WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:24 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:45 am
I appreciate your participation. But having done my share of mind-expanding (some would say brain damaging) drugs....
I think it is unfair of you to exploit my weakness for theories probably inspired by mind-altering chemicals.... :lol:

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Secret Alias
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Re: WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:36 am

There you go. If only life unfolded like an episode of the Prisoner I'd be number 2 by now.

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Secret Alias
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Re: WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:50 am

But I will say it again:

1. we know of almost nothing from early Christianity outside of Irenaeus
2. 'heresy' is Irenaeus's version of what lay beyond 'orthodoxy' another Irenaean construct
3. Clement is beyond Irenaeus's version of orthodoxy but Clement is aware of Irenaeus. For whatever reason Irenaeus had authority. Self-censorship in effect in most of his writings. Tried to get on Demetrius's good side. Demetrius may have been appointed by a body outside of Egypt.

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Re: WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:36 am

And on a Prisoner theme again - how is it scholars allow Irenaeus's worldview to become the 'default reality' of early Christianity? What is they look for more than anything? INFORMATION. Irenaeus provides them with information:

1. he sets up a scenario developed from Acts where a 'primitive Church' spread a message about a human Jesus born from a Virgin
2. he borrows from Acts story about Simon Magus to set up a 'counter reality' where 'heresies' KNEW the truth about the origins of Jesus and early Christianity and LIED about it (presumably because they were inspired by demons or Satan - although Irenaeus is less prone to demonic explanations when compared with his predecessors).

But THE REASON above all others that the Letter to Theodore and Secret Mark are rejected IS THAT IT DOESN'T FIT WITH IRENAEUS'S REALITY. That's it. But once we uncover the fact that Irenaeus's reality is a lie, it doesn't matter as much.

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Re: WEBINARS: The Social Worlds of Early Christians (Oct. 23-24, 2020)

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 am

Irenaeus sets up a scenario in Book Three where:

1. there was only one god
2. where even the appearance of manifold divinities (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit) goes back to the same monarchian principle
3. where said God established four gospels were because of a mystical reasoning
4. where said 'mystical reasoning' was never intended as secret knowledge transmitted viva voce

That's the scenario created by Irenaeus. No one can dispute that understanding. For me looking at that scenario I see secret gospel. Of course Irenaeus says 'no secret' gospel. He says the same thing repeatedly and more explicitly in Tertullian's Prescription (which originated with Irenaeus). But just look at 1 - 4. He's saying that the one God was OPENLY manifesting himself through different divinities (the Son and the Holy Spirit) and through multiple gospels which nevertheless are conceived as one gospel.

I think if we want to figure out who Irenaeus was we need only remember this obsession with hypostases. Ilaria Ramelli wrote a fascinating paper where she argued that Alexander of Aphrodisias was the influence over Origen's doctrine of hypostases.
Origen developed a notion of ὑπόστασις as individual substance (as opposed to οὐσία or common essence of a species, such as that of rational creatures or that of the whole Trinity) that, especially through the Cappa­docians, exerted an immense influence on subsequent Christian Trinitar­ian theology. As I have argued extensively elsewhere,56 and therefore need not demonstrate again here, not only was Origen’s use essentially a novelty, but it may even have influenced “pagan” Neoplatonism, in particular Por­phyry. Now, Origen’s sources of inspiration were – once again – not pre­vious Christian theologians, but ‘pagan’ philosophers and even medical authors, besides the Bible (Epistle to the Hebrews).57 Among these pagan philosophers there might have been Alexander of Aphrodisias, although in this case he is certainly not the only – and probably not even the main – source of inspiration for Origen ... Origen’s thought represented a novel and fundamental theorisation in respect to the individuality of ὑποστάσεις, conceived as individual sub­stances, in the Trinity, within a communality of οὐσία.
But clearly Origen's ideas were presaged by Irenaeus. Irenaeus must also have been influenced by Alexander. But let's not forget the Samaritan story of Alexander leading a holocaust on behalf of Commodus against the Samaritans over the issue of monarchianism. I know Criddle doesn't accept the dating of the story to the end of the second century but that's one opinion. I think Alexander may have imposed an understanding hypostases on Christianity which accounted for the obsession with monarchianism in all monotheistic traditions.

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