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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 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]
    • 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 2 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 3 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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