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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Desposyni
    Posted: 24-Feb-2013 at 12:48
Another Desposyni claimant (although it is a very late attribution with no evidence that the individual named, or any of his close contemporaries, made the connection) is St. Servatius. According to the "Golden Legend" by Jacobus de Voragine, written in 1275, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the daughter of Anne, and Anne had a sister called Hismeria.

"Hismeria had two daughters, named Elizabeth, and Elind. Elizabeth was mother to John Baptist, and Eliud [sic] engendered Eminen. And of Eminen came St. Servatius, whose body lieth in Maestricht, upon the river of the Meuse, in the bishopric of Liège."

Another tradition says that Hismeria, the aunt of Mary, was the mother of a son called Eliud, who in his turn had a son Emyu. Emyu married Memelia and was the father of Servatius. Other traditions then dispense with Emyu, and say Eliud himself married Memelia and fathered Servatius.

According to historians the Servatius who is buried in Maastricht was bishop of Tongeren, and died c.384 AD. But according to Church tradition St. Servatius succeeded St. Maternus as bishop of Tongeren. This Maternus was also bishop of Triers and Cologne, had been raised from the dead by St. Peter, and died in 128 AD, putting Servatius in the early-mid 2nd Century AD.

As stated, Servatius as a Desponsyi is a late tradition, but if he was around in 128 AD, that would fit chronologically as the son of a cousin of John the Baptist.

As a late attribution, its interesting his relationship to Jesus is established through Mary, whereas most early claims to being Desposyni were through Joseph the carpenter. By the 13th Century Mary's perpetual virginity was well established, so all relatives of Jesus had to be via her (even to the extent of having the 'brothers' of Jesus turned into cousins descended from Mary's sister, when some earlier beliefs had made them Joseph's sons by a previous marriage).

Edited by Sidney - 24-Feb-2013 at 13:06
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2012 at 18:14
I agree with you, Sid, on all your points. My personal trying to get to a relatively realistic bio of Jesus and people he was connected with is to try to strip them from everything that is realistically impossible, or that shows mythologization patterns. Anyway, from a down-to-earth humanly POV, he was a great moral teacher, and this is what matters, to me at least, in the grand scheme of things.

On Gardner, plus everything you mentioned, it seems to me, he doesn't really support his statements with adequate sources, because every time I try to check any of his statements I cannot get to the primary source. I'm going to finish the book just for the finishing it  - but I don't take it seriously, nor am I going to search for his others books.
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2012 at 10:31
Re; The New Testament vs Gardner

The early Christian mythologising of Jesus was part of an expectation within their contemporary literature and beliefs. It was often customary for a hero to have a divine father, or divine approval of their birth, and to have portents surrounding their career and death (Alexander the Great, Pythagoras, Romulus, Vespasian, Appollonaris, Augustus, etc). It is not surprising that stories like this were attached to Jesus (whether you believe he ever existed or not). You can trace some of these stories as they snowballed and expanded down through the centuries (including IMO the divine nature of Christ, the virgin birth, the harrowing of hell, the career of John the Evangelist, etc). Early Christians claimed Jesus as someone special, and presented what their peers expected from the biography of someone special.

Laurence Gardner however is claiming to be an academic historian, yet is not doing what his peers would expect of him. He is not consitantly critical about his sources, is not adverse to misquoting or making misleading re-translations, makes statements without adequate proof, presents his personal musings as generally accepted ideas, and gives as definate facts things that are only just slim possibilities or interpretations. At least that was the impression I had after reading his Magdalene book.


Edited by Sidney - 25-Apr-2012 at 10:33
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2012 at 00:13
In connection why I say that the NT gospels are not historical sources per se, I want to link a part from the book "The Truth and fiction in the Da Vinci Code" by Bart Ehrman - unfortunately I cannot copy from it, bit here the book can be read for free, and I link specifically the page http://archive.org/stream/BartEhrman-TruthAndFictionInTheDaVinciCode/TruthAndFictionInTheDaVinciCode#page/n129/mode/2up/search/page+111 that state what I sat all the time - that the NT gospels are not written by Jesus's disciples, nor even connected to them, and than they are agenda-laced material, not a bio by any means. They have no more historical value than any Gnostic or other writing, no more authority than them - the last is my assertion.
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2012 at 23:23
I'm on the last 1/4 pf the "Magdalene Legacy" by Laurence Gardner, and I have to admit that it's gets quite improbable, even though not as much as the NT gospels, etc. The gist of it as I see it, is that Jesus was from the regal line of David, and his parents were Essenes, that he didn't die on the cross, instead live a long good life, having daughter first and then a son, who became, as time went, the forebears of the Fisher kings, and eventually, King Arthur.  He interprets many things in the NT in a purely symbolical ways, for which I would like to see his sources.

The whole story reads like a good novel, but I have to admit that it has it's inner logic, and, all in all, tells bout things of life - people are born, get married, die, etc; he connects quite a few legends, /like Joseph of Arimathea ending up in Britain/, art symbolism, medieval lore and poems, and they somehow make sense. Does that makes his book history - I don't think so; but then, more does the NT have any right to pass itself as history per se, nor any theological work based on it.

In short, I tend to consider the "Jesus Bloodline" theory as  more probable than the Christian theory on the matter, at least it doesn't contradict the basic realities of life. OTOH, there is too much symbolic interpretations on events that don't seem to need such treatment - something that is spread too thin, as they say in Bulgaria "feels like someone sucked it from her fingers".
If anyone has read it and has an opinion on it, I'd be grateful if he/she shares it here.




Edited by Don Quixote - 24-Apr-2012 at 23:27
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2012 at 21:30
Again, Leroy, none of the gospels are connected with any of the actors of the time of Jesus, they all tell legends and lore. There is no connection, no transfer of apostolic power to Rome, nothing - just claims for power based on legends. Like the fake testament of Constantine. All Christian churches have the same validity of claim to any possible truth, because objectively none of them was found by Jesus, who died before the churchy institutions were created.

I'm not going to devaluate the literary and textual analysis of the gospels only because you call them "inductive". The analysis of the texts show what they are, not claims by a religious institution whose agenda is to keep power over people's beliefs in it's hands. In fact, the textual analysis is as close as we can get a scientific analysis of a piece of lore. If a material is considered after textual analysis to have this and that date, this is as close to science as we can get. So, there is enough info from the textual anaysis of Thomas to date in in the same time or before the Synoptic gospels. Why wasn't it mentioned earlier - because it was suppressed later, never made it in the NT, and therefore even if it was mentioned, those mentionings were erased by the church, that had the power in it's hands and coudln't favor the individualistic approach of Thomas. In fact, if they were to accept Thomas, they had to disband themselves - something no power institution even had done or will do.

The Protoevangelicon of James is such a fairy tale, that it beats even the canonical gospels in the creation of impossible stories. You may take it as a historical document, if you so wish, but you cannot require me to do so. There is reality, things that could have happen, or as you called it "naturalistic view of history" /which I favor/, the rest that couldn't have happen is theology,  not history.

The virgin birth is impossible, hence not history, no matter who said it and when, it cannot happen. How do I prove history - check it with reality; one cannot get pregnant without sexual activity, hence it couldn't have happened in that time before the "baby in the vial". This is not history, and never was, only a theologically based idea that is impossible in reality.

We are going in circles, and I don't want to repeat myself time and again. You keep your opinion, I'll keep mine. And mine is:
1. Mary wasn't a virgin, because virgin birth is impossible.
2. Jesus was a man, with a family and all.
3. His subsequent mythologization is not history, as the life of Zeus is not.
4. He had relatives, maybe even kids - and this is more probable, even though we lack evidence for it, than fairy tales about virgin births.
5. The question about the Desposyni doesn't really matter - as both those who claim the "Bloodline of Jesus" and those who refute it do it for their own agendas.


Edited by Don Quixote - 24-Apr-2012 at 22:57
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2012 at 19:29
Sorry for the late response, I have less free time now that I work for a living.

Yes, the Book of Mormon is as humanly written as the canonical Gospels. My point is that the Book of Mormon, like the gnostic gospels, has no connection to the period or the people it writes about. How can late second and third century gnostic gospels have the same level of historical value as first century Christian writings concerning first century events?

There are like 38,000 Christian denominations, and each one claims some unique license on truth - and I don't know how many other religions, cults, etc, in the history of humanity - and they have exactly the same right to claim what they see as truth as you and the Early Church Fathers have,


How many of those denominations were existent in apostolic times? What does it matter?

So, let's keep theology away from historical discussion, shall we?


I do not view history from a naturalistic perspective, but where did I make a theological argument? Ermm

All the NT gospels were written decades after the events:


I agree.

Anyway, according to it Mark,  and the source "Q" that can be reconstructed from the gospels, together with other material which went in Matthew and Luke, each of those sources represents a independent tradition, whether oral or written /pg. 25/.


The Q source hypothesis is based on inductive reasoning, so it is not a logical or epistemically justified conclusion

Also, Mark we know from 3rd century forward wasn't the only version of him available - and this is proven through the instability of the text, etc, - so there were several Marks to go around - this is circumspective proof that what we have was edited, more than once, so get to the result we have.


The textual variations are minor, one or two letters in a few words and a minor variation in a place name. There is one other early version, the difference being that it has a shorter ending of Mark (chapter 16). There are some differences to be found in fourth century manuscripts, but those are fourth century manuscripts.

Also, on pg. 26 it's comperehensively proven that the text wasn't written in Rome by Peter /as the So, the facts coming out as a result of textological analysis prove that Mrk is not written by Peter, nor by an apostle, not is it a evewitness by any means. The story of the other gospels is similar, the whoever penned them using Mark as a base plus some other lore; so, there is no apostolic tradition or authority  in them.


Inductive reasoning.

So, none of them were written by an apostle, and none of them actually claims to be written by such, this is a myth that they were.


I am not arguing for direct authorship (see my post on authorship).

The Gnostic Gospels found in Nag Hammadi were dated between 3 and 4 century, but those are the dates of the buried manuscripts only; Thomas was compiled circa 140 AD, the oral material for it is is most probably older, from 50-100 AD "... But recently Professor Helmut Koester of Harvard University has suggested that the collection of sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, although compiled c. 140, may include some traditions even older than the gospels of the New Testament, "possibly as early as the second half of the first century" (50-100)--as early as, or earlier, than Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John...." http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html


Not most probably, unless you have a confirmation bias. Only one fragment of the Gospel of Thomas can be dated before 200. There are no references to the Gospel of Thomas before 222-235. No one dates the Gospel of Thomas to the first century. If you read Helmut Koester (thanks for the reference) and other so-called early camp scholars (see list on Wikipedia) you will see that they are actually dating the composition of a hypothetical Q source, and not the Gospel of Thomas which they hypothesize may have preserved some of Q's non-existent text. By comparison, the Gospel of Mathew is generally dated to between 62 and 69. The Gospel of Matthew is directly quoted in the Didache (50-100), by Ignatius (35-108), and Polycarp (69-155). Papias (before 69-?) identifies Matthew as its author.

Thank you for your post on Clement, /I haven't read him/, but no matter who said that Mary was a virgin, I cannot accept this a a possible proof for her being so, because reality shows differently;


How do you prove history? Confused

As for my argument, from historical evidence and the lack of it, it was to show that Mary did not have any other children than Jesus or that there is at least there is no reason to assume that she did. Maybe I'm wrong, you are invited to correct me by using earlier historical sources than mine.

So, I don't see with what the Protovenajelicum of James is more valid than the gnostic Thomas - except that one one is considered "heretical" and the other not, with is a theological distinction, not a historical one' Clement, if everything, is later that whoever wrote Thomas.


Clement most likely died a few decades before the Gospel of Thomas was written (not that it matters). The exact date for the Gospel of James is not known, the estimation is based on a parallel tradition found in St. Justin Martyr (100-165). The Gospel of James has some importantance because it does not contradict earlier (or later) writings and is connected by tradition, unlike the gnostic gospels.

So, no, the virgin birth doctrine doesn't predate the Gnostic gospels, on the opposite, it came about later that the time  they were written, let alone the time the oral material for them was collected.


The virgin birth is clear from the canonical Gospels and the early writers such as Ignatius (35-117) Smyrnaeans 1, 1 (truly born of a virgin), Ephesians 19, 1 (hidden were the virginity of Mary). Maybe you are confusing it with Mary's continued virginity, in which case you are still mistaken by at least a century (see previous posts, Irenaeus (130-202), Heresies, 5, (The human race . . . is rescued by a virgin; balanced . . . by virginal obedience), Clement (150-215), Stromata, 7, 16 (which gave birth to the truth and continue virgin), Gospel of James). Even outside of the context of the birth of Jesus, the early Fathers continue to call Mary the Virgin or the Virgin Mary in their writings. This does not make any sense if she was not supposed to have continued a virgin.

Nick, I will respond to your message when I have some free time again. I've read the Gospel of Philip, it actually says that Mary is the virgin whom no power defiled. By the way, the gospel (fourth century manuscript) is dated late third century by its translator, third century seems to be the general consensus. What gnostic gospels actually say or imply that Mary was not a virgin or did not continue to be one? I would like to read them and see if there are any first or early second century references to them.
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2012 at 22:44
When you have time, LeroySmile
I came upon a "Lost Books of the Bible" edition with everything from The Protoevangelion to the Lost Gospel of Peter, the 2 Clements, Barnabas, the Hermas, the Letters of Herod and Pilate, etc - so I'm digging in it. For long reading I prefer a book rather than e-one, because my eyes start burning after 5-6 hours on the screen. So, by the time you have time to answer I should be able to know which apocripha you are talking about, so we avoid gross misunderstanding.
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2012 at 13:11
I don't have much free time currently. I'll try address both post posts this weekend. Smile
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2012 at 22:42
I do not agree that the sources I presented, all dating before 230AD and based on earlier traditions, are somehow less historically worthy of attention than the ones you present – the NT, Nativity of St. James, St. Clement, etc.

I did precisely what you suggested and looked outside the NT, but now suddenly if it doesn’t appear in the NT teachings it’s not acceptable? You yourself presented an apocryphal text (the Nativity of James) as supporting evidence for your argument, so I think it’s rather bad sport of you to reject others out of hand. I precisely limited myself to material dated around the time of that work, so that there could be a like with like comparison, and a chance of genuine traditions still existing at third or fourth hand.

Early church fathers did oppose ‘gnostic’ doctrines, but their opposition mainly focused on the nature of Christ’s pre-existence and post-resurrection states, the creation of the world, and the means of salvation – not on whether Jesus had brothers or that Mary was a virgin forever. You quote the Holy Fathers, Ignatius and St. Clement, yet nothing you quoted shows a belief in perpetual virginity, only that Jesus was born of a virgin – which is a belief I do accept as being a very early one. If Tertullian (d.221) says Mary wasn’t a perpetual virgin, and those other writers don’t suggest it, then there is no argument for this doctrines early existence.

The Church historian Eusebius writes that groups like the Ebionites (who only later acquired that name), existed in the 1st century, and believed Jesus was born from Mary and Joseph and was just a good man who gained his righteousness through his own acts, not through an inherent divine nature. These were a separate group from the followers of the 1st century Carpocrates who also believed Jesus was the son of Joseph, as did another group, also in the 1st century, the followers of Cerinthus. Cerinthus was absolutely hated by St. John, who saw him as the enemy of truth, yet Cerinthus claimed to have writings from one of the apostles himself, so whose truth was St. John opposing – Cerinthus’, or a fellow apostle’s? The belief that Jesus was the son of Joseph did exist from an early time, and among people who certainly believed and supported a faith in Jesus, and who could have recieved information from his own family, just as the opposing side could have. My own opinion is that this belief existed alongside the belief that Jesus was born of a virgin, maybe even believed by the same people at the same time (as a mystery of God) but that the latter belief came to dominate.

The early Church Fathers also accepted works not in the current New Testament. There was no uniformity between the different early churches, separated as they were by large distances and different languages, over which works were regarded as accepted truth. Eusebius, in the 4th century, himself rejected the currently accepted Revelations of St John as a disputed work (even though he believed it to be written by the apostle), but accepted the Gospel of the Hebrews (not in our NT), while he classes some of the letters of Peter and John, and those of James and Jude as spurious (all now accepted). He also wrote that Irenaeus (who knew St. John) accepted works such as the Shepherd of Hermas and the writings of an unnamed (and now unknown) apostolic presbyter, works which do not appear in our canon. The NT selection was based not on its authenticity to the earliest tradition, but because it accorded with the beliefs of the Catholic church at the time that it was decided upon.

As to only accepting works as historically valid that are attributed to eye-witnesses of Jesus’ times, or with evidence of an oral tradition from them - how are we to know what literature existed in the 1st century AD concerning Christ? There was definitely more than the existing NT, for the gospel of Luke opens with the statement that “many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word”. There therefore must have been more narratives pre-dating Luke then just the Matthew & Mark that we have. How do we know some of these pre-Luke accounts were not used by those people later labelled as ‘heretics?’

In fact some of the gnostic scriptures do have attributable authors. Of the ones I quoted, the Gospel of St. Philip is accepted as a compilation of sayings and extracts from the earlier works of Valentinus (d.c.175 AD). Valentinus was a gnostic, opposed by Irenaeus (who only wrote about him after he had died), yet he claimed to have been a student of Theudas who had been a student of St. Paul, and was also a student of Basilides, who was taught Christianity by Glaucias who had been a companian and interpreter of St. Peter. This is a line of tradition that few of the early church fathers can mirror (Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Justin Martyr etc), and yet because these other writers were on the winning side (i.e. their writings accorded with the Catholic church that eventually gained power within Christianity, and so their opinions survived), they are viewed as more valid, and that based largely on their own say-so.

DQ has already talked about the Acts of Thomas and how they might be of an early tradition, but also the Second Apocalypse of James, while dated to the mid 2nd Century, is also believed to contain oral tradition separate not only from the work of Valentinus, but also from, yet contemporary with, the 1st century gospel writings.

I’m not suggesting that everybody who claimed to be a Christian in the early church all had equally valid beliefs based on tradition. I’m sure making things up, taking advantage of situations, and pandering to gullibility and prejudice existed then as much as now. But if people believed it, it must have had a meaning and made sense to them. All those ‘gnostics’ and ‘heretics’ and ‘orthodox’ believers were not just mad or wilful, especially as many died for their beliefs alongside, or at the hands of, other Christians during times of persecution.


Edited by Sidney - 11-Apr-2012 at 22:58
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2012 at 19:17
Well, Leroy, the Book of Mormon is as human written as the NT gospels, and the connection between the NT gospels and the apostles is as imagined as is a possible one between the gnostic ones and the apostles, or the Book of Mormon and them. The NT gospels weren't written by apostles, we don't know who wrote them, nor were they written by one person to start with. Most of them were copied from Mark, and Mark was edited as it's end. So, there is no apostolic  connection between the gospels and apostles, and the Book of Mormon only shows how religions are made - by humans with agendas. The NT gospels are as 'sacred' as the Book of Mormon is, and it's only faith, not objective info, that makes people to think otherwise. I told you, I put all religions in one and the same bag - the Catholic or any other Christian doctrine is not anything more special, more valid, or more true than the Mormon one is, or the cult of John Frum, for that matter - it's all mythology. There are like 38,000 Christian denominations, and each one claims some unique license on truth - and I don't know how many other religions, cults, etc, in the history of humanity - and they have exactly the same right to claim what they see as truth as you and the Early Church Fathers have, So, let's keep theology away from historical discussion, shall we?

All the NT gospels were written decades after the events:
1. Matthew, ascribed to the apostle Matthew, was actually written at the end of the 1st century - and was drawn from 3 sources, Mark included - if it was written by an actual apostle, it would not need other 3 sources to draw from.

2. Mark - written in 70 AD, the earliest one, relies on several underlining sources, and wasn't written in the tradition of Peter's preaching; it was written in Syria or Palestine and later incorporated in the tradition. Also, the earliest  original we have was edited, with his last page most probably torn off, since the text ends in verse 16:8 with a conjunction, and no one ends a text like that; the verses 16:9-20 were added later, as to show how the gospels were edited to fit agendas - this is the only historical proof we have of that, but it's telling enough; who knows how many editions the other gospels had we don;t even suspect about.

3. Like - written 75-100 AD, drew on Matthew, Mark and 2 other sources, is written in Greek for a non-Greek audience, by a person who was educated in  Hellenic tradition.
4. John was written in 90-100 AD by a person who was acquented with the Greek philosophy and the was Philo of Alexandria connected  Plato's Logos with the Hebrew god, and references the O from it's Greek translation, the Septuaginta - he wasn't an apostle, because he was too well educated, probably Greek, and not the ordinary people Jesus picked up to be his apostles.

A detailed analysis of the NT gospels can be found in "The Historical Jesus" by Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz, 1996; I access it on Questia but I cannot copy from it, most lamentably. Anyway, according to it Mark,  and the source "Q" that can be reconstructed from the gospels, together with other material which went in Matthew and Luke, each of those sources represents a independent tradition, whether oral or written /pg. 25/. The content of those sources is related, that's why they say roughly the same story. Also, Mark we know from 3rd century forward wasn't the only version of him available - and this is proven through the instability of the text, etc, - so there were several Marks to go around - this is circumspective proof that what we have was edited, more than once, so get to the result we have. Also, on pg. 26 it's comperehensively proven that the text wasn't written in Rome by Peter /as the Catholic tradition claims/, but in Syria, in 70 AD, during the Jewish-Roman War, by an unknown person, maybe theologian, who collected some versions and combined them in one. So, the facts coming out as a result of textological analysis prove that Mrk is not written by Peter, nor by an apostle, not is it a evewitness by any means. The story of the other gospels is similar, the whoever penned them using Mark as a base plus some other lore; so, there is no apostolic tradition or authority  in them.

So, none of them were written by an apostle, and none of them actually claims to be written by such, this is a myth that they were.
The Gnostic Gospels found in Nag Hammadi were dated between 3 and 4 century, but those are the dates of the buried manuscripts only; Thomas was compiled circa 140 AD, the oral material for it is is most probably older, from 50-100 AD "... But recently Professor Helmut Koester of Harvard University has suggested that the collection of sayings in the Gospel of Thomas, although compiled c. 140, may include some traditions even older than the gospels of the New Testament, "possibly as early as the second half of the first century" (50-100)--as early as, or earlier, than Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John...." http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html

The Protoevangelicum of James that we cited dates 145 AD, the same date as the Gnostic Thomas. Thank you for your post on Clement, /I haven't read him/, but no matter who said that Mary was a virgin, I cannot accept this a a possible proof for her being so, because reality shows differently; it can only testify what people thought about that; and Clement lived 150-215 AD, so, we was born 1 year after the Gnostic Thomas was compiled, and the Nag Hammadi library was dated. So, I don't see with what the Protovenajelicum of James is more valid than the gnostic Thomas - except that one one is considered "heretical" and the other not, with is a theological distinction, not a historical one' Clement, if everything, is later that whoever wrote Thomas.

So, no, the virgin birth doctrine doesn't predate the Gnostic gospels, on the opposite, it came about later that the time  they were written, let alone the time the oral material for them was collected. The Virgin birth doctrine was solidified by Christian phisolophers how lived in 4th century, like Athanasius, Epiphanius, etc, even Hyppolitus lived in the 3rd. There isn't any reason why I have to accept a philosophical doctrine that is based on nothing else but human musing, done by people with very earthly interests and agendas. I see the Gnostic gospels with the same value as the writings of the said and quoted by you Christian philosophers.



Edited by Don Quixote - 11-Apr-2012 at 22:09
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2012 at 17:17
Originally posted by Don Quixote

It's not necessary the gospels to have been connected with the apostles per to show what variety of people were thinking about Jesus and his story. In the case, the Gnostic gospels show what the gnostic were thinking about it.


If no connection is required then you might as well consult the Book of Mormon on this matter.

In the case Sidney proved quite convincingly that the idea of Mary being a perpetual virgin is a late idea, possibly from 4th century AD, and has nothing to do with the early Christian movement.


On the contrary, if you had read Clement (and my post about it) you would know that the belief in the continued virginity preceded the gnostic gospels.

The Early Church Fathers are with nothing more reliable than the Gnostics were - both groups of thinkers show what people with different interests and POV were thinking about teh matter.


We can directly connect them to the apostles or their students. This is not possible with the gnostic gospels which were written decades or centuries later. Unless you present a challenge to the evidence I have provided, I will end my participation in this discussion here.
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2012 at 14:03
Originally posted by Leroy


Do you have any historical evidence that the four Gospels included in the canon of the New Testament were edited with an agenda in mind or is your opinion, stated as fact, based on an evaluation?

The gnostic gospels are without historical value not because they were edited (I do not claim or know if they were) but because they lack any sort of connection to the apostolic period or the people associated with the apostles (such as Ignatius or Polycarp whom contradict them). They were actively opposed from the very beginning by Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp, for historical reasons: these [gnostic] doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to you.

So the historical evidence is quite clear that the gnostic gospels have nothing to do with the relevant people or period.

They had been written in roughly the time the NT ones were written, so have absolutely the same claim to be treated in the same way as the NT one are.


No, they were written decades after and most of them at least a century.

How is all this relevant historically? With all due respect, but we are having a historical discussion?

That the NT gospels were edited is obvious - they were selected among all others circiulating around writings for a reason. What was this reason - because they fit or didn't contradict what was emerging as a Christian doctrine, as molded with whatever agendas in mind. Which is OK - history is not exact scoence, and each historical POV has one agenda or another - that's why a historian measure them and cross them with each other to weed out the agendas.

It's not necessary the gospels to have been connected with the apostles per to show what variety of people were thinking about Jesus and his story. In the case, the Gnostic gospels show what the gnostic were thinking about it.

And yes, we are having a historical discussion, not a theological one, and the first duty of a historian is to doubt his sources, /especially those that were frankly religious or political, in the case the Nt gospels are both/, and treat all of them in the same way, exstracting from them what can possibly be historically true and recognize what is fantastic and impossible. And in the case of your example, Mary being and staying a virgin is as impossible and fantastic as Jesus killing his playmates and blinding their parents.

Anyway, in the same way in which you use writings of the early church fathers to show that certain people at that time were thinking that Mary was a virgin, one can use the Gnostic ones to show that other people weren't thinking that at all. In the case Sidney proved quite convincingly that the idea of Mary being a perpetual virgin is a late idea, possibly from 4th century AD, and has nothing to do with the early Christian movement.

The Early Church Fathers are with nothing more reliable than the Gnostics were - both groups of thinkers show what people with different interests and POV were thinking about teh matter. The first one poured Greek philosophy in their POV, the second poured bunch of Hermetic, Mitraistic, Zoroastrian, etc elements. Both groups can only show what people though about Mary, not what Mary really was, and as such they have the same value. That one of the groups made an organized religion, and the other withered and vanish means nothing as to the claim of truth in their works.

I'll find info on exactly how old which gospel is, and how do they compare with each other.




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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2012 at 12:02
Originally posted by Don Quixote

The NT ones are not written by John, Matthew, etc, nor do they state to be written so by them.


You would be correct in stating that we do not know who wrote the four Gospels. But the question of who wrote the four Gospels may be irrelevant to the authorship of the Gospels, and scholars are divided on what constitutes authorship. I suppose you could argue against the direct authorship or composition of the four Gospels. But in the ancient world, and today still, an individual was considered the author if the text was written according to his thoughts. For example, the first Letter of St. Peter ends with a greeting from St. Mark. And St. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis around 130, tells us that Mark became Peter's interpreter (Fragments of Papias, 6). It is therefore very probably that Mark wrote Peter's letter, but Peter was still considered to be the author in the broad sense. But, I'm not arguing for direct apostolic authorship, the point is that we have here a direct connection that is missing in all the gnostic gospels.

Moreover, they had been selected by a hardening church that was to became a political institution with real power and agenda to guard this power, so had been selected to fulfull this role.


Interesting evaluation and possibly entirely true, but irrelevant really to the matter.

The Gnostic gospels, in the case on Nag Hammadi ones, couldn't have been edited with agenda in mind because they were dug in the dirt, so we find them now as they had been written - which cannot be said about the NT gospels.


Do you have any historical evidence that the four Gospels included in the canon of the New Testament were edited with an agenda in mind or is your opinion, stated as fact, based on an evaluation?

The gnostic gospels are without historical value not because they were edited (I do not claim or know if they were) but because they lack any sort of connection to the apostolic period or the people associated with the apostles (such as Ignatius or Polycarp whom contradict them). They were actively opposed from the very beginning by Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp, for historical reasons: these [gnostic] doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to you.

So the historical evidence is quite clear that the gnostic gospels have nothing to do with the relevant people or period.

They had been written in roughly the time the NT ones were written, so have absolutely the same claim to be treated in the same way as the NT one are.


No, they were written decades after and most of them at least a century.

I see them as more pure than the selected and edited  with a political agenda in mind NT ones. I'm not buying anything that has been used for 2 millenia as propadanga weapon by churches to have bigger authentic value than one that has been not used as such.


How is all this relevant historically? With all due respect, but we are having a historical discussion?

The gnostic gospels show what the different groups of Gnostics thought about the matter - the Gnoctics weren't one stream, they were more like a phylosophical pool, in which Hermetic, pagan, Orphic, etc traditions mixed in with what was to come with the nascent Christianity.


Yes, they are interesting in so far as they tell us about different gnostic systems and schools, which is why I read them. The third century story about Jesus killing children that are making fun of him and then blinding their parents for complaining about it is especially entertaining. They are however based on the Greek god of mischief and used to illustrate the gnostic principles.


Edited by Leroy - 11-Apr-2012 at 12:09
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2012 at 23:45
I don't see any reason not to accept the Gnostic gospels as historical documents, but to accept teh Synoptic ones - both sets are one and the same thing - legends and believes about Jesus, written by different people in different times. The NT ones are not written by John, Matthew, etc, nor do they state to be written so by them. Whoever wrote the oral legends, rumors, etc down we don't know, all we n-know that none of them are written bu one writer, but they are quilts written and edited ,any times by who know who. Moreover, they had been selected by a hardening church that was to became a political institution with real power and agenda to guard this power, so had been selected to fulfull this role. The Gnostic gospels, in the case on Nag Hammadi ones, couldn't have been edited with agenda in mind because they were dug in the dirt, so we find them now as they had been written - which cannot be said about the NT gospels.

They had been written in roughly the time the NT ones were written, so have absolutely the same claim to be treated in the same way as the NT one are. I see them as more pure than the selected and edited  with a political agenda in mind NT ones. I'm not buying anything that has been used for 2 millenia as propadanga weapon by churches to have bigger authentic value than one that has been not used as such.

The gnostic gospels show what the different groups of Gnostics thought about the matter - the Gnoctics weren't one stream, they were more like a phylosophical pool, in which Hermetic, pagan, Orphic, etc traditions mixed in with what was to come with the nascent Christianity. Some were celibate, some weren't some had female teachers, some didn't , and not all Gnostics were Christian. Now, the Christian ones weren't one stream either, they were more philosophers than believers, therefore didn't create the clear cut doctrine that the Christian church created. This helped preserve their teachings as they were, which cannot be said about the NT gospels, that were turned by the church into base for it's political and financial power. Therefore, as such, they are not only valid historical documents, but relatively uncontaminated ones /up to before New Age-ers started using then for their own agendas and interpret them as some kind of feminist, sexualised, life-loving alternative Christianity, which they weren't; so one has to be careful what one reads about them/.
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2012 at 14:21
Thanks for this discussion Sidney, so far it has been interesting. I have to correct what I said before about Tertullian. He is in fact the only Church Father that denied the continued virginity of Mary (though affirming the virginal conception of Jesus like the rest).

On point 4, Clement actually explains the sense in which Jude is called the brother of Jesus. If he were saying that Jesus was the son of Joseph too, then he would contradict himself,

The Son of God -- of Him who made the universe -- assumed flesh, and was conceived in the virgin's womb (as His material body was produced). (The Stromata 6, 15)

and,

Now such to us are the Scriptures of the Lord, which gave birth to the truth and continue virgin, in the concealment of the mysteries of the truth. "And she brought forth, and yet brought not forth," says the Scripture; as having conceived of herself, and not from conjunction. (The Stromata 7, 16)

On point 5, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans identifies himself as a brother according to the flesh of the Jews. In Hegesippus the meaning is more narrow but can extend beyond biological brother.

On points, 6, 7, and 8, the gnostic gospels have no historical value because it's not possible to trace or link them to the apostles or one of their students or witnesses, and they were written decades or centuries after the apostolic age.

On point 9, St. Hippolytus also says that Cerinthus formed his opinions not from Scripture but from Egyptian gnosticism. In this he affirms the historical fact of the gnostic systems borrowing elements from a variety of religions, including Christianity, but only to illustrate their own principles.

To come back to the topic of Mary's virginity or her not having any other children besides Jesus. St. Ignatius writes around the turn of the first century:

You are … fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh … truly born of a virgin. (Smyrnaeans 1, 1)

Our God, Jesus Christ, was according to the appointment of God conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost. (Ephesians 18)

The virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord. (Ephesians 19)

Note that Ignatius immediately succeeded Evodius as bishop of Antioch (possibly between 64 and 67) if Eusedius is correct (Church History, 22). According to a late account of his martyrdom he was a student of the Apostle St. John. That he knew St. John is plausible because his friend Polycarp was a student of the Apostle John according to St. Irenaeus. Irenaeus knew Polycarp and mentions him several times in his letter to Florinus, his letter to Pope Victor, and in his Against Heresies (3, 3). He writes to Florinus, a priest from Rome who became convinced by the gnostic Valentinus that God was the author of evil,

These doctrines, O Florinus, to speak mildly, are not of sound judgment. These doctrines disagree with the Church, and drive into the greatest impiety those who accept them. These doctrines, not even the heretics outside of the Church, have ever dared to publish. These doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to you.

For when I was a boy, I saw you in lower Asia with Polycarp, moving in splendor in the royal court, and endeavoring to gain his approbation.

I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord.

This letter, besides indirectly proving the connection of Ignatius (via Polycarp) to the Apostle John, tells us that gnosticism was opposed by the Church from the beginning and did not receive any tradition directly from the apostles or their companions. This and the late date of the gnostic gospels excludes the possibility that the gnostic gospels are based on a reliable or first-century tradition.

The letters of St. Ignatius show that Mary was considered a virgin from the beginning. Against the opinion that she did not continue to remain a virgin, I would object that

it is not implied that she did not continue to remain a virgin in the New Testament or in the Fathers

her continued virginity is not a question raised in the New Testament

once it was raised, her continued virginity was affirmed in the Fathers

when the question of Jesus' brothers was raised, they are in the Fathers (except for Tertullian) identified as his cousins or stepbrothers

So the most plausible conclusion seems to me that Mary did not have any other children besides Jesus, and that we don't know the exact relationship of  James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon with Jesus, but they are according to the strongest tradition his stepbrothers.

Edited by Leroy - 08-Apr-2012 at 14:25
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 23:15
That's good work, Sid Smile.
I don't think the question of Mary's virginity is off OP here, on the opposite, it's a vital part of the Desposyni question, since if she was virgin all her life, Jesus wouldn't have brothers and sisters, and this reduced the number and degree of their relation to Jesus.
So, it's all good, we are on track hereSmile.
I love this thread because of all the sources that you, Leroy and Sylla1 posted, makes me rethink and reread parts of sources I read before with a new POV, that's greatSmile.
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  Quote Sidney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 22:56
Originally posted by Leroy

Lot, Abraham's nephew, is called Abraham's brother, and Jacob, Laban's nephew, is called Laban's brother. The translators used the Greek word for brother even though Greek has a word for cousin. By literally translating the word brother they imported the Jewish meaning of the word into their Greek language.
Considering this, the context, the early Christian interpretation, and the very early reference (Gospel of James, see above) to Joseph's
children from a previous marriage, it's more plausible that the word brother was used in the wider sense.You seem to be focusing a lot on the New Testament, but there was no set New Testament for the early Christians. Not until the Council of Rome in 382 did the Christian Church universally agree on the canon of the New Testament.


Good point Leroy. I've looked at some non-canonical New Testament sources. This site http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/index.html has many early Christian texts.
Unfortunately they don't actually help in deciding what people believed about Jesus' brothers, although the majority take them to be the sons of Joseph, (and some that Jesus was too).
To quote;

1. The Gospel of James (aka Nativity of James, or Potoevangelium, dated mid to late 2nd Century)“And the priest said unto Joseph: Unto thee hath it fallen to take the virgin of the Lord and keep her for thyself. And Joseph refused, saying: I have sons, and I am an old man, but she is a girl: lest I became a laughing-stock to the children of Israel. “

2. The First Apocalypse of James (late 2nd to early 3rd Century) Jesus says to James..."See now the completion of my redemption. I have given you a sign of these things, James, my brother. For not without reason have I called you my brother, although you are not my brother materially. And I am not ignorant concerning you; so that when I give you a sign - know and hear."

3. The Odes of Solomon (2nd Century) “And I did not perish, because I was not their brother, nor was my birth like theirs.”

So these sources state categorically that Jesus was not a (blood) brother to the children of Joseph.
However;

4. Clement of Alexandria (dated late 2nd Century)“Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of Joseph and very religious, whilst knowing the near relationship of the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother. But what said he? "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,"--of Him as Lord; but "the brother of James." For this is true; he was His brother, (the son) of Joseph.“ and also “…being certain that He [Jesus] had both a mother and brothers, they tested His divinity rather than His nativity.”

This suggests the sons of Joseph were considered Jesus' brothers, although 'considered;' doesn't mean they really were.

5. Hegesippus (dated late 2nd Century, quoted by Eusebius in the 4th Century) “There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother.”

Here it is clearly stated that Jesus had brothers in the flesh (but again we have your point that we don't know how specific the term 'brother' was).
However;

6.The Second Apocalypse of James (dated to mid 2nd Century) “This is the discourse that James the Just spoke in Jerusalem"...”Once when I was sitting deliberating, he opened the door. That one whom you hated and persecuted (i.e. Jesus) came in to me. He said to me, "Hail, my brother; my brother, hail." As I raised my face to stare at him, (my) mother said to me, "Do not be frightened, my son, because he said 'My brother' to you (singular). For you (plural) were nourished with this same milk. Because of this he calls me "My mother". For he is not a stranger to us. He is your step-brother [...]."

And further;

7. The Gospel of Philip (late 2nd to early 3rd Century) “Philip the apostle said; Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross." and “Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying….And the Lord would not have said "My Father who is in Heaven" (Mt 16:17), unless he had had another father, but he would have said simply "My father".

8. Acts of St Thomas(early 3rd Century) “And the Lord (Jesus) said to him (Abbanes, a merchant): I have a slave that is a carpenter and I desire to sell him. And so saying he showed him Thomas afar off, and agreed with him for three litrae of silver unstamped, and wrote a deed of sale, saying: I, Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter, acknowledge that I have sold my slave, Judas by name, unto thee Abbanes, a merchant of Gundaphorus, king of the Indians. And when the deed was finished, the Saviour took Judas Thomas and led him away to Abbanes the merchant, and when Abbanes saw him he said unto him: Is this thy master? And the apostle said: Yea, he is my Lord. And he said: I have bought thee of him. And thy apostle held his peace.“

9. Hippolytus of Rome (late 2nd to early 3rd Century) doesn't agree with these people, but states that “Carpocrates affirms that…Jesus was generated of Joseph, and that, having been born similar to (other) men, He was more just than the rest (of the human race).“ and “But a certain Cerinthus,…supposed that Jesus was not generated from a virgin, but that he was born son of Joseph and Mary, just in a manner similar with the rest of men, and that (Jesus) was more just and more wise (than all the human race).“

So these show a belief that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not of a virgin birth.

All pretty inconsistent. Taken together however, they show a tradition that the 'brothers' of Jesus were the sons of at least one of his parents. If you add that to my earlier post where I remarked that the Desposyni seemed to claim their relationship to Jesus through Joseph the carpenter, it strongly suggests an early belief that Jesus was the son of Joseph. This tradition seems to have survived alongside the belief that Jesus was the son of a virgin, until the virgin birth became the official version, meaning that any hint of a family in the flesh was down played, explained away, or denied.

As an aside to my OP - yet it has appeared here and maybe appropriate for another thread;
Reading these 2nd-3rd Century texts, there is no idea of a perpetual virginity for Mary. When they mention Mary as a virgin, it is to emphasise that she was a virgin when Jesus was conceived, and that after Jesus was born there was no physical evidence that she had borne a child (ie she was still a virgin). That Jesus was born of a virgin was important for prooving that Jesus fulfilled certain prophecies and that he was of divine origin. But there is no interest or comment in these texts about whether Mary stayed a virgin all her life.










Edited by Sidney - 05-Apr-2012 at 23:01
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 16:45
Yes, your point of view is definitely derived from a fundamentally different concept of history than mine. LOL

Originally posted by Don Quixote

Now that you know where I stand, I propose we don't highjack the thread with proving the existence or not of god, but go back on the OP


Fine with me. Smile


Edited by Leroy - 05-Apr-2012 at 16:46
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 13:03
thank you, Leroy, for linking this gospel I haven't read beforeSmile I cannot take it as a historical proof per se, because of it's clear agenda, but it's an interesting read anyway.

As for the rest of the things we have to agree to disagree, due to our different POV.
I consider faith being different from historical research, and in many cases an obstacle to it, because is requires taking in faith things that are not seen, not proven, nor realistic. Faith requires putting a theology, dogma, doctrine, of a philosophical theory above the historical evidence - hence it cannot be a base for a purely historical research - this is what I think, and I'll keep myself to it.
All religions are man-made, by deifying people, along mythological lines, that repeat themselves - I read Joseph Campbell on that, Mircha Eliade, and Fraser on that.

Do I doubt the historictity of Jesus - yes, one of the possible possibilities I consider is that he may have never existed. Here are the possibilities I consider as possible:
- Jesus never existed, was a completely fabricated myth, like ones about Zeus or Heracles - which is less feasible than the 2nd one, because of the references we have, but it still a possibility
- he existed as a human, a moral teacher, and was later deified - which is my current hypothesis
- he existed as a son of god - which I don't believe in, but is still a possibility.

As for your above post - I'm not talking about pagan influence, I'm noting the way in which all religious are created - through human archetypes, like the ones Jung talks about - and the archetype of dying-and-ressurected-god is one of those. I'm not saying that whoever copied the resurection ides from Dionysus - I'm saying that the resurrection idea is an old human archetype, that appears in many cultures, in some way in may be inbuilt in out brain structures, what Jung calls our "collective unconscious". As such, I has nothing to do with cultural borrowing, but is a stricture that, like the grammar structure that enables us to become literate, unables the human beings to create religions in their cultural context. Modern examples of creating denominations and religions are the LDS church and the cult of John Frum in Vanuatu. As I said, Christianity doesn't get special treatment from me - I acknowledge the positive value religion as for the psychological life on man individuals, but this by any means doesn't make it ground in any reality.

Now that you know where I stand, I propose we don't highjack the thread with proving the existence or not of god, but go back on the OP - on which I have to say, IMHO - that of Mary was a consecrated virgin for life, then Jesus wouldn't be born - conceiving required, in those times before the artificial inseminating, sex. Nor was Jesus unique, he had a family like everyone else. Which, I suppose, /in a possibility that god exists and Jesus was his son/, was the point - that Jesus was one ordinary person, like all of us, and he showed what the full capacity of a human being is - conquiering the matter=walking on water, and that the soul doesn't die - this of, course, only under a working hypothesis that deity exist.



Edited by Don Quixote - 05-Apr-2012 at 13:08
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