The two Christian messiahs

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 16 Some readers may notice that occasional entries on this weblog change after the initial posting. This is because—when new information requires—I go back and revise passages in older posts to conform to new discoveries. I used to keep the older post in an ‘archive’ section of this site, but I rarely do that anymore because my capacity to revise prior entries is limited by time and energy—after all, there are now over 300 posts on this site! If a book ever results from all this material, that will be the time to revise and put this “New Account of Christian Origins” into proper order. Thankfully, I’ve not yet had to take down a … Continue reading

The early (nonexistent) Church Fathers

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 13 For hundreds of years scholars have been largely relying on the Church Fathers to reconstruct the history of Christianity. The Fathers tell us when something happened, who did it, what the circumstances were, and also the consequences. Regarding the archheretic Marcion, for example, we learn that he was either a nauclerus (Lat. “ship-owner” or “ship-builder”) or the excommunicated son of a bishop (there are two traditions), that he tried to buy his way into the Church, that he was a disciple of a certain Cerdo, that he had a distinguished disciple named Apelles, that he came to Rome in 144 CE and/or 155 CE (again, there are two traditions), etc. And now let … Continue reading

Encratism and the first-century Jesus religion

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 12 To understand the second-century origins of ‘Christ-ianity’ (a religion based on the fleshly, miracle-working Christ), we have to go back and understand the competing forces that eventually split the fellowship. Throughout the first century, as we have seen, the “Christ” did not exist—that awesome figure from Nazareth had not yet been invented. What did exist was belief in the spirit of God, a spirit of wisdom that can save ( –> Jesus, “Savior”), sometimes simply referred to as “the Lord”: 1.    … 2.    I am putting on the love of the Lord.       And His members are with Him,       And I am dependent on them; and He loves me. 3.    For I should not have known how … Continue reading

The obliteration of Gnosticism from early Christian history

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 5 The chronology of Christian origins being developed on this website places the appearance of the canonical gospels in the 140s CE, the canonization of the NT c. 200 CE, and the final Christianization of the Roman Empire in early IV CE. Those are three late highpoints. Christian chronology, for me, begins before the turn of the era—with the life and ministry of Yeshu ha-Nostri (c. 100–c. 66 BCE). According to this extended chronology a full two hundred years transpired between the crucifixion of Yeshu and the appearance of the canonical gospels. That’s a long time and plenty could (and did) happen in those centuries. The Church Fathers—who suddenly begin writing in mid-II CE—witness … Continue reading

John the Baptist in Josephus—Pt. 2

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 2 The Authenticity of John the Baptist in Josephus (continued) Arguments for inauthenticity By his own admission, Kirby’s points are indecisive as regards the authenticity or inauthenticity of the John the Baptist passage in Josephus (Ant. 18.116-119; Whiston’s chapter 18.5.2). In the second half of his article he argues mainly against Frank Zindler (The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, pp. 88–99), who raised a number of points against authenticity. Kirby also argues against Robert Price, citing rebuttals by Maurice Casey (d. 2014). This is revealing, for Casey believed “that the documents on Jesus of greatest historical value are the Gospel of Mark and the Pauline epistles.” Right. The Pauline epistles have next to nothing … Continue reading

Yeshu ha-Notsri as founder of Christianity–Pt. 7: Not of the world

Talmudic records relate, as we have seen, that the nasi Joshua ben Perachiah excommunicated Yeshu ha-Notsri (literally, “Jesus the Nazarene”) on their way back from exile in Alexandria, Egypt, probably in 76 BCE, the year that the anti-Pharisee King Janneus died and his pro-Pharisee wife Salome Alexandra ascended to the throne. If we combine Ibn Daud’s chronology with what we learn from Talmudic passages, it appears that Yeshu was twenty-four years old at the time. Yeshu would not have been able to return to Israel with impunity. After all, excommunication is not merely a ban from pharisaism—it is the final, complete, and irrevocable expulsion from Judaism. For a young man raised in the entourage of the Sanhedrin (his association with … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chp. 77

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         Jesus’ explanations related to The Parable of the Three Vinedressers 44a. [Jesus said] “Truly I say to you, that on the day of judgement many will say to God, ‘Lord, we have preached and taught according to Your law.’ Against them even the stones will cry out, saying ‘When you preached to others, with your own tongue you condemned yourselves, O workers of iniquity.’      “As God lives,” continued Jesus, “he who knows the truth and yet works the contrary will be punished with such grievous penalty that Satan himself will be moved with compassion for him. Tell me, now, has our God given us the law for knowing or for … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chp. 76

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         The Parable of the Three Vinedressers 43. [Jesus said] “I will give you an example. There was a man who had three vineyards which he let out to three vinedressers. Now, the first vinedresser did not even know how to cultivate a vineyard, and it brought forth nothing more than leaves.      “The second vinedresser taught the third how the vines ought to be cultivated. And the third vinedresser carefully listened and cultivated his vineyard as he was instructed, so that his vineyard bore much fruit.      “Now, though the second vinedresser instructed the third, he left his own vineyard uncultivated, spending his time solely in talking.      “When the time came to … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 73–75

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         36. “The flesh of man loves sin as he who has fever loves water.”        [LXXIII:75a, p. 169] COMMENT: An encratite saying (< Gk. egkrates, “continence”). Encratism does not exist in noarmative Judaism, as defined by the writings in the Tanakh (the “Old Testament,” in which the enjoyment of all of God’s creation—including of the body and of sexuality—is celebrated). However, encratism came to the Levant about the turn of the era and, indeed, it arrived at about the same time as the origins of Christianity. To understand the roots of encratism is most instructive, for those roots are clearly in far distant Buddhism. After all, nothing in the Levant—neither Judaism nor … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 65–72

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         30. [Jesus] said, “The flesh attracts sin and sucks up iniquity even as a sponge sucks up water.”        [LXVI:68b, p. 155] • No parallel. COMMENT: Because ‘the flesh’ is irretrievably sinful, the implications of this logion are the way of asceticism: denial, renunciation of pleasure, and mortification of the flesh. This religious view is known as encratism (< Gk. egkrateia, continence). It had a profound effect on early Christianity, as witnessed not only by the many encratite logia found even in the canonical gospels (Mt 5:28 etc), but by works such as the apocryphal acts of the apostles (Acts of Thomas, Paul, etc) and the many encratite tractates from the Nag … Continue reading