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 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:30 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:41 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:22 pm
None of the church fathers indicated they are part of a community (that I am aware of).
What does this mean? Are you saying that the church fathers never claim to be part of the church in any given locale?
I'm not aware of many church fathers recounting their local communities; of recounting positive community engagement with the texts or the theology by others. All we seem to get is negative accounts; say, of persecutions.

We know Tertullian was in Carthage and recounts some engagement, but like Adv Marcion and Adv. Valentinianos against distant people, they're often adversarial as well eg. Adversus Hermogenem (“Against Hermogenes”) a Carthaginian painter who is supposed to have claimed that God created the world out of preexisting matter.

He doesn't seem to refer to previous or contemporaneous supposedly well-known Carthaginians Crescens, supposedly ordained by Saint Peter,; Speratus, one of the Scillitan Martyrs; Epenetus of Carthage, who is found in Pseudo-Dorotheus and Pseudo-Hippolytus lists of seventy disciples; Optatus who is generally taken to have been bishop of Carthage, mentioned in an account of the martyrdom of Saint Perpetua and her companions in 203.

Tertuallian's De spectaculis (“Concerning Spectacles”) focuses on the arts, theatre, civic festivals, and especially gladiatorial games as something Christians should not attend: to revel in violence and the suffering of others in this world, he wrote, was wrong. However, near the end of this work, he stated that he planned to revel in the hellish suffering of “the great” who would be condemned to eternal perdition (presumably because they weren’t Christian).

The rest of his works are general treatises.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:53 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:30 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:41 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:22 pm
None of the church fathers indicated they are part of a community (that I am aware of).
What does this mean? Are you saying that the church fathers never claim to be part of the church in any given locale?
I'm not aware of many church fathers recounting their local communities; of recounting positive community engagement with the texts or the theology by others. All we seem to get is negative accounts; say, of persecutions.
Again, it is not clear to me what exactly you mean. What, for example, does "recounting positive community engagement" with a text mean? Do you intend to say that church fathers do not write about texts which were intended for particular communities? For instance, 1 Corinthians was intended for the church at Corinth, Philippians for the church at Philippi, and so on; are you saying that the fathers do not discuss 1 Corinthians or Philippians with specific relation to Corinth or Philippi? Or what do you mean?
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:21 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:53 pm
Again, it is not clear to me what exactly you mean. What, for example, does "recounting positive community engagement" with a text mean?
I mean primary texts by the church fathers about their communities: about how their communities practiced Christianity (perhaps what Christian texts they liked or engaged with).

One would expect serial signs of evolution of Christianity via these communities, over time.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:32 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:21 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:53 pm
Again, it is not clear to me what exactly you mean. What, for example, does "recounting positive community engagement" with a text mean?
I mean primary texts by the church fathers about their communities: about how their communities practiced Christianity (perhaps what Christian texts they liked or engaged with).
Do you mean like this?

But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

Pretty detailed description of worship, including the reading of the "memoirs."
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:07 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:32 pm

Do you mean like this?
But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

Pretty detailed description of worship, including the reading of the "memoirs."
Yes, a pretty detailed description of worship, which is good, though no-specific 'memoirs'. I was after more though: more signs there was more engagement with specific memoirs, or even an 'epistle of Justine' that might reflect a sermon worthy of preserving or may have been worthy of including in the canon, or a 'para-canonical' collection.

Interestingly, that first paragraph is the first known description of the Eucharist.

And, after that 3rd paragraph in your box comes this

Chap LXVIII
And if these things seem to you to be reasonable and true, honour them; but if they seem nonsensical, despise them as nonsense, and do not decree death against those who have done no wrong, as you would against enemies. For we forewarn you, that you shall not escape the coming judgment of God, if you continue in your injustice; and we ourselves will invite you to do that which is pleasing to God. And though from the letter of the greatest and most illustrious Emperor Adrian, your father, we could demand that you order judgment to be given as we have desired, yet we have made this appeal and explanation, not on the ground of Adrian’s decision, but because we know that what we ask is just. And we have subjoined the copy of Adrian’s epistle, that you may know that we are speaking truly about this. And the following is the copy:—

Epistle of Adrian in behalf of the Christians.
I have received the letter addressed to me by your predecessor Serenius Granianus, a most illustrious man; and this communication I am unwilling to pass over in silence, lest innocent persons be disturbed, and occasion be given to the informers for practising villany. Accordingly, if the inhabitants of your province will so far sustain this petition of theirs as to accuse the Christians in some court of law, I do not prohibit them from doing so. But I will not suffer them to make use of mere entreaties and outcries. For it is far more just, if any one desires to make an accusation, that you give judgment upon it. If, therefore, any one makes the accusation, and furnishes proof that the said men do anything contrary to the laws, you shall adjudge punishments in proportion to the offences. And this, by Hercules, you shall give special heed to, that if any man shall, through mere calumny, bring an accusation against any of these persons, you shall award to him more severe punishments in proportion to his wickedness.

Were the 'Epistle of Antoninus to the common assembly of Asia' and the 'Epistle of Marcus Aurelius to the senate, in which he testifies that the Christians were the cause of his victory' [also] part of Justin Martyr's First Apology?

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:15 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:30 pm
I'm not aware of many church fathers recounting their local communities; of recounting positive community engagement with the texts or the theology by others. All we seem to get is negative accounts; say, of persecutions.
Surely there are also many agreeable letters to and from communities, in which the writers refer to representatives 'we are sending' (from where if not their own community) and which letters are introduced (with greetings) as being from the church (and presbyters) of such and such a sending location, to the church members of the recipient location.

I wish I had a clue what your point was. I mean, if you dispute the authenticity of these texts or something, fine, but what's your alternative version of the early growth of Christianity? We are, for various reasons, limited to comparing explanations in this matter, but you don't appear to even be offering one.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:07 pm
Yes, a pretty detailed description of worship, which is good, though no-specific 'memoirs'.
Elsewhere Justin mentions that the memoirs were written by the apostles and by their followers, and more specifically he also names either "the memoirs of Peter" or "the memoirs of Christ," depending on how you read the sentence. Is that what you are talking about?
I was after more though: more signs there was more engagement with specific memoirs, or even an 'epistle of Justine' that might reflect a sermon worthy of preserving or may have been worthy of including in the canon, or a 'para-canonical' collection.
Well, of course, whenever a Christian writes an epistle to a community to which a previous famous Christian has also written or in which a previous famous Christian has evangelized, he tends to mention that previous person, right?

Clement:

The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to those who are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you [1 Corinthians].

Ignatius:

I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you [Romans].

You [Ephesians] are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, the deservedly most happy, at whose feet may I be found, when I shall attain to God; who in all his Epistles makes mention of you in Christ Jesus.

Polycarp:

But I have not found any such thing in you [Philippians], neither have heard thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those churches which alone at that time knew God; for we knew Him not as yet.

For neither am I, nor is any other like unto me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he came among you taught face to face with the men of that day the word which concerneth truth carefully and surely; who also, when he was absent, wrote a letter unto you [Philippians], into the which if ye look diligently, ye shall be able to be builded up unto the faith given to you....

Dionysius of Corinth:

Therefore you also have by such admonition joined in close union the churches that were planted by Peter and Paul, that of the Romans and that of the Corinthians: for both of them went to our Corinth, and taught us in the same way as they taught you when they went to Italy; and having taught you, they suffered martyrdom at the same time.

And communities communicated with each other, especially by epistle:

Hermas:

Thou shalt therefore write two little books, and shalt send one to Clement, and one to Grapte. So Clement shall send to the foreign cities, for this is his duty; while Grapte shall instruct the widows and the orphans. But thou shalt read (the book) to this city along with the elders that preside over the Church.

Martyrdom of Polycarp:

The church of God which sojourneth in Smyrna, to the church of God that sojourneth in Philomelia, and to all the settlements of the holy and Catholic Church in every place, mercy, peace, and love from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied unto you.

Ignatius:

Seeing that the Church which is at Antioch in Syria is, as report has informed me, at peace, through your prayers [Polycarp], I also am the more encouraged, resting without anxiety in God, if indeed by means of suffering I may attain to God, so that, through your prayers, I may be found a disciple [of Christ].

Inasmuch as I have not been able to write to all the Churches, because I must suddenly sail from Troas to Neapolis, as the will [of the emperor] enjoins, [I beg that] you, as being acquainted with the purpose of God, will write to the adjacent Churches, that they also may act in like manner, such as are able to do so sending messengers, and the others transmitting letters through those persons who are sent by you, that you may be glorified by a work which shall be remembered for ever, as indeed you are worthy to be. I salute all by name, and in particular the wife of Epitropus, with all her house and children.

If these examples are not what you are looking for, specific Christians in one Christian community mentioning specific Christian texts written to other specific Christian communities, then what? You mentioned the Mishnah and the Talmud in this connection; if the above is not "it" (so to speak), can you quote something from the Mishnah or from the Talmud along the lines of what you are finding in Jewish communities but not in Christian communities?
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:35 pm

archibald wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:15 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:30 pm
I'm not aware of many church fathers recounting their local communities; of recounting positive community engagement with the texts or the theology by others. All we seem to get is negative accounts; say, of persecutions.
Surely there are also many agreeable letters to and from communities, in which the writers refer to representatives 'we are sending' (from where if not their own community) and which letters are introduced (with greetings) as being from the church (and presbyters) of such and such a sending location, to the church members of the recipient location.

I wish I had a clue what your point was. I mean, if you dispute the authenticity of these texts or something, fine, but what's your alternative version of the early growth of Christianity? We are, for various reasons, limited to comparing explanations in this matter, but you don't appear to even be offering one.
I do not think it would matter in this case whether the texts are genuine or not; it would probably still remain the case that the forgery is meant to sound authentic, meaning that Christians writing to Christians in other communities, talking about texts addressed to those communities or about previous visitors to those communities, seems "normal" to the forger.
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:26 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:07 pm
Yes, a pretty detailed description of worship, which is good, though no-specific 'memoirs'.
Elsewhere Justin mentions that the memoirs were written by the apostles and by their followers, and more specifically he also names either "the memoirs of Peter" or "the memoirs of Christ," depending on how you read the sentence. Is that what you are talking about?
Sure, though of course it'd be great if he'd named something 'more known' such as the epistle or even the Gospel of Peter, or perhaps Marks memoirs of Peter ie. the Gospel of Mark, commonly cited to Mark as the hearer of Peter.

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 pm
I was after more though: more signs there was more engagement with specific memoirs, or even an 'epistle of Justine' that might reflect a sermon worthy of preserving or may have been worthy of including in the canon, or a 'para-canonical' collection.
Well, of course, whenever a Christian writes an epistle to a community to which a previous famous Christian has also written or in which a previous famous Christian has evangelized, he tends to mention that previous person, right?
But I'm not after references to other communities ie. recipients of letters. I'd expect accounts of communities the letters come from.


Using your citations -

Clement:

The Church of God which sojourns at Rome ...

Polycarp:

But I have not found any such thing in you [Philippians], neither have heard thereof, among whom the blessed Paul labored, who were his letters in the beginning. For he boasteth of you in all those churches which alone at that time knew God ...

Martyrdom of Polycarp:

The church of God which sojourneth in Smyrna ...

Ignatius:

Seeing that the Church which is at Antioch in Syria is, as report has informed me, at peace, through your prayers [Polycarp] ...
.


But we hear nothing primarily about those communities. As I have highlighted there, Polycarp decries the lack of any evidence of Christian belief.


And communities communicated with each other, especially by epistle:
  • Hermas:
  • Martyrdom of Polycarp:
  • Ignatius:
If these examples are not what you are looking for, specific Christians [supposedly] in one Christian community mentioning specific Christian texts written to other specific Christian communities, then what?
I'm not looking for references to texts written to other communities, other than texts that might contain information about the originating community. I'm looking for something that shows a community is (i) using specific texts, or (ii) has created an account of a text or three eg. done their own exegesis, or (iii) has created their own texts or collections.

You mentioned the Mishnah and the Talmud in this connection; if the above is not "it" (so to speak), can you quote something from the Mishnah or from the Talmud along the lines of what you are finding in Jewish communities but not in Christian communities?
I can't do that at this stage. I'll try to come back to it.

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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:10 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:26 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 pm
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:07 pm
Yes, a pretty detailed description of worship, which is good, though no-specific 'memoirs'.
Elsewhere Justin mentions that the memoirs were written by the apostles and by their followers, and more specifically he also names either "the memoirs of Peter" or "the memoirs of Christ," depending on how you read the sentence. Is that what you are talking about?
Sure, though of course it'd be great if he'd named something 'more known' such as the epistle or even the Gospel of Peter, or perhaps Marks memoirs of Peter ie. the Gospel of Mark, commonly cited to Mark as the hearer of Peter
For whatever it may be worth, I think Mark is what he meant by the memoirs of Peter; but it is possible to disagree with my assessment.

But surely you must be aware that countless church fathers name all the gospels they accept, and even name the ones they do not accept, from Irenaeus through Clement and Tertullian and Origen and Victorinus to Eusebius and beyond. You must also be aware that Papias is quoted as naming texts by Mark and by Matthew (I doubt John and Luke had been written/completed by then). If that is all you are after, I think you are set.

If you are after one other thing: a frank and open discussion about how that particular church father's community came to accept the gospels it accepts, then I fear you will be disappointed. But why should that bother you? The fathers were, one and all, at pains to avoid the impression that they were in any way unique in their choice of gospels; they emphasize and draw out and hammer home the point that all right thinking churches everywhere accept the same gospels they do. To discuss how their own church came to accept those gospels would shatter the mirage. You may as well be asking a faith healer to talk about his tricks. No, what the fathers want you to believe is that the Holy Spirit guided all orthodox churches into accepting the same four gospels; in order to peek behind the scenes at the ecclesiastical pressures and such that may have actually gone into the process we have to read between the lines.

We do have Serapion:

For we, brethren, receive both Peter and the other apostles as Christ, but the pseudepigrapha that go by their name we reject, as experienced men, knowing that we did not recieve such things. For I myself, when I was with you, had in mind that you all were bearing into the right faith, and, without going through the gospel borne forth by them in the name of Peter, I said that, if this was all that seems to bring about pettiness for you, let it be read. But having now learned from what was said to me that their mind was holing up in some heresy, I shall hasten to be with you again; wherefore, brethren, expect me in quickness. But we, brethren, taking in of what kind of heresy Marcianus was, who also contradicted himself, not thinking about what he was saying, which things you will learn from the things that I have written to you, were enabled by others who studied this same gospel, that is, by the successors of those who began it, whom we called docetics, for most of the thoughts are of their teaching, using [material] from them to go through and find that most things are of the right word of the savior, but some things are spurious, which things we order out for you.

He discusses why the gospel of Peter is to be rejected (after he had originally thought it harmless). And of course others (Origen, for example) discuss texts they reject, as well.
I'm not looking for references to texts written to other communities, other than texts that might contain information about the originating community. I'm looking for something that shows a community is (i) using specific texts, or (ii) has created an account of a text or three eg. done their own exegesis, or (iii) has created their own texts or collections.
Your first point is met: we have lots of fathers telling us which texts they (and by extension their churches) accept. Your second point is not clear to me, since we once again have lots of church fathers giving us lots of textual exegesis (far more than the accounts of persecutions you said were rampant), and individuals do exegesis, not communities (even today). Your third point is problematic, as described above: no church is going to claim to have written their own sacred texts, even if that is exactly what they have done; they are, of course, going to say that they got those texts from the apostles and from those who followed them.
You mentioned the Mishnah and the Talmud in this connection; if the above is not "it" (so to speak), can you quote something from the Mishnah or from the Talmud along the lines of what you are finding in Jewish communities but not in Christian communities?
I can't do that at this stage. I'll try to come back to it.
Okay. Please do. That may clarify to me what you are trying to say.
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