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115Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] sacred words in oral traditioning

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  • Meta Dunn
    May 6, 2001
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      Dear Wali van Lohuizen,
      Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of days
      off on family business (including seeing my daughter in a tremendous
      performance of Sondheim's A Little Night Music in Leicester.
      Thanks for the line of reflection. I warm to the main thrust of
      it. As
      you will have seen, I am reacting against the presupposition which lies
      behind
      some parts of the Jesus Quest - that is, that anything significant in
      the
      tradition must be the work of the church(es) (or taken over from other
      sources). If we cannot recognize in Jesus an innovative and creative
      figure,
      where will we recognize such in history? So the impact made by Jesus
      (I wish I
      could find a better term than 'impact') is at the heart of my attempt to
      identify the evidence of his impacting his first disciples in the
      traditions
      created by the impact and in effect enshrining the impact. I'm not
      sure I can
      say more without either repeating myself or going into much more detail
      than is
      appropriate here.
      JDGD

      Wali van Lohuizen wrote:

      > Dear Prof. Dunn,
      >
      > As a relative outsider and as a non-English speaker I had long hesitations
      > to participate. But the discussion is so challenging that I have decided to
      > propose a posting. I have not been educated as an NT scholar (I have been
      > doing research and teaching on urban planning and on the methodology of
      > applied research in general). But on the basis of my high-school Greek,
      > additional courses on the NT, inquiries in this field, seminars, and some
      > extra general knowledge in the field of the NT, religion and spirituality I
      > am venturing to get a deeper understanding of the NT, especially of the
      > Gospels. Allow me to reflect a little on your paper before coming to my
      > question.
      >
      > When you gave your paper on the same subject at SBL, Nashville, TN I was
      > greatly interested. I am very grateful that by this seminar you are giving
      > the opportunity to get deeper into the matter. What I appreciate especially
      > is that your paper addresses the essentials and the importance of the oral
      > traditioning for the formation of the message (euanggelion) of Jesus. I
      > think this is very important. And I am impressed by the variety in the
      > discussion although I do miss the voices of let me call it the 'wing of Q
      > and Thomas scholars'. I am also appreciative of the use of the term
      > 'teachings of Jesus' rather than 'words of Jesus' for the very reasons you
      > are indicating. Yes, I do think that Jesus was teaching - but in a special
      > sense of the concept -, both in public (to his disciples and others), and to
      > his disciples according to the general tradition in spirituality that some
      > teachings are public and others are for the inner circle. The latter ones
      > are oral per se.
      >
      > I am happy to see Bailey's article in a central role. Already for some years
      > I have been wondering what NT scholarship did do with his findings that are
      > so pertinent to the formation of the message. What strikes me most in
      > discussions on the teachings of Jesus is the lack of understanding of the
      > impact of the teachings in both words and acts by Jesus. What I have come to
      > understand of what a spiritual teacher really is, is his impact on his
      > environment, and especially on his disciples. This, I think, is one of the
      > main contributions of your paper: (re-)establishing the significance of the
      > words and acts of the living Jesus. We had gone to believe that his words
      > were not his because we as belonging to Western culture cannot believe in
      > the impact and durability of a 'presence' and its manifestations in words
      > and deeds. But this is the very thing we learn from the history of religion
      > and from some scarce figures in present times. What Jesus said must have had
      > a radiance, the power of a an arrow penetrating through minds and hearts,
      > awakening a consciousness of the Spirit. They had a sacredness in them, and
      > thus were a power per se. Such an impact remains, very often even verbally
      > or approximately so, and will be transmitted in that same spirit.This
      > recognition need not come through words but rather resides in the
      > personality and atmosphere of the teacher or prophet. E.g. Moses coming down
      > from Sinai. Cf some Buddha traditions. Or the scene on Mt Tabor. Or the
      > description in all four gospels of the baptism scene, though Jesus does not
      > say a word.
      >
      > I wonder whether you agree with this extension of your argument. Personnally
      > I am interested if you would have further evidence for the special place of
      > 'sacred words' by, or even the 'presence' of, a great teacher in the sense
      > you are proposing. My request, prof. Dunn, is whether you could comment on
      > this and possibly elaborate the idea.
      > Moreover, if prof. Dunn or anybody else could provide me of further
      > suggestions on this line of thought - positive or negative - I would be
      > most interested. Off-line postings are welcomed.
      >
      > Thank you, prof. Dunn, for giving so much attention to all questions raised.
      >
      > Wali van Lohuizen
      > Singel 170-172
      > NL 1015 AH Amsterdam
      > Netherlands
      > +31-20-627.6424
      > >vanlohuizens@...<
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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