Who's cooling off? Bible question for the day.

by kwintestal 37 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • LittleToe

    So let me get this right. Because someone (who is preaching a pretty radical doctrine) states that his followers will be persecuted, it follows that any books referencing such a statement much be written after said persecution occurs?
    You'll excuse me if I hold that as tenuous evidence upon which to date a writing.

    Is it not also true that here's a consensus amongst some conservative scholars that places it as being written before the fall of Jerusalem, perhaps even as early as 60AD. Besides that, I know that you are fully aware that the controversy continues as to which gospels are quoting from which. Which consensus is right?

  • Narkissos

    Ross: in historical and literary criticism you rarely find one absolute proof, but networks of evidence with a very strong cumulative force even though every single piece of evidence remains ultimately open to discussion. I personally find Leolaia's summary quite convincing in this respect.

    The concept of consensus is often abused, but in this case I think it is relevant: the vast majority of both critical and conservative (including "Evangelical") scholars would definitely agree on a post-70 date at least for Matthew and Luke (Mark is admittedly more debated). The "early" datations, wherever they come from (Robinson, Thiede, etc.) are isolated (and often desperate IMO) theses.

  • LittleToe

    I have no problem with a post 70AD dating, personally.
    The following method is what I take issue with, though:

    LT wrote: ...it follows that any books referencing such a statement much be written after said persecution occurs?

    I see it used of Daniel, also, in a most categorical sense.

  • Narkissos

    Ross, you said:

    Because someone (who is preaching a pretty radical doctrine) states that his followers will be persecuted, it follows that any books referencing such a statement much be written after said persecution occurs?

    In so doing you are reducing a very complex and detailed network of evidence to a very vague statement: "someone (who is preaching a pretty radical doctrine) states that his followers will be persecuted". Of course this wouldn't prove anything. But this is not the evidence which was offered in the first place (strawman argument?).

    Your Daniel example is a perfect one. Strictly, nobody can prove this is a text written between 167-164 BC. Nobody can prove that a 6th century BC prophet who gave a very poor description of his own time was not given a miraculous insight into the details of three specific years or so, 4 centuries later. Actually, no belief can be disproved (or proved). But to most people networks of evidence usually work, because of the (usually tacit) presupposition that in reality the future is not written anywhere. Of course we can reject this presupposition, but what would be left of any logic? Moreover, do we really wish to live and think in the kind of "reality" this would imply? I don't.

  • Leolaia

    LittleToe.....In the case of Daniel, I would argue that the dating is very secure -- within a few months -- because the seam between complete accuracy and total inaccuracy in "prediction" is clear in the text. And Daniel does not give generalized descriptions of persecution, it is very specific with the details of the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In the case of Matthew, we are dealing more with general apocalyptic motifs in the case of the Little Apocalypse. Yet it is clear from the application of Daniel and other details that reference is being made to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, and that some time has elapsed to distinguish this event from the real end. The description of the persecution is less specific than in Daniel, of course, but the mention twice of persecution in synagogues fits well with the historical circumstance after AD 85, and especially in the distinction that Matthew makes (apart from Mark and Luke), of "their" synagogues when referring to the Pharisees and "your" synagogues when addressing Pharisees. I would like to reinforce Narkissos' point that rarely do we deal with definitive pieces of evidence that alone point to a date but a constellation of circumstantial clues that together point to one date or period being more likely than others.

  • Will Power
    Will Power

    This is an observation from the outside looking in

    During the awakening of a jehovah's witness (used by the watchtower society), the loved ones around start to cool off pretty quickly. This is because their love is conditional to those in the exclusive group. It is what has been indoctrinated which goes along with what they want in the end.

    For the most part, I don't believe it is on purpose, but the threat of facing the reality of following a false prophet who manipulates with guilt and selfserving half truths, in other words - lawlessness in the eyes of god, is too great.

    When you wish for something so bad it is all you live & breathe, like that new bike by an 8 year old, the safe return of a loved one, a "misdiagnosis", a blackjack by a desparate gambler, the next fix by a heroin addict, to see all who have wronged you be destroyed by the god, to be immortal living on earth forever.... sometimes the end justifies the means so a cooling off to keep you on the road to your wish seems small potatoes, eh?

    Now if there is a sentence in a book that is said to be the ultimate law, and it can be used to uphold this dream, the more you use it the better. Similar to the end is soon, house to house, earthquakes, F&DS, etc, etc

    The awakened JW endures to the end, bible trained conscience and self respect in tact. Fair weather friends are just that, and are living testimonials of how a dangerous high control group can appear as an angel of light to lead astray even the chosen with their sheep's clothing, empty promises for the vulnerable and ear tickling tacking.

    Will Power - of the desparate housewife class.

  • Leolaia

    Going back to the issue of Paul being viewed as a "false apostle" by various Jewish Christians, there is good evidence of this in the Pauline correspondence itself. In Galatians, Paul takes pains to establish his apostolic credentials and mentions his approval by James the Just (2:6-9; cf. also 1:19), who was the viewed by Jewish Christians as the foremost authority. He points out that James and Cephas did not object to his teaching (2:10, "the only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor," a fundamental Ebionite concern), and he himself strenuously objects to those who dare to preach "a version of the gospel different from the one we have already preached to you" (1:9), even wishing that the Judaizers insisting on circumcision would castrate themselves (5:12). There is a similar point of view in the "sorrowful letter" of 2 Corinthians 10-13, where Paul replies to the accusation of ambition and indicates that his opposers in Corinth had been comparing him unfavorably compared to their own preachers (10:12-18). It is thought that Paul was probably referring to the factions in Corinth, especially the Jewish-Christian "faction of Cephas" (cf 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:22), one of the Jerusalem "pillars" that Paul had opposed in person (Galatians 2:9, 11). That apostleship was an issue can be seen in Paul's sarcastic description of such opposers as "arch-apostles":

    "I do not think I am in the least inferior to these arch-apostles (huperlian apostolón)....I intend to go on doing what I am doing now, leaving no opportunity for those people who are looking for an opportunity to claim equality with us in what they boast of. These people are false apostles (pseudapostoloi), deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (dikaiosunés), whose end shall be according to their works (erga autón)...I have been talking like a fool, but you forced me to do it. You are the ones who should have been commending me. Though I am nobody, there is not a thing these arch-apostles have that I do not have as well. You have seen done among you all the things that mark the true apostle, unfailingly produced: the signs, the marvels, the miracles" (2 Corinthians 11:5, 12-13; 12:11-12).

    This Paulinist critique presumes that Paul's Jewish-Christian opposers rejected his claims to apostleship, viewing him as their inferior, and his rhetoric likely reflects the same polemic they gave against him (compare, for instance, the Ebionite attack on Paul in one of my earlier posts, comparing apostles who depart from James' teaching to wolves in sheep's clothing and describing them as agents of Satan). The same harsh Ebionite critique is mentioned in patristic sources:

    "Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the Law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practise circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the Law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God" (Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.26.2).
    "In their [the Ebionites'] opinion the observance of the ceremonial Law was altogether necessary, on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life.... [and they] endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the Law. These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the Law, and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews [an expansion of Matthew] and made small account of the rest. The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord's days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.27).

    According to Epiphanius (Panarion 30:16.6-9), the Ebionites even claimed that Paul was actually a Greek who converted to Sadducean Judaism in order to marry the daughter of the High Priest in Jerusalem, became circumcised, and worked for the Temple police where he took part in the execution of Stephen. But then, when he was spurned by his love interest, "he flew into a rage and wrote against circumcision and against the Sabbath and the Law". This is of dubious historical value (cf. Philippians 3:5) and has obvious anti-Pauline polemic, but it is also possible that Paul himself was not altogether honest about his history, and Acts certainly makes questionable claims about Paul's background (especially about having studied with Rabbi Gamaliel and being a Roman citizen, which does not square with 2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

  • Narkissos

    This reminds me of Eisenman's provocative views (e.g. his article "Paul as Herodian" on http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/eisenman.html, but also his book on James), which I am far from endorsing globally but did help me question again the whole Pauline issue. I do think that Paul's marginal position and "identification challenges" in the outskirts of both Judaism and Roman establishment explain a lot about his very original teachings (especially justification of Jews and Gentiles by faith alone). The Benjaminite connection to Israel which Paul (Saul!) claims (Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5) would be the very connection the Idumean family of Herod (to which Paul may be related, Romans 16:11; cf. Acts 13:1) could have claimed: the Roman Idumea roughly corresponds to the traditional Benjaminite territory.

    In 1 Corinthians 1:12 Paul appears as antagonist not only to Cephas and his "party", but also (according to one interpretation of this text) to the "party of Christ". Whatever the case, elsewhere Paul clearly struggles with the "fleshly" connections the Judean party (under James, "the brother of the Lord") claims to Jesus. In addition to the "sorrowful letter" (2 Corinthians 10-13), one could mention:

    Galatians 2:6: "And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders [in Jerusalem] (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)--those leaders contributed nothing to me."
    2 Corinthians 5:16: "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way."
    Anyway, unlearning the official "Acts of the Apostles" is the first step to start understanding something about Christian origins.
  • LittleToe

    Didier / Leo:
    Please don't mistake my interjection as any kind of an attack on your points. My sole purpose in bringing it up is the dogmatic manner in which such "dates" are touted (hence I gave you a perfect "out" with Daniel, as that very much looks like a 2nd Century BC composition, and the very one that got me interested in this subject three years ago, when JanH bombarded me with it).

    If I were to put forth my own ideas of theology, etc., in dogmatic terms, I'd soon be taken to task. I just feel that a similar standard should be observed for a subject that's equally as fallible. Occam's Razor does not always reveal the correct answer...

    I'm enjoying your perspectives on Paul's antagonists. It fleshes out an incredibly interesting subject, to whit, the early church dynamic. Like many here I'm awed by your depth of knowledge, just not awed enough not to pull you up by the bootstraps, once in a while

    WP:Nice anecdotal testimony to the effects of leaving a cult

  • Leolaia

    Interesting that you mention Eisenmen because I was thumbing through his book on James in a bookstore last night, which got me thinking more about 2 Corinthians. One thing I like about Eisenmen (aside from -- or in spite of, depending on your point of view -- his rather radical thesis) is that he gives the Pseudo-Clementines their due weight, for until recently this work lay ignored in the "spurious" bin, being overshadowed by the orthodox authority of Acts of the Apostles. F. Lapham in his fascinating book on the Apostle Peter, makes the great point that "canonical" pseudepigraphal writings attributed to Peter (1, 2 Peter), and works about him (cf. Acts of the Apostles) should be treated on the same level as non-canonical pseudepigraphal writings (cf. Apocalypse of Peter, Epistula Petri) and works about him (cf. Acts of Peter, the Pseudo-Clementines), and in my mind I think it is impossible to read Acts of the Apostles for information about Peter without comparing it with the Pseudo-Clementines and the Acts of Peter which are probably as "inaccurate" historically, each polemical and biased in their own way but together revealing a more complete portrait of the early apostles. However, considering that the Pseudo-Clementines circulated in the same Ebionite communities that Peter allegedly evangelized (as opposed to the Pauline Acts of the Apostles), I do suspect that the Pseudo-Clementines come closer to the "historical Peter" (especially in the Itinerary and the Kerygmata Petrou) than what is found in the whitewashed Acts.

    Will Power...You've explained very well what so many experience among the Witnesses. I was thinking about just what you're talking about when I read the current thread on depression. The Watchtower invites emotionally-disturbed people on the outside to join the flock because Witnesses have a "perfect bond of love," and love is held to be the panacea of depression, and for those inside the congregation suffering with mood disorders, the official advice is to help these "weak" ones by showing them love. Yet....the same situation, viewed from a purely "theocratic" point of view, means that these same ones fail to worship God adequately (because "sacred service" is defined as going door to door and attending meetings), love Jehovah less than themselves, and they are relentlessly pressured despite their problems to get in their ten hours a month, as well as facing the petty superiority complexes of "spiritually strong" Witnesses who want to get ahead and the eventual judgment of disfellowshiping, which turns nice fair-weather friends into cold strangers. And those who "wake up" to the truth about the Witnesses, the organization-protective paranoia about apostates turns friends into bitterly cold enemies -- at the flick of a switch. It's a religion where the organization matters more than the people in it.

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