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Re: [John_Lit] 4G The Synoptic Problem Christology and Johannine Priority ans...

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  • Bill Bullin
    Subject: Re: [John_Lit] 4G The Synoptic Problem Christology and Johannine Priority ans... Bill Bullin writes: Dear Frank This is the second part of my reply to
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 12, 2004
      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] 4G The Synoptic Problem Christology and Johannine
      Priority ans...

      Bill Bullin writes:

      Dear Frank

      This is the second part of my reply to your post on the above subject. It
      stems directly from my post to Leonard
      Maluf, where I raised the issue of Wisdom of Solomon, in relation to
      Johannine Priority and the relevance of the christology found in the
      interpretation of the parable of the sower in the synoptic tradition. I
      broke off my last post due to length. I would like to add a little more
      concerning I Cor. 8:6 before moving on to points 4-9 that I identified in
      your original post.

      3) Continued ...

      In relation to I Cor. 8:6, I referred, in some previous posts, to N.T.
      Wright's chapter, Monotheism, Christology and Ethics in I Cor. 8, in *The
      Climax of the Covenant*. I broadly share Wright's perspective in the
      interpretation of this verse in relation to idols and meat eating at Corinth
      but my own analysis, sketched out in the last post raises three immediate

      (i) If the Christian Shema is so interwoven with the text of the Jewish
      Shema, the exhortation (I think I typed exaltation in my last post), and the
      admonition, is it reasonable to suppose that St Paul composed it with the
      specific task of sorting out the Corinthian problem? I submit that it is
      not. I think it is far more reasonable to suppose that it was already an
      agreed formula shared between St Paul and the Corinthians that he could take
      them back to in order to argue from first principles. This being the case we
      have to ask if the formula was shared only between St Paul and the
      Corinthians or if it was more widely known.
      To begin an answer this question I would make the following points:

      (a) The Shema was central to Jewish daily prayer and was therfore an
      immediate central issue of concern for all Jewish Christians;

      (b) The Christian Shema demonstrates the kind of careful numerical and
      theological weaving that reflects not an emergency response to a crisis but
      a considered authoratitive response worthy of some council, perhaps the
      council in Jerusalem (Acts 15) or the earlier deliberations of the Jerusalem
      based believers. In all events I think Paul was appealing to an
      authoratitive formula for the reasons given.

      (c) That the formula twice uses the recurring word PANTER that appears no
      more and no less than 26 times in the whole Epistle raises the issue of
      where else it occurs in the Epistle and in what type of setting. To explore
      this in detail would take me too far off track at present; I simply
      highlight that the word is used four times in close proximity in the Ode to
      Agape (ch. 13) and no less than five times, with a sixth and final flourish
      in 15: 27-28. The question is then, do the Christian Shema, the Ode to Agape
      and 1 Cor. 15: 27-28 or thereabouts, together reflect a set of formulae?

      (d) In a postal response to Jeffrey Gibson *Jesus and the Horse* I refer to
      the famous Latin palindrome word square, SATOR-ROTAS found twice in Pompeii
      and dating to a period before the destruction of 79 CE. I also refer to
      comments made by Chief Rabbi Gaster and the Keeper of the British Museum's
      Near Eastern antiquities at the time. In short, they consider the square to
      reflect the kind of early cabbalistic squares found in Hebrew and Samaritan
      amulets from a very early period. Just as the Hebrew divine Name was
      unwritten and virtually unspoken, the very structure of the five by five
      square may very well reflect the divine Name in an invisible way. In the 5
      by 5 magic square, opposite squares always total 26, while the central
      square has the number 13, the number of both 'One' and 'Love' in the Hebrew
      Shema formulae. Clearly the 25 letters of the Jewish Shema would fit neatly
      into a square of 25 sub-squares, making 26 including the large square. The
      knotted tassele on Jewish Prayer shawls, referred to my Jesus, are knotted,
      reflecting similar numerical significance. Note again the words 'One' and
      'Love' are central to the whole theology of I Corinthians. magic Squares are
      best known due to their horizontal, vertical and long diagonals totalling
      the same number. Not only does the five by five square use the first 25
      consecutive numbers but its line totals come to 65 which is the number of
      the divine substitute Shem (name), Adonai (LORD).
      In Islamic lore the square is set out from the central square which is one.
      The consecutive numbers are then mapped out according to the knight's move
      in chess. Eventually the imaginary knight arrives back at the central square
      which now becomes 26. I t is quite extraordinary that the central One,
      representing monotheism is also 26.

      Magic squares play an undoubted role in Jewish magic formulae. I have
      previously referred to Holbein's ambiguous painting of Henry VIII, where
      Henry is bedecked in 37 jewels, rubies I think, and that 37 relates to both
      the Hebrew word Wisdom (CHOKMAH) but also to vanity (HBL). Of course this
      could be dismissed as pure flight of the imagination; a loose canon or screw
      perhaps. The historian would need to 'earth' such wild speculation. The
      'earthing' of course comes from Hans Holbein's childhood in his father's
      workshop and the regular visits made to it by Albrecht Durer the German
      artist and mathematician who, in his famous copperplate engraving
      "Melancholia" dated to 1514 includs the 4 x 4 magic square in the top right
      of the picture. Albrecht Durer knew a thing or two about ancient Jewish
      magic and mathematics. For Holbein and Durer see:
      Derek Wilson, Hans Holbein: Portrait of an Unknown Man, Phoenix Giant
      (1996), 28 and elsewhere. Sufficient to say that the Holbein family were
      deeply immersed in the religious art of pre-reformation and reformation
      Europe, and Holbein's patron was Thomas More. For those of an un-artistic
      disposition I would refer instead to Richard Bauckham's fine chapter on
      Jewish numerology *Nero and the Beast* in *The Climax of Prophecy*, T & T
      Clarke (1995), 384-445, although Bauckhams fails to note that the number 666
      relates to the Square of the Sun. I will not waste space and time repeating
      comments made in previous posts concerning Qoholeth and 4G, nor that
      Qoholeth appears to be structured around the Prime Number magic Square but,
      ambigously, also around the Square of the Sun, beneath which 'all is Vanity'
      not Wisdom since, each are ultimately in the eye of and the responsibility
      of the beholder (Mark 4 10-12; cf. Mat. 6:22-23).

      I have also referred to the great seal or design connecting the divine Name
      (the divine Tetragrammaton), through the number 26, to the twelve tribes or
      else the 12 months of the Essene calendar in 21 different ways. It is
      perhaps worth noting our earlier reference to the 21 qualities of Wisdom
      enumerated in the Wisdom of Solomon (7:22-23), and the gematria of the four
      Hebrew letters for 'I AM' (1+5+10+5). It certainly would be highly
      suggestive of this divine Seal if Wisdom of Solomon used the term PANTER 26
      times, not to mention the Johannine I AM sayings; the seven I am sayings,
      others of which are found in Mark.

      (e) Finally, I refer to Joachim Jeremias' view that the Lord's Prayer, (the
      term 'Pater Noster' and the letters 'A and O' ( are considered, by some, to
      be hidden twice in the Latin Sator-Rotas Square when the letters are
      re-arranged in a + or X {Xristos} form), replaced the recitation of the
      Jewish Shema at a relatively early date since it is given in various
      non-standardised forms in the Synoptic Gospels, (Joachim Jeremias, The
      Prayers of Jesus, (1967), 78-81. Since the Shema is not a prayer but a
      confession of faith, it seems likely that the Christian Shema replaced the
      Jewish Shema amongst at least some Jewish - Christians, at an early date
      whilst the Lord's Prayer replaced set daily prayers.This is perhaps
      corroborated by the appearance of the letter SHIN (for Shema) on the side of
      the teffellin (forehead box binding), as a sign of distinction, which wouls
      be superfluous after the demise of the Jewish Christian churches. In all
      events the Latin Square appears to have originally been a tefellin insert.
      The prayer bindings recovered from Qumran did not carry the letter Shin. I
      have been able to establish a difinitive for date when the letter first

      Now let me return to the list of nine topics I identified in your post.
      Could I leap over (4) Wisdom of Solomon and the Thareapeuta, and deal first
      with (5) The Enochian Essenes, in the remainder of this post, returning to
      4, and 6-11 in a separate post? I do not have a great deal more to say about

      (5) The Enochian Essenes

      In a post of 7/3/04 I referred to Brian Capper's two articles one on the
      historicity of the 'community of goods' in Acts and the other on the Beloved
      Disciple. His PhD pursued the historicity of the community of goods theme. I
      will take up the BD theme under (7) and (10). Capper's views dovetail very
      well with Gabriele Boccaccini's work *Beyond the Essene Hypothesis*. I will
      now offer the briefest and most inadequate thumb-nail sketches of his
      profoundly significant work; relying for the most part on citations from his

      (a) The Enochian Essenes formed a parallel priesthood to the Zadokite
      priesthood, both priesthoods had their roots in Ezekiel. The Enochians
      followed the 364 day calendar of exactly 52 weeks of 7 days. We cannot be
      sure if they followed a Spring or Autumn New Year.

      (b) Their essentail documents included: Book of the Watchers; Aramaic Levi;
      Astronomical Book; Dream Visions; Jubilees; the Temple Scroll. The Qumran
      Essenes then split off, adding their own specific texts. The Enochian
      Essenes continued adding the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs and the
      Similitudes of Enoch to their corpus. I argue that the Wisdom of Solomon
      also belonged to this Enochian Essene post-split corpus. The split occured
      mid c.2nd BCE.

      (c) The Qumran Essenes were a splinter group from mainstream Enochian
      Essenes; they differed on key doctrines:

      "Since the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, many attempts have been made to
      overthrow the Essene hypothesis. None has overcome the burden of proof. The
      Essene hypothesis remains the most likely explanation of the evidence and
      the most solid starting point for any discussion of the material.
      Nonetheless, the development of research has pointed to some serious
      contradictions in the classic formulation of the Essene hypothesis. We are
      urged to go beyond, to build up a more refined Essene hypothesis, one that
      first of all clarifies the relationship between Qumran and the larger Essene
      movement. While the evidence shows overwhelmingly that the Qumran community
      was an Essene community, ther term "Essene" and "Qumran" have too often been
      taken as if they were identical and interchangeable, with the result of
      confusing to overlapping yet distinct historical phenomena". p192.

      "The sectarian literature of Qumran gave a distinctive emphasis to the
      genarative idea of Enochian Judaism,that is, the superhuman origin of
      evil.The concepts of cosmic dualism and individual prdestination ultimately
      made God the origin of evil on both the cosmic and individual level. The
      denial of angelic and human freedom became the main cause of disagreement
      between Qumran and the larger Enochic movement." p. 170.

      (d) The Enochian Essenes fill the sociological gap between the Jesus people
      and the Qumran Essenes:

      "The Enochic / Essene hypothesis confirms the work of New Testament
      scholars who recognise a close relationship between Essenism and
      Christianity but also see many major differences between the New Testament
      and the sectarian literature of Qumran. We can now share this view without
      speculative hypotheses, such as John the Baptist and Jesus visiting Qumran.,
      or groundless tales of about their being involoved in secret Essene
      conspiracies. There was no need to go to Qumran in order to be familiar with
      the principles of Essenism . The Enochic literature provides a mainstream
      Essene context that is much closer to the early Christian theology than the
      Qumran dualism and predestination. "Jesus was closer to the non-Qumran
      Essenes that to the strict and withdrawn Essenes living in the desert of
      Judah" [Charleswoth cited]", p.194.

      (e) The Enochian Essenes rejected violence and warfare:

      "The Enochians / Essenes had a good reason not to fabricate instruments of
      war; they did not want to be involved in crafts that were taught by the evil
      angels", p.174.

      (f) They participated in society; some married others did not; they
      participated in a simple livestyle sharing goods communally.

      "Essenism is a widespread national movement [I wonder if it was wider still
      and found in most of the Mediterranean cities with Jewish populations] which
      covers the whole country and its members do not at all consider themselves
      seperate from the rest of the people of Israel. The Qumran community,
      instead, is a marginal phenomenon, a closed and isolated group, which
      deliberately lives apart from the rest of Judaism", p. 192.

      In conclusion, it may be supposed that Enochian Essenes had certain monastic
      settlements where their Scriptures were held, studied and copied. I propose
      the Alexandrian Therapeuta was one such community. Another may have been in
      or near Damascus and there appears to have been a Jerusalem based group near
      the Essene gate in the location of the Senacle in S.E. Jerusalem. It would
      be surprising if there was no such group in Rome or Antioch. The Enochian
      Essenes appear to have been a sociological precursor to the Christian
      movement and were probably the priests referred to in Acts 6:7 (cf. Otto
      Betz and Rainer Riesner 1993, p.156: "Perhaps despite all the clear
      differences, we may reckon the Essene movement, too, is part of this
      preparation for the gospel,". Pharisees and Gentiles formed other components
      of the early Jesus movement which would have taken on other characteristics
      according to geographical location. St Paul's spell in 'Arabia' may relate
      to a period of study in such a setting (Galatians 2: 17). Regardless of the
      impact of John's baptisamal movement and the attraction of the Christian
      evangel, it is, sociologically speaking, difficult to conceive of the
      Christian movement springing to such active, numerical and sustainable life,
      I submit, without a sociological precursor such as the Enochian Essene
      movement would have provided.

      I still have to respond to points 4 and 6-11. Once again, I apologise for
      such a long post but I think it will be helpful to set out my position
      reasonably adequately before we set about specific dialogue. Having set the
      senario with (5) I hope it will assist with setting out my position on (4).
      You will be delighted to know I have little to say about (6). I will respons
      with comments of (7) and (10) next, that is the identity of BD and the
      authorship of 4G.

      All good wishes,

      Bill Bullin (Private Student, East Sussex).
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