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Desposyni

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Topic: Desposyni
Posted By: Sidney
Subject: Desposyni
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 13:43
According to the New Testament and early church traditions, Jesus had cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters. Many of these individuals accepted Jesus’ ministry, and were members of the infant Christian church.
Those identified as appearing in the NT (although their relationship is not always given) are;
Mary, his mother
Joseph the carpenter, his (step) father
James, Joses/ph, Simon & Jude/as, the brothers of Jesus
Mary and one or more other (unnamed), sisters of Jesus
Mary/Salome, the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus
Zebedee the husband of Salome
John & James, the sons of Zebedee
Alphaeus/Clopas the brother of Joseph the carpenter
Levi, Simeon, James & Joses the sons of Alphaeus/Clopas
Mary the wife of Clopas
Joseph of Arimathea, a great uncle of Jesus
Simon the Leper, a cousin of Joseph the carpenter
Mary, Martha & Lazarus, children of Simon the Leper
Elizabeth the Levite, a cousin to Mary the wife of Joseph the carpenter
Zecharias the priest, husband of Elizabeth
John the Baptist, son of Zecharias & Elizabeth

According to Julius Africanus, who wrote c.220AD, Jesus’ human relations were called ‘Desposyni’, and came from Nazareth & Cochaba. Members of this family were still alive in his own time.

Eusebius, the Church Historian of the 4th Century, quotes Hegesippus (d.180AD) as saying that in the reign on Domitian, the emperor ordered the execution of all those in King David’s line. The grandsons of Jude, the brother of Jesus, were brought before him and admitted that they were descended from David, and also Christians. They showed Domitian that they were farmers and that the Kingdom they awaited was not an earthly one. Domitian viewed them as being too simple to be a threat and released them. Because they were of Christ’s family and had borne testimony they were made leaders of the church, and they survived to the reign of Trajan, when another persecution occurred against Christians and the House of Judah. In this time Simeon the son Clopas and cousin to Jesus, was martyred at the age of 120. Later tradition gives these two grandnephews of Jesus the names James and Zoker.
Simeon, the son of Clopas, mentioned above and martyred in 107AD, was the second Bishop of Jerusalem, having succeeded James, the brother of Jesus, in 62AD. Eusebius tells us that the succeeding Bishops of Jerusalem, to the year 135AD, were all circumcised Hebrews, but then the emperor Hadrian expelled all Jews from Jerusalem and so gentile Christians took over the position. Later commentators have taken this to mean that all these Hebrew Bishops were of Jesus’s family, and the last Hebrew Bishop was Judah Kyriakos, traditionally said to have been of the family of the James and Zoker, descendants of Jude.

According to an historian of Christianity in Persia, Bar Hebraeus (d.1286), other members of the Desposyni travelled to Persia and became Bishops of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.
Abris (Abrosius), of the family of Joseph the carpenter, was already in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, but on a visit to Antioch was chosen by Simeon, the Bishop of Jerusalem, to succeed the recently deceased Mari as Bishop in Persia. He was Bishop for 17 years. He was succeeded by Abraham, of the family of Jacob (James) the brother of Jesus, and was also consecrated in Antioch. He was Bishop for 12 years. He was succeeded by Yokab, also of the family of Joseph the carpenter. Yakob was residing in Jerusalem, but was sent to Persia and was Bishop for 18 years.

Another attested member of the Desposyni appears on the South coast of Turkey. In the time of the emperor Decius there was a Christian called Conon, living as a gardener in Magydus, near present day Antalya. He was arrested, and taken to the local governor as a Christian. He was asked who he was, and he claimed to be a native of Nazareth and a kinsman of Jesus. Nails were knocked into his feet and he was forced to run before a chariot, resulting in his death, c.250AD.

There is also a Welsh belief (10th Century or earlier) that the ancestor of the kings of Gwynedd, Beli Mawr, was married to Anna, the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus.

Finally, within some of the Arthurian romance cycles, there is the 13th Century belief that Joseph of Arimathea fathered a family line known as the Fisher Kings, who were guardians of the Holy Grail in Britain.



Replies:
Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 18:08
Thanks that was really interesting. Just to clarify the brother thing, the New Testament is quite explicit that Mary was a virgin and the early Church fathers acknowledged this.

The http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm - Protoevangelium of James states that Joseph already had children before he married the Virgin Mary. The brothers of Jesus (James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon) were most plausibly his step-brothers. Simon may have been his cousin (Eusebius quoting Hegesippus):

And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as the Lord had also on the same account, Symeon, the son of the Lord's uncle, Clopas, was appointed the next bishop. All proposed him as second bishop because he was a cousin of the Lord.

Note that in Aramaic there is no word for cousin and the word brother is used for close relations and also for friends and companions (more than 120 different people are called Jesus' brothers).

Sources:
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0211.htm - Clement of Alexandria, II Comments on the Epistle of Jude
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250104.htm%20 - Eusebius, Church History, 8, 5


Posted By: Nick1986
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 18:10
Some apocrypha even claim Jesus married and had children after the crucifixion

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Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!


Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 18:13
Do you happen to know which ones, their dates and reception by the Church?


Posted By: Nick1986
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 18:19
Not off the top of my head, but i'll see what i can find

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Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!


Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 18:42
If such apocrypha exist they are probably gnostic and of a rather late origin. I'm guessing they are modern interpretations though.


Posted By: Centrix Vigilis
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2012 at 20:35
Edging toward a Dan Brown rehash if ya asking me. Course no one did.... so I'll just throw in some counter rhetoric anyway. And as it address the above question it's pertinent.
 
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/was-jesus-divine/ -
S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'



Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 00:03
I don't buy that Mary was a virgin - to have a baby one has to have had sex in some shape and form; not that it matter, but this was a later addition when the Church became sexophobic and has to make sure that no "blemish" of any sexuality ever "marred" Jesus - it was a piece of propaganda, in other words. So, Jesus having brothers and sisters and family makes no difference to me, in the opposite, makes a case for his possible existence - /which by any means has not been proven along the centuries/.

Keep in mind that I don't want to insult anyone's sensibilities, nor I want anyone to agree with me, when discussing such flammable topicsSmile


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Posted By: Centrix Vigilis
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 01:12
to have a baby one has to have had sex in some shape and form
Nope. Not according to the doctrine and dogma of the Virgin birth of Jesus.
 
And there in lies the failure of the revisionist and or secularist attempt (and in particular the atheist or Christian religion haters) to restate evidence that does not exist or distort that which does. Even when one considers the differences in interpretation of the aforementioned..amongst the faithful.

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"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'



Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 01:24
I prefer to hold myself on reality about that - I had a child, I know something of how those things are done and how are not done.
Doctrines and dogmas are exactly that - doctrines and dogmas, not facts or realities, as far as I'm concerned; I'm not obliged to follow any of them. I wrote on this before - if Jesus existed to start with, he was a man with all the body parts and functions any man has; the same goes for her mother, etc. Every other attempt to explain normal bodily functions with some miracles is not needed and if it's done, it's a figment of someone's imagination and used for propaganda needs.

This is what I see. How you are going to classify it is your choice, I don't have to accept it.Smile


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Posted By: Centrix Vigilis
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 01:31
This is what I see. How you are going to classify it is your choice, I don't have to accept it.Smile
 
 
Certainly correct and entirely your perogative.
Ntl...
I shall pray for your further enlightment.Wink

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"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'



Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 04:27
Tried this one too for some years - I'm not a believer material.
I appreciate the thought though, my friendSmile.


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Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 09:22
Originally posted by Don Quixote

I don't buy that Mary was a virgin - to have a baby one has to have had sex in some shape and form; not that it matter, but this was a later addition when the Church became sexophobic and has to make sure that no "blemish" of any sexuality ever "marred" Jesus - it was a piece of propaganda, in other words.

I don't expect anyone else to believe in the virgin birth of Christ. I'm just pointing out the fact that it has been held since the beginning of the Church. If Mary's perpetual virginity was a later addition, there would not have been a consensus about it among the early Church fathers.

So, Jesus having brothers and sisters and family makes no difference to me, in the opposite, makes a case for his possible existence - /which by any means has not been proven along the centuries/.

Whether you think the virgin birth is myth is not the point, the point is that from a historical point of view the myth was believed by the early Christians. Smile


Posted By: Sidney
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 10:39
I find the Desposyni interesting for three reasons;

1. That a family believed themselves related to an individual who lived one or two hundred years before them, implies some knowledge that that person existed and was important. There are some modern arguments that Jesus never even existed in 1st Century Palestine, but these family traditions place him within a genealogical context.

2. These people claimed a relationship through Joseph the carpenter, not through Mary. If Joseph had no children by Mary then that connection would be of no great import, espescially as he vanishes early on from the gospels. I know 'family' could include an extended range of individulas, adopted/half/step/in-law/full blooded, but its an interesting point, although I'm not sure whether it has any significance.

3. Why did their claims die out? Did they all forget, or the lines become extinct. How late did the tradition last of being related to Jesus?

Jesus' brothers pose an interesting problem for some people, or have an easy solution for others. Either they were full siblings (and Jesus was a son of Joseph, which is a problem for Jesus' divinity), or they are other children of Mary (which poses questions about Mary's virginity). Usually they are explained as children of Joseph by a previous marriage, or they are made into cousins - children of Mary's sister and Joseph's brother.

My still-undecided-and-open-to-change thoughts are;
The New Testament interpretation is that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, not that she remained a virgin all her life. That belief came later when people wanted Mary to have been 'without sin' (i.e. had no sexual intercourse) inorder to have received the Holy Spirit, and God must have maintained her sinlessness inorder to proove how holy she was. And having a (so to speak) divine womb, it can't have been polluted by mortals, unless you accept that any further children were (at least in part) divine, which no one did. But the idea of Mary's perpetual purity meant that she too had to have been born 'without sin', and so we get the tricky situation where her mother Anna was also said to have concieved through the Holy Spirit. This train of thinking leads to the inevitable repetiton ad infintum (i.e. Anna must also be without sin, and so her mother must have concieved via the Holy Spirit, and so her mother, etc.) which seems unlikely. It also led to inventions of how Mary could have had a sister if Mary was a virgin birth, in the same way that people argue over how Jesus could have had siblings.

Going back to the New Testament, Jesus is called Mary's first-born son. To me that implies the existence of others. I see no reason not to accept that Jesus had uterine brothers and sisters, whether or not Jesus' was the literal son of God.

Also, while the word 'brother' in Aramaic (or in most languages for that matter) didn't neccesarily mean 'son of the same parents', why, when given a group of people who were all companians or near relatives of Jesus, is one, James, singled out as his 'brother'?

But that is my interpretation, and I know that there are arguments and beliefs against it, from ones more versed individuals than I am.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 14:08
Originally posted by Leroy


Whether you think the virgin birth is myth is not the point, the point is that from a historical point of view the myth was believed by the early Christians. Smile

True, it had been believed, and it's believed now - but believes have nothing to do with reality, no? People believed in Zeus and Ganesha, this doesn't men that objectively they existed. This is besides the point, the OP here is about the relatives of Jesus, seen as real people, which means that they had been born, and lived. It's a hard thing to talk about people connected with religion in a purely secular way, because different religious views get into it; but I thought the idea here is to talk about them outside of the Christian milieu that had enveloped them since they came about.


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Posted By: Centrix Vigilis
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 14:18
but believes have nothing to do with reality, no?
depends on the individual version of reality me thinks. But I ken yer latter point so am moving on.Big smile

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"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'



Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 14:36
The claims of Desposyni didn't die out easily, Eusebius of Cesarea recorded that in AD 318 a Desposyni delegation went to Rome to talk with the Bishop Silvester at Constantine's Lateran Palace:
"... Through their chief spokesman. Joses, the delegated argued that the Church should be rightfully centered in Jerusalem, not Rome. They claimed that the Bishop of Jerusalem should be a true hereditary Desposinos, while the bishops of other major centers - such as Alexandria, Antioch and Ephesus - should be related. After all, they declared, Bishop clement of Alexandria had written that Jesus's brother James /as the appointed Nazarene Bishop of Jerusalem/ was "the Lords of the Holy Church and the bishop of bishops". In that respect, their Israelite-Christian movement was of far higher authority than a contrived Roman offshoot centered upon St. Peter, who was a mere apostle of the Lord and not a family member. Not surprizingly, their demands were made in vain..." pg. 27-28 "The Magdalene Legacy" by Laurence Gardner.

So, it;s all fight for power - a claim of the "clan" over the claim of politically based power - and this has nothing to do with faith, just earthly power.

As for the virgin birth, I don't see what this have to do with anything. If there is God /which as an agnostic I don't think impossible/, he created sex, so all living creatures can procriate, so sex cannot possibly be sinful, on the opposite, it's divinely ordained. The sexophibic strain in Christianily didn;t came from Judaism /that respected sex, and wanted more wived so more sex and more kids come about/, but from the Greek Stoic philosophy that got instilled in Christianity by the Early Fathers of the Church.

Sexuality is not a simple thing, it plays an extremely important role in the human psychological life; if humans are cretaed bu god, this god knew very well what he was doing be putting sex in humans life - it's the glue between a man and woman, a glue so strong than can keep 2 people bonded for life, even considering that living with another person is the hardest thing possible. If there is higher plan for humanity /which I don't exclude as possibility/ sexulaity is an important part of it, not something dirty and sinful, that has to be cut out of human life. That's why for me was Jesus married or not, did he have sex or not, did Mary have sex or not, have nothing to do with the question "is there a God", and "was Jesus divine". If there is a god, his way to create is through sex that he ordained - and as such is to be enjoyed by humans as a part of their effort of becoming better persons, after all then life is only a school for people's souls. I don't see who a son of god would become more divine by not doing what his father, the god, ordained as a way of creation.

In other words, there is no need of "virgin birth" because sex is divine instrument, so to speak, nor a sin. This is my opinion anyway.


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Posted By: Sidney
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 16:28
Originally posted by Don Quixote

The claims of Desposyni didn't die out easily, Eusebius of Cesarea recorded that in AD 318 a Desposyni delegation went to Rome to talk with the Bishop Silvester at Constantine's Lateran Palace:"... Through their chief spokesman. Joses, the delegated argued that the Church should be rightfully centered in Jerusalem, not Rome. They claimed that the Bishop of Jerusalem should be a true hereditary Desposinos, while the bishops of other major centers - such as Alexandria, Antioch and Ephesus - should be related. After all, they declared, Bishop clement of Alexandria had written that Jesus's brother James /as the appointed Nazarene Bishop of Jerusalem/ was "the Lords of the Holy Church and the bishop of bishops". In that respect, their Israelite-Christian movement was of far higher authority than a contrived Roman offshoot centered upon St. Peter, who was a mere apostle of the Lord and not a family member. Not surprizingly, their demands were made in vain..." pg. 27-28 "The Magdalene Legacy" by Laurence Gardner.


I've heard this story too, but if Laurence Gardner found it in Eusebius, he must have a hitherto unknown source, as it doesn't appear in the known records of that historian.

It does however, appear in the work of Malachi Martin "Decline and Fall of the Roman Church" (1981). Malachi starts by saying that the interview between Pope and Desposyni was not recorded, yet then goes on to tell us what was discussed, which seems to be a contradiction. He also states that the Hebrew Bishops of Jerusalem, and in fact all the early church leaders in the East, were Desposyni, and that the Desposyni were only classed as such if they were blood relatives to Jesus through his mother Mary, which is at odds with the references I've found. Malachi gives no sources for his information, and writes his history in a very readable, but also very novelistic, style, which makes it hard to judge which parts are historically attested and which is artistic retelling.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 17:25
Hm, this is the second time I get a remark that something Gardner said is not exactly right, I'll start questioning his book and motives. I haven't read Malachi Martin, but I don't like unreferenced with primary source research.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I'll look deeper into itSmile

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Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 17:48
Originally posted by Centrix Vigilis

but believes have nothing to do with reality, no?
depends on the individual version of reality me thinks. But I ken yer latter point so am moving on.Big smile

I suppose it can be said in this way. Gabriel Marcel said that believers have an access to reality than is open only to them, in the same way as a person who is school in reading notes have the doors of classical music open to him on another level, that a person who doesn't know anything about theory of music cannot experience. Hence, you have open for you doors I cannot pass, so in general I cannot really understand the question in the way you do; and I separate things in way in which you don't see them - that's because you are a person of faith and I'm not.

Faith - it's an elusive thing, one cannot learn it, cannot fake it, cannot prove it to oneself, cannot force it one oneself, even if one wants to - it is there or not. I've been reading religious philosophy in the last, say, 13 years, and I'm fond in particular of the medieval theologians - but none of this rubbed off on me, even in the years when I was associated with a particular church. I respect your point of view, and in a way envy you, since I'm smelling a flower from behind a glass, while you have it in your nose - but this is only as far as I can go.

Anyway, I wouldn't like my opinions to be an obstacle to your participation in the discussion hereSmile - I love reading your posts on the matter, even when I don't agree with them. I don't need to agree with someone in order to discuss with them, nor I don't want then to agree with me - what a boring world it would be if everyone thought like me.


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Posted By: Nick1986
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 19:20
Jesus' family tree:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/tree.html - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/tree.html


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Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!


Posted By: Sidney
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 20:41
Not Desposyni, but along a similar vein of witnesses to the life of Jesus having descendants (traditionally);

There is an 11th Century Islamic work by Shaykh Tusi that tells how a descendant of St. Simon, “one of the closest
companion and successor of Prophet Jesus”, married Joshua, the son of the Caesar and ruler of Rome, and that their daughter Malikah, or Narjes, married Hassan al Askan, the 11th Shi’ate imam (d.874 and a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed), and was mother to Mohammad al Hassan (b.869), the 12th imam, by some believed to be the Mahdi who is still alive and will return to rule before the Days of Judgement.
The St. Simon mentioned could be Simon, Bishop of Jerusalem, but would more likely fit Simon Peter. The reference to the Caesar of Rome is, however, anachronistic. And I cannot find a Joshua in the family of the Holy Roman Emperor, or that of the Byzantium Emperor.
In the New Testament, Simon and Andrew are brothers and fishermen. Jesus visited Simon’s home and healed his wife’s mother. Jesus also renamed Simon ‘Peter’ as a sign of how important he would be in the history of the Christian church.
Apparently there are people today with the surname Semaan in Antioch, where Simon Peter visited and left his family, who claim to be descended from him. But the surname Semaan seems to be very common amongst Christian families with links to the earliest Christian communities, so it more likely was a name adopted as a declaration of faith (it means ‘the listener’), rather than an indication of who an ancestor was.

Callistratus was the descendant of Neocorus/Okurus who, as a soldier under Tiberius, had witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and was converted to Christianity. Callistratus was born in Carthage to Christian parents, and like his own father, was a soldier. The emperor Diocletian decreed Christianity illegal in the army, but Callistratus was heard praying to Jesus during the night, and was hauled before his commander. During his interrogation and torture, 49 of his fellow soldiers converted to Christianity, and they were all martyred together, c.300 AD.

When the Empress Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, travelled to Jerusalem in 327AD, she was seeking holy relics. On the track of the Holy Cross she met a Jew, Judas the son of Simon the son of Sachias, who knew, from knowledge passed down in his family, where the site of Golgotha was. Whether there was a tradition that his family saw the crucifixion, I haven’t read.


Posted By: Nick1986
Date Posted: 02-Apr-2012 at 19:14
Joseph of Arimathea is beleived to be another relative of Jesus (possibly his uncle). Joseph supposedly owned a tin mine in Cornwall where the Holy Grail was hidden

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Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!


Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 17:42
Originally posted by Sidney

3. Why did their claims die out? Did they all forget, or the lines become extinct. How late did the tradition last of being related to Jesus?

Interesting questions, I hope you keep us updated with your research.

I would suggest that the desposyni died out during the reign of Trajan. Julius Africanus coined the term desposyni, but he does not claim that any relatives were still living.

Hegesippus tells us that Simeon and James were made bishops and that the grandsons of Judas became bishops of the Church as was natural in the case of those who were . . . of the kindred of the Lord. And . . . their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.

These men were all martyred and would likely have been celibate or continent:

St. Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians ( http://www.newadvent.org/bible/1co007.htm - 7:7-38 ) that he wishes that all were celibate like himself. Eusebius, http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_de_03_book1.htm - commenting on this , says,

I am glad to say we are able to provide teachers and preachers of the word of holiness, free from all ties of life and anxious thoughts. And in our day these men are necessarily devoted to celibacy that they may have leisure for higher things; they have undertaken to bring up not one or two children but a prodigious number, and to educate them in godliness, and to care for their life generally.

And Tertullian http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0405.htm - writes, commending the clergy and women devoted to celibacy:

How many men, therefore, and how many women, in Ecclesiastical Orders, owe their position to continence, who have preferred to be wedded to God; who have restored the honour of their flesh, and who have already dedicated themselves as sons of that (future) age, by slaying in themselves the concupiscence of lust, and that whole (propensity) which could not be admitted within Paradise! Whence it is presumable that such as shall wish to be received within Paradise, ought at last to begin to cease from that thing from which Paradise is intact.

In his http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0406.htm - On Monogamy Tertullian explains that the wives of the apostles became ministers to them and not women with whom they had marriage relations.

And Jesus Christ said,

For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mothers womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

My still-undecided-and-open-to-change thoughts are;
The New Testament interpretation is that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, not that she remained a virgin all her life.

The Virgin Mary seems to have taken a vow of virginity because she had no intention to have sexual relations. When the angel tells Mary you will conceive, she responds, how shall this be?

In any case, the interpretation of the early Church was that she was ever-virgin (see for example http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0406.htm - Tertullian, On Monogamy, 8 ). The notion that the Christian religion is based on the New Testament and not vice versa did not exist until the 14th century.


Posted By: Sylla1
Date Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 20:30
James (The Just [?]) as a brother of Jesus is actually attested by the hard non-religious historical source of Yosef ben Matityahu aka Titus Flavius Josephus:, i.e. at least as historical as Jesus himself:

"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent."  (Ιουδαϊκή Αρχαιολογία / Antiquities of the Jews XX: IX: I)

There are several James in the NT; this one is identitied with [sic] the "brother of the Lord" quoted by Paul:

"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie no
t."  (Gal, 1: 18-20)

... is usually identified with the traditional Judaism supporter & friendly opponent of Paul in the Apostolic Conference ("Council") of Jerusalem circa 50 AD according to Luke (Acts 15: 13-21) and purported author of the canonical eponymous epistle (and purportedly at least three apocrypha)

The four brothers of Jesus (including a James traditionally identified with The Just) and an unspecified numner of sisters are mentioned by the canonical gospels, Mark 13: 55-56, copycated by Matthew 6: 3 :
"Is not this the carpenter's son?
 Is not his mother called Mary?
And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
 And are not all his sisters with us
?"

The canonical non-synoptic John mentions Jesus' brothers as a group twice:

"After this he went down to Caper'naum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days" (2: 12)
"For even his brothers did not believe in him." (7: 5)

These are the textual references; the interpretations are, needless to say, myriad.

Hope this stuff may be useful Smile Smile Cool


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Any history is as good as the evidence it is based on

There are no human races


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 22:19
Well, it may sound irreverent, but when it comes to virginity...Mary may had conceived Jesus by non-penetrational sexual activity, and hence had been virgin when she bore him /many girls do that in order to keep a boyfriend but not no get too involved/ - but no one stays virgin after giving birth. Then she had other kids - if she wasn't married when she conceived Jesus she was when she conceived the others, so there was no reason to refuse her husband. Besides celibacy, even if embraced by Jesus, wasn't a feature of the everyday Jewish life, and Jesus's parents were ordinary people, not members of some elitist sect that was sworn to celibacy.

Tertullian was writing about and in later time - when the doctrine of celibacy /which I still think had to do more with Greek Stoic philosophy more than with Judaism/ was starting to spread. The only primary sources we have to rely about Jesus's intermediate family seem to be what Sylla1 posted - and to me they describe an ordinary family with kids etc.

Thank you, Leroy, for linking this work of Eusebius, which, I admit, haven't read.


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Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 04-Apr-2012 at 12:19
Just to be clear, I'm not arguing that Mary was a virgin all her life. I'm merely pointing out the fact that this belief is found in all the earliest discussions of it. I do not agree that Mary's perpetual virginity was a later doctrine.

Originally posted by Don Quixote

Well, it may sound irreverent, but when it comes to virginity...Mary may had conceived Jesus by non-penetrational sexual activity, and hence had been virgin when she bore him /many girls do that in order to keep a boyfriend but not no get too involved/ - but no one stays virgin after giving birth.


Naturally speaking? Sure. The account of the virgin birth is unscientific and not logical or rational from a naturalistic point of view.

Then she had other kids


I do not see any evidence for this. This interpretation simply does not take into account

the meanings of the Aramaic word brother

the contextual use of the word brother

the explanation of the early Christian writers

Besides celibacy, even if embraced by Jesus, wasn't a feature of the everyday Jewish life, and Jesus's parents were ordinary people, not members of some elitist sect that was sworn to celibacy. Tertullian was writing about and in later time - when the doctrine of celibacy /which I still think had to do more with Greek Stoic philosophy more than with Judaism/ was starting to spread.


It was not completely unheard of in ancient Israel. Jews would have known that the prophet Jeremiah was celibate. And St. Paul (inspired perhaps by the prophet Jeremiah) practiced celibacy before and after he converted to Christianity. The Gospel of James suggests that there were consecrated virgins at the temple and that Mary was one of them.

I speculate that desposyni died out early because

the last known (correct me if I'm wrong Sidney) desposyni were martyred in the reign of Trajan

St. Paul and Jesus commended celibacy

the Church fathers commended the clergy and devoted women who practiced celibacy

as relatives of Jesus and leaders of the Church they would have been held to the highest standard

Therefore, it is possible, and perhaps even likely, that desposyni did not produce any descendants.


Posted By: Sylla1
Date Posted: 04-Apr-2012 at 12:54
Please note that in the case of James, TF Josephus explicitly called him & Jesus "brothers" in Greek language, within an historical non-religious work.

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Any history is as good as the evidence it is based on

There are no human races


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 04-Apr-2012 at 14:26
The early Christian writers had a agenda to fulfill, so their explanation is not exactly historical.
About the Gospel of James - do you mean this one http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/jam2.html - http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/jam2.html ? I cannot find in it a remark about Mary being a consecrated virgin, would you quote the relevant verses?. I remember that Laurence Gardner mentioned something like that in 'The Magdalene Legacy", but the consecrated virgins were such before they were given in marriage, not forever:
"...Marys were raised in a chaste monastic environment within specific holy orders, and they were subject to strict regulations that applied until they were chosen to be bethrothed..." pg. 9

I cannot understand what the faith of people that Mary was a virgin has to do with her being a virgin or not? I can believe in Santa Claus, this doesn't mean that objectively he exists. What are we talking here - about what objectively could have been, or about faith? Those are 2 very different things.

I don't know if Desposyni have any descendants, or not, and frankly, I don't see it as relevant to anything; what I'm saying is that Jesus, if he existed, that is, was a person like anyone else, with relatives, etc; and if all of them decided to follow celibacy and died out, this can testify only about the self-destructive nature of it. Besides, celibacy was not an universal Christian ideal, only the Catholic Church got set on it, the Orthodox Christianity doesn't teach celibacy, and the Orthodox priests get married; and the Orthodox Christianity has the claim to the the oldest Christian church, since the Catholics separated from it in the Schism at 1054. But this is another story.


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Posted By: Sidney
Date Posted: 04-Apr-2012 at 14:33
Originally posted by Sylla1


Mark 13: 55-56, copycated by Matthew 6: 3 :"Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?" The canonical non-synoptic John mentions Jesus' brothers as a group twice:"After this he went down to Caper'naum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days" (2: 12)"For even his brothers did not believe in him." (7: 5)


Thanks for the quotes, Sylla1.

Mentioning Jesus' brothers and sisters and mother and father together in Jesus' home environment certainly suggests that they were his close family, whatever interpretation you put on the term 'family'or on 'brother' - as full blood, adoption or half. Why mention brothers and sisters if they just meant cousins? Some of Jesus' cousins were his disciples, (the sons of Zebedee and of Alphaeus) but they are not called Jesus' brothers, and are not the brothers mentioned because we are told that Jesus' brothers didn't believe in him. Indeed, the above NT quote shows that the disciples and the brothers were seperate groups. If the brothers were his close companians, wouldn't 'disciple' cover them all?

I agree with you, Leroy, that celibacy certainly cut down on the likelihood of the Desposyni surviving in a long line. The last one mentioned (which does not mean the last one in existence)in Jerusalem was Judah, Bishop, expelled in 135AD in the time of Trajan. The Desposyni Bishops in Persia were alive in the mid 2nd Century, down to about the time of Marcus Aurelius. The last one I found reference to (up to now - and if I ignore the Welsh claims) was Conon in Turkey, in the time of Decius, about 220AD. If the story is accurate, that makes nearly 200 years of a family awareness. Maybe such claims were frowned upon, or even viewd by some as blaphemous (for similar reasons as these posts are illustrating - Christ had no brothers, and wasn't related to Joseph, so there can't be any descendants from them, and if there were they are not his relatives).

I wasn't aware of the idea that Mary was a consecrated virgin in the temple, so her suprise at being told she would be pregnant was not just that she was a virgin, but that she always intended to be one. But would a consecrated virgin of the temple be getting married in the first place? Her betrothal to Joseph occured before the pregnancy, and Joseph only hesitated about marrying her after Jesus was concieved. Wouldn't her temple status preclude a marriage (with or without sex)?

I'm not very good with understanding ancient languages. I'm okay accepting that there is no word for 'brother' in the Aramaic, and that the term used can have a multiple of meanings, but was the NT not written in Greek? Does it then apply to the Greek term 'brother'?But 'brother' also has multiple meanings in English -it can be full blood, half blood, adopted, in-law, spiritual, tribal, political, friendship, etc. But the same principle also goes for the term 'mother', 'sister','father' and son, so it gets to a bit of a stale-mate on the issue.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date Posted: 04-Apr-2012 at 17:51
I suppose I have to explain why I say what I say. In my view, Jesus, Mary, etc were deified humans, hence everything what the grwoing Chrsitianity had to say about them is a deification done along the lines of mythologization, that is nothing new in human history of thought. Jesus was deified along the lines of dying-and-ressurected-gods mythopoetics, in the exampkle of Dumuzi/Osiris/Dyonisus, and Mary was deuified along the lines of Mother-Goddess-female type deities, like Inanna/Isis/Cybele, etc. Getting pregnant by a deity is nothing new - the Greek mythology is rife with such occurrences, and in many cases the pregnant woman was a priestess of the said deity - like Rhea Sylvia was a concecrsted virgin and a priestess of Mars, who got her pregnant with Romulus and Remus.

Virgin birth is a typical trait of mother-goddes figures - they self-conceive, because they are the only ones around, with no males to do that; this combined with the Greek stoic phisolophy that so praised the control over sensuality, and some cases of celibacy /quite untypical, I'd say/ in Judaism, combined to impose virginity on her, with back date, of course. The Nt gospels don't stress on mary being a virgin, nor that she was such all her life - this is a result of later deification, with the Chrsitian church comeing up with a theology of it's liking and imposing it on the historic lives of the characters in the story.

The Chrsitian church needed Jesus and his mother to be celibate - because there was no other way to combine the doctrine of celibacy as something positive and needed with teh reality of life - that humans are born between urine and feces, and one better is not too squemish about it. But the Chrsitian theology developed exactly in this squemish line - sex is sin, the son of god is supposed to be sinless, ergo a way have to be found to present him as not only celibate, but comeing about as a result of celibacy too. All this is fine when in the lines of religion - people can believe what they want, faith is a very important psychological tool, and helps many people get through life with hope and less fear of the unknown; but when we talk about historical lives of historic people, I feel a need to strip the mytopoetics from whan we know, so I get a clear image of what the possible realities may have been.

Again, I don't want to offend anyone's sensibilities on the topic, nor do I expect anyone to agree with me - this is just my way of thinking and reasoning on the matter. I see Chrsitianity as just another mythological system - so I treat it as I would treat any other religion. This means that I cannot accept later philosophical explanations, like those of the Early Church Fathers as anything else but an attempt to reconcile the realities of life with a philosophic system that has little to do with it.


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Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 08:53
Originally posted by Don Quixote

About the Gospel of James - do you mean this one http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/jam2.html ? I cannot find in it a remark about Mary being a consecrated virgin, would you quote the relevant verses?

No, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm - this one. The Gospel or Protoevangelium of James was written in the first half of the second century, when people who had known the apostles or at least their immediate disciples were still alive. In short, Mary's mother, Anne, vows that she would devote the child to the temple. Because of ceremonial considerations it was necessary she kept her virginity. Here is the relevant text:

"6. And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As the Lord my God lives, you shall not walk on this earth until I bring you into the temple of the Lord. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. . . .

7. And her months were added to the child. And the child was two years old, and Joachim said: Let us take her up to the temple of the Lord, that we may pay the vow that we have vowed, lest perchance the Lord send to us, and our offering be not received. And Anna said: Let us wait for the third year, in order that the child may not seek for father or mother. And Joachim said: So let us wait. And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. . . .

8. . . . And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? . . .

9. . . . And the priest said to Joseph, You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. . . ."

There are three more references to Mary as a virgin out of the temple of the Lord.

I cannot understand what the faith of people that Mary was a virgin has to do with her being a virgin or not?


She was by all historical accounts a perpetual virgin. That's my point.

I can believe in Santa Claus, this doesn't mean that objectively he exists. What are we talking here - about what objectively could have been, or about faith? Those are 2 very different things.


A proposition or belief is true if it corresponds to reality. You talk about knowing things objectively, but we can only know the-world-as-it-is-to-us and not the-world-as-it-is-in-itself. Belief is, therefore, a necessary condition of knowledge and knowledge a kind of belief.

I don't know if Desposyni have any descendants, or not, and frankly, I don't see it as relevant to anything; what I'm saying is that Jesus, if he existed, that is, was a person like anyone else, with relatives, etc;


It was relevant to the OP. The topic is about the desposyni remember. Smile

Do you really doubt the historicity of Jesus? If you hold other historical figures to the same level of proof, you would have to dismiss the existence of a great many of them.

Besides, celibacy was not an universal Christian ideal, only the Catholic Church got set on it, the Orthodox Christianity doesn't teach celibacy, and the Orthodox priests get married; and the Orthodox Chtistianity has the claim to the the oldest Christian church, since the Catholics separated from it in the Schism at 1054. But this is another story.


Then I suppose the Orthodox Church imposed celibacy on all clergy at the http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Canon%20Law/ElviraCanons.htm#c.33%20celicacy - Council of Elvira in 306.

Orthodox priests are allowed to remain married, not get married. Orthodox bishops are celibate. The same rules apply to the Eastern Catholic Church.

Originally posted by Sidney

I'm okay accepting that there is no word for 'brother' in the Aramaic, and that the term used can have a multiple of meanings, but was the NT not written in Greek?


Yes, but most of the dialogue had to have been in Aramaic.

Does it then apply to the Greek term 'brother'?


It does in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament). 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 http://www.tertullian.org/decretum.htm - Council of Rome in 382 did the Christian Church universally agree on the canon of the New Testament.


Posted By: Leroy
Date Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 08:57
Originally posted by Don Quixote

Jesus was deified along the lines of dying-and-ressurected-gods mythopoetics, in the exampkle of Dumuzi/Osiris/Dyonisus, and Mary was deuified along the lines of Mother-Goddess-female type deities, like Inanna/Isis/Cybele, etc. Getting pregnant by a deity is nothing new - the Greek mythology is rife with such occurrences, and in many cases the pregnant woman was a priestess of the said deity - like Rhea Sylvia was a concecrsted virgin and a priestess of Mars, who got her pregnant with Romulus and Remus.


This may all be true, but there is absolutely no historical evidence for a pagan influence. It's a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_hoc_ergo_propter_hoc - logical fallacy to say that, because one thing or event is followed by another, that thing or event is caused by it.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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.



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Posted By: Leroy
Date 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


Posted By: Sidney
Date 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 http://www.tertullian.org/decretum.htm - 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 - 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.










Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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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Posted By: Leroy
Date 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.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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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Posted By: Leroy
Date 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 ( http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0125.htm - 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.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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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Posted By: Leroy
Date 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.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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 - 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.



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Posted By: Sidney
Date 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.


Posted By: Leroy
Date 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


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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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Posted By: Leroy
Date 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.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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.


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Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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.




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Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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 - 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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Posted By: Sidney
Date 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.


Posted By: Don Quixote
Date 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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Posted By: Sidney
Date 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).



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