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Old 07-08-2010, 04:29 PM   #1
stephan huller
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Default Did the Christian ekklesia originate from the Herodian ekklesia?

From Samuel Rocca Herod's Judaea: a Mediterranean state in the classical world (or via: amazon.co.uk) p. 266. [google books]

The popular assembly or Herodian ekklesia, mentioned by Josephus,(See Josephus, AJ XV, 381) probably continued performing the tasks and functions of the megale ekklesia mentioned in the First Book of Maccabees. Though this corporate body in fact had no real decision-making power, it was of great importance to Herod, enabling him to sense the opinion of the Jewish masses and to learn if his policies were favorably received by the majority of of his subjects or if there was discontent. Moreover, in giving the people the right to vote on a given proposal, Herod made the entire population a partner in his important decisions, rather than mere witnesses to them. This apparent incongruity was, in fact, common among Hellenistic rulers, who liked to demonstrate that their rule derived from the people.(The Ptolemies of Alexandria who abolished the boule but preserved the ekklesia provide a good example)

Josephus mentions the General Assembly at least three times. First, when Herod decided to begin work on the Temple, he convened the General Assembly to present his program and to receive their token assent.(Josephus, AJ XV, 381) Another occasion was the trial of Tero, his son, and the barber Tryphon, accused of plotting together with Alexander. Herod had the guilty parties accused in front of the Assembly and judged by them. The same Assembly subsequently executed the accused.(Josephus AJ XVI, 393 - 394 and BJ 1,150) Last but not least, Herod convened the Assembly to judge those responsible for pulling down the down the eagle.(See BJ I 648 - 650) Herod presumably convened the Assembly for more trivial matters not mentioned by Josephus. In both instances, when the Assembly served in an advisory capacity and when it served a judicial function, it took on a role similar to those of the ekklesia of the Greek city-states and of the Roman comitia. The Herodian ekklesia was probably convened ad hoc and consisted entirely of free men of military age, perhaps divided between priests and laymen as in the ekklesia megale called by Simon. Women, minors, slaves, and Gentiles could not be part of the Assembly.

Josephus does not mention the activity of the popular assembly after Herod's death, though its existence is mentioned in Claudius' letter to both the boule and the and the demos of Jerusalem. After Herod's death, once Judaea became a Roman province and the Romans governed though the Sadducee and Herodian upper classes, the ekklesia continued to exist legally, though it was no longer convened. It is probable that after Judaea became a Roman province, the General Assembly in Jerusalem shared the fate of the parallel ekklesiai of Greek city-states, which also disappeared silently in most cities between the end of the first century BCE and the beginning of the first century CE.(See Josephus AJ XX.11) In Rome the situation differed - although towards the end of Augustus's rule and during Tiberius' reign the comitia met less and less, they continued to maintain a certain power.


The passage I have in mind right now to compare with this institution is 1 Cor 5 but there are others:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? ... I have already passed judgment on the one who did this ... When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus ... hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.[1 Cor 5.1 - 5]

The truth is that there never has been a good explanation for this term used supposedly among the earliest Christians. Most people aren't even aware of the parallel Herodian term. So you have - according to the standard model, an 'ekklesia' of Agrippa which helps govern parts of Palestine and certainly Galilee but there is this 'other' assembly - devoted to 'Christ' - which takes itself to be a self-governing body like this? Seems strange to me at least ...
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:47 PM   #2
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According to volume 2 of the revised edition of Schuerer's Jewish People
... in the [Greek] Old Testament no essential distinction is made between SUNAGWGH and EKKLHSIA. ... But later Judaism seems to have made a distinction in the use of the two concepts so that SUNAGWGH describes the congregation [of Israel] more from the point of view of its empirical reality, and EKKLHSIA more from that of its ideal significance: SUNAGWGH is a community established in some place or another; EKKLHSIA is the congregation of those called to salvation by God ... as the ideal community of Israel ... [it is noted that the Hebrew word usually translated as EKKLHSIA in the Lxx is used of the ideal community of Israel in the Mishna: mYeb 8:2; mKid 4:3; mHor 1:4-5 and mYad 4:4] ... SUNAGWGH simply expresses an empirical fact; EKKLHSIA contains a religious value judgement. This differentiation between the two notions, one that appears to have already prevailed in Judaism, explains how in Christian usage the latter expression is used almost exclusively. (pp. 429-430n)
What is wrong with that explanation? Is it really necessary to compare early Christian congregations to deliberative bodies created ad hoc by Herod as situation required to legitimize his royal decisions? Hitler did the same thing.

DCH

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller View Post
From Samuel Rocca Herod's Judaea: a Mediterranean state in the classical world p. 266.

The popular assembly or Herodian ekklesia, mentioned by Josephus,(See Josephus, AJ XV, 381) probably continued performing the tasks and functions of the megale ekklesia mentioned in the First Book of Maccabees. Though this corporate body in fact had no real decision-making power, it was of great importance to Herod, enabling him to sense the opinion of the Jewish masses and to learn if his policies were favorably received by the majority of of his subjects or if there was discontent. Moreover, in giving the people the right to vote on a given proposal, Herod made the entire population a partner in his important decisions, rather than mere witnesses to them. This apparent incongruity was, in fact, common among Hellenistic rulers, who liked to demonstrate that their rule derived from the people.(The Ptolemies of Alexandria who abolished the boule but preserved the ekklesia provide a good example)

Josephus mentions the General Assembly at least three times. First, when Herod decided to begin work on the Temple, he convened the General Assembly to present his program and to receive their token assent.(Josephus, AJ XV, 381) Another occasion was the trial of Tero, his son, and the barber Tryphon, accused of plotting together with Alexander. Herod had the guilty parties accused in front of the Assembly and judged by them. The same Assembly subsequently executed the accused.(Josephus AJ XVI, 393 - 394 and BJ 1,150) Last but not least, Herod convened the Assembly to judge those responsible for pulling down the down the eagle.(See BJ I 648 - 650) Herod presumably convened the Assembly for more trivial matters not mentioned by Josephus. In both instances, when the Assembly served in an advisory capacity and when it served a judicial function, it took on a role similar to those of the ekklesia of the Greek city-states and of the Roman comitia. The Herodian ekklesia was probably convened ad hoc and consisted entirely of free men of military age, perhaps divided between priests and laymen as in the ekklesia megale called by Simon. Women, minors, slaves, and Gentiles could not be part of the Assembly.

Josephus does not mention the activity of the popular assembly after Herod's death, though its existence is mentioned in Claudius' letter to both the boule and the and the demos of Jerusalem. After Herod's death, once Judaea became a Roman province and the Romans governed though the Sadducee and Herodian upper classes, the ekklesia continued to exist legally, though it was no longer convened. It is probable that after Judaea became a Roman province, the General Assembly in Jerusalem shared the fate of the parallel ekklesiai of Greek city-states, which also disappeared silently in most cities between the end of the first century BCE and the beginning of the first century CE.(See Josephus AJ XX.11) In Rome the situation differed - although towards the end of Augustus's rule and during Tiberius' reign the comitia met less and less, they continued to maintain a certain power.


The passage I have in mind right now to compare with this institution is 1 Cor 5 but there are others:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? ... I have already passed judgment on the one who did this ... When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus ... hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.[1 Cor 5.1 - 5]

The truth is that there never has been a good explanation for this term used supposedly among the earliest Christians. Most people aren't even aware of the parallel Herodian term. So you have - according to the standard model, an 'ekklesia' of Agrippa which helps govern parts of Palestine and certainly Galilee but there is this 'other' assembly - devoted to 'Christ' - which takes itself to be a self-governing body like this? Seems strange to me at least ...
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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As a rule, stay away from the edition that was edited by his daughter. She is sloppy and careless.

I always avoid explanations which employ the theoretical use of language detached from any reality. Where the real world tells us the way a word was employed follow that lead, is my motto.

The question really is - what would a Jew in Palestine necessarily have known about the word ekklesia in the LXX? Probably nothing. His familiarity would have been governed by the Herodian use of the word. Just look through a dictionary of Jewish Aramaic and you'll see all the ways Greek words are brought into Aramaic in a peculiar (and ultimately slanted manner).

A case in point - the Greek katholoki inevitably means something related to the treasury because of its use in the Imperial government. It never (at least to my knowledge) means 'universal.' Again one of the shades of meaning in Greek is 'treasury' but in Jewish Aramaic it is principle meaning.

I suspect the same thing happened in Jewish Aramaic with ekklesia. If Herod was using the word in this way, I bet this is the way it was brought into Aramaic. I haven't checked Jastrow but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't appear because of the later Christian use of the word.

The question of course is that IF there was a Palestinian Church in the first century CE AND it was an Aramaic speaking community (which it must have been) they either called themselves an ekklesia in the manner that the Herodians used the term or they called themselves something else in Aramaic. But my guess is that the LXX translation doesn't mean anything here.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:54 AM   #4
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stephan
What version are you using?
I ask because I presume you are focused on the word 'assembly' in 1 Cor 5.4 above and according to the Blue Letter Bible the word used there is 'synago".

Also, the phrase your version has as:
"so that the sinful nature may be destroyed
is rendered elsewhere as:
"for the destruction of the flesh:
a phrase of great import in the discussion of the historicity of alleged HJ.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:06 AM   #5
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I am only claiming that 1 Cor 5:4 is a description of an ekklesia. The word does not appear there.
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Old 07-09-2010, 08:47 AM   #6
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Ok.

The vulgate uses 'congregatis".

I presume the problem we have is that we do not know the original word used for 'assembly' as referred to by Paul and that several words eg congregatis/ekklesia/synago are all reasonably apt.

I was interested in the translation of "so that the sinful nature may be destroyed" for the phrase "for the destruction of the flesh" because the latter is used elsewhere by Paul to describe Jesus [born in the likeness of sinfull flesh] and is often quoted as evidence that Paul believed Jesus to have a real live corporeal body ie an HJ.

But the alternate rendering you have shown can mean that 'flesh' equates to 'sinful nature' not necessarily a physical body.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:39 AM   #7
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Something else to watch out for in the Pauline writings though not here perhaps.

In Aramaic bassora means both 'flesh' and 'gospel.' The frequent Marcionite attack that they 'cut' or 'defile' the gospel might be an Aramaic play on words referring to ritual castration.

Ben Stada is said to also be involved with flesh cutting in the rabbinic literature
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller View Post
The truth is that there never has been a good explanation for this term used supposedly among the earliest Christians. ...

The first obvious suspicion might therefore become whether the authors and preservers of the early christian "___story" simply ripped the term from its common and popular useage in the traditional Graeco-Roman civilisation. See Ecclesia (Greek). After all the new testament was pitched at the Greeks,

Quote:
The ecclesia or ekklesia[1] (Greek: ἐκκλησία) was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens during its "Golden Age" (480–404 BCE). It was the popular assembly, opened to all male citizens over the age of 18 by Solon in 594 BC meaning that all classes of citizens in Athens were able to participate, even the thetes. The ekklesia opened the doors for all citizens, regardless of class, to nominate and vote for magistrates—indirectly voting for the Areopagus—have the final decision on legislation, war and peace, and have the right to call magistrates to account after their year of office. In the 5th century BC their numbers amounted to about 43,000 people
These traditions persisted in epoch of the Roman empire, since the Romans did not reduce the greeks to slaves (like they did everyone else) and actually valued the Greek language and science and contributed to these traditions until the time of at least Diocletian.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:14 AM   #9
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But then the question is - how did the term ekklesia make its way to a group of Galileans in Palestine in the first century CE? One can consider the possibility (at least initially) that there was some sort of grand conspiracy in the fourth century to 'invent' everything that has to do with Christianity. You have to consider all possibilities I guess but I feel there ARE clear reasons for believing that SOMETHING existed in the first century, that 'something' was 'Jewish' or related to Judaism and 'messianic' all of which limit the possibilities with regards to the original form of Christianity.

I know this is difficult for people to hear who have no working knowledge of Semitic languages but it is impossible to get around 'the European Christian faith' without it. You might as well give up because the answers you put forward won't be as strong as theirs are. They have witnesses. They have a discernible creed from the middle second century (they will push it back to the apostolic age with Acts but that's BS, Acts was written in the middle of the second century). There are 'things' which say 'Christianity is the way evangelicals say it is' by the time of Irenaeus. If we're going to quibble about this we will really get nowhere.

The ONLY way to defeat this Europeans is to probe into Palestinian Jewish paradigm. EVEN THEIR WITNESSES SAY 'the Gospel of Matthew' was based on an Aramaic gospel and this was the first gospel. They try all this nonsense to keep the gospel Greek because (a) they don't have the language skills to deal with an Aramaic ur-gospel and (b) it necessarily allows for speculation and all sorts of undesirable 'questions' to creep into a discussion that they want closed.

So that's the strategy that works folks. It's the way Islam developed. Like Islam, hate Islam, there were all these Christians in Egypt, Syria, the Middle East who said 'finally we can get rid of these -----g Europeans' and accepted Mohammed as THE RESTORER of the original gospel paradigm which was that Jesus was the herald for someone else who was the one to come, the one like Moses.

This is where everything is leading, folks.

So that's why we have to focus on Semitic languages and Semitic culture. There's this whole tradition from Jesus's part of the world that says (a) no four gospels - ONE GOSPEL in the beginning (b) no Jesus who was the Christ - JESUS CAME TO HERALD ANOTHER and so on and so on.

These aren't 'theoretical inventions.' They can be demonstrated to have existed at the time of Irenaeus and the earliest Christians.

That's why we have to start asking questions like 'how did the word ekklesia get into Christianity?' 'what did it mean to the first Christians?'

The Athenian connection doesn't work in my opinion because Jews and Semitic people don't have time for democracy. The rule of man will always be subordinate to the Law of God. These Greek ideas never caught on in the ancient Middle East because they seemed to exemplify the selfish egoism of western culture which was inherently sinful.

I have the feeling that as we see in 1 Cor 5 the ekklesia was a body which ultimately existed to fill the void left by Paul's absence. Paul, the Marcionite messiah:

"The apostle Paul warns against inordinate and irrational love when he says of himself, "I fear that someone might have an opinion of me above what he sees or hears from me, and that the greatness of the revelations might exalt me," and so on. (2 Cor 12:6-7) Paul feared that even he might fall into this error. So he was unwilling to state everything about himself that he knew. He wanted no one to think more of him than he saw or, going beyond the limits of honor, to say what had been said about john, that "he was the Christ." Some people said this even about Dositheus, the heresiarch of the Samaritans;8 others said it also about judas the Galilean.9 Finally, some people burst forth into such great audacity of love that they invented new and unheard of exaggerations about Paul.

For, some say this, that the passage in Scripture that speaks of "sitting at the Savior's right and left" (Mt 20.21) applies to Paul and Marcion: Paul sits at his right hand and Marcion at his left. Others read the passage, "I shall send you an advocate, the Spirit of Truth," (Jn 14:16) and are unwilling to understand a third person besides the Father and the Son, a divine and exalted nature. They take it to mean the apostle Paul. Do not all of these seem to you to have loved more than is fitting and, while they admired the virtue of each, to have lost moderation in love?"
(Homilies on Luke 23)

But this is the Catholic Apostolikon. A Catholic editor (Irenaeus?) has clearly systematically deny that he was the awaited messiah heralded by Jesus. Just read the last half of 2 Corinthians, it's so obvious with the 'I sound like a madman' 'I am crazy' dialogue throughout.

Here is another example of a word that loses its original context in Greek. Parakletos (παράκλητος) = menachem (מְנַחֵם) which is a well known title for the messiah.

Here is a story from the Jerusalem Talmud:

An incident happened in connection with a certain Jew, who was engaged in ploughing. His ox bellowed. An Arab passing, and hearing the ox bellowed. An Arab passing, and hearing the ox bellow, said, « Son of a Jew, son of a Jew, loose thy oxen, and loose thy ploughs, for the temple is laid waste.' The ox bellowed a second time. The Arab said to him, Yoke thy oxen and fit thy ploughs ; for King Messiah has just been born. But, said the Jew, what is his name ? Menachem, said he ... [Ber ii.4 see also Talm. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98, col. 2, where the words, " The comforter (Menachem) that should relieve my soul, is far from me" (Lam. i. 16.), are cited in proof]

I suspect but can't prove yet that Manichaeus (Mani) is somehow related to מְנַחֵם. Muḥammad is the Arabic equivalent of a title of the Menaḥem.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephan huller View Post
But then the question is - how did the term ekklesia make its way to a group of Galileans in Palestine in the first century CE?
I would suspect that the term ekklesia make its way to a group of Galileans in Palestine in the first century CE in the same way as did the term Logos. They did not catch these terms and the Greek language in their fishing nets, did they? Why did they write in Greek?


Quote:
I suspect but can't prove yet that Manichaeus (Mani) is somehow related to מְנַחֵם. Muḥammad is the Arabic equivalent of a title of the Menaḥem.
Mani was a "christianised" traveller/sage/author who received imperial sponsorship under Shapur I, and crucifixion in the Sassanid Persian capital c.272 CE after Shapur's death. Eusebius shamefacedly paints him "christian" while his continuators (eg:Augustine) embellish the fabrication. I suspect that the Manichaean writings are heavily "Christianised" following Nicaea and all variances are burnt and destroyed over the subsequent centuries.
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