Thanks for your reply and for your very helpful clarifications that make
debate more focussed and mean I can engage with you on your own terms.
> a) Klassen is a better man than I, but yes, probably.
> b) I incline to Matthean priority, after Powell, but this one will run
> and run. On balance I support Q, though its opponents rightly point
> out that it has neve been found.
> c) The Johannine question is very complicated and I have not reached a
> view on it.
> d) I'm not sure on that one.
> e) Paul believed that he was having a dialogue with the living Christ
> in heaven. This is not as weird as it sounds. When I was a Methodist
> (OK, you guessed) we were told we should all be having such a
> f) Paul (or someone) was handing on to congregations who saw him as a
> guru the fruits of his meditations. I also believe that this is true
> of the first verse of John I, though the gurus were different, but I
> won't go on until I have posted the Greek. (Clue: one of the verbs is
> an imperfect, but is almost invariably translated as an aorist.)
A comprehensive teacher, I admire you already; but like you, I also
distinguish between top-down spoon-feeding: "education"
and bottom up "learning" where people think for themselves, with due
deference to the arguments that have stood the test of time and those that
have put the academic sweat in. Frankly Martin, I am concerned with
comprehensive life-long learning and behaviour rather than education, neatly
packaged, delivered and tested, though I am lost in respect for those who
toil away at the chalk face. It seems to me that scholars and students need
each other; where would scholars be without both awkward questions and
awkward students' questions, and where would students be without the depth
of knowledge only scholars can offer? In my limited experience there seem to
me to be two types of experts and two types of novices but only one
Johannine bowl where grubby arguments can be cleaned up. Humility,
generosity and the desire for truth seem to me to characterise both the true
scholar and student. No servants are more worthy than their master, surely,
and Johannine students cannot escape either the bowl or this Truth for long.
As for churches I am tempted to say: "Let's not go there", but that would be
a poor pun and a mere half-truth. I prefer Wisdom's paradoxes and my own
proverb: If religion is the opiate of the peoples, then arrogance and
atheism are the champagne and caviar of their leaders"; "To every proverb /
slogan there is an equal and opposite proverb / slogan and Truth lies in the
resolution of the paradox". This of course is just another way of me saying
that Johannine literature is, it seems to me, mature Wisdom literature: "So
I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the one do
who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that
wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise have eyes in their
head, but fools walk in darkness", Qoholeth 2:12-14.
But enough of this...down to Judas, Paul, Jesus and, dare I say, Joseph and
Benjamin?: "When the steward had brought the men into Joseph's house, and
given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given
their donkeys fodder, they made the present ready for Joseph's coming at
noon, for they had heard that they would dine there", Genesis 43: 24, cf.
the strange preparations and forward planning, Mark 11: 1-7; 14:13.
> Sorry, Bill, you've missed something here. Paul does not mention
> Judas, nor does he mention a body of twelve disciples in Jesus's
> lifetime.....Acts certainly takes care of that one by mentioning James the
> brother of John being executed before the brother of Jesus appears out
> of what the Americans would call left field. I am not the only
> suspicious one here, and freely admit my dependence on Eisenman.
It was very sloppy of me to suggest Paul mentions Judas by name, though of
course he may have by implication depending on the translation issue.
Clearly if the Greek means 'betrayed' but Paul is not thinking of Judas, we
must ask who on earth he was thinking of, (I doubt Paul would have merely
repeated a formula because it was what he was told to believe, thankfully),
so which individual or group would this put in the frame, the words 'on the
night he was betrayed' assuming much greater significance and immediately
ruling out any Jewish crowd asked by Pilate to choose on the following day?
The issue of 'the twelve' (I Cor. 15: 3-11, specifically 5), raises a
certain amount of intrigue. In my mind it does not rule out a reference to
a mere eleven of the twelve, those 12 listed as apostles in the synoptics or
eleven with the addition of a new twelfth member; but then we encounter 'the
apostles' of vs. 7.
I had always read vs. 7 as a reference to the 72 (despite textual dispute),
whom an individual would have made up the twelve. That Paul does not
to the twelve in terms of 'Jesus life time' neither rules it in or out
nevertheless, the point is well highlighted and too many assumptions should
not be made.
Hmm, Robert Eisenman. I am very grateful to him and Michael Wise for *The
Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered* but *James the Brother of Jesus* seems somewhat
attached to the documents and facts with which we all have to do as we peep
Mann's deep 'well of the past'. Eisenman makes much of names and the names
of Jesus' brothers, ("We are circling around the names of Jesus' brothers
again", 178), but names like Judah / s, Jacob not to say Joseph, Barsabbas,
Justus, and Matthias, and Judas Barsabbas (Acts 15:22) were surely very
popular and to make links between names and supposed negative allusions
within names seems to me to be precarious in the extreme. How many names
would a typical Second Temple Jew have, I don't know, but I think of my
Nigerian friend with seven first names from which the most suitable could be
I take it that you read 15:3 somewhat differently to 11:23, but despite the
difference in wording and my fair-share of encounters with unreasonable
enthusiasts, I have never quite encounterd anyone who claims to have
received an evidently formulaic account in, dare I say, a liturgical form
of words during a mystical encounter, whether or not spiritual or
delusional, (I exclude the present incumbent at no.10). Perhaps my
self-imposed exile or fast means I am mixing in the wrong circles,
phenomenologically speaking. Personally 11:23 and 15:3 seem to me to be
different ways of expressing the same thing, cf. Birger Gerhardsson, The
Origins of the Gospel Traditions, (1977, E.T. 1979), 27-41, esp. 37-8; et
Martin, have you come across Donald Harman Akenson's *Saint Saul: A Skeleton
Key to the Historical Jesus*, Oxford, (2000, 2002)? It is an irreverant and
swashbuckling, not to say entertaining review of contemporary New Testament
studies by an established historian who shows little mercy to religious and
/ or or academic sacred cows and names. He has two pages on Judas Iscariot
(2002, 191-2). In summary he highlights one of John Meier's criteria of
authenticity: embarrassing events, listing: (1) crucifixion by the Romans;
(2) the denial by Peter; (3) the betrayal by Judas; (4) Jesus' baptism by
John. Akenson, skeptical debunker that he is, only accepts the last. He
"As for the betrayal by Judas, it works splendidly with the passion
narrative. The incarnation of evil was one of the modes of understanding the
world that was increasingly common in second Temple Judahism [his chosen
name for the faith of the southern tribes centred on Jerusalem and the
Temple up to the great destruction], and Judas is appropriate both within
the idiom and within the actua narrative flow. Judas fits perfectly with the
post 70 CE invention of the bulk of the Jesus-the-Christ narrative. And it
is of a piece with the low-level anti-Semetism (or at least anti-Pharisaism)
that is woven into the Christian scriptures, as the Christian branch of
Judahism drives to take over the heritage of the now destroyed Second Temple
religious system. That Judas - Judah, of course - was the active incarnation
of the evil principle (he can be considered most actively as one of the
demon-figures that became so popular in late Second Temple Juhahism), makes
him fit smoothly with the ideology of the Christian scriptures. It is not an
embarrassment, in the methodological sense....Did Judas exist or was he an
introduction into the narrative of one of the hundreds of demons that
floated through the cosmology of late Second Temple Judahist sects?
There is no evidence outside the Gospels, so the question remains open.
However, this secondary question is germain: even if one takes as a given
that Yeshua was betrayed by someone, would the story have a very different
meaning if the betrayer was named say, Josef? Indeed it would: at minimum,
then, we should accept the strong possibility that "Judas" was a stage name,
introduced in early narratives of the Jesus-faith, to fit the need to
differentiate that faith from other derivatives of the Yahweh- faith and,
simultaneously, to demean those other religious groups. It all fits."
Of course, as an early dater myself, I don't swallow it, but it sure is
entertaining stuff and your argument seems in need of some generous
sustenance, (friendly banter with tongue in cheek).
Irenaeus published "Against Heresies", i.e. against beliefs which a
> coalescing orthodoxy wanted to suppress. As Loisy and, more recently,
> Price have pointed out, heresy was simply what Christianity was in
> many parts of its range.
Hmm. The second century, or better, the period after the Gospels were
composed if they were relatively early, this is a very complex period where
historian's flame burns dimly. I would certainly admit to thinking Irenaeus
might have benefited from
meditating on the parable of wheat and tares a little more but we must
ourselves to the end period for the Gospels, presumably no later than the
>How Loisy managed to come to the conclusions
> he did and remain a (Roman) Catholic priest I'm not sure, but some
> people do seem to be able to hold contradictory ideas in different
> parts of their minds.
Well, as a self-confessed rider of two Johannine schools of thought at once,
all in pursuit of the historical Jesus, I would humbly submit that the
to hold competing theories in tandem may be a sign of maturity rather
than intellectual or moral 'schizophrenia'; witness Albert S In terms of
scepticism, I find it easier to believe either that Jesus never existed at
all, (G. A. Wells, (1975), and
that 'he' was merely a metaphor of Wisdom incarnate and a motif for a
clandestine first century political Messianic Wisdom Movement in the face of
Roman oppression, or else that the New Testament is reliable testimony when
taken on its own terms; terms that we struggle to fully comprehend but which
might be unlocked through the investigation of Second Temple mysticism, the
ancient conceptions of the miraculous, of magic and of the Temple cult.
Either of these options seem more historically plausible than a kind of
'pick and mix' approach
or else an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
In purely cynical terms, the 'wandering' seems highly dubious too,
both Wisdom and the historical Jesus seem uncannily, strategically focussed.
How all this relates to the contemporary
churches and geo-political realities is rather more difficult. Whether we
look to a high mass, a Quaker silence, a charismatic knees up, a
heart-warming experience or somewhere else seems entirely secondary to
the atheistic or religious dishonour that treats the breath of Abel and the
living environment with contempt rather than an inspired poetic gift.
Right behaviour trumps right doctrine.
I discriminate between the fundamentalist religious babble of infantile
and the innocent belief of 'little children' who want us 'grown-ups' to
stop killing each other, feed the poor, save the planet or even use learned
typescript - 'for snowflakes, daddy'! Let them lead us. Richard Forster made
the distinction between the merely simple and beautiful simplicity a few
years ago and it seems to me to be so very, very Johannine. In the Johannine
tradition both Wisdom and the Synoptics seem united in an authentic moral
paradox: Peter and the disciples are apparently mercilessly condemned as
blind egoists or worse, but the outcasts, including the blind and morally
destitute, are embraced in an audacious 're-born innocence', an innocence
sufficiently audacious to face real-politik in its 'Pilation eye'...
without blinking first. Some Kingdom! some Redemption!! some New Creation!!!
Too good to be true? Well, in fairness I have had the recent misfortune to
have sat through "Troy"; ideological propaganda, clichés, has-beens,
ham-acting the lot! Feminists well advised to take their own sick-bags.
Homer would weep. OK, the thousand Greek ships looked good.
I fear you have tempted me too far beyond the Johannine upper room and the
Bill Bullin (Private Student, Hastings, East Sussex).