Re: "History vs. Theology": a sample application
- James Trimm writes:
>The concept of the divinity of Messiah predates Christendom.Yeah, that's where this whole thing started. You write about some
fictional person who's supposed to come in the future, before you know
it someone (a lot of someone's, actually) wants to BE him, or thinks
they ARE him, or has followers who think he IS him. But there never was
any "him" to be in the first place. Pretty ironic, huh? Do you suppose
God's laughing at us? (Perhaps "he" created us for "his" amusement - or
was it the other way round?)
- Glad to see you back on the list, Lewis. Your comments
and expertise on jewish matters are always appreciated.
>On 8 Jun 98, at 22:48, Antonio Jerez wrote:Lewis replied:
>> It may very well be the case that stories like the creation narrative and
>> the Eden story were largely planned as theological stories by the original
>> author. The problem is that myths or theological stories most often are
>> taken as empirical stories after a while by later generations. In Jesus
>> time I can bet that most Jews believed litteraly in the Genesis stories
>> and the Exodus story.
>Perhaps I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that we tend toNotice that I said that "MOST jews believed litteraly in the Genisis
>conclude from the evidence of Philo that allegorical readings of the Bible were
>rather common among Hellenistic Jews.
story...", I didn't say all. Yes, Philo is well known for his extremely
allegorical readings of the Tanakh. But first of all Philo was a jewish
aristocrat and intellectual - in the top rung of jewish society. Secondly
he was a dedicated Platonist who simply had to read even the most
straightforward stories in the Tanakh allegorally to find platonism in
them. I haven't read enough of Philo to know if he took Moses to be
an actual historical figure or just a metaphor for something. It is also
the case that Philo was not alone in reading the Tanakh allegorically.
He tells himself of other jewish intellectuals in Alexandria who allegorized
the book because they found some of the stories abhorent as they
stand or because they had problems with jewish hallakah and wanted
to get rid of jewish customs by allegorical reading of the text.
But the question is if most jews at the time read the major stories
in the Tanakh allegorically? I doubt it. Specially not the common
folks both inside and outside Palestine who made up the majority
of the Jews. I believe that for every Philo there were a thousand
common Jews who read the stories quite straight. I only have to
point to prophets like Theudas and the unknown Egyptian prophet
who had huge followings and promised to walk in the footsteps of
the biblical heroes. This clearly shows that a lot of people at the time
of Jesus believed litteraly in the biblical stories, if not Theudas would
have had no following.
>> Much of Jesus and Paul's reasoningWell, in Paul's case by reading his own letters. Paul obviously didn't
>> rests on the idea that there actually existed once in a time an
>> Eden and a Moses who received the commandments on Sinai.
>How can we tell this? And how can we tell that the attribution to Moses and
>Sinai was not that culture's way of saying "these are the rules and customs that
>have been effect since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary"?
take Moses as just a metaphor. If he had done that his comparison
of Moses with Jesus would not have worked. Or do you mean that
Jesus was also a pure metaphor to Paul? I take it that Paul thaught
that there were people of flesh and blood behind the names Moses
and Jesus - the same with Adam and Eve.