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What's in a name? [was Galilean method]

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... My real identity has been uncovered at last ;-) A month or so ago Lewis R. asked me (in private) how I came by such a monicker. This Hebrew name became
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 29, 1998
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      Bob Schacht wrote in reply to me:

      > >BTW, I've been looking at the Book of Ruth lately; Now I know where the
      > >name "Mahlon" comes from!

      Jim West added:
      >
      > Yes, and it means "sickness, weakness, feebleness"!

      My real identity has been uncovered at last ;-) A month or so ago Lewis
      R. asked me (in private) how I came by such a monicker. This Hebrew name
      became popular back in the 16th or 17th c. among a small group of German
      pietists who gave all their children OT names. Why is a mystery. I think
      it must have been a combination of the popularity of the story of Ruth
      among Protestant women & the fact these wives of peasant farmers all had
      many sons for whom they had to find different names. Persecution by
      continental ecclesiastical authorities caused a mass migration first to
      England (where they were befriended by Quakers) & thence to Germantown
      PA. The name is still fairly common among PA Dutch (the Smith side of my
      ancestry) & a few families with Quaker heritage. [Some oldtimers might
      recognize the names of Mahlon Fox & Mahlon White (both TV producers in
      the 50s & both ostensibly of Quaker lineage).] If the name has been used
      by other groups, I have never run across it. It's common enough among
      people named Smith in the Delaware basin that I am sometimes approached
      by strangers inquiring whether I'm a long lost relative. To add to the
      confusion there are even two unrelated Mahlon H. Smiths in neighboring
      towns & another non-kin namesake whose genealogy may be found on the
      WWW.

      As for the etymology of the name: I have not advertised this for obvious
      reasons. But I was heartened when Lewis R. assured me that rabbinic
      etymologies like this are often based on homiletical rather than
      historical or linguistic considerations.

      > But our Mahlon is none
      > of those things, putting the lie to the ancient belief that names identify
      > personality.

      I thank you kindly, sir!


      > One more note on Ruth- the Targum specifies that Mahlon died because he
      > married a Moabite woman!
      >

      His only claim to fame: to marry a woman who is more famous than him.
      Sigh! But if he didn't die, that Moabite woman would never have married
      Boaz. Funny, the Targum does not claim that Boaz died because of this.
      So much for midrashic logic.

      > Best,
      > (and sorry for the off topic note).

      No apologies necessary. I've posted more that were less relevant to the
      topic. Actually, the origin of this name is tangentially related to the
      focus of CrossTalk. For without the original Mahlon there would be no
      story of Ruth. Without Ruth these would not have been a David. Without
      David there would have been no messianic ideal for Jews. Without the
      Jewish concept of a messiah, would anyone ever have heard of Yeshu bar
      Yosef of Nazareth? Without him, what excuse would we have for staying up
      all night writing cybernotes?

      Shalom!


      Mahlon



      --

      *********************

      Mahlon H. Smith,
      Associate Professor
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
    • Lewis Reich
      ... The Midrash often makes remarkable leaps of logic. This, however, I do not rank among them. Naomi s son married a Ruth who lived among her own Moabite
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 31, 1998
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        On 30 Jul 98, at 2:13, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:

        > Funny, the Targum does not claim that Boaz died because of this.
        > So much for midrashic logic.

        The Midrash often makes remarkable leaps of logic. This, however, I do not
        rank among them. Naomi's son married a Ruth who lived among her own
        Moabite people in the land of Moab, who had not made a commitment to the
        people of Israel. By the time Boaz married Ruth she had abandoned her
        birthplace and her people to follow Naomi and take up another identity. One
        might say that Mahlon had married a Moabitess, but that Boaz married a
        convert.

        Lewis Reich
        LBR@...
      • Anne Quast
        Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about the
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 1, 1998
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          Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical
          gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about
          the resurrection. A book I read some time ago states that Paul never
          writes about the virgin birth. In Galatians Paul rants and goes on about
          the 'Circumcision Party' or the Jewish-Christians.

          Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
          Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
          ideas originate?

          Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
          in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which gospels were
          included in the canon?

          By the way, I'm not a fan of Paul's. I keep thinking that the 'Christian'
          religion might be an entirely different thing if he hadn't taken it over.
        • Bob Schacht
          ... Anne, This is an overbroad and oversimplified summary, because a crucial adjective is missing. The resurrection is central to Paul s testimony as I
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 1, 1998
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            At 03:01 PM 8/2/98 +0900, Anne Quast wrote:
            >Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical
            >gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about
            >the resurrection.

            Anne,
            This is an overbroad and oversimplified summary, because a crucial
            adjective is missing. The resurrection is central to Paul's testimony as I
            understand it. What was at issue was what *kind* of resurrection Paul wrote
            about. I think the missing adjective in this case is 'bodily' or 'of the
            body'. I think it was Mahlon who wrote recently that the earliest
            resurrection testimony is ambiguous about whether Jesus came back as a
            physical body, but that in response to gnostic(?) interpretations of
            resurrection accounts (e.g., that the resurrected Jesus was merely a ghost
            or ethereal spirit), later sources increasingly emphasized the physicality
            of the resurrection appearances. Some have traced the development of this
            theme of increasing physicality through Luke, culminating in John.

            > A book I read some time ago states that Paul never
            >writes about the virgin birth.

            That sounds true enough. I'll leave it to others to answer the rest of your
            questions.

            Bob


            Robert Schacht
            Northern Arizona University
            Robert.Schacht@...

            "This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method':
            that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's
            position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our
            criticism to be worth while." [Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific
            Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5]
          • Jack Kilmon
            ... I think the virgin birth thingy got started with the Matthean scribe in his zeal for OT attestation. Not being Semitic competent, the Matthean scribe used
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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              Anne Quast wrote:
              >
              > Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical
              > gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about
              > the resurrection. A book I read some time ago states that Paul never
              > writes about the virgin birth. In Galatians Paul rants and goes on about
              > the 'Circumcision Party' or the Jewish-Christians.
              >
              > Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
              > Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
              > ideas originate?

              I think the virgin birth thingy got started with the Matthean scribe
              in his zeal for OT attestation. Not being Semitic competent, the
              Matthean
              scribe used the LXX for Isaiah which translates the ALMAH as PARTHENOS.
              From that point, I believe the Matthean scribe was engaging in midrash.
              In Hebrew textual contexts, the larger percentage of ALMAH usage is as
              "young woman" with a smaller percentage as "virgin." In Greek, the
              larger percentage of PARTHENOS is "virgin" with a smaller percentage
              as "young woman" so I am not sure what was on the Matthean scribe's
              mind,
              however, the Lukan parallel must come from the Matthean source either
              because the "Luke used Matthew" paradigm is correct or it was the
              result of later harmonization.

              >
              > Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
              > in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which gospels were
              > included in the canon?

              A great deal.

              Jack

              --
              ______________________________________________

              Min d'LA rokHEM l'maRAN yeSHUa meshyCHA niheYAH. maRAN aTHA

              Jack Kilmon
              jkilmon@...

              http://www.historian.net
            • Jim West
              ... Paul does speak of a form of resurrection- a spiritual sort. Cf. 1 Cor 15. It can be concluded that he must have known a tradition in one form or another
              Message 6 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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                At 03:01 PM 8/2/98 +0900, you wrote:

                >Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
                >Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
                >ideas originate?

                Paul does speak of a form of resurrection- a spiritual sort. Cf. 1 Cor 15.
                It can be concluded that he must have known a tradition in one form or
                another about jesus' resurrection.
                But you are right- no virginal "conception" (to be more accurate).

                >
                >Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
                >in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which gospels were
                >included in the canon?
                >

                Hard to say. Probably not much at all.

                >By the way, I'm not a fan of Paul's. I keep thinking that the 'Christian'
                >religion might be an entirely different thing if he hadn't taken it over.
                >

                And you would be right.
                Ecclesiastical Christianity is Paul's religion- thansk to Augustine and Luther.


                Jim

                ++++++++++++++++++++++++
                Jim West, ThD
                Adjunct Professor of Bible
                Quartz Hill School of Theology

                jwest@...
              • Tom Simms
                ... An excellent example that may even indicate that Jesus Himself knew more scripture in Greek than Hebrew but confirmation at least that the evangels worked
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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                  On Sun, 02 Aug 1998 02:25:18 -0500, jkilmon@... writes:
                  >
                  >Anne Quast wrote:
                  >>
                  >> Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical
                  >> gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about
                  >> the resurrection. A book I read some time ago states that Paul never
                  >> writes about the virgin birth. In Galatians Paul rants and goes on about
                  >> the 'Circumcision Party' or the Jewish-Christians.
                  >>
                  >> Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
                  >> Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
                  >> ideas originate?
                  >
                  > I think the virgin birth thingy got started with the Matthean scribe
                  > in his zeal for OT attestation. Not being Semitic competent, the Matthean
                  > scribe used the LXX for Isaiah which translates the ALMAH as PARTHENOS.
                  > From that point, I believe the Matthean scribe was engaging in midrash.
                  > In Hebrew textual contexts, the larger percentage of ALMAH usage is as
                  > "young woman" with a smaller percentage as "virgin." In Greek, the
                  > larger percentage of PARTHENOS is "virgin" with a smaller percentage
                  > as "young woman" so I am not sure what was on the Matthean scribe's
                  > mind, however, the Lukan parallel must come from the Matthean source
                  > either because the "Luke used Matthew" paradigm is correct or it was the
                  > result of later harmonization.

                  An excellent example that may even indicate that Jesus Himself knew more
                  scripture in Greek than Hebrew but confirmation at least that the evangels
                  worked from the LXX.

                  >> Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
                  >> in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which gospels were
                  >> included in the canon?
                  >
                  >A great deal.
                  >
                  >Jack
                  >
                  Ciao & gratias

                  Tom Simms
                • Richard H. Anderson
                  Anne Quast, greetings: I think we need to consider 2 Cor. 8:18 and notwithstanding that there is no agreement as to the identity of the person famous
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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                    Anne Quast, greetings:

                    I think we need to consider 2 Cor. 8:18 and notwithstanding that there
                    is no agreement as to the identity of the person famous throughout the
                    world for the preaching of the gospel or the identity of the document or
                    the substance of the oral tradition, I would nonetheless state that Paul
                    gives no biography of Jesus because someone's else had already prepared
                    such an account that was circulating prior to Paul's letters.


                    > Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in >the Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did >these ideas originate?
                    >
                    > Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was >written in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which >gospels were included in the canon?
                  • BERNARD MULLER
                    ... bits: Resurrection: Paul is dabbling a lot about resurrection(s) in his epistles. It all started in 1Th4:13-18: There Paul is answering a question of great
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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                      Anne Quast wrote:
                      >
                      > Most of you seem to agree that the Epistles of Paul predate the canonical
                      > gospels. Someone wrote this past week that nowhere does Paul write about
                      > the resurrection. A book I read some time ago states that Paul never
                      > writes about the virgin birth. In Galatians Paul rants and goes on about
                      > the 'Circumcision Party' or the Jewish-Christians.
                      >
                      > Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
                      > Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
                      > ideas originate?
                      > Since it seems everybody is answering Anne, I'll join too to give my two
                      bits:
                      Resurrection: Paul is dabbling a lot about resurrection(s) in his
                      epistles. It all started in 1Th4:13-18: There Paul is answering a
                      question of great concern for the newly Gentile converts of
                      Thessalonica. To their surprise, some of them died, before the arrival
                      of the Kingdom. Paul's solution: They will resurrect to be part of it.
                      And then, what about Jesus? In 1Th4:14 Paul declares innocently that
                      Jesus has risen (emphasis on spiritual resurrection), but it is a matter
                      of BELIEF. Immediatly, Paul corrects himself by invoking the dubious
                      Lord's own words from a definitively resurrected Jesus, but that seems
                      to be an afterthought, repairing the damage of 1Th4:14.
                      At that times, the prevalent Jewish Christians believed that Jesus, as
                      the future King (Lord, Christ), after his death went to heaven
                      (Heb9:24), to sit at the right hand of God as the Son of Man (or Adam)
                      (interpolated from psalms: see Heb1:13,2:6), until God prepares the way
                      back for him to his earthly Kingdom.
                      Later on, Paul, who was leaning towards spiritual resurrection(s)
                      (1Co15:44,46), had to contend with the competition of Jewish Christians.
                      For them, the Kingdom was to come on earth for the "alive then" and the
                      resurrected ones, all of them in a flesh and blood form. Paul rejected
                      "flesh and blood" (Paul's moved the Kingdom to heaven, not to have any
                      problem on the political front, especially among the Gentiles, some of
                      them Roman citizens), but allowed for a more physical resurrected body.
                      From that point on, stories about Jesus reappearing as a stranger
                      (Lk24:13-32, Jn21:1) must have been voiced. Also the Assumption of Moses
                      cleared the way to "prove" that one can die, be buried and then go to
                      heaven, body and soul.
                      The next step was the empty tomb in Mark's gospel. Later, Jesus in a new
                      body (NOT a ghost!) appears to his disciples (Lk24:36-42). Later in
                      Jn19:24-28, Jesus appears in his own body.
                      Note: I am certain that 1Co15:3-11 and Jesus reapparitions in Matthew's
                      gospel were late additions.

                      Virgin Birth: Certainly that is not in Paul's epistles. On the opposite,
                      Ro1:3, alludes to a genetic human father.
                      The situation in the 70's and 80's was as follows:
                      The Jewish Christians had come to accept (most likely through Mark's
                      gospel) Jesus as the Son of God, but only as a title.
                      The Gentile Christians, of course, were inclined to believe that Jesus
                      was the pre-existent Son/Word of God (which was heretical for Jewish
                      Christians). In this context, the Virgin Birth appears to be a
                      compromise solution. Of course, stories of earthly women made pregnant
                      by god(s), were common place in the Hellenist world; the union resulting
                      in legendary figures (example: Hercules) or Greek philosophers
                      (example: Plato) or many others. Even Philo of Alexandria, a eminent
                      Jews, proposed this hypothesis relative to births during the O.T.
                      patriarch's era. In Josephus' Antiquities, there is a story about a
                      Roman aristocratic lady who sexually offered herself to a god.

                      > Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
                      > in the canonical gospels? How much did it influence which gospels were
                      > included in the canon?
                      >
                      > By the way, I'm not a fan of Paul's. I keep thinking that the 'Christian'
                      > religion might be an entirely different thing if he hadn't taken it over.

                      A huge lot, as many scholars already told you.
                      Please note I already answered extensively your questions along my HJ:
                      http://www.concentric.net/~Mullerb/
                      Au revoir, Bernard
                    • Tom Simms
                      Crosstalk dumbbunnies, listen up --- ... How many times do I have to tell you Caputes Vaccua, les tete voides, of the clear NOTICE in Suetonius SOMEONE was
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 2, 1998
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                        Crosstalk dumbbunnies, listen up ---

                        On Sun, 02 Aug 1998 12:03:33 -0400, keras@... writes:
                        >
                        >Anne Quast, greetings:
                        >
                        >I think we need to consider 2 Cor. 8:18 and notwithstanding that there
                        >is no agreement as to the identity of the person famous throughout the
                        >world for the preaching of the gospel or the identity of the document or
                        >the substance of the oral tradition, I would nonetheless state that Paul
                        >gives no biography of Jesus because someone's else had already prepared
                        >such an account that was circulating prior to Paul's letters.


                        How many times do I have to tell you Caputes Vaccua, les tete voides,
                        of the clear NOTICE in Suetonius SOMEONE was telling the Romans,
                        particularly the literary crowd, including one soon to be off'd
                        lyre strummer, all about the crucfixion and the resurrection. Paul
                        must have known there were conflicting versions for he took no sides
                        and preached from his own song book. It has always seemed to me silly
                        to argue the evangels never wrote anything to the god-fearers who
                        were all over the Empah! Since most of you never grew up under an
                        empire you don't know how you felt everyone in the world except
                        yankees who lived off Empire blood were all inthe same boat, then
                        You don't realize that Rome was the first place you'd likely send an
                        account of what happened. sheeeesh!

                        [... snip - maybe later - ...]

                        Tom Simms
                      • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
                        On Sun, 2 Aug 1998, Anne Quast wrote: ... As to virgin birth, it seems to me that the relevant passages were added up later both to Lk and to Mt. ... My view
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 3, 1998
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                          On Sun, 2 Aug 1998, Anne Quast wrote:

                          ...

                          > Question 1: If the resurrection and virgin birth are not mentioned in the
                          > Epistles and the Epistles predate the canonical gospels, where did these
                          > ideas originate?

                          As to virgin birth, it seems to me that the relevant passages were added
                          up later both to Lk and to Mt.

                          > Question 2: How much did the teaching of Paul influence what was written
                          > in the canonical gospels?

                          My view is that Mk is basically a Pauline gospel. Goulder thinks so too.

                          > How much did it influence which gospels were
                          > included in the canon?

                          The canon was beginning to be formalized ca. 140. So Pauline school's
                          influence here would have been very considerable.

                          Best,

                          Yuri.
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