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    Update: The Gospel according to Price part 2 is now on youtube!

    I really like these two posts from Bahamuth, arguing that the 1 st century BCE Jesus is earlier. Interesting arguments.

    James Hiscox’s post on pagan parallels and Justin Martyr’s diabolicalmimicry argument is likewise worth checking out.

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    Article by: Nicholas Covington

    I used to blog at Answers in Genesis BUSTED! I took the creationist organization Answers in Genesis to pieces. I am the author of Atheism and Naturalism and Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence, and the Resurrection of Jesus. I am an armchair philosopher with interests in Ethics, Epistemology (that's philosophy of knowledge), Philosophy of Religion, and Skepticism in general.

    53 comments

    1. Hannah, Darrell D. (1999) [now bolded]. Michael and Christ: Michael Traditions and Angel Christology in Early Christianity. Mohr Siebeck. p. 203f. ISBN 978-3-16-147054-7. @ https://books.google.com/books?id=qKtXVU9EQTIC&pg=PA203
      “[Per Justin Martyr] we should be careful not to press direct philonic influence on Justin’s doctrine of the Logos. First of all, many of Justin’s interpretations are not found in Philo. Furthermore, if Justin depends on Philo, he does so only in the broadest possible sense and does not follow him closely. Above all, for Justin the Logos remains intrinsically tied to Christian revelation: The Logos became incarnate in Jesus. There is, of course, no parallel to this in Philo. Nonetheless, for Philo and Justin the subject of at least some of the OT theophanies is a figure who can justly be referred to as both “Logos” and “God”. Indeed, while Philo’s bold phrase “the second God” (ὀ δεύτερος Θεός; Q.G. 2.62) is not found in Justin, he can call the Logos ”another God and Lord” (Θεὸς καὶ κύριος ἕτερος; Dial. 56.4). So it is possible that, even if Justin did not know Philo directly, he was familiar with an interpretative tradition similar to Philo’s.”

      Ehrman, Bart (28 September 2015). “Early Christian Docetism”. The Bart Ehrman Blog :
      “From the surviving documents of the period, there appear to have been five major competing Christologies (= understandings of who Christ was) throughout the Christian church […] [Docetism] understood Christ to be a fully divine being and therefore not human; Adoptionism understood him to be a fully human being and not actually divine; Separationism understood him to be two distinct beings, one human (the man Jesus) and the other divine (the divine Christ); Modalism understood him to be God the Father become flesh. The fifth view is the one the “won out,” the Proto-orthodox view…”

      Cf. “Proto-orthodox Christianity” @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-orthodox_Christianity

      1. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock (23 April 2012). “Does early Church father Justin Martyr quote the gospels?”. Freethought Nation. @ http://freethoughtnation.com/does-justin-martyr-quote-the-gospels/

        A closer look at Justin’s writings reveals not what scholars and Christian believers want to find but what is really there: No verbatim quotes or unambiguous citations from the canonical gospels as we have them appear anywhere in Justin’s extant works. Nor does Justin Martyr name any of the evangelists in any known text, an erroneous impression given by Ehrman’s wording here. In other words, Matthew, Mark and Luke are never named by Justin; nor is John.

        Giles, John Allen (1854). Christian Records: an historical enquiry concerning the age, authorship, and authenticity of the New Testament. p. 71. @ https://books.google.com/books/content?id=lOpUAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA71&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0r_KnjjGFARrTtIIQlQR6PlQAJlQ&ci=102%2C187%2C752%2C915&edge=0

        The testimony of Justin Martyr who wrote his “Apology for the Christians” in A.D. 151 …does not name a single writer of the eight, who are said to have written the books of the New Testament. The very names of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are never mentioned by him —do not occur once in all his works. It is therefore not true that he has quoted from our existing Gospels, and so proves their existence, as they now are, in his own time.

      2. Doherty, Earl. “The Second Century Apologists”. The Jesus Puzzle (website). @ http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/century2.htm
        “[Per Tatian, a pupil of Justin Martyr] sometime around 160, he wrote an Apology to the Greeks, urging pagan readers to turn to the truth. In this description of Christian truth, Tatian uses neither “Jesus” nor “Christ” nor even the name “Christian.” Much space is devoted to outlining the Logos, the creative power of the universe, first-begotten of the Father, through whom the world was made—but none to the incarnation of this Logos. His musings on God and the Logos, rather than being allusions to the Gospel of John, as some claim, contradict the Johannine Prologue in some respects and may reflect Logos commonplaces of the time. Resurrection of the dead is not supported by Jesus’ resurrection. Eternal life is gained through knowledge of God (13:1), not by any atoning sacrifice of Jesus. In Tatian’s Apology we find a few allusions to Gospel sayings, but no specific reference to written Gospels and no attribution of such things to Jesus. Instead, all knowledge comes from God himself. Tatian says he was “God-taught” (29:2).”

        Pagels, Elaine H. (1975). The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters. Fortress Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-8006-0403-5.
        “[Per the view of Paul as the opponent of gnostic heresy] if this view of Paul is accurate, the Pauline exegesis of second-century gnostics is nothing less than astonishing. Gnostic writers not only fail to grasp the whole point of Paul’s writings, but they dare to claim his letters as a primary source of gnostic theology.”

      3. Arendzen, John P. (1913). “Demiurge”. In Herbermann, Charles G. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Universal Knowledge Foundation. @ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Demiurge

        demiourgós became the technical term for the Maker of heaven and earth. In this sense it is used frequently by Plato in his “Timæus”. […] [In] Greek philosophy the world-maker is not necessarily identical with God, as first and supreme source of all things; he may be distinct from and inferior to the supreme spirit, though he may also be the practical expression of the reason of God, the Logos as operative in the harmony of the universe. In this sense, i.e. that of a world-maker distinct from the Supreme God, Demiurge became a common term in Gnosticism.

        Barnard, Leslie William (1967) [now bolded]. Justin Martyr: His Life and Thought. CUP Archive. p. 36. @ https://books.google.com/books?id=bS49AAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA36&dq=Justin%20Martyr%20demiurge&pg=PA36#v=onepage&q&f=false

        What Justin says in Dial. v corresponds exactly with Timaeus 41 A B. What is interesting is that Justin interprets the passage in a special way. The words which the Demiurge in the Timaeus addresses to the gods are taken out of their context and applied to the cosmological problem. Andresen points out that this interpretation is found among the Middle Platonists.

    2. Question: Who does Justin Martyr claim is the Demiurge?

      Iustinus – Apologia Prima @ http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/20vs/103_migne_gm/0100-0160,_Iustinus,_Apologia_Prima_(MPG_006_0327_0440),_GM.pdf
      p.367
      (41) […] Μαρκίωνα δέ τινα Ποντικὸν, ὃς καὶ νῦν ἔτι ἐστὶ διδάσκων τοὺς πειθομένους, ἄλλον τινὰ νομίζειν μείζονα (42) τοῦ δημιουργοῦ θεὸν, ὃς κατὰ πᾶν (43) γένος ἀνθρώπων διὰ τῆς τῶν δαιμόνων συλλήψεως, πολλοὺς πεποἱκε βλασφημἱας λέγειν, καὶ ἀρνεῖσθαι τὸν ποιητὴν τοῦδε τοῦ παντὸς πατέρα εἶναι τοῦ “ Χριστοῦ , ἄλλον δέ τινα ὡς ὄντα μείζονα (44) παρὰ τοῦτον ὁμολογεῖν πεποιηκέναι. καὶ Πάντες οἱ ἀπὸ τούτων (45) ὡρμημένοι, ὡς ἔφαμεν (46), Χριστιανοὶ καλοῦνται, ὃν τρόπον καὶ οἱ οὐ κοινωνοῦντες τῶν αὐτῶν δογμάτων τοῖς φιλοσόφοις, τὸ ἑπικατηγοροὑμενον ὄνομα τῆς φιλοσοφίας κοινὸν ἔχουσιν. Ει δὲ καὶ τὰ δὑσφημα ἑκεῖνα μυθολογοὐμενα ἔργα πρἀττουσι, λυχνίας μὲν ὰνατροπὴν, καὶ τὰς ἀνἑδην μ!ξεις, καὶ ἀνθρωπείων σαρκῶν βορὰς (47), οὐ γινώσκομεν · ἀλλ’ ὅτι μὴ διώκονται, μηδὲ φονεὐονται ὑφ’ ὑμῶν, κᾶν διὰ τὰ δόγκοντα (48), ἑπιστἀμεθα. “Εστι δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ σύνταγμα κατὰ πασῶν τῶν γεγενημένων αἱρέσεων συντεταγμένον (49)· ᾧ εἰ βούλεσθε ἐντυχεῖν, δώσομεν.

      (41) […] Markíona dé tina Pontikón, ós kaí nýn éti estí didáskon toús peithoménous, állon tiná nomízein meízona (42) toú dimiourgoú theón, ós katá pán (43) génos anthrópon diá tís tón daimónon syllípseos, polloús pepoike vlasfimias légein, kaí arneísthai tón poiitín toúde toú pantós patéra eínai toú “ Christoú, állon dé tina os ónta meízona (44) pará toúton omologeín pepoiikénai. kaí Pántes oi apó toúton (45) ormiménoi, os éfamen (46), Christianoí kaloúntai, ón trópon kaí oi ou koinonoúntes tón aftón dogmáton toís filosófois, tó epikatigoroumenon ónoma tís filosofías koinón échousin. Ei dé kaí tá dysfima ekeína mythologoumena érga prattousi, lychnías mén ánatropín, kaí tás anedin m!xeis, kaí anthropeíon sarkón vorás (47), ou ginóskomen : all’ óti mí diókontai, midé fonevontai yf’ ymón, kán diá tá dónkonta (48), epistametha. “Esti dé imín kaí sýntagma katá pasón tón gegeniménon airéseon syntetagménon (49): ó ei voúlesthe entycheín, dósomen.

      59 […] [26.] […] Marcionem etiam quemdam Ponticum [novimus, qui] etiamnum superest ac discipulos docet alium quemdam agnoscere maiorem mundi opifice Deum. Hic in omni hominum genere daemonum adiumento perfecit, ut multi in blasphemias erumperent, ac universi creatorem Deum Christi patrem esse negarent, et alium quemdam, utpote maiorem, maiora quam illum perfecisse profiterentur. Qui ab istorum disciplina profecti sunt, ii omnes, ut diximus, appellantur Christiani; quemadmodum et qui judicia cum philosphis communia non habent, commune nomen ex philosophia ductum habent. An vero etiam nefanda illa et fabulosa facinora perpetrent, lucernae eversionem, promiscuos concubitus, carnium humanarum epulas, non scimus. At 60 eos a vobis nec vexari nec occidi, saltem ob ipsorum opiniones, novimus.

      59 […] [26.] […] Marcion, a native of Ponticum, [know that he] is still left and teaches students to recognize another one of the world’s greatest creator God. At this point in the class of demons with the help of hand fulfilled it present in all peoples, from breaking out that most of them for evil-speaking, of Christ that the Father is God, the Creator of the universe, and they denied it, and the other one of them, for example, an adult, and even greater works than he did finish, and enroll themselves. They who were of the training of these men set out, on all those who, as we have said, are called the Christians; in common with the philosophy, just as they do not have, and who deal with judgments, they have a common part of the name of a philosophy. That day and all the fabulous stories of the crimes they perpetrate or while it is abominable, the overthrow of the lamp, promiscuous sexual intercourse, human flesh the best food that we do not know. at 60 do not trouble yourself, I have slain them by you, even, at least as to their notions, we know.

      Ante-Nicene Christian Library/Volume II @ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Ante-Nicene_Christian_Library_Vol_2.43/djvu
      “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 unvierse, 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, 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 deeds—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.”

      1. Van Kooten, George H. (2014) [now bolded]. “The Divine Father of the Universe From the Presocratics To Celsus: the Graeco-roman Background To the “father of All” in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians”. In Felix Albrecht; Reinhard Feldmeier. The Divine Father: Religious and Philosophical Concepts of Divine Parenthood in Antiquity. BRILL. p. 294. ISBN 978-90-04-26477-9.

        . . . before the Father (πατήρ), from whom every lineage or “fatherhood” (πατριά) in heaven and on earth takes its name (πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται). (Eph 3:14f.)

        In this phrase, we have the long, descriptive form of what is later, in good Greek fashion, condensed to πατὴρ πάντων, the “Father of all.” [cf. παντὸς πατέρα, “Every Father”, per First Apology of Justin Martyr] The concise term is then embedded in the terminology of what Gregory Sterling has styled Greek “prepositional metaphysics”: the Father of all is the one ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν (“who is above all and through all and in all”). In his designation of God as the Father (πατήρ), from whom all cosmic fatherhood (πατριά) takes its name, the author seems to be unique: I have not found any comparable expressions in the surviving literature that combine πατήρ and πατριά in this way. This could be taken as a sign of how intensely the author had appropriated the Greek view of God as the cosmic Father of all.

      2. Marian Hillar [now bolded]. “Numenius and Greek Sources of Justin’s Theology”. http://www.socinian.org. Center for Philosophy and Socinian Studies. @ http://www.socinian.org/files/Numenius_GreekSources.pdf

        [Per Justin Martyr] The Second God, the Creator (πoιητής, δηµιoυργός) rules by passing through the heavens. What is his function? […] Whenever the divinity looks on any of us, life and animation of bodies is the result […] The Second Divinity remains in a subordinate position to the First One. […] there is no trace of the post-Nicaean Trinity in Justin’s writings understood as the triune divinity, but a hierarchically organized triad as he believed in only one God, God the Father. The Logos and the Holy Pneuma had subordinate ranks, being in the second and third place, respectively, and entirely dependent on the will of God the Father.

    3. I like that Price starts off the video with a quote from Nietzsche. This is one of my favorite “religion quotes” from Nietzsche: “Paul simply shifted the center of gravity of that whole life to a place behind this existence in the LIE of the ‘risen’ Jesus (Nietzsche, Anti Christ, Chapter 42).”

    4. I just wanted to share a comment I posted in the reader comment section of one of my blog posts on my blog (see http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2017/10/ ) regarding Jesus and the Caesars:

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the resurrection appearances referred to in the pre-Pauline Corinthian creed, and how they might be thought of in the context of Dr. Dennis R MacDonald’s mimesis work on the New Testament. Perhaps the resurrection appearance claims were Noble Lies (a la Plato, Euripides, etc.) meant to lend divine clout to (and help the disciples carry on) Jesus’ message of love of God, neighbor, and enemy after Jesus died (a cause the disciples may have been willing to die for)?

      In “Mythologizing Jesus (2015, pg. 3),” Dr. Dennis MacDonald writes:

      “The importance of the Homeric epics in antiquity is undisputed. A contemporary of Mark and Luke praised them as follows: ‘From the earliest age, children beginning their studies are nursed on Homer’s teaching. One might say that while we were still in swathing bands we sucked from his epics as from fresh milk. He assists the beginner and later the adult in his prime. In no stage of life, from boyhood to old age, do we ever cease to drink from him’ (Ps.~Heraclitus, Homeric Questions 1.5-6, cited in MacDonald, Mythologizing Jesus, pg. 3). ”

      Since the Gospel writers and Paul wrote in Greek, one would assume they would be they would be familiar with this. Continuing on, Dr Dennis R MacDonald argues:

      “Greek education largely involved imitation of the epics, what Greeks called mimesis; Romans called it imitatio. Homeric influence thus appears in many genres of ancient composition: poetry, of course, but also histories, biographies and novels. One must not confuse such imitations with plagiarism, willful misrepresentation, or pitiful gullibility. Rather, by evoking literary antecedents, authors sought to impress the reader with the superiority of the imitation in literary style, philosophical insights, or ethical values. Literary mimesis often promoted a sophisticated rivalry between the esteemed models and their innovating successors (MacDonald, Mythologizing Jesus, pg. 3).”

      Maybe, in the resurrection appearance claims present in the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed, the first Christians were inventing these appearance accounts to present Jesus as greater than the Roman emperors. In this regard, Justin Martyr writes:

      “What about your dead emperors, whom you always esteem as being rescued from death and set forth someone who swears to have seen the cremated Caesar [Augustus] ascending from the pyre into the sky?” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 21.3).”

      It seems impossible to pull back the veil in front of the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed to discover whether the resurrection appearance claims therein were Lies, Legendary Accumulation (although they may be too early to be Legendary), Hallucinations, or whether the apostles actually did encounter the risen Jesus?

      And there may be good reason to suppose the early Christians were directly concerned with establishing that Jesus was greater than Caesar. The syncretic flavor of Mark is at once evident from his reproduction of a piece of Augustan imperial propaganda and his setting it beside a tailored scripture quote. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” closely matches the formula found on a monument erected by the Provincial Assembly in Asia Minor (1st century BCE): “Whereas… Providence… has… brought our life to the peak of perfection in giving us Augustus Caesar… who, being sent to us and to our descendants as a savior…, and whereas… the birthday of the god has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (euaggelion) concerning him, let all reckon a new era beginning from the date of his birth.” Mark 12:17 also seems to establish that only trivial things are to be rendered unto Caesar, whereas the true esteem is to be given to God.

      And we know the Jews of that time engaged in mimesis, just as the Greeks and Romans did, such as the material Matthew invented to portray Jesus as the new and greater Moses.

      1. Collins, Adela Yarbro (2012). “Traveling Up and Away: Journeys to the Upper and Outer Regions of the World”. In David Edward Aune; Frederick Brenk. Greco-Roman Culture and the New Testament: Studies Commemorating the Centennial of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. BRILL. p. 140, 143. ISBN 90-04-22631-1.

        Culianu discerned two types of ascents in ancient literature: (1) the “Greek” type in which beliefs about ascents are conformed to scientific hypotheses; examples are the Gnostics, Hermetic literature, Numenius, Macrobius, Servius, Proclus, and other Neoplatonists; (2) the “Jewish” type in which the seven heavens are not identified with seven planetary spheres; examples are Jewish apocalyptic texts, Christian apocalyptic texts, texts about the ascent of Mohammed. He also included in this type Plato’s story about Er and Plutarch. James D. Tabor distinguished four types of ascent: (1) ascent as an invasion of heaven; (2) ascent to receive revelation; (3) ascent to heavenly immortality; and (4) ascent as a foretaste of the heavenly world.
        […]
        After Julius Caesar’s enemies murdered him, his body was cremated and his ashes placed in the family tomb. It was believed, however, and officially declared by the Senate, that his soul had ascended to heaven and become a god in the form of a star. When Augustus died in 14 CE, the Senate voted his deification immediately after the funeral. A junior senator, Numerius Atticus, swore in public that he had seen the late emperor ascending to heaven.

    5. Howard-Brook, Wes; Gwyther, Anthony. Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now. Orbis Books. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-60833-155-0.

      [Per B. J. Malina] His conclusion is that Revelation portrays Jesus as “one wielding control of the cosmos” from his position “in the sky” and hence he is the Messiah of God worthy of honor and loyalty in place of earthly emperors and the Roman gods and goddesses. [Malina, Bruce J. (1995). On the Genre and Message of Revelation: Star Visions and Sky Journeys. Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN 978-1-56563-040-6.]

      1. One last thought on the possible portrayal of Jesus as greater than the Caesar’s:

        Craig Koester’s Revelation commentary says:

        “The section climaxes by noting that [Jesus] holds seven stars in his right hand (Rev 1:16). This cosmic imagery conveys sovereignty. An analogy appears on a coin from Domitian’s reign that depicts the emperor’s deceased son as young Jupiter, sitting on the globe in a posture of world dominion. The coin’s inscription calls him “divine Caesar, son of the emperor Domitian,” and the imagery shows him extending his hands to seven stars in a display of divinity and power. John has already identified Jesus as the ruler of kings on earth (1:5), and the imagery of the seven stars fits the book’s larger context, which contrasts the reign of Christ with that of imperial Rome. (p. 253).”

        Brandon D. Smith comments on Koester’s Revelation commentary here that:

        Koester is referring to the coin in the image used in Rome around AD 88-96 during the reign of the brutal Caesar Domitian. Koester’s insights here give us an interesting look at the background of John’s writing during hostile Roman persecution. It also helps us think about the later date of Revelation’s writing (the end of the first century) versus a potential earlier dating (some say it might’ve been written closer to AD 65). This is enough to chew on a little bit.
        But it offers us more than that. This information helps shed light on the theology of Revelation.

        First, it shows us that much of Revelation’s imagery (beasts, numbers, etc.) are direct shots at the Roman empire. Many believe (and I could be convinced) that Revelation is written during intense Roman persecution and this letter was first written to encourage the Church during that time. However, as a non-preterist, I believe portions of the letter are speaking of future events—i,e., Jesus hasn’t come back yet; the New Jerusalem isn’t here yet; etc. In any event, this note might help us better understand the anti-imperial leanings of John.

        Second, it shows us how high John’s Christology was. He’s not merely putting Jesus on par with some exalted or glorified person. Rather, he’s portraying Jesus as divine—specifically pitting Jesus’s true divine sovereignty against the supposed divine sovereignty of the Roman emperorship. Roman caesars liked to pretend to be gods, but John is reminding them and us that there’s only one true God. Jupiter is seated on the world with stars hovering around him? Ha—Jesus created the world and clutches the stars in his hand.

        As I argue in my thesis, John explicitly and purposely ties Jesus into the divine identity of YHWH, and this little note only adds to the case.

        Perhaps Jesus as surpassing Caesar is more pervasive in the NT than originally thought.

    6. Nicholas: I’ll try again to post it.

      One last thought on the possible portrayal of Jesus as greater than the Caesars:

      Craig Koester’s Revelation commentary says:

      “The section climaxes by noting that [Jesus] holds seven stars in his right hand (Rev 1:16). This cosmic imagery conveys sovereignty. An analogy appears on a coin from Domitian’s reign that depicts the emperor’s deceased son as young Jupiter, sitting on the globe in a posture of world dominion. The coin’s inscription calls him “divine Caesar, son of the emperor Domitian,” and the imagery shows him extending his hands to seven stars in a display of divinity and power. John has already identified Jesus as the ruler of kings on earth (1:5), and the imagery of the seven stars fits the book’s larger context, which contrasts the reign of Christ with that of imperial Rome. (p. 253).”

      Brandon D. Smith comments on Koester’s Revelation commentary here that:

      Koester is referring to the coin in the image used in Rome around AD 88-96 during the reign of the brutal Caesar Domitian. Koester’s insights here give us an interesting look at the background of John’s writing during hostile Roman persecution. It also helps us think about the later date of Revelation’s writing (the end of the first century) versus a potential earlier dating (some say it might’ve been written closer to AD 65). This is enough to chew on a little bit.
      But it offers us more than that. This information helps shed light on the theology of Revelation.

      First, it shows us that much of Revelation’s imagery (beasts, numbers, etc.) are direct shots at the Roman empire. Many believe (and I could be convinced) that Revelation is written during intense Roman persecution and this letter was first written to encourage the Church during that time. However, as a non-preterist, I believe portions of the letter are speaking of future events—i,e., Jesus hasn’t come back yet; the New Jerusalem isn’t here yet; etc. In any event, this note might help us better understand the anti-imperial leanings of John.

      Second, it shows us how high John’s Christology was. He’s not merely putting Jesus on par with some exalted or glorified person. Rather, he’s portraying Jesus as divine—specifically pitting Jesus’s true divine sovereignty against the supposed divine sovereignty of the Roman emperorship. Roman caesars liked to pretend to be gods, but John is reminding them and us that there’s only one true God. Jupiter is seated on the world with stars hovering around him? Ha—Jesus created the world and clutches the stars in his hand.

      As I argue in my thesis, John explicitly and purposely ties Jesus into the divine identity of YHWH, and this little note only adds to the case.

      Perhaps Jesus as surpassing Caesar is more pervasive in the NT than originally thought.

    7. Moon (Selene) + Sun (Helios) + 5 planets i.e “stars that wander” (asteres planetai, ἀστέρες πλανῆται) = 7

      Perkins, Pheme (1983). The Book of Revelation. Liturgical Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-8146-1311-5.

      The Roman emperor could be portrayed as holding seven stars (= the planets) as symbols of his universal dominion. Consequently, the image of Jesus holding seven stars provides a symbolic challenge to that claim of authority.

      1. “Debating Historicity with Dennis MacDonald (Live Online)”. Richard Carrier Blogs. 23 May 2018. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14047

        Cf:
        • Allen, Nicholas P. L. (26 June 2017). “Josephus on James the Just? A re-evaluation of 20.9.1”. Journal of Early Christian History. 7 (1): 1–27. doi:10.1080/2222582X.2017.1317008.
        • Whealey, Alice (2016). “The Testimonium Flavianum”. In Chapman, Honora Howell; Rodgers, Zuleika. A Companion to Josephus. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 345–355. ISBN 978-1-4443-3533-0.
        • Hopper, Paul (2014). “A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus: Jewish Antiquities xviii:63.”. In Fludernik, Monika; Jacob, Daniel. Linguistics and Literary Studies / Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft: Interfaces, Encounters, Transfers / Begegnungen, Interferenzen und Kooperationen. De Gruyter. pp. 147–169. ISBN 978-3-11-037068-3.
        • Olson, Ken (2013). “A Eusebian Reading of the Testimonium Flavianum”. In Johnson, Aaron P.; Schott, Jeremy M. Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations. Center for Hellenic Studies. pp. 97–114. ISBN 978-0-674-07329-6.
        • Feldman, Louis (2012). “On the Authenticity of the ‘Testimonium Flavianum’ Attributed to Josephus”. In Carlebach, Elisheva; Schacter, Jacob J. New Perspectives on Jewish-Christian Relations. Brill. pp. 13–30. ISBN 90-04-22117-4.

        Per Allen, Nicholas P. L. (2015). Clarifying the Scope of Pre-5th Century C.E. Christian Interpolation in Josephus’ Antiquitates Judaicae (c. 94 C.E.). PhD diss., North-West University. Available online @ http://dspace.nwu.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10394/14213/Allen_NPL.pdf

        The result of the investigation proves beyond reasonable doubt that no reliable extra-biblical/scriptural accounts exist to support the historical existence of, inter alia, Jesus of Nazareth, James the Just or John the Baptist. Certainly, no such accounts ever appeared in Josephus’ original texts. Furthermore, and most importantly, the three passages are confirmed to be total forgeries initiated in the first four centuries of the Common Era most likely by Origen and Eusebius respectively.

        1. Beautiful bibliography as usual! If I recall, Allen’s article is yet another peer reviewed one that cites Carrier, Doherty, etc and challenges the mainstream opinion about reliability of evidence for Jesus’ historicity. It is increasingly becoming the case that mythicism is less and less comparable to other fringe hypotheses like creationism.

          1. Per Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776) @ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Common_Sense
            “PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

            • Ehrman (20 March 2012). “Did Jesus Exist?”. Huffington Post. @ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html
            • Carrier (21 March 2012). “Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/10035
            • McGrath (22 March 2012). “Responding to Richard Carrier’s Response to Bart Ehrman”. Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath. @ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/03/responding-to-richard-carriers-response-to-bart-ehrman.html
            • Carrier (25 March 2012). “McGrath on the Amazing Infallible Ehrman”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/749

            • Carrier (19 April 2012). “Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1026
            • Ehrman (21 April 2012). “Richard Carrier on The Huffington Post Article (1)”. The Bart Ehrman Blog. @ https://ehrmanblog.org/richard-carrier-on-the-huffington-post-article-1/
            • Ehrman (22 April 2012). “Acharya S, Richard Carrier, and a Cocky Peter (Or: “A Cock and Bull Story”)”. The Bart Ehrman Blog. @ https://ehrmanblog.org/acharya-s-richard-carrier-and-a-cocky-peter-or-a-cock-and-bull-story/
            • Fincke, Daniel (22 April 2012). “Ehrman Evades Carrier’s Criticisms”. Camels With Hammers. @ http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2012/04/ehrman-evades-carriers-criticisms/
            • Coyne, Jerry (23 April 2012). “The historicity of Jesus: Bart Ehrman responds to Richard Carrier (sort of)”. Why Evolution Is True. @ https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/the-historicity-of-jesus-bart-ehrman-responds-to-richard-carrier-sort-of/

            • Hoffmann, R. Joseph (23 April 2012). “Mythtic Pizza and Cold-cocked Scholars”. The New Oxonian. @ https://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/mythtic-pizza-and-cold-cocked-scholars/
            • Ehrman (24 April 2012). “Response to Carrier”. The Bart Ehrman Blog. @ https://ehrmanblog.org/response-to-carrier/
            • Ehrman (25 April 2012). “Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier”. The Bart Ehrman Blog. @ https://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/

            • Carrier (27 April 2012). “Ehrman’s Dubious Replies (Round One)”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1117
            • Carrier (29 April 2012). “Ehrman’s Dubious Replies (Round Two)”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1151

            • Carrier (24 July 2012). “Ehrman on Historicity Recap”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/1794

            1. Ehrman (28 October 2016). “Gospel Evidence that Jesus Existed”. The Bart Ehrman Blog:

              If there had been one source of Christian antiquity that mentioned a historical Jesus (e.g., Mark) and everyone else was based on what that source had to say, then possibly you could argue that this person made Jesus up and everyone else simply took the ball and ran with it.

            2. It’s amazing that Ehrman has unwittingly supported mythicism so strongly. The Pontius Pilate Jesus is found only in GMark or sources that had definite influence from GMark. Revelation, Hebrews, the Paulines, and 1 Clement all know a Jesus from a heavenly realm or with ambiguous earthly ties, and other sources place Jesus in a completely different earthly context (the second century BC and the 50s AD).

            3. Carrier (22 March 2015). “Bart Ehrman on How Jesus Became God”. Richard Carrier Blogs:

              [Ehrman] admitting the first Christians regarded Jesus to be a preexistent divine archangel lends unexpected support to mythicism. As many mythicists have been arguing this very point for decades now. And Ehrman can’t have that. So he wants to have it both ways, and throughout the book he tries to argue both that high Christology started right out of the gate, and also that it developed over time. . . . that Christianity “must” have started with a low exaltation Christology (because historicity is in serious trouble if it didn’t)…

              Lataster (2016). “Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus”. Literature & Aesthetics. p. 186:

              [Per Ehrman] different Christianities developed differently and at different times . . . Thanks to Ehrman’s penchant for hypothetical sources, it simply does not matter which extant source is older…

          2. • Lataster (2014). “The Fourth Quest: A Critical Analysis of the Recent Literature on Jesus’ (a)Historicity”. Literature & Aesthetics. 24 (1): 1–28. ISSN 2200-0437. @ https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/LA/article/view/8328
            • Lataster(2015). “Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories – A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources”. Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies. 6 (1): 63–96. ISSN 2155-1723. @ https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/imwjournal/vol6/iss1/5/
            • Lataster (2015). Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-5148-1442-0.
            • Lataster (2016). “Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus”. Literature & Aesthetics. 26 (1): 181–192. ISSN 2200-0437. @ https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/LA/article/view/11431

            1. I guess one of the reasons I think there was an historical Jesus is that Paul says the resurrected Christ was the “first fruits (1 Corinthians 15:23)” of the general harvest of resurrected souls at the end of the age (which had now begun). The wording seems to imply a commonality between the first fruits and the rest of the harvest – that they were all human.

            2. Per Carrier′s OHJ: God manufactured a human body for Jesus so he could die, and it looked like a duck, swam like a duck, and quacked like a duck ipso facto Jesus was human (briefly).

              Bennett, Derreck (16 August 2017). “Jesus: Man or Myth?”. atheologica. @ https://atheologica.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/jesus-man-or-myth/

              [The Jewish Messiah and Persian Saoshyant (6th C. BCE)] many Jews would come to embrace the religious ideas of their Persian liberators, e.g., the coming of a virgin-born savior, Saoshyant, who would inaugurate a Final Judgment and resurrection of the dead (Yašt 19.11, 13.129).
              […]
              [Paul’s Christ Jesus (50’s CE)] Like the Zoroastrian Saoshyant, he will inaugurate the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:23).

            3. Fredriksen, Paula (2017) [now bolded]. Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle. Yale University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-300-22588-4:

              [Philippians 2] implies or even presupposes a four-stage cycle: descent (in “human form”); ascent/exaltation (following Jesus’s own resurrection); descent again (presumably at the Parousia, to subject those above the earth and on the earth and below the earth); absolute acknowledgment (all bowing at the name of Jesus, acknowledging him as Christos, to the glory of God the Father).

    8. Regarding Price and Carrier and mythicism, the best argument I can think of for mythicism is that Paul says the Rulers of this Age (Which could be interpreted to mean Supernatural powers = The demons to whom pagans sacrifice) crucified Jesus (1 Cor 2.8, also see 1 Cor 8.5-6; 2Cor 4.4), and that these are the powers the returning Christ will subjugate (Rom 8.38, also cf Eph 6.12). Phillipians says these are the powers who will bend knees before Christ.

      But this possible evidence for mythicism runs against Paul calling Jesus an “anthropos (human, 1 Cor 15.47),” and says that Jesus was “made” from the seed of David. I think Carrier’s “cosmic sperm bank” proposal in OHJ to “explain away” this evidence fails Occam’s Razor, since scripture speaks of conception as being “formed/made” by God (Isaiah 44:24; Jeremiah 1:5 ), and so seems to indicate conception in the usual way. Surely if Paul had in mind something as unusual and unprecedented as Carrier’s cosmic sperm bank hypothesis, Paul would have mentioned it.

      Of course, if Paul is saying the gods of this world crucified Christ, this could mean the Romans were “under the influence of Satan,” and hence crucified Christ. For instance, Paul writes: “4The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4).” So, 2 Corinthians 4:4 suggests Paul thought Satan was influencing people’s minds. As I said, this might be what Paul means when he says the rulers of this age crucified Christ – if we are to think such language is meant to refer to demonic powers: Satan influenced the Romans to crucify Christ.

      1. Per Carrier (25 April 2018). “Historicity Big and Small: How Historians Try to Rescue Jesus”. Richard Carrier blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13812

        The standard “best case” for historicity from the Epistles looks instead something like this:

        · P20. An epistle author said something, i.e. [Z], that he would not have said unless there was a real historical Jesus.
        · P21. If an epistle author would not say [Z] unless there was a real historical Jesus, then if an epistle author said [Z], there was a real historical Jesus.
        · C07. Therefore, there was a real historical Jesus.

        The top candidates for [Z] are:

        · Jesus was born of the seed of David (Rom. 1:3).
        · Jesus was born of a woman (Gal. 4:4).
        · Paul knew people called Brothers of the Lord (1 Cor. 9:5 & Gal. 1:19).
        · On “the night” before he died Jesus handled bread and wine and taught Christians the theological ritual of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 11:23).
        · In “the days of his flesh” Jesus cried and prayed to God to save him (Heb. 5:7).

      2. I just did some research about whether Paul’s use of the phrase “Rulers of this Age” meant gods/demons, or Romans (like Caesar and Pilate), and this is what I found: Bartholomew argues

        The term is used for both good and evil angels in greek versions of 2nd Temple apocalyptic texts (e.g. Daniel, 1Enoch) where angelic beings have dominion over earthly empires. David Aune writes: “The term archontes used as a designation for angelic beings first occurs in the LXX of Daniel 10:13 and and seven times in Theod. Daniel 10:13, 20-21; 12:1 … Dan. 10:10-21 contains the first references to the conception of angelic beings who are the patrons of specific nations on earth.” The plural form rulers τῶν ἀρχόντων is used of angelic beings in Daniel LXX-OldGreek and Theodotion. One will notice that στρατηγὸς “commander” is used interchangeably with ἄρχων in Dan. 10:13 LXX-OG whereas Daniel Theod. consistently uses ἄρχων to render שׂר Sar “prince, cheif.” This undermines the notion that ἄρχων has sort of technical or restricted semantic significance. NASB 1970 Dan. 10:13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” In the relevant portion of the text one of the chief princes NASB 1970 is tolerably close to the text of LXX-OG and Theodotion. In this context Michael is one among others referred to as εἷς τῶν ἀρχόντων τῶν πρώτων one of the chief princes all of whom are certainly not human rulers. [That said,]1 Cor. 2:6-8 doesn’t bode well for an exclusively spiritual (angelic/demonic) referent for: τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος “the rulers of this age.” First of all, the language seems to support the view that “the rulers of this age” were human agents in crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Paul says that “the rulers of this age” are “passing away” which appears to situate the scenario within an historical space and time framework. Perhaps this is another reason to question an exclusively spiritual referent for: τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος “the rulers of this age.” This isn’t an air tight argument, since in the apocalyptic literature both the “spiritual authorities/rulers” and their earthy representatives will be overthrown at consummation of history. While it seems improbable that “the rulers of this age” has a primary or exclusive reference to spiritual beings, this doesn’t rule out a composite view where the earthly representatives of the “spiritual authorities/rulers” are primary but understood as acting on behalf of supernatural beings who are depicted in apocalyptic literature as the real powers behind their human agents. While human agents might have crucified Jesus Christ because of some sort of blindness, their spiritual rulers knew exactly what they were doing. Again, one could argue that this is missing Paul’s point; that according to Paul, the blindness behind the crucifixion was something shared by both the spiritual rulers and their human agents.

        So, this seems to agree with my “Satanic Mind Influence” hypothesis.

        1. Verenna, Thomas S. (2017) [2012] [now reformatted]. “Born under the Law: Intertextuality and the Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus in Paul’s Epistles”. In Thompson, Thomas L.; Verenna, Thomas S. Is This Not The Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-134-94614-3. @ https://books.google.com/books?id=ZHo2DwAAQBAJ&pg=PT194

          [§. Pierced Hands and Feet: The Crucifixion] Often, scholars draw on a select group of verses to attempt to show that Paul was aware of a historical crucifixion; most notably they use 1 Cor. 2:6-8:
          […]
          The knowledge Paul had imparted was not exoteric but implicit, interpreted from his parables to those who would understand—his full-knowing readers. Paul’s discussion on the

          ‘rulers τελειεἠ of this age τελειεἠ’

          in this passage represents one of these parables. These archons, within this context, are not to be confused with earthly rulers. While the origin of the word archon is not authoritatively known, it may have some relation to the verb τἐλειες, (to begin or to be first). If this is the case, the context may have a double meaning. They are both the rulers and the initiators of the ages.

          This sort of mysticism was not uncommon in Jewish circles. The same sort of language was used by the author of 1 Enoch:
          […]
          For Paul, there was truth in this thinking [per 1 Enoch 48:1–7; 62:7–8]. In Rom. 16:25–26, he writes

          ‘Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God.’

          Part of this mystery was the hidden truth of Paul’s figure of Jesus, his death and his rebirth. Paul’s Jesus was not slain by a rabble of angry Jews, by a legion of Roman soldiers, a tetrarch, or a prefect of Rome; these Gospel personalities never arise in Paul’s epistles. Rather, those who killed Jesus were the ἀρχόντων. Not earthly beings, not those of flesh and blood but the rulers and powers (see early Christian evidence for this tradition in Eph. 6:12: […]), the rulers of the darkness (κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους); these beings crucified Jesus.

        2. Per “Are the “rulers of this age” of 1 Corinthians 2:8 human rulers or demonic rulers?”. Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. Retrieved 25 May 2018.: “While it seems improbable that “the rulers of this age” has a primary or exclusive reference to spiritual beings, this doesn’t rule out a composite view where the earthly representatives of the “spiritual authorities/rulers” are primary but understood as acting on behalf of supernatural beings who are depicted in apocalyptic literature as the real powers behind their human agents.” —(Answer by: C. Stirling Bartholomew, Jul 29 ’15)

          Aune, David E., Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), 3 volumes: Revelation 1—5, Revelation 6—16, and Revelation 17—22.: “Paul’s account of his own ascent to the third heaven reflects a cosmology of at least three heavens (2 Cor 12:1-5). […] God was thought to dwell in the highest heaven or sphere, usually the seventh or eighth heaven (Corpus Hermeticum 1.26), with various supernatural beings located at various levels below him.” —(Aune, Revelation 1—5, 318)

          Paul’s reification of the the heavens/spheres can not be discounted, his accounts of the actions of “supernatural beings” would be similar to the accounts of “natural beings”. Without location context and other clues, how do you know the difference? (n.b. the extant sources have been heavily edited)

          1. 1 Cor 2:6-8 may bear witness to the belief that the real rulers of earth are demonic. If you assume that the “rulers” in this verse are demonic powers, it does not follow that they are ruling a demonic empire outside earth, but rather that they are behind the rule of earthly powers. This conforms to the views of apocalyptic Judaism, in which Satan and the demonic powers temporarily are acting on this world in a warlike situation, for some time, until God and the good powers again have the upper hand.

      3. Moses, Robert Ewusie (2012). Powerful Practices: Paul’s Principalities and Powers Revisited. PhD dissertation, Duke University. p. v. @ https://dukespace.lib.duke.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10161/5731/Moses_divinity.duke_0066A_10008.pdf

        Paul also forbids such practices as idolatry and idol sacrificial meals, because these practices expose believers to demonic powers.

        Xeravits, Géza (2010). “Introduction”. In Xeravits, Géza G. Dualism in Qumran. LSTS, 76; London: T&T Clark. p. 4. @ http://www.academia.edu/1531533/Introduction_to_the_volume_Dualism_in_Qumran_2010_

        The paper of Mladen Popović contrasts two non-sectarian compositiors of the Qumran Library: the Treatise on the Two Spirits and 4Q186, an impressive physiognomic-astrological catalogue. He finds that unlike the Treatise on the Two Spirits, in 4Q186 the human spirit is not the object of inquiry, and light and darkness are not dualistic categories. What interconnects these documents is the world-view of evil spirits that invade the sons of light, cause them to stumble, and that need to be resisted and fought. If 4Q186 is interpreted on the basis of the thinking of the Treatise on the Two Spirits, one should allow for the possibility that the zodiacal spirits were seen to be part of either the division of the spirit of light or the spirit of darkness.

        1. Per Neil Godfrey (5 June 2011). “Born of a woman in heaven: cosmic origin of the Messiah”. Vridar. @ http://vridar.org/2011/06/05/born-from-a-woman-in-heaven-the-cosmic-origin-of-the-messiah/

          The woman, Malina argues (and supports with a rich tapestry of evidence) is what we know as the constellation of Virgo. But in Revelation 12 she is pregnant, while other astrological concepts of this constellation understood her to be nursing a child, like Isis with Horus. The dragon, Satan, is also “standing” before her in heaven. The word for “standing”, explains Malina, is a technical astrological term identifying the location of a constellation. The setting, he argues, is in pre-history.

          John is shown a detail of pre-history here, and events before Satan fell and before the one to become the Messiah (identified with the Enochian Son of Man — Enochian literature is filled with similar astrological imagery) was born.
          […]
          I am not arguing that the author of Galatians 4:4 had John’s cosmic scenario in mind. I do not know what was in the mind of whoever wrote those words. But I do find Malina’s expedition into the thought-worlds of the ancients quite an unusual experience. I cannot help but be reminded of Earl Doherty’s constant message that so much of the New Testament has been understood through modern concepts and hence misunderstood. To read it through the eyes of the ancients themselves takes effort and wider reading to understand that thought-world.

          Cf. The “Born of a Woman” / Galatians 4:4 INDEX @ https://vridar.org/2014/01/16/the-born-of-a-woman-galatians-44-index/

      4. Comment by Neil Godfrey (5 July 2018) per “Seven problems for the view that Paul’s “rulers of this age” were human authorities”. Vridar. 4 July 2018. @ https://vridar.org/2018/07/04/seven-problems-for-the-view-that-pauls-rulers-of-this-age-referred-to-human-authorities/#comment-85906

        Should we also take into account the timing of 2 Cor 4:4 – Satan’s act of blinding unbelievers follows the crucifixion and resurrection whereas 1 Cor 2:6-8, of course, addresses the earlier event.

    9. Per Carrier (25 April 2018). “Historicity Big and Small: How Historians Try to Rescue Jesus”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13812
      [Comment by Richard Carrier—May 23, 2018: Begin blockquote]
      The distinguishing characteristic of a Christian sect would be the archangel Jesus having died. There is no evidence Paul knew of any Christian sect preaching “another kind of death.”

      Though I should have qualified by noting Paul is never clear on what sort of death is meant. The words he uses also referred to standard Jewish executions (as for example by stoning). I cite scholarship and evidence of that in OHJ (pp. 61-62). So, for example, the sect outside the Roman Empire that preached Christ was stoned and then crucified, by the Jews (OHJ, Ch. 8.1; which Paul could be referring to, as he is sufficiently vague) could be more original than the souped up version invented possibly by Mark that has the Romans do it in collusion with the Jews.

      Other than that, there probably were pre-Christian sects (one of which probably became Christian, by novel revelation) that did revere the archangel Jesus and probably even taught he would be the coming messiah, but had not yet come to the conclusion that he’d died to effect his plans, thus had already initiated the end times timetable. There are hints in the Dead Sea Scrolls that the sect(s) represented there did have some such view (and may even have written up pesher prophecies of that angel’s future planned death). But we don’t know that for sure, we don’t know if the only such sect simply became Christianity, we don’t know if any members of that sect protested the revelation and stuck to the original timetable and thus broke away, we don’t know if there were other sects never impacted by the revelation who continued preaching their own thing. Paul does say there were sects preaching “another Jesus” whom the Christians should shun. So those could have been any of the above, for example.

      Another way to look at it is: the manner of death was too trivial to have a schism over at that point, especially as Paul is so vague about it—and you don’t go vague on a point that’s creating schisms; that’s what creeds are for: to demarcate what’s valid and what’s anathema. So clearly there were no anathemas regarding means of the killing; vagueness would at best mean an intent to “big tent” the movement and unite schisms. Notice that by the time we get to Ignatius, now the manner of death is a schism point built into the creed, indicating that [see: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13425#suspicious%5D by then there certainly were sects disagreeing (though exactly what they were disagreeing on or why we can only speculate). But that’s almost a hundred years later. But there could well have been sects still revering or expecting the Jesus angel as not having died, and who (like possibly Philo) thought it absurd that he would ever do so, and/or who (like possibly the Qumran sect) thought it was not time yet for it to happen, who were competing with Christian sects. They could be the “other Jesus’s” Paul talks about. But we sadly just don’t know.
      [End blockquote]

    10. Carrier also makes a big deal out of Paul’s wording that Jesus was “made” out of the seed of David, not “born,” the same wording Paul uses for how Adam was formed. In response to that, I would say being “made” or “formed” simply indicates how the ancient Jews thought of conception. We see this understanding of “making” or “forming” in, for instance, Jeremiah 1:5, and Isaiah 49:5. And this agrees with Paul’s interpretation. Paul says “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Does not the potter have the right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special occasions and another for common use?… (Romans 9: 20-21).”

      1. I agree. I think that a better argument for Carrier’s position is: it was believed that the Saoshyant would be born from the seed of zoroaster (which was supposedly supernaturally preserved in a lake) when a virgin bathed in it. Two implications follow from this data: (1) It proves that it was plausible for an ancient group to believe that someone was supernaturally concieved from preserved seed, as Carrier thinks the early Christians believed (2) It is highly plausible that such an idea could have been inherited/borrowed from early Christians, since Jesus was the alleged son of man and since the Danielic son of man may have been a Judaized Saoshyant (as some experts indeed believe). The Sayoshyant was supposed to come at the end of time, be a cosmic judge, be born of a virgin, etc. So it is very surprising and perhaps noncoincidental that a hypothesized attribute of Jesus is a verified attribute of the Sayoshyant who Jesus evidently shares many other peculiar festures with.

        One amazon commenter said that we should consider the probability of Carrier’s “cosmic sperm bank” conjecture to be one in a million. But with the above considerations in mind, it is not “one out of a million” for early Christians to think Jesus was supernaturally conceived from Davidic seed if the same was thought about another ancient figure (Zoroaster) and a similar personage (the Saoshyant) who probably had some type of relationship with Jesus. Perhaps a more modest probablisitc argument could be made. But then again, such an argument would have to be weighed against moderate arguments for mythicism.

        1. Carrier (18 October 2017). “The Cosmic Seed of David”. Richard Carrier Blogs: “Covington makes two valuable points: he correctly frames the logic of the argument . . . and he presents a valid analog (in Zoroastrian mythology). The whole article is reasonably brief and worth reading. And it’s inspired me to do a more detailed write-up of this fascinating digression. Full discussion, and citation of sources, verses, and scholarship, you’ll find in On the Historicity of Jesus, Chapter 11.9 (supplemented by Covington’s resource list).”

          Covington (17 October 2017). “Seed of David, Take Two…” Hume’s Apprentice: “Carrier has demonstrated that the earliest Christians would and could have blended the “descent from David prophecy” with a celestial Christ belief. But the hard work is still ahead: is it at all likely that early Christians would have been able to think of such a bizarre idea in the first place?”

          1. Ehrman. “Lecture 19: The Rise of Early Christian Orthodoxy”. The Great Courses: Lost Christianities Guidebook. The Teaching Company. p. 83.: “Early Christianity appears now to be widely diverse, not basically monolithic, as Eusebius would have had us believe. This can be seen in our very earliest sources.”

            Behr, John (2013). Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity. OUP Oxford. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-0-19-166781-7: “[Walter Bauer claimed] that Christianity was a diverse phenomenon from the beginning, that ‘varieties of Christianity’ arose around the Mediterranean, and that in some places what would later be called ‘heretical’ was initially normative. […] Although some of Bauer’s reconstructions are inaccurate and have been dropped, the idea that Christianity was originally a diverse phenomenon has now been generally accepted.”

          2. One would think that if Paul went out of his way to point out that Jesus was “of the seed of David,” that he would have included the fantastical part about the cosmic sperm bank – if mythicism is what Paul intended.

            1. Per Wells, G. A. (1986) [1975] [now bolded]:

              Conservative scholars conjecture that Paul derived his information that Jesus was descended from David from the original community of Christians at Jerusalem, who, they believe, had known Jesus personally. But nothing that Paul says supports this. When he affirms Jesus’ Davidic descent, his intention is surely to state an article of faith on which both he and the Christian community at Rome which he is addressing (and which he never visited) are agreed. He must therefore have reckoned that his tenet was current there, and it is clear from his letter that — as one would in any case have expected — Christians at Rome about AD 60 were Gentiles or Diaspora Jews (in both cases Greek speaking). And so nothing in the evidence necessarily points to any connection with a Palestinian Jesus and Aramaic-speaking disciples. —(The Historical Evidence for Jesus, p. 175)

    11. Of interest to me, Carrier recently outlined the Noble Lie theory of Paul’s conversion story. This begins at 1:10:41 of the video below and goes for about 5 minutes. Also, on his Twitter feed Carrier commented that, regarding the general Noble Lie Theory of Christian origins: “I discuss it briefly as indistinguishable from the schizotypal cult hypothesis in Element 14 of On the Historicity of Jesus. It’s plausible but so is the schizotypal cult hypothesis. And it can be any combination, too (as some apostles claim visions for the social movement).” If anyone is interested in following up on the Noble Lie theory of Christian origins, I have a recently revised entire thorough blog post dedicated to the topic here: https://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2018/03/examining-easter-peering-behind-veil-of.html . Here is Carrier’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w3ppNIm41U

    12. In the context of “Middle Platonism”, the following interpretation may hold:

      We do, however, speak a message of wisdom [the second-god] among the mature, but not the wisdom [god (Satan)] of this age or of the rulers of this age [ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου], who are coming to nothing. No, we declare [first] God’s wisdom [son], a mystery that has been hidden and that [first] God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age [ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου] understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. —[1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NIV)]

      1. For an overview of the bigger picture see,

        Bailey, Kenneth E. (2011). “The Wisdom of God: Revealed Through the Spirit 2:3–16”. Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians. InterVarsity Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8308-6932-9:

        [1 Corinthians 2:3–16] is composed of two homilies. These are
        · God′s Wisdom: Hidden and then revealed through the Spirit (2:3–10a)
        · God′s Wisdom: Revealed through God, his thoughts and his Spirit (2:10b–16)

    13. As of February 2018, the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into eighty languages.

      Raphael Lataster opines that if you treat Harry Potter like the gospels of the New Testament, that if you strip away all the layers of Myth and Fabulation, then you are left with a real—but insignificant—boy living in a closet.

      Lataster (2015). Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists :

      [Per the case for “Historical Jesus” agnosticism] the justification of agnosticism is already made obvious by consulting the people arguing for Jesus’ historical certainty. . . . Simply peruse the sources for yourself. Do that, and also hear from the historicists how they ‘prove’ Jesus’ existence. . . . If the case for Jesus is unconvincing, then agnosticism is already justified.

    14. Per Carrier (8 July 2018). “James McGrath Gets Everything Wrong (Again)”. Richard Carrier Blogs:

      The Gospels only tell us, not on an item-by-item basis, but globally, how mythologized Jesus was. The answer: just as mythologized as a lot of other mythical people. In fact, few historical persons were ever that mythologized. . . . If you put Jesus and everyone else as mythologized as he is into a hat, and drew one out at random, the odds you’d draw a historical person are no better than 1 in 3—and possibly as bad as 1 in 15 (OHJ, Ch. 6).

    15. Per Carrier (28 June 2018). “Then He Appeared to Over Five Hundred Brethren at Once!”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14255#comment-26307
      [Comment by Richard Carrier—July 10, 2018: Begin blockquote]
      [Per Paul writing in the 50s BC, not AD] if we didn’t have the Gospels and Acts imagining a 30s AD date for the religion’s origin, or if we decided to reject that as fiction —[then] Paul’s letters are more or at least as congruous with the Hasmonean date for the origins of Christianity
      […]
      There is nothing in Paul that argues against that; we only oppose it on the grounds that the Gospels and Acts don’t seem to know this (or are lying about it); although that’s in effect what the Talmud entails, since it places the death of Jesus precisely in the Hasmonean period (in the 70s BC, twenty years after which is the 50s BC), as did, it seems, the Nazorian sect (if that’s how we should read Epiphanius; at any rate, Epiphanius describes an argument for dating Jesus to the 70s BC, wherever that came from or whatever reason he inserts it into his account of the Nazorians). See, again, Ch. 8.1 of On the Historicity of Jesus.

      One other argument against that is that that entails a strangely long period of silence in the Christian record: no literature whatever produced for over a century, between Paul (and 1 Clement and Hebrews and maybe 1 Peter), and then we get the Gospels, Acts, then half a century to a century after that an explosion of Christian literature. This is not impossible to explain, but it does require a lot of ad hocery. And it would just be a speculation void of evidence.

      On the other hand, one argument for it is that it would make more sense of Paul’s telling us Aretas had a governor occupying or embargoing Damascus he had to flee from (2 Cor. 11:32-33). In the AD scenario, that requires supposing that incident happened during the Aretas-Judean conflict in 36-37 AD. No other date fits. Though we have no explicit account of Aretas occupying or embargoing Damascus in that war (it’s plausible given what we know, but not directly attested). However, some scholars suggest Paul means by ethnarch in that passage a diplomatic prefect, i.e. the marshal of a “Nabataean Quarter” of Damascus. Though we have no evidence for that being a thing either (though again it is nevertheless also plausible). By contrast, if Paul meant an incident in the 70s or 60s BC, he would have meant Aretas III rather than Aretas IV, who did in fact rule Damascus from 85 to 72 BC.

      That this would perfectly align Paul’s entire chronology and ministry with the Talmudic Jesus executed in the 70s BC is indeed intriguing. But alas, this can only be speculated. There isn’t enough evidence to argue it’s probable.
      [End blockquote]

        1. Mike Lawrence proposes a BCE Jesus:
          • NOTORIUK (2 Oct 2014) “Jesus did not exist – Just Suppose” @ https://youtu.be/WMfQ5lEHj18
          • NOTORIUK (15 Jan 2016) “Did Jesus Actually Exist: Presentation” @ https://youtu.be/1aP6f9KHRGo
          • Talk Beliefs (3 Apr 2016) “Is This Proof Jesus Did Not Exist?” @ https://youtu.be/Y5Q7fcbnBro
          • Fishers of Evidence (19 Feb 2017) “The 70 year argument; did Jesus exist?” @ https://youtu.be/OwqHuFCskOY
          • Mythicist Milwaukee (14 Jul 2017)”Author Mike Lawrence: The Jesus of the Gospels Did Not Exist” @ https://youtu.be/pfJ_RtpeJ3Y

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