Talk:Cultural and historical background of Jesus/Archive 2

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Archived from Talk:Cultural and historical background of Jesus - Amgine 20:57, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Jesus and the religious groups

The section "Jesus and the religious groups" takes a POV, including assuming Jesus exists. Could someone render this NPOV please? CheeseDreams 09:34, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This whole article is written from that point of view. I added a link to the article on theories that Jesus did not exist in the lead section and removed the NPOV tag. (Those tags should be stuck at the beginning of the article, not in the middle of a sentence, I believe.) I think that the article would become unreadable if every use of the word "Jesus" had to be qualified. Mpolo 10:55, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
It was more the phrase "Jesus was Special, perhaps even Unique" that seemed extremely POV to me. I put the tags where they were so that it was clear which segment of the document was not NPOV, rather than having people have to read the whole thing to notice. CheeseDreams 10:58, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Well, the phrase does say why it used that term. But I don't see any problem with "being bold" and softening this. The point seems to have been that Jesus is the only known Jewish rabbi who didn't belong to one of those groups. But the wording is not the best. Mpolo 16:58, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
Urm, does Paul not count as a Jewish rabbi? Though Paul is identified as a Pharisee, his history of attachment to the Temple actually implies him as being a Saducee, wheras many of his letters indicate Essene leanings. In addition, there are also Jesus ben Ananias, who was just mad. CheeseDreams 19:49, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
this article discusses the cultural and historical background of the central figure in christian theology, for other uses, see Jesus (disambiguation) which mentions Jesus ben Ananias... Some articles of necessity include a POV, without affecting their NPOV this article clearly references other articles that deal with whether Jesus did or didn't exist, whether he was or wasn't killed on the cross, whether he did or did not found a church, whether he was or was not divine. I am of the opinion that it's not at all neutral to say things like Jesus, who may not even have existed is said by some to have lived in the first century AD, although the date of his alleged birth is not known, because nobody knows if he existed, but some say, and others disagree, that he was a great teacher, and possibly even what some choose to term a holy man, though others would call him a rabble-rousing troublemaker whose so-called church is still wreaking havoc on the world, although some say that the church is actually a benefit to the world, even though it may (or may not) be a later corruption to "Jesus"' teachings, which some say are found in the Bible, although bible really could mean any book. This style, while literally correct, and possibly "NPOV" is valueless, as quite aside from being annoying to both devout Christians and Anti-Christians, it is so opaque as to render the text unreadable.Pedant 03:02, 2004 Nov 3 (UTC)
I do not like this section either. But if the article is to be seriously academic, it should NOT spend too much time on theories that Jesus did not exist. It is not necessary to qualify references to Jesus at all. That Jesus existed is not a type of radical POV in any way, considering the scholarly consensus. The non-existence of Jesus is radical POV, and has little, or no, scholarly support. An example of a theory that Jesus never existed: http://pages.ca.inter.net/~oblio/home.htm. Such a theory can be mentioned in the article, but only in passing. Even the ultra-liberal Jesus Seminar which has lately represented scholarly and ‘unbiased’ opinion about the historical Jesus, never questions Jesus’ actual existence. John Dominic Crossan (one of the big names in the Jesus Seminar, and a renown scholar who rejects 80% of the historical info found in the gospels) has written in his book “Who Killed Jesus?” (HarperSanfrancisco, 1996): “Jesus death by execution under Pontius Pilate is as sure as anything historical can ever be…if no follower of Jesus had written anything…we would still know about him from…Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus…one major Jewish historian and one major pagan historian who both agree on three points concerning Jesus: there was a [Jesus] movement, there was an execution [of the leader] because of that movement…there was a continuation of the movement” (p.5). Crossan, writing as an historian, concludes these three very basic facts are historically undeniable. These three facts are also harmonious with canonical and non-canonical references to the historic Jesus. Considering the early dates of Josephus (37-100 CE) and Tacitus (55-117 CE), as well as of the gospels, the existence of Jesus is at least as historically founded as any other ancient historical figure, if not more so. Josephus was indifferent toward the Jesus movement, while Tacitus was hostile. (For references to Jesus in Josephus, see “Jewish Antiquities,” 18:63, and in Tacitus, see “Annals” 15:44). Therefore, it is academically respectable to assume the existence of Jesus, and quite extraordinary to do otherwise. -------- Nevertheless, much of the rest of this “Jesus and the religious groups” section is totally unsubstantiated, so it should be eliminated completely. Instead, the sections about the various ancient Jewish groups (Pharisses, Zealots, etc,) could be expanded with more details regarding the possible relationship between them and the historic Jesus. Other groups can be added to the discussion, such as the peasantry of Gallilee, the Temple priestly elite, and the Romans. Paradiso 03:45, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Tacitus is disputed, and the comment in Josephus is known to be a forgery of Eusibius. For a vast list of other writers who, tellingly, did NOT mention Jesus, despite being contemporary, and other such discussions see the talk page for Historicity of Jesus and the section on it called "Where is the evidence?". I don't think discussing whether or not there is evidence is appropriate here. CheeseDreams 13:30, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Main article Josephus on Jesus FT2 13:54, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

Son of Man

In the Son of man article it is quite clear that the Hebrew's understood the term to be perfectly ordinary as a reference and not at all apocalyptic. Therefore the phrase "apocalyptic Son of Man" implies a POV. CheeseDreams 09:38, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Look at the use of "Son of man" in the book of Daniel, where it is an apocalyptic title, then compare Matthew 26:64, where one of the apocalyptic visions of Daniel is quoted by Jesus with reference to himself. I reworded the statement in this article to reflect that "Son of man" doesn't have to be apocalyptic. The fact that it can be apocalyptic means that it would be POV to take it out. Mpolo 13:35, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)

A general point

Is it possible to remove the mention of Jesus from this article, as it is rather irrelevant to the subject matter, and to change the article to Cultural and historical background of early first century Palestine? (but keep the links which point to it) CheeseDreams 11:02, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Well, the article was created specifically as a daughter article of "Jesus". That is, the only reason the information is in the encyclopedia at all is to free up space in that article. We don't have an article on Cultural and Historical background of Palestine at the time of David, for instance. And the points of Jesus' relationship to his cultural ambit would totally lose their place if he is excized from this article... Which would force us to repeat a good portion of this information back there so as to give it context. Mpolo 13:39, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
My point was that Jesus only seems to be in the article in phrases like "in the time of Jesus". This seems somewhat irrelevant, and we could just put "in the early 1st century" instead. CheeseDreams 15:12, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Except in the section you object to above, which says how Jesus related to each of the political/religious groups of his time. I have no problem in principle with turning "in the time of Jesus" to the early 1st century, but the purpose of the article, and indeed the only way anyone is ever going to find this article, is to complement the Jesus article. Mpolo 16:58, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
It is also background to the 1st Jewish revolt against rome, a significant historic event, and should be accessible from whatever that page is called too. As well as providing background to the Zealots, John-the-Baptist (note that Christian perspectives on John the baptist are not the only ones, there was a large 1st&2nd century religion composed of followers of John the Baptist as Messiah), and Simon Magus. CheeseDreams 19:49, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think it might be not be inappropriate to move the article to ...in the early 1st century, but bearing in mind that this is a subarticle to Jesus, and that its intent is to remove content which is not NPOV in the context of THAT article to this article, whose intent is to shed light on the culture of that time as relates to the other Jesus articles. However, the article is too narrow in scope to cover the entirety of the early first century in Judea, and maybe would be more appropriate to create an entire article on Early first century Judea culture and history, and use that to link from pages where references to Jesus would be taken as being non sequitur to the article which links to it. In other words I think we should keep this article, not touch on whether Jesus existed or what he taught etc... but keep any mention of Jesus, when it is relevant as mentioned above. Additionally, a writer might create a history and culture article, which does not mention Jesus, or at least is not so Jesus-centric. This article in necessarily Jesus-centric because it is about Jesus. Bajoran Wormhole doesn't keep dwelling on the fact that most people in their right minds are certain it does not exist. Because it's about the Bajoran Wormhole, whether it does or does not exist.Pedant 03:16, 2004 Nov 3 (UTC)
This is a worthwhile article related to the historic/cultural context of the birth of Christianity, and the historic movement surrounding Jesus, so of course is should be developed as such. An article on the history of ancient Palestine (Alexander the Great, Hellenism, Roman occupation/destruction of Jerusalem, the Maccabeas, etc.) would be highly worthwhile, and should be linked with this article.Paradiso 04:24, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Duplication

Is it further possible to tidy the article up a bit and reduce the section on religious factions to summaries, pointing to the main articles Sadducees, Pharisees, Essene, Zealots CheeseDreams 11:04, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Those sections are there to give context to the part about Jesus' relationship with these groups. Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia, so we can have a certain amount of overlap to make things easier on the reader. Mpolo 13:39, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
I was bothered by the rather large extent of the section. I.e. it seems a bit too big, given that these things have their own articles anyway. CheeseDreams 15:13, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
They can probably be reduced, just as long as we provide context. Mpolo 16:58, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)

Recent edits/reverts (after 1st November 2004)

I made a few more changes, including deleting the passage on Pharisaic hope for a Messiah. Many Jews looked forward to a restoration of the monarchy, and the Pharisees were not special in this regard. Slrubenstein

The Pharisees developed into Rabbinic Judaism. Also, the Pharisees sought out converts. These are historical facts, don't change them. Slrubenstein

The Pharisees also developed into every other form of Judaism, there being no other form surviving the Jewish Rebellion. This is why I used the all encompassing phrase "later forms". CheeseDreams 22:50, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
During the early Rabbinic period, Christianity was also a form of Judaism. Karaism is a form of Judaism that developed separate from Rabbinic Judaism and Phariseism. It is true that Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Judaism are forms of Rabbinic Judaism, but it is anachronistic and misleading to say they are forms of Phariseism. Slrubenstein
Not all members of those groups would consider themselves Rabbinic Jews. I have not stated they are forms of Phariseism, but that they developed from it. Chemistry developed from Alchemy, but that doesn't mean that chemists are looking for the Philosopher's Stone.CheeseDreams 23:32, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I deleted the short paragraph on Messianic movements because it is not based on critical historical scholarship; we have little datra about such things. Slrubenstein

Yes it is. We have quite a lot of data about such things. Particularly from Roman records of people they arrested and executed/tried for being leaders of such movement. There is also a great deal of independant witness for the existance of John the Baptist (significantly more than for Jesus in fact), such as the Mandaeanists, who, not only existed during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, but still exist. CheeseDreams 22:50, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What are the contemporary Mandean documents? If you want a paragraph that presents what critical historians accept, I have no objection. The earlier paragraph was vague. Slrubenstein
Unfortunately the early Mandean documents are not named, and only survive as fragments. The main later compilation of them is called the Ginzra Rba. This is similar to the way the original seperate New Testament texts do not survive, but a later compilation of them called The New Testament does.
However, Mandaen beliefs were well documented by early commentators, including most of those who commented on early christianity (other than the christian commentators, who were not that interested). The evidence suggests that the Mandeans pre-date the Christians (to well into the 1st century BC), with John the Baptist being a particularly charismatic leader of them. CheeseDreams 23:32, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It was not called Palestine until after the Bar Kochba revolt. Slrubenstein

Indeed. However, the Romans referred to the whole area as Palestine, and putting in the names of all the bits is somewhat silly. Particularly as the article surrounds both periods of time. To change the name of the area half way through the article would be confusing, particularly to people who skim articles. The single name Palestine is simpler to understand than having to use multiple names each time. Maybe there is a style guideline somewhere which could clarify the thing to do here? CheeseDreams 22:50, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I see no problem with using the terms used at the time -- more precise, and avoids anachronisms. I agree the article should be consistent and went through it to make appropriate changes. If I missed any, feel free to fix it. Slrubenstein
I would use the single word term, rather than the many word term. I do not see what the objection to "Palestine" is. This is the name the country has had for centuries. Maybe you would prefer something like "the Levant", though this term includes an even wider area? CheeseDreams 23:32, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Just a note there, although I can see the sense in calling it "Palestine", it's quite misleading in this context. It suggests modern Palestine. But to the Romans I think Palestine was a region, a bit like we might say "the Middle East" or "the Gulf". People will read references to "Palestine" and believe that it refers to the same basic entity as the modern state of the same name. If we are going to use that name (which makes sense), we should call it "Roman Palestine" and note clearly that this is not related to the modern state of the same name. FT2 21:57, Nov 3, 2004 (UTC)

The phrase "Some Skeptics and X" is disputed as to what X should be. The current edit that I made where X="historians and theologians" is an attempt at a compromise between the two different views X="including some scholars" and X="scholars and historians". Please do not change it to X="including some scholars" as this is POV. Neither should you change it to X="scholars and historians". This was discussed above in the section "some scholars". If you have a better compromise then suggest it here, do not make unilateral POV changes. CheeseDreams 22:50, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The article should not open with a Christian POV. This article reflects the views of critical historians, not religious partisans. "Gospels" refers to a text that is an important historical source for this period. Slrubenstein

The title of the article is Cultural and historical background of Jesus. The first sentance is According to most Christians, Jesus lived in the first century in Judea, and was, at least in part, shaped by the cultural and political forces active at that time. This points out (a) the time frame of background and (b) that the background matters. I do not see why this is POV, or an acceptable introduction. CheeseDreams
"According to most Christians" presents a Christian point of view. Indeed, according to most historians (critical ones) Jesus lived in the first century and was shaped by his cultural milieu, so we can say that. It is still a bland general sentence. The other opening starts with the primary historical source for this article, presents what historiqans can claim based on that text, and then explains how further claims are based on other sources -- very logical and indeed representative of how historians work. Slrubenstein
According to most Christians indeed presents a Christian view. But that is the point, so it is not POV. The phrase "According to most historians Jesus lived...." implies Jesus existed. This is disputed by many (predominantly non-Christian) historians, including it therefore is POV and to be avoided.CheeseDreams 23:32, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Nothing in Cheese's response to my explanation for changes justifies his wholesale revert. Moreover, he reverted without responding to my additional explanation. On some issues perhaps he has something to contribute, but it should not be done by reverting what I added. I suggest some others chime in, and we discuss the central issues here for a while. Why don't you think about thinga a bit, Cheese, before instantly reverting? Slrubenstein

For the reasons outlined above (not all of the things above relate to this, some are on less POV issues), many of your changes are highly POV. Particularly cutting the section on other Messianic figures. Therefore I consider it vandalism. Thus the revert to what is more NPOV.
In addition, this is an article about background not about Jesus. Mentioning what Jesus did or didnt do (and certainly as if it was definitely true, which many people would dispute) is irrelevant POV. If you wish to mention Jesus did this and people reacted thus, do so in the Jesus article.CheeseDreams 23:32, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

First, I explained why I cut the few sentences on messianic movements -- it was too vague and unsubstantiated. This is not vandalism. Second, Yes, this is an article on Jesus' background. Jesus is very much at the heart of this article. It spun off from, and is linked, to the Jesus article -- it was spun off as a way to keep pages from getting too large. Look at it this way: this is NOT an article on the Cultural and historical background of Gamliel, or the Cultural and historical background of Hillel. It is not just an article about an arbitrarily selected time and place -- the time and place were chosen specifically to relate to Jesus. Slrubenstein

First, you shouldn't cut it, merely edit it to "but this is somewhat unsubstantiated", which, if you read my inline replies above, you will see is not actually true. It is VERY substantiated, far more than non-biblical evidence for Jesus.

You miss my point. If it is as substantiated as you say, then it should be rewritten to be clearer and put back in -- which I suggested you do yesterday.

Cutting the section implies that Jesus was special in being a candidate for being a Messiah. Having the section shows that this is not the case, and, as shown above, the section fits the evidence. Cutting it shows POV.

Even without this specific section the article makes clear that Jesus was not unique as a candidate for messiah. Indeed, the article suggests he may not even have seen himself as a candidate for messiah.

It is indeed linked and originally from the Jesus article, however, it is able to serve many purposes, as good encyclopedias ought. To have a Cultural and historical background of Hillel, Cultural and historical background to the Jewish Rebellion, and Cultural and historical background to John the Baptist, and many other possibilities beside, when almost 100% of the information in the article covers all of these is unnecessary duplication. In addition, not having such duplication means that these things can combined, and the knowledge of people in those articles pooled, to produce a much better article.
It is also an article about background. The proper place for details of Jesus, things that "happened" to him (remembering that historicity is contested), etc. is the Jesus article. Duplicating that information, can be perceived to be creating a rival article for that information on which you are able to put a POV slant because the contributers to the main article are not watching. CheeseDreams 20:00, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

FOr you to write "The proper place for details of Jesus, things that "happened" to him (remembering that historicity is contested), etc. is the Jesus article." shows that you did not read my comments carefully and that you really misunderstand the situation. This entire section used to be part of the article on Jesus. It was made a separate article precisely because the Jesus article was getting to be too long (and hard for somepeople to open up) and we decided to remove parts of the article to separate but linked articles.

The point though is that it isn't part of the Jesus article NOW. There is no real necessity for it to be restricted to Jesus' background rather than that of others such as Hillel, or the Jewish Rebellion. In addition there is great gain from NOT restricting it. CheeseDreams 23:57, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
P.s. could you comment in one of the final sections (can't remember which one) of this talk page, as it will make the whole thing clearer to other people (you are quite welcome to copy my reply above into that section)?

Cheese Dreams, please stop trying to force your edits on this page

Major edits to stable articles must be agreed upon in Talk: first; please respect this Wikipedia norm and work throught the change process here. Jayjg 02:17, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Because you have protected the POV version of Cultural and historical background of Jesus rather than the NPOV version, I think this is an abuse of adminship. I have referred the case for arbitration. CheeseDreams 08:57, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Cheese, a suggestion: stop identifying any change you make as NPOV, and any change someone else, in this case I, makes as POV. I happen to think your changes are bad and wrong but I do not think you are acting in bad faith. You must live in a dark wolrd indeed if you think youa re always right and everyone else is always wrong. Slrubenstein
Very amusing: "Pot, Kettle, black". See also Jayjg's edit history. HistoryBuffEr 18:35, 2004 Nov 3 (UTC)
Here is a quote from the arbitration-
OTOH Jayjg did revert to one side's version (not the pre-edit war version: see diff) before protecting, which admins are not supposed to do when both are equally belligerent in the edit war, which was the case here. (I've since reverted the article to the last version before the present dispute started.) I agree that this is a misuse of admin powers, but it certainly could have been an honest mistake rather than an intentional abuse. —No-One Jones (m) 09:24, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am of the opinion, given some of the other edits that Jayjg has made, and a comment on his talk page by Slrubenstein, that Jayjg made the change to support his POV, and then protected it. It is possible that he made an honest mistake, but I find it odd that the version he chose should have been by Slrubenstein, whom I was having the "edit war" with, which was an edit AFTER I made my first change.
The POV abuse of Jayjg has now been fixed. So I think we ought to work on discussing the issues - see the sections below.CheeseDreams 19:45, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Summary of Key Issues

The page has been referred to arbitration and RFC, is RFC still needed? If so can someone summarise in a very few lines, what the key issue(s) are on which comments are sought. FT2 21:57, Nov 3, 2004 (UTC)

(a) Should specific asides about things that happened to Jesus be included in a background article?
  • For - It is the background to Jesus (Slrubenstein's POV)
  • Against - The article also covers the background (by virtue of geographic location/ timeframe) for many other events and people such as John the Baptist, Hillel, and the Jewish Revolt (CheeseDreams' POV)
(b) Should a section/paragraph/sentence about other groups who believed in (other) Messiahs at that time + place be included
  • For - These are one of the significant religious groups in the location at that time, and Jesus' actions/followers are comparable to them, thus they put Jesus' behaviour, and that of his followers, in context. (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Against - It is about Jesus' background not any other Messianic figure. (Slrubenstein's POV)
Note: I have no objection to a well-written well-researched paragraph on other messiaha -- my objection to the paragraph in question was not on principle, but on its specific lack of clarity and substance. Slrubenstein
(c) Should we say that "Rabbinic Judaism" followed on from Phariseeism, or that "Later forms of Judaism" did?
  • Rabbinic - The Pharisees developed into Rabbinic Judaism (Slrubenstein's POV)
  • Later forms - The Pharisees were the only surviving religious group after the Jewish Rebellions, so all later forms must in some way derive from them, even if they later rejected it. (CheeseDream's POV)
We have no absolute evidence for this. Some claim that non-Phariseic elements that would later form Karaism survived. Also, after the Jewish Rebellions, Jewish Christians -- who were definitely Jews, and definitely not Pharisees -- survived. Slrubenstein
(d)Should the area be called "Palestine"?
  • For - it (being a Roman Province) is the only all-encompassing term referring to the area. The alternatives are a collection of names for different areas, which is unwieldy. (CheeseDream's POV).
  • Against - Palestine refers to the modern day state of West Bank and Gaza. (Slrubenstein's POV)
Not quite. It was called Palestine a century after the rebellions too. But at the time of Jesus, it was not called Palestine. Slrubenstein
(e)Is the quote below NPOV
According to most Christians, Jesus lived in the first century in Judea, and was, at least in part, shaped by the cultural and political forces active at that time
  • For - This sentance points out both what the timeframe is, and that there is use in the content of the article for understanding Jesus. Given the title of the article, this is appropriate. (CheeseDream's POV).
  • Against - The article should not open with a Christian POV. This article reflects the views of critical historians (Slrubenstein's POV)
(f)Did the Jewish people in general consider pharisees living saints?
  • For - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
No, I never made this claim and do not know where it comes from. Why is this even here? Slrubenstein
  • Against - This seems like supposition, and there is no obvious evidence to suggest this is the case. (CheeseDream's POV)
(g)Is the phrase Son of man necessarily apocalyptic?
  • For - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
No, I never said it was necessarily apocalptic. ChesseDream is right that it had other uses. However, one of those uses was indeed apocalyptic. Slrubenstein
  • Against - see Son of man for other uses (CheeseDream's POV)
(h)Should the introductory sentence qualify Jesus may not have been real?
  • For - this renders the sentence NPOV (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Against - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
My position is that this article is meant to represent what most critical historians believe about Jesus. Most of them believe he was real, although of course we can add that some do not. Slrubenstein
(i)"at the time of Christ" or "this time"?
  • This time - NPOV because historicity is contested (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Time of Christ - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
This article was the section on what historians believe about Jesus, in the Jesus article. It was removed and made a separate "daughter" article only because the Jesus article was too long. If this article is turned into something else (not specifically Jesus) then we simply have to create a new article, on historians' account of Jesus'life. Checke the history of hte Jesus article. Slrubenstein
(j)Which of the following (A or B) is NPOV and accurate?
  • A Moreover, the followers of Jesus offered Gentiles a form of Judaism that emphasized the universal over the particular. When it became apparent that most of the Jews preferred Rabbinic Judaism (represented by the Pharisees), followers of Jesus turned primarily to Gentiles and emphasized universality even more.
  • B Unlike the Pharisees, followers of Jesus were willing to seek to convert people, and it is thought by some scholars that, during this period of mixing, Christianity adopted more universal interpretations, distancing itself from Jewish thoughts.
  • A : do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
In part, Boyarin's A Radical Jew. In part, books by other historians such as Fredriksen. It is not based on any Church doctrine -- I wrote this after reading books by critical scholars (some of whome were Jewish, some of whom may be Christian, but all of whom identified their work as secular history).Slrubenstein
  • B : A is based entirely on a Church based interpretation of the birth of Christianity. History shows a more syncretistic and vague development. Therefore B is better. (CheeseDream's POV)
The Pharisees sought converts, see Shaye Cohen's book on this period of Jewish history. Slrubenstein

CheeseDreams 23:18, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Summary of Key Issues

(Summary & Discussion archived by - Amgine 02:38, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC))

The page has been referred to arbitration and RFC, is RFC still needed? If so can someone summarise in a very few lines, what the key issue(s) are on which comments are sought. FT2 21:57, Nov 3, 2004 (UTC)

(a) Should specific asides about things that happened to Jesus be included in a background article?
  • For - It is the background to Jesus (Slrubenstein's POV)
  • Against - The article also covers the background (by virtue of geographic location/ timeframe) for many other events and people such as John the Baptist, Hillel, and the Jewish Revolt (CheeseDreams' POV)
(b) Should a section/paragraph/sentence about other groups who believed in (other) Messiahs at that time + place be included
  • For - These are one of the significant religious groups in the location at that time, and Jesus' actions/followers are comparable to them, thus they put Jesus' behaviour, and that of his followers, in context. (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Against - It is about Jesus' background not any other Messianic figure. (Slrubenstein's POV)
Note: I have no objection to a well-written well-researched paragraph on other messiaha -- my objection to the paragraph in question was not on principle, but on its specific lack of clarity and substance. Slrubenstein
(c) Should we say that "Rabbinic Judaism" followed on from Phariseeism, or that "Later forms of Judaism" did?
  • Rabbinic - The Pharisees developed into Rabbinic Judaism (Slrubenstein's POV)
  • Later forms - The Pharisees were the only surviving religious group after the Jewish Rebellions, so all later forms must in some way derive from them, even if they later rejected it. (CheeseDream's POV)
We have no absolute evidence for this. Some claim that non-Phariseic elements that would later form Karaism survived. Also, after the Jewish Rebellions, Jewish Christians -- who were definitely Jews, and definitely not Pharisees -- survived. Slrubenstein
(d)Should the area be called "Palestine"?
  • For - it (being a Roman Province) is the only all-encompassing term referring to the area. The alternatives are a collection of names for different areas, which is unwieldy. (CheeseDream's POV).
  • Against - Palestine refers to the modern day state of West Bank and Gaza. (Slrubenstein's POV)
Not quite. It was called Palestine a century after the rebellions too. But at the time of Jesus, it was not called Palestine. Slrubenstein
(e)Is the quote below NPOV
According to most Christians, Jesus lived in the first century in Judea, and was, at least in part, shaped by the cultural and political forces active at that time
  • For - This sentance points out both what the timeframe is, and that there is use in the content of the article for understanding Jesus. Given the title of the article, this is appropriate. (CheeseDream's POV).
  • Against - The article should not open with a Christian POV. This article reflects the views of critical historians (Slrubenstein's POV)
(f)Did the Jewish people in general consider pharisees living saints?
  • For - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
No, I never made this claim and do not know where it comes from. Why is this even here? Slrubenstein
  • Against - This seems like supposition, and there is no obvious evidence to suggest this is the case. (CheeseDream's POV)
(g)Is the phrase Son of man necessarily apocalyptic?
  • For - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
No, I never said it was necessarily apocalptic. ChesseDream is right that it had other uses. However, one of those uses was indeed apocalyptic. Slrubenstein
  • Against - see Son of man for other uses (CheeseDream's POV)
(h)Should the introductory sentence qualify Jesus may not have been real?
  • For - this renders the sentence NPOV (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Against - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
My position is that this article is meant to represent what most critical historians believe about Jesus. Most of them believe he was real, although of course we can add that some do not. Slrubenstein
(i)"at the time of Christ" or "this time"?
  • This time - NPOV because historicity is contested (CheeseDream's POV)
  • Time of Christ - (do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
This article was the section on what historians believe about Jesus, in the Jesus article. It was removed and made a separate "daughter" article only because the Jesus article was too long. If this article is turned into something else (not specifically Jesus) then we simply have to create a new article, on historians' account of Jesus'life. Checke the history of hte Jesus article. Slrubenstein
(j)Which of the following (A or B) is NPOV and accurate?
  • A Moreover, the followers of Jesus offered Gentiles a form of Judaism that emphasized the universal over the particular. When it became apparent that most of the Jews preferred Rabbinic Judaism (represented by the Pharisees), followers of Jesus turned primarily to Gentiles and emphasized universality even more.
  • B Unlike the Pharisees, followers of Jesus were willing to seek to convert people, and it is thought by some scholars that, during this period of mixing, Christianity adopted more universal interpretations, distancing itself from Jewish thoughts.
  • A : do not know justification) (Slrubenstein's POV)
In part, Boyarin's A Radical Jew. In part, books by other historians such as Fredriksen. It is not based on any Church doctrine -- I wrote this after reading books by critical scholars (some of whome were Jewish, some of whom may be Christian, but all of whom identified their work as secular history).Slrubenstein
  • B : A is based entirely on a Church based interpretation of the birth of Christianity. History shows a more syncretistic and vague development. Therefore B is better. (CheeseDream's POV)
The Pharisees sought converts, see Shaye Cohen's book on this period of Jewish history. Slrubenstein

CheeseDreams 23:18, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Discussion of Key Issues

(a) Should specific asides about things that happened to Jesus be included

For meaning in this article, which IS the background article(yes, this is a daughter article to Jesus, relates to Jesus, we have agreed that this article is limited in scope, and that another article covering Culture and History of first century Judea or similar could be not only broader in scope, but need not mention anything not considered historic fact, ie., the existence of Jesus.

  • If I understand the question (which is very doubtful), then yes, the title is very fitting. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • No. If one article covers an historical period, and another purports to do the same historical period differenced only by using a religious figure in the title it would by definition be a POV article. The second article is not necessary, and would likely be in conflict on factual detail with the first. Amgine 06:04, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

My point though is that an article such as Culture and History of first century Judea (or wherever it ought to be called, as we are including other areas as well, see the "Palestine" question below) would be duplicating almost all the content of this article, except for the asides about Jesus. This will lead to people asking to merge the two, putting the Jesus bits back in the Jesus document, and moving the remainder (the majority) to the Culture and History of first century Judea or wherever.

This needless duplication and subsequent merging can be prevented simply by making this article Culture and History of first century Judea or wherever and removing the Jesus asides, which is why I think they ought to be removed.

In addition, they read very badly, assume one POV on interpreting Jesus, and look awkwardly inserted into the text. I think the NPOVness and readability would also benefit from their removeal. CheeseDreams 08:28, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

  • It seems most people do not consider this a problem. Accept the majority vote here, CheeseDreams. Gadykozma 15:07, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Check the history of the Jesus article. This article was originally a section on what secular historians believe about Jesus' life. It was spun off solely because the Jesus article was too long. To change it's nature amounts to deleting an entire article surruptitously, avoiding the VfD procedure. Slrubenstein
Wikipedia has a certain amount of duplication in it, which is not always a bad idea. If there ever is an article on 1st Cen. Palestine culture (or whatever we call it), it may duplicate much of this text (crediting this article's authors, of course) while excising some bits and adding others. I don't see that preserving this article with its clearly stated topic makes the creation of that hypothetical article any more difficult. In other words, I generally agree with Gadykozma, Mpolo, and Slr. Jwrosenzweig 21:17, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The antecedents of the article in question are irrelevent to its contents. The goal is to develop a web of encyclopedic articles, not ones which are bound to their genetive source. Although I am sympathetic to the arguments of Slrubenstein et. al., there is clearly no justification for forcing a christian viewpoint in these particular cases. And Gadykozma's call to question does not, I believe, follow ettiquette. Amgine 06:04, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(b) Should a section about other groups who believed in Messiah figures exist

Yes (yes, but as relates to the cultural background of Jesus, this does relate to Jesus and fits with the intent that the article provide background about 'the world Jesus lived in' -- bearing in mind that this article, while not necessarily presupposing the actual existence of Jesus as a historical figure, and may very well be about a mythical Jesus, is about the world in which he lived, OR at least about the time in which he is traditionally said to exist.)and not necessarily a section, could be a mention in great detail or just a small phrase, as far as it relates to "Jesus' context" the article is not about jesus, or messiahs, or christianity though, it is about the context in which Jesus lived or is traditionally held to have lived.

But for this article to work as NPOV there needs to be a special kind of disambiguation, along these lines:

this text:

"Jesus lived in the first century in Judea, and was, at least in part, shaped by the cultural and political forces active at that time."

Should actually say something along the lines of:

"Jesus is traditionally held to have lived in the first century in Judea. Without addressing Jesus existence as an actual historic figure, this article discusses the cultural and political forces active at that time. see: Historicity of Jesus for information relating to the existence of Jesus as a historical figure.

after that, the writer and editor may presuppose the existence of Jesus, for the purposes of this article only without violating either NPOV policy or religious sensibilities.Pedant 01:23, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

  • Yes. This is as relevant as it gets. Put a section. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes. This is relevant. Pedant's disclaimer looks fine to me. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
For the discussion of whether a historicity disclaimer should be included, please see one of the other sections below - I had included mention of historicity, but Slrubenstein removed it CheeseDreams 08:30, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes, but it needs to be more specific and clearer. My objection was to the earlier paragraph, but not to the idea. Slrubenstein
Then why did you delete it wholesale? CheeseDreams 21:26, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes. The individual movements may not need to be listed, but the phenomenon should be discussed, because the messianic expectation of the day is vital to this article, particularly regarding the relation between the Jewish groups and the Romans. It is relevant to this article about the cultural backdrop of Jesus because the fervency of the messianic expectation was a direct result of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, and went hand in hand with the social-political unrest at the time. ---- BUT, I think that Pendant’s proposed disclaimer is entirely unnecessary and would make the article look amateurish (see my discussion about "Jesus and the religious groups" section, near the top). Paradiso 05:57, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Although this isnt the place to discuss it, I think Pedant's disclaimer is a good solution to a few of the issues. However, I do consider that it needs tidying up a bit. CheeseDreams 13:34, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes. But concern about stating who "traditionally believed"... restating opinion as fact should be done with some specificity, not "some people believed". Amgine 06:09, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Whether we can state "Christians" as a disclaimer on "believed" is a subject discussed below. I would like to see it there. Others would not. CheeseDreams 08:14, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(c) "Rabbinic Judaism" followed Phariseeism, or "Later forms of Judaism"

I don't see either text in the article. Both are correct, but again, this is to provide context for the Jesus and the related constellation of articles, remember Jesus is a featured article candidate, and that all the articles in the constellation are of value.

If the statement serves to illuminate or explicate the context in which Jesus lived, or is said to have lived, it belongs in this article if it is factual. Otherwise it goes in one of the many related articles. We are trying to take a huge mass of controversal information and create a set of mutually beneficial pages, remeber, so if it is factual, it will have a place somewhere, if not here.

I'm not a scholar of either Judaism, or first century history, so unfortunately I personally cannot express an opinion without seeing the context. Of course, as Jesus was -- or is said to have been -- a Jew, or a member of the tribes collectively known as Israel (or whatever is the appropriate way to say that) then almost anything that has to do with Jewish teachings and beliefs can be said to have a bearing on the subject at hand.

CheeseDreams and SLRubenstein have both worked so tirelessly on this article I am certain they are not either of them trying to play out some hidden agenda, and I would feel honored if they would like some unofficial help in sorting this particular one out, I think I could well learn something. It doesn't seem to me that consensus is out of reach here, as both 'sides' of this discussion have valid points to make. You might do well to collaborate on some of the other articles in this area.Pedant 01:44, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

  • I cannot believe that they cannot solve this on their own. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Neutral. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
I would like some help in sorting it out. That is why I put these questions, and the RFC on the article in the first place. I think that if both statements are correct then the latter ought to be included as it covers the former as well, which the former does not. Neither are in the article, because they stem from a re-write that I originally made to improve the readability of one of the latter sections, and include explanation of where the Pharisees, Saducees, etc. went. CheeseDreams 08:33, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you want help in sorting this issue, you need to make it clearer what is the root of the disagreement. Suppose I were to ask you if what is better, "a week" or "7 days". You would want some context, wouldn't you? Gadykozma 15:06, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Please see the summary section above which should explain the context

I have responded to this question several times. It is a matter of historical accuracy and precision. I am tired of CheeseDream ignoring my explanation. Slrubenstein

We have no absolute evidence for this. Some claim that non-Phariseic elements that would later form Karaism survived. Also, after the Jewish Rebellions, Jewish Christians -- who were definitely Jews, and definitely not Pharisees -- survived. Slrubenstein
And they were definitely not Later, as they were then, not afterward. Thus not counted in "Later forms of Judaism". Could you explain/ provide a link for Karaism? CheeseDreams 21:21, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How about “Rabbinic Judaism was initially founded on Pharisaic traditions,” which is true specifically for rabbinic Judaism. “The Pharisaic tradition is the most important strand of what becomes after 70 CE rabbinic Judaism.” wrote the noted scholar RM Seltzer, in “Jewish People, Jewish Thought” (Prentice Hall, 1980). This discussion about rabbinic Judaism obviously does not have a place in an article about Jesus. But it does have a place in a discussion about the Pharisees, because Rabbinic Judaism was based largly on some Pharisaic traditions. The Pharisees as a group disapeared, but they left an important legacy. Paradiso 07:05, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

No, I think that is exactly the same thing as "Pharaseism developed into Rabbinic Judaism". I don't see how it could be considered any kind of compromise. CheeseDreams 13:36, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Pharasaism did not "develop" or "turn into" rabbinic Judaism, but there were Pharisaic teachings and traditions that were discussed within rabbinic literature and use as a foundation for rabbinic tradition by the rabbis. The rabbinic literature referes to the Pharisees as "sages," (hakhamim or wise men), and as "the men of the Great Assembly," and discusses debates between the Sadducees and Pharisees. For example, rabbinic literature from as early as the first century mentions Pharisaic brotherhoods that established rules regarding table fellowship. Paradiso 17:13, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Maybe the issue is what Cheese thinks a "compromise" is. I think he means something halfway between what I suggest and what he suggests. But this may not be the best thing for the article, and what is best for the article is the only issue here. I am always happy to add someone else's point if it is good, and to retract what I wrote if it turns out to be wrong. My problem with what Cheese wrote about the Pharisees was not its style, but its accuracy and precision. If someone can come up with a more accurate and more precise alternative to what I wrote ... great! Slrubenstein

Compromise is meeting somewhere in between points of view. "Pharaseism developed into Rabbinic Judaism" is your point of view, that is what you wrote and reverted to. It is therefore not a compromise position, it is very much a refusing to compromise position. A compromise would be more like Pharaseism developed into later forms of Judaism such as Rabbinic Judaism, which incorporates parts of both. CheeseDreams 23:09, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

"Phariseeism developed into Rabbinic Judaism" is correct not because I wrote it but because it is correct. Now let's look at your "compromise:" "Phariseism developed into later forms of Judaism such as Rabbinic Judaism." This suggests that (1) Phariseism developed into later forms and (2) one of these forms was Rabbinic Judaism, which implies (3) Phariseism turned into at least one other form which is not Rabbinic Judaism." Is this a factually accurate statement? Then what is the other form of Judaims Phariseism turned into, besides Rabbinic Judaism? Slrubenstein

(d)Should the area be called "Palestine"?

  • Against, unless that's how it was refered in the time Jesus lived. Since there are multiple names, the most popular name used by the ethnic group in which Jesus had been should be used. Revth 01:16, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Which area? For each given area, we should use the name that is customarily associated with the area at that time, with at most a parenthetical reference to it's modern name, and then only where there may be a confusion as to what geographical area is meant. In some uses, it may be better to use the political name rather than a geographical one, when referring to a location, depending on the context, and always remembering the focus of this article is as a background to the main article, and as a referent for understanding the culture and history within which Jesus is said to have lived. Anything else goes in a different article. If you have 'orphan text' that belongs "somewhere" but not here, feel free to paste it right on my user page, and I will gladly see that any factual info finds a good home, because it all has a place, if it's true.Pedant 01:54, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)
  • Palestine is the most neutral term even in modern context, and definitely in ancient context. Put a clarifying sentence if needed. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Palestine was the Roman province including Judah and Samaria (which were under direct Roman rule), as well as Galilee, Trachonitis, the Decapolis, and so on. Jesus' working was entirely within the Roman province of Palestine (unless we are to believe the theories that he went to India...). Thus Palestine (making it clear that we mean the Roman province, and not the modern territory) is more neutral and less unwieldy. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • I would prefer not to have to write "Judah, Samaria, Galilee, Trachonitis, the Decapolis,...." every time I want to mention the area, Palestine seems to me to be the neutral one word alternative. CheeseDreams 08:35, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • I am afraid Mpolo is wrong. Jesus did not preach in "Palestine," the Romans did not call it that until the following century. To call it Palestine is anachronistic and innacurate and certainly not NPOV. Slrubenstein
    • I thought that my sources indicated that the province of Palestine was erected in 6 A.D. However, looking more closely, it appears that from 6-41 only the regions of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria were under a Roman Procurator (what was his region called? It's not listed here...). Herod Agrippa ruled from 39-44, without a procurator after 41, also ruling over Galilee and Perea. At the death of Herod Agrippa in 44, the line of procurators governed the whole area minus the former tetrarchy of Philip. Official raising of a province of Palestine came with the Jewish Revolt, and shortly thereafter, the Romans took control of the tetrarchy of Philip as well. Well, that's a fine mess. Maybe we have to use the individual regions then... Mpolo 16:27, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • I think there are two other possibilities. The first is we call the area "Cisjordan" - which refers to the land south of Mount Hermon, west of the River Jordan/Dead Sea/Wadi Araba, and north of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba (ie what is now Israel and the Palestine Occupied Territories) or we use the anachronism - the first time we say "the area which became Roman Palestine in the mid-first century (and is now Israel and Palestine)" and then refer to it as Roman Palestine. Personally I prefer the latter, as I don't suppose most people will have heard of Cisjordan. --G Rutter 20:08, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Not quite. It was called Palestine a century after the rebellions too. But at the time of Jesus, it was not called Palestine. Slrubenstein
At the time of Jesus, it was not called anything at all. Bits of it were, but it is a ridiculous thing to require using all the names of the bits just to refer to the area as a whole. I think Roman Palestine is the best name so far, though I think the point about it not being Roman at the time in question is important. What about Levant, or is that too wide an area? CheeseDreams 21:13, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think Palestine and Levant both have their drawbacks (one is anachronistic, the other is I think too broad, as CheeseDreams suggests), but either is infinitely superior to any other formation I can consider. Israel is equally anachronistic, and any attempt to use time-appropriate terminology will inevitably result in having to list off several provinces any time the area is referred to generally. Frankly, I prefer either Palestine or Levant. If, for example, the name "New England" was not applied to the colonies of what is now the northeastern U.S. until 1800, I still think an article on the area prior to 1800 would have to find a formulation preferable to "The Massachusetts Bay Colony, the colony of Connecticut, the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the area which would one day be the state of Vermont, etc., etc." Ease of communication with the reader, in this case, will have to take precedence over the inaccuracy of terms (in my opinion), though of course the term should be explained when first introduced (and the inadequacy fo whatever is chosen should be made clear). Jwrosenzweig 21:23, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I still object to Palestine, as anachronistic. I agree that Levant is too broad IF we are talking about areas with a Jewish majority. IF we are talking about the region in general, however, I think Levant is a good suggestion. The fact is, culturally many of these issues apply to Jewish communities outside Eretz Yisroal, e.g. Alexandria. However, when talking about the historical context for Jesus, I think we should specify the Galilee, Judea, or Judea and the Galilee. These terms are important. For example, at that time there were significant differences between Judea and the Galilee that plays into some historians' analysis of the NT and accounts of Jesus' life. Right now the article doesn't go into this level of detail -- but all articles at Wikipedia are works in progress and hopefully someday someone will develop this aspect of the article. Slrubenstein

For what it's worth, Jesus did cross the Jordan a couple of times to go into Perea and the Dekapolis, according to the Bible, which lends more reason for using the broader term. Mpolo 08:24, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

Yes, it should be called Palestine in any article. A separate article about ancient Palestine (not just 1st century) would be beneficial, but it should discuss the ancient names for the areas. But “Palestine” could still be in the title, and in an article about the 1st century, since it is convential, even though it is anachronistic. For example, disussing the how the ancient Mongolians passed over the Baring Straight and spread southward through North and South america is also anachronistic, because centuries ago these places were not called the ‘Baring Staight’ or ‘North/South America.’ Yet, it is perfectly fine to use thes names when discussing ancient history. Paradiso 06:22, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(e)Is the quote below NPOV

  • Against. I don't see a justification for using Christian. Historians with various religious backgrounds does support this also. I propose Most historians as well as Christian here. Revth 01:22, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • It's POV (similar reasons to Revth) Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • this article needs a special disambiguation along these lines:

"Jesus is traditionally held to have lived in the first century in Judea. Without addressing Jesus' existence as an actual historic figure, this article discusses the cultural and political forces active at that time. see: Historicity of Jesus for information relating to the existence of Jesus as a historical figure.

    • or similar text establishing the context of the article and linking to the relevant article that discusses whether he existed or not, and also to the main 'hub' article. the article, is neither about Christianity nor religion and really there is not much need to discuss who it is that does or doesn't believe Jesus actually lived, the article is about the culture and events of the 'time in which jesus is said to have lived'. Pedant 02:05, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)
  • The quote is POV. It's limiting belief in Jesus' existence only to Christians, and considering the number of Jewish persons posting to this page right now supporting his existence, the statement is demonstrably false. Again, no problem with a disclaimer like Pedant's. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
I think Pedant's statement is an acceptable alternative CheeseDreams 08:40, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Misses the point. This article is the daughter article of the Jesus article that specifically provides a summary of what secular historians believed occured during Jesus' life. Again, check the Jesus article and its history. Slrubenstein

  • The quote is NPOV. It states the opinion of Christians, and does not encumber the opinions of non-christians. Amgine 06:23, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(f)Did the Jewish people in general consider pharisees living saints?

"Saint" is a relatively modern word... what actually is meant by the word 'saint' in this context? And is there evidence to support this assertion? I have seen none. If there is evidence that this is true, it might have a bearing on the subject. But, if there is conflicting evidence, and enough to warrant a whole article, it might belong elsewhere. Would it make this article better?

Everyone lives in a time where different people have different ideas. If the information bears on Jesus life, or how he was perceived at the time, or what kind of political climate he was dealing with, it's relevant. Jesus was not a Pharisee. But the prevailing Jewish attitude does have a place in this context. Focus on the subject at hand. Is it relevant to "what the world was like that Jesus lived in"? If not, it goes in a different article.Pedant 02:21, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

  • I put that line in the text. The terminology is probably not the best. The point is to contrast the common person's views of Pharisaism and Saduceeism. If someone has other evidence, I have no problem with changing this. My statement was based on Handbook to the Gospels by John Wijngaards. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
Is that book critical? Do you have a critical book which discusses the same point?CheeseDreams 08:39, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I do not believe "saint" is a Jewish, let alone Phariseeic, concept. Slrubenstein

I used "saint" in the general sense, as in holy. The Pharisees were zealous about obeying laws, etc. It would be only natural that the people looked up to them as examples of how to live. Now, maybe they didn't... The specific book I'm looking at here and now is a semi-popular distillation of critical arguments, so could well be in error. Mpolo 16:32, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

I am sure the Essenes and Sadducees believed they were fulfilling the law. Josephus does say the Pharisees were the most strict, but it is not clear what he meant. The general sense among historians is that the Pharisees did the most to apply law to ordinary life. This does not mean that most people looked to them as examples. I am sure that many Pharisees would have liked to think so, but there is no evidence. What we do know is that most Jews belonged to none of the parties Josephus identified. We also know that people of different parties avoided marriage with one another, which suggests a degree of isolation. An analogy: whatever you think (whether you think they are saintly or not), Hassidic Jews today are very sealous, but most non-Hassidic Jews in America do not look up to them. This does not prove that most Jews did not look up to the Pharisees, it only means that just because one is zealous does not mean others look up to you. I just don't think there is any careful research that provides a convincing case for this point. The Talmud (Rabbinic, not Phariseic per se but it includes the Mishnah, much of which reflects Phariseeic teaching) describes many Rabbis who were far from saintly. Slrubenstein

While no substitute is immediately presenting itself to my mind, "saint" is obviously a bad choice. While the word's connotations apply, I suppose, the word is very much associated with Christianity (and with a particular view of the afterlife). Some alternative word should be used. Jwrosenzweig 21:26, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think also we should make a distinction between "Pharisees" and "Pharisee Teachers/Holy-Men/Priests/Rabbis" CheeseDreams 21:30, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Why do you think this? Rabbi is a term that comes later than this period. Priests, teachers, and Pharisees are all different categories -- one can be all three, just as someone today can be a priest, a teacher, and a Democrat. But why create a portmanteau? It seems like lousy scholarship and inappropriate to boot. Scholars do best when they use local terms for description; moreover, Wikipedia is not a place for original research. We should rely on research done by others. What scholar has used the term "teacher/holyman/priest/rabbi?" Slrubenstein

Please stop deliberately misinterpreting. I was referring to "teacher/holy-man/priest/rabbi" as compared with "pharisee", I wasn't suggesting putting the phrase "teacher/holy-man/priest/rabbi" into the article, I was referring to instances where one of the terms was used. This is standard english usage of the solidus. CheeseDreams 08:19, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(g)Is the phrase Son of man necessarily apocalyptic?

Son of man is the main article for this question. In Cultural and historical background of Jesus it need not be fully explained, as this is a complex issue that is worth its own article. However, No, it is not necessarily so and this question and a mention of the fact that it's considered by some to be apocalyptic, and what is meant by apocalyptic in this sense, does have a place in the article.

Just not the whole debate, that issue goes in Son of man, since the phrase is important enough to warrant its own article, being of cultural significance even to the present day. Just enough to enhance the article, and tempt the reader to follow a link for more. The best encyclopedias encourage the reader to explore related topics. This is all the more true of the wikipedia, where following links is how we acquire new authors and editors. Isn't that what brought you to this article in the first place?Pedant 02:33, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

  • At one point the text indicated that there was a difference of opinion on the matter, stating that the term had been used apocalyptically in Daniel. The term Son of man is used both apocalyptically (Daniel) and non-apocalyptically (Ezechiel). In the Gospels (Matthew and Mark, trial before the Sanhedrin) it is used once in connection with an apocalyptic quote from Daniel, indicating that at least two of the Gospel writers saw it that way. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
Indeed, Mpolo and I came to a solution on this question. However, Slrubenstein unilaterally reverted it back, and it is currently missing from the article. CheeseDreams 08:42, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't believe I reverted it. Son of Man has various meanings, one of which is apocalyptic. Slrubenstein

No, I never said it was necessarily apocalptic. ChesseDream is right that it had other uses. However, one of those uses was indeed apocalyptic. Slrubenstein

Well it wasn't there when you did some of your reverts. Anyway, I take it there is concensus to put back in Mpolo's replacement for the apocalyptic bit? CheeseDreams 21:13, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

(h)Introductory sentence to qualify Jesus may not have been real?

  • For. There is no other place to write this that would seem appropriate. Revth 01:08, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Weak for. The formulation should reflect the fact that this is the a minority view. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • absolutely yes, but only once:

"Jesus is traditionally held to have lived in the first century in Judea. Without addressing Jesus' existence as an actual historic figure, this article discusses the cultural and political forces active at that time. see: Historicity of Jesus for information relating to the existence of Jesus as a historical figure." ...or similar text would do well as the first thing on the page, after that, just suppose that he did actually live... what world did he live in? and how would the world he lived in have responded to a man who did what he did? (or is said to have done)Pedant 02:40, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

Pedant, I would replace here "traditionally" with "usually" — this represent common views more precisely. Also the last parenthesis "(or is said to have done)" is unnecessary.Gadykozma 15:01, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Yes, but once, making clear that complete negation of his existence is a minority view. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)
Whether it is a minority view or not, and in what sense, is contested (as you can see in the Rev of Bru section on the (I think) Jesus talk page. I think it wise to avoid stating, in this article, that it is a minority or majority view. CheeseDreams 08:45, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Whether this is the minority or majority view is of atmost importance for maintaining neutrality. This question cannot be avoided. If you have arguments that show that a significant group claims that he was fictional, bring them here (or in the Jesus page and put a link here). Gadykozma 14:57, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

NO, fictionality or not belongs in the Historicity page, not here, or in the Jesus page. If the question cannot be avoided then put a link into the historicity page rather than take sides and say either "minority" or "majority". I think that taking one of those sides would be a POV thing to do in an article other than the Historicity one. CheeseDreams 21:21, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Slrubenstein added this justification into the summary above My position is that this article is meant to represent what most critical historians believe about Jesus.

My response would be No it isnt it is to represent what most critical historians think about the BACKGROUND to the timeframe and location Jesus is placed in CheeseDreams 21:12, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree about the point of the article. But nevertheless, if we are going to discuss Jesus as a hsitorical figure who was affected by his culture, we have to address briefly the question of Jesus' actual existence. It is not "non-neutral" to describe a view as being held by a minority of scholars -- after all, many truths were once minority viewpoints. While some may feel "minority" dminishes the importance of a viewpoint, I don't think we can be help captive by those people's feelings. Instead, we do the ebst we can to give the reader a sense of who holds a particular viewpoint, and let them judge. Exlpain that a minority of scholars doubt the existence of Jesus, and offer a link for them to examine the question in more detail if they wish. I don't understand why there would be any objection to this. Jwrosenzweig 21:30, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I have no problem with a "historicity is disputed" sentence/paragraph at the top of the article. Further, this requires that historicity/non-historicity is assumed at any point in the article, as that would be POV. Thus avoiding "Jesus was" or "had Jesus arrested". CheeseDreams 22:09, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The article should just say near the beginning that there is 'ancient literature' that refers to a person by the name of Jesus, followed by references to Josephus, Tacitus, and cannonical and non-cannonical Biblical literature. But if the article is to be seriously academic, it should NOT spend too much time on theories that Jesus did not exist. It is not necessary to qualify references to Jesus at all. That Jesus existed is not a type of radical POV in any way, considering the scholarly consensus. The non-existence of Jesus is radical POV, and has little, or no, scholarly support. Therefore, it is academically respectable to assume the existence of Jesus, and quite extraordinary to do otherwise. I've discussed this at more length above regarding the “Jesus and the religious groups” section. Paradiso 06:57, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Again, Josephus is known to be a forgery, and Tacitus is disputedly so. The only other ancient literature referring to a Jesus that matches the Christian one (as opposed to Jesus ben Pandira or Jesus ben Ananias etc.) is the bible. That Jesus existed is POV, whether radical or not. Wikipedia is supposed to be NPOV. CheeseDreams 13:40, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
There are Christological elements in Josephus that are suspected to be later editions, but his basic references to Jesus and the Jesus moement are not disputed to be authentic, and Tacitus' basic references to Jesus are also considered authentic. Paradiso 17:01, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
See Josephus on Jesus and Tacitus on Jesus. From what I have been able to tell, you can find well qualified academic historians who think these were complete or mostly forgeries, real entries that were tampered with later to various extents, to completely authentic. Granted, that Jesus existed is POV. It happens to be the majority point of view, whether you mean people in general or historians. That Jesus did not exist is ALSO POV. The way wikipedia achieves NPOV is to present both. It is also neutral and objective to report on who believes what, and the relative sizes of each group, as well as any other objective qualifications. (i.e., call historians historians and so on, but not subjective labels like "smart people think X whereas only morons think Y.")
Presenting both in an article other than Historicity of Jesus (or its sub articles) is unnecessary, and giving one of them with a higher weighting is POV. I have in fact read the articles you link to (and other relevant information), and
  • Tacitus only mentions Christians, and Christian belief, he DOES NOT evidence Jesus' existence itself (and he is at the wrong time to receive other than 2nd hand witness)
  • Josephus' text looks like a forgery by Eusebius - It matches Eusebius' argument, it matches 4th Century Christianity (and its controversies) much better than 2nd century (the earliest known details - there are no records of earlier), it uses words, style, and phrases that Josephus does not use anywhere else at all (which, according to Textual Criticism, is almost certain evidence of a different author), it sits awkwardly in Josephus' text which flows smoothly, and reads much better, if it is simply removed.
But that is irrelevant here.
  • Yes, there should be a qualifier in the introductory paragraph. Which appears to be consensus, despite digressions.

(i)"at the time of Christ" or "this time"?

Prefer neutral text, (we are not talking about Christ, which means the anointed one) We are talking about the culture and events of a particular time period, as relates to a particular figure... it would be appropriate to say he was called christ and explain the cultural significance to a person of that era of referring to someone as christ, not that he WAS Christ as that is another article.

I would be happier with a range of years, such as from 2BC until 10AD, or "early first century" , or whatever actual era the specific reference is to... because 'at the time of christ' presupposes both his divinity, the subject of at least 2 other articles, as well as presupposing that someone already knows the dates he lived. You wouldn't say "at the time of the inventor of the lightbulb" when referring to Edison, (as he may not have invented it/and I might not be familiar with the fact that many people think he did invent it -- and I may have no clue what time period you are referring to without some foreknowledge.).Pedant 02:50, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)

  • Certainly not "at the time of Christ". I think a mix of "at the time of Jesus", "at this time", "in the early first century", etc. is acceptable, neutral, and provides some variation in wording through the text. I wouldn't raise a fuss about using only one of the three. Mpolo 08:23, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

(j)Which of the following (A or B) is NPOV and accurate?

  • Both are POV. The first equates Rabbinic Judaism with the Pharisees with no apparent reason. The second uses the "thought by some scholars" to look more NPOV, but it is not even clear to which claim this refers. Gadykozma 02:44, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Both are somewhat POV and starting to wander afield from Cultural and historical background of Jesus, the subject of the article. It would be worthwhile to read User:FT2's version below, which is not perfect, but a great starting point. Since this is the last question I'm inserting a comment here that SLRubenstein and CheeseDreams did not ask for, but here it is. I think that if just the two of you together worked together in an attempt to reach consensus, and accuracy, that you could have the article finished by now, and in a fairly stable form that would be so good that most editors would do little more than copyedit it. If you keep running into edit conflicts with another user, that's a good sign that together you would make a good team. I know that sounds funky, but check it out. It works for me to consider the other editors as colleagues rather than opponents. It might work as well for you. Thanks for inviting me to this discussion, I look forward to seeing the finished product of your collaboration.Pedant 03:05, 2004 Nov 4 (UTC)
Please note that while I am contributing here, Slrubenstein is not here justifying his side of things. This makes working with Just the two of us really rather difficult. CheeseDreams 08:48, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Not happy with either phrase. I'd have to think a bit about an alternative. Mpolo 08:26, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

FT2's comments

  • Reads article and considers comments....

The way I find myself approaching this is, this is the cultural and historic background. Suppose I knew nothing about Jesus, was not religious, but wanted to assess the man in the context of the world he lived in, what would I need to know about that world. Thats where I come from, and that's my gut feel as to the test of what belongs here. With that in mind:

  • Specific asides about things that happened to Jesus - mention only if they are part of the context of life in that part of the world at that time and are necessary or helpful to understand Jesus' life. For example, if some information about Galilean villages or information on different views of the temple and priesthood were relevant to understand something in Jesus' life, then an aside to comment "this is relevant when considering X" may be valid.
But wholesale linking "this is the context and thats how it relates to Jesus", or POV'ing the background to omit things not mentioned in the gospels and include things not relevant to an overall understanding of the times, no, that's off topic. What would a neutral historian need to know of the 1st century world to place and assess Jesus's life in its context?
  • Other messiahs - yes, Jesus' was far from the only one, and it's important to see him in the context of many groups such as the Essens, and a society which believed in the last times and desired a messiah to save them from Rome.
  • Rabbinic Pharasees - don't know enough to comment, sorry
  • "Palestine" - see my comment above, in summary I'd say to call it "Roman Palestine", because its important to make very clear it bears little ancestral relationship or connection to the modern day state except the name. No point avoiding it: thats what the area was called. The key issue to avoid is confusion over what is referred to, given there is a modern state of the same name.
  • The opening sentence quoted isn't one I like. Try this: "Jesus is placed by Christian writers in 1st century Roman Palestine (an area comprising modern Israel, Palestine and Jordan), and within that region, principally in the Galilee, Jerusalem, and the wilderness and desert areas surrounding them." Then, go straight into a discussion of the cultural and historic background. Additional "link" sentences are unnecessary, and would just cause problems of wording.
  • No, in general pharisees were not living saints. They were simply one of several schools of teaching, a bit like different lines of Buddhism. Occasionally a specific rabbi would have been considered a holy man or a great man, but Judaism (splinter cults aside perhaps) did not revere any of these as living saints.
There should also be a wiki-link to Pharisee or Schools of Jewish Teaching or some such, which would help.
  • Son of Man - its not apocalyptic to me, but whats the context its in? Unless it is being discussed as a phrase which was part of the cultural context, I don't yet see it being a relevant item to the article.
  • "Qualify Jesus may not have been real?" See above - its sufficient that the writers placed Jesus in this context. That is why the context matters. The suggested opening sentence above handles the "was he real" issue by simply sidestepping it. What matters for this article isn't "was he real or not?" What matters is that those who believe he was, place him in a very specific 40 year period, which this article provides cultural and historic background on. So no opinion or qualifier is needed, his existence or otherwise actually isn't relevant to an article which when all said and done, describes selected cultural and political features of early 1st Century Roman Palestine. Saying "writers place him in..." is enough, and implies a degree of uncertainty.
  • "At this time". Neutral. We've specified the relationship of "the time" to Jesus' life already so its clear.
  • "A or B" - There's elements of truth in both, but more to the point, it's pretty off-topic. It is neither cultural context nor historic context for his life. It needs some fairly heavy justification to be in this article, and to my mind is misplaced. The question there is more to do with how Christianity grew after Jesus' death, its not relevant to understanding the cultural and historic context within which he lived. I think this is one of those items that has been kept here because its place here has not yet been seen as mistaken.
(Note: It may be worth reviewing the article for matters which are not in fact the context of Jesus' life, but actually the story of what happened to him, in connection with him, or after his death. To my mind these things don't belong in an article about the cultural and historic context of Jesus' life, they belongs in a different article about his life itself, or about the development of Christianity after his death)

Thats my RFC comments. FT2 02:15, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)

Side notes:

1) The "Pharisees" (their nature, place in society, viewpoint, political/religious agenda and role in Jesus' life) is greatly misunderstood by most people. Well worth being aware of if commenting on Jesus' life.
2) A more accurate combination of A+B for the curious: Originally the intent was to preach to the Jews. Some but not all requirements were removed, as it was felt that the new emphasis was on faith and not detailed laws. Thus there were 'Jewish Christians', Jews who believed in Christ Messiah. When the Jews as a community rejected this, the Christian message was taken to the gentiles instead. To make it palatable, and draw a line separating them from the Jews (who were by now becoming politically dangerous associates) many more of the restrictive laws were removed and the emphasis was shifted. The mesage that reached the gentiles was therefore a more universal one, in the sense that it was easier to digest, its appeal was more emotional than legalistic, and it did not contain many of the practices beliefs and rituals by which the Jews kept themselves separate from others. FT2 02:44, Nov 4, 2004 (UTC)


the nature, and title, of this article

CheeseDream and I disagree over the nature of this article. If I understand him correctly, he believes it is a generic article about the history of Judea and surrounding territories in the first century. I believe it is an article that presents a historical view of Jesus. I think this is a central issue and I want to spell out my reasoning clearly.

First, I don't see much value in a generic article on history during this period. The era, 1-33, give or take a few decades, makes sense only in terms of Jesus' life -- so let's be honest and explicit about it. If this were to be a generic history article, then a more natural period would be the fall of the Hasmoneans (and the arrival of Pompey) until the revolt in 70 -- such an article would require far more changes than an article that honestly and explictly focuses on Jesus life.

Second, the article really was originally about Jesus' life. It was taken from the Jesus page. here is how it originally began: This section provides a historical view of Jesus, based largely on textual evidence from the 1st and 2nd centuries.

There has been a good deal of recent research on Jesus by critical scholars: two synthetic accounts are The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders, a historian with a doctorate in theology, now Arts & Sciences Professor of Religion at Duke University, and the three volume A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus by John Meier, a Catholic priest, and Professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America. The following is a brief summary of the dominant position among critical scholars.
The Gospels provide two accounts of Jesus' birth: according to one account, he is the son of Joseph, a descendant of David; according to the other account, he is the son of God, and divine (Christians do not view these two accounts as irreconcilable). Many historians and other scholars suggest that these accounts were developed after Jesus' death, in order to substantiate the Christian belief that Jesus was the messiah. Most of the material in the Gospels focus on the last year of Jesus' life, and most scholars focus on this period.
This was a period marked by cultural and political dilemmas. Culturally, Jews had to grapple with the values of Hellenism and Hellenistic philosophy. Moreover, as many Jews lived in the Diaspora, and Judea itself was populated by many Gentiles, Jews had to confront a paradox in their own tradition: their Torah applied only to them, but revealed universal truths. This situation led to new interpretations of the Torah, influenced by Hellenic thought and in response to Gentile interest in Judaism.

These were the original first three paragraphs. The original title was "The Historical Jesus of Nazareth." When the section was removed from the Jesus article and made its own article, someone changed the name and removed the first paragraph which was understood to be an inappropriate way to begin an article.

The paragraph had actually changed names before I "spun it off" -- I took the name that was in "Jesus" at the time ([1]). I think that with the existence of Historicity of Jesus, an article on The Historical Jesus would be somewhat confusing to the reader. Mpolo 08:39, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

I believe that the original title should be restored. Whether it is or not, the article should present a historian's (meaning, critical historian or Bible scholar -- however you would identify Fredriksen, Sanders, Vermez, Crossan, and others) view of Jesus.

Why? Because critical historians and Christians have at tives highly divergent views of Jesus, and both must be represented. I original ideal for the Jesus article -- ideal in terms of NPOV -- was to represent all views. The problem was, a Jesus article that represents all views is simply too long. Even now the Jesus article is too long. The only way to maintain NPOV is to provide very brief summaries of different views in the Jesus article, with links to daughter articles that fully represent those views. Wikipedia needs an article that presents the historians' view of Jesus. I personally believe that the article as it originally stood in the Jesus article -- and many of the changes ChesseDream contests involves my restoring deleted material from that section -- accurately summarized the views of some major historians, such as Sanders. I do not claim that it represents the views of all major historians (for example, it does not provide Crossan's argument). I believe that the article should continue to grow by adding sections that detail different historians' views, especially where there have been debates in academic journals and through books published by academic presses. Nevertheless, the article in its original version provided a good start and general framework for adding such views.

I suspect that CheeseDream, I and others can reach accomodiation on other points (I already said I had no objection to mentioning the apocalyptic theory of Jesus, which I think comes from Bartman -- if I recall correctly that CheeseDream was the advocate of that position, I apologize if I accidently deleted it but accident it was, and I do suggest you add more summary of Bartman's argument and evidence; I also have no objection to a paragraph on other messiahs so long as it is concrete and clear). But I think this point here is basic and I don't see how we can avoid a revert war unless we reach some agreement.

To summarize my view: if this is to be a generic history article it needs a clear time-frame that has nothing to do with Jesus -- I suggest 63 BCE to 70 CE -- and it needs much more political information. If it is to be a historians' view of Jesus, much of the material I restored needs to stay in. And if CheeseDream and others insist that it be a general history article and not a historians' view of Jesus, then we have a new problem we need to address: how to restore NPOV to the jesus article. It is already too long, so we would need to create a new article on the historical Jesus all over again. But why start all over again? This started as an article on the historical Jesus, let's finish the job. Slrubenstein

The title "The historical Jesus" has problems
CheeseDreams 22:11, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
To seperate "Historians' views" from "non-Historian's views" implies that there is concensus. I do not think there is in either of these groups. Indeed I consider the seperation entirely artificial and POV (e.g. by claiming the non-Historians express a certain POV, when there is really virtually no way to seperate opinions on Jesus' life in general out into distinct groups of opinions, everyone varies on something).
I think trying to produce pages of that kind would be VERY POV and expressing a POV agenda. It would enable people to go "oh those are the historian's views" and discount them automatically, which is POV.
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AND ENTIRELY OPPOSE SUCH A MOVE TO RESTORE THAT STATE OF AFFAIRSCheeseDreams 22:17, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This article has a title. The content and writing are being tailored to the title. To change the title takes the content out of its proper context. The historicity of Jesus is discussed in the article :Historicity of Jesus. The cultural and historical background of Jesus information belongs in the article Cultural and historical background of Jesus. Neither article is suitable to be merged with Jesus. In discussing the Cultural and historical background of Jesus, it is convenient to presuppose the existence of Jesus. A general history of Judea in the first century might well go in History of first-century Judea. This doesn't seem to be a difficult point to understand. Whether Jesus is too long or not, is an issue that isn't strictly speaking relevant to this discussion. This discussion is on this article: Cultural and historical background of Jesus Let's not ruin this article by changing the title or adding content that doesn't belong or removing content that does. It is a good article so far, or it was a few days ago. Let's fix this. All of us here are interested in this and related articles, let's get back to work on them. This article clearly and deliberately adopts the POV that Jesus did exist and it is outside the scope of the article to discuss who holds that point of view and who does not. This is an article about culture and history, the context for (either:)The Man Jesus... or ... The Myth Jesus. Whether Jesus was man or myth, this article discusses the history and culture which (either:) Jesus lived within... or ...within which context the Jesus myth is said to have occured. It is NPOV precisely because of and to the extent that it actually does not discuss whether he was man or myth. It merely establishes conext.Pedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)

First, it does not duplicate the Historicity article. The historicty article covers debates over whether or not Jesus existed. This article covers critical-historical views of what Jesus was doing, and why, assuming that he lived. These are two different topics. We could make them two sections of the same article, but then we get into the length problem.

Second, you misunderstand the NPOV policy. NPOV policy does not mean that we represent no views; it means we represent multiple views, and contextualize each view. There are historians who believe Jesus existed. They are not religious Christians, and do not take the existence of Jesus on faith, but rather work as critical historians. There views must be represented in Wikipedia.

Your claim that it is POV because it would "allow" some people to dismiss it as the view of historians is frankly one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Please reread what you wrote -- you have to be mis-communicating what you mean. It is not our responsibility whather anyone loves or dismisses any particular article. Moreover, to identify accurately a particular point of view (e.g. critical historians versus the Catholic Church) is an important part of Wikipedia's policies; moreover, Wikiepdia is meant to represent research done by other scholars. Are you suggesting we not represent the views of historians? Or are you suggesting we do represent their views, but not identify these views as belonging to historians? These are the two ways I read your penultimate sentence, and they are both moronic so I must be misreading you. Please explain!

I fully agree that any such article should make clear that this is one view, and there are other views, including the view that Jesus never existed. But this is clearly not the view of major scholars like Fredriksen, Vermes, Sanders, and Crosson -- these are among the top scholars of this period and not to represent their views in an encyclopedia defeats the purpose of an encyclopedia. Slrubenstein

The idea that one can seperate "historians' views of Jesus" from any other kind of view is extremely POV because there is really a broad range of opinion crossing all groups of people, including historians. CheeseDreams 22:34, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Re stupidest and moronic READ the Personal attack and Wikipedia:Civility articles. CheeseDreams 22:36, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
As a comment: the Wiki guides on personal insults are clear. To say a person is <insult> is a no-no. To say an opinion is stupid is not a personal attack. The context of the above two quotes were respectively "your claim" and "ways I [can see to] read your penultimate sentence". However much it was a poor choice of words and ofensive, in neither case did he in fact personally attack you. FT2 06:08, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
In which case I would like to point out that his comments can be percieved as those of a fundamentalist fanatic with a rabid unwillingness to listen to any opinion which conflicts with his insane one, and his addition of this section appears as if it stems from arrogance because it was added once the debate in the various comments sections above looked like they were going away from his POV, and he wished to produce a fresh attempt to support his POV which would need attacking once again. I would have thought that was an uncivil thing to say, but if you insist that it isn't then I will leave it in here. CheeseDreams 08:25, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Its uncivil. But you know this :) FT2 14:05, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

I am sorry my remarks were uncivil, especially because they draw attention away from the substantive issue: CheezeDream misunderstands and distorts the NPOV policy. I ask others to look at the sentences I characterize in an uncivil way and tell me what they mean. As for Cheeze's current charges -- perhaps we can all calm down? Cheeze, hysteria doesn't serve your purpose. I do not believe I am arrogant just because I encourage discussion. As a matter of fact, on the issues most important to me I believe you are in the minority. Second, I do not think my ideas are insane, since the reflect the scholarship of some of todays leading academics researching early Christianity. As to my rabid unwillingness to listen to another's position -- really, you are projecting. Where on this page or the Jesus article have you accepted the views of people who disagree with you? When have you not displayed a rabid unwillingness to consider views opposed to your own? Finally, why do you call me a fundamentalist fanatic? I honestly do not know what you mean, and don't know what your evidence or reasoning is here. Slrubenstein

I wrote the statement in a perfectly calm manner (though it is admittedly difficult to tell mood of writing from raw text). Arrogance is assuming your POV is right despite the views of others. I have accepted, for example, Mpolo's views, as he will confirm (If you like, have a look at my talk page where he left a comment to this effect). It is a point of fact that most fundamentalist fanatics do not consider themselves such. These sentences are rather non-sequitur, but I am replying in a similar style, so I suppose that is a consequence of not learning how to use paragraphs. CheeseDreams 00:17, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Personally, I would object to dividing a long article by opinion. This leads to bad inherently POV daughter articles. Long articles should be divided by topic, not by POV. If the Jesus article is too long, divide it into: background, life, importance (just an example don't take me too literally).

All this is not to say that I support CheeseDreams' notion of making this article a general historical background article that has no specifics about Jesus. It's quite OK as it is, an article about the historical background to Jesus (or at least his time). Gadykozma 22:47, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Right, that's what this article is for, historical background about Jesus' environment. Whether he did or didn't exist. Without unavoidable direct reference to Jesus, but including anything that might explain the context for stories about him. For instance, (just as an example) it might mention that there is a story attributed to Jesus about 'the widow's mite', then go on to explain both what a mite was, that it is a Roman coin of extremely little value, and also might mention what place a widow held int that society, how widows were perceived in those days, etc. Note that it merely mentions a story attributed to Jesus, but the rest is about context of the story, not about Jesus. It isn't a "notion that CheeseDreams has", it is the clearly stated purpose of this article in its most recent stable form. But aside from that quibble, yes, I agree as well.Pedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)
I actually agree with you, Gadykozma, about how to divide up a long article. The problem is -- the decision concerning the Jesus article was made, and made quite some time ago. What you suggest -- which I emphasize, I like -- would require a great deal of new work at the Jesus article and would involve revisiting a decision people (not including me) made some time ago. In the meantime, my concern is that a body of scholarship has been excluded from Wikipedia, and it needs to be re-included. Slrubenstein
What was excluded? Paste it on my user page if you think it is excluded, I'll help it be included somewhere, if not here. But this discussion is about Cultural and historical background of Jesus and not Jesus which is the hub article to the series, and as such needs some reference to at least portions of the daughter article as introduction and a link. Because of this, Jesus might become slightly unwieldy, but none of us expected that topic to be easy, right? But we fix the Jesus article at Talk:Jesus and we fix THIS article HERE. OK?Pedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)

A fine mess. Is there any Wikiproject where such structural decisions can be discussed with larger participation? Gadykozma 23:35, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

We don't need larger participation, it would be easier to reach consensus if there are fewer of us. I don't think any of us are too far off (I of course am exactly right) (small joke to lighten the mood) and that we can reach consensus. Maybe someone can summarize the points of contention?Pedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)
My concern is that Slrubenstein wants to re-open the debate on the Jesus article decision because it didn't end the way he wanted it to, despite concensus being reached. CheeseDreams 08:23, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If he does, he should do it at Talk: JesusPedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)
I don't think there's an active WikiProject on this. The closest we get is "WikiProject Bible", which has not been very active and doesn't exactly match our problems here.
I think that the current title and focus of the article are the "right" ones. As a daughter article to Jesus, there are certain things that need to be discussed here, like Jesus' relation to the various groups in Judaism, which would not be appropriate in a general article on background to Roman rule in Judea, Galilee, Traconitis, Idumaea, Iturea, Samaria, Perea, the Decapolis, and probably another two or three I've forgotten. I have no problem with such an article existing, and indeed including much of the information from here. The title avoids confusion with Historicity of Jesus and indicates that we're going to speak about culture and history here. Mpolo 08:39, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
YesPedant
Slrubenstein, it seems people like the current title and focus. You say it loses a certain body of knowledge — I find that the least of evils. Knowledge pieces find their place easily. Bad division into "subpages" is much harder to rectify. Keep it that way. Gady 13:25, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I am not married to the title. The question is still, where does a nonChristian, non-fundamentalist reconstruction of Jesus' life, developed by critical historians and Bible scholars drawing on comparative Near Eastern literature and philology, Biblical archeology, and other historical methods, belong? I still think this page is the most appropriate place. There are specific paragraphs I put in the CheezeDream deleted. I think they belong here, although if others think there is need for more framing and development and other views I don't object, of course. Slrubenstein

that goes in Historicity of Jesus, right in there, fit's just fine in that article, though some of it may also go in Jesus and Cultural and historical background of Jesusdepending on what it is. And general First Century history of Judea belongs in History of first century Judea or whatever-it-s.Pedant
It would be much preferred if they went into the Jesus page. If this is impossible, create a new page for them. Gady 17:39, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't think it is possible to identify a single, or group of "non-Christian, non-fundamentalist reconstruction" any more than it is possible to create a Christian set. I think such attempts are inherently POV, as they go "these views are Christian, if you don't have these views you must be non-christian, see that article for details", which is POV. Therefore I wholeheartedly object to such pages (as I think I mentioned before). CheeseDreams 00:17, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How about "Origins of Christianity" - This article is certainly worthwhile on its own as it relates to the origin of Christianity, and it could be developed as such... If not renamed "Origins of Christianity" it could be placed within an article about the history of Christianity, and a separate article should be developed specifically about the history of ancient Palestine (not just first century Palestine). I also do not oppose "The Historical Jesus," since this is a popular topic. Paradiso 07:12, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How is this article in any way about origins of Christianity? That sort of thing belongs in a discussion on the early church which was AFTER Jesus. This is predominantly about things BEFORE or DURING Jesus. Again, I object to "The Historical Jesus", this is a POV title, assumes historicity, etc.CheeseDreams 13:43, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Cheese is right that "Origins of Christianity" would be a different article. Historians who write about the life of Jesus are pointed in trying to avoid reading "backwards" from a Christian POV -- moreover, from even assuming that a new religion like Christianity would even emerge. When Jesus was alive there is no reason to think people thought he was preaching a new religion. As to FT2's point that it is okay to "loose a certain body of knowledge" -- well,I am astounded and vociferously disagree; this is the last thing in the world editors of an encyclopedi should find acceptable! The jesus article is too long. It has a very short section reporting on what historians have to say about Jesus' life, and a link to this article. It is both reasonable and desirable to have an article on how critical historians view Jesus. The way to assure NPOV is to be very specific about whose views are being represented, and make clear that these are not everyone's views. A link to the "historicity" article, which specifically covers this question, makes sense too. Slrubenstein

See? I keep saying the two of you are in agreement. We could quite happily have an Origins of Christianity article too, but this isn't it, this is Cultural and historical background of Jesus Pedant 00:45, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)

the following section isn't about Cultural and historical background of Jesus Pedant:

This is where I get to respectfully disagree with both CheeseDreams and Slrubenstein. While Christianity generally sees the birth of the Church as happening on the Day of Pentecost immediately following Jesus' ascension into Heaven only ten days before, it began prior to that in many ways. Notably, the Gospels tell of Jesus sending out 70 apostles to teach and do miracles; these seventy are named and recognized as apostles, bishops, and in many cases martyrs by the Orthodox Church. Certainly this is a very distinctly Christian POV; but the non-Christian assumption that Christianity emerged later as the product or byproduct of mere social, psychological and political forces is also a distinct POV. Let's both recognize our opinions for what they are, and acknowledge that we can both cite a multitude of sources to support our views, shall we? With regard to Slrubenstein, naturally I think the Gospels suggest that Jesus himself was conscious of contradicting some contemporary religious beliefs, even if he didn't intend to "found a new religion" per se. Since Judaism also changed greatly after the destruction of the Temple in 70, it seems to me that modern Judaism and modern Christianity are both different religions, since neither offer sacrifices of bulls, goats and doves as used to be required, but both claim to be the true descendants of that religion and offer rationales for no longer doing the burnt offerings.
Actually, the church arrived much LATER than 33AD. Early Christians had a disperate series of views, ranging wildly from Jesus was not real (gnostics)

to Jesus was the son of god (who always had existed) to Jesus was the son of god (but lesser, as god had created him - Arians). It was only after events in the 3rd and 4th century, such as the Council of Nicea that Christians began to form cohesive churches. By historians, the Council of Nicea is often viewed as the point at which the Church came into being. But this is irrelevant to THIS article. CheeseDreams 09:47, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The idea that Christianity only began to be cohesive after the Council of Nicaea is ridiculous, as is the idea that it no longer faced any government opposition after that Council. Stuff like this makes it hard to take your ideas seriously. Have you read any of the writings of Ignatious of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, or Irenaeus of Lyons? The key reason I would connect the Church with Jesus' earthly life is that the Eucharist, the primary sacrament of Christianity, was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper before His execution. The book of Acts and the epistles of the New Testament attest to it being celebrated in the churches when those books were written, which by anyone's reckoning is long before the third century. This is what got the Romans to accuse the Christians of cannibalism. The relevance to this article is that, at least according to the Gospels, Jesus did institute a new sacrament that he intended to be repeated, thus to some extent differentiating himself from contemporary Jewish leaders and from other messiah figures. Wesley 22:03, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You have heard of Arianism and Gnosticism, or ? These beliefs thought of themselves as valid Christian viewpoints, before the Council of Nicea declared that they were not. Yet I wouldn't call them terribly cohesive, particularly the Gnostics compared to non-Gnostics. CheeseDreams 23:12, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

the previous section does not relate directly to Cultural and historical background of Jesus those comments are about Christianity. Let's all be on the same page, here. Pedant


Gady said above, :It would be much preferred if they went into the Jesus page. If this is impossible, create a new page for them. Gady, we already did that; this is that new page. Wesley 05:44, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This is NOT that new page. This is a page about Background, as you can see, most people here agree that this is what it is. If you want That new page (which would be POV, for reasons already listed elsewhere), go and create it. I will protest about its POV on its talk page. CheeseDreams 09:47, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Agreed, this is NOT that new page. This article is about what its title says it is. It 1) presumes the existence of Jesus and 2)states outright that the presumption was made and refers to both the Parent article and a sister article that discusses whether Jesus existed and 3)is only about the history and culture of the region as it bears on the (real or imaginary) person: Jesus, the central figure in Christian Theology. Anything that conflicts with 1)2),or3) does not belong in THIS article, anything that is factual and doesn't belong here, can go in one of the other articles. Nobody here is either a "Bible-Thumping-Jesus-Freak", or "Jesus-Doesn't-Exist-Nutjob. We are all editors, we are all good at our job, we are all concerned that this article be a good one and fits the wikipedia standards. That's why we are bothering to discuss this right?Pedant 23:54, 2004 Nov 7 (UTC)

Gerrymandering

I notice Slrubenstein is trying to bring people who he sees as supporters of his POV into the discussion (see his contributions list). I do not think this is a very NPOV thing to do. CheeseDreams 00:15, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is perfectly legitimate and you are invited to do the same. Fishing around edit histories of related pages should clue you as to who might support you (doing this would have saved you the trouble of asking HistoryBuffEr...) Gadykozma 00:48, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't think it it s a fair thing to do because it is choosing the electorate. This is normally referred to as Gerrymandering, which in most countries, in the case of political Gerrymandering, is completely prohibited. I have requested people look at this article via the "requests for comment" and "peer review" page. That should bring in neutral people rather than people with extreme POV. One ought not to approach the debate with the principle "I will raise an army to support my POV, and defeat his by weight of number". CheeseDreams 08:20, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
CheeseDreams, just take my word for it: this is perfectly legitimate on Wikipedia. Gady 13:25, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
CheeseDreams, as one of those Slrubenstein 'invited', let me assure it's not because I share his POV regarding critical historians. I'm an Orthodox Christian, and personally believe the Church gets it at least mostly right with regard to what happened in the first few centuries, and I suspect many "critical historians" of having an atheist agenda, especially when they presume that any supernatural occurrence is impossible (in line with philosophical materialism) and interpret historical evidence of any miracles in that light. So much for my own POV. The one area where Slrubenstein and I do agree at present, is that this article should continue to talk about Jesus. Wesley 18:07, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Slrubenstein left a large comment on my talk page. My response to it was

I note
  • That you did not explicitely ask him for support
  • That you only attempted to bring in people whose POV seems similar to yours, e.g. you didn't ask the Rev of Bru.
  • That you didn't approach a neutral method first, such as Requests for Comment, as I have done
Points 2 and 3 are why I did (and still do) regard your action with respect to these various people as not NPOV. CheeseDreams 19:24, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I also note the following comment that I have just found on Slrubenstein's talk page CheeseDreams 17:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)-

NPOV does not mean dragging those into conversations who are likely to agree with you. Both Wesley and RK are religious and, as such, likely to be opposed to religious-critical perspectives. You know that -- this is why you repeatedly invited both to share their views on Supernaturalization, which you want removed. If you are truly interested in NPOV and want to elicit a response from the broader Wikipedia community, and not just those who support your POV, I suggest you use an open forum, such as Wikipedia:Votes for NPOVing or Wikipedia:Votes for deletion. Back-room alliances are not exactly the way to build an encyclopedia. --Eloquence 17:44 May 8, 2003 (UTC)

This only supports my point -- this article, which presents the views of historians who reject the divinity of Jesus, is dominated by the views of those Wesley would personally object to. The fact that I asked him to comment thus only shows that I seek out the opinion of those who disagree with my view. The reason I turned to Wesley is because he is intelligent, well-informed, and knows a good deal of the history of the Jesus article and its daughter articles -- not because he is somehow "on my side." Stop distorting the facts, Cheese. Slrubenstein
I fail to see how copying someone's statement is a distortion of facts?
They made the statement, therefore it is factual to say that they made the statement. Make of the statement what you will. I didn't draw any conclusions from it, so can't possibly even have distorted it a single iota. The fact that you assume that its appearance is distorting the facts shows how much it condemns your actions. CheeseDreams 20:03, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Why do you imagine my POV would be similar to Slrubenstein's? Jayjg 05:53, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
From your contribution list. CheeseDreams 09:48, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Huh? Can you be more specific? Jayjg 20:47, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
There is a way to list which articles each user has edited and when. I have looked it up for you, and your edits, particularly on other talk pages, produce similar points of view to Slrubenstein. CheeseDreams 23:15, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Isn't it strange how recently there have been a group of NEW users to wikipedia, who suddenly find this talk page and support Slrubenstein's POV. CheeseDreams 08:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Votes on outstanding NPOV queries

Attempt to see where we're now at: To keep it short and easy to review I'd suggest keep it a vote not a discussion. Full discussion of the pros and cons of these opinions are given above #Comments on Key Issues etc FT2 15:10, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)


Jesus references:

  • Purpose of article: Pedant's comment is that "the article, is neither about Christianity nor religion and really there is not much need to discuss who it is that does or doesn't believe Jesus actually lived, the article is about the culture and events of the 'time in which Jesus is said to have lived'" As presently titled, agree? Disagree?
    • Agree, but need link to those articles in the lead. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Disagree. It's about Jesus in his cultural and historical context. Don't hijack it. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Disagree. It is about Jesus in hist cultural and Historical context. Don't hijack it. How can an article be about the cultural and historical context in which Jesus lived without making reference to Jesus? To think this is possible is to misunderstand "context" -- there is no single "context," "context" is always relative to a certain "text" -- in this case, the text is on the linked article to Jesus. To keep this article but continue to delete all reference to Jesus is simply deceptive and misleading. There is already an article on Jewish history. Slrubenstein
    • Agree. Among those people who think Jesus existed, most place him at this time and place - and the influence on him of this time and place is what the article is about. --G Rutter 15:18, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree Amgine 06:47, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Should there be asides about Jesus' life in this article or should it be pretty much a pure historic and cultural context with points only made and linked which may be needed as neutral background understanding?
    • Asides about Jesus' life, when necessary to explain how he relates to the culture, should be here. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. This is the point of the article. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • I DON'T THINK THE QUESTION IS PHRASED VERY WELL. If we say Agree, which part are we agreeing to? As for my decision on the question, I think we should choose the latter part, i.e. pure context. However, I think it is an unfair question as most people in this debate are Christians of one sort of another (particularly after Slrubenstein choosing who he wanted to bring in to the argument), and I can see that they would have a vested interest in retaining explicit mention. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC) (minor format fix for ease of reading - FT2)
    • Agree. If the article is about the context of Jesus' life, our choices about what constitutes that context only make sense in reference to Jesus' life. There is no such thing as pure context; context always depends on a "text." Slrubenstein
    • Asides, when necessary to explain how he relates to his background. --G Rutter 15:18, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Clarification of question - Are direct references to Jesus' life only to be made when essential? (ie, when people might otherwise be confused why part of the background is mentioned, unless an aside is given to briefly explain its significance)
There are two different approaches: (Approach A) summarise the background to 1st Century Roman Palestine and explain in an aside if something is needed to understand Jesus' life, or (Approach B) summarise Jesus' life, and cross referencing it to historical and cultural information about 1st Century Roman Palestine?
Is the article a background introduction to a historic context, which is referenced to Jesus' life if needed, or is it more a review of Jesus' life as viewed in its historic and cultural context? FT2 21:59, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
In which case, FT2, I agree. However, I do not think that in the current article any such points where it is absolutely neccessary to reference Jesus to provide explaination. Consequently, the net result CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
P.s. I see the article as approach A. Jesus' life (i.e. approach B) is explained in the life section on the Jesus article (which could be a seperate article to itself, but certainly isn't the same as this one). CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It is, as Wesley pointed out, B, the second one. Wikipedia needs an article on Jesus' life that is not determined by Christian theology or doctrine but that is based on historical research. That is what this article is. Look at the history of the article. CheeseDream's attempts to change that merely reveal his attempt to impose his own point of view on the article, and not allow for other points of view. Slrubenstein

Are you saying that Wesley is FT2? Hmmm, I find that misrepresentation. If that is the case, FT2 should not be mediating the debate. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC) (no connection - FT2)
P.s. this article is not the Historicity of Jesus article, and historical research into what Jesus really did does not belong here. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
P.p.s. this is meant to be voting, not placing comments CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Option A Amgine 06:47, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Should the "Jesus" reference in fact be fully dropped and the article retitled "Cultural and Historic 1st Century Judea" instead, with no references to Jesus per se included in the article? Or is that going too far?
Likewise, I think this question suffers from the bias above. We need neutral people, who neither I nor Slrubenstein, nor any of the people he/I have asked to take part in this debate have asked to be here, to answer these sorts of questions. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • As for my opinion, I would Agree, except with the use of the term Judea. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC) (minor eformat cleanup - FT2)
(Do those "disagrees" mean - disagree "with another person's opinion", or disagree "yes its going too far"? Potentially ambiguous, please clarify. Thanks!)
    • Disagree. Anyone who wants to drop the name from the title of the article is really saying they want a different article. FINE -- write a different article (as Wesley suggests). Wikipedia welcomes new articles! Anything else is effectively deleting this article without going through the VfD process. That is vandalism. Slrubenstein
How is it deleting the article? It is a change of name, there would still be a redirect, it would be virtually unnoticable to most visitors. See the issues on Creation accounts in Genesis about its title. No-one is suggesting that changing that title would be deleting the article. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Going too far. --G Rutter 15:18, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Agree. Although reference to Jesus will likely be requisite to provide context, it is not central to the topic. Amgine 06:47, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

If the article will reference Jesus then also:

  • Which of these would be a good basis for a NPOV introductory sentence?
(a) According to most Christians, Jesus lived in the first century in Judea, and was, at least in part, shaped by the cultural and political forces active at that time (current wording)
(b) Jesus is placed by Christian writers in 1st century Roman Palestine (an area comprising modern Israel, Palestine and Jordan), and within that region, principally in the Galilee, Jerusalem, and the wilderness and desert areas surrounding them
(c) Jesus is traditionally held by those who believe in his historicity, to have lived in the first century in Judea. Without addressing Jesus existence as an actual historic figure, this article discusses the cultural and political forces active at that time. See Historicity of Jesus for information relating to the existence of Jesus as a historical figure
    • (c) Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • (c) is better than the others, though could be NPOVed as well. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • (a) or (c); if (a), amend to "...most Christians and Muslims" Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • (c) again apart from the term Judea, and the need for an apostrophe after the second Jesus. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • C is the best of the three but still not good. We can use it as a start and work on it. I suggest something like, "Many critical historians accept the existence of Jesus, but reject claims of his divinity or supernatural spect or power. They consider the New Testament to be the primary historical source for Jesus' life, but a source that must be read critically and interpreted in the context of other historical and archeological evidence." Slrubenstein
(We can skip the weasel words "many historians", we don't need to say a number, be it many or few. That can be left in the Historicity article. We can just say "those who believe in his historicity", and thats 100% accurate and all thats needed. We can also skip the "who or what he may have been" or "which sources are primary for his life". Neither of these are key to a historical and cultural background FT2)
I agree with FT2. 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think (c) is 100% acceptable (apart from the issue of the name of the location), who else has that opinion (whether or not you support the location name)? CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The (b) option is actually problematic because there are also non-Christian writers, extremely early, that attest to the historicity of Jesus (Josephus, a Jew, and Tacitus, a pagan). Options (a)and (b) refer to Christian beliefs, but it would be better for an academic article concerned with history to refer to historical literary sources, e.g., Josephus, Tacitus, and other early Christian and non Christian literature. Again, the best approach might be for the article to simply describe that there is ancient literature that refers to a person by the name of Jesus (e.g., Josephus, Tacitus, cannonical and non cannonical literature).Paradiso 07:26, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Again this isn't really true, see the talk on "Where is the evidence" in the talk page of Historicity of Jesus. And to mention that there is ancient literature is to imply that there is evidence which is to imply there is historicity. This is a POV thing to do. It is to be avoided. CheeseDreams 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • C is the best place to start - it needs some editing though (including the name of the location). G Rutter 15:27, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • A or B. Again, these formulation state the opinion of one group without stating the opinions of others, thus turning the opinion into a fact ala Wikipedia tutorials. "traditionally held by those who believe in his historicity" is weaseling. Amgine 07:01, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Do the suggestions above adequately make clear that the existence of Jesus is not being asserted in this article? If not, how else should this be done?
    • Yes. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes. Except for (b), as there are some who place Jesus in africa, and consider him to have been black. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • This article draws on the work by historians who accept the existence of Jesus, although there are those who reject his existence. Slrubenstein 22:19, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
are you saying Yes or No? It looks like you are saying No. It also looks like you are trying to change the nature of the article. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
(This article as titled doesnt draw on historians with any particular view of Jesus. Information about the history, culture, time and place in which Christianity might place Jesus is neutrally available from better authenticated sources than christian writings. FT2
    • Yes. But they sound silly and are still loaded with problems. Paradiso 07:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes Amgine 07:01, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
CheeseDreams is right to ask me, above, whether I mean "yes" or "no." His inquiry getst to the heart of the whole discussion. IF Jesus did not exist then there is absolutely no point to this entire article. Material on this place and time -- If Jesus did not exist -- belongs in other articles on Ancient Israel, Jewish History, and the Roman Empire. The very existence of this article only makes sense if it is possible that Jesus existed. IF he existed, how would his cultural and historical context shaped his life and work? That is what this article is about. If it is not about this, what is the point?
Because it provides background to the story in the Gospels and rest of New Testament. WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE REAL. CheeseDreams 00:25, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This is not a satisfying response. Certainly, the Gospels and NT are real -- they are stories that exist; people read them. We shoul have an article that provides the cultural and historical context in which these stories were written, edited together, and canonized. Indeed, this material is in the articles on Christianity and Biblical Canon. But this historical time period would start after the destruction of the second temple, and go on to the council of Nicea. This is a different historical and cultural context than the one in the article under consideration which ends with the destruction of the Temple. These are two different historical periods covering two different events: the life of Jesus (if he existed) and the writing and editing of the NT (which most definitely exists). Both are needed articles, but they are different. Slrubenstein
It is not a satisfying response to you simply because you want this article to be about something completely different to the consensus. And you continue to deliberately misinterpret my text. I was referring to WHETHER OR NOT THE CONTENT OF THE STORIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ARE REAL, which is absolutely clear from the grammer of the sentence (unless of course your first language is not English). If you continue to deliberately misinterpret, then I fail to see what the point of replying to you is. CheeseDreams 19:28, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Again, you miss the point. If the article is to provide background for the NT, then it should cover the history of Palestine as well as the Roman provinces in what is today Turkey and Greece from 70 to 382. But since the article covers an earlier period, it is providing background for the life of Jesus. Slrubenstein


  • Which is the better description of how people saw the Pharisees: living saints, or rabbis some of whom were considered holy or great men?
    • "Rabbi" is somewhat anachronistic, I think, but the second is better than the first. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • "Rabbi" doesn't seem anachronistic, but I think the term is orthogonal to whether one was a pharisee. "saint" doesn't work. Maybe something like "strictly observant" or "pious" Jews?? What does the Pharisee article say? Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Neither. There needs to be a distinction between Pharisees and Pharisee teachers, i.e. between the priests and the congregation. I think something like Rabbi would be appropriate, but it must distinguish between Pharisee Rabbis and other Rabbis. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Neither. Wikipedia has an article on the Pharisees that should be linked; it won't be hard to come up with a brief description. Pharisees were not living saints. Some Pharisees were teachers, some were priests, some were carpenters and blacksmiths and farmers. "Rabbi" is a specific title for a specific office. Slrubenstein 22:19, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Neither. They were legal experts in Torah and religious tradition. "Exact exponents of the law" (Josephus). Some were considered great authorities, such as Hillel. "Rabbi" is a post 70 CE term. Paradiso 07:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Should the explicit mentions of "Hillel", "Shammiel", and "Gameliel" be mentioned rather than the contested "Living Saints" then? (this I would agree on) CheeseDreams 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

  • Is "at this time" acceptable? (no rationale was given for the alternate wording "At the time of Christ")
    • Yes. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes; so is "at the time of Christ" or "at the time of Jesus". Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes, but not "At the time of christ/Jesus". CheeseDreams
    • At the time of Jesus is acceptable as Jesus is merely a name; at the time of Christ is unacceptable since it reflects only Christian POV. Slrubenstein 22:19, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What about "at this time", Slrubenstein? If you agree to that then this point has reached consensus. I dispute the use of "at the time of Jesus" because, to my POV it appears to suggest an assumption of historicity. CheeseDreams
    • Yes. "At the time of Jesus and/or Christ," or else provide dates, or refer to "early first century CE."
To the above (unsigned) person, your vote, given your comment, is actually a No. CheeseDreams 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes G Rutter 15:27, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Yes. Although Jesus may be "merely a name", it is not so in this particular context. Amgine 07:01, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Does discussion of the development of Christianity subsequent to Jesus, and the way in which it was passed to the gentiles, belong in this article under its present title of history and culture, or should it belong in some related article on early christian history?
    • Another article. A very brief reference could go here. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Another article. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Some mention of it here seems appropriate. If another article, which one? Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Another article, only brief mention here. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Another article, namely, the article on Christianity. This is a daughter page from the Jesus article and should stick to that. Slrubenstein
So this has reached consensus? CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Only if the article will be further developed in that direction, and renamed, (origins of Christianity), otherwise it belongs in another article on the 'history of Christianity,' with links to it. Paradiso 07:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What has it got to do with the Origins of Christianity? It is about things before and during Jesus, not really what happened afterwards.CheeseDreams 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The related question Should there be brief mention of this, has that been agreed on (i.e. that there should)?CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Of course, for historical perspective - but briefly, possibly in conclusion. Paradiso 07:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Urm, I don't remember you taking part in the debate when I had asked if the people taking part had agreed; are you someone under a new name (which I consider false representation and cheating)?CheeseDreams 13:56, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Is "son of man" necessarily apocalyptic as used? Is its apocalypticness or otherwise actually relevant to the article? If so, is it NPOV enough to simply say "some people felt ..." if needed?
    • It has both meanings. The text should leave the possibility open for both interpretations. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • "Son of Man" could be used in an apocalyptic sense. It is relevant to the article. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Although "Son of Man" could be used apocalyptically, the Son of man article makes clear that this was by no means the only use, and not even necessarily the normal one. I think, like Mpolo, it needs however to be left open, as there is debate in how, when applied to Jesus, it was meant. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • It could have had both meanings. We should mention both, and state that there is debate among scholars. Some time ago someone added a paragraph about Bart Ehrman's argument specifically, I am not sure who deleted it or when but we could put in that specific attribution to this argument. Slrubenstein
Can we not just have the link to Son of man as that goes into quite a lot of depth about this, and then we could avoid taking sides, or even mentioning the issue? CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • It needs mentioning and whether it was or wasn't is relevant. A brief summary and link to Son of man is probably the best. G Rutter 15:27, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • No, not necessarily apocalyptic. Is relevant. Not NPOV "some people felt ..."
(To the above, please sign). And also, by "Not NPOV ..." are you contesting the fact that it is NPOV or that it should go in? CheeseDreams 19:28, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I was responding to the original questions in the order which they were given. Thus "If [its apocolypticness or otherwise (is) relevant to the article], is it NPOV enough to simply say "some people felt..." and then answere is No, it is not NPOV to say that. - Amgine 20:38, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

General:

  • Judea and surrounding areas, Roman Palestine, or what name for the area?
    • I'd tend toward Roman Palestine, but don't object to Levant (with explanations in both cases). Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Roman Palestine, or just Palestine. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • not just "Palestine". "Judea and surrounding areas" is preferable; "Roman Palestine" is ok, provided a brief explanation of it is available somewhere. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Roman Palestine or Levant. I have no opinion on which one. CheeseDreams
    • Roman Palestine is anachronistic. Levant, if we are talking about the whole region, Judea, Galilee etc. if we are talking about those regions. If this is an article on historical context, these historical distinctions are crucial. To anachronistically use "Palestine" is to reject the historical context! Slrubenstein 22:24, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Roman Palestine is good, 'ancient Palestine' is better. Paradiso 07:37, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Roman Palestine or southern Levant (ie what's now Israel, Palestine and Jordan). G Rutter 15:30, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Southern Levant includes the Sinai peninsula, as far as I understand the term, is that appropriate? CheeseDreams 15:37, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's better than Levant, which includes Lebanon and Syria. I prefer "Roman Palestine". --G Rutter 16:00, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Roman Palestine with initial explanation. Amgine 07:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Is the existence of other Messiahs or groups believing in them relevant as part of the historic and cultural context and should it be included or mentioned?
    • Relevant. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. Known messiahs from this time should be named. Also, it must be made clear what "messiah" means in this context, since it meant something other than the Christian meaning. Slrubenstein 22:24, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Actually, that depends on which messiah it is. For example, zoroastrianism has a very Christian like concept which would be referred to as "Messiah" if used by Jews.
Unless you have historical evidence that Jews or Gentiles in the Levant in the First Century CE believed that this Zorastrian concept was a "messiah," your point has no place in the article. It also suggests that you misunderstand the 1st century CE Jewish understanding of "messiah." Slrubenstein
That is distorting my point entirely. I never wrote that I was wanting to put in mention of Zoroastrianism (which, for the benefit of less POV readers, I was not wanting to do). CheeseDreams 19:47, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well for goodness sake, if I misunderstood your point, couldn't you try explaining it to me? What is your point, when you say Zoroastrianism has a very Christianlike concept which would be referred to as "Messiah" is used by Jews? Doesn't this imply that the term "'Messiah' as used by Jews" is "very Christian like?" I am not trying to distort your point, I am trying to figure it out. Slrubenstein
In addition, though "messiah" means something different NOW, it did not then, so I don't think the differentiation ought to be made, as that implies that Jesus was unlike the others as being part of a messianic group, which isn't really true. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This is a matter of dispute. Many historians claim that Jesus himself did not (as I think you are suggesting) claim to be a "messiah" in any way unlike other messiahs. However, it is clear that by the end of the First Century CE many of his followers believed that he was a messiah in a radically different way, and Christians claim that Jesus did claim that he was a messiah in a different way. Slrubenstein
I don't think any historians claim Jesus claimed himself to be any kind of "messiah" at all. In what way, and more importantly, by what justification, do "Christians" claim that Jesus claimed he was a messiah? I don't recollect such a thing in the bible. CheeseDreams 19:47, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You still haven't answered my question about the Zoroastrianism point, above. But I will answer your question: Despite claiming the virgin birth, Matthew incorporates a text that goes to great pains to place Jesus in the line of David. Jesus enters Jerusalem riding a donkey and people identify him as the son of David. Jesus talks often of how God's kingdom -- a restoration of the Davidic monarchy -- is at hand. These are the basic components of, and constitute, a messianic claim. Slrubenstein
That would be the genealogy text that is completely different to the one in Luke? (By the way, Dionysus entered the city he would later be crucified in riding a donkey and people waving palm leaves at him). Anyway, the claims are made by MATTHEW not JESUS. CheeseDreams 23:20, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
A link to Messiah and a note like Slrubenstein suggests, something like "Many historians claim that Jesus himself did not claim to be a "messiah" in any way unlike other messiahs. However, it is clear that by the end of the First Century CE many of his followers believed that he was a messiah in a radically different way, and Christians claim that Jesus did claim that he was a messiah in a different way" would be a good snip to add to the parallel article on "Life of Jesus" or wherever earliest christian origins and history will go. FT2 02:16, Nov 7, 2004 (UTC)
It is not clear that at the end of the First Century CE he had any followers at all. The first written evidence is 116AD. It is certainly not terribly clear what they believed. Nor is it clear what use of the messiah they understood. Therefore I object to the second part of that quote from Slrubenstein. Christian origins should go in Early Christianity or something like that, Life of Jesus seems inappropriate. CheeseDreams 09:52, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I take it, however, that we agree that this section (which I put in) can be restored to the article. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant - but only movements that relate to the messianic expectation of the day and that resulted from the tension between the Jewish community and the Roman occupation in Jesus' day. Paradiso 07:37, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Relevant. G Rutter 15:30, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant Amgine 07:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • Should the article say that "Rabbinic" or "later forms" of Judaism followed on from the Pharasees? Or is this actually irrelevant to the historic and cultural context of Jesus' life itself?
    • It's relevant, but I recuse on this. Mpolo 15:47, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. I suggest "later forms" rather than "Rabbinic": consensus and accuracy through vagueness. :-) Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Relevant. I suggest "later forms" as well. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • It depends on the context. After 70 CE there were three forms of Judaism -- Rabbinic, which evolved from the Pharisees; Christian, which did not; and Karaism, which did not. By 200 CE Christianity was no longer a form of Judaism, and two forms remained -- Rabbinic and Karaism. After the Enlightnment (18th century) Rabbinic Judaism evolved in Hasidism, Reform, Orthodox, COnservative, and Reconstructionist. One can say these 5 forms evolved from Phariseism. But Karaites still exist as a form of Judaism and they did not evolve from Phariseism. Slrubenstein 22:30, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Does Karaitism count as a form of Judaism, or is it a religion in its own right, such as Mandaeanism (which evolved from the (non-Christian) followers of John the Baptist)? Why is there no mention of Karaitism at that time in historic sources? Does "Karaitism" have some other translation? CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • It was specifically the "Rabbinic" Judaism that consciously and purposely followed in the legacy and tradition of the Pharisees, and Rabbinic Judaism has "no relevance" to a discussion of Jesus, but to the historical impact of the Pharisees. Paradiso 07:37, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The section in question was merely a closing statement to explain why the groups and their names completely dissappeared (and thus are not mentioned in the early church). CheeseDreams 13:58, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Keep it short, its a vote, discussion has its own section above :) FT2 15:10, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

  • Relevant. "Later forms". G Rutter 15:30, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
    • Not relevant. The topic is history/culture of a specific period, not what evolved from it. Amgine 07:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Why do you force us to answer again questions we already answered above? Gady 16:04, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Because it allows us to see what the current state of debate is at a glance, and whether any consensus has been reached, which, at the moment, on some questions, it seems as if it has. CheeseDreams 19:56, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Personally, I like this format, I got lost in the section above. Thanks for being nice to newcomers to the discussion. :-) Wesley 18:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Needs both - a place to discuss each issue, and also a summary of the consensus and the actual questions which are at the heart of it. FT2 21:42, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

Comment to Wesley

Wesley - I think you are misunderstanding something here. You have said "Dont hijack it". But in an encyclopedia, there is no ownership of articles. There is only a collaborative effort to find a neutral summary of knowledge. An article can be non-neutral, and individuals can put personal agendas into an article. But an article that has a neutral title - and this one does - the only test is, does the content match the title. There is no "It ought to be about jesus" here. It "ought" to be about whatever the title is, and the title is a historic and cultural background. This does not require any discussion of Jesus at all or assertion of his existence to produce.

What an article began as is not relevant. An article with the title of "Cultural and historic background" should be focussed on that background, not on what any one individual at that time may have done, unless this was part of the essential background. If you feel there should be an article which is more "Jesus-centred", then this would not be an appropriate title for it, and a second article should exist as discussed above.

What is perhaps the case is that this article was originally ill defined and contained a mix of both "historical background" and "Jesus-related to-background". Now what's happened is that users are trying to separate these, which is reasonable as they are clearly separable. One is background information on a historic period, one is a story of an individual and what he did, and how that ties into that specific period. It's a bit like the difference between two books titled "Sociological introduction to 16th century Italy" and another book called "Life of Galileo". One's about a historical period, one's about a specific life or incident that happened in that period. They need two articles and the text that goes with "historical and social background" is the non-Jesus-centred text.

Although I can understand your point, I feel your worries about "hijacking" are not relevant. The article with this title should not be Jesus-centred, but history and culture centred. FT2 21:42, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

FT2, thank you for your explanation. I fully understand that there is no "ownership" of articles; that's not what I meant at all. I agree that the article content should more or less match the title. What I perceived was an attempt to completely purge the article of any mention of Jesus. If that were done, the content would no longer match the title, and someone would then call for a change of title to match the content, so we would see a complete removal of this information. When this is done by editors who doubt the existence of Jesus at all, this seems to be a very biased undertaking. But if I have misjudged anyone's motive, please forgive me. Wesley \
Perhaps the current title should be scrapped, and the content forked into a new pair of articles? Wesley 22:27, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Wesley. With all due respect, FT2, you misunderstand the situation. The issue is not over ownership of an article. The issue is, which article is being worked on? At state is our deletion policy. For example, if someone takes the article on physics, starts adding more and more information about chemistry, and ultimately changes the name of the article from physics to chemistry, they have effectively deleted the physics article. Similarly, this started out as an article on Jesus in his historical and cultural context. By all means, anyone can work on this article. But to declare that it is not about Jesus and then to propose to take Jesus out of the title is just a sneaky unethical way to delete the article. If someone wants an article on this time period, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus, then let them start a new article. Slrubenstein
I agree with FT2. This article is about background. There is very little specifically about Jesus in the article, and, in fact, the one or two sentences that are could easily be removed into part of the Jesus article. CheeseDreams 00:49, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with most of what's expressed above. They all seem to be saying similar things in a different way. For my part I feel quite comfortable the title referencing Jesus, because it is not a blanket summary of all of 1st century judea, the purpose is to provide historical and cultural background for a specific area of study - namely, people preparing to look at the life of Jesus. So I dont personally have an issue with that being stated in the title.

Its fine to give background targetted at some area of interest, so long as you're clear where its focus is - the cultural background, or Jesus' life. It's a bit like describing the "Historical background to the 3rd Reich". As long as it describes the features and background that allowed the Nazi's to arise, gain power, win appeal and get away with oppression and mass murder, fine. Thats different from a discussion of Hitlers life, a history of the 3rd Reich, and the historicity of whether some number of Jews really died or not. They may be integral to it, but they're not really the focus as such, they're just asides, and the last is plain irrelevant. Hope that helps - thats how I see this article, but I'm abstaining in any vote on it. Broadly agree? Disagree?

What I do feel is that a big problem is a lot of concern between contributors here, that the article may go to an extreme, either excluding so much of Jesus that it's "just another history article", or including so much its "just another Jesus article". The rest is anxiety, Sort of "When we start writing, are the historians (or christians) going to try and exclude (include) everything on NPOV or irrelevancy grounds?". But I think reading between the lines recently, we prety much do have a consensus, and its that this article shouldn't go towards either extreme. Comments? Agree? Disagree? Can folks work with this? Do you feel we probably do now have a chance at agreement? FT2 07:44, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

I think I broadly agree with you. My concern is the repeated suggestion that Jesus' existence is POV, and that the slightest references to him should therefore be completely purged, making it not only "just another history article," but a revisionist history at that. For my part, I don't expect this to be "just another Jesus article." I don't expect it to be the usual Sunday School version of first century church history. All I expect or hope for is an honest look at both historical evidence and at how historians have evaluated and interpreted that evidence. Is that so unreasonable?
Jesus' existance is POV just as much as Jesus' non existance is. This article, as most people (i.e. people discussing this here) see it (see above, somewhere) is just another history article. I don't see what is revisionist about going "there were the saducees, they believed and did X, there were the zealots, they believed and did Y, there were messianic groups, they believed and did Z, etc." CheeseDreams 09:56, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The revisionism comes in when you attempt to deny the existence of the one messianic group that's still around two millennia later, and focus on the ones that lasted only very briefly. Further, when someone suggested the article include the fact that only a minority of historians honestly doubt the existence of Jesus, you seemed genuinely opposed to including this little fact in the article. Thus it appears that you are attempting to edit the historical record to fit your preferred beliefs. Wesley 21:30, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Mandaeans are still around two millenia later. As are Messianic Jews. So in fact, there are at least 3 messianic groups, and that isn't even counting the Zoroastrians, who were around then, centuries (possibly millenia) before it, and still exist today (primarily around Bombay). CheeseDreams 23:24, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
By the way, I've been very open about my religion and my personal opinions here, while also trying to work towards an NPOV article. I would appreciate it if other editors were equally frank about their own religious backgrounds and agendas. I say this not to accuse anyone, but so we can all help each other. Wesley 05:56, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This is an attempt to reach NPOV. What our POV are really are irrelevant, as we are trying to discuss what we think is NPOV, not whether our POV agree anywhere. CheeseDreams 09:56, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, based on your comments to Mpolo and Slrubenstein, I think I can conclude that you're not a Jew. I'll assume you're a philsophical materialist and consequently an atheist, but please correct me if I'm mistaken. I'm just trying to identify exactly which agenda you're trying to push. Wesley 21:30, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Im pushing an NPOV agenda. What about you? CheeseDreams 23:24, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
P.s. if you think Im an atheist, then you clearly haven't read my comments to Mpolo. CheeseDreams 23:25, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I'm working for a NPOV such that the various perspectives are all documented, including proper attribution of who thinks what. It appears to me that you are pushing an NPOV agenda such that only the true facts are presented without dissent, true facts being those which your research and critical analysis have found to be true. Is this a fair assessment, or would you care to clarify your approach to an NPOV article? Wesley 18:04, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Inclusion/exclusion of Jesus

This seems to be the only really major source of disagreement above. I think that we have partisans of the following interpretations at present. Comments/opinions? Mpolo 08:55, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

  • This is a historical article about a time and place, not about a person. There is no reason to mention Jesus at all. The article could even be renamed to make it more neutral.
  1. Support. CheeseDreams 14:02, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  2. reject Slrubenstein 18:09, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  3. Reject Wesley 06:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  4. Support, conditionally. Amgine 07:24, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • This is a historical article intended to provide background about a specific historical figure, not a general article about a time and place. As such comments about how this figure interacted with his culture are appropriate. If a general article about the time and place is needed, it can be written in another place.
  1. Support. Mpolo 08:55, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)
  2. Acceptable if no-one else agrees to the 1st. CheeseDreams 14:02, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  3. Support. G Rutter 15:31, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  4. supportSlrubenstein
  5. Support Wesley 06:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  6. Reject Amgine 07:24, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • This article should be tracing Jesus' life as it appears in historical sources, leaving aside matters of faith for another article. This description of his life will necessarily add details from the current content of the page, describing how life in Judea, Galilee and surrounding areas was at the time.
  1. Not acceptable whatsoever, the very premise is POV, assuming the sources are valid is POV (since there are none apart from the Bible and associated Apocrypa etc.). CheeseDreams 14:02, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  2. I like this third option. It's the simplest, and the least controversial, since it appeals to historic sources. It is an acedemic approach to history in regards to Jesus, and not a description of one group's theological stance. Christology can be discussed in an article about the history and origins of Christianity. Paradiso 10:47, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  3. support. This was the original purpose of the article. If CheeseDream or anyone else wants to write a different article they are free to do so, but not ina way that deletes the original article. The premise is not POV -- it is an NPOV premise about a particular set of points of view which, after all, is what most encyclopedia articles are. To be clear: the original intent of the article was to provide an account of what critical historians suggest about Jesus' life, acts, and teachings -- the "factual" claim is not that Jesus existed but that there are historians who believe he existed. I agree that to say "Jesus existed" is a contentious claim. But to say that "Historians believe Jesus existed" is not. It is the second, uncontentious claim that is the premise for the article. If this is not clear, I propose making it clearer. Wouldn't that satisfy Cheese's concern? Slrubenstein 18:09, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  4. Support. Wesley 06:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  5. Reject, absolutely proselytizing a specific POV to the disregard of all other possible viewpoints. (would make an excellent article "Christian Historical Views of the Time of Christ" article) Amgine 07:24, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
No, I REJECT this third option wholeheartedly and completely whatsoever. P.s. "Historians believe Jesus existed" is a very POV thing to write. Some of them don't. CheeseDreams 19:50, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
the solution to this problem is simply to change "historians" to "many historians" or "historians such as Sanders, Fredriksen, Crossan, Ehrman, and Meier"
The premise of the article is NOT that Jesus existed, it is that a time and place existed that Jesus was placed in. CheeseDreams 20:05, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The premise of the article is that there are historians who have written on the life of Jesus not from the point of view of Christian belief but in terms of the historical context. Slrubenstein
The premise to this article is that the first century existed? That the Roman empire existed? That Judea existed? Then we do not need this article at all -- all we need is a link to the articles on the Roman Empire and History of Ancient Israel!
These articles do not cover the first century in terribly much detail. I am referring to the premise not the content.
Surely, the solution is to add more detail to these articles. Slrubenstein
Well, indeed, but only that which matches the title, not on "the historical Jesus", if you want an article on that, create the The Historical Jesus article, I can complain about the POV of its existence on its talk page. CheeseDreams 10:03, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I note that either

  • Slrubenstein, or someone who supports his view, has arrogantly put a link to this article on the Jesus article under the Historicity section rather than be content with the Cultural and historical background section's link (rather than await the result of this discussion).
  • The Jesus article had a link to the same place twice as a main article link for two different summary sections next to each other.

I have removed it. CheeseDreams 01:00, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Arrogant? Please, no personal attacks. I have no idea what you are talking about, but at this point am not surprised that you have no interest in facts. Check the history of the Jesus article and you can find out when this link was placed in the article, and by whom. Slrubenstein

Please, let's discuss this article here, and the Jesus article on its discussion page. Someone following this discussion would be unlikely to create additional links to this article, since the future of this article is very much in doubt right now. I hope you explained your removal there, where the editor is much more likely to see the explanation. Wesley 06:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It was in fact Pedant. I explained the removal on the edit summary CheeseDreams 10:03, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Bible and other Apocrypha

At least twice, CheeseDreams has used the phrase "Bible and other Apocrypha" or something very much like it. Usually, the word Apocrypha is used to refer to some set of books the speaker doesn't believe should be in the Bible, or more specifically in the Biblical canon. Am I understand, CheeseDreams, that you think the entire Bible should not be in the Bible?? Or, perhaps your "bible" is "reliable historical sources" and the Bible and anything else that mentions Jesus is not such a reliable historical source? Please clarify, as I'm quite confused by your remarks. Wesley 06:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

No, I used "its apocrypha and other such texts" or something like that. The Apocrypa is a fixed selection of early christian texts (e.g. The Book of Enoch, whereas there are a few texts not part of the apocrypha which nethertheless are that sort of thing (usually highly Gnostic writings such as the Pistis Sophia). Unfortunately there is not an umbrella term that includes both sets, or even a term that covers the second. CheeseDreams 10:07, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The book of Enoch was a pre-Christian text; it even predates Jesus' incarnation. The so-called Old Testament Apocrypha isn't that fixed a set, and I don't think the Book of Enoch you mentioned is actually included in any Old Testament canon, even the Septuagint. Wesley 21:38, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You clearly know very little about the subject then. The Book of Enoch forms part of the Canon of the Ethiopian Coptic (Christian) church, and has done for millenia, the church is one of the oldest churches, and uses one of the oldest sets of religious practices amongst all Christian groups.
Their preservation of such practices make them a very good source of information about the early church's litany and ritual. In fact, the only reason we know what the Book of Enoch really says, is because it was discovered that the Ethiopian church still used it and had quite a few copies, otherwise we would still be trying to reconstruct it from fragments.
You would have found this information out if you had actually looked at the Book of Enoch article. CheeseDreams 23:30, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

You should not be so quick to dismiss Wesley's knowledge of the subject. Your response does not bear on his comment. All Christian Canons incorporate within them pre-Christian texts, and the Book of Enoch is one of them. Clearly, it is you who has not read the Wikipedia article on this book, so you shouldn't be so snide to Wesley. Slrubenstein

Indeed. The Book of Enoch article says it was written in around the 2d century B.C. or so, which would make it pre-Christian in the sense that it would have been written before Christianity began to emerge. Many people think the OT Apocrypha is only the seven OT books that the Roman Catholic Church includes but that Protestants don't. When Protestants learn of additional books that the Eastern Orthodox Church retains, they usually get grouped in here too. I knew the Coptics retained a larger New Testament than most other Christians, so I'm not too surprised to learn that their Old Testament is broader still. As an Orthodox believer though, I would personally prefer to use the term Deuterocanon for most of these books, which would give a far narrower scope to what is "apocryphal." (Note that I'm not on some kind of crusade to eliminate the word "apocrypha" from wikipedia though.) Wesley \
So with all these and probably other definitions of "Apocrypha" to choose from, I'm genuinely curious to learn what you mean when you use the term. Agreeing on the definition of words is often the first step towards mutual understanding, if not mutual agreement. Wesley 03:19, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I mean -

  • The Gospel of Thomas
  • The Gospel of the Egyptians
  • The Gospel of the Hebrews
  • The Gospel of Mary
  • The Dialogue of the Savior
  • The Apocalypse of Peter
  • The Secret Book of James
  • The Preaching of Peter
  • The Gospel of the Ebionites
  • The Gospel of the Nazoreans
  • The Egerton Gospel
  • The Gospel of Peter
  • The Secret Gospel of Mark
  • The Oxyrhynchus Gospels
  • The Traditions of Matthias
  • The Gospel of the Savior
  • The Acts of John
  • The Gospel of Truth
  • The Epistula Apostolorum
  • The Infancy Gospel of James
  • The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  • The Acts of Peter
  • The Acts of Thomas
  • The Acts of Paul
  • The Book of Thomas the Contender
  • The Acts of Thomas
  • The Pistis Sophia
  • The Epistle of Barnabas
  • The Acts of Andrew
  • The Acts of Peter and the Twelve
  • The Shepherd of Hermas
  • Etc.....

I think "other apocrypha" is the best description. CheeseDreams 20:10, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is not a definition, it is a list. Does it correspond to someone else's list? I think one of Wesley's points is that different people define apocrypha differently and thus include different books. Be that as it may this still doesn't respond to the criticism of the phrase "the Bible and other apocrypha" which is undlear, poor style, and poor grammar. PS do you now admit the book of Enoch was pre-Christian? That seemed to be an important point to you before, is it not so any more? Slrubenstein

Apocrypha=Books not permitted for church use by Council of Laodicea, despite their existence.81.157.11.245 19:13, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think id agree with that. Anyway, the list is a definition. In the same way that the list of biblical canon is the definition of what is biblical canon. My definition of X, is whatever I define it to be. And my grammer was excellent, it's just that your comprehension of it is poor. CheeseDreams 19:17, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, a definition that includes "etc." is a piss-poor definition. In any event, it sounds like this is the specifically Catholic apocrypha. There is a Jewish apocrypha that includes books the Catholic Church does not consider apocryphal. It is important to maintain NPOV. Slrubenstein
I wouldn't say that "piss-poor" was a civil or NPOV way to express an argument. CheeseDreams 20:03, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thanks CheeseDreams, the list does help illustrate what you mean, with or without a definition. I'll try to keep this in mind when I see you use the term in the future. That's all I was looking for. Again, thanks. Wesley 04:33, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Meaning of "Messiah" and a short note on the jewish Priesthood

Translation

(1) In Judaism, "Messiah" means "annointed". It was the symbol of high office. There were two officers routinely annointed this way - a priest messiah, and a king messiah. The hope of a "messiah" to save them would usually have meant simply, some king or priest who would stand up to the romans or whoever was felt oppressing them at the time. The meaning of "Messiah" in christianity, that of a godhead, a unique being who would save them in the sense of salvation, was not part of Judaism, though it may have formed part of the hopes or mystic beliefs of some cults or splinter groups.

This is a crucial point, thank you for making it clearly. My objection to the paragraph on messiah's, which I deleted, is that it was entirely unclear on this point. It did not say who the "messiah's" were or what they were claiming, and it did not make clear that what "messiah" means here is not the meaning the NT claims. Cheese's comment about Zorastrianism, above, only makes me more concerned -- surely Zoroastrians did not look forward to a king or priest who would assert Jewish independence against Roman oppression? As I have stated numerous times, I have no objection at all to a discussion of "other" messiahs in Judea or the Galilee, as long as it makes these points clear. My objection was not to "a" paragraph on this topic, my objection was only to the specific paragraph I deleted. Slrubenstein
Again, either you are distorting my point or not reading it properly. The zoroastrians believed in a messianic figure. In fact, some of them believed in a figure rather like the Christian messiah (though they do not claim he has yet arrived). I had no intent on mentioning this in the article, it was just a demonstration that Jesus wasn't unique in being a messiah figure. CheeseDreams 19:59, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Now I am certain that I am not distorting your point. I agree that Jesus was not unique as a messiah, if by messiah you mean other people like Bar Kohbah who claimed they were legitimate candidates for a restored Jewish monarchy, and leaders of a rebellion against the Romans. This is what Jews at that time meant by "messiah" -- NOT, as you suggest above, somthing like the Zoroastrian figure. As you say, that is a figure "rather like the Christian messiah." Well, the "Christian messiah" probably developed after the death of Jesus. This article is on the historical context for Jesus (who was supposed to have lived in the firt half of the first century CE), not the historical context for Christianity (which developed over the following centuries). It must be clear about what "messiah" -- a Hebrew word -- meant in this context. FT2 makes it very clear what it meant, and following FT2's point, one would not call the Zoroastrian figure "messianic" (Anglicizing a Hebrew word). So perhaps one would not call the others you refer to as messianic, either. This is the point. Slrubenstein
If your objection was only to a paragraph you deleted. Why did you delete it rather than edit? CheeseDreams 01:14, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
See Mandaeans for another messianic figure at the time.CheeseDreams 01:16, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
For ease of debate I've added some more info below on this, the comments above made me think and identify a subtle issue that's important to not be tripped up by FT2 20:38, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

Priesthood

(2) The Jewish priesthood is often misunderstood by non Jews. In most religions, the priests are the mediators between man and god, and act as spokesmen for god. So this is a very powerful position, with near-ultimate authority in a religious culture. In Judaism, the priesthood was much more an administrative role. Its job was to perform certain rituals and rites, to accept and be the ones designated to manage sacrifices, etc. By the time of Christ, the High Priest was a political appointment and the priesthood as a whole had greatly fallen into general disrespect. (This is part of the cultural background as to why Jesus might have spoken and acted as he is said to have, at the temple)

This is true, but if we are clearing up misunderstandings, priests are descendants of Aaron, and are charged with supervising sacrifices and the Temple. There are still Jewish priests today (virtually any Jew named Katz or Cohen) although because the Temple no longer exists they don't have much to do -- although there are certain honors given to them in Synagogues to this day. By the way, the office of High Priest was a political appointment long before the time of Jesus -- NPOV ;) -- it was political during the Seleucid period and Hasmonean period.Slrubenstein
Not all priests were. There was at least one rival priesthood. I have forgotten whom they had to descend from, but it was not Aaron. CheeseDreams 19:59, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Do you mean Eleazar? Ithamar? It would help if you gave a name! Slrubenstein
Would you be so kind as to look up forgotten in the dictionary, and tell me whether it matches your perception of the term? CheeseDreams 01:09, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you cannot back up your claim, please do not make it. Trust me, I have many doubts about your memory. Slrubenstein
The whole point of a collaberative work is that other people fill in the missing detail. Since you repeatedly threaten to delete things I write I wonder whether you comprehend this? CheeseDreams 10:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I delete only those things anyone has written that I believe to be flat out wrong (unless someone can give me proof) based on my reading of the sources; or what is so poorly written as to make no sense, or to add no substance to the article. Is there anything I have added to this article, by the way, that you have not deleted? Slrubenstein
  • If something is poorly written re-write it. If you can't work out what it says, rearrange it until you can (thats what I do).
  • Believing something to be flat out wrong is a belief which is POV
  • Believing something adds no substance to an article is a belief which is POV
  • If you look at my edits, you will see that I predominantly change or add content
  • If you look at your edits, you will see you predominantly delete content
CheeseDreams 23:37, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Saducees vs. Pharisees

(3) Additionally, and please someone check my memory on the Saducees and Pharisees articles, I have a recollection that Jewish culture was about like this. You had on the one hand, the Saduccees, basically the priesthood, political appointees for the romans now, status oriented, generally not too respected. And the Pharisees would then have been the various rabbinical school (Rabbi = "teacher"), Hillel, Gamliel and their peers, and their various academies and branches of teaching, the Jerusalem school, the Babylonian school, and so on. At this point rabbinic Judaism was not hidebound by coded law, and was actively being developed, so child wonders who knew the source writings by age 8 or 9 were not unheard of, and could regularly be found debating obscure points with learned rabbis on street corners (as Jesus is described to have done). Passers by, for whom religion was part of the culture, would stop and listen and hang round these debates (like most of the Middle East even today, the streets were where things are busy), to listen and learn and hear the scholars talk.

It was also a time when questions of tradition were actively being explored - did a gold tooth fall under commands concerning health like a wooden leg, or was the choice of gold akin to ornamentation, for example. Razor sharp questions such as Jesus is said to have asked, were the usual style of religious debate, that a scholar would throw at a debating partner or opponent, and were highly typical of this time and place. FT2 07:30, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)

I think it is important to weave point 3 into the article. CheeseDreams 14:05, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
FT2 makes a number of very important points, all of which are worth at least mentioning in the article. However, point 3 is a little off. The Sadducees and Pharisees developed as political parties during the Hasmonean period. It is true that the Saducees are linked to the priesthood, and the Pharisees linked to the scribes and sages. BUT this is not a strict homology. First, there were priests who were Pharisees, and scribes who were Saducees. Second, many Saducees and Pharisees were neither priests nor sages, but rather regular people (merchants, farmers) who supported one party or the other. In other words, most pharisees were not rabbis, and some rabbis -- if you use the word generically to mean "teacher" -- were saducees. (An analogy, to illustrate: one might suggest that in the US many bankers are Republicans and many Hollywood artists are Democrats. But there are bankers who are Democrats, and there are Hollywood actors who are Republicans. Moreover, although virtually all political leaders in the US are either Republicans or Democrats, most Republicans and Democrats are not leaders -- they are not Congressmen or Senators or Governors, they are ordinary people who support one of these two parties). Finally, during this period in Jewish history (late Second Temple i.e. from teh Hasmoneans to the destruction of the Second Temple) most Jews were not partisans of either party. Slrubenstein
Is that like most Christians at the reformation were neither Protestant or Catholic? CheeseDreams 19:59, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I honestly do not know enough about the Reformation to answer your question. BUT it would be like saying that most Protestants and Catholics are not priests or ministers or theologians. Slrubenstein
How? You are saying the Jews were neither Sadducees (believers in the importance of Temple ritual and the priesthood) or Pharisees (believers in the importance of "Biblical" text and discussions). This is much more like claiming most people at the reformation were not either Catholic (compare Sadducees) or Protestant (compare Pharisees). CheeseDreams 01:14, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Your definitions of Pharisee and Saducee are faulty. Virtually all Jews believed that the Temple ritual was important, and that the Biblical text was important -- these do not characterize the Saducees and the Pharisees, these are generally held positions. What I meant by my reply was that just as most Catholics and Protestants are not ministers, priests, or theologians, most Pharisees were not rabbis and most Saducees were not priests. This fact is not in any way exclusive of the other fact, that most people were neither Pharisees nor Saducees.Slrubenstein
Of course most Pharisees were not rabbis, etc., but I fail to see the relevance of pointing that out. CheeseDreams 10:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, isn't all this discussion in response to FT2's comment above? In that comment he identifies the Pharisees with Rabbis and their Rabbinical schools. I thus felt it was important to clarify that most Pharisees were not rabbis. this seems reasonable, isn't it? Also, I recall someone identifying "Paul" as a rabbi -- that he was a Pharisee does not mean he was a rabbi.
Is it fair to say that most of the synagogues were under Pharisaical direction at this time? So that day-to-day religious life was more shaped by Pharisaism than Saduceeism? (I've read that somewhere, but don't know if it's correct.) Mpolo 20:52, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC)
I'll have to do some more research, to answer your first question, but I think the answer is no. The history of synagogues is complex; before "synagogue" (in Hebrew, bet-kneset) became dominant they coexisted with proseuchai (Greek, but the Hebrew would have been Bet Tefillah, house of prayer) in the Diaspora which were during the Hasmonean period outside of Phariseic influence. Practices in synagogues was based on and paralleled practices in the Temple (and, as others have noted, priests were more closely alligned to the Saducees, although not exclusively). For example, The "Shema" was recited twice daily in the Temple and people who lived far from the Temple assmebled in proseuchai to recite the Shema twice daily. As to your second question concerning day-to-day religious life, the answer is a qualified no. It is true that the Pharisees, like the Essenes, did nore than any other group to establish a "day-today" religious life by developing ritual practices that could be done outside of the Temple. But most Jews prior to the destruction of the Temple didn't belong to any party -- Pharisees, Essenes, etc. -- and would have had a minimal daily religious life. Pharisees were more closely alligned with scribes (again, not exclusively) who read the Torah in marketplaces during the week, if this is what you mean by "daily religious life" but the Pharisees as a party did not control this practice. Legal decisions were ultimately made by the Sanhedrin which had, as members, both Pharisees and Saducees (again, until 70) Slrubenstein
I think someone Jewish would be better placed to ask someone about this.CheeseDreams 01:09, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What on earth do you mean? Are you suggesting that Mpolo is not Jewish, and that since he is not Jewish he can't ask this question? I think whether someone is Jewish or not, they are well-placed to ask someone about this. Slrubenstein
I am suggesting that someone Jewish is best placed to find out the answers. CheeseDreams 10:11, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
This verges on racism. Are you suggesting that a non-Jew cannot do serious historical research? Don't you know that some top scholars on Ancient and Hellenistic Jewish history are non-Jews? Many of Wikipedia's contributors are not Jewish -- does that mean they cannot contribute to articles on Jewish topics? I find this very offensive. It also seems you are disparaging my answer to Mpolo. Do I understand you correctly? I provide a paragraph-long answer to Mpolo, and you then write "someone Jewish is best placed to find out the answers." Please explain what you mean by this. Are you rejecting my answer to Mpolo? If so, you should do that on the grounds that my research is wrong, not on the basis of my race or religion. If I understand your comment you have really gone to far here in making a personal attack, an attack on my ability to contribute to this discussion because of my race or religion. If you did not mean this, please explain why, after I answer Mpolo's questions with a lengthy paragraph, you comment that someone Jewish should answer the question. Slrubenstein
Clearly you are deliberately misinterpreting my text so as to be able to commit libel. Do you comprehend the fact that a Jew is more likely to have a copy of the Talmud than a non-Jew? Do you further comprehend that a Jew is more likely to have access to a scholar or religious teacher with some knowledge on how to read the Talmud, or where to find passages in it than a non-Jew? Do you further comprehend that the cultural history and technical details of Judaism are more likely to be communicated to a Jew than a non-Jew during their upbringing and religious education? CheeseDreams 23:46, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The Talmud is a post-Phariseeical document of some but very limited value to answering Mpolo's questions. Moreover, many Jews do not own or have studied the Talmud. Moreover, there are non-Jews sho have studied the Talmud. More to the point, there are non-Jews who have studied Second Temple Jewish History (which is what Mpolo's question is about, and which is entirely pre-Talmudic). Finally, answer my question: why do you dismiss the answer I gave Mpolo? Are you saying I have done a poor job of communicating something about Jewish cultural history, including technical details -- poorer than a Jew would have? What are your objections to my answer to Mpolo? What are your objections to my answering Mpolo's question?
The Talmud is a collection of writings, which was originally started in I think something like 200AD or earlier and collected from memories of people who were only a few generations away from the "2nd" Temple (2nd is disputed, some claim it was the 1st).
My objection to you answering Mpolo's question is that you have a vested interest in the answer. CheeseDreams 00:37, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think that Slrubenstein's point was that anyone can find a Jew to talk to, a Jew who has a copy of the Talmud and has been raised in Judaism and so on. To suggest that to even ask the question requires one to be a Jew, at least has the appearance of suggesting that most Jews would be unwilling to share such information with non-Jews. Apparently this isn't what you meant, and the misunderstanding arose from a simple poor choice of words. Wesley 17:55, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't know where you live, but there are not really many Jews around here. You are more likely to find a witch doctor (if you are lucky). CheeseDreams 00:37, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I am sorry, Wesley, you misunderstnad. I believe that there are Jews who couldn't answer Mpolo's questions and that there are non-Jews who can -- not because of their race, whether they are or aren't Jewish, and not because they know a Jew they can ask but because they have done sound historical research. Slrubenstein
Nethertheless, it is more likely' that a Jew will know the answer. In the same way, it is more likely that a Christian will know about what the sign of the cross (that thing people do with their hands) really means (ill give you a clue - most people get it wrong, ask a Jesuit for the right answer). CheeseDreams 00:37, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

By the way, someone suggest that perhaps CheeseDream is saying that the answer I gave to Mpolo wouldn't make sense to non-Jews. Wesley, I know you are not Jewish, so please tell: is the paragraph in question (my answer to Mpolo, above) poorly written or unclear? Can you tell me how I could make it clearer? thanks, Slrubenstein

I am not Jewish, nor a follower of Judaism, (IANATS, or for that matter, IANABS ;) and I had some difficulty parsing and processing that paragraph primarily due to its strict reliance on jargon and specialized knowledge. That is, you're writing like a scholar. As often as not, so is CheeseDream, but I understand his motivations (encyclopedic articles) better than yours (which I'm unclear on) so that may be the confounding factor. Amgine
The important word is like rather than as.CheeseDreams 00:37, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Thank you for your honest answer. Let me try again -- and I will try to be shorter. I really appreciate it if you tell me again whether this is unclear or not. Mpolo asks, "Is it fair to say that most of the synagogues were under Pharisaical direction at this time? So that day-to-day religious life was more shaped by Pharisaism than Saduceeism? (I've read that somewhere, but don't know if it's correct.)" Mpolo 20:52, Nov 6, 2004 (UTC) My answer is, to the first qwuestion I am not sure but I do not think so. Today Jews use the word "Synagogue" to mean a meeting house, house of study, and house of prayer. Furing the time in question there were differences between Jews in Judea, who had "synagogue" meeting houses, and Jews in the diaspora who had "prayer houses." These prayer houses were not called synagogues, although today people might think of them as just like synagogues. Since Pharisees didn't have any special authority in the diaspora, there is no reason to think they would have had control over those prayer houses. But there is no evidence that Pharisees had any control over synagogues wither. As for the second question, the answer is no, not at that time. At that time there were two groups, Pharisees and Essenes, who tried to expand the rituals in day-to-day relgious life, among themselves. After the destruction of the Temple the Pharisees developed into Rabbinic Judaism which in turn influenced most forms of Judaism today. So you could say that ultimately the Pharisees had a big influence on the day to day relgious lives of Jews today. But did they have a big impact on the day to day relgious lives during the time of Jesus? No. Most Jews were not Pharisees and would not have been influenced by their teachings. When any Jew was involved in a dispute involving Jewish law, or had a question about practice, they would appeal to the Sanhedrin (a kind of court). Pharisees participated in the Sanhedrin, but so did others (like Saducees) and during this time Pharisees had no unusual influence over the institution, or impact on its rulings. Does this make sense? Slrubenstein

Yes, but it could perhaps be stated more succinctly. Allow me to take a stab at it.
Modern followers of Judaism use the word "Synagogue" formally to mean a meeting house, house of study, and house of prayer. During the time in question there were different meanings attached to the word, and less formal places to engage in religious practices.
Pharisees did not have any special authority in the less formal religious buildings, and furthermore the general population did not integrate their spiritual practices as thoroughly in their day-to-day life. Even in cases which came before a religious court (the Sanhedrin), it was generally made up of both Pharisees and other religious authorities (such as Saducees). So, at the time in question the Pharisees probably did not have much influence in the average daily religious practices of Jewish people.
Is this what you wanted to say? Amgine

Yes, thanks! But I would rewrite it to say "Pharisees did not have any special authority in these institutions" rather than in "these less formal religious buildings" -- less formal is pov and opens up a can of worms.Slrubenstein

I still take issue with CheeseDream's rejecting my contribution by saying that I "have a vested interest in the answer." What, pray tell, is my vested interest? And still, I think we are on very shaky ground, rejecting good research because we don't like the researcher. What is wrong with what I wrote? Why does it matter who I am, if what I wrote is accurate and useful and well-researched? My big problem is that Cheese seems to be saying that he will reject everything I write because he doesn't like who I am. I can't believe this is in line with Wikipedia policy! Slrubenstein

<Nod>, I can see that change as beneficial.
Your "vested interest" is your opinions and beliefs on the substance of these issues, which can lead to biased research without the researcher realizing it.

You need to be clearer about what my vested interest is, and how it has negatively affected what I have written, because in this specifi instance I see no bias in what I wrote. Slrubenstein

The opinions and beliefs are not a problem, per se, unless they unduly influence either how the research is conducted or the reporinting of findings. (As a researcher in a completely unrelated field I can assure you that even the hardest of hard science quantitative research is susceptible to bias.) It is normal, accepted process to undergo peer review of other experts in a given field (unless your grant is to the US NIH under the current administration, but that's a rant for another subject.) In a peer review circumstance, if research previously submitted has been discovered to have bias then later submissions will be more closely scrutinized; the index of suspicion is higher.
Frankly, some of your previous actions have appeared to me to be biased, and it is only reasonable that CheeseDream would ask for more stringent review. Likewise, some of CheeseDream's submissions appear to have a skeptic pov, and should be examined carefully, but thus far his (gender assumption - online english needs a gender-neutral pronoun) arguments appear to be well supported in the literature. - Amgine 19:06, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I seem to remember someone proclaiming that they would remove text from a certain article unless I gave references to it, because "Wikipedia is not a forum for personal research". Now, it seems to me that Slrubensteins paragraphs on the subject are personal research. Of course, were the certain someone to retract (and cross through) that threat, then Slrubensteins research could be considered. CheeseDreams 19:34, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Nothing that I wrote in my answer to Mpolo was based on original research. What do you think was original research and why? Back up your accusations. Slrubenstein

Look, if you are saying that I am biased in the way everyone has biases of course I accept that. Thats precisely why at Wikipedia everyone is an editor; our respective biases cancel or balance out. But CheeseDreams seems to be saying that I have a bias that leads him to rejct any contribution I make to this article. That seems fundamentally unfair. You write that the problem is when a researcher bias leads to biased research. Okay: please tell me what the bias is in my one paragraph reply to Mpolo? Don't you see that this has been my problem all along -- CheeseDream simply rejected the research I did without ever saying what was wrong with what I wrote. I just want to know, which sentence is wrong? What important facts am I leaving out? Don't you agree that CheeseDream's reply to these questions of mine -- that what I write can't be trusted simply because of my bias -- is wrong?

This is not improving the article.
It appeared to me there was no rejection, but a request for additional commentary by other experts in the field.

Alas, you are wrong. Cheese above states explicitly that he rejects any answer from me. Also, he did not request additional commentary from other "experts," he requested comments from "Jews" He made no clear appeal to "experts," the implication is that anyone Jewish is more expert than any non-Jew (regardless of training/education), this is racist. Slrubenstein That is, your report was not being simply accepted as fact, but needed corroborating commentary. Amgine 19:22, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

P.s., Slrubenstein, are you going to apologise for accusing me of racism?

CheeseDreams 19:35, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I said that what you wrote verges on racism, and asked for clarification. Specifically:

This verges on racism. Are you suggesting that a non-Jew cannot do serious historical research? Don't you know that some top scholars on Ancient and Hellenistic Jewish history are non-Jews?

Please answer the two questions. If your answer to the first is "no" and your answer to the second is "I recognize there are such non-Jewish scholars," then clearly I misunderstood your remark and it does not verge on racism. I still ask, what was wrong with what I wrote, though. Slrubenstein

To say something verges on racism is to IMPLY it is racist. So, I ask you again, are you going to apologise?
And, as I have said before, I am not going to justify myself to you. CheeseDreams 20:14, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Lacking any explanation on your point, your comment was racist. I have given you an opportunity to explain the statement and clarify your position, and you refuse to do so, which reenforces my sense that what you wrote was racist. Slrubenstein

So you are stating that you are in willingly in violation of the Wikipedia:Civility policy? CheeseDreams 20:16, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Moving comment to current Talk... JDG 07:34, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)