I initially wrote and formatted this study guide for RLCL 2424 entirely in HTML. Yea, that's a lot of damage – I don't think I'm going to go back and change in anytime soon, so pardon the weird hyperlink highlighting. The guide itself is semi-exhaustive 🙏.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 & 2 - Early Christians and Their Literature
- Chapter 3 - The Traditions of Jesus in Their Greco-Roman Context
- Chapter 4 - The Christian Gospels: A Literary and Historical Introduction to Oral Tradition
- Chapter 5 - The Spread of Early Christianity
- Chapter 6 - A brief Overview of Roman Literature
- Chapter 7 - The Gospel of Mark
- Chapter 8 - The Synoptic Problem
- Chapter 9 - The Gospel of Matthew: The Jewish Messiah
- Chapter 10 - The Gospel of Luke: Exegesis of Good & Evil
- Chapter 19 - Luke Volume 2: Electric Boogaloo - Acts of the Apostles
- Chapter 11 - The Gospel of John : Jesus, the Man sent from Heaven
- Chapter 12 - From John's Jesus to the Gnostic Christ
- Chapter 13 - Jesus from Different Perspectives
- Chapter 14 - Historical Jesus and an Introduction to Apocalypticism
- Chapter 15 - Excursus: The Problem of Miracles
- Chapter 17 - Jesus: The Apocalyptic Prophet
- Chapter 18 - From Jesus to the Gospels
- Chapter 20 - Paul, the Apostle
- Chapter 21 - Thessalonians: the First Epistle
- Chapter 21 - 1,2 Corinthians
- Chapter 22 - Galatians
- Chapter 23 - Romans: The Gospel According to Paul
- Chapter 24 - Paul in Relation to Jesus, James, Thecla, & Theudas
- Chapter 25 - In The Wake of Paul: Deutero-Pauline Epistles
- Chapter 27 - The Christians & the Jews: Hebrews & Barnabas
- Chapter 28 - Christians and Pagans: 1 Peter, Ignatius, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, and Late Apologetics
- Chapter 29 - Women in the Early Church: Intersection of Gender and the Apocalypse
- Chapter 30 - Christians and the Cosmos: Revelation
- Chapter 31 - Revelation: 144,000 Male Virgins, Professor Lynn Huber
- Rough Timeline
Adoptionism - The view that Jesus was not divine, but a flesh-and-blood human being who had been adopted at baptism to be God's son.
Aeons - In Gnostic myth, divine beings who are offspring to the one true, unknowable God.
Alexander the Great - The great military leader of Macedonia (356-323 B.C.E.) whose armies conquered much of the eastern Mediterranean and who was responsible for the spread of Greek culture (Hellenism) throughout the lands he conquered.
Antiochus Epiphanes - The Syrian monarch who attempted to force the Jews of Palestine to adopt Greek culture, leading to the Maccabean revolt in 167 B.C.E.
Antithesis - Literally, a "contrary statement" - designating six sayings of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5:21–48), in which he states a Jewish Law ("You have heard it said…"), then places his own interpretation on it ("But I say to you…").
Apocalypse - A literary genre in which an author, usually pseudonymous, describes symbolic and often bizarre visions that reveal the heavenly mysteries that make sense of earthly realities.
Apocalypticism - A world view held throughout the ancient world by many, Jews and Christians, that claimed that the present age is controlled by forces of evil, which would be destroyed at the end of time, when God would intervene in history to bring in his kingdom. This event was thought to be imminent.
Apocrypha - A Greek term meaning, literally, "hidden things," used of books on the fringe of the Jewish or Christian canons of Scripture. The Jewish Apocrypha comprises books found in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible, including 1 and 2 Maccabees and 4 Ezra.
Apollonius of Tyana - A pagan philosopher and holy man of the first century C.E., reported to do miracles and to deliver divinely inspired teachings, a man believed by some of his followers to be a son of God.
Apology - A reasoned explanation and justification of one's beliefs and/or practices, from a Greek word meaning "defense."
Aposde - Generally, one who is commissioned to perform a task, from a Greek word meaning "sent"; in early Christianity, the term was used to designate special emissaries of the faith who were understood to be representatives of Christ. See also Disciple.
Apostle - From a Greek word meaning "one who is sent." In early Christianity, the term designated emissaries of the faith who were special representatives of Christ.
Apostolic Fathers - A collection of noncanonical writings penned by proto- orthodox Christians of the second century who were traditionally thought to have been followers of the apostles; some of these works were considered Scripture in parts of the early church.
Apostolic Succession - The proto-orthodox claim that leaders of the major churches had been appointed by the successors of the apostles themselves, so that their authority could be traced back to Jesus' hand-chosen followers.
Asclepius - A popular Greek god known in particular for his ability to heal the sick.
Associations, Voluntary - In the Greco-Roman world, privately organized small groups of people who shared common interests and met periodically to socialize, enjoy common meals, and conduct business; two of the best known types were trade associations (composed of members of the same profession) and burial societies.
Athanasius - An influential fourth-century Church Father and bishop of the large and important church in Alexandria, Egypt. Athanasius was the first church writer to list our twenty-seven New Testament books (and only those books) as forming the canon.
Atonement - The doctrine that indicates how a person who is condemned by sin can be placed in a right standing before God by means of a sacrifice. In traditional Christian teaching, it is Christ's death that brings atonement.
Augurs - A group of pagan priests in Rome who could interpret the will of the gods by "taking the auspices." See also Auspicy.
Auspicy - A form of divination in which specially appointed priests could determine the will of the gods by observing the flight patterns or eating habits of birds. See also Divination.
Augusts, Caesar - See Octavian.
Autograph - The original manuscript of a document, from a Greek word that means "the writing itself."
Baptism - From the Greek term baptizo, which means "to immerse." The earliest Christian practice of baptism in water appears to have been an initiation rite (a ritual that one underwent when joining the Christian community); it probably derived from the practice of John the Baptist, who baptized Jews, including Jesus, in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the end of this age and the coming of the Kingdom of God. (Jewish cleansing rituals were repeated as the need arose; John's baptism, like the Christians' later, appears to have been a one-time occurrence.) Later Christians assigned other meanings to the rite: the apostle Paul, for example, saw it as the mystical act of dying with Christ to sin. See also Participationist Model.
Beatitudes - Literally, "blessings." The sayings of Jesus that begin the Sermon on the Mount (e.g., "Blessed are the poor in spirit…," Matthew 5:3–12).
Beloved Disciple - Nickname for the "disciple whom jesus loved" in the Gospel of John, who plays a prominent role in the Passion narrative but is never named. Older tradition identified him as John the son of Zebedee and claimed that is was he who wrote the Gospel.
Biography (Greco-Roman) - A literary genre consisting of a narrative of an individual's life, often within a chronological framework, employing numerous subgenres (such as sayings, speeches, anecdotes, and conflict stories) so as to reflect important aspects of his or her character, principally for purposes of instruction, exhortation, or propaganda.
Bishop - Translation from Greek term, episkopos, which literally means "overseer." Early in the history of the Christian church, bishops were the leaders who had oversight of the life the community.
Caiaphas - The Jewish high priest at the time of Jesus' death.
Canon - From a Greek word meaning "ruler" or "straight edge." Ssed to designate a recognized collection of texts; the New Testament canon is the collection of books that Christians have accepted as authoritative.
Catholic - From a Greek word meaning "universal" or "general," used of the New Testament epistles James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, and sometimes Hebrews (the "Catholic" epistles) to differentiate them from the letters of Paul.
Charismatic Communities - Communities of believers were led not by appointed leaders but by the Spirit of God, which had bestowed a particular gift (Greek: charisma), useful for the functioning of the entire group, upon each member of the community. According to Paul (see 1 Cor 12-14), the gifts (charismata) included such abilities as teaching, preaching, healing, prophesying, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and so on.
Chief Priests - The leaders of the priests of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Many of them would have been actively involved in the Sanhedrin; their ultimate leader was the high priest.
Christ - Christian/Greek word that became synonymous with Messiah
Christology - Any teaching about the nature of Christ. (high/low). See also Adoptionism, Docetis.
Clement of Rome - One of the early leaders ("bishops") of the church of Rome, around 95 C.E., who is the traditional author of the noncanonical book 1 Clement.
Constantine - Roman emperor in the early fourth century, the first emperor to convert Christianity. Constantine's conversion played a highly significant role in the spread of Christianity, as it mover from being a persecuted minority religion to becoming the powerful majority religion of the empire.
Redaction Criticism - The study of how authors modified or edited (i.e., redacted) their sources in view of their own vested interests and concerns.
Textual Criticism - A discipline that attempts to establish the original wording of a text on the basis of its surviving manuscripts.
Criterion of Contextual Credibility - Commonly used to establish historically reliable material from the life of Jesus. If a saying or deed of Jesus does not plausibly fit into a 1st-century Palestinian context, then it cannot be accepted as authentic.
Criterion of Dissimilarity - Used to establish historically reliable material from the life of Jesus. If a saying or deed of Jesus appears to conflict with the vested interests of Christians who preserved the traditions, it is likely to be authentic.
Criterion of Independent Attestation - Used to establish historically reliable material from the life of Jesus. If a saying or deed of Jesus is attested by more than one independent source, it is more likely to be authentic.
Cosmos - The Greek word for "world."
Covenant - An agreement or treaty between two social or political parties. Ancient Jews used the term to refer to the pact God made with the Jewish ancestors to protect and preserve Israel as his chosen people in exchange for their devotion and adherence to his Law.
Cult - Shortened form of "cultus deorum," a Latin phrase that literally means "care of the gods." The term is generally used for any set of religious or liturgical practices of worship, such as sacrifice and prayer.
Cynics - commonly portrayed as street preachers who harangued their audiences and urged them to find true freedom by being liberated from all social conventions. The Cynics' decision to live "according to nature" with none of the niceties of life led their opponents to call them "dogs" (in Greek, cynes).
Daimonia - Category of divine beings in the Greco-Roman world. Daimonia were widely thought to be less powerful than the gods but far more powerful than humans and capable of influencing human lives.
Day of Atonement - In Hebrew, Yom Kippur, the one day of the year when the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple, to sacrifice first an animal to atone for his own sins, and then another animal to atone for the sins of the people of Israel.
Deacon - A Greek word that literally means "one who ministers." In the early church deacons were Christian leaders given the responsibility of tending to the physical needs of the community (e.g., through the distribution of alms).
Dead Sea Scrolls - A collection of ancient Jewish writings discovered in several caves near the northwest edge of the Dead Sea. Widely thought to have belonged to a group of apocalyptically minded Essenes who lived in a monastic-like community from the mid-2nd century B.C. up through the Jewish War of 66–70 C.E.
Deutero-Pauline Epistles - Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, letters that have a "secondary" (= deutero) standing among the Pauline epistles because scholars debate whether they were actually written by Paul.
Diatessaron - A "Gospel Harmony"produced by the mid-second-century Syrian Christian Tatian, who took the Four Gospels and combined their stories into one long narrative (Diatessaron literally means "through the four": this then is the one long narrative told through the four accounts).
Diatribe - A rhetorical device used by Greek and Latin authors, including the apostle Paul, in which an imaginary opponent raises objections to one's views only to be answered successfully, so as to move an argument forward. (Paul uses the diatribe, for example, in his letter to the Romans.)
Disciple - A follower, one who is "taught" (as opposed to an "apostle" = an emissary, one who is "sent"). In the New Testament, a common designation of one of Jesus' "12" specially chosen followers.
Divination - Any practice used to ascertain the will of the gods. See also Auspicy; Extispicy.
Docetism - The view that Jesus was not a human being but only appeared to be, from a Greek word meaning "to seem" or "to appear."
Domitian - Roman emperor from 81 to 96 C.E.; most scholars believe he was emperor when the book of Revelation, and its attack on the Roman Empire, was composed.
Ebionites - A group of second-century Adoptionists who maintained Jewish practices and Jewish forms of worship.
Egyptian, The - A Jewish apocalyptic prophet of the first century C.E. who predicted the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem, mentioned by Josephus.
Elder - See Presbyter.
Epicureans - Ancient groups of followers of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who maintained that the gods were removed from the concerns of human life and so were not to be feared or placated. Happiness came in establishing a peaceful harmony with other like-minded people and enjoying the simple pleasures of daily existence.
Epistle - Another designation for a private letter. Some scholars have differentiated between "epistles" as literary writings in the form of a letter, which were meant for general distribution, rather than for an individual recipient, and "letters," which were nonliterary form of personal correspondence. This differentiation between epistles and letters is not widely held today, however, so that the terms tend to be used synonymously.
Equestrian - The second-highest socioeconomic class of ancient Rome (below Senator), comprising wealthy aristocrats.
Eschatology - Literally the "study of (or doctrine of) the end times." A technical term that is used to describe notions of what will happen at the "end" -- either the end of a person's life or, more commonly, the end of the world.
Essenes - An apocalyptically oriented Jewish sect, some of whom started their own monastic-like communities to preserve their purity in anticipation of the coming end of the world; e.g., the community at Qumran, whose members are widely believed to have produced the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Eusebius - Early-fourth-century Church Father known as the "Father of Church History," as his ten-volume book, History of the Christian Church, was the first to provide an extensive chronicle of Christianity's early years, from the days of Jesus down to Eusebius's own time (the early part of the reign of Constantine). Eusebius is the primary source of information for many of the events and writers of the first three centuries of the church.
Extispicy - A form of divination in Greek and Roman religions in which a specially appointed priest (haruspex) would examine the entrails of a sacrificed animal to determine whether it had been accepted by the gods. See also Haruspex.
Farewell Discourse - The final discourse that Jesus delivers in the Gospel of John (and not found in the Synoptics), chapters 13-16 (sometimes thought to include Jesus' prayer of chap. 17 as well); this discourse may have been created by combining two different accounts of Jesus' last words to his disciples before his arrest.
Firstfruits of the Resurrection - A phrase used by the apostle Paul to refer to Jesus as the first one to be raised from the dead. It is an agricultural image referring to the celebration held at the end of the first day of the harvest, in anticipation of going out to bring in the rest of the crops (the next day). If Jesus is the "firstfruits," then the rest of the resurrection (i.e., everyone else's resurrection) will happen happen very soon.
Four-Source Hypothesis - A solution to the "Synoptic Problem" that maintains that there are four sources that lie behind the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke:
- Mark was the source for much of the narrative of Matthew and Luke;
- Q was the source for the sayings found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark;
- M provided the material found only in Matthew's Gospel;
- L provided the material found only in Luke
Fourth Philosophy - A group of Jews that Josephus mentions but leaves unnamed, characterized by their insistence on violent opposition to the foreign domination of the Promised Land. See also Sicarii; Zealots.
Fulfillment Citations - A literary device used by Matthew in which he states that something experienced or done by Jesus "fulfilled" what was spoken of by a Hebrew prophet in Scripture.
Gamaliel - A famous rabbi of first-century C.E. Judaism.
Gematria - Jewish method of interpreting a word on the basis of the numerical value of its letters (in both Greek and Hebrew, the letters of the alphabet also serve as numerals.)
General History - A genre of ancient literature that traced the significant events in the history of a people to show how their character (as a people) was established. Examples of the genre include Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews and the Acts of the Apostles.
Genius - A man's guardian spirit (that of a woman was called Iuno).
Genre - A kind of literature with specific literary features; in the modern world, for example, there are short stories, novels, and limerick poems (each with their own distinctive features); in the ancient world there were biographies, epic poems, general histories --and many other genres. The major genres of the New Testament are Gospels (which are most like religious biographies), Acts (most like general histories), epistles, and apocalypses.
Gentile - A Jewish term for a non-Jew.
Gnosticism - A group of ancient religions, closely related to Christianity, that maintained that sparks of a divine being had become entrapped in the present, evil world and could escape only by acquiring the appropriate secret gnosis (Greek for "knowledge") of who they were and how they could escape. This gnosis was generally thought to have been brought by an emissary descended from the divine realm.
Golden Rule - Found in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, this is Jesus' saying that you should "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A similar teaching can be found in a range of pagan and Jewish ethical teachers both before and after Jesus.
Gospel - When uncapitalized, it refers not to a book but to the proclamation of the "good news" (from the Greek word euaggelion) of Christ's salvation (e.g., the gospel of Paul is his message, not a book that he used).
Gospel - When capitalized, it refers to a literary genre: a written account of the "good news: brought by Jesus Christ, including episodes involving his words and/or deeds (e.g., the Gospel of Luke or Peter).
Gospel Harmony - Any literary attempt to take several Gospels and combine them into a longer, more complete Gospel, by incorporating the various accounts into one, such as Tatian's Diatessaron.
Greco-Roman World - The lands and culture of the Mediterranean from Alexander the Great through the early Roman Empire (c. 300 B.C. to A.D. 300).
Hanina ben Dosa - A well-known Galilean rabbi of the first century, who was reputed to have done miracles comparable to those of Jesus.
Haruspex - In Roman religion, a specially trained priest skilled in the practice of extispicy.
Hasmoneans - An alternative name for the Maccabeans, the family of Jewish priests that began the revolt against Syria in 167 B.C.E. and that ruled Israel prior to the Roman conquest of 63 B.C.E.
Hellenization - The spread of Greek language and culture (Hellenism) across the Mediterranean, starting with the conquests of Alexander the Great.
Heracleon - Gnostic living around 170 C.E. who wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John, the first known to have been written by a Christian on any part of the bible.
Heresy - Any worldview or set of beliefs deemed by those in power to be deviant, from a Greek word meaning "choice" (because "heretics" have "chosen" to deviate from the "truth".) See also Orthodoxy.
Herod Antipas - Son of Herod the Great, and ruler of Galilee from 4- 39 C.E.; this is the Herod who executed John the Baptist and who was involved with the trial of Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke (and the Gospel of Peter).
Herodians - A group of Jewish leaders, according to the Gospel of Mark, who were allegedly allied closely with the family of Herod and were thought, therefore, to be collaborators with the Romans.
Herod the Great - Ruler of all of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea (and so "king of the Jews") from 40 - 4 B.C.E; this Herod was allegedly ruling when Jesus was born, and is known in Christian history for killing all the baby boys of bethlehem in an attempt to destroy the infant Jesus (based on theaccount in Matthew).
High Priest - Prior to 70 C.E., the highest-ranking authority in Judaism when there was no Jewish king, in charge of the operation of the Jerusalem Temple and its priests. See also Sadducees; Sanhedrin.
Historiography - The literary reconstruction of historical events; the writing of history; and the study and analysis of historical narrative.
Holy of Holies - The innermost room in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, separated from the rest of the Temple by a thick curtain, where God was believed to dwell. No one was allowed to enter this room, except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement to make a sacrifice for the sins of the people.
Honi the "Circle Drawer" - A first century B.C.E. Galilean who was reputed to have done miracles and had experiences similar to those of Jesus.
House of Churches - For centuries Christian communities did not meet in buildings specially built for the purpose, but in private homes. Often it was the owner of the home who was the leader of the church. Such communities, which met for worship, instruction, fellowship, and the celebration of rituals such as baptism and the Eucharist, are known as house churches.
Ialdabaoth - In Gnostic tests, the name of the Creator-God (i.e., the "Demiurge").
"I Am" Sayings - A group of sayings found only in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus identifies himself. In some of the sayings he speaks in metaphor ("I am the bread of life," "I am the light of the world," "I am the way, the truth, and the life,"), and other times he identifies himself simply by saying "I am" -- a possible reference to the name of God from Exodus 3 ("Before Abraham was, I am"; John 8:58).
Ignatius - Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch, Syria, in the early second century. He was arrested by the Roman authorities for Christian activities and sent to Rome in order to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On his journey to martyrdom, he wrote seven letters, which still survive. These letters are included among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.
Insula - Ancient apartment buildings in which the ground floor was used for shops and businesses, and the upper floor was used for residences. The apostle Paul evidently set up his (leather goods?) business and stayed in insula in the various towns where he evangelized.
Irenaeus - Famous proto-orthodox Church Father and "heresiologist" (i.e., "heresy hunter") of the second century, whose five-volume work Against Heresies, written around 180 C.E., is a major source of information for Gnostic and other "heretical" groups.
Isis - Egyptian goddess worshipped in mystery cults throughout the Roman world.
Jesus, Son of Ananias - A Palestinian Jew (discussed by Josephus) who, like Jesus of Nazareth, was an apocalyptic preacher of the coming end of the age; like Jesus he was arrested and prosecuted for his revolutionary proclamation, although he was not executed for his crimes. He was inadvertently killed during the siege of Jerusalem in the first Jewish revolt 66-70 C.E.
Johannine Community - The community of Christians in which the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles were written. We do not know where the community was located, but we can reconstruct some of its history using the socio-historical method.
Josephus - First-century Jewish historian, appointed court historian by the Roman emperor Vespasian, whose works The Jewish War and The Antiquities of the Jews are principal resources for information about the life in first-century Palestine.
Judaizer - A Christian who insists that followers of Jesus need to keep (all parts of) the Jewish Law in order to have a right standing before God (a view held, for example, by Paul's opponents in Galatia).
Judas Maccabeus - Jewish patriot who led the family responsible for spearheading the Maccabean revolt. See also Hasmoneans.
Judicial Model - One of the two models of salvation used by Paul, especially in his letter to the Romans. The model conceives of salvation as a legal process, in which God, who is both lawmaker and judge, treats humans as "not guilty" for their sins (i.e., acts of disobedience) against his Law because he has accepted Jesus' death as a substation for payment
Justification - to be made right before God
Justification By Faith - The idea that lies at the heart of Paul's "judicial model." A person is "made right" (= justified) with God by having faith in Christ's death and resurrection, rather than by doing what is required of Jews in the Law of Moses.
Justin Martyr - One of the earliest "apologists," Justin lived in Rome in the mid-second century.
Kingdom of God - In teachings of Jesus, the Kingdom of God (or God's Reign) appears to refer to an actual Kingdom that will come to earth to replace the wicked kingdoms that are now in control of affairs, and of God's people, here. This would be a utopian Kingdom where truth, peace, and justice were restored; it would be ruled by God's anointed one (i.e., the messiah).
L Source - A document (or documents), which may have been written or oral and no longer survives, that provided Luke with traditions that are not found in Matthew or Mark.
Lares - Household deities commonly worshiped in homes throughout the Roman world, thought to protect the home and its inhabitants, and often identified with the spirits of the family's ancestors.
Law - See Torah.
M Source - A document (or documents), which may have been written or oral and no longer survives, that provided Matthew with traditions that are not found in Mark or Luke.
Maccabean Revolt - The Jewish uprising against the Syrians and their king, Antiochus Epiphanes, starting in 167 B.C.E., in protest against the forced imposition of Hellenistic culture and the proscription of Jewish practices such as circumcision. See also Hasmoneans.
Magic - A term that is notoriously hard to define, "magic" usually refers to religious practices that are not sanctioned by society at large or by the community in which they are found. Sometimes magic is referred to as the "dark side" of religion, involving sacred activities and words that are socially marginalized.
Manuscript - Any handwritten copy of a text.
Marcion - A second-century Christian scholar and evangelist, later labeled a heretic for his docetic Christology and his belief in two Gods the harsh legalistic God of the Jews and the merciful loving God of Jesus – views that he claimed to have found in the writings of Paul.
Marcus Aurelius - Roman emperor from 161 - 180 C.E., best known for his writings of Stoic philosophy, but known in Christian sources for ruling when some of the most violent persecutions against Christians occurred.
Markan Priority - The view that Mark was the first of the Synoptic Gospels to be written and was one of the sources used by Matthew and Luke.
Martyr - From the Greek word martas, which literally means "witness." Christian martyrs are those who "bear witness" to Christ even to the point of death.
Melchizedek - A shadowy figure first mentioned in Genesis 14, as a king to whom Abraham, the father of the jews, paid tithes from his spoils of battle. Later Christians, such as the author of Hebrews, understood Melchizedek to be a prefiguration of Christ, who was greater than all things Jewish (and hence worshipped by the father of the Jews).
Melito of Sardis - A 2nd-century Christian leader from Sardis (in Asia Minor) whose eloquent sermon on the Old Testament story of Exodus casts harsh recriminations against the Jews, accusing them of committing deicide.
Messiah - From a Hebrew word that means "anointed one," which translates into Greek as Christos (whence our English word, Christ). The 1st century A.D. saw a variety of expectations of what this future anointed one might be look like. Some Jews expected a future warrior king like David; others, a cosmic judge from heaven; others, an authoritative priestly interpreter of the Law; and others, a powerful prophet from God, like Moses.
Messianic Secret - Tis is a technical term used for one of the intriguing literary features of the Gospel of Mark, which is that even though Jesus is show to be the Messiah, he tries to keep his identity secret (e.g., by silencing those who recognize him by hushing up the reports of his miracles).
Mishnah - A collection of oral traditions that goes back to the oral laws of the Pharisees. These traditions were passed on by generations of Jewish rabbis until they were put into writing around 200 A.D. See Talmud
Mithras - A Persian deity worshipped in a mystery cult spread throughout the Roman world.
Monotheism - The belief that there is only one God (sometimes distinguished from "henotheism," which acknowledges that other gods exist, but insists that only one is to be worshipped).
Muratorian Fragment - A fragmentary text discovered in the eighteenth century, named after its Italian discoverer Muratori, which contains, in Latin, a list of Christian books that its author considered canonical; the canon is usually considered to have been produced in the late second century, in or around Rome.
Mystery Cults - A group of Greco-Roman religions that focused on the devotees' individual needs both in this life and in life after death, so named because their initiation rituals and cultic practices involved the disclosure of hidden things that were to be kept secret from outsiders.
Nag Hammadi - Village in Upper (South) Egypt, near the place where a collection of Gnostic writings, including the Gospel of Thomas, was discovered in 1945.
Nero - Roman emperor from 54 - 68 C.E. Under his reign both Peter and Paul were allegedly martyred in Rome, as part of his persecution of Christians for the fire that destroyed much of the city (the Roman historian Tacitus indicates that Nero himself was responsible for the fire in order to expand the royal palaces)
Novel - Ancient genre of literature. Novels in the Greek and Roman worlds were fictionalized narratives that normally told of the tragic separation of lovers and the various mishaps the experienced in their attempts to become reunited. Novels typically included stories of travels, shipwrecks, piracy, banditry, enslavement, and persecution; they typically contained dialogues, speeches, and private letters. Some scholars have argued that the book of Acts is very much like and Ancient novel.
Octavian - The first Roman emperor, ruling from 27 B.C.E. - 14 C.E. Octavian was the great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, and a great general who brought unity to Rome after it had experienced prolonged and bloody civil wars. Early in his reign Octavian assumed the name "Caesar Augustus," which means something like "most revered emperor."
Oracle - A sacred place where the gods answered questions brought by their worshippers to the resident holy person - a priest or, more commonly, a priestess--who. would often deliver the divine response out of a trance-like state; the term can also refer to the divine answer itself.
Origen - A Christian philosopher and theologian from early-third-century Alexandra, Egypt, who wrote one of the best known Christian apologies.
Orthodoxy - From the Greek, literally meaning "right opinion"; a term used to designate a worldview or set of beliefs acknowledged to be true by the majority of those in power. See also Heresy.
Paganism - Any of the polytheistic religions of the Greco-Roman world; an umbrella term for ancient Mediterranean religions other than Judaism and Christianity.
Papyrus - A reed that grows around the Nile; used in antiquity to manufacture a paper-like writing surface.
Parousia - A Greek word meaning "presence" or "coming," used as a technical term to refer to the Second Coming of Jesus in judgment at the end of time.
Participationist Model - One of the two models of salvation used by Paul, especially in his letter to the Romans. This model understood sin to be a cosmic force that brought people into slavery. Salvation was seen as a liberation from the bondage to sin, which came by participating in Christ's death through baptism. See judicial model.
Passion - From the Greek word for "suffering." The Passion is used as a technical term for the traditions of Jesus' last days, including his crucifixion (hence, the "Passion narrative").
Passover - The most important and widely celebrated annual festival of ancient Jews, which commemorated the Exodus from Egypt under Moses.
Pastoral Epistles - New Testament letters that Paul allegedly wrote to two pastors, Timothy (1 and 2 Timothy) and Titus, concerning their pastoral duties. Most critical scholars doubt whether Paul actually wrote them.
Pauline Corpus - All the letters of the New Testament that claim Paul as their author, including the Deutero-Pauline and Pastoral epistles.
Penates - Household deities commonly worshipped throughout the Roman world, thought to protect the pantry and foodstuffs in the home.
Pentateuch - Literally, the "five scrolls." The term designates the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Law (or Torah) of Moses.
Pentecost - A Jewish agricultural festival that was celebrated 50 days after Passover (the Greek word for 50 is pentakosia).
Perpetua - An upper-class Christian woman of Carthage, North Africa, who along with her slave Felicitas was martyred by being thrown to the wild beasts in 203 C.C.; we have an account of their martyrdom that includes a diary allegedly from Perpetua's own hand.
Persephone - Daughter of the Greek goddess Demeter, reported to have been abducted to the underworld by Hades but allowed to return to life every year to be reunited temporarily with her grieving mother; also known as Kore.
Pesher - An ancient Jewish way of interpreting Scripture, used commonly in the commentaries from the Dead Seas Scrolls, in which a text was explained as having its fulfillment in person or events of the present day.
Pharisees - A Jewish sect during the days of Jesus that emphasized strict adherence to the laws of the Torah and developed a set of "oral" laws to help them follow this "written" law of Moses.
Philo - A famous Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century, who saw the Jewish Scriptures as completely compatible with the insights of Greek philosophy and worked to interpret them accordingly.
Philosophy - In the Roman world of the New Testament, the philosophy (which literally means "love of wisdom") involved trying to understand the world and humans' place in it, so as to promote individual happiness through proper behavior and right thinking. Leading philosophical schools at the time were the Epicureans, Platonists, Stoics, and Cynics.
Plato - Famous Greek philosopher from fourth-century B.C.E. Athens, many of whose ideas -- including the tension between the realms of matter and spirit-- influenced Christian thinkers in the early centuries of the church.
Pliny the Younger - Roman aristocrat who ruled the province of Bithynia-Pontus in the early second century C.E., and whose correspondence with emperor Trajan contains the earliest reference to Christ in a pagan source.
Plutarch - Famous philosopher, historian, and biographer of the second century (46 - 120 C.E.), known particularly for his essays on moral philosophy and biographies of famous Greek and Roman men.
Polycarp - Bishop of Smyrna in the first half of the second century, and one of the best known of the early proto-orthodox leaders. In addition to a letter written to him by Ignatius, we have a letter written by him to the church in Philippi, and an allegedly eyewitness account of his martyrdom in the arena of Smyrna around 165 C.E.
Polytheism - The belief that there are many gods, a belief that lies at the heart of all of the ancient pagan religions.
Pontius Pilate - Roman aristocrat who served as the governor of Judea from 26 - 36 C.E., and who was responsible for ordering Jesus' crucifixion.
Presbyter - From a Greek word that literally means "elder." The term came to apply not to older men, but in particular to the leaders of the Christian churches who were principally in charge of spiritual (as opposed to material) affairs (contrast "deacon"); eventually the lead presbyter came to be known as the "overseer" (i.e., the bishop).
Prescript - The formal beginning of an epistle, normally including the names of the sender and the addressees, a greeting, and often a prayer or wish for good health.
Prophet - In ancient Israelite religion, a prophet was a person who delivered God's message to his people; eventually the term came to refer to writers who produced literary accounts of God's word (e.g., Isaiah and Jeremiah). In Christian circles, prophets were those who spoke God's message in the community's services of worship, possibly, on occasion, in a state of ecstasy.
Proto-orthodox Christianity - A form of Christianity endorsed by some Christians of the second and third centuries (including the Apostolic Fathers), which promoted doctrines that were declared "orthodox" in the fourth and later centuries by the victorious Christian party, in opposition to such groups as the Ebionites, the Marcionites, and the Gnostics.
Pseudepigrapha - From the Greek, literally meaning "false writings" and commonly referring to ancient non-canonical Jewish and Christian literary texts, many of which were written pseudonymously.
Pseudonymity - The practice of writing under a "false name," as is evident in a number of pagan, Jewish, and Christian writings from antiquity.
Q Source - Source used by Matthew and Luke for the sayings and stories they did not derive from Mark. The source is called Q from the German word quelle, "source." The document is hypothetical (it no longer exists) and is reconstructed by studying the traditions in Matthew and Luke that are not found in Mark.
Qumran - Place near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946, evidently home to the group of Essenes who had used the Scrolls as part of their library.
Resident Aliens - In the Roman empire, persons who took up a permanent residence in a place that was not their original home and in which they did not enjoy the benefits of citizenship.
Resurrection - The doctrine originally devised within the circles of apocalyptic Judaism that maintained that at the end of the present age, those who had died would be brought back to life in order to face judgement: either torment for those who opposed God or reward for those who sided with God. The earliest Christians believe that Jesus has been raised, and concluded therefore that the end of the age had already begun (See Firstfruits of the Resurrection). In Christian apocalyptic thought, it was believed that the rewards and punishments in the future resurrection would hinge on one's relationship to Christ, as a believer or nonbeliever.
Rhetoric - The art of persuasion; in the Greco-Roman world, this involved training in the construction and analysis of argumentation and was the principal subject of higher education.
Roman Empire - All the lands (including Palestine) that were conquered by Rome and were ruled, ultimately, by the Roman emperor, starting with Caesar Augustus in 27 B.C. Before Augustus, Rome was a republic, ruled by the Senate.
Sadducees - A Jewish sect associated with the Temple cult and the Jewish priests who ran it. The sect appears to have been made up of the Jewish aristocracy in Judea. Their leader was the High Priest, who served as the highest-ranking official in Jerusalem and the chief liaison with the Roman governor.
Samaritans - Inhabitants of Samaria, located between Galilee and Judea, considered by some Jews to be apostates and half-breeds, since their lineage could be traced back to intermarriages between Jews and pagan peoples several centuries before the New Testament period.
Sanhedrin - A council of Jewish leaders headed by the High Priest, which played an advisory role in matters of religious and civil policy.
Scribes, Christian - Christians who copied their sacred Scriptures.
Scribes, Jewish - Highly educated experts in the Jewish Law who possibly also copied it.
Scriptio Continua - The ancient practice of writing without spaces to separate words.
Secessionists - Members of the Johannine community who, according to the author of 1 John, had "seceded" the community to form a community of their own. 1 John, which calls these people "antichrists," suggests that they had adopted a docetic Christology, not allowing that Christ was fully human.
Self-definition - Term used in the social sciences to indicate the ways a social group understands itself in terms of the beliefs, rituals, practices, worldviews shared experiences, etc. that bind it together as a group and that differentiate it from those who are not in the group.
Seneca - Probably the greatest Roman philosopher of the second half of the first century C.E. and tutor to the young Nero, later thought to have entered into a prolonged correspondence with the apostle (forged).
Sepphoris - One of the two major Greek cities in Galilee, just four miles from Jesus' hometown of Nazareth. Scholars debate whether Jesus was influenced by the culture of Sepphoris or if, indeed, he ever went there.
Septuagint - The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, so named because of a tradition that seventy (Latin: septuaginta) Jewish scholars had produced it.
Sermon on the Mount - Found only in Matthew 5-7, this sermon preserves many of Jesus' best known and most memorable sayings (including Matthew's version of the Beatitudes, the antitheses, and the Lord's Prayer).
Sethians - A prominent group of Gnostics known from second and third century sources, who told complicated myths about how the divine realm and the material world came into being, in order to explain both how individuals' souls had come to be entrapped here and how they can escape by acquiring gnosis. See also Gnosticism; Valentinians.
Sicarii - A Latin term meaning, literally, "daggermen," a designation for a group of first-century Jews responsible for the assassination of Jewish aristocrats thought to have collaborated with the Romans. See also Fourth Philosophy.
Signs Source - A document, which no longer survives, thought by many scholars to have been used as one of the sources of Jesus' ministry in the Fourth Gospel; it reputedly narrated a number of the miraculous deeds of Jesus.
Simon Magus - One of the most infamous Gnostics in the eyes of second-century proto-orthodox writers. 'Defeated' by Peter in Acts.
Songs of the Suffering Servant - Four different passages in Isaiah, the most important of which is Isaiah 52:13-53:12, this servant of God was one who suffered a heinous and shameful fate: he was despised and rejected (53:3), he was wounded and bruised (53:4-5), he was oppressed and afflicted, he suffered in silence and was eventually killed (53:7-8). 1st century Jews interpreted this figure to refer to the Messiah.
Son of God - In most Greco-Roman circles, a person who was born to a god and a mortal and who was, as a result, able to perform miracles or deliver superhuman teachings. In Jewish circles, a person who was chosen to stand in a special relationship with God, including the ancient Jewish Kings.
Son of Man - A term used by Jesus, and some other apocalypticists, to refer to a cosmic judge who would appear from heaven at the end of time.
Sophia - In gnostic mythology, the final (female) aeon who fell from the divine realm, leading to the birth of the demiurge (Ialdabaoth), who then created the material world as a place to imprison her.
Stoics - Greco-Roman philosophers who urged people to understand the way the world worked and to live in accordance with it, letting nothing outside of themselves affect their internal state of well-being.
Suetonius - A Roman historian of the early second century C.E., best known for a multivolume work giving the biographies of Roman emperors, The Lives of the Caesars.
Superapostles - In 2 Corinthians, a group of Paul's opponents who were rhetorically proficient and able to do spectacular deeds, who claimed that they, rather than Paul, were the true representatives of Christ.
Superstition - In the ancient world, superstition was understood by the highly educated upper classes as an excessive fear of the gods that drove a person to be excessively scrupulous in trying to avoid their displeasure.
Synagogue - From a Greek word that literally means "being brought together." A synagogue was a Jewish place of prayer and worship.
Synoptic Gospels - The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which tell many of the same stories, sometimes in the same words, so that they can be placed side by side to "be seen together" (the literal meaning of synoptic).
Synoptic Problem - The problem of explaining the similarities and differences between the three synoptic Gospels. See also Markan Priority.
Tacitus - Roman historian of the early second century C.E., whose multivolume work The Annals of Rome provides substantial information about Roman History from the beginning down to his own time.
Talmud - The great collection of ancient Jewish traditions that includes the Mishnah and the Gemarah (later commentaries written on the Mishnah). There are two different Talmuds, one produced in Palestine in the early 5th century A.D., the other, more authoritative one, produced in Babylon a century later.
Tarsus - City in southeast Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) that, according to Acts, was home to apostle Paul. The city known as one of the great philosophical centers in the Roman Empire, leading some scholars to suspect that Luke located Paul there in order to further his credentials (Paul never mentions his hometown in his letters).
Temple - In pagan circles, a temple was any holy place devoted to one or more divine beings where sacrifices could be made in accordance with established religious principles. For Judaism, there was only one, legitimate Temple, the one in Jerusalem, and enormous complex that contained the holy sanctuary and, within it, the Holy of Holies where God's presence on earth was believed to dwell.
Tertullian - A brilliant and acerbic Christian author from the late second and early third centuries. Tertullian, who was from North Africa and wrote in LAtin, is one of the best-known Christian apologists.
Thecla - A (legendary) female disciple of Paul whose adventures are narrated in the novel-like work of the second century, The Acts of Paul and Thecla.
Theophilus - The person to whom "Luke" addressed both of his volumes, the Gospel and the book of Acts. Scholars debate whether Theophilus was a real person --possibly a highly placed Roman administrator-- or whether the name was instead symbolic. It literally means either "beloved God" or "lover of God." If symbolic, it would refer to the Christian individuals or communities who were the author's intended audience.
A first-century Jewish apocalyptic prophet (mentioned by Josephus) who predicted the parting of the Jordan River and, evidently, the reconquest of the Promised Land by the chosen people.
An early Gnostic Christian, allegedly the disciple of Paul and the teacher of Valentinus.
Thucydides - Famous historian of Athens in the fifth century B.C.E., best known for his account of the twenty-seven-year Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Thucydides' account, like those of other Greek historians after him, contained a large number of speeches, which he frankly admitted to have composed himself as appropriate for the occasion.
Tiberius - The second Roman emperor, succeeding Caesar Augustus, and ruling 14-37 C.E. It was under his rule that Jesus was crucified by Pontius Pilate.
Torah - A Hebrew word meaning "guidance," "direction," or more woodenly, "law." It is often used as a technical term for the Law of God given to Moses or for the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, which were sometimes ascribed to Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Tradition - Any doctrine, idea, practice, or custom that has been handed down from one person to another.
Trajan - Roman emperor from 98 - 117 C.E., known, in part, through his correspondence with Pliny the Younger.
Two Ways - The doctrine found in the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas that people must choose between two ways of living, the way of life (light) and the way of death (darkness).
Undisputed Pauline Epistles - Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Scholars are mostly unified in judging that these letters were actually written by Paul. See Deutero-Pauline Epistles and Pastoral Epistles.
Valentinus - Second-century Gnostic Christian who traced his intellectual lineage through his teacher Theudas back to the apostle Paul.
Valentinians - A group of second and third century Gnostics who followed the teachings of Valentinus with a set of myths comparable to those of the Sethians, but more closely aligned with the proto-orthodox Christians, in whose churches they worshipped and from whom it was difficult to distinguish them. See also Gnosticism; Sethians; Valentinus.
Vicarious Suffering - The notion that one person's suffering occurs in the place or for the sake of another.
"We" Passages - Term used to describe a set of four passages in the book of Acts in which the author stops speaking in the third person about what paul and his companions ("they") were doing, and speaks instead in the first person about what "we" were doing. Some scholars take these passages as evidence that the author of Luke and Acts was a companion of Paul; others believe that in theses passages the author of Acts has utilized a travel narrative as a source (much as he utilized other sources such as Mark and Q for his Gospel).
Zealots - A group of Galilean Jews who fled to Jerusalem during the uprising against Rome in 66-70 C.E., who overthrew the reigning aristocracy in the city and urged violent resistance to the bitter end. See also Fourth Philosophy.
Canon - A set of writings deemed authoritative by a religious body
- From the Greek word meaning "ruler" / "measuring rod"
- The New Testament canon took ~300 years to develop; Before then Christianity was a disarray of beliefs
- Largely controlled by the proto-orthodox Christians
Apostles - Jesus' immediate followers
Torah - First five books of the Hebrew Bible → regarded as Law
Ebionites - Believed that Jesus was a righteous follower of the Torah who was "adopted" by God after his Baptism
- AKA - Adoptionists
Arch-heretic - Someone who proliferates anti-Christian ideas
- E.g., Paul, according to some early Christians
Marcionites - Followers of the 2nd century evangelist, scholar, and teacher: Marcion
- Believed Paul's writings → Jewish Law had no place anymore
- Believed in two separate Gods: Jewish (old/cruel) and Christian (new/merciful)
- Believed Jesus was not the son of the Jewish God, and was therefore not human (entirely spirit, no flesh)
- Established the first "canon" which consisted of Pauline epistles & Luke's Gospel
Gnostics - Claimed that special gnosis (knowledge) was necessary for salvation-
- From Greek gnosia meaning "knowledge"
- Large and diverse group that believed in 30-365 "gods"
- Maintained that the Evil, Old God created the material world, which Jesus (the embodiment of the New God) came to deliver them from via knowledge
- Knowledge was secret and for elect members, only derivable from the "hidden" meaning of Apostolic writings
- Therefore, Meaning > literal understanding
- Included Gospels of Mary, Philip, Judas, and Truth in their canon-
Proto-orthodox Christians - Rose to power in the 4th century, allowing them to stifle the other 'heretical' sects of Christianity and establish the modern canon-
Heresy - Greek for "choose"
Orthodoxy - Greek for "True belief"
Believed that Jesus was completely human, and wholly divine (unlike the Jews who thought he was entirely human, and not divine)
Believed that he taught the way to salvation, but was a single being, and was not exclusive in his ministry (unlike the gnostics)
Believed that the literal meaning of the text was all that was necessary
Balanced the contradictory human/divine narratives (Mark/John) by accepting both as true
2nd - 4th century: argued about what criteria necessitated canonicity:
Ancient vs. post-apostolic
Written by apostles → debate over identity of "Paul"
Catholicity/Widely Accepted → debate over Revelation and other Gnostic texts
Orthodoxy - does it espouse it the right belief
367 C.E. - First modern canon amerges ~250 years after the last book of the New Testament was written
Compiled by Athanasius - bishop of Alexandria, Egypt
Written to refute Marcion's Canon
- The New Testament Canon - Consists of 27 books written by 15-16 authors between 50-120 C.E.
- Gospels - "good news", the first four books of the New Testament
Matthew and John were apostles and authors
Mark was written by Peter's secretary
Luke was written by Paul's traveling companion
During the 2nd century, the authors were anonymous. Therefore, these authorial attributions are highly uncertain
- Acts of the Apostles - Written by the author of Luke, about the spread of Christianity after Jesus' death via Paul's missionary evangelism
- Epistles - The next 21 books which were letters written by Church leaders to the various communities, although some, like Hebrews, are more like written sermons than letters
13 of them believed to be written by "Paul", though the historical authorship of several of them are highly contested
Only 7 of them are undisputedly attributed to Paul
They generally focus on the practice and interpretation of the Gospel
- Revelation - The first surviving instance of Christian Apocalypse
Written by the prophet John about the culmination of Christianity
Apostolic Fathers - Early 2nd century authors whose writings were considered authoritative by the roto-orthodoxy
- Manuscripts - Produced by the Apostolic Fathers, considered tantamount to the Gospels or Paul's writings
Nag Hammadi - Discovered in Egypt, 1945 -- 15 fragments of books found in a jar.
- Contained 52 treatises written in Coptic
- Contained several 2nd Century epistles, apocalypses, teaching, & Gospels
- Suppressed from the Canon by the proto-orthodoxy
Christology - The study of the identity of Christ
- Docetism - Belief the Jesus was all spirit and only appeared to be human
Promulgated by Marcion and his followers
Repudiated by Tertullian of Carthage → writing to establish that Christ was born fo the virgini Mary, had flesh, was crucified, died, rose again, and was a single divine/human person
- Mark - Contains no birth narrative, starts with the Baptism → mission → Christ is very human
- Luke - Heavy focus on the nativity
- Matthew - Shares Luke's focus on the nativity
- John - Jesus is pre-existent, logos → GOD
Greco-Roman Religions - Polytheistic, stressed importance of sacrifice, lack of importance of what people believed/practiced
- Had no explicit societal structure/institution/leaders
- Had no doctrinal statements or ethical commitments
- Had no sacred written authorities (Quran, Old Testament)
- Had no beliefs in afterlife which modern religions are oriented around
- Had no separation of Church and state
- Shared a basic tolerance within the bounds of polytheism
Local deities were responsible for specific aspects of daily life correlated to similarly localized cults of worship
Hierarchy of Greco-Roman figures
Rest of the "Big 12"
Tertiary gods (dionysus - wine, Priapus - masculinity)
Divine humans, demigods, heroes (hercules)
Humans (men > women/slaves)
Daimonia - "Demon" without the negative connotation
Penates / Lenates - pantry/food & household protectorates who were represented in household shrines
Religion was oriented around preserving the current life rather than securing an afterlife (sparing themselves from Nether / Hades)
Cults / Cultus Deorum - "care of the gods" → attributed healing, agricultural and military success, wealth, prosperity, etc. to gods which was achievable through prayer and sacrifice
- Gave rise to the Imperial Cult of compulsory worship of state gods for the benefit of Rome
Extispicy - Method of reading sacrificial animal entrails to determine the efficacy of a sacrifice in the eyes of the gods
- Practiced by designated priest known as a Haruspex
Augurs - Roman priests who would divine the will of the gods via various methods such as reading bird flights/entrails
Oracles - Personal divination through the use of an entranced priestess
Octavian - Ended the civil wars following Julius Caesar's murder after he attempted to become dictator in 44 B.C.E.
- Octavian assumed full control in 27 B.C.E → Caesar Augustus
- Came to be revered as a god-emperor in some parts of Roman culture (Asia Minor)
Magic - Recognized to be a viable (albeit fringe / taboo) alternative to religion when sacrifices were unfruitful
Mystery Cults - Sanctioned forms of secret cults who worshipped a specific god or figure exclusively
- Isis, Mithras, Demeter/Persephone, Dionysus
- Associated with resurrection
Philosophy - Stoics, Platonists, Epicureans
- Focused on being successful or happy in the harsh world
- Much more concerned with doctrine (how to think) and ethics (how to live) than G-R religions
- Highly competitive/mercantile in their 'conversion'
- Critical Dates: The canonical Gospels were all written in a 35-60 year range
30 year gap between Jesus' death and the first written accounts of his life
In that 30 year gap, various forms of Christianity spread like wildfire
Jesus left behind 11 men and several women who spread word of his ministry, passion, and resurrection
By 325 C.E., the whole Mediterranean and most of Asia Minor had a notable Christian population
People believed that Jesus was going around saving people, strongly aiding conversion efforts
These stories about Jesus going around healing people after his death, being told by thousands were not historically true whatsoever
Historical reliability and the phenomena of Oral Tradition
Kernels of historical truth embedded in Oral Traditions have shifted over time to fit the needs of evolving situations
2nd century proto-orthodox Christians attributed authorship of the Gospels of to early, important figures to lend their stories credibility
However, none of the Gospels make authorial claims excluding perhaps Luke
- The majority of the apostles were uneducated, Jewish fishermen and tax collectors, who were likely not-bilingual or literate in Greek
- They could have been sources for authors of the Gospels though, through Oral Tradition
- The author of Luke states that the accounts have been passed down from eye witnesses → not very reliable necessarily
Ancient writers were concerned with demonstrating cosmic truth rather than historical truth
The gospels function as fables which provide a larger truth than what the actual text says
Criteria for historical reliability:
- Should not contradict itself,
- Should be generally plausible,
- Should be externally verified, preferably outside of its own [Gospel] genre
All of the Gospels were written by Jews, and therefore the texts are heavily influenced by Jewish traditions, motifs, and most importantly the Jewish Law
Passover - The commemoration of the freeing of the 1st born sons of the Israelites via sacrificing of a lamb, sprinkling its blood on the doorpost, and eating a fast meal in preparation for the Exodus
Judaism somewhat resembled a cultic devotion similar to other Greco-Roman polytheisms in that they would worship/sacrifice to a god (in adherence to the Abrahamic Law) to improve their present life and satisfy the communal/household needs
Believed in immortal beings in between them and God similar to Greco-Roman Daimonia : Cherubim, Seraphim, Angels/archangels
Believed that God was known and knowable, but powerful and cultishly worshipped in Judea → "Jews" until military crisis saw the Jews driven out of Judea by Babylonians to Babylon, Egypt, etc., where they retained their religious practices until 600 B.C. → Diaspora = dispersion
Still worshipped the 1 God of Israel, not a local deity, and exclusively of Israel via Abrahamic Covenant
Fewer Jews in Palestine around Jesus' life than after the Diaspora: ~7% Roman population
Torah = Guidance, direction → Jewish Law, was viewed as God's greatest gift to his people, not burdensome
- Ancient Jews were committed to the Law because they had already been showed favor as God's chosen people → the Law was their means of thanking God
Pentateuch - "The 5 scrolls"
Septuagint - Post-diaspora Greek translation of the Torah that was most widely used
- LXX - Meaning "Made by 70" or 72 Jewish translators
Most of the Jewish practices were considered normal for Greco-Roman religions, excluding circumcision and the Sabbath
Nonetheless, Judaism was respected for its antiquity: Romans loved old cultures, religions, etc. (See Roman religion as a copy/paste of Greek religion)
The Temple of Jerusalem - The central place of sacrifice and worship according to the Torah
- 500 yards x 325 yards, no mortar, 100 ft. walls; a tremendous engineering feat
- After the first Temple built under Solomon was destroyed, the second Temple's construction began in 538 B.C.E, and was finished in 63 C.E.
- Destroyed ~7 years later as retribution for the Jewish rebellion
- Meant to be the only/final temple to the God of Israel due to the presence of the Holy of Holies within → God's dwelling place
- On the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, High priest performed a sacrifice for all the sins of the people
- Temple segregated to various inner-sections depending on importance/association
- Accounted for by the Jew tax to build the hugely expensive Temple by allowing for group sacrifices/worship gatherings → Synagogues
- Distinct from Greco-Roman places of worship by their uniform, Jewish purpose and inclusion of women and children
Josephus - 1st century Jewish historian who "prophesied" Vespasian's emperorship
Alexander the Great - Overthrew Persian empire who controlled Palestine ~300 B.C.
Antiochus Epiphanes - Syrian ruler of Palestine after Alexander who attempted cultural unification by requiring adoption of Greek culture
- Hellenization - Forced cultural assimilation → illegal to circumcise babies, must adopt to Greek culture
Maccabeans - Descendants of Jewish priests of Judas Maccabeus
- AKA Hasmoneans - Started revolts in 167 B.C.E. against their Syrian overlords
- Ruled Palestine autonomously, after driving out Syrians, until 63 B.C.E. when Pompey conquered it
40 B.C. - Romans appointed King Herod to rule the Jews ruthlessly
Hisson Herod Antipas - Son of King Herod who ruled during Jesus' life
4th main groups of Jews / ~4 million:
Pharisees - ~6,000 members
Essenes - ~4,000 members (according to Josephus)
Sadducees - Far fewer members than Pharisees or Essenes
Fourth Philosophy - sick blokes
Pharisees (law) - Best known, least understood
- Label of hypocrite filtered down through later Christian texts
- Focused on knowing & obeying God to the fullest extent
- Appended oral tradition to the Laws of Moses to flesh it out
- Specified what it meant to keep the Sabbath Holy → no work, travel, must tithe everything
Sadducees (priests) - No texts left from them
- Political and religious elite (high priests, composed the Sanhedrin, aristocracy)
- Usually cooperated with Rome
- Promoted strict adherence to the Torah → only text they accepted, did not believe in an afterlife/Hell
- Stressed proper ritual worship → sacrifice, pilgrimage
Essenes (ascetics) - Referenced , but not named in the New Testament
Only group not mentioned in the New Testament, but we also know the most about them because of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Believed the Jews in Jerusalem had gone astray → secluded themselves at Qumran
Developed a new community to practice Mosaic Law without the imposition of the Pharisees
Awaited the apocalypse (many Jews awaited in in their life)
Disdained marriage and other material distraction
Strict admission requiring the forfeiture of all possessions to the community (focus on equity for the communal good) followed by 1 year of brutal, minimalist "catechesis," brought closer into the community for 2 more years of testing
Pesher - Essenic method of symbolic interpretation of God's revelations to Habbakuk
- Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that God's kingdom would be ruled by two Messiahs → a king and a priest
4th Philosophy (militant) - According to Josephus
- Believed they had the right to the land of Israel, given by God, to be defended by any means possible
- Strongly disagreed with the Sadducees who favored Roman occupation of Judea
- Members of the Sicari ("daggermen" → one of the earliest-known, organized assassin groups in history) took control of the Temple (67-70 C.E.), refusing to surrender to Rome → led to the destruction of the Temple/Jerusalem
Even some Greco-Roman pagans were monotheistic
Hanina Desa & Honi "The Circle Drawer" - Jesus' miracle-working contemporaries
Even though the Gospels were written long after Jesus' death, they preserve some authenticity via Oral Tradition
All were published anonymously at first
30 C.E. Jesus dies, 70 C.E. Gospel of Mark, 80-85 C.E. Matthew and Luke, 90-95 C.E. Gospel of John
15-20 loyal followers after his crucifixion spread "Christianity" throughout the Roman Empire such that it became a world religion by the time the Gospels were written at the end of the 1st Century
Converted not by sermons, but individually
No mention of Jesus or his followers in pagan literature
Stories likely told in Greek even though Jesus spoke Aramaic
Oral Traditions were changed whenever they were cited in order to be relevant to new situations
Focus on Moral/Cosmic Truth >> Historical Truth
The differences in the Gospels are significant, but each conveys some emphasis about Jesus
"Four Cardinal Directions" - Four winds → four gospels
- St. Irenaeus offered the first reasoning for the four gospels using natural reasoning
Gnotha - "Disputed texts"/Bastard texts → Acts of the Apostles, The Gospel of Peter, Revelation
Genre - writings that share conventions and are therefore classified together
- Form: poetry or prose, short or long, narrative or descriptive, etc.
- Content: nature or society, philosophy or mystery, etc.
- Function: inform, persuade, both?
Greco-Roman Biography - less concerned with factual data compared to impact, personality, behavior → fables
Based on Oral Tradition
Plutarch, Suetonius, Tacitus - Authors of Roman antiquity
Gospel genre put a huge focus on death of the protagonist → gives us the archetypal Christ-figure
The shortest and earliest surviving account of Jesus
Depicts Jesus as the misunderstood Messiah, sent by God to fulfill his mission on Earth
Begin's with Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and ends with reports of his resurrection
Used by Matthew and Luke as a source
Starts the use of the term "Jesus Christ" = anointed one, meant nothing yet, so the original Greek simply stated that Jesus was the Messiah which was the equivalent
John the Baptist - Performing baptisms for the forgiveness of sins, dressed and ate like the Old Testament prophet Elijah
After Jesus' Baptism, the heavens split open and the Holy Spirit proclaims Jesus to be the Son of God
- The Title "Son of God" was not unique to Jesus → Hanina and Honi also were called Sons of God
Jesus is then thrust into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil
According to Mark, Jesus is supremely authoritative: when he speaks, people obey
Enters the Synagogues to teach and astonish with authority, not like the scribes
Commands unclean spirits as well to obey → Healer
Even with this authority, he is extremely misunderstood
Hated by religious leaders of his Jewish people
Observes Jewish tradition, law, practices → ultimately betrayed by Jews still
Jewish Scribes - Literate elite who studied Sacred Traditions of Israel
Herodians - Collaborators w/ Herod → Rome
Chief Priests - Upper-class Sadducees who offered sacrifices in the Temple
Jesus disobeys the elite teaching in order to help people
- Eats with the unclean, "works" on the sabbath, etc.
Pharisees partner with their sworn enemies, the Herodians, and plan to have him killed for his egregious perversion of Jewish Law
Only God, Jesus, Demons, Mark, and the Reader understand that Jesus is the Son of God
- "Do you not yet understand" - After feeding thousands
After healing the blind man in stages, the disciples gradually begin to recognize Jesus → Peter calls him "The Christ"
- Jesus confirms, but says not to tell anyone about him → Messianic Secret
Passion - Greek for "suffering"
Peter calls Jesus "Christ" as in "Messiah" as in delivered of Israel, does not understand Jesus when he says he [Peter] will suffer and die
Messianic Secret - of Mark → Jesus' numerous attempts to keep his name a secret → for fear of misinterpretation of "Messiah"**
Jews anticipated a strong, powerful kingly figure who would militantly deliver them from their oppressors (Rome), Jesus did not resemble this image of a Messiah
"Get behind me Satan" → Reprimanding Peter's focus on human grandeur (in accordance with the Jewish understanding of Messiah) rather than divine purpose
- His disciples continue to fail to understand → he tells them they will suffer too
Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple, the Judgement of Man, and the Apocalypse are soon to come in their own generation
Jesus is anointed
Last supper → prayer at Gethsemane → arrest → trial before the Sanhedrin → Peter denies Jesus 3 times → Jesus reveals his misunderstood identity as the Messiah → is charged with blasphemy → pilate charges him for treason, as he claims to be the Messiah → king of Israel ≠ Roman emperor
Mark depicts Jesus' own uncertainty in his prayer at Gethsemane, the abandonment of his followers and betrayal: "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me"
Temple curtain ripped down the middle, centurion acknowledges Jesus' identity
No historical accounts match this, however
God is now free to all people according to Mark
On the day after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb, see a man dressed in white, and tell no one out of fear, even though he instructed them to tell the followers to meet Jesus at Galilee
Book ends → but later, scholars appended 12 more verses to smooth out the end
Mark was not Jewish → gets some Jewish traditions wrong → but does it to stress the Jewishness of Jesus to demonstrate that ALL peoples are saved → written when the Temple was destroyed → misunderstood the reason for the destruction
Redaction Criticism - The study of how a text has been modified over time
Synoptic Problem - How to explain why there are differences, but also verbatim agreements between Matthew, Mark, and Luke (The Synoptics)
Four Source Hypothesis - Mark (Markan Priority) was written first, and used as a source by Matthew and Luke
Matthew and Luke also used another shared source, Q → from "Quelle" German for source
Q explains things not found in Mark, but does not include a passion narrative, just a collection of sayings of Jesus
The Synoptics can be "seen together" → syn -optic
Mark Q ↓ ↓ M → Matthew Luke ← L
Beatitudes - Delivered at the Sermon on the Mount
- The incontinences wrapped around Mark's stories in Matthew and Luke show that Mark was a source
- Matthew condensed Markan miracles in to a single Chapter (8), and Luke follows Q more closely
Parenthetical material - "(let the reader understand … )"
Found in Mark, even though his audience is < 10% literate, the same parenthetical material is used in Matthew
Luke's preface 1:1 - 1:4 acknowledges that he's using other sources: some eye witness, some Oral Tradition, and some written (Mark)
Triple Tradition - When all 3 Synoptics use the same words
- Augustan Hypothesis - Matthew wrote first, and was used by Mark, who was used by Luke
- Griesbach - Matthew wrote first, used by Luke, both of which were used by Mark
- Holtzmann/Streeter - Mark wrote first and was independently used by Matthew and Luke
- Farrer Hypothesis - Mark wrote first and was used by both → Scholars accept this the most
Evidence of a Markan Priority
Shortness, bad grammar, challenging/difficult readings
Lack of Matthew-Luke agreements against Mark
Redactional emphasis (87% of Mark is in Matthew, 70% of Mark is in Luke)
If Mark was written last, its author forced an abridged gospel which omits so much of what is contained in Matthew and Luke
Even though Mark is the shortest, he tells the longest stories
Mark is not a good "summation," whereas Luke is written like an Ancient History comprising all the cosmic truths of the story
Much of Mark appears in Matthew and Luke, but not both - so to say it was used to verify truth by 2 witnesses is not an argument
Mark used bad Aramaic, slang, redundant sentences, poor grammar, and Greek words he doesn't seem to understand, many of which are corrected in Matthew and Luke
- His Aramaic expressions are deleted by the other 2 Synoptic authors - unlikely that Mark wrote later and added them "for fun"
Theologically challenging passages from Mark are modified
6:5 "He could not do any mighty works, because there was no faith" → "He would not do any mighty works, because there was no faith"
"Why do you call me good?" → "Why do you ask me what is good"
"Why have you forsaken me" → Into your hands I commend my spirit"
"Looked around in anger" → "Looked around"
Lack of Matthew and Luke going against Mark
Lots of Mark + Matt ≠ Luke
Lots of Mark + Luke ≠ Matt
Not a lot of Matt + Luke ≠ Mark because they both have to get the same thing wrong in the same way to contradict Mark, but were written independently of one another
When Either Matthew or Luke diverge from Mark, they have a very specific theological purpose for doing so
E.g. "Son of David" → Matthew highly emphasizes the genealogical Messiah
Fulfillment Motif - 10+ instances of "x was done in order to fulfill the scriptures/prophecies" in Matthew
Mark and Luke still link to scripture via "it was written", but not to the same obsessive extent as Matthew's New Moses
Done in order to establish Jesus' authority as the Law
Evidence for Quelle - German for "Source"
Source for Matthew and Luke's verbatim agreements
Order of the Q material (weak, but arguable)
Arguments for a Lukan priority are non-existent; Mattan priority is the only alternative, but it just doesn't make sense
Q was likely a written source
- Verbatim agreements in Matt and Luke = Double Tradition
- Order of Q - Lots of disagreements in order, but when they share word for word Q, the order is preserved
- Doublets - Usage of the same text twice in one Gospel → half verbatim from Mark, half verbatim from Matt and Luke (Q) → implies the authors of Matthew and Luke had access to both sources
"First" Gospel, widely treasured, shares 2/3rds of Mark
Author was likely a Greek outside of Palestine writing in 80-85 C.E.
Establishes Jesus as theNew Moses, the Last Prophet
Stresses that Jesus is a man of Israel -- Matt's Genealogy of 14
Jesus is here to fulfill the Law's intent → still very much invested in Jewishness
Fulfillment citations - 11 Total, "This was done so that x was fulfilled"
Jesus very neatly fits into Jewish history
Jesus' message is not new, just a continuation of Judaism → the Final Prophet
Matthew removes all of Mark's Aramaic words and writes in Greek, but his audience is still Jews and Gentiles
Jesus the New Moses - Flees to Egypt to escape the slaughter of innocents → receives/interprets the law on top of a mountain → … → directly parallels OT Exodus
The Great Commission and Matthew's Gentile Mission
- "Go and make disciples of all nations and peoples" at the end of the book which opens up the mission to gentiles
Unlike in Mark, everyone but Jewish leaders (and the 3 pagan Magi) recognize Jesus as the Messiah → perhaps to stress guilt?
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount - Jesus' fulfillment of Jewish Law
Beatitudes - Descriptions of those who are blessed
Antitheses - Jesus' new interpretations of Mosaic Law → The purpose is not the detail, but the root meaning
Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them due unto you
Matthew offers a different interpretation of the Law than the popular, strict interp. → usually more strict, but also simpler than the Pharisees would want
E.g 5:27 "Don't commit adultery" → "Don't have lust in your heart at all"
Extrapolates the scope of the law from act to intent
Matthew's message: If you understand the very core of the law, then you will obey it. Jesus is saying be better than the Pharisee's
Says the first 2 commandments inform the rest of the law
Believed to have been written by Luke's traveling companion who also wrote Acts
Written 80-85 C.E.
Luke constructs Christianity directly in opposition to Satan/Demons
Depicts Jesus as a prophet, like from the Old Testament, to explain how Christianity spread from Jews to Gentiles too
Four Verse preface is a standard Greek Historiographic Prologue
- Suggests that the topic was well researched and far superior to any previous sources, and the author identifies himself
- Makes an implicit, negative evaluation of Mark
- Says he is writing for "The most excellent Theophilus" → Lover of God, or perhaps a Roman governor in order to explain what Christianity is (not a threat to the state) → informed defense = an Apology
As a two-set volume with Acts, Luke traces the miraculous birth of Christ and his ascent followed by the spread of the Church
Birth narrative is similar, but different from Matthew
- Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem for Caesar Augustus's census in Luke, they return home to Nazareth right away, not time for a flight to Egypt or the 3 magi
- In both Gospels, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, and raised in Nazareth, but for different reasons (Temple infancy narrative in Luke vs. Old Testament parallels in Matthew)
Jesus resembles a demigod figure, the pagan audience would understand his messiahship
Luke has a Dualistic Cosmology : The Kingdom of God vs. the Material World
- Present theme in Mark and Matthew as well, but Luke stresses it more
Jesus sends out 70-72 disciples to preach and "Satan fell from the heavens like a flash [gradually though] of Lightning"
- Jesus defeats Satan in the wilderness, comes back, and begins to exorcise demons who ask "Have you come to destroy us?"
- He expels demons with The Finger of God -- From Exodus and only used by Moses and Aaron → Jesus is tantamount with Old testament Badasses
- Jesus doesn't answer the demons, but Luke makes it clear that they're afraid of him
Everything bad in Luke is attributed to Satan → very Greco-Roman
Sick? blind ? ill? → probably the work of SATAN
Luke repeats the practice of freeing people from bondage
Very apocalyptic, but far less urgent than the other synoptics
Luke's Two-Part Eschatology - "End of the World"
Kingdom of God is already here → Jesus combating Satan's materialism
Kingdom of God will come fully later ... not tomorrow though, as Mark thought → the Mission must be spread first
Exegesis of Luke Chapter 11:14-23
- Satan is the Strong man and his property is the Material World
- Jesus is the Stronger man who strips satan of the fallacies and sin gave him dominion of the world
- Jesus is the stronger man, who frees people from bondage and ushers in the Kingdom of God
Jesus' birth is announced to Zechariah in the Temple, Jesus is born and consecrated in the temple, recognized as the Messiah by Simeon and the old Jewish priestess Anna
Jesus spends CH 9 - CH 19 traveling back to Jerusalem to be betrayed, much larger portion than the other gospels → significant
Luke also traces genealogy, but does so differently than Matthew, but both do so in order to show that Jesus is the Son of God
Luke's gospel begins and ends in the Temple
Explicitly claims to be an anointed prophet of God at the start of his public ministry
Jesus' death is totally in control: "Father into your hands I commend my spirit"
- Less atonement like Mark and John where Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God
- "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me" → concerned for others, but confident in himself
- Asks for forgiveness for those who are killing him
- "Today you will be with me in paradise"
- Luke stresses that Jesus was innocent → Centurion Longinus recognizes "Truly this man was innocent" → Archetype of a Martyr setting the stage for Acts
- Jesus bloody sweat was later added to corroborate Mark's depiction of Jesus' agitation
For Luke, salvation is not brought about through Jesus' death, but through the subsequent repentance for the miscarriage of justice
Author of Luke, Paul's traveling companion wrote Acts too
Describes the Temple heavily, God's message comes through it, but the Jews reject it → reject Jesus
Highly contested source for the reconstruction of Early Church History
According to ancient genres, Acts is written as a historical story → many of the speeches were probably made up
Not to recount "what actually happened," but the cosmic truth
Similar in style to Thucydides - account of the Greek Peloponnesian war, or Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, or Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews
Limited objectivity due to the scope and importance of Oral Tradition which informed the stories → speeches were never part of primary Oral Tradition → always retconned to fit the occasion/character
¼ of Acts is speeches delivered Paul and the Apostles
Nonethless, it is the earliest source of anything in the New Testament
Dated around 90-95 C.E.
Written by 'Luke'
Paul and Luke
Paul - highly educated Roman citizen, claimed to start the gentile mission
180 C.E. Irenaeus asserts that Acts is written by Luke, a physician who was the traveling companion of Paul
Follows Luke's unitary vision/recapitulation of the spread of Christianity
Historical reliability of Luke/Acts can be cross examined by Paul's letters
3 Things that Must Be True for Irenaeus's assertion to stand
Author was a constant companion of Paul - Luke and Paul must tell the same story (they don't) - "We" Passages must be literal pronoun references, not stylistic choices
Luke's mentions in Paul's letters
Mentioned: Philemon 1:23-24, Colossians 4:14, and 2 Timothy 4:11
Only one of those is definitely written to/by/about Paul
Do they tell the same story?
Paul in Acts, According to Luke Paul in his own Epistles
Paul's miracles precipitate belief, as good/better than Peter → necessary to establish his authority as a former persecutor
No mention of miracle working, but claims he started the gentile movement
Gives many speeches, even argues with philosophers in the Areopagus
Admits that he's not a good public speaker Is on friendly terms with the disciples Seems to have arguments with the disciples Paul is run out of Damascus by the Jews Paul was chased out by the governor
- Paul is not one of the disciples, Luke writes to try to reconcile the two factions: Peter and the disciples v. Paul's following
3. The "We" Passages
Acts 16:9-17, 20:4-15, 27:1-28
Passages are indicative of an eye witness → Luke?
Changes of tone, vocab, structure, skill, etc. are things that indicate a change in author → but that doesn't happen in the "we" passages, it's just "we"
If Luke was an eyewitness, why not write the whole thing in the 1st person, probably bc he wasn't there
Famous essay that in ancient times, Nautical Passages are written in the 1st person
Ehrman says it's an intentional device to invite the reader to think that the whole text is 1st person, and therefore more credible, but w/o having to claim presence of 1st person in the whole text
Verdict: inclusion of a "we" source
Things Luke Gets right
Luke's topography is accurate according to the other Gospel accounts
Social setting - he knows about/has sources that know about the specific/important cities like "Artemis of the Ephesians"
Can name Roman officials/hierarchies
Historical events like the "worldwide" famine
Things Luke gets wrong
Holy family having to travel to their hometown for the census → where they have no property/taxes??
Just says so in order to fulfill scripture
Herod dies in 4 B.C.E. → not possible for the holy family to be in a census under the reign of herod
Next confirmed census was in 6 A.D.
Luke is telling the story that is important for the Early Christian Church, not the one that's historically accurate necessarily
Luke's Jews reject prophets according to Luke, so Acts is the spread of the message to the gentiles
Acts is a huge unitary claim to reconcile the idea of a Pauline/Peterine faction → NO there is ONE church, led by Peter, Paul and the Holy Spirit. Luke writes it into existence
The Gospel of Luke was a Greco-Roman Biography about Jesus, the prophet, but Acts has no central character → more historical and canonical
General History Genre - Traces people and key events to present
Thematic Criticism - Understanding Acts through the parallels from Luke
Acts is also dedicated to Theophilus -- which ties the authorship to Luke
Pentecost - Just as Jesus was rejected in his city, Jerusalem, as a prophet, so too will the apostles be rejected. Therefore, go out
- Continued focus on on the Gentile Mission → "To the ends of the Earth"
Paul - The central character and the most notable convert of Acts
Former anti-Christian who is chased out of Damascus by the governor, becomes a church leader, converts several major cities, is arrested by Jewish leaders, put on trial, and ultimately put on house arrest in Rome
Continued presence of "two men in white robes" from resurrection accounts
Named at the Transfiguration as Moses (Law), and Elijah (Prophet)
Pushes more fulfillment narratives
Parallel presence of the Holy Spirit who enables miracles and is present at the Baptism and Pentecost
Jesus is executed as a martyr, and so are many of his followers
Whereas in Luke: Jesus is Jewish, sent from Jewish God, and follows Jewish Law, Acts is about being a Gentile Christian
Acts is Luke's "necessary delay" of the Apocalypse so that the church can grow
Acts is largely composed of Apologies - speeches of Christians to legal/religious authorities
Main instigators of conflict in Acts are Jews
According to the Jews, those who view Jesus as the Messiah have lost touch with their roots in clear violation of scripture
Peter cites a pair of psalms which predict the need to replace Judas as a member of the 12 → implies that this era of Christianity found lots of old scripture being fulfilled in their midst, even though it's not at all clear how it's happening...
1st Theme - God is behind the Christian movement → Jesus is the fulfillment
- Peter's first speech is about how the 12th has to have been a witness to Jesus' resurrection and all the way back to his baptism, but literally none of the remaining, original 11 fit that description...
- Peter implies that it is absolutely crucial to the propagation of the spread of Christianity → select Matthias → never mentioned again, crucial who?
2nd Theme - Christianity as a continuation of Christ as a continuation of Judaism
Speeches at the Council of Jerusalem regarding whether or not to circumcise gentiles → Decide that Jesus/God said that all are saved on equal grounds → Church leaders send a unified message to the Gentiles
Luke writes Acts as a history establishing how Christianity is not, in fact, the fragmentary mess that is was after Jesus died, but in fact a uniform religion that shares common beliefs
According to Luke, the Christians are in agreement on every major issue
Pentecostal speech from Peter -- Everything that happened is a fulfillment of scripture -- cites Joel
Blames the audience for Jesus' death → saved by his resurrection, they can repent and be baptized
Jesus death does not bring atonement, but opportunity
Paul's mission ends in Jerusalem, like Jesus' → 7 more chapters about his trials and his innocence which is not recognized by any of the authorities he is brought before
During which he is portrayed as very Jewish (like Jesus) still found guilty
Used to show that his beliefs do not compromise Jewish faith
Luke's Jesus is the ideal martyr whose death is continued/paralleled by his Apostles in Acts
Jesus was crucified under Tiberius
Jesus as a fulfillment of ancient sacred scriptures established its legitimacy which was otherwise pretty limited
"All things came into being through him" -- prologue
Acc. to Plato there's a distinction between "being" and "coming into being"
Coming into being implies a beginning/time when it didn't exist
Jesus does not come into being, he always was, with God → pre-existent
Jesus is very otherworldly and divine in John → "from above"
John's Defining Features
- Poetic literary style, philosophical, "high" literary style, excellent flowing Greek
- Miracles are more spectacular than in the synoptics → seven Signs
- Less action and more discourse e.g. CH 13-19 is a single speech
- Indirect authorial claim? Introduces a possible perspective shift from the Synoptics → "Beloved Disciple caused these things to be written"
The Beloved Disciple - A member of Jesus' inner circle, never explicitly name → believed to be John, Son of Zebedee
- Jesus entrusts his mother to him, and he outruns Peter to Jesus' tomb
Nitty Gritty Chop-Suey
- Aporias - literary seams, interruptions, shifts in the text which indicate a change in author/source
- CH 20: reads like an ending to the Gospel/source
- CH 21: geographical, temporal and contextual shifts → picks up with a song of Zebedee and keeps going
- Changes in Jesus' style of teaching, the chronological framework, the characteristics of his miracles, and his opponents
In CH 2: Jesus flips the tables in the temple, and from then on "the Jews" in general, not just the leadership, are plotting to kill him for the rest of the Gospel
Very open about his identity, unlike Mark
His 3 year ministry ends in CH 12, then he retreats to a more private ministry w/lengthy speeches → timeline slows significantly after his "retirement" in direct contrast to the flow of Mark which instead accelerates
In the synoptics, Jesus teaches by parable, in John, he teaches by lengthy philosophical, abstract speeches
His eschatology is much more ambiguous than the synoptics which had more immediate apocalypses
Salvation rooted in believing in Jesus as the Son of God and communion with God, but not necessarily the Kingdom of God
- A physical change must occur too: "You will become like the wind"
- Jesus says you must be born "anothen" → both : from above/higher, and anew/again → very clever Greek
- Jesus is the only one who explicitly espouses eternal life
- Do not conflate eternal life with the Kingdom of God which was thought of as a legitimate divine, but physical territory (to be delivered by the Messiah)
Jesus waits 3-4 days to resurrect Lazarus to show that he can recombine body with soul which was unheard of in Greco-Roman literature outside of necromancy which was heavily frowned upon and was only a temporary "trick"
- Different from the synoptics where Jesus is not a trick-pony
- Jesus is more than willing to perform public signs in order convince people of his divine origin
No transfiguration, Jesus is already the radiant post-Transfiguration character for the whole Gospel
No baptism, because why baptize God
Jesus' opponents are all of Judaism, who were antagonizing the Johannine Community at the time of the Gospel of John's publication
Only 9 instances of 2-3 word verbatim phrases → likely only shared Oral Tradition as a source, which is why it still shares Jesus' biographical skeleton
John's Sources - Authored the Gospel, and maybe 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation to varying degrees of certainty
- Similar styles and philosophies, so it's either the same author, or a member of the Johannine Community
- Signs source
- Long discourses about symbolic themes source
- Passion, death, and resurrection stories
The Johannine School
- Originally a group of Palestinian Israelites
- Jesus' Samaritan Journey
- Expulsion from the Synagogue → est. of Jesus' high Christology and Jewish resentment, either the cause or the result of Expulsion, unclear
- Johannine Christianity teaches that Jesus was flesh (John 6) which is how it was able to sneak into the Canon even with its comparatively unique Christology
Orthodoxy and Heresy
Orthodoxy - "right/straight" belief, everyone thinks they're Orthodox
Heresy - "Choice" → people who willfully choose the wrong belief → deemed heretical by historians if you lost the battle of relevance
Council of Nicea - 325 C.E. → called to address the diversity of the Early Church, produced the Nicene Creed
- Constantine calls on the Church to unify → workout what's heresy and what's orthodoxy
How to get from diversity to standardization
Eusebius - Father of Church history: 10 volumes on Ecclesiastical History
- Tried to trace the origins of the Church back to Jesus
- First and Earliest comprehensive history of the Early Church
- Probably less historically accurate → founded on Apostolic Succession → making everyone not in the succession a heretic
Walter/Bauer Model - German who rethinks our acceptance of Eusebian model
- Instead chooses to geographically assess all of Christian history
- The earliest recoverable belief they found in almost every place was heretical e.g. Egyptian gnostics and Syrian Marcionites → Not a united Christian faith as Luke/Eusebius would suggest
- Wrote his thesis in 1800s, years before the Nag Hammadi which yielded several corroborating gnostic texts
Homoousios - Made of the same matter
Views on Jesus
Mark - Appears to become 'Son of God' after Baptism
John - Jesus is pre-existing God
Thomas - Jesus' death is unimportant, his words reveal secrets though
Johannine Prologue (Chapter 1)
- "The word was God," "Without him not on thing came into being," "In him was life"
- Although not explicitly called the "Word" later on, Jesus' sayings/actions parallel this Logos identity
- "And dwelt among us" → Jesus' humanity
- Establishes the framework by which Jesus' primarily refers to himself throughout the rest of the book → by strict relation to the Father, the one who sent him, the one who can judge
Transitions to John proclaiming the way of the the Lord: "Make straight the way of the Lord" (1:23)
- Calls him the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" "The son of God," "Lamb of God"
Recruits Andrew and Peter, Philip
- Nathaniel calls him: "Son of God, King of Israel"
- Jesus responds: "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
Wedding of Cana : 1st Sign
- Jesus turns water into wine and references his hour/cup that is yet to come → "And revealed his glory, and his disciples believed him"
Drives out those dealing in the temple with a whip of cords → "Stop making my Father's house a marketplace" → open revelation of identity
- "Destroy this temple [his body], and I will rebuild it in three days"
- His message is misunderstood, but many believed in him for his signs
Dialogue with Nicodemus
- "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit."
- Repeatedly calls himself the "Son of Man" → confirms his heavenly origin
- "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
More baptizing, John continues to refer to Jesus as heavenly and not worldly
Samaritan Woman at the well
- Tells her about her several husbands → can read minds/hearts
- Jesus claims to be the Messiah, the Christ, she rushes to bring the town to meet him, they believe him to be "Truly the savior of the World"
- Jesus provides the water of eternal life
Jesus heals a royal official's son who "believed the word" : 2nd Sign (4:46)
Jesus heals the sick man at the pool : 3rd Sign
- Criticized for working on the sabbath, responds: "My Father is still working, and I also am working." → Jews seek to kill him for blaspheme on top of the rest
- Implies that he is the Son of God, and that his word grants eternal life (5:24) → Attributes all his power to the Father
- "Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you might be saved" → >> Human → His signs are so that they might believe
- " I do not accept glory from human beings." → Refutes the Messianic archetype whilst claiming to be the Son of God
John 6 : 4th, 5th Sign
- Large crowd follows him around the time on Passover
- Multiplication of loves for 5,000 (4th) → they are about to try to make him king so he retreats across the sea towards Capernaum
- Jesus walks on water : (5th)
- The crowd follows
- What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." → point of John's gospel, you must believe
- Jesus says "I am the bread of life," "I am the bread that came down from heaven." not figuratively → (6:54) → John's institution of the Eucharist in absence of the Lord's Supper
- Disciples/Peter recognize him as "Holy One of God."
The Adulterous Woman
- "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
- Rebuking the zeal of the Pharisees who seem to take pleasure in meticulously upholding the their interpretation of Mosaic law
- "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world." → More open revelation
Lengthy discourse with Pharisees in the Temple → arguing with them about being from the Devil, which is why they don't understand what he is saying (8:40)
- "Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,'"
- Ends with them trying to stone him
The Blind Man From Birth : 6th Sign
- "Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. " 9:3
- Jews are very antagonistic at this point, the man's parents refuse responsibility for confirmation that he was blind, bc admitting Jesus' power would get them kicked from synagogue
- Continues to argue with the pharisees and prophecies his own passion, likening himself to the passover lamb: "The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep" → "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (10:2-11)
- With regard to his passion: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again." → In control
Speaking to the crowds at festival asking about his messianic identity: "The Father and I are one." → "The Jews took up stones again to stone him." 11:31
- Rhetorically asks if his works are from God, so then is he → They try to arrest him, but he escapes
Raising of Lazarus : 7th Sign
Mary and Martha summon Jesus to heal their brother, but Jesus says his end is for the glory of God and is for the glory of the Son of Man
Speaking to the disciples about having to go back into Bethany near Jerusalem , where he was nearly stoned in order to treat Lazarus, who had died, responds: "For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe." → which is really fucked up
- Countered by one of the few mentions of how Jesus felt in the whole collection of the Gospels: "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved."
"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (11:25) → Phrasing of 'I am', not 'I will' resurrect
Demonstration of prayer: "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me… Lazarus, Come out!" (11:41)
High priests find out, and begin to seriously plot his death, lest he continue to convert people
Jesus arrives in Bethany for the Passover
- Enters Jerusalem to a great crowd of Jews who exalt him with palms
- "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour." → Direct attack at Mark's Jesus
- Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." → literally speaking with God
- The crowd argues about what it was, even though Jesus said the voice came for the express purpose that they might believe.
- Still, many people, even leaders believe in Jesus, but are silent for fear of the Pharisees
- Even though he has established that he has the authority to judge, as his Father has the authority to judge, he says: "for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (12:47)
- Jesus washes the disciples feet to set an example of how they ought emulate his behavior towards each other
- Jesus foretells the betrayal by Judas → Satan enters into him
- "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also." (14:6)
- "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;" Parallels the way that he said eat of my body so that I may abide in you and you in me
- " But the Advocate,a the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you" → foreshadowing Pentecost
Aporias indicating seams in his sources (14:30)
"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming." → continues to talk forever
"None of you asks where I am going" → right after they asked where he was going
Talks about how they will mourn and be in pain like a mother is in pain in childbirth, but then they will rejoice
Chapter 17: Prayer to God, now that he's ready to go
- "I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me," (18:9)
Judas betrays Jesus at the Kidron Valley with a detachment of soldiers
- Jesus is angry with Peter for interrupting Jesus' plan
- Jesus does not hide the fact that he has been preaching in the Temple and synagogues → Annas brings him to the high priest Caiaphas who hands him over to Pilate to be killed
- Peter denies Jesus three times
- "Pilate asked him, 'What is truth?'" but doesn't wait for an answer
- Pilate releases Barabbas to the crowd and has Jesus crucified
- Jews don't like the INRI inscription, but Pilate says it stays lol
- Jesus entrusts Mary to the care of the "Beloved Disciple's"
- Why does Jesus say "It is finished" if he never institutes the last supper with the 3 cups????
- "(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)" --beloved assumingly
- Jesus' body removed from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea
- "The other disciple outran peter" to the empty tomb, what a twat
- Mary sees two angels, turns and sees Jesus, but doesn't recognize him
- "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,a the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."
Jesus questions Peter's love for him: "Feed my sheep"
Motifs present in John's Gospel
- "The world hates … me because I testify against it that its works are evil." 7:7
- Repeatedly attributes all his powers/signs/teachings not to his own divine origin, but to "the one who has sent me"/"the father"
- Bolsters his humanness
- Rebukes them for not practicing the Law of Moses → "Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me" → Open confrontation
- Repeated commendation / promise of reward to those who believe: "Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water." (7:38 )
- "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." (8:12)
Gnosticism was highly derivative of Platonism
Preferred the Gospel of John, but there was not much gnosticism in the New Testament
Along with Marcionism, gnosticism was very popular and widely hated by proto-orthodox Church Leaders
Before the Nag Hammadi was discovered, we only knew what Church Leaders wrote about Gnosticism in condemnation
Gnosticism as a philosophy → Redeemer Myth - In the beginning was God, and all our souls were unified in him. Some accident caused the Gnostis fall from Pleroma, loss of memory, into oblivion. So now we are suck in materiality. From Pleroma, a redeemer, Christ, is sent who reveals the truth of our origin, allowing our spiritual ascent back to pleroma to abide in communion with God
Characteristics of Gnosticism
Metaphysical dualism → the spirit and matter are at odds with each other
Physical world was created by an inferior God of the Old Testament, which is why the material world is inferior
Brought about by cosmic disaster - the fall, evil God created all that is bad
God is unknowable → a pure spirit who is so great that we don't/can't even know
Aeons - Personifications of God's capacities
- Also inhabit the divine realm with God as divine beings
- Reason, Will, grace -- personifications of virtue
- Last one, called Sophia, wisdom, who wanted to know the divine realm
- She falls, as she is falling, creating other Aeons outside of the divine realm
- Creates Ialdabaoth, creator of matter which is evil
- Ialdabaoth divides Sophia throughout human bodies
Divine Spark - like the matrix, if you realize you're trapped, you can be freed
Requires Gnosis → divine K N O W L E D G E
Divine Reader - Christ imbues salvific knowledge, but only for his Chosen Few → some people are just 0% spiritual, some can be saved through God's work, and some with the Divine Spark
The Ascetics Ideal - Trying to cultivate the Divine Spark, they lived like monks
Reformed to a very diverse set of religions by the 2nd Century
Sethian Gnostics - understood themselves to be direct descendants of Seth of A/E
Lots of mythology surrounding his divine origin
Invisible Spirit - original, single, divine being, -evolved into an entire pleroma = "fullness" of other beings → the Aeons
Trinity of Barbelo - "Mother of All", Christ/Son & the Invisible Spirit
Sophia births Sakla or Ialdabaoth - born outside of the divine realm → arrogant figure who believes himself to be God → OT God
Goal is to return the divine power in souls back to heaven
Valentinian Gnostics - followers of Valentinus 100 C.E. of Egypt
Much more merciful than the Sethian outlook
Humanity needs to set free various elements of the divine via gnosis from Christ
Johannine Epistles (AKA the Universal or Catholic Epistles) - written by a later author of the Johannine Community
After Jesus' death, the community separated from the Church because they viewed Jesus as divine
1, 2, 3 John are all very short
The author of 2 John refers to himself as the "elder" in response to the "elect" lady, but then begins to address a larger group → probably a Christian leader advising a large group
John 3 was likely written by the same author due to the stylistic similarities
2 and 3 are authentic letters, John 1 is less authentic → it does not follow conventional structure of intro, greeting, prayer/thanksgiving -- instead it reads more like a persuasive essay
Probably the same author as 2 and 3 John, but is it the same author as the Gospel? Probably not because they were written later than John
Contextual Criticism - understanding the context out of which a text is born
- Parallels with the Gospel of John
- Light v. dark
- New and Old Commandments
- Love one another in the community
- Being hated by the world
- Sacrificial and sent from God
- Abiding in Christ
1 John is a treatise to a community
2 John is a personal letter to a community
3 John is a personal letter to a member in the community
Contextual clues reveal that the community had secessionists who failed to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah → Antichrists
Ignatius - Author from the same period who also mentions antichrists
Opposed Docetics = thought Jesus only "appeared" or "seemed" to be the Christ
Christian communities had House Churches - much like how synagogues formed
Johannine community developed Jesus to be comparable to God, not just a prophet
Jesus is God → not flesh. Author of God is writing to these people who seceded and he thought they went to far
Makes several moral accusations against the secessionists
We don't actually know what the secessionists thought/believed, can only infer from what the author is accusing them of → not reliable
John's Community was not explicitly Gnostic - but they would have agreed with them on a lot of things
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, all saw Gnosticism as a major threat to unified Christianity
- Criticized them on the grounds of orgies & eating babies
- Secret meetings (mass) where these secessionists ate and drank together, kissed each other, and ate the flesh of the Son of [their] God
Early church fathers had access to text like the Nag Hammadi - but but misinterpreted them
Heracleon - Provided the first commentary on John around 170 C.E.
Gospels of Thomas, Peter, and Judas were found in Nag Hammadi
Most non-canonical gospels were produced in the 2nd Century
4 main types: Narrative, Sayings, Infancy, and Passion
Gospel of the Nazareans
- Basically an Aramaic translation of Matthew with some derivatives
- Pre-Matthew final version, modified Matthew, or used Oral Tradition
- Focus on upholding Jewish Law better than the Pharisees
Gospel of Ebionites
- Combination of the Synoptics → a long Gospel Harmony
- Abolition of animal sacrifice, radically demands vegetarianism, in fact
Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of the Egyptians, originated in Greece, named by a gentile - Gnostic slant, compilation of Oral Tradition, like Mark and John
Diatessaron - The most famous Gospel Harmony
- Written in 170 C.E. by Tation which mean "through the four"
Gospel of Marcion
- Revised Gospel of Luke without the Jewish connections
- Uses Paul as his authority, removed positive references to Jewish Scripture
- Removed birth narrative because it didn't fit his Docetic view (Jesus as all divine, not flesh or human at all)
- Tertullian - preserved much of Marcion's Gospel because he beefed with it as a proto-orthodox Church Leader
Gospel of Thomas - "sayings" Gospel
- Most significant find from the Nag Hammadi
- 114 sayings of Jesus, with no order or context : proverbs
- Not Messianic, miracle working, or son of God → Jesus of eternal salvation via words alone → jai gnostic
- More than half of the sayings can be found in the Synoptics
- The other half is borderline nonsense → very cryptic (requires divine spark to understand)
- Understanding all of the wisdom of Thomas grants eternal life
- No resurrection or birth → Jesus' early doings have little relevance, the book is about stripping the soul from the body to escape death
- Written in Coptic, difficult to associate it with other Synoptics
- Different from Q in its denial of a passion & resurrection which Q stressed
Gospel of Mary
- Discovered in 1896, published in 1955
- Follows Mary Magdalene
- Gnostic, anti-materialist response from Jesus when Asked "will the material world be destroyed?" → Jesus answers only Mary, and her recollection to Peter is missing from the transcript
- Only includes her description of the ascent of the soul
Other Nag Hammadi Texts
Apocryphon of John - Jesus reveals secrets of the Universe to John, Son of Zebedee
- Origin of of the evil creator Ialdabaoth
Apocryphon of James - Dialogue with Peter and James 550 days after the Resurrection
Epistles of the Apostles - Supposedly a letter from the 11 to the Christian World, warning them of the false Apostles like Simon Magnus and Cerinthus, who were 2 infamous Gnostics
Infancy Gospel of Thomas - Jesus as a youth working Miracles
- Dated around 125 C.E.
- Young Jesus had a temper → kills other children and resurrects them, but eventually comes around to use his powers for good
- Withers a school teacher
- Ends with Jesus in the Temple, being praised by scribes
Proto-Gospel of James - about pre-birth holy family
- Mar was miraculously born of an affluent family
- Joseph won her hand in marriage via casting lots - as an old widower
Gospel of Peter - Passion narrative
- Eusebius of the 4th Century wrote a lot about this one's popularity in the 2nd Century, but we only know that it contained docetic christology
- Banned book that we know little about
- "He was silent, as if he felt no pain"
- Fragment of the final page discovered in 1886 in a grave of an Egyptian Monk
- Blames Herod for Jesus' death
- Somewhat similar to the synoptics → written after w/o reliance on them
_The Coptic Apocalypse of Peter_ - Passion
- From Peter's point of view - from the Nag Hammadi
- Negatively depicts Church Leaders who think Jesus' significance lies in his death
- It is merely a release from his mortal shell → 3 Jesuses in the account
- Ends with Peter "coming to his senses" and awaking from the Revelation
Gospel of Judas Iscariot - Passion
- Most significant discovery of early Christian text in the past 50 years
- Discovered in 1978 near Cairo
- Mentioned by Irenaeus as used by the very secretive Gnostic Cainites
- Opposed the lower deity → Creator God
- Judas as a martyr → the only one who understand Jesus → makes it possible for Jesus to escape his mortal trappings
- Does not include his crucifixion, ends w/ Judas deliverance of Jesus
In each of the last 2, Jesus laughs during his crucifixion at those who don't understand who he is
The most reliable sources are the Gospels which are conflicting texts, written decades after Jesus' life, in a different language, based on Oral Tradition which had been circulating for some time…
Historians establish criteria so that sources can be evaluated for historical accuracy
- Numerous accounts that can cross-referenced
- Originated close to Jesus lifetime to mitigate exaggeration
- Produced independently of one another → no collusion
- Do not contradict each other
- Internally consistent
- Not biased so the subject supports author's interests
Pagan / Jewish texts before 130 C.E. that mention Jesus
Very few, as if Jesus had 0 immediate impact
0 mention in pagan texts in that 100 year span
Pliny the Younger - 112 C.E. Roman governor of Bithynia-Pontus is the first to reference Jesus
Suetonius - Roman historian who wrote about Jewish riots around 41-54 C.E. which were instigated by one "Chrestu" → Christ
Tacitus - Roman historian, mentioned Christianity in his history of Rome, titled The Annals
- Mentions how Nero user Christianity as the scapegoats for his burning of Rome → references Jesus' death @ Pontius Pilate and the superstition that later emerged
Very few Jewish Texts from this period at all
Mishnah - Rabbinic opinions on Jewish Law published two centuries after Jesus died
Josephus - Provided insight on the Jewish war against Rome 66-73 C.E.
- Authored a 20 volume history on Judaism from the Fall in the Garden through to 66 C.E.
- Identifies Jewish high priest Ananus 62 C.E. who kills James "The brother of Jesus who called himself the Messiah"
- Identifies Jesus as the Messiah in volume 18 → potentially modified later on by a Christian scribe
Non-canonical Gospels published through the 8th Century
Little information outside of the New Testament can be considered Historical → most historical would be Paul who talks more about the cosmic truths than history
Constrains sources to the Gospels, written 40-65 years after Christ's death, most of which source Oral Tradition...
Ranking Sources in terms of historical value: Paul, Q, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Josephus
Must account for bias e.g. the Gospel of Peter blames Jewish Herod for Jesus' death, slightly anti-semitic
Criterion for Independent Attestation - Negates the historicity of stories shared by the synoptics because mark could have lied, and both Matthew & Luke copied Mark
- Exceptions include Baptism stories which appear in Mark | Q | John which are all independent of each other
- Jesus' Brother James appears Mark | John | Paul
- Seeds as a metaphor for the Kingdom of God Mark | Q | Thomas
Criterion of Similarity - If the history perfectly aligns with the theological motivations of the author, that's kind of suspicious
- Passing an agenda via Jesus' mouth (e.g. the gentile mission)
- Matthew very Jewish, Luke very gentile
- Problem with this criteria is that it's very likely that they overlap: presuppositions of the author AND what actually happened can both be true…
Criterion of Dissimilarity - More likely reliable if it can be shown to be different from the agendas of Judaism and Christianity
Best used to show what he did, not what he didn't do
Things that are not Jewish, because Jesus was reforming Judaism
Things that are not Christian, because Christianity came after Jesus
E.g. Jesus baptized by John, which implies his spiritual inferiority, why include that unless it actually happened?
E.g. Betrayed by one of the 12
E.g. Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and sinners
Problem is that the things that are embarrassing/theologically challenging vary by culture
E.g. "Let the dead bury the dead" --Q 9:60
It doesn't make sense for Jesus to say that, the burial process was very important, and it's not a thing that Christianity lost from Judaism either
Very Apocalyptic: You don't have time to bury people, come follow me NOW
Problem is that Jesus was Jewish which is very similar to Px, so there's probably a lot of things he said about which both agree
Criterion of Contextual Credibility - Things that just don't make sense
- E.g. the Gospel of Philip referencing Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist which were non-existent yet.
- Strictly negative application → used to identify things which did not happen
Criterion of Multiple Attestation - More likely to be reliable if it is preserved in two or more sources that are independent of each other
- Most objective criterion → does not require interpretation
- E.g. Parable of mustard seed appears in the Synoptics and the Gospel of Thomas
- Jesus' sayings of marriage appear in Mark and in Corinthians
- Problem: lies could be injected into the Oral Tradition early on and there could be reliable things Jesus said or did that some authors didn't like so they didn't include
Criterion of Contextual Credibility - Things that make sense in the context of what we already know to be true
- E.g. Jesus' discussion with the tax collector in Matthew 18
- Problem: Presuppositions about historical Jesus could lead to false conclusion and texts are always up for interpretation
- Also depends on which criteria is used to establish "what we know"
What we do know about historical Jesus:
- Galilean, born ~4 B.C.E
- Likely baptized by John the Baptist and may have been following him until he amassed his own following
- Wherever he preached, it upset the Romans and Jews
- Spent passover week in Jerusalem where he did something (likely in the Temple) which got him in trouble
- Arrested, crucified -- which is an exclusively Roman execution
- Pontius Pilate is depicted as a tool → passes blame to the Jews, but historically, he got in trouble for his excessive crucifixions…
- Rome gets antsy during Passover because it's a Jewish celebration of their mantra that "God always liberates God's people."
- Jesus comes in talkin bout liberation → looks like a terrorist, so they kill him
- Jesus pisses off the Sadducees in the temple who go to Daddy's $ → Romans
- The claim to be God would only have pissed off Jews, Roman was highly polytheistic → blasphemy wasn't a crime to them -- it was because of the political dissidence he was stirring up
This continues a trend of persecution spiking in 64 A.D. under Nero, as well as 250 A.D. when Germanic tribes were at the borders and internal Roman operations were crumbling
Large groups of Christians refusing to worship/make sacrifices to Roman Gods for the safety of the state
This posed a threat to the Roman state → easiest solution is to kill Christians
Jesus likely spoke in parables
How scholars understand Jesus
He was a Man of Spirit - a social prophet/sage
Jesus was non-Messianic → never claimed the title or his own agenda
core value was compassion
Prophet of Social Change - Cared for the welfare of the people
- Entire ministry focused on relieving social maladies
- Came to mediate and manifest the Kingdom of God -- very Lukan interpretation
The Apocalyptic Prophet - Most popular aspect of historical Jesus
- John the Baptist → preached remission of sins bc the ends is near
- Heavy Apocalyptic tones in Pauline Epistles → earliest Christian texts
- Jewish Culture was a hotbed of Apocalypticism
There are forces of good and evil evident in every aspect of reality
God is good, but the world/present era is controlled by evil
God will come to destroy all evil and save the good which existed in the evil world
Humanity makes a fatal mistake (Garden of Eden), the repercussions are inescapable, and this changes the rules of society
A world view where a cataclysmic event changes the world order
General resurrection of the dead
Most Jewish groups, but not all e.g. Sadducees, would have believed in this
Final Judgement → Get it together
Satan's supporters will be annihilated along with the supporters of the current world order
Blessed are the poor, not the rich, for they have benefited from the status quo
God's supporters will enter a period of peace and happiness
Jewish Apocalypticism contended that there were 2 eras:
Present, evil era vs. the future era the Kingdom of God
The Messiah gathers and guides people to the Kingdom of God, namely Jesus
Israelites have been historically delivered from oppressors [by God] → So they're literally waiting for another deliverance from Rome
Very prevalent during the mid-late 1st C. when the Jews were being rocked by the Romans → see destruction of the temple in 70 C.E.
Gives rise to apocalyptic thought, many Jews welcomed this because they wanted the coming era, the destruction of the Temple was an OBVIOUS trigger of the retribution of the Romans
Ancient Apoc. → believed the end of the world was coming very soon
In the 2nd and 3rd C., after Jesus still hadn't returned, early church leaders began to establish a hierarchy, rules, apostolic succession, doctrine, etc.
165 B.C.E, 70 C.E. large spikes in Apoc. texts written marking the beginning and end of the Jewish revolt :(
Daniel - Earliest Apocalypse
- Especially Chapters 7 - 12
- Most important text for understanding how Jews saw themselves in the context of an Apoc. from Rome
Mark's mini Apocalypse - Chapter 13
Matthew - Chapter 24
Luke - Chapters 21 and 17:27-37
1 Corinth - Chapters 15:20-28
Rapture Theory - Jesus returns and his followers begin to ascend to meet him
- Stems from 1 Thessalonians
Antichrist Theory - Lawless man sets up shop in the Temple before the days of Lord
- Stems from 2 Thessalonians
- "Miracles are impossible" - the Enlightenment
- Apollonius of Tyana and Hanina ben Dosa - Jesus' contemporary miracle workers
- Miracles were not performed by humans, but by Gods
- Things that existed outside of the Natural Law before sciences caught up with them
- Asclepius - Son of the God of Apollo known as a great God of Healing
Jesus' preached an immediate apocalyptic perspective and message
Both Mark and Q portray Jesus as an Apocalypticist
Historically, we know that Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple which is multiply attested in Mark and John
- He calls the Temple a cult : "Den of Thieves" → similar to the Essenes who believed that worship of God had gotten out of hand and became ascetics
- Sadducees abused their power → Daddy's $
No need for the Temple when the Kingdom of God arrives → Jews would not have thought that this idea was very cash money
12 Disciples → very apocalyptic number, fulfillment of the 12 Tribes of Israel
Jesus' association with tax collectors and sinners → Jewish leaders reject his mission, so he turns to those most in need of repentance in light of the imminent judgement
Associated with women in all four gospels which reinforces the apocalyptic message "last shall be first and first shall be last"
His exorcisms are multiply attested and not uncommon for a rabbi
Jesus' healings and removals of sickness are the manifestations of the Kingdom of God which is without imperfection
All the these things portray Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet who foresaw the destruction of Israel/the Temple as a prefix to the entrance of the Kingdom of God
In response to the Da Vinci Code's claims of his affairs with Mary Magdalene
- Apocalyptic Jews (Essenes/Paul) were largely bachelors
- Every. Single. Gospel. Canon or not lacks any mention of Jesus' spouse/ child implicated by the book
Jesus erases marriage in the Kingdom of God
Sermon on the Mount stresses the reversal of status quo → get on board, relinquish your power in order to enter the Kingdom of God
Confession is a manifestation of the Pharisees' push for a status quo
Jesus' apparent rejection of family values:
- Hate your mother, father, brothers, and sisters and turn to me
- His own mother and father rejected his public ministry after all
Jesus likely knew his fate upon re-entering Jerusalem
Jesus' resurrection was his initial claim to fame, his message was only put on blast afterwards, via the gospels
Christianity fundamentally was a belief in his death for sin, and his resurrection
- Different from the religion he espoused → Religion of Jesus vs. the Religion about Jesus
Historically, Christianity begins with Jesus's death and resurrection which sparked belief in his message
In some sense then, Christianity was founded by women
All the Gospels agree that some group of women encountered the empty tomb
- However, Paul, the first Christian author, does not mention the empty tomb
Alternatively, the women are giddy and terrified -- unreliable, which is why their reports of the resurrection were not believed, explaining why Paul doesn't mention them
First followers of Jesus, Apocalyptic Jews, wouldn't have thought his death was for sin, but that God had raised him to ascend
- Similarly, people who were believed to have been "exalted into heaven" were divinized - made into Gods : Enoch, Moses, Julius Caesar
Jesus' resurrection influenced interpretation of his message → he claimed to be the Son of God, and referred to God as Father → strengthened his message
- Messiah → ruler of the Kingdom of God, which arrived with the Son of Man → obey his teachings about how to implement the Kingdom of God
Before Jesus, no Jews believed that the Messiah would die for sins
Jews understood scripture to be a personal revelation of wisdom for coping with life
- Psalms of Lament which speak about a: "righteous man who comes to suffer at the hands of God's enemies and be vindicated"
- Not viewed as Messianic until Jesus' death and Px spread
- Christians believed Jewish suffering in Psalms foreshadowed Jesus' passion → it was God's plan the whole time
Isaiah - Wrote about the suffering of God's righteous one
- "Songs of the suffering servant"
- Died for the sins of people → atonement
- Interpreted to refer to Israel under Babylon, not Messianic until Christianity
Whereas crucifixion was viewed as a Jewish stumbling block (how could the Messiah be killed so shamefully?), it became the cornerstone of Christianity
Not a miscarriage of justice → part of God's plan
"Son of Man" - from Daniel
- Jews envisioned a cosmic ruler/Messiah
- Pagans imagined just a human
"Son of God" - even more Messianic/kingly → anointed, not the image of a religious leader…
Once different canons were established, the differences in Gospels became homogenized rather highlighted
Vicarious Suffering - Originated with Jewish martyrs to describe dying to save others
Maccabean Revolt - Eleazar single handedly attacks an elephant who he thought was carrying the King of Syria → (((enemy of God)))
- Gets crushed → "so he gave his life to save his people"
2nd to Jesus himself, Paul is the most important New Testament figure, authoring half the New Testament and spreading the Christian mission
Hebrews adopted into the canon later than a lot of other texts only because it was attributed to him, though it makes no such authorial claim
Paul was the strongest advocate for the gentile mission at a time when it would have made no sense people who were not "God's people" could be saved
Preached that Jesus died for the salvation of the world, not just Israel
13 books attributed to him, but some were probably pseudonymous
- Pseudepigrapha - "Writings inscribed in false hand"
- Undisputed (7)
- 1, 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
Probably pseudonymous (3)
- 2 Thessalonians
Most certainly not Paul (3)
- 1,2 Timothy
Chronology (based on Acts, so take with a magnum grain of salt)
|c. 36||Conversion -- more certain date than others|
|46 - 49||First mission → S. Turkey|
|49||Council of Jerusalem|
|c. 52||Second mission → Asia Minor and Greece|
|c. 5x||Third mission → Greece and Asia minor again|
|58||Arrest in Jerusalem|
|60||Journey to Rome|
Pastoral Epistles - Instructions to churches as to how to operate : probably not written by Paul, just written under his name to push an agenda
Deutero-Pauline - "Second Paul" heavily influenced by Paul, but worked in alignment with his mission
Undisputed - Share style, vocab, theology, and context
Acts is accurate to Paul like Luke is accurate to Jesus
Paul's own letters greatly differ from Acts
Acts/Luke says he went to Jerusalem after he converted to speak with the Apostles
Paul says he didn't his message was straight from God, influenced by no man
Therefore, either Paul is a liar, or Luke was pushing a unification narrative
Paul is preaching to Pagans according to Acts → They're misunderstood about God being God of all → sinful out of ignorance
Paul in Romans → attacks pagans for their willful idolatry and disobedience
His letters are occasional, not thematic and mass-listed for all of Christianity to consume → we have no comprehensive Pauline theology, only the fragments he highlight in response to the issues in his churches
He rarely refers to his own life, mostly the issues in his Churches
- He does touch on his 3 stages though: life as a pharisee, conversion experience, activities as Apostles
Paul as a Pharisee
- Well-off zealot for Jewish Law
- Acts says he was from Tarsus, educated by a renowned Rabbi
- Maybe just bumping his ethos → that's like Ivy league Jew
- His writing is demonstrative of his education tho
- Only wrote in Greek, but might have known Hebrew/Aramaic
- Well-off zealot for Jewish Law
As an apocalyptic writer, he would have believed in the resurrection
To most Jews, to call Jesus the messiah, who was crucified, and "cursed is anyone who hangs from a tree" was blasphemous
Converted as a young man → speaks of the "first fruits" of the resurrection
After he comes to believe that Jesus resurrected, he believes that he was truly the Messiah
Somewhat conflicting view on Jewish law
- Only through observation of the Law → (faith) can we achieve salvation - But also strict adherence led to consequences
"Paul's" letters (Undisputed)
Early letters: 1, 2 Thessalonians
Great Epistles: Galatians, 1, 2 Corinthians, Romans
- 2 Corinthians may be a collection Pauline letters → visible seams and needless repetition
Captivity Epistles: Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon
- Colossians and Ephesians have a distinct style and language from the Greater Epistles → Ephesians deliberately borrows words and ideas from earlier letters
Pastorals: 1,2 Timothy, Titus
- Tells of post-captivity in the east, but there are several errors: household codes, church hierarchy that was never mentioned before (but now all the early church figures are gone...)
We know that Paul never met Jesus, but he becomes the most influential apostle, and the rest of the 11 are understandably apprehensive because they don't really know what his message is, but they know that he's out there establishing shurches in Jesus' name months after he was stoning those same people...
- Paul stoned a leader of the church : Stephen
Paul's Conversion (Acts 9:3-18) contains many parallels to Genesis 46:2-7
Paul's own story (1 Corinthians) does not match Acts
2 Types of Authority
- Institutional - E.g. Apostolic succession, from tradition or law
- Charismatic - From a vision (inspired by the Holy Spirit) → Paul doesn't think he has to justify himself
Letters of Antiquity a genre
- Paul did not wish for literary publication, but did expect them to be read aloud by the recipient to a congregation
- His letters were treasured and ultimately led to the creation of books
Structure of an ancient Epistle:
I. Praescriptio - Epistolary prescript/greeting
- "Paul to ____" or "Paul, Timothy, Philemon, and Titus to the church of ____"
- Unclear who contributes which parts where though, therefore the letters are simply attributed to Paul
- "Grace and Peace" → Jewish 'shalom,' but with a Christian shift because the Christian message is known as "the good news of the peace of Jesus Christ"
- Grace is a gift, not earned, from God because he is merciful
- "I give thanks to God for you and your faithful steadfast in the face of persecution" or whatever, in order to preface the theme of the letter
- Paul does this very meticulously in EVERY letter except in Galatians because he's mad at them
III. Body - The text based on the occasion of the letter
- His response to big problems in the churches he previously founded
- Sleeping with your step mother, speaking in tongues, the rich eating all of the supper, Christians suing other Christians, people eating idol meat, etc.
- "Pauline theology" is shaky because he rarely speaks comprehensively, just what the audience needs to hear
IV. Conclusion - Short, personal conclusion, good wishes, closing blessing
- "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always"
The first surviving letter of Paul, written over 15 years before Mark
- Oldest book of the New Testament : ~49 C.E.
Audience is beloved to Paul, no real qualms prompting the letter
Writing to a church in Thessalonica, the capital of Roman Macedonia
Paul likely preached in synagogues to Jews and devout gentiles of the God of Israel
Probably preached for a few weeks before antagonistic Jews ran him out of town
We have no account from Paul though, just Acts... Paul just mentions the pagans of Macedon, not Jews and devout gentiles
He probably preached out of his tent shop accompanied by Timothy and Silvanus
Would have been received as 'elite' philosophers, as no other groups really did any 'converting'
Insula - Apartments in ancient, urban Rome → where Paul would've operated
Open First floor design was reserved for business/socializing
Convinced pagans to turn away from dead/false idols and towards the one True/living God
Stressed the Son of God, resurrection, and his return (a foreign concept to pagans)
Salvation by belief in the Son of God
Transformed pagans into apocalyptic Jews
Met in "House Churches", semi-exclusive, distinct by worship to Paul's message
Private/voluntary participation was not uncommon amongst other cults
Necessary to secure/fund burials of the members that would have been individually expensive
1 Thessalonians is very personable and loving → most of it is thanksgiving
Paul advises them not to engage in sexual immorality → keep image pure to the outside world
Christianity was already getting persecuted → shunned for sorcery etc., no need to fan the fire powering persecution
Major issue Paul addresses: loss of faith after members of the church community died before Jesus returned, so what happens to them?
Paul responds, they will be the first to enter into the KoG
Jesus comes for the living and the dead → but Paul expects to be alive when Jesus comes again
Corinth was like the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire
- Though this tarnished reputation actually came from Athens in a [successful] attempt to suppress the cultural authority of their rival
Paul writes to them for their interpersonal conflict and ethical impropriety
Condemns their one-upmanship of spirituality, lots of suing, and gluttony at the celebrations of the last supper
Audience is primarily uneducated gentiles, but some elite diversity
Declined their patronage → viewed this as "Putting the gospel up for sale"
Appears as though enough Corinthians were able to take the Gospel message as a starting point and extrapolate upwards (sometimes incorrectly) unlike the Thessalonians who struggled with his basic message
Never mentions Jesus' baptism, transfiguration, preaching of the Kingdom of God, or Pontius Pilate → he's writing before the gospels
His principle message was of Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and his second coming
Unlike Thessalonians, Paul assumes the Corinthians have a working knowledge of Jewish Scripture
- Uses Jewish quotations to stress the omnipotence of Jesus' message
Calls them out for abusing the message to exalt themselves to glory
Paul hears of their wrongdoings via Apollos → a fellow Christian leader
Writes first to the people of "Chloe's Congregation" - a wealthy, slave owning women, to address the factions that were forming as well as the criticism of his teachings he had received in previous letters
Jesus after the resurrection in "first fruits of Resurrection"
- Corinthians are not exalted in their present state as they have not undergone spiritual transformation - 'they are but demons in their quarrels'
- In thinking so, they overlook the very real dangers of evil in the present
- They speak in tongues in mass to elevate themselves over each other
Deems marriage as the utility to temper sexual temptation, but if can you bear the gift of celibacy, do that instead
Follow up letter to the same community → indicates persistent religious issues
Dramatic tone shifts present within indicate that it is a compilation of several letters
CH 1- 9 : good terms with the congregation → joyful
- Glad that they have repented for having treated him rudely
CH 10:13 : Bitter and incensed, warns that he will come to them for a third time "in judgement"
Addresses the Super Apostles - who perform signs → false apostles who cause disorder and disobedience
Likely the second half was written before the first half in response to his initial humiliation
Timeline of 2 Corinthians
- 1st Visit - Paul, Silvanus, Timothy → initial mission trip
- 1st Letter - Lost letter mentioned in 1 corinthians - dealt with ethical issues
- 1st Letter Back - Asking about more ethical issues, like can married people do a sex???
- 2nd Letter (1 Corinthians) - Responds to their letter and conveys his plans to visit again
- 2nd Visit - Apparently visited, but was treated really poorly, threatens to return in judgement
- Arrival of superapostles - False prophets of Gospel who cause dissent → "ministers of Satan"
- 3rd Letter (2 Corinthians, part 2) - Attacks the super apostles, Corinth is material and not glorified → does not intend to return again
- 4th Letter (2 Corinthians, part 1) - After they apologize, Paul is pleased with them agains
Believers will not be glorified until Christ comes again
Paul Hopes to be glorified with them
Unclear whether they ever got their act together or not
Unlike Corinthians, Galatians follows a unitary message addressing a single problem
- Other missionaries insisting on following parts of the Jewish Law in order to be made right before God: namely circumcision
Paul argues that this is not just unnecessary, but a misunderstood perversion of the Gospel message and an affront to God -- a rejection of Justification by Faith
He does not thank the audience, unlike all of his other messages
"Galatia" is the large vertical region with cities in the South including Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, but it also stretched North for a ways
Conflict between Paul and Acts → Acts says he founded churches in Galatia on a mission, but Paul said he merely converted some Galatians who nursed him while he was seriously ill
"A person is justified before God by not doing the works of Jewish Law, but by having faith in Christ."
- Parallels the Johannine message
Paul begins by establishing his divine authority in order to refute claims that Gentiles must partake in the fullness of Jewish covenants i.e. circumcision in order to partake in the fullness of Christianity
- Those who have abandoned God by not trusting in Paul's message are 'Cursed by God'
Segues into an autobiography to further establish his ethos
- A prominent Jew, approaching the upper limit of pharisaical distaste for gentiles and Christianity
- Also an inspired apostle → message straight from God → superior authority than Jerusalem
- Only conferred with Jerusalem to touch base, not to "get the story straight" and at the Council of Jerusalem
- Paul is vehement about this → "Before God, I do not lie"
Takes offense at the notion that there is a difference between Jew and Gentile before God that the other missionaries seemed to spread
- If the law alone was sufficient, then Jesus need not have died
He includes a blessing, but no thanksgiving, because he wants to guilt them for the grace he mentions in the blessing → did they gain the Holy Spirit's favor through Law, or by believing; through flesh, or through promise
Faith, like the faith of Abraham, the Father of Nations, not just the Jews is superior to the works
- The law says that no one can follow all of the laws, and those who do not follow all the laws will be cursed
Adopts a Mattean response to the lawlessness that might follow the abandonment of the law that he seems to imply → "Christians are committed to each other in love → fulfillment of the Law"
Paul sees some laws as very Jewish (circumcision, keeping Kosher), and other as natural/Universal (love thine neighbor)
To circumvent the inability to keep all the laws, as the Law itself states → the Holy Spirit allows upright faith in God
- Those non-believers are "ruled by the flesh, not the promise of the KoG"
Longest and most sophisticated letter of the Pauline Corpus
Closest thing to a summary of Pauline theology that we have → shaped Christian theology for centuries to come
Writing to a church he did not establish, therefore it is unburdened by a solution to their problems, since Paul didn't know them
However, as his audience did not know him, his credibility/education is very important to give his letter authority
Not writing to address a specific problem, instead preaching his interpretation of the Gospel
Perhaps writing to them to ask for support for his Western Church → the Roman church was huge and important
Writes to address their shaky perception of him (he who abolished Jewish Law?)
Follows the ancient rhetorical style of diatribe → as a student of Platonic dialectic
Advances a thesis and then disproves legitimate counterpoints
Shows that the author has authority and is always right
Romans would have appreciated the rhetorical style
Writes to persuade his opposition within the Church of Rome about the truth of the Gospel message: Jews and Gentiles are equal in the eyes of God and equally saved by Christ's resurrection
"The one who is righteous will live by faith"
Part of his opening statement, likely comes from an early Christian creed as it is distinct from his usual style, but would be familiar to his audience
First - Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel → he is very confident in it (from God)
Second - Paul's Gospel is God's powerful means of salvation → apart from Paul's Gospel, there would be no salvation
Third - Salvation comes to those who have faith → Paul demands justification (to be made right before God)
Fourth - Salvation comes first to the Jews, then the Gentiles → Jews are the chosen people of God and his Law, but they are equal to Gentiles in terms of Judgement
Fifth - The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God → God has not forsaken his covenant with the Jews, but Jesus fulfilled that covenant through his passion, so that all might be saved
Sixth - Scripture proclaims the Gospel → cites Jewish scripture to the Romans who respected the ancient religion
No formal Gospel exists yet, so Paul is referring to his own message which was revealed by God
Paul's models for salvation
Judicial - Mankind is on trial for its sins before God
- The penalty is death, because god is Just → the human condition is death for its sins
- God is merciful (by grace) and Jesus is without sin, his death pays for everyone else's
- Grace is undeserved, unearned → through belief in the Death and Resurrection
Participationist - Sin as a cosmic force that must be escaped
- Sin enslaves people and Jesus Redeems (purchases) us from sin
- Jesus' resurrection demonstrated that he was not subject to this force
- Baptism unites us in Christ, allowing us to participate in his death and Resurrection → Jesus abides in us
- Undergo a transformation of identity
In one model, sin is willful, in the other its enslaving
Flow of Paul's argument
- Human condition - Everyone sins and dies equally before God
- Divine solution through Jesus' Death - Jewish Law focuses on sin, but proposes no solution. Jesus' death makes everyone righteous before God
- Gospel message rooted in Sacred Scripture - Abraham was justified through works, obedience, and by trusting his faith → Christianity inherited this covenant
- The Death and Resurrection bring freedom - Flesh is subject to sin which died in Christ
- A Law-free Gospel does not lead to lawlessness - Self-sacrificial love in Christ becomes the new Law
- Close of the Letter - Greetings to specific members of the congregation
I. Praescriptio - Opens with a warm Greeting to the pre-established church which foreshadows the main points to follow
- His message conforms with what God has promised to Christianity
- Ties legacy to Judaism by tying it to prophets and scripture
- They're obligated to spread the mission of Christianity and crucified Christ
- Those who receive it are undeserving, but receive grace nonetheless
II. Thanksgiving - Thanks them for their "faithfulness," announces his plans to visit
- "One is justified in God by faithfully responding to his call"
- Through God's grace we are justified, so we better just be faithful
- Playing it nicer to the Big Powerful Roman Church
- Paul's Pride and Joy is
- his good news, mission
- that the Romans share it
III. Body - Expression of Pauline Theology
Sinfulness of Gentiles - worshipping of created rather than creator
Distinguishes Christians from Jews - yet there is no difference in Jew and Gentile in the eyes of God because of Jesus' crucifixion
God is knowable from the Natural Order by creation alone - creation is orderly
Humans beings get fixated on the world itself, rather than seeing it as a reflection of God's benevolence → inability to see past this world
This leads to other sins: sexual immorality, idolatry, etc.
- Idolatry gives rise to every other sin: worshipping the world, not its creator
- This argument sounds very Jewish → who the Romans viewed as very traditional
- Paraprosdokian - Pulls the rug out from under them "it was Christianity the whooole tiiime"
People judging others - those who judge others are "storing up God's wrath"
- Not concerned with individual hypocrisy as much as the group political claims → Jews are inferior, etc.
- God judges people by their deeds, not by their group identity, and he is impartial → Paul condemns judgement as badly as idolatry
Jewish judgement of the Gentiles - the chosen people have a high moral standard, but they don't follow all the laws the espouse, giving them a bad name among gentiles → making God look bad
Your actions can undercut your salvation
Sin is a universal reality → no one is free from it because God is a just God
- God serves death for sin → everyone dies
- If sin is the problem, God's response is gracious justification opportunity through Jesus
- The Old Testament God is Just; and it's the same God in the New Testamnet, but he sent Jesus who was crucified for our sins allowing for mercy
- Humans are required to have faith in what God has done through Christ
- We can be redeemed ("purchased", slavery connotation) from our oppressive sins. Bought back in Christ via faith
Various models of salvation from Paul
God's actions via Jesus are full of grace in that we do not even deserve the opportunity for salvation
- Paul crafts a dualistic image of God
- God is Just and we will die
- God is loving and merciful via Jesus whose death redeems our sins → faith is the only appropriate response
Did Paul and Jesus represent the same religion?
Members of Pauline churches certainly told stories about Jesus which could have eventually become the Oral Tradition of the Gospel
Paul rarely says anything about historical Jesus other than:
- Born of a woman as a Jew, had brothers, one of whom was named James
- Conducted his ministry among Jews
- Had a last supper on the night he was betrayed
- Knows what Jesus said at the Last Supper
- Knows that Christians should not get divorced and should pay their preachers
- Paul parallels some of Jesus' teachings: pay taxes, obey the law, and love their neighbors → but he does not attribute these teaching to Jesus
Things he doesn't include:
Parents, early life, baptism, wilderness
- Kingdom of God, no parables, healings, transfigurations, cleansing of the Temple
- No interrogation by the Sanhedrin or Pontius Pilate
Option 1 → no occasion to mention these things
He clearly knew the apostles would have been telling these stories
Never mentions stories to converts because he opened with them in his mission → they would have already known them
However, most of his letters are reminders of what he already taught them...
- Paul had ample opportunity to use stories to support him, but he rarely did...
Option 2 - Considered Jesus stories irrelevant to his mission
- Jesus' death and resurrection are of most import
- But he still cites Jesus often...
Option 3 - He just didn't know enough about Jesus
Nonetheless, he and Jesus agree on a lot: monotheism, covenants with Israel, Apocalypticism
Jesus still maintains Jewish Law, but Paul says no amount of obedience is greater than faith
Paul thinks faith alone vs. James faith and works model
- Probably had different definitions of "faith" and "works"
Thecla - Takes Paul's celibate advice to heart and ends her engagement to follow the Apostles
Theudas - Teacher of the infamous 2nd century gnostic Valentinus
- Said to have been a disciple of Paul
There were several sects of Pauline Christianity
Pseudepigrapha - A work authored under a false name/somebody else's name
- A field of study for advanced students: forgery/imitation
- Sometimes documents were signed under their teacher's name in an act of humility/attribution of the containing knowledge to that person
- Writing that makes an authorial claim, unlike the Gospels
Homonymous - A writing attributed to someone of the same name
- John of Revevelation and John of Zebedee
Deutero-Pauline Epistles - Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians
Pastorals - 1, 2 Timothy, Titus
2 Thessalonians - most contested Pauline Epistle
Claims to be written by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy
Likely written in the late 1st century, after Paul's death
Written to Christians who were suffering for their faith
1, 2 Thessalonians are verbatim in several places, but have very split eschatologies
Repeated insistence that Paul is the author, and that people should not believe in other texts written under his name
Typical tactic of Pseudepigrapha: "don't believe others, but I am true"
Author discounts "whatever an earlier letter from 'Paul' may have said, do not be deceived" -- Quoth the deceiver
- Delayed arrival of the Kingdom of God: "Do dead people go to heaven?"
- Uncontested 1 Thessalonians says yes, and they go first
- 2 Thessalonians says: worldwide signs will indicate the end of days and the coming of the KoG: rebellion, lawless one revealed
2 Thessalonians says Jesus will return to defeat the antichrist
Pretty huge chunk of theology here, why wouldn't Paul mention it elsewhere?
The rest of Paul's undisputed corpus says "the end is coming ASAP like a thief in the night" ← 1 Thessalonians
Counter-argument: someone claiming to be Paul wrote to the Thessalonians saying that Jesus returned and the Kingdom of God is upon them, so they stop working because the full realization of the Kingdom of God is like 1 day away.
- Explains 2 Thessalonians authorial claim and the disparate 'end of days' theology, it's like a clarification for them to get back to work
Written to address those who thought that the day of judgement had already arrived
Describes how they will know the apocalypse is here/coming
Anti-Christ -- unique to 2 Thessalonians
People believed it was so imminent/present that they quit their jobs and became a social burden on the rest of the Christian community
1 Thessalonians says "it will come like a thief in the night", 2 Thess says there will be several advanced warnings
Antichrist - A central focus of 2 Thessalonians which is not mentioned anywhere else but is a pretty big portion of this author's theology
So, who wrote 2 Thessalonians? Someone being persecuted as a Christian in the 1st century, either by a Jew or Roman
Probably post 70 C.E., and they must have had access to 1 Thess. Bc of the verbatim agreements
Perhaps saw himself as a Pauline Christian
Written by "Paul" in prison, addressing the false teachers in Colossae
Addressed to a church that the author did not found (explains why he had to claim Paul's name for authority)
Condemns the false "philosophy and empty deceit" → but does not specify what these teachings are, assumes his audience knows
- Some form of Judaic traditions: Kosher and Circumcision
Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, therefore maintain your good Christian faith until he returns
Writing style differs greatly from the undisputed Pauline Corpus
Author says that Christians have died and risen in Christ, but Paul says that we have died, and are still awaiting resurrection in Christ
Beginning of the instantiation of "household rules" that are not present in earlier Christian writing because the apocalypse was imminent, so it didn't matter
Insistent claim of authorship
Hard to distill whether or not it's undisputed because Paul never published a comprehensive theology as he usually wrote to address specific issues
This author thinks: Christians "have already been raised in Christ"
- But not a physical, literal resurrection
- Undisputed Paul disagrees AND believes in a physical resurrection → but it will happen in the future, not already, as the author of Colossians says
Contains lengthy exhortations which imply a larger, more established church than the ones that existed/were addressed in the undisputed corpus
- Needs more rules, since we've been resurrected, and we're now a bigger church
- Suggests a later time period than when Paul wrote
Discusses Judaizers similar to those in Galatians
Says that the requirements of the Law have been erased by the crucifixion, unlike Galatians which says it was only superseded
Opponents in Colossae taught "worship of angels" and perhaps advocated a more mystical Judaism or even Jewish gnosticism
- Author says Jesus created other invisible beings (angels) for Jesus, and that Jesus is superior and only Jesus can grant salvation
- "Paul" is writing to curb this degree of Jewish mysticism
- Similar to Neo-Platonism which said that you can contact God through vertically networking the cosmos by intermediary lesser beings
Author gives specific instructions based on class: wife, slave, poor, rich
- Paul never does that: God is impartial → Jew, Gentile, Rich, Poor, it don't matter
Christ hymn of Colossians 1:15-20 : "for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" -- Philippians is similar, containing the earliest Px writings
- Likely not invented by the authors, but were commonly included in thanksgiving
- Philip references a letter to the Laodiceans which is not present in the canon because it fucking sucks lol, viewed as the driest copy/paste of Pauline themes: "the most worthless piece of writing in Px literature" -scholars
- Not really disputed that Paul did not author this book
- Very different style from the undisputed Corpus: very long sentences
- Very different vocab: lots of words that Paul uses nowhere else
- Writing from prison to a gentile Christian Church → not explicitly Ephesus
- Ephesus added later, the original was probably a circulated letter
- Overarching theme is that even though gentiles were once alienated from God, they have now been united with Israel as God's favored people by Christ's passion
- How to live in the ways that manifest this unity
- No specific problem that he addresses because there was no specific audience
- Super long sentences compared to undisputed Pauline corpus
- Works as good deeds, vs. works of mosaic law
- Betrays knowledge of Colossians (Spiritual resurrection has already occurred) w/many verbatim agreements as well
- Author of Ephesians concedes that he leads a more sinful life than what Paul concedes in his epistles
- Vastly different theology than the undisputed corpus as well
- Different ideas about Judaism in general
- Author appears to be a 2nd generation Christian, and refers to salvation in the past tense (as it has already happened), Paul contends that it is yet to come
- Ephesians establishes more rules for church hierarchies and refers to the Apostolic era in the past
PASTORALS → undisputed that they are not Pauline, advice to Titus and Timothy as to how they should run their churches
Focus on silencing false teaching and internal organization/operation
Deal with church orders and an institutionalized church that did not exist in the 1st century
- Apocalyptic Christians wouldn't have cared about church structure
Different writing style and Christian vocab that didn't exist until the 2nd century
Different use of concepts and treatment of women than Paul held
- "Faith" refers to the religion as a whole vs. Paul's faith as a personal belief/response to God's mercy through Jesus Death and Resurrection
- "Righteous" = moral, vs. Pauline "Made right before God" - which is more specific
1 Timothy and Titus are almost certainly by the same author due to their united focus on Church structure and social dogma
2 timothy is different but the style/structure is consistent with the other 2
1/3rd of the vocabulary in the pastorals is not found anywhere else in the Pauline Corpus
In 1, 2 Corinthians, Paul addresses the entire church instead of the leader, simply because there was no explicit structure yet, so these don't make sense
His churches were "charismatic communities"- congregations of people who believed they had been endowed with God's spirit and gifts (charismata) → no one was in charge, except Paul, but he wasn't there
50 years after his death, with the apocalypse still not there, the proto-orthodoxy began to emerge, instituting official roles
- Bishop = Episkopos = overseer
- Presbyters = elders = tended to the spiritual needs of the community
- Deacons = ministers = tended to the material needs of the community
Ignatius - 2nd century church leader writes about such structures
Pastoral authors quote the New Testament which didn't exist or weren't circulated around the time of Paul
- Refer to Jesus word as scripture → viewed as as authoritative as Old Testament which wasn't the case during Paul's time
Concern for widows/orphans/etc. Since Jesus has not yet come back
Established women losing church rights: no talking, leadership, and Eve is the source of sin in the world
Paul had several female colleagues, was not a sexist → "God is impartial"
1 Corinth: "Women shouldn't speak in Church" which is believed to be a later addition, as Paul does not have that attitude anywhere else
- Addresses curtailing the arising gnostic sects
- How to pray, treat the elderly, widows, and church leaders, what to avoid, etc.
- Lambastes false teachings against marriage and keeping Kosher
- Only Male, morally upright people can hold church leadership: bishops, deacons
- Ambiguous about their specific duties though
- Women cause trouble
- Paul is in prison writing to Timothy encouraging him to keep up the good work and come visit him when he can
- Learn more about Timothy: a 3rd Generation Christian
- Commends him for overcoming the false teachings of those leading the saints of the community away with their idle teachings
- Urges him to continue his ministry in Ephesus until he can come visit Paul in Rome
- Corrects false teachings of the Jewish-Christians
- Advice to the various social groups in Titus' church
Hebrews and The Epistle of Barnabas explain how Jesus' religion went from Jewish to Anti-Jewish in a single century
Catholic Epistles - 1, 2, 3 John, Timothy, Titus, etc. general epistles not written by Paul
Self-definition - How early Christians came to distinguish themselves from Jews → groups defined in opposition to one another
Adoptionists - Such as the Ebionites, believed Jesus was man, then was adopted by God
Christianity continued to be driven inward, requiring conversion for admission via special rites such as baptism and Lord's Supper
To the Romans, Christians look like people who aren't members of the pagan cult which prays for the welfare of the state, they don't practice Judaism, but they worship the same Jewish God… looks like Px are exploiting a loophole
Hebrews portrays Jewish Law as impartial and imperfect, highlighting its inadequacy as an Old Covenant
Hebrews does not follow the form of an epistle, unknown author and audience, no thanksgiving or prayer etc.
- Likely just a transcribed Sermon
Part of the canon because 3rd/4th century Christians attributed it to Paul
Not written by Paul: style, topics, theology are all distinct from Paul
Origen - Christian scholar of the 3rd century: "No one knows who wrote it :p"
Audience are almost certainly persecuted Christians, likely gentile converts, not Jewish
Author is writing to assure them that Christianity is superior Judaism, that it's worth being distinct
Different translations of Hebrews present very different christological views :
Jesus as wholly God, vs. Jesus as wholly man… depending on the placement of "of God" in translation from Greek…
Themes of Superiority of Christ
superior to the prophets - they merely paved the way for Christ
Superior to the Angels - they are the messengers of God << Son of God
Superior to Moses - servant in God's House, Jesus is God's house
Superior to Joshua - who delivered only temporary peace to Israel, Jesus grants eternal peace
Superior to the Jewish priesthood - priests are required to mediate between God and Man for human imperfection, they descend from Levi - but Jesus descends from Melchizedek, who was honored by Abraham
- Additionally, priests must repeat sacrifices, Jesus only made a single sacrifice
Minister of the superior covenant - God says the old covenant is not good enough, Jesus bears the new Covenant
Superior Tabernacle - Christ raises his sacrifice to heaven whereas the Jewish Law is bound to the Earth
Superior sacrifice - Perfect, complete, for all sins, one time only
Hebrews author of Jesus is heavily reliant on Judaism if only to elevate Christianity above Judaism
Argues that jewish law awaits greater fulfillment by God (similar to Matthew)
Discusses how God makes old covenants obsolete in the Old Testament → the same thing happened with the covenant of the Law, obsolete in the face of Jesus' death and resurrection
The Old Testament Tabernacle and Jewish Law are inferior shadows of Jesus and the salvation he brings
Once you have experienced the reality of Christ, there is no turning back, for that is like actualizing Jesus' crucifixion, and then turning your back to him
- Harsh Old Testament punishments for turning away from the imperfect covenants… what would happen if you turn away from the perfect covenant: Jesus
- Uses graphics imagery to exhort Christians not to fall away from their faith in the perfect covenant - in response to their weakened spirits, having been persecuted for being Christians, not Jews
Ends with specific advice against sins like impropriety etc. (the classics)
Likely written towards the end of the 1st Century
Focuses on Anti-Judaism for the sake of defining Christianity, not for the sake of hatred itself
- Christianity must therefore assume a very defensive posturing
Barnabas - Paints Judaism as a false religion from the outset, the Old Testament has always been Christian
Unknown author → attributed to Barnabas to bolster authority, unlikely
Likely written around 130 C.E "when people still though that the Temple might be rebuilt"
Philo - 1st century Jewish Philosopher in Alexandria → uses allegorical means of interpreting Jewish scriptures just like the author of Barnabas (instead of a literal interpretation)
- Whereas Philo used it to support Judaism, Barnabas uses it to attack
Barnabas uses allegory to explain why the Jews are wrong
- From him we get the 6,000 year old creation story and the 1,000 year bliss → idea was common in the middle ages
Argues that the Law is supposed to inform ethical behavior, not be taken literally
Some things are literal though, like circumcision → prefigured by 318
Gematria - Interpreting words in their numerical value
- 318 = tau, iota, eta = τ ι η = t plus the first two letters of Jesus' name
- Therefore circumcision prefigures Px and is true
Two ways of Life - According to Barnabas, light vs. dark
Justin - Roman philosopher
Meclito - Sses analogy to claim that Israel killed its own God
Chapter 28 - Christians and Pagans: 1 Peter, Ignatius, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, and Late Apologetics
Christianity was never illegal, rather Christians were persecuted for rabble rousing
- After they departed from Judaism, Christians opened the door to scrutiny as they were no longer respected like Judaism
Christians had little significant impact on the Roman empire for several centuries
- 0 letters from the mid-1st Century mention Jesus
- Not until 250 C.E. did emperor Decius enact empire-wide persecutions
- To establish a new cult and proclaim a person as divine was well within the bounds of the law
Rome had no empire-wide, uniform criminal code: governors' Jurisdiction offered a lot of freedom
- Pilate was entirely justified in killing Jesus for being a public nuisance in the eyes of the Roman Law
Christians were persecuted for disturbing the peace, not for being Christian
- Families were disrupted when members were converted : "hate your mother, father, brothers, and sisters → Love Jesus"
- Perpetua - Roman women + slave Felicitas who took martyrdom willingly even though their families pled for them not too
Christians met at night, brother and sister, to hold a "love fest" (Lord's Supper), which involved ritual kissing, consumption of blood and flesh...
- Incest, orgies, infanticide, cannibalism
- Refused to partake in any other cults, including the state-cults
Roman historian Tacitus - Calls Christianity a "Pernicious superstition" and claimed that Nero could use them as scapegoats for burning Rome
Suetonius - Biographer - describes Christianity as people who held to novel mischief
Pliny the Younger - "Obstinate, mad adherents to a depraved superstition"
Marcus Aurelius - Considered Christianity to be misguided
Nero - 1st person to overtly persecute Christians → feeds them to dogs
- Condemns them for his own arson, still not for being Christians though
Trajan - Corresponded with governor Pliny who publicly condemned and executed the trouble-causing Px → crime: not worshipping Roman gods
- Still not for being Christians
Persecution led to increased solidarity within Christianity and further devotion of theological concepts
1 Peter - Written in the name of Peter to "the exiles of dispersion" in Asia Minor
- Circular letter, to Christians who are waiting for the salvation
- Or, actual resident aliens: slave < X < citizen
- Ironically, pagan opposition was likely the largest catalyst for Christian growth
- Urges them morally and legally to be "obedient slaves, submissive wives, tender husbands, and good citizens"
- Disruption of social structure caused by Christianity leads to public outcry
Letters of Ignatius of Antioch
- Letters to Christian communities as he traveled through Asia Minor to be thrown to the beasts in Rome for his rabble-rousing activities
- Looks FORWARD to his martyrdom
- Bishop of Church in Antioch, Syria, which he left in disrepair due to internal conflict
- Also wrote a letter to Polycarp of Smyrna
- Insists on Christian unity, pure doctrine, and Church hierarchy
- "Regard the bishop as the Lord himself" - Bishop Ignatius...
- Writes to the Roman Christians, ordering them not to interfere with his coming martyrdom
- Pathological or pious? → martyrdom was the surest form of salvation → eager
Martyrdom of Polycarp
Born in 60-65 C.E. → executed in 156 C.E., claimed to serve Christianity for some 80 years
Betrayed by his own friends, refused to escape arrest, did not burn at the stake though, instead smelled like delicious spices so the Romans had to pierce him → so much blood poured out of him, it doused the fire
Likely fictional excluding his cause for execution: refusing to denounce Christianity to avoid a terrible death
Christianity begins to welcome persecution
Later Christian apologists use the spread of Christianity in the face of persecution as evidence for its superiority
- Christianity gave rise to many popular polytheistic tenets: resurrection, heaven, son of God, virgin birth, miracles
- Write to Romans saying the best approach would be to just leave Christians alone
- Argued for separation of Church and state until Constantine adopts Christianity
Martyr - Someone who suffers persecution or dies due to adherence to religious beliefs
- Greek = "witness"
- Thecla was prepared to die in the colosseum, but survives, still revered as a martyr
In the 5th/6th century, once Rome is no longer persecuting, Christians decide that renouncing the world is a form of Martyrdom → rejecting material goods
Isolated persecution in 64 C.E. under Nero
Lit Rome with burning crucifixes → crazy/paranoid
Burned 1/3rd of Rome to the ground to expand royal palaces, blames Christianity
Tacitus says: "Convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as much as hatred of mankind"
Christianity, rather than arson, is their crime
Persecution - Criminalization of beliefs, crimes for belief instead of actions
- It's unclear, so when epistles say "persecution" does that simply mean social exclusion, or getting stoned, somewhere in between?
Martyrdom and persecution occur immediately after Jesus' death
Peter denied Jesus 3 times and all the disciples flee the cross for fear
- Nero, France (117 C.E.),
- Ignatius (110),
- Nationwide policy (250)
Christians and Jews were beefing often between 60-70, Rome getting pissed off
- 64 - Nero burns Rome and blames Christians
- Early 2nd century - Sporadic persecutions throughout the empire
- Mid 2nd century - More sporadic persecutions → beginning of martyrdom narratives
- 249-251 - Decius implements aggressive, nationwide policy of compelling Christians to make sacrifices on behalf of the emperor
- 284-305 - "Great persecution" under Diocletian
Ignatius of Antioch
- Dies in 117, bishop, eager to die as a Christian → completion/perfection of Faith
- Christianity becomes treason because they refuse to worship the state Gods
- Christian population SPIKES after every empire-wide persecution
- Lot of integrity in dying for what you believe in
- Paul believed he did miracles, Christians believe he did, so it grows
- Martyrdom dampens finality of death → conviction of salvation
Pliny - Writes to Trajan to ask what defines the guilt of a Christian?
- Interrogates people who confessed to Christians 3 times
- Persecution for refusal to assimilate to Rome
- "If you're not a Christian, burn incense and offer libations to/for the Emperor"
- Forbids their political associations → Christians cannot publicly meet
- Executes, tortures, and captures a ton of Christians → inquiring to Trajan what he ought to do with them
- Christians was not an issue until people realized that they were not worshipping the state Gods
Some Christians provoked the Romans in order to get martyred because it guaranteed heaven
- Polycarp says you ought to resist and meet martyrdom head on
Persecution in France under Marcus Aurelius the Stoic
- Threat from the Germanic tribes to the North: need standardized cult worship to state Gods
"On the the Functions of the Provincial Governor" → contained advice for how new governors should treat Christian communities
Decius' empire-wide order → very hard to enforce
- When Romans performed sacrifices, they received a libellus, libelli
- Proof of Libation to "someone"
Tertullian - Says the charges against Christians were for "lying to be a Roman Religion"
Valyrian - Says Roman religions must practice Roman rites (sacrifices)
- Implies that Christianity is not a Roman Religion
Diocletian - The empire is collapsing around him from the North and South
- Romans turn inwards to traditional Roman religion
- Tries to consolidate the empire, as a result, Christian groups are exiled, executed, etc.
- Demanded that everyone perform sacrifices for the empire
- 303 → Christianity made explicitly illegal
- 311 → Made legal again
- 312 → Constantine makes it the official religion of the empire
Christianity grew so fast : as fast as the contemporary Mormon church → 40%/decade
Acts of Paul and Thecla - Widely circulated independently of the larger text which focuses on Paul
- The story of Thecla is exceedingly popular → rewarded as a saint, gains a cultish following around the Mediterranean basin
- The tomb she's buried in, beneath the location of a monastery built to her in the 4th century, was built in the late 1st century/early 2nd century → super old, in Syrian warzone currently
- Near Damascus → nuns in the monastery were previously ransomed by Al-Qaeda and the monastery will probably not survive the next decade
Mary, Mother of Jesus - Mentioned in all the gospels, Luke's narrative in particular talks about how she's been blessed by God and chosen to give birth to the Messiah
Anna - Prophecies about Jesus' coming
Woman who anoints Jesus - "Lived a sinful life"
Samaritan Woman - In John's Gospel, water of Life story
Mary and Martha - Jesus visits the homes of women to teach them
Women at the tomb - Multiply attested that they were the first (the specific identities are hazy)
Mary Magdalene - One of Jesus' closest followers, one of the women at the tomb
Heretical theories about Romantic relationship between her and Jesus
Somewhat revered - Gnostic Gospel of Mary depicts her as the "Beloved Disciple"
Had legion, was exorcised → devout follower
Archetype of Redemption
Implied that she is the one who anoints Jesus in Bethany, but that's somewhat uncertain
Each of the Gospels say that she was present at the death and the resurrection
Financially supports and travels with the disciples → never named as a prostitute, but that is the rumor/assumption made about her
Thought to be the adulterous woman in John "whoever among you is without sin, let him cast the first stone"
Retconned into John by later gospels, not to demonstrate a moral story, but to prove that Jesus could read
The rumor of her role as a "prostitute" Started in the 6th C.
At Jesus' passion, all the disciples leave and he is left with only his female followers
Women in Pauline Corpus
- Phoebe - Deacon, leader of the Church at Censuree → entrusted to carry the initial Letter to the Romans
- Prisca - Gentile convert, addressed along with her husband, but she is mentioned first
- Mary - Colleague in the church
- Junia - Referred to as "foremost among the Apostles"
- This title got 18th century scholars' panties in a knot
Paul says "no Jew nor gentile, man nor woman" is free from judgement
He views them equally: his whole message is that God is impartial
Yet he distinguishes between them e.g. women should cover themselves in a veil while praying
Says that they should not speak in church, but this is from a pastoral epistle which indicates that it is not in fact Pauline
Fathers of the Church on Women
Tertullian - "you are the devil's gateway … destroyed the image of God"
- Wrote a whole book about what a woman could wear, down to the gemstone
- Used to be a montonist → did not believe in the Holy Spirit, apostolic era had not ended, believed that women were important prophetesses
- Eventually abandoned that sect for orthodoxy
Clement of Alexandria - "Womens' very consciousness of the own nature must evoke shame"
Jerome of the Vulgate - "Root of all evil"
Origen - women must not speak in congregation, regardless of what they have to say, it is bad because it came from the mouth of a woman
Augustine of Hippo - Women have no purpose to man but to bare children
But there also exist martyrological, apostolic texts from earlier in the church
- Gospels / Acts of Thecla, Mary Magdalene, Mary Mother of God
4 people ever immaculately conceived (born without sin): Adam, Eve, Mary, and Jesus
- Mary didn't need to be baptized because she was already blessed by God's grace
As the proto-orthodox sect grows, Church leaders become increasingly motivated by patriarchal concepts such as the veneration of the 12, and get enough power to filter out women → authority of what is/isn't heretical
Sexuality in the early church
Hecla, aristocratic woman, decides to become a celibate nun
- Viewed as a threat to Roman state, as she was not producing heirs
Early apostolic texts promoted Asceticism in the 2nd/3rd century
Afterwards, lots of church doctrine was released regarding the pros of marriage
Romans believed 3-5 children/wife was good for the state
- Celibate Christians were really tearing up Roman social constructs as they believed, to an extent, that children were worldly things and were of no use in the apocalypse
- Paul said celibacy was most the best, but better to be married than to burn in hell
- Later we get puritan reformers who say that marriage is, in fact, superior celibacy
Believed that sexuality reinforced God given hierarchies → men penetrate and women are penetrated
Sex was solely procreative in the absence of contraception → 'lovemaking' did not exist
- That understanding has significantly changed over time
- LGBT arguments pertaining to relationships? Or sexual acts?
Jesus never addresses homosexuality
- "Man and woman were yoked together and should not be separated"
- Responding to divorce, not sexual impropriety
Paul talks about sex a lot
Humans are to worship the creator, not the created
Sex is idolatrous because it is the worship of the created
"Man and woman gave themselves up to passion"
"Exchanged glory of god for glory of creatures"
Talks about lesbian and gay sex, but he's attacking sex on the whole, not those specific varieties → does not talk about celibate homosexual relationships
In ancient Rome, sexuality was a degree of perfection
- Rocks-----plants--animals----women/slaves--men----God (logos)
- People lower down on the spectrum were less capable of rationality
- It is ok for men to penetrate women because it is a reflection of the god's spectrum of sexuality
- A senator penetrating a slave is ok, but the opposite is not
Rome was all about reproducing the spectrum of intellection
- Lots of hierarchical "use" outside of sex
- Everyone less than you is subservient
- Term used by Paul in condemnation of something
- "Going to bed with Men"
- Idiom that didn't necessarily mean anal sex
- Used elsewhere to refer to financial exploitation
- Literally means "Man fucker" but like getting screwed over financially
- Paul lists sins: "idolaters, adulterers, Arsenokoités, thieves, and robbers."
- Depending on how you group it, it could refer to sexual impropriety, or monetary exploitation
Malakos - Soft, excess, luxury → again, Paul was probably referring to finances
Jesus never ended up returning in his disciples lifetimes, therefore texts were modified to redact/revise these claims
The Gospel of John, the latest Gospel, has no claims about the coming of the Kingdom of God
Chapter 1 - Narrates the vision of Christ John just had
Prophet John of the late 1st century
Chapter 2 - Description of the present situation of Churches today (Asia Minor)
Chapters 4 - 22 - Record of his visions of the end of time
John is brought up into heaven to a throne room with 24 elder angels in thrones surrounding a figure (God) in the throne
Figure is holding a scroll with 7 seals that can only be broken by 'the lamb' → Christ
As each scroll is broken, a major catastrophe strikes earth
6th seal turns the sun black, the moon red, and the stars fall from the sky
7th seal leads to a period of silence followed by 7 more disasters
7 angels blow 7 trumpets invoking each new disaster
7th trumpet ushers in the anti-christ and his false prophets on earth
- +7 more angels with bowls of God's wrath
The End comes with the destruction of the great "Whore of Babylon"
- The city that persecuted the saints
- If Revelation is interpretted as propaganda → codeword for Rome
Fall of the city leads to the battle of Christ and his heavenly armies vs. the forces of the antichrist
Jesus rocks them → throws them into a pit of sulfur for eternal suffering, Satan is imprisoned in a bottomless pit
Christ and the Saints rule on earth for 1,000 years
Devil returns to lead some nations astray
THEN comes the final judgement
- Dead are raised and rewarded for their deeds or condemned for their alignment with the antichrist
- Hades and death itself and the devil are thrown into a lake
New heaven on earth by God for his people
- New Jerusalem with pearly gates where Christ reigns forever descends
- No suffering, evil, death, righteous dwell with him forever
Revelation's supernatural tone vindicates its supernatural character
Alternatively, it can be viewed as a cryptic piece of propaganda urging persecuted Christians to resist Roman social constructs
Apocalypticism - Judeo-Christian worldview that contends that there are 2 components of reality: good and evil → everything falls into one of these two categories
- Present age controlled by evil
- God will come to bring the good era through judgement
Daniel - 165 B.C.E. - First Jewish Apocalypse → creates the Genre
Daniel lived in 6th century B.C.E., but the book wasn't around for 400 more years, so no wonder his predictions about the future were right
- Most likely written during the Maccabean Revolt when Jews were being attacked by the Syrians → to give hope in a dark period
- Uses past history to give authority to legitimate predictions by writing under an old old authors name
Marked by themes of God coming to destroy evil
Usually 1st person narratives of their revelation
2 main categories:
- Heavenly - A prophet is taken up to heaven and given a tour full of symbols: earth reflects a shadow of reality that exists in heaven
- Historical sketches - The author has a symbolic vision of the future through a divine mediator
Almost all ancient Apocalypses use a pseudonym of a famous religious figure
Writing under OLD prophets/figures to "predict" things that already happened to give credence to their current predictions
Characteristics of Apocalyptic Texts
Bizarre symbolic visions - highly mystical, not straightforward descriptions, confusing even to the author himself requiring the mediation of the vision by the divine figure
Violent repetitions - redundant, interrupting repetitions of key points
Motivational Function - "God will save you and defeat evil" meant to provide hope to the people suffering
Revelation is unique in that it is not pseudonymous, just "John" which was as common a name then as it is now. Not John the Baptist, or John Son of Zebedee, just John
- Nonetheless, barred from the canon for centuries do to its attribution to John of Zebedee → gnosticism.
- They are definitely not the same author though → evident through the theological differences
- Gospel of John has no concern with the "end" and highly disparate writing styles
- John refers to the Apostles in the throne room, but does not mention seeing himself
Historians think that parts of Revelation were written in the 60s, after Nero
Probably not completed until !90, under Domitian
"Babylon" refers to Rome as the chief political enemy of God
Discusses martyrdom which was a late 1st/early 2nd century phenomenon
Number of the beast : using Gematria
Some greek manuscripts write 616 instead of 666
Nero in Hebrew = "Neron" = 666, without the additional n "nero" = 616
Shepherd of Hermas - 2nd century not pseudonymous either
Part of the canon in some New Testament transcripts
Removed because it wasn't old enough according to the proto-orthodoxy
Muratorian Fragment - Sontains the dismissal of the Shepherd of Hermas
Does not mention Hebrews, James, 1,2 Peter, or John
Accepts the rest of the Canon AND the "Wisdom of Solomon", "Apocalypse of Peter" though
Condemns forgeries attributed to Marcion by Paul
5 parables, 12 mandates, 10 parables
Driven by ethical concern, contends that a 2nd repentance is possible
Apocalypse of Peter - Pseudonymous, found in Arabic and Coptic → Nag Hammadi
- Accepted as canon by many in the 2nd, 3rd centuries
- Travels through heaven and Hell → inspired the Divine Comedy!
- To avoid eternal damnation depicted in hell, don't sin
John is speaking to a male audience, calling them to be the best men they can be by offering an alternative image of masculinity
- 'The Slaughtered Lamb' directly challenges the Roman paradigm of gender
Greek "dulas" = everywhere else in Greek Lit. it's translated to mean "slave"
- Because of American history of slave language, the New Testament translations get switched to "servant"
"Revelation" is linguistically similar to the word describing "lifting of the veil" at a wedding
- John is very visual, commands the audience to look at things with him
- Removed from NRSV as it interrupts the flow, but in King James etc. John says "Behold"
Written in Asia Minor, 65-90 C.E.
Asia Minor is more obedient to Rome than, say, Judea → love the imperial cult because they're distanced from the persecutions closer to Rome
Emperors described as God-kings while they were alive, someone in Rome would have thought this absurd
"Providence has not yet set in motion grace for mankind through Augustus, whose benevolence surpasses all" --Asia Minor leaders
Imperial cult viewed Augustus as a savior, Council in Asia Minor adjusted calendar to center on his birthday → BIG DEAL
- TIME HAS CHANGED TO REFLECT AUGUSTUS'S GREATNESS → the whole empire will know about him, they want him to know
Massive statues, huge cult worship surrounding Roman emperors
Rev Chapter 4 - describes "one who sits on the throne" and 24 other thrones seating elders who are loudly worshipping the central figure → laying their own crowns
- Challenging the Roman perception of their caesars, Rev begs the question "who rules the world"[not Nero/Domitian]
- Takes it a step further, emperors are evil → embodiments of Satan
- John's audience really likes the Romans … his text "lifts the veil" on the evil of the imperial cult
Roman culture heavily depicted the 'ideal man' and ideal masculinity
- They believed that everyone is potentially male, females just weren't good/warm/external enough
- The way you become a man requires exerting your outward expressions of power/masculinity on others
- Inability to do so: born a woman, slave, low born, etc. → makes it harder to achieve perfect masculinity
One of the places you could augment your virtue was the Gymnasium/bath house → especially in Asia Minor
- Sites of education, not just P.E.
- Where you became a MAN
- Usually decorated near the entrance w/their virtues and the prizes you can win by dominating in your field → strive for laurels
Things that compromise manliness
- Being a woman
- Being penetrated
- Not being married with children → PUSHED Roman values
Revelation challenges the idea that: you need to be a Roman man who makes more Roman men
- Say no! That's the system of "The Beast"
Rev Chapter 2 - Jesus addressing the 7 churches of Asia Minor, the good and the bad using the same, familiar Gymnasium language: "The Son of Man promises salvation to those who are victorious" → Victory in Greek = "Nike"
In Revelation, the image of success is "following the slaughtered lamb"
Those who follow the lamb are 144,000 male virgins
The lamb is slaughtered, but the lamb is also the "Lion of Juda"
Uses the same Roman language to identify the manly man of the story, but then tells a story that is completely contradictory to Roman culture
Parthenois - Girl who is about to get married → implied virginity, but not explicit
- But they are about to get married to Christ
- "Don't get married to have babies, reject the Roman system of masculinity"
The Purpose of Revevelation:
- Demand devotion to God
- Cultivating the dominant culture in the context of the Throne Room
- Paraprosdokian - Flipping the Roman family ideal and sexual paradigm
- 165 B.C.E. - Daniel authored as the first apocalypse
- 4 B.C.E. - Jesus' Birth
- 30-33 C.E. Death of Jesus
- 50s - Paul writes
- 60-65 C.E. - Gospel of Mark
- 67 C.E. - Jewish revolts in response to Persecution at the hand of Nero
- 70 C.E. - Temple destroyed → Roman backlash for Jewish occupation of Israel
- 80-85 C.E. - Matthew and Luke written
- 90 C.E. - Gospel of John written
- 90-95 C.E. - Acts of the Apostles, Revelation published
- End of 1st century - Jesus words considered scripture → Law
- Beginning of 2nd century - Apostles' words carry similar authority, Pastoral and Deutero-Pauline epistles authored
- Mid 2nd century - Marcionite Canon
- Late 2nd century - Irenaeus's Canon
- Early 3rd century - Origen's Canon
- 312 C.E. - Constantine makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire
- 325 C.E. - Council of Nicea called to address the diversity of the Early Church → Produced the Nicene Creed
- 327 C.E. - Eusebius's Canon (categorization of books based on their orthodoxy and authorship)
- 367 C.E. - Athanasius's Canon → First modern Canon Established by Proto-orthodoxy