• Biblioblogging from around the web

    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.

    Category: Uncategorized

    Tags:

    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.

    19 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.

    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.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *