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Re: The Gnostic Flavor of the 2nd Masada Speech

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  • lady_caritas
    ... Hello, George. For consideration, …. another view of Shaye Cohen s about Josephus s intentions having more to do with literary and polemical purposes
    Message 1 of 48 , Apr 2 8:40 AM
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "George" <historynow2002@y...>
      wrote:
      > Mike,
      >
      > Yes, I suppose Josephus can be untrustworthy.
      > But we here, on this list, have the benefit of
      > not having to worry about whether a mass suicide
      > really happened or not.
      >
      > All we have to worry about is whether Josephus
      > is likely to have made up, out of whole cloth, the
      > theology he puts into the mouth of the chief
      > Sicarii.


      Hello, George. For consideration, …. another view of Shaye Cohen's
      about Josephus's intentions having more to do with literary and
      polemical purposes rather than interest in Sicarii theology,…from the
      link I left in Message #7398:

      "Eleazar made a second speech too. Entitled "On the Immortality of
      the Soul", it had for its major themes not Israel, God, and sin, but
      soul, death, and suicide. Its purpose was purely literary, to
      correspond to the speech which Josephus himself allegedly delivered
      at Jotapata under similar circumstances. Josephus gives us a logos
      and an antilogos, a speech in book III condemning suicide and a
      speech in book VII lauding it. The parallel between the incidents at
      Jotapata and Masada was developed further by the transference of the
      lottery motif from the former to the latter. If, as I have attempted
      to show, the occasion, content, and impact of Eleazar's speeches are
      fictitious, then the use of lots as described by Josephus must be
      fictitious too. Perhaps some of the Sicarii slew themselves in
      accordance with a lottery (see below), but it is most unlikely that
      all of them did so. They had neither the opportunity nor the
      unanimity required for such an action. The idea that all of them did
      so was derived by the historian from his (very suspect) account of
      the episode at Jotapata."

      (More on Josephus and Jotapata:
      http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/voices/voices4b.html )

      More from ~
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/masada
      .html

      "Sitting in his study in Rome, Josephus improved on this story. He
      wanted Eleazar, the leader of the Sicarii, to take full
      responsibility for the war, to admit that his policies were wrong, to
      confess that he and his followers had sinned, and to utter the
      blasphemous notion that God had not only punished but also had
      rejected his people. Condemned by his own words, Eleazar and all his
      followers killed themselves, symbolizing the fate of all those who
      would follow in their footsteps and resist Rome. This was the work of
      Josephus the apologist for the Jewish people and the polemicist
      against Jewish revolutionaries. Josephus the rhetorical historian
      realized that the murder-suicide of some of the Sicarii at Masada
      would be far more dramatic and compelling if it became the murder-
      suicide of all the Sicarii. (Many historians before Josephus had
      similarly exaggerated collective suicides.) Josephus modeled the
      Masada narrative in part on his own description of the Jotapata
      episode, in part on the Greco-Roman historiographical tradition.
      Inspired by the former, he gave Eleazar a second speech, an antilogos
      to the speech which he claimed to have himself delivered at Jotapata,
      and invented (or exaggerated) the use of lots in the suicide process.
      Inspired by the latter, he had each Jew kill his wife and children (a
      motif derived from Greco-Roman stories of one pattern) and contribute
      his possessions to one large pile which was then set ablaze (a motif
      derived from stories of another pattern). Most important, Josephus
      learned from the (Greco-Roman tradition that collective suicide was
      to be an object of amazement, almost admiration, an attitude he
      failed to reconcile with his condemnation of the Sicarii. Out of
      these strantis-historical truth, a fertile imagination, a flair for
      drama and exaggeration, polemic against the Sicarii, and iliterary
      borrowings from other instances of collective suicide-Josephus
      created his Masada story."
    • Mike Leavitt
      Hello lady_caritas ... Always, it is a limitation of the language, any language. And one can get so hung up in the history, one forgets about practice. My BA
      Message 48 of 48 , Apr 6 1:02 PM
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        Hello lady_caritas

        On 06-Apr-03, you wrote:

        >> My Bishop makes good points here, but it just makes the historian's
        >> task more difficult, not less desirable, and it makes his goals
        >> more circumscribed, perhaps.
        >>
        >> Regards
        >> --
        >> Mike Leavitt ac998@l...
        >
        >
        > I would agree, Mike. Historians offer us contextual information for
        > our discussions.
        >
        > You also mention in Post #7467, "If we don't know where we came
        > from, we don't know where we are going. Gnosis may be now, but it is
        > not in a vacuum."
        >
        > Again, agreed, of course gnosis is not in a vacuum. We live in a
        > temporal world and gnosis is comprehended within that environment.
        >
        > I suppose my point was to say that your comment, "If we don't know
        > where we came from, we don't know where we are going," could be
        > viewed with more than one meaning.
        >
        >
        > Cari

        Always, it is a limitation of the language, any language. And one can
        get so hung up in the history, one forgets about practice. My BA was
        in Classical and Medieval History, my MA is in Psychology, so I guess
        that puts me squarely in both the historical and the practice camps,
        actually not a contradiction as I see it.

        Regards
        --
        Mike Leavitt ac998@...
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