2010-12-02

The Second God among Ancient Jewish Philosophers and Commoners

Creative Commons License

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

by Neil Godfrey

Angel of the Revelation
Image via Wikipedia

The Jewish philosopher Philo lived in Alexandria, Egypt, around the time of Jesus and Paul were said to have lived, and wrote many works arguing that the Bible stories were allegories of higher truths that had counterparts in Greek philosophy. One of the more striking features of Philo’s work is his concept of the Logos (or “Word”) of God. His discussions of the Logos find parallels in Gospel of John that begins with the Logos or Word of God existing with God, but also as God, and it was this Logos that created everything on God’s behalf. Philo’s discussion of the Logos or Word of God shares the same understanding as we find in John’s Gospel. Philo even calls the Logos “a Second God”.

Philo’s views are often considered esoteric and probably alien to the normal beliefs of the common Jews in Palestine and elsewhere (e.g. Casey). Some scholars (e.g. McGrath) go to great lengths to argue that when Philo spoke of a “second God” he was not really deviating from Jewish monotheism, and that modern readers simply need to adjust their definition of “monotheism” as it existed in early Judaism in order not to compromise the conventional wisdom about Judaism.

Margaret Barker, on the other hand, in The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, has tackled these beliefs of Philo and compared them popular Aramaic translations of the Hebrew scriptures that in some cases date back to pre-Christian times. (Many of them appear to have been translated for some centuries after the supposed time of Christ, too.) These are called the Targums, a word meaning “translations”. They were apparently composed when Aramaic was becoming more commonly spoken than Hebrew among Jews. There are two versions of Targums: a Babylonian and a Palestinian. The Palestinian Targums contain more non-biblical content in the notes accompanying the translations, and many more references to Memra, meaning Word, than the Babylonian Targums. Barker suggests that the reason for this is that the Palestinian Targums were written in defensive response to Christian teachings, while the Babylonian Jews were for long free from similar Christian proximity and influence.

Barker compares Philo’s discussion of the Word or Logos with the Targum word for “Word”, Memra, and finds that the Targums indicate that ordinary Jews, even in Palestine, had an understanding of Memra that was “strikingly” similar to Philo’s understanding of his “second God”, the Logos:

The correspondence is striking, and, since Philo’s Logos was the ‘second God’, the original significance of Memra becomes a very interesting question. It is not possible to say that Philo’s Logos was a second divine being, therefore it cannot have been true to the Old Testament tradition, and it cannot represent anything within what may reasonably be called Judaism. The ‘assured result’ of modern rabbinic scholarship is that Memra could not be a hypostasis only because this is the concealed premise of the investigation. The monotheism of mainstream rabbinic Judaism which is now reflected in the Targums may not have been the Judaism of the people to whom they were originally addressed. The fact that Memra is opaque to us, even though originally intended as a translation and clarification, must stand as a warning. (p. 148, my emphasis)

The Targums present Exodus 6:3 as

And I was revealed in my Memra to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as the God of the heavens, but by my mighty name the Lord I did not make known to them.

Compare the translation of the Hebrew via the link above.

The Targums also describe the Memra (Word) of God being the agent who created man in his (not God’s) likeness. It was also the Memra who was associated with the Tabernacle and was the Angel accompanying Israel in the wilderness.

The Wisdom of Solomon (another Second Temple text) says the Word was the warrior who killed the firstborn of Egypt:

Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction,
And brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death; . . . . (Wisdom 18:15-16)

Similarly the Memra (Word) in the Targums slays the firstborn.

Philo writes of the Logos being the agent that “severs” soul and spirit as the Judge of all things. Memra in the Targums has the same function.

These and other similarities are listed in the table below that I have adapted from Barker’s work.

The point of this post is to draw attention to the evidence that Philo’s notion of the Logos, very un-Jewish though it seems to us, was possibly not so alien among even the common Jews before the destruction of the Temple in the year 70. It was from that time on that rabbinic Judaism emerged as a more unified or monolithic religion than may have been the case before.

I have written several times on other chapters in Barker’s book, and these can be found in the Categories drop-down list in the right margin of this blog. Those chapters address other evidence for a pre-70 Judaism being much more diverse in its beliefs, even its beliefs about God, than we have come to assume on the basis of what Judaism looked like after that time.

The significance of all this for the origins of Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ as Logos, mediator, creator, etc scarcely needs to be pointed out.

 

Philo Targum Comment
On the Confusion of Tongues 146 

(146) And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel.

(147) . . . . for the image of God is his most ancient word.

 

T.N. to Exodus 6.7 

And I will separate you to my Name as a people of holy ones and my Word will be to you a redeemer God

Both Philo’s Logos and the Palestinian Targum’s Memra were the Name.
Questions and Answers on Genesis 2.62 

(62) Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image? Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it the type of the divine Word; since in his first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature. But he who is superior to the Word holds his rank in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself? Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact, that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance, in order to the defence of virtuous and consistent men, because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance with his Word, of which the human mind is the similitude and form.

 

F.T. to Genesis 1.27 

And the Memra of Yahweh created man in his likeness.

Man was made in the image of Logos or Memra — the Word of God.  

Philo betrays his embarrassment with this and rationalizes this to mean that it is only the mind or rational soul of man that is in the image of the Word.

On Dreams 1.241; On Agriculture 51 

(1.241) on which account he says himself, “I am the Lord God,” I whose image you formerly beheld instead of me, and whose pillar you set up, engraving on it a most sacred inscription; and the inscription indicated that I stood alone, and that I established the nature of all things, bringing disorder and irregularity into order and regularity, and supporting the universe firmly, so that it might rest on a firm and solid foundation, my own ministering word.

(51) and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason, his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road.”

T. Ps-J. to Exodus 17.15; T. Ps-J to Deuteronomy 4.7 

. . . the Memra of Yahweh hath sworn by the throne of his Glory

. . . the Memra of Yahweh sitteth upon his throne high and lifted up and heareth our prayer what time we pray before him and make our petitions

 

Logos/Memra was viceroy of a great King
On the Migration of Abraham 174 

(174) for until a man is made perfect he uses divine reason as the guide of his path, for that is the sacred oracle of scripture: “Behold, I send my angel before thy face that he may keep thee in the road, so as to lead thee into the land which I have prepared for thee. Attend thou to him, and listen to him; do not disobey him; for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in Him.”

T. Ps-J to Deuteronomy 31.6 

And the Shekinah of the Memra of Yahweh will go before thee.

Logos/Memra was the angel who guided Israel in desert. 

 

Questions on Exodus 2.13 

What is the meaning of the

words, “Behold, I am sending My angel before thy face, that he may guard thee on the way, in order that he may lead and bring thee to the land which I have prepared for thee. Give heed and listen and do not disobey. For he will not show consideration for thee,”for My name is uponhim” . . . . (Therefore) of necessity was the Logos appointed as judge and mediator, who is called ” angel.” . . . .

http://www.archive.org/stream/questionsanswers02philuoft/questionsanswers02philuoft_djvu.txt

 

T. Ps-J. to Numbers 24.23; T. Isaiah 8.14 

Woe to them that are alive at the time when the Memra of Yahweh shall be revealed to give the good reward to the righteous and to take vengeance on the wicked . . .

His Memra will be among you for vengeance

 

Logos/Memra was the heavenly judge
Questions on Exodus 2.13, 68 

. . . . (Therefore) of necessity was the Logos appointed as judge and mediator, who is called ” angel.” . . . .

. . . . The divine Logos, inasmuch as it is appropriately ” in the middle, leaves nothing in nature empty,” but fills all things and becomes a mediator and arbitrator for the two sides which seem to be divided from each other, bringing about friendship and concord

http://www.archive.org/stream/questionsanswers02philuoft/questionsanswers02philuoft_djvu.txt

 

T. Isaiah 65.1 

I let myself be entreated through my Memra by them that enquired not from before me.

 

Logos/Memra was the mediator.
On Dreams 1.215 

(1.215) For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man, the copy of whom, perceptible to the senses, is he who performs his paternal vows and sacrifices, to whom it is enjoined to put on the aforesaid tunic, the representation of the universal heaven, in order that the world may join with the man in offering sacrifice, and that the man may likewise co-operate with the universe.

 

T. Ps-J. to Deuteronomy 32.43 

By his Memra he will make atonement for his land and for his people.

Logos/Memra was the high priest
On the Special Laws 1.81 

(81) For if it was necessary to examine the mortal body of the priest that it ought not be imperfect through any misfortune, much morewas it necessary to look into his immortal soul, which they say is fashioned in the form of the living God. Now the image of God is the Word, by which all the world was made.

T. N. to Genesis 1.3 and passim; T. N. to Deuteronomy 32.15; T. Isaiah 45.12; T. O. to Deuteronomy 33.27 

The Memra of Yahweh said: Let there be light.

They forgot the Memra of Yahweh who had created them.

I have made the earth by my Memra.

>The world was made by his Memra.

Logos/Memra was the agent of creation
On Dreams 2.237 

(2.237) Since then all steadiness, and stability, and the abiding for ever in the same place unchangeably and immovably, is first of all seen in the living God, and next in the word of the living God, which he has called his covenant . . . .

 

T. Ps-J. to Genesis 9.12; T. Ps-J. to Gen. 17.2; T. Malachi 3 

The covenant between my Memra and the earth

I will set my Covenant between my Memra and thee

[cf the angel of the Covenant is the Memra]

Logos/Memra was the Covenant
On Flight 101; Who is the Heir? 166 

(101) But the divine word which is above these does not come into any visible appearance, inasmuch as it is not like to any of the things that come under the external senses, but is itself an image of God, the most ancient of all the objects of intellect in the whole world, and that which is placed in the closest proximity to the only truly existing God, without any partition or distance being interposed between them: for it is said, “I will speak unto thee from above the mercyseat, in the midst, between the two Cherubim.” . . .

(166) the one his beneficent power, in accordance with which he made the world, and in respect of which he is called God; the other his chastening power, according to which he rules and governs what he has created, in respect of which he is further denominated Lord, and these two he here states to be divided in the middle by him standing above them both. “For,” says he, “I will speak to you from above the mercy-seat, in the midst, between the two Cherubims;”that he might show that the most ancient powers of the living God are equal; that is to say, his beneficent and his chastising power, being both divided by the same dividing Word.

 

T. N. to Exodus 25.22 

And I will appoint my Memra with thee, and will speak with thee from above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim

Logos/Memra spoke from the above cherubim
Allegorical Interpretation 2.86 

(86) Moreover, the soul falls in with a scorpion, that is to say, with dispersion in the wilderness; and the thirst, which is that of the passions, seizes on it until God sends forth upon it the stream of his own accurate wisdom, and causes the changed soul to drink of unchangeable health; for the abrupt rock is the wisdom of God, which being both sublime and the first of things he quarried out of his own powers, and of it he gives drink to the souls that love God; and they, when they have drunk, are also filled with the most universal manna; for manna is called something which is the primary genus of every thing. But the most universal of all things is God; and in the second place the word of God. But other things have an existence only in word, but in deed they are at times equivalent to that which has no existence.

11 QtgJob Memra was Wisdom 

 

Logos/Memra was Wisdom, the chief power
Enhanced by Zemanta
The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)

18 Comments

  • pearl
    2010-12-03 03:33:19 GMT+0000 - 03:33 | Permalink

    Neil: “Those chapters address other evidence for a pre-70 Judaism being much more diverse in its beliefs, even its beliefs about God, than we have come to assume on the basis of what Judaism looked like after that time.”

    John D. Turner argues for non-Christian beginning of Sethianism, which likewise is greatly influenced by Greek philosophy. In his article, “Sethian Gnosticism: A Literary History”, Turner studies Sethian texts through 300 C.E.

    The result of the study suggests that Sethianism interacted with Christianity in five phases: (1) Sethianism as a non-Christian baptismal sect of the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. which considered itself primordially enlightened by the divine wisdom revealed to Adam and Seth, yet expected a final visitation of Seth marked by his conferral of a saving baptism; (2) Sethianism as gradually Christianized in the later first century onward through an identification of the pre-existent Christ with Seth, or Adam, that emerged through contact with Christian baptismal groups; (3) Sethianism as increasingly estranged from a Christianity becoming more orthodox toward the end of the second century and beyond; (4) Sethianism as rejected by the Great Church but meanwhile increasingly attracted to the individualistic contemplative practices of third-century Platonism; and (5) Sethianism as estranged from the orthodox Platonists of the late third century and increasingly fragmented into various derivative and other sectarian gnostic groups, some surviving into the Middle Ages.

    It seems Sethians were anathema to eventual ‘orthodoxy’ in general. As with Philo, Logos came to play an important role, as did more than one deity.

    For instance:

    As appropriated by Sethianism and the Gnostics in general, Sophia is a hypostatized form of Hokmah (i.e., the divine Wisdom of Proverbs 8, job 28, Sirach 24) and is regarded as a female deity, perhaps also connected with the Spirit that moved over the water in Gen 1:2-3. In the gnostic texts, Sophia functions at many levels under various names in a highly complex way. She functions as a creator and savior figure on a higher level as the divine Thought, which increasingly distinguishes itself from the high deity through various modalities, and gives rise to the divine image in which man is made. But she also functions on a lower level as the mother of the ignorant demiurge and the enlightener and savior of the divine image captured by the demiurge in human form. N. A. Dahl, in this regard, stresses the role played by the thought of Philo in this complex of ideas, particularly the notion of Sophia as Mother of the Logos and as the Mother figure in a divine triad of God the Father, Sophia the Mother, and Logos the Son.

    • pearl
      2010-12-03 07:39:27 GMT+0000 - 07:39 | Permalink

      Also, from John D. Turner’s article, “Typologies of the Sethian Gnostic Treatises from Nag Hammadi”:

      Recent scholarship locates the milieu of the descent pattern in the Jewish myth of the descending and demiurgic figure of the divine wisdom (Sophia) portrayed in Proverbs 8, 1 Enoch 42, Sirach 24, Wisdom of Solomon 6-10 and other Jewish sources.[25] In addition to Gnostic mythologies, this myth seems to have influenced Philo’s doctrine of the Logos (especially the logos prophorikos) as well as the doctrine, found in the Johannine prologue and the Alexandrian Fathers, of Christ as the Logos.

      • Klaus Schilling
        2018-08-16 17:18:31 GMT+0000 - 17:18 | Permalink

        Next to the Palestinian Targumim to Genesis, I understand Sirach and WisSol as the earliest polemic reactions to antinomianism/gnosticism. Christianity can then be understood straightforward as the result of a long development of Judaization of gnosticism, as already explained by Jean Magne in Logique des Dogmes.

  • 2010-12-03 15:51:36 GMT+0000 - 15:51 | Permalink

    I’ve begun reading the two Turner articles you link here. Another curio is his passing reference to J. M. Robinson’s discussion drawing attention to “a series of striking parallels” between Revelation 12:1-17 and Mark 1:9-13 and the “structure and motifs of the thirteen kingdoms, i.e. thirteen opinions concerning the coming of the Illuminator ‘to the water’.” Turner comments:

    As can be seen from Robinson’s study, there underlies Mark 1, Revelation 12 and Apoc. Adam V, 5:77-16-82, 19 a basic mythical structure concerning a divine child and his divine mother who are threatened by an evil power, but who are rescued and find safety in the wilderness until the evil power is destroyed. This general pattern could be made to apply not only to Adam and his divine mother or to Seth and his mother Eve, but also to the birth of Jesus, to Mary and their flight to Egypt from Herod, and perhaps more remotely to certain aspects of the Isis-Osiris-Horus cycle.”

    Turner here is discussing the ideas around the baptismal rites — pre-Christian, Markan and early Christian.

    What has baulked my willingness to discuss the Gospels in the light of some of these “gnostic” texts has been the problem of dating: the Nag Hammadi ideas are generally dated much later than the canonical gospels. I think the canonical gospels should be dated much later than they generally are, but I am reluctant to go out of my way to talk to myself. Turner’s analysis would bring many fundamental Sethian ideas to the first century. This makes discussion of comparisons possible without sounding like a complete oddball.

    What I would like to do is have another look at Mark’s gospel within the context of the some of Turner’s points on “gnostic” baptism, revelation and ascent motifs. I have been looking at the role of revelation in relation to John’s gospel and the Thomas “tradition” as brought out by April DeConick. What is Mark saying about “revelation” — Jesus has one at baptism, the disciples have one at the transfiguration but haven’t a clue what it’s about, and they only see Jesus revealed at the flesh level, and hence miss the point, and then there is the pointed lack of revelation at the end. And again we have the “descent” of Jesus from Mount Hermon down to Jerusalem as lurches from one episode after another of others failing to recognize him (I think) — or recognitions being reserved for the concluding climax when the heavenly powers are about to be judged and overcome. Recalling all those “gnostic” texts about Jerusalem being the place of the archons, the demons, the hostile heavenly powers, here.

    Lots to think about.

    One thing seems constant every time I try to think about these things: it is easier to imagine a narrative like Mark’s emerging out of the complexities of philosophical systems of thought (neopythagoreanism, middle platonism) than it is to imagine such complexities evolving out of the literal narratives. If the latter were the case we would expect more direct allegorical explanations — we don’t see that at all.

    What we might be seeing is a Platonic myth/lie to explain a complex ‘higher’ system of thought.

    Much reading and thinking to do!

    (Interesting also how “striking parallels” are allowed when discussing unorthodox cousins of Christianity, but woe to anyone who uses them to draw significant interpretations of what we find in the canonical gospels!)

    • pearl
      2010-12-04 13:55:26 GMT+0000 - 13:55 | Permalink

      Oh, Irenaeus and others would be experiencing some kind of heavenly apoplexy upon hearing your words, Neil. 😉

      Yes, there is a lot of thinking to do. As far as discussion of dating, you wouldn’t be talking to yourself. There are lots of us used to being called oddballs. Obviously, dating some of these ancient anonymous writings is very difficult and should preclude biased theological interests. Not that theological presumption is always in the mix. But it would be helpful to more consistently undo the binding of the later biblical canon and its accompanying yoke of authority in order to gain a fresh perspective in relation to much more available literature of the period, as you do in your posts.

      In his article, “Sethian Gnosticism: A Literary History”, Turner aptly describes, in relation to The Early Sethian Baptismal Rite, a “cluster of ideas” from what eventually became NT gospels as well as identified Sethian writings. You don’t see him analyzing Sethian baptism from some kind of restricted, authoritative Sethian ‘bible’, while ostracizing any other literature deemed ‘heretical’.

      Turner likewise explores “gnostic appropriation of Jewish priestly practice” in “To See the Light” (links for this article and others found on his homepage, which I linked in another comment above) in regards to Sethian baptism:

      This close association of baptism with visionary experience in the Sethian treatises seems to have antecedents that lie, at least in part, within ancient and later Jewish priestly protocol.[3]

      Simply, gnostics were highly syncretistic in developing their practices and mythological systems to convey meaning.

      Again, in regards to practice of baptism, Turner mentions (in “Sethian Gnosticism: A Literary History”):

      To judge from the Sethian baptismal mythologumena, the Sethians, wherever they derived their original rite, must have developed it in close rapprochement with Christianity. They must have sustained their initial encounter with Christianity as fellow practitioners of baptism, indeed a baptism interpreted in a very symbolic and spiritual direction.

      So, what about that “close rapprochement”… just one-sided influence?

  • mikelioso
    2010-12-03 17:53:57 GMT+0000 - 17:53 | Permalink

    “One thing seems constant every time I try to think about these things: it is easier to imagine a narrative like Mark’s emerging out of the complexities of philosophical systems of thought (neopythagoreanism, middle platonism) than it is to imagine such complexities evolving out of the literal narratives.”

    I think the the complexities you speak of formed rather independently of the literal narratives. That is to say things that happened were interpreted in light of “complexities of philosophical systems of thought (neopythagoreanism, middle platonism” just as people like Jim Jones and David Koresh interpret their lives in the light of extant esoteric systems.

    I see no problem with a complex figure like Jesus Christ having its origin point on a person. Their is ample reason to suspect that the apparatus of his elevation was already in the minds of the people around him. The human origin would nicely explain the dowdy setting. It is neither far away in time or space, Jesus acts are pedestrian, largely the work of a street magician, only a fraction of his miracles are properly miraculous, the rest could be seen on the streets of Rio or Bombay on any given day. For the gospels, Paul’s mentions of Jesus being flesh and born of woman with out need to resort to special language, and for Paul’s lofty language describing him. On earth Jesus was a man in heaven he is one with God, he has become God’s very spirit. It would explain the universality of the “historic” Jesus among Christian sects where sufficient data is available to know their position.

    • 2010-12-03 18:41:50 GMT+0000 - 18:41 | Permalink

      I believe you would be very hard pressed to compare the complexities of the Orphite and Sethite gnosticisms with anything that Jim Jones and David Koresh related to. You appear once again to be talking off the top of your head without reference to any real facts.

      As for the last part of your second paragraph (beginning “For the gospels”), would you like to re-read it and revise it so it expresses coherent thoughts that others can follow? We may then be able to respond appropriately.

    • mikelioso
      2010-12-04 04:39:30 GMT+0000 - 04:39 | Permalink

      Their is ample reason to suspect that the apparatus of his elevation was already in the minds of the people around him. The human origin would nicely explain the dowdy setting for the gospels, Paul’s mentions of Jesus being flesh and born of woman with out need to resort to special language, and for Paul’s lofty language describing him. For Paul, on earth Jesus was a man in heaven he is one with God, he has become God’s very spirit. It would explain the universality of the “historic” Jesus among Christian sects where sufficient data is available to know their position.

      Editing issue, thanks for spotting that.

      • 2010-12-05 06:44:29 GMT+0000 - 06:44 | Permalink

        The human origin would also explain the settings of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter.

        Romulus was man, born of a real woman (a virgin, too), and we have a serious historian citing many witnesses of his life and “death”, and he also became a god in heaven.

        (It would help if you could run your comments through a spell and grammar check before posting. Your second last sentence does not make sense — it finally occurred to me you may have overlooked a comma.)

        • mikelioso
          2010-12-05 08:47:54 GMT+0000 - 08:47 | Permalink

          Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are hardly religious allegorical books. It isn’t impossible that Mark is, but that doesn’t seem to be the way it presents itself. It just doesn’t resemble other works of that nature from anywhere near that time. Jewish fictive works like Daniel, Tolbit, and Ruth tend to put their characters far back in time, Mark presents Jesus living as a human at time period very close to Paul’s conversion, thus not to far presumably from the begining of the Christian movement, so it would be very easy for a reader to take his statement, “the beginning of the good news” at face value and not read it as parable.

          On Romulus, I think people did initially take accounts of him as historical and not allegorical and the span of time between the era of Romulus and the known tales of him are far greater than the span between Mark, (even if it was contemporary with, who do you say, Justin Martyr?), and Pontius Pilate.

          • 2010-12-05 09:28:45 GMT+0000 - 09:28 | Permalink

            You’re missing the point entirely. Besides, Daniel and Tobit (not Tolbit) are first person narratives so how can you say they “put their characters far back in time”?

            The point is one of simple logic. The only way we can have confidence in any story being true is if it is externally corroborated. That is true all through life as much as it is true of history. It is a truism. It is a bit of wisdom we are all taught by parents and teachers from early childhood. Even the Book of Proverbs teaches it.

            By external corroboration we mean corroboration from an independent source.

            All we have in the case of the Gospels are self-testimony and testimony by fellow Christians.

            I have attempted to show numerous times citations from other historians, even some biblical historians themselves, that relying on self-testimony and not worrying about the absence of external independent controls or corroboration is bad history. (It is not restricted to biblical scholars. I have also pointed to Liverani’s citation of early historians of the Hittites once doing the same thing.)

          • 2014-07-03 21:26:42 GMT+0000 - 21:26 | Permalink

            “Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are hardly religious allegorical books. It isn’t impossible that Mark is, but that doesn’t seem to be the way it presents itself.”

            How do the Sherlock Holmes stories seem to present themselves?

            • 2014-07-03 22:25:12 GMT+0000 - 22:25 | Permalink

              Many details of Mark don’t make any sense if read literally, but at the same time your point is valid: it doesn’t present itself as an allegory.

              I’m coming back to an idea I once flirted with long ago — that it was written in imitation of Scripture to be received as Scripture. Scripture presents itself as the authoritative word. The message is still allegorical but the allegories or spiritual lessons are understood through contemplation on what are presented as real events.

        • mP
          2012-04-30 22:12:44 GMT+0000 - 22:12 | Permalink

          Actually JKRowling has all but admitted that Harry Potter is based on Jesus Christ. Before finishing the series, one could guess what would happen next by examining the JC story.

  • Pingback: w1.3.5a thou shall have no other g’d before you, but the g’d of Israel « Arthur2rcasc's Blog

  • Pingback: If you ask to be family in the house of the Lord would you be welcomed? | Love for God, Art of Beauty, Books of Fantasy

  • Pingback: Logos « Earthpages.ca

  • Pingback: w1.3.5a thou shall have no other g’d before you, but the g’d of Israel or black death to you « Arthur2rcasc's Blog

  • Leave a Reply

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

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.