And just when I thought this thread was dead ....
Sorry, I got distracted by flying insects...
But don't we have:
2000BC Abraham (or is it at that stage Abram - pre covenant?) meeting up with Mechizedek - who is already a 'priest of G_d'?
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Melchizedek appears to be a title as you say - but appears to be a priest-king.
Yes to all, precisely. Melchizedek was a temporal king (of the city that would one day become the seat of the House of David) and priest of the same god worshipped by Abram/Abraham.
King hood didn't exist within the 'tribes' at that time and didn't occur until a thousand years later, as until that point 'G_d' is their 'king'
The tribes didn't exist in Abraham's time; they derived from Abraham's grandson Jacob and were nomadic. City-states had kings. Recall that Abraham was himself a city boy, hailing from Ur of the Chaldeans - which historians and archaeologists say could not have existed for several centuries after Abraham was said to have lived, Ergo it's possble that Abraham's home town was Ur-Usalamim (later Jerusalem) making Melchizedek Abraham's sovereign lord and priest of the same cult embraced by Abraham.
Melchizedek is still of obvious importance as he then resurfaces in Psalms (Davidic) -
1The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
So here we have what appears to be a non Levite order? I'm not sure of the use of 'order' here as it implies presumably a 'type' or a 'group'?
Yes, Melchizedek was still of obvious importance as an historical figure; but no, "order" here does not refer to a group, as in the Jesuit Order or the Order of Malta, but rather is a comparative term, i.e. "in the manner of." Both the original Hebrew of the OT references and the Greek of the NT references make this clear.
We then have Talmudic sources that imply that Melchizedek was in fact Shem (Shem the 'righteous king'), third son of Noah.
That would be an interesting prospect.
Coming closer to the time of Jesus, then don't we have a group that talks of Melchizedek in the same terms as Jesus (http://www.gnosis.org/library/commelc.htm
)., 2 Enoch (http://sonnen.tripod.com/enoch8.html
) seems to give a slightly different history to Melchizedek, but he is still a 'priest' forever. And the Essenes then have their 'teacher of righteousness' - Melchizedek line?
Well, again, there's no "line" referred to here. What we're looking at is a comparison between Melchizedek, who was a temporal king and priest, and Jesus, who by Paul's estimation was a heavenly king and priest "in the manner of Melchizedek"
- an obvious distinction from the Levitic priesthood to which Jesus did not belong (and which did not accept him), but not intended to be taken as an indication that Jesus ran a temple or ruled a physical kingdom.
Then we have Hebrews (written by Paul?), that make Jesus of this order. Paul is seriously trying to equate Jesus with this 'order' (see below for quotes from Hebrews). But does Paul misundertstand Melchizedek and make this person 'divine', either intentionally or unintentionally (http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.or ... izedek.htm
No, I don't think Paul misunderstood this, I think the misunderstanding comes from a more modern or recent misinterpretation of the word "order" ("manner") to mean "Order" ("organization") when the NT was translated into 17th century vernacular English. If you consult a lexicon this distinction is clear. We don't use the phrase "in/on the order of..." much in our modern parlance. In King James' time it would not have caused confusion or misinterpretation.
Irrespective, the order of Melchizedek, is obviously as important in the OT as the later Levitical priesthood, and it appears to have stood the test of time, appearing at 1000 year intervals thereafter. There are explanations showing that Melchizedek is an ancestor of Levi - so it is the same priesthood (http://www.donmeh-west.com/melchi.shtml
). I'm not sure I quite follow that, as if that's the case, why the not quote the latter Levitical priesthood (why didn't Paul use 'Aaron' in Hebrews? Ditto David in Psalms).
I'd have to disagree with your conclusions here. True, the Levitic Zadokites (Sadducees) did claim a lineage of priestly authority from Melchizedek, but again, the Levitic priesthood was a closed society comprised of Levite descendants of Aaron (i.e. not all Levites qualified as kohanim
). If Jesus didn't qualify by birthright then I can't imagine why Paul would have used "Aaron" in his Epistle to the Hebrews.
So, what I was getting at here (after all that) is that this 'jesus' is quite a threat to all concerned. He is of a different priesthood to the established order - a priesthood that is far older than the Levitical order. Jewish Priesthood not too happy. He is a King, from a line of Kings that existed before the tribes even thought about 'royalty'. Jewish Royalty under threat. He has just been made 'divine' - making him a 'Caesar' . Rome pee'd off. To me (being simple), I could see that such a person could be seen as a complete threat to all the parties involved in the running of 1st century Palestine, and that if a bloodline did exist then it would be seen as an ongoing threat. Do you not think that a viable view?
Sorry, no. I don't think this is a viable view. There were a lot of attributions laid on Jesus taken from the OT to conform to Messianic prophecy and put forward by his apostles, but I don't think they're meant to be taken literally, only metaphorically. The Apostles and early followers of Christ were determined to show that Jesus did meet the qualifications on a metaphorical level, as he certainly did not meet them on a literal, temporal level. It was not a very persuasive argument to 1st century Jews living under Roman rule since those qualifications were meant to be literal.
1. Hebrews 5:6
As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 5:5-7 (in Context) Hebrews 5 (Whole Chapter)
2. Hebrews 5:10
Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 5:9-11 (in Context) Hebrews 5 (Whole Chapter)
3. Hebrews 6:20
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 6:19-20 (in Context) Hebrews 6 (Whole Chapter)
4. Hebrews 7:1
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
Hebrews 7:1-3 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
5. Hebrews 7:10
For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
Hebrews 7:9-11 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
6. Hebrews 7:11
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Simple - Aaronic priests weren't kings. Melchizedek was both a king and a priest, which is the argument the early Christians were trying to make for Jesus.
Hebrews 7:10-12 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
7. Hebrews 7:15
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
Hebrews 7:14-16 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
8. Hebrews 7:17
For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 7:16-18 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
9. Hebrews 7:21
(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
Hebrews 7:20-22 (in Context) Hebrews 7 (Whole Chapter)
Bible quotes are from Biblegateway.
PS you also say:
Separation of church and state is a much more recent innovation.
Is that correct? I thought that the state and priesthood was separate, with the king answerable to G_d via the priesthood? In Jewish history that appears to be the case as a King wasn't created until after the priesthood was created - G_d was their king until Saul. And the priesthood was then hereditary wasn't it - so unless a Levite was made king, they were separate. I thought that in Britain, the only time that the King became 'joined' to the Church was with Henry VIII - whereafter the monarch was both the head of the Church as well as head of state? Wasn't that the point of that break - ie that Henry VII was answerable to the Pope?
Yes, you're right of course that state and church (or temple, in the case of ancient Judah) were separate institutions. What I was referring to was that they functioned interdependently, or were at least meant to (history is replete with examples of power struggles between temporal and spiritual authorities). The model of independence of church from state (and vice-versa) is more recent.
Wasn't it Paul who was evangelizing Gentiles? What would they have cared about the technicalities of a Jewish messiah's qualifications and role?
I would assume because he had to promote a 'god' to compete with the legacy of the Egyptian, Greek, Romans gods that had spanned millennia. He had to establish a comparable King-god.
Ah, but there's the rub - Jews weren't expecting their Messiah to be a god, but a flesh-and-blood human who would deliver them from foreign domination and restore the ancient kingdom of Israel. Proclaiming Jesus to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah wouldn't put him on par with foreign gods.
I really don't think that the dominant wing of the newly-formed religion had much interest in Jewish lineages. In fact they tended to marginalize the Jews.
I don't see that - don't two of the main Gospels go to great lengths to show a complete Jewish lineage? Isn't the point that Jesus is shown as being a bone-fide descendant of David?
Yes, but wasn't there also a long and tragic history of the church vilifying the entire Jewish people? We're talking about Gentile converts to Christianity here, not Jewish. To the Jewish converts Davidic lineage was necessary to portray Jesus as the Messiah of Jewish prophecy; it was a vital qualification because a descendant of David was prophesied to restore the Kingdom of Israel. No Davidic lineage, no messiah, and obviously the claim didn't make much of an impression on the Jewish population after Jesus was killed and the Romans were still there. It was the Gentile converts who re-crafted the qualifications for messiahship (messiahhood?) to re-focus on spiritual dimensions which would actually minimize the importance of Davidic descent and place the emphasis on Jesus being the only begotten son of God himself.
(And it could be argued that David saw himself of the line of Melchizedek given Psalm 110?). Although why a son of G_d (which is where I think the story gets so confused), needs a better lineage is beyond me - maybe as if Julius Caesar could be proclaimed a god, then god hood held no kudos any more - so an older 'authentic' lineage was sought?
"Of the line" doesn't necessarily imply a bloodline.
I know this will sound stupid after posting all this, but I'm not convinced that a bloodline is what this (RLC) is about (I think that Melchizedek is involved somehow). Just that if a bloodline is being put as a reason for 15th century painting anomalies, the above (IMHO) gives a more viable alternative to hide the bloodline than if Jesus was 'G_d' (I still find that a somewhat strange concept to get my head round).
Well, I wouldn't call your insights "stupid" at all; I might not agree with some of your conclusions but all in all you've put forward a well-organized set of ideas.
PPS Look into Melchizedek and Freemasonry if you haven't already. Why does such an insignificant character even feature in Masonry?
Probably because they've gone to great lengths to craft an "ancient" lineage for themselves.