Nazarene Christianity

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:57 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:01 am
John,
i was taking the accusations made against Jesus 'the literary figure' by the authorities
These folks were definitely accusing him of breaking the law - not just arguing over the oral Torah

John "Hath any of the rulers believed on him, or of the Pharisees? But this multitude that knoweth not the law are accursed."
Luke "And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said unto them, Ye brought unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people"
Mark "And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of"

I'm not so sure (and am not arguing) that the gospel of John is associated with Nazarene Christianity, so let's set that one aside.

As for Mark, Matthew and Luke, since I view Mark as being the earliest, let's start there. While there are some earlier instances where the Pharisees did not approve of something Jesus did, the first time they accuse him of doing something "unlawful" is in 2:23-28 regarding proper Sabbath observance:

One Sabbath Jesus was passing through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick the heads of grain as they walked along. So the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

Jesus replied, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? During the high priesthood of Abiathar, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which was lawful only for the priests. And he gave some to his companions as well.”

Then Jesus declared, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”



The Pharisees are applying their interpretation of what constitutes work on the Sabbath, regarding which I agree with the argument made here:

The Mishna, which comes from the rabbinical oral tradition of Jesus’ day, lists “forty less one” tasks that it considers “work”—a violation of the Sabbath—for a Jew.

The list includes the agricultural activities of threshing and winnowing—the removal of husks from heads of grain and separating the resulting chaff from the grains (Mishna, Shabbath). Remember that to the scribes and Pharisees, a violation of their oral tradition about a law was equivalent to breaking the law itself. Therefore the Pharisees watching Jesus’ disciples picking and rubbing a few heads of grain could say, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” even though such activity is not specifically proscribed or defined as harvesting in the Pentateuch.

It is interesting that not all ancient Jewish authorities agreed with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. The writers of the Talmud stated that one could pluck and eat on the Sabbath if he only rubbed the grain with his fingertips and not the whole hand. Another authority (Rabbi Judah ben El’ai) said that the same act could be done if a utensil were not involved ...

The Pharisees who accused the disciples of breaking the Sabbath harvesting law had made an erroneous assumption. Because they saw divine law primarily as a system of limitations, they assumed that the most restrictive interpretation of a law was the most righteous, so they sought ever-finer degrees of limitation, sometimes losing sight of the law’s intent ...

When the Pharisees saw the disciples picking heads of grain, they could have interpreted the law mercifully, seeing hungry men preparing and eating. Instead, they chose to see the law in its most limiting sense, forbidding harvesting and winnowing ... Jesus used a scriptural precedent to show that they were wrong ...


https://www.lcg.org/lcn/2000/september- ... eads-grain

So I see it as being a matter of what constitutes work (in this case "harvesting") in the Torah, to which the Pharisees applied their interpretation and Jesus applied his. And as the article notes, plucking grain "is not specifically proscribed or defined as harvesting in the Pentateuch."


To say that he was only challenging traditions, well that isn't what he was accused of - the scope appears bigger including multiple aspects such as Shabbat observance, ritual impurity, and so on

I would need to see a specific reference regarding ritual purity, but regarding Sabbath observance, again it appears to be a matter of interpreting what constitutes work. Let's take a look at the next example of the Pharisees accusing Jesus of doing something "unlawful" in Mark (3:1-6):

Once again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man with a withered hand was there. In order to accuse Jesus, they were watching to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.

Then Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stand up among us.” And he asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

But they were silent.

Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart. Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and it was restored.

At this, the Pharisees went out and began plotting with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

As noted here, the Torah does not forbid healing on the Sabbath:

The Hebrew Bible contains no incidents of healing on Shabbat. The sages who set about codifying Jewish law classified healing as “work” — it involves the mixing of medicines, travelling to the patient, carrying equipment and other tasks generally forbidden on the Sabbath day.


https://www.thejc.com/judaism/features/ ... at-1.65237

So not only does the Torah not say anything about healing on the Sabbath, it is forbidden in Rabbinic Judaism (when it doesn't involve saving a life) only when it involves mixing medicine and such, and Jesus only spoke words, and as noted below regarding his healing of a woman on the Sabbath in Lk. 13:10-17, "he merely prayed for her healing, which was not prohibited." So the Pharisees were only hassling him.


https://ourrabbijesus.com/articles/logi ... g_sabbath/
The move about is all we do.

John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:14 pm

David wrote:

Luke "And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said unto them, Ye brought unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people"
Mark "And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they accuse thee of"

I see these kinds of accusations as being like the ones Josephus (who was a Pharisee) makes against (in my view other) Fourth Philosophers, that "the nation was infected with this doctrine" and "the customs of our fathers were altered," i.e., they were political in nature in addition to being about rejecting the oral Torah. I think this is why the Herodians were involved with the Pharisees in the plot to kill Jesus in Mark. 3:6:

At this, the Pharisees went out and began plotting with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.



And in the citations you give, they appear to have only been throwing accusations at the wall and seeing what sticks, and in any event Mark says that they were false. And the only one that is specified is similar to what Josephus blames on Fourth Philosophers, i.e., it pertains to the destruction of the Temple (with Jesus wanting to destroy it and Fourth Philosophers being the cause of it).


14:55-59:

Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they did not find any. For many bore false witness against Jesus, but their testimony was inconsistent..

Then some men stood up and testified falsely against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple, and in three days I will build another that is made without hands.’” But even their testimony was inconsistent.

Cf. Ant. 18.1.1:

... the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down ... these men ... filled our civil government with tumults ... and laid the foundations of our future miseries, by this system of philosophy ... and this ... infection ... brought the public to destruction.

And Mark presents the charges as being so ridiculous that even Pilate did not believe them.


15:10:

For he knew it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over.
Last edited by John2 on Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:28 am, edited 3 times in total.
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John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:50 pm

And in Luke the charges have nothing to do with breaking the written Torah and resemble what Josephus says about Fourth Philosophers even more.

23:1-2:

Then the whole council rose and led Jesus away to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar, and proclaiming himself to be Christ, a king.”

Cf. Ant. 18.1.1:

Yet was there one Judas ... who, taking with him Sadduc ... became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty ... This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves.
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John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:41 pm

I think the resemblance of Nazarene Christianity to the Fourth Philosophy is another indication that it pre-dates other forms of Christianity, since it thus fits into a pre-70 CE context.

In addition to Jesus rejecting the oral Torah ("the customs of our fathers were altered"; cf., "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?") and likening himself to people who seem like the "I am He" guys Josephus describes in War 2.13.4 ("These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration"; cf., "Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many") and being accused of the same things Josephus accuses Fourth Philosophers of (they "said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty ... but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves"; cf., "We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar, and proclaiming himself to be Christ, a king”), Acts outright compares Christians to Fourth Philosophers in 5:36-38 (regardless of the mixed up chronology):

"Some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and drew away people after him. He too perished, and all his followers were scattered. So in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone. Let them go! For if their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail."



Jesus was also crucified alongside two Fourth Philosophers (Mk. 15:27: "They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left"), and was messianic like Josephus says Fourth Philosophers were (War 6.5.4: "what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth"; cf. Mk. 14:61-62: "Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven”).

That Josephus is referring to the Messiah and not to a normal king of an independent Judea is clear from his remark that the future "governor" will rule over "the habitable earth" and his application of it to Vespasian, who ruled over more or less "the habitable earth" and not just Judea.

And even though Jesus rejected the oral Torah, he otherwise subscribed to Pharisaic beliefs like Josephus says Fourth Philosophers did ("These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions"; cf. Jesus' belief in the resurrection of the dead in Mk. 12:18-27, which he only castigates Sadducees for not believing in).

So since Jesus and his followers were Torah observant like Nazarene Christians and were called Nazarenes and resembled Fourth Philosophers, I think Nazarene Christianity began as a faction of the Fourth Philosophy and that Mark, Matthew, Luke and Acts could not have been written by the forms of Christianity that opposed Nazarene Christianity.
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John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Sat Feb 01, 2020 4:34 pm

I've heard an objection before that Jesus couldn't have been a Fourth Philosopher because he wasn't militant, but I think that could be a matter of interpretation, and in any event not all Fourth Philosophers were opposed to making peace with Rome (like Niger of Perea and Josephus), and he was certainly militant with respect to his belief in himself as Daniel's "son of man," as per Mk. 8:38:

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

This coming of the "son of man" is described with the most militant imagery imaginable in Rev. 14-20. Take 14:14-20, 17:14, 18:9 and 19:11-21 for examples:

And I looked and saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was One like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.

Then another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the One seated on the cloud, “Swing Your sickle and reap, because the time has come to harvest; for the crop of the earth is ripe.” So the One seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, with authority over the fire, came from the altar and called out in a loud voice to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the vine of the earth, because its grapes are ripe.”

So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes of the earth, and he threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and the blood that flowed from it rose as high as the bridles of the horses for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will triumph over them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and he will be accompanied by his called and chosen and faithful ones.

Then the kings of the earth who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her will weep and wail at the sight of the smoke rising from the fire that consumes her.

Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness he judges and wages war. He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on his head. He has a name written on him that only he himself knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is The Word of God.

The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow him on white horses. And from his mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of kings and Lord of lords.

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice to all the birds flying overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and commanders and mighty men, of horses and riders, of all men slave and free, small and great.”

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies assembled to wage war against the One seated on the horse, and against his army. But the beast was captured along with the false prophet, who on its behalf had performed signs deceiving those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. Both the beast and the false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of the One seated on the horse. And all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

However one interprets Jesus' political position before his resurrection, I can't imagine his post-resurrected "son of man" form having more militant imagery than this, and it is in keeping with the description of the "son of man" in Dan. 7:13-14:

I saw One like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. And he was given dominion, glory, and kingship, that the people of every nation and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.



And even if one interprets Jesus as being passive before his resurrection, not only was that in keeping with his philosophy that "the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that he must be killed" (as per his interpretation of the "cut off" Messiah in Dan. 9:26 and Isaiah's Suffering Servant and such, which he believed was necessary to become resurrected and return in a militant "son of man" form), but he didn't need to have been militant before his resurrection to have been seen as a threat to the authorities, given that John the Baptist had been put to death only because of his ability to draw large crowds like Jesus did.


Ant. 18.5.2:

... 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 ... Herod ... 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.



So even if Jesus wasn't militant before his resurrection, he would have been seen as a threat to the authorities for his ability to draw large crowds, his opposition to the oral Torah of the Pharisees (whose oral Torah was the law of the land) and his belief in himself as the Messiah.
Last edited by John2 on Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John2
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Re: Nazarene Christianity

Post by John2 » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:28 pm

I see Jesus' suffer first/conquer later philosophy as being akin to the willingness of Fourth Philosophers to undergo pain and die for their cause and their penchant for committing suicide in the face of defeat (like on Masada). Do you suppose that those who committed suicide were thus passive and interested in making peace with Rome, or do you think that they believed they would be resurrected after their suicide and participate in or witness the defeat of Rome (or whatever powers that may be) at the End Time? I would suppose the latter option, and the only difference between that and what Jesus did is that the former did it to themselves and Jesus had others do it for him.
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