Elijah John wrote:
[Replying to Mithrae
It's all the language of missionary evangelistic propaganda, and myth making. John is an inspiring read, and agreed, the Synoptics hint at the Divinity of Christ without coming out and saying "Jesus is God". Granted, even the Synoptics are not immune from Supernatural and superlative Christology. It's theology, not reality. Or should I say not provable reality.
And those hints of incarnate Divinity are at odds with Jesus native Judaism. So which is it, was Jesus a Jew? Or was he God?. He cannot be both. Judaism only prepared it's adherants though the years for absolute Monotheism..NOT Trinitarianism. How can any Jew ever be blamed for not accepting Jesus as their God, and Lord and Savior? After all they have repeated the Sh'ma in their daily prayers for centuries BC.
Judaism's daily prayers, weekly observances, annual remembrances, commands for utmost respect of one's parents and their traditions, and ostracism or extremely harsh penalties for straying (fortunately many no longer enforced) certainly represent a powerful and highly effective system of indoctrination and thought control - many aspects of which Christian sects have mimicked - but nevertheless substantial changes in perspective have occurred both for some individuals and over time the religion as a whole.
It's worth noting that of the various Jewish laws which Jesus is recorded as contradicting or radically 'reinterpreting,' the command to honour one's parents is one of the clearest and most shocking examples according to Luke - telling his disciples that they must "hate" their father, mother, spouse, children and siblings in order to be his disciple (Luke 14:26
) - and according to the other evangelists also (Mark 3:31-35
, 10:29, 15:40, Matthew 8:21-22
, 23:9, Luke 8:19-21
). Even granting that much of the gospels' contents are unreliable I'd say these teachings are very likely based on genuine Jesus material, but if so why would that be unless he wanted to break that cycle of indoctrination and introduce something new?
But perhaps not all that
new or unique. For example it's hardly an original point that John's idea of the Word or Logos is probably based mostly on the writings of the Jew Philo of Alexandria
, who himself seems to contradict that absolutist dogma of strict monotheism:
- Philo used the term Logos to mean an intermediary divine being, or demiurge. Philo followed the Platonic distinction between imperfect matter and perfect Form, and therefore intermediary beings were necessary to bridge the enormous gap between God and the material world. The Logos was the highest of these intermediary beings, and was called by Philo "the first-born of God."
Philo also wrote that "the Logos of the living God is the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevents them from being dissolved and separated." . . . .
There are, in addition, Biblical elements: there are Biblical passages in which the word of Yhwh is regarded as a power acting independently and existing by itself, as Isaiah 55:11; these ideas were further developed by later Judaism in the doctrines of the Divine Word creating the world, the divine throne-chariot and its cherub, the divine splendor and its shekinah, and the name of God as well as the names of the angels; and Philo borrowed from all these in elaborating his doctrine of the Logos. He calls the Logos "second god [deuteros theos]" (Questions and Answers on Genesis 2:62), the "archangel of many names," "taxiarch" (corps-commander), the "name of God," also the "heavenly Adam", the "man, the word of the eternal God."
The Logos is also designated as "high priest", in reference to the exalted position which the high priest occupied after the Exile as the real center of the Jewish state. The Logos, like the high priest, is the expiator of sins, and the mediator and advocate for men: á¼±ÎºÎÏ„Î·Ï‚, and Ï€Î±Ï�Î¬ÎºÎ»Î·Ï„Î¿Ï‚.
Elijah John wrote:
At least the Synoptics preserve some of Jesus Jewish sounding teachings regarding the Father, and how to love God and Neighbor. John? Not so much. Again the quote from Thomas Paine comes in very handy when applied to John.(and Trinitarian Christianity in general) "Instead of God, a man is preached".
Johannine and Pauline Christians (today's Trinitarians) pluck Jesus from his Jewish context, and impose a Greco-Roman one on him.
Is it possible that you are exaggerating the "Jewish context" in which Jesus lived? He traveled around during the recorded years of his public preaching; perhaps even further afield in the decade and more prior to that. Noting some similarities with Buddhist ideas, some have suggested that he (like the apostle Thomas afterwards) might have traveled to India; pure speculation but surely possible
(it's also worth noting that the first three verses of John's gospel bear a striking resemblance
to a passage from Indian scripture). There certainly seems to be some influence from Cynic philosophy in his teachings, which trade and fairly local travel alone could easily account for.
But in particular, we should remember that our information about Jesus' milieu is so limited that outside the NT the only credible source for his existence is a coincidental reference in passing to his brother's death in Josephus - and in the case of Hillel the Elder, reportedly far more important at the time of his death 20 years before Jesus', we have nothing. Major streams of Jewish thought were essentially wiped out in the two wars and presumably a great deal of historical information about the period's culture. Philo and Paul may have been "hellenized Jews," but I suspect that it's a mistake to assume any kind of stark dichotomy between them and all Palestinian Jews. Palestinian Jews were certainly not uniform in their beliefs and theologies by any stretch of the imagination, nor were they an isolated population, and I think it's highly probable that some/many shared fairly similar ways of looking at the world with other folk from the wider levant. And I don't think that's a bad thing.