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Post: # 117162Post Egaladeist
Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:39 pm

Letters written to churches by said apostles, not that long after Jesus' death?
All the earliest writings were letters written to various Churches...and all are acceptably agreed to have been written between 45AD and 140AD.

That however does not mean that these letters were not altered over time to include an icon to which could be used to convert the masses...many early writings did not even mention a Jesus...or in many cases mentions him in a very different light...I posted some on your site not long ago.

eg. Taitian the Assyrian [AD 110–172.] a student of Justin Martyr refers to Jesus as the Logos.

Athenagoras, was an Athenian philosopher who had embraced Christianity, and that his Apology, or, as he styles it, "Embassy" (presbeia), was presented to the Emperors Aurelius and Commodus about a.d. 177.

partial quote

A Plea For the Christians
By Athenagoras the Athenian: Philosopher and Christian
To the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Anoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, conquerors of Armenia and Sarmatia, and more than all, philosophers.


Injustice Shown Towards the Christians.
In your empire, greatest of sovereigns, different nations have different customs and laws; and no one is hindered by law or fear of punishment from following his ancestral usages, however ridiculous these may be. A citizen of Ilium calls Hector a god, and pays divine honours to Helen, taking her for Adrasteia. The Lacedæmonian venerates Agamemnon as Zeus, and Phylono� the daughter of Tyndarus; and the man of Tenedos worships Tennes. [699] The Athenian sacrifices to Erechtheus as Poseidon. The Athenians also perform religious rites and celebrate mysteries in honour of Agraulus and Pandrosus, women who were deemed guilty of impiety for opening the box. In short, among every nation and people, men offer whatever sacrifices and celebrate whatever mysteries they please. The Egyptians reckon among their gods even cats, and crocodiles, and serpents, and asps, and dogs. And to all these both you and the laws give permission so to act, deeming, on the one hand, that to believe in no god at all is impious and wicked, and on the other, that it is necessary for each man to worship the gods he prefers, in order that through fear of the deity, men may be kept from wrong-doing. But why--for do not, like the multitude, be led astray by hearsay--why is a mere name odious to you? [700] Names are not deserving of hatred: it is the unjust act that calls for penalty and punishment. And accordingly, with admiration of your mildness and gentleness, and your peaceful and benevolent disposition towards every man, individuals live in the possession of equal rights; and the cities, according to their rank, share in equal honour; and the whole empire, under your intelligent sway, enjoys profound peace. But for us who are called Christians [701] you have not in like manner cared; but although we commit no wrong--nay, as will appear in the sequel of this discourse, are of all men most piously and righteously disposed towards the Deity and towards your government--you allow us to be harassed, plundered, and persecuted, the multitude making war upon us for our name alone. We venture, therefore, to lay a statement of our case before you--and you will team from this discourse that we suffer unjustly, and contrary to all law and reason--and we beseech you to bestow some consideration upon us also, that we may cease at length to be slaughtered at the instigation of false accusers. For the fine imposed by our persecutors does not aim merely at our property, nor their insults at our reputation, nor the damage they do us at any other of our greater interests. These we hold in contempt, though to the generality they appear matters of great importance; for we have learned, not only not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us, but to those who smite us on one side of the face to offer the other side also, and to those who take away our coat to give likewise our cloak. But, when we have surrendered our property, they plot against our very bodies and souls, [702] pouring upon us wholesale charges of crimes of which we are guiltless even in thought, but which belong to these idle praters themselves, and to the whole tribe of those who are like them.

this letter to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Anoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus is more than 30 chapters long...and never mentions the name Jesus once.

Chapter 4. The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.

As regards, first of all, the allegation that we are atheists— for I will meet the charges one by one, that we may not be ridiculed for having no answer to give to those who make them— with reason did the Athenians adjudge Diagoras guilty of atheism, in that he not only divulged the Orphic doctrine, and published the mysteries of Eleusis and of the Cabiri, and chopped up the wooden statue of Hercules to boil his turnips, but openly declared that there was no God at all. But to us, who distinguish God from matter, and teach that matter is one thing and God another, and that they are separated by a wide interval (for that the Deity is uncreated and eternal, to be beheld by the understanding and reason alone, while matter is created and perishable), is it not absurd to apply the name of atheism? If our sentiments were like those of Diagoras, while we have such incentives to piety— in the established order, the universal harmony, the magnitude, the colour, the form, the arrangement of the world— with reason might our reputation for impiety, as well as the cause of our being thus harassed, be charged on ourselves. But, since our doctrine acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated (for that which is does not come to be, but that which is not) but has made all things by the Logos which is from Him, we are treated unreasonably in both respects, in that we are both defamed and persecuted.

So..it's curious as to why some early writings mention Jesus and some don't...equally curious is how in many cases Jesus is seen as god's logos.


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Post: # 117164Post James
Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:32 pm

Interesting...

Well, you lead me to more questions Eg, such the vicious cycle. So doesn't the self-reference of "Christian" alone sufficiently reference "Christ"?

Even that aside though, it appears to be making a case of Christians not being atheists, and thus not deserving persecution. That being the case, any mention of Jesus would be irrelevant -- He's trying to make the case that they merely believe in God, not whether God sent a son or Messiah.

I guess I'm just not making the connect you're intending me to see?
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Post: # 117166Post Egaladeist
Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:40 pm

Most Christian letters begin with a declaration of their devotion to their Lord Jesus the Christ...

it is apparent in reading other Christian documents that even very well-educated Christians such as Athenagoras among several others I could cite did not make that connection...

this in itself assumes that the divinity of Jesus came much later and was interpolated into the primary and canonical Christian writings.

Because these are letters written to ' defend ' Christians against persecution by Christian leaders in positions of power to address the leaders of Nations you would think that the name Jesus would be referenced.

Theophilus of Antioch was the bishop of Antioch in the eighth year of the reign of Marcus Aurelius

Chapter XII.--Meaning of the Name Christian.
And about your laughing at me and calling me "Christian," you know not what you are saying. First, because that which is anointed [541] is sweet and serviceable, and far from contemptible. For what ship can be serviceable and seaworthy, unless it be first caulked [anointed]? Or what castle or house is beautiful and serviceable when it has not been anointed? And what man, when he enters into this life or into the gymnasium, is not anointed with oil? And what work has either ornament or beauty unless it be anointed and burnished? Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God. [542]

Where in this description of a Christian is the name Jesus?

Again...

Chapter IX.--Christian Doctrine of God and His Law.
Now we also confess that God exists, but that He is one, the creator, and maker, and fashioner of this universe; and we know that all things are arranged by His providence, but by Him alone. And we have learned a holy law; but we have as lawgiver Him who is really God, who teaches us to act righteously, and to be pious, and to do good. And concerning piety [647] He says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I am the Lord thy God." [648] And of doing good He said: "Honour thy father and thy mother; that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long in the land which I the Lord God give thee." Again, concerning righteousness: "Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor his land, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his beast of burden, nor any of his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbour's. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of the poor in his cause. [649] From every unjust matter keep thee far. The innocent and righteous thou shalt not slay; thou shalt not justify the wicked; and thou shalt not take a gift, for gifts blind the eyes of them that see and pervert righteous words." Of this divine law, then, Moses, who also was God's servant, was made the minister both to all the world, and chiefly to the Hebrews, who were also called Jews, whom an Egyptian king had in ancient days enslaved, and who were the righteous seed of godly and holy men--Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. God, being mindful of them, and doing marvellous and strange miracles by the hand of Moses, delivered them, and led them out of Egypt, leading them through what is called the desert; whom He also settled again in the land of Canaan, which afterwards was called jud�a, and gave them a law, and taught them these things. Of this great and wonderful law, which tends to all righteousness, the ten heads are such as we have already rehearsed.

again...

Chapter XV.--The Innocence of the Christians Defended.
Consider, therefore, whether those who teach such things can possibly live indifferently, and be commingled in unlawful intercourse, or, most impious of all, eat human flesh, especially when we are forbidden so much as to witness shows of gladiators, lest we become partakers and abettors of murders. But neither may we see the other spectacles, [670] lest our eyes and ears be defiled, participating in the utterances there sung. For if one should speak of cannibalism, in these spectacles the children of Thyestes and Tereus are eaten; and as for adultery, both in the case of men and of gods, whom they celebrate in elegant language for honours and prizes, this is made the subject of their dramas. But far be it from Christians to conceive any such deeds; for with them temperance dwells, self-restraint is practiced, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, iniquity exterminated, sin extirpated, righteousness exercised, law administered, worship performed, God acknowledged: truth governs, grace guards, peace screens them; the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns. Therefore, though we have much to say regarding our manner of life, and the ordinances of God, the maker of all creation, we yet consider that we have for the present reminded you of enough to induce you to study these things, especially since you can now read [our writings] for yourself, that as you have been fond of acquiring information, you may still be studious in this direction also.
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Post: # 117168Post James
Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:22 pm

Ok, I follow. Much like Paul's letters usually start with some mention of Jesus.

However, if for the sake of argument the writers above did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, then why did they refer to themselves as Christians in the first place?
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Post: # 117170Post Egaladeist
Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:58 pm

' Christ ' means anointed...

the bolded statement from above:

because we are anointed with the oil of God

explains their reasoning...Christian...by early Christian understanding meant '
anointed by god ' or more specifically ' anointed with the oil of God ' ...' chosen ' .... ' chosen ones '...' deliverers '

Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed by light and spirit; and are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? Wherefore we are called Christians on this account, because we are anointed with the oil of God.

It does not say ' we are called Christians on account of our relationship with Jesus '

There is no reason to doubt that Jesus existed...no reason to doubt that he was persecuted and even crucified...but there is strong evidence within the early Christian community itself to suggest that the divinity of Jesus didn't come until much later or was not embraced by the whole Christian community until much later.

It could be that Jesus was the ' first ' Christian and the ' first ' persecuted Christian so it was natural to elevate his status for the purpose of conversions.

Every movement needs a charismatic leader to follow...or it quickly fades.
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Post: # 117319Post James
Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:47 pm

Ya gave me something I had to spend a couple of days thinking on there, Eg. I want to throw some more questions out to learn your view on some things you stated, if I may:
There is no reason to doubt that Jesus existed...
Where do you draw this conclusion from?
but there is strong evidence within the early Christian community itself to suggest that the divinity of Jesus didn't come until much later or was not embraced by the whole Christian community until much later.
How do you factor in the original Gospel writers into this idea? Do you think the 12 Apostles were real, and truly believed as the Gospels claimed to be written by them say?

On another note, I've started reading just a little on Josephus...quickly learning that's another complicated subject, evidently.
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Post: # 117334Post Egaladeist
Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:36 pm

Every legend has some measure of truth...eg. the legend/tale of Paul Bunyan is likely about a real Quebec logger who was said to be so strong he could fell a tree with two blows of his ax.

Socrates called the Greek gods his ' ancestors '...referencing that he believed they were likely the real founders of Greece...the ' first ' Greeks...

Jesus likely lived as Zeus at one time lived...real men who were made into gods before man.

There is no non-partisan documentation to support the existence of Jesus...even though the Romans and Egyptians at the time kept records of the population...the reason Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem was to participate in the required Roman census for the purpose of taxation...
that being said it is unlikely that Jesus was a complete fabrication.

Of the 12...only James Jesus' brother is mentioned by a non-partisan source...Antiquities 20:9:1 by Josephus...
there are no other source material outside of partisan manuscripts regarding the lives or deaths of the 12.

This quote is generally accepted as the only non-partisan reference to an Apostle or Jesus himself and the existence of Jesus...although debated...
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such a were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent.
the only other quote is considered by virtually every authority as being an interpolation and therefore not written by Josephus...but added well after by the Christian Fathers...

Antiquities of the Jews - Book XVIII
3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
both of these references in respect to Jesus are debated as being not written by Josephus...the latter to a much greater degree.

The former refers to Jesus as the one they call Christ...not an affirmation of being the Christ...the latter is a completely misplaced interpolation that doesn't even follow Josephus' syntax.

There is no question in anyone's mind that the latter was fabricated...the former is open to debate.
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Post: # 117336Post James
Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:57 pm

Eg,

What do you know about this?
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
--Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian)
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Post: # 117340Post Egaladeist
Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:34 am

If you look at the preceding paragraph and what Tacitus is talking about ...
These changes which were liked for their utility, also added beauty to the new city. Some, however, thought that its old arrangement had been more conducive to health, inasmuch as the narrow streets with the elevation of the roofs were not equally penetrated by the sun's heat, while now the open space, unsheltered by any shade, was scorched by a fiercer glow.
and in a paragraph immediately proceeding ...
Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm. Throughout Asia and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those provinces.
The interpolation would have you believe that in the midst of him talking about the beautification and desolation of Nero and Rome that he stopped to mention the death and persecution of Christians...

you have to look in the context that it was written...if it doesn't look like it belongs...it probably doesn't.

What you're seeing is an addition...an interpolation...and a very bad one...

Take a good read of the paragraphs preceding and proceeding the interpolations...and you will see they do not belong there.
"There are serious problems with Tacitus' account concerning the historicity of Jesus. Roman imperial documents would never refer to Jesus by his Christian title as 'Christ' and Pilate was a prefect, not a procurator. This has led many scholars to conclude that the passage is a later Christian interpolation, inserted to provide validity to their fledgling movement. Unlike Josephus however, no real evidence exists to suggest literal textual tampering, so this has become a controversial position to take and others like Robertson, prefer to say that Tacitus was merely repeating a story told to him by contemporary Christians. Considering the inaccuracy in the passage, the latter is just as valid an explanation as the interpolation suggestion. Either way it puts us no closer to the historicity of Jesus because by the end of the first century the passion narrative, as told by Paul, was already well known."
Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, who compiled pagan references to Christ in his The History of the Church in the early 4th C. C.E., never mentions the Tacitus passage. In fact no reference appears until the 15th century C.E.
Suetonius mentions Chrestus as an instigator of Jews...
Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus , he expelled them from Rome.
he does not associate this Chrestus with Christ...but it has been suggested it refers to Christians generally...

eg. Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Christians , he expelled them from Rome.

The two other most prominent Jewish historians were Philo of Alexandria who lived near Jerusalem and Justus of Tiberius who was a native of Galilee...neither, though living throughout the age of Jesus, ever mentions him once.
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Post: # 117343Post Egaladeist
Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:32 am

Let's assume something for a moment....

that Jesus was just a man...like Siddhattha Gotama was just a man...like Socrates was just a man...righteous and decent...true to his convictions...but still just a man...

would that make you turn your back on Christianity?

Siddhattha being just a man does not prevent someone from adhering to his teachings...Socrates being a man does not prevent someone from adhering to his philosophy...

if someone were to prove conclusively, without a doubt, that Jesus was only a man...

would it really matter?
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Post: # 117392Post James
Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:54 pm

would it really matter?
Yes and no.

No in that my view of God would not change. Through my own experience, I've come to the conclusion that God is a loving, caring, just God. The things Jesus taught about loving each other, loving God, living a life of peace, doing for others, etc., would still be absolutely totally valid.

However, yes in that it would force a reevaluation of religions at hand. If Jesus were not the Christ, would that mean Judaism is still more on the mark, and we're still bound by OT laws?

Would it mean there is no salvation through Christ?

Or would it mean it's all way off the mark and Buddha knew exactly what he was talking about? :shock:

All that said, let me pose another question I've been thinking about --

Personally, where I am right now, I can say that while my faith is very grounded, at the same time I'm learning that some details I've understood about the history of that faith have been a bit off the mark.

For example, what was considered major map-spanning travels back then is in our eyes very localized, small jaunts. Jesus and his disciples spent a lot of time in small towns and what not. If that's the case, could it not be suggested that perhaps, history never captured Jesus' life simply because in the grand scheme of things, he wasn't "that big a deal"?

Certain groups of people witnessed his works. A very small handful of people witnessed the tomb. The NT account of how many folks saw him post-resurrection count to just a little over 500, if memory serves correct. He taught upon mounts, but not from royal palaces. Hundreds, thousands heard him, not millions.

Could it simply be that from the standpoint of the massive Roman Empire's prospective, Jesus was just a tiny speck on the map, not worth noting, not worth making any more record of than the next rebellious small town Jew?
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Post: # 117404Post Egaladeist
Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:34 pm

The two other most prominent Jewish historians were Philo of Alexandria who lived near Jerusalem and Justus of Tiberius who was a native of Galilee...neither, though living throughout the age of Jesus, ever mentions him once.
The thing is that they don't even mention him in a derogatory way...he is completely absent from mention...Josephus mentions him but that is an interpolation...among other reasons Josephus would never have portrayed Jesus as the Christ or would even inference it...

and they lived through the life of Jesus at the time...and in the same general locations...they would have been well aware of miracles or confrontations with the Pharisees or Sadducees ...and any other happening causing a stir among the Jewish people...

Philo of Alexandria alone wrote over 850,000 words and never mentions Jesus at all or any of the events described in the NT.

So...assuming that Jesus was not well known...not even a footnote to those in Rome...or Egypt...or Greece...he appears to be the same close by...not only is he not mentioned...

he isn't even mentioned in a derogatory way.

There aren't even any plays about him.

Greeks and Romans loved to mock people in plays...Socrates was a regular victim of the comic tragedies ...during his life and afterward...it is those very plays that affirm Socrates beliefs and life...

the problem isn't just that there is no evidence...the problem is also there is no evidence of a negative fashion either...
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Post: # 117476Post DaFoxx
Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:09 pm

Certain groups of people witnessed his works. A very small handful of people witnessed the tomb. The NT account of how many folks saw him post-resurrection count to just a little over 500, if memory serves correct. He taught upon mounts, but not from royal palaces. Hundreds, thousands heard him, not millions.
around that time the entire planetary population would only have been around 180 million, it took us till 1800 to reach one billion, and only a further 200 years to break six billion.

http://www.worldhistorysite.com/population.html

so, to reach 000's of people then, would need to reach 10 000 000 + now to be in scale

thousands then was a HUGE number

natural disaster has always had a major kill capability, and warfare didn't get to really big numbers until the 1800's, again after we breached one billion people, and our kill technology took off

Napoleon is reputed to have 'boasted' that he could lose, and HAD lost 20 000 men a day, and still fight and win

when up until then, a full scale war woud only kill a few thousand ...............

IF JC was a god
we would have had everything he said or done, transcribed for posterity

as it stands, he may well have been an agitator,
but only a human soul, who has been hi-jacked for a bigger purpose

and as such, he must be the best ever disinformation package EVER
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Post: # 117479Post James
Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:19 pm

so, to reach 000's of people then, would need to reach 10 000 000 + now to be in scale
I was talking in the lower ends of thousands though...If memory serves correct, he had the attention of a few thousand (feeding the 5,000?), and that's the highest number of folks I recall reading about.

So more accurately, we're closer to the hundreds scale?
IF JC was a god
we would have had everything he said or done, transcribed for posterity
Can we be sure of that?
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Post: # 117487Post DaFoxx
Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:42 pm

Can we be sure of that?
if YOU were to follow someone, that YOU believed absolutely to be a son of god
wouldn't you keep a record of EVERYTHING they did ??

and I seem to remember reading that the apostles books weren't actually written within a human lifetime of JC being around
which would tend to look a little like ghost writing taken to the n'th degree .......
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