2019-05-29

Robert Price and Christopher Hansen Discussion

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by Neil Godfrey

Thanks to the emailer who brought me up to date with what’s happening elsewhere on the web, in particular a youtube discussion between Robert M. Price and Christopher Hansen about Christian origins, or more specifically the question of Jesus’ historicity.

Some points I particularly liked:

References to works against and for the concept of dying and rising gods in the ancient world, with special focus on Weber’s explanation of an “ideal type” (addressed by Price, as many readers will know) — that’s a concept I have had lined up for a post here so with the prod from this discussion I must make that post soon. I have also often wanted to post on Jonathan Z. Smith’s books. (I don’t recall off-hand if I have yet done so on Trygge Mettinger’s Riddle of Resurrection.)

Another comment worth registering: nothing should be dismissed out of hand by anyone sincerely interested in scholarly inquiry. It is too easy to say Arthur Drews should be dismissed because so many books “debunking” his views have been published; what a scholar should do is always address an argument in his own terms, seriously, not dismissively.

Price cannot hold back from injecting his political views from time to time, but at least he does so with humour and we have to indulge him (hoo boy!). One has to sympathize with his agony when he points out the (one would think) obvious evidence that the pagan concepts of dying and rising gods preceded Christianity yet finding that some scholars seriously contemplate the possibility that Christianity was the influence that these religions copied in late(r) antiquity.

One little detail mentioned in passing by Price was a reference to a scholar (not Charles Guignebert) who said that a historical Jesus would not likely have been named Jesus. If anyone does hear that detail I would welcome a note in the comments on his name. I have posted Guignebert’s argument on the same point and would like to know how the two compare.

That moment was part of a discussion on whether or not we could call a figure a “historical Jesus” if he was so much at variance with our concept of Jesus. (That discussion reminds me of a colleague at the Singapore National Library Board who used to raise the question of the relationship of technology to copyright and identity by pointing out that Cindy Crawford has a beauty mark on her left cheek, but if we reverse her photo it will appear on her right cheek: deep philosophical question coming up — is that reversed image really that of Cindy Crawford given that CC’s mark is on her left, not right, cheek?

 

Another question that comes up in the discussion: what literature in the “pagan world” is comparable to the gospels insofar as it treats a historical character in mythical terms? An example of Augustus Caesar was given, also Vespasian. I think that that answer left something to be desired. The gospels can arguably be sourced from nonhistorical narratives and are clearly mythical (or some scholars would prefer to say “christological”) in their presentation of Jesus; accounts of Roman emperors are clearly derived from historical events and the mythical additions are generally noted as such, or with some reservation usually being expressed by the historian/biographer.

Christopher Hansen says he is a “historicist”, currently accepts that there was a historical Jesus who was a distinctive personality (how can one “do anything” with a very ordinary person?) who did claim to be god (I hope I have recalled that correctly). Similarly he thinks there was a historical Gilgamesh, and a Trojan War behind the Iliad. I can’t see those arguments, myself. Much good fiction (including ancient novellas) is placed in real settings and includes some introduction of historical persons. (I mean, there may have been a historical Jesus, Gilgamesh, Trojan War between Agamemnon and Priam, — but if so, we can never know.)

Anyway, those are some of the details that came to my mind reflecting back on the discussion.

One thing I appreciated was being alerted to some books I have not yet read and have now put on my wish list.

One piece of good news came up — Acharya S’s book The Christ Conspiracy is apparently being re-written (at her request) with Bob Price’s involvement to be a more scholarly presentation.

I am a little perplexed by Price’s leaning to the possibility that “the Romans” invented Christianity to somehow help pacify messianic Jews. I will have to read the book he mentioned (Creating Christ by Valiant and Fahy) with Brandon’s in mind to see what lies behind his thinking. I can understand Judeans elites “inventing” a form of “Judaism”  under the Persians since Thomas L. Thompson has pointed out that such religious innovations were a practice in those time to persuade people who had been resettled that they were there at a god’s bidding. But we have a very different sort of situation in the wake of the two Jewish wars against Rome. Something I need to read more about before further comment.

Price once again mentioned his personal friendship with Gregory Boyd, co-author of The Jesus Legend. Price has mentioned that relationship before and it pulled me up because some years ago I wrote a very judgmental review of Boyd’s (and Eddy’s) approach to the question of interpolation in 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Price’s comment reminded me that we are addressing our fellow human beings and it pays to treat them with respect and not get carried away with the quasi-anonymity or distance set up by the internet.

 

 

 

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37 Comments

  • 2019-05-29 23:02:21 GMT+0000 - 23:02 | Permalink

    Here is a video of Price discussing the Creating Christ book with the book’s authors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjW7Voz6qd4

  • 2019-05-30 04:45:45 GMT+0000 - 04:45 | Permalink

    Neil, it might well be profitable to discuss Mettinger’s book on the resurrection for many reasons. As you well know the resurrection motif and language in any context is highly significant. I have heard that the Mettinger book is definitive and decisive in this field, which I doubt… so I am about to read it as well since this topic was central to early Judaism and Christianity and has not abated through almost 2000 years… this itself is a serious failure from the start regarding the resurrection apologetic…Why are we still debating this today…

    No one today has seen Jesus in the flesh…What the hell is going on?!!!

    The book is even used in modern debates…. Justin Bass from Dallas Seminary used this book against this and that person… Carrier..etc.

    I would like to see what you can do with this Neil.. Good luck. I would help with sources if you need them for all of us to learn more , both primary and secondary, to help us all through the hermeneutics of the resurrection…

    I will send you books and articles, not mere opinions , but carefully thought-out presentations worthy of though…Just let me know….I will do my best…

    I have perhaps a very different “Jesus Myth” view from my fellow bloggers here.. as I have said before, I think “Jesus” represents “all of Israel” (an overlooked phrase in Mark 1)…..parabolically and symbolically in many ways…If you know the OT and understand that Jesus is a “stand in” for Israel the vast majority of these texts will take on a new life….The “old” Israel must be put to death and a new Israel ..a new man, a new Adam must arise who “obeys” his Father and is then rewarded with long-life due to his obedience to his father….

    The Nt is very serious about continuity with its “past”, its “fathers” ( a phrase in the NT to indicate the respect for “ancient” traditions and stories and rituals. )and when you quote the past it has a “power” ,, don’t you think!!!????

    Anyway, what a very informative blog entry my dear Neil…

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-30 07:31:28 GMT+0000 - 07:31 | Permalink

      I’m surprised Mettinger’s work is not more widely accepted. I thought it to be a common mix of strong and weak. Like most of our/everyone’s posts, articles, books. I am about to go overseas but will try to be sure I have a digital copy with me in case I get time to discuss his book more fully if it interests others.

      • 2019-05-30 08:27:56 GMT+0000 - 08:27 | Permalink

        I will send you a copy if I can find it on my desktop.

        Hang tight as I said I would try to do.

        Marty

      • Christopher Hansen
        2019-05-30 08:39:10 GMT+0000 - 08:39 | Permalink

        I will email a copy to you Mr. Godfrey.

    • nightshadetwine
      2019-05-30 18:00:27 GMT+0000 - 18:00 | Permalink

      Neil, it might well be profitable to discuss Mettinger’s book on the resurrection for many reasons. As you well know the resurrection motif and language in any context is highly significant. I have heard that the Mettinger book is definitive and decisive in this field, which I doubt…

      I would also recommend reading “Empty Tomb, Apotheosis, Resurrection” (Mohr Siebeck, 2018) by John Granger Cook. It supports Mettinger’s book and shows that there definitely were dying and resurrecting gods that predate Jesus.

      The review in this chapter thoroughly justifies the continued use of the category of dying and rising gods. The resurrection of Osiris is the closest analogy to the resurrection of Jesus, although Osiris remains in the netherworld – wherever it is located. Horus’s resurrection is a clear analogy. The rebirth or resurrection of Dionysus also provides a fairly close analogy to the resurrection of Jesus. The revival of Heracles and probably that of Melqart are also strong analogies. Dumuzi’s, Baal’s, and Adonis’s returns from the netherworld are less useful as comparisons, but their power to overcome death is an important analogy to the NT Lucian was willing to use the image of resurrection for Adonis’s return from Hades. Traditions of a resurrection of Adonis and Attis are later than the Gospels, but are nevertheless in good continuity with those from earlier periods (e.g. that of Osiris).Just as the Greek of the LXX and NT has it’s place in the matrix of classical Greek, so the resurrection of Christ can be placed in the matrix of the bodily resurrections of cult figures from the Mediterranean world. The comments by Justin, Tertullian, Theophilus, and Origen all indicate a willingness to examine pagan analoies to the birth and resurrection of Jesus. Dieter Zeller notes that according to the apologists, the Hellenistic divinities were not unimportant for the acceptance of the proclamation of the resurrection and ascension Jesus…

      This brief survey indicates fairly clearly that the category “dying and rising gods” is still useful to describe the vicissitudes of a number of ancient divinities. One does not need to adopt Frazer’s approach using the concept of an annual dying and rising vegetation deity. Consequently, the thesis that the concept is dead cannot be sustained.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2019-05-31 02:27:48 GMT+0000 - 02:27 | Permalink

        I will have to re-read Mettinger — years since I first read it — and I want to read Cook’s book, too, as you advise. Unfortunately the cheapest available to me, including postage, is $A266. No thanks. I will have to see about getting it on interlibrary loan though that will take a while since I suspect it will have to come from overseas. (And I’m about to go overseas myself so I won’t request it till I return.) There appears to be an electronic version so I expect it will appear (eventually) online somewhere (illegally), but that could be months away, too — not that I would want anyone to suspect I’d touch a book on an illegal site!

      • 2019-05-31 06:55:11 GMT+0000 - 06:55 | Permalink

        Thanks Night-Shade for the heads-up on the Granger Cook book. Oh My! So much to read how will we survive!! Whew!

        I am so excited about the resourcefulness of this site.

        Marty Lewadny

  • db
    2019-05-30 04:46:53 GMT+0000 - 04:46 | Permalink

    Per Price on a historical Jesus: “Was his father named Joseph, or is that an historicization of his earlier designation as the Galilean Messiah, Messiah ben Joseph?”

    Dix, G. H. (1926). “THE MESSIAH BEN JOSEPH”. The Journal of Theological Studies. 27 (106): 130–143. ISSN 0022-5185.

    There is found in Jewish writings of the third century A.D. a curious form of the Messianic Hope which led to the expectation of two Messiahs, a Messiah ben Joseph as well as the Messiah ben David.
    […]
    E. G. King made a study of the theme in his translation of the Yalkut on Zechariah, Appendix A. He gave reasons for supposing that the expectation of a suffering Messiah was current in Judaism at least as early as the first century A. D., though it has been remarked that his argument ‘does not really prove more than that the doctrine of the Messiah ben. Joseph found points of attachment in older thought’.

  • Christopher Hansen
    2019-05-30 05:24:46 GMT+0000 - 05:24 | Permalink

    Hey,

    Just wanted to clarify one point, as I neglected to do so in the video (a fault of my own).

    I think Jesus claimed to be a god. I do not think he would have claimed to have been Yahweh proper, however I think it the case he claimed divinity (a god as in how Enoch, Moses, etc were considered gods, or the how we have examples of self proclaiming themselves a deity in their own right, as attested in a DSS, where the author deifies himself, see: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4201568?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=moses&searchText=deification&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3Ffilter%3D%26amp%3BQuery%3Dmoses%2Bdeification&ab_segments=0%2Fdefault-2%2Fcontrol&refreqid=search%3A3766545bcbc3b04fd77a77ebcceb3ba9&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents — page 240 notes that 4Q491 is best understood as the deification of its own author). So it is not at all unprecedented for there to be self proclaimed divinity, even in Palestine, which would, to me, explain the ease and such quick development of various Christologies.

    This is not, by any means, all of my argumentation for this, I am merely posing my basic position in clarification since it has become apparent (due to a little confusion from other people) that I was no obvious with what I meant and “flubbed” that.

    Thanks all, and thank you Neil for the great post!

    Best,

    Chris H

    • db
      2019-05-30 07:10:55 GMT+0000 - 07:10 | Permalink

      Angel, Joseph L. (2010). Otherworldly and Eschatological Priesthood in the Dead Sea Scrolls. BRILL. pp. 137–138. ISBN 90-04-18145-8.

      [Per THE SELF-GLORIFICATION HYMN] Few scholars have followed Baillet’s suggestion that the speaker is to be identified with the archangel Michael. . . . Among the vast majority of scholars who prefer a human speaker, there is no consensus as to his precise identity.
      […]
      Stegemann prefers to view the text as an example of “collective messianism,” where, comparable to the Songs of the Servant (Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12), “sometimes the collective of the people of Israel is spoken off [sic] like an individual.” . . . Israel Knohl prefers to see the speaker as the royal messiah.

      According to a very popular line of interpretation, the speaker is viewed as an exalted priestly figure. We have already noted Abegg’s assertion that this figure is the Teacher of Righteousness, who is elsewhere explicitly identified as a priest.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-30 07:35:33 GMT+0000 - 07:35 | Permalink

      and such quick development of various Christologies

      Thanks for your comment, Chris. (Hope “Chris” is not too informal 🙂 )

      Question: what is meant by “such quick development of various Christologies”? How quick? From when to when, frex, ?, or better still, “what”, exactly, from when, ….

      • Christopher Hansen
        2019-05-30 07:52:06 GMT+0000 - 07:52 | Permalink

        Oh yeah, Chris is fine.

        So what I meant here is the relatively “fast” development of the Christ mythos. Since I do think he was likely killed around 30ish CE (give or take a few years), and then Paul is writing beginning circa 50 CE, within a 20 or so year span there has been a development, in Pauline doctrine alone, of Christ as a pre-existent angel, who becomes a human is killed, and then exalted into deity. Mark, a mere forty years later, has developed a concept of Adoptionism as his Christological setting for Christ’s divinity, a human adopted into the fold.

        The Creeds that Paul quotes give evidence to these traditions circulating around, so these managed to develop within a relatively short time frame between Paul and his letters.

        As I noted in the talk, I don’t really buy into any, thus so far proposed, pre-existent angel Jesus in Judaism at all. So the best explanation, for me, to explain why these Christologies.

        I hope that cleared things up on what I meant. Jesus, in my opinion, claimed divinity, and because of this, within the span of forty years (a relatively short time frame as far as religious development is concerned, from the studies I’ve read) a diverse set of Christologies had developed.

        So the when to when is 30-50 AD for the development of Pauline Christology, and 30-70 AD for Mark, and for me the “what” it stems from is going to be Jesus’ claims of divinity, which would then account for the wild interpretations his followers later took. Especially with the concept of Messianism in conjunction with his divinity claims.

        • db
          2019-05-30 21:33:35 GMT+0000 - 21:33 | Permalink

          I don’t really buy into any, thus so far proposed, pre-existent angel Jesus in Judaism at all.

          • If a visionary enthronement occurred, then why not also visionary interactions with a Jewish second-god?

          Sanders, S. L. (2006) [now formated and bolded]. “Performative Exegesis”. In De Conick, April D. (ed.). Paradise Now: Essays on Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism. Society of Biblical Lit. p. 58, n. 2. ISBN 978-1-58983-257-2.

          [The Qumran Self-Glorification Hymn claims of its speaker to be exalted above the angels and to have taken a throne in heaven] represent a broad-based religious phenomenon during the Hellenistic period. [^2]

          [note:2] A perceptive discussion of the phenomenon is found in the works of Christopher Morray-Jones. See his “Transformational Mysticism in the Apocalyptic-Merkabah Tradition,” JJS 43 (1992): 1–3 and “The Temple Within: The Embodied Divine Image and Its Worship in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Early Jewish and Christian Sources,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1998 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 37; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998), 400–431.

          Despite the avenue toward a broader cultural context this opens up, scholars have continued to search for the original author of the text. Various competing attempts to discover the true historical identity of the speaker are catalogued in the notes to Eshel’s edition of the hymn; the most recent is Israel Knohl’s The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls (trans. D. Maisel; Berkeley and Los angeles: University of California Press, 2000).

          More solid ground has been gained in the more concrete areas of literary form, producing catalogs of the types and levels of visionary enthronement in apocalyptic and mystical texts. These leave us with useful lists of features but still little agreement on how to actually understand a text such as the hymn and precisely how to interpret its extraordinary claims.

          • db
            2019-06-01 16:46:33 GMT+0000 - 16:46 | Permalink

            Boyarin, Daniel (2013). “Enoch, Ezra, and the Jewishness of “High Christology””. Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch: 337–361. doi:10.1163/9789004258815_018.

            The proposal being advanced in this paper is that at least since Daniel and almost surely earlier, there had been a tradition within Israel that saw God as doubled in the form of an old man and a younger human-like figure, sharing the divine throne (or sharing, rather, two equal thrones).

            • John Pauley
              2019-06-01 21:23:44 GMT+0000 - 21:23 | Permalink

              I personally just bypass the whole debate on 1) the Jewish origins of the idea. By simply seeing it as a common Roman idea.
              Which clearly superceded strict Judaism
              for more and more people, from 64 CE – 70ACE. From the soft Roman takeover of Jerusalem, to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, and the Roman takeover of Israel.

        • MrHorse
          2019-05-30 22:17:54 GMT+0000 - 22:17 | Permalink

          Who has proposed a ‘pre-existent angel Jesus’ in Judaism?

          [Carrier’s proposals about Philo’s On the Confusion of Tongues are, as far as I can tell, only about Philo (and even then Carrier misstates or overreaches)]

  • 2019-05-30 06:26:56 GMT+0000 - 06:26 | Permalink

    Mr. db,, I don’t have a clue who you are or where you are coming from. so thought I would say a few things…

    Yes… Gregory Dix…a great scholar in many respects…quite a scholar in patristics and ritual ..

    but here is something “weird” or strange re Joseph as Jesus’ father…. in Luke 1:23!!!!!!

    Jesus began his early ministry at 30 as a “supposed” son of Joseph….the son of Eli….

    What!! ??? Luke the historian says “supposedly” …interesting….

    Eli.. or Helios is raised…in the geneology..

    Or Heli or Helios…. I just noticed the connection between Jesus calling out for his “father” Eli or Helios.. or Elijah or whatever… I am making no essential connection… just echoes of voices and texts…

    This is all so weird…. the connections are so “suggestive of earlier texts…. and even though I like so-called historical connections,, I think these connections are mainly internal in terms of literary dependence and expansion and embellishment…

    to say no to this is sheer historical conjecture,, though I like tying certain historical “details” to these texts myself…but we cannot always be exactly sure…

    I simply confess agnosticism as far as exactly what these secular texts are saying in connection with these cultic religious texts. It is difficult to nail down any one to one correspondence between a text and its alleged historical referent in such a simple manner.

    And as the gospels evolve we see more accretions both theologically and historically…What a mess… yes, The God of Jesus is a clear, historical, scientific, etc. etc. communicator of historical facts, and theological facts, etc. etc. Really now??? Come on folks…You have got to be kidding….

    How sad!! And more sad than this is that nothing gets followed up as far as serious criticisms with respect to highly questionable claims…

    The resurrection this ,,,the resurrection that….and so on….

    Look! Idou!!!!! (greek for behold or take a gander at this or gaze upon this or “Take note!)

    Not one piece of empirical historical or scientific evidence and rationality has been brought forth for the reality that some man in some past history…celestial or terrestial died for us all… and all our sins…. except in a story that didn’t pan out in the ancient or modern world in any distinct way in human history to bring any lasting change,, if the resurrection was true….it hasn’t made a difference in the world, except in certain minds geared to apocalypticism… Resurrection is an apocalyptic event which signalled the end of the world….in Jesus’ day.

    So what??? nothing has changed since his resurrection and it is only getting worse…more death everyday,, more crying,,, more tears,,, more sorrow… the resurrection was supposed to bring about an end to these things according to all these dogmas…Not so… Failed prophecies affected me deeply and still do… My own responses seem to be a prayer sometimes in my old pastoral mode to be a protest to tell him to get off his literary ass and do something about all this horrible shit in the world!!!

    When I gave up my early “Apoca-holic” state of mind and use to speak with “apoca-lips”,, I was set free first and foremost.. from Fear… fear of the supernatural, fear of this and that… Wait till God gets you for what you said and did..and so and so…

    Paul felt he had freedom from superstitions as well.. Gal. and Colossians, etc.

    But he himself was still a slave to slavish Jewish apocalypticisms…of many kinds and created many more for Judaism that are now stuck with us through the constantly changing hermeneutics of what someone means by “according to the scriptures”..

    We will not go anywhere if we accept these texts as in any way authoritative at all levels of thought and life…..

    Say NO! to any inerrancy doctrine or infallibility doctrine and you will see these scriptures in a way never known before….and you will find freedom from fear…. it takes a lot of work and supportive people to help you through this…

    Inerrancy and Infallibility assumptions block, hinder, cut off a person from the implications of seeing all of these texts as human processes and products,, which we accidently discovered from the ancient world and we cannot prove any god’s inspiration and providence from these texts alone.

    Let’s just study them and make the most out of what they might have to say as documents from an alien world… in many ways.

    So we found them…. Let’s not ignore or destroy what they these ancient texts may have to “say” to our time… a very difficult task which many have twisted in terms of their own interests… All of these texts…every single one is highly religious,polemical, ritual, and other aspects.

    No one needs to believe in the characters or teachings of these texts from the ancient world.
    Let us learn and enjoy them and see what they do have to say to us… but many preachers have misrepresented these texts as they claim to speak for God and Jesus and the Spirit.

    We know better today!

    Here is one of my favorite lines from Meister Eckhart…

    I studied him extensively in my own studies on the history of spirituality….

    He said “In order to find god one must give up god”. These texts do point towards various transcendental ideas and ideals.. but we must not and do not accept all texts equally and all christians I have met give not much attention to what is found in other texts accepted by certain groups of a cultic nature… All cults accept certain scriptures and accept others as authoritative.. with both good and postive results…

    I take the mysticism of John’s gospel in a similar way…according to Eckhart…

    No one knows god except the son and no one knows the son except the Father.

    What an indictment on people’s claimed knowing of God.!!!!! Even those who believed in him were told that there origins or geneology is rooted in the sperm of the devil!! Your father is not who you think he is!! Wow!! Imagine hearing that in the physical realm! Huh!! See John 8!!

    I love this!!! Jesus, the supreme “gnostic” …even “a”-gnostic”. Only he knows the father. What a hubristic thing to say! Don’t you think. I think most Christians today are gnostics at the core but have to fight against their own gnosticism tooth and nail.. They are fearful gnostics.. who claim to know God but they really don’t…

    When people tell me they know god…I just sigh.. or get interested and ask them how they know God… and not one yet has given me a compelling answer which can be verified in any proof or their own life in some significant way…

    If it does come forth it is usually anecdotal at the best.. I don’t mind pragmatic anecdotal “evidence’ but neither had any real part in deciding scientific and historical data. I don’t deny you have had many super-spiritual or super-supernatural experiences. j

    Not to sound nasty or arrogant,, … but i have probably forgotten more “spirit” related experiences than many have claimed to have.. and though impressive,they have never gotten me to the real source… I have explanatory powers to yield natural or at least suspended views without coming down on any particular side regarding the meaning of the texts and the experiences these texts engender…

    I must say.. these texts do have power, but why… I think there is something about language that is so free, even transcendently to dismiss another transcendent text…. Language is promiscuous (sorry for the Derridian comment). and thanks to the memory of Susan Sontag….in her very real hermeneutical and brilliant mind… “Against Interpretation…whether you agree with her or not you will benefit.

    Just some thoughts and observations…

    thank you for bearing with me in such difficult things to express…

    • 2019-05-31 07:28:45 GMT+0000 - 07:28 | Permalink

      Just a caveat DB… to my last response…

      sometimes when I use “you” I am not necessarily addressing you directly.. as seems so in some of my responses…

      It may look like that… but I am speaking in context of the issues that your own entries suggest to all of us here… sometimes a plural “we” or “you”… we are making contributions to a discussion or issue raised or defended….by many here….

      🥺 for patience with certain styles of my responses…

      I am new at this blogging stuff…I am trying out my own wings, flying around the Internet…to see ,, not what I can “troll” but to learn ….and I feel most comfortable here…amid so many diverse minds and skills, and so much more….

      One day I came across this site and learned very quickly that it is a not merely some fringe or minor resource for Biblical and Historical Studies. (how sad are the criticisms that would misrepresent its spirit, values, etc. and its interested bloggers…)The site is more than that . It can’t be summed up in some “cutesy tutesy” saying…

      For my part I am just glad to participate …

      Cheers

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  • 2019-05-30 07:10:45 GMT+0000 - 07:10 | Permalink

    Chris Hansen, fellow blogger

    Have you thought about the issue of attribution of “godship” to humans on the part of the scribes who used very theologically loaded terms to talk about certain human characters in the story that they either wanted to lift up or put down.. why for polemic, political and other reasons….

    … you are correct…Moses is perceived as (a)”god” –a stand-in on the human level for god…. I think all of these characters are “channeling” some sort of inspiration that they thought was happening through them or others believed was happening through them….

    They were perceived to be standing in for “god” or what they thought was god.. Nothing can be verified here at the ontological level…

    Moses was “God’s mouth”” ,,,like all God’s prophetic men…

    It is an issue of phenomenology, not ontology… and scribes used metaphorical and phenomenological language to represent their inspirations, ideations, idealizations, inspirations, illuminations, intuitions…etc.

    God never shows up in “person” as he really is , except through some “skin” of flesh…. angels in the flesh, etc. and remember John’s gospel… a god or God became flesh….

    No way to prove the ontology of such…..

    Even when an “angel” shows up…it is still considered as “god” showing up…

    People are receiving phenomena that could have many explanations, not necessarily ontologies!

    btw have you read Ehrman’s book about Jesus alleged claims to be god? I read it the year it came out but have not gone back to it since….It is helpful…so and so here and there. Even if you don’t agree with it, it is still the best book on the market to introduce you the issues and then some…Are you aware that Ehrman believes that Jesus was both historical and an angel.. based on texts within the same book..Galatians.! Jesus is both human and an angel!! That is exactly what he believes about Jesus….. So Ehrman would not go along with a lot of human designations, except to avoid a lot of contradictions in his own way of articulating what he thinks was a human Christ… On the basis of Galatian alone Paul attributes both “historical flesh” credence to Jesus as well as “divinity” . How can both be true historically for the historian Ehrman? Sounds strange to me as a “historian” myself….

    We have still not proved any god showing up in human history as he really is… We wish.. but we see “transcendence” (I don’t mean a personal god necessarily) in many kinds of human beings who do “more” than supposed… or imagined…

    that is why I like watching AGT! and The Voice… just a side-light re: songs and talents outside of the world I have known… I am always lifted up by talent beyond the normal… but it doesn’t prove any particular divine being is at work…

    It says to me quite often.. gee, there is something wonderfully divine about the human.. but the next day I see the degradation of humanity… and I say.. something is wrong with this picture despite all the god-talk we engage in.

    Take care my fellow explorer…

    • Christopher Hansen
      2019-05-30 07:30:06 GMT+0000 - 07:30 | Permalink

      Yes I have read Ehrman’s work (I’ve read the vast majority of his work, in fact). Also Ehrman is of the opinion that Paul viewed Jesus as a pre-existent angel who became human and was then exalted into divinity after death (see: How Jesus Became God, or any of his numerous debates on the subject). Ehrman does not believe that Jesus was “literally” an angel. He thinks he was an apocalyptic preacher (and wrote a whole monograph with Oxford University Press on that). The development of him as a pre-existent angel he attributes to Paul’s developing Christology.

      I am a non-believer and do not think any god, at any point, ever showed up in human history that we can tell. If there is a time when a god showed up, I’d like to see the evidence of it.

      But I disagree on what Jesus said. I think that he did claim divinity, which is why he claims of his divinity were instantaneous by his followers afterwards, and also explains why the Christologies varied and how easy it was for the church to later manipulate these concepts. As such, he can be considered a divine human, or a human with claimed divinity for classification purposes, akin to Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar (hence why my position has been that the best way to understand the historical Jesus is through the lens of the Emperor Cults of the Caesars).

      • MrHorse
        2019-05-30 07:43:52 GMT+0000 - 07:43 | Permalink

        re

        “Ehrman is of the opinion that Paul viewed Jesus as a pre-existent angel who became human …”

        It would seem highly significant that Paul viewed Jesus as a pre-existent angel who became human considering Paul supposedly met Jesus’ disciples, the Pillars (one of whom is said to be Jesus’ sibling) …

      • 2019-05-30 08:52:31 GMT+0000 - 08:52 | Permalink

        Are you the Chris Hansen who recently spoke with Dr. R. M Price.? If so, I think you are a very intelligent and thoughtful, and good-spirited young man.

        How honored I am to meet such a wonderful young “scholar” in birth. Plus , I kinda like the way you wear your hair….if you are the dude I understand from videos and rumors and info. Cool! You are an example of those who should visit sites other than trolling them.

        Sometime I will respond to the deity claim…. I think there is not much , just as Ehrmann showed but I have my own ideas on this….. I have been reading the NT since I was 16 yrs old and now I am 64 years old,, I can’t believe what I am learning even now…. I am a former and now retired professor now, forced into something called “retirement” due to some disability, but I don’t accept “retirement”. This stuff is just so damn interesting and “life-giving” — not only the texts but the “mythoi” simply the word “stories”, in many ways that it would be hard or death-dealing to simply give up on exploring or reading or being explored or read as one comes into these stories as a “novice” or initiate into the myths.

        I see you have the same “passion”.. suffering such a bent towards helping others who
        are quite in the dark about many things in history, etc.

        I sure hope I am not wrong that you are that Chris Hansen whom I have seen on Utube , I am going to feel so stupid if I am wrong.

        In any case,,, Chris Hansen.. out there somewhere …whom I thought I had seen on many podcasts.

        You have a wonderful future my young man…

        Marty Lewadny

        • Christopher Hansen
          2019-05-30 18:33:17 GMT+0000 - 18:33 | Permalink

          Yeah I’m the Chris Hansen from YouTube haha (Definitely not the one from Dateline NBC, though oddly enough we both come from Michigan and apply to some of the same universities too… odd right?)

          It is really nice to meet you!

          • 2019-05-31 06:17:29 GMT+0000 - 06:17 | Permalink

            Likewise….

            and to receive a push forward in those directions of great passion and learning you have shown to be active in your life as far as I can see. It is so encouraging to see hopeful signs… that a much fuller and evolved perspective will come forth on many of these issues that trouble many of us here…and abroad…

            I hope to meet you someday in the flesh Mr. Chris Hansen… and with a smile now, you know both of us don’t believe in a flesh existence after this flesh existence , (from what I know of your views at the minimum)..

            Unless,,, Unless, we get really surprised and then both of us realize we are on a journey of discovery with the utmost integrity about where we are, etc. and for goodness sake the ancient world..it is just there to discover… Get all the tools you can to access the primary resources…. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek (of different kinds so you can explore these ancient cultures with the right tools to even then transgress hermeneutical borders through language and the tools of critical thinking….. Lots of work, lots of money, lots of a lot of things, but in the end it takes a lot of guts…. and getting out there…

            Something from my own background in Pauline Scholarship … just to encourage you.. I like the Pastoral forgerer saying….. “Let no man look down on your youthfulness.”

            Perhaps I will try to reach you on your website, if you have one.

            Good Luck! Chris Hansen.

            Hermes Here! 🙂

  • DBlocker
    2019-05-30 17:52:50 GMT+0000 - 17:52 | Permalink

    “I am a little perplexed by Price’s leaning to the possibility that “the Romans” invented Christianity to somehow help pacify messianic Jews.”
    Price (and J. Atwill) have taken an under-informed approach to the subject. It was common Roman practice since at least the Republican era, if not earlier, to appropriate and Romanize the gods and cult practices of the peoples they annexed or conquered. There are example of this in Livy’s History of Rome and in other Latin texts. Google :evocatio deorum: for the one of the rites the Romans used to suborn and subjugate the titular god of a city that resisted assimilation.
    The foreign cults and gods that were Romanized tended to come first from the Italian peninsula then as Roman sphere of influence expanded, from the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Apparently the Romans found the Celtic cults indigestible, and the gods and practices of the Druids and their ilk were experienced condemnation of memory.

  • austendw
    2019-06-01 22:00:57 GMT+0000 - 22:00 | Permalink

    Neil. You say – “I can understand Judeans elites “inventing” a form of “Judaism” under the Persians since Thomas L. Thompson has pointed out that such religious innovations were a practice in those time to persuade people who had been resettled that they were there at a god’s bidding. ”

    Can you point me to where he said that and/or what are the other examples of this that we know of?

    • Steven C Watson
      2019-06-03 01:43:46 GMT+0000 - 01:43 | Permalink

      I can’t say exactly, I can’t bring it to hand at the moment, but Neil is probably referring to The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past. The argument is certainly made in that work.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2019-06-03 03:34:43 GMT+0000 - 03:34 | Permalink

        I’m behind in catching up with comments. I’ll respond to this one before too much longer.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-06-03 08:35:58 GMT+0000 - 08:35 | Permalink

      Steven is probably right, though the same book also carries the (British publication?) title The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel. (Was “Mythic Past” deemed too offensive for the American market?) I am not able to locate the exact reference now, at least not quickly. But I do have an earlier post citing Early History of the Israelite Peoplehttps://vridar.org/2009/11/15/origins-of-the-israel-of-the-bibles-narrative-1/ — note the comparison with other returnees to a Mesopotamian city state site on the pretext that they were “returning” to rebuild the temple of that area’s god.

      • Austendw
        2019-06-06 13:17:45 GMT+0000 - 13:17 | Permalink

        Thanks Neil and Steven. I supposed that you were probably referring to “Mythic Past / The Bible in History” but wondered if Thomas Thompson had written anything else to expand on what he wrote in that book. I read it years ago and found it utterly frustrating, insofar as it didn’t have any footnotes or specific references. When Thompson talks of the “transportation of gods and populations under the title of ‘restoration'” and comments that this “deportation policy was perfected by the Persians” we are given neither concrete examples of this practice nor any references in scholarly literature.

        In your earlier post (for which, thanks for the link) you quote Davies, and while he grudgingly acknowledges the slim possibility that the traditional scenario may be true, he similarly proposes that “the Persians may well have tried… to persuade these transportees that they were being resettled in their ‘homeland’”. But again, to support this he adds only that “examples of this ploy in the imperial history of humankind could be cited” without offering any concrete examples from any period, let alone the period in question.

        That’s why in my post above I wondered whether Thompson (or Davies or anyone else for that matter) has provided specific examples of Persian deportations passed off as repatriations, which is the real crux of the matter.

        (PS: Apologies for the delay in replying. Though I religiously tick the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” this function stopped working for me a long time ago, and I have to revisit the original post to check if there have been follow-ups.)

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-06-07 05:07:11 GMT+0000 - 05:07 | Permalink

          I sympathize with your frustration over Thompson’s Mythic Past/Bible in History. It should be illegal to publish books without indexes and clear citations of sources. And Thompson should not be allowed to write anything without due consideration for those who are not on his intellectual level!

          As far as I am aware the only clear examples we have of mass transportations under the pretext of restoring original inhabitants to their land to restore the original gods are from the Babylonian period as per that earlier post. My understanding is that the biblical narrative reflects the same practice from the perspective of the transportees/propagandists themselves.

    • db
      2019-06-06 15:31:29 GMT+0000 - 15:31 | Permalink

      • Just to note how speculative the entire endeavor is:

      Oded Lipschits [NOW BOLDED AND FORMATTED]. Judah, Jerusalem and the Temple 586-539 B.C. [PDF]

      In terms of historical reconstruction, most researchers have conjectured that soon after its destruction by the Babylonians the site of the temple became a focal point for pilgrimage, with many coming to pray, to recite laments, and to bring offerings to God.

      [See, for example, Welch, op. cit. (n. 34), p. 68; Janssen, op. cit. (n. 30), pp. 46-56, 101-102; Noth, op. cit. (n. 33), p. 264. Exceptional in this context was Hyatt, op. cit (n. 35), p. 1088, who claimed that “…by this time the temple in Jerusalem had been sufficiently restored so that some offerings could be made there”. On this subject see the comments of Ackroyd op. cit. (n. 34), pp. 17-18, and see also the fine remarks of G.W. Ahlström, Joel and the Temple Cult of Jerusalem, Leiden 1971, pp. 114-115.]

      […]
      Considering the assumption that the temple in Jerusalem was not restored in the period of Babylonian rule, and that limited ritual activity continued at its ruined site, we may understand the great innovation and the legal importance attributed by the Returners to Zion to the decree of Cyrus.

    • db
      2019-06-10 06:28:12 GMT+0000 - 06:28 | Permalink

      Carter, Charles E. (1999). The Emergence of Yehud in the Persian Period: A Social and Demographic Study (PDF). A&C Black. ISBN 9781841270128.

      One can view the theological concerns in Ezra-Nehemiah as a means of promoting Persian imperial policy, as K. Hoglund does. In this view, Ezra and Nehemiah hoped to prod the members of the Yehudite community to retain rights to their ancestral properties and so to ensure the survival of the province. (Achaemenid Imperial Policy, pp. 207–40.) —(p. 316)

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