Author Topic: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity  (Read 55970 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #270 on: November 09, 2019, 02:42:07 PM »

<<Does Magog refer to southern Russia, when Josephus writes anout him in Book 1?>>

   Yes, among other places inhabited by the Scythians. In Book I, Josephus wrote: "Japheth, son of Noah, had seven sons. ... Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who by the Greeks are called Scythians."
   According to Wikipedia's article for the "Scythians", they lived on the Pontic steppe:
The Scythians... were a nomadic people who dominated the Pontic steppe from about the 7th century BC up until the 3rd century BC...
   They made a resurgence in the 1st century AD and laid siege to Chersonesos, who were obliged to seek help from the Roman Empire. ... The most important site of the Late Crimean culture is Scythian Neaoplis, which was located in Crimea and served as the capital of the Late Scythian kingdom from the early 2nd century BC to the beginning of the 3rd century AD.
   The territory of the Scythae Basilaei ("Royal Scyths") along the north shore of the Black Sea around 125 AD
   According to Wikipedia's article on the Pontic Steppe:   
The Pontic–Caspian steppe, Pontic steppe, or Ukrainian steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the northern shores of the Black Sea (called Euxeinos Pontos [Εὔξεινος Πόντος] in antiquity) as far east as the Caspian Sea, from Dobruja in the northeastern corner of Bulgaria and southeastern Romania, through Moldova and eastern Ukraine across Russian Northern Caucasus, Southern and lower Volga regions to western Kazakhstan, forming part of the larger Eurasian steppe, adjacent to the Kazakh steppe to the east.
   The Wikipedia article on "Scythia" says:
Scythia was a region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity, occupied by the Eastern Iranian Scythians,[1][3][4] encompassing Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe east of the Vistula River, with the eastern edges of the region vaguely defined by the Greeks. The Ancient Greeks gave the name Scythia (or Great Scythia) to all the lands north-east of Europe and the northern coast of the Black Sea.
   However, Biblically, Magog's land was in Turkey, northern Assyria, or northern Syria. Ezekiel 38:2 refers to "Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal". According to Wikipedia's entry on "Meshech," Meshech refers to the Mosocheni in Cappadocia in central modern Turkey. It says:
Meshech is named with Tubal (and Rosh, in certain translations) as principalities of 'Gog, prince of Magog' in Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, and is considered a Japhetite tribe, identified by Flavius Josephus with the Cappadocian "Mosocheni" (Mushki, also associated with Phrygians or Bryges) and their capital Mazaca.
   The Wikipedia entry on "Tubal" associates Tubal with modern Turkey, especially its southern part:
Modern scholarship has identified the biblical Tubal with Tabal, an Anatolian state and region mentioned in Assyrian sources. Tabal was a post-Hittite Luwian state in Asia Minor in the 1st millennium BC. Its neighbours, the Mushki, are traditionally associated with Meshech.[3] Some historians[who?] further connect Tabal and Tubal with the tribe on the Black Sea coast later known to the Greeks as Tibareni, though this identification is uncertain. The Tibareni and other related tribes, the Chalybes (Khalib/Khaldi) and the Mossynoeci (Mossynoikoi in Greek), were sometimes considered the founders of metallurgy. Most reference books, following Flavius Josephus, identify Tubal in Ezekiel's time as an area that is now in Turkey.

<<Does Abraham's wife Sarah's laughing "inside herself" cryptically prefigure the process of the Messiah's virgin birth? Or is laughing inside oneself a Hebrew expression equivalent to "laughing quietly to oneself" in modern English?>>
   It doesn't prefigure the process of conception or birth, because Sarah laughed within herself at hearing the prediction of Isaac's birth, which she heard before she conceived. It is more like a way of saying that she laughed to herself.
   Book 1, Chapter 11:2 of the Antiquities says:
   Thereat the woman smiled[e] and said that child-bearing was impossible, seeing that she was ninety years old and her husband an hundred; whereupon they could maintain dissimulation no longer but confessed themselves messengers of God, of whom one had been sent to announce the news of the child and the other two to destroy the Sodomites.

   [E] Gen. "Laughed within herself."
   Isaac was born of a mother in a birth that was not naturally expected. Sarra was such an old woman that she did not think she could give birth. It was a miracle that the three divine beings told her about. Hearing that she would give birth made her "laugh inside her", or as the Hebrew of Genesis 18:12 says, "Sarah laughed within herself." This in turn made her name the child after the word "laughter".
   In his lecture "Typology of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, Gen. 12-22", Dr. Lawrence Feingold sees Sarah's birth of Isaac as prefiguring Mary's birth of Christ:
Isaac’s miraculous birth according to God’s promise from a woman both barren and greatly advanced in age is clearly a type of Christ’s birth from a Virgin. As Isaac is a type of Christ, so Sarah is a type of Mary and her virginal conception.
   A not infrequent theme of the Old Testament is pairs of women, one infertile and the other fertile: Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, Hannah and Peninnah. In each case the promise is given to the infertile woman... Isaac’s very name is connected to his being a type of Christ. “Isaac” means “laughter,” for Sara laughed incredu-lously when the angel told her that she would conceive. Isaac is appropriately named for laughter, for he brought the supernatural joy of the fulfillment of God’s promise against all appearances. The Fathers see Isaac’s name as a type of the supernatural joy brought into the world by Christ and the Gospel, promised so many centuries before.
   Some reasons that her laughing wasn't a metaphor for conception are that: Abraham also laughed, but he didn't perform a miraculous birth. Sarah laughed at the news, but not when the Lord made her conceive. In Gen 18, verse 14, after Sarah laughed God said to Abraham, "At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
   Instead, the laughter alludes to her humor and the unlikelihood of the birth, and the unlikelihood in turn alludes to Mary's birth of Jesus. Isaac's name means "He laughs", Abraham laughed when he heard that Sarah would bear a son, and Sarah laughed within herself when she heard the news. In Genesis 21,"Sarah said, 'God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.'" Everyone can normally share in Sara's joy, but not everyone can normally have a conception at her age.

<<The stories of Ishmael's circumcision and rejection by Abraham are confusing as to Ishmael's age. How to reconcile them? Circumcision in the Bible was God's special covenant with Abraham, so if Ishmael got rejected by Abraham at a very young age, how did Ishmael get circumcised at 13?>>
Josephus writes in Book I, Chapter 12 about Ishmael's age at the time of his rejection by Araham when Ishmael's mother Hagar was caring for him: "...she laid the little child, expiring, under a fir-tree and went...."
The Egyptians and others used circumcision before even the Abrahamic covenant, and so as Voluntt said:
My guess is Hagar believed in it just as much as Abraham and whoever took them in (and presumably married her/adopted Ishmael) agreed to do it when she asked him. Then Ishmael did it to his sons, then...

<<Was the angel whom Jacob wrestled a good angel or a bad one (eg. a demon)?>>
   He was a good angel, and likely was also God taking on the form of an angel or of a man. Here is Josephus' telling of Jacob wrestling with the angel:
when they had crossed a torrent called Jabacchos, Jacob, being left behind, encountered a phantom, wrestled with it and overcame it. The struggle had been begun by the spectre, which now found a tongue and addressed him, bidding him rejoice in his achievement and not to imagine that it was a puny adversary whom he had mastered : he had defeated an angel of God and should deem this victory an omen of great blessings to come and an assurance that his race would never be extinguished and that no mortal man would surpass him in strength. He moreover bade him take the name of Israel, which in the Hebrew tongue denotes the opponent of an angel of God. ...
   The apparition, having thus spoken, vanished; and Jacob, delighted with the vision, named the place Phanuel," that is to say, " the face of God." And because in the contest he had suffered injury near the broad sinew,^ he himself abstained from eating that sinew, and for his sake we too are forbidden to eat of it.
   Genesis 32 calls the angel a man, but otherwise makes it sound like the angel was God:   
Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
   Jacob asking for a blessing makes it sound like the angel was good, the angel's declaration that Jacob has strived with God and men makes it sound like the angel was God, as does Jacob's declaration that he saw God face to face. Plus, the Bible does not counter Jacob's statement that he saw God. That the incident resulted in the name Israel, which can mean "Struggles with God" is further evidence that the angel was God. In his commentary on the Biblical passage, Russian theologian Alexander Lopuhin writes that Jacob's ongoing limp served as a reminder that Jacob's victory was only due to the secret Wrestler's condescension. He sees Jacob's wrestling as a having a component reflecting Jacob's persistence in faith despite hardships.
   In his essay "What prompted Jacob to wrestle an angel?" (in the Times of Israel, November 2018), Israel Drazin theorizes why the angel wrestled with Jacob:
Jacob had reached the Wadi Jabbok on his return home after an absence from Canaan of some twenty years. He was about to face his brother Esau who had wanted to kill him twenty years earlier as revenge for Jacob taking the blessing that their father Isaac intended to give to Esau. During the night, Jacob took his family across the Wadi Jabbok and entered Canaan. Then he returned to the other side where he was alone. While there, “a man wrestled with him until the break of day. ..."
   Rashbam [Rashi’s grandson] states that the angel was preventing Jacob from abandoning his resolution and fleeing Canaan because of his fear of Esau. By stopping the flight, God was able to fulfill the divine promise to Jacob that Esau would not harm him.
   In Genesis 31, God told Jacob to return home, which would entail crossing paths with his brother Esau again: "And the Lord said unto Jacob, 'Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.'" Then in Genesis 32:10-12, Jacob says that he is unworthy of God's mercies because he divided his herd and followers, sending one group to Esau and telling the other to flee if Esau attacks the first group. He prays:
10. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
Next, Genesis 32 says about how he went over the brook Jabok, meaning crooked - perhaps alluding to his thigh getting hurt, with his family and then sent them back:
22. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 23. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
So God had promised Jacob that his descendants would greatly multiply and told Jacob to go to his kindred (eg. Esau), but Jacob was dividing his forces and fleeing across the brook. So the angel was effectively stopping Jacob from continuing to flee against God's order.
   Further, since Hosea said that God punished Jacob according to his deed, and since Jacob wrestled Esau in the womb and grabbed Esau's leg, it seems that the angel wrestling Jacob and attacking his leg in response to Jacob's wrestling Esau. Hosea 12 says:
2. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4. Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;
   David Stratton theorizes on Stack Exchange that Jacob was not especially moral before the wrestling and that it was a test of faith:
Jacob wasn't "good" by any means. If you look at Jacob before this, he has stolen the blessing that was Esau's birthright. (Genesis 27). He had several children with women he didn't love, and was certainly no great father to them. (Genesis 30-31). By the time he wrestled with this angel (or with God depending on the translation - I'm going to stick with God) in chapter 32 starting in verse 24, he'd pretty much shown that he was not a "good" man at all. Yet, God chose him to the the father of the nation of Israel...
   Jacob was injured - he was disabled by a mere touch, to show that God is powerful and compared to God, he is nothing. Whether he was "seriously injured" depends on whether or not you consider a dislocated hip "seriously injured". Yet, knowing full well that he was nothing, Jacob did something brave and remarkable. He refused to give up until God gave him a blessing. He continued to fight, but now it was for God, not against God. I believe that the reason for the encounter was to ensure that Jacob, who became Israel afterward, had the correct motivation, heart, and attitude toward God. it was a lesson in humility, and Jacob responded by a show of faith and longing for God.

<<If the twelve tribes of Israel are named after Jacob's 12 sons, then is there a group or legacy left in the wake of his daughter Dinah? Women traditionally did not inherit wealth AFAIK if there were sons.>>
The patriarch Joseph married Dinah's granddaughter Osnat, who gave birth to Manasseh and Ephraim, which became the names for two of Israel's Tribes.

<<Supposing that Josephus deliberately includes cryptic allusions to Jesus in the Antiquities, does he do so in the story of Joseph and Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker? Besides Josephus' own retelling, does the Biblical story allude to the Eucharist or to Christ's Passion and resurrection? And why should bread or the baker's profession be associated with a tragic fate in the story?>>
   The Biblical story of Joseph's enslavement, imprisonment with Pharaoh's servants, redemption, and raising in rank have so many coincidences with Jesus' story that Joseph's story serves as a prefigurement, including of the Eucharist, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Josephus was basically retelling the story, except that he changed the Baker's execution into a crucifixion, which he probably did either because he saw the execution as a prefigurement, or in order to make the execution method more familiar to his 1st century audience, or for both reasons.
   To give an example of a possible allusion in Josephus' writings to Jesus' story, there is a potential connection in Josephus' autobiography between Josephus Bar Matthiyu's request that the Romans take down his three Jewish friends who were crucified during the Jewish revolt and the Biblical story of Joseph of Arimathea requesting the body of Jesus who had been crucified between two criminals, one being a rebel. Here is the passage in Josephus' Life:
And when I was sent by Titus Caesar with Cerealins, and a thousand horsemen, to a certain village called Thecoa, in order to know whether it were a place fit for a camp, as I came back, I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; 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 was not writing about Jesus directly in the passage above, since Jesus was crucified in 33 AD, and Josephus' freeing of his three friends occurred in the 70's AD.
   Joseph Atwill writes about numerous connections that he sees between Josephus' writing and the Gospel stories in his book Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. He includes a table listing coincidences and common themes like:
In Jesus' Ministry: At Jerusalem, the 'Son of Mary' offers his flesh to be eaten'; in Titus' Campaign: At Jerusalem, describes a son of Mary whose flesh is eaten.
Atwil writes:
Jesus foresees a martyr's death for Simon at Rome but spares John at conclusion of ministry; Titus sends Simon to a martyr's death at Rome but spares John at conclusion of campaign.
   The Gospels' stories concerning fishing for men, a legion of demons coming out of one man to infect many, a human Passover lamb, three crucified one survivies, and a conclusion where Simon is condemned and John spared, can be seen as satirizing very few works of literature. It is, therefore, quite implausible that the New Testament describes, by chance, so many episodes that can be seen as satirizing the events in a single book. ...
   Further, a 'Joseph of Arimathea' arranged for both survivors to be taken down from the cross. This is to say that the last names of the two Josephs- 'Josephus Bar Matthias' and 'Joseph of Arimathea' are homophonically similar. 'Arimathea' is an obvious play on Josephus' last name, 'Bar Matthias,' which is quite similar to the 'Iscariot/Sicarii' pun noted [earlier in Atwil's book]. THe Gospel of Barnabas, a noncanonical Gospel from the middle ages, does not even bother with this word play and states that the name of the individual who took Jesus down from the cross was 'Joseph of Barimathea.' 'Joseph of Arimathea' is also identified as the 'type' of Josephus bar Matthias by his job description-counsellor. (Luke 23:50)
   Atwil also sees Josephus' story of saving his friend from crucifixion as having a chronological placement in Josephus' narrative analogous to the placement of Jesus being taken down from the cross in the Gospels. Although I don't agree with Atwil's theory that the Romans invented Jesus, I do think that Josephus occasionally deliberately included Christian images and themes in his writings, and that this explains the numerous coincidences that Atwil sees.
   Josephus' changing of the method of the Baker's death would fit a pattern of including cryptic allusions to Christ in his writings. But it would also fit his practice of retelling ideas in Jewish traditions in terms more familiar to his gentile audience (eg. his explanation of Resurrection in a way that sounds like Reincarnation - ie the resurrected people acquiring new bodies). Since Josephus didn't explain why he changed the Baker's fate into crucifixion, and since he doesn't have a pattern of specifically changing the Old Testament stories to make them more Christian, it is hard to judge his motives in this case. He knew that Christ was crucified, and he might have known that Joseph's story in the Bible was a Christian prefigurement. In fact, the Baker's execution served as a prefigurement of Christ's bodily death within the scheme of this prefigurement. But it is very ambiguous whether Josephus was alluding to Christ when he changed the manner of his death to exactly match Christ's.
   The story of the wine cupbearer's and bread baker's dreams has elements common to the Eucharist and three day death and resurrection theme. This is because (A) their dreams and professions involve wine and bread, and (B) the dreams meant that in three days the servants would receive either freedom or death. In Josephus' narrative, the baker tells Joseph:
"that I was carrying three baskets upon my head, two filled with loaves, and the third with dainties and divers meats such as are prepared for kings, when birds flew down and devoured them all, heedless of my efforts to scare them away."
   He was expecting a prediction similar to that made to the butler ; but Joseph, grasping on reflexion the import of the dream, after assuring him that he could have wished to have good news to interpret to him and not such as the dream disclosed to his mind, told him that he had in all but two days yet to live (the baskets indicated that), and that on the third day he would be crucified and become food for the fowls, utterly powerless to defend himself.
   Since the wine and bread allude to the Eucharist, which in turn has meanings of blood and body, the two servants' opposite fates are an allusion to the teaching that "the life is in the blood" (Lev 17:11).
   The abstract for Abdulla Galadari's article "Joseph and Jesus: Unearthing Symbolisms within the Bible and the Qur’an" gives an impressive explanation of correlations:
Joseph had been left in a pit (cistern) by his brethren. He was taken out by a caravan and sold for twenty pieces of silver. Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. In Egypt, Joseph enters the prison, which is described in the Bible also as a pit (cistern). Two others enter the prison with him, the cupbearer and the baker. Jesus is also crucified with two thieves. The cupbearer and the baker have similarities to the Last Supper, as Jesus distributes bread and wine. By interpreting their respective dreams, Joseph tells the cupbearer that he will be restored to his position in three days, while the baker will be crucified. Jesus informs one of the thieves that he will be with him in his kingdom, implying that one of the thieves is saved, while the other is not. In the story of Joseph, the fulfillment of the dreams occurred after three days, which coincided with Pharaoh’s birthday. After crucifixion, Jesus enters a pit of grave, which is also described as a prison by Peter in the Bible, and is fulfilled in three days when he is resurrected. Joseph asks the cupbearer to remember him when he returns to Pharaoh, but the cupbearer forgets. One of the thieves asks Jesus to remember him when he returns to his kingdom, and Jesus promises him that they will be together.
   So the execution of the baker is correlated with that of the murderer on Jesus' left. The article itself says:
The king’s chief cupbearer and chief baker also enter the prison with Joseph. This symbolizes the Last Supper, when Jesus gives bread and wine to his disciples. Also, as Josephenters prison with two individuals [Genesis 40:2 – 3], so was Jesus crucified with two thieves[Mark 15:27]. Joseph interprets the cupbearer’s dream as that he will be restored back to hisposition in three days. However, to the baker, he interprets his dream as that he will be crucified [Genesis 40:12 – 13, 18 – 19]. The usage of this symbology is important. Jesus symbolized wine as blood [Matthew 26:28]. In the Torah, blood is life [Leviticus 17:14]. Hence,the cupbearer was to live. Jesus symbolized his flesh as bread [Matthew 26:26]. Bread isbroken symbolizing the destruction of the flesh. Hence, the baker was crucified. The Hebrew Bible uses the word (lachm) for bread, which means both bread and flesh (meat). ...
When Jesus symbolizes wine and bread, the same symbology of the cupbearer and the baker is made, but instead of it being fulfilled in two different individuals, it is being fulfilledin one. The wine is blood, which is life, and life is the opposite of death. Therefore, Jesus,as Life, cannot truly die, as the cupbearer. The bread is flesh, which is crucified and destroyedunto death, as the baker. Hence, the Gospels speak of Jesus’ crucifixion, which is true, as itis talking about the destruction of his flesh, as the baker.
   As for why the Baker was the one killed, in Genesis 40, after the Butler/Cupbearer tells Joseph his dream, the text says:
16. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three [c]white baskets on my head.
   One could theorize that first the Butler gave his story because he trusted Joseph, and it was only after hearing that the news was good that the Baker gave his story, so the Butler was more trusting and thus favored.
   The "Let’s Talk Scriptures" Blog's Bible Study on "Joseph and The Holy Communion" says:
The cup bearer represented the wine, which is the blood of Jesus. The Baker represented the bread which is the body of Jesus.
The blog article sees a connection between the cupbearer raised to present the cup to Pharaoh in three days and Hebrews 9:22,24, wherein everything is purified by blood, and "Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." The article continues:
The baker was to die, just as the bread must be broken. This showed that the body of Christ would be hung, as the perfect sacrifice to pay for sins committed by all mankind.
   Hebrews 10:10 (ESV)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
   But let’s look at something interesting. The baker died and that was it, yet the cupbearer lived on before pharaoh and it was the testimony of the cup bearer that got Joseph out of prison... The baker died, that’s the sacrifice of the body of Christ which was given once and for all. Yet the blood continues to testify on our behalf. And it is that blood that brings our redemption
   Hebrews 12:24 (ESV)  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

<<Why does the meaning of the Hebrew name that Josephus says that Pharaoh gave Joseph (Discoverer of Secrets) differ so much from the meaning of the Biblical Egyptian version (Zaphnath-Paaneah), which Josephus himself seems to recognize?>>
Such a difference would reflect that the exact meaning was lost in course of over a millenium. Nonetheless, it looks like Josephus was approximately correct, because it looks like Zaphnath-Paaneah includes a combination of Hebrew words for Hide and Uncover, as well as the suffix -enath from his wife's name.
   In Genesis 41, Pharaoh remarks favorably about Joseph's success in dream interpretation:
38. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
   39. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.
   Pharaoh gave Joseph presents and powers of rulership, saying:
44. ...“I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
   45. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.
   Pharaoh's repeated characterization of Joseph as blessed by God suggests to me that later when Pharaoh gives him a name it could incorporate a reference to God. The context of Pharaoh's compliments also points to Joseph's name including a reference to his role as discovering secrets, like the meaning of dreams.
   The Wikipedia entry on Joseph's Egyptian name says that Jewish traditions in Targum Onkelos, Targuhum Pseudo-Jonathan, and Josephus interpret the name to mean the revealer/finder of mysteries, or one to whom mysteries are revealed.
   So both the context for the name's meaning and the Jewish traditions agree with Josephus' explanation about the name. Here is how Josephus tells the story:
He [ie. Joseph] had now completed his thirtieth year and Joseph's was in the enjoyment of every honour at the hand of the king, who called him Psonthomphanech(os), in view of his amazing intelligence, that name signifying " Discoverer of Secrets."
   Thackeray's Note:
   Heb. Zaphenath-paneah. The interpretation here given of the Hebrew form of the name (the first half of which was connected with Heb. zdphan, " to hide ") recurs in the Syriac version and in the Targum of Onkelos. The meaning of the underlying Egyptian name is uncertain.
   What I meant as the difference between Josephus' explanation for the name and the real meaning that even Josephus seemed to recognize was that the real meaning seemed to include a reference to God. I said this because Josephus writes that Joseph's brother Judah later made a speech to Joseph suggesting that Joseph shared a name with God:
...thou already rejoicest in that title and wilt be preserved in unimpaired possession of it by God, who is the Father of all ; since, in virtue of that name that thou thyself sharest with Him, it will be deemed an act of piety towards Him to take pity on our father...
   I took this to mean that Joseph's name included an Egyptian word for God, which is something that some scholars interpret to be in Josephus' name. But Judah's speech could also mean that Joseph's name as also a title for God, as in God being a "Revealer of Secrets."
   Joseph's name could have taken its middle part, -enath, from the name of his Egyptian wife Asenath. Scholars theorize that -enath could refer to Neith, the Egyptian goddess of the heavens (which could fit with the idea of his name as containing a divine name), or that the name Asenath was a female counterpart of the Egyptian male name Afenat.
   Tyson Thome theorizes on the Think-biblically website that Zaphnath-Paaneah (צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ Ṣāfnaṯ Paʿnēaḫ) is related to the Hebrew words צפן פִּעְנֵחַ (tsaphan paneach), meaning to hide & to interpret. This would go along with Josephus' explanation that the name meant "Discoverer of Secrets."
The name Zaphenath-Paneah that was given to Joseph, can be derived from the Hebrew roots: צפן פִּעְנֵחַ (tsaphan and paneach). Tsaphan means “to hide, treasure or store up”. Paneach means “to decipher; solve; decode, interpret”. Thus, Zaphenath-Pa’neach, Joseph’s Egyptian name, might be translated as, “He who explains hidden things”.
   So whereas Egyptologists have not been able to find a clear meaning for the name as an Egyptian word, the context and the closest known Hebrew words fit together to point to something like Josephus' explanation, "Discoverer of Secrets."   
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 02:43:02 PM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #271 on: November 10, 2019, 08:06:48 PM »

<<Does Josephus' description of  the Ten Commandments' two tablets mean that on the front cover there were two and a half commandments, and then 5 commandments on the inside cover? The total would be 15 commandments, so that would sound wrong. What does OPISTHOGRAPHA mean, and how would you translate the underlined part that M. Weill renders "deux et demie par colonne"?>>
Josephus' description is apparently saying that he put 2 1/2 commandments on each face of the two tablets, implying that each tablet had two faces.
   Here is Loeb's edition of Book 3 of the Antiquities, wherein Josephus records details about the tablets of the 10 Commandments that are not in the Bible:
ταύτῃ τὰς δύο πλάκας, ἐν αἷς τοὺς δέκα λόγους συγγεγράφθαι συμβεβήκει ἀνὰ πέντε μὲν εἰς ἑκατέραν ἀνὰ δύο δὲ καὶ ἥμισυ κατὰ μέτωπον, ἐγκατέθετο. καὶ ταύτην ἐν τῷ ἀδύτῳ κατατίθησιν.
   To the cover were affixed two figures, (Ex. xxv.) " cherubs " as the Hebrews call them—winged creatures these, but in form unlike to any that man's eyes have seen, and Moses says that he saw them sculptured upon the throne of God.(Footnote A) Within this ark he deposited the two tables, whereon had been recorded the ten commandments, five on each of them, and two and a half on either face.(FOOTNOTE B) The ark itself he laid up in the sanctuary.
   Thackeray's footnotes
   (A) Not in the Pentateuch, nor apparently (to judge from M. Weill's silence) in any known Rabbinical tradition. Perhaps,
as suggested by M. Weill, a reminiscence of Ezekiel's vision, in which cherubim uphold the firmament which supports God's throne (Ezek. x. 1).
   (B) The tables being regarded as OPISTHOGRAPHA. For this last detail no parallel has been found in Rabbinical tradition for "five on each" cf. § 101 note. M. Weill, however, renders "deux et demie par colonne."
   According to the webpage , opisthograph means "a manuscript, parchment, or book having writing on both sides of the leaves." Since it has an "a" at the end in Loeb's footnote, Loeb's is putting the term in the Greek plural. (eg. the plural of "autograph" in Greek is "autographa")
   Weill's phrase "Deux et demie par colonne" means "Two and a half per column" when translated from French.
   The phrase "δύο δὲ καὶ ἥμισυ κατὰ μέτωπον," must mean "two and a half per face". The word "μέτωπον" literally means "between the eyes." So in the Book of Revelation it is used to mean "forehead." On the Greek Textkit forum, Jeidsath writes: "Looking through all of Josephus' uses of μέτωπον, which he uses to mean geometric "face" or "front" a great number of times -- unlike the Septuagint or NT, which do not ever use it that way -- I can't convince myself that he means 'columns.'"(SOURCE:
   If there are "2 1/2 commandments per face", and there are 2 "faces" per tablet (one on either side of a table), and 2 tablets total, then there are ten commandments.

<<Josephus says that Moses instituted the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) for the Hebrews to build tent-booths in September or October to protect themselves against the onset of winter. Does this festival correlate to the Transfiguration, when Jesus looked white as snow and Peter proposed making booths? The Transfiguration feast is in August, not September - October.>>
Apparently they are connected in meaning, but not in calendar timing. The Torah Portions website says:
Simon Peter did not have that type of symbolic significance in mind when he offered to build the shelters. Nor was he attempting to keep the mandate to dwell in booths during Sukkot. The gospels provide no reason to assume that the transfiguration occurred during the festival of Sukkot. Had it been Sukkot, the Master and His disciples needed to be in Jerusalem for the festival, not at Caesarea Philippi. (
Yuri Ruban writes on the Orthodox Church Calendar website that the story of the Transfiguration points to the festival of Sukkot/Tabernacles. He notes that Sukkot was "established in memory f the wandering people in the wilderness, when people lived in huts. Booths are associated in the consciousness of the faithful Jew namely with the shining cloud, in which God showed Himself (more precisely, His 'glory') in the Tabernacle of the assembly..." Marina Golubina also discusses the connection between the two holidays on the Katehon website (

<<In Book IV, Josephus refers to the ban on eunuchs in Deuteronomy 23. How does this compare with Matthew 19:12>>
Deuteronomy 23:1 runs:
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
In contrast, Jesus in Matthew 19 isn't praising "eunuchs" in the sense of those who mutilate themselves, but rather those who abstain from sex voluntarily and ascetically.

<<This Question has 4 Parts: (A) Was the extermination of Canaanites God's order or just something that Moses decided on in accordance with God's more general command to conquer the area? (B) Could the Israelites, in fulfilling their instructions, spare the Canaanites who surrendered and gave up their idolatry and political independence? (C) How could Josephus say that there were no Canaanites left after the Israelite conquests, but then talk about the Canaanites as still existing later? (D) Can one reconcile Moses' instructions on killing Israel's enemies with Christian principles of mercy towards one's enemies?>>
   (Part A) According to the Bible, the "destruction" of the Canaanites was God's order, although "destruction" could be political and cultural and does not necessarily mean killing. Psalm 106 complains about the Israelites in a way that mentions that God commanded the destruction:
34. They[ie. the Israelites] did not destroy the peoples, Concerning whom the Lord had commanded them, 35. But they mingled with the Gentiles And learned their works; 36. They served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
   In Deuteronomy 7, Moses announces to the people:
1. When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
   2. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
   Deuteronomy 20 speaks as if God commanded destroying everyone in the cities given as an inheritance:   
Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God. (Deut. 20.16–18)
   Paul Coulter, in his article "Old Testament Killings" argues that per a closer analysis, the specific commands were not actually necessarily for killing, but could be for driving out the Canaanites:
There is a range of verbs used in the commands to Israel concerning how they should treat the Canaanites. Some of these clearly speak of extermination, but others speak of driving them out (see Deuteronomy 7). Deuteronomy 9:3 brings these two ideas together succinctly: “you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you”. It seems from a careful reading of the related passages that God’s intention was that the Canaanites would have a possibility of fleeing the land as the Israelites advanced. In the case of those kings and cities that refused to do so, there was no option but annihilation. There is no suggestion that Canaanites who left the land must be pursued; rather the commands to annihilate are connected only with people in the cities of the land.
   Presumably if Canaanites had left Canaan they would then have been treated like all other nations and the Israelites could have made treaties with them and would have been bound by the more general codes of conduct in warfare given in Deuteronomy 20 (see 1. above).
   So, this was not so much a case of genocide (the extermination of an ethnic group) but rather forced removal from the land of Canaan. God’s judgement was primarily that the Canaanites would lose the land because of their detestable religious practices and in order to preserve the purity of Israel’s worship of Him. As we read through Joshua and Judges this appears to be born out, as the extermination of the Canaanites is never fully implemented.
The order must not necessarily have been to kill them all, or else it would have been pointless to also order driving them out.
   (Part B) The Israelites, in keeping with their orders, could have spared Canaanites who surrendered and gave up idolatry and independence. There are actually examples of Canaanites doing that and being spared and depicted respectfully by the Biblical author. Greg Koukl writes in "The Canaanites: Genocide or Judgment?": "Aliens shared the same legal rights in the commonwealth as Jews (Lev. 19:34, Lev. 24:22, Deut. 10:18–19)."
   Archeologists theorize that the Israelites themselves have a major Canaanite component in their ancestry, which implies that many Canaanites did convert over the centuries to the Israelites' religion.
   Rahab was the Canaanite woman who protected Israelite spies in Joshua 2, and she and her family joined the Israelites.
   The Gibeonites tricked the Israelites into making a covenant of protection with them, and although this contradicted Joshua's instructions, the Bible actually looks favorably on the Gibeonites as deserving protection. In his article "Good News in the Gibeonite Deception", Tyler Kenney notes the Gibeonites' recognition of God's plan for the land when they tell Joshua, "Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing." (Josh. 9). Kenney notes numerous parallels with Rahab, which implies that the Bible looks similarly with favor on the Gibeonites:
Like the Gibeonites, Rahab was a native of Canaan (Joshua 2:1). Like the Gibeonites, she had confidence God was giving the land to Israel (2:9). Like the Gibeonites, she responded with fear before God's people, Israel (2:9-11). Like the Gibeonites, Rahab acted with cunning in order that she and her family might find refuge among the people of Israel (2:12-13).
Plus, later after Saul had massacred Gibeonites out of zeal for Israel, God sent a famine on Israel because of the massacre according to 2 Samuel 21.
   (Part C) In Book V of the Antiquities, Josephus writes that there were no Canaanites left, but he must mean that there were none left in the cities, because the order in Deuteronomy was directed against cities, Josephus precedes his statement about there being none left with a statement about Joshua capturing and massacring cities, implying that he was talking about the cities being empty, and he follows it by saying that Canaanites survived who escaped through the walls:
Advancing very far in pursuit, Joshua destroyed the whole of the enemy's army, save for a few, —the kings all fell—in such wise that, when there were no more men to be killed, he slew their horses and burnt the chariots. He then overran the country unmolested, none daring to come out to give him battle ; the cities too he captured by siege and massacred every creature that he caught. A fifth year had now passed away and there was no longer any Canaanite left, save for such as had escaped through the solidity of their walls.
   Further, to say that one destroyed one's enemies was sometimes hyperbolic in this era in the Near East. Reuel Leasure, in his article "Did God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?", gives other examples from this period:
King Mesha of Moab (840 BC) reported that the Northern Kingdom of Israel “has utterly perished for always.” — In truth, Israel was around long enough to be taken into exile one hundred years later.
   Tuthmosis III of Egypt (1500 BC) declared that “the numerous army of Mitanni was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those now not existent.” — Actually, Mitanni continued to fight for another two hundred years.
   Merneptah of Egypt (1230 BC) bragged “Israel is wasted, his seed is not.” — Guess who is still around today?
   When Moses or Joshua spoke in exaggerated ways, they were simply adopting the common hyperbolic rhetoric that all ancient Near Eastern military leaders used. Everyone reading the accounts would have understood it that way, just like we understand hyperbolic sports language.
   Leasure also argues that "destroy" can mean drive out based on how it was used in Deuteronomy of the Israelites as being scattered:
On another occasion, God threatens to “destroy” Israel for their disobedience, but this destruction did not mean genocide. It meant driving them away from the promised land. Consider Deuteronomy 28:63-64
   And the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in destroying you. You shall be plucked off the land… And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.
   Here is a clear example where “destroying” really meant driving them out of the land.
   (Part D) The basic conflict is that Moses' instructions apparently included killing civilians, whereas the Christian principles of mercy promote compassion, forgiveness, and alleviating suffering. Christian writers have suggested numerous ways to address the potential cruelty in Moses' instructions, like arguing that it was hyperbole, that it didn't necessarily entail killing, and that it was just, due to the Canaanites' sins. If one can address the potential cruelty, then the next challenge becomes reconciling justified harm with the principle of mercy. I think that this runs into a deeper potential conflict in the Bible between the punishment system in Moses' Law and the New Testament's especially strong encouragement of mercy. One way to reconcile them is to say that justice and mercy reflect two different categories of principles, and thus are not necessarily in conflict. To prove this, one could point to instances where God acted mercifully toward the Canaanites, as in the case of Rahab and the Gibeonites.
   One argument goes that Moses' orders were justified because of the Canaanites' deep sinfulness, like their practice of sacrificing children to Moloch. Paul Coulter, in his article "Old Testament Mass Killings", writes:
Passages like Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (“it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you”), Deuteronomy 18:12... and Leviticus 18:24-25 (“Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants”) clearly claim that God was judging the Canaanites. The wrath of God against sin and His righteous judgement of sinners are important biblical principles.
Justin Taylor, in his article "How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?", notes that the New Testament itself has a concept of major penal judgment:
At the end of the age, Christ will come to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5), expelling them from the land (the whole earth)... That is the day “the Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (2 Thess. 1:8-9)."
   Another explanation, mentioned in part (C) above, is that Moses' orders were hyperbolic rhetoric and could actually mean driving out the inhabitants, not necessarily killing them.
   A third explanation that such aggressive actions can be justified if they are necessary to meet some even greater need, like selecting only certain people for a lifeboat that cannot hold everyone who wants to get on it. In the case of Moses' orders, part of the need could be defensive. Peter Enns, in his essay "On Creation and Killing Canaanites", notes:
that Chemosh, god of the Moabites, tells king Mesha (or better, Mesha tells us what Chemosh told him) to take Nebo from the Israelites and “put to the ban” the entire population–and that the word “ban” corresponds precisely to the Hebrew word for the same sort of behavior
Another need that is sometimes argued is to cleanse the land from sin and idolatry because of the greater plan that God has it in Salvation history wherein He redeems the world.
   A fourth argument goes that God's mercy was reflected in his patience as he waited for the Canaanites to repent. William Lane Craig, in his article "Slaughter of the Canaanites", comments on the passage from Genesis about God waiting before his orders against the Amorites:
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16)...
   God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability! This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Eric Lyons, in "God’s Just Destruction of the Canaanites", makes the same argument:
Indeed, God waited. He waited more than four centuries to bring judgment upon the inhabitants of Canaan. ... He would wait until the Israelites had been in Egypt for hundreds of years, because at the time that God spoke with Abraham “the iniquity of the Amorites” was “not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). [NOTE: “The Amorites were so numerous and powerful a tribe in Canaan that they are sometimes named for the whole of the ancient inhabitants, as they are here” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, 1997).] In Abraham’s day, the inhabitants of Canaan were not so degenerate that God would bring judgment upon them. However, by the time of Joshua (more than 400 years later), the Canaanites’ iniquity was full
   A fifth argument is that stopping the Canaanites' sinfulness through the Israelite conquest was actually merciful because of the extent of the sinfulness. While the innocent Canaanite children were driven out of the cities with their families, they and their descendants didn't continue performing or undergoing ritual sacrifice.
   Finally, Paul Coulter, in his essay "Old Testament Mass Killings", sees parallels between the events of the Great Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the conquest of Canaan, and the New Testament's concept of the Last Judgment, suggesting that these events actually sharing an underlying moral foundation and operation of God's patience and Salvation. Coulter arranged the events in a table to show their similarity:   
------- Judgement (agent) | Time to repent|  God’s witness  |   Salvation through faith       Flood | Genesis 6:5-7 (the Flood)| While the ark was being built (1 Peter 3:20)|   Noah  |  Noah and family built and entered the ark (Genesis 6:9; 7:8)      Canaanites   |  Deuteronomy 9:4-6, 18:12; Leviticus 18:24-25 (Israelite armies under Joshua)|  Israel’s 40 years in the desert (news reached Canaanites – Joshua 2:10)|  Israel led by Moses and Joshua  | Rahab and family – she tied a scarlet thread outside window (Joshua 2)
   These same principles also apply to what the New Testament says about the final judgement:
   a. God will judge fairly – once again God initiates the judgement, but in this case the outcome will be more than physical death. The consequences will be either eternal punishment or eternal blessing (Revelation 20:11-15).
   b. Time to repent – God is now patiently waiting, giving people an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). When Christ returns, God’s judgement will come and no one will be able to escape from it.
   c. God’s witness – Christians are present now in the world as witnesses to God’s truth and love (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
   d. Salvation through faith – There is salvation for any who will repent and trust in Christ for salvation (Acts 2:21).   

<<What do you make of the word Elohim in Exodus 22:28, "Thou shalt not revile Elohim (the gods/God/the judges), nor curse the ruler of thy people."?>>
It means "Elohim" in the sense of the Hebrew word for "God." God is the most important Elohim whom you shouldn't revile, whereas other gods are reviled sometimes in TaNaKh.
   Interpreting the word in Exodus 22 as "judges" would be redundant because the verse also bans reviling the ruler and Israel was then ruled by judges. Jezebel's instructions against Naboth helps to confirm that it doesn't mean "judges" when she orders, "And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, 'Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.'" The form of the reason that she gives ("Thou didst blaspheme God/Elohim and the king") for her order matches the prohibition in Exodus 22. As King Ahab's wife, she would be unlikely to refer to the judges before referring to the king, who would be more powerful than the judges.
   A large majority of translations on the Bible Hub translation list say "God", although some say "gods" or "judges": (
<<Does the Biblical story of Yael killing the Canaanite commander Sisera in Book V have an allegorical meaning, particularly one referring to the Passion?>>
   Apparently Deborah's song praising Yael for killing Sisera prefigured the archangel Gabriel's praise for the Virgin Mary and Mary's own song in Luke's Gospel because of resemblances between the songs. Deborah's and Gabriel's songs calls the women to whom they were directed "Blessed" among women, and Mary's praise sounds militaristic in one place ("He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly."). So Yael herself is a prefigurement of Mary. Commentators see Yael's killing of the Canaanite commander Sisera, who had been attacking the Israelites, as representing the defeat of Satan or the AntiChrist. They see Yael's nail as prefiguring the nails of the Crucifixion that were used in Christ's saving work on the cross. Some also see the nail's piercing Sisera's skull as prefiguring the Cross being put into the great rock of Golgotha, which means "the place of the skull".
   Here is Josephus' narration:
But Sisares, having leapt from his chariot when he saw that the rout was come, fled till he reached the abode of a woman of the Kenites named Iale; she, at his request to conceal him, took him in, and, when he asked for drink, gave him milk that had turned sour." And he, having drunk thereof immoderately, fell asleep. Then, as he slumbered, lale took an iron nail and drove it with a hammer through his mouth and jaw, piercing the ground; and when Barak's company arrived soon after she showed him to them nailed to the earth. Thus did this victory redound, as Dabora had foretold, to a woman's glory. But Barak, marching upon Asor, slew Jabin who encountered him and, the general having fallen, razed the city to the ground; he then held command of the Israelites for forty years.
   [Iale refers to:] Bibl. Jael.
   The detail of using a mallet and nail to kill Sisera through the skull has been curious or unexpected enough for me to consider the story to have a possible allegorical meaning like the stories of the Binding of Isaac and Joseph's capture in the pit do. The use of a nail especially brings to mind the nails used at the Crucifixion, and Sisera's skull could conceivably represent the rock at Golgotha as I mentioned. In this story, Sisera could conceivably represent evil gentile rulers, the Antichrist, or Satan. Beyond this, however, it is hard for me to have a strong sense of how exactly the killing of Sisera would prefigure the Passion. This is one of the hardest questions for me in the first five volumes of Josephus' Antiquities, and it seems to originate in the problem that such potential prefigurements are sometimes not clear, as they rely on coincidences between two separate events that imply a mystical connection.
   My own hypothesis, which came to me when I read this story, was Yael gouging Sisera's temples represented opening metaphorical "ears" in them, which in turn represented allowing the gentiles to hear God's word, in agreement with David's Psalm 40:6. I thought of this because of the unusual choice of gouging him through the temples, as well as how nails and gouging show up in other Biblical passages.
   In Deuteronomy 23:13, the Israelites were instructed to use a spike ("yated") to dig holes for their refuse. In Judges 4, Yael (יָעֵ֣ל) fed sour milk to Sisera, the Canaanite commander who had been attacking the Israelites, made him sleep, took a spike ("yated") and nailed it through Sisera's temples, fastening his head to the ground. In Psalm 22, the Messianic narrator cries that his enemies "gouged (kara) my arms". And then in Psalm 40, David sings, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened (literally: gouged/dug, kara)". I took this to mean that God made ears in David symbolically, allowing him to hear God's word.
   So my hypothesis was that Yael gouging Sisera's temples symbolized God (Yah, El) digging/gouging/opening symbolic "ears" in gentiles to let them hear His word. I thought that gouging a nail through someone's temples could metaphorically be like gouging "ears" into them. On the other hand, Yael's name is not quite the same as "Yah-El". And I couldn't find other writers seeing anything special in the nailing of the temples. So at this point, it looks like my hypothesis is only a possibility. It is common for writers to perceive real or imagined prefigurements that other writers don't see, and it can be hard to have certainty about whether they are right.
<<Does a Christological prophecy appear in Book V, when Josephus tells how the ruler, Gideon died, and Gideon's youngest son killed his own brothers, with only his brother Jotham escaping? Is the parable that Jotham gave to the people a prophetic reference to the crown of thorns?>>
   The story of Gideon's death, Abimelech killing his half-brothers, and Jotham's escape are found in Judges 8-9. It is hard to exclude the possibility that the story serves as a mystical, hidden prefigurement of Christ's experience, since mystical prefigurements are by nature hidden and not stated directly. Nonetheless, it also appears hard to find a solid Christological prefigurement in the story of Jotham's escape. Judges 9:5 refers to the half-brothers' deaths and Jotham's escape:
And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
One Biblical commentary noted that this event reflected an ancient phenomenon in the Middle East of a claimant to the throne killing his brothers who could be competitors, in this case Abimelech killing his half-brothers in order to take the throne.
   Worship in the Northern Kingdom, which focused on Mount Gerizim where Jotham made his speech was a kind of inverted version of Judah's worship. In Judaism, worship and sacrifices were supposed to be focused at Jersualem's Temple, but the Northern Kingdom focused on the mountain in Israel's north. And if I had to read the story in Judges 9 of Abimelech killing his half-brothers and Jotham's escape as a Christological prefigurement, it would have to be as an inverse of its New Testament fulfillment. Abimelech's 70 pieces of silver would be like the pieces of silver given to Judas, the 70 victims would be like 70 apostles who were Jesus' "brothers". The 70 brothers' killing and Jotham's escape would be an inversion of Christ's killing and the apostles' escape at Gethsemane. The killing on the stone could be pointing to the Crucifixion on Golgotha, or if it meant that they were knocked down from the stone and killed, then it could point to the killing of Jesus' brother James, who in early traditions was knocked down from a wall and stoned.
   However, the theory of an inverse prefigurement seems strange and unlikely, and so the hypothesis that Jotham's escape served as a prefigurement of Christ's experience also seems unlikely. Besides, the elements don't coincide very well. Abimelech gave his co-conspirators 70 pieces of silver, one for each victim, whereas Judas was given only 30 pieces of silver.
   As for Jotham's parable, the bramble serves as a prefigurement, either as a prophecy or by sharing an allegorical, spiritual meaning with the Crown of Thorns. Here is Jotham's parable in Judges 9:8-15:
8. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10. And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. 11. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 12. Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. 13. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 14. Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
   The article "THE PROPHECY BEHIND THE CROWN OF THORNS" sees in this parable a prophecy of the Crown of Thorns:
In Jotham’s parable, the bramble was asked to become king over all the trees in the forest. At Calvary, that bramble bush was made into a crown to be worn by the King. Looking at it in perspective as it sat on the head of Christ in all of it’s shame, piercing the flesh, bringing the blood, it was indeed a lowly bramble bush. It was not a crown made out of olive wood, it was a crown made from a bramble bush. ... In Jotham’s parable, when the bramble was invited to be their king, it replied, “If in truth, ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow…” (Judges 9:15). In prophetic fulfillment, one can see the savior of the souls of humanity hanging their in utter humility beneath the shadow of the bramble bush. One can see it exalted upon his head... When the bramble bush answered the request of the other trees, it said, “… put your trust in my shadow, and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” It did not say, “I will devour the olive tree.” It did not say that it will burn the fig tree, or the vine. It said, “I will devour the cedars of Lebanon.” Forty years later, a fire devoured the great cedars of Lebanon, just like the parable said it would. The fulfillment of that prophecy came when the Romans burned the Jewish Temple to the ground. The doors of the Temple were made out of cedar wood from Lebanon. The prophet Zechariah also predicted it… “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars” (Zechariah 11:1).
   The article "Thorns in the Bible" sees an indirect relationship between the parable and the crown of thorns, in that thorns were part of the curse after the Fall in Genesis. It cites Isaiah 55, which in contrast predicts a blessed time when
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
   The article "From the Old Testament: Jotham’s Parable. What does it mean?" shares the view that there was an indirect link, in that Jotham's parable was a curse in that it used a thorn, which was a curse under Genesis 3. It also notes:
After being mocked, beaten and spat upon by the Roman soldiers, Jesus was crowned with thorns and this highlighted that His suffering and death were a curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Hebrews 3:13) When our Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns, His torturers unknowingly punished Him with a symbol fitting of the suffering Messiah.

<<Was the angel who foretold Samson's birth to his mother the Lord, and if so, how can one explain His appearance in light of the Biblical verse that no man can see God and live? Maybe the angel kept his face covered?>>
   Yes, it must have been the Lord, and he appeared in a man-like form that Samson's mother could handle seeing. The angel wasn't veiling His face because the mother and her husband, Manoah, saw that the angel's face was awesome/fearful.
   The verse that one cannot see God and live is in Exodus 33:20. There, God appears to Moses and tells him, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” So God lets Moses see His back instead.
   In Judges 13, Manoah asks the angel,
“What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of YHWH said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, seeing it is Wonderful?'
   This sounds like more than just an angel, because angels gave people their names like Michael. The couple were in awe of the angel and so he knew that they saw his name as wonderful.
   "Wonderful" is also one of the seemingly Messianic divine names in Isaiah 9:
6. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of YHWH of hosts will perform this.
   Although the passage in Isaiah 9 could be at face value about the birth of King Hezekiah, "Almighty God" is too high a title for Hezekiah. Plus, the author or editors of the Book of Isaiah would have known that Hezekiah's rule did not achieve the extreme successes in Isaiah 9's declarations like establishing the kingdom with justice forever, so they likely would not have included such extreme accolades their final version of the book if they had directed the praise to Hezekiah alone (and not to the Messiah as well).
   Subsequent verses in Judges 13 help confirm that the angel was God:
19. So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to YHWH, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching.
   20. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of YHWH went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.
   21. The angel of YHWH appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Yahweh
   22. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
That Judges 13 notes that YHWH works wonders, that the angel's name is Wonderful. as well as Manoah's assertion that he saw God suggest that YHWH was the angel. The Bible does not counter Manoah's assertion that he saw God, but rather lets it stand, thus adding further support to the assertion.
   The article "Manoah's Wife" says:
As angels do not receive worship, the supernatural person the over-awed couple saw was no ordinary angel, for they fell on their faces and said, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God” (Exodus 33:20). It is clearly evident, therefore, that Manoah and his wife had witnessed one of those Old Testament theophanic appearances of Christ.
   The couple had asked the angel's name to honor him, and they fell on their faces when he went up, suggesting worship, and the Bible doesn't counter their statement that they saw God, so it suggests that the man was God.
   As to how they could see God and live, the woman and the chapter itself repeatedly referred to the angel as a man, like when she said: “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome". The wife of Manoah gave a good explanation: “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.” So God wanted to appear to them without killing them, so He must have done so in a way that they could handle.
   The teaching that one cannot see God and live, given in Exodus 33, must mean that a normal person in a physical body cannot look at God in His divine essence and live because of how powerful it is. Natalya Budur in the Russian-language book Orthodox Faith reasons that since we would go blind from staring at the sun, then this would be even true if we looked at God, who is stronger than the sun.
   St. Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 20, theorizes that humans cannot normally see God, but that God could reveal himself in ways that they can handle:
The prophets, then, indicated beforehand that God should be seen by men; as the Lord also says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 But in respect to His greatness, and His wonderful glory, no man shall see God and live, Exodus 33:20 for the Father is incomprehensible; but in regard to His love, and kindness, and as to His infinite power, even this He grants to those who love Him, that is, to see God, which thing the prophets did also predict. For those things that are impossible with men, are possible with God. Luke 18:27 For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He wills, and as He wills.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 08:10:18 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 #272 on: November 30, 2019, 05:20:45 PM »

<<The Greek word used in Book VI for aristocracy is "aristokratios". What form of government was that exactly? Rule by a council of nobles?>>
In Book 6, Josephus narrates why Samuel the prophet resented creating a kingship over Israel:
These words sorely grieved Samuel by reason of his innate righteousness and his hatred of kings ; for he was keenly enamoured of aristocratic government, accounting it divine and productive of bliss to those who adopted it.
The term meant rule by a council of distinguished citizens, as Josephus explains it. He writes that they were under aristocracy under Moses and Joshua, then anarchy, and then returned to aristocracy in the form that he describes: "entrusting supreme judicial authority to him who in battle and in bravery had proved himself the best ; and that is why they called this period of their political life the age of Judges."

<<Is Zabulon, referred to in Book VI, the territory that includes Jesus' home of Nazareth?>>
Yes, according to Bible Hub's article on Nazareth,

<<Josephus calls Jerusalem the City of David. But wasn't Bethlehem also called The City of David?>>
In Book VI, Josephus wrote:
When David had driven the Jebusites out of the citadel and had himself rebuilt Jerusalem, he called it the City of David and continued to dwell in it for the whole length of time that he reigned.
The City of David was a title used for both places, according to Christian Answers' article on the "City of David":
<<Since David is seen as a prefigurement of the Messiah, is his battle against Goliath also a Messianic prefigurement?>>
Yes, because the Bible sees David as a Messianic figure, and because of coincidences between the battle and Jesus' story. Goliath could represent paganism or the devil, Saul's armor could represent the outward accoutrements of a king that Jesus gave up in coming as a heavenly leader, and the five stones could represent the five wounds of Christ. Damasus Winzen, in his article "David: Prototype of Christ", notes that "David jumped into the breach, without armor, a true soldier of his God, knowing that 'not with sword or spear does the Lord deliver, for the battle is the Lord’s' (1 Samuel 17:47). With a sling, a stone and a stick, David overcomes all the most up-to-date might of Goliath (17:5)." Winzen proposes that David brings to mind Christ, "who jumped into the breach to give his life for the whole people and conquered the power of Satan with the cross". Christ served as a mediator who achieved victory with what would normally be a weak instrument to do so, the Cross. Since David was trained as a Shepherd and used a shepherd's tools of a staff and sling, he reminds us of the Messianic image of the Good Shepherd. The stones could represent the 5 stone/metal weapons used on Jesus, the 4 nails and the spear. Jason Miller in his essay "Discovering the Hope" notes that in general, the Bible sees the Messiah as associated with David. He sees Goliath as prefiguring the Adversary in the story for trying to enslave Israel. Miller notes that there is no clear reason why the writer specifies 5 stones, so Miller seeks other explanations, like the number of books in Torah and Christ's 5 wounds at His crucifixion. That is,
two in the hands, two in the feet and one in the side. The wounds of Christ, signifying his death, were certainly the means by which Christ defeated Satan on the Cross. As five smooth stones were gathered by David to conquer Goliath, so five wounds were suffered by Jesus as he defeated Satan.
   The second element of David’s victory over Goliath was Goliath’s own sword, which David uses to cut off Goliath’s head. The prefiguring continues: just as David used Goliath’s own weapon to completely defeat, so Christ used Satan’s own weapon to completely defeat him: by death he destroyed death.
   Miller notes David's brothers' displeasure at David's arrival at the battle, noting that "The three oldest brothers are part of the army of Israel facing Goliath and the Philistines. They react with anger at David’s appearance at the battle (1 Samuel 17:28)". The brothers' displeasure could represent the skepticism of Jesus' siblings toward Jesus or Jesus' rejection by the pharisees and Jewish religious leaders. Miller also notes that when Saul
allows David to go fight Goliath, he clothes him in his own armor, which David cannot use. David instead needs to fight Goliath on his own terms, not as an armored warrior, but as a shepherd. The people of Israel try to clothe Jesus in their own conception of what a Messiah should look like, seen especially in the disciples’ numerous queries about when Jesus will restore Israel, as well as the shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David at the Lord’s entrance to Jerusalem. Saul, the King of Israel representing the people of Israel, also prefigures the people of Israel in the time of Jesus.
David Guzik's outline, "David and Goliath", shows how elements of the story can relate to the Gospel story. He notes that "David is said to be the youngest of eight sons of Jesse; yet Psalm 89:27 calls David God's firstborn, demonstrating that "firstborn" is as much a title and a concept as a description of birth order". This brings to mind that Christ is God's firstborn. 1 Samuel 17:15-16 notes about David and Goliath the Philistine before the battle: "But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days." Guzik notes: "Forty days (or years) is used in the Scriptures rather consistently as a period of judgment and/or testing (Noah, Israel, Jesus)". Guzik lists "Examples of how David's victory over Goliath prefigures Jesus' victory on our behalf":
1. Goliath wanted to be a representative of his people; whatever happened to him would happen to the Philistine nation; whatever happened to the representative of God's people would happen to God's people
   2. The battle took place on ground that rightfully belonged to God's people, ground that they had lost
   3. Goliath was able to dominate the people of God through fear and intimidation alone
   4. Who sent David to the battle ground? He was sent by his father (1 Samuel 17:17)
   5. David was scorned and rejected by his own brethren
   6. David fought the battle without concern with human strategies or conventional wisdom
   F. ([1 Samuel 17, Verses] 55-58) Saul meets a victorious David
   1. Why didn't Saul recognize David, when David had played for him in the palace? Four possible solutions:
   a. He did recognize him, but wanted to know his family background for the sake of marriage
   b. He could not recognize David because he is, or was, too mentally and emotionally unstable
   c. Perhaps Saul never really saw David, because David played behind a curtain
   d. Perhaps David had matured greatly (had he grown a beard?) in his time away from Saul
   e. Young man in verse 56 means one who is fully grown, mature, and ready to marry
Saul's inability to recognize David reminds me of Herod's, the Sanhedrin's, and pharisees' inability to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
   Goliath was from the city of Gath, and as Joshua 11:22 notes, some of the Anakim remained in Gath. Moses' scouts had reported to Moses about the Land of Canaan: "There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." So the Anakim and Nephilim were giant. Genesis 6:4 describes the origin of the Nephilim in the time before the Great Flood, when "the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown." If the "sons of God" refer to fallen angels as some writers theorize, Goliath would be more closely associated with Satan due to this heritage.
   Further, like Jesus' experience in the Gospels serving as a lesson revealing God to humanity, David announced in 1 Samuel 17 that he would defeat Goliath "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear".
   Dr. Lewis Johnson, in his sermon on "David, Goliath, and David's Greater Son," explains the types that he sees that the story serves of Jesus:
...when David came his brothers rejected him? Eliab rejects him. And, when our Lord came, his brethren rejected him, too. “He came unto his own, and his own,” the Apostle says, “And his own received him not."[John 1] David’s victory was won by apparently foolish means. The Cross is a foolish means, apparently... But, it’s by the Cross that our Lord overcomes. It’s by death that he overcomes death. It’s by what apparently is more foolish than the sling and the stones that David had. And so David’s equipment and his victory, in which he slays Goliath and slays him with his own sword, suggests that our Lord overcomes, ultimately, by the very thing that Satan had delegated in his power, the power of death.
David's stone hitting Goliath in the head can also represent the crushing of the serpent's head promised in Genesis 3.

<<How would you answer the moral dilemma of whether it can be morally right to lie in order to achieve a greater purpose?>>
I asked because in the story of Melcha voluntarily saving David from King Saul, Melcha lied to her father Saul that she helped David because David forced her to. Here is Josephus' account:
But when her father rebuked her for having saved his enemy and tricked himself, she resorted to a plausible defence ; her husband, she declared, had threatened to kill her and so, by terrifying her, had secured her aid in his escape, for which she deserved pardon, seeing that she had acted under constraint and not of her own free will. (Antiquities, Book 6)
   One answer is that there is a hierarchy to God's commands, and preserving life is a higher duty than truthfulness alone. Another answer is the Defense of Necessity and Self-Defense. If someone is going to attack you, you have a right to fight back in a commensurate way to protect yourself (ie. without using violence that is in excess of the threat). And if one can use violence for self defense, then the same principle must also be true as in the case of lying for defence. If instead of attacking the person who was looking to find and attack you or a loved one (like David in this example), you could lie to them about your or your beloved's location, then the option of lying would be better than attacking the pursuer since at least the lying would not be violent.

<<As in David's case, if a king thinks that his own son is building up forces against him, what would be the best thing for the king to do, when the son is not in open opposition?>>
He should try to reconcile with his son, gain his son's loyalty, address the underlying and direct factors behind the revolt, and if he bears some responsibility for the conflict, then he should address his responsibility.
   In this story, David's son Absalom had smoothed over a conflict with his father, but told lots of people that as king, he (Absalom) would have supported the peoples' causes and court cases that David had rejected. Absalom then went to Hebron, where he started to built up a following. Then, David, supposedly out of fear, fled Jerusalem the capitol. However, a major part of a kingdom rarely in history supports a king's son in a war against his own father, and David had his status as the sill-reigning monarch as an advantage. Absalom would have a much harder time overthrowing his father openly, since his own claim to the throne depended on his heritage through his father David. David's decision to flee in effect made the conflict open, and in turn the conflict's openness allowed his military the opportunity to openly conquer the rebels. Had the king stayed in Jerusalem and kept control of the capitol while his son secretly plotted in Hebron, it would be harder to make the conflict so clear to the people.
   By comparison, King Herod's decision in a situation of potential intrigue was to claim that his sons were plotting against him - which may or may not have been true - and then to kill them as plotters.
   In general, the ideal strategy would be for the king to develop such a close bond of loyalty with his son that the son would be strongly against a rebellion against his father, would try to protect his father, and would oppose other potential rebels.
   Msgr. Charles Pope, in his article "King David – A Great King, but with a critical flaw that is all too common today", notes that David himself bore some responsibility for his son Absalom's rebellion. Absalom had wanted David to punish David's oldest son Amnon for raping Absalom's sister Tamar. But David refused to do anything, so Absalom killed Amnon, developed resentment to David, fled abroad, and while he later became reconciled with David, this created a history of conflict between Absalom and David. Monsgr. Pope writes:
Hence, due to David’s inaction, one of David’s other sons (and full brother of Tamar), Absalom, grew furious at what was done to his sister. He thus plotted, and eventually killed Amnon, and then fled to the Land of Geshur. David now had lost two sons and had a daughter who had been raped. For indeed, though eventually pardoned by his father, King David, Absalom had grown bitter against David and raised an effective rebellion against him. In the war that ensued, Absalom and his rebellion were put down, and Absalom killed.
   David seemed well aware of his role in Absolom’s rebellion and demise. He had said earlier, when one of Absolom’s followers came cursing him: If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” (2 Sam 16:10-12)
David might have had a chance, by trying to undo his mistake, to end the rebellion in a way that reconciled himself better with his son. He had made a reconciliation with Absalom, but perhaps he could have done more to reconcile more deeply.
   Jim Bomkamp, in his essay "2 Sam. 12: 'David Is Restored To The Lord But Still Suffers The Consequences Of His Sin'", cites and comments on 2 Samuel 12:9-12 that portrays Absalom's revolt as punishment for David's sin against Uriah and Bathsheba:
9. ‘Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10. ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 ‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’

   (Verse 10)‘The sword shall never depart from your house.’
The rest of David’s days would be filled with the worst of domestic strife. He would never again have peace and his life would forever be filled with great heartache.
   (Verses 11-12) Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes...) This will be fulfilled when David’s son Absalom rebels and tries to take the kingdom away from David, and then lays with David’s concubines in public sight so that all would not about it.
Bomkamp, in his essay on 2 Samuel 13, theorizes how David's sin with Bathsheba led to Amnon's sin, which led to Absalom's conflict with David:
Ammon is just following the actions of his dad. David, acting as king over Israel, used his power as king to obtain Bathsheba so that he could lay with her, even though he knew all along that she belonged to another man. In like manner, Ammon forced himself upon his sister Tamar to lay with her. David had used deception in arranging for Joab to murder Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, and now with the help of his cousin Jonadab and Jonadab’s suggestion to Ammon, Ammon now uses deception to lure Tamar to his bed so that he could lay with her.
In the essay, after describing how David was suffering the indirect consequences of his sin with Bathsheba, Bomkamp generalizes on how people can address similar situations of negative consequences:
If we find ourselves reaping one thing after another that we have sown walking in the flesh in disobedience to God, to get out of that cycle we’ve simply got to repent of our sins and re-submit our lives to the Lord and put Him back upon the throne of our life. Only then will the process begin to reverse and we will begin in time to reap good things for our actions.
Thus, David's repentance, like that which he puts in some of his Palms, is an important part of addressing his conflict with Absalom.
   Bomkamp writes more about how David's sin with Bathsheba led to Absalom's revolt in his essay, "2 Sam. 14-15: 'David Allows Absalom To Return To Israel However Absalom Tries To Take The Kingdom Away'”, noting:
Ahithophel who had been David’s counselor ( and prime minister ) had been in cohorts with Absalom and was ready at Absalom’s word to come and join him in his rebellion against David. We shouldn’t be too surprised at Ahithophel turning against King David for we can deduce from 2 Sam. 11:3 and 23:24 that he was the grandfather of Bathsheba, and thus he surely resented what David had done to his granddaughter and her family.
Ben Christian in his essay "Setting sh it on fire to get attention (2 Samuel 14:28-33): An Apology in Defense of Absalom" notes how Absalom's treatment of David's concubines during the revolt resembles Nathan's prophecy about David's concubines and Amnon's treatment of Tamar:
At one point Absalom goes as far as raping David’s concubines to politically and legally emasculate his father. And it is not lost on most readers that this act hearkens back to what happened to Tamar, or that these abused women are treated exactly like Tamar once David regains the throne and decides that they are damaged goods (2 Samuel 20:3).
Ben Christian tries to figure out why David didn't punish Amnon, and he quotes a Biblical passage and comments that David ignored her crying:
"When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn (2 Samuel 13:21)." ... Perhaps Amnon was also being groomed to be king, but the bottom line is that David would not punish his son for the sake of is daughter. He loved one more than the other. Need more proof? When Amnon was faking having a witty bitty cold, David dropped everything, went to visit him, and arranged for Tamar to play his nurse (2 Samuel 13:6). He appeared when summoned by his son. David could not be bothered to visit Tamar, his own daughter, after her rape. She remained locked away in her older brother's home, ignored by the one who was supposed to protect her.
   And after that, this father blocked out the cries of his daughter. "But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud [za`aq] as she went. (2 Samuel 13:19)"
   The Hebrew for "crying aloud" is the word used when describing not mere tears, but trauma. It is biblically employed for childbirth, war cries on the battlefield, and most notably, the people of God crying out for His help while under the unbearable weight of oppression and slavery in Egypt: "And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried [za`aq], and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. (Exodus 2:23)"
So David was ignoring Tamar's trauma, and this played a role in Absalom'ss bitterness with his father, which in turn led to the revolt.

<<What episodes, if any, in David's life might the Psalmist have referred to when making the Psalms about the king's death and resurrection?>>
Psalm 3 concerns the Psalmist David sleeping and waking up despite the rebellion, and sleeping and awakening serve as metaphors for death and resurrection in the Bible. Psalm 3's prologue says that the occasion for the Psalm is David's flight from Absalom. Psalms 22 and Psalm 30 more clearly have images of death and resurrection.
   Psalm 16 is about God preserving the narrator or his seed descendant, God's "Holy One," from physical decay, since verses 9-10 say:
9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Greg Herrick, in his essay "The Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28", notes that the scholar Walter Kaiser
1) a severe sickness of David after he had finished the palace; 2) during David's stay at Ziklag among the Philistines when he might have been tempted to idol worship; 3) David's word under the influence of Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) about his future dynasty, kingdom and throne. Kaiser says the third is the most likely because of the "scope of Nathan's prophecy and the linkage made in Psalm 16."
Kaiser is referring to Nathan's promise in 2 Samuel 7, which says "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." This brings to mind Verse 6, which runs, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." Further, like the apostle Peter in Acts 2, one could theorize that David was predicting the Messiah's own experience of not physically decaying when David wrote in Psalm 16, "neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption".

   It is not certain at what point David wrote Psalm 22, but it seems most connected with his sickness from which he recovered at the end of his life. In particular, the Psalm 22 could be set at dawn, because the superscription says that the Psalm is "On the Star/Doe (’ay-ye-leṯ) of the Morning." Esther Menn writes in her essay, "No Ordinary Lament", that, "Curiously, the superscription of the Targum to Psalm 22 claims that this is a psalm 'concerning the virtue of the Continual Morning Sacrifice.'"
   The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" on The Lampstand website sees three periods in David's life as possible settings for Psalm 22: A) David’s sin with Bathsheba, B) Absalom’s revolt and David’s ultimate redemption, and C) Adonijah’s conspiracy, David’s sickness and Solomon’s coronation. In favor of (A) is that the Psalm bears close resemblance to Psalm 32, which is about repentance, and David's repentance after his sin with Bathsheba was a major point in David's life. But I think that (A) is unlikely as the setting for Psalm 22, in which the narrator suffers severely, because David was not being persecuted at that point like he was in (B) and (C). The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" sees the setting of Psalm 22 as David's flight from Absalom because of numerous parallels between David's flight and Christ's Passion (explored in the next question), and because of parallels between Psalm 22 and the Passion (eg. Christ reciting the words of Psalm 22:1). The article also compares Psalm 22:20's phrase, “From the power of the dogs” with Abishai's complaint to David about Shimei in 2 Sam 16:9 “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?” Shimei in this verse could be compared to a dog, but he is not the only one, so the verse in Psalm 22 is not necessarily referring to this verse in 2 Samuel.
   The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" shows the strongest connections between Psalm 22 and (C), the succession of events in David's old age of Adonijah’s conspiracy, David’s sickness and Solomon’s coronation. The article says:
David’s recovery and appointment of Solomon, followed by his coronation in 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 provide significant links to show that Psalm 22 could also have been written about this time:
   “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (v1) 1 Chron 28:20 “Even my God...He will not fail thee nor forsake thee” 1 Chron 29:17 “My God, thou triest the heart”
   “I will declare thy name unto my brethren” (v22) 1 Chron 28:2 “Hear me, my brethren
   “Will I praise thee” (v22), “Praise him, glorify him” (v23) 1 Chron 29:13 “Praise thy glorious name”
   “In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (v22) “My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation” (v25) 1 Chron 28:1,8; 29:1,10,20 David assembles “the congregation”  1 Chron 29:10,20 “David blessed YHWH before all the congregation”
   “For the Kingdom is YHWH’s” (v28) 1 Chron 29:11,23 “Thine is the Kingdom... Solomon sat on the throne of YHWH”

   Another key piece of evidence is the links between Psalm 22 and Psalm 71. The setting of Psalm 71 can be seen as late in David’s life from verse 18, “I am old and grey headed”:
   PSALM 22_______PSALM 71
   “My God, my God” Psa 71:22 “Oh my God”
   “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (v1) Psa 71:9,18 “Forsake me not”
   “I was cast upon thee from the womb” (v10) Psa 71:5-6 “Thou art my trust from my youth...from the womb”
   Psalm 71:9 specifically speaks of David’s cry of “forsake me not” coming in his old age, which provides a strong suggestion that Psalm 22 could be related to this time. When we see the flow of Psalm 71 into Psalm 72 and the wonderful connection of Solomon as a type of Christ both in 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 72, it provides more significant points for the later timing of Psalm 22.
   Yet all these events are related. The revolt of Absalom and Adonijah both arise as consequences of David’s sin. So it would be fitting for David to recount the events of Absalom’s revolt and the lessons learnt during Adonijah’s conspiracy. David also had loose ends for Solomon to tie up which further connect the two scenarios (1 Kings 2v7-9).
Considering that Psalm 23 and 24 that follow it could have connotations of a funeral and resurrection, this set of Psalms, 22-24, could fit David's own death and resurrection. David could have been summarizing his life experiences that fit into a category of salvation.

   Psalm 30 appears to express being in a state of death and then brought up out of it, as verse 3 says, "O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast enlivened me(ḥîyîṯanî), that I should not go down to the pit." The superscription for Psalm 30 is "A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the house (bayith) of David." Bayith literally means "house", so the verse refers to a song at the dedication of his house, which was a palace. The Enduring Word commentary notes that Psalm 30
says nothing about the house itself; rather the focus is on God and the greatness of His deliverance. At the dedication of David’s house, David wanted God to be praised, not himself."
   "I will extol You, O LORD": At the dedication of his own house, David did not extol himself – rather, the LORD. What might have been understood as the achievement of a man was instead the occasion for praising God. 2 Samuel 5:11-12 (and 1 Chronicles 14:1-2) describe the completion of King David’s palace: "Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel."
   "You have brought my soul up from the grave": We don’t know if David here described what we might call a near-death experience or if it would be more like a narrow escape from death. Either way, in his life as a soldier and leader he had more than one time when death was near, and God rescued his soul from death.
Apparently, David was also recapping earlier points in his life. The Sons of Korah webpage on Psalm 30 says:
Verse 6 and 7a tell of the somewhat careless attitude that David had in the midst of an easy run in his life. But David got a rude shock when all this was taken from him (vs. 7b). The result of this was that David was shaken into some solid faith-action and this is demonstrated in his prayer described in verses 8-10.
David's Psalm 30:2–3,9–10 bears major similarity to Isaiah 38:16–19, in which King Hezekiah prays for recovery from illness, saying:
“O YHWH, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so will you recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but you have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit [grave] of corruption: for you have cast all my sins behind your back. For the grave [sheol] cannot praise you, death can not celebrate you: they that go down into the pit [crypt] cannot hope for your truth. The living, the living, he shall praise you, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known your truth.”
This suggests that the Psalm could be referring to David's healing from illness. David got a major sickness toward the end of his life, and it may have been the cause of his writing of Psalm 22. One problem with relating Psalm 30 with his sickness in old age is that David's palace was dedicated in 2 Samuel 5, which occurred before David's illness in old age.
   David Sielaff's article "The Tomb of David and Psalm 30" suggests that Psalm 30 described DAvid's recovery from illness:
The Hebrew word “healed” means from a illness, not from some malady of the soul or a lapse of morals, but healed from a physical problem or illness that threatened death. While David suffered many afflictions in his lifetime (Psalm 132:1), these were not illnesses but rather they were humiliations and physical dangers such as combat or “close calls” that threatened David’s life. In Psalm 30:1, however, the word “healed” does mean healing from an illness that brought David close to death. ...
   Some have thought that David’s illness and healing were related to the episode of David’s numbering of Israel (2 Samuel 24:1–17; 1 Chronicles 21:24–22:1). However, there is no record of David ever being sick or near death because of that situation, only the people of David’s kingdom suffered and died. Therefore there is no reason to believe that Psalm 30 has reference to the numbering of Israel incident. Furthermore, David’s numbering of Israel occurred very late in David’s reign, shortly before his death.
   Albert Barnes provides more background on Psalm 30 in his commentary:
It was usual for the Hebrews to “dedicate” a house when it was finished; that is, to devote it in a solemn manner to God, probably with appropriate religious exercises. Deuteronomy 20:5, “what man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.” ...
   The allusion in the psalm is rather to a previous state of depression, trouble, and sorrow, such as occurred in the life of David before he conquered his enemies, and before he was peaceably established on his throne - and to the joy which he felt when he had triumphed over his foes, and was peacefully established as king in Jerusalem. All the circumstances seem to me to accord best with the time when David erected a house for his own abode - a palace - upon Mount Zion, and to the act of dedicating such a house to God. See 2 Samuel 5:9-12; 2 Samuel 7:1-2. ...
   That the allusion in the psalm is to “sickness,” seems to me to be evident from Psalm 30:2-3, Psalm 30:9, though at what time of life this occurred, or what was the particular form of disease, we are not informed. From Psalm 30:3, Psalm 30:9, however, it is certain that it was a “dangerous” illness; that he anticipated death; and that he was saved from death only in answer to fervent prayer. The psalm, therefore, in this respect, has a resemblance to Psalm 6:1-10; Psalm 41:1-13; psalms composed also in view of sickness.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2019, 05:26:51 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #273 on: November 30, 2019, 11:55:54 PM »
Let me clarify what I said about Psalm 16 above. Greg Herrick, in his essay "The Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28", notes that the scholar Walter Kaiser gave three background settings for Psalm 16:
1) a severe sickness of David after he had finished the palace; 2) during David's stay at Ziklag among the Philistines when he might have been tempted to idol worship; 3) David's word under the influence of Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) about his future dynasty...

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #274 on: December 02, 2019, 04:22:21 AM »
Rakovsky my man,

What can you tell me about the origins of the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas?  My thought is the disciple of Mani who took the name Thomas wrote the latter, whereas the former two were the work of a Syrian Gnostic, perhaps Tatian or Severian.  Thoughts?

Also, what do you make of the Gospel of Philip, or what is left of it?

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.

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #275 on: December 02, 2019, 01:49:05 PM »
The Gospel of Thomas' origins are curious, a mix of versions of NT quotations,  some nonbiblical quotes from Oral tradition that show up in the fathers, a few potentially Gnostic verses, and a few antignostic ones. The Acts of Thomas are a story about his travels, especially to India, and have some strange or fantastical parts, but not clearly gnostic. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas seems the same kind of thing- a seemingly nongnostic story with strange elements, except some parts seem to have Jesus sinning, making it heretical. Mani was born c. 216 AD, whereas the first two works were written before his time, I think. The Gospel of Philip is apparently a Gnostic text from 180-250 AD as this page on it says:
Good luck with your forum support.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #276 on: December 02, 2019, 10:46:23 PM »

<<Could David's conflict with Absalom parallel in some way Christ's rejection by, or conflict with, the Jewish religious leadership, since David is seen as a Messianic prefigurement?>>
Yes. David crossing the Jordan could be a reference to Christ's crossing the barrier of death. The Jordan in the Pentateuch, by analogy, is used as a crossing point of the Israelites into the Promised Land. Achitophel's hanging suicide could have relation to Judas's death. Absalom's hair getting stuck in the tree could resemble the crown of thorns, and Joab's spears in Absalom could represent the nails and spear wounding Christ. The women hiding the messengers for David in the well could have a relation to the women seeing angels at Jesus' tomb. David's wish to have died in his son's place recalls the atoning theology in Christ's death. The article "Psalm 22 – The Messiah’s Mind" on The Lampstand website sees David's conflict with Absalom as paralleling Christ's Passion:
From David fleeing in 2 Samuel 15:17, as “the King went forth” and “passed over the brook Kedron” we see the parallels to the path that Christ himself walked on the night he was betrayed (cp John 18:1). Compare:
   2 Sam 15:25-26 with Christ in the garden as he surrenders to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42)
   2 Sam 15:30,32 with Luke 22:39,44; Heb 5:7
   2 Sam 17:2 with Matt 21:38; 26:31
   2 Sam 17:23 with Matt 27:4-5
   2 Sam 19:15 with Zech 14:4
2 Samuel 19 mentions that the people had anointed Absalom, and this implies that they had rejected David during the conflict:
Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?”
This prefigures the people's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. One could note that in both cases, there were still Israelites loyal to David and to Jesus, respectively, but not enough to prevent the revolt against David or Jesus' condemnation.
   The Enduring Word commentary notes that later in verses 11-14, David swayed their hearts to have him come back. It quotes the verse "Why are you the last to bring the king back to his very house", noting that
David would not force his reign on Israel. He would only come back if the tribes who rejected him for Absalom agreed to bring back the king. “David didn’t lift a finger to re-establish his authority… His return to sovereignty was decided by the voluntary submission of his kinsmen and by their loving obedience to his will.” (Redpath)
   The Enduring Word commentary also quotes the verse "So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man", and comments:
The efforts of Zadok and Abiathar succeeded. David would not come back until welcomed by the hearts of all, and that could not be forced – their hearts had to be swayed. God will not force His reign on us. We must welcome His reign and He will not force our heart response. Our hearts must be swayed by the work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
   In "David in the Gospels", Margaret M. Daly-Denton sees David's flight from Absalom as representing Jesus' time in Gethsemane in sorrow, among other parallels:
Matthew’s detail that Judas went out and hanged himself (Matt 27:3–5) serves to cast him in the role of Ahithophel, David’s betrayer (2 Sam 17:23), thereby hinting at a parallel between David and Jesus. Luke makes a similar comparison by means of imprecatory passages from two “Psalms of David” spoken by Peter “against” Judas (Acts 1:18–20, quoting from Pss 69 and 109). The theme of betrayal by a confidant is common to the “passions” of both David and Jesus (2 Sam 15:31; 16:23; Matt 26:20–25 and parallels). Like Ahithophel who plots to take King David at night (2 Sam 17:1), Judas arranges for the arrest of Jesus by night (Mark 14:17, 30; Matt 26:31; Luke 22:53, 66). The announcement of the defection of the disciples and of Peter’s denial and their protestations of loyalty on the way to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:29–31; Matt 26:30–35; Luke 22:33) is strongly evocative of 2 Sam 15. There, walking sorrowfully towards the Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:30), aware of the defection of those close to him, David receives pledges of loyalty from faithful servants (2 Sam 15:15, 21). Like the David of 2 Sam 15:30–31, a distressed Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives. It is also possible that 2 Sam 17:1–2, where Absalom says, “I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged...and all the people with him will flee,” may have influenced the shaping of the synoptic arrest scenes.
   The Fourth Gospel account of Jesus’ death begins with a recollection of David’s crossing of the Kidron on his departure from Jerusalem with his loyal followers at the time of Absalom’s conspiracy (1 Sam 15:23; John 18:1).4 A foreigner, Ittai the Gittite, says to David, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the King lives, in whatever place my lord shall be, whether it be for death or life, there shall your servant be.” Echoes of this declaration of loyalty can, perhaps, be heard in John 12:26: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also.” Earlier in John’s narrative, Caiaphas has given advice: “You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish” (John 11:50). On comparison with 2 Sam 17:3 (“You need only seek the life of one man and all the people shall have peace”) Caiaphas sounds suspiciously “Ahithophelian.”

<<How would you resolve the potential confusion between 2 Samuel 14:27 and 2 Sam. 18:18 over whether Absalom had children?>>
   2 Samuel 14:27 says: "And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance." But later, 2 Samuel 18:18 says: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place."
   In Antiquities VII, Josephus takes the view that Absalom did have children:
He [Absalom] dwelt, however, in Jerusalem two years and became the father of three sons and of one very beautiful daughter, whom Solomon's son Roboamos " married later and by whom he had a son named Abias.** [Absalom set up] a marble column, two stades distant from Jerusalem, which he named Absalom's Hand, saying that if his his children should perish, his name would remain in connexion with the column. He had, in fact, three sons and one daughter, named Thamara, as we have said before.
   Josephus, in attributing to Absalom the fear that his children might die before him, disposes of the difficulty caused by the contradiction between 2 Sam. xiv. 27, referred to in § 190, and the present verse, 2 Sam. xviii. 18, which reads, " for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." A rabbinic tradition has it that Absalom's sons died before him as a punishment for having set fire to Joab's field ; another tradition states that Absalom left sons "but they were so insignificant that Scripture speaks of them as though he died childless"...
   I would resolve the contradiction by suggesting that Absalom erected the pillar when he had no sons, and then later he had three sons. When 2 Samuel 18:18 says: "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar", the words "in his lifetime" mean that the Biblical writer is not indicating when in Absalom's life he made the pillar, so this could have happened before his sons were born. Randy McCracken notes in his essay "How Many Sons Did Absalom Have?: Intentional Ambiguity as Literal Art":
This could well mean that Absalom made this statement before he had any sons, especially since lifting an event from its chronological context is a common technique in the books of Samuel (e.g., 2 Sam. 4:4; 21:1–14)...
   A less likely option is that the sons died before he built the monument. This is unlikely because 2 Samuel 14:27 says that he had three sons, and it is unlikely that all three would have died before Absalom made his pillar. They could have been killed in Absalom's revolt, but the pillar was made before the defeat of his revolt. Plus, if the sons had died while Absalom was still alive and a contender for the throne, the Bible could have mentioned their deaths. eg. Absalom could have said in his announcement that he had no sons left to carry his name.
   Another, less likely explanation is that Absalom's words "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance" meant that he did not have any sons who bore his name, Absalom. This seems unlikely, because if Absalom meant that he did not have a son who bears his name, he would more likely have said "I have no son who has my name for remembrance", not "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." Absalom did at some point have sons to whom he could have given the name "Absalom", so based on the phrase "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance", he must not have been speaking at the time when he had a son. This is because the son could have kept the name in remembrance either by bearing the father's name or by remembering it in prayers and other commemorations.

<<Does David's use of instruments suggest that it is proper to use instruments in singing the Psalms, or else in the course of liturgy?>>
Yes, in that the ancient Israelites played instruments while performing the Psalms in the Temple. Some Psalms include instructions for playing on instruments. For instance, Psalm 5 has a superscription saying "On Nehiloth" or "On a Wind Instrument." However, the synagogues in the First Century did not use musical instruments, and the method of using instruments ceased with the Temple's destruction. According to scholars, early Christians did not use instruments in their worship, either. A factor in the churches' lack of using instruments was likely the synagogues' similar lack, since Jewish Christians had been part of Jewish religious life in the First Century. The Church fathers generally wrote against using instruments.
   In "The Choir in Jewish History", Jonathan L. Friedmann writes:
Following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the Rabbis abolished the sacrificial rite and its accompanying instrumental and vocal music. So, even as most other elements central to the Jewish tradition survived the destruction, the Levites refused to divulge their "trade secrets," and their musical culture was lost.(
   Clement of Alexandria, in c. 190 AD rejected the use of musical instruments for accompanying religious music:
Leave the pipe to the shepherd, the flute to the men who are in fear of gods and intent on their idol worshipping. Such musical instruments must be excluded from our wingless feasts, for they arc more suited for beasts and for the class of men that is least capable of reason than for men. The Spirit, to purify the divine liturgy from any such unrestrained revelry chants: 'Praise Him with sound of trumpet," for, in fact, at the sound of the trumpet the dead will rise again; praise Him with harp,' for the tongue is a harp of the Lord; 'and with the lute. praise Him.' understanding the mouth as a lute moved by the Spirit as the lute is by the plectrum; 'praise Him with timbal and choir,' that is, the Church awaiting the resurrection of the body in the flesh which is its echo; 'praise Him with strings and organ,' calling our bodies an organ and its sinews strings, for front them the body derives its Coordinated movement, and when touched by the Spirit, gives forth human sounds; 'praise Him on high-sounding cymbals,' which mean the tongue of the mouth which with the movement of the lips, produces words. Then to all mankind He calls out, 'Let every spirit praise the Lord,' because He rules over every spirit He has made. In reality, man is an instrument arc for peace, but these other things, if anyone concerns himself overmuch with them, become instruments of conflict, for inflame the passions. The Etruscans, for example, use the trumpet for war; the Arcadians, the horn; the Sicels, the flute; the Cretans, the lyre; the Lacedemonians, the pipe; the Thracians, the bugle; the Egyptians, the drum; and the Arabs, the cymbal. But as for us, we make use of one instrument alone: only the Word of peace by whom we a homage to God, no longer with ancient harp or trumpet or drum or flute which those trained for war employ. (Source: Clement of Alexandria, "The Instructor", Book II, Chapter IV)
And still, Clement of Alexandria did not perceive the use of certain musical instruments as inherently bad, provided that they didn’t bring to mind pagan feasts,
And even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre, there is no blame. You shall imitate the righteous Hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God” (Instructor 2:4).
   In The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual, Rikard Roitto writes that in Justin Martyr's Address to the Greeks, Chapter 8, Justin
explains that during the heavenly descent the Divine will use men as musical instruments such as the kithara and lyre, and through this instrumental usage, knowledge of the divine is revealed. This does not inherently suggest a negative attitude  towards instruments, as we find in later writings, but the sole use of metaphorical images of instruments may suggest a subtle hint to move away from their usage within the Christian assembly.
   G. I. Papadopoulos, in A Historical Survey of Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music, wrote:
The execution of Byzantine church music by instruments, or even the accompaniment of sacred chanting by instruments, was ruled out by the Eastern Fathers as being incompatible with the pure, solemn, spiritual character of the religion of Christ. The Fathers of the church, in accordance with the example of psalmodizing of our Savior and the holy Apostles, established that only vocal music be used in the churches and severely forbade instrumental music as being secular and hedonic, and in general as evoking pleasure without spiritual value...
   After several centuries, musical instruments began to be introduced into Church music in Western Europe. "Organs seem to have been in common use in the Spanish churches in A.D. 450, according to Julianus, a Spanish bishop." (James Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 9, p. 32) In "From Silence to Golden: The Slow Integration of Instruments into Christian Worship", Jonathan M. Lyons wrote that
Around AD 670, Pope Vitalianus introduced an organ into a Roman Catholic Church in Rome, resulting in what many consider to be the first recorded example of instruments in Christian worship. 14 Another early example of the organ in worship comes from the eighth century. After King Pepin of France installed at his royal court the organ that he received as a gift from Byzantine Emperor Constantine V, his son, Charlemagne, had a replica of that organ built for the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle.

<<Are there modern recordings that reflect what the Psalms' melodies sounded like when accompanied by the instruments?>>
We do not know what were the original melodies used in Temple worship. However, there are recordings of modern performances of Psalms with instrumental accompaniment and Middle Eastern melodies that can give the listener an idea of what the Psalms would have sounded like in Temple worship:
This is a Playlist for Psalms 1-28 sung by Simon bar Moshe with stringed accompaniment:    ://
   Psalm 30 (with accompaniment on strings,
The ones below might use post-Temple instruments like electronic keyboards, organs, or clarinets:
   Psalm 1 (
   Psalm 3 with a Yemenite melody (
   Psalms 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137. (Psalm 16 starts at 2:35,
   Psalm 95 (
   Psalm 104, "traditional Jewish babylonian arrangement" (
   Psalm 121 (
   Psalm 147 (

<<Why was David's census-taking sinful or deserving of punishment?>>
The punishment of a plague shows that David must have failed to take a tithe for his census, since Exodus 30:12 commands the Israelites: "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them."
   In Book VII, Josephus suggests that David's census was sinful in forgetting to tithe the people for the census:
Then King David, desiring to know how many tens of thousands there were of the people, forgot the injunctions of Moses who had prescribed that, when the populace was numbered, half a shekel should be paid to God for every person; and he ordered Joab, his commander, to go out and take a census of the entire population. And, though Joab told him that there was no need to do this, he did not listen to him, but ordered him to proceed without delay to the numbering of the Hebrews.
   Cf. Ex. XXX. 12 f. This explanation of David's sin in numbering the people is also found in rabbinic tradition.
   Moreover, the Biblical account doesn't specify that God (in His anger) or Satan incited David to fail to pay the shekels, only that God (in His anger) or Satan incited David to take the census itself. Likewise, when the Bible says that the census failed to include the Levites and Benjamin, the Bible explains this by saying that Joab failed to number them because the king's order was abominable to Joab, not that Joab disobeyed because the failure to pay the shekels was wrong. (1 Chronicles 21:6: "But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.") This suggests that the order to take the census itself was mistaken, although the verse in Exodus means that had David arranged for a census tax that the plague wouldn't have occurred.
   The basic reason why the census was troubling appears to be that David's performance of the census implied that David owned the people whom he counted, whereas in fact the people belonged to God. This is because Exodus 30's requirement of "a ransom for his soul unto the Lord" implies that the people belonged to God and that David was taking possession of them, similar to one person paying a "ransom" to take possession of another person. Joab's objection to David's order also suggests that one problem with the order was that the people belonged to God, not to David. In 1 Chronicles 21, Joab objects: "May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?"
   Another way in which David's order was troubling was that he commanded including the Levites in the census. Numbers 1:49 says: “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel. 1 Chronicles 21 records that Joab did not take a census of Levi, in diobedience to David's order.
   On Christianity StackExchange, Mason Wheeler noted that in Luke's gospel the census was used for taxation in the 1st century. Wheeler also pointed to 1 Samuel 8, in which Samuel, as instructed by God, warned against appointing a king to rule the Israelites because of how the king would assign his citizens duties like an autocrat:
11. This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
   12. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
   13. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
   14. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
   15. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
   16. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
   17. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
   18. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
   So making a census would be bad for the Israelites because it would be one of the steps in this process of autocracy that God warned about. David charged the commanders of his army with carrying out the census and before finishing the census, they returned with the number of Israelites surveyed who "drew the sword", ie. those prepared to fight (2 Samuel 24.9; 1 Chronicles 21.5). This suggests that David was taking the census particularly for military purposes, like using his forces' strength to decide whether to engage in battles. So David was aiming at relying on his own forces, rather than on God, whom the Bible doesn't record as being consulted in prayer for the census. ie. David was going to take God's people and consider using them for his own military aims and decisions.
   So David's clearest fault with the census taking was that he failed to collect the ransom required. But the Bible also gives a sense that he was acting harmfully in counting the people for making military preparations according to his own purposes.

<<Does the Temple location's former status as a threshing floor hold a mystical or spiritual meaning?>>
Yes, it holds a spiritual meaning, especially in that threshing in ancient Israelite culture represented judgment, like separating wheat from chaff. This spiritual meaning is also mystical (in the sense of an inner, mysterious, non-explicit meaning), because the Bible never openly explains that the Temple's location of a threashing floor has spiritual significance of judgment. In the story of David's choice of location for the Temple, God agreed to stop the pestilence that served as punishment for David's census and He commanded David to make a sacrifice at Araunah the Jebusite's threshing floor in Jerusalem. Araunah has his equipment, threshing floor, oxen and plough sacrificed there. This location became the Temple Mount, as Josephus records in Book VII:
Then, when David saw that God had hearkened to his prayer and had accepted the sacrifice with favour, he resolved to call that entire place the altar of all the people, and to build a temple to God... he came close to foretelling what was later to happen, for God sent a prophet to say that in this place a temple would be built by the son who was destined to succeed him on the throne.
A key Biblical verse identifying the threshing floor with the Temple site is 2 Chronicles 3:1: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite."
   Regarding the association between the Temple and judgment, it's noteworthy that the Yom Kippur/ Day of Atonement sacrifice was a key Temple ritual involving placing the blood of a sacrificed goat onto the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Ten Commandments. The blood on the altar in the Temple, which was built over the threshing floor, covered the guilt of the people's sins so that they were not punished.
   David, who chose the threshing floor for the Temple's location, compared the righteous to a tree and the wicked to chaff, writing in Psalm 1:
He [ie. the righteous] will be like a planted tree over streams of water, producing its fruit during its season. Its leaf never droops—but in all he does, he succeeds.
The wicked are not so. For they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand during the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
   In Isaiah 21:10, God's people are compared to threshed grain: "Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor! That which I have heard from the LORD of hosts, The God of Israel, I have declared to you." The Pulpit Commentary theorizes about this verse in Isaiah:
Her chastisements have long been 'threshing' Israel, separating the grain from the chaff, and will do so still more as time goes on. The prophet's message is for the comfort of those who shall have gone through the process and become the true "children of the threshing-floor" - pure wheat, fit to be gathered into the garner of God (Matthew 3:12).
Biblehub's word study for the word "threshing" used in Isaiah 21 says that the Hebrew root word is "dush", meaning to tread or thresh. So the verse in Isaiah refers to the people as trodden upon, and as the Lord's "grain" or beneficial produce.
   Two more meanings derived from the threshing floor are that the Temple provides spiritual food, comparable to threshed grain, and that the Temple is a place for a symbolic spiritual marriage between God and His people. Karen Holland writes in "The Threshing Floor: A Place of Worship?":
Threshing and winnowing are common metaphors for judgement (Dan 2:35; Isa 21:10; Jer 15:7, 51:2, 33; Hos 13:3; Mt 3:11-12; Lk 3:17). The threshing floor is a place where good is separated from bad, true from false. The sheaves are beaten or crushed in order to make this separation. ...while the threshing floor is a place of judgement and testing, it is also a place to receive blessing. It is a place where the grain of the harvest is actually taken from the sheaves. As such, it is a place where the blessing is received. The Bible refers to “the increase of the threshing floor” (Num 18:30) and to a time when “the floors shall be full of wheat” (Joel 2:24). Like the threshing floor, the temple is also meant to be a place of blessing for God’s people. It’s out of this blessing received from the threshing floor that an offering to the Lord is to be made (Num 15:20, 18:27). This links the threshing floor to worship. The threshing floor as a place of receiving blessing, offering and worship fits perfectly with the temple! The judging, testing, and separation processes can be viewed as preparation for this worship. ...
   Ruth also washed and anointed herself; then put on her best clothes before going to meet Boaz (Ruth 3:3). Is it a coincidence that Ruth in the time of the barley harvest went to the threshing floor to meet Boaz? Boaz represents Christ (our kinsman redeemer) and Ruth, the Bride of Christ, the church. This expands the meaning of the threshing floor even further as a place where the Bride and Bridegroom meet and recognize one another. The “grinding of grain” can be seen as a depiction of the act of marriage (Job 31:10). Along the same lines, the image of the threshing floor is used when God’s people are not faithful. God calls it “adultery” or “playing the harlot” (Ezek 23:37, Hos 4:12). Notice what God says to Israel in Hosea 9:1 – “You have loved harlots earnings on every threshing floor”.
   Dinah Dye, in her article "Understanding Temple Idioms: The Threshing Floor", compares the threshing floor of the Temple with the concept of food for gods in other Ancient Near East (ANE) nations, and she also sees it as symbolizing marriage:
The ziggurat [in other ANE cultures], which enabled the god to descend from heaven to his second home on earth, was an altar where food from the garden was cooked and offered back to him. Sacrifices, therefore, played a major role in providing sustenance for the god and his entire household. The Temple in Jerusalem and its environs was structured in a similar fashion. The garden, described as a field, was for growing grain; the ziggurat was the altar or threshing floor for separating the grain from the stalks; and the Temple was the granary/storehouse for storing the seed grain for food consumption.
   Here the grain seed was stored in order to bring fruitfulness to the whole world. In reality, the Ark of the Covenant rested on the Foundation Stone inside the Holy of Holies, where it served as God’s earthly throne. Attached to the house/temple was a sacred garden where seed grain was planted, cultivated, and harvested as food for the entire household. The Garden of Eden functioned in much the same way. Adam, the gardener, also served as a priest and worked the garden to harvest food for his family and provide offerings for his God. The Hebrew word for garden is gan (!g). When the letter resh (r) is added to the word gan, it becomes goren (!rg), which is a threshing floor. Goren can also mean the first place for the gathering of seed. The garden was “the field,” which according to the sages was a term related to the Temple complex...
   The “grinding of grain” alluded to the act of marriage, which brings to mind the story of Ruth and Boaz and their unusual encounter. Spreading the corner of Boaz’s robe over Ruth as she lay at his feet on the threshing floor was symbolic of an ANE proposal ritual (Ruth 3:9). The covering indicated Ruth’s submission to Boaz as the bride and his responsibility to protect her from an enemy who would seek to steal and destroy the grain seed. ...Israel is holy to Adonai, the first (reisheet) of His crop (Jer. 2:3). The first fruit (reisheet) of the wheat harvest was offered at Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) when the Temple was standing.
   The concept of holiness in Judaism could be related to the idea of separating out grain from stalks. The Hebrew word "Qadash" means consecrated or set apart, and "Qodesh" means apartness, sacredness.
   The idea of the Church/Ekklesia as a bride is a NT concept (wherein the husband is Christ-God), but the concept also shows up in the TaNaKh like when Hosea sees his wife as a figure for Israel. It also shows up in Jeremiah 31, where God says of Israel's fathers with whom He made a covenant when He brought them from Egypt, "I was a husband to them".
   Don Walker notices the themes of grain production, offering, and marriage in the image of the threshing floor and connects them with the Temple in his essay "Worship and the Threshing Floor":
The first mention of a threshing floor is found in Genesis 50:10-11, “the threshing floor of Atad”, where Joseph and his brothers mourned the death of their father, Israel... The next reference we have to the threshing floor is in regards to the “heave offering” in Numbers 15:20. It speaks of the “offering of the the threshing floor”. We see a similar reference in Numbers 18:27... Let us consider what the threshing floor represents in the Scriptures. Its meaning goes beyond merely “the place where grain was threshed”. It is symbolic of the relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom. It is not insigificant that Ruth came to Boaz at the “threshing floor” (Ruth 3:6-14). Boaz represents Christ (our kinsman redeemer) and Ruth, the Bride of Christ.
   At the center of the threshing floor, one finds two large flat stones, one resting on the top of the other. They were “fitted and joined” together. The top stone was known as the “female” and the bottom stone the “male”. The “grinding of grain” was a depiction of the act of marriage (Job 31:10).
   The act of marriage is a physical depiction of the “spiritual communion” God desires between Himself and Man. When God’s covenant people stray from Him and worship other gods, God calls it “adultery” or “playing the harlot” (Ezek. 23:37, Hosea 4:12). Notice what God says to Israel in Hosea 9:1, “You have loved harlots earnings on every threshing floor”.
   Victoria Radin, in her article "The Threshing Floor", gives a theory that the worship at the Temple is connected to judgment also:
The altar was a place of sacrifice and worship. The threshing floor, on the other hand, was the place where the harvest was prepared for usefulness, the place where the harvested grain, corn, and spices were subjected to the violence of the sledge, the grinding wheel, or vigorous shaking. It was usually built on heights or in open fields to insure the help of the wind in the winnowing process. As the place of separating the good from the bad, the threshing floor and its threshing and winnowing process became a metaphor for judgment (e.g. Isaiah 21:10, Jeremiah 15:7, 51:33, Daniel 2:35, Matt. 3:12). So how do we reconcile the idea that the threshing floor is also a place of worship and in one case, even a place of mourning before God (Genesis 50:10-11)?
   The unmistakable message of the 2 Samuel 24 story is that worshiping God not only involves love and passion, but also sacrifice and judgment in its violence against sin. In other words, in worship we are stepping onto “the threshing floor” where our “wheat and chaff” are threshed by the Lord while a holy wind (the Holy Spirit) does the winnowing by blowing away the chaff from our lives. In the midst of our worship, we mourn before the Lord for having held onto any worldly ways and we praise the Lord for removing the things that impede our spiritual relationship with Him.

<<How common was the idea in ancient Judaism that after death, "no one can ever return to learn what is happening among the living"?>>
The quotation in the main question above is from Book VII, where Josephus has David say to Solomon before dying:
I am now, my son, going to my destiny and must depart to my fathers and travel the common road of all men now alive or yet to be, from which no one can ever return to learn what is happening among the living.
   In fact, Josephus was paraphrasing David's words from two Biblical passages, and doing so in a way that could be misleading in suggesting that David didn't believe in an Afterlife. Thackeray's translation of this section in Josephus' Antiquities cites 1 Kings 2:1, says:
1. Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2. I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man... 10. So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
   David says that he goes the way of all the earth, but this does not necessarily mean that his soul won't go to God. His statement recalls the beginning of Genesis, when God tells Adam that he is from the dust and that he will return to it. It is true that Adam is from the dust, but his soul and spirit came from God, so it makes sense that Adam would return to God. Plus, 1 Kings 2 says that David "slept" with his fathers, which does not necessarily mean that his soul was annihilated, as sleep is distinguishable from death.
   The other passage that Josephus took his quotation from is 2 Samuel 12:23, where David refers to the death of his son:
22. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
There, David was asserting that his child won't actively return from the dead to him on earth, but he was not necessarily denying that anyone could return to life on earth after dying. In fact, the statement that David will go to his dead son could imply that he will see his son again in the afterlife.
   The preacher in Ecclesiastes postulates this kind of idea that none of the deceased can come back, although the book ultimately appears to reject this thesis. In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, the person asks rhetorically: "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" It sounds like the person is asking polemically what happens to the spirit in the afterlife. The book could be like the "back and forth" of a Socratic dialogue. Later, in Chapter 9, the preacher claims that the dead know nothing and don't get any reward:
...the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.  Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
   Yet the preacher ends his talk by making a statement in Chapter 12 that implies that there is an afterlife:
7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
Then in Chapter 12, the voice switches back to the narrator who introduced the preacher in Chapter 1. The narrator weighs in with his own judgment:
13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
This conclusion goes against the sense of alot of the content of what thee preacher was preaching in the body of the text, so it makes me think that the narrator's point was really about God's judgment, and that it isn't true that everyone really gets the same level of rewards (nothingness). The preacher in the story was preaching sarcastically or making different hypotheses about everything being vain, which is true in some sense in that the world will eventually end, and about there being no knowledge after death, but these hypotheses are also refuted at the end of the book with the preacher saying that our souls go back to God and the narrator saying that God will judge everything.
   The Sadducee sect of the first centuries BC-AD rejected belief in an afterlife, so some ancient Jews shared their view on the question.
   Nonetheless, Biblical stories like Elijah raising a youth show ancient Israelites believed that a person could return in a way that he/she could learn what is happening among the living. Another such story was that of the deceased prophet Samuel learning of King Saul's fate when the witch of Endor called up Samuel's spirit.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 10:47:46 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #277 on: December 04, 2019, 04:45:31 PM »

<<Did Solomon desecrate the Temple's altar by killing Joab there?>>
Yes. When Solomon kills his own brother Adonias, Joab runs to the Temple for protection and grabs the altar for protection. Solomon orders him to the court, but Joab refuses, saying he would prefer to die there at the temple, so Solomon has him killed there. 1 Kings 2 says:
Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. ... And Benaiah came to the tabernacle of the LORD, and said unto him, Thus saith the king, Come forth. And he said, Nay; but I will die here. And Benaiah brought the king word again, saying, Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me. And the king said unto him, Do as he hath said, and fall upon him, and bury him; that thou mayest take away the innocent blood, which Joab shed, from me, and from the house of my father.
   Solomon's order to kill Joab at the altar instead of dragging him away violated Exodus 21:14, which instructs that "if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar that he die". The Pulpit Commentary theorizes that "Possibly the desperate character of Joab made literal compliance with this command well nigh impossible." However, even if Joab was strong and dangerous, Solomon's soldiers could have waited until he gave up through exhaustion to remove him.
   Further, the Torah entailed that a person or object that makes contact with a corpse becomes ritually unclean. Numbers 19:11,14,22 says:
Whoever touches any dead body will be unclean for seven days. ... This is the law when a person dies in a tent: Everyone who enters the tent and everyone already in the tent will be unclean for seven days... Numbers 19:22 says: "Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.” Even Moses' soldiers had to intensely purify themselves after the battles that the Lord had commanded. So even if the killing of Joab was justified, the killing at the altar would still desecrate the altar.
   Jung Ju Kang, in his essay "The Persuasive Portrayal of Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11 and the Josianic Redaction Theory", theorizes that there is tension in the narrative in 1 Kings because of the risk of desecrating the sanctury by killing Joab. He writes:
Benaiah hesitates to kill Joab at the altar, and requests Joab to come out from the altar, instead of carrying out Solomon's command. However, Joab replies,. `No! but here I will die' (v. 30). Benaiah reports back to Solomon with what Joab has said. Thus, Solomon faces a problem choosing between public violation of the right of sanctuary and some sort of amnesty. In this dilemma, Solomon repeats his original command and the reasons for the necessity of Joab's execution (vv. 31-32). These reasons are the bloodguilt of Joab and the innocence of the house of David. Solomon describes Joab's murders as being `bloodguilt without cause', that is, a deliberate manslaughter, whose perpetrator could be forcibly removed from the altar and put to death (Exod 21: 12-14). Finally, Benaiah strikes Joab down, defiling the sanctuary.
Kang continues:
The narrator shows a contradiction in Solomon's instructions for the desecration of the sanctuary of YHWH and the murder of Joab there. In order to remove the guilt of innocent blood, Solomon is guilty of breaking the law. Regarding this point, Provan has argued that
in ordering his execution beside the altar, Solomon himself is guilty of breaking the law. Exodus 21: 12-14 quite clearly states that a murderer is to be taken away from the altar and put to death, and Benaiah certainly seems to be aware of this... Solomon's willingness to ignore the letter of -the law when it suits him only throws into sharper relief his vindictive treatment of Shimei in [1 Kings] 2:36ff, where the letter of the law is crucial.
   Further, as Nelson observed, there is another irreducible inner tension. Does Joab die because of his past crimes, as David and Solomon accused him (vv. 5,31-33), or because of his support of Adonijah, as the narrator and Joab argued (v. 28)? This tension and contradiction cause the reader to be suspicious about Solomon's motive. This suspicion can be identified by placing this episode in its larger context. First, there are sufficient reasons for Joab to kill Abner and Amasa. Joab argues that Abner has a hidden motive in his visit to David (2 Sam 3: 24-25) and he realises Amasa's suspicious behaviour in 2 Sam 20: 4-5. In this larger context, the reader may realise that David and Solomon accuse Joab for private reasons: that is, Joab's killing of Absalom and the subsequent humiliation of David (2 Sam 18: 33-19: 8), and Joab's support for Adonijah (1 Kgs 2: 28).
   Wesselius has also argued that the narrator indicates these private motives through the form and context of the statement of David and Solomon. For example, David's charge to Solomon in 1 Kgs 2: 1-9 is focused on the fate of three men, Joab, Barzillai and Shimei, who had been involved in Absalom's revolt. On the other hand, Solomon dealt with Adonijah, his partisans (Abiathar, Joab), and Shimei. According to their attitudes toward David and Solomon, Barzillai and Abiathar were rewarded or spared, while the others suffered a death-sentence. The narrator intends to point out in this way that David and Solomon had their own private reasons to want Joab dead. In the view of the narrator, Joab is not punished on the basis of the morally debatable accusations of the murder of Abner and Amasa, but mainly because of his belonging to Adonijah's party.
   Kang is referring to Joab's justifications for killing Abner in 2 Samuel 3:6-10, 24-27. In those verses, Abner was Saul's ally, but then switched to David's side because he wanted Saul's concubine Rizpah. Abner went to David and David sent Abner to get allies for David, and when he was away, Joab came and decided to catch Abner on the charge that he was deceiving David. Kang's thesis is that the narrator is portraying Solomon as murdering his political opponents to secure power that he already controlled.
   Kang's argument that Solomon's motives are doubtful is persuasive for me, although I am also skeptical of Kang's claim that Joab had sufficient reason to kill Abner, since David had agreed with Abner's proposition to send him (Abner) away. However, even if Joab's killing was justified, the altar was still desecrated according to Numbers 19.

<<Did the Temple have an upper level or a second story, and if so, what was there?>>
Yes, it had three levels, but we have no information on the contents of the upper floors, other than that they were accissible by stairs, had gold walls, and had trapdoors for repair workers to enter down into the Holy of Holies from the Second Floor.
   In Book VIII, Josephus referred to the stairs, writing:
And the king contrived a stairway to the upper story through the thickness of the wall, for it had no great door on the east as the lower building had, but it had entrances through very small doors on the sides.
   The Jewish Encyclopedia's entry on Herod's Temple comments about the Second Temple's upper side chambers:
The Temple building had an upper story similar in size to the lower ("B. J." v. 5, § 5). Side-structures, as in Solomon's Temple, afforded space for three stories of chambers on the north, south, and west sides of the Temple. These chambers were connected by doors; and trapdoors afforded communication from those of one story to those of the story immediately above or below.
   "Aliyah" in Hebrew literally means an "Ascent", but it also can mean a "roof chamber", a loft, or a second-story chamber. 1 Chronicles 28 uses the term "wa-‘ă-lî-yō-ṯāw" ("and its upper chambers"), when it says about the designs for the Temple:
11. Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, 12. And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things...
   2 Chronicles 3 refers to the gold in the upper chambers:
8. And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents. 9. And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
   There were three floors, starting with a bottom one, based on 2 Kings 6:
5. Against the walls of the temple and the inner sanctuary, Solomon built a chambered structure around the temple, in which he constructed the side rooms. 6. The bottom floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits, and the third floor seven cubits. He also placed offset ledges all around the outside of the temple, so that nothing would be inserted into its walls. 7. The temple was constructed using finished stones cut at the quarry, so that no hammer, chisel, or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built. 8. The entrance to the bottom [literally: the middle, hat-tî-ḵō-nāh,] floor was on the south side of the temple. A stairway led up to the middle level, and from there to the third floor. 9. So Solomon built the temple and finished it, roofing it with beams and planks of cedar.
   A close reading of Josephus' Book VIII of the Antiquities shows that he was saying that the main sanctuary area was 60 cubits tall but that there was a second story on top of it so that the whole building stood 120 cubits:
They erected its entire body, quite up to the roof, of white stone; its height was sixty cubits, and its length was the same, and its breadth twenty. There was another building erected over it, equal to it in its measures; so that the entire altitude of the temple was a hundred and twenty cubits. Its front was to the east. As to the porch, they built it before the temple; its length was twenty cubits, and it was so ordered that it might agree with the breadth of the house; and it had twelve cubits in latitude, and its height was raised as high as a hundred and twenty cubits.
   The rabbinical text Massecheth Middot 4:5 describes the maintenance workrs using the trapdoors to enter the Holy of Holies:
And a winding-stair 34 went up from the north-eastern angle to the north-western angle, by which they went up to the roofs of the chambers. One went up the winding [[inclined]]-stair with his face to the west, and went all along the north side, until he came to the west. He came to the west, and turned his face to the south, and went all along the west side till he came to the south. He came to the south, and turned his face eastwards, and went along the south side, till he came to the entrance of the Alijah; for the entrance to the Alijah opened to the south, and in the entrance to the Alijah were two beams of cedar, by which they went up to the roof of the Alijah, and the heads of the beams divided in the Alijah between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. And trap doors opened in the Alijah into the Most Holy Place, by which they let down the workmen in chests, that they might not feast their eyes in the Most Holy Place.
In his book The Temples of the Jews and the Other Buildings in the Haram Area at Jerusalem, James Fergusson says that the question of what was in the Alijah of the Temple has been a neglected question and that it hasn't been answered by scholars.
   In ancient Israel, the Temple building was generally reserved for the use of priests. The Jewish Encyclopedia's article on Temple Administration says:
The priests' hall was reserved for the priests and Levites; occasionally, however, men and women presenting sin-offerings, sacrifices on which they were required to place the hands ("semikah"), made use of it. At the festivals, to accommodate the large crowds, all Israelites were permitted to enter the priests' hall, on which occasion the curtain of the vestibule was raised to show the people the interior of the "Hekal". [The Hekal being the Temple]
   As the Encyclopedia's entry states, men and women who were not priests were allowed into the Temple to wave their offerings. So there are theories, based in part on the story of the presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Infancy Gospel of James, about non-priests at times entered the Temple. Those who entered the Temple building could have included male and female ascetics like the Nazirites, as well as women the who wove the cloth for the Temple's use.

<<In addition to the Ten Commandments, did the Ark also hold Aaron's rod that had budded or the manna from the desert?>>
Yes, at the time of Moses it did. But in Solomon's era it apparently no longer held Aaron's rod or the manna. Exodus 16 says:
33. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. 34. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Saying that it was "laid up before" the Testimony "to be kept" suggests that the item was laid in the Ark together with the tablets for safekeeping. The Hebrew word for "before" in "before the Testimony" is "lipne" (לִפְנֵ֥י), and this word shows up in Exodus 30:6, which describes the altar as "before" the mercy seat that is over the Testimony: "And thou shalt put it before (lipne) the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before (lipne) the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee." Since Exodus 16 says that the manna was before the Testimony, rather than before the mercy seat that was over the Testimony like the altar was, it suggests that the manna was in the Ark with the Testimony. Similarly, Numbers 17:10 says about Aaron's rod:
The LORD said to Moses, "Put Aaron's staff back in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebellious, so that you may put an end to their grumbling against Me, lest they die."
When in Hebrews 9 Paul writes about Moses' time when “a tabernacle was prepared”, he noted that, "Inside the ark were the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant."
   Referring to the time of Solomon's reign, 1 Kings 8:9 says: "There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD had made a covenant with the Israelites after they had come out of the land of Egypt." 2 Chronicles 5:10 says similarly of this time: "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD had made a covenant with the Israelites after they had come out of Egypt." Josephus was referring to the era of King Solomon when he wrote in Book VIII: "And the ark held nothing but the two stone tablets which preserved the ten commandments spoken by God to Moses on Mount Sinai inscribed upon them." gives two possible answers for why the manna and rod weren't in the ark in Solomon's time:
One is that the ark in Moses’ time contained all three items mentioned in Hebrews but, by Solomon’s time hundreds of years later, only the stone tablets remained. The other items could have been removed in Eli’s time by the men of Beth Shemesh when “they looked into the ark of the Lord” (1 Samuel 6:19). Before that, the ark was in the possession of the Philistines for a time, and they could have removed some of the ark’s contents. It could also be that Solomon himself had the manna and the staff removed from the ark and set nearby in the same room at the time of the temple’s dedication.
   Another possibility is that the bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff were not usually inside the ark of the covenant, but rather beside it. God’s command in Exodus 16:33 was for Moses to place the manna “before the LORD” (ESV) or “in a sacred place before the LORD” (NLT)... So, the manna and the staff were kept in the same place as the tablets of stone, but it’s possible they were not, strictly speaking, inside the ark. (
However, the second option is unlikely because the items must have been in the Ark for the reasons that I discussed above.

<<Is there a connection between the number of talents of gold brought to Solomon for the Temple's construction (666) being the same as the number of the beast or AntiChrist in Revelation? Maybe there is some underlying meaning in the number 666 that is shared between the two usages?>>
Yes, there is certainly a connection between the use of 666 in the amount of gold coming annually for the Temple and in the number of the beast, because Revelation repeats images and motifs from the Old Testament. For instance, the commander Magog at Armageddon being a commander in the apocalyptic battle in the Book of Ezekiel. The underlying meaning seems to be something like a deification of man or of his earthly riches.
   In describing the building of the Temple, Josephus says: "The weight of the gold that was brought him [to Solomon] was six hundred and sixty-six talents, not including what was brought by the merchants or the gifts which the governors and the kings of Arabia sent to him."(Book VIII)
   Similarly, 1 Kings 10 says:
14. Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, 15. Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.
   Revelation 13:17-18 says, "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of ["a"?] man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
   The use of 666 in both stories appears connected because whereas Solomon received 666 gold talents annually, Revelation 13 predicted that in order to buy or sell, a person would need to have the number of the beast's name, 666. Both stories deal with commerce, the number 666, and a ruler's immoral earthly power.
   The arrival of 666 talents was part of Solomon's earthly immoral power. Deuteronomy 17 bans kings from multiplying their gold, which Solomon did by getting the same amount each year. JTaum on Hermeneutics Stack Exchange observed:
If we look back at the law for kings in Deuteronomy 17, It prohibits the king from multiplying horses and chariots, wives, and wealth. This is exactly what Solomon is doing in 1 Kings 10-11. Chapter ten begins by commending his great wisdom, but then steps through his decline - that is, he begins violating the rules for kings by multiplying gold (666 talents a year), multiplying horses and chariots, and finally multiplying wives who turn his heart away from following YHWH. He sets up centers of false worship for all the foreign gods of his wives. So, the number 666 is associated with Solomon in his fall, his abuse of power, and his turning away from true worship of YHWH.
   Julian Farrington theorized on the Quora website:
The link with Solomon, I believe is that Solomon was accounted as the wisest man on Earth, yet Jesus said ‘the Queen of Sheba traveled from the uttermost part of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and yet ONE GREATER than Solomon is here”. It’s in the same passage that Jesus was referring to the Queen of Sheba’s travels [1 Kings 10], that we learn Solomon was paid 666 talents of Gold in a year. It’s pretty likely that some of that would have come from Sheba for hearing his wisdom. Jesus also said that ‘The flowers of the field don’t work for money or make their own clothes, but that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these”.
   Solomon has wisdom, but he ended up using his wisdom to make money, and that (according to Jesus) is NOT wisdom. Jesus taught that we should not work for money, but work for God (Matthew 6:24), and if we do this, God will feed and clothes us (Matthew 6:25–34). The mark of the beast relates directly to this, we’re either going to work for God, and live by faith, or we’re going to (as Solomon did), place our faith in money, and take the mark.
   As for the shared underlying meaning, one explanation could be that 666 is the numerological name for the Antichrist, eg. the emperor Nero, and Solomon's receipt of 666 gold talents served as a prefigurement because Solomon's multiplied earthly power prefigured the AntiChrist's. The Youtube video, "666 - Numberphile" notes that in Greek, the instructions in Revelation 1 say that the reader should "calculate" the number of the beast, which is 666. Counting names in Hebrew is Gematria, and in Greek it is called Isosophy. The video presenter writes out Nero Caesar in Hebrew. Nero in Hebrew is Neron, and the letter N in Hebrew Gematria has the value of N. The video notes that Nero Caesar without the n at the end of Neron comes out to 616 in Gematria, and it notes that in some early manuscripts of Revelation, the number of the beast is 616, so the editor must have recognized that the basic name was Nero's and he was using a different way for writing Nero's name with Hebrew letters.
   Noam D. Elkies, in his article "The Numerology of the Beast," says:
Nero Caesar in Hebrew is NeRON QeiSaR; adding up the letters we get 'the number of the man', 666. ...  It made sense for an early Christian to represent Nero, and the pagan and powerful Empire that Nero stood for, as the Beast. It also made sense to use the code of gematria. If you write plainly that Nero and Rome are doing the Devil's work, then you're an enemy combatant [in the eyes of Rome], and the Roman legal code had no Bill of Rights. ... But the really suggestive hint is that the oldest manuscripts don't agree on the number: some have 616 instead. It's much harder to concoct an explanation that fits both numbers, and only one of the proposed interpretations of the Number of the Beast accounts for both: Nero. Remember it was NeRON QeiSaR in Hebrew. But the final N of NeRON is optional: the name can also be rendered NeRO, subtracting the letter N [Nun] and its value of 50 to get -- 616. (
Wikipedia explains:
Nron Qsr
   The Greek version of the name and title transliterates into Hebrew as נרון קסר‎, and yields a numerical value of 666,[39] as shown:
   Resh (ר) Samekh (ס) Qoph (ק) Nun (נ) Vav (ו) Resh (ר) Nun (נ) Sum ______   200 60 100 50 6 200 50 666

   Nro Qsr
   The Latin version of the name drops the second Nun (נ), so that it appears as Nro and transliterates into Hebrew as נרו קסר, yielding 616
David Chilton writes in "Days of Vengeance": "The form Neron Kesar (1) is the linguistically "correct" Hebrew form, (2) is the form found in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings, and (3) was used by Hebrews in the first century, as archaeological evidence has shown."
   Evert Jan Hempenius notes in his outline, "Revelation 13:11-18 -Who is afraid of the number 666? Be wise!" how the beast or AntiChrist would set himself up as divine:
▪ The first beast wore blasphemous names, like “god,” “lord,” and “saviour.” It is about a man who wants to be like god, to be God himself. It is the root of all sins that man wants to be like god.
   ▪ When we look back at the first encounter with the serpent and dragon in Genesis 3, we read: “The serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5).
   Read also 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4: “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

   Another explanation for the shared underlying meaning is that 6 is a number for man, and 666 triples the number, and since God is a Trinity, tripling man's number would be vastly growing the number in a way that would be like deifying man in an arrogant way. Scott Pauline, on the Catholic 365 website theorizes:
A mystical way to look at this symbolism is to reverse the relationship between God and man. We see this by first recalling that 7 is the number of perfection and so, in one sense, of God. It follows that 6 is a symbol of imperfection and therefore of man, who falls very short of God. But then, just as God is three Divine Persons in one Nature, so three 6’s in one number symbolizes man [6] making himself as God [three in one]. Consequently, whereas GOD made man in GOD'S Image and Likeness, the flip side is that, through the evil number above, MAN makes God in MAN'S image. [A] severe form in the nature of man making God into his image is the blasphemous tendency of humanity to even deify themselves, presuming utter independence from God, the makers of their own destiny and fulfillment, and the final arbiter of truth.
666 written in Greek per the Greek method of writing numbers is in three digits: χξς. However, having three digits is not the only way in which it is "threesome". It is also a "triangular" number. The Youtube video, "666 - Numberphile" says that a triangle number is a number that results from summing lesser consecutive numbers starting with 1. For example, 1+2+3=6, so 6 is a triangular number. A practical example is that the roulette table has numbers running from 0 to 36, and the sum of their values comes to 666. Perhaps summing the numbers in this triangular way to reach 666 is another way to "count the number of the beast" as Revelation 13 says. (666 - Numberphile,
   Revelation 13:7-8 literally says: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast for it is the number of man and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. It is not specifying that it is the number of "a man". The Greek wording in the verse says, "ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν," meaning literally "number for of man it is". On the 6th day, God made man.
   The Bible Study Tools page on this verse says:
Ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπου [Arithmos anthrōpou] , simply number of man. The definite article (“the”) is not found in the Greek text. Wallace sees the missing article as an indication that the number is not of a man, but the number of humankind.(1)
   (1) “If ἀνθρώπου [anthrōpou] is generic, then the sense is, ‘It is [the] number of humankind.’ ... In light of Johannine usage, we might also add Rev. Rev. 16:18+, where the Seer clearly uses the anarthrous ἂνθρωπος [anthrōpos] in a generic sense, meaning ‘humankind.’ The implications of this grammatical possibility, exegetically speaking, are simply that the number ‘666’ is the number that represents humankind. Of course, an individual is in view, but his number may be the number representing all of humankind. Thus the Seer might be suggesting here that the antichrist, who is the best representative of humanity without Christ (and the best counterfeit of a perfect man that his master, that old serpent, could muster), is still less than perfection (which would have been represented by the number seven).”—Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament
Revelation 13 says 666 is the number of the beast and the number of man. And in Genesis 1, the beasts and man were made on the same day:
24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...
So Lorito Kara-Ann made an interesting observation on the Quora website: "Why is 6 the number of man and the number of the beast? Answer: 6 is the number of man and the beasts because they were created on the 6th day."
   If 666 refers to deifying man on his own without God, the number would fit the character of the Roman emperor, who persecuted Christians for failing to worship him.
   As to how the number of the beast (AntiChrist) could be also the number of "man", consider that the beast may refer to both a man and to a greater entity, the Roman empire. Eduard Wilhelm Reuss writes:
The beast of the thirteenth chapter is not an individual, but the Roman Empire, regarded as a power. The writer himself tells us (chap. xvii.) that the seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills on which his capital is built; and again, seven kings who have reigned, or still reign, there. This is quite true, but he tells us quite as plainly that this beast is at the same time one of the seven heads, a combination apparently inconceivable and more than paradoxical, but at the same time very natural, and even necessary. The idea of a power, especially of a hostile influence, always tends to assume a concrete form, to personify itself in the popular mind. The ideal monster becomes an individual; the principle assumes a distinct human shape, and under this personal form ideas become popularised, till individuals come in their turn to be the permanent representatives of ideas and influences which outlive themselves. ... The beast is, then, at once the Empire and the Emperor... (Eduard Wilhelm Reuss, History of the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1884), 155)
   In his essay "Demystifying the number of the beast in the book of revelation: examples of ancient cryptology and the interpretation of the “666” conundrum", M G. Michael quotes modern writers' views, including:
"In this context six is an evil and pretentious approximation; triple six perhaps represents the evil trinity of the dragon, the sea beast and the land beast, posturing as God" (P. Barnett, Apocalypse Now and Then. Maryborough: Anglican Information Office, 1989. )   
   "666 is the counterfeit of the divine Trinity." "...this pseudo-trinity is that of Satan (the dragon) plus antichrist (the first beast) plus the false prophet (the second beast)..." (P. E. Hughes, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary. Leicester: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990.)
   "The number is symbolic of all that which parodies the Divine, and so always falling short of God." "...666 is then the number of man pretending to be God (cf. Mk 13:14, 2 Thess 2:4) or falling short of God" (J. Richardson, Revelation Unwrapped. New South Wales: MPA Books, 1996.)

<<Jospehus wrote in Book VIII: "And Solomon summoned from Tyre, from Eiromos's court, a craftsman named Cheiromos,' who was of Naphthalite descent on his mother's side". Aren't those names "Hiram" and "Hiram" in Hebrew?>>
Yes, according to Thackeray's footnote.

<<What are the function of the twin pillars named Jachin and Boaz? Do they hold up the entrance, do they open the gates, or are they purely decorative?>>
They do not have a structural function, apparently. They may have held incense, but their main purpose appears decorative and symbolic. ("Jachin and Boaz", Jewish Virtual Library,
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 #278 on: December 17, 2019, 08:28:28 PM »

<<What were God's appearances to prophets to give them messages like, such as God's appearance to the prophet Achias in Book VIII? Would it have been a direct meeting with a being who looked like a normal man, or vision of the uncreated light?>>
God's appearances to people are called Theophanies. The Old Testament includes descriptions of prophets' visions of God, and they include portrayals of Him as magnificent or awesome. From the descriptions, it sounds as if God looks similar to a normal man in the visions, but there is often some difference, eg. he may be much stronger or bigger, or as in the story of Samson's parents seeing God, have an "awesome/fearful"(נוֹרָ֣א, nōwrā) countenance/face. The "Uncreated Light" is a phenomenon of light being associated with God's power or manifestations, especially as in the story of the Transfiguration.
   The prophet Achias is called Ahijah of Shilo / the Shilonite, based on the Hebrew. Achias is the name in the LXX. Josephus describes God appearing to the Achias when Jeroboam sent his wife to get a prediction from the Achias about their son's health in Book VIII:
And as she was about to enter the house of the prophet, whose eyes were dim from age, God appeared to him and told him both that Jeroboam's wife had come to him and how he was to answer what she had come there to ask.
This story in 1 Kings 14, which doesn't specify that God appeared to Ahijah.
   Isaiah says in Isaiah 6:1: "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." John 12:41 interprets this to mean that Isaiah saw Christ: "These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."
   Ezekiel 1 describes Ezekiel's vision of God over angels:
26. Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. 27 Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. 28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.
   Daniel 7 describes the Ancient of Days and the One like a Son of Man to whom was given dominion over all people:
9. “I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire.
   ... 13. “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.
Theologians have different opinions on whether the Ancient of Days is God the Father or is actually the same being as the One like a Son of Man.

<<Did (A) Elijah's chariot deliver Elijah to heaven for ages, or did (B) the chariot just transport him via heaven to another location and that Elijah show up as still alive on earth within his normal lifespan in a later passage?>>
The Biblical story apparently means that the chariot brought Elijah to stay in heaven for centuries or more. Josephus appears to have in mind the story of Elijah's chariot of fire when he talks about Elijah's death:
Now about that time Elijah disappeared (2 Kings ii. 1.) from among men, and to this day no one knows his end.'' He left behind him a disciple Elisha, as we have already related.** However, concerning Elijah and Enoch,* who lived before the Flood, it is Written in the sacred books that they became invisible, and no one knows of their death.
In 2 Kings 2:12, the claim that Elisha saw Elijah "no more" tends to suggest to me that (A) Elisha never saw Elijah again because Elijah had been taken up to stay in heaven.
   First, the fact that Elijah left his cloak for Elisha suggests that he remained in heaven, because he would need it if he returned to earth. It seems he left it as a memento.
   Second, in 2 Kings 2:12, the claim that Elisha saw Elijah "no more" suggests that Elisha never saw Elijah again because the same term is used of Enoch's disappearance.
   Third, 2 Kings 2:3 makes it sound like Elisha was losing Elijah as his teacher: "...the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day?" If Elijah was just transported across the sky, his Elijah's absence wouldn't be such a big deal.
   Fourth, although Josephus was writing centuries later, Josephus confirmed the interpretation that Elijah remained in heaven.
   Fifth, before Elijah was taken up, he smote the Jordan and crossed it on dry land with Elisha, which brings to mind crossing the earthly plane through death, perhaps without dying. That Elijah and later Elisha smote the water with the clothes to make it divide also suggests the concept of Elijah's body being able to conquer death, since clothes can represent skin like in the story of the Garden of Eden. Elijah's resurrection of the widow's son also connects him with the theme of resurrection.
   Sixth, Elisha's rending his own clothes when Elijah was taken up suggests his loss of Elijah because Israelites rent their clothes under major distress.
   Seventh, Elijah granting Elisha's request to have a double portion of Elijah's spirit sounds like granting an inheritance, not just a gift for a temporary earthly separation.
   Eighth, the 50 sons of prophets couldn't find Elijah, even though they searched three days.
   The Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries article on the question proposes that Elijah didn't go up to the supernatural, divine heaven to stay, in part because in 2 Chronicles 21:10-12, Elijah sent a writing to the King of Judah. ("And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father...") The article claims that "Elijah had sent this ‘writing’ AFTER his 'ascent towards Heaven'. This undoubtedly verifies that Elijah remained on earth, from whence he sent the letter."
   Actually, there is ambiguity in the story of the letter, because Elijah himself didn't arrive. Typically it seems like the Old Testament prophets gave their prophecies in person, and the wording sounds mysterious in this verse, when it says that "there came" a letter, instead of eg. "Elijah sent a letter." One could speculate that Elijah didn't come to the king A) because he wrote the letter in expectation of what would happen with the king and then left for heaven, B) the letter did come from Elijah in heaven like being brought from a whirlwind, or C) Elijah was somewhere else on earth like in a cave and it was easier to send a letter.
   In his commentary on the verse in 2 Chron. 21, "Толкование на Вторую книгу Паралипоменон", Lopuhin writes that the verse about the letter to King Joram created difficulty because the usual opinion was that Elijah ascended earlier, under King Jehosaphat, although Lopuhin says that the assumption that he ascended under King Jehosaphat is not certain in the Biblical text. He says that different rabbinical ways to explain the letter were that an angel brought the letter from heaven or that Elijah wrote it before his ascension. He comments that the year of Elijah's ascension is unknown and could gave occurred under King Joram. In his commentary on 4 Kings 1:17, Lopuhin says that Joram and his father Jehosaphat may have ruled jointly at the beginning of Joram's reign. In his commentary on 2 Chron. 21, Lopuhin says it's not odd that Elijah didn't appear himself to speak to King Joram, because Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, not in Judah.

<<Was "Syria" part of "Assyria" or vice verse, or were they the same people?>>
I asked because in Book IX, Josephus wrote:
But King Achaz, after suffering this defeat at the hands of the Israelites, sent to Thaglathphallasares, the king of Assyria, asking him to give aid as an ally in the war against the Israelites, the Syrians and Damascenes, and promising to give him much money ; he also sent him splendid gifts. And so, after the envoys had come to him, he went to the help of Achaz, and, marching against the Syrians, ravaged their country, took Damascus by storm, and killed their king Arases.
Syria was originally part of Assyria. Syria was the region in the Levant and became independent of Assyria, which was based in Mesopotamia. SEE:
<<What do you think about Josephus' explanation for the Samaritans' presence? Do you think that they may include many members of the lost tribes?>>
In Book IX, Josephus discusses the origins of Samaritans whom he says are called in Hebrew the "Cuthim", meaning the "Chuthaioi". He describes the actions of the Assyrian King in bringing settlers from Chuthos in Persia into northern Israel after conquering the latter. Josephus writes that the king sent the Samaritans priests from the conquered northern Israelite tribes, and that depending on whether current circumstances suit them, the Samaritans may claim to be descended from the Israelite Tribe of Joseph. Josephus' basic idea is that the Samaritans are in fact non-Israelites who were brought into the land of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians after the Assyrians had expelled the native Ten Tribes of Israel from their land. I believe that in fact Josephus is making an oversimplification. Whereas Israelites were expelled from northern Israel and foreigners arrived in the wake of their expulsion, 2 Chronciles, as well as DNA studies, show that the Samaritans include remnants of the northern Ten Tribes of Israel. Here is Josephus' passage on the Samaritans' origins in Book IX:
And, after removing other nations from a region called Chuthos —there is a river by this name in Persia, he [the Assyrian king] settled them [ie. those nations] in Samaria and in the country of the Israelites. So the ten tribes of Israel emigrated from Judaea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers went out of Egypt...
   As for the Chuthaioi who were transported to Samaria—this is the name by which they have been called to this day because of having been brought over from the region called Chutha, which is in Persia, as is a river by the same name—, each of their tribes—there were five —brought along its own god, and, as they reverenced them in accordance with the custom of their country, they provoked the Most High God to anger and wrath. For He visited upon them a pestilence " by which they were destroyed ; and, as they could devise no remedy for their sufferings, they learned from an oracle that they should worship the Most High God, for this would bring them deliverance.'* And so they sent envoys to the king of Assyria, asking him to send them some priests from the captives he had taken in his war with the Israelites. Accordingly, he sent some priests,* and they,^ after being instructed in the ordinances and rehgion of this God, worshipped Him with great zeal, and were at once freed of the pestilence. These same rites have continued in use even to this day among those who are called Chuthaioi (Cuthim) in the Hebrew tongue, and Samareitai (Samaritans) by the Greeks...
Wikipedia's article on the Samaritans says:
Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and tribe of Manasseh (two sons of Joseph)... Samaritans used to include descendants whose ancestry was ascribed to the Benjamin tribe, but this line became extinct in the 1960s. ... Modern genetics partially support both the claims of the Samaritans and the account in the Hebrew Bible (and Talmud), suggesting that the genealogy of the Samaritans lies in some combination of these two accounts.[13] Genetically, modern Samaritan populations are found to have "much greater affinity" genetically to Jews than to neighbouring Palestinian Arabs.[14] This suggests that the Samaritans remained a genetically isolated population. ... Samaritans claim they are Israelite descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, who survived the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.
   [The] account [in 2 Kings of the Assyrians' resettlement operations] is contradicted by the version in Chronicles,[42] where, following Samaria's destruction, King Hezekiah is depicted as endeavouring to draw the Ephraimites and Manassites closer to Judah. Temple repairs at the time of Josiah were financed by money from all "the remnant of Israel" in Samaria, including from Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin.[43] Jeremiah likewise speaks of people from Shekhem, Shiloh, and Samaria who brought offerings of frankincense and grain to the House of YHWH. ...
   A 2004 article on the genetic ancestry of the Samaritans by Shen et al. concluded from a sample comparing Samaritans to several Jewish populations, ...that "the principal components analysis suggested a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in what is today identified as the paternally inherited Israelite high priesthood (Cohanim)..."
   [43] 2 Chronicles 34:9
   The reference to Hezekiah taking money from some of the Ten Tribes for Jerusalem's Temple is in 2 Chronicles 34:9, which describes Hezekiah's officials bringing the money for its repairs: "When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem." One might suppose that the text is referring to refugees of the Ten Tribes living in the southern Kingdom of Judah, but the story proves that at the least, some of the Ten Tribes remained in the Land of Israel, despite the claims that the Ten Tribes were expelled into Assyria. The story also serves as circumstantial evidence that makes a stronger case for the Samaritans as having partial Israelite ancestry.
   The 1972 Encyclopedia Judaica says:
"With the publication of Chronicle II (Sefer ha-Yamim), the fullest Samaritan version of their own history became available: the chronicles, and a variety of non-Samaritan materials. According to the former, the Samaritans are the direct descendants of the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century CE they possessed a high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas."
   The Wikipedia entry on the Samaritans notes Assyrian records that share the story of the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom being expelled, and cites the Inscription of King Sargon II that runs: "the Samarians who had agreed with a hostile king ...I fought with them and decisively defeated them...carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force...the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria." But such declarations in the Assyrian records must be oversimplifications, as with the Biblical declarations of whole nations (eg. the Canaanites) being destroyed.

<<Could the Assyrian king's warning to King Hezekiah cryptically allude to the Crucifixion?>>
It looks ambivalent, but I think that it could allude to the Crucifixion, due to the indirect, symbolic, allusional nature of Messianic prefigurements.
   When the Assyrian king advanced on Judah, his commander Rabshakeh asked King Hezekiah's messengers if Hezekiah is relying on Egypt to defeat Assyria. According to Josephus in Book X, Chp. 7, Rabshakeh said that if Egypt's assistance "was what he expected, they should, he said, make clear to him that he was very foolish and like a man who leans upon a broken reed and not only falls but also has his hand pierced, and feels the hurt." (See Isaiah 36:6)
   This warning reminded me of the crucifixion, where Christ put his weight on the cross (the cut wood being like a broken reed) and His hands/arms were pierced by that on which He relied. In addition, the TaNaKh records that Hezekiah experienced a three-day recovery from a deadly illness (2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38), which is another possible prophetic allusion to the Messiah's death and Third-day resurrection.
   Ezekiel 29:6-7 describes Egypt as a reed that broke when Israel leaned on it, maybe referring to Hezekiah leaning on Egypt;
6. And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. 7. When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.
   My idea was that Hezekiah's experience resembled Christ's. Whereas the reed was broken in the metaphor, the cross is a set of broken boards and pieces of iron.   Although Ezekiel said that Egypt was like a broken reed that Judah relied on and was pierced by so that it ruined Judah's shoulder, Hezekiah ultimately was victorious against Assyria, just as Christ was in His own mission. Just as ultimately Hezekiah was saved by God's power, so was Christ saved by God's power.
   Hezekiah's three day healing was a prefigurement of Jesus' third day resurrection. So along with this, the image of Hezekiah's suffering with the piercing of his hand by a reed on which his weight rested could also relate to Jesus' piercing, particularly the piercing of his hand by the nail on which his weight rested on the cross. Just as Hezekiah's story in the Book of Isaiah had a cryptic allusion to the resurrection, it could also have an allusion to the crucifixion.
   However, I wasn't able to find theories that the image of Hezekiah piercing his hand on the broken reed served as a prefigurement of the Messiah's crucifixion. So this potential prefigurement appears ambivalent. For instance, Isaiah 36:6 says that the reed of Egypt will go "ḇə-ḵap-pōw" (ie. into the kaph or palm of the hand), whereas the Cross's nails probably went into Jesus' forearms.

<<If Hezekiah had known Moses' laws all along, then why was he surprised when they were read out and he concluded that his kingdom would suffer for his fathers' infidelity and "lawlessness"? Maybe the Temple priests had kept Moses' books, but then forgot or ignored them in the period leading up to Hezekiah's reign, and Hezekiah and Eliakias rediscovered the ancient books?>>
First, the king in question was not actually Hezekiah, but rather Josiah. Second, the TaNaKh doesn't say that Josiah had known Moses' Law all along. Rather, Josephus writes in Book X, Chapter 4, that when Josiah was 12, he performed pious deeds like urging the people to give up belief in idols, and that he set the government in order by following the laws:
These [pious] things he[Josiah] did by using his natural wisdom and discernment and being guided by the counsel and traditions of the elders; for it was by following the laws that he succeeded so well in the ordering of his government and in piety toward the Deity, and also because the lawlessness of the former (kings) no longer existed but had been rooted out.
Then, Josephus writes that when he had been ruling 18 years, Josiah's priests found the Book of the Law. So even Josephus didn't specify that Josiah had known Moses' whole Torah all along, only that Josiah had been following "the laws", which could just refer to the parts of the laws of which Josiah had been aware. The Bible doesn't specify whether the priests had been consciously preserving the Book of the Law all along. But the Book must have been preserved in the Temple, and then either forgotten or ignored by the priests who served under Josiah's predecessors, who neglected the Torah.
   The rediscovery of Moses' Laws under Josiah's reign is narrated in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34. "Hilkiah" is the Hebrew name of the priest in the story whom Josephus calls "Eliakas" in Greek.
   Ellicot's Commentary says that the Book of the Law
was probably preserved in the Ark (Deuteronomy 31:26), along with which in the reign of Manasseh it was put on one side. When after half a century of disuse it was found again by the high priest in going through the chambers of the Temple with a view to the intended repairs, in the Ark which, though cast aside, was still kept in the Temple, it appeared like something new, because it had been wholly forgotten (for a time), so that Shaphan could say: ‘Hilkiah has given me a book’ (2Kings 22:10).
   Maclaren's Exposition theorizes:
How it came to have been lost is a more puzzling question; but if we recall that seventy-five years had passed since Hezekiah, and that these were almost entirely years of apostasy and of tumult, we shall not wonder that it was so. Unvalued things easily slip out of sight, and if the preservation of Scripture depended on the estimation which some of us have of it, it would have been lost long ago. But the fact of the loss suggests the wonder of the preservation.
   Benson's Commentary theorizes:
Josephus, by calling it the sacred books of Moses, seems to declare [that the Book of the Law refers to Moses' Torah]; as do far the greater number of Jews and Christians. ... What appears most surprising is, that all the copies of the Scriptures, which the good King Hezekiah seems to have caused to be written and dispersed about the kingdom, (see Proverbs 25:1,) should be so soon vanished, that neither Josiah nor the high-priest had ever seen any of them till this one was brought to light. All that can be said in this case is, that Manasseh, during the former part of his reign, had made such a havoc of them, that if there were any left, they were only in a few private hands, who preserved them with the utmost caution and secrecy.
   Barnes' Notes argues that the discovered books were not forgeries because:
If Hilkiah had been bold enough and wicked enough to forge, or if he had been foolish enough to accept hastily as the real "book of the law" a composition of which he really knew nothing, there were four means of detecting his error or his fraud:
   (1) The Jewish Liturgies, which embodied large portions of the Law;
   (2) The memory of living men, which in many instances may have extended to the entire five books, as it does now with the modern Samaritans;
   (3) Other copies, entire or fragmentary, existing among the more learned Jews, or in the Schools of the prophets; and
   (4) Quotations from the Law in other works, especially in the Psalmists and prophets, who refer to it on almost every page.
   The copy of the Book of the Law found by Hilkiah was no doubt that deposited, in accordance with the command of God, by Moses, by the side of the ark of the covenant, and kept ordinarily in the holy of holies (marginal reference). It had been lost, or secreted, during the desecration of the temple by Manasseh, but had not been removed out of the temple building.
   Further, the Bible doesn't specify that Josiah knew what the Torah said before the Book of the Law was discovered. 2 Kings 22 describes Josiah's piety before his discovery of the Book of the Law, which occurred during Remple renovations that he had ordered:
   2. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
   3. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
   4. Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:
   5. And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house...
   2 Kings 22:8 has Hilkiah say that he found Sepher hatōwrāh (הַתּוֹרָ֛ה), literally, "Writing/scroll/book/document of the Law." That sounds like "Scroll of the torah", ie. a Torah Scroll. Some English translations of 2 Kings 22:8 have Hilkiah say that he found "the book of the Law." Grammatically, we use "the" to refer to nouns with which we are already familiar, so The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges concluded that Hilkiah was already familiar with the book. But in fact, Hilkiah doesn't introduce the book to Shaphan as "the book of the Law" in the Hebrew verse. The verse says literally, "And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it." So one cannot in fact conclude that Joshiah and Hilkiah already knew of the rediscovered book.
   2 Kings 22:13 specifies that after hearing the Book of the Law, Josiah was distraught because the Lord would act wrathfully because of his people's predecessors' sins. Then, the prophetess Huldah predicted that Josiah himself would not see the desolation imposed on the nation, since he was humble and wept because of the wrongdoing.

<<Does the Babylonian king's praise of God suggest (at least to Josephus) that this king believed in God or was talking about the one ultimate true God?>>
Josephus cites the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, as declaring to King Zedekiah in Book X, Chp. 8:2 of the Antiquities: "But great is God who in His abhorrence of your conduct has made you fall into our hands." Thackeray's Footnote correctly observes: "These remarks on Nebuchadnezzar's behaviour and speech are an addition to Scripture." The corresponding Bible chapters according to Thackeray are 2 Kings 25, Jer. 39, Jer. 52. In Jeremiah 34, God tells Jeremiah to tell King Zedekiah: "Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire". This is similar to what Josephus has the Babylonian King say.
   So the question really asks how Josephus would have interpreted his own quotation of the Babylonian king's declaration, ie. Was the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar saying that the Jewish God delivered them into his hands, or did the Babylonian king shared the theological concept of the one ultimate true God, which was shared by some ancient religions and philosophers?
   The answer is that Josephus must mean that the king was referring to the God of the Jews, and based on the Babylonian king's praises of God in the Book of Daniel, Josephus is referring to King Nebuchadnezzar's belief in their God that is narrated in Daniel.   
   Linus Morris, in his talk "Will Nebuchadnezzar be in heaven?", said:
Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan who believed in the Babylonia pantheon of gods. His name meant: “O god Nebu, preserve my firstborn.” Nebu was the Babylonian deity of wisdom, son of the god Marduk, the head of the Babylonian pantheon of gods.
   Daniel got his own Babylonian name in Daniel 1:5-7, which says:
And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar...
Daniel received the name as part of his joining Babylonian society. This occurred before the king discovered Daniel's success at deciphering dreams and the other miracles that led Nebuchadnezzar to praise Daniel's God. In Daniel 4, the Babylonian king notes the origin of Daniel's name of Belteshazzar:
8. At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods ["Elahin"]—and I told him the dream, saying, 9. “O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation.
This explanation of the name suggests that the Babylonian king's god was different than David's. This in turn entails that when the Babylonian king later explicitly praised the God of Daniel and of the youths who survived the fire, the king was specifically praising the Jews' God, Jehovah, rather than just praising the one ultimate Deity as conceived across religions.
   In response to Daniel's decipherment of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the king tells Daniel in Daniel 2:47: “Your God is truly the God of gods and Lord of kings, a revealer of mysteries, since you were able to reveal this mystery.” The king's declaration that Daniel's God was the God of Gods (Elah Elahin) implied henotheism, with Daniel's God being the highest in the system. However, the Book of Daniel narrates Nebuchadnezzar's development of his faith beyond this point as becoming increasingly focused on the Jews' God.
   In Daniel 3, the king put the three Jewish youths in the fire because although he had called Daniel's God the "God of Gods" in Daniel 2:47, he still wanted the other gods' idols worshiped, which the youths refused to do. Then, on seeing that the youths survived the fire, the king became further impressed by their God, calling to the youths to leave the firey area: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” (Daniel 3:26) Thereupon the king declared his respect that they only worshiped their God:
28. Nebuchadnezzar declared, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be cut into pieces and their houses will be reduced to rubble. For there is no other god who can deliver in this way.”
The king's respect that the youths only worshiped their own God reflects monotheism or monolatrous henotheism. His declaration's focus on worshiping their God alone entailed that his praise for God was not just expression of the king already holding a philosophical henotheistic or inclusive monotheistic understanding of one ultimate God as expressed in other religions.
   Morris in his talk "Will Nebuchadnezzar be in heaven?" said:
Nebuchadnezzar is not only impressed that God reveals, but that he also rescues. Nebuchadnezzar’s advisers had earlier expressed the Babylonian belief that the gods “do not live among men.” Nebuchadnezzar conceded that the God of Daniel was a revealer of mysteries. Now he perceives that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came among them to rescue and save them. Their God was not distant. Their God was not indifferent. Their God was not impersonal.

<<It's curious that Josephus and Scripture would describe Zedekiah as wicked, but then Josephus and the rabbis would describe him as good.>>
Josephus is using an idea wherein the ruler is personally good but that his court is bad and that thus the king acts unjustly. So Josephus writes in Antiquities X that King Zedekiah/Sacchias "was contemptuous of justice and duty, for those of his own about him were impious, and the entire multitude had licence to act as outrageously as it pleased... Now the king [Zedekiah] himself, because of his goodness and sense of justice, was in no way personally resentful [to Jeremiah] but, in order not to incur the hostility of the leaders by opposing their wishes at such a time, he gave them leave to do as they liked with the prophet."

<<Does Josephus mean in Book X that after the Babylonian conquest, there were no more kings descended from David who ruled the Jews? What about the Hasmoneans?>>
Yes, this is what he meant. Under Persian rule, Judah was not independent, but they had Davidic governors. The Hasmoneans were from the Tribe of Levi.

<<Does Josephus see Daniel 9's passage on the ruination of the Temple as predicting both Antiochus' 2nd century BC desecration of the Temple, as well as the Romans' c.70 destruction of it? If so, how could he legitimately interpret the same prophecy to refer to both events?>>
The short answer is that he never specifies that Daniel prophesied Antiochus' rule in Daniel 9. But he does write that Daniel predicted the Roman conquest of 70 AD, and he must have in mind Daniel 9, because he says that the Jewish scriptures had a famous prediction of the Temple's destruction, and this is only clearly and directly found in Daniel 9. Further, Josephus would have been intelligent and careful enough about dates to realize that Daniel 9 lays out a chronological prediction of the Second Temple's destruction, and that this chronology points to a time that must come after Antiochus' reign in the 2nd century BC. If Josephus had thought that Daniel 9 pointed to both the events of Antiochus' time and the Roman conquest, he would have been theorizing that it was a prophecy that repeated itself and thereby applied to two separate sets of events. But as I mentioned, he must have realized that Daniel 9 could not have pointed to Antiochus' rule for chronological reasons.
   First, let me go through the passages where Josephus potentially connects the Book of Daniel with Antiochus' reign in the 2nd-1st century BC, in order to show that he doesn't clearly identify Daniel 9 in particular with Antiochus' reign.
   In Antiquities X, Josephus explicitly related Daniel's vision of the horns (symbolizing Greek princes), and seemingly also the 1290 days of forbidding the sacrifices - prophecies that are in Daniel 8 and 12 and not in Daniel 9 - to Antiochus Epiphanes. There, Josephus wrote:   
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...
1296 days is 3.55 years. Daniel 8 talks about the horns/Greek princes, and Loeb's edition notes that in Daniel 8:14, the Greek prince receives the sanctuary to trample it for "two thousand and three hundred evening-mornings", or 1150 days, about 3.15 years. It is later, in Daniel 12, v. 11, that Daniel writes: "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away... a thousand two hundred and ninety days."(1290 days) So Josephus is relating Daniel 8, and apparently 12 to Antiochus.
   In The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination, Duncan W. McKenzie theorizes: "Josephus is attributing the transgression of desolation of Daniel 8 (and presumably 11:31) to Antiochus IV." He suggests that the 2300 evening-mornings or 3.15 years of Daniel 8:14 are "the 3 years that Josephus references in regards to Antiochus' abomination".
   In Wars of the Jews, Book 1 Chapter 1:1, Josephus narrates Antiochus spoiling the Temple and stopping the sacrifice in the Temple for 3 1/2 years, and although here in Wars of the Jews Josephus does not connect these 3 1/2 years with Daniel's prophecies, one might imagine that Josephus had in mind either the 3 1/2 years of Daniel 9 or the 1290 days in Daniel 12. This is because, for example, Josephus apparently related Daniel 12's 1290 day (3.55 year) desolation to Antiochus' rule in Antiquities X.
   In Antiquities 12.5.4 §253, Josephus wrote that Antiochus IV built "an idol altar on God's altar... and slew swine on it." This is relevant because Daniel 9 says, "And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate". Nonetheless, this reference in Antiquities XII might not refer to Daniel 9, but rather to Daniel 11, which described a prophesied Northern King's Blasphemies and refers directly to the "abomination of desolation": "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation."
   In telling the story of the festival of Lights in Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII (Lines 319-326), Josephus says that Antiochus made the Temple desolate for 3 years, "And this desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before; for he declared that the Macedonians would stop that worship [for some time]." It sounds like he is referring to Daniel 8, which talked about the Greek horn stopping sacrifices for 1150 days, ie 3 years.
   Timothy Kauffman, in his article "The Seventieth Week of Daniel 9", notes an inconsistency in that whereas in Wars, Book I, Josephus says that Antiochus stopped sacrifices for 3.5 years as per Daniel's prophecy, in Antiquities, Book X, Josephus says that Daniel prophesied that Antiochus “should spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years’ time”. Kauffman explains the discrepancy this way:
The inconsistency is likely due to the fact that 1 Maccabees reports that the Statue of Jupiter had defiled the temple for exactly three years to the day (1 Maccabees 1:54, 4:52-54). Yet the way 1 Maccabees 1:41-53 describes the prohibition of sacrifices, the actual decree to prohibit the sacrifices is described as a separate event prior to the erection of the idol, apparently taking place earlier the same year. Thus in Wars, Josephus seems to identify a three and a half year period during which sacrifices were prohibited by decree, and within that period, three years during which sacrifices were impossible due to the presence of the abomination on the altar. He confirms this reading later in Antiquities (Book XII, chapter 7, paragraph 6).(
   Now I want to show the connections that Josephus apparently saw between Daniel 9 and the Roman conquest. In Antiquities X, after relating that Daniel's vision of the horns (found in Daniel 8) predicted Antiochus' conquest (as I quoted earlier), Josephus wrote: "In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, and that our country should be made desolate by them." Josephus does not specify where exactly Daniel predicted the Roman conquest, only that he did so in the same manner as his predictions about Antiochus' conquest.
   In Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chp. 6, Josephus says that there was a prophecy that the Temple would be burnt to the ground and the city captured, and Dan. 9 is the clearest such prophecy. Gerald Sigal connects Josephus' discussion on the killing of the High Priest Ananus and the purging of the sanctuary by fire in Wars of the Jews Book IV with Daniel 9's prophecy on the cutting off of the Anointed One. Josephus says in Wars of the Jews, Book VI.2.1, that the sacrifice failed in the Temple during the Roman war, which brings to mind the stopping of the sacrifices for 3 1/2 years in Daniel 9. And in Wars VI, Chp. 2, Josephus refers again to a famous prophecy about the city's conquest:
who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, - and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city? For they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own countrymen.
   Josephus had given a calculation of years for the length of the time that the Second Temple had stood, and the chronology of those years would show that the Second Temple must have been destroyed some time after Antiochus' reign. This is because Daniel 9 predicted that the Temple would be destroyed after 483 years following an order to rebuild Jerusalem in the wake of the 6th century BC Babylonian captivity. Josephus must have been familiar enough with the chronology to understand that Daniel 9 pointed to a time after Antiochus' rule. Plus, Josephus in Book IV related an unnamed prophecy of the Temple's destruction to the Roman conquest, and Daniel 9 is the only such clear, direct prophecy regarding the Temple.

<<How does one address the potential disparity with the scripture that while the Hebrew version of Esther says Haman was hanged on a tree, Josephus (in Book XI) and the Septuagint says that he was hanged on a cross or crucified?>>
Haman could have been impaled, since impalement (unlike hanging) was a well known Persian punishment, the Biblical word for tree (used here) also means pole, the Bible elsewhere uses a different verb for hanging, and Haman's dead sons were displayed in the same way. ("How did Haman die in the book of Esther?" In Genesis 40:19-22, Pharaoh hangs the baker after decapitating him, meaning that his headless body was displayed on a pole.
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 #279 on: December 19, 2019, 09:40:23 PM »

<<Did the Seleucid king Antiochus secretly kill the leader Hyrcanus ben Joseph? Was Hyrcanus overly fearful of Antiochus in killing himself?>>
We do not have enough information to show that Hyrcanus was secretly killed, since Josephus is our only clearly ancient source on his death. However, Hyrcanus would not have been overly fearful in killing himself in light of his political options and Antiochus' brutality.
   I wondered if King Antiochus or his supporters arranged for Hyrcanus' death, because Hyrcanus' death was very convenient for Antiochus. Plus, Antiochus seemed capable of using Machiavellian tactics, because Antiochus killed his own sympathizer, Menelaus. Antiochus killed Menelaus in order to blame him for the Jews' complaints over the temple's desecration when Antiochus may have really been in part to blame himself.
   The killings occurred in the 2nd century BC during the rivalry between two Hellenistic dynasties: the Middle Eastern Seleucids and the Egyptian Ptolemies. Hyrcanus, son of the Jewish leader Joseph ben Tobiah, paid tribute to the Ptolemies. But Hyrcanus' Tobiad brothers allied with the Seleucids, who appointed Onias (AKA Menelaus) to officiate in the Temple, which Antiochus desecrated. Hyrcanus left Jerusalem, built fortresses on the eastern side of the Jordan, and fought the Arabs there.
   In Book XII, Chp. 4, Josephus narrated the events leading to the death of Hyrcanus:
And he [Hyrcanus] ruled over those parts for seven years, during all the time that Seleucus reigned over Asia. Now when this king died, his brother Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, Occupied the throne after him... As for Hyrcanus, seeing how great was the power which Antiochus had, and fearing that he might be captured by him and punished for what he had done to the Arabs, he ended his life by his own hand. And all his property was seized by Antiochus.
   Hyrcanus had already fought his Judean brothers on behalf of Ptolemaic Egypt, which had since weakened, and Antiochius was a tough ruler toward the Jews. So Hyrcanus would not have had many strong options, like negotiating with his opponents (ie. his Judean rivals and Antiochus) or fleeing to Egypt.
   Wikipedia's "Hasmonean Dynasty" article refers to the accusations of political killings between Judean political groups in this era, the Tobiads being the dynasty to which Hyrcanus and his rival brothers belonged:
In 175 BCE, conflict broke out between High Priest Onias III (who opposed Hellenization and favoured the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favoured Hellenization and the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with both Jason and Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest.
   The case of Antiochus VII Sidetes, a successor of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, serves as an example in the 2nd Century BC of the tactic of killing an enemy and then announcing that he killed himself. Wikipedia's article on Antiochus VII Sidetes notes:
That winter (130–129 BC), several Median towns rose in rebellion and attacked their Seleucid garrisons. Antiochus marched to support one such isolated garrison with only a small force (probably only his Royal Guards). In a barren valley, he was ambushed and killed in the Battle of Ecbatana by Phraates II and a large force of Parthians, who had entered the country without being detected. After the battle the Parthians told the people that Antiochus killed himself because of fear, but the last great Seleucid king died in battle, a fitting end for the heir of Seleucus I Nicator (the Victor).
   Wikipedia's article on the Tobiads says that the two sources for Hyrcanus are Josephus and II Maccabees III, and that:
Wellhausen ... regards the suicide of Hyrcanus as probable, since the latter supported the Ptolemies against the new régime of the Syrians, and might consequently fear the revenge of Antiochus IV. II Macc. iii. 11 mentions money deposited by Hyrcanus, the son of Tobias, "a man of great dignity", taking it for granted that a friendship existed between Onias II and Hyrcanus, a supposition which is very reasonable, since only the other Tobiads, the brothers of Hyrcanus, were involved in quarrels with the legitimate high priest.
   In The Tales of the Tobiads, Jonathan Goldstein provides more background on Hyrcanus' alliance with the Ptolemies of Egyot, and their weakening:
However, when the forceful Antiochus IV (175-164) replaced Seleucus IV and the Ptolemaic empire was left under a weak regime of child-heirs (Ptolemy VI Philometer, 180-145, and his younger brother), Hyrcanus committed suicide rather than fall into Antiochus' hands, and his property was seized by Antiochus. ... Josephus' own account puts Hyrcanus' suicide in the reign of Antiochus IV and suggests that Ptolemaic weakness had as much to do with Hyrcanus' suicide as had Seleucid power. Antiochus IV is not reported to have invaded Transjordan. Hence, his reported confiscation of Hyrcanus' property probably took place when he sacked the temple in 169...
   Jason's coup is described as pro-Ptolemaic at B.J. i.I.I.32... Further, confirmation of Jason's position can be found in the fact that after the failure of his coup he fled first to the Ammanitis (II Maccabees 5:7), stronghold of the pro-Ptolemaic Hyrcanus, who probably committed suicide shortly before.
   David Kauffman, a rabbinical student, wrote in the Discussion group for "The Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature" that Hyrcanus, "committed suicide or was killed. Josephus had a thing about suicide and I'm not so sure that this point is accurate". What Kauffman was alluding to was the questionable issue of suicide in Josephus' histories. In particular, the story of Josephus' soldiers killing themselves instead of surrendering, as well as that of the defenders of Masada, have been questioned by some writers as to their accuracy. On the other hand, Josephus was more sympathetic to Hyrcanus than to Antiochus, so he might not be predisposed to deliberately make up an ignominious account about Hyrcanus.
   There is a local Jordanian legend that Qasr Al-Abd, the castle on the east of the Jordan River that historians tend to think that the Tobiad ruler Hyrcanus built, was built by "Tobias", and that Tobias was killed. Wikipedia's article on Qasr Al-Abd says:
Although little is known for definite about the history of Qasr al-Abd it is widely believed to have been built by a Tobiad notable, Hyrcanus of Jerusalem, head of the powerful Tobiad family and governor of Ammon. Credence for this theory is gained from the fact that the Hebrew name 'Tuvya' or 'Toviyya' (Tobias) is engraved (טוביה but in a more Aramaic script) above the adjacent burial caves of Iraq al-Amir... According to a local legend, Tobias was a commoner who fell in love with the daughter of a nobleman. When he asked for her hand in marriage, the nobleman said that Tobias could only have her hand if he built the so-called "Castle of the Slave." After completing the castle, the nobleman had Tobias killed as he did not want his daughter marrying a commoner.
Josephus notes that after he killed himself, "all his property was seized by Antiochus", which suggests Antiochus' power and hostility to Hyrcanus. Plus, Antiochus' killing of Menelaus suggests that Antiochus was dangerous enough that he was a severe threat. So certainly Hyrcanus would have been reasonable to fear Antiochus. It seems that Hyrcanus would have had difficulty negotiating with Antiochius, since Antiochus ravaged the Temple and persecuted those who resisted his rule.
   Jonathan Goldstein, in his article "Tales of the Tobiads", describes how Hyrcanus would have had a difficulty political situation in that era:
Hyrcanus was regarded as a rebel by the Seleucid kings, and his brothers had the favor and support of Antiochus IV, who at their behest massacred the pro-Ptolemaic faction in Jerusalem (BJ i. I.I.; cf. AJ xii. 5.3)... the death of Ptolemy V in 180 and the bungling regime of the guardians of his child-heirs left Hyrcanus with small hope of support. Hyrcanus' death can be placed with considerable confidence late in 170 or in 169 when Antiochus IV's victories in Egypt seemed to end all hope that the Ptolemies would reconquer Syria and Palestine. Against this dating stands the note at AJ xii.4.II that Hyrcanus' career as robber-baron lasted "Seven years, through all the time that Seleucus was king of Syria". The natural interpretation of the words is that Hyrcanus was a robber-baron for no longer than seven years, and that his career came to an end only a short time after the death of Seleucus IV. If so, the seven years would extend from 182/1 to 175 or 174. This would be in harmony with the implication of AJ xii.4.II that Ptolemy V (Died 180) died after Hyrcanus became a robber-baron. However, Josephus appears not to have understood his sources properly. The same passage has Ptolemy V dying at the same time as Seleucus IV, or later.
If Antiquities XII.4-5 is to be understood chronologically, then Hyrcanus died after the deaths of both Seleucus IV (ruled c. 187 - 175 BC) and Ptolemy V (died in 180 BC), but before Antiochus IV's invasion of Egypt (c.170-16).
   So there are reasons to question the claim of suicide, like the treachery of the era. But Hyrcanus was in a dangerous situation and we don't have any other clearly ancient records that assert that he was assassinated.

<<How would you explain Antiochus' killing of Menelaus/Onias (Book XII, Chp. 9), whom Antiochus had appointed to officiate in Jerusalem's temple?>>
As Volnutt explained in this thread, Antiochus was laying the blame on Menelaus for the people's complaints, even if Antiochus was at least partly to blame.

<<The various Judean groups' alliances among each other in the Hasmonean period that Josephus discusses are a bit confusing for me.>>
Here is a geneological diagram of the Hasmonean leaders:

<<The Hasmoneans, who were not descended from David, successfully led the revolt against the Syrians and Greeks. In the period after the revolt during which the Jewish nation was relatively independent of those nations, didn't anyone tried to install a ruler of the line of David? Or did the Hasmoneans just wish to keep their own control and so did not allow for such a change in power?>>
The Hasmoneans' rejection of inviting a Davidic heir to the throne has been a longstanding rabbinical criticism of the Hasmoneans.

<<How was the land of Judah a terror to Egypt in the 2nd to 1st century BC? Alternately, if the land of Judah wasn't a terror to Egypt, then did the prophecy of Isaiah 19 about a temple being built in Egypt not really apply to that period? And what Egyptian city does the prophecy refer to that would be called the "city of destruction"?>>
It was a terror in the sense that it was the natural route of invasion from Syria to Egypt, and it was brutalized by Antiochus IV, whose forces were a threat to Egypt. The prophecy itself was also frightening for Egypt, but only to a lesser extent, since Egypt at the time was mostly pagan and thus unlikely to believe it. If the land of Judah was not a terror in the 2nd-1st century BC, the prophecy of the Temple in Egypt could still apply to the 2nd-1st century BC for two reasons: (1) Isaiah 19:18-19 says that "in that day" the land of Judah will be a terror and "in that day" an altar will be in Egypt to the Lord. "That day" could refer to a broad apocalyptic era, so that the altar could be built in the 2nd-1st Cent. BC, and then at another point in that broad era (eg. during the Islamic conquest that came via Palestine and the Sinai, the land became a terror to Egypt. Or (2) God could have inspired a prophecy of the land being a terror to Egypt, but then God could have relented, as He did in the case of Jonah's prophecy of Nineveh's destruction. The "City of Destruction" refers to Heliopolis (meaning "Sun City" in Greek), because Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of its idols, and because the Hebrew word for "Destruction" sounds like a Hebrew word for "Sun." So the city would be called the "City of Destruction" at least as a label, and not necessarily as the city's official name.
   In Book 13, Chp. 3, Josephus relates that Onias, the son of the high priest Onias, had fled to Alexandria in Egypt and
determined to send to King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra and request of them authority to build a temple in Egypt similar to that at Jerusalem, and to appoint Levites and priests of his own race. In this desire he was encouraged chiefly by the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had lived more than six hundred years before and had foretold that a temple to the Most High God was surely to be built in Egypt by a Jew.'
   Thackeray's Footnote:
   Is. xix. 19, " In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord." vs. 18 some scholars emend "ir hn-heres " city of destruction " to "ir hu-heres " city of the sun," supposing this to be an allusion to the name Heliopolis "city of the sun."
In Josephus' narrative, Onias requested to build the new temple on the ruins of the temple to Bubastis, and Ptolemy the Egyptian ruler replied to Onias:
We wonder, therefore, whether it \nll be pleasing to God that a temple be built in a place so wild and full of sacred animals. But since vou say that the prophet Isaiah foretold this long ago, we grant your request if this is to be in accordance with the Law...
Below is the prophecy from Isaiah 19 that encouraged Onias ben Onias to build the temple in Egypt:
17. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts, which he hath determined against it. 18. In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. 19. In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. 20. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. 21. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it.
The NIV notes that, "Some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Symmachus and Vulgate" say "City of the Sun".
   Onias' temple would count as "an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt", because his temple would have an altar dedicated to Israel's God. Christ who was a child in Egypt, became known to Egyptians, and gave them spiritual salvation could fulfill Isaiah 19:20 spiritually wherein "they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them."
   "Destruction" is close to "sun" in Hebrew, off by a letter (hehres vs. khehres). Kheres means "sun" in Judges 8:13; 14:18, Job 9:7. Job 9:7 goes: "Which commandeth the sun (לַ֭חֶרֶס), and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars." The context suggests that the likely term in the Biblical text is "city of destruction", not "city of the sun". This is because in verses 17-20: A) destruction causes "terror", and (B) the cities speaking Canaanite sounds like they would subjugated or conquered, which can be associated with destruction in war (eg. one of the 5 cities or their neighbors was destroyed), and (C) the Egyptians are crying out because of oppressors, which can also be related to destruction
   The "City of the Sun" was a name for the Egyptian city (Heliopolis) based on their own pagan religion that focused on the sun. The similarity of "ir hn-heres " city of destruction " to "ir hu-heres " city of the sun" in Hebrew suggests that Isaiah could be making a play on words. The entry on Heliopolis in Wikipedia says:
Heliopolis is the Latinized form of the Greek name Hēlioúpolis (Ἡλιούπολις), meaning "City of the Sun". Helios, the personified and deified form of the sun, was identified by the Greeks with the native Egyptian gods Ra and Atum, whose principal cult was located in the city. ... Its native name was I͗wnw ("The Pillars")... Its traditional Egyptological transcription is Iunu but it appears in biblical Hebrew as ʔÔn (אֹ֖ן[4]), ʔŌwn (אֽוֹן[5]), and ʔĀwen (אָ֛וֶן[6])
   [4] Gen. 41:45
   [5] Gen. 41:50
   [6] Ezekiel 30:17, Amos 1:5
This city was a focus for worshiping the sun gods Ra and Horus. The Greek name would most strongly apply in the 2nd century BC and onwards with the Alexandrian conquest.
   Barnes' Notes suggest that the "Land of Judah" being "a terror unto Egypt" means that Egypt would be scared because of the destruction that another empire had wrought in the Land of Judah before potentially invading Egypt:
This cannot be understood to mean that they were in danger from an invasion by the Jews, for at that time [ie. Isaiah's time] they were not at war, and Judah had no power to overrun Egypt. Jarchi and Kimchi suppose that the passage means that the Egyptians would hear what had occurred to the army of Sennacherib on its overthrow, and that they would be alarmed as if a similar fate was about to come upon them. But the more probable interpretation is that which refers it to the "invasion" of Judah by Sennacherib. The Egyptians would know of that. Indeed, the leading design of Sennacherib was to invade Egypt, and Judah and Jerusalem were to be destroyed only "in the way" to Egypt. And when the Egyptians heard of the great preparations of Sennacherib, and of his advance upon Judah (see Isaiah 10:28-31), and knew that his design was to invade them, 'the land of Judah' would be 'a terror,' because they apprehended that he would make a rapid descent upon them. Vitringa, however, supposes that the sense is, that the Egyptians in their calamities would remember the prophecies of Jeremiah and others, of which they had heard, respecting their punishment; that they would remember that the prophecies respecting Judah had been fulfilled, and that thus Judah would be a terror to them "because" those predictions had come out of Judah.
   Barnes is making a good point, because the text says that the "Land" of Judah would be a terror, not that Judah, ie. the nation itself, would be a terror to Egypt. This distinction suggests that something like an invasion might happen in the land of Judah that could frighten the Egyptians.
   The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary sees Judah as a threat in Isaiah's era, in that Judah was allied with Assyria (and one might add that there were Jewish allies of the Seleucids, who threatened Egypt in the 2nd century BC):
17. Judah … terror unto Egypt—not by itself: but at this time Hezekiah was the active subordinate ally of Assyria in its invasion of Egypt under Sargon. Similarly to the alliance of Judah with Assyria here is 2Ki 23:29, where Josiah takes the field against Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt, probably as ally of Assyria against Egypt [G. V. Smith].
   Wikipedia's article on Bible Prophecy theorizes that the "terror" is the prophecy and God's plans for Egypt, and that "that day" refers to an eschatological period:
Some theologians argue the statement that the "land of Judah" will terrify the Egyptians is not a reference to a large army from Judah attacking Egypt but a circumlocution for the place where God lives. They argue it is God and his plans that will cause Egypt to be terrified. They go on to argue the second "in that day" message from verse 18 announces the beginning of a deeper relationship between God and Egypt which leads to Egypt's conversion and worshiping God (verses 19–21). They say the last "in that day" prophecy (verses 23–25) speaks about Israel, Assyria and Egypt as God's special people, thus, describing eschatological events.
   Matthew Poole's Commentary theorizes that the land of Judah would be a terror for either of two reasons:
   1. Because of Judah’s calamities and desolations; for Judah was their bulwark against the Assyrians and Babylonians; and when this bulwark was removed, the Egyptians, their neighbours and confederates, had just cause to fear. Or,
   2. Because of their manifold both former and later injuries against Judah, for which they now apprehend that God is calling them to an account; which interpretation seems to be favoured by the following words; for their fear of mentioning Judah’s name seems to have proceeded partly from the sense of their guilt and miscarriages towards Judah, and partly from their apprehensions and experience of the irresistible power and justice of the God of Judah, whom they had provoked, and who was now marching to plead his own and Judah’s cause against them.
   Gill's Exposition theorizes that the land of Judah would be a terror to Egypt
on account of what they should hear had befallen the land of Judea, and the cities of it, by the invasion of Sennacherib's army, which had taken and laid them waste; the tidings of which being brought them a panic would seize them, fearing that they should next fall a sacrifice to them, because of their alliance with them, and nearness to them, there being only the land of the Philistines between them and Egypt; and Judea being invaded and overrun, the way was open for the Assyrian army into their country
THe same logic that Gill uses to explain the verse - that the Assyrian invasion of Judea frightened Egypt - could also apply to the 2nd century, since the Seleucid invasion of Judea would frighten Egypt.
   The KJV's concordance points to Isaiah 14, which sasy:
24. The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25. That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot:
Read Isaiah 19's reference to the "land of Judah" in a similar way, the "land of Judah" could have been a "terror" in the sense that Egypt suffered defeat there. In the battle of Panaeum in the Golan region in c. 200 BC, the Egyptian Ptolemaic kingdom was defeated by the Seleucids, after which the Seleucids took Judea. Michael Zank writes in his "History of Jerusalem Under the Ptolemies":
The century of Ptolemaic rule over Judah/Palestine and Phoenicia ends when Antiochus III ("the Great"), scion of the Seleukids ruling the eastern parts of the lands conquered by Alexander, asserts his claim to the coastal cities and the rest of the southern Levant by several military campaigns. A decisive victory at Panias (Banyas) in 198 forces the young Greco-Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy V., to yield. After the Ptolemaic garrison is driven from Jerusalem, Antiochus, welcomed by an established pro-Syrian party among the priestly aristocrats who hoped for a more lenient system of administration, reaffirmed the right of the Yehudim to live by their paternal laws.
   Fred Miller, in his essay "Isaiah 19: A Temple Built in Egypt", writes that
control over all of Palestine passed to the Selucids under Antiochus the Great about 180 BC and Helenization of the Jewish state was pursued in earnest. After the Macabbean revolt (circa 160 BC) the Jews reclaimed religious freedom first and political freedom followed shortly after the Hasmonean dynasty was established and an appeal by the Macabbees to the Roman Senate for protection brought recognition of an independent Jewish state which lasted about 100 years. ... Onias, son of Onias the high priest, was forced by a usurper to abandon his rightful claim to the high priesthood in Jerusalem, and he fled to Egypt, where he built an alternative Temple in Egypt over 150 years before the Christian era. ...after the death of Antiochus Epiphanies. Alcimus, not of the family of the priests, was then placed in the office by the Greeks who still ruled the area from Antioch. It was at that time that Onias, son of the previous Onias who had been deposed, fled to Egypt and received permission to build a Temple near Alexandria.
   As for the "City of Destruction", Fred Miller shows that it refers to On/Heliopolis based on wordplay in his essay "Isaiah 19: A Temple Built in Egypt":
Heliopolis/On, located near the first juncture of the Nile delta on the east side, means in Greek: "City of the Sun." In Hebrew that name is Beth Shemesh (House of the Sun) and without doubt Jeremiah makes reference to Heliopolis/On in Jeremiah: 43:13 "He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire." The Egyptian name of the city is On. It is one of the cities of Egypt that Ezekiel 30:17 says will be punished and there is called AVEN in the KJV which in Hebrew has the same spelling as On. This may be a "play on Words" in Ezekiel because the word for iniquity or evil is also the same spelling and pronounced Ah-van or Ah-von. "Ah-von" is also a synonym for idol and is so used in Isaiah 66:3 (as if he blessed and ""aven" or idol. Thus, following the precedent set by Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah may be using alliterations to refer to Heliopolis and its idols to Ra the sun god. Jeremiah calls it Beth Shemesh which is Hebrew for Heliopolis and Ezekiel calls it "evil" (Ah-van) which are the Hebrew letters for On. This name and spelling is found in many Bible references (beginning with Gen 41:50 which refers to Joseph's father in law who was priest of On or Heliopolis and was a priest of Ra the sun god as his name indicates,.-- Potephe-Rah. He was priest of the Sun God in the "City of the Sun" or "ir ha-cheres" which is Isaiah's "play on words."
   Miller also shows how the city was destroyed by the Persians and so were the idols, which explains why it could be called the City of Destruction:
The only difference in the use of these words is with "heth" in the first example that we transliterate "ch"and of "he" or "h" in the second which is the reading in the Masoretic of Isaiah. "Heres" means destruction while "Charas" or "Cheres" is a reference to the sun, although not the ordinary word for sun which is "shemesh." "Cheres" is translated "sun' in Judges 14:18 "before the sun went down;" and in Job 9:7 "Who commands the sun and it rises not." Thus in Isaiah 19:18 he names one of the 5 cities and identifies it through a "play on words" as Heliopolis, city of the sun. That city is first mentioned over a millennium before as an important city in Gen 41:50 and it was still an important city at Isaiah's writing. It was destroyed by the Persians and never rebuilt but a city was rebuilt close by in the actual environs of Heliopolis by Onias who built his Temple there and it became another refuge for Jews where people worshipped YHWH for more than 200 years. Thus the city of the Sun ('ir ha-cheres) was the city On (Aven) whose evil or idols (Ah- von) to the "Sun God" were destroyed physically by the Persians and spiritually by Onias.
   The Targum on Isaiah 19:18 rephrases the part about the City of Destruction to mean:
At that time, there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt, speaking the language of Canaan, and swearing by the name of the Lord of hosts. The city of Beth-Shemesh, which is to be destroyed, shall be called one of them.
The Targum is helpful, because Jeremiah 43 has a similar prophecy about Beth-Shemesh:
12. And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace. 13. He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh [Literally "House/Temple of the Sun"], that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.
   So Isaiah 19's reference to the "City of Destruction" and is making a play on words, with "City of the Sun" being another meaning that the Targum reveals. The city could be called "City of Destruction" in the sense that as Jeremiah 43 says, the idols would be smashed there. This could have occurred in Egypt's Christian or Islamic periods.

<<NOTE: There is a curious issue in Book XIII, Chp. 4, where according to Josephus, Apollonius attacks Jonathan, Jonathan defeats Apollonius, King Alexander pretends to be pleased with Jonathan's victory and rewards him, and Thackeray criticizes Josephus' narrative.>>
Thackeray notes:
As was remarked above, § 88 note d, Apollonius was fighting for Demetrius II, not for Alexander Balas. The following section is therefore a distortion of 1 Mace. x. 88-89, which tells how Alexander honoured Jonathan for his victory over Apollonius. Josephus' phrase "pretended to be pleased" is in direct contradiction to the phrase in 1 Mace., ... "he continued still further to honour Jonathan."
Apparently, Josephus made a mistake, as King Alexander in reality would tend to be pleased by the defeat of a rival's commander, Appollonius.

<<Were the Hasmoneans the legitimate kingly line and Onias' family the legitimate priestly line, and they had a falling out so that Onias went into exile in Egypt and the Hasmoneans took over the priesthood? Does that make Jesus related to the Hasmoneans? Were the Hasmoneans allied with the Sadduccee priests and in opposition to the pharisees?>>
The Hasmoneans (the Maccabees beings a Hasmonean family) were from the priestly tribe of Levi, and were not from the Davidic kingly line like Jesus was. The Wikipedia entry on "Davidic Line" says: "The Levites had always been excluded from the Israelite monarchy, so when the Maccabees assumed the throne in order to rededicate the defiled Second Temple, a cardinal rule was broken." Under Seleucid rule, Onias III yielded the high priesthood to his brother Jason, a Hellenizer, whereas Onias III's son Onias IV went into exile in Egypt. Onias III and IV, and Onias III's brother Jason belonged to the priestly Zadokite dynasty, descended from Zadok who served in David's time. After Jason, Menelaus became high priest, and then, Alcimus became high priest. Alcimus descended from Aaron but wasn't of High Priest lineague. After his death, the Maccabees revolted and took both political power and the High Priesthood. The Hasmoneans were of priestly Levite descent, but many scholars think that they weren't Zadokites, and that so the exiled Onias IV was the legitimate heir to the High Priesthood. In "Were the hasmoneans Zadokites" (J.Bib. Lit., 2005), Alison Schofield sugests that the Hasmoneans were Zadokites, since 1 Macc 2:54 has Mattathias say to his sons: "Phineas our ancestor, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood." Schofield comments: "If, as he seems to be doing, Mattathis appeals to Phinehas as their ancestor, he is placing his family in the line of Eleazar, from which the Zadokites came." Schofield also writes that the Maccabean leader John Hyrcanus transferred his loyalty from the Pharisees to the Sadduccees. Jesus' geneology in the New Testament must not equate his ancestors with the Hasmoneans, since the conspiracy theory that Jesus is descended from the Hasmonean rulers is only a modern idea. According to the Wikipedia article on the Hasmonean Dynasty,
Although the Pharisees had opposed the wars of expansion of the Hasmoneans and the forced conversions of the Idumeans, the political rift between them became wider when Pharisees demanded that the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus choose between being king and being High Priest. In response, the king openly sided with the Sadducees by adopting their rites in the Temple. His actions caused a riot in the Temple and led to a brief civil war that ended with a bloody repression of the Pharisees, although at his deathbed the king called for a reconciliation between the two parties. Alexander was succeeded by his widow, Salome Alexandra, whose brother was Shimon ben Shetach, a leading Pharisee. Upon her death her elder son, Hyrcanus, sought Pharisee support, and her younger son, Aristobulus, sought the support of the Sadducees.

<<It doesn't sound right to me that if a woman was held captive against her will that it should disqualify her children from the priesthood. All the Israelites had been in captivity in Egypt and under Babylon, right?>>
I asked because in Book XIII, Chapter 10, Josephus wrote that once when Hyrcanus had a feast,
one of the guests, named Eleazar, who had an evil nature and took pleasure in dissension, said, "Since you have asked to be told the truth, if you wish to be righteous, give up the high-priesthood and be content with governing the people." And when Hyrcanus asked him for what reason he should give up the high-priesthood, he rephed, "Because we have heard from our elders that your mother was a captive in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes." But the story was false, and Hyrcanus was furious with the man, while all the Pharisees were very indignant.

Thackeray's note:
This would have been a violation of the laws, based on Lev. xxi. 14, concerning the genealogical qualifications of the high priest.
Leviticus 21:14 says about the high priest: "A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife." Apparently the pharisees took from this the idea that he could not marry a captive, as the wife could have been profaned by rape in captivity. Alison Schofield wrote that the fear that the woman had been raped in captivity was the basis for the ban on marrying captives. The Israelites had been in captivity in Egypt, but Leviticus was written after that captivity. Further, perhaps Eleazar was accusing Hyrcanus' ancestor of being in personal captivity, whereas under Babylon's political domination not all Jews were directly captured.
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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #280 on: December 21, 2019, 01:41:15 PM »

<<Did the Macedonians have some kind of uneasy arrangement with the Judean rebels whereby the rebels allowed them to stay?>>
They must have had ceasefires with them, considering how long they lived next to each other, with the Macedonian garrison being next to Maccabean-held Jerusalem. But there was also periodic fighting between the garrison and the Maccabees. The Maccabees tried besieging the garrison until 141, when the garrison surrendered due to the blockade.
   Josephus had recorded that the Jewish rebels captured Jerusalem, yet the Macedonians retained a garrison in a citadel in the middle of the city.
   In Book XII, Josephus described King Antiochus putting the guards in Jerusalem and building the city's citadel or "Acra". The citadel's garrison was combined with a settlement that included Greeks and their Jewish allies. In The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa, Getzel M. Cohen writes that the Macedonian Garrison in Jerusalem's "Akra" fortress had Macedonians, Jews who fled to live with them, and others like Cypriots, Phrygians, and Mysians. She cites Josephus' passage in Book XII, section 252:
He [Antiochus] also burnt down the finest buildings; and when he had overthrown the city walls, he built a citadel in the lower part of the city, 1 for the place was high, and overlooked the temple; on which account he fortified it with high walls and towers, and put into it a garrison of Macedonians. However, in that citadel dwelt the impious and wicked part of the [Jewish] multitude, from whom it proved that the citizens suffered many and sore calamities.
   Wikipedia's article "Acra (fortress)" gives more information about the garrison between Jerusalem's capture by the Maccabees in 164 BC and the Akra's capture in 141 BC:
In 164 BCE Judas Maccabaeus liberated Jerusalem and reconsecrated the Temple. Although the surrounding city had fallen, the Acra and its inhabitants held out. Maccabaeus besieged the fortress, whose inhabitants sent an appeal to the Seleucid king (now Antiochus V) for assistance. A Seleucid army was dispatched to put down the revolt. When it laid siege to Beth-Zur, Maccabaeus was forced to abandon his siege of the Acra and face Antiochus in battle. In the subsequent Battle of Beth-Zechariah, the Seleucids won their first victory over the Maccabees, and Maccabaeus was forced to withdraw.[21] Spared from capitulation, the Acra persisted as a Seleucid stronghold for 20 more years during which it weathered several Hasmonean attempts to oust the Greek garrison.[17][22]
   Judas besieging the Acra (Alba Bible, 1430)
   Judas was killed in 160 BCE and succeeded by his brother Jonathan, who attempted to build a barrier to cut off the Acra's supply line.[23] Jonathan had already assembled the manpower required for the task when he was forced to confront the invading army of Seleucid general Diodotus Tryphon at Beth Shan (Scythopolis).[24][25] Having invited Jonathan to a friendly conference, Tryphon had him seized and murdered.[26] Jonathan was succeeded by another brother, Simon, who besieged and finally captured the Acra in 141 BCE.
   So the Akra had a supply line strong enough, and the Maccabees' siege was weak or sporadic enough that the Maccabees tried to build a barrier to block the line, even though Judea in general had already been conquered by the Maccabees.
   So the Seleucids were not really totally defeated in 160 BC, since they still had strongholds like the Acra. And the Maccabees did not have constant control of the Temple in 164-160 BC. In 161, Judas the Maccabee died and the Seleucid Bacchides set himself up in the Acra along with Alcimus, who in 160 BC ruined part of the Temple - the wall between the inner court and the court of the gentiles.
   The Concise Dictionary also notes that up until c. 154 the Akra was holding Jewish hostages, pointing to 1 Macc. 10, which talks about how the Seleucid king Demetrius gave favors to Jonathan, hoping for Jonathan's support for him against his rival, the Greek king Alexander. King Demetrius II gave the Maccabees a letter ordering the Akra to release the hostages, which it did.   
   In 145 BC, the besieged Akra complained to the Seleucid king Demetrius II that Jonathan the Maccabee was besieging them, so Jonathan allayed King Demetrius II with presents in 1 Macc. 11:
20. In those days Jonathan gathered together the people of Judea to attack the citadel in Jerusalem, and they set up many siege engines against it. 21. But some transgressors of the law, enemies of their own nation, went to the king and informed him that Jonathan was besieging the citadel. 22. When Demetrius heard this, he was enraged; and as soon as he heard it, he set out and came to Ptolemais. He wrote to Jonathan to discontinue the siege and to meet him for a conference at Ptolemais as soon as possible.
The chapter in Maccabees says that the king at first promised to remove the garrison from the Akra in return for Jewish soldiers to support him, but then he gave up his promise when his position in Syria became more secure.
   In Book XIII, Chp. 4 (SS. 102-106), the Seleucid general Apollonius attacked the Maccabean leader Jonathan, Jonathan defeated Apollonius, and the Hellenic King Alexander granted Jonathan the right to control the Citadel/Akra:
Now when Alexander heard that his general Apollonius had been defeated, he pretended to be pleased, as if it had been against his will that Apollonius fought Jonathan who was his friend and ally, and he wrote to Jonathan, testifying to his worth bv giving him rewards and honours, including a gold brooch, such as are customarily given to kinsmen of kings, and he turned over to him Akkaron and its district as land for settlement.
   In fact, whereas King Alexander may have granted Jonathan the right to the citadel, Jonathan did not actually succeed in getting possession of it at that point. Still later, in Book XIII (Sections 181-183), Jonathan advised the citizens of Jerusalem, "to set up again the part of the wall round the temple which had been thrown down, and to fortify the temple precincts by high towers, and, in addition, to build still another wall in the midst of the city to keep the garrison in the citadel from reaching the city, and in this way cut off their large supply of provisions".
   According to National Geographic's summary in "Jerusalem Dig Uncovers Ancient Greek Citadel":
In 164 B.C., Jewish rebels led by Judah Maccabee took Jerusalem and liberated the temple, an event commemorated in the festival of Hanukkah. But the rebels failed to conquer the Acra. For more than two decades, the rebels tried in vain to overwhelm the fortress. Finally in 141 B.C., Simon Maccabee captured the stronghold and expelled the remaining Greeks.
   In The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa, Getzel Cohen writes: "The Hasmoneans did not get full control of the Akra until 141 BC when Simon finally expelled its occupants." This would have been about 19 years the Maccabean revolt of 167-160 BC.
   The story of Simon the Maccabee's capture of the citadel is in 1 Macc. 13:
49. The people in the citadel in Jerusalem were prevented from going out into the country and back to buy or sell; they suffered greatly from hunger, and many of them died of starvation. 50. They finally cried out to Simon, and he gave them terms of peace. He expelled them from the citadel and cleansed it of impurities. 51. On the twenty-third day of the second month,* in the one hundred and seventy-first year, the Jews entered the citadel with shouts of praise, the waving of palm branches, the playing of harps and cymbals and lyres, and the singing of hymns and canticles, because a great enemy of Israel had been crushed. 52. Simon decreed that this day should be celebrated every year with rejoicing. He also strengthened the fortifications of the temple mount alongside the citadel, and he and his people dwelt there.
   Gretzel Cohen notes that Antiochus Sidetes in 1 Maccabees 15 considered the Acre/Citadel to be one of his poleis/cities, when he demanded it back from the Jewish leader Simon. 1 Macc. 15 says:
18. "He sent Athenobius, one of his Friends, to confer with Simon and say: “You are occupying Joppa and Gazara and the citadel of Jerusalem; these are cities of my kingdom. ... 29. You have laid waste their territories, done great harm to the land, and taken possession of many districts in my kingdom. 30. Now, therefore, give up the cities you have seized and the tribute money of the districts you control outside the territory of Judea...

<<Does Josephus say that Aristobulus was "kindly" or had "candor" in Book XIII, Chp. 11?>>
   He says that Aristobulus had a gentle nature. According to Loeb's translation of Book XIII, Josephus says of John Hyrcanus' son, King Aristobulus:
φύσει δ᾽ ἐπιεικεῖ κέχρητο καὶ σφόδρα ἦν αἰδοῦς ἥττων, ὡς μαρτυρεῖ τούτῳ καὶ Στράβων ἐκ τοῦ Τιμαγένους ὀνόματος λέγων οὕτως: ‘ἐπιεικής τε ἐγένετο οὗτος ὁ ἀνὴρ καὶ πολλὰ τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις χρήσιμος:
   He [ie. Aristobulus] had a kindly nature, and was wholly given to modesty, as Strabo also testifies on the authority of Timagenes,* writing as follows. " This man was a kindly person and very serviceable to the Jews,
   This could mean that he was kindly in general, despite his cruelty toward potential rivals.
   The word for "kindly" in this passage is ἐπιεικής, and Strong's Concordance provides this information on it:
Definition: seemly, equitable, yielding
   Usage: gentle, mild, forbearing, fair, reasonable, moderate.

<<Did Gaius Caesar's proclamation in Book XIV, 10.8 say that literally all religious societies except for the Jews' would be banned in Rome?>>
   No, Loeb's translation is too vague when it says that the consul banned "religious societies", because in Greek, Josephus refers to the banned groups using the term "θιάσους)", meaning Bacchanalian revelers.   Whiston's translation makes the ban more limited:
...for even Caius Caesar, our imperator and consul, in that decree wherein he forbade the Bacchanal rioters (θιάσους) to meet in the city, did yet permit these Jews, and these only, both to bring in their contributions, and to make their common suppers. Accordingly, when I forbid other Bacchanal rioters, I permit these Jews to gather themselves together, according to the customs and laws of their forefathers, and to persist therein. It will be therefore good for you, that if you have made any decree against these our friends and confederates, to abrogate the same, by reason of their virtue and kind disposition towards us.
   MWH explains on the Greek Textkit forum:
The non-Jewish groups to which the edict reportedly applied are described as “thiasoi”, that is bands of revelers traditionally worshippers of Bacchus aka Dionysus. They had an unsavory reputation at Rome, as disruptors of civil order (as Bacchus himself was) and devotees of alien Eastern gods, and the Roman authorities stamped down hard on their unruly festivities, the Bacchanalia. SOURCE:

<<Do you think that King Herod might have secretly slaughtered the Gadarens?>>
Yes, he could have, due to his brutality toward potential opponents, like his own family members. But our only direct source on the Gadarenes' deaths is Josephus' account of their suicides, so we don't have enough information to assert that Herod killed them.
   In Chapter 10 of Book XV, Josephus tells how people of Gadara publicly objected to Caesar about Herod's rule, and then that night they supposedly killed themselves for fear of Herod:
... as the Gadarens saw the inclination of Caesar and of his assessors, and expected, as they had reason to do, that they should be delivered up to the king, some of them, out of a dread of the torments they might undergo, cut their own throats in the night time, and some of them threw themselves down precipices, and others of them cast themselves into the river, and destroyed themselves of their own accord; which accidents seemed a sufficient condemnation of the rashness and crimes they had been guilty of; whereupon Caesar made no longer delay, but cleared Herod from the crimes he was accused of.
   In Rome and the Friendly King, David Braund gives more background on the Gadarenes' conflict with Herod:
Gadara had been given to Herod by Octavian but it was dissatisfied with his rule. Some Gadarenes brought accusations against Herod before Agrippa at Mitylene: the response of Herod's friend was to throw them in chains and send them back to Herod without so much as hearing their case (79). When Augustus visited Syria in 20 BC, the people of Gadara accused Herod of tyranny. Augustus, unlike Agrippsa, duly held an inquiry, but after only the first day the Gadarenes saw that Augustus and his consilium were inclined towards Herod and so committed suicide.
   (79) Jos. AJ xv 351.
   AJ xv 351, cited above, runs: "However, some of the Gadarens came to Agrippa, and accused Herod, whom he sent back bound to the king without giving them the hearing."
   One could suppose that the people who committed suicide were scared to have the same fate as the Gadarenes who were arrested by Rome earlier. This is the theory of Morris Jacob Raphall in Post-Biblical History of the Jews:
Augustus directed an investigation to be instituted, and summoned Herod before his tribunal; but before the day of trial the emperor so publicly and greatly manifested his favour and partiality to Herod, that the accusers, despairing of justice, and fearful of being handed over to Herod for punishment- as had happened to a former deputation of Gadarenes, who had accused him - committed suicide.
Since the previous deputation had been punished by Herod and the emperor allowed the punishment, the same could have happened in this case, so Herod would not have a need to secretly kill his accusers. That is, he did not need to kill them to stop them from testifying, because they already testified, and he did not need to kill them secretly to punish them, since based on precedent, the emperor might have allowed him to punish them.
   I wondered whether in fact Herod's forces secretly killed them as retribution for complaining about him, since it seemed to me that the Gadarenes could have fled to other cities. Plus, Herod had a brutal personality and acted so against opponents, as AJ xv 247-252 describes:
He was still sorely afflicted, both in mind and body, and made very uneasy, and readier than ever upon all occasions to inflict punishment upon those that fell under his hand. He also slew the most intimate of his friends, Costobarus, and Lysimachus, and Cadias, who was also called Antipater; as also Dositheus, and that upon the following occasion.
   Another reason that I considered that the Gadarenes might have been killed is because of the intrigues in this era, wherein political killings could be portrayed as suicides as I mentioned in my discussion on Hyrcanus' alleged suicide. For instance, in the Haaretz article "The Myth of Masada: How Reliable Was Josephus, Anyway?", Elon Gilad theorizes that Josephus' story of suicide at Masada was invented. The story appears invented to at least some extent, because the speech by Ben-Yair at Masada in the story couldn't have been recorded very accurately. Gilad writes:
But even granting the possibility that Josephus did have sources for the events that transpired, it does seem a bit suspicious that the end of the siege at Masada is so similar to the end of the siege at Yodfat in his telling. Furthermore, Josephus provides a beautiful speech allegedly made by the leader of the Sacarrii, Eleazar Ben-Yair, to the bravest of his men: “We have it in our power to die nobly and in freedom. Our fate at the break of day is certain capture, but there is still the free choice of a noble death with those we hold most dear.” Josephus clearly made up this speech, since by his own telling, all those who would have heard the speech would have killed themselves. We must conclude that Josephus had no problem making stuff up. This is not surprising. It was the norm among ancient historians to sacrifice truth and accuracy for beauty and rhetoric.
Indeed, the decision of vanquished warriors to kill themselves rather than fall into the hands of their enemies was rather a recurring motif among ancient historians, appearing in many histories (Prof. Shaye Cohen of the Harvard Divinity School compiled a list of 16 examples in an article published in 1982). It is not a stretch to imagine that Josephus would borrow this theme from one of these other histories and apply it to the Sacarrii in order to make them, and by extension Jews, seem more noble and praiseworthy in the eyes of the Romans. After all, this is clearly the goal of his books. It is likely then that the mass suicide atop Masada was made up by Josephus. Indeed, at least some of the details of the story provided by Josephus have not been supported by archaeological excavation at Masada.
   Gilad's theory about Josephus using suicide as a motif for defeated or outmatched warriors makes sense. It doesn't mean that all his stories of suicide are mistaken, but it tends to cast doubt on them.

<<In Book XVI, Chp. 3 of Josephus' Antiquities, did Herod's two young sons complain that they were forced "to share the same fate" as their mother, or did they complain that they were forced to be partakers with those who killed her?>>
   They were complaining that they were forced to live with their mother's killers and to share things with them. It wouldn't make sense for them to complain that they were sharing their mother's fate, as Josephus explains that the youths' complaints were instead a factor in Herod's rejection and killing of the youths. So Loeb's translation is incorrect when it translates the passage as saying that the youths were forced "to share the same fate" as their mother.
   The passage ends in Greek with "τῶν αὐτῶν μεταλαμβάνειν", meaning literally that the youths had to "share in the same things".
   Whiston translates the passage as saying:
At length it came to this, that the whole city was full of their discourses, and, as is usual in such contests, the unskilfulness of the young men was pitied; but the contrivance of Salome was too hard for them, and what imputations she laid upon them came to be believed, by means of their own conduct; for they who were so deeply affected with the death of their mother, that while they said both she and themselves were in a miserable case, they vehemently complained of her pitiable end, which indeed was truly such, and said that they were themselves in a pitiable case also, because they were forced to live with those that had been her murderers, and to be partakers with them.
   Dovgyalo's Russian translation takes the passage in the same way:   
...но и к самим себе, которые принуждены жить вместе с убийцами ее и делить с ними все.
   ... but also for themselves, who were forced to live together with her killers and to share everything with them.

<<Where was David's tomb?>>
I asked because in Book XVI, Josephus describes how Hyrcanus and then Herod opened up and refurbished David's tomb. According to 1 Kings 2:10, it was in the City of David, which is an ancient neighborhood of modern Jerusalem, probably south of the Temple Mount.

<<Did the Eunuchs have intimate relations or criminal conversation with King Herod's son Alexander in Book XVI, Chp. 8?>>
They had "intimate relations." Whiston's 18th century translation says that when the Eunuchs "were asked whether Alexander had had criminal conversation with them, they confessed it, but said they knew of no further mischief of his against his father". Wikipedia's article on "Criminal Conversation" reflects that in older, 18th century English, the term meant sex:
At common law, criminal conversation, often abbreviated as crim. con., is a tort arising from adultery. "Conversation" is an old euphemism for sexual intercourse that is obsolete except as part of this term.
In Loeb's 1920 translation, the Eunuchs confess to "intimate relations" with Alexander: "When Herod asked whether they had had intimate relations with Alexander, they confessed to this but said that they were not aware of any other offence on his part against his father." In her book Jewish Slavery in Antiquity, Catherine Hezser takes this quote from Loeb's edition to refer to sexual relations. By comparison, in the story of Ida getting Munda to have a sexual relationship with Paulina (Ant. VIII.66-70), Loeb's translation uses the term "intimate relations" to mean sex:
She went to him, used argument to rouse him, and bu plausibly undertaking to find a way, held out hope that he might succeed in enjoying intimate relations with Paulina.
When it says that "they knew of no further mischief of his against his father", it must mean that they confessed sexual relations, because their answer portrays Alexander as harmless or innocent of posing a threat to Herod, which could be true if the term meant sexual relations, but not if it meant a conspiratorial conversation to overthrow him.

<<Supposing that God's Word and Wisdom are Spirits (or a Spirit), is Fate or God's Providence also a Spirit?>>
Yes, God's Providence (ie. Foresight) is a "spirit" in that a "spirit" can refer to an attribute or power, and God's foresight is one of His attributes or powers. In Christianity, fate on the other hand is the phenomenon of destiny or outcome of events, and so it is not a "spirit", ie. not an attribute or power.
   In Antiquities XVI.11.8, Josephus asks who was responsible for the "unreasonable" or "absurd" tragedy of King Herod killing his two sons: the sons, Herod, or Fate:
Whiston's Translation:
   And now perhaps it may not seem unreasonable to some, that such an inveterate hatred might increase so much [on both sides], as to proceed further, and overcome nature;
   but it may justly deserve consideration, whether it be to be laid to the charge of the young men, that they gave such an occasion to their father's anger, and led him to do what he did, and by going on long in the same way put things past remedy, and brought him to use them so unmercifully; or whether it be to be laid to the father's charge, that he was so hard-hearted, and so very tender in the desire of government, and of other things that would tend to his glory, that he would take no one into a partnership with him, that so whatsoever he would have done himself might continue immovable;
   or, indeed, whether fortune have not greater power than all prudent reasonings;
   whence we are persuaded that human actions are thereby determined beforehand by an inevitable necessity, and we call her Fate, because there is nothing which is not done by her;
   Loeb's edition translates the part about Fate as:
But one might reasonably hesitate to decide whether the blame for this should be laid... upon Fortune, who has a power greater than all prudent reflection. For which reason we are persuaded that human actions are dedicated by her beforehand to the necessity of taking place inevitably, and we call her Fate on the ground that there is nothing that is not brought about by her.
   Josephus goes on to compare the doctrine of Fate with the doctrine
according to which we attribute some part of the cause to ourselves and hold ourselves not unaccountable for the differences in our behavior, as has been philosophically discussed before our time in the Law.(D)
   FOOTNOTE D: On the Pharisees cf. Ant. xviii 12-15
   In other words, Josephus distinguishes the doctrine on Fate from the philosophy of the Law/Torah to be that individuals themselves are not unaccountable for their behavior under the latter. And in agreement with the philosophy of personal responsibility, he comments that "anybody may lay the blame on the young men... yet cannot their father be thought worthy excuse... and especially Alexander, who was the eldest" son and promoted his younger brothers' killing. So Josephus is endorsing the philosophy of Law over the philosophy that necessitates all outcomes as inevitable and annuls the doctrine of personal responsibility. Later, in Book XVIII, Josephus says about the pharisees' beliefs, that "when they determine that all things are done by fate, they do not take away the freedom from men of acting as they think fit; since their notion is, that it hath pleased God to make a temperament, whereby what he wills is done, but so that the will of man can act virtuously or viciously."
   Josephus' passage doesn't show that he thinks of "Fate" as a being. He is writing to a Greek audience, and the "Fates" were part of Greek mythology as gods, but Josephus was not an adherent of Greek polytheism. So it makes sense that he would have been writing metaphorically when he used the word "her" in his statement that, "we call her Fate". Likewise, when he considered "whether fortune have not greater power than all prudent reasonings", Josephus was not saying that Fortune was a literal being, because earlier in Book XVI, Josephus wrote about Herod: "In truth, a divine power (δαιμόνιον in Greek) had given him a great many instances of good fortune". Here, "fortune" is a result, a set of events that are caused by the divine power. This description would not fit with fortune being itself a being. Beings are not "caused" so much as created.
   The Encyclopedia Britannica article on Providence says:
It is clear that the concept of providence by its central position in many religions is connected with numerous other aspects of religion. In monotheistic religions providence is a quality of the one divinity; in polytheistic religions it may be either a quality of one or more gods or an impersonal world order on which the gods too more or less depend.
   Christian theology emphasizes the concept of Divine Providence (God's Foresight) in relation to than the concept of Fate/Destiny than Greek pagan philosophy did. In addition, it is easier to think of Providence ("πρόνοια" in Greek, meaning Foresight) as a "spirit" than to think of Fate as one. Fate is more of an outcome, whereas Providence is a power of God. The ISB Encyclopedia says:
The corresponding Greek word, pronoia, means "forethought." Forethought and foresight imply a future end, a goal and a definite purpose and plan for attaining that end. The doctrine of final ends is a doctrine of final causes, and means that that which is last in realization and attainment is first in mind and thought.
   Wikipedia' article on Divine Providence says:
In theology, divine providence, or just providence, is God's intervention in the Universe. The term Divine Providence (usually capitalized) is also used as a title of God." ... The doctrine of providence in Eastern Orthodoxy is set out by St John of Tobolsk: "St. John Damascene describes it thus: 'Providence is Divine will which maintains everything and wisely rules over everything'... Divine providence (Hebrew: השגחה פרטית Hashgochoh Protis / Hashgachah Pratit lit. [Divine] supervision of the individual) is discussed throughout Rabbinic literature, and in particular by the classical Jewish philosophers. These writings maintain that divine providence means that God is directing (or even recreating) every minute detail of creation.
   Wisdom 14 describes God's Providence steering the vessel that a man builds:
   1. Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage over raging waves calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship that carries him.
   2. For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel, and wisdom was the artisan who built it;
   3. but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course, because you have given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves,
   God's providence is steering the ship because God gave it a path in the sea. The passage gives a metaphorical image of "Providence" "steering" the ship, but it doesn't mean that Providence is a literal "being" at the wheel of the ship, just as "desire for gain" was not a being that "planned that vessel".
   I asked whether Providence is a Spirit, because Christianity considers the Divine "Word" and "Wisdom" Spirits. For instance, the Wisdom of Solomon 1 says:
4. For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. 5. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in. 6. For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words:
Wisdom of Solomon, Chp. 7 also describes Wisdom as a Spirit.
   Isaiah 11:2 refers to the "Spirit of Wisdom" resting on the Messiah, and it also refers to the "spirit of counsel", etc.:
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD
Providence is commonly referred to as an attribute of God or a phenomenon or a concept.
   The Odes of Solomon (a Christian - and possibly Gnostic - writing from about the 2nd century AD) refers to the "Spirit of Providence." In Spirit Epicleses in the Acts of Thomas, Susan E. Myers connects the Spirit of Providence with God's Spirit, the "Holy  Spirit," in the Odes, writing:
The Spirit appears elsewhere in the Odes, not only in doxologies (Ode 23) or together with the Father and the Son (in the intriguing and difficult Ode 19), but also as the one who speaks through and inspires the odist (Odes 6:2; 14:8), who is worthy of praise (Odes 6:7; 13:2), and who exalts the odist to a heavenly place (Ode 36). When one is anointed, one is established in the "Spirit of providence" (Ode 3).
   The association between Divine Providence's Spirit and the Holy Spirit makes sense, because they share a key role in world history and destiny.
   Commenting on Ode 36:8, in A Formcritical Study of Selected Odes of Solomon, Gerald R. Blaszczak writes:
According to the loose parallelism of the verse, his being brought near is comparable to his being "established, settled, firmly set," 'strrt. As it was the Spirit of the Lord who rested upon him, and who lifted him up and placed him in the divine presence, as it was the Spirit, presumably, who bore him and made him (vss 3,5), so it is the Spirit who is identified as the agent by whom he was established, brought near in peace. The Spirit is here characterized as the Spirit of providence, mdbrnwt; it is the Spirit who has brought about the events described, the Spirit who acts according to the plan or providence of the Lord.
   This means that the "Spirit of Providence" refers to God's Spirit, not that Providence is its own separate Spirit. Ode 36:1-5,8 runs:
   I rested on the Spirit of the Lord, and She lifted me up to heaven;
   And caused me to stand on my feet in the Lord's high place, before His perfection and His glory, where I continued glorifying Him by the composition of His Odes.
   The Spirit brought me forth before the Lord's face, and because I was the Son of Man, I was named the Light, the Son of God;
   Because I was the most glorified among the glorious ones, and the greatest among the great ones.
   For according to the greatness of the Most High, so She [ie. the Lord's "Spirit"] made me; and according to His newness He renewed me.
   And my approach was in peace, and I was established in the Spirit of Providence.
   The term "Spirit" has a broad set of meanings:
ATS Bible Dictionary Spirit: A word employed in various senses in Scripture. ... 4. An ANGEL, good or bad; a soul separate from the body, Mark 14:26. It is said, Acts 23:8, that the Sadducees denied the existence of angels and spirits. Christ, appearing to his disciples, said to them, Luke 24:39, "Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." ... 5. The DISPOSITION of the mind or intellect. Thus we read of a spirit of jealously, a spirit of fornication, a spirit of prayer, a spirit of infirmity, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of fear of the Lord, Hosea 4:12 Zechariah 12:10 Luke 13:11 Isaiah 11:2.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary ... 6. (n.) Any supernatural being, good or bad; an apparition... 7. (n.) Energy, vivacity, ardor, enthusiasm, courage, etc. ... 9. (n.) Temper or disposition of mind; mental condition or disposition; intellectual or moral state; -- often in the plural; as, to be cheerful, or in good spirits; to be downhearted, or in bad spirits.
   Baker's Evangelical Dictionary comments about "Spirit", which in Hebrew is "Ruah":
By extension when applied to a person ruah comes to mean vital powers or strength. It is the spirit that sustains a person through illness ( Prov 18:14 ), but the spirit of the troubled person can be crushed ( Psalm 34:18 ). This dynamic force can be impaired or diminished as well as renewed or increased. It was a drink that caused the spirit (strength) of Samson to return and revive him ( Jud 15:18-19 ) and the coming of the wagons from Egypt that revived Jacob's numb heart ( Gen 45:26-27 ). Spirit also bespeaks limitations. When taken back, the person returns to dust ( Psalm 104:29-30 ). ...
   Ruah can also refer to the will. Those whose spirits God had stirred up went up to rebuild the temple ( Ezr 1:5 ). Caleb had a different spirit from the other spies ( Num 14:24 ) and thus was resolute in his assessment relative to the conquest of the land. The psalmist prays for a steadfast spirit ( Psalm 51:10 ).
   Providence would fit the meaning of Ruah/Spirit in the sense of a "will", since St. John Damascene's description of Providence when he comments: "Providence is Divine will which maintains everything and wisely rules over everything..."
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 #281 on: December 23, 2019, 12:58:56 PM »

<<Did Josephus say that God appeared to the Pharisees or that He inspired them in Book XVII, Chp. 2?>>
He said that God appeared to them. Pheroras' wife paid a fine that was laid on the pharisees, and in return they gave her a favorable prophecy that Herod would lose the kingdom and that she and her children would receive it.
   Loeb's translation from the Greek runs:
...οἱ δὲ ἀμειβόμενοι τὴν εὔνοιαν αὐτῆς, πρόγνωσιν δὲ ἐπεπίστευντο ἐπιφοιτήσει τοῦ θεοῦ, προύλεγον, ὡς Ἡρώδῃ μὲν καταπαύσεως ἀρχῆς ὑπὸ θεοῦ ἐψηφισμένης αὐτῷ τε καὶ γένει τῷ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ...
   In return for her friendliness they foretold - for they were believed to have foreknowledge of things through God's appearances to them - that by God's decree Herod's throne would be taken from him....
The keyword is ἐπιφοιτήσει and that it means that the pharisees had comings, manifestations, visitations, appearances or arrivals of God to them. To give an example of this word's usage: In The Appropriation of Divine Life in Cyril of Alexandria, Daniel A. Keating writes: "Cyril maintains that Jesus, in contrast to the kings and priests anointed symbolically of old, 'was anointed by the actual visitation of the Spirit' (αὐτη τη του πνεύματος ἐπιφοιτήσει ἐχρίσθη) at the Jordan."

<<In Book XVII, Chp. 2, Josephus narrates how Herod freed the Jews of Bathyra from taxes, and refers to the rule of Agrippa the Great and Agrippa's son, as well as the rule of the Romans after them. Doesn't Loeb's footnote suggest that Josephus was writing after 100 AD?>>
Josephus wrote:
Agrippa the Great, however, and his son of the same name did indeed grind them [ie. the Jews] down and yet were unwilling to take their freedom away. (D) And the Romans, who have succeeded these kings as rulers, also preserve their status as free men but by the imposition of tribute have completely crushed them.

AD 37 and 50-c.100 respectively.
If Loeb's footnote that Agrippa the Great's son ruled until 100 AD were correct, it would suggest that Josephus was writing after 100 AD. This is because Josephus refers to the Romans' rule after the son's rule. But Wikipedia's article on Herold Agrippa II (below) suggests that Loeb's date of 100 AD is too late. The Wikipedia article says:
According to Photius, Agrippa died, childless, at the age of seventy, in the third year of the reign of Trajan, that is, 100, but statements of historian Josephus, in addition to the contemporary epigraphy from his kingdom, cast this date into serious doubt. The modern scholarly consensus holds that he died before 93/94.

<<What do you think about Josephus' claim in Book XVII, Chp. 5, that defendants' calling on God in court to prove their innocence is a sign that they are guilty? Why wouldn't an innocent person say an open loud prayer before a court asking the Lord to prove his innocence?>>
   Actually, Josephus was not saying that this is a sign that the person is guilty, as I misread the passage. Rather, Josephus was claiming that men destitute of virtue have this as their usual method, wherein they try to refute the evidence by appealing to God.
   Josephus commented in narrating Antipater's trial before his father Herod for planning to kill Herod:
When Nicolaus had left off speaking, and had produced the evidence, Varus bid Antipater to betake himself to the making his defense, if he had prepared any thing whereby it might appear that he was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of; for that, as he was himself desirous, so did he know that his father was in like manner desirous also, to have him found entirely innocent.
   But Antipater fell down on his face, and appealed to God and to all men for testimonials of his innocency, desiring that God would declare, by some evident signals, that he had not laid any plot against his father. This being the usual method of all men destitute of virtue, that when they set about any wicked undertakings, they fall to work according to their own inclinations, as if they believed that God was unconcerned in human affairs; but when once they are found out, and are in danger of undergoing the punishment due to their crimes, they endeavor to overthrow all the evidence against them by appealing to God; which was the very thing which Antipater now did; for whereas he had done everything as if there were no God in the world, when he was on all sides distressed by justice, and when he had no other advantage to expect from any legal proofs, by which he might disprove the accusations laid against him, he impudently abused the majesty of God, and ascribed it to his power that he had been preserved hitherto; and produced before them all what difficulties he had ever undergone in his bold acting for his father's preservation.
   It is not really fair to characterize this as the usual method of defendants destitute of virtue as Josephus supposed. An innocent person could pray for deliverance. Being in an intense emotional state, an accused innocent person could make his prayer in an emotional, open, verbal, and showy way. Facing a severe penalty and overcome with emotion, the accused in court could realistically make a loud prayer for God's deliverance and for his innocence to be proven. Lots of emotional unexpected things happen in court that go against court rules, and there are times when people are so overcome with emotion that they pray aloud, and innocent people can easily pray that false accusations are disproven.
   On the other hand, a guilty person destitute of virtue could in fact make a prayer in court in order to make himself look innocent. So actually praying in court for God's deliverance is not really a sign of guilt, since both the guilty and the innocent can do this.
   Further, Josephus presented prayer for deliverance as a "usual method" of accused guilty defendants lacking virtue, whereas in fact, this is not their "usual method." Although the guilty lacking virtue could use this method, most people with no virtue would tend to just avoid bringing up God when the topic of their own judgment comes up.
   Another problem with Josephus' passage for me was that I sensed that Antipater could actually have been innocent. Herod had accused innocent people before, and the evidence of Antipater's guilt was based on torture or was otherwise doubtful.

<<Can you make sense of the ending of the following Greek sentence from Book XVII, Chapter 5:7>>
According to Ralph Marcus' translation, Josephus writes about Antipater's detention: "And after putting him in chains, Herod sent out a letter about him to Caesar in Rome and also sent some men to inform him by word of mouth about the villainy of Antipater." Marcus notes that the Greek here has an additional, unintelligble part, beginning with "kai Koponiou" below:
δήσας δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ῥώμην ὡς Καίσαρα ἐκπέμπει γράμματα περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ γλώσσης διδάξοντας τὸν Καίσαρα τὴν κακίαν τοῦ Ἀντιπάτρου καὶ Κωπωνίου γνώμη τὴν Καίσαρος.
Marcus notes about this addition: "codd.: om. PE Lat. : secl. edd."
   Κωπωνίου refers to Coponius. Earlier, in Book XIV, Chapter 8, Josephus quotes a decree of the Roman Senate favoring the Jews that notes that Lucius Coponius was present at the writing of this decree. Later, in Book XVIII, Chapters 1 and 2, Josephus describes Coponius being given supreme power over the Jews when Cyrenius was sent to be their procurator:
Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him (Cyrenius), to have the supreme power over the Jews. .... As Coponius, who we told you was sent along with Cyrenius, was exercising his office of procurator, and governing Judea, the following accidents happened.
John Rhoads, in his essay about the governor Cyrenius/Quirinius suggests that Josephus was not writing in a precise chronological way here and that Quirinus' census likely actually occurred before the end of Herod's rule. ( So I think that Coponius could have been appointed procurator of Judea while Herod was still ruling, which would help explain why Josephus might have mentioned Coponius in connection with Antipater's detention.
   γνώμη is a Greek noun meaning "judgment, opinion, decision." τὴν is the Greek article "the". Καίσαρος means Caesar.
   So it looks like Josephus' sentence literally says that Herod sent messengers to inform Caesar "about the villainy of Antipater and of Coponius opinion of the Emperor/Caesar." This does not make clear sense, although conceivably Josephus could have meant to say (A) that Herod's messengers told Caesar Coponius' opinion of Caesar,  (B) that Herod's messengers told Caesar Coponius' opinion about Antipater, (C) that they told Caesar of the villainy both of Antipater and of Coponius for Caesar's judgment, or (D) that they told Caesar about the villainy of Antipater and told Coponius the judgment of Caesar.

<<Do you think that Matthias' idea in Book VII, Chapter 6, underlined below, is correct? Should one's devotion to piety whereby death walks with them because of the piety cause one to endure death with pleasure?>>
   Matthias son of Margalothus was a teacher of the Torah to his students in Jerusalem and he ordered them to pull down the eagle that Herod had put over the temple gate because it was an abomination as a graven image. Herod's soldiers caught Matthias, who made a speech to Herod, including these words:
Whiston's Translation:
   " ought not to be wondered at, if we esteem those laws which Moses had suggested to him, and were taught him by God, and which he wrote and left behind him, more worthy of observation than thy commands. Accordingly we will undergo death, and all sorts of punishments which thou canst inflict upon us, with pleasure, since we are conscious to ourselves that we shall die, not for any unrighteous actions, but for our love to religion."
   Loeb's Translation
   "...And with pleasure we will endure death or whatever punishment you may inflict on us because we shall be conscious that death walks with us not because of any wrongdoing on our part but because of our devotion to piety."
Afterwards, Matthias was burned alive. Josephus narrated the same event in Wars of the Jews I.653, writing,
Herod first asked them whether they had dared to cut down the golden eagle; and they admitted it. 'Who ordered you to do so?' he continued. 'The law of our fathers.' 'And why so exultant, when you will shortly be put to death?' 'Because, after our death, we shall enjoy greater felicity.'
   There are indirect ways, aspects and senses in which Matthias was right to see pleasure in his martyrdom, although not in the martyrdom by itself.
   Matthias was not saying that walking with death, by itself, made them happy, but rather that it gave them pleasure in that they received death as a result of their piety. That is, their piety was so important and sacred to them, that suffering death was pleasurable when they knew that the death came as a result of piety. Piety is an extremely good, moral thing to which he was devoted, and since in his case he knew that he was receiving death as a result of the piety, the death made him happy as it was the result of a good, moral thing.
   If they failed to observe piety, they would not receive a reward in the Afterlife. So in this case the pious person was faced with a choice of whether to (A) accept piety, suffering, and receive a reward in the Afterlife, or (B) reject piety, reject suffering, and fail to receive the reward in the afterlife. So when faced with this dilemma, in Matthias' explanation, the suffering brings him pleasure in that it is associated with his piety and expectation of a future reward.
   The issue of reward after suffering reminds me of Hebrews 11:35, whereing Paul writes:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
   ...And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
   Greg Koukl theorizes in "Obtaining a Better Resurrection" that Paul is referring to a person's spiritual strength transferring into the Afterlife:
What does this term "better resurrection" mean? Well, it seems from other passages that there is a suggestion that the quality of spirituality, the fitness of our souls, in the after life, in the resurrection, is somehow commiserate with the spiritual exercise that we do in this life. This is why Paul made the comment there to Timothy about physical exercise vs. spiritual exercise, which he calls godliness.
   When it comes to this phrase "obtaining a better resurrection" I suspect what that means is that because they were allowed to suffer for their faith their spiritual selves were being built up and strengthened and increased, brought to a deeper or a richer maturity. Paul talks about this in other passages, as well, when he talks about his physical body as wearing down or being beaten up. But his spiritual man, his inner man, is being built up and is flourishing. So it looks like God gives opportunities through suffering to increase the flourishing of our spiritual selves.
   According to one theory, Paul's declaraton about receiving a better resurrection in Hebrews 11:35 is related to 2 Macc. 7, which describes the martyrdom of a youth under Antiochus' rule who refused to eat pork:
7. After the first brother had died in this way, they brought forward the second for their sport. They tore off the skin of his head with the hair, and asked him, “Will you eat rather than have your body punished limb by limb?” 8. He replied in the language of his ancestors and said to them, “No.” Therefore he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. 9. And when he was at his last breath, he said, “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”
   That is, as a reward for his dying for God's laws, God will raise him and his brothers to "an everlasting renewal of life." In 2 Maccabees 7, the youth is not just saying that he will be rewarded for his piety in the Afterlife, but specifically that he will be rewarded for dying for God's Laws. The declaration by the youth in 2 Macc. would justify Matthias' declaration. ie. the concept of being rewarded for dying for God's laws would explain why Matthias would assert that he will enjoy greater happiness in the afterlife.
   Rev. Lawrence Porter in "St. Lawrence’s Deathon a Grill: Fact or Fiction?" quotes St Ignatius' sense that his mistreatment was making him more into a disciple but that more had to happen to "justify" him, and that he would be eaten with pleasure. Rev. Porter writes:
Ignatius of Antioch was fed to the lions. On his way to Rome, under armed guards, he wrote a letter to the church at Rome regarding his end there, saying:"From Syria all the way to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts, on land and sea, by night and day, chained amidst ten leopards (that is, a company of soldiers) who only get worse when they are well-treated. Yet because of their mistreatment I am becoming more of a disciple: nevertheless I am not thereby justified. May I have the pleasure of the wild beasts that have been prepared for me; and I pray that they prove to be prompt with me. I will even coax them to devour me quickly."
   The "Akathist to the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon"(below) distinguishes implicitly between earthly pleasure and spiritual pleasure, saying that Panteleimon gave up the former. So the martyr would not be getting some kind of earthly, masochistic pleasure out of his death. It could only be in some spiritual sense, like looking forward to a future reward for his piety:
Seeing you to be a chosen vessel, the Lord loved the beauty of your soul; for, despising all earthly glory and pleasure, you longed to adorn yourself with the crown of martyrdom, wounded with divine love and singing inspiringly: Alleluia!
   ... Rejoice, you who gave away everything to obtain Christ! Rejoice, you who vanquished love for the world by love for God! Rejoice, for instead of the pleasures of the world you accepted for Christ cruel sufferings! Rejoice, for you became a partner of Christ's Passion! Rejoice, you who overcame all the passions! Rejoice, you who through Grace were adorned with dispassion!
   ... Rejoice, you who despised earthly pleasures! Rejoice, you who were above material comforts! Rejoice, for you regarded as nothing all the beautiful things in this world! Rejoice, for you shook yourself free of fleeting glory! Rejoice, you who remained free from the nets of the devil! Rejoice, you who vanquished the wiles of the torturers! Rejoice, you who did not spare your life for Christ! Rejoice, you who were shown to be an enemy of hostile flesh! Rejoice, you who oppressed the spread of polytheism! Rejoice, you who by the power of God defeated the idols!
   Here, it says for St. Panteleimon to rejoice because he accepted suffering for Christ and became a partner in Christ's Passion. So the idea in common with Matthias' situation is that in both cases, the martyr is suffering for God and rejoicing for that.
   St. Cyprian addresses this issue in Epistle 55, pointing to the Sermon on the Mount's words about rejoicing when one suffers:   
And again He [Christ] says, Blessed are you when men shall hate you, and shall separate you from their company, and shall cast you out, and shall reproach your name as evil for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold your reward is great in heaven.
   3. The Lord desired that we should rejoice and leap for joy in persecutions, because, when persecutions occur, then are given the crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved then the heavens are opened to martyrs. For we have not in such a way given our name to warfare that we ought only to think about peace and draw back from and refuse war, when in this very warfare the Lord walked first—the Teacher of humility, and endurance, and suffering—so that what He taught to be done, He first of al did, and what He exhorts to suffer, He Himself first suffered for us.

<<What do you think about Josephus' prophetic or ominous story about Glaphyra's dream in Book XVII, Chp. 13? Do you believe that the dead can actually visit the living in their sleep?>>
   Josephus tells a remarkable story about Glaphyra's dream in which her first husband, King Herod's son Alexander, visited her and said that she will belong to him again, soon after which she died. Here is Josephus' telling of the story in Wars of the Jews II:
I cannot also but think it worthy to be recorded what dream Glaphyra, the daughter of Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, had, who had at first been wife to Alexander, who was the brother of Archelaus, concerning whom we have been discoursing. This Alexander was the son of Herod the king, by whom he was put to death, as we have already related. This Glaphyra was married, after his death, to Juba, king of Libya; and, after his death, was returned home, and lived a widow with her father. Then it was that Archelaus, the ethnarch, saw her, and fell so deeply in love with her, that he divorced Mariamne, who was then his wife, ,and married her. When, therefore, she was come into Judea, and had been there for a little while, she thought she saw Alexander stand by her, and that he said to her; "Thy marriage with the king of Libya might have been sufficient for thee; but thou wast not contented with him, but art returned again to my family, to a third husband; and him, thou impudent woman, hast thou chosen for thine husband, who is my brother. However, I shall not overlook the injury thou hast offered me; I shall [soon] have thee again, whether thou wilt or no." Now Glaphyra hardly survived the narration of this dream of hers two days.
   Josephus also retold the story of Glaphyra's dream in his Antiquities, Book XVII, Chp. 13:
(S)ince it fell out so that Alexander was slain by his father, she [Glaphyra] was married to Juba, the king of Lybia; and when he was dead, and she lived in widowhood in Cappadocia with her father, Archclaus divorced his former wife Mariamne, and married her, so great was his affection for this Glphyra; who, during her marriage to him, saw the following dream: She thought she saw Alexander standing by her, at which she rejoiced, and embraced him with great affection; but that he complained o her, and said, O Glaphyra! thou provest that saying to be true, which assures us that women are not to be trusted. Didst not thou pledge thy faith to me? and wast not thou married to me when thou wast a virgin? and had we not children between us? Yet hast thou forgotten the affection I bare to thee, out of a desire of a second husband. Nor hast thou been satisfied with that injury thou didst me, but thou hast been so bold as to procure thee a third husband to lie by thee, and in an indecent and imprudent manner hast entered into my house, and hast been married to Archelaus, thy husband and my brother. However, I will not forget thy former kind affection for me, but will set thee free from every such reproachful action, and cause thee to be mine again, as thou once wast. When she had related this to her female companions, in a few days' time she departed this life.
   In Unveiling the Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Margaret S. King notes that in the dream, Alexander rebuked Glaphyra
for marrying his brother in defiance of the law outlined in Leviticus 18:16. The law states a man cannot marry his brother's widow unless there were no children involved... If there were children, he was forbidden from considering such a marital union. Glaphyra was so terrified of her dream that she died from shock two days later.
   In Dreams and Dream Reports in the Writings of Josephus, on the other hand, Robert Karl Gnuse notes that Glaphyra was not Jewish. So she could not be condemned as a Jew violating the Torah, but conceivably she could be condemned for violating a general moral rule that the Torah points to. Gnuse writes that,
The prediction of the future by a deceased person in a dream is very typically Greek, and nothing is really equivalent to it in the biblical tradition. ... The Greek style of this dream contrasts with Archelaus' dream, for now visual symbols capable of interpretation have been replaced by a dream image speaking a message.
He theorizes that whereas Glaphyra's husband Archelaus was Jewish and had a dream with a Jewish style, Glaphyra's dream matched a Greek style, due to the theme of a deceased person making a prediction in a dream.
   Another issue in the story is that Glaphyra hugs Alexander, showing her love, and that Alexander's response, despite his rebuke of her, also includes a strange blessing. The blessing is that her death will take away her shame at her mistake and that she will go to be with Alexander. So in a sense, the death was not necessarily portrayed as fully bad. In fact, based on the logic of Alexander's declaration in the dream, living on in shame would seem to be worse.
   Derek Dodson in Reading Dreams notes that Josephus gives a rationale for including the dream in the Antiquities, ie. that
they provide examples of the immortality of the soul and God's providence in human affairs. Then, as if anticipating an objection, [Josephus] states, 'Such things can be disbelieved by anyone, but while having his own opinion he should not hinder the one who adds them for the purpose of virtue.'
   I think that the dead could be able to visit the living in dreams, but I don't have much of an opinion on whether it happens. The Bible's stories suggest that it could happen, and the Church fathers having opposing opinions on whether it does.
   In the story of Saul, the Witch of Endor, and Samuel, the narrator openly presents Samuel as the entity whom the medium sees. The writer says, "Saul realized that it was Samuel," not "Saul believed that it was Samuel." So based on the Bible, God can allow the deceased to communicate with the living. The New Testament has the phenomenon of an angel's appearance to a person in a dream, as in the angel's appearance to Joseph in Matthew 1:20. In the story of the Transfiguration, Elijah and Moses appeared on the mountain with Jesus to a few of his apostles. Since according to the Bible, angels can appear in dreams, the dead can appear to mediums, and the dead can appear to conscious witnesses like the apostles, the Bible as a whole text suggests that the phenomenon of the dead appearing in dreams is plausible.
   In her essay "Communication with the Dead in Jewish Dream Culture", Galit Hasan-Roke notes: "There are numerous and varied appearances of the dead in dreams in rabbinic literature. ... in the Palestinian Talmud (Ma 'aser Sheni 4-5)"
   Perpetua was a famous Christian martyr of the 3rd century AD. Lien-Yueh Wei, in his dissertation "Doctrinalizing Dreams", writes about the story of one of her dreams before she was martyred:
In her second dream Perpetua saw her long-dead younger brother Dinocrates, who had died horribly of cancer of the face at the age of seven, coming out of a gloomy place where there were many others. He was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy, pallid colour countenance and the wound on his face which he had when he died. “Where Dinocrates stood there was a pool full of water, and its rim was higher than the child’s height,” so that he could not drink. After knowing his current situation by this dream, Perpetua prayed for him every day, and believed that her prayer would mitigate his suffering. A few days later, she learned through a message in another dream that the condition of Dinocrates had greatly improved. Owing to the efficacy of her intercession by prayer, he was now clean, well dressed and refreshed. Even the dark place turned bright and “that pool had its rim lowered to the level of the child’s waist.” He began to play as children do.28
   It was through the divine messages in the second and third dream that Perpetua realised that she, as a martyr, had acquired a special patronal relationship with the Lord, and also a privilege that made her capable of making supplication to Him on behalf of others, including the deceased. Thus she could bring divine mercy to them through her intercession, which could even ameliorate the dead’s suffering in the place outside this world.
Lien-Yueh Wei notes that St. Athanasius the Great theorized then when people were asleep they could meet angels or saints. Wei writes that "some church fathers held this belief" in the dead visiting the living in dreams, adding:
Potamiaena, after his death (martyrdom), appeared in the dreams of the living in order to exhort them, according to Eusebius. Historia Ecclesiastic 6.5.7 (SC 41.93). Gregory the Great also reckoned that a saintly man after his death could appear to his followers. Dialogorum 4.49 (SC 265.168-72).
   On the other hand, the apparitions of the living in dreams to the living, without the knowledge of those who appear raises doubt that the dead really visit the living in dreams. Suppose that a person has dreams about their still-living relatives, and the apparitions feel realistic to the dreamer while he/she is dreaming. But the relatives deny having any experience (imagined, dreamt, or otherwise) of meeting the dreamer during the evening. Years later, the dreamer has the same kinds of dreams after the relatives pass away. It seems that the relatives in the latter dreams are not necessarily any more likely to be the real souls of the relatives than in the former case of living relatives appearing in dreams. This kind of phenomenon was a reason why St. Augustine didn't believe that the deceased visited the living in dreams. Lien-Yueh Wei, in his dissertion "Doctrinalizing Dreams", wrote:
Augustine acknowledged both the phenomenon that people in their dreams can see the appearance of the dead, or learn things which they did not know from the dead, and the phenomenon that some prophetic or admonitory messages imparted by the dead in dreams can be true. However, he insisted that what the dreamers see are actually the images or resemblances of the dead, rather than the real souls or bodies of the dead. These phenomena happen never by the workings of the dead, but by the workings of angels through the images of the dead, with the command or permission of God. The dead themselves have nothing to do with these phenomena, and can never know that their appearances have been seen by the living in dreams. Hence, these phenomena can verify neither that the dead are able to relay messages to people, nor that they hold the capability of intruding into the lives of people.73
   Augustine provided a dream report, with which he was associated, as an example to clarify his argument. One day when Eulogius, Augustine’s disciple and a rhetorician at Carthage, was reviewing a lecture on a rhetorical work of Cicero intended for delivery the following day, he came upon an obscure passage and could not determine its exact meaning. During the night, Augustine, while his body remained in Milan, appeared in Eulogius’ dream, and expounded the passage to him. However, after returning from Milan to Carthage and hearing this dream reported by Eulogius, Augustine stressed that it was not him or his soul, but his image which was beheld by Eulogius in the dream, for he himself was far across the sea at that moment, engaged in other matters and ignorant of Eulogius’ concerns. He deserved no credit for helping Eulogius, as he was not involved in any part of the process.
   In the case of Glaphyra, a psychologist could theorize that her body could sense that she was nearing death, and that she also felt guilt over remarrying twice after her marriage to Alexander. The psychologist could conclude that these factors provide a naturalistic explanation for Glaphyra's dream.
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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<<Was (A) Judas the son of Ezekias who revolted, desired "the royal dignity", and looted the palace in Sepphoris, Galilee, in c. 4 BC the same as (B) the rebel leader "Judas the Galiliean", a Gaulonite from Gamala, who started Judaism's "Fourth Philosophy" in c.6 AD?>>
They must be the same person, because of the close similarities between them. For instance, Josephus says that Judas son of Ezekias desired the royal dignity, whereas Rabbi Gamaliel in Acts 5:37 refers to Judas the Galiliean in the context of making comparisons to the apostles' Messianic claims. Josephus describes Judas son of Hezekiah in Wars II.4,1(56) and Antiquities XVII 10, 5(27), whereas he describes Judas the Galilean in Wars II,8,1(118) and Ant.XVIII,1,1(4).
   In Book 2 of Wars of the Jews, Josephus says that in the wake of Herod's death,
At Sepphoris in Galilee and of Judas, son of Ezechias, the brigand-chief who in former days infested the country and was subdued by King Herod, raised a considerable body of followers, broke open the royal arsenals, and, having armed his companions, attacked the other aspirants to power.
   He writes more in Book 17, following the death of King Herod (c. 4 BC) when a number of small rebellions started:
5. There was also Judas, the son of that Ezekias who had been head of the robbers; which Ezekias was a very strong man, and had with great dificulty been caught by Herod. This Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace [there,] and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there; and he became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity; and he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries.
   Here is the section about Judas the Galilean in Wars of the Jews II, 118:
Under his administration, a Galilaean. named Judas incited his countrymen to revolt, upbraiding them as cowards for consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and tolerating mortal masters, after having God for their lord. This man was a sophist who founded a sect of his own, having nothing in common with the others.
   Josephus writes about Judas of Gamala (AKA "Judas the Galiliean") who revolted in Book 18, Chapter 1, sections 1 and 6 (Whiston's translation is below):
Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same; so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height.
   6. But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.
   Loeb's Footnote on this passage runs:
In the parallel passage in BJ ii 118, and in Ant. xviii. 23, Josephus refers to Judas as the Founder of the Fourth Philosophy. JS Kennard, 'Judas of Galilee and His Clan', plausibly identifies this Judas with the Judas who seized the opportunity to aspire to sovereignty in Galilee. (BJ ii. 56).
   JS Kennard, Jr takes the view that the two Galiliean rebel leaders are the same person in his essay, "Judas of Galilee and His Clan," Jew. Quart. Rev. 36 (1945-6), 281-286. ( They are described as leading revolts within about 9 years of each other (in c. 4 BC and c. 6 AD, since there is no "Year Zero").
   J Kennard theorizes that they were both the same person because Josephus doesnt differentiate them. Plus, Judas the son of Ezekias could be tied to Gaulonitis, the home of the other Judah, in that the Ezekias clan was active on the Syrian frontier, which included that region. Its noteworthy to me that one is identified by his patronymic, but no hometown is given, whereas the opposite is true of the other, the son of Ezekias. Another factor is that the two rebel leader Judahs are mentioned not far apart from each other in both Wars and Antiquities. They are also not far apart chronologically.
   In "Josephus Misdated The Census of Quirinius," John Rhoads argues that the two Judases - the son of Ezekias and the Galilean - are the same and that Josephus was using different sources in narrating them. ( So Josephus' approach in writing was more narrative than chronologically exact.
   Josephus did not explicitly equate them because he was taking them from different sources. So in his presentation, there is no mutual identification. For instance, Josephus introduces Judas the Galilean by saying "a Galilaean named Judas incited his countrymen to revolt", and "Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite", which isn't the way that a narrator would typically present a character whom he had already introduced.
   Rhoads notes the similarities between three rebel Judases in this period, and considers them actually the same historical figure. Judas the son of the Sephorean attacked Herod's temple area and taught major tenets of the 4th Sect, whereas Judas son of Ezekias attacked Herod's palace and Judas the Galilean focused on Sephoris and taught the 4th Sect.

<<What is Loeb's footnote referring to as "BJ iv. 121 ff."?>>
   In the passage in Book XVIII about Judas the Galilean, Loeb's footnote says:
It should be noted that the identification of the Fourth Philosophy with the Zealots, which scholars so often assume, is not found in Josephus here or in the account in BJ iv. 121 ff.
   "BJ IV. 121 ff" must mean the Footnotes to "Wars of the Jews, Book IV, section 121." But when I turn to Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Manuscript section 121 (, I don't see any footnotes or mention of Judas the Galilean, nor do I see a discussion on Judaism's sects.
   It must be a typo for Wars of the Jews, Book II Section 118, which does talk about Judas the Galilean and his sect.
   In other words, the Footnote literally refers to Manuscript Section 121, but the editor intended to refer to the passage in Book II, Section 118, because that is the passage that corresponds to the part of the Wars of the Jews about Judas the Galilean's sect. Scholars consider many parts of the Antiquities and Wars to correspond to each other, covering the same topics in different ways with different details. When he writes "here or in the account in BJ iv. 121 ff", he means "here" in this story in the Antiquities or in the other telling of this story, in the Wars of the Jews.

<<What is the relationship between the "Galilean" movement in Book XVIII, Chp. 1, and the Christians, since one of the names for the Christians as a sect was "the Galileans", and there appears to be some overlap in their teachings.>>
Josephus refers to the followers of Judas of Galilee as the "fourth sect", but doesn't name them "the Galileans." Rather, they are apparently the Zealots, and Judas the Galilean is mentioned in Acts as a very early 1st c. rebel whom the Romans killed. This fourth sect shares some features with the Christians, such as piety, and ardency in the face of death, perhaps because Jesus came from the same region. On the other hand, Loeb's footnote says: "It should be noted that the identification of the Fourth Philosophy with the Zealots, which scholars so often assume, is not found in Josephus here or in the account in BJ iv. 121 ff."

<<NOTE: Regarding the Testimonium Flavianum in Book XVIII, Chp. 3, I quoted Drews' book: "Moreover, in the sixteenth century Vossius had a manuscript of the text of Josephus in which there was not a word about Jesus. It seems, therefore, that the passage must have been an interpolation, whether it was subsequently modified or not.">>
But since as Colin Green shows, the passage on James "the brother of Jesus" appears authentic, Drews or Vossius' manuscript must be in error that Josephus didn't mention Jesus.

<<What do you think about Thackeray's idea that in Greek the Testimonium could have referred to "such people as accept 'the unusual' gladly", instead of "such people as accept 'the truth' gladly"?>>
I think that Thackeray's proposed change from talithi to taithi is unlikely, because Thackeray is basing it on his disbelief that Josephus would be so sympathetic to Christianity, and because as Louis H. Feldman points out, the Greek word for "unusual"(aithis) is not characteristic of Josephus and doesn't occur after Book XIII of the Antiquities.   

<<What does "Decius Mundus" mean in Latin?>>
This was the name of the Roman who tricked Paulina into having sex with him in Josephus' Antiquities, Book 18. It looks like the characters in Josephus' stories of Paulina and Fulvia have allegorical meanings. In Paulina's story, Decius Mundus fell in love with Paulina, a convert to Anubis' cult, but Paulina was married to Saturninus. So Mundus' female servant Ida paid Anubis' priests to fool Paulina into thinking that Mundus was the god Anubis and into having sex with him. Then in Fulvia's story, three Jewish swindlers tricked Fulvia, a convert to Judaism, into making a Temple donation, which they stole. Apparently the characters' names allude to figures oe concepts in NT stories. Paulina's name apparently alludes to the apostle Paul, who gathered donations from gentiles for Jerusalem's Church. Ida's name alludes to Judas, as both were involved in payments to or from priests for betrayal.
   Decius Mundus, translated into English, means "Tenth/Tithe" "World/Universe/Mankind." This is because tithing involved taking a "tenth" of income, and thus the name alludes to tithing the gentiles (i.e. the "nations") for Jerusalem's Church as its spiritual "Temple".
   Name says that Decius is a version of Decimus, and:
Although never especially common, Decimus was used throughout Roman history from the earliest times to the end of the Western Empire and beyond, surviving into modern times. The Latin personal name “Decimus”, means “the tenth born, or born in December”...
   Wikipedia's article on Decimus (praenomen) says:
Decimus is the Latin word for tenth, and it falls into a class of similar praenomina including the masculine names Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius, and Nonus, as well as the feminine names Prima, Secunda, Tertia, Quarta, Quinta, Sexta, Septima, Octavia, and Nona. It is generally believed that the name was originally given to a tenth child, a tenth son, or a tenth daughter. However, it has also been argued that Decimus and the other praenomina of this type could refer to the month of the year in which a child was born.
   The Oscan praenomen Decius or Deciis is derived from the same root, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Decia.
   Wikipedia' article on the Oscan language says:
Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language of southern Italy. ... The language was spoken from approximately 500 BCE to CE 100.
This would have included Josephus' era.
   In Reconstructing Western Civilization: Irreverant Essays on Antiquity, Barbara Sher Tinsley writes that Sextus "was a common Roman first name, as were Quintus [Fifth], Septimus [Seventh], Octavian [Eighth}, and Decius [Tenth]." Bible Hub's Strong's Concordance explains that δεκάτη, Dekate in Greek, means literally "tenth", but it also means figuratively a "tithe". For instance, Hebrews 7:2 says that "ᾧ καὶ δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων", meaning that Abraham "gave a tenth part of all", and Hebrews 7:9-10 says: "9. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes (δεκάτας), payed tithes in Abraham. 10. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him."
   According to Wiktionary, one of the definitions of Mundus is "the inhabitants of the earth, mankind" ( The Latin Dictionary on WIkidot says that mundus means world: ( In "The Origins of Greek Kosmos and Latin Mundus", Jaan Puhvel writes the 1st century BC writer Varro "opined that kosmos had its name ab ornatu and mundus 'unverse' was named a puritia; mundus muliebris was of course a munditia." (De Lingua Latina 5.129) So Varro saw "universe" as one of the meanings of "mundus." Puhvel also notes that Sextus Pompeius Festus, a late 2nd century Grammarian, "explained mundus as caelum, terra, mare et aer on one hand, and as ornatus mulieris on the other..." A New Latin Dictionary, by Charlton Thomas Lewis (p. 1175), says that mankind or the earth's inhabitants is one of the definitions of mundus, citing Pliny, a first century writer.
   On the Textkit forum, Hylander noted:
Mundus is an adjective originally meaning something like "neat", "clean", "adorned" or "elegant". One meaning of the masculine form is "cosmetics", but it is also used to mean "the world" or "the universe", as a calque on Greek κόσμος, which is the etymological source of English "cosmetics". The use of mundus to mean "world/universe" begins in the classical period, in fact in the Republican era, as Lewis & Short show with citations to Cicero, Catullus and Vergil, among others: (

<<Supposing that the names in Josephus' stories of Paulina and Fulvia might be fictional, why did Josephus decide to name both of their husbands "Saturninus"?>>
He would have chosen this name because in ancient Roman thought, the God of Judaism was associated with Saturn.
   In Book 18 Chapter III, Section 3, Josephus introduces what is called the "Testimonium" about Jesus. ("About this time there lived Jesus... etc.")
   In Section 4, Josephus tells the story of Paulina at the Temple of Isis, which some scholars and I believe is antithetically parallel to the Testimonium. In Paulina's story, Decius Mundus fell in love with Paulina, a convert to Anubis' cult, but Paulina was married to Saturninus. So Mundus' female servant Ida paid Anubis' priests to fool Paulina into thinking that Mundus was the god Anubis and into having sex with him. I see Paulina's name as referring to the apostle Paul, who gathered donations from gentiles for Jerusalem's Church. Ida's name alludes to Judas, as both were involved in payments to or from priests for betrayal. "Decius Mundus" (ie. "Tenth" and "World") refers to tithing, since tithing involved taking a "tenth" of income, and in particular tithing the gentiles or "nations" for Jerusalem's Church as its spiritual "Temple".
   In section 5, he tells how four Jews tricked Fulvia into giving them money for the temple and then spent it on themselves, after which the Jews were expelled from Rome. I believe that Fulvia's story is antithetically parallel to the Biblical story of Paul raising money for Jerusalem's Church.
   My guess is that "Fulvia" alludes to the womb or "vulva", since the letter V is a voiced F. Further, just as Paulina's name alludes to Fulvia's story, Fulvia's name might likewise allude back to Paulina's story. Paulina's story alludes antithetically to the story of the virgin Mary conceiving of the Holy Spirit, since Paulina had sex with a fake deity, Mundus.
   In each of the two stories, the female protagonist is married to a "Saturninus", as Josephus writes:
   4... She[Paulina] was married to Saturninus, one that was every way answerable to her in an excellent character.
   5... Whereupon Tiberius, who had been informed of the thing by Saturninus, the husband of Fulvia, who desired inquiry might be made about it, ordered all the Jews to be banished out of Rome...
   Loeb's footnotes includes R.S. Roger's suggestion that Paulina and Fulvia could be the same person and that the husband Saturninus could be the same woman's husband.
   In Isis and Sarapis in the Roman World (pp. 85-86), Sarolta A. Takacs suggests that Paulina and Fulvia were the same person, a convert to Judaism, and she implies that enough details in the story are unrealistic that the story is probably made up:   
The major problem however is the fusion of the two women who had different religious interests. Paulina was an adherent of the cult of Isis... Fulvia... can be thought of as a proselyte Jew. .... One is then left to wonder not only about her religious conversion [from Isis worship to Judaism] and persuasion, her judgment of character and naivete, but also the emperor's repeated willingness to intervene on behalf of the twice fooled Paulina Fulvia and his sweeping punishments to avenge her.
   On the other hand, Josephus doesn't present Paulina and Fulvia as being the same woman.
   Josephus could have been hinting that whereas Paulina was betrothed to "Saturninus", an allusion to the Romans' association between Saturn and the Jewish God, Paulina betrayed him in copulating with the Egyptian cult god Anubis.
   An article in Mosaic magazine, "Saturday and the Jews" says,
Ancient Roman astrologers connected each day of the week with a heavenly body; hence Saturn corresponds to Saturday and was associated with the Jews, for whom the seventh day was holy. In Hebrew, as in English, the association is acknowledged in the planet’s name: Shabb’tai.
   The article "The Sabbath Planet" in Forward magazine describes the Romans' association between Saturn and Judaism:
In the verse of Latin poet Tibullus, who lived in the first century BCE, there is a passage telling of a voyage he made from Italy to Greece despite his premonitions that it would turn out badly, so that, in my Loeb Classical Library translation, he kept searching “in my disquiet for reasons to linger and delay [setting out]. Either [auguries of] birds or words of evil omen were my pretexts, or there was the accursed day of Saturn to detain me.”
   Accursed? Or would a better translation be “holy”? Tibullus speaks of dies Saturni sacra, and sacra in Latin can mean either of these two things depending on the context. One way or another, it seems almost certain that, even though he was not a Jew, Tibullus was referring to the Jewish Sabbath — whose ban on travel, if one was looking for a superstitious excuse to stay at home, might deter a non-Jew, too.
   A second bit of evidence, also cited by Ben-Yehuda, comes from Tacitus, a Roman historian. Writing in the late first or early second century C.E., Tacitus tells us that the Jews rest every seventh day, and let the earth lie fallow every seventh year, in honor of Saturn, the seventh and highest of the heavenly bodies. Although he does not say that the Jews worship Saturn, Tacitus does state that it is considered by them to be the planet with the most powerful influence on human life.
   Mark Brahmin, in "Christmas, The Saturnalia and the Jewish Saturn", notes:
In Histories 5.2, Tacitus writes “The Jews are said to have been refugees from the island of Crete who settled in the remotest corner of Libya in the days when, according to the story, Saturn was driven from his throne by the aggression of Jupiter.”
   Regarding their Sabbath Tacitus writes: “We are told that the seventh day was set aside for rest because this marked the end of their toils…Others say that this is a mark of respect to Saturn, either because they owe the basic principles of their religion to the Idaei, who, we are told, were expelled in the company of Saturn and became the founders of the Jewish race, or because, among the seven stars that rule mankind, the one that describes the highest orbit and exerts the greatest influence is Saturn. A further argument is that most of the heavenly bodies complete their path and revolutions in multiples of seven.”
   The name Idaei is derived from the name of Mount Ida, the highest mountain in Crete, around which the Idaei dwelt. This was a mountain sacred to the Titaness Rhea or Magna Mater, the sister and wife of Cronus or Saturn. Tacitus likewise relates the speculation that the name Judaei, from which Jew is derived, is “the barbarous lengthening of Idaei.”(
   What is most relevant is not whether Tacitus' speculation is current, but that it shows that the Romans associated Saturn with the Jews or their God.
   Certainly, the Romans' association between Saturn and Judaism doesn't mean that Josephus, a Jewish apologist, believed that Saturn was their God. Rather, the Romans' association between them suggests that it could have been the basis for him to use Saturn as a basis for the fictional character of Saturninus.
   Shlomo Sela writes on the Katz Center's blog:
Prominent Roman historians such as Tacitus (56–120 CE) and Cassius Dio (ca. 155–after 229), as well as Church fathers like Augustine (354–430), acknowledged a special link between Saturn and Saturday, the holiest day of the week for the Jews. That Jewish society of the talmudic period recognized the same association is shown by the fact that the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 156a) refers to Saturn as Shabbetai, i.e., the star of Shabbat (Saturday).
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 02:46:49 AM by rakovsky »
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<<How does Josephus' depiction of John's baptism compare with the Christian understanding of Christian baptism?>>
   In Book 18, Chp. 5, Josephus describes John the Baptist's baptism this way:
Loeb's translation:
   ...he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behaviour.

Ben Smith's translation:
   John... was a good man and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, as to both justice toward one another and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism; for thus the baptism would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to forgive some sins, but rather for the holiness of the body, supposing still that the soul was thoroughly cleansed beforehand by justice.
   For Josephus, John's Baptism was:
   1. done after justice / right behavior thoroughly cleansed the soul
   2. for the body's holiness / consecration
   3. not to forgive sins, since the soul had already been cleansed

   Regarding Christian baptism on the other hand:
   1. St. John Chrysostom says that it "manifests a great grace, whereby it sets free from sin, it cleanses the spirit and bestows the gifts of the Spirit". ("Discourse on the Baptism of Christ",
   2. The website of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist in Monterey, CA says that it serves as incorporation into the Church, introduction to the Trinity's life, and as a symbol of cleansing, newness of life, a sacrament wherein one dies to sin and is born anew in Christ. (
   3. Met. Nektarios writes that it "depicts symbolically going down into the tomb with Christ, that is participation in his death, while emerging from the water expresses the overcoming of death, that is resurrection together with the Lord," and it signals "progress into the gift of the Holy Spirit of freedom and love." (Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia, "The Mystery of Baptism in the Orthodox Church",
   4. Orthodox Wikipedia's article on Baptism says: "baptism is 'for the remission of sins' (cf. the Nicene Creed) and for entrance into the Church; the person being baptized is cleansed of all sins and is united to Christ... In contrast to a common Protestant viewpoint, baptism is more than just a symbolic act of burial and resurrection, but an actual supernatural transformation. Baptism is believed to impart cleansing (remission) of sins and union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection"
   5. Christian baptism is in the name of the Lord Jesus or in the name of the Trinity
   6. Just as Josephus says that John's Baptism consecrated his followers, the same can be said of Christian baptism, as it is an initiatory rite into a close relationship with God and the Church.
   7. Baptism is closely associated with the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the believer, but it is not clear that the baptismal ritual always brings on the Holy Spirit. Rather, the rituals of Chrismation (anointing with oil) and the Laying on of Hands (eg. in Acts 19) are more closely associated with the direct oncoming of the Holy Spirit. However, the Chrismation or Laying on of Hands generally follows upon Baptism, and so there is still a strong association between Baptism and the oncoming of the Holy Spirit.
   Based on Ephesians 1:13, one would receive the Holy Spirit upon believing the Gospel, which would precede baptism if converting as an adult. The verse in Ephesians runs: "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit". Further, in Acts 10, Cornelius received the Holy Spirit after praying and believing, but before his baptism.
   But based on Acts 8, it is not necessarily true that those who believe and even those who are baptised necessarily receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8, Simon Magus believed and was baptised, but apparently he did not receive the Spirit until he received the Laying on of Hands:
13. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
   14. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
   15. who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
   16. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
   17. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
   On the other hand, based on how Jesus saw the Spirit coming on Him like a dove when He came up out of His own baptismal waters, it seems that the Spirit could descend on a believer right after his/her baptism.
   In Acts 19, the believers were baptised and then received the Holy Spirit after Paul laid hands on them. So based on these Biblical passages, the Holy Spirit is closely associated with baptism, but does not necessarily come on the believer right at that moment.

<<Does Christianity follow this model: The believer repents of their sins, accepts Christ's sacrifice, receives the Holy Spirit and Grace, and then receives "water baptism", which only "seals" those processes?>>
   Baptism doesn't only seal those processes, as it also is involved in the believer's entrance into the Church, as well as the remission/cleansing of their sins, and the person's purification or consecration. Further, the believer could receive the Spirit only after the Baptism, per Acts 10 and 19, as a result of the Anointing with Oil or the Laying on of Hands.

<<How does refusing to remarry despite the emperor's request show virtue and keeping one's "life free from reproach", as Josephus says about Antonia?>>
It meets the ancient Roman ideal of an "univira", a woman dedicated to one husband through her whole life, without remarrying even after her husband's death.
   Josephus gives this explanation for the non-Jewish Roman noblewoman Antonia's reputation of virtue in Book XVIII, Chapter 6:
Now Antonia was highly esteemed by Tiberias both because, as the wife of his brother Drusus, she was related to him, and because she was a virtuous and chaste woman. For despite her youth she remained steadfast in her widowhood and refused to marry again although the emperor urged her to do so. She thus kept her life free from reproach.
   The "Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors" says about Antonia's option to remarry:
Although Augustus is said to have urged this, she never remarried and so embodied the Roman ideal of the chaste woman, a univira, a woman who had only one husband throughout her life [[5]]. It was an ideal not often realized.
   Footnote 5 in the Encyclopedia entry above cites Josephus and Valerius Maximus.
   In The Women of Pliny's Letters, Jo-Ann Shelton writes that according to Valerius Maximus, Antonia's avoidance of remarriage was due to her desire to repay her husband's love with exceptional loyalty.
   Valerius Maximus, in his early-mid 1st Century book Nine books of memorable deeds and sayings, Book IV, writes:
Antonia too, a woman who surpassed in praise the fame of the male members of her family, balanced the love of her husband with her exceptional commitment to him. ... In the very same marriage bed where was extinguished the vigour of Drusus' adolescence, grew old the trials of widowhood.
   According to Rebecca Langlands in Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome, the idea in Valerius' quote was that Drusus did not cheat on her in his lifetime so she rewarded him afterwards by staying single. Josephus was writing decades after Valerius, and so he was likely picking up on this earlier view of Antonia's virtue.
   The Armstrong Economics article on Antonia said:
Her husband died in 9 BC and while Roman law prescribed that all widows should remarry, Augustus, out of respect for her devotion to her husband, freed her of that obligation.
   Emily Kittell-Queller's article "Widows and the Univira in Ancient Rome" says:   
Socially, Romans held the univira as the ideal. This was a woman who only married one man. Originally this referred to a woman who came to her marriage a virgin and predeceased her first husband. Later on, however, it became more associated with widows (and possibly divorced women) who refused to remarry. This was something that could be written as praise on a woman’s tombstone and some upper class women, such as Agrippina the Elder** and Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, were specifically lauded because of their univira status. This is not to say that remarriage was considered a bad thing. Remaining single was simply considered better.
   Unsurprisingly, there was a certain amount of tension between the ideal of the married state presented by the Julian Marriage Laws and the ideal of the univira. As part of an attempt to increase the birthrate, the Laws rewarded remarriage after divorce or widowhood and discouraged both men and women from remaining single.

<<How does lack of wine make one thirsty? Doesn't wine and alcohol actually induce thirst?>>
Ancient Romans and Jews commonly drank wine, and wine has an effect of satiating thirst at first, and in the long run it will prevent a person from dying of thirst if one must rely on it. On the other hand, wine does cause limited dehydration as well, due to the alcohol content.
   I asked because Josephus writes of Agrippa's thirst:
It was also very hot weather, and they had but little wine to their meal, so that he was very thirsty; he was also in a sort of agony, and took this treatment of him heinously...
   The writer must mean that Agrippa didn't have anything to drink, including wine, since Wine was standard in ancient Roman meals. The writer didn't mean that wine was the only thing that could quench thirst.
   Vincent Karuhanga writes in "Can alcohol quench thirst?",   
Although many people say they take alcohol to quench thirst, this is temporary as thirst soon returns with a big bang.
   Thirst is the body’s way of compelling us to drink water when the body has fallen short on water or its blood salts have become more concentrated than normal.
   Alcohol (such as beer) initially quenches thirst since its water content is high and it takes more time for alcohol to take effect. This is especially true when food is present in the stomach.
   In "On a desert island, would it be better to drink wine or go thirsty?", Luis Villazon writes:
Alcohol increases the amount you urinate because it suppresses the production of ADH. A sufficiently alcoholic drink can suppress ADH to the point where your kidneys actually excrete more water than the volume of the drink itself, and so there’s a net dehydrating effect. But the concentration of alcohol required for this increases as you get thirstier. If you just drank wine on your desert island, you would initially lose more water than you gain from wine, but as your body became more dehydrated, it would produce more ADH to compensate and you’d eventually reach an equilibrium point.
   For the 13 per cent alcohol content of most wines, that equilibrium point would still leave you badly dehydrated (not to mention hopelessly drunk), but it should prevent you from dying of thirst.
   The amount that wine induces thirst depends on how much alcohol is in the wine. If it is low in alcohol, it will make you less thirsty. The article "THIRST QUENCHING WINES THAT AREN’T ROSÉ" on the Winepicker website lists low alcohol wines like Vinho Verde, Txakoli, and Cviček.

<<Isn't fortune or destiny in effect the path of history and events from the past into the future?>>
Yes. It can be considered to be the status and state of affairs in the future.
   Josephus uses "Fortune" and "Fate" interchangeably or synonymously in Book XVI.11:
But one might reasonably hesitate to decide whether the blame for this should be laid... upon Fortune, who has a power greater than all prudent reflection. For which reason we are persuaded that human actions are dedicated by her beforehand to the necessity of taking place inevitably, and we call her Fate on the ground that there is nothing that is not brought about by her.
   Fate is an "inevitable necessity" per Whiston's translation.
   In Book XVI, Josephus wrote about Herod: "In truth, a divine power had given him a great many instances of good fortune". Here, fortune is a result, a set of events.
   The Oxford Lexico dictionary gives this definition for Destiny: "The events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future." It gives this example sentence: "The intricate events and various destinies interplay into a complicated story."

<<How can fortune have "power"? Supposing that the future and past are already set in place, thus creating destiny, then how does destiny have power?>>
   The state of affairs exists like the ocean, rocks, or a wall exist. The ocean, rocks, and a wall have "power" in that an object acting on them must apply force in order to move them. The ocean, rocks, and wall in effect resist or push back against forces that act on them to move them. In physics, the pushback is called reaction force.

   Josephus makes this comment in Book XVIII, Chp. 6, section 11 about Agrippa and the "power of fortune":
So, upon the emperor's permission, he [Agrippa] came into his own country, and appeared to them all unexpectedly as asking, and thereby demonstrated to the men that saw him the power of fortune, when they compared his former poverty with his present happy affluence; so some called him a happy man, and others could not well believe that things were so much changed with him for the better.
   The same quote in Loeb's translation says that the Roman empire gave Agrippa permission to return to Judea, and:
All were surprised to see him in his royal state. He was an object lesson in demonstrating the great power of fortune over mankind to those who beheld him and speculated on the contrast between his former distress and his present prosperity. Some thought him lucky not to have failed to attain his hopes, while others were incredulous about what had happened.
   Josephus writes in Book VIII about the power of fate while narrating Ahab's attempt to escape it:
And now the Syrian army, upon the coming on of the night, retired to their camp. And when the herald belonging to the camp gave notice, that Ahab was dead; they returned home. And they took the dead body of Ahab to Samaria, and buried it there: but when they had washed his chariot in the fountain of Jezreel, which was bloody with the dead body of the King, they acknowledged that the prophecy of Elijah was true: for the dogs licked his blood; and the harlots continued afterwards to wash themselves in that fountain. But still he died at Ramoth; as Micaiah had foretold. And as what things were foretold should happen to Ahab by the two Prophets came to pass; we ought thence to have high notions of God; and every where to honour and worship him; and never to suppose that what is pleasant and agreeable is worthy of belief before what is true: and to esteem nothing more advantagious than the gift of prophecy. (60) and that foreknowledge of future events which is derived from it. Since God shews men thereby what we ought to avoid.
   We may also guess from what happened to this King, and have reason to consider the power of fate: that there is no way of avoiding it, even when we know it. It creeps upon human souls, and flatters them with pleasing hopes, till it leads them about to the place where it will be too hard for them. Accordingly Ahab appears to have been deceived thereby; till he disbelieved those that foretold his defeat; but, by giving credit to such as foretold what was grateful to him, was slain: and his son Ahaziah succeeded him.
   In the story, King Ahab tried to deceive the fate foretold in Micah's prophecy by changing his clothes with the king of Jerusalem, but Ahab was killed anyway as Micah had predicted. So King Ahab believed what sounded nice to him, instead of believing the dark prophecies of Elijah and Micah, which came to pass anyway. Josephus concludes that there is no way to avoid fate, even when it is known ahead of time, and this inevitability shows the "power" of fate. Josephus doesn't think that there was nothing that Ahab could have done to avoid his doom, but Ahab's mistake was in disbelieving the warning prophecies. It follows that if the way that the future is laid out and seen by the prophets had no "power", then it easily might not happen. But the fact that Ahab's prophecied doom happened regardless of his expectations and the warnings shows that the future plan had enough "power" to become reality. Ahab tried to avoid his fate of doom, but it occurred anyway regardless of his efforts against it, and this outcome shows the "power" of the fate, which he was resisting.
   In The Plan of God in Luke-Acts, John T. Squires writes about Ahab's story:
The deception worked by Fate, by which 'the false prophet [Zedekiah] seemed more convincing than the true one [Micaiah], in order to hasten Ahab's end' (Antiquities 8), appears to have been of such magnitude that it was even able to overcome 'the greatness of the Deity' (Antiquities 8). Thus Fate is distinguished from the workings of God, and although Josephus here seems to grant more power to Fate than to God, in fact the fate which befell Ahab was the fulfilment of the divinely inspired prophecy uttered by Micaiah, since God provides, for our benefit, 'prophecy and the foreknowledge which it gives, for in this way God enables us to know what to guard against' (Antiquities 8).
   On occasion throughout the work, the activity of God is depicted as having a certain necessity about it, but on these occasions Josephus avoids the technical terms for Fate and uses instead terms such as compulsion or necessity. Josephus is thus careful to avoid describing the divine guidance of history in explicitly deterministic terms, even though his view of the consistency of events appears somewhat similar to the rigorous conformity of events claimed by a deterministic viewpoint. The difference is actually to be found on those occasions when Josephus notes the freedom of humans to choose- a freedom which is not available in a deterministic system.

<<Does destiny having "power" mean that human will, the soul, the state of affairs, and destiny are different "forces" that can act on each other?>>
Yes, except the human soul is more precisely an entity that can exert force. Human will is an action force. Plus, the state of affairs and destiny supply pushback or Reaction Forces against efforts to change them. The will can act on the state of affairs and on destiny to change them. In turn, the state of affairs can also act on a person's will to affect their will. For example, a traumatic state of affairs could make someone depressed to the point where they lose willpower, and thus no longer have the "will" to accomplish a certain task.
   Josephus compares the doctrine of Fate with the doctrine of the pharisees that he seems to endorse,
according to which we attribute some part of the cause to ourselves and hold ourselves not unaccountable for the differences in our behavior, as has been philosophically discussed before our time in the Law.(D)

   FOOTNOTE D: On the Pharisees cf. Ant. xviii 12-15
   Josephus describes the pharisees' beliefs in Book xviii (MS. section 12-15):
Though they postulate that everything is brought about by fate, still they do not deprive the human will of the pursuit of what is in man's power...
   So one explanation is that future events are predetermined, and as in Herod's case in Book XVI, a divine power can determine what the fortune/fate will be.
   Josephus and the pharisees would see Providence, Destiny, and humans' actions and will as all playing a role in how events unfold. The EO view accepts the concept of Providence / God's Providing for the world, whereby God has a Predetermined Plan, but the EOs see Calvinism as too Deterministic. They would say that God has foresight and Providence for the future, but God's foreknowledge doesn't have such a lockdown that a person's free will doesn't play a role in their ultimate fate. One line of reasoning goes that God could know ahead of time that a person is going to have salvation or not, but just because God knows this doesn't mean that the person's own free will won't play a role in whether it actually occurs. There are alot of times in the Bible where an inspired prophet says that something bad will happen as punishment, and passes this on as a divine message, but then the people repent and God has mercy instead. The story of Job's warning to Nineveh and Nineveh's repentance is a good example.
   So in fact there is an interaction between God's Providence, the Divine Will and Man's Free Will that determine events. God or Man can set events in motion to cause a specific result, but then God or Man can change the events to turn out differently.
   In his commentary on Romans 7, St. Cyril says that if someone believes about Fate's power in a rigid way, "Suppose, he [the believer in such rigid power] might say, that we have been bound by this hard and unyielding Necessity which determines what we must or must not do, so that we have absolutely no power over ourselves but must instead submit to outside powers, by which we are imprisoned against our will." Cyril went on to argue that if Fate was so unwielding and Free Will so lacking, then it would not make sense for God to judge people based on the Law, as they would not have power for themselves to freely choose whether to obey or break it.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 02:41:26 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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<<If the Senate's math was correct in calculating the date of the loss of the Republic a hundred years before, then is it just a random coincidence or some kind of paranormal synchronicity that Emperor Caligula died and the Senate tried to restore the Republic on the Centennial?>>
It's not clear whether it was a paranormal synchronicity, because on one hand there is a common thread running through the events and there is a shared round number of 100 in the dating, but on the other hand there was no prophecy tied to the dates. In fact, the coincidences run much more strongly between the failed attempt to restore the Republic by killing Julius Caesar and the attempt to restore the Republic on Caligula's death than the coincidences between the end of the Republic and the mid-1st Century attempt at restoring it.
   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:
And this was the purport of Sentius's oration, (9) which was received with pleasure by the senators, and by as many of the equestrian order as were present. And now one Trebellius Maximus rose up hastily, and took off Sentius's finger a ring, which had a stone, with the image of Caius engraven upon it, and which, in his zeal in speaking, and his earnestness in doing what he was about, as it was supposed, he had forgotten to take off himself. This sculpture was broken immediately. But as it was now far in the night, Cherea demanded of the consuls the watchword, who gave him this word, Liberty. These facts were the subjects of admiration to themselves, and almost incredible; for it was a hundred years since the democracy had been laid aside, when this giving the watchword returned to the consuls; for before the city was subject to tyrants, they were the commanders of the soldiers. But when Cherea had received that watchword, he delivered it to those who were on the senate's side, which were four regiments, who esteemed the government without emperors to be preferable to tyranny. So these went away with their tribunes. The people also now departed very joyful, full of hope and of courage, as having recovered their former democracy, and were no longer under an emperor; and Cherea was in very great esteem with them.

   Hence we learn that, in the opinion of Saturninus, the sovereign authority of the consuls and senate had been taken away just a hundred years before the death of Caius, A.D. 41, or in the sixtieth year before the Christian saga, when the first triumvirate began under Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.
   The timing with the centennial could have been a random coincidence and the Romans could have been fixating on the happenstance because of the importance of anniversaries in people's minds. Without more than this just being a coincidence of dates (100 years) and meanings (loss of the Republic and the potential to regain it), it is hard to have a strong sense of there being a real paranormal synchronicity involved. For instance, the password "Libertas" in Caesar's story did not happen at the end of the Republic, but rather at Caesar's death, which came years later. Josephus sees coincidences between the assassinations of Caesar and Caligula, but the 100 year period did not run between their assassinations, but rather from Caesar's taking power up until Caligula's assassination.
   Paranormal Synchronicity is a coincidence of two events that are connected in meaning, but for which there is no direct detectable causal link. A good example of this in early Christian/Nazarene literature is in the Lives of the Prophets, when Nathan the prophet
foresaw David's sin with Bathsheba, and set out in haste to warn him, but Satan ("Beliar") thwarted his attempt. He found lying by the road the naked body of a man who had been slain; and while he was detained by this duty, he knew that in that night the king had committed the sin; so he turned back to Gibeon in sorrow.
   In the story, there was no direct causal link between the death of the naked man on the road and David's killing of Uriah. It wasn't as if the dead man was actually Uriah himself or the soul of Uriah. Rather, it served as a sign that the prophet was able to interpret. Nathan found the corpse the same night as David killed Uriah. Both events were connected in time, occurring the same night, and were connected in meaning, ie. involving an impure or violated state of a deceased person or corpse- one being publicly exposed on the road and the other being a murder victim.
   A comparable example of the Roman Republic having a chance at resurfacing 100 years after it was destroyed is the case of the Jews' liberation about 70 years after its conquest by the Babylonians. A key difference between the two situations - that of the Roman Republic and the Jews in Captivity - is that there was a prophecy by Jeremiah that the Captivity would last 70 years.
   In Josephus' passage, the Romans did not explain the coincidence of 100 years as an omen or as synchronicity, but just that they were amazed and incredible about it.
   However, in Conspiracy Narratives in Roman History
Victoria Emma Pagán sees in Josephus' account as pointing to coincidences with earlier parts of Roman history. She notes that Brutus committed suicide and Cassius killed himself with the dagger that he used against Julius Caesar, whereas the conspirator Chaerea who was involved in Caligula's death asked to be killed with the sword that killed Caligula, and Sabinus killed himself on his own sword. She writes:
   Indeed, the conspiracy of Brutus and Cassius looms large in Josephus' imagination. When Chaerea met with Vinicianus, the senator asked Chaerea for the daily password. Libertas was of course Brutus' password at Philippi. Furthermore, the consul Sentius calls for rewards to Chaerea, since 'he is beyond comparison with Cassius and Brutus, the slayers of Julius Caesar.' A subtle irony lurks behind the proposal. The honors proposed to the assassins of Caesar in 44 BCE were vetoed by Antony, the great-grandfather of Caligula, Finally, Josephus notes that Caligula was murdered one hundred years after ROme first fell under tyranny, reckoning from 59 BC, the first consulship of Julius Caesar. Thus, throughout his account, Josephus aligns the tyrannicides of Gaius Caligula with those of Julius Caesar.

<<What specifically did Claudius expect the Jews to do in relation to pagan deities?>>
In Book 19, the new emperor, Claudius, gives an order that includes:
WHISTON's TRANSLATION of Claudius' words:
   "It will therefore be fit to permit the Jews, who are in all the world under us, to keep their ancient customs without being hindered so to do. And I do charge them also to use this my kindness to them with moderation, and not to show a contempt of the superstitious observances of other nations, but to keep their own laws only."

   "I enjoin upon them also by these presents to avail themselves of this kindness in a more reasonable spirit, and not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples but to keep their own laws."
   Setting at nought the other gods must mean that the Jews would be openly proclaiming to the pagans and the Roman world that the other gods were nothing. It couldn't mean that the emperor was prohibiting the Jews from teaching themselves that their God was the only real God, since this was a known key feature of Judaism, and the emperor was clearly allowing Judaism. So the prohibition against setting at nought the other gods must be a ban against practically annulling the other gods via preaching to the other gods' followers that their gods were false.
   In Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods, Eckhard J. Schnabel writes:
Since Jews generally did not seek to win Gentiles for faith in Yahweh as the only true God (pagans became Jewish proselytes of their own accord), the stipulation "not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other peoples" was not a hardship. The exclusive monotheism of the Diaspora Jews did not threaten the customs and laws of their pagan neighbors. This was different for the followers of Jesus in general and for Paul in particular, who not only believed that there is only one true God but actively propagated this conviction, seeking to win as many Gentile converts as possible.
   In Divine Honours for the Caesars: The First Christians' Responses, Bruce W. Winter writes:
This decree set parameters for the Jews in the light of the 'reasonable spirit' of Claudius. They were to reciprocate appropriately by not engaging in anti-polytheistic polemics - 'not to set at nought the beliefs about the gods held by other people' but 'keep their own laws'.

<<Is the Nazirites' (Nazir) order related to Nazareth(Natzrat) or to the "Nazarenes"?>>
Yes, because their root words in Hebrews (Ntzr and Nzr) are related.
   The term "Nazirite" comes from the word "Nazir", meaning consecrated. It shows up in Numbers 6:18 on the dedication of Nazirites ("The Nazirite [הַנָּזִ֗יר] shall then shave his dedicated head of hair...")
   Natsrat is the Hebrew name for the city of Nazareth, and Wikipedia's article on Nazareth says that the city's name may be derived from either na·tsar, נָצַר, meaning "to watch," or from ne·tser, נֵ֫צֶר, meaning branch.
   Natsar sounds closer to Natsrat than Netser does, because of the two "a" letters, and Natsrat fits the idea of a watch/sentry, since Nazareth is on a hill. "Netser" fits my conceptual association between Jesus' city of Natsrat and the shoot/Netser as a Messianic symbol in Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 53.
   Father Childress replied to the question "What is the difference between a Nazarene and a Nazarite?" by writing:   
The two words are possibly etymologically related... Both are possibly based on the root nasar, which means “set apart” or “consecrated.” ...The town of Nazareth is probably rooted in neser, which can mean to watch or keep; as it’s the name of a city that evolved over thousands of years, the original idea was probably “watch[-tower]” or “sentinel/guard”.
   In Matthew's Gospel, we read: "And he (Joseph) came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He (Jesus) shall be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2: 23)." The closest verse in the TaNaKh to this one is the verse wherein Samson "shall be a Nazirite"(Judges 13:5-7). Matthew could be connecting Jesus coming from Natsrat (Nazareth) with the verse in Judges 13 about Samson becoming a Nazirite and interpreting Judges 13 as prefiguring Christ becoming a Nazarene.
   The Torah Class website sees Nazirite, Nazir, and Nazar as related terms both etymologically and functionally:
The Hebrew word that we translate as [Nazirite] is nazir. Since Hebrew is what is called a root-word language......that is, it takes a word and then by changing the vowel sounds, and sometimes adding or subtracting a consonant, it broadens or narrows the meaning of that word, we'll see several Hebrew word offshoots from nazir, and they are quite interesting in their use in the Bible.
   The base root-word, nazir, most literally means "set-apart" or "pruned". So literally translated the person who takes the vow is... called a "set-apart person" or a "pruned away person). Whereas nazir...n-a-z-i-r is a positive term that indicates being specially consecrated for service to God, the [Nazirites] must also nazar......n-a-z-a-r, be separated, from grapes......separated in the negative sense of being prohibited from grapes.
   Further there is the Hebrew word nezer... n-e-z-e-r, which literally means shoot or branch. It is the term used for the unpruned grapevine. But the term is also used to denote the High Priest's glorious headpiece (the one with the golden band around it), as well as the long hair of the Nazarite. So when reading these passages in Hebrew we see the obvious parallel between the High Priest's head covering (his special hat), and the Nazarite's head covering (his or her long hair). Nezer, Nazir, and see how these Hebrew words all work together to help us understand the relationships between priests, grapevines, and Nazarites; and of the Nazarites' being consecrated....set-apart....for God.

   The Torah Class article is theorizing that Hebrew takes root words like Nazir and then changes the vowels and consonants to make related words (allegedly Netser - a shoot/branch being one such word). It claims that Nazir is a set-apart/"pruned away" person, and that Netser is a shoot/"unpruned grapevine."
   In accordance with the Torah Class article's theory of an association between Nazir (consecrated) and Netser (branch/shoot). the Abarim Publications entry on Nazar and Natsar notes two places in the Bible that associate Nazir (a consecrated one) with a shoot or vine:
In Genesis 49:26 Jacob compares his son Joseph to a fruitful plant whose branches (literally 'daughters') run over a wall, and calls him a nazir to his brothers. In Leviticus 25:5 and 25:11 the word nazir is applied to the vine, which was not to be pruned in the Sabbatical year, but it is unclear why this vine is so special (but see JOHN 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches").
   On the Biblical Hebrew Forum, Prof. Isaac Fried wrote:
The Hebrew root נזר is a member of the root family      נדר, נזר, נטר, נסר, נצר, נשר, נתר   
   of the common sense of 'separate, set aside, branch off', à peu près.
   The Hebrew root נזר is is further related to
דר, זר, סר, צר, שר, תר
אדר, אזר, אסר, אצר, אשר, אתר
עדר, עזר, עטר, עצר, עשר, עתר
   of the common meaning of 'enclose, surround, encompass, skirt, fringe, gird'

<<Does it make sense that the people of Caesarea and Sebaste celebrated Agrippa's death with "ointments and libations to Charon", since Charon was a pagan deity?>>
   Yes, since these were generally pagan cities. 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:
But when it was known that Agrippa was departed this life, the inhabitants of Caesarea and of Sebaste forgot the kindnesses he had bestowed on them, and acted the part of the bitterest enemies; for they cast such reproaches upon the deceased as are not fit to be spoken of; and so many of them as were then soldiers, which were a great number, went to his house, and hastily carried off the statues (25) of this king's daughters, and all at once carried them into the brothel-houses, and when they had set them on the tops of those houses, they abused them to the utmost of their power, and did such things to them as are too indecent to be related. They also laid themselves down in public places, and celebrated general feastings, with garlands on their heads, and with ointments and libations to Charon, and drinking to one another for joy that the king was expired. Nay, they were not only unmindful of Agrippa, who had extended his liberality to them in abundance, but of his grandfather Herod also, who had himself rebuilt their cities, and had raised them havens and temples at vast expenses.
   LOEB'S FOOTNOTE to the passage describes Charon as, "The mythical ferryman of the dead over the river Styx or Acheron in the Lower World."
   If Agrippa was a bad ruler, it would be fitting for Hellenistic pagans would honor Charon for Agrippa's death. Instead, Josephus shows the irony in their celebration over Agrippa's death by drawing attention to Agrippa's liberality and Herod's renovations of "havens and temples." The "temples" must refer to pagan temples, since Judaism had only one Temple, and Josephus was pointing to the irony of the pagan city of Caesarea's denigration of Agrippa's memory.
   The Wikipedia entry on Caesarea Maritima, which had previously been called Straton's Tower, says:
Straton's Tower remained a Jewish settlement for two more generations, until the area became dominated by the Romans in 63 BCE, when they declared it an autonomous city. ... The site, along with all of Judea, was awarded by Rome to Herod the Great in 30 BCE.[7] The pagan city underwent vast changes under Herod, who renamed it Caesarea in honour of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.
   In 22 BCE, Herod began construction of a deep-sea harbour named Sebastos (see below) and built storerooms, markets, wide roads, baths, temples to Rome and Augustus, and imposing public buildings.
   Caesarea became the administrative center for the Roman province of Judea.
   D. Miller, in his article "The Case of the Disappearing Hasmoneans", writes that the celebrants were non-Jews, and he cites the writing of Daniel Schwartz:
According to Schwartz, this reaction to Agrippa’s death is “ironic” because Agrippa’s “policy … was that of his grandfather [Herod], not of the Hasmoneans.”[11] It is worth noting, however, that Josephus—our only source for this episode—says nothing about Agrippa’s Hasmonean ancestry. In its context, at the very end of book 19 of the Antiquities, the story illustrates the growing conflict between Jews and Gentiles within Agrippa’s realm that Josephus names as one of the causes of the Jewish revolt. Josephus goes on to say that the emperor Claudius had originally planned to discipline those who dishonoured Agrippa’s memory by relocating the cavalry units from Caesarea and Sebaste to Pontus, but in the end he was persuaded to let them stay in Judaea and, as a result “These men, in the period that followed, proved to be a source of the greatest disasters to the Jews by sowing the seed of the war in Florus’ time” (A.J. 19.366). From Josephus’s perspective, those who opposed Agrippa did so not because of his Hasmonean grandmother but because of his Jewishness.
   [11] Schwartz, Agrippa I, 132.
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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<<In Loeb's Footnote in Book XX, Chp. 2, what does Bitumen have to do with the Ark?>>
Pitch was used to tar the ark and Josephus says that centuries after the Ark rested, people carried away "asphalt"(ἀσφάλτου), AKA bitumen, from its remains. I asked because in Book XX, Josephus says that King Monobazus gave his son territory that included a place that still in Josephus' era people considered to have remnants of Noah's ark, and Loeb's translation has a footnote about Bitumen:
   So he sent for him, and embraced him after the most affectionate manner, and bestowed on him the country called Carra; it was a soil that bare amomum in great plenty: there are also in it the remains of that ark, wherein it is related that Noah escaped the deluge, and where they are still shown to such as are desirous to see them.

(Loeb's Translation)
   He... presented him with a district called Carron. The land there... possesses the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood - remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.

Loeb's footnote
   The location of Carron presents considerable difficulties. It is not Carrhae, which is in northern Mesopotamia.
   In Antiquities I 92, Josephus notes that the remains were shown by the Armenians even in his own day. Berosus the Chaldean (3rd c. BC) as quoted by Josephus, Ant. I 93, also notes that a portion of the ark was still said to be extent in Armenia on the mountain of the Cordyaeans (modern Kurdistan) and that people carried off pieces of the bitumen which they used as apotropaic charms.

<<Are the similarities between the Parthian Queen Helena's conversion to Judaism and the Roman Queen Helena's conversion to Christianity merely a random coincidence or are they a case of paranormal or supernatural Synchronicity?>>
   The similarities appear more a case of history repeating itself due to natural, historical factors than a purely random coincidence or paranormal synchronicity.
   The 1st century Helena was a Queen from Adiabene in the Middle East who converted to Judaism, and her son Izates was a king who converted to Judaism later too. Like the 4th century Roman Queen Helena, this 1st century Queen Helena made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and donated major resources there for religious reasons. Like Constantine, Queen Helena's son King Izates put off formal conversion for a while.
   Josephus refers to Queen Helena in Book 20, Chapter 2:
..., moreover, by their means, became known to Izates, and persuaded him, in like manner, to embrace that religion; he also, at the earnest entreaty of Izates, accompanied him when he was sent for by his father to come to Adiabene; it also happened that Helena, about the same time, was instructed by a certain other Jew and went over to them.
   ...And when he perceived that his mother was highly pleased with the Jewish customs, he made haste to change, and to embrace them entirely; and as he supposed that he could not he thoroughly a Jew unless he were circumcised, he was ready to have it done. But when his mother understood what he was about, she endeavored to hinder him from doing it, and said to him that this thing would bring him into danger; and that, as he was a king, he would thereby bring himself into great odium among his subjects, when they should understand that he was so fond of rites that were to them strange and foreign...
   In Helena Augusta, Jan Willem Drijvers writes:
Although there are striking similarities between Helena of Adiabene and Helena Augusta - their conversion, their coming to Palestine, their care for those in need- there are no convincing reasons to explain their possible confusion [by Moses of Chorene, a medieval writer narrating Helena of Adiabene's life]. In fact, this supposed confusion raises more questions than it solves.

   These similarities were already noticed in the ninth century by Altman of Hautvillers, ASS Aug III, 18 Aug., 592.
In The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, Volume 1, Adolf von Harnack writes:
A further and striking parallel to the efforts of Queen Helena of Adiabene is to be found in the charitable activity of Constantine's mother, Queen Helena, in Jerusalem. Possibly the latter took the Jewish Queen as her model, for Helena of Adiabene's philanthropy was still remembered in Jerusalem and by Jews in general (cp. Eus., H.E., ii. 12, and the Talmudic tradition).
So the legacy of the 1st Century Queen Helena serves as one possible rational explanation for the similarity in the 4th century Roman Queen Helena's charity work in Jerusalem.
   Wikipedia's article on "Historic Recurrence" says:
One of the recurrence patterns identified by G.W. Trompf involves "the isolation of any two specific events which bear a very striking similarity".[15] The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana observed that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."[29] Karl Marx, having in mind the respective coups d'état of Napoleon I (1799) and his nephew Napoleon III (1851), wrote acerbically in 1852: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."[30]
   However, Poland's Adam Michnik believes that history is not just about the past because it is constantly recurring, and not as farce, as Marx had it, but as itself: "The world", writes Michnik, "is full of inquisitors and heretics, liars and those lied to, terrorists and the terrorized. There is still someone dying at Thermopylae, someone drinking a glass of hemlock, someone crossing the Rubicon, someone drawing up a proscription list."[31]
   On 27 April 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in the Philippine Islands, foolhardily, with only four dozen men, confronts 1,500 natives who have defied his attempt to Christianize them, and is killed.[34] On 14 February 1779, English explorer James Cook, on Hawaii Island, foolhardily, with only a few men, confronts the natives after some individuals have taken one of Cook's small boats, and Cook and four of his men are killed.
   [30] The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), in Marx Engels Selected Works, volume I, p. 398.
   Marx's Quote in his Preface to The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte includes:
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice.
   Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
   The relevance of Marx's quote is that it notes that there are historical circumstances that can cause repetitions. So the story of the earlier Helena, a convert wife of a king who gave to charity, could be part of historical circumstances, like conversion to Judaism or Christianity, as well as pilgrimages to the Holy Land, that caused a repetition, when a later Queen Helena acted similarly.
   This, along with the earlier Helena's potential for inspiring her later namesake's charity work makes it not apparent that the similarity between the two Helenas was paranormal.

<<It's curious that Josephus repeatedly in Book 20 says that he is going to address certain incidents at a later time in his writings. Maybe Josephus was forced to stop writing prematurely and didn't have a chance to finish?>>
   It's conceivable that someone, especially an imperial authority, forced Josephus to stop writing, since he never wrote what he said he would, and continuing his narration into a more contemporary period could touch on freshly sensitive political topics. But more likely what happened was either that he lacked patronage for more major historical writing, since his patron Epaphroditus was likely killed under Domitian, or there was not enough demand for a follow up history, especially since he had already covered the Jewish Wars in his other book, Wars of the Jews.
   Josephus writes in Chapter XX, Chp. 7 (Whiston's translation):
...and when he[Felix] had had a son by her, he named him Agrippa. But after what manner that young man, with his wife, perished at the conflagration of the mountain Vesuvius, [Note] in the days of Titus Caesar, shall be related hereafter.
   [Note]This is now wanting.
   Mariamne put away Archclaus, and was married to Demetrius, the principal man among the Alexandrian Jews, both for his family and his wealth; and indeed he was then their alabarch. So she named her son whom she had by him Agrippinus. But of all these particulars we shall hereafter treat more exactly.
   [Note] This also is now wanting.
Loeb's edition notes here and in other places that we don't have Josephus picking up some accounts in other writings. (ie. for Chp 7 S. 3, Loeb's note says: "There is no such account extant.")
   It appears that Josephus was not killed during Domitian's reign. Josephus is considered to have finished his Antiquities in the last year of Domitian's rule in 93-94 AD, and then to have died in c. 100 AD at about 63 years old. Josephus was working on a writing called "On Customs and Causes" about Jewish theology and the Torah, but it is not extant, so it is appears that he didn't publish it.
   In "The 'Autobiography' of Josephus and the Hypothesis of a Second Edition of His 'Antiquities'", David A. Barish drew attention to Josephus' remarks in Book XX that he was going to discuss some topics later. Barish notes that the Antiquities don't cover events after 69 AD. Barish writes: "It is possible that Josephus originally intended to deal with these subjects in the last book of the Antiquities, but, under the strain of completion, failed to do so." (
   After reviewing the evidence, Barish concludes, "Thus, at this point no evidence exists to support the hypothesis of a second edition of the Antiquities." Barish notes that in Antiquities XX, Josephus wrote: "Here will be the end of my account of the Antiquities, after which point I began to write also concerning the war." Barish notes the context for this statement is that Josephus seems to be saying that the Antiquities covers the period up to the 12th year of Nero's reign, and that the Wars of the Jews covers the period following it. Josephus has other references in Book XX to what he plans to discuss in the future, and Barish associates this with Josephus' Autobiography that Josephus wrote after the Antiquities. However, I believe that Josephus must be talking about writing more than just in his Autobiography, because some things that he said that he would narrate are not in his autobiography, and they also don't concern his own personal life.

<<Did the Romans' and Agrippa's reaction against the killing of James damage or cripple the power of the Sadduccees?>>
No, because the Sadducee priest Ananus and his relatives retained major influence, the Sadduccees were in general favored for Temple service under Roman rule, and Josephus doesn't deny that the priests after Ananus were Sadduccees like he was.
   In Book 20, Josephus writes how the procurator Albinus wrote angrily over James' killing and King Agrippa removed Ananus (the son of the Ananus who had interrogated Jesus) from the High Priesthood over it:
but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.
   Josephus notes that the reader does not "meet with any Sadducees later than this high priest in all Josephus."
   But Josephus follows his story of Ananus' removal by narrating Ananus' and his relatives' continued influence:
But as for the High Priest Ananias, (28) he increased in glory every day; and this to a great degree: and had obtained the favour and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner. For he was a great hoarder up of money. He therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the High Priest [Jesus,] by making them presents. He had also servants who were very wicked; who joined themselves to the boldest sort of the people, and went to the threshing floors, and took away the tythes that belonged to the priests by violence: and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tythes to them. So the other High Priests acted in the like manner, as did those his servants, without any one’s being able to prohibit them.
   [The Sicarii] took the scribe belonging to the governor of the temple, whose name was Eleazar, who was the son of Ananus [Ananias] the High Priest, and bound him, and carried him away with them. After which they sent to Ananias, [who secured his release].

<<Who was the High Priest Jesus son of Damnaeus who replaced Ananus?>>
   Josephus' Book 20 of the Antiquities is the only surviving record that we have on this figure. He did not serve long as the High Priest. Wikipedia's entry on him says:
Jesus ben Damneus himself was deposed less than a year later [after he was appointed to replace the High Priest Ananus ben Ananus].

<<What does the Greek name "Damneion" mean? What 1st century Jew would be named "The Condemned", especially with a name in Greek, rather than in Aramaic or Hebrew?>>
It apparently means "Subduer". Some First Century Jews had Greek names.
   In Book XX, Chapter 9, Section 1 of the Antiquities, Josephus writes that when the Roman governor Albinus was away, the "very insolent" high priest Ananus ( Ἄνανος), son of Ananus stoned James, " the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ". So Albinus wrote that he would punish Ananus and Herod Agrippa removed him from the high priesthood and replaced Ananus with "Jesus, the son of Damneus". (Ἰησοῦν τὸν τοῦ Δαμναίου).
   BrianB writes:
The Twelve Apostles included an Andrew and a Philip, and one of Herod the Great’s high priests was called Boethus. Δαμναιος is not, I think, connected with Latin damno but with the verb δαμάζω, which is usually translated as something like “overpower”, “subdue”, “break”, or “crush”. In the NT it occurs, for example, in the Gadarene Swine passage (Mark 5:4) (
In Mark 5:4, "δαμάσαι" is used to mean that nobody could "control" the demon-possessed person.
   Outside of the instance of this person in the Antiquities, "Δαμναιος " is never recorded in Greek as a real name. It comes from the Greek term δαμάζω, forms of which include δαμνάω/δάμνημι.
   There were ancient Jewish high priests with Greek names (eg. Theophilus in the 1st century, and  Alexander and Antigonus in the 1st cent. BC). And some Jews had both a Hellenistic name and a Semitic one (like Paul/Shaul).
   Benjamin Kantor, BPK on the Koine Greek forum (, wrote to me that it looks more like "Subduer" than "Subdued". He wrote:
It is difficult to know with so little information. It has a nominal morpheme ending on it, naturally, so perhaps something like 'subduer' yes
   A analogous name that Ben gave is νικητης meaning victor (feminine). So based on this response, it looks like a real name or honorific that his father could have been given.

<<Were there two high priests at once, Ananias and Jesus, who had been appointed "the high priest", or does this title imply that "the high priest" is above the other high priests who serve at once?>>
I asked because in Book XX, Chp. 9, Josephus writes that
the high priest, Ananias... increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favor and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest [Jesus], by making them presents...
The high priest Ananias was retired as the serving High Priest and been replaced by Jesus Ben Damneus, although Josephus in this passage refers to both as "High Priests".
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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Here are the answers for:

<<Note regarding authorship:>>
William Cureton, in "Spicilegium Syriacum", suggested that the author of the letter (ie. Mara Bar Serapion's letter to his son Serapion) could be the father of Serapion, who was the 8th bishop of Antioch in c. 190-211 AD. (

<<How do parents suffer torture from their virtuous children's excellence of character?>>
   Mara Bar Serapion tells his son, per Roberts-Donaldson's translation:
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.
Cureton's 1855 translation runs this way for the key statement:
For in both these things the contest of feelings hurts us: for as to the good, love for them torments us, and we are attracted by their manners; and as to the vicious, we labour for their correction, and grieve over their vices.
   The overall context tends to be that the good children are somehow causing harm to the parents, so the statement's implication must be that the good manners of good children somehow harm the parents.
   The explanation that Mara must have in mind is that if the parents lost their good children or saw their good children suffer - the latter happens in the world as a matter of course - then they would be sad at their loss or over the children's suffering.
   This explanation fits what Mara says later in the letter, when he describes captured parents' sadness at seeing the captivity of their children, and describing his surprise at how some parents have given away their children:   
For the love of life was retained together with the pains of death, and our misfortunes drove us out of the way; for we beheld our brethren and our children as captives...
   What, then, have we to say touching the error which has come into the world?... we are shaken by its commotions like a reed by the wind. For I have wondered at many that cast away their children, and I have marveled at others that brought up those which were not their own...
   In the excerpt above, Mara's first statement helps explains the last one. Namely, losing children is naturally very harmful, and so he finds it incomprehensible when parents give their children away.

<<Can you explain the last statement in Mara Bar Serapion's letter, below?>>
   The letter ends with a dialogue between Mara Bar Serapion and one of his friends when they were captured and exiled from their city in the Middle East by the Romans:
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.”
   Cureton's 1855 translation for Mara's declaration runs: "I was laughing at the Time, because, withhout having borrowed any evil from me, it repays me."
   Mara using humor to comment on the irony of his situation. That is, he didn't harm Time or mistreat Time, but now Time is mistreating him in that he is old and in captivity. Mara is putting his humorous observation in terms of the metaphor of borrowing and paying back. He comments that even though he never lent evil to Time, Time is "paying" him back harmfully.
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 #287 on: February 01, 2020, 03:03:07 PM »
Here is another question that came up when learning about

<<How many 1st to 2nd nonChristian writers who mentioned Christians described them as odd? How many did not?>>
I asked because Peter Kirby wrote that Mara Bar Serapion was an exception in this regard:
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...
Certainly, some Christian teachings and practices could seem strange to a non-Christian, like the man Jesus being the Second Person of the Trinity or the Eucharist having Jesus' body and blood. Paul in one epistle said that the teaching of the crucified Messiah was "nonsense to the Greeks."
      Out of the non-Christian writers who commented on Christianity, Thallus and Phlegon might have seen Christianity as odd, since they might have proposed a natural phenomenon for the darkness at the Passion. The rabbinical Council of Jamnia saw them as odd, since their Birkat Ha-Minim curses the heretics, and was aimed at Christians among them. The Talmud records hostile statements from Rabbi Akiva about Christians in the early 2nd century. Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus described Christians as having superstitio (excessive religiousity). Galen, Celsus, and Lucian criticized Christianity for superstition. Minucius Felix wrote that Fronto "scattered reproaches as a rhetorician".
      On the other hand, Seneca and his brother, the consul Gallo, might not have seen Christianity as odd, since Seneca referred respectfully referred to a crucified leader, who may have been Jesus. And Gallo let Paul go when charged by rabbis in Corinth. Pliny the Elder referred to the Nazerini in Syria in a straightforward way, as if they were well organized politically, and didn't mention anything odd. In his letter, Hardian says to punish Christians depending on their shamelessness.
      Josephus most likely didn't consider them odd, since his passages on John the Baptist, Jesus, and James treat those figures respectfully. He writes that the Christians are still around at his time of writing, and doesn't directly state that they are odd. However, I believe that Josephus was actually a Christian.
      Epictetus praised Christians as an example of those who live a Stoic approach to persecution. He writes that just as crazy people might endure it by their madness, the Galileans endure it by "habit". However, I think that Epictetus might have been a Christian who syncretized his beliefs with Greek paganism.
      Mara Bar Serapion respected the Jews' wise king (perhaps Jesus) whom they killed. But he could have been a Christian.
      Kirby writes that Philostratus saw Christianity as odd, but Philostratus didn't directly mention it, and scholars debate whether his biography of Appollonius implies hostility to Christianity.
      Marcus Aurelius didn't characterize them as odd: His empire persecuted Christians on occasion, and in his Meditations, he criticized Christians for being ready to die out of their obstinacy. But "Eusebius says that Marcus wrote letters stating that in Germany his army was saved from thirst 'by the Christians’ prayers, and Marcus threatened to execute any who attempted to accuse us.'"(
      Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger advises caution and restraint in suppressing them, and refers to the scenario of Christians not worshiping the Romans' gods, but doesn't say anything particularly weird about them.    
      Gamaliel in Acts treated the Christians respectfully, comparing them to the followers of other Messianic claimants of his time and advising sparing them for persecution.
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 #288 on: February 02, 2020, 11:13:14 PM »
Here are the answers for the Sibylline Oracles:


<<What do you think of Justin Martyr's description of prophesying? How does it compare with the Biblical method of prophecy-making? Was Biblical prophecy composed in an ecstatic, frenzied, automatic, volitionless, or involuntary way, such that the Lord's Spirit directly used the prophets to create the writings? Or did the prophets carefully think out and deliberately draft their writings? Did both methods occur?>>
   In his Hortatory Address to the Greeks, Justin Martyr described the pagan Oracles' method of prophesying as occurring in a frenzied state where the oracular prophetess forgets her utterances after making them. In real history, Greek pagan sibyls probably at times made those kinds of frenzied utterances that they forgot soon after making them, since Plutarch recorded that gasses sometimes were around the sibyl at Delphi. The gasses could have assisted in putting a sibyl into a frenzied state for making her utterances in a deranged way. On the other hand, realistically, there must have been Sibylline oracles that were thoughtfully and carefully composed, since they follow hexameter and form Acrostics. The Christian Sibyllines are a good example of this. Another plausible explanation is that scribes paraphrased and arranged the frenzied utterances of sibyls in a hexametric poetic form and included Acrostics into the final compositions. Most likely all three methods occurred in different instances - frenzied utterances by sibyls, careful compositions by scribes, and careful re-arrangement by scribes of content from sibyls' frenzied utterances.
   In general, Old Testament prophecy was not given in a frenzied style, and the OT prophets did not immediately forget their utterances. However, there were apparently times when Old Testament prophecy was given when prophets were likely in ecstasy, like in Isaiah's, Ezekiel's, and Daniel's visions of God, heaven, or the resurrection. The Old Testament prophets had the power to resist or stop themselves from prophecying, as when Jonah tried to flee from God's assignment that he prophecy to Nineveh. But God at times communicated the content itself of prophecy in an automatic, volitionless, or involuntary way, in the sense that the prophets could not choose the basic substance of the prophecies. For instance, the OT pagan prophet Balaam who prophesied a blessing on Israel explained that he could not really choose to make an authentic prophecy against Israel.
   At least sometimes, the Lord's Spirit directly used the prophets to create their writings, since the Nicene Creed says that God's Spirits spoke "through the prophets" and because in the Old Testament, prophets like Moses and Isaiah announced what God "said", as if they were giving God's explicit words.
   Justin Martyr wrote about the sibyl's frenzied state and her lack of recollection of her prophecies:
And Plato, when he read her oracles, seems to me to have regarded the reciters of oracles as divinely inspired. For he saw that the things which had been spoken of old by her were actually fulfilled; and therefore in the dialogue with Meno [1. Plato, Meno, 99.], expressing admiration and eulogy of the prophets for their sayings, he has thus written: "We might truly name as divine those whom we call prophets. Not least should we say that they are divine and profoundly inspired and possessed of God when they truly speak of many and great matters, knowing nothing of the things of which they speak;" clearly and obviously referring to the oracles of the Sibyl. For she was unlike the poets, who after the writing of their poems have power to correct and polish, especially the accuracy of the meters, but at the time of her inspiration she was filled with the matters of her prophecy, and when the spell of inspiration ceased her memory of the things spoken also ceased.
   This accordingly is the reason why all the meters of the verses of the Sibyl have not been preserved. For we ourselves, being in the city, learned from the guides who showed us the places in which she uttered her oracles that there was also a vessel made of bronze in which they said her remains were preserved. And besides all other things which they narrated, they also told us this, as having heard it from their forefathers, that they who received the oracles at that time, being without education, often utterly missed the accuracy of the meters, and this they said was the reason for the want of meter in some of the verses, the prophetess after the ceasing of her possession and her inspiration having no remembrance of what she had said, and the writers having failed for want of education to preserve the accuracy of the meters. Therefore it is evident that Plato said this about the reciters of oracles in reference to the oracles of the Sibyl; for he thus said: "When they truly speak of many and great matters, knowing nothing of the things of which they speak."
   SOURCE: Appendix to Milton Terry's edition of the Sibylline Oracles,
   According to the entry on the Sibylline Oracles in Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament, Justin Martyr
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.
   In Book III of the Christian Sibyllines, the Sibyl explains how she gets and makes her prophecies:
[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 is that God puts ideas in the Sibyl's head and that this is the origin of her prophecies. She is in a frenzy and has ideas in her head about the future and the ideas are her prophecies when she speaks them.
   In contrast, the article on the Sibylline Oracles in Hastings' Dictionary notes that the Roman writer Cicero (1st c. 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."
   Martti Nissinen theorizes in "Prophecy and Ecstasy" that some prophets had ecstasy because they had trances and visions:
The words trance and ecstasy, the meanings of which largely overlap in scholarly language, refer to “forms of behavior deviating from what is normal in the wakeful state and possessing specific cultural significance, typical features being an altered grasp of reality and the self-concept, with the intensity of change ranging from slight modifications to a complete loss of consciousness.” ... Many prophets of Yahweh, in fact, engage in ecstatic behavior in the Hebrew Bible, making spirit journeys and seeing heavenly things (2 Kgs 5:26; 6:17; Ezek 3:12–15; 8; 11; 37:1–14; 40–8; cf. Paul in 2 Cor. 12:1–5). Just like in the Near East, presence in the divine council—hardly typical of the regular state of mind—or at least knowledge of its decisions is required of a true prophet in several biblical texts (1 Kgs 22:19–23; Isa. 6; Jer. 23:16–22; Amos 3:7).
   Nissinen also theorizes that Saul's prophesying (yitnabbĕ’û) was in a frenzied state, although noting that it isn't clear if the Bible portrays his frenzy positively:
Later on, when Saul sends his men to Ramah to look for David who has escaped Saul’s aggression, they encounter a band of prophets led by Samuel, falling into a prophetic frenzy (yitnabbĕ’û) with them. The same happens to two further commandos sent by Saul, until he himself goes to Ramah and the spirit of God comes upon him and he, once again, “prophesies” before Samuel, strips off his clothes and lies naked all that day and the following night (1 Sam. 19:19–24). The verb hitnabbē’ does not seem to imply any kind of transmission of divine words, but is used for Saul’s ecstatic comportment,84 which is nevertheless enough for the audience to identify Saul among the prophets. ... While the editors of the Deuteronomistic History incorporate an account of such prophets in their composition without hesitation, it may be debated to what extent Saul’s frantic behavior and his association with the prophetic groups reflects an appreciation of such activity, or rather instigates the prelude of his ultimate failure.
   Prophecy and Ecstasy - Oxford Scholarship,
   Nissinen quotes Philo's description of prophecy to show it as one of ecstatic direct communication from God, but then says that 3rd century Christian writers later got away from the concept of ecstasy and lack of self-control in prophecy:
Philo says that a prophet “has no utterance of his own, but all his utterance came from elsewhere, the echoes of another’s voice.” The human light is replaced by God’s light, “ecstasy (ekstasis) and divine possession (entheos) and madness (mania) fall upon us,” and only when the divine spirit departs does the human mind return to its tenancy.97 This title only befits the wise, such as Noah, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, and Philo explains even his own writing happening under the influence of divine possession (hypo katokhēs entheou), which makes him filled with “corybantic frenzy” (korybantia) so that he becomes unconscious of anything, even of the lines written by himself.
   However, the ecstatic component of prophecy seems to have become a problem for some early Christian writers who saw it happening in a religious environment they deemed as heretic or pagan. For instance, for Origen and Lactantius, a true biblical or Christian prophet was strictly controlled and non-ecstatic even under divine inspiration.
   Fr. William Most notes that according to the Bible, it was the "Spirit of God" that made Saul prophesy in a frenzied way:
   In 1 Samuel 19:20-14 David had just escaped, for the time, the hands of Saul. But Saul sent messengers to arrest him. The messengers found Samuel seeming to lead a band of frenzied prophets. The messengers fell into frenzy too. Saul himself then pursued, but the "spirit of God" came upon him, and he fell into the same state. He took off his clothes and lay naked all that day and night. Ecstatic prophets sometimes did this in their frenzies.
   ...It is hard to imagine the spirit of God leading to uncontrollable frenzy and making a king lie naked all day and night. In 1 Cor 14 St. Paul speaks much of prophets, and compares the gift of tongues to them, unfavorably for tongues.
   SOURCE: Old Testament Prophets - Isaiah | EWTN,
   This is referring to 1 Samuel 19:20:
Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying (nib-bə-’îm), and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied (way-yiṯ-nab-bə-’ū).
The Hebrew term "naba" usually translates as "prophesy", but in some translations sometimes as "rave" (Strong's Hebrew: 5012. נָבָא (naba) -- to prophesy), like in 1 Samuel 18:10 (NASB): "Saul... raved in the midst of the house".
   Regarding the voluntariness of prophesying, James Smith writes in The Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration:
Several of the early fathers used the analogy of performing on a musical instrument to describe inspiration. Justin Martyr (103-165) says that the Spirit 'acted on just men as a plectrum on a harp or lyre.' Athenagoras (133-190) said that inspired men 'uttered that which was wrought in them, the Spirit using them as its instruments, as a flute player might play a flute.'
If a person under inspiration by God to make declarations works like a musical instrument being played by a performer to make notes, it doesn't seem as if the person's own will is involved in choosing the content of the prophecy, since a musical instrument like a flute doesn't use a will in making notes.
   On one hand, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:32-34:
32. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
   33. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Similarly, 1 Cor. 14:30, Paul gives instructions on prophets holding silent while others prophecy: "If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace."
   2 Peter 1:21 says: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
   Putting these passages together, it looks like the prophet has self-control over his prophecying, so that he can do so in a straightforward, calm way, and he can choose whether to prophesy or to be silent. At the same time, the content of the prophecy can come from God and not by the prophet's own human decision. So for instance when God led Jonah to prophesy to Nineveh, the impulse and content of the message was from God, even though Jonah had a conscious choice whether to perform his prophesying.
   Further, there were cases where apparently the ideas came to the prophet or the prophet uttered things without the prophet thinking out the ideas or specific utterances ahead of time, like Saul prophecying. Saul sent messengers to get David, and then he went himself, but then both Saul and his messengers started prophecying, some translations saying he raved, and then Saul lay naked, which was not something that they planned to do. The Bible makes it look like God used unexpected prophecying as a way to stop Saul. It was not something that Saul had actually wanted to do himself, because his desire was to catch David. It's not that Saul couldn't have acted normal if he tried hard enough, but God's Spirit guided him to act in a fashion that did not come from his own conscious will.
   In Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity; Integrity and Faithfulness, John R. W. Stott theorizes that the OT prophecies were the word both of God and of Man, which he calls the "Double Authorship of Scripture", which suggests that at least in some cases the messages can be considered directly from God in that God used the prophets to give His own messages. he writes that according to the theory of "Double Authorship," the Bible is
indeed the Word of God through the words of human beings... THe Pentateuch is called in the same passage the Law of Moses and the Law of the Lord (Luke 2:22-23) and Jeremiah introduces his prophecy as 'the words of Jeremiah' into whose mouth Yahweh had put his words (Jer. 1:1-9).
   First, the Bible is the Word of God.  The familiar clause in the Apostles' Creed about the Holy Spirit affirms that he 'spoke through the prophets'. THey regularly introduced their oracles with the claim that the word of the Lord had come to them... The classic statement of the Holy Spirit's work in the inspiration of Scripture remains 2 Timothy 3:16: 'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God' (AV) or literally is God-breathed (theopneustos). The word means... that what they wrote was breathed out of the mouth of God... It is not literal, of course... human speech is a readily intelligible model of divine inspiration, since it conveys the thoughts of our minds in words out of our mouth by our breath. It is in this sense that Scripture may accurately be described as God-breathed.
   Secondly, the Bible is also the words of men.
   Stott notes that
Tertullian said that the Scriptures were 'dictated by the Holy Spirit'; Athenagoras of Athens wrote that 'the Spirit used the writers as a flute-player might blow into his flute'; Augustine called them 'pens of the Holy Spirit'...
Stott takes these Church writers to mean that "the result, namely that Scripture is the Word of God", ie. that the resulting words and messages, were God's own. Stott doesn't consider these patristic quotes to mean that God directly used a mechanical process like dictating through the prophets to communicate the prophecies, but it looks like Stott is denying the plain meaning of those quotes. Those Church fathers must have accepted St. Paul's verses about the prophets having self-control, and they probably believed that the prophets participated with the Spirit in making their prophecies. But nonetheless, the plain meaning is that the Spirit's action through the prophets is comparable to a performer using instruments for communication, an analogy that refers to a process, not just a result as Stott theorizes.
   Stott points to three pieces of evidence that the prophecies were thoughtfully composed by their ancient human authors: (1) Historical narrative (eg. Luke's painstaking investigations in Luke 1:1-4 for his Gospel), (2) Literary style (the diversity of literary genres and authorial styles in the Bible), and (3) Theological emphasis (eg. the teacher's ponderings to find the right words in Ecclesiastes 12:9-10). But while these three proofs show that much of the Biblical writings came from thoughtful compositions, they don't prove whether some of the Biblical prophets' declarations, came in an automatic style, comparable to a hypnotized person repeating words when triggered to do so.
   To illustrate the operation of Isaiah's work of divine prophecy, in the Encyclopedia of Biblical Spiritualism, Moses Hull points to Isaiah 50:4-5 and focuses on Isaiah's declaration that God opened the prophet's ear:
4. The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
   5. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
Hull also quotes Isaiah's declaration in Isaiah 59:21, "My spirit that it upon thee, and my words, which I have put into thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth."
   In Hosea 6, God says that He attacked through His prophets with the words of His mouth, thereby ascribing to Himself their prophetic words:
4. O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
   5. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
   6. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
   The explanation by Jeremiah's secretary Baruch to his Jewish audience about how he got his message in Jeremiah 36:17-18 seems deliberately obtuse:
And they asked Baruch saying, "Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?" Then Baruch answered them: "He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book."
Of course his questioners could expect that Jeremiah orally spoke the words and that Baruch noted them down in writing. What his questioners really wanted to know was where Jeremiah got his words from or how Jeremiah got them, like whether Jeremiah mentally heard God's voice in his head, or if he just felt inside himself that he wanted to give certain messages. The obtuseness of Baruch's answer suggests that the answer to their underlying question (ie. how Jeremiah's prophecy worked and how it came from its ultimate origin to the prophet's lips) is a sacred mystery.
   Referring to Jeremiah 32:6-8, Moses Hull notes that, "It was the fulfillment of his impression that caused the prophet to say: 'Then I knew that this was the Word of the Lord.'" This suggests that the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy showed Jeremiah that the prophecy that he was impelled or inspired to make was divine.

<<Is there a theological problem in suggesting that pagan nonChristians had the Holy Spirit working in them?>>
   No, because the Orthodox Church does not hold to the theory of "Total Depravity" of the non-Christian world, a theory that might imply a potential conflict between the pagan prophets' "totally depraved" state and the Holy Spirit's inspiration in them. Further, in the Old Testament, the pagan prophet Balaam had authentic divine prophecies due to the Holy Spirit's inspiration.
   Some Church fathers treated the pagan sibyls as if they were inspired by the Holy Spirit:
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.
   Theophilus, the 2nd century bishop of Antioch, quoted the Sibylline Oracle as saying that God put His Spirit in everything and made His Spirit the leader of all people:
Ye mortal men and fleshly, who are naught,
   How quickly are ye puffed up, seeing not
   The end of life! Do ye not tremble now
   And fear God, him who watches over you,
   The one who is most high, the one who knows,
   The all-observant witness of all things,
   All-nourishing Creator, who has put
   In all things his sweet Spirit and has made
   Him leader of all mortals?
   One can list three categories of inspired people whom the Holy Spirit inspires:
   (1) Pagan non-Christians (eg. the Prophet Balaam and the Sibylline Oracles in the eyes of the Church fathers), who could receive divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit, which could rest on them.
   (2) Old Testament prophets like Samuel, David, and Isaiah, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, which rested on them.
   (3) Pious, faithful, baptised Christians, in whom the Holy Spirit dwelt on a permanent, constant basis.
   For Group 1 (pagans), the Jewish Encyclopedia says, referring to a rabbinical commentary on Numbers 20:
Among the pagans Balaam, from being a mere interpreter of dreams, rose to be a magician and then a possessor of the Holy Spirit (Num. R. xx. 7).
The Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry page on Parashat Balak says about Balaam:
If we read between the lines, we understand that he was one of the greatest prophets in the Torah. He was filled with the spirit of God. This parasha shows us that Balaam spoke with God on a regular basis.
   In "An Ancient Pagan Prophecy of Christ?", William Hamblin writes that many Christians saw Sibyllines oracles as inspired by the Holy Spirit:
Other early Christians, however, interpreted some of the Sibylline oracles as inspired prophecies of the coming of Christ, especially Virgil’s fourth “Eclogue,” which was thought to have been a poetic prophecy based on a Sibylline oracle. The Christians quoted passages from these oracles to their pagan rivals as proof that even the pagans’ own sacred books prophesied of Christ.
   The Sibylline oracles thus began to be seen by many Christians as having been, at least in part, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they were quoted by many early Christian apologists and church fathers, including Augustine.
   Regarding Group 2, in Psalm 51, David prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit within me”, and "Cast me not away from Your presence; take not Your Holy Spirit from me." This implies that David was asking for God's Spirit to stay in him.
   The article "Did the Holy Spirit come upon or fill the Old Testament saints?" says:
The first time we are told the Holy Spirit was involved with a person occurs when He enables Bezalel to be a skilled craftsman for the tabernacle (Exodus 31:3).
   "I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship..." Exodus 31:3 (NASB)
   "Did the Holy Spirit come upon or fill the Old Testament saints?" | NeverThirsty,
   The article claims that the Spirit did not permanently dwell in the OT prophets because David in Psalm 51 pleaded that God not take the Spirit from him, implying that it was not necessarily permanent. The article also points to Ezekiel 2:2 &3:24, where the Spirit is in Ezekiel.
   Wikipedia's article on the Holy Spirit in Judaism describes the Holy Spirit "resting on" Old Testament prophets:
According to Job 28:25, the Holy Spirit rested upon the Prophets in varying degrees, some prophesying to the extent of one book only, and others filling two books.[22] Nor did it rest upon them continually, but only for a time. ... In Biblical times the Holy Spirit was widespread, resting on those who, according to the Bible, displayed a propitious activity; thus it rested on Eber and (according to Joshua 2:16) even on Rahab.
   Ellicott's commentary on John 3:34 ("For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for God gives not the Spirit by measure to him.") says that the Spirit dwelt in the OT prophets but only to a limited extent:
The words “by measure,” in the sense of limitation, are frequent in the classical and rabbinical writings. The Rabbis seem to have applied the phrase to prophets and teachers, saying that the Spirit dwelt in the prophets only in a certain measure. Comp. 2Kings 2:9, where Elisha prays for “a double portion,” or, more exactly, a portion of two—the portion of the first-born son (Deuteronomy 21:17)—of the spirit of Elijah. The same thought meets us in St. Paul (himself a pupil of Gamaliel), who speaks of “the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as He will” (see 1Corinthians 12:4-12). The opposite of this thought, then, is before us here. God gives in this case not as in others. The Son who cometh from above is above all. There is no gift of prophet, or of teacher, which is not given to Him. He has the fulness of the spiritual gifts which in part are given to men, and He speaks the very words of God.
   The logical conclusion from these quotes is not that the Holy Spirit wasn't necessarily staying/dwelling/resting in the inspired prophets of the OT period, but that it was in them to only a limited extent and temporarily so, such that it could leave them. In contrast, the Holy Spirit is in Christian believers permanently and in fullness.

<<What does the Sibylline Hexameter sound like in Greek?>>
   I asked because in translating the Sibylline Oracles, Milton Terry commented that the English language naturally fits a Pentameter structure, whereas the Greek language fits hexameter. So when he made his translation of the Oracles, he deliberately translated them into English with a Pentameter verse from the Greek original, which was in hexameter.
   I was not able to find quotations from the Oracles recorded in Greek online. However, the Oracles were written in a form of dactylic hexameter resembling that in Homer's poetry.
   The first 21 lines of Homer's Odyssey are here:
   Excerpts from the Iliad are here:
   Prof. Leonard Mueller reads an excerpt of Homer's Dactylic Hexameter here:
   In The Sibylline Oracles, J. L. Lightfoot notes that the Oracles uses a higher proportion of "spondees" in its hexameters than Homer's own poetry uses. A "spondee" is a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables. Lightfoot writes:
Most obviously, she [the Sibyl] has a high proportion of spondaic feet. There is an overall tendency for the proposrtion of dactyls to spondeeds in a hexameter to rise from Homer to Nonnus, in other words for the number of spondees to fall. But the Sibylline oracles have an even higher proportion of spondees to dactyls than Homer; books 1 and 2 slightly overtop the average with 28.6% and 27.6% respectively, though not by as much as books 5, 6, and 7. The Sibyl's Homerising preference for high numbers of spondees is shared with the corpus of Delphic oracles, where Nieto Ibanez records an average of 27.4%. Again, the Sibyl employs a high number of hexametrical schemes (possible permutations of dactyls and spondees), almost as high as the maximum possible 32 (all found in Homer), and running counter to the tendency in post-Homeric poetry to reduce those schemes.
   William Deane writes in his article on the Sibylline Oracles:
They are written in Homeric hexameter verse, but with great licence as to the quantities of words, accent often being taken to lengthen a short syllable, e.g. iii.1: Ourani hupsibremeta makar, hos echeis to Cheroubim, and quantities are in the most regal manner made to give way to the necessities of the verse, even without the excuse of accent, e.g. v.272: autous de krupsousin heos kosmos allage, the last two feet doing duty for spondees.
   The Karavaki blog has excerpts from the Christian Sibyllines in Greek: "Ποιές ήταν οι Σίβυλλες; Τι έλεγαν για τον Αδάμ και τον Χριστό; Ο χρησμός του Απόλλωνα", 12/01/2014, (LINK: ) A Greek lady read one of the passages there to me and the rhythm reminded me of that in Homer's poetry.
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 #289 on: February 06, 2020, 11:43:24 AM »

<<What early Christian writings besides the Sibylline Oracles described the "cessation of prophets"?>>
   Some writers talking about the cessation of the Prophets are referring to the closing of the Old Testament period of prophecy. For instance, the Muratorian Canon refers to the completion of the prophets as happening before the apostles' time, so the Muratorian Canon is talking about the end of the OT prophets.
   In contrast, in asking this question I was referring to the Sibylline Oracle's mention of the cessation of the prophets of the Christian period.
   Book I of the Christian Sibyllines 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 "a cessation of prophets," then the defeat of the Judean rebels and looting of Judea by Rome's armies, which happened in the 1st century:   
But when he [ie. Christ] comes to light again in three days
   and shows a model to men and teaches all things,
   he will mount on clouds and journey to the house of heaven
   leaving to the world the account of the gospel.
   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 Hebrews reap the bad harvest,
   a Roman king will ravage much gold and silver.
Collins and Milton Terry both use the phrase "cessation of prophets" in their translations. Collins ascribes the looting by the Romans in the final verse above to what occurred under Vespasian in c. 70 AD. Peter, Paul, and James had been killed earlier, in c.62-63 AD. This chronology suggests that the passage means that the "prophets" ceased (eg. with the deaths of leading apostles like Paul, Peter, and James), then a Roman leader (ie. Vespasian) destroyed and looted the Temple.
   James Ash writes about Origen's position in "The Decline of Ecstatic Prophecy in the Early Church" (
In spite of the fact that there are no Christian prophets in Origen, there exists something not unlike the charisma of prophecy: "And there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events (hörosi tina peri mellontön), according to the will of the Logos."139 This "foreseeing" is not called prophecy, to be sure. And the word "traces" does imply some kind of decline. But Harnack's verdict that Origen "looks back to a period after which the Spirit's gifts in the Church ceased"140 represents an exaggeration of Origen's position.
   In the "Cessation of the Charismata", Benjamin Warfield writes:
Tertullian reverts to the matter. He is engaged specifically in contrasting the Apostles with their "companions," that is, their immediate successors in the church, with a view to rebuking the deference which was being paid to the Shepherd of Hennas. Among the contrasts which obtained between them, he says that the Apostles possessed spiritual powers peculiar to themselves, that is to say, not shared by their successors. He illustrates this, among other things, by declaring, "For they raised the dead."
   I didn't find other early Christian writings denying the continuation of prophecy among Christians. In fact, Tertullian wrote that many Christians considered Melito of Sardis in the 2nd century to be a prophet. So what must have happened was a decline in prophecy from the late 1st to 2nd century, rather than a strict cessation of it.
   William Deane writes in his commentary on Book I of the Sibylline Oracles that it is probably from the 3rd century AD. The third century date would be in harmony with the Oracle's idea of a cessation in the 1st century, since in the 1st-2nd century Christian writers (ie. Origen and Tertullian) who came closest to describing a cessation still did so in terms of a decline, rather than a cessation per se. It was writers who came later, like Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, who came closer to describing a cessation of prophecy as having occurred by their time.

<<How should a good person address this personal and emotional challenge of dealing with past trauma?>>
   Book II of the Sibyllines says, "Do not vex thy heart With evils that are past; for what is done Can never be undone." Collins' translation runs: "Do not wear out your heart with passing evils, for that which has happened can no longer be undone."
   In Wise Sayings of the Great and Good, L. C. Gent. quotes the maxim "Evils that are Past should not be Mourned." Then he cites the Duke's Proverb in Shakespeare's Othello, Act  1, Scene 3:
When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
   By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
   To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
   Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
   What cannot be preserved when fortune takes
   Patience her injury a mockery makes:
   The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief;
   He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.
   SparkNotes gives this modern paraphrase of the Duke's Parable:
If you can’t change something, don’t cry about it. When you lament something bad that’s already happened, you’re setting yourself up for more bad news. A robbery victim who can smile about his losses is superior to the thief who robbed him, but if he cries he’s just wasting time.
   Rev. Charles Wadsworth said in a "Thanksgiving Sermon":
In regard of evils that are past. Yesterday's evil fulfilled yesterday its mission. It may have been a great and sore sorrow—the loss of all your possessions ; nay, the loss of that which gave possessions all their value. Parents, brothers, sisters, children, friends—alas, they may have gone from your bosom to the pitiless grave ! The sorrow may seem colossal, overmastering! But what then; must you refuse to be comforted'? Because the Divine hand has led you into the valley of the shadow of death, must you therefore pitch tent in the ravine and abide in the darkness? Should you not rather take hold on the Divine staff, following the lead of the great Shepherd up from the gloom to the green pastures and still waters that lie beyond if? A great grief falls on a man as a tempest on a cedar. But may not the tree rebound from the stroke, flinging again its remaining branches to the breeze and the sunshine? If I have lost a fortune, shall I sit down in sackcloth amid its ashes, or rise up like a man and go forth to make another? Because one beloved one is dead, shall I refuse to cast the green turf on the dear dust, and keep an embalmed mummy-grief in my household till the cherished ones that are left to me grow pale and spectral as dwellers in a sepulchre...
   People can also pray for God's spiritual and emotional healing, His mercy, consolation, and justice. In Revelation 6, the martyrs called to the Lord, asking how long until God performed justice and avenged them, and it was then said to them to be calm and wait.
   In 2 Samuel 12, David fasted, cried, and prayed when his son born by Bathsheba was dying as divine punishment for his killing of Uriah. Next, the baby died,
20. So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”
   22. And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether {b}the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23. But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
   24. Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he[c] called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him, 25. and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So [d]he called his name [e]Jedidiah, because of the Lord.
   So David decided that once his child had died, there was no practical benefit in him continuing to fast and cry over the child, so he stopped. He consoled his wife and begot a new son, Solomon, which replaced his deceased infant. So David was taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the trauma, looking to address it in practical ways, from praying for the child while the latter was still dying to begetting a new son after the infant's death.

<<Can you explain William Deane's underlined sentence below about editors adding in verses?>>
   William Deane writes in his book "Pseudepigrapha" about the epilogue of Book IV of the Christian Sibylline Oracles:
An epilogue 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.
   The grammar and context require one to interpret the sentence as: "The episode there (in the Apostolic Constitutions) is indeed somewhat longer than that contained in the MSS. of the Sibyllines, and the editors of the latter (the Sibyllines) have added the verses thus preserved (in the Apostolic Constitutions) to their editions (of the Sibyllines), judging rightly that there is sufficient authority for the insertion (into the Sibyllines)."
   The "latter" must refer to the MSS. of the Sibyllines, since the MSS. are listed last in the preceding clause, which runs "The episode there is indeed somewhat longer than that contained in the MSS. of the Sibyllines..."). This is because the term "latter" in a sentence that is preceded by a juxtaposition of two things refers to the second. So for instance when elsewhere in the same work Deane refers to the "latter" in the following sentence, he means the "Persians": "We are told of a battle between the Medes and Persians at the Euphrates, which resulted in the victory of the latter".
    "Their editions" must refer to their editions of the Sibyllines, because the editors are responsible for them. The insertion must refer to the insertion that they make. The verses "thus preserved" must mean those preserved in the Constitutions, because it doesn't make sense for them to be inserting verses preserved in the Sibyllines into the Sibyllines.

<<Have you heard of the idea that Christ's cross was taken to heaven, which is mentioned in Book 6?>>
   Book VI has an address to the Cross:
     O the Wood, O so blessed, upon which
       God was outstretched; the earth shall not have thee,
       But thou shalt look upon a heavenly house,
   When thou, O God, shalt flash thine eye of fire.
   J.J. Collins, in James Charlesworth's book The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, says regarding this passage: "The idea expressed in verse 37, that the cross would be taken up to heaven, was popular in later Christian writings."(For this he cites: Rzach-Wissowa 2A, col. 2141.)
   The only writing that I already knew of that had this idea was the Gospel of Peter, which has the story of the talking cross. I asked on the "Ancient Way" Orthodox Forum, and none of the respondents had heard of the idea of the taking up/ascension of the cross to heaven before. So it's an uncommon idea among Orthodox.
   Collins is referring to Rzach's article on page 2141 in an old German Encyclopedia, which you can read here: Paulys Realencyclopädie Der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft,
   Based on my weak reading of German, along with an automated electronic translation, the only early writing that the Encyclopedia refers to is the Gospel of Peter. In the latter, the story of the talking cross goes:
[39] And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them,
   [40] and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens.
   [41] And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, 'Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?'
   [42] And an obeisance was heard from the cross, 'Yes.'
One can theorize that the story implies that since Christ ascended to heaven, the talking cross did as well.
   The Cross going to heaven instead of staying on earth would contradict the Finding of the Cross in the 4th century, so it's unlikely that this was a popular idea in Christian writings. If it had been a popular idea, the Finding of the Cross would have been more unlikely. For instance, the Assumption of Mary was a popular tradition, and so while there have been even fraudulent relics over the centuries, there is no relic of the Virgin's body, as it would contradict the tradition of her Assumption.
   Collins' statement that the ascension of the Cross was popular in later writings, citing the German Encyclopedia that cites the Gospel of Peter (late 1st to mid 2nd century AD), is likely mistaken. By comparison, Book VI of the Sibylline Oracles - as Collins in Charlesworth's book describes it - is likely from the 2nd or 3rd century, making it not likely much earlier than the Gospel of Peter, despite what Collins says about "later writings" containing the story. One explanation for the mistake could be that Charlesworth's book is confusing the idea of the ascension of the wooden Cross with Constantine's vision of the sign of the Cross in the sky.

<<Is there a direct connection in Tradition between (A) the Sibyl's prediction of believers performing a ritual of releasing a dove in remembrance of Christ's baptism and (B) the Jerusalem Patriarchate's yearly ritual of releasing a dove at Epiphany?>>
   William Deane writes that the Sibylline Oracles hardly adds anything to the canonical gospels' story of Jesus, except
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."
   Deane writes that Book VII of the Christian Sibylline Oracles describes "sacred rites (vers.76 ff.) which shall obtain in Messiah's time", and he quotes the following passage's instructions about releasing a dove. In Charlesworth's Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, J.J. Collins translates the passage this way:
You shall sacrifice to the immortal great noble God, not by melting a lump of incense in fire or striking a shaggy ram with a sacrificial knife, but with all who bear your blood, by taking a wild dove,* praying, and sending it off, while gazing to heaven. You shall pour a libation of water on pure fire, crying out as follows: 'As the father begot you, the Word, so** I have dispatched a bird, a word which is swift reporter of words, sprinkling with holy waters your baptism, through which you were revealed out of fire..."
   Collins' footnotes: *The origins and extent of this ritual remain enigmatic.
   Below is a photo of the Jerusalem Patriarch's annual ceremony of releasing a dove during the Theophany celebration by the Jordan River:
   The Armenian historian Giragos mentions the dove releasing ceremony among Greeks in 1023 at Theophany/Epiphany, as the website of St. Thomas Armenian Apostolic Church in Tenafly, NJ narrates:
During the last period of the Bagratid Dynasty, the Emperor Basil of Byzantium invited Catholicos Bedros to take part in the religious ceremony of Blessing of Water which was to take place on January 6, 1023 in the stream that followed through Drabizon. ...
   The Armenian historian Lastivertsi wrote, “With the pouring of the sacramental oil into the water by the patriarch a ray of light suddenly sprang from the sprinkler into the water …”
   Historian Vartan wrote, “A marvelous sign occurred. Light shone from the hand of the patriarch and from the consecrated oil, to the fascination of the observers, and the faith of the Armenians was much reinforced …”
   On that occasion an interesting additional event occurred when the Greek churchmen were conducting services. When they were sprinkling the Holy Chrism into the waters a dove was released. According to expectation, the dove, after a short flight, was to return and remain at the consecrated waters. However, unexpectedly, and eagle swooped in from afar, seized the dove and carried it off. “Suddenly an eagle swooped in, seized it, and left, much to the shame of all the Greeks who begrudgingly praised the faith of the Armenians …” (Historian Giragos).

   Feast of the Nativity & Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ – St. Thomas Armenian Apostolic Church,
   The article above mentions a ritual of Greeks and Armenians releasing a dove again in 1211.
   A Russian article says, "On Theophany (the Baptism of the Lord) in Rus there was a customm of releasing doves as a sign of the Divine Grace that descended on Christ." (
   The Tampa Bay Times has this article about a 113 annual Epiphany/Theophany celebration that includes releasing a dove in Tarpon Springs: "Her family has released Epiphany doves for years. Now it's her turn," which carries the announcement, "The 113th annual celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ is expected to draw thousands to Tarpon Springs. (
   Another article says about the custom in Tarpon Springs, "A man was the dove bearer for the first 14 years of Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, but since 1935, the honor traditionally has gone to a young woman in the choir." (Carrying on an Epiphany tradition,
   In 2016, the city of Izmir repeated a tradition of consecrating the waters that had stopped in 1922 because of the population exchange between Turkey and Greece. The Russian article on the 2016 celebration mentions that "The priest also, per tradition, released a dove." (
   There are other articles online that describe the tradition as being celebrated in the 20th-21st centuries, but no statement of which century it was when this traditional ritual began. The common explanation for the tradition's roots is that the ritual is based in the gospels' story of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on Christ at His baptism.
   The most likely connection between the ritual and the Oracle's passage is that Christians at some time in the first few centuries AD were commemorating Theophany by releasing a dove and the Oracle recorded the ritual in terms of a ritual. That is, some Christians were releasing a dove at Theophany in the period when the Oracle was written, and so the Oracle's author wrote the passage to make it sound like an ancient prophecy predicting that Christians would perform the ritual. This is the most likely explanation because elsewhere the Christian Sibylline Oracles give Christian narratives like the story of Jesus' birth (eg. the Star of Bethlehem leading the magi in Book VIII) and like an overview of 1st century events related to the Church (eg. from Jesus' third day resurrection to the Roman looting of the Temple in Book I), but describe the events as if the Oracles were predicting the events before they occurred.
   The second most likely connection is that the Oracle described the ritual, and then since the Christian Sibylline Oracles were famous among early Christians, the Oracle's prediction served to motivate the Christians to perform the ritual. That is, in this second scenario, the Oracle's author made the prediction, and then Christians who wrote or read the Oracle decided to perform the ritual of releasing the dove.
   The least likely explanation is that there is no direct connection at all- that neither the Oracle's author was aware of any Christians releasing a dove, nor were Christians who read the Oracle motivated to do so.
   Regardless of which of these three explanations is correct, the lack of any recorded connection is to be expected. If the first explanation is correct and someone made up part of the famous Oracle to describe an already existing Christian ritual, the forger certainly would not have recorded in Church documents that he/she forged the passage to make it look like an ancient prediction. Alternately, if someone read the prophecy in the Oracle and the Oracle motivated him to start performing the predicted ritual, he would be unlikely to claim that the Oracle motivated him, since the Oracle presents itself as making a miraculous prophecy. If he gave a mundane explanation for his use of the ritual, it would show the prediction to just be a "self-fulfilling" prophecy, rather than such a miraculous one. This would be like Church leaders announcing in the 60's AD that they would help the Romans to destroy the Temple (which happened in 70 AD) in order for the prophecy of the destruction to be fulfilled. Such an announcement would deprive the prophecy of any seemingly miraculous qualities by instead turning it into an openly self-fulfilled prophecy. As a result of the strong unlikelihood of any recorded connection between the Oracle and the dove ritual, it would be impossible to definitively prove a direct intentional connection, even if there were one.

<<Did the 1st to 2nd Century Christian community baptize with full body immersion, pouring, sprinkling, or use all three methods?>>
I asked because in Book 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:..."
The Church in the period in question used immersion, pouring, and sprinkling. The Didache preferred immersion over pouring, and recommended the latter when immersion wasn't an option. Tertullian in c. 205 AD referred to immersion and "sprinkling" as both legitimate.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2020, 11:44:54 AM by rakovsky »
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

Offline rakovsky

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #290 on: February 07, 2020, 11:18:15 AM »

<<Why should the second half of Book VIII have been written a century after the first half as the Catholic Encyclopedia claims? Is the claim about the century-long difference based only on the supposition that the first part is from the 2nd century and Jewish, and that the second part is Christian and therefore must be written much later?>>
   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. 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." (SOURCE:
   J.J. Collins writes in Charlesworth's book The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha:
The date of verses 1-216 can be fixed with some precision. Verses 65-74 envisage the return of Nero before the death of that emperor in AD 180. Verses 148f. say that Rome will have completed 948 years before it is destroyed. Strictly speaking, that should point to a date of AD 195. However, given that this destruction of Rome is still in the future, and that Sibylline chronology is never exact, this statement is quite compatible with a date about AD 175.
   The latest possible date for the second half of the book is provided by Lactantius, who quotes extensively from the entire book. THere is no closer indication of date. Geffcken notes similarity of style throughout the book and suggests that there was no great lapse of time between the various parts.
   The Catholic Encyclopedia, quoting Milton Terry, a translator of an edition of the Sibylline Oracles, designates a few other books as coming from the 3rd century:
Some authors (Mendelssohn, Alexandre, Geffcken) describe Book VI...
   To answer the question, there are three reasons why the second half of Book VIII should have been written a century after the first half as the Catholic Encyclopedia suggested when it assigned the second half to the 3rd century:
   (1) The Catholic Encyclopedia supposed that the first half was Jewish and non-Christian, so a Christian work in the second half of the same Book would tend to come later and would come from a different author.
   (2) Catholic Encyclopedia dates two other works in the text, Book VI and Book XI to the 3rd century.
   (3) Lactantius quotes Book VIII, thereby giving the latest possible composition date as Charlesworth says, and Lactantius was born in 240 AD.
   Nonetheless, since Charlesworth's book, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, is a leading collection of research on the Pseudepigrapha, its observation that there is "no closer indication of date" is authoritative. I also agree with Geffcken's theory that since the style is the same through Book VIII, the whole of Book VIII was more likely written in the same period.
<<Does Book VIII identify the Star of Bethlehem as Christ in a non-incarnate form, or does it associate the Star with Christ?>>
Only the latter. Book VIII, Lines 600-650, includes this passage according to Collins' 21st Century translation:
In the last times he changed the earth and, coming late
   as a new light, he rose from the womb of the Virgin Mary.
   Coming from heaven, he put on a mortal form.

   First, then Gabriel was revealed in his strong and holy person.
   Second, the archangel also addressed the maiden in speech:
   "Receive God, Virgin, in your immaculate bosom."
   The heavenly throne laughed and the world rejoiced.
   A wondrous, new-shining star was venerated by Magi.
   The newborn child was revealed in a manger to those who obey God:
   cowherds and goatherds and shepherds of sheep.
   In Collins' translation, which is generally more precise than M. Terry's 19th Century translation, the light that is Christ clearly does not rise from the Virgin's womb to heaven and come down again in mortal form. I had been led to consider the concept of Christ's light rising from the womb into the heavens to be a possible interpretation from reading Terry's translation, which has:
And coming late from the virgin Mary's womb
   A new light rose, and going forth from heaven
   Put on a mortal form.
   Terry tried to make his translation match the poetic rhythm of pentameter, which could have played a role in making his translation less clear and precise in meaning.
   Regardless, there is certainly a close association between Christ and the star in the Oracle's story, since the wondrous star was venerated by the Magi and then the baby was revealed to those obedient to God.

<<Is the fourth power responsible for killing Christ the Jewish people in the courtyard in front of Pilate?>>
No, because the "royal powers" in the passage refer to kingdoms, and most likely to the four kingdoms of Daniel's prophecy.
   In Book VIII of the Christian Sibyllines, oracle says:
Milton Terry's translation
   And first then openly unto his own
   Shall he as Lord in flesh be visible,
   As he before was, and in hands and feet
   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.
Collins translates the last sentence as: "For so many kingdoms of the world will accomplish the unlawful blameworthy action as our archetype."
   Grammatically, this likely means that "so many" - ie. the same number of (four) - royal powers as the four cardinal directions consummated/accomplished Christ's killing. The context of the passage's emphasis on fourness - the four wounds and the four cardinal directions goes along with this interpretation. Less likely is the interpretation that Christ had four wounds denoting the four directions for "so many" - in the sense of "very many" - powers consummated the killing.
   In Book VIII of the Oracle, it sounds like "royal powers" mean kingdoms or states, as it says earlier:
M. Terry"s translation:
   From the time When the great tower fell and the tongues of men
   Were parted into many languages
   Of mortals, first was Egypt's royal power
   Established, that of Persians and of Medes
   And also of the Ethiopians
   And of Assyria and Babylon,
   Then the great pride of boasting Macedon,
   Then, fifth, the famous lawless kingdom last
   Of the Italians shall show many evils...
   The term "consummate" (etymologically meaning "summed up together") can mean fulfill, complete, finish, whereas "accomplish" means to bring about by effort, bring to completion, or fulfill. For instance, in Book XII (Terry's translation), the Oracle says: "And then Rome shall be bereft And shall repay all things, which she alone Before accomplished by her many wars." The underlined phrase in Book XII might not mean just the actions that Rome directly performed, like invading Judea, but the results of Rome's wars. So in Book VIII, the phrase "For so many kingdoms of the world will accomplish/consummate the unlawful action" could mean that the kingdoms directly perform the action, or that they somehow cause/fulfill/lead to the action. Normally, if the kingdoms directly performed the action, one might expect the prophecy to use direct terms like "perform the action", "enact the deed", "carry out the act." So one reason why the oracle might use the term accomplish/consummate instead of a more direct term like "perform" is that in prophecies, conditions or events that occur in order to bring about a prophesied result. The oracle could mean that the kingdoms will serve as conditions or events that complete/fulfill/bring about the unlawful action of Christ's killing, not that they will knowingly perform it.
   The oracle most likely refers to the four kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome) that led up to the time of the Messiah in Daniel 2 (in which the Messiah is called "a stone... cut out without hands") for several reasons:
   1. As shown by the use of the term in the beginning of Book VIII, "Royal Powers"/"Kingdoms" refers to states led by royal kings, and not to particular ethnicities, leaders, or kings.
   2. Earlier in Book VIII, the oracle listed several "royal powers" that included the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Babylonians, the four kingdoms of Daniel 2's prophecy. Like Terry's translation of the beginning of Book VIII, Collins' translation also lists Egypt as the first kingdom and Rome as the fifth, with Macedon (the Greek power) apparently being the fourth.
   3. The prophecy of the four kingdoms of Daniel 2 was well known.
   4. In Daniel 2's prophecy, the four kingdoms serve as events or conditions that lead up to the Messiah, which match the four powers' "consummating" Christ's killing.
   5. Daniel's 4 kingdoms were depicted as the world's major kingdoms leading up to the Messiah, whereas the Oracle describes its 4 royal powers as those "of the world", which fits the context of Christ's 4 wounds denoting the world's 4 cardinal directions.
   6. Alternative interpretations don't work well, such as those below:
      (A) The Jewish kingdom under Herod and Rome's power under the Roman emperor and Pilate could be two kingdoms that accomplished the Messiah's killing, but the other kingdoms that would have participated are hard to ascertain. The Syrians and Greeks had kings, but they were not especially involved in Jesus' killing, except maybe very indirectly, like if there were Syrians and Greeks in His audiences who rejected him when He preached.
      (B) The Book of Relevation refers to four apocalyptic enemies of Christians: the dragon, the two beasts (false prophet and AntiChrist), and the harlot/"Babylon"/pagan Rome. But the Sibylline Oracle is talking about 4 earthly royal powers like the actual Babylon, not some false spiritual authority like the false prophet of the Apocalypse. Besides, the Apocalypse's reference to those four figures belonged to events that were to come after Christ's killing.

<<Does Book VIII, Lines 650-670, oppose the Old Testament sacrifices of animals, which were part of the Day of Atonement in Judaism? Or does Book VIII.650-670 only oppose sacrificing animals as part of certain banned pagan rituals?>>
It only opposes the latter, because the passage's context was a set of prohibitions against pagan idolatry, because it specifically bans blood "libations" and "burnt offerings," Judaism and the Torah already banned blood libations, and the text was very likely written after the cessation of burnt offerings in Judaism due to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
     J.J. Collins translates Lines 650-663 of the Christian Sibylline Oracles as:
We are never to approach the sanctuaries of temples
   nor to pour libations to statues nor to honor them with prayers,
   nor with delightful scents of flowers
   nor with gleams of lamps,
   nor even to embellish them with offerings,
   nor with breaths of incense sending up a flame on altars
   nor with libations from the sacrifice of bulls, rejoicing in gore, to send blood from the slaughter of sheep as propitiatory offerings for earthly penalty;
   nor to defile the light of the sky with smoke from burnt offerings and polluted breezes from a fire that burns flesh.
   "Libations from the sacrifices of bulls" must refer to pagan sacrifices, since the Torah bans blood libations/drinks. The statement about sheep's blood must be forbidding sending blood from sheep slaughter as an atonement offering with bulls' blood libations.
   The plain meaning of the underlined sentence in the passage is a ban on burnt offerings and quite smokey, flesh-burning fires. The Old Testament sacrifices did involve burnt offerings at Jerusalem's Temple. However, Collins' section about Book VIII's dating suggests that it was written in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, well after the Temple's destruction.
   In post-Temple Judaism, the burnt offering, the Olah, was discontinued. A practical reason for this was that the Olah was performed on the altar in Jerusalem's Temple. In his book The End of Days, Gershom Gorenberg writes that the rabbinical leader Ben Zakkai ruled that whereas the ram's horn could be blown on Rosh Hashanah outside the Temple,
He did not say the same of sacrifices. His successors instituted prayers that took the place of burnt offerings, in part by praying for the Temple's restoration.
At the time when the Oracle was written, burnt offerings were just done by pagans. So it is practically directed at banning pagan burnt offerings.
   The Christian author certainly doesn't mean that back in the Old Testament period when the Oracle purports to be written that even the Jews were not supposed to burn offerings. One reason to believe that the author would not have rejected the Temple's burnt offerings is that the author does not reject sacrifices per se. Book VIII, Lines 332-335, suggests that God can find "perishable sacrifices" acceptable when they are accompanied by intelligent hymns:
Honor him and keep him in your heart and love him from your soul and bear his name. Set aside the former [customs ~Charlesworth] and wash from his blood, for he is not propitiated by your laments or prayers. Since he is imperishable he pays no attention to perishable sacrifices except when intelligent mouths bring forth a hymn.
   This brings resembles the rationale about sacrifice in the end of Psalm 51:
16. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
   17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
   18. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
   19. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
   Verse 16 of Psalm 51 suggests that God doesn't want burnt offerings, but then verse 19 clears up the issue by saying that God will be pleased with burnt offerings once the sacrificers are contrite.
   So based on Lines 332-335, God can find with perishable sacrifices acceptable when the intelligent mouths sing a hymn. So perishable sacrifices per se are not necessarily forbidden in Book VIII.

<<Does Book XII's portrayal of the Star of Bethlehem as if it were like the sun and shining in mid-day sound accurate and in line with Tradition?>>
St. John Chrysostom commented that “it appears not in the night, but in mid-day”. (John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew)
CHRISTIAN SIBYLLINES: I find William Deane's comments about the writer's description of the Cross remarkable. Commenting on Book VIII, Deane writes:
In the account of the great consummation, we are told... Fire shall destroy earth, sea, and sky, and the gates of hell itself, and shall convict the unrighteous of guilt; sun, moon, and stars shall fail, and the heavens shall be rolled up; hill and valley shall be levelled, rivers shall be dried, and the voice of the trumpet shall summon all to judgment. The Cross shall be seen in the sky. The closing lines of the acrostic concerning the Cross are remarkable. It is called the sign, the notable seal for all men, expressions which recall our Lord's words in Matt. xxiv.30: "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven," and St. Paul's in 2 Cor. i.22 and Eph.1.13, where he speaks of believers being "sealed," though not with the Cross, nor with the sign of the Cross (as some Roman Catholic expositors take it), but with the Holy Spirit. Further, it is named "the much-desired horn," which seems to be an interpretation of the phrase "horn of David" in Ps. cxxxi.17 and Luke i.69; and it is said to be "the life of the pious, but an offence to the, world," in agreement with the language of St. Paul (Gal. v.11), where he speaks of "the offence of the Cross." Then follows a curious verse, "which enlighteneth the elect with water by twelve springs." This is explained to refer to the mission of the twelve apostles, which, as it were, originated from the Cross; but the writer seems to insinuate that the office of baptizing was committed to the twelve apostles alone, and presumably to their successors, -- an opinion which he repeats again below (ver.271), and which was not common in any section of the Church. He ends by terming the Cross "the rod of iron which tends and rules the flock," expressions which may come from Ps. ii.9 or Rev. ii.27. It is interesting to find this adaptation of scriptural figures to the Cross at this early age; later, of course, nothing is more common. ... In Christ's hands extended on the cross the writer recognises the comprehension of the whole world in the benefits of the Passion; in the wounds in His hands and feet he finds a representation of the four quarters of the globe as being concerned in His death.
   William Deane comments about Lines 533-545 (below) that the Oracle's author teaches vegetarianism because the author "makes [God], in commanding men to show charity to their fellows, direct that they feed the hungry with vegetable food, "a table pure and of unbloody food," whence it is argued that the author belonged to the Therapeutæ, one of whose distinguishing peculiarities was abstention from animal diet." (
Man is my image, having upright reason. For him a table pure and without blood Make ready and with good things fill it up, And give the hungry bread, the thirsty drink, And to the body that is naked clothes From thine own labors with unsullied hands Providing. Recreate the afflicted man, And help the weary, and provide for me The living One a living sacrifice Sowing piety, that also I to thee Sometime may give immortal fruits, and light Eternal thou shalt have and fadeless life When I shall prove all by fire.
   Charlesworth on the other hand connects this passage with Lev.17:10: "If anyone from the house of Israel or foreigner living among them eats any blood, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from among his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make an atonement for your souls upon the altar, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement." Charlesworth's interpretation makes sense because the Sibyl previously criticized pagan worship practices, including blood libations.
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 #291 on: February 15, 2020, 04:16:06 PM »
Below I am posting notes and answers for questions that I asked on this thread about Gnostic writings.


<<NOTE: The meaning of "poverty">>
I think that it refers to spiritual "poverty" or a lack of the Gnostics' spiritual knowledge/gnosis. In the Sophia of Jesus Christ (SJC), the Savior says that he who appeared before the universe planned that "through that Immortal Androgynous Man they might attain their salvation and awake from forgetfulness through the interpreter [ie. the Holy Spirit] who was sent, who is with you until the end of the poverty of the robbers." It refers to the created world as the "Creation of poverty", and "the bond of [the Son of Man's] forgetfulness bound him by the will of Sophia, that the matter might be <revealed> through it to the whole world in poverty, concerning his (Almighty's) arrogance and blindness and the ignorance that he was named." The Gospel of Thomas' Saying 3 also appears to connect "poverty" to a state of ignorance when it says, "But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

<<NOTE: The meaning of "the robbers">>
They refer to Archons or hostile ruling angels. According to Alexander Rivera in his essay, "Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World", in the Gnostic book "Exegesis of the Soul" ascribed to Simon Magus, the Archons are called "robbers". The Apocryphon of John, which precedes the SJC in Codex III of the Nag Hammadi Library, also refers to the archons as "the robbers" when it says that the archons
brought him (Adam) into the shadow of death,in order that they might form (him) again from earth and water and fire and the spirit whichoriginates in matter, which is the ignorance of darkness and desire, and their counterfeit spirit.This is the tomb of the newly-formed body with which the robbers had clothed the man, the bondof forgetfulness; and he became a mortal man.

<<What does the underlined statement mean?: "Now I have taught you about Immortal Man and have loosed the bonds of the robbers from him. I have broken the gates of the pitiless ones in their presence. I have humiliated their malicious intent, and they all have been shamed and have risen from their ignorance." Is this referring to Jesus' persecutors like the Sadduccees recognizing him?>>
It refers to the Gnostics' idea that the Savior loosed the Archons' ("robbers'") bonds from immortal man and that the Archons were ashamed and rose from their ignorance. By comparison, in the Ascension of Isaiah, Christ wasn't recognized by the hostile angels when He descended to earth, but they recognized and worshiped him when he ascended back up through the heavens.

<<What is the relationship in the text between the "Self-Perfected Mind" and Sophia, the female name for the "First Begetter, Son of God"?>>
The Gnostic idea seems to be that the "First Man" existed in some realm before he "reflected" and revealed his son. This is why it says: "First Man is called 'Begetter, Self-perfected Mind'. He reflected with Great Sophia, his consort, and revealed his first-begotten, androgynous son. His male name is designated 'First Begetter, Son of God', his female name, 'First Begettress Sophia, Mother of the Universe'." (So: First Man= Begetter, Self-Perfected Mind ; First Man's consort = Sophia ; First-begotten, androgynous Son = 'First Begetter, Son of God' = 'First Begettress Sophia, Mother of the Universe' = Christ ) Next, Christ came from heaven into the world this way: "Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous light", who is 'Savior, Begetter of All Things' and who is also 'All-Begettress Sophia', AKA "Pistis" (meaning "Faith").

<<What does the underlined sentence in this passage from The Sophia of Jesus Christ mean?>>
I asked about the following passage from The Sophia of Jesus Christ, which is in Nag Hammadi Codex III, Book 4:
Douglas Parrot's translation:
   When it ["a drop from Light and Spirit"] became hot from the breath of the Great Light of the Male, and it took thought, (then) names were received by all who are in the world of chaos, and all things that are in it through that Immortal One, when the breath blew into him. But when this came about by the will of Mother Sophia - so that Immortal Man might piece together the garments there for a judgment on the robbers - <he> then welcomed the blowing of that breath; but since he was soul-like, he was not able to take that power for himself until the number of chaos should be complete, (that is,) when the time determined by the great angel is complete.

   A. Moma's translation from Coptic into Russian (per my translation into English):
   But when all this occurred by the will of Mother Sophia - so that Immortal Man could gather together Garments for the condemnation of the robbers - then he summoned the Blowing of this Breath, but from the time that he became soul-like, he was not able to take to himself this Power until so long as the Number of Chaos will not be fulfilled, that is, as long as the time set out by the Great Angel will not be fulfilled.
The short answer is that the sentence refers to the End Times and means that the Savior wasn't able to take for himself the power to resurrect all the dead until the time of the great angel is complete. The blowing of the breath refers to the giving of life, like in God breathing life into man in Genesis. Piecing together the garments refers to assembling bodies for beings to live in, because "garments" in early Christian thought could refer to bodies.

   "This" or "All this" (per Parrot's and Moma's translations, respectively) in "when this[or 'all this'] came about" refers to the event in which "names were received by all who are in the world of chaos, and all things that are in it through that Immortal One, when the breath blew into him." Sophia in Gnosticism is associated with the Holy Spirit, the Greek word for Spirit ("pneuma") also means breeze/wind, and the text says that "This came about by the will of Mother Sophia". It would make sense that this blowing of the breath would come about by the will of the Holy Spirit ("Agio Pneuma" in Greek). It makes sense that the blowing of breath into the Savior, as well as the giving of names to everyone and everything, could lead up to the Savior making bodies for beings. In the "Hypostasis of the Archons", "the Spirit" saw the newly-created "soul-endowed" Adam and give him his name ("Adam"), whereupon Adam gave names to the world's animals. Hence naming can be willed by the Spirit, as it was in the case of Adam.
   "Mother Sophia" is divine Wisdom, whom the text says is "the Mother of the Universe and the consort" of Immortal Androgynous Man.
   "Immortal Man" is the Savior, since the Savior says,
From now on, I am the Great Savior. For he is immortal and eternal... I want you to know that he who appeared before the universe in infinity, when he decided to have his likeness become a great power, immediately the principle (or beginning) of that Light appeared as Immortal Androgynous Man, that through that Immortal Androgynous Man they might attain their salvation... And his consort is the Great Sophia...
Also, the Savior said, "Thus the aeons were completed quickly in the heavens and the firmaments in the glory of Immortal Man and Sophia, his consort..."
   "Garments" are the body in which the soul is "clothed". In the material world, it is clothed in a body of material flesh. So for instance in the Apocryphon of John, after Adam received breath/pneuma, Archon angels
brought him (Adam) into the shadow of death, in order that they might form (him) again from earth and water and fire and the spirit which originates in matter, which is the ignorance of darkness and desire, and their counterfeit spirit. This is the tomb of the newly-formed body with which the robbers had clothed the man, the bond of forgetfulness; and he became a mortal man.
   Wisse's Translation,
   In other words, in the Apocryphon of John, the Archon angels ("robbers") "clothed" Adam with a newly-formed body when the Archons threw him into the "lowest region of all matter."
   "There" in the phrase "piece together the garments there" refers to "the world of chaos." In the passage from "Sophia of Jesus Christ", everyone and everything in the world of chaos received names when the breath blew into Immortal Man.
   "The Robbers" are "the angels and demons" who made Adam's "natural body" and clothed him with a material, earthly body" in the Apocryphon of John. In The Reception of Luke and Acts in the Period Before Irenaeus, Andrew Gregory writes that the "robbers" apparently refers "to those who imprison the soul in its corporeal existence". In the Sophia of Jesus Christ, "the interpreter who was sent", through whom a multitude of self-begotten ones "might attain their salvation and awake from forgetfulness", "is with you until the end of the poverty of the robbers." Later in this text, the Savior refers to the robbers again, saying, "I came from the places above by the will of the great Light, (I) who escaped from that bond; I have cut off the work of the robbers".
   "Breath" refers to a life-giving power, as in the phrase "everything that has breath" (Psalm 150:6). Breath in Greek (psyche) also means "soul", and in Genesis, God "breathed" into Adam to make him a "living being" or a "living soul" ("Le-nephesh hayyah" in Hebrew). In the Sophia of Jesus Christ, "a drop from Light and Spirit" "revealed their molded forms through the breath, as a living soul." "The breath" is "That breath", "the breath of the Great Light of the Male", and the breath that made the drop from Light and Spirit hot.  "The breath blew into" the "Immortal One", who "welcomed the blowing of that breath".
   "Soul-like"/"Psychical" is the status of the Savior/Immortal Man, into whom the breath blew. The Greek word for breath, "psyche", also means "soul," and in Genesis, God breathed into Adam to make him a "living soul."
   "That power" refers to the Immortal Man's power to piece together "garments" (bodies), because:
   (1) In New Testament eschatology, Christ returns at the Second Coming and the faithful get heavenly bodies. By comparison, according to Gnosticism, the Savior brings illumination to the initiates and the illumined Gnostics will attain bodies of light and ascend to higher aeons. (Entry on "Garments", "A Glossary of Gnostic Terms: G - L",
   (2) The overall meaning of the sentence in question is: Everyone received names and breath blew into the Savior so that the Savior could piece together the garments, and he summoned the blowing, but wasn't able to acquire that power until the number of chaos was complete. The Savior's goal is piecing together bodies of light. So in this context, the power that the Savior is intended to use is the power to piece them together.
   (3) In the NT, Jesus did resurrect Lazarus, which would involve him breathing again, but Jesus isn't recorded as giving anyone a heavenly body like people would have after the resurrection. Like "that power" in the Sophia of Jesus Christ, the attainment of heavenly bodies was an Eschatological event.
   (4) "Sophia of Jesus Christ" ends with the Savior declaring, "I have given you authority over all things as Sons of Light, that you might tread upon their power with your feet." Here the Savior refers to the "power" of the "Arch-Begetter's"/Demiurge's angels who created Adam's earthly material body. The Savior's declaration beings to mind the Patristic-era baptismal ritual of the newly baptized Christians stepping on their clothes. It also recalls the Gospel of Thomas' Saying #37, which refers to believers beholding Christ and trampling their "garments" (physical bodies):
His disciples said, "When will you be shown forth to us and when shall we behold you?"
   Jesus said, "When you strip naked without being ashamed, and take your garments and put them under your feet like little children and tread upon them, then [you] will see the child of the living.
   (5) While "That power" could also rationally refer to the power of blowing breath, this interpretation would not fit the context for two reasons:
      (A) Gnostics were still alive and having breath in the period in question, ie. before the end of the world or time determined by the Great Angel. So the Savior's goal would not be to give them breath, but rather to give them light bodies to ascend to the higher aeons.
      (B) The passage says that "since he was soul-like/psychical, he was not able to take that power for himself". The term "psychical" shares meanings with both soul and breath, and the breath blew into the Savior, so it makes less sense that his being "psychical" would prevent him from taking the power of blowing breath. If he received breath and became a living soul, it does not make much sense why his having breath and being a living soul would be the reason that he could not yet blow breath.
      (C) The text says that he summoned breath, so grammatically, "that power" that he couldn't acquire would not be the power to blow breath, but rather to summon breath. And the text just said that he summoned/welcomed breath, so certainly this summoning is not the power that he lacked.
   "Chaos" is the realm in which the material world exists. In Rabbinical Judaism, the rabbis taught that God created the world ex-nihilo (out of nothing), whereas according to Gnosticism, God formed the world out of Chaos.
   "The Number of Chaos" must refer to the amount of which Chaos is composed, or the time for which the Chaos is to last. The sentence explains that the number of Chaos means the "time" determined by the Great Angel, so the number can be an amount of time. Further, "The Sophia of Jesus Christ" refers to the limit for all who appear in Immortal Man to exercise their desire, saying:
Now Immortal Man revealed aeons and powers and kingdoms, and gave authority to all who appear in him, that they might exercise their desires until the last things that are above chaos.  For these consented with each other and revealed every magnificence, even from spirit, multitudinous lights that are glorious and without number. These were called in the beginning, that is, the first aeon and <the second> and <the third>. The first <is> called 'Unity and Rest'. Each one has its (own) name; for the <third> aeon was designated 'Assembly' from the great multitude that appeared: in one, a multitude revealed themselves. Now because the multitudes gather and come to a unity we call them 'Assembly of the Eighth.'
   A similar term, the "sum of chaos" shows up in another Nag Hammadi text, The "Hypostasis of the Archons":
Now when Yaldabaoth saw him (Sabaoth) in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy. And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes. But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being – after the pattern of all the things above – so that the sum of chaos might be attained.
The "father of the entirety" refers to the supreme Gnostic God, rather than to the Demiurge, because earlier in "The Hypostasis of the Archons", the Demiurge Yaldabaoth/Sakla said,
"It is I who am god of the entirety." And Zoe (Life), the daughter of Pistis Sophia, cried out and said to him, "You are mistaken, Sakla!"
So on one hand in the "Sophia of Jesus Christ", Immortal Man revealed aeons and "gave authority to all who appear in him, that they might exercise their desires until the last things that are above chaos", whereupon the text numbers aeons and gives a number to the Assembly of the multitude, calling it the "Assembly of the Eighth." And by comparison, in the Hypostasis of the Archons, the Father of the Entirety willed that the offspring of death who filled the heavens of chaos came into being, after the pattern of things above, in order to achieve the "sum of chaos."
   "The Great Angel" refers to God (and more likely God the Father than the Savior) because:
   (1) The opening says that the resurrected Savior's "likeness resembles a great angel of light." Moma translates this as: "his Image recalled a/the Great Angel of Light." This is the only other time that the term "great angel" is used. If his "likeness" resembles or "is like" a great angel, it follows that he himself could be a great angel (ie. a great angel's likeness would be like a great angel). Further, in Christianity, the Savior resembles His Father's likeness. In Genesis 1, God said, "Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness". In John 12:45, Jesus said, "And whoever sees Me sees the One who sent Me." Colossians 1:15 says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation."
   (2) Saying that the Savior's likeness "resembles" a "great angel" does not necessarily imply that he was not a "great angel." In a common Christian reading of the Book of Daniel, "One like unto a Son of Man" (Daniel 7:13) actually is the Messianic "Son of Man".
   (3) In Christianity, Christ the Word of God is considered both God and an angel. The terms "God" and "angel" are not in conflict. For instance, in Genesis 16:10-13, the "Angel of the Lord" is also "the Lord."
   (4) The Savior calls himself "the Great Savior" twice in the text, and his consort is called "Great Sophia".
   (5) In the beginning of the text, Immortal Man/the Savior gave authority to those who appear in him to exercise it for a limited time "until the things that are above chaos". This bears some resemblance to the role of the "Great Angel" who determines the time limit that serves as "the number of Chaos", since both figures set an eschatological time limit- either for the authority of the things above chaos or for the "number of Chaos." In the "Hypostasis of the Archons", death's offspring came into being "after the pattern of all the things above", and this symmetry between the two realms suggests that in the "Sophia of Jesus Christ", the number for limiting the aeons above the chaos is also the number for the chaos.
   (6) In the "Hypostasis of the Archons", the "Father of the Entirety" wills that the offspring of death, having "each of them charge of its heaven", came into being to attain the "sum of Chaos." The Great Angel has a similar role in "The Sophia of Jesus Christ" by setting a time for completing the "number of Chaos." In "The Hypostasis of the Archons", the "rulers" (Archon angels) molded Adam from earth, and God breathed life into Adam, and " all these things came to pass by the will of the father of the entirety." This could recall the ultimate, fatherly role of "God the Father" over everything or the creative role of God's Son, who is the Pantocrator ("Creator of Everything") in Christianity.
   (7) After predicting the events of the end of the world in Matthew 24, Jesus comments, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." This suggests that it is God the Father who alone knews the time for the end of the world. In turn, this suggests that it is God the Father who is the "Great Angel" who determined the time limit that is the number of Chaos in the "Sophia of Jesus Christ."

   So I take the main question's sentence from "The Sophia of Jesus Christ" to mean that: Mother Sophia/Wisdom successfully willed the breath of life to blow into the Savior/Immortal One, and for everyone and everything in the Chaos/created world to receive names. She did this so that the Savior could make bodies of light for people as a judgment against the angels and demons who put Adam into an earthly, physical body. When the breath of life blew into the Savior and everyone and everything received names, the Savior welcomed/summoned the breath's blowing. But since the Savior was soul-like/psychical, he couldn't get the power to make heavenly light bodies until the time limit for the created world was completed, ie. until the time that God had set for the created world was fulfilled.

<<Is Sophia/Wisdom a feminine Spirit? If so, what is her relationship to Christ?>>
   "Sophia" and "Chokhmah" are the Greek and Hebrew terms for Wisdom, respectively, and are both grammatically feminine words. Wisdom/Sophia is not necessarily inherently female as a being, however, since sometimes Wisdom is identified as Christ in the New Testament. Further, sometimes animals or concepts that are male are expressed in feminine terms grammatically. In Russian, a dog of unspecified gender is "sobaka", which is feminine. In Arabic, "Caliph" (خليفة: "ḵalīfe") is feminine, even though the Caliphs were men. The Wikipedia article on Modern Hebrew grammar notes that in Hebrew, סֵפֶר /ˈsefer/ (book) is masculine, while דֶּלֶת /ˈdelet/ (door) is feminine. Further, "There is a very strong tendency toward natural gender for nouns referring to people and some animals." However, being a tendency, the use of the Hebrew feminine form for a noun is not a full proof that the noun is female.
   Exodus 28:3 refers to the "spirit of Wisdom" ("And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom".) In Proverbs 8:1-4,22-25, Solomon describes wisdom as speaking and as saying that the Lord possessed her before the creation of the earth. Chapter 1 of the Wisdom of Solomon identifies Wisdom as a Spirit:
4. ...wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.
   5. For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.
   6. For wisdom is a kindly spirit and will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words;
   In the New Testament, Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, which dwelt in Him and descended on Him at His baptism, and He sent the Holy Spirit onto the apostles.
   1 Corinthians 1:23-24 identifies Christ as the Wisdom of God: "But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." In The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, Bruce K. Waltke writes: “Beginning at least as early as the apologist Justin Martyr (A.D. 125), Christians, almost without exception, identified Sophia (the Greek equivalent of Heb. ḥoḵmâ) in Proverbs 8 with Jesus Christ.”
   On the other hand, sometimes Wisdom is distinguishable from Christ the Word. In patristics, the Holy Spirit is sometimes identified as Wisdom. Biblically, the Holy Spirit can impart Wisdom as a gift, which distinguishes the Holy Spirit and Wisdom from Christ. This is because Christ sends the Holy Spirit and Christ also imparts Wisdom. Wikipedia's article on "Sophia (Wisdom)" notes:
Following 1 Corinthians, the Church Fathers named Christ as "Wisdom of God"... Irenaeus represents another, minor patristic tradition which identified the Spirit of God, and not Christ himself, as "Wisdom" (Adversus haereses, 4.20.1–3; cf. 3.24.2; 4.7.3; 4.20.3). He could appeal to Paul's teaching about wisdom being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8).
   St. Irenaeus wrote:
Now this God is glorified by his Word who is his Son continually, and by the Holy Spirit who is the Wisdom of the Father of all: and the host of these, of the Word and Wisdom, which are called cherubim and seraphim, with unceasing voices glorify God; and every created thing that is in the heavens offers glory to God the Father of all.
   The website for St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Modesto, CA, notes:
   The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. ... (CCC, 1831)
   The Catholic Church derives this information on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit from scripture: The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. ... (Isaiah 11:2-4)
   One explanation of how Wisdom/Sophia can sometimes be identified as Christ and other times identified as the Holy Spirit is that Wisdom is an attribute of God or a manifestation of divine energy, comparable to strength, counsel, understanding, etc. This is reflected in Isaiah 11's declaration that such "spirits" will rest on the Messiah, particularly "The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2-4)" So at different times, God's Logos or His Holy Spirit, can each appear as something wise, and thus each can can be identifiable at times as "Wisdom"/"Sophia".
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 04:30:01 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 #292 on: February 16, 2020, 01:58:12 PM »

<<NOTE: The Coptic Apocalypse of Peter / Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter must be from 140-333 AD>>
This is because it alludes to the Shepherd of Hermas as being a forgery, and the Muratorian fragment dates the latter to 140-155 AD, and because Nag Hammadi Codex VII with this Apocalypse is marked with a date of 333.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 01:58:54 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

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Re: 1st century Gnostic Christian, Judaic, and Pagan writings about Christianity
« Reply #293 on: February 17, 2020, 09:07:00 PM »

<<How do you explain the narrator's riddle that she is "godless"/"without God", "the one whose God is great", and is "the one who alone exists"?>>
   In the text, the narrator describes herself, saying:
Macrae's translation
   I am she who does not keep festival,
   and I am she whose festivals are many.
   I, I am godless,
   and I am the one whose God is great.
   I am the one whom you have reflected upon,
   and you have scorned me.
   I, I am sinless,
   and the root of sin derives from me.
   I am lust in (outward) appearance,
   and interior self-control exists within me.
   For I am the one who alone exists,
   and I have no one who will judge me.
   For many are the pleasant forms which exist in numerous sins,
   and incontinencies,
   and disgraceful passions,
   and fleeting pleasures,
   which (men) embrace until they become sober
   and go up to their resting place.
   And they will find me there,
   and they will live,
   and they will not die again.

   Taussig translates the first stanza above as:
   I am she who does not celebrate festivals And I am she whose festivals are spectacular.
   I, I am without God and I am she whose God is magnificent.
   I am he the one you thought about and you detested me
   I am not learned, and they learn from me
   The answer must be that the speaker, Sophia, is God, and thus does not have a separate God for worship, making her in a sense godless. Meanwhile, her God is great or magnificant, since her God, to which she belongs or with which she identifies, is the great, one true God. As identified with the one true, ultimate God, she is the one being who alone exists.
   Sophia's identification with God is reflected in Paul's declaration that Christ-God is God's Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
   The surrounding statements in the first stanza above explains this riddle better. God is not a human celebrant of festivals, yet God's festivals are spectacular.
   As God, she is without a higher god, thus being in a sense godless. Isaiah 45:5 says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me." In Exodus 20, God says, "You shall have no other gods before/above/over Me."
   People think about God/Sophia, but there are people who detest God and Sophia/Wisdom. This goes back to an earlier stanza in Thunder of the Perfect Mind that runs:
I am the first and the last
   I am she who is honored and she who is mocked
   Also, Sophia, being God, has not "learned", but rather people learn from Her.
   The declaration that she, Sophia, alone exists can be explained in light of Paul's declaration, while writing about Christians in Colossians 3:11, that "Christ is all and is in all." Further, Paul declares in Colossians 1:17 that Christ "is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  All things came from God and God is everywhere.
   H. Taussig writes in The Thunder: Perfect Mind: A New Translation and Introduction:
Column 21 picks up on terms, images, and themes that appear in columns 13-20, but handles them very differently, giving a different sense of style and ideology. Continued language and themes include the emphasis on the "name" (14;21); theology mixed with ontology, or "god" and "being" (16,24-25; 18,27-28; 21,19-20); sin (19, 15-17; 21,20-23); and judgment (19;20;21). Although there are these thematic similarities, column 21 handles them very differently than their earlier appearances. Stylistically, while each term in the earlier portions was paired paradoxically, there is no paradoxical speech in column 21, indicating a stylistic seem. The terminology turns monistic and ascetic, showing an ideological shift.
   Compare, for example, how theology and ontology are handled before column 21 and in column 21. Earlier, statements of being were balanced with nonbeing, "I am being/I am she who is nothing (18), while statements of God were equally negated, "I myself am without God/And my God is great (16,24-25). The paradox of being "being" and "nothing" and being "without God" and with a "God" who is "great" finds no such parallel in the handling of being and God in column 21: "I am he who alone exists" (21,19-20). The juxtaposition of being and nonbeing, of being with and without God, have instead become a highly monistic, perhaps monotheistic, statement [of the narrator being the] only one existing. This passage shifts from bewildering paradoxes to outright statements that recall Exod. 3.14: "I am who I am" or, as translated in the Greek and Coptic Bibles, "I am being."
   So "I am he who alone exists" is the author's way of returning to the ideas earlier in the text about being and nonbeing, being godless and having a great God.
   Macrae's translation has "For I am the one who alone exists and I have no one who will judge me", which Taussig's translation puts as "I am he who exists alone And no one will judge me". Taussig notes that the Coptic text literally says "he" in this verse, and they take this to be an example of the author's "gender-bending" (Notes for Chapter 5,
   In The Oxford Handbook of New Testament, Gender, and Sexuality, Benjamin H. Dunning comments:
When the speaker exhorts her hearers to "give heed... For I am the one who alone exists"(21), Thunder introduces a strikingly new perspective that serves both to solve and to dis-solve the mystery of the speaker's identity. The "one" who speaks in Thunder, these closing lines suggest, is the unity that encompasses all duality and multiplicitly.
   The stanza's declaration "no one will judge me" here brings to mind Psalm 75:7: "But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another." And James 4:12: "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?"

<<How do you explain the narrator's riddle that she is sinless, but that the root of sin comes from her?>>
Sophia/Wisdom is sinless in that she is divine and the Wisdom of God. The root of sin is lust or covetousness, and it derives from her per the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, wherein the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was "a tree to be desired to make one wise". (Gen. 3:6)
   The narrator associates the "root of sin" with lust by mentioning them next to each other: "I am sinless, and the root of sin derives from me. I am lust in (outward) appearance, and interior self-control exists within me." By treating these declarations as a chiastic structure wherein the first statement relates to the last, and the second relates to the second-to-last (A B B' A'), one can see that Sophia's sinlessness relates to her inward self-control and that the "root of sin" relates to her lustful outward appearance.
   When the narrator later brings up the topic of sin, she again associates sin with "incontinencies", "disgraceful passions," and "fleeting pleasures." It follows that if sin is a form of disgraceful passions or fleeting pleasure, then desire for these sins or disgraceful passions could be a "root" of those sins. This is because the desire for those sinful actions could be a root of those sinful actions' occurrence. When she says that men embrace the pleasant forms that are in the sins until they become sober, her statement implies that the men's lust for those pleasant forms are a root for those sins. ie. Since the men embrace the forms that are in sin until the men become sober, they are acting in a non-sober state and their embrace is rooted in a lustful desire to embrace those forms.
   Since "interior self-control exists within" Sophia, it makes sense that when the men become sober and leave their state of passion that they can find her.
   In the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," whose fruit was forbidden. "Knowledge", an attribute of the forbidden tree, gives people Wisdom, and so the "fruit" (product/result) of that particular "Knowledge tree" would be a form of wisdom. Hence the desire for its fruit would be a desire for a form of wisdom. Genesis 3 reflects this explanation:
4. Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.
   Hence in the story, the desire for a form of wisdom was the root of Adam and Eve's sin of eating the forbidden fruit.
   Lust means passionate desire in a broad sense, but it often connotes a passionate desire to have sex. In the Apocryphon of John, another of the Nag Hammadi texts, lust, desire, "a wicked desire to sow which belongs to destruction," or "sexual desire" (depending on the version and translation) is one of the three main forms of wickedness that the serpent gets Adam to eat:
Wisse's 1995 translation of the Apocryphon's "long" version in Codices II & IV:
   And I said to the Savior, "Lord, was it not the snake who taught Adam so that he would eat?" The Savior laughed and said, "The snake taught them to eat from a wicked desire to sow which belongs to destruction, in order that he (Adam) would become useful to it.
   Wisse's translation from Codex III:
   I said to him, "Christ, was it not the serpent who instructed her?" He laughed and said, "The serpent is the one who instructed her about the sowing of desire, pollution, and destruction because they are useful to it.
   Wisse's version made by combining the "long" and short" versions:
   And I said to the savior, "Lord, was it not the serpent that taught Adam to eat?" The savior smiled and said, "The serpent taught them to eat from wickedness of begetting, lust, (and) destruction, that he (Adam) might be useful to him.
   In James 1, lust is the origin of sin:
14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
   Further, Sophia/Wisdom participated in the creation of the material world, and people lust for things in the material world, which can lead to sin.
   In 1 Timothy 6, Paul calls covetousness, desire for material goods or riches, "the root of all evil" or of "all kinds of" it:
9. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10. For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
   Thomas Aquinas explained that covetousness can be considered a desire for fleeting good, and that all sin is at least in part rooted in a desire for fleeting good in his answer to "whether Covetousness Is the Root of All Sins?":
According to some, covetousness may be understood in different ways. First, as denoting inordinate desire for riches: and thus it is a special sin. Secondly, as denoting inordinate desire for any temporal good: and thus it is a genus comprising all sins, because every sin includes an inordinate turning to a mutable good, as stated above ([1853]Q[72], A[2]). Thirdly, as denoting an inclination of a corrupt nature to desire corruptible goods inordinately: and they say that in this sense covetousness is the root of all sins, comparing it to the root of a tree, which draws its sustenance from earth, just as every sin grows out of the love of temporal things.
   So based on the associations between sin and lust or passionate desires in Thunder - as well as how Biblical texts and perhaps the Apocryphon of John treat lust and covetousness, the narrator sees passionate desire for the pleasant forms that are in sins to be the "root of sin." The narrator also says that she has the outer appearance of lust. So the narrator's apparent meaning of how the "root of sin" derives from her (ie. from Wisdom) is that people's passionate desires for pleasurable forms derives from desire to know those forms, which grants a form of wisdom, as in the story of the Garden of Eden. The concept of gaining the knowledge of those pleasant or pleasurable forms is reflected in terms like "carnal/sexual knowledge" or knowing what it is to perform or experience a certain act or state.
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20