The Rich Carriage of Space Jesus?

Richard Stanley

Well-Known Member
To be released next month is Richard Carrier's new book, Jesus From Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ. Obviously, Richard Carrier will have to discuss Space Jesus's rich carriage, i.e. the divine golden space ship. Right?

No, it seems not. He's telling us that the OG Christians, via their Jewish heritage, did not believe their Dude went all the way. Down to Earth that is. Does this mean he was hung on a heavenly cross then? I wonder if the Jesuit astronomers on Mt. Graham are going to read this book, because Carrier explains what all those aliens (see the preface text below) are doing running around in the intermediate heavens.

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The earliest Christians believed Jesus was an ancient celestial being who put on a bodysuit of flesh, died at the hands of dark forces, and then rose from the dead and ascended back into the heavens. But the writing we have today from that first generation of Christians never says where they thought he landed, where he lived, or where he died. The idea that Jesus toured Galilee and visited Jerusalem arose only a lifetime later, in unsourced legends written in a foreign land and language. Many sources repeat those legends, but none corroborate them. Why? What exactly was the original belief about Jesus, and how did this belief change over time? In Jesus from Outer Space, noted philosopher and historian Richard Carrier summarizes for a popular audience the scholarly research on these and related questions, revealing in turn how modern attempts to conceal, misrepresent, or avoid the actual evidence calls into question the entire field of Jesus studies--and present-day beliefs about how Christianity began.
Excerpted from his preface:

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Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
What's missing from Carrier's argument, is that our notions of "outer space" today go far beyond what was imagined in the first century. As far as we know, they had no idea that other planets or stars were spherical bodies similar to earth, with surfaces that could conceivably host alien civilizations. There was no concept of traveling on a spaceship from one world to another. Carrier says that the ancients "imagined creatures of various kinds lived in every level", but the idea of "levels" seems far less concrete than our idea of planetary bodies.

So I must agree with Carrier when he says that "heaven" is a bad translation of the ancient text. But it seems to me that "outer space" is just as wrong-headed and anachronistic. Perhaps we could speak of Jesus as a visitor from the firmament.

Also, Carrier's argument revolves around his definition that the early Christian Church basically consists of Paul's followers. Thus he ignores the possibility that there was a sect of Jewish followers of "the Way", who believed that the Messiah had come as Judah the Galilean, or James the Just. Izates and Herod Agrippa also undoubtedly had their followers.
 

Seeker

Well-Known Member
There was no concept of traveling on a spaceship from one world to another. Carrier says that the ancients "imagined creatures of various kinds lived in every level"
What about "Elisha" seeing "Elijah" taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, the "flying machine" vision of "Ezekiel", "Peter" seeing a big "tablecloth" of unclean animals being lowered to him from heaven, what "John" saw coming down to earth in "Revelation", etc., were they then all on a bad trip, or is all of this just meant to be symbolic?
 

Sgt Pepper

Active Member
Jason Jorjani somewhat touches on Richard's ideas of Space Jesus, Atlanteans, etc. He also says that, out of the Abrahamic religions, Catholicism will have the most endurance because of its level of adaptation. Keep in mind there are some wild claims.
 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
What about "Elisha" seeing "Elijah" taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, the "flying machine" vision of "Ezekiel", "Peter" seeing a big "tablecloth" of unclean animals being lowered to him from heaven, what "John" saw coming down to earth in "Revelation", etc., were they then all on a bad trip, or is all of this just meant to be symbolic?
I missed this when Seeker posted it last September. I must concede Seeker's point, that they did have the concept of using a chariot, machine, or flying carpet to move from one level to another.

Jason Jorjani somewhat touches on Richard's ideas of Space Jesus, Atlanteans, etc. He also says that, out of the Abrahamic religions, Catholicism will have the most endurance because of its level of adaptation.
Jorjani's ideas are similar to Richard's ideas in some respects, yet also very different. Richard generally thought that Space Jesus would be a fictional creation, invented by the Catholic Church to revitalize it for a new age. He saw Atlantis as an ancient precursor to Western civilization, and as the source of ancient knowledge about precession and astrological cycles.

Jorjani thinks that the ancient Atlantean civilization achieved space travel and space colonization, and apparently that they continue to prosper to this day, as an extraterrestrial humanoid race. Their endeavors are largely responsible for all the various rumors about UFO's and alien beings. Jorjani predicts that the Chinese will rediscover Atlantean relics on the Moon during their upcoming space exploration ventures, and that (unlike the USA and Russia) they will not cover up their findings. He doesn't see this as a benefit to Catholicism, although he thinks the Catholic church will weather the storm better than its competitors. He expects that the main beneficiary will be for Chinese neo-Confucianism.
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
I just got Carrier's book and might say more later, but wanted to note that Gnosticism had its own cosmology and hierarchy of heavens. My guy Marcion's great heresy was that the great God resided in a higher heaven from where he sent Jesus to correct the errors of Jehovah, who dwelt on a lesser plane. Philo taught the Jesus was an avatar of the great God in the tradition of Metron.
 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
Preparations for the coming of Space Jesus are heating up. Statistics say that UFO sightings are up 51% since the onset of the Covid era. In August of last year, the Pentagon announced the creation of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force to look into analyze and catalog all these UFO reports. And just this week, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says he saw a UFO, although Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks it was just a meteor.

I ... wanted to note that Gnosticism had its own cosmology and hierarchy of heavens.
About Gnosticism, I ran across this website run by the Australian "Mountain Man", arguing that much of the Gnostic apocrypha was really intended to be a satire of the Christian new testament, largely written after Constantine started promoting the New Testament in the Eastern Roman Empire.

http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/Debunking_PreNicaean_Gnostic_Manuscript_production.htm

The New Testament is immediately ridiculed by the Alexandrian Greeks
It is sufficient to understand that the books of the Constantine bible were either totally unknown or little known, and that the Alexandrian Greeks soundly satired them from one street corner theatre to another. Eusebius confirms this fact when he writes:
"the sacred matters of inspired teaching
were exposed to the most shameful ridicule
in the very theaters of the unbelievers.
How Controversies originated at Alexandria through Matters relating to Arius
Eusebius, "Life of Constantine", Ch. LXI
Recalling April Deconick's assessment that "Gnostic texts use parody and satire quite frequently ... making fun of traditional biblical beliefs", the following selection of citations taken from the Gnostic Gospels and Acts will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Monty Python's "Life of Brian". Have we been digging up the heretical jesus jokes of the gnostics?
[...]
In the Gnostic Gospels .....
"To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition" (Woody Allen)
In the Gospel of Peter, Jesus is lead from the tomb by two giant figures whose heads reach to the sky. Jesus's head is described as being higher than the sky; while the cross , not content with immobility and silence, follows along behind Jesus at a walk, and speaks its own talk. It says "Yeah !"
In the Gospel of Philip, "Jesus came to crucify the world", but exactly where did Jesus often kiss Mary? On her forehead? on her cheek? on her lips? The manuscript has been damaged at that precise spot. Jesus could have often kissed Mary anywhere.
In the Gospel of Judas, Judas is presented as one of twelve "daimons". None of the twelve "daimons" can look at Jesus in the eyes. Jesus is presented as a "Head Daimion" or sorceror.
In The Gospel of Mary , Mary is presented in having exclusive knowledge not given to Peter. As a result, Peter is peeved. "Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?"
In the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Child Jesus as a malevolent trickster wizard. Death and destruction follow the child jesus. A child disperses water that Jesus has collected, Jesus then curses him, which causes the child's body to wither into a corpse, found in the Greek text A, and Latin versions. The Greek text B doesn't mention Jesus cursing the boy, and simply says that the child "went on, and after a little he fell and gave up the ghost," Another child dies when Jesus curses him when he apparently accidentally bumps into him When Joseph and Mary's neighbors complain, they are miraculously struck blind by Jesus. Jesus then starts receiving lessons, but arrogantly tries to teach the teacher instead.
In the Infancy Gospel of James, the Child Jesus is born in a cave with its Mithraic overtones.
In The Gospel of Nicodemus, the story is presented as being authored by two zombies who, while wandering around Jerusalem after the mass resurrection following Jesus's resurrection, are apprehended by the authorities, and are given pens and paper. The two resurrected scribes, known as Leucius & Karinus, independently record the Descent and Ascension, Jesus meets Adam. At the end, after finding that the accounts were word for word identical they provide a copy for Pilate, and a copy for the Jews, the two scribes disappear with a flash of light.
 

Seeker

Well-Known Member
Didn't Ralph Ellis think the teachings of "his" Jesus were Gnostic, as compared to the Roman version? I believe this also goes back to the theme of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", "The Da Vinci Code", and other books of that genre, which were quite an industry for a time.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Hello Seeker, the "Mountain Man" site is also claiming that Christianity itself was invented by Constantine the Great in the early 4th century AD, and that his team of scholars working with Eusebius forged all the Christian literature in existence at that time. This, of course, is consistent with his claim that virtually the entirety of the Gnostic literature was also written as a direct reaction to Constantine's synthetic creation, within a very short time afterwards, and also by a single individual "Arius".

It's an undeniable fact that there is precious little, if any, convincing archaeological evidence that Trinitarian Christianity existed before Constantine. But, "absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence". The three canonical, synoptic Gospels form a coherent unit with the Pauline epistles and Josephus, and all of them make sense within a first century context. Apparently, Christianity failed to gain much traction with either Gentiles or Jews during the 2nd century, and clung to a tenuous existence as a curiosity; or perhaps it slowly and steadily gained adherents. But it must not have been an overwhelming success, otherwise there would be more evidence. But I don't think very many scholars will join with "Mountain Man" (or for that matter, John Bartram) in denying that our canonical New Testament has survived as copies of lost 1st or early 2nd century originals.

Similarly, although "Mountain Man" disagrees, I don't see anything wrong with a belief that Gnosticism evolved over time. In some respects, the Pauline epistles seem somewhat Gnostic, or at least more so than the Gospels themselves. The philosopher Philo can also be seen as an early Gnostic.

But when it comes to the late Gnostic apocrypha, I've always been puzzled by the sheer extravagant craziness of it. And I've given it a pass, probably because of a subliminal belief on my part that all religions are equally crazy. But the fact is, these Nag Hammadi gospels seem truly over-the-top insane. And maybe the reason is, it's because they're intended to take the insanity to the next level for satirical purposes? Maybe these Gnostics realized that the Gospels were already satirical take-offs from Josephus, and that's the message they were trying to get across?
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
Jerry, my impression is that Christianity got codified into a state religion under Constantine, but had existed as an organized religion at least since Domitian. Gnosticism had both philosophical and mythological elements. The creation story was whako, but the idea of directly experiencing god through gnosis was compelling and revolutionary. Gnosticism via Marcion introduced the god of love, which explains it's popular appeal. There were quite a few Marcionic churches and Mithra lodges scattered around the Empire, waiting to be incorporated into Catholicism.

I don't like the idea of satirical take offs, since it seems like too much effort for a minimal payoff. Extravagant origin stories were an attraction to the credulous masses, the more flamboyant the better. And I still contend that Josephus may have provided source material, but he could not have been the author of the gospels. They are simply not written in his style. (This is one of the best refutations of the Testimonium.) Clearly, the gospels have been redacted time and again and provide nothing of a historian's respect for sources and alternative views.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Jerry, my impression is that Christianity got codified into a state religion under Constantine, but had existed as an organized religion at least since Domitian.
This is exactly the way I see the situation. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear.

In an amusing coincidence, Richard Carrier himself just recently posted a blog entry on this very topic.

There is a vast (and I mean vast) pre-4th century Christian literature. Though not all the dates given at the Early Christian Writings website are correct, and some of the items listed there as pre-4th might not be, the vast majority indeed are. Take a look. And that’s just a list by author, not work. Collected in print, the Ante-Nicene Fathers series isn’t even complete, yet consumes ten large volumes (its content is currently digitally available at the Catholic lay site New Advent). For Constantine’s government (or Eusebius, Constantine’s actual agent most of these conspiracy theorists peg as their shooter on the grassy knoll) to “fabricate” a preceding three hundred years of Christian history, they had to literally forge all of this voluminous, diverse literature (fabricating over a hundred different authorial styles, reliably matching dozens of peculiar past historical contexts, and generating interminable schizophrenic arguments with itself) and somehow convince millions of people that this vast body of literature had “always existed” before then.
Not that I agree with Carrier about what he said about me! But this article is not bad. There's information I didn't know here, about 3rd century Christian archaeological finds.

I don't like the idea of satirical take offs, since it seems like too much effort for a minimal payoff.
I have to admit it's not that easy of a thing to judge, across a huge gulf of time, and cultural and linguistic unknowns. All I can say is, I'm able to find some of these writings rather amusing, viewed from a satirical perspective.
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
As I've said before, I have some problems with Josephus as the author of the New Testament.
  • Why would he have produced four contradictory versions of the gospel story?
  • Why would the Letters come out before the gospels?
  • Why did he depart from his scholarly approach and write the gospels as dramas?
  • Why didn't he make the authors actual witnesses to the events they describe?
  • Why didn't he make Titus the star if he was being promoted as the Messiah?
My point is that if Josephus was the author, he'd have done a better job of it.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Hello Charles:

Do you have any views about the true authorship of the New Testament, if not Josephus?

As far as I know, Ralph Ellis and Roman Piso (following Abelard Reuchlin) are the only alt-media authors advocating for the view that Josephus was the author of any significant part of the New Testament. For Ellis, the argument is based on the parallels between the lives of Josephus and biblical Paul as described in the letters and Acts. The theory of Reuchlin and Piso is based on "breadcrumbs" which I find difficult to follow.

Ellis claims that Paul / Josephus wrote some or all of the epistles, but not the Gospels. Reuchlin says that Josephus (aka Arius Calpurnius Piso) wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke and the first 15 chapters of Acts, and that the rest of the New Testament was written by other members of the Piso family.

Joseph Atwill has a chapter in Caesar's Messiah stating that Josephus identified the New Testament authors in Book 7 chapter 11 of Wars of the Jews. In this chapter, Catullus is induced to falsely blame Alexander, Bernice and Josephus of fomenting sedition among the Jews. Atwill believes that the 'sedition' is Christianity, and that the 'false' accusation is actually 'true' -- that is, that this group created the religion, and authored the New Testament. He interprets the passage in a broad sense, as inclusive of the entire families of these three characters: the wealthy Alexanders, the Herodians and the Flavians.

As far as I know, other mythicist scholars have avoided reaching any definitive conclusions about the New Testament authors. Acharya S thought it came from Jewish scholars in Alexandria. Richard Carrier generally accepts that 'the apostle Paul' wrote at least some of the Epistles, and that other early Christians wrote the rest of the New Testament.

In Creating Christ, James Valliant and Warren Fahy argue that 'Paul' and all the other New Testament authors must have been close to the Roman imperial court, because the New Testament is so easily identified as Roman propaganda. However, they suggest that both 'Paul' and 'Josephus' may have been fictional characters, perhaps invented by a team of Flavian scholars headed by Epaphroditus.

Charles, have you finished reading Carrier's new book about Celestial Jesus? Does he mention his view that 'gnosticism' didn't really exist as a movement or religion per se, but was really more of a literary category?
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
I'm about half way through Celestial Jesus, so I'll let you know. Knowing Carrier, he will dwell on who are the 'true' gnostics by his definition and belittle anyone who has another view. It appears to me that the term 'gnostic' went through some changes in meaning. At first, it was this highly esoteric world view, but later came to cover any heresy that involved a spiritual Jesus.

I just got through reading Reuchlin and need to decompress. I usually dislike the Piso stuff because of all the name games and numerology, but here I got some idea about the family's political maneuverings. Josephus seems personally involved in the Jewish War so I don't think he was a disguised Roman as Reuchlin says. But he could well have been working for them.

I attribute Paul's Letters to Marcion, who was the first to produce them, though they were heavily redacted by Rome after their takeover. I suspect he was in league with the Piso and the Alexandrians. Piso support could account for his rapid expansion and Pontus was a trading port controlled by Egypt. At one point his following was as large as the Romans'. I would like to dig deeper into a conspiracy between Marcion, the Pisos, and the Alexandrians.

There appears to have been a root gospel, which eventually morphed into Mark, but had more material that was eventually incorporated into Matthew and Luke, as well as a 'gnostic' version. Matthew appears to be an adaptation for liturgical purposes as the chapters line up with the weeks of the liturgical calendar. It was intended for diaspora Jews who were more comfortable with a familiar liturgy and would be interested in the prophecy fulfillment material that was Matthew's chief addition. Luke/Acts was an attempt to fit Jesus and Paul into the historical timeline, drawing heavily on Josephus. This was necessary to dispel the heresies that had Jesus as a purely spiritual entity, as suggested in the Pauline material. John appears to be a later work aimed at the gnostics, while Gnostic Mark appears to be the work of the Alexandrians.

I have only guesses about the origin of ur-Mark. I love the idea that it started as a mystery play, but I'd need more evidence. However, Marcion's New Testament (the first ever) contained a single gospel that is often said to be a version of Luke. Possibly this was really ur-Marc with the Lukian material still included. If you go for name games, Mark = Marcion is tempting. As I've said, I think Paul was Marcion's invention, possibly based on the travels of Apollonius (Paul = Apollonius). The lack of corroboration of Paul's exploits indicates to me he was not real.
 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
James Valliant and Warren Fahy... suggest that both 'Paul' and 'Josephus' may have been fictional characters, perhaps invented by a team of Flavian scholars headed by Epaphroditus.
While they did make this suggestion, on a second reading I think they weren't intending to make a serious proposal. Perhaps they simply wanted to avoid an appearance of dogmatic certainty. They make a case that the texts of Paul, Josephus, and even the Gospels share a great deal in common, in terms of their theological and political outlook, and in their approach to the Old Testament. Noting that Robert Eisenman has argued that Josephus couldn't have written the Gospels, Valliant and Fahy reply:

In response, we can only observe that Josephus had obviously abandoned any strict adherence to Mosaic Law. And more: he could actually take part in the Romans’ torture of many of his own people—by his own account—and could watch thousands upon thousands of his countrymen crucified in the aftermath of the great war between the Romans and the Jews. And finally, we know that Josephus wrote pages and pages of justification for the Roman generals who were responsible for the mass carnage and enslavement of his own people.
Josephus’s works reveal an author who possessed not only the education in history, philosophy, languages and Judaism that was necessary to have written the Gospels, but also the same outlook as the Gospel writers, politically and theologically. He used the same methodology to craft his autobiography that was used to construct Christ’s biography. He even admired and was close friends with figures who appear in the New Testament itself, such as Agrippa II, Epaphroditus, Bernice, and possibly Paul if they shared a berth on that ill-fated sea voyage across the Mediterranean. Perhaps most importantly, he bore the same contempt for that generation of Jews that we find expressed in the Gospels.
And, of course, he worked for masters (as their loyal freedman, he took their name) who were friends of so many figures favorably depicted in the New Testament, some of whom stood with Titus during the Siege of Jerusalem as he fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus Christ.
Valliant, James S.; Fahy, C. W.. Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity . Crossroad Press. Kindle Edition, location 5573.

So perhaps I should include Valliant & Fahy in the list of authors who argue that Josephus should at least be considered a serious candidate for authorship of the Gospels.

I attribute Paul's Letters to Marcion, who was the first to produce them, though they were heavily redacted by Rome after their takeover. I suspect he was in league with the Piso and the Alexandrians. Piso support could account for his rapid expansion and Pontus was a trading port controlled by Egypt. At one point his following was as large as the Romans'. I would like to dig deeper into a conspiracy between Marcion, the Pisos, and the Alexandrians.
Charles, I'm curious if you accept the conventional dating of Marcion, who allegedly joined the Roman church sometime in the 130's AD, and was excommunicated for heresy in 144AD? This presents difficulties for his involvement with the Calpurnius Pisos and Alexandrians, because both of these families are difficult to find in the 2nd century. Neither Tiberius Julius Alexander nor his brother Marcus Julius Alexander left any known descendants. As Reuchlin notes, the orthodox view is that the Calpurnius Piso family was considerably diminished after the failed Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, and their activities are difficult to trace in the 2nd century. Reuchlin argues that they were active in Christianity under pseudonyms.

There's an old essay by Carrier, "The Formation of the New Testament Canon", available at Academia. Carrier says that the First Epistle of Clement of Rome contains many references to Pauline epistles, implying that they must have existed by the time this letter was written, ca. 94 AD. Ignatius and the Didache, both dated ca. 110 AD, also quote passages from the Epistles. But none of this would cause any trouble if these texts have been incorrectly dated.

In "Operation Messiah", authors Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon make a case that Paul's behavior, depicted in the epistles and Acts, emits many clues that the character Paul was acting as a Roman intelligence operative. His apparent goal was to disrupt Messianic Judaism during the years leading into the Jewish War, by promoting a Roman-authorized alternative. This of course would imply that at least some of the Epistles really were written during that period, as Roman wartime propaganda. I'm not sure why Marcion would have included these sorts of overtones in his New Testament.

As I've said, I think Paul was Marcion's invention, possibly based on the travels of Apollonius (Paul = Apollonius).
Apollonius has also been frequently compared to Jesus himself, based on tales of his miracle working and sage wisdom. Wikipedia says that the earliest known source about Apollonius of Tyana dates to the 220's or 230's AD. So if Marcion was writing about Apollonius, he would predate that, making him the earliest source. Is it possible that Apollonius was based on Paul, or Jesus? Time's arrow seems to point in that direction; or just as likely, Jesus and Apollonius were both based on earlier myths.


 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
As I've said, I think Paul was Marcion's invention, possibly based on the travels of Apollonius (Paul = Apollonius). The lack of corroboration of Paul's exploits indicates to me he was not real.
Here's a post by Rene Salm of Mythicist Papers arguing the case for a late date for the Pauline epistles, explaining that Hermann Detering attributes the works to the Marcionites. And here's a link to a long article by Hermann Detering himself, giving some of the basis for this view.

https://depts.drew.edu/jhc/detering.html

My opinion is that the Epistle to the Galatians (in its original form) must be understood .... as a Marcionite polemic pamphlet. ... I am of the opinion that accepting a "Marcionite School" as the cradle of the "Pauline Epistles" is preferable to accepting a Pauline one.
Regarding the quotes of Pauline epistles in Clement and Ignatius, Salm and Detering simply reason that these must also be late forgeries.
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
Marcion released his collection of Paul's Letters in 130, but he claims he had obtained them in a deteriorated condition, by which he meant they had been edited to remove 'gnostic' content to suit a Jewish following. He claimed his redactions were to restore the original meanings. It is unlikely he wrote them himself, since they do not consistently support his mythology. As far as I can tell, there's nothing on how and where he obtained his copies. I suppose Paul's followers could have retained his original copies and they had changed hands over time. Or Marcion may have had completely different source material and changed it to reference Paul.

As to the First Epistle of Clement, Wikipedia says it was probably not written by Clement and that dates ranged to 140, which would be Marcion's time. The earlier dating seem to be based on a vague reference to what might have been the death of Domitian. There is no indication how the author had access to the letters listed.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Hi Charles,

I attribute Paul's Letters to Marcion, who was the first to produce them, though they were heavily redacted by Rome after their takeover.
Marcion released his collection of Paul's Letters in 130, but he claims he had obtained them in a deteriorated condition, by which he meant they had been edited to remove 'gnostic' content to suit a Jewish following. He claimed his redactions were to restore the original meanings. It is unlikely he wrote them himself, since they do not consistently support his mythology.
I'm a little confused. Do these quotes represent a change of opinion from the first to the second, or is there some way to reconcile them?

At any rate, this highlights the problem that we don't actually have copies of any of these Marcionite texts, except as they can be reconstructed from quotes in hostile sources including Tertullian, Epiphanius, St. Ephraim and other ancient church fathers. It seems reasonable to believe that those authors probably quoted Marcion accurately, in representing how his versions of the Pauline epistles differed from other versions available to them. But considering that they were engaged in a vendetta against Marcion, and were politically motivated to advocate for orthodox Roman views, it's also possible they might have deliberately misrepresented Marcion and/or 'orthodox Paul' in ways that could be difficult or impossible to detect. And it's hard to know for sure who was responsible for redactions or edits.

Detering and Price say that Simon Magus is a historical character (or at least, he's mentioned in Josephus as well as the NT and apocrypha) who seems to be parallel to biblical Paul in many respects. But, the historical character 'Josephus' as described in his own works, seems to have some parallels to biblical Paul as well, and it hardly seems reasonable to equate Josephus and Simon Magus. So should biblical 'Paul' be viewed as a composite character, merging aspects of Simon Magus and Josephus?

If biblical 'Paul' is a fictional composite, then who wrote the Epistles? In The Amazing Colossal Apostle, (p. 534), Price concludes: "the Pauline epistles began, most of them, as fragments by Simon (part of Romans), Marcion (the third through sixth chapters of Galatians and the basic draft of Ephesians), and Valentinian Gnostics (Colossians, parts of 1 Corinthians, at least). Some few began as Catholic documents, while nearly all were interpolated by Polycarp... The result is that in the end we stand, almost uncomprehendingly, before a pile of literary scraps."

But again I ask: if 'Paul' is such a mish-mash, then why does such a consistent portrait of a Roman undercover operative emerge from the chaos?
 

Charles Watkins

Active Member
By 'produce' I meant Marcion brought them forth, not that he was the original author. Since they don't entirely fit his dogma it seems as though he somehow came by this collection and set about 'restoring' them for public release. So his would be at least two generations removed from the originals. I don't know much about how his letters were preserved and circulated. Syriacs, maybe. It's pretty obvious these are not the copies that were sent out to Galacia, Corinth, etc. since none of these locales seem to have recorded anything about Paul or the occasion of his visit. If these were localized congregations lacking overall authority, who would have collected and reproduced these documents? If there were a secret stash of the originals would they be in a hurry to bring them out, given the redactions that had already taken place with publication? Recall that Paul and Josephus are possibly both associated with the publisher Epaphroditus who maintained a vast library.

Simon is an interesting fellow and there has been all sorts of speculation about him, so I'd have to do some digging on him. At first blush, he seems more like Jesus than Paul. Then there's this Egyptian guy ...

If Paul was made up, he was made up for a reason and that might be the spy mission you refer to. Even if wasn't Paul, then somebody did these deeds and it seems in character for Saulus. So could it be possible that Saul is real but Paul is not?
 
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