Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

30 March 2007

The Failures of Jesus

Filed under: failure — markandmore @ 21:03

In mediaeval style we can talk of the four failures of Jesus:

  • as the prophecized messiah he was to expel the kittim, the Roman occupiers
  • as Mark makes clear, he failed to explain himself to the disciples
  • he failed, as he had promised, to return in the lifetime of those listening
  • the church established in his name taught a doctrine contrary to his teachings

Desposynoi – Part 1

Filed under: Desposynoi — markandmore @ 20:51

The bloodline of Jesus is referred to as “desposyni” a Latinization of the Greek “desposynoi” from “despos” (=master or lord of the household) and “-yn” (=of or belonging to).   The Greeks had two major words for “lord”: “despos” and “kyrios”, the former with a more negative connotation – from which we get the English word, “despot”.   When Jesus or Yahweh is called “lord” in Greek, the word used is usually “kyrios”, although there are exceptions: Luke 13:25 of Papyrus 75, 2nd Peter 2:1 (this may be a reference to Yahweh), Jude 1:4 (despos is used to describe Yahweh, and Kyrios to describe Jesus).  The practice of referring to Jesus or Yahweh as “kyrios”, is a translation from the Hebrew “adonai” (=”lord”), which pious Jews are to articulate whenever they encounter YHWH as per the third of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain”.   The name of the Greek god, Adonis, an import from Syria, is also a Semitic word, and also means “lord”.  Although to confound simple linguistic assumptions, his Etruscan counterpart was called Atunis.   For those who prefer to find Roman Emperor-worship in the Jesus cult, we note that “Kyrios” was the Greek title of the emperors, equivalent to the Latin “dominus”.

 If the bloodline had been named from “kyrios”, it would be known as “kyriakos”.    There are two persons with “kyriakos” in their name, both with the forename of Judas.   Judas Kyriakos was, according to Epiphanius, quoted by Eusebius, the last Ebionite Jewish “bishop” of Jerusalem. It was during his term that Jerusalem fell again to the Romans in the Second Jewish War (135 CE.   A second “Judas Kyriakos” in the fourth century worked with Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, to find the “True Cross”.  He was a Jew, said to have taken the name Kyriakos upon his conversion, and was eventually made bishop of Jerusalem.    There are also persons with “desposyni” in their name, e.g. the two Nascien I Desposyni, both aka Naasson (Nahshon); Prince of Septimania; Prefect of Narbonensis,  2nd and 5th century.

 Paul ( ) and Josephus (  ) refer, somewhat enigmatically, to “James, the brother of the lord”.  The gospels of Mark and Matthew (but not the others) expand the list of Jesus’ brothers to James, Simon, Jude and Joses.   Paul discusses James as the leading apostle in Jerusalem, and James is also discussed in the Clementias and in Eusebius’ History of the Church.   Eusebius makes Simon the successor of James, and in turn is succeeded by Judas Justus.   Most writers do not equate Judas Justas with Jude, the brother of the Lord, but Robert Eisenman has made a good case that we should regard them as the same.  Which leaves Joses as the only brother who does not get a term as “bishop of Jerusalem”.

 Of course a similar situation pertained in Islam, where Ahl al-Bayt, the family descended from Mohammed, provided the members of the Caliphate.

 Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius, gives us the following anecdote:

 There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

 So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denarii between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labour. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labour, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

 Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.7

 Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

 When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.

 Note that they are asked if they are of “the family of David”, not of Jesus.    The geneologies in Matthew and Luke perport to trace the lineage of Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, back to David. 

666 the mark of Mark

Filed under: Gemetria,Mark,structure — markandmore @ 16:13

There is a slight whiff of sulphur in the idea that Mark – the gospel wherein only the demons know who Jesus is, where we are told that the teachings are in parables otherwise they might be understood, where the only witnesses to the resurrection do not tell anyone, and so we cannot know, the gospel of unreliable narration – that Mark, alone in the Bible, has 666 verses.

There is an interesting structural appropriateness.The first six chapters of Mark have been described as “the little gospel”.These six chapters have 248 verses.Now 247 (apparently in Gemetria one is allowed ±1) is the value of θηριον (therion=beast, as per Revelation 13:11), while 666, the full gospel, is the value of τομεγαθηριον(to mega therion = the great beast).

Is this true?Well, like many other things biblical, it depends on which translation you are using.The classic King James Bible has 678 verses, but of course the KJB has Mark as including 16:9-20, which are not in the best early Greek manuscripts, and scholarly consensus says that these twelve verses should not be included.

678 – 12 = 666, so the answer is yes.

Except!If we look at a modern scholarly translation such as that of The Complete Gospels by Scholars Press, the end of Mark is at 16:8, but the verse-count is still not 666.By the same process of textual criticism that removed 16:9-20, some other verses have also been removed: 9:44 and 9:46 (both identical to 9:48); 11:26; 11:28 – which gives a verse-count of 662.

The 248-666 structure is tempting, and leads one to want it to be true that the original version of Mark (which of course we do not have) had 248 verses in the first six chapters, and 666 verses in total.However, this would require that we retroject the versification back into the first century, when it was certainly not in use.

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