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October 18, 2008

Gospel of Matthew: the Jewish origins of the Sermon of the Mount

Matthew 5:38-42; Jesus’ rejection of the eye for an eye, was built upon previous Jewish ethical teachings in the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus might have also been influenced by the teachings of Hillel the Elder (Pharisee) who is quoted as illustrating the Golden Rule to be an effective summary of the Torah. Jesus delivering his discourses on the Mount might be a parallel to Moses delivering the Torah to Israel from a Mount. Matthew 6:9-13; the Lord’s Prayer.When Jesus begins his prayer withOur Father that art in heaven, he is following the pattern of Pharisee prayers which are still a part of the Jewish Daily Prayer Book. It also follows the manner as the Kaddish, in hallowing the name of God. The appeal for God’s kingdom to come seems to echo the belief of a Messiah figure (Jesus) bringing about the Kingdom of God which is a theme pulled from the Hebrew Bible (a theme that would have weight during the Roman occupation). Matthew 5:17-20; Jesus points to the Hebrew Bible as something to follow which of course is the path of Judaism. Jesus also points to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (Torah) as guides to entering the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

Filed by Frank at October 18th, 2008 under Religion
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Community Rule of the Essenes

Summary: An apocalyptic sect of Judaism (I would argue influenced by Babylonian and Greek religious ideals with a assortment of mystic, eschatological, messianic and ascetic beliefs) that thrived from the 2nd century BCE to about the 1st century CE. Josephus and Philo describe them in their work, Pliny the Elder located them near the Dead Sea, and the Dead Sea Scrolls reflex their work and beliefs. They saw themselves as the true form of Judaism even using Moses to confirm their status. The text seems to be doing a prophet type of role in showing the wrongs of the Jewish nation. It is calling Jews to repent and follow God’s law. They called their community Yahad’ (oneness of God) and separated themselves from the rest of the Jews who are labeled The Breakers of the Covenant. They conformed to a strict rule of Leviticus purity, lived in a state of collectivism and dedicated their time to study and attachment to the scriptures and refrained from marital intercourse and sensual pleasures. The texts seem to support the idea of early Christians borrowing from the Essenes to create their own sect. Side note: I believe there are several parallels between the Master of Righteousness and Jesus. Philo writes that the Essenes believed and taught it was their first duty to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness which mirrors Matthew 6:33 & Luke 12:21. The Essenes utilized baptism and not animal sacrifice as the mode for repentance for the remission of sins which mirrors Luke 3:3. The Essenes believed in and practiced baptizing the (spiritually) dead which mirrors 1 corthinians 15:29. This is only a small introduction.

Filed by Frank at October 18th, 2008 under Religion
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October 3, 2008

Israelite prophecy

General Characteristics: Classical prophecy is not soothsaying (clairvoyance; 1 Samuel 10:2, Samuel tells Saul where to find his missing donkeys). It includes a written’ (composed) work or book, such as the Book of Isaiah or Jeremiah. It stressesforth telling (addressing present ills) or foretelling, though the element of predicting the future in general terms is present (Isaiah 1:21 – 23, but compare Isaiah 49:1 – 6, the servantIsrael and his future role). There are figures such as Nathan (2 Samuel 7, 12), Elijah (1 Kings) and Elisha (2 Kings) whose activity was much like that of the classical prophets except that they did not compose a book of prophecy. Theprophetsin the Hebrew Bible is a term designating the following books: Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

Commonalities: They are called by God to a difficult task (Isaiah 6, Jeremiah 1, and Amos 7:14-15). They are destined for a life of suffering (the life of Jeremiah). They are concerned with the holiness and uniqueness of the God of Israel (Isaiah 6). They are concerned with social justice (Isaiah 1:12-18, Amos 4:1, 5:12). They are poetically gifted (Isaiah 1:18-23, 5:1-7).

Key themes: A critique of Temple rituals and sacrifices (Amos 5:21-24) and conditional nature of Israel’s covenant with God (Isaiah 5:1-7). The rejection of popular eschatology – that God will rescue Israel in the end (Amos 5:18-20) and universalism: Israel as a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). The clear-cut views on how the government (the monarch) should deal with international crises (Isaiah 7:1-9).

Filed by Frank at October 3rd, 2008 under Religion
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Julius Caesar vs. Jesus: Historical Evidence

Julius Caesar wrote two works about the events in his life. If you want a more detailed view go HERE and for just a list of works go HERE. Sallust (86 – 34 BCE) a contemporary historian wrote about Julius Caesar (The Catiline Conspiracy) and was made governor of Numeria by Caesar. Cicero (106 – 43 BCE), a contemporary received letters from him and wrote about him to others and for a list of letters mentioning Caesar and from him: HERE. Cornelius Nepos (100 – 24 BCE) mentions Caesar in his biographies. Catullus, another contemporary writes about Caesar in his poetry. Paterculus (19 BCE – 31 CE) wrote about Caesar in his Historia Romana. Furthermore, the archaeological evidence for the Battle of Alesia or the numerous accounts from friends, enemies, political satirists, etc.

Jesus is not mentioned in any contemporary texts or documented in any contemporary artifacts, period. Thus, no contemporary historians write about Jesus, no contemporary friends, enemies, etc…write about Jesus, no Roman records of his death, and no graffiti about Jesus, nothing.

Filed by Frank at October 3rd, 2008 under Religion
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September 26, 2008

Isaiah 53: Medieval Rabbis

Ramban (13th century): The right view respecting this Parashah is to suppose that by the phrase “my servant” the whole of Israel is meant. . . .As a different opinion, however, is adopted by the Midrash, which refers it to the Messiah, it is necessary for us to explain it in conformity with the view there maintained. The prophet says, The Messiah, the son of David of whom the text speaks, will never be conquered or perish by the hands of his enemies. And, in fact the text teaches this clearly. . . .

Ibn Ezra (12th Century): Behold, the meaning of “my servant” is every one of Israel that is in captivity, even he is a servant of G-d. . . He is despised and rejected of men. The Jews are despised and rejected of men, Gentiles. A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. The Jews are suffering from the Gentiles. And we hid as it were our faces from him. The Gentiles don’t want to look as the Jews are being persecuted; they hide their faces. They hate the Jews even when they [the Jews] suffer.

Abarbanel (15th Century): In my judgment, however, the kings and gentiles rather speak thus: We inflicted all this misfortune upon Israel, because by the fault of those who were our teachers, and who expounded and determined for us our law, all the instruction (correction) which they imparted for the perpetuation of OUR peace was directed against HIM, against Israel: they taught us, namely, incessantly that by his stripes we were healed; in other words, that when the stripes of a wound’, which are the clearing of an evil’ (Proverbs 20:30) were inflicted on him, there would be healing and peace for our souls: on this account, therefore, we were desirous for his destruction. In spite, however, of the nations being various, Edom, Ishmael, etc. and their religions different, there was STILL one point common to them all – they had all set their heart to do evil to Israel…

Isaac Orobio de Castro (17th Century): In short, the nations never flourished in prosperity and peace without that peace proving a punishment for the people of HaShem; and this is what Isaiah means in this verse, that the undeceived nations will say the punishment of our peace was upon him, because our happiness, our peace, always proved to be miserable punishment upon Israel; when the L-rd delivered him, for his sins, into our hands, we impiously treated him as a slave, using our prosperity to his damage; about which the same Isaiah reproves them (47:5) Thou didst shew them no mercy, upon the aged thou didst heavily lay thy yoke.” “And by “his wounds we were healed”. Certainly the divine prophet used a very subtle figure of rhetoric in this verse, which consists in turning the proposition by another contrary; the proceeding clause said, that the nations will say, our prosperity, our peace, was a punishment to Israel; and then he converts it; and the wounds or punishment of Israel will be for us peace, welfare, and happiness; our peace caused him punishment, sickness, and wounds; and his wounds will cause us comfort and health; he was wounded for our peace, and we are healed through his wounds; and thus he says the punishment of our peace was upon him, and through his wounds we were healed.

Bombshell Witness: Origen (325 CE): Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies; to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations.

Drash interpretation: Isaiah 52 – 53; the Messianic considerations that arise are allegory. These allegories will present Moses, Daniel, David, and many other people as being the Messiah. Zohar and Targums should be researched.

Filed by Frank at September 26th, 2008 under Religion
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Isaiah 53: Jesus or Israel?

Isaiah 53:3; ‘despised and rejected by men…’ This is relevant to Israel if you read Isaiah 60:15, Psalms 44:130 – 14 but, Jesus was followed by multitudes (Matthew 4:25), applauded a prophet upon his triumphal entry in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9 – 11), rulers feared a riot of the people so they had Jesus taken by stealth (Mark 14:1 – 2), was praised by all (Luke 4:14 – 15), had a multitude bewailed his fate while being taken to be crucified (Luke 23:17). Jesus does not seem to match the picture of a despised and rejected man.’ Isaiah 53:3; a man of pains and accustomed to illness…’ Israel’s adversities are often likened to illness: Isaiah 1:5 – 6, Jeremiah 10:19, and 30:12.

Isaiah 53:5; is the famous mistranslation, it’s not FOR, it’s OF (Israel’s suffering stems from their [nations] deeds and sinfulness), a theme developed in Jeremiah 10:25, and 50:7.

Isaiah 53:7; he was opposed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, and like a ewe that is mute before her shearers, and he would not open his mouth. Psalms 44:17 – 18: David speaks of Israel’s faithfulness in the face of gentile oppression. Psalms 44:22, 11: David portrays Israel as sheep to be slaughtered in the middle of the unfaithful gentile nations. Isaiah 52:4 – 5: Israel is said to have been oppressed and taken away lacking cause. Now, Matthew 27:46, John 18:23, and 36 – 37: Jesus did not, and he would not open his mouth,when faced with oppression.

Isaiah 53:8; for he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the transgression of my people, a plague befell them. If this verse is about Jesus then it must mean that he was unrighteous because only the unrighteous will be cut off. Joel 1:9 and Jeremiah 33:18 explain this. The end of this verse shows the oppressed servant is collective servant,a plague befell them.

Isaiah 53:9; and he gave his grave to the wicked, and to the wealthy with his kinds of death, because he committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.Matthew 10:34, 21:12, Mark 11:15-16, Luke 12:51, 19:27 and 19:45; did Jesus do no violence?

Isaiah 53:10; and the Lord wished to crush him, he made him ill; if his soul makes itself restitution, he shall see children, he shall prolong his days, and God’s purpose shall prosper in his hand.Where are Jesusphysical descendants, his children? The Hebrew term used always refers to physical descendants. Jesus died young, and if Jesus was God, how does God prolong his days?

Isaiah 53:12;therefore, I will allot him a portion in public, and with the strong he shall share plunder, because he poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for transgressors.Israel will be rewarded for righteously suffering from the sings of the world and remained faithful (Psalms 44). If Jesus is God, why would he need to be rewarded?

Filed by Frank at September 26th, 2008 under Religion
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Isaiah 53 synopsis

Memo: The chapter divisions are not original but instituted afterward. Isaiah 53 starts at Isaiah 52:13: Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Isaiah plainly establishes, My servant. Isaiah 41:8-9, Isaiah 44:1-2, Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 48:20, Isaiah 49:3 all plainly say that Israel isMy servant.’ Isaiah 43:10: Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen.

Synopsis of Isaiah 53: They (the kings of the nations) will grasp what they have not known, which is the proper temperament of the Jews as God’s chosen nation. It will be a shocking recognition for the nations, but a necessary part of the redemption of the Jewish people. The nations will confess that they have caused sorrow and sadness upon God’s servant. Israel, through tests and misfortunes has served as a people of priest for the world and shall bring redemption to humanity.

Isaiah 53 is a tale about the servant but, who is reporting? Isaiah 52:15: So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they perceive. The kings of the nations are going to endure a shocking comprehension about the servant.They will be silenced in shocked revelation by what they will now understand about the servant.’ Isaiah 53:1: Who would have believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed? They (the kings of the nations) will share their recognition.

So, this sets up who are talking in Isaiah 53, the nations of the world (gentiles).

Filed by Frank at September 26th, 2008 under Religion
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September 25, 2008

Josephus on Jesus

Josephus was a Jewish priest who was born (37 CE). A supporter to Judaism, he led a considerable Jewish force (Galilee) in opposition to the invading Romans. However, when the Jewish temple (temple-state) was destroyed in (70 CE), Josephus betrayed his people and joined the Romans (saving his life; Flavius). Josephus is known for being an early Jewish historian and his most famous works: Antiquities of the Jews and The Wars of the Jews.

The Testimonium Flavianum is a passage within book 18 of the Antiquities of the Jews which is used as a reference to a historical Jesus. This passage is probably, most likely an interpolation and not merely parts of the passage but, the whole passage is an addition by Christian apologetics most like after the 4th century CE. The obvious interpolations are the ones that plainly portray Josephus as a Christian, when in fact; Josephus was a supporter of Judaism (read his autobiography Vita). Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man IF IT BE LAWFUL TO CALL HIM A MAN, for he was a doer of wonderful works, A TEACHER OF SUCH MEN AS RECEIVE THE TRUTH WITH PLEASURE. He drew many after him BOTH OF THE JEWS AND THE GENTILES. HE WAS THE CHRIST. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, FOR HE APPEARED TO THEM ALIVE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY, AS THE DIVINE PROPHETS HAD FORETOLD THESE AND THEN THOUSAND OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT HIM, and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.The statement, if it be lawful to call him a man,implies that Jesus was not simply a man (divine) which is contrary to Judaism. The statement,he was the Christ, is contrary to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the Jewish Messiah’s commission. The statement, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with please,implies that Jesus taught the truth but, how can Josephus support a man supposedly executed for blasphemy against Judaism. The statement,for he appeared to them… clearly has Josephus supporting the Christian account which is outlandish. Even if we remove these interpolations, we have more problems. How does …and the tribe of Christian, so named from him…follow how that he was the Christ, is removed? Christians are going to have been named from Christ. In the first book of Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus have several, and this group of people were named for this person, type of statements and he is always sure to mention a name that sounds very analogous to that of the group of people and when the name is different Josephus explains it thoroughly (Book 1, Chapter 6). If Christian is derived from Jesus then Josephus would have explained it thoroughly. If you take the context into consideration then the left over core passage does not make sense. Antiquities 18.3.4 starts, about the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder.The death of Jesus would not be a calamity to the Jews. Antiquities 18.3.2 talks about the Jewish rebellion against Pontius Pilate, and how Pilate ordered his soldiers to brutally end the rebellion which if followed by Antiquities 18.3.4 makes ideal sense as the first tragedy that put the Jews into disorder and not the death of Jesus, Antiquities 18.3.3. The phrase, wonderful works, is not once used by Josephus and he was very repetitive in his texts but, the same phrase is used by early Christian apologists (like Origen). The passage (paragraph) does not follow the style of Josephus who gives important figures at least a page. Even if a core passage mentions Jesus, Josephus was not an eye-witness and would be purely hearsay.

The second less known passage that mentions Jesus is also from Antiquities of the Jews (Book 20, Chapter 9). …Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned… Side-Note: Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria both agree on the account of James but, they disagree with Josephus. I believe this passage was mostly written by Josephus, minus who was called Christ, but, the Jesus of this passage is Jesus, son of Damneus (high-priest) who is mentioned in Chapter 9. …on which King Agrippa took the high priesthood from him [Ananus], when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.

Filed by Frank at September 25th, 2008 under Religion
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September 6, 2008

Paul knows nothing of a historical Jesus

Paul’s texts on the Last Supper,are nothing more than a tutorial of a ritual; Paul knows nothing of who was sitting at the table, nor any reactions of the people sitting at the table, where and when it took place, or who betrayed Jesus. If Paul was writing about a real event then a simple description would authenticate it, but Paul gives none. It’s a minimal account without support and a similar approach is used when describing the crucifixion, a minimal account without mentioning the trial earlier, which people were present, the special darkening of the sky, or any part that would support a real event. Paul doesn’t mention Jesus’ family at all, so how are we to authenticate the title of James? Paul doesn’t mention Jesus’ parents, his birth, his childhood, or his siblings. Paul received his mission from a vision of Jesus, how do you authenticate this? Why should be believe Paul and not others who have had visions of their god/s?

Paul doesn’t mention anything about Jesus’ parents, the virgin birth, or Bethlehem, he doesn’t mention Nazareth, never refers to Jesus as the Son of man,never mentions a single miracle by Jesus, doesn’t mention the sermon on the mount, doesn’t attach any historical actions of Jesus in any time or place, rarely quotes Jesus, doesn’t reference any of the 12 apostles by name, skips the trial, says nothing of the aspects of the last supper and doesn’t place the crucifixion in a physical location (Jerusalem). Paul’s accounts are nothing but allegories.

Paul (so-called earliest author; 5-67 CE) is oblivious about the life of Jesus. Paul’s epistles are supposedly written from 52 CE to 67 CE and yet heard nothing about the life of Jesus? It seems Paul only knew of the vision/spiritual Jesus. Galatians 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” Paul only knew of a spiritual cosmic Jesus.

 

Filed by Frank at September 6th, 2008 under Religion
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Israel/Judah

“When the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 they as a matter of imperial policy (Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, and Romans did the same), deported a significant segment of the population while refugees fled to Judah (which transitioned Judah from small community into a tangible state-type). The Assyrians also moved thousands of people from other parts of the empire into Israel. Then came the Babylonians and they took over the Assyrians empire and conquered Judah. The Babylonians then deported a significant segment of the population while moving people from other parts of the empire into Judah until Cyrus of Persia took out the Babylonians and did the same as the other empires and allowed the people of Judah to return. The Persians controlled the region until Alexander the Great defeated them and after Alexander’s death his empire was divided among his generals: Seleucus took control of Syria and Asia Minor and Ptolomy took control of Egypt. The Seleucids and Ptolemies fought over Palestine for over a century until Antiochus III defeated the Ptolomaic army in 198 BCE. Antiochus III treated the Jews rather well until he was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia and his stance toward the Jews changed dramatically. The Maccabean revolt was brought about from Seleucids aggravation and by 140 BCE the Maccabees pushed the Seleucids out. The Hasmonean rules (Maccabees) had constant internal dynastic problems and it kept them from any genuine foreign expansion. In 65 BCE, Pompey with the Roman army conquered Palestine and Herod the Great was placed on the Judean throne and under Roman protection.

Filed by Frank at September 6th, 2008 under Religion
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