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  •  Just as Jesus was a Jew, so also were all the (0+ / 0-)

    disciples and almost all the earliest followers. The big controversy with Paul in the fifties and later was whether Gentiles could be Christians without taking on Jewish practice. At least three of the gospels were written by people who were Jewish (those attributed to Matthew, Mark, and John; the author of Luke may not have been).

    Certainly in the second and third centuries most Christians were Gentiles, but not at the time that the gospels were written.

    Note also that I said "all the first Christians" which implies the earliest group of all.

    If you have any scholarly citations that the marriage of Cana was influenced by Dionysus worship I would be interested to hear of them.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:49:18 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Well, besides the scads of books on the (0+ / 0-)

      Christian/pagan mythology connections, Wikipedia talks about this under its page on Dionysus.

      All of the gospel stories were either initiated by the early church or modified by them (there were far more than just four gospels written).  In order to make these stories convincing to non-Jews, pagan biographies and practices (virgin births, communion, crucifixion, ressurection, salvation) were applied to the Jesus stories to convince people that the Christian's god was like their gods, only he was the "real" one.  So the gospels were a mix of mostly Old Testament writings, Greek philosophies (God as Logos being one example) with a bit of borrowed birth and death stories thrown in.   At least this is what I have gleaned from my readings on the pagan roots of Christianity. Other writings that deal with the gospels and particularly Paul is an exellent book by Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle).

      I don't know the exact content of this book, but Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus Christ will be out either this fall or early next year. I'm sure it will be a good read.

      •  Wikipedia points to parallels between the two (0+ / 0-)

        cases but does not have any suggestion that the Dionysus story was the source for the gospels nor that it influenced the writers of the gospels who were, as I point out, Jewish and strongly monotheistic. Mere parallels are not evidence for derivation; there are parallels between Hindu myths and Native American ones but no one would suggest one derived from the other.

        The parallels may have carried some emotional weight for Gentile converts. There is no evidence that they influenced the writers of the gospels. I am speaking about the canonical gospels, not the later ones that were not made part of the canon and which show signs of influence from several directions.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 11:11:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  More reading on your part might help (0+ / 0-)

          you to see my point.

          Thanks for taking the time to look at the Wikipedia. It's a start.

          •  The original claim was made: (0+ / 0-)
            the wedding at Cana scene in John is said to have been inserted to attract followers of Dionysus to Christianity.
            I said:
            Not by any serious scholars of which I am aware, though.

            All the first Christians were Jews, such passionate monotheists that they preferred to be martyred rather than worship other gods

            The statement about my knowledge is simply self-reporting - there is no other source needed. I expanded on the second part with
            Just as Jesus was a Jew, so also were all the (0+ / 0-)
            disciples and almost all the earliest followers. The big controversy with Paul in the fifties and later was whether Gentiles could be Christians without taking on Jewish practice. At least three of the gospels were written by people who were Jewish (those attributed to Matthew, Mark, and John; the author of Luke may not have been).
            Let me break that out into specific points:

            1. Jesus was a Jew
            2. so also were all the disciples
            3. so were almost all the earliest followers.
            4. At least three of the [canonical] gospels were written by people who were Jewish (those attributed to Matthew, Mark, and John; the author of Luke may not have been). (the non-canonical gospels are irrelevant to the passage in John, as they were written later)
            5. Jews were monotheistic and had been for several centuries before the common era.
            6. Jews were so passionately monotheistic that they preferred martyrdom to worshipping pagan gods. This was the basis for their exemption from offering incense to the emperor.
            7. I am not aware of any scholarly source asserting that the marriage of Cana was inserted into John later. (The woman taken in adultery may have been but that is the only pericope I am aware of for which there is scholarly discussion as a late insertion)

            Which of these points do you disagree with? What is the source for your disagreement?



            Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

            by Wee Mama on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 04:31:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK here goes... (0+ / 0-)

              1- We know little to nothing about this man or even whether he existed.  More scholars are doubting it completely and I have read articles on this and one book (The Jesus Puzzle) by Earl Doherty.  A new book coming early next year by Richard Carrier (On the Historicity of Jesus Christ) will add even more knowledge to this question.   When I discuss the biblical texts, I make the assumption that the gospels are reporting real events and conversations and people in order to make a point.  But I don't think any of these stories have much merit in terms of reality.

              2- disciples... again an unknown. No proof these guys existed.

              3- earliest followers are hard to say because there were so many different Christ sects (some existed before the alleged time of Christ, but that's a whole other discussion). Most likely they were mostly Jews.

              4- we don't know who originally authored those texts as they have been revised and edited many times and written far after the alleged life period of "Jesus".

              5-- yes, the Jews were solidly monotheistic, which would actually lend evidence to the fact that the gospel stories were written by people who had left the faith and church officials who were trying to attract pagans (Gentiles) to the church.

              6- there are so many articles I have on file and have read online over the years, that I just have a general knowledge of the pagan roots of Christianity. That is why I suggested that you do some research of your own.

              I have not read this book, but have heard many refer to it in terms of the "realness" of the Old Testament stories. It's called "The Bible Unearthed". I think one of the authors' last names is Fink.  Anyway, it looks like archeology is finding that the historical claims about people and places in the OT are not supported by evidence.

              •  Before dealing with the various points, we need to (0+ / 0-)

                address the texts of the canonical New Testament. For these books there are thousands of manuscripts and many more again lectionaries and citations in early writers. The existence of so many manuscripts is not disputed. Some of these are better than others and some are older than others.

                Using these manuscripts and the methods of textual criticism (the same scholarly discipline used to unearth the text of Caesar's Gallic Wars or Plato's Apology) the original words of these texts can be deduced. Because of the ample manuscript resources this reconstruction is far more exact and reliable than any other text from this period (or, for that matter, for many much younger). It means that any one scribal error or deception can be corrected by using the evidence of the many others that have separate derivation.

                Evidence for this is that two teams of scholars, working separately, have converged on almost identical texts, the Nestlé-Aland and the United Bible Societies texts. These two scholarly texts for the New Testament literally differ in only a few words out of the whole canon.

                Now, we still don't know exactly who wrote the NT books. We don't know exactly when they were written (though the range of dates is fairly limited, and some of them were in the lifetimes of eyewitnesses). But we do know this: we know what the words were in the original manuscripts.

                The texts of the canon have been deduced by simple, ordinary scholarly reasoning. There is no appeal to miracles along the way. Can we be agreed that the text, the words as originally written, can be known and are in fact known to a high degree of reliability? One or a few words might be in error, but the vast majority of the words are known.

                If we cannot agree on this (and this is something that the most sceptical scholar can agree with) then there is no point in going forward. If we cannot agree on observable facts clearly no line of argument can be shared.



                Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

                by Wee Mama on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:16:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, rather than try to address (0+ / 0-)

                  this in my own words, here is a link to Carrier's essay on the formation of the New Testament Canon.  This is the type of writing that I have been exploring for years and has a lot of influence on my reasons for leaving Christianity and eventually the concept of a god all together.

                  http://www.infidels.org/...

                  It's good reading, and in his final paragraph he addresses one more example of the translation issues...

                  "Scribal errors are also a problem little dealt-with by any church authority, an issue I discuss briefly in an example elsewhere. Perhaps one of my favorite examples, with which I will close, is the famous King James line "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14), which even still gets repeated in nativity plays, "peace on earth, and good will toward men," and is treated as an example of the ultimate moral nobility of Christianity. But not until recent times was it discovered that a scribe long ago had failed to record a single letter (a sigma, "s") at the end of this line. The Latin Vulgate Bible, translated late in the 4th century, copied from a correct edition and thus has also preserved the original meaning, which is now correctly reconstructed in more recent Bible translations: "peace on earth toward men of goodwill," which is not as noble--since it does not wish peace on anyone else--and it is perhaps even less noble still, since the same phrase more likely means "peace on earth toward men [who enjoy God's] goodwill," in other words peace only for those whom God likes. All from a single mistake of one letter."

                  •  Simple yes or no question: (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you accept the convergence of the Néstle-Aland and the United Bible Societies texts as evidence that scholars agree now on the texts of the NT canon? I'm not talking about errors, etc. in the past. Do you accept that scholars are agreed now on the text?



                    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

                    by Wee Mama on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:25:52 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Absolutely not! (0+ / 0-)

                      Even Bart Ehrman wrote .....

                      ". . . even though the Gospels are among the best attested books from the ancient world, we are regrettably hindered in knowing what the authors of these books originally wrote. The problem is not that we are lacking manuscripts. We have thousands of manuscripts. The problem is that none of these manuscripts is the original copy produced by the author (this is true for all four Gospels—in fact, for every book of the New Testament). Moreover, most of these manuscripts were made over a thousand years after the original copies, none of them is close to the time of the originals—within, say, ten or twenty years—and all of them contain certifiable mistakes."

                      Scholars are NOT agreed on the texts, and I particularly wouldn't place value on the claims of the United Bible Societies, which is fundamentally a Christian mission organization.

                      So you have your sources and I have mine, and never the twain shall meet apparently.  Nice talking with you...

                    •  Oh, and one more thing.. (0+ / 0-)

                      Here is a link to the Jesus/Cana wedding/Dionysus question... enjoy!

                      http://vridar.org/...

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