Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prof. Joan E. Taylor Disagrees with Golb (See her book The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea)

Introduction 

Joan's book published in 2012 could almost have been written in 1995 when Golb produced his work Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Her book shows that confusion still reigns in the minds of many Scroll scholars who still insist that Essenes wrote the Scrolls at Qumran, as she does.   I hope to compare some aspects in both books and occasionally come up with some conclusions of my own.  Among the numerous books that I have read on the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is none that compares to Golb's for the detail of his personal involvement with the history and the characters of it.   


One conclusion I have, is that Joan's Essenes (Josephus's Sicarri) are priests who wrote the Scrolls.  But in reality,  Essenes are prophets.  We will see how the Essenes were given the title as a deliberate misnomer by both Philo and Josephus (or a later editor of their works) to deceive. The confusion has been perpetuated by scholars.  Priests wrote the Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area, as this blog attests.  The 'seekers of smooth things' and the 'wicked priest', mentioned in the Scrolls, were prophets.  The priests who wrote the Scrolls, in particular the pesharim, thought that prophets 'flouted the Law'.  The priests couldn't bring themselves to describe the 'seekers of smooth things' as prophets.  The 'wicked priest' was a priest by inheritance, but converted to the prophets, which was one reason why he was called 'wicked' by the priests.  He was of course Judas Maccabeus, a priest from a family of priests.  For the writers of the New Testament Judas was made synonymous with the disciple who betrayed Jesus.  

We owe our views of Essenes largely to Josephus, a proverbial liar. In his story, Josephus had himself appointed a general leading the charge in Galilee, a place for which there is no archaeological evidence for Vespasian being present.  In this case absence of evidence is evidence.  Joan sets out to define who the Essenes were. But I can find no reference (at least in the Index of Subjects, which is comprehensive) to the ‘seekers of smooth things’ and their leader the ‘wicked priest’. These were the unnamed, deadliest enemies of Joan's Essenes.  So if Joan wishes to define Essenes, she must also define their enemies. 

There are two parties in the Scrolls. One defines the other.  The two groups were poles apart. What one group was, the other was not. Joan's Essenes (the priests) were keen on keeping the whole Jewish law.  For the prophets, the keeping the whole Jewish Law written down by the priests was an irrelevance.  The prophets were interested in following 'the laws of their fathers' passed down probably orally.  The prophets kept the moral part of the law with much less emphasis on the ceremonial.  According to Joan's Essenes, their opponents sought 'smooth things' and 'flouted the Law'.  At one time the 'seekers of smooth things' had a leader who according to the Scrolls was a 'wicked priest'. So we have two questions to answer.  Who were Joan's Essenes who she says were the writers of the scrolls, and keepers of the whole Jewish law?  And who were the 'seekers of smooth things' who 'flouted the Law in the congregation' (as the Scrolls state).  My views are in the second paragraph.  I find it staggering that Joan has nothing to say about the 'seekers of smooth things'.  

And even worse Joan has nothing to say about the way the pesherim, written by her Esseneshad polluted the books of the prophets.  Not that the prophets would have bothered at the time of writing because they were all dead (that is according to most scholars).  I think the prophets were very much alive.  When we read the Scrolls we are getting just one side of the story, the priests view, particularly of 'the seekers of smooth things'.  And you only have to read the War Scroll to realise how zealous and ferocious the writers of the Scrolls were.   No wonder Joan says that Josephus describes them as a military 'battalion' or a military 'order'!  I don't trust Josephus. Most biblical scholars cannot believe what their eyes are telling them.  I approach his writings with a great deal of skepticism.  In any case, I don't believe Josephus was talking about military orders.  While explaining Judaism to his Roman readers, he (rather the original author of Antiquities) had in mind priestly orders, and particularly two (not three), the order of priests and the order of prophets. Joan's Essenes were no military 'order' in the sense of a Roman army.  But they had many characteristics similar to modern day terrorists.  And yes they did occupy Qumran for a short period at the beginning of their revolt, as they did Machaerus and Masada.  


Joan's Chapter 2 - Philo (Prophets turned into Essenes)

Was Philo the Earliest Writer About Prophets?  Philo is apparently a much bigger, cleverer, verbose liar than Josephus.  He takes ten words to say one of Josephus's. For the Embassy to Gaius, Philo has approximately 34,000 words.  Josephus has approximately 3,100 (see Ant.18.8).  That fact alone makes me think that Philo's works were edited by someone who knew the text that was in Josephus's writings.  On page 24, Joan considers that Philo's discussion of Essenes is the earliest extant text, being produced in the middle 20s CE.  This is very strange given that Moses was their legislator.  But much of what Philo has written about so-called 'Essenes' we only know because of a fourth century Christian Bishop, Eusebius, who quotes from 'lost' works of Philo which were probably destroyed deliberately. I cannot help thinking that Philo's works have been edited by a later writer, probably Eusebius.  Did Philo originally write things as he really saw them.  I think he did.  I think he was an honest broker.  For the term Essenes he would have used prophets. Eusebius had a motive for changing the text.  He didn't want to speak about prophets who didn't sacrifice, relied on the Spirit for cleansing, and didn't keep the whole Law, because that would have compromised Christianity.  Not only was Philo infected but also later writers were able to quote Philo as though they were stating facts.       

The Embassy to Gaius - A Pack of Lies  The story about an embassy to Gaius, in both Philo and Josephus was undoubtedly a cover for real events concerning disputes between prophets and resurgent priests who took their protests to king Agrippa.  The Embassy is a fabrication inserted in both author's works. In Ant.18, why would Gaius upset Agrippa (18.8.4) by wanting his statue erected in the temple when he had just given Herod's estate to Agrippa (Ant.18.7)?   The character of Gaius has suddenly been changed from being pro Agrippa to being against Agrippa.  Gaius wanting to erect his statue in the Temple was a complete fabrication.  There was no protest by Alexandrian Jews and Greeks to Gaius.  The characters Apion and Philo suddenly appear out of the blue, as though they were fictitious creations.  And Philo's editor creates that much bigger story.    

Two Natures of Jewish Society  Have you ever wondered why in all of his works Philo has much to say about priests and Essenes (really prophets) yet nothing about Pharisees or Sadducees? Here we see Philo's honesty that he really was talking about priests and prophets.  Philo didn't utter one word about Pharisees and Sadducees.  They obviously didn't exist.  Philo's editor (probably Eusebius) slipped up by not including them. And why does Philo, a Jew living in Egypt, a contemporary of Essenes the priests, recognise Essenes the prophets, as the 'prime example of the outstanding nature of the Jewish religion at least three times', according to Joan on page 22 of her book?   Joan mistakenly writes as though the Jewish religion, at the time of Philo, was of 'one nature'. That may have been true before Judas Maccabeus, but not around the time Philo was writing.  The prophets were ruling the temple, and the priests were exiled from it.   

On page 23, Joan writes that for Philo,  the Essenes, the prophets, "were representative of the whole of Jewish society", and were not "living on the fringes", as most scholars say they were.  Joan's Essenes were priests.  The priests were living living in exile from the temple in Jerusalem and in every town and village.  The prophets were also living in Jerusalem and every village and town, but they were the ones controlling temple worship at the altar of incense.  Animal sacrifices by the priests had been abolished. That is why Joan could write that Josephus states three times (there was probably more occasions originally) that the Essenes (really the prophets) were representative of the whole of Jewish society. I presume she would include Jewish kings also.  Most Jews were then following the prophets. The Hasmoneans, Herod (who had a Hasmonean wife),  the Herodians and Agrippa were following the prophets, not the priests. The priests had been outcasts from the temple since the time of Judas Maccabeus. 

Did Philo write for a Largely Non-Jewish Audience?  On page 23, Joan writes: 'Moses gets a mention as the lawgiver of the Jews (Prob. 29), but - strangely without the same dazzling compliments' which Philo attributes to Greek philosophers.  On page 24, Joan writes that Philo was writing for 'a largely non-Jewish audience skilled in Stoic philosophy'.  But there were large communities of Jews living in Egypt at the time, many of whom probably spoke Greek and had sympathies for the Essenes (the prophets) and Stoic philosophy.  The reason for Moses not being reported in glowing terms by Philo was that Moses was responsible for the Jewish Law which legislated for priests and prophets.  Philo died about 25 years before Vespasian came to power, so unlike Josephus, he was free to speak his mind. 

Where Have the Prophets Gone in History?  Prophets seem to be missing in our considerations.  Where have they gone to?  Were the Essenes in actual fact prophets?  Was the wicked priest descended from a priest, but turned prophet.  Why would prophets be turned into 'Essenes'?  I suggest it was because Josephus was opposed to the very existence of prophets and called them Essenes to obuscate. Josephus made it appear that Essenes had caused the War, saying that they had gone through all sorts of torment by the Romans (War 2.152) under their leader Judas the Galilean (War 2. 118).  This was Josephus fabricating and transposing an account of Judas the Maccabean and the dreadful time the prophets suffered at the hands of Antiochus from Antiquities to his fabricated history of War.  Josephus thus, in effect, shifted the blame for the Jewish revolt from the priests to the prophets in a false account created for War.  

The Essenes were prophets.  Scholars subsequently confused the situation further by calling the writers of the Scrolls, who were priests, Essenes, with an etymology for which there is no Jewish equivalent.  Philo even linked the Essenes' to the Graeco-Roman philosophers. (See pages 24 and 25 of Joan's book).  Philo tells us that Essenes did not sacrifice animals.  Josephus was less explicit.  According to him, the Essenes had 'sacrifices' of their own'.  I suggest those sacrifices were of incense on an altar of incense.  And it wasn't to keep their minds holy, as Philo's editor says (Prob.75), but their spirits pure.    

Philo's Editor a Roman Propagandist  It is clear to me that Philo's Editor was just another Roman propagandist like Josephus. Neither Josephus nor Philo's editor would admit to the existence of prophets. They twisted and obfuscated the meaning of prophets and made them harmless Essenes. The scholars have agreed with them.  They are afraid to question their own belief, whether Christian or Jewish. Josephus or Philo's editor invented the term Essene.  As far as I know, no other Jewish writer used this term.  On line 2 of page 26, Joan implies that all Jews used the term Essene to describe a people that lived among them. This is not true.  There were only two Jews that used the term Essene, Philo's editor and Josephus.     

Joan's Chapter 11 - The Dead Sea Scrolls

A Rapid Deposit
Joan writes on page 302, "With over 4000 Essenes living all over Judea", there would have been hundreds of small libraries."  She was attempting to explain the large number of Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area.  She invites us to believe that these 4000 Essenes were responsible the vast quantity of Scrolls documents, and that Essenes came from all over Judea to dump or hide their precious Scrolls by the Dead sea for no apparent real reason. Naively, she quotes 1QS 6:6 "And where there are ten, they will not lack a man among them who will not study the Law both day and night."  Of course this was the 'Law written down by the priests', but the prophets were interested in the 'the laws of their fathers'.  'The laws of their fathers' were more like recalled traditions which required them, for example, to be out working doing manual work during the day, not staying up day and night. If she wants to play the numbers game, she should think how many priests there were. There were approximately 30,000. They had plenty of time to write and study because they imposed on the people for their sustenance, and it seems begged from the Jewish and Roman authorities with written contracts.  When 1QS 6.6 was written, the priests were living in exile from the temple. From the time of Judas Maccabeus they had no temple duties to bother about.  

She claims (see pages 276 and 277) a strong linkage between natural Caves 1Q-3Q, 6Q and 11Q with the site of Qumran.    This she says was because in these caves, the type of jar used to put the scrolls in was the same type as found in the site itself.  She ignores the fact, as do most Qumranologists including De Vaux, that Qumran was a site for the manufacture of pottery.  When the rebel priests occupied Qumran by force (as they did Masada), they found jars in which they could preserve their Scrolls.  The rebel priests probably knew in advance that pottery was to be found there.  Golb says something similar.  He says that those who wished to hide the scrolls could have asked the locals for help.  (See Golb:Page 30, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls). 

Further she writes on page 277, "We also have a strong linkage of the artificial marl Caves 4Q, 5Q, 7Q-10Q since they lie within the occupation area of the Qumran settlement."  In other words a resident of Qumran would have been well aware of them.  Again the rebels would have been quick to hide their Scrolls in these Caves, particularly if they had filled up others further away..  It seems from her book that the scrolls in these Caves were less secure and were not placed in Jars for preservation.  The rebels probably ran out of time and space and would have used the Caves as a last resort.  

Her comments (pages 276 and 277) are wiped out by the fact that no fragments of the massive number of texts were found in the Qumran site itself.  And as Golb says, in effect, on page 61 of his book, no geographic terminology has been found in the texts that indicate a connection with the site, and even more widely no connection with places of habitation in the Judaean wilderness.  In the 1960's Golb had expected that de Vaux, with his knowledge of the site, would have in some way demonstrated decisively a link between the nearby Caves and the site.  Golb was thinking that perhaps de Vaux and his other workers had found some decisive inscriptional or pottery evidence of such a link.                

According to Golb, more than 500 scribal hands, or copyist's styles (none are original), are represented in the Scrolls found near Qumran. (See page 154 of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  It was from the pool of 30,000 priests that the 500 scribal copyists must have come.  It is highly improbable that 4000 Essenes could have produced 500 people with the necessary scribal skills.  Golb further says, on page 154, that the Scrolls could only have come from libraries in Jerusalem.  They were documents of the priests who had been barred from the temple.  These documents had been collected by Aggripa and stored in his archives. 

Joan attempts to link the scrolls and the caves in which they were kept, to the long term residence of Essenes at Qumran.  Back in 1970, Golb was questioning a number of people including Yigael Yadin and W.F. Albright, saying that "no legal documents were found in Qumran". Golb was referring to the type of documents that any organisation produces in its day to day running.  Albright (a believer in the Essene hypothesis) wrote to Golb, "Essenes must have had very important community documents, such as deeds, leases, wills and official letters to other leaders of the Essene world."  None have ever been found apart from the Copper Scroll, and some seemingly insignificant framents.  This is a big hole in Joan's argument. 

Golb has shown that in a site that contained an Essene community for a long time, as described by Joan in her book, there should have been legal documents which reflect the activity of the movement.  On page 60 of his book, Golb writes:"In 1982, however tiny fragments of what appear to be four or five documentary texts from the caves were published.  Thereafter, small portions of fifteen documents were included among the Photographs of the unpublished texts that appeared in 1991.  These latter texts, as well as they could be understood by 1994, appear to consist of accounts of grain sales, lists of witnesses, and deeds of purchase; there may also be an acknowledgement of debt from the reign of Herod (ruled 37-4 B.C), and an act of ownership dating to the reign of Tiberias Caesar (ruled 14-37 A.D.)  They all reflect the private ownership of goods and property, a fact basically inconsistent with the principles of communal ownership laid down in the Manual of Discipline."  So these documents have no connection with the site of Qumran. But they were taken along with other documents by priests from Jerusalem, and from a particular place (Agrippa's archives in Jerusalem) before they set fire to them (War 2:427).  These documentary texts clearly escaped the fire, probably accidentally in their hurry to bring them over to Qumran.  They are extremely like the sort of texts which Josephus speaks about.  These were about contracts which the 'Sicarri' (had made with their creditors. The 'Sicarri' hoped to avoid having to settle them.  War 2.427: "after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were deposited, and hurried to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors, and thereby to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts."  Of course Josephus is silent about who owed what to whom, which speaks volumes.  The priests had been disenfranchised from the time of Judas Maccabeus.  No money was coming from the temple.  Immediately before the fire in the archives, the priests burnt the palaces of Agrippa and Bernice (and supposedly the house of Ananias the so-called high priest - no high priest had been appointed since the time of Judas Maccabeus).  Ananias has been brought into the story in preparation for his supposed death with his brother Hezekiah at the hands of the 'Sicarri' whilst hiding in an aqueduct (War 2.441).  The real person hiding was King Agrippa.  The intervening story (War 2.433 to 441) about Menahem the so-called son of Judas the Galilean and the Romans is a fabricated insertion.  In their haste it seems that the rebel priests let some of the contracts slip through the net and they finished up at Qumran. This I believe was along with the vast quantity of Scroll materials from Agrippa's archives. These were not sorted and could have contained all sorts of manuscripts.         

The deposits are so large and randomly distributed among the caves that those storing them must have been overwhelmed by the quantity.  Those who concealed the manuscripts expected at some stage to recover them.  As Joan says, all the manuscripts were not preserved in Jars.  The deposits have all the hallmarks of being done hurriedly.  She struggles to give a reason for hiding these scrolls.  The manuscripts were clearly readable and usable when they were deposited near the Dead Sea.  They came from Agrippa I's archives which the priests set fire to after they murdered him.  Agrippa had gathered up the priests manuscripts from wherever they were produced and kept them under lock and key.  He intended to use the scrolls as evidence. It was also to prevent their messianic message being spread.  In his account (War 2.441), Josephus substituted the name of a so-called high priest Ananias for king Agrippa who in reality, was killed by the priests, after being found hiding in an aqueduct.  At the same time, (see War 2.433), Josephus obfuscates and says 'Judas the Galilean' took 'some men of note' with him and broke into 'King Herod's armoury'.  This was the start of the priests rebellion against the king and the king's forces, with an attack on Masada.  Romans were nowhere in sight. The 'men of note' were priests.  'King Herod's' armoury was king Agrippa's. Judas the Galilean was a substitute, probably for Ananus the son Ananias.             

Rengstorf was nearly right when he said that the Scrolls came from the temple and that they were authored by priests (see pages 161-2, Golb: Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  Golb: Rengstorf rightly said that a number of the texts did give prominence to the priests who described themselves as sons of Zadok, unlike Joan, who makes a link between the Essenes and the site of Qumran. In her book, I cannot see any reference to the sons of Zadok or even to priests.  So who does she think wrote the Temple Scroll, if not priests keen on animal sacrifice?  But they were not stored in the temple because that was occupied and controlled by the prophets.  The prophets would have considered them as polluting.   After the death of the king, the priests raided Agrippa's archives, took their Scrolls, and probably a great quantity of other manuscripts.  These included the Copper Scroll, a record of treasure which the priests stole in the time of Judas Maccabeus.     

Archaeological evidence shows that Qumran was destroyed by a Roman army.  Strangely Josephus does not appear to cover this event (Josephus edited Nero's true war record to give the impression that the invasion occurred in another place, ie Jotapata in Galilee. (See my post - The Roman Attack on Judea in the Summer of 66 CE ). In 66 CE, the Roman army, under the command of Nero, attacked the rebel priests, who had occupied Qumran, Machaerus and Masada.  Nero was to take his revenge for the murder of his friends.  

There are only three places where there is archaeological evidence of Roman attacks in Judea during the first century: Qumran, Masada and Machaerus. (There is no such evidence of an attack on Jerusalem.)  The priests had captured these fortresses from their Idumean and Herodian guards. The Roman's took these fortresses simultaneously in the Autumn of 66 CE (see my Post The 'Circumvallation' Wall at Masada).  The Roman strategy was to hit these fortresses hard and take them by storm in a matter of days.         

           

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all Fabricated

Jesus did not exist, and never existed, but was invented, as this blog attests. See raphaelgolb.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-asor-blog-mark-goodacre-bible.html.  Christianity is thus wrong.  Muhammad thought Jesus existed, and referred to him on numerous occasions in the Koran as a historical character. Muhammad and thus Islam were wrong. The fabrication of Islam is described in my post: Proof That Muhammed Was A False Prophet Because Jesus Never Existed. It is very important to humanity to get hold of this. This applies to all religions.  They are all fabricated by man.  

The Jewish religion is also fabricated and thus wrong. Up to the time of Judas Maccabeus, prophets and priests were co-existing, the priests sacrificing animals and the prophets sacrificing incense, each on their own distinct altars. The law of Moses prevailed with legislation for priests and prophets.  The priests developed a hatred for the prophets saying that they flouted the law.  With the help of Antiochus, the priests tried to impose animal sacrifice on the prophets who rejected it.  Judas, a prophet, but of priestly descent, came along and kicked the priests out of the temple.  The prophets were then in control of the Jewish religion.  The whole law of Moses was no longer applied.  Under the prophets, the spirit of God was considered the cleansing agent.  Then the only sacrifices were of incense in the sanctuary of the temple.  Animal sacrifice ceased after Judas destroyed the altar for burning sacrificed animals.   Obedience of the law was rejected by the prophets who followed the spirit of God. This situation remained through the time of the Maccabeans and the Herodians.  The priests living in exile from the temple were constantly sniping at the prophets trying to bring back animal sacrifice in a new temple.  The priests believed that sacrifice of animals was necessary to receive cleansing.  Around 64-65 CE, the priests brought about a civil revolt, killed king Agrippa (I), and raided his archives to get their Scrolls.  They then set fire to the archives, and took their Scrolls in a mad scramble to deposit them in caves in the Judean desert.  They occupied at least three Herodian fortresses.  These included Qumran, Machaerus and Masada.  With a rapidly deteriorating situation, Nero gathered a large army, sailed for Judea, and defeated the rebellious priests in 66 CE.

Later, the Jewish religion was reinvented again.  The Jewish rabbis, descended from the priests, and the Romans, eliminated the prophets, both literally and from the historical records.  They edited Antiquities, an existing history of the Jews up to the time of Agrippa I, and used a Jewish priest Josephus to pretend that he was supposedly the original author. Before that, they got Josephus to write a fabricated and glamorised version of the so-called war of the Jews against the Romans under one of Nero's original generals, Vespasian, who had seized power five or six years later in around 71/72 CE.  The time of 66 to 71/72 was a period of piece.  This time has been dubbed the five years of the revolt.  




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Copper Scroll - Archaeological Evidence for the Jewish Priests being Kicked out of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus

Antiochus Robs the Temple (A First Fabricated Attack)

"On his return from the conquest of Egypt in the year 143 (that is 169 B.C.), Antiochus marched with a strong force against Israel and Jerusalem.  In his arrogance he entered the temple and carried off the golden altar, the lamp-stand with all its equipment, the table for the bread of the presence, the sacred cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, and the crowns.  He stripped off all the gold plating from the temple front.  He seized the silver, gold and precious vessels, and whatever secret treasures he found, and took them all with him when he left for his own country.  He had caused much bloodshed, and he gloated over all he had done."  (I Mac. 1:20-24).

The parallel story in Antiquities 12:246 and 247 is revealing.  "King Antiochus returning out of Egypt for fear of the Romans, made an expedition against the city Jerusalem; and when he was there, in the hundred and forty-third year of his the kingdom of the Seleucids, he took the city without fighting, those of his own party party opening the gates to him.  And when he had got possession of Jerusalem, he killed many of the opposite party; and when he had plundered it of a great deal of money, he returned to Antioch." 

On page 25 of his commentary on Maccabees, Barclay contradicts the above passage in I Mac.  He says "there was NO bloodshed in Jerusalem on this occasion".  Perhaps he says this because the passage in Antiquities says that he took the city without fighting.   The short passage gives no reason for Antiochus's attack.  Also Antiochus has apparently attacked Jerusalem immediately after a supposed conquest of Egypt. (Ant.12.244).  In fact he had actually been driven out of Egypt after defeat by Ptolemy's forces at Alexandria.  His withdrawal because of a supposed declaration of the Romans (Ant.12.244) and out of fear of the Romans (Ant.12.246) was later anti-Greek Roman propaganda.  After a defeat, any attack on Jerusalem seems extremely unlikely. Then according I Mac.1.24, he simply left for his own country, and that without saying a word to the priests who were to later appeal for his help.  This passage absolutely smacks of fabrication.  I suggest that it was the priests who took all of these treasures at a time when they knew that the Maccabeans (Mattathias, Judas and siblings) were coming to kick them out of the temple.  And it was the priests who wrote the copper scroll saying where they had buried the treasure.  Thus Josephus (a priest) and Roman historians created the story and blamed Antiochus for stealing the Temple treasure.

According to Antiquities (12.248), two years later Antiochus came again.  

The Migdal Stone - Archaeological Evidence for the Prophets Rejection of the Law at the time of Judas Maccabeus

The Migdal Stone (Found in a Synagogue in Magdala, Gallilee)

The tradition of burning incense away from the temple has its origin in the reign of Antiochus. Antiochus wanted to unify worship across his dominions so that everyone should only offer sacrifice of animals.  This was in agreement with his friends, the Jewish priests who were at loggerheads with the prophets. Antiochus's command to Mattathias was to not offer burning of incense.  "Worship of God" (Ant.12.6.2) was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense. This altar was removed by Antiochus with the co-operation of the priests.  The prophets having lost their altar in the sanctuary, resorted to burning incense in every town of Judea on temporary altars - they refused to give up the "worship of God". The propaganda of 1 Maccabees 1.54 calls them idol altars which were supposedly established by Antiochus's forces. They were altars of incense, not idol altars.

In Mac. 1:54, who was offering incense at the doors of houses, throughout the towns of Judea, if it wasn't Jews? Isn't this like the Jews watching the burning of incense at the opening of the sanctuary, during a festival.  They were also offering incense in the streets.  You have to credit these people with an advanced sense of God's presence everywhere.

There were supposed to be no Jews living in Magdala until the end of the second century BCE. Antiochus's persecution began in approximately 167 BCE. This led to many Jews being scattered. The current migrant crisis is a reminder of what persecuted communities do.   There is every possibility that a Jewish community established itself in Magdala shortly after 167 BCE. Mattathias taught his people to defend themselves, whereas they had been reluctant to do so.

The stone was easily transportable. A rough estimate from drawings is that the stone has dimensions of about 50 x 50 cm at the top and a height of 40 cm. Such a stone could have been made well before the synagogue was built.  Also it could have been hidden easily from Antiochus's troops. They had, in effect, a portable sanctuary - an altar with all the markings that represented the sanctuary.

The Migdal stone was all about the sanctuary, not the Temple as a whole. The symbols on the stone show no connection with animal sacrifices.  Animals were sacrificed outside the sanctuary.  The relation between the symbols and the sanctuary proper is very strong.  Some scholars think that the stone was an altar of incense. Was it one of the "idol" altars of 1 Maccabees?

At the dished top of the Migdal stone are two "palm trees".  They are probably symbols of Israels fruitfulness.  Also at the top is a symbol of an incense flower, linking the Stone to an incense altar.  The side views represent the curtains of the sanctuary.  They divide the sanctuary into its two compartments, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The two circular objects I take, were at one end of the Holy Place. If they are at one end of the Holy Place (it is difficult to tell from drawings at which end of the stone these circular shapes are) then I have to assume they were something to do with the sanctuary worship. Given the serious symbolism on the stone I doubt that the two circles were symbolic of the more mundane rings for transportation. (See the text below on Jeusus and the Temple by James Charlesworth).  

1 Mac. 1:56 following on has: "All scrolls of the law which were found were torn up and burnt." This further propaganda would have us believe that Antiochus's forces did this. I suggest that Antiochus's forces were not responsible for tearing up the books of the law.  Mattathias's community were the culprits. This was a final break-up of the Jewish nation into two parties, essentially the priests and the prophets. The priests mocked and scorned the prophets greatly in their peshers of the Scrolls. Mattathias's community reacted, came to reject the law, and tore up the scrolls of the law, basically the Pentateuch.

The priests had approached Antiochus for his help in putting down the prophetic community who they regarded as "seekers of smooth things". The priests with Antiochus's troops put to death women their babies and their families. The propaganda has it for fulfilling the law. They welcomed death. Does this remind you of Josephus's "Essenes".  Essenes do not exist anywhere in the Scrolls. In Josephus they have been interpolated artificially back in time.  I suggest it was for disobeying the law established by the priests that people were but to death. 

Jesus and the Temple (Edited by 
James Charlesworth)

In chapter 5 of Jesus and Temple. Mordechai Aviam makes some very interesting observations on ritual bathing, stone vessels, clay oil lamps, synagogues, the Migdal stone and its interpretation, and the Gamla coin. "The earliest synagogues dated so far are the first phase of the synagogue at Modin, which is dated to the Hasmonean period, and the synagogue at the Royal Hasmonean palace in Jericho." (See Chap.5, page 131).  

All his comments seem to me to be about prophets and what prophets were interested in, which was purity of spirit and worship in the Spirit. 

Aviam links the two “palm trees” on the top of the dished Migdal stone to two rakes. He says that these were used to rake the ash and burnt bones from the main altar. But the “palm trees” would be useless for raking large animal bones.  The depiction of rakes seems mundane and of no deep significance compared to the rest of the imagery. The two "palm trees" were symbolic of actual palm trees; they were symbols of Israel's fruitfulness.   I suggest that the Migdal stone was all about the sanctuary and the altar of incense which was kept burning 24 hours a day.  The rose shaped symbol also on the dished top of the stone, was symbolic of the incense flower. Aviam says (See Fig. 5.6 on page 134)  that the "two rings"  symbolised at the end of each long side are two containers that held fresh incense to replenish that burnt on the altar. 

On page 125, Aviam says that the main reason for the creation of mikvaot was “the establishment of a powerful, aggressive and expanding Jewish kingdom, creating an enlarged territory that should be populated in a short period of time with new Jewish villages and towns.” This period started with the Maccabean-Hasmonean revolt.  He doesn't say why the revolt started?  In fact he doesn't even talk about the Maccabean-Hasmonean revolt, as though the mikveh were nothing to do with it. This was the start of a period of revolution, a pivotal and seismic moment for Jewish beliefs which became fundamentally prophetic.   

On page 125, Aviam admits "I am convinced that ... there were religious, social and cultural components in the creation of mikvaot".  But he sees this as being just a development in Judaism for Jews in general and not a drastic change in religious belief brought about by a particular group.  He doesn't ask the question, why did the mikvaot die out?  On the same page, Aviam describes the mikveh as a “portable purification installation". Anyone could immerse in a mikveh and be reckoned pure, and Jewish.  This was without the involvement of priests and animal sacrifices. Mikveh were everywhere.  The mikveh could not easily be removed.  In support Aviam cites Baumgarten and Cohn.  He says " both Joseph Baumgarten and Steve Cohn have suggested that many religious traditions and customs were first established during the Hasmonean reign".  But the so-called 'religious traditions' and 'customs' were radical changes in the beliefs of most Jews at the time.  

The mikveh at the fortress of Qumran were used by the Hasmonean and Herodian soldiers who had kept guard. Qumran was captured by priests for a short time around 65 CE when they revolted. These priests would not have been at all interested in the mikvaot.  They would not have used the mikvaot because they believed that only animal sacrifice could make people pure.   The same is true of all the other mikveh found at other fortresses such as Masada or the Mikveh found at the Hasmonean palace at Jericho.  Mikvaot would have been used by Hasmoneans who followed the philosophy of Judas Maccabeus.  On page 124, Aviam says "the mikveh at Queen Naphtali (see Fig.5.1) has a special importance as it is not in a private home or a rich palace but in a military structure that was used only by soldiers".  So who does he think used the mikvaot at Qumran and Masada if not soldiers?   

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Source of Christianity - Judas Maccabeus (And why Judas was made the betrayer of Jesus)


Introduction


Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus came on the scene at a critical turning point in Judean history and belief.  They changed dramatically what it meant to be a Jew, turning the very meaning of what it meant to be cleansed before God upside down.  This change in religion resulted in a number of events.  The Jewish kingdom was enlarged in a powerful militaristic way, and new Jewish villages and towns were populated in an enlarged territory in a short space of time.  Jewish stones (altars) like the Migdal Stone appeared as did the more frequently observed Jewish Mikvaot and Synagogues.  The principal cause was the change in religious philosophy.  

Some of the words in the above I owe to Mordechai Aviam (writing in Chapter 5 of Jesus and Temple edited by James Charlesworth). But I think Aviam was fundamentally wrong.    

Antiochus was Defeated when He Attacked Alexandria in Egypt

Antiochus Epihanes wanted to be king of Egypt as well as Syria.  1 Mac. 1.17-19: "He assembled a powerful force of chariots, elephants, and cavalry, and a great fleet, and invaded Egypt.  When battle was joined, Ptolemy king of Egypt was seized with panic and took to flight, leaving many dead.  The fortified towns were captured and the land pillaged." Then very strangely, there is no consolidation of his apparent victory.   

1 Mac.20,21 continues: "On his return from the conquest of Egypt, in the year 143, Antiochus marched with a strong force against Israel and Jerusalem.  In his arrogance, he entered the temple (actually the sanctuary) and carried off the golden altar, the lamp-stand with all its equipment, the table for the Bread of the Presence, the sacred cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain and the crowns.  He stripped off all the gold plating from the temple front.  He seized the silver, gold, and precious vessels, and whatever secret treasures he found, and took them all with him when he left for his own country.  He had caused much bloodshed, and he gloated over all he had done."   

The writer of 1 Mac. does not give a reason for Antiochus's attack, nor details of those he had killed.  The reader is left to assume that Antiochus's motive was purely greed.  But was it?  Was there something else going on?  I suggest there was no attack. The above text was taken from a later account.  The priests came under threat by Judas Maccabeus and were kicked out of the temple.  Knowing what Judas would do, they took what they could and buried it in various places as recorded in the extant Copper Scroll.    

Antiochus Turns on the Prophets in Jerusalem

According to the protestant Old Testament text, Daniel 11.31 has: "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."  

The Scrolls version of Daniel 11.31 has: "Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and and shall do away with the continual burnt offering; and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate." 

The Scrolls version makes no mention of sacrifice, but does refer to continual burnt offering. The continual burnt offering was the burning of incense by the prophets on the altar of incense in the sanctuary.  This was not a daily sacrifice but a continual 24 hour offering. The smoke that came up from the fire was thought of as God's constant presence.  Here the Scrolls version is closer to original Daniel.  The protestant Old Testament text has been tampered with.  Antiochus abolished the altar of incense. He tried to abolish the prophets but did not succeed. 

The Septuagint version of Daniel 11:31 is revealing.  It has: "And seeds shall spring up out of him, and they shall profane the sanctuary, and they shall remove the perpetual sacrifice, and make the abomination desolate."  Here Antiochus's target of profanation is not the temple fortress nor the temple and fortress, but the location of the altar of incense, the sanctuary.  But we have the perpetual "sacrifice".  According to Josephus, the 'Essenes', really the prophets, had their own 'sacrifices'.  Well we know what they were.  They were sacrifices or offerings on the altar of incense.        

Judas restored the Altar of Incense

(1)The Account in Josephus (12.7.6)

"When therefore, he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread,] and the altar [of incense,] which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them.  He also took down the altar [of burnt offering,] and built a new one of stones that he gathered together, and not of such as hewn with iron tools." 

The square brackets are not mine; they are in Josephus. 

(2)The Account in I Maccabees (4:41-50)

"He selected priests without blemish, devoted to the law, and they purified the temple, removing to an unclean place the stones which defiled it.  They discussed what to do with the altar of burnt-offering, which was profaned, and rightly decided to demolish it, for fear it might become a standing reproach to them because it had been defiled by the Gentiles. They therefore pulled down the altar, and stored away the stones in a fitting place on the temple hill, until a prophet should arise who could be consulted about them. They took unhewn stones, as the law commands, and built a new altar on the model of the previous one. They rebuilt the temple and restored its interior, and consecrated the temple courts. They renewed the sacred vessels and the lamp-stand, and brought the altar of incense and the table into the temple. They burnt incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lamp-stand to shine within the Temple. When they had put the Bread of Presence on the table and hung the curtains, all their work was completed."


I Maccabees 4.46 has: “They therefore pulled down the altar, and stored away the stones in a fitting place on the temple hill, until a prophet should arise who could be consulted about them.”  Why should they have "stored away" the stones of the altar for the future when they were supposed to be polluting?  Why should the writer expect that a prophet might "arise" later and “be consulted” about the stones?  A prophet would have had no interest in these rejected impure “stones” of the altar.  The stones were 'impure' because the priests had burned sacrificed animals on them.  Judas simply got rid of the altar for sacrificing animals.

Judas is is supposed to have detailed his troops to engage those in the citadel adjoining the temple.  This is a fiction.  Any Syrian soldiers and priests must have fled well before Judas's arrival.  Judas would have detailed his soldiers to remove the altar upon which animals had been sacrificed.  This would have been done first as in 1 Maccabees. (In Josephus's shorter account, the altar for sacrifice of animals is removed second, after the new altar of incense has been brought into the sanctuary.)  Thus there were no priests to remove the altar used for sacrifice of animals.   Talk of a prophet arising later is pure propaganda.   Judas and and his family were prophets or priests converted to prophets.  And why would a prophet want to consult the unhewn stones which were considered impure.  I suggest that the “stones” alluded to were the ones from the high priests breastplate which the prophets would have “consulted”. The prophets were alive and kicking and not dying out.   

Emphasis on the Law is Later Propaganda (1 Mac.4.41-54)

Mention of "priests without blemish, devoted to the law" (1 Mac.4.42) is the propaganda of later first century Jewish writers.  The propaganda includes phrases like: "They took unhewn stones as the law commands" (1 Mac.4.47); "sacrifice was offered as the law commands" (1 Mac.4.53).  Within the space of 10 or 11 verses we are greeted with an over-emphasis on the law.  The writer or editor wanted to create the impression that this was all done according to the Law.  The whole passage is permeated with propaganda.  

The Copper Scroll - Archaeological Evidence for the Jewish Priests being Kicked out of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus 



The Migdal Stone (Found in a Synagogue in Magdala, Gallilee)

The tradition of burning incense away from the temple has its origin in the reign of Antiochus. Antiochus wanted to unify worship across his dominions so that everyone should only offer sacrifice of animals.  This was in agreement with his friends, the Jewish priests who were at loggerheads with the prophets. Antiochus's command to Mattathias was to not offer burning of incense.  "Worship of God" (Ant.12.6.2) was what the prophets did in the sanctuary at the altar of incense. This altar was removed by Antiochus with the co-operation of the priests.  The prophets having lost their altar in the sanctuary, resorted to burning incense in every town of Judea on temporary altars - they refused to give up the "worship of God". The propaganda of 1 Maccabees 1.54 calls them idol altars which were supposedly established by Antiochus's forces. They were altars of incense, not idol altars.

In Mac. 1:54, who was offering incense at the doors of houses, throughout the towns of Judea, if it wasn't Jews? Isn't this like the Jews watching the burning of incense at the opening of the sanctuary, during a festival.  They were also offering incense in the streets.  You have to credit these people with an advanced sense of God's presence everywhere.

There were supposed to be no Jews living in Magdala until the end of the second century BCE. Antiochus's persecution began in approximately 167 BCE. This led to many Jews being scattered. The current migrant crisis is a reminder of what persecuted communities do.   There is every possibility that a Jewish community established itself in Magdala shortly after 167 BCE. Mattathias taught his people to defend themselves, whereas they had been reluctant to do so.

The stone was easily transportable. A rough estimate from drawings is that the stone has dimensions of about 50 x 50 cm at the top and a height of 40 cm. Such a stone could have been made well before the synagogue was built and brought from elsewhere.  Also it could have been hidden easily from Antiochus's troops. They had, in effect, a portable sanctuary - an altar with all the markings that represented the sanctuary.

The Magdala stone was all about the sanctuary, not the Temple as a whole. The symbols on the stone show no connection with animal sacrifices.  Animals were sacrificed outside the sanctuary.  The relation between the symbols and the sanctuary proper is very strong.  Some scholars think that the stone was an altar of incense. Was it one of the "idol" altars of 1 Maccabees?

At the top are two palm trees.  The side views represent the curtains of the sanctuary,
They divide the sanctuary into its two compartments, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The two circular objects which I take are at one end of the Holy Place. If they are at one end of the Holy Place (it is difficult to tell from drawings at which end of the stone these circular shapes are) then I have to assume they were something to do with the sanctuary worship. Given the serious symbolism on the stone I doubt that the two circles were symbolic of the more mundane rings for transportation.

1 Mac. 1:56 following on has: "All scrolls of the law which were found were torn up and burnt." This further propaganda would have us believe that Antiochus's forces did this. I suggest that Antiochus's forces were not responsible for tearing up the books of the law.  Mattathias's community were the culprits. This was a final break-up of the Jewish nation into two parties, essentially the priests and the prophets. The priests mocked and scorned the prophets greatly in their peshers of the Scrolls. Mattathias's community reacted, came to reject the law, and tore up the scrolls of the law, basically the Pentateuch.


The priests had approached Antiochus for his help in putting down the prophetic community who they regarded as "seekers of smooth things". The priests with Antiochus's troops put to death women their babies and their families. The propaganda has it for fulfilling the law. They welcomed death. Does this remind you of Josephus's "Essenes".  Essenes do not exist anywhere in the Scrolls. In Josephus they have been interpolated artificially back in time.



Daniel

Daniel is written as though it predicts the events it describes.  Of course we know in reality that it didn't.  According to page 482 of the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich, Daniel was written in about 165 BCE, which was after those events.  And the eight scrolls of Daniel found in the Judean desert at Qumran were copies made in times from 125 BCE to 50 CE.  These scrolls are written partially in Hebrew and partially in Aramaic, attesting (according to Abegg et al) to the lateness of the writing. 

I suggest that scriptures were being written by prophets after the date of approximately 165 BCE, the exact time of the rise of the Maccabeans.  At this time, the prophets were considered by the priests (in the Scrolls) as "seekers of smooth things".  The situation between priests and prophets had rapidly deteriorated. The priests were thrown out of the temple by Judas a supporter of the prophets.  Animal sacrifice was abolished by Judas.  The priests were living in towns and villages away from Jerusalem and the temple.  They thought of themselves as being outcasts and were akin to the modern day Taliban believing in violence. The priests would have naturally rejected any scripture originated by the prophets. The prophets were then occupying the temple, worshipping God at the altar of incense, and "in" with their Hasmonean rulers.  They would have continued writing scripture in opposition to the priests, just as the priests opposed the prophets in the Scrolls originated in Jerusalem and found in the Judean desert and at Qumran.  

So, why at the precise time of Judas did prophecy apparently cease so that no scriptures were produced?  It was all to do with later Roman and Jewish propaganda produced later between 70 CE and 200 CE approximately.  

During the first century the prophets were hunted down by Vespasian.  800 or so prophets were taken to Rome for his triumph.  The rest were pursued mercilessly.  The killing was later attributed to Nero who was supposed to have persecuted 'christians'.  It was the Flavians who persecuted the CHRISTIANOS - latin for the anointed ones, or the prophets, many of whom had moved to Italy. The scriptures the prophets had written were taken by Vespasian's forces under Titus from the temple.  The prophets had defended the temple.  It was overcome by Titus who stripped it of all its gold to establish the Flavian dynasty.  Attacking temples was unknown among the Romans up to that time.

I Maccabees is biased against prophets.  Chapter 9:27 has: "It was a time of great affliction for Israel, worse than any since the day when prophets ceased to appear among them." Prophets are mentioned deliberately in Maccabees as though they ceased to exist around the time of 165 BC.

I Maccabees 9.54-56 has: "In the second month of the year 153, Alcimus gave orders for the wall of the inner court of the temple to be demolished, thereby destroying the work of the prophets. But at the moment when he began the demolition, Alcimus had a stroke, which put a stop to his activities.  Paralysed, and with his speech impaired, he could not utter a word or give final instructions about his property.  Thus he died in great torment."  

Here the prophets are in existence, but the editor creates a possible cause for their decline, when really this was a clash between the pro Syrian high priest Alcimus (with his fellow priests and troops), and the prophets. The prophets had built a wall to keep Alcimus and his troops, and Bacchides and his troops, out of Jerusalem.  Alcimus's 'stroke' at the 'moment he began the demolition' was more than likely wounds he received from the prophets as a result of the battle. Alcimus's intention was to "destroy the work of the prophets".  But Alcimus had his 'stroke' when he began his demolition of the wall, so he didn't succeed in destroying the wall.  The prophets had the victory.  9.57 has "On learning that Alcimus was dead, Bacchides returned to the king, and for two years Judea had peace."  Bacchides was Antiochus's general who retreated to Syria presumably with his troops, proof that the prophets had won the day.  The battle over the wall was a much bigger affair than portrayed. 

The prophets hated animal sacrifice.  It was Alcimus's intention to destroy the prophets with Antiochus's help.  Antiochus was pro animal sacrifice.  He intended to help the priests by keeping the altar for burnt offerings of animals and to seek vengeance on the prophets by taking the golden altar of incense used by the prophets out of the temple.  This altar was kept alight all the time.  It was the later removal of the altar of incense (the altar of the presence of God) that became the Abomination of Desolation to the original author of Daniel, a prophet.  

With sacrifice of animals abolished, Judas could purge the temple. The altar for burnt offerings was demolished and thrown away on a rubbish tip. This was all blamed by later Jewish and Roman writers post 70 CE on Antiochus's persecution of the Jews.  Judas, according to the priests who wrote the Scrolls found in the Judean desert, was a wicked priest .   Later writers (1 Maccabees and Josephus) changed him to a national hero. The post 70 CE priests (Josephus being one of them) in conjunction with their then Roman friends wanted to remove all trace of prophets after 165 BCE from their history.  Judas as a betrayer of Jewish priests was preserved in another story as the one who betrayed Jesus.  

                           

Monday, March 28, 2016

Messages for Larry Hurtado

"Law" Statistics (Oct 30 2016) (https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/law-statistics/#comments)

Larry claims that "law" occurs 56 times in Romans.  I say that originally it probably didn't occur once.
I wrote to Larry's blog, "Larry, original Romans was not written to Romans but to the prophets of Jerusalem, writing from Rome. It was not about law versus faith in Christ, but sacrifice versus obedience of the Spirit. Romans 4 is divided into two clear sections. 4.1 to 4.11 is basically original. Here cleansing is (originally) credited to God when you obey his Spirit. Moses received the seal of God’s Spirit (the I Am) before he sacrificed (Ex.3.19). In the second section, 4.12 to 4.24, Paul develops his ideas of God crediting righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Paul edits and expands an original prophetic document" - which said nothing about Jewish Law.

This is certainly something that demands a response from Larry.

Chapter 4

MOSES NOT CLEANSED BY SACRIFICE BUT BY THE SPIRIT

4.1.What then shall we say that [Abraham] {Moses} [, our forefather,] discovered in this matter?

4.2. If, in fact, [Abraham] {Moses} was [justified] {cleansed} by [works] {sacrifice}, he had something to boast about — but not before God.

4.3.[What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”]

4.4. Now when a [man] {priest} [works] {sacrifices}, his [wages] {cleansing} [are] {is} not credited to [him] {God} as a gift, but as an obligation.

4.5.However, to the [man] {prophet} who does not [work] {sacrifice}, but [trusts] {obeys} [God] {the Spirit} who [justifies] {cleanses} the [wicked} {impure}, his [faith] {cleansing} is credited {to God} [as righteousness].

4.6.[David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
4.7.”Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
4.8.Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
4.9.Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?
We have been saying that Abraham’s]

{Moses’} [faith] {cleansing} was credited to [him as righteousness] {God}.

4.10.Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he [was circumcised] {sacrificed}, or before? It was not after, but before!

4.11.And he received

the [sign of the circumcision,

a] seal of the [righteousness] {Spirit}

[that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised]

{before he sacrificed}.

So then, he is the father of all who [believe] {obey the Spirit} but have not [been circumcised] {sacrificed}, in order that [righteousness] {cleansing} might be credited to [them] {God}.

4.12.[And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
4.13.It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be the heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
4.14.For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless,
4.15.because law brings wrath, and where there is no law there is no transgression.
4.16.Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
4.17.As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
4:18.Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed, and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
4.19. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
4.20.Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
4.21.being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
4.22.This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
4.23.The words “it was credited to him” were spoken not for him alone,
4.24.but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.]



About Marcus Aurelius and 'Christians' 

Larry, you wrote on Oct 13 2016 (https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/marcus-aurelius-and-christians/)
 “The official Roman view wasn’t a “persecution” of Christians, but instead judicial action against people who offended society and whose “atheism” could also imperil the Empire, through bringing the wrath of the gods.”

But that couldn’t have always been the ‘official Roman view’. Earlier, during the time of the Flavians, ‘Christianity’ must have been positively promoted. These rulers must have thought it was a good thing to have, a ‘Christian religion', otherwise, it would not have arisen. You have not considered how opinions changed with time.

The Destroyer of the Gods

About his book, The destroyer of the Gods, Larry wrote: 

"Unquestionably, to the Roman world, Christianity was both new and different, and, to a good many, it threatened social and religious conventions of the day. In the rejection of the gods and in the centrality of texts, early Christianity obviously reflected commitments inherited from its Jewish origins. But these particular features were no longer identified with Jewish ethnicity and early Christianity quickly became aggressively trans-ethnic--a novel kind of religious movement. Its ethical teaching, too, bore some resemblance to the philosophers of the day,"


This blog takes a different view.  Christianity was NOT knew and different, nor was it novel. Jewish religion of the day had changed.  From the time of Judas Maccabeus to the annihilation of the prophets in the first century by the Flavians, it had developed into a trans-ethnic religion in which the Spirit of God was the fundamental source of purification if you obeyed him.  Purification was not a matter of keeping whole the Jewish Law.  And some philosophers of the day, such as Seneca, agreed with that principle.  This form of Jewish religion had embedded itself in the Roman society, and its adherents included Nero who shortly after his death (probably a murder) was succeeded by the liar Vespasian. 

Christianity was NOT knew and different, nor was it novel. Jewish religion of the day had changed. From the time of Judas Maccabeus to the annihilation of the prophets in the first century by the Flavians, it had developed into a trans-ethnic religion in which the Spirit of God was the fundamental source of purification if you obeyed him. Purification was not a matter of keeping whole the Jewish Law. And some philosophers of the day, such as Seneca, agreed with that principle. This form of Jewish religion had embedded itself in the Roman society (they were called CHRISTIANOS in latin, or annointed ones), and its adherents included Nero who shortly after his death (probably a murder) was eventually succeeded by the liar and despot Vespasian.

The original movement was the prophetic and Jewish belief in the Spirit, more or less as recorded in Acts. This was not acceptable to Romans, except a few philosophers. The belief was changed by the Flavians to a forced belief in a sacrificed Jesus, accommodating Roman tradition of sacrifice to the gods, of which the ‘Christian’ God was one.  The ‘Christians’ did believe in sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus, which they repeatedly celebrated.

The Retreating Claim of an Early NT Textual Recension (2016/04/07) https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/the-retreating-claim-of-an-early-nt-textual-recension/

Larry you wrote: “We know that Roman-era writers typically drew upon other writings loosely, and often deliberately did so. That was a feature of rhetorical and writing practices of that time. But it is not indicative of how copyists treated the task of transmitting texts in manuscripts.”


But Larry you are assuming that the earliest writers were copyists as you defined them, and not editors rewriting the text. There was a stage or stages when the text was being created. Gregory Sterling the Dean of Yale Divinity School wrote (see page 104 of Understanding Josephus edited by Steve Mason) some comments on how ancient historians went about their business. Sterling (taking aim at his foot) says:

1. The practice of rewriting texts and offering the retelling as an authorial composition was common in antiquity. Historians of events situated in the distant past often made a virtue out of necessity by rewriting existing literary sources. (Were the historians fabricating or were they telling downright lies? Did they quote supposed authors who had no sources?)

2. Imitations of a past author’s style or spirit was acceptable: slavish reproductions were open to the charge of plagiarism. (So imitating a past author’s style or spirit was acceptable; really!! And if you could get away with it so were slavish reproductions or plagiarism)

3. Eastern peoples also rewrote texts although not always for the same reasons as their counterparts in the West. (And even westerners were not innocent! Well!! Well!!)

4. These traditions converge in the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus. (This is academic speak for its all there in Josephus. Apparently, Josephus calls his retellings a “translation from the Hebrew”, would you believe).

Such was the approach taken by writers during the first century. Did those very same traditions apply when the New Testament writings were first produced? I happen to think those writings were not produced through “tradition” (an academic get out of jail free term) but were calculated and deliberate.


The normality of 'Christianity' in the Roman world (2016/03/31)



Larry is promoting his books again. He must suffer from a need to write. He writes: " I’ve just had word that my forthcoming book, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor University Press, Sept 2016) is available for pre-order." (See https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/forthcoming-book/)


But, Larry I've got news you. Your early Christianity was NOT distinctive in a Roman world. It was created like any other religion accepted by Rome with a god Jesus and a sacrifice which was repeated in the communion of Rome - this is my body and my blood. The original sacrifice-rejecting religion came from the prophets of Judea who had their 'own sacrifices', at the altar of incense where they worshipped God in Spirit. These were the CHRISTIANOS (anointed ones) of the Pompeii grafitii and Acts. They had given up on sacrifice from the time of Judas Maccabeus.

Caiaphus and Eleazar (2016/03/21)

Sounding the praises of his former PhD student, Larry writes: " I’m pleased to note a newly published book by a former PhD student: Derek R. Brown, The God of This Age: Satan in the Churches and Letters of the Apostle Paul (WUNT 2.409; Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015). This is a lightly revised form of Brown’s PhD thesis submitted here in 2011." (See
https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/the-apostle-paul-on-satan-new-book/)

Is it just another book where the mistakes of past scholars are repeated, as they have been down the years? I guess it will gather dust and be read by few.

Larry, just as Jesus (and John the baptist) were substitutes for Caiaphus, so Paul (and Barabbas) were substitutes for Caiaphus’s son Eleazar. Caiaphus and Eleazar, rebel priests, made an agreement with the king Aristobulus not to cause trouble in Judea – Caiaphus and Eleazar had persecuted the prophets. History was rewritten to have Paul persecuting the Christians. Then Paul was supposedly converted and forgiven by Ananias, but the ‘disciples’ were still afraid of Paul. The reality was that Caiaphus and Eleazar were forgiven by Aristobulus and released from prison (as Barabbas was), but Aristobulus remained afraid of them. The pair travelled around the diaspora synagogues (as supposedly Paul and Luke did) preaching a messianic message to initiate an uprising. They kept away from Jerusalem and Rome (just as Paul and presumably Luke did).  Caiaphus and his son Eleazar belonged to the priests who wrote the Scrolls found in the Judean desert.

Failing to convince the Jews they visited (just as Paul failed to convince the Jews of his supposed message), the two came back to Judea and gathered an army, largely of priests, that attacked the fortress of Machaerus. This while Aristobulus had gone to Rome to report the increasing trouble. The attack was not a surprise to Aristobulus’s general in Machaerus. The rebels were beaten back and Caiaphus and Eleazar were imprisoned. Caiaphus was beheaded.

Larry thinks I am off the wall. He wrote in an email:

Geoff, 

Really, with great reluctance, I have to say that your latest comment (and pretty much all preceding ones too) is sooo off the wall, and so entirely off the subject, that it's breathtaking. So, as so often, I won't bother posting it. I guess you must enjoy your own private world, but it's not the universe that scholars in the realia of ancient history, early Christianity, Roman history, etc., live in.

No need to try to "reason" with me, Geoff. I'm beyond hope I guess from your standpoint (wherever you derive it from).

LWH

L. W. Hurtado (Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology)
School of Divinity (New College)
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, EH1 2LX
Office Phone: (0044) (0)131 650 8920