Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

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Kapyong
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Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Kapyong » Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:03 pm

Gday all,

It's been a few years, some new books have arisen - Carrier's OHJ, Ehrman's DJE?, Brodie. DJE? was a rather poor effort. OHJ was very interesting but flawed. I still tend to the Mythical Jesus view - perhaps only 60/40 now. Here I present my new version of a Jesus Myth theory.

Before Paul.
Some people had out-of-body visions of a spiritual being they came to call Jesus Christ before Paul. A loose mystery-like cult forms around this demi-God. Two people are prominent - Peter, and James who is revered with title 'brother of the Lord' (maybe he had the first vision?)

Life of Adam and the Third Heaven
Paul read this book and absorbed themes of - a son of God, who died, is buried in heaven, and eventually resurrected. I note B. Muller's argument for interpolation of 'third heaven' and GakuseiDon mentioning 2 Enoch. It and Paul and Life of Adam all now put Paradise in the third heaven. Maybe Paul learned this, or maybe he authored it himself - but he clearly believed it.

As Above so below
This theme is not unknown in the 1st C. - Ladder of Jacob, Ascension of Isaiah. Paul later contrasts Jerusalem above with Jerusalem below (Gal. 4:25.) The confused Life of Adam may be evidence for this - an earthly body buried in Paradise on earth mirrored by a soul buried in Paradise in the third heaven. Hebrews too has a heavenly Jerusalem (and a heavenly Jesus Christ who apparently was never on earth.) Above is connected to Below.

Paul's Vision - c.50
Paul has a life-changing visit to the third heaven where he meets this being Jesus Christ and learned of his crucifixion - which happened in Paradise in the third heaven. Paul sees Jesus Christ as a contrast and successor to Adam as described in the Life of Adam and adds the novelty of a crucifixion to the themes in the book - expanding the Jesus Christ story to include : crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection - all in Paradise in the third heaven. These events in heaven affect us on earth.
Paul believes he has had a grand revelation from Jesus Christ, and he travels and writes and preaches. His Jesus Christ is totally real (to him and the others) - a real heavenly being. Paul expands the small Jesus Christ communities with his fervent preaching of the crucifixion and personal revelation. The crucifixion is Paul's baby - it's HIS revelation, and he preaches it hard and emphasizes its reality.

Tree of Life ?
It's possible that Paul imagined Jesus Christ crucified on the Tree of Life in Paradise in the third heaven. Both Acts and 1 Peter claim he was crucified on a tree. Some later Christians associate Jesus Christ with the tree of life - Teachings of Silvanus; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho. CHAPTER LXXXVI; Celsus; Hippolytus, Exegetical; Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse. Just an idea.

The Nazarene
The Jesus Christ cult comes to believe he will be called a Nazarene - an idea so popular that the Gospels later clumsily incorporate it. The Nazarene meme had to be included because everyone knew it - not because it was historical.

G.Mark - c.70
'Mark' was a literate and educated pagan genius from Rome who had heard of the Jesus Christ mystery cult and also read :
  • Paul
  • the Tanakh (LXX)
  • Greek myths and mysteries
Mark wrote a masterpiece of religious literature - he took names and central themes from Paul, stories and episodes from the Tanakh, and wove a wonderful new tale of a god-man/Messiah set in a Jewish milieu but who followed the pattern of soter (saviour) from the mystery religions.
Literature, even myth - but not history. No intent to defraud, deceive, hoax, or lie.

Empty Epistles
Early Christian writings use Jesus Christ as a divine name with no historical context - Hebrews, Colossians, 1,2,3 John, James, Ephesians, 2 Thess., 1 Peter, 1 Clement, Revelation, Jude, Pastorals, Diognetus, 2 Clement.
2 Peter is an oddity - a historical transfiguration - rather docetic.
Hermas - a spiritual son-of-God.

G.Matthew, G.Luke, G.John - c.80 -100.
G.Mark is so good, others want to emulate it, knowing full well it is quality literature. The Gospel expands into four versions and spreads out into several distant communities - the fertile fields of the existing Jesus Christ cults.

Spreading Historicity
As the Gospels stories spread, there is natural tendency to believe they are true (people believed Sherlock Holmes was real.) When a gospel arrives in a new Jesus Christ community many would assume it was true - why wouldn't they ?
Some communities would have received the Jesus Christ story in three phases :
  1. (before Paul) Jesus Christ a heavenly being, no details
  2. (from Paul) Jesus Christ really crucified, died, buried, resurrected.
  3. (from a Gospel) the full Jesus Christ story.
Each layer becomes more detailed, and it ends with an apparently historical story. Early beliefs in a heavenly Jesus Christ are supplanted by later historicity - 'oh, so THAT'S the truth - Jesus was REALLY crucified after all'.
Jesus Christ solidifies from myth into history due to the spread of the Gospels - communities knowing the basics have their beliefs confirmed and expanded with the new details - but the context of being a myth is over-written by the later historical story.

Piece-wise
Sometimes the Gospel or their stories would spread piece-meal and/or by memory. This we have books like Barnabas and the Didakhe and Ignatius which have confused chunks of the Gospel stories. Papias knows about some early Gospels.

Myth vs History ?
Some still remembered that Jesus Christ was originally a spritual being. Arguments began against those who disagreed Jesus Christ came in the flesh. The conflict of belief in a spiritual Jesus Christ and the Gospel detail, lead to the docetic view of a phantom Jesus - a strong faction in early Christianity.
1 John appears to be an account of a Christian having a spiritual experience.
Minucius Felix c.150? seems to reject the Gospel stories. Other 2nd C. Christian apologists show no mention of a life of Jesus Christ. 2nd C. is a battling mish-mash of claims about Jesus Christ.

Aristides of Athens - c.140?
He describes the (un-named, singular) Gospel as being newly preached in his time, and clearly believes it is true. This may represent a clue to the spread of the Gospels - it appears to have reached Athens 'a short time' before his apology.

Justin c.150
Clearly believes his memoirs of the apostles and Peter are historical.

Tatian, Irenaeus etc. all believe it is true.
Historicity wins - the mythical origins of Jesus Christ have been replaced with a new detailed historical view.


A spiritual / mythical Jesus Christ eventually became believed historical as increasingly detailed layers of the story became more historical.

I look forward to hearing members' views on this. :)


Kapyong

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:08 pm

Kapyong wrote: Before Paul.
Some people had out-of-body visions of a spiritual being they came to call Jesus Christ before Paul. A loose mystery-like cult forms around this demi-God.
I'd say plenty of people were having visions of spiritual beings before and during the times of 'Paul'; and maybe beyond.
Kapyong wrote: Paul's Vision - c.50

G.Mark - c.70
'Mark' was a literate and educated pagan genius from Rome who had heard of the Jesus Christ mystery cult and also read :
  • Paul
  • the Tanakh (LXX)
  • Greek myths and mysteries
Mark wrote a masterpiece of religious literature - he took names and central themes from Paul, stories and episodes from the Tanakh, and wove a wonderful new tale of a god-man/Messiah set in a Jewish milieu but who followed the pattern of soter (saviour) from the mystery religions.

Literature, even myth - but not history. No intent to defraud, deceive, hoax, or lie.

Empty Epistles
Early Christian writings use Jesus Christ as a divine name with no historical context - Hebrews, Colossians, 1,2,3 John, James, Ephesians, 2 Thess., 1 Peter, 1 Clement, Revelation, Jude, Pastorals, Diognetus, 2 Clement.

2 Peter is an oddity - a historical transfiguration - rather docetic.

Hermas - a spiritual son-of-God.

G.Matthew, G.Luke, G.John - c.80 -100.
G.Mark is so good, others want to emulate it, knowing full well it is quality literature. The Gospel expands into four versions and spreads out into several distant communities - the fertile fields of the existing Jesus Christ cults.
I'd transpose these ~70-80 yrs forward ie. mid 2nd century: ~120 AD/CE onwards
Spreading Historicity
As the Gospels stories spread, there is natural tendency to believe they are true (people believed Sherlock Holmes was real.) When a gospel arrives in a new Jesus Christ community many would assume it was true - why wouldn't they ?

Some communities would have received the Jesus Christ story in three phases :
  1. (before Paul) Jesus Christ a heavenly being, no details
  2. (from Paul) Jesus Christ really crucified, died, buried, resurrected.
  3. (from a Gospel) the full Jesus Christ story.
I'd add 4. from apocryphal gospels that mention Jesus Christ.


I agree with this -
Each layer becomes more detailed, and it ends with an apparently historical story. Early beliefs in a heavenly Jesus Christ are supplanted by later historicity - 'oh, so THAT'S the truth - Jesus was REALLY crucified after all'.

Jesus Christ solidifies from myth into history due to the spread of the Gospels - communities knowing the basics have their beliefs confirmed and expanded with the new details - but the context of being a myth is over-written by the later historical story.

Piece-wise
Sometimes the Gospel or their stories would spread piece-meal and/or by memory. This we have books like Barnabas and the Didakhe and Ignatius which have confused chunks of the Gospel stories. Papias knows about some early Gospels.
Myth vs History ?
Some still remembered [or thought] that Jesus Christ was originally a spiritual being. Arguments began against those who disagreed 'Jesus Christ came in the flesh'. The conflict of belief in a spiritual Jesus Christ and the Gospel detail, lead to the docetic view of a phantom Jesus - a strong faction in early Christianity.

1 John appears to be an account of a Christian having a spiritual experience.

Minucius Felix c.150? seems to reject the Gospel stories. Other 2nd C. Christian apologists show no mention of a life of Jesus Christ. 2nd C. is a battling mish-mash of claims about Jesus Christ.

Aristides of Athens - c.140?
He describes the (un-named, singular) Gospel as being newly preached in his time, and clearly believes it is true. This may represent a clue to the spread of the Gospels - it appears to have reached Athens 'a short time' before his apology.
I'd say it's likely that [some] docetic views of a phantom Christ preceded the Jesus narratives.

.

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:38 am

Spreading Historicity
As the Gospels stories spread, there is natural tendency to believe they are true (people believed Sherlock Holmes was real.) When a gospel arrives in a new Jesus Christ community many would assume it was true - why wouldn't they ?
I am of idea that Marcion wrote the first Gospel. Assuming I'm right, in that case the spread of historicity was very faster, simplified by the fact that the natural reaction to Marcion's Gospel was not

''this man is never existed''

(since his author did assume that Jesus is an angel and not a man, and the existence of an angel is assumed a priori and not questioned in ancient world)

but was :

''this gospel has betrayed Jesus, because the real Jesus was a Jew and Marcion says he was not one''.

When you are convinced that the first written Gospel is not to be denied, but it should be changed, you are - without knowing it - contributing to euhemerize really the mythical Jesus.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Kapyong » Wed Feb 10, 2016 4:39 pm

Gday MrMacSon and all,
Thanks for your comments. :)
MrMacSon wrote:I'd say plenty of people were having visions of spiritual beings before and during the times of 'Paul'; and maybe beyond.
Yup, I think 1 John is an example -
" 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. "

This author is a Spiritual Jesus Christian - not a historicist at all.
MrMacSon wrote:I'd transpose these (G.Matthew, G.Luke, G.John) ~70-80 yrs forward ie. mid 2nd century: ~120 AD/CE onwards
Well, I am open to a late Gospels theory, but how do you fit the pieces together ? How does G.Mark develop into the others? How do you fit in books like the Didakhe and Barnabas, say ?
And Papias ? Marcion ?
MrMacSon wrote:I'd say it's likely that [some] docetic views of a phantom Christ preceded the Jesus narratives.
Possible.
It still seems there was three phases :
1. A purely heavenly spiritual being
2. A phantom who walked the earth
3. A god-man who walked the earth

With the modern view being :
4. A man who walked the earth


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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by MrMacSon » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:20 pm

Kapyong wrote:
MrMacSon wrote: I'd transpose these (G.Matthew, G.Luke, G.John) ~70-80 yrs forward ie. mid 2nd century: ~120 AD/CE onwards
Well, I am open to a late Gospels theory, but how do you fit the pieces together? How does G.Mark develop into the others? How do you fit in books like the Didakhe and Barnabas, say ?
And Papias ? Marcion ?
I think the pieces fit together better if the Gospels are 2nd century. How G.Mark relates to the others probably reflects the way the Jesus narrative was being received and bedded down & finalized. Vinzent suggests they all may be post Marcion. I think it's likely they were being developed concurrent with the Marcion texts, & others (eg. pseudepigraphical/apocryphal texts).

The Didakhe/Didache could well be a pre- Jesus-Christianity gospel that was subjugated by Christianity - it makes no mention of Jesus! yet is titled "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles".

Jonathan Draper wrote (Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269):
  • "It has been depicted by scholars as anything between the original of the Apostolic Decree (c. 50 AD) and a late archaising fiction of the early third century. It bears no date itself, nor does it make reference to any datable external event, yet the picture of the Church which it presents could only be described as primitive, reaching back to the very earliest stages of the Church's order and practice in a way which largely agrees with the picture presented by the NT, while at the same time posing questions for many traditional interpretations of this first period of the Church's life."
Draper states in a footnote (op. cit., p. 284), "A new consensus is emerging for a date c. 100 AD."

Stephen J. Patterson comments on the dating of the Didache (The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 173):
  • "Of course today, when the similarities between the Didache and Barnabas, or the Shepherd of Hermas, are no longer taken as proof that the Didache is literarily dependent upon these documents, the trend is to date the Didache much earlier, at least by the end of the first century or the beginning of the second and, in the case of Jean-P. Audet, as early as 50-70 CE."
Udo Schnelle makes the following remark about the Didache (The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p. 355):
  • "The Didache means by 'the gospel' (8.2; 11.3; 15.3, 4) the Gospel of Matthew; thus the Didache, which originated about 110 CE, documents the emerging authority of the one great Gospel."
More here - http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/didache.html


Moreover, from wikipedia -
"The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius (c. 324) as 'the Teachings of the Apostles' following the books recognized as canonical [Historia Ecclesiastica III, 25]
  • "Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called 'the Teachings of the Apostles', and also the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon."
Athanasius (367) and Rufinus (c. 380) list the Didache among apocrypha. (Rufinus gives the curious alternative title Judicium Petri, "Judgment of Peter".) It is rejected by Nicephorus (c. 810), Pseudo-Anastasius, and Pseudo-Athanasius in Synopsis and the 60 Books canon. It is accepted by the Apostolic Constitutions Canon 85, John of Damascus, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Adversus Aleatores by an imitator of Cyprian quotes it by name.
Notably -
Significant similarities between the Didache and the gospel of Matthew have been found[36] as these writings share words, phrases, and motifs ... This close relationship between these two writings .. suggest that both documents were created in the same historical and geographical setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the gospel of Matthew was probably composed of Jewish Christians from the beginning.[36]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache#M ... he_Didache

H. van de Sandt (ed), Matthew & the Didache: Two Documents from the Same Jewish-Christian Milieu?, (Assen: Royal van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2005).
.

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Kapyong » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:46 am

Gday Giuseppe and all,
Giuseppe wrote:I am of idea that Marcion wrote the first Gospel. Assuming I'm right, in that case the spread of historicity was very faster,
Ah, Marcion ...
So very much discussion, so very little results.

It would have to be very fast indeed. Are you suggesting something like this ?

G.Marcion c.140?
G.Mark
G.Luke, G.Matthew
G.John
(Papias, Barnabas, Didakhe)
Justin c.150
DiaTessaron 172

Do G.Luke, and G.Matthew come from G.Marcion or G.Mark ?
Does G.Mark come from G.Marcion ?


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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Kapyong » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:57 am

Gday MrMacSon and all :)
MrMacSon wrote:The Didakhe/Didache could well be a pre- Jesus-Christianity gospel that was subjugated by Christianity - it makes no mention of Jesus! yet is titled "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles".
It's certainly a very odd document, although I should point put that it does mention Jesus a few times, perhaps you meant he was missing from a particular section ?

It knows the Lord's Prayer in G.Matthew's form, but has a formal Eucharist without the slightest hint of the Last Supper !
Bizarre.


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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:47 am

(edited) I didn't think the Didache mentioned the name 'Jesus' at all, but I was wrong (I got confused with another early text: Papias).

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by gmx » Thu Feb 11, 2016 4:45 am

Kapyong wrote: A spiritual / mythical Jesus Christ eventually became believed historical as increasingly detailed layers of the story became more historical.
Kapyong
Something like the scenario you conjectured is of course possible.The point would seem to be that we can never know. If your theory was shown to be true, one might expect that Christianity as we know it would cease to exist. If we could prove the historical basis of the NT, then Christianity would lose its key platform: faith. Whether by design, or dumb luck, or divine intervention, Christianity survives on the precarious balance of doubt & faith.

For a couple of centuries, critics of a certain persuasion have been convinced that Jesus Christ is a myth, a pure work of fiction. Despite the truly massive application of human labor and resources, for a couple of centuries, no one has been able to prove them right or right.

It's almost like it was meant to be.

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Re: Kapyong's Jesus Myth Theory

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Feb 11, 2016 8:11 am

I am suggesting something like this :
Marcion wrote the first Gospel in 148 CE.
In reaction to Marcion, heretical and proto-catholic Christians wrote all the other Gospels. Heretical and proto-orthodox people share a common reaction against Marcion: they harmonize in some way the Stranger God of Marcion with the Jewish God.

The result is that the Stranger God of Marcion is not more so 'Stranger', in the hands of all other Christians.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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