Richard Dawkins wrote:This rebuttle involves the same circular reasoning: it assumes first century Christians wanted to wear crosses and use them as physical symbolism and then sets out to discover and document all the hypothetical reasons that they in fact didn't.
Err… my rebuttal assumes that Christians wanted to wear crosses, and gives the reasons why they didn’t want to wear crosses? <chuckle> Nice try to create a circularity where one does not exist. My position, rather, acknowledges that early Christians had reservations about depicting crosses materially, explains what those reservations were, shows that they do not mirror the rationale behind the LDS no-cross protocol, and argues that LDS apologists should therefore not use the early Christian non-use as a justification for their aversion to the cross. Literary evidence indicates that although Christians did not materially depict the cross, the visual symbol was extremely sacred to them. Unlike the LDS Church, they revered it and looked for its manifestation around them.
Also… you need to understand that your justification for one area condemns you in other areas. For example, the Mormon custom of placing a depiction of an angel on their religious architecture would have been unacceptable for early Christians.
I wrote: I have found no evidence to support this popular LDS assertion. If you have any, please do share. Your reductio absurdem, that the cross symbolizes a mere instrument of torture, is not consistent with their reverence for the manifestation of the cross. Nor is it consistent with early Christian literary imagery.
Coggins7 (AKA Richard Dawkins) responds: I'll share it again for you: there is no evidence whatever of the use, and especially the popular, widespread use of the cross for any purpose whatever, until around the fourth century. Those are the historical facts of the matter as the evidence stands.
I asked for evidence to substantiate your assumption that the absence of the Cross was due to an abhorrence of the instrument that killed Jesus… and you cite the absence. What were you saying about circularity? <chuckle>
Nonetheless, without literary or documented evidence of a particular reverence for the cross itself in either the first century or most of the second, you are arguing to the wind.
Are you reading my posts?????The Cross Made Manifest
Christians, rather than depicting sacred and spiritual realities materially, observed their natural occurrence. They looked for their natural manifestations around them. Such mystical observation was sought out for the cross, as noted by Minucius Felix. He states that although they do not outwardly use the physical image of the cross (“we [Christians] neither worship nor wish for [the cross]”), they brought it to mind when they saw its resemblance in other things:
“We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.” (19)
Consistent with the views of Clement, Minucius explains how Christians look for the manifestation of the cross, rather than (like pagans) create the outward image of it.
It is clear that many Christians refrained from using images that derived from an improper process of unnaturally manipulating dead matter, which would have (according to Clement and other Christians) dishonored nature and God, and broken the second commandment. Christians were not creating a religious symbol for the sake of its religious significance. Rather, the images they viewed were mere natural manifestations of spiritual realities, perceived by the mind.
This mystical viewing was a popular trend among early Christians. Jerome discovered the manifestation of the cross in a swimming man, flying bird, and a man praying with extended arms. (20) Justin Martyr proclaims that a ship’s sail, a plough, the banners and trophies of the government, and the human form (body posture, and profile of face head) each manifest “no other form than that of the cross.” (21) Tertullian speaks of the cross being manifested in the human posture, and by “Every piece of timber which is fixed in the ground in an erect position.” (22)
Christians similarly looked for hidden manifestation of the cross throughout the Old Testament. (23) Tertullian observes the way that Moses, “at the time when Joshua was battling against Amalek, pray[ed] sitting with hands expanded…,” and in the brazen serpent that Moses hung on a tree, in order to heal Israel. “[H]e was exhibiting the Lord's cross,” concludes Tertullian. (24)
The Epistle of Barnabas finds a manifestation of the crucifixion in the number of men that Abraham circumcised in his household:
“For [the Scripture] saith, ‘And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household.’ What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted — Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, ‘Three Hundred.’ He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy.” (25)
The Tau (T or +)(26) is the last Letter of the Greek alphabet, and has the numeric value of 300. Christians believed that the tau was equivalent to the Hebrew letter omega (being the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and name of God), and manifested the image of the cross in its form. Such symbolism was also found manifest in the proportions of Noah’s ark: “Now there are some who say that three hundred cubits are the symbol of the Lord's sign,” reports Clement of Alexandria. (27)
The mystical search and observation of the cross, allowed Christians to embrace the symbol without depicting it materially (breaking the second commandment) or drawing the attention of their persecutors. Christians also got around these obstacles by tracing the “Lord’s sign,”(T or +, which revealed the cross) upon their foreheads. Tertullian records:
“We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.” (28)
The Christian act of tracing the sign was in fact a reenactment of God’s command in Ezekiel 9:4. Tertullian explains this elsewhere:
“He [Christ] signed them with that very seal of which Ezekiel spake: "The Lord said unto me, Go through the gate, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set the mark Tau upon the foreheads of the men." Now the Greek letter Tau and our own letter T is the very form of the cross, which He predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem… Now, inasmuch as all these things are also found amongst you, and the sign upon the forehead, and the sacraments of the church, and the offerings of the pure sacrifice, you ought now to burst forth, and declare that the Spirit of the Creator prophesied of your Christ.” (29)
Tracing the cross (tau) upon their forehead was not in conflict with the second commandment, since doing so did not manipulate dead matter. Nor did the private action draw the attention of critics, since the symbol was traced invisibly. By tracing the sign, rather than drawing it visibly Christians were able to worship inconspicuously, and get their reservations for depicting the cross materially.Conclusion
In conclusion, I repeat that the absence of the image of the cross in Christian artwork, was due to three significant reasons. 1) Christians desired to worship inconspicuously. 2) The image was a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles, and therefore was not used as an emblem for attracting converts. 3) Christians had reservations about depicting the cross materially, bearing that they would commit the sin of Idolatry.
One should not conclude from this absence that the visual sign of the cross wasn’t therefore sacred to Christians. Though they had reservations about creating material depictions of the cross, many of them got around those reservations by looking for its mystical manifestation, and tracing it upon their foreheads.
19 Minucius Felix, The Octavius of the Octavius of, ch 29; as found in software The Complete Christian Collection (Packard Technologies, 1999).
20 Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible (vol 5), The Gospel According to Matthew, 27:35.
21 First Apology of Justin, ch 55.
22 AD Nationes, book 1, ch 12.
23 Hippolytus and Clement see the image and message of the cross in the Greco-Roman Myth, when the Ulyssies is tied to the mast of the ship (Cross of Christ), that he may not give way to the voice of the sirens. The Refutation of all Heresies, book 7; Exhortation to the Heather, ch 12.
24 Tertullian, Answers to the Jews, ch 10.
25 Epistle of Barnabas, ch 9; see also Clement of Alexandria, The Stroma, book 6, ch 11.
26 “St. Jerome and many others have thought that the letter tau was that which was ordered to be placed on the foreheads of those mourners; and Jerome says, that this Hebrew letter t tau was formerly written like a cross. So then the people were to be signed with the sign of the cross! It is certain that on the ancient Samaritan coins, which are yet extant, the letter t tau is in the form +, which is what we term St. Andrew’s cross.” Clarke’s Commentary, volume 4, chapter 9, verse 4.
27 The Stroma, book 6, ch 11.
28 The Chaplet, or De Corona, ch 3.
29 The Five Books Against Macrion, book 3, ch 22; see also Tertullian, Answer to the Jews, ch 11.
I wrote: Also... "Clear implication that the atonement itself was undergone in the Garden"? Where??? I agree that it would have been difficult for Christians to come up with a material image to remind them of the Garden of Gethsemane. Literary imagery, on the other hand, wouldn't have been so difficult. Nor would it have been difficult for Christians to look for the manifestation of the Garden of Gethsemane. The absence of such imagery in Early Christian literature, therefore, seems to undermine your rationale.
Coggins7 responds: Or it undermines yours, as perhaps they weren't looking of any such imagery at all.
Read my repost above and explain more clearly what you are saying here. I am not following you.
Your affection for tautology has become rather conspicuous at this point. Assuming each and every one of these to be correct, you have still never so much as approached the question your arguments are supposed to be grappling with: did early Christians wear and venerate the cross? Your approach continues to assume that they did,
What the?... My approach assumes that early Christians wore the cross? Where in the HELL did you get that idea from? Did they venerate the cross? By the evidence that I cited above… yes. There is no assumption here. The evidence speaks for itself.
based upon a series of plausible but historically unsupported social conditions that might very well have mitigated any such desire but may very well have had no effect on such if no such desire existed in the first place, and you have not as yet provided a cogent argument of historical evidence to the effect that such a desire or tradition existed much before the third century.
Drop the lance Quixote, and leave that poor windmill alone!
I wrote: Do you remember the Iconoclastic actions of Jerome that I cited? Jerome reports that he visited a Christian church, where he saw a veil that had a depiction of Jesus or a disciple on it, and that upon seeing it, he tore it down and replaced it with a plain veil. This occasion shows that even after the Milvian Bridge, there remained disagreement among some Christians over God’s second commandment.
Coggins7 responded: You are still begging the same questions here. Adding more and more examples does nothing to ensure further certitude. The fact still remains that the popularity of the cross as a Christian symbol appears in the fourth century, well after Christen persecution was a dim memory.
You are arguing out of context. (Soft musical intro… To Dream… the Impossible Dream… To Fight… the Unbeatable Foe…)
I wrote: Your assumption that only one mode of baptism existed in Christianity prior to Constantine is naïve. Have you read the Didache?
Coggins7: Yes, doubtless more times than you have…. this document mention of sprinkling makes clear….
LOL! The document DOESN’T mention sprinkling. Had you been truly familiar with this text, you would have known this.
Coggins7: and while the Didache is a very valuable document, and highly prized among second century Christians. The reference to baptism here may or may not be an original part of the document.
Whether it was from the original document is irrelevant to me, so long as it was a CHRISTIAN who made the interpolation/redaction.
Here's what Crossen, in The Birth of Christianity says:
. . . the Didache may derive from a rural rather than an urban situation. It may stem from the consensus of rural households rather than the authority of urban patrons. Willy Rordorf and Andre Tullier, writing in a major French series, located the Didache in northern Palestine or western Syria, but not in the capital city of Antioch. They noted that the text is addressed to "rural communities of converted pagans" (98). It "reveals a Christianity established in rural communities who have broken with the radicalism of earlier converts" (100). It "speaks principally to rural milieus converted early on in Syria and Palestine and no doubt furnishing the first Christian communities outside of cities" (128). Kurt Niederwimmer, however, writing in a major German series, considered it still possible that "the Didache could derive from an urban milieu," but he agreed that it was not from the great metropolis of Antioch (80). It is not enough, in any case, simply to note the mention of "firstfruits" in Didache 13:3-7, since that could indicate urban-based landowners. My own preference for a rural over an urban setting comes not from those few verses but from the Didache's rhetorical serenity, ungendered equality, and striking difference from so many other early Christian texts.
Here is what John S. Kloppenborg Verbin has to say on the subject of the sturcture of the document.
The Didache, an early second-century Christian composition, is also clearly composite, consisting of a "Two Ways" section (chaps. 1-6), a liturgical manual (7-10), instructions on the reception of traveling prophets (11-15), and a brief apocalypse (16). Marked divergences in style and content as well as the presence of doublets and obvious interpolations make plain the fact that the Didache was not cut from whole cloth. The dominant view today is that the document was composed on the basis of several independent, preredactional units which were assembled by either one or two redactors (Neiderwimmer 1989:64-70, ET 1998:42-52). Comparison of the "Two Ways" section with several other "Two Ways" documents suggests that Didache 1-6 is itself the result of multistage editing. The document began with rather haphazard organization (cf. Barnabas 18-20), but was reorganized in a source common to the Didache, the Doctrina apostolorum, and the Apostolic Church Order and supplemented by a sapiental meditation on minor and major transgressions (3.1-6) (Kloppenborg 1995c). In addition to this "Two Ways" section it is also possible to discern the presence of a mini-apocalypse related to someo f the materials that eventually found their way into Matthew 24-25 (Excavating Q, pp. 134-135)
Based on these quotes… what leads you to believe that the chapter 7 (which gives the instruction on baptism) isn’t Anti-Nicene Christian? These quotes give no information about chapter 7, other than that it is identified as a liturgical manual. Mormon Apologist Barry Bickmore certainly does not argue that the instruction is post-nicene:
The rite of baptism began to be perverted early on. Even in the first century certain communities had adopted the practice of pouring, but only when it was not possible to find enough water to immerse in. The Didache , which probably originated in Syria, suggests that one should be baptized in running water, but if none can be found, in still. Also, cold water is preferred over hot. ‘But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.’15 Perhaps in certain desert communities this eventuality was sometimes faced, and in time it became the practice of the Church in general to sprinkle or pour, especially when infants were baptized.” http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthen ... 0Immersion
You should also consider the Anti-Nicene Epistle of Cyprian, which states, "In the case of illness, one was baptized by pouring." (LXXIII: I)
Although numerous vestiges of the original Apostolic church existed into the second century, by the time The Didache had been composed in the early second century, significant changes had already taken place….
Irrelevant. Even if what you say is true, the document would still be ANTI-Nicene Christian.
There is no biblical warrant for it at all in the New Testament…
So what? You seem to think that I am making a claim for orthodoxy. <chuckle> I am agnostic. by the way… you are aware that the canonization of your volume of scripture is Anti-Nicene, aren’t you?
so we are left to understand that, in an era when everyone was claiming to be "orthodox" and claiming to have the forty day teachings, a variation like this isn't at all surprising.
You are arguing out of context.
You are still left with not a shred of evidence supporting an assertion that early, first century or second century Christians for that matter, would have used the cross in the way later early medieval Christians did had they been utterly at liberty to do so.
Why must I provide this evidence, if this is not the argument that I am making. See above.
The LDS position on the cross is really very simple: it was the instrument of Christs torturous and agonizing death. We worship a living Christ, and therefore, memorializing that instrument is of little value for us. As far as visual reminders of him, many LDS, like myself, have pictures in our homes of him, but no crosses. He is risen, not dead, so we do not hold sacred the physical means of his death, even given the pivitol role it played in the entire Gospel drama, as to the final prophesied culmination of his ministry.
Yes. I understand that this is why many Latter-day Saints abhor the symbol. The million dollar questions for YOU, however, are: Can you find this same rationale being promoted by Early Christians? Why the sign of the nail in your temple ceremony, if the instruments that killed Jesus are so abhorrent?
The best you can do here is show that the fish was used in lieu of...what? The cross? No evidence.
I never argued this. Drop the lance.
It would be equally as likely for ancient Christians to have carved religiously inspired poetry or scriptural references on gravestones or tombs, as modern Christians do today. The fish would have been a ready alternative to that. Again, we see the popular use of the cross, and later the crucifix, appearing on the scene in the fourth and fifth centuries, not the first or second and barely in the third.