Author Topic: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity  (Read 2283 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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In my thread List of 1st century writings by or about Christians (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,67356.0.html), I reviewed extracanonical mainstream 1st century Christian writings like 1 Clement, writings whose nature and category is debated like the Gospel of the Hebrews, seemingly Docetic writings and a few Gnostic writings. I was especially interested in the Orthodox view of those writings, as well as what they can tell us about 1st century Christian ideas.

In this thread, I would like to review the writings on the list below, particularly to see what they might tell us about the 1st century Christians. I am including the writings' dates and some brief notes. Please let me know of any 1st century writings about them that you don't see on these two threads.

Gnostic
50-150    Apocalypse of Adam
100-200    Gospel of Eve
50-150    Eugnostos the Blessed (Nag Hammadi)
50-200    Sophia of Jesus Christ (Nag Hammadi)
100-150    Apocryphon(Secret Book) of James (Nag Hammadi. Probably Cerinthian. Cerinthus the gnost required Torah observance & conflicted w St. John, whom Paul called was 1 of 3 Church pillars)
100-300    Coptic Apocalypse of Peter / "Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter"
100-230    Thunder of the Perfect Mind

Pagan Writings with Christian Sections
80-250    Christian Sibyllines

NonChristian Jews writing on Christianity
70 - 100 Birkat Ha Minim by Shmuel ha-Katan (Scholars theorize that this was at an anti-Christian Council of Jamnia that rejected Christians)
93    Flavius Josephus

Pagans writing on Christianity

Pliny the Elder 23-79 AD (remarks about the tetrarchy of the Nazareans)
Phlegon on the eclipse (http://www.textexcavation.com/testimonia.html)
Thallus on the eclipse (http://www.textexcavation.com/thallustestimonium.html)
Seneca on Anger (http://www.textexcavation.com/seneca.html)
73-200    Mara Bar Serapion
80-135    Epictetus on the Galileans

Likely modern forgeries

70-1973    Secret Mark

Note: The first five Gnostic writings in bold on my list above are reviewed in my last thread, except for the notes on Sophia of Jesus Christ that I will share below.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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The Sophia of Jesus Christ opens by saying in two different versions:
Quote
After he rose from the dead, his twelve disciples and seven women continued to be his followers, and went to Galilee onto the mountain called "Divination and Joy".

After he rose from the dead, his twelve disciples and seven women followed him (and) went to Galilee onto the mountain that is called Place of Harvestime and Joy.
I never heard this name for a mountain in Galilee.

It says that the Savior was releaved "so that  through that immortal man they might attain their salvation and awake from forgetfulness through the interpreter who was sent, who is with you until the end of the poverty of the robbers."
The "poverty" here can refer to lack of knowledge, in contrast to richness. The "robbers" could be the communities that are considered responsible for Jesus' death.
It reminds me of the Biblical idea that the spreading of the gospel to all the ends of the earth is one of the events before the Second Coming.

Later in Sophia of Jesus Christ, Jesus mentions the robbers again, by seeming to refer to it as the community from whom he removed the believers to whom he gave His holy knowledge.
Quote
I cut off the thing of the robbers. I wakened it, namedly, that drop that was sent from Sophia, so that it might bear much fruit through me and be perfected, and not be lacking, but be set apart by me, the great Savior, in order that his glory might be revealed, so that Sophia might also be justified in regard to that defect, so that her sons might not again be defective, but might attain honor and glory...
A fuller quotation from another version helps to show that poverty refers to lack of knowledge and that the robbers are the community from whom the faithful are taken:
Quote
"All who come into the world, like a drop from the Light, are sent by him to the world of Almighty, that they might be guarded by him. And the bond of his forgetfulness bound him by the will of Sophia, that the matter might be <revealed> through it to the whole world in poverty, concerning his (Almighty's) arrogance and blindness and the ignorance that he was named. But I came from the places above by the will of the great Light, (I) who escaped from that bond; I have cut off the work of the robbers; I have awakened that drop that was sent from Sophia, that it might bear much fruit through me, and be perfected and not again be defective, but be <joined> through me, the Great Savior, that his glory might be revealed, so that Sophia might also be justified in regard to that defect, that her sons might not again become defective but might attain honor and glory and go up to their Father, and know the words of the masculine Light. And you were sent by the Son, who was sent that you might receive Light, and remove yourselves from the forgetfulness of the authorities, and that it might not again come to appearance because of you, namely, the unclean rubbing that is from the fearful fire that came from their fleshly part. Tread upon their malicious intent."
In this context it looks like the "robbers" are the Torah-observant community that performs circumcision.

Also in the work, Jesus seems to me to be explaining to the disciples the relationship between the "Self-Perfected Mind" and Sophia, the female name for the "First Begetter, Son of God". Meanwhile, the Self-Perfect Mind and Sophia are also consorts of each other. I find these concepts' presentation complicated:
Quote
Then Bartholomew said to him: "How (is it that) <he> was designated in the Gospel 'Man' and 'Son of Man'? To which of them, then, is this Son related?"

The Holy One said to him: "I want you to know that First Man is called 'Begetter, Self-perfected Mind'. He reflected with Great Sophia, his consort, and revealed his first-begotten, androgynous son. His male name is designated 'First Begetter, Son of God', his female name, 'First Begettress Sophia, Mother of the Universe'. Some call her 'Love'. Now First-begotten is called 'Christ'.
...
Again, his disciples said: "Tell us clearly how they came down from the invisibilities, from the immortal to the world that dies?"

The perfect Savior said: "Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous light. His male name is designated 'Savior, Begetter of All Things'. His female name is designated 'All-Begettress Sophia'. Some call her 'Pistis'.
So:
First Man= Begetter, Self-Perfected Mind
First Man's consort = Sophia
First-begotten, androgynous Son

But making the First-begotten, androgynous Son's "female name" to be "First Begettress Sophia" suggests that Sophia is both the androgynous son's consort-parent's name as well as his own name. This is so confusing and anyway not canonical that I doubt that it is worth putting serious effort into figuring out detailed, confusing-sounding gnostic expressions. It seems like a very internally confused presentation.

The work seems to call the Old Testament God, whom it designates as a demiurge, "The Prime Begetter, who is called 'Yaldabaoth.'" The larger context in another version of Sophia of Jesus Christ goes:
Quote
"All who come into the world, like a drop from the Light, are sent by him to the world of Almighty, that they might be guarded by him.''
...
Mary said to him: "Holy Lord, where did your disciples come from, and where are they going, and (what) should they do here?
...
The Perfect Savior said to them: "I want you to know that Sophia, the Mother of the Universe and the consort, desired by herself to bring these to existence without her male (consort). But by the will of the Father of the Universe, that his unimaginable goodness might be revealed, he created that curtain between the immortals and those that came afterward, that the consequence might follow ...

From <the> aeons above the emanations of Light, as I have said already, a drop from Light and Spirit came down to the lower regions of Almighty in chaos, that their molded forms might appear from that drop, for it is a judgment on him, Arch-Begetter, who is called 'Yaldabaoth'. That drop revealed their molded forms through the breath, as a living soul. It was withered and it slumbered in the ignorance of the soul.
http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/sjc.html
The drop seems to refer to the disciples' souls that came into the world.

Soon after, the passage in the parts below seems to refer to the persecution of the apostles or to judgment on their persecutors, but I am not sure what the underlined part refers to below. Maybe it refers to the delay between Jesus' preincarnate existance and his incarnation, or else the delay between the resurrection and the Second Coming:
Quote
But these, when they came to be in the will of the Mother, Sophia, so that Immortal Man might piece together the garments there, were condemned as robbers, and they welcomed the blowing from that breath. But since he is psychical, he was not able to receive that power for himself until the number of chaos is complete and when the time that is determined by the great angel is complete.
Another version goes:
Quote
When it became hot from the breath of the Great Light of the Male, and it took thought, (then) names were received by all who are in the world of chaos, and all things that are in it through that Immortal One, when the breath blew into him. But when this came about by the will of Mother Sophia - so that Immortal Man might piece together the garments there for a judgment on the robbers - <he> then welcomed the blowing of that breath; but since he was soul-like, he was not able to take that power for himself until the number of chaos should be complete, (that is,) when the time determined by the great angel is complete.

"Now I have taught you about Immortal Man and have loosed the bonds of the robbers from him. I have broken the gates of the pitiless ones in their presence. I have humiliated their malicious intent, and they all have been shamed and have risen from their ignorance. Because of this, then, I came here, that they might be joined with that Spirit and Breath, [NHC III continues:] and might from two become one, just as from the first
http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/sjc.html
The part in blue is also something that I am uncertain about. It sounds like it's saying that Jesus' persecutors became ashamed and all gave up their ignorance. But historically, other than some apocryphal texts and traditions there does not seem to be much evidence of this. For example, in the Gospel of Peter, the elders watching the tomb witness the resurrection, there is a tradition that Pilate converted to Christianity, there is an apocryphal tradition that Caiaphas and others recognized that Jesus was the Messiah.

In the gospels, we only see possible glimpses of such ideas, as when the elders learn from the soldiers that Jesus arose or when Caiaphas said Jesus would die instead of the nation:
Quote
Matthew 28
11. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

John 11
49. But one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50. You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51. Caiaphas did not say this on his own. Instead, as high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation...
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Porter ODoran

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Is your approach going to be that everything an early-enough heretic wrote is true? That's very generous.
"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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There is a Greek Apocalypse of Peter that was respected by Church fathers and by the Muratorian Fragment, and there is a "Gnostic" or "Coptic" Apocalypse of Peter from the 4th c. Nag Hammadi library. Something noteworthy about the Gnostic one is that it portrays the divine Jesus as avoiding the crucifixion and a substitute as suffering.
Quote
The text takes gnostic interpretations of the crucifixion to the extreme, picturing Jesus as laughing and warning against people who cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking they shall become pure.Like some of the rarer Gnostic writings, this one also doubts the established Crucifixion story which places Jesus on the cross. Instead, according to this text, there was a substitute:
    "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."

It is unclear whether this text advocates an adoptionist or docetist Christology, but based on its literary parallels with the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, it may well subscribe to the latter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnostic_Apocalypse_of_Peter
Another translation of the quote from the document goes:
Quote
The one whom you see above the tree, who is glad and is laughing, is the living Jesus. But that one, into whose hands and feet they are driving the nails, in his fleshly counterpart, the substitute... But look at him and Me

This could be Docetic (The only-divine Christ only seemed to suffer), or could split Christ into two persons (the traditional EO view of Nestorianism). According to St. Irenaeus (Adv. haer. 1.24.4), the gnostic Basilides taught that "Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear his cross for" Jesus, "and through ignorance and error it was he who was crucified."

Wikipedia dates it to 100-200 AD, but the Early Christian Writings site dates it to 200-255. I wonder what the better dating would be. The ECW site notes that the Coptic version is a translation from an earlier Greek version.

Andreas Werner writes:
Quote
If the text itself, with its mention of the name 'Hermas' at p. 78.18, engages in polemic against the possibility of repentence advocated in the Shepherd of Hermas, this would yield a terminus post quem on grounds of content in the middle of the 2nd century. Apoc. Pet. presupposes and criticizes the structures of a Great Church in process of consolidation, and the appropriation of Peter as the inaugurator of Gnosis is probably also directed against this; these points together with the controversy with other gnostics suggest placing the document at the end of the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd.
(New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 702)
Already in Cerinthus' Apocryphon of James (c.100 AD) one can see conflict between Cerinthus and the mainstream canonical Church, so I am skeptical that the existence of conflict in the documents shows that it dates from c.200 AD as the end of the passage above suggests.

An article "Obnoxious Gnostics" says with humor:
Quote
...the Sethians were the hard men of ancient Gnosticism, matching the invective of Irenaeus, Tertullian et al with their own ferocity. ... When does the strength to stand one’s own ground and refuse to be bullied turn into an obsession with infighting, sniping and backstabbing? The answer: in the Apocalypse of Peter. The Apocalypse of Peter is in Codex VII of the Nag Hammadi library, following on from the Second Discourse of the Great Seth, with which it shares some features, including the laughing Jesus and a hostile attitude to other sects. It refers to a series of characters from the Hebrew bible, including Adam, Abraham, Solomon and Moses as jokes or laughingstocks.
...
First, Jesus rails against “the kingdom of those who praise a Christ of a future restored world.” The word “restored” here is the Greek apokatastasis, the “restoration.” [In contrast,] Clement of Alexandria and Origen developed a doctrine of apokatastasis in which everything will finally come to rest in harmony and peace with God. ... According to Hippolytus, the proto-Gnostic Basilides also taught a form of apokatastasis in which the world would be restored to its original state when Jesus returned.
...
The final section describes the crucifixion and its true significance. The body whose feet and hands are hammered into the cross is not the living Jesus who smiles and laughs above the cross. Peter shows a moment of weakness when he suggests to Jesus that they should leave, but Jesus once again stresses that these people are blind. There is the suggestion of a mysterious third Jesus, intertwined with the holy spirit, surrounded by bright light and angels.

http://thegodabovegod.com/obnoxious-gnostics-the-apocalypse-of-peter-2/
The underlined part is confusing.

Gerard Luttikhiuizen in his essay "The Suffering Jesus and the Invulnerable Christ in the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter" notes that both the Greek Apocalypse of Peter and the Coptic Gnostic one contain dialogues between Peter and Jesus that he thinks are presented as part of Jesus' teachings during Holy Week, most likely in the framework of Matthew 24. He notes though that:
Quote
Christ speaks to Peter during the events of Good Friday, not shortly before the day, as he does in the synoptic apocalypse and in the Greek-Ethiopic ApPt.

He also writes:
Quote
The Coptic papyrus manuscript contains the complete text.... in a clear legible handwriting. However, in other respects, it is a poor copy. Almost every page contains one or more grammatically unclear phrases. These obscurities may be due to the incompetence of the translator or to an inaccurate transmission of the Coptic text.
He notes Brashler's translation of the opening:
Quote
As the Savior was sitting in the temple, in the inner part of the building at the convergence of the tenth pillar, and as he was at rest above the congregation of the living, incorruptible Majesty, he said to me... "
He asks:
Quote
If we assume that this emendation and its translation are correct, what does the text mean? Is this a reference to the earthly temple in Jerusalem or, rather, to a spiritual temple in the divine world? It is quite probably that the reference is to both places at the same time. ... GApPt[this work] frequently directs the attention to a spiritual dimension in visible reality. In particular, the subsequent phrase, 'and as he was at rest above the congregation of the living incorruptible Majesty', suggests that the Saviour is in his true spiritual environment together with all those who belong tot he Father.

The concluding words of the passage are:
Quote
When he (Jesus) had said these things, he (Peter) came to himself.
(Bullard's translation)

When he had said these things, he (Peter) came to his senses.
(Bohlig's translation)
Luttikhiuizen notes:
Quote
I suggest that the relevant Coptic phrase is laden with far more meaning: after Christ's teachings Peter 'came to himself (ie to his true self)'. This interpretation means that when the Savious had completed his teachings, Peter achieved the state of perfection to which he was called before by Christ: 'You too, Peter, become perfect.... just like me, the one who has chosen you.... (71.5-21).'
The scholar also tries to summarize the difference between the divine Jesus and the substitute:
Quote
In Christ's explanation, the human body of Jesus was merely a temporary dwelling-place. Moreover, he repudiated this sarkikon as the product ('the son') of quasi-glorious cosmic powers. ... As Christ disclosed in his first words addressed to Peter, 'the principalities [who wanted to attack him]' sought him but could not find him. Christ himself was fully immune to the attacks of the forces of evil. His followers could attain this level of protection if they allowed themselves to be enlightened by Christ's teaching and, accordingly, were prepared to live in this world as strangers and children of light.
It sounds like it is saying that the body is the sufferer and what is seen is the substitute, and that the followers can also achieve this protected state. Perhaps then, the "substitute" is not a fully separate, other soul, but rather the physical body, if the apostles also have the potential to enter this state?

As I mentioned earlier, the concept of the faithful becoming strangers and sojourners to and in the world can also be found in the NT, but without the intense disassociative theology outlined above.



« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 03:17:44 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Here are two places where the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter puts a polemic into Jesus' mouth, as I referred to in my last message:
Quote
"For many will accept our teaching in the beginning. And they will turn from them again by the will of the Father of their error, because they have done what he wanted. And he will reveal them in his judgment, i.e., the servants of the Word. But those who became mingled with these shall become their prisoners, since they are without perception. And the guileless, good, pure one they push to the worker of death, and to the kingdom of those who praise Christ in a restoration. And they praise the men of the propagation of falsehood, those who will come after you. And they will cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure. But they will become greatly defiled and they will fall into a name of error, and into the hand of an evil, cunning man and a manifold dogma, and they will be ruled without law."

"But many others, who oppose the truth and are the messengers of error, will set up their error and their law against these pure thoughts of mine, as looking out from one (perspective) thinking that good and evil are from one (source). They do business in my word. And they will propagate harsh fate. The race of immortal souls will go in it in vain, until my Parousia. For they shall come out of them - and my forgiveness of their transgressions, into which they fell through their adversaries, whose ransom I got from the slavery in which they were, to give them freedom that they may create an imitation remnant in the name of a dead man, who is Hermas, of the first-born of unrighteousness, in order that the light which exists may not believed by the little ones. But those of this sort are the workers who will be cast into the outer darkness, away from the sons of light. For neither will they enter, nor do they permit those who are going up to their approval for their release."
The underlined part refers to apokatastasis, the restoration. This was a teaching that the world would be restored to a former ideal state before the Fall. I have seen it related to proof of the resurrection: God made the world without sin and death, Paul says that with the sin of the Fall, death entered the world; hence God's ideal for the world is for it to be without sin and death.

The term apokatastasis comes up in Acts 3.21 ("Christ Jesus who must remain in heaven until the time of the final restoration of all things χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων"). For the gnostics, a concept of a return of the physical world to its ideal pre-Fall state would be rejected, as the world itself was seen as bad per their spirit vs body dualism.

The doctrine Apokatastasis as defined in OrthodoxWiki goes beyond simply restoring the world to an ideal state:
Quote
Apocatastasis or apokatastasis (from Greek: ἀποκατάστασις; literally, "restoration" or "return") is the teaching that everyone will, in the end, be saved. It looks toward the ultimate reconciliation of good and evil; all creatures endowed with reason, angels and humans, will eventually come to a harmony in God's kingdom. It is based on, among other things, ...St. Paul's letter to Timothy in which he says that it is God's will that all men should be saved (1 Timothy 2.4).

For Origen, this explicitly included the devil. In effect, apocatastasis denies the final reality of hell, and interprets all Biblical references to the "fires of hell" not as an eternal punishment, but a tool of divine teaching and correction, akin to purgatory. The implication is that hell exists to separate good from evil in the soul.

Modern Advocates

Known proponents of a qualified doctrine of apocatastasis within the Orthodox Church include:

    Nikolai Berdyaev
    Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov
    Pavel Evdokimov
    St Sophrony (Sakharov)
    Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore)
    Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia
https://orthodoxwiki.org/Apocatastasis

Fr. Aidan on the other hand has a blog called Eclectic Orthodoxy with an article
Apocatastasis: The Heresy that Never Was
https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/apocatastasis-the-heresy-that-never-was-2/
It takes a critical view on whether the Church rejected this doctrine, and if so, what version was rejected:
Quote
...the Emperor Justinian and his theological advisors composed the anathemas and then submitted them to the bishops for “approval” before the council formally convened on 5 May 553. We do not know how long before the council this meeting took place (hours? days? weeks? months?) nor who attended nor whether there was any actual discussion of the anathemas. .... Regardless of the origin of the 15 anathemas, we may confidently affirm that the Fifth Ecumenical Council did not formally publish them.
...
But let’s hypothetically assume that the Council did publish the fifteen anathemas. There would still remain the challenge of interpretation. Not all universalisms are the same. Just as there are both heretical and orthodox construals of, say, the atonement or the Incarnation, so there are heretical and orthodox construals of the universalist hope. The apokatastasis advanced by St Gregory of Nyssa, for example, differs in critical ways from the sixth-century theories against which the anathemas were directed. The latter appear to have belonged to an esoteric metaphysical system set loose from the Scriptures, as even a cursory reading reveals.

Here is the passage in the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter that talks about the difference between the one laughing on the cross and the one who suffered and received pain:
Quote
When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"

The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."

But I, when I had looked, said "Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place."

But he said to me, "I have told you, 'Leave the blind alone!'. And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame."

And I saw someone about to approach us resembling him, even him who was laughing on the tree. And he was <filled> with a Holy Spirit, and he is the Savior. And there was a great, ineffable light around them, and the multitude of ineffable and invisible angels blessing them. And when I looked at him, the one who gives praise was revealed.
Another translation puts it this way:
Quote
Then I looked again and saw someone approaching that resembled the one who was laughing on the tree. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and I knew him then to be the Savior.
http://jacksonsnyder.com/sss/pages/Apocalypse%20of%20Peter%20Gnostic.htm
If you read carefully, it is not clear that this is really a third Jesus. What happens is that in the dialogue, the Savior is in the Temple talking to Peter about how "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, .... the living Jesus", is different from "the son of their glory", whom "they have put to shame". And while the Savior is talking to Peter, the Savior who resembles the laughing one and is filled with the Holy Spirit approaches the Savior and Peter.

Next, Jesus explains the differences:
Quote
And he said to me, "Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking at those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind. So then the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body is the substitute. But what they released was my incorporeal body. But I am the intellectual Spirit filled with radiant light. He whom you saw coming to me is our intellectual Pleroma, which unites the perfect light with my Holy Spirit."
Another translation goes:
Quote
The one whom they crucified was the first-born in the home of demons, in a corruptible vessel with which the god of this world had his way by means of the Law and its cross. But near the first-born you have seen the living Savior, the first in spirit, whom they seized and released, who looks at his assassins with joy, while they are yet confused and divided among themselves. He laughs at their lack of perception, knowing full well that they were born blind and are blind still. The one susceptible to suffering suffered; that is, this one who they perceive with their eyes. But what they have released is my divine body. Yes, I am the all-knowing spirit filled with radiant light! The light which you saw about me is our Heavenly Host, which unite perfect light with my Holy Spirit.
The first translation above puts them as three persons, with the third one approaching them, whereas the second translation consolidates the three into two.

Jesus' idea that can be found in the Gospels and is in blue below is interpreted by the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter in the passage below:
Quote
"These things, then, which you saw you shall present to those of another race who are not of this age. For there will be no honor in any man who is not immortal, but only (in) those who were chosen from an immortal substance, which has shown that it is able to contain him who gives his abundance. Therefore I said, 'Every one who has, it will be given to him, and he will have plenty.' But he who does not have, that is, the man of this place, who is completely dead, who is removed from the planting of the creation of what is begotten, whom, if one of the immortal essence appears, they think that they possess him - it will be taken from him and be added to the one who is.
The things that in the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter could be listed as the blessed things that a person might have and might receive include:
"These things which you saw", "honor", "immortal substance", "abundance", and "him of the immortal essence who gives his abundance".

The quote in blue is related to Matthew 13:
Quote
11. He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
12. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
13. This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’
In Matthew's case, what the believer "has" could be "the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven", and the abundance could be the spiritual blessings. If so, it suggests that those who lack the knowledge of the kingdom's mysteries will have their blessings removed.

I think St. John Chrysostom has a good explanation of this passage in Matthew:
Quote
As much as to say, Whoso has the desire and the zeal, to him shall be given all those things which are of God; but whoso lacketh these, and does not contribute that part that pertains to him, to him neither are the things which are of God given, but even those things that he hath are taken from him; not because God takes them away, but because he hath made himself unworthy of those that he has. Wherefore we also, if we see any hearkening carelessly, and having exhorted him to attend, he do not heed us, let us be silent; for should we persevere in urging him, his slothfulness will be the more charged against him.

But him that is zealous to learn, we draw onwards, pouring forth many things. And He well said according to another Evangelist, "That which he seemeth to have;" [Luke 8:18] for, in truth, he has not even that he has.
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/matthew-13.html
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Offline rakovsky

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The Thunder, Perfect Mind
Quote
takes the form of an extended, riddling monologue, in which an immanent divine saviour speaks a series of paradoxical statements alternating between first-person assertions of identity and direct address to the audience. These paradoxical utterances echo Greek identity riddles, a common poetic form in the Mediterranean. Moreover, it is a non-epistolic, non-narrative unmediated divine speech.
...
The work as a whole takes the form of a poem in parallel strophes, and the author, it may be surmised, has drawn on a tradition of such poems in both Egyptian and Jewish communities, in which a similarly female divinity (Isis or aspect of the divine Sophia respectively) expounds her virtues unto an attentive audience, and exhorts them to strive to attain her. Examples of the genre abound in Old Testament literature.
...
The riddles of the poem may presuppose a classical Gnostic myth, such as the one found in the Reality of the Rulers, or in the Secret Book of John. The original language of the poem was Greek, though only a Coptic version survives in the Nag Hammadi library
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thunder,_Perfect_Mind
A style of "statements alternating between first-person assertions of identity and direct address to the audience" reminds me of the Odes of Solomon, which sometimes switches the narrative voice.

Paul-Hubert Poirier comments,
Quote
The speaker remains unnamed, but many features in the text show that the person or entity speaking is a feminine being. This characteristic explains why the tractate was at first compared with the Isis aretalogies - the self-proclamations in which the goddess Isis presents herself and lists her feats - or with the public addresses of female Wisdom in the Jewish scriptures (Proverbs 8:4-36; Sirach 24:3-22)
(The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 367)

Birger A. Pearson writes,
Quote
"Two of her pronouncements in this section provide clues as to the speaker's identity. The first one, 'It is my husband who begot me' (13,29-30), fits the figure of Eve in the Bible, born from her husband's rib (Genesis 2:21-23). The second one suggests a heavenly projection of Eve: 'I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the reflection (epinoia) whose remembrance is frequent' (14,9-11). Silence and Epinoia are designations for Barbelo and Sophia in Gnostic mythology, and both should be understood as heavenly projections of Eve. ... The identification of the speaker in Thunder: Perfect Mind with Eve-Sophia is made all the more plausible when we compare a passage in the treatise On the Origin of the World. Eve is referred to as 'the first virgin, the one who without a husband bore her first offspring.' She then makes several poetic 'I am' pronouncements similar to those in Thunder: Perfect Mind: 'mother,' 'wife,' 'virgin,' 'midwife,' and so forth (II 14,4-15). ... As to where it was composed, Egypt is a strong possibility, for at one point in the text the speaker says, 'I am the one whose image is great in Egypt' (16,6-7). She thus identifies herself with the Greco-Egyptian goddess Isis, to whom is credited a number of 'I am' pronouncements found in stone inscriptions in various parts of the Greco-Roman world." (Ancient Gnosticism, pp. 235-237)
Quote
While scholars agree that the text exhibits no explicitly Jewish or Christian elements, its imagery resonates with a variety of sources, including Jewish and Christian Wisdom, Isis traditions, Middle Platonism, Stoicism, and with other Nag Hammadi texts, especially those designated "Sethian" and "Valentinian."
http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/thunder.shtml

The Claremont Encyclopedia says:
Quote
Even though this short piece is preserved only among the Christian Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi, it exhibits no distinctively Christian traits. While it does manifest ties to a Gnostic world of thought—parallels to selected passages in the Nag
Hammadi Library have been adduced (MacRae, 1988; Arthur, 1984)—not any of the expected elements of a Gnostic myth are present. As a result, the treatise is to be considered a document with a pre-Christian origin, possessing features that would commend it to Gnostics and also find readers among Christians.

In The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation and Introduction, H. Taussig, J. Calaway, and M. Kotrosits propose that this work was originally written in Greek, but then made into a Coptic version that was different:
Quote
the one (Coptic) copy of Thunder has strong poetic structures only possible in Coptic.
...
That Thunder was found with a collection of primarily Christian documents makes a strong case for it having been used by Egyptian Christians, although some of the Nag Hammadi documents were pre-Christian (eg. a partial copy of Plato's Republic). This book suggests that the final columb of the document was almost certainly added by ascetic Christians. This is not meant to imply that earlier Christians did not use or even compose Thunder.
...
In the Hebrew Bible and subsequent Jewish and Christian traditions, thunder often accompanies a theophany, underscoring God's power; it is the thunder of the almighty.

Douglas Parrot writes:
Quote
...many of the other self-proclamations occur more than once in Thunder, sometimes in varying forms. In such other Nag Hammadi works as Trim. Prot. Xiii, I and the longer ending of Ap.John II,I:30,11-31,25, there are examples of the I style of proclamations by a revealer figure, but without antithetical context. There are three interesting  parallels to Thunder in content or in style or in both, outside of the Nag Hammadi corpus. One is the well-known Hymn of Christ in the Acts of John 94-96, in which Christ sings of himself in a succession of antitheses and contrasts, without, however, the use of I am formulas.
http://faculty.fairfield.edu/repstein/thunder.pdf
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Offline rakovsky

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The attitude to sin in Thunder, Perfect Mind seems strange or puzzling. Thunder, Perfect Mind seems to me related to the concept of Sophia, Wisdom as a personification. The narrator says:

Quote
I, I am sinless,
    and the root of sin derives from me.
I am lust in (outward) appearance,
    and interior self-control exists within me.
...
For I am the one who alone exists,
    and I have no one who will judge me.
For many are the pleasant forms which exist in numerous sins,
    and incontinencies,
    and disgraceful passions,
    and fleeting pleasures,
    which (men) embrace until they become sober
    and go up to their resting place.
And they will find me there,
    and they will live,
    and they will not die again.
(Macrae's translation)


I, I am sinless and the root of sin is from me.
I am desire in appearance and self-control of the heart exists within me.
...
For I am the one who alone exists,
And I have no one who will judge me.

For many are the sweet forms that exist in numerous sins
And unrestrained acts and disgraceful passions, and temporal pleasures,
Which are restrained until they become sober
And run up to their place of rest.
And they will find me there,
And they will live and they will not die again.
(Macguire's translation)
The part saying "For I am the one who alone exists" is confusing. Certainly God and people exist. But then, as I have noted earlier, there was a sense in some Christian writings that God is "All" and also above the "All". And there is a sense in which Sophia or Wisdom is God, when equated with the Logos or with the Holy Spirit.

The passage's strange relationship between sin and wisdom reminds me of how in the Garden of Eden, the original sin was disobediently eating the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in violation that caused the Fall.

I wonder how one might explain this part of the riddle where the narrator says that she is all that exists, and also the part where she says that she is sinless but that the root of sin comes from her.


Jaume de Marcos Andreu proposed this possible explanation:
Quote
She is not God, because she was "sent forth from the power", i.e. she is an emanation from the First Source. She is probably Sophia, Wisdom, the one who gave birth to the Demiurge and Creator of this world through her carelessness (she is "disgraced" and "the root of sin derives from me" because of that). Still she is a higher emanation and lives in the Pleroma. She also identifies herself with the Egyptian Isis, an example of Gnostic syncretism or simply that the author was Egyptian.

It's worth noting that earlier in the poem, she wrote:
Quote
I, I am godless,
    and I am the one whose God is great.
(Macrae translation)

I, I am without God and I am she whose God is magnificent.
(from Taussig's book)

This part below reminds me of the time in the gospels when Jesus says that the one who made a person's outside also made their inside:
Quote
For what is inside of you is what is outside of you,
    and the one who fashions you on the outside
    is the one who shaped the inside of you.
    And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you;
    it is visible and it is your garment.
Compare this with Jesus' words in Luke 11:40 :
"Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?"
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Offline rakovsky

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Wikipedia says about the rabbis' possible "Council of Jamnia" (also known as the "Council of Yavneh" or of "Javneh":
Quote
The Council of Jamnia, presumably held in Yavneh in the Holy Land, was a hypothetical late 1st-century council ... which may also have been the occasion when the Jewish authorities decided to exclude believers in Jesus as the Messiah from synagogue attendance as referenced by interpretations of John 9:22 in the New Testament.[1] The writing of the Birkat ha-Minim benediction is attributed to Shmuel ha-Katan at the supposed Council of Jamnia.

The theory that Jamnia finalised the canon, first proposed by Heinrich Graetz in 1871, was popular for much of the 20th century. However, it was increasingly questioned from the 1960s onward, and the theory has been largely discredited.
...
The Talmud relates that some time before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai relocated to the city of Yavne/Jamnia, where he received permission from the Romans to found a school of halakha (Jewish religious law).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Jamnia

In Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, an early Christian writing, there is a parable or allegory about a boat at Javneh with corpses that appears to allude to a concept that there was a council at Javneh.

Steve Ray in THE COUNCIL THAT WASN'T, writes:
Quote
When Christians began to use this Greek translation to convert Jews to the faith, the Jews began to detest it (note 2, sidebar, page 25). Does it surprise anyone that they would condemn the canon and translation the Christians used, even if it was originally translated, approved of, and put into circulation by the Jews themselves three hundred and fifty years earlier (c. 250 B.C.)? The early Church, following the Greek Septuagint and the apostles’ extensive use of it (Paul took most of his Old Testament quotations from it), accepted the deuterocanonical books. When the canon was finally closed by the councils of the Catholic Church, these books were included.

The so-called "Council of Jabneh" was a group of Jewish scholars who were granted permission by Rome around the year 90 to meet in Palestine near the Mediterranean Sea in Jabneh (or Jamnia). Here they established a non-authoritative, "reconstituted" Sanhedrin (note 3, sidebar, page 25). Among the things they discussed was the status of several questionable writings in the Jewish Bible. They also rejected the Christian writings and made a new translation of the Greek Septuagint.
...
 The discussion over the books of the canon of the Old Testament continued among the Jews long after Jabneh, which demonstrates that the canon was still under discussion in the third century—well beyond the apostolic period. The challenges to canonicity at Jabneh involved only Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, but the debate over the canon continued past Jabneh, even into the second and third centuries. Even the Hebrew canon accepted by Protestants today was disputed by the Jews for two hundred years after Christ.

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-council-that-wasnt

He says that one of the results of Javneh's decisions was a Greek translation by the rabbis to replace the LXX:
Quote
The rabbis of Jabneh eventually provided a new translation in Greek to replace their previous translation of the Septuagint. Why? Because the Gentile Christians were using the Septuagint for apologetic and evangelistic purposes—in other words, they were converting the Jews using their own Greek Scriptures!

For example, they were using it to prove the virginal birth of Jesus. In the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 7:14 is rendered, "A young woman shall conceive and bear a son," whereas the Greek Septuagint, quoted by Matthew (1:23), renders it, "A virgin shall be with child and bear a son" (emphasis added). The rabbis who supposedly "determined" the final Protestant canon also authorized a new Greek translation specifically to hinder the gospel. Aquila, the Jewish translator of the new version, denied the Virgin Birth and changed the Greek word from virgin to young woman.

F. F. Bruce writes about the council: "Some disputants also asked whether the Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sira (Ecclesiasticus), and the gilyonim (Aramaic Gospel writings) and other books of the minim (heretics, including Jewish Christians), should be admitted, but here the answer was uncompromisingly negative" (The Books and the Parchments [Fleming H. Revell, 1984], 88).

The Jewish Encyclopedia says about Rabbi Akiva (50-135 AD) that he opposed the Apocrypha because of how Christians were using it:
Quote
Grätz's statements ("Shir ha-Shirim," p. 115, and "ḳohelet," p. 169, respecting Akiba's attitude toward the canonicity of the Song of Songs are misconceptions, as Weiss ("Dor," ii. 97) has to some extent shown. To the same motive underlying his antagonism to the Apocrypha, namely, the desire to disarm Christians—especially Jewish Christians— who drew their "proofs" from the Apocrypha, must also be attributed his wish to emancipate the Jews of the Dispersion from the domination of the Septuagint, the errors and inaccuracies in which frequently distorted the true meaning of Scripture, and were even used as arguments against the Jews by the Christians.
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1033-akiba-ben-joseph

The article on Rabbi Akiva gives an example of how Jewish rabbinical theology changed in the period of theological debates with Christianity:
Quote
Akiva's anthropology is based upon the principle that man was created בצלם, that is, not in the image of God—which would be בצלם אלהים—but after an image, after a primordial type; or, philosophically speaking, after an Idea—what Philo calls in agreement with Judean theology, "the first heavenly man" (see Adam ḳadmon). Strict monotheist that Akiva was, he protested against any comparison of God with the angels, and declared the plain interpretation of כאחד ממנו[55] as meaning "like one of us" to be arrant blasphemy.[1][56] It is quite instructive to read how a Christian of Akiva's generation, Justin Martyr, calls the literal interpretation—thus objected to by Akiva—a "Jewish heretical one" (Dial. cum Tryph. lxii.). In his earnest endeavors to insist as strongly as possible upon the incomparable nature of God, Akiva indeed lowers the angels somewhat to the realms of mortals, and, alluding to Ps. lxxviii. 25, maintains that manna is the actual food of the angels.[1][57] This view of Akiva's, in spite of the energetic protests of his colleague Rabbi Ishmael, became the one generally accepted by his contemporaries, as Justin Martyr, l.c., lvii., indicates.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbi_Akiva

Wikipedia's entry also differentiates Rabbi Akiva's views on the "whole of the law" from a view ascribed (perhaps wrongly) to Christians:
Quote
From his views as to the relation between God and man he deduces the inference that he who sheds the blood of a fellow man is to be considered as committing the crime against the divine archetype (דמות) of man.[1][63] He therefore recognizes as the chief and greatest principle of Judaism the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."[1][64] He does not, indeed, maintain thereby that the execution of this command is equivalent to the performance of the whole Law; and in one of his polemic interpretations of Scripture he protests strongly against a contrary opinion allegedly held by Christians, and other non-Jews since the diaspora, according to which Judaism is at best "simply morality."[1][65] For, in spite of his philosophy, Akiva was an extremely strict and national Jew.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbi_Akiva

Matthew 22 goes:
Quote
37. Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38. This is the first and greatest commandment.
39. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Galatians 5 says:
Quote
13. For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another in love.
14. The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
These two passages seem a bit different. However, I think they are not necessarily contradictory. God is also in a sense a neighbor. If one loves one's neighbor as oneself, this will effectively fulfill the first commandment, therefore.

In "Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger: the untold Story of the lost books of the Protestant Bible", Gary G. Michuta writes about the Christians' rejection of Bar Kohba's revolt:
Quote
To accept bar Cochba as Messiah, as Akiba insisted, would have been nothing short of Apostasy; and because of their refusal to do so, Christians were treated by the Jews as heretics and traitors. It is this same Rabbi Akiba who is the very first writer
to explicity and forthrightly reject the inspiration of both the christian New
Testament and the books of the Deuterocanon. Akiba's declaration is found in
Tosefta Yahayim 2:13 which reads;

"The Gospel and heretical books do not defile the hands. The books of Ben Sira and all other books written from then on, do not defile the hands."

Two outstanding points must be drawn from this impious declaration: first, it must have been common knowledge even at this early date that the christians accepted the Deutercanon and used it as Scripture (along with the Gospels), otherwise, there would have been no need to rule against them; secondly that at least some jews must also have shared that acceptance, otherwise Akiba's decree would have been superfluous."
Here we have a hostile witness confirming through his actions that the earliest
christians accepted both the Gospels and the Deuterocanon as inspired and sacred
Scripture. It was in this watershed event- the naming of the false Messiah Bar
Cochba and the Anathematizing of those who rejected him- which occasioned the
very first unquestionable rejection of the Deuteros by a single, widely recognized Jewish authority.



Encyclopedia Judaica notes:
Quote
After the fall of Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin was reconstituted at Jabneh, first under R. Johanan and then under the patriarch Rabban Gamaliel II …"   

BIRKAT  HA-MINIM
…  the 12th benediction of the weekday  *Amidah …
Under Rabban Gamaliel II  (first century C.E.)  this prayer was invoked against the Judeo-Christian and Gnostic sects and other heretics who were called by the general term  *min  (plural minim).   To avoid any suspicion of heresy, the hazzan had  to be certain to recite this prayer in public worship.  If he omitted it by error, he had to return an recite it, although such a regulation does not apply to any other benediction  (Tanh. B., Lev. 2a).
…  The formulation of this prayer is ascribed to  *Samuel ha-Katan, who revised its text after it had fallen into oblivion (Ber. 28b)."         2

MIN
… According to Berakhot 28b, Samuel ha Katan  (fl. c. 80-110), at the invitation of Gamaliel II of Jabneh, composed the  "benediction against the minim,"  included in the Amidah as the twelfth benediction  (see E. J. Bickerman, in HTR, 55  (1962), 171, n. 35).   This was directed primarily against Judeo-Christians (specifically mentioned in one old text—see Schechter, JQR 10 (1897 / 98)),  either to keep them out of the synagogue or to proclaim a definite breach between the two religions." 

AMIDAH
… (12)  Asks God to destroy the malshinim  ("slanderers"  or  "informers"),  all His enemies, and to shatter the  "kingdom of arrogance"  (see below).
… Birkat ha Minim  (benediction 12), introduced in Jabneh by Samuel ha Katan, at the request of Rabban Gamaliel II, … enlarged on the meaning of a previously known benediction, as Shel Paroshin  ("concerning the dissidents")  or Shel Resha’im  ("concerning the wicked").   He did this by applying it specifically to Jewish heretics.  It is generally assumed that this new formulation was meant to force the Judeo-Christians out of the Jewish community; in the Genizah version, the word Nozerim  ("Christians")  actually occurs."   

The Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Rabbi Gamaliel II, says that he
Quote
succeeded Johanan ben Zakkai as leader of a school of [Javneh.] He devoted special attention to the regulation of prayer ritual, which had become all-important since the cessation of sacrificial worship. He gave the principal prayer, the 'amida, consisting of 18 (subsequently 19) benedictions, its final revision and declared that it was every Israelite's duty to recite it three times daily."

The Hebrew 4 Christians website has a translation of the Birkat Ha-Minim in Hebrew and English. The page gives some background:
Quote
Note that in its present form, this blessing does not seem to target Messianic Jewish believers (the key word lamalshinim is normally rendered "for the slanderers"). But the Talmud (B'rakhot 28b-29a) states that the original form of this blessing had the term laminim, which is rendered "for the sectarians," which was generally understood to be the Essenes and Messianic Jews of that time. "If the chazan makes a mistake in any other of the blessings they do not remove him, but if he makes a mistake when saying the Birkat HaMinim they remove him because he is suspected of being a min himself" (B'rakhot 28b).

In short, the "blessing" was used as a sort of litmus test by the Rabbinics: a Messianic Jew could faithfully recite the other eighteen blessings of the Amidah but could hardly invoke a curse on followers of Yeshua the Mashiach. In this way, persons not reciting the Birkat HaMinim were suspected of heresy and subject to cherem (excommunication). 
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Prayers/Daily_Prayers/Shemoneh_Esrei/Birkat_HaMinim/birkat_haminim.html

In considering what groups would be considered Minim, Shaye Cohen in his essay The Significance of Yavneh notes that Justin in his dialogue with Trypho mentions Jewish sects whom the rabbis would consider heretics. In his passage below, Trypho uses the word Orthognomon for the orthodox Christians:
Quote
For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but
who do not admit this [the resurrection], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; ... do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or the similar sects of Genistai, Meristai, Galilaioi, Hellenianoi, Pharisaioi, and Baptistai, are Jews . . .
but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, confessing God with the lips, as God himself declared [Isa. 29:13], but the heart was far from him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead . . . (Dialogue with Trypho 80.4-5).
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1202633.files/Some%20Recommended%20Readings/8REC%20Cohen.pdf

Cohen proposes that,
Quote
this passage reflects the rabbinic ideology of the Yavnean period: there is one "orthodox" Judaism which, while tolerating disputes within the fold (a point not discussed by Justin here), has no room for any group — even Pharisees — which maintains a sectarian self-definition. The rabbis called such groups minim, a term apparently reflected in Justin's Genistai and Meristai.
Cohen also sees the rabbis as the descendants of the sect designated in the NT as the pharisees:
Quote
Part of the answer is the tendency of all sects to refuse to see themselves as sects. They are the orthodox; the wicked multitudes are the heretics. Jewish sects (e.g. Samaritans, Christians, Qumran Essenes) call themselves "Israel;" "Pharisees," which literally means "separatists," was the opprobrious epithet hurled by
opponents.
...
two categories of people could not be incorporated into the Yavnean coalition: those who insisted upon a sectarian self-identification, and those who refused to heed the will of the majority. The former called themselves, or at least were distinctive
enough to be called by others, "Pharisees," "Sadducees," "Christians," or
whatever. All of these persistent sectarians were cursed in the birkat haminim. ...  As a result of this effort to minimize sectarian self-identification, the rabbis did not see
themselves as Pharisees and showed little interest in their sectarian roots.
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1202633.files/Some%20Recommended%20Readings/8REC%20Cohen.pdf
http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1202633.files/Some%20Recommended%20Readings/8REC%20Cohen.pdf
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Offline rakovsky

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Gary Michuta writes about the Council of Jamnia:
Quote
Jamnia was not a council, in the sense of the Council of Trent or the Council of Nicaea,
it  was rather  was an on-going rabbinical  school. The  idea of a “council” crept into everyone’s vocabulary via the writings of the famous Jewish historian H. Graetz  who
was the first to call Jamnia a “synode.”

Christians interpreted Graetz’s synode to mean council.  However, the word council
implies quite a few features that Jamnia did not possess. For example, unlike a Christian council, there were no ballots cast, nor did this body promulgate formal decrees. Rather, Jamnia lasted for a number of years, and its significant opinions is persevered in piecemeal fashion in later Jewish writings.

Jamnia never published or promulgated a list the list of books of the canon nor did it discuss the canon as a whole.
http://www.handsonapologetics.com/Articles/15-Was%20There%20A%20Council%20At%20Jamnia.pdf

The Cairo Geniza (a collection of Jewish writings from 870 AD to 1880) has a weekday Amidah prayer with the following version of the Birkat Ha-Minim:
Quote
For the traitors [lit. "informers" or "talebearers"] let there be no hope; may the kingdom of maliciousness be quickly uprooted, and the Christians and sectarians swept away at once: may they be erased from the Book of Life, and not recorded therein with the righteous. Blessed are you, Hashem, who subdues the wicked.
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A book I mentioned the other day also mentions 'synod' used in a different manner than the standard 'council' way:

"But as the liturgy itself was never entirely divorced from conciliarity--it is, I think, quite significant that at a time when the term 'synod' had become a terminus technicus for the formal councils people could use it for the liturgy1--conciliar action was at once the way to exclusion from and the gate to acceptance into the fellowship of the Lord's Table."


1  See e.g. J Chrysostom, De Proph. obsc., 2, 5 (Migne PG 56, 182). Also: Jerome, Epist. ad Heliodorum, 12 (Migne PL 22, 597).


-- John Zizioulas, Councils and the Ecumenical Movement, p. 48

Offline rakovsky

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Thanks for sharing.
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Offline rakovsky

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One of the questions among scholars is whether the Birkat Ha-Minim refers to Christians.

Jewish Encyclopedia's article on the Minim (heretics) suggests that it did refer to them:
Quote
It is variously used in the Talmud and the Midrash for the Samaritan, the Sadducee, the Gnostic, the Judæo-Christian, and other sectaries, according to the epoch to which the passage belongs. Yerushalmi states that there were, at the time of the destruction of the Temple, no less than twenty-four kinds of minim (Yer. Sanh. x. 5).
...
In passages referring to the Christian period, "minim" usually indicates the Judæo-Christians, the Gnostics, and the Nazarenes, who often conversed with the Rabbis on the unity of God, creation, resurrection, and similar subjects (comp. Sanh. 39b). In some passages, indeed, it is used even for "Christian"; but it is possible that in such cases it is a substitution for the word "Noẓeri," which was the usual term for "Christian."
...
On the invitation of Gamaliel II., Samuel ha-Ḳaṭan composed a prayer against the minim which was inserted in the "Eighteen Benedictions"; it is called "Birkat ha-Minim" and forms the twelfth benediction; but instead of the original "Noẓerim" (= "Nazarenes"; see Krauss in "J. Q. R." v. 55; comp. Bloch, "Die Institutionen des Judenthums," i. 193) the present text has "wela-malshinim" (="and to the informers"). The cause of this change in the text was, probably, the accusation brought by the Church Fathers against the Jews of cursing all the Christians under the name of the Nazarenes.

Ben Zion Binyamin in his article on the Birkat Ha-Minim links a reference to informers in a version of the Birkat to the Christians' status in the Roman empire. He sees the Birkat as directed against Christians:
Quote
During  the  first  generations  of  [the Birkat's]  existence  (until  the  second  century),  it  would seem  that  the  blessing  offered  in  the  synagogue  was  directed  at  groups  outside  of Judaism  and  in  conflict with it, such as the  Samaritans (kutim), the early Christians (during   the   days  when  the   Roman   Empire   and   its  rulers  were   pagans),  the Ebionites, the Gnostics, and  so on.

Christianity  became  the  official  religion  of  the  Roman  Empire,  and  from  then
onwards  the  attitude  of  the  Empire  to  Jews  and  Judaism  became  more  severe.
... Against  this  background,  it  is  reasonable that Birkat  ha-Minim  would  be  directed  against  the  new  reality,  in  which  Judaism  was threatened  by  the  Christians.  The  Christians  are,  on the one  hand, the  “informers” (malshinim),  the minim,  and  the  “collaborators” (mosrim)  and,  on  the  other,  the allies  o f  the  Roman  Empire,  the  “evil  kingdom” {malkhut  ha-rish'ah,  malkhut zadori).

The  Christians were hurt and outraged by the use of Birkat ha-Minim, in which they
were  cursed  three  times  a  day  in  the  synagogues  (in  the  morning,  afternoon,  and evening  prayers).   This  was  expressed   in  the   protests  of  the  Christian  writers Epiphanius  (315 - 403  ־C.E.)30 and  Jerome  (342 - 429  ־C.E.).31  The  harsh  reactions  of the  Christian  writers  of the  fourth  century  and  those  of the  previous  generations, Origenes  (185-254  ־C.E.)32  and  Justinius  (middle  of the  second  century  C.E.), as well  as  certain  traces  which  may  perhaps  be  discerned  in  the  New  Testament [show the effects of the Birkat]...
...
The  evidence  for  this  atmosphere  of inter-religious  enmity in the Jewish sources of
the  6th  and 7th centuries is exemplified in the mentioning of Christians in different
versions  of Birkat  ha-Minim  found  in  the  Cairo  genizah.40  This  inclusion  o f  the
Christians  continued  until  1426, when it appeared in the prayer book of R.  Amram
Gaon.
http://www.etrfi.info/immanuel/21/Immanuel_21_068.pdf

The countermissionary Nehemiah Gordon agrees that the Birkat was anti-Christian:
Quote
Historical sources, most notably the Talmud, inform us that this 19th benediction was added to the Amidah around the year 90 CE in order to prevent those Jews who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah from participating in synagogue services.
http://blog.judahgabriel.com/2010/02/karaite-nehemia-gordon-on-yeshua.html

Wikipedia also says this:
Quote
Modern scholarship has generally evaluated that the Birkat haMinim probably did originally include Jewish Christians before Christianity became markedly a gentile religion.

According to the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Berakhot 28b–29a, Shmuel ha-Katan was responsible for the writing of the Birkat haMinim:

    "Rabban Gamaliel said to the sages: Is there no one who knows how to compose a benediction against the minim? Samuel Ha-Qatan stood up and composed it."
...
The extent of reference to Notzrim (as per the Cairo Genizah), or application of minim to Christians is debated.
...
Many scholars have seen reference to the Birkat haMinim in Justin Martyr's complaint to Trypho of the Jews "cursing in your synagogues those that believe on Christ." Reuven Kimelman (1981) challenged this, noting that Justin's description places the curse in the wrong sequence in the synagogue service.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkat_haMinim

Jewish Virtual Library sees the Birkat as originally referring to Christians:
Quote
Birkat ha-Minim is also distinguished from the other Amidah benedictions by the fact that it was appended after the formulation and fixing of the Amidah text. The tradition of its secondary addition at Jabneh is shared by TJ (Ber. 4:3, 8a) and TB, which attributes its formulation to Samuel ha-Katan at the explicit request of the Nasi, Rabban Gamliel (Ber. 28b).
...
One view holds that the tradition reflected by TB (ibid.) should be accepted literally; accordingly Birkat ha-Minim was formulated at Jabneh and added to the already existing eighteen benedictions (see Fleischer), upping the number to nineteen. Accepted in this nineteen-benediction form in the early Babylonian rite, it was subsequently transmitted from this rite to all prayer books up to the present. Others contend (see Heinemann) that Rabban Gamliel's request simply concerned the updating of an already existing benediction among the eighteen – whose content spoke out in general against separatists (see T. Ber. 3:25) – to incorporate explicit mention of the minim. This also explains why the versions of the Amidah in the Palestinian rite number only eighteen benedictions, inclusive of Birkat ha-Minim.
...
 The relatively crystallized wording of the benediction in the extant early siddurim (ninth to twelfth centuries) makes it likely that the text preserved there closely resembles its original formulation. We find the following wording in a Palestinian siddur from the Cairo Genizah:
    For the apostates let there be no hope. And let the arrogant government be speedily uprooted in our days. Let the noẓerim and the minim be destroyed in a moment. And let them be blotted out of the Book of Life and not be inscribed together with the righteous. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant"

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/birkat-ha-minim

The entry proposes that early on the text was openly against the Nazoreans (Notzirim/noẓerim), but that this part was expunged due to objections:
Quote
... as early as the first centuries C.E. we find church fathers voicing the claim that the Jews curse the Christians in their prayers. Such contentions, alongside censorship of siddurim, wrought significant changes in the wording of the benediction during the Middle Ages. Also contributing to this modificatory process were shifts in the social environment of the Jews and in their worldview. Without exception, the word noẓerim was expunged from all Jewish prayer rites.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/birkat-ha-minim

Ruth Langer takes a cautious approach, saying:
Quote
while it is abundantly clear that the birkat haminim eventually was, in its medieval forms, a curse of Christians,5 we simply cannot document this in the period of its putative origins in the late first or early second century CE.
http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/lan368024.shtml

She refers to rabbinical texts in the Talmud narrating the introduction of the Birkat as happening in the 1st century AD. But she also says:
Quote
All of the rabbinic texts report that it hails from centuries after the purported date of this event.
That is, the Birkat in its current form comes from centuries after the 1st century when it was added. However, even if the Birkat today comes from a later time, the story still suggests that there was a birkat imposed on heretics at that early time. She notes:
Quote
Epiphanius in his Panarion 29:9, written 374-377, describes the Nazoraeans, a group of Jews who accept Jesus as the Christ, as people whom the Jews curse and anathematize three times a day in the synagogue. This suggests the context in which the birkat haminim occurs.
{Jerome] accuses Jews of blasphemously cursing all Christians as Nazaraeans three times a day.
...
The story of the implementation of the birkat haminim under Rabban Gamliel appears only in the Babylonian Talmud, a text that was redacted half a millennium after the “event.” A shred of the story appears also in the fifth-century Jerusalem Talmud, but it lacks the critical details.
She also questions whether minim mean the same as the Nazoreans, asking:
Quote
If it means “Christians,” then why do the geniza texts of the prayer consistently pair it with notzerim, which more clearly refers to Christians, or at least Jewish-Christians?
Maybe the answer is that there minim heretics are a broad category, of whom the Christian Nazoreans were only a subgroup.
Her conclusion nonetheless suggests that there was in fact an anti-Christian Birkat in at least the late 1st to 2nd century:
Quote
What we can say is that by the time of the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the prayer had begun to serve this function: first as a curse of heretics/sectarians and (Jewish) Christians and then at some later date broadening to address Jews who accepted baptism, all Christians, and the governing powers who persecuted Jews.
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Offline rakovsky

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To clarify, the Gamaliel who promoted the Birkat Ha-Minim was Gamaliel II, not the Gamaliel in Acts.

Rabbi Reiss makes an interesting observation with speculation:
Quote
The Talmud then tells us that one year later Samuel was leading the prayers and forgot the prayer and kept trying to remember it. Nothing is said about why he forgot. Remember that prayers were not written down at the time, everything was oral. The question remains why did he forget or why does the Talmud tell us he forgot. Did he think the prayer was unimportant? Was he himself a believer-in-Jesus? Samuel was one of two people called by a ‘bat kol’ – a heavenly voice - as worthy of being a prophet (the other was Hillel the elder). Was he old and senile? Why did not someone else remind him of what he had composed a year earlier. We are not told.
Maybe the Talmud is implying by this story that Samuel Ha-katan himself fell into heresy temporarily.

Here is how the Berakoth 28-29 addresses that question:
Quote
The next year  he forgot it and he tried for two or three hours to recall it, and they did not remove him.

Why did they not remove him seeing that Rab Judah has said in the name of Rab: If a reader made a mistake in any of the other benedictions, they do not remove him, but if in the benediction of the Minim, he is removed, because we suspect him of being a Min? — Samuel the Lesser is different, because he composed it. But is there not a fear that he may have recanted? — Abaye said: We have a tradition that a good man does not become bad. But does he not? It is not written, But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity?  — Such a man was originally wicked, but one who was originally righteous does not do so. But is that so? Have we not learnt: Believe not in thyself until the day of thy death?  For lo, Johanan the High Priest officiated as High Priest for eighty years and in the end he became a Min? Abaye said: Johanan  is the same as Jannai.  Raba said: Johanan and Jannai are different; Jannai was originally wicked and Johanan was originally righteous. On Abaye's view there is no difficulty, but on Raba's view there is a difficulty? — Raba can reply: For one who was originally righteous it is also possible to become a renegade. If that is the case, why did they not remove him? — Samuel the Lesser is different, because he had already commenced to say it [the benediction]. For Rab Judah said in the name of Rab — or as some say. R. Joshua b. Levi: This applies only if he has not commenced to say it, but if he has commenced, he is allowed to finish.

Rabbi Reiss writes:
Quote
The earliest version of the prayer found in the Cairo Geniza states ‘As for the ‘noz’rim’ and ‘minim’ may they be cut down speedily’. That text comes from approximately the tenth century. Do we know what ‘noz'rim’ meant in the tenth century; Yes Christians, those from Nazareth. (It is still the Hebrew word for Christians.) Did the prayer say that in the second century? We do not have the original text of the ‘Birkhat Ha’minim’. Can we assume that ‘noz'rim’ was in the original text? There is no reason to make such an assumption.
http://www.moshereiss.org/christianity/08_parting/08_parting.htm

The narration by Epiphanius (315-403) of the cursing of the Nazoreans (Jewish Christians) goes:
Quote
"Not only do Jewish people have a hatred of their enemies; they even stand up at dawn, at midday, and toward evening, three times a day when they recite their prayers in the synagogue, and curse and anathemize them. Three times a day they say, 'God curse the Nazoreans.' For they harbor an extra grudge against them . . . because, despite their Jewishness, they preach that Jesus is the Christ, the opposite of those who are still Jews, for they have not accepted Jesus."
The thing is, while we don't have a copy written in the 1st-2nd century of this curse, we have so much multiple attestation, that it appears such a thing existed:
Jerome, Origen, Epiphanius, and Justin Martyr in the 2nd-4th centuries narrated this. And then we have both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. And we find Rabbi Akiva (50-135 AD) rejected the Christian writings as heretical, reflecting that the Jewish Christians were already rejected in the early 2nd century. And then we have the thrice daily Birkats against Christians and heretics more generally, known from medieval times.

Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben-David also proposes that the Birkat Ha-Minim preceded Christianity's appearance, citing Encyclopedia Judaica:
Quote
"Prevailing scholarly opinion, based upon [Qō•hëlꞋët] 36:7, holds that this [imprecation] originated during the Syrian- Hellenistic oppression in the time of the Second Temple [sic]" (Meir Ydit, Encyclopedia Judaica). In other words, the Bi•rᵊk•atꞋ ha-Min•imꞋ, the 12th bᵊrâkh•âhꞋ of the weekday Shᵊmōn•ëhꞋ Ësᵊr•eihꞋ, originated not with Rab•ânꞋ Ga•mᵊl•iy•eilꞋ Jr. ("Gamliel II") Bën-Shi•mᵊōnꞋ Bën-Ga•mᵊl•iy•eilꞋ ha-Za•qeinꞋ in ca. 80 C.E. but in B.C.E. 175-164, nearly 3 centuries earlier...

"At that time, the [imprecation] was known as the 'Benediction to Him Who humbles the arrogant.' A century later the imprecation was directed against the Tzᵊdoq•imꞋ, and it was designated as the "Benediction concerning the Tzᵊdoq•imꞋ." Under Rab•ânꞋ Ga•mᵊl•iy•eilꞋ Jr. ("Gamliel II") this [imprecation] was invoked against the the [Hellenist Ëvᵊyōn•imꞋ][Ebionite Christians] and Gnostic sects and other heretics who were called by the general term min (plural min•imꞋ)·"
(Meir Ydit, Encyclopedia Judaica).

"it is possible to distinguish historically two semantic phases in the use of the term." In the first century C.E., it referred to "heretic Jews". After 135 C.E., however, the term referred primarily to misojudaic Gnostics and gentile Christians in the Gâ•lilꞋ during the time of Hadrian (117-138 C.E.) "when the Jews were forbidden to study Tor•âhꞋ and the [Christians under the 1stPope, Markus, in Aelia Capitolina, the city dedicated to Ζεύς] were accused of betraying those who [secretly] studied [Tor•âhꞋ, contrary to the law of the Hellenist Roman occupiers,] to the Hellenist Roman [occupiers]" (Parkes, p. 110).
http://www.netzarim.co.il/Shared/Birkat%20Ha-Minim,%20the%20Notzrim,%20and%20Jerome%20(XML).htm
The complaint referenced above was that Jewish Christians were teaching the Torah (Books of Moses) to gentiles (the gentile Christians).
Unfortunately, Ben-David's essay doesn't really explain the sources and basis for thinking that the Birkat existed already in the times of the pre-Roman Second Temple period. But I don't find his essay very reliable. For example, he claims "Nō•tzᵊr•imꞋ (Christians) aren't mentioned in Ta•lᵊmudꞋ". However, Christians and particularly Nazarenes are mentioned numerous times in the Talmud in fact. There are stories about Jacob of Sepphoris (probably Jesus' brother James), as well as discussions on the difference between Ebionites and Nazarenes.

Allan Nadler talked about how rabbis changed the text of the Birkat in medieval times from referencing heretics, in order to avoid making it a curse against Christians:
Quote
In Christian Northern Europe, especially in the High Middle Ages, there was widespread consent among the rabbis that Birkat ha-Minim was indeed formulated with Christians in mind, and was still to be directed against them.  In Italy and Muslim lands, the matter was far more muddled. But it was particularly during times of persecution of Judaism by the Roman Catholic Church that many rabbinical authorities apologetically reversed this understanding, denying that the entreaty for the downfall of Israel’s enemies had anything to do with Christians.
...
All such denials that Gentile Christians were the intended objects of the prayer notwithstanding, Christians (“notsrim” in Hebrew) are explicitly mentioned by name in many of its early variants.  But while notsrim became an undifferentiated term in later Hebrew usage, during Christianity’s early centuries, as Epiphanius makes clear, the word probably referred solely to Jewish believers in Jesus’s ministry—and not to his Greek Gentile followers.
http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/4489/features/jews-curse-christians/

Nadler discusses Langer's book on the topic:
Quote
Modern scholars, while not uncritically accepting the talmudic account, have tended to concur with the early dating of Birkat ha-Minim suggested by both Christian and Jewish ecclesiasts... Langer questions whether it is indeed the case, as the Talmud recounts, that the first-century Sages instituted this appeal to God to destroy the Jewish followers of Jesus. ...

Ironically enough, the Church Fathers who railed against this prayer were in essential agreement with the talmudic rabbis about its origins—if not entirely about its precise objects. Patristic writers commonly cited John 9:20, which recounts how the parents of a blind boy miraculously cured by Jesus refused to admit to the Pharisees any knowledge of a miracle "because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue." The alleged means by which the Jews effected the banishment of believers in Jesus from the synagogue was the institution of a prayer cursing them. The Talmud's account of the prayer's etiology places it barely a generation later, when the sage of Yavneh, Gamliel II, established it in response to the proliferation of sectarians following the Temple's destruction, in 70 C.E.
http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/4489/features/jews-curse-christians/

I have seen modern writings claiming in relation to the Birkat that John's gospel references the putting out of Christians from the synagogues. However, I don't know anyplace in John's gospel that such a Birkat is ever referenced.

Prof. L. Schiffman takes the view that the Birkat was reformulated in the 1st century to be aimed against Christians:
Quote
A number of tannaitic restrictions directed against minim clearly refer to the early Jewish Christians, as can be shown from their content and date. ... The birkat haminim, the benediction against heretics, was adapted from an older benediction, the purpose of which was to ask divine punishment on the paroshim, those who had separated themselves from the community. This benediction was now reformulated to include explicit mention of the minim, here primarily Jewish Christians. In this way, the birkat haminim functioned to exclude such people from serving as precentors in the synagogue.  Indeed, this benediction probably went a long way toward making the Jewish Christians feel unwelcome in the synagogue and causing them to worship separately.
...
Rabban Gamliel (II) asked for a volunteer to compose the benediction against the minim.  Samuel HaQa‹an stood up and adapted the previously existing benediction to include the minim.  In a later year, he was called upon to serve as precentor.  In the course of the service, he was unable to recite the benediction against the minim.   Nonetheless, even after several hours of trying to recall it, the Rabbis did not remove him as precentor.
...
B. Berakhot 29a asks why he was not removed.  After all, it was the purpose of this blessing to ensure that the precentor was not one of those heretics cursed in the benediction.  The Talmud answers that since Samuel HaQatan had himself composed it, it could be assumed that he was not a min.
http://lawrenceschiffman.com/the-benediction-against-the-minim

Prof. Schiffman also expects that the 1st c. form of the Birkat did directly reference the Christian Nazoreans:
Quote
May we assume that this version of the benediction represents the text as it was recited by Samuel HaQatan before the sages of Yavneh?  On the one hand, the Palestinian liturgical material found in the Cairo Genizah generally preserves the traditions of Palestinian Jewry in the amoraic (Byzantine) period. On the other hand, there may be external evidence that this benediction was recited during the tannaitic period, and that it included explicit reference to no§rim. Three passages in the Gospel of John (9:22, 12:42, 16:2) mention the expulsion of Christians from the synagogue.
...
This curse [that the Church fathers mention] could only be found in the Eighteen Benedictions since it would be the only thricedaily recitation in the synagogue services. If Justin Martyr were referring to this benediction, then we would have confirmation from the midsecond century that the Christians were specifically mentioned in this prayer. Further, while the version before us differentiates minim from Christians, it should be remembered that many Rabbinic texts speak of the minim and clearly designate believers in Jesus.
John 9:22 says:
Quote
(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Him[Jesus] to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)
This passage in John doesn't specifically reference the Birkat. Conceivably, John could have been drafted in its basic form after the rabbis rejected Christians from the synagogues but before the Birkat was imposed.

Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho writes about this:
Quote
For you slew the just one (Jesus) and his prophets before him, and now you . . . dishonour those that set their hope on him, and God Almighty and Maker of the Universe that sent him, cursing in your synagogues them that believe in Christ.
...
I declare that they of the seed of Abraham who live according to the Law . . . will not be saved, and especially they who in the synagogues have anathematized, and still anathematize, those who believe in that very Christ….
[Justin accuses the Jews... of] cursing even them who prove that he who was crucified by you is the Christ.

[Justin again accuses the Jews of cursing Jesus and Christians. Then he appeals to the Jews not to revile Jesus] As the rulers of your synagogues teach you, after the prayer.

In Jews and Christians, edited by James D. G. Dunn, it is said that the Birkat in "all extant versions" includes a condemnation of the "arrogant kingdom", which the book takes to be a reference to the Roman empire.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 07:28:35 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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The Jerusalem Talmud 4.3 (Page 368, https://sanctuaryinterfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Jerusalem-Talmud.pdf) discusses the section of the Amidah that has the Birkat Ha-Minim. It tries to give reasons why there are 19 birkats in the Amidah. It says:
Quote
Rebbi Eleazar ben Rebbi Yose objected before Rebbi Yose, but is it not written (Ps. 29:3) "the God of Glory thundered[144]"? He said to him: Has it not been stated: He takes together the one against sectarians and sinners in "He Who subdues offenders"[145], the one for elders and proselytes in "Assurance to the righteous", and the one for David in "He Who builds Jerusalem. Then you have enough to have a Divine name for each one of them.

Footnote
[144] The mention of God introduces a nineteenth Divine name.
[145] The text of Jabneh must have been close to today's Yemenite
version: [Hebrew words are quoted]
I don't really understand how this #144 "introduces a nineteenth Divine name."
The Yemenite version goes in English: "The minim and the betrayers [moserim] shall perish in an instant."

A fuller English translation of the Yemenite version of the Birkat Ha-Minim goes:
"May there be no hope for apostates; may all the minim [and the informers/mesorim] immediately perish and may You uproot and smash the empire of insolence speedily in our day. Blessed are You, Eternal, who breaks enemies and humbles the insolent."

Although Jewish Virtual Library says:
Quote
The tradition of its secondary addition at Jabneh is shared by TJ (Ber. 4:3, 8a)
and I was able to find the reference to the Javneh Birkat in Ber. 4:3, I am not sure unfortunately what 8a refers to. Maybe it is a subsection of Ber. 4:3? Or is 8A a specific second reference to the Birkat to be found in Talmud J. Berakot?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 08:10:04 PM by rakovsky »
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1st c. Roman bust said to be of Flavius Josephus

Quote
Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100) was born Joseph ben Matityahu... in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.
...
He initially fought against the Romans during the First Jewish–Roman War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee, until surrendering in 67 CE to Roman forces led by Vespasian... Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianic prophecies that initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome. In response Vespasian decided to keep Josephus as a slave and interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor's family name of Flavius. Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship.
...
Josephus introduces himself in Greek as Iōsēpos (Ιώσηπος), son of Matthias, an ethnic Jewish Priest. Their mother was an aristocratic woman who descended from the royal and formerly ruling Hasmonean dynasty. ...  In his 1991 book, Steve Mason argued that Josephus was not a Pharisee but an orthodox Aristocrat-Priest who became associated with the philosophical school of the Pharisees as a matter of deference...

[As for responsibility for the revolt, in Wars of the Jews,] Josephus also blames some of the Roman governors of Judea, representing them as atypically corrupt and incompetent administrators.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus

The Wiki entry mentions a story of how Josephus surrendered to Rome when he was a rebel leader:
Quote
After the Jewish garrison of Yodfat fell under siege, the Romans invaded, killing thousands; the survivors committed suicide. According to Josephus, he was trapped in a cave with 40 of his companions in July 67 CE. The Romans (commanded by Flavius Vespasian and his son Titus, both subsequently Roman emperors) asked the group to surrender, but they refused. Josephus suggested a method of collective suicide;[14] they drew lots and killed each other, one by one, counting to every third person. Two men were left (this method as a mathematical problem is referred to as the Josephus problem, or Roman roulette),[15] who surrendered to the Roman forces and became prisoners.
...
His critics were never satisfied as to why he failed to commit suicide in Galilee, and after his capture, accepted the patronage of Romans.
There is a theory that Josephus could have arranged the order of the roulette so that he ended up surviving. E. Mary Smallwood writes:
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    [Josephus] was guilty of shocking duplicity at Jotapata, saving himself by sacrifice of his companions; he was too naive to see how he stood condemned out of his own mouth for his conduct, and yet no words were too harsh when he was blackening his opponents...
Josephus, Flavius: The Jewish War. Translated by G. A. Williamson, introduction by E. Mary Smallwood. New York, Penguin, 1981, p. 24.

Another curious feature of his story is his claim of prophecy:
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While being confined at Yodfat (Jotapata), Josephus claimed to have experienced a divine revelation, that later led to his speech predicting Vespasian would become emperor. After the prediction came true, he was released by Vespasian, who considered his gift of prophecy to be divine. Josephus wrote that his revelation had taught him three things: that God, the creator of the Jewish people, had decided to "punish" them, that "fortune" had been given to the Romans, and that God had chosen him "to announce the things that are to come".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus

One of the major questions among historians is whether Josephus included an account of Jesus or if this was a later Christian interpolation. I think that he did for a few reasons. His work is detailed enough to mention different Jewish sects and leaders, like the Essenes, John the Baptist, and Jesus' brother James. And the Christians in the time of writing his book had grown strongly among Jewish sects. It's only natural that Josephus would say something about them.

An interesting point about Josephus' Antiquities is:
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He outlines Jewish history beginning with the creation, as passed down through Jewish historical tradition. Abraham taught science to the Egyptians, who, in turn, taught the Greeks.[48] Moses set up a senatorial priestly aristocracy, which, like that of Rome, resisted monarchy.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus#cite_ref-22

The Wikipedia entry on Josephus' writings on Jesus, James, and John the Baptist explains how they differ from the gospels' descriptions.
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Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus Christ in Books 18 and 20 and a reference to John the Baptist in Book 18... A number of variations exist between the statements by Josephus regarding the deaths of James and John the Baptist and the New Testament accounts.[17][21] Scholars generally view these variations as indications that the Josephus passages are not interpolations, for a Christian interpolator would have made them correspond to the New Testament accounts, not differ from them.
...
The context of the passage is the period following the death of Porcius Festus, and the journey to Alexandria by Lucceius Albinus, the new Roman Procurator of Judea, who held that position from 62 AD to 64 AD.[25] Because Albinus' journey to Alexandria had to have concluded no later than the summer of 62 AD, the date of James' death can be assigned with some certainty to around that year.
...
While both the gospels and Josephus refer to Herod Antipas killing John the Baptist, they differ on the details and the motive. The gospels present this as a consequence of the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias in defiance of Jewish law (as in Matthew 14:4, Mark 6:18); Josephus refers to it as a pre-emptive measure by Herod to quell a possible uprising.

Arabic and Syriac Josephus

There are subtle yet key differences between the Greek manuscripts and these texts. For instance, the Arabic version does not blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. The key phrase "at the suggestion of the principal men among us" reads instead "Pilate condemned him to be crucified". And instead of "he was Christ," the Syriac version has the phrase "he was believed to be Christ". Drawing on these textual variations, scholars have suggested that these versions of the Testimonium more closely reflect what a non-Christian Jew might have written.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

The earliest known reference to Josephus' mention of Jesus is by Origen (3rd c.), who refers to Josephus' record of "the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ)" in Book I, Chapter XLVII of Against Celsus. Origen noted that Josephus did not recognize Jesus as "the Christ" when mentioning him in "Antiquities of the Jews".
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Offline rakovsky

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According to one of the Church fathers IIRC, Josephus had recorded that people thought Jerusalem was destroyed as retribution by God due to James' killing. Wikipedia notes about this:
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Josephus' account places the date of the death of James as AD 62.[80] This date is supported by Jerome's 'seventh year of the Emperor Nero', although Jerome may simply be drawing this from Josephus.[81] However, James' successor as leader of the Jerusalem church, Simeon, is not, in tradition, appointed till after the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, and Eusebius' notice of Simeon implies a date for the death of James immediately before the siege, i.e. about AD 69.
...
John Painter states that the relationship of the death of James to the siege is an important theologoumenon in the early church.[21] On the basis of the Gospel accounts it was concluded that the fate of the city was determined by the death there of Jesus.[21] To account for the 35 year difference, Painter states that the city was preserved temporarily by the presence within it of a 'just man' (see also Sodom); who was identified with James, as confirmed by Origen. Hence Painter states that the killing of James restarted the clock that led to the destruction of the city and that the traditional dating of 69 AD simply arose from an over-literal application of the theologoumenon, and is not to be regarded as founded on a historical source.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#Variations_from_Christian_sources
« Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 12:39:12 AM by rakovsky »
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In Book II, Chapter 23.20 of Church History, Eusebius writes:
Quote
Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, "These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man."
Wikipedia mentions that this quote by Josephus is not found in our extant copies of Josephus.

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One of the key internal arguments against the total authenticity of the Testimonium is that the clear inclusion of Christian phraseology strongly indicates the presence of some interpolations.[109] For instance, the phrases "if it be lawful to call him a man" suggests that Jesus was more than human and is likely a Christian interpolation... Andreas Köstenberger states that the fact that the 10th-century Arabic version of the Testimonium (discovered in the 1970s) lacks distinct Christian terminology while sharing the essential elements of the passage indicates that the Greek Testimonium has been subject to interpolation.
...
Origen's statement in his Commentary on Matthew (Book X, Chapter 17) that Josephus "did not accept Jesus as Christ", is usually seen as a confirmation of the generally accepted fact that Josephus did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah.[73][115] This forms a key external argument against the total authenticity of the Testimonium in that Josephus, as a Jew, would not have claimed Jesus as the Messiah, and the reference to "he was Christ" in the Testimonium must be a Christian interpolation... Craig Evans states that an argument in favor of the partial authenticity of the Testimonium is that the passage does not exaggerate the role played by the Jewish leaders in the death of Jesus.[134] According to Evans, if the passage had been an interpolation after the emergence of conflicts between Jews and Christians, it would have had a more accusative tone, but in its current form reads as one would expect it to read for a passage composed by Josephus towards the end of the first century.
...
One of the arguments against the authenticity of the James passage has been that in the Jewish Wars Josephus portrays the High Priest Ananus in a positive manner, while in the Antiquities he writes of Ananus in a negative tone.[92] Louis Feldman rejects these arguments against the authenticity of the James passage and states that in several other unrelated cases the Jewish War also differs from the Antiquities, and that an interpolator would have made the two accounts correspond more closely to each other, not make them differ... John Painter states that the difference in the context for the Jewish Wars and the Antiquities may also account for some of the differences in tone between them, e.g. when writing of Ananus in a positive tone in the Jewish Wars the context was Ananus' prudence in avoiding a war and hence Josephus considered that a positive aspect.[151] However, when writing in the Antiquities about the actions of Ananus which resulted in his demotion from the High Priesthood, the context required the manifestation of a negative aspect of Ananus' character.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#Variations_from_Christian_sources

Some scholars propose this version to be original:
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Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
This modern scholars' proposed version removes any reference to him as "Christ". I think that this proposed passage though likely is not correct, because in the ending it refers to Christians being named after him. Hence, it's actually more likely that Josephus did mention that at least some people called him Christ. The 10th c. Arabic version of this passage runs:
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"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus.  And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.
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Offline rakovsky

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Peter Kirby of the Early Writings site takes the view that Josephus' passage on Jesus is made up based on Ken Olson's claims:
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In Adversus Hieroclem Eusebius argued that if he had to accept the supernatural feats attributed to Apollonius, he must regard him as a GOHS [wizard] rather than a wise man (A.H. 5); here he has Josephus call Jesus a 'wise man' and thus, implicitly, not a GOHS.

I don't see much strength in that argument that this means Josephus' passage is made up. Just because Josephus and Eusebius use "wise man" in this sense doesn't mean that Eusebius made up this passage as if it were by Josephus. There could have been a common use of this term in that time period for "sages". The sage was a wise man in ancient Judaism, and so for example rabbinical tradition refers to the elders, rabbis, and "the sages".

Olson also writes:
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The term PARADOXWN ERGWN POIHTHS is markedly Eusebian. POIHTHS never occurs in Josephus in the sense of "maker" rather than "poet," and the only time Josephus combines forms of PARADOXOS and POIHW it is in the sense of "acting contrary to custom" (A.J. 12.87) rather than "making miracles." Combining forms of PARADOXOS and POIHW in the sense of "miracle-making" is exceedingly common in Eusebius, but he seems to reserve the three words PARADOXOS, POIHW, and ERGON, used together, to describe Jesus (D.E. 114-115, 123, 125, H.E. 1.2.23)
I don't think that this disproves that the passage was by Josephus either. Josephus as a nonChristian Jew could have implied in using this phrase that Jesus was acting contrary to custom, as he used it elsewhere.
Second, couldn't Josephus have used this in the sense that Jesus was a poet, considering his parables, allegories, and his ordered sayings like the Sermon on the Mount? After all, Josephus emphasizes how John the Baptist was a moralistic teacher, so the concept of a moral philosopher or poet would seem conceivable in Josephus' style. Besides, Josephus could have made a play on words, using both poet and miracle worker.

Next, Kirby quotes Olson and writes:
Quote
Olson argues:
  •     Eusebius' opponents were not denying that Jesus was crucified by the Roman and Jewish authorities; this was probably a main part of their argument that Jesus was a GOHS. Eusebius, however, cleverly inverts this argument. If Jesus had been a deceiver, and his followers had been deceivers, would not self-interest have compelled them to abandon his teachings after they had witnessed the manner of his death at the hands of the authorities? The fact that they did not abandon Jesus after witnessing the punishments he had brought upon himself can only mean that the disciples had recognized some greater than normal virtue in their teacher. This argument is developed at great length in D.E. 3.5, but I shall quote only a part of it here, "Perhaps you will say that the rest were wizards no less than their guide. Yes - but surely they had all seen the end of their teacher, and the death to which He came. Why then after seeing his miserable end did they stand their ground?" (D.E. 111).

Olson concludes: "the Testimonium follows Eusebius' line of argument in the Demonstratio so closely that it is not only very unlikely that it could have been written by Josephus, but it is unlikely it could have been written by any other Christian, or even by Eusebius for another work. There is nothing in the language or content of the Testimonium, as it appears in the Demonstratio Evangelica, that suggests it is anything other than a completely Eusebian composition."
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html#authentic2

I find this argument against authenticity to be very weak. Josephus' passage (Arabic version) goes:
Quote
Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.
I understand that this argument - that Jesus was killed, his disciples didn't abandon him, and that they said that he appeared to them and thus could be the Messiah - was made by Josephus and later was an argument made by Eusebius. But I don't see why no other Christian writer would make this argument besides Eusebius. In fact, an explanation for the coincidence seems rational to me to be that Josephus included this argument and then Eusebius read it and used it himself.

On one hand, Josephus did not announce him as Christ, but he is in fact making an argument opening this possibility. So I can see that one can use that fact to doubt the passage's authenticity. On the other hand, it seems to me a reasonable possibility that Josephus did open this possibility, without nonetheless becoming a Christian. Consider that like Josephus, the Christians were quite tolerant of Roman authority. And Josephus' sense of Messianic identity was not a matter of strict adherence to the rabbinical view, or else he wouldn't have named Vespasian the Messiah. Further, we know from the New Testament that there were secret Christians like Nicodemus, as well as pharisees who at least had respectful private discussions with Jesus.

Finally, if one considers that the passage about James is authentic, then it also suggests that Josephus was at least a partial sympathizer of Christians - he said that good Judeans objected to James being killed by the Sanhedrin. Not only that, but the Romans punished Ananus with demotion for killing James, which suggests that in Josephus' Roman Judea, the Romans themselves had a certain level of sympathy for the Christians. The idea might sound strange, but consider that the Romans did allow the Christian movement to continue, they allowed the Christians to continue worshiping in the Temple, and that according to Hegessippus James himself went to the holy of holies in the Temple.

Those who argue that the passage about Jesus is made up, I think don't pay enough attention to the Arabic version's implications. The Arabic version only says that Jesus could have been the Christ, not that he was. It's certainly more likely that the Arabic version is earlier than the Greek and Latin versions that say that Jesus was the Christ. On one hand, since Origen said that Josephus didn't consider Jesus to be Christ, then at the least whether Josephus was open to the possibility, the current Latin and greek version must not be original in its current form. Also considering whether the Latin and Greek version is not original, it does not make sense why a later version (eg possibly the Arabic one) would downgrade a reference to Jesus being the Messiah to only "perhaps" him being the Messiah.

If the phrase "the prophets have recounted wonders" refers to contemporary prophets in Josephus' time retelling the wonders that they saw Jesus make then the use of the word "prophet" would seem to refer to an early date for this passage. That is because in the turn of the 1st-2nd century AD, the term "prophets" was used to refer to traveling Christian preachers, as in the Didache and Ignatius. By Eusebius' time, that term seems too late.

The third century writer Minucius Felix in chapter 33 wrote the following, mentioning Josephus:
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Argument: that Even If God Be Said to Have Nothing Availed the Jews, Certainly the Writers of the Jewish Annals are the Most Sufficient Witnesses that They Forsook God Before They Were Forsaken by Him.

"Neither let us flatter ourselves concerning our multitude. We seem many to ourselves, but to God we are very few. We distinguish peoples and nations; to God this whole world is one family. Kings only know all the matters of their kingdom by the ministrations of their servants: God has no need of information. We not only live in His eyes, but also in His bosom. But it is objected that it availed the Jews nothing that they themselves worshipped the one God with altars and temples, with the greatest superstition. You are guilty of ignorance if you are recalling later events while you are forgetful or unconscious of former ones. For they themselves also, as long as they worshipped our God-and He is the same God of all-with chastity, innocency, and religion, as long as they obeyed His wholesome precepts, from a few became innumerable, from poor became rich, from being servants became kings; a few overwhelmed many; unarmed men overwhelmed armed ones as they fled from them, following them up by God's command, and with the elements striving on their behalf. Carefully read over their Scriptures, or if you are better pleased with the Roman writings, inquire concerning the Jews in the books (to say nothing of ancient documents) of Flavius Josephus or Antoninus Julianus, and you shall know that by their wickedness they deserved this fortune, and that nothing happened which had not before been predicted to them, if they should persevere in their obstinacy. Therefore you will understand that they forsook before they were forsaken, and that they were not, as you impiously say, taken captive with their God, but they were given up by God as deserters from His discipline.
The Babylonian Captivity and destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple, according to Jeremiah, was punishment for Israel's failure to keep the fields fallow one out of every seven years in violation of the rule about the Shmita cycle.
I understand that per the Law of Moses, such a tragic fate would follow this disobedience, but part of me has a big problem with this issue. Is it really such a grave sin to not leave the fields fallow that the whole country and Temple should be destroyed? What about Jesus' much more lax attitude to the Law? It seems that he did not emphasize the ritual purity rules in his teaching, for example. He and his apostles picked grain on the Sabbath, under the excuse that David himself ate the shew bread in the Temple when they needed it. I guess that you can argue back that there is no need to sew the fields every year, while David did need to eat the bread to survive.

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Offline rakovsky

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It's very curious to me that this reference by Origen to Jerusalem's destruction as being related to James the Just's death is missing from Josephus' writings in the form that we have:
Quote
Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, Chapter 47

For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice.
http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/josephus/josephus.htm

It seems that Origen is implying that this passage could be found in the Antiquities. Maybe the passage was removed by later Christians since Origen objected to it theologically by saying that the Temple's destruction was due to Jesus' death?

Origen also writes:
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Flavius Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James.
Here Origen is clearly talking about the known passage in Josephus - and not in another work or one by another writer, because the underlined part can be found there.

Photius made a synopsis of Saint Methodius' work, which quoted Josephus:
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And this is recorded by Josephus, who says: "Jerusalem was taken in the second year of the reign of Vespasian. It had been taken before five times; but now for the second time it was destroyed. For Asochaeus, king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, next Pompey, and after these Sosius, with Herod, took the city and burnt it; but before these, the king of Babylon conquered and destroyed it."

(SOURCE: from Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 234)
I don't remember reading before that Herod destroyed Jerusalem, although I can believe it.
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Offline rakovsky

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There are some very weak or wrong arguments made by skeptics to try to deny that the passages by Josephus on Jesus are legitimate.

Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism cites the passage about James, and then comments:
Quote
Quote
“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was put upon the road; so he [Ananus, the Jewish high priest] assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, him called Christ, whose name was James, and some others. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned….”

This passage is not as obviously a forgery as the Testimonium Flavianum. However, a more oblique line of attack is possible...
Some have translated the crucial phrase as “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ.” However, this translation is not supported by the original Greek – in fact, the original Greek words used are identical (except for being in a slightly different case) to the wording of Matthew 1:16.
Matthew 1:16 runs:
ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός.
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
I really don't understand how the author is criticizing the passage in Josephus.
I guess that he wants to say that the passage is saying that Jesus is in fact the Christ, not just called Christ, and that Josephus would not ever say this.
But when you check Matthew 1:16, you find that it says "who is called". The phrase itself is not an instance of Josephus necessarily admitting that Jesus is Christ, only called that.
So the writer Lee is making a bad argument.
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Offline rakovsky

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It's very interesting to see how the passage in Josephus about Jesus lines up with the passage in Luke 24. It suggests that the "prophets" referred to in Josephus mean the Old Testament prophets. It also suggests to me that whoever wrote the passage in Josephus used the passage in Luke 24 as a basic outline or reference source:

Quote
Luke 24:19-21-27
A. "'The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a [man] prophet (aner profetes)

B. mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

C. and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to the judgment of death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

D. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;  And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

E. Then he said to them, ' Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?' Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

F. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.63
A. About this time there was Jesus, a wise man (aner), [if indeed one ought to call him a man].

B. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.

C. [He was the Christ.] And when, upon an accusation by the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him.

D. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life,

E. for the prophets of God had prophesied these things and countless other marvels about him.


F. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
Based on how the lines match up, I think that the words in Blue or something related to them are probably in the original version of Josephus' passage. That is, the beginning has a reference to God or "if indeed he was a man" in both passages. "He was the Christ" lines up with the apostles saying that they had hoped that he would redeem Israel.

Maria M. Oberg in "The Mystery of the Testimonium Flavianum" notes:
"Luke's Emmaus passage and the Testimonium are the only two texts using the resurrection third day as object of a verb in all of ancient Christian literature."

The sitting and breaking of bread (communion meal uniting the Christians) in Luke 24 correspond to the concept of the tribe of the Christians in Josephus' passage. Also, the references to abiding and vanishing at the end of the passage in Luke 24 lines up with the tribe of the Christians abiding and not vanishing.

In fact, the Arabic version seems to even correspond less with Luke 24 than the above part does, which suggests to me that there could have been two perhaps contemporary 1st-2nd c. versions of Josephus' passage. For comparison, here is the Arabic version:
Quote
"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus.  And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

This creates an interesting problem. On one hand, it stands to reason that Josephus probably did have a significant passage about Jesus, since he referenced Jesus elsewhere in the story about James, without providing any details. One would guess that since Josephus referenced Jesus, he would fill in details at some later point. And I do see how the Greek and Latin version closely resembles Luke 24, which seems to be the basic source. On the other hand, to accept that Josephus wrote "He was the Christ" is very hard, because Origen wrote that Josephus didn't believe in Jesus, and the Arabic version seems more realistic.
Quote
Oberg rejects the hypothesis that the Testimonium Flavianum is an interpolation of the Emmaus narrative by a later Christian copyist.

"To have employed Luke, the proposed interpolator would have had to remove the extensive flashback in the middle of the text (which for Luke serves the purpose of linking this story to one he has told previously), lift two quotations out of the mouths of the characters who speak them, combine them into a single unit, change the first person to the third person, making one error in the process, cutting off the rest of the chapter, and adding in a gratuitous comment about the continued existence of the so-called Christians. This an intrinsically implausible procedure, and there is no precedent for such an interpolation in other ancient texts."
     - Maria M. Oberg , "The Mystery of the Testimonium Flavianum"

Josephus is known to have made extensive use of outside written sources when not recounting his own direct experience.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010629015904/http://www.fireplug.net/~rshand/restricted/reflections/messiah/sources.html
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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The Josephus home page claims:
Quote
For centuries Josephus' works were more widely read in Europe than any book other than the Bible.

...the Testimonium is shown to be a close rewording of a text that also appears in the Book of Luke. This modification of a source while respecting peculiarities and difficult phrases can be explained as Josephus' standard method of working, but cannot be explained as the normal manner of composing a Jesus story by later Christian writers. The conclusion is that the account in the Antiquities is almost entirely the work of Josephus, based on a Christian proselytizing document that was in circulation circa the year 90.

http://www.josephus.org/#life

An "Answers" page casts major doubt on it being an interpolation:
Quote
As acknowledged even by proponents of the forgery theory, the style and vocabulary of the passage is essentially that of Josephus (cf. the studies employing the Rengstorf concordance and the TLG database). Thus, an imitator must have made a substantial effort to create something Josephus might have written. This effort by the imitator would have been hindered, not aided, by taking passages from Luke as a model, as this would add a foreign voice to the text. Since the proposed imitator wished  people to mistake the passage for a Josephus original, it would have been perverse to employ a text that would undermine this goal -- indeed, it is such foreign elements that have caused scholars to suspect a forgery.
...
Upon reflection, any scholar must ask him or her self: "If Josephus wanted to explain who the Christians were, what would he do?" And receive the answer: "As always in his work, unless he was recounting his own direct experience he would employ some reliable, prior source. The proselytizing of Christians would have been more readily available than Roman or Judean records, the latter likely destroyed in the war. So, in fact, the most reasonable thing to expect a priori is that Josephus would have simply rewritten a Christian proselytizing document. And that is exactly what we see -- the same sort of document found repeatedly, with variations, in the Book of Luke-Acts."
...
The peculiar phrases are evidence of the influence of his source, examples of which can be found throughout the Antiquities (compare any of his Biblical sections with the appropriate part of the Bible); the more difficult the phrase is to understand, the more likely it is that Josephus would not have tried to alter it, accounting for "the third day" and other peculiarities.

http://www.josephus.org/question.htm

The page also talks about Josephus and the Mishnah on Honi the Circle-Drawer. It proposes that there are strong similarities between the story of Honi(Onias in Greek) and of Jesus of Nazareth. First, it quotes Josephus, and comments:
Quote
Note that Onias was widely believed by people of his day to have performed at least one amazing miracle and to have the ability to perform more; was a man of peace; and was killed in Jerusalem at Passover.

http://www.josephus.org/HoniTheCircleDrawer.htm

Next, it quotes the Mishnah, and adds:
Quote
This gives even more parallels with Jesus of Nazareth:

            Honi speaks to God as a son to a father
            this behavior angers a person in power, who wants to punish him.

According to Josephus, this capacity to anger the powerful by eventually led to Honi's death, as it did with Jesus.
...
The Talmud Taanit relates further stories about Honi as well as his grandsons, which the interested reader will want to pursue. More similarities to Jesus can be found there, also, such as the story of Honi's return seventy years after he "died."
In both Josephus and the Mishnah, I note that Honi is portrayed as praying for balance: in Josephus, he wants neither of the two sides to be given more heavenly favor than the other; in the Mishnah, he asks for rain that is neither too much nor too little. By hiding from war and by standing in a circle, he avoids extremes by circumscribing his activity. He is thus by nature a man of peace and moderation.

The FAQ says:
Quote
There is an eighth-century document written by Andreas
Hierosolymitanus, Archbishop of Crete, which quotes Josephus in the following fragment:

    "But moreover the Jew Josephus in like manner narrates that the Lord
    was seen having meeting eyebrows, goodly eyes, long-faced, crooked,
    well-grown."
...
The word "crooked" used here is a translation of the Greek epikuphos, usually meaning
"crooked, bent over." It could mean hunchbacked.

However, note this passage is simply attributed to Josephus by
someone else; it does not appear in any manuscript of Josephus known to us; nor is
it plausibly by Josephus, who almost never gives physical descriptions of
people, only doing so when the information is essential to his story. It
is highly unlikely Josephus would have considered Jesus' appearance relevant
to the essential facts about him. Nor do the many authors who quote Josephus
on Jesus prior to the eighth century, particularly Eusebius, say anything
about this passage. So there is no reason to take it as authentic.
...
...the idea that Jesus was unattractive and possibly deformed seems not to have been uncommon in the early Christian church -- see Tertullian, Against Marcion iii. 17 -- and was associated with Isaiah 52:14 and other passages the first web site quotes.
http://www.josephus.org/FlJosephus2/MailAndFAQ.htm#Jesus_appearance
What do you make of the underlined part?

Against Marcion III, 17 goes:
Quote
Whatever that poor despised body may be, because it was an object of touch and sight, it shall be my Christ, be He inglorious, be He ignoble, be He dishonoured; for such was it announced that He should be, both in bodily condition and aspect. Isaiah comes to our help again: "We have announced (His way) before Him," says he; "He is like a servant, like a root in a dry ground; He has no form nor comeliness; we saw Him, and He had neither form nor beauty; but His form was despised, marred above all men." Similarly the Father addressed the Son just before: "Inasmuch as many will be astonished at You, so also will Your beauty be without glory from men." Isaiah 52:14 For although, in David's words, He is fairer than the children of men, yet it is in that figurative state of spiritual grace, when He is girded with the sword of the Spirit, which is verily His form, and beauty, and glory. According to the same prophet, however, He is in bodily condition "a very worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and an outcast of the people." But no internal quality of such a kind does He announce as belonging to Him.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/03123.htm
One place in the gospels says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, which suggested to me that Jesus was tall, rather than hunchbacked.

Also, there do seem to be some discrepancies between the copy of Josephus that we have and what past centuries of writers said was in Josephus' writings about Jesus:
(1) Origen said that Josephus was not Christian, but other than maybe the Arabic version of the Antiquities, there is nothing directly saying that Josephus was not Christian. One could guess it from the fact that he at one point named Vespasian to be the Christ.
(2) In the passage by Andreas Hierosolymitanus above, Josephus is said to have called Jesus hunchbacked.
(3) According to Eusebius, Josephus wrote that James' death led to the Temple's destruction as God's punishment. However, that is not found in the extant copies of Josephus.
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Offline rakovsky

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Ken Olson notes:
Quote
More commonly, scholars who wish to retain the Testimonium as an authentic Josephan text have adopted one or both of two methods. The first is to interpret the text in ways that seem less Christian or even hostile toward Jesus. By this method of interpretation, Josephus may have written the text, but it does not mean what Christians before the Enlightenment took it to mean. Josephus may have intended at least some parts of the text, especially those that others have taken as Christological confessions, to be read ironically. [10] The second is to alter the text, usually by omission of the most overtly Christian material, and possibly altering or adding material so that the passage becomes more negative toward Jesus and Christianity.
...
There are, in fact, a few cases where Eusebius’ influence on the manuscript tradition of Josephus is hardly disputable. Alice Whealey has pointed out that the sixth-century Latin translators of the Antiquities did not provide original translations of the Testimonium Flavianum or the passage about John the Baptist in Book XVIII, but used the existing translations of those passages from Rufinus’ Latin version of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. [52] In the Greek manuscript tradition of Josephus, there is a note at the end of the table of contents attached to Book I of the Antiquities: “The book covers a period of 3008 years according to Josephus, of 1872 according to the Hebrews, of 3,459 according to Eusebius.”
http://chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/5871

The Bible.org page explains agreements between Josephus' account of John the Baptist and the NT account:
Quote
Josephus says that John commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, that is, righteousness toward one another and piety toward God. Matthew says that John taught those baptized to bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance. Luke says the same thing basically and carries it a bit further by offering examples of what repentance might look like
https://bible.org/article/josephus%E2%80%99-writings-and-their-relation-new-testament

It also gives disagreements:
Quote
a. Josephus says that some Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army was due to his killing of John—a judgment of God. The Gospel writers record no such interpretation of Herod’s defeat. There is no record in any of the four Gospels that God had Herod’s armies destroyed as a result of him killing John unjustly.

d. Josephus says that John’s baptism was not for the remission of sins, but was for the purification of the body due to the fact that the soul was already purified by the people’s return to righteousness prior to coming for John’s baptism. The Gospel writers appear to unanimously indicate that John’s baptism of repentance was for the remission of sins and Matthew and Mark state that people were confessing their sins to John, meaning they had no previous righteousness per se, at least as Josephus seems to indicate.

The main areas of agreement are substantial enough to provide the basis for an attempt to harmonize the areas of disagreement. Points (a) ... do[es] not concern the essential story and as such really do not pose a problem... Point (d) above, where Josephus says that John’s baptism was for the purification of the body and not for the remission of sins, seems to be at odds somewhat with the Gospel accounts. Given the accuracy of the Gospel accounts, it would seem that Josephus was not entirely accurate in what he thought about John’s ministry. Whatever sources he used, they seem to represent a slightly different tradition than the Gospel writers. The fact too, that Josephus records only general statements with regards to John’s ethic and the Gospel writers, on the other hand, record detailed descriptions of his injunctions, makes me think that the Gospel writers were privy to the actual details of the message. Of course, Josephus was not even born when John preached, yet the Gospel writers may have indeed listened to John firsthand.
https://bible.org/article/josephus%E2%80%99-writings-and-their-relation-new-testament
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Offline rakovsky

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Josephus' Wars of the Jews can be found here:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/index.htm

Book II, which starts with the funeral of Herod the Great in c. 4 BC, can be found here:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/war-2.htm
« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 09:08:26 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Alpha60

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Many scholars think the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas has first century origins (the Nag Hammadi sayings gospel, not the horrid Protoevangelion).
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Many scholars think the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas has first century origins (the Nag Hammadi sayings gospel, not the horrid Protoevangelion).

Gnosticism is already referenced in the New Testament. Its ideas derive from various Greek pop theologies, so it shouldn't be a surprise Christian gnosticism emerged without delay.
"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 Alpha60

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Many scholars think the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas has first century origins (the Nag Hammadi sayings gospel, not the horrid Protoevangelion).

Gnosticism is already referenced in the New Testament. Its ideas derive from various Greek pop theologies, so it shouldn't be a surprise Christian gnosticism emerged without delay.

Indeed so.

Christian Gnosticism is indeed fairly explicitly referenced and condemened by St. John in his epistles.  If we then attach into early Church Tradition, a reading of Acts with the understanding of Simon Magus as the Gnostic Protoheresiarch absolutely transforms our reading of Luke and John; Luke 1-3 and John 1 can be read as anti-Gnostic, anti-Ebionite/Judaizing polemics.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 03:04:23 AM by Alpha60 »
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline rakovsky

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In chapter 8 of his Wars of the Jews, Josephus says that there are three sects - Pharisees, Sadduccees, and Essenes, and he says of the latter group:
Quote
3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, - insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.
I don't understand the underlined part.

Josephus also talks about the amazing fortitude of the Essenes when they face tortuous deaths:
Quote
They contemn the miseries of life, and are above pain, by the generosity of their mind. And as for death, if it will be for their glory, they esteem it better than living always; and indeed our war with the Romans gave abundant evidence what great souls they had in their trials, wherein, although they were tortured and distorted, burnt and torn to pieces, and went through all kinds of instruments of torment, that they might be forced either to blaspheme their legislator, or to eat what was forbidden them, yet could they not be made to do either of them, no, nor once to flatter their tormentors, or to shed a tear; but they smiled in their very pains, and laughed those to scorn who inflicted the torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again.
...
11. For their doctrine is this: That bodies are corruptible, and that the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that the souls are immortal, and continue for ever; and that they come out of the most subtile air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement; but that when they are set free from the bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward. And this is like the opinions of the Greeks, that good souls have their habitations beyond the ocean, in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain or snow, or with intense heat, but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathing of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing from the ocean; while they allot to bad souls a dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments. And indeed the Greeks seem to me to have followed the same notion, when they allot the islands of the blessed to their brave men, whom they call heroes and demi-gods; and to the souls of the wicked, the region of the ungodly, in Hades, where their fables relate that certain persons, such as Sisyphus, and Tantalus, and Ixion, and Tityus, are punished; which is built on this first supposition, that souls are immortal; and thence are those exhortations to virtue and dehortations from wickedness collected; whereby good men are bettered in the conduct of their life by the hope they have of reward after their death; and whereby the vehement inclinations of bad men to vice are restrained, by the fear and expectation they are in, that although they should lie concealed in this life, they should suffer immortal punishment after their death. These are the Divine doctrines of the Essens (6) about the soul, which lay an unavoidable bait for such as have once had a taste of their philosophy.
How would you best explain this? Was it out of a sufficiently correct faith, out of their mind-body dualism, their belief in a heavenly reward in the afterlife, or something else that the Essenes were so strong inside?

He says of the pharisees:
Quote
14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.
What is he talking about? Reincarnation?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 01:05:22 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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There is a good story in Wars of the Jews about Petronius' fortune, along with the Jews', at avoiding placing the statues of Caesar Caius in the Temple of Jerusalem. Caesar Caius had ordered statues to be put in the Temple and Petronius was the leader who was to perform the task, but the Jews asked him not to. He was sympathetic and fate favored him and them:
Quote
5. But on the following days he got together the men of power privately, and the multitude publicly, and sometimes he used persuasions to them, and sometimes he gave them his advice; but he chiefly made use of threatenings to them, and insisted upon the power of the Romans, and the anger of Caius; and besides, upon the necessity he was himself under [to do as he was enjoined]. But as they could be no way prevailed upon, and he saw that the country was in danger of lying without tillage; (for it was about seed time that the multitude continued for fifty days together idle;) so he at last got them together, and told them that it was best for him to run some hazard himself; "for either, by the Divine assistance, I shall prevail with Caesar, and shall myself escape the danger as well as you, which will he matter of joy to us both; or, in case Caesar continue in his rage, I will be ready to expose my own life for such a great number as you are." Whereupon he dismissed the multitude, who prayed greatly for his prosperity; and he took the army out of Ptolemais, and returned to Antioch; from whence he presently sent an epistle to Caesar, and informed him of the irruption he had made into Judea, and of the supplications of the nation; and that unless he had a mind to lose both the country and the men in it, he must permit them to keep their law, and must countermand his former injunction. Caius answered that epistle in a violent-way, and threatened to have Petronius put to death for his being so tardy in the execution of what he had commanded. But it happened that those who brought Caius's epistle were tossed by a storm, and were detained on the sea for three months, while others that brought the news of Caius's death had a good voyage. Accordingly, Petronins received the epistle concerning Caius seven and twenty days before he received that which was against himself.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 05:04:06 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Some scholars look to places in Josephus that could be subtle references to Jesus. I mentioned the religious figure Onias who prayed for rain. Another example is the time when Josephus claims he freed three men from crucifixion and one of them survived. In Book 2, set in a time long after Pilate's rule and Jesus' ministry, there is a discussion about people who try to change the government under claims of divine inspiration:
Quote
4. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

5. But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.
I wonder if some people see the first paragraph as an allusion to John the Baptist who led people in the wilderness, with the second paragraph being an allusion to Jesus, who came out of Egypt and had a prophecy that he would enter and conquer by way on the Mount of Olives on the Second Coming.

Reading Josephus' writings takes me a long time. It's going very slowly.
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Offline rakovsky

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One article makes this claim about the Egyptian rebel mentioned int he passage above:
Quote
Like Theudas, the Egyptian prophet took Joshua (the man who made the walls of Jericho fall; Joshua 6.20) as an example. The Roman governor was rightly alarmed: like Joshua and Moses, the Egyptian claimed to lead the Jews to a promised land without enemies. This was clearly a messianic claim, even though Josephus does not mention it. The nameless Egyptian may have called himself "king Messiah", because Josephus uses the Greek verb tyrannein ("to be sole ruler") in the first quotation. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives was regarded as the place where God would stand on the Day of Judgment, fighting the battle against Israel's enemies.
http://www.livius.org/articles/religion/messiah/messianic-claimant-10-the-egyptian-prophet/
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Offline rakovsky

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Josephus records Herod Agrippa's speech to the Judeans to deter them from revolting against Rome by saying that it's late for a revolt:
Quote
However, as to the desire of recovering your liberty, it is unseasonable to indulge it so late; whereas you ought to have labored earnestly in old time that you might never have lost it; for the first experience of slavery was hard to be endured, and the struggle that you might never have been subject to it would have been just; but that slave who hath been once brought into subjection, and then runs away, is rather a refractory slave than a lover of liberty; for it was then the proper time for doing all that was possible, that you might never have admitted the Romans [into your city], when Pompey came first into the country.
He is saying that the Judeans' basic mistake that made them lose freedom was by letting the Romans into their city in the first place, even with a small detachment.

Agrippa also tries to deter revolt by illustrating the Romans' power. His reference to exploration of the islands is interesting:
Quote
Will you not carefully reflect upon the Roman empire? Will you not estimate your own weakness? Hath not your army been often beaten even by your neighboring nations, while the power of the Romans is invincible in all parts of the habitable earth? nay, rather they seek for somewhat still beyond that; for all Euphrates is not a sufficient boundary for them on the east side, nor the Danube on the north; and for their southern limit, Libya hath been searched over by them, as far as countries uninhabited, as is Cadiz their limit on the west; nay, indeed, they have sought for another habitable earth beyond the ocean, and have carried their arms as far as such British islands as were never known before. What therefore do you pretend to? Are you richer than the Gauls, stronger than the Germans, wiser than the Greeks, more numerous than all men upon the habitable earth? What confidence is it that elevates you to oppose the Romans?

Wars of the Jews, Book 2
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Offline rakovsky

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A cool little story in Wars of the Jews, Book III, about Niger the Jewish rebel leader:
Quote
so all the rest of them ran away, and with them Niger, who still did a great many bold exploits in his flight. However, they were driven along together by the enemy, who pressed hard upon them, into a certain strong tower belonging to a village called Bezedeh However, Antonius and his party, that they might neither spend any considerable time about this tower, which was hard to be taken, nor suffer their commander, and the most courageous man of them all, to escape from them, they set the wall on fire; and as the tower was burning, the Romans went away rejoicing, as taking it for granted that Niger was destroyed; but he leaped out of the tower into a subterraneous cave, in the innermost part of it, and was preserved; and on the third day afterward he spake out of the ground to those that with great lamentation were searching for him, in order to give him a decent funeral; and when he was come out, he filled all the Jews with an unexpected joy, as though he were preserved by God's providence to be their commander for the time to come.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/war-3.htm

The other thing is that these references to jumping from a tower into the innermost cave, being preserved by God's providence, and speaking out of the ground on the third day, sounds like a cryptic reference to Christianity. The story itself sounds fanciful or unlikely enough that it sounds like a reference to something else rather than a literal historical narration. These kinds of cryptic references to Christianity in Josephus (like the story of his three crucified friends with one of them surviving) makes me sound like the story of Jesus' life in ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS was really found in Josephus. Another reason is the fact that Jerome complains that Josephus' competitor historian Tiberius Julius Alexander never mentioned Jesus or Jesus' miracles. This complaint by Jerome makes me think that Josephus mentioned those things, or else Jerome wouldn't have complained about Tiberius so strongly.
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Offline rakovsky

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One scholar noted that Josephus claimed at one point that he had divine inspiration like a prophet. Wars of the Jews reminds me of the historical narrations in Chronicles and other Old Testament books of the Israelites' wars. Josephus does sometimes write things that sound inspiring, like this passage in Book III, describing the Romans' strategies:
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They also esteem any errors they commit upon taking counsel beforehand to be better than such rash success as is owing to fortune only; because such a fortuitous advantage tempts them to be inconsiderate, while consultation, though it may sometimes fail of success, hath this good in it, that it makes men more careful hereafter; but for the advantages that arise from chance, they are not owing to him that gains them; and as to what melancholy accidents happen unexpectedly, there is this comfort in them, that they had however taken the best consultations they could to prevent them.
I also find this idea consoling. A person could have a tough choice of whether to take one action or another in life, but if they do the best they can in thinking, praying, and acting, even if their choice turns out to be wrong, at least they have the consolation that they did the best they could.

An old Russian veteran once told me to "Only get drunk with friends." One night I got drunk at a bar and was with someone who I thought was a loyal friend, and she turned out to be abusive. It still pains me, but I have the consolation that since I was drunk, I wasn't able to react. God will put everything in order some day.
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Offline rakovsky

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In Book III, Josephus describes the Roman attack on Japha, and claims that it was God who arranged for the Romans' attack:
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but when the Jews were endeavoring to get again within their second wall, their fellow citizens shut them out, as being afraid that the Romans would force themselves in with them. It was certainly God therefore who brought the Romans to punish the Galileans, and did then expose the people of the city every one of them manifestly to be destroyed by their bloody enemies; for they fell upon the gates in great crowds, and earnestly calling to those that kept them, and that by their names also, yet had they their throats cut in the very midst of their supplications; for the enemy shut the gates of the first wall, and their own citizens shut the gates of the second, so they were enclosed between two walls, and were slain in great numbers together; many of them were run through by swords of their own men, and many by their own swords, besides an immense number that were slain by the Romans.
I am curious what reason Josephus sees theologically for God to have done this. Why would God want to do that?

In the next chapter, Josephus talks about how a tribune named Nicanor went to capture Josephus with Josephus' acquiescence, and he connects it to God's will for the war's outcome:
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And now, as Nicanor lay hard at Josephus to comply, and he understood how the multitude of the enemies threatened him, he called to mind the dreams which he had dreamed in the night time, whereby God had signified to him beforehand both the future calamities of the Jews, and the events that concerned the Roman emperors. Now Josephus was able to give shrewd conjectures about the interpretation of such dreams as have been ambiguously delivered by God. Moreover, he was not unacquainted with the prophecies contained in the sacred books, as being a priest himself, and of the posterity of priests: and just then was he in an ecstasy; and setting before him the tremendous images of the dreams he had lately had, he put up a secret prayer to God, and said, "Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretell what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands, and am content to live. And I protest openly that I do not go over to the Romans as a deserter of the Jews, but as a minister from thee."
I wonder what the prophecies are that he refers to?

Josephus also writes against suicide here:
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If, therefore, I avoid death from the sword of the Romans, I am truly worthy to be killed by my own sword, and my own hand; but if they admit of mercy, and would spare their enemy, how much more ought we to have mercy upon ourselves, and to spare ourselves? For it is certainly a foolish thing to do that to ourselves which we quarrel with them for doing to us. I confess freely that it is a brave thing to die for liberty; but still so that it be in war, and done by those who take that liberty from us; but in the present case our enemies do neither meet us in battle, nor do they kill us. Now he is equally a coward who will not die when he is obliged to die, and he who will die when he is not obliged so to do. What are we afraid of, when we will not go up to the Romans? Is it death? If so, what we are afraid of, when we but suspect our enemies will inflict it on us, shall we inflict it on ourselves for certain? But it may be said we must be slaves. And are we then in a clear state of liberty at present? It may also be said that it is a manly act for one to kill himself. No, certainly, but a most unmanly one; as I should esteem that pilot to be an arrant coward, who, out of fear of a storm, should sink his ship of his own accord. Now self-murder is a crime most remote from the common nature of all animals, and an instance of impiety against God our Creator; nor indeed is there any animal that dies by its own contrivance, or by its own means, for the desire of life is a law engraven in them all; on which account we deem those that openly take it away from us to be our enemies, and those that do it by treachery are punished for so doing. And do not you think that God is very angry when a man does injury to what he hath bestowed on him? For from him it is that we have received our being, and we ought to leave it to his disposal to take that being away from us. The bodies of all men are indeed mortal, and are created out of corruptible matter; but the soul is ever immortal, and is a portion of the divinity that inhabits our bodies. Besides, if any one destroys or abuses a depositum he hath received from a mere man, he is esteemed a wicked and perfidious person; but then if any one cast out of his body this Divine depositum, can we imagine that he who is thereby affronted does not know of it? Moreover, our law justly ordains that slaves which run away from their master shall be punished, though the masters they run away from may have been wicked masters to them. And shall we endeavor to run away from God, who is the best of all masters, and not guilty of impeity? Do not you know that those who depart out of this life according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly against themselves are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while God, who is their Father, punishes those that offend against either of them in their posterity? for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime is punished by our most wise legislator. Accordingly, our laws determine that the bodies of such as kill themselves should be exposed till the sun be set, without burial, although at the same time it be allowed by them to be lawful to bury our enemies [sooner]. The laws of other nations also enjoin such men's hands to be cut off when they are dead, which had been made use of in destroying themselves when alive, while they reckoned that as the body is alien from the soul, so is the hand alien from the body. It is therefore, my friends, a right thing to reason justly, and not add to the calamities which men bring upon us impiety towards our Creator.
The issue of pre-death suffering is pretty strong. It seems like a person who jumps off a bridge could avoid alot of seemingly needless suffering. But I can see the spiritual and moral reasons to die naturally instead of bridge suicide. How would you explain how to have the courage to face a slow natural death, like by cancer?
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Offline rakovsky

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Josephus looks like he writes his story about how he was captured by the Romans in a way similar to the story of the Resurrection in Book III:
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They then searched among the dead, and looked into the most concealed recesses of the city; but as the city was first taken, he was assisted by a certain supernatural providence; for he withdrew himself from the enemy when he was in the midst of them, and leaped into a certain deep pit, whereto there adjoined a large den at one side of it, which den could not be seen by those that were above ground; and there he met with forty persons of eminency that had concealed themselves, and with provisions enough to satisfy them for not a few days. So in the day time he hid himself from the enemy, who had seized upon all places, and in the night time he got up out of the den and looked about for some way of escaping, and took exact notice of the watch; but as all places were guarded every where on his account, that there was no way of getting off unseen, he went down again into the den. Thus he concealed himself two days; but on the third day, when they had taken a woman who had been with them, he was discovered.
In the story of the Resurrection, there is a supernatural event, Jesus is existing in the tomb or its garden without people seeing him there. Soldiers guarded Jesus' tomb, and they guarded Josephus' hiding cave. Jesus was discovered on the third day by a woman follower, Mary Magdalene, and Josephus was discovered on the third day due to a woman who had been with him.

Additionally, I want to mention a footnote in Josephus' autobiography about the figure of Banus. One scholar I read years ago talked about how there were Jewish ascetics similar to John the Baptist in the first century, and pointed to Josephus' teacher Banus as one example. In Josephus' autobiography, he writes:
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when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years.
A modern editor's footnote says:
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Nor is Dr. Hudson's conjecture, hinted at by Mr. Hall in his preface to the Doctor's edition of Josephus, at all improbable, that this Banus, by this his description, might well be a follower of John the Baptist, and that from him Josephus might easily imbibe such notions, as afterwards prepared him to have a favorable opinion of Jesus Christ himself, who was attested to by John the Baptist.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/autobiog.htm#EndNote%20Auto.3b
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Offline rakovsky

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Phil. 20
Quote
18. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

22. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
There was an Epaphroditus who was known to be Nero's secretary.
Since Paul is talking about Epaphroditus and people in Caesar's household, it makes it seem likely that Paul did have correspondence with Seneca, the famous Roman philosopher associated with Nero. This also suggests to me that figures like Josephus and Pilate's wife really could have been Christian sympathizers. Note that Josephus' autobiography says:
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And this is the account of the actions of my whole life; and let others judge of my character by them as they please. But to thee, O Epaphroditus, (27) thou most excellent of men! do I dedicate all this treatise of our Antiquities; and so, for the present, I here conclude the whole.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 08:04:40 PM by rakovsky »
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Book 4 contains the following story about the killing of Zechariah son of Baruch in the Temple during the 70 AD Jewish revolt. It's interesting, because in the gospels, Jesus blamed the rabbis for the killing of Zechariah son of Barachiah in the Temple, which scholars guessed was a reference to the killing of a Zechariah in the Old Testament period.
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And now these zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, so they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose; and as they intended to have Zacharias (9) the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain, - so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a mall that had great power to destroy them. So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that so it was, and desired that such their affirmation might he taken for sufficient evidence. Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape from them, as having been treacherously called before them, and then put in prison, but not with any intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of his life he was under. Accordingly he stood up, and laughed at their pretended accusation, and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge; after which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the law, and made heavy lamentation upon the confusion they had brought public affairs to: in the mean time, the zealots grew tumultuous, and had much ado to abstain from drawing their swords, although they designed to preserve the appearance and show of judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just at their own peril. Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict that the person accused was not guilty, as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors; hereupon there arose a great clamor of the zealots upon his acquittal, and they all had indignation at the judges for not understanding that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him; and as he fell down dead, they bantered him, and said, "Thou hast also our verdict, and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other." They also threw him down from the temple immediately into the valley beneath it. Moreover, they struck the judges with the backs of their swords, by way of abuse, and thrust them out of the court of the temple, and spared their lives with no other design than that, when they were dispersed among the people in the city, they might become their messengers, to let them know they were no better than slaves.

Editor's Footnote:
Some commentators are ready to suppose that this" Zacharias, the son of Baruch," here most unjustly slain by the Jews in the temple, was the very same person with "Zacharias, the son of Barachias," whom our Savior says the Jews "slew between the temple and the altar," Matthew 23:35. This is a somewhat strange exposition; since Zechariah the prophet was really "the son of Barachiah," and "grandson of Iddo, Zechariah 1:1; and how he died, we have no other account than that before us in St. Matthew: while this "Zacharias" was "the son of Baruch." Since the slaughter was past when our Savior spake these words, the Jews had then already slain him; whereas this slaughter of "Zacharias, the son of Baruch," in Josephus, was then about thirty-four years future.

Josephus also talks in Book 4 about the Zealots' killing of Gorion. Could this be a relative of Nakdimon/Nicodemus Ben Gurion?:
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the zealots grew more insolent not as deserted by their confederates, but as freed from such men as might hinder their designs, and plat some stop to their wickedness. Accordingly, they made no longer any delay, nor took any deliberation in their enormous practices, but made use of the shortest methods for all their executions and what they had once resolved upon, they put in practice sooner than any one could imagine. But their thirst was chiefly after the blood of valiant men, and men of good families; the one sort of which they destroyed out of envy, the other out of fear; for they thought their whole security lay in leaving no potent men alive; on which account they slew Gorion, a person eminent in dignity, and on account of his family also; he was also for democracy, and of as great boldness and freedom of spirit as were any of the Jews whosoever; the principal thing that ruined him, added to his other advantages, was his free speaking.

Here is another instance where Josephus describes the Romans as speaking of God as if in belief:
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And now all the rest of the commanders of the Romans deemed this sedition among their enemies to be of great advantage to them, and were very earnest to march to the city, and they urged Vespasian, as their lord and general in all cases, to make haste, and said to him, that "the providence of God is on our side, by setting our enemies at variance against one another; that still the change in such cases may be sudden, and the Jews may quickly be at one again, either because they may be tired out with their civil miseries, or repent them of such doings." But Vespasian replied, that they were greatly mistaken in what they thought fit to be done, as those that, upon the theater, love to make a show of their hands, and of their weapons, but do it at their own hazard, without considering, what was for their advantage, and for their security; for that if they now go and attack the city immediately, they shall but occasion their enemies to unite together, and shall convert their force, now it is in its height, against themselves. But if they stay a while, they shall have fewer enemies, because they will be consumed in this sedition: that God acts as a general of the Romans better than he can do, and is giving the Jews up to them without any pains of their own
What would that be in Latin, "Deus"?

After describing the zealots' killing of Jerusalemites who tried to desert the city, Josephus seems to talk about Daniel's prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, below. If Josephus doesn't have in mind Daniel, then which prophet do you think Josephus is referring to?:
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These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers; yet did these prophets foretell many things concerning [the rewards of] virtue, and [punishments of] vice, which when these zealots violated, they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country; for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots did not [quite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment.
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Offline rakovsky

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In Book 5, Josephus gives descriptions of the Temple that include spiritual meanings:
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Its first gate was seventy cubits high, and twenty-five cubits broad; but this gate had no doors; for it represented the universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any place.

He describes the curtain inside the Temple:
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It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance;

He also gives the meaning of items in the Temple:
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had in it three things that were very wonderful and famous among all mankind, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar of incense. Now the seven lamps signified the seven planets; for so many there were springing out of the candlestick. Now the twelve loaves that were upon the table signified the circle of the zodiac and the year; but the altar of incense, by its thirteen kinds of sweet-smelling spices with which the sea replenished it, signified that God is the possessor of all things that are both in the uninhabitable and habitable parts of the earth, and that they are all to be dedicated to his use.

It was interesting to me that the Holy of Holies was empty, as said below. It makes sense because the Ark was taken away at the time of the Babylonian conquest.
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But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies.

I remember reading before about the thunder and lightning associated with the priest's clothes, which he relates here:
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had on an inner garment of linen, together with a blue garment, round, without seam, with fringe work, and reaching to the feet. There were also golden bells that hung upon the fringes, and pomegranates intermixed among them. The bells signified thunder, and the pomegranates lightning.

The following story also reminds me of the story of the crucifixion a bit, just like some other places in his writings seem to have cryptic allusions:
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This was the state of things till Caesar took the stoutest of his horsemen, and attacked the enemy, while he himself slew twelve of those that were in the forefront of the Jews; which death of these men, when the rest of the multitude saw, they gave way, and he pursued them, and drove them all into the city, and saved the works from the fire. Now it happened at this fight that a certain Jew was taken alive, who, by Titus's order, was crucified before the wall, to see whether the rest of them would be aftrighted, and abate of their obstinacy. But after the Jews were retired, John, who was commander of the Idumeans, and was talking to a certain soldier of his acquaintance before the wall, was wounded by a dart shot at him by an Arabian, and died immediately, leaving the greatest lamentation to the Jews, and sorrow to the seditious. For he was a man of great eminence, both for his actions and his conduct also.
Here I notice the Romans' killing of 12, which "saved" the Romans, like the persecution of the apostles was part of spreading salvation to the world. Plus, there is the "certain" unnamed Jew crucified before the wall, and then a reference to John who was before the wall, which reminds me of how John the apostle was with Jesus at the crucifixion. I understand that these can be coincidences, but there are several of these anecdotes with resemblances like it in Josephus' writing.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 08:41:30 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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You have a lot to learn.
"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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In Book V, Josephus says that the Jews named the Romans' successful siege engine used against Jerusalem "Nico":
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For neither could the Jews reach those that were over them, by reason of their height; and it was not practicable to take them, nor to overturn them, they were so heavy, nor to set them on fire, because they were covered with plates of iron. So they retired out of the reach of the darts, and did no longer endeavor to hinder the impression of their rams, which, by continually beating upon the wall, did gradually prevail against it; so that the wall already gave way to the Nico, for by that name did the Jews themselves call the greatest of their engines, because it conquered all things.
I am skeptical that the Jews would call their opponents' victorious engine "Nico", the Greek name for victory.
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Offline rakovsky

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Josephus also narrates the Roman leader Titus' instructions and opinions about the siege of Jerusalem, as if Titus believed in the concept of the one God:
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[According to Titus:] But that if any one should think such a work [as the siege] to be too great, and not to be finished without much difficulty, he ought to consider that it is not fit for Romans to undertake any small work, and that none but God himself could with ease accomplish any great thing whatsoever.
...
However, when Titus, in going his rounds along those valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave a groan; and, spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness that this was not his doing; and such was the sad case of the city itself.

Wars of the Jews, Book V
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 10:33:07 PM by rakovsky »
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He quotes Titus as giving a speech to his soldiers while mentioning God in Book VI:
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you are at the conclusion of your victory, and are assisted by God himself; for as to our misfortunes, they have been owing to the madness of the Jews, while their sufferings have been owing to your valor, and to the assistance God hath afforded you; for as to the seditions they have been in, and the famine they are under, and the siege they now endure, and the fall of their walls without our engines, what can they all be but demonstrations of God's anger against them, and of his assistance afforded us?  It will not therefore be proper for you, either to show yourselves inferior to those to whom you are really superior, or to betray that Divine assistance which is afforded you.

He also has Titus make an interesting philosophic comment on the afterlife and how to approach it:
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As for myself, I shall at present wave any commendation of those who die in war, (2) and omit to speak of the immortality of those men who are slain in the midst of their martial bravery; yet cannot I forbear to imprecate upon those who are of a contrary disposition, that they may die in time of peace, by some distemper or other, since their souls are condemned to the grave, together with their bodies. For what man of virtue is there who does not know, that those souls which are severed from their fleshly bodies in battles by the sword are received by the ether, that purest of elements, and joined to that company which are placed among the stars; that they become good demons, and propitious heroes, and show themselves as such to their posterity afterwards? while upon those souls that wear away in and with their distempered bodies comes a subterranean night to dissolve them to nothing, and a deep oblivion to take away all the remembrance of them, and this notwithstanding they be clean from all spots and defilements of this world; so that, in this ease, the soul at the same time comes to the utmost bounds of its life, and of its body, and of its memorial also. But since he hath determined that death is to come of necessity upon all men, a sword is a better instrument for that purpose than any disease whatsoever. Why is it not then a very mean thing for us not to yield up that to the public benefit which we must yield up to fate?

Josephus sees the nearing destruction of Jerusalem as a fulfillment of prophecy in his speech to the rebel leader John. The modern editor thinks that Josephus is referring to Daniel's prophecy:
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And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, - and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen. And are not both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God, therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, (8) and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions."

Footnote
Of this oracle, see the note on B. IV. ch. 6. sect. 3. Josephus, both here and in many places elsewhere, speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans' side, and made use of them now for the destruction of that wicked nation of the Jews; which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Savior himself afterwards, had clearly foretold.

Josephus also makes an observant remark about the foolishness of fighting against a man who is ready to be killed, narrating how a Jewish soldier named Jonathan
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challenged the best of them all [the Romans] to a single combat.But many of those that stood there in the army huffed him, and many of them (as they might well be) were afraid of him. Some of them also reasoned thus, and that justly enough: that it was not fit to fight with a man that desired to die, because those that utterly despaired of deliverance had, besides other passions, a violence in attacking men that could not be opposed, and had no regard to God himself; and that to hazard oneself with a person, whom, if you overcome, you do no great matter, and by whom it is hazardous that you may be taken prisoner, would be an instance, not of manly courage, but of unmanly rashness.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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I have been reading Whiston's translation of Josephus' works. Another translation is by Thackeray and can be found here in nine volumes:
https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Thackeray%2C+H.+St.+J.+%28Henry+St.+John%29%2C+1869%3F-1930%22

To give a comparison, in Book VI of Wars of the Jews, Whiston translates a passage where Titus talks this way about the Jewish rebels' suffering in famine while the Romans besieged them:
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And at the same time that he[Titus] said this, he reflected on the desperate condition these men[the rebels] must be in; nor could he expect that such men could be recovered to sobriety of mind, after they had endured those very sufferings, for the avoiding whereof it only was probable they might have repented.

Thackeray puts it this way:
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While expressing these sentiments, he had, moreover, in mind the desperation of these men, being convinced that they were past being brought to reason who had already endured all the miseries, to be spared the experience of which they might have been expected to relent.
Latin seems to have these kinds of complicated sentence constructions. Or maybe the complication is partly due to this intellectual writer's own writing style.

Josephus calculates the time passing between the Second Temple's building and its destruction this way:
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Now the number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by king Solomon, till this its destruction, which happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, are collected to be one thousand one hundred and thirty, besides seven months and fifteen days; and from the second building of it, which was done by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus the king, till its destruction under Vespasian, there were six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days.
Is this calculation correct?

The second year of Cyrus' reign as king of Persia was about 558 BC.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great)
The destruction of Jerusalem's Temple occurred in 70 AD.
558 + 70 = 628 - 1 (for year 0) is 627.
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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In the Old Testament, there are numerous cryptic allusions to the Messiah, and even in Jewish tradition, it is recognized that such allusions exist. Josephus tells of signs of the Temple's destruction that remind me of the story of the great sound at Pentecost and of Jesus' predicting the Temple's destruction. It seems that similar in the allusions in the Old Testament, Josephus could be making allusions to Pentecost and to Jesus' preaching. According to the Church fathers, Josephus had written that there were Judeans who thought that it was St. James' killing (about 63 AD) that divinely brought about the Temple's destruction. And in the passage below, Josephus seems to date the beginning of Jesus son of Ananus' predictions of the Temple's destruction to 63 AD. Josephus writes:

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Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence."

By comparison, Acts 2 narrates how on Pentecost, there was a great sound and then the multitude of believers gathered spoke in tongues, distinguishable to people of many nations. This has been interpreted as a gift for the apostles to go out into the rest of the world and preach the gospel. Acts 2 narrates:
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And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Next, Josephus narrates the story of Jesus the son of Ananus seeming to come out of nowhere to start making public predictions in c.63 AD that the Temple would be destroyed, which Jesus Christ had Himself predicted decades earlier:
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But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, (23) began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!" And just as he added at the last, "Woe, woe to myself also!" there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.

I don't know what Josephus is referring to in Jewish holy writings, when he says:
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the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, "That then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four-square."

Thackeray's translation of this passage is:
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Thus the Jews, after the demolition of Antonia, reduced the temple to a square, although they had it recorded in their oracles that the city and the sanctuary would be taken when the temple should become four-square."
The ocean, impassable by men, and the world beyond it are directed by the same ordinances of the Master. ~ I Clement 20