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Switch to Forum Live View The book "Kosher Jesus"
2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:06AM #51
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

May 4, 2012 -- 10:26AM, Lilwabbit wrote:



I disagree. Selfless love is not being indifferent to oneself. Selfless love doesn't mean not to love oneself. It means not to love oneself for an orgastic buzz, but rather for the image of God that we are.




BS"D


That sounds pretty good to me.  I know of another tradition from another culture whose notion of selfless love is sacrificing oneself to save another.  But that culture never had nor ever could condone suicide bombers let alone the slaughter of innocents in the name of their god.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 3:14PM #52
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

May 4, 2012 -- 2:17AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


none of the Tanakh verses you quoted place quite the same emphasis on loving one's enemies,



Yes, it's much better. Religion is not chanting hi filutant aphorisms. The Torah does not just say love your enemy, but gives a practical example, teaching by example: 


Exodus 23:4-5: If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him to lift it up.


May 4, 2012 -- 2:17AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


nor do they explicitly talk about love as the greatest of all commandments, as do the following verses from the gospels.



Also incorrect. 


Psalm 89:3. He built the world upon loving-kindness. 


And, as mentioned, Hillel and Rabbi Akiva confirmed it long before a handful of gospel writers sat down and tried to reconstruct what they remembered of the past. 


(Note: regarding your earlier post that the gospels were allegedly written down before the oral tradition, you are scholarly waters if you did not say that Judaism enjoyed a rich oral tradition, one that was not just informal folklore but a formalized system already well established for a couple of thousand years before the Mishnah. It was not a couple of gospel writers trying to reconstruct the past. It was a living tradition, with checks and balances, peer review, and ultimately tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of disciples in any generation sitting in academies and gatherings learning it, memorizing it, applying it and passing it on. Rabbi Akiva and Hillel did not make up their emphasis on love. They had countless open statements in the Torah and a rich oral tradition with which to work and with which they diseminated to others.)


May 4, 2012 -- 2:17AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Now, you are free to call Jesus' view on love distorted, but it is a forteriori different in its orientation and hence, by logical syllogism, this different orientation cannot be based on the Hebrew Bible, even though there are similarly-worded individual passages in the Hebrew Bible. And since the orientation (whether distorted or not) is different from the Tanakh, it is justifiably "new" for the Christians.



It was new for people who were ignorant of the full concept, the fuller one that Judaism had long employed and long emphasized. Monotheism (well, at least Trinitarianism) was also new to Romans, their friends and countrymen. But it was not new. 


Christianity was an improvement over paganism. We are not necessarily unhappy that their founders (Jews) drew many great ideas, especially about love and social justice, from the well of Judaism in an attempt to improve the lives -- espeically the morals -- of the Roman empire and the non-Jewish world at large. But they did not create something new; they did not bring something new into the world. Maybe it was new for mafioso Roman pagans, but that says more about where they came from than what they claim to have created.


It's kind of like Europeans say Columbus discovered America -- uh, Chris, there were all these Indians and Eskimos and Mayans and Aztecs living there, not to mention the Vikings came much earlier. But to a Christian European he discovered America. 


I've said it a few times, but it sums up the argument here: If it's true, it ain't new. If it's new, it ain't true. 

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 3:46PM #53
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,901

JAstor,


Please demonstrate by objective evidence that the Talmudic mentions attributed to Hillel and Akiva draw on some flawless ancient oral tradition preceding Jesus. Once you have, then you can claim that Mark's earlier mentions (by at least two centuries) are likely preceded by Jewish beliefs to that effect. Your personal belief to that effect has been repeatedly set forth and repeatedly deemed irrelevant. I don't have time to continue such a fruitless contest. Your belief simply doesn't count as objective evidence, inasmuch as the Buddhist and Hindu belief in the flawlessness of their respective oral traditions don't count as objective evidence to a non-Buddhist or a non-Hindu. Boy, have I heard the same argument from the Buddhists and the Hindus while living in Sri Lanka! Plus, the original discussion was about Tanakh, not Talmud. To state that Jewish oral transmission is somehow free from error, temptation to trivialize other traditions, temptation to insert personally convenient "interpretations", or temptation to insert as "Sinaitic" novel ideas learnt from others is simply not reasonable from an impartial scholarly standpoint. Maybe your fellow-Jews (and I seriously doubt all) are convinced by such arguments.


Furthermore, in all honesty I must state that none of your citations to date seem to me as explicit nor as powerful as to (1) the two greatest commandments and as regards (2) unconditional love as the ones I just cited from the gospels which are attributed to Jesus. At best, they implicitly imply something that Jesus explicitly sets forth and stresses with great power and beauty. The explicitness and power are new. And none of your citations (not even the alleged Hillel and Akiva) mention two commandments as the greatest like Jesus seems to. But your tireless effort to prove me wrong is appreciated.


Kind regards,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 5:12PM #54
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

May 4, 2012 -- 3:46PM, Lilwabbit wrote:


JAstor,


Please demonstrate by objective evidence that the Talmudic mentions attributed to Hillel and Akiva draw on some flawless ancient oral tradition preceding Jesus.



It's not so much that I have to demonstrate evidence that matches your definition of objective, but more that you have to be somewhat of a Talmudic scholar to understand the confluence of evidence. 


A good place to start, other than joining a yeshiva for a year or two, or even reading some serious scholarly books on the subject, would be to conduct a study of at least some of the many other statements attributed to Hillel and Rabbi Akiva to at least determine if these statements about love attributed to them are consistent with other things they said. In other words, is it plausibe to say they said it? Is it possible that their other statements are so consistent with these that it is implausible to suggest it was retro-attributed to them. 


Now, if your starting point is more basic, such as doubt that the Written Torah came with an Oral Tradition or that that tradition was passed down with unusual accuracy (where we are able to verify it) then we can go in that direction. 


You're certainly very smart, probably smarter than me, but you do need more background than what you have demonstrated here to evaluate even in the most basic way whether the statements attributed to Hillel and Rabbi Akiva were authentic. 

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 6:29PM #55
howiedds
Posts: 2,687

vra:


(OK, Howie, I won't call them "love Pharisees" just to please you; however...).


LOL! 
I missed its usem but I knew if only would wait long enough....


Gut Shabbes, my friend

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2 years ago  ::  May 05, 2012 - 1:17AM #56
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,901

May 4, 2012 -- 5:12PM, JAstor wrote:


May 4, 2012 -- 3:46PM, Lilwabbit wrote:


JAstor,


Please demonstrate by objective evidence that the Talmudic mentions attributed to Hillel and Akiva draw on some flawless ancient oral tradition preceding Jesus.



It's not so much that I have to demonstrate evidence that matches your definition of objective, but more that you have to be somewhat of a Talmudic scholar to understand the confluence of evidence. 


A good place to start, other than joining a yeshiva for a year or two, or even reading some serious scholarly books on the subject, would be to conduct a study of at least some of the many other statements attributed to Hillel and Rabbi Akiva to at least determine if these statements about love attributed to them are consistent with other things they said. In other words, is it plausibe to say they said it? Is it possible that their other statements are so consistent with these that it is implausible to suggest it was retro-attributed to them. 


Now, if your starting point is more basic, such as doubt that the Written Torah came with an Oral Tradition or that that tradition was passed down with unusual accuracy (where we are able to verify it) then we can go in that direction. 


You're certainly very smart, probably smarter than me, but you do need more background than what you have demonstrated here to evaluate even in the most basic way whether the statements attributed to Hillel and Rabbi Akiva were authentic. 




JAs,


Thanks for your explanation and your kind comments, but you're now offering Talmudic scholarship as a source of objective evidence for the flawlessness of the oral tradition that the Talmud draws on. In science that would amount to purely anecdotal evidence which suffers from palpable pro-bias (a devout believer in a certain book or an expert on its religious contents offering "educated" views as to its reliability as a flawless oral tradition). That's subjective "evidence", not objective. Objective evidence would be reliable ancient records plausibly indicating an unbroken Jewish oral tradition and unravelling a rigorously applied method of Jewish oral transmission which can be independently verified, after careful analysis, as remarkably error-averse, free from the human fallibility and temptations I mentioned in my earlier post. The very fact that (1) no extant pre-Markian Jewish records exist that contain a similarly explicit love emphasis and similarly unconditional love statements as Mark and Matthew, and the fact that (2) the closest Jewish parallels are attributed posthumously to relative contemporaries of Jesus, only cast further doubt to any claim that such statements have an ancient Jewish history predating Jesus. What's more, neither of these relative contemporaries, Hillel nor Akiva, stressed loving God as the greatest commandment (but rather the love of man which Jesus also mentioned, but secondary to loving God) nor did they discuss as explicitly or as powerfully the love of one's enemies as Jesus did. There's a difference of degree, explicitness and emphasis on love if you would compare these verses impartially. In any case, the necessary impartial scholarship to establish the truth of error-free oral transmission would fall under the spheres of anthropology, archeology, Levant history and redaction-criticism. Not rabbinical or Talmudic scholarship.


But I do not want to rob you of your belief in the flawlessness of your oral tradition. I think you derive a lot of good from your belief and I would never begrudge you for it. And frankly, I have no opinion as to who's smart, smarter or smartest. I've certainly been outsmarted in my life and hold intelligence as no great standard of human worth.


I think we can wrap this debate up too. Our respective positions have become abundantly clear, and your position has earned my respect even though I may not agree with it.


Let me just finish with one point that may be of relevance. Let me for a second dispense with science and scholarship, and rather focus on the spiritual. When I read the Tanakh without prejudice and without all sorts of personal fancies and selfish attachments, many parts of it speak to me with beauty, power, wisdom, depth and truth that is beyond the best creative capacity of human devices. I'm sure if I understood Hebrew the effect would be even greater. To me these are the real proofs, the spiritual proofs, that much of Torah indeed draws on a divinely-inspired source. They are very personal and direct proofs rather than those allegedly "objective" proofs that are based on dry and technical intellectualizations. The story of the sacrifice itself speaks to me in this spiritual sense. But not as a historical narrative. Similarly, parts of the gospels, the Qur'án and, of course, the Bahá'í Writings speak to me thusly. To me that's the only real proof of their divine inspiration, whether or not I regard them all as accurate records of original revelations or not. But I do not claim that this proof is objective. It is purely subjective. But it is very real to me. And ultimately upon this powerful subjective proof my faith in God firmly rests. Not on cold rationalizations.


With kind shabat regards,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  May 07, 2012 - 5:54PM #57
JRoadrunner
Posts: 4,829

May 5, 2012 -- 1:17AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Thanks for your explanation and your kind comments, but you're now offering Talmudic scholarship as a source of objective evidence for the flawlessness of the oral tradition that the Talmud draws on. In science that would amount to purely anecdotal evidence which suffers from palpable pro-bias (a devout believer in a certain book or an expert on its religious contents offering "educated" views as to its reliability as a flawless oral tradition). That's subjective "evidence", not objective.



I never said flawless. You are creating a strawman, if you think that is what I am saying. If you go back to my post, you will see that I am talking about plausible, vs. implausible or certainly less plausibe. I am saying that it is more plausible that the statements by Hillel and Rabbi Akiva said in their time, not afterward as a polemic against Christianity.


And I am also saying that your ability to evaluate that, no matter how smart you are, is severely hampered by your unfamiliarity with what really goes on in the Talmud. A high schooler cannot evaluate an indept argument between physicists on Einstein. He may think he can, but he cannot. They can give him "objective" evidence that what they are saying is true but if the ideas are subtle he does not have the tools to properly evaluate -- to say it is true or untrue. 


One of the reasons that it is highly implausibe that the statements of Hillel and Rabbi Akiva were retroactively attributed to them is that the entire thrust of the Talmud, and especially the numerous teachings of Hillel and Akiva in numerous areas, is in fact geared to and based on the fact that love your neighbor as yourself is the great principle in the Torah. I know that because I see it all the time in so many ways. You may call me subjective, but you are not qualified to say either way or even that this is not objective. You lack the knowledge base. So you will either have to learn a lot fast or trust me or continue to assume I am subjective but at least be honest and acknowledge that you have no way of knowing. 


May 5, 2012 -- 1:17AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Objective evidence would be reliable ancient records plausibly indicating an unbroken Jewish oral tradition and unravelling a rigorously applied method of Jewish oral transmission which can be independently verified, after careful analysis, as remarkably error-averse, free from the human fallibility and temptations I mentioned in my earlier post.



We can start another thread on this (I'm sure there's so old ones buried here), but just to supply a quick answer: An oral tradition by definition is very hard to verify in the absolute terms you suggest, but it is not impossible to verify that where possible it stands the test of reason. I'll just mention a couple of examples:


-- the Masada Scrolls and even the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by an heretical sect, confirm the authenticity of the masoretic text, which itself is subject to thousands of details in Jewish law


-- archaeological discoveries of tefillin (phylacteries, or little black boxes containing parchments of verses that believing Jews put on at once a day) in Masada and other places. The oral law contains perhaps some 5,000 detailed laws that determine if tefillin are kosher or not. Yet, the tefillin they found in Masada and other places are identical down to the smallest detail.


-- achaeological studies of ancient mikvahs (ritual baths). They found these too in Masada, and the literally hundred of details necessary for a kosher mikvah, recorded in the Talmud and oral tradition, have been verified


-- Other archaeological discoveries of a similar nature include the blue dye of tzitzis (fringes worn on garments), Jewish oral traditions against idol worship (e.g. ancient plates Jews used that had been captured from Romans but disfigured to be in conjunction with Jewish oral tradition found in the Talmud.


There are other examples. But the point is that where we have found evidence to match up with the oral law we have incredible detailed verification. And that is for the oral tradition that has passed through 2,000 years of bitter exile, dispersion and persecution; how much more then is it plausible to say that the tradition was more or less intact during the previous 1,000 years of sovereignty in the Land. 

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2 years ago  ::  May 08, 2012 - 2:33AM #58
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,901

Meep, Meep upon the spanking new J!


I am saying that it is more plausible that the statements by Hillel and Rabbi Akiva said in their time, not afterward as a polemic against Christianity.



Even if that were the case, you're not really addressing my points in my previous post. I took this argument already into account and you didn't really address the specific points that I set forth in my previous post. Neither does any of your archeological evidence plausibly prove an unbroken line of reliable oral transmission since we don't have the original "Sinaitic" accounts (from the 2nd millennium B.C.) to compare with. The Dead Sea Scrolls and similar later (than Sinai by at least 7 centuries) manuscripts only attest to a much later written tradition which insured that later versions (to these manuscripts) were pretty close to these manuscripts. But they really offer no evidence as to the reliability of the preceding oral transmission. Neither do they explicitly set forth loving God as the greatest commandment, as Jesus does. Not even loving man. So they're really beside the point.


I also addressed your point on Talmudic scholarship as "objective" evidence, and even admitted that ultimately subjective evidence that speaks to our heart is the most powerful evidence of all.


But I'll leave you to it and pursue the matter no further. I would only frustrate you by repeating what I've already told several times over.


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  May 08, 2012 - 9:55AM #59
JRoadrunner
Posts: 4,829

May 8, 2012 -- 2:33AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Meep, Meep upon the spanking new J!


I am saying that it is more plausible that the statements by Hillel and Rabbi Akiva said in their time, not afterward as a polemic against Christianity.



Even if that were the case, you're not really addressing my points in my previous post. I took this argument already into account and you didn't really address the specific points that I set forth in my previous post.



I'm not sure which specific points you refer to. I thought I covered them. But the point you seem to be avoiding is that you do not have the tools to evaluate, objectively or otherwise, the chronology here of Judaism's love ideal. 


I would think that a true scientist -- a person truly seeking objectivity -- would at least spend a good amount of time studying the oral tradition of Judaism on his own to determine what its love ideal is and when it may have begun before drawing any conclusions. You have not even quoted scholars on the subject of the the oral tradition and/or the life and teachings of Hillel, etc. You have just presented your own theory that it was retroactively ascribed to him.


That would be fine if you didn't go ahead and claim that there is no objective evidence here. 


The truth is that you do not have the tools to make that assessment objectively. You are entitled to your opinions, of course. But this attitude that you know enough to say that the statements of Hillel and Rabbi Akiva were later interpolations is disturbing to a person who sees you as intelligent and otherwise fair-minded.


You seem to have attached yourself to the axiom of progressive revelation. As your axiom, you have to say that Christianity came up with something new that did not exist in Judaism. Fine -- you are entitled to your assumptions. But, your "there is no objective argument" about the pre-existence of everything Christianity says about love and more already in Judaism is not something you have the tools to say about one way or the other.

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2 years ago  ::  May 08, 2012 - 10:01AM #60
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,901

May 8, 2012 -- 9:55AM, JRoadrunner wrote:


You seem to have attached yourself to the axiom of progressive revelation. As your axiom, you have to say that Christianity came up with something new that did not exist in Judaism. Fine -- you are entitled to your assumptions. But, your "there is no objective argument" about the pre-existence of everything Christianity says about love and more already in Judaism is not something you have the tools to say about one way or the other.




Fair enough J, let me rephrase. It is my understanding (maybe flawed) that loving God is not explicitly stated as the greatest commandment in any extant manuscript preceding Mark and the letters of Paul, nor is such a tenet ascribed in the Talmud to Hillel and Akiva respectively. My claim is not that the stress on loving man by Hillel and Akiva wasn't genuine. I only suggested the possibility that even that may be regarded in redaction-criticism as Christian influence on the development of the Talmud. But I can readily accept that there may be valid reasons to reject such a theoretical possibility.


But the burden of proof for providing objective evidence that Judaism had it (i.e. loving God explicitly stated as the greatest commandment) covered before Jesus is on the claimant. You haven't provided such evidence. I have no doubt that subjectively this is your conviction. Just as subjectively I am convinced that Jesus was sent by God to guide mankind after Moses, only to be followed by others. Both of our ultimate convictions are subjective of course.


But as I said, I won't pursue the matter any further, despite your next response (famous last words!)...

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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