Ben C. Smith wrote: ↑
Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:15 pm
How violent do you take the early Jesus movement to have been? Do you think that Jesus was crucified between two bandits because both he and they were seditionists? What do you make of this passage?
Matthew 11.12: 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence [? βιάζεται], and violent men take it by force [? ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν].
Luke 16.16: 16 The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it [εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται].
You tend to focus on observance of the law when you discuss the Fourth Philosophy, but what do you make of the more violent tendencies of that movement?
Well, Christian writings themselves tell us how violent some
Christians were (however factual you take it is another matter). According to Acts 21 and 23, there were some Christians who stirred up a riot in Jerusalem and tried to kill Paul for teaching against Torah observance and polluting the Temple. That's about as violent as it gets, and while I don't gather Jewish Christian leaders encouraged or approved of their violence, they shared their point of view and attempted to placate them in Acts 21:20-24:
Then they said to Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. But they are under the impression that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe our customs. What then should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.
Therefore do what we advise you. There are four men with us who have taken a vow. Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that there is no truth to these rumors about you, but that you also live in obedience to the law.
So there was a spectrum of violence within Christianity, as there was within the Fourth Philosophy as a whole (and in the big picture, within Pharisaic Judaism as a whole regarding the degree of participation in or support for the Fourth Philosophy, ala Josephus). And I guess the question boils down to how violent was Jesus, and I suppose his approach to "bringing all to destruction" (as Josephus describes the consequences of the Fourth Philosophy) was relatively moderate but extremely passive aggressive and in keeping with what Josephus says about Fourth Philosophers in Ant. 18.1.6:
They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord. And since this immovable resolution of theirs is well known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; nor am I afraid that any thing I have said of them should be disbelieved, but rather fear, that what I have said is beneath the resolution they show when they undergo pain.
Mk. 8:31-32 and 14:61-62:
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke this message quite frankly ...
Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
May the four winds blow you home again.