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Re: [Synoptic-L] Parallelism as an indicator of primitivity

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  • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
    To: Synoptic Cc; GPG Responding To: Ron, Dennis On: The Jesus Community Dennis s reminder about the Dead Sea Scrolls evidence seemed to me very apropos. I had
    Message 1 of 33 , Mar 11, 2010
      To: Synoptic
      Cc; GPG
      Responding To: Ron, Dennis
      On: The Jesus Community

      Dennis's reminder about the Dead Sea Scrolls evidence seemed to me
      very apropos. I had one other problem with the line he quoted from
      Ron, namely

      RON [via Dennis]: "The tie-up between the opening clause "Blessed are
      the poor" and Gal 2:10 surely clinches the connection with the
      original Jesus community. (Who else?"

      BRUCE: It is surely relevant. But Galatians itself is not all that
      early in the history of the Jesus movement. In addition, is there not
      a fallacy in the idea that there was only one "original Jesus
      community?" My best reading of the evidence is that Jesus himself
      preached (and presumably made converts) all over northern Galilee and
      points north, and so did his chief followers, both during and after
      his life. But at first, nothing except the occasional circular latter
      from back in Galilee connected these cellgroups to each other, and
      they were thus somewhat free to develop in their own ways. The
      Damascus church, for example, was surely founded in this period, since
      it was in existence at the beginning of Paul's turnaround. Quite
      possibly Antioch also (visited during Paul's time by Peter, perhaps
      asserting rights of origination). All of these were probably rooted in
      the local Jewish community, but no two of them are likely to have had
      exactly the same take on what they heard, or to have developed it in
      the same direction. Did Jews in Edessa (probably missionarized by
      Thaddaeus) regularly meet, and iron out doctrinal differences, with
      Jew from Antioch or Ephesus or for that matter Caesarea Philippi? I
      would have to see the evidence.

      As for the earliness of Christian poverty theory:

      The Ebionites (on whom Michael Goulder has written several papers,
      which to my eye are cogent and important) were surely older than the
      orthodoxy that later condemned them. The Ebionites' account of
      themselves was that they fell into poverty circumstantially, having
      sold all they had and given it to the poor (see Mark). But other and
      less drastic options were surely open to believers, even if the Markan
      Jesus (in a late layer) is made to recommend this one. It is probably
      not so much a case of one trunk and several splinter developments, as
      of a whole lot of splinters. The Ebionites were one recognizable
      splinter. How many others there might have been, within the circle of
      those who would have agreed in acknowledging Jesus as their prophet,
      will probably require some careful research to determine.

      Within the Synoptics, there is a sort of mini-Trajectory consisting of
      the degree of prominence of the poor in theological thinking. In Mark
      (as I construe Mark), it comes in late layers only. The Epistle of
      Jacob, same way: a mixed community in Layer A which is estranged from,
      and hostile to, the rich in a later layer (a layer which shows
      connections with Matthew. Matthew himself works sympathy for the poor
      into his idea of the basic teachings of Jesus, hence in his view this
      dated back to the beginning, though Matthew is not entitled, at the
      date he is usually thought to be working, to speak authoritatively for
      the beginning. Luke, as is well known, turns up the heat under the
      condemnation of the rich, from Mary straight through the parable of
      Lazarus (both original with him, and neither very becoming; I was
      always shocked by the words of the Magnificat, Bach or no Bach). I
      should think it very likely that this progression parallels a
      progression in real life, one which was visible to, and indeed
      somewhat constitutive for, the Synoptists themselves.

      Not that they were the only strand, or splinter, in the period. They
      are just the one which, in the judgement of those later in charge of
      these things, it was decreed that we should be considering to be
      especially important. I am all for emphasizing the early texts, but by
      the time of gJn there were demonstrably several Jewish and Christian
      apocryphal texts already in existence, and exerting an influence on
      those who wrote the later canonical texts (eg, Ezra and the Testament
      of Moses in Jude, both of which are suppressed in the later and
      orthodoxizing 2 Peter). A properly historical inquiry should surely
      include these also, at the point in time where they first appear; not
      just in the footnotes, but on the worktable, ab initio.

      The fallacy is not to work on Mark, Matthew, and Luke, but to think
      that we are finished when we have arrived at an opinion about them.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • E Bruce Brooks
      To: GPG Cc: Synoptic In Response To: Keith Yoder On: Mark and John From: Bruce Thanks to Keith for his additional notes on recasting of previous tradition in
      Message 33 of 33 , Mar 24, 2010
        To: GPG
        Cc: Synoptic
        In Response To: Keith Yoder
        On: Mark and John
        From: Bruce

        Thanks to Keith for his additional notes on recasting of previous
        tradition in John. The subject is a large one, with its own special
        interest, and all points are welcome.

        One of the skills needed by the successful churchman is the grace to
        respond politely when presented with a Festschrift which is small,
        undistinguished, and full of internal rancor, one author using his
        space to trash the opinion of another author about the date and
        authenticity of 1 Peter. Such was the crisis which must have
        confronted the dedicatee when he was handed Sherman E Johnson, The Joy
        of Study: Papers on New Testament and Related Subjects Presented to
        Honor Frederick Clifton Grant (Macmillan 1951).

        Fred his my sympathy in that moment.

        Nevertheless, there are some shreds of interest in the thing. One is
        the paper by Sydney Temple (University of Massachusetts, no less) on
        Geography and Climate in the Fourth Gospel. He makes what looks to me
        like a good case that the author of John knew Palestinian geography
        and its seasons very well: when a certain ford was passable, when the
        court migrated from Jerusalem to Jericho, when the high road through
        Samaria would have been preferable to the more obvious lowland one.

        Does this mean that John, being more cogent about geography than it
        seems Mark always was, knew Palestine, and Mark did not? That might be
        a rash conclusion. But with Temple's data in mind, we can at least say
        that he had done his homework, not only on the calendar, but on the
        ground.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts
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