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Earliest known date attached to four Gospels
#28
Shlama all--

While I am no diplomat here obviously on this sensitive issue, for the record I applaud Nimrod and others who are able to be so and contact their priests. Even if they say no or tell us the mss is gone, that will be revealing in and of itself. One must wonder if the current Pope or JP2 knew about these things. If not, I can have little hope we will have more access/information than they did. It may be the RCC decided long ago that for whatever reason keeping these mss in the dark was better for them than getting some glory from the Jewish and Christian worlds. But on the other hand, we live in remarkable times, and YHWH may bring things into His season that we can't imagine now. Certainly Aramaic Primacy over the past 10 years has proven that to be true.

I need everyone here to remember what we know are facts in this case, what the RCC and other interested parties have said from their own mouths, and most of you know I have this documented in my books and in AENT, so I won't reproduce that here, but just take a look at the Catholic Encyclopedia at <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.newadvent.org">www.newadvent.org</a><!-- w --> and know I am not making this up. So here is the review:

1) Around the same time that the oldest Greek NT fragment was written (125 CE) ironically with Pilate's question, "What is truth?" on it, the rabbis of the Talmud testified to seeing Gospels with the specific name of YHWH in them. We know these are NAZARENE Gospels because they say so, even going so far as to distinguish them from Evyonim works which they clearly prefer theologically. The cite in Mas Shabbath 116a is attributed to Rabbis Akiba and Tarfon--and put simply it doesn't get more important or credible than that. Tarfon is the one who debated Justin Martyr in Ephesus and referenced his familarity with what may be a Hebrew form of the book of Revelation (long story). Akiba was the spiritual leader who backed Simon bar Kochba in the Second Jewish Revolt. These are giants in Jewish history, akin to Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, writing about Matthew's Gospel before his death in the year 73.

2) In the years after the Bar Kochba Revolt we know the Romans officially took over the Jerusalem See, and put a guy named Markus as Nasi (supreme assembly leader, like Ya'akov haTzadik). We have an unbroken chain of leaders in Jerusalem from Ya'akov through Markus and beyond that NO ONE questions.

3) During this same time frame we have Papias talking about Matthew writing his Gospel in Hebrew letters. We have Hegisippius talking about a "Syriac Gospel" that he saw in Israel and took back to Rome, and other testimonies of Hebrew/Aramaic Gospels in Caesarrea and as far as India by the time of the 4th century, attributed back to as early as the year 52. The confusion of the Church Fathers between Hebrew style script and actual linguistic dialect and the interchanging of that terminology with Syriac or Aramaic dialects must be viewed as one of the best evidences for these mss that Assemani may be talking about.

4) The diary of Hegisippius (or his bio) tells us plainly that he shuttled these mss from Israel to Rome over a 50 year period, ending I think about the year 185. No more than a quarter century later the first person in the West, Origen, quotes the Peshitta exclusive reading of Hebrews 2:9 and no one blinks an eyelash. Same thing happens when Origen's student, Eusebius, publishes his history on the early church. Then Jerome comes on the scene and confirms that a whole Hebrew collection of even Paul's letters may have existed. We can parse and debate as to how extensive that collection was but remember the canon lists were well established for the most part at this time.

5) Now add to this the fact that when Pantaenus around this same period talks about Hebrew Gospels he saw he also critiques the Nazarenes and includes a statement that, "they use not only the Old Testament but the New as well" with NO FURTHER clarification. The statement, when pieced together with the other evidence here, can only mean that the NT Pantaeunus knew was the SAME NT the Nazarenes knew and that he may have seen in some Semitic script.

These are facts people. This is the history of the RCC, by the RCC. The works I am referring to, things like On Famous Men, Ecclesiastical History, Hypoptyposes, Against Heresies, all these things and hundreds more are some of the best resources we have from the period. So if I am guilty of anything, it's accepting the traditions of the Roman Church! How do you like them apples?

So between Jerome's time and now, what the @!&* happened? They didn't expunge their records but they didn't advertise it either. They neither came right out and said these mss (and perhaps others, like the fact Matthew may have written his Gospel while ministering in Ethiopia or Mark's unfinished Gospel in Alexandrai Egypt that Keefa edited, I could go on) were destroyed nor made them available to the rest of the world.

I will tell you what I think happened. In the year 410 the Visigoth Alaric sacks Rome and this is basically the end of classical civilization and the start of the Dark Ages. Never mind that much of the Christian relics were moved to Constantinople or transferred back to Jerusalem to Constantine's churches. A remnant of this history has always been with the Vatican, and they kept combing the planet to bring these mss into their library on a nearly continuous basis.

The RCC has a long established habit of locking things away. The Shroud of Turin is supposed to only be seen twice3 a century, for example. And like any world class museem, most of the artifacts are kept away from the public until a small amount are released in exhibits.

But it is my opinion that the RCC was afraid that they would be attacked for these holy items by other interests. First there was the rise of Islam which eventually took out Constantinople. Then there was a period of near constant war all across Europe. We're talking Hundred Years War, Napoleonic Wars and in this mix the rise of Protestantism and counter-reformation vis a vis the Jesuits. This stuf is going on without break to the end of the 19th century. Then we get WWI and WWII. So when is the Vatican going to think a good time will be to release this information? When will they feel safe?

Well, maybe, just maybe, right now, or maybe in the near future when some of our crises have abated more. Time will tell. It won't so much be a matter of current global conditions changing as it is the RCC has been changing--or trying to--since Vatican II in 1967. I think they are looking for opportunities to reconcile with groups they used to persecute, as JP2 visited Yad Vashem and issued edicts blessing the Jewish people. This Pope we have now seems at least publicly as open as his mentor John Paul was. I don't know that for a fact of course, but I have read the one book he has written since becoming Pope and it sounds mostly okay. But then I hear about "Plan G" and I don't know what to think.

Still, there is enough going on out there that we can have some hope. If that means being nice (others I mean) then for the moment that will be fine. But if they say no, Paul Younan and I have the history behind us and can easily take pen in hand if need be.
Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth
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Re: Earliest known date attached to four Gospels - by Andrew Gabriel Roth - 03-20-2009, 08:37 PM

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