Re: The Existence of Jesus
Aug 08, 1996 01:14 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
>In message <9608062331.AA02825@toto.csustan.edu>, Jerry
>>a debate between the Jews and the Christian sects in the early
>>first century would have made sense, and must have occurred.
>>But such debates we not preserved by the Jews nor the
>>Christians (who have no documentation of this nature whatsoever
>>for this period).
Alan Bain writes:
>A simple opinion (my own, but shared by others no doubt) is that
>such debates could not have occurred for the reason that in the
>early first century all "Christians" were also kinds of "Jews."
>The earliest Christian Church of all was at Jerusalem, probably
>surving the destruction of the Temple, but maybe not, until the
>Bar Kochba rebellion of 135, when the Romans threw them all out.
>This was headed by James (Jacob) "The Brother of the Lord" and
>Paul had to get their approval for his own work - which took
>place in the early first century. Some of the members of this
>Mother Church were also Pharisees, according to the N.T. itself.
From what I have been able to get out of controversies that
surround the Dead Sea Scroll findings, we have learned that the
Jews of the period were divided into lots of little factions, and
that they were constantly bickering over theological minute. No
doubt, at least one of those factions represented the beginnings
of modern Christianity. Christian scholars have been hoping
against hope that these scrolls would throw more light upon these
primitive Christians. There have been a few false alarms
(remember the pierced and piercing Messiah?), but so far nothing
definitive has come up that I have heard of. You might recall
that they fired the head of the translating team a few years ago
(for publicly uttering anti-semitic remarks and for alcoholism),
and discovered that he had been secretly hording a key document
that identifies the group who wrote the scrolls in the first
place--and it wasn't the Essenes, as everyone assumed for all
these years. It wasn't the Pharisees either, but more closely
connected with the Sadducees. I can't find my files on this at
the moment, and my memory isn't recalling the details. But I do
remember that we have learned that first century Judaism was a
chaotic mess with lots of infighting going on.
If anything, recent scholarship is showing that HPB's very
complicated account of early Christianity is more realistic than
the much simpler explanations we have been fed all of these years
(I'm not talking about the rightness or wrongness of her ideas,
but of their level of sophistication). The early history of
Christianity is proving to be far more complicated than most
people realize, or even want to deal with. I think that one of
the major problems that keeps good scholarship on the origins of
the Christian religion from advancing is plain old politics.
N.T. Biblical scholars look at things from the point of view of
New Testament Christianity. Jewish Scholars look at things from
the point of view of Rabbinical Judaism. Mix that with personal
ambition and greed, and documents get suppressed. So when some
Gnostic scholar like Elaine Pagels comes in to decode the early
church politics revealed in the Nag Hammadi texts from the
Gnostic perspective she gets raked over the coals. And Pagels
is a solid member of that discourse community and her ideas
weren't even that radical! Think of how marginalized some
scholar would become in the community if he were to investigate
possible connections between say, the Nazars and the early
Christians. What respected academic press would risk flushing
their reputation down the toilet by publishing it?
HPB predicted that documents would come to light when the world
was ready for them. IMO, the fiasco of the Dead Sea Scrolls show
that the world is far from ready to receive anything as earth
shaking as definitive documents on the origins of Christianity.
|Jerry Hejka-Ekins, |
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