by Earl Doherty
I am very impressed with your web site. You have brought together a lot of material and made it understandable. It seems to me that one aspect of your theory of Christian origins is weakly argued, namely your agreement with the common scholarly belief that the Gospels and Acts are very late documents. (J.A.T.) Robinson gave some very interesting reasons for dating all these books before 70 AD. His strongest argument was their lack of any clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, an argument strikingly similar to the fundamental reason for doubting Jesus' historicity, namely the silence of later writers!
Response to Michael:
Dating the Gospels and Acts
First of all, I would not say that there is a "common scholarly belief" that the Gospels and Acts are very late. All 4 Gospels have generally been placed within the period 65 or 70-100, with Acts somewhere in the middle of that span. Measured against other theories (arising in the 19th century and continuing in some circles to this day), which regard the Gospels as entirely second century documents, this is not "very late".
My own preferred dating is to see Mark no earlier than perhaps 90, with the others following by 125, and Acts not appearing until around 150, perhaps even a little later. This, of course, refers to the earliest versions of the Gospels, which did not enjoy any notable circulation at first, and which were not finalized in any canonical form until after Justin. And it regards those earliest versions as not intended to be history, though they began to make their influence felt in that direction by the second quarter of the second century. (Certain glimmerings of the idea that the spiritual Christ had been on earth, some with bare biographical details, were already emerging prior to the dissemination of the Gospels, such as we find in 1 John 4 and Ignatius of Antioch.)
On the other hand, there is almost no scholarly agreement with the picture of the late J.A.T. Robinson. His very early dating of the Gospels (with John as the earliest!) has even been labelled "donnish antics". One could devote much space to discrediting Robinson's theories, but I will refer the reader to G. A. Wells' The Historical Evidence for Jesus (Prometheus Books, 1982) in which he tackles Robinson's position in several places. Wells deals very convincingly, for example, with the question of whether Luke's reworking of the Markan apocalypse (Mark 13) shows that the destruction of Jerusalem lies behind him.
For me, one very strong, indeed overwhelming, argument against dating the Gospels so early, is that they do not show up in the rest of the Christian record until Justin, almost a full century later. Acts puts in an appearance only subsequent to Justin, in the 170s! One would be hard pressed to show why four accounts of the life of Jesus (all the Synoptics coming from the same area, possibly southern Syria, with John probably not too much further afield), together with the only account of the beginnings of the church and the missionary movement, would not have found their way into wider Christian awareness and usage for some one hundred years.
I would consider that a passage like Luke 19:41-4 ("For a time will come upon you, when your enemies will set up siege-works against you, etc."), and even Q's (third stage) "Look, there is your temple forsaken by God" (Mt. 23:38, echoing Jeremiah 22:5), are pretty clear indicators that these writers knew of the destruction of Jerusalem. Even Mark 13 can be regarded as specific enough for such a conclusion. In any case, the Gospels locate Jesus' words and actions three decades before the Jewish War, so it would hardly be surprising to find that the evangelists were being deliberately anachronistic, presenting the destruction of Jerusalem only in a prophetic way. Unless Robinson would have us believe that these are indeed genuine prophecies spoken by a precognizant Jesus, it's impossible to countenance his views seriously.
Anonymous ("mailbmc") writes:
It seems to me Satan would use the word "puzzle", which denotes something a human can work out, vs. the word "mystery", which implies faith, a word your rationalizing humanistic mind has no use for. What good is it doing misleading all these souls for your miserable 72 years of existence??? Jesus have mercy on your ego!!
Response to Anonymous:
I make no apology for possessing, and using, a rational mind. Hopefully, we are nearing a time when the increase in rational thought which our society has enjoyed over the last few decades will finally become great enough to effect the demise of concepts such as "Satan".
(Normally, I decline to respond to any mailing which does not supply at least a first name, but a reaction like this epitomizes many of the comments I have received, and serves as a pointer to the pressing need to examine the Christian myth and the effects it has had on the Western mind for almost 2,000 years.)
I find some problems with the idea that Jeshua never lived. 1. To deny his existence, it seems to me, must also call the existence of John the Baptist into question. However, we have a remnant group called the Mandeans with a history of their own and a memory of their Johannine foundation. 2. There are also the Ebionites who, apparently, refused the deification of the Nazarene. The problem with them was the reverse of what is stated in your thesis: they were denying the apotheosis. 3. There is the reaction of the Jews at the time. They did not deny his existence while, at the same time, disparaging him as much as possible. It seems an all too obvious retort, if it were true, to say he had never been. 4. Within your overall thesis, would it not be just as likely that the Jerusalem Pillars, and/or the Galileans, grafted their own teacher onto the extant Son of God cults thereby literalizing the mythic elements of the mystery cults? It would not be a matter of a poor teacher being suddenly elevated to the level of a mythic god; but, rather, it would be the attaching to the itinerant healer an already-existing theogony.
Response to Robert:
John the Baptist / Ebionites / Talmud
There is no reason that I can see why John the Baptist's existence needs to be called into question. Josephus attests to him (Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, 5), without, by the way, connecting him to any Jesus or Christian cult. Q (Lk. 16:16) attests to a view by certain Palestinian circles preaching the Kingdom that John the Baptist marked the beginning of a time of such preaching, and it was easy enough for a later stage of that community, as well as the first evangelist, "Mark", to choose to link the invented Jesus to him, whether in midrashic fashion or as perceived history.
Our evidence for what the Ebionites thought comes from the third and fourth centuries. (See my response to Lynn.) All this tells us is that once the historical Jesus was developed and everyone eventually came on board, certain "Jewish-Christian" groups decided that this Jesus of Nazareth could not have been divine. They were not "denying the apotheosis," they were abandoning the previous exalted phase of belief in a spiritual Christ as no longer applicable to a presumed human figure. In any case, we can't tell anything definite about the continuity of such later Jewish-Christian sects with earlier groups.
For your objection to be valid, we would have to postulate that certain Jewish-Christian groups right at the beginning did not elevate Jesus to divinity. But we have no evidence for this. Even the clearly Jewish epistles like James and Hebrews give us no non-divinized human Jesus. And Paul would seem to disprove the idea, since he provides not a hint of such a vast difference of opinion about Jesus between himself and the Jerusalem apostles (to whom the Jewish-Christian groups tend to trace themselves). As for Q, drawing from its early layers the picture of a non-divinized historical teacher is very shaky (see Part Three and my review of Burton Mack's Who Wrote the New Testament?). Furthermore, as I point out in my response to Lynn, the earliest preserved traditions about the view of Christ held by certain Jewish-Christian sects show quite the opposite: Christ seems to be of an angelic, spiritual nature, so that the much-quoted Ebionite position on Jesus as entirely human would have to be a later development.
As for "the reaction of the Jews at the time": if you are referring to the later Jewish references to Jesus in the Talmud, such things began to be written down only in the third century and are so garbled they can hardly provide a reliable witness to anything. Most were a reaction to Christian views of a later time, and only a handful were attributed to rabbis living at the end of the first century, none earlier. Nor could a third century Jew be in any better position than a Christian to deny the already firmly established misinterpretation of the Gospels, and I doubt that a third century record of what first century rabbis were supposed to have said can be taken as any more reliable than the later Christian witness about many of its own first century traditions. The transmission and preservation of almost everything in those times was tendentiously determined. Ironically, Justin records (or invents to reflect a stereotype view) a Jew of his time (mid-second century) who accuses Christians of "inventing a Christ for yourselves" (Dialogue with Trypho 8:6).
I don't see much of a difference between elevating a man to Godhead, and attaching an "existing theogony" to him. And the end result is the same. In any case, such processes would seem next to impossible in a Jewish milieu, and neither viewpoint can explain the total eclipse of all record of the human antecedent once the elevation had taken place.
Your scenario (not quoted here) about a seditious Jesus crowned by his followers, who then took over the Temple, could not possibly have escaped Josephus' (and others') attention. Had Josephus recorded such a dramatic scene, it would hardly have been simply excised by later Christians tampering with Josephus to insert the famous Antiquities 18 interpolation.
Robert (in a second mailing) also writes:
Wouldn't the fact that (the Jesus movement) preached a new covenant have required a new Moses? In the Jewish mind, wouldn't there have to be an historical moment on which to hang the new agenda? It seems easier to conclude that some unknown was attached to the process gratuitously to give substance to the idea of a new covenant than to think that there never had been anyone.
Response to Robert:
A New Moses for a New Covenant
Well, we look in vain within all of the epistles for an "historical moment" on which the new agenda was hung. If it was so required by the Jewish mind, why does Paul transport the crucifixion to the spiritual world at the hands of the demon spirits? (1 Corinthians 2:8. See Supplementary Article No.3: Who Crucified Jesus?) Why is no trace of interest in the historical event, indeed the entire life Jesus is supposed to have lived, to be found in all the early Christian correspondence? You fail to accord sufficient weight to the mythological and philosophical thinking of the time, which had its eye fixed on the upper "genuine" realm of reality, where the activity of all savior gods was perceived to take place. In this realm, the "new Moses" could exist and do his work without ever touching terra firma.
Look at the Epistle to the Hebrews. Few things in early Christian expression are closer to portraying Jesus as a new Moses, establisher of the new covenant, and yet this writer (see chapters 8 and 9) places his Jesus firmly in the higher heavenly world. Jesus and his sacrifice are the spiritual (Platonic) equivalents of the earthly High Priest and the atoning sacrifice he performs. He also fails to mention a word about the Last Supper, where Jesus in the Gospels pronounces the words of the eucharist which establishes that new covenant! Now turn to chapter 12, verses 18 to 29, the peroration of the entire epistle, where the two covenants are placed side by side. First the reader is reminded of the mount of Sinai where the old covenant was granted, and we hear the voice of Moses, the mediator of the old. When the author turns to the scene of the new covenant, where does he place his readers' vision? Upon the mount of Calvary, beneath the cross on which Jesus of Nazareth hangs? No. Where Mt. Sinai symbolized the old covenant, it is Mt. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem—still an Old Testament motif—which symbolizes the new. And whose voice does he give us in parallel to Moses'? Not the voice of the earthly Jesus, which has not been heard throughout the entire epistle, but the voice of God. (See my Supplementary Article No. 9 on the Epistle to the Hebrews.) I fail to see any "historical moment" in evidence in all this, or anywhere else in the early Christian correspondence.
Finally, I must disagree that it is easier to conclude that all this otherworldly theology was attached to an unknown man. Such an attachment makes no sense, especially by Jews. On the other hand, if the spirit of the times has populated heaven with layers of spiritual and salvific activity, I can see no problem in placing Paul's Christ in such a setting, particularly since he gives us nothing else.
What I do not see you examine in your writings is the supposition of the "secrecy in a mystical cult". If these people were referring to "mysteries" orally transmitted during initiations, and secret get-togethers, they would only do it symbolically and in a cursive manner. Compare the Eleusinian mysteries, of which practically nothing is known, although very prolific writers partook of them. Masons are still playing this game. This, in my opinion, would explain the "silence" on the historical Jesus in the writings.
Response to Anna:
Christianity as a "Mystery"
There is no evidence that early Christian cults acted under principles of "secrecy" in the same way that the Greek mystery religions did. (I regard the "secret of the kingdom of God" in Mark 4 as not much more than a 'rationalization' for the rejection of the sect's teaching by the outside world.) In Paul, the use of the term "mystery" refers not to secrecy but to the mystery of God's purposes and workings in the spiritual realm. These were long hidden "secrets" of God that were now being revealed to men such as Paul through inspiration and their reading of scripture (see, for example, Romans 16:25-27). The "secret of Christ" (e.g., Colossians 2:2) encompasses the very existence of the Son, his sacrificial death and the role it now plays in salvation, things being learned for the first time through revelation.
In fact, mystical meanings and significances, because they are difficult for the average person to grasp, tend to get translated into more mundane elements and mythic tales; these serve as symbols for those higher meanings and mystical realities. Thus, if such a thing as you suggest had been operating in early Christianity, we would see a different effect. The meaning of the spiritual Christ would have been translated into a human and earthly story, and the holders of the secrets would then explain the higher meaning of these stories to the initiates, usually in closed ceremonies, as in the Greek mysteries. But it is precisely those mundane elements that are missing in the early Christian writings about Jesus. Paul never refers to such things, and is constantly doing his best to lay out directly the mystical significance of Christian faith and ritual. He never conceals.
One might say, of course, that this is exactly the role the Gospels played; they were translations of that higher spiritual reality, the "secrets" which God had revealed through scripture and the Holy Spirit, into a mundane, historically based story, making such things more accessible and comprehensible. I have no doubt that this was one of the psychological factors at work in the creation of the Gospels, although I also lean toward those theories (see Part Three and my book review of John Shelby Spong's Liberating the Gospels) which view the Gospels as an exercise in midrash, perhaps for liturgical purposes, not initially intended as history.
This mundane story, however, didn't come along until quite a bit later than Paul, and when it began to be looked upon as factual, the mystical setting and higher reality was abandoned. Everything was now transferred to earth and history. (Instead of crucifixion by the demon spirits, as in Paul, "the Jews" were now responsible.) And there was no "secrecy" about it.
A magnificent achievement of scholarship and interpretation! I have been reading and rereading your web page over the last few weeks. So much that was puzzling before about the New Testament seems much clearer. In your view, the author of Mark sat down and created his story from the scriptures and from myths of a spiritual Jesus. None of these sources would have contained Galilean place names. Internal evidence rules out the possibility that the author was familiar with the geography of Galilee, for he has Jesus coming and going in a sequence that does not make any sense when plotted on a map. This supposedly fits well with the idea that Mark had heard about all these incidents (including the names of the towns where they had occurred), but had to guess at the sequence. Have you given any thought to this aspect of Mark?
Response to David:
The Problem of Markan Geography
Scholars have long noted that Mark does not seem to understand Galilean geography, even if he is familiar with place names. Howard C. Kee, Community of the New Age, p.102-103, offers a good capsule discussion of this problem, and he believes that the Markan community was located in a non-urban area of Syria. Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, p.289, places Mark "outside Palestine." Burton Mack likes him in Sidon or Tyre. On the other hand, there are those, such as Willi Marxsen (Mark the Evangelist) who are untroubled by the discrepancies and place the community in Galilee itself. Marxsen suggests that the arrival of Christ at the impending End-time was anticipated to take place in Galilee, and that the evangelist was pointing toward this in his Gospel (14:28 and 16:7). This may have been because the community was located in Galilee; sectarian groups always feel that they are at the center of the universe's workings.
For whatever reason, Mark chose Galilee as the setting for his story, but as he was writing a midrashic tale intended to be symbolical only, he may have felt no compelling need to make Jesus' movements topographically accurate. His "sources" contained no reference to Galilee, for these were stories and passages from the scriptures which were recast in new terms. See my book review on John Shelby Spong's Liberating the Gospels. Spong reveals a structure to Mark which forever destroys the possibility that this account is history, or that the incidents of Jesus' life and ministry can be anything other than a fictional midrash on Old Testament precedents.
In the Preamble to your work "The Jesus Puzzle" you state: "...it is no longer fashionable (or valid) to maintain that much of what is distinctively Christian was derived from the mysteries." Could you please tell me where I can find the documents on which this statement is based? For several months now, I have been seeking confirmation or criticism of works such as "Sixteen Crucified Saviors" by Kersey Graves and "The Lost Light" and others by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, to no avail. They are certainly provocative but somehow lack the aura of hard scholarship.
Response to Miles:
Greek Mystery Cults
In the early part of this century, based on the ground-breaking work of respectable scholars like Richard Reitzenstein and Franz Cumont, sweeping claims were made about Christianity's derivation from the Greek mysteries by the "History of Religions School". At the center of these claims was the concept of "dying and rising gods," as in Wilhelm Bousset's scenario that ancient thinking had merged all the mystery deities, including Christ, almost into a single collective myth across the ancient world, about the suffering and dying god who is resurrected and thereby confers salvation. As time went on, such claims became discredited when it was seen more clearly that the myths and artistic representations of the various hellenistic cults actually contained nothing tangible about any resurrection of the god from the dead.
However, pendulums have a habit of swinging too far in the opposite direction. Many scholars writing from the 60s to the 80s have claimed that there was virtually no common ground between Christianity and the mysteries. Some of them tried to knock down the mysteries to little more than social guilds and intercessionary exercises; people appealed to the cultic gods for help in coping with life's problems, somewhat as Christians do of the saints in heaven. For example, see Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults (1987), and Gunter Wagner, Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries (ET, 1967).
Wagner in particular was anxious to discredit the mysteries as having any possible influence on Christianity. He went so far as to say that not only were the so-called savior gods never thought of as resurrected, but that no concept existed within the cults that the initiate partook of the deity's nature, that he linked his destiny with that of the god, that baptismal rites in the mysteries were any more than ritual washings. He claimed to find no evidence that Attis and the other cultic deities were the ground for personal hopes of immortality or of quality of life after death. Wagner chose to interpret in one direction every point of ambiguity, every gap and uncertainty in the very sparse evidence we have about the cults. (Their injunction to secrecy seems to have been faithfully observed for a thousand years!) But Wagner thereby painted himself into a corner, for he was left with the problem (which he never addressed) of explaining what their appeal was. Why was Christianity locked in a virtual life and death struggle with the cults for 200 years, a struggle whose outcome was far from certain? The need of the age was for personal salvation, especially after death. It is intellectual dishonesty to try to cook the meager surviving evidence of the mysteries to suggest that they did not in their own way offer precisely that.
As for the question of dying and rising gods, from the 2nd century BCE and even earlier, the Jews developed a concept of the righteous dead rising to participate in God's Kingdom, which was to be established on earth. Physical resurrection was therefore required. Jews had always been very "this world" oriented and had a weak concept of a spiritual afterlife. The Greeks, on the other hand, were very different. Christianity's second century opponent, Celsus, said that the doctrine of resurrection of the flesh "is so repulsive that there is opposition to it even among Jews and Christians. . . the soul may have everlasting life, but corpses ought to be thrown away as worse than dung." Obviously, we should not expect those who held such an outlook to invent gods who are resurrected in flesh to bestow the same fate on humans. Proving that the Greek savior gods were not conceived of as "rising from their tombs" is to knock down a straw man.
The existence of significant conceptual differences should not be allowed to obscure the fact that both Christianity and the mysteries were an expression of the same needs and urges, that both proceeded from a common pool of religious impulses of the age, and that cross-cultural influences could help shape the particular expression each group formulated for itself.
As for the question of comparative dating, rites like those of Eleusis and the god Dionysos predate Christianity by many centuries. Mithra (Mithras in the Greek) was an ancient Persian god who seems to have been adopted by hellenistic circles in Asia Minor around 100 BCE. (See the fascinating The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, 1989, by David Ulansey, who has located the basis for the Greek cultic myth in an astronomical discovery of the time.) When was Attis added to the cult of the Great Mother Cybele? Dates vary. But cults do not form overnight, nor do the ideas underlying their rites and myths spring fully into being at one moment. The basic concepts and practices of the mysteries were ancient. They undergirded much of the religious expression of the era. Both Christianity and the cults were an outgrowth of them, even if Christianity had its own particular Jewish content as a prominent part of the mix. No one today is going to claim that Paul's Christianity is derived from the equivalent of the fully-formed cults we see in the second century CE.
Wayne Meeks represents a recent swing of the pendulum back toward a more median position. In The First Urban Christians (p.182, n.44) he says: "On the mysteries, I wonder if MacMullen has not been too skeptical. Apuleius Metamorphosis 11.6 presupposes some kind of personal immortality that will be enhanced, though not created, by the initiation. The initiate in the Elysian Fields, in "the subterranean vault," will still be Isis's worshipper and under her protection. So, too, MacMullen is too cavalier about the Mithraist promise (according to Celsus) of the soul's ascent through the seven planetary spheres. Bousset's description . . . erred in details and drew too schematic a picture, but this was nevertheless a powerful kind of belief apparently shared by many, not least by the Christian and non-Christian Gnostics. . . . Teachers of rhetoric recommend that speeches of consolation include reminders of the soul's return to the divine realm as a source of comfort for the bereaved."
Even more recently, Hyam Maccoby has reopened the case for Paul having much in common with ideas which were central to the mysteries. He explores the fact (in Paul and Hellenism) that Paul's interpretation of the eucharistic (thanksgiving) meal is unlike Jewish concepts (even blasphemous from a Jewish point of view) but very close to Greek sacramentalism. Paul's language resembles that of the Greek cults, even if there are important distinctions in meaning and application. Paul's Christ who dies a violent death (at the hands of the demon spirits of the firmament, if we are to judge by 1 Corinthians 2:8: see my Supplementary Article No. 3) is unrelated to any previous Jewish ideas of God's salvation, but fits in with the many Greek savior gods who "are the centers of rites in which their deaths are rehearsed for some salvific purpose" (p.65). I would highly recommend all the books of this British scholar.
And so on. It is undeniable that Paul was a hellenistic Jew who grew up in pagan surroundings. If in Tarsus, this city was the birthplace and focal point of the hellenistic Mithras cult, with its sacred meal so like the Pauline version of the eucharist. It would be foolish to claim that Paul enjoyed complete immunity from the religious concepts that permeated the atmosphere he breathed. This absorption does not have to have been conscious—or static. Paul's was an innovative and roving mind, and many ideas in early Christian theology are thought to proceed from him. Yet no one's ideas spring out of nothing, unrelated to precedents. Paul can be no exception.
Paul's Christianity compared to the mysteries may well have been a superior expression on several counts, for it contained an ethical dimension the Greek cults notably lacked, and his concept of dying and rising to Christ through baptism was more subtle and profound than any parallel in the mystery rites. But this does not disprove that some of the roots of his ideas lie in broader, humbler hellenistic precedents. On the other hand, if we do not impose the Gospels on Paul and his contemporaries, we find that the conceptual differences are not as great as some like to think.
The claim (constantly reiterated by scholars) that the cultic myths are just that, whereas Christianity is grounded in the record of an historical man, is something Paul and the other epistle writers never make clear for us. And is the concept behind 1 Peter all that different from the post-death activities of Osiris and other savior gods in the underworld? For if Christ was brought to life only "in the spirit", and subsequently went to the Jewish Shoel to raise to heaven the souls of the righteous dead (3:18-19), where is the dramatic point of contrast with the cult deities? If Paul maintains (1 Cor. 15:50) that "flesh and blood can never possess the kingdom of God and the perishable cannot possess immortality," can we say that his thought about a post-death "spiritual body" (modelled on Christ's own) is essentially different from the Platonic, or that he has not been absorbing hellenistic influences? Can we say that he envisions Christ's resurrection (now seen by modern liberal scholars as not involving a corporeal return to earth) much differently than did the Greeks of their gods? The great contrast arises only when Christ is historicized and made to walk out of his tomb with the wounds still fresh in his side. The very fact that early writers like Paul never draw attention to Jesus' historical humanity as a significant point of contrast with the competing deities of the other salvation cults—one of the most amazing silences of all!—should provide compelling evidence that for them no such contrast existed.
An excellent article which tries to maintain a middle ground is "Mystery Concepts in Primitive Christianity and In Its Environment" by Devon H. Wiens (1980). I know only of its publication in a German series of scholarly papers on the ancient Roman world. An older classic on the subject is A. D. Nock's Conversion (1933) which, though written by a Christian apologist, is full of solid data and comparisons concerning the mysteries. Gary Lease, in his article "Mithraism and Christianity" (also in that German series) declares that: "The insight has become widespread that Christianity shared deeply in the cultural and religious milieu of the Near East during the beginning centuries of our common era. Indeed, one may quite accurately say that Christianity is first and foremost an Oriental religion, and like so many of its counterparts during the Hellenistic and late antiquity periods, it drank often and deeply from the same spiritual and cultural wells which nourished contemporary movements in that age of upheaval." We need a modern and thorough study of the mysteries from this point of view: a challenge to any writer because of the paucity and enigmatic nature of the evidence.
The book by Kersey Graves was first published in 1875, so the relevance of its 'scholarship' has to be questionable. To draw comparisons, as he does, with mythology and ritual from around the world, serves no practical purpose. Many of his prolific parallels are forced, if not downright fanciful, such as his "Mithra of Persia Crucified" (p.128); there is no death of Mithra(s) in any known version of his cult. Comparing Christ with Krishna or the Mexican Quetzalcoatl only illustrates that the human mind is surprisingly homogeneous and that there are only so many basic religious ideas to go around.
I have encountered Alvin Boyd Kuhn only on the Internet where some of his books (written around the middle of this century) have been published. While he and I seem to have gone down some similar paths (to judge by a few passages I have read), I can't speak for the depth of his scholarship, and his language is somewhat overwrought. Those interested can check out these URLs: http://www.irdg.com/pc93/shadow.htm (and whosking.htm).
I would like to know if the Theophilus that Luke wrote his Gospel for is the same as the one you mentioned, the bishop of Antioch in 168.
Response to Michel:
This is not too likely, if only because Luke wrote his Gospel much earlier in the century (probably around 110-120). Was Luke's Theophilus a real person? Perhaps not. The name means literally a "lover of God." The evangelist may have used it to symbolize recent converts to Christianity who were interested in the story of Jesus begun by Mark.
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