O- But did his audience have a problem? Maybe some were receiving Hellenism with open arms that demanded a moral god but Yahweh was anything but. To a jewish audience, he had made a valid point: "Indeed who the fuck are we to question God?" What is required, in the final analysis, is not comprehension, but obedience. Paul and Christians were able to survive this Yahweh on the basis that there HAD to be, by definition, sufficient moral reason to act as He did, even if beyond our comprehension. Manicheist did not share that trust and wanted to cut off the embarassing OT. They were not alone. The POE would have been gone with them in power of tradition, but it stayed because men like Ambrose and Augustine had faith in rhetoric and exegesis to polish hebrew religion into a gentleman's religion.
Yes, part of Paul's audience did have a problem with it. Thus, began a movement to reject the God of the Hebrew Bible which culminated in Marcion the first compiler of a New Testament canon. The conscientious objectors were labled gnostics and condemned as heretics by the proto-orthodox church.
O- Here is what can be objected:
It would be comforting but it would be the invention of a God by man. It is precisely that mysterious factor that is the mark of the Other. You have argued that there was synchretism, and there was, but also rampant rejections of Hellenism, dsplayed in the virtuous AND optimistic, Origen. I have always admired men like yourself that hold on to the belief of a future in which none shall be on the wrong side of God, but I agree with the orthodox that such idea was entirelly novel, lacking in the barbarity of Yahweh or the vitriol of Jesus. That was genuine anger. The Hellenes had a superior religion, by the time of Ambrose, tolerant, high minded...think of Marcus Aurelius...but no religion actually resolved the POE. They simply took the least of two evils.
In Romans, Paul promises salvation (‘mercy’) to all people (11: 32). God will ultimately save everybody. Not only that, he will save everything. ‘From him and through him and unto him are ta panta
i.e. all things’ (11: 36).
The temptation of Jesus has Satan goading Jesus: "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here"...go ahead. No evil, natural or otherwise should befall you. Jesus, like the orthodox after, chose not to put his God to the test. But their conviction was that if He wanted, then He would and nothing could stop him...if sometimes people die of the fall, it was not because God could not save them but that He MUST had had His reasons to not act...maybe the person was bad, or maybe He meant to reward them later...For Manichaeans, the answer may have been: "Gee...that is a long fall...I don't know if God CAN catch me. I know He wants to but He might not be able."
Christianity is not Manicheism, I get it. If it was it would be full blown dualism instead of partially dualistic as I have been suggesting all along. Why did God send Satan to temp God? Is this some kind of divine Punch and Judy show?
According to Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions
by T.W. Doane
It is said that in the oracles of Zoroaster there is to be found a prophecy to the effect that, in the latter days, a virgin would conceive and bear a son, and that, at the time of his birth, a star would shine at noonday. Christian divines have seen in this a prophecy of the birth of Christ Jesus, but when critically examined, it does not stand the test. The drift of the story is this: Ormuzd, the Lord of Light, who created the universe in six periods of time, accomplished his work by making the first man and woman, and infusing into them the breath of life. It was not long before Ahriman, the evil one, contrived to seduce the first parents of mankind by persuading them to eat of the forbidden fruit. Sin and death are now in the world; the principles of good and evil are now in deadly strife. Ormuzd then reveals to mankind his law through his prophet Zoroaster; the strife between the two principles continues, however, and will continue until the end of a destined term. During the last three thousand years of the period Ahriman is predominant. The world now hastens to its doom; religion and virtue are nowhere to be found; mankind are plunged in sin and misery. Sosiosh is born of a virgin, and redeems them, subdues the Devs, awakens the dead, and holds the last judgment. A comet sets the world in flames; the Genii of Light combat against the Genii of Darkness, and cast them into Duzakh, where Ahriman and the Devs and the souls of the wicked are thoroughly cleansed and purified by fire. Ahriman then submits to Ormuzd; evil is absorbed into goodness; the unrighteous, thoroughly purified, are united with the righteous, and a new earth and a new heaven arise, free from all evil, where peace and innocence will forever dwell.
Can you see in the Zoroastrian myth, the prototypical cosmic dualism, an unmistakable parallel to mythical narrative and prophetic expectation of first century Judaism that was applied to Jesus in the New Testament? This is the dualistic element that I have been referring to that has always been part of Christianity and continues to be today.
O- And the millions of Christians that have testimonies of hos GOD changed their life? They don't count? They are just crazy? I mean, if that is what you want to believe that is fine. But Paul said that5 indeed this all may seem foolishness, but to those "whom God has called, both jews and greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
If I may for a moment take as my client the skeptics of the world in a kind of class action suit, what are your clients talking about? Anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable. Changed how? For how long? Is it measurable? More importantly, in the context of this discussion, how does the change relate to the metaphysical situation in question, if at all?
O- Were these false brethren the council at Jerusalem? If so then I can see your point, but if not then he might have seen Peter as making a mistake under peer pressure, but not that he was an apostate, or, possessed by demons, or a servant of Satan. The exchange is glossed over a bit, but the official judgment by the council did not command that gentiles or anyone else should get circumscised in order to follow Christ. So, I think that as more the movement grew, many added questions and in the absence of quick communications, arrors were put into practice until letter so and so got to them. It was not all thought out to every possible eventuality. It was a movement born from the death of a man named Jesus. This would not be the last occasion for conflict, but Paul does not, by the existence of conflict, suppose that his coreligionist, like Peter and James, are agents of the Devil.
Paul opposes himself to them and challenges their authority. We don't get to hear their side of the story on his conflict with them. Winners write history.
O- The idea of God as good was part of the psalmist tradition of venerating God in all things. The Church Fathers were not adding to, but projected judaic/christian ideas onto hellenic material. They were the ones improving Aristotle and not the other way around. Thus I disagree that they were operating IAW greek philosophy, specially when they systematically attacked it's defenders, like Porphyri. Julian saw that they were not the students of greek philosophy, but the debunkers of it.
To the Psalmist God is good if he kills people the Psalmist disagrees with. Aristotle's God was too good to dirty his hands creating this messy world. Above you spoke of" the barbarity of Yahweh" now the Judaic God is good. That's an apparent contradiction. Which is it?
O- But what was more influential in shaping Church theology/orthodoxy: John or the letters by Paul? There are differences, but I think that they are not as flagarant as you make them to be. The basic story, the meat of it, echoes the Pauline theology of salvation by grafting. The doctrine of predestination, explicit in John is notheless present in Matthew, the most jewish of the four.
Traditional Christian hermeneutics argues for a harmony between the New Testament authors. Jesus is interpreted through Paul, Paul is interpreted through John. John's perspective is developed by the church Fathers. The Fathers are corrected by the Councils. Thence come the orthodox creeds. If you actually compare the NT books, you realize that the authors are not all saying the same thing. The task of ecclesiastical exegesis has always been to try to reconcile the differences. John has Jesus speak about being born again. "You must be born again." Paul never mentions it, yet but traditional Christian teaching assumes that he believed in it. Neither Mark, John or Paul mention the virgin birth but again the tradition assumes that they believed in it and evidence to the contrary is explained away.The post-apostolic fathers don't seem to understand Paul's doctrine of salvation by grace. The creeds introduce hypostases in God and dual natures in Christ that were never contemplated in the New Testament. Is this a mass of revelation going on for three centuries. No explanation is given for how all that revelation occurred. Instead what we see in church history is a mass of metaphysical speculation in service an organization consolidating it's power through a political processes.