Martyrdom fact or fiction

by peacefulpete 2 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    It is a glorious work for Thomas the Israelite (Ismaelite) the apostle of the Lord to tell of the works of Jesus after he came out of Egypt unto Nazareth. Hear (understand) therefore all of you beloved brethren, the signs which the Lord Jesus did when he was in the city of Nazareth: as it is said in the first chapter.
    Did the Apostles die martyrs deaths for what they believed to be true?

    Notice what the Latin form of the Infancy Gospel says.

    1 Now when Jesus was five years old there was a great rain upon the earth, and the child Jesus walked about therein. And the rain was very terrible: and he gathered the water together into a pool and commanded with a word that it should become clear: and forthwith it did so.
    2 Again, he took of the clay which came of that pool and made thereof to the number of twelve sparrows. Now it was the Sabbath day when Jesus did this among the children of the Hebrews: and the children of the Hebrews went and said unto Joseph his father: Lo, thy son was playing with us and he took clay and made sparrows which it was not right to do upon the Sabbath, and he hath broken it. And Joseph went to the child Jesus, and said unto him: Wherefore hast thou done this which it was not right to do on the Sabbath? But Jesus spread forth (opened) his hands and commanded the sparrows, saying: Go forth into the height and fly: ye shall not meet death at any man's hands. And they flew and began to cry out and praise almighty God. But when the Jews saw what was done they marvelled and departed, proclaiming the signs which Jesus did."

    Notice what the infant Jesus says to the sparrow: "Ye shall not meet death at any man's hands."

    This seems to be a "prophecy" about the Apostles not having to die at the hands of opposers.

    Therefore the writer of the Infancy Gospel must have had a tradition wherein this "prophecy came true.

    This line was taken out of the Greek versions we now have of the Infancy Gospels. This would indicate that the Greek versions are later as there is a reason to take out the line later, but no reason to put it in. The raeson is the later obsession with martyrdom. As I'll illustrate later.

    None of Justin Martyr's works mention the violent death of any apostles although in the Apologies.

    In fact were Xtians being martyred left and right during the first and early second century like we've heard?

    Origen when debating Celsum said, "For in order to commend others, that by seeing a FEW engaged in a struggle for this religion, they also might be better fitted to despise death, some on special occasions, and these individuals who can be EASILY NUMBERED, have endured death for the sake of Christianity." Contra Celsum book 3 chapt 8

    Earlier i said that there was an obsession with martyrdom that seems to have begun in the mid 2nd century. Below I will list only SOME of the traditional deaths of the Apostles. In each case the traditions differ in place and time of these deaths but I'll just list the means of death as a sample. This asides the issue of the question of historicity of most of these men and is for the purpose of illustrating the rapid developement of legends and great stories of Martyrdom.

    Mattius: stoned,burned to death

    Matthew: many attempts to kill him including the time he was to be burned alive but the fire began a dragon and threatened the King, speared to death, Acc. to Clement he died of old age.

    Andrew:crucified , "bound" to death
    Simon the Zealot:sawn in half,crucified,hacked to death

    James son of Alpheus:stoned beaten, crucified
    Thomas: speared by 4 soldiers, killed by Brahmins with stones and darts

    John son of Zebedee,attempts to kill him including his being boiled in oil miraculously failed,acc. to Papias and Origen he was martyred with James his brother, acc. to Eusebius he was martyred later, or died of old age.

    Judas of Thaddaeus: beaten to death,beheaded,stabbed with spear, struck with arrows.

    James the greater:stabbed with sword.

    Philip: crucified upside down, old age.

    Peter: crucified upside down by request, beheaded.

    Bartholomew: many death traditions including skinned alive and beheaded,crucified,speared,whipped to death.

    Nearly all the NT writers including jude, Mark,Paul and Luke have similar often contradictory traditions.

  • Narkissos

    Very interesting. One important case (outside the Twelve) would be Paul, since the end of his life remains mysterious in Acts (in order to provide a chronological setting for the Pastorals?).

    Regardless of historicity, I think the obsession with martyrdom in Judaism goes back to the Maccabean revolt (2nd century BC) at least. The comparison of 1 Maccabees with 2 Maccabees clearly show the theological development of the motif (also apparent in Wisdom, with the elevation of the martyred righteous as "son of God", as I posted in another thread). In the NT it is ubiquous, from the eschatological/mission discourses of the synoptic Gospels to Revelation which pay the greatest homage to martyrs... However, the tradition that all apostles had to match this requirement is probably later (perhaps reflected in the embarrassment about the Beloved Disciple's old age in John 21)...

  • peacefulpete

    Glad someone made sense of that mess. I'll clean it up Monday at work. Sorry for the typos and that first paragraph that I thought I edited out.

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