Gullotta’s Misleading Portrayal of Carrier’s claims…. Part 2

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by Neil Godfrey

For an annotated list of previous posts in this series see the archived page:

Daniel Gullotta’s Review of Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus

For other Archives by Topic, Annotated see the right margin.

In the previous post we began to look at Daniel Gullotta’s treatment of Richard Carrier’s argument that the gospels are more like myth than remembered history and concluded with a look at a quotation taken from page 396 of Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus. In the next sentence Gullotta refers to another sentence of Carrier that is taken from a full 40/41 pages after the first one.

Carrier’s claims that ‘Mark updated Homer by recasting the time and place and all the characters to suit Jewish and (newly minted) Christian mythology’ is principally based on the work of Dennis R. MacDonald.93 After heavily citing the work of MacDonald, Carrier claims, ‘[i]n constructing his Gospel, the first we know to have been written, Mark merged Homeric with biblical mythology to create something new, a mythical syncretism, centered around his cult’s savior god, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his revelatory message, the ‘gospel’ of Peter and (more specifically) Paul.’94

93  Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, p. 436.
94  Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, p. 437.

Gullotta, p. 337

That is a misrepresentation of Carrier’s argument. Carrier’s “claim” did not follow on “after heavily citing the work of MacDonald”. The words Gullotta quotes in fact followed a single citation of MacDonald.

In those 40 pages separating the quotes Gullotta has fished out Carrier set out details of his case for reading the gospels as myth rather than history and peppered his discussion with supporting (sometimes contradicting) views of other scholars. There are 83 footnotes in those 40 pages and Dennis MacDonald appears in no more than 5 of them. Others cited in those 40 pages of establishing his case for the Gospel of Mark being constructed as a mythical narrative are:

Christian apologist Richard Bauckham, in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, attempts to argue otherwise, but there are far too many implausibilities in his case, combined with an over-reliance on the possibiliter fallacy (Carrier, Proving History, pp. 26·29).

See the various critiques in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 6 (2008);

and the critical review of Dean Bechard (of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome) in Biblica 90 (2009), pp. 126-29;

and the argument of Thomas Brodie, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: A Memoir of a Discovery (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012), pp. 115-36.

Likewise, Christian apologists Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd, in The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids, M I : Baker, 2007), also attempt to argue as Bauckham does, but their case is even more mired in implausibilities, contradictions and undemonstrated assertions,

as illustrated by Ken Olson in his review of their book for the online Review of Biblical Literature (December 20, 2008) at http://www. bookreviews.org/pdf/6281_6762.pdf;

and by Robert Price in his extended critique in ‘Jesus: Myth and Method’, in Christian Delusion (ed. Loftus), pp. 273-90.

David Gowler, ‘The Chreia‘, in The Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison, and Crossan), pp. 132-48.

Tim Whitmarsh. Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001);

Raffaella Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001)

There is a good survey of the evidence and scholarship on this aspect of ancient education and composition in Brodie, Birthing of the New Testament, pp. 2-79.

I am rejecting outright all apologetic arguments, such as that of Mark Strauss . . . . Mark Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007], p. 388) . . . .

Gary Porton. ‘The Parable in the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Literature’. in The Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison and Crossan), pp. 206-21;

and in the same volume, Herbert Basser, ‘Gospel and Talmud’, pp. 285-95;

Peter Flint, ‘Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls’, pp. 110-31;

and Craig Evans, ‘The Recently Published Dead Sea Scrolls and the Historical Jesus’, in Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluation of the State of Current Research (ed. Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans; New York: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 559-61;

and Craig Evans, ‘Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran Cave 4’, in Eschatology. Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. Craig Evans and Peter Flint; Grand Rapids, Ml: William B. Eerdmans, 1997), pp. 91-100.

Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus: Luke (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1995), pp. 73, 317 and 411.

Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah from Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels (New York: Doubleday, 1994), I, pp. 814-20 (§ 34.C);

and Robert Merritt, ‘Jesus Barabbas and the Paschal Pardon’, Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985), pp. 57-68.

William John Lyons, ‘The Hermeneutics of Fictional Black and Factual Red: The Markan Simon of Cyrene and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4 (June 2006). pp. 139-54 (149-50 for the translation of ‘ Barabbas’).

A.H. Wratislaw. ‘The Scapegoat-Barabbas’, Expository Times 3 (1891/1892), pp. 400-403.

Daniel Stokl ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), pp. 165-73;

Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, ‘Barabbas, the Scapegoat Ritual, and the Development of the Passion Narrative’, Harvard Theological Review 100 (July 2007), pp. 309-34,

and many others (from William Arthur Heidel, in The Day of Yahweh: A Study of Sacred Days and Ritual Forms in the Ancient Near East (New York: Century, 1929], p. 298, to Nicole Wilkinson Duran, in The Power of Disorder: Ritual Elements in Mark’s Passion Narrative [London: T. & T. Clark, 2008), pp. 85-87).

Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus: Matthew (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), pp. 279-80;

See G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), pp. 235-37:

and Darrell Bock, ‘The Function of Scripture in Mark 15.1-39’, in Biblical interpretation in Early Christian Gospels., Vol. 1. The Gospel of Mark (ed. Thomas R. Hatina: New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006), pp. 8-17.

Roger Aus, Barabbas and Esther and Other Studies in the Judaic Illumination of Earliest Christianity (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1 992), p. 12.

See Bruce Chilton, ‘Targum, Jesus, and the Gospels’, in Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison and Crossan), pp. 238-55.

Henk Jande Jonge, ‘The Cleansing of the Temple in Mark 11:15 and Zechariah 14:21’, in The Book of Zechariah and its Influence (ed. Christopher Tuckett; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 87-100.

Mark Black ‘The Messianic Use of Zechariah 9-14 in Matthew, Mark and the Pre-Markan Tradition’, in Scripture and Traditions: Essays on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Carl R. Holladay (ed. Patrick Gray and Gail R. O’Day; Boston: Brill, 2008), pp. 97-114

See Helms, Gospel Fictions, pp. 65-67.

see Adam Winn, Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative: Considering the Practice of Greco-Roman Imitation in the Search for Markan Source Material (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010).

See Mary Douglas, Thinking in Circles: An Essay on Ring Composition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007);

and T.D. Benedikston, ‘Structure and Fate in Suetonius’ Life of Galba’, Classical Journal 92 (1997), pp. 167-73.

Matthew Ferguson, Thematic Rings and Structure in Suetonius ‘ De Vita Caesarum (MA thesis, University of Arizona, 2012), available at http://www.richardcarrier.info/ FergusonSuetonius.pdf.

Norman Petersen, ‘The Composition of Mark 4:1-8:26’, Harvard Theological Review 73 (January-April 1980), pp. 185-217.

Paul Achtemeier in ‘Toward the Isolation of Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae’, Journal of Biblical Literature 89 (September 1970), pp. 265-91;

and Paul Achtemeier, ‘The Origin and Function of the Pre-Marcan Miracle Catenae’, Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (June 1972), pp. 198-221.

see Thomas Mathews, The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993).

Robert Price, The Christ­ Myth Theory and its Problems (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2011), pp. 93-94.

Marcus Borg, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 2001), pp. 206- 209.

See the analysis in Crossan, Power of Parable, pp. 162-68.

Bart Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 2005), p. 68.

David Ulansey, ‘The Heavenly Veil Torn: Mark’s Cosmic “lnclusio'”, Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (Spring 1991), pp. 123-25.

Deborah Krause, ‘The One Who Comes Unbinding the Blessing of Judah: Mark 11.1-10 as a Midrash on Genesis 49.11, Zechariah 9.9, and Psalm 118.25-26’, in Early Christian Interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel: Investigations and Proposals (ed. Craig Evans and James Sanders; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), pp. 141-53

Calum Carmichael, ‘The Passover Haggadah’, in Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison and Crossan), pp. 343-56.

Chilton, ‘Targum, Jesus, and the Gospels’, in Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison and Crossan), p. 247.

Theodore Weeden, ‘Two Jesuses, Jesus of Jerusalem and Jesus of Nazareth: Provocative Parallels and Imaginative Imitation’, Forum N.S. 6.2 (Fall 2003), pp. 137- 341;

Craig Evans, ‘Jesus in Non-Christian Sources’, in Studying the Historical Jesus (ed. Chilton and Evans), pp. 443-78 (475-77).

George Nickelsburg, ‘The Genre and Function of the Markan Passion Narrative’, Harvard Theological Review 13 (January-April 1 980), pp. 153-84.

Robert Miller, ‘The (A)Historicity of Jesus’ Temple Demonstration: A Test Case in Methodology’, in Society of Biblical Literature 1991 Seminar Papers: One Hundred Twenty-Seventh Annual Meeting (ed. Eugene Lovering: Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991), pp. 235-52.

R.G. Hamerton-Kelly, ‘Sacred Violence and the Messiah: The Markan Passion Narrative as a Redefinition of Messianology’, in The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity (ed. James Charlesworth; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), pp. 461-93 (467-71).

See David Neville, Mark’s Gospel–Prior or Posterior? A Reappraisal of the Phenomenon of Order (New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), pp. 258-66;

Francis Gerald Downing, ‘Markan Intercalation in Cultural Context’, in Doing Things with Words in the First Christian Century (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), pp. 118-32;

T. Shepherd, ‘The Narrative Function of Markan Intercalation’, New Testament Studies 41 (1995), pp. 522-40;

G. Van Oyen, ‘Intercalation and Irony in the Gospel of Mark’, in The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck, Vol. II (ed. Frans van Segbroeck; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1992), pp. 943-74;

J.R. Edwards. ‘Markan Sandwiches: The Significance of Interpolations in Markan Narratives’, Novum Testamentum 31 (1989). pp. 193-216.

See Victor Eppstein, ‘The Historicity of the Gospel Account of the Cleansing of the Temple’, Zeitschrift fur neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der alteren Kirche 55 (1 964), pp. 42-58.

Robert Funk, ‘Do the Gospels Contain Eyewitness Reports?’ in Finding the Historical Jesus: Rules of Evidence (ed. Bernard Brandon Scott; Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge, 2008), pp. 31-39 (32).

Somehow the name “MacDonald” appears to have so blinded Gullotta that he missed all of those citations and the details of 40 pages of Carrier’s argument for the gospels being myth and not history.

Finally Carrier comes to the point where he discusses Dennis MacDonald’s contribution to the question. He begins by quoting a single passage from MacDonald before the words Gullotta asserts follow “after heavily citing the work of MacDonald”:

As MacDonald explains:

Mark and Luke wrote not to convert their readers but to provide the bur­geoning Christian movement a literary narrative to shape its identity, much as classical Greek poetry-Homeric epic above all-had shaped Greek culture, including religion. In this respect, Mark and Luke-Acts are similar to the Aeneid, which was composed about a century earlier. In this Latin epic, Vergil transformed Homeric epic and other literature into a lavish and powerful mythology that profoundly shaped Roman politics, society, and culture.102

102. MacDonald, ‘Imitations of Greek Epic’, pp. 374-75.

(Carrier, p. 436)

Gullotta follows immediately with a criticism of Dennis MacDonald’s thesis

MacDonald’s proposal is that Mark was not written as history, but rather to emulate Homer’s epics; thus, the author constructed the life of Jesus to mirror the trials of Odysseus and Hector. In short, ‘Mark wrote a prose epic modeled largely after the Odyssey and the ending of the Iliad’.95

(Gullotta, p. 337)

From this point Gullotta loses sight of Carrier’s own line of reasoning, sometimes erroneously conflating MacDonald’s and Carrier’s views, and even at one point distorting the meaning of MacDonald’s words in order to fire a salvo at “mythicists” in general.

As I said, trying to get a complete handle on Gullotta’s fifth point is a long haul. I’ll set out the evidence for the assertions in the previous paragraph in my next post.

More to come.

Carrier, Richard. 2014. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press.

Gullotta, Daniel N. 2017. “On Richard Carrier’s Doubts.” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 15 (2–3): 310–46. https://doi.org/10.1163/17455197-01502009.


  • db
    2018-08-14 02:12:28 UTC - 02:12 | Permalink

    YouTube channel: PineCreek (Mar 14, 2018), “Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald Interview; Imitation and Invention (Mimesis) in the Gospels/Acts”

    MacDonald >>> [01:46] I consider myself a Christian but I confess to have serious doubts about the existence of God but that doesn’t make me a mythicist and for those who are listening mythicism is a form of atheism that denies that Jesus ever existed my work has been attractive to some of them because I do talk about mythologizing trends in the early church but those trends need to be placed in the context of an actual historical person about which there ought not be very serious doubt but also that mythologizing doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ahistorical or that it’s not serious or that it’s plagiaristic or simply fictionally plastic it has to do with how early Christians value Jesus is a superhero of justice and compassion by framing these stories in the context of classical Greek mythology they’re trying to talk about how Jesus is competitive with the likes of Heracles or Odysseus or Achilles and even the Greek deities but superior in terms of compassion and justice and by the way this kind of thing was done by Jews even before at least a hundred years before the writing of the Gospels so we’re talking about something that was well understood in antiquity [03:22]

    • A Buddhist
      2018-08-14 11:59:28 UTC - 11:59 | Permalink

      Why does MacDonald not realize that it is possible to be a theistic mythicist? I mean, one could doubt the historical existence of Jesus but have unquestioning belief in the existence of, say, Shiva as the Supreme Creator God.

    • Bob Jase
      2018-08-15 18:40:33 UTC - 18:40 | Permalink

      “mythicism is a form of atheism” – Funny, I never realized all those Hindus, Muslims, etc were atheists.

  • Martin Lewadny
    2018-08-14 05:45:45 UTC - 05:45 | Permalink

    I too saw the very fascinating discussion on Pine Creek re this very issue. It is clear given Dr. MacDonald’s global confession is that he is not a mythicist, despite his mythical recreations of Jesus in the light of the Homeric and NT Literature.

    Here we go……………this is going to be a ride since MacDonald and Carrier have taken different sides on the issue. Both these scholars are top notch. Sadly, many will use this or that from “the other” to see what can make one’s view sound more compelling to another,as a piece of religious polemics.

    One wonders then … all this verbal and sometimes real horror and violence and bullshit over whether Jesus was real or not…the basic fact is that all we have before us are the multiple and contradictory images and ideas presented in the NT texts . Each man according to protestant hermeneutics reads those texts through his own sane or insane self! The products are so different , even using the same texts.! Yikes!

    I love all this stuff too in connection with ancient texts, but I can’t actually believe that in this day and age there would be people who would cut your head off , in numerous ways(?) for seeking to struggle and settle, perhaps, some hermeneutical differences about the Bible and other sources! Yikes!!!

    bottom line.. I hope that certain fundigelicals will not continue poisoning the streams of scholarship on this issue with their own verbal venom , from alleged wise and scribal snakes in the court of Caiphas and all other self-proclaimed scholars who think they are speaking on behalf of some god.

    Do you think Jesus cared one bit about consensus ? My god , my lord, he defied the consensus and they crucified him… about questions and issues that no one could solve in that time as well.

    My old professor used to tell me that it is not good to turn “characters” in Scripture into real ontological realities!!

    A lot of people have not figured that out yet.

    Even Meister Eckhart said regarding all mystics”

    You have to give up god in order to find god!

    Cheers everyone.. just havin some fun… here.

    • Bob Jase
      2018-08-15 18:51:15 UTC - 18:51 | Permalink

      “Do you think Jesus cared one bit about consensus ? My god , my lord, he defied the consensus and they crucified him”

      But did they really? According to the gospel the Jewish crowds called for the release of Jesus Barabbas, Jesus the son of the father aka as Jesus the Christ. I suspect the early versions had Jesus getting away scott free to found his kingdom. When that didn’t happen the story had to be revised to add another Jesus son of the father so that there was an excuse for the kingdom not happening.

      Its all fiction.

  • 2018-08-14 10:19:19 UTC - 10:19 | Permalink

    I agree that Gullotta’s treatment of Carrier’s presentation is unfair, but it’s also exactly one of the reasons why I’ve avoided all mention of non-Jewish influences on the development of the Gospel narrative. It’s just way too much of a distraction and flash point, and, IMO, its not even an important part of the case.

    This is exactly what these type of people do. I mean, you have to consider that this is the same mentality, only far worse, of people who “debate” things like intelligent design and Benghazi, etc. Their primary skill is ignoring facts and twisting arguments. So you have to give them as little as possible to work with. They look for any weak point like this and then blow it all out of proportion, just as he’s done.

  • Martin Lewadny
    2018-08-14 19:00:58 UTC - 19:00 | Permalink

    Dear Mr. R.G Price. I have read your material on GMark. I liked much of it and agree with you that the main parallels in my view are Jewish as well. I also see a lot of Wisdom Lit. of various kinds (not necessarily canonical) at work in the creation of the Jesus we have in the NT, especially in Paul.

    I have learned much from Dr. MacDonald as well. I cannot develop it here now but I quite favor an old writer on the Jesus Myth hypothesis that is often not quoted much…Benjamin W. Smith (all of his presently available works).

    In a nutshell I am working on telling the story of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection texts as rewritings of OT texts, motifs, characters. etc. to parabolically talk about the death and resurrection , and glorification of Israel.

    There is both continuity and diversity in these pictures. The Jesus of the nt represents a “transformation” of Israel as the new Israel…the Son of God. Whenever I have plugged in that assumption (which I believe is present throughout the Nt, I find it fits fairly well. I like MacDonald’s emphasis on mimesis but see it more in relation to the Jewish texts. That is why it is absolutely essential to understand and study extensively the OT to see parallels, clear collocations and connections.

    I am also trying to do this with the satan figure as well and seeking to tell the story of satan alongside of the story of Jesus. I don’t think one should put too much emphasis on the intertestamental and Persian texts to explain the satan references. My favorite is the Joshua and Satan encounter each other in Zech. 3 where Joshua gains access via some sort of visionary transformation to the Council. The only collocation of Jesus and Joshua in the Ot but has lots of connections to the NT , especially in Mark. The satan occurs in the NT to check out the new “righteous” kid on the block . There is so much more that could be said… I might even be willing to see a euhemerization regarding this entity who comes down to earth and manifests as various historical “characters” in the story of Jesus. At one Jesus even calls Peter =Satan. that is Cephas or Caiphas (the pillar) and we know that Caiphas the pillar priest is in adversarial relation to Jesus as well as Peter (the new high priest of the new followers of Jesus! and the Temple. Have no time to defend that here though.

    Avoiding the OT and looking to other sources for the Jesus picture and dogma is a serious error. Just for starters… one should read Rikki Watts on Isaiah etc. in Mark. For example,I am now examining a neglected area by students regarding the use of the son of man figure (Ezekiel) himself in the Book of Ezekiel who is called “son of man” at least 90 x. There is more there than meets the eye. I have already found parallels of language, motif, etc. Very interesting to study Mark and John with this in mind.

    I find it fascinating and just plain fun checking these things out.

    eg.I could not find any direct parallel to Jesus’ words in John 7:37ff. and Jesus quotes scripture but I couldn/t find anything direct with the quote. Then after reading Ezek. 47 about water flowing out of the Temple at the end of time I realized that Jesus may well be drawing on Temple motifs to explain living water coming out of the kolia (bosom of the Father in John!) of God.. the belly of the temple, which in John refers to the “body or temple of Jesus”!!! (John 2).

    These parallels are not as tidy and neat as we would like them but they do have more going for them than most which are sometimes drawn from other texts outside the canon , etc.

    Anyway, just thought I would share a few thoughts.

    • 2018-08-16 15:35:17 UTC - 15:35 | Permalink

      Martin: I’ve never understood the focus on attempts to explain the origins of the Jesus cult and Gospel narratives via non-Jewish sources. To me this has always been one of the biggest pitfalls to the credibility of “mythicism”, and its something I’ve sought to correct. I’m careful not to completely dismiss all such connections, but I certainly don’t focus on them.

      Also note that Satan or Beliar is much talked about in the apocalyptic Jewish literature from the 2nd century BCE through 2nd century CE.

      But yeah, the fact that so many mythcists have focused so much effort on trying to draw “pagan parallels” to Jesus is just baffling IMO. There is so much rich and concrete evidence of mythologizing based on Jewish sources. It almost seems as if many early mythicists were either afraid of analyzing the Jewish origins of the Jesus myth or were making claims of pagan origins for shock value.

      • db
        2018-08-16 17:36:14 UTC - 17:36 | Permalink

        Given the commentary of Justin Martyr and the possibility that the Gospel of Mark was actually written much later than 67 CE. Well that is just to much red meat to pass up for most.

        • But I think the salient point per Justin Martyr is his Middle Platonism.

        Hillar, Marian. Numenius and Greek Sources of Justin’s Theology
        . Invited paper for the Annual Meeting of American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, Nashville, TN, November 18-21, 2000 @ http://www.socinian.org/files/Numenius_GreekSources.pdf

        [Per the theological system of Numenius of Apamea and Justin Martyr] There is a complete correlation between the two systems, that of Justin and that of Numenius. The major difference is in the identification by Justin of the historical Jesus with the Second and subordinate Divinity, and his transformation into a cosmic being: Christ, Logos or Son of God.

        Droge, Arthur J. (1989). Homer Or Moses?: Early Christian Interpretations of the History of Culture. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-3-16-145354-0 :

        Who came first, Homer or Moses? That question was a point of dispute between Christian and pagan intellectuals in the early centuries of the present era. More often than not the question assumed a harsher tone: Who plagiarized from whom? As an anonymous Christian apologist of the third century declared,

        I think that some of you [sc. Greeks], when you read even carelessly the history of Diodorus, . . . cannot fail to see that Orpheus, Homer, and Solon, who wrote the laws of the Athenians, and Pythagoras, Plato, and some others, when they had been in Egypt and taken advantage of the history of Moses, afterwards were able to take a position against those who had previously held false ideas about the gods.

        at least one pagan philosopher seems to have accepted the Jewish and Christian claim without hesitation. The Pythagorean-Platonist Numenius of Apamea, a contemporary of Justin [Martyr], acknowledged this theory of dependence when he asked, “What is Plato but Moses speaking Attic Greek?” It seems therefore that few in antiquity would have thought it a preposterous idea that Homer had “read” Moses, even if they did not happen to think it likely.

        Boyarin, Daniel (28 July 2009). “Justin Martyr Invents Judaism”. Church History. 70 (03): 427. doi:10.2307/3654497

        [n. 114] Barnard’s conclusion that “the Dialogue is proof that, in certain circles, there was a close intercourse between Christians and Jews” (Barnard, Justin, 52). This would also seem to be the position of Rokéah, Justin Martyr and the Jews, 17–20, who agrees with Theodore Stylianopoulos, Justin Martyr and the Mosaic Law, Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 20 (Missoula: Scholars, 1975), 10, 14, that the Dialogue was written for the purpose of proselytizing Jews.

        • db
          2018-08-16 18:35:39 UTC - 18:35 | Permalink

          Tripolitis, Antonia (2002). Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 41f. ISBN 978-0-8028-4913-7.

          Middle Platonism postulates a hierarchy of three divine primary beings, at the head of which is the Divine Mind […] the aim in life is to free oneself from the world of matter and to return to the Divine [Mind].
          [Numenius of Apamea] adopted a synthesis of Platonic and Pythagorean doctrine. In agreement with Middle Platonic thought, Numenius posits a divine triad, a supreme Mind or God whom he calls Father or the Good, a second Mind or demiurge, and the created third God or the World Soul.

          Luchte (16 April 2008). “Wandering Souls: The Doctrine of Transmigration in Pythagorean Philosophy“. James Luchte: Philosophy.

          The mythical narrative of transmigration tells the story of myriad wandering souls, each migrating from body to body along a path of recurrence amid the becoming of the All. Yet, for the Pythagoreans, this story does not describe the passive revolution of a circle, but a pathway for an active exploration of the All and return to the divine.

          NB: This manuscript was published with minor variations by Bloomsbury as Pythagoras and the Doctrine of Transmigration: Wandering Souls in 2009.

          Neil Godfrey (2 December 2010). “The Second God among Ancient Jewish Philosophers and Commoners“. Vridar.

          Philo writes of the Logos being the agent that “severs” soul and spirit as the Judge of all things.

          • 2018-08-16 19:30:51 UTC - 19:30 | Permalink

            Yes, I do briefly touch on the influence of Platonism on Hellenistic Judaism in my book, but very briefly. There is a legitimate influence there, but this is very different, IMO, than talking about the concept of Jesus being based directly on ideas that were foreign to Judaism.

            In other words, it seems that some people present the idea of “pagan influences” on the Jesus story as separate ideas that were distinct from Jewish culture and not a part of Jewish culture outside of Christianity.

            Platonic influences had been integrated into Jewish culture for hundreds of years by the time the Jesus cult came along, and any influence from Platonic ideas had already been filtered through Hellenistic Judaism, it wasn’t a direct influence from Plato at that point. I mean, the Platonic dualism of the Jesus cult had already been integrated by Jewish thinkers for hundreds of years, this wasn’t a case of a new distinct group of Jews adopting Platonic ideas in ways that had never been done by Jews before.

            • db
              2018-08-16 22:00:08 UTC - 22:00 | Permalink

              Carrier (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus :

              • Element 2: When Christianity began, Judaism was highly sectarian and diverse. There was no ‘normative’ set of Jewish beliefs, but a countless array of different Jewish belief systems vying for popularity.
              • Element 32: By whatever route, popular philosophy (especially Cynicism, and to some extent Stoicism and Platonism and perhaps Aristotelianism) influenced Christian teachings.

              Per “whatever route, popular philosophy . . . influenced Christian teachings”, Carrier opines that this popular philosophy was likely already part of the pre-Christian Zeitgeist (spirit of the age) for Jews and others.

              Neil Godfrey (3 July 2014). “The Pre-Christian Jewish Logos“. Vridar.

              Boyarin (and a good many other scholars of early Jewish thought) parts company with many scholars of the New Testament. (It seems to me that the latter have a tendency to find ways to dismiss the relevance of Jewish ideas if and where they rob early Christianity of its distinctiveness.) Yet the evidence for first century Jews being familiar with

              • the notion of a great being alongside God himself and acting as God’s vice-regent,
              • or with the idea that such a figure was actually a hypostasis or alternative manifestation of God,
              • or with earthly notables like Adam, Israel, Enoch, Moses and others having pre-existing spiritual forms with especially exalted status in heaven and to which their earthly counterparts returned at death,

              is very strong. These sorts of ideas were apparently common in first century Judaism.

              • MrHorse
                2018-08-17 09:58:18 UTC - 09:58 | Permalink

                per Carrier: “Element 2: When Christianity began, Judaism was highly sectarian and diverse”.

                I dunno about that. I reckon Christianity began after the fall of the Second Temple, and probably well after it ie. when the number of sects -in Galilee, at least- had diminished significantly.

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