14 Jan 2013 
#32 Richard Carrier and earliest Christians "copying" pre-dating Jewish concepts of a suffering & dying (for a purpose) messiah: Part 1

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Richard Carrier wrote in http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1440/:
"The evidence from the Talmud cannot be dismissed so easily. If b.Sanhedrin 98b explicitly says the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 is the messiah (and it does), and if b.Sanhedrin 93b says the messiah will endure great suffering (and it does), and b.Sukkah 52a-b likewise has a dying-and-rising "Christ son of Joseph" ideology in it (and it does),  ..."

I examined these three texts:

A) Babylonian Sanhedrin 98b, http://www.come-and-hear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.html
98a mentions numerous times the messiah is the Son of David. This is repeated again in 98b (among other identifications). But this messiah is never said to be the suffering servant of Isaiah, not even a dying or/and a suffering one.

B) Babylonian Sanhedrin 93b, http://www.come-and-hear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_93.html 
The messiah (to appear in the future) is said he will suffer (but also accomplish good deeds), but this suffering is not mentioned in relation to death (with no mention of sacrifice for whatever).

C) Babylonian Sukkah 52 a-b, http://juchre.org/talmud/sukkah/sukkah3.htm#52a
There are references to a messiah, son of Joseph, slayed and rising, the later through a request to God by another messiah, this one being the son of David (expected to appear in the future). But I do not see anything here which connects the messiah, son of Joseph, to the suffering servant of Isaiah. And there is no mention here of suffering and atonement of sins.

So I do not think Carrier is right on what I quoted from him earlier, and about what he wrote later, relative to the aforementioned three ancient texts: "... They [the Jews] would not proclaim Isaiah 53 to be about the messiah and admit that Isaiah there predicted the messiah would die and be resurrected ..."

About the Jonathan Targum, (text in: http://religionatthemargins.com/2012/04/the-death-of-richard-carriers-dying-messiah/ under > The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel <)
As Carrier wrote, about "he delivered up his soul to death" in the Targum, referring to "he bared his soul unto death" of Isaiah 53:12: "it's entirely possible Jonathan chose an ambiguous phrase precisely so he could have it both ways (concealing the death from ignorant hearers, without contradicting that death in the presence of informed hearers)." This is precisely what I think: Jonathan was likely trying to soften up this death, even to hide it, but without overly contradicting the passage found in 'Isaiah'. Why? because, otherwise, Jonathan transformed that suffering servant of Isaiah into a highly successful traditional messiah. And that mention of death (if any) is without associated sufferance or atonement of sins.
So it seems Jonathan did not like that suffering servant of Isaiah, and then, after declaring him messiah, changed him into a future conquering and ruling very powerful king of Israel, having subjected the nations. So that goes against Carrier's theories on the matter.

About 11Q13, (text in: http://religionatthemargins.com/2012/04/the-death-of-richard-carriers-dying-messiah/)
This particular text has been the subject of considerable discussions between Richard Carrier and Thom Stark. This is mostly due to the missing parts and the ambiguities in the existing ones. However, even here, there is no mention of the suffering servant of Isaiah (Isaiah 52:6-10 is NOT 53:1-12!). The messiah here is "one anointed of the spirit" who is also a messenger "who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion "Your divine being reigns"." with no hint of violent death for a purpose, even if he seems associated with the messiah(s) of Daniel 9:25-26.

I want to conclude here these Jewish concepts of a messiah (or two of them) are not about expectations about a suffering messiah sacrificing himself for others. Even if these aforementioned texts pre-date Christianity, the first Christians could not have copied that kind of messiah, because he simply did not exist there.
And all these would-be messiahs to come are described as earthly humans, and not as heavenly entities (certainly not favoring Carrier's mythicist case!).
Furthermore, any notion of suffering death for atonement of sins does not exclude a real human truly crucified on earth. I mean that later, the earliest Christians could have adopted that sacrifice for sins (with the alleged resurrection) and stuck it on someone who had been executed, in order to fashion their initial messiah (but that's not what I think!).
However there is a possibility, if "messiah, son of Joseph" (slayed and then to be resurrected by God and another messiah, a son of David) was known by early proto-Christians, that might have encouraged them to accept a crucified Jesus as raised from the dead and still a messiah.

See Part 2: how Jesus' crucifixion got to mean sacrifice for atonement of sins.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {Carrier} {messiah} {mythicism}
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