The Beginning of Christianity

Discuss either theological doctrines, ideas about God, or Biblical criticism. I don't want any debates about creation vs evolution.

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The Beginning of Christianity

Postby The Pixie on Thu May 04, 2017 5:16 am

I offer this as a plausible possibility. The events happened a long time ago, and there is no way we can prove anything, but we can look at what could have happened, and this looks as likely as anything, given the evidence we have available. I invite you guys to say why you think it is not plausible.


Jesus

Around 30 AD, a man called Jesus started to preach around Jerusalem. He was originally a follower of John the Baptist, but after John was arrested, he started preaching on his own about the coming apocalypse, which he expected within years or decades. He gained quite a following amongst the Jews, and became hailed as the long-awaited messiah, i.e., the King of the Jews who would overthrow the Romans. Whether Jesus claimed that is uncertain, but either way, the Roman's could not allow someone who was thought to be the King of the Jews to live, as Jerusalem was restless to say the least, and liable to break into rebellion at any time. Jesus was arrested for treason against Rome, and Jesus' followers fled Jerusalem (Mark 14:27) and ultimately returned to their former lives (John 21:3). Jesus was subsequently crucified, and his body cast into a pit for other victims of the cross.

Some time later, whilst fishing, Peter saw something, a bright light, that he believed was Jesus. It was a miracle! Jesus had been resurrected in a new heavenly body! Later, others of the disciples saw the same bright light, and perhaps heard a voice too. The message was clear; Jesus had overcome death! They had a duty to tell all their fellow Jews the good news.


Paul

Years later, a Pharisee called Paul saw a bright light, possibly due to an epileptic fit, and he took it to be Jesus. This caused him to become a Christian, and he talked to people who had actually talked to Jesus in the flesh. Paul established (or helped to establish) Christianity in the Roman world, and he gave it his own spin, in part to make it attractive to gentiles, in part because he knew no better perhaps, given he never heard Jesus preach. Like Jesus, Paul believed the apocalyse was imminent, but his preachings focused on the expected resurrection.

Paul's letter do not say much about Jesus because Paul never met him, but also because he was writing for different reasons. They do reflect Paul's theology, though, most clearly in 1 Corinthians 15. The chapter starts with the earliest accord of the resurrection story that we have, brief though it is.

1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Paul makes no mention of an empty tomb for simple reason he had never heard of; it had not been invented at this point. Jesus died and was buried, and later rose. Paul saw Jesus as a bright light, and there is nothing here to suggest Paul thought anyone else had seen Jesus in another form. Indeed, Paul goes on to say how the resurrected get a new body - a physical body, but not flesh-and-bone.

Paul saw Jesus as the prototype for the resurrection that he expected all to receive, and to receive soon. Paul called Jesus Lord, but not God. This would fit with Jesus being the King of the Jews, the adopted son of God, but is hard to explain if Jesus is part of the trinity. In fact we can see that Paul believed that Jesus was adopted as the son of God when Jesus was resurrected, as this verse makes clear:

Romans 1:2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

All this fits with Paul as a Pharisee, who awaited the Messiah, a leader who would usher in a new age, and bring about the resurrection for all. Where Paul differed from the other Pharaisees was that he thought Jesus was the messiah and that the message was for all, not just the Jews. This was not a complete reversal in his beliefs, but a modification.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article ... -the-dead/


Passion Narrative

The passion narrative was a text that described the last few days of Jesus from his entry to Jerusalem, up to and possibly including the Empty Tomb. It was one of numerous texts used by the very early church that are now lost. Although today the gospels are "carved in stone" this was very much not the case back then, and the texts were subject to frequent modification. The Passion Narrative was a text that developed over time, and much of it was devised from scripture rather than history.

When Jesus was arrested, the disciples fled:

Mark 14:27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’[d]
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”


There were no witnesses to the trial or crucifixion, and so early Christians were obliged to guess what had happened. They did so on the basis of Roman procedures and scripture.

At some point in the development of the Passion Narrative the empty tomb was added. Why had no one heard about the empty tomb before? The only people to see it were two women who were too afraid to tell anyone, it explained. It did not include the guards on the tomb.

The Passion Narrative was used as the basis for Mark, John and the non-canonical Gospel of Peter (but Peter was heavily edited later, in the second century, and what we have today is this much later version).


Mark

It is not clear who wrote the Gospel of Mark, but let us suppose it was indeed the apostle. It is also unclear if Mark was written before or after the Jewish Revolt, but it seems to be more or less contemporary with it. The destruction of the temple is predicted, this could be guesswork or it could have been written after the end (or it could even have been a real prophesy).

The gospel reflects the beliefs of the time. Jesus was the messiah, the awaited King of the Jews. He was the adopted son of God, but while Paul believed Jesus was adopted at the resurrection, by now that had been pushed back; Mark recounts his adoption at his baptism.

A large part of the gospel is the passion narrative, but it is modified to suit the text (for example, the timing of the last supper and crucifixion, which is at odds with John).

It is likely that what we have today is a slightly revised version to the one Matthew used; the material in Mark that is absent from Matthew were later additions. The very last few verses were added even later.

Mark was more of a compiler than an author. He collected all the available texts, and put them together to make a single document. Just as today Christians attempt to harmonise the gospel accounts, so Mark tried to harmonise the various texts he had.


Matthew

The author of the Gospel of Matthew was not the apostle of that name, though it may have drawn in part on the early work in Hebrew. The author probably saw himself a a redactor rather than an author - he was not writing a new gospel, but updating the existing one, and so naturally he kept everything from Mark in his version, with some tidying up and a load of additions.

By this time, the adoptionism of Mark had more-or-less fallen away, and now Jesus was considered to be holy. Matthew (and Luke) gives Jesus a virgin birth (very much a Roman concept, rather than jewish); the Jesus of this gospel was the son of God right from birth.

Matthew's account of the resurrection takes Jesus' crucifixion as the start of a new era, the apocalypse, hence the earthquake and dead saints walking around get added to it, following this OT passage:

Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”


Bear in mind that the passion account was already derived from scripture, rather than historical memory, and if scripture indicated dead saints walking around, it would have been perfectly reasonable to include them.

The rending of the temple veil is symbolic of the old temple being abolished to make way for the new one. The addition of the guards was to counter claims that the disciples had stolen the body, and this was used and expanded by a later redactor of the Gospel of Peter, who also added the cross floating and talking to the story.

Note that these were probably not just made up by the author, but were stories that were already circulating in the community at the time. As with Mark, the author was compiling the various text and oral traditions he had access to.


Luke and Acts

The Gospel of Luke was written some time after Matthew, but I think it unlikely the author knew of Matthew. They draw on some similar sources, most notably Mark, but others too. It is generally agreed that Acts was written by the same author; two volumes of the same work.

The evidence suggests this was written by a companion of Paul; there is not a huge amount of evidence to show it was the apostle Luke, but it could well have been.

Like the author of Matthew, Luke adds many new embellishments - or rather draws on material that includes them. The virgin birth was presumably quite early (but later than Mark), but got developed quite differently in the two communities. Luke also includes various sighting of Jesus around Jerusalem, and the ascension, neither appear in earlier works. The theology is broadly similar to Matthew, though it is more Hellenic in slant.

While Matthew had to deal with claims that the disciples stole the body, Luke had to deal with claims that Jesus was just a ghost, and so read about Jesus eating fish. Luke has a lot about John the Baptist's birth, but is very clear that he was merely making the way for Jesus, and Luke has John locked up before jesus is baptised.


John

The Gospel of John follows quite a different theology. It is more advanced, as we would expect from a later work, and supposes that Jesus was always the son of God (and so has no need of the nativity stories in Matthew and Luke). Very doubtful this was written by John, especially given its dating to around 100 AD, but perhaps from a community originally founded by John, so based on his teachings. It is generally thought to have been edited a number of times.

It draws on the passion narrative, and presumably numerous other texts now lost. The final chapter of John is clearly a later addition, but appears to recount the original sighting of Jesus of Lake Galilee by Peter (Mark only says it was in Galilee, but the Gospel of Peter indicates it was on a boat); it seems likely this addition was required when a new text came to light, and a late redactor had to insert it into the existing text.


Later still

Around the middle of the second century, Marcion proposed that the God of the OT was inferior to the God of Jesus. He rejected the OT altogether and proposed a new scripture based on Paul's letters and a modified Gospel of Luke. The church rejected his ideas and ex-communicated Marcion, but from that point the gospels were regarded as gospels as we understand the word today, and it would only be from then that they became relatively stable.

Although "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" started to appear as a thing in the second century, it was not until the third century that the trinity was established, with all three being of one substance.
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Re: The Beginning of Christianity

Postby Metacrock on Sat May 06, 2017 11:31 am

Marcion believed in Jesus so he believed in Jesus' God. why should I believe he knew what he was talkimng about? He is too late to reprint an authentic early tradition.

Your argumemt assumes that theology evolves,I don't see that as a bad assumption. That's why I am a lioberal and not a fundie, but truth is not changing, we are discovering more of it.
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Re: The Beginning of Christianity

Postby The Pixie on Sat May 06, 2017 3:03 pm

Metacrock wrote:Marcion believed in Jesus so he believed in Jesus' God. why should I believe he knew what he was talkimng about? He is too late to reprint an authentic early tradition.

If that is the biggest issue you have, I am doing well.
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Re: The Beginning of Christianity

Postby Metacrock on Mon May 08, 2017 5:59 am

The Pixie wrote:
Metacrock wrote:Marcion believed in Jesus so he believed in Jesus' God. why should I believe he knew what he was talkimng about? He is too late to reprint an authentic early tradition.

If that is the biggest issue you have, I am doing well.


there are a lot good thinks about your senerio, I have too much going now too many discussions brewing,
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