Thank you for your kind reply.
So, do you believe that Jesus did exist as a historical person between the timeline of say a 100 b.c. To 50 a.d?
No. I'm agnostic on the issue.
And if not, on whom do you believe were these NT accounts based? Shaul mentions Apollo, so it seems unlikely that he (shaul) could have been Appolonius.
I don't believe the NT accounts were based on any real person, to be honest. The stories of Apollonius might have had some influence, if we grant that he was a real person and that Damis was really a disciple and wrote his books during or shortly after the life of Apollonius.
But that's really too close to call, since Apollonius was a contemporary with the New Testament authors. To me, I think the parallels more demonstrate a common literary formula that was in circulation at the time, as well as recurring mythological/religious motifs. For instance, I've read that the gospel of Mark has a story structure similar to Homer, and I've read that there is influence of Homer in Philostratus's book on Apollonius. (I'm not well read in Homeric literature, so I wouldn't know how true this claim is, I'm just using this example to make my point.)
So that would mean that neither one necessarily had to influence the other, they have simply both been influenced by mutual third party sources.
If the Jesus of the New Testament is "based" on anything, as Acharya said, it seems it is based on the Hellenized Jewish logos written of by Philo.
But the New Testament stories, as well as many non-canonical stories and traditions, show much similarity to, and thus probable influence from, the mythologies of the dying and rising gods of the ancient Mediterranean world. Especially Osiris, and to a lesser extent Serapis, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Mithras.
The Jesus character isn't so much the retelling of just one key figure, it is more the junction point where several crossroads converged after many centuries of syncretism between several different cultures and ideologies.
I do agree that certain things in the New Testament are disputable, but then certain sayings seem again very credible. Shaul does mention in Rom 9:5 that Christ was born according to the flesh out of physical Israel, thus a historical figure. What is your commentary on the above?
Well, given that I am currently in the Marcionite priority camp (i.e, the Marcionites had the original versions of Luke and the Pauline epistles, or at least, a version closer to the original than the Catholic versions, and it was later authors who interpolated material into these books, rather than Irenaeus's claim that Marcion removed material), such passages pose no problem to me, as the Marcionite version of Romans does not contain them.
You can read a partial reconstruction of the Marcionite version of Romans here: http://www.marcionite-scripture.info/Romans_Translation_with_Notes.pdf
And while it has not made it to chapter 9 yet, you can see that other such anti-docetic passages such as 1:3 are not in there.
But even then, Paul's usage of the word flesh is not so cut & dry. Do bear in mind certain passages such as Romans 4:1 in which Paul tells the Romans that Abraham is their father according to the flesh (σάρξ, same word used in 9:5).
Surely not the Gentiles among them, who no doubt composed the majority of their congregation?
The perceived dilemma seems to me to be resolved in the very verses following 9:5-
"For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, 'I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God'."
Add to that 1 Corinthians chapter 15, in which Paul explains "All flesh[σάρξ] is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit
. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual
. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven
. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly
. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly
. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh[σάρξ] and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
So how can Paul say that flesh[σάρξ] and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, if the very Lord of that kingdom is allegedly made of flesh?
Because as Paul wrote in verse 39, not all flesh[σάρξ] is the same flesh. There are different types. So as I said, his usage of this word is not always so cut & dry.
Not all flesh is the same flesh, he says. Humans have one type of flesh, that is natural (i.e., corporeal), and heavenly beings have another type of flesh, which is spiritual (i.e., incorporeal, like the substance that the bodies of angels, demons, and gods are made of).
So when Paul says flesh & blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, in his mind, and in the minds of his readers who understand him, there is no discrepancy there. He is simply referring to natural bodies rather than spiritual bodies, to corporeal substance rather than incorporeal substance.
Hence, even if he had written that Jesus descended from flesh (which I don't think he did as I already explained), I wouldn't see that as a problem. He explained in verses 45-47 that the first Adam was made of earthly substance while the second Adam, i.e. Jesus, was made of heavenly or spiritual substance.
This is perfectly corroborative with Docetism.
And corroborative with this here is the view propounded in texts like the Ascension of Isaiah, in which Jesus descended through each of the seven stages of heaven, and at each stage taking on the appearance of the substance of the angels & spirits in that stage, until finally he got to the firmament of earth and took on the appearance of the substance of the angels of the air and inhabited Mary's womb. After she delivered him, her body immediately appeared normal again, as though she had never been pregnant at all
His presence was not visible or perceivable at all to anyone whose eyes had not been opened by God, including Joseph. When Jesus was born, Joseph couldn't even see him and asked what Mary was freaking out about. Only then were his eyes opened and he was able to actually see Jesus.
But the masses likewise could not see him, and thus they even said that Mary was never pregnant, she never gave birth to Jesus
, and even though they heard of this alleged Jesus, no one ever seemed to know where he was
It's interesting that they claimed she never gave birth, because after she delivered Jesus, she looked as though she had never been pregnant at all.
And even when Joseph's eyes were opened and he finally saw Jesus, he & Mary both were instructed by a voice to tell no one of the "VISION
" that they saw.
This text is blatantly Docetic, and explains away the pregnancy and birth (i.e. his descending from "flesh" or the "seed of David") as being nothing more than a vision, an illusion, and Jesus himself as being composed of the heavenly substance of the angels of the air which was not perceivable to normal human beings.
And as I wrote in another thread, this smacks of damage control. As though it's trying to explain away the fact that no one ever saw Jesus as due not to the possibility that he didn't exist, but instead to the fact that he was made of incorporeal substance that is invisible to humans.
'Oh, no, Jesus certainly existed, it's just that no one saw him because he was invisible'.
This reminds me of how parents tell kids that Santa is real, it's just that he only comes when they are asleep, that's why they never see him.