The Fallen Watchers and the Disciples of Mark

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by Neil Godfrey

Mount Hermon
Image via Wikipedia

With this post I come closer to completing the series I began two months ago to share the contents of an article by Rick Strelan in the Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 20 (1999), titled The Fallen Watchers and the Disciples in Mark. Strelan argues that the Gospel of Mark’s disciples were based on the legend of the Fallen Watchers in the Book of Enoch. Both disciples and watchers were called to have special spiritual responsibilities and callings in the presence of God or the Son of God, and that both fell through attachment to the things and ways of this world. Strelan finds a number of details in common to associate Mark’s disciples, especially Peter, with the Fallen Watchers of Enoch.

(The rest of the posts are in the Fallen Watchers category.)

My reason for posting this is simply that I found the article of interest. As I began to type notes from it to share here, a few questions about the strength of the arguments arose in my mind. I wondered if Strelan was attempting to oversell his case. Maybe that’s one reason I slowed up the pace of note-sharing. But I certainly don’t quickly discount the arguments. On a recent review of the article I noticed a few details that might be worth following up more seriously.

For example, Strelan interpreted the disciples “seeking” for Jesus (Mark 1:36) after he had gone AWOL the morning after healing Peter’s mother-in-law as “seeking with hostile intent”. I did not like this interpretation, but have since noted that the word Mark uses could well be read with ambiguity. It certainly can in other places be translated “persecute” (as well as eagerly seeking after a coveted prize.) This would justify at least the possibility that the disciples could have been seeking Jesus to “bring him back into their own house/ways/domesticity”. Now that surely sits well with what we find elsewhere throughout Mark — ambiguities. So maybe I was over hasty in dismissing Strelan’s interpretation after all.

So I am posting this now as something I find of interest, and presuming at least one or two others think of it the same way, and as an idea to be further explored and, if possible, tested.

In my last post I left off with this point:

At the foothills of Mount Hermon

The above confrontation between Jesus and Peter took place at Caesarea Philippi, which is near the foothills of Mount Hermon. An audience familiar with the book of Enoch would know that it was on Mount Hermon that the chief Watcher, Azazel, swore an oath with his 200 followers to descend to earth and marry the daughters of men.

1 Enoch 6:6

Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.

Continuing . . . . Continue reading “The Fallen Watchers and the Disciples of Mark”

Some reasons to favour a “mythical Jesus” over a “historical Jesus”

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

The various historical Jesus explanations for Christian origins are without analogy, are highly improbable, and rely on filling in gaps with “something unknown” or “something we don’t understand”.

How plausible is it, after all, that all of the following somehow come together in a coherent “explanation”:

  • Jews scarcely believing Jesus was nothing more than a prophet while alive, or worse, with a handful thinking him a “Davidic messiah”;
  • Jesus dying the death of a criminal, as a failed prophet or failed messiah;
  • Jews very quickly after his death coming to believe [through some unexplained process] that he was a resurrected divinity to be worshiped alongside God, even creator and sustainer of the universe, and whose flesh and blood were to be symbolically eaten;
  • Jewish followers persuading large numbers of other Jews and gentiles who had never seen him to worship him thus, also?

How plausible is it that

  • the many earliest references to such a historical person who performed astonishing miracles, delivered precepts on the sabbath and divorce and other Jewish rituals, suffered as a martyr, . . .
  • — how plausible is it that the many earliest references to such a historical person ignore all of these details of his life;
  • yet on the contrary, speak of his flesh and crucifixion  as entirely mystical or theological phenomena that cohere with the well known ancient paradigm of divinities above working out the conversion experiences of mortals below;
  • and that also speak of the revelation of the Gospel (not of Jesus himself) in the Scriptures, and point to Scriptures, not the life or miracles of Jesus, as the “revelation” of “the mystery of the gospel” that can only be grasped by spiritual gift (not historical evidence)?

How plausible is it that

  • there are no biographical or historical accounts of the life and person of one who reportedly attracted a following of multitudes from Tyre and Sidon and beyond Jordan and Jerusalem and Idumea, who came to the hostile attention of Herod and Pilate and the entire religious establishment?
  • the only accounts we have of such a person are not witnessed until the second century,
  • the same accounts contain anachronisms (e.g. Pharisees and synagogues dotting Galilee, hostile Christian views of rabbinic Judaism) that further suggest a very late composition,
  • and are brief tracts that demonstrate an incestuous literary relationship,
  • and that are primarily theological treatises promoting theological agendas above anything else?
  • and that such a historical Jesus in each of these gospels should be little more than a cardboard cutout mouthpiece for various (unoriginal) sayings and acts that are often demonstrably cut from OT narratives and characters?
  • that there is no reliable independent verification in the historical record for the historicity of such a person?

A funny thing about the above points is that they are often adhered to on the grounds that “no-one would have made up the Christian narrative. This strikes me as something of a Tertullian defence: “It is absurd, therefore [the first Christians, and] I believe”. This explanation, as far as I am aware, flies in the face of all that we can expect or that we can see recorded of human experience.

How much more plausible is it that Continue reading “Some reasons to favour a “mythical Jesus” over a “historical Jesus””