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if we believe at all, we assume that jesus existed in some sense, and that the canonical gospels at least get the general details correct, we also know historically that pilate was governor of judea from ad 26 to 36AD, so if he crucified jesus, then it had to be between these dates and the earliest christ could have begun teaching is 23AD.
if jesus started teaching sometime between 23 and 33 AD, how could he have been the great teacher referred to in the DSS?
From The Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes (pg 41)
And all those who have entered the Covenant, granted to all Israel for ever, shall make their children who have reached the age of enrolment, swear with the oath of the Covenant. (CD xv, 5-6)
The Messianic Rule is more discursive. There, enrolment into the sect is represented as the climax of a childhood and youth spent in study. Teaching of the Bible and in the 'precepts of the Covenant' began long before the age of ten, at which age a boy embarked on a further ten years of instruction in the statutes.. it was not until after all this that he was finally ready.
From [his] youth they shall instruct him in the Book of Meditation and shall teach him, according to his age, the precepts of the Covenant. They [shall be edu]cated in the statutes for ten years... At the age of twenty years [he shall be] enrolled, that he may enter upon his alotted duties in the midst of his family (and) be joined to the holy congregation. (1QSa1,6-9)
from The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes (pg 58)
More significant as a cronological pointer is the dating, in the Damascus Document, of the sect's beginnings to 'The Age of Wrath', 390 years after the the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. This should bring us to 196 BCE but, as is well known, Jewish historians are not very reliable in their time-reckoning for the post-exilic era.
The Damascus Document has been developed under several different names: the Zadokite Fragments, Damascus Covenant or Damascus Document. In 1896, Solomon Schechter, a Jewish scholar, discovered the document in the Geniza of the Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo where it was subsequently designated Cairo Damascus (CD) (VanderKam 56). Schechter published CD under the title Solomon Fragments of a Zadokite Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910). The title was influenced by the frequent mention of the "sons of Zadok" within the document (Wise 49). In 1947, the Community Rule (1QS) manuscript was discovered in cave one at Qumran. Scholars noticed a similarity between it and CD and much discussion was generated about its link to the Qumran community. At Qumran, Cave six proved to validate this hypothesis when an actual fragment of CD was found. Altogether there were eleven fragments, nine in cave four, one in cave five and one in cave six. The official edition of the cave four copies is Joseph M. Baumgarten, et al, Qumran Cave 4 XIII: The Damascus Document (4Q266-273) (DJD 18; Oxford: Clarendon, 1996). A critical edition was published as James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations, vol. 2, Damascus Document, War Scroll, and Related Documents (Wesminster John Knox, 1995).
from The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English cont. (pg 50 - 53)
Ptolomaic Greek Occupation
At the beginning of the second century BCE, Palestine Jewry passed through a state of crisis. Alexander the Great had conquered the Holy Land in 332 BCE and, after early uncertainties which followed his death, it became part of the empire of the Greeks in Egypt, know as the Ptolomies. During the third century, the Ptolomies avoided, as much as possible,interfering with the internal life of the Jewish nation and, while taxes were required to be paid, it remained under the rule of the High Priest and his council.
In other words, Greeks, Macedonians and Hellenized Phoeniceans took up permanent residence on Palestinian soil and the further spread of Greek civilization and culture was merely a matter of time.
With the conquest of the Holy Land by the Seleucids, or Syrian greeks, in 200 BCE, the first signs appeared of Jews succumbing to a foreign cultural influence. In the apocryphal Book of Ecclesiasticus, dated to the beginning of the second century BCE, its author, Jesus ben Sira, a sage from jerusalem, rages against those 'ungodly men' who have forsaken the Law of the Most High God. (xli,8). but the real trouble started when Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BCE) officially promoted a Hellenizing programme in Judaea that was embraced with eagerness by the Jewish elite. The leader of the modernistic faction was the brother of the High Priest Onias III. Known as Jesus among his compatriots, he adopted the Greek name of Jason, and set about transforming Jerusalem into a Hellenistic city...
But when in 167 he actually prohibited the practice of judaism under pain of death and re-dedicated the Jerusalem Sanctuary to Olympian Zeus, the 'abomination of desolation', the opponents of the Hellenizers finally rose up in violent resistance.
Led by Judas Maccabaeu and, after his death, by his brothers Jonathon and Simon, the fierce defenders of Judaism were able not only to restore Jewish worship in Jerusalem, but against all expectations even managed to eject the ruling Seleucids and to liberate Judaea.
Lastly, a major political change came about when Jonathon Maccabaeus, himself a priest but not a Zadokite, accepted in 153-152 BCE pontifical office from Alexander Balas, a usurper of the Seleucid throne.
For the conservatives this was an illegal seizure of power. But they were even more scandalized by the appointment, in 140BCE, following Jonathon's execution in 143-142 by the Syrian general Tryphon, of Simon Maccabee as High Priest and hereditary leader of the people by means of a decree passed by the Jewish national assembly.
From then on, until Pompey's transformation of the independant Jewish state into a Roman province in 63BCE, was ruled by a new dynasty of High Priests, later Priest-Kings, known as the Hasmonaeans after the grandfather of the Maccabees...
After Pompey's seizure of Jerusalem, the Asmonaean high priesthood continued for another 3 decades, but the political power formerly belonging to them passed to the Judaized Idumaean, Herod the Great, when he was promoted to the throne of Jerusalem by Rome in 37BCE. It is the last year or two of his reign - he died in 4 BCE - that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke date the birth of Jesus of Nazareth (Matth.ii,I;Lk. i,5)
Although many Christians would like the information in the scrolls to be confined to the world of academia, it will increasingly impact traditional Christianity. Comparatively little was known about the Essenes, although ancient historians like Josephus and Philo wrote about them and were impressed by their lifestyle and their teachings. But until this century, it was assumed they were a monolithic group of believers, who lived in the Judean wilderness.
There were Essenes who lived a monk-like existence, isolated at Qumran, but there were also those who lived in family units in and around Jerusalem, and in other parts of Palestine. Just as the term "Christianity" encompasses a variety of beliefs and lifestyles, so does Essenism. And as the information contained in the scrolls is more widely disseminated, it becomes apparent that along with the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Essenes were an important religious influence in the time of Jesus
Kerygmatic Sources of the Jesus Movement
After Jesus is crucified, there occurs a most unexpected eschatological experience in which certain men and women close to Jesus see evidence of him raised from the dead. It is beyond biblical scholarship to discuss the subjectivity or objectivity of the resurrection of Christ. Despite what some apologists claim, the resurrection narrative of Christ cannot be looked at historically; the Risen Christ is a theological question and a serious student of the Bible realizes that it cannot be seen as an event of history. When we speak of the resurrection, we are not speaking of history, rather, we are speaking of kerygma. This is important to keep in mind. What we can do is to look at how early Christians reacted to the kerygma of the first Easter in order to infer something about the belief in the resurrection of Christ. Our earliest written source is Paul who himself received the resurrection account from James and Peter in Jerusalem shortly after his own conversion. Paul taught the new Christains at Corinth (on the Peloponnese of the Greek mainland) for about a year and a half between 50-52 CE. After his stay at Corinth, Paul moved on to Ephesus for three years to preach there. While he was gone at Ephesus, the community at Corinth began interpreting Christian doctrine differently from Paul and these conflicts of doctrine were reported to him by concerned members of the Corinthian community (1 Cor. 1:11; 7:1; 16:15-18).
In chapter 15, Paul seeks to correct one of their misinterpretations regarding the resurrection in that the Corinthians denied the tenet of bodily resurrection (15:12). He tells them that they must believe in Jesus' resurrection, for, without it their faith is in vain (15:13-14). At this point we must distinguish a fundamental different between Hellenistic Greek thought, represented by those at Corinth, and Jewish apocalyptic thought, represented by Paul. For Paul (as for any Jew) the body is made in the image of God and ought to be held in the highest regard. The spirit or "soul" of every human (nephesh) was thought of as an essential component of the body in order to be a whole, living being. 11 This is why Paul's kerygma places an emphasis on the bodily resurrection of Christ; for Paul, Jesus' resurrection is evidence of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and God's rule on earth. To the Greeks at Corinth, however, the body (soma) was regarded as a "tomb" (sema) that imprisoned the soul (the rational mind or psyche). Since Pythagoras, the Greeks had developed a philosophy whereby the soul was thought to be immortal and existed after the death of the corporeal body. Much of the Orphic and Dionysian mysteries entailed purifying the soul in order to escape the prison of the body and ascend to the higher spheres (or heavens).
Thus, unlike Paul, the Greeks saw "flesh" and "spirit" as dichotomous existences where the body is clearly inferior to the spirit. Naturally, certain Christians at Corinth had interpreted Paul's preaching of the resurrection of Jesus as a spiritual resurrection of the soul, and not a bodily resurrection of the flesh. For them, Jesus' resurrection fit perfectly into their world-view which was informed by the centuries-old Orphic doctrines whereby the soul finds final release from the body at death. But Paul's first letter to the Church at Corinth corrects them on this misinterpretation. Paul reminds them that Christ "was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures" (15:2-5). The first gospel account reaffirms this Jewish understanding of bodily resurrection by ending with the empty tomb as a powerful testimony of Christ's resurrection (Mk. 16:1-8). 12 Paul writes to the Romans that "the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead . . . will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you" (Rom. 8:10-12). The Greeks were horrified of such notions as a literal resurrection of the corpse as Paul taught in the Acts of the Apostles, so that when Paul teaches that those who repent will be bodily raised from the dead, some mock him (17:32). For Greeks and Christians then
This Greek hope [immortality after death] and Christian hope are diametrically opposed, for the former is based on the liberation of the body, while the latter has the resurrection as its foundation. . . . On this account the teaching of St. Paul was received coldly." 13
The debate between Jewish-Christians and Greek-Christians will resolve itself with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The community at Jerusalem that Jesus left to his brother James was largely destroyed silencing that trajectory which was closest to Jesus. After Jerusalem's destruction, the trajectories in the Diaspora (Greece and Egypt) will come to dominate mainstream Christianity. After Paul's death (perhaps during Nero's purges in 60 CE) and with the Jerusalem trajectory gone, Christianity will come to be dominated by the Greek philosophy and see the body as a tomb which imprisons the soul. Death is a release which frees the soul from the body so that the pure may rise to heaven to be with God.
It seems that our early British Church was founded by St. Joseph of Arimathea, that then St. Simon Zelotes the Apostle came, and was martyred, and then St. Paul sent Aristobulus, said to be the brother of St. Barnabas – and thought by some to be of the family of Herod – to be our first Bishop, and that he, too, was martyred. And I think that it is indisputable that St. Paul himself came and taught in Britain; and it is stated, but on less authority, that St. Peter came.
West Country legend has it that Joseph sailed around Land's End and headed for what was to eventually become Glastonbury in Somerset. Here his boat ran ashore and, together with his followers, he climbed a nearby hill to survey the surrounding land. Having brought with him a staff grown from Christ's Holy Crown of Thorns, he thrust it into the ground and announced that he and his twelve companions were "Weary All". The thorn staff immediately took miraculous root, and it can be seen there still on Wearyall Hill.
Joseph met with the local ruler and soon secured himself twelve hides of land at Glastonbury on which to build the first monastery in Britain. From here he became Britain's evangelist. So it is not surprising that the monarchies of that country wished to establish themselves as St. Joseph's descendants: especially considering the more pagan ancestors already claimed in their pedigrees. By marrying Joseph's daughter to a pre-Christian deity, the royal genealogists were able to show that Christianity had been victorious over the old pagan ways. But why specifically choose Beli Mawr as Anna's husband?
Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy disciple of Jesus, who, according to the book of Matthew 27:57-60, asked Pontius Pilate for permission to take Jesus' dead body in order to prepare it for burial. He also provided the tomb where the crucified Lord was laid until his Resurrection. Joseph is mentioned in a few times in parallel passages in Mark, Luke and John, but nothing further is heard about his later activities.
Apocryphal legend, however, supplies us with the rest of his story by claiming that Joseph accompanied the Apostle Philip, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene & others on a preaching mission to Gaul. Lazarus & Mary stayed in Marseilles, while the others travelled north. At the English Channel, St.Philip sent Joseph, with twelve disciples, to establish Christianity in the most far-flung corner of the Roman Empire: the Island of Britain. The year AD 63 is commonly given for this "event", with AD 37 sometimes being put forth as an alternative.
The Essene-Culdee connection is confirmed by the researches of the 19th century antiquary, Godfrey Higgins, who in his erudite work The Celtic Druids (1829) states: “The result of all the inquiries which I have made into the history of the Culdees is, that they were the last remains of the Druids, who had been converted to Christianity, before the Roman Church got any footing in Britain. They were Pythagorean Druidical monks, probably Essenes, and this accounts for their easily embracing Christianity: for the Essenes were as nearly Christians as possible 
Early Welsh Genealogies show us that most of the Early British Monarchies claimed descent in one way or another from Beli Mawr (the Great) who can be identified with the Celtic God, Belenos. However, in his mortal form, Beli was said to have been the husband of Anna, the daughter of St. Joseph of Arimathea.
At first sight, this claim may seem quite extraordinary. St. Joseph was the man who had taken Christ's body down from the cross and given up his own tomb for Christ's last resting-place. Apocryphal legend tells us that Joseph of Arimathea was the Virgin Mary's paternal uncle. After the resurrection, he left Palestine with Saints Philip, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene & others, and sailed through the Mediterranean to Southern France. Lazarus & Mary stayed in Marseilles, while the others travelled north. At the English Channel, St.Philip sent Joseph, with twelve disciples, to establish Christianity in the most far-flung corner of the Roman Empire.
Reprinted by popular demand, this book tells the story of St Joseph of Arimathea and the legend of his journey to Britain as a metal merchant seeking tin.
Tradition states that on this journey he was accompanied by none other than Jesus, who at this stage was a young boy. This title reveals the events of St Joseph's time at Glastonbury, and explores the legend behind this intriguing story.
Originally posted by pieman
yikes!! your going down a woolly path. it might be best to go back to that last crossroads.
to start with, glastonbury's in england, not ireland. more importantly, the gastonbury myths are a middle-ages invention to draw pilgrims. link
as for who brought christianity to the british isles and when, it's a rabbit hole, but if you search celtic christianity in wiki you'll have a good starting point for research.
you'll see that there wasn't a whole lot of roman orthodoxy until later, around the ninth or tenth century, hundreds of years after patrick. and there probably never were any snakes in ireland either, but thats a whole other ball game.
i think your looking in the wrong place if you want to discover pauls role in the early church.
The theory requires that there should once have been seven paths going completely round the Tor, all running along continuous terraces, with vertical connections between them. Weathering, trampling, and shiftings of soil and strata have made parts of this hypothetical scheme a matter of conjecture. Yet terraces can indeed be distinguished at seven different levels, and while they are not now continuous, they are more nearly so than a glance might suggest. Effects of light and shadow, variations at ground level, make it difficult to take in the whole system at any one time or from any one angle. Sometimes a path is hard to recognise when one is on it, yet easily visible from a distance. Sometimes a terrace is almost indiscernible from a distance, yet well defined when looked at from directly above or below.
Ariadne, fell in love with the brave youth from Athens, and helped him escape. She devised a plan and gave Theseus a ball of yarn (mitos) so he could find his way through the Labyrinth and kill the monster Minotaur.
Originally posted by pieman
i hope you don't mind me picking holes where i see them and, now i'm thinking, i hope you won't mind me adding my thoughts.
The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise roughly 850 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran, near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The texts are of great significance, as they are practically the only remaining Biblical documents dating from before A.D. 100.
It was long fondly imagined by Protestant and especially by Presbyterian writers that the Culdees had preserved Celtic Christianity, free from supposed Roman corruptions, in one remote corner of western Europe. This view was enshrined in Thomas Campbell’s Reullura:
Peace to their shades. The pure Culdees
Were Albyn’s earliest priests of God,
Ere yet an island of her seas
By foot of Saxon monk was trod.
Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been - the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the "Holy Wells" that still bear this name.
The suggestion that Saint Patrick went a bit cuckoo is down to earth and very realistic. After all, Christianising a pagan community is a burden (the phrase hell of a job would be suitable yet inappropriate) and escaping the stressful mission by spending several weeks without food or company exposed to the elements on a barren hilltop, might have caused undesirable side effects. We really have to consider the, rarely proclaimed and unpopular, option that hallucinations were the worst enemies of Saint Patrick on the Croagh Patrick.
The other, and widely accepted, reading is a metaphorical approach by which Saint Patrick didn't actually chased away black birds nor snakes, but instead he defeated whatever they represented. Unfortunately the storytellers and subsequently the scribes left us in the dark with an implicit metaphor as a result of which no modern man really knows what they implied, but broadly speaking there are two interpretations, both of which can be traced back to vanquishing dark powers of the ruling pagan religion.
A caduceus (/kəˈduːsiəs/, -ʃəs, -ˈdjuː-; kerykeion in Greek) or Wand of Hermes is a typically depicted short herald's staff entwined by two snakes in the form of a double helix. In addition this staff is often winged. It was an ancient astrological symbol of commerce and is often depicted being carried in the left hand of Greek god Hermes, also known in Ancient Egypt as Thoth, the messenger and herald of the gods, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. The caduceus is sometimes inaccurately used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America, but the traditional medical symbol is the rod of Asclepius with only a single snake and no wings.
Since the 19th century attempts have been made to connect early Christianity and Pythagoreanism with the Essenes: It was suggested that Jesus of Nazareth was an Essene, and that Christianity evolved from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared many ideas and symbols.
According to Martin A. Larson, the now misunderstood Essenes were Jewish Pythagoreans who lived as monks. As vegetarian celibates in self-reliant communities who shunned marriage and family, they preached a coming war with the Sons of Darkness. As the Sons of Light, this reflected a separate influence from Zoroastrianism via their parent ideology of Pythagoreanism. According to Larson, both the Essenes and Pythagoreans resembled thiasoi, or cult units of the Orphic mysteries. John the Baptist is widely regarded to be a prime example of an Essene who had left the communal life (see Ant. 18.116-119), and it is thought they aspired to emulate their own founding Teacher of Righteousness who was crucified. However, J.B. Lightfoot's essay (On Some Points Connected with the Essenes) argues that attempts to find the roots of Essenism in Pythagoreanism and the roots of Christianity in Essenism are flawed. Authors such as Robert Eisenman present differing views that support the Essene/Early Christian connection.
Sicarii (Latin plural of Sicarius 'dagger-' or later contract- killer) is a term applied, in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, (probably) to an extremist splinter group to the Jewish Zealots, (or insurgents) who attempted to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea:
Groups of zealots lived all over Palestine and were variously called Zadokites, Zealots, Sicarii, Essenes and Nazorenes. This word comes from "Nozrei ha-Brit": "keepers of the Covenant" which gave "Nozrim": a sect later known as Christians. Jesus was a Nazorene; he did not come from Nazareth, which did not exist at the time. The zealots were militant revolutionaries organising resistance to the Romans and their puppets.