The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

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

Post by archibald » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:19 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:26 pm
But I'm not after references to other communities ie. recipients of letters. I'd expect accounts of communities the letters come from.
We are all familiar with the opinion, 'If Jesus existed, I'd expect more mention of him', or the general, 'if (something) was the case, I'd expect more mention of x, y or z'. But what is your 'something' in this case? I don't think you are questioning the existence of these early communities, and in the OP you seem ok with Judea as a starter point, so......

Previously, when I asked you what scenario or type of 'alternative' scenarios you were painting, you said Jax had floated one (about Christianity not having had a Jewish origin), but then you started this thread and in the OP you seemed to be arguing against Jax's idea.

Perhaps you are just tossing ideas around. That's fine. But what ideas?

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Jax
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Jax » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:03 am

archibald wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:19 am
MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:26 pm
But I'm not after references to other communities ie. recipients of letters. I'd expect accounts of communities the letters come from.
We are all familiar with the opinion, 'If Jesus existed, I'd expect more mention of him', or the general, 'if (something) was the case, I'd expect more mention of x, y or z'. But what is your 'something' in this case? I don't think you are questioning the existence of these early communities, and in the OP you seem ok with Judea as a starter point, so......

Previously, when I asked you what scenario or type of 'alternative' scenarios you were painting, you said Jax had floated one (about Christianity not having had a Jewish origin), but then you started this thread and in the OP you seemed to be arguing against Jax's idea.

Perhaps you are just tossing ideas around. That's fine. But what ideas?
I would like to clarify this a bit.

Actually what I propose is that the Christianity of the Gospels, Acts, and some of the non-Pauline letters (all but the authentic six) are of Greek and Roman origin. The authentic Pauline letters and some of the other letters (Jude and James perhaps) and perhaps Revelation may have a base in the Judaism of the Levant.

Historically, that Christianity radiated out from the areas of Greece and Asia Minor in the late 1st century and early 2nd century seems secure. There is however no sign historically that this is the case for Jerusalem and Judea in the 1st century or early to mid 2nd century.

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:20 am

Personally, I think that seems fairly uncontroversial.

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Jax
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Jax » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm

archibald wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:20 am
Personally, I think that seems fairly uncontroversial.
Depends on who you talk to I guess. It should be obvious from the available data.

Paul is talking about a Yeshua 'YVHV saves' Messiah of some kind and his later followers created a Jesus of the Gospels from the little that they could tease out of his letters.

Seems simple enough.

andrewcriddle
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:55 am

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.
See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3444&p=74650&#p74650


Andrew Criddle

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:41 am

Jax wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm
Paul is talking about a Yeshua 'YVHV saves' Messiah of some kind and his later followers created a Jesus of the Gospels from the little that they could tease out of his letters.

Seems simple enough.

I wonder if you're segueing from the non-controversial initial statement into something se-lightly more controversial. :)

So to check I haven't picked you up wrong I'll ask, who do you think 'Paul' was talking about?

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DCHindley
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by DCHindley » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:36 am

andrewcriddle wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:55 am
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.
See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3444&p=74650&#p74650
Unfortunately, Tuccinardi's article is behind a pay-firewall at OUP. However, I did find a place where Tuccinardi discusses the article and the method employed, here:

http://cristianesimoprimitivo.forumfree.it/?t=72122493

He (under user name "Saulnier") cites Neil's summary on his Vridar blog approvingly.

The technique employed was "Simplified Profile Intersection" (or SPI) comparison. The process is a bit over my head (as my head presently exists) but the comparison of Pliny Book 10 (all the epistles together) with Cicero & Seneca and then the epistle of Pliny to Trajan about Christians (PT) shows that PT is just as far an outlier to the SPI measure of Pliny book 10 as a whole as was Seneca or Cicero.

(Tuccinardi, Enrico) Simplified Profile Intersection comparison 10-Figure4-1.png
(Tuccinardi, Enrico) Simplified Profile Intersection comparison 10-Figure4-1.png (115.36 KiB) Viewed 545 times
Larry Hurtado reviews the results of Tuccinardi's analysis as published in a 2014 article in Italian, here:

https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016 ... hristians/

WRT the n-gram difference in style between Pliny's letters in books 1-9 versus book 10, I was wondering whether Trobisch's observation that letters that are self-published tend to be far more polished than those published by others, is relevant here. Yet if book 10 is published by someone other than Pliny the Younger, where would that person have got access to so many letters addressed to & from Trajan? Trajan's own archives of correspondence?

Per Neil, "An exhaustive analysis has been carried out by Gamberini (Stylistic Theory and Practice in the Younger Pliny, pp. 332–376) demonstrating that, in comparison with Books I–IX, Book X is characterized by a lack of figures of speech and that its letters point up a complex hypotactic structure instead of the parataxis and brevity typical of the first nine books.

My apologies if this has already been addressed in this or the earlier BC&H thread.

DCH
Last edited by DCHindley on Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Jax
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by Jax » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:44 am

archibald wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:41 am
Jax wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm
Paul is talking about a Yeshua 'YVHV saves' Messiah of some kind and his later followers created a Jesus of the Gospels from the little that they could tease out of his letters.

Seems simple enough.

I wonder if you're segueing from the non-controversial initial statement into something se-lightly more controversial. :)

So to check I haven't picked you up wrong I'll ask, who do you think 'Paul' was talking about?
I don't know.

As you know, I think that there is a reasonable possibility that Paul is writing in the mid to late 1st century BCE. If he is then I can only guess that he may be talking about the individual called the Teacher of Righteousness described in the DSS.

If he is from the area of Damascus...

If the Damascus Document is literal....

If there really was a Teacher of Righteousness....

if he isn't talking about something or someone else completely. Jesus is the Christ = Yeshua is the Messiah = 'YHVH saves' is the Messiah. YHVH = Yahweh = "That which creates" is the tetragrammaton for God so Jesus Christ is literally "God saves" the Messiah.

And maybe there really was some guy named Jesus who was crucified that Paul is talking about that never got recorded by history.

And of course my pet theory could be completely and utterly wrong.

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DCHindley
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by DCHindley » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:46 am

Piggybacking on comments regarding the authenticity of Pliny's letter 10.96 to Trajan, here is a little more background to use of n-grams as compared to other means to identify authorship:

Efstathios Stamatatos, Author Identification Using Imbalanced and Limited Training Texts (Proc of the 4th Intl Wkshp on Text-based Info Retrvl, 2007)
http://www.uni-weimar.de/medien/webis/e ... g-sets.pdf

Efstathios Stamatatos, A Survey of Modern Authorship Attribution Methods (JAIST 60-3, 558-556, 2009)
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf

Anđelka Zečević, N-gram Based Text Classification According To Authorship (Student Research Workshop, pp. 145–149, 2011)
http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/R11-2023

It seems that it works best with identifying the author of programming source code, and identifying the authors of e-mail, but like all the methods in use today, must be "trained" and here is where the weakness lies. We don't have a corpus of works we can be 100% confident were written 100% by Pliny, of Seneca, or Cicero, etc., but we can do that with code written by programmers (this means you, wonk!).

The web nowadays hates the concept of associating dates with texts and other files preserved online, but I researched when the articles above were written and where, and included some publication data above. Also, it doesn't help that many of the articles on Pliny's letter 10.96 compared to his other letters in Book 10 are in Pay-firewall environments. Even scribd.com seems to be running scripts as bad as anything on a site like Huffpost, the Sun, etc. Maybe it is my 9 yr old old computer, I don't know. Any smartass who suggests that I join the 21st century and get a newer computer, will find my electronic hand reaching through the internet connection to slap you silly.

DCH

Edit 1/14/18: Researched when the articles above were written and where, and included some publication data
Last edited by DCHindley on Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

archibald
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Re: The syncretistic origins of Christianity.

Post by archibald » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:22 pm

Jax wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:44 am
archibald wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:41 am
Jax wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm
Paul is talking about a Yeshua 'YVHV saves' Messiah of some kind and his later followers created a Jesus of the Gospels from the little that they could tease out of his letters.

Seems simple enough.

I wonder if you're segueing from the non-controversial initial statement into something se-lightly more controversial. :)

So to check I haven't picked you up wrong I'll ask, who do you think 'Paul' was talking about?
I don't know.

As you know, I think that there is a reasonable possibility that Paul is writing in the mid to late 1st century BCE. If he is then I can only guess that he may be talking about the individual called the Teacher of Righteousness described in the DSS.

If he is from the area of Damascus...

If the Damascus Document is literal....

If there really was a Teacher of Righteousness....

if he isn't talking about something or someone else completely. Jesus is the Christ = Yeshua is the Messiah = 'YHVH saves' is the Messiah. YHVH = Yahweh = "That which creates" is the tetragrammaton for God so Jesus Christ is literally "God saves" the Messiah.

And maybe there really was some guy named Jesus who was crucified that Paul is talking about that never got recorded by history.

And of course my pet theory could be completely and utterly wrong.
Admirably non-dogmatic. :)

That of course is a consideration of 'stage 1' (the origin). We might consider the subsequent 'spread' to be stage 2. I suppose we could say that stage 2 is not quite so difficult to pin down, there being more textual evidence, albeit incomplete and leaving room for distortion.

My personal take on it is that while stage 1 was probably Judean, in stage 2, 2nd-3rd C Christianity spread from the mediterranean places referred to by 'Paul' and not from Judea because (a) the original Judean followers weren't trying to export it to gentiles, (b) that they stayed closer to home and were more inward looking (and solidly Jewish), (c) the goings on in Judea mitigated against growth, especially the losing war with the Romans and the destruction of their main centre, Jerusalem.

So the original Jewish version dwindled, the Hellenistic version prospered, and 'Pauline' orthodoxy gradually emerged and won out. Not that they were mutually exclusive versions, of course. The latter incorporated parts of the Jewishness of the former, but de-emphasised them.

There may also have been other versions which also dwindled.

I know that this is apallingly mainstream-ish, but I'm ok with that, for lack of a better alternative

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