Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 7:49 pm
The synoptic gospels are dated earlier than all other early Christian writings except the authentic Pauline epistles. How do we know? Basically, the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke each contain prophecies of an imminent global apocalypse.
Why is this relevant? Because an opinion popular among mythicists is that the myth of Jesus originated as something spiritual or divine, getting "historicized" only later in the myth. However, the evidence shows the contrary. The earlier texts portray Jesus as more human and more imminently apocalyptic, but the later texts portray Jesus as more divine and less imminently apocalyptic. The mythicist position is a position that is improbable on the face of the evidence. It isn't impossible
, but I think it should be understandable that reasonable thinkers would disagree.
Two passages in Mark (derivatives also found in Matthew and Luke) quote Jesus as follows:
Mark 9:1 - And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’
Mark 13:30 - Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.
A counterpoint is that Jesus was actually talking about the destruction of the temple, not a full apocalypse, when he was quoted as saying these things. I have heard this argument more than once, and I can't help but think that the person who first made the argument forgot to read the passages in Mark.
Here is the context of Mark 9:1.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ 91And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’
And here is the context of Mark 13:30.
13As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ 2Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’
3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ 5Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
9 ‘As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. 10And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
14 ‘But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 15someone on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; 16someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 17Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 18Pray that it may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. 20And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. 21And if anyone says to you at that time, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “Look! There he is!”—do not believe it. 22False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23But be alert; I have already told you everything.
24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25 and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
When Jesus said, "all these things," he was seemingly referring to the whole of his apocalyptic prophecies, including: "Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven," spoken directly before the given deadline. It was not merely about the siege of Jerusalem and the fall of the temple.
This belief in an imminent apocalypse is echoed in two of the epistles of Paul (emphasis added).
1 Corinthians 15:50-54 - 50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters,* is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, [fall asleep] but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
If there is any doubt about this, then all doubt should be put to rest by two later passages in the New Testament. These are passages that were apparently written after the passing of the apocalyptic deadline, because they are each excuses
for the failure of the prophecy. The prophecies were not
fulfilled by the siege of Jerusalem and the fall of the temple, Christians knew it, and they did their darnedest to explain it. John 21:20-23 and 2 Peter 3:3-8 are as follows (emphasis added).
John 21:20-23 - 20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ 23So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’
2 Peter 3:3-8 - 3First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
The earliest "Gnostic" text is the Gospel of Thomas, and it is in a similar vein. Verse 113 says:
(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
<Jesus said,> "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
There is a major misunderstanding swirling around in a post such as yours. Nearly everyone is of the same persuasion, so don't count yourself as singled out. The "kingdom" is always 'here'. It is here for those who are taken there by their Master. All these things that signify immanence are pertaining to specific disciples who INDIVIDUALLY will experience the "second coming" when the Master deems them ready. In John 21, the beloved disciple (JAMES) is ready while living, as he is the successor to "Jesus". (I think it is John the B, not Jesus here, as John fits the timeline and events as well as Jesus does and exhibits historical attributes that Jesus does not.) Once you see that Masters are always here, and disciples are always becoming ready to go within to the kingdom, it all makes sense. That's the teachings (Sant Mat, "Saints' Teachings") of the current line of mystic Masters at Beas, India (www.RSSB.org
). Gurinder Singh is the current Master, or 'Guru', 'Sat Guru' if you will (true Teacher). Hebrew Matthew shows a number of deleted phrases that demonstrate John the B as the true Master of his time: 11:11: "among those born of women none has risen greater than John the B" is not followed by the qualifier, "but he that is least in the kingdom is greater than he", because it was a gloss (interpolation). 11:13: "For all the Law and the prophets spoke concerning
John", not "until
" John, which is nonsense. 17:11: "Indeed Elijah will come and will save
all the world" not "restore all things
", more gibberish, obviously interpolated. And 21:32, where Jesus is speaking to the disciples, not the priests and elders, rebuking them for not believing
in him [John]". These show an elevated John, so there are others saviors besides Jesus (I think they are the same, "Jesus" being a title, given after resurrection and retrojected into the life of John). James is routinely minimized in the gospels/Acts as Robert Eisenman has so masterfully shown. These things occurred so that early church elders could control the masses.
The "moon and stars falling" and the "sun not giving her light" are INNER experiences of the disciple just before the appearance WITHIN THEMSELVES of the inner Master (astral form). That's why they will "still be standing", some of them. ("Standing" is a common mystic term at Qumran. It is nearly ubiquitous in the gospels' resurrection passages when you know it has mystic significance.) The "coming on the clouds of heaven and in great glory" was spoken by James, not "Jesus", and is likewise an inner experience. These things are not collective visions, but individual events at the end of one's life ('Last Days', 'End of the world').
The whole Bible is mystic teaching, which is why it fits so well to the Dead Sea Scrolls and gnostic gospels. I have myself determined that the Gospel Of Judas shows "Judas" as James, the one who "sacrifices the man that bears me". See my topic elsewhere here "Judas and Lazarus as James".