Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: [GTh] Christological Peculiarities
- To: Synoptic
In Response to: Bob Schacht
On: Early Christianity
I had noted that the Patristic conclusions Bob reported were
explicitly about the period from 90 on (to 380), and thus a little
late to be decisive about the varieties (if any) of really early
BOB: Well, Kopacek is too careful a scholar to speculate beyond the
documents he has. He does not consider himself to be a New Testament
scholar, so he leaves that to others. You are free to speculate; he
chooses not to speculate.
BRUCE: I don't think that it can be shown that Patristic evidence is
solid, so that conclusions drawn from it are sound, whereas NT
evidence is worthless, and conclusions drawn from it are of necessity
merely speculative. To me, any conclusion drawn from any text is by
its nature conjectural (in the mathematical sense of "conjecture," see
Shanks on Number Theory), and due care is required for all texts. The
implication that Patristic texts are somehow less problematic than NT
texts doesn't seem reasonable to me. For example, I have heard doubt
shed on much that goes under the name of Clement, and all that goes
under the name of Irenaeus or Polycarp. The way of dealing with these
uncertainties, I should think, is the same as those with the NT texts,
or with any text whatever.
BOB: But I think that the varieties of Christianity that he
identifies, except of course for the Marcionite variety, can all be
traced back before AD 90.
BRUCE: So do I, and so I previously stated. But is this shared thought
a speculation (a wild guess without evidence), or is it a conjecture
(a reasoned conclusion from evidence)? I tend to prefer the latter
There is of course a tradition for considering NT evidence worthless.
Bultmann, to mention only him, has ground into the minds of all and
sundry that we know nothing whatsoever about the HJ; that all supposed
evidence has passed through the four stomachs of the Cow of Time, and
so is equally worthless. I think that is a poor reading of the
evidence itself. But I do notice that it gives the proponent a free
hand with the Jesus thing; a tabula rasa, where any statement is as
good as, or no worse than, any other. Specifically, it suits
Bultmann's own freely expressed agenda for the contemporary
Christianity of his own time. And I add that whenever considerations
of contemporary relevance exist, they simply undermine the historical
enterprise as such.
My own preference is for turning the historical enterprise loose from
these modernist constraints, and seeing what it can turn up when left
to its own devices.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- Jeff Peterson wrote:
> ..... Your "ordinary follower of Jesus" wouldJeff,
> have found it just as difficult to believe that while the Pillars didn't
> understand how followers of Jesus should conduct themselves at table, Paul
What I'm trying to say here is that one can accept a hero who has minor
flaws, such as the earnest but fallible Peter who emerges from a casual
reading of the gospel of Mark. But a follower of Jesus can't accept a hero
who is fundamentally on the wrong track christologically. So Paul could not
have portrayed Peter in this way without upsetting many of his Galatian
> I think the reality described by 1:11 is more complex than Paul having had aJames and Peter were expecting the kingdom of God to come with power
> visionary experience which included a command to "Preach this," with a list
> of propositions appended. Rather, as persecutor he had already heard what
> Jesus' followers were proclaiming about him (viz., the crucified Messiah had
> been raised and enthroned with God, inaugurating the age of deliverance
> promised in Scripture) .....
(Mk 9:1, derived from logia saying C12), i.e. the overthrow of the Roman
occupiers and the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. This clearly
hadn't happened when Paul came on the scene. Paul's supporter, Mark, had to
replace the hopes of the original disciples for the establishment of a new
Israel (saying C21, c.f. Mt 19:28) with a reward in the life to come (Mk
10:29-30). This echoed Paul's promise of eternal life (e.g. Rom 6:22-23).
The idea that the kingdom had been inaugurated by the coming of Jesus arose
after the deaths of the original disciples when it began to look as if the
return of Jesus was delayed and might be delayed a lot longer.
> Your last sentence [regarding the ability or otherwise of the Galatians toTravel was indeed facilitated by the Pax Romana, and also by the widespread
> check Paul's claims] neglects the extent of travel in the early Empire, and
> the use made of this mobility to connect early Christian communities;
> ..... We know that Paul organized Corinthians and Macedonians for an
> embassy to Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:34; 2 Cor 9:4),
Roman roads. But it was still slow. Your example above concerns a journey
which Paul regarded as most important. Travelling several days merely to
check on the truthfulness or otherwise of Paul's assertions in Galatians
would have been a lot less palatable.
> It was very shortsighted of Paul to maintain that he and the Pillars agreedBut as I indicated earlier in this thread, I don't think Paul claimed that
> on the gospel if contact with their followers was a real possibility for his
> converts, and if the reaction of a Jerusalem Christian to an acclamation
> like "Praise be to the God and Father of our crucified Messiah Jesus, who
> raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand" would have been,
> "Come again?"
the pillars agreed on the gospel.
> ..... Peter and theI don't see 9:9 or 14:9 as indicating eventual enlightenment.
> other disciples are depicted as uncomprehending regarding Jesus' impending
> death and resurrection during his ministry, but their eventual enlightenment
> and proclamation of these events is clearly anticipated (9:9; 13:913; 14:9,
> 2728; 16:7).
As for 14:28 and 16:7, I take these verses as early interpolations designed
to rehabilitate Peter. They are quite inconsistent with the rest of the
> In historical terms, once Jesus is executed, a Christology like thatI agree. But my understanding of what transpired is that James, Peter et al.
> ascribed to Peter in 8:2733 becomes untenable .....
changed to a 'Son of Man' christology (see my reconstruction of the logia),
Paul faced up to the inconsistency by glorying in the crucifixion (e.g. 1
Cor 1:23 : "we proclaim Christ crucified"), but playing down the belief in
Jesus as messiah by (for the most part) using "Christ" merely as a sort of