30Re: Spiritual and Physical
- Mar 28, 2003Dear Professor Allison
Thanks for your introduction to other writers on the synoptic
problem. I have to admit, sometimes I find myself convinced by
whomever I am currently reading. But my being convinced by an
argument is not the expression of the reality of my experience, or I
think of the experience of the writers of the NT, in whatever order
>>Your comment that I appear to be demythologizing, just as Mark did,I fail to understand.
I thought of Mark as `demythologizing' in the sense that he begins
without birth story or elaborate genealogy and ends with fear and
amazement. My comment about your writing was that you also are
writing about Jesus as he was and removing the layers of religious
accretion by showing them in various interpretations. I like that
aspect of the book drafts you have shared with us. It is easy to
follow your arguments without too much referencing of texts.
You wrote of seeking
>>to find out what really happened,Even we non-historians seek 'the real' - that is maybe our
fundamental as humans. Our words are first given to us by others and
then we learn to express - but the culture and propositions we learn
prevent our expression and we often remember what is not real and as
a result allow our words to have a reality they do not deserve.
You wrote of my question
>>Your next question concerns the apocalyptic Jesus and how he couldimpact the world in such a positive manner if he were wrong.
I did not mean so much whether he was `wrong' or not - but that the
impact of his spirit was so severe and varied in the lives of both
followers and non-followers. My question is why we would pick the
distinction 'right' from 'wrong' when judging the aspect of 'soon'
or 'this generation'? Did the apocalypse happen or not? Of course it
did, and it does, and it will. It did in Jesus death. It does in our
lives. And there is more to come. I find the switch to the perfect
tense in Rev 16:17 to be strongly suggestive of the completeness of
the apocalypse in Jesus death - that is what sums up the time for the
writer there. If this is pre 70s Jewish apocalyptic, then would it
not cohere with Paul's thought as you suggest in 'The Composition
History', and with Q scribes (assuming there were any), and with the
desposynoi as Pixner and Bauckham suggest.
In glancing at a recent book of Hans Kung tonight, I noticed his
reference to early Catholic doctrine of Christ Jesus as the end of
time - I had not known this as doctrine before, but he seemed to
imply it was early (It was not my book and I had to leave it where I
found it so can't give chapter and verse). If an ancient writer could
see the crucifixion as the center of history - which I am convinced
the writer of Revelation did, then why would not the gospels with
their elaboration on the passion not be saying something similar -
that Jesus was central to their thought and changed by his death the
way they thought about time, purpose, eschaton, and end. Yes they
looked for the world to come - but all these warnings about Hell
lasting forever - are they eternal torment or eternal thanksgiving
for life? And I mean in their eyes - not just in mine.
That this generation would pay for the blood from Abel to Zechariah
well we do pay with the blood of Jesus - again and again. One wonders
with Job about the justice of it all. "The smoke of the damned before
the Lord and his saints" is a phrase that recurs in Revelation.
Supposing these words came out of the same generation - what an
appalling piece of vengeful writing unless one considers it the
substance of our story having been redeemed in Christ.
Here you challenge me to refine my words - thanks for being the
>>that they in effect could think of hell as part of presentexperience. No theoretical reason that they could not have. But I see
no evidence in the texts that they did. Mark 9:43ff. is clearly about
the future. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus puts hell in the
afterlife. And in Matthew 25 Gehenna comes at the last judgment.
Mark 9:43 and ||'s - cut off your hand if it offends. Absolutely - it
is better to enter into life. How does one cut off hand or foot or
pluck out the eye - by the salt of the fire and sacrifice of verse
49. Jesus is plenty salty - the teaching I think is about the demands
of life and their fulfillment in the sacrifice that was to come to
end all sacrifices. I admit this is not a historical perspective. I
would not be able to prove that it is psychologically possible for
Jesus prior to his death - but I find it highly suggestive that the
sacrificial system of Judaism, in releasing the giver into life by
the death of the gift, pointed to this fire and salt that was to be
completed in Jesus death. A man who knew his place in the love of God
could, I think, know this in advance of his own death.
And re the parable: yes it is a parable and as such is not to be seen
literally though it may be phrased that way to identify with the
thought of many. Anyway, I have always maintained there was a bridge
over the chasm in the shape of a cross - romantic to be sure - but
how poignant the conclusion of Jesus' story- How do we hear Moses and
the prophets? The implication is that resurrection is no more
convincing. Why do we not hear this love, mercy, redemption, and
entering into life - even without what `really happened' then?
>> "It is done" can't be said of eschatology if eschatology is thedefeat of evil, for evil is alive and well.
It seems to me that all writers of the NT imply that the death of
Jesus expresses that theological truth. Death is over and done with
not continuing. The judgment is past (e.g. John 5:24 he has passed
from death to life). I think you get to this in your final comment.
>>Throughout 5:21ff. Matthew's Jesus has asked for a sort ofperfection - not the perfection of being without sin but the
perfection of what we might call completeness.
I find this a nice understanding - exactly what I am trying to get at
with the time/hell issue. And the phrase 'It is done' - Es ist
volbracht as Bach puts it.
Now as to Matthew 25: last judgment: "When the Son of man shall come
in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit
upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all
nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd
divideth [his] sheep from the goats:"
When did/does/will this happen for the writer? It is in some sense
timeless. The separation into life and death has already been done
through the acts of the nations and their varied spirit of sheepish
ignorance and goaty self-justification. "And these shall go away
into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
And both will be remembered in that smoke.
TJW asks: Who then heard the prayer [agony in the garden] to record
it for posterity?
Bob: well that young man Mark who was eavesdropping.
+ + + Victoria, B.C., Canada + + +
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