June 24th, 2011

Still Looking

I'm still looking. I found a Taoist text about the reasons why the writer (who was pretending to be Laozi) wrote in parables- and it was a lot like something Jesus is supposed to have said- and then I found the Taoist text dated from the 7th century.

I was directed to a parable (again I think it was Taoist) that was supposed to parallel the parable of the sower. Apart from both texts using agricultural imagery I couldn't see the resemblance.

I think that's how it's going to be. The material Jesus or his ghost writers are supposed to have plagiarised is all going to turn out to be not very similar and/or of a later date- so that it's more likely the writers were cribbing from the New Testament.

Of course the New Testament cannibalises a lot of Jewish scripture- both canonical and apochryphal. Of course it does. But there's nothing dishonest in that. The earliest readers would have recognised and approved the borrowings. The writer's whole point is to show how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. 
 
I was expecting my researches would undermine the uniqueness of the Christian scriptures. What has happened is the reverse. They have brought home to me just how new and fresh the gospels are.

On The Other Hand

On the other hand, one of the reasons the gospels seem so "new and fresh" is that most of the contemporary literature we might have compared them with has disappeared. We know the Hellenistic world was awash with biographies of pagan holy men- but only one survives-  Philostratus' Life of Appolonius of Tyana.
 
Similarly, none of the Pagan mystery cults with which Christianity is often compared has left any scriptures behind.  All we have of them is their archaeology. Did Christianity borrow from Mithraism or the cult of Attis? We can only guess.