Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] (unknown)
- ear James Lewis,
Apologies for the delay in replying - I had server problems for 48 hours
- but all seems OK now.
Thanks for reading me with such care.
All the time I work from the reality that confronts us in the Synoptic
tradition. That reality includes many occasions when the core of the
tradition is words of Jesus or a dialogue exchange. But others, and even
other parts of the same traditions, where there is no verbatim agreement,
though agreement in substance - e.g. Mark 3.27 // Luke 11.21-22. I simply
try to make best sense of this variable phenomena.
My suggested answer is that the stable core reflects the impact made by
the episode on Jesus' immediate followers, and that their initial reflection
on the episode 'fixed' that core in such a way that it remained stable right
up to and into the Synoptics. Where there is less than verbatim agreement,
that may reflect less or more variable impact, or the vagaries of the
traditioning process (i.e. the present text reflects the tradition as given a
particular interpretation in the stream of tradition known to the Evangelist,
or is the product of redaction). Either way, of course, we have also to
take into account the process of translation from Aramaic to Greek.
Consequently, we can often speak of impact enshrined in a word of
Jesus. But just as often we have to recognize such a variableness of
impact, or the elaboration of the traditioning process, that we cannot be at
all sure what precisely it was that Jesus said. In an earlier chapter of my
work I make the strong point that we do not have access to Jesus himself,
only to Jesus as he impacted on and was remembered by others. And if that
impact varied, then the remembered Jesus varied. But always the Jesus
tradition should be our guide.
I hope this helps clarify a little.
James Lewis wrote:
> Professor Dunn,
> Thank you for your willingness to share your provocative paper with
> us and for the opportunity to explore its content more deeply through
> this seminar.
> My questions center on your use of the term 'impact' and its
> significance within the framework of your thesis.
> You begin (1.4) with a partial definition of 'impact' as the effect
> of Jesus' teaching and deeds on the disciples, an effect which leads
> to the initiation of the (oral) tradition. Later (3.6) you point out
> that this 'impact' was such that "...it was recalled, its key
> emphases crystallized in the overall theme and/or in particular words
> and phrases..." Presumably those words and phrases would be
> utterances of Jesus himself, as you imply above. It would seem likely
> that the first hearers would wish to rehearse and recall his words
> which had made such an 'impact' on them. Yet you go on to remark,
> "There was no concern to recall all the precise words of Jesus..."
> Later still (4.1), however, you state, "...the impacting word or
> event became the tradition of that word or event." Whose word could
> this have been other than Jesus'? Still in 4.1, you state, "The
> character of the tradition as shared memory means that in many
> instances we do not know precisely what it was that Jesus did or
> said. What we have in the Jesus tradition is the consistent and
> coherent features of the shared impact made by his deeds and words,
> not the objective deeds and words of Jesus as such (my italics)." I
> have a difficult time conceptualizing a tradition that contains
> 'impacts' but not words of the one who makes the 'impact' and why the
> nature of the tradition as shared memory reduces the possibility of
> knowing what Jesus said or did.
> The apparent conflict between 'impact' and 'word' becomes even more
> acute in your discussion of the shared mission of the disciples
> (4.1). You state that you find it hard to avoid the inference that
> "their preaching would have...included teaching which Jesus had given
> them." Yet that teaching, you go on to surmise, was "not in a
> verbatim mode, but in a mode which would convey the
> disciple-effecting impact which they themselves had experienced." I
> am at a loss to understand what that mode might be if it is not to
> include something like Jesus' actual words.
> Towards the end of your paper (4.3) you seem to back off somewhat
> from the implications of a wordless 'impact' by pointing to 'the
> likelihood that the stabilities of the tradition were sufficiently
> maintained and the variabilities of the retellings subject to
> sufficient control for the substance of the tradition, and often
> actual words of Jesus which made the first tradition-forming impact,
> to continue as integral parts of the living tradition...(my italics)"
> Indeed, you go farther in your Summary: "...the memories [of the
> discipleship and embryonic communities] consisted in stories and
> teachings whose own identity was focused in particular words and
> phrases--usually those said by Jesus himself."
> I wonder if you would be so kind as to elucidate a bit more fully
> your concept of 'impact' and clarify what at first glance might be
> perceived as a certain opaqueness.
> James Lewis
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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