2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

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rgprice
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2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by rgprice »

The description of the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians is quite striking.

2 Thess 2:
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

This is quite a striking passage, and seems to be referring to a specific and recognizable individual. What strikes me is the fact that this appears to be describing Caligula via Philo.

On the Embassy to Gaius:
And he with difficulty, sobbing aloud, and in a broken voice, spoke as follows: "Our temple is destroyed! Gaius has ordered a colossal statue of himself to be erected in the holy of holies, having his own name inscribed upon it with the title of Jupiter!" And while we were all struck dumb with astonishment and terror at what he had told us, and stood still deprived of all motion (for we stood there mute and in despair, ready to fall to the ground with fear and sorrow, the very muscles of our bodies being deprived of all strength by the news which we had heard); others arrived bearing the same sad tale. And then we all retired and shut ourselves up together and bewailed our individual and common miseries, and went through every circumstance that our minds could conceive, for a man in misfortune is a most loquacious animal, wrestling as we might with our misery. And we said to one another, "We have sailed hither in the middle of winter, in order that we might not be all involved in violation of the law and in misfortunes proceeding from it, without being aware what a winter of misery was awaiting us on shore, far more grievous than any storm at sea. … For how can it be holy or lawful for us to struggle in any other manner, pointing out that we are citizens of Alexandria, over whom a danger is now impending, that namely, of the utter destruction of the general constitution of the Jewish nation; for in the destruction of the temple there is reason to fear that this man, so fond of innovation and willing to dare the most audacious actions, will also order the general name of our whole nation to be abolished.

What other explanation could there be for this passage (2 Thess)? Could it be that 2 Thess was written with knowledge of the plan of Caligula but before his death? Could it have been written after Caligula's death, implying that it was the Lord who killed Caligula?
schillingklaus
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by schillingklaus »

Marcion is the man of lawlessness. Philo is only plagiarized out of context for appropriation.

All attempts of reading first century history into the epistles are naive.
rgprice
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by rgprice »

I think this is referring to Caligula, and in fact that this is the basis for Mark 13 and the setting of Jesus' execution under Pilate.

Caligula’s order to setup the statue in the Temple was made in 40 CE, four years after the end of Pontius Pilate’s governorship of Judea. This event is commonly referred to as the “Caligula Crisis.” Multiple New Testament scholars have recognized the passage from Mark 13:14 as referring to the Caligula Crisis. Interestingly, however, most such scholars are Christian theologians who argue that this is a historically accurate prediction from the real Jesus or that this is evidence that the Gospel of Mark was written around 40 CE. For example, N.T. Wright makes this argument in Jesus and the Victory of God. A similar argument was made by N.H. Taylor in his article, Palestinian Christianity and the Caligula Crisis.

I had previously recognized that the ending of Mark is based on the works of Philo that cover the reign of Caligula. Against Flaccus and On the Embassy to Gaius. These two works include the only contemporary account of Pilate, along with the description of the invalid who is mocked as the "King of the Jews", and a description of the “Caligula Crisis,” which I quoted previously.

I wasn't sure why the writer chose to use these works in this way, but it all makes sense now if the writer knew 2 Thess 2 and viewed the "lawless one" as Caligula. And again, as I've said in other threads, "Mark" is the correct interpreter of Paul's letters. So if Mark thinks that this is Caligula then it is Caligula.

So what Mark has done in 13:14 is, once again, put "Paul's" words into Jesus' mouth. The prophecy was not a prophecy of Jesus, it was a prophecy of Paul.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they [g]arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and [h]have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

But, if this is the case, it certainly poses some questions.

Both 2 Thess 2 and Mark 13:14 are confusing because the statue was supposedly never erected in the temple. Can it possibly be that both 2 Thess 2 and Mark were written in the 2nd century, and that the writers simply misunderstood what happened and thought that the statue had actually been erected? Or do we really know for sure that the statue was never erected?

I do know that according to the works of Philo, it seems as if the erection of the statue is imminent. Were these writers somehow conflating the “Caligula Crisis” with the destruction of 70? The whole issue is quite strange, but I'm also convinced of critical importance.
Last edited by rgprice on Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Sinouhe
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by Sinouhe »

Interesting.

Could this be an argument in favor of the authenticity of the epistle ?
If this is indeed an allusion to Caligula, then 2 Thessalonians should be dated between 39 and 41 before Caligula's death.

In any case, verse 8, an allusion to isaiah 11:4, seems to me to be quite in line with the messianic expectations of the second temple (which very often take up this image) and with Paul's Christology.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by Leucius Charinus »

rgprice wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 3:08 am
Both 2 Thess 2 and Mark 13:14 are confusing because the statue was supposedly never erected in the temple. Can it possibly be that both 2 Thess 2 and Mark were written in the 2nd century, and that the writers simply misunderstood what happened and thought that the statue had actually been erected?

Or do we really know for sure that the statue was never erected?
According to Josephus via WIKI it was created and even shipped but not installed.
WIKI wrote:Riots again erupted in Alexandria in 40 between Jews and Greeks.[97] Jews were accused of not honouring the emperor.[97] Disputes occurred in the city of Jamnia.[98] Jews were angered by the erection of a clay altar and destroyed it.[98]

In response, Caligula ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem,[99] a demand in conflict with Jewish monotheism.[100] In this context, Philo wrote that Caligula "regarded the Jews with most especial suspicion, as if they were the only persons who cherished wishes opposed to his".[100]

The Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, fearing civil war if the order were carried out, delayed implementing it for nearly a year.[101] Agrippa finally convinced Caligula to reverse the order.[97] However, Caligula issued a second order to have his statue erected in the Temple of Jerusalem.

In Rome, another statue of himself, of colossal size, was made of gilt brass for the purpose. However, according to Josephus, when the ship carrying the statue was still underway, news of Caligula's death reached Petronius. Thus, the statue was never installed.[102]

[102] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.8.
rgprice
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by rgprice »

Sinouhe wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 3:33 am Interesting.

Could this be an argument in favor of the authenticity of the epistle ?
If this is indeed an allusion to Caligula, then 2 Thessalonians should be dated between 39 and 41 before Caligula's death.

In any case, verse 8, an allusion to isaiah 11:4, seems to me to be quite in line with the messianic expectations of the second temple (which very often take up this image) and with Paul's Christology.
Not necessarily. That is one possibility, but another is that this is a later writing using a retrospective prophecy. However, the fact that the statue was never erected is problematic. This is why I wonder if it is a later retrospective prophecy based on a reading of Philo, without knowing the real history. I don't know, it is quite baffling.
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Giuseppe
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by Giuseppe »

Turmel identifies the "man of sin" with Bar-Kokhba:

https://vridar.org/2011/05/31/identifyi ... salonians/

This fit the same enemy found in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: the Jews.
rgprice
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by rgprice »

Some additional info on how this ties in to Daniel. Daniel provides a retrospective prophecy about the erection of a statue of Zeus in the temple under Antiochus IV during the Maccabean conflict.

Daniel 11:
31 Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant; but the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 The wise among the people shall give understanding to many;


Daniel 12:
10 None of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11 From the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that desolates is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred ninety days. 12 Happy are those who persevere and attain the thousand three hundred thirty-five days. 13 But you, go your way, and rest; you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.

My reading of Mark 13:14 where it says "let the reader understand" is that this alludes to Daniel 12, where the writer is identifying the reader as "the wise".

My assumption had been that Mark was using the Caligula Crisis purely due to how it could be associated with the prophecies of Daniel. But rather it appears that the impetus is 2 Thess 2 and that "Mark" is drawing an association between 2 Thess 2 and Daniel. But 2 Thess 2 cannot be based solely on Daniel, because it is too specific about the nature of the abomination in ways that precisely describe Caligula.

Certainly one explanation is that the letter was written after plans of the statue had been made known, but before Caligula was killed. But is that the only or best explanation? I can't think of another yet.

But more puzzling is how Mark uses the reference and seems to associate the Caligula Crisis with the destruction of the Temple in 70.
rgprice
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by rgprice »

Giuseppe wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 5:18 am Turmel identifies the "man of sin" with Bar-Kokhba:

https://vridar.org/2011/05/31/identifyi ... salonians/

This fit the same enemy found in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: the Jews.
Ok, this does make some sense. Yet I wonder if Mark nevertheless misinterpreted the passage as being about Caligula? This would of course place the writing of Mark after the 2nd Jewish-Roman War. Which is not necessarily an obstical.
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Giuseppe
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Re: 2 Thess the Man of Lawlessness?

Post by Giuseppe »

rgprice wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 6:53 am
Giuseppe wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 5:18 am Turmel identifies the "man of sin" with Bar-Kokhba:

https://vridar.org/2011/05/31/identifyi ... salonians/

This fit the same enemy found in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16: the Jews.
Ok, this does make some sense.
What is particularly surprising, is the fact that in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 the Jews are given as inevitably doomed, which is coherent with the general tenor of 1 Thessalonians: the end is near!

While the general tenor of 2 Thessalonians is that the end is not very near, patience is recommended, etc, and it comes without no surprise that, accordingly, even the doom of the Jews is postponed, insofar their latest offensive against Christianity is given by the 'man of sin': Bar-Kokhba.
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