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New Paradigm - by Parameters?

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  • Philip B. Lewis
    On Feb.19 Steve Davies wrote a plaintive question in response to Don ... asserted in Mark we can confidently say that it was true of the Jesus of
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 1999
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      On Feb.19 Steve Davies wrote a "plaintive" question in response to Don
      Murphy's quotation from Chad Myers' book:

      > "Is there anything left that one can point to and say 'because this is >
      asserted in Mark we can confidently say that it was true of the Jesus of >
      history?'"

      Steve's question got me to thinking: What is "known" of the Jesus of history
      apparently comes to us in literature
      representing a movement
      which interpreted him, and the way of life associated with him,
      in mythic terms.
      Are there parameters we can set with reasonable confidence so that what is
      mythically conveyed can be better understood?

      For example: the thread I initiated a few weeks ago on the Role of Women in
      1st Century Palestine attempted an initial exploration of one aspect of the
      *context* in which a historical Jesus may have been expected to speak and act.

      One inference to be drawn from what is known of marriage practices would
      have bearing on Jesus' birth. His mother's pregnancy could be expected to
      have occurred after her third menstrual period. That is, no matter what
      medieval pietistic dogma might be built out of the available Gospel reports,
      Jesus' mother was barely launched into teen age years when she could be
      expected to have conceived her first-born child. Mythological
      interpretations could be built on that sort of foundation.

      But another, surely, is that if Yeshu was a Galilean Jew, he was nurtured in
      a social environment that had conservative standards of marriage. Out of
      that kind of environment such a teaching as we find in Mk.10.6-8 is firmly
      at home. What Mark makes of the teaching, having it be Yeshu's response to
      Pharisees (who presumably represent Judean mores) who initiate a controversy
      on divorce must be seen in its relevance to the Gospel's structural
      development. Since a Jewess could not initiate divorce, the "add on"
      application in vss.10-12, particularly in vs.12, "If she divorces her
      husband and marries another," indicates a Gentile context, but the original
      *logion* would have been Palestinian - and probably Galilean. If that point
      of reference (parameter) could be pinned down, then other "variables" could
      be explored, you see.

      [In contrast, the 5Gospels shows doubt about "What did Moses command you"
      and treats the rest of the saying(s) as gray.]

      Similarly, in Lk.6.38 we are offered a saying that Luke associates with
      judging and forgiving (vs.37): *"Give and it will be given to you; good
      measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be put into
      your lap."* Luke continues with tying the key saying into his context, "For
      the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

      Now, the key saying designated above has its relevance in the "rocking
      measure" gesture accompanying the giving of a basket of wheat to the priest
      or Levite who stood ready to receive offerings for theTemple's provender at
      Pentecost. (See Deut.26) It and the annual Confession which followed it
      was still observed as long as the Temple stood.

      I do not suggest that Lk.6.37a was a saying of the Jesus of history
      necessarily; it rather establishes a reference point - a parameter - from
      which "variable" traditions can be assessed.

      May we agree that some Gospel elements can be accepted as reliable enough
      that attention can then be turned to attributions about which we cannot be
      as sure? No, I do not think that a majority vote of scholars, such as the
      Jesus Seminar undertakes, serves. There is a whole historical context into
      which what is claimed for Jesus must fit.

      Any comments?

      Philip
      -phil@...
      + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
      We invent histories to suit ourselves and call them facts.
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