Sounding the praises of his former PhD student, Larry writes: " I’m pleased to note a newly published book by a former PhD student: Derek R. Brown, The God of This Age: Satan in the Churches and Letters of the Apostle Paul (WUNT 2.409; Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015). This is a lightly revised form of Brown’s PhD thesis submitted here in 2011." (See
Is it just another book where the mistakes of past scholars are repeated, as they have been down the years? I guess it will gather dust and be read by few.
Larry, just as Jesus (and John the baptist) were substitutes for Caiaphus, so Paul (and Barabbas) were substitutes for Caiaphus’s son Eleazar. Caiaphus and Eleazar, rebel priests, made an agreement with the king Aristobulus not to cause trouble in Judea – Caiaphus and Eleazar had persecuted the prophets. History was rewritten to have Paul persecuting the Christians. Then Paul was supposedly converted and forgiven by Ananias, but the ‘disciples’ were still afraid of Paul. The reality was that Caiaphus and Eleazar were forgiven by Aristobulus and released from prison (as Barabbas was), but Aristobulus remained afraid of them. The pair travelled around the diaspora synagogues (as supposedly Paul and Luke did) preaching a messianic message to initiate an uprising. They kept away from Jerusalem and Rome (just as Paul and presumably Luke did). Caiaphus and his son Eleazar belonged to the priests who wrote the Scrolls found in the Judean desert.
Failing to convince the Jews they visited (just as Paul failed to convince the Jews of his supposed message), the two came back to Judea and gathered an army, largely of priests, that attacked the fortress of Machaerus. This while Aristobulus had gone to Rome to report the increasing trouble. The attack was not a surprise to Aristobulus’s general in Machaerus. The rebels were beaten back and Caiaphus and Eleazar were imprisoned. Caiaphus was beheaded.
Larry thinks I am off the wall. He wrote in an email:
Really, with great reluctance, I have to say that your latest comment (and pretty much all preceding ones too) is sooo off the wall, and so entirely off the subject, that it's breathtaking. So, as so often, I won't bother posting it. I guess you must enjoy your own private world, but it's not the universe that scholars in the realia of ancient history, early Christianity, Roman history, etc., live in.
No need to try to "reason" with me, Geoff. I'm beyond hope I guess from your standpoint (wherever you derive it from).
L. W. Hurtado (Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology)
School of Divinity (New College)
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, EH1 2LX
Office Phone: (0044) (0)131 650 8920
The normality of 'Christianity' in the Roman world
Larry is promoting his books again. He must suffer from a need to write. He writes: " I’ve just had word that my forthcoming book, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor University Press, Sept 2016) is available for pre-order." (See https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/forthcoming-book/)
But, Larry I've got news you. Your early Christianity was NOT distinctive in a Roman world. It was created like any other religion accepted by Rome with a god Jesus and a sacrifice which was repeated in the communion of Rome - this is my body and my blood. The original sacrifice-rejecting religion came from the prophets of Judea who had their 'own sacrifices', at the altar of incense where they worshipped God in Spirit. These were the CHRISTIANOS (anointed ones) of the Pompeii grafitii and Acts. They had given up on sacrifice from the time of Judas Maccabeus.
The Retreating Claim of an Early NT Textual Recensionhttps://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/the-retreating-claim-of-an-early-nt-textual-recension/
Larry you wrote: “We know that Roman-era writers typically drew upon other writings loosely, and often deliberately did so. That was a feature of rhetorical and writing practices of that time. But it is not indicative of how copyists treated the task of transmitting texts in manuscripts.”
But Larry you are assuming that the earliest writers were copyists as you defined them, and not editors rewriting the text. There was a stage or stages when the text was being created. Gregory Sterling the Dean of Yale Divinity School wrote (see page 104 of Understanding Josephus edited by Steve Mason) some comments on how ancient historians went about their business. Sterling (taking aim at his foot) says:
1. The practice of rewriting texts and offering the retelling as an authorial composition was common in antiquity. Historians of events situated in the distant past often made a virtue out of necessity by rewriting existing literary sources. (Were the historians fabricating or were they telling downright lies? Did they quote supposed authors who had no sources?)
2. Imitations of a past author’s style or spirit was acceptable: slavish reproductions were open to the charge of plagiarism. (So imitating a past author’s style or spirit was acceptable; really!! And if you could get away with it so were slavish reproductions or plagiarism)
3. Eastern peoples also rewrote texts although not always for the same reasons as their counterparts in the West. (And even westerners were not innocent! Well!! Well!!)
4. These traditions converge in the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus. (This is academic speak for its all there in Josephus. Apparently, Josephus calls his retellings a “translation from the Hebrew”, would you believe).
Such was the approach taken by writers during the first century. Did those very same traditions apply when the New Testament writings were first produced? I happen to think those writings were not produced through “tradition” (an academic get out of jail free term) but were calculated and deliberate.