Forget the Myth of Jesus

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by neilgodfrey »

spin wrote: Sat Feb 03, 2024 8:20 am
andrewcriddle wrote:c/ Acts may date from the very beginning of the second century, but this would not prima-facie make it of no historical value for mid first century events. IMO Acts is too familiar with the social world of the first century to be later than the death of Trajan.
While I'm looking for a radical analysis of Paul in his context free of post-Pauline anachronism, how can you show any relevance of Acts to the times it purports to deal with?
Is not this the crux of the whole question of the historicity of the narrative of Acts? There is no independent means of demonstrating the historiographical intent or historical reliability of any of the narrative of first century Christianity. Rather, we have the assumption (questioned by the Acts Seminar) that Acts must be based on sources that tell us something about first century Christianity, with the only trick required being able to discern the historical from the fabricated.

As Andrew rightly points out, dating Acts no later than the "very beginning of the second century" does "not prima facie makes Acts of no historical value for mid first century events". But in the absence of any independent indicator that the work has historical value for those events we have nothing more than assumption on which to accept any degree of historical value for first century events.

Is it not more justifiable to begin with a search for independent indicators to help guide us toward an understanding the purposes and sources of Acts?
andrewcriddle
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by andrewcriddle »

spin wrote: Sat Feb 03, 2024 8:20 am ..........................
andrewcriddle wrote:c/ Acts may date from the very beginning of the second century, but this would not prima-facie make it of no historical value for mid first century events. IMO Acts is too familiar with the social world of the first century to be later than the death of Trajan.
While I'm looking for a radical analysis of Paul in his context free of post-Pauline anachronism, how can you show any relevance of Acts to the times it purports to deal with?
I think Acts helps us to understand how Jews Greeks and Romans interacted in the mid 1st century. The 2nd century was different.

Andrew Criddle
Secret Alias
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by Secret Alias »

Perhaps andrew can help us understand how Acts assures him that it is an actual witness to the interaction of Jews, Greeks and Romans from the first century rather than idealized "recollection" from the second century.
andrewcriddle
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by andrewcriddle »

Secret Alias wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:28 am Perhaps andrew can help us understand how Acts assures him that it is an actual witness to the interaction of Jews, Greeks and Romans from the first century rather than idealized "recollection" from the second century.
It is the right sort of interaction for the period. E.G Roman citizenship is rather rare in the Eastern mediterranean and it is binary one has it in an all or nothing way. This is true for the 1st century but not the 2nd.

Andrew Criddle

EDITED TO ADD

It may be a (very early) 2nd century text but it is based on 1st century material.
Secret Alias
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Forgery of Acts

Post by Secret Alias »

What's "right" about the interaction depicted in Acts? As Andrew knows we play almost weekly gymnastics with another text which resembles a second century letter where he takes the opposite point of view i.e. every Clementinism is "too Clementine" every Markan element is a pastiche. Why couldn't the author of Acts have imitated the characteristics of what he sees as "signs of first century text" in the middle to late second century? Why the prohibition against forgery here with Acts?

For instance, the author knows of Paul and Peter's interaction from Galatians but it's falsified. Surely Andrew doesn't believe that Paul and Peter "agreeing to disagree" with one another is authentic first century history.
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by Secret Alias »

And what about Irenaeus's use of Acts? In Book Three at the end of chapter 15
And again he says, "For an hour we did give place to subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." If, then, any one shall, from the Acts of the Apostles, carefully scrutinize the time concerning which it is written that he went up to Jerusalem on account of the forementioned question, he will find those years mentioned by Paul coinciding with it. Thus the statement of Paul harmonizes with, and is, as it were, identical with, the testimony of Luke regarding the apostles.
I know the way people like you look at this statement. Irenaeus was using a variant of Galatians that had this submissive reference, blah, blah, blah. We no longer take Irenaeus's text of Galatians to be the correct one. But without it, surely our text of Galatians DISAGREES with Acts. How then is Acts with its blatant subordination of Paul to the apostles a "first century witness." Whether or not there was a "good text" of Galatians floating around somewhere Acts depends on Irenaeus's falsified text of Galatians. This is where it got the information that Paul subordinated himself to the other apostles. Without this falsification Acts would have had no historical information about Paul's subordination to the apostles. Even Irenaeus can only cite the second century falsified edition of Galatians in support of the ideas of Acts.

And I would argue furthermore than Clement of Alexandria's Paul, the hierophant of a mystery religion, is what Acts was developed to counter. So in what immediately follows in Irenaeus:
But that this Luke was inseparable from Paul, and his fellow-labourer in the Gospel, he himself clearly evinces, not as a matter of boasting, but as bound to do so by the truth itself. For he says that when Barnabas, and John who was called Mark, had parted company from Paul, and sailed to Cyprus, "we came to Troas;"(10) and when Paul had beheld in a dream a man of Macedonia, saying, "Come into Macedonia, Paul, and help us," "immediately," he says, "we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, understanding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel unto them. Therefore, sailing from Troas, we directed our ship's course towards Samothracia." And then he carefully indicates all the rest of their journey as far as Philippi, and how they delivered their first address: "for, sitting down," he says, "we spake unto the women who had assembled;"(11) and certain believed, even a great many. And again does he say, "But we sailed from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to Troas, where we abode seven days."(12) And all the remaining [details] of his course with Paul he recounts, indicating with all diligence both places, and cities, and number of days, until they went up to Jerusalem; and what befell Paul there,(13) how he was sent to Rome in bonds; the name of the centurion who took him in charge;(14) and the signs of the ships, and how they made shipwreck;(15) and the island upon which they escaped, and how they received kindness there, Paul healing the chief man of that island; and how they sailed from thence to Puteoli, and from that arrived at Rome; and for what period they sojourned at Rome. As Luke was present at all these occurrences, he carefully noted them down in writing, so that he cannot be convicted of falsehood or boastfulness, because all these [particulars] proved both that he was senior to all those who now teach otherwise, and that he was not ignorant of the truth. That he was not merely a follower, but also a fellow-labourer of the apostles, but especially of Paul, Paul has himself declared also in the Epistles, saying: "Demas hath forsaken me, ... and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me."(1) From this he shows that he was always attached to and inseparable from him. And again he says, in the Epistle to the Colossians: "Luke, the beloved physician, greets you."(2) But surely if Luke, who always preached in company with Paul, and is called by him "the beloved," and with him performed the work of an evangelist, and was entrusted to hand down to us a Gospel, learned nothing different from him (Paul), as has been pointed out from his words, how can these men, who were never attached to Paul, boast that they have learned hidden and unspeakable mysteries?
I read these last words of course that "these men" i.e. Clement had a gospel which taught them that the apostle transmitted a mystery religion to them. Acts is perfectly suited for countering this understanding.

It is specifically against a "mystery gospel" that Luke was developed against too. As we read in the very next lines:
But that Paul taught with simplicity what he knew, not only to those who were [employed] with him, but to those that heard him, he does himself make manifest. For when the bishops and presbyters who came from Ephesus and the other cities adjoining had assembled in Miletus, since he was himself hastening to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, after testifying many things to them, and declaring what must happen to him at Jerusalem, he added: "I know that ye shall see my face no more. Therefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed, therefore, both to yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has placed you as bishops, to rule the Church of the Lord,(3) which He has acquired for Himself through His own blood."(4) Then, referring to the evil teachers who should arise, he said: "I know that after my departure shall grievous wolves come to you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." "I have not shunned," he says, "to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Thus did the apostles simply, and without respect of persons, deliver to all what they had themselves learned from the Lord. Thus also does Luke, without respect of persons, deliver to us what he had learned from them, as he has himself testified, saying, "Even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word."
It's deceptive not to see the concept of "mystery gospel" present in this long discussion of Luke. Luke proves that "short Mark" does not lead to a "mystery gospel." When Mark is expanded, it expands to Luke. Clearly it is Mark and Papias's criticism of Mark that Luke has in mind when he wrote the words cited in Irenaeus:
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first to write thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed.
How then is Luke a first century text? Did Papias "really" live in the first century? Of course not. He lived in the early second century. As such, whoever wrote these words necessarily read Papias's criticism of Mark and - I would argue, knew the existence of a longer mystery gospel of Mark (but that is of no matter) - said that he was expanding the testimony of Mark in a good way. Instead of expanding it into a "mystery gospel" and all the things Irenaeus criticizes in Book Three in the section we've just cited, Luke "proves" IN THE SECOND CENTURY that, after reading Mark's gospel production that what follows is a "good expansion" of the original material of Mark. I see no other way than read Irenaeus and Luke walking in lockstep regarding (a) familiarity with Papias's criticism of Mark and (b) the idea that the orthodox "canon" solves the problems raised by Papias.

There is no way for Luke to be aware of Papias if he lived in the first century.
Secret Alias
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Re: Forget the Myth of Jesus

Post by Secret Alias »

On the parallels between Luke 1:2 and Papias. Baukham ( https://books.google.com/books?id=tE8xD ... as&f=false MacDonald: https://books.google.com/books?id=SbpVq ... as&f=false

I find it utterly incredible that you don't see the parallels between Papias and Luke and - more importantly - Irenaeus's systematic abuse of Papias in Book Three (especially in chapters 2 and 3) to introduce Luke and the rest of the gospels. All the gospels as we have them were developed as a set after Papias's work was widely read. Mid to late second century for the Lukan corpus.
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Peter Kirby
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Re: Forgery of Acts

Post by Peter Kirby »

continued from:
andrewcriddle wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:53 am
Secret Alias wrote: Tue Feb 06, 2024 11:28 am Perhaps andrew can help us understand how Acts assures him that it is an actual witness to the interaction of Jews, Greeks and Romans from the first century rather than idealized "recollection" from the second century.
It is the right sort of interaction for the period. E.G Roman citizenship is rather rare in the Eastern mediterranean and it is binary one has it in an all or nothing way. This is true for the 1st century but not the 2nd.

Andrew Criddle

EDITED TO ADD

It may be a (very early) 2nd century text but it is based on 1st century material.
davidmartin
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Re: Forgery of Acts

Post by davidmartin »

SA,
a lot of people think it's early-mid 2nd century and not literally historical
so it's not forged in one sense, it's a genuine 2nd century work of idealised history that doesn't tell us much about the first century but a whole lot about the time it was written for
i think that's how critical scholars tend to view it who don't think it's a real early text
and they think real history can be found in it, if 'Peter' represents X and 'Paul' Y you can see the dynamics of the early church factions duking it out

so it's also valuable which 'forged' does seem to be too blunt a tool
i mean, i never doubted there's some big differences between the actual first century beliefs and what ended up going into the canon and that assumes various degrees of horseplay or confusion happened. yeah sure, but if we only focus on that it just ends up being an exploration of human nature and psychology. the focus is better on that actual original thing in question, what was the real primitive beliefs of the Nazarene movement or even if there was one? that's what got me interested anyway!

I'll admit it's annoying when people just dump it in the first century then it loses its value to tell us about the 2nd and we can learn nothing from it. so yes mis-dating it I find annoying but i can't expect others to find that annoying really. there does seem to be resistance to dating it later but there's still a thousand theories that could be made in almost any direction. its not as if 'if it's late only one theory can be true'. nah, no way so i'm not really sure what you're saying after typing all this lol
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Peter Kirby
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Re: Forgery of Acts

Post by Peter Kirby »

To be fair, I created the title.

I suggest reading SA's posts to get a better sense of what he's saying. If it's not there, I guess ask questions.

The fourth post in this thread is the starting point, which links to the earlier conversation.
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