Peter Kirby wrote:Some good questions here. Some replies:
(1) There appears to be an over-emphasis in some questions on the idea that a proposed understanding of the ancient person's belief is going to have to be shown to be in some way necessary or pre-determined. On the other hand, the idea that anybody's beliefs, let alone a set of new beliefs, are going to be strictly necessary or absolutely locked into a certain way of thinking doesn't seem to be all that apt of a description of how new beliefs arise, generally.
It depends on what the claim is. If the claim is that Paul is influenced by Middle Platonism, and that we can read passages through that lens, then it is worth determining whether Middle Platonism is accurately being represented. That was a large part of my battle with Doherty on IIDB. On the other hand, if the claim is that Paul has his own unique views, then such an approach is less applicable.
One of the things I really liked about Carrier's OHJ is that he spends a lot of time establishing the background knowledge in his "Background elements" section that he references throughout his book. Even for new beliefs, if they can be tied to some background detail, it makes them more plausible.
Peter Kirby wrote:(3) Gakusei Don wonders whether there were "demons under the earth" and then goes on to say that "there were daemons who tortured the wicked underground" in "Roman belief," which seems to answer the question. Just drop the assumption that this could only ever be a "Roman belief." I don't believe that there's actually been an exhaustive search that would support the sharp demarcation suggested here or anything like an exhaustive search at all. It even seems to ignore the quotes from the Ascension of Isaiah up-thread, for example.
"Just drop the assumption"? Okay. I'll be interested on where you take this. (Eventually an exhaustive search may become necessary, however, if we progress far enough)
On the Ascension of Isaiah (one of my favorite texts!), I was thinking about that. Text from here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... nsion.html
In AoI, the Beloved goes past Satan and the demons in the firmament and the air. The Beloved then goes into Sheol to "plunder the angel of death":
9.14. And the god of that world will stretch forth his hand against the Son, and they will crucify Him on a tree, and will slay Him not knowing who He is.
15. And thus His descent, as you will see, will be hidden even from the heavens, so that it will not be known who He is.
16. And when He hath plundered the angel of death, He will ascend on the third day, [and he will remain in that world five hundred and forty-five days].
17. And then many of the righteous will ascend with Him, whose spirits do not receive their garments till the Lord Christ ascend and they ascend with Him.
The Angel of Death is not Satan. He is God's creature, but a terrifying one: kind of like the Grim Reaper. He kills people and takes their souls to Sheol. This includes the good and the bad. You can see above that the Beloved goes into Sheol and brings up the souls of "the righteous", whom had been waiting in Sheol. There is also in Chapter 10:
10.8. "Go forth and descent through all the heavens, and thou wilt descent to the firmament and that world: to the angel in Sheol thou wilt descend, but to Haguel thou wilt not go.
Sheol is where the souls of people await. Even good people's souls can be there. Haguel is perdition, and presumably with only bad souls. It's like Sydney in Australia. No point for the Beloved to go there!
I'm not sure whether this hinders or helps with your candidate "Jesus descended under the earth and was crucified and buried by the demons there". But it is interesting and hopefully useful background knowledge.