Author Topic: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity  (Read 48484 times)

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Offline Volnutt

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I know all about that tempest in a teapot, yes.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Wikipedia notes about Mara Bar Serapion's Syriac language letter that may mention Jesus:
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"most scholars date it to shortly after AD 73 during the first century."
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_bar_Serapion_on_Jesus)

The letter sounds like it is referring to Jesus:
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What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea and the Jews, desolate and driven from their own kingdom, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise king, because of the "new law" he laid down.

This part makes it sound like the author wasn't a Christian because Christianity would emphasize that Jesus lived on in His resurrected body: "Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."

I don't understand the last part of the end of Mara Bar Serapion's letter:
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One of his friends asked Mara, son of Serapion, when in bonds at his side: “Nay, by thy life, Mara, tell me what cause of laughter thou hast seen, that thou laughest.” “I am laughing,” said Mara, “at Time: inasmuch as, although he has not borrowed any evil from me, he is paying me back.”

Wikipedia says: "There were three cases when captives were taken from Samosata, in 72 AD by the Romans, in 161/162 by Parthians and in 256 by Sasanians".
Since Mara says his city was captured by Rome and he was taken captive, it suggests a date of c. 72 AD for the letter.

William Cureton proposes a date of about 162 AD:
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The mention, however, of that island having been covered with sand, as a punishment for the burning of Pythagoras, seems to me to have a direct reference to the Sibylline verses; "I cannot therefore, in my own mind, come to any other conclusion than that this Epistle ought to be assigned to a period when the Sibylline verses were frequently cited, the age of Justin Martyr, Meliton, and Tertullian. This date, too, will perhaps otherwise coincide quite as well with what is read in the letter as the former. The troubles to which the writer alludes as having befallen himself and his city will apply to those inflicted by the Eomans upon the countries about the Tigris and Euphrates which had been excited to rebel against them by Vologeses, in the Parthian war under the command of Lucius Verus, A.D. 162-165. I have not found the name of Samosata especially mentioned as having suffered more than other cities in this war; but it is stated that Seleucia was sacked and burned by the Romans, and five or six thousand slain. The persecution under Marcus Antoninus followed very close upon this war, and as these facts equally agree with the allusions made in this Epistle of Mara, it may perhaps be nearer the truth to assign its date to the latter half of the second century rather than to the close of the first.

If indeed such be the period at which this Letter was written, there is no improbability in supposing, that the Serapion, to whom it is addressed, may be the same as he who succeeded Maximinus as eighth Bishop of Antioch, about the year 190, and who himself also wrote short epistles, similar to this in purpose and tendency, for which indeed his father's might have set him a pattern.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/info/mara.html

Do you agree with Peter Kirby's claim that the 1st to 2nd nonChristian writers who mentioned Christians described them as odd?:

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If there is one impression that we can gather from the references to Christians in our non-Christian sources, one common theme that that runs through Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Epictetus, Lucian, Marcus Aurelius, Galen, Celsus, and Philostratus, it is the inherent oddity they ascribe to the group. The only real exception in the literature of the era that stands out is that attributed to Mara Bar-Serapion
http://peterkirby.com/mara-bar-serapion-fourth-century.html
Josephus is commonly considered a nonChristian writer and as the scholars most commonly interpret the Testamonium, he doesn't describe them as odd.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 12:47:16 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Sounds right for most mentions of Christianity, at least. In terms of Josephus, it seems like a lot hinges on just what he meant by "if indeed one could call him [Jesus] a man."
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Some scholars discussed whether Mara Bar Serapion was a pagan or a Christian, and a polytheist or monotheist. It looks to me like he was a monotheist because he writes in his letter:
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When, moreover, a person has left his home, and is able still to preserve his previous character, and properly does that which it behoves him to do, he is that chosen man who is called "the blessing of God," and one who does not find aught else to compare with his freedom.
...
When, moreover, anything untoward befalls thee, do not lay the blame on man, nor be angry against God, nor fulminate against the time thou livest in.

If thou shalt continue in this mind, thy gift it not small which thou hast received from God, which has no need of riches, and is never reduced to poverty. For without fear shalt thou pass thy life, and with rejoicing.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/mara.html


It's interesting what he says here:
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beware lest the gain which many hunger after enervate thee, and thy mind turn to covet riches, which have no stability. For, when they are acquired by fraud, they do not continue; nor, even when justly obtained, do they last; and all those things which are seen by thee in the world, as belonging to that which is only for a little time, are destined to depart like a dream: for they are but as the risings and settings of the seasons.

Can you make sense out of this?:
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"About the objects of that vainglory, too, of which the life of men is full, be not thou solicitous: seeing that from those things which give us joy there quickly comes to us harm. Most especially is this the case with the birth of beloved children. For in two respects it plainly brings us harm: in the case of the virtuous, our very affection for them torments us, and from their very excellence of character we Suffer torture; and, in the case of the vicious, we are worried with their correction, and afflicted with their misconduct."
How do virtuous parents suffer torture from their children's excellence of character?


I like what he said here in his letter:
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But as for thee, my beloved, be not distressed because in thy loneliness thou hast been driven from place to place. For to these things men are born, since they are destined to meet with the accidents of time. But rather let thy thought be this, that to wise men every place is alike, and that in every city the good have many fathers and mothers. Else, if thou doubt it, take thee a proof from what thou hast seen thyself. How many people who know thee not love thee as one of their own children; and what a host of women receive thee as they would their own beloved ones! Verily, as a stranger thou hast been fortunate; verily, for thy small love many people have conceived an ardent affection for thee.
...

For myself, what I am henceforth solicitous about is this-that, so far as I have recollections of the past, I may leave behind me a book containing them, and with a prudent mind finish the journey which I am appointed to take, and depart without suffering out of the sad afflictions of the world. For my prayer is, that I may receive my dismissal; and by what kind of death concerns me not. But, if any one should be troubled or anxious about this, I have no counsel to give him: for yonder, in the dwelling-place of all the world, will he find us before him.

Can you make sense of this ending:
Quote
One of his friends asked Mara, son of Serapion, when in bonds at his side: "Nay, by thy life, Mara, tell me what cause of laughter thou hast seen, that thou laughest." "I am laughing," said Mara, "at Time: inasmuch as, although he has not borrowed any evil from me, he is paying me back."
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 01:27:26 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline Volnutt

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Some scholars discussed whether Mara Bar Serapion was a pagan or a Christian, and a polytheist or monotheist. It looks to me like he was a monotheist because he writes in his letter:
Quote
When, moreover, a person has left his home, and is able still to preserve his previous character, and properly does that which it behoves him to do, he is that chosen man who is called "the blessing of God," and one who does not find aught else to compare with his freedom.
...
When, moreover, anything untoward befalls thee, do not lay the blame on man, nor be angry against God, nor fulminate against the time thou livest in.

If thou shalt continue in this mind, thy gift it not small which thou hast received from God, which has no need of riches, and is never reduced to poverty. For without fear shalt thou pass thy life, and with rejoicing.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/mara.html

He could have been a Monotheist in Plato's sense (there's a Supreme Being that is beyond, and the creator of, any other "god" that might exist and far more important than they are).

Can you make sense out of this?:
Quote
"About the objects of that vainglory, too, of which the life of men is full, be not thou solicitous: seeing that from those things which give us joy there quickly comes to us harm. Most especially is this the case with the birth of beloved children. For in two respects it plainly brings us harm: in the case of the virtuous, our very affection for them torments us, and from their very excellence of character we Suffer torture; and, in the case of the vicious, we are worried with their correction, and afflicted with their misconduct."
How do virtuous parents suffer torture from their children's excellence of character?

My guess would be, "Because the virtuous suffer from this evil world and no parent wants to see their children suffer."

I like what he said here in his letter:
Quote
But as for thee, my beloved, be not distressed because in thy loneliness thou hast been driven from place to place. For to these things men are born, since they are destined to meet with the accidents of time. But rather let thy thought be this, that to wise men every place is alike, and that in every city the good have many fathers and mothers. Else, if thou doubt it, take thee a proof from what thou hast seen thyself. How many people who know thee not love thee as one of their own children; and what a host of women receive thee as they would their own beloved ones! Verily, as a stranger thou hast been fortunate; verily, for thy small love many people have conceived an ardent affection for thee.
...

For myself, what I am henceforth solicitous about is this-that, so far as I have recollections of the past, I may leave behind me a book containing them, and with a prudent mind finish the journey which I am appointed to take, and depart without suffering out of the sad afflictions of the world. For my prayer is, that I may receive my dismissal; and by what kind of death concerns me not. But, if any one should be troubled or anxious about this, I have no counsel to give him: for yonder, in the dwelling-place of all the world, will he find us before him.

Doesn't seem too dissimilar to Mark 10:9 and equivalents, to me. It is a nice passage, yeah.

Can you make sense of this ending:
Quote
One of his friends asked Mara, son of Serapion, when in bonds at his side: "Nay, by thy life, Mara, tell me what cause of laughter thou hast seen, that thou laughest." "I am laughing," said Mara, "at Time: inasmuch as, although he has not borrowed any evil from me, he is paying me back."

Just laughing at the whimsical unfairness of life, I guess. Sometimes you gotta laugh just so you don't cry.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 07:31:11 AM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline rakovsky

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Good answers.
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Offline rakovsky

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Stephen Goranson proposes that in Pliny's description of the geography of the Qumran community, Pliny the Elder was talking about Qumran:
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It has frequently been pointed out that Pliny here does use the sense of "downstream" which the North to South movement here suggests, rather than placing them in hills west of Ein Gedi, hills whose existence he does not mention.13 It has also often been noted that, despite intensive archaeological surveys, no site other than the Qumran/Ein Feshkha complex qualifies. I can add yet another indication that Agrippa in Pliny did describe Essenes at Qumran. Of the seventeen cases14 where in the geographic books of N.H., books 3 to 6, where Pliny uses "infra," two of those which use the term to mean "downstream" occur in sections of Pliny's text (4.84 and 6.136) which explicitly name Marcus Agrippa. Though this does not absolutely prove that Agrippa used the word in this sense in his account of Essenes, it does appear that the evidence as a whole makes the link of Agrippa's description with Qumran secure.
http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/symposiums/programs/Goranson98.shtml

I wonder if Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (Book V, Chapter 19) was referring to the Christian community around Apamea as the "Nazarenes"?
Pliny writes: " Coele Syria has the town of Apamea, divided by the river Marsyas from the Tetrarchy of the Nazerini" (Book 5, Chapter 19)
FOOTNOTE:
"It is suggested, that these are the Phylarchi Arabes of Strabo, now called the Nosairis, who were situate to the east of Apamea. The river Marsyas here mentioned was a small tributary of the Orontes, into which it falls on the east side, near Apamea."

Wikipedia says of Pliny the Elder's Natural History:
Quote
He began it in 77, and had not made a final revision at the time of his death during the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_History_(Pliny))
So at that time the Christians likely were inhabiting the region of Pella. In his Natural History, Pliny says that the Nazarenes were living near Apamea (in Syria), which was also called Pella. He also described the Essenes in detail a few chapters earlier (Chapter 15 of Book 5), so it would fit his style of writing for him to describe the Nazarenes.
In Eusebius' History and the Panarion of Epiphanius, they describe Christian groups in the city of Pella in what is today Jordan:
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The fourth-century church fathers Eusebius and Epiphanius of Salamis cite a tradition that before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 the Jerusalem Christians had been miraculously warned to flee to Pella (Tabaquat Fahil) in the region of the Decapolis across the Jordan River.

    The people of the Church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella.
    — Eusebius, Church History 3, 5, 3


    This heresy of the Nazoraeans exists in Beroea in the neighbourhood of Coele Syria and the Decapolis in the region of Pella and in Basanitis in the so-called Kokaba (Chochabe in Hebrew). From there it took its beginning after the exodus from Jerusalem when all the disciples went to live in Pella because Christ had told them to leave Jerusalem and to go away since it would undergo a siege."
    — Epiphanius, Panarion 29,7,7-8

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_to_Pella
In the New Testament, Paul is accused of being a leader of the Nazarene sect (Acts 24:5), and Tertullian (late 2nd c. - early 3rd c.) says that the Christians were called Nazarenes by the Jews.

However, there are some scholarly objections to equating Pliny's Nazarenes with the Christians. Pliny is often considered to have described a pre-Christian "Nazarene" sect in Syria because his writing on the Levant commonly describes the region as it was in the time of Marcus Agrippa, whose writings formed a major source of Pliny's information.
Besides that, Pliny in the first century describes the Nazarini as living near Apamea/Pella in Syria, whereas Eusebius and Epiphanes in the fourth century describe the Nazarenes as living in Pella in what is today Jordan. It could be that Pliny was mistaken about the location (Syria v Jordan) or else that the fourth century writers were mistaken, or it could be that these really were two different Pellas with two different groups of "Nazarenes".
Another curious feature is how the Nazarenes are ruled by a "tetrarchy", which means that four people rule over them. The term tetrarchy is common for that chapter, wherein Pliny names about 20 other "tetrarchies" in the region.
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Offline rakovsky

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In "Pagan Rome and the Early Christians", Stephen Benko wrote about the Stoic philosopher Epictetus:
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Epictetus ... taught first in Rome and then in Nicopolis, Epirus. Both cities had a Christian congregation at a very early date, and, according to Titus 3:12, the apostle Paul spent a whole winter in Nicopolis. Epictetus... had a good opportunity to learn something about the Christians, whom he called Galileans, and he seems to have been particularly impressed by their lack of fear before the authorities.
Josephus talks about the Galileans as a sect and says that they have a leader called Judas the Galilean, but he doesn't equate them openly with Christians. So it's curious to me whether they are the same group.


Peter Oakes writes in "Epictetus and the New Testament":
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Epictetus  can  also  base  relational  ethics  on our  fellow  humans  being,  like  us,  offspring  of Zeus (Diss. 1.13.4).

Conformity to God’s will
Lead thou me on, O Zeus and Destiny,
To that goal long ago to me assigned. 
I’ll follow and not falter; if my will
Prove weak and craven, still I’ll follow on. (Ench. 53)

This  hymn  by  Cleanthes  is  a  favourite  of  Epictetus’   and  points  to  the  centre  of  his  religious  concern,  namely  to  conform  his  will  to  God’s.  God,  for  Epictetus,  is  omnipotent  and  this  is  applied to give the result that whatever happens is God’s will (Frag. 3 [Stobaeus IV.44, 66]).
https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/vox/vol23/epictetus_oakes.pdf

Was "Zeus" a reference to God for the ancient Greeks?

In "Epictetus' Views on Christians", Niko Huutenen writes that "two passages actually refer to [Christians] (Discourses 2.9:19-21 and 4.7.6).

Jules Evans writes in Stoicism and Christianity:
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the Stoics were monotheists – they followed Heraclitus in believing in one Logos. In this they can be compared to the evolving monotheism of Judaism, particularly that of Moses around two centuries earlier. Later Christians would draw on the Stoic concept of the Logos, particularly in the marvelous opening to the Gospel of St John.
http://www.philosophyforlife.org/stoicism-and-christianity/

According to Kevin Vost:
Quote
an anonymous epigram found in the writings of St. John Chrysostom [says]: “Slave, poor as Irus, halting as I trod, I, Epictetus, was the friend of God.”
http://modernstoicism.com/the-porch-and-the-cross-stoicism-and-christianity-by-kevin-vost/


Philip Schaff writes about Epictetus:
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There is a bare possibility that he had a passing acquaintance with him, if not with Paul himself. He came as a slave to Rome with his master, Epaphroditus, a profligate freedman and favorite of Nero (whom he aided in committing suicide), and was afterwards set at liberty.
https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc2.v.x.iv.html

I guess that this Epaphroditus is likely the one to whom Paul sent greetings in one of the epistles, and is the one to whom Josephus dedicates writings.


In his Discourses, Book II, Chapter 9, there is a section that is reminiscient of Paul's discussion on being a Jew inwardly vs. having only the rituals of a Jew (like circumcision). What is curious especially for me is how he speaks of himself and his group as being "baptized". Does this reference to baptism and similarity to Paul's philosophy of being an inward Jew suggest that Epictetus, like perhaps his master Epaphroditus, was some version of a secret Christian?
An easy objection could be that Stoic philosophy has known differences from Christianity, yet on the other hand, Christianity was a movement in the process of being born and Paul was trying to spread a wide net to make converts across gentile circles (as when he taught that it was acceptable for Christians to eat food offered to pagan idols, which could occur during shared meals with pagans.).
Here is the passage:
Quote
1925 LOEB TRANSLATION:
Why, then, do you call yourself a Stoic, why do you deceive the multitude, why do you act the part of a Jew,[4] when you are a Greek? 20Do you not see in what sense men are severally called Jew, Syrian, or Egyptian? For example, whenever we see a man halting between two faiths, we are in the habit of saying, "He is not a Jew, he is only acting the part." But when he adopts the attitude of mind of the man who has been baptized and has made his choice, then he both is a Jew in fact and is also called one. So we also are counterfeit "baptists," ostensibly Jews, but in reality something else, not in sympathy with our own reason, far from applying the principles which we profess, yet priding ourselves upon them as being men who know them. So, although we are unable even to fulfil the profession of man, we take on the additional profession of the philosopher —so huge a burden! It is as though a man who was unable to raise ten pounds wanted to lift the stone of Aias.

LOEB FOOTNOTE:
It would appear (especially from the expression "counterfeit 'baptists'" below) that Epictetus is here speaking really of the Christians, who were in his time not infrequently confused with the Jews. (But it should be observed that the text translated here is an emendation, for the MS. says "the part of Greeks when you are a Jew," which may possibly be defended on the understanding that, in the parlance of Epictetus, a Jew is one who does not follow reason as his sole guide.)
The sense of this much vexed passage I take to be: True Jews (i.e. Christians) are a very marked class of men because of the rigorous consistency between their faith and their practice. But there are some who for one reason or another (possibly in order to avail themselves of the charity which the Christians dispensed to the poor, as Schweighäuser suggests,—like the so-called "rice Christians") profess a faith which they do not practise. It is this class, then, which Epictetus has in mind when he bitterly calls himself and his pupils "counterfeit 'baptists.'"

1890 George Long Translation
Why then do you call yourself a Stoic? Why do you act like a Jew, when you are a Greek? Do not you see on what terms each is called a Jew, a Syrian, an Egyptian? And when we see any one wavering, we are wont to say, This is not a Jew, but only acts like one. But, when he assumes the sentiments of one who has been baptized and circumcised, then he both really is, and is called, a Jew. Thus we, falsifying our profession, may be Jews in name, but are in reality something else. We are inconsistent with our own discourse; we are far from practising what we teach, and what we pride ourselves on knowing. Thus, while we are unable to fulfil what the character of a man implies, we are ready to assume besides so vast a weight as that of a philosopher. As if a person, incapable of lifting ten pounds, should endeavor to heave the same stone with Ajax.

1916 Greek text
τί οὖν Στωικὸν λέγεις σεαυτόν, τί ἐξαπατᾷς τοὺς πολλούς, τί ὑποκρίνῃ Ἰουδαῖον ὢν Ἕλλην; [20] οὐχ ὁρᾷς, πῶς ἕκαστος λέγεται Ἰουδαῖος, πῶς Σύρος, πῶς Αἰγύπτιος; καὶ ὅταν τινὰ ἐπαμφοτερίζοντα ἴδωμεν, εἰώθαμεν λέγειν ‘οὐκ ἔστιν Ἰουδαῖος, ἀλλ᾽ ὑποκρίνεται.’ ὅταν δ᾽ ἀναλάβῃ τὸ πάθος τὸ τοῦ βεβαμμένου καὶ ᾑρημένου, τότε καὶ ἔστι τῷ ὄντι καὶ καλεῖται Ἰουδαῖος. [21] οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς παραβαπτισταί, λόγῳ μὲν Ἰουδαῖοι, ἔργῳ δ᾽ ἄλλο τι, ἀσυμπαθεῖς πρὸς τὸν λόγον, μακρὰν ἀπὸ τοῦ χρῆσθαι τούτοις ἃ λέγομεν, ἐφ᾽ οἷς ὡς εἰδότες αὐτὰ ἐπαιρόμεθα. [22] οὕτως οὐδὲ τὴν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαγγελίαν πληρῶσαι δυνάμενοι προσλαμβάνομεν τὴν τοῦ φιλοσόφου, τηλικοῦτο φορτίον οἷον εἴ τις δέκα λίτρας ἆραι μὴ δυνάμενος τὸν τοῦ Αἴαντος λίθον βαστάζειν ἤθελεν.

1877 Chesterfield society edition footnote:
It has been suggested that Epictetus confounded under the name of Jews those who were Jews and those who were Christians.

Maybe it does not really say that "we", the writer and his circle, are "baptized", and this is a later mistaken "emendation"?
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Offline RaphaCam

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Welcome back!
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Offline rakovsky

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Thanks.
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Offline rakovsky

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My guess is that Epictetus got baptized as a secret 1st-early 2nd century Christian because:
1) His master Epaphroditus appears to be an early Christian as mentioned in Phillipians and numerous scholars have suggested (I wrote about this in the 1st century Judaic & pagan writers thread).
2) He seems to write about being a true, inward Jew like Paul talked about and maybe talked about himself and his own group as being baptized. But this could be a mistranslation:

Quote
Why then do you call yourself a Stoic? Why do you deceive the many? Why do you act the part of a Jew,6 when you are a Greek? Do you not see how (why) each is called a Jew, or a Syrian or an Egyptian? and when we see a man inclining to two sides, we are accustomed to say, This man is not a Jew, but he acts as one. But when he has assumed the affects of one who has been imbued with Jewish doctrine and has adopted that sect, then he is in fact and he is named a Jew.7 Thus we too being falsely imbued (baptized), are in name Jews, but in fact we are something else. Our affects (feelings) are inconsistent with our words; we are far from practising what we say, and that of which we are proud, as if we knew it.

Higginson's Footnote:
It is possible, as I have said, that by Jews Epictetus means Christians, for Christians and Jews are evidently confounded by some writers, as the first Christians were of the Jewish nation. In book iv. c. 7, Epictetus gives the name of Galilaeans to the Jews. The term Galilaeans points to the country of the great teacher. Paul says (Romans, ii. 28), 'For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly—but he is a Jew which is one inwardly,' etc. His remarks (ii. 17–29) on the man 'who is called a Jew, and rests in the law and makes his boast of God' may be compared with what Epictetus says of a man who is called a philosopher, and does not practise that which he professes.

1890 Higginson translation, Discourses 2.9


See also page 317 in Religio-Philosophical Discourses in the Mediterranean World, edited by Anders Klostergaard Petersen, George H. van Kooten:
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"One cannot avoid the thought that he is referring to Christian baptism... In section 21, Epictetus says, "we are also counterfeit baptists (parabaptistai); Jews in words, but in deeds something else. ... all the Jews have invalid baptisms (section 21), while real Jews have a valid baptism (section 20). As the valid baptism is the Christian baptism, Epictetus reproduces the Christian and anti-Jewish view.  ... Epictetus' words for Christians, who are the real Jews, undoubtedly reflect a Christian self-understanding. This self-understanding is seen in the New Testament (Romans 9:6-8), not to speak of later Christian literature.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 09:45:33 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Asteriktos

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Uh... looking at the context, I don't think he's saying that at all...

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/discourses.2.two.html

Offline rakovsky

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Uh... looking at the context, I don't think he's saying that at all...

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/discourses.2.two.html
Asteriktos,
Thank you for citing the passage with the context. (Here is an excerpt from what you cited):

Quote
But when he has assumed the affects of one who has been imbued with Jewish doctrine and has adopted that sect, then he is in fact and he is named a Jew. Thus we too being falsely imbued, are in name Jews, but in fact we are something else. Our affects are inconsistent with our words; we are far from practicing what we say, and that of which we are proud, as if we knew it.
It sounds based on the above book that I quoted that he was actually using the Greek word meaning "baptise", rather than just "imbue".

You are free to disagree with me on the passage's meaning. What I wrote is my best guess, and I respect your views.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 10:22:31 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Epictetus was the Stoic slave of Epaphroditus, likely the same one who is mentioned by Paul in Phillipians and was a major servant in Nero's court:
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“I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me” (Philippians 2:25–30).
...
I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God ... All the saints send you greetings, especially those from the household of Caesar. (Philippians 4:18,22)

Wikipedia has an interesting summary of Epictetus' views on martyrdom:
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For our country or friends we ought to be ready to undergo or perform the greatest difficulties.[54] The good person, if able to foresee the future, would peacefully and contentedly help to bring about their own sickness, maiming, and even death, knowing that this is the correct order of the universe.[55] We have all a certain part to play in the world, and we have done enough when we have performed what our nature allows.[56] In the exercise of our powers, we may become aware of the destiny we are intended to fulfill.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus

Oldfather's introduction in the Loeb Edition of Epictetus' works notes similarities with the New Testament:
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The linguistic resemblances, which are occasionally striking, like "Lord, have mercy!" κύριε, ἐλέησον[Kirie Eleison], are only accidental, because Epictetus was speaking the common language of ethical exhortation in which the evangelists and apostles wrote; while the few specious similarities are counterbalanced by as many striking differences In the field of doctrine, the one notable point of disregard for the things of this world[35] is offset by so many fundamental differences in presupposition, if not in common ethical practice, that any kind of a sympathetic understanding of the new religion on the part of Epictetus is inconceivable. A certain ground-tone of religious capability, a fading of interest in the conventional fields of human achievement, a personal kindliness and "harmlessness" of character, a truly pathetic longing as of tired men for a passive kind of happiness, an ill-defined yearning to be "saved" by some spectacular and divine intervention, these things are all to be found in the Discourses, yet they are not there as an effect of Christian teaching, but as a true reflection of the tone and temper of those social circles to which the Gospel made its powerful appeal.

It's interesting how Epictetus speaks of both "God" and "the gods", Theos and Theon. What is the relationship between the two categories?:
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If a man could only subscribe heart and soul, as he ought, to this doctrine, that we are all primarily begotten of God, and that God is the father of men as well as of gods, I think that he will entertain no ignoble or mean thought about himself. Yet, if Caesar adopts you no one will be able to endure your conceit, but if you know that you are a son of Zeus, will you not be elated?

εἴ τις τῷ δόγματι τούτῳ συμπαθῆσαι κατ᾽ ἀξίαν δύναιτο, ὅτι γεγόναμεν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πάντες προηγουμένως καὶ ὁ θεὸς πατήρ ἐστι τῶν τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων καὶ τῶν θεῶν, οἶμαι ὅτι οὐδὲν ἀγεννὲς οὐδὲ ταπεινὸν ἐνθυμηθήσεται περὶ ἑαυτοῦ.

Discourses, Bk 1, Chp 3
Epictetus calls God "Zeus". In Greek mythology, Zeus was the son of Cronus‎ and ‎Rhea. But I think that for monotheism, God Himself is not a child of another one of "the gods". How does this work in Epictetus' mind? Is Zeus "God", the father of men and gods, and yet Himself the offspring of other gods?
Elsewhere Epictetus speaks of the god Aeolus (the divine keeper of the winds) as distinct from Zeus:
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"What wind is blowing?" we ask. Boreas. "What have we to do with it? When will Zephyrus blow?" When it pleases, good sir, or rather when Aeolus pleases. For God has not made you steward of the winds, but Aeolus.[4] "What then?" We must make the best of what is under our control, and take the rest as its nature is. "How, then, is its nature?" As God wills.
Book 1 Chapter 1
If Epictetus speaks of God (Zeus) and His distinct offspring, the gods, is Epictetus not really a monotheist?

I wonder if Epictetus' comment about bathing as a faithful person is related to the concept of Christian baptism? Maybe the word faithful is a mistranslation?:

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Where, then, is progress? If any man among you, withdrawing from external things, has turned his attention to the question of his own moral purpose, cultivating and perfecting it so as to make it finally harmonious with nature, elevated, free, unhindered, untrammelled, faithful, and honourable; and if he has learned that he who craves or shuns the things that are not under his control can be neither faithful nor free, but must himself of necessity be changed and tossed to and fro with them, and must end by subordinating himself to others, those, namely, who are able to procure or prevent these things that he craves or shuns; 20and if, finally, when he rises in the morning he proceeds to keep and observe all this that he has learned; if he bathes as a faithful man, eats as a self-respecting man,—similarly, whatever the subject matter may be with which he has to deal, putting into practice his guiding principles, as the runner does when he applies the principles of running, and the voice-trainer when he applies the principles of voice-training,—this is the man who in all truth is making progress, and the man who has not travelled at random is this one.

[18] ποῦ οὖν προκοπή; εἴ τις ὑμῶν ἀποστὰς τῶν ἐκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν προαίρεσιν ἐπέστραπται τὴν αὑτοῦ, ταύτην ἐξεργάζεσθαι καὶ ἐκπονεῖν, ὥστε σύμφωνον ἀποτελέσαι τῇ φύσει, ὑψηλὴν ἐλευθέραν ἀκώλυτον ἀνεμπόδιστον πιστὴν αἰδήμονα: [19] μεμάθηκέν τε, ὅτι ὁ τὰ μὴ ἐφ᾽ αὑτῷ ποθῶν ἢ φεύγων οὔτε πιστὸς εἶναι δύναται οὔτ᾽ ἐλεύθερος, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνάγκη μεταπίπτειν καὶ μεταρριπίζεσθαι ἅμα ἐκείνοις καὶ αὐτόν, ἀνάγκη δὲ καὶ ὑποτεταχέναι ἄλλοις ἑαυτόν, τοῖς ἐκεῖνα περιποιεῖν ἢ κωλύειν δυναμένοις: [20] καὶ λοιπὸν ἕωθεν ἀνιστάμενος ταῦτα τηρεῖ καὶ φυλάσσει, λούεται ὡς πιστός, ὡς αἰδήμων ἐσθίει, ὡσαύτως ἐπὶ τῆς ἀεὶ παραπιπτούσης ὕλης τὰ προηγούμενα ἐκπονῶν, ὡς ὁ δρομεὺς δρομικῶς καὶ ὁ φώνασκος φωνασκικῶς: [21] οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προκόπτων ταῖς ἀληθείαις καὶ ὁ μὴ εἰκῇ ἀποδεδημηκὼς οὗτός ἐστιν. [22] εἰ δ᾽ ἐπὶ τὴν ἐν τοῖς βιβλίοις ἕξιν τέταται καὶ ταύτην ἐκπονεῖ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦτο ἐκδεδήμηκε, λέγω αὐτῷ αὐτόθεν πορεύεσθαι εἰς οἶκον καὶ μὴ ἀμελεῖν τῶν ἐκεῖ: [23] τοῦτο γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ὃ ἀποδεδήμηκεν οὐδέν ἐστιν: ἀλλ᾽ ἐκεῖνο, μελετᾶν ἐξελεῖν τοῦ αὑτοῦ βίου πένθη καὶ οἰμωγὰς καὶ τὸ ‘οἴμοι’ καὶ τὸ ‘τάλας ἐγὼ’ καὶ δυστυχίαν καὶ ἀτυχίαν καὶ μαθεῖν,

I like what he says in Book 1 Chapter 12:
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But you are impatient and peevish, and if you are alone, you call it a solitude, but if you are in the company of men, you call them schemers and brigands, and you find fault even with your own parents and children and brothers and neighbours. But you ought, when staying alone, to call that peace and freedom, and to look upon yourself as like the gods; and when you are in the company of many, you ought not call that a mob, nor a tumult, nor a disgusting thing, but a feast and a festival, and so accept all things contentedly.

What, then, is the punishment of those who do not accept? To be just as they are. Is one peevish because he is alone? Let him be in solitude! Is he peevish with his parents? Let him be an evil son and grieve! Is he peevish with his children? Let him be a bad father! "Throw him into prison." What sort of prison? Where he now is. For he is there against his will, and where a man is against his will, that for him is a prison. Just as Socrates was not in prison, for he was there willingly. "Alas, that I should be lame in my leg!" Slave, do you, then, because of one paltry leg blame the universe? Will you not make a free gift of it to the whole? Will you not relinquish it? Will you not gladly yield it to the giver? 25And will you be angry and peevish at the ordinances of Zeus, which he defined and ordained together with the Fates who spun in his presence the thread of your begetting? Do you not know how small a part you are compared with the whole? That is, as to the body; for as to the reason you are not inferior to the gods, nor less than they; for the greatness of the reason is not determined by length nor by height, but by the decisions of its will.

Chapter 13 has a good argument against mistreating slaves:
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Slave, will you not bear with your own brother, who has Zeus as his progenitor and is, as it were, a son born of the same seed as yourself and of the same sowing from above; but if you have been stationed in a like position above others, will you forthwith set yourself up as a tyrant? Do you not remember what you are, and over whom you rule—that they are kinsmen, that they are brothers by nature, that they are the offspring of Zeus?5—But I have a deed of sale for them, and they have none for me.—Do you see whither you bend your gaze, that it is to the earth, that it is to the pit, that it is to these wretched laws of ours, the laws of the dead, and that it is not to the laws of the gods that you look?

I really like this in Chapter 18:
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Who, then, is unconquerable? He whom the inevitable cannot overcome. For such a person I imagine every trial, and watch him as an athlete in each. He has been victorious in the first encounter. What will he do in the second? What, if he should be ex- [p. 1066] hausted by the heat? What, if the field be Olympia? And so in other trials. If you throw money in his way, he will despise it. Is he proof against the seductions of women? What if he be tested by fame. by calumny, by praise, by death? He is able to overcome them all. If he can bear sunshine and storm, discouragement and fatigue, I pronounce him an athlete unconquered indeed.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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This is a funny story about Epaphroditus and his servant in Chapter 19 of the Discourses:
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What then? When men entertain absurd opinions about what lies outside the province of the moral purpose, counting it good or bad, it is altogether unavoidable for them to pay attention to the tyrant. Aye, would that it were merely the tyrants and not their chamberlains too! And yet how can the man suddenly become wise when Caesar puts him in charge of his chamberpot? How can we forthwith say "Felicio has spoken wisely to me"? I would that he were deposed from the superintendency of the dunghill, that you may think him a fool again! Epaphroditus owned a certain cobbler whom he sold because he was useless; then by some chance the fellow was bought by a member of Caesar's household and became cobbler to Caesar. You should have seen how Epaphroditus honoured him! 20"How is my good Felicio, I pray you?" he used to say. And then if someone asked us, "What is your master[3] doing?" he was told, "He is consulting Felicio about something or other." Why, had he not sold him as being useless? Who, then, had suddenly made a wise man out of him? This is what it means to honour something else than what lies within the province of the moral purpose.

I like his humor:
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To-day a man was talking to me about a priesthood of Augustus. I say to him, "Man, drop the matter; you will be spending a great deal to no purpose." "But," says he, "those who draw up deeds of sale will inscribe my name." "Do you really expect, then, to be present when the deeds are read and say, 'That is my name they have written'? And even supposing you are now able to be present whenever anyone reads them, what will you do if you die?" "My name will remain after me." "Inscribe it on a stone and it will remain after you. Come now, who will remember you outside of Nicopolis?"[4] "But I shall wear a crown of gold." "If you desire a crown at all, take a crown of roses and put it on; you will look much more elegant in that."
Chapter 19

In Chapter 20, he makes an interesting argument against Epicurus, who taught that everything was only matter:
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And yet the chief doctrine of the philosophers is extremely brief. If you would know, read what Zeno has to say and you will see. 15For what is there lengthy in his statement: "To follow the gods is man's end, and the essence of good is the proper use of external impressions"? Ask, "What, then, is God, and what is an external impression? And what is nature in the individual and nature in the universe?" You already have a lengthy statement. If Epicurus should come and say that the good ought to be in the flesh, again the explanation becomes lengthy, and you must be told what is the principal faculty within us, and what our substantial, and what our essential, nature is. Since it is not probable that the good of a snail lies in its shell, is it, then, probable that the good of man lies in his flesh? But take your own case, Epicurus; what more masterful faculty do you yourself possess? What is that thing within you which takes counsel, which examines into all things severally, which, after examining the flesh itself, decides that it is the principal matter? And why do you light a lamp and toil in our behalf, and write such quantities of books? Is it that we may not fail to know the truth? Who are we? And what are we to you? And so the argument becomes lengthy.

Do you agree with this statement?:

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if I can change externals according to my own wish, I change them; but if I cannot, I am ready to tear out the eyes of the man who stands in my way. For it is man's nature not to endure to be deprived of the good, not to endure to fall into the evil. Then, finally, when I can neither change the circumstances, nor tear out the eyes of the man who stands in my way, I sit down and groan, and revile whom I can—Zeus and the rest of the gods; for if they do not care for me, what are they to me? "Yes," you say, "but that will be impious of you." What, then, shall I get that is worse than what I have now? In short, we must remember this—that unless piety and self-interest be conjoined, piety cannot be maintained in any man. Do not these considerations seem urgent?
I guess you can say that piety can be conjoined with self interest in that the person's goal is to be conjoined with God (communion) and this is done in self-interest, even if the person suffers. The person loves God and is willing to suffer as His servant. But here is an interesting question. What parent, willing to suffer on their beloved child's behalf, thinks of this in terms of self-interest? It seems to me that maybe piety, respect and love for God, may not really be unsustainable, because the love could be stronger than the focus on self-interest.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline Jetavan

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If Epictetus speaks of God (Zeus) and His distinct offspring, the gods, is Epictetus not really a monotheist?
For Stoics, "God" (the "Logos") is the most subtle, fine type of matter, described as "fiery", that organizes and enlivens the cosmos.
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #241 on: September 03, 2018, 01:53:19 PM »
I like what Epictetus says in Book 2, Chapter 1:
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For if a man should transfer his caution to the sphere of the moral purpose and the deeds of the moral purpose, then along with the desire to be cautious he will also at once have under his control the will to avoid; whereas, if he should transfer his caution to those matters which are not under our control and lie outside the province of the moral purpose, inasmuch as he is applying his will to avoid towards those things which are under the control of others, he will necessarily be subject to fear, instability, and perturbation. For it is not death or hardship that is a fearful thing, but the fear of hardship or death. That is why we praise the man who said

Not death is dreadful, but a shameful death.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Epictetus,_the_Discourses_as_reported_by_Arrian,_the_Manual,_and_Fragments/Book_2/Chapter_1

Is there anything resembling this teaching in Christianity?:
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The paltry body must be separated from the bit of spirit, either now or later, just as it existed apart from it before. Why are you grieved, then, if it be separated now? For if it be not separated now, it will be later. Why? So that the revolution of the universe may be accomplished;[4] for it has need of the things that are now coming into being, and the things that shall be, and the things that have been accomplished.
In the Nativity story, a star descended from heaven and led the wise men and shepherds to the manger. Doesn't Christianity have a concept comparing people's souls when separated from their bodies to stars and angels? Could the story of the star infer the Christian idea of Jesus' soul preexisting His birth? Can the human soul, like God, live independent of time constraints and thus preexist its physical birth?

The following passage from Book 2, Chapter 6 reminds me of Jesus' words in John 12: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
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Therefore Chrysippus[1] well says, "As long as the consequences are not clear to me, I cleave ever to what is better adapted to secure those things that are in accordance with nature; for God himself has created me with the faculty of choosing things. 10But if I really knew that it was ordained for me to be ill at this present moment, I would even seek illness: for the foot also, if it had a mind, would seek to be covered with mud."[2]

For example, why do heads of grain grow? Is it not that they may also become dry? But when they become dry, is it not that they may also be harvested? Since they do not grow for themselves alone. If, therefore, they had feeling, ought they to pray that they should never at all be harvested? But never to be harvested at all is a curse for heads of grain. In like manner I would have you know that in the case of men as well it is a curse never to die; it is like never growing ripe, never being harvested. But, since we are ourselves those who must both be harvested and also be aware of the very fact that we are being harvested, we are angry on that account. For we neither know who we are, nor have we studied what belongs to man, as horsemen study what belongs to horses. 15But Chrysantas, when he was on the point of striking the foe, refrained because he heard the bugle sounding the recall;[3] it seemed so much more profitable to him to do the bidding of his general than to follow his own inclination. Yet no one of us is willing, even when necessity calls, to obey her readily, but what we suffer we suffer with fears and groans, and call it "circumstances." What do you mean by "circumstances," man? If you call "circumstances" your surroundings, all things are "circumstances"; but if you use the word of hardships, what hardship is involved when that whicli has come into being is destroyed? The instrument of destruction is a sword, or a wheel,[4] or the sea, or a tile, or a tyrant. What concern is it to you by what road you descend to the House of Hades? They are all equal.[5] But if you care to hear the truth, the road by which the tyrant sends you is the shorter. No tyrant ever took six months to cut a man's throat, but a fever often takes more than a year. All these things are a mere noise and a vaunting of empty names.

Here is Loeb's translation of Book II, Chapter IX, where Epictetus calls himself and his group "counterfeit baptists", because they are ostensibly Jews but in fact fail to practice what they preach. This is like Paul's concept of Christians undergoing baptism instead of circumcision, such that they have the opportunity to consider themselves True Jews if they have correct spirituality in their hearts.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Epictetus,_the_Discourses_as_reported_by_Arrian,_the_Manual,_and_Fragments/Book_2/Chapter_9#cite_ref-3

He seems to equate God and "the gods" in some way in Chapter 14:
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Now the philosophers say that the first thing we must learn is this: That there is a God, and that He provides for the universe, and that it is impossible for a man to conceal from Him, not merely his actions, but even his purposes and his thoughts. Next we must learn what the gods are like; for whatever their character is discovered to be, the man who is going to please and obey them must endeavour as best he can to resemble them. If the deity is faithful, he also must be faithful; if free, he also must be free; if beneficent, he also must be beneficent; if high-minded, he also must be high-minded, and so forth; therefore, in everything he says and does, he must act as an imitator of God.

I like what he says in Chapter 18:
Quote

How must we struggle against our external impressions?

Every habit and faculty is confirmed and strengthened by the corresponding actions, that of walking by walking, that of running by running. If you wish to be a good reader, read; if you wish to be a good writer, write. If you should give up reading for thirty days one after the other, and be engaged in something else, you will know what happens. So also if you lie in bed for ten days, get up and try to take a rather long walk, and you will see how wobbly your legs are. In general, therefore, if you want to do something, make a habit of it; if you want not to do something, refrain from doing it, and accustom yourself to something else instead. 5The same principle holds true in the affairs of the mind also; when you are angry, you may be sure, not merely that this evil has befallen you, but also that you have strengthened the habit, and have, as it were, added fuel to the flame. When you have yielded to someone in carnal intercourse, do not count merely this one defeat, but count also the fact that you have fed your incontinence, you have given it additional strength. For it is inevitable that some habits and faculties should, in consequence of the corresponding actions, spring up, though they did not exist before, and that others which were already there should be intensified and made strong.

Later in Chapter 18, he says that resisting sexual temptation with a woman is a greater triumph than solving the "Master problem", which involves the dilemma of the interaction and relationship between fate and free will:
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To-day when I saw a handsome lad or a handsome woman I did not say to myself, "Would that a man might sleep with her," and "Her husband is a happy man," for the man who uses the expression "happy" of the husband means "Happy is the adulterer" also; I do not even picture to myself the next scene—the woman herself in my presence, disrobing and lying down by my side. I pat myself on the head and say. Well done, Epictetus, you have solved a clever problem, one much more clever than the so-called "Master"[1]: But when the wench is not only willing, but nods to me and sends for me, yes, and when she even lays hold upon me and snuggles up to me, if I still hold aloof and conquer, this has become a solved problem greater than The Liar, and The Quiescent.[2] On this score a man has a right to be proud indeed, but not about his proposing "The Master" problem.
Let me give an example from my own life that illustrates both resisting temptations and addressing the Master Problem. I can tell inside myself that I have a soul and my own will and decision-making power that is guided by it. One time in a class speaking exercise as a student (the excercize was to play the role of a "teacher") I made an off-color joke twice about "paddling" that a girl liked and called me "awesome" for. I wasn't scared of getting in trouble, but I believed that it would be wrong for me as a teacher to treat students that way, and now I know inside myself that I would never do that to a student. So I dropped the joking in the class exercise, and then that evening went to the other student in my project and we agreed that teachers physically punishing students is wrong, we talked about child abuse, and I told him how much I admired him and we in turn called eachother a "good person" because of our convictions. For me, this experience was like a divine spiritual test, and I believe that God rewards me accordingly. To apply this story to the "Master problem", I made a decision using my own soul, my beliefs, my morality, and then as a result my fate and destiny changed accordingly. For example, I formed a spiritual bond with my friend that I wouldn't have formed otherwise.

Isn't it part of faith, if one is defeated in a good task to then reassure oneself that eventually (or "by and by") one will conquer? Yet here Epictetus writes as if that's a bad way to address challenges:
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As for the storm itself, what else is it but an external impression? 30To prove this, just take away the fear of death, and then bring on as much thunder and lightning as you please, and you will realize how great is the calm, how fair the weather, in your governing principle.[6] But if you be once defeated and say that by and by you will overcome, and then a second time do the same thing, know that at last you will be in so wretched a state and so weak that by and by you will not so much as notice that you are doing wrong, but you will even begin to offer arguments in justification of your conduct; and then you will confirm the truth of the saying of Hesiod:

Forever with misfortunes dire must he who loiters cope.
Chapter 18

Chapter 20 has a neat line of logic showing that there are universal truths:
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The propositions which are true and evident must of necessity be employed even by those who contradict them; and one might consider as perhaps the strongest proof of a proposition being evident the fact that even the man who contradicts it finds himself obliged at the same time to employ it. For example, if a man should contradict the proposition that there is a universal statement which is true, it is clear that he must assert the contrary, and say: No universal statement is true. Slave, this is not true, either. For what else does this assertion amount to than: If a statement is universal, it is false? Again, if a man comes forward and says, "I would have you know that nothing is knowable, but that everything is uncertain"; or if someone else says, "Believe me, and it will be to your advantage, when I say: One ought not to believe a man at all"; or again, someone else, "Learn from me, man, that it is impossible to learn anything; 5it is I who tell you this and I will prove it to you, if you wish," what difference is there between these persons and—whom shall I say?—those who call themselves Academics? "O men," say the Academics, "give your assent to the statement that no man assents to any statement; believe us when we say that no man can believe anybody."
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 01:58:32 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Epictetus writes in Book 3:
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It is chiefiy with this principle in mind that a man must exercise himself. Go out of the house at early dawn, and no matter whom you see or whom you hear, examine him and then answer as you would to a question. What did you see? A handsome man or a handsome woman? Apply your rule. Is it outside the province of the moral purpose, or inside? Outside. Away with it. 15What did you see? A man in grief over the death of his child? Apply your rule. Death lies outside the province of the moral purpose. Out of the way with it. Did a Consul meet you? Apply your rule. What sort of thing is a consulship? Outside the province of the moral purpose, or inside? Outside. Away with it, too, it does not meet the test; throw it away, it does not concern you. If we had kept doing this and had exercised ourselves from dawn till dark with this principle in mind,—by the gods, something would have been achieved! But as it is, we are caught gaping straightway at every external impression that comes along, and we wake up a little only during the lecture, if indeed we do so even then. After that is over we go out, and if we see a man in grief, we say, "It is all over with him"; if we see a Consul, we say, "Happy man"; if we see an exile, "Poor fellow"; or a poverty-stricken person, "Wretched man, he has nothing with which to get a bite to eat." These, then, are the vicious judgements which we ought to eradicate; this is the subject upon which we ought to concentrate our efforts. Why, what is weeping and sighing? A judgement. What is misfortune? A judgement. What are strife, disagreement, faultfinding, accusing, impiety, foolishness? They are all judgements, and that, too, judgements about things that lie outside the province of moral purpose, assumed to be good or evil. Let a man but transfer his judgements to matters that lie within the province of the moral purpose, and I guarantee that he will be steadfast, whatever be the state of things about him.
(Book III, Chapter III)
Why are " strife, disagreement, faultfinding, accusing, impiety, foolishness" judgments about things that lie outside the moral purpose? I guess that he means that being impious is irreverence to God, and showing such irreverence is outside of our moral purpose.
What about sympathy though for a person is in grief over loss though? And what about sympathy for an exile? It seems that such sympathy would be within the moral purpose, although he seems to elsewhere have a stoic attitude elsewhere to misfortune, as if a person accepts that God has given this and doesn't let it bother him.

In Chapter 8, Epictetus considers being grieved at calamities to be an evil. What do you think about his opinion, especially compared to Christian views on grief?:
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So-and-so's son is dead. Answer, "That lies outside the sphere of the moral purpose, it is not an evil." His father has disinherited So-and-so; what do you think of it? "That lies outside the sphere of the moral purpose, it is not an evil." Caesar has condemned him. "That lies outside the sphere of the moral purpose, it is not an evil." He was grieved at all this. "That lies within the sphere of the moral purpose, it is an evil." He has borne up under it manfully. "That lies within the sphere of the moral purpose, it is a good."

In Chapter 9, he makes a good point about spiritual wealth and desire:
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Your strong desire is insatiate, mine is already satisfied. The same thing happens to the children who put their hand down into a narrow-necked jar and try to take out figs and nuts: if they get their hand full, they can't get it out, and then they cry. Drop a few and you will get it out. And so do you too drop your desire; do not set your heart upon many things and you will obtain.

What do you think of Epictetus' words in Chapter XX:
"Death? Let it come when it will, whether it be the death of the whole or some part. Exile? And to what place can anyone thrust me out? Outside the universe he cannot. But wherever I go, there are sun, moon, stars, dreams, omens, my converse with gods."
Is he saying that even after death the person is still alive with the planets and gods?

In Chapter 22 on the ascetic Cynics,
Epictetus implies that guards and weapons no longer afford the "kings and tyrants of this world" the ability to censure and punish people. Is this a sign that Epictetus feels that some apocalyptic or cosmic event, like Christ's sacrifice and the nations' conversion to Christianity, has happened that effectively removes the power of tyrants of "this world" to punish people? He writes:
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But above all, the Cynic's governing principle should be purer than the sun; if not, he must needs be a gambler and a man of no principle, because he will be censuring the rest of mankind, while he himself is involved in some vice. For see what this means. To the kings and tyrants of this world their bodyguards and their arms used to afford[31] the privilege of censuring certain persons, and the power also to punish those who do wrong, no matter how guilty they themselves were; whereas to the Cynic it is his conscience which affords him this power, and not his arms and his bodyguards. When he sees that he has watched over men, and toiled in their behalf; and that he has slept in purity, while his sleep leaves him even purer than he was before; and that every thought which he thinks is that of a friend and servant to the gods, of one who shares in the government of Zeus; and has always ready at hand the verse

Lead thou me on, O Zeus, and Destiny,[32]

and "If so it pleases the gods, so be it,"[33] why should he not have courage to speak freely to his own brothers, to his children, in a word, to his kinsmen?

FOOTNOTE IN LOEB'S EDITION
The rather curious imperfect tense here (at which several scholars have taken offence) may be due to an attempt to avoid the suggestion that the Roman emperors might also be evil men themselves.
I don't agree with the explanation that he meant that Roman emperors could not be evil, because 1. There were still many other kings of "the world" and 2. just because a king has the power to punish with his guards would not suggest whether or not the king could be evil.
It looks to me like he is saying that an event has happened such that the kings of this "world" have lost their power to punish. Further, Epictetus' stoic philosophy implies that a righteous faithful person should not be deterred or shamed from his moral purpose by kings' guards and punishment powers. So now, with the slogan ready at hand "Lead thou me on, O Zeus, and Destiny", the Cynic has the courage to speak freely to his kinsmen so that the kings of this world lack the ability to effectively censure him.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 05:47:28 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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In Chapter 23 of Book III, Epictetus writes:
"There is nothing more effective in the style for exhortation than when the speaker makes clear to his audience that he has need of them."
Oldfather's footnote comments: "As God needs the universe in which to exercise and display His power, so the teacher needs pupils, the speaker an audience. There is a mutual need, therefore, each of the other."

What do you think about what he says in Chapter 24 about good people not being miserable because they know that everything in Creation is temporary?:
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But it is impossible that happiness, and yearning for what is not present, should ever be united. For happiness must already possess everything that it wants; it must resemble a replete person: he cannot feel thirst or hunger.—Still, Odysseus felt a longing for his wife, and sat upon a rock and wept.[5]—And do you take Homer and his tales as authority for everything? If Odysseus really wept, what else could he have been but miserable? But what good and excellent man is miserable? In all truth the universe is badly managed, if Zeus does not take care of His own citizens, that they be like Him, that is, happy. Nay, it is unlawful and unholy to think of such an alternative, 20but if Odysseus wept and wailed, he was not a good man. Why, what man could be good who does not know who he is? And who knows that, if he has forgotten that the things which come into being are corruptible, and that it is impossible for one human being always to live with another? What then? To reach out for the impossible is slavish and foolish; it is acting like a stranger in the universe, one who is fighting against God with the only weapons at his command, his own judgements.

In chapter 24, Epictetus proposes that death is not a destruction, but a change into something different:
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Say that also for leaves to fall is ill-omened, and for the fresh fig to turn into a dried fig, and a cluster of grapes to turn into raisins. For all these things are changes of a preliminary state into something else; it is not a case of destruction, but a certain ordered dispensation and management. This is what going abroad means, a slight change; this is the meaning of death, a greater change of that which now is, not into what is not, but into what is not now.—Shall I, then, be no more?—No, you will not be, but something else will be, something different from that of which the universe now has need.[15] And this is but reasonable, for you came into being, not when you wanted, but when the universe had need of you.
Isn't the phrase "No, you will not be, but something else will be" signifying that the person will no longer exist. And yet since he no longer exists, isn't he destroyed?

In Chapter 26, Epictetus writes:
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—And what is also the end of the illness?—Anything but death? Will you, then, realize that this epitome of all the ills that befall man, of his ignoble spirit, and his cowardice, is not death, but it is rather the fear of death? Against this fear, then, I would have you discipline yourself, toward this let all your reasoning tend, your exercises, your reading; and then you will know that this is the only way in which men achieve freedom.
What is the best way to overcome the fear of death? Epictetus seems to hint in Chapter 26 that it is to take an attitude that death is just the recall by God of a general who serves God in the world. Isn't death then, this recall, something to be feared, because good deeds and God's purposes and desires for a person have been left unfulfilled? For example, one monk or saint complained when nearing death that he had not really repented of his sins. christ commanded the apostles to preach to all nations, yet this work was unfulfilled in their lives by them. How should they have felt? Perhaps the answer could be that God is ultimately in charge of everything, and so one ultimately doesn't have to be afraid of failure or death?
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #244 on: November 02, 2018, 05:28:35 PM »
In Book 4, chapter 1 on freedom, Epictetus describes how friendship with Caesar can make one less free than a slave. It reminds me of the fear some people had when dining with Stalin in case they rubbed him the wrong way.
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What, then, is this evil that is harmful and is to be avoided? One person says it is not to be Caesar's friend;[11] he is off the course, he has missed the proper application, he is in a bad way, he is looking for what is not pertinent to the case in hand; because, when he has succeeded in being Caesar's friend, he has none the less failed to get what he was seeking. For what is it that every man is seeking? To live securely, to be happy, to do everything as he wishes to do, not to be hindered, not to be subject to compulsion. When, therefore, he becomes a friend of Caesar, has he been relieved of hiindrance, reheved of compulsion, does he live securely, does he live serenely? From whom shall we inquire? What better witness have we than this very man who has become Caesar's friend? Come into the midst and tell us. When did you sleep more peacefully, now or before you became Caesar's friend? Immediately the answer comes: "Stop, I implore you by the gods, and do not jest at my lot; you don't know what I suffer, miserable man that I am; no sleep visits me, but first one person comes in and then another and reports that Caesar is already awake, and is already coming out; then troubles, then worries!" Come, when did you dine more pleasantly, now or formerly? Listen to him and to what he has to say on this topic. If he is not invited, he is hurt, and if he is invited, he dines like a slave at a master's table, all the time careful not to say or do something foolish. And what do you suppose he is afraid of? That he be scourged like a slave? How can he expect to get off as well as that? But as befits so great a man, a friend of Caesar, he is afraid he will lose his head. When did you take your bath in greater peace? And when did you take your exercise at greater leisure? In a word, which life would you rather live, your present life or the old one? 50I can take oath that no one is so insensate or so incurable as not to lament his misfortunes the more he is a friend of Caesar.[12]

He finds this way to achieve freedom:
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But I have never been hindered in the exercise of my will, nor have I ever been subjected to compulsion against my will.[21]And how is this possible? I have submitted my freedom of choice unto God. He wills that I shall have fever; it is my will too. He wills that I should choose something; it is my will too. He wills that I should desire something; it is my will too. He wills that I should get something; it is my wish too. He does not will it; I do not wish it. 90Therefore, it is my will to die; therefore, it is my will to be tortured on the rack. Who can hinder me any longer against my own views, or put compulsion upon me? That is no more possible in my case than it would be with Zeus.

He makes an inspiring line of reasoning on spiritual safety, starting with the weaknesses of seeking protection from Caesar and then going into something resembling union with God:
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if some circumstance lead him to become my enemy, where indeed had I better retire? To a wilderness? What, does not fever go there? What, then, is to become of me? Is it impossible to find a fellow-traveller who is safe, faithful, strong, free from the suspicion of treachery?" Thus he reflects and comes to the thought that, if he attach himself to God, he will pass through the world in safety.

How do you mean "attach himself"?—Why, so that whatever God wills, he also wills, and whatever God does not will, this he also does not will.
Book IV, Chp. 1

I like how he goes from loyalty to one's emancipation ex-master to how some people cannot be made slaves because of their inward freedom and on to man's nature as a good person here:
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And every day while you are training yourself, as you do in the gymnasium, do not say that you are "pursuing philosophy" (indeed an arrogant phrase!), but that you are a slave presenting your emancipator in court;[26] for this is the true freedom. This is the way in which Diogenes was set free by Antisthenes,[27] and afterwards said that he could never be enslaved again by any man. 115How, in consequence, did he behave when he was captured![28] How he treated the pirates! He called none of them master, did he? And I am not referring to the name! it is not the word that I fear, but the emotion, which produces the word. How he censures them because they gave bad food to their captives! How he behaved when he was sold! Did he look for a master? No, but for a slave. And how he behaved toward his master after he had been sold! He began immediately to argue with him, telling him that he ought not to dress that way, or have his hair cut that way, and about his sons, how they ought to live. And what is there strange about that? Why, if he had bought a gymnastic trainer, would he have employed him as a servant, or as a master, in the exercises of the palaestra? And if he had bought a physician, or a master-builder, the same would have been true. And thus in every subject-matter, it is quite unavoidable that the man of skill should be superior to the man without skill. In general, therefore, whoever possesses the science of how to live, how can he help but be the master? For who is master in a ship?—The helmsman.—Why? Because the man who disobeys him is punished.—But my master is able to give me a sound flogging.—He cannot do so with impunity, can he?—So I thought.—But because he cannot do so with impunity, therefore he has no authority to do it; no man can do wrong with impunity.—120And what is the punishment that befalls the man who has put his own slave in chains, when he felt like it?—The putting of him in chains; this is something which you will admit yourself, if you wish to maintain the proposition that man is not a wild beast but a tame animal.[29] For when is a vine faring badly? When it is acting contrary to its own nature. When is a cock faring badly? Under the same conditions. So also man. What, then, is his nature? To bite, and kick, and throw into prison, and behead? No, but to do good, to work together, and to pray for the success of others. Therefore, he is faring badly, whether you will or no, when he acts unfeelingly.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 05:29:14 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #245 on: November 02, 2018, 05:37:06 PM »
"The closer you are to Caesar, the greater the fear." -- Lt. Col. Tall, The Thin Red Line
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #246 on: November 13, 2018, 09:34:48 PM »
Epictetus must have been orating in 98 AD or later, since he says in Book IV, Chp. 5:
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the qualities which make him a human being, the imprints which he brought with him in his mind, such as we look for also upon coins, and, if we find them, we accept the coins, but if we do not find them, we throw the coins away. "Whose imprint does this sestertius bear? Trajan's? Give it to me. Nero's? Throw it out, it will not pass, it is rotten."
Trajan began his rule in 98 AD.

In Chapter 7, he speaks of the Galileans' disregard for the things that a Stoic feels for "his property just as this other person [a mad or desperate man before a tyrant] feels about his body, and so about his children, and his wife," and says that they have the same disregard, but due to habit, not to madness or to the Stoic's reasoning.
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If, then, a man feel also about his property just as this other person feels about his body, and so about his children, and his wife, and if, in brief, he be in such a frame of mind, due to some madness or despair, that he cares not one whit about having, or not having, these things; but, as children playing with potsherds strive with one another about the game, but take no thought about the potsherds themselves, so this man also has reckoned the material things of life as nothing, but is glad to play with them and handle them—what kind of tyrant, or guards, or swords in the hands of guards can any more inspire fear in the breast of such a man?

Therefore, if madness can produce this attitude of mind toward the things which have just been mentioned, and also habit, as with the Galilaeans,[1] cannot reason and demonstration teach a man that God has made all things in the universe, and the whole universe itself, to be free from hindrance, and to contain its end in itself, and the parts of it to serve the needs of the whole?

LOEB edition FOOTNOTE on the "Galileans"
Obviously referring to the Christians, as the Scholiast saw. Cf. also II. 9, 19-21 and note, and Introd. p. xxvi f.
It is interesting to me that this reference to the Christians shows up in one of Epictetus' last chapters of his long work. It's as if his many contemplations lead up to Christianity or the same mindset that he sees Christianity producing by "habit".
If the Christians produce a mindset that matches' the Stoics' disregard for material possessions, then it looks like the Galileans' habits that he refers to is their asceticism (eg. when Jesus says to not worry about losing material things like clothers, since God clothes the birds) or maybe their willingness to risk severe persecution, since he gives as an analogy a madman who faces a tyrant and his punishing guards and is okay with the risk of death.

Chapter 11 deals with cleanliness. Epictetus disdains the practice of Stoics avoiding personal hygiene due to their asceticism. Addressing an audience of those who avoid bathing due to their stoic philosophy, he says:
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It was impossible that some impurity from eating should not remain on the teeth; for that reason nature says, "Wash your teeth." Why? In order that you may be a human being, and not a beast or a pig. It was impossible that something dirty and needing to be cleaned off should not be left on the person from our sweat and the pressure of our clothes; for that reason we have water, oil, hands, a towel, a strigil,[3] nitre, and, on occasion, every other kind of equipment to cleanse the body. Not so you.[4] But the smith will remove the rust from his iron tool, and will have implements made for this purpose, and you yourself will wash your plate when you are going to eat, unless you are utterly unclean and dirty; but will you not wash nor make clean your poor body?—Why? says someone.—Again I will tell you: First, so as to do what befits a man; and second, so as not to offend those whom you meet.

LOEB's FOOTNOTE 4
The excesses, probably Oriental in origin, to which Christian aseetism soon went in regard to despising cleanliness, seem to have begun to manifest themselves already in the early second century among enthusiastic young Stoics and would-be Cynics. It is interesting to see how Epictetus, simple and austere as he was, vigorously maintained the validity of older Greek and Roman feeling in this regard.
Epictetus continues:
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Will you not take a bath somewhere, some time, in any form you please? Will you not wash yourself? If you don't care to bathe in hot water, then use cold. Will you not come to us clean, that your companions may be glad? What, and do you in such a state go with us even into the temples, where it is forbidden by custom to spit or blow the nose, yourself being nothing but a mass of spit and drivel?

This reminded me of Hegessippus' description of St. James' asceticism:
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He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor, nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place: for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people-so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people.
What do you think of Epictetus' discussion on asceticism? Do you think that the early Christians were deliberately unbathed and unwashed, and if so, do you agree with their avoidance of bathing?

In his warning about gossiping about one's own private affairs, Epictetus says:
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there is also the thought that we can safely trust the man who has already entrusted knowledge of his own affairs; for the idea occurs to us that this man would never spread abroad knowledge of our affairs, because he would be careful to guard against our too spreading abroad knowledge of his affairs. 5In this fashion the rash are ensnared by the soldiers in Rome. A soldier, dressed like a civilian, sits down by your side, and begins to speak ill of Caesar, and then you too, just as though you had received from him some guarantee of good faith in the fact that he began the abuse, tell likewise everything you think, and the next thing is—you are led off to prison in chains.
This is an interesting tactic, because it's even used by some governments in the world today. I heard a story about it happening in Syria some years ago- a man on a bus started badmouthing the government loudly, and the person next to him started up in response, and then the latter person got off the bus and was arrested.

As his rhetorical question shows, people can console one another by sharing their troubles with each other:
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For who does not wish to use a good vessel, who despises a friendly and faithful counsellor, who would not gladly accept the man who is ready to share his difficulties, as he would share a burden with him, and to make them light for him by the very fact of his sharing in them?
« Last Edit: November 13, 2018, 09:35:32 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #247 on: November 19, 2018, 04:00:56 PM »
In Loeb's Fragment 1, Epictetus suggests that there is no practical value to knowing whether the universe is made of atoms or of other elements. He says that the maxim "know thyself" means in practice that one should live for the benefit of others, and he asserts that man is made for this purpose. His interlocutor asserts that Nature made him this way and Epictetus then asserts that one need not worry whether Nature exists or what it is made up of:
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From Arrian the pupil of Epictetus. To the man who was bothering himself about the problem of being

What do I care, says Epictetus, whether all existing things are composed of atoms, or of indivisibles, or of fire and earth? Is it not enough to learn the true nature of the good and the evil, and the limits of the desires and aversions, and also of the choices and refusals, and, by employing these as rules, to order the affairs of our life, and dismiss the things that are beyond us? It may very well be that these latter are not to be comprehended by the human mind, and even if one assume that they are perfectly comprehensible, well, what profit comes from comprehending them? And ought we not to say that those men trouble themselves in vain who assign all this as necessary to the philosopher's system of thought? Is, therefore, also the precept at Delphi superfluous, "Know thyself"?—That, indeed, no, the man answers.—What, then, does it mean? If one bade a singer in a chorus to "know himself," would he not heed the order by paying attention both to his fellows in the chorus and to singing in harmony with them?—Yes.—And so in the case of a sailor? or a soldier? Does it seem to you, then, that man has been made a creature to live all alone by himself, or for society?—For society.—By whom?—By Nature.—What Nature is, and how she administers the universe, and whether she really exists or not, these are questions about which there is no need to go on to bother ourselves.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Epictetus,_the_Discourses_as_reported_by_Arrian,_the_Manual,_and_Fragments/Fragments#cite_ref-32

Do you agree with his final assertion?
Fragment 10 has a nice saying:
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Epictetus, moreover, as we have heard from Favorinus, was in the habit of saying that there were two vices which are far more severe and atrocious than all others, want of endurance and want of self-control, when we do not endure or bear the wrongs which we have to bear, or do not abstain from, or forbear, those matters and pleasures which we ought to forbear. "And so," he says, "if a man should take to heart these two words and observe them in controlling and keeping watch over himself, he will, for the most part, be free from wrongdoing, and will live a highly peaceful life." These two words, he used to say, were Ἀνέχου and Ἀπέχου. *

Footnote *
Bear and Forbear

Loeb's Fragment #36 is nice:
"The truth is something immortal and eternal, and does not present us with a beauty that withers from the passage of time, nor a freedom of speech which can be taken away by justice, but it presents us with what is just and lawful, distinguishing the unlawful therefrom, and refuting it."

Elizabeth Carter has her own collection of 169 Fragments. Fragment 18 makes an interesting observation:
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Riches are not among the number of things which are good; prodigality is of the number of those which are evil; modesty of those which are good. Now modesty invites to frugality and the acquisition of things that are good; but riches invite to prodigality and seduce from modesty. It is difficult, therefore, for a rich person to be modest, or a modest person rich.

Fragment 25 proposes an interesting way to deal with hunger:
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Let the first satisfaction of appetite be always the measure to you of eating and drinking; and appetite itself the sauce and the pleasure. Thus you will never take more than is necessary, nor will you want cooks; and you will be contented with whatever drink falls in your way.

Fragment 38 makes an argument against slavery:
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What you avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others. You avoid slavery, for instance; take care not to enslave. For if you can bear to exact slavery from others, you appear to have been yourself a slave. For vice has nothing in common with virtue, nor freedom with slavery. As a person in health would not wish to be attended by the sick, nor to have those who live with him in a state of sickness; so neither would a person who is free bear to be served by slaves, nor to have those who live with him in a state of slavery.

Carter's Fragment 57 says:
"You will commit the fewest faults in judging, if you are faultless in your own life."
But I think this is debateable. First, it's debated how many of these sayings really belong to Epictetus, and this one isn't in Loeb's or the Harvard Classics' collection. Second, it's questionable whether being faultless in one's private life minimizes mistaken judgments. First, a person can still be misled by evidence as to innocence or guilt if they aren't trained well as an investigator, and second, a person with minimal private faults could be more severe in judging the sins of others than is deserved because he hasn't committed such sins himself.

Fragment 66 is a balm against desires for revenge:
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When you are going to attack any one with vehemence and threatening, remember to say first to yourself, that you are constituted gentle, and that by doing nothing violent, you will live without the need of repentance, and irreproachable.

Fragment 79 says something valuable:
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As a skilful manager of horses does not feed the good colts, and suffer the unruly ones to starve; but feeds them both alike, chastising the one more, to make him draw equally with his fellow; so a man of foresight and administrative skill endeavors to do good to the well-disposed citizens, but not at once to destroy those that are otherwise. He by no means denies subsistence to either of them; only he disciplines and urges on, with the greater vehemence, him who resists reason and the laws.

Fragment 104 is a nice story:
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A person once brought clothes to a pirate, who had been cast ashore, and almost killed by the severity of the weather; then carried him to his house, and furnished him with all necessaries. Being reproached by some one for doing good to the evil; “I have paid this regard,” answered he, “not to the man, but to humanity.”

Fragments 105-107 and 110 are good too:
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We ought not to choose every pleasure; but that whose end is good.
It belongs to a wise man to resist pleasure; and to a fool to be enslaved by it.
In all vice, pleasure, being presented like a bait, draws sensual minds to the hook of perdition.

110. The vine bears three clusters; the first of pleasure, the second of intoxication, the third of outrage.

Fragment 122 notes wisely:
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In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; in adversity, nothing is so difficult.

What do you think about Fragment 126:
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Let no wise man estrange himself from the government of the state; for it is both wicked to withdraw from being useful to the needy, and cowardly to give way to the worthless. For it is foolish to choose rather to be governed ill than to govern well.
Some good, wise people have hard spiritual experiences in national, state, or local politics and get disenchanted, burn out, and drop off, with some of them turning to piety and the religious life for emotional and psychological comfort. My Mom's grandfather had a career in sports but felt it was so political that he got disenchanted and turned to becoming a minister.

I take it that Epictetus is criticizing how people's own understanding sometimes rebels against the ideas of Nature in Carter's Fragment 131:
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All things serve and obey the [laws of the] universe; the earth, the sea, the sun, the stars, and the plants and animals of the earth. Our body likewise obeys the same, in being sick and well, young and old, and passing through the other changes decreed. It is therefore reasonable that what depends on ourselves, that is, our own understanding, should not be the only rebel. For the universe is powerful and superior, and consults the best for us by governing us in conjunction with the whole. And further; opposition, besides that it is unreasonable, and produces nothing except a vain struggle, throws us into pain and sorrows.
Here it is in Loeb's Classical Library's Fragment number 3:
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All things obey and serve the Cosmos,[4] both earth, and sea, and sun, and the other stars, and the plants and animals of earth; obedient to it also is our body, both in sickness and in health, when the Cosmos wishes, both in youth and in old age, and when passing through all the other changes. Therefore it is reasonable also that the one thing which is under our control, that is, the decision of our will, should not be the only thing to stand out against it. For the Cosmos is mighty and superior to us, and has taken better counsel for us than we can, by uniting us together with the universe under its governance. Besides, to act against it is to side with unreason, and while accomplishing nothing but a vain struggle, it involves us in pains and sorrows.
How do you interpret, and what do you think of his criticism above? Do you agree with it?

What do you think about Carter's Fragment 22 (under the heading "The following Fragments are ascribed jointly to Epictetus and other authors"):
"If you would lead a life without sorrow, regard things which will happen, as if they had already happened."

Sources:
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Elizabeth Carter's Collection of 169 fragments:
https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/epictetus-the-works-of-epictetus-consisting-of-his-discourses-in-four-books#lf0755_head_108

36 Fragments in: Loeb's collection of 36 fragments (translated by Oldfather)
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Epictetus,_the_Discourses_as_reported_by_Arrian,_the_Manual,_and_Fragments/Fragments

24 Fragments in: Harvard Classics, 1909, https://www.bartleby.com/2/2/190.html
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #248 on: November 24, 2018, 03:12:48 PM »
The Wikipedia article on the Discources makes an interesting observation on Epictetus' three fields of study and how they relate to the three known Stoic focuses in Philosophy:
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Epictetus divides philosophy into three fields of training, with especial application to ethics.[16] The three fields, according to Epictetus, are, (1) desire (ὄρεξις); (2) choice (ὁρμή); (3) assent (συγκατάθεσις):[17]

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    There are three fields of study in which people who are going to be good and excellent must first have been trained. The first has to do with desires and aversions, that they may never fail to get what they desire, nor fall into what they avoid; the second with cases of choice and of refusal, and, in general, with duty, that they may act in an orderly fashion, upon good reasons, and not carelessly; the third with the avoidance of error and rashness in judgement, and, in general, about cases of assent.
    — Discourses, iii. 2. 1

...
Scholars disagree on whether these three fields relate to the traditional Stoic division of philosophy into Logic, Physics, and Ethics.[19] The third field unambiguously refers to logic since it concerns valid reasoning and certainty in judgment. The second field relates to ethics, and the first field, on desires and aversions, appears to be preliminary to ethics.[19] However Pierre Hadot has argued that this first field relates to physics since for the Stoics the study of human nature was part of the wider subject of the nature of things.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourses_of_Epictetus
I think that Pierre Hadot is correct. The Greek "Physia" in Latin is "Natura", and Nature is a major underpinning concept in the Discourses, just as Desire and Aversion is a leading concept focused on throughout and by the work.
That is, the study of (A) Desires and Aversions relates to Physics, (B) Choice and Refusal relates to Ethics, and (C) cases of assent, as well as error & rashness in judgment, relates to Logic.

Section 4 in Epictetus' Manual says:
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4. When you are on the point of putting your hand to some undertaking, remind yourself what the nature of that undertaking is. If you are going out of the house to bathe, put before your mind what happens at a public bath—those who splash you with water, those who jostle against you, those who vilify you and rob you. And thus you will set about your undertaking more securely if at the outset you say to yourself, "I want to take a bath, and, at the same time, to keep my moral purpose in harmony with nature." And so do in every undertaking. For thus, if anything happens to hinder you in your bathing, you will be ready to say, "Oh, well, this was not the only thing that I wanted, but I wanted also to keep my moral purpose in harmony with nature; and I shall not so keep it if I am vexed at what is going on."
It's true that the person can expect the risk of getting robbed at a bath, and that this is the nature of things that happened at the ancient baths, but why is vexation (irritation, worry, annoyance) prevented by the expectation of the risk? Couldn't one remember that one is running the risk and still be vexed if the harmful outcome occurs? I do understand that one's annoyance would be less if one has the expectation.

What do you think about the conclusion that he reaches in Section 5:
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5. It is not the things themselves that disturb men, but their judgements about these things. For example, death is nothing dreadful, or else Socrates too would have thought so, but the judgement that death is dreadful, this is the dreadful thing. When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never blame anyone but ourselves, that means, our own judgements. It is the part of an uneducated person to blame others where he himself fares ill; to blame himself is the part of one whose education has begun; to blame neither another nor his own self is the part of one whose education is already complete.

I like Section 10:
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In the case of everything that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and see what faculty you have to deal with it. If you see a handsome lad or woman, you will find continence the faculty to employ here; if hard labour is laid upon you, you will find endurance; if reviling, you will find patience to bear evil. And if you habituate yourself in this fashion, your external impressions will not run away with you.

What do you think of his proposed attitude to suffering the loss of a cup or of a close relative?:
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26. What the will of nature is may be learned from a consideration of the points in which we do not differ from one another. For example, when some other person's slave-boy breaks his drinking-cup, you are instantly ready to say, "That's one of the things which happen." Rest assured, then, that when your own drinking-cup gets broken, you ought to behave in the same way that you do when the other man's cup is broken. Apply now the same principle to the matters of greater importance. Some other person's child or wife has died; no one but would say, "Such is the fate of man." Yet when a man's own child dies, immediately the cry is, "Alas! Woe is me!" But we ought to remember how we feel when we hear of the same misfortune befalling others.

I think that section 27 needs more explanation:
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27. Just as a mark is not set up in order to be missed, so neither does the nature of evil arise in the universe.

OLDFATHER's FOOTNOTE:
That is, it is inconceivable that the universe should exist in order that some things may go wrong; hence, nothing natural is evil, and nothing that is by nature evil can arise.—Thus in effect Simplicius, and correctly, it seems.
Elizabeth Carter comments: "Happiness, the effect of virtue, is the mark which God hath set up for us to aim at. Our missing it is no work of His; nor so properly anything real, as a mere negative and failure of our own."

Section 40 says something about female psychology and how to treat women.
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Immediately after they are fourteen, women are called "ladies" by men. And so when they see that they have nothing else but only to be the bed-fellows of men, they begin to beautify themselves, and put all their hopes in that. It is worth while for us to take pains, therefore, to make them understand that they are honoured for nothing else but only for appearing modest and self-respecting.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 03:13:48 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #249 on: November 26, 2018, 02:40:32 AM »
14 Books or Volumes of the Sibylline Oracles, translated by Milton Terry (1899), along with 7 fragments found in Lactantius and Theophilus of Antioch and not in the 14 books, can be found here:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/
The above link contains an account by Lactantius, an account by Justin Martyr, an "Anonymous Preface to the Sibylline Oracles", and a Sibylline Acrostic. This work is relevant because some books/volumes in it are Christian in substance and were cited as support for Christianity by early Church fathers.
They
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are a collection of oracular utterances written in Greek hexameters ascribed to the Sibyls, prophetesses who uttered divine revelations in a frenzied state. Fourteen books and eight fragments of Sibylline Oracles survive, in an edition of the 6th or 7th century AD. They are not to be confused with the original Sibylline Books of the ancient Etruscans and Romans which were burned by order of Roman general Flavius Stilicho in the 4th century AD. Instead, the text is an "odd pastiche" of Hellenistic and Roman mythology interspersed with Jewish, Gnostic and early Christian legend. ... One passage has an acrostic, spelling out a Christian code-phrase with the first letters of successive lines.

Books 1-2 may have been written by Christians, though again there may have been a Jewish original that was adapted to Christian purposes. ... The Christian apologist Athenagoras of Athens, writing A Plea for the Christians to Marcus Aurelius in ca. AD 176, quoted the same section of the extant Oracles verbatim, in the midst of a lengthy series of classical and pagan references including Homer and Hesiod, and stated several times that all these works should already be familiar to the Roman Emperor. The sibyls themselves, and the so-called Sibylline oracles, were often referred to by other early Church fathers; Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch (ca. 180), Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200), Lactantius (ca. 305), and Augustine (ca. 400), all knew various versions of the pseudo-Sibylline collections, quoted them or referred to them in paraphrase... [The books] do not appear in the canonical lists of any Church.

..."book 9" consists of material from books 1–8 and "book 10" is identical to "book 4", so that the edition by Collins (1983) contains only books 1–8 and 11–14.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibylline_Oracles

Since it considers the final arrangement of the books to be made by a 6th century Alexandrian editor, one would suppose that the work is from the 6th century AD or earlier. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that Books I,II, VI,VII,VIII, XI, XII, XIII, and XIV are Christian or Christianized, and that VI,VIII,XI,XIV likely date to the 2nd to 4th centuries. For example, it says: "Book VIII offers peculiar difficulties; the first 216 verses are most likely the work of a second century AD Jew, while the latter part (verses 217-500) beginning with an acrostic on the symbolical Christian word Icthus is undoubtedly Christian, and dates most probably from the third century AD." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13770a.htm) But why should the second half of Book VIII be written a century later, other than the suggestion that the first part is from the 2nd century and Jewish, and that the second part is Christian and therefore must be written later?

Josephus in the late 1st century (c. 93 AD) quotes from Book III in narrating the story of the Tower of Babel. Book IV talks about Mount Vesuvius' eruption, which happened in 79 AD, so it could be a late 1st century writing.

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In Book VIII there is a famous acrostic (lines 217ff.): Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour Cross. According to Eusebius (Constant. or. c. 18, Euseb. I, p. 179, GCS 1902) the emperor Constantine quoted this, and Augustine also cites it in a Latin translation (Civ. Dei XVIII c. 23)."
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/sibylline.html

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Book 4, a Jewish document, which has an "appeal to baptism as a way of forestalling eschatological judgment." [Anchor Bible Dictionary Entry] This has relevance for the reaction which may have been received by John the Baptist and the early Christian movement.
http://www.tektonics.org/qt/sibor.php

It's interesting that some Church fathers treated the pagan sibyls as if they were inspired by the Holy Spirit:
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They quoted passages from these oracles to pagans as proof that even their own sacred books prophesied of Christ. The Sibyl's prophecies thus began to be seen by many Christians as having been inspired, at least in part, by the Holy Spirit, and they were later quoted by some early Christian apologists and fathers, including St. Augustine ("City of God," 18.23). Following this ancient tradition, she most famously appears in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel murals beside prophets of the Old Testament.
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/765612802/Christians-saw-ancient-femaleoracles-as-divine.html

Is there a theological problem in suggesting that pagan nonChristians had the Holy Spirit working in them?


The Catholic Encyclopedia proposes this explanation for the Oracles' Christian creation or form:
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Because of the vogue enjoyed by these heathen oracles and because of the influence they had in shaping the religious views of the period, the Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria, during the second century B.C. composed verses in the same form, attributing them to the sibyls, and circulated them among the pagans as a means of diffusing Judaistic doctrines and teaching. This custom was continued down into Christian times, and was borrowed by some Christians so that in the second or third century, a new class of oracles emanating from Christian sources came into being.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13770a.htm

The Early Writings site lists other modern writers' opinions:
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Raymond F. Surburg writes: "Book 1 ...has... an arithmograph which seems to be fulfilled in Theos Soter... Book 3 ... has predictions about the coming judgment on a wicked world, terminating in the coming of the Messiah... [In Book 3] the heathen are exhorted to embrace Judaism... The eighth book has an arithmogram and acrostic: IESOUS CHRISTOS THEOU HUIOS SOTER STAUROS."
 
Leonhard Rost writes: "The individual sections [ie. the books of the Oracle] derive from different periods. The earliest date from the early Maccabean period (e.g., 3:46ff.); the latest date from the Christian Era (e.g., 4:128-29, 143-44, dating from A.D. 76). The Jewish oracles were taken over by the Christian church at an early date, probably because of their Old Testament content, their rejection of idolatry, and their hostility toward Rome." Martin McNamara writes: "The Fourth Book ... can be dated to about A.D. 80: lines 107-8 speak of the restoration of Laodicea after the earthquake (of A.D. 60); 115-118 speak of internal struggles in Jerusalem during the siege (in A.D. 69); 125-6 speak of the destruction of the temple (A.D. 70); 119-24 speak of the disappearance of Nero, the expectation of his return, and the struggles of A.D. 76.

Emil Schürer writes [about Book V]: "Bleek distinguishes the following portions as Jewish:—(a) vers. 260-285, 481-531, written about the middle of the second century before Christ, by an Alexandrian Jew; (b) vers. 286-332 by a Jew of Asia Minor soon after A.D. 20; (c) perhaps also vers. 342-433 by a Jewish author about A.D. 70." ...the chronological oracle at the beginning (vers. 1-51) certainly leads as far as to the time of Hadrian.
(http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/sibylline.html)

The Jewish Virtual Library makes a note about Book III that sounds ironic because the sibyl herself is making a series of foretellings of the future in her Oracles:
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The sibyl's glorification of Israel is centered around three points: monotheism, sexual purity, and social justice: (1) strict Jewish adherence to the One God implies rejection of magic, astrology, and foretelling the future.
https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/sibyl-and-sibylline-oracles
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #250 on: November 30, 2018, 03:54:53 AM »
I think that the Sibyl is probably not found to be in contradiction when it spoke against foretellings, because it looks like the style of foretelling that it forbids is the style of pagan sorcery and astrology:
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For they[the Jews] regard not with anxious thought the course of sun and moon, nor the wonders that are found on earth, nor the depth of ocean's blue-eyed sea, nor the omens of a sneeze and the birds of the augur, nor seers, nor sorcerers, nor charmers, nor ventriloquists' fond deceits; they study not the predictions of Chaldæan astrologers...

SOURCE: Book III

The Sibylline oracles (Χρησμοἱ Σιβυλλιακοι) are written in a Greek form called hexameter. One translator, Milton Terry, set his translation into Pentameter instead of making a literal translation precisely, which Charlesworth seems to try more to do. The pentameter flows nicely in English. It would be nice to hear an audio of how the Sibylline hexameter sounds in Greek.
You can find them in Greek, starting on Page 2 in this book here:
Χρησμοι Σιβυλλιακοι. Oracula Sibyllina, textu ad codices manuscriptos
https://books.google.com/books?id=ij9WAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

A preview of Charlesworth's translation can be found starting on page 317 in his book:
https://books.google.com/books?id=Z8cyt_SM7voC&printsec=frontcover&dq=charlesworth+old+testament+pseudepigrapha&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiTzqGty_LeAhWrj1QKHW6ADTQQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=charlesworth%20old%20testament%20pseudepigrapha&f=false
Charlesworth notes:
"Books 3,4,5 and the fragments were known to Clement of Alexandria at the end of the second century. These, and books 6,7, and 8 were known to Lactantius about AD 300."

Charlesworth also notes the concept of two forms of destruction of the world, by fire and by water, in the Oracles:
"The idea of the conflagration [that destroys the world] is often associated with the Flood, as the two great destructions which punctuate the history of the world. (So especially SibOr 1/2 and 4.)"
It's interesting because Fire and Water are two of the fundamental elements in the Greeks' ancient understanding of Physics.

Justin Martyr
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argues that Plato must have had this Sibyl [the Roman one at Cumae, Italy] in his mind when he described in the Phaedrus (244B) and the Meno (99C) the phenomena of prophetic frenzy or rapture, since the Sibyl did not recollect afterwards what she had said during her unconscious ecstasies. [Note: In the Sibylline oracles, the Sibyl is passive or reluctant under the influence of inspiration. This tallied with some Jewish and Christian conceptions of prophetic inspiration.
https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/s/sibylline-oracles.html
What do you think of this description of prophecying? Is it accurate or Biblical?
Cicero in the first century BC "used the acrostic form of the Sibylline verses to disprove the assertion that the Sibyl spoke in ecstatic frenzy; acrostics, as he observed, are not the product of a frenzied intellect, pouring out impromptu inspiration." (https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/s/sibylline-oracles.html)

The anti-Christian pagan, Celsus, claimed that Christians interpolated ancient sibylline writings with lines of their own (Orig, c. Cels. v. 61).

William Deane writes in "Pseudepigrapha" about Book IV:
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An epilogue [in Book IV] about the condition of men after the judgment was thought to be sufficiently orthodox and in accordance with Christian notions to be transferred bodily to the Apostolical Constitutions, where it will be found in Book v. chap.7. The episode there is indeed somewhat longer than that contained in the MSS. of the Sibyllines, and the editors of the latter have added the verses thus preserved to their editions, judging rightly that there is sufficient authority for the insertion.
https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha/the_sibylline_oracles.htm#1
Is he saying that an epilogue in Book IV was copied in a longer form into the Apostolic Constitutions and that afterwards the editors of Book IV ("the latter"?) inserted this longer form into Book IV, thinking that the Apostolic Constitutions were sufficient authority for the insertion?

Deane says that Book IV of the Sibyl brings together hopes, feelings, and events of that era about the first century like the stories of Nero returning after his death, the bursting of Mount Vesuvius, the Jews' and Christians' hate for Nero, and hopes for a future empire based in the Middle East:
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Plutarch [350] twice alleges a supposed Sibylline oracle on the subject [of the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius], which speaks of the overthrow of Cumae and Dicaearchia, i.e. Puteoli, by fire from the Besbian mountain. And the astonishment with which the news of it was received, and the effect upon men's minds, may be gathered from the accounts which have come down to us. Dio Cassius [351] asserts that the ashes reached even Syria and Egypt. To the Jews, suffering from their late disasters, and prone to look for God's interposition in their behalf, the calamity seemed to be a well-deserved judgment on their conquerors, and a sign of the punishment which was to subdue the enemy, and re-establish their own fallen state.
...
The allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple gives occasion for the earliest notice of the legend concerning Nero, which was at one time so widely prevalent. According to this notion, Nero did not commit suicide on hearing of the proclamation of Galba and the desertion of the army, but escaped secretly to the East, and will return some day, enacting the part of Antichrist, and making havoc of the Church. Mention of impostors who assumed to be Nero is found also among the heathen writers who have treated of this period -- Suetonius, Tacitus, and others. [354] The cruel persecution of the Christians under this emperor led them to look upon him as the type of the great enemy of the gospel whose advent they expected in the last days. Many have fancied that St. Paul referred to Nero in speaking of "that Wicked one" who was to be revealed in time (2 Thess. ii.). Indeed, so intense was the hatred of Nero, entertained alike by Jews and Christians, that no evil was too monstrous to be assigned to him -- the former regarding him as virtually the destroyer of their city and polity, the latter finding in him all the attributes of the great enemy of God and man, whose appearance they were led to expect. The near approach of the final consummation was supposed to be heralded by the eruption of Vesuvius, which was regarded as an instance of Divine vengeance, and was to be followed by the return of "the exile from Rome, who should come from the far Euphrates, wielding his mighty sword, attended by myriads of soldiers." Other signs of the times are the demolition of Salamis and Paphos by an earthquake, which visited Cyprus A.D.71, and which is mentioned by other authors, [355] the destruction of Antioch, and the restitution to Asia of the wealth which Rome had plundered from her. This last event was the subject of a common expectation at that time, seized upon with avidity by the Jews out of their hatred for their conquerors. Zactantius (vii.15) expresses the general feeling or hope when he says: "The Roman name, which now is supreme in all the world, shall be utterly abolished, the empire shall return to Asia, and once again the East shall bear rule."
https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha/

Deane also writes that hardly anything is added to the canonical gospels' story, except
Quote
the story of the fire kindled in Jordan when our Lord was baptized, a legend which is also mentioned by Justin Martyr (Dial.88), and (though under a different tradition) in the Ebionite Gospel. Justin writes: "When Jesus came to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, and descended into the water, both a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and when He came up out of the water the apostles of our Christ recorded that the Holy Spirit as a dove lighted upon Him." The Sibyl, as we saw above, thus alludes to the same event: "When, in the flesh which was given Him, He came forth, having bathed in the stream of the river Jordan, which rolls, sweeping on its waves with grey foot, He, escaping from the fire, first shall see the sweet Spirit of God coming upon Him with the white wings of a dove."
https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha

Deane explains that in Book V:
Quote
The Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar to Hadrian, are indicated by the value of the numbers, which in the Greek the initials of their names afford. Thus, J. Caesar is he whose name shall begin with "twice ten" (K), Augustus he who has the first of letters (A), Tiberius he whose initial is three hundred (T), and so on. Hadrian is not designated by his number; he is called "the man of the silver head, who has the name of a sea."

As for Book VI,
Quote
following the tenets of the Cerinthians and Ebionites, the writer holds that Jesus, a mere man, son of Joseph and Mary, received the Divine nature at His baptism by the descent of the Holy Ghost, who united Him with Christ, the eternal Word of God. He recognises two natures in Jesus Christ, and one Person, and always professes belief in His divinity. His words concerning the Cross have continually been quoted as confirming the doctrine of the Hypostatic union for which the Council of Ephesus contended. "O blessed tree," he says, "on which God was stretched"...

Contrary to the tradition which represented Helena as the finder of the Holy Cross (and therefore supporting the earlier date assigned to this book), the Sibyl says that the earth could not keep the sacred wood, but that, it was transported to a heavenly home, to appear again at the last day, "the sign of the Son of man" (Matt. xxiv.30). The same expectation is found elsewhere, e.g. in the acrostic in Book viii.244, which is rendered --
Insigne et cunctis aderit mirabile visu
Nullo sat cultu fidis venerabile lignum.

https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha/the_sibylline_oracles.htm#1

Book VII describes
Quote
sacred rites (vers.76 ff.) which shall obtain in Messiah's time:
Quote
"Thou shalt offer sacrifice to the great immortal God, not melting with fire the grain of incense, nor slaying with the knife the shaggy lamb; but, in company with all who share thy blood, taking woodland birds, thou shalt pray and let them fly, turning thine eyes to heaven, and thou shalt pour water in libation into the pure fire with these words: O Father, as the Father begat Thee, the Word, I send forth this bird, the swift messenger of my words, with holy water besprinkling Thy baptism through which from the fire Thou didst appear."
[T]he ceremony, consisting in letting a bird fly to convey prayer to heaven... is a remnant of Judaism unknown to any Christian community. The allusion also to the fire in the Jordan at Christ's baptism is evident. https://biblehub.com/library/deane/pseudepigrapha/the_sibylline_oracles.htm#1
The part in bold reminds me of how the Church of Jerusalem releases a dove at Epiphany at the Jordan River, like in this photo below.

I wonder if there is a direct connection in Tradition between this ceremony and the Sibyl's prediction?

M.R. James writes about the Apocalypse of Peter (which I reviewed earlier on OC.net):
Quote
The second book of the Sibylline Oracles contains (in Greek hexameters) a paraphrase of a great part of the Apocalypse: and its influence can be traced in many early writings -the Acts of Thomas (55-57), the Martyrdom of Perpetua, the so-called Second Epistle of Clement, and, as I think, the Shepherd of Hermas: as well as in the Apocalypse of Paul and many later visions.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apocalypsepeter-mrjames.html
He then quotes at length from the Second Book of the Oracles, verses 190-338, as being a paraphrase of Peter's Apocalypse.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #251 on: December 08, 2018, 02:55:15 PM »
Book I appears to describe the foundation of the church of the Christians who follow the New Covenant, then the leading of the church by the apostles, then maybe the killing or suppression of the apostles by governments, then the defeat of the Judean rebels and looting of Judea by Rome's armies, all of which happened in the 1st century:
Quote
Named after him, a new shoot will sprout from the nations, of those who follow the law of the Great One. But also after these things there will be wise leaders, and then there will be thereafter a cessation of prophets. Then when the Henrews reap the bad harvest, a Roman king will ravage much gold and silver.
Charlesworth ascribes the looting by the Romans to what occurred under Vespasian in c. 70 AD. Peter, Paul, and James had been killed earlier, in c.62-63 AD. What other early Christian writings described the "cessation of prophets"?
The best that comes to mind is when, IIRC, St. John Chrysostom or St. Augustine said that in the beginning period of Christianity's spread, miracles and signs were used but that after the Church got founded and strong enough, it switched to emphasizing reason and logic to spread its message.


Book II says "Do not vex thy heart With evils that are past; for what is done Can never be undone."
This is hard because there is trauma that has been done to people and even if one doesn't desire revenge, the trauma can still be hard to deal with. Consider how in Revelation, the martyrs cry out to God for justice. How should a good person address this personal and emotional challenge?

Book II's prediction that God would move the condemned judged wicked to a place of lesser suffering was criticized by a later theologian as Origenist. This prediction goes:
Quote
And to the pious will the almighty God
Imperishable grant another thing,
When they shall ask the imperishable God:
That he will suffer men from raging fire
And endless gnawing anguish to be saved;
And this will he do. For hereafter he
Will pluck them from the restless flame, elsewhere
Remove them, and for his own people's sake
Send them to other and eternal life
With the immortals, in Elysian field,
Where move far-stretching billows of the lake
Of ever-flowing Acheron profound.

Milton Terry's Footnotes:
This passage, which savors of a final restoration from future punishment, has been thought to be contrary to orthodox teaching; and we find appended to some manuscripts the following lines, headed, "Contradiction of the 'To the pious will the Almighty,'" and professedly a disproof of the doctrine of Origen on this subject:

False manifestly; for the penal fire
Shall never cease from those who are condemned.
For also I might pray to have it thus,
Branded with greatest scars of trespasses,
Which need more kindness. But let Origen
Of his presumptuous babble be ashamed,
Saying there shall be end of punishments.

Elysian field.--In Homer (Od., iv, 563) the Elysian fields are represented as situated on the western border of the earth by the ocean stream. Hesiod (Works and Days, 169) speaks of "the Isles of the blessed, beside {footnote p. 52} deep-eddying ocean." But later, and with the Roman poets, Elysium was in the lower world, the blessed part of Hades, and is here conceived as bordering on the Acheronian lake.
The idea of the judged wicked being eventually freed from Hell or forgiven shows up in the 1st-2nd century Apocalypse of Peter, which must have preceded the writing of the Oracles, because this section of Book II is taken from that Apocalypse.
I think that maybe this was a belief already in the time of the apostles (1st century), but I don't know if the apostles taught it or if the Apocalypse of Peter was really by Peter.
See M.R. James' quotation from the Apocalypse and from this section of Book II (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apocalypsepeter-mrjames.html)

In Book III, the Sibyl explains how she gets and makes her prophecies:
Quote
[I say] these things to you, having left the long Babylonian walls of Assyria, frenzied, a fire sent to Greece, prophesing the disclosures of God to all mortals, so that I prophesy divine riddles to men. ... But when everything comes to pass, then you will remember me and no longer will anyone say that I am crazy, I who am a prophetess of the great God. ... God put all of the future in my mind so that I prophesy both future and former things and tell them to mortals. ... all the latter things have been revealed, so let all these things from my mouth be accounted true.
The implication seems to be that God puts ideas in some prophets' heads and this is the origin of their prophecies. They are in a frenzy and have ideas in their heads about the future and the ideas are their prophecies when they speak them.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline WPM

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #252 on: December 08, 2018, 05:28:27 PM »
? Good enough for me.
The first 5 books of the Bible. (Genesis) (Exodus) (Leviticus) (Numbers) and (Deuteronomy.)

Offline rakovsky

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The number of lines in Charlesworth's 2010 translation of the Oracles is significantly shorter than Milton Terry's. For example, Book V in Terry's version has 711 lines, while Charlesworth's has 531 lines. It appears to be that Terry makes a pentameter whereby he moves a subsequent part of a sentence or extended phrase on the next line at times when Charlesworth makes the whole sentence or long phrase as a single line.

Are you familiar with the idea that Christ's cross was taken to heaven in Book 6?:
Quote
O the Wood, O so blessed, upon which
God was outstretched; the earth shall not have thee,
35 But thou shalt look upon a heavenly house,
When thou, O God, shalt flash thine eye of fire.
James Charlesworth writes: "The idea expressed in verse 37, that the cross would be taken up to heaven, was popular in later Christian writings." (citing Rzach-Wissowa 2A, col. 2141.)

In Oracle 7, there are instructions for baptism. It says " But take the head of this man, sprinkle it with water, and pray three times. Cry out to your God as follows:..."
Was the first-second century practice a full body immersion or just a sprinkling of the head with water for baptism, or both? I suppose that based on this passage, both were used.

At the end of Oracle 7 in Charlesworth's translation, the Sibyl predicts that she will be killed because God had her prophesy about the Son (Christ). Milton Terry's translation does not really make sense and is different:
Quote
Men shall beside the margin of the sea
Construct a tomb, and shall slay me with stones;
For lying with my father a dear son
Did I present him. Smite me, smite me all;
For thus shall I live and fix eyes on heaven.

Oracle 8 sees an interesting prophetic figure of Christ in Moses' posture during the Exodus:
Quote
Him Moses typified when he stretched out
Holy arms, conquering Amalek by faith,
That the people might know him to be elect
And honorable before his Father God,
Here is Charlesworth's translation:
Quote
Moses prefigured him, stretching out his holy arms, conquering Amalek by faith so that the people might know that he is elect and previous with God his father, the staff of David and the stone he promised.

Book 8
also sees Christ's wounds, and I think the 4 royal powers that condemned Christ, as representing the world. I remember reading one of the preceding Oracle Books seeing the cross as indicating the world, maybe because of its four points, like the 4 directions.
Book 8 (Milton Terry's translation) says:
Quote
And first then openly unto his own
Shall he as Lord in flesh be visible,
As he before was, and in hands and feet
425 Exhibit four marks fixed in his own limbs,
Denoting east and west and south and north;
For of the world so many royal powers
Shall against our Exemplar consummate
The deed so lawless and condemnable.
I get three of the powers: Pilate, Herod, and the Sanhedrin. Is the fourth power the Jewish people in the courtyard before Pilate?
Charlesworth's translation says: "For so many kingdoms of the world will accomplish the unlawful blameworthy action as our archetype."

About 3/4 into Book 8, the Sibyl switches voices, changing from speaking as herself to speaking as God. Here is an excerpt.
Quote
All these things in my mind God himself showed
And all that have been spoken by my mouth
Will he accomplish; and I know the number
Of the sands and the measures of the sea,
(480) I know the inmost places of the earth
And gloomy Tartarus, I know the numbers
Of the stars, and the trees, and all the tribes
Of quadrupeds, and of the swimming things
And flying birds, and of men who are now
(485) And of those yet to be, and of the dead;
For I myself the forms and mind of men
Did fashion, and right reason did I give
And knowledge taught; I who formed eyes and ears,
Who see and hear and every thought discern,
(490) And who within am conscious of all things,
I am still; and hereafter will convict
[And punishing what any mortal did
In secret, and upon God's judgment seat
Coming and speaking unto mortal men].

M. TERRY'S FOOTNOTE:
At this point the Sibyl assumes to represent God himself as speaking, and continues this strain to line 567, throwing in occasional observations of her own, as if forgetful of the part she holds. Lines 478, 479, and 496, 496, are identical with two lines attributed to the oracle of Delphi by Herodotus, i, 47.

Book 8 might seem to identify or associate the Star of Bethlehem as or with Christ in a non-incarnate form, which is also my guess of the implication of the Christmas narrative. What do you think?:
Quote
And coming late from the virgin Mary's womb
610) A new light rose, and going forth from heaven
Put on a mortal form. First then did Gabriel show
His strong pure form; and bearing his own news
He next addressed the maiden with his voice:
"O virgin, in thy bosom undefiled
615) Receive thou God."
...
The heavenly throne laughed and the world rejoiced.
635) And the prophetic new-appearing star
'Was honored by the wise men, and the babe
Born was shown in a manger unto them
That obeyed God, and keepers of the herds,
And goatherds and to shepherds of the lambs;

It sounds like the ending of Book 8 is against the Old Testament sacrifices of herd animals, which were part of the Day of Atonement in Judaism. But I am not sure, because wasn't the Day of Atonement only performed for the sins of those still living, whereas Book 8 seems to talks about sacrificing animals to cleanse the sins of the dead?:
Quote
650 Not ever are we suffered to approach
The inmost sanctuary of the temples,
Nor pour libations to carved images,
Nor honor them with prayers, nor with the smells
Much-pleasing of flowers, nor with light of lamps,
655) Nor yet with shining votive offerings
Adorn them, nor with smoke of frankincense
That sends forth flame of altars; nor do thou,
Adding unto the sacrifice of bulls
And taking pleasure in defilement send
660) Blood of sheep-slaughtering outrage, thus to give
Ransom for penalty beneath the earth;
Nor by the smoke of flesh-consuming pyre
And odors foul pollute the light of heaven;
But joyful with pure minds and cheerful soul,
665) With love abounding and with generous hands,
With soothing psalms and songs that honor God,
We are commanded to sing praise to thee,
The imperishable and without deceit,
All-father God, of understanding mind,

It also seems to take the view that part of the Mosaic laws are "dissolved", interpreting them as teachings of men:
Quote
But when all these things of which I have spoken are fulfilled, then for him every law will be dissolved which from the beginning was given in teachings to men, on account of a disobedient people.
This reminds me of Matthew 15:9: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Christ in turn was Himself referencing Isaiah 29:13: "Therefore the Lord said: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men.'"
It also brings to mind Colossians 2:
Quote
20 If you have died with Christ to the spiritual forces of the world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its regulations:  …21“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”? 22These will all perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such restrictions indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-prescribed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body; but they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.…

Book 8 also has the idea of Christ preaching to the dead during His time in the tomb:
"He will come to Hades announcing hope for all the holy ones, the end of ages and last day, and he will complete the fate of death when he has slept the third day."

Book XII seems to present the Star of Bethlehem (below) as if it were like the sun and shining in mid-day. Does that sound right? I imagined it to be like a slow, steady large comet.
Quote
But when a radiant star all like the sun
40 Shall shine forth out of heaven in the mid days,
Then shall the secret Word of the Most High
Come clothed in flesh like mortals; but with him
The might of Rome and of the illustrious Latins
Shall increase.

Book 12 suggests that Vespasian would destroy Phoenicia, but I haven't found any record of this, only that he suppressed the Jewish revolt in "Solyma" (Jerusalem) and destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem.
Quote
He will destroy Phoenicia and bring Syria to destruction. A sword will also come upon the land of Solyma... Alas, Phoenicia, how much you will endure, one of great sorrows. You will be bound with cords and every nation will trample you.
I guess that the author is using Phoenicia as a way to refer to Judea.

Charlesworth writes about Oracle Number 13 that it describes 3rd century AD events and figures like Odenath of Palmyra and that "there are also a number of parallels to the Apocalypse of Elijah." The Apocalypse of Elijah is commonly dated by scholars to the 3rd to 4th century, but some consider it to be based on a 1st to 2nd century Jewish nonChristian document.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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I believe that "Secret Mark", as well as Clement of Alexandria's alleged Letter about it, are modern forgeries, planted by Morton Smith, a late professor of ancient history at Columbia University. However, some well-known, respected scholars like Helmut Koester have considered it genuine. M. Smith
Quote
is best known for his reported discovery of the Mar Saba letter, a letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria containing excerpts from a Secret Gospel of Mark, during a visit to the monastery at Mar Saba in 1958. ...Smith reported he found the manuscript in the Mar Saba monastery in 1958, photographed it carefully, and then left the book where he found it. He first publiczed the discovery in 1960...

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

M. Smith and Page 2 of the manuscript.

Here is a translation of Clement's alleged letter into English: https://web.archive.org/web/20071009101234/https://www.gospels.net/translations/secretmarktranslation.html

According to Wikipedia:
Quote
The Secret Gospel of Mark... is a putative longer and secret or mystic version of the Gospel of Mark. The gospel is mentioned exclusively in the Mar Saba letter, a document of disputed authenticity, which is said to be written by the Alexandrian Church Father Clement (c. 150–215 C.E.). This letter, in turn, is preserved only in photographs of a Greek handwritten copy seemingly transcribed in the eighteenth century into the endpapers of a seventeenth-century printed edition of the works of Ignatius of Antioch.[ b]
The Secret Gospel of Mark is described as a second “more spiritual” version of the Gospel of Mark composed by the evangelist himself...The purpose of the gospel was supposedly to encourage knowledge (gnosis) among more advanced Christians, and it is said to be in use in liturgies in Alexandria.

Footnote [ b]
Isaac Vossius’ first edition of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch published in Amsterdam in 1646.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark

The two alleged passages in Secret Mark that Clement's alleged letter cites are (1) between Mark 10:34 and 35; ("And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. (etc.) And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.") And (2)  Mark 10:46, after the words, ‘And he comes into Jericho’ and before “and as he went out of Jericho”. ("And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them."
If one were to harmonize the gospels chronologically, Secret Mark's Passage #1 on the youth's raising would fit where Lazarus' raising is told (John 11), and Passage #2 on Jesus not welcoming the women would fit where Jesus calls Zaccheus (Luke 19).

I guess the point of the forger's Jesus' supposed avoidance of the women in Jericho is that Jesus was anti-woman. Otherwise, it's hard for me to see what is the author's point of the mention of the women in Jericho (ie. either for Smith or for Mark). Roger Viklund suggested to me that other passages in Secret Mark that Clement didn't quote could supply the answer. But even in that case, it's not clear why in Passage #2 in particular the writer would claim that Jesus didn't welcome the women.

Instead, it looks like the potentially "missing" part in Mark 10 about Jesus' story of Jericho is the story of Zaccheus. Here is how the Diatessaron inserts the Zacchaeus story from Luke 19:
Quote
    And when Jesus entered and passed through Jericho, there was a man named Zacchaeus, rich, and chief of the publicans. And he desired to see Jesus who he was; and he was not able for the pressure of the crowd, because Zacchaeus was little of stature. Arabic, And he hastened, and went before Jesus, and went up into an unripe fig tree to see Jesus: for he was to pass thus. And when Jesus came to that place, he saw him, and said unto him, Make haste, and come down, Zacchaeus: to-day I must be in thy house. And he hastened, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they all saw, they murmured, and said, He hath gone in and lodged with a man that is a sinner. So Zacchaeus stood, and said unto Jesus, My Lord, now half of my possessions I give to the poor, and what I have unjustly taken from every man I give him fourfold. Jesus said unto him, To-day is salva- tion come to this house, because this man also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and save the thing that was lost. And when Jesus went out of Jericho, he and his disciples, there came after him a great multitude. And there was a blind man sitting by the way side begging.
This looks like a much more fitting story than Secret Mark's insertion about Jesus not welcoming women.

Smith's theory was
Quote
that the two quotations go back to an original Aramaic version of Mark, which served as a source for both the canonical Mark and the Gospel of John. ... [Instead,] Quentin Quesnell... suggested that it might be a modern hoax. He said that the publication of Otto Stählin's concordance of Clement in 1936 would make it possible to imitate Clement's style...
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark)

I think Charles E. Murgia made an interesting point, saying that the lack of scribal errors suggested that the copy of the "Letter" that Morton exhibited was actually an original document, because a document copied many times in history would have the errors.

Some scholars connect Secret Mark to the story in the NT of the young man in the linen cloth:
Quote
In Mark 14:51–52, a young man (Greek: νεανίσκος, neaniskos) in a linen cloth (Greek: σινδόνα, sindona) is seized during Jesus’ arrest, but he escapes at the cost of his clothing. This passage seems to have little to do with the rest of the narrative, and it has given cause to various interpretations. Sometimes it is suggested that the young man is Mark himself.[287][288][aa] However, the same Greek words (neaniskos and sindona) are also used in Secret Mark. Several scholars, such as Robert Grant and Robert Gundry, suggest that Secret Mark was created based on Mark 14:51, 16:5 and other passages and that this would explain the similarities.[ab] Other scholars, such as Helmut Koester[143] and J. D. Crossan,[293] argue that the canonical Mark is a revision of Secret Mark, where either an ancient editor could have deleted an earlier encounter of Jesus with such a young man in a cloth, then added this incident also involving a young man during Jesus’ arrest,[34] or Secret Mark told other coherent stories, including that of a young man. And although some of it was removed (by the original author or by someone else) in the making of canonical Mark, some remnants, such as that of the fleeing naked young man, were left.
   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark#cite_ref-Smith_1955_261-1
The theory seems to propose that the current Mark is incoherent and that it is missing the intended stories about the youth in the cloth that would explain it. But I think that Mark is meant to be sometimes deliberately obtuse, with the youth maybe being the angel.

Some see a relation between the Secret Mark story that would be in Mark 10 and the raising of Lazarus in John 11.
Quote
The resurrection of the young man by Jesus in Secret Mark bears such clear similarities to the raising of Lazarus in the Gospel of John (11:1–44) that it can be seen as another version.[313] But although there are striking parallels between these two stories,[36] there are also “numerous, often pointless, contradictions.”[314] If the two verses in Mark preceding Secret Mark are included, both stories tell us that the disciples are apprehensive as they fear Jesus’ arrest. In each story it is the sister whose brother just died who approaches Jesus on the road and asks his help; she shows Jesus the tomb, which is in Bethany; the stone is removed and Jesus raises the man from the dead, who then comes out of the tomb.[315] In each story, the emphasis is upon the love between Jesus and this man,[23] and eventually, Jesus follows him to his home.[36] Each story occurs “at the same period in Jesus’ career”, as he has left Galilee and gone into Judea and then to Transjordan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark
For the underlined part, compare Mark 10:33-34 (ie. the part right before Secret Mark) with John 10-11:
Quote
Mark 10:
33. Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34. And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

John 10
23. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. 24. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
...
31. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? ...
...
39. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 40. And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
To me this doesn't look really like the same timing: In Mark, Jesus is going to Jerusalem where he warns he will be killed, whereas in John 10-11, Jesus is at Jerusalem and he escapes the threats there of being killed. So I don't see the parallelism in the two canonical passages that the author does, although I do see how Secret Mark's made-up story about raising the youth could have been a reworked version of the raising of Lazarus.

It's interesting that "numerous scholars believe that it is likely a forgery, even Smith's professor (Arthur Darby Nock), and [at least one of] his students (Jacob Neusner, who called it "the forgery of the century")".(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Secret_Gospel_of_Mark)

Pierluigi Piovanelli touches on one of the strongest and most interesting argument against Secret Mark's authenticity as the "real", "spiritual", or "original" version of canonical Mark when he calls it: “the wrong document, at the wrong place, discovered by the wrong person, who was, moreover, in need of exactly that kind of new evidence to promote new, unconventional ideas”." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark)

The series of unlikelihoods required for "Secret Mark" to be authentic include:
(A) An alleged early Christian ritual practice - private gnostic-style instruction involving possibly disrobing and in my reading of the passage, homosexual activity - that was unknown or very rarely known until M. Smith's 20th c. discovery, was related in
(B) a gospel version (Secret Mark) that was unknown or very rarely known until the 20th c. discovery; the gospel version being related in
(C) a Second century Letter by a self-identified Clement of Alexandria (a "Pseudo-Clement" being also known in Church literature), unknown to the public until M. Smith's 20th century discovery, addressed to
(D) "Theodore" a Second century Christian leader (since he was able to take measures against the heretical version of "Secret Mark"), whose identity is unknown today; the letter being preserved
(E) in a flawless 18th century copy, which was unknown until Smith's 20th c. discovery, and which had been made in
(F) the back of a 17th century book of Ignatius' epistles, a book missing from lists of Mar Saba's books catalogued before the mid-20th c. discovery the book, first catalogued by
(G) Morton Smith, a professor whose research had already linked topics also found in the Letter, eg. "the Kingdom of God", Mark's gospel, secretive early Christian rituals, and Clement of Alexandria. (Smith's articles being titled: "Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels", "Comments on Taylor's Commentary on Mark", "The Image of God: Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism, with Especial Reference to Goodenough's Work on Jewish Symbols"). Ben Smith notes that Stephen Carlson
Quote
finds a paragraph in Morton Smith himself, Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, pages 155-156, connecting the mystery of the kingdom in Mark 4.11 with secret teachings on forbidden sexual relationships. ...In the spring of 1958, Smith, who rarely wrote about Clement of Alexandria before, published a piece linking Clement’s notion of secrecy to T. Hag. 2.1[on forbidden sexual relations]... In his lengthy 1955 review of Vincent Taylor’s commentary on Mark, Smith suggested the existence of a common source behind Mark and John. Three years later, Smith would possess a new text with a form critically primitive version of the raising of Lazarus that lends support to Smith’s prior suggestion. (http://www.textexcavation.com/secretmark.html)
M. Smith went on to write the book "Jesus the Magician", which like the seeming secretive sexual practices in Secret Mark, would tend to be unsettling or embarrassing for traditional modern-day Christians. The description for Smith's book "Jesus the Magician" on Google says:
"This book challenges traditional Christian teaching about Jesus. While his followers may have seen him as a man from heaven, preaching the good news and working miracles, Smith asserts that the truth about Jesus is more interesting and rather unsettling." (https://books.google.com/books?id=_XxaBQAAQBAJ&dq=%22morton+smith%22+homosexual+OR+homosexuality+magician&source=gbs_navlinks_s)

One of the most interesting aspects for me about the text and the story of its discovery are the coincidences below that they share with earlier literature. One might explain the coincidences by proposing that the literature served as inspiration for a forgery by Morton or by someone associated with him.
(A) In ''The Mystery of Mar Saba'' by James H. Hunter (1940), a British detective, "Moreton", opposes the efforts of Nazis to plant a fake document at Mar Saba monastery that would undermine Christianity, whereas in real life, ''Morton'' Smith later claimed to have discovered the Mar Saba letter that in the view of many readers would tend to be unsettling for its description of alleged homosexual occult early Christian rituals, and Morton Smith did go on to write the book ''Jesus the Magician'' that would reference the Letter briefly and also tend to undermine traditional Christian views.
(B) The Letter that M. Smith presented had been written into a copy of Isaac Vossius’ 1646 printed edition of Ignatius of Antioch's letters, which Bruce Chilton noted is itself relevant to the issue of forgery. Chilton may have referred to how there is a forged, Arian version of Ignatius' letters. As Ben Smith noted, Stephen Carlson "echoes Bart Ehrman in finding irony in the fact that the Clementine letter was found at the end of a 1646 edition of the genuine epistles of Ignatius by Isaac Voss, a text intended to weed out forged members of the Ignatian corpus."(http://www.textexcavation.com/secretmark.html)
(C) In 1936, Otto Stahlin published a compendium of Clement of Alexandria's vocabulary and phrases, making it more practical for a later forger to draft documents and misatribute them to Clement of Alexandria. As Ben Smith observes, Morton Smith had a copy with his own marginal notes.(http://www.textexcavation.com/secretmark.html)
(D) Angus Wilson's 1956 novel ''Anglo-Saxon Attitudes'' narrates the false discovery of a phallic fertility symbol in the grave of the seventh-century bishop Eorpwald, a disciple of the English Archbishop Theodore. In the novel, an archeologist planted the symbol to discredit the site's excavator and other scholars. According to Philip Jenkins, ''“much of the book depicts English gay subculture... By faking the discovery, [the archeologist] was subverting the heroic image that the modern-day church has of its founders... To a large degree, he succeeded, as scholars so uniformly accepted these bizarre claims and integrated them into their understanding of medieval faith.”'' (https://www.apocryphicity.ca/2014/04/19/philip-jenkins-new-source/). If M. Smith forged the Mar Saba Letter a few years after the novel was published, it could explain the source of the bishop "Theodore" in the letter. Tony Burke notes that "Jenkins sees a number of parallels between Wilson’s novel and Smith’s discovery: a forgery planted in an early Christian site, the association with the name Theodore, underground controversial clandestine practices, and accusations of sorcery (against Eorpwald in the novel, and against Jesus in Smith’s monograph Jesus the Magician)"(https://www.apocryphicity.ca/2014/04/19/philip-jenkins-new-source/), although Burke thinks that the coincides are unrelated to M. Smith's discovery.
(E) According to Andrew Criddle, in ''The Codex'' (published 1954 in a journal and separately in 1955), the scholar C.H. Roberts suggested that a very early manuscript of Mark played a central role in the beginning of Egyptian Christianity. A few years later in 1958, M. Smith made his alleged discovery of the Mar Saba Letter, which described Egyptian Christians as using "Secret Mark". Decades later in ''The Birth of the Codex'' (1983), Roberts largely retracted his theory of the early manuscript of Mark. But I don't think Roberts theorized that Mark had an earlier, quite different version of his gospel.

More direct potential sources, references, or parallels to the content in Secret Mark include:
(A) The canonical gospels' stories of Lazarus' raising, the rich young man, the shrouded youth in Gethsemane and at the tomb, and the Beloved Disciple; it is located in Mark 10:34-35 & Mk 10:46-47 where, chronologically, the stories of Lazarus' raising (Jn 11) and Zaccheus' calling (Luke 19) would have occurred. I understand that there is mystery with the stories of the shrouded youth and the Beloved Disciple, but I don't find them necessarily and unintentionally "incoherent" like the Wikipedia entry suggests. I think that gospel authors sometimes left elements of their story deliberately mysterious or unclear, like the story of the water carriers at Jerusalem's gates. So I don't find the seeming mystery in the canonical account as necessarily an indication of a secret version of Mark's gospel that cleared up those issues. John the evangelist is apparently the Beloved Disciple according to John 21. The robed youth in tomb whom the women see in Mark 16 certainly isn't the Beloved Disciple whom those women tell about the tomb angels in John 20. But the robed youth at the tomb appears to be the angel that the women meet in Matthew 28, and thus probably one of the tomb angels in Luke 26 and John 20. Based on the resemblance between the story of the tomb angel and the youth, I guess that they are the same person as the angel in Gethsemane and the youth who loses his robe there.
(B) Stephen Huller proposed that Irenaeus (late 2nd c.) wrote of Secret Mark because of similarities between Secret Mark and things mentioned by Irenaeus. (http://stephanhuller.blogspot.com/2009/11/day-of-recompense-as-fulfillment-of.html)(Irenaeus on the Carpocratians' use of Mark 10:35: http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=66540#p66540) In his own book, Peter Jeffrey takes Irenaeus to mean that the Carpocratians had an alleged secret copy of Jesus' teachings, but Jeffrey(who rejects Secret Mark's authenticity) says: <<What no one in the twentieth century would have expected is the information that Clement’s church, too, had an alternate gospel, with additional material believed to be by the same Mark who wrote the original gospel.>>(p. 38)
(C) Morton Smith had written a 1949 article on Protestant and Catholic debates on whether Clement of Alexandria endorsed selective lying, and this relates to the Mar Saba letter's instructions to dishonestly (according to the Letter) deny Secret Mark's authenticity to gnostics.
(D) In The Clementine Recognitions and Homilies, Clement grabs Barnabas' hand, takes him to Clement's house, and Barnabas instructs him for days before leaving for Judea. There are some common elements with "Secret Mark" (http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4187&p=95227#p95227). The author or forger of Secret Mark could have used this story in creating his passage for Mark 10.
(E) Nonnus of Panopolis (late 4th-5th c.) may have construed the Staphylus/Botrys episode based on something like Secret Mark, according to K. Spanoudakis, as Roger Viklund mentioned in the Wikipedia article's talk section.
(F) Y. Kuchinsky suggested that 2 fourteenth-century sources by Abu-'l-Barakat and a tenth-century writing by Macarius show knowledge of Secret Mark, as R. Viklund mentioned also.
(G) Kuchinsky claims the Middle English (1150-1470) Magdalene Gospel resembles Secret Mark: https://web.archive.org/web/20071217185513/http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/bbl/secmk.htm Ben Smith notes:
Quote
The canonical version of John 11.3 [the story of Lazarus' raising] has nothing about mercy; in the secret gospel, however, the sister of the dead youth says: Υιε Δαβιδ, ελεησον με (son of David, have mercy on me). The Magdalene gospel (Pepys 2498, often called the Pepysian harmony) also has an appeal for mercy: ...wepeande and cryeande hym mercy. [T]he line is a straight copy of Mark 10.47-48 (and, if Smith was the forger, that is where he would have found the line) ...Both the Magdalene gospel and the secret gospel of Mark heighten the relationship between the deceased and Jesus, as compared with the canonical account in John 11.1-44. But this kind of parallel is gossamer. One of the intertextual connections either fabricated or exploited in the secret gospel of Mark is the link between the rich man (whom Jesus loved) in Mark 10.17-22 and Lazarus (whom Jesus loved) in John 11.1-44. The love of Jesus for these two men is almost certainly one of the main things that guided the course of this pericope in the first place. It is only natural that the secret gospel should have something to say about the love between the youth and Jesus. (http://www.textexcavation.com/kuchinskybrownsecmk.html)
I think that Morton Smith could have had an interest in peripheral renderings of stories like Lazarus' raising in the Magdalene gospel and could have used them to construct Secret Mark.
(H) Shem Tov's version of Matthew (c.1385) has places that resemble passages from Secret Mark, as R. Viklund has mentioned.(https://rogerviklund.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/a-fourteenth-century-text-in-which-jesus-taught-the-kingdom-of-god-during-the-night-at-bethany-does-it-demonstrate-that-secret-mark-is-an-ancient-text-and-not-a-modern-forgery)
(I) Whereas the typical early Christian model for initiation seemed to be a catechumenate period, followed by water baptism, "Secret Mark" seems to present a motif where the young man is raised from the dead out of a tomb and then learns secret mysteries from Jesus. This motif reminds me of Freemasonry's ritual initiation, where the initiate is "raised a mason" out of a coffin and then given secret teachings. (See eg.: Death, Burial and Resurrection in the Masonic Lodge, http://www.emfj.org/dbr.htm)
(J) Peter <<Jeffery also detects slips, or deliberate insertions, that imply modern authorship. In his view the three features of Secret Mark's initiation rite--resurrection symbolism, a period of teaching followed by a night vigil, and the wearing of a white cloth--reflect the Anglican Paschal liturgy prior to the liturgical renewal movement of the 1960s.>>(http://dyneslines.blogspot.com/2008/01/agony-of-morton-smith.html)
(K) Peter <<Jeffery finds that Clement's letter is riddled with allusions to Oscar Wilde's nineteenth-century play, Salome. In the play Salome does the "dance of the seven veils," which is echoed by Smith's Clement, who evokes "the truth hidden by seven veils.”>>(http://dyneslines.blogspot.com/2008/01/agony-of-morton-smith.html)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 07:45:28 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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This part from the alleged letter of Clement to "Theodore" sounds so ridiculous a statement for him to make that it makes the document look more like a forgery to me: " Also, one must not concede to them [The Carpocratian sect members] that the secret gospel is from Mark, when they put forth their lies. Rather one must deny it, even with an oath. For one does not have to speak the whole truth to everyone." Even if Clement didn't want the sect members to have the "secret" version, I don't think he would put in a letter that one should deny the book's existence under oath.

I find it relevant to Clement's alleged instruction on lying how in The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled Peter Jeffrey, a critic of the letter's authenticity
Quote
notes Smith's brief career as an Anglican priest, citing his harsh judgments on homosexuals in a 1949 article, quite severe by Anglican standards at the time. It would seem that Smith was going through his own sexual crisis, a crisis that caused him to leave the priesthood a year later. Interestingly, in the same 1949 article, Smith alluded to a nineteenth-century debate between Catholics and Protestants over whether Clement of Alexandria believed that lying was justified if it served the causes of the church.
http://dyneslines.blogspot.com/2008/01/agony-of-morton-smith.html

In his book, Jeffrey suggested that Smith forged the letter to create the idea that Jesus performed homosexuality, and he reads "Secret Mark" as an extended double entendre that tells “a tale of ‘sexual preference’ that could only have been told by a twentieth-century Western author” who inhabited “a homoerotic subculture in English universities”.

Jeffrey quotes in his book what sounds like admissions by Morton Smith:
Quote
"The whole story spans more than thirty years, from 1941 to the present. I am shocked to find how much of it I have already forgotten. No doubt if the past, like a motion picture, could be replayed, I should also be shocked to find how much of the story I have already invented. Memory is perhaps more fallacious than forgetfulness." ~ Morton Smith
...
In the context of so many questions, Smith’s playful bantering that ‘‘I soon made my supposed scholarly labors an excuse for spending most of my time in my cell’’ takes on an ominous demeanor: ‘‘supposed’’? Was Smith engaged in something that wouldn’t usually be considered ‘‘scholarly labors’’?
https://the-eye.eu/public/concen.org/Frauds%2C%20Forgeries%20and%20Hoaxes%20in%20Christianity/5-%20Jeffery%20-%20The%20Secret%20Gospel%20of%20Mark%20Unveiled.pdf
As Jeffrey notes, Canonical Mark, as it now stands has two stories about robed youths, at Gethsemane and the tomb, and some scholars have proposed that the stories as they stand now are incoherent (eg. it raises the question of who the youth was) and that therefore canonical Mark is a shorter version of a longer, coherent Secret Mark with the secret parts edited out. But such a suggestion tends to contradict the idea in the Mar Saba letter that Mark first wrote his own gospel and then expanded it into his longer "Secret Mark". Jeffrey writes:
Quote
That would mean that Clement was wrong. Mark did not write the canonical gospel first, and then add further material to it at a second stage. The Secret Gospel with its extra material existed first, but some subsequent editor shortened it to produce the canonical gospel we know. ... Some [proponents of Secret Mark] believe that canonical Mark was the earlier text, and that Secret Mark was produced later, by adding material to create ‘‘an amplification of the canonical Gospel.’’ Others have thought that the Secret Gospel, with the extra material quoted by Clement, was compiled first, then shortened to produce canonical Mark by removing the material Clement quoted. ... Actually, Smith’s theory as a whole was even more complicated than this, as he himself pointed out in a footnote: ‘‘Canonical Mark seemed to have been cut down from a longer text; Clement’s secret gospel shows some signs of censorship; in sum, there seem to have been many minor alterations and we can grasp securely only the main outlines.’’
Jeffrey writes:
Quote
Erhman’s category of ‘‘things that are hard to explain’’ includes three questions: First, ‘‘Why does this letter contradict in content what Clement says elsewhere?’’ Though Clement wrote of ‘‘gnosis’’ or spiritual knowledge, this was never ‘‘a matter of hidden texts with arcane instruction,’’ but of ‘‘deeper understanding of readily available texts.’’ Nor would Clement have advocated lying or swearing false oaths.>> There are amusing aspects like: <<the ‘‘brilliant irony’’ that the letter was inserted into an early modern edition of a highly interpolated ancient author, St. Ignatius of Antioch, facing a page on which the editor inveighed against ‘‘theologically motivated scribes’’ who falsify ancient texts.

Jeffrey also points out the unlikelihood of Clement, as in the Mar Saba letter, supposedly promoting a deeper stage of education into mysteries after baptism:
Quote
The two-stage initiation is enough by itself to raise questions about what kind of Christianity the Mar Saba text represents. Clement, in fact, criticized the Valentinians for teaching that, after baptism, the believer needed to undergo a second stage of being perfected. Small wonder, then, that we have been unable to solve the Mar Saba riddle by investigating only two of the five strands of tradition: the relationship between canonical Mark and the ‘‘more spiritual’’ gospel.

Robert Price relates his conversation with Morton Smith on Secret Mark:
Quote
In 1985 I asked Morton Smith how he responded to charges of forgery, recently renewed in Per Beskow's excellent book Strange Tales About Jesus: a Survey of Unfamiliar Gospels (Fortress, 1983). He told me the now-familiar story of the custodians of the manuscript secreting it away out of embarrassment at the notoriety Smith's book The Secret Gospel had brought them, henceforth wanting to suppress the evidence. He asked, furthermore, what business Beskow had in condemning all the more recent New Age gospels as spurious: if they embodied someone's faith, weren't they authentic gospels, no matter who wrote them or when? Later I wondered if his words did not apply equally, even especially, to his own Secret Mark!
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_secret.htm
That is, Price followed M. Smith's logic and took M. Smith as inferring that just as the modern forged New Age documents were authentic because they embodied their followers' beliefs, the same could be said about the "Secret Mark" that Morton exhibited. That is, M.Smith viewed Secret Mark as a modern forgery that was authentic because it reflected the modern forger's beliefs.

Ben Smith, on his Text Excavation website, makes an interesting note about Stephen Carlson's criticisms of the Mar Saba Letter:
Quote
Carlson follows these observations up with a search for how Morton Smith himself describes his finding of the Voss book at Mar Saba. Surprisingly, Carlson finds that Smith nowhere asserts or even really implies that the manuscript was present in the monastery library before he himself got there. His statements on the issue, while not exactly evasive, are not exactly as forthright as his statements about other manuscripts in the library.
This evidence again is only support for the main thrust of the argument, but again I find it rather suggestive. The best way to counter Carlson on this point would be to dig up a paragraph in which Smith unambiguously describes his actual finding of the manuscript at Mar Saba (as opposed to, for example, his finding of himself reading the manuscript at Mar Saba).
http://www.textexcavation.com/secretmark.html#marsabaman

Ben Smith also notes the "coincidence" that the letter is broken off at the moment where the letter loses value for a modern scholar interested in Secret Mark:
Quote
The extant ending ["The true exegesis, therefore, and that which is according to the true philosophy...."] is a sign to the modern critic that we have either all that there was or all that the author cared to share of the text in question. The author is finished with the direct quotes, and has now moved on to interpretation. But modern scholars routinely ignore patristic interpretations of their source texts, preferring to reconstruct each source for themselves and study it without patristic interference. And that is just what the Mar Saba text allows us to do. We have had the doubly good fortune of (A) having Clement quote the Marcan excerpts so exactly as to preserve both their Marcan character and their exact Marcan position and (B) having only the Clementine interpretations, not the Clementine efforts at text preservation, cut off by the ravages of time and circumstance. (http://www.textexcavation.com/secretmark.html)

Ben Smith writes that Yuri Kuchinsky found
Quote
a pair of Coptic texts in which Jesus is said to have baptized his apostles just before passion week. Kuchinsky finds in this tradition evidence that the Coptic tradition knew of the secret gospel of Mark, in which Jesus allegedly baptizes one of his followers after raising him from the dead. ... The two Coptic sources are Abu-'l-Barakat, century XIV, and Macarius, century X. The former writes of the week that precedes Palm Sunday: "It is said that the baptism of the apostles took place then." Macarius, some four centuries earlier, had already written concerning the Friday of the same week: "It has been told that this is the day on which the Lord Christ baptized his disciples."
http://www.textexcavation.com/kuchinskybrownsecmk.html
Kuchinsky notes that both Secret Mark and the 2 Coptic sources are from Egypt, and that Jesus' activity initiating his follower was before Passion Week. Ben Smith however replies that unlike the Coptic texts, the Secret Mark passages are not about baptism.
Ben Smith makes a good point:
Quote
Mark himself could not have thought that Jesus baptized the youth, since in Mark 1.7-8 he affirms that John the baptist baptizes with water, but the coming one will baptize with the holy spirit.
Furthermore, in Mark 14.51-52 the youth reappears in the narrative, again dressed in a linen shroud. If the shroud over his naked body were his badge of baptism in Mark 10, why is he still dressed for baptism in Mark 14? It cannot be that the first baptism was for the new believer while the second was for a further ritual initiation,
since then we would be facing the anomaly that the public version of the gospel has only the (attempted) second, or private, baptism while it is only the private version, the secret gospel, that has the first, or public, baptism.
Nor would Clement of Alexandria have thought that Jesus baptized the youth, since John Moschus wrote in the Spiritual Meadow:
Quote
Yes, they were truly baptized, just as Clement the stromatist in the fifth volume of the Hypotyposeis mentions. For he says, explaining the apostolic statement that says: I give thanks that I have baptized none of you, that Christ is said to have baptized Peter only, but Peter [in turn] Andrew, Andrew [in turn] James and John, and they the rest.
Spiritual Meadow 5.176 (volume 3 of Otto Stählin, 196.21, fragment 6 of the Hypotyposeis)

Ben Smith considered whether the reference to six days in Secret Mark ("And after six days Jesus ordered him. And when it was evening the young man comes to him dressed in a shroud") could be related to a Coptic practice of baptism on the sixth day of the week. Where did Ben hear that Copts baptise on Saturday? Earlier in his essay, Ben had noted Macarius saying that Jesus baptised on a Friday (the sixth day of the Jewish week).
Quote
And after six days.... Mark 9.2 has the same phrase, and it is the transfiguration that follows the six days, not a baptism. On pages 148-149 of Mark's Other Gospel Brown takes on Talley, who argues that the Coptic tradition of baptizing on the sixth day of the week arose from this phrase in the secret gospel. Brown rightly notes that there is no good reason why the sixth day after Jesus and the young man entered the house should be in any way equivalent to the sixth day of the week. The only coincidence is the number six, surely an insufficient foundation on which to build a theory.
I note that the "after six days" in Secret Mark sounds absurd. If Jesus raised the youth, stayed in his house, and instructed him "only after six days", then what was Jesus doing in his house for six days?

It isn't clear to me whether, as Kuchinsky suggests, Secret Mark would involve baptism. But if the story of Lazarus' raising has been seen as baptismal, and since Secret Mark immediately precedes a reference to the "baptism" of Jesus, John, and James (maybe metaphorical in their passion), and since teaching the mysteries can be part of initiation, it's reasonable to think that baptism was involved. But still, since there is no mention of baptism, and in the stories of Lazarus' raising and the "baptisms" of Jesus, James, and John in Mark 10 are metaphorical, the baptismal meaning of Secret Mark is unclear and in fact could also be metaphorical. COnsequently, Secret Mark didn't involve a literal baptism.

Kuchinsky argues that since phrases in Secret Mark sometimes match "peripheral" text readings from the NT, it's more likely to be authentic because Morton Smith would have used the usual canonical version. But I think that this is not true and Morton Smith could have used the peripheral readings. Ben Smith writes:
Quote
The canonical version of Mark [10:46] has ερχονται (they come); the secret version of Mark has ερχεται (he comes). The singular is a western (or peripheral) reading found in Bezae (D), miniscule 788, several Old Latin manuscripts, the Alexandrian church father Origen, and other places.
This example is tainted, however, by our certainty that Morton Smith was in fact aware of this variant, as Kuchinsky admits with respect both to this variant in particular and to western variants in general. ... Indeed, the simple and straightforward fact that the western text is accessible to all modern scholars casts a shadow across any argument that Morton Smith was unaware of any of the western variants that Kuchinsky will point up.
http://www.textexcavation.com/kuchinskybrownsecmk.html
Stephen Carlson noted that Morton <<Smith's very first section arguing for the authenticity of the Secret Gospel fragments is entitled 'Influence of the Western Text'; see pp. 122-123 of [his book] Clement of Alexandria.... That's using the Western text affinities of Secret Mark to support its authenticity. (http://www.textexcavation.com/kuchinskybrownsecmk.html)>>

Ben Smith notes:
Quote
The canonical version of John 11.3 has nothing about mercy; in the secret gospel, however, the sister of the dead youth says: Υιε Δαβιδ, ελεησον με (son of David, have mercy on me). The Magdalene gospel (Pepys 2498, often called the Pepysian harmony) also has an appeal for mercy: ...wepeande and cryeande hym mercy. This case I accept, at least pending further evidence, as a true coincidence; for, although the line is a straight copy of Mark 10.47-48 (and, if Smith was the forger, that is where he would have found the line)
Maybe the forger was interested in using peripheral renderings of the Lazarus story like in the Magdalene Gospel?

« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 08:01:41 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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One of the strongest and most interesting arguments that I've found in favor of Secret Mark's authenticity is that it forms part of a chiastic structure that is composed of the whole of Mark's gospel. In this theory, sections of Mark's gospel line up with other sections of Mark's gospel symmetrically in order, emphasizing different meanings and creating a hidden order and pattern in the book.

Jeffrey Krantz in his article "Mark’s Chiastic Gospel Structure"
has a chart outlining the whole Gospel of Mark in a chiasm, and he lines up the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5) with Secret Mark's raising of the youth, explaining:
Quote
<<Pair E – (5:21-43, after 10:34) Jesus raises two people from the dead. These passages are linked by the state of the people Jesus helps (apeqanen) but also by the way that Jesus helps them, by this grasping of their hands (kratew). While this verb occurs elsewhere in the gospel, it appears that it plays an important role in the way that Mark contrasts the first and second halves of the gospel.>> https://preachingpeace.org/mark-s-chiastic-gospel-structure/
In Krantz's scheme, the central verse of the chiasm that covers the whole gospel is Jesus' first Passion Prediction.(8:31-33) See the link for a full list of his pairings.

John Dart in his book Decoding Mark pairs up Jairus' daughter's raising (Mark 5) with Mark 13:9-13 (the preaching of the gospel to all nations, apocalyptic events where relatives give each other up, and that whoever endures to the end will be saved) as part of the chiasm that he sees that covers Mark's gospel. He also included Secret Mark in his concept of a chiasm covering the gospel. (I expect that it was in pp.188-189 of his book.)
Quote
According to Dart, his analysis supports the authenticity of Secret Mark. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark)
I note however that Dart's pairing of the raising of Jairus' daughter with Mark 13 contradicts Krantz's pairing of the daughter's raising with the raising of the youth in Secret Mark. This makes using Secret Mark in creating chiasms less certain.

Several other writers have made chiasms covering Mark's entire gospel that don't involve Secret Mark. Scott Philip (Chiastic Structure: A Key to the Interpretation of Mark’s Gospel) has a chiasm chart for Mark, but he doesn't include either the raising of Jairus' daughter or Secret Mark.

(https://chiasmusresources.org/content/chiastic-structure-key-interpretation-mark%E2%80%99s-gospel)

Dick Harfield (A Proposed Framework Structure of Mark’s Gospel) unusually makes a chiasm dividing Mark in half and having the two halves run parallel to each other, each from beginning to end (eg. The baptism at the beginning lines up with the Transfiguration at the beginning or the second half.) His scheme doesn't use Secret Mark either. (https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/24910/is-the-gospel-of-mark-arranged-as-a-chiasm-or-parallel-structure)
Hajime Murai (Literary Structure of the Bible) in his outline chiasm covering Mark lines up the story of the woman's healing from an issue of blood who had paid money to doctors (Mark 5), which is preceded and succeeded by the story of Jairus' daughter's raising (Mk 5), with the story of the widow who gave all her money in an offering (Mark 12:40-44):
Quote
[Pairing significance:] Women contribute whole possessions   
[Mark] 5:26 She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.    
[Mark] 12:44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.
Murai ignores Secret Mark and matches "Jesus foretells his death and resurrection(8:31-33)" with "A third time Jesus foretells his death and resurrection"(10:32-34)(http://www.bible.literarystructure.info/bible/41_Mark_e_1.html#1-1) Murai's work looks much more detailed than Krant's outline and I find it better in that the central verse of the entire gospel's chiasm, Jesus' second Passion Prediction (9:30-32), is symmetrically preceded by Jesus' first and third of such predictions.


An interesting issue that "Secret Mark" brings to my attention (even supposing that Secret Mark is a fraud) about the canonical gospels is the question of the identities of the rich young man whom Jesus urged to sell his own possessions, the youth who lost his robe in Gethsemane, the youth with a robe in Jesus' tomb, and the Beloved Disciple. I wonder how many of these are the same person, what is the significance of the story of the robed youth, and whether they are the same person as Lazarus? But how could the resurrected Lazarus be the same as both the poor Lazarus in the parable and also the rich young man? Was Lazarus the rich young man and then did he give up his riches and become the poor Lazarus in the parable?
Wikipedia notes:
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Miles Fowler suggests that the naked fleeing youth in Mark 14:51–52, the youth in the tomb of Jesus in Mark 16:5 and the youth Jesus raises from the dead in Secret Mark are the same youth; but that he also appears as the rich (and in the parallel account in Matthew 19:20, “young”) man in Mark 10:17–22, whom Jesus loves and urges to give all his possessions to the poor and join him.[36] This young man is furthermore by some scholars identified as both Lazarus... and the beloved disciple (due to the fact that ...in the gospels he is said to have loved only the three siblings Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5), the rich man (Mark 10:22) and the beloved disciple).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Gospel_of_Mark
Couldn't the robed youth in Gethsemane and at the tomb be the "angel" who comforted Jesus in Gethsemane and appeared in the tomb? But how does one equate the robed youth that the women meet at the tomb in Mark 16 with the Beloved disciple who hears the women's news and runs to the tomb in John 20? It seems that the robed youth and the Beloved disciple must be different.

Putting the relevant passages in a list, we get: The Parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31); The Young, Rich Man whom Jesus loved (Matthew 19:20/Mark 10:17–22) ; Lazarus whom Jesus loved (John 11:5) / Secret Mark (Located in Mark 10:34-35); The Beloved Disciple (John 13:23), the angel in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43) the naked fleeing youth in Mark 14:51–52, the Beloved Disciple (John 19:26); the youth in the tomb of Jesus (Mark 16:5)/the angel at the tomb (Matthew 28:2) /the two angels at the tomb (Luke 24:4), The Beloved Disciple runs with Peter to the tomb after hearing from the women and leaves, and then Mary sees two angels in the tomb (John 20:2 & 20:12); the Beloved Disciple (21:7,20).

According to Aquinas' Golden Chain commentary, the Church fathers seemed to think that the Lazarus in the story of THe Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16) was a real person, well known among the Jews for his sickness and poverty, and/or that this is just a parable where the name of Lazarus is given because he is in heaven. Chrysostom seems to imply that he is the same Lazarus as the one raised in John 11:
Quote
CHRYS. But a parable is that in which an example is given, while the names are omitted. Lazarus is interpreted, "one who was assisted." For he was poor, and the Lord helped him.
... But that it is true that he who hears not the Scriptures, takes no heed to the dead who rise again, the Jews have testified, who at one time indeed wished to kill Lazarus, but at another laid hands upon the Apostles, notwithstanding that some had risen from the dead at the hour of the Cross.
Here is more from the commentary:
Quote
CYRIL ...This discourse concerning the rich man and Lazarus was written after the manner of a comparison in a parable, to declare that they who abound in earthly riches, unless they will relieve the necessities of the poor, shall meet with a heavy condemnation. But the tradition of the Jews relates that there was at that time in Jerusalem a certain Lazarus who was afflicted with extreme poverty and sickness, whom our Lord remembering, introduces him into the example for the sake of adding greater point to His words.
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/luke-16.html

In the story of the young rich man, the man tells Jesus that he observed the commandments, whereupon in Mark 10:
Quote
21. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, "One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."22. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The Church fathers take the view that Jesus loved him because he succeeded in obeying the commandments. A problem with equating him with the youth in the robe is that the story ends without saying that he became Jesus' disciple. And it's hard to equate him with the Lazarus in Luke 16, who was poor.

The story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11) sounds a bit disjointed in that Mary announced to Jesus that the one whom Jesus loved, Lazarus, was sick, but the text doesn't mention Jesus meeting Lazarus before. If one takes the gospels chronologically, the rich young man is the only one whom they already say that Jesus had loved.
Quote
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3. Therefore his sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick. 4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. [Jesus finds Lazarus dead] ...  35. Jesus wept. 36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
One can also sense that since Mary and Martha were believers, Lazarus was too, and this would by extension explain Jesus' special love for and resurrection of Lazarus.

Commenting on the Last Supper in John 13 ("Now there was leaning on Jesus" bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spoke. 25. He then lying on Jesus" breast said to him, Lord, who is it ?"), the Golden Chain also has Augustine's and Origen's idea that the story suggests that John was given greater mysteries because his head rises from Jesus' bosom to Jesus' breast:
Quote
AUGUSTINE. This is John, whose Gospel this is, as he afterwards declares. It is the custom of the sacred writers, when they come to any thing relating to themselves, to speak of themselves, as if they were speaking of another. For if the thing itself is related correctly, what does truth lose by the omission of boasting on the writer"s part? ... On Jesus" breast; the same as in Jesus" bosom. Or, he lay first in Jesus" bosom, and then ascended higher, and lay upon His breast; as if, had he remained lying in His bosom, and not ascended to lie on His breast, our Lord would not have told him what Peter wanted to know. By his lying at last on Jesus" breast, is expressed that greater and more abundant grace, which made him Jesus" special disciple.

The Golden Chain doesn't name the angel in Gethsemane (Luke 22). Mark 14 on the robed man in Gethsemane goes: "51. And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:52. And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked."
The Greek word here for linen cloth is "sindona", which is also used for burial shrouds, which helps relate this youth in my mind to the youth in the tomb in Mark 16. But why would the youth be wearing only a "sindona" cloth?
In the Golden chain, three writers propose that the robed youth in Mark 14 was either from the house of the Last Supper (I think there is a tradition that this was Mark himself as a youth), or James, or else the Beloved Disciple, John. Who do you think it was?
Quote
Theophylact: It appears probable that this young man was of that house, where they had eaten the Passover. But some say that this young man was James, the brother of our Lord, who was called Just; who after the ascension of Christ received from the Apostles the throne of the bishopric of Jerusalem.

Greg., Mor. 14, 49: Or, he says this of John, who, although he afterwards returned to the cross to hear the words of the Redeemer, at first was frightened and fled.

John 19 makes another reference to the Beloved Disciple:
Quote
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother"s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he says to his mother, Woman, behold your son!27. Then says he to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

When Mark 16:5 gives the story of the young man at the tomb, his white robe in place of his earlier "sindona" (used for burlals) reminds me of the concept of a white, pure, radiant resurrection clothes, perhaps symbolizing transformed resurrection flesh:
Quote
5. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6. And he saith unto them, "Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him."7. "But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, and He said unto you."
The resemblance of his words to the words of the angel(s) at the tomb in the other canonical gospels is noteworthy. Theophylact and St. Gregory thinks that the youth in Mark was the angel in Matthew, whereas Augustine allows for them being either the same or separate:
Quote
Augustine: Either let us suppose that Matthew was silent about that Angel, whom they saw on entering, whilst Mark said nothing of him, whom they say outside sitting on the stone, so that they saw two and heard separately from two, the things which the Angels said concerning Jesus; or we must understand by "entering into the sepulchre," their coming within some inclosure, by which is it probable that the place was surrounded a little space before the stone, by the cutting out of which the burial place had been made, so that they saw sitting on the right hand in that space him whom Matthew designates as sitting on the stone.
Bp. Peter Chrysologus sees the angel in Matthew 28 as a supernatural being that descended from heaven and spoke about the same words to the women that the youth in Mark 16 had.

In John 20, after meeting the angels, the women run to Peter and the Beloved Disciple:
Quote
2. Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and says to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. 3. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. 4. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. ...
Finally, John 21 (about meeting the risen Jesus by the Sea of Galilee) seems to make some of the clearest identifications of John as the Beloved Disciple, when it says:
Quote
7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus love says to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher"s coat to him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
[Next, Peter meets and talks with the risen Jesus.]
20. Then Peter, turning about, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrays you?21. Peter seeing him says to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?22. Jesus says to him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? follow you me. 23. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not to him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you?
24. This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
Since this is the Gospel of John, it seems that the Beloved Disciple is John the Evangelist, whom Paul associated with Peter when he wrote in an epistle that Peter, James, and John were the three pillars of Jerusalem's church.
The Golden Chain commentary says that John recognized Jesus because of John's penetrating nature, and that Peter was naked just for work.
Augustine tries to explain here why John was considered in particular to be "The Beloved Disciple:
Quote
Some think, and they no contemptible commentators upon Scripture, that the reason why John was loved more than the rest, was, because he had lived in perfect chastity from his youth up.
...
Yet the question remains, Why did our Lord say of one who was about to die, I will that he tarry till I come? It may be asked too why our Lord loved John the most, when Peter loved our Lord the most? I might easily reply, that the one who loved Christ the more, was the better man, and the one whom Christ loved the more, the more blessed; only this would not be a defense of our Lord"s justice. This important question then I will endeavor to answer. The Church acknowledges two modes of life, as divinely revealed, that by faith, and that by sight. The one is represented by the Apostle Peter, in respect of the primacy of his Apostleship; the other by John: wherefore to the one it is said, Follow Me, i.e. imitate Me in enduring temporal sufferings; of the other it is said, I will that he tarry till I come: as if to say, Do you follow Me, by the endurance of temporal sufferings, let him remain till I come to give everlasting bliss; or to open out the meaning more, Let action be perfected by following the example of My Passion, but let contemplation wait inchoate till at My coming it be completed: wait, not simply remain, continue, but wait for its completion at Christ"s coming. Now in this life of action it is true, the more we love Christ, the more we are freed from sin; but He does not love us as we are, He frees us from sin, that we may not always remain as we are, but He loves us heretofore rather, because hereafter we shall not have that which displeases Him, and which He frees us from. So then let Peter love Him, that we may be freed from this mortality; let John be loved by Him, that we may be preserved in that immortality. John loved less than Peter, because, as he represented that life in which we are much more loved, our Lord said, I will that he remain (i.e. wait) till I come; seeing that that greater love we have not yet, but wait till we have it at His coming. And this intermediate state is represented by Peter who loves, but is loved less, for Christ loves us in our misery less than in our blessedness: and we again love the contemplation of truth such as it will be then, less in our present state, because as yet we neither know nor have it. But let none separate those illustrious Apostles; that which Peter represented, and that which John represented, both were sometime to be.
So in conclusion, I see that the white-robed youth in Mark 16 is a supernatural angel at Jesus' tomb in the other gospels and is probably also the running youth in Gethsemane, as well as a comforting angel there. And I see that John the evangelist is the Beloved Disciple. But it's hard for me to be more specific about the identities of the rich young man who won't give up his possessions in Luke's story and of the angel/ robed youth at the tomb.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 12:03:56 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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LOEB's edition recommends: Kennard, JS, Jr, "Judas of Galilee and His Clan," Jew. Quart. Rev. 36 (1945-6), 281-286.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/1452114?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
The JSTOR article is paywalled for me past the first page
Volnutt,
You can sign up for a free account with JSTOR and they let you read their articles like this one for free. It's a useful service.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 04:18:55 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Volnutt,
Let me address a few questions that you raised.
(1) Synchronicity
In Book 19, Josephus tells how, on the death of the emperor Gaius Caligula, the Senate tried to take power and return to a Republic as a form of rule. The senator Sentius gave a speech praising the virtues of freedom, and they remarked with amazement that this was happening on the centennial of their earlier loss of liberty:... If the math was correct calulating the centennial, then is this a random coincidence or some kind of paranormal synchronicity?

Not sure there's really a difference between the two. But then again, the idea of paranormal synchronicity is something I've never understood that well.
According to Wikipedia's article on Synchronicity,
Quote
Synchronicity (German: Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related...  Jung defined synchronicity as an "acausal connecting (togetherness) principle," "meaningful coincidence", and "acausal parallelism."... Jung's belief was that, just as events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning.
Examples
The French writer Émile Deschamps claims in his memoirs that, in 1805, he was treated to some plum pudding by a stranger named Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, the writer encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fontgibu. Many years later, in 1832, Deschamps was at a dinner and once again ordered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fontgibu was missing to make the setting complete – and in the same instant, the now-senile de Fontgibu entered the room, having got the wrong address.

Religion
Many people believe that the Universe or God causes synchronicities. Among the general public, divine intervention is the most widely accepted explanation for meaningful coincidences
Deschamps' story is an example of synchronicity because (A) there is no discernable normal natural causal connection, since Deschamps and Fontgibu did not knowingly and consistently arrange to meet each other and for one of them to have plum pudding on each occasion, and (B) the events are connected in meaning because the events share the same basic elements of the story: plum pudding, the same two guests, restaurants. Plus, the second event happened on the "Decennial" or ten-year anniversary of the first.

In Book XIX of the Antiquities, the Roman Senate found it remarkable that their chance to restore the Roman Republic arrived on the Centennial of the fall of the previous Roman Republic. There is no clear, normal causal relationship between the two events, because the coup plotters didn't choose to kill Caligula because of the centennial, but rather because of his cruelty, insanity, and persecution of the Roman leadership. Yet the events were related in meaning: both involved the demise or potential birth of a Republic for Rome, they were separated by a round figure of 100 years. Plus, one could note that both the destroyer of Rome's last Republic, Caesar, and the emperor who had been ruling before this second event, Caligula, were assassinated.
It's probably not enough to just find similarities in meaning in order to say that two events form synchronicity. The theory of Synchronicity rests on the premise that there is some paranormal connection between the two events. For Jung, the underlying explanation for the phenomenon was "mundus unus"- a theory of the universe's internal unity. In some Biblical instances of Synchronicity, such as Joseph the carpenter's dream that saved the Holy Family, the Lord chose dreams and synchronicity to warn people about future dangers.
So this is why I have asked whether Josephus' story about the Centennial of the Republic's demise was simply a random coincidence or an example of paranormal or supernatural Synchroncity. My question in effect asks whether it was solely by purely random chance that the Senate found an opportunity to attempt to restore the Republic on the Centennial, or if there was some underlying real paranormal or Supernatural connection of Synchronicity involved.

(2) Syncretism and the people of Caesarea toasting Charon
You proposed Syncretism as a possible explanation:
In Book 19, Josephus says that the people of Caesarea and Sebaste celebrated Agrippa's death by pouring drinks ("libations") to Charon, a spirit of the dead in Greek mythology, despite the fact that Agrippa had renovated Jerusalem's temple:
... Does this celebration for Charon make sense? I am not sure whether the celebrants were Jews, since it says this happened in Caesarea and Sebaste, which I think may have had alot of gentile inhabitants. But Josephus suggests that the celebrants, like the Jews, should have been grateful for Agrippa renovating the temple.

Syncretism? Though I'd think that if there were really Jews involved, Josephus would have mentioned it disapprovingly.
I guess that the libations for Charon were probably being sarcastic like the sculptures for the king's daughters. The people didn't really revere the sculptures, but rather they set them up sarcastically.

(3) Judas the Galilean and his sons compared to Jesus and the Church leaders
Daniel Unterbrink has a theory that Jesus in the Bible is really Judas the Galilean leader in Josephus, but this looks doubtful to me, because Judas the Galilean is openly referred to as a different person than Jesus in the Book of Acts.

That being the case, it is hard to see the names of Judas' sons James and Simon lining up with the names of Jesus' successors in the Church leadership, James and Simon, as more than coincidence.

"Hard" or "not hard?"

And yeah, I agree that it's far-fetched. Not a good theory when it relies on the assumption that the compiler of Luke-Acts, even if he wasn't St. Luke, was totally incompetent.
I meant "Hard", as I wrote. To reiterate: That being the case (ie. that "Judas the Galilean is openly referred to as a different person than Jesus in the Book of Acts"), it is hard to see the names of Judas' sons James and Simon lining up with the names of Jesus' successors in the Church leadership, as more than coincidence.

Since Acts considers Judas the Galiliean as a separate person from Jesus, James and Simon probably aren't named after Judas the Galiliean's sons. To see the name as related, per Unterbrink's theory, I would have to imagine that Jesus was some made up character based on Judas the Galilean. But his theory seems unlikely, as Acts probably wouldn't have been so brazen as to name Judas the Galilean directly like that if Jesus and the apostles were purely literary figures. The theory seems too far a stretch to me.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 03:00:10 PM by rakovsky »
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Let me provide the answers below for questions that I asked about Josephus.

JOSEPHUS: HIS TESTIMONIUM ON CHRIST AND CHURCH FATHERS ON JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS

<<Why did God inflict the Babylonian captivity on the Jews? Was that fair or too severe?>>
   I asked because the Third Century Christian apologist Minucius Felix, in chapter 33 of his Octavius, responded to the argument that worshiping God didn’t help the Jews because they experienced catastrophe. Referring to Josephus' writings, M. Felix wrote:
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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.
   There were numerous reasons for the Babylonian Captivity. It was apparently not too severe considering that the Captivity, which began at the earliest with King Jehoiakim's defeat in c. 605 BC, ended in 70 years, considering the severity of some other Biblical punishments on nations like the plague on Egypt, the exile of Israel's 10 Northern tribes, the Persian conquest of Babylon. Reasons for the captivity included:
   A. 2 Chronicles 32 explains that King Hezekiah (who ruled in 729-687 BC) grew prideful due to his military victory, but then he humbled himself so that the disaster for his pride didn't happen during his lifetime. The chapter also says that God tested his heart when Babylon's ambassadors came to learn about the miracles surrounding his healing. 2 Kings 20 explains that he showed off all his treasures to the ambassadors, and so Isaiah predicted in response that the treasures would be carried off and his descendants would serve under the Babylonians, although this disaster would not happen in Hezekiah's lifetime.
   B. The Torah requires that the Israelites let the fields fallow every 7 years, called a Shmita or Shemita cycle. Jeremiah 25:11 said that the land would be desolate and the nation would serve Babylon 70 years. In 2 Chronicles 36, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem's walls, Temples, and palaces, and enslaved the survivors, to fulfill the Lord's word by the mouth of Jeremiah "until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years." This implies that the Israelites hadn't been observing the 7 year sowing cycle's "sabbaths", that the land was owed 70 years of Sabbaths as a result of the negligence, and that the Captivity performed the 70 years of fallowness.
   C. Hezekiah’s son and successor was Manasseh. 2 Kings 24:1-4 says that God sent the Babylonians against King Jehoiakim (in c. 605 BC) because of Manasseh's sins:
Quote
3. Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; 4. And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.
   D. Manasseh was succeeded by Josiah, who was succeeded by Jehoahaz. Manasseh had repented of his sin, and Josiah was pious, but 2 Kings 23:32 says: "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done." So the leadership had returned to iniquity in the eyes of the Biblical author.
   E. The Egyptians captured King Jehoahaz and replaced him with Jehoiakim, who in turn was defeated by Babylon in his third year of rule. In Jeremiah 25:1-11, Jeremiah told the people of Judah that they hadn't listened to him, nor listened to the prophets who told them to repent of their evil ways, and not to worship other gods, so God was sending the Babylonians to destroy the land and that the people will serve Babylon 70 years. In the Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel described visions of the abominations practiced by the Jews while he was in exile, but before the Temple's destruction. The abominations included idolatry at the Temple courtyard, priests facing the sun with their backs to the Temple, and women performing ritual lamentations for the dying-resurrecting god Tammuz.

<<The Testimonium Flavianum says about Christ, "for he was a maker of miraculous works" (PARADOXWN ERGWN POIHTHS). Couldn't Josephus have used this (POIHTHS) in the sense that Jesus was a poet, considering his parables, allegories, and his ordered sayings like the Sermon on the Mount?>>
No, because "poet of miraculous works" doesn't make much sense. I guess that Josephus used a phrase ("maker of miraculous works") that he didn't other places, although he could have hinted at a double meaning of "maker"/"poet".

<<What do you make of the claim that depictions of Jesus in early Church literature, and particularly in Josephus' writing, as physically unattractive were not uncommon?>>
   Apparently Josephus did not, as some writers alleged, characterize Jesus' appearance as unattractive. The Josephus Home Page's 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...
   In The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (page 394), Robert Eisler quotes St John of Damascus in On the Orthodox Faith, (De Fide Orthod., IV, 16, from the first half of the 8th Century), as saying: "Since moreover Josephus the Jew, as some say... in like manner narrates that the Lord was seen having connate eyebrows, goodly eyes, long-faced, crooked, well grown..." Since St. John of Damascus introduces his description of Jesus with "as some say", he implies that some people claim that Josephus wrote this about Jesus, not that St. John Damascene confirmed that Josephus wrote this.
   However, it appears that several writers like Justin Martyr from the mid-second century onwards did describe Jesus' physical appearance as unattractive, and this may have been based either on an oral tradition passed down from the time of the apostles who knew Jesus, or it may have been a guess that the Church writers made over 100 years after Jesus' time. Justin Martyr in the mid-2nd Century wrote:
Quote
“Jesus came as the son of a carpenter. He was not physically attractive, just as the prophets had predicted of Him. He was merely a carpenter, making plows and yokes, and instructing us by such symbols of righteousness to avoid an inactive life.” – Dialogue With Trypho The Jew, 7,7
   The Acts of Peter, from the 2nd Century or later, refer to
Quote
Him [Christ] who is great and quite small, comely and ugly: small for the ignorant, great to those who know him, comely to the understanding and ugly to the ignorant, youthful and aged…glorious but amongst us appearing lowly and ill-favoured.
   Tertullian in the 3rd century apparently based his idea of Jesus as physically unattractive on the Old Testament prophecies, not on any direct descriptions of Him in Tradition. In "Against Marcion," (III, 17) Tertullian wrote:
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.

<<If the surviving Testimonium Flavianum is legitimate, then how does one explain Origen's negative characterization of Josephus' writing on Jesus?>>
   The short answer is that Origen must have interpreted the Testimonium as only recording Christian claims without endorsing them.
   The Testimonium Flavianum appears to be based on Luke 24, in which the two travelers tell the resurrected Jesus "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." In agreement with this passage, the Testimonium in the Greek version of Josephus' Antiquities says: "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."
   The travelers in Luke 24 tell Jesus "Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place." Jesus responds to the two travelers, saying:   
Quote
'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.
   In agreement with this part of Luke, the Testimonium says:   
Quote
He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these things and countless other marvels about him.
   In the early 4th century, the Church writer Eusebius recorded the Testimonium as quoted above in his Greek-language book Church History.
   The Latin copies of the Antiquities have the Testimonium match the Greek one, except that they have Josephus say that Jesus "was believed to be Christ", instead of saying that Jesus "was the Christ." J. Curran writes in his essay on the Testimonium that the phrase "was believed to be the Christ" (“et credebatur esse Christus”) shows up in Latin in two early manuscripts of Rufinus’ Latin translation of the Testimonium in Eusebius’ "Church History". Curran quotes other scholars as saying about the manuscripts of Rufinus' Latin translation: "In the earlier manuscript (which is in fact the earliest one we have seen) this phrase is written at the bottom of the page correcting the standard reading hic erat in the text itself.” (SOURCE: https://pure.qub.ac.uk/portal/files/112911304/The_Testimonium_Flavianum_again_.pdf) In addition, Jerome's late 4th century quotation of the Testimonium in Latin also says that Jesus "was believed to be Christ." (In Latin: "et credebatur esse Christus.")
   So if Josephus' original Greek Testimonium is authentic, what must have happened is that the Latin version changed Josephus' original direct assertion that Jesus was "the Christ" into merely a statement that Jesus "was believed to be Christ." Other possibilities, which I find less likely, are that Josephus was writing sarcastically, as Alice Wheatey theorizes, or that he was simply directly quoting a Christian source. As for the Latin version's phrase "was believed to be the Christ", it's most likely that either Josephus or a pagan editor made the change when Josephus' writing was translated into Latin because Latin was the preferred official language for the Roman empire and Christianity was illegal. Josephus or his editor may have backpedaled and found it safer to only make an statement that Jesus "was believed to be Christ." It's less likely that a Christian editor after the empire accepted Christianity would have changed Josephus' statement this way.
   In "Against Celsus" (1.47), Origen refers to Josephus' writings about John the Baptist and Jesus' brother James while asserting that Josephus was not a Christian:
Quote
For in the eighteenth volume of the Judaic Antiquities Josephus testifies to John as having been a baptist and promised cleansing to those who were baptized. But he himself, though not believing in Jesus as Christ, in seeking 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 things happening to the people, since they killed the prophecied Christ, even says, being unwillingly not far from the truth, that these things befell the Jews as vengeance for James the just, who was a brother of Jesus who is called Christ, since they killed him who was most just. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he saw this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood or of their common upbringing as on account of his ethics and speech. If, therefore, he says that the things surrounding the desolation of Jerusalem befell the Jews on account of James, how is it not more reasonable to say that it happened on account of Jesus the Christ?
   First, since Origen cited Josephus' passage on John the Baptist in Book XVIII of the Antiquities, Origen also probably saw Josephus' passage on Jesus in the same volume. Second, when Origen refers to how Josephus "ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these things happening to the people, since they killed the prophecied Christ", Origen may be referring to Josephus' passage on Jesus, since it describes the Jewish leaders' conspiracy to kill Jesus while asserting that He was the prophecied Christ. Origen could have implied that Josephus should have seen Jesus' death as a cause for the Temple's destruction because Josephus' passage had described Jesus as the prophecied Christ.
   Third, in asserting that Josephus was not a Christian, Origen emphasized that Josephus was a Jew and that Josephus said that Jesus was "called Christ". These two points may have been the basis for Origen's own belief that Josephus wasn't Christian. But in fact whereas in Origen's own time (the early 3rd century), observant Jews and Christians were separate categories, in Josephus' own time (the First Century), there was major overlap, since eg. the Council of Jerusalem allowed gentiles to generally avoid the Torah rituals, but didn't negate its observance by Jewish Christians. So although Josephus openly defended Judaism and Moses' Torah, this did not actually mean that He was not Christian as Origen may have thought. Further, the Latin version of Josephus' Testimonium asserted that Jesus "was believed to be the Christ" and Josephus' passage on James said that James was the brother of "Jesus called Christ", so Origen could have interpreted these phrases to mean that Josephus only believed that Jesus was "called Christ", not that He actually was the Christ.
   Fourth, although the Greek version of Josephus' Testimonium simply states "This man was the Christ", Tacitus also referred to Jesus as "Christ", without qualifying his statement by declaring his own unbelief.
   Fifth, Josephus may not have been known publicly as a Christian because Christianity was illegal, even if he was one privately. So like some modern scholars who think that Josephus was writing sarcastically or was simply quoting Christian beliefs, Origen may have not have taken Josephus' passage praising Jesus literally.
   Sixth, Origen's characterizations of Josephus' text, while showing that Josephus did in fact refer to Jesus and James, are not reliable and precise, because for example Origen wrote that Josephus said that "that these things befell the Jews as vengeance for James the just". But in fact Josephus' text as it came down to us never openly blames the killing of James for the Temple's destruction. At most, Josephus implied that it was a cause of the destruction by narrating it as one of the tragic events that caused trouble, which in turn led to the destruction.
   Seventh, Origen may have considered Josephus' compliments of Jesus to be objective statements of fact or admissions against his own biases, since Origen makes the same explanation for Josephus' interpretation of James' death, ie. Origen writes that Josephus was "unwillingly not far from the truth" when it came to James' death and its destructive results.
   Eighth, a good example of a Christian writer who could have read Josephus' Testimonium as it stands and yet still believe that the Testimonium's author was not a Christian was Pseudo-Hegesippus in On the Downfall of Jerusalem (2.1), from c. 370 AD. Pseudo-Hegesippus summarized the Testimonium and then commented:
Quote
Josephus, whom they themselves regard as very great, said this, and nevertheless was so devious in mind with respect to him about whom he spoke the truth that he did not even believe his own speech. But he spoke on account of faithfulness to history, because he regarded it as wrong to deceive; he did not believe on account of his hardness of heart and perfidious intention. Nevertheless it does not prejudice truth that he did not believe, but rather it adds to the testimony because, though unbelieving and unwilling, he did not deny it.

<<It's very curious to me that Origen's reference to Josephus relating Jerusalem's destruction to James the Just's death is missing from Josephus' writings in the form that we have.  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?>>
I was referring to Origen's following statement about Josephus' passage on James:
Quote
But he himself, though not believing in Jesus as Christ, in seeking 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 things happening to the people, since they killed the prophecied Christ, even says, being unwillingly not far from the truth, that these things befell the Jews as vengeance for James the just, who was a brother of Jesus who is called Christ, since they killed him who was most just.
The answer is that No, Josephus' passage on Josephus was not removed, because Josephus introduced and discussed James' death in Book XX of the Antiquities, which is where it belongs chronologically, not long before Josephus discusses the Temple's destruction. I think that Josephus implies that James' killing was one of the tragedies and mistakes leading up to the Temple's destruction.

<<If the surviving Testimonium Flavianum is legitimate, then how does one explain that Bishop Agapius' Arabic version is so different than the surviving version of the T.F. and doesn't include the surviving Testimonium's overtly Christian faith assertions?>>
   If the surviving Testimonium is authentic, then Bishop Agapius - or less likely, Bp. Agapius' Syriac source - was retelling it in a more nonChristian form.
   In his Universal History, the 10th century Arabic Christian writer Bishop Agapius described the Testimonium this way in Arabic:   
Quote
Similarly Josephus, the Hebrew. For he says in the treatises that he has written on the governance (?) of the Jews: 'At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after the crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.
   The 12th century non-Chalcedonian bishop Michael, in his Syriac "Chronicle" practically repeated the "Testimonium" found in the Syriac version of Eusebius' Church History, except for a few points that he shared with Bp. Agapius' version, that they specifically referred to Jesus' death and that Jesus was "thought" to be the Christ. Scholars like Alice Whealey suggest that Bishops Agapius and Michael drew from a common Syriac version, which in turn used Eusebius' Church History, and that Bp. Agapius was retelling the Testimonium in a very loose and abridged way. Roger Viklund notes that Bp. Agapius in other places made deficient loose paraphrases of earlier Christian stories, such as King Abgar V's correspondence with Jesus, which is found in Eusebius' Church History. Viklund writes:
Quote
But since Agapius includes some details [of the story of Jesus and King Abgar V] that do not occur in Eusebius or Michael, and the story in Agapius[158] shows apparent parallels both in language and content with a Syrian miracle story named The Teaching of Addai,[159] it is likely that he (also) drew on this fifth-century Syriac work, or possibly on a document very much like it. But king Abgar’s list of the miracles performed by Jesus, such as healing the blind, the paralyzed, the deaf, and so on – miracles that occur in both Eusebius and Michael, as well as in The Teaching of Addai – are missing in Agapius’ version. Apparently, he has omitted the miracles even though his source or sources had them. This is one example of how he downplays miracles. ...He appears to have done the same [with the Testimonium] as many of today’s researchers want to do; he eliminated those parts of the Testimonium which he thought that Josephus reasonably could not have written.
(https://rogerviklund.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/the-jesus-passages-in-josephus-%E2%80%93-a-case-study-part-2n-%E2%80%93-%E2%80%9Dtestimonium-flavianum%E2%80%9D-the-church-fathers%E2%80%99-knowledge-the-syriac-and-arabic-translations-the-common)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 02:31:48 PM by rakovsky »
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It would be rather helpful Rakovsky if you could specify whether Bishop Michael was Syriac Orthodox or Assyrian.

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

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

Offline rakovsky

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 Sure, Alpha.
He was a SyrIac OO hierarch. Wikipedia says:
Quote
Michael the Syrian (Classical Syriac: ܡܺܝܟ݂ܳܐܝܶܠ ܣܽܘܪܝܳܝܳܐ‎, romanized: Mīkhā'ēl Sūryāyā), died 1199 AD, also known as Michael the Great (Syriac: ܡܺܝܟ݂ܳܐܝܶܠ ܪܰܒ݁ܳܐ‎, romanized: Mīkhā'ēl Rabbā) or Michael Syrus or Michael the Elder, to distinguish him from his nephew,[1] was a patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 1166 to 1199. He is best known today as the author of the largest medieval Chronicle, which he composed in Syriac.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_the_Syrian
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Sure, Alpha.
He was a SyrIac OO hierarch. Wikipedia says:
Quote
Michael the Syrian (Classical Syriac: ܡܺܝܟ݂ܳܐܝܶܠ ܣܽܘܪܝܳܝܳܐ‎, romanized: Mīkhā'ēl Sūryāyā), died 1199 AD, also known as Michael the Great (Syriac: ܡܺܝܟ݂ܳܐܝܶܠ ܪܰܒ݁ܳܐ‎, romanized: Mīkhā'ēl Rabbā) or Michael Syrus or Michael the Elder, to distinguish him from his nephew,[1] was a patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 1166 to 1199. He is best known today as the author of the largest medieval Chronicle, which he composed in Syriac.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_the_Syrian

Thank you.  It would be appreciated by me if you could just write “Syriac Orthodox” in such a case unless there is the potentiality for confusion between the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, or the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church or as otherwise relates to India, and then referred to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch as the Antiochian Orthodox Church, as these are the two official names preferred at present by the two great and splendid Orthodox Churches of Antioch, which were at one time both confusingly referred to in the media as “Syrian Orthodox.”

I did recently find myself exceedingly confused and then annoyed by an article relating to the Orthodox Church which referred to a “Melkite Patriarch” - it turned out they were talking about His Beatitude the Greek Orthodox Pope and Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa as opposed to the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch.  So the use of contemporary nomenclature to indicate the ecclesiastical affiliation of persons mentioned within the articles you cite, even if you must annotate your quotations or otherwise clarify them, can be of great benefit, when we consider there are five Patriarchates of Antioch and also among autocephalous churches not a party to Chalcedon operating in the region you were referring to, between four and ten, depending on the specific geographic and chronological scope and historical interpretation (for example, according to many, the Maronite Catholics were at one time non-Chalcedonian Monothelites), and that is of course not counting the Gnostics and other heretical sects, one of which remained intact in a nominally Christian form in the Caucasian mountains into the 19th century.

Otherwise, most interesting; this thread continues to intrigue and illuminate.  But please, for the sake of my sinuses, let us benefit from standard terminology in contemporary use wherever you can employ such terminology.

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

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

Offline rakovsky

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JOSEPHUS' WARS OF THE JEWS: BOOKS I-II

<<A Note on Links between John's Revelation and Josephus' Wars of the Jews>>
   Some writers note numerous remarkable similarities between passages in Josephus' Wars of the Jews and John's Revelation, such as Adam Maarschalk's 2016 chart and essay, "Josephus and the Book of Revelation (Nine Case Studies)." For example Revelation 6:15-16 addresses the Sixth Seal's events, when commanders and people hid in caves and tried to hide from God, whereas in Wars of the Jews 6.7.3, the tyrants and robbers with them tried to hide in the caves but were not able to hide from God or the Romans.
   Probably either Josephus or John wrote their texts with the use of the other's document. Josephus wrote Wars of the Jews in c. 75 AD, and scholars usually consider that John wrote it under Domitian's rule (81-96 AD) based partly on statements of church fathers like Irenaeus, although there is a minority view that he wrote it under Nero's rule (54-68 AD).

<<Josephus says that Herod had numerous wives. At one time did Judaism stop having arrangements of multiple wives per husband?>>
Wikipedia's article on Polygamy says: "In the modern day, polygamy is almost nonexistent in Rabbinic Judaism. Ashkenazi Jews have continued to follow Rabbenu Gershom's ban since the 11th century."

<<What would Josephus' term for "God" be in Latin, "Deus"?>>
The Greek text of Josephus' writings uses "Theos", whereas the Latin text uses "Deus" (as in Bk.I.30:6).

<<Did the pharisees of Josephus' time teach reincarnation, as some have gathered from Book II, Chapter 8?>>
No. The Jewish Encyclopedia entry on the Transmigration of souls says about reincarnation: "This doctrine was foreign to Judaism until about the eighth century, when, under the influence of the Mohammedan mystics, it was adopted by the Karaites and other Jewish dissenters."
   Josephus wrote in Book II, Chapter 8.14 about the pharisees' beliefs: "Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body,(A) while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment." Analysis shows that it must not refer to reincarnation, in part because of the lack of belief by First Century Jews in reincarnation. Rather, as the "Tektonics" website's article "Reincarnation and the Bible" suggests, Josephus "reports Jewish beliefs in Greek terms for the benefit of his Gentile readers", as the Greek world was familiar with reincarnation.
   Josephus' statement about the soul of the good passing into "another body" must not actually refer to moving into a fully separate body, but rather refers to a transformed. The new body is "other" in terms of its change, as Paul writes about resurrection bodies in 1 Cor. 15:
Quote
35. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
   36. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
   37. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
   38. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
   42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

   In Book III, 374, Josephus recounts his own speech to his soldiers, wherein he said:
Quote
"Know you not that they who depart this life in accordance with the law of nature and repay the loan which they received from God, when He who lent is pleased to reclaim it, win eternal renown; that their houses and families are secure; that their souls, remaining spotless and obedient, are allotted the most holy place in heaven, whence, in the revolution of the ages, they return to find in holy/chaste bodies a new habitation?(A)
   LOEB EDITOR'S FOOTNOTE A: With this passage compare Apion II. 218 'to those who observe the laws and, if they must needs die for them, willingly meet death, God has granted a renewed existence and in the revolution (of the ages) the gift of a better life.'
Since he calls the new bodies "holy" or "chaste", the new bodies that they have must be the kind of blessed transformed bodies that Paul described, not normal mortal bodies per the theory of Reincarnation. Therefore, this refers to the idea that the departed go to heaven and then after ages pass, they return to their bodies as part of the general resurrection. By saying that only the good receive a new, blessed body, his idea conflicts with Reincarnation, whereby as a matter of the natural order, both the good and the bad are given new bodies based on the morality of their actions in this life. Nor does he describe people going through repeated cycles of dying and getting new bodies per the theory of Reincarnation.

<<In Book II, Chp. 8, Josephus writes about the Essenes, according to Whiston's translation: "But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters." What does this mean?">>
Loeb's translation is generally better and says here: "In their dress and deportment they resemble children under rigorous discipline."

<<What made the Essenes so strong inside as Josephus described in Book II, Chp 8:10-11?>>
In Section 10 (Loeb's trans.), Josephus writes:
Quote
They make light of danger, and triumph over pain by their resolute will; death, if it come with honour, they consider better than immortality. The war with the Romans tried their souls through and through by every vareity of test. Racked and twisted, burnt and broken, and made to pass through every instrument of torture, in order to induce them to blaspheme their lawgiver or to eat some forbidden thing, they refused to yield to either demand, nor ever once did they cringe to their persecutors or shed a tear. Smiling in their agonies and mildly deriding their tormentors they cheerfully resigned their souls, confident that they would receive them back again.
Here, Josephus points to their resolute will, and one may perceive their respect to and faith in their lawgiver (God) and to their confidence that they would receive their souls back again as other sources of their fortitude under severe testing. In section 11, Josephus describes their belief in the immortality of the soul. He says that in their theology, the virtuous go to a paradise across the ocean, whereas the base go to a murky, tempestuous dungeon with eternal punishments. He writes: "Their aim was first to establish the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and secondly to promote virtue and to deter from vice; for the good are made better in their lifetime by the hope of a reward after death, and the passions of the wicked are restrained by the fear that, even though they escape detection while alive, they will undergo never-ending punishment after their decease. Such are the theological views of the Essenes concerning the soul, whereby they irresistibly attract all who have once tasted their philosophy." So he implies that the beliefs about the rewards and punishments in the afterlife are a source for their fortitude under suffering in this life.

<<Supposing that Josephus makes cryptic allusions to John the Baptist and Christ in his writings, is he alluding to them in the stories in Book II, Chp. 13 about the men in the wilderness claiming divine inspiration and the Egyptian false prophet on the Mount of Olives?>>
Yes, in that the story of the false prophets, followed by that of the false Egyptian Messianic contender, shares elements of the Christian concepts of the true prophets who were followed by the true Messiah, Jesus, who arrived from Egypt in his childhood and ascended on the Mount of Olives.
   I think that Josephus alludes to Christian themes in his writings when telling the stories of: (A) His own baptism by "Banus" (perhaps meaning the bather), (B) Onias the wonderworker (as described below), (C) a prophet named Jesus who wandered Jerusalem during the c. 70 AD revolt, predicted its destruction, and vanished, (D) Josephus' rescue of three friends from crucifixion, one of whom survived, (E) the Jewish rebel leader who escaped by leaping far down into a cave where he stayed for three days and then reappeared alive, (F) Paulina's sleeping with Decius Mundus, who pretended to be the god Anubis and revealed his true nature after three days, followed by the story of 3 Jewish swindlers who stole the money that they gathered from the convert Fulvia for Jerusalem's Temple (The Paulina, Decius Mundus and Fulvia stories being inversions of the Virgin Birth, the 3rd day resurrection, and Paul's gathering of tithes/tenths for Jerusalem's temple), (G) Josephus' escape from a crowd that wanted to kill him by jumping from a high point onto the back of his comrade James (alluding to James' death by being pushed off a wall and stoned), (H) the false prophets in the wilderness claiming divine inspiration, followed by the Egyptian who appeared to claim Messianic status and led a failed revolt on the Mount of Olives in Book II, Chp 13:4-5 of the Wars of the Jews.
   You can read Josephus' story of Onias the Wonderworker in his Antiquities, Book XIV, Chp.2. (The story is online here: http://www.josephus.org/HoniTheCircleDrawer.htm)
   On his webpage about this story, G. J. Goldberg comments:
Quote
Josephus is extremely skeptical about those who pretend to be miracle-workers, calling them deceivers (apateônes) and enchanters (goêtes).  But there is at least one miracle-worker whom he calls a "righteous man" (dikaios aner) and "beloved of God" (theophilis). This man's name is Onias.
   A number of scholars have drawn parallels between Onias and Jesus of Nazareth. 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. For a discussion, see Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew, or Brad H. Young, Jesus the Jewish Theologian.
   The name "Onias" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Honi." In the Rabbinic work the Mishnah, a compilation of traditions that was assembled about a hundred years after Josephus wrote, there appears a man named Honi who also is said to have prayed for rain. It seems safe to assume this is the same man Josephus describes. He is known more fully as Honi the Circle-Drawer.
   (http://www.josephus.org/HoniTheCircleDrawer.htm)
   Next, Goldberg quotes the story of Honi the Circle-Drawer from Mishnah Taanit 3:8, which you can also read in the link above, and gives more analogies to Jesus' story.
   Here is Loeb's translation of the story of the false prophets in the wilderness in Book II, Chp. 13:4-5:
   
Quote
4. Besides these there arose another body of villains, with purer hands but more impious intentions, who no less than the assassins ruined the peace of the city. Deceivers and imposters, under the pretence of divine inspiration fostering revolutionary changes, they persuaded the multitude to act like madmen, and led them out into the desert under the belief that God would there give them tokens of deliverance.(A) Against them Felix, regarding this as but the preliminary to insurrection, sent a body of cavalry and heavy-armed infantry, and put a large number to the sword.
   FOOTNOTE (A): Cf Matt. XXIV. 24 ff. 'There shall arise... false prophets and shall show great signs... they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the wilderness.' THeudas was an earlier imposter of this type, and met with a similar fate, Antiquities XX 97.
   5. A still worse blow was dealt at the Jews by the Egyptian false prophet. [etc.]
So Thackeray takes the story of the men in the wilderness as a narrative of false prophets. I believe that Josephus' underlying logic in telling this story is that just as there are true prophets (eg. John the Baptist) and a true Messiah, there are false ones. False prophets and false Messiahs have features of the true ones, but are nonetheless defective.

<<Who was Gorion/Gurion in Josephus' Wars of the Jews? Was he related to Nicodemus in John's Gospel / Nakdimon Ben Gurion in the Talmud?>>
   He was a wealthy scion of Jerusalem, apparently related to Nicodemus.
   In Book II, Chapter 17:10, Josephus describes Gorion, son of Nicodemus or Nicomedes, as a Jewish authority whom the Jewish rebels sent to take custody of Metilius' surrendered Roman garrison:
   
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WHISTON'S TRANSLATION:
   The others readily complied with their petition, sent to them Gorion, the son of Nicodemus, and Ananias, the son of Sadduk, and Judas, the son of Jonathan, that they might give them the security Of their right hands, and of their oaths; after which Metilius brought down his soldiers; which soldiers, while they were in arms, were not meddled with by any of the seditious, nor was there any appearance of treachery; but as soon as, according to the articles of capitulation, they had all laid down their shields and their swords, and were under no further suspicion of any harm, but were going away, Eleazar's men attacked them after a violent manner, and encompassed them round, and slew them, while they neither defended themselves, nor entreated for mercy, but only cried out upon the breach of their articles of capitulation and their oaths.
   LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
   Metilius, the commander of the Roman garrison, unable to prolong his resistance, sent envoys to Eleazar, asking, under terms of capitulation, for no more than their lives, and offering to surrender their arms and all their belongings. The beseiegers, grasping at this petition, sent up to them Gorion son of Nicomedes, Ananias son of Sadok, and Judas son of Jonathan, to give a pledge of security and to take the necessary oaths.
   LOEB'S ORIGINAL LANGUAGE TEXT: NIKOMIDOUS in Greek, Nicodem in Latin
   Then in Book II, Chapter 20:3, Josephus says that the rebels appointed Joseph son of Gorion as a governor of Jerusalem's affairs:
   
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WHISTON'S TRANSLATION:
   Joseph also, the son of Gorion, (31) and Ananus the high priest, were chosen as governors of all affairs within the city, and with a particular charge to repair the walls of the city; for they did not ordain Eleazar the son of Simon to that office, although he had gotten into his possession the prey they had taken from the Romans, and the money they had taken from Cestius, together with a great part of the public treasures, because they saw he was of a tyrannical temper, and that his followers were, in their behavior, like guards about him.
   WHISTON'S FOOTNOTE:
   (31) From this name of Joseph the son of Gorion, or Gorion the son of Joseph, as B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 9, one of the governors of Jerusalem, who was slain at the beginning of the tumults by the zealots, B. IV. ch. 6. sect. 1, the much later Jewish author of a history of that nation takes his title, and yet personates our true Josephus, the son of Matthias; but the cheat is too gross to be put upon the learned world.
   LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
   Joseph, son of Gorion, and Ananus the high priest were elected to the supreme control of affairs in the city, with a special charge to raise the height of the walls.
   In Book IV 3:9, Josephus described Gorion the son of Josephus encouraging people to revolt against a false priesthood that Zealots had instituted in the Temple:
   
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WHISTON'S TRANSLATION
   And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, (6) who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it.
   LOEB'S TRANSLATION
   ...For their leaders of outstanding reputation, such as Gorion, son of Joseph, and Symeon, son of Gamaliel, by public addresses to the whole assembly and by private visits to individuals, urged them to delay no longer to punish these wreckers of liberty and purge the sanctuary of its bloodstained polluters.
   LOEB'S FOOTNOTE: Probably the Joseph, son of Gorion, who, along with Ananus, was given supreme control in Jerusalem at the outbreak of war, ii. 563; the younger Gorion here mentioned bears his grandfather's name.
   Then in Book IV 6:1, Josephus describes the Zealots' killing of Gorion when they controlled Jerusalem:
   
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WHISTON'S TRANSLATION: 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.
   LOEB'S TRANSLATION:
   ...Thus, to take one instance among many, they murdered Gurion, a person of exalted rank and birth, and yet a democrat and filled with liberal principles, if ever a Jew was; his outspokenness, added to the privileges of his position, was the main cause of his ruin.
   LOEB'S FOOTNOTE: Probably identical with Gorion ben Joseph, S. 159.
   Wikipedia's entry on Nicodemus ben Gurion relates Nicodemus to the one named in Book II 17:10, quoted above. The entry says:
   
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Nicodemus ben Gurion (Hebrew: נקדימון בן גוריון Nakdimon ben Gurion) was a wealthy Jewish man who lived in Jerusalem in the 1st century CE. He is believed by some to be identical to the Nicodemus mentioned in the Gospel of John.[1] Elsewhere he is discussed in Josephus' history, The Jewish War,[2] and later, rabbinic works: Lamentations Rabbah,[3] Ecclesiastes Rabbah,[4] the Babylonian Talmud,[5][6] and Avot of Rabbi Natan.[7]
   Ben Gurion means "son of Gurion" in Hebrew and his real name was apparently Buni or Bunai.[8] He acquired the nickname Nicodemus, meaning "conqueror of the people" (from םךח and הῆלןע), or alternate semitic etymology Naqdimon, because of a miraculous answer to a prayer he made.[1] Nicodemus appears to have been a wealthy and respected figure, known for his holiness and generosity. He was an opponent of the Zealots and of the rebellion against Rome which led to the destruction of Jerusalem.[9]
   When Vespasian became emperor, Nicodemus sought peace with the emperor's son Titus, who was conducting the war. He agitated against the prosecution of the war by the Zealots. In retaliation, they destroyed the stores of provisions that he and his friends had accumulated for the use of pilgrims.[9]
   Footnote [2]: Josephus. The Jewish War. 2.17.10.
   A clarification should be made. Josephus in 2:17.10 refers to Gorion, the son of Nicodem, whereas the Talmud refers to Nicodemus, the son of Gorion. To make sense of this, one might propose that either Nicodemus or Gorion was the name of a grandson and grandfather (eg.: Nicodemus, son of Gorion, who was the son of another Nicodemus).
   Richard Bauckham discusses "Nicodemus and the Gurion Family" in his article by that name in The Journal of Theological Studies (https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Nicodemus and the Gurion family.-a0156735378, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23966458).
   Bauckham also discusses the family in his book The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple.
   John Gill's Exposition of John 3:1 cites from rabbinical sources about Nicodemus/Nakdimon Ben Gurion. (http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/gill/joh003.htm)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 03:57:56 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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JOSEPHUS' WARS OF THE JEWS: BOOKS III-VII
 
<<In Book III, Chapter 7, Josephus describes the Roman attack on Japha, and claims that it was God who arranged for the Romans' attack: I am curious what reason Josephus sees theologically for God to have done this.>>
Josephus doesn't give a theological explanation in this passage for the Romans' victory and slaughtering of Japha. Rather, he seems to imply that his conclusion is based on how Japha's defenses were formidable and that Japha's troops that went out to attack and then retreated from the Romans were unexpectedly not let back in by Japha's sentinels. The sense is that since the defenses were formidable and the decision to not let the troops back in was made by Japha's own guards, the Roman victory was fortuitous and surprising, and therefore certainly from God.
    Loeb's translation of this passage in Book III, Chp. 7 goes: "Trajan found a city presenting formidable difficulties, for in addition to its naturally strong situation, it was protected by a double ring of walls. However, its inhabitants ventured to advance to meet him, prepared, as he saw, for action; he charged them and, after a brief resistance, routed them and started in pursuit. They burst into the first enclosure, whither the Romans, following hard on their heels, penetrated with them. But when the fugitives rushed on to the second wall, their own fellow-citizens shut them out, for fear of the enemy forcing their way in at the same time. God, and no other, it was who made a present to the Romans of the wretched Galilaeans; it was He who now caused the population of the town to be excluded by the hands of their own people and delivered them to their murderous foes, to be exterminated to a man. Vainly did the swarming crowds batter the gates and implore the sentinels by their names to let them in: while their supplications were on their lips they were butchered."
 
<<Why would the Lord desire the defeat and slaughter of Japha (or for that matter other rebellious cities)?>>
    Josephus doesn't specify any reasons why God would want the defeat of Japha in particular, but God could desire the defeat of the rebellion in Galilee because of rejection and killing of holy people, criminality among the rebels, as well as other important violations of Torah.
    In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus says that Jerusalem's enemies "shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." While during the siege of 70 AD the Romans did not destroy the city so badly that the city was leveled, it was still a war that followed the nation's failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In Books 18 and 20 of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus narrates the religious leaders' killing of Jesus and His brother James, respectively, among the tumultuous events leading up to the Temple's destruction. Origen apparently takes Josephus as seeing James' death as a cause of the Temple's destruction because he narrated james' story closer in time to the latter. Origen writes in Against Celsus (1.47) that Josephus,
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though not believing in Jesus as Christ, in seeking 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 things happening to the people, since they killed the prophecied Christ, even says, being unwillingly not far from the truth, that these things befell the Jews as vengeance for James the just, who was a brother of Jesus who is called Christ, since they killed him who was most just.
    However, basic causes for the defeat must have been present even before Jesus' death. Matthew 3 narrates John the Baptist's criticism of the pharisees' generation in terms of impending doom:
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But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    In Daniel 9, during the Babylonian Captivity, the angel Gabriel predicts 490 years, starting with an order to rebuild the Temple, "to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity". Following 483 years after the rebuilding order, he predicts the cutting off of an Anointed one / Messiah and the Temple's and city's destruction. Daniel had been meditating on the 70 years of Jerusalem's desolation resulting from the Babylonian conquest, which in turn were apparently based on the nation's failure to observe the 7 year sowing cycle that included a "Sabbath" year when the land should lay fallow. So Daniel 9 predicted the city's and Temple's destruction after 483 years - meaning that the destruction would occur in the First Century or later - for the people's sins, and logically also based on an ongoing failure to observe the fallowing requirements of the 7-year sowing cycle.
    The most important demands of the Torah are to love God with all one's heart and to love one's neighbor as oneself, and Josephus narrates how the rebels failed these demands leading up to Japha's defeat by killing or abusing their clergy, as well as by internecine fighting and violent crimes.
    In Book II, Chapter 13, Josephus criticizes the rebel "Sicarii":
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...there sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city: this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them, by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest, after whose death many were slain every day,
    In Book II, Chapter 15, 3-5, Josephus narrates how Florus and his Roman army asked for the Temple's clergy, whom Josephus calls the "servants of God," to come out to meet the army. The clergy implored the rebels to show the Romans peace,
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, saying, “What benefit will it bring to the soldiers to have a salutation from the Jews? Or what amendment of your affairs will it bring you, if you do not now go out to meet them?" and that if they saluted them civilly, all handle would be cut off from Florus to begin a war... By these persuasions, which they used to the multitude, and to the seditious, they restrained some by threatenings, and others by the reverence that was paid them.
Josephus in effect blames both Florus' army and the rebels for the slaughter that soon followed. Florus had ordered his forces not to return the clergy's salutation when the clergy came out, and to attack if the Jews gave an offensive reply. When the Romans did not return the clergy's salute, the rebels let up an offensive cry, so the soldiers attacked the clergy, who desired peace.
    In Book II, Chapter 16, Josephus recites Herod Agrippa II's speech to a Jewish audience, encouraging them to avoid war. After laying out the Romans' military prowess, he says that (A) the Lord must be on the Romans' side because they built up such a vast empire. (B) The rebels can't both observe the Torah and win, because if they rest on the Sabbath they will be defeated like under Pompey, and if they fight on the Sabbath, they will violate the Torah. (C) The rebels should avoid war to spare the Temple, because the Romans will ruin it, since the Romans will see that the rebels ignored the Romans' past restraint. (D) Rebellion carries tremendous peril, and the rebels would be carried away by their Passions if they rebelled.
    One can argue with each of Herod Agrippa II's reasons against War. Just because an empire is strong doesn't make its decisions right or the empire irresistible. It makes sense that one could fight in defense on the Sabbath. Just because a victorious enemy could destroy the Temple doesn't mean that under no condition could the enemy be fought. Nonetheless, each of Herod Agrippa II's factors, like the risk to the Temple, should be considered in evaluating whether to fight a war.
    Then in Book II, Chapter 19, Josephus describes how the rebels killed the priests in Jerusalem who were calling out to Cestius' Roman forces in peace. Josephus theorizes that Cestius didn't capture Jerusalem at that point because God didn't want him to: the capture would have put an end to the war, but Josephus asserts that God was already so averse to the city and Temple that he didn't want the destructive war to end at this point.
    In Book II, Chapter 20, Josephus narrates how he built walls around Japha and other Galilean cities and trained a major army there. Further, he told his soldiers,
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that he should make trial of the good order they would observe in war, even before it came to any battle, in case they would abstain from the crimes they used to indulge themselves in, such as theft, and robbery, and rapine, and from defrauding their own countrymen, and never to esteem the harm done to those that were so near of kin to them to be any advantage to themselves; for that wars are then managed the best when the warriors preserve a good conscience; but that such as are ill men in private life, will not only have those for enemies which attack them, but God himself also for their antagonist.
    Josephus' statement that God would be their antagonist if they acted criminally as "they used to indulge themselves in" implies that the people in the Galilean forces had been performing criminal violence. It also implies that the rebels' ongoing criminal violence, like their killing of the priests, led to God's opposition to them.
    In Book III, Chapter 7, Josephus notes that Vespasian interpreted Josephus' arrival in Jotapata to be a chance from God to catch Josephus, since the latter, "who appeared to be the most prudent man of all their enemies, had of his own accord, shut himself up in a place of sure custody."
    Similarly in the same chapter, Josephus ascribes the defeat of Japha's forces to God, because when they retreated, Japha's inhabitants would not let the forces through the inner walls to safety. Josephus writes:
   
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Trajan found a city presenting formidable difficulties, for in addition to its naturally strong situation, it was protected by a double ring of walls. However, its inhabitants ventured to advance to meet him, prepared, as he saw, for action; he charged them and, after a brief resistance, routed them and started in pursuit. They burst into the first enclosure, whither the Romans, following hard on their heels, penetrated with them. But when the fugitives rushed on to the second wall, their own fellow-citizens shut them out, for fear of the enemy forcing their way in at the same time. God, and no other, it was who made a present to the Romans of the wretched Galilaeans; it was He who now caused the population of the town to be excluded by the hands of their own people and delivered them to their murderous foes, to be exterminated to a man. Vainly did the swarming crowds batter the gates and implore the sentinels by their names to let them in: while their supplications were on their lips they were butchered.
    That is, whereas the city had formidable defenses, the rebel army was prepared for war, and the attackers sallied out to attack the Romans, it was not the Romans but the city's guards who prevented the attackers from getting back into safety. Hence the attackers' slaughter was not due to the Romans' efforts, but to their unexpectedly being trapped outside the city's walls. Josephus must be seeing God's hand in this unexpected turn of events, although one could blame the city's fear of the Romans. One could also theorize that like Jerusalem's priests, the city's guards didn't want to be seen as siding with the rebels once the Roman army's power.
    Then in Book III, Chapter 8, Josephus discusses the Roman tribune Nicanor's proposal that Josephus surrender at Jotapata, and narrates that Josephus remembered his "nightly dreams, in which God had foretold to him the impending fate of the Jews and the destinies of the Roman sovereigns. He was an interpreter of dreams and skilled in divining the meaning of ambiguous utterances of the Deity; a priest himself and of priestly descent, he was not ignorant of the prophecies in the sacred books. At that hour he was inspired to read their meaning, and, recalling the dreadful images of his recent dreams, he offered up a silent prayer to God. 'Since it pleases thee,' so it ran, 'who didst create the Jewish nation, to break thy work, since fortune has wholly passed to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of my spirit to announce the things that are to come, I willingly surrender to the ROmans and consent to live". Based on the context, he must be referring to the "prophecies" of the Roman conquest like in the Book of Daniel.
 
<<What prophecy in the sacred books was Josephus referring to in Book III, Chp. 8, below?>>
    In Book III, Chapter 8, Josephus discusses the Roman tribune Nicanor's proposal that Josephus surrender:
   
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But as Nicanor was urgently pressing his proposals and Josephus overheard the threats of the hostile crowd, suddenly there came back into his mind those nightly dreams, in which God had foretold to him the impending fate of the Jews and the destinies of the Roman sovereigns. He was an interpreter of dreams and skilled in divining the meaning of ambiguous utterances of the Deity; a priest himself and of priestly descent, he was not ignorant of the prophecies in the sacred books. At that hour he was inspired to read their meaning, and, recalling the dreadful images of his recent dreams, he offered up a silent prayer to God. 'Since it pleases thee,' so it ran, 'who didst create the Jewish nation, to break thy work, since fortune has wholly passed to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of my spirit to announce the things that are to come, I willingly surrender to the ROmans and consent to live; but I take thee to witness that I go, not as a traitor, but as thy minister.'
    Josephus was referring to the Book of Daniel, because the context for his referring to the prophecies was what he referred to as the Romans' breaking of the Jewish nation. Later in Antiquities X, Chapter 6 (below), he wrote that Daniel had predicted that the Romans would lay waste to Jerusalem. There, Josephus referred to the four "horns" of the goat representing Greek rulers whose power came from Alexander the Great's campaigns. Here is Loeb's translation:
   
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From these [four horns], he writes, there arose another smaller horn which God, who revealed these things to him, told him would grow and make war on his nation, take their city by force, disrupt the temple service and prevent the sacrifices from being offered for one thousand two hundred and ninety-six days.[D] This, Daniel writes, is what he saw in the plain of Susa, and he relates that God interpreted to him the form of the vision as follows.
    ...[T]here would arise from their number [ie. from the Greek kings] a certain king who would make war on the Jewish nation and their laws, deprive them of the form of government based on these laws, spoil the temple and prevent the sacrifices from being offered for three years.And these misfortunes our nation did in fact come to experience under Antiochus Epiphanes, just as Daniel many years before saw and wrote that they would happen. In the same manner Daniel also wrote about the empire of the Romans and that Jerusalem would be taken by them and the temple laid waste. All these things, as God revealed them to him, he left behind in his writings, so that those who read them and observe how they have come to pass must wonder at Daniel's having been so honoured by God...[C]
    FOOTNOTES
    [D] Cf. Dan. xii. 11, "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away... a thousand two hundred and ninety days." In the present passage, viii. 14, Scripture has "two thousand and three hundred evening-mornings
    (Lxx, Theod., A.V. " days *')," apparently meaning 2300 half-days or 1150 days, which approximately equals the 3 1/2 years (lit. "time, times and half a time") mentioned in vii. 25 as well as the number given in xii. 11.
    [C] ...Josephus is here summarizing the contents of Dan. xi-xii., which his rabbinic contemporaries interpreted as a prophecy of Roman conquest...
    Josephus was also referring to writings ascribed to Jeremiah, such as Lamentations, and to two writings by Ezekiel, as Josephus writes in Antiquities 10.V.1:
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And the prophet Jeremiah composed a song of lament for his [Josiah's] funeral, which remains to this day. This prophet also announced the misfortunes that were to come upon the city, and left behind writings concerning the recent capture of our city,[C] as well as the capture of Babylon. And not only this prophet predicted these things to the multitude, but also the prophet Ezekiel,[D] who left behind two bookds which he was the first to write about these matters.[E]
    [C]Josephus naturally thought of the book of Lamentations (which, like his contemporaries, he regarded as Jeremiah's work) as a prophecy of the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans as well as of that by the Babylonians.
    [E] Josephus probably thought of the book of Ezekiel as composed of two distinct parts of 24 chapters each. Cf. H.St. J. Thackeray, "This distinction of subject matter is well known to the rabbis who observed that Ezekiel opens with desolation and ends with consolation." Less probably he alludes to a pseudepigraphic book of Ezekiel, now lost...

<<What prophecies, made before Christ's birth and besides those in the Book of Daniel, predicted the destruction of Jerusalem's Second Temple?>>
    There aren't any such prophecies that we know of today, other than Daniel's prophecy. One could infer from the Torah rules, from religious controversies or strife, and from the destruction of the First Temple that the Second Temple would likely be destroyed, but this is not explicitly stated. Likewise, whereas Zechariah describes the Messiah building the Temple, and Ezekiel gives specifications for building a Temple that differ from those of the Second Temple, these writings also do not entail the demolition of the Second Temple. For example, Ezekiel's Temple could be built in a different location or incorporate the Second Temple. Or Ezekiel's Temple could be considered only a conditional prophecy about designing the Second Temple that was not fulfilled when the Second Temple was actually built. Or Ezekiel's and Zechariah's Temples could be taken as allegories for Messianic worship.
 
<<How would you explain to someone how to have the courage to face a slow natural death, like by cancer, rather than using Euthanasia?>>
    Josephus gave a good speech against suicide in his "Wars of the Jews." In Book III, Chapter 8:4, Josephus gave a speech to his soldiers aimed at discouraging them from killing themselves.
    He says that it's honorable to die in war by combat, rather than suicide, and that it's honorable to die for liberty by fighting those who would rob us of it. He adds:
   
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It is equally cowardly not to wish to die when one ought to do so, and to wish to die when one ought not. What is it we fear that prevents us from surrendering to the Romans? Is it not death? And shall we then inflict upon ourselves certain death, to avoid an uncertain death, which we fear, at the hands of our foes? 'No, it is slavery we fear,' I shall be told. Much liberty we enjoy at present! 'It is noble to destroy oneself,' another will say. Not so, I retort, but most ignoble; in my opnion there could be no more arrant coward than the pilot who, for fear of a tempest, deliberately sinks his ship before the storm.
 
    No; suicide is alike repugnant to that nature which all creatures share, and an act of impety towards God who created us. Among the animals there is not one that deliberately seeks death or kills itself; so firmly rooted in all is nature's law- the will to live. That is why we account as enemies those who would openly take our lives and punish as assassins those who clandestinely attempt to do so. And God- think you not that He is indignant when man treats His gift with scorn? For it is from Him that we have received our being, and it is to Him that we should leave the decision to take it away. All of us, it is true, have mortal bodies, composed of perishable matter, but the soul lives for ever, immortal: it is a portion of the Deity housed in our bodies. If, then, one who makes away with or misapplies a deposit entrusted to him by a fellow-man is reckoned a perjured villain, how can he who casts out from his own body the deposit which God has placed there, hope to elude Him whom he has thus wronged? It is considered right to punish a fugitive slave, even though the master he leaves be a scoundrel; and shall we fly from the best of masters, from God Himself, and not be deemed impious? Know you not that they who depart this life in accordance with the law of nature and repay the loan which the law of nature and repay the loan which they received from God, when He who lent is pleased to reclaim it, win eternal renown; that their houses and families are secure; that their souls, remaining spotless and obedient, are allotted the most holy place in heaven, whence, in the revolution of the ages, they return to find in chaste [or "holy"] bodies a new habitation? But as for those who have laid mad hands upon themselves, the darker regions of the nether world receive their souls, and God, their father, visits upon their posterity the outrageous acts of the parents. That is why this crime, so hateful to God, is punished also by the sagest of legislators. With us it is ordained that the body of a suicide should be exposed unburied until sunset, although it is thought right to bury even our enemies slain in war.(A) In other nations the law requires that a suicide's right hand, with which he made war on himself, should be cut off, holding that, as the body was unnaturally severed from the soul, so the hand should be severed from the body.
 
    We shall do well then, comrades, to listen to reason and not to add to our human calamities the crime of impiety towards our creator. If our lives are offered us, let us live: there is nothing dishonourable in accepting this offer from those who have had so many proofs of our valor; if they think fit to kill us, death at the hands of conquerors is honourable... I pray however, that the Romans may prove faithless; if, after pledging their word, they put me to death, I shall die content, for I shall carry with me the consolation, better than a victory, that their triumph has been sullied by perjury.
    [FOOTNOTE (A): Josephus apparently refers to some Rabbinical tradition: the Pentateuch is silent on the subject of suicide.]
    One could take notice that the Bible discourages suicide because it condemns killing in the Ten Commandments. Plus, the Bible gives words of consolation and hope for people who suffer, such as:
   
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Psalm 34:18-19:
    18. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
    19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
 
    Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
 
    Matthew 28:20: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
 
    1 John 4:4: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

<<Is Josephus' calculation for the years that the Second Temple stood correct?>>
    No. In Book VI, 4:8 of Wars of the Jews, Josephus said that the Second Temple lasted 639 years:
Quote
From its first foundation by King Solomon up to its present destruction, which took place in the second year of Vespasian's reign, the total period amounts to one thousand one hundred and thirty years seven months and fifteen days; from its rebuilding by Haggai in the second year of the reign of Cyrus until its fall under Vespasian to six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days.
    The second year of Cyrus' reign as king of Persia was about 558 BC. The destruction of Jerusalem's Temple occurred in 70 AD. 558 BC + 70 AD - 1 year for Year Zero = 627. So this calculation gives 627 years, but Josephus gave 639 years.
    But it's hard to read the second year of Cyrus' reign as referring to his reign as king of Parthia (558 BC), because the Jews returned later in 538-537 BC, and only after their return could they start rebuilding. So some scholars take Josephus as referring to the second year of Cyrus' rule over Judah (538-537 BC). Antti Laato in his essay "The Seventy Yearweeks in the Book of Daniel" writes:
   
Quote
Schrer notes that Josephus has the following inexact chronological data:
    In Bell. Jud. VI, 4,8 Josephus says that between the second year of Cyrus and the destruction of the Second Temple there elapsed 639 years.
    According to Ant. XX, between the return ( = first year of Cyrus) and Antiochus V Eupator (162 — 64) there were 414 years.
    According to Ant. XIII, 11,1, Josephus reckons with 481 years between the return from the Exile and Aristobul I (105 —104).
    According to data given by Josephus the first regnal year of Cyrus would be 570 B.C., 578 B.C. and 586 B. c. respectively. Schrer notes that in reality the first year of Cyrus and the return of the Judeans from the Exile occurred about 537 B. c.
    Robert Anderson in "Daniel in the Critics' Den" proposes that since Haggai lived in the time of Darius, Josephus referred to Darius as Cyrus, but this makes Josephus' date of 639 years 50 years off historically:
   
Quote
[Josephus] refers to the prophet Haggai, who, with Zechariah, promoted the building of the second temple in the second year of Darius H ystaspis. As this historian speaks elsewhere of Artaxerxes as Cyrus,1 so here he calls Darius by that title. The period, therefore, was (according to our chronology) from B.C. 520 to A.D. 70-that is, 589 years-that is, about fifty years less than Josephus reckons.

<<What prophecy in Jewish holy writings predicted the capture of Jerusalem's Temple when the Temple became four-square, as Josephus writes in Book VI, Chapter 5?>>
    In Book VI, chapter V, Josephus says that the Jewish rebels demolished the Antonia tower in order to help prevent the Romans from attacking the Temple, and:
Quote
...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...
    Josephus is talking about the prophecies about the Temple in Daniel 9 and Ezekiel 40-48. In Antiquities Book X, he said that Jeremiah predicted Babylon's conquest of Jerusalem, adding:"[Jeremiah] proclaimed in advance the terrible things that awaited the city; he also left behind writings about its capture in our own time and the destruction of Babylon. Nor did he alone foretell these things to the mob; there was also the prophet Ezekiel, who left behind two books that he was the first to write about these matters".
    In Antiquities X, Chp. 6, Josephus also wrote that Daniel wrote about the Romans' capture of the city and destruction of the Temple, so he apparently combined the prophecies in Ezekiel and Daniel in applying them to the Temple's capture. In Ezekiel 34, Ezekiel gave God's promise of a time when "I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken." Then in chapter 40, Ezekiel had a vision of a man whose appearance was like brass, who showed him a new Temple, and who "measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare". And in Chapter 44, Ezekiel envisioned the eastern gate of this Temple's outward sanctuary, and God told him, apparently referring to the role of the Davidic Messianic prince, "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same."
    Then in Daniel 9, an angel gave Daniel a chronological prediction of 483 years for when an Anointed one (likely the Messiah) would be cut off, and the people of the coming Prince would ruin the city and the Temple. By combining these prophecies, Josephus must have seen Ezekiel and Daniel as predicting a time when the Messiah came, the temple's area was foursquare, and the people of a coming prince would destroy the Temple, and of course capture it first in order to destroy it.
 
<<The second half of Whiston's following passage in Book VII about the capture of the rebel leader Simon by the Romans below does not make sense grammatically, and I am also trying to understand the philosophical explanation, if there is one. Is it saying that Justice inflicts on sinners a more severe punishment because they were not punished immediately?>>
Quote
Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen by those who were his worst enemies; and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished, and that on the very same account that he had laid false accusations against many Jews, as if they were falling away to the Romans, and had barbarously slain them[,] for wicked actions do not escape the Divine anger, nor is justice too weak to punish offenders, but in time overtakes those that transgress its laws, and inflicts its punishments upon the wicked in a manner, so much more severe, as they expected to escape it on account of their not being punished immediately.
There is a grammar problem with Whiston's translation above: A comma should be where I inserted one in brackets above. Thackeray puts a period there. The passage is saying that Justice inflicts on the sinners a more severe punishment when they imagined that they avoided punishment because they weren't punished immediately.
 
<<Do you agree with Josephus' idea that Justice inflicts on sinners a more severe punishment when they imagined that they avoided punishment because they weren't punished immediately?>>
    In Book VII, Chp. 8, Josephus writes about how the rebel leader Simon surrendered himself to the Romans, and comments:
Quote
Thus was Simon, in retribution for his cruelty to his fellow-citizens, whom he had mercilessly [tyr]annized, delivered by God into the hands of his deadliest enemies ; not subjected to them by force, but spontaneously exposing himself to punishment — an act for which he had put many to a cruel death on false charges of defection to the Romans. For villainy escapes not the wrath of God, nor is Justice weak, but in due time she tracks down those who have transgressed against her and inflicts upon the sinners a chastisement the more severe, when they imagined themselves quit of it because they were not punished immediately.
    Josephus is talking about God's divine justice as a universal principle, and Josephus' narrative of how Simon gave himself up reminds me of descriptions of the resurrection. By extension, his principle of justice would apply even to people who died without receiving their reward in this lifetime. In particular, Josephus says that Simon "appeared out of the ground", so that he astonished those who saw them, and it refers to "This rise of his out of the ground". This image reminds me of Daniel 12:2 ("And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shamו and everlasting contempt.").
    There does appear to be a principle of justice whereby a penalty due tends to be quantitatively greater if incurred later in time. Banks give loans on interest, so that the total amount repaid is greater quantitatively than the original amount. Libraries and other institutions can impose late fees if a fine is not repaid when it is due. The IRS imposes interest fees on unpaid taxes or on unfiled tax reports. Federal court fines include interest fees for late payments under 18 U.S.C.A. § 3612, Post Judgment Interest Rates.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2019, 01:49:24 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline SolEX01

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Lol, now you're doing exegesis of Josephus.

Offline rakovsky

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SolEx01,
I actually value your theological knowledge and welcome your answers to the questions. I am giving my best, sincere answers based on the information that I find.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

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JOSEPHUS' LIFE
 
<<Was the Epaphroditus to whom Josephus dedicated his work a Christian or Christian sympathizer?>>
    He likely was a Christian, and if not, then a Christian sympathizer, based on three main pieces of evidence:
    (1) Josephus wrote that Epaphroditus strongly encouraged Josephus' writing, Josephus was apparently a Christian or Christian sympathizer based on his passages on Jesus and James, and Josephus dedicated his Antiquities, autobiography, and Contra Apion to Epaphroditus. In particular, Josephus' patron Epaphroditus especially encouraged Josephus to write Contra Apion, which is an apology for Judaism. This in turn suggests that like Josephus himself, Epaphroditus was especially interested in Jewish religion. This would go along with belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, since in this early period, Christianity was much more closely associated with Judaism.
    (2) The philosopher Epictetus was apparently a pagan Christian because he referred to "we" who are "baptised" and taught concepts that overlap with New Testament teachings. He was a freedman whose former master was Epaphroditus, whom Suidas wrote was Nero's guard or chamberlain in his Encyclopedia entry for "Epictetus." Suidas' encyclopedia's entry for "Epaphroditus" describes Epaphroditus as physically large and a collector of literature in the same way that Josephus describes the Epaphroditus who was his own patron, so apparently this Epaphroditus was the same as Josephus'. Suidas says that Epaphroditus lived in Rome in the period from Nero to Nerva, whereas Josephus wrote that Epaphroditus was killed by Domitian, who ruled before Nerva. But a careful analysis of Suidas' writing, like his entry on Apollonius of Tyana, shows that Suidas may have only been using this as a general estimate of Epaphroditus' era, which addresses the initially apparent conflict in dates between the two Epaphrodituses.
    (3) In his Epistle to the Philippians, Chapters 2 and 4, Paul introduces an Epaphroditus who is his companion in labor and fellowsoldier in Christ to the Philippian Christians. Along with introducing Epaphroditus, Paul concludes: "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." Since Paul had converts among the praetorian guards and Senators like Pudens, Paul's letter serves as circumstantial evidence that Paul's companion Epaphroditus was the one famous as a Nero's secretary or bodyguard. Josephus writes that his patron Epaphroditus was "himself concerned in great affairs, and many turns of fortune", whereas Nero's secretary Epaphroditus was involved in Nero's death, according to Suetonius.
 
<<What resemblance or closeness does Josephus see between the Pharisees and Stoics when he writes: "Being now in my nineteenth year I began to govern my life by the rules of the Pharisees, a sect having points of resemblance to that which the Greeks call the Stoic school"?>>
Josephus uses the Greek word παραπλήσιος, meaning similar or close.
    In the context of explaining Josephus' comparison between the Stoics and Pharisees, Jerome Neyrey writes, "In several places, Josephus describes the Pharisees (i.e., Stoics) in terms of providence and theodicy. For example, 'The Pharisees, who are considered the most accurate interpreters of the laws, and hold the position of the leading sect, attribute everything to Fate and to God . . . Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.'(Josephus, B.J. II.162-163)" (J. Neyrey, "Epicureans and the Areopagus Speech: Stereotypes and Theodicy", https://www3.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/epicureans.html)
    Leonard Ooh writes that "Josephus redresses his telling of the story [of the Binding of Isaac] as depicting Abraham “in the guise of a kind of Stoic philosopher, who reasons that ‘all that befell His [G-d’s] favored ones’ was ordained by his providence (προνοιασ) (Ant 1.225),” (Felman 194). The Greek word προνοι[2] is itself a Stoic term, in which Josephus uses 74+ times in the first half of Antiquities (Feldman 194)." (https://leonardooh.wordpress.com/2008/10/01)
    In his book "Flavius Josephus on the Pharisees: A Composition-Critical Study", Steve Mason writes:
   
Quote
By presenting the Pharisees as those who attribute everything to eimarmeni kai Theo, Josephus may be anticipating one of the bases on which he will later compare the Pharisees to the Stoics (Life, 12)(75)
    Footnotes: 75: A. Posnanski notes that we have here only a terminological parallel. Josephus does not advance any particular Stoic doctrines for the Pharisees, such as that of the logos spermatikos. It is worth norting, however, that Josephus himself comes close to this Stoic teaching when, in his speech against suicide at Jotapata, he speaks of the soul as a portion of God (Theou moira, War 3:372).
    Mason also writes in the same book:
   
Quote
The Pharisees, he says, are the leading philosophical school among the Jews, and, like the leading Hellenistic school (the Stoics), they attribute everything to fate or God. Also like the Stoics, the Pharisees both concede that virtuous action lies in man's power and insist that eimarmeni cooperates (Bitheo/adiuno) in each action. It is beyond the scope of this study to decide whether or not Josephus was right. Suffice it here to note: (a) that Josephus knew a good deal more about the Pharisees, and probably about the Stoics, than does modern scholarship' (b) that he considered the Pharisees and Stoics to be alike in some respects (cf paraplisios, Life 12); (c) that outside observers of ancient Judaism sometimes described it in Stoic terms; and (d) that monism and monotheism, insofar as they both posit a single ultimate being, must share certain common features.
    Steve Mason writes in Footnote 92 of his publication Life of Josephus, "If we ask why Josephus compared Pharisees with Stoics, the answer is not hard to imagine. Stoics had famously tried to find room for both fate and free will, just as Josephus' Pharisees do (Ant. 13. 171-73). This was the central philosophical issue. The roles of the two schools in their respective societies-widely embraced ideas, even if the number of committed members was small (Ant. 18.15)-might also have played a part in his comparison.[/quote]
 
<<Does Josephus' story of one "Herod" rescuing him with his guard James in Sections 17-18 sound realistic? Is it more likely an allegorical allusion to Jesus' brother James, King Herod, and Josephus than a literal recounting of his experience?>>
    It sounds realistic, although like the story of Josephus getting three friends down from crosses, it also sounds like he is making a cryptic allusion to Christianity.
    I originally thought that the story was not realistic because I read Whiston's translation as if it meant that Josephus and James both jumped onto the back of Herod, who carried them out. This seemed like an unrealistic feat to me. Whiston gives this section of Josephus' autobiography this way:
   
Quote
17. ...But when I was in the open place of the city, having dismissed the guards I had about me, excepting one, and ten armed men that were with him, I attempted to make a speech to the multitude of the people of Tiberias: and, standing on a certain elevated place, I entreated them not to be so hasty in their revolt; for that such a change in their behavior would be to their reproach, and that they would then justly be suspected by those that should be their governors hereafter, as if they were not likely to be faithful to them neither.
    18. But before I had spoken all I designed, I heard one of my own domestics bidding me come down, for that it was not a proper time to take care of retaining the good-will of the people of Tiberias, but to provide for my own safety, and escape my enemies there; for John had chosen the most trusty of those armed men that were about him out of those thousand that he had with him, and had given them orders when he sent them, to kill me, having learned that I was alone, excepting some of my domestics. So those that were sent came as they were ordered, and they had executed what they came about, had I not leaped down from the elevation I stood on, and with one of my guards, whose name was James, been carried [out of the crowd] upon the back of one Herod of Tiberias, and guided by him down to the lake, where I seized a ship, and got into it, and escaped my enemies unexpectedly, and came to Tarichese.
    A more careful reading shows that in the passage above, Josephus does not say that he leaped down with James onto Herod, or that he was carried out together with James on Herod's back. Thackeray's translation is generally better than Whiston's and makes it clearer that they were not both carried on Herod's back. Thackeray has:
   
Quote
They duly arrived and would have done their business, had I not instantly leapt from the parapet, with James my bodyguard, and been further aided by one Herod of Tiberias, who picked me up and conducted me to the lake, where I seized a boat, embarked, and escaping thus beyond all expectation from my enemies, reached Tarichaeae.
    When Josephus first told his story in Wars of the Jews, Book II, Chapter 21, he did not mention his bodyguard James or the Herod who carried him, but he did say that the parapet that he was standing on was 6 cubits high:
   
Quote
But as soon as Josephus had got the people of Tiberias together in the Stadium, and tried to discourse with them about the letters that he had received, John privately sent some armed men, and gave them orders to slay him. But when the people saw that the armed men were about to draw their swords, they cried out; at which cry Josephus turned himself about, and when he saw that the swords were just at his throat, he marched away in great haste to the sea shore, and left off that speech which he was going to make to the people, upon an elevation of six cubits high. He then seized on a ship which lay in the haven, and leaped into it, with two of his guards, and fled away into the midst of the lake.
    The six cubits could just be his normal estimate of the height, but one could question why he estimated it to be six cubits instead of, say, 5. Goliath was six cubits tall, so conceivably Josephus was thinking of the man Herod who carried him. This Herod would have to be a large or strong man to carry Josephus out of the crowd.
    Josephus' apparent references in his autobiography to John the Baptist and Jesus, as well as the similarities between the stories of his escape in Tiberias and James' death, suggest that Josephus was alluding to the latter. A feature of some early Christian writings was to include coincidences or similarities between one's own life and the New Testament, such as in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. And in the chapters following the Testimonium Flavianum in his Antiquities, Book XVIII, Josephus plays with characters' names like "Paulina" and events like gathering tithes from converts to send to Jerusalem to allude to elements of the New Testament (ie. Paul's gathering of tithes for Jerusalem), so Josephus elsewhere uses a similar method to cryptically allude to major Christian figures and events.
    In his autobiography, Josephus wrote that from 16-19 years old, he was taught by a hermit, Banus, who lived in the wilderness, "used no other clothing than grew upon trees, 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..." The image of the bathing ascetic hermit teaching Josephus these ways brings to mind how Jesus was baptized by John "the Baptist" before beginning His ministry. Josephus might have focused on the name "Banus" because it resembles the Vulgar Latin terms "baneare" and "baneum" (meaning to bathe and a bath, respectively), or as it may refer to "Bannaim", which some scholars take to mean
Quote
"those who bathe," from the Judæo-Aramean word "banna'a," equivalent to the Greek βαλανεîον (bath). (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2447-bannaim)
Jewish Encyclopedia's article on "Bannaim" quotes a Mishnah that "Garments belonging to the Bannaim may not have a mud-stain even upon one side, because these people are very particular concerning the cleanliness of their clothing, and any such spot would prevent the purifying water from actually penetrating the garment as it is usually worn..." The article notes that "[I)t is highly probable that the word 'Bannaim' in the above-mentioned Mishnah means simply 'bathers'".
    He also records a time when he saw Jews crucified by the Romans, recognized three of his friends, and asked Titus to take them down, "so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician's hands, while the third recovered." Josephus, whose name is a Greek version of Yosef/Joseph, had a father named "Matthias", making his native Aramaic name Joseph "Bar Mattiyah". So Josephus' story about trying to save his three friends from the Romans, only one of whom survived, can recall how "Joseph of Arimathea" requested the body of Jesus from the Romans, so that Jesus, who rose again, and the two other convicts were taken down.
    Josephus' description of his jumping from the parapet brings to mind the story of the killing of James, thereby fitting the pattern of such Christian passages in the Antiquities corresponding to those in the Lives. This is because in the Antiquities, Josephus narrated the story of John the Baptist, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the killing of James. In the story of James' death in early Christian writings like Hegesippus', James orated at the Temple and was thrown down from its wall and stoned or clubbed. As Josephus explained in Antiquities, Book XX, James' killers took advantage of the Roman governor's absence in order to kill James, which implies that the Roman authorities' power had effectively been protecting James. Similarly, in the story of Josephus' escape with his guard James, Josephus had been making a speech on an elevated parapet, but then jumped down to avoid being killed by anti-Roman rebels, and was carried to safety by one "Herod." "Herod" carrying Josephus could also allude to the Herodian rulers supporting him, which would accord with Josephus' good relations with the more orderly or pro-peace faction in Tiberias in Sections 12-13 of his Vitae. There, Josephus describes how rebels burnt and looted Herod's palace, which "provoked" Josephus, who decided to retake the stolen goods and "resolved to preserve whatsoever came to my hand for the king."
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 01:57:24 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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JOSEPHUS' AGAINST APION
 
<<Why did some pagans falsely claim that Jews, and later Christians, worshiped the head of an ass, as opposed to that of another animal?>>
    In brief: The Egyptians reported that the Hyksos peoples who crossed the Sinai to conquer Egypt worshiped the god Seth, who was associated with asses/donkeys and the Canaanite god Baal. The Egyptians sometimes depicted the god Seth as having an ass's head, and the Greeks associated the god Dionysus with Middle Eastern gods and donkeys. When the pagans made the same calumny against Christians, it was naturally based on Christianity's origins in Judaism. Plus, there were heretical Sethian Christian Gnostics who worshiped Seth and associated him with a donkey. This is apparently reflected in early Sethian Gnostic graffiti showing a crucified human figure with a donkey's head.
 
    I raised the question because in Against Apion, Book II.7, Josephus refutes Apion's claim that the Jewish Temple had the head of an ass for worship:
Quote
Within this sanctuary Apion has the effrontery to assert that the Jews kept an ass's head, worshipping that animal and deeming it worthy of the deepest reverence ; the fact was disclosed, he maintains, on the occasion of the spoliation of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, when the head, made of gold and worth a high price, was discovered.
    ...
    Throughout our history we have kept the same laws, to which we are eternally faithful. Yet, notwithstanding the various calamities which our city, like others, has undergone, when the temple was occupied by successive conquerors, [Antiochus] the Pious, Pompey the Great, Licinius Crassus, most recently Titus Caesar, they found there nothing of the kind, but the purest type of religion... We Jews attribute no honour or virtue to asses... With us, as with other sensible people, asses are beasts that carry loads on their backs, and if they invade our threshing-floors and eat the corn, or stop short on the road, they are soundly beaten, as humble ministers for labour and agriculture.
 
    Editor's FOOTNOTE:
    Diodorus (xxxiv. frag.) states that Ant. Epiphanes found in the temple a statue of a bearded man ( = Moses) seated on an ass. The charge of ass-worship was afterwards transferred to the Christians (Tertull. Apol. 16).
    Antiochus Epiphanes is not reliable as an authority on whether the Temple held an ass's head, because he was a pagan conqueror who ruined the Temple. The ass's head in the story brings to mind how Egyptians often depicted the god Seth as having an ass's head, whereas Diodorus' report of a bearded man riding an ass brings to mind ancient characterizations of the bearded god Dionysus riding a donkey.
 
    An article in Haaretz, "Canaanites Imported Sacrificial Animals From Egypt, Archaeologists Find," reported archeologists' discovery of a ritually sacrificed donkey from 2700 BC in the Philistine city of Gath. The article also reported:
Quote
In fact, asses were hailed and sacrificed to the gods throughout the Near East. In Middle Bronze Age Mari texts, donkeys are sacrificed as part of the signing of treaties. In Late Bronze Age Ugarit, 70 asses were dispatched as part of the god Baal's funeral. In Egypt, the ass is one of the symbols of the god Seth, the god of Chaos. In the Old Testament, the son of the founding father of the city Shechem is named hamor, which means donkey in Hebrew (Gen. 33:18-43:31). Moreover, a donkey is given the power to talk by god in the story of Balaam (Num. 22).
    Further, the Encyclopedia Britannica reports that "During the rule of the Hyksos invaders (c. 1630–1521 BCE), Seth was worshipped at their capital, Avaris, in the northeastern Nile River delta, and was identified with the Canaanite storm god Baal." ("Seth", https://www.britannica.com/topic/Seth-Egyptian-god) The Hyksos were Semites and western Asians who invaded and conquered Egypt in c. 1640 BC. According to Wikipedia, in the Late Period of Egyptian culture (712-323 BC), the god Seth was depicted as a donkey or having a donkey's head.
 
    Josephus writes in Against Apion about Manetho's description connecting the Hyksos with the city of Avaris, which worshiped Seth (AKA "Typhon"):
   
Quote
Then Manetho continues as follows (I quote his account verbatim): "When the men in the stone-quarries had suffered hardships for a considerable time, they begged the king to assign to them as a dwelling-place and a refuge the deserted city of the Shepherds, Auaris, and he consented. According to religious tradition this city was from earliest times dedicated to Typhôn..." ...
    But let us now examine99 the most ridiculous part of the whole story. Although he had learned these facts, and conceived a dread of the future, the king did not, even then, expel from his land those cripples of whose taint he had previously been bidden to purge Egypt, but instead, at their request, he gave them as their city (Manetho says) the former habitation of the Shepherds, Auaris, as it was called.
 
    LOEB's FOOTNOTE #12:
    The Hyksôs brought with them from Asia their tribal god, which was assimilated by the Egyptian to Sêth, the god of foreign parts, of the desert, and of the enemy.
 
    SOURCE: LacusCurtius • Manetho's History of Egypt — Book II
    In turn, the Seth-worshiping Hyksos people of the 17th century BC could have been confused by some Egyptians with the Jews, who established their kingdom later but shared a common geography with the Hyksos' place of origin. Further, the Jews' ancestors may have been related to the Semitic Hyksos peoples.
   
    The Jewish Encyclopedia's article on "Ass-Worship" sees confusion over non-Jewish Seth-worship and pagan Dionysus worship as a source of the ass-worship calumny, since the Greeks characterized some Near Eastern cults as Dionysus worship:
   
Quote
Dionysos is identified with pretty nearly all Oriental deities, as, for example, with Moloch, Baal, Melkart, and Hadad. F. Lenormant says, therefore, in the "Dictionnaire des Antiquités," s.v. "Bacchus": "The disposition was so marked to identify the son of Semele (Bacchus) with the various deities of the Orientals that it was even pushed to the extreme of asserting that the Jews likewise worshiped Dionysos (Plutarch, 'Symposiaca,' iv. 6)..." The similarity of the names Sabaoth and Sabazios, and the existence of the golden vine in the Temple, were then sufficient to suggest to the heathens, who knew very little about Jewish worship, that the Jews, like many other nations, cherished some kind of a Dionysos-worship. It is known that the excessive hilarities at the so-called "Feast of the Water-Drawing" at the Festival of Tabernacles gave cause to the accusation that the Jews celebrated Bacchanalia...
    Now, the ass was sacred to Bacchus and an unfailing member of his train; the god is often represented as riding upon one. Note the alleged statue in Jerusalem of Moses riding upon an ass, mentioned above. The fables additionally connected with the asscult, such as the fattening of a Greek every seven years for an offering to the ass-god; the attempt of Zabid of Dora to rob the Jews of this god; Tacitus' story of the finding of the water-springs by the wild asses: all of them follow from the idea that the Jews worshiped Dionysos.
The Encyclopedia entry goes on to conclude that this ultimately derives from Seth worship:
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    Tacitus' story of the finding of the water-springs rests on a genuine Idumean narrative found in Gen. xxxvi. 24, according to which "'Anah (= the ass), son of Zibeon the Ḥorite, found the hot springs () in the wilderness while feeding the asses of his father." The whole story, accordingly, points to Idumæa, where the first ass-cult legend as told by Josephus ("Contra Ap." ii. 10) originated according to Mnaseas. Apollo, the god of the Idumean city of Dora, represented by Zabidus the Idumean, carrying the golden head of an ass at the battle of Dora, is Baal Anah, who probably became afterward the Gnostic god Anael. It was the identification of the Jews with the Hyksos by Manetho that occasioned the Jews to be accused of Ass-Worship—that is, Seth-Typhon worship. (SOURCE: Ass-Worship, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2027-ass-worship)
    The same article in the Jewish Encyclopedia comments about Sethian gnostics:
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it is quite true that the Christians accused some Gnostic sect of their own of Ass-Worship, and, it appears, with full justification. The supreme spirit is called Onoel (oνος, ass + el, God) by the Gnostics. According to the Gnostic work Гέννα Μαρίας (Epiphanius, "Hæres." xxvi. 12), Zachariah saw in a vision a man in the Temple at Jerusalem who had the form of an ass. Some Gnostics ascribed to the demon Sabaot an ass' shape, others that of a pig (ib. xxvi. 10).
    The article goes on to discuss what is apparently early heretical Sethian Gnostic Christian art that depicts a crucified figure with a donkey's head.
 
<<In Book II, Section 17, Josephus claims that unlike the other forms of government on earth, governments that execute the Mosaic Law are theocracies. Does this mean that the governments of Moses, King David, Solomon, and other Mosaic rulers were "theocracies", whereas Christian empires like Byzantium or Christian religious states like the Vatican were not?>>
He says that Moses ("our legislator") "ordained our government to be what, by a strained expression, may be termed a Theocracy, by ascribing the authority and the power to God". So Whiston comments in his footnote: "Josephus directly supposes the Jewish settlement, under Moses, to be a Divine settlement, and indeed no other than a real theocracy." So Josephus calls the Mosaic code a "theocracy" by "a strained expression", whereas other governments that we today call "theocracies" are not theocracies in the sense that Josephus used the term, ie. of direct rule by God over a nation.
 
<<How does the Torah/Law give commands about marriage that are not explicit in the Pentateuch? ie. How can Josephus say that the commands about marriage that he lists are part of the Law when most of those commands are not explicitly stated in the first five books of the TaNaKh? Perhaps Josephus would see them as implicit in the Torah, or else he would see them as part of the "Oral Torah"?>>
    In Josephus' understanding, such non-explicit commands about marriage would be implicit in the Torah. His views about this would have followed the pharisees, since he identified as a pharisee. They considered their "Oral Torah" to contain teachings and rules that were implicit in the Torah.
    In Book II, Section 17 of Against Apion, Josephus writes that Moses was the legislator of the Jewish laws:
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But our legislator, who made his actions agree to his laws, did not only prevail with those that were his contemporaries to agree with these his notions, but so firmly imprinted this faith in God upon all their posterity, that it never could be removed. The reason why the constitution of this legislation was ever better directed to the utility of all than other legislations were, is this, that Moses did not make religion a part of virtue, but he saw and he ordained other virtues to be parts of religion... But for our legislator, he very carefully joined these two methods of instruction together; for he neither left these practical exercises to go on without verbal instruction, nor did he permit the hearing of the law to proceed without the exercises for practice; but beginning immediately from the earliest infancy, and the appointment of every one's diet, he left nothing of the very smallest consequence to be done at the pleasure and disposal of the person himself.
    In Book II, Section 16, Josephus wrote about the immutability of Moses' laws:
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Since then this is the case, the excellency of a legislator is seen in providing for the people's living after the best manner, and in prevailing with those that are to use the laws he ordains for them, to have a good opinion of them, and in obliging the multitude to persevere in them, and to make no changes in them, neither in prosperity nor adversity.
    But in FOOTNOTE 21, Whiston notes that some of Moses' laws that Josephus describes are not in the Pentateuch: "...nor, as I think, can some of these laws, though generally excellent in their kind, be properly now found either in the copies of the Jewish Pentateuch, or in Philo, or in Josephus himself".
    In particular, when it comes to marriage, Josephus includes things in the Jewish Law that are not explicit in the written Biblical Torah. Here is Whiston's translation:
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25. But, then, what are our laws about marriage? That law owns no other mixture of sexes but that which nature hath appointed, of a man with his wife, and that this be used only for the procreation of children. But it abhors the mixture of a male with a male; and if any one do that, death is its punishment. It commands us also, when we marry, not to have regard to portion, nor to take a woman by violence, nor to persuade her deceitfully and knavishly; but to demand her in marriage of him who hath power to dispose of her, and is fit to give her away by the nearness of his kindred; for, says the Scripture, "A woman is inferior to her husband in all things." (23)
 
    Whiston's FOOTNOTE #23: This text is no where in our present copies of the Old Testament.
    The statement that "A woman is inferior to her husband in all things" is not explicit in the Bible. I think that Whiston misread him as if Josephus meant that the TaNaKh stated this explicitly when Whiston put quotation marks around Josephus' words.
    Loeb's Translation puts this part of the passage as if "the woman" in the sentence could be referring to the woman whom he described in the previous sentence, ie. the wife in a married relationship:
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It commands us, in taking a wife, not to be influenced by dowry, not to carry off a woman by force, nor yet to win her by guile and deceit, but to sue from him who is not ineligible on account of nearness of kin.[D] The woman, says the law, is in all things inferior to the man.
    Loeb's Footnote [D]: For the forbidden marriages of near of kin Lev. xviii. 6 ff.; the other injunctions in this sentence rest on tradition.
    Either Josephus was talking about the Torah's principles regarding married women in relation to their husbands, or Josephus could have read this into the first woman, Eve, being made after the first man, Adam. And he could have read this into God's decision about "the woman" in the story of their Fall in the Garden of Eden, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
 
    Dan C., a Messianic Jew, explained to me about laws in Judaism that belong to the Oral Law but are not explicit in the Pentateuch:
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Torah itself is immutable and unchanging; season to season, place to place, time to time, and person to person it remains the same. However God was smart enough to know what legislators and religious leaders tend to forget; that no law or set of instructions can cover every contingency. Enter the Oral Law (henceforth the OL). At times even instructions in Torah will clash as situations arise which, if you obey one the other will be transgressed. So there is a hierarchy to the mitzvoth (commandments), and that can change depending on circumstances. The OL helped give guidance in these situations. And as times, customs, and circumstances varried things came up that Torah did not address. [Such a case came up regarding the Torah's rule about observing holy days when] Nasi Hillel oversaw the implementation of the calendar which bears his name, and which even today almost all Judaism follows. It was actually the work of astronomers and mathematicians working in response to the Jews living in the diaspora and not being allowed into Jerusalem to make the lunar observations necessary to establish the days. [Oral Law] can NEVER add to or change in any way what is written in torah. It can explain it, place fences on it, even tell you what is most important in it in any situation. But it cannot change it.
    So for example, whereas Josephus writes that the Law "commands" that Jews not "take a woman by violence, nor to persuade her deceitfully and knavishly", Dan C. writes that these commands "are in torah in principle if not outright commandments."
    Also, to clarify, what Josephus meant in general was that the commands were in the Law either explicitly or implicitly. Some of them were stated in rabbinical rulings, the Oral Law, but some of them apparently were only what Josephus read into the Torah's principles.
 
<<What does Josephus mean in Book II, Section 24 about the union of soul and body creating suffering?>>
    Josephus sometimes puts Jewish religious concepts in Hellenistic terms in order to appeal to a Hellenistic audience. For example, he compares the Pharisees to the Stoics, puts God's providence in terms of fate, and describes resurrection in terms of souls entering new bodies, which is reminiscient of reincarnation, a concept from the Near East familiar to the Greek world.
    So when he talked about the union of soul and body creating suffering, he was likely talking about the concept of people suffering in their earthly, fleshly state, resulting from the Fall in the Garden of Eden, and he put this concept in Hellenistic terms that alluded to the Platonic concept of the immaterial soul suffering as a result of being implanted in matter.
    In Book II, Section 24, Josephus writes:
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Loeb's translation:
    Even after the legitimate relations of husband and wife ablations are required. For the Law regards this act as involving a partition of the soul [part of it going] into another place(C); for it suffers both when being implanted in bodies,(D) and again when severed from them by death. That is why the Law has enjoined purificiations in all such cases.
 
    Loeb's Footnotes:
    C) "There is transference of part of the soul or life-principle from the father." I am indebted for this explanation of an obscure passage to Dr. T.E.Page.
    D) An Essene (and Platonic) view; cf B ii. 154 f.
 
    Whiston's translation (which numbers this passage as part of Section 25):
    Moreover, the law enjoins, that after the man and wife have lain together in a regular way, they shall bathe themselves; for there is a defilement contracted thereby, both in soul and body, as if they had gone into another country; for indeed the soul, by being united to the body, is subject to miseries, and is not freed therefrom again but by death; on which account the law requires this purification to be entirely performed.
   
    A.V. Vdovichenko's translation of the key sentence runs [per my translation from Russian]:
    For the soul, staying in the body, suffers, and with the arrival of death is again at that time separated from it.
    FOOTNOTE 135: The conception worked out by Platon in the dialogue "Phaedon" about the body as the prison of the soul. Also Wars of the Jews II. 8, 7; VII. 8,7.
    Wars of the Jews II.154, cited in Loeb's Footnote (D) above, says about the Essenes:
   
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For it is a fixed belief of theirs that the body is corruptible and its constituent matter impermanent, but that the soul is immortak and imperishable.(A) Emanating from the finest ether, these souls become entangled as it were, in the prison-house of the body, to which they are dragged down by a sort of natural spell; but when once they are released from the bonds of the flesh, then, as though liberated from a long servitude, they rejoice and are borne aloft.
    FOOTNOTE A.: Cf. A xviii. 18.
    Antiquities xviii. 18. (cited in Footnote A above) summarizes the beliefs of the Essenes, mentioning that they believe in the immortality of the soul.
    Asteriktos correctly suggested that Josephus' passage in Against Apion could refer to how at the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humans were clothed (both figuratively and literally) with "garments of skin" and became subject to physical suffering and death.
    In Genesis 3, God told Adam that the ground became cursed, and that Adam would eat from it in sorrow, meanwhile noting that Adam himself came from dust:
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Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
    Asteriktos quoted the Orthodox writer Panayiotis Nellas' comparison of the bodies of Adam and Eve before and after the fall:
   
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The first man, according to the succinct expression of St Gregory the Theologian, was "naked by virtue of his simplicity." [102] This means, as St Maximos explains, that his body did not contain within it the mutually contradictory "qualities" which now pull it in different directions, scourge it with corruption and make it decay, but it possessed "another temperament which befitted it, a temperament maintained by simple qualities compatible with each other." It was "without flux or wastage," free from "constant change depending on which quality was predominant," and for this reason was not bereft "of immortality by grace." [103] If we understand the "nakedness" as transparency, we can say that the body of Adam was so simple that it was in reality transparent, open to the material creation without resisting it in any way, and without the world offering any resistance to the body--the world had been surrendered to it. The human body, while maintaining its own peculiar constitution and separate identity with regard to the world, was nevertheless not divided from it at all.
    [102] St Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 45, 8, PG 36, 632C
    [103] St Maximos the Confessor, Ambigua, PG 91, 1353AB
    -- Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, pp. 52-53
    The concept of the soul suffering in earth also shows up in II Clement ("For man is earth in a suffering state, for the formation of Adam was from the face of the earth."), where it apparently points to Gen. 3:16. Although Josephus, as a Jew, is thinking of the Biblical understanding of man suffering in flesh from the dust as a result of the Fall, it still looks like he is putting it in a Greek, Platonic way, wherein the union of the soul and the material body causes suffering, and the soul is "freed" from the material body at death. His explanation for the soul's suffering in the body is that it undergoes partition (eg. from its source) when implanted in the body and (per Loeb's translation) when separated from the body. By comparison, in the Biblical understanding, the cause of suffering in the flesh is the Fall and its results, which include physical death. Josephus was not rejecting the Biblical explanation, but nor did he state it in this passage.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2019, 11:40:53 AM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #269 on: November 08, 2019, 01:17:10 AM »
MORE NOTES ON JOSEPHUS' "WARS OF THE JEWS" AND HIS "LIFE":

An important factor in whether people could find eyewitnesses to Jesus or the apostles long after their preaching is the life span of Judeans in the first century.
In this regard, it is worth noting that in Book II of his Wars of the Jews, Josephus writes about the Essenes (per Thackeray's translation): "They live to a great age-most of them to upwards of a century-in consequence, I imagine, of the simplicity and regularity of their mode of life." (Whiston translates "upwards of" as "more than".)
A person who lived as long as Josephus said that most of the Essenes did, was 15 years old in 33 AD and knew Jesus at that time would have been born in 18 AD. Such a person would live more than a century, ie. he/she would live past 118 AD. Nonetheless, to live over a century is rare even in our modern time, so it seems that this was an exaggeration.

Let me also correct a comment in my notes on Josephus' Life.
In commenting on Josephus' dedication of his Life to Epaphroditus, I wrote:
Do you think the Epaphroditus addressed by Paul and Josephus are the same? That would fit in with the seeming Christian references in Josephus' works, as well as the main Latin version we have of the passage in the Antiquities calling Jesus "Christ".
In fact, the Latin version of the Testimonium actually says, "He was believed to be the Christ". (SOURCE: http://historical-jesus.info/appe.html)
The surviving Greek version of the Testimonium states directly that He (Jesus) was the Christ, which in turn suggests that Josephus himself believed that Jesus was the Christ. But the Latin version's statement simply that "He was believed to be the Christ" is more neutral and only entails that people believed it, not that Josephus himself believed it.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 01:19:55 AM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20