Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby hardaker » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:31 pm

Ishtar said:
"However.... I'm left with this question. If they were going to forge something purporting to be early Christian, why not forge something believable?
"If it was me, I would fake some parchment and then put extracts on it from some of the Nag Hammadi gospels, instead of lead and with few, if any, motifs which can be considered to be purely Christian. Surely that would be simpler and more easy for people to find credible than creating books out of lead and then inventing strange and obscure stuff to go in them?"

I think this is a strong point. If you are going to forge something and convince someone it is authentic, why do something like this in a relatively unknown medium -- a lead page book? Why not a scroll? This kind of strange medium for an ancient book is not publicly known that widely. If you are going to fake out somebody, don't you show them something they expect? There are real problems with provenience, but this point about a highly uncommon medium for writing is possibly a strong check against forgery.

But like was said: we have to wait and see. I heard the guy interviewed the other night on Coast to Coast by Ian Punnet -- maybe it is online. Elkington was fairly cagey about somethings, but he talks about a team of experts, but also identified none of them (though my memory was impaired temporarily at the time a bit).
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:59 pm

If you are going to forge something and convince someone it is authentic


Those two phrases do not necessarily follow. Producing phony relics for christian pilgrims has been a cottage industry since the 4th century. How many pieces of the "true cross" were there?

This whole thing may simply have gotten out of hand when it caught the attention of a con man in the West. I imagine there is a book deal and movie in the works....just like the "Jesus Tomb."
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Digit » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:02 am

Forging parchment would be pointless, it can be dated.

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:13 am

Yep. So can the ink used to write it out. Again, it is why Yuval Goren goes straight to the patina at the bottom of the inscriptions. There are ossuaries all over Jerusalem. Some are even inscribed with a name. So finding an ossuary with "James son of Joseph" is not noteworthy. Finding an ossuary with the phrase "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus" might be earthshaking...except that the second half is apparently a recent forgery.
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Digit » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:27 am

If it stated James, son of Joseph etc Min it would definitely be a forgerey as there ain't no J in Hebrew! :D

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:33 am

Nor in Latin at that time....

I don't have a Hebrew character set though and who could read it if I did? Certainly not me.
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Digit » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:37 am

The symbol is pronounced as Y in YES.
Joseph is normally written in modern Latin alphabet as Yussef. Jesus I pass on, haven't a clue.

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:59 pm

Y'shua.
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Digit » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:04 pm

Ta!

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Ishtar » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:30 pm

There's another theory on the name, one I read in Acharya S's book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

She thinks the Jesus name comes from the name of Serapis, the saviour god of Alexandria. The name changed as it was transported into other countries by a Gnostic group called the Theraputae. Serapis was variously known as IE, IES, Ieud, Jedas, Joshua, Jason, Iesous, Iasios – and the name represented a secret spell which was only revealed at an initiation.

The Theraputae were trying to create a new religion that incorporated the teachings of virtually all religions, cults, philosophies and mysteries then known, and were first to record the sayings of the Saviour or Logia Iesou. (The latest one was found in the Libyan desert and has been dated to 3rd century CE.)

These texts comprised the earliest Christian writings and were non-historicising and non-Judaizing and consolidated spiritual sayings from Persia, Syria, Judea, Greece, Egypt and so on.

This is all according to Acharya, Taylor and Walker et al, btw.

It makes sense to me that the Jesus name came out of Alexandria, as that was where the religion of Christianity was put together, and not in Jerusalem. At that time, during the early CEs, most Jews lived in Alexandria. Hardly any Jews lived in Jerusalem because they had been banished from there by the Romans. Anyway, they say that the Therapeutae’s original Gnostic Christian efforts emanated out of Antioch – hence the saying that Antioch is the cradle of Christianity but Alexandria is the crucible ~ an alchemic term, by the way, which was another mystic discipline that came out of Alexandria.
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:09 pm

I read that one too, Ish. Interesting but I think Occam's Razor has to come into play.

Y'shua ( Yeshua) is the equivalent of Joshua which means "Yahweh saves" or derivatives thereof.

http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Joshua.html

The name Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus, and most probably the name by which Jesus was known by His contemporaries.


Josephus speaks of over twenty different "Jesuses" from madmen all the way up to high priests. Did the Theraputae invent all of them?

The name...if not that particular person...is attested in the record and the Book of Joshua is included in the Septuagint which dates to nearly 300 years before "Jesus." Coincidentally, Serapis was invented by Ptolemy I the same guy who tradition claims commissioned the Septuagint.... if you believe in "coincidences."

:wink:
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Ishtar » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:39 am

I'm not a believer in coincidence, Min. I prefer the word synchronicity which implies meaning.

Also not a great fan of reductionist razor of Occam, especially if it's being wielded in the wrong hands. Often, the seemingly simplest solution, while being the most convenient post hoc one to our modern minds, is not the correct one. Life is more complicated than that and our ancestors didn't think about life as we do.

I still maintain that we cannot look to the Jews or Jerusalem for the inventors of Jesus. People get confused about this because the gospels are named after the disciples, and so they think the disciples (illiterate Jewish fishermen) wrote them. But the story came out of Alexandria which was a melting pot of different religions, mythologies and cultures at the time. If you look at the earliest proponents of the story, the so-called Early Church Fathers, not one of them has a Jewish name.

Here they are (just copied from Wiki page on Early Church Fathers

    # 1 Apostolic Fathers

    * 1.1 Saint Clement of Rome
    * 1.2 Saint Ignatius of Antioch
    * 1.3 Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

    # 2 Greek Fathers

    * 2.1 Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
    * 2.2 Saint Clement of Alexandria
    * 2.3 Origen of Alexandria
    * 2.4 Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
    * 2.5 Saint Cyril of Alexandria
    * 2.6 Saint John Chrysostom
    * 2.7 Saint Maximus the Confessor
    * 2.8 Saint John of Damascus
    * 2.9 Cappadocian Fathers

    # 3 Latin Fathers

    * 3.1 Tertullian
    * 3.2 Saint Cyprian of Carthage
    * 3.3 Saint Ambrose of Milan
    * 3.4 Saint Jerome of Stridonium
    * 3.5 Saint Augustine of Hippo
    * 3.6 Saint Gregory the Great
    * 3.7 Saint Hilary of Poitiers
    * 3.8 Saint Isidore of Seville

So I think the hero was named according to which race or culture the story was being told in and to. Yeshua or Joshua is the Jewish version. Jesus is the Greek version. He would have been Iesous in another place and Iasios somewhere else, and so on.

The root Iao has an interesting back story. This is from Madame Blavatsky:

Says Fürst: "The very ancient name of God, Yâho, written in the Greek Iao, appears, apart from its derivation, to have been an old mystic name of the Supreme deity of the Shemites. (Hence it was told to Moses when initiated at HOR-EB -- the cave, under the direction of Jethro, the Kenite or Cainite priest of Midian.) In an old religion of the Chaldeans, whose remains are to be found amongst the Neo-platonists, the highest divinity enthroned above the seven heavens, representing the Spiritual Light-Principle (nous)(1) and also conceived as Demiurgus,(2) was called Iao, who was, like the Hebrew Yâho, mysterious and unmentionable, and whose name was communicated to the initiated. The Phœnicians had a Supreme God whose name was trilateral and secret, and he was Iao."

But while Fürst insists that the name has a Semitic origin, there are other scholars who trace it farther than he does, and look back beyond the classification of the Caucasians.

In Sanskrit we have Jah and Jaya, or Jaa and Ja-ga, and this throws light on the origin of the famous festival of the car of Jaganath, commonly called Jaggarnâth. Javhe means "he who is," and Dr. Spiegal traces even the Persian name of God, "Ahura," to the root ah, which in Sanskrit is pronounced as, to breathe, and asu, became, therefore, in time, synonymous with "Spirit." Rawlinson strongly supports the opinion of an Aryan or Vedic influence on the early Babylonian mythology. We have given the strongest possible proofs of the identity of Vishnu with Dag-on. The same may be adduced for the title of Iao, and its Sanskrit root traced in every country. JU or Jovis is the oldest Latin name for God. "As male he is Ju-piter, or Ju, the father, pitär being Sanskrit for father; as feminine, Ju-no or Ju, the comforter.

To grasp the real and primitive sense of the term IAO and the reason of its becoming the designation for the most mysterious of all deities, we must search for its origin in the figurative phraseology of all the primitive people. We must first of all go to the most ancient sources for our information. In one of the Books of Hermes, for instance, we find him saying that the number TEN is the mother of the soul, and that the life and light are therein united. For "the number 1 (one) is born from the spirit, and the number 10 (ten) from matter;" "the unity has made the TEN, the TEN the unity."

The kabalistic gemantria -- one of the methods for extracting the hidden meaning from letters, words, and sentences -- is arithmetical. It consists in applying to the letters of a word the sense they bear as numbers, in outward shape as well as in their individual sense. Moreover, by the Themura (another method used by the kabalists) any word could be made to yield its mystery out of its anagram. Thus, we find the author of Sepher Jezira saying, one or two centuries before our era: "ONE, the spirit of the Alahim of Lives." So again, in the oldest kabalistic diagrams, the ten Sephiroth are represented as wheels or circles, and Adam Kadmon, the primitive man, as an upright pillar. "Wheels and seraphim and the holy creatures" (chioth), says Rabbi Akiba. In another system of the same branch of the symbolical Kabala, called Athbach -- which arranges the letters of the alphabet by pairs in three rows -- all the couples in the first row bear the numerical value ten; and in the system of Simeon Ben-Shetah, the uppermost couple -- the most sacred of all, is preceded by the Pythagorean cipher, one and a nought, or zero -- 10.


From THEOSOPHY, Vol. 58, No. 3, January, 1970
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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:10 pm

Professor Thonemann expands his comments:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article7173961.ece

One can hardly blame the newspapers: no editor could reasonably be expected to resist the combination of Jesus, the Kabbalah, mysterious death threats and a secret code. But it is a bit depressing that no one thought to consult any one of the dozens of British specialists in the field. As the Jewish Chronicle made clear when it originally reported on the find back in early March, those professional scholars who have had sight of these objects have dismissed them as obvious fakes.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Minimalist » Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:47 pm

I still maintain that we cannot look to the Jews or Jerusalem for the inventors of Jesus



I don't have much of a problem with that either, Ish. What bothers me about Acharya is the "conspiracy" routine. We see that so often these days from 9-11 Truthers to Ancient Alien proponents and none of them have any actual evidence to back them up. They ask questions about events and maintain that the "official explanation" is wrong as if this somehow removes the need for them to provide evidence for their particular theory. They remind me a lot of creationists!

So I'm not big on conspiracies as a general rule. They tend to be long on accusations and short on evidence.

The timing is interesting, though. Why indeed set the story in Judaea in the beginning of the first century? A little more than 100 years later the Greco-Roman writer Celsus was commenting:

"Again, if God, like Jupiter in the comedy, should, on awaking from a lengthened slumber, desire to rescue the human race from evil, why did He send this Spirit of which you speak into one corner (of the earth)? He ought to have breathed it alike into many bodies, and have sent them out into all the world. Now the comic poet, to cause laughter in the theatre, wrote that Jupiter, after awakening, despatched Mercury to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians; but do not you think that you have made the Son of God more ridiculous in sending Him to the Jews?"


and,

"You are fond of saying that in the old days this same most high god made these and
greater promises to those who gave heed to his commandments and worshipped him. But
at the risk of appearing unkind, I ask how much good has been done by those promises
have done either the Jews before you or you in your present circumstances. And would
you have us put out faith in such a god? Instead of being masters of the whole world,
the jews today have no home of any kind."


Celsus was writing c 170 AD...a mere 30 years after Hadrian crushed the bar Kochba revolt and exiled the Jews from Palestine. The purpose of his writing was that xtianity had grown into something that the Roman elite started to notice. The earliest Roman reference is Pliny the Younger around 110 BC and he mentions only interrogating xtians but nothing about any "jesus" or the rest of the story. In the mid 2d century we start to see xtian writings ( Justin Martyr, for example who wrote an apologia to Antoninus Pius ( d. 161 AD).

Perhaps the reason for setting the story in Judaea is precisely because it had been destroyed, its inhabitant scattered and Jerusalem leveled to make a foundation for Hadrian's new city of Aelia Capitolina?
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Battle over what could be earliest Christian texts

Postby Ishtar » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:40 am

Well, I don't like Acharya S. Full stop. We fell out on her forum because she was trying to control what I said about Krishna. Having said that, you sometimes have to keep some unlikely bedfellows in this game, and if someone's got some good research and the research rings true and chimes in with one's own, then it's worth using it, all the while seiving out the personal attitude bits with a sort of cognitive tea strainer. It's hard work but it gets easier as you go along. I've been working that way for decades!

Acharya S' s stuff on Krishna doesn't work, because there are parts of Indian mythology she's not aware of. But she won't listen. However, I find her stuff on Jesus to be pretty excellent.

The same goes for Madame Blavatsky, in my last post. I have huge reservations about her races of man. But the research in that article, on Iao, is pretty solid, and makes sense according to what I know from my own research.

In short, you will never find the perfect person to follow ~ iow, the one you think has it down perfectly and who you agree with on every count, even in how you like your eggs cooked for breakfast, which is good, because you don't want to be a follower; you want to have your own ideas and reach your own conclusions. In my last post, the fact that none of the Early Church Fathers were Jewish was my own discovery, or realisation if you like. I haven't read it anywhere else.
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