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Old 09-07-2001, 10:40 PM   #51
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Helen, the Pavlovian Christian response to your question is, "I'm not better, I'm just saved/forgiven."
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Old 09-07-2001, 10:54 PM   #52
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It looks like this thread is about done. Thank you to James, Peter, Apikorus and others for your thoughts. Here I will wrap up (barring the unforseen, and some new evidence will be offered that others were proclaimed to be the Messiah in the 1st Century).

First, very quickly, I think you will find that Peter was making a bit of a joke with Simon of Magnus. The work he quotes (a pseudo-Clementine) is 4th Century, and can hardly be treated as evidence of what anyone in the first century thought of Simon.

My point (taken from Brown) was that Jesus' claim (or at the very least, that of His followers in the 1st Century) was unique in that He alone was called the Messiah. Perhaps others thought that they were as well, but we can only make guesses as to the probability that this was the case. With Jesus we need not guess. The evidence of the claim (whatever its merits) is overwhelming.

Finally, I didn't really want to get into a discussion of the merits of Jesus' claim, as this is a separate discussion from the question of who were messiahs in 1st Century Palestine. This was why I specifically avoided that discussion.

Thank you all again, and be well. It was interesting.


[ September 07, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 09-08-2001, 02:13 AM   #53
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It may well be that Jesus, Simon Magus, and bar Kokhba are the only three persons for whom we can document a claim to the specific title "messiah" during the period from Herod the Great through the second Jewish Revolt. As I emphasized, though, there are several more "messianic figures" of whom we know during this era, and, given the usage of the term "false Christs" in the NT itself, any argumentum ad silencio which asserts that the title was used by these three exclusively seems rash.

Regarding the probability that the pseudo-Clementine source reliably conveys Simon's arrogation of the title of messiah, I would be interested in Peter's thoughts as I am largely unfamiliar with the Christian apocrypha and their composition and transmission histories. From a very hasty investigation, it seems to me that Simon is mentioned in Acts 8 as having considered himself "somebody great" and that others believed he was vested with the "power of God". The second century author Justin Martyr records that Simon was "considered a god" (albeit by the Romans; still, Justin states that Simon was a Samaritan, hence he was likely keenly aware of the Jewish context of his pretensions). Add this to the pseudo-Clementine text cited by Peter and the _Acts of Peter and Paul_ (which seems to be of uncertain provenance; parts may have been written as early as the early 3rd century and as late as the 6th century. Peter?) which also identifies Simon as one in a series of "false Christs" and the case for Simon as a messianic claimant seems rather plausible.

For Nomad to simply dismiss a fourth century source as impossibly remote from its first century subject seems perhaps hasty. By this argument, he should be extremely skeptical indeed that the Book of Deuteronomy, written in the 7th century BCE, could convey any accurate information at all regarding the notional Exodus, which, if it happened at all, took place in the 13th c. BCE at the latest.

Certainly the discussion has been worthwhile. Thanks to Nomad, Peter, and James for their contributions.

[ September 08, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 09-08-2001, 05:31 AM   #54
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Now that the debate about Josephus seems to have played itself out, I'd like to ask one more question of the assembled experts here: Are there any messianic references in the Qumran texts that might refer to an actual person that falls within Nomad's time frame?

I'm afraid that I'm not as up-to-date as I should be on what is, or is not, contained within the Dead Sea Scrolls.

== Bill
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Old 09-08-2001, 07:45 PM   #55
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Originally posted by James Still:

Off topic or not Helen I've always appreciated your candor and ability to share your emotions in writing. Your point is well taken. None of us enjoy a monopoly on the truth and we're all searching for an ethic, an aesthetic, some way to make sense of our situation. This is what connects us to Jesus and to every spiritual leader I think. We're all in this thing together and every one of us wants to craft some way of living in harmony with the cosmos. I think we've come a long way from the supersitions of old but we've got a long way yet to go.</STRONG>
Thanks James...I just got Christianity Exposed by Solomon Tulbure and I'm reading it...I know he is not universally popular around here but I for one find it very interesting to read the perspective of why someone who has been trained in Orthodox Judaism rejects Jesus as Messiah - and one who is willing to treat the texts with an open mind. Too often people who are not Christians seem to go too far the other way, in my opinion.

I think his whole introduction is very much in the spirit of how people think around here - i.e. he emphasizes how essential it is to be open-minded as we search for the truth. And I'm not necessarily saying that in a particularly metaphysical sense. I mean any truth such as which of my children caused the grossly sticky patch of jam on the floor that no-one has cleaned up???

If I assumed it was one child for any reason I would be less likely to find the truth than if I simply looked at the evidence...but in doing so I would also consider that one of them hardly ever eats jam. I'd consider all information I had but I wouldn't decide ahead of time what the answer had to be...

respectfully yours,

p.s. Apikorus indeed What a game of words, isn't it? What kills me is the Calvinists explaining they aren't elect because they are's vaguely receivable when they say "I chose this and you chose otherwise" but when you get the double-whammy of "I'm saved, you're not, I'm not better but I WAS chosen to be saved"...ack!!!

There are Bible verses that say God is impartial...but somehow I know there's no point in mentioning that...
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:07 PM   #56
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My suggestion that Simon Magus was a first century messianic claimant was no joke.

Many of our extant sources on Simon Magus depict him as making some claim to super-human status.

Acts 8 (RSV)
But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.
They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is that power of God which is called Great."
And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.

Justin Martyr, First Apology, ch. 26

And, thirdly, because after Christ's ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honours. There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome:-"Simoni Deo Sancto,"51 "To Simon the holy God."And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Meander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetaea, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his. And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works. All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said,52 called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them. And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds53 -the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh-we know not; but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions. But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you.

Tertullian, Against All Heresies, ch. 1

Of these the first of all is Simon Magus, who in the Acts of the Apostles earned a condign and just sentence from the Apostle Peter.5 He had the hardihood to call himself the Supreme Virtue,6 that is, the Supreme God; and moreover, (to assert) that the universe7 had been originated by his angels; that he had descended in quest of an erring dÁmon,8 which was Wisdom; that, in a phantasmal semblance of God, he had not suffered among the Jews, but was as if he had suffered.9

Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul, ch. 34

He actually reigned himself to be the Supreme Father...

Origen, Against Celsus, Book VI, ch. 11

Such were Simon, the Magus of Samaria, and Dositheus, who was a native of the same place; since the former gave out that he was the power of God that is called great,58 and the latter that he was the Son of God.

Clementine Recognitions, Book II, ch. 9

I shall be worshipped as God; I shall have divine honours publicly assigned to me, so that an image of me shall be set up, and I shall be worshipped and adored as God.

The Clementine Homilies II, ch. 22

First Aquila began to speak in this wise: "Listen, O dearest brother, that you may know accurately everything about this man, whose he is, and what, and whence; and what the things are which he does, and how and why he does them.15 This Simon is the son of Antonius and Rachel, a Samaritan by race, of the village of Gitthae, which is six schoeni distant from the city. He having disciplined himself greatly in Alexandria,16 and being very powerful in magic, and being ambitious, wishes to be accounted a certain supreme power, greater even than the God who created the world. And sometimes intimating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One.17 And this epithet he employs, as intimating that he shall always stand, and as not having any cause of corruption so that his body should fall. And he neither says that the God who created the world is the Supreme, nor does he believe that the dead will be raised. He rejects Jerusalem, and substitutes Mount Gerizzim for it. Instead of our Christ, he proclaims himself. The things of the lair he explains by his own presumption; and he says, indeed, that there is to be a judgment, but he does not expect it. For if he were persuaded that he shall be judged by God, he would not dare be impious towards God Himself. Whence some not knowing that, using religion as a cloak, he spoils the things of the truth, and faithfully believing the hope and the judgment which in some way he says are to be, are ruined.

The Clementine Homilies IV, ch. 4

But Bernice, being asked, said: "These things are indeed as you have heard; and I will tell you other things respecting this same Simon, which perhaps you do not know. For he astonishes the whole city every day, by making spectres and ghosts appear in the midst of the market-place; and when he walks abroad, statues move, and many shadows go before him, which, he says, are souls of the dead. And many who attempted to prove him an impostor he speedily reconciled to him; and afterwards, under pretence of a banquet, having slain an ox, and given them to eat of it, he infected them with various diseases, and subjected them to demons. And in a word, having injured many, and being supposed to be a god, he is both feared and honoured.

The Acts of Peter and Paul

Nero said: Who is Christ? Peter said: He is what this Simon the magian affirms himself to be; but this is a most wicked man, and his works are of the devil. But if thou wishest to know, O good emperor, the things that have been done in Judaea about Christ, take the writings of Pontius Pilate sent to Claudius, and thus thou wilt know all.

The pseudo-Clementines cannot be fixed to the fourth century. The editors of the Roberts-Donaldson Ante-Nicene Fathers write: "The date of composition, or editing, cannot be definitely fixed. In their present form the several works may be as old as the first half of the third century, and the common basis may be placed in the latter half of the second century." Some such as Eisenman class the pseudo-clementines as second only to the Acts of the Apostles in reconstructing the history of the early church.

Now I wonder who that Dositheus fellow is, who Origen says claimed to be the Son of God.
Trustworthy information in regard to Dositheus is very scanty, but it is probable that he was one of the numerous Samaritan false messiahs, and lived at about the time of, or possibly before, Christ. "It seems likely that the Dositheans were a Jewish or Samaritan ascetic sect, something akin to the Essenest existing from before our Lord's time, and that the stories connecting their founder with Simon Magus and with John the Baptist [see the Clementine Recognitions, II. 8 and Homilies, II. 24], may be dismissed as merely mythical" (Salmon, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. art. Dositheus).

Tertullian in Against All Heresies says that Dositheus was one of the heretics of Judaism, for he repudiated the prophets.

An important point to be made is that there may not have been a sharp distinction between a claim to prophethood and a claim to messiahship, especially if the prophet believed that his actions could bring about the end of the world.

Clementine Recognitions, Book I, ch. 54

"They indeed rightly, from the predictions of Moses, expect the one true Prophet; but by the wickedness of Dositheus they were hindered from believing that Jesus is He whom they were expecting."

So the messianic expectation sometimes took the form of expectation of a "one true Prophet."

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