Patterns of emulation & fulfillment.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8075
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA

Patterns of emulation & fulfillment.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:45 pm

I have been collecting various kinds of data which seem to fall into a pattern of people consciously emulating or fulfilling ancient scriptures or protocols. It is probable that not every single example on this list actually happened as an event in history; some, in other words, may be the inventions of the historians (or other authors). But it is the overall pattern that is important to me here and now.

Emulation, in this context, simply means the following of an example. Fulfillment takes emulation a step further: the one fulfilling the example is actually claiming that the example was pointing forward to him or her all along in some way. Simply following the example of David is emulation; claiming to be the Davidic Messiah, or claiming to be a figure whom David was describing in one of his psalms, is fulfillment. It is not always possible to tell whether a figure intends to emulate or to fulfill the ancient scripture or protocol, and the two concepts lie, at any rate, on a sort of spectrum.

The examples will flow essentially from "soft" emulation to "hard" fulfillment, more or less:

Jews or Christians Are Exhorted to Emulate Various Scriptural Heroes

The point is to follow the example of one's faithful forefathers, and lists could be made of such forefathers:

1 Maccabees 2.49-68: 49 Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. 50 Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers. 51 Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honor and an everlasting name. 52 Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? 53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54 Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55 Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. 56 Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. 57 David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. 58 Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up into heaven. 59 Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. 60 Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions. 61 And so observe, from generation to generation, that none who put their trust in him will lack strength. 62 Do not fear the words of a sinner, for his splendor will turn into dung and worms. 63 Today he will be exalted, but tomorrow he will not be found, because he has returned to the dust, and his plans will perish. 64 My children, be courageous and grow strong in the law, for by it you will gain honor. 65 Now behold, I know that Simeon your brother is wise in counsel; always listen to him; he shall be your father. 66 Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples. 67 You shall rally about you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. 68 Pay back the Gentiles in full, and heed what the law commands.”

Hebrews 11.32-38: 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their redemption, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others received the trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Honi the Circle Drawer and Hanina ben Dosa Emulate Elijah

These two rabbinical figures apparently emulated the prophet Elijah:

Josephus, Antiquities 14.2.1 §19-24: 19 After these promises had been given to Aretas, he made an expedition against Aristobulus with an army of fifty thousand horse and foot, and beat him in the battle. And when after that victory many went over to Hyrcanus as deserters, Aristobulus was left desolate, and fled to Jerusalem; 20 upon which the king of Arabia took all his army, and made an assault upon the temple, and besieged Aristobulus therein, the people still supporting Hyreanus, and assisting him in the siege, while none but the priests continued with Aristobulus. 21 So Aretas united the forces of the Arabians and of the Jews together, and pressed on the siege vigorously. As this happened at the time when the feast of unleavened bread was celebrated, which we call the passover, the principal men among the Jews left the country, and fled into Egypt. 22 Now there was one, whose name was Onias, a righteous man be was, and beloved of God, who, in a certain drought, had prayed to God to put an end to the intense heat, and whose prayers God had heard, and had sent them rain. This man had hid himself, because he saw that this sedition would last a great while. However, they brought him to the Jewish camp, and desired, that as by his prayers he had once put an end to the drought, so he would in like manner make imprecations on Aristobulus and those of his faction. 23 And when, upon his refusal, and the excuses that he made, he was still by the multitude compelled to speak, he stood up in the midst of them, and said, 24 "O God, the King of the whole world, since those that stand now with me are thy people, and those that are besieged are also thy priests, I beseech thee, that thou wilt neither hearken to the prayers of those against these, nor bring to effect what these pray against those." Whereupon such wicked Jews as stood about him, as soon as he had made this prayer, stoned him to death. / 19 Τούτων αὐτῷ τῶν ὑποσχέσεων γενομένων ὁ Ἀρέτας ἐστράτευσεν ἐπὶ τὸν Ἀριστόβουλον μετὰ πέντε μυριάδων ἱππέων ἅμα καὶ πεζῆς στρατιᾶς, καὶ νικᾷ τῇ μάχῃ. πολλῶν δὲ μετὰ τὴν νίκην πρὸς Ὑρκανὸν αὐτομολησάντων μονωθεὶς ὁ Ἀριστόβουλος ἔφυγεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. 20 ὁ δὲ τῶν Ἀράβων βασιλεὺς πᾶσαν τὴν στρατιὰν ἀγαγὼν καὶ προσβαλὼν τῷ ἱερῷ τὸν Ἀριστόβουλον ἐπολιόρκει προστιθεμένου καὶ τοῦ δήμου τῷ Ὑρκανῷ καὶ συμπολιορκοῦντος αὐτῷ, μόνων δὲ τῶν ἱερέων τῷ Ἀριστοβούλῳ προσμενόντων. 21 ὁ μὲν οὖν Ἀρέτας ἑξῆς βαλόμενος στρατόπεδα τῶν Ἀράβων καὶ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἰσχυρῶς ἐνέκειτο τῇ πολιορκίᾳ. τούτων δὲ γινομένων κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τῆς τῶν ἀζύμων ἑορτῆς, ἣν πάσχα λέγομεν, οἱ δοκιμώτατοι τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐκλιπόντες τὴν χώραν εἰς Αἴγυπτον ἔφυγον. 22 Ὀνίαν δέ τινα ὄνομα δίκαιον ὄντα καὶ θεοφιλῆ, ὃς ἀνομβρίας ποτὲ οὔσης ηὔξατο τῷ θεῷ λῦσαι τὸν αὐχμὸν καὶ γενόμενος ἐπήκοος ὁ θεὸς ὗσεν, κρύψαντα ἑαυτὸν διὰ τὸ τὴν στάσιν ὁρᾶν ἰσχυρὰν ἐπιμένουσαν, ἀναχθέντα εἰς τὸ στρατόπεδον τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἠξίουν, ὡς ἔπαυσε τὴν ἀνομβρίαν εὐξάμενος, ἵν᾽ οὕτως ἀρὰς θῇ κατὰ Ἀριστοβούλου καὶ τῶν συστασιαστῶν αὐτοῦ. 23 ἐπεὶ δὲ ἀντιλέγων καὶ παραιτούμενος ἐβιάσθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους, στὰς μέσος αὐτῶν εἶπεν: 24 ‘ὦ θεὲ βασιλεῦ τῶν ὅλων, ἐπεὶ οἱ μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ συνεστῶτες σὸς δῆμός ἐστιν καὶ οἱ πολιορκούμενοι δὲ ἱερεῖς σοί, δέομαι μήτε κατὰ τούτων ἐκείνοις ὑπακοῦσαι μήτε κατ᾽ ἐκείνων ἃ οὗτοι παρακαλοῦσιν εἰς τέλος ἀγαγεῖν.’ καὶ τὸν μὲν ταῦτ᾽ εὐξάμενον περιστάντες οἱ πονηροὶ τῶν Ἰουδαίων κατέλευσαν.

Mishnah, Ta'anit 3.8: 8 On any calamity that befalls the community, we sound [the sofar], except for an overabundance of rain. It once happened that they said to Honi the Circle Drawer, so named because of the following incident: "Pray that it should rain." He said to them: "Go and bring in the Passover ovens, so that they do not dissolve." He then prayed but no rain fell. What did he do? He drew a circle and stood within it and exclaimed, "Master of the Universe! Your children have turned to me because they see that I am as a member of Your household. I swear by Your great Name, that I will not move from here until You have mercy upon Your children." Rain began to drip. He said, "This is not what I asked for; rather, for rain that will fill the cisterns, ditches, and caves." The rain then started to come down with great force. He said, "This is not what I asked for; rather, rain of benevolence, blessing, and bounty." Rain then started falling in a normal fashion until the Israelites were forced to go from Jerusalem to the Temple. They said to him, "Just as you prayed for it to rain, pray that the rain cease." He said to them, "Go see if the stone of the claimers has been covered by water." Shimon ben Shatach sent to him, "Were it not that you are Honi, I would place you under the ban, but what can I do to you, since you make yourself as a favorite child before the Omnipresent, and He fulfills your requests, as a favorite child whose father fulfills his request? Regarding you Scripture states: 'May your father and mother be glad and may she who bore you, rejoice' (= Proverbs 23.25)."

Babylonian Talmud, Taanith 23a: 23a .... Once it happened that the greater part of the month of Adar had gone and yet no rain had fallen. The people sent a message to Honi the Circle Drawer: "Pray that rain may fall." He prayed and no rain fell. He thereupon drew a circle and stood within it in the same way as the prophet Habakuk had done, as it is said, "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower," and so on (= Habakkuk 2.1).

Genesis Rabbah 13.7: 7 .... No man has existed comparable to Elijah and Honi the Circle Drawer, causing mankind to serve God. .... [Some manuscripts lack "Elijah and," mentioning only Honi.]

Babylonian Talmud, Taanith 24b: 24b .... R. Hanina ben Dosa was journeying on the road when it began to rain. He exclaimed, "Master of the Universe, the whole world is at ease, but Hanina is in distress." The rain then ceased. When he reached home he exclaimed, "Master of the Universe, the whole world is in distress and Hanina is at ease," whereupon rain fell. ....

Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17b: 17b .... As Rav Yehuda said that Rav said, "Every day a Divine Voice emerges from Mount Horeb and says, 'The entire world is sustained by the merit of Ḥanina ben Dosa, my son, and for Ḥanina, my son, a kav of carobs is sufficient to sustain him for an entire week, from one Shabbat eve to the next Shabbat eve.'" ....

I label this example as emulation because I see no real evidence that either Honi or Hanina was claiming to be the eschatological Elijah promised in scripture.

The Zealots Emulate Phinehas and Mattathias

The most likely primary source of inspiration for the zealots in the war against Rome was Phinehas, with a secondary nod to Mattathias:

Numbers 25.6-15: 6 Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. 9 Those who died by the plague were 24,000. 10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them [בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת־קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם, ἐν τῷ ζηλῶσαί μου τὸν ζῆλον ἐν αὐτοῖς], so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy [בְּקִנְאָתִי, ἐν τῷ ζήλῳ μου]. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous [קִנֵּא֙ לֵאלֹהָ֔יו, ἐζήλωσεν τῷ θεῷ αὐτοῦ] for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’” 14 The name of the slain man of Israel, who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, head of a fathers’ house belonging to the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the head of the people of a fathers’ house in Midian.

1 Maccabees 2.23-28, 49-60: 23 When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command. 24 When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal [ἐζήλωσεν] and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him on the altar. 25 At the same time he killed the king’s officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. 26 Thus he burned with zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did against Zimri son of Salu. .... 49 Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and scorn have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. 50 Now, my children, show zeal [ζηλώσατε] for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors. 51 Remember the deeds of the ancestors, which they did in their generations; and you will receive great honor and an everlasting name. 52 Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? 53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54 Phinehas our ancestor, because he was deeply zealous [ἐν τῷ ζηλῶσαι ζῆλον], received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55 Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. 56 Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. 57 David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom forever. 58 Elijah, because of great zeal for the law, was taken up into heaven. 59 Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. 60 Daniel, because of his innocence, was delivered from the mouth of the lions.”

4 Maccabees 2.6-19: 6 The mother of seven sons expressed also these principles to her children: 7 “I was a pure virgin and did not go outside my father’s house; but I guarded the rib from which woman was made. 8 No seducer corrupted me on a desert plain, nor did the destroyer, the deceitful serpent, defile the purity of my virginity. 9 In the time of my maturity I remained with my husband, and when these sons had grown up their father died. A happy man was he, who lived out his life with good children, and did not have the grief of bereavement. 10 While he was still with you, he taught you the law and the prophets. 11 He read to you about Abel slain by Cain, and Isaac who was offered as a burnt offering, and about Joseph in prison. 12 He told you of the zealot [τὸν ζηλωτὴν] Phinehas, and he taught you about Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael in the fire. 13 He praised Daniel in the den of the lions and blessed him. 14 He reminded you of the scripture of Isaiah, which says, ‘Even though you go through the fire, the flame shall not consume you.’ 15 He sang to you songs of the psalmist David, who said, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous.’ 16 He recounted to you Solomon’s proverb, ‘There is a tree of life for those who do his will.’ 17 He confirmed the query of Ezekiel, ‘Shall these dry bones live?’ 18 For he did not forget to teach you the song that Moses taught, which says, 19 ‘I kill and I make alive: this is your life and the length of your days.’”

Sirach 45.23-26: 23 Phinehas the son of Eleazar is the third in glory [after Moses in verses 1-5 and Aaron in verses 6-22], for he was zealous [ἐν τῷ ζηλῶσαι] in the fear of the Lord, and stood fast, when the people turned away, in the ready goodness of his soul, and made atonement for Israel. 24 Therefore a covenant of peace was established with him, that he should be leader of the sanctuary and of his people, that he and his descendants should have the dignity of the priesthood for ever. 25 A covenant was also established with David, the son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah: the heritage of the king is from son to son only; so the heritage of Aaron is for his descendants. 26 May the Lord grant you wisdom in your heart to judge his people in righteousness, so that their prosperity may not vanish, and that their glory may endure throughout their generations.

Josephus, Wars 4.3.9 §158-161: 158 And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; 159 and indeed they were Gorion the son of Joseph [Γωρίων τε υἱὸς Ἰωσήπου], and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. 160 The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots [τοῖς ζηλωταῖς]; 161 for they called themselves this [τοῦτο γὰρ αὑτοὺς ἐκάλεσαν] as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.

Talmud, Gittin 56a-56b: 56a .... The biryoni [בריוני] were then in the city. The Rabbis said to them, "Let us go out and make peace with them [the Romans]." They would not let them, but on the contrary said, "Let us go out and fight them." The Rabbis said, "You will not succeed." They then rose up and burnt the stores of wheat and barley so that a famine ensued. Martha the daughter of Boethius was one of the richest women in Jerusalem. She sent her man-servant out saying, "Go and bring me some fine flour." By the time he went it was sold out. He came and told her, "There is no fine flour, but there is white." She then said to him, "Go and bring me some." By the time he went he found the white flour sold out. He came and told her, "There is no white flour but there is dark flour." She said to him, "Go and bring me some." By the time he went it was sold out. He returned and said to her, "There is no dark flour, but there is barley flour." She said, "Go and bring me some." By the time he went this was also sold out. She had taken off her shoes, but she said, "I will go out and see if I can find anything to eat." Some dung stuck to her foot and she died. Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai applied to her the verse, "The tender and delicate woman among you which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground" (= Deuteronomy 28.56a). Some report that she ate a fig left by R. Zadok, and became sick and died. For R. Zadok observed fasts for forty years in order that Jerusalem might not be destroyed, [and he became so thin that] when he ate anything the food could be seen [as it passed through his throat.] When he wanted to restore himself, they used to bring him a fig, and he used to suck the juice and throw the rest away. When Martha was about to die, she brought out all her gold and silver and threw it in the street, saying, "What is the good of this to me?" thus giving effect to the verse, "They shall cast their silver in the streets." Abba Sikra [אבא סקרא] the head of the biryoni [ריש בריוני] in Jerusalem was the son of the sister of Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai. [The latter] sent to him saying, "Come to visit me privately." When he came he said to him, "How long are you going to carry on in this way and kill all the people with starvation?" He replied, "What can I do? If I say a word to them, they will kill me." He said, "Devise some plan for me to escape. Perhaps I shall be able to save a little." He said to him, "Pretend to be ill, and let everyone come to inquire about you. Bring something evil smelling and put it by you so that they will say you are dead. Let then your disciples get under your bed, but no others, so that they shall not notice that you are still light, since they know that a living being is lighter than a corpse." He did so, and R. Eliezer went under the bier from one side and R. Joshua from the other. When they reached the door, some men wanted to put a lance through the bier. He said to them, "Shall [the Romans] say, 'They have pierced their Master?'" They wanted to give it a push. He said to them, "Shall they say that they pushed their Master?" They opened a town gate for him and he got out. When he reached the Romans he said, "Peace to you, O king, peace to you, O king." He [Vespasian] said, "Your life is forfeit on two counts, one because I am not a king and you call me king, and again, if I am a king, why did you not come to me before now?" He replied, "As for your saying that you are not a king, 56b in truth you are a king, since if you were not a king Jerusalem would not be delivered into your hand, as it is written, 'And Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.' Mighty one [is an epithet] applied only to a king, as it is written, 'And their mighty one shall be of themselves,' and the rest; and Lebanon refers to the Sanctuary, as it says, 'This goodly mountain and Lebanon.' As for your question, why if you are a king, I did not come to you till now, the answer is that the biryoni [בריוני] among us did not let me." He said to him, "If there is a jar of honey round which a serpent is wound, would they not break the jar to get rid of the serpent?" He could give no answer. R. Joseph, or as some say R. Akiba, applied to him the verse, "He turneth wise men backward and maketh their knowledge foolish." He ought to have said to him, "We take a pair of tongs and grip the snake and kill it, and leave the jar intact." ....

Steve Mason, History of the Jewish War, A.D. 66-74, pages 449-450: What can we conclude about those whom Josephus mischievously calls The Disciples (= The Zealots)? A priest- and temple-based faction formed first around Eleazar ben Ananias in 66, as tensions with Florus came to a head and groups began arming themselves. Energized by the influx of rural priests in 67–68 and led by Eleazar ben Simon, they severed ties with foreigners for protection. It is entirely plausible that in doing so they looked to biblical Phineas, the noble executioner of Israelites who would consort with dangerous neighbours, and to Mattathias the Hasmonean for the same reason. If so, their Hebrew name might have had something to do with qana’ as used in the Bible of Phineas. It would seem odd, however, if such biblicists called themselves by a term reserved in the Bible for God, whether in Hebrew or in Greek. .... The simplest explanation of Josephus’ sarcastic references seems to be that, although he knew of a Hebrew name with perhaps biblical connotations – “Pinchas’ Divine Jealousy Party” or the like – as a Greek writer he decided to saddle them with Zēlōtai because this partial equivalent offered room for satire.

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 9.6: 6 One who steals a Temple service vessel, or blasphemes in the name of an idol, or cohabits with an idolatress, zealots [קַנָּאִין] may strike him. ....

The Teacher of Righteousness Fulfills and/or Emulates Various Obscure Scriptures

The Teacher of Righteousness is a figure known to us only through the Dead Sea scrolls and the Damascus Document. Some 390 years after the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, according to the scrolls, God visited a group of people and made them aware of their own participation in the sin of Israel; for 20 years they groped around for the truth like blind men, and God rewarded their sincerity by raising up for them the Teacher of Righteousness to lead them; the duration of his tenure as their leader goes unspecified. This Teacher, a priest, is said to have been the fulfillment of some rather obscure passages in prophetic books such as Micah and Habakkuk, as is his nemesis, variably called the Wicked Priest, the Spreader of the Lie, or the Man of the Lie (or, alternatively, the Wicked Priest and the Spreader/Man of the Lie may be two different people). A house of Absalom is also a player in this drama, apparently consisting of men on a Council who remained silent while the Man of the Lie rebuked the Teacher of Righteousness, to whom God has made known all the mysteries contained in the prophets. Followers of the Teacher will avoid peril on the Day of Judgment. At some point the Teacher of Righteousness was gathered in, by which his death is surely meant, and it is said that from that moment to the end of those men who turned away with the Man of Lies will be 40 years, a clear reference to Numbers 32.13 and a clear parallel, at the very least, to the generational prophecy as placed upon the lips of Jesus in the synoptic gospels. The Teacher of Righteousness, therefore, is a figure whose career was allegedly predicted in scriptures susceptible to a pesher technique and who has standing with God so far as the fates of the people who supported or opposed him are concerned.

More information:

ETA: Refer also to my post on Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant at Qumran.

Simon Magus Fulfills and/or Emulates Patterns Associated With the Godhead

It is not that I trust Irenaeus to give us the whole picture for the heretics he attacks, but Simon certainly has a place on such a list, for whatever it may be worth:

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.23.1: 1 .... This man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a god; and he taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the Father, while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. He represented himself, in a word, as being the loftiest of all powers, that is, the Being who is the Father over all, and he allowed himself to be called by whatsoever title men were pleased to address him.

Simon bar Kokhba Fulfills and/or Emulates the Scriptures About the Davidic Messiah

If our sources are to be trusted, Simon claimed to be the/a Messiah:

Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 4.5: 5 .... R. Simeon b. Yohai taught, “Aqiba, my master, would interpret the following verse: ‘A star [kokhab] shall come forth out of Jacob’ (= Numbers 24.17), as ‘a disappointment [kozeba] shall come forth out of Jacob.’” R. Aqiba, when he saw Bar Kozeba, said, “This is the King Messiah [דין הוא מלכא משיחא].” Said to him R. Yohanan ben Toreta, “Aqiba! Grass will grow on your cheeks, and the son of David [בן דוד] will not yet have come!” ....

Lamentations Rabbah 2.2 §4: “R. Yohanan said, ‘Rabbi used to expound, “A star goes out from Jacob” (= Numbers 24.17) thusly: “Do not read star [כוכב] but liar [כוזב].”’”

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 93b: 93b .... Bar Koziba reigned two and a half years, and then said to the Rabbis, "I am the Messiah [אנא משיח]." They answered, "Of Messiah it is written that he smells and judges. Let us see whether he can do so." When they saw that he was unable to judge by the scent, they slew him. ....

More information: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3728.

John the Baptist Fulfills the Scriptures About Elijah

This link will suffice: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3570.

Various Enchanters Fulfill and/or Emulate the Scriptures About Joshua, Moses, and Others

Josephus gives us quite a list of people who were apparently following scriptural patterns:

Josephus, Wars 6.5.3 §300-309: 300 But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who four years before the war began and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, and began on a sudden to cry aloud: 301 "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry as he went about by day and by night in all the lanes of the city. 302 Certain of the most eminent among the populace, however, had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet he neither said any thing for himself nor anything peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. 303 Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, 304 where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor did he shed any tears, but, turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip 305 his answer was: "Woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus, for he was then our procurator, asked him who he was and whence he came, and why he uttered such words he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. 306 Now during all the time that passed before the war began this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so, but he every day uttered these lamentable words as if it were his premeditated vow: "Woe to Jerusalem!" 307 Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food, but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. 308 This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, at which time it ceased. 309 For as he was going round upon the wall he cried out with his utmost force: "Woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he added at the last: "Woe to myself also," there came a stone out of one of the engines, and it smote him and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.4.1 §85-87: 85 But the nation of the Samaritans did not escape without tumults. The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased. So he bid them get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them that, when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there. 86 So they came thither armed, and thought the discourse of the man probable; and, as they abode at a certain village which was called Tirathaba, they got the rest together to them, and desired to go up the mountain in a great multitude together. 87 But Pilate prevented their going up by seizing upon file roads with a great band of horsemen and footmen, who fell upon those that had gotten together in the village; and when it came to an action some of them they slew, and others of them they put to flight, and took a great many alive, the principal of which, and also the most potent of those that fled away, Pilate ordered to be slain.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.5.1 §97-99: 97 Now it came to pass while Fadus was procurator of Judea that a certain enchanter, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them and follow him to the river Jordan, for he told them that he was a prophet, and that he would by his own command divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; 98 and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them, who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head and carried it to Jerusalem. 99 This was what befell the Jews in the time of the leadership of Cuspius Fadus.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.5 §160-161a: 160 Now as for the affairs of the Jews, they grew worse and worse continually, for the country was again filled with thieves and enchanters who deluded the multitude. 161a Yet Felix caught and put to death many of those enchanters every day, together with the thieves.

Josephus, Wars 2.13.4 §258-260: 258 There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. 259 These were such men as deceived and deluded the people by pretense of divination, 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 signs of liberty. 260 But Felix thought that this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt, so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

Josephus, Wars 2.13.5 §261-263: 261 But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; 262 these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. 263 But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.6 §167-172: 167 These works that were done by the thieves filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these enchanters and deceitful men persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, 168 and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them. 169 Moreover, there came out of Egypt at about this time to Jerusalem one that said that he was a prophet, and he advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five stades. 170 He said further that he would show them from hence how at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls after they had fallen down. 171 Now when Felix was informed of these things he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and he came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. 172 But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the thieves stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages and plundered them.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.10 §188: 188 So Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain enchanter who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries that they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also.

Jesus Fulfills and/or Emulates Many Various Scriptures

So many. So, so many. Too many to list concisely. But I will list the warnings against false Messiahs or prophets:

Matthew 24.5: 5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many."

Matthew 24.11: 11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many."

Matthew 24.23: 23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him."

Matthew 24.26-27: 26 "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be."

Mark 13.5: 5 And Jesus began to say to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. 6 "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many."

Mark 13.21-22: 21 "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or, 'Behold, He is there,' do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect."

Luke 21.8: 8 And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not go after them."

Luke 17.20-21: 20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is,' for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."

All of the above examples pertain more or less directly to the potential origins of Christianity out of some form of Judaism, but this tendency is also seen elsewhere in the ancient world. Apollonius of Tyana, for example, seems to have emulated Pythagoras. Alexander the Great apparently claimed to be the son of Zeus-Ammon as part of his claim to empire. We also have examples of humble slaves or peasants aspiring to the ancient protocols of kingship:

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 34/35.2.4-9: 4 The slaves therefore being in this distress, and vilely beaten and scourged beyond all reason, were now resolved not to bear it any longer. Therefore, meeting together from time to time as they had opportunity, they consulted how to free themselves from the yoke of servitude they lay under, until at length they really accomplished what they had previously agreed upon. 5 There was a Syrian, born in the city of Apameia, who was a slave of Antigenes of Enna, and he was a magician and conjurer; he pretended to foretell future events, revealed to him (as he said) by the gods in his dreams, and deceived many by this kind of practice. Then he proceeded further, and not only foretold things to come, revealed to him in dreams, but pretended that he saw the gods when he was awake, and they declared to him what was to come to pass. 6 And though these were tricks that he played, yet by chance many of the things afterwards proved true. The predictions that were not fulfilled were ignored, but those which did come to pass were everywhere applauded, so that he grew more and more celebrated. By some artifice or other, he used to breath flames of fire out of his mouth as from a burning lamp, and so would prophesy as though he had been at that time inspired by Apollo. 7 For he put fire with some combustible matter to feed it, into a nutshell or some such thing bored through on both sides; then putting it into his mouth and forcing his breath upon it, there would issue out both sparks and flames of fire. Before the revolt this man boasted that the Syrian goddess had appeared to him, and told him that he should reign, and this he declared not only to others but often to his own master. 8 As this became a common subject of laughter, Antigenes was so taken with the jest and the ridiculous conceit of the man, that he took Eunus (for such was his name) with him to feasts and dinners, and several questions being put to him concerning his future kingdom, he was asked how he would treat each person who was there present at the table. He readily went on with his story, and told them that he would be very kind to his masters and like a conjurer using many monstrous magical terms and expressions, he made all the guests laugh, upon which some of them as a reward gave him large helpings from the table, and asked him to remember their kindness when he came to be king. 9 But all this jesting at length really did end in his advancement to be king; and all those who at the feasts by way of ridicule had been kind to him, he rewarded in earnest. But the beginning of the revolt was in this manner. / 4 Πιεζόμενοι δὲ οἱ δοῦλοι ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις καὶ πληγαῖς τὰ πολλὰ παραλόγως ὑβριζόμενοι, οὐχ ὑπέμενον. συνιόντες οὖν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ τὰς εὐκαιρίας συνελάλουν περὶ ἀποστάσεως, ἕως εἰς ἔργον τὴν βουλὴν ἤγαγον. 5 ἦν δέ τις οἰκέτης Ἀντιγένους Ἐνναίου, Σύρος τὸ γένος ἐκ τῆς Ἀπαμείας, ἄνθρωπος μάγος καὶ τερατουργὸς τὸν τρόπον. οὗτος προσεποιεῖτο θεῶν ἐπιτάγμασι καθ' ὕπνον προλέγειν τὰ μέλλοντα, καὶ πολλοὺς διὰ τὴν εἰς τοῦτο τὸ μέρος εὐφυΐαν ἐξηπάτα. ἐντεῦθεν προϊὼν οὐ μόνον ἐξ ὀνείρων ἐμαντεύετο, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐγρηγορότως θεοὺς ὁρᾶν ὑπεκρίνετο καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀκούειν τὰ μέλλοντα. 6 πολλῶν δ' ὑπ' αὐτοῦ σχεδιαζομένων ἀπὸ τύχης ἔνια πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἐξέβαινε· καὶ τῶν μὲν μὴ γινομένων ὑπ' οὐδενὸς ἐλεγχομένων, τῶν δὲ συντελουμένων ἐπισημασίας τυγχανόντων, προκοπὴν ἐλάμβανεν ἡ περὶ αὐτὸν δόξα. τελευταῖον διά τινος μηχανῆς πῦρ μετά τινος ἐνθουσιασμοῦ καὶ φλόγα διὰ τοῦ στόματος ἠφίει, καὶ οὕτω τὰ μέλλοντα ἀπεφοίβαζεν. 7 εἰς γὰρ κάρυον ἤ τι τοιοῦτο τετρημένον ἐξ ἑκατέρου μέρους ἐνετίθει πῦρ καὶ τὴν συνέχειν αὐτὸ δυναμένην ὕλην· εἶτα ἐντιθεὶς τῷ στόματι καὶ προσπνέων ποτὲ μὲν σπινθῆρας, ποτὲ δὲ φλόγα ἐξέκαεν. οὗτος πρὸ τῆς ἀποστάσεως ἔλεγε τὴν Συρίαν θεὸν ἐπιφαινομένην αὐτῷ λέγειν ὅτι βασιλεύσει· καὶ τοῦτο οὐ πρὸς ἄλλους μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν τὸν κύριον αὑτοῦ διετέλει λέγων. 8 εἰς δὲ γέλωτα τρεπομένου τοῦ πράγματος, ὁ μὲν Ἀντιγένης ψυχαγωγούμενος ἐπὶ τῇ τερατείᾳ παρῆγε τὸν Εὔνουν εἰς τὰ σύνδειπνα – τοῦτο γὰρ ὄνομα τῷ τερατίᾳ – καὶ διηρώτα περὶ τῆς βασιλείας καὶ πῶς ἑκάστῳ χρήσεται τῶν παρόντων· τοῦ δὲ ἀτρέπτως πάντα διηγουμένου, καὶ ὡς μετρίως χρήσεται τοῖς κυρίοις, καὶ τὸ σύνολον ποικίλως τερατευομένου, γέλωτες ἐγίνοντο τοῖς παρακεκλημένοις, καί τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης ἀξιολόγους μερίδας αἴροντες ἐδωροῦντο, ἐπιλέγοντες ὅπως, ὅταν γένηται βασιλεύς, τῆς χάριτος μνημονεύοι. 9 οὐ μὴν ἀλλ' ἡ τερατεία προῆλθεν εἰς ἀληθινὸν ἀποτέλεσμα βασιλείας, καὶ τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τοῖς παρὰ τὰ δεῖπνα δεξιωσαμένοις ἐν γέλωτι οὐ χωρὶς σπουδῆς ἐποιήσατο τῆς χάριτος. ἀρχὴ δὲ τῆς ὅλης ἀποστάσεως ἐγένετο τοιαύτη.

PGM V.145-156 (century IV), on page 103 of Dieter Betz, Greek Magical Papyri: "I am the headless daimon with my sight in my feet; [I am] the mighty one [who possesses] the immortal fire; I am the truth who hates the fact that unjust deeds are done in the world; I am the one who makes the lightning flash and the thunder roll; / I am the one whose sweat is the heavy rain which falls upon the earth that it might be inseminated; I am the one whose mouth burns completely; I am the one who begets and destroys; / I am the Favor of the Aion; my name is a heart encircled by a serpent; come forth and follow." [Possibly another example of the firebreathing trick.]

Guests at a feast asking this slave to treat them kindly when he should become king may sound comical, but (A) it resembles certain concepts from the gospels and (B) this particular slave evidently wound up leading a revolt and becoming king after a fashion for a while.

At any rate, obviously there are lots of different kinds and qualities of materials here, but I have been examining these patterns of emulation and fulfillment for a while now in order to try to get a grasp on what may have been happening during the earliest stages of Christianity.

Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:52 pm, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 3578
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Patterns of emulation & fulfillment.

Post by neilgodfrey » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:32 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:45 pm
I have been collecting various kinds of data which seem to fall into a pattern of people consciously emulating or fulfilling ancient scriptures or protocols. . . . .

At any rate, obviously there are lots of different kinds and qualities of materials here, but I have been examining these patterns of emulation and fulfillment for a while now in order to try to get a grasp on what may have been happening during the earliest stages of Christianity.
No study of the patterns of reiteration of myths and motifs throughout the Bible, both OT and NT, can be complete without including a reading of Thomas L. Thompson's The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel (it was published in the U.S. under a different title -- The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past).

Just one snippet:
The first instance of an event is there only to mark the pattern of
reiteration. It is irrelevant whether a given event is earlier or later than
another. Both exist as mirrored expressions of a transcendent reality.
Closely linked with this ancient perception of time is the philosophical idea
we find captured in the Book of Ecclesiastes (1: 9-11):

There is nothing new under the sun. If we can say of anything: that it is new, it
has been seen already long since. This event of the past is not remembered.
Nor will the future events, which will happen again be remembered by those
who follow us.
When God created the world, he created the heavens and the earth and
everything in them. All of history is already included in the creation. This
is also what lies behind the idea of 'fate', which, as a classic premiss of
Greek tragedy, reflects the human struggle against destiny. The only
appropriate response is acceptance and understanding.
Or another
It might
be useful to consider how typical scenes or events are reiterated in biblical
, much in the way we saw the theme of the crossing of the waters
reiterated in the stories of Jacob, Moses and Joshua. All shared the
common metaphorical goal of leaving the past behind and creating a new
beginning. It is this anachronistic core of our narratives, reflecting the
values and interests of the much later society of early Judaism, that creates
'history' for us. It is built not on the basis of linear time, but of reiterated
flashbacks. It recasts metaphorical memories of the present as images of the
past, defining them as origin story. An interesting integration of this motif
with 'historical' events, meaningful to the audience's contemporary
audience, is the variant to the crossing of the waters motif which is found
in Josephus' History of the Jews. Josephus refers to a story about the
Macedonian conqueror of Persia, Alexander the Great, who crossed
through the sea, dry-shod to carry out God's work by marching his army
against the Persians. Josephus uses this tale to mark what he viewed as the
new beginnings of Hellenism. The crossing stories in the Bible are variants
of Josephus' Alexander story. But even in Josephus the reference is made
merely to give context to a Active claim of historicity. The audience knows
the 'event' and recognizes its reference to the transcendent 'baptism'
metaphor, of crossing over the waters to salvation.
and so forth
1) There are two great stories in the Bible in which old Israel is led
through water
to begin a new life. In Exodus 14-15, Moses leads the
people through the sea on dry land. The waters stack up like Jello on each
side. Those who had been helpless slaves in Egypt become a victorious
people led to victory by their God. The same motif of crossing the waters
from defeat to victory finds its place in Joshua. The divine presence leads
the people dry-shod across the Jordan River, whose waters 'stand in one
heap' (Josh. 3: 7-17). It is a new Israel, coming out of the wilderness that
enters the land. A minor echo of this motif can also be seen when the
patriarch Jacob crosses the Jabbok in Genesis 32: 22. In this crossing, he
becomes Israel. The transcendent reality that each of these stories
reiterates is the original division of the waters of chaos at the creation,
when God caused the waters 'to be gathered in one place, letting the dry
land appear' (Gen. 1: 9).
-- and that further leads on to the "emulation" in the actions of Elijah, Elisha, and finally Jesus at his baptism with the parting of the heavens. Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8075
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA

Re: Patterns of emulation & fulfillment.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:17 pm

I am adding another category of emulation and fulfillment.

Jewish and Christian Prophets Fulfill Moses' Wish and Joel's Prophecy

Moses had wished that all Israel could prophesy instead of just leaving it all to him (and to the Seventy Elders, appointed to help him):

Numbers 11.26-30: 26 But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the second Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. 27 So a young man ran and told Moses and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” 30 Then Moses removed himself to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.

The prophet Joel agrees that this democratization of the prophetic gift should be a thing, and he prophesies that it will be, at least during the last days, just before the day of the Lord:

Joel 2.28-32 (3.1-5 Masoretic): 28 (1) “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and daughters will prophesy; your old men will dream dreams; your young men will see visions. 29 (2) Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 (3) I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31 (4) The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 (5) And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

Acts 2.17-21 famously quotes this passage as justification for the granting of the gifts of the spirit to the newly formed church, but of course the entire idea of democratized prophecy (1 Corinthians 12, 14; Didache 11, 13; 1 Thessalonians 5.19-22; 1 John 4.1-3) goes hand in hand with the generational prophecy: if people are living in the last days, then the time has come for sons and daughters, for young and old, and for free and servile alike to prophecy.

(Note that Joel insists that both old and young will prophesy, not just a group like the Seventy Elders in Numbers 11.16-25 recruited to share Moses' prophetic duties. Note also that Joel lists both dreams and visions as valid results of the spirit being poured out, in agreement with Numbers 12.6. Joel's mention of females and of servants is reflected in Galatians 3.28.)

Post Reply