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Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [GPG] THE BELIEFS OF JESUS

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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