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2Jesus and His Audiences

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  • Bob Schacht
    Mar 23 8:55 AM
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      Dear Professor Allison,
      First, let me thank you for consenting to give us so much of your time for this seminar. Besides the reading for this seminar, I am reading your book, Jesus of Nazareth, with great interest.

      My first question is in response to your chapter, Jesus and His Audiences. In it, you began by exploring the possible differences between "advice" and "requirements," and seek to differentiate between Jesus' disciples and sympathizers. This is quite commendable, of course. (I was especially intrigued by the argument that the triple tradition to "take up one's cross" (p.17) was not intended for everyone, but I noticed that the similar passage from Q says to take up *the* cross.)

      In essence, this chapter attempts to explain inconsistencies in sayings attributed to Jesus with reference to different audiences. There is a hidden assumption in this presentation that Jesus always spoke to the same audience in the same way. But it seems to me that there's another possibility that I'd like you to respond to: that some of those inconsistencies are due to an *evolution* in Jesus' message over time. For example, one inconsistency you noted was between the "nice Jesus" (my phrase) and a judgmental Jesus (cf. p. 30). It is true that there may be differences in audience, but it is also possible that at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, he encountered less resistance than he did towards the end. In fact, if Jesus' ministry did extend to 3 years and not just 1, it would be rather remarkable if Jesus' message did NOT change at all in response to the "feedback" he was getting from his audience(s). Even if Jesus himself did not change his views at all, he might still have changed his presentation in response to whatever patterns of resistance he experienced.

      Such a hypothesis would open up a whole new avenue of research that I have not seen in the literature to date. If someone has already dealt with this issue, please enlighten me about where I might find a good discussion of this issue. What do you think?


      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University
      Flagstaff, AZ
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