Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

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robert j
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Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by robert j » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:36 pm

A citation from Richard Carrier from another thread ---
GakuseiDon wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:54 pm
OHJ, p 351 “2 Peter is attacking some Christian heresy we know nothing else about and have no documents from. Instead, we get a forged 'eyewitness testimony' cleverly designed to refute the claim that the Gospel was a myth...”
Was the author of 2 Peter pushing-back against some that were claiming that the NT Gospel stories were myths? Should one interpret this verse in 2 Peter in a similar fashion as Justin Martyr’s push-back against Trypho’s claim that the Christ --- as a Christian messiah figure --- was a marvelous tale, an invention?

I think a different solution is more likely.

For we have not made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ having followed out cleverly devised myths (μύθοις), but having been eyewitnesses (ἐπόπται, advanced initiates) of His majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

I agree with Carrier that the author of 2 Peter was attacking some Christian heresy ---

But there were also false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you also, who will stealthily introduce destructive heresies … (2 Peter 2:1)

And through covetousness they will exploit you with fabricated words … (2 Peter 2:3)

But what “cleverly devised myths (μύθοις)” and what “destructive heresies” and what “fabricated words” was the author of 2 Peter attacking?

I think the answer is found in other relatively late NT texts ---

… so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to give heed to myths (μύθοις) and endless genealogies (γενεαλογίαις), which bring speculations rather than God's stewardship … (1 Timothy 1:3-4) (see also 1 Timothy 4:7 and 2 Timothy 4:4)

The warning against “myths and endless genealogies” provides the clue here. Certainly this is not a polemic against the NT Gospel stories with the long genealogies of Jesus in Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38). Nor do I think the polemic is aimed at the genealogies in the Jewish scriptures for Adam and Eve, Cain, Seth, Noah or Abraham.

I think the complex cosmology of the Christian Valentinians, or some similar heretical cosmology, provides a better fit here for the myths and endless genealogies and for fabricated words. The Valentinian cosmology begins with a perfect, pre-existent, and incomprehensible Aeon named Bythus, along with a female contemporary named Ennoea. Then, as “seed is deposited in a womb” by Bythus, Ennoea gave birth to Nous (aka Monogenes, and Father) who was similar and equal to his father Bythus and capable of understanding Bythus. An Aletheia was also a result of the union between Bythus and Ennoea. Then Nous, the fashioner of the entire Pleroma, sent forth Logos and Zoe who then brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia along with 10 more named Aeons. And Anthropos and Ecclesia produced 12 additional named Aeons. Nous (aka Monogenes, and Father) later gave rise to Christ and the Holy Spirit. This scenario, according to Irenaeus in Book 1, chapters 1 and 2 of Against Heresies, describes a cosmic genealogy beginning with 30 heavenly emanations (Aeons) from which all of creation arose.

But avoid foolish controversies and (καὶ) genealogies and (καὶ) arguments and (καὶ) quarrels about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9)

In this passage in Titus, the “genealogies” might be seen in the same conceptual realm with the Jewish scriptures and “arguments and quarrels about the Law”. However, I think the verse is a list of four various and generally distinct things that should be avoided --- foolish controversies --- and genealogies --- and arguments --- and quarrels about the law,

I think the “cleverly devised myths” (μύθοις)” in 2 Peter 1:16 --- along with the polemics on heresies in chapter 2 --- are best interpreted in light of similar attacks in the Pastorals. All attacks on the myths and genealogies of heretics.

robert j

--- for more evidence and a follow-up post in this thread, see viewtopic.php?p=94887#p94887

--- more on 2 Peter --- Take a Trip with Peter --- viewtopic.php?f=3&t=598
Last edited by robert j on Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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DCHindley
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by DCHindley » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:36 pm

robert j,

I'm not a big fan of the pastorals combating "incipient gnosticism." Maybe in the general epistles, yes.

I see Paul as promoting the "good news" that God has deemed it time to allow gentiles to stand side by side with natural born Judeans as co-heirs of the blessed age God had promised that Abraham's "seed" would one day inherit. To him, it is faith in God's promise to deliver of the promise that justfies one before God. While he sees the Judean people as bound to adhere to the covenants and laws God had commanded them to do, he did not think it incumbent on these faithful gentiles to follow Judean creation/foundation myths and genealogies. It seemed to him that it is a bit like falling into a trap for them, something to be avoided.

In my humble POV, Christians and Paulians (term was made just now up for the occasion) originally had no connection with one another. Christians were originally messianists, following the teachings of Jesus about that coming age. They included Syrians and gentiles who hoped to one day share in the bounty of it. Over time they separated from Judaism, probably due to the social stratification and war crimes committed by all sides, Judean & gentile, in the Judean revolt of 66-70 CE. It was apparently a bitter divorce. Over time, the gentile faction transformed Jesus into a divine redeemer to distance themselves from Judean messianism.

The common ground between Paul's followers and the early gentile Christians was the hope of enjoying a future blessed age, and it was a Christian teacher who found a trove or troves of Pauline letters, and his POV was interpolated into Paul's original letters.

The kind of Christians who wrote the four Gospels, Acts and General Epistles were more sophisticated than the teacher who interpolated the Pauline letters. To them, the myths & genealogies spoken of in Paul's letters were not to be taken as Judean myths & genealogies, but Gnostic ones, because that was what was challenging the "apostolic" authority of their times. The author of 2 Peter tries to explain away the apparent inconsistency in the interpolated letters of Paul as mysteries, probably taken as figures.

But thas' jus' me. :wtf:

DCH

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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:48 pm

DCHindley wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:36 pm
I'm not a big fan of the pastorals combating "incipient gnosticism."
Not even in the form of "the antitheses of knowledge falsely so named" (ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, 1 Timothy 6.20)?
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:58 pm

DCHindley wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:36 pm
The author of 2 Peter tries to explain away the apparent inconsistency in the interpolated letters of Paul as mysteries, probably taken as figures.
I have attempted to demonstrate that 2 Peter's interest in the Pauline epistles is far sharper than that: it is focused specifically upon the so-called "delay of the Parousia." Here is the passage in question:

2 Peter 3.14-16: 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation, just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things difficult to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction.

The exact context for both instances of "these things" is the scoffing of those who suggest that the promised advent is not coming, since everything is still going on as it has since the creation of the world. The "patience of the Lord" is his delayed advent, which leads directly into the motif of unstable people misunderstanding and/or misinterpreting Paul's writings: it seems evident that what is being distorted ("these things") is precisely the Pauline penchant for making the end of all things seem very much at hand. The author of 2 Peter may well consider other passages in Paul to be hard to understand, but the context of this particular passage is very much the expectation of the coming of the Lord.
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by John2 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:08 pm

Should one interpret this verse in 2 Peter in a similar fashion as Justin Martyr’s push-back against Trypho’s claim that the Christ --- as a Christian messiah figure --- was a marvelous tale, an invention?
That's how I see it. I think it would be odd if 2 Peter is refuting Gnosticism considering the gnostic-like language it uses in 1:3-11:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This gnostic-like talk is the set up for 1:16-18, and I think the latter explains what it means in the underlined portions below (and which also uses gnostic-like talk, i.e., "we made known to you"):
For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory came to Him, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we ourselves heard this voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
In other words, I think the answer is given in the passage itself: "We did not follow cleverly devised fables ... but we were eyewitnesses."

"The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and his reception of "honor and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory came to him" are themselves myths ("fanciful stories"), or they would at least sound like myths to someone who wasn't a witness like 2 Peter purports to be, right? So how could it be a knock against myths? As Schreiner puts it:
Peter did not accuse the opponents of propounding myths. On the contrary, the false teachers charged the apostles with spreading myths. Gnosticism as we know emphasized knowledge for the elite, and it is evident that the word "knowledge" was important in 2 Peter. Peter's use of the word "knowledge," however, is not directed in any clear way against the adversaries.

https://books.google.com/books?id=Eq24A ... cs&f=false
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by robert j » Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:05 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:08 pm
... I think it would be odd if 2 Peter is refuting Gnosticism considering the gnostic-like language it uses in 1:3-11:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This gnostic-like talk is the set up for 1:16-18, and I think the latter explains what it means in the underlined portions below (and which also uses gnostic-like talk, i.e., "we made known to you") ...
Do you think the author of 2 Peter --- writing in the name of Peter --- was promoting Gnosticism with this language?

If so, why? And what flavor/sect/brand of Gnosticism was in view?

To what doctrinal camp of Christianity would you place the author of 2 Peter?

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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by John2 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:00 pm

Do you think the author of 2 Peter --- writing in the name of Peter --- was promoting Gnosticism with this language?
No. The DSS use this type of language too and I gather they pre-date Gnosticism. And Paul is big on "knowledge" too (though in his case I suppose he could be called proto-Gnostic, perhaps even proto-Docetic). And, of course, so does the OT, which I suppose is the ultimate root of this kind of thinking.

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1847.htm

https://books.google.com/books?id=dXQzD ... ge&f=false
To what doctrinal camp of Christianity would you place the author of 2 Peter?
I suppose it was written by a post-70 CE Christian who was cool with Paul and Jewish Christianity, since it mentions Paul and his letters, appears to use Jude (which I view as being genuine and thus Jewish Christian) and purports to be Peter (and appears to refer to his letter, which I think is genuine, in 3:1). So to me it sounds like the author could have been a post-70 CE Nazarene Jewish Christian (or someone who was influenced by them). As Pritz notes:
... the Nazarene view of Paul's mission corresponded very closely to that of Paul himself. In none of the remains of Nazarene doctrine can one find a clear rejection of Paul or his mission or his message.

https://books.google.com/books?id=vh84A ... ul&f=false
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John2
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by John2 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:05 pm

And just for the record, I disagree with Pritz when he writes (in the underlined part), "The two most significant things about this excerpt from the Nazarene work [cited by Jerome] are its positive view of Paul, and the refusal to bind Gentile Christians to keeping the Law."

I gather Pritz is referring to Jerome's statement that, "all were free from the errors of the Scribes and the Pharisees and he [Jesus] shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions." But in my view this refers to the oral Torah, like Jesus says in Mk. 7:8-13:
You [Pharisees and scribes] have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men ... You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition ... you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down.


I think this is why the Didache says, "For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able," and why James says in Acts 15:19-21:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not cause trouble for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. For Moses has been proclaimed in every city from ancient times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.


In other words, I take James to be saying that there's no need to bother preaching Torah observance to Gentiles since they can learn about the Torah themselves in synagogues every week. As McKnight writes regarding Acts 15:21 (and 21:20-24):
Purity, then, is rooted in Torah and is a minimal expectation for Gentiles and a maximal expectation for those in Christian Judaism as Acts 21:20-21 and 24 make abundantly clear.

https://books.google.com/books?id=-eZ5D ... ah&f=false
This is what the Didache teaches. "For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able." And I reckon that Nazarene Jewish Christians may have had a similar view. I at least don't get the impression from Pritz's citation of Jerome that they were opposed to Torah observance for Gentiles.
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by John2 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:36 pm

I would suppose that the opponents in 2 Peter are similar to the opponents in the letter of James, i.e., those who do not observe the Torah.

2 Peter 2:17-21:
These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. With lofty but empty words, they appeal to the sensual passions of the flesh and entice those who are just escaping from others who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity. For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them.
2 Peter 3:17:
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
James 2:10-12:
Whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom.
James 3:4:
You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world renders himself an enemy of God.
James 5:19-20:
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, consider this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
It seems like a dichotomy that goes back to the OT: those who observe the Torah vs. those who don't. As the Damascus Document puts it:
Hear now, my sons, and I will uncover your eyes that you may see and understand the works of God, that you choose that which pleases Him and reject that which He hates, that you may walk perfectly in all His ways and not follow after thoughts of the guilty inclination and after eyes of lust. For through them, great men have gone astray and mighty heroes have stumbled from former times till now.
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robert j
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Re: Cleverly Devised Myths --- 2 Peter 1:16

Post by robert j » Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:48 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:00 pm
To what doctrinal camp of Christianity would you place the author of 2 Peter?
I suppose it was written by a post-70 CE Christian who was cool with Paul and Jewish Christianity ... to me it sounds like the author could have been a post-70 CE Nazarene Jewish Christian (or someone who was influenced by them) ...
The author of 2 Peter did rail against sins of sexual immorality, but so did Paul.

What doctrines in the text of 2 Peter do you find that would point to a Jewish Christian author?

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