2011-05-31

Identifying the “Man of Sin” in 2 Thessalonians

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by Neil Godfrey

JUDAEA, Bar Kochba Revolt. 132-135 CE. AR Sela...
Barkokhba silver tetradrachm with Star above Temple: Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to Roger Parvus who forwarded me a scanned portion of Joseph Turmel‘s commentary on 2 Thessalonians (from “Les Ecrits de Saint Paul IV L’Epitre aux Philippiens, les Epitres aux Thessaloniciens . . .” par Henri Delafosse, 1928), I can share here an argument for the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonians being Simon Bar Kokhba, leader of the Jewish revolt of 132-135 c.e.

The commentary was published in 1928 under the name of Henri Delafosse, about two years before Turmel was denounced by the Catholic Church as a heretic. From that time on he was free to publish under his real name.

Turmel’s starting point is that 2 Thessalonians is not an authentic Pauline letter. It was written to undermine the message in 1 Thessalonians 5 that taught that Jesus would come unexpectedly, but that those alive at the time the letter was written would still be alive when that day came. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 directly contradicts this message of that earlier letter:

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [apostasia] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Turmel believed that the details laid out here for what this “man of sin” was to do are too precise and particular to be simply another imaginary prediction. Normally in “real” prophecy when a future figure is said to be destined to appear on the scene, the details are vague. They are certainly not as precise as what we read in the above chapter.

The prophesied villain in this chapter is said to:

  1. be alive at the time this letter is being composed
  2. be waiting in the shadows until some obstacle holding him back is removed
  3. be revealed at or after a time of a “falling away”
  4. exalt himself above all that are called god
  5. exalt himself above all who are worshipped
  6. appear to take possession of the temple of God, thus pretending to be God
  7. perform lying signs and wonders
  8. show himself to be a wicked liar who opposes the truth
  9. lead his followers to believe a lie
  10. be eventually destroyed by the spirit out of the mouth of Christ and by the brightness of Christ at his coming

This sets out a clear time line of detailed events beginning with what is known in the present circumstances.

The passage appears to be written as a prophecy, but Turmel suggests that this is a (mostly) fictitious device. The author knows the details of what is to follow once that obstacle is removed too precisely for it to be another imaginary prediction.

Some commentators have suggested the author had in mind one of the Roman emperors, perhaps Caligula or Nero. But most of the details simply don’t match any particular emperor’s actions. And those that do (being worshiped as a god and being impious by Jewish or Christian standards) apply to all emperors and none in particular.

The Bar Kokhba Revolt

Turmel takes his readers through an overview of some details known to us about the Jewish revolt under emperor Hadrian.

Around 130 Emperor Hadrian banned the custom of Jewish circumcision and built on the ruins of Jerusalem a new city named Aelia Capitolina.

This led to a new Jewish revolt comparable to the one of 66-70, but about which we have far less surviving information.

This revolt was described as an apostasia

  • by Justin in his 1 Apology 31:6 (link is to a page linking to a pdf file of Latin and Greek versions)
  • and by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History 4,6,1 (link is to a page leading to pdf of the Greek version).

It was said to be an apostantas

The revolt was led by Simon Bar Kosiba, better known as Bar Kochba, a name meaning Son of the Star. He took this name when Rabbi Akiba applied the prophecy of Numbers 24:17 to him:

A star [kokab] will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.

Bar Kokhba claimed to be the Messiah appointed by God to restore the Kingdom of Israel.

To prove his claim he performed tricks (‘miraculous signs’) — most notably appearing to breathe out fire from his mouth.

Hadrian spent the years 130-132 in Syria, Egypt, then again in Syria — in the neighbourhood of Palestine. During this time Bar Kokhba did not make a move.

In 132 Hadrian left for Athens. Bar Kochba saw this as his opportunity. He declared called on Jews to wage a holy war. They all responded to his call to arms — all except the Christians.

The Christians viewed Bar Kokhba as a false messiah. They could not follow him without denying their faith in Jesus Christ (Christ = Messiah).

Bar Kokhba’s original name was Bar Kosiba. Turmel writes:

Pour eux Barcochba était un faux Messie, un homme de mensonge [a man of lies], comme l’indiquait son premier nom (Coziba signifie mensonge).

“Lie” sounds like an unfortunate name, and I wonder if the French should be translated to mean that Bar Kohba was seen as a liar because that was not his real name. But a quick check of an online lexicon shows me that “kazab” (c.f. coziba) is a transliteration of a Hebrew word for “lie”.

Bar Kokhba turned on the Christians for their defiance, executing those who would not deny or blaspheme Jesus. Justin (1 Apology 33.6 – English translation) wrote:

For in the Jewish war which lately raged, Barchochebas, the leader of the revolt [αποsτασεως] of the Jews, gave orders that Christians alone should be led to cruel punishments, unless they would deny Jesus Christ and utter blasphemy.

Since 70 c.e. Jerusalem had been a Roman military base, with Jewish settlements round about. Access to Jerusalem had been forbidden to the Jews. Bar Kohba drove the Romans out and took possession of Jerusalem.

Bar Kokhba struck coins bearing the image of the Temple beneath a star, and the inscription “Jerusalem Liberated”. The Temple represented either a modest shrine that had been earlier built by the Jews in Jerusalem, or a hastily built temple structure, no doubt on a modest scale, after expelling the Romans in 132. The star represented Bar Kochba himself.

The 132-135 war ended with a reported Roman massacre of 500,000 Jews and a death penalty on any Jew approaching Jerusalem.

Understanding 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Turmel writes that Bible commentators are at a loss to understand what is meant in this passage by “the falling away” or “apostasia”. They are also at a loss to explain the obstacle that prevents this defection from erupting until it is removed.

Also perplexing is the identity of the Man of Sin who exalts himself above all that is called god or that is revered, and how all this relates to the Temple. Even more unfathomable are the false miracles to be performed what it means that his followers will believe a lie.

Turmel believes all of these mysteries are resolved against the light of the Bar Kokhba rebellion. Without the perspective of the Bar Kokhba war this passage in 2 Thessalonians is an incoherent cluster of mysteries.

This Jewish rebellion was known as an “apostasy” (“falling away”) by contemporaries Justin and Pausanias.

It broke out in 130, but because of the presence of Hadrian’s army in Syria, but was kept “underground” until 132 when Hadrian left for Athens, thus removing the obstacle that prevented the spirit of revolt from declaring itself openly. From 130 to 132 the “spirit of iniquity” was kept in the shadows out of fear of the Roman army in neighbouring Syria.

Roman emperors were the objects of religious cults. They were worshiped as gods and sacrificial altars were erected for them. By rebelling against Hadrian Bar Kokhba was setting himself above someone called god. The emperor was “august”, reverenced in worship, and Bar Kokhba was exalting himself above one who was worshiped.

The Christians, however, viewed Bar Kokhba as the enemy, the adversary, the son of perdition, the wicked one, since he sought to kill them unless they renounced their faith. Their Jesus was also God and the Messiah, so it appeared to them that Bar Kokhba was also exalting himself above their God and the Messiah they worshiped. They saw Bar Kokhba as one who wanted to replace God himself in their lives.

The coins Bar Kokhba minted graphically portray his own symbol, the star, he himself, appearing to take possession of the Temple as his own.

And of course he claimed to be the Messiah, though his original name meant “Lie”, and he “proved” his claim by breathing out fire from his mouth. Those who followed him, therefore, were following and believing a Lie. He was really the persecutor of the “true people of God”, the Christians.

The future — the destruction of the Man of Sin — and dating the epistle

One detail was not fulfilled historically, however. Jesus did not return and vaporize Bar Kokhba with the breath of his mouth.

That part of the “prophecy” was the hope of the author. Just as Bar Kokhba could breathe deadly fire, so the author anticipated Jesus returning to destroy him with the deadly breath from his own mouth. Lex talionis, the law of (eye for eye) retaliation.

So when the author departed from his observation of current affairs and ventured to predict the future, he failed. And this failure, says Turmel, dates the composition of this epistle to the early months of 135 c.e.

The author has written up all he has witnessed as if it had been a prophecy from Paul.

The primitive character of the epistle

Turmel makes a few more observations. The epistle has not yet been touched by Marcionism. It is also before the time of what became “Catholic orthodoxy”. It is composed in terms of a primitive theology that could have come from the pen of Paul.

The “strong delusion” that God is said to send is a concept straight from the Old Testament which speaks of God blinding the eyes and hardening the hearts of his rebellious people.

The Satan appearing in verse 9 also is also a Jewish concept. If a supernatural being is the idea here, one can find him in Job 1:7 and Zechariah 3:1. But perhaps, offers Turmel, the term “satan” should be understood in its original sense of enemy. If that is the case, then verse 9 should better be translated beginning “the coming of this powerful enemy . . . “.

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28 Comments

  • Fabrizio
    2011-05-31 00:45:19 GMT+0000 - 00:45 | Permalink

    Richard or Roger Parvus? It is a bit curious that Hermann Detering, too, in his “Turmel redivivus – Die Ignatianen als marcionitische Pseudepigrapha” (http://www.radikalkritik.de/turmel_red.pdf), apparently miscalls Roger Parvus as “Roger Petit”. Perhaps they are all Turmel’s aliases!

    • 2011-05-31 08:35:49 GMT+0000 - 08:35 | Permalink

      Roger, not Richard, of course. Thanks for alerting me. (Have corrected the post and apologized to Roger.)

      I plan to be discussing Roger’s book on Ignatius and Marcion after I complete my reviews of Jesus Potter Harry Christ.

  • John
    2011-05-31 01:09:30 GMT+0000 - 01:09 | Permalink

    Sounds plausible to me. I have no issue with it. But I’ve just gone along with the idea that it’s not a genuine letter of Paul’s, so I haven’t given it much thought, but now I want to take a closer look at it.

    It is interesting that it was part of Marcion’s canon (so I’m learning), which could mean that just because he used something -like the supposed absence of the brother of the Lord reference in Galatians- it does not mean that it is “early” or authentic.

    I will have to check this information, but right off the bat it is interesting that it also says on wikipedia:

    “there is more evidence from early Christian writers for [Paul’s] authorship of Second Thessalonians than that of First Thessalonians. The epistle was included in Marcion’s canon and the Muratorian fragment; it was mentioned by name by Irenaeus, and quoted by Ignatius, Justin, and Polycarp.”

    It’s the Ignatius reference that’s catching my attention, since (I think?) he died before the Bar Kochba revolt, though there might be nothing defintie about that. But I can’t wait to find out.

    Interesting topic.

    • John
      2011-05-31 01:26:57 GMT+0000 - 01:26 | Permalink

      Okay, here it is, in Igantius’ epistle to the Romans, at the end of ch. 10:

      http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm

      Supposedly the “the patience of Jesus Christ” is a quote of 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “the steadfastness of Christ,” though steadfastness can be “patience,” I don’t know if the Greek word for it is the same one in Ignatius. As I suspected, it’s not overwhelming evidence, and I don’t think I want to “go there” when it comes to arguing for the authenticity of Ignatius’ epistles in any event.

      I’m happy to think 2 Thessalonians is not Pauline and that could refer to Bar Kochba. I think that would be interesting, if so.

    • 2011-05-31 08:23:35 GMT+0000 - 08:23 | Permalink

      If the letter was composed in 135 and was part of Marcion’s canon, then it is one more strike against R. Joseph Hoffmann’s idea (posted some time ago on this blog) that Marcion should be dated closer to the turn of the century, certainly before the Bar Kochba war, rather than (traditionally) around 140.

  • Evan
    2011-05-31 02:51:58 GMT+0000 - 02:51 | Permalink

    I have recently come to question whether or not Hadrian’s construction of the Temple of Zeus in Aelia Capitolina is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of in the little apocalypse of Mark 13:14. It strikes me that it is directly analogous to Antiochus IV’s “abomination” spoken of in Daniel 11:31, and would require the date of composition of Mark’s final redaction to be moved past 135 CE, but none of these issues seem like problems, as long as we assume the same things we can assume in the case of Daniel’s abomination of desolation.

    Since we have no external attestation for Mark before 135 CE, and Mark 13:14 seems pretty clearly not to refer to Antiochus, and since the only other action that clearly parallels that of Antiochus would be Hadrian’s, this case seems fairly solid. I’m curious if there are any holes in it that I am not seeing.

    • 2011-05-31 08:27:09 GMT+0000 - 08:27 | Permalink

      You have seen Herman Detering’s arguments for this? I have distilled the main points in an old 2007 post.

      (I think I was relying on a machine translation of the German at the time — it has since been translated into English and available online.)

      • Evan
        2011-05-31 09:49:18 GMT+0000 - 09:49 | Permalink

        No, I hadn’t. I just thought about it when I was listening to Dale Martin’s NT course on Itunes. But I’m happy to know I’m not alone. Can you think of any drop-dead arguments against this?

        • 2011-05-31 10:25:01 GMT+0000 - 10:25 | Permalink

          Keep this to yourself, but I do sometimes suspect that the first gospel really was written as late as the 130’s.

          I have read that Lightfoot “demolished” Bruno Bauer’s arguments for the same very late dating of the gospels. But as one scholar did say to me in correspondence, it is hard to imagine Lightfoot truly “demolishing” anything from the radical critics. I would still like to read both Bauer’s and Lightfoot’s arguments but cannot find them.

          • Peter Oxley
            2011-06-01 20:47:14 GMT+0000 - 20:47 | Permalink

            Concerning the late dating of the canonical gospels have you seen Markus Vinzent’s new blog (http://markusvinzent.blogspot.com/)? See, in particular, his post “A paradigm shifting hypothesis on the Synoptic Problem” of 18th May 2011.

            He is proposing the gospels were written in Rome in the 140’s CE in direct response to Marcion.

            Markus Vinzent is Professor of the History of Theology (with specialism in Patristics) at King’s College, University of London.

            • 2011-06-01 21:43:08 GMT+0000 - 21:43 | Permalink

              I’d love to read Markus Vinzent’s blogposts, but the layout is for my poor eyes unreadable. If it’s not large print, dark, on a plain contrasting background I only get a headache. It’s not clear to me, either, how to search for a post dated 18th May there.

              It looks like he covers some of the topics I am especially interested in, such as the evidence of Justin Martyr and the Gospel of Mark. I have wondered if Mark’s Gospel might be a reaction against Marcion, and I am sure many others have, too. Some suggest Mark was closer to Marcion’s gospel but Mark relies heavily on using the OT as the foundation of his gospel — Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and prophets, Moses and Elijah — contrary to Marcionism.

              The question I have, though, is the origin of the 12 disciples in all of this. Is Marcion reacting against an established narrative where they would appear to be set up as founders of a “new Israel”? Has he not taken a gospel like Luke’s (a proto-Luke?) and reworked it?

              But does not Mark’s gospel have many literary features that are best explained if it were an original composition.

              These are some of the questions that leave me in a quandry.

              Is there an easy or alternative way I can read Markus’s blog?

              • Peter Oxley
                2011-06-01 23:32:20 GMT+0000 - 23:32 | Permalink

                Yes its a horrible colour scheme – I have to magnify the page in my browser.

                The post “A paradigm shifting hypothesis on the Synoptic Problem” of 18th May 2011 can be accessed via the “Blog Archive” on the lower left hand side.

                His related book “Christ’s Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament” is due out later this summer. He has a couple of video posts etc on this – use the tag “Resurrection” from the “Table of Contents” on the right hand side.

              • Evan
                2011-06-01 23:35:42 GMT+0000 - 23:35 | Permalink

                Neil, here is what I got from his blog post dated 18 May 2011 — he makes 8 points:

                “1. Marcion started gospel-writing off with the creation of The Gospel for his own class-room. Based on his collection of 10 Pauline letters that served as hermeneutical benchmark, he checked against them what he knew, heard and read, oral traditions of elders, knowledge preserved of events and words of Jesus, the Jewish Scriptures (Torah, Prophets and other Writings) and everything he could get hold of. As with The Apostle’s, he selected carefully when he put together a narrative on Jesus. Similarly and after Marcion, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John relied on older traditions, but the main source of these authors of later canonical Gospels was Marcion’s Gospel which was the second book of his overall work, The Apostle’s.

                2. Such older traditions were collected and treasured by various people and communities, and disseminated by apostles, prophets, teachers and elders, sometimes being amplified, sometimes eroded, as were Jewish traditions transmitted orally, but also sometimes written down and even added to the third part of the Jewish Bible, the Writings.

                3. The first fixation of oral traditions related to Jesus and his movement took place in Paul’s letters, letters of others (for example 1Clement), but also in other literary genres (catechisms like the Didache, didactic novels like Hermas, apocalypses like Revelation, collections of sayings like the Gospel of Thomas). The earliest ‘Gospel’ surfaces, however, only with Marcion after 140 in Rome, written by him in and for his Roman classroom. The ensuing history of Gospel-writing and, hence, the Synoptic problem, cannot be understood without a revised understanding of how teachers (not only, but particularly in second century Rome) interacted. Far from being purely antagonistic as they are described in later apologetic writings, they taught in close proximity, knew each other, each other’s works and pupils and influenced each other as much as they developed differing views from each other. Once Marcion had created the very first Gospel, copies most have been carried (by pupils?) to classrooms of other teachers, as often pupils attended not just classrooms of one teacher. According to Tertullian, Marcion complaints that others have taken ‘from the truth material’ of his Gospel and that it ‘suffered hostility’, before he even had published this work.[13] Other teachers, therefore, must have seen the power of this Gospel-narrative which lead them immediately to the creation of alternative versions of Marcion’s Gospel which they published even before Marcion did his. These publications were not simple copies of Marcion which we could trace like the transmission of manuscripts building a stemma – one of the major problems with the Synoptic solutions in past and present – but, because the alternative versions were all creations of leading scholars and schools, they are deliberately alterations to express particular theologies. The alternative versions were not stand-alone products, but part of inter-school discussions. This can be seen by the fact that when Marcion finally published his Gospel, he prefaced it with his Antitheses in which he a) set out his particular theology in a commentary to his Gospel where he quoted in exemplary manner the ‘contrast between the cruelty of the Creator and the love of Christ’[14] and b) he reacted critically to both, the Jewish writings of what he called ‘the Old Testament’ and the Christian writings that falsified his ‘New Testament’, Paul’s letters and his Gospel. Hence we have to reckon with what in codicology one calls cross-contaminated products. In the production process, authors take note of what has been written in neighbouring schoolrooms which results in an intrinsic literary dependency which can no longer be entirely disentangled and defies a final stemma-like explanation. Any simplifying two- or three-source theory is, therefore, anachronistic and no longer compelling with one exception, that later Gospels can be traced back to Marcion’s own Gospel.

                4. Prior to Marcion there was no written account of Jesus’ life. Marcion created both the concepts and the designations of ‘Gospel’, ‘New Testament’ and ‘Old Testament’, adopted his Scripture orientation of the ‘new’ religion from Rabbinism and based Christianity on this first, new Gospel which he saw as the narrative enlightened by and building on Paul’s letters, hence the title The Gospel as part of his work The Apostle’s without attaching any author’s name to it.

                5. Mark and Matthew are the first to have reacted to Marcion with Luke using The Gospel, Matthew and Mark, and John being developed slightly later, but also using The Gospel. In addition, also other writings like for example the Ascensio Isaiae, the Epistle of the Apostles, the Gospel of Peter were composed as an engaging response to The Gospel, and so did Justin or his (and Marcion’s) pupil Tatian produce the first Gospel harmony, followed soon by the Marcosians, again, both based on Marcion’s Gospel. The years after 140 in Rome were the time of Gospel-writing, first for specific classrooms, but quickly also for the wider communities of competent teachers, scribes, parabolists, and inspired poets. In direct response to Marcion who contrasted his New Testament (especially The Gospel) with the Old Testament by using contradictory quotes from both sources,[15] the author of Mark followed closely structure and content of The Gospel, broadened and also cut down some passages. Matthew combined his Gospel with the Torah and the Prophets (= nebiim), using an enormous amount of cross references. Probably The Gospel itself was regarded as part of the Christian Writings (= Ketubim). The same re-linking to the Jewish Scriptures was made in Luke, although Luke features less Jewish elements than Matthew.

                6. Luke and similarly Matthew, Mark and John are close re-writings of Marcion’s Gospel, as were the Gospel harmonizations and a number of other Gospels of which only fragments, traces and names are extant. The canonical texts, however, seem the earliest and most closely matching texts to that of The Gospel in structure and wording – one of the potential reasons why they had been brought together into one collection of works re-setting Marcion’s Gospel-part of his New Testament.

                7. John was written in another classroom at Rome, related to Valentinus, as can be seen from the first commentators. During the time of Ptolemy, potential a pupil or colleague of Valentinus, only the prologue of John existed which was commented on by Ptolemy, a few years later, the entire Gospel was finished and published on which Heraclius commented, a copy of which was owned by the Valentinian Ambrose, Origen’s patron who after having moved away from Valentinians asked Origen to produce his own commentary on the basis of the one by Heraclius. John knew and drew on all three Synoptics, but especially Matthew, and developed them freely. He did have other traditions, of dubious reliability.

                8. Serious attention has to be given to all first and second century literature that can be compared with the Synoptics and John.

              • 2011-06-02 07:49:07 GMT+0000 - 07:49 | Permalink

                It looks like a machine translation. I’d be interested in the evidence underlying #1 and #4 in particular.

  • Matt
    2011-05-31 03:04:17 GMT+0000 - 03:04 | Permalink

    Very interesting post – however, I find it unlikely that “bar Kosiba” was his original name. It sounds more like a insulting pun on his assumed title. It may very well have been coined by Christians and adopted by mainstream Jews after his failure to defend against the Romans.

    • Roger Parvus
      2011-05-31 17:39:37 GMT+0000 - 17:39 | Permalink

      Turmel takes ‘bar Koziba’ to be the would-be messiah’s real name and he points out that ‘Koziba’ means ‘lie.’ But it would appear, from letters found in the 1960s, that his real name was ‘bar Kosiba’ (with ‘s’), and that it was the close similarity of the two spellings and pronunciations that easily led to punning by both his enemies (the Christians he persecuted) and his disappointed supporters. The letters can be read at: http://www.livius.org/ja-jn/jewish_wars/bk07.html. That site also has a photo of a coin of his showing the temple with the star above it.

      An article by Richard Gottheil and Samuel Krauss in the Jewish Encyclopedia has this to say about him:

      “Jewish sources call him Ben (or Bar) Koziba or Kozba. Many scholars believe this name to have been derived from the city of Chezib (Gen. xxxviii. 5) or Chozeba (I Chron. iv. 22), although it is more likely that it was simply the name of his father. Others believe that Bar Koziba was a contumelious appellation (“Son of Lies”) bestowed after the unfortunate issue of the revolt. Although this also seems to be implied by the words of the patriarch, R. Judah I. (Lam. R. ii. 2), it merely proves that the luckless hero was early held responsible for the misfortune that had befallen the nation. On the other hand, it is certain that the name Bar Kokba is only an epithet derived from R. Akiba’s application of the verse to Koziba: “There shall come a star [“kokab”] out of Jacob who shall smite the corners of Moab and destroy all the children of Seth” (Num. xxiv. 17).”

      • Evan
        2011-05-31 22:51:58 GMT+0000 - 22:51 | Permalink

        Wow, I was previously unaware of the etymology there for “koziba” and it strikes me that this obvious pun might help explain John 8:44.

      • Matt
        2011-06-03 11:38:42 GMT+0000 - 11:38 | Permalink

        Thanks for the information, Roger. I had assumed that the “s” and “z” were interchangeable.

  • 2011-05-31 09:41:00 GMT+0000 - 09:41 | Permalink

    Hmm. If this is so… what is the motivation behind the forgery? Why does the author (a Christian of some stripe) need to construct a Pauline prophecy of a failed Jewish revolt in the 130’s?

    I can see a pressing need for Christians to have the earlier conquest of Jerusalem explained theologically, which is one of the reasons I continue to think it is a good fit for the LA in Mark. But Bar Kokhba? I can’t see a Christian over that time needing a pseudo-Paul to tell them that revolts against Rome were doomed. Ten legions, even post-Caesar ones, can seriously ruin your day.

    I’m not seeing this as a more compelling explanation over the conventional “further development of the antichrist idea” concept.

    • 2011-05-31 10:34:11 GMT+0000 - 10:34 | Permalink

      A principal argument of Turmel that 2 Thess 2 is not a “further development of the antichrist concept” is its specificity. Imaginary prophecies are not comparable in precision.

      I had myself wondered about the motive while reading Turmel. If some were questioning 1 Thessalonians because its original recipients had long since died (along with Paul), might 2 Thessalonians be an attempt to revive flagging eschatological fervour?

      Also: to infuse some encouragement to Christians who at the time were suffering such things (or witnessing and hearing about their brethren suffering such things)?

  • John
    2011-05-31 22:55:34 GMT+0000 - 22:55 | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this a little more, and I still agree that the “Man of Sin” sounds like Bar Kochba. All the ducks seem to be in a row, like the “apostasy,” the man of sin sitting in the temple, and the fire breathing (though I didn’t see the source for that concerning Bar Kochba, I assume it’s in the Talmud).

    However, one ting seems a little “off” about this idea, 2 Thessalonians being in Marcion’s canon. It seems strange that the letter would be accepted so quickly by him and his contemporaries as Pauline. I still lean towards Bar Kochba, but I wonder if it could possibly refer to Lukuas from the Kitos Revolt of 115-117:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lukuas

    I know we don’t know much about him, but that might explain why Ignatius (if he does, and if it’s genuine)
    “quotes” 2 Thessalonians, and why 2 Thessalonians was accepted by Marcion and other church fathers.

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  • Scott
    2014-03-29 07:38:28 GMT+0000 - 07:38 | Permalink

    Why not the Roman general Titus, who was worshipped as a god in the temple before razing it to the ground?

    There are huge parallels between this passage and the Olivet Discourse. The natural assumption is that they refer to the same event.

    According to Tacitus, both Titus and his father Vespian were reputed to be miracle workers.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-03-29 13:41:08 GMT+0000 - 13:41 | Permalink

      Not disputing this, but can you give me the citation that confirms this about Titus?

  • Scott
    2014-03-29 22:54:32 GMT+0000 - 22:54 | Permalink

    Tacitus, The Histories, 1, 10, trans. Kenneth Wellesley, 263-264.

    Suetonius, The Twelve Ceasars, trans. Robert Graves, 284.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-03-29 23:10:04 GMT+0000 - 23:10 | Permalink

      Unless I’m missing it from reading too quickly through familiarity I don’t see any reference that Titus was worshiped in the Temple before destroying it.

      • Scott
        2014-03-30 05:34:31 GMT+0000 - 05:34 | Permalink

        I thought you were asking for a citation proving that Titus was said to have worked miracles.

        I will track down the information about Titus being worshipped in the temple. I think that a lot of it came from Josephus and the Talmud

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