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Re: [WSW] Myths of Resentment

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: WSW In Response To: Whalen Lai On: Delayed Resentment From: Bruce Let it be repeated that I do not suggest that resentment (or its mythic expression) is
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2008
      To: WSW
      In Response To: Whalen Lai
      On: Delayed Resentment
      From: Bruce

      Let it be repeated that I do not suggest that resentment (or its mythic
      expression) is always delayed. Only sometimes, and that when those times
      occur, it is interesting to inquire as to their causes. That said, we
      recently had:

      WHALEN: A bit ironic—this later layer’s condemnation of Judas giving him
      harsher punishment. If that is aligned with the Gospel’s appeal to the
      Gentiles in the Acts [Paul’s extra-Judaic mission], it would be the
      beginning of the (later full anti-semitism] curse laid on Judas (later the
      summary Jews) for killing the Lord.

      BRUCE: Maybe, for for myself, I think the two are better kept separate.
      There is a Trajectory of the Jews, both among the primary Gospels (Mark >
      Matthew > Luke > Acts), and also, and by what is certainly intentional
      dramatization, within Acts; indeed, the process of estrangement of early
      Christianity from Judaism may be said to be the grand theme and plot of

      The successive layers of Mark, from an earlier section of the trajectory,
      also show a steady progression in the intensity of hostility of the text
      toward the Jews generally. What this means, I suppose, is not that a
      resentment festering silently later found expression, but that the degree of
      hostility between Christianity and Judaism in the real world continually
      increased over this period. The hostility of the Jews toward the Christian
      sect is on the record, to set beside what we see in Mark and his successors;
      it is not the imagination of some evil-minded ("Anti-Semitic") modern
      persons. This real and worsening external situation found textual expression
      on both sides (see for example the Rabbinic joke about why the five
      disciples of Jesus should be killed, reported by Klausner). I would not call
      this a case of delay, I would call it a current expression of a situation
      which was continually deteriorating in the outside world. We might instance
      the continually sharper discussion between the Confucian texts on the one
      hand, and the representative Legalist text Han Feidz, on the other, all
      through the Han dynasty up to Wu-di. As the stakes rose, so did the

      For a parallel to the specific animus of Christians toward Judas, once one
      of their own, I would be tempted to refer to the case of Han Fei and Li Sz.
      The tale told by Szma Tan in the first version of his account of Han Fei (SJ
      63) has Han Fei betrayed by the rival Chin minister Li Sz into taking poison
      and dying in a Chin prison. This is already pretty bad. But it was made
      worse by Tan's son Szma Tan, who later added the detail that Han Fei and Li
      Sz had been students together under Sywndz. Given the bond that is typically
      supposed to exist between fellow students, this makes Li Sz's treachery
      twice as bad as before.

      In both cases, the treachery of a colleague is made worse by making the link
      with that colleague originally closer.

      If a neighbor had told the authorities where Jesus's safe house was, that
      neighbor would have been an opportunist, but not exactly a betrayer. Judas
      was one of Jesus's followers, a sort of gofer among them, and so from the
      beginning he was a notch higher up on the scale of horrendousness. He was
      moved higher still by some later writer who redefined him as one *of the
      intimate circle* of Jesus: one of the Twelve. It is this promotion (the
      Judas on the list was originally "Judas of Jacob") that messes up the extant
      disciple lists. In Mark, Judas Iscariot has simply replaced Judas of James;
      in Matthew, that list is copied. Luke instead retains the earlier Judas and
      also Simon the Caananean (renamed Simon the Zealot), and bumps instead the
      next name up: Thaddeus. The original list was identical to that in Mark save
      that the last name on it was not Judas Iscariot (of Kerioth), but Judas of
      Jacob (in English Bibles called James, for reasons obscure to those not of
      that principality).

      We see here, I suggest, in the case of Judas as also in the case of Li Sz,
      the same cranking up of the audience reaction. Pushing the buttons of the
      culture. Exaggerations of atrocity stories generally follow this pattern.
      There is nothing new or remarkable about the pattern itself. The historical
      question is, why did the respective movements follow that path of
      development rather than some other, and why did they choose to do so at that
      particular time?

      [We used to have, on the web site, a dramatic dissection of the Han Fei part
      of SJ 63, showing exactly where Chyen added his atrocity enhancements to
      Tan's original chapter. If anyone would like to see it again, let me know,
      and I can try to convert those pages to current form (we still have the
      pages). It made a nice demo; just the thing to call up if you are stuck with
      sitting your grandchildren for the afternoon, and can't think how to amuse


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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