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Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] Another Response

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  • Meta Dunn
    Dear Clive Jacks, Apologies for the delay in replying - I had server problems for 48 hours - but all seems OK now. Thanks for your question. Our
    Message 1 of 2 , May 2, 2001
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      Dear Clive Jacks,
      Apologies for the delay in replying - I had server problems for 48 hours
      - but all seems OK now.
      Thanks for your question. Our understandings of the process are not far
      Perhaps the main difference is that I assume that when churches were
      established beyond Palestine, part of the founding process was instruction in
      a large body of Jesus tradition. I doubt if there were churches founded
      simply on a kerygmatic formula like 1 Cor. 15.3ff, and a few bits and pieces
      of Jesus tradition such as Paul may have used in his teaching. I suspect
      the process was much more deliberate and even 'formal' than that. The fact
      that 'teachers' feature so prominently in the early churches gives my
      hypothesis more weight. In other words, I envisage substantial continuity
      of tradition from Palestine/Aramaic to diaspora/Greek.
      So, yes, when Mark's Gospel reached some new churches we should not
      assume that this was the first time these churches had heard any of these
      traditions. Almost certainly, in many cases they had their own version -
      and Matthew, e.g., could then pick and choose between Mark's version and his
      oral version (or q/Q).
      Fundamental to my understanding of the process is that the Synoptics
      represent that process and do not constitute a major disruption of or
      departure from it. It is the stability/variability within the Synoptic
      tradition itself which provides the clue to the whole process. Which is
      also to say that an Evangelist's redactional interests are best understood as
      fairly typical of the oral performances through which the tradition had
      I hope this helps.

      expcman@... wrote:

      > Perhaps I have missed something important, but I have difficulty
      > getting from any oral "Jesus tradition" in Palestine to the four
      > gospel. I do find compelling your basic concept that the
      > listening/hearing community (because it is already familiar with the
      > materials in an oral tradition) serves as an informal control, keeping
      > any re-telling to the basic form and content of that which they
      > already know, by correcting a teller when he strays from this
      > "received tradition." This would stablize any orally transmitted
      > materials, both as to shape/form and to content. And I have no
      > trouble accepting this concept where "the Jesus tradition" has been
      > introduced I dare say that there were several Christian communities
      > in Palestine where such "Jesus traditions" existed.
      > But were the sources for the Synoptic gospels any such Palestinian
      > "Jesus tradition"? Not directly. It would seem likely that someone
      > from Palestine (or who had been in Palestine on business or/and on
      > pilgrimage) was the transmitter ("tradent") to another location
      > out-side Palestine - Antioch and ephesus and Corinth and Rome and
      > Alexandria, to cover the likely locations for the writings of the
      > several gospels. Then when he (most likely singular and male) "told
      > the stories ... and teachings" to this community which had not yet
      > heard this oral tradition then a new "Jesus tradition" would begin;
      > it would be only after the oral tradition was introduced to this
      > extra-Palestinian location that there would be a community familiar
      > with the materials which could then serve as an informal control when
      > someone local (?) would re-tell these materials. Such various and
      > varied "daughter" oral traditions would have large areas of over-lap
      > ... and difference, especially between Christian communities which
      > differed because of their prior cultural traditions (i.e. Syrian or
      > Egyptian or Greek) but also differed because a different Palestinian
      > Christian was the bearer of the "Jesus tradition" to them, perhaps
      > from a different locale in Palestine.
      > Would not these several local oral traditions explain the variations
      > in the "common materials" among the gospel, rather than what was going
      > on in Palestine (which I take to be one of your points)? Isn't it
      > much morelikely that the observed literary details can be better
      > explained in terms of these "local Jesus traditions" [to give them a
      > name]with which the author was more familiar? Here I envision that
      > when (say) the written gospel of Mark came to (say) Antioch that the
      > author of Matthew would have both included into the text that "Jesus
      > tradition" which he already knew And would "correct"/revise the text
      > of Mark by the light of that same "local Jesus tradition."
      > If so, then in which aspects of the present text of the gospels could
      > we expect to find any aspect (either in form or in content) of any of
      > the possibly several different "Palestinian Jesus traditions"? Should
      > we not rather take the variations to witness to the particularities of
      > the oral tradition with which he is already familiar? Thus, our four
      > authors' "redaction" would include a reshaping of any written text
      > which "came to town" to conform not just to the understandings alive
      > in the community in which and for which he writes but also to the
      > particular of his own already existing "local Jesus tradition."
      > I would appreciate learning whether I reveal any misunderstanding of
      > your points and whether my statements reflect a refinement of or a
      > challenge to your position. Thanks for both posting your most
      > interesting paper and for taking time to talk about it!
      > Most sincerely,
      > Clive F. Jacks,
      > Professor (Emeritus) of Religion
      > Pikeville College
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