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Re: [GPG] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS

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  • 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 1 of 11 , Apr 3 8:42 AM
      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 2 of 11 , Apr 5 7:36 AM
        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 3 of 11 , Apr 5 9:49 AM
          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 4 of 11 , Apr 5 11:56 AM
            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 5 of 11 , Apr 5 7:12 PM
              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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