Irenaeus - his odd statements about Jesus who he claims was crucified when he was a very old man

The early Church father Irenaeus of Lyon made some odd statements about Jesus.  The early Church period is important for scriptural and other evidence about Jesus. It gives clues about how much was actually known or how little.  Fifty years was a great age in those days.

He wrote, “Christ was baptized in His thirtieth year: He did not suffer in the twelfth month after His baptism, but was more than fifty years old when He died.”

The gospels do say Jesus suffered during his ministry.  And a twenty year ministry if untrue would make us wonder if any value at all could be attached to the Jesus story.

He mentions there were people saying Jesus was only an apparition not man.

"Being thirty years old when He came to be baptized and then possessing the full age of a
Master, He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged by all as a Master. For He did not seem one thing while He was another, as those affirm who describe Him as being man only in appearance; but what He was, that He also appeared to be. Being a Master, therefore, He also possessed the age of a Master, not despising or evading any condition of humanity, nor setting aside in Himself that law which He had appointed for the human race, but sanctifying every age, by that period corresponding to it which belonged to Himself. For He came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise He was an old man for old men, that He might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise.  Then, at last, He came on to death itself, that He might be the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence, Colossians 1:18 the Prince of life, Acts 3:15 existing before all, and going before all. "

My comment is that he says Jesus cannot be relevant unless he was a baby and a youth and an old man.  This is a very strong claim. 

The gospel of Mark indicates a one year ministry but this man writes, "They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus,] they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who has mentioned His years, has expressed it: Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old, Luke 3:23 when He came to receive baptism) ; and, [according to these men,] He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity
of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or
Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?"

My comment here is that he says the Church tradition said Jesus was old when he died.  The information came from John the apostle.  The gospel of John is not from John for it is clear that Jesus did not live to an old age.

Irenaeus then appeals to the gospel of John oddly enough, "But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad, they answered Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham ? John 8:56-57 Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, You are not yet forty years old. For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being of flesh and blood. He
did not then want much of being fifty years old; and, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham ? He did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did He suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and the fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year, unless indeed, among their iEons there be so long years assigned to those who sit in their ranks with Bythus in the Pleroma; of which beings Homer the poet, too, has spoken, doubtless being inspired by the Mother of their [system of] error".

The cherry picking is strange and it looks as if Irenaeus was assuming his readers were poor at Bible reading or had no access to the writings.

If Jesus was alive at the time of Trajan and was old it looks like he survived the crucifixion or some trick took place.  The believers just assumed he was alive for he was resurrected.  Or was this old man just an imposter?  Why was the early Church as exemplified by Irenaeus willing to distort anything even the very gospels to answer those who said Jesus was a vision and was never real?  The desperation is telling.

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