Continuity — The Myth of Jewish Christianity

As I've already intimated, throughout the preceding posts in this ongoing discussion, I have been suspending my disbelief just enough to allow for the authenticity of at least some core of the Pauline corpus, just as F.C. Baur had, when in fact I have come to view the ideas of the Dutch Radical school as generally correct. While some representatives of this proto-mythicist group would eventually muster the temerity to suggest that the Jesus story is probably almost entirely mythical in both form and function, the bulk of their fame (or, rather, their infamy) came from their expositions on and critiques of the nature of the pauline epistles, which they (rightly) saw as a product of turn-of-the-century tensions between the emerging ecclesiastical institution and a rather more esoteric "paulinism" that resisted its authority. I am especially persuaded by what I've read from W.C. Van Manen to at least take seriously the probability that these documents that have served as the very cornerstone of such an ancient tradition which makes claims to the historicity of not a few crucial events having taken place at a certain time at a certain place, are essentially just as spurious as those that are similarly attributed to Peter, to James, or to Jude.
(No impartial scholar thinks these letters are authentic.)

So we have two sources of information regarding Christianity's birth and early formative period: the Acts of the Apostles and the pauline epistles. The historical reliability of the Acts has been the focus of much scholarship in the last century, especially as contrasted with the epistles, which at times contradict its outlined narrative. My own opinion is that Acts is likely a very deliberate attempt to synthesize the two hitherto irreconcilable rival camps into a resultant unified faith. I follow David Trobisch on this. Moreover, I follow John Knox and Joseph Tyson in their suggestion that the Acts was penned essentially an an anti-marcionite reaction. I will return to this idea later. For now, suffice to say that if this is so, and if we add to this mix the Dutch radical idea that the entire Pauline corpus is spurious, then we have to face the sobering possibility that we have no primary sources regarding pre-Jewish-Revolt Christianity. This is so significant a paradigm-shift that it merits repetition and highlighting:

We have no primary sources regarding pre-Jewish-Revolt Christianity.

Gloss that over at your own risk (or at your own benefit, as the case might be).

At any rate, for the sake of engaging Greg Boyd on his own playing field, I have been allowing for their authenticity because even if we downplay the many discrepancies and contradictions between the letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, even if we just read them at face value, bracketing our higher-critical mind momentarily, it is pretty hard to elude the fact that Paul's intended audiences are markedly gentile.

The obviousness of this observation troubles me. I must confess that the fact that the Boyd objections, based as they are on such a demonstrably false premise, in retrospect, could have seemed like a compelling argument to me when I first heard him, now embarrasses me somewhat. There's something to be learned from every experience, though, and this one led me to a further profound realization. That I fell for it at all, even for a moment, is indicative of a strange kind of cultural inertia that apparently no one is immune to.

Why is it that people tend to hold on to certain prescribed ideas about a thing even when evidence to the contrary is right in front of them? If a skeptic like me can sometimes fall prey to this kind of rehearsed irrelevant sidetracking, it's no wonder that the business of apologetics prospers like it does, sustained as it is by the general population's lack of familiarity with the texts. All our lives we in the west have heard the story of Jesus, even those of us whose parents weren't particularly religious. Just as it's not an axiom of faith to "know" that Jesus existed, it is not an axiom of faith to "know" that the early Christians were Jews. It is a part of the background noise in our civilization, which, because we have no use for thinking about it outside of churchly settings, we don't pay any mind to. It's simply part of the social matrix that resulted from our peculiar historical inheritance, even though our culture is now primarily secular (functionally, at least). It seldom occurs to anyone, even skeptics, to question details such as a Bethlehem birth of Jesus, some kind of Galilean healing streak, the essential Jewishness of the authors and their readers, or his execution by Roman authorities at the instigation of the Jewish authorities. We take all these things for granted without too much consideration.

An illustrative example: I gave up the habit of watching television in 1991. Despite this fact, I can name and describe to some degree all of the four main characters in the Seinfeld television program (and probably a few of the supporting characters too) even though I spent the nineties completely television-free. When something is so pervasive, so ubiquitous in the cultural landscape, it tends to seep peripherally into your consciousness whether we care about that thing or not. Likewise, the basic outline of the Jesus legend is burned into our cultural retina, so to speak, even if we are not Christian. It is part of the cultural identity of even those who are not initiates into the religion. Being able to readily recall certain generalities about the Jesus story should not be mistaken for "knowing" they are true, however, particularly when the "remembered" bits don't match what the texts actually say.

So why is it so ingrained in us that the early Christians, Paul's communities of converts, were essentially Jews, when the epistles themselves are so obviously written to gentile audiences? Actually, it's not that hard to see why. It is because these epistles contain within them so many references and citations from the Hebrew scriptures, that we fail to see the forest for these trees being in the way. Yes, the character of Paul is infatuated with the Jewish Bible. Whatever incarnation he imagines for Jesus (it's notoriously hard to tell what he means), for him, it is all "according to the scriptures." We therefore make the mistake of interpreting this use of Jewish symbolism as though these addressed communities were Jewish, but we've already seen that this is not so. Clearly, it is "Paul" who uses the symbols and the rhetoric, despite the fact that communities he addresses are not Jewish.

Moreover, the symbolism and the rhetoric are problematic in themselves. As I have already mentioned[1], some scholars have argued against the authenticity of Paul's self-proclaimed pharisaism. This view was encapsulated concisely by C. G. Montefiore when he wrote :

"Either this man was never a Rabbinic Jew at all, or he has quite forgotten what Rabbinic Judaism was and is. … [on the other hand] … The Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels was a critic and pathologist of Judaism. His criticisms are real: they are flesh and blood.... But the author of the Epistle to the Romans fights, for the most part, in the air." [2]

It is not enough to proclaim oneself a pharisee and to quote from the Hebrew Bible and engage in midrashic affectations. If it was, then many of the modern fringe religious groups (Jews for Jesus, Rastafarians, Mormons, Black Zionists) that lay claim to being the genuine inheritors of the tradition would have more of a legitimate basis to claim such a title than they actually do. Historical research, the science of genetics, and plain common sense all give the lie to such claims. To one who would ask why Paul would "lie" about such a thing, I would respond by asking them why Joseph Smith would "lie" about such a thing. Delusional people aren't necessarily "lying," they are simply delusional. I'm sure that in his own mind Paul was quite the experienced Jew of Jews. However, his rhetoric just doesn't match his claim to such a pedigree.

Those who would make use of any argument resembling the Boyd objections against mythicism that I outlined in the first essay of this series are holding on to an outmoded and demonstrably false premise. This includes Boyd, James White, William Craig, and many others. I have learned to understand a bit of why they do—conditioned habits are a real bitch to break—but such a stance is ultimately, demonstrably, indefensible. One simply cannot appeal to Paul when asserting the "thorough" Jewishness of the early Christians.

I think this is also the case with the rest of the New Testament writings, as I hope to show in future posts.

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1 — Hyam Maccoby's The Mythmaker
2Jewish Quarterly Review 13 [1901], pp. 167, 205-6


  1. You raise an interesting point regarding the NT's knowledge of Judaism. I do think that Christianity evolved out Judaism or a Near-Judaism but, now that you mention it, I would like to see a scholarly examination of the NT's knowledge of Judaism (beyond access to the LXX) in comparison with the knowledge of Judaism present in, say egypto-greco-roman magic. Perhaps it's already been done. If so, then would someone provide me with a reference or two? Thanks

    1. I would also love to see such a monograph, if it exists.

      I have no doubt that Judaism is the model the authors of the NT are trying to emulate the best they know how. It's just that they don't seem to know how. It's something I've been thinking about for a while.

      I think Doherty and Carrier are very likely right that Christianity began as an attempt to found a mystery school under Yhwh.

      I've tried to stress in the series (but I think I need to repeat that I don't doubt Christianity's Judean origin (at least superficially and geographically) .... it is the assumed continuity which is dissonant.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Stevan Davies is making a case for Jesus being a part of an offshoot branch of Judaism (think Pentacostal Judaism). In the last section of his "Spirit Possession", he discusses the "Odes of Solomon", their probable pre-christian origins, and their likely relationship to gJohn and the "genuine" pauline writings. I think that he makes a good case for the origin of Christianity in a Holy Spirit possession cult. It is in the transition from every man possessed by the Spirit to centralized control of the movement that the connection between Judaism and Christianity are lost. One presumes that the controllers of this movement were Mystery Men.

    1. That sounds like an interesting read. I'll check it out. I've read some stuff of his on the Gospel of Thomas, I think.

  3. The extreme over-emphasis on the goodness and virtue of the Gentiles as opposed to the villainy and corruption of "the Jews" throughout the New Testament, kind of gives the whole plot away, doesn't it? It's astonishing to me that this is continually downplayed or overlooked, even by supposedly uber-skeptics like Carrier. I don't know why Christianity would invent a fake Jewish letter writer like Paul, but then, an organization that can forge letters as "Paul" is more than capable of inventing "Paul" to help flesh out a pseudo-history of non-events. Why they did this is another question, one we can never solve. If history is under no obligation to "make sense," how much less ancient theology! (To borrow a typical Pauline construction.)

    1. You have put your finger on one of my two peeves with Carrier's book . Namely, his hypo-skeptic acceptance of "seven authentic letters" just because it's the consensus view. The other is his argument for the dating of Hebrews, which I think is rather facile - not fully thought out.

      I don't think this mars his general thesis, but I hear you.

  4. Read Hyam Maccoby's "The Sacred Executioner." He explores the archetype of the figure chosen by a deity to murder someone else, including Judaism. The Christians took this archetype and changed it so that an entire race of people ("The Jews") served as a collective Sacred Executioner of "God's Son" Jesus. This was, in their sick philosophy, the only soteriological scheme available to the Gentiles. Such a scheme is not only blasphemous and perverse from an orthodox Jewish perspective (Gentiles could become converted Jews, no crucifixion was necessary), it makes it extremely unlikely, considered in this light, that "early Christians" were Jews. Because the entire religion is predicated on the idea that "the Jews" had to execute Jesus so that Gentiles could inherit the Kingdom of God and become God's new chosen people.

    1. I think his The Mythmaker is very incisive. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll probably get around to it (My reading list gets bigger and bigger by the day) ... cheers.

  5. It is pretty amazing that in the 21st century someone would still be wheeling out a text like the one quoted from Montefiore. Why would one speak of 'rabbinic' *anything* before the appearance of the Mishnah, a century or more after Paul's letters are customarily dated?

    1. Other than appealing to a consensus "they are customarily dated" to the sixth and seventh decades of the first century ... can you demonstrate when these epistles were written?

      I follow the Dutch Radicals in dating them to the early second century. The Mishnah had begun by then. No?

    2. earlier ... if the theoretical Council of Jamnia actually took place and set upon this task in 86 or so ...

      so your charge of "over a century or more after" doesn't really stand ...

    3. Is there any serious person who believes in the 'historicity' of the 'council of Yavne'? One might as well think the Zohar was edited in the second century. The "usual date" for the Mishnah is 189 as I said, no one, however pious thinks the text itself is earlier than that; the question is about the historical merit of its content.

    4. No one is arguing what you are so vehemently opposing. "Text itself" is not the same as a simple word "rabbi."

    5. The passage from Montefiore is arguing that Paul was an incompetent former follower of 'Rabbinic Judaism'. This is a total anachronism.

    6. You are absolutely right that Montefiore is using a term anachronistically. I agree. The bigger point is . . . does it marr the thrust of his point, i.e. ... that Paul seems to know very little about what Pharisaism (arguably the direct precursors of the "category" "Rabbinic Judaism") was about?

      He is right, in my opinion. Anachronism notwithstanding.

    7. Maybe Paul is lying when he says he is a Pharisee and son of Pharisees and so on (supposing he said it). You don't seem to be giving any reason to doubt this, though. Why not just take the text at face value on this point? Of course he is a 'bad Jew' from the point of view of developed rabbinical ideas. Those ideas arise from much later reflection on all of the various things that 'went wrong' in the late 2nd Temple period.

    8. My reasons for doubting it is the discord with what I think are Pharisaic ideas. This is why I do not take it at face value. I do follow Maccoby on that.

      Your assertion that Rabbinics arose from "what went wrong" in late 2nd Temple Judaism is arguable, but so far, it is mostly ad hoc.

      The way I see it . . . what "went wrong" was that the Romans stopped the ball from rolling when they laid siege to Jerusalem and the temple. If you have evidence that Paul was indeed Jewish in the normative sense . . . I'm open to it. "Taking him at face value" may be enough for you. That's cool. It's not for me, though.

    9. Montefiore can at least be excused for writing in the 19th c. Maccoby's book can only be viewed as an act of rabbinical piety. It is strange you should appeal to Maccoby given that you are looking for evidence for and against the 'historicity' of Jesus. His argument presupposes that there is a historical basis for Acts, and also for later anti-Pauline works like the pseudo-Clementines and the amazing text Shlomo Pines (a *genuine* master of scholarship) claimed to have excavated from Abd al-Jabbar. These are employed as 'Jewish-Christian' works in a way that presupposes that they represent a genuinely Jewish ur-Christianity stemming from 1st century Palestine. These are not problems for Maccoby but for your use of him. The bigger problem with a writer like Maccoby is that it has not crossed his mind that the relation between the rabbinical corpus he dwells in and the first century facts is every bit as problematic as the relation of the Gospels to the first century facts.

    10. I don't depend on Maccoby's approach. I simply accept his general thesis that the literary character "Paul" (HE doesn't think Paul is a conglomorate role .... *I* do ...) is a mouthpiece for feigning Jewishness. Acts helps his case, and that's on him, but this function of the character of Paul is clear before we even touch on Acts. If all we had were the epistles, a case for dissimulation could still be built. I agree with Maccoby that Paul is not a Pharisee, not BECAUSE OF Maccoby, per çe, but because he's right about his central premise. My own reading of the New Testament, and my meditation on this reading, leads me to that idea.

      Other than that, I think your last statement is interesting. You are asserting something which is certainly not new ... that Judaism and Christianity are equivalent offshoots from the same branch (there's a netzer reference in there somewhere) ... I would argue that to argue that each of these branches are equidistant from the original main trunk (which once was the second temple) has little to no evidence to commend it. How have you measured exactly by how much each has veered?

      However you think you can equate these deviations, i would remind you of the dearth of evidence on this front. Until fairly recent times scholarship on the Pharisees has been in complete disarray. The major problem has been the lack of commonly accepted criteria and scholars coming from different religious backgrounds and with different motives, using different sources in different ways, resulting in a variegation of often incompatible conclusions.

    11. This modern critical debate still centers around the contrast between Geiger's and Wellhousen's debate, in the mid-nineteenth century, regarding the trajectory of Pharisaism from Hasmonean times to the Jewish revolt. The debate has subsequently been continued, but it still retains the basic shape that that these men's debate had. Without going into detail, at least three foci of disagreement can be isolated in their debate:

      1) Whether Pharisaim represented a positive or a negative development in Judaism after the exile;

      2) Whether the Pharisees had apocalyptic interests; and

      3) To what extent they were politically inclined.

      Without pertinent sources, the question of locating the center of Pharisaic belief becomes speculative by definition.

      Was it the will to purity (lack of intercourse) viz a viz "the heathen"?
      Was it zeal for the oral tradition?
      Was it the process of tithing and/or of ritual purity?
      Was it the promulgation of liberal democracy?
      Was it a messianic hope?
      Was it a belief in resurrection, angels, and demons?
      Was it a rejection of apocalypticism?

      What was the core motivation behind the pharisaic movement?
      All of the above have been posited as good candidates.

      Now, the fact that the issue is still unsesolved in scholarship (though you may think you have it figured out) is traceable to the paucity of sources regarding Pharisee intention and/or self-identity. We can't get around that. Anyone who pretends to know more than the scant sources can tell us is overstating what is necessarily a speculative case. The fact is that, apart from two fairly vague propositions, namely,

      (a) that the Pharisees especially valued a body of extrabiblical tradition; and

      (b) that they contributed significantly to the formation of rabbinic Judaism ...

      ... every major question about the Pharisees' origin, identity, and place in ancient Judaic/Palestinian society remains open.

      The problem for you in this case is b). If Geiger and Wellhousen agree on this direct influence on the rabbinic school, despite what disagreements they had on the rest of it, then it precludes any certitude in your assessment of their "equivalency" viz second temple Judaism.

      You seem like someone who is conversant in the topic. That's cool. I appreciate the chance to exchange ideas on something that interests me with someone who has some knowledge of the subject, but I don't really dig the "no reasonable person" stuff or the presumption that I have no knowledge of my own.

  6. The 'Mishnah' is traditionally ascribed to Judah ha Nasi who is said to have flourished in the decades around 200. The usual date for the text itself is 189.

  7. "usual dates" notwithstanding . . . make a case for it . . . don't just offer it as though it were a given, please.

    The Talmud took a few centuries to congeal and be codified. I would argue it began shortly after the fall . . . with either Jamnia . . . or something like it.

    1. Regardless . . . . the NT uses the word "rabbi" too . . . should we date THAT to post 189 as well, then?

    2. If the gospel stories were using 'rabbi' and 'rabbouni' in the sense in which they appear in developed rabbinic literature, then, yes, I think we would have to put them in the third century. You would certainly have trouble finding evidence of any rabbinical 'ordination' until well after everyone accepts that the received gospel stories are stabilized, deep in the second century. You might read a genuine scholar like Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Civilization, to mention one famous work. It used sometimes to be argued that the gospel uses were 'anachronistic' -- rather than, as is frankly obvious, that they are just completely different uses. It turned out that all such arguments turned on totally uncritical approach to the rabbinical sources, of a sort no rational person would take with the gospels. If they were anachronistic, they were a little *too* anachronistic.

    3. I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill, essentially. That Montefiore has used a word anachronistically has already been conceded. That he used the word in the developed sense which refer to is indeterminable from such a casual passing citation.

      Like I said, anachronism aside . . . his point (my point) stands. Paul sure doesn't seem Jewish, with all that Law bashing of his, does he?

      (No matter what Acts, or Maccoby, ,ight say)

      I'll leave it at that.
      I hope you don't keep beating this horse.

    4. Paul's position on the relation between the ethnē and the law given by Moses to the Jews, is exactly the position received in rabbinical Judaism. It is attested in the first century in Paul (and in the so-called 'council of Jerusalem' passage in Acts, wherever it came from) and then it resurfaces in the Rabbis in later centuries, and is maintained down to the present. It is no doubt a perfect example of a pharasaical teaching he was given. Maccoby seems not to have been surrounded by Noahide bumper stickers; these presumably arise only under advanced conditions of political freedom or else of messianic expectation (or both, as in my neighborhood). You are being distracted by the existence of proselyte conversion, which is a special phenomenon mostly related to marriage. It has no messianic content -- or rather, as Paul points out, it is latently anti-messianic, it treats the present period as if it were 'business as usual'.

  8. iota (reprise):
    Paul doesn't just yearn for Noahide instruction into Torah. He outright bashes Law.

  9. What you are missing in this idea of 'law bashing' is the Paul is unrelenting and savage in implementing and enforcing *a quite definite law* upon the Galatians, a strange law, one that is totally alien to them. This is easy to overlook because it is the air we breathe, whether we are for or against this or that aspect of it, and we always misperceive it as 'Christian morality'; in fact its content is 100% Jewish as usual. He is at war on idolatry, on porneia, on violence and all the usual whoredoms characteristic of the heathen, the gentiles, the nations. There will be no more exposure of infants; there will be no more sleeping around; above all there will be no other gods. Keep in mind, this last is the most difficult: these gods, these powers, these daimones, are real on his picture -- this is, again, perfectly in line with everything in the tradition -- and they are desperately fighting back; but like the nations they too are about to be struck by a hammer and forced to 'turn to' J. (Recent essays of Paula Fredricksen have some excellent sentences on the latter point.) Good luck finding anything like this in 'Hellenistic mystery cults' and suchlike phenomena. We have to do, in Paul, with a spectacular, typically wild and dangerous, form of late second temple Judaism in one of its specifically Palestinian subspecies. That many of his old school friends and their children are about to join in schemes so fanatical that they will bring the full crushing weight of the Roman empire, with troops called from as far as Britain, to bring catastrophe on the precincts of Jerusalem, not just once but twice, is no surprise at all. This is the piety we are dealing with. It was the work of the rabbis to expel all of this from the tradition, and to put the nation into a kind of detox. Meanwhile, the rest of the planet got the decadent quasi-idolatrous noahism we know as 'Christianity' -- to put a sort of rabbinical spin on that material too.

  10. The above was supposed to be preceded by this:

    There are two things at work here, the Law and the Messiah. Or rather, those together with Paul's extravagent messianic mysticism, which is as hard to decode as any passage of Nathan of Gaza or Abraham Abulafia.

    Paul does indeed 'bash' the bringing of the nations under the 613 laws of Moses. Indeed he bashes and bashes! Note, first, that this doesn't mean that he doesn't accept and even practice this law. In Galations 5:3 he says, *speaking in his own person*, and *to* his imagined charges, that *they must indeed keep all 613 of the laws given to Moses* ... IF they accept circumcision and become a standard-issue proselytes. This sentence is a *part* of his teaching *to the Galatians*. It immediately entails that the laws of Moses have all the binding force they ever had ... on those whom they bind; this is simply and directly and spectacularly affirmed in this text. He might as well have added ' you have seen I have to do...'; he doesn't bother to add this since the memory of his dangling tzitzit is too fresh in the Galatians' minds. If anyone does it, his advice will surely be: "Now go to Jerusalem and get trained in the details; I've had done with you; remember me at the Temple." The whole idea enrages him of course. First, because the people who are putting this idea in their heads are simply incompetent Jews who themselves didn't study hard enough back in Jerusalem. That he *did* study hard enough back in Jerusalem is (very!) indirectly evidenced by the reappearance more than a century later of just this aspect of his teaching in the shape of the theory of the 'laws' given to Noah. (I don't really mean to rest much on this claim.) Second, it enrages him because his 'mission' is to get 'the nations' to 'turn to God' and to this for specifically messianic-apocalyptic purposes. Proselyte conversion is an individual matter and precisely removes the person from the ethnē. It thus removes the person from Paul's wild mystical-messianic scheme, in which the 'turning' of the nations 'to God' is a crucial element in the movement of cosmic redemption, of the restoration of Israel, of the realization of Hebrew prophecy, etc.

  11. That you have personally found a way to reconcile Paul's Judaism with his anti-Judaism is all well and good, and that is your theological prerogative.

    However, for my part, Paul's insistence that Judaism has been superseded in favor of gentile inclusion is, by definition, a betrayal of Judaism (if not of every variety extant at the time in question, it is certainly a betrayal of Pharisaism). By bashing the law Paul forfeits being a representative of the law. I'm starting to see the hermeneutic lens that you're using somewhat clearer, but I ultimately don't buy it. You are entitled to go accommodate for Paul's "Jewish innovation" for whatever personal reasons you have, but relentless repetition won't compel me accept such creative exegesis.

    That aside for the moment, if your interpretation were correct, it would further highlight the problem of Paul's beef with Jerusalem. I ask, for the third time, how does this illustrate the continuity that I seek between a Yacobian christology and a Pauline one?

  12. "What you are missing in this idea of 'law bashing' is the Paul is unrelenting and savage in implementing and enforcing *a quite definite law* upon the Galatians, a strange law, one that is totally alien to them. This is easy to overlook because it is the air we breathe, whether we are for or against this or that aspect of it, and we always misperceive it as 'Christian morality'; in fact its content is 100% Jewish as usual. He is at war on idolatry, on porneia, on violence and all the usual whoredoms characteristic of the heathen, the gentiles, the nations. There will be no more exposure of infants; there will be no more sleeping around; above all there will be no other gods."

    No other gods? Then who/what exactly is "Kurios Iesous Christos" supposed to be? "Kurios" is the word used to describe the Lord, i.e. God, in the Septuagint that "Paul" exclusively uses.

    "Paul" is in fact preaching two gods, "God the Father" and his son, "Kurios Iesous Christos."

    1. You can say that if you like, but by itself 'kurios' is of course less theological than even 'king'. It is clear Paul has some wild 'metaphysical' views about his coming Israelite world-emperor, but even references to him as the 'son of God' are no help, since this is just an ancient royal title, same as anointed/Christ/messiah is. Certainly Paul thought his messiah should be given all the titles David was given -- at the very least... By the way, why wouldn't Paul use the Septuagint preaching to Greeks, same as Philo of Alexandria did, preaching to Jews? By Jewish tradition it was held to have divine authority, same as the original Hebrew did. The rabbis of course got rid of that idea, but this is one of their distinctive innovations.

  13. Hi Quixie,
    Assuming a priori that Paul's letters are pre-marcionite & marcionite forgeries, that the Marcion's Gospel was the Earliest Gospel (and all what this implies) what do you think about my idea of a genesis of Christianity as reaction (before Jewish, then Marcionite and later Proto-Catholic) basically to Judeo-Alexandrine Gnosis?

    ...Remembering the Odes of Solomon (early II CE) as what more closely is similar to a ''Judeo-Christianity'', i.e. Jews possessed by Spirit of Christ withouth giving him still neither a name (above all names) nor a face.

    Thanks for any reply,

    1. Sorry for the delayed response ... haven't had much time to keep up lately.

      I'm not sure i follow the idea entirely. Have you devoted a blog post to it?

      I'd have to think about it in context to be able to reply properly.

  14. My views is as follows and let me know what you think about (thanks in advance for any reply):

    1) The first 'Joshua' cults were based on the expectation of apocalypse and messianic deliverance and, lke the Essenes, they had a primitive communist form of organisation.

    The Dead Sea Scrolls are not directly linked to Christianity but give a glimpse of the messianic fervour within the revolutionary elements of Jewish society.

    Only Evidence: earliest layers of Book of Revelation (70-95 CE) + the research of Robert Eisenman. There is no evidence in Revelation of a real Jesus, living and preaching in Palestine.

    2) After 70 CE the early Jewish 'Christians' are dispersed out from Judea. Their apocalyptic hopes become via via more spiritualized.

    After 115-117 Kitos War some, though not all, Jews in North Africa reacted to the disruptive effects of the revolts by negating much of their own religious heritage, developing a radical dualistic system influenced by possible affiliations with Jewish intellectuals (who were highly critical of revolutionary forces within Judaism), Jewish Christianity, and Platonism: the gnosis. You can see 2005 book Not Longer Jews of Carl Smith.

    3) 120 CE: Marcion's Church, which became later proto-catholicism, was a spin-off from the syncretism between the Alexandrian Gnosticism and Jewish-Christian Joshua cult already dispersed outside Israel and was completely at odds with the esasperate anti-roman apocalypticism of the primitive Joshua cult. The marcionites produced all original Christian literature ended then in the NT. Paul and Gospel-Jesus were total marcionite inventions of II CE.

    Later the proto-catholicism was successful in the work already begun (but not completed) by Marcion, after co-optation of his literature.

    My problem is the silence of 'pauline epistles' about a Gospel-Jesus. You can see the reply of Stuart Waugh that persuaded me that the marcionite inventors of epistles knew about a Gospel-Jesus but they didn't quote him espliciter because the gospels were still not seen as Scripture per se (Given their controversial nature due to disputes about their acceptation from the beginning of their appearance).

    the fact that the fabricated Epistles only rarely allude - impliciter - to some sayings of Jesus Gospel but don't rely on any other source to prove Jesus'existence ''into the flesh'' (apart from supernatural revelation from God and - in their later catholic redactions - old prophetic scriptures, etc.) shows that Jesus didn't exist beyond any reasonable doubt.

    Thanks for any reply,


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