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Alpha Christianity Planning Session at SBL (19 Nov)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, Alpha On: Alpha Christianity Planning Session at SBL (19 Nov) From: Bruce Over the last century or so, there has been widespread
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 11, 2012
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      To: Synoptic
      Cc: GPG, Alpha
      On: Alpha Christianity Planning Session at SBL (19 Nov)
      From: Bruce

      Over the last century or so, there has been widespread interest, both lay
      and clerical, in what I might call a less Pauline Christianity. At present,
      as far as I know, there are three principal suggestions that such a
      Christianity existed, and can be accessed by modern persons. All three are
      being given space at the coming SBL. My purpose in this note is to call
      attention to these occasions, perhaps especially the third.

      1. One supposed representative of a non-Resurrection Christianity is the
      fictive document Q (excogitated in 1833, and defined as passages common to
      Mt/Lk but absent in Mk). This is especially apparent in the Kloppenborg
      stratification of 1987 ("The Formation of Q"), in which the "sapiential"
      passages, the ones more readily attributed to a Cynic Sage Jesus, are
      privileged as Q1: the earliest, and thus presumptively most authentic, of
      three strata. A panel considering this book and its implications, S17-332,
      is scheduled for one of the Q meetings (4-6:30 PM, Saturday 17 Nov, in
      McCormick Place North, Room 427A). There are also other Q meetings.

      2. Another possible representative is the also non-Resurrection Gospel of
      Thomas, the full Coptic version of which was discovered in 1945 and
      immediately became popular with the large reading public. Interest, both
      popular and scholarly, still continues. There seems to be no Thomas section
      at SBL, though there are papers on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and other
      relevant texts on other panels, and two successive meetings of the Nag
      Hammadi and Gnosticism section, on Sunday 17 Nov, at 9 and again at 1:30,
      both, conveniently enough, in the same room: McCormick Place West 194A.

      3. A cluster of texts, to which I may be the first to have called attention
      as such, also do not preach or recognize the Resurrection, and all have
      features that tend to identify them as early. The Two Ways, the Didache with
      which one variant of the Two Ways was later combined, the hymn embedded in
      Philippians 2, and the canonical Epistle of James are the most obvious.
      Similar early tendencies are visible (though some philological work of
      restoration is required) in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, in the later
      composite tract 1 John, and in some of the post-Pauline material, including
      ameliorative interpolations in Romans, 1 Cor, Galatians, and other genuine
      epistles. This Alpha Christianity (to use my term for it) persisted and was
      textually active at least until the 4th century, some of its literary
      products being the pseudo-Clementine literature. There will be a planning
      meeting of the Alpha Christianity group at SBL, M19-5, from 8 to 8:50 AM on
      Monday 19 Nov, at McCormick South room 102D. As is said in the notice of the
      meeting (SBL program book p363), it is expected that the Didache and the
      stratification of Mark may come up, but the chief point of the face time is
      to see what research directions (whether these or others) might be
      profitable, and perhaps to find people interested in following up some of
      those directions. To repeat the information in the Program Book, the basic
      Alpha Christianity page (by way of background information) is at

      http://www.umass.edu/wsp/alpha/index.html

      Not every page linked from that index is there, and not every page that IS
      there is up to date in all details. My apologies, but this is what research
      in progress tends to look like: the time needed to codify it takes away from
      the time needed to do it.

      ----------

      Help with that research, whether arranged at the abovementioned meeting or
      otherwise, is always welcome, and I repeat that a publication medium

      http://www.umass.edu/wsp/journal/index.html

      is available for promising results of reasonable brevity. As will there
      appear, v1 is out, and v2 is in the advanced stages of editing, and should
      appear in early 2013. I may add that v1 will be on sale at a special
      discount at the Scholars Choice booth in the SBL/AAR booksale, where library
      and individual orders may be placed. A flyer accompanying the display copy
      of v1 conveniently pulls out the items of general methodological and
      specific NT interest (these have also been indexed in New Testament
      Abstracts). Sinological stuff predominates in the journal; that is the
      disciplinary locus of the sponsoring institution. But comparative studies,
      signaled in the journal's subtitle, are also genuinely important to the
      management, and I may say (speaking now from one of the three editorial
      chairs, and thus with some confidence) that even more space will be devoted
      to NT subjects, both canonical and other, in v2 and subsequent volumes.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • Ronald Price
      ... Bruce, Since Q (as normally reconstructed) never existed, and GTh was dependent on the synoptic gospels, we do indeed need to look at a third option if we
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > Over the last century or so, there has been widespread interest, both lay
        > and clerical, in what I might call a less Pauline Christianity. At present,
        > as far as I know, there are three principal suggestions that such a
        > Christianity existed, and can be accessed by modern persons.
        > ..... 1. ... the fictive document Q
        > ..... 2. ... the also non-Resurrection Gospel of Thomas,
        > ..... 3. ... A cluster of [early] texts [representing] ... Alpha Christianity
        > (to use my term for it) ...

        Bruce,

        Since Q (as normally reconstructed) never existed, and GTh was dependent on
        the synoptic gospels, we do indeed need to look at a third option if we are
        to explain the New Testament hints at an early non-resurrection Jesus
        movement.

        However I fear you are going in the wrong direction for at least two
        reasons. Firstly Michael Goulder was already closer to the truth when he
        wrote: "... Petrine Christianity could never have been more than a
        short-lived sect of Judaism" ("A Tale of Two Missions", p.185). I differ
        from him here only in his terminology. It was a sect led by James, and it
        was far removed from Christianity as we know it. Secondly in your zeal to
        find evidence of what I would prefer to call "the early Jesus movement", you
        go too far. From the very beginning, control of the copying of documents
        which came to be part of the New Testament was in the hands of (Pauline)
        Christians and their successors. James, Peter and their followers had no
        influence whatever on the transmission of the NT texts. Even interpolations
        aimed at rehabilitating Peter would not have been approved by the historical
        Peter, for they were only rehabilitating an image of Peter which suited
        (Pauline) Christians.

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Chuck Jones
        Bruce, Q is not fictive.  It is non-exstant.  The consistent bias of your language isn t worthy of scholarly dialogue.  J and P are not fictive sources for
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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          Bruce,

          Q is not fictive.  It is non-exstant.  The consistent bias of your language isn't worthy of scholarly dialogue.  J and P are not fictive sources for the flood narrative, they are sources for which the evidence is found in the document Genesis itself.  But you know this stuff.  You just choose to ignore it.

          (the historical) Jeez,

          Chuck Jones
          Atlanta, Georgia


          ________________________________
          From: Ronald Price <ron-price@...>
          To: Synoptic-L <Synoptic@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 6:32 AM
          Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Alpha Christianity Planning Session at SBL (19 Nov)


           
          Bruce Brooks wrote:

          > Over the last century or so, there has been widespread interest, both lay
          > and clerical, in what I might call a less Pauline Christianity. At present,
          > as far as I know, there are three principal suggestions that such a
          > Christianity existed, and can be accessed by modern persons.
          > ..... 1. ... the fictive document Q
          > ..... 2. ... the also non-Resurrection Gospel of Thomas,
          > ..... 3. ... A cluster of [early] texts [representing] ... Alpha Christianity
          > (to use my term for it) ...

          Bruce,

          Since Q (as normally reconstructed) never existed, and GTh was dependent on
          the synoptic gospels, we do indeed need to look at a third option if we are
          to explain the New Testament hints at an early non-resurrection Jesus
          movement.

          However I fear you are going in the wrong direction for at least two
          reasons. Firstly Michael Goulder was already closer to the truth when he
          wrote: "... Petrine Christianity could never have been more than a
          short-lived sect of Judaism" ("A Tale of Two Missions", p.185). I differ
          from him here only in his terminology. It was a sect led by James, and it
          was far removed from Christianity as we know it. Secondly in your zeal to
          find evidence of what I would prefer to call "the early Jesus movement", you
          go too far. From the very beginning, control of the copying of documents
          which came to be part of the New Testament was in the hands of (Pauline)
          Christians and their successors. James, Peter and their followers had no
          influence whatever on the transmission of the NT texts. Even interpolations
          aimed at rehabilitating Peter would not have been approved by the historical
          Peter, for they were only rehabilitating an image of Peter which suited
          (Pauline) Christians.

          Ron Price,

          Derbyshire, UK

          http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Chuck Jones On: Q and Thomas From: Bruce Chuck Jones, though he seems not to be concerned over my view of Thomas as largely
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Chuck Jones
            On: Q and Thomas
            From: Bruce

            Chuck Jones, though he seems not to be concerned over my view of Thomas as
            largely post-Synoptic, has taken exception to my characterization (as
            "fictive") of another candidate for an early Christian witness, namely Q.
            Permit me to take exception to the exception.

            Chuck: Q is not fictive. It is non-exstant.

            Bruce: "Non-extant" would correctly describe a source for which we have
            evidence, but which happens not to have survived. Thus, the existence of the
            Didache was known long before a copy turned up; when it did turn up, it was
            recognized as a known but previously non-extant text. It is now extant. But
            there is no evidence of any kind, not only no physical evidence, but also no
            reference in early writings, to anything which can be identified with Q. To
            call Q "non-extant" thus reifies Q beyond what the evidence (in this case,
            the complete absence of evidence) will properly warrant.

            Q is simply a scholarly inference, going back to 1838, from certain
            distributional facts about Matthew and Luke. Reconstructions of Q (of which
            there have been at least two dozen over the past century, no two identical)
            are conjectures based on those facts. They are constructs. I believe the
            normal meaning of "fictive" (from the verb for "make") will cover this
            situation. Q is an artifact: a modern scholarly construct based on a modern
            scholarly inference. The modern inference can be challenged, and the facts
            on which the modern inference is based can be otherwise explained, as
            witness Goulder among others. Those who do this, Goulder and the rest, are
            not denying a fact; they are challenging a construct, by supplying an
            alternate scenario.

            Chuck: The consistent bias of your language isn't worthy of scholarly
            dialogue..

            Bruce: The word "bias" implies, indeed indicts, a predisposition not based
            on evidence. The accusation fails in my case, and the word is not
            appropriate. My own view of Q is not based on any predisposition. It is
            based on careful study of the claimed evidence for Q (including doublets),
            and of other possible readings of that evidence. Whether or not I am in
            error in my own reading of that evidence, my conclusion comes from
            examination of the evidence. Chuck's accusation that I have reached my
            position by another route is wrong in fact, and discourteous in context.

            The accusation of "bias" is very common, as everyone on this list will be
            aware, for opinions to which someone is warmly opposed. To take another
            firsthand case, I have consistently taken the position, in material posted
            to this and similar lists, that Mark is prior to Luke, and that Luke is
            literarily indebted to Mark. This again is not a childhood fantasy or an
            unreasoning preference; it is a conclusion from the evidence, a conclusion
            in which I happen to coincide with many reputable people. (As far as that
            goes, there are some people who have their doubts about Q, though it might
            be impolitic to collectively stigmatize them as "biased," since the managers
            of this list include at least one of them). The upcoming SBL will have at
            least two panels on other views of the Mark/Luke relation, so it may be said
            that unanimity as to the conclusion to be drawn from the Mark/Luke evidence
            does not exist. This, however, does not reduce all views of Mark to "bias."
            My own view, to which I feel entitled by reason of prior investigation, used
            to be stigmatized as "biased" by my old friend Leonard Maluf, who for more
            than ten years regularly asserted that Markan Priority, by whomever held,
            was simply a result of bias. That accusation too is without foundation.
            Those who hold Markan Priority have their reasons for doing so, reasons
            which cannot properly be classed as "bias."

            As for my "consistency," which Chuck also wishes to make a fault, the
            evidence in both the Mark and Q cases is very much now what it was last
            Tuesday, and I ask to be excused for taking the same view of that evidence
            as I did last Tuesday.

            As Chuck will remember, with or without consulting the list archive, I have
            on several occasions not only confessed to a lack of faith in Q, but have
            given reasons in support of my alternate construal of the Mt/Lk situation;
            my proposal involves a three-stage formation process for Luke. Again, I may
            be wrong (though I don't recall that anyone else has offered a satisfactory
            account of the gross inconcinnity in the position of the Nazareth episode in
            Luke), but these proposals alone should have hinted to Chuck that my
            conclusion about Q rests on study, and not on something else.

            My position on Q, and in particular on my alternative way of accounting for
            the facts that have led some to posit (sic) a Q, has evolved since about
            2006, most stages of that evolution being in some form visible not only to
            this list, but to anyone who consistently attends local and national
            meetings of SBL. The reliance on evidence at all points in this sequence, I
            should think, is manifest, and that alone should prevent a charge of "bias"
            from arising.

            In view of all this, which I should not have needed to rehearse, I will
            appreciate Chuck's restatement of the position.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
          • Chuck Jones
            Bruce, I believe despite the word count of your post, you did not address J and P. I invite you to do that. Chuck Jones Atlanta, Georgia Sent from my iPhone
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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              Bruce,

              I believe despite the word count of your post, you did not address J and P.

              I invite you to do that.

              Chuck Jones
              Atlanta, Georgia

              Sent from my iPhone

              On Nov 12, 2012, at 11:36 AM, "E Bruce Brooks" <brooks@...> wrote:

              > To: Synoptic
              > In Response To: Chuck Jones
              > On: Q and Thomas
              > From: Bruce
              >
              > Chuck Jones, though he seems not to be concerned over my view of Thomas as
              > largely post-Synoptic, has taken exception to my characterization (as
              > "fictive") of another candidate for an early Christian witness, namely Q.
              > Permit me to take exception to the exception.
              >
              > Chuck: Q is not fictive. It is non-exstant.
              >
              > Bruce: "Non-extant" would correctly describe a source for which we have
              > evidence, but which happens not to have survived. Thus, the existence of the
              > Didache was known long before a copy turned up; when it did turn up, it was
              > recognized as a known but previously non-extant text. It is now extant. But
              > there is no evidence of any kind, not only no physical evidence, but also no
              > reference in early writings, to anything which can be identified with Q. To
              > call Q "non-extant" thus reifies Q beyond what the evidence (in this case,
              > the complete absence of evidence) will properly warrant.
              >
              > Q is simply a scholarly inference, going back to 1838, from certain
              > distributional facts about Matthew and Luke. Reconstructions of Q (of which
              > there have been at least two dozen over the past century, no two identical)
              > are conjectures based on those facts. They are constructs. I believe the
              > normal meaning of "fictive" (from the verb for "make") will cover this
              > situation. Q is an artifact: a modern scholarly construct based on a modern
              > scholarly inference. The modern inference can be challenged, and the facts
              > on which the modern inference is based can be otherwise explained, as
              > witness Goulder among others. Those who do this, Goulder and the rest, are
              > not denying a fact; they are challenging a construct, by supplying an
              > alternate scenario.
              >
              > Chuck: The consistent bias of your language isn't worthy of scholarly
              > dialogue..
              >
              > Bruce: The word "bias" implies, indeed indicts, a predisposition not based
              > on evidence. The accusation fails in my case, and the word is not
              > appropriate. My own view of Q is not based on any predisposition. It is
              > based on careful study of the claimed evidence for Q (including doublets),
              > and of other possible readings of that evidence. Whether or not I am in
              > error in my own reading of that evidence, my conclusion comes from
              > examination of the evidence. Chuck's accusation that I have reached my
              > position by another route is wrong in fact, and discourteous in context.
              >
              > The accusation of "bias" is very common, as everyone on this list will be
              > aware, for opinions to which someone is warmly opposed. To take another
              > firsthand case, I have consistently taken the position, in material posted
              > to this and similar lists, that Mark is prior to Luke, and that Luke is
              > literarily indebted to Mark. This again is not a childhood fantasy or an
              > unreasoning preference; it is a conclusion from the evidence, a conclusion
              > in which I happen to coincide with many reputable people. (As far as that
              > goes, there are some people who have their doubts about Q, though it might
              > be impolitic to collectively stigmatize them as "biased," since the managers
              > of this list include at least one of them). The upcoming SBL will have at
              > least two panels on other views of the Mark/Luke relation, so it may be said
              > that unanimity as to the conclusion to be drawn from the Mark/Luke evidence
              > does not exist. This, however, does not reduce all views of Mark to "bias."
              > My own view, to which I feel entitled by reason of prior investigation, used
              > to be stigmatized as "biased" by my old friend Leonard Maluf, who for more
              > than ten years regularly asserted that Markan Priority, by whomever held,
              > was simply a result of bias. That accusation too is without foundation.
              > Those who hold Markan Priority have their reasons for doing so, reasons
              > which cannot properly be classed as "bias."
              >
              > As for my "consistency," which Chuck also wishes to make a fault, the
              > evidence in both the Mark and Q cases is very much now what it was last
              > Tuesday, and I ask to be excused for taking the same view of that evidence
              > as I did last Tuesday.
              >
              > As Chuck will remember, with or without consulting the list archive, I have
              > on several occasions not only confessed to a lack of faith in Q, but have
              > given reasons in support of my alternate construal of the Mt/Lk situation;
              > my proposal involves a three-stage formation process for Luke. Again, I may
              > be wrong (though I don't recall that anyone else has offered a satisfactory
              > account of the gross inconcinnity in the position of the Nazareth episode in
              > Luke), but these proposals alone should have hinted to Chuck that my
              > conclusion about Q rests on study, and not on something else.
              >
              > My position on Q, and in particular on my alternative way of accounting for
              > the facts that have led some to posit (sic) a Q, has evolved since about
              > 2006, most stages of that evolution being in some form visible not only to
              > this list, but to anyone who consistently attends local and national
              > meetings of SBL. The reliance on evidence at all points in this sequence, I
              > should think, is manifest, and that alone should prevent a charge of "bias"
              > from arising.
              >
              > In view of all this, which I should not have needed to rehearse, I will
              > appreciate Chuck's restatement of the position.
              >
              > 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: Synoptic In Response To: Ron Price On: Q Etc From: Bruce Another response to my recent summary of the position with regard to potential witnesses to a
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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                To: Synoptic
                In Response To: Ron Price
                On: Q Etc
                From: Bruce

                Another response to my recent summary of the position with regard to
                potential witnesses to a pre-Resurrection Christian belief and practice.

                Ron: Since Q (as normally reconstructed) never existed,

                Bruce: Careful, Ron, or Chuck Jones will be after you.

                Ron: and GTh was dependent on the synoptic gospels,

                Bruce: At least in part, as I believe has been satisfactorily demonstrated.
                I reserve the possibility that a different directionality may obtain for a
                limited part of the Thomas material, which would keep the present question
                at least partly open.

                Ron: . . . we do indeed need to look at a third option if we are to explain
                the New Testament hints at an early non-resurrection Jesus movement.

                Bruce: Or more.

                Ron: However I fear you are going in the wrong direction for at least two
                reasons. Firstly Michael Goulder was already closer to the truth when he
                wrote: "... Petrine Christianity could never have been more than a
                short-lived sect of Judaism" ("A Tale of Two Missions", p.185). I differ
                from him here only in his terminology. It was a sect led by James, and it
                was far removed from Christianity as we know it.

                Bruce: I regret not being able to follow Michael in this book. For one
                thing, I think his view is too dualistic; Paul, to hear Paul himself tell
                it, had more than one opposing faction at Corinth and elsewhere (eg,
                Apollos, and not the curious treatment of Apollos in Acts). As for "James,"
                which James? The Gnostic James whom we meet in three of the Nag Hammadi
                tracts? The James of Zebedee, evidently a lax person, who in the Jerusalem
                meeting accepted Paul's nonobservance of Jewish food piety rules? Or the
                James of Alphaeus who, in my view, is the most likely author of the
                canonical Epistle of James? More work seems to be needed here.

                As for Peter, he is surely the most obscure of all the major players, and
                that itself is passing strange. The two canonical Epistles co-opt him into
                at least two things: (1) belief in Beta Christianity, which merely on the
                evidence of Paul (not to mention the PseudoClementines, though there is that
                as well) he is unlikely to have held, and (2) close association with Rome.
                The Roman myth, to take only that, has many forms, including the myth that
                Paul escaped his first captivity there, and continued to preach, whether in
                Spain or in Greece (the myths here telling more than one story). This is the
                false tradition. Does a true one underlie it at any point? Not yet
                investigated with sufficient rigor and persistence. We do not know.

                Ron: Secondly in your zeal to find evidence of what I would prefer to call
                "the early Jesus movement", you go too far. From the very beginning, control
                of the copying of documents which came to be part of the New Testament was
                in the hands of (Pauline) Christians and their successors.

                Bruce: Proof? My impression is that a circular letter like that of James (or
                the later 1 Peter) was from the beginning circulated to Christians at large,
                in more than one copy. 1 Peter is plausible as a Pauline composition, but
                surely not James, which openly ridicules the position of Paul in Romans, on
                faith vs works as salvific. The letters of Paul himself (but perhaps
                significantly, only the ones from the last few years of his life) were
                probably edited by some member of his group, for immediate wider
                circulation; Romans (as witness the variant endings, of which some account
                surely needs to be taken in these discussions) may have been meant by Paul
                himself to be, not merely a one-church letter, but one copied ab initio to
                multiple addresses; we happen to have that letter as adapted to be sent to
                Ephesus. In other words, it seems that the texts were gathered at more than
                one location, approved (with or without doctrinal reprocessing), and sent
                out as generally authoritative documents.

                What I see in the generation or two after Paul is not the formation of our
                NT canon, but many attempts to replace the voice of the Apostles with the
                witness of fixed documents: newly created or newly assembled authority
                texts. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are, in my view, only one aspect of
                this rush to textualization.

                Not all these people were Pauline, and not all the Paulines need to have
                been operating at the same time and place. Consider for example the
                Johannine Epistles. I think Ron is simplifying the situation.

                Ron: James, Peter and their followers had no influence whatever on the
                transmission of the NT texts.

                Bruce: The Apostles are by definition Apostolic, and I at least see the
                process of textualization as greatly stimulated by the end of the Apostolic
                period. Did Peter have a following, a tradition of his own? One way to ask
                that question is to examine the whole of the supposed Petrine corpus
                (conveniently collected by Lapham) for ideas common to that corpus, or most
                of it, but unknown or less common outside. Lapham has suggested a few
                motifs; I have found one or two more. What to make of them is a subject that
                seems to have conspicuously lacked followup. I mention it here merely to
                invite followup.

                This is one way to examine the proposition that Peter (for one) had no
                influence on the transmission of the NT texts. I agree that he probably
                wrote none of them, and edited still fewer. But did he have input into any
                of them? A claim often encountered is that the Jesus material in Mark comes
                from Peter; that claim may indeed have been one reason for retaining the
                otherwise obsolete Mark (obsoleted by the rapid post-Apostolic appearance of
                Mt and Lk) in the eventual Canon. Has the claim been examined? My own brief
                investigation suggests that the idea that Mark listened to Peter in Rome is
                merely part of the Roman myth abovementioned, and should be rejected. Not
                seriously examined as far as I know, but possibly having something to it, is
                the alternate possibility that Mark listened to Peter not in Rome but in his
                mother's house in Jerusalem, where (if Luke is not telling a complete lie)
                Peter once went to take refuge in a moment of danger. Then Peter knew the
                address, and on at least one reported occasion went to it. Is there material
                in Mark which can reasonably be construed as owing to the verbal report of
                Peter, made in person to Mark in Jerusalem? Yes, there is, and I have done a
                paper on it. More may exist. But until Mark is combed for such
                possibilities, we have no idea whether Peter was in fact a major source for
                Mark. Such is the undone work attending this subject. (Or if in fact it has
                been done, I would more than usually appreciate a reference to the place
                where the results may be found).

                Pending this and other seemingly scanted researches, I feel that any final
                conclusion about the role of Peter, not in disseminating the NT canon (which
                in any case was still in a fluid condition in the 4c), but in leaving an
                imprint on it, may be somewhat premature.

                Ron: Even interpolations aimed at rehabilitating Peter would not have been
                approved by the historical Peter, for they were only rehabilitating an image
                of Peter which suited (Pauline) Christians.

                Bruce: I think Ron is equating what I call Alpha Christianity with "Petrine
                Christianity," and I do not accept that equation.

                But to take the proposal as it stands: That the Historical Peter was still
                alive when these interpolations were being made in the postApostolic period
                is intrinsically unlikely. It is at least equally unlikely that, had Peter
                been around, the doings of the Pauline editorial team would have been
                submitted to him for approval. In any case, what would be an example of an
                interpolation aimed at rehabilitating Peter? Offhand, I can think of none.
                What I do find are a whole slew of interpolations in the Pauline corpus,
                probably inserted at the time the corpus was first gathered, most likely
                already in the late 60's, which are designed to take the heat out of Paul's
                extreme opposition to what I call the Alpha Christians in the churches of
                his time, and to moderate not only the tone, but the substance, of the
                debate which we can see in Paul's own writings, which are nothing if not
                consistently vehement (Anathema, indeed), and to substitute something more
                irenic and lovable - something the future church could more easily live
                with, a basis for amicable coexistence. One of the most obvious of those
                interpolations (here as often, I rely on the very careful work of William O
                Walker Jr) is the "love" chapter of 1 Cor. With a little more work along
                these lines, preferably by Walker himself, we may have a clearer picture of
                just what was going on in the minds of Paul's first editors. That will be an
                enormous advantage in taking up question of canon (or subcanon) formation.
                At present, I cannot think that we stand on firm ground in this regard.

                I don't want to weary anyone, but the topic of interpolation in the sacred
                texts is never popular, and in our decade, perhaps less popular than in some
                others. Persons with a Pauline interpolation to argue for, and looking for a
                place to publish it, are respectfully reminded that the Project's journal,

                http://www.umass.edu/wsp/journal/index.html

                though perhaps for the moment slightly less prestigious than Novum
                Testamentum, does exist, and is taking contributions on this and kindred
                subjects. Prospective authors are welcome to contact me personally. In just
                a few more days, I will be cruising the far-flung halls of SBL, in vigorous
                search of promising papers. But I can't cover all the sessions, and
                prospective authors who wish to shortcut that necessarily imperfect
                discovery process may feel very free to do so.

                For starters, in case someone lacks a topic: Walker Interpolations p17 gives
                a list (by no means complete, but it will do to start) of passages in Romans
                which have been suspected, at one time or another, of being interpolated.
                Walker himself has published on exactly four of these: 1:18-2:29, 13:1-7
                (Haustafel; see the postPaulines for more examples), 16:25-27(the Doxology),
                and, following the publication of his book, 8:29-30.

                What about the rest? Here, surely, is a fine way to pass the time some
                weekend, when other diversions pall.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
              • David Inglis
                Recent references to Michael Goulder have led me to crystallize some thoughts regarding scholars that have gone before us. In particular, how much weight
                Message 7 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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                  Recent references to Michael Goulder have led me to crystallize some thoughts regarding scholars that have gone before
                  us. In particular, how much weight should we give to the opinions of the 'greats?' How, I have no hesitation in
                  accepting 'hard' evidence from anyone, e.g. details of particular variant readings in mss, quotes from the early church
                  fathers, or the like, but I start to get more wary regarding interpretations of what that evidence means, or comments
                  regarding what such and such scribe might have chosen to do, or what any of the authors (e.g. of the gospels) might have
                  been trying to achieve. Going back in time a bit, how much weight can we give to people who never knew the papyri that
                  are so important today (P46 and P75 immediately spring to mind)? Then, perhaps more relevant to today, how much has the
                  advent of computer-based analytical techniques allowed us to uncover information that was simply unknowable only a short
                  time ago? A contentious issue, I feel sure, but nevertheless I'd like to know what people think. I particularly like
                  this quote from Isaac Newton: "I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena,
                  and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called a hypothesis, and hypotheses,
                  whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy."



                  David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • E Bruce Brooks
                  To: Synoptic In Response To: David Inglis On: Greatness From: Bruce David raised several interesting questions of method. Herewith my first thoughts, if only
                  Message 8 of 8 , Nov 12, 2012
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                    To: Synoptic
                    In Response To: David Inglis
                    On: Greatness
                    From: Bruce

                    David raised several interesting questions of method. Herewith my first
                    thoughts, if only to encourage the thoughts of others.

                    David: Recent references to Michael Goulder have led me to crystallize some
                    thoughts regarding scholars that have gone before us. In particular, how
                    much weight should we give to the opinions of the 'greats?'

                    Bruce: Words like "great" should never be used of persons, in general
                    because it is overreaching (we all die sooner or later), and
                    methodologically because the word begs the argument. It is the argument, not
                    the person, that can carry conviction in a later age. Or in any age. The
                    Chinese have the habit of referring to Da Lishrjya Szma Chyen ("The Great
                    Historian Szma Chyen"). That adjective is virtually required in Chinese
                    academic discourse; it is something of a fixed Homeric epithet. The problem
                    is that it is in effect an argument from authority, not from evidence. Plus,
                    as it happens, that same venerated Szma Chyen turns out to have merely
                    messed up his father Szma Tan's history, dubious though that history already
                    was (the two together are more or less the Herodotus of China). For a
                    partial exposé, see our journal, Warring States Papers v1, p164-167:

                    http://www.umass.edu/wsp/journal/wsp1/index.html

                    Oops, that piece is not available for free download. Gotta buy the issue.
                    See the order page.

                    David: . . . Going back in time a bit, how much weight can we give to people
                    who never knew the papyri that are so important today (P46 and P75
                    immediately spring to mind)?

                    Bruce: I suppose it depends how relevant those papyri (or any other modern
                    discoveries) are to the matter in hand. Maxwell's Equations probably survive
                    P75 pretty well. But in general, all conclusions, even our own conclusions
                    of yesterday, are forever subject to revision in the light of new evidence,
                    or of continued examination of the old evidence. Moments ago, I resent to
                    our small Mencius study group a revised version of a paper on the chronology
                    of Mencius 2, written a few months back, but now with several changed dates,
                    based on closer inspection (by my colleague Taeko, not by me, but she and I
                    exchange working notes every couple of months) of the millennia-old
                    evidence. The old can be new when viewed afresh. It is surely part of the
                    job of scholarship to continually view the evidence afresh. Our former
                    selves, our selves of yesterday, are not "great" either. In any operative
                    sense.

                    David (quoting Newton): " . . . for whatever is not deduced from the
                    phenomena is to be called a hypothesis, and hypotheses, whether metaphysical
                    or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in
                    experimental philosophy."

                    Bruce: Newton is great if anybody is; he looms permanently large in the
                    history of science. (The usual trinity, for those who move in these areas,
                    is Archimedes, Newton, Gauss). But I think that a lesser being can still
                    quarrel with Newton's rejection of what he calls "hypotheses." (His dictum,
                    in Latin, was hypotheses non fingo; slightly contemptuous). Statistically
                    speaking, most of our decisions, including decisions about textual matters,
                    are made on the basis of incomplete evidence, or incomplete reflection. That
                    does not mean that no such decision is better than any other such decision;
                    it means that no decision is final. For that matter, last I heard, Newton's
                    system of gravitation has since been modified, to the advantage of its
                    practical and theoretical accuracy. Was it then only a hypothesis after all?
                    if so, it was a very valiant and long-sufficing one, and argues well for the
                    use of hypotheses, if framed in the light of evidence, and tested against
                    the light of other evidence.

                    The evidence is all we have, and our decisions of the moment are the best we
                    can make - today, this hour - of the evidence. If others can improve on our
                    insight, or our sense of what evidence is relevant, or for that matter on
                    our statistical toolkit, our tools of interpretation, so much the better.
                    No? Not better for us, maybe, but better for the subject, and the subject is
                    what counts.

                    Bruce

                    E Bruce Brooks
                    Warring States Project
                    University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                    PS: For those interested in the concept of greatness, I might venture to
                    recommend C P Snow's collection of profiles, called Variety of Men. Those
                    considered (with technical as well as literary insight; Snow inhabited both
                    of his Two Cultures) are mostly scientists, but also political and literary
                    personages. Snow seems somewhat to agree with my thought, above, that
                    greatness is not exactly a question of who was right, not even morally
                    right, but who looms large on the subsequent human scene. Orwell on Gandhi
                    is pretty good too, if one wants a followup.

                    Poor pitiful human creatures anyway. But some of them have their moments.

                    Chinggis Kaqan (Genghis Khan to many). There is a tune called The Marching
                    Song of Chinggis Kaqan. I used to play it on the flute, at parties in my
                    graduate days. There were those (not all of them Central Asians, either) who
                    responded to it.

                    Answers, schmansers. To me, the durably great are those with the rare gift
                    for asking the right questions. Or even asking that the right questions be
                    asked. Clemenceau: De quoi s'agit-il?
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