FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 09-03-2001, 02:53 PM   #21
godfry n. glad
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: portland, oregon, usa
Posts: 1,190
Post

Well, let's see, Richard Horsley and John S. Hanson, in _Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs_, list Judas son of Hezekiah, Simon, Athronges, Menahem son of Judas the Galilean, and Simon bar Giora as messiahs of the 1st century. That's five. In addition, they list Bar Kochba in the second century.

They also list John the Baptist, the "Samaritan", Thuedas, the "Egyptian" and Jesus son of Hananiah as "prophets" of the 1st century.

This book, from a scholar with a distinct belief in the historicity of Jesus, has as one of its main purposes to revise the popular understanding of the "Zealots" which according to him is "seen to be a modern fiction with no basis in historical evidence." (pg. xxvii)

You might want to give it a gander, for Horsley and Hanson do not consider Judas of Galilee to have been a "Zealot". Indeed, according to them, the Zealot movement did not come into existence until the winter of 67-68 CE, which is long after the death of Judas and most, if not all, of his sons.

Sounds to me like you've been listening to idle rumors, again, Nomad.

godfry n. glad
godfry n. glad is offline  
Old 09-03-2001, 03:04 PM   #22
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by godfry n. glad:

Well, let's see, Richard Horsley and John S. Hanson, in _Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs_, list Judas son of Hezekiah, Simon, Athronges, Menahem son of Judas the Galilean, and Simon bar Giora as messiahs of the 1st century. That's five. In addition, they list Bar Kochba in the second century.
I know about Bar Kochba, and he led the final revolt of 135AD that destroyed Palestine for good. After his death, his followers admitted that he was clearly not the Messiah. As for the others, could I have primary sources please? As we can see from Josephus, the Egyptian, Theudus and Judas of Galilee do not measure up.

Quote:
They also list John the Baptist, the "Samaritan", Thuedas, the "Egyptian" and Jesus son of Hananiah as "prophets" of the 1st century.
The claims for John the Baptist being a Messiah are very late (hundreds of years after his death), and we have nothing from John himself making such a claim. I have already dealt with the others in my edited post above. Again, any primary sources would be welcome (not anachranistic readings into the sources by 20th Century scholars please).

Quote:
This book, from a scholar with a distinct belief in the historicity of Jesus, has as one of its main purposes to revise the popular understanding of the "Zealots" which according to him is "seen to be a modern fiction with no basis in historical evidence." (pg. xxvii)

You might want to give it a gander, for Horsley and Hanson do not consider Judas of Galilee to have been a "Zealot". Indeed, according to them, the Zealot movement did not come into existence until the winter of 67-68 CE, which is long after the death of Judas and most, if not all, of his sons.
Fair enough. The question of the thread is did he or his followers think that he was a Messiah. I have seen no evidence of this, so anything you can provide would be helpful.

Quote:
Sounds to me like you've been listening to idle rumors, again, Nomad.
Still smarting eh?

Since I do not consider Raymond Brown to be a rumour monger, and each time I have checked the primary sources and found they do not say what some claim they say, I think it is justified to ask you to provide sources or evidence for your beliefs.

Nomad

[ September 03, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
Nomad is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 06:49 AM   #23
godfry n. glad
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: portland, oregon, usa
Posts: 1,190
Post

Heh...Yeah, right... I'm "smarting" from having shown you for the prevaricating rumor-monger you really are...

As for original source, Horsley and Hanson cite Josephus as their primary source. It is my understanding that Richard Horsley is the leading Josephean scholar alive as well as being the pre-eminent scholar on popular movements of 1st century Palestine. Quibble with him if you wish, but it seems that he has a variant interpretation of Josephus' works from yours.

Rather than continuing to cite the authority of your Roman Catholic priests (who, we must be assured, have absolutely no agenda when it comes to the historicity of Jesus - yeah, right ), why don't you broaden your horizons by obtaining a copy of _Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs_ from your local public library and reading it?

godfry

[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: godfry n. glad ]

[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: godfry n. glad ]
godfry n. glad is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 10:24 AM   #24
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by godfry n. glad:

As for original source, Horsley and Hanson cite Josephus as their primary source. It is my understanding that Richard Horsley is the leading Josephean scholar alive as well as being the pre-eminent scholar on popular movements of 1st century Palestine. Quibble with him if you wish, but it seems that he has a variant interpretation of Josephus' works from yours.
I am open to any varient reading of Josephus you wish to use godfry. This is not a hard request. Where does Josephus call any of the individuals you have listed the Messiah? We already know that he did not do this for Theudas, the Egyptian, Judas of Galilee, John the Baptist nor anyone else on your list. Offer a source, and even quote it straight out of your books if you like, and I will look it up.

Based on your evasiveness on the question I have come to believe that you do not actually have a source, and worst of all, you have never even bothered to check for yourself to see if such a source exists (or says what it was claimed to say). After all, saying that Josephus called any of these men Messiahs, or reported Messiahs is pretty disingenuous for those that have actually read Josephus, wouldn't you agree? Perhaps you should be more dilligent in your research before reaching your conclusions.

Quote:
Rather than continuing to cite the authority of your Roman Catholic priests (who, we must be assured, have absolutely no agenda when it comes to the historicity of Jesus - yeah, right ),
LOL! Too funny godfry. I understand why you would like to quarrel with (and also spread unsubstantiated innuendos about) the leading NT scholar of the late 20th Century, but his statement is clear and easily refuted from sources, if you have them. (BTW, agenda's have nothing to do with factual claims. They are either true or not true based on the evidence). So, here it is again:

There were no Messianic claimants from Palestine from 100BC to 100AD with the exception of Jesus.

All you have to do is prove that this is not true and I will accept your finding.

Thank you for the information, if you can find it.

Nomad
Nomad is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 11:31 AM   #25
Apikorus
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,396
Post

Certainly Jesus was the most successful messianic claimant of his generation, but I think it is somewhat naive to reject e.g. Theudas and The Egyptian simply because Josephus does not use the term "christos" to describe them. According to Josephus, Theudas believed himself a prophet, and he persuaded "a great part of the people" to follow him to the Jordan river where he would divide it and allow them to pass through. The messianic imagery here is unmistakeable: there is an allusion to Joshua 3:14-17; leading followers to dwell in the wilderness also has strong messianic resonance. Furthermore, the reference to Theudas in Acts 5:36-37 has him "boasting to be somebody", and the context of Gamaliel's speech there clearly is in reference to extraordinary charismatic figures who draw great followings.

The Egyptian's claim that he would make the walls of Jerusalem fall again invites comparison with the ancestral savior Joshua (Josh 6:20). The locus of the har hazeitim is associated in Zech 14 with the great Day of Judgement, and is redolent of messianic imagery. Remember also that late 2nd Temple messianism was rather pluriform. The Egyptian may have seen himself as a "king messiah" (hence Josephus' use of Gr. tyrannein in the passages in War).

I think if one considers Josephus alone and tries to set aside the NT (which is very difficult to do), then Jesus does not stand out as any more remarkable than a number of such charismatic figures (assuming one attempts to correct for the interpolation in the TF). The unique application of christus to refer to Jesus is notable but hardly compelling in my view. It seems to be attributable more to events subsequent to Jesus' death - i.e. the irrepressible fidelity of his followers and their mythic/legendary constructions - than to any claims of Jesus himself.

We also have several other examples of likely messianic claimants. Menahem, for example, entered Jerusalem dressed as a king and worshipped YHWH in the Temple. Josephus himself believed that the Roman general (later emperor) Vespasian fulfilled a key messianic prophecy (War 6:312-313). The notion that a non-Israelite might be anointed (Heb. mashiach) has support in the Hebrew Bible itself, for in the Book of Isaiah, the only time the term mashiach is used as a noun is in Isa 45:1, where it refers to the Persian king Koresh.

[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
Apikorus is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 12:27 PM   #26
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Hello Apikorus

I think that the question of who actually made messianic claims is a legitimate one, and as we have seen, the examples being offered just do not stack up. The Hebrew Bible is filled with prophets of all kinds, legitimate and false, yet none of them claim to be the Annointed. The claims of the Egyptian are even more nebulous, and to call him a messiah is to impose an almost anachranistic need to see him as such, since the texts that we do have to describe him do not bear out the claim. In fact, if he had been a messiah claimant, Luke would have had an excellent opportunity to use this as a means to argue against false messiahs. And with Josephus, we do not even have a hint that the Egyptian claimed to be the messiah.

I think the problem is that modern scholarship has sought desperately to place Jesus within a wider context in which He can be viewed as just one example among many of a certain arch-type. The problem is that even if they ever manage to achieve their goal (something that has yet to be done), they will not have successfully established that Jesus was only one of many individuals claiming to be God's Annointed, or Messiah.

Moving from the generic (i.e. prophets and leaders and "somebodies") to the specific (IOW, an actual messiah) is a big leap, and without proof remains within the realm of speculation. The simple truth of the matter is that there has been only one Messianic claim that has managed to stick, and all others are either non-existent readings into the source texts, or false claims that quickly evaporated when put to the test. Somehow Gamaleil's words from Acts 5 do appear to ring prophetic, no?

In the meantime, I am open to anyone offering primary source documents claiming that there were messiahs running around during the 200 year period of 100BC to 100AD in Palestine. And as we both know, even Josephus did not kid himself about the belief that Vespasian was the Annointed One of God. Best case, he probably shared in the emporer's sense of humour on the matter. At the same time, I would be willing to consider not only Josephus, but other sources as well. After all, if the question was as confusing as Bill's opening post would lead us to believe, there must be plenty of sources and subjects to choose from.

Nomad

[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
Nomad is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 01:09 PM   #27
Apikorus
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,396
Post

Nomad, I think that there is no coherent messianology stated or implied in the Hebrew Bible. By the time of Jesus, various notions of messiah were in play. I believe that the actions of figures such as Theudas, the Egyptian, Menahem, et al. as reported in Josephus strongly suggest that these figures had messianic aspirations. In fact, I think that if one restricts one's evidence to Josephus alone, then Jesus is even less of an extraordinary figure than Theudas. (Or, better, that Jesus is unique in Josephus only by virtue of having followers long after his death.) I think it is anachronistic to read Josephus' use of the term "christus" in Ant. 20, in reference to Jesus, as an association with anything that Jesus did or even claimed. It more likely can be traced to the persistence and growth of the Jesus movement, with its emergent legends, myths, and symbols, at the time when Josephus was writing, some 60 years after Jesus' death.

I think you err in assuming a unique meaning for "messiah". I'd recommend you read John Collins' outstanding book, "The Scepter and the Star". Collins is perhaps the foremost authority on Jewish apocalyptic literature.

The problem for the early Christians was that Jesus was to them a "signified without a signifier". Hence they applied to him every signifier in the Hebrew Bible: messiah, paschal sacrifice, prince of peace, Davidic ruler, Immanuel, high priest, "Melchizedek" priest, prophet like Moses, suffering servant, son of God, son of Man, word of God, God himself. I would wholeheartedly agree that such an elaborate construction must be considered sui generis. I very much doubt Jesus himself arrogated all these titles, but his hagiographers did.

I think your zeal to claim uniqueness for Jesus is somewhat defensive, reactive, and ultimately unnecessary. (And I think Brown is guilty of same.) As I said in my previous post, the actions of e.g. Theudas can hardly be interpreted as anything but as those of a messianic claimant. This does not damage Jesus' uniqueness, since it was claimed that Jesus was much much more.

[ September 04, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
Apikorus is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 02:58 PM   #28
Nomad
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 410
Post

Quote:
Originally posted by Apikorus:

Nomad, I think that there is no coherent messianology stated or implied in the Hebrew Bible. By the time of Jesus, various notions of messiah were in play. I believe that the actions of figures such as Theudas, the Egyptian, Menahem, et al. as reported in Josephus strongly suggest that these figures had messianic aspirations.
While I understand your willingness to give these figures messianic characteristics, and even to presuppose that they (or their followers) had messianic claims, the evidence just does not bear out such a belief. We already know that one can be a prophet without being the Messiah. The Bible is filled with such characters, so enough said there. And as for great historical figures, again we have countless examples to draw upon, and had Jesus never lived, or been proclaimed Messiah, we would not even be considering them for similar status. Thus we rule out Judas of Galilee, the Egyptian and the rest.

There is no desperation or even apologetic motive in making a simple request. We have many people from 1st Century Palestine claiming that Jesus was the Messiah. Whether the claim is true, or even that Jesus made it Himself is beside the point. We have prima facie evidence that others believed it of Him. Bill began this thread on the premise that Jesus was not alone in this catagory, and that we need a veritable program to keep up with all of the individuals for which such claims were being forwarded, yet through it all I have yet to see a single example from a primary source that refutes Brown's claim.

The urban legend stands that there were plenty of messiahs running around Palestine c. 1st Century AD. The fact of the matter is that there was one. Unless and until someone is willing to produce some evidence to the contrary, I think that this erroneous belief should be put to rest.

Quote:
In fact, I think that if one restricts one's evidence to Josephus alone, then Jesus is even less of an extraordinary figure than Theudas.
If we restrict ourselves to any one source we would expect plenty of people to be seen as more extraordinary than plenty of other individuals. This is not helpful in learning the truth of the matter. Imagine limiting oneself to American sources, then trying to determine who were the most significant individuals in the history of the last 200 years.

Quote:
I think it is anachronistic to read Josephus' use of the term "christus" in Ant. 20, in reference to Jesus, as an association with anything that Jesus did or even claimed. It more likely can be traced to the persistence and growth of the Jesus movement, with its emergent legends, myths, and symbols, at the time when Josephus was writing, some 60 years after Jesus' death.
This may well be, but it would not have been unexpected for Josephus to make such a reference to Jesus, given that the person he is talking about is Jesus' brother, James, and James is known to be the head of the new Christian faith at the time of his unjust execution. Given the fact that Josephus talks about plenty of Jesus' in his writings, some kind of distinguisher would have been expected, and admitting that He was being called the Christ (even as Josephus himself obviously didn't believe the claim) is perfectly understandable.

Quote:
I think you err in assuming a unique meaning for "messiah". I'd recommend you read John Collins' outstanding book, "The Scepter and the Star". Collins is perhaps the foremost authority on Jewish apocalyptic literature.
I am very familiar with the varying definitions of what the messiah would be like, both inside and outside of th apocalyptic traditions of the 3rd Century BC to 2nd Century AD Palestine. Again this is not really the issue, and in fact, makes the fact that we have such a paucity of evidence for other Messianic claimants more surprising. I am willing to grant multiple definitions of the term messiah. I am willing to look at any evidence anyone wishes to put forward. I have certainly not read all of it, but when someone of Raymond Brown's stature makes such a sweeping statement, I give it some credence. Now I am asking someone to offer evidence that he was mistaken in his belief. If such evidence is forthcoming, then I will happily withdraw the claim.

Quote:
As I said in my previous post, the actions of e.g. Theudas can hardly be interpreted as anything but as those of a messianic claimant.
Why must the account be read as such? I see no indication that he claimed to fulfill any prophecies, nor do I see any indication that anyone was calling him a messiah. I don't even see any evidence that someone argued he was not a messiah. What we have is that he was a prophet, and the two do not equate.

As I said, the premise of the thread is that there were lots of claimants. Thus far, beyond Jesus, we cannot, from the evidence, show that there was even one for over 200 years! Don't you find this in the least bit odd? Especially given that we had so many possible definitions of what a messiah would be like?

Nomad
Nomad is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 04:09 PM   #29
Apikorus
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,396
Post

Nomad, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, messiah is as messiah does. Therefore, when a figure like Theudas promises to lead a great multitude into the wilderness and to part the Jordan, one can safely conclude that he had messianic aspirations.

Jesus was not the only individual to be identified as messiah in Jewish sources. Simon bar Kosiba (aka bar Kokhba) was also held to be mashiach by no less an authority than rabbi Aqiba. Note also how the Jewish sources (e.g. P. Ta`anit 4.5) further clarify bar Kokhba's status: Aqiba held him to be "king messiah".

Technically, Jesus' status as christus (anointed) is somewhat problematic since nowhere is he recorded as really being anointed (i.e. with oil, as required in the Hebrew Bible). Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-9 record that he was anointed in a way at Bethany when Mary put ointment in his hair, but this hardly seems to qualify as a bona fide anointing (more likely affectionate grooming by a dear friend/acolyte).

Many deeds attributed to Jesus certainly were of great significance in that they were redolent of imagery from the Hebrew Bible. But I think you are getting hung up on a term (messiah) that has many meanings, and you are missing the significance of various important actions.

I've got great respect for Raymond Brown's scholarship, but on the subject of Jewish apocalyptic, I have much more for a specialist such as John Collins. I simply disagree with Brown's claim that Jesus was the only messianic claimant of his time. Many scholars who specialize in Jewish life and literature of the period are of this opinion.

To reiterate: several charismatic figures described by Josephus engage in actions that have strong messianic connotations. To assume that such particular actions are incidental is naive. Jesus' case was remarkable in that the movement surrounding him did not die with him. Although it ultimately failed among the Jews, we know that Jewish Christians did exist during the second half of the first century CE, and that there was increasing strife between this group and their proto-rabbinic cousins. (E.g. by ca. 85 CE the birkat haminim started to be directed against Jewish Christians.) This was the context in which Josephus wrote, so it is not surprising that he should report that followers arrogated the signifier christus for Jesus. I think it anachronistic to assume that Josephus used this terminology because of anything Jesus himself said or did.
Apikorus is offline  
Old 09-04-2001, 05:38 PM   #30
offa
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Monroeville, Ohio, USA
Posts: 440
Post

Apikorus wrote;
Jesus' case was remarkable in that the movement surrounding
him did not die with him. Although it ultimately failed
among the Jews, we know that Jewish Christians did exist
during the second half of the first century CE, and that
there was increasing strife between this group and their
proto-rabbinic cousins.


Offa; Question; when did Jesus' die? Are you assuming that
your readers believe he died at the crucifixion?

I am tired of the writer's on this board assuming that Mark
was written first. I am tired of writer's on this board
assuming that only fundamentalist believe in Jesus
surviving the crucifixion. There is one writer amongst you
dogmatics that assumes Jesus was a real live person
and survived the crucifixion. ME. I keep getting pinned down
by "biblical scholar's" opinions and I get smote with
Thiering and Baigent and, recently Piso.

Do not assume that I agree with you because I do not rebut!
I enjoy reading your posts, Apikorus, they are excellent.
However, IMHO, Jesus was born in 7 b.c.e,. and died shortly
before the WAR. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are real
individuals. This board is being led astray because of
Richard Carrier. The moderator's must be on his payroll
and their purpose is to GUIDE our opinions. Richard Carrier
is a fundie.

thanks, offa
offa is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:28 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.