Muted Voices

Muted Voices September 11, 2014

There is a call for papers for a conference to be held at the University of Durham in 2015. The title is “Muted Voices,” and it is focused on non-Pauline and non-Johannine epistles from the early Christian centuries.

Of related interest, Larry Hurtado pointed out that the journal New Testament Studies has made a number of articles available for free on their website.

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  • redpill99

    were the Johannine epistles and GJohn written by same author?

    Doherty in his Jesus puzzle section conspiracy of silence demands answers to his question as to why these epistles make no mention nor provide any details of Jesus in his life. His proposed explanation is that Jesus was purely celestial.

    Do non-Pauline and non-Johannine epistles from the early Christian centuries provide evidence of an MJ or an GJ?

    • Qstuart Quaint

      Having not read the Johannine epistles in quite some time, I wasn’t expecting to find anything other than what might be expected in letters.
      Instead, I found explicit statements opposing the “purely celestial” thesis.

      1 John 4.2-3, 9: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God … God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.”
      2 John 1.7: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist!”

      edit: I think I misread your question, so I’ve added random examples of non-Pauline and non-Johannine literature strongly indicating a this-worldly Jesus.

      1 Peter 2.18-24:
      “Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

      ‘He committed no sin,
      and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

      When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

      1 Peter 3.18:
      “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”

      Hebrews 2.6-9:
      “But someone has testified somewhere,

      ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
      or mortals, that you care for them?
      You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
      you have crowned them with glory and honour,
      subjecting all things under their feet.’

      Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

      Hebrews 2.14-18:
      “Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”

      Hebrews 5.7-10:
      “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”

      Hebrews 7.14:
      “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.”

      Still not sure if that’s what you’re looking for.

      • redpill99

        2 John 1.7: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do
        not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is
        the deceiver and the antichrist!”
        ^
        the official explanation is docetism but I still wonder if it could be these anti-Christs were Jesus mythers.

        • Qstuart Quaint

          With the strong emphasis on “flesh” (and “blood”) in the above, it reads to me as though those with a contrary view to the authors would suggest a coming/appearance of non-flesh/non-blood (i.e., the traditional explanation). That being said, some kind of a “non-coming” reading seems possible too.

          Although, I don’t see how this affects the mythicist position? Since I always thought they claimed even the NT propounded a celestial event. What with their claims that Paul tells us literally nothing of the this-worldly Jesus, and that his beliefs were in a purely celestial Christ?

          Are there mythicists who claim that at some point, somewhere in human history, some have disbelieved in an actual physical and earthly Jesus, and therefore this is more plausible than the simplest explanation of all the evidence?

          • redpill99

            here’s my stab at it,
            the “deceivers” and “antiChrists” alluded to in this epistles were the original “Christians” who knew Jesus “Salvation” as a purely mystical revelation. So the epistle writer came into contact with these mystics who originated the idea of a pure mystical salvation based on private revelations. The Book of Revelations and the Odes of Solomon are two documents that provide evidence. The other issue is that these original Christians could have originated decades or even centuries before Paul and John. Maybe they were a splinter group of Essenes who had mystical visions.

          • So basically you are happy to assume that views mentioned late were early, and continue to think you have the right understanding of the details of the Book of Revelation, even though you cannot even get its name correct.

          • redpill99

            many books of the OT were believed to be written in stages with a later redactor, i.e the JEDP being a good example. Luke and Matthew reworked Mark, John has a signs gospel embedded in its text. Isaiah is also thought to be written in stages as well. if that last book of the NT was written in stages, with the earliest stage seeing “Salvation” as a purely spiritual figure, and then later written and re-written by later redactors to its final form.

            Jesus mythers also allude to Greek Platonism and Hebrew wisdom tradition that predate the first century as sources.

            Book of Wisdom chapter 7

            1I too am a mortal, the same as all the rest,a

            and a descendant of the first one formed of earth.*

            And in my mother’s womb I was molded into flesh

            2in a ten-month period*—body and blood,

            from the seed of a man, and the pleasure that accompanies marriage.

            3And I too, when born, inhaled the common air,

            and fell upon the kindred earth;

            wailing, I uttered that first sound common to all.

            4In swaddling clothes and with constant care I was nurtured.

            5For no king has any different origin or birth;

            6one is the entry into life for all,

            and in one same way they leave it.b

            Solomon Prayed and Wisdom and Riches Came to Him

            7Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me;

            I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.c

            8I preferred her to scepter and throne,d

            And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,

            9nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;

            Because all gold, in view of her, is a bit of sand,

            and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.

            10Beyond health and beauty I loved her,

            And I chose to have her rather than the light,

            because her radiance never ceases.e

            11Yet all good things together came to me with her,f

            and countless riches at her hands;

            12I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom is their leader,

            though I had not known that she is their mother.* g

            Solomon Prays for Help to Speak Worthily of Wisdom

            13Sincerely I learned about her, and ungrudgingly do I share—

            her riches I do not hide away;h

            14For she is an unfailing treasure;

            those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God,

            being commended by the gifts that come from her discipline.*

            15Now God grant I speak suitably

            and value these endowments at their worth:

            For he is the guide of Wisdom

            and the director of the wise.

            16For both we and our words are in his hand,

            as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts.i

            17* For he gave me sound knowledge of what exists,

            that I might know the structure of the universe and the force of its elements,

            18The beginning and the end and the midpoint of times,

            the changes in the sun’s course and the variations of the seasons,

            19Cycles of years, positions of stars,

            20natures of living things, tempers of beasts,

            Powers of the winds and thoughts of human beings,

            uses of plants and virtues of roots—

            21Whatever is hidden or plain I learned,

            22for Wisdom, the artisan of all, taught me.j

            Nature and Incomparable Dignity of Wisdom

            * For in her is a spirit

            intelligent, holy, unique,

            Manifold, subtle, agile,

            clear, unstained, certain,

            Never harmful, loving the good, keen,k

            23unhampered, beneficent, kindly,

            Firm, secure, tranquil,

            all-powerful, all-seeing,

            And pervading all spirits,

            though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.

            24For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,

            and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.l

            25* For she is a breath of the might of God

            and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;

            therefore nothing defiled can enter into her.

            26For she is the reflection of eternal light,

            the spotless mirror of the power of God,

            the image of his goodness.m

            27Although she is one, she can do all things,

            and she renews everything while herself perduring;

            Passing into holy souls from age to age,

            she produces friends of God and prophets.n

            28For God loves nothing so much as the one who dwells with Wisdom.

            29For she is fairer than the suno

            and surpasses every constellation of the stars.

            Compared to light, she is found more radiant;

            30though night supplants light,

            wickedness does not prevail over Wisdom.

          • Neko

            Or put another way: Wisdom 7.

          • redpill99

            5* For she is a breath of the might of God

            and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;

            therefore nothing defiled can enter into her.

            26For she is the reflection of eternal light,

            the spotless mirror of the power of God,

            the image of his goodness.m

            27Although she is one, she can do all things,

            and she renews everything while herself perduring;

            Passing into holy souls from age to age,

            she produces friends of God and prophets.n

            28For God loves nothing so much as the one who dwells with Wisdom.
            ^

            this document does show that at least some Jews in the century preceding the common era, and in this geographical region, did have mystical visions that is consistent with the Jesus myth theory.
            There’s also the Dead Sea Scrolls and its teacher of righteousness.

          • Neko

            What I was trying to tell you is: develop awareness of the people around you.

          • No, it doesn’t, and instead of copying and pasting familiar texts which in their original context have nothing to do with Jesus, why not just provide a reference, and then offer your explanation of how you understand the text, so that those who wish to can figure out why you are failing to understand them?

            This copying and pasting is simply rude. We know these texts, and know where to find them on line. Make reference to them and then explain what you think they mean and why.

          • In other words, Jesus-mythers like yourself become aware for the first time of texts that are familiar to scholars and students of Biblical studies and/or ancient Judaism, and because these texts are applied to Jesus by early Christians, you think that they are actually about Jesus?

            What would it take to get a Jesus-myther like yourself to actually take the time to become informed about these texts?

          • redpill99

            I wouldn’t call myself a full blown Jesus myther. I do think the cosmic Christ of Paul and Revelation comes out of this speculative wisdom tradition and applied to some guy who was crucified.

          • If your view is one widely held by mainstream scholars, why on earth do you associate it with mythicism?!