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Re: [Synoptic-L] The Canny Steward (Lk 16:1-13)

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  • Chuck Jones
    Bruce, I have read the Landry-May article Stephen Carlson refered to yesterday and am quite persuaded by it. The honor/shame interpretation of the parable is
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 28, 2006
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      Bruce,

      I have read the Landry-May article Stephen Carlson refered to yesterday and am quite persuaded by it. The honor/shame interpretation of the parable is far and away the most sensible and elegant I've ever read. So, here are a couple of thoughts related to other aspects of my post and your response.

      First, I possibly should have mentioned that the two Thomas passages I cited are two of a very small number (3 or 4?) of exclusively Th passages considered by the JS to be authentic. (Another is the aphorism, "Be passersby.") I agree with your overall comments about the relative value of Th for understanding Jesus.

      Second, in the paragraphs from you I've left snipped below, you and I end up at the same place--or rather you do a very good job of articulating what I was trying to get at in my post, even if some of my specific examples may have fallen short. And you make an additional point with which I heartily concur---that Jesus' lifestyle was far from "Sunday School" behavior. He was a scandalous and shocking guy.

      thanks,

      Chuck

      Rev. Chuck Jones
      Atlanta, Georgia


      BRUCE: As for the commercial setting of many of the parables, I should think
      that the point of a parable is to compare something that is hard to
      understand (say, the Kingdom) with something that the hearer already
      understands (as it might be, the growing of mustard plants or the herding of
      wayward sheep or catching of elusive fish or the management of a large
      farm). The tone of many of these parables, as it seems to me, is, "You know
      how to interpret the weather omens in the sky, and how to deal with your
      employees, but you don't extend that understanding to reading the portents
      of the Kingdom, or the management of your spiritual resources, which is all
      that you will have when the Kingdom comes."

      The message of these comparisons is not to go out and behave like the
      comparand (as, to buy a boat or a farm or a tax franchise), but to transfer
      your understanding of it to the new thing being discussed.

      Beyond that, it seems to be the witness of the whole Synoptic record that,
      unlike the ascetics of which John the Baptist is the best documented
      example, Jesus moved by choice in the impure zone of fishing and selling
      fish, of making and investing money, of partnerships in the ownership of a
      boat and of task assignment in the stewardship of an estate. He did not
      adopt the policy of denouncing fishing (or tax collecting) as impure or
      sullied or wrong. Instead, he wanted the fishermen and the tax collectors to
      use their knowledge of their craft in understanding the purpose to which he
      wished to direct their attention; as a means of understanding something
      better than fishing or tax collecting - better than family, if it should
      come to that, and it did come to that.

      Does Jesus denounce wealth? Not as I read the record in general. He does
      recommend transferring the account to a safer bank.

      The parables, as I read them, are not exempla, they are rather a means of
      convincement by similitude, starting where people are, and with what they
      understanding, and trying to take them a step further.




      ---------------------------------
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Loren Rosson
      ... Fair enough. My Farrer-bias predisposes me to see Matthew as the first one to try aligning the shrub with the tree, with Luke then later dropping the shrub
      Message 2 of 11 , Jun 28, 2006
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        Ron wrote:

        > Matthew's "the greatest of shrubs and becomes a
        > tree" looks to me (and I'm
        > sure to lots of other observers) like Matthew's
        > somewhat clumsy attempt to
        > assimilate his two sources: a sayings source which
        > had "tree" and Mark which
        > had "the greatest of all shrubs".

        Fair enough. My Farrer-bias predisposes me to see
        Matthew as the first one to try aligning the shrub
        with the tree, with Luke then later dropping the shrub
        altogether in favor of something more acceptable.

        > > Matthew and Luke's versions are wrong (a
        > > mustard shrub isn't a tree) ...
        >
        > Nor is it possible for a camel to go through the eye
        > of a needle. Shouldn't we make allowances for Jesus'
        > liking for hyperbole?

        See below.

        [Loren]
        > > ... and reflect later attempts
        > > to reclaim the appropriate metaphor for the
        > > kingdom, the cedar of Lebanon (Ezek 17:22-24,
        > > 31:5-6; Dan 4:10-12; Ps 104:10-17)

        [Ron]
        > But the kingdom of God was central to Jesus'
        > teaching. Why should we not
        > suppose that Jesus himself, as well as using
        > hyperbole, may have been
        > alluding to such metaphors for the kingdom?

        He was alluding to it -- and clearly so, what with the
        birds and all -- but he was doing so with a burlesque.
        A shrub undermines assumptions... just like the
        eye-of-a-needle metaphor you mention.

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH
        http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com/

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      • Loren Rosson
        ... Fair enough. My Farrer-bias predisposes me to see Matthew as the first one to try aligning the shrub with the tree, with Luke then later dropping the shrub
        Message 3 of 11 , Jun 28, 2006
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          Ron wrote:

          > Matthew's "the greatest of shrubs and becomes a
          > tree" looks to me (and I'm
          > sure to lots of other observers) like Matthew's
          > somewhat clumsy attempt to
          > assimilate his two sources: a sayings source which
          > had "tree" and Mark which
          > had "the greatest of all shrubs".

          Fair enough. My Farrer-bias predisposes me to see
          Matthew as the first one to try aligning the shrub
          with the tree, with Luke then later dropping the shrub
          altogether in favor of something more acceptable.

          > > Matthew and Luke's versions are wrong (a
          > > mustard shrub isn't a tree) ...
          >
          > Nor is it possible for a camel to go through the eye
          > of a needle. Shouldn't we make allowances for Jesus'
          > liking for hyperbole?

          See below.

          [Loren]
          > > ... and reflect later attempts
          > > to reclaim the appropriate metaphor for the
          > > kingdom, the cedar of Lebanon (Ezek 17:22-24,
          > > 31:5-6; Dan 4:10-12; Ps 104:10-17)

          [Ron]
          > But the kingdom of God was central to Jesus'
          > teaching. Why should we not
          > suppose that Jesus himself, as well as using
          > hyperbole, may have been
          > alluding to such metaphors for the kingdom?

          He was alluding to it -- and clearly so, what with the
          birds and all -- but he was doing so with a burlesque.
          A shrub undermines assumptions... just like the
          eye-of-a-needle metaphor you mention.

          Loren Rosson III
          Nashua NH
          http://lorenrosson.blogspot.com/

          __________________________________________________
          Do You Yahoo!?
          Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          http://mail.yahoo.com
        • David @ Comcast
          BRUCE: For what it may be worth, my own study of the evidence disinclines me to mix Thomas in with the canonical Gospels. I accept the indications that Thomas
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 2 10:44 AM
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            BRUCE: For what it may be worth, my own study of the evidence disinclines me
            to mix Thomas in with the canonical Gospels. I accept the indications that
            Thomas is later than all of them, and has drawn vaguely but detectably on at
            least the first three of them, but is not in the same tradition, the same
            Trajectory if one will, as any of them. I think Thomas represents Esoteric
            Christianity. I thus don't think it tells us anything about Jesus that we
            need to factor into any discussion of the Historical Jesus. It does tell us
            about receptivity to Jesus in a probably non-Palestinian context, which to
            me is an important subject, but still a separate one.

            DAVID I: I don't personally know enough about the details of Thomas to
            assign a 'trajectory' to it with respect to any of the canonical Gospels.
            However, as I think is generally acknowledged, its mere existence does lend
            weight to any synoptic theory that posits a sayings source. Like Lk's 'many'
            sources, Thomas works against a strict adherence to Occam when trying to
            solve the Synoptic problem. Similarly, IMHO, Q theories should take Thomas
            into account, in that re-constructions of Q that look more like Thomas
            should be preferred to those that look less like Thomas.

            Basically, what I think I'm suggesting is that *all* the evidence has to be
            taken into account. For example, suppose we posit an authorial process for
            the canonical Gospels that doesn't allow for accretion of texts over time,
            and then we realize that there is another text (e.g. perhaps the ending of
            Romans) that can only be accounted for by an accretion process. If we have
            to allow for this other process that created Romans, but deny it's
            applicability to the Synoptics, then we have to come up with a good reason
            why this process doesn't apply. Unless we can do that, then I suggest that
            we should allow that whatever forces (or processes) acted on one canonical
            NT text should be considered to have acted on the others as well.

            Turning this around, any Synoptic solution that considers the Synoptics in
            isolation is simply not taking all the relevant factors into consideration.
            Therefore, I believe we have to at least consider John, Thomas, Marcion, the
            Western text, Paul, the logia, Mark's notes from Peter, etc. when working
            out a Synoptic solution. Of course, we can always discount them after due
            consideration, but we do have to go through that process.

            David Inglis

            Lafayette, CA, USA

            Davidinglis2@...



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ron Price
            While I agree with Bruce that GTh tells us nothing (directly) about the historical Jesus, I also agree with ... There is a potential irony here, for if
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 3 4:11 AM
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              While I agree with Bruce that GTh tells us nothing (directly) about the
              historical Jesus, I also agree with

              David Inglis that:

              > Q theories should take Thomas into account,

              There is a potential irony here, for if comparison with GTh helps us to
              solve the Synoptic Problem, then it might *indirectly* tell us quite a lot
              about the HJ!

              > re-constructions of Q that look more like Thomas
              > should be preferred to those that look less like Thomas.

              Indeed. So it could be quite significant that as in GTh and in my
              reconstruction of the sayings source there are no narrative passages (unlike
              "Q"), and they both consist solely of sayings attributed to Jesus (unlike
              "Q" which also includes sayings attributed to John the Baptist).

              Ron Price

              Derbyshire, UK

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