Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

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Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:30 am

Speculation time again....

I came across and skimmed part of a thesis today, of which one line stood out to me in particular:

Ricardo Pietrantonio, El Mesías Asesinado: El Mesías ben Efraim en el Evangelio de Juan, page 63: El lugar en que se manifiesta primero el Mesías ben Efraim es la Alta Galilea, donde reúne a sus seguidores para marchar hacia Jerusalén a reedificar el templo y ofrecer sacrificios (MidLeqaj Tob Num 24,17).

I would translate:

Ricardo Pietrantonio, The Assassinated Messiah: The Messiah ben Ephraim in the Gospel of John, page 63: The place in which the Messiah ben Ephraim first manifests himself is Upper Galilee, where he (re)unites his followers to march to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple and offer sacrifices (Midrash Lekach Tov, Numbers 24.17).

The original text of that Midrash (century XI) is available online. I have extracted the relevant portion and provided sort of a translation (of all but one part of it, which I cannot seem to find a good rendering for or figure out on my own):

Midrash Lekach Tov, Numbers 24.17: Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Levi [century III], "This teaches that Israel will be gathered in Upper Galilee and that there they will see Messiah ben Joseph out of Galilee; and they will go up, and all Israel with him, to Jerusalem [... ??]. And he will go up and build the Temple and make sacrifices, and the fire will descend from heaven, and he will smite all the Canaanites. / אמר ר' הונא בשם ר' לוי מלמד שיהיו ישראל מקובצין בגליל העליון ויצפה עליהם שם משיח בן יוסף מתוך הגליל והם עולים משם וכל ישראל עמו לירושלים לקיים מה שנא' ובני פריצי עמך ינשאו להעמיד חזון ונכשלו. והוא עולה ובונה את בית המקדש ומקריב קרבנות והאש יורדת מן השמים והוא מוחץ כל הכנענים׃

There is a similar tradition attributed to Hai Goan, as well, in which it is added that an adversary "will slay Messiah ben Joseph" (a somewhat common fate for this messianic figure in the rabbinical texts). But is it my imagination or does the underlined portion of Lekach Tov resemble the angel's words to the women at the tomb in two of our gospels?

Matthew 28.7: 7 "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee; there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

Mark 16.7: 7 "But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'"

Odd that, years after these gospel texts were penned, there should be a Jewish tradition which has the Messiah ben Joseph/Ephraim meeting with Israelites in Galilee and then marching to Jerusalem, where, according to a few texts, he is slain. Whereas Judah, and later Judea, lies in the south, Galilee, of course, is part of the northern area alloted to Israel, often represented by and glossed as Ephraim.

Or could there have been an earlier Jewish tradition linking the Messiah ben Joseph with Galilee, a connection which early Christians exploited in their stories about their own Messiah ben Joseph, as it were? One might posit that, just as the resurrection appearances seem to have originally graced Galilee (Matthew, Mark) before moving to Judea/Jerusalem (Luke, John), so too an original Messiah ben Joseph (Jesus/Joshua, son of Joseph) might have become the more popular Messiah ben David (the Davidic Messiah, fit for an appearance in the capital city).

Roughly speaking, Galilee is to Ephraim/Joseph (and Joshua) as Judea is to Judah (and David).

I am reminded of a passage from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs:

Testament of Benjamin 3.1-8: 1 Therefore, my children, love the Lord God of heaven, and keep His commandments, following the example of the good and holy man Joseph. 2 Incline your thoughts to what is good, as you know it to be with me, because he who has the right mind sees everything properly. 3 Fear the Lord and love your neighbor. If the spirits of Beliar seek to oppress you with wicked tribulation, they will not overcome you, any more than Joseph my brother. 4 Many people wished to kill him, but God watched over him. For the person who fears God and loves his neighbor has on him the fear of God. 5 And the plots of people nor wild animals can overcome him, for he is helped by the Lord from the love which he has to his neighbor. 6 For Joseph also besought our father that he would pray for his brothers, that the Lord would not count to them as sin whatever evil they had done to him. 7 And thus Jacob cried out, "My child Joseph, my kind son, you have prevailed over the inner affections of your father Jacob." And he embraced him, and kissed him for two hours, saying, 8 "In you will be fulfilled the prophecy of heaven [concerning the Lamb of God and Savior of the world], and that a blameless one will be delivered up for lawless men, and a sinless one will die for ungodly men [in the blood of the covenant, for the salvation of the nations and of Israel, and will destroy Beliar and his servants]."

The Armenian version lacks the bracketed phrases, according to R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, volume 2, page 356. Even with those phrases removed as (Christian) interpolations, however, what remains is a prediction that in Joseph shall be fulfilled a prophecy to the effect that a sinless man shall die for lawless men, which is similar to that tradition attributed to Hai Goan insofar as the Josephite Messiah is supposed to die. This prediction is either a Jewish one, in which case we have even more and earlier evidence of this motif, or it is a Christian interpolation; if the latter, then what kind of Christian thought that his or her Messiah was of the line of Joseph and not of David? Perhaps one more familiar with the Galilean tradition than with the Judean tradition?

Incidentally, the main passages in the gospel of John which Ricardo Pietrantonio discusses are:

John 1.45: 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

John 11.54: 54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

He argues that John thus betrays knowledge of Jesus as the Messiah ben Ephraim/Joseph.

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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:59 am

It is as if there is in action a trend that I may call: Reductio ad Davidem.

I wonder if in the belief preceding Mark, Jesus was really considered by all unanimously as the Jewish (Davidic) Messiah.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:16 am

Yes, the big draw or tendency seems to have been in a southern direction. But originally there may have been a more northern view of things.

This kind of northern tradition about a Messiah ben Ephraim/Joseph, also known specifically as the War Messiah in late texts, could also explain why early revolutionaries or zealots might have been called Galileans. It was not just that they happened to be from Galilee, or happened to be followers of a fellow named Judas who was from Galilee; rather, it was that Galilee had a specific tradition about an Ephraimite figure who would wage war against the powers that be, and the Galileans were bent on fulfilling that tradition.

Obviously, a Messiah ben David could be a very martial or militaristic figure, as well, so I am not taking anything away from the Judean traditions. But the combination of a Messiah ben Ephraim (of the line of Joseph) and a Messiah ben David (of the line of Judah) in so many eschatological scenarios could easily have been a matter of coalition building: you bring your Messiah; let us bring ours; and together we can conquer the Romans. Of course, a lot of the details for those scenarios would have come from the scriptures, but some of those scriptural passages were probably written as instances of coalition building in the first place, particularly the blessings of Jacob and of Moses upon the tribes of Israel; so such passages would still just be serving their original purpose.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:33 am

My own take (FWIW). There was a tradition that the name of the future messiah was Efraim. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_ben_Joseph The messiah 'ben Joseph' is another way of saying Ephraim was the name of the messiah (as Menash was a loser). Polycarp was a cumbersome way of expressing Ephraim. There are many signs that 'Polycarp' was so called. The Gospel of John came from the circle of Polycarp (hence its mistrust in Rome and elsewhere). Polycarp's cult understood him to be a second Christ hence the additions to Christianity of this pre-existent tradition. It is worth noting that John also expresses the tradition that Jesus was a Samaritan. Ephraim was the pre-eminent portion of Samaria.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:39 am

Furthermore, the tradition of making Efraim the messiah must have read the Book of Genesis kabbalistically so that Abraham's planting of the eshel tree (331) was pregnant with messianic meaning.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:44 am

Another passage that was part of the Efraim messianic interpretation - Numbers 23:7f:
Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

4 God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

5 The Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

6 So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials. 7 Then Balaam spoke his message:

From Aram (331), Balak, king of Moab, led me from the mountains of the east.
‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;
come, denounce Israel.’
8 How can I curse
those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
those whom the Lord has not denounced?
9 From the rocky peaks I see them,
from the heights I view them.
I see a people who live apart
and do not consider themselves one of the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number even a fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
and may my final end be like theirs!”
Remember the equation of Jesus and Bilaam in rabbinic lore.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:50 am

'And Abraham planted an eschel (331) in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord.' The eschel is the messiah.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:40 am

Another round of speculation....

Many moons ago I critiqued Stephen C. Carlson's treatment of the Matthean genealogy on this forum. Carlson argued, and I agreed, that Matthew did not invent the genealogy which inaugurates his gospel. Rather, he merely used it and modified it a bit. It came to him as a list of 40 names (note the highly symbolic number) running from Abraham to Joseph, with occasional notes about various brothers (those of Judah in Matthew 1.2, of Perez in 1.3, and of Jechoniah in 1.12) along the way; it was, in other words, a Davidic genealogy for Joseph. Matthew turned it into a Davidic genealogy for Jesus by adding Jesus and then using David's gematria (David = 14) to structure the genealogy into three lists of 14 names; he had to double David's name, however, in order to make this work; Matthew also sort of eased the tension between a patrilineal descent from David and a virgin birth involving no male by adding the mentions of various women who, like Mary, had made important or unusual contributions to the line (Tamar in 1.3, Rahab and Ruth in 1.5, and Bathsheba in 1.6).

So far so good. Carlson, however, argued that the original genealogy was meant to justify, with its mentions of brothers, the passing of the Davidic torch from Jesus to his brother James. I objected to this potential reason on the grounds that the original genealogy, ex hypothesi, did not even reach Jesus; it ended at Joseph. My countersuggestion was that the genealogy was actually meant to justify the passing of the Davidic torch from Joseph to his brother Cl(e)op(h)as, whose son Symeon ended up taking over the reins of the Jerusalem church after the death of James, according to Eusebius, citing Hegesippus:

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.11.1-2: 1 After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. 2 They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.

A different potential reason, however, has occurred to me in the interim, bolstered somewhat by the observations made in the OP. This potential reason originally involved Jesus' parentage being originally unknown, but now it might involve his (alleged) parentage being originally Ephraimite. Bear with me.

How the gospel of John treats Jesus' mother has always been interesting. On the one hand, John never names her Mary; on the other, he notes:

John 19.25b: 25b But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene [ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ, καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή].

(I take this sentence as indicating three different women, not two or four, because there are only two instances of καί to separate them all.)

So Jesus' mother has a sister named Mary. Is she herself also, then, a Mary? A common solution is that sister = sister-in-law in this verse, and both Clopas and his brother Joseph married women named Mary. As Mary was a very common name (= Hebrew Miriam), this is possible. However, the fact that John never names Jesus' own mother as Mary is suspicious to me. If we read this gospel on its own, without outside help, we would not know Jesus' mother's name, but we would (think we) know that he had an aunt named Mary.

The Mary is said to be "of Clopas." This could mean "daughter of Clopas," "wife of Clopas," or "mother of Clopas," but "wife of Clopas" seems more likely as the default. For example, a certain Mary is called "Mary of Joses" and "Mary of James" in Mark 15.47 and 16.1, and in this case it seems like she is their mother, but this relationship has already been clarified previously in the gospel, in 15.40. Contrariwise, in Matthew 1.6 Bathsheba is called "she of Uriah" without previous clarification, and we know from the Jewish histories that she was the wife of Uriah. Here in John 19.25b, there is no previous clarification; hence I tend to prefer "wife of Clopas" as the intended meaning, and this is how Eusebius seems to read it in History of the Church 3.32.4 (in which he asserts that this "Mary of Clopas" birthed Symeon, Clopas' son). The most natural reading, then, of John 19.25b is that Jesus' mother has a sister named Mary, and this Mary is the wife of Clopas.

I mean to synthesize several strands of data at this point.

First, Hegesippus says that Clopas and Joseph were brothers (apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.11.2).

Second, Hegesippus also says that both Clopas' son Symeon (apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.32.3) and Jude's grandson's (apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.20.1-6) were accused of being descendants of David; this Jude, of course, is supposedly the brother of James the Just (and of Jesus, if the stories be true, but I shall be casting doubt upon them).

Third, Matthew's genealogy has Joseph, Jesus' alleged father, as a descendant of David.

Fourth, Galatians 1.19 says that James, apparently James the Just, was the brother of the Lord.

However, the purpose of this thread has been to evaluate evidence that Jesus/Joshua was sometimes thought of as an Ephraimite, not as a Judahite.

Also, some early Christians seem to have denied that Jesus was of David (Barnabas 12.10-11).

Furthermore, it is interesting that certain texts, such as Acts, James, and Jude, never connect James and Jude to Jesus as his brothers. Jude [1.]1 identifies the author as the brother of James, but says nothing about being the brother of Jesus.

Finally, as per the OP, it is easily understandable why at least some Christians would desperately want to turn Jesus into a descendant of David, even if he was not originally considered to have been such.

My suggested trajectory is as follows:
  1. Jesus was originally conceived of as Jesus/Joshua, the War Messiah, Messiah ben Ephraim, Messiah ben Joseph. He was thought of as Galilean. His actual parentage, however, was unknown.
  2. There was a family in Judea which claimed Davidic descent; this family consisted of the parents: Clopas and Mary, and several sons: Jacob/James, Joseph/Joses, Judas/Jude, and Symeon/Simon. The claimed Davidic descent was no idle fancy; it was an expression of nationalistic zeal.
  3. Clopas had, as per Hegesippus, a(n older) brother named Joseph, who bore for himself a genealogy testifying to his Davidic heritage.
  4. This Joseph, however, died without male issue. The genealogy was, with the addition of some notes about brothers, pressed instead into service as a justification for Clopas being the father of at least two leaders of the revolutionary cult in Jerusalem: James and Symeon (assuming that Mark 6.3 lists the sons in birth order, perhaps Joses and Jude were dead by the time Symeon took over; or perhaps Joses was the black sheep, never on board with the family enterprise).
  5. Various individuals, including at least three of these brothers, called themselves "the brothers of the Lord" (Galatians 1.19; 1 Corinthians 9.5). As per Wells, Jesus himself even calls certain followers "my brothers" in various passages (John 19.17, Matthew 25.40; 28.10). These are not all Christians in general; nor are they blood brothers. Originally, "the Lord" in question may simply have been Yahweh; later on, of course, it would have been "remembered" as having applied to Jesus.
  6. In addition to James famously being called "the brother of the Lord" in Galatians 1.19, Jesus himself was supposedly a ben Joseph = a "son of Joseph." This was originally with reference to his messianic status as Ephraim's heir, but Clopas has that brother named Joseph, too.
  7. So the table was set. The urge to make Jesus Davidic, as well as to ensure that he is of sound parentage, would have seized upon James being "the brother of the Lord" as an invitation to retroactively adopt him into this purportedly Davidic family. But the fit was not perfect, since Joseph was not James' father, but rather his uncle. So some juggling had to be done, and things got a bit confused/confusing. Joseph became the father, not only of Jesus, but also of Clopas' rightful sons. Usually he pulled Clopas' wife Mary with him in the tradition (creating the famous Christmas pair: Joseph and Mary), but (as we have seen in John 19.25b) not always.
  8. James, being extremely famous in his own right, was seldom if ever identified by his father's name. So his name permeates the tradition as "James the brother of the Lord" (or, later, "of Jesus"), "James the Just," and "James of Jerusalem." Sometimes he could even be introduced as just plain James, with no qualifier (Acts 12.17; and notice, "James and the brethren"). His brother Symeon, however, was less famous, and was therefore identified far more often by his father's name. But, as we have seen, his father was Clopas, not Joseph, and this is how Hegesippus preserves his legacy, turning him accidentally into a cousin of Jesus and James (whereas he was actually James' brother, and Jesus actually had nothing genetically to do with this family).
  9. Thus, Jesus/Joshua was originally the Messiah ben Joseph, but came to be known as the Messiah ben David instead, owing to the natural southward pull of the tradition. This whole process of integrating Jesus into a good Davidic family parallels the process by which a narrative originally centered on Galilee (as is still apparent in Matthew and Mark, especially as pertains to the venue for the resurrection appearances) was transformed into a narrative centered on Judea and Jerusalem.
This reconstruction accounts for a lot of data, as well as a fair number of the tensions, contradictions, and confusions endemic in the tradition. So, obviously, it is ripe for getting as many holes poked in it as reasonably possible. What do you think?

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Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:33 am
It is worth noting that John also expresses the tradition that Jesus was a Samaritan. Ephraim was the pre-eminent portion of Samaria.
I have been thinking a lot recently about John 8.48 in this connection, since you are right: the original territory of Ephraim all by itself is basically Samaria. John 4.9 has a Samari(t)an woman calling him a Judean/Jew, however, and John 8.48 could just be a slur fit for any northerner. Or perhaps he actually was originally thought of as a Samari(t)an (cue all the Simon Magus lore) in an even earlier layer than I am exploring right now. I am honestly not at all sure yet. (I was actually going to post a thread about how Jesus is called a Samari(t)an, a Jew/Judean, and a Galilean at various junctures, but then that Argentinian article came to my attention, and I changed course for the time being.)

ETA: The following outlier may also reflect a belief in a Messiah ben Joseph destined to die at the time of the end:

4 Ezra 7.26-34: 26 For behold, the time will come, when the signs which I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city which now is not seen shall appear, and the land which now is hidden shall be disclosed. 27 And every one who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders. 28 For my son the Messiah [Filius meus Iesus, Vulgate] shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years. 29 And after these years my son the Messiah [Filius meus Christus, Vulgate] shall die, and all who draw human breath. 30 And the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings; so that no one shall be left. 31 And after seven days the world, which is not yet awake, shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish. 32 And the earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who dwell silently in it; and the chambers shall give up the souls which have been committed to them. 33 And the Most High shall be revealed upon the seat of judgment, and compassion shall pass away, and patience shall be withdrawn; 34 but only judgment shall remain, truth shall stand, and faithfulness shall grow strong.

The Vulgate has a Jesus/Joshua dying at the end of a messianic period of 400 years (assuming that the Messiah is the same figure in both verses). If this is a Jewish variant, then this is more evidence of belief in a dying Joshua Messiah. If it is a Christian variant, then what kind of Christian would confuse Jesus with a Messiah destined to die at the end of the messianic era? Perhaps a Jewish Christian steeped in Ephraimite rather than Judahite eschatology?
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by John2 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:13 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:16 am
Yes, the big draw or tendency seems to have been in a southern direction. But originally there may have been a more northern view of things.

This kind of northern tradition about a Messiah ben Ephraim/Joseph, also known specifically as the War Messiah in late texts, could also explain why early revolutionaries or zealots might have been called Galileans. It was not just that they happened to be from Galilee, or happened to be followers of a fellow named Judas who was from Galilee; rather, it was that Galilee had a specific tradition about an Ephraimite figure who would wage war against the powers that be, and the Galileans were bent on fulfilling that tradition.

Obviously, a Messiah ben David could be a very martial or militaristic figure, as well, so I am not taking anything away from the Judean traditions. But the combination of a Messiah ben Ephraim (of the line of Joseph) and a Messiah ben David (of the line of Judah) in so many eschatological scenarios could easily have been a matter of coalition building: you bring your Messiah; let us bring ours; and together we can conquer the Romans. Of course, a lot of the details for those scenarios would have come from the scriptures, but some of those scriptural passages were probably written as instances of coalition building in the first place, particularly the blessings of Jacob and of Moses upon the tribes of Israel; so such passages would still just be serving their original purpose.

I have not been inclined to agree with anything you've ever said on the forum more than the above and just wanted to express my appreciation for how well you put it.

The only thing I would add is that while the concept of a/the Messiah goes back to OT, in the context of Roman times it is notable that Josephus says that aside from their extremism Fourth Philosophic rebels agreed with Pharisaic notions, hence (I think) messianism being a tenet of Rabbinic Judaism and the messianic figures and scenarios in rabbinic writings you mention above and (thus) the commonalities with Christian writings, since I view Christianity as being a Fourth Philosophic faction.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:25 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:13 pm
I have not been inclined to agree with anything you've ever said on the forum more than the above and just wanted to express my appreciation for how well you put it.
Thanks, John.
John2 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:13 pm
The only thing I would add is that while the concept of a/the Messiah goes back to OT, in the context of Roman times it is notable that Josephus says that aside from their extremism Fourth Philosophic rebels agreed with Pharisaic notions, hence (I think) messianism being a tenet of Rabbinic Judaism and the messianic figures and scenarios in rabbinic writings you mention above and (thus) the commonalities with Christian writings, since I view Christianity as being a Fourth Philosophic faction.
There was definitely overlap between the various groups.
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