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Featured Resurrection of Christ - What's the evidence for and against a literal resurrection

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by adrian009, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    In those days there was really not much in the way of accurate historical portrayal of individuals one sought to support. Biographies of high raking figures were full of hyperbole. Those of Emperors usually had supernatural references, especially after their death. The stories told were expected to be believed as told, especially regarding Emperors since Roman authority was involved. The idea of false testimony did not enter the picture. The modern concepts of accurate factual biography did not exist then. Regarding important individuals, history was what served the purpose.

    Mark saw a need to more fully represent Jesus in order to deal with the passage of time and the non-return of Jesus. Mark took old traditions, themes introduced by Paul and scriptural references (a practice started by Paul) and wove them into a story that brought the figure of Jesus to life. This allowed having Jesus voice prophecies that dealt with the time delay problem. Mark expected his story to be believed as told. What mattered is that it served the purpose.


    Philo was trying to reconcile Middle Platonic concepts with Jewish scriptures. Since the one involved a deity utterly divorced from the world and the other a deity intimately involved with the world, this was not an easy job. Philo dismissed all personal appearances of God in man-like form (a surprising number of them) as merely allegorical. He associated the various ‘angel of the Lord’ appearances, which BTW includes the burning bush of Exodus, with what the Platonists would call the Demiurge, an agent of the pure remote God that was involved with the impure material world. But being Jewish and therefore a monotheist, Philo had to come up with a scheme whereby this Son of God or Logos as he called the quasi-Demiurge could be both independent of God but not a separate deity. Philo himself does not appear to have been very clear about just how this worked.

    Paul wanted to make Jesus more than just another upstart who got crucified for his troubles. The death of Jesus, instead of being a disaster if he was supposed to be the Messiah, could be turned into a victory if the status of Jesus was raised enough to have his death take on supernatural overtones. A universal sin atonement sacrifice (sort of) could be justified if Jesus were the actual Son of God. Not just a messianic title but the real thing – an eternally existent divine figure - Philo’s Son of God!

    For this to work, Paul could not settle for allegory. Either Jesus was the for real Son of God who really died as a sacrifice and really was raised from the dead as a guarantee of a future general resurrection, or Pauline theology does not work. Philo using allegory (and what else could he do in those circumstances) is not relevant to what Paul was saying.

    The question is whether Jesus – a real historical Jesus - thought of himself as the Messiah or as Elijah returned “turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents;” to “remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him”. (Malachi 4). That sounds like what Jesus was doing.

    My own perspective on the “on this rock” passage is that Matthew is saying that Christianity is essentially Jewish and that Peter the Jewish Christian (follower of Christ) is the true representation of the church and not Paul the anti-Jewish ‘Christian’. Matthew has Jesus say “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law”. (Matthew 5:18)


    And my argument is that the Gospels were crafted, each for a specific separate purpose. Some material in Mark may be authentic and some of this was copied into other Gospels. But mstly it is purposeful stories.


    In the 1st century, the popular idea of a Messiah was someone who was going to throw out the Romans. The minutiae of requirements that scholars compiled were simply not in the common imagination. Anyone who represented significant change with at least some scriptural or tradition backing might be called a messiah by some, whether he wanted it or not. The original idea of Jesus, and presumably an actual historical Jesus, was entirely Jewish. Paul’s ‘visions’, in which Jesus supposedly told him things that Jesus never got around to telling the Apostles, changed all that. If one looks at the actual requirements for a Messiah in the scriptures, Jesus does not fit, a is often pointed out by Jewish scholars. For one thing, this here and gone (killed!) but will return aspect is simply unsupportable by any prior canonical scripture. Paul took elements from non-canonical apocalyptic sources to help craft his new and improved Jesus. As well as Philo of course.


    I thought we have been agreeing to disagree all along, just presenting very different understandings. I never thought either of us was trying to convert the other. You are entitled to your take on things and to speak about them freely. I appreciate that despite you having a faith element backing up your understandings, you have not chosen to ‘attack’ me for ‘challenging’ that faith by giving my very different opinions.
     
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  2. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you on this. But do other Christians? They, like Baha'is, feel all the prophecies have been fulfilled regarding their prophet. But usually that means a lot of cherry picking and taking liberties with the interpretations.

    1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,​

    Do you know what Scriptures are being referred to here?

    And the Baha'i notion that Matthew, and any other writer in the NT that talks about the resurrection, concocted an allegory, I agree with you on that also. But they have to come up with allegories for all the things that go beyond what they see as "scientific" possibilities. On things like this, the raising of a dead man, they have said that what is meant that the person was "raised" to spiritual life from being "spiritually" dead. For me, if it's not literally true, then I feel it's a made up story to embellish the story of Jesus and makes him a miracle worker. For the Baha'is, this story too has to be purposely written as an allegory... but mixed in with the historical events of Jesus' life? This time, not by Matthew, but by Luke. Or, all these stories and others were floating around in the oral traditions about the life of Jesus. Which then, I don't see as allegory, but as legends and myths. Which then to me, would make the NT, not the Word of God, but the words of men.

    I've appreciated your point of view on everything you've said and would be interested in any comments you might have. Thanks.

    Luke 7:11-17 ESV
    Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. ...​
     
  3. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    That's exactly right. We are having an interfaith discussion. Its often helpful to talk to others with different worldviews. Its an opportunity to learn and understand why others hold beliefs different from our own. Its interesting to consider the pros and cons of althernative perspectives. Its a conversation that always needs to be held in a spirit of goodwill. I'm not interested in attacking individuals or their beliefs. Thanks for contributing to this thread. I don't see us being that dissimilar btw.

    It may be helpful for context to go back to the very beginning...Genesis. In the first two chapters we have the Abrahamic creation myth, revered to some extent by Jews, Christians, Mulsims, and Baha'is. Its not a story to be taken literally but we learn that there is a God who is the Creator of all and All-powerful. That God is concerned for His creation and has a plan. Mankind appears the pinnacle of His Creation and through His Great Prophets He makes an agreement or Eternal Covenant with the Hebrew poeple and ultimately humanity. God will guide and protect us and in return we will follow His Tachings and obey Hs commandments. To complicate matters we appear to be hard to teach and often reluctant to keep our end of the bargain. That was certainty the case for the Hebrew people and despite their civilisation reaching their peak in the days of King David, the Hebrew people and their Kings would violate the covenant. Eventually God withdrew His Grace and Protection. Eventually the Israelites became divided as a peoples and then became captives to various kingdoms like everyone else. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, The Persians, Greeks and eventually the Romans. God had sent His prophets to bring His chosen people back to the laws of Moses, but His peoples hearts were hardened and they did not listen. Eventually He sent His Son, Jesus, in the full knowlege that He would be rejected and put to death. However this sacrifice enabled the Gentiles to become the recipient of God's Grace and favour and for His Teachings to be spread throughout the whole world.

    Anyway, that's the Christian message as you know, and the Baha'is agree with it. The major difference of course is Baha'is see God always loved all humanity, He didn't just guide the Hebrew peoples but all the peoples of the world. His other great Teachers in addition to Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Christ have been Krishna, Buddha, and Muhammad. More recently in the nineteenth century He sent the Bab, and Baha'u'llah to bring an era of universal peace. We've made some progress but there are one or two stumbling blocks lol. :)

    I would be a little more circumspect about comparing the Jews who at the time of Christ had 1,500 years of the teachings of Moses and various prophets, compared to the Romans who were still rooted in polytheism and paganism. The Jewish people had learnt to take great care of their sacred scripture which included historical information (eg Chronicles). There may well have been hyperbole as you say, but I believe the gospels writers would have known the difference between what happened and hyperbole. All gospel writers were obviously well educated and knowledgeable about traditions of customs of Jews including the Tanakh as well as Greek culture. I do agree that we can not take ideas about modern biographies and apply them to the approach of the gospel writers nearly two thousand years ago.

    Philo appears to be an enormously important contemporary of the apostles through whom we can learn a great deal about Jewish and Greek thought at that time. Understanding Philo's use of the word Logos does assist our understanding of John, particularly John 1:1, John1:3, and John 1:14. Understanding Jesus as a mediator between God and man, makes much more sense than being God incarnate that has pre existed from the beginning of time that has no beginning, and part of a trinity. Turning Jesus into God incarnate is an excellent example of hyperbole though! No doubt Philo's ideas help us better understand the 'Son of God' concept as you say.

    John's emphasis on the nature of the reality of Christ has Him as more than the prophets of old who are bringing the people back to the Teachings of Moses. Paul is clear about that, and I believe Jesus identifying John the Baptist as Elijah (the spirit of Elijah that is, not the same person) and therefore Himself above Elijah and John the Baptist as well as the central character in what was prophecised by Malachi as the dreadful day of the Lord for the Jewish people.

    It seems clear that although Jesus taught to an exclusively Jewish audience, the Jews were eventually going to reject Him and the vineyard given over to the Gentiles. Prophecies in the OT such as Isaiah 28:16 made allusions to this and were quoted by Jesus and Paul.

    I agree.

    This brings us back to the Matthews description of the resurrection. The presence of the Roman guards is allegorical IMHO. The idea that the Messiah in the spirit of King David would deliver the Jewish people from the Romans proved to be like a large stone as barrier to belief (that the tomb was empty) and one of the greatest barriers for accepting the claims of Jesus. Of course the Jews soon would have their Messiah and their plight only worsened.

    Simon bar Kokhba - Wikipedia
     
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  4. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Probably Hosea

    It is an interesting question whether Paul referred to some element in an already existing Jesus lore that suggested the ‘third day’ business or whether he stuck this in because he knew of Hosea and wanted to use it. Inserting a lengthy quote at that point would have interrupted the flow of his argument. I could say quite a bit more about this but will refrain at this time due to laziness.


    To begin with, I see some parts of Mark as very credible pieces of early tradition and not at all legends and myth. One standout is the argument with the Pharisees over the hand washing ritual in Mark 7:1-13. What this amounts to, is Jesus arguing against the validity of the ‘man made’ Oral Torah and championing the written Torah. This subject would be utterly irrelevant to Christians when Mark wrote. But it fits well with the putative time and place of Jesus.

    I agree that the idea of the resurrection as allegory does not fit at all with the tone of the Gospels. Matthew and Luke especially go to great lengths to make the story very real, involving a real bodily resurrection from the dead. I see these stories as purposeful invention intended to be taken literally and not allegorical.

    There are several raisings from the dead performed by Jesus in the Gospels. I see these as intended to be foreshadowings of the resurrection of Jesus, putting the idea already ‘in the air’.
     
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  5. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    The hardships the Jewish people endured at the hands of foreigners over the centuries were depicted as judgments from God for failure to adhere to God’s commands. But that was not the case with the 400 years of slavery in Egypt. There is no indication of the Hebrews failing to obey God. The problem was that their birth rate was too high for the Egyptians to be comfortable with. According to Exodus 1, they were enslaved to keep them under control.

    I was referring to biography in particular, not history. The biography style of the era was to utilize hyperbole for important people. Mark wrote in Greek and would have been influenced to some extent at least by Roman sensibilities in this matter. It was common in school to be given assignments to write in the style of well-known authors.

    BTW Mark’s Greek is often criticized as rather poor. Yet there are passages where the Greek is excellent. It seems to be the case that passages exhibiting the poorer Greek have sentence structures much like Aramaic. Greek is quite flexible about sentence structure but if you talk like Yoda all the time people are going to look at you funny. In addition, these ‘bad Greek’ passages are those most likely inherited from early traditions, which he would likely have received in Aramaic. But that is going astray from the subject. :)


    I see Philo as the answer to the problematic John 1:1c but again will refrain at this time because it is an large subject in its own right. In short, John is expressing the same ambiguity as Philo did relative to whether the Son of God is a separate being or not. It is exactly this ambiguity that IMO led to the intellectual clashes over the centuries until Emperor Theodosius made one and only one answer a matter of Imperial Law.


    John leans much on Paul. The Logo (aka Son of God) passage being the first example. John is the first to say ‘the Jews’ as a broad classification. It is the Gospel writers who identified John the Baptist as the embodiment of Elijah, and therefore Jesus as the Messiah. I am not at all certain a real historical Jesus would have agreed.

    Much is made of the Jews ‘rejecting’ Jesus as the Messiah. In Mark and Matthew, Jesus tells the Apostles not to tell anyone he is the Messiah. In the Synoptic Gospels, what the Jews were rejecting was an upstart who wanted to throw out the Oral Torah, upset the apple cart at the Temple and generally got a lot of people stirred up about change. These were the reasons they plotted to kill him. At the Sanhedrin trial, not until all other attempts to impugn Jesus had failed was the subject of Jesus being the Messiah brought up. Jesus never made a big deal about being the Messiah in public. Why should it be claimed that he was rejected as the Messiah. This idea does not appear in rabbinic literature until after the early Christian literature was extant and is clearly a reaction to the Christian claim, not something that preceded that literature. It would be more accurate to say that Paul rejected the Jews and their Law, something Jesus never did.

    I do not see how an elaborate story about guards being assigned to prevent the body being stolen and being bribed to say it was stolen is anything other than Matthew’s attempt to counter what he saw as a defect in Mark’s story – the obvious skeptic’s conclusion that the body was stolen. Matthew even admits that exactly this story was being told, his motive for inventing the guard story. I do not see any allegory here. Matthew clearly meant his version to be taken literally or the suspicious empty tomb /grave robbery idea would win. This also implies that Matthew took mark’s account as literal.
     
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  6. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    What is your explanation for the differences in the four resurrection stories? Since if Matthew came up with the allegorical story, how did the other get such a similar story?
     
  7. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I agree that reference to Philo resolves the meaning of logos in John 1 that has been largely misunderstood and the Divinity claims exagerated. I think Philo is helpful in the analysis of scared texts as well. Some of his main works are allegorical and symbolic commentary on Genesis and Exodus. His works appear to have been of much more interest to Christians than Jews even though he didn't become a Christian. One of the criticisms from Jews of course is that he has made works that were intended to be taken literally into allegories. Its a little like the discussion we are having lol.

    I wonder what the author(s) of Genesis and Exodus had in mind? The story of creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah are clearly allegorical, yet we have a sizeable number of YECs in the USA claiming they are literal. We could consider whether the author was had allegory in mind or it was a fabrication of his own thought processes.

    The author has been traditionally attributed to Moses by conservative Christians though I understand they were probably first written down around the Babylonian exile.

    Do you agree that the gospel's authors all believed Jesus to be the Messiah?

    A Baha'i perspective will see it from the perspective of both Christians and Jews:

    Was Christ the Messiah? Christians and Jews Disagree

    It is true that Jesus obscured His Claims through the manner in which He taught. Perhaps His Mission would not have lasted 3 days let alone 3 years if he had been more explicit about His claims.

    Are the texts literal truth, fabrication as you say, or allegory? The perspective is very dependant on what Faith or world view we have. Conservative Christian's will all say literal, atheists and Muslims fabrication, and Baha'is allegory.

    Allegory is of course an ancient and well known appraoch to story telling and literature. Its probably there in the literature of any culture and most teenagers will learn about it at school these days.

    Allegory - Wikipedia

    I have no doubt that Matthew has fabricated a story as you say, but I think the rich imagey that easily speaks to central themes of the gospels makes it an allegorical fabrication. Perhaps its like the parables for those with eyes to see or ears to hear...or the sceptic can argue we see what we want to.

    Is it a coincidence that imagery concerning the temple that runs throughout the Bible is used by Matthew in regards the resurrection? Its all perspective, coloured by our preconceived ideas for certain.

    Bahá'í Reference Library - Some Answered Questions, Pages 103-105
     
    #1507 adrian009, Apr 3, 2018
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  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Matthew used Mark as a primary source. Luke used both Mark and Matthew. The author of John who wrote the last of the gospels (perhaps 90 - 110 AD) was either aware of the synoptic gospels and/or the oral traditions that inspired then and wrote a gospel to compliment what was already written.
     
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  9. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Philo was trying to retrofit the ideas of Middle Platonism into Jewish scripture. In addition to insisting that representations of God as appearing in more or less human form must not be taken literally, Philo introduced this Son of God / Logos thig that was and was not God. The latter was too reminiscent of polytheism. I imagine Philo’s ideas and language getting co-opted by Christians was the last straw.


    The early chapters are filled with references to older myths, including the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh. In some cases, most notably Genesis 1, the purpose was to take over the Babylonian creation myth (Enuma Elish) and rebuild it in a way that embodied Hebrew religious sensibilities. But that is a long tale in itself.



    One problem with Moses being the author of the Pentateuch is that it describes the death of Moses. Another problem is that Deuteronomy effectively retells Exodus but with important changes.

    The Gospel writers clearly thought off Jesus as the Messiah. This concept was fully established in Christianity by Paul before any Gospels were written. It would seem to be the case that this did not originate with Paul but was part of the Jesus story already. Paul refers frequently to ‘Jesus Christ’ (Christ means Messiah, the anointed one.) But Paul never explains it.

    I see the Gospels as fabrication (with the exception of whatever Mark inherited) that was intended to be taken as literal truth. Each Gospel was directed at a particular audience for particular purpose. That they did not agree on some major points would not have been viewed as a big problem. Each community has ‘its’ Gospel.

    To me, Matthew is quite free of allegory. Although quite versed in the (Septuagint) scriptures, a focus on literalness runs all through his Gospel, although sometimes this leads to some odd images, like the two-animal entry into Jerusalem. This seems plain to me right from the beginning where Matthew goes to great lengths to make Jesus literally a descendent of David, a requirement for a Messiah, and also a literal Son of God, that phrase being already well established in Paul and Mark.

    The Temple imagery was started by Mark. recall his purpose in writing a gospel at all: to justify faith in Jesus returning very soon despite the unexpectedly long passage of time. In the Olivet Discourse, he uses the destruction of the Temple as the first sign of this, effectively resetting the clock. Earlier he had introduced the image of the fig tree, tying it to the Temple and foreshadowing its ‘withering’, and referring again to the fig tree in that apocalyptic passage as blooming, a renewal of everything when the Son of Man returns. Mark has earlier connected the Temple and Jesus, with the Temple being destroyed and Jesus becoming a new Temple. As I have said elsewhere in other contexts, Mark is cleverer than he is often given credit for.
     
  10. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    But haven't you been saying that Matthew came up with the allegorical resurrection story? If not, then who did? And, from there, the gospel writers used it in their "historical" narratives? But still, if the writer knew it was allegory, why didn't it get taught as allegory? Like no one believes that the parables are literal, but when the gospel writers claim to be telling the truth about what Jesus said and did, then why wouldn't they have made it clear that they were talking about a spiritual, symbolic resurrection. Rather then saying things like Jesus being alive and people touching him, speaking with him and eating with him?

    So they were being deceitful if they knew it was allegorical and didn't make that known to the readers. Or, if the writers believed Jesus had risen from the dead, then it's the apostles, and other "eye witnesses", that were being deceitful, since they would have known that Jesus hadn't come back to life, but that the story was only symbolic. But, if the apostles really believed they had seen Jesus alive, then what? A vision so real that they touched him and found him to have flesh and bone? But that would mean that the story wasn't symbolic, just the apostles mistaking a vision for reality.
     
  11. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    There are two options for the origin of the gospel stories that I can think of. Maybe you can think of more.

    (1) It really happened and the gopsel writers are recording historic fact.
    (2) It didn't happen, and the gospel writers have created a myth.

    If it really happened, then the gospel writers are recording events they have witnessed first hand, or else they are recording a story that they have heard or that's been written by others. Perhaps it is second, third or even forth hand information they have written down.

    Same deal with a myth. They have either invented the myth, or passed down a myth they have heard or read from someone else. Perhaps they have added to the myth and embellieshed it.

    From what we know of the gospel writers it is unlikley they were first hand witnesses to the events they wrote of, even if a resurrection accompanied by an ascension were possible. So how would we account for the similarities in the stories? Exactly the same as if they were myth. That is they collaborated, used each others materials, and used similar resources.

    Do the authors and inventors of other religious myth preface their myths by saying this is a myth? No, they do not. Why should the gospel writers be any different.

    Do we call the creators of other religious myths liars and deceitful? No, we do not. Why should we do it with the gospel writers?

    The nature of myth is the weaving of reality with the mystery of the supernatural. The myth creates a sense of wonder and awe. It doesn't need to be literally true to have this effect.
     
  12. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    This theme that Jesus never intended to make any radical change to Mosaic law comes up frequently on RF. Then we have a more radical departure with verses in Hebrews were the Old Covenant is consider obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Maybe it was Paul that instigated the break away from Judaism, a break that Christ never intended? Matthew 5:18 is used to justify this position. However I think Christ is speaking in the indirect way that Christ often speaks (for example with being born again as in John 3:1-13), and that is the obligation to recognise and follow the Messiah when He comes. Further He is the Messiah and not to follow Him is to turn away from Moses Himself.

    The Mosaic law was 1,500 years old and had had its day. The rigidity around observing the Sabbath was well highlighted as well as the hypocrisy of those that would stone a woman of ill repute to death for her sins (John 8:7).

    The apostles were right to abrogate the Old Testament laws as the laws had outlived their usefulness. As Christ indicated the Sabbath is for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
    Further new wine can not be placed in old wineskins. The new wine was Christ Teachings and it could not be held with the old framework of Mosaic law (Mark 2:18 -22).

    In a similar manner, the Teachings of Christ that born out of a time where empires, male domination, and slavery are now the old wine. That's why its so hard to remain a conservative Christian for a thinking human being who is genuinely sensitive to the humanity of others.

    I agree the gospel writers clearly thought of Jesus as the Messiah and I just naturally assume He is. What gives you cause to think He may not be?

    I mostly agree.

    How about the reality of Satan, demons and hell? Literal truth or something else?

    Ironically Matthew has indicated Jesus isn't literally a descendant of David through the virgin birth story.

    Jesus becoming the new temple is extremely important imagery for the near future and a far offf tiime (Revelation 21:22-23). It is an example of the use of allegory being passed down from one gospel writer to the next. The old temple and the paradigm associated with it is about to be utterly destroyed and the new temple and accompanying paradigm established. The Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) becomes obsolete and decays as the new Covenant is established (Zechariah 14:1-9). Just to mediate on it all lifts my spirit and the language of poets is that is the spirit. The use of symbolism and allegory become almost irrepressible. Anyone who has tasted the new wine, recognises the truth in an instant.
     
    #1512 adrian009, Apr 5, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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  13. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
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    Matthew represented the Jewish side of Christianity, the ones who did not want to abandon the Law as Paul insisted. Matthew has Jesus say:

    First consider verse 17. There is much said about fulfilling the Law supposedly meaning abolishing the Law. Yet Jesus said he is not abolishing the Law. In fact, in v. 18 he emphasizes that the Law is not going away. So it must mean something else. The key to understanding this passage (which would have been clear to Matthew’s Jewish Christian community) is the inclusion of the word ‘Prophets’. What would it mean to not abolish but to fulfil the Prophets?

    The phrase ‘the Law and the Prophets’ refers to the Torah and the Nevi’im, the two sections of the Jewish scriptures recognized as canon by the Pharisees and by most Jews in general. The Sadducees recognized only the Torah. The K’tuvim (Writings) were well known in that era but not yet canonically compiled. But Matthew refers to the Law [or the Prophets. What does that mean?

    As we know from reading Paul, there were two main branches of Christianity. The Pauline branch claimed that Jewish Law was obsolete and was not to be followed by followers of Jesus. The other branch, the original branch, continued to adhere to the Law. Paul records several clashes with them. It is to this Jewish branch that Matthew and his community belonged. When Matthew has Jesus say that he is not abolishing the Law, Matthew is distinguishing his Jewish Christian community from the Pauline branch.

    Matthew wrote sometime after Mark who wrote sometime after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. That was a major catastrophe to Judaism. The Temple was the all-important center of Jewish religious life. Certain Pharisees who escaped from the siege of Jerusalem began the project of reconstructing Judaism in a post-Temple world. Today’s Judaism is the descendent of the resulting rabbinic model. Rabbinic Judaism looks forward to the coming of the Messiah and obviously did not agree that Jesus has been that Messiah. Rabbinic Judaism accepts the Oral Torah, which was recorded for the first time in the Mishnah. In Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus argued with the Pharisees about the Oral Torah, calling it ‘merely human rules’, which In this passage, Jesus champions following the written Law. Jesus argued with Pharisees a number of times about slavishly following rues without regard to their consequences. Following the Law as written but with a mind to its spirit and not just the letter would be to fulfill it.

    When Matthew has Jesus say he is not abolishing the Prophets, Mathew is distinguishing his community from rabbinic Judaism, which by rejecting Jesus as the Messiah was rejecting the Prophets and all of those prophecies that Matthew has Jesus fulfill.

    Now with that context established, let us look at verses 18-19:

    Despite the efforts made in trying to explain this away, its meaning is unavoidable. The Law will remain fully in effect ‘until heaven and earth disappear’. This is a reference to Isaiah 51:6. Isaiah 51 is about the restoration of Zion at the end of days, when the deserts will become like Eden and wastelands ‘like the garden of the Lord’ (v. 3), when justice will be brought to the nations (the oppressors of the Jews) and the ‘islands’ (the scattered Jews, see Isaiah 11:11) will have their hopes fulfilled. There is no doubt that this is about the messianic age that follows the end of day’, when there will be ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Isaiah 65:17, Revelation 21:1) All this is in the future. Heaven and earth did not disappear in the time of Jesus.

    Now verse 20:

    In Matthew, Jesus berates the Pharisees and teachers of the Law for hypocrisy numerous times. They follow the letter of the Law and of their ‘man-made’ law but without regard to the charitable spirit of the Law. Matthew 23 is an especially virulent critical passage. This happens to be the only part of the new Testament where the word Rabbi is used in a negative way. The Pharisees love to be called Rabbis (teachers). It is not hard to see a reference to the Pharisees who were developing rabbinic Judaism, which rejected Jesus as Messiah and rejected his teachings about the ‘evil’ Oral law. To enter the kingdom of Heaven one must not be like those hypocrites who perverted the ‘true’ meaning of Judaism and who rejected Jesus.


    The author of Hebrews 8 (who does not even claim to be Paul) tries to use a passage from Jeremiah 31 to justify the claim that the ‘new covenant’ means abandoning Jewish Law. If one reads the entirety of Jeremiah 31, it once again becomes plain that it is the messianic age being described, not anything that happened concerning Jesus. The passage about not needing to study the Law anymore because it will be put into everyone’s mind and heart resonates with Matthew saying that the Law will remain in effect until the end, when there is a new heaven and a new earth because then everyone will live according to the Law as a matter of course without needing to study it.


    Jesus is portrayed as indirect only in John. In all the other Gospels, he is very straightforward. John was not interested in telling the same story of Jesus that had already be told three times (except for the all-important passion and resurrection themes). John told a different story in a different way.


    Matthew makes it very clear with a virtual cornucopia of prophetic references that Jesus IS the Messiah. It is not an issue of when the Messiah will come. For Matthew, he already came.


    That is all I have time for. I will get back to the rest of your post when I can.
     
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  14. Rough Beast Sloucher

    Rough Beast Sloucher Well-Known Member
    It's My Birthday!

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    Jesus opposed obsession with rules that impaired the spirit of law with respect to the welfare of the individual. In this way he resembled Hillel. The obsession with the letter of the Law (including the Oral Law) regardless of consequences was a relatively new thing at the time, arising mainly from the influence of Shammai. As an example of the difference between the two mind sets, Hillel’s position was that a woman whose husband was believed dead based on indirect evidence was allowed to remarry, but Shammai’s position was that only sworn direct evidence was sufficient. A more mundane example; Shammai said that it was sin to say that a bride was beautiful if she was not. Hillel replied that all brides are beautiful on their wedding day. The school of Shammai dominated the Pharisee movement after the death of Hillel in 10 AD. Post-Temple rabbinic Judaism tended more toward Hillel.

    See Hillel and Shammai

    BTW it is a mistake to assume that Jesus was simply a follower of Hillel. Jesus rejected the Oral Law as ‘man-made rules’. Hillel supported the Oral law as did all Pharisees. In Mark, Jesus opposed divorce for any reason at all. Hillel allowed divorce for any reason at all. Of course, only the man could divorce. In that milieu, a divorced woman was pretty much screwed, a good reason for Jesus to oppose it completely in accordance with the principle of protecting the welfare of the individual. (Interestingly, in Matthew Jesus allowed divorce for sexual immorality, which is the position Shammai held.)

    The strict uncompromising observance of Sabbath rules was typical of the school of Shammai. The followers of Jesus were hungry and took some heads of grain, which is technically work and forbidden on the Sabbath. Again, the welfare of the individual was the concern. It is not that the Sabbath laws were wrong but that there was a good reason for overriding them. Current Jewish law, which derives much from Hillel, says that well-being is paramount and can override laws if it is necessary. For example, if a person is sick and must eat for health reasons and it is a fast day, that person must not fast.

    The story of ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone’ (John 8:1-11) is generally held to not have been present in the original but added later on. Regardless, there would need to have been a trial with witnesses before anything was done. The law specifies that both partners are to die. If they were caught in the act, where is the man?

    Old Joke:

    “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone” Jesus stared steely eyed at the crowd. They drew back uncertainly. A few dropped their stones. Suddenly a large stone came flying from the back of the crowd, hitting the woman dead center in the forehead. She dropped down, convulsed a couple of times and died.

    Jesus stared aghast at the body, then turned back again to the crowd. “Not funny, mother!!!”


    Again, I have no time to finish. I will return.
     
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Dear @Rough Beast Sloucher , I'm enjoying out conversation. Take your time. I'm a thousand miles away from my home in the countryside at a training weekend dedicated to fostering the spiritual health of our communities. I have limited access to the usual comforts of home including access to the internet. I'll be posting again in a few days.
     
  16. CG Didymus

    CG Didymus Well-Known Member

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    Do the gospel writers make it clear when Jesus is going to tell a parable? Then the thing about other religious "myths". In some religions they threw people into volcanoes or cut their hearts out as a sacrifice to their gods. Were those religious beliefs true or false? Were the creator of those beliefs deceitful, deluded, or what? Since Baha'is believe God has given guidance to all people, who was the manifestation that came up with human sacrificing? I'd assume, none. So where did these beliefs come from?

    Now for the gospel writers. Someone would have had to come up with the resurrection allegory. Matthew or Mark? Or, it came out of a tradition that Jesus had risen from the dead. Wouldn't the early Christians let everyone know that it was a parable? Why would they tell the story as if it really happened... tell everybody that Mary and all the apostles had seen Jesus alive, and forget to tell them... "Oh by the way. It's all symbolic."

    And how about the ones that stole the body? They let the others believe the lie that Jesus had come back to life? For me, if that's what happened, it is still a hoax.
     
  17. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe my beliefs are dependable because they come from the living God in the person of the Paraclete.

    I don't believe you qualify as a judge of whether people are mistaken or not.
     
  18. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe I have done that already.

    I believe that can't be done because the only one qualified to know whether He does or not is Himself. Everyone else's knowledge is not complete enough to judge. The only thing we can do is accept His testimony that He does.

    I believe your conclusion is wrong because your premises are wrong and your conclusion doesn't even follow from the premises.

    I believe the Bible is like the court that makes a transcript of the testimony. That transcript is considered evidence.

    I believe that has no basis in reality.
     
  19. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Contradict yourself much?

    The problem with the Bible as a transcript is that it contradicts itself and it has obviously false stories in it. It cannot be used as evidence. By trying to use it you only admit that you have no valid evidence.
     
  20. Muffled

    Muffled Jesus in me

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    I believe that is true but I interpret by the Holy Spirit and alter my beliefs accordingly.

    I don't believe that is in context with Jesus being Lord but it is not impossible for a prophet to miss on a prophecy. I am not familiar with this but I suppose it comes from one of the minor prophets.
     
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