H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 8)

The Therapeutae—Pt. 4 Not this, not that Buddhism with a difference? A prior post summarized Philo’s discussion of the Therapeutae in 23 points, and we have seen that most of those points surprisingly resonate with early Buddhism. But in two of the points, Philo attributes apparently non-Buddhist elements to the Therapeutae. The most obvious is point (f): [The Therapeutae] are ecstatics, they “give way to enthusiasm, behaving like so many revelers in bacchanalian or corybantian mysteries, until they see the object which they have been earnestly desiring.” (Vita 11) This contradicts the seventh Buddhist precept, which explicitly states: “I undertake to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments.” Point (f) also contradicts the meditative and sober aspects of … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 6)

Note: This post continues an analysis of the Therapeutae, as reported by Philo of Alexandria. Before proceeding, you may want to click here to open a new window containing the 23 points describing the Therapeutae listed in the preceding post. Having both windows open on your desktop will facilitate reading, as I refer to those points often in what follows.—René Salm The Therapeutae—Pt. 2 Extensive parallels between the Therapeutae and Buddhism The preceding post closed by pointing out a number of interesting parallels between Philo’s description of the Therapeutae and heterodox (Jewish) Christianity. On the other hand, we found very few (if any) parallels with what would become orthodox (gentile) Christianity. This is rather surprising. But far more remarkable is … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 5)

It is easy to become wearied of the many sects and names that populate the history of religion. This and the next post mention the Therapeutae, Mandaism, Falasha, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Buddhism… Yet, I maintain that different times and places often had different names for the same thing—in this case, for the path to the knowledge of life (literally, Manda d’Haije in Mandaic). I advise the reader to focus on the unity of underlying doctrine and outlook, rather than on the quite misleading plethora of names. In this way, s/he will better appreciate Dr. Detering’s bold attempt to build a cross-cultural and cross-religious bridge between East and West, one based on an examination of the Exodus, of ‘crossing over,’ and … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 4)

Note: The German edition of Dr. Detering’s article has now appeared and is linked to his website here. The English edition, translated by Stuart Waugh, is forthcoming. (This post has no color coding, as it is entirely my commentary. Much of the information below is from my essay, “Pre-Rational Religion,” Kevalin Press: 2010, privately circulated.—RS) Sacred water and hidden meaning below the surface   In his treatment of the Exodus theme, Dr. Detering’s argument centers on the element of water and its allegorical interpretation. As noted in the preceding post, already in the third millennium BCE Elam had a sacred water ritual, and the Mesopotamian divinity Enki was Lord of water, of wisdom, and of creation. We may ask: Why … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 2)

Highlights of this post: • the New Testament must be dated to the second century CE • Epiphanius identifies the pre-Christian Jessaeans with Philo’s Therapeutae, and the Therapeutae with early Christians • According to Epiphanius, some Jewish pre-Christians “set themselves ablaze” • Epiphanius shows that the Nazoraeans were in some way related to Indian monks The later (Jesus mythicist) chronology In these posts we are immersed in developments during the first century CE. This is a different world. Apparently there are “venerators of Joshua/Jesus” (a Semitic name roughly meaning “Y[ahweh] is Salvation,” BDB 221)—as Dr. Detering will claim later in his article. However, there were not yet “Christians” in the accepted sense of that word (see below). Both Detering and myself agree that in … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 1)

     The prevailing picture of Christian origins does need to be revised… All New Testament scholars are aware of textual material and historical data that cannot easily be reconciled… Some scholars are also aware that the literary and historical bases for the traditional reconstruction are very, very shaky. The picture itself has not yet budged, however, and will not budge until alternative explanations for the (sometimes very curious) data available are taken up for forthright discussion and evaluation.     —Burton Mack, “All the Extra Jesuses” (Semeia 49 [1990], pp. 169–70.) Some background The above words of Burton Mack are as applicable today as when he wrote them almost thirty years ago. We do need a thorough revision of Christian origins, for the traditional … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 6

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this series of posts I’ve tried to show that the Price-Ehrman debate suffered largely because the two principals play by vastly different ground rules. It’s hard to have a meaningful (much less an exciting) exchange of ideas if the assumptions, acknowledged experts, and evidence are so dissimilar. This reminds me of the global warming debate, or of the long-standing evolution-creationism debacle. In all these cases what seems obvious to the scientist is contested—inevitably because a very powerful anti-scientific agenda is in play. As James Crossley noted in the post-debate conversation,[minute 49] “Paul” is a case in point. For Ehrman and mainstream scholarship, the Apostle was real, a convert to Christianity only a few years after the … Continue reading

Couchoud’s The Creation of Christ uploaded

I am pleased to notify readers that I have uploaded to this website the English translation of Paul-Louis Couchoud’s seminal work The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity (1939; original French edition: Jésus, Le Dieu fait Homme, 1937). The expert translation was executed by C. Bradlaugh Bonner and is in two volumes (229 and 241 pages), each in a separate PDF. I would like to thank Frank Zindler for making the digital translation on two CDs available to me, and also for graciously allowing me to put this important work of Jesus mythicism before the general public. The two PDF’s can be downloaded at the links below and also from the onsite introductory page on P. … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 16

As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented here. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the criteria below. At the bottom of this post is the entire Chapter 16 in the RSV English translation. Both the short and the longer forms of the chapter are color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier Jewish Christian “core,” I have employed the following criteria: The criteria used for color coding are discussed here. The resultant color coding is as follows: [Contained in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark] Green: Possible/probable, or amended in UrMark. STAGE 1: Gnostic. To c. … Continue reading

An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 15

As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented here. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the criteria below. At the bottom of this post is the entire Chapter 15 in the RSV English translation. Both the short and the longer forms of the chapter are color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier Jewish Christian “core,” I have employed the following criteria: The criteria used for color coding are discussed here. The resultant color coding is as follows: [Contained in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark] Green: Possible/probable, or amended in UrMark. STAGE 1: Gnostic. To c. … Continue reading