What to do with an atoning/non atoning Jesus?

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  • As with so much of this Stuff, we really Don't Know™.
  • For years I've believed that Jesus was literate because all Jewish boys were taught to read and write at the synagogue (girls not included). I've believed it for so long I've got no idea of the source of the idea now.

    That didn’t happen until Rabbinic Judaism and the rise of the People of the Book.The Historical Jesus almost certainly would not have been literate. That being said, the scriptures were read out loud everyday and memories were better then, so he could have memorized the passages he liked most with relative ease.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    I see what you mean, @ECraigR , but when did that change occur (approximately)?
  • Very happy to accept this, but is there any evidence either way?
  • It’s usually pegged to the destruction of the Temple. I think most scholars say Rabbinic Judaism begins properly around 150 CE, although I don’t precisely remember. But if the Temple was destroyed in 75 CE, or thereabouts, then 75 years or so for the faith to change directions seems reasonable. Maybe more like 200? Now, when Jewish boys began to be taught to read and write Hebrew, I don’t know. Also, I think the Septuagint reigned supreme for awhile. I don’t know if Jesus would have heard the Septuagint or not, but certainly that’s what the Gospel writers and Apostles were familiar with, and St Paul.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Actually, with regard to C1 Palestine, a statement that
    The Historical Jesus almost certainly would not have been literate
    expresses much more confidence than the limited evidence warrants, as I posted about 9 1/2 hours ago on this very thread.

    AFAICT the evidence that Jesus couldn’t read is based on the hypothesis of a general low level of reading literacy across the ancient world as a whole, but this is contested, and does not consider whether, and to what extent, things might have been different in particular cultures or locations.

    (For example world literacy, including writing ability has been estimated at 12% in 1820, but in England at that time it is estimated to have been over 50%.)
  • Thank you!
  • Here is a good source that suggests that literacy rates were low (5-10%) at the time of Christ, but also that:
    - Reading and writing skills were not equally distributed (as mentioned upthread), and
    - Knowledge of the written tradition may have been better than such literacy rates suggest, as ECraigR has suggested.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Yes. Chris Keith, the author of that article, is one of the people I cited earlier. One of the problems is how we define literacy. Modern definitions tend to include reading and writing, but the number who were ‘reading literate’ was probably greater to an unascertained extent than those who could also write.
  • Some scholars (some of the Jesus Seminar being one example) automatically assume that any time Jesus in the gospels is presented as quoting scripture, that is not historical.

    A very questionable hypothesis. Although I think Jesus could probably read Aramaic and had some ability with regard to biblical Hebrew, he probably knew very little Greek or any other language. And yet it is not entirely impossible to think that a Jesus who might not have been able to read could have absorbed much of his scriptural knowledge just from listening in the synagogue.

    I saw somewhere that it was the synagogue practice to read one line of the Torah at a time and then translate it into Aramaic, and three lines of the Prophets and translate them into Aramaic. Perhaps that was true too of the Writings.
  • I would have thought it less likely he was able to read and write Aramaic - but might have read the Torah. I suppose I’ve assumed it to be like the Koran over the centuries, where people learn their own language by use and then are instructed in the Koran in Classical Arabic - with a lot of rote learning and repetition.
  • If Jesus could read at all it would have been far easier for him to sound out the Aramaic, his Mother Tongue, then the Hebrew, which was not, though Hebrew was closely related. Both languages were written among the Jews using the same alphabet.
  • ...than the Hebrew...

    @ECraigR
    Much that you say is faulty. One example: Paul relied on the Hebrew scriptures (probably often from memory) far more than on the Septuagint, and Jesus surely had no knowledge of it. It was primarily used among Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews) in Egypt and elsewhere. And the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Sorry BroJames, forgot what you noted.

    As for you, James, I was going from memory. 75 is pretty close to 70.

    Paul’s language was heavily influenced by the Septuagint. What I’ve read of Paul suggests that he was more familiar with that than the Hebrew. We also know that Paul knew Greek, although he wasn’t a very good stylist.

    I also didn’t claim that Jesus had any knowledge of the Septuagint. I said I was unsure if he did or not.
  • And having double checked, most of Paul’s quotes of scripture relied on the Septuagint and not the Hebrew. He undoubtedly knew Hebrew and Aramaic since he was a Pharisee, but the Septuagint had more currency among Jews than the Hebrew did, for awhile. Note that Philo utilized the Septuagint and not the Hebrew. Kugel discusses this in How to Read the Bible.
  • @ECraigR
    My apologies to you. You are right about Paul using the Septuagint the bulk of the time in his letters, though sometimes he did go with something closer to the Hebrew.
    (I recently read an article by Ben Witherington in which I somehow got the impression that he was overthrowing that view of Paul mainly used the Septuagint, but I justent back and checkedand saw that I was wrong. Again, apologies.
  • No problem. It’s always good to double check sources, myself included.
  • @Bishops Finger

    Some commentators suggest that Jesus wrote the words of the Ten Commandments in the dust as a challenge to the woman's accusers that they were not sinless either.
  • Thank you.
  • Why would anybody be writing in Aramaic though ?
  • He would be writing in Hebrew, the language of the OT scriptures. Aramaic was the contemporary dialect.
  • @Doublethink
    I think Aramaic was the lingua franca of that part of the world, at least toward the East from Judaea, Assyria, Mesopotamia, through the Syrian Desert and into northern Arabia.
    Business documents would need to be written in Aramaic as well as other everyday communications.

    (I remember someone once presented one of the great rabbis with an Aramaic translation of one of the scriptures, and he proceeded to wall it up in a wall!)

    Toward the West, the lingua franca had become Greek, due to the influence of Alexander the Great. Hence, a New Testament in Greek.
  • Why would anybody be writing in Aramaic though ?
    Agree. People no more wrote in Aramaic than early British islanders would have written in Anglo-Saxon. When somebody did actually write a book in (proto) English, it was a big deal, because the language for writing books was Latin.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 2019
    Yes, writing in English didn't really take off until the later Middle Ages, receiving a boost shortly before the Reformation, with the introduction of printing.

    I recall English lessons based on The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer, who died in 1400. I can still recite a good deal of the Prologue, in Middle English, though my pronunciation, and accent, may not be entirely correct...

    ...and, sad old git that I am, I once learned to say the Lord's Prayer in late 9thC English - though, doubtless, it would have been in Latin, if said in church during Mass, or the Office(s).

    /Apollo Gees for the tangent/
  • Yes, writing in English didn't really take off until the later Middle Ages, receiving a boost shortly before the Reformation, with the introduction of printing.
    With the notable exception of the time of Alfred the Great, who strongly encouraged writing in, and translation into, Ænglisc (Old English).

  • @NickTamen
    Nobody wrote in Aramaic?
    Then why were six chapters of Daniel written in Aramaic?
    And are you totally unaware that the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic?



  • @mousethief
    That goes for you too.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Yes, writing in English didn't really take off until the later Middle Ages, receiving a boost shortly before the Reformation, with the introduction of printing.
    With the notable exception of the time of Alfred the Great, who strongly encouraged writing in, and translation into, Ænglisc (Old English).

    Yes, of course - I had forgot. The version of the Lord's Prayer I referred to was in the English of Alfred's time.

  • @mousthief
    @Nick Tamen

    Nobody wrote in Aramaic, eh?



  • Where did anyone make such a categorical assertion?

    I thought the purport of certain posts was that Aramaic was not written down very often , rather than that it was not written down at all.

    I'm sure that @Nick Tamen, and @mousethief, will answer for themselves, but that's the impression I received.
  • The point is that day to day, most people wouldn’t have done business in writing. So you’d learn to read if you needed to, so it would be unsurprising if people learnt to read scripture in Hebrew - but didn’t learn to read and write in the language they spoke.
  • True, and I daresay a lot of actual business was done verbally, too.

    Although I can't really see that all this really matters to our faith/practice in 2019!
  • @mousethief @Nick Tamen @Doublethink

    Wickipedia:

    Aramaic was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean during and after the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Achaemenid Empires (722–330 BC) and remained a common language of the region in the first century AD. In spite of the increasing importance of Greek, the use of Aramaic was also expanding, and it would eventually be dominant among Jews both in the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Middle East around 200 AD[6] and would remain so until the Islamic conquests in the seventh century.

    According to Dead Sea Scrolls archaeologist Yigael Yadin, Aramaic was the language of Hebrews until Simon Bar Kokhba's revolt (132 AD to 135 AD). Yadin noticed the shift from Aramaic to Hebrew in the documents he studied, which had been written during the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt. In his book, Bar Kokhba: The rediscovery of the legendary hero of the last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome, Yigael Yadin notes, "It is interesting that the earlier documents are written in Aramaic while the later ones are in Hebrew. Possibly the change was made by a special decree of Bar Kokhba who wanted to restore Hebrew as the official language of the state.
  • None of which confirms, one way or t'other, how much was written down in Aramaic, though clearly some things were.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited September 2019
    I was going to mention something in the discussion about evolution which also seems relevant here.

    I studied biology at university, and as others have mentioned there was a tendancy to talk about species "doing" things as if the direction of their evolution was deliberate. Which is a confusing way to talk.

    We went to a research centre for a field trip, and taped to the wall was a quote. Unfortunately it was a long time ago and I didn't write it down, but in essence it was saying that "fitness" (in terms of the strongest traits surviving) was not something which could be determined in real-time but could usually only be assessed in retrospect from incomplete information. Which seemed/seems like an idea open to a lot of possible problems, interpretation issues and mistakes.

    In fairness, evolution was never a major part of my degrees, but I think the intention of taping this to the wall was to encourage those who did study such things to keep some perspective.

    I'm not a historian by any training at all, but it seems to me that a similar thing is happening here.

    First there is perhaps a hurdle (for at least some) who initially believe that there is nothing to argue about. But once that hurdle has been removed, then it seems like the same kinds of difficulties remain.

    If we accept that the texts contain some (or perhaps none) of the original words come from the protagonists, and have been edited, added to by various people for various reasons, then it becomes impossible to determine what is or isn't original or to say with anything more than a guess about someone's intellect, writing skill or life experience. Because all of those things could have been added by others for reasons we don't know or understand.

    I was reading the other day about Shakespeare. Another topic about which I know almost nothing. But it appears that there is very little that anyone knows for sure about the author of the plays either. Apparently it isn't even clear that the person baptised in Stratford church went to the grammar school (no records) nor exactly what relation there was between that individual and the person writing plays performed in London.

    One can read the plays and make all kinds of deductions about the individual, his life, experience and education. But that raises more questions - why did he sign his name in so many different ways? Where did he learn about foreign places used as the backdrop of the plays? And so on.

    It's a fun exercise, but does it really mean anything? Any more that trying to work backwards from the reality of the lives of slugs eating my lettuces says anything for certain about their evolutionary path?
  • Blahblah wrote: »

    If we accept that the texts contain some (or perhaps none) of the original words come from the protagonists, and have been edited, added to by various people for various reasons, then it becomes impossible to determine what is or isn't original or to say with anything more than a guess about someone's intellect, writing skill or life experience. Because all of those things could have been added by others for reasons we don't know or understand.

    A very valid point, and one which several of us, trying to make sense of a number of similar threads, have made (if not in quite the same words!).
    :smile:

    Thank you.

  • @blah blah
    :smiley: I think this really was a lot of blah blah. I had thought this was something intended for the "Why Christians Always Left Me Cold?" thread, but maybe not. Anyway, I will gladly get back to the far more pertinent and interesting things Rublev and I were discussing earlier, beginning on AUGUST 29, and I think I can find a way to avoid all this kind of distraction.

    but meanwhile:

    @mousethief @Nick Tamen @Doublethink
    The wicki article makes it VERY clear that Aramaic really was the lingua franca of that day, written and spoken.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited September 2019
    Christianity and Christians didn't always leave me cold. It made perfect sense when I was closely involved in it.

    These days I think it is a bunch of impenetrable nonsense. That so many have stuck their own things in the pie over thousands of years that it is impossible to tell whether it was originally meant to be lamb or beef - or in fact was not a recipe for pie at all.

    I'm done trying to make any sense of it.
  • admin mode/
    @blah blah
    :smiley: I think this really was a lot of blah blah. I had thought this was something intended for the "Why Christians Always Left Me Cold?" thread, but maybe not. Anyway, I will gladly get back to the far more pertinent and interesting things Rublev and I were discussing earlier, beginning on AUGUST 29, and I think I can find a way to avoid all this kind of distraction.

    @James Boswell II can you read?

    You've been repeatedly warned about mocking others' screen names and jibes about other posters, not to mention your constant, condescending attitude. You've been advised that you are on final notice, not for a third suspension, but for a ban. That means you don't get to come back and post again. Ever.

    If you've been given this much leeway, it's because we have had a faint glimmer of hope that you might settle down, adjust to the board culture, and contribute sensibly. You are, however, showing absolutely no signs of doing so and our patience has run out. Your cumulative behaviour breaks Commandment 1: don't be a jerk.

    If you feel you've been unfairly treated or want clarification, ask for it in the Styx while you still have the chance to post. Any further backchat here, or anywhere else outside Hell, will result in you being banned (when we get around to it).

    In a nutshell: get your head out of your arse, get in line, or goodbye; your choice.

    /admin mode
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    Christianity and Christians didn't always leave me cold. It made perfect sense when I was closely involved in it.

    These days I think it is a bunch of impenetrable nonsense. That so many have stuck their own things in the pie over thousands of years that it is impossible to tell whether it was originally meant to be lamb or beef - or in fact was not a recipe for pie at all.

    I'm done trying to make any sense of it.

    I'm clinging on over the abyss by my fingernails, despite the truth of what you say, to God being revealed through Jesus.

    Some circle to square I realise.
  • @Blahblah
    Thank you, blahblah. I apologize for any harshness in my words and hope you might still not entirely give up on "trying to make any sense of it."
  • @Martin54
    I'm always amazed at you, Martin, in a good sense. Your theology seems to range from believing the very , very high (divine and certain) all the way down to (I suppose) questioning the very, very low (human and questionable). It is in that sense wondrous.

    By the way, the OP of Why Christians Always Left Me Cold just recently said that he would respond to something I asked him about, and I am looking forward to that.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited September 2019
    @Blahblah
    Thank you, blahblah. I apologize for any harshness in my words and hope you might still not entirely give up on "trying to make any sense of it."

    No offense taken, I choose the screen name as a form of inner ironic joke with myself given that I used to talk a lot about things I now consider garbage. Hence it is no real offense to say that I am or was blah-blahing as that's the point.

    I can't promise to take a lot of time trying to make sense of your written output, given what I already said about it in my last post on this thread.

    It seems to me like an book I once read about geniuses trying to play 8th dimensional chess.

    I can't even begin to understand the motivation of trying to do that.
  • Maybe you can try to explain, James Boswell, why it matters.

    I don't care. Persuade me that I should take any notice of your flights of fancy.
  • LOL, blahblah. You sure do know how to hurt a guy, don't you? (Only kidding.)

    Let me just give you a little warning.

    My "flights of fancy" have caused some atheists, agnostics, and skeptics to decide that there really was a Jesus and that they want to learn more about him. My flights also have even "paradoxically" caused at least one Christian believer's faith to have become deepened, rather than harmed, and caused her to rethink (hold on to your hat) the atonement!
    --yes, even that.

    And that despite the fact that I consider Yeshu of Nazareth to have been a Jew of his time who, along with the Baptizer and the Apostle Paul, was expecting the world to come to an end and the Kingdom of God in all its perfection to come into being on earth in his own generation.

    But in order to better try to "persuade" you that "it matters," I must pm you and tell you about something I'm no longer allowed to mention here. (I assume one can do that in a pm.)
  • I assume pm means private message.

    No. You can say anything you want to say to me in public. Anything you can't say to me in public I will not respond to in private.
  • @Blahblah
    By the way, before I had even seen your last two posts here, I had already posted you and @Martin54 in the Why Christians Always Left Me Cold thread.

    A bit of a different slant there, but not really.
  • Oh Lord have mercy.

    I take a look at what’s happening on the Ship, only to find that while I was at church and then having a nice, leisurely lunch with friends, James Boswell II has “pinged” me four times. Apparently once wasn’t enough, nor did I respond fast enough to suit him.

    And what was the reason for these summonses (for that is exactly what they read like)? The reason was to ask:
    @NickTamen
    Nobody wrote in Aramaic?
    Then why were six chapters of Daniel written in Aramaic?
    And are you totally unaware that the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic?
    James Boswell II, I’m afraid I have no idea why you’re asking me this question, much less why you’re so impatient to hear my answer. I’ve said nothing about Aramaic in this thread. Nothing. I’ve made no statement about the degree to which it was or wasn’t used in writing. I haven’t commented on anything that anyone else has said about Aramaic or written Aramaic in this thread.

    In future, James Boswell II, please resist the urge to alert me that you want a response from me. I continue to read the plethora of errant threads because others have some interesting points to make. But as I said some time ago, I find little point or value in attempting to engage with you or even bothering to read the walls of text you churn out. And to be honest, the posts in which you’ve pinged me only reinforce that conclusion, for reasons best explained elsewhere.

  • @Blahblah
    I only wanted to tell you about something I have written that you might like to read. But I will gladly communicate with you only here on threads. Peace.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Anyone can go to the thread in question, written sometime yesterday, and see if it does not appear that you sided with Bishop's Finger and others in defending the thesis that Aramaic was not widely used in writing in the time of Jesus, a thesis I find indefensible, as seen most clearly in a Wickipedia article I cited. I was not asking for a response from you, only drawing your attention and the attention of others to that imho fact.
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