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RE: The Gentile mission? RE: [Synoptic-L] Luke's Great Omission

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic (GPG) In Response To: Bob Schacht On: Samaritans and Gentiles From: Bruce I had suggested (without claiming entire originality for it, since both
    Message 1 of 14 , May 18, 2012
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      To: Synoptic (GPG)
      In Response To: Bob Schacht
      On: Samaritans and Gentiles
      From: Bruce

      I had suggested (without claiming entire originality for it, since both
      Creed and Goulder, inter alia, have noted the symbolism of 70, echoing
      Genesis, as meaning the nations of the world; this is a variant on Mark's 7
      baskets, which is how Mark signals the meaning he intends to be perceived in
      the Feeding of the 4000), that the Samaritans in Luke symbolize the
      Gentiles, and that the appointment of the 70 is meant to imply Jesus's
      recognition, and indeed inauguration, of the Gentile Mission.

      Bob: I object to this characterization of Samaria. Rather than being a
      symbol of Gentiles (which Samaritans were not), I think it symbolizes Luke's
      message that Jesus' message was for all Jews-- not just the orthodox Judean
      Jews, or the local parochial Galilean Jews, but all of them.

      Bruce: In which case, it seems that Luke's appointing of a new set of 70
      Apostles (and splitting Mark's instructions to the 12 in half, to furnish
      them) is a bit of narrative overkill. The symbolic interpretation seems the
      more likely since no Samaritans are actually visited, or preached to, and no
      specifically Samaritan beliefs are noted (compare John, where the
      differences between Samaritans and Jews are part of the conversation between
      Jesus and the locals). We might also consider other instances in Luke, such
      as the Healing of the Ten Lepers, where Jesus says of the only one - a
      Samaritan - who returned to thank him, "Was no one found to return and give
      praise to God except this foreigner?" (Lk 17:18). I find it easier to
      construe "foreigner" as "foreigner," than as either a Jew or a heretical Jew
      (which seems to have been the status of literal historical Samaritans).

      On the prior case of Mark's 4000, . . .

      Bob: I object to these characterizations, as well. The inclusion of the
      Gentiles in Luke is shown primarily by Luke 2:32 and the references to Tyre
      & Sidon in Luke 6:17 (Sermon on the Plain) and the Woes in Luke 10:13-14, as
      well as Mark's story of the Syrophoenician woman.

      Bruce: Lk 2:32 is an Isaiah quote from Mary's Magnificat; it has nothing
      biographically to do with Jesus. As for Lk 6:17 (the crowd from Judaea,
      Jerusalem, and the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon), what is to prevent them
      from being any less Jewish than the crowds who came to hear John the
      Baptist? There were Jews as far away as Rome, and surely the apostolic
      effort outside Palestine had Jews, not the general population, of those
      places as their first, and indeed their originally intended, audience. The
      inclusion of Gentiles most likely began as an inadvertent, unlooked-for, and
      at first unwelcome side effect of preaching to Diaspora Jews. As for the
      cursing of three Galilean towns in Lk 10:13f, that might be thought to give
      preference to the Jerusalem Mission over the Galilean one, especially since
      Luke, like Matthew (who has an exactly parallel curse), was committed to the
      Jerusalem-centrist view of Christian history (he totally eliminates the hint
      of a Jesus appearance in Galilee, and transfers it to Jerusalem). But does
      that curse amount to a blessing on Gentiles? If I curse my neighbor on the
      left, is this evidence of love for my neighbor on the right?

      If these were all the evidence for Luke's acceptance, or even his awareness,
      of the Gentile Mission, it seems to me that it would be very hard to prove
      Luke's knowledge or approval of the Gentile Mission. No?

      And yet if conventional wisdom holds, the same Luke who wrote this
      Gentile-denying or at any rate Gentile-ignoring Gospel also personally
      accompanied Paul on what Paul himself was pleased to call a mission to the
      Gentiles. Surely there is a conundrum here, and so far, I prefer my solution
      to any alternative so far on offer.

      ----------

      The Gentile mission was something which arose after the lifetime of Jesus.
      On that, perhaps agreement is possible. Given that fact, if we may concede
      that it is a fact, it was awkward for any Gospel writer to portray Jesus as
      himself preaching, or sending preachers, among the Gentiles. A manifest
      anachronism would have been involved. So if Jesus's approval of the
      intentional conversion of Gentiles was to be portrayed, it could only have
      been in symbolic terms. I think that symbolic terms were in fact used, by
      both Mark and Luke. The only other course was to portray the Mission to the
      Gentiles as something not part of Jesus's plan, but as belonging exclusively
      to the post-Jesus period. In the eyes of probable readers, it seems to me
      that this would tend to render the Mission to the Gentiles invalid, as
      departing from the practice and the approval of Jesus. It was then a
      second-best rhetorical strategy. I think the Evangelists followed what they
      thought was a first-best strategy.

      In all religions, including the Buddhist, the tendency is to portray later
      innovations (in the case of Buddhism, such things as the cult of relics and
      pilgrimages to sacred sites and the establishment of fully residential
      monasticism) as occurring in the lifetime of the founder, or at any rate as
      having somehow received his explicit approval. I suggest that in these
      symbolisms of Mark and Luke, we are seeing this universal tendency also at
      work: retrojecting into the time of Jesus developments that actually came
      afterward.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • David Mealand
      Not too sure about some of the points made in this exchange Isn t Mark s second feeding set in the Decapolis? (i.e. mainly Gentile territory containing Greek
      Message 2 of 14 , May 19, 2012
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        Not too sure about some of the points made
        in this exchange

        Isn't Mark's second feeding set in the Decapolis?
        (i.e. mainly Gentile territory containing Greek cities,
        and pro-Roman in outlook, separated off from Hasmonean
        domains by Pompey, and again later by Augustus after
        Herod's death).

        Wasn't the main charge laid against Samaritans
        one of ethnicity, that their ancestors had
        inter-married with non-Israelites - they didn't
        originally belong to Judah, and orthodoxy and heresy
        are alien categories imported from the world of
        the interpreter.

        It is actually quite hard to keep reminding oneself
        to go back to the 1st century when reading these texts

        David M.




        ---------
        David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


        --
        The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
        Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
      • Matson, Mark (Academic)
        David Mealand wrote: Not too sure about some of the points made in this exchange Isn t Mark s second feeding set in the Decapolis? (i.e. mainly Gentile
        Message 3 of 14 , May 19, 2012
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          David Mealand wrote:

          Not too sure about some of the points made
          in this exchange

          Isn't Mark's second feeding set in the Decapolis?
          (i.e. mainly Gentile territory containing Greek cities,
          and pro-Roman in outlook, separated off from Hasmonean
          domains by Pompey, and again later by Augustus after
          Herod's death).

          Mark: Yes, possibly. Mark certainly has Jesus going to Gentile area. And if the feeding of 4000 is logically following the geographical itinerary preceding (i.e. Mark 7:31-37) which goes through region of Decapolis, yes. But then Mark is not always careful. But this is very likely. And hence a good reason for Luke to exclude.

          Wasn't the main charge laid against Samaritans
          one of ethnicity, that their ancestors had
          inter-married with non-Israelites - they didn't
          originally belong to Judah, and orthodoxy and heresy
          are alien categories imported from the world of
          the interpreter.

          Mark: I am not as sure of the idea of considering Samaritans as "gentiles". That was certainly one aspect maintained by Judeans. But for instance if we follow the internal logic of, say, John 4 -- there is the idea of "cousins" more than outsiders. Jesus maintains that Judeans are the proper form of Yahweh religion (not Gerizim), and yet the tone is of insiders. Similarly in the logical expansion of Acts, Phillips evangelization in Samaria is not the same as Peter's later "full-blown" engagement with Cornelius (now full engagement with Gentiles).

          Mark A. Matson
          Milligan College
          http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
        • ernestpennells
          I can t resist this discussion. Whereas the mission of seventy(two) taken as a symbol of Gentile mission makes it a retrospective issue from a later era, the
          Message 4 of 14 , May 19, 2012
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            I can't resist this discussion.
            Whereas the mission of seventy(two) taken as a symbol of Gentile mission makes it a retrospective issue from a later era, the option of accepting it as referring to the number of the Sanhedrin gives it direct relevance to Jesus and his disciples. They were, after all, heading for Jerusalem, and Luke lays heavy emphasis upon this throughout his journeying motif.

            Ernie Pennells
            Victoria BC
          • Matson, Mark (Academic)
            Ernie: As I understand it, the reason that the mission of the 70/72 is taken as anticipating a Gentile mission comes from the symbolism of number 72.... so the
            Message 5 of 14 , May 20, 2012
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              Ernie:

              As I understand it, the reason that the mission of the 70/72 is taken as anticipating a Gentile mission comes from the symbolism of number 72.... so the number of nations in Gen. 10 is 72, and in 3 Enoch the number of princes of the world and languages is 72. So this number would refer to the larger gentile world. But, as I allueded to in a former post, this Gentile reference is future, it is anticipation, since in Luke's narrative construction, Jesus deliberately does not go into Gentile territory -- that awaits the coming of the Spirit and the work of the church in Acts (progressive movement, first to Samarians and then to Gentiles).

              If I understand your point, though, you maintain this would refer to the Sanhedrin. I certainly agree that the central narrative scheme from 9:51 on is the journey to Jerusalem. And whatever symbolism is in the 70/72 it is not made clear in the narrative, and your connecting it to Jerusalem is potentially attractive. But I have two concerns:

              1. The Great Sanhedrin in rabbinic literature is 71, not 70 or 72, I think. That is a pretty specific number.

              2. The Great Sanhedrin itself is a pretty narrowly specific concept that might never have actually existed. At any rate, the actual assembly of Jewish leaders (synedrion is only found once in Luke at 22:66, and is actually a downplayed theme in Luke ..notice that downgrades the nighttime trial to an informal hearing: Luke has no parallel to Mk 14:55) would seem to be only smaller group.

              So while this is tempting, I wonder if this would really be seen as the reference in Luke 10?

              Mark A. Matson
              Milligan College
              http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
              ________________________________________
              Ernie Pennels wrote:

              I can't resist this discussion.
              Whereas the mission of seventy(two) taken as a symbol of Gentile mission makes it a retrospective issue from a later era, the option of accepting it as referring to the number of the Sanhedrin gives it direct relevance to Jesus and his disciples. They were, after all, heading for Jerusalem, and Luke lays heavy emphasis upon this throughout his journeying motif.
              -------------------------------------------------------------
            • ernestpennells
              Thank you, Mark. I find the conclusion that seventy is a symbolic reference to Gentiles unconvincing. Unpacking the symbolism: Seventy elders accompanied
              Message 6 of 14 , May 20, 2012
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                Thank you, Mark. I find the conclusion that seventy is a symbolic reference to Gentiles unconvincing.

                Unpacking the symbolism:

                Seventy elders accompanied Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24.1,9).

                Sinai was promptly followed by failure with the golden calf. Transfiguration was promptly followed by the disciples' failure with a convulsive boy. Jesus' protest echoes Moses' protest (Num. 11.11). "What an unbelieving and perverse generation!" (Lk. 9.41).

                Jesus' appointment of seventy echoes the appointment of seventy elders to share the spirit bestowed on Moses (Num 11.16,24f.). Luke gives an ecstatic account of their mission (they shared the spirit of their Lord).

                These links with Sinai are compelling.

                Luke says that Moses and Elijah talked about Jesus' destiny in Jerusalem (Lk. 9.31).

                Emphasis: "Jesus set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem" (Lk. 9.51), with recurrent reminders en route (Lk. 9.53; 13.32f; 17.11; 18.31ff; 19.11,28).

                En route Jesus laments: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... ... your house is forsaken." (Lk.13.34f)

                Upon setting foot in the Roman Province of Judaea, Jesus befriends Zacchaeus (an Agent of the Roman Governor). Jesus had previously silenced Peter's declaration of Messiah (Lk. 9.21). Ergo: this march on Jerusalem is not a march against Roman occupation.

                Soon after arriving in Jerusalem Jesus publicly denounces the temple authorities as wicked husbandmen. They recognised his parable as directed against them (Lk. 20.19).

                Moses – Sinai – seventy, and a heavy emphasis on target Jerusalem to denounce the presiding priesthood all say rulers (Sanhedrin) to me.

                There are numerous references to ruling councils and representative bodies in ancient texts: War, Ant, Life, mSanh, tSuk, Boule, M.Hag, mZeb, mYad, Zebahim, Yadaim. The specific number varies (70,71,72).

                Ernie
              • Matson, Mark (Academic)
                Thanks Ernie for the great response. I don t know if I find the gentile symbolism all that much either... what I was citing was the commonly cited reasons
                Message 7 of 14 , May 20, 2012
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                  Thanks Ernie for the great response. I don't know if I find the "gentile" symbolism all that much either... what I was citing was the "commonly cited" reasons for seeing it as that reference.

                  I am still not personally convinced, though, that 70/72 refers to the Sanhedrin, despite some variation in numbers in earlier sources. It just doesn't fit with the size of the council imagined in the gospels (which might well have been ad hoc groups anyway).

                  But I am intrigued by your references to the Sinai traditions... hadn't thought about that. That would be a reasonable intertextual reference / allusion that would fit with Luke.

                  mark
                  Mark A. Matson
                  Milligan College
                  http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm
                  ________________________________________
                  Ernest Pennells wrote:

                  Thank you, Mark. I find the conclusion that seventy is a symbolic reference to Gentiles unconvincing.

                  Unpacking the symbolism:

                  Seventy elders accompanied Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24.1,9).

                  Sinai was promptly followed by failure with the golden calf. Transfiguration was promptly followed by the disciples' failure with a convulsive boy. Jesus' protest echoes Moses' protest (Num. 11.11). "What an unbelieving and perverse generation!" (Lk. 9.41).

                  Jesus' appointment of seventy echoes the appointment of seventy elders to share the spirit bestowed on Moses (Num 11.16,24f.). Luke gives an ecstatic account of their mission (they shared the spirit of their Lord).

                  These links with Sinai are compelling.

                  Luke says that Moses and Elijah talked about Jesus' destiny in Jerusalem (Lk. 9.31).

                  Emphasis: "Jesus set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem" (Lk. 9.51), with recurrent reminders en route (Lk. 9.53; 13.32f; 17.11; 18.31ff; 19.11,28).

                  En route Jesus laments: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... ... your house is forsaken." (Lk.13.34f)

                  Upon setting foot in the Roman Province of Judaea, Jesus befriends Zacchaeus (an Agent of the Roman Governor). Jesus had previously silenced Peter's declaration of Messiah (Lk. 9.21). Ergo: this march on Jerusalem is not a march against Roman occupation.

                  Soon after arriving in Jerusalem Jesus publicly denounces the temple authorities as wicked husbandmen. They recognised his parable as directed against them (Lk. 20.19).

                  Moses – Sinai – seventy, and a heavy emphasis on target Jerusalem to denounce the presiding priesthood all say rulers (Sanhedrin) to me.

                  There are numerous references to ruling councils and representative bodies in ancient texts: War, Ant, Life, mSanh, tSuk, Boule, M.Hag, mZeb, mYad, Zebahim, Yadaim. The specific number varies (70,71,72).
                • ernestpennells
                  On the numbers game: Luke and Sinai traditions consistently mention seventy. However, when Moses and the seventy present themselves at the Tabernacle, they
                  Message 8 of 14 , May 21, 2012
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                    On the numbers game:

                    Luke and Sinai traditions consistently mention seventy. However, when Moses and the seventy present themselves at the Tabernacle, they total seventy-one. Likewise, Jesus plus his seventy. Josephus also mentions provision for alleged miscreants to be brought before him and seventy he appointed.

                    The question arises as to whether the number cited in other ancient texts includes or excludes the HP or other figurehead.

                    The seventy(-two) variant arises from a different number count in LXX and MT of the list of nations in Genesis. The number is not actually stated there.

                    Seventy-two is a multiple of twelve, possibly suggesting even handed treatment in a tribal society.

                    Should we expect mathematical precision in ancient texts? (Or modern ones, come to that).

                    Ernie Pennells
                    Victoria BC
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