Philo's guide to decoding the Hebrew Bible

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Ishtar
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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:05 am

Iranaeus is only interesting because he is the first attested Literal Christian at 180 CE - that put together the NT canon of four gospels.

Gnostic Christians cannot be attested to 1 CE, but neither can Jesus Christ.

However, the Ebionites can be attested to before Iranaeus, because Iranaeus criticised these Gnostics in his Against Heresies, and their Gospel of the Ebionites. Therefore the Gnostic Christians and their gospel can be attested earlier than the Literalist Christians, or certainly earlier than the NT canon put together by Iranaeus which established the historiocity of Jesus.

Interesting, don't you think?

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:12 am

seeker wrote: Very likely these Messianists were lumped together (as I just did) without distinguishing all that much between what exact Messiah they believed in or exactly how they believed in that Messiah.
Yes, I can see that, in the grand scheme of things. But within the smaller subset of world religions that we are discussing here, I am intent in keeping each group in neat little boxes since their ideas were sufficiently diverse to make that possible. But when we blend the terms, things get confusing and it appears that one was the sect of another and that is not the case.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:25 am

Forum Monk wrote:
seeker wrote: Very likely these Messianists were lumped together (as I just did) without distinguishing all that much between what exact Messiah they believed in or exactly how they believed in that Messiah.
Yes, I can see that, in the grand scheme of things. But within the smaller subset of world religions that we are discussing here, I am intent in keeping each group in neat little boxes since their ideas were sufficiently diverse to make that possible. But when we blend the terms, things get confusing and it appears that one was the sect of another and that is not the case.
Min, have you still got that YouTube clip about the way men like to think in neat little boxes, and if so, could you kindly post it here?

First of all, it will give everyone a good laugh. But secondly, it will explain to Monk why the communications between him and me often misfire!

:lol:

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:27 am

Gnostic Christians cannot be attested to 1 CE, but neither can Jesus Christ.

But "Paul" in one of his so-called "authentic" letters describes an escape from Damascus which could only have happened in the first century BC? Now, how can that be...if its "authentic?"
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by rich » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:34 am

Min wrote:
Quote:
Gnostic Christians cannot be attested to 1 CE, but neither can Jesus Christ.



But "Paul" in one of his so-called "authentic" letters describes an escape from Damascus which could only have happened in the first century BC? Now, how can that be...if its "authentic?"
Hmmm - let me see - ah yes - I see now - 1 CE must mean the - - first century??? Dang - I thought it meant the year 1 :D :D
i'm not lookin' for who or what made the earth - just who got me dizzy by makin it spin

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:36 am

Minimalist wrote:
Gnostic Christians cannot be attested to 1 CE, but neither can Jesus Christ.

But "Paul" in one of his so-called "authentic" letters describes an escape from Damascus which could only have happened in the first century BC? Now, how can that be...if its "authentic?"
I don't follow you. Attesting Paul to first century BC does not attest the historiocity of JC to then, as Paul doesn't set him within the gospels stories.

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:42 am

"Paul" states that he escaped from Damascus and King Aretas in a basket.

But Aretas III, King of Nabataea, conquered Damascus c 84 BC and held it for 20 years. Aretas IV, King of Nabataea until 40AD never held Damascus which is far to the north of Nabataea and was part of what the Romans called "The Decapolis," an unofficial league of ten Hellenistic towns which was under the aegis of the governor of Syria...headquartered at Antioch.

Authentic or not, we simply cannot dismiss the possibility that this letter was edited and used for other purposes by christian writers. What "Paul" describes is an anachronism.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 11:44 am

Oh, OK, I'm with you now. So which letter is that in? Is it one of the accepted seven?

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:13 pm

2 Corinthians 11, 32-33

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... s-kjv.html




The site above includes it as one of only 4 authentic letters.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:38 pm

We'd better see what Monk has to say about it.

In the meantime, Monk, I think you would really enjoy this YouTube clip. It also explains why I think it's perfectly OK to respond to a quote from Romans with one from Corinthians, and why you find that to be absolutely not OK.

http://kr.youtube.com/watch?v=GuMZ73mT5 ... re=related

:lol:

Enjoy!

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Post by seeker » Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:50 pm

Forum Monk wrote:
Yes, I can see that, in the grand scheme of things. But within the smaller subset of world religions that we are discussing here, I am intent in keeping each group in neat little boxes since their ideas were sufficiently diverse to make that possible. But when we blend the terms, things get confusing and it appears that one was the sect of another and that is not the case.
The problem is that we aren't talking about neat boxes here. Messianists (Christians) were undefined at the beginning, the kinds of definitions you are trying to apply didn't develop until years later, especially to outsiders like Josephus and others who wrote about them.

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:04 pm

I think you would really enjoy this YouTube clip

Brilliant placement, Ish!

:lol:
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:22 pm

I like boxes. (nice clip btw).

I didn't really get a chance to explain deeper as I was called away in the middle of making that post. So seems kind of immaterial at the moment.

The fact is, Paul wrote letters, whether we agree it was four, seven, nine, or thirteen, I guess is not of immediate concern. Those letters were supposedly read aloud before congregations of people and probably copied and spread about. It is intuitive you had christians (protochristians?), gnostics (called something else then) of possibly several stripes and nazarenes all reading them and interpreting them to their own ends.

So the question remains, was Paul gnostic. I say no, Ish says yes. So I feel we can only draw some conclusion based on examination of what he said, in all of the letters (Ish wishes to stick with seven and I have agreed). I don't feel it necessary to find specific anti-gnostic rhetoric as I feel (and I believe Ish has agreed) the gnostic movement was not viewed by Paul as anything more than another greek school of philosophy. So I think the important thing is to establish if he was advocating a gnostic point of view or a point of view that was would have been uncharacteristically "ungnostic" and I have shown several examples of such. So lets go deeper.

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Post by Forum Monk » Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:27 pm

seeker wrote:The problem is that we aren't talking about neat boxes here. Messianists (Christians) were undefined at the beginning, the kinds of definitions you are trying to apply didn't develop until years later, especially to outsiders like Josephus and others who wrote about them.
You are probably correct and for the moment my thoughts on the matter are a bit scattered. I know what I want to say, just not sure how to say it right now.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Jul 26, 2008 3:23 pm

OK, Monk, here’s a way of going deeper which might work for you.

Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton, has written a book called Gnostic Paul where she examines the Valentinians’ case for Paul being Gnostic.

The Valentinians (followers of the 2nd century Gnostic Valentinus) had a school in Rome until it was forcibly closed down in the 5th century. Valentinus said that he was initiated into the secret mysteries by Theudas, and that Theudas had been initiated by Paul.

There’s just one more thing you have to understand before reading this. We’ve talked about the duality of the teachings – one story for the masses and another for the initiates.

The Gnostics titled those not yet ready for the second initiation, but have been baptised with water (1st intiation) ‘psychics’. But those who have been or about to undertake the second initiation are titled ‘pneumatics’. I think this is common across most Gnostic groups.

So here’s a small extract from the Valentinians’ interpretation of Paul via Elaine Pagels.
Yet Paul, like the saviour himself, chooses not to disclose this theme openly. Instead, he follows Christ’s example and hides his meaning in parables. In writing his letter to the Romans for example, he uses a simple, every day situation — the relationship between Jews and Gentiles — as a parable between the relationship of the called and the elect.

Valentinian exegetes attempt systematically to disclose to the initiate the hidden Logos of Paul’s teachings, separating it from the metaphors that hide it from the uninitiated. For as Paul says in Roms 2:28 those called “Jews inwardly”, “Jews in secret”, the “true Israel” are, Theodotus says, the pneumatic elect. They alone worship the One God (Rom 3:29) The Unengendered Father. But because their affinity with the father is hidden, a secret from those who are “Jews outwardly”, (the psychics) and from the demiurge god (“the god of the Jews” Rom 3:29) Paul more often calls the elect in his parables “the uncircumcised”, the Gentiles or “the Greeks”.

The initiated reader could recognise Paul’s meaning when he proclaims himself “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 1:5). The Valentinians note how Paul contrasts his own mission to the pneumatic Gentiles with Peter’s mission to the psychic Jews. (Gal. 2:7)

Paul says that he, as apostle to the Gentiles, longs to share with them his pneumatic charisma (Rom 1:11) but acknowledges his obligation “both to the Greeks and to the barbarians”, that is, as he says, both to the wise (pneumatics) and the foolish (psychics). (Rom 1:14.)
So I will repeat that quote again, and another one, to make the point, in the hope that now you've read that explanation, it might make more sense to you:

“For I long to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established ....

“[But] I am a debtor, both the the Greeks [pneumatics], and to the barbarians [psychics]: both to the Wise [pneumatics] and the unwise [psychics].”

And again he says in 1 Cor. 2: 6-7.

“How be it that we speak wisdom among those that are perfect [pneumatics]; yet none of the wisdom of this world, nor the princes of this world, that comes to nought.

“But we speak of the wisdom of God [Sophia] in a mystery, ever the hidden wisdom, which ordained before the world unto our glory.”

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