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RE: orion-list orion Royal House of Adiabene

On Sun, 17 Oct 1999 23:15:27 -0400 (EDT), Sigrid Peterson said:

>>One of the objections to Eisenman is that (like Thiering), much of what
he writes is off-topic for the Orion list. That probably applies to the
following points made by David Hindley, as the last paragraph of his
comments on Eisenman:

> Hindley:
> [I]t is notable that in spite of the fact that NT
> Christians were mostly Gentile,

Most of the people portrayed in the NT, particularly in the Gospels, were
in fact Jews, or Jewish followers of Jesus. We have no accounts of the
people of Antioch who called themselves Christians, only Luke, in the book
of Acts, calling followers of Jesus "people of the Way."

Many of the Jews portrayed in the NT had Greek rather than Hebrew names,
however, which is the source of some confusion.<<

"Off topic" may be a matter of opinion. Eisenman, until _James_, had been
concerned with the identification of the DSS sect and what connections, if
any, it may have had with early Christianity. In _James_ he attempts to
infer what the sects' position might have been regarding Gentile
associations with Jews, and relate this to the dispute that the NT books
of Acts and the letters of Paul indicate that Paul had with James. James,
in Eisenman's view, subscribes to a world view very similar to that found
in the "sectarian" DSS. As counterpoint, he tries to do the same thing for
Paul, but in contrast to James purported "sectarian" influence, he looks
to models taken from Hellenistic Judaism.

It does not appear at all sure to me that "[m]ost of the people portrayed
in the NT, particularly in the Gospels, were in fact Jews, or Jewish
followers of Jesus." The NT writings demonstrate entirely too many
anti-Jewish traits to be the products of actual Jews.

In the case of Jews who became gnostics, any criticism found in the
Gnostic literature is directed towards the Jewish understanding of their
God and world cosmology, not at the people themselves. I cannot, off the
top of my head, think of any statements in the Nag Hammadi Library similar
to something like 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16:

"For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ
Jesus which are in Judea; for you suffered the same things from your own
countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus
and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all men
16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved --
so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God's wrath has
come upon them at last!" (RSV)

That kind of statement represents the extreme, but most of the theology of
the NT presents itself as from the perspective of a Gentile, as if
Gentiles had been designated "heirs" to the promises made to Abraham, at
the expense of the Jewish people. But getting back to the point, those
Gentiles had at one time or another been drawn towards an essentially
Jewish movement centered around Jesus. Why did they associate? What kind
of Gentile was likely to respond? Did they convert to Judaism and later
recant, or did they associate around the periphery?

>>[Peterson continues:]

> very little attention seems to be paid
> to the dynamics behind a prime example of Gentile conversion, that of
> the royal house of Adiabene,

The royal house of Adiabene, including the mother, Helen, and the son(s?)
Izates and Monobasis, converted to Judaism, as recorded by Josephus and
remembered in the Mishna. I am not aware of any documentation that they
(then) became Christians. Are you? Is Eisenman?<<

No, he does not equate them with Christians, but I did not intend to make
that link either (see above). However, the matter of the conversion of the
house of Adiabene is central to Eisenman's analysis. The differing
approaches that the two Jews who had close contact with them illustrates
this. One emphasized association short of conversion, while the other
urged them to fully convert (which they ultimately all did). Eisenman uses
this as his model for interpreting the dispute between James and Paul. For
specifics, I can only refer you to the index of his book, which is fairly
detailed and too extensive to reproduce here.

>>[Again, Peterson continues:]

> or of the influence of the Herodian style
> of religious observance on Paul's teachings. Yet these are thematic in
> Eisenman's book _James_. We need more of that kind of thing, in my
> opinion.

I do not have my copy of Eisenman's JAMES with me; does he indeed say
those things you've attributed to him?<<

The issues related to the way that Herodians practiced Jewish religious
observance enter the discussion because Eisenman sees Paul as a Herodian
retainer, and how their approach to associating with Gentiles contrasted
with the "keep at arm's length unless they fully convert" approach (which
is strictly my own characterization of his position, BTW) he sees the DSS
sect holding and evidenced in the position attributed to James. Paul as an
associate of Herodians can be found on pp. 349-50, 389, 412, 441, 656, and


Dave Hindley
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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