What Happened?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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MrMacSon
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Re: What Happened?

Post by MrMacSon »

GakuseiDon wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:02 pm
MrMacSon wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:45 pmThe cult of the Roman emperor began with Augustus (r. 27 b.c.e to 14 a.d./c.e.) in spectacular and dramatic fashion. Early in his reign, Halley's Comet passed over Rome and Augustus claimed it was the spirit of Julius Caesar entering heaven.
Nitpick only: It couldn't have been Halley's Comet, which flew by in 12 BCE. Caesar's comet was seen around 44 BCE. Halley's Comet may have been the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem.
Cheers G'Don. I was going to google 'Caesar, Comet' but forgot to. That Wikipedia page also has

.
The [July 44 BC]] Comet became a powerful symbol in the political propaganda that launched the career of Caesar's great-nephew (and adoptive son) Augustus. The Temple of Divus Iulius (Temple of the Deified Julius) was built (42 BC) and dedicated (29 BC) by Augustus for purposes of fostering a "cult of the comet". (It was also known as the "Temple of the Comet Star" [Pliny the Elder Naturalis Historia 2.93-4]. At the back of the temple a huge image of Caesar was erected and, according to Ovid, a flaming comet was affixed to its forehead:

..........To make that soul a star that burns forever
..........Above the Forum and the gates of Rome.

..........[Ovid, Metamorphoses; XV, 840]
.

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MrMacSon
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Re: What Happened?

Post by MrMacSon »

GakuseiDon wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:27 pm My own crazy amateur theory of what happened:

1. There were a group of messianic Jews who thought that the Messiah was coming soon. This group prophesied, spoke in tongues and performed healing miracles, as part of travelling miracle shows.
2. Jesus was a member of that group.
3. After Jesus was crucified perhaps for criticising the Temple system, people had visions of Jesus, showing he had made it to heaven
4. Jesus become identified as the awaited-for Messiah
5. Freelance religious entrepreneurs (love that term!) like Paul, either cynically or genuinely, claimed visions of Jesus and started their own travelling miracle shows.
6. The heavenly Jesus somehow captures the zeitgeist of the times and is used as a new figure to invoke magic among the Gentiles (much like the Second Century CE Alexander the False Prophet).
7. The Gospel of Mark was written as a mystery religion novel so that people could experience Jesus's crucifixion for themselves.
8. People modified Christianity so that it conformed to the accepted philosophical ideals of the time. This was part of a trend affecting all religions in the Roman Empire from the First Century BCE (similar to how the rise of science starting from the 19th C has been modifying all modern religions).
It think that's a reasonable schema though have previously wondered if Mark was elaborating on and somewhat Judaizing the Pauline epistles which were themselves an attempt to set up a mystery religion (and Matthew then Judaized Mark more) [Martijn Linssen's arguments that Mark, Matthew and Luke used G.Thomas are interesting too]
davidmartin
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Re: What Happened?

Post by davidmartin »

I think it's also essential to include gentiles attracted to Judaism in the mix
Judaism was a proselytizing faith (aren't they all?!) but with rather rigid requirements
Christianity of the orthodox kind must have appealed as a way to partake of Judaism's fruits, and Paul appeared aware of this, it was one small step to Christianity claiming to become the true inheritors of Judaism - and that step was taken!
In the chaos around the events of 70AD I can see how this process might have been magnified
So... previously those gentiles attracted to Judaism were subservient to Jewish religious officials... Christianity would permit those folk to become the religious officials themselves!

However a second aspect plays off the above... such a trend in Christian orthodoxy could become disconnected from the original Jewish roots of the movement. My money is on that happening. For me those roots are like GakuseiDon says, a mystical 'evangelical' reformist revival movement without the same concerns that later Christian orthodoxy had (fulfillment of prophecy, pharisaic scriptural understandings, end times speculation, building of formal religious structures, seeking acceptance from authorities/philosophical schools, etc)
Just like the early orthodox leaders ignored Jewish religious authorities as regards the way to follow God, so they ignored the previous authorities of Christianity except Paul (and even that took a while)... the basic elements of the original thing are still visible and partially present in a variety of canonical and non-canonical texts. The problem was the disconnection between original movement and later forms presents a gap to be bridged, that's how i see it anyway
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MrMacSon
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Re: What Happened?

Post by MrMacSon »

davidmartin wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:51 am For me those roots are like GakuseiDon says, a mystical 'evangelical' reformist revival movement without the same concerns that later Christian orthodoxy had
I agree.

And I agree with this -
... the basic elements of the original thing are still visible and partially present in a variety of canonical and non-canonical texts.
- though I think there are enough mystical-, mystery-, or so-called gnostic- elements to suggest the foundations may have been those theologies. And Judaism might have been secondary initially, and then further added step wise.

Or, mystical-, mystery-, or so-called gnostic- elements were a significant secondary step.

Hence, to modify your statement, -
"Judaism was a proselytizing faith but with rather rigid requirements"
davidmartin
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Re: What Happened?

Post by davidmartin »

- though I think there are enough mystical-, mystery-, or so-called gnostic- elements to suggest the foundations may have been those theologies. And Judaism might have been secondary initially, and then further added step wise.

Or, mystical-, mystery-, or so-called gnostic- elements were a significant secondary step.
Sure, what's interesting about that it fits that tension between inner mystical traditions and more exoteric religious traditions
Judaism has Kabbalah and Islam Sufism, it could have been Jewish and still have those additional steps added
There must have been loads of smaller mystery, mystical groups as well of all kinds, who didn't think prophecy ended with Malachi!
The authors of Acts seemed keen not to paint Jesus and his band as any kind of heterodox sect, but that's what the gospels seem to describe quite nicely. But Acts shows Jewish authorities in the worst possible light and makes early Christians super righteous saints to make it's point i guess

It's interesting to wonder if the gnostic elements were heavily reworked from those kind of roots almost to become unrecognisable
I just keep imaging Greek proto-gnostics going nuts with a new source of speculation to play with. That would mean a general drifting away from the original version in all directions! What's the original version? The Acts of Mary hasn't been found yet :)
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mlinssen
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Re: What Happened?

Post by mlinssen »

MrMacSon wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:42 am
It think that's a reasonable schema though have previously wondered if Mark was elaborating on and somewhat Judaizing the Pauline epistles which were themselves an attempt to set up a mystery religion (and Matthew then Judaized Mark more) [Martijn Linssen's arguments that Mark, Matthew and Luke used G.Thomas are interesting too]
Yes, that bit is new to me but either Paul was the sales guy who came after the product of Mark, or he really was pre-sales and there wasn't a product at all, and Mark supplied one.
Rather hastily of course as he had nothing to go on, so LukeMatthew (I'm still really fond of my theory that Matthew needed to set things straight after Mark raised so many questions, thus wrote his own gospel from Didache and other sources and, of course, introduced his own gnashing of teeth and like-minded apocalyptic warnings in order to get a meek flock, and slapped on Marcion as Luke to please the Thomas supporters) provided a beginning as well as an end to that.
And then that new end got added to Mark, 16-9 ff. The beginning couldn't be touched of course, that was legendary already
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mlinssen
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Re: What Happened?

Post by mlinssen »

What if we think backwards?

The Temple destroyed - again. And Jerusalem - again. And having to run - again. The Judeans lost everything - again

Fast forward half a century, end of Bar Kochba. Total annihilation

Desperation begets opportunism. Religion is a basic need for most. Christianity, in any form, was the closest and most viable alternative for many Jews

So I see leniency in 70 towards Jews who want to join Christianity, and defensive measures, resistance even, to the masses of Jews that must have wanted to take over Christianity - as an alternative for their erased pride
davidmartin
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Re: What Happened?

Post by davidmartin »

mlinssen you got to be right, some Jews and especially gentile converts and their families might want to pile in
it's interesting how the earliest sources for exegesis on the OT display a lack of knowledge/familiarity with even the basics and of Hebrew language
I mean wasn't it Bel and the dragon that tried to claim Jesus was mentioned in Genesis by name and even Justin Martyr had to admit was wrong and some wild attempts to find Jesus in the OT generally?
what i'm getting at is, it doesn't seem like learned Jews were joining it and it took a while till they were able to produce more informed writings like Acts and Hebrews is my guess
i'm doubtful there was any learned Jews there at the start of it at least in the Paul/proto-orthodox branch. if there was a 'Judaiser' branch that might be different (eg why Revelation seems quite knowledgeable and this branch might have informed works like Hebrews/Acts but only here and there)
All guesses here
So if this is so, then how could original Christianity have been Jewish when there's this lack of knowledge of Jewish scripture on display in 2nd century and arguably in the gospels and even Paul (Ben pointed out some wild stuff in his writings too)?
That could be explained if the original form was more of a mystical, spiritual movement within Judaism and wasn't really about all this detailed, learned exegesis of scripture you see attempted eg by church fathers, it just used a few psalms and scripture in a familiar, everyday fashion
A more earthy type of Jewish Christianity is pointed to here potentially quite different to what came later
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: What Happened?

Post by Ben C. Smith »

davidmartin wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:48 amI mean wasn't it Bel and the dragon that tried to claim Jesus was mentioned in Genesis by name and even Justin Martyr had to admit was wrong and some wild attempts to find Jesus in the OT generally?
What is this in reference to? Pretty sure you have another work in mind, not Bel and the Dragon.
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Re: What Happened?

Post by davidmartin »

you're right Ben. It wasn't that one, forgotten it's name. Some early fathers had a low opinion of it i'm sure it had quite an unusual name
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