Friday, October 15, 2004

Thoughts on the New testament

Copy of Rembrandt's The Apostle Paul In Prison, 1627

Christianity requires persecution, or at least a minority status. At least New Testament Christianity. It is not compatible with being the majority, or the establishment, or the status quo. Paul had a “theology” of suffering and humbleness. A 'theology' of “the cross” was, as far he was concerned, what he preached (as he said in Romans, "I preach 'Christ crucified'").

The only reason the New Testament is dated later than 70 CE is because of the prophesies of Jesus regarding the destruction of the Temple. Nevertheless, even the very famous (and very liberal) scholars, such as John Dominic Crossan, suggest that Mark could be dated earlier than, or very shortly after, 70 CE.

Dating the gospels after 70 CE helps to understand them as apologetic works, that are trying to defend the young Jesus movement against the Jewish authorities, and helps to understand how they discuss the destruction of the temple (in terms of prophetic words) as a way to do this. Matthew blames the destruction of the temple on the Jewish leaders, which the Pharisees are connected to. It also explains why, in the gospels, the Pharisees are the main opponents and are made to look so bad (uncharacteristically legalistic) and oppose everything Jesus stood for -- because apart from the Jesus movement (Nazarites) the Pharisee sect was the only sect known to have survived the destruction of the temple and they represented the Jewish authority after 70 CE. So they would have been the main opponents to the Jesus movement. If the gospels date from after 70 CE, then the writers are incredibly confrontational and radical. Why did they have to be so fervently anti-authority in order to defend the Jesus movement?


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