Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 4467
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:08 pm

Acts 16 (NIV) -
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
Hypsistarians, "i.e. worshippers of the Hypsistos (Greek: Ὕψιστος, the "Most High" God), is a term appearing in documents dated about 200 BC to about AD 400, referring to various groups mostly in Asia Minor (Cappadocia, Bithynia and Pontus), and on the South Russian coasts of what is today known as the Black Sea.

"Some modern scholars identify the group, or groups, with God fearers, that is uncircumcised semi-proselytes to, & sympathizers with, Hellenistic Judaism[1][2]

"In the Septuagint the word "hypsisto-" occurs more than fifty times as a title for Yahweh (the Tetragrammaton) or in direct relation to him (most often in the Psalms, Daniel, and Sirach; Strong's #5310) ...

"Contemporary Hellenistic use of ὕψιστος (hýpsistos) as a religious term appears to be derived from and compatible with ... the Septuagint. (Greek ύψίστος translating Hebrew elyon עליון English "highest".)

"Persius (34-62) may have had Hypsistarians in view when he ridiculed such hybrid religionists in Satire v, 179–84; and Tertullian (c.160 – c.225 AD) seems to refer to them in Ad nationes, I, xiii ...

"The names Hypsianistai, Hypsianoi first occur in Gregory of Nazianzus (Orat., xviii, 5) [his father belonged in his youth] and the name Hypsistianoi in Gregory of Nyssa (Contra Eunom., II), ie. about AD 374, but a great number of votive tablets, inscriptions and oracles of Didymos and Klaros establish beyond doubt that the cult of the Hypsistos (Hypsistos, with the addition of Theos 'god' or Zeus or Attis, but frequently without addition) as the sole God was widespread in the countries adjacent to the Bosphorus ...

"Hypsistarians are probably referred to under the name 'Coelicoloe' in a decree of the Emperors Honorius and Theodosius II (AD 408), in which their places of worship are transferred to the Catholics."
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 4467
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Was Paul or Luke a Hypsistarian?

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:15 pm

It seems most of the wikipedia entry, quoted above, is from the Catholic Encylcopedia, which also includes this -
It seems probable that the native Cappadocian cult of Zeus Sabazios was deliberately merged in the cult of Jahve Sabaoth practised by the numerous and intellectually predominant Jewish colonies, and that associations (sodalicia, thiasoi) of strict monotheists were formed, who fraternized with the Jews, but considered themselves free from the Mosaic Law. The importance and exalted ideas of these associations can be gathered from the fact that when someone asked Apollo of Klaros whether the Hypsistos alone was without beginning and end, he answered:
  • "He is the Lord of all, self-originated, self-produced, ruling all things in some ineffable way, encompassing the heavens, spreading out the earth, riding on the waves of the sea; mixing fire with water, soil with air, and earth with fire; of winter, summer, autumn, and spring, causing the changes in their season, leading all things towards the light and settling their fate in harmonious order."
The existence of these Hypsistarians must have been partially responsible for the astounding swiftness of the spread of Christianity in Asia Minor, yet not all of them accepted the new faith, and small communities of monotheists, neither Christians nor Jews, continued to exist, especially in Cappadocia.

The father of Gregory of Nazianzus belonged to such a sect in his youth, and they are described in his panegyric written by his son. They rejected idols and pagan sacrifices, and acknowledged the Creator (pantokrator) and the Most High, to whom however, in opposition to the Christians, they refused the title of "Father"; they had some superstitions in common with the Jews, their worship of fire and light, the keeping of the Sabbath, the distinctions of food, but circumcision they rejected.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07611a.htm

User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 4467
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:26 pm

The Hypsistarians were a semi-Jewish sect who worshiped God under the name θεός Υψιστος Παντοκράτωρ ("The most High and Almighty One"). Its members lived on the Bosphorus in the first century C.E. and were found from time to time in Asia Minor until the fourth century. They were Jewish to the extent that they observed the Sabbath and some of the dietary laws, but they deviated from Judaism in that they entertained a certain pagan awe for fire and light, the earth and sun, although no indication is given that they practiced any idolatrous worship or prayer rites. They are probably related to, and may be identical with, either the Mossalians ("Meẓallin"), or the Euchomenoi, or the Euphemitai who are distinguished as "God-worshipers who also worshiped the Almighty God at the blaze of many lights." The Hypistarians may also be related to the Yirei Shamayim ("venerators" or "worshipers of heaven"), mentioned in Codex Theodosianus, xvi, 5:43 and 8:19. The general view is that they were undoubtedly a remnant of Jewish proselytes who retained a few pagan notions but were regarded as hostile to Christian doctrine.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... 17909.html

Clive
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Post by Clive » Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:38 pm

Are not references to most high actually to Ahura Mazda?

Wiki
Ahura Mazda (/əˌhʊrəˌmæzdə/;[1]) (also known as Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, Harzoo and Hurmuz, Lord or simply as spirit) is the Avestan name for the creator and sole God of Zoroastrianism, the old Iranian religion predating Islam. Ahura Mazda is described as the highest spirit of worship in Zoroastrianism, along with being the first and most frequently invoked spirit in the Yasna. The literal meaning of the word Ahura is "mighty" or "lord" and Mazda is wisdom. Zoroastrianism revolves around three basic tenets – Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

Ahura Mazda first appeared in the Achaemenid period (c. 550 – 330 BCE) under Darius I's Behistun Inscription. Until Artaxerxes II (405–04 to 359–58 BCE), Ahura Mazda was worshiped and invoked alone. With Artaxerxes II, Ahura Mazda was invoked in a triad, with Mithra and Apam Napat. In the Achaemenid period, there are no representations of Ahura Mazda other than the custom for every emperor to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses, to invite Ahura Mazda to accompany the Persian army on battles. Images of Ahura Mazda began in the Parthian period, but were stopped and replaced with stone carved figures in the Sassanid period.
"We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"

Aleph One
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:13 am

Re: Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Post by Aleph One » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:24 pm

I don't have anything intelligent to add but to me this is a really fascinating group. I'm always trying to think outside of the box which the modem forms of these religions tends to put us in, and a group like this is a perfect example of the fluidity of these categories in the ancient times.

User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 4467
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Were Paul or Luke initially Hypsistarians?

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:43 pm

Aleph One wrote: ... this is a really fascinating group. I'm always trying to think outside of the box which the modem forms these religions tend to put us in, and a group like this is a perfect example of the fluidity of these categories in the ancient times.
Cheers. I fully agree. There is the odd bit of independent information and speculation around them, but it is good to revisit each bit of information and re-assess it in a Forum such as this (and in academia) - the more heads the better.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Ben C. Smith, Bernard Muller, Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], hakeem, james_C, John2, lsayre, MrMacSon, outhouse, Peter Kirby, Yahoo [Bot] and 35 guests