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Old 02-22-2001, 09:27 PM   #11
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Hi Norm. It looks like you have been to the Jews for Judaism site. If you can, see if you can convince one of them to come here to debate this topic, as I have tried to respect their beliefs by not "attacking" them on their own site. Perhaps they would view the SecWeb as suitably neutral ground for a discussion.

For now, however, I will address the specific points raised and if you have further questions please let me know.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fromdownunder:

Again thanks for the effort you put into discussing your faith and answering "ignorant" questions. I have actually posted this elsewhere, and unfortunately got mostly static from either people whose elevators do not exactly reach their penthouse, or bigots who find any reason to trash other people's thoughts the primary purpose of message boards.</font>
Discussion of the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper is one of the hottest bones of contention WITHIN Christianity, as well as between Jews and Christians, so the kinds of responses you are discribing do not surprise me. Unfortunately, it is a subject that will draw out powerful emotions very quickly, and to be honest, I have yet to have a productive discussion with an evangelical or fundamentalist (i.e. non-orthodox) Christian on this topic.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">...I did however get one interesting response from a Jew ...which I would like to share, without requesting comments back (unless anyone thinks that comments on this would add anything to this thread - which despite my somewhat flip nature on other threads, is a genuine search for information).</font>
I'll cover the points quickly, and if you would like elaboration, please let me know. And if your Jewish friend would like to debate this, all the better. I think it would allow us to explore this question fully if we were to debate it from a Jewish and Christian point of view.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"Well, he didn't make it up entirely out of whole cloth. Not all of the sacrificial offerings are burnt: many were eaten after the blood was poured out (e.g. Deuteronomy 12, round about verse 26). The christian idea (as I understand it, and any Christian, please correct me, as i do not wish to misrepresent) was that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind, and thus the symbolic consumption of his body would be a fitting recognition of such a sacrifice.</font>
Jesus is viewed as the Pascal Lamb (IOW, the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world) replacing the ritual of the Passover that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. This is more clearly outlined in John, but also by Paul and Peter.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

John 1:35-37 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.

Acts 8:32-33 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." (quoting from Isaiah 53:7-8)


Thus, we find that in Christianity, Jesus is seen as the one sacrifice, once for all (1 John 2:2).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In addition, wine and bread play a critical ritual role in any Jewish household. Before a meal, blessings are said over wine and food. If bread is served, then a blessing over bread can be said that will serve as a blessing over all the food, but if bread is not served, then each item of food must be blessed. Hence the idea that the sacrifice of Jesus is fittingly symbolised by Bread and wine, and that the consumption of these completes the sacrifice of his body and blood, is hardly bizarre.</font>
Agreed. And what is especially noteworthy in the depictions of the Last Supper in the Synoptic Gospels is that the sacrificial lamb, the paschal lamb is absent completely. This absense can only really be explained if we understand that the authors of the Gospels saw Jesus Himself as that lamb.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That being said, there are aspects of this ritual that, while psychologically quite powerful, are inimical to the practice of Judaism.

1. Sacrifice by other people cannot atone for the sin of an individual. Individual sin requires prayer, sacrifice, atonement, and redress of any sin committed to another person.</font>
This is not true, at least from a 1st Century Jewish perspective. Modern Judaism rejects the idea of a person sacrificing himself for the atonement of others, but this has not always been the case.

"The atonement of suffering and death is not limited to the suffering person. The atoning effect extends to all the generation. This is especially the case with such sufferers as cannot either by reason of their righteous life or by their youth possibly have merited the afflictions which have come upon them. The death of the righteous atones just as well as certain sacrifices.' [Mechilta, 72b]... There are also applied to Moses the Scriptural words, "And he bore the sins of many" (Isa- 53 12), because of his offering himself as an atonement for Israel's sin with the golden calf, being ready to sacrifice his very soul for Israel, when he said, "And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book (that is, from the Book of the Living), which thou hast written" (Exod- 32 32).' [Sotah, 14a and Berachoth 32a] This readiness to sacrifice oneself for Israel is characteristic of all the great men of Israel, the patriarchs and the Prophets acting in the same way, whilst also some Rabbis would, on certain occasions, exclaim, "Behold, I am the atonement of Israel" [Mechilta, 2a; Mishnah Negaim 2.1]
(Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:310)


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">2. Atonement is always made for specific sins, or categories of sin. Original sin is emphatically not a Jewish notion.</font>
This statement is true, but problematic. If you examine virtually every single hero or prophet in the Bible (as well as the people in general), we do not find a lot of examples of anyone who is considered to be perfect by God. All do look to be worthy of God's wrath, at least during their time on earth (up to and including the "blameless" Job). Further, we have the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 14:1-3 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Perhaps this passage is an example of hyperbole, but the Torah (Books of Moses say the same thing) at least once, immediately after the Flood:

Genesis 8:21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">3. Human sacrifice is forbidden by the Laws of our G-d.</font>
True. But this is an example of a Law that applies to humans, but not to God Himself (just as we may not kill one another, God is allowed to kill humans). The sacrifice of Jesus is not a human sacrifice, but a sacrifice of God to God.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">4. A sacrifice must be offered by a ritually pure Jew, following the laws regarding this. The Roman soldiers who killed Jesus would not have been ritually pure, and would not have been Jewish. </font>
See above. The sacrifice is done by Jesus Himself to the Father. The soldiers (and everyone else involved for that matter) are merely instruments in this divinely required event. This is why Jesus asks forgiveness of all the participants in His death.

Luke 23:34a Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

BTW, for this reason, do NOT stand still for any ignoramous that wants to tell you that the Jews (or anyone else) is a Christ killer, or other such bigoted nonsense. No one will be judged for the death of Jesus, since His atoning sacrifice was necessary for all of us, including those who tormented and mocked Him.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">5. A sacrifice must be of an unblemished animal. Jesus was flogged before he died, and would be marked on that basis.</font>
It is not what is outside that is considered by God, but what is inside, and God is pure. Jesus is pure and without spot (1 Peter 1:19, 1 John 2:2).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">6. The consumption of human tissue is forbidden by the Laws of our G-d.</font>
Again, this is true, but neglects that fact that God is the bread of life. Without Him we will all die, never to rise again. Only by consuming His living flesh and blood will we live again.

John 6:41, 48-58 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven."...I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">7. The consumption of blood is a total violation of the laws of kashruth (kosher) and would be forbidden even if it were not human.</font>
Actually, the laws here are specifically against the consumption of animal blood. At the same time, there is no question that what Jesus was telling His Jewish followers was very hard, and many left Him after they were told this command. In fact, IMMEDIATELY after Jesus calls Himself the bread of life (John 6:51-58 above)

John 6:59-60,66 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"...From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

I understand that many rejected Him, especially Jews conscious of God's Laws. My question here is especially to these people though: How could Jews even come up with such a ritual in the first place? This is not a Hellenistic or pagan practice being mimicked, but something entirely new. How could something like this gain any kind of following at all amongst Jews, as it clearly did in the 1st Century (and still does) to this day?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In brief, the ritual of communion does in fact have deep roots in Judaism, but is also a radical departure from traditional Judaism, and without wishing to antagonise any Christians, would be viewed with revulsion by any practising Jew. Its one of those cultural gaps that is very hard to get around. </font>
Yes it is.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad, I will consider the "sound doctrine" idea further before I actually take it any further, so I do not want a response at this point. </font>
Fair enough Norm. I hope you forgive me for the length of my post, but felt it was important to give you the Christian response to these Jewish objections.

Peace,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 22, 2001).]
 
Old 02-23-2001, 06:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
The problem with trying to draw parallels between the cult of Mithras and Christianity is in identifying who copied who exactly.</font>
Well, I agree that proof of "who copied who" may be impossible to come by this far removed from that time. However, Tertullian and Justin both complained in the second century that Mithraists and other mystery religionist had "stolen" the ideas of the eucharist (Justin) and baptism (Tertullian) from Christians. Hell, even Spanish missionaries tried to argue that Christian-like practices of Native Americans were the result of the Devil anticipating the missionaries' arrival.

What I see is a commonly expressed theme that very well may be part of common human experience and interpretation of spiritual "truths". Even J. P. Holding in his apologetic Mighty Mithraic Madness concedes this point (see point 5 in his essay). If anything this only undercuts the claim that Christianity is unique and special among world religions. The whole "Christians copied Pagans" argument is a strawman.

Stryder

[This message has been edited by stryder2112 (edited February 23, 2001).]
 
Old 02-23-2001, 06:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
Hi Stryder

The problem with trying to draw parallels between the cult of Mithras and Christianity is in identifying who copied who exactly. We have very little by way of hard textual evidence of practitioners of this religion (hence the reason it is classed as one of the "mystery" cults), and what we do have largely dates from the late 1st Century (in Josephus' writings) and 2nd Century. In both cases, the tradition within Christianity had long since been established by Paul and the Gospels (c. 50-70AD) if not sooner.
</font>
Plutarch says that Mithraic rituals had been practiced for a very long time prior to his time (+46-125), from -67 or so. Assuming that those rites were pretty much the same,
that's decent evidence for an extant Mithraic eucharist tradition before when Paul got around to inventing Christianity. Women were excluded, which may have had something to do with the cult's eventual decline.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
"Mithraism had a Eucharist, but the idea of a sacred banquet is as old as the human race and existed at all ages and amongst all peoples."

Which is a bit of an exaggeration, to say the least!

There is a good article from Bib Arch Rev
at:
http://www.well.com/user/davidu/mithras.html

by David Ulansey, a Berkeley researcher who specializes in Mithraism and has written a book on it. His idea is that Mithraism is not a Persian cult, but an astronomical cult based on the discovery of the procession of the equinoxes by greek astronomers in the -2nd century. It's a good idea, and enables a better understanding of the cult's emergence in the first century BC. It does not seem to have gained wide popularity until the second century AD.

The Encyclopedia Britannica article draws heavily on Cumont and seems to be unaware of new developments in the field. This is not the first time I've found them to be deficient or behind the curve. I'm rapidly developing a distrust of their whole enterprise.

Michael
 
Old 02-23-2001, 11:57 AM   #14
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Just to let everyone know I am still here, and have not forgotten this thread.

Unfortunately yesterday I was locked in a somewhat hectic e-mail discussion on another SecWeb issue, and today (Saturday now) I am trapped all day with coaching and scoring for my son's cricket teams (Cricket = "Baseball on Valium)

Thank you for all your responses so far. I have followed this with interest and will contribute further as soon as I am able to.

Norm

 
Old 02-23-2001, 01:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by stryder2112:

Well, I agree that proof of "who copied who" may be impossible to come by this far removed from that time. However, Tertullian and Justin both complained in the second century that Mithraists and other mystery religionist had "stolen" the ideas of the eucharist (Justin) and baptism (Tertullian) from Christians.</font>
Hi Styder.

What you have outlined is the problem in a nutshell. The testimony we DO have is from Christians, and from the 2nd Century. As a mystic cult the Mithrasists were not interested in apologetics or public discussions of the faith, so we simply don't know what they practiced, or when they began their rituals, and how these rituals were interpretted by them.

Thus, while they almost certainly had a communion involving bread and wine of some kind (just as did the Jews), we cannot really know with certainity if they viewed this as the consumption of Mithras himself. Personally I doubt it, since the idea was so bizarre to the ancients, and also because we have no examples of attacks of canabalism being made against the cult of Mithras (from Tacitus or Celsus for example) like we do against Christians from this period.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Hell, even Spanish missionaries tried to argue that Christian-like practices of Native Americans were the result of the Devil anticipating the missionaries' arrival.</font>
I think the argument from parallels largely falls apart for this exact reason. Since many religions practice the same thing, it is a tenuous argument at best to claim that Christianity is simply a copycat of earlier pagan religions. After all, who would seriously argue that Christianity copied the Mayans, or the Aztecs (or vice versa)?

The issue is basically that religions celebrate many of the same things (life, death, birth, life after death, ect), so we should expect to see many of the same ideas and even practices lying behind each of them. If you want a good intro to this subject, take a look at CS Lewis' Abolition of Man (London 1946).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What I see is a commonly expressed theme that very well may be part of common human experience and interpretation of spiritual "truths". Even J. P. Holding in his apologetic Mighty Mithraic Madness concedes this point (see point 5 in his essay).</font>
I largely agree with this truth, but not the conclusion you have drawn below. Truths, even only imperfectly understood can be celebrated in a number of ways, and the fact that this has been done across cultures in no way proves that Christianity (or any of the other religions for that matter) is necessarily not unique, or even false. Those arguments belong somewhere else, since I view the "Argument from many religions" to be one of the weakest arguments available to the sceptic.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If anything this only undercuts the claim that Christianity is unique and special among world religions. The whole "Christians copied Pagans" argument is a strawman.</font>
These two statements more or less contradict one another, so I am unsure of your position here. Basically, Christianity is unique in a number of areas, but this uniqueness does not necessarily argue for the verasity of Christianity any more than the similartity between two religions would argue for both to not be true. This argument is really a dead end for the sceptic, since the doubter is trying to have it both ways.

The truth of a religion lies in the confirmation of its claims, not whether or not certain rituals or practices have been copied.

Peace,

Nomad

P.S. To Norm, I am off for the weekend, so no worries on the time thing. These debates have been around a long time before you and I were ever born, and are likely to be around a good deal beyond both of our lives as well. In the meantime, perhaps we can learn something through these discussions. I certainly hope that we can. Be well.

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 23, 2001).]
 
Old 02-24-2001, 04:33 PM   #16
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Just food for study:

I have heard that there are close connections between the body guard of Caesar in the way they would pledge their loyalty with bread and wine. If this is the case, then communion would take on the idea of a soldiers loyalty oath unto death. This would put interesting light on Peter's drawing of the sword, and the disciple's abandonment that night. Unfortunately, I do not have the source were I got this info from. I think the made it through a Greek word beginning sacrementum or something like that.

Here's another possibility:

My friend is doing a paper currently about the last supper and has found many analogies to Jewish betrothal rituals involving bread and wine. The man would then go away to build an extension on his fathers house and in about a year return to marry his bride. This would give light to Jesus leaving the earth and His return. This "going away" idea may be being developed in Mark. Jesus seems to finish ministry in an area with a meal and then only return in passing visits. Galilee-feeding of 5000, Decopolis-feeding of 4000, Judea with 12 disciples-communion.

Alfred Edershiem in the Temple makes vital connection showing when and how Jesus is abiding to Passover ritual and when He breaks it. Edershiem uses the significance that Jews would put to certain parts of the meal (which was very symbolic) to determine the message behind this new institution. Bread and wine are also used in this meal.

Which is it? I'm not settled yet. But, as someone has said previously, the idea of a covenantal meal involving bread and wine has antisedendent that push well further back than the exodus. It is a cultural system that is totally alien to the modern western world. A contract is a poor representation of a covenant.

What is sure is that, Jesus is utilizing a commonly held practice of covenant through bread and wine. Every commemoration of it is a renewal of it.
 
Old 02-24-2001, 06:35 PM   #17
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Josephus -

Quickly for now, as I am still looking at sources and gathering my thoughts, and intend to put a more detailed post up tomorrow or Tuesday (Australian time).

I donít think anyone is denying that bread and wine (or animal sacrifice for that matter) had a long history prior to the meal Jesus took. And the synoptics at least say that the last supper was the passover meal which is the basis of communion today 9ehich is logical if Jesus was crucified on Nissan 15(?), 33 CE.

But the whole thing did seem to start with Paul (Corinthians (11 24-27 seems to be the earliest source), and now, in some churches at least, the communion is a literal eating of Jesusí body and drinking of his blood ( through transubstantiation).

This is one of the missing bits I am looking for - a precedent for human sacrifice and cannibalism as part of the sacrificial act as a religious rite, as opposed to animal sacrifice. I find from what I have read (note that this is still not a lot) that the people who were with Jesus would have been less than comfortable if they thought that they were literally being asked to eat human flesh and drink human blood. It seems to go completely against the Jewish faith.

Norm


 
Old 02-26-2001, 05:45 PM   #18
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hi,

i am new to these forums: do you know what is cannibalism? where is cannibalism practised nowadays? please make evident!

last proof: in the fifties, in south- east asia, evidence through illness called tsuru- tsuru.

please contact VOELKERKUNDE@univie.ac.at for further questions, dr. weiss wrote a book about religious sciences, which includes the field of cannibalism.
http://univie.ac.at/voelkerkunde

kind regards,

sybille amber
actress
*********************************************

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fromdownunder:
This is in part, a question of laziness on my part (ie, I cannot be bothered doing the research myself).

Is anyone aware of a non biblical or pre 1CE source for the ritual cannibalism that is such a vital part of organised christianity today? It seems from what I have read that there is no Jewish tradition for this at all and I am not aware of any Roman or greek precedents so the earliest reference for this would seem to be Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (11 24-27). Did Paul make this story up out of whole cloth, and was it somehow later picked up by Mark and included in the other Gospels by default?

And why, in some sects (notably Roman Catholic) is there a belief in the stomach churning idea of transubstantiation? Does your "garden variety" church goer understand this and believe it, or are they simply going through a ritual?

Norm
</font>
 
 

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