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

J. W. Wesselius: “The Origin of the History of Israel” (2002)—Review

This book by the Dutch scholar Jan Wim Wesselius presents yet another radical solution to the question hulking over OT studies like a malignant phantom: Who wrote the ancient history of Israel? Much depends on the answer—including the self-proclaimed legitimacy of the modern state of Israel. We recently considered Russell Gmirkin’s answer, which I personally find quite plausible: a group of Jewish scholars penned the Torah in Alexandria, c. 273 BCE, drawing on sources found in the Alexandria Library (particularly Berossus and Manetho). Wesselius presents a very different, but equally provocative, solution to the authorship question as regards the so-called Primary History (Genesis through 2 Kings). His book’s full title is The Origin of the History of Israel: Herodotus’s Histories … Continue reading

R. Gmirkin: Berossus and Genesis (2006)—Review

Though there are a few reviews of Gmirkin’s book it deserves a revisit today, over a decade after publication. Priced at $180, it’s unlikely that many of you have read this important tome. I did so only because the nearby University of Oregon Library possesses a copy. This is not a thoroughgoing review of Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch (New York: t & t Clark 2006), but rather a series of excerpts (see below) presenting its essential thesis and argument. For more details, see Neil Godfrey’s 2012 analyses (here, here, and here), and also Laura Knight Jadczyk’s fine customer review on Amazon.com. At 332, pages, the book contains eleven chapters and … Continue reading

Checking in

This is my first post since “going dark” 10 months ago, following the apocalyptic election of President Donald Trump. In those months I drafted a few posts and put them aside. I will upload them over the next few weeks. One reason is today’s decision by Trump’s FCC to abandon net neutrality. Folks, we don’t know how long controversial content such as this website will exist freely on the Web, and we need to get our opinions out there while we can do so in an unfettered way.   On a personal note, I’ve managed to read a few of the books in my library (as planned)—but nowhere near as many as hoped. I then succumbed, during the summer, to … Continue reading

Blog on furlough…

I’ve decided to use 2017 as an opportunity–long overdue–to actually read the scores of books in my library that are still unread, and also to cross-reference the hundreds of articles in my bulging file cabinets. All this is preparatory to formulating a (hopefully) comprehensive view of Christian beginnings, a view I’ve been tentatively working towards for years. Eventually, I hope to write a long-envisioned book, “A New Account of Christian Origins.” Being almost 65 years old, little precious time may be left to waste… Stepping back like this feels surprisingly good, and it may also be a natural development of the changed political climate that is taking up so much of our attention these days. I’ve given up the Internet … Continue reading

Into the night: Why Trump’s presidency is illegitimate—Pt. 3

It’s not about ethics We all know Trump is a ‘bad’ man—as in immoral, perhaps even amoral. If you’re in any doubt whatsoever on this rather elementary observation, you might refresh yourself on what the most revered religious figures and philosophers through history have said: lying is bad, stealing is bad, bedding down with your neighbor’s wife is bad, even looking upon her with lustful eyes is bad (Jesus, Mt. 5:28)… But poverty is fine (Lk. 6:20), giving away what you possess is fantastic (Mt. 19:21), and worldly riches are bogus (Mt. 6:19). So, yes, Trump is a bad man. But he probably glories in his misdeeds. Certainly, the Donald is neither the first nor the last thief to get … Continue reading

The 2016 election: Yes, this really happened—Pt. 2

As late as 7:20 PM Eastern Time on election day, November 8, 2016, The New York Times rated Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency at 85%. That was less than four hours before Florida was called for Trump at 10:53 PM—the first surprise of the evening, as we saw in the previous post. North Carolina followed for Trump about twenty minutes later—a surprise that was similarly against all the polling. A little later in the evening, the results in the three critical Rust Belt states proved even more surprising. Wisconsin finally put Trump over the 270 electoral vote threshold, though Trump had been given virtually no chance in that state—five out of nine polls had Clinton’s chances there at over … Continue reading

The 2016 election: What really happened?—Pt. 1

Joe Biden: “IT IS OVER” I hope you all witnessed the scene a few days ago as Joe Biden’s gavel descended on the Senate proceedings, bringing a desperate (and uncertain) element of closure to this bizarre 2016 election, and placing a metaphorical fig leaf of legitimacy over the incoming Trump administration’s privates—a shaky fig leaf put there by the Democrats, of all people. In fact, Joe’s gavel descended multiple times as four members of the House of Representatives, all Democrats, voiced their objections to the official tally of the Electoral College in a last gasp, one final attempt to reverse the official election tally that Congress had convened to certify. One objector, Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz), claimed that ten of Florida’s … Continue reading

An immodest proposal: Lock ’em up!

Some good friends recently sent me the following recommendation: We the People of these United States—319 million of us, give or take a few hundred thousand—should locate the 500 richest Americans and gather them into one place. That shouldn’t be too hard. A single large room will be sufficient to seat those 500 persons. Once they are together, we can ask those wealthiest individuals a few questions. The first is: Why should I work for you? It’s a simple question. Not complicated. The People can listen attentively to the reply from the super-rich, some of whom might, however, respond boorishly: “If you don’t work for me, I’ll cut off your head.” Such a response, of course, would not be a … Continue reading