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Re: [Synoptic-L] Christological Peculiarities

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: David Cavanaugh, Ron Price On: Alpha and Beta Christianity From: Bruce Just a few comments from here and there. DAVID C
    Message 1 of 36 , Sep 29, 2010
      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: David Cavanaugh, Ron Price
      On: Alpha and Beta Christianity
      From: Bruce

      Just a few comments from here and there.

      DAVID C (responding to Ron): I'm perfectly well aware that 2 Peter is
      generally considered pseudonymous, but I had never heard that said of
      1 Peter and it seems a far more contentious affirmation.

      BRUCE: Hort considered 1 Pt genuine; so did Selwyn. I think that Frank
      Beare's was the first substantial commentary to take the other view.
      Selwyn responded on behalf of genuineness (in the rather dreary
      festschrift for Fred Grant called The Joy of Study), and Beare came
      back in a supplement to the second edition of his commentary. Beare's
      view has gained considerable acceptance since. Given the texts of
      which 1Pt seems to have been aware (inluding Ephesians, see the study
      by Mitton; and Ephesians in turn is aware of Acts II), 1Pt must be
      post-Pauline, and thus way too far down the scale to be other than
      pseudonymous. The position is reviewed at some length (with a final
      decision dating 1Pt to the decade of the 80's) in Reinhard Feldmeier,
      The First Letter of Peter, 2005, tr Baylor 2008.

      (Admittedly, we are currently in an age of faith rather than whatever
      the other thing is, and as we all know by now, SBL has even
      jettisoned, from its mission statement, the term which put that
      organization on the side of the other thing, and so one can now cite
      any desired number of commentaries which take it as not even requiring
      discussion that 1Pt is by Simon Peter. I don't consider that this
      branch of literature itself requires discussion).

      RON: . . .there remains no evidence that Peter ever came to accept
      Jesus as the unique Son of God, i.e. that he ever became a Christian.
      Therefore the best working hypothesis is that Peter remained a Jew all
      his life.

      DAVID C: That's a false distinction. In the first generation
      "Christian" and "Jew" were not contrasting labels. I also wonder what
      interest the early church could possibly have had in presenting Peter
      as a Christian and indeed the first amongst the apostles if he was not.

      BRUCE: The followers of Jesus were distinctive among Jews already in
      the time of Jesus, if we take the oldest account of Jesus (Mark) into
      consideration. And I think we *should* take it into consideration.
      Mark describes the Jewish/Christian difference in various places, and
      not all of them involve acceptance or rejection of the term "Son of
      God." For example, some of Jesus's audiences in Mark find Jesus to be
      a more authoritative teacher than the usual synagogue expounders. But
      the question is not whether Christians and Jews can be distinguished,
      it is whether Christians can be distinguished from other Christians.
      Following the general line of Walter Bauer (who however did not get
      much into the 1c), and with even more attention to the earliest
      literature, Markan, Jacobite, and other, I conclude that we can;
      indeed, that *they* *did.* Nothing is more obvious from Paul's angry
      epistles that his teachings are being opposed, *within this or that
      local church,* by others. The Judaizing party, for example, were not
      Jews, they were more precisely Jewish followers of Jesus who thought
      that Christianity should maintain all its roots in Judaism, including
      circumcision - in effect, that Christianity (or whatever they called
      it; one thing they called it was the Way, another was the Word,
      another may have been the Gospel of God, see again Mark) was the new,
      the more adequate, kind of Judaism.

      DAVID C (repeating an earlier phrase): I also wonder what interest the
      early church could possibly have had in . . .

      BRUCE: Could I take a moment to object to the term "the church?" I
      think that the term, and the presumption which it embodies, are fatal
      to any discussion of the question at hand. Jesus (by earliest
      accounts, not contradicted in this sense by later accounts) preached
      here and there, establishing groups of believers but not enrolling
      them in a single organized enterprise. Paul ditto, though on a larger
      and more metropolitan scale. There was no large organization which
      added unto itself new groups of converts as they were converted. What
      they were added to was not an institution with powers of enforcement,
      it was a movement defined by belief. Christians in Antioch might feel
      some sort of brotherly kinship with those in Ephesus, and vice versa,
      but no person was originally in sole charge of either (hence the habit
      of missionaries in continuing to exert, in absentia and by epistle,
      guidance after they had moved on), let alone of both.

      A stage is reached with the circular letter, of which Jacob is the
      oldest canonical example: distance guidance effectuated by a letter
      send to more than one group. But how long did it take before this
      resulted in anything that can fairly be called a single organized
      "church?" One of my benchmarks is 1 Clement, writing from Rome to a
      church not of his founding and not strictly speaking under his
      control. This is from late in the 1c, and look how tentatively it goes
      about its business. Even the letters of Irenaeus, if one happens to
      regard them as genuine, show a certain courtesy when writing from one
      church to another. Between Clement (late 1c) and Irenaeus (2c) some
      evolution toward institutional unity is clearly visible. The disputes
      about doctrinal unity - conducted, interestingly enough, in terms of
      texts rather than (as earlier) in terms of beliefs - also appear at
      exactly this time, the overlap between the late 1c and the early to
      middle 2c. All this seems to be intelligible and consistent: it shows
      an increasing tendency toward cohesion and the emergence of an
      enforceable orthodoxy. It also shows that such a situation seriously
      began to emerge in the late 1c. Not earlier. If so, then it destroys
      clarity of thought to retroject that picture into the preceding 60 or
      70 years.

      I warmly recommend not doing so.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ronald Price
      ... Jeff, 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
      Message 36 of 36 , Oct 3 2:31 AM
        Jeff Peterson wrote:

        > ..... Your "ordinary follower of Jesus" would
        > 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
        > did;


        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 a
        > 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) .....

        James and Peter were expecting the kingdom of God to come with power
        (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 to
        > 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 16:3–4; 2 Cor 9:4),

        Travel was indeed facilitated by the Pax Romana, and also by the widespread
        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 agreed
        > 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?"

        But as I indicated earlier in this thread, I don't think Paul claimed that
        the pillars agreed on the gospel.

        > ..... Peter and the
        > 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; 13:9–13; 14:9,
        > 27–28; 16:7).

        I don't see 9:9 or 14:9 as indicating eventual enlightenment.
        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 that
        > ascribed to Peter in 8:27–33 becomes untenable .....

        I agree. But my understanding of what transpired is that James, Peter et al.
        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

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

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