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Old 03-06-2001, 04:53 PM   #21
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SLD,

Another small, inexpensive, but informative book that comes to mind is Paul, by E.P. Sanders.
 
Old 03-06-2001, 04:58 PM   #22
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I would like to see some more refutations of the material in The Jesus Mysteries as well, aside from the above rather arbitrary dismissal.

The worst criticism of The Jesus Mysteries I've yet come across is that it contains too many exclamation marks. (It does.)

It certainly contains one of the most extensive sets of footnotes and bibliographies I've ever seen in a work of this nature, drawing from critical sources that anticipate the 20th century by several hundred years. The questions and postulations put forth by the authors of The Jesus Mysteries are hardly a contemporary phenomenon, as seems to be suggested above.

One early critic, Celsus, was evidently so credible in his attacks that, his own work lost, it was painstakingly recreated by Origen in Contra Celsum.

[This message has been edited by hezekiahjones (edited March 06, 2001).]
 
Old 03-06-2001, 09:19 PM   #23
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by hezekiahjones:

I would like to see some more refutations of the material in The Jesus Mysteries as well, aside from the above rather arbitrary dismissal.</font>
Hi hexekiahjones.

For a very thorough review of this book, and a detailed explanation as to why it really is as aweful as we have made it out to be, see a review by one of our own members here.

A review of Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries by "Venerable Bede"

It really is quite devestating, and addresses directly the points you raised in your post. If you have any questions, Bede will be back from his trip to Nepal in about a week or so, and you can write to him at his web site if you wish.

Nomad

Bede's Library
 
Old 03-07-2001, 09:05 AM   #24
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
For a very thorough review of this book, and a detailed explanation as to why it really is as aweful as we have made it out to be, see a review by one of our own members here.

It really is quite devestating, and addresses directly the points you raised in your post. If you have any questions, Bede will be back from his trip to Nepal in about a week or so, and you can write to him at his web site if you wish.
</font>
Thanks - I appreciate it.

With all due respect to the Venerable Bede, I found very little of substantive import and very much ad hominem mockery in his "review."

I never had the impression that The Jesus Mysteries purported to be the "scholarly" work that the Bede yearns for, but rather a popular compendium of previously enunciated disparities in the recieved christian "wisdom."

In fact I concur with the Bede in his suggestion that the Freke and Gandy book's single saving grace, as it were, is its extensive bibliography.

Unfortunately, I have not the access to world-class bibliographic resources that the Bede enjoys; however, I have had little trouble locating many of the cited sources right here in, of all places, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Perhaps this is owing to the university library's connection with the late Golda Meir, and the considerable volume of related bequests, which comprise a fair chunk of this library's "religious studies" collection.

At any rate, the links provided by the Bede have yielded about 60 pages worth of apologetic rebuttal, of which I certainly intend to avail myself.

Once again, thank you for your kind attention.
 
Old 03-07-2001, 09:07 AM   #25
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
Hi hexekiahjones.

For a very thorough review of this book, and a detailed explanation as to why it really is as aweful as we have made it out to be, see a review by one of our own members here.

A review of Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries by "Venerable Bede"

It really is quite devestating, and addresses directly the points you raised in your post. If you have any questions, Bede will be back from his trip to Nepal in about a week or so, and you can write to him at his web site if you wish.

Nomad

Bede's Library
</font>
Nomad, Why didn't you post this to begin with? That's the kind of thing I was looking for when I originally posted this topic. Good links to serious criticism. I confess I was only vaguely aware of the book "The Jesus Mysteries" until I stumbled across some of the links listed in other posts. For those interested, there is a whole Yahoo group dedicated to the book.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JesusMysteries

Lots to go on.

 
Old 03-07-2001, 10:13 AM   #26
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Could you be more specific about your objections to Wright's hypothesis? Personally I find it much more incredible to believe that a dedicated Pharisee like Paul would then come to think that the Jewish Messiah had come in the form of Jesus, but then make a detour into paganism. That makes no sense to me.

We have the first hand accounts of Paul's own letters confirming that he was indeed a rather militant Pharisee. It also seems from Paul's letters that he didn't place much significance on the fact that he was a Roman citizen. Although he repeatedly mentions his Jewishness and ties to Judaism, he never directly references his Roman citizenship. All of these things point to Paul's previous dedication (to say the least) to his Pharisee background. Do you doubt the nondisputed Paulines?

We also know that during Second Temple Judaism, even Jews of the diaspora retained a rather nationalistic view of theology. Many made pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple there. In fact, even during the diaspora, no Jew ever offered a sacrifice ANYWHERE but at the temple.

And the existence for that particularly militant sect of Pharisees is pretty good. Do you doubt that militant Pharisees existed?

Even if Paul was not a memember of that particular sect, the evidence is overwhelming that he was a Pharisee. In which case it would be MUCH more bizarre for a Pharisee to convert to Christianity, accept Jesus as the messiah, and then invent another religion based on paganism.
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OK, I’ll try. Paul on the one hand claims to be a Pharisee but the claim seems to be also contradicted in other ways. Specifically, Paul is an agent of the High Priest when he is sent on his mission to Damascus to persecute Christians. However, the High Priest at this time were not from the Pharisaic groups, they came from the Sadducees. The Sadducees were generally allied with the Romans and accepted their military rule. Hyam Maccoby makes this quite clear in his book on Paul, “The Mythmaker”. Therefore the evidence was not overwhelming that he was a Pharisee. However, even if he was “converted” to Pharisee (being born and raised in Asia Minor, he could not have been born a Pharisee, as Maccoby points out they were strictly a Judean group) it is still not automatic that he was a member of the revolutionary groups. Many Pharisees while not enthusiastic about Roman rule did not openly oppose it.
There is absolutely no evidence, from Paul or any other biblical or extra biblical source that he was ever involved in the Jewish revolutionary movements to overthrow Roman rule. You state that in Paul’s letters he identified himself as a Militant Pharisee. Can you cite that for me? I couldn’t find it. Indeed his only letter mentioning that he was a Pharisee was in Phillipians where he claims to be a Pharisee as to the law (he states it also in Acts when accused but does not claim any revolutionary links). On the other hand, throughout Acts he emphasizes that he is a Roman citizen whenever he gets in trouble. He makes a point of telling the Tribune that he was born a Roman citizen whereas the tribune had to purchase his citizenship.
Again, it flies in the face of common sense to suggest that a Roman citizen who is not even from Israel (even though Jewish) would have joined such revolutionary groups. Maccoby and others point out that such groups were numerous in the 1st century and that they were ruthlessly suppressed by the Romans and their allies, the Sadducees. They also came largely from the Galillee area of Judea. Maccoby’s main thesis is that Jesus was one of these group leaders and that his sole intent was to overthrow Roman rule and re-establish the Davidian throne, the “Kingdom of God.”
A. N. Wilson in his biography of Paul also points out that Paul’s parents were Roman citizens and were tentmakers and as such their clients would have been primarily the Roman Army which had a great demand for tents at that time. For Paul to rebel against his parents and their primary source of income is stretching it. Now, we certainly know that children can and do rebel against the ways of their parents and their upbringing. But again, we have no evidence that Paul really did so.
One other point about N. T. Wright. While I’m sure he’s very well educated in the Bible and the first century, he does not qualify as a scholar in the field. He does not have a Ph.D. (to my knowledge) and I doubt he has published much of his thesis in peer reviewed refereed journals (although I could be wrong about this). He is an Anglican minister – hardly a neutral source to criticize this scholarship. His thesis seems to rest entirely on his assertion that Paul was part of the revolutionary Judean movement and he makes no attempt to refute the point that such a contention flies in the face of Paul’s Roman Citizenship and Tarsus upbringing. Indeed, he doesn’t even mention it.
As to Paul’s conversion from Pharisee to a supporter of early Christian followers, Maccoby argues forcefully (as do many other scholars) that Jesus was a Pharisee himself and that much of his preaching was based on Pharisaic philosophy and teachings. Of course, see the recent article on this site arguing that Jesus more than likely came from the Essenian sect. But if in fact Jesus’s teachings were similar to the Pharisaic tought, then it is not hard to imagine a Pharisee follower converting to his way. And indeed in Acts, the Pharisees seem to support Jesus’s followers and to defend them more so than the Sadducees. Converting from a follower of Jesus to creating a mystery cult based on Jesus is not such a hard step when one considers Paul’s Tarsus background. Growing up there he would have been exposed to the mystery cults of the region and indeed could not have avoided contact with them if he tried. It is not unreasonable to assume that they made an impression on him that remained with him throughout.

Hope that answers your posts.

SLD

 
Old 03-07-2001, 10:44 AM   #27
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SLD

Let me begin by saying that you have been badly misinformed about N.T. Wright's credentials. In contrast with A.N. Wilson, N.T. Wright is widely recognized as one of the leading New Testament scholars of the Third Quest. He was a professor of New Testament studies at Oxford and Cambridge for over 20 years. He is also one of the most prolific of the New Testament scholars, publishing many books as well as many peer reviewed articles. In fact, he is one of the editors for the prestigious Bible Review magazine. In short, his credentials are so vastly superior to A.N. Wilson's that I had to restrain myself not to post them in response to your original statements. Thank you for bringing it up.

I'll respond to your points further as time permits, but I'm curious as to your use of sources. You seem to rely on Acts over and against Paul's own letters. Do you place more value on Acts than you do on the undisputed Paulines? And if you do, why? As I stated above, there is no mention of Paul's Roman citizenship in his own letters. As for Acts portraying Paul as relying on his Roman citizenship, you completely ignore the context. Paul makes those appeals to Roman authorities when he faces potential trouble from those authorities. He doesn't brag about it to converted Christians. And, not coincidently, all of Paul's letters were written to converted Christians. None of them were written to Roman authorities.

Regardless, the evidence from both sources is that Paul, whether a revolutionary Pharisee or just a plain vanilla Pharisee, persecuted the early Christians for their belief in Jesus. That is, his persecution of them was because of his devout JEWISH views. The fact that he converted to Christianity was because he became convinced, for whatever reason, that Jesus was in fact the expected JEWISH messiah. That is. Paul converted to Christianity for JEWISH reasons. So why would Paul, who was a JEWISH persecutor of Christianity, and then became convinced that Christianity was the true extension of JDUAISM, recreate Jesus as a pagan god? That is one of the more devastating weaknesses of your argument, and despite your characterization to the contrary, it is a "hard step" to even imagine.

I also think that you have a fundamental misunderstanding about the Jewishness of the diaspora. Jews of the diaspora, although more hellenized than their Palestinian brothers, continued to be resolutely Jewish. Although they did not have ready access to the Temple, they substituted the study of Torah and devotion to prayer at the synagogues. They did not readily incorporate Greek mythology into their Judaism. Moreover, you overlook the evidence which indicates that, although born in Tarsus, Paul was educated in Jerusalem.

I'll review some of my sources and post more on this later. Thanks for the discussion.
 
Old 03-07-2001, 11:57 AM   #28
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SLD:
Nomad, Why didn't you post this to begin with? That's the kind of thing I was looking for when I originally posted this topic. Good links to serious criticism. </font>
I wouldn't get too excited about the two articles linked at the Venerable Bede's "review" of The Jesus Mysteries.

Although I've admittedly only skimmed over them so far, their dismissal of the alleged analogous characteristics between the Jesus character and other similarly situated deity-figures seems to be that said analogous characteristics are not identical characteristics! (Exclamation point added for ironic effect; Glenn Miller's and J.P. Holding's use of this punctuation device far outstrips that of Freke and Grady, quantitatively if not qualitatively: I assume this is an ironic device of their own, and is intended to add credence to their "scholarly refutations.")

If the characteristics of the various deities referred to were wholly identical to those of Jesus, well, we wouldn't be engaging in these sorts of inquiries to begin with, would we?

Furthermore, I think it's worth pointing out that when an author cites a specific source, and provides it in his bibliography, whether the reader believes the citation is taken out of context or not, the mere presence of the citation is an invitation to the reader to do a bit of legwork on his own.

Criticism of such devices as, "unnamed sources" or, "a source close to the President" are justly raised as suspicious; however, the reader is equally as culpable as a potentially disingenuous researcher for not investigating the cited source in order to confirm or dismiss potential contextual controversies.

It's kind of like people who only watch CBS News, for example, bemoaning the state of "biased" and "incomplete" media coverage.
 
Old 03-07-2001, 02:10 PM   #29
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SLD:

Nomad, Why didn't you post this to begin with? That's the kind of thing I was looking for when I originally posted this topic. Good links to serious criticism.</font>
Sorry SLD, I didn't know you were looking for a specific rebuttal to the Jesus Mysteries, but you are right, Bede's site is quite good. A number of the books on his review list are very good sources when looking at the historical Jesus, although I must admit, Bede and I have not always agreed on which sources are the best. I found Michael Grant's book, Jesus to be much better than he gives it credit, but perhaps we were each looking for different things when we read that book (most interestingly, I have found Grant to be very helpful in cutting through much of the bullshit offered for dating the Gospels late, eventhough Grant never specifically addresses this issue directly).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I confess I was only vaguely aware of the book "The Jesus Mysteries" until I stumbled across some of the links listed in other posts. For those interested, there is a whole Yahoo group dedicated to the book.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JesusMysteries</font>
Yeah, I know about the group, and am still an (now inactive member). Bede and I had a major blowout there with the moderators, and after many nasty exchanges, deleted posts, and Bede being expelled, I pretty much stopped going there.

I must admit, I find the arguments for a completely mytholical Jesus of Nazarath to be so full of holes, conspiracy theories, arguments from silence, and special pleading as to not even be a serious point of discussion. Sadly, it is a very hard topic to get many sceptics to treat seriously, and very often deteriorates even before it gets started.

Peace,

Nomad

P.S. To hex, I was wondering if you actually did find the ancient references (i.e. 19th Century and older) that are listed by the Jesus Mysteries. After all, if Freke and Gandy were working in London, and even the University of London Library does not have these tomes, how did you come by them? And more importantly, how did Freke and Gandy? Finally, how did they miss the bit about Justin Martyr, or the Bacchus medallion, or the Library of Alexandria?

It's stuff like this that wah-wah's are made of.
 
Old 03-07-2001, 03:01 PM   #30
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
. . .It's stuff like this that wah-wah's are made of.</font>
-Funny, I opened up my Dunlop Wah-Wah pedal and found none of the stuff you listed. Hmm, maybe that is why it makes my guitar sound the way it does.
 
 

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