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10475[XTalk] Davies Re: Paul and Jesus' teaching

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  • Bob Schacht
    Jul 2, 2002
      At 12:31 AM 7/3/2002 +0000, sdavies0 wrote:
      >Have you all noticed how the word "teaching" gets used in so many
      >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
      >S ),
      >one should be somewhat careful to explain what one is
      >talking about.
      >Steve Davies

      Not guilty! :-)
      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
      Flagstaff, AZ

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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