Saturday, May 31, 2008

Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism Latest

Two new articles have appeared in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism:

Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, Volume 5
5.1 Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, Paul’s Bible, His Education and His Access to the Scriptures of Israel

5.2 Craig S. Keener, Three Notes on Figurative Language: Inverted Guilt in Acts 7.55-60, Paul’s Figurative Vote in Acts 26.10, Figurative Eyes in Galatians 4.15
As is usual with JGRChJ, these will remain online for the rest of the year, and then it will go print-only, as with earlier volumes, in an interesting reversal of the more common practice.


Geoff Hudson said...

Craig Keener describes Paul's vote of Acts 26.10 as figurative. I suggest that in the source text of Acts, the writer and prophet undergoing trial was explaining to the judge that the chief priests had put many of the prophets in prison, and that when the prophets were condemned to death, the chief priests cast their votes against them. Presumably, the chief priests had a majority in the Sanhedrin and were thus totally responsible for the death sentences. There would have been no need for the prophet to explain all this to Agrippa. This trial was not before Agrippa. The trial was before a judge who was not altogether familiar with the Jewish affairs, which was why the editor inserted 26.3. The judge was Roman. The original writer would have said that his accusers knew him from when he was a child. The simple reason was that he was born and raised in Judea in a family of prophets. To convey the idea that his Paul came from elsewhere, the editor inserted: "from the beginning of my life in my own country". Then he wrote "and also in Jerusalem" instead of "also in Rome". The trial of the prophet was before Nero, and probably Poppea around 60CE.

There had been on-going persecution of the prophets by the chief priests causing civil unrest. The chief priests had had been called to give an account of their actions before Caesar.

Geoff Hudson said...

We are led to believe that ‘Paul’s’ trial of Acts 25.23-26.32 took place in about CE 60 in front of Agrippa, Bernice and Festus. But suppose that Agrippa II had been killed before the time of the trial. When and how could Agrippa have been killed? I suggest there is a classic reversal by the creative Flavian historians in War. 17.8,9. Like John the Baptist, ‘Manahem’ was a fictitious character created for a story, and then disposed of when no longer needed. Under his created alias ‘Menahem’, the editor disguised the name of the real rebel leader. The editor couldn’t help creating his character ‘Manahem’ as the son of the editor’s rebellious Judas the Galilean. Menahem was thus written-in as the leader of the rebels during their siege of the upper city of Jerusalem. Somehow during the siege, by his cunning, ‘Manahem’ took some ‘men of note’ with him, broke open King Herod’s armoury on Masada and returned to Jerusalem looking like the king and leader of the ‘revolt’. Never mind that the armoury in question actually belonged to Herod Agrippa II. It was very unlikely that Agrippa’s soldiers would have allowed any such rebel character as ‘Manahem’ anywhere near Masada. One might expect that the real character who could have wormed his way into Masada past the Idumean guards did command some public respect, but nevertheless had a reputation for cunning (and later the barbarity attributed to ‘Menahem’). Thus the character of Menahem matched that of the high priest Ananias. Did the high priest Ananias have himself crowned as a DSS style king messiah, opposing rule by the Kittim/Romans?

‘Manahem’ proceeded to attack the upper city which the rebels had under siege. The upper city was defended by Agrippa’s soldiers, together with others of the rebel’s own countrymen, and supposedly the Romans. We are not told if Agrippa was with his soldiers, but it would seem reasonable to assume that he was. After undermining a defensive tower, ‘Manahem’ was able to gain access to the upper city. The defenders then asked to surrender. Apparently, the rebel’s own countrymen and the king’s soldiers (probably Idumeans) were allowed to surrender, but the supposed Roman soldiery were not. If Agrippa was king, then it is reasonable to assume that he would have kept order with his own soldiers, and that Roman soldiers were not on the scene. Then it would also seem reasonable to assume that only the rebel’s own countrymen were allowed to capitulate, but the king’s Idumean soldiers, and presumably the king himself, were not.

The Roman soldiers were supposed to have fled to the royal towers. Again it seems reasonable to assume that it was king Agrippa with his soldiers who ran for cover in the royal towers, hotly pursued by ‘Menahem’ and his party. Those that didn’t make it to the towers were killed. These towers were promptly besieged by the rebels. The next day, the high priest ‘Ananias’ was apparently found hiding in an aqueduct. This of course looks highly suspicious.

Here comes the classic reversal/inversion of the Flavian historical editor: “the death of the high priest Ananias so puffed Manahem, that he became barbarously cruel; and as he thought he had no antagonist to dispute the management of affairs with him, he was no better than an unsupportable tyrant:” As the high priest was the next in the power hierarchy to the king, it looks as though it was the king found in the aqueduct on the day after the royal towers were besieged. He didn’t make it into the towers, and the rebels led by the high priest Ananias killed the king.

For Jewish rebels led by their high priest to kill their Roman appointee and assume power in a coup was bad publicity undermining Roman credibility as an efficient organising super power. The Flavian historians were obliged to cover-up the real history of the events leading up to the war with the Jews.