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Religion & Theology (& should we respect beliefs)


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Part of me - the one with the historical knowledge - wants to respond to the title of the thread by saying we should respect Christianity with the same reverence, care and humanistic attitude that it has displayed to the likes of:-

 

Arian Christians;

Manichaeans;

Bogomils;

Cathars and the contemporary (although Christian) Parisian "heretics"

Muslims. The first Crusades were started by the Western "Christian" countries, on the flimsy pretense of persecution of their number by the Muslim rulers of the Holy Land - nothing could have been further from the truth. Christians were respected and tolerated, the single edict being that the spire of the tallest church could not be taller or "closer to God" than the tallest minaret in Jerusalem. To the Christian kings, this was the "persecution" they needed to ignite a series of wars that killed hundreds of thousands, if not

more. All for hubris... or greed. The subsequent Crusades were simply more greed-fueled grabs for land, power and revenge, in whatever order you wish to put them;

Jews throughout the ages, blamed for everything from eclipses to the Black Death, they could own no land and hold no social status, for centuries, right throughout the Christian world. Need a scapegoat? The Jews. Need a cash infusion? Arrest them, execute them and take their goods and monies. Need a loan? No Jew could refuse a nobleman a loan, and for long enough they were the only ones allowed to lend money, as it was seen as an unChristian and unclean profession;

Midwives, and those wise women with any basic medical or herbal knowledge, gleaned and passed down for centuries, rather than the "quacks" or thoroughly inept and often lethal medieval male practitioners of medicine. When it came to the Church being faced with such a tradition of knowledge and learning that had no respect for their insistence that women were lesser to men, and superstitions and "pagan" or old beliefs got thrown in, the result was at least tens of thousands of innocent women tortured and murdered in

truly terrible ways in the name of Christ;

Even their own were not immune. The Templars, anyone? Just one example of the Church turning, for purely political and - more importantly - financial reasons, on a group of individuals. In this case, the lands, holdings and monies of the wealthiest order in Christendom, the founders of Western banking systems, were "seized" by the Pope and his primary sponsor, the French King. Convenient. And terribly Christian...

The Protestant movement? Again, in its infancy, they were persecuted, tortured, executed....

 

Anyways, my point is that throughout recorded history there is a massive wealth of evidence of intolerance and persecution by the Christian Church, of those who disagreed with them. They are, as I said before, the greatest mass murderers in recorded human history. Bar none.

 

And now they expect tolerance?...

 

Well, yes. Because these are more enlightened times and we have supposedly advanced and bettered ourselves from the ignorant browbeaten frothing mouthed mobs they'd point and loose upon their victins. Haven't we?

 

I am in complete agreement with Koyanisqaatsi's excellent post. Even if they cannot back it up as being more worthy of being tolerated than the idea that throwing salt over your shoulder wards off bad luck, I have no issues, and will respect them and their beliefs if they can only do likewise.

 

But there are a considerable number of deeply devout Christians who DO carry out selfless acts, so as to benefit others even over themselves, all the time. THEY will always deserve and receive my respect and admiration, as would any such act or individual regardless of the creed behind it. But the "Sunday Christian"? Those seen on "Songs of Praise" enunciating and mugging for the cameras, in their Sunday finery, to show their neighbors how "devout" they are, then spend their week being just as venal, petty and small-minded as the rest of us, yet think their belief in "the truth" and the title of "born again Christian" will grant them free pass into eternal paradise? Forget it. It's as ridiculous as the whole "blow yourself up for Allah and you'll get virgins in paradise on tap for eternity" bit.

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I have to say - and it's not directly related to religion & theology - but it is sort of a...cousin is, something that REALLY gets on my wick is this garbage industry spawned in this "New Age" to

I am in complete agreement with Koyanisqaatsi's excellent post. Even if they cannot back it up as being more worthy of being tolerated than the idea that throwing salt over your shoulder wards off bad luck, I have no issues, and will respect them and their beliefs if they can only do likewise.

 

But there are a considerable number of deeply devout Christians who DO carry out selfless acts, so as to benefit others even over themselves, all the time. THEY will always deserve and receive my respect and admiration, as would any such act or individual regardless of the creed behind it. But the "Sunday Christian"? Those seen on "Songs of Praise" enunciating and mugging for the cameras, in their Sunday finery, to show their neighbors how "devout" they are, then spend their week being just as venal, petty and small-minded as the rest of us, yet think their belief in "the truth" and the title of "born again Christian" will grant them free pass into eternal paradise? Forget it. It's as ridiculous as the whole "blow yourself up for Allah and you'll get virgins in paradise on tap for eternity" bit.

 

Could not agree more.

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Religious beliefs - should we respect them?
I don't think so, laugh at them yes, ridicule them yes but ignorance should never be respected.

What I do know after 40+ years of debating "religion" Is that it's a waste of time trying to debate with closed minded evangelicals such as paulb or folk who attend "Gospel" halls,

Having said that, I hope a few of them show up here because it's still fun watching them perform the necessary mental gymnastics needed to cling to their "faith" :)

 

Here here posiedon

Religion

Bunches of stupid little people trying to prove who has the best Imaginary Friend

:lol: Love this!

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There are various statements in this and the preceding thread that perplex me - particularly Scoots's point that his posts are based on historical documentation. For example, the two statements where this is specifically mentioned:

 

"Glad you are enjoying the posts, folks. It's all based on historical and accredited sources, unlike the psychotic ramblings of a self-promoting megalomaniac and a drug-addled old man (Revelations, anyone? Those were some baaaaaaad mushrooms that feller was chomping on a regular basis!!"

 

(I'm not sure whether the 'self-promoting megalomaniac' and the 'drug-addled old man' are the same person here.) At any rate, I'd be interested to know which historical sources show that Revelations was written under the influence of 'shrooms - or, for that matter, that the author was old.

 

"BTW, he wasn't from Nazareth either. It didn't exist at the time of his birth. Again, this can be proven from actual historical documentation of the time, rather than the mistranslation or mispronunciation of Nasorean (or thereabouts) which was another name for the fundamentalist Essene sect of Judaism."

 

Again, I'd be interested to know what historical documentation proves the non-existence of Nazareth. (And I also don't follow, BTW, the reference to Nasorean as another name for Essenes. Where does this come from, and what's the significance of it?)

 

"When Patrick "drive the snakes out of Ireland", it wasn't little wriggly things that hiss, it was the worship of the earth serpent and all that went with it. How'd he do it? With fire and sword, siccing the Romans on any sites of worship, looting, murdering, burning. The usual practices of the day."

 

Where are the historical sources for this? I was under the impression that the stories about Patrick - which involve things like summoning earthquakes and wizard contests, which doesn't make them sound all that reliable - were written two centuries after his death. There is a letter attributed to Patrick, but I don't think it includes any of the stuff you mention.

 

"Then there's the extinction of the Irish Church, which continued teaching pre-Nicean Christianity, against the instruction of Rome. Again, their own priests and monks excommunicated, killed along with any congregation that stood up for them and their churches and writings burned (last bit was very important, they couldn't have folk knowing how much they'd re-written and twisted things)."

 

I've drawn a complete blank trying to find any references to this - either to the event or to the original Irish church being pre-Nicean. Where does it come from?

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DePooperit

Again, I'd be interested to know what historical documentation proves the non-existence of Nazareth.

I don,t dispute the existence of a place called Nazareth, just the time line.

It's easy to find........If you want to.

 

The German scholar Hans Peter Kuhnen has shown that the kokh tomb (of which over twenty exist at Nazareth) first appeared in the Galilee only after c. 50 CE. This critical and much-overlooked fact is carefully noted in my book. It means that all the material found in kokh tombs, including Tombs 70–72 at Nazareth, as well as the Feig tombs (outside the Nazareth basin) dates after the middle of the first century CE. Whenever we encounter Nazareth evidence, we must immediately ask: Was this material found in a kokh tomb? If it was, then all that evidence must have been placed in situ after the time of Christ (perhaps long after). It cannot be used as pre-Jesus evidence. This simple maneuver alone removes 90% of the evidence alleged for the putative town of Nazareth at the turn of the era!

 

When we realize these two facts—(1) that the earliest bow-spouted oil lamps (“Herodianâ€) at Nazareth postdate c. 25 CE (they may be as late as c. 150 CE); and (2) that the kokh (“Herodianâ€) tombs postdate c. 50 CE (they were also used for many subsequent centuries)— then the case for Nazareth at the time of Jesus dissolves before our very eyes. Nazareth certainly came into being after the middle of the first century CE.

My bold.

“Herodian†and the miss dating of Nazareth evidence.

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Okay, this is based on a number of years of reading from many diverse and separate sources, so all references will take some time.

 

On the Essenes/Nasoreans/Nazareans/Nazarenes, this is relatively simple and any one who has read anything of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenic community at Qumran should be aware of this. An accredited Christian source in this instance is Epiphianus of Salamis. In the 4th Century, this Christian bishop (later a saint) wrote in a fair amount of detail on the Essenic sect (they were the 3rd sect of Judaism, after the Pharisees and Sadducees), which consisted of two sub-sects, the Ossaeans and the Nasoreans. also sometimes spelled Nazarean and Nazarene. They viewed the Pharisees and Sadducees as "breakers of the Covenant" and, amongst other things, were not allowed to carry out animal sacrifice, as did the other two pre-dominant Judaic sects. They had a three year period of acceptance, where any novitiate would study and adhere strictly to their laws and teachings, after

which they were accepted into the sect. They practiced daily baptism or immersion, and had to live a life of pacifism and service to, and love for, all humanity. They had to swear an oath of non-violence and were not even supposed to lose their tempers. They also wore predominantly white, once they were fully initiated into the sect.

 

Sound familiar?

 

Give me some time on the other points. I will get back to you.

 

Does that satisfy you on the Essenes/Nasorean point, before I go digging on Nazareth and the rest?

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Re the age of "John the Divine", if you accept this as the apostle, this was allegedly written during his exile in Patmos. This came at the later part of his life, and traditional Christianity places the book around 90 to 95 A.D. Even the scholar, John Robinon, in his excellent work, "Redating the New Testament", places it around 68 A.D. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

 

I have to confess, the "drug-addled" bit was influenced by the hallucinogenic mushrooms, native to the isle of Patmos, and the writings of Thomas Jefferson on the author (he reviled the entire book, omitting it entirely from "The Jefferson Bible").

 

I may just have to recant on that one, although my belief, based in logic, is that the book is not entirely symbolic, and some of the imagery is drug-influenced.

 

The megalomaniac and psychotic I spoke of is Paul, not John of Patmos.

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DePooperit

Again, I'd be interested to know what historical documentation proves the non-existence of Nazareth.

I don,t dispute the existence of a place called Nazareth, just the time line.

It's easy to find........If you want to.

 

The German scholar Hans Peter Kuhnen has shown that the kokh tomb (of which over twenty exist at Nazareth) first appeared in the Galilee only after c. 50 CE. This critical and much-overlooked fact is carefully noted in my book. It means that all the material found in kokh tombs, including Tombs 70–72 at Nazareth, as well as the Feig tombs (outside the Nazareth basin) dates after the middle of the first century CE. Whenever we encounter Nazareth evidence, we must immediately ask: Was this material found in a kokh tomb? If it was, then all that evidence must have been placed in situ after the time of Christ (perhaps long after). It cannot be used as pre-Jesus evidence. This simple maneuver alone removes 90% of the evidence alleged for the putative town of Nazareth at the turn of the era!

 

When we realize these two facts—(1) that the earliest bow-spouted oil lamps (“Herodianâ€) at Nazareth postdate c. 25 CE (they may be as late as c. 150 CE); and (2) that the kokh (“Herodianâ€) tombs postdate c. 50 CE (they were also used for many subsequent centuries)— then the case for Nazareth at the time of Jesus dissolves before our very eyes. Nazareth certainly came into being after the middle of the first century CE.

My bold.

“Herodian†and the miss dating of Nazareth evidence.

 

Hmm. I'm not sure that one controversial book, published by the Atheist's Press in the last few years, and apparently written by someone who doesn't appear even to be an archaeologist let alone having actually worked on the site; and which furthermore bases its entire argument on lack of specific evidence for the site being inhabited at that date (ie, an argument from silence) justifies the statement that Nazareth didn't exist. At most, it's an interesting line of inquiry which will be worth following. This guy (who appears to be a sceptic) is certainly sceptical about it:

 

http://skippytheskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/03/who-hell-is-rene-salm.html

 

Archeology and talk about the dating of tombs is pretty useless to the layman unless it's explained by someone who knows what they're talking about, and techie stuff is easily written up to convince the uninitiated. I wouldn't be falling over myself to base arguments on a technical field which I don't understand, and where I have to rely on a single controversial book written recently by someone who isn't an expert in the field.

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Okay, this is based on a number of years of reading from many diverse and separate sources, so all references will take some time.

 

On the Essenes/Nasoreans/Nazareans/Nazarenes, this is relatively simple and any one who has read anything of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenic community at Qumran should be aware of this. An accredited Christian source in this instance is Epiphianus of Salamis. In the 4th Century, this Christian bishop (later a saint) wrote in a fair amount of detail on the Essenic sect (they were the 3rd sect of Judaism, after the Pharisees and Sadducees), which consisted of two sub-sects, the Ossaeans and the Nasoreans. also sometimes spelled Nazarean and Nazarene. They viewed the Pharisees and Sadducees as "breakers of the Covenant" and, amongst other things, were not allowed to carry out animal sacrifice, as did the other two pre-dominant Judaic sects. They had a three year period of acceptance, where any novitiate would study and adhere strictly to their laws and teachings, after

which they were accepted into the sect. They practiced daily baptism or immersion, and had to live a life of pacifism and service to, and love for, all humanity. They had to swear an oath of non-violence and were not even supposed to lose their tempers. They also wore predominantly white, once they were fully initiated into the sect.

 

Sound familiar?

 

Give me some time on the other points. I will get back to you.

 

Does that satisfy you on the Essenes/Nasorean point, before I go digging on Nazareth and the rest?

 

I'm familiar both with the Essenes (who are usually held to have written the Dead Sea Scrolls, although I don't think their name actually occurs in those) and with the term Nazarene and its variants, which were used first of the early Christians before they were actually called 'Christians', and subsequently of at least one, and perhaps more than one, Christian sect.

 

However, the identification of Nazarene and its variants with the Essenes is still problematic, as far as I can see. Epiphanius may be a Christian source, but I don't know who accredited him! His descriptions of the various sects come from a polemic against them, which is hardly the most reliable source, and sometimes he even admits that he isn't quite sure which is which. Moreover, he lived around 400 AD, I think, which means that any evidence he might offer isn't of much value in trying to determine why Jesus might have been called 'Nazarene' if the connection wasn't with Nazareth, as anything he says might be anachronistic.

 

There seems to be considerable confusion about the term Nazarene and its variants (if, indeed, they are variants and not different words - that's part of the confusion) among early writers. This scholarly treatment - if the link works - gives some idea of just how convoluted the question is.

 

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vh84AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=epiphanius+essenes&source=bl&ots=4JSoXKAxMM&sig=eUgoXvoVCI9GdV0mvcqukYN0-Tk&hl=en&ei=XLNnTuGJM5O78gOogpncCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=epiphanius%20essenes&f=false

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I'd be interested to know which historical sources show that Revelations was written under the influence of 'shrooms

This idea is generally associated with Shaw who famously referred to the book as:

a curious record of the visions of a drug addict

That was obviously relatively recent, and purely an opinion, but it is an interesting contribution.

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Re the age of "John the Divine", if you accept this as the apostle, this was allegedly written during his exile in Patmos. This came at the later part of his life, and traditional Christianity places the book around 90 to 95 A.D. Even the scholar, John Robinon, in his excellent work, "Redating the New Testament", places it around 68 A.D. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

 

I have to confess, the "drug-addled" bit was influenced by the hallucinogenic mushrooms, native to the isle of Patmos, and the writings of Thomas Jefferson on the author (he reviled the entire book, omitting it entirely from "The Jefferson Bible").

 

I may just have to recant on that one, although my belief, based in logic, is that the book is not entirely symbolic, and some of the imagery is drug-influenced.

 

The megalomaniac and psychotic I spoke of is Paul, not John of Patmos.

 

Well, to begin with, there's no reason I know to suppose that Revelations was written by John the Apostle. It certainly wasn't written by the same guy who wrote the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John - the style of Greek is completely different, not to mention the style of thought! Of course there's no reason to suppose that these were written by John the Apostle either, and Revelation does claim to be be written by someone called John where these don't - but there were lots of Johns! If it wasn't written by John the Apostle - ie, the disciple of Jesus - then there's no reason to suppose that the author was old.

 

As far as the 'shrooms are concerned, while it's no doubt possible, I don't see any reason to suppose that it's likely. The author describes himself as 'in the spirit' which would suggest some sort of religious ecstasy or such. But the amount of detail and numerical stuff in the book would suggest that that may be more a literary device than anything. I've never done either 'shrooms or ecstasy (no, not the pill kind either!) but I find it difficult to imagine remembering all that long enough to write it down - especially not in block capitals without word breaks using a feather on the back of a sheepskin.

 

You could surmise that there was an original vision and it was padded out afterwards, of course. But I don't think even that is necessary. Revelations belongs to a particular literary type known as Apocalyptic and it follows the conventions of that type. While the only two surviving examples I can think of are part of the book of Daniel and - I think - 2 Esdras (Apocrypha) there were probably others floating around at the time.

 

As far as the prevalance of 'shrooms in Patmos is concerned, I can only find this stated in connection with Revelation. Some websites even claim that they were growing around the cave that the book was written in ... hmm ...

 

As for Saul aka Paul, I might get round to him later.

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On Nazareth...

 

The Encyclopaedia Biblica, a work written by theologians, and perhaps the greatest biblical reference work in the English language, says: "We cannot venture to assert positively that there was a city of Nazareth in Jesus' time." 

 

Nazareth is not mentioned in any historical records or biblical texts of the time and receives no mention by any contemporary historian. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the Talmud (the Jewish law code), nor in the Apocrypha and it does not appear in any early rabbinic literature.

 

Nazareth was not included in the list of settlements of the tribes of Zebulon (Joshua 19:10-16) which mentions twelve towns and six villages, and

Nazareth is not included among the 45 cities of Galilee that were mentioned by Josephus (37AD-100AD), a widely traveled historian who never missed

anything and who voluminously describes the region. The name is also

missing from the 63 towns of Galilee mentioned in the Talmud. For me, Josephus is particularly significant. In his writings, he documents in great detail Roman military operations in this region, yet never once mentions Nazareth.

 

The first reference to Nazareth is in the New Testament where it can be found 29 different times. It is mentioned only in the Gospel and Acts. These books do refer to Nazareth, but they did not originate at this time, they are later writings. The earlier writings of the New Testament mention Jesus 221 times - but never once mention Nazareth.

 

It's known from archaeological digs in the region that there were settlers in

this area as far back as 700 B.C., however the founding of Nazareth as a "modern" settlement is believed by scholars to have taken place late into the

2nd Century, early into the 3rd.

 

To Saul of Tarsus being mentally ill? Consider his story rationally, with an educated perspective. If I told you this story tomorrow, saying this had happened to me, would you believe me? :shock:

 

I'm by no means alone in that opinion. Hugh Schonfield - an incredibly highly

respected scholar and humanitarian, who classed himself as a "Nazarene" Jew wrote that the prime moving force behind the distortion of the message of Jesus, the Jewish "messiah" was Saul, who he describes as being mentally ill, portraying and believing HIMSELF to be the messiah.

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DePooperit,

 

There is a school of thought that Revelations must have been written first in Aramaic, which became distorted in the translation into Greek. Upon bring translated into Aramaic, there are all sorts of meanings and symbology, which open up. Or so they say. Not being fluent in either, I can't say.

 

Another school has it that the author uses a form of "pidgin" Greek, which is, in itself, proof that he was comfortable in conversing regularly in the language, rather than the distorted or stilted utterings of a learner or translator, even.

 

The most convincing school for me though is that the book is an Essenic tract, reviling the Church in Rome, who are distorting the message of Jesus and the Essenes, into the power-hungry and violent (both inimitable to the Essenes)

Christianity.

 

The imagery and the mushrooms still suggests to me a hermetic scholar, deeply pious in his observances, partaking of the famed local produce (as some were prone to doing) and having this intense "dream" of the end of days that he believed to be imminent. Interestingly, Paul also appears to have believed that the end of days would come in his lifetime. I guess it was that sort of period of time to live in... :?

 

PS Posiedon, sorry, I'm kind of enjoying myself, as you may have guessed. It's been years since I discussed much of this stuff, and good to do so with someone that knows his/her stuff... Sorreeeeee :oops: :wink:

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