Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8418
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jan 05, 2021 2:02 pm

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 1:15 pm
rgprice wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:24 am
The Gospel of Thomas is some second or third century forgery derived from the other Gospels and letters of Paul. Nothing to see here...
You will regret that statement in due time, Robert ;)

I have taken this year off and will write my Commentary on Thomas, and have published 3 logia so far.
The last one is of particular interest here as it is on logion 57, the seed and the Weed - which is "zizanion" both in Thomas and Matthew, and it is the only time in the entire history of mankind (tut tut) that this non existing word is mentioned

So either Thomas invented it and Matthew copied him, or Jesus / Matthew invented it and Thomas copied him

https://www.academia.edu/44840311/The_P ... dark_words

I have about a dozen other cases, similar in nature, but this one is a perfectly binary choice. Meier states:

Meier, ‘The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds’, 726–727: ‘This Greek noun (probably of Semitic origin) does not occur in the LXX, in other Greek versions of the OT, in secular Greek before the Christian era, or in the Apostolic Fathers. In the NT, it occurs only in this parable of Matthew and its interpretation.’

Borrowing a word into Greek from a Semitic language is not quite the same as coining a word from scratch. It may have been done independently of Matthew or Thomas in a Greek text which is generally thought to have derived from a Semitic original:

Apocalypse of Moses 16.1-5 (English translation slightly modified from that of Gary A. Anderson and Michael E. Stone, pericope 18): 1 And the Devil spoke to the serpent saying, “Rise up, come to me and I will tell you a word whereby you may have profit.” And he arose and came to him. 2 And the Devil said to him, “I hear that you are wiser than all the beasts; I have come to observe you. I have found you greater than all the animals, and I have come to converse with you. 3 Why do you eat of the tares of Adam and of wife [διὰ τί ἐσθίεις ἐκ τῶν ζιζανίων τοῦ Ἀδὰμ καὶ τῆς γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ] and not of the garden? Rise up and we will cause him to be cast out of the garden, even as we were cast out through him.” 4 The serpent said to him, “I fear lest the Lord be wroth with me.” 5 The Devil said to him, “Fear not, only be my vessel and I will speak through your mouth words to deceive them.”

(That said, I agree that there is a textual connection of some kind between Matthew and Thomas, and therefore that it is much more likely that one of them lifted this rare word from the other than that Matthew and Thomas both borrowed the same word independently for their parables, even if the use of the same term in the Apocalypse of Moses may be independent.)

davidmartin
Posts: 625
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by davidmartin » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:32 pm

OK RG, i see where you are going with this
This is one of the better mythicist arguments i've seen
And trying to posit a reconstructed view of these origins is what i think there needs to be more of with playing around with scenarios, it's kind of fun

There's some flaws in your movie, you talk about the Jerusalem church as a prior thing
I believe it's impossible to reconcile Pauline theology with a reconstructed orthodox Jewish Jerusalem church, i just don't buy it and something has to give. Paul's gospel might have worked among god-fearing gentiles but it would never fly in Jerusalem
That's problem number 1

Problem 2 is the one you mentioned of how come the gospel Jesus is so unknown to Paul and the NT writings outside the gospels

I prefer to see the original movement as being quite diverse and based on a heavenly redeemer concept with the promise of experiencing God directly, like the prophets of old and like the messianic promise in Isaiah. I don't think Paul invented that idea. Sure it was Jewish. Probably this redeemer could be God or a Spirit or a Son or an Angel, whatever
There were various human leaders floating around this broader movement who represented the redeemer, just like Paul does
One in particular gets widely accepted as being the best one and ignites the movement into new territory
After he runs foul of the authorities (easily done back then) his memory remains and he gets elevated by his followers
This guy had particular teachings and a story as well

But then along comes Paul, he accepts him being the redeemer but sticks mostly to the heavenly redeemer concept and doesn't bother with the teachings or story because, he's got his own ideas on how to present this thing and he doesn't need them
It's not wildly different to what came before, but different enough to make enemies of others in the same community who were around before him
Paul's churches know nothing of the historical figure of course because Paul is clean sheeting it
Rumours and stories circulate and are rejected by Paul's churches after his death, they're from his enemies after all
In the end the gospels get accepted loaded with information on the historical figure
But the NT writers still do not really trust the gospels and by the time they do, most of the NT writings have been written

As for the Jerusalem church, like Paul they're probably an offshoot from the earlier phase except going in the opposite direction, a more rigid and normative Judaism where the heavenly redeemer scarcely plays a role any more. They don't say much more about the historical figure than Paul does. This group is presented in Acts as being buddies with Paul and used to portray an idealised early movement for purely 2nd century reasons

Not many of this lot actually wanted to know about the historical figure unless he happened to agree in every detail with themselves, but the gospels do present key differences with much found in the NT. If these guys had crafted the gospel Jesus themselves they would have made him match up far better to their own stuff. Jesus would be spouting Pauline theology not parables
Which is more Jewish, the Gospel of Thomas or Paul? Serious question. Thomas Jesus sounds like Jewish wisdom, i can imagine some bearded rabbi thinking 'that Jesus was one of us'. Paul is more problematic

In the end, yes there is mythology around it there's got to be but purely mythological? that doesn't seem to explain all the problems surely it's a case of flagging which bits are myth and which are more likely historical (even in the loosest sense)

User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 6459
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:22 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:32 pm
I believe it's impossible to reconcile Pauline theology with a reconstructed orthodox Jewish Jerusalem church
What do you mean by a ''reconstructed' orthodox Jewish Jerusalem church' ?

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by mlinssen » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 2:02 pm
Borrowing a word into Greek from a Semitic language is not quite the same as coining a word from scratch. It may have been done independently of Matthew or Thomas in a Greek text which is generally thought to have derived from a Semitic original:

Apocalypse of Moses 16.1-5 (English translation slightly modified from that of Gary A. Anderson and Michael E. Stone, pericope 18): 1 And the Devil spoke to the serpent saying, “Rise up, come to me and I will tell you a word whereby you may have profit.” And he arose and came to him. 2 And the Devil said to him, “I hear that you are wiser than all the beasts; I have come to observe you. I have found you greater than all the animals, and I have come to converse with you. 3 Why do you eat of the tares of Adam and of wife [διὰ τί ἐσθίεις ἐκ τῶν ζιζανίων τοῦ Ἀδὰμ καὶ τῆς γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ] and not of the garden? Rise up and we will cause him to be cast out of the garden, even as we were cast out through him.” 4 The serpent said to him, “I fear lest the Lord be wroth with me.” 5 The Devil said to him, “Fear not, only be my vessel and I will speak through your mouth words to deceive them.”

(That said, I agree that there is a textual connection of some kind between Matthew and Thomas, and therefore that it is much more likely that one of them lifted this rare word from the other than that Matthew and Thomas both borrowed the same word independently for their parables, even if the use of the same term in the Apocalypse of Moses may be independent.)
Yup. Much, much more likely indeed than Jesus or Matthew quoting from this text.
I have a few simple mechanisms to make a binary choice about alleged dependencies, and its main one is purpose

I fail to see that in either of the three copying from this text because it doesn't have any context there, it isn't used, exploited, it has no function there.
So I decide and then move on to the next step, which doesn't mean I'm right or wrong of course, but I am in a hurry to get through this amazon forest of a billion square miles and that simply is impossible if you allow yourself to be tied to and dwell upon uncertainties that go back in your journey

"Generally thought" - uhuh. I am very allergic to general thinking, especially when and where it is about something entirely unconvincing as right here with a definition of "weed" being implied by a loanword zizanion allegedly derived from a word zinzan that has yet another form which means "it becomes dry" - oh and isn't used anywhere

Going by relations like that, you and I could be brothers Ben. Humbug :P

davidmartin
Posts: 625
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by davidmartin » Wed Jan 06, 2021 3:46 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:22 pm
davidmartin wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:32 pm
I believe it's impossible to reconcile Pauline theology with a reconstructed orthodox Jewish Jerusalem church
What do you mean by a ''reconstructed' orthodox Jewish Jerusalem church' ?
The portrayal of Peter in Acts and the church fathers paint a picture of a very pious and righteous early start to the movement, this logically leads to a view that the Jerusalem church would have been zealously Torah observant and more righteous than the Pharisees in their observances and walk in God
This would be one reconstructed view of the Jerusalem church, but it then clashes with Paul's doctrine - something Acts acknowledges and solves with various mechanisms
My argument is that this picture of the Jerusalem church as the original Christians is idealised and charming but highly questionable
I solve this by imagining a more primordial movement prior to Paul or to the above 'Jerusalem church' which I take to be an actual movement that opposes Paul, but which itself wasn't the original movement either

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8418
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:26 am

mlinssen wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 2:02 pm
Borrowing a word into Greek from a Semitic language is not quite the same as coining a word from scratch. It may have been done independently of Matthew or Thomas in a Greek text which is generally thought to have derived from a Semitic original:

Apocalypse of Moses 16.1-5 (English translation slightly modified from that of Gary A. Anderson and Michael E. Stone, pericope 18): 1 And the Devil spoke to the serpent saying, “Rise up, come to me and I will tell you a word whereby you may have profit.” And he arose and came to him. 2 And the Devil said to him, “I hear that you are wiser than all the beasts; I have come to observe you. I have found you greater than all the animals, and I have come to converse with you. 3 Why do you eat of the tares of Adam and of wife [διὰ τί ἐσθίεις ἐκ τῶν ζιζανίων τοῦ Ἀδὰμ καὶ τῆς γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ] and not of the garden? Rise up and we will cause him to be cast out of the garden, even as we were cast out through him.” 4 The serpent said to him, “I fear lest the Lord be wroth with me.” 5 The Devil said to him, “Fear not, only be my vessel and I will speak through your mouth words to deceive them.”

(That said, I agree that there is a textual connection of some kind between Matthew and Thomas, and therefore that it is much more likely that one of them lifted this rare word from the other than that Matthew and Thomas both borrowed the same word independently for their parables, even if the use of the same term in the Apocalypse of Moses may be independent.)
Yup. Much, much more likely indeed than Jesus or Matthew quoting from this text.
I have a few simple mechanisms to make a binary choice about alleged dependencies, and its main one is purpose

I fail to see that in either of the three copying from this text because it doesn't have any context there, it isn't used, exploited, it has no function there.
So I decide and then move on to the next step, which doesn't mean I'm right or wrong of course, but I am in a hurry to get through this amazon forest of a billion square miles and that simply is impossible if you allow yourself to be tied to and dwell upon uncertainties that go back in your journey

"Generally thought" - uhuh. I am very allergic to general thinking, especially when and where it is about something entirely unconvincing as right here with a definition of "weed" being implied by a loanword zizanion allegedly derived from a word zinzan that has yet another form which means "it becomes dry" - oh and isn't used anywhere

Going by relations like that, you and I could be brothers Ben. Humbug :P
If the alternative is that either Matthew or Thomas made up the word from thin air, like baby talk, then I demure. It obviously came from somewhere.

Kunigunde Kreuzerin
Posts: 1417
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:19 pm
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:40 am

mlinssen wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am
I fail to see that in either of the three copying from this text because it doesn't have any context there, it isn't used, exploited, it has no function there.
Come on Martijn, there are two groups of people in Matthew's story. Some will be damned and others will go to heaven. The damned are denoted by a Semitic word for weeds. So who will they be?

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by mlinssen » Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:48 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:26 am
If the alternative is that either Matthew or Thomas made up the word from thin air, like baby talk, then I demure. It obviously came from somewhere.
Remember our exchange on the parable of the colostrum?
Thomas loved wordplay and jokes

Logion 12 is one of those, logion 46, and my latest find is logion

33. say(s) IS he-who you will hear as-regards he in your ear in the other ear proclaim within he from-upon your(PL.PL) roof not-usually any Indeed ignite candlestick and/or he place he toward ear Nor not-usually he place he in place he be-hidden Rather continue-to he place he from-upon the(F) Lampstand in-order-that every-one who/which go-inward and who/which about-to-come outward they will behold to his light

Ear is the very well known ⲙⲁⲁϫⲉ, and it has two meanings:

https://coptic-dictionary.org/results.c ... e&lang=any

User avatar
mlinssen
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:01 am
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by mlinssen » Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:56 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:40 am
mlinssen wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am
I fail to see that in either of the three copying from this text because it doesn't have any context there, it isn't used, exploited, it has no function there.
Come on Martijn, there are two groups of people in Matthew's story. Some will be damned and others will go to heaven. The damned are denoted by a Semitic word for weeds. So who will they be?
Are you suggesting that Matthew, who bent over backwards making up prophecies based on the Tanakh, who invented that Jesus is of the lineage of David, who undoes most if not all of Mark's rejecting of Jewish Law, is actually anti-Jewish?

And is this the first and last time that he uses non existing Greek words, never used before nor after, to hint at something via clever wordplay?
Our is he just a very straightforward moralist spelling it all out, at length, over and over again, so that even a toddler would understand his messages?

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8418
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Evidence Christianity started as mythicist

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:12 am

mlinssen wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:48 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:26 am
If the alternative is that either Matthew or Thomas made up the word from thin air, like baby talk, then I demure. It obviously came from somewhere.
Remember our exchange on the parable of the colostrum?
Thomas loved wordplay and jokes
We disagreed on the colostrum, as I recall, and probably disagree here, as well.

What is the word play in this case, in your view?

The presence of this same Greek term in the Apocalypse of Moses, in a context which is neither Matthean nor Thomasine in any way, suggests that the word may have existed independently; if it fails to show up in other ancient texts, that may be a result of our having lost more than we have preserved from antiquity rather than a result of Matthew or Thomas having coined the word from nothing. If you disagree with this assessment, that is fine; have at it: you and I do ancient history very differently, after all. My main point was to make sure that you have all the data at your disposal, including a text which you did not mention and which does not fall into any of the categories laid out by Meier. Whatever conclusion you arrive at, whether I agree with it or not (or even have a well formed opinion on it or not), at least it will not be skipping over a possibly relevant datum.

Post Reply