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Theudas

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  • Tom Saunders
    Last night I did some research on a first century character by the name of Theudas. He was a teacher to Valentinus, and studied with Basilides, knew Peter,
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 23, 2004
      Last night I did some research on a first century character by the name of Theudas. He was a teacher to Valentinus, and studied with Basilides, knew Peter, and Paul. He declared himself a prophet, circa 42, C.E., and led off some followers in Jerusalem, to part the Jordon river. The Roman Army rounded them up and killed some there, and hauled in the rest including Theudas, disciple of Paul. Here is the new Glossary entry.... Please anything that you think should be changed....

      Theudas: (42 CE approx.) Teacher of Valentinus, and thought to be a disciple of Paul. He is also thought to have been a student with Basilides under a follower of Peter named Glaukia, which is perhaps Glaucius in other references. Theudas, meaning 'gift from God' declared himself a prophet and was executed while attempting to 'part the Jordan" for his followers. ( Ehrman, "Lost Christianities, Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98 )

      What intrigues me about Thuedas, is what intrigues me about the "Acts of Peter," and those acts, of Peter in Acts, is that these texts are demonstrating characteristics of magic. Thuedas had followers, and had them believing he was indeed a prophet. Prophecy is one of the acknowledged 'crafts' by Paul, Clement, and others, and those with the gift are considered Pneumatics, at least at some level.

      Parting the Jordon, which may have been a fabrication or misunderstanding on the part of Josephus, is not the act of a prophet, but a magician. Theudas, was Paul's disciple, and this links Paul to magic. Or, the belief that magic was a viable scientific craft of the time, and there are other references to Paul's brushes with magic.

      Prophets are mentioned inTh- 88, and even if Theudas was a 'crackpot' he represents a living 'Christian Prophet' or as Clement puts it, a Craftsman. Two immediate problems exist with being a known prophet or magician in the first century. The standard Roman response to Witchcraft, was immediate death by decree, from early times. Clement warns about witchcraft in 'Stromata" and I can see why.

      Mary, Thomas, and Phillip are pretty much devoid of magic. This is significant because it puts the issue of the use of magic in Luke, Mark, Matthew(?), John, and Acts of Peter, in a common set. It might even suggest that this is cause for part of the bitterness against Peter, in GMary and Thomas.

      No doubt that Simon Magus had an early influence in the use of Magic, and Christianity. We cannot separate magic out of Gnosticism but we can organize it. Where there is someone who can do magic, the Gnostic saw a Craftsman. It would be extremely difficult to separate magic out any other way. Most orthodox Christians bought into magic. Those that did not buy into this 'craft' would have needed texts devoid of this feature in the documents.

      Does this bolster a decent argument for an early Thomas?

      Tom Saunders
      Platter, OK









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    • Tom Saunders
      Hi Andrew, Hence Theudas(2) must be someone else than Theudas(1) who had been killed 40 years before. That does make sense. Ehrman s references threw me off,
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 23, 2004
        Hi Andrew,

        Hence Theudas(2) must be someone else than Theudas(1) who had been killed 40 years before.

        That does make sense. Ehrman's references threw me off, or he is confused too. His reference on page 193 of "Lost Christianities" says...

        " We knw from Clement of Alexandria, for example that Valentinus was a disciple of Theudas, who was allegedly a disciple of Paul; and the Gnostic Basilides, studied under Glaukia, a supposed disciple of Peter." It sounds like this guy lived in the right time slot except for Valentinus.

        Jack Kilmon straightens this out.....

        "Valentinus, in his fantasy world, claimed to have
        DERIVED his ideas from Theudas which was an invention. Basilides was
        writing around 120-130 CE and would have been born around 80-90 CE some 45
        years after Theudas lost his head. Luke's story in Acts 5:36 was an error
        by Luke."

        Thank you Jack. I am changing the Glossary entry to:

        Theudas: (42 CE approx.) Thought to be a disciple of Paul. He is also thought to have been a student with Basilides under a follower of Peter named Glaukia, which is perhaps Glaucius in other references. Theudas, meaning 'gift from God' declared himself a prophet and was executed while attempting to 'part the Jordan" for his followers. Years later Valentinus laid claim to some of his teaching. ( Ehrman, "Lost Christianities, pg 193, Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98 )

        Tom Saunders
        Platter, OK






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      • Tom Saunders
        Hi Jack, I see what you mean, and wonder why the Gnostics like Valentinus made the claim to have been influenced by Theudas? And, if Ehrman messed up and
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 24, 2004
          Hi Jack,

          I see what you mean, and wonder why the Gnostics like Valentinus made the claim to have been influenced by Theudas? And, if Ehrman messed up and didn't catch the error, I don't feel so bad about not seeing it too. I do appreciate your observations.

          How would you characterize the influence of Theudas? If he was remembered by the Gnostics, he must have been influential in ways we are not seeing yet.

          Tom Saunders


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