10475[XTalk] Davies Re: Paul and Jesus' teaching
- Jul 2, 2002At 12:31 AM 7/3/2002 +0000, sdavies0 wrote:
>Have you all noticed how the word "teaching" gets used in so manyNot guilty! :-)
>radically different ways here? A sentence about Paul
>conveying "teaching" implies, for some, that he promulgates some
>sort of message-of-Jesus from the mouth of the Nazarene, for others
>it means that he "teaches" his own gospel which he got from A)God or
>B)Xians he persecuted. For others it means that Paul's teachings
>themselves became normative in some or many churches and were later
>incorporated into the teachings attributed to Jesus. I won't demand
>that everybody henceforth define their terms, but I hope that
>everybody will be a little more aware that claims
>regarding "teaching" vis a vis Paul or Jesus can mean a whole
>variety of things and if one wishes to communicate, i.e. teach ( pace Bob
>one should be somewhat careful to explain what one is
Or, what was the charge?
In fact, one of the burdens under which attempts to understand Jesus'
teaching has labored is the lack of clarity about the difference between
Jesus' teachings, whatever they might have been, and his sayings in
general. This stems, I think, from a Docetic view of Jesus, in which, as
One who was One with God, Jesus was viewed as Omniscient, so that even if
he said, "please pass the Ketchup" at dinner, one would assume that he was
teaching something (please excuse the blatant anachronism). In my view,
this is not helpful.
I think it is more helpful to ask questions such as the following:
* Did Jesus' contemporaries (i.e., people who, as adults, knew
him) regard him as a teacher?
* If so, what did it mean to them?
* Did Jesus' contemporaries regard him as having a didache (teaching or
doctrine?) If so, what did they think it was?
* What were other people described as didaskolos and rabbi doing in
Roman Judea and Galilee, and how did they do it, during Jesus' day? (this
might cast light on the second bullet above.)
We must also avoid rampant anachronism and ethnocentrism. To most people
today, "teaching" means something done by a "teacher" in a "classroom." We
are helped by that classroom thing, so that when Professor McCorkle is
holding forth in the evening at the Boar's Head Tavern, we don't call that
"teaching." Nor do we think he is teaching when we meet him by chance in
the Grocery store and chat for a moment. But when he steps in front of the
podium at 223 Schweitzer Hall at 9 AM in the John Dominic Crossan School of
Religious Studies in the room scheduled for Religious Studies 353, you had
better be ready to take notes, because you are about to be Taught. Even
more, you had better have his textbook on the subject, in case you take bad
lecture notes. I do not find it helpul to require that Jesus' teaching be
held to this kind of standard.
There will naturally be some difficulty here with Jesus, because he did not
have a "classroom," there was not a class number or syllabus, and he was
not a Member of the Faculty. Consequently conservative Christian circles,
in trying to make sense of the fact that in all of the gospels he is
addressed as "teacher," that Jesus WAS the Faculty (all of it, except maybe
also J the B), and the classroom was anywhere he was. I don't find this
approach very helpful, either.
So, besides looking for the Authentic Sayings of Jesus, I want to know
which of those sayings were regarded as teaching, and which were of the
"Please pass the grits" stuff of daily non-teaching life.
Furthermore, I want to know about forms of teaching as well as content, and
other clues to when Jesus was in "teaching" mode, and when he wasn't.
And I also want to know whether he also taught by deed as well as by word,
and how that was recognized and understood.
Your humble student,
Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
Northern Arizona University
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