The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

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Secret Alias
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The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:20 am

I dislike 'Jewish Christianity' theorists because of the hidden presuppositions in their theories. The most annoying thing about 'Jewish Christianity' theorists is that they inevitably develop their theories around the clues given to us by the Church Fathers - people with a pronounced interest in denying the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' tradition. Of this much we can be certain:

a. the heresies that Church Fathers spend the most time denouncing are of the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' tradition (Marcionism, Valentinism, Basilideanism)
b. the Patristic literature that survives is almost exclusively (save for the Alexandrian tradition) of the 'Jesus born from a Holy Virgin) tradition
c. the idea that there was a 'Jewish Christianity' which formed the 'counter balance' to (1) and (2) is reported almost as an afterthought. Until Epiphanius there is no 'eyewitness' testimony (i.e. a meeting with a 'Jewish Christian,' someone who cites from literature associated with the 'total human Jesus'

My assumption from all of this is that it is at least possible that 'Jewish Christianity' - in the Eisenman, Tabor, variety - is a wholly invented commodity. It was invented to provide a 'counter weight' to the actual situation in the second century - i.e. that all the opponents of the Church Fathers were of the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' tradition.

It is worth noting that Celsus's counter balance to Marcionism is a proto-orthodox tradition which held that Jesus was born to a Virgin (i.e. in Books 1 and 2). Even Celsus can't find a 'historical Jesus' tradition.

In fact if we look to the actual source of this historical Jesus tradition it is really based on five things - all textual in natural - with no actually 'eyewitness' reporting data:

1. the falsification of the Pauline gospel (i.e. with the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' opening removed from the beginning and most scenes which reinforce Jesus's phantom nature altered or removed i.e. the flying Jesus)
2. the falsification of the Pauline letters (i.e. with Paul periodically spouting out things which assume Jesus's humanity)
3. chapter 26 in Irenaeus's Against Heresies. This one section in the 'second part' of a heresiological list perhaps originally found in Justin's Syntagma is used and reused in other heresiological compendiums without any new evidence. Basically the section begins with a certain heretical named 'Cerinthus' (who is identified also by the name 'Merinthus' by Epiphanius and identified as the 'Jewish Christian' instigator causing Peter to stumble against Paul in Antioch and then moving on to the 'Ebionites' the penultimate Jewish Christian sect. Cerinthus later appears as the opponent of the apostles in the Epistle of the Apostle and the opponent of John in Book Three. The description of his sect is basically as a two powers heresy which denied the Virgin Birth. Cerinthus is an adoptionist who seems to match up with those who use the Gospel of Mark incorrectly in Book Three i.e. those who say Christ was a spiritual being who watched Jesus suffer on the Cross leaving him after uniting with Jesus at baptism. It is difficult to make sense of the Gospel of Mark parallel given the fact that the description of the Gospel of the Ebionites has a few notable Markan features too - this despite every effort of Irenaeus to make it seem as if the Ebionites used the gospel of Matthew. This becomes explicit in the second paragraph of chapter 26 where Irenaeus identifies Matthew as the Ebionite gospel (something echoed or intimated at the beginning of Book 3) and that the Ebionites shared many of the beliefs of Cerinthus "and Carpocrates' save only for their opposition to Paul and with respect to 'the prophetical writings' - viz. 'they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner 'their Judaic style of life ... even (to) adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God."
4. Hegesippus. Hegesippus seems to be the source for chapter 25 of Against Heresies - the section that gets 'looped into' the discussion of the Ebionites in the following chapter. But he also constructs a Jerusalem succession list entire fictitious in nature where 'the family of Jesus' formed the 'bloodline' as it were of a Jerusalem church that 'just so happens' to become extinct at the alleged time of publication of Hegesippus original reporting (i.e. when he reports in the first person of Marcellina the Carpocratians encounter with Anicetus. The Roman succession list used by Irenaeus in Book 3 (undoubtedly also fictitious also comes from Hegesippus) happens to have been expanded by a 'second edition' of Hegesippus. This means that whereas in the earlier edition of Hegesippus you had two succession lists ultimately ending in the year 147 CE, a later expansion of the same work continued the Roman succession list down to a much later period. What this underscores then is that the textual tradition associated with Hegesippus was extremely unstable. This becomes even more apparent when we see that Clement seems to know of a chronology written by a person of a closely related name - Joseph or Josephus - which also stopped in the very same year 147 CE. The idea that there was a bloodline of Jesus established as part of a 'counter Church' in Jerusalem entirely Jewish in nature around a large family of Jesus is clearly fictitious in nature as it goes so completely against everything else we know about Christianity. It is not cited at all in any of the anti-Marcionite literature which makes clear to me at least that these writers knew that there was historicity to any of these claims. It was only resurrected by Eusebius in a period where most of Christian history had disappeared.
5. the Clementine literature. Another fictitious literary 'history' which develops around a preposterous plot - viz. a certain 'Clement' hears an unknown Christian preacher in Rome and goes to Alexandria to be initiated into Christianity and later spends time in Palestine watching the 'true Church' combat a lone wolf heretic who happens to have ensnared his father (in one version of the story) or becomes part of a fantastic plot in which he discovers his mother is also there with his twin brothers Nicetas and Aquila. In short none of this is history. It's all part of a fantastic romance. But isn't it interesting that Jewish history only exists within the realm of fiction! It is the only place that these 'Ebionites' actually exist.

Perhaps one more source could be identified as having an influence on this situation - viz. the report buried in the Pauline epistles that certain 'Judaizers' entered into the Church. This undoubtedly forms the basis for most of these romances. Yet was Paul reporting on an actual sect or simply labeling those who disagreed with him 'Jews' or 'Jewish'?
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John2
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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by John2 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:02 pm

No wonder you don't seem fond of me then. You dislike my entire approach. I think of Christianity as beginning as a faction of the Fourth Philosophy (not that I think Christians or any other Fourth Philosophic faction went around thinking, "We're Fourth Philosophers." I understand it is entirely Josephus' label for the various messianic "hotheads" that existed during the first century CE, but to me, Jewish Christians were another type of these "hotheads").

So in other words, I see Christianity as being Jewish from the start, and only later (after 70 CE) did it become other things (Marcionism, Valentinism and such). And I think Hegesippus is our best source for Christian history from c. 60 CE to the mid-second century CE. And prior to that, I think Josephus describes Fourth Philosophic Jesus-types well in War 2.13.4:
These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty.


To me, Jesus, in his way (to judge from the gospel of Mark, which I see as being the earliest gospel and as being written by Mark, a follower of Peter, as Papias says, which I gather irks you too), was just another one of these guys. But his way of "procuring innovations and changes of government" was to teach against the oral Torah of the Pharisees, suffer, die, resurrect and then come back on the clouds of heaven as a Son of Man/Suffering Servant/Davidic Messiah hybrid. In other words, I think Mark gives us as accurate an idea of Jesus' philosophy as we are going to get (and I suppose that too irks you, not that I'm trying to).

I have a hard time otherwise understanding the existence of post-70 CE Jewish Christianity. I can only imagine in this scenario Jews thinking, "You know, Judaism is cool and all, but it's just not messianic enough." "I heard the Gentiles have a Messiah. He sounds cool, only let's make him an historical human being."

It looks to me like everyone but Jewish Christians (and their offshoots) had an issue with a normal human Jesus who had a normal human family. They all (proto-Catholics and Gnostics) appear to need to "explain" this detail in order to fit their particular point of view (e.g., Mary's perpetual virginity, Docetism, or what have you). It seems to be as much of an "obstacle" for Catholics as it is for Gnostics.

I'm starting to take more of an interest in Marcion now though, and I see that he's in the same boat as Jewish Christians, as far as knowing about him via what the Church fathers say. I'm curious to sort through it all (starting with Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius) and am keeping an open mind. I was even thinking of starting a thread on Marcion, but maybe this would be a good place to examine the information we have about him and see how it compares to the information we have about Jewish Christianity and let the chips fall where they may.
Now the die is shaken, now the die must fall, there ain't a winner in the game, he don't go home with all.

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Jax
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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by Jax » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:40 pm

I tend to lean towards SA's position. The complete lack of any (and I mean 0) Christian works of the first few centuries that are in Aramaic and or Hebrew seems very odd to me. We know that the vast majority of the DSS are in these languages with only a small smattering of Greek texts and yet not only are there no Christian documents in these languages but also no mention of Christianity by anyone from the Levant. Odd.

Paul is the joker in this deck however as he seems to be continuing a Jewish line of theology (after a fashion) and seems to have other Jews with him in it. Everything that we have about early Christianity seems to originate from Greece and Asia Minor however.

(I hit the Submit button with trepidation) ;)

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:52 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:20 am

My assumption from all of this is that it is at least possible that 'Jewish Christianity' - in the Eisenman, Tabor, variety - is a wholly invented commodity.
.
I agree, certainly the version of 'Jewish Christianity' that is currently widely asserted or narrated is likely to be mostly if not wholly invented.

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:20 am
It was invented to provide a 'counter weight' to the actual situation in the second century - i.e. that all the opponents of the Church Fathers were of the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' tradition.
The 'opponents' are depicted as contemporary but the 'Jesus a god descending from heaven' tradition may have been a fore-runner tradition;, or, the 'proto-orthodox tradition' may have been secondary.

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:54 pm

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:02 pm

.. I think of Christianity as beginning as a faction of the Fourth Philosophy ... Jewish Christians were another type of [the 1st century] "hotheads".
.
.
To me, Jesus, in his way... was just another one of these guys. But his way of "procuring innovations and changes of government" was to suffer, die, resurrect and then come back on the clouds of heaven as a Son of Man/Suffering Servant/Davidic Messiah hybrid. In other words, I think Mark gives us as accurate an idea of Jesus' philosophy as we are going to get ...
.
.
It looks to me like everyone but Jewish Christians (and their offshoots) had an issue with a normal human Jesus who had a normal human family.
.
When do you think Jesus existed?

How can he be "a normal human Jesus who had a normal human family" if "his way of 'procuring innovations and changes of government' was to suffer, die, resurrect and then come back on the clouds of heaven as a Son of Man/Suffering Servant/Davidic Messiah hybrid"?

Are you saying that is the way he was deified; the way he became an apotheosis?

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:02 pm
And I think Hegesippus is our best source for Christian history from c. 60 CE to the mid-second century CE.
Why do you think that?

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:02 pm
And prior to that, I think Josephus describes Fourth Philosophic Jesus-types well in War 2.13.4:
These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty.
Doesn't that refer to the immediate pre-War period (say 50-64 AD/CE)?

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by John2 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:58 pm

Jax wrote:
The complete lack of any (and I mean 0) Christian works of the first few centuries that are in Aramaic and or Hebrew seems very odd to me.


Well, okay, but we do have Greek writings from this period, since the Christianity that survived was largely that of Greek-speaking Gentiles and those are the ones that they used and preserved. But we are told by those acquainted with Jewish Christians and/or Jewish Christianity that they used Hebrew writings, and, in my view, the medieval Hebrew Matthews make more sense than the Greek in some interesting cases, which gives me the impression that Matthew may have been originally written in Hebrew, like Church fathers say (starting with the first one to mention Matthew, Papias).
We know that the vast majority of the DSS are in these languages with only a small smattering of Greek texts and yet not only are there no Christian documents in these languages but also no mention of Christianity by anyone from the Levant. Odd.

Yes, and the majority of the DSS are dated to the Herodian era, during the time of the Fourth Philosophy, and they share many characteristics with Jewish Christianity, and I think some of them may even be Jewish Christian (such as 4QMMT, which is dated up to 50 CE).
Archaic (250-150 BCE) 21 manuscripts
Archaic to Hasmonean (200-150) 20 manuscripts
Hasmonean (150-ca. 50) 224 manuscripts
Transition to Herodian (ca 75-1 BCE) 5 manuscripts
Herodian (50 or 30 BCE-68 CE) 418 manuscripts

https://books.google.com/books?id=SBMXn ... ts&f=false
Last edited by John2 on Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by toejam » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:02 pm

I'm in general agreement with John2. It just seems a more natural evolution to go from some form of 2nd Temple Judaic sect -> Jewish Christianity -> Proto-Orthodoxy -> Marcionisms... in a broad sense that is, than to see Jewish Christianity as a later thing...
My study list: https://www.facebook.com/notes/scott-bignell/judeo-christian-origins-bibliography/851830651507208

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by John2 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:23 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
When do you think Jesus existed?
My impression from Christian writings is that Jesus lived in the first century CE (with Matthew placing his birth in the time of Herod c. 5 BCE).
How can he be "a normal human Jesus who had a normal human family" if "his way of 'procuring innovations and changes of government' was to suffer, die, resurrect and then come back on the clouds of heaven as a Son of Man/Suffering Servant/Davidic Messiah hybrid"?
By being a normal human being who thought of himself (or whom others thought of) as being a hybrid of the Son of Man, Suffering Servant, and Davidic Messiah.
Are you saying that is the way he was deified; the way he became an apotheosis?
Nowadays I think Jesus thought of himself as being divine, at least in the sense of being Daniel's "one like a son of man."
Why do you think that [Hegesippus is the best source for Christian history]?
I've given several reasons for it before, such as in this thread.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3114
Doesn't that refer to the immediate pre-War period (say 50-64 AD/CE
Well, okay, but in my view Theudas was one of these "Jesus-types" too and he was active in the 40's CE. As was Judas the Galilean, who was active c. 6 CE.
Now the die is shaken, now the die must fall, there ain't a winner in the game, he don't go home with all.

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:51 pm

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:23 pm

My impression from Christian writings is that Jesus lived in the first century CE (with Matthew placing his birth in the time of Herod c. 5 BCE).

... being a normal human being who thought of himself (or whom others thought of) as being a hybrid of the Son of Man, Suffering Servant, and Davidic Messiah.

Nowadays I think Jesus thought of himself as being divine, at least in the sense of being Daniel's "one like a son of man."
Cheers.

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:23 pm
Mr MacSon wrote: Why do you think that [Hegesippus is the best source for Christian history]?
I've given several reasons for it before, such as in this thread. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3114
Cheers.

John2 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:23 pm
... but in my view Theudas was one of these "Jesus-types" too and he was active in the 40's CE. As was Judas the Galilean, who was active c. 6 CE.
Sure. Interestingly, most if not all we know about them comes from Josephus's texts, published after 75 AD/CE - Jewish War 2.433 and Jewish Antiquities 18.1-10 and 18.23; and Acts of the apostles 5.37. http://www.livius.org/articles/religion ... -galilean/



eta: This would be an interesting read

Gunnar Haaland (2009) 'A Villain And The Vips: Josephus On Judas The Galilean And The Essenes' Northern Lights on the Dead Sea Scrolls, pp 237-250

Overview
Josephus account of the Essenes in Bellum 2.11961 is peculiar and conspicuous in several ways. First, it is disproportionately extensive compared to the corresponding accounts of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (B.J. 2.16266). Furthermore, the insertion of the entire excursus into the record of Judas the Galileans call for insurgency seems at first sight totally misplaced. This chapter examines the narrative function of this famous account of the Essenes within its immediate literary context, and discusses what authorial concerns and strategies it betrays. Moreover, the chapter addresses the corresponding account in Antiquities 18, and finally discusses a few pertinent matters of historical reconstruction that emerges from Josephus excursuses on the threeor fourschools of Jewish philosophy.

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com ... 3.i-314.74
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Folly of 'Jewish Christianity' Theories

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:52 pm

toejam wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:02 pm
... It just seems a more natural evolution to go from some form of 2nd Temple Judaic sect -> Jewish Christianity -> Proto-Orthodoxy -> Marcionisms...
I agree, but it seems even more natural for it to be a sect that started in the more immediate pre-War period; but the key period for any mid first century Jewish sects would have been the post-War period as the Jewish community settled away from Jerusalem and after they had begun to try to document the Oral Law, necessitating discussion of different interpretations of it.
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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