Monthly Archives: July 2009

Paul, the Apostle of the Heretics

So I just read the “Marcion” version of Paul’s letter to the Galatians (here). What’s interesting is that it makes sense… but then again, it’s not all that different from the Catholic version of Galatians. It only has differences of a couple of words. I’m thinking, just like the proto-Catholic church thought, that Marcion edited a version of Paul’s letter to the Galatians to fit his theology. But unlike the proto-Catholics, I think that the Catholics edited the Marcionite version of Galatians, not that they simply presented the “originals”.

Basically, I think there was an “original” set of Pauline letters (possibly the seven that most scholars conclude are by Paul) and that Marcion edited those. Then, after seeing Marcion’s canon, the proto-Orthodox edited Marcion’s versions to make Paul a good Catholic – so that any original Pauline letters (neutral to both Marcionite Christianity and Catholic Christianity) are lost to history.

A “Jesus Mythicist” Earl Doherty argues that Jesus was never a historical person and has some problems with certain phrases in the Pauline corpus (like “born of a woman”). What if the neutral version of Paul’s letters didn’t have those difficult phrases, and that the Catholics put those phrases in their version of Paul’s letters to combat Marcion? Who would write that someone was “born of a woman” in a letter? That’s like saying water is wet! And then the first witness to the “Pastoral Epistles” (1, 2 Timothy and Titus) is Irenaeus in the late 2nd century! Even worse, the first witness to a collection of Pauline letters in the first place is Marcion himself! Maybe Marc wrote the three Pauline letters that scholars are uncertain about Pauline authorship (2 Thessalonians, Colosians, Ephesians), edited the seven originals, and then the Catholics (probably Irenaeus) edited the 10 in Marc’s canon and wrote the extra three Pauline Pastoral epistles.

I think this is a good hypothesis, and might even have been the way things happened. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to test it.

Politics. Faith. People valuing subjectivity (they feel it’s right) over objectivity (how one feels has no bearing on “truth”). It’s not like there was a scientific method back then. It was just polemics and politics. Whoever got the most converts simply presented the best sounding tale.

“Paul” did not appeal to the Jewish scriptures for authority. he claimed authority by the direct revelation of Jesus Christ. The appeals to scripture are proto-orthodox interpolations.

From the beginning, the Septuagint was the early proto-orthodox Christians’ favored recension of the Jewish Scriptures, and many alleged prophecies of Jesus were found by non-literal readings of the Septuagint. This process continued at least until the middle of 2c; Justin was first to discover that Jesus had been nailed through the feet as well as the hands. And this revelation came not from any eyewitness testimony or oral tradition, but from pondering the 22nd Psalm. Going beyond allegorical interpretations, we find record of Jews accusing Christians of outright forging the Septuagint to support Christian doctrine (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho).

Marcion insisted upon a literal reading of the Old Testament. For this reason alone, many imaginitive prophecies and references to Jesus Christ were eliminated. This common sense approach aligned Marcion with the Jews on this subject, as was noted by Tertullian, who railed against both. Marcion was likely not as antisemtic as he is often portrayed; he just didn’t think the Jewish scriptures applied to Christians. The Jewish scriptures were perfectly valid for the Jews, and he agreed the Jewish Messiah would yet come; it just wasn’t Jesus Christ.

Marcion established the earliest known canon of Christian scripture. It consisted of one gospel (The Evangelion), and ten Pauline Epistles (the Apostilicon). The Apsotilicon did not included the
Pastoral Epistles, which did not yet exist. The other epistles existed in a shorter and simplier recension. These circulated with Marcion’s own composition (the Antithesis) in which he attempted to prove that the God of Jesus, the Father, was not the same as the God of the Jews. This was done by juxtaposing OT passages along with NT from his canon, showing the harshness and cruelty of the OT god vs the loving kindness of the NT God. Marcion did not consider the god of the Jews (the Demiurge) as absolutely evil, just ignorant with an inflated sense of his own justice. According
to Marcion, this obsession with justice resulted in the atrocities found in the Old Testament.

The authority of Old Testament concerning Christians was rejected in its entirity. For this reason, Marcion with perhaps the aid of Valentinus, wrote his own Psalms to be used in litugury rather than the Davidic psalms of the OT.

For the most part, Marcionite services were so similar to those of the proto-orthodox, that proto-orthodox Chrsitians were warned to be careful not to attend a Marcionite service by mistake. (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechisms 18.26)

Marcion’s church was very large. It rivaled in size the proto-orthodox sects of the time. Already, about 150 CE, Justin Martyr acknowledged that Marcion’s influence extended all over the Empire. (Apol. 1.26 cf. Tertullian Adv. Marc. 5:19). Marcionism challenged the Roman church for the rights to be called the Universal (i.e. Catholic) church.

Marcion and the Gnostics appealed to Paul. In fact Basilides the heretic (about 138 CE) was the first to elevate any Christian text (in this case Pauline Epistles 1 Corinthians and Ephesians) to the level of Scripture (Hippolytus, Refutatio, 7,13-14). The proto-orthodox were forced to lay claim to Paul also, to prevent the charge of not perceiving and preserving the Gospel in all its newness. But this was a grudging process. Irenaeus quotes from the Pauline epistles 206 times, and never introduces it with “scripta ait” or any similar formula. (Werner, _Der Paulinismus das Irenaeus_ (1889), pp. 21-46. Footnote 3, page 31, of _Marcion and his Influences_, E.C. Blackman, 1948)

Lying behind the twisted image of Paul (meaning “the small”) is the shadow of Simon Magus, “the Great.” Thus even Paul’s name is an ironic twist on Simon’s description. Irenaeus linked Marcion with Simon through his teacher Cerdo. (Adv. Haer. 1.27). Even the titles of Simon Magus’ alleged works (non-extant) bear the mystery of heresy; “The Four Quarters of the World” and “The Sermons of the Refuter.”

The proto-orthodox New Testament arose as a mere new edition of the Marcionite canon, revised and largely rewritten. There is no adequate evidence for the the existence of the fourfold Gospel before Irenaeus, 185 CE. Adv. Haer. 3.11.8. Ireneaus admits that the four gospels have authority because various heretics used them first. (Justin Martyr in the middle of 2c. never
called any gospel by the name it is now known by. They are always the catch-all “Memoirs” of the Apostles.

Justin seldom quotes exactly the words from our present gospels, but seemingly some sort of harmonization mixed with heretical (like the Acts of Pilate!!!!) and unknown gospel material.

To be clear, the Pauline Epistles we find in our Bibles today are not the same ones found in Marcion’s version. The Heresiologists accused him of cutting down the epistles, but it is more likely that the proto-orthodox interpolated them heavily to the “tame the Apostle of the Heretics.” That is why when we read the alleged writings of Paul today, the logic seems so convoluted and strange. The text is the result of multiple redactions with clashing theological agendas.
This makes Paul seem to talk out of both sides of his mouth. As van Manen noted, the Marcionite recension is smooth and elegant and proceeds logically. This could hardly be the result of mutilating a previous text; the Marcionite version is more original.

Jake Jones IV

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Posted by on July 29, 2009 in canon, early Christianity, irenaeus, marcion, paul


The "Accident of Birth"

Where people were born at determines their religion. I’ve read a lot of conversion to Christianity stories (I was born a default Christian), and they all seem to have this element. Bible Scholar Bart Ehrman, former preacher John Loftus, Kenneth Daniels, users on FRDB such as OneInFundiville, christ on a stick, and many others all had some point in their life when they felt like something was “missing”. Some sort of hole in their soul.

Then, they turned to Christianity.

Mostly because they wanted what they saw other “real” Christians had. The friendship, community, fellowship… whatever it is. Just like they shared that common feeling of longing and turned to Christianity, the reasons that they deconverted from Christianity was the desire for “truth”.

I noticed that pattern though: conversion to Christianity was due to sociological, community centered needs. For brotherhood, fellowship, etc. To fill a hole that they felt that they had. All of that is subjective. All of that is emotion driven. Placing subjectivity above all else.

The reason they turned away from Christianity was because of a switch – they started valuing objectivity instead of subjectivity. They wanted to know if Christianity was true objectively; as in “true regardless of how I personally feel about it – without any biases“.

Which is pretty much the point of John Loftus’ “Accident of Birth”. The reason for every single conversion to Christianity story I’ve read is that they simply latched on to their surrounding culture’s popular “hole-filling” meme. If any of the above people had been born in Saudi Arabia, then they wouldn’t have turned to Christianity, they’d have had Muslim parents and Muslim friends and turned to Islam. If they had been born in Utah with Mormon friends and Mormon parents, they’d be Mormons. Born in South America they’d be ardent Catholics. Born in Israel, they’d have turned to Judaism. India? Hinduism. Japan? Buddhism. Africa? Ad nauseum.

Ever since the time of Revelation, every despot or slave that has attained to power, be he violent or ignoble, has made it his first aim and his final purpose to destroy our law, and to vitiate our religion, by means of the sword, by violence, or by brute force, such as Amalek, Sisera, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus [Jewish-Roman war of 70 CE], Hadrian [Bar-Kochba Revolt of 133 CE], may their bones be ground to dust, and others like them.


The second class consists of the most intelligent and educated among the nations, such as the Syrians, Persians, and Greeks. These also endeavor to demolish our law and to vitiate it by means of arguments which they invent, and by means of controversies which they institute. After that there arose a new sect which combined the two methods, namely, conquest and controversy, into one, because it believed that this procedure would be more effective in wiping out every trace of the Jewish nation and religion. The first one to have adopted this plan was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust.

[…] He impelled people to believe that he was a prophet sent by God to clarify perplexities in the Torah, and that he was the Messiah that was predicted by each and every seer. He interpreted the Torah and its precepts in such a fashion as to lead to their total annulment, to the abolition of all its commandments and to the violation of its prohibitions. The sages, of blessed memory, having become aware of his plans before his reputation spread among our people, meted out fitting punishment to him.

Daniel had already alluded to him when he presaged the downfall of a wicked one and a heretic among the Jews who would endeavor to destroy the Law, claim prophecy for himself, make pretenses to miracles, and allege that he is the Messiah, as it is written, “Also the children of the impudent among thy people shall make bold to claim prophecy, but they shall fall.” (Daniel 11:14).

The first to take up this course was Jesus the Nazarene, may his bones be ground to dust. He was of Israel. Later, arose a madman who followed his example since he had paved the way for him. However, he added a further object, namely to seek dominion and complete submission to himself; and what he has established is well known.

– Moses Maimonides, Letter to Yemen c. 1100 CE

Moses Maimonides expresses his disdain over Jesus and Mohammad (called “the madman”). Though, this is only Maimonides’ view of Jesus and Mohammad, and not the view of all Jews.

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary. Say: “Who then hath the least power against God, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every – one that is on the earth? For to God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For God hath power over all things.”[Qur’an 5:17]

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger — they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them [Quran 4:155 – 159]

116. And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.[Surah 5:116]

Quran 2:113 “The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing(i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture. Like unto their word, said (the pagans) who know not. Allah will judge between them on the Day of the Resurrection about that wherein they have been differing.”

Here Mohammad, writing the dictates of Allah himself, expresses his views, or Allah’s views, of Jesus. According to the divinely inspired book that most of the Middle East follows – and that 1 billion Muslims follow – calling Jesus Allah himself is blasphemy. Jesus himself says in the Quran that he is not Allah.

Consequently, Muslims are somewhat “docetic” (from the Greek δοκεω::dokeo – to seem) since they say that Jesus only “appeared” to be crucified and thus never actually died, and was taken directly up to heaven. [Quran 4:155 – 159 posted above]

As for Mormonism, Joseph Smith, Jr., founded the Latter Day Saint movement. He told his associates and family that he had located a buried book of golden plates written by ancient American prophets (“reformed Egyptian”). Smith said the Angel Moroni, who was the guardian of these plates, had directed him to these writings and that his mission was to publish a translation of this book which he expected would revolutionize Christian thought. This work, published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon, served as a foundation for Smith’s small Church of Christ.

This is basic, sacred, unquestionable truth for millions of Mormons.

A vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing his record of this vision the Prophet wrote: “Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, while translating St. John’s Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision.” It was after the Prophet had translated John 5:29 that this vision was given
– Doctrine and Covenants, 76

Joseph Smith then reveals that there’s more than one heaven that people get sent to according to their deeds on Earth. The Celestial Heaven, the Terrestial Heaven, and the Telestial Heaven – in descending order of awesomeness.

The Celestial Kingdom will be the residence of those who have been righteous, accepted the teachings of Jesus Christ, and made and lived up to all of the required ordinances and covenants during their mortal lives. It will also be the residence of those individuals that accepted and received the ordinances and covenants in the post-mortal spirit world (Doctrine and Covenants 137:5-9). All children who die before the age of eight automatically inherit the celestial kingdom.(Doctrine and Covenants 137:10). The celestial kingdom will also be the permanent residence of God the Father and Jesus Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 76:62).

The Terrestial Kingdom is the second heaven. According to Doctrine and Covenants section 76, those who will inhabit the terrestrial kingdom include those who lived respectably but “were blinded by the craftiness of men” and thus rejected the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ when it was presented to them during their mortal lives (Doctrine and Covenants 76:75). It also includes persons who rejected the “testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it” in the spirit world(Doctrine and Covenants 76:74) and those who “are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” after having received it (Doctrine and Covenants 76:79).

The Telestial Kingdom is the third heaven. According to Doctrine and Covenants section 76, those who will inhabit the telestial kingdom include those “who received not the gospel of Christ, nor the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:82). It also includes “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie”(Doctrine and Covenants 76:103). Because of their refusal to accept Jesus as their Savior, these individuals will suffer in hell for their sins for 1000 years during the millennial reign of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 76:84, 105-106). After the 1000 years, the individuals in hell will be resurrected and receive an immortal physical body and be assigned to the telestial kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 88:100-101).

In Doctrine and Covenants 1:30, the LDS Church is the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole Earth”.

So which religion is “right”? Depends on where and when you were born…

A Letter to a Friend Regarding The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. Paris, May 12, 1797

In your letter of the twentieth of March, you give me several quotations from the Bible, which you call the Word of God, to show me that my opinions on religion are wrong, and I could give you as many, from the same book to show that yours are not right; consequently, then, the Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it.

But by what authority do you call the Bible the Word of God? for this is the first point to be settled. It is not your calling it so that makes it so, any more than the Mahometans calling the Koran the Word of God makes the Koran to be so. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time the person called Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the Word of God. This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote a law.

The Pharisees of the second temple, after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, did the same by the books that now compose the Old Testament, and this is all the authority there is, which to me is no authority at all. I am as capable of judging for myself as they were, and I think more so, because, as they made a living by their religion, they had a self-interest in the vote they gave.

You may have an opinion that a man is inspired, but you cannot prove it, nor can you have any proof of it yourself, because you cannot see into his mind in order to know how he comes by his thoughts; and the same is the case with the word revelation. There can be no evidence of such a thing, for you can no more prove revelation than you can prove what another man dreams of, neither can he prove it himself.

It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No.

Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don’t is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?

For my own part, I believe that all are impostors who pretend to hold verbal communication with the Deity. It is the way by which the world has been imposed upon; but if you think otherwise you have the same right to your opinion that I have to mine, and must answer for it in the same manner. But all this does not settle the point, whether the Bible be the Word of God, or not. It is therefore necessary to go a step further. The case then is: –

You form your opinion of God from the account given of Him in the Bible; and I form my opinion of the Bible from the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in the structure of the universe, and in all works of creation. The result in these two cases will be, that you, by taking the Bible for your standard, will have a bad opinion of God; and I, by taking God for my standard, shall have a bad opinion of the Bible.

The Bible represents God to be a changeable, passionate, vindictive being; making a world and then drowning it, afterwards repenting of what he had done, and promising not to do so again. Setting one nation to cut the throats of another, and stopping the course of the sun till the butchery should be done. But the works of God in the creation preach to us another doctrine. In that vast volume we see nothing to give us the idea of a changeable, passionate, vindictive God; everything we there behold impresses us with a contrary idea – that of unchangeableness and of eternal order, harmony, and goodness.

The sun and the seasons return at their appointed time, and everything in the creation claims that God is unchangeable. Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the Word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty Power could make? For the Bible says one thing, and the creation says the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.

It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man. That bloodthirsty man, called the prophet Samuel, makes God to say, (I Sam. xv. 3) `Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’

That Samuel or some other impostor might say this, is what, at this distance of time, can neither be proved nor disproved, but in my opinion it is blasphemy to say, or to believe, that God said it. All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolt at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.

What makes this pretended order to destroy the Amalekites appear the worse, is the reason given for it. The Amalekites, four hundred years before, according to the account in Exodus xvii. (but which has the appearance of fable from the magical account it gives of Moses holding up his hands), had opposed the Israelites coming into their country, and this the Amalekites had a right to do, because the Israelites were the invaders, as the Spaniards were the invaders of Mexico. This opposition by the Amalekites, at that time, is given as a reason, that the men, women, infants and sucklings, sheep and oxen, camels and asses, that were born four hundred years afterward, should be put to death; and to complete the horror, Samuel hewed Agag, the chief of the Amalekites, in pieces, as you would hew a stick of wood. I will bestow a few observations on this case.

In the first place, nobody knows who the author, or writer, of the book of Samuel was, and, therefore, the fact itself has no other proof than anonymous or hearsay evidence, which is no evidence at all. In the second place, this anonymous book says, that this slaughter was done by the express command of God: but all our ideas of the justice and goodness of God give the lie to the book, and as I never will believe any book that ascribes cruelty and injustice to God, I therefore reject the Bible as unworthy of credit.

As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case.

You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New.

When you have examined the Bible with the attention that I have done (for I do not think you know much about it), and permit yourself to have just ideas of God, you will most probably believe as I do. But I wish you to know that this answer to your letter is not written for the purpose of changing your opinion. It is written to satisfy you, and some other friends whom I esteem, that my disbelief of the Bible is founded on a pure and religious belief in God; for in my opinion the Bible is a gross libel against the justice and goodness of God, in almost every part of it.

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Posted by on July 27, 2009 in islam, jesus, mormonism, moses maimonides, muhammad, thomas paine


The Earliest Christian Inscription

The earliest known church inscription (found near Damascus) is Marcionite, and dates to 318 CE.

Συναγωγη Μαρκιωνιστων κωμ(ης)
Λεβαβων του κ(υριο)υ και σω(τη)ρ(ος) Ιη(σου) Χρηστου
προνοια(ι) Παυλου πρεσβ(υτερου) — του λχ’ ετους.

[“The meeting-house of the Marcionists, in the village of
Lebaba, of the Lord and Savior Jesus The Good.
Erected by the forethought of Paul the elder — In the year 630.”]


χριστου (Christoy – pronounced close to “crystal”) means “the anointed”. χρηστου (Chrestoy – pronounced “chreestou”) means “the good” or “the useful”.

The name Christian, however, so far as its meaning goes, bears the sense of anointing. Even when by a faulty pronunciation you call us Chrestians (for you are not certain about even the sound of this noted name), you in fact lisp out the sense of pleasantness and goodness.

– Tertullian in Ad Nationes 1 c. 200 CE

Though “Chrestians” might be a designator for “the useful ones”, which was a common name for slaves. And then there’s this:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Chrestians by the populace. Chrestus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

– Tacitus, Annals 15.44 c.117 CE

Interesting confusion over “Christian” (χριστιανοι – the anointed ones) and “Chrestian” (χρηστιανοι – the good ones). What a difference one iota makes!

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Posted by on July 17, 2009 in chrestian, christian, early Christianity, marcion, marcionism, paul, tacitus


The History of Early Christianity, part 2

And here is part two of my lengthy email to her. Part three coming soon.

Well, after the destruction of the 2nd Temple, four new major (for this email) religions sprout out from the rubble of the 2nd Temple: the Ebionites, Rabbinic Judaism, proto-Catholic Christianity, and Christian Gnosticism. The first two groups are thoroughly Jewish, the last two are thoroughly Greek/Roman (Gentile) phenomena. Most importantly, the Ebionites were Jewish-Christians who still maintained Jewish practices/full Torah observance (following all 613 mitzvahs [commandments] – yeah, there are more than just “ten”) and said that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but he was just a regular person. Not God, not the *literal* but *adopted* “son of God” (a common title among revered Jews; see Slight digression, “son of God” was also a title used for Roman Emperors. describes the “good tidings” [ευαγγελια / “gospel”] of the “son of God” [υιος του θεος] and savior [σωτηρας / soteras] Augustus, who was so revered we get the month “August” from him), was born by normal means from Mary and Joseph, who’s crucifixion didn’t serve any theological or atonement purpose, and didn’t pre-exist as Philo’s Logos. This makes sense since the Ebionites’ name derives from the Hebrew word for “poor”, which is “ebion” – this means they could read and write Hebrew. Ebionites literally means Poor Ones, meaning that they placed special value on poverty (Matt. 19:16 – 24).

Also, since they could read Hebrew, this meant that they weren’t restricted to using the LXX, which meant they saw through the “arguments” that formed the basis for Jesus’ divinity and virgin birth. Both arise from using the LXX and not Hebrew version of the OT. Hebrew has those certain language nuances I mentioned earlier that are absent from Greek that Greek *only* speaking Jews or Gentiles would be unaware of – hence the abundance of Greek words in Christian literature such as:

The Greek Iesous (Jesus) instead of the Hebrew Yeshua (Joshua) [All instances of “Joshua” in the LXX are transliterated as “Jesus”; so Moses’ successor “Joshua” in the LXX is “Jesus”; the “Book of Joshua” in the LXX is the “Book of Jesus”]
Christ (Anointed / Messiah)
Catholic (universal)
Presbyter (elder)
Ecclesia (gathering / assembly [church])
Baptize (dunk)
Pet[e]r (Rock, root word for [petr]ified)
Episcopal (literally “epi” “scopos”: “over seer” – bishop)
Apocalypse (to unveil; revelation), apocrypha (hidden)
Apostle (ambassador)
Evangelist / angel (good news proclaimer / messenger)
Gospel (it’s actually ευαγγελια – “evangelia” which is “good news” or “good tidings” [ευαγγελιον – “evangelion” is good message; singular]. Good news was then transliterated into “god spell” from which we get “gospel”. The root for ευαγγελια also forms the root for “eulogy” which is basically “good words” [also the root for euthanasia – ευ θανατος “good death”, eugenics, eucharist, etc – notice that evangelia is a combination of ευ and “αγγελια” – the word for “angel (messenger)”].)
Deacon (diakonos/diakonon – literally “dia – through” and “konos – the dust” which is a “servant”; the dust kicked up by the servant as he/she waits on people; or a “Minister”: vis Mark 1:16 και οι αγγελοι διηκονουν αυτω – “and the [pl.] angels served him” – though some translations might say “and the angels ministered to him”)
Epistle (letter)
Canon (from the Greek κανόν, “kanon”, which means “rules” or “measuring stick”)
And “Bible” (comes from the Greek word “βιβλίο – biblio” which means “book”).

Also, a lot of words associated with the “Old Testament” are Greek in origin as well, like “Genesis”, “Deuteronomy” (δευτερο νομοι – deutero nomy: second laws) , “Exodus”, “Moses”, “Psalms”, etc. Another line of evidence that modern Christianity is descended from the LXX.

The Ebionites held that only members of Jesus’ family were rightful leaders of the new Church (like James the Just – see gThomas 12), and that Paul was a Greek who converted to Judaism, apostatized, and later started having gnostic visions of a “Son of God” redeemer – a fusion of Jewish theology and Greek philosophy. There might be some truth to their claim due to Paul citing the LXX in his arguments instead of the Hebrew Bible, as I mentioned above. A well trained Pharisee wouldn’t cite the LXX and confuse the word “lord” with YHWH if they could read Hebrew.

Any time people fuse Greek philosophy with Jewish theology, a system of thought that resembles Christianity always pops up. Paul, also, is not the first person to preach “non-circumcision” in Judaism. Like I wrote earlier, Hellenistic influence was always creeping in on Judaism, Hanukkah is pretty much a celebration of circumcision Jews over non-circumcision Jews. I think I’m the only one to notice this, but it seems as though Jesus clearning the Temple in the gospels might be a literary device used as allegory by the gospel authors “reversing” the Hannuka celebration. Victory of the non-circumcison Jews (Christians) over the circumcision Jews. However, I don’t have the pedagogy or the time to flesh that out more.

But think about it this way: the 2nd Temple was HUGE. It was like the size of a football stadium. It wasn’t just a religious temple, it was also a military fortress. Did Jesus really cleanse the Temple of “the money changers” in such a huge arena without being tackled and arrested; and then kept out the money changers while preaching freely? During the preparation for the biggest holy day in Judaism where hundreds of thousands of people were probably clamoring about, coming in from all over the Roman empire (the equivalent of policing a stadium during the Super Bowl)? When Judah Maccabee did this, he had an *army*. I don’t know about you, but I’d have a pretty hard time clearing a temple that’s like the size of a football field of probably hundreds of money changers’ booths and successfully keeping them out while preaching… all by myself. Imagine trying to kick out some vendors by yourself during Woodstock without the cops/security (or in 33 CE some Roman or Jewish troops) arresting you. So, yeah, it might just be another allegory and not a historical event (if it was historical, then Jesus would have needed an army or a large group of supporters which might look like an insurrection…).

Another significant event happens in Jewish history in the year 132. The Roman Emperor Hadrian starts erecting a statue to Jupiter on the sacred grounds of the rubble of the Second Temple. An abomination… standing where it doesn’t belong… causing desolation. This incites the Jews to go to war again with Rome and the *actual* Jewish messiah comes – Simon Bar Kochba. He leads this rebellion against Rome and re-acquires Jerusalem, re-establishing the Kingdom of Israel. He reigns as prince in Jerusalem for 3 years. During this time period, the Ebionites are severely persecuted. Both by the Jews for refusing to accept Simon as the real messiah and by the proto-Orthodox Christians for refusing to accept Jesus’ divinity, virgin birth, and atonement. Of course, the Romans pretty much did the equivalent of nuking Jerusalem to reclaim it, killing Simon (who is officially thus far the last actual prince of Israel), and purging Jerusalem of all Jews. In the aftermath of the war, Rome consolidated the older political units of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria into the new province of Syria Palaestina (Palestine). The new name was derived as an insult from the name of the enemies of the Jews, the Philistines who had occupied the coastal plain in ancient times.

Also, the Roman emperor Hadrian attempted to root out Judaism because he saw that as a major factor in the continued rebellions over the past 60 years (there was also the “relatively” minor Kitos War inbetween the First Jewish-Roman war and the Bar-Kochkba Revolt, where a Roman “Legion” with an ensign of “pigs” were stationed in Caesarea – “Gadara”, “Gerasa” or “Gergesa” – “C” and “G” are somewhat interchangable in Greek. What’s the name of that demon that gets exorcised into pigs?? Another allegory). He prohibited the Torah law, the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars.

Some scholars posit that the attempted outlawing of Judaism is what prompted the writing of the gospels; using allegory to separate Christians (like the situation with Barabbas) from Jews and to show that Romans (represented by Pilate, the centurion who claims that “this man really was the Son of God”, etc) were actually supportive of Christ[ians]. It’s also odd how the Pharisees are always depicted as the “bad” guys in the gospels yet Jesus only has one run in with the Sadduccees and it ends with the Sadduccees basically saying “hey you’re right!” and we never hear from them again. In the gospels the Pharisees are depicted as being stubborn and legalistic in regards to the “Law” (Torah), yet it was the Sadduccees who were the strictly legalistic branch of the Jews, since their power base, being the “ruling class” of the Jews, was dependent on the Law. The Pharisees were actually more interested in the spirit of the Law and not adhering to it literally. Why would Jesus be at odds with the sect of Jews who were interested in the allegorical and non-dogmatic application of the Law and yet only have one run in with the class of Jews who *were* actually insanely legalistic? Why would Jesus be at odds with the Pharisees – who were *anti-slavery?* The *Sadduccees* were pro-slavery! But… Jesus never does condemn slavery… (another odditiy of Paul’s letters is that he complains about the Law and only mentions the Pharisees, even though during his lifetime it was the Sadduccees who were the legalistic ones).

Now for the most important part of the Christian Bible. A Christian Bishop named Marcion who was probably born around 70 – 80 AD “breaks off from the ‘orthodoxy'” (a very subjective designator in this time period) being kicked out of the church in Rome around 110 and starts what is later called by his detractors “Marcionism”. Marcion affirmed that Jesus was the Savior, but Jesus’ teachings were incompatible with the god of the Torah and that Jesus was actually the savior sent by a higher, hitherto unknown god of love and mercy (more Plato inspired theology). This god, from one of the higher heavens (2 Cor 12:2), sent his son Christ as a blood sacrifice to the lower, brutal, bloodlusting god of the Jews (possibly 2 Cor 4:4 – who is the “god of this age”??) for the redemption of all mankind. Marcion then was the first person to separate the Torah and make a distinction between “Old” and “New” and in 140 he compiled the first “New Testament” with 10 of Paul’s letters (the ones above minus the “Pastorals”) and one gospel, that seems to share a lot of similarities with our current Luke.

Notice that this happens in 140, five years after the failure of the Bar-Kochkba revolt, and in an environment that was trying to make Jewish theology illegal. Paul, for Marcion, was this new god’s chief apostle, whom Paul knew via personal revelation (just like Paul’s current corpus says like in Gal. 1:11 – 17, 1 Cor 11:23, and elsewhere). Marcion’s teachings made a lot of logical sense (why would God sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself? It makes more sense for a God of love to sacrifice its son to a separate war-like God), and lot of his arguments against the brutality depicted in the Torah (called the Antithesis; cf the supposed “morality” in Numbers 31 or Deut. 22:28-29) are still used to this day.

The “orthodoxy” then scrambled to compete with this by arguing for their own “New Testament” against Marcionism. A simple, narrow popularity contest is what prevented you (and all of Western civilization) from being Marcionites. According to radical critic Hermann Detering (and some other scholars), Simon Magus may be a cypher for Paul, [] with Paul having originally been detested by the proto-Orthodox church due to the popularity of Marcionism, and the name changed when Paul was rehabilitated by virtue of forged epistles correcting the genuine ones. Simon Magus is sometimes described in apocryphal legends in terms that would fit Paul. Furthermore while the Christian proto-Orthodoxy frequently portrayed the major “Gnostic” leader Marcion as having been a follower of Simon Magus (according to Irenaeus, Simon Magus was the “father of all heresies”), Marcion nowhere mentions even the existence of Simon, and instead identifies himself as a follower of Paul. The Ebionites, also, had a huge disdain for Paul – in what’s regarded as some of their writings called the “pseudo-Clementines”, Peter is seen at odds with Simon Magus which most scholars conclude is Paul. The Ebionites argued in their writings that Peter never argued for the abolition of the Law or considered a “curse” like Paul did so there was no way they could have gotten along.

The three Pastoral epistles and “Acts of the Apostles” (maybe even canonical Luke and 2 Peter) were more than likely written to counter Marcion as well, which means they were written almost 100 years after Paul lived. No Christian prior to Marcion seems to be aware of the existence of Acts of the Apostles. Hence, the name change of Paul in Acts, which Paul himself never mentions in his letters. Other “Acts” type literature is also dated to the 2nd century, such as “Acts of Pilate”, “Acts of Peter and Paul”, “Acts of John”, “Acts of Thomas”, “Acts of the Twelve”, etc. This also explains why there are so many letters written by “Paul” in the NT, because the proto-Orthodox church used his letters in their own canon to capitalize on the popularity of Marcionism. From another perspective, why would Jesus go out of his way to pick 12 disciples, teach them the secrets of the coming Kingdom of God, send them out to evangelize during his time on Earth (or “LXX” number of apostles in Luke), just so that he can later knock a guy off of his horse months (or years) after his resurrection to make this guy’s evangelism take up half of the documents for his New Covenant?

While Christians earlier than Marcion (like Clement, Polycarp, and Ignatius) write a word or two about Paul or quote one or so of his letters, it seems as though Marcion is the first to actually collect “all” of Paul’s letters – minus the Pastorals. There’s a possibility that every single one of the 10 uncontested and contested Pauline epistles were written by Marcion and distributed throughout his churches. It might even be possible that Marcion was writing about *himself* in those letters, since he did found a lot of churches in the Roman empire. Marcion is also the first Christian to use “Luke” in arguments – even before the earliest proto-Orthodoxy use of the gospel material like Justin Martyr.

Irenaeus is a name you should know. He has a work called “Against Heresies” that he wrote in 180 in which he attacks Marcion (conveniently after his death), the Ebionites, the Nazarenes, and the various Gnostics (like Valentinians, Sethians, Cerinthians, etc.[interestingly enough, the Gnostic Valentinus was a disciple of a “Theudas”, and Theudas was supposedly a disciple of Paul]). In his work, Irenaeus finally gives names to, and argues for, four gospels in the orthodoxy’s “New” Testament:

Matthew also published a gospel in writing among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter & Paul were preaching the gospel and founding the church in Rome. But after their death, Mark, the disciple & interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing what Peter used to preach. And Luke, Paul’s associate, also set down in a book the gospel that Paul used to preach. Later, John, the Lord’s disciple — the one who lay on his lap — also set out the gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia Minor – Against Heresies 3.1.1 (the first Christian document that gives names to the gospels)

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground [1 Timothy 3:15] of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. – Against Heresies 3.11.8 (arguing for only four gospels even though there were more in circulation at the time)

As you probably can tell, 3.1.1 is the order that the gospels appear in the NT. However, Irenaeus’ credibility is questionable. We know now that his depiction of Gnostics is incorrect due to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in the 1940s containing over 30 manuscripts of Gnostic gospels; he was writing more to warn his proto-Orthodoxy about Gnosticism, not trying to accurately describe it. Also, no Hebrew version of Matthew has ever been found; Matthew was writing originally in Greek due to his use of the LXX. Unless, of course, Irenaeus is referencing the Hebrew written gospel used by the Ebionites (but he would consider their gospel “heretical”). Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” is the first Christian apologetic writing that actually names the gospels of “Luke” and “John” (possibly also the first mention of the names “Matthew” and “Mark”, piggybacking on Papias’ Mark “Logia” [literally “words” – a sayings gospel]). Prior to Irenaeus, no other Christian writes “according to John” or “according to Mark”, etc. they just quote what we find is a phrase specific to John or specific to Matthew etc. Marcion, writing before both Justin Martyr (150s) and Irenaeus (180s) called his “Luke” the “Gospel of the Lord”. Marcion is actually the earliest Christian to quote any gospel directly in his writings. Quite ironically, if we Anglicized “Marcion” (like “Jesus” is the Anglicized version of “Ιησου::Iesou”) his name would be “Mark”.

So, just to bring this point home: the gospel names Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are first given to the canonical gospels in 180. Prior to 180, no one knows of any gospel *authors* called Mark, Matthew, Luke, or John and no one knows of any documents called “the gospel *according to John*”, etc.

However, it’s generally agreed by NT scholars that Mark was the first gospel written, and that Luke and Matthew edited and expanded Mark because they didn’t like his version and used another source called “Q” (like I mentioned to you before) that might be similar in form to the Gospel of Thomas or Papias’ “Logia”, and John was written last. gThomas might have even been written before Mark.

Reading these gospels in their chronological order, Jesus goes from the *adopted* son of God in Mark (like what the Ebionites believed, and what Paul writes in Romans 1:3) via baptism (in Mark, the spirit descends like a dove *into* him, and *immediately* forces him into the desert/wilderness – like being possessed – if you read it in its original Greek) and loses his power/adoption on the cross (thus Mark 15:34-35, with the Temple veil being spilt in two. According to Josephus, the Temple veil was a huge picture of a starry sky, the symolism harkening back to when the sky split open and the spirit descended into him from John’ baptism [Mark and Matthew both have Jesus quote Psalm 22:1, while Luke quotes Psalm 31:5]), to the *literal* son of God in Matthew/Luke (thus trying to *explain* the baptism since he was *already* the son of God), and then to God *himself* (or Philo’s “Logos” – the Word – the baptism now completely gone) in John. Each gospel also gets progressively more gnostic, changes Jesus’ last words on the cross, and gospels written after John are relegated to the Gnostics – though the “Gospel of Peter” was considered canonical for a while as well, it’s a bit more Gnostic-like than John (the True Cross is able to talk and says the word “Yea” wtf lol) – it eventually fell out of favor for possibly promoting “Docetic” (Jesus was just a spirit with the illusion of being human) Christology. There are actually some who say that a prototype version of John was written by the “Gnostic” Cerinthus (who was schooled in *Alexandra, Egypt*… hint hint) and was edited by the person who wrote 1 John to make it more “orthodox” by insisting on the Christ made flesh (google the “Egerton gospel”).

If James had been the brother of Jesus, why does no Christian know any stories about the life of Jesus from the age of 12 to 30? Surely the brother of Jesus would have had his brains picked clean by Christians eager to know what Jesus had been like. Therefore, the evolution of Jesus from being the adopted son of God to being God himself makes more sense, given the lack of any details of Jesus’ childhood and if he wasn’t considered the son of god from birth.

Also, Mark originally ends without any resurrection appearances; the women just run away scared and don’t tell anyone (16:8). The part after 16:8 is called the “Long Ending”, but the language in the LE is different than that found in the rest of Mark’s gospel. NT scholars are almost unanimous that the part after 16:8 isn’t original to Mark. So, Matthew and Luke have the first resurrection appearances. John also further corrects the resurrection appearances (also Paul’s account of resurrection appearances) by having the “Doubting Thomas” scene and the scene where Peter gets to reaffirm his love for Jesus three times to make up for him denying Jesus three times in the Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) – which is odd if Mark was supposed to get his info from Peter but doesn’t have this reconciliation. Reading Mark, it actually looks like the author of Mark was *discrediting* Peter and the disciples (e.g. “are you still so dull?” and “get behind me satan!”, the Parable of the Sower with the “word” getting lost on the *rocks*… rock=peter: Peter, even though he was anxious for the “word” abandons Jesus at the end, etc.).

And then, since Matthew and Luke didn’t like this discreditation, they edited Mark’s narrative to rehabilitate the disciples (e.g. “for you are Peter [“rock”], and on this rock…” nullifying the Parable of the Sower). This is an evolving Christology, an evolution common to many myths; John is the most popular, yet least historical – if at all – gospel out of the four. As a matter of fact, it seems as though the (Greek speaking) gospel writers, writing after Paul, got ahold of a LXX, Paul’s letters, and simply picked “prophecies” for Jesus to fulfill in their narratives (this process is called “midrash”), with some getting a bit overzealous about the prophecies fulfilled.

For example, Matthew is the worst of it – the word “Nazarene” or “Nazareth” never appears in the LXX, but somehow the writer of Matthew thinks this is fulfilling a prophecy in the LXX. Matthew also thinks that Isaiah 7:14 is a messainic prophecy, but it isn’t. Isaiah is telling Ahaz to wait for YHWH for support instead of making alliances with Assyria. The “sign of Immanuel” is a timetable for when YHWH will destroy Ahaz’s enemies. By the time the child Immanuel reaches puberty (Is. 7:15 – 20) – telling Ahaz to wait for about 15 years – the time it takes for the woman in their company to give birth and have the child reach puberty – the two kingdoms (Is 7:16) which are about to invade that Ahaz is fretting over will be defeated, (See and 7:14 doesn’t say “virgin” in Hebrew. It *does* say “virgin” in the LXX though; a line of evidence that Matthew was written by a Greek speaker. Matthew also thinks that Hosea 11:1 is a messainic prophecy, but he conveniently leaves out the very first sentence of Hos. 11:1 which says “When Israel was a child, I loved him” so he could get “And out of Egypt I called my son” and apply it to Jesus. Also, Matthew quote-mines Jeremiah 31:15 for the “slaughter of the innocents”, but he also conveniently leaves out the rest of Jer. 31 which is about the Babylonian captivity, saying that Rachel’s children will “return from the land of the enemy”.

Anyway, Proto-Catholic Christianity is centered in Rome, whereas Ebionite Christianity is centered in Jerusalem (Aelia Capitolina after the destruction of Jerusalem after the Bar Kochba revolt, though the Ebionites joined the rest of the Jewish diaspora after Bar Kochba). In my opinion, the Ebionites are probably what the real, prior to Paul Christians were. The religion of Cephas/Peter, John, and James (Jesus’ brother), while the religion of Paul was closer to Gnosticism. The Ebionites continue surviving until proto-Catholic, Pauline Christianity is favored by Constantine for the “official” Roman religion circa 330 AD. Thus the Catholic Church is formed. When the first official Pope is named, the Ebionites and the Desposyni (relatives of Jesus) came to the gentile Pope and tried to re-claim the now official church but were dismissed. The Ebionites and Desposyni (along with the Gnostics) become further marginalized, finally disappearing around the 5th century (no, I’m not advocating some sort of Da Vinci code scenario!). The oppressed in the proto-Catholic church thus become the oppressors… Part 3.

References: (The Septuagint or LXX) (this is my web site! yay!) (Philo’s and Josephus’ writings about Pilate) (The argument by most scholars that Mark was written first) (The Maccabees and Hanukka) (Essene’s Dead Sea Scrolls) (Eusebius’ “Church History” written c. 300) (Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” written c. 180) (2008 Oxford conference about the “Synoptic Problem” by Christopher Tuckett) (Sanhedrin 43a – Yeshu ha-Notzri) (Sanhedrin 107b another exerpt about Yeshu) (Sanhedrin 67a a passage about a ben Stada / ben Pandira) (a lengthy diatribe by a Jewish guy arguing against Christianity. While lengthy and doesn’t cite sources, he does provide good linguistic arguments since he apparently knows Hebrew) (Biblical Archaeology Review article on the “Teacher of Righteousness”) (Biblical Archaeology Review article about similarities / differences between Jesus and the “Teacher of Righteousness”),8599,1820685,00.html (Gabriel’s Revelation) (another comparison between the Essenes and Jesus) (a verse-by-verse exegesis of the gospel of Mark) (this is a pretty radical deconstruction of the gospel of Mark but it makes some pretty good arguments that Mark is a pro-Paul, anti-Peter work).

Comments Off on The History of Early Christianity, part 2

Posted by on July 13, 2009 in Adonai, adoni, christ, early Christianity, ebionites, Hashem, jesus, LXX, paul, septuagint, YHWH, YHWH pronunciation

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