Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Giuseppe
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Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:23 pm


So, likewise, he was an old man for old men … Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while he still fulfilled the office of a teacher … those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. … Some of them [i.e., those who teach this, PS], moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement.

(Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2:22:4-6)

Irenaeus takes the source from the fourth gospel. But just the fourth gospel has trouble with some people identifying dangerously John the Baptist with Jesus.

John 1:8:
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the ligh

John 1:19-23:
:
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[a] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

Hence the probability increases, that both the fourth Gospel and Irenaeus :
  • feared the confusion between John and Jesus
  • were victims partially themselves of this confusion.

This partial confusion would have provoked the view of a Jesus 50 years old.

Why?

Because "John the Baptist" lived under Claudius.

It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, 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 he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. 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. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.

(Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-9)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Nasruddin
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Nasruddin » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:22 am

Josephus has an earlier passage about John the Baptist, in Antiquities 18.5.2

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly pleased by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.

This episode is dated to before 36 AD. Clearly Theudas is a different person, whose aim was not baptism, and whose followers were slaughter by Roman cavalry.

Giuseppe
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:37 am

Nasruddin wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:22 am
Clearly Theudas is a different person
That is the exact thing that has to be proved.

But Theudas was a Jew. An adorer of YHWH. I have to see a case proving John adored YHWH, also. His name ("it is YHWH who gives grace") is not enough persuasive, in this sense.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

lsayre
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by lsayre » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:41 pm

Why would the Jews go to a man who was not a Jew to receive baptism? Or receive baptism from a man who did not believe in their God, and to them was thereby effectively a Gentile, or a turncoat of some sort.

Nasruddin
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Nasruddin » Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:09 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:37 am
Nasruddin wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:22 am
Clearly Theudas is a different person
That is the exact thing that has to be proved.

But Theudas was a Jew. An adorer of YHWH. I have to see a case proving John adored YHWH, also. His name ("it is YHWH who gives grace") is not enough persuasive, in this sense.
Where do you read that Theudas was an adorer of YHWH? And why would John adoring YHWH have any bearing on whether he was or was not the same as Theudas? What has to be proved?

Josephus is the source you use for Theudas, and the one I use for John. Both appear as different people, performing different activities, at different dates. Josephus tells us Theudas was a charlatan, who deluded his followers and led them to death. Josephus tells us John was a good man who greatly pleased his followers and led them to virtue and acceptability to God.

Giuseppe
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:59 pm

Nasruddin wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:09 pm
Where do you read that Theudas was an adorer of YHWH? And why would John adoring YHWH have any bearing on whether he was or was not the same as Theudas? What has to be proved?
Theudas was a Jew therefore he adored the god of the Jews.

It is doubtful if John existed and if he adored YHWH. The strong rivalry Christians versus John may be under the sign of an absolute absence of compromise:

But whoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit does not have forgiveness, to the age, but is guilty of eternal sin

(Mark 3:29)

The disciples of John said that John was possessed by the holy spirit. The spiritual possession was necessary to make John a prophet.

But the holy spirit (ruach) could be served to eclipse something of more embarrassing (from the POV of Judaizers).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

davidmartin
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by davidmartin » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:47 am

IMO the mistake Guiseppe makes is to assume black and white, either some 'adorer of YHWH' or a sworn enemy of YHWH!
I don't think this is a useful construct especially not in the 1st century

Here's the example, say Theudas was a spiritual teacher, teaching about love and doing good peacefully
Say he's opposed to the pharisee teachers
According to Guiseppe they are the same! Just because Theudas wasn't a total extremist, he's the same as the pharisees
Makes no sense to me

Giuseppe
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:31 am

davidmartin wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:47 am
According to Guiseppe they are the same! Just because Theudas wasn't a total extremist, he's the same as the pharisees
Makes no sense to me
you are the only in this forum to understand me. Effectively, if Theudas was an adorer of YHWH, I don't feel great interest about him, even if he was a potential candidate to be John the Baptist. Not even the rivalry between the Teacher of Justice and the Evil Priest of Qumran would be an interesting rivalry (or even a rivalry worthy of this name), since both adored probably YHWH. I like to find a radical contrast, one I can understand as a real reason of conflict, something for which it would be worth lying (possibly by a Gospel)...

ADDENDA: at any case, Paul and Hebrews are protected by my approach, since I assume that the Pillars and Paul adored YHWH and a Jesus in outer space and they didn't know Gnostics not even John the Baptist. My interest about gnosis is meant exclusively to explain how Jesus was euhemerized.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Nasruddin
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Nasruddin » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:11 am

The title of this thread should be "Did Irenaeus identify Theudas with John, and then identify them with Jesus without knowing it?", since the argument is that Irenaeus suggests that Jesus died in his 40s, which puts him in the reign of Claudius, which is the time that Theudas is mentioned as preaching, and that Theudas was a prophet who had followers go the River Jordan and was beheaded, which is superficialloy similar to the story of John the Baptist.

Iranaeus tells us that his source was;
"the Gospel and all the elders..; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information....Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement."

It was not just the Gospel, but John himself and other disciples of Jesus who told the elders that Jesus was in his 40s when he died. It is very unlikely that these people, who were contemporaries of Jesus, confused him with Theudas. Extra-Biblical material already tells us that John the Baptist did not live into the reign of Claudius, although his date of death is likely to have been later than conventional Chritian chronology assumes. Josephus suggests a date of c.34 AD. Since Jesus died after him, then that could well have been late enough for Jesus to have been in his 40s, considering he was supposedly born in the reign of Herod the Great who died in 4 BC, and died under the rule of Pontius Pilate, who left Judea in 36/7 AD. Iranaeus was probably not confused at all.

Giuseppe
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Re: Did Irenaeus identify John with Jesus without knowing it?

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:54 am

Nasruddin wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:11 am

It was not just the Gospel, but John himself and other disciples of Jesus who told the elders that Jesus was in his 40s when he died. It is very unlikely that these people, who were contemporaries of Jesus, confused him with Theudas. Extra-Biblical material already tells us that John the Baptist did not live into the reign of Claudius
no, no, it's all wrong, your view of things. Please read the 2014 book On the historicity of Jesus of Richard Carrier and only after come to talk with me, here. Where is Joseph D. L. when even the his language is music in comparison to the mere apologetic rumor of Nusraddin?
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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