Author Topic: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians  (Read 30557 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #270 on: May 15, 2017, 09:39:57 PM »
Thank you for the notes to stay focused on the thread topic. I understand that this thread can be better continued on the Religious Topics section. What I will do below is summarize my goals, include a list of the works I covered, and end with a link where I will continue the reviews.

My purpose was to list and review the possible 1st century works by and about Christians, especially from an Orthodox angle. To give an example, I read about Archbishop Demetrios of America's book studying Eugnostos' Epistle, called The Transcendent God of Eugnostos. And in my last message I quoted St. Irenaeus' characterization of the gnostics' views on the relationship of Christ to Sophia, and I quoted the mainstream Christian D. Marshall on how the Sophia book's style proves the gospels have reliability as a historical narration of a real person and thus proves Christ was a real figure.

Below are dates and brief notes on works I have reviewed in this thread.

Probable Christian Writings Concerning the Old Testament Period
Early 1st to late 5th c. Lives of the Prophets (Was widespread in mainstream Church)
1st to 2nd c. Testament of Abraham (Was widespread among Christians)
1st to early 3rd c. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (Apostolic Constitutions consider it apocryphal; Numerous ancient and medieval translations; some find it Docetic)
1st c. - 300 3 Baruch (Origen might have cited it)
1st c. -300 4 Baruch (part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible)
70-200    Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Has Qumranite themes; St.Athanasius lists it among Apocrypha; 17th c. Armenian Bible includes it as apocryphal)
100-200    Odes of Solomon (quoted by Lactantius, 6th c. Synopsis Sacrae Scripture says it's read to catechumens)
2nd-3rd c. Testament of Jacob (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Isaac  (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Adam (maybe gnostic or Encratitic. Differs from canonical story, making Cain's jealousy to be over his sister)
100-400 Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (from J. Charlesworth, "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha"; Part of Books 7-8 of the Apostolic Constitutions)
100-500 Apocalypse of Sedrach
100-900 Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (referred to in Canon of Nicephorus c. 850 AD)

Extra-canonical and Deuterocanonical mainstream Christian literature
50-120    Didache
80-120    Epistle of Barnabas
(Clement Alexandrine & Origen used it, Jerome considered its authorship genuine & Eusebius didn't, Vulgate Bible included it as apocryphal)
80-140    1 Clement
90-218    4 Esdras (Vulgate book numbering) / 2 Esdras (Protestant №) / 3 Esdras (Slavic №)
95-160 2 Clement (Part of Alexandrian Codex; Eusebius doubted its authorial authenticity)
100-150    Apocalypse of Peter (Muratorian canon has it, Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Shepherd of Hermas (included in Codex Sinaiticus; Muratorian fragment says it "ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly"; Clement Alexandrine uses it but notes: "many people despise it")

Fragmentary, or Acceptance Varied, or Category of Heresy Uncertain
50-140    Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel (maybe part of the Gospel of Peter)
50-140    Gospel of Thomas (Hippolytus and Cyril of Jerusalem rejected it as gnostic; scholars debate if and how much it was)
1st-4th c.    Epistle to the Laodiceans (Maybe multiple versions eg. Paul's vs. Marcion's; Vulgate version: Apocryphal in Vulgate Bibles, St. Gregory the Great accepted it, Jerome said "All reject it")
70-120    Egerton Gospel (could be fragments from a rejected gospel that we only have in fragments like g.Peter)
70-200    Fayyum Fragment (too short to tell what writing it belongs to)
c. 79 Sator Arepa Tenet Opera Rotas puzzle (used in medieval Christianity; Scholars consider possible Mithraic, Christian, Saturnalian, or Jewish origins)
80-150    Gospel of the Hebrews (Fragmentary; Used by Origen, Jerome, Didymus Blind, Papias, Hegesippus; rejected by Pseudo-Cyril Jerusalemite & Philip Sidetes as heretical)
100-150    Preaching of Peter (Fragmentary. Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted as genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Gospel of Matthias/Traditions of Matthias (Clement Alexandrine respects it & Codex Baroccianus lists it as canonical; Eusebius & Gelasian Decree consider it heretical)
100-400    Gospel of Bartholomew / The Questions of Bartholomew (Maybe these Bartholomew works are the same. Rejected by Gelasian Decree. Unsure which category heresy it has, if any)

Messianic Jewish/Judaizers
100-160    Gospel of the Nazarenes/Nazoreans (Jerome used this book by a Torah-observant, theologically orthodox Christian sect; Note: 7th c. Trullo council banned Christians from praying in synagogues)
100-160    Gospel of the Ebionites / ?-250 Gospel of the Twelve (Origen calls the Gospel of the Twelve heretical, Jerome calls it the same as the Ebionites' gospel)

Celibate / Possibly Encratitic
80-150    Gospel of the Egyptians (Clement Alexandrine quoted it as having real Jesus sayings, Origen called it heretical)

Docetic (eg. Jesus only appeared to suffer)
70-160    Gospel of Peter (Including P.Oxy 4009 and P.Oxy. 2949. Rejected by Serapion Antiochene, Eusebius, & Philip Sidetes)

Note:
I also reviewed several gnostic works in this thread: Apocalypse of Adam, Gospel of Eve, Eugnostos the Blessed, Apocryphon of James, and a bit about Sophia of Jesus Christ.

My intent is to go through a few more gnostic texts that I listed in the thread's opening message in the way that I have for the thread's other works, and then to go through the non-gnostic non-Christian texts like Josephus, Pliny the Elder, Mar Bar Serapion, and Seneca, and others like them.

1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,71438.new.html
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 09:41:33 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #271 on: May 15, 2017, 09:56:58 PM »
Thank you for the notes to stay focused on the thread topic. I understand that this thread can be better continued on the Religious Topics section. What I will do below is summarize my goals, include a list of the works I covered, and end with a link where I will continue the reviews.

My purpose was to list and review the possible 1st century works by and about Christians, especially from an Orthodox angle. To give an example, I read about Archbishop Demetrios of America's book studying Eugnostos' Epistle, called The Transcendent God of Eugnostos. And in my last message I quoted St. Irenaeus' characterization of the gnostics' views on the relationship of Christ to Sophia, and I quoted the mainstream Christian D. Marshall on how the Sophia book's style proves the gospels have reliability as a historical narration of a real person and thus proves Christ was a real figure.

Below are dates and brief notes on works I have reviewed in this thread.

Probable Christian Writings Concerning the Old Testament Period
Early 1st to late 5th c. Lives of the Prophets (Was widespread in mainstream Church)
1st to 2nd c. Testament of Abraham (Was widespread among Christians)
1st to early 3rd c. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (Apostolic Constitutions consider it apocryphal; Numerous ancient and medieval translations; some find it Docetic)
1st c. - 300 3 Baruch (Origen might have cited it)
1st c. -300 4 Baruch (part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible)
70-200    Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Has Qumranite themes; St.Athanasius lists it among Apocrypha; 17th c. Armenian Bible includes it as apocryphal)
100-200    Odes of Solomon (quoted by Lactantius, 6th c. Synopsis Sacrae Scripture says it's read to catechumens)
2nd-3rd c. Testament of Jacob (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Isaac  (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Adam (maybe gnostic or Encratitic. Differs from canonical story, making Cain's jealousy to be over his sister)
100-400 Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (from J. Charlesworth, "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha"; Part of Books 7-8 of the Apostolic Constitutions)
100-500 Apocalypse of Sedrach
100-900 Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (referred to in Canon of Nicephorus c. 850 AD)

Extra-canonical and Deuterocanonical mainstream Christian literature
50-120    Didache
80-120    Epistle of Barnabas
(Clement Alexandrine & Origen used it, Jerome considered its authorship genuine & Eusebius didn't, Vulgate Bible included it as apocryphal)
80-140    1 Clement
90-218    4 Esdras (Vulgate book numbering) / 2 Esdras (Protestant №) / 3 Esdras (Slavic №)
95-160 2 Clement (Part of Alexandrian Codex; Eusebius doubted its authorial authenticity)
100-150    Apocalypse of Peter (Muratorian canon has it, Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Shepherd of Hermas (included in Codex Sinaiticus; Muratorian fragment says it "ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly"; Clement Alexandrine uses it but notes: "many people despise it")

Fragmentary, or Acceptance Varied, or Category of Heresy Uncertain
50-140    Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel (maybe part of the Gospel of Peter)
50-140    Gospel of Thomas (Hippolytus and Cyril of Jerusalem rejected it as gnostic; scholars debate if and how much it was)
1st-4th c.    Epistle to the Laodiceans (Maybe multiple versions eg. Paul's vs. Marcion's; Vulgate version: Apocryphal in Vulgate Bibles, St. Gregory the Great accepted it, Jerome said "All reject it")
70-120    Egerton Gospel (could be fragments from a rejected gospel that we only have in fragments like g.Peter)
70-200    Fayyum Fragment (too short to tell what writing it belongs to)
c. 79 Sator Arepa Tenet Opera Rotas puzzle (used in medieval Christianity; Scholars consider possible Mithraic, Christian, Saturnalian, or Jewish origins)
80-150    Gospel of the Hebrews (Fragmentary; Used by Origen, Jerome, Didymus Blind, Papias, Hegesippus; rejected by Pseudo-Cyril Jerusalemite & Philip Sidetes as heretical)
100-150    Preaching of Peter (Fragmentary. Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted as genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Gospel of Matthias/Traditions of Matthias (Clement Alexandrine respects it & Codex Baroccianus lists it as canonical; Eusebius & Gelasian Decree consider it heretical)
100-400    Gospel of Bartholomew / The Questions of Bartholomew (Maybe these Bartholomew works are the same. Rejected by Gelasian Decree. Unsure which category heresy it has, if any)

Messianic Jewish/Judaizers
100-160    Gospel of the Nazarenes/Nazoreans (Jerome used this book by a Torah-observant, theologically orthodox Christian sect; Note: 7th c. Trullo council banned Christians from praying in synagogues)
100-160    Gospel of the Ebionites / ?-250 Gospel of the Twelve (Origen calls the Gospel of the Twelve heretical, Jerome calls it the same as the Ebionites' gospel)

Celibate / Possibly Encratitic
80-150    Gospel of the Egyptians (Clement Alexandrine quoted it as having real Jesus sayings, Origen called it heretical)

Docetic (eg. Jesus only appeared to suffer)
70-160    Gospel of Peter (Including P.Oxy 4009 and P.Oxy. 2949. Rejected by Serapion Antiochene, Eusebius, & Philip Sidetes)

Note:
I also reviewed several gnostic works in this thread: Apocalypse of Adam, Gospel of Eve, Eugnostos the Blessed, Apocryphon of James, and a bit about Sophia of Jesus Christ.

My intent is to go through a few more gnostic texts that I listed in the thread's opening message in the way that I have for the thread's other works, and then to go through the non-gnostic non-Christian texts like Josephus, Pliny the Elder, Mar Bar Serapion, and Seneca, and others like them.

1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,71438.new.html

Even if we could ignore your endless pages of heterodox commentary, as you seem to be proposing we should, still, look at your list and try to understand that very few people would consider it a collection of "First-century Christian Writings."
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #272 on: May 15, 2017, 10:02:54 PM »
very few people would consider it a collection of "First-century Christian Writings."
Hello, Porter.
I understand that many of the 1st century writings are not mainstream or orthodox Christian ones. Perhaps you will find it helpful that the title is: "List of 1st century writings by or about Christians".

Regards.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 10:03:31 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #273 on: May 16, 2017, 12:19:53 AM »
very few people would consider it a collection of "First-century Christian Writings."
Hello, Porter.
I understand that many of the 1st century writings are not mainstream or orthodox Christian ones. Perhaps you will find it helpful that the title is: "List of 1st century writings by or about Christians".

Regards.

Them they're not Christian ones. It's not complicated. Calling them Christian must be purely polemical.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #274 on: May 16, 2017, 12:32:48 AM »
I understand that many of the 1st century writings are not mainstream or orthodox Christian ones.
Them they're not Christian ones. Calling them Christian must be purely polemical.
Hello, Porter.
Let me address your concerns.
First, you earlier wrote to me:
Do you not know that Gnosticism was a Christian sect?
I took it that you were saying that those Gnostic writings do count as a Christian writings, as you counted those Gnostic sects as Christian.

Second, the title says "List of 1st century writings by or about Christians".

Third, in accordance with the moderatorial directives, I moved the discussion on Gnostic Christian writings to the Religious Topics section, where there are already some threads on things like gnosticism and paganism.(http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,71438.new.html) I am fine with the moderator moving the remaining information that you are still objecting to into that thread.

Regards.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 12:40:05 AM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #275 on: May 16, 2017, 02:41:41 AM »
Of course I didn't mean that. That's just a provocation.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline mcarmichael

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #276 on: May 22, 2017, 06:36:12 PM »
Thank you for the notes to stay focused on the thread topic. I understand that this thread can be better continued on the Religious Topics section. What I will do below is summarize my goals, include a list of the works I covered, and end with a link where I will continue the reviews.

My purpose was to list and review the possible 1st century works by and about Christians, especially from an Orthodox angle. To give an example, I read about Archbishop Demetrios of America's book studying Eugnostos' Epistle, called The Transcendent God of Eugnostos. And in my last message I quoted St. Irenaeus' characterization of the gnostics' views on the relationship of Christ to Sophia, and I quoted the mainstream Christian D. Marshall on how the Sophia book's style proves the gospels have reliability as a historical narration of a real person and thus proves Christ was a real figure.

Below are dates and brief notes on works I have reviewed in this thread.

Probable Christian Writings Concerning the Old Testament Period
Early 1st to late 5th c. Lives of the Prophets (Was widespread in mainstream Church)
1st to 2nd c. Testament of Abraham (Was widespread among Christians)
1st to early 3rd c. Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah (Apostolic Constitutions consider it apocryphal; Numerous ancient and medieval translations; some find it Docetic)
1st c. - 300 3 Baruch (Origen might have cited it)
1st c. -300 4 Baruch (part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible)
70-200    Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Has Qumranite themes; St.Athanasius lists it among Apocrypha; 17th c. Armenian Bible includes it as apocryphal)
100-200    Odes of Solomon (quoted by Lactantius, 6th c. Synopsis Sacrae Scripture says it's read to catechumens)
2nd-3rd c. Testament of Jacob (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Isaac  (Egyptian Jewish or Coptic; once widespread among Christians)
100-400 Testament of Adam (maybe gnostic or Encratitic. Differs from canonical story, making Cain's jealousy to be over his sister)
100-400 Hellenistic Synagogal Prayers (from J. Charlesworth, "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha"; Part of Books 7-8 of the Apostolic Constitutions)
100-500 Apocalypse of Sedrach
100-900 Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (referred to in Canon of Nicephorus c. 850 AD)

Extra-canonical and Deuterocanonical mainstream Christian literature
50-120    Didache
80-120    Epistle of Barnabas
(Clement Alexandrine & Origen used it, Jerome considered its authorship genuine & Eusebius didn't, Vulgate Bible included it as apocryphal)
80-140    1 Clement
90-218    4 Esdras (Vulgate book numbering) / 2 Esdras (Protestant №) / 3 Esdras (Slavic №)
95-160 2 Clement (Part of Alexandrian Codex; Eusebius doubted its authorial authenticity)
100-150    Apocalypse of Peter (Muratorian canon has it, Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Shepherd of Hermas (included in Codex Sinaiticus; Muratorian fragment says it "ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly"; Clement Alexandrine uses it but notes: "many people despise it")

Fragmentary, or Acceptance Varied, or Category of Heresy Uncertain
50-140    Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel (maybe part of the Gospel of Peter)
50-140    Gospel of Thomas (Hippolytus and Cyril of Jerusalem rejected it as gnostic; scholars debate if and how much it was)
1st-4th c.    Epistle to the Laodiceans (Maybe multiple versions eg. Paul's vs. Marcion's; Vulgate version: Apocryphal in Vulgate Bibles, St. Gregory the Great accepted it, Jerome said "All reject it")
70-120    Egerton Gospel (could be fragments from a rejected gospel that we only have in fragments like g.Peter)
70-200    Fayyum Fragment (too short to tell what writing it belongs to)
c. 79 Sator Arepa Tenet Opera Rotas puzzle (used in medieval Christianity; Scholars consider possible Mithraic, Christian, Saturnalian, or Jewish origins)
80-150    Gospel of the Hebrews (Fragmentary; Used by Origen, Jerome, Didymus Blind, Papias, Hegesippus; rejected by Pseudo-Cyril Jerusalemite & Philip Sidetes as heretical)
100-150    Preaching of Peter (Fragmentary. Accepted by Clement Alexandrine, not counted as genuine by Eusebius)
100-160    Gospel of Matthias/Traditions of Matthias (Clement Alexandrine respects it & Codex Baroccianus lists it as canonical; Eusebius & Gelasian Decree consider it heretical)
100-400    Gospel of Bartholomew / The Questions of Bartholomew (Maybe these Bartholomew works are the same. Rejected by Gelasian Decree. Unsure which category heresy it has, if any)

Messianic Jewish/Judaizers
100-160    Gospel of the Nazarenes/Nazoreans (Jerome used this book by a Torah-observant, theologically orthodox Christian sect; Note: 7th c. Trullo council banned Christians from praying in synagogues)
100-160    Gospel of the Ebionites / ?-250 Gospel of the Twelve (Origen calls the Gospel of the Twelve heretical, Jerome calls it the same as the Ebionites' gospel)

Celibate / Possibly Encratitic
80-150    Gospel of the Egyptians (Clement Alexandrine quoted it as having real Jesus sayings, Origen called it heretical)

Docetic (eg. Jesus only appeared to suffer)
70-160    Gospel of Peter (Including P.Oxy 4009 and P.Oxy. 2949. Rejected by Serapion Antiochene, Eusebius, & Philip Sidetes)

Note:
I also reviewed several gnostic works in this thread: Apocalypse of Adam, Gospel of Eve, Eugnostos the Blessed, Apocryphon of James, and a bit about Sophia of Jesus Christ.

My intent is to go through a few more gnostic texts that I listed in the thread's opening message in the way that I have for the thread's other works, and then to go through the non-gnostic non-Christian texts like Josephus, Pliny the Elder, Mar Bar Serapion, and Seneca, and others like them.

1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,71438.new.html

I appreciate the summary. I only wish it could have come earlier, and with proper html markup.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 06:38:37 PM by mcarmichael »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #277 on: May 23, 2017, 03:50:51 PM »
Thread locked.
Good and messy.

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #278 on: May 25, 2017, 02:20:41 PM »
Thread unlocked for move to Religious Topics.
Good and messy.

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Offline mcarmichael

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #279 on: May 27, 2017, 01:23:02 AM »
So.... What's next for team Zissou?
Free "Tequila" Dave!

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #280 on: February 23, 2019, 07:28:06 PM »
CARM says that Ode 21 gives an interpretation of the coat of skins in Gen. 3. Genesis says what happened after God found that Adam ate Eve's apple:
Quote
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Here is what the ode says:
Quote
2 And I put off darkness and clothed myself with light, 3 And my soul acquired a body free from sorrow or affliction or pains
Perhaps they mean the bit that results because of the passage in Genesis? The "coats" or "garments" of skin in Genesis are, in the eyes of many Fathers, symbolic of the taking on by humanity of hardships, sicknesses, bodily deterioration and grosser processes, etc. after the fall. Our reception of new garments and transformation of our earthly bodies in the afterlife is a reversal of the process humans underwent at the time of the fall, the glorification God had planned for people.
Asteriktos:
I think that CARM was probably referring to this comment by J.R. Harris, since Harris' book is one of the main translations of the Odes. James R. Harris writes in his book on the Odes (p.119): "the writer is assuming a mystical explanation of the 'coats of skin' in the third chapter of Genesis, which are held to represent the ordinary human body which has replaced a body originally clad in light." He notes that Philo and others took this to mean that this passage in Genesis refers to God creating human, material skinly flesh for Adam and Eve, who lacked it before the Fall. For this concept, Harris also looks to Psalm 104:2's description of God, "Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain". He wrote that there are Eastern European and rabbinical traditions about Adam and Eve being covered in light, like God, before the Fall.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 07:28:28 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #281 on: February 25, 2019, 04:11:45 PM »
Dear Rapha,
You wrote about the Odes of Solomon:
I can't find the original Syriac anywhere.
The original Syriac for the Odes of Solomon is here: https://syriaccorpus.org/browse.html?fq=;fq-Catalog:http://syriaca.org/work/8620;fq-Catalog:http://syriaca.org/work/8620&view=title&start=1&perpage=40

Let me please ask for your thoughts on two questions about the words' meaning:
(Question 1) Who is the "she" at the end of Ode 9? Does the author only metaphorically anthropomorphize Truth, Victory, or God's Book, or does he consider it a sentient being (like The Word and Wisdom are)?
Ode 9 is here in Syriac: https://syriaccorpus.org/152#

James Charlesworth translates Ode 9 as saying:
Quote
An everlasting crown is Truth; blessed are they who set it on their head.
It is a precious stone, for the wars were on account of the crown.
But Righteousness has taken it, and has given it to you.
Put on the crown in the true covenant of the Lord, and all those who have conquered will be inscribed in His book.
For their book is the reward of victory which is for you, and she sees you before her and wills that you shall be saved.
I think that this means that God's book sees you before herself.

The 1926 "Forgotten Books of Eden" translation puts "Victory" in parenthesis after "She":
Quote
8. An everlasting crown forever is Truth. Blessed are they who set it on their heads: 9. A stone of great price is it; and there have been wars on account of the crown. 10. And righteousness hath taken it and hath given it to you. 11. Put on the crown in the true covenant of the Lord. 12. And all those who have conquered shall be written in His book. 13. For their book is victory which is yours. And she (Victory) sees you before her and wills that you shall be saved.
It appears that the parentheses are the editor's insertion to show his understanding of "She". Without the parentheses, it looks like "She" refers to "their book" here too, since the book is victory. On p. 103 in his book on the Odes, James Rendel Harris explains that "Victory is personified" in this verse. (https://books.google.com/books?id=TRxVAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA103&dq=%22odes+of+solomon%22+%22ode+9%22+victory+book+%22she%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiFg4edo9HgAhVhUt8KHb2zByAQuwUIMjAB#v=onepage&q=%22odes%20of%20solomon%22%20%22ode%209%22%20victory%20book%20%22she%22&f=false)

I note that the translator wrote "she" instead of "it". In some languages like Spanish or Russian, the pronoun is literally feminine (she) and can refer to an inanimate object (victory or book), but is normally best translated into English as "it" when the pronoun (She or It) refers to an inanimate noun. There are exceptions like when the inanimate noun is anthropomorphized, like here when the book or victory sees you.

The passage overlaps with Revelation 3:4-5 about those who overcome/are victorious ans who walk with Jesus and have their names in his book: "4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

(Question 2) What do the "worlds/aeons/generations" in Ode 12 mean in Syriac? Does the composer describe them in a gnostic way?
Ode 12 (Forgotten Books of Eden translation) says: "8. And by it the worlds talk one to the other; and in the Word there were those that were silent;" In his book, Harris has a note that it might say "aeons" instead of "worlds". Charlesworth's translation says "generations":
Quote
1.    He has filled me with words of truth, that I may proclaim Him.
2.    And like the flowing of waters, truth flows from my mouth, and my lips declare His fruits.
3.    And He has caused His knowledge to abound in me, because the mouth of the Lord is the true Word, and the entrance of His light.
4.    And the Most High has given Him to His generations, which are the interpreters of His beauty,
    And the narrators of His glory,
    And the confessors of His purpose,
    And the preachers of His mind,
    And the teachers of His works.
5.    For the subtlety of the Word is inexpressible, and like His utterance so also is His swiftness and His acuteness, for limitless is His progression.
6.    He never falls but remains standing, and one cannot comprehend His descent or His way.
7.    For as His work is, so is His expectation, for He is the light and dawning of thought.
8.    And by Him the generations spoke to one another, and those that were silent acquired speech.
9.    And from Him came love and equality, and they spoke one to another that which was theirs.
10.    And they were stimulated by the Word, and knew Him who made them, because they were in harmony.
11.    For the mouth of the Most High spoke to them, and His exposition prospered through Him.
12.    For the dwelling place of the Word is man, and His truth is love.
13.    Blessed are they who by means of Him have perceived everything, and have known the Lord in His truth.
      Hallelujah.

Here is the Syriac: https://syriaccorpus.org/155#

The idea of worlds, generations, or aeons speaking to each other doesn't remind me of what I know of orthodox Christian thinking. In the New Testament, "aeons" just refers to periods of time, like "ages", or "eternity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeon)
Strong's Dictionary defines "aeon" as meaning "an age, a cycle (of time), especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age, and of one of a series of ages stretching to infinity." Note Luke 20:35 about the resurrected righteous: "But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (Greek: "aeon"; NIV: "considered worthy of taking part in the age to come"), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:".
In gnosticism, an aeon is an emanation from God and contain a being that conceives of a second aeon, leading to a chain of aeons being created in this fashion. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeon_(Gnosticism))
In Ode 12, it sounds like the Lord gave Christ/the Word to the "generations", which interpret His beauty, narrate His glory, etc. A "generation" is something generated. When it says, "from Him came love and equality, and they spoke one to another that which was theirs", it sounds like God "generated" "love" and "equality", and that these two "generations" speak to each other. It isn't clear whether the "generations" in the Ode are actual beings or only metaphorical ones. But it sounds like they are actual beings or have a real substance of their own, because it says that he gave speech to the ones that were silent (love and harmony normally being understood as silent due to not being considered actual entities) and that "they" (apparently love and harmony) "knew" Him who made them.

Commenting on Ode 7:11,("For He it is who is incorrupt, the perfection of the worlds/aeons and their Father."), The theologian Edwin Abbot writes that the Odes' author, "to some extend personifies the 'aeons,' which indeed he elsewhere (Ode 12 4,8) represents as, some of them, 'speaking' while others are 'silent.' In this personification, he never verges on Gnostic follies, but he uses language that he would hardly have used had Gnosticism appeared distinctly above the horizon. ... As to the nature of the utterer, we may infer a highly original and concrete mind, a poet for whom abstractions were absorbed in personalities... As regards aeons 'speaking' or 'silent,' compare Lactantius on 'silent spirits' whom he differentiates thus from the Word (Inst. iv.8) 'They proceeded from God as silent spirits because they were not created to deliver the teaching of God, but for His service. But though He (ie the Word or Son) is Himself also a spirit, yet He proceeded from the mouth of God with voice and sound...' ...Lactantius... repeatedly quotes Hermes [Trismegistus the hermetic writer] in the preceding context as teaching about the unutterable NAME of the Son... A little later he says 'Trismegistus searched into almost all truth.' But if Lactantius borrowed from Hermes this doctrine, which certainly has a verbal resemblance to the language of the Odes, it raises the question whether our poet too many not have been influenced by what were called in Plutarch's time, 'the books of Hermes.'" (E.Abbot, "Light on the Gospel from an Ancient Poet", 1912, pp.198-199)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 04:13:05 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #282 on: February 25, 2019, 06:23:15 PM »
I can't really read Syriac, in the question you posed before it would be easy knowing the alphabet and having a dictionary and Hebrew knowledge at hand. The first one is off my possibilities. But in the second case the word you're looking for is ܥܠܡܐ. It's cognate to Hebrew עולם (same letters if you ignore the mater lectionis in each word). Both are exactly as ambiguous as Greek αἰών, meaning generation, eternity and world.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #283 on: February 25, 2019, 07:08:39 PM »
Thanks, Rapha.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #284 on: May 09, 2019, 03:05:18 PM »
The Synodal OT is based on the Masoretic Text, which is a different recension from the ones that generated most of the Septuagint. The Vulgate harmonises different versions, but it's mostly Masoretic. If you look at the Church Slavonic, though, it says "И взят бысть Илиа вихром яко на небо", which is the same as the Septuagint.

The Orthodox Church always held the Septuagint in greater esteem than the Masoretic Text, we can look at both once in a while. Fr. John Whiteford has a very nice text about this issue: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/81224.htm
Let me clarify the translation issue here, Rapha.

The Russian Synodal version says:
Quote
2 В то время, как Господь восхотел вознести Илию в вихре на небо
...
11 Когда они шли и дорогою разговаривали, вдруг явилась колесница огненная и кони огненные, и разлучили их обоих, и понесся Илия в вихре на небо.
The Synodal for the Masoretic says "on the heaven" (ie. sky), whereas the Church Slavonic for the LXX says "like on the heaven"(ie. sky). Neither translation appears to specify that Elijah went all the way up into the heaven where God abides. You could argue that to get to God's heaven Elijah had to go through the sky, and so the Masoretic allows for that possibility, whereas in the LXX, Elijah is only carried by a wind as if he were in the sky, without any declaration that he went there.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #285 on: June 14, 2019, 03:50:40 PM »
I went through four non-gnostic Christian Greek language texts (The Didache, Barnabas' Epistle, the Apocalypse of Shedrach, and the Apocalypse of Ezra) and found the best answers that I could to the questions in bold that I asked earlier in the thread. Let me share them with you.

The Didache
<<Does the Didache's version of the Lord's Prayer differ from the Biblical version?>>
The Didache apparently says "Who art in heaven" and "Forgive us our debt" instead of Matthew's version, "Who art in the heavens" and "Forgive us our debts". The Loeb Classics version has the Greek on one side and the English on the other: https://archive.org/details/theapostolicfath00unknuoft/page/320 Some online typed versions that cite Loeb's incorrectly made a typo and dropped "Forgive us our Debt".

<<What do you make of the fact that the Didache does not explicitly mention the Incarnation or the Real Presence in the elements of the Eucharist?>>
I doubt that the silence implies that the mid-first century church lacked these teachings. A better explanation is that the Didache's writings on the topic were not meant as a Catechism, but were meant primarily to teach observances. Phoebe K wrote to me: "the Didiache is not a liturgical or even theological text, rather it is a Church order text, concerned with the proper way of doing things both in Christian life and worship. The text sets out the principles of the common worship life and how to support both present and itinerant ministers."    

Further, the Didache does appear to talk about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and about Christ's Divinity. It says: "2) First, concerning the cup: We thank You, our Father, For the Holy Vine of David Your servant". Calling Jesus the "Vine of David" and saying that this "concerns" the communion "cup" implies to me that Jesus is the vine juice in the cup. Plus, the Anglicans and Reformed Protestants criticized the Catholic Church for referring to the Eucharist as a "sacrifice", but here in the Didache the Eucharist is called a sacrifice.
Kosta wrote to me on the Monachos forum:
Quote
"As far as the communion prayers, later on in the Didache it paraphrases Paul about first reconciling with our brethren before partaking of the "sacrifice". The didache in chapter 14 refers to Communion as the "sacrifice" that takes place on each Sunday (Didache 14:1-2). By 150AD the Church was calling the Eucharist the bloodless sacrifice confirming the real presence... Paraphrasing Matt 21:9 the didache says "Hoseanna God of David". So it acknowledges that the phrase in Matthew "Hoseanna Son of David" is very God."

<<In the last part of the Didache, quoted below, it talks about the Second Coming, but the sequence is confusing. How can one make sense of it?>>

Quote
then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead -- yet not of all, but as it is said: "The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him." Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
The passage appears to refer to Thessalonians 4:14-17, when Paul says that God will bring those who sleep in Jesus, the Lord will descend from the heavens and the dead will rise and then those still alive will go up to the clouds with them. The Didache on the other hand specifies that not all the dead will rise (Thessalonians' passage does not refer to the fate of non-Christians), but rather the Lord will come with the dead saints, apparently citing the passage in Thessalonians.

<<What about the saints' bodies? Were the saints returning to earth from heaven in a bodiless form, and coming back to earth where their bodies were still laying, waiting for them? In other words, if their dead bodies were waiting for them on earth, in what sense were the saints "returning" and why aren't they "resurrected"? Second, isn't it Christ who resurrects the dead, and if so, wouldn't that require the opposite order of events, namely that Christ returned and then he resurrected the dead?>>
According to the Didache's scenario, the saints' bodies are in the ground and then they re-enliven when Jesus and the saints' souls return. The saints returned lacking their physical bodies. They returned in the sense of their souls returning, and they resurrected in the sense of being alive in their living bodies again. The passage doesn't actually deny that the saints resurrected, but rather it apparently interprets Thessalonians' passage about the saints' return to imply that their return won't involve the re-enlivening of those who don't accept Jesus. The passage glosses over Thessalonians a bit, but Yes, the author takes the view that Christ returns with the dead saints and resurrects the dead saints by resurrecting their bodies.

I welcome your own observations and will give the answers about the other three books soon.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 03:53:45 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #286 on: June 14, 2019, 04:16:35 PM »
I went through four non-gnostic Christian Greek language texts (The Didache, Barnabas' Epistle, the Apocalypse of Shedrach, and the Apocalypse of Ezra) and found the best answers that I could to the questions in bold that I asked earlier in the thread. Let me share them with you.

The Didache
<<Does the Didache's version of the Lord's Prayer differ from the Biblical version?>>
The Didache apparently says "Who art in heaven" and "Forgive us our debt" instead of Matthew's version, "Who art in the heavens" and "Forgive us our debts". The Loeb Classics version has the Greek on one side and the English on the other: https://archive.org/details/theapostolicfath00unknuoft/page/320 Some online typed versions that cite Loeb's incorrectly made a typo and dropped "Forgive us our Debt".

<<What do you make of the fact that the Didache does not explicitly mention the Incarnation or the Real Presence in the elements of the Eucharist?>>
I doubt that the silence implies that the mid-first century church lacked these teachings. A better explanation is that the Didache's writings on the topic were not meant as a Catechism, but were meant primarily to teach observances. Phoebe K wrote to me: "the Didiache is not a liturgical or even theological text, rather it is a Church order text, concerned with the proper way of doing things both in Christian life and worship. The text sets out the principles of the common worship life and how to support both present and itinerant ministers."    

Further, the Didache does appear to talk about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and about Christ's Divinity. It says: "2) First, concerning the cup: We thank You, our Father, For the Holy Vine of David Your servant". Calling Jesus the "Vine of David" and saying that this "concerns" the communion "cup" implies to me that Jesus is the vine juice in the cup. Plus, the Anglicans and Reformed Protestants criticized the Catholic Church for referring to the Eucharist as a "sacrifice", but here in the Didache the Eucharist is called a sacrifice.
Kosta wrote to me on the Monachos forum:
Quote
"As far as the communion prayers, later on in the Didache it paraphrases Paul about first reconciling with our brethren before partaking of the "sacrifice". The didache in chapter 14 refers to Communion as the "sacrifice" that takes place on each Sunday (Didache 14:1-2). By 150AD the Church was calling the Eucharist the bloodless sacrifice confirming the real presence... Paraphrasing Matt 21:9 the didache says "Hoseanna God of David". So it acknowledges that the phrase in Matthew "Hoseanna Son of David" is very God."

<<In the last part of the Didache, quoted below, it talks about the Second Coming, but the sequence is confusing. How can one make sense of it?>>

Quote
then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead -- yet not of all, but as it is said: "The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him." Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
The passage appears to refer to Thessalonians 4:14-17, when Paul says that God will bring those who sleep in Jesus, the Lord will descend from the heavens and the dead will rise and then those still alive will go up to the clouds with them. The Didache on the other hand specifies that not all the dead will rise (Thessalonians' passage does not refer to the fate of non-Christians), but rather the Lord will come with the dead saints, apparently citing the passage in Thessalonians.

<<What about the saints' bodies? Were the saints returning to earth from heaven in a bodiless form, and coming back to earth where their bodies were still laying, waiting for them? In other words, if their dead bodies were waiting for them on earth, in what sense were the saints "returning" and why aren't they "resurrected"? Second, isn't it Christ who resurrects the dead, and if so, wouldn't that require the opposite order of events, namely that Christ returned and then he resurrected the dead?>>
According to the Didache's scenario, the saints' bodies are in the ground and then they re-enliven when Jesus and the saints' souls return. The saints returned lacking their physical bodies. They returned in the sense of their souls returning, and they resurrected in the sense of being alive in their living bodies again. The passage doesn't actually deny that the saints resurrected, but rather it apparently interprets Thessalonians' passage about the saints' return to imply that their return won't involve the re-enlivening of those who don't accept Jesus. The passage glosses over Thessalonians a bit, but Yes, the author takes the view that Christ returns with the dead saints and resurrects the dead saints by resurrecting their bodies.

I welcome your own observations and will give the answers about the other three books soon.

I don’t make too much of the variation between the Didache and the Gospel texts.

By the way, you left out something important: the Didascalia.

Council of Nicea:
Εθη ἀρχαῖα κρατείτω. 
Mores antiqui obtineant.
The ancient ways shall prevail.

The sentiment of Nicea in Greek and Latin, translated into English.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #287 on: June 14, 2019, 05:31:39 PM »
By the way, you left out something important: the Didascalia.
Alpha, I read that the Didascalia is commonly dated to the 3rd century. But I'm sure that it's valuable and thank you for your input.
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #288 on: June 14, 2019, 10:17:24 PM »
EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
<<Do you think that the Epistle of Barnabas was actually written by Paul's student Barnabas from Cyprus?>>
It could have been. Scholars commonly date it to c. 70 AD-135 AD because Chapter 16 speaks as if the Temple had been destroyed (which happened in 70 AD) and was going to be rebuilt (there were supposedly plans for this in c.130 AD, but the city was destroyed in c.135 AD). Barnabas might have lived in the range of c.25-115 AD, considering his preaching with Paul. So if the rebuilding of the Temple refers to the plans of 130 AD, then it was written after his lifetime. But the theory that it was written in c. 130 AD is weak because (A) there could have been plans to rebuild it before 130 AD, and (B) the rebuilding of the temple could mean the building of the Church, as the rest of Chapter 16 might explain (eg. "This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord."). Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) and Origen (c. 184 – c. 253) attribute it to the apostle Barnabas. It's hard to be more certain about its authorship than what this evidence gives.

<<Translation Note on Chapter V's suggestion that Psalm 118 refers to the crucifixion.>>
I think that the Septuagint's phrase in Psalm 118, "penetrate my flesh with fear", is a mistranslation of the Hebrew of Psalm 119, which has the phrase "bristle (or 'make erect') my flesh". Apparently the Hebrew word in question is samar, meaning to "bristle" or "go erect" like a hair. (The Strong's Dictionary entry for Samar is here: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/5568.htm)

<<Is the quote below from Chapter VI from "Knowledge" Gnostic or from an Oracle?:>>

Quote
And Moses also says to them, "Behold these things, saith the Lord God: Enter into the good land which the Lord sware [to give] to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and inherit ye it, a land flowing with milk and honey." What, then, says Knowledge? Learn: "Trust," she says, "in Him who is to be manifested to you in the flesh--that is, Jesus." For man is earth in a suffering state, for the formation of Adam was from the face of the earth.  What, then, meaneth this: "into the good land, a land flowing with milk and honey?" Blessed be our Lord, who has placed in us wisdom and understanding of secret things.
No, it's probably not either gnostic or from an oracle. The author cites Moses' promise for the new blessed land, but then asks what Knowledge says. The author means that Moses promised something wonderful about the land, but that the divine wisdom and knowledge that God gave the author tells the author to rely on Christ for salvation. He reasons that Moses' promise cannot be literally true, due to the suffering in the earth. The idea that man is earth in a suffering state appears in Genesis 3:19 ("In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust."). So the Epistle's author concludes apparently that the promise about "land" and its flowing with milk and honey was really a promise about the Blessed Lord and the divine wisdom (the milk and honey) that He bestows. He is probably not quoting the words of "Knowledge" in an oracle or gnostic work, since no such quote from those works is known, and because he generally doesn't quote from gnostic writings and oracles. The idea of divine wisdom is shared in Christianity, and is not limited to gnosticism, and his general theology (eg. Christ's atonement in the flesh) apparently isn't gnostic.
   
<<"Chapter VII discusses an interesting question about which of the two goats sacrificed at the Temple represented Christ, the one on whom the sins were placed and was sent into the desert, or the one who was sacrificed?">>
It appears that Barnabas says that both goats are like Christ.

<<In Chapter IX, the Epistle sees the first letters of the number of people Abraham circumcised (Greek letters I H T) to reflect Jesus Christ's name and the cross. What do you think about this? After all, would the Phoenician-like Paleo-Hebrew letters be the same as the Greek ones for these same words?>>
   First, I think that there really is Gematria in the passage in Genesis. It says that there were 318 servants born in Abraham's household whom Abraham circumcised and brought to rescue Lot, yet later on, Abraham complains to God that his only heir is the only servant born in his household, Eliezer. It's curious because the question arises of why the rest of the 318 circumcised servants born in his household aren't heirs. The Gematria of "Eliezer" is 318 in Hebrew, so it seems that the 318 servants are related to Eliezar in some mystical sense.
   Second, Barnabas reasons that the Greek Digit for 300 is T, for 10 is I, and for 8 is H, and he sees in these digits a pictoral reference to the cross (T), and to the first two letters of Jesus' Greek name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. In the Old Testament, Yahweh's name is sometimes shortened to the first two letters, "YaH", as an abbreviation, so Barnabas is doing something similar with ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. Barnabas' interpretation of 318 is logical, I am uncertain of it for three reasons:
   (A) Genesis was written in Hebrew, rather than in Greek, which didn't become a Lingua Franca until 1000 years later. The Hebrew words composing the 318 in Genesis are: שְׁמֹנָ֤ה Eight, עָשָׂר֙ Ten, וּשְׁלֹ֣שׁ And Three. The Three is written with a Ш, which was also the letter used in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet of Moses' time. So the writer's conclusion doesn't apply to Hebrew. I am skeptical about seeing pictoral and alphabetical meanings in Hebrew texts that rely on the languages into which the Hebrew text was translated. If the same result was found in a rarer language like Polynesian instead of Greek, I think that more people would be skeptical. I don't totally reject the idea of Gematria in the LXX though. The Israelites underwent 430 years of Egyptian slavery, and after they were freed they received the Law, called in Greek "Nomos", whose Gematrical value is 430.
   (B) It's not clear that the Old Testament recognizes the Messiah's name or title as Yeshua/Jesus/ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. "Yeshua" derives from either Yehoshua (Yeho + Shua = Yahweh + Cry for help), or Yesha (Salvation, ישע). In agreement with the first option, Joshua is called both Yehoshua and Yeshua in the Old Testament. But in favor of the second option, note that in Luke the angel says to name Christ "Yeshua"/Jesus, because He will save His people. If the second derivation of Jesus' name is correct, Isaiah 62:11 could treat his name as Messianic when it says: "Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation ('Yishek') cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." But even if the Old Testament didn't openly treat "Jesus" as a Messianic name, one could still make the argument that the Messiah's name could still be found there without the Hebrew authors' knowledge because the authors could have included mystical hints about Him as a result of their divine inspiration and guidance.
   (C) The quantity of digits used is small, and the Messianic interpretation of the passage that uses themt is circumstantial (ie. the passage doesn't explicitly use the numbers as a Messianic name or number). It would feel arbitrary to treat these kinds of numerical combinations as references to Christ whenever they showed up (eg. 3 and 18, or the numbers of other Christian abbreviations like the numbers for X.P. for Christ, I.N. for Jesus of Nazareth, etc.)

<<How would you translate the two sentences in Chapter XII about Christ not being the son of man and not called the son of David?>>
I found an interlinear Epistle of Barnabas, which has:
Quote
    Ἴδε πάλιν Ἰησοῦς, οὐχὶ υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, ἀλλὰ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, τύπῳ δὲ ἐν     
See again Jesus, not a son of man, but Son of the God, a figure but in
   
σαρκὶ φανερωθείς.   
flesh having been revealed.
SOURCE: http://www.embarl.force9.co.uk/Other/Barnabas.pdf
So I would translate it as: "See again Jesus, having been revealed: not a son of man, but Son of God, a figure/model/form, but in the flesh."
I take the ending of this sentence to mean that God appeared in a form in the flesh. That is, God chose to take a fleshly form.
The end of the paragraph goes:   
Quote
Ἴδε, πῶς Δαυεὶδ λέγει αὐτὸν Κύριον, καὶ υἱὸν οὐ   
See, David calls Him Lord, and son not   

λέγει.   
he says
ie. "See, David calls Him Lord, and does not say son."

<<Do you interpret the passage above from Chapter XII as Docetic?>>

No, because in Chapter VI he implied that Christ is a man, taking the Promised Land to refer to Christ because humans are made of earth:
Quote
What, then, says Knowledge? Learn: "Trust," she says, "in Him who is to be manifested to you in the flesh — that is, Jesus." For man is earth in a suffering state, for the formation of Adam was from the face of the earth. What, then, means this: "into the good land, a land flowing with milk and honey?" Blessed be our Lord, who has placed in us wisdom and understanding of secret things.

<<So maybe such phrases in Barnabas like "not a son of man" mean that he is referring to Jesus in his divine nature?>>
Yes. The key to understanding this is 1 Tim 3:16, "God was manifest in the flesh". One wouldn't normally say that people "manifest" themselves in the flesh, because people by nature have flesh, whereas Christ-God took on flesh and manifested himself in it. (ie. Before the incarnation, He was God's Son, and then He became flesh and manifested as the God-Man in the flesh.) It's true that having flesh, humans "manifest" themselves to our eyes with their images, but that isn't what Barnabas 12 means when he says "Not the Son of Man, but the Son of God manifested, a figure/form, but in the flesh." So in referring to the incarnation, one could say that being God, the Son manifested in a fleshly form or figure, and by manifesting in the flesh, he became human. Nonetheless, when he says that the Son of God, rather than the Son of Man manifested, I think that he is making a simplification or writing ambiguously because one could say that fleshly humans also "manifest" themselves to us in fleshly forms. Also, he doesn't deny that Christ was a Son of David, but rather he points out that David didn't call Christ his "son", which Barnabas ascribes to David wanting to point to Christ's divinity.

<<Is the Two Ways doctrine still used in Orthodoxy?>>
Yes, one example being concepts related to the holy day of the Sunday of the Last Judgment. See also Fr. Ted's sermon on the Two Ways: https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/isermon/the_sheep_and_the_goats
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 10:29:01 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #289 on: June 15, 2019, 01:02:29 PM »
APOCALYPSE OF SHEDRACH
<<Is it a Christian sermon and Jewish nonChristian vision or a wholly Christian document?>>
It is probably the latter, since Charlesworth writes persuasively:
Quote
The Christian elements are pervasive: "concerning...orthodox Christians, and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (preface); "his only begotten (monogene) Son" (chp. 9); "and they obeyed neither apostles nor my word in the Gospels" (chp. 14). It is difficult to follow James' suggestion (Testament of Abraham, p. 32; Apocrypha Anecdota, p. 129) that this pseudepigraphon embodies two separate documents, one a homily on love and the other an apocalypse. The connection between these two, which James missed, is that God's actions are motivated mainly by love (chp. 8; cf. outline below).

James Charlesworth, The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 178-179.
Davila said in his 1997 lecture on the Apocalypse of Shedrach:
Quote
[T]he one Greek MS in our possession is full of Patristic and Byzantine language. [Agourides's] arguments under Provenance seem at most to show that ApocSed comes from an unusual form of Christianity that had some knowledge of Jewish themes. The whole text is full of allusions to the NT and early Christian ideas, not just the sermon on love in chapter 1.
(https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/rt/otp/abstracts/apocsed/)

<<What does Shedrach mean when he says that God deposited Shedrach's soul in the womb of his mother in his holy dwelling place since he was born? Does this mean that the human soul pre-exists its physical birth, or that it is implanted into a human womb or into its own fleshly body?>>
It means that God put Shedrach's soul in Shedrach's mother's womb and in Shedrach's fetus, in accordance with  Ecclesiastes 12:7 ("Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.") It doesn't mean that the soul pre-exists its earthly life or not, but just that God puts the soul into the mother's womb and into the fleshly fetal body in the womb. This is like how God implanted Adam's soul into Adam when he breathed life into him.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 01:04:20 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #290 on: June 27, 2019, 05:47:58 PM »
Let me address a question that I asked earlier about the dating of the canonical gospels. The basic issue was whether 1 Timothy's calling Luke's gospel "scripture" helped show that Luke's gospel was a mid-1st century document, or whether 1 Timothy's reference to Gnosticism showed that 1 Timothy itself was a late writing and thus was relevant to showing an early date for Luke's composition. I noted that Wikipedia's comment:
Quote
James M. Robinson, a noted proponent of pre-Christian Gnosticism, has admitted "pre-Christian Gnosticism as such is hardly attested in a way to settle the debate once and for all." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism#Origin_of_the_term)
So I asked:
1 Timothy refers to Luke's Gospel as Scripture. But it also derides "the opposing arguments of so-called knowledge, which some have professed and thus swerved away from the faith". So when did gnosticism and their emphasis on "knowledge" begin?

The answer is that Simon Magus was a 1st century Samaritan gnostic discussed in Acts who interacted with Peter and the apostles. Menander was his successor in the first century, whereas Dositheus was Simon Magus' predecessor/teacher and allegedly knew John the Baptist. I think that the Essenes, Ebionites, or Sabians included 1st century gnostics. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Ebionites:
Quote
Besides these merely Judaistic Ebionites, there existed a later Gnostic development of the same heresy. These Ebionite Gnostics differed widely from the main schools of Gnosticism, in that they absolutely rejected any distinction between Jehovah the Demiurge, and the Supreme Good God.
So the Gnostics included 1st century figures such as those whom I mentioned above.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 05:48:35 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #291 on: July 12, 2019, 06:40:31 PM »
Let me give the answers to the questions I asked about the writings from the Church in Rome: II Clement and the Shepherd of Hermas.

II Clement
<<It's curious. II Clement was quite a respected work in the early Church, yet the text treated an apocryphal gospel as authoritative.>>
II Clement 8:5 runs:
Quote
For the Lord saith in the Gospel, 'If ye kept not that which is little, who shall give unto you that which is great? For I say unto you that he which is faithful in the least, is also faithful in much.'
It is understandable if he quotes an apocryphal gospel, since for example the Epistle of Jude seems to have treated the Book of Enoch as an authority.
On the other hand, I suppose that he could be paraphrasing the Gospels from memory, like the Parable of the Talents, in which the master tells the Servant, "'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."(Matthew 25) It could also refer to Luke 16:10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

<<Do you agree that II Clement's statement that "fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving is better than both"?>>
II Clement is presenting almsgiving as a way to cover sins. The context of the passage is the way to deal with repentance before the Last Judgment. Here is K. Lake's translation in the Loeb Classics Series, which is usually one of the best translations:
Quote
Almsgiving is therefore good even as penitence for sin; fasting is better than prayer, but the giving of alms is better than both; and love ("AGAPE" in Greek) 'covers a multitude of sins,' but prayer from a good conscience rescues from death. Blessed is every man who is found full of these things; for almsgiving lightens sin.
So it is saying that Almsgiving is better than prayer or fasting for repentance/penitence. He is specifically talking about the way to deal with addressing one's sins. With sinning, a person often aims at hurting another person (although sometimes it's aimed at oneself). So almsgiving is a way to address this by making it up to them and helping them materially. I think that this makes sense- a stronger penance than just praying to God is giving out charity. If the writer was just talking in general about the best way to prepare for the Last Judgment, then one might weigh alms vs prayer differently.

<<If we are still conscious after death, why, as II Clement 8 suggests, couldn't we repent or continue our repentance after death?>>
I think that we could. But if it's not possible, then it could be because on one hand the sins of the righteous are absolved, whereas the wicked are focused on their punishment or else the wicked are too evil to repent even if given eternity to do so. Alternately, the state of the afterlife could be such that the state of the person's soul is frozen permanently as good or bad, similar to the analogy of a fired clay pot that II Clement 8 gives.
K. Lake's translation, side by side with the Greek, says:
   "Let us repent then while we are on the earth... For after we have departed from this world, we can no longer make confession or repent any more in that place."
   μετὰ γὰρ τὸ ἐξελθεῖν ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκέτι δυνάμεθα ἐκεῖ ἐξομολογήσασθαι ἢ μετανοεῖν ἔτι.
SOURCE: https://archive.org/details/TheApostolicFathersV1/page/n153[/quote]
You can read it with the Greek here: https://archive.org/details/TheApostolicFathersV1/page/n153
Preobrazhensky's Russian translation has the same sense: "Ибо по отшествии нашем из мира мы уже не можем там исповедаться или покаяться." ie. "we cannot there confess or repent", which means that neither can be done there in the world, since we've departed it.

In the preceding two verses, the author seems to say that in the afterlife God won't fix us any more because our state will be like clay in an oven fire. Here is Lake's translation:
Quote
For we are clay in the hand of the workman; for just as the potter, if he make a vessel, and it be bent or broken in his hand, models it afrash, but if he has come so far as to put it into the fiery oven, he can do nothing to mend it any more; so also let us, so long as we are in this world, repent with all our heart of the wicked deeds which we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have a time for repentance.
The last phrase above implies that there might not be time in the afterlife to repent, either because it would be impossible or because it would be ineffective.

As for whether repentance is actually possible in the afterlife, there are a range of views. On one hand, the Catholic Catechism, citing St. John of Damascus's Exposition of the Orthodox Faith II.4, says simply "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death." (SOURCE: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a12.htm#1035) St. Thomas Aquinas takes the view that the wicked can repent in the afterlife, but he appears to view their repentance as purely pragmatic, regretting their sin as foolish because it led to their punishment, and not because they find the sin immoral. On the other hand, Catholic Straight Answers, quoting St. Faustina, proposes that the wicked do suffer remorse due to their conscience and that this is one of their main punishments:
Quote
Blessed Sister Faustina described hell as follows: “Today I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: The first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience..."
(SOURCE: http://catholicstraightanswers.com/does-hell-exist)
Despite Thomas Aquinas' view that in Wisdom 5 the wicked repented in only a pragmatic way that didn't recognize the immorality of their deeds, it looks to me that in Wisdom 5 the wicked do recognize their wickedness and immorality, as when the wicked say:
   
Quote
We, then, have strayed from the way of truth,
   and the light of righteousness did not shine for us,
   and the sun did not rise for us.
   ...
   Even so, once born, we abruptly came to nought
   and held no sign of virtue to display,
   but were consumed in our wickedness.
   As for whether the repentance can be restorative, on one hand the Catholic and Orthodox Churches rejected Origen's theory of Apokatastasis ("Restoration") that allowed the wicked to be released from their eternal punishment, the Catholic Church teaches that there is a "Final Judgment" and "Eternal Punishment" for the wicked, and so catholic writers today generally seem to reject the idea of the restoration or salvation of the wicked who suffer in hell. On the other hand, St. Maximus (a saint in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches) taught a version of Apokatastasis that he distinguished from Origen's, and some Orthodox scholars suggest the possibility that the wicked might be released from hell.

I don't have much of an opinion, because the afterlife is a realm that is so different from our own current one that it's hard for me to know what it would be like regarding such issues as free will and changes in judgment. For example, even on the question of whether people have free will in the afterlife, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes opposing Catholic views, with most suggesting that the soul goes into a "final state" that would in effect freeze the ability of the wicked to do good, whereas others suggest that the wicked do have that free ability but are deterred from using it due to their suffering. ("Impenitence of the Damned", Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07207a.htm). My guess is that since the person is still alive after death and can do things like pray, get information, praise God, suffer for sins, get rewards, etc. that the person's final state is not really totally fixed and frozen, and that even an extremely wicked person could conceivably also recognize that they did something sinful and regret their sinful mistake at a moral level, and then as a result of this recognition, God could find a supernatural way to save them, as He is all-loving and transcends time and space.
As for the repentance of the righteous in the Afterlife, the Catholic Answers Q&A radio program says that they do continue to repent in the afterlife, since they are aware of their past absolved sins and regret them. But it says that they don't feel the guilt of the sins because they were absolved. (SOURCE: https://www.catholic.com/video/why-cant-the-souls-in-hell-repent)

II Clement used the Greek term Metanoia. According to Strong's Dictionary, the meaning is:
Quote
Usage: repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man.
μετάνοια, μετανοίας, ἡ (μετανοέω), a change of mind: as it appears in one who repents of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done, Hebrews 12:17
(https://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm)
Maybe the Biblical usage is a one-time act, wherein the person committed sin and was dedicated to the sin, but then changed his mind and heart ("repented"), so that he no longer was dedicated to the sin. Once you have performed the action of repenting or changing your mind, you are no longer changing your mind about / "repenting of" your past action, as you have already changed your mind/repented. If my understanding of the Biblical term above is true, II Clement could be expressing the idea that (A) for the righteous person all of whose sins are absolved, he no longer repents (changes his mind), as he doesn't have anything to repent of; and (B) the wicked person in the afterlife doesn't repent or change his mind due to the state of the soul in the afterlife, which is like a clay pot in the potter's oven that can't be remolded any more.
My response to this would be that (A) Maybe a pious person could still be continuing to "change their mind" about their acceptance to their past sins, as they continue to be in the state of repentance of those sins. At Absolution, a priest can ask if the person is sorry for, regrets, repents of their sins, and the person says Yes, that they do in fact regret and turn away from their past sins. They have changed their minds and they continue to be in the state of a changed mind. As for (B), the wicked, it looks like there is a range of views among Catholics on the topic, with some like Aquinas saying that they have repented/changed their mind in the afterlife about the practical wisdom of their actions.

Regarding category (A) the repentant righteous, the Shepherd of Hermas, Commandment IV, Chp. 3, shares the idea that there is no "repenting" of past absolved sins, due to the absolution:
Quote
For he who has received remission of his sins ought not to sin any more, but to live in purity.
...
For those who have now believed, and those who are to believe, have not repentance for their sins; but they have remission of their previous sins. For to those who have been called before these days, the Lord has set repentance. For the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing all things, knew the weakness of men and the manifold wiles of the devil, that he would inflict some evil on the servants of God, and would act wickedly towards them. The Lord, therefore, being merciful, has had mercy on the work of His hand, and has set repentance for them; and He has entrusted to me power over this repentance.
In the passage above, the person no longer repents, either because repenting is a one-time act, like the act of rotating the body and stopping, or because "repenting" is limited to sins for which one remains guilty, and here, the person's sins are absolved.
Sometimes in the Bible, repenting can be an ongoing action, as in Luke 17:4, where Jesus discusses a brother's repenting of sinning against another action:
Quote
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
In the verse above, the brother may have already turned away in his mind and heart from a particular sin that he committed by the time that he announces to his harmed brother, "I repent". But since the turning away or repenting is an ongoing action, he can use the word in the present sense, comparable to "I walk", "I turn", etc. Similar word usage can be found where the terms "regret" or "repent" can be used interchangeable. Thus HELPS Word Studies says:
Quote
metanoéō (from 3326 /metá, "changed after being with" and 3539 /noiéō, "think") – properly, "think differently after," "after a change of mind"; to repent (literally, "think differently afterwards").
Thayer's Greek Lexicon says:
Quote
to change one's mind, i. e. to repent (to feel sorry that one has done this or that...)
So on one hand, forgiven, pious penitents do not repent in the sense of performing a one-time act of turning from sins of which they bear a burden of guilt.
But on the other hand, the forgiven penitents do repent in the sense that they continue to be in a state of repentance (hence "penitents") in the ongoing action of turning or being turned away from their past sin. To use the Word Study above, they continue to "think differently after" ("meta-noieo") their sin.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #292 on: July 13, 2019, 12:56:36 PM »
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS. Book I: Visions
You can find interlinear English-Greek copies of the Shepherd of Hermas here: http://www.embarl.force9.co.uk/Other

<<In his Study on the Shepherd of Hermas, why did Brian Fitzgerald write "A bishop could hardly have written the  Shepherd"? "Because it has visions, combining offices of prophet and pastor?">>
Fitzgerald explains that the document "represents the view also [of] a Roman freedman, socially an ordinary fellow of his age. This is unusual in the patristic tradition wherein most writers are professional theologians, very educated people, and quite often bishops." In other words, the views in it reflect those of a Roman freedman, a socially ordinary fellow, rather than someone like a professional theologian and/or bishop.

<<Did the author (A) directly write down real visions of a Shepherd (his own or those that he heard from a real visionary), or did he (B) deliberately think up his stories and composed them in the literary genre of apocalyptic writings?>>
It looks like there could have been a core part of the narrative that was based on a real dream or vision by the narrator since even a fictional story could be based on an author's dream or vision. But the rest or all of the narrative was apparently deliberately composed. In agreement with Theory (A), the plain reading of the account, taken at face value, is that the visions are real, as the narrator doesn't state otherwise. In general a person could have a vision and then write a longer account directly based on his own real vision. The early 3rd century Christian writer Origen believed that it was really written by the Roman Christian Hermas to whom Paul sends greetings (Rom 16:14). Some early Bibles like the Codex Sinaiticus included it.

In agreement with Theory (B), there was a literary genre in the first few centuries AD of visions involving Christ or angels. A long list of such writings ranged from the Apocalypse of Peter, which Clement of Alexandria respected but Eusebius didn't consider genuine, to the Apocryphon of James, which was found in the mostly-gnostic Nag Hammadi codices. The Unam Sanctam Catholicam website, likely referring to some modern scholars' views, notes: “it is believed the vision is literary and not meant to be a record of an actual apparition". The Shepherd's Contents are arranged in three "Books" (volumes), titled: I. Visions, II. Commandments/Mandates, and III. Similitudes. The text's term in Greek is Parabolai (ΠΑΡΑΒΟΛΑΙ), meaning "Parables", which could hint that the last volume's visions are really allegories or parables. The whole writing took me weeks to read, and it is so detailed, long, and coherent, that it feels more like a deliberate, carefully thought up composition, rather than a literal account of visions that someone either memorized at such length and detail or else transcribed during a literally supernatural and visionary state of mind.
   Further, the author's normal, pre-repentance character was one completely unbelievable and constantly dishonest, as he shows in Book II, Commandment III. The author also apparently believes that dishonesty could be even made worthy of credit, and that if he acts morally, then people should believe his past lies, as he shows in his conversation in that section with the Shepherd:
Quote
And I said to him, "Never, sir, did I listen to these words [about honesty and morality] with so much attention."
   And he said to me, "Now you hear them, and keep them, that even the falsehoods which you formerly told in your transactions may come to be believed through the truthfulness of your present statements. For even they can become worthy of credit.
Additionally, the Muratorian Fragment says that the text was written by Pope Pius I's brother Hermas during his brother's papacy (140-155 AD). Yet in the work, the Shepherd says that Clement should send the Shepherd's instructions abroad, because, he says, this is Clement's duty, seemingly referring to the papacy of Clement I, who died in c.99 AD. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Shepherd concludes that the author knowingly made up this part in order to give the text more authority.
   Another basis to doubt the story's veracity is that the Shepherd also includes questionable statements from the Church's theological POV that might cast in doubt for the Christian reader whether the narrator is describing a real vision of Christ. In Book I:2:3, the Shepherd says apparently tells Maximus that persecution is coming on and to "deny again" if it seems good to him. In Book II, Commandment IV, Chapter I, the Shepherd said that husbands should divorce their wives if the latter persist in adultery, and contrary to Matthew 19:9, the Shepherd says that those same husbands commit adultery if they remarry.
   Finally, the New World Encyclopedia notes that Clement of Alexandria, who treated it respectfully, "repeatedly apologizes, when he has occasion to quote it, on the ground that 'many people despise it.'" Although Tertullian elsewhere treated the Shepherd with respect, in debating Pope Callixtus I, he wrote, "I would admit your argument, if the writing of the Shepherd... were not judged by every council of the Churches, even of your own Churches, among the apocryphal and false." Eusebius in the fourth century characterized the Shepherd of Hermas among the books that he called "Notha", meaning "spurious", "illegitimate", or "false" in Greek, but he also noted, "it has been publicly read in churches". The writers don't get into what they believe is spurious or despised about it, but the term false/spurious suggests that the books is not what it purports to be. That is, the Shepherd purports to be one Hermas' real vision of Jesus, but it isn't actually by Hermas or else it isn't a real vision.

<<In Book I, Vision 2, Chapter 3, Who is Maximus and what denial is the Shepherd talking about? Is the document giving permission to Maximus to deny Christ?>>

Maximus must be a Roman Christian, and the denial must mean denying Christ, because the proposal is made in the context of declaring the onset of persecution/tribulation, and the justification is made that God is near to those who return (ie. after leaving Him), as it says, "Now you will tell Maximus: Lo! tribulation cometh on. If it seemeth good to thee, deny again. The Lord is near to them who return unto Him".

<<Does it sound strange or wrong when in Vision 4, Chapters 1-2  (below), the Church in the form of a woman says that Hermas escaped harm because he didn’t doubt in the presence of the beast?>>
I initially misread this passage as meaning that Hermas escaped harm because he didn't doubt the antiChrist's presence. In the narrative, Hermas gathers his faith when encountering a beast and it doesn't hurt him. The woman explains that the beast was a figure/type of tribulation, and that he escaped harm because he wasn't double-minded / doubting when in the beast's presence. Since his faith protected him, it makes sense that his lack of doubt helped, since doubt can weaken faith. Certainly a person who is strong in faith can be very confident and this can help the person face adversity boldly.
   The narrator describes his encounter with the beast in Book I, Vision IV, Chpt.1 (Roberts' translation):
Quote
I see the dust rising more and more, so that I imagined that it was something sent from God. But the sun now shone out a little, and, lo! I see a mighty beast like a whale, and out of its mouth fiery locusts proceeded. But the size of that beast was about a hundred feet, and it had a head like an urn. I began to weep, and to call on the Lord to rescue me from it. Then I remembered the word which I had heard, "Doubt not, O Hermas." Clothed, therefore, my brethren, with faith in the Lord, and remembering the great things which He had taught me, I boldly faced the beast. Now that beast came on with such noise and force, that it could itself have destroyed a city. I came near it, and the monstrous beast stretched itself out on the ground, and showed nothing but its tongue, and did not stir at all until I had passed by it.
Then in Vision IV, Chapter 2, the woman (the Church) tells him: "You have escaped great tribulation through your faith, and because you were not double-minded when you saw so great a beast." (Lake's translation), or: "You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast."(Robert's translation)
   The teaching in this passage resembles that in Revelation 3:10, in which Christ tells the Christians of Philadelphia, "Because thou didst keep the word of my endurance, I also will keep thee from the hour of the trial (πειρασμοῦ: experiment, testing, calamity, temptation) that is about to come upon all the world, to try those dwelling upon the earth." The Russian theologian Lopukhin interprets this as a particular reward given to the Philadelphian Christians for their patient endurance. One could propose something similar in the narrator's case- that the narrator's faith protected him or that God protected him as a reward for the faith.

<<Does it sounds strange or wrong when in Vision IV, Chapters 1-2, the Church in the form of a woman says that those hear and despise the woman’s words in the passage would be better off not having been born?>> Yes, it seems both, because the document itself is sometimes not credible, and because despite her message, piety did not prevent early Christians from being persecuted. First, in Book I, Vision IV, Chpt.1, the narrator gathers his faith when encountering a beast and it doesn't hurt him. The Church in the form of a woman explains that the beast was a figure/type of tribulation, and that he escaped harm because he wasn't double-minded / doubting when in the beast's presence. Then in Vision IV, Chapter 2, the woman (the Church) tells him:
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5. Go then and tell the Lord's elect ones of his great deeds, and tell them that this beast is a type of the great persecution which is to come. If then you are prepared beforehand, and repent with all your hearts towards the Lord, you will be able to escape it, if your heart be made pure and blameless, and you serve the Lord blamelessly for the rest of the days of your life. 'Cast your cares upon the Lord' and he will put them straight. 6. Believe on the Lord, you who are double-minded, that he can do all things, and turns his wrath away from you, and sends scourges on you who are double-minded. Woe to those who hear these words and disregard/disobey (παρακούσασιν); it were better for them not to have been born."

   Before even getting into the substance of the woman's words in the passage above, it's hard to agree that people who disregard the words would be better off not born because: 1) The document has theological problems, the narrator's admissions of past habitual dishonesty, and justifications for lies, which could all reasonably lead someone to consider the document unreliable. 2) We know that a lot early Christians, including the councils that Tertullian referred to, did disregard the text as "notha" (spurious/false). 
   The woman's message includes: (1) If you are prepared beforehand, repent with all your hearts towards the Lord, if your heart be made pure and blameless, and you serve the Lord blamelessly for the rest of the days of your life, then you will be able to escape the coming great persecution of which Hermas' beast was a prefigurement. (2) God sends scourges on you who are double-minded. 
   There were plenty of famous martyrs from the 1st-2nd century, from Peter in the first to Justin Martyr in the second, and their martyrdom is not considered a result of a failure to repent, have a pure heart, etc. So it seems questionable that such impeccability will allow Christians to escape the persecution. It seems that despite Statement #1, the faithful did suffer persecution, that their confidence when facing persecution actually served as a witness to the strength of their faith, and that their impeccability did not keep them from the persecution, even though their steadfastness did help the Church to survive and grow during the persecution. Finally, no Biblical authority comes to mind that says that God scourges the double-minded in particular. In the Book of Job, God sent scourges on Job regardless of his faithfulness and piety. It seems that contrary to the sense of Statement #2, God sends scourges both on the fully pious and on the double-minded.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2019, 12:57:40 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #293 on: July 14, 2019, 02:32:59 PM »
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS. Book II: Commandment IV
<<"I am confused how Fitzgerald means that Hermas is more lenient than Matthew in not teaching utter sexual abstinence.  Is he saying Matthew advocates abstinence from all sex 'for those who are capable of it'?">>
Fitzgerald is referring to passages like Commandment IV, Chp. 1:
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"I charge you," said he, "to guard your chastity, and let no thought enter your heart of another man's wife, or of fornication, or of similar iniquities; for by doing this you commit a great sin. But if you always remember your own wife, you will never sin..."
Matthew's gospel says that there are people who are totally celibate, but that this teaching is only for those who can handle it, whereas the Shepherd sees "chastity" as a matter of marital fidelity. I think that Fitzgerald is comparing apples to oranges when he says that the Shepherd is more lenient about this; Matthew's passage on total celibacy is just talking about one group whom he calls "eunuchs", whereas the Shepherd is talking about how everyone should be "chaste" by avoiding sex outside of marriage.

<<Isn't that a bit like the 2nd c. Christian "Encratite" sect who demanded pure celibacy?>>
Not if the Encratites advocated total celibacy for everyone. The Encratites advocated total celibacy for their sect, which was separate from the Church.

<<Doesn't Matthew's teaching on divorce contradict the Shepherd's teaching on it?>>
Yes. In Matt.19:9, Jesus says: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." So according to Matthew's gospel, a husband is only allowed to divorce his wife for committing fornication, and does not commit adultery if he remarries. Further, the new husband of the divorced wife commits adultery by having sex with her. In contrast, in Mandate IV, Chp. 1, the Shepherd goes beyond the gospel's directions and requires the husband to divorce his wife if she commits adultery. On top of that, if either the husband or the wife would remarry, the one who remarried would find themselves in adultery, according to the Shepherd's scheme.
   Let's say that the husband and wife in the Shepherd's scenario get divorced. One might normally think otherwise that this means there is no more marriage. But it seems that in the Shepherd's viewpoint, the marriage still somehow secretly exists. And then let's say the wife marries her new lover. In the eyes of the Shepherd, this means she is in adultery with her new lover, and not only betrayed her old spouse.  If she repents of that old betrayal, this text suggests that she should marry her ex-spouse as part of the repentance. But hasn't she already made a new, binding marriage? The text's answer seems to be that the new marriage is invalid due to the previous one, since Matthew 19 says that those in the new marriage commit adultery with eachother due to the last one.

<<Do you think that it was a common teaching to divorce one's spouse if they become pagan?>>
No. I haven't heard of stories of early Christians divorcing the lapsed and it isn't a teaching that I know of as part of Church doctrine. In the case of people whose spouses do not believe, Paul instructs them to stay with their spouses:
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   1 Cor. 7:12: "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away."
   1 Cor. 7:13: "And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him."
   Paul does not get into the issue of what created the situation where one spouse believed and the other did not, ie. Whether: (A) The spouses were unbelieving, but then one became a believer. (B) A believing spouse married an unbeliever in violation of 2. Cor 6:14, or (C) The spouses were believing, but then one of them fell away. If Paul is talking about (C), then his instructions for them to stay together violate a potential rule for the believer to leave his non-believing spouse. Taking what Paul wrote here at plain value, Paul would be talking about A, B and C, since he didn't mention an exception.
   Mandate IV, Chapter 1 has this conversation with the Shepherd:
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"...This is the course of action for wife and husband."
9. "Not only," said he, " is it adultery if a man defile his flesh, but whosoever acts as do the heathen is also guilty of adultery, so that if anyone continue in such practices, and repent not, depart from him and do not live with him, otherwise you are also a sharer in his sin.
10. For this reason it was enjoined on you to live by yourselves, whether husband or wife, for in such cases repentance is possible."
The Shepherd must only be talking about physically living apart from the lapsed spouse, because he adds at the end of his instructions regarding the lapsed spouse, "for in such cases repentance is possible." If he emphasized at the end that he is enjoining single living "for"/"because" repentance from apostasy is possible, then it wouldn't make as much sense for him to demand divorce for apostasy. There would be no point in him adding this explanatory footnote at the end that repentance for apostasy being possible if his basic point was to legally divorce someone who apostasized. Repentance being possible is not a reason "for" someone to legally divorce another person considering how intense a break Christianity treats divorce. But repentance could be a reason for someone to live apart as it could stimulate repentance. In that case, what the Shepherd means by calling apostasy "adultery" is that it is adultery in only a spiritual sense, and not in a legal, canonical sense that would require someone to legalistically apply the Shepherd's concept of adultery as grounds for divorce.

<<Does the Shepherd of Hermas teach in Commandment IV, Chapter 3 that baptized Christians cannot more than once successfully perform the combination of sinning followed by repentance?>>
It says that the sinner has only one repentance after the baptism, and that further repentance will be of no "avail" (Lightfoot) or won't be "profitable" (Lake). This implies a potential contradiction between (A) there being no repentance after the first one, and (B) repentance beyond that being unprofitable/to no avail, since statement (B) implies that futher repentance exists, but is unprofitable. The resolution in terminology must be that there are two definitions of repentance (A) "profitable" repentance, and (B) repentance that may or may not be profitable. The Shepherd's evidence for this is that after their first post-baptismal repentance they will have difficulty living. Lake's translation says:
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"I will yet, sir," said I, "continue to ask."
   "Say on," said he.
   "I have heard, sir," said I, " from some teachers that there is no second repentance beyond the one given when we went down into the water and received remission of our former sins."
   2. He said to me, " You have heard correctly, for that is so. For he who has received remission of sin ought never to sin again, but to live in purity.
   3. But since you ask accurately concerning all things, I will explain this also to you without giving an excuse to those who in the future shall believe or to those who have already believed on the Lord. For those who have already believed or shall believe in the future, have no repentance of sins, but have remission of their former sin. 4. For those, then, who were called before these days, did the Lord appoint repentance, for the Lord knows the heart, and knowing all things beforehand he knew the weakness of man and the subtlety of the devil, that he will do some evil to the servants of God, and will do them mischief. 5. The Lord, therefore, being merciful, had mercy on his creation, and established this repentance, and to me was the control of this repentance given. 6. But I tell you," said he, "after that great and holy calling, if a man be tempted by the devil and sin, he has one repentance, but if he sin and repent repeatedly it is unprofitable for such a man, for scarcely shall he live."
   7. I said to him, " I attained life when I heard these things thus accurately from you, for I know that if I do not again add to my sins I shall be saved." "You shall be saved," said he, "and all who do these things."
Lake's footnote says that this passage might refer to Hebrews 6:4-6. But the passage in Hebrews is specifically referring to the difficulty in repenting for those who "fall away", ie. apostasize.
   Fitzgerald's observation about the Shepherd's message implies that actually repentance after repeated combinations of sinning and repenting could still have some benefit, since the result is different from no repentance at all. Fitzgerald writes: "Yet where those who do not repent die, those who repent often might live, albeit with difficulty. … Although severely discouraged, repenting often might still save, if only barely. This last point is left rather vague, however."  (st-philip.net/files/Fitzgerald%20Patristic%20series/shepherd_of_hermas.pdf)

<<Is the teaching in Mandate 4.Chapter III about repenting more than once heretical?>>
In his essay “Second Repentance” in the Early Church:  The Influence of The Shepherd of Hermas, R.A. Baker says that this was a common view in the early Church. Baker says that Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian held to a position that was similar, and they rejected the efficacy of repenting again for mortal sins committed more than once after baptism. (http://www.churchhistory101.com/docs/Hermas-2ndRepentance.pdf) Tertullian did not even accept the efficacy of repenting again for a single adultery committed after baptism. But on the contrary, note Jesus' instructions in Matthew 18 to forgive a repeatedly offending and repenting brother 70 X 7 times, along with Cornelius Lapide's commentary below on the verse wherein Augustine and Origen apply Jesus' teaching on repeated forgiveness to their own time:
   
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Appositely says S. Augustine, “He sins once, I forgive. He sins a second and a third time, I forgive. He sins a fourth time: he must be chastised. Let us correct by words, and if need be, by stripes. But let us forgive the offence, let us put away the fault from our memory, that even though some discipline be imposed for love’s sake, gentleness may not depart out of our heart.” This number will be far greater, if with Origen we take the words exactly. For Christ said not, seventy times and seven times, but seventy times seven, that is to say four hundred and ninety; as it is clearly in the Greek, έβδομηκοντάκις έπτά. So many times does Christ wish us to forgive a penitent his offences. According to this meaning there will be an allusion to the seventy weeks of Daniel. For these make four hundred and ninety years which elapsed from the decree for rebuilding Jerusalem unto Christ, by whom there is full remission of all sins. See what I have said on Daniel ix. 24.
From the Sacrae Theologiae Summa pgs. 430-431: <<Trent in sess. 14 cn. 1 (D 1701) defined that in the Church there is the sacrament of Penance "to reconcile the faithful with God as often as they fall into sin after baptism.">>  Frequent confession was the practice of the time when the Council of Trent was held in the Catholic Church.

<<How does this strict rule against multiple combinations of sinning and repenting compare with the instructions to Maximus to deny the faith?>>
If one accepts that that the instructions are fine and that it is not sinful to deny under persecution, then the rule is not in contradiction. The Shepherd in the story is giving the instructions to Maximus to "deny" because God loves those who return, and the Shepherd notes that tribulation (persecution) is coming on. If you accept that this text and this passage are really God-inspired writings, then you can reconcile them by saying that denying Christ under persecution isn't sinful. On the other hand, if you think that it's a sin to deny Christ even under persecution, as was the main view in the early Church, then the Book's denial of repentance after sinning just compounds the passage's error. It reminds me of the issue in Martin Scorsese's Silence, where a portrait of Jesus seems to tell the protagonist to deny Christ in order to avoid persecution. The voice is the voice of his master in Portugal, so even the movie seems to cast doubt on this actually being Christ's voice.

<<Where have you heard about Christians commonly delaying baptism in the early Church until the converts were near death?>>
The magazine Christianity Today says:
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Constantine waited until death drew near to be baptized as a Christian. His decision was not unusual in a day when many Christians believed one could not be forgiven after baptism. Since the sins of worldly men, especially those with public duties, were considered incompatible with Christian virtue, some church leaders delayed baptizing such men until just before death.   
https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/rulers/constantine.html
Wikipedia's article on Baptism says about the 3rd and 4th centuries AD:
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    By then, postponement of baptism had become general, and a large proportion of believers were merely catechumens (Constantine was not baptized until he was dying); but as baptisms of the children of Christians, using an adaptation of the rite intended for adults, became more common than baptisms of adult converts, the number of catechumens decreased.   
WIKIPEDIA CITATION:  "Catechumen", Encyclopædia Britannica
I note that this seems to suggest that in the 1st century, and for while in the 2nd century, delaying baptism perhaps hadn't yet become general.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #294 on: July 15, 2019, 03:09:17 PM »
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS. Book II: Commandments IX-XII
<<What do you think about the Shepherd of Hermas’ passages about wavering in prayer and about doubts?>>
In Book II, Commandment 9, the Shepherd says:
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4. Therefore purify your heart from all the vanities of this world, and from the words which were spoken to you before-hand, and ask from the Lord, and you shall receive all things, and shall not fail to obtain any of your petitions, if you ask from the Lord without doubting. 5. But if you doubt in your heart, you shall receive none of your petitions. For those who have doubts towards God, these are the double-minded, and they shall not in any wise obtain any of their petitions.
It seems like there are many cases where people who waver or are doubtful minded receive their petitions. One example could be the time when the petitioner in the gospel asked Jesus to heal his child while recognizing his own doubt, saying “I believe, help my unbelief”(Mk 9:24). The Greek term for unbelief in Mark 9 is ἀπιστίᾳ, which literally means "no faith". The doubter in that case recognized his own doubt, asked Jesus to help his unbelief, and then once Jesus helped his unbelief, Jesus healed his child. There are many accounts of doubting people asking Jesus directly for help even after the Ascension and getting their prayers answered positively. So while the Shepherd sounds categorical in declaring that "they never obtain any of their petitions", it appears that sometimes they do obtain the petitions. The essay "Qué hacer cuando uno tiene dudas de fe" (What to do when one has doubts about the faith) on the Info Catolica blog says: "Before all, do not neglect praying until the faith is given by God." However, if God never answered the prayers of the double-minded, then the advice to pray would not be especially helpful, as the prayers would never be answered, such as by God helping the person's faith. The passage in The Shepherd is related to James 1:6-8, which says:
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6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
However, whereas James only says not to let the double-minded person think that he will receive anything, the Shepherd goes beyond James 1 in declaring categorically that the person will never receive anything.

<<Is double-mindedness or wavering "an earthly spirit, from the devil" as The Shepherd of Hermas says in Commandment IX?>>
Wavering or being Double-minded as to whether God exists and hears one's prayer is rejected by James in his Epistle. However, Double-Mindedness per se must not be an evil spirit from the Devil, because it is practically correct in some situations, like discerning whether a prophet, preacher, or his teachings are correct.
   The Greek word for "Double-mindedness" is δίψυχος (pronounced "dipsuchos") from Di (two) + Psuchos (Soul), It is synonymous with the terms "of two minds" or "wavering". The only places in the Bible that use the Greek word are James 1:8 & 4:8. First in Chapter 1:6-8, James discusses how to make prayer requests. In so doing, he makes a character description, saying that a person who is double-minded is unstable about everything. He doesn't actually say that the person won't receive anything, but rather that you shouldn't let him think that he will. Next in Chapter 4:1-10, James says that people's prayers aren't answered because they make requests out of their "lusts" (meaning natural, sensual pleasures). He says that "friendship of the world is enmity with God", and that the "spirit (in Greek: pneuma) that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy". Finally, he gives an exhortation that includes: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you", and "purify your hearts, ye double minded". While James opposes a "spirit that lusts to envy", he doesn't seem to specify that this lustful "spirit" includes a wavering personality or double-mindedness. In contrast, The Shepherd of Hermas seems to put these ideas together and conclude that "double-mindedness is an earthly spirit from the devil", a conclusion that I think does not necessarily follow from James' statements.
   To give an example of Double-mindedness is not necessarily wrong is how one could say that collectively, the early Church was double-minded about The Shepherd of Hermas. It was included in some early Bibles, and Clement of Alexandria used it respectfully as a writing source, but he noted that "many despise" it. Eusebius listed it among the books that were "notha" (spurious, false). Rutherford Platt Jr., in The Lost Books of the Bible, writes that "Jerome... applauded it in his catalogue of writers, [but] in his comments upon it afterwards, terms it apocryphal and foolish."
   A good reason to be "double-minded" about the document is that while on one hand it advocates faith, it also has the "Shepherd" tell "Maximus" that persecution is coming on and to deny the faith again if it seems good because, "The Lord is near those that turn to him". Ironically, this instruction arguably encourages double-mindedness (Maximus' loyalty + open denial under persecution), and does so in a way that few Christians would consider to be holy instructions from Christ.
   It looks like the statement that it comes from the devil refers to double-mindedness in general, because the Shepherd says that "they who are perfect in faith... are double-minded in nothing." This creates a difference from James' position: James severely criticized double-minded personalities and double-mindedness in prayer, but he did not criticize double-mindedness per se.
   While the Bible and the Church encourage faith and discourages doubt about the basics of the faith, many issues in the world are complex, and that a double-minded or wavering attitude might apply helpfully to some situations. Discernment and skepticism are useful in addressing potential false preachers and false prophets. The Shepherd himself in Mandate XI warned against false prophets with a false spirit that "speaks according to the lusts of man", and "is earthly and light". But there are times when a person has not yet discerned whether a spirit or preacher is good or not, along with preachers that have both good and bad views, and so it seems that double-mindedness is better than either credulity or total rejection of everything that the preacher says.
   Consider an example where a kid wants to push a button to make a piece of candy appear. If he presses the red button, there is a 60% chance that the candy will come. So he pushes the button, and while he can believe that the candy will appear, he will have some doubt, since there is 40% chance that it won't. There are plenty of instances in real life where people don't have all the available information and have to make a judgment, evaluation, or decision, knowing that they have incomplete information. As a result, they can be wisely double-minded when they make their judgment, knowing that they could be mistaken due to their incomplete information or their own weaknesses in solving puzzles.

<<What do you think about the Shepherd's claim in Book II, Commandment 10 that the prayers of sorrowful or mournful people don't go to God?>>
First, the text does not actually say that the prayers don't go to God, but rather that they don't go to God's altar. Further, the author of the Shepherd is certainly drawing from James 1 that tells people to count tribulation as all joy, and from Revelation 8:3 about the angel who delivers prayers from the saints to God's altar. A reader could interpret the passage in Book II, Commandment 10 this way: Sorrow is good when it causes a bad person to repent. A person who repents can become joyful. But the prayers of a sorrowful person do not go to the altar of God, and therefore, the person is always acting badly in two ways: his affliction afflicts the Spirit and his prayers are weak and are not received at the altar of God. At the same time, the author does not deny that God hears the prayers, or that He can respond to them.
   A major weakness in this passage is that the author does not reveal the basis for his assertion that the prayers of the sorrowful are not received at the altar. The reasoning appears to be that a holy person should become joyful in tribulation, per James 1, and that it is the prayers of holy people who go to God's altar (since Rev. 8:3 describes the prayers of saints going to the altar), and therefore people who don't become joyful aren't saints and their prayers don't go to the altar. While the author is basing his assertions on James 1, even James does not declare these conclusions. On the contrary, Psalm 51:17 says: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." With this kind of wording, calling the broken spirit a "sacrifice", the language in the Psalm is certainly using images associated with the altar. The Gospels portray Jesus grieving:
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John 11 (on Jesus' mourning over Lazarus): "34. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they answered. 35. Jesus wept. 36. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
Luke 19:41: "As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it".

<<Book II, Commandment 11 complains that there are non-heathen false prophets who frequently repent. Don’t you think frequent repentance is actually a good thing?>>
Yes of course, and certainly in the view of the Church today it is. Book II, Mandate 11 (Lake's translation) says: "But as many as are double-minded, and constantly repent, practise soothsaying, like the heathen, and bring greater shame upon themselves by their idolatry." The passage seems to be complaining about false prophets who present themselves as holy but actually doubt and frequently switch between sinning and repenting, thereby showing that they are not really holy. Maybe it is not really specifying that the frequent repentance is wrong, but rather that the frequent sinning that requires it undermines the person's authority.

<<Is the passage below from Book II, Commandment 11 saying that there are spirit beings that go into a person and the divine ones speak freely but the nondivine one only speaks when it is asked?>>
Yes. Here is Lake's translation:
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For he who asks a false prophet concerning any act is an idolator, and empty of the truth and foolish. 5. For every spirit which is given from God is not asked questions, but has the power of the Godhead and speaks all things of itself, because it is from above, from the power of the Divine spirit. 6. But the spirit which is questioned and speaks according to the lusts of man is earthly and light, and has no power, and it does not speak at all unless it be questioned."
   …
   Test the man who has the Divine Spirit by his life. 8… he who has the spirit which is from above… gives no answers to anyone when he is consulted, nor does he speak by himself (for the Holy Spirit does not speak when a man wishes to speak), but he speaks at that time when God wishes him to speak. 9. Therefore, when the man who has the Divine Spirit comes into a meeting of righteous men who have the faith of the Divine Spirit, and intercession is made to God from the assembly of those men, then the angel of the prophetic spirit rests on him and fills the man, and the man, being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks to the congregation as the Lord wills. 10. Thus, then, the Spirit of the Godhead will be plain.

<<Does this description of the difference between prophets with non-Divine spirits and those with Divine spirits sound correct?>>
No. Regarding instances of (A) prophets with divine spirits, there are cases when the divine spirits initiate declarations without being questioned, as with the apostles at Pentecost. I can't think of instances when divine spirits in people were questioned directly and answered directly, but it seems logical. In the Old Testament, people met God, angels, and inspired prophets, questioned them, and got direct answers. Regarding (B), false prophets with false spirits that are questioned and answer according to the lusts of man, those spirits must certainly initiate declarations without questioning if they are of the kind that also answer questions. If the author is talking about demons, then there are certainly cases in the Bible and in Tradition when demons spoke in people without first being questioned, like Jesus' encounters with them when he cast them out. If the author is talking about charlatans who knowingly present themselves as having supernatural spirits when they don't, then there are also plenty of cases when the charlatans initiate declarations without first being questioned. Finally, if the author is talking about sects with false beliefs led by prophets with dishonest spirits, then there are also certainly plenty of cases in history when such spirits initiated declarations without first being questioned. Think of how many heretical sects there are with mututally exclusive beliefs founded or led by false prophets claiming to be led by spirits. Besides, it doesn't make sense that as a rule false spirits in false prophets would only speak when questioned directly. If that were the case, then it seems unlikely that someone would know that a prophet had a spirit of some kind to question, since the spirit would have never said anything to anyone before they were questioned for the first time.   

<<The document has numerous commandments like cleansing oneself from grief. Do you agree with Commandment 12's assertion that Christians, who are fallible, can succeed in keeping all the Shepherd's commandments such that they won't need to repent of violating them?>>
I have two basic objections to making salvation dependent on obeying the commands:
(1) Some of the Shepherd’s commandments go beyond the New Testament commandments or even contradict them. (eg. Jesus said that if a person’s spouse commits adultery, then the person can divorce him/her and remarry. In Commandment 4, The Shepherd not only demands that a person whose spouse commits adultery divorce the adulterer, but adds that if the person who gets cheated on remarries, then he/she commits adultery via his/her new marriage.) , I don’t think that the Church would make people’s salvation dependent on things that went beyond the New Testament or did not involve the issue of sinning. The Church probably encourages some mourning, like with the Stations of the Cross, and it probably sometimes encourages marriages hurt by disloyalty to remain together.

(2) In Commandment 4, the Shepherd rules out more than one repentance for sinning after baptism. Christians get a “second chance” at spiritual purity, but they don’t get a third or fourth chance. So the document’s scheme raises a central question of whether Christians can go without ever sinning. Avoiding sin is in Commandment 8, where the Shepherd instructs: "Refrain from evil, and do not do it, but do not refrain from good, but do it." I feel that Brian Killian’s commentary is good regarding this issue.  I think that it’s possible, but it doesn’t seem usually realistic for people in general, because it seems like extreme achievement, like always getting a perfect score on SATs taken 20 years in a row, or climbing Mount Everest with no fractures or passing out 50 times in 50 years. There are so many challenges that people face in the real world due to outside forces like problems in one’s upbringing, miseducation, hostility and aggression from one’s opponents, that it doesn’t seem realistic to expect a normal healthy person born into the world and baptised as an infant to live their whole life without ever sinning with no 3rd or 4th chances at repentance. Anyone who really knows children well should understand this.  Canon XVIII of Session VI of the Council of Trent (which is not an orthodox council) says, “If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to keep, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, let him be anathema.” Brian Killian writes about the Canon XVIII from Trent above:
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Right after it is affirmed that observing the commandments is indeed possible, the text explains itself like this: “For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able;” Here is the recognition that there can be, in one and the same subject, both something that is possible (“what thou are able”), and something that is impossible (“what thou art not able to do”). There are areas where our will is truly free, and there are areas where our wills may be weak and perhaps in bondage to forces we cannot easily control. For those things that we are not able to do, we are commanded to pray so that God may turn our impossibility into possibility, weakness into freedom. This brings us to the next point, bridging this chasm between what is possible and impossible.
SOURCE: https://wherepeteris.com/with-man-all-things-are-possible 1
There is a similar tension or issue in the Biblical writings. 1 John 5:2 says: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome”. But 1 John 1:7-8 says: "7. ...the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." So John recognizes a responsibility and an ability to keep God's commandments, since they are "not burdensome", but it also recognizes Christians' sins and failure to always keep all of the commandments.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 03:11:03 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #295 on: July 16, 2019, 08:25:26 PM »
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS. Book III: Similitudes
<<In the passage below in Book III, Similitude V, Chapter 6, the writer talks about God's Son, the holy, pre-existent spirit that created every creature, and the flesh in which He dwells. Does the passage teach (A) Adoptionism, or (B) just refer to Jesus' Ascension to God's right hand when it says that God took him up as a councillor and assumed/took up the flesh as the "spirit's" partner?>>
I believe that it refers to (B), God taking Christ up to His right hand as a Councillor and taking up Christ's flesh as a partner with Christ's Spirit in the Ascension.
   I filled in the likely nouns with question marks behind the pronouns in the passage in Robert's and Donaldson's translation below. Other things in brackets are placed by the translators.
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    "Hear," he answered: "the Son of God is not in the form of a slave, but in great power and might." "How so, sir?" I said; "I do not understand." "Because," he answered, "God planted the vineyard, that is to say, He created the people, and gave them to His Son; and the Son appointed His angels over them to keep them; and He Himself purged away their sins, having suffered many trials and undergone many labours, for no one is able to dig without labour and toil. He Himself, then, having purged away the sins of the people, showed them the paths of life by giving them the law which He received from His Father. [You see," he said, "that He is the Lord of the people, having received all authority from His Father. ]
   And why the Lord took His Son as councillor, and the glorious angels, regarding the heirship of the slave, listen. The holy, pre-existent Spirit, that created every creature, God made to dwell in flesh, which He [God?] chose. This flesh, accordingly, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, was nobly subject to that Spirit, walking religiously and chastely, in no respect defiling the Spirit; and accordingly, after living excellently and purely, and after labouring and co-operating with the Spirit, and having in everything acted vigorously and courageously along with the Holy Spirit, He[God?] assumed it[the flesh?] as a partner with it[The pre-existent holy Spirit?]. For this conduct of the flesh pleased Him, because it[the flesh?] was not defiled on the earth while having the Holy Spirit. He took, therefore, as fellow-councillors His Son and the glorious angels, in order that this flesh, which had been subject to the body without a fault, might have some place of tabernacle, and that it might not appear that the reward [of its servitude had been lost ], for the flesh that has been found without spot or defilement, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, [will receive a reward ]."
The holy, pre-existent "Spirit" that made all creatures is actually the same as the Son's own Spirit, because the passage talks about the pre-existent spirit "dwelling" in Christ's "flesh", but the passage nowhere otherwise explicitly mentions that the "Son" or the "Son's Spirit" dwells in this same "flesh". The only thing "dwelling" or incarnated in the flesh in question that is mentioned is the holy, pre-existent "Spirit". This reminds me of how John 1 refers to the Logos (the second Person of the Trinity) as the creator of everything that became flesh and "dwelt" among us.
Let me break down the passage. For this I will list the statements from the passage first, using K.Lake's translation since it is one of the better ones, and you can compare it to Robert's about. Then below each statement I will give you my own paraphrase in parentheses.
   
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    But listen why the Lord took his Son and the glorious angels as counsellors concerning the heritage of the servant.
    (ie. Listen why after His son's suffering God took the Son up into heaven where He sits with the angels like a councillor on God's right hand, and regarding the inheritance that people get from Christ because He was a slave.)
    The Holy Spirit which pre-exists, which created all creation, did God make to dwell in the flesh which he willed.
    (The pre-existent Word that as John 1 said was made to dwell among us in flesh.)
    Therefore this flesh, in which the Holy Spirit dwelled, served the Spirit well, walking in holiness and purity, and did not in any way defile the spirit. When, therefore, it had lived nobly and purely, and had laboured with the Spirit, and worked with it in every deed, behaving with power and bravery, he chose it as companion with the Holy Spirit;
    (Christ's flesh was subject to His spirit and acted righteously along with Christ's divine mission, and thus God chose/took -the Greek term is εἵλατο, meaning "chose" or "took"- this flesh, as a partner with Christ's spirit. The "taking" here could be like the "Assumption"/"Taking Up" of the Virgin Mary whose body was "Taken" up to heaven.)
    for the conduct of this flesh pleased him, because it was not defiled while it was bearing the Holy Spirit on earth. Therefore he took the Son and the glorious angels as counsellors, that this flesh also, having served the Spirit blamelessly, should have some place of sojourn, and not seem to have lost the reward of its service.
    (The Son's flesh's conduct pleased God, and therefore Christ ascended and God took the Son and the angels as councillors on His right hand so that Christ's flesh could have a place to stay.)
Lake comments in a footnote about the phrase "he chose it as companion with the Holy Spirit": "The meaning is apparently that the flesh (ie. the human being?) in which the Spirit had been incarnate, was elevated to be the companion, for the future, of the Father and of the Son who is the Spirit."
God's taking of Christ's flesh, which had suffered, as a companion for Christ's Spirit and making Christ His councillor so that the flesh would have a place of sojourn reminds me of Acts 1, wherein God lifted up Christ to stay in heaven on His right hand.
I think that what happened is that the scholars who thought that the document was Adoptionist didn't understand that the "pre-existent", "holy" "spirit" here is Christ's own spirit, not the Third Person of the Trinity. And they thought that the "assumption" or "taking up" referred to the moment of Adoption, rather than to the flesh's assumption up into the resting-place of heaven.
Bogdan Bucur, in his essay "The Son of God and the Angelomorphic Holy Spirit: A Rereading of the Shepherd’s Christology", gives special attention to his theory that the Shepherd refers to the Son of God as the holy "Spirit". As for the parable in Similitude V,5, wherein a master has a son (Christ, the holy Spirit) and also has a slave (Christ the suffering servant), Bucur says that the parable was not meant primarily as a Christological illustration, but rather as a moral story about fasting, and so one should not read it in a strict way as depicting God's Son as a separate person from Christ the servant. Bucur writes:
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Yet, how can both the “slave” and the“son” in the parable represent the Son of God? The solution consists in assum-ing the coexistence of a “servant Christology” similar to that of Phil 2, and a“Spirit Christology.” When the text speaks about the incarnate Christ and hiswork of redemption, it uses the character of the slave; when it speaks aboutChrist as God’s eternal counselor, the chief of group of the first-created angels(cf.  Sim.  9,12,2),  the  latter  is  identified  as  “holy  spirit.”  The  awkwardness consists in the use of two distinct characters of the parable to designate the two aspects of Christ. Henne explains it as the unfortunate result of squeezing aChristological meaning out of a parable that was initially about fasting.
(B. Bucur, "The Son of God and the Angelomorphic Holy Spirit", https://www.marquette.edu/maqom/bogdan2.pdf)

<<Can you identify and distinguish "the Holy Spirit" and "the Son of God" in the passage below (Bk.III, Similitude 9, Chapter 1)?>>
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"After I had written down the commandments and similitudes of the Shepherd, the angel of repentance, he came to me and said, I wish to explain to you what the Holy Spirit that spoke with you in the form of the Church showed you, for that Spirit is the Son of God. For, as you were somewhat weak in the flesh, it was not explained to you by the angel."(3.9.1)
The "Holy Spirit" in the passage refers to Christ the Son of God's own holy "Spirit". So the passage is saying that the "Holy Spirit" in question both spoke in the form of the Church (Christ's body) and is the "Son of God" (a common name for Christ). Potential confusion in the minds of modern readers between the Third Person of the Trinity (called "The Holy Spirit" in the Nicene Creed) and the document's references to Christ's "Holy Spirit" arise partly from the fact that in the Greek of this period, letters were not distinguished between capital and lowercase, and because after the Council of Nicea, Trinitarian concepts became more clear and the "Holy Spirit" became more formalized as a title for the 3rd Person of the Trinity. By comparison the Shepherd of Hermas uses the term "holy spirits" as a common noun rather than as a name in another place (Book III, Similitude IX,13). References to Christ's personal "Spirit" working in people show up in the New Testament, which says that Christ's "Spirit" is in the apostles (Rom. 8:9), "the Spirit of the Lord" works in people (II Cor. 3), and that "the Spirit of Christ" in the prophets pointed to His future (1 Peter 1:10,11).

<<What kind of salvific luxury is the Shepherd talking about in Book III, Similitude VI, Chp. 5?>>
K.Lake’s translation in the Loeb series is put next to the Greek and says: "But there are also luxuries which bring men salvation, for many who do good luxuriate and are carried away with their own pleasure." Lightfoot's translation of the entire verse says: "But there are habits of self-indulgence like-wise which save men; for many are self-indulgent in doing good, being carried away by the pleasure it gives to themselves. This self-indulgence then is expedient for the servants of God, and bringeth life to a man of this disposition; but the harmful self-indulgences afore-mentioned bring to men torments and punishments; and if they continue in them and repent not, they bring death upon themselves." Roberts and Donaldson's translation has a footnote to these Psalms:
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    Psalm 4:6-7:     There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.    Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
    Psalm 119:14:    I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
    Psalm 84:10:     For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

<<According to the Seventh Similitude, does God punish innocent heads of households for their children's sins and not the other way around?>>
In this Similitude, a punishing angel afflicted the narrator as head of his household for his household's sins, and not the other way around. (ie, the angel did not punish the narrator's children for his sins, which the Shepherd said were not so great). The Shepherd tells the narrator that he punished the narrator, not because of the narrator's sins, but in order to punish his household, which had greatly sinned, and thereby to bring them to repent and to purify them. The Shepherd claims that this is the only way to punish the narrator's household, because, he claims, "when you are afflicted, of necessity they also suffer affliction; but if you are in comfort, they can feel no affliction." But the passage doesn’t say how many other households there have been that God has punished in this way.

<<Does the Seventh Similitude say that God must afflict the penitent and doesn't altogether remit their sins?>>
Basically, Yes. The Shepherd openly claims that the fully repentant are not forgiven immediately and must still be afflicted. A case in point is that the Shepherd (Christ) knows that the family repented with all their heart, but the Shepherd (Christ) still says "you must be afflicted".

<<Does the Seventh Similitude’s discussion sound right regarding God’s punishing innocent heads of households for their children's sins and afflicting the penitent without altogether remitting their sins>>
In Similitude VII, the Shepherd says that the narrator, Hermas, is being afflicted because punishing him is the only way to punish Hermas' household for their sins. The document does not say why there is no other way to punish them, but there must be something special about the household that he heads that creates this condition (eg. the only thing that they care about on earth could be Hermas). Hermas' household is fully repentant, yet the angel says that even the penitent must still be punished. This reminds me of the Catholic concept of Purgatory, whereby even the pious repentant are punished or chastened with affliction in the afterlife before being delivered to Heaven. In Orthodox Christianity, there is an idea that even though a person has sinned and been absolved, they still may have to experience the natural consequences of their sin (eg. a drunken driver could still have to deal with cleaning up his car's mess in a crash). Other theories are the penitent can still be afflicted in order to help prevent them from repeating their mistake, to humble them, to show others that their action was wrong, in order to make restitution (eg. by paying compensation), as part of penance (eg. spending extra time on charity work), etc.

<<What do you think about its claim that getting mixed up in business and heathen friendships darkens, corrupts, and dries you up?>>
   Here is Roberts’ and Donaldson’s translation of the relevant passage in Book II, Commandment 10:
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Those who have never searched for the truth, nor investigated the nature of the Divinity, but have simply believed, when they devote themselves to and become mixed up with business, and wealth, and heathen friendships, and many other actions of this world, do not perceive the parables of Divinity; for their minds are darkened by these actions, and they are corrupted and become dried up. Even as beautiful vines, when they are neglected, are withered up by thorns and divers plants, so men who have believed, and have afterwards fallen away into many of those actions above mentioned, go astray in their minds, and lose all understanding in regard to righteousness; for if they hear of righteousness, their minds are occupied with their business, and they give no heed at all.
   In the passage above, the Shepherd is talking about people "who have never searched for the truth, nor investigated the nature of the Divinity, but have simply believed" but then become mixed up in pagan friendships. Such people, he reasons, don't understand the divine parables because they have not really looked into the ideas of the faith and are immersed in friendships with pagans who don't believe the Christian teachings. Their close pagan friends, combined with their lack of studying the teachings keep them from understanding the parables and their minds are darkened and they dry up spiritually. I think that this is logical as a generalization or major tendency from a Christian POV.
   Then in the Eighth Similitude, Chapter IX, the Shepherd is only talking about those who live among pagans and get rich, become arrogant, and abandon the faith, not about everyone who lives among pagans. Here is Lake's translation:
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1. And those who gave up their sticks two-thirds dry, and one-third green, these are they who were faithful, but became rich and in honour among the heathen ; then they put on great haughtiness and became high-minded, and abandoned the truth, and did not cleave to the righteous, but lived together with the heathen, and this way pleased them better. But they were not apostates from God, but remained in the faith, without doing the works of the faith.
   2. Many, then, of them repented, and their dwelling was in the tower.
   3. But others lived to the end with the heathen, and were corrupted by the vainglory of the heathen, and were apostates from God, and did the deeds of the heathen. These were reckoned with the heathen.

<<What do you think about its claim in the Fourth Similitude that “they who are occupied with much business commit also many sins”? Is the Ninth Similitude giving too severe a warning against being immersed in much business?>>
The Shepherd's warning is based on Jesus' Parable of the Sower, in which the Sowers' seeds fell in different places, like among thorns. Jesus explained this part of the parable in three of the gospels this way:
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Matthew 13:22: He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
   Mark 4:19: but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
   Luke 8:14: And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
The Orthodox theologian Lopuhin wrote in his commentary on Matthew 13:22 that
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Under 'the care of this age', one should understand the usual constant business of people and cares in their struggle for existence, which differ by varying character and are performed with the help of different means in different ages.
An example in the gospels that come to mind is Jesus' advice to seek the Kingdom of God first and not to worry about what one will eat or wear because birds eat without storing grain and lilies are beautiful without spinning clothes.(Matthew 6:26-34) Here it is not the objects - grain and clothes - that Jesus is warning against, but rather he is saying not to worry about them. So my conclusion is that in the Parable of the Sower, the "cares of the world" refer to such worries about earthly things.
   The Shepherd of Hermas apparently exceeds the warning that earthly worrying chokes out God's word. In the passages below, the Shepherd warns that getting mixed up in much business leads to sin, and that persistently being mixed up in much, various businesses leads to death from black-clothed spirits, chiefly Unbelief, Impurity, Disobedience, and Deceit.
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   Book III, the Fourth Similitude:
   And refrain from much business, and you will never sin: for they who are occupied with much business commit also many sins, being distracted about their affairs, and not at all serving their Lord.

Ninth Similitude (Chapter XV), [the Shepherd gives the names of women whom the narrator saw wearing black raiment]:
   3. Hear, also," said he, "the names of the women who have black raiment. Of these also four are more powerful. The first is Unbelief, the second Impurity, the third Disobedience, and the fourth Deceit; and those who follow them are called Grief, Wickedness, Licentiousness, Bitterness, Lying, Foolishness, Evil-speaking, Hate. The servant of God who bears these names shall see the Kingdom of God, but shall not enter into it."

   Ninth Similitude, Chapter XX.1-4 (K. Lake's Translation):
   1. "And from the third mountain, which has thorns and thistles, are such believers as these. Of them are those who are rich and are mixed up with many affairs of business, for the thistles are the rich, and the thorns are those who are mixed up with various affairs of business.
   2. These then who are engaged in many and various businesses do not cleave to the servants of God, but are choked by their work and go astray. And the rich cleave with difficulty to the servants of God, fearing that they will be asked for something by them. Such then 'will enter with difficulty the kingdom of God.'
   3. For just as it is difficult to walk with naked feet among thistles, so it is also 'difficult' for such men 'to enter into the Kingdom of God.'
   4. But for all these there is repentance, but it must be speedy, that they may now retrace their days and the omissions of former years, and do some good. If then they repent and do some good they will live to God, but if they remain in their deeds they will be delivered to those women, and they will put them to death.
   One difference is that in Jesus' parable, the thorns seem to be the worries/cares of the world ("He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world... choke the word". Matt. 13), but in the Shepherd of Hermas, the thorns are a group of believers themselves ("the thorns are those who are mixed up with various affairs of business" Sim. IX. Chp. XX).
   And another difference is that in Jesus' parable, the worries/cares of the world (ie. earthly worrying) choke up the seeds and make them unfruitful, whereas the Shepherd goes beyond this and proposes that just persistently being mixed up in worldly affairs leads to death from Unbelief, Impurity, etc., although the "death" could be spiritual death.
   I think that this rule could apply in some cases, where some people disregard their spirituality and instead just focus on the many businesses that they are involved in. But it seems to me that if someone gets mixed up in business like the Shepherd is talking about, it could be due to what is nowadays called an intense "work ethic." Some people it seems to me are able to balance much business with their spiritual life like Church attendance and charity. They are not really greedy, intent on getting rich or have a love of money. On the other hand, Donald Riddle tries to put this teaching in the context of Christians' economic opportunities and status in pagan Roman society in his article, “The Messages of the Shepherd of Hermas: A Study in Social Control.” He says that in this period, Roman society was experiencing economic growth and some people from the lower classes were becoming the "New Rich". He says that this would have affected the Christian community, which spread across Rome's economic classes. Riddle comments that while the religious group was becoming socially integrated, Hermas didn't want believers to be burdened by real property during the onset of persecution, and didn't want the believers to side with the city (Rome) because of the integration. Riddle writes that Hermas didn't want the adherents to lose their "allegiance to the ideal values. Should he cleave to the economic group, and by this cleavage adopt the loyalties and attitudes of this group, there would ensue that disruption of the integrity of the religious group which Hermas fears."
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 08:33:17 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #296 on: July 29, 2019, 05:29:04 PM »
Let me give the answers to the questions from the non-gnostic texts that scholars think came from Egypt (The Apocalypse of Peter, Preaching of PeterQuestions of Bartholomew, Testaments of Isaac and Jacob), as well as the Docetic text, Gospel of Peter, which was probably written in Syria, although sections of it were found in Egypt.

APOCALYPSE OF PETER
<<M.R. James suggested that translating the Arabic version would helps us tell whether the original version had a passage on universal salvation. But I couldn't find an Arabic version in English online.>>
The Arabic translation doesn't help me on this issue, because the Arabic version differs enough from, and is later enough than, the Ethiopic and Greek versions to answer such questions about the original Greek text.

<<What do you think about the passage in the Apocalypse of Peter that implies that all sinners will be eventually be saved? Does this imply that their suffering in the afterlife would be something like the Catholic concept of purgatory? If so, is does this passage attempt to give an explanation of why the text has a late date (in the late 1st - mid 2nd century) of publication and isn't in the Bible?>>
   I was referring to this passage that M.R. James described and quoted:
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And my Lord answered me and said to me: 'Hast thou understood that which I said unto thee before? It is permitted unto thee to know that concerning which thou askest: but thou must not tell that which thou hearest unto the sinners lest they transgress the more, and sin.' [Peter weeps many hours, and is at last consoled by an answer which, though exceedingly diffuse and vague does seem to promise ultimate pardon for all:]
   It turns out that scholars generally think that the long passage about keeping the vision a secret and about universal salvation that I was asking about is a separate story, written centuries later as a continuation of the Apocalypse of Peter. I had taken it from M.R. James' translation, and he had begun this section with the heading "There is a great deal more of the Ethiopic text, but it is very evidently of later date; the next words are:"
   R. B. Bauckham explains that in the Ethiopic manuscripts, the Apocalypse of Peter forms the first part of the work called "The Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead." He writes that the Apocalypse of Peter
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is readily distinguishable from the secondary continuation which has been attached to it and which begins: 'Peter opened his mouth and said to me, 'Listen, my son Clement.'" [Its] relevance... is that [it refers] to the secret mystery revealed by Christ to Peter, of the divine mercy to sinners secured by Christ's intercession for them at the Last Judgment. In particular this is the central theme of the... work, 'The Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead,' and was presumably inspired by the passage about the salvation of the damned in ApPet 14... The other prominent feature of the teaching is the emphatic insistence on the need to keep the eschatological mercy of God for sinners hidden from sinners in this life, since this would rob the threat of damnation of its essential deterrent function in their lives. [It] is closely linked with exegesis of Psalm 30:20, and fulfils the apologetic function of explaining why universal salvation is not clearly taught in Scripture.)
   (SOURCE: R.B. Bauckham, The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses)
   In the passage above, Bauckham refers to Chapter 14 of the Apocalypse of Peter, which in the earliest fragment found, the 3rd century Rainer Fragment, runs:
   
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Then will I give unto my called and my chosen whomsoever they shall ask me for, out of torment, and will give them a fair baptism in (or unto) salvation from the Acherusian lake which men so call in the Elysian field, even a portion of righteousness with my holy ones. And I will depart, I and my chosen, rejoicing, with the patriarchs, unto mine eternal kingdom, and I will perform for them the promises which I promised them, I and my Father which is in heaven.
   (SOURCE: M.R. James' translation in The Journal of Theological Studies)
   Bauckham translates the Rainer Fragment's passage similarly:
   
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Then I will grant to my called and elect ones whomsoever they request from me, out of the punishment. And I will give them [i.e. those for whom the elect pray] a fine baptism in salvation from the Acherousian lake (which is, they say, in the Elysian field), a portion of righteousness with my holy ones.
   Jason Pratt notes that the Ethiopic version refers to baptising the "peoples" in the Elysian Fields, and that the Elysian Fields were a pagan concept. Since the "peoples" were undergoing baptism, it seems that the reference is to the salvation of non-Christian peoples, because Christians would already have been baptised. (Pratt, Answer to "Does 'Apocalypse of Peter' show UR in the Early Church?", https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/does-apocalypse-of-peter-show-ur-in-the-early-church/3067/8)
   Bauckham explains the thinking underlying Chapter 14 this way:
   
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The justice of the punishment of the persecutors is a justice owed primarily to the persecuted. But in that case it is a punishment that can be remitted if the martyrs themselves desire mercy for their persecutors. ... So if it is for his people's sake that God must punish their oppressors, then for his people's sake (as SibOr 2:355, interpreting ApPet 14, states) he can save those for whom they desire mercy... One obstacle to universal salvation - that of which the apocalyptic tradition, because of its origins in situations of injustice and persecution, was most aware - is effectively removed by the compassion and forgiveness of the saints. Other obstacles are not considered, and it is not, of course, actually stated that salvation will be universal, but as extensive as the compassion of the elect.
   
   Some part in the origin of this idea must have been played by Plato, Phaedo 114A-B, according to which a certain class of sinners, who have committed serious crimes but are curable, can escape from torment into the purifying waters of the Acherusian lake only by seeking and obtaining forgiveness from those they have injured... But it is tempting to guess that the idea found a home in a Christian apocalypse because of its coherence with the Christian tradition of forgiveness for enemies and especially of the martyrs' forgiveness for their persecutiors. If the martyrs, instead of predicting their persecutors' punishment in hell, prayed for their forgiveness, then surely (it would have been thought) they will do so all the more when their erstwhile persecutors beg their forgiveness and itnercession on the Day of Judgment.

<<How do you explain Jesus' rebuke to Peter for offering to build tents for Him, Elijah, and Moses?>>
   The account is based on the Gospels' story of the Transfiguration. There, Moses and Elijah talk to Jesus, and in Luke 9:33 records: "Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, 'Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah'—not knowing what he said." In the Gospel story, Jesus does not respond to Peter's offer to make booths or tabernacles.
   The idea in the passage that God does not have a house made with human hands shows up in New Testament passages like Acts 7:48-50, which runs:
   
Quote
However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands. As the prophet [Isaiah] says: ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or where will My place of repose be? Has not My hand made all these things?’
   A related passage is 2 Cor. 5:1, which runs: "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."
   In the Ethiopic text of the Apocalypse of Peter, the disciples go up with Jesus to the Holy Mountain and see two shining men there, Moses and Elijah. The disciples ask about the other righteous fathers. Peter recounts:
   
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And he showed us a great garden, open, full of fair trees and blessed fruits, and of the odour of perfumes. The fragrance thereof was pleasant and came even unto us. And thereof (al. of that tree) . . . saw I much fruit. And my Lord and God Jesus Christ said unto me: " Hast thou seen the companies of the fathers? As is their rest, such also is the honour and the glory of them that are persecuted for my righteousness' sake."

   And I rejoiced and believed [and believed] and understood that which is written in the book of my Lord Jesus Christ. And I said unto him: "O my Lord, wilt thou that I make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias?"

   And he said unto me in wrath: "Satan maketh war against thee, and hath veiled thine understanding; and the good things of this world prevail against thee. Thine eyes therefore must be opened and thine ears unstopped that a tabernacle, not made with men's hands, which my heavenly Father hath made for me and for the elect." And we beheld it and were full of gladness. And behold, suddenly there came a voice from heaven, saying: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased:"
The sense is that whereas Peter wanted to build tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, Peter's understanding had been shut by Satan, since the tabernacle or house of God (Christ being God), is not made by hands.

In his 1994 essay, "A Jewish Christian Apocalypse", about the Apocalypse of Peter, Bauckman explains that the account is not actually of the Biblical Transfiguration, but rather a post-resurrection meeting with Moses and Elijah that is based on the Transfiguration story. Bauckman notes that following Peter's statement about the tabernacles, Jesus opens Peter's eyes and Peter sees the tabernacle not made by hands. Bauckman writes: "By this double revelation - of the tent not made with hands and of Jesus as God's son - the veil Satan has cast over Peter's mind is removed and he is shown the truth."
   Further, the voice from heaven opens Peter's ears by revealing that Jesus is God's Son. Hence, He is a divine being whose house is not an earthly tabernacle.

<<How do you explain that Peter in his vision sees angels and people with flesh in heaven?>>
They are apparently righteous persons who were raised in the flesh during Christ's crucifixion. The passage from the Apocalypse of Peter runs:
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And a very large, very white cloud, came over our heads and took away our Lord, Moses and Elijah. I trembled and was terrified. We looked up [and saw] that the heaven opened, and we saw people in the flesh. They came to meet our Lord, Moses and Elijah, and they went into the second heaven. And the words of scripture were fulfilled: "This generation seeks him; it seeks the face of the God of Jacob". [Ps 23:6 LXX] There was great fear and great terror in heaven, and the angels flocked together, so that the words of scripture might be fulfilled, which says: "Open the doors, O princes!" [Ps 23:7, 9 LXX] Then that heaven which had been opened was closed.
   To understand this passage, R.B. Bauckman looks to Psalm 24, the "scripture" cited in the passage. Bauckhman comments:
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Jesus, Moses and Elijah are joined, in the first heaven, by «people in the flesh», and proceed, accompanied by them, into the second heaven. These «people in the flesh» are then identified as the people to whom Psalm 23:6 (LXX) refers. The importance of this reference lies in the fact that in the psalm the reference is to the people who are able to enter God's presence in the temple (v. 3). The author of the Apocalypse of Peter has taken this to be the heavenly sanctuary, in which God dwells in the highest heaven.

   [Jesus enters the heavenly sanctuary,] of course, along with the people in the flesh. Whereas Justin and Irenaeus, who quote only v. 7-10 of the psalm, speak only of the angelic doorkeepers of heaven admitting Jesus the king of glory into heaven, the author of the Apocalypse of Peter, by referring also to verse 6 of the psalm, finds in it a depiction of Jesus' taking with him those who are permitted to ascend to God's heavenly sanctuary. In this way his portrayal of the ascension is able to bring together all three themes of the earlier revelations on mount Zion [in the Apocalypse of Peter]: the true people of God who will be glorified with the patriarchs (15:2-16:6), the true temple in heaven which the Father has made for Jesus and his elect (16:7-9), and the true Messiah Jesus (17:1). In his ascension, the Messiah takes his people with him into the heavenly temple.

       But who are the «people in the flesh» who meet Jesus in the first heaven? They must be righteous people of the past whom Jesus in his descent to Hades and his resurrection delivered from death. Other second-century texts attest the view that many ofthe righteous dead left Hades with Christ at his resurrection(OdesSol 42:11) and ascended to heaven with him at his ascension (Asclsa 9:17; cf. Origen, Comm. in Rom. 5:10). According to a saying which occurs quite widely in patristic literature, he descended alone but ascended with a great multitude (Acts of Thaddeus, ap. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc!. 1.13.20; Melito, New frag. 2.17; Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. Lect. 14.18; Ps.-Ignatius, Trail. 9; Armenian Acts of Callistratus 9). Moreover, there is good evidence that originally the conception was of an actual resurrection of dead people with Christ. Language normally reserved for bodily resurrection is used (Ignatius, Magn. 9.2; Melito, Peri Pascha 101; New frag. 2.12, 15; Origen, Comm. in Rom. 5:10; Irenaeus, frag. 26, which connects this resurrection of the saints with Matt 27:52). So the Apocalypse of Peter's reference to «people in the flesh» is entirely in line with this tradition. Presumably they are envisaged as having risen from the dead with Christ at his resurrection, and then, during the period of his resurrection appearances to the disciples, waiting in the first heaven until they can ascend with him through the heavens.
   SOURCE: R.B. Bauckman, The Apocalypse of Peter, 1994, https://preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1994_bauckman_apocalypse-of-peter-a-jewish-christian-apocalypse.pdf
   Bauckman is citing Matthew 27:52, which says: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose". Among other patristic writers, Bauckman cites St. Ignatius' Epistle to the Magnesians, in which Ignatius asks rhetorically, "[H]ow shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, having come, raised them from the dead."
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 05:39:05 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #297 on: July 31, 2019, 02:17:40 PM »
THE PREACHING OF PETER
<<What do you think about the identity and reliability of the Preaching of Peter and the difference from the Kerygmata Petrou?>>
(A) The "Preaching or Peter" is the title of a lost text that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and a few other early Church writers cite. Clement of Alexandria refers to it repeatedly in such statements as: "And in the preaching of Peter you may find the Lord referred to as law and word." (Miscellanies 1.29) Origen referred to it, saying: "It is too much to set forth now the quotations of Heracleon taken from the book entitled The Preaching of Peter and dwell on them, inquiring about the book whether genuine or spurious or compounded of both elements..." (Origen, On John 13.17) Since Heracleon quoted it in c. 175 AD, the Preaching of Peter must be from that time or earlier. Some scholars think that Aristides based one of the passages in his Apology (120-130 AD) on the Preaching's passage about how the Jews served the angels and months, which would make the Preaching of Peter older than c.130 AD. Certainly it appears that the Preaching's and Aristides' passages are closely related, with one being based on the other. Clement of Alexandria respected it, but Origen makes it sound quite unreliable. (He said that if someone wants to use the book called in Latin the "Teaching of Peter", then "it must first be responded to that person that this book is not held among the ecclesiastical books, and [then] demonstrated that it was written neither by Peter nor by any other one who was inspired by the spirit of God.") But since it isn't certain that the Teaching of Peter and Preaching of Peter are the same book, and since Origen did not go ahead and demonstrate that neither Peter nor another inspired writer created it, so the case is not closed on the question.
(B) The "Kerygmata Petrou" is a title that modern scholars appear to use for a theorized text from about the third century that they propose was a foundation for the 4th century Clementine Recognitions and Clementine Homilies. The theorized document is incompletely reconstructed based on quotations from the Clementines such as, "Then Peter: 'As to the mixture of truth with falsehood, I remember that on one occasion He, finding fault with the Sadducees, said....' (Homilies III 48-52)

<<Does the passage about the 12 year period of preaching only in Israel sound correct? Didn't Peter go to Antioch in the 12 years after the resurrection?>>
The passage is found in Clement of Alexandria's Stromata: "Therefore asserts Peter that the Lord said to the Apostles: 'If any one of Israel should repent and by my name believe in God, his sins shall be forgiven him. After twelve years go forth into the world, that no one may say: 'We have not heard.'" (Stromata VI, 5, 43.) The Apostles must not have had a strict rule about limiting preaching to Israel in the first 12 years of the resurrection. First, in the Great Commission Jesus said to preach the Gospel first in Israel, but he did not give a time frame for the initial preaching to Israel. Second, Paul, Mark, and Barnabas preached in the Eastern Mediteranean (Cyprus, Cyrene, Damascus, Asia Minor) within the 12 year period (Acts 11), but their preaching might not conflict, because the 12 years could have only been directed at the 12 Apostles. Third, it looks like Peter evangelized in Antioch during the twelve year period, since a traditional date for his founding of the See of Antioch is 34 AD. Plus, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that he evangelized in Antioch before moving to Rome, and scholars consider that he moved to Rome in c.41- January 43 AD. However, Peter's stay in Antioch wouldn't violate the 12 year preaching rule if the the rule was not meant as a categorical restriction on limiting the preaching to Israel. Fourth, Rainer Riesner supports the 12-year preaching theory by considering Peter's arrival in Rome (c.42 AD) to be about 12 years after Jesus' resurrection, which he dates to c.30 AD. The twelve years' difference is interesting, but is not very strong evidence considering that he had already been preaching in Antioch. Finally, Riesner notes that the Apostles didn't chose a replacment for the James who was killed by Herod, so he theorizes that the "12 Apostles" were specially selected for preaching to Israel and that they didn't choose a replacement because the 12 years were over. While plausible, there could have been other reasons for this. Maybe he named a bishop as his successor someplace and it wasn't recorded in the Bible. Or even if they apostles' dispersement abroad was the reason that they didn't name a replacement, the timing of that dispersement might not have been based on a 12-year rule.

<<what does The Preaching mean when it mentions the Jews (A) "serving angels" and (B) "serving the month and the moon"?>>
The passage runs:
   
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Ben Smith's Translation:
   Neither worship him as do the Jews, for they, who suppose that they alone know God, do not know him, serving angels and archangels, the month and the moon, and if no moon be seen they do not celebrate what is called the first sabbath, nor keep the new moon, nor the days of unleavened bread, nor the feast, nor the great day.

   Graham Stanton's Translation:
   Neither worship God in the manner of the Jews; for they also, who think that they alone know God, do not understand, serving angels and archangels, the month and the moon. And when the moon does not shine, they do not celebrate the new moon or the feast of unleavened bread or the feast (of Tabernacles) or the great day (of atonement)...
   It's worth noting that another early writing, The Apology of Aristides, says something similar about the Jews: "whereas by their mode of observance it is to the angels and not to God that their service is rendered:--as when they celebrate sabbaths and the beginning of the months, and feasts of unleavened bread, and a great fast; and fasting and circumcision and the purification of meats, which things, however, they do not observe perfectly." (Apology, Section XIV)
   (A) Serving the angels could refer to the Jews' observance of the Old Testament, which was given through angels, or it could refer to a cult among the Jews for venerating angels.
Rev. Herbert Lucas comments:
   
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This charge against the Jews of serving angels rather than God, suggests such passages as Col. ii. 16,18, where Jewish observances are mentioned in connection with a 'religion of angels;' and again, Heb. ii.5: 'For God hath not subjected to angels the world to come,' ie the world under the New Dispensation. The fundamental idea underlying the Apostle's words seems to be that the Old Dispensation having been communicated to men by the ministry of angels [Gal 3:19], to adhere to the old ordinances after the ministry of angels, to adhere to the old ordinances after the establishment of the New Covenant is in a manner to prefer angels to God Himself. (Source: The Month, Vol. 72.)
   Galatians 3:19 says that the Law "was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." Colossians 2:16-18 goes:
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    16. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
    17. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
    18. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind...
Lopuhin comments about Col.2:18:
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In what exactly this service to angels consisted of is unknown, but, obviously, the false teachers performed in their honor some kinds of rituals (this is indicated by the meaning of 'service' with the term thriskia). This service was rooted in some regions of Asia Minor so much that in the year 365, the fathers of the Laodicean Council threatened an anathema for adhering to it.
   (B) Serving the months and moons refers to special observances among the Jews in honor of the months and the moon's visible cycles.
   Graham Stanton comments in his essay "Worship: Pliny and the Kerygma Petrou" that the reference in the Preaching of Peter (which he calls the Kerygma Petrou)
   
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to the shining of the moon as a pre-requisite for the celebration of the first Sabbath, the new moon, and the three great annual festivals is elucidated by the Mishnaic tractate, Roch ha-Shanah 1.1-3.1. At the time the Kerygma Petrou was written, and probably until the first half of the fourth century AD, the duration of each month (and hence the date of the festivals) was not fixed in advance; it had to be determined by observation of the new moon's appearance by trustworthy witnesses. If the sky was covered by clouds, then the new moon could not be hallowed. Following formal declaration of observation of the new moon, messengers were sent to the diaspora. According to rabbinic traditions which are difficult to date, if the messengers did not reach the diaspora in time for Passover, Tabernacles or the Day of Atonement, an additional festival day could be observed in order to provide for doubts.
    The author of the Kerygma Petrou would not have bothered to comment in detail and to pour scorn on these practices unless he and his readers knew about them at first hand. We do in fact have evidence which confirms that it was the general practice in synagogues of the diaspora to celebrate new moons and the annual festivals, as well as the Sabbath.
   Stanton notes that in Galatians 4, Paul complained about the Galatians' past service of non-deities and their turning to "observance" of months:
   
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    8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
    9. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
    10. Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
   Stanton writes that the polemic against observance of sabbaths and months goes back to Isaiah 1:
   
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    13. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
    14. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
   In The Antenicene Pascha: A Rhetorical History, Karl Gerlach writes:
   
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Beyond the seven-day rhythm of the sabbath, the basic unit of the Hebrew calendar was the month, whose inaugural day, the sighting of the new crescent, was accomplished by ritual acts unique in the ancient world. With the conservatism that marks virtually all ritual practice, these rites would remain stable even as calendrical knowledge might have been absorbed from Babylon or Egypt, especially as they involved community participation in dighting the elusive new crescent. Thus while the weekly and yearly cycles of Hebrew timekeeping were modified as they were adopted into Christianity, the monthly cycle with its 'moongazing' could become an easy object of anti-Judaic polemic. The Talmud records a hallowing ritual for first century Palestine. Witnesses, for whom banquets were prepared to insure their eager attendance, gathered for the hallowing of the new moon in a large courtyard in Jerusalem called Beth Yazeq, and R. Gamaliel the Elder ordered that they be permitted to walk within two thousand cubits on the Sabbath. There was a brief liturgy: the chief of the court would say, 'It is hallowed,' which was repeated twice by the people.

<<Are you familiar with the Greek writers to whom Clement of Alexandria is referring?>>
Clement is referring to two Hellenic writings in particular, the Sibylline oracles and the writings of Hystaspes, when Clement writes that Paul "distinguished the most excellent of the Greeks from the common herd, saying: Take also the Hellenic books, read the Sibyl, how it is shown that God is one, and how the future is indicated. And, taking Hystaspes, read and you will find much more luminously and distinctly the son of God described". I've read the surviving Christian volumes of the Sibylline Oracles and the patristic quotes from the Sibyls. The sibyls were Greek and Roman prophetesses living in Greece, Italy, and Asia Minor, and their "oracles" were written down. But the full volumes that have been handed down to us are apparently Christian versions that probably included materials from the earlier pagan sibylline oracles.
   Wikipedia's entry on the 6th century BC governor Hystaspes, also known as "Vishtaspa", notes that he "was a Persian satrap of Bactria and Persis. He was the father of Darius I, king of the Achaemenid Empire, and Artabanus, who was a trusted advisor to both his brother Darius as well as Darius's son and successor, Xerxes I." Encyclopedia Iranica says about Hystaspes:
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HYSTASPES, ORACLES OF (Gk. Khrēseis Hystaspou), a collection of prophecies ascribed to Vištāspa, the patron and follower of Zarathustra, whom the Middle Iranian and part of the ancient tradition also identified with Darius’s father (J. Bidez and F. Cumont, I, p. 215, n. 3). The text of the work is not extant, except for resumés in Greek and Latin, attributable to the Oracles if they mention the name Hystaspes and contain prophetic material... It is not easy to obtain a definite picture about the Hystaspes oracles from these data [preserved in Christian writers' records like Lactantius'], even if we acknowledge the fact that the work included several prophecies with different contents. What is obvious is the juxtaposition of explicitly Christian (nos. 2, 5) and non-Christian or neutral (nos. 1, 3, 4) statements. Ernst Kuhn is probably the only scholar to have given unequivocal support to a Christian origin of the oracles. ... All other investigations lead to the assumption of a Christian rearrangement of a non-Christian collection of oracles, in which the precise “heathen” proportion is problematic:
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 02:18:39 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #298 on: August 01, 2019, 03:23:21 PM »
GOSPEL OF BARTHOLOMEW and QUESTIONS OF BARTHOLOMEW
<<What do you think is the date range for the Gospel or Questions of Bartholomew?>>
Jerome in the fourth century referred to the "Gospel of Bartholomew", so it must be from his time or earlier. Scholars give a range of dates, from the 2nd to 5th century, for the Questions of Bartholomew, which may be the same work. Hans-Josef Klauck writes in The Apocryphal Gospels: An Introduction (p. 99): "It is difficult to date the 'Questions of Bartholomew'; dates from the second to the sixth century have been proposed. At any rate, the version of the harrowing of hell in this text is probably older than that in EvNic[Gospel of Nicodemus], indicating that it was composed in the second century; on the other hand, this text borrows from Protev 8:1 at 2:15, and from IGTh [Infancy Gospel of Thomas] 2 at 2:11, and this suggests a third-century date."

<<If this is a rejected work per Gelasian Decree and per Jerome, then what sect or heresy would it fit into?>>
In the Questions of Bartholomew, Bartholomew tells Jesus that he saw Him vanish during the Crucifixion: "I saw thee that thou wast vanished away from the cross and I heard only a voice in the parts under the earth". Wikipedia notes about the Questions of Bartholomew: <<Bartholomew asks to see Satan, and so a choir of angels drags Beliar (a name for Satan) from the depths of hell in chains, the sight of which kills the apostles dead. Jesus immediately brings them back to life and gives Bartholomew control over Satan.>> Maybe this just means that the events in it were weird and deviant enough that the work was deemed unacceptable, not that it fit into a known sect or heretical theology.

<<Do you believe that Mary was a special Temple virgin in Jerusalem? Who was the being that spoke to her in the story?>>
   In the Questions of Bartholomew, Mary narrates the Annunciation by saying that a being like an angel came to her when she abode in the Temple:
   
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When I abode in the temple of God and received my food from an angel, on a certain day there appeared unto me one in the likeness of an angel, but his face was incomprehensible, and he had not in his hand bread or a cup, as did the angel which came to me aforetime.
   16. And straightway the robe (veil) of the temple was rent and there was a very great earthquake, and I fell upon the earth, for I was not able to endure the sight of him. 17. But he put his hand beneath me and raised me up, and I looked up into heaven and there came a cloud of dew and sprinkled me from the head to the feet, and he wiped me with his robe. 18. And said unto me: Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the chosen vessel, grace inexhaustible. And he smote his garment upon the right hand and there came a very great loaf, and he set it upon the altar of the temple and did eat of it first himself, and gave unto me also. 19. And again he smote his garment upon the left hand and there came a very great cup full of wine: and he set it upon the altar of the temple and did drink of it first himself, and gave also unto me. And I beheld and saw the bread and the cup whole as they were.
   20. And he said unto me: Yet three years, and I will send my word unto thee and then shalt conceive my (or a) son, and through him shall the whole creation be saved. Peace be unto thee, my beloved, and my peace shall be with thee continually.
   21. And when he had so said he vanished away from mine eyes, and the temple was restored as it had been before. 
   I take this to mean that she was abiding in the Temple as the Orthodox tradition about her being a Temple Virgin goes. 2 Maccabees apparently talks about Temple virgins in Jerusalem:
   
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And the virgins also that were shut up, came forth, some to {High Priest} Onias, and some to the walls, and others looked out of the windows. And all holding up their hands towards heaven, made supplication. (2 Macc 3:19-20)   
   Josephus described cloisters around the Temple where people lived in Vol. V of the Wars of the Jews. The rabbinic Mishnah mentions 82 consecrated virgins who wove the Temple veil (Mishna Shekalim 8, 5-6), and the Talmud refers to “women who made the veils for the Temple…baked the showbread…prepared the incense” (Babylonian Talmud Kethuboth 106a). There are some other possible Jewish references to Temple virgins, even if they aren't mentioned directly in the Old Testament and the inner courtyard was off-limits to women in general. So my conclusion is that there really were Temple virgins in the first century.
   I interpret the being that spoke to Mary in Questions of Bartholomew to be God because it says that the being was one "like" an angel and that it says that she will bear "my" son. Otherwise, I would have taken the being to be the angel Gabriel like in Luke's gospel.

<<Do you recognize any of Mary's foreign words in bold below? Are they even meant to be real words from a known national language?>>

   Here is Mary's speech with some potential word meanings that I put in parentheses for the preceding words:
   
Quote
Elphue Zarethra (a place in Greece) Charboum Nemioth Melitho ("Fullness" in Syriac; a proper name, eg. one of the martyrs of Sebaste) Thraboutha Mephnounos Chemiath Aroura (Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn; a Roman metaphorical term for dawn) Maridon ("We marry" in Latin) Elison (Have mercy in Greek) Marmiadon Seption (Septimus is seven in Latin, and "-on" is a Greek ending) Hesaboutha Ennouna Saktinos Athoor (the pre-Christian god of the Assyrians; a male proper name in Neo-Aramaic) Belelam Opheoth Abo ("Father" in West Aramaic) Chrasar
   Either they are meant to be Mary speaking Hebrew or they are meant to be an angelic/divine language, similar to what the Pentecostals claim to be speaking.
   Since Mary precedes her speech by saying "Let us stand up in prayer", it looks like her speech can be in the form of a prayer or divine utterance. Since the apostles tell her before her utterance that "He that is scarce contained by the seven heavens was pleased to be contained in thee", the word "Seption" in her speech could be related to "Seven". The word Seven in Latin is Septem.
   In "The Apocryphal New Testament" M.R. James notes about Mary's foreign words: "this is the reading of one Greek copy: the others and the Slavonic have many differences as in all such cases: but as the original words-assuming them to have once had a meaning-are hopelessly corrupted, the matter is not of importance." The original text was in Greek, so it seems like the Greek copy would be the closest to the original of the author's intended meaning.
   Mary must not have been speaking in Greek, because her native language was Hebrew/Aramaic, and after giving her utterance, the author prefaces his translation by saying "which is in the Greek tongue", meaning that her foreign words are not Greek, but that he is translating the meaning into Greek in the section after them. The Slavonic version instead says "which is in the Hebrew tongue". I also take this to mean that the Slavonic editor supposed that Mary's words were Hebrew, and that he was deciphering their Hebrew meaning. Another reason that the utterance was not in Greek is because Mary's other words spoken to the apostles, as well as Bartholomew's conversation with Jesus, are all normally given in Greek. If the author imagined them to be talking Hebrew or Aramaic (which is close to Hebrew), he would not have translated all their dialogues into Greek except for Mary's brief declaration.
   The author could have meant that Mary was using real Hebrew speech because the author presents the supposed original Hebrew/Aramaic words just as the New Testament sometimes quotes Jesus in Aramaic and then gives a translation (as in "Talitha Kum", Little Girl, Arise!).
   Dzheremi (a forum user on OC.NET) commented that it wouldn't be surprising if "all of them are some kind of garbled Greek or Syriac". So many of them in a row end in -on or -os, which are typical noun endings (as in "martyrion"), that it looks like the translated terms would not be intelligible as a sentence. "-on" in Greek is a suffix that can be the neuter singular, or the masculine/feminine accusative singular.
   When the words were translated into Greek by the author, the product was far longer than the passage above, which suggests to me that the Greek translation was not the actual translation of what the words meant. Otherwise, the Greek translation would be about the same length as the potentially Hebrew passage above. So either the author was imagining Hebrew words or else he was referring to a kind of divine speech that would not normally be intelligible, similar to the way that Pentecostals explain their gibberish today.

<<Have you heard of other references in early Christian writings about angels worshiping Adam or mankind?>>
The Life of Adam and Eve / Apocalypse of Moses is a Jewish apocryphal book likely originally composed in the first century to third centuries in a Semitic language. In it, Satan recounts to Adam that the Archangel Michael had commanded him to worship/bow to Adam as being made in God's image. Satan refused because he was created before Adam, so God cast Satan out of heaven. Angels venerating Adam is a theme that also shows up in 2 Enoch, which may have been a Jewish text written in the first century, or as late as the tenth. The tradition also shows up in the 6th century Syriac Christian text called The Cave of Treasures. Three rabbinical texts invert the theme of God wanting the angels to venerate Adam: In Genesis Rabbah in the Talmud, R. Hoshaya tells a midrash of how the angels wanted to bow to Adam when he was created, but God prevented them by putting Adam to sleep, thereby showing his mortality. In the Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, the angels wanted to worship Adam, but instead Adam stops them and directs them to worship God. In the Tanhuma-Yelamdenu, the archangel Michael stops them from worshiping Adam.

<<What do you think the 12 heads of God refers to in Chapter VI?>>
   According to a Russian translation that probably uses different manuscripts, Jesus tells the apostles: "Alas, woe to the one who swears by the head of God, even if he doesn't swear a lie, but speaks the truth. For the High God has 12 heads. And He Himself is the Truth and there is no lie in Him and no oath-breaking. He descends and reveals to the whole world the Word of Truth." The passage relates to Matthew 5:34-36, in which Jesus says: "But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black."
   In his essay "Jesus and the Twelve", Scot McKnight writes that in the Old Testament,
Quote
the predominant use of "twelve" is for the sons of Jacob / Israel ([Genesis] 35:22-26; Sir 44:23-45:1). The sense of the "twelve sons of Israel" as heads of the twelve tribes moves from a physical literality (the actual sons of Israel and a real tribal interest; see Gen 42:13, 32; 49:28; Tob 1:4; 4:12; 5:9-14; Add Esth 14:5) to a representation for the descendants (the twelve tribes) and hereditary representatives (twelve tribal princes/chieftains, and so on).
   So since in ancient apocalyptic literature "heads" commonly refers to kingdoms or leaders, and the hostile heads of the beasts in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 refer to hostile foreign kingdoms or rulers, then the 12 "heads" of God would refer to kingdoms or rulers belonging to God. Since the heads of Israel are twelve patriarchs, and the 12 apostles were heads of the Church, Christ's "body", then the 12 apostles would metaphorically or spiritually be "heads" of Christ's "body", the Church. In Matthew 5, on which the passage in question is apparently based, Jesus tells the 12 apostles not to swear by their heads. A rule directed to the 12 apostles against swearing by their heads would fit with a rule against swearing by God's head that is justified by the concept of God having twelve "heads" (the apostles).
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 03:24:33 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #299 on: August 01, 2019, 03:54:18 PM »
<<Doesn't Matthew's teaching on divorce contradict the Shepherd's teaching on it?>>
Yes. In Matt.19:9, Jesus says: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." So according to Matthew's gospel, a husband is only allowed to divorce his wife for committing fornication, and does not commit adultery if he remarries. Further, the new husband of the divorced wife commits adultery by having sex with her. In contrast, in Mandate IV, Chp. 1, the Shepherd goes beyond the gospel's directions and requires the husband to divorce his wife if she commits adultery. On top of that, if either the husband or the wife would remarry, the one who remarried would find themselves in adultery, according to the Shepherd's scheme.
   Let's say that the husband and wife in the Shepherd's scenario get divorced. One might normally think otherwise that this means there is no more marriage. But it seems that in the Shepherd's viewpoint, the marriage still somehow secretly exists. And then let's say the wife marries her new lover. In the eyes of the Shepherd, this means she is in adultery with her new lover, and not only betrayed her old spouse.  If she repents of that old betrayal, this text suggests that she should marry her ex-spouse as part of the repentance. But hasn't she already made a new, binding marriage? The text's answer seems to be that the new marriage is invalid due to the previous one, since Matthew 19 says that those in the new marriage commit adultery with eachother due to the last one.

I wonder if, in the original language (I'm assuming Greek?), the word that was translated into "divorce" can more generally mean "to separate" or "to split." That might resolve the paradox.
It also seems remarkably Catholic in it's logic.

As I understand, although the Catholic Church can grant annulments, if the marriage tribunal doesn't find a valid reason for annulment (which depends on whether or not the couple had Catholic intentions of marriage - to stay together till death, to have children, etc.; if one of the members didn't believe in one of these things or isn't capable of such, the marriage never happened because in Catholicism, marriage is a Sacrament that is performed by the man and the woman, and if both don't have intention to perform the Sacrament, the Sacrament never happens), the marriage still stands, and if separation without an annulment must happen for the better well-being of either of the parties involved (insanity, drug abuse, adultery), both people are not allowed to get re-married, as the couple are both still married to each other, but separated due to circumstance.

It should also be said that usually the one who caused the separation to happen will most likely be in a state of spiritual death and barred from communion.

So, maybe the Shepherd is saying that if a separation occurs due to adultery, the couple must separate, and re-marriage is not allowed to happen.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 04:05:20 PM by Eamonomae »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #300 on: August 02, 2019, 02:14:40 AM »
<<Doesn't Matthew's teaching on divorce contradict the Shepherd's teaching on it?>>
Yes.
I wonder if, in the original language (I'm assuming Greek?), the word that was translated into "divorce" can more generally mean "to separate" or "to split." That might resolve the paradox.
...
So, maybe the Shepherd is saying that if a separation occurs due to adultery, the couple must separate, and re-marriage is not allowed to happen.
Eamonomae,
To answer your question, studying the Greek original wording about "divorce" more would not resolve the paradox between Matthew 19 and the Shepherd of Hermas, because the conflict is also over whether one can remarry. (Jesus says Yes, the Shepherd says No).

The Greek word in Matthew 19 for "divorce" is "apoluó", which can also mean "release, let go, send away". Jesus says that a husband is only allowed to divorce/release/send away his wife for committing fornication, and that he does not commit adultery if he remarries.

You can check Mandate 4 of the Shepherd of Hermas on page 4 of the Interlinear Greek-English translation here: http://www.embarl.force9.co.uk/Other/Commands.pdf
The Shepherd of Hermas uses the term Ἀπολυσάτω , meaning "Let him put her away", which is a longer form of the same Greek word "apoluó". This text literally says that if the wife persists in committing adultery that the husband should put her away. And it adds that the husband does commit adultery if he remarries.

Here is Lightfoot's Translation:
Quote
"What then, Sir," say I, "shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this case?" "Let him divorce her," saith he, "and let the husband abide alone: but if after divorcing his wife he shall marry another, he likewise committeth adultery."

Here is the word for word translation from Greek, using the Greek word order:
Quote
Τί      οὖν, φημί, κύριε, ποιήσῃ ὁ ἀνήρ, ἐὰν ἐπιμείνῃ            τῷ         πάθει τούτῳ ἡ γυνή;
What then, I say, sir, should do the man, if   should continue in the mischief this     the wife?

Ἀπολυσάτω,          φησίν, αὐτην καὶ ὁ ἀνὴρ ἐφ’ ἑαυτῷ          μενέτω· ἐὰν δὲ            ἀπολύσας
Let him put away, he says, her        and the man by himself let him stay; if    but he having  put away

τὴν γυναῖκα ἐτέραν γαμήση,  καὶ  αὐτὸς μοιχᾶται.
the   wife        another should marry, also  he commits adultery.
The author is talking about divorce, not just living separately, because if he was talking about just separate living, then there wouldn't be much point in emphasizing that he considers remarriage to in effect be an adultery. Everyone would know that a couple remarrying when they live separately would typically be considered adultery. Usually you would not even be allowed to remarry without getting a divorce first.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 02:25:18 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #301 on: August 03, 2019, 12:01:22 AM »
Eamonomae,
The kind of question that you asked though is good. I like it when people engage with this material.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #302 on: August 03, 2019, 10:57:07 AM »
TESTAMENT OF ISAAC
<<How do you understand Abraham's "offering" or "sacrifice" of Isaac in the Testament of Isaac and in Coptic or other Orthodox Church references to it?>>
Abraham's "offering" of Isaac was that he submitted Isaac for a sacrifice and prepared to follow through. In the Testament of Isaac, "the sacrifice of our father Isaac the patriarch" is said to be that the heavens and the earth were full of the soothing odour of our father Isaac, like choice silver".
   When the Synaxarium says that "Abraham had fulfilled the sacrifice of his son by intention", it refers to God's request that Abraham sacrifice Isaac, which Abraham intended to carry out, and for which God and Abraham substituted a ram. Ways to describe this in terms of Isaac's "sacrifice" include his sacrifice "by intention", "metaphorically", and "by substitution". The Testament seems to imply that Isaac's sacrifice was "spiritual", because it says that the sacrifice was that his "odor" rose to heaven, and spirit and wind/breeze are synonyms in languages like Hebrew and Arabic.

<<Does the Coptic Church's commemoration of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have special features?>>
The Testament of Isaac gives instructions for commemorating the three Patriarchs, including offering sacrifices for Isaac. But I can't find any information about their commemoration outside the Testament of Isaac, other than their listing in the Coptic Synaxarium for the 28th of the Coptic month of Masra. John Fadden connects the Testament of Isaac to Coptic Christian Tradition in his doctoral dissertation, "'Our Father Isaac': Reading the Sahidic Testamentof Isaac in an Egyptian Monastic Context". Fadden notes that in the Testament of Isaac,
Quote
The Lord mentions the day of Isaac’s commemoration three times in the conversation between the Lord and Abraham (T. Isaac 6.8, 12, 15). In the epilogue, the narrator makes reference to the day of the patriarchs’ commemoration ( T. Isaac 8.6). These brief mentions reflect an awareness of a day of commemoration for Isaac that people are observing. The Coptic Church has a long history of celebrating the three patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – as a group on the 28th of Mesore (August 21). ... The feast is the result of local practice before it became a part of an orthodox calendar. In Upper Egypt, the celebration of martyrs and biblical figures is already active in the fourth century.
But certainly the Coptic Church is not performing animal sacrifices for Isaac. You can read the entry for the three Patriarchs in the Synaxarium here: https://st-takla.org/books/en/church/synaxarium/12-mesraa/28-mesra-patriarchs.html
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #303 on: August 03, 2019, 11:15:49 AM »
Regarding the question above (about the Testament of Isaac and whether the Coptic Church's commemoration for the three patriarchs has special features): I posted this question on the Coptic Tasbeha forum and no one wrote back with information about such commemorations. Probably the commemoration just involves things like short prayers for the patriarchs during regular liturgies.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 11:19:24 AM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #304 on: August 04, 2019, 06:26:28 PM »
TESTAMENT OF JACOB
<<Shouldn't the phrase "Mourning of Egypt" normally refer to the mourning over the pharaoh's son and the other Egyptians' children in the story of the Exodus?>>
I was asking this because I was doubtful about whether the use of the name for a location in Chapter 10 of the Testament of Jacob was correct. In Chapter 10, Joseph and Pharaoh's servants go to bury Jacob, they stop at Gadad's threshing-floor to cry, and so the place took on the name of "The Mourning of Egypt." The Testament of Jacob says:
Quote
And they stopped at the threshing floor of Gadad, which is on the bank on the other side of Jordan. They mourned for him there with a great and bitter mourning; and they mourned for him for seven days. Those in the lowland heard the mourning at the threshing-floor of Gadad, and they said: "This great mourning is a mourning of the Egyptians", so that that place is called "The Mourning of Egypt" to this day. They took Israel and buried him in the land of Canaan in the double grave that Abraham had bought as a burial-place for silver from Ephron the Hittite, opposite Mamre.
I thought that the name might better be used to refer to the mourning by Egyptians during the Exodus.

It turns out that this passage is referring to Genesis 50, which explains the name of the place this way:
Quote
10. When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, which is across the Jordan, they lamented and wailed loudly, and Joseph mourned for his father seven days.
11. When the Canaanites of the land saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a solemn ceremony of mourning by the Egyptians.” Thus the place across the Jordan is called Abel-mizraim.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2019, 06:30:40 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: List of 1st century writings by or about Christians
« Reply #305 on: August 05, 2019, 03:20:25 PM »
GOSPEL OF PETER
<<Is the Gospel of Peter Docetic?>>
It sounds like it was probably written by Docetists, but the sections that have come down to us don't have anything that is clearly Docetic. It looks like it was written by Docetists, because near the end of the 2nd century, Bishop Serapion of Antioch wrote about it:
Quote
(M. R. James' translation of Bp. Serapion's words:)
   For we have been enabled to borrow this very Gospel from others who used it, namely, the successors of those who were its authors (lit. began it) whom we call Docetae (Seemers)—for most of their notions belong to that school—and to go through it, and to find that most of it is of the right teaching (word) of the Saviour, but some things are adventitious; a list of which we have drawn up for you.

(Ben Smith's translation of Bp. Serapion on the Text Excavation site:)
   But we, brethren, taking in of what kind of heresy Marcianus was, who also contradicted himself, not thinking about what he was saying, which things you will learn from the things that I have written to you, were enabled by others who studied this same gospel, that is, by the successors of those who began it, whom we called docetics, for most of the thoughts are of their teaching, using [material] from them to go through and find that most things are of the right word of the savior, but some things are spurious, which things we order out for you.
   Supposing that Bp. Serapion wrote in 190 AD, and Peter died in c.63 AD, then Bp. Serapion was writing 127 years after Peter. This would be within three literary generations (ie. if for each generation a 60 year writer/copyiest passes on his story to a 15 year old). So the bishop would have a reasonable idea of the author's community. If the document was written after Peter's time, then Bishop Serapion would have an even better idea of the author.

   On the other hand, the sections of the document that have come down to us are not clearly Docetic, or even appear non-Docetic. Docetism teaches that Christ only "Seemed" to be human: Christ's humanity, and consequently His human, physical body, were only illusions. Yet after describing Christ's death (in terms of being "taken up" instead of Matthew 27:50's expression that Christ "yielded up His spirit"), the Gospel of Peter refers to Christ's body as the Lord. Chapter VI, Verse 21 says: "And then they pulled out the nails from the hands of the Lord and placed him upon the earth. And all the earth quaked and there was great fear." The document goes on to describe Christ's resurrection out of the tomb, with two angels carrying Him out.
   One explanation could be that the authors of the Gospel of Peter had some Docetic ideas but that they didn't create the document in a way that clearly and consistently agreed with Docetism.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 03:29:09 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20