Monthly Archives: August 2009

Paul and The Lord’s Supper

This was posted by “spin” over at FRDB in regards to the Eucharist ceremony that Paul describes in 1 Cor 11:17-34. It really goes to show how one needs to learn Greek in order to see past all of the Christian interpretation of translations:

Paul felt it was necessary to reprimand his Corinthians over their behavior when they partook in the group’s communal meal, which Paul calls “the lordly supper” — kuriakos deipnos. This is usually translated as “the lord’s supper” (which would be deipnos tou kuriou), but kuriakos is an adjective (used only twice in the christian scripture), hence “lordly” for want of better representation. This will help to avoid the perhaps undue influence that the phrase “lord’s supper” would bring to the text.

Here is the reconstructed text (arrived at through reduction of the current text):

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear which of you have approval. When you come together, it is not the lordly supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

Is it that I have so mangled the text that I have lost sight of its significance or is this a communal meal of the sort that people adhering to Jewish customs partook in? We find such a communal meal mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls and believers who had become recognized members of the community could partake in the meal, though they could be excluded from it.

Paul’s complaint, so far, seems to have nothing to do with the Jesus inaugurated ritual meal, but with how members of Paul’s Corinthian community treated each other by not partaking as good responsible members should. It was not an ordinary meal where one could gluttonize or get drunk, but a meal in which all members should be able to partake and not miss out because of the gluttony of some. If one needed to think of one’s body one should do that at home.

If this analysis is correct, let’s look at the text as it has become:

17 Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear which of you have approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the lordly supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

The phrase in red is not well supported by the manuscript evidence, so it can be reduced to a footnote as is done in the NRSV. It seems to be a late erroneous attempt at clarifying the significance of “body”, shifting from the body of the individual to that of Jesus. It’s not the lord’s body that the member doesn’t discern but his/her own, such that s/he comes to the meal with the wrong attitude and gluttonizes.

The green section is mainly the Lucan presentation of the last supper. Its presence draws attention onto itself and away from Paul’s complaint about the poor attitude of his Corinthians when they come to the communal meal.

Interestingly enough, “spin” is right; the only other instance of “Lordly” or “lord-like” (κυριακον) is in Revelation 1:10. Some scholars have posited that John’s Revelation was originally a Jewish apocalypse that was reappropriated by Christians and thus Christianized by interpolating a bunch of “Jesuses” and “Christs” into the text. The Didache, the “Ascension of Isaiah”, also suffer a similar fate – originally Jewish works that were later Christianized. What if Paul’s letters were the same? What if Paul’s letters were originally part of the Dead Sea Scrolls community and were reappropriated by Christians? I think another person, DC Hindley, has a similar conclusion. But not necessarily related to the Dead Sea Scrolls community (usually referred to as the Essenes), but some other Jewish interaction with the ger toshavim.

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Posted by on August 30, 2009 in eucharist, interpolation, lord's supper, paul


Propheciezed or Derived?

So was Jesus’ life really predicted according to Jewish scripture? Or was his life derived from Jewish scripture?

The first line of evidence for this is the fact that the Hebrew Bible is split into three types of writings: Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Prophecy ended in Israel on the deaths of the last prophets; Zechariah, Malachi, etc. Daniel, who is considered a prophet according to Christians, was not considered a prophet in Judaism since he lived after the time period that prophecy had ended.

Accordingly, the psalms are not prophetic. They are simply the hopes and dreams of Jews written to songs. The word “psalm” comes from the Greek word ψαλμος (psalmos) which was derived from the verb ψάλλω (psallo). When I fingerpick my guitar, I ψάλλω it. Psalms are songs to be sung, usually accompanied by a stringed instrument which is plucked with fingers. So the psalms are listed among the Ketuvim, along with Daniel. Though in John, Jesus fubs and calls the Psalms “Torah”:

Psalm 82:6

I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’

John 10:34

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’

(Why does Jesus say “your law”? Isn’t it his law too, being Jewish?) Jesus’ entire crucifixion scene, according to Christians, was “predicted” by the 22nd psalm. But this makes no sense since the psalms aren’t prophetic. Therefore, Jesus’ crucifixion scene must have been derived from the 22nd psalm!

Psalm 22:1

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46

the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, […] “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Psalm 22:18

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture

Matthew 27:35

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots

Psalm 22:7

All they that saw me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake their heads

Matthew 27:39

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads

Psalm 22:8

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him

Matthew 27:43

He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if He will have him

Though Luke changes Jesus’ last words, they are still derived from a psalm:

Luke 23:46

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father into thy hands I commend My Sprit…

Psalm 31:5

Into thine hand I commend my spirit

Other aspects of the crucifixion are derived from other psalms:

Matthew 27:24

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Psalm 26:6

I will wash mine hands in innocency

Matthew 27:34

And they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall…

Psalm 69:21

They gave me also gall for my meat, ……and they gave me vinegar to drink

John 13:18

He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me

Mark 15:28 says “and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was counted with the lawless ones” (Isaiah 53:12)”. But Mark 15:28 doesn’t show up in some earlier manuscripts, so some Bibles either leave it out, or have a little annotation to denote this. So it means this “prophecy” was inserted into the text at a later time period. But what if that was endemic to the entire text? That an original author wrote a narrative gospel and another author realized that there were “similarities” between Tanakh texts and the gospels?

Also, the name “Barabbas” literally means “son of the father” or “descendent of the father” (Bar Abba). The reason why it’s “Barabbas” in the text is the same reason why it’s “Jesus” in the text. These stories were originally written in Greek and so the ending of a noun in Greek depends on its grammatical context. So for example, if I said “They crucify Barabbas” in Greek it would be αυτοι σταυρώνει Βαραββαν. Notice the ending – it’s a “ν” which is “n” in Greek – it literally says “Barabban”. If I wanted to say “Barabbas writes the good news” it would be Βαραββας γραφει τα ευαγγελια. Barabbas ends with a sigma – “s”. If I wanted to write “What does your father want, Barabbas?”, in Greek it would be τι κανει ο πατερας σου θελει, Βαραββα; which would literally be “What does your father want, Barabba?”

So that entire sequence is really between Jesus, who is supposed to be the actual “Son of the Father” and his polar opposite – a violent insurrectionist – who is literally named “Son of the Father”. Some manuscripts of Matthew even have Barabbas named “Jesus Barabbas”. So one “barabba” is sacrified for sin while the other “barabba” is released. This seems to mimic the scapegoat ceremony in Leviticus 16. Or, seems to be derived from Leviticus 16. Of course, this probably slipped passed the overzealous redactor who inserted “prophecies fulfilled” in the text, or that entire scene might have said at the end “and so they released Barabbas to fulfill Leviticus 16” which doesn’t really make sense.

Of course, there’s also the derived virgin birth (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14), the derived “slaughter of the innocents” (Matthew 2:18, Jer. 31:15), the derived “flight from Egypt” (Matthew 2:15, Hosea 11:1). What if the entire narrative itself was derived from the Hebrew Bible? This process is called “Midrash” – no wonder Christians are so zealous that Jesus “fulfilled” so many “prophecies”. But it seems like it was the other way around. Jesus didn’t fulfill any prophecies, the “prophecies” gave life to Jesus.

Another idea is that the original gospel Mark was written as a play. What if the reason that so much of the Passion sequence is derived from the psalms is because the Passion sequence, also, was supposed to be played to music?

And of course, keeping with Gnostic tradition, Mark ends his midrash of the Hebrew Bible at 16:8; which Matthew and Luke didn’t like:

The terms “Abrupt Ending” [Mark 16:8] carry with them a begging of the question.

It is only abrupt if you assume a longer ending. There is nothing incomplete, nothing rushed, nothing out of place – it ends, and moreover it ends with what is decisive historically: nobody knows. Jesus slips through un-noticed so the scriptures may be fulfilled and those of us in on the secret can inherit everlasting life.

As you add in the specious material after 16:8 the problems start to mount. In the original ending you had to explain the historical silence regarding Jesus. It is done so effectively with stupid, fearful disciples, and an ignorant Jewish church.

So when you re-introduce the spectactular appearance before multitudes after death, now you are back to explaining why nobody noticed him.


Jerome tells us in his 120th epistle that the long ending of Mark “is met with in only a few copies, almost all the codices of Greece being without the passage”. (The earliest manuscript we have with the ending is the Codex Washingtonianus (5th c.) which itself has a large interpolation after v.14, attesting to the volatility of the Markan ending (as do the variations in many other manuscripts).

Either the vast majority of manuscripts of Greece (in the late 4th c.) were an aberration or Irenaeus’s source (in the late 2nd c.) was. We have earlier sources again as non-witnesses, both Matthew and Luke, neither of which support the long ending, a strange occurrence for they usually follow Mark.


The gospels of Matthew and Luke diverge wildly after more or less following Mark’s [Passion Narrative] through 16:8. That was the end of Mark’s gospel.

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Posted by on August 26, 2009 in gnosticism, jesus, midrash


Dating Acts of the Apostles

Conservative Christian apologists want Acts of the Apostles (AoA) to be dated as early as possible. Looking at all of the evidence, however, indicates that AoA is a late 2nd century work. Here are some arguments for early dates and for later dates

Early Date for AoA

1. Doesn’t mention the death of Paul or Peter, which by tradition was around 64 CE
2. Reference to a “Theophilus” who was supposedly a High Priest in the 40s CE
3. Unfamiliar with and contradicts Paul’s letter to the Galatians

Later Date for AoA

1. Usage of Josephus (90s CE)

Josephus is the only known source to name Theudas. Additionally, he is named as an insurrectionist. The author of Acts makes a chronological mistake, “After him (Theudas) Judas the Galilean rose up.” But this mistake is based on the fact that Josephus mentions these two out of chronological order! The author of Acts is following the order of mention (Theudas then Judas) in Josephus Antiquities 10.5.1-2 without a careful reading of the context.

2. Glut of other ΠΡΑΞΕΣ (praxes – “acts”) type material in the 2nd century.
3. Theology similar to Polycarp (c. 125 CE) and the Pastoral Epistles
4. First witness to AoA and Pastoral Epistles is Irenaeus (c. 175 CE)
5. First witness to a collected Pauline epistle canon is Marcion (c. 140 CE), thus the first emphasis on the popularity of that apostle
6. Motivation to tame the elevated status of Marcion’s Paul and the elevated status of James to the Ebionites/Thomas
7. Written in third person, with unnatural transitions to first person plural (“we”) passages coinciding with sea voyages and unnatural transitions back to third person after sea voyages.
8. Theophilus was also the name of an eclectic Christian in the 2nd century (who I wrote about here) who seems to not know about the Jesus story.

Based on all of the internal and external evidences, I would conclude that AoA was written no earlier than Josephus and no later than Irenaeus. Dating it earlier than that seems to be based solely on apologetical grounds. It seems unreasonable that AoA would be written in the 40s or 60s CE and sit invisible and unused in Christian polemics until 110 – 130 years later. Also considering the unstable nature of papyrus used in the 1st century makes it even more unlikely that it would sit invisible without someone taking care of it (or copying it) to make sure it wasn’t destroyed.


The Many "Christs" in the Bible

Jesus Christ is ιησου χριστου in Greek. But the word “christ” is written multiple times in the Tanakh or LXX (Old Testament). The translators of our modern Christian Bibles conveniently leave out and translate χριστου literally as “anointed” or “anointed one” when in English and not refering specifically to Jesus.

Isaiah 45 LXX
45:1 ουτως λεγει κυριος ο θεος τω χριστω μου κυρω / This the Lord God says to my christ Cyrus

1 Samuel 2 LXX
2:10 […] και υψωσει κερας χριστου αυτου / […] and exalt the horn of his christ

1 Samuel 2 LXX
2:35 […] και διελευσεται ενωπιον χριστου μου πασας τας ημερας / […] and he will minister before my christ always

1 Samuel 12 LXX
12:3 ιδου εγω αποκριθητε κατ’ εμου ενωπιον κυριου και ενωπιον χριστου αυτου / Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of YHWH and his christ.

2 Samuel 19 LXX
19:22 και απεκριθη αβεσσα υιος σαρουιας και ειπεν μη αντι τουτου ου θανατωθησεται σεμει οτι κατηρασατο τον χριστον κυριου / Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD’s christ

1 Chronicles 16 LXX
16:22 μη αψησθε των χριστων μου και εν τοις προφηταις μου μη πονηρευεσθε / Do not touch my christ; do my prophets no harm

2 Chronicles 6 LXX
6:42 κυριε ο θεος μη αποστρεψης το προσωπον του χριστου σου μνησθητι τα ελεη δαυιδ του δουλου σου / O LORD God, do not reject your christ. Remember the great love promised to David your servant

Psalm 2 LXX
2:2 παρεστησαν οι βασιλεις της γης και οι αρχοντες συνηχθησαν επι το αυτο κατα του κυριου και κατα του χριστου αυτου διαψαλμα / The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Christ

Psalm 17 LXX
17:51 μεγαλυνων τας σωτηριας του βασιλεως αυτου και ποιων ελεος τω χριστω αυτου τω δαυιδ και τω σπερματι αυτου εως αιωνος / He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his christ, to David and his descendants forever

Psalm 27 LXX
27:8 κυριος κραταιωμα του λαου αυτου και υπερασπιστης των σωτηριων του χριστου αυτου εστιν / The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his christ

Lamentations 4 LXX
4:20 πνευμα προσωπου ημων χριστος κυριου συνελημφθη εν ταις διαφθοραις αυτων ου ειπαμεν εν τη σκια αυτου ζησομεθα εν τοις εθνεσιν / The LORD’s christ, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations

These (and many more like it) instances of “christ” are all nouns in the LXX. They’re titles. So someone claiming to be the “christ” or the “messiah” is in no way blasphemy, since it was a title held somewhat regularly among Jewish leadership and those who they thought were doing YHWH’s divine work – even in the case of Cyrus who was a non-Jewish Christ.

Another thing that confuses me about early Christianity is that all Jews were supposed to make sacrifices – burnt sin offerings – to YHWH while the temple was still standing. In the Temple, there would be booths were Jews could buy the necessary animal to present to the High Priest as their burnt offering to YHWH. But there’s no record of Christians not doing this, or them actively refusing to do it, etc. For all intents, Christians are invisible prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Why would Christians still be making burnt offerings to YHWH if they thought that their sins had already been cleansed by Jesus? And if they didn’t make burnt sin offerings, why wasn’t there some huge stink about it recorded by any Jews in the 1st century?

There’s an episode about Paul in Acts of the Apostles (21:23-26) where he’s about to make a burnt offering as a completion of the Nazirite vow, but other than that, there’s no record of Christians refusing to do these burnt offerings. Not even in any letters by Christians written in the 1st century.

Unless, of course, Christians prior to the destruction of the 2nd Temple were all Ebionites… or if Christians prior to the destruction of the Temple weren’t Jewish at all.

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Posted by on August 15, 2009 in early Christianity, ebionites, jesus myth


The (not so) Eternal Kingdom?

So I’m having an exchange with this dude on facebook where I pointed out that Matthew makes quite a few references to Jesus sending people to hell (5:22; 5:30; 10:28; 13:41-42; 13:49-50; 18:8-9; 25:46 – and those are just the ones where he directly says it himself, and not through a parable!). Facebook doesn’t really allow long winded discourses so I can’t really flesh out my arguments there. But the guy came back in remonstrance of Matt 25:46 claiming that the Greek word αιωνιον::aionion doesn’t mean “forever” in Greek.

It most certainly does. Well, more accurately it can.

Matthew in 25:46 says that people who don’t believe will be sent to “eternal punishment” whereas the righteous will earn “eternal life”. The thing is, Matthew uses αιωνιον for both “eternals” so this guy is special pleading if he thinks that aionion doesn’t mean eternal since he’ll most definitely argue that the second “eternal” in “eternal life” really means “eternal”. Jesus also uses the same word for “eternal” in John 3:16 (ζωην αιωνιον::zoin aionion – life eternal), arguably the most famous passage in all Christianity.

He then argued (and I agreed) that the concept of “hell” is pagan. But virgin births, worshiping human kings as gods, and the “logos (Word)” are also pagan concepts as well. Really, Christianity is a pagan religion that’s only superficially Jewish. The only Jewish aspects of Christianity are the word “christ” being analogous to a king (or a high priest, which the author of Hebrews does) and quoting Jewish scripture (albeit in a non-Jewish way).

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Posted by on August 12, 2009 in eternal life, eternal punishment, hell


Anointed with the Oil of Knowledge

“And about your laughing at me and calling me Christian you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first called [anointed]? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God”
– Theophilus of Antioch, “To Autolycus” 1.12 (2nd century)

Here Theophilus, writing in the 2nd century, says that being a Christian has nothing to do with Jesus, but has to do with “being anointed with the oil of god”. The Holy Spirit is mentioned, but “speaks through Moses and the rest of the prophets, so that the writings which belong to us godly people are more ancient, yea, and are shown to be more truthful, than all writers and poets.” This means Theophilus traces his religion to Moses and other Hebrew prophets, but not Jesus.

He also explicitly claims that his scriptures are more ancient than all the pagan writers and poets. By this Theophilus means the Hebrew Scriptures. But it also equally rules out any Christian scriptures, gospels or epistles. According to Theophilus, in chapter 11 “Of Repentance” he teaches that salvation is by following the law. It has nothing to do with faith in Jesus, his blood, or the crucifixion. Most importantly, in chapter 13, on the resurrection, Theophilus uses Hercules and Aesculapius as proof of the resurrection of the dead, but not Jesus! I can’t think of a reasonable explanation of this except he had never heard of it.

This shows one of the many varieties of “Christianities” that were around in ante-Nicea Christianity. If that’s the case, then I can call myself a “Christian Gnostic” because I [want to be] anointed with the “oil of knowledge” without having to latch onto any of the other dogmas of “orthodox” Christianity.

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Posted by on August 9, 2009 in early Christianity, gnosticism


Apostolic Succession, part II

Here is a nice rundown of “Apostolic Succession” tracing the authorship of the gospel of Mark (the first gospel written) compiled by Joe Wallack at FRDB:
Continuing with a timelion for Attribution of authorship to “Mark” and the broader issue of claimed Source of authority, Revelation verses Historical witness:

c. 50 Paul

Paul is clearly claimed Revelation. He is unaware of any Canonical Gospel. I don't believe Paul ever refers (uses the word “disciples”) to any Disciples of Jesus.

c. 90 Forged Paul – 2 Thessalonians…r=1&version=31

Again, the author is clearly claimed Revelation. He is unaware of any Canonical Gospel. He never refers to any Disciples of Jesus.

c. 90 More Forged Paul – Ephesians…r=1&version=31

Again, the author is clearly claimed Revelation. He is unaware of any Canonical Gospel. He never refers to any Disciples of Jesus.

Add to this that the earliest physical evidence for any Canonical Gospel is P52 with a mid-range date of c. 165 and we have it on good authority that there was no attribution of authorship to “Mark” in the first century because there was no Gospel “Mark” to attribute to at the time.

c. 100 Epistle of Barnabas

Once again, the author is clearly claimed Revelation. He is unaware of any Canonical Gospel. He never refers to any Disciples of Jesus. He never even mentions Peter, James El-all.

c. 110 First Clement…t/1clement.htm

Stop yer Timelion. Transition to toned down Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Never refers to any Disciples of Jesus but does mention Peter. Implies that Peter was a historical witness but no evidence that Peter either wrote or was even the source of any writing.

CAUTION – It's generally agreed that extant “Ignatius” contains massive amounts of Forgery so out of CAUTION I will take the Four Epistles considered most Likely authentic:

c. 110 The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans

Toned down Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Never refers to any historical Disciples of Jesus but instead refers to himself as a Disciple of Jesus (point Doherty). Does mention Peter. States that Peter issued commandments as an Apostle. So early second century with First Clement and Ignatius/Forged Ignatius we are gradually getting closer to an Assertian that Peter was a historical witness and the source for a related written support.

c. 110 The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians

Toned down Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Never refers to any historical Disciples of Jesus. Does not mention Peter. Asserts that Jesus' Passion had historical witness. Disputes Gnostic claims that Jesus was spirit only.

c. 110 The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians

Toned down Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Never refers to any historical Disciples of Jesus. Does not mention Peter. Strong hierarchy Assertian and doctrine of birth, passion and resurrection.

Christian doctrine starts with Paul's Assertian of resurrection. Now it has expanded to passion and birth. Why birth? Apparently at the time of Magnesians there are those who deny that Jesus was born. Presumably these are Gnostics who existed before any Canonical Gospel.

c. 110 The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians

Emphasis is on Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Never refers to any historical Disciples of Jesus. Does not mention Peter. Strong hierarchy Assertian and three mystery doctrine of virginity of Mary and birth and death of Jesus.

c. 125 Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

Emphasis is on Revelation. Unaware of any Canonical Gospel. Does show awareness of supposed Jesus' sayings. Never refers to any historical Disciples of Jesus. Does not mention Peter. Emphasis on morals and ethics that even hierarchy is subject to. Doctrines of Faith expanded to Negative command. It is blasphemy (evil) not to believe them. Note the development of Doctrine here:

1) What's important is belief in Jesus.

2) Belief in Jesus includes basic doctrines.

3) Not believing in these doctrines is evil.

c. 125 The Apology of Aristides

Toned down Revelation. Philosophical argument with historical emphasis. Aware of an unidentified Gospel. Refers to twelve historical Disciples of Jesus. Does not mention Peter. Emphasis on morals and ethics.

c. 135 The Gospel of Marcion…7/Gospel1.html

Per Tertullian and Epiphanius Marcion did not claim that his Gospel was from historical witness. Marcion's Gospel has Peter and the twelve as Disciples and as historical witness to Jesus' Ministry and Passion but never shows them as understanding Jesus' Mission. Note that this is the first point in the Timelion where there is basic agreement with “Mark” regarding the role of Peter and the Disciples. They were historical witness to Jesus' Mission but did not understand it and did not document it. This is probably the best category of evidence to evaluate which was earlier, Marcion “Luke” or orthodox “Luke”, because the primary purpose of the original Gospel is to discredit Peter and the Disciples. It is orthodox “Luke” which flips the issue and makes Peter and the Disciples historical witness that did understand Jesus and the Gospel that is the Reaction to the original (“Mark”) is likely the later.

c. 145 Second Clement [Forged]

Emphasis on Revelation. The Church as a witness is spiritual (as opposed to historical). Quotes supposed historical conversation between Jesus and Peter. No explicit assertian that Peter documented his witness. Emphasis on Eschatological.

c. 145 Epistle of the Apostles…ng/episaps.htm

Claimed Witness has completely flipped here from Revelation to Historical.
Explicit claim that historical disciples (including Peter, Cephas and Judas) have written this Gospel. Assertian that supposed authors are aware of Gnostics Simon and Cerinthus. Conflict between orthodox and Gnostics, both originally based on Revelation, which has moved to supposed Historical claims. Note that for this author to claim that Peter and Cephas are part of a joint effort behind the Gospel and no mention of “Mark” indicates that this author either has never heard of “Mark”, does not consider it authoritative or even considers it a Gnostic product.

c. 155 Justin Martyr

Justin also refers to the memoirs of the apostles, or some variation thereof, a number of times:

* Apology 1.33.5.
* Apology 1.66.3.
* Apology 1.67.3.
* Dialogue 100.4.
* Dialogue 101.3b.
* Dialogue 102.5.
* Dialogue 103.6a.
* Dialogue 103.8.
* Dialogue 104.1b-2.
* Dialogue 105.1.
* Dialogue 105.5b.
* Dialogue 105.6.
* Dialogue 106.1.
* Dialogue 106.3.
* Dialogue 106.4.
* Dialogue 107.1.

Familiar with Synoptics. Claimed Witness has completely flipped here from Revelation to Historical. Explicit claims that historical disciples have written Gospels. No attribution of names to Gospels (one possible reference to Peter's memoirs,…ml#sonsthunder ). No mention of “Mark” and no mention of Paul. No mention of Acts. It would appear that at this time orthodox Christianity accepted that there were Gospels from Historical witnesses but had not given these Gospels official names.

The Timelion is starting to flesh out here:

1) Revelation from Paul. Ignore Historical witness.

2) Revelation from Paul supplemented by Historical witness.

3) Orthodox/Gnostic split. Orthodox say HW understood. Gnostics (Marcion El All) say they did not.

4) Orthodox flip from emphasis on Revelation to emphasis on Historical. Paul is associated with Gnostics and not mentioned by orthodox.

5) Justin Martyr.

6) Acts written reconciling Paul/Revelation to Peter/History. Orthodox bring Paul back into mention.


And then step (7) is Irenaeus naming the gospels, the first witness to the Pastoral Epistles, and his arguments against the Gnostics in “Against Heresies” in 180 CE…

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Posted by on August 7, 2009 in early Christianity


Apostolic Succession

Many Christians in the 2nd century were arguing for what’s called “Apostolic Succession” – that they were in a direct line of teachers who were taught by Jesus. Valentinus claimed that he was a student of a “Theudas” who in turn was a student of Paul. Irenaeus (who names the gospels, and thus, is where current Christianty is descended from) claimed to be a student of Polycarp who in turn was a student of John. Eusebius (writing his “Church History” in the 330s CE) claims that Papias, who was a contemporary of Polycarp, knew some people who knew the apostles themselves; and that a “Mark” was a disciple and interpreter of Peter.

Valentinius lived around the middle of the 2nd century. Irenaeus also lived around the middle of the 2nd century.

In the “Martyrdom of Polycarp”, Polycarp claims himself right before he dies that he served Jesus 86 years (if he was martyred, then who wrote this story?!), which some people date to being around the year 160 CE. So Polycarp was such a menace as an 86 year old that he had to be stabbed to death (after people tried to burn him but miraculously didn’t get harmed by the flames). So this means that Polycarp was born sometime around 75 – 80 CE.

In 70 CE millions of Jews are killed or starved to death because of the first Jewish-Roman war (millions more died in the Bar Kochba Revolt).

So if Jesus had disciples, and we don’t really know if any of them were older than him, we’ll assume that they were around the same age as Jesus. So that makes a whole bunch of 70 year olds during the first Jewish-Roman war (if they weren’t Jews then I guess the War doesn’t really apply – but then again, there isn’t any “tradition” of Jesus having Gentile disciples, and in Matthew he explicitly tells his disciples not to go into any Gentile or Samaritan towns, so…). Polycarp wouldn’t have gotten “lessons” from any disciples until maybe 10 or 15, so that adds an extra 15 years to Polycarps’ birth – 95 CE. So in order for any Apostolic Succession to work, we have to assume that a 90 year old taught a 15 year old and then this 15 year old also lived to be a 90 year old and taught Irenaeus or Valentinus. Both of those successive 90 year olds were poor itinerant preachers travelling all around the Roman Empire evangelizing. Without money or access to the first rate medical care that the upper class Romans had (who they never evangelized to, since Christian targets of evangelism were the uneducated lower classes).


But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.

To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,— a man who was of much greater weight, and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles—that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.
– Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.4

All Christians in the 2nd century were telling these sorts of “tales” to authenticate their churches. We just are descendants of the ones that won.

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Posted by on August 5, 2009 in apostolic succession, early Christianity


John the Baptist vs. John the Baptist

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.

Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him.

-Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2

Here Josephus says that John the Baptist was insanely popular and didn’t baptize for the remission of sin. Herod subsequently arrests and kills John because he’s too popular and thought he might start a rebellion.

Mark 1

4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 6

17For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

Here Mark says that John the Baptist was insanely popular and did baptize for the remission of sins. Mark also says that he arrested John because he spoke ill of him, not because he was popular.

Josephus’ John the Baptist has a fate that seems closer to the Jesus of Christianity: popular and executed due to his popularity and fears of starting a rebellion. But why would Josephus write that about John the Baptist, yet write so little about Jesus, who was also supposed to share a similar fate? Are Josephus’ mentions of the Jesus of Christianity wholly interpolations?

I don’t have access to the Greek versions of “Jewish War” and “Antiquities”, but in the English versions the only two times that Josephus writes the title “Christ” are both in reference to the Jesus of Christianity – even though Josephus argued that the Roman General Vespasian was the Christ (but still avoiding that word)

Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, “That then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four-square.”

But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how,” about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.

– Josephus, Jewish War 6.5.4

It seems… inconsistent for Josephus to argue that Vespasian was the Christ yet avoid that word and then in another book simply assert that Jesus is the “Christ” without even explaining what that word means or arguing for why he’s calling him “Christ” (remember, Josephus is writing these two books for the Romans).

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Posted by on August 3, 2009 in christ, john the baptist, josephus


Lao Tzu and Jesus Christ

In fact, accord[ing] to some scholars, the very name Lao-tzu could simply mean “Old man”, which would appear to make it a dead giveaway that Lao-tzu is an archetype and not a particular individual.

– Chaucer, from

The name “Jesus Christ” is an Anglicized version of a Hellenized version of the Hebrew “Yehoshua Moshiach”. Yehoshua would be rendered straight from Hebrew to English as “Joshua”, and “Moshiach” would be rendered straight from Hebrew to English as “Anointed”. But a lot of Hebrew names have theophoric meanings; “Joshua” means “Joh is salvation” – “Joh” or “Yah” shorthand for YHWH or Yahweh.

So “Jesus Christ” means “YHWH’s anointed salvation”. Some people might argue that that name itself is also a “dead giveaway” that Jesus Christ is an archetype and not a particular individual.

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Posted by on August 2, 2009 in jesus christ, jesus myth, lao tzu

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