 or 146 AD/CE (or somewhere in between).
  • Simeon/Shimon ben Gamliel II was elected president of a restorated 'college' at Usha [after the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt], in recognition of his personal worth and influence as much as or more than because he was a descendant of the house of Hillel. He was then elected president of the Sanhedrin.
Here's a key point -
  • According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Shimon ben Gamliel II seems to have been trained in Greek philosophy; this is thought to account for his declaration that the Scriptures be written only in the original text and in Greek (Meg. 9b; i. 8; Yer. Meg. 71c). There were many children in his family (including Judah ha-Nasi b. 135 CE): one-half of whom were instructed in the Torah, and the other half in Greek philosophy (Gittin 58a; Sotah 49b; Bava Kamma 83a;). Perhaps Shimon ben Gamliel II's father - Gamliel II - was also trained in Greek philosophy or language.



* The Council of Jamnia, is a hypothetical late 1st-century council, presumably held in Yavneh (aka Jamnia) in Judea, in which it has been proposed the Jewish authorities decided to exclude believers in Jesus as the Messiah from synagogue attendance, as interpretation of John 9:221 is thought to indicate. The Birkat haMinim benediction (attributed to Shmuel ha-Katan) is supposed to have been written during this council.
  1. John 9:22 22 -- 'His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue' -- is part of a long involved passage about a blind man Jesus heals, but the Pharisees cast him out when he argued with them = John 9:13-41
Last edited by MrMacSon on Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:29 am, edited 4 times in total.

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:46 am

Thanks.

As I understood the general point (from Blood) it was that Christianity's origins were not or might not likely be in Judea, but somewhere else.

I'm not sure if you're agreeing with him or not, or being neutral.

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MrMacSon
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:06 am

archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:46 am
Thanks.

As I understood the general point (from Blood) was that Christianity's origins were not or might not likely be in Judea, but somewhere else.

I'm not sure if you're agreeing with him or not.
You're welcome. Sure, I realised Blood's point was about Christian origins, but I thought the points about (i) the Sanhedrin being eventually situated in a region it had previously argued over whether to engage with Gentiles; (ii) Shimon ben Gamiliel II having been trained in Greek philosophy (eta: which suggests others may have been, including his predecessors, such as his father); and (ii) propositions that matters pertaining to Christianity were discussed at a possible key post 2nd Temple council, were pertinent to the wider discussion.

One thing I forgot to mention in relation to the Council of Jamnia and the Birkat haMinim benediction is that it is a Jewish curse on heretics (minim) that may have referred to Jewish-Christians (specifically attributed to a 2nd generation tanna'im, Shmuel ha-Katan).

According to one theory, Birkat ha-Minim was useful as a tool for outing minim ("heretics"), because no 'min' would recite aloud or reply amen to it, as it was a curse upon minim. The extent of reference to 'Notzrim' is debated. David Flusser's view (1992) was that the Birkat haMinim was added in reference to the Sadducees.

Scholars have seen reference to the Birkat ha-Minim in Justin Martyr's complaint to Trypho of the Jews "cursing in your synagogues those that believe on Christ." Reuven Kimelman (1981) challenged this, noting that Justin's description places the curse in the wrong sequence in the synagogue service

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:23 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:06 am
archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:46 am
Thanks.

As I understood the general point (from Blood) was that Christianity's origins were not or might not likely be in Judea, but somewhere else.

I'm not sure if you're agreeing with him or not.
You're welcome. Sure, I realised Blood's point was about Christian origins, but I thought the points about (i) the Sanhedrin being eventually situated in a region it had previously argued over whether to engage with Gentiles; (ii) Shimon ben Gamiliel II having been trained in Greek philosophy (eta: which suggests others may have been, including his predecessors, such as his father); and (ii) propositions that matters pertaining to Christianity were discussed at a possible key post 2nd Temple council, were pertinent to the wider discussion.

One thing I forgot to mention in relation to the Council of Jamnia and the Birkat haMinim benediction is that it is a Jewish curse on heretics (minim) that may have referred to Jewish-Christians (specifically attributed to a 2nd generation tanna'im, Shmuel ha-Katan).

According to one theory, Birkat ha-Minim was useful as a tool for outing minim ("heretics"), because no 'min' would recite aloud or reply amen to it, as it was a curse upon minim. The extent of reference to 'Notzrim' is debated. David Flusser's view (1992) was that the Birkat haMinim was added in reference to the Sadducees.

Scholars have seen reference to the Birkat ha-Minim in Justin Martyr's complaint to Trypho of the Jews "cursing in your synagogues those that believe on Christ." Reuven Kimelman (1981) challenged this, noting that Justin's description places the curse in the wrong sequence in the synagogue service
Thanks.

I did read somewhere that the (supposed) original Jewish christians (with a small c since they might not have called themselves that) were caught between a rock and a hard place, the suggestion being that they were considered as heretics by mainstream Jews as regards their claims to Jewishness (and considered as pagan if they were gentile converts) and also considered 'wrong' by (apparently early) Hellenistic Christians (such as Paul) and later as heretics again by the emerging orthodoxy. It would have been, in that case, a lose-lose, 'fall between two stools' situation for them, in the long run.

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:26 am

I read somewhere about a high priest instituting a temple ban on some Jewish heretics in the 1st C CE, but now I can't find it.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:53 am

archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:23 am
I did read somewhere that the (supposed) original Jewish christians..were caught between a rock and a hard place, the suggestion being that they were considered as heretics by mainstream Jews as regards their claims to Jewishness (and considered as pagan if they were gentile converts) and also considered 'wrong' by (apparently early) Hellenistic Christians (such as Paul) and later as heretics again by the emerging orthodoxy. It would have been, in that case, a lose-lose, 'fall between two stools' situation for them, in the long run.
Yes, There are many proposed avenues for conflict.

There were definitely issues raised by the new tax, the fiscus Judaicus (aka fiscus Iudaicus), imposed on all Jews throughout the empire (as opposed to the previous tithe only applied to Jewish men aged 20-50 yrs of age), and payable to Rome for the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. It created all sorts of dilemmas for slaves who had converted to their master's faith; and its tightening by Domitan, and then relaxing by Nerva created further problems. See http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 093#p77093

I think a lot has been fallaciously shoe-horned into that era in regard to 'christianity' and 'Jewish-christians', including the supposed 'list of ten bishops of Jerusalem' and even the 'ten bishops of Rome'.

It was hard enough for the Jews dealing with the two 'houses' before the First Roman-Jewish War and then re-organising themselves afterwards: they probably would not have engaged heretics, especially after 70 AD/CE.

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:56 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:53 am
archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:23 am
I did read somewhere that the (supposed) original Jewish christians..were caught between a rock and a hard place, the suggestion being that they were considered as heretics by mainstream Jews as regards their claims to Jewishness (and considered as pagan if they were gentile converts) and also considered 'wrong' by (apparently early) Hellenistic Christians (such as Paul) and later as heretics again by the emerging orthodoxy. It would have been, in that case, a lose-lose, 'fall between two stools' situation for them, in the long run.
Yes, There are many proposed avenues for conflict.

There were definitely issues raised by the new tax, the fiscus Judaicus (aka fiscus Iudaicus), imposed on all Jews throughout the empire (as opposed to the previous tithe only applied to Jewish men aged 20-50 yrs of age), and payable to Rome for the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. It created all sorts of dilemmas for slaves who had converted to their master's faith; and its tightening by Domitan, and then relaxing by Nerva created further problems. See http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 093#p77093

I think a lot has been fallaciously shoe-horned into that era in regard to 'christianity' and 'Jewish-christians', including the supposed 'list of ten bishops of Jerusalem' and even the 'ten bishops of Rome'.

It was hard enough for the Jews dealing with the two 'houses' before the First Roman-Jewish War and then re-organising themselves afterwards: they probably would not have engaged heretics, especially after 70 AD/CE.
The 1st-2nd C CE was arguably not a good time to be a Jew. :)

But maybe, if you were a Christian (with a big C) you could hope that by being relatively pro-Roman, or at least more accepting of it, that you might be seen and treated differently, in time.

Which might make Pliny's letter to Trajan seem relevant.

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MrMacSon
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:14 am

archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:56 am

The 1st-2nd C CE was arguably not a good time to be a Jew.
Certainly not in Judea. The only group that seems to have survived were the Pharisees. Which makes me think a Jewish-christian sect couldn't have.

archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:56 am
But maybe, if you were a Christian (with a big C) you could hope that by being relatively pro-Roman, or at least more accepting of it, that you might be seen and treated differently, in time.
I don't think there is any evidence that orthodox Christianity existed for a long time after it is said to have begun to exist.

archibald wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:56 am
Which might make Pliny's letter to Trajan seem relevant.

Tuccinardi, Enrico (2017) 'An application of a profile-based method for authorship verification: Investigating the authenticity of Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan concerning the Christians' Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol 32, Issue 2 (June 2017); pp. 435–447.

Abstract
Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan regarding the Christians is a crucial subject for the studies on early Christianity. A serious quarrel among scholars concerning its genuineness arose between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; per contra, Plinian authorship has not been seriously questioned in the last few decades. After analysing various kinds of internal and external evidence in favour of and against the authenticity of the letter, a modern stylometric method is applied in order to examine whether internal linguistic evidence allows one to definitely settle the debate.The findings of this analysis tend to contradict received opinion among modern scholars, affirming the authenticity of Pliny’s letter, and suggest instead the presence of large amounts of interpolation inside the text of the letter, since its stylistic behaviour appears highly different from that of the rest of Book X.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:27 am

Error. Double post.
Last edited by archibald on Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:27 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:14 am
I don't think there is any evidence that orthodox Christianity existed for a long time after it is said to have begun to exist.
That's incorrect. There is a lot of evidence. It's just that you dispute it. The two are not the same thing.

Depends what we mean by 'orthodox' in any case. To me, that's basically Pauline/Hellenistic, though it apparently only grew to become 'orthodox' over a period of time.
MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:14 am
Tuccinardi, Enrico (2017) 'An application of a profile-based method for authorship verification: Investigating the authenticity of Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan concerning the Christians' Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol 32, Issue 2 (June 2017); pp. 435–447.

Abstract
Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan regarding the Christians is a crucial subject for the studies on early Christianity. A serious quarrel among scholars concerning its genuineness arose between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; per contra, Plinian authorship has not been seriously questioned in the last few decades. After analysing various kinds of internal and external evidence in favour of and against the authenticity of the letter, a modern stylometric method is applied in order to examine whether internal linguistic evidence allows one to definitely settle the debate.The findings of this analysis tend to contradict received opinion among modern scholars, affirming the authenticity of Pliny’s letter, and suggest instead the presence of large amounts of interpolation inside the text of the letter, since its stylistic behaviour appears highly different from that of the rest of Book X.
My general problem with this sort of thing is not the mere assertion or assertions (which, despite that writer's optimism, can surely never 'definitely settle the debate' and certainly not through internal linguistic analysis) but the lack of a justified alternative thesis, by which I mean a coherent and better overall explanation for a large number of apparent features.

The neutral, in trying to come to any sort of decision about what they take as the likely state of affairs (and it can never be fully known so it will always be a preference) does need such a thesis to be made before ditching a thesis which is already at least broadly of a type put forward in great detail.

In other words, it's not sufficient to throw up dust, imo. And I say that as someone perfectly willing to consider 'alternative' and non-mainstream theses, because ultimately, being an out-and-out, card-carrying atheist, I have no horse in the race, either for 'Jesus' or for the spread of early Christianity. My first action on fairly recently arriving at this forum was to put forward a case that the founder was a terrorist not even called Jesus and that Paul was a lying schemer who never even believed and was just in it for the money, so I am not wedded to the mainstream by any stretch of the imagination. :)

In that case, it was because I had just read a detailed thesis putting the argument for it. I am now reading another (Eisenman's) though the subject matter is slightly different.
Last edited by archibald on Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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