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Re: [Synoptic-L] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS

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  • Dennis Goffin
    I agree that the sacrificial cult and purity rules are unconnected observances, but the point I was making was that Jesus consistently emphasized the spirit as
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 3, 2010
      I agree that the sacrificial cult and purity rules are unconnected observances, but the point I was making was that Jesus consistently emphasized the spirit as against the letter of the Law, as did the Prophets.
      Dennis

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Jeffrey B Gibson
      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, April 02, 2010 10:21 PM
      Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS



      On 4/2/2010 4:16 PM, Dennis Goffin wrote:
      > The fact that Mark does not enumerate all the commandments when Jesus speaks to the rich young man, does not mean that Jesus rejected those he did not bother to mention. All it means is that he wished to emphasize the ethical ones.

      And you know this how?
      > In this, he was merely following the practice of the Prophets, who accentuated the moral at the expense of the ritual. The same consideration applies equally to Pharisaic purity rules.

      The observance of which has nothing to do with Pharisaic purity rules.

      Jeffrey

      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
      Chicago, Illinois
      e-mail jgibson000@...





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Dennis Goffin
      Bruce, There is a lack of argument from silence which interests me at the moment. Why do you not deal with Jesus sending his disciples to prepare the Passover,
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 3, 2010
        Bruce,
        There is a lack of argument from silence which interests me at the moment. Why do you not deal with Jesus sending his disciples to prepare the Passover, which also appears in Mark ?
        Dennis

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: E Bruce Brooks
        To: gpg@yahoogroups.com
        Cc: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com ; WSW
        Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2010 8:21 AM
        Subject: Re: [GPG] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS



        To: GPG
        Cc: Synoptic, WSW
        In Response To: Dennis Goffin
        On: The Beliefs of Jesus
        From: Bruce

        DENNIS: The fact that Mark does not enumerate all the commandments
        when Jesus speaks to the rich young man, does not mean that Jesus
        rejected those he did not bother to mention. All it means is that he
        wished to emphasize the ethical ones.

        BRUCE: Not necessarily. People often regard arguments from silence as
        weak or even fallacious, or even as proving the opposite (at least we
        encounter this extreme in Sinology; I can't speak for the rational
        human sciences). Consider, however, that if something does not in fact
        exist, then the only trace it is capable of leaving in the evidence is
        its absence from the evidence.

        Jesus runs through quite a few of the recognizable commandments, plus
        one less canonical one (fraud, which is developed in later Christian
        writings, and thus is not some kind of misprint). All of them are from
        the ethical side of things, and none are from the sacrificial side of
        things. The implication is that Jesus is only interested in the
        ethical side, and is just a little bit creative in that area.

        Of course, inferences of absence need to be tested against other
        evidence where available. So the next question to ask (I feel like I
        am in methodological kindergarten, and for the fourth year in a row,
        having flunked out the previous three years, but anyway) is, what is
        Jesus's stance, either spoken or acted or implied, toward the rules of
        sacrificial piety in the rest of Mark?

        I would say that his record on the sacrificial side is nothing to brag
        about. He violates the Sabbath, more than once, and on at least two
        occasions he has the unspeakable nerve to justify his violation. Does
        he support the Temple sacrificial cult? Not noticeably, since he and
        his team drive out the money changers and victim sellers who alone
        make Temple sacrifices possible for the many. Away from the Temple,
        does he maintain suitable personal purity in his own life? Again, not
        conspicuously: he consorts with unclean and even despised persons, he
        touches lepers, . . .

        All in all, I think we would have to look pretty hard at the Markan
        Jesus to discover an enthusiast for the sacrificial pietistic half of
        the Mosaic code. Korban, anyone?

        Does the list of negatives Jesus recites for the Rich Young Man (not
        that he is necessarily either rich or young, but you know the guy I
        mean) seem to resonate with his conduct and comments elsewhere in
        Mark? Yeah, I would say so. If there is a clear exception, somebody
        will have to point it out to me.

        On balance, it looks to me as though the natural inference from the
        absence of sacrificial piety precepts in Jesus's enumeration of the
        Commandments, though it is technically only an inference, is massively
        confirmed, both on the positive and on the negative side, by
        everything else in Mark. To me, that is an actionable level of
        confirmation. I accordingly regard the inference as operationally
        justified.

        Of course Mark may be lying; there are always higher questions. But of
        the consistency of his picture of Jesus, at least in this regard, I
        don't find much to complain of, or to arouse suspicion. His theology
        is all mixed up (whether from textual siltation or some other cause),
        and his formal design is severely compromised by other designs,
        whether superimposed or merely simultaneous. But that apart, I think
        he saw the beliefs of Jesus, in the ethical sphere, with a pretty
        consisent eye.

        No?

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Dennis Goffin On: Beliefs of Jesus From: Bruce DENNIS: the point I was making was that Jesus consistently emphasized the
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 3, 2010
          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG
          In Response To: Dennis Goffin
          On: Beliefs of Jesus
          From: Bruce

          DENNIS: the point I was making was that Jesus consistently emphasized
          the spirit as against the letter of the Law, as did the Prophets.

          BRUCE: There is no consistency in Mark on certain topics; there is
          rather what looks a lot like evolutionary stages mixed in together.
          Any genuine consistencies attributable to Jesus in Mark must usually
          be dug out from the other stuff. They are important when found, but
          they have to be fairly found. I don't find the above result completely
          fair, and here is why.

          There is a place in Mark where Jesus rejects a Mosaic accommodation
          (permission of divorce) and affirms against it what he evidently
          thinks of as the higher ruling on the subject, which comes down to: no
          divorce. Marriage is indissoluble, and has been so since the creation
          of the world. I would call this fidelity to the letter of the law,
          albeit at this particular point it is God's law and not the footnotes
          of Moses, the Mosaic accommodation of human frailty. God was important
          to Jesus, and specifically as an ordainer of how things should go,
          humanwise.

          Did Jesus see himself as the giver of a new law? Certainly at one
          point Matthew represented him that way ("you have heard . . . but I
          say to you . . ."?). But Matthew is inconsistent in his own way, and
          anyway, he is a long way down the pike, what about the early stuff,
          namely Mark? I think the above example goes far to answer Yes for Mark
          as well. Jesus wanted people to return to lawfulness, by repenting of
          their violations of lawfulness and so meriting forgiveness and eternal
          life. But he disputed with the experts, not whether there was law, but
          about exactly what the law did and did not require. He attempted (as I
          read Mark) not to replace the law but to refresh it, to take it out of
          later legalistic quibbles and back to the word of God.

          As he saw it.

          In this, as hardly needs demonstration, he is very much in the spirit
          of the Later Prophets (like Malachi; not the Prophets at large - the
          later you get in Synoptic tradition, it seems to me, the more Isaianic
          the atmosphere becomes), But with his own distinctive spin.

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: GPG Cc: Synoptic In Response To: Dennis Goffin On: The Commandments of Jesus From: Bruce On the subject of how conventional was the piety of Jesus, and
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 3, 2010
            To: GPG
            Cc: Synoptic
            In Response To: Dennis Goffin
            On: The Commandments of Jesus
            From: Bruce\

            On the subject of how conventional was the piety of Jesus, and which
            conventions, we also had:

            DENNIS: There is a lack of argument from silence which interests me at
            the moment. Why do you not deal with Jesus sending his disciples to
            prepare the Passover, which also appears in Mark ?

            BRUCE: If I dealt with everything in one message, (a) the List
            Managers would at last complain, and (b) it would be a commentary, and
            Brill would charge you $375 for it.

            The imputation here (see previous thread) is that Jesus did not reject
            Temple piety; he merely gave special emphasis to the other stuff. It
            seems that observance of the Passover is being offered as a
            refutation. I do not find that the refutation refutes. The Passover,
            as I understand it (which is not very much, and those versed in these
            matters are welcome to give a better grounded view), is not Temple
            piety, it is family piety; it is Jewish national feeling embodied in a
            ceremony of remembrance. Yes, a lamb was killed to provide the usual
            meal. That does not mean that the lamb was sacrificed, it just means
            that lamb was traditional.

            I would contrast this with literal sacrifice of lambs (or other living
            things) at the Temple. When the Temple was destroyed, this aspect of
            Jewish piety simply ceased. The unification of God worship in the
            early days of Israel, when the many and informal places at which God
            was sacrificed to were abolished in favor of Zion, did not (as far as
            my information goes) re-emerge after the year 70. The Samaritans,
            which had always held out against Jerusalem Unification, kept their
            distinctive holy places.

            What God had done in the past for Israel was important for Jesus; he
            had it in mind that God might yet do something for Israel. The
            commemoration of God's past deeds on behalf of Israel would have
            bothered him, as I imagine, not at all; if anything, the contrary.
            That he saw his disciples' preparation of the Passover during his stay
            in Jerusalem as a participation in Temple ritual (if that is what is
            here suggested) doesn't work for me.

            True, later Evangelists sought to link Jesus's death symbolically with
            the sacrifice of the lambs for Passover; this underlines the function
            of Jesus's death as a general Atonement. But gJn in particular does
            this only by directly contravening the earlier and explicit chronology
            of Mark. I cannot but think that we have here a later pious
            embroidery, theologically motivated, and that the theology itself is
            late theology.

            gJn appeals very much to some readers; it was meant to. But to read
            Mark through Johannine eyes does not seem to me a methodologically
            sound way of reading Mark.

            A list of points troubling to the reader of Mark, and of their
            amelioration in John, would be an interesting half hour's work. Can
            anyone provide a list, or a reference to one? In the interest of
            keeping Synoptic discourse firmly on Synoptic tracks?

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          • Dennis Goffin
            I think you have it exactly right,Bruce, with regard to the Passover and I am happy to yield to you on this. In regard to the relative importance or otherwise
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 5, 2010
              I think you have it exactly right,Bruce, with regard to the Passover and I am happy to yield to you on this. In regard to the relative importance or otherwise that Jesus accorded to the Temple cult, I would quote Jesus' comment in Mk. 12: 34 as an excellent summing up.
              Dennis
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: E Bruce Brooks
              To: gpg@yahoogroups.com
              Cc: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2010 4:42 PM
              Subject: [Synoptic-L] Re: [GPG] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS



              To: GPG
              Cc: Synoptic
              In Response To: Dennis Goffin
              On: The Commandments of Jesus
              From: Bruce\

              On the subject of how conventional was the piety of Jesus, and which
              conventions, we also had:

              DENNIS: There is a lack of argument from silence which interests me at
              the moment. Why do you not deal with Jesus sending his disciples to
              prepare the Passover, which also appears in Mark ?

              BRUCE: If I dealt with everything in one message, (a) the List
              Managers would at last complain, and (b) it would be a commentary, and
              Brill would charge you $375 for it.

              The imputation here (see previous thread) is that Jesus did not reject
              Temple piety; he merely gave special emphasis to the other stuff. It
              seems that observance of the Passover is being offered as a
              refutation. I do not find that the refutation refutes. The Passover,
              as I understand it (which is not very much, and those versed in these
              matters are welcome to give a better grounded view), is not Temple
              piety, it is family piety; it is Jewish national feeling embodied in a
              ceremony of remembrance. Yes, a lamb was killed to provide the usual
              meal. That does not mean that the lamb was sacrificed, it just means
              that lamb was traditional.

              I would contrast this with literal sacrifice of lambs (or other living
              things) at the Temple. When the Temple was destroyed, this aspect of
              Jewish piety simply ceased. The unification of God worship in the
              early days of Israel, when the many and informal places at which God
              was sacrificed to were abolished in favor of Zion, did not (as far as
              my information goes) re-emerge after the year 70. The Samaritans,
              which had always held out against Jerusalem Unification, kept their
              distinctive holy places.

              What God had done in the past for Israel was important for Jesus; he
              had it in mind that God might yet do something for Israel. The
              commemoration of God's past deeds on behalf of Israel would have
              bothered him, as I imagine, not at all; if anything, the contrary.
              That he saw his disciples' preparation of the Passover during his stay
              in Jerusalem as a participation in Temple ritual (if that is what is
              here suggested) doesn't work for me.

              True, later Evangelists sought to link Jesus's death symbolically with
              the sacrifice of the lambs for Passover; this underlines the function
              of Jesus's death as a general Atonement. But gJn in particular does
              this only by directly contravening the earlier and explicit chronology
              of Mark. I cannot but think that we have here a later pious
              embroidery, theologically motivated, and that the theology itself is
              late theology.

              gJn appeals very much to some readers; it was meant to. But to read
              Mark through Johannine eyes does not seem to me a methodologically
              sound way of reading Mark.

              A list of points troubling to the reader of Mark, and of their
              amelioration in John, would be an interesting half hour's work. Can
              anyone provide a list, or a reference to one? In the interest of
              keeping Synoptic discourse firmly on Synoptic tracks?

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Dennis Goffin
              I have difficulty, Bruce, in seeing Jesus readiness to set aside a Mosaic accommodation as fidelity to the letter of the Law. Instead, I would have said that
              Message 6 of 11 , Apr 5, 2010
                I have difficulty, Bruce, in seeing Jesus' readiness to set aside a Mosaic accommodation as fidelity to the letter of the Law. Instead, I would have said that it echoes a constant theme of his teaching, which is to emphasize the more demanding spirit behind the letter at the expense of mechanical adherence. Incidentally, looking this passage up in Nineham he makes the point that it is an unfelicitous intrusion in a long section on discipleship and therefore possibly a late cuckoo in this particular nest.
                Dennis
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: E Bruce Brooks
                To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                Cc: gpg@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2010 4:27 PM
                Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS



                To: Synoptic
                Cc: GPG
                In Response To: Dennis Goffin
                On: Beliefs of Jesus
                From: Bruce

                DENNIS: the point I was making was that Jesus consistently emphasized
                the spirit as against the letter of the Law, as did the Prophets.

                BRUCE: There is no consistency in Mark on certain topics; there is
                rather what looks a lot like evolutionary stages mixed in together.
                Any genuine consistencies attributable to Jesus in Mark must usually
                be dug out from the other stuff. They are important when found, but
                they have to be fairly found. I don't find the above result completely
                fair, and here is why.

                There is a place in Mark where Jesus rejects a Mosaic accommodation
                (permission of divorce) and affirms against it what he evidently
                thinks of as the higher ruling on the subject, which comes down to: no
                divorce. Marriage is indissoluble, and has been so since the creation
                of the world. I would call this fidelity to the letter of the law,
                albeit at this particular point it is God's law and not the footnotes
                of Moses, the Mosaic accommodation of human frailty. God was important
                to Jesus, and specifically as an ordainer of how things should go,
                humanwise.

                Did Jesus see himself as the giver of a new law? Certainly at one
                point Matthew represented him that way ("you have heard . . . but I
                say to you . . ."?). But Matthew is inconsistent in his own way, and
                anyway, he is a long way down the pike, what about the early stuff,
                namely Mark? I think the above example goes far to answer Yes for Mark
                as well. Jesus wanted people to return to lawfulness, by repenting of
                their violations of lawfulness and so meriting forgiveness and eternal
                life. But he disputed with the experts, not whether there was law, but
                about exactly what the law did and did not require. He attempted (as I
                read Mark) not to replace the law but to refresh it, to take it out of
                later legalistic quibbles and back to the word of God.

                As he saw it.

                In this, as hardly needs demonstration, he is very much in the spirit
                of the Later Prophets (like Malachi; not the Prophets at large - the
                later you get in Synoptic tradition, it seems to me, the more Isaianic
                the atmosphere becomes), But with his own distinctive spin.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • E Bruce Brooks
                To: GPG Cc: Synoptic In Response To: Dennis Goffin On: Beliefs of Jesus (Law) From: Bruce For context, let me recall that I had said this about the Markan
                Message 7 of 11 , Apr 5, 2010
                  To: GPG
                  Cc: Synoptic
                  In Response To: Dennis Goffin
                  On: Beliefs of Jesus (Law)
                  From: Bruce

                  For context, let me recall that I had said this about the Markan
                  Jesus's attitude to the Jewish Law:

                  BRUCE: There is a place in Mark where Jesus rejects a Mosaic accommodation
                  (permission of divorce) and affirms against it what he evidently
                  thinks of as the higher ruling on the subject, which comes down to: no
                  divorce. Marriage is indissoluble, and has been so since the creation
                  of the world. I would call this fidelity to the letter of the law,
                  albeit at this particular point it is God's law and not the footnotes
                  of Moses, the Mosaic accommodation of human frailty. God was important
                  to Jesus, and specifically as an ordainer of how things should go,
                  humanwise.

                  DENNIS (previously, responding): I have difficulty, Bruce, in seeing
                  Jesus' readiness to set aside a Mosaic accommodation as fidelity to
                  the letter of the Law.

                  BRUCE (now): I think you are ignoring my qualification. Jesus's
                  concern at this point is with the law of divorce. He does not say
                  there is no law. He says there is a law, and he then gives a reason
                  why the specific Mosaic provision on divorce is an accommodation
                  rather than God's will (and he proceeds to cite, in support of that
                  brief, material from Genesis expressing God's will in the matter. Note
                  that to Jesus, Genesis may also have counted at Mosaic; some Aramaists
                  would even say that there was in this time no Pentateuch; only the One
                  Book of the Law, a book indivisibly Mosaic in its current acceptation,
                  just as all the Psalms were spoken of as Davidic).

                  [In terms of discussion to follow, let me note that my exposition here
                  is not easily distinguishable from what Nineham, top of p261, reports
                  as the interpretation of "most commentators." In this case, I am glad
                  to have their company].

                  BRUCE (resuming): Notice that neither here nor any other place does
                  Jesus reject Moses. He makes an exception in this instance. He
                  supports the idea that law governs in these cases, and he generally
                  accepts Moses in the narrow sense as representing that law. Anybody
                  who has read higher court proceedings will be familiar with the
                  general rhetorical situation.

                  DENNIS: Instead, I would have said that it echoes a constant theme of
                  his teaching, which is to emphasize the more demanding spirit behind
                  the letter at the expense of mechanical adherence.

                  BRUCE: That looks to me like a summary sense of Jesus, gained from a
                  composite of Gospel passages. It it applies to the present specific
                  case, please show how.

                  DENNIS: Incidentally, looking this passage up in Nineham he makes the
                  point that it is an unfelicitous intrusion in a long section on
                  discipleship and therefore possibly a late cuckoo in this particular
                  nest.

                  BRUCE: If the passage is textually late, then for present purposes, we
                  should ignore it in favor of those that are textually early. To judge
                  Nineham's remark, we would need to (1) see his argument for this
                  particular passage, (2) see what other passages, if any, he would
                  identify as late additions, and (3) see what conclusion he (or failing
                  himself, we) would draw from that list of addenda about the early
                  Markan image of Jesus.

                  MK 10:1-12

                  To make a beginning on answering the first part, Nineham identifies
                  the whole of Mk 10:1-12 as ill placed and interruptive: "seems to have
                  little connection with what precedes or what follows" (with mention,
                  in 259n, of Wellhausen's comment as unsatisfactory, with which I would
                  agree). Of course, there is a lot in Mark of what that could be said;
                  Mark is rhetorically choppy.

                  Looking for the moment only at the passage in question, my first
                  thought would be that it reminds me of 4:10-20. And why? Because in
                  both cases, a saying of Jesus is followed by a private session with
                  the disciples, in which Jesus clarifies or expands (or whatever) his
                  more public remark.

                  I would think that these disciple asides had the purpose of updating
                  an earlier bit of text whose relevance to community needs had waned.
                  If we look at the specific possible interpretive addendum 10:10-12,
                  what do we find? Is it a clarifying expansion, as an integral view of
                  the passage would expect, or does it go into new territory, as might
                  also be the case?

                  I would say, It goes into new territory, though admittedly still legal
                  interpretation territory. For it is here that we get the remarkable
                  prohibition of a woman divorcing her husband, a saying that greatly
                  exercises the commentators. It is widely thought (on what grounds I am
                  not prepared to judge) that this second provision is meaningless in
                  Jewish law, where only the husband could divorce, and slightly more
                  sensible in terms of Gentile law.

                  If so, then the hypothesis of a 10:10-12 addendum to 10:1-9 has this
                  much support: it might thinkably be a reflection of the movement of
                  the area subtended by Mark from strictly Jewish to at least partly
                  Gentile context.

                  So, OK, that hypothesis is perhaps meaningful, but is there anything
                  that would support it? I would answer, Yes, there are a couple of
                  places in Mark that can more or less plausibly be said to be
                  Gentile-aware. I inventoried the possible Gentile Mission references
                  in an earlier message. In the wider group of passages that seem to
                  deal in some way (to my eye, almost always a grudging way) with the
                  presence of Gentiles and their social and legal expectations, I might
                  mention the Syrophoenician Woman and the Gerasene Demoniac, both on
                  Gentile soil and neither leading to acceptance of the person by Jesus.

                  It seems to me that these three (and others might be added) do not
                  make the Gospel of Mark or any part of it Pauline, but they do catch
                  it in the act of accepting a Gentile reality as part of what the
                  Gospel of Mark is concerned to deal with, take a stand on, give its
                  readers a guideline about.

                  Then might there be a late and Gentile-aware set of intrusions into Mark?

                  In a word or two, Yes, there might indeed.

                  Bruce

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                • E Bruce Brooks
                  To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: Dennis Goffin On: Jesus and the Temple Cult From: Bruce DENNIS: In regard to the relative importance or otherwise that
                  Message 8 of 11 , Apr 5, 2010
                    To: Synoptic
                    Cc: GPG
                    In Response To: Dennis Goffin
                    On: Jesus and the Temple Cult
                    From: Bruce

                    DENNIS: In regard to the relative importance or otherwise that Jesus
                    accorded to the Temple cult, I would quote Jesus' comment in Mk. 12:
                    34 as an excellent summing up.

                    [Mk 12:32-34]: "you are right, Teacher; you have truly said that He is
                    one, and there is no other but He, [33] and to love Him with all the
                    heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and
                    to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt
                    offerings and sacrifices." [34]And when Jesus saw that he answered
                    wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And
                    after that no one dared to ask him any question.

                    BRUCE: This is a question about the most important ("first")
                    commandment. It enjoins love of God (not piety toward God, and
                    specifically, not sacrificial piety toward God) and love of neighbor.
                    In other words, the answer sneaks in two commandments, albeit linked
                    in a previously existing text or prayer.

                    This seems to me to be essentially what I have called the Minor
                    Prophet position, and I am on record as crediting the Original
                    Historical Jesus with holding that position. It seems we have an
                    agreement here too.

                    As to the first of these clauses implying, and thus bringing back in,
                    the whole Temple/Sabbath complex of duties, I think that is only the
                    position of Judaizing Matthew ("These you ought to do, without
                    neglecting the others"). I don't think it is a valid position to
                    attribute to the Markan Jesus. At any of his developmental stages.

                    Bruce

                    E Bruce Brooks
                    Warring States Project
                    University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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