@gumby Do you have any example of a prominent jewish christ that had a gnostic "weltanschauung" (world view). Without being an expert, I would assume that more greek/roman christians would be affected by gnostic philosophy.
Acts 21:20 myriads of anointed christians
Why, I can see how the WITCHTOWER is correct. After all, the 144,000 are males and virgins so the number could be thousands instead of tens of thousands. Too bad for all those 'annointed' sisters who thought they were going to get a free ride on the WACKTOWER RAPTURE EXPRESS.
I am wondering if "anointed" is written with double n (annointed) or single n (anointed)
The correct spelling is with one "n" anointed.
In the early Christian Church the Gnostics believed in things that were so fundamentally different to the faith of the gospels that they could easily be perceived as drastically and strangely different.
Take the example of the wealthy man Marcion, he donated a lot of money to the church in Rome but when he began trying to promote gnostic ideas which include that the crucifiction of Christ was an illusion and not real, they gave him back his money and excommunicated him. That was around 150 AD. As for John he was warning about ppl that were denying the Lord that ransomed them.
Here's what Irenaeus (arch-enemy of Gnostics, BTW) claimed regarding the Christian church in his work Against Heresies, circa 180 AD. It's notable that Irenaeus displayed the integrity to accurately represent the position of the gnostics quite accurately before refuting them (unlike some religious writers we know of). The discovery of the Gnostic library near Naj' Hammadi in Egypt in the 1940s writings validated this.
CHAP. X.UNITY OF THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD.
1. The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one," and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess" to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send "spiritual wickedness," and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.
2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. Against Heresies, Book I, Chap. x. 1,2.
I never read anything on this, but I wonder what some of the earliest church fathers commented on the 144,000.
Yes, I have read some agnostic literatue like the gospel of Thomas and it is really strange and distinguishable of the regular scripture.
To return to the topic ... it is interesting that the New World translation uses the word myriads at other occasions when no dogmatic implications exist like in Hebrew 12:22 " But YOU have approached a Mount Zion and a city of [the] living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels ".
But apart from Acts 21:20 there is another verse where myriads is rendered thousands instead of "tens of thousand" in the NWT Luke 12:1 " In the meantime, when the crowd had gathered together in so many thousands that they were stepping upon one another, he started out by saying first to his disciples: "Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.""
But I am not so sure about the reason why they made this choice of translation here! Maybe it is again the same reason like above and they do not want the people to know how strong the impact of Jesus teachings was and how many Jews he attracted to him.
They probably thought that the 144000 saints were either literally meant and refered to that part of the saints that was made up by fleshly Jews, or they were symbolic all round their number included. But they wouldn't try to give a hybrid interpretation where part of those verses on the 144000 would be literal and another part symbolic.
The Shepherd of Hermas (Similitude IX, 17) seems to derive the "twelve tribes," the "seal," the "name" and the "virgins" from Revelation, and apparently the scope is neither limited ethnically nor numerically:
"Listen," he said: "these mountains are the twelve tribes, which inhabit the whole world. The Son of God, accordingly, was preached unto them by the apostles." "But why are the mountains of various kinds, some having one form, and others another? Explain that to me, sir." "Listen," he answered: "these twelve tribes that inhabit the whole world are twelve nations. And they vary in prudence and understanding. As numerous, then, as are the varieties of the mountains which you saw, are also the diversities of mind and understanding among these nations. And I will explain to you the actions of each one." "First, sir," I said, "explain this: why, when the mountains are so diverse, their stones, when placed in the building, became one colour, shining like those also that had ascended out of the pit." "Because," he said, "all the nations that dwell under heaven were called by hearing and believing upon the name of the Son of God. Having, therefore, received the seal, they had one understanding and one mind; and their faith became one, and their love one, and with the name they bore also the spirits of the virgins. On this account the building of the tower became of one colour, bright as the sun. But after they had entered into the same place, and became one body, certain of these defiled themselves, and were expelled from the race of the righteous, and became again what they were before, or rather worse.
In his Discourse on Virginity (I, 5), Methodius (early 4th century), seems to apply the 144,000 numerically to the (literal) virgins as opposed to the larger number of the saints:
What then did the Lord, who is the Truth and the Light, take in hand when He came down from heaven? He preserved the flesh which He had taken upon Him incorrupt in virginity, so that we also, if we world come to the likeness of God and Christ, should endeavour to honour virginity. For the likeness of God is the avoiding of corruption. And that the Word, when He was incarnate, became chief Virgin, in the same way as He was chief Shepherd and chief Prophet of the Church, the Christ-possessed John shows us, saying, in the Book of the Revelation, "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His name and His Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; " showing that the Lord is leader of the choir of virgins. And remark, in addition to this, how very great in the sight of God is the dignity of virginity: "These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault," he says, "and they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." And he clearly intends by this to teach us that the number of virgins was, from the beginning, restricted to so many, namely, a hundred and forty and four thousand, while the multitude of the other saints is innumerable. For let us consider what he means when discoursing of the rest. "I beheld a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues." It is plain, therefore, as I said, that in the case of the other saints he introduces an unspeakable multitude, while in the case of those who are in a state of virginity he mentions only a very small number, so as to make a strong contrast with those who make up the innumerable number.
Back to the original question (welcome hereticult!):
1. I would expect little reliable history, and definitely not accurate figures, from Luke / Acts.
2. Such expressions are obviously hyperbolic in nature, whence the "free" translations even without any doctrinal agenda (e.g. NRSV, "how many thousands of believers").