Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Joseph D. L.
Posts: 951
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:10 am

Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by Joseph D. L. » Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:45 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:36 am
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am
I don't know who you have read or what you have read that informs you of this.
Heaps and heaps! Scholarly literature on the influences of paganism on early Christianity is extensive, with some ideas more controversial than others of course. Cynicism, Stoicism, Platonism, lots more. For example, in the Wiki entry on Cynicism:

Some historians have noted the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and those of the Cynics. Some scholars have argued that the Q document, a hypothetical common source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke, has strong similarities to the teachings of the Cynics. Scholars on the quest for the historical Jesus, such as Burton L. Mack and John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, have argued that 1st-century AD Galilee was a world in which Hellenistic ideas collided with Jewish thought and traditions. The city of Gadara, only a day's walk from Nazareth, was particularly notable as a centre of Cynic philosophy,[75] and Mack has described Jesus as a "rather normal Cynic-type figure."

With regards to Stoicism:

In his letters, Paul reflected heavily from his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of Christianity.[47] Stoic influence can also be seen in the works of St. Ambrose, Marcus Minucius Felix, and Tertullian.[48]

The Fathers of the Church regarded Stoicism as a "pagan philosophy";[49][50] nonetheless, early Christian writers employed some of the central philosophical concepts of Stoicism. Examples include the terms "logos", "virtue", "Spirit", and "conscience".[25] But the parallels go well beyond the sharing and borrowing of terminology...

Stoic writings such as Meditations by Marcus Aurelius have been highly regarded by many Christians throughout the centuries.

As for discussions around the influence of Platonism on early Christianity, you can easily find many articles on that.
All of which means absolutely nothing. As I said, scholars are only willing to grant influence where it is undeniable. As far as calling Jesus the Jewish Dionysus, because Jews were engaged in the worship of Dionysus at the time, is a full stop no. They will never cross that line.
"Very tenuously"? No. Again I would ask for quotes from mainstream scholars to support that idea. It is certainly counter to what I've found in the literature.
Isn't it enough that mainstream scholars still regard Jesus and the Gospels as quasi-historic? What exactly are you asking for? Bart Ehrman lambasted the idea; J. Z. Smith outright rejected the idea of dying-and-rising gods to circumvent any potential influence on Christianity; and the scholarship still leans heavily on a Jewish-first influence, with Jews being resistant to worship pagan gods.

Do you see the difference here? Syncretism in philosophy and syncretism of religion are two different things in this regard. Scholars have to admit that Christians and Jews were taken in by pagan philosophies, because they admit it themselves. But they will at the most deny any similarity between Jesus and pagan gods, and at the least call it quaint. They will never say that Christianity was Judaism and paganism syncretized.

But this all comes back to your utter lack of understanding what syncretism even is and how it works, and I honestly don't care enough to educate you on it.

I don't understand what you mean by "Judaism is paganism" or "Christianity is paganism". What do you mean? The definition of paganism is: The religious beliefs and practices of pagans; religious opinion, worship, and conduct which is not Christian, Jewish, or Mohammedan. Is the definition incorrect?
Exhibit A. that I am wasting my time. First of all, paganism was a later term that applied to anyone living outside the city in rural and country areas. Pagans never called themselves pagans simply by virtue of worshiping Attis or Sabazios.. That's nothing but modern terminology and application.

Next, YHWH was a localized variant of Ba'al, the storm god of the Canaanites, who was syncretized with El, yet another god of storms, and the word for God in Hebrew is still El. Worshipers of of Ba'al even sacrificed bullocks on horned alters. Judaism was not in anyway different than the many religions of the time, all of which was a form of nature-worship.

Jesus Christ man.
My apologies. We have differing definitions, so it makes discussion on the topic difficult. But that's fine. Thanks for your input on it though.
We don't have different definitions. I have the correct one. That's that.

Post Reply