Defining Mythicism: Paul, Jesus, and Understanding the Context

In James’ recent review of Ch. 9 of Earl Doherty’s book, he makes the following claim:

In addition to the passages we have mentioned so many times already which hint at Jesus’ humanity through their mention of his brother, his blood, his death by crucifixion, and his descent from David according to the flesh, consider the following as well:

Romans 9:4-5 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the Israelites. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them the Messiah according to the flesh.

Philippians 2:7-8 he made himself nothing by taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Hebrews 2:14-17 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

No hint? Surely this is more than exaggeration.

I believe James is really stretching here.  But before I argue my reasons, I’d like to stress that I don’t think you can use Paul to prove anything about the historicity of Jesus.  In fact, in my forthcoming paper on the subject, I argue that using Paul as a source of testimony for Jesus’ historicity is doomed to fail.  But I don’t think you can argue Jesus didn’t exist from Paul’s letters either.  There are too many unknowns when it comes to Paul.  How much did Marcion manipulate?  How much did the church fathers alter to refute Marcion?  Did Paul write all of the supposed  ‘authentic letters?’  Did an editor (Marcion? Someone else?) redact several letters into one (like Romans)?  Are we certain that ‘Paul’ is not a name given to the authorship of the letters due to a sort of cultural memory or tradition?  Or to bolster credibility of the letters in the eyes of the communities of Christians?  We know very little, and we have all accepted, as an academic body, certain tradition values to fill in the large gaps of our knowledge.  We hope that these traditions are grounded in reality, but we don’t know.  Perhaps Tertullian is right and Marcion ‘found’ Galatians at a convenient time and manner (i.e., he wrote it himself), or perhaps Tertullian is wrong.  Perhaps it was written to counter Luke.  Or perhaps Luke was written to counter Galatians.  In any event, the point we must stress is that we know less about Paul than we’d like, but we should not confuse our comfortable acceptance of this tradition with hard fact.  This must be remembered as how we understand our position is how we will translate and understand Paul.

It seems James’ point here is anchored on the phrases ‘το κατα σαρκος’ (‘likeness of flesh’; Rom. 9), ‘αδελφοις ομοιωθηναι’ (‘made like [his] brothers’; Heb. 2:17–NOTE: ‘in every way’ is in the Greek, but doesn’t necessarily clarify the way it is translated above.  See comments on this post for further details), and ‘ομοιωματι ανθρωπων’/’σχηματι ευρεθεις ως ανθρωπος’ (‘likeness of man’/’found in the form of a man’; Phil. 2:7).  So my point will rest in how we interpret these phrases.  But let me step back a second and press an issue I think is often missed.  Paul is stressing, quite hard, that Jesus wasn’t human but ‘in the likeness of’ a man or ‘flesh’.  In Heb. for example, the word ‘ὁμοιόω’ is found in many classical sources referring to non-human likenesses, for example, in Euripides’ Helen 33-4:

But Hera, indignant at not defeating the goddesses, made an airy nothing of my marriage with Paris; she gave to the son of king Priam not me, but an image (ὁμοιόω), alive and breathing, that she fashioned out of the sky and made to look like me;

And in Plato’s Phaedrus 261e speaks of how one can manipulate speech in drama (art) to resemble something they are not:

The art of speech is not confined to courts and political gatherings, but apparently, if it is an art at all, it would be one and the same in all kinds of speaking, the art by which a man will be able to produce a resemblance (ὁμοιοῦν) between all things between which it can be produced, and to bring to the light the resemblances produced and disguised (ὁμοιοῦντος) by anyone else.

Indeed, σχημα is quite telling in and of itself.  In Aristophanes Wasps, σχημα is used to mean ‘costume’ (1170), and in Aristotle’s Poetics he uses the word when talking about drama:

For just as by the use both of color and form (σχημασι) people represent many objects, making likenesses of them (1447a, 19).

I think this is symptomatic of the issue here. If James seeks to use these passages to show an ‘apparent reference to a human (fleshly) existence of Jesus’, he cannot accomplish his goal.  Not even Paul himself (or whomever) agrees with him!  Indeed, Paul is stating it quite plainly that Jesus was not human.  Not at all.  In these instances, the use is quite clear: when ‘likeness’ is used they mean, quite specifically, that it isn’t what people believe it to be.  Paul does not mean that Jesus was ‘fleshly’; this is a modern anachronistic interpretation, one that stems from our desires to Euhemerize the context into our rational meaning in the same way Palaephatus Euhemerized the Centaurs into the past by claiming they were the first people to ride horses.  Paul doesn’t mean to suggest that Jesus was a human at all!  He is quite explicit about his meaning, even down to the language, he was not a human but that he was an illusion.

The second we start ignoring this context we start down a slippery slope of rationalizing an allegorical phrase into a historical context, whereby we lose the context completely. What do I mean?  Consider how thisis any different than saying ‘Well the Biblical authors meant that one year was a thousand.’  No, they didn’t, and Paul didn’t mean ‘he was a human on earth’.    Quite specifically, the second we start to interpret Paul’s ‘likeness of human flesh’ as ‘human but interpreted as a likeness’ we are redacting Paul’s words to fit our own modern (academic, even) cultural milieux.  If James wishes to do that, he is, of course, welcome to do so.  But I would ask he present evidence that such interpretations are acceptable in multiple cases (he can start with Euripides).  Otherwise, we must interpret Paul’s words the way he meant them, that is, that to his knowledge the figure of Jesus was an illusion (as the word is used); his humanity was, quite definitively, a fiction.  And this seems to be how the other words (i.e. σχημα) are used as well.

Then James makes leap to suggest that, not only must we interpret the words of Paul counter to how he has written them, but we must demand that ‘in likeness of human flesh’ also means ‘on earth’ without realizing that Paul himself speaks of planes of existence where Jesus was crucified (he speaks, for example, of the ‘Jerusalem above’).  But this requires more time and effort than I’d like to give on this brief discussion, and I’ve already argued it in detail in my forthcoming treatment on the subject, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing those arguments.  The treatment is quite long and I suspect it will speak for itself (esp. on those verses most used, like Gal. 4:4, Rom. 1:3, etc…).

To conclude, however, I will reiterate to the reader that what we know of Paul is nothing beyond tradition.  And how we interpret the text must be based on the recognition that we don’t have Paul’s cultural setting, we don’t know his background (other than that he thinks Pharisees are trash), we don’t know if we even have his true words in every case (or, perhaps, in any case).  We just hope.   There are many references to mystery rites and the language seems to resemble a certain initiation language which has been seen in other literature (including discussions of the Essenes in Josephus), but there is no definitive way to know since we cannot even agree on what is Pauline and what isn’t and I don’t particularly find the arguments for the validity of the tradition convincing (particularly in light of the studies done by Tyson and Pervo which raise the importance of Marcion’s role in the formation of that tradition).  The best argument that can be made is that Paul is inconclusive (at best) on, or (more controversially) does not make reference to, a human figure of Jesus.  And a handful of verses won’t make or break this; the context, overall, is what will make a difference.  And since that context is damaged, or possibly even lost to us, I again ask that James use more caution when making claims like this.  Overstating the evidence will not help your position.  One must always recognize the limitations of the data we have.

20 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this, Tom. I think there are two questions that need to be kept separate. One is whether Paul believed or assumed that Jesus was a historical human being. I think he does, even as he is trying to say that Jesus is more than that. And in my post, I was addressing Doherty’s denial of this, since Doherty claims that Paul thought of Jesus as a purely celestial figure.

    But there is a second question, which is whether Paul’s view on the historicity of Jesus (if we may put it in that anachronistic fashion) demonstrates the historicity of Jesus. And the degree to which one feels it does or does not will depend on a number of considerations related to criteria, evidence and methods.

    But my aim in the post was to address Doherty’s claim that there is no hint in Paul’s letters that Jesus was a historical figure. Do you think that Doherty’s language is apt, hyperbolic or misleading?

  2. […] specifically on mythicism, see Tom Verenna’s response to my latest installment in my review of Earl Doherty’s book. John Loftus has a post that is also relevant: some evidence may seem to support this view or that, […]

  3. James, you and I don’t agree on much here, just in the terminology I think. You and I both agree that Paul believed Jesus was historical. The question is whether or not Paul saw him as an earthly figure or as a heavenly one. I believe the latter to be the case, based on the data we have. I don’t believe that one can argue that Paul believed in a human Jesus since he never calls Jesus a human and I’ve more than aptly demonstrated that in the above post just by looking over his own language. And that is perhaps key, is it not?

    You can stretch his meaning and say ‘Well, he believed Jesus was something more’, and while that might be right, such a statement is not part of his context. His context is quite clear: Jesus was not ‘something more’ than a human–he wasn’t a human. And no better case can be made for strengthening that statement than perhaps Galatians, where Paul says he didn’t receive his knowledge from man, but through revelation from (or by, or through) Jesus (Gal 1.12: ουδε γαρ εγω παρα ανθρωπου παρελαβον αυτο ουτε εδιδαχθην αλλα δι αποκαλυψεως ιησου χριστου). Again, this is all thoroughly discussed in my treatment. I consider it an attempt at a possible retrieval of ‘Paul’s’ message, free of any of the nuances applied to it by generations of historical Jesus scholarship which has made it part of the cutting board in a quest to forever eliminate whatever independence the epistles had from the Gospels. The bottom line is that you cannot state that Paul ‘believed Jesus was something more than a human’ if you start from the conclusion that Paul believed he was a human. You have to first prove Paul believed that he was; and you can’t do that from the verses you provided.

    As for Doherty’s claim, I haven’t read his new book. I don’t intend to (I just have too much else to do), so I don’t want to speculate on what he says or doesn’t say. If he made a claim, such as ‘there is not hint in Paul’s letters that Jesus was a historical figure’ I would disagree, but to the point where Paul believed his Jesus was a part of his past. Even the Argonauts were considered ‘historical’ in antiquity. Indeed, Moses, Abraham, and Adam as well (and are still believed to be historical by many today, unfortunately). But if Doherty made an argument that one cannot locate an earthly figure in Paul’s letters, I would agree. And I have argued as much. And until I am shown evidence otherwise, beyond a misconstruing of his words, I don’t believe I will be convinced. But then again, who knows. Time shall tell.

  4. Tom wrote: “I don’t believe that one can argue that Paul believed in a human Jesus since he never calls Jesus a human and I’ve more than aptly demonstrated that in the above post just by looking over his own language. And that is perhaps key, is it not?”

    BM: In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 87 times, everytime for earthly human man/men and Jesus (4 times). Are you saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (Rom5:15, 1Cor15:21,15:47 & Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as a figure in heaven?
    Can someone, from the seed of David & Abrahams, or descendant of Jesse & Israelites, be not human?
    Of course, since he never saw the earthly Jesus, Paul would claim to get his gospel and revelation from heaven, where JC was believed to be during Paul’s ministry.

  5. BM: In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 87 times, everytime for earthly human man/men and Jesus (4 times). Are you saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (Rom5:15, 1Cor15:21,15:47 & Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as a figure in heaven?

    Yes, not only am I saying that the word takes on another meaning in those four instances, but also in other instances in Paul’s letters as well. It’s called context. Sometimes ανθροπος means ‘human’ and other times it means a different kind of ‘man’ (like when Paul refers to Jesus as Adam, or remarks about mankind being descended from two spiritual ‘women’). In Greek words can take on multiple meanings in the same source, which is why context is important. You would do well to keep that in mind before you decide to ignorantly use a sarcastic tone for your comment.

    Additionally, in those 4 references to Jesus (only four?) why do you think Paul always clarifies with ‘in the likeness of’ when talking about Jesus’ humanity? I think I’ve made my point quite clear above. Please read it again and if you have more questions, I’ll do my best to provide answers.

    BM: Can someone, from the seed of David & Abrahams, or descendant of Jesse & Israelites, be not human?

    Done. You can pick up a copy of my forthcoming volume from Equinox, hopefully in a couple of weeks. I look forward to your treatment refuting mine, assuming you get your paper published in whatever academic journal you can find who will take it.

    Of course, since he never saw the earthly Jesus, Paul would claim to get his gospel and revelation from heaven, where JC was believed to be during Paul’s ministry.

    As opposed to someone who met Jesus and walked with him? He spent three days with the Jerusalem Pillars…why did he not claim to get his knowledge from them? Seems rather silly to claim he got it from Jesus, doesn’t it? Also, you also seem to have completely missed the point. Why would Paul clarify that he didn’t get it from a man? If Jesus was a man, it seems a little redundant. And if Paul believed Jesus to be resurrected in the flesh, it seems even more strange (since Jesus would still be, in a sense, a man). Your argument leaves more questions and contradictions than it does answers. That isn’t always a good thing.

  6. BM: Expressions like “in the LIKENESS of sinful flesh” are used by Paul to take in account the belief that Jesus was pre-existent, and that “in sinful flesh” was not his normal form but something temporary. Paul wanted his followers to see Jesus as mainly a heavenly entity, not only as a human (born from human parents and dying on a cross).

    BM: About Marcion, even if he (as other 2nd cent. Gnostics) rejected Jesus as fully human, he certainly had his JC on earth, for at least one year, maybe in a Docetist body, but looking very human for people around him. Therefore even Marcion described JC as (for a time) earthly & historical.

    Tom wrote:
    “Paul himself speaks of planes of existence where Jesus was crucified (he speaks, for example, of the ‘Jerusalem above’).”
    BM: I do not see where Paul suggested JC was crucified in the Heavenly Jerusalem. But in Ro9:31-33 & Ro15:26-27, Paul alluded the crucifixion happened in Zion, which, at the time, meant the heartland of the Jews. See http://historical-jesus.info/djp1.html#skandalon for details.

  7. Expressions like “in the LIKENESS of sinful flesh” are used by Paul to take in account the belief that Jesus was pre-existent, and that “in sinful flesh” was not his normal form but something temporary. Paul wanted his followers to see Jesus as mainly a heavenly entity, not only as a human (born from human parents and dying on a cross).

    You say ‘not only as a human’ but you don’t bother to prove it. Paul makes it clear that Jesus was not human. He specifically states he was ‘in the likeness’ of a man; not that he was one. You’re stretching here. You don’t like what the text says so you’re attempting to subvert its meaning with your anachronistic one.

    BM: About Marcion, even if he (as other 2nd cent. Gnostics) rejected Jesus as fully human, he certainly had his JC on earth, for at least one year, maybe in a Docetist body, but looking very human for people around him. Therefore even Marcion described JC as (for a time) earthly & historical.

    You’re attacking a strawman. I never said anything about what Marcion believed or didn’t believe. Though I do wonder why you believe Marcion thought his Jesus was an earthly figure just because he places Jesus in an earthly context in his literature? Do you think the author of Job believed Job to be a historical figure? Do you think the author of Tobit believed Tobias to be an earthly figure? I find it strange that your defense of a historical figure of Jesus is that people who wrote about him placed him in a fictional context, fabricated events of his life, and put words into his mouth. And you really think that these individuals cared anything at all about whether or not their figure of Jesus was historical? Strange. I think you might be mistaking the priorities of these authors.

    BM: I do not see where Paul suggested JC was crucified in the Heavenly Jerusalem. But in Ro9:31-33 & Ro15:26-27, Paul alluded the crucifixion happened in Zion, which, at the time, meant the heartland of the Jews.

    Well I suppose you’ll have to wait for my treatment then in order to see where I argue this. Thanks for responding.

  8. Tom wrote: “Additionally, in those 4 references to Jesus (only four?) why do you think Paul always clarifies with ‘in the likeness of’ when talking about Jesus’ humanity?”
    BM: In Rom5:15, 1Cor15:21 & 15:47, there is no ‘in the likeness of’.

    Tom Wrote: “when Paul refers to Jesus as Adam, or remarks about mankind being descended from two spiritual ‘women’).”
    BM: Paul never referred of Jesus as Adam, but as a second Adam (1Cor15:45-47). Of course, it is imagery in order to make a point. And Adam, in these days, was considered to have been historical, fully human and earthy, despite having no human father and mother (they did not exist yet!!!).
    Gal4:22-31 is presented as an allegory by Paul. The two women are Sarah and Agar, not spiritual women but believed earthly, historical human beings. And I do not see how it can be seen mankind is descended from these women.
    I notice that Paul was rather loose about the sonship on his Christians (definitively generated by human parents). He had them also as ‘sons of God’, from the seed of Abraham (by faith but not necessarily by blood), and from the heavenly Jerusalem.

    Tom wrote: “Why would Paul clarify that he didn’t get it from a man?”
    BM: Getting his gospel from allegedly the heavenly Jesus (and God and the Holy Spirit) allowed Paul to expand way beyond what the human Jesus may have said (which I think was not much). Therefore selecting at will his message (and upgrading it if required) in order to make it attractive to Gentiles, and keep his converts (which was not so easy because that Jesus was a Jew crucified by Romans!) was a big advantage for Paul.

  9. Tom wrote: “Additionally, in those 4 references to Jesus (only four?) why do you think Paul always clarifies with ‘in the likeness of’ when talking about Jesus’ humanity?”
    BM: In Rom5:15, 1Cor15:21 & 15:47, there is no ‘in the likeness of’.

    So Adam was historical as well, then, per 1 Cor. 15:21? The instances of ‘man’ here do not reflect ‘human’, in the context. If they did, I would imagine then you’d have to explain Adam. If you acknowledge that this passage is allegorical, than you cannot hold fast with your interpretation that this is placing Jesus in a setting akin to an earthly figure. I explain this all in my treatment. And as I said in the OP, I don’t have the time or the drive to rehash it all here. I suggest that, if you are interesting in discussing this with me, you read my full argument.

    Paul never referred of Jesus as Adam, but as a second Adam (1Cor15:45-47).

    Now you’re just gulling me. I have no patience for nit-pickers; you knew what I meant.

    Of course, it is imagery in order to make a point.

    What methods do you use to distinguish in Paul’s theology between imagery and fact?

    And Adam, in these days, was considered to have been historical, fully human and earthy, despite having no human father and mother (they did not exist yet!!!).

    Yes, and by the time of Paul I have no doubt that people presumed him to have been historical as well. That doesn’t mean Paul did. And I’m not even saying Jesus wasn’t a historical figure, simply that Paul is useless is a source for determining it.

    Gal4:22-31 is presented as an allegory by Paul. The two women are Sarah and Agar, not spiritual women but believed earthly, historical human beings. And I do not see how it can be seen mankind is descended from these women.

    Again, why do you presume that Paul thought these women were historical? Also, I believe you’re fully removing the context from the letter here. I’m quite surprised by the fact that you ignore the rhetorical play Paul is making, I’d have thought everyone would have picked up on it. Certainly other notable scholars have. In any event, I cover the allegory of the two women in my paper. I hope you pick it up when it becomes available.

    I notice that Paul was rather loose about the sonship on his Christians (definitively generated by human parents). He had them also as ‘sons of God’, from the seed of Abraham (by faith but not necessarily by blood), and from the heavenly Jerusalem.

    Yes and no. Once more, I look forward to your review of my paper. Good luck!

  10. Tom wrote: “He spent three days with the Jerusalem Pillars…why did he not claim to get his knowledge from them?”
    BM: I explained that already. According to my study, these pillars were not even Christians, and the Jesus they knew was not much more than a deceased accidental healer parroting John the Baptist message about the Kingdom being at hand. So there is no wonder Paul went way beyond what he may have heard from them, and taking pretext he was connected with the heavenly trio, he fashioned a whole Christology from humble beginning, one step at the time, according to his own leaning (such as middle Platonism) and what was attractive to his audience.

    BM: About ‘Likeness’, if a wealthy banker goes to a halloween party disguised as a begger, would a commentator say “Mr. BigBucks appears as a begger” or “Mr. BigBucks appears in the likeness of a begger”?

    BM: Here is some examples were “likeness” is used for mainly Docetist appearances on earth of gods, but sometimes fully human being believed to have being pre-existent in heaven under a different form:
    a) Homer, ‘The Iliad’, Bk5 “… now Ares [god of war] is with him [Hektor] in the likeness of mortal man.”
    b) Herodotus, ‘Histories’, Bk7, Ch56 “It is said that when Xerxes [the Persian king] had now crossed the Hellespont, a man of the Hellespont cried, “O Zeus, why have you taken the likeness of a Persian man and changed your name to Xerxes, …”
    c) Apollodorus, ‘Library and Epitome’, Bk1, Ch9 “But Poseidon in the likeness of Enipeus lay with her, and she secretly gave birth to twin sons …”
    d) Jewish author Philo of Alexandria, (died 45-50), ‘On dreams’, I, (238) “God at times assumes the likeness of the angels, as he sometimes assumes even that of men”
    e) Philo, ‘Questions and answers on Genesis’, I, (92) “… these giants were sprung from … angels and mortal women; for the substance of angels is spiritual; but it occurs every now and then that on emergencies occurring they have imitated the appearance of men, and transformed themselves so as to assume the human shape; [and then fathered children with mortal women on earth (extrapolated from Ge6:4):] as they did on this occasion, when forming connexions with women for the production of giants.”
    f) Acts14:11-12 NKJV “Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.”
    g) ‘The Ascension of Isaiah’ 4:2-3 (quoted next in 2.5.1.2.) where Beliar (Satan), from the firmament, comes down to earth as Nero (through an earthly mother!) “in the likeness of a man”.

  11. Here is some examples were “likeness” is used for mainly Docetist appearances on earth of gods, but sometimes fully human being believed to have being pre-existent in heaven under a different form:

    You’ve really only proved my point. Thanks.

  12. BM: There is no hint whatsoever in Paul’s letters, that Paul, who proclaimed to be a learned Jew, a Pharisee and in relation with other Jews, did not believe that the like of Adam, Abraham, Sarah & Hagar, Isaac, Isau, Jacob, Moses, Jesse, David did not exist as humans on earth. Certainly, he presented those as historical to his audience.

  13. I’m sorry but that’s quite an ignorant statement. I doubt you’ll find many Pauline scholars who agree. Good luck!

  14. Tom, I think your statement about what is “not in the Greek” is perhaps a good example of the sort of rhetorical ploy I was referring to. Did you really mean that you think kata sarka should be translated some other way? Is your way of putting it not, at the very least, an overstatement? How would you render that phrase in the context of the whole sentence in Hebrews?

  15. I wasn’t being rhetorical James, I was making a factual statement. I apologize if the fact that ‘in every way’ was missing, but I really have no control over the Greek content nor do I have control over which manuscript was chosen in order to produce the translation you were using. I’m checking into it, of course, but perhaps you see κατα σαρκa in Hebrews 2:17 where I do not?

    The longest form of the verse that I’ve seen in Greek is (I’ve emboldened the instance of κατα):

    οθεν ωφειλεν κατα παντα τοις αδελφοις ομοιωθηναι ινα ελεημων γενηται και πιστος αρχιερευς τα προς τον θεον εις το ιλασκεσθαι τας αμαρτιας του λαου

    The shorter variant (Tischendorf 8th Ed.):

    ὅθεν ὀφείλω κατά πᾶς ὁ ἀδελφός ὁμοιόω ἵνα ἐλεήμων γίνομαι καί πιστός ἀρχιερεύς ὁ πρός ὁ θεός εἰς ὁ ἱλάσκομαι ὁ ἁμαρτία ὁ λαός

    And according to the Greek from the Codex Sinaiticus

    οθεν ωφειλεν κατα παντα τοιϲ αδελφοιϲ ομοιωθηναι ϊνα ελεημων γενηται και πιϲτοϲ αρχιερευϲ τα προϲ τον θν ειϲ το ϊλαϲκεϲθαι ταϲ αμαρτιαϲ του λαου ·
    (Whence, it behooved him in all things to be made like his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, that he might make expiation for the sins of the people.)

    I might be missing it, and forgive me if I am, but I do not see κατα σαρκα. But I do quite find the Codex Sinaiticus’ translation to be the most interesting, don’t you? How amazing is the context when things are different. It is quite interesting to see how fluid these texts are, in light of the variations, from manuscript to manuscript. Let’s not include things that aren’t there, James. That is how whole fictional contexts are created; it is bad enough we have to guess at the context as it is, without adding new connotations to the text in our English vernacular.

  16. Wow, I really have been spending too much time reading Earl Doherty, if I try to write kata panta and what comes out subconsciously is kata sarka! :-)

    I did of course intend to ask about kata panta and whether that is not appropriately rendered “in every respect” or “in all things” or in some similar way in this context.

    Sorry for the mythicist slip!

  17. Ah, no trouble James. I make my own share of mistakes. Well in my reading, I tend to find the way it is translated in the KJV to be quite appropriate, and also as it is translated from the Codex Sinaiticus, wherein ‘κατα παντα’, in my humble opinion, is qualifying ‘why’ he became like man, rather than clarifying to what extent he was like the flesh. I believe the sentence is interpretive in that manner.

    ‘Where he was obligated, in accordance with all things, to be made like his brethren…’ and so forth.

  18. James, since it does appear in the text, I will add it in, with the caveat that I’d interpret it differently. The way I read it (and maybe I’m wrong), κατα παντα could be strengthening οφείλω rather than ομοιόω.

  19. […] Defining Mythicism: Paul, Jesus, and Understanding the Context […]

This blog is no longer in use; NO comments will post.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: