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Historic Jesus (Abrantes, Alan)

Aug 11, 1996 04:05 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Hi Abrantes, and Alan

>It's clear to me that Marcion, have a different edition of
>gospel of Luke.  It's clear also that Marcion didn't accept the
>Jesus in the flesh.  Blavastsky is correct here.
>So you recognices that Marcion accepted some parts from from
>Luke's gospel (used by the church) as authentical. And as Dr.
>Lardner explains, such parts INCLUDE chapters 23 and chapter 3:1
>that CLEARLY refers to Pilate. So, even thought Marcion rejects
>Jesus in flesh, and had opinions vastly different from that held
>by the church, Marcion accepts that Jesus lived under Pilate,
>and then rejects Toldoth at THIS POINT. Do you agree?

No.  If Marcion did not accept Jesus in the flesh, as we have
agreed, then why would a historical Jesus have any relevance to
Marcion one way or the other?  I will take yours and Dr.
Lardner's word for it that Marcion's version of Luke included
chapters 23 (the trial) and chapter 3:1.  I would then ask, what
did those verses mean to Marcion?  What was his commentary
concerning those verses?  The trial and crucifixion stories were
important to the Gnostics--not because of any historical
considerations, but because of their symbolic significance.  But
let us say, for the sake of argument, that Marcion accepted the
existence of an historical Jesus who lived at the time of Pilate.
How does this help your argument that Jesus lived at such a time?
Further, you argue that Marcion rejected the Toldoth.  What
evidence is there that Marcion even heard of the Toldoth?  How
can someone "reject" something they know nothing about?

>I'm having a lot a problems with your logic and the conclusions
>you are deriving from the above string of information.  How does
>your conclusion that Luke "is an orthodox" address HPB's
>argument that the historical Jesus lived in 100 B.C.?   Are you
>implying that Luke had some special knowledge of Jesus, or that
>he belonged to a Syrian group that had special knowledge of
>Jesus? Further, are you implying that the Gospel of Luke was
>written by the apostle Luke, and/or represents the apostle
>Luke's ideas? I hope you don't hold this belief.

>I cited quotation from Eusebius, Irenaeus, and a prologue found
>at church of Rome 180AD (remember that as in a previus e-mail
>we already conclude that gnostics description given by Iraenaeus
>are in accordance with the recent discoveries in Nag-Hammadi).

I think we agreed that the Nag Hammadi scholars were surprised as
to the degree of accuracy that the early church fathers
represented Gnostic doctrines.   To what degree they are "in
accordance" is another matter--but generally the early church
fathers got high marks.

>All these references comes from ortodoxy, so I conclude that
>Luke had good relations with ortodoxy. All this references
>states that Luke was disciple of Paul and wrote the gospel. And
>as Luke chapter 23 talk about Pilate, these references can be
>used to confirm the hypothese that Jesus lived under Pilate.

As I understand it, your argument is this: You say that Luke was
a disciple of Paul, who was orthodox, therefore Luke had "good
relations with orthodoxy"; that Luke "wrote the Gospel" [of
Luke]; Luke talks about Pilate; therefore Jesus lived under
Pilate.  Your logic would be solid if Paul had written the
Epistles and Luke the Gospel of Luke, or at least that the
Epistles of Paul and the Gospel of Luke represent the ideas of
their respective name sakes.  But here lies the great flaw:

1. Early in this discussion, I mentioned that only two of the
fourteen epistles of Paul are generally accepted to be genuine.
Neither of those two place Jesus in an historical setting, but
rather treat Jesus in much the same style as the Gnostics--i.e.
as an abstraction.  I realize that you cited a mention of Pilate
in 1Tim. in an attempt to prove that Paul wrote of an historical
Jesus, but 1Tim is one of the Epistles whose genuineness is most
definitely rejected, and is thought to have been written not by
Paul, but by someone who also wrote the Epistle of Titus.

2. Paul only knew Jesus though visions.  He never met an
historical Jesus.  Therefore his knowledge of such a Jesus would
have been second hand or through visions.  Bible students have
for centuries been disturbed by the lack of historical
information about Jesus in the writings of Paul.  In fact, the
only place where any exist at all, are in the Epistles known to
have NOT been written by Paul.

3. I mentioned earlier that it is generally accepted that the
Gospels are in fact anonymous.  The titles presently used: e.g.
"According to Luke" are not part of the original manuscripts.
The naming of the gospels seems to have begun with Papias in 140,
but was not generally used, formalized or canonized until about
180 with Irenaeus, who also limited the number of acceptable
gospels to the four we have today.

4. It is also now generally agreed that the Gospels evolved from
earlier documents, now lost.  These lost documents are believed
to have been the sayings of a "Jesus" with no historical context-
-like the rejected Gospel of Thomas.  Therefore, there is no
reason to believe that the Gospel of Luke represents the ideas of
the author attributed to it, but rather is another compilation
from older documents now lost.

So, based upon current evidence and thinking, the genuine
Epistles of Paul have no references to an historical Jesus, and
the Gospel of Luke was not written by Luke, but was a compilation
of many documents and/or stories.  Therefore, these Gospels and
Epistles are not reliable evidence to confirm the historical
existence of a biblical Jesus under Pilate.

>The question of NT's authenticity is not the point here. What we
>have to understand is that the gospels and pauline epistles
>follow the original doctrines of the majority party of the
>church (ortodoxy), and follows the original belief that Jesus
>lived under Pilate. They are not forgeries or something else
>(even though there is some interpolations as 1 John 5:7
>cited by HPB at BOOK III chapter IV,161 - start 153, end 185).

"The question of NT's authenticity is not the point here"
(???!!!). I don't follow you.  If you wish to use the NT as proof
of the historicity of Jesus living under Pilate, then it seems to
me that the NT's authenticity is very much the point.

>Surely others christians doctrines (such as gnosticism and
>docetism) were omitted from gospels. If quotations about Pilate
>in gospels were interpolations it would be interesting to
>investigate if there is some contradiction between ancient greek
>manuscripts about such passages. A good work about it is
>written by K.Alland, M.Black, C.M.Martini, Bruce Metzger - The
>greek new Testament.

I have seen works on this subject.  Yes, there are some
variations in the texts, but these studies miss the point we are
concerned with here--i.e. the source of these texts.  It is
agreed (as you also pointed out) that these Greek texts were
evolved from earlier texts that are no longer extant.  Since
these earlier texts are lost, we obviously have a problem tracing
the sources behind our present canonized texts.  This is why
there is so much current interest in the Nag Hammadi texts--
particularly with the Gospel of Thomas.  Though the text itself
is no older than the oldest Greek texts, it does appear to more
in conformity with the more primitive texts that are lost.
Therefore, a more faithful copy of the older texts.

>Church belief that evangelists wrote theirs gosples
>independently, using the oral tradition and some manuscripts
>that comes from the early christians communities (Catechism 126,
>Dei Verbum19) There are also others theories about it. <In 1921
>Robert Bulltmann published - History of the synoptic tradition -
>an analysis of the traditional material used by the evangelists
>Matthew, Mark and Luke and an attempt to throw its history in
>the tradition of the church prior to their use of it> (Enc.
>Britannica Vol2,629) He shown that <the base stock of
>the tradition consisted of numerous small, self-contained units
>(single sayings, parables, debates, anecdotes and miracles
>stories) originally WITHOUT any relation to each other and
>mostly withou any interest in dates, places or historical
>circumstances. It was the gospel writers (or some earlier
>collectors) who first joined these individual pieces
>together...Thus with regard to the gospels it has to be
>considerated that their tradition was found and collected
>under the influence of its ideas and ways of thought>
>(Britannica Vol22,337).

I generally agree with the above.  I would add that during this
process of piecing together these "sayings," "parables" etc.
written "without any interest in dates"  would be the time that
transitional material (such as historical references,
genealogies, virgin births etc.) were introduced in order to give
the stories a continuity, an historical setting, and to make them
appear to fulfill prophecy.

>In my last posting to you, I suggested that our inquiry might be
>more fruitful if we were to look at the teachings of the Ophite
>sect and investigate the Syrian heresies.  According to
>my reading of HPB, she is suggesting that elements of the
>primitive Church and ties to the historical Jesus may be found

>I am looking for such information. If I will have some success,
>I will write.  But I think that is interesting ALSO investigate
>about christians apostolic fathers, that you already admitted
>that have a limited knowledge about them.

I agree that the apostolic fathers' writings are interesting, and
are helpful.  But I don't see how citing the beliefs of fathers
who were writing after the period the Gospels had been formalized
can be used as proof of the historicity of the Biblical Jesus,
therefore disproving HPB's thesis.  I already raised the point
that the historicity of the Gospels themselves are very much in
doubt when critically examined.

Yes, I mentioned that I have not read Adv. Marcion, nor am I
inclined to involve myself in this text at this time.  To be more
precise, I have not read from cover to cover all ten volumes of
my set of the ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, nor do I expect to do so in my
lifetime.  But I have read portions of it, and have a general
feel for the material.  Truthfully, I am more interested in
learning more about the Ophite sect and the Syrian Heresies.
There are areas where my knowledge is much more limited.
>Have you already think that HPB, may be wrong in some points

None that you have pointed out so far.  Rather, HPB's arguments
appear to be surprisingly current.

>In this e-mail another argument that show that we can not say
>that Jesus lived one century before, because at time of romam
>emperor Domitian (reigned during 81-96), two grandsons of St
>Jude (the brother of Jesus) were presented before emperor, and
>so it is impossible to admit that Jesus lived 1 B.C.

Abrantes' Quote:
[snip]...Among the christians, who were brought before the
tribunal of the emperor (Domitian), or as it seems more
probable, before that of the procurator of Judaea, two persons
are said to have appeared, distinguished by their extraction,
which was more truly noble than of the greatest monarchs. These
were the GRANDSONS OF ST JUDE THE APOSTLE, who himself was THE
BROTHER OF JESUS... They finally confess their royal origin, and
their near relation to the Messiah, but they disclaimed any
temporal views and professed that his kingdom which they devoutly
expected was purely of a spiritual and angelic nature...The
grandsons of St Jude were dismissed with compassion and contempt
(Eusebius iii,20; the story is taken from Hegesippus)]

Too bad the writings of Hegesippus (abt. 180 A.D.) are lost
except for fragments preserved as quotes in other writings.  This
fact makes it all the more difficult to evaluate whether
Hegesippus is drawing from legend here, or from some unknown
Roman record.  As for the key phrase, "the brother of Jesus", the
church has gotten a lot of mileage from this.  In the original
Greek has two equally possible meanings: "brother" as in a
familial relation, and "brother" as in a fraternal affiliation.
Therefore, the Jude spoken of here could have been telling the
tribunal that he was Jesus' brother, or a follow in Jesus.
Typical of early christian writiers, the first meaning is always
assumed, and the story was written accordingly.

>>Even the earliest Toldoth story fragments only dates to the
>>13th century, though Tertullian refers to the main elements of
>>it, thus showing that this story must date at least to the
>>second century.

>Tertullian? Where?

I gather from Paul K's remarks on the Toldoth commentary that
this question was already covered, and these references cited--so
your question is already answered.

JHE (to Alan Bain)
>I do remember that we have learned that first century Judaism
>was a chaotic mess with lots of infighting going on.

>Oh indeed! Prof. Jacob Neusner (Formerly of Brown University, RI
>but now somewhere else) makes it clear that there were many
>"Judaisms" at the time, as he puts it!
>In my "The Nazarenes" (in a section not yet on my homepage) I
>take a look at this.

I would love to read this material, but alas I'm not setup for
WWW.  Can you upload it to me?

>>Alan Bain wrote:
>>>[Aside to Jerry - have you read "The Teaching of Addai" - ?
>>Eusebius' translation?  Well, I find the story hard to accept,
>>and considering the late date of the text, I would be inclined
>>to believe that it is a fabrication.
>I was thinking of a more recent translation by (I think) George
>Howard which was a Scholars Press dissertation series
>publication, and a new translation from the Aramaic text, but I
>went straight to the place on the shelf where it wasn't, as we
>often do :-)
>My own view is that it is a fabrication built upon a genuine
>oral (and very much shorter) tradition belonging the the church
>in Edessa.

>>  But it does give some insight and raises questions.  First;
>>the early Syrians' stress upon Jesus as a healer.  I think the
>>emphasis on this aspect has been lost in modern society.
>>Second; though the document is certainly more of a devotional
>>piece than real history, it raises the question of the
>>existence of early Christian activity in Syria.  HPB seems to
>>suggest that a lot was indeed going on there in the first
>>century and that it was closer to the teachings of the
>>historical Jesus.  But where are the texts?  Certainly the
>>church never preserved them, and James Hastings shows only
>>later date material.  More likely the documents will be among
>>material that have been labeled "Jewish Gnosticism."   Any
Alan Bain:
>Bearing in mind my view that the earliest church was still part
>of the general "Judaic" or Israelite religion, it seems to me
>(and others, of late, so I have heard) that we may need to look
>not for avowedly "Christian" texts, but among "Jewish" material
>of the period either side of the supposed Jesus date.
>In particular, I am drawn to some of the "seven heavens"
>material, Syriac "Psalms of Solomon" - that sort of thing.  Much
>of the former is to be found in ~The Apocryphal Old Testament~
>[Oxford, ed. Sparks].  Cf. Paul on the "Third heaven" in 2
>Corinthians ...
>There are a couple of ideas.  Any thoughts?

I agree that the Jewish material of the period is the logical
place to search.  But what relevant material survived?  I'm still
waiting with anticipation for the publication of the rest of the
Dead Sea Scrolls.

My own teacher, had gathered a tremendous amount of research
material connecting Judaism to Indian Buddhism, and believed that
Christianity evolved from this mix.  She had some very rare
material on the subject.  Sadly, she was reluctant to discuss her
findings at the time for fear of being "scooped."  She died about
fifteen years ago and I recovered only scattered notes concerning
her thesis.  The rest of her research probably does not exist any
longer :-(

I don't know the Syric material at all and would be very
interested in learning more about it.


   |Jerry Hejka-Ekins,                      |
      |Member TI, TSA, TSP, ULT                |
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