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

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:28 pm

Speculation, my turn.

We can see the source for a dying messiah and multiple messiahs in the canonical literature. Later rabbinic accounts are most easily explained as deriving from speculations on their Holy Writ than Christianity.

Thomas L. Thompson has brought attention to these texts:

1. the earliest messiah references are to the Levitical high priests (anointed ones) whose deaths liberated people who had been forced to seek asylum in refuge cities.

2. David is made to call Saul the "anointed" (messiah) "shield of Israel" at his death on the battlefield. His death brought about the ascendancy of the David messiah (anointed).

If we found the story of Isaac's blood being shed for the atonement of the sins of the Jewish people post-dated Christianity, then we definitely would have reason to infer that the rabbis were creating a response to Christianity. But we find the reverse, and a lot of rabbinic and earlier messiahs (including in DSS) who clearly bear no relation to the Christian myth.
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:24 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:47 am
andrewcriddle wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:09 am

Hi Neil

Have you read Peter Schafer's The Jewish Jesus ?

This suggests (in chapter 9) that although the idea of the Messiah ben Joseph/Ephraim who is slain in battle is independent of Christianity, the suffering Messiah as found particularly in Pesiqta Rabbati is a response to Christianity.

Andrew Criddle
Yes, I was swayed by Schafer's book when I read it but follow up exploratory reading on rabbinic literature and the emergence of Judaism persuaded me otherwise. Akenson, Surpassing Wonder, was one such -- along with others that are cited in the post I linked. There is ample evidence in the pre-rabbinic literature that a suffering messiah was conceivable to (and conceived by) Jewish groups to suggest we have an adequate explanation for the provenance of the later rabbinic writings about the messiah without what is surely the inconceivable model (contra Schafer) that rabbis felt threatened enough by the Christian messiah such that they responded by embracing yet distorting that figure.

The types of contrasts -- messiahs ruling 400 years then dying, messiahs hiding in backstreets of Rome biding their time, messiahs marching on Jerusalem and being slain, messiahs restoring other slain messiahs -- are not explained easily as reactions to Christianity. They are the sorts of contrasts that suggest independent "traditions".

We see Judean moves in the direction of the Christian messiah in the Second Temple era: e.g. the emerging view that Abraham did slay his son Isaac, who voluntarily gave himself as a human sacrifice, but who was restored again to life (e.g. to explain the angelic voice calling "Abraham" twice -- the second time being necessary because the first call failed to stop the knife) -- and the reason for this was so that Isaac's blood be shed for the saving atonement of all of Israel in future generations. That's the sort of Second Temple notion that Christianity arose from.

But there were other Judean notions playing around with same passages from which the other views emerged: the place of Galilee in Isaiah's prophecy, the suffering servant of Isaiah being picked up by the author of Daniel and turned into the "Son of Man" and then even into the saints who were represented by that Son of Man. -- All of this stuff is in the mainstream literature, by the way.

The point is that we have very plausible explanations for the various Jewish views of messianic figures within early Jewish writings and Schafer's thesis (not just on the rabbinic reaction on messiahs) is difficult to accept given everything else we know of Christian-Jewish relations in late antiquity and beyond.

-----

Added after posting the above:

Schafer concludes his chapter 9 with what could well be interpreted as a paen to ecumenicalism and Christian-Jewish dialogue -- a forceful ideology in biblical studies noted by Michael Goulder among others (cf the scholarly interest in rehabilitating Judas):
If we do not wish to see “Judaism” and “Christianity” as static entities forever confronting each other but rather as vital, dynamic forces in constant exchange with each other, then such demarcations and harmonizations become superfluous. It is true, as Michael Fishbane has noted, that the simplistic model of Christian “influence” on Judaism “impoverishes the Jewish theological tradition”;¹⁴³ but in appealing to the inexhaustible trove of Jewish theology, we must not forget that Judaism also developed and changed together with an emerging Christianity.
I think you are probably misinterpreting Schafer here. At various points he dissociates his approach from that of modern Jewish-Christian dialogue. See for example note 17 on page 275. I read the passage from chapter 9 as opposing the idea that Christianity and Judaism have been sealed off from each other, with no borrowing of ideas from each other. In principle Schafer's position is more plausible than the alternative, but in practice some of Schafer's specific idas seem weaker than others.

One problem with the Messianic Pisqa in Pesiqta Rabbati is that their date is disputed by scholars. The main options (from references to external events) being the mid 3rd century CE and the early 7th century CE. (Pesiqta Rabbati first took something like its present shape around the seventh century but it is using older material). Schafer prefers the later date for the Messianic Pisqa and IMHO he is probably correct. The alternative has the compilers of Pesiqta Rabbati using here much earlier material that had been ignored by previous compilations such as Pesiqta de Rab Kahana. It is probably simpler to date the Messianic Pisqa after the (5th century) compilation of Pesiqta de Rab Kahana.

The main Jewish parallel to the Messianic Pisqa is material like the Self Glorification Hymn from Qumran (according to one interpretation of this difficult text). The question is whether it is more likely that the material from Pesiqta Rabbati was written under the influence of non-rabbinic pre-Christian material such as the Self Glorification Hymn or whether it is a result of Christian influence. The relative probabilities unfortunately depend on the disputed date of this material. With a 3rd century date Christian influence would be unlikely, whereas with a 7th century date influence from Qumran seems implausible.

IF Schafer is correct in dating the messianic homilies in the 7th century then they are probably a result of Christian influence. IMHO he probably is correct in preferring a late dating but I am far from sure.

Andrew Criddle

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:59 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:24 am
I think you are probably misinterpreting Schafer here. At various points he dissociates his approach from that of modern Jewish-Christian dialogue. See for example note 17 on page 275. I read the passage from chapter 9 as opposing the idea that Christianity and Judaism have been sealed off from each other, with no borrowing of ideas from each other. In principle Schafer's position is more plausible than the alternative, but in practice some of Schafer's specific idas seem weaker than others.
Thanks for the feedback. I do agree with your point that Schafer is not suggesting any sort of anachronistic type of "approach from that of a modern Jewish-Christian dialogue" and I regret leaving my own comment open to that interpretation. In the Introduction he does speak of "tragic" circumstances of the two sides viewing each other as "the enemy". I see the ancient/historical dialogue between the two not in terms of modern ecumenicalism but more like finding ways of rapprochement -- as per, for example, the re-writing of Judas in various quarters in more recent decades. The "ecumenicalism" is on modern interpreters' part in their attempts to work through damage control in the antique texts.

But Schafer, to my mind, opens himself up to serious criticism with his statement of methodology in Jesus in the Talmud p.7:
Unlike Maier and many of his predecessors, I start with the deliberately naive assumption that the relevant sources do refer to the figure of Jesus unless proven otherwise. Hence, I put the heavier burden of proof on those who want to decline the validity of the Jesus passages. More precisely, I do not see any reason why the tannaitic Jesus ben Pantera/Pandera (“Jesus son of Pantera/Pandera”) and Ben Stada (“son of Stada”) passages should not refer to Jesus, and I will justify this claim in the book.
Does that not come across as a classic introduction to the sin of confirmation bias?
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by andrewcriddle » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:11 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:59 pm
.......................................

But Schafer, to my mind, opens himself up to serious criticism with his statement of methodology in Jesus in the Talmud p.7:
Unlike Maier and many of his predecessors, I start with the deliberately naive assumption that the relevant sources do refer to the figure of Jesus unless proven otherwise. Hence, I put the heavier burden of proof on those who want to decline the validity of the Jesus passages. More precisely, I do not see any reason why the tannaitic Jesus ben Pantera/Pandera (“Jesus son of Pantera/Pandera”) and Ben Stada (“son of Stada”) passages should not refer to Jesus, and I will justify this claim in the book.
Does that not come across as a classic introduction to the sin of confirmation bias?
I share your concerns here. I do not think the figure of ben Stada was originally in any way linked to Jesus. However IIUC Schafer is arguing that whatever its origins the name ben Stada in the Babylonian Talmud refers to Jesus of Nazareth and he presents evidence to support this.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:25 am

andrewcriddle wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:11 am
I do not think the figure of ben Stada was originally in any way linked to Jesus.
That is how it seems to me, as well. Sanhedrin 67a in the Babylonian Talmud comes off to me as an attempt to reconcile the two parts of a somewhat awkwardly fused ben Stada/Pantera figure. How does it seem to you?
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Re: Messiah ben Joseph & Galilee; Messiah ben David & Judea.

Post by andrewcriddle » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:32 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:25 am
andrewcriddle wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:11 am
I do not think the figure of ben Stada was originally in any way linked to Jesus.
That is how it seems to me, as well. Sanhedrin 67a in the Babylonian Talmud comes off to me as an attempt to reconcile the two parts of a somewhat awkwardly fused ben Stada/Pantera figure. How does it seem to you?
I think I would agree.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:45 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:41 pm
I already responded to the bit about the epistle of Barnabas, but I wanted to add that I actually kind of like the trajectory which precedes that comment; it needs fleshing out, and I am not sure that a crucifixion in Galilee, if that is the suggestion, is really a viable option (even the Jewish predictions about a dying Messiah ben Ephraim seem to have him perishing in Judea, not in Galilee), but the overall notion seems worth pursuing.

Herod Antipas (tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) and Herod Agrippa (king of Judea, Galilee, Batanaea, and Perea) were easy to confuse in antiquity (and still are today!), so perhaps the original story ran something like what we find in the gospel of Peter, minus Pilate: basically, Herod commands the Jews to crucify Jesus (in Jerusalem), and they do, except it was thought to be Herod Antipas, not Agrippa, for his jurisdiction over Galilee (as noticed in Luke 23.7), yet as king instead of as tetrarch, as we find for Agrippa in the early Claudian years of 41-44. Making Jesus Davidic (to the point, even, of eventually locating his birth in the southern, Davidic town of Bethlehem) put him rather under the jurisdiction of Judea, ruled during the tenure of Antipas by Pontius Pilate.
I had forgotten about Ignatius:

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 1.1-2: 1 I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, 2 and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch [ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου καὶ Ἡρώδου τετράρχου], nailed to the cross for us in His flesh. Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful followers, whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church.

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

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:22 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:40 am
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.
It it possible that this trajectory is traceable within the gospel records themselves.

I am of the opinion that the very first part of Jesus' biography (as it were) to be recounted was the/a passion narrative. I also suspect that even some of the latest parts of the passion narrative probably predate many of the earliest parts of the rest of the narrative of his career. At the same time, however, I regard the gospel of John as being very late in its finished form, and as having drawn upon many earlier texts and traditions. The following trajectory follows these two overall trends rather well:

1. Jesus is not yet viewed as belonging to the Judean family of which Mary is the mother.

Mark 15.40-41: 40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Mark 15.47-16.1: 15.47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. 16.1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.

[Mary is just a witness of the crucifixion of Jesus; she is not written up as if she were his mother. She is in the story as a representative of this very important Judean family, a family on which, however, the Marcan tradition itself is not extremely keen. The passion narrative in the gospel of Mark often stands at the beginning of the tradition.]

2. Jesus is now viewed as belonging to the Judean family of which Mary is the mother.

Mark 3.31-35: 31 Then His mother and His brothers arrive, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 32 A crowd was sitting around Him, and they say to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” 33 Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” 34 Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 6.1-6a: 1 Jesus went out from there and comes into His hometown; and His disciples follow Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6a And He wondered at their unbelief.

John 7.3-5: 3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret if he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

[Now Mary is Jesus' mother. It seems possible to me that James and the rest of the "brethren of the Lord" historically did not accept Jesus as Messiah as quickly as Peter/Cephas did, and they thus were saddled later with the stigma of having been unbelievers for a time, a stigma reflected in the gospel traditions above. The Jacobian sequence in 1 Corinthians 15.3-8 coming after the Cephean sequence probably reflects James becoming a believer only after Cephas. The prepassion narrative in the gospel of Mark often represents a stage of tradition which comes after the passion narrative itself.]

3. The Mary at the cross is now recognized to be Jesus' own mother.

John 19.25b-27: 25b But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He says to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

[The retroactive adoption is complete! I explained the splitting of Mary into (A) Jesus' mother and (B) Mary of Clopas in the post to which I am responding. The gospel of John stands at the end of a long line of development of the traditions.]

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