10476[XTalk] Davies Re: Paul and Jesus' teaching
- Jul 3, 2002--- In crosstalk2@y..., Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...> wrote:
> In fact, one of the burdens under which attempts to understandJesus'
> teaching has labored is the lack of clarity about the differencebetween
> Jesus' teachings, whatever they might have been, and his sayingsin
> general. This stems, I think, from a Docetic view of Jesus, inwhich, as
> One who was One with God, Jesus was viewed as Omniscient, so thateven if
> he said, "please pass the Ketchup" at dinner, one would assumethat he was
> teaching something (please excuse the blatant anachronism). In myview,
> this is not helpful.I have tried to make the same point myself. If we take the "turn the
other cheek" saying, as our text, then it may have been said at some
particular point for some reason altogether lost. Or it may have
been said to a particular sort of audience with a general
application for members of that audience, e.g. destitute itinerants.
But on the whole I think it is utterly wrong to think that Jesus'
every utterance properly should be taken to apply to all humans at
all times. But, as we see, this is often done.
And it is easy to do, especially with Seminary training. Hobbled by
the lack of same I will still venture to say that when Jesus
said "please pass the Ketchup" we hear the voice of one who has
humbled himself into the human form so that he does not force a
miraculous Ketchup upon us but humbly begs for human Ketchup to be
passed. His use of "please" is a particularly telling point, because
we know from contemporary archaeological work that in his time and
place the word "please" was used by Jews as a signifier or "word of
politeness" initiating a formal request during mealtimes and
elsewhere. The quoted "Ketchup saying" is very probably of the
ipsissima verba (John Meier says so, as does N. T. Wright, two
giants of scholarship) because it fits so well into the Lukan
pattern of table fellowship which we know traces back to Jesus
himself. This inference is confirmed by its coherence with the Q
saying found only in Luke: "eat what is set before you." Note that
we learn from Jesus that while we "eat what is set before us" even
he shows us by his own example that we must call upon the assistance
of others to improve that which we find before us. Through the
assistance of others, by their provision of Ketchup, we can take
what is set before us and make of it a better and more whole-some
meal. We find Jesus opening up a world of sharing and world-
improvement that lessons us to move out into the world and pour our
Ketchup upon those affairs that are set before us, just as he did,
with the help of those to whom he turned.
> I think it is more helpful to ask questions such as the following:I do not think you can assume that if the Synoptics say so it was
> * Did Jesus' contemporaries (i.e., people who, as adults, knew
> him) regard him as a teacher?
so. But the preservations of his sayings leads to legitimate
inferences that for some reason what he said was considered quite
> * If so, what did it mean to them?I think we are safer if we just make up stuff for it to mean to us
and then blithely attribute that to them. Based on thinking about
Thomas sayings, synoptic ones, which are strikingly devoid of
context, I have basically concluded that it is literally impossible
to say what they meant originally. Hence, I would say, Mark comes up
with the idea of giving them a context so that they can mean
something. Which, as you know, is what Mark thinks they meant,
rather than what Jesus or the audience thought.
> * Did Jesus' contemporaries regard him as having a didache(teaching or
> doctrine?) If so, what did they think it was?Here I must reiterate what I keep iterating and that is that the
answer appears to be NO. Why? Because they (Mark, Thomas) insist
even his most intimate followers didn't understand. Because they all
felt free to make up things for him to teach. Because they, Paul,
John, Hebrews, do not care enough about that teaching or doctrine to
include it. The standard theory that he had a didache but it was
essentially forgotten by the time we have any records of his stuff
> * What were other people described as didaskolos and rabbidoing in
> Roman Judea and Galilee, and how did they do it, during Jesus'day? (this
> might cast light on the second bullet above.)Or not. We have a frightening tendency to fall into the "drunk under
the streetlamp" fallacy, which is to look for our lost keys under
the streetlamp because that's where the light is rather than look in
the darker vicinity of the place we lost the keys. So we look for
information from the writings of General - Priest Josephus or the
Essene (Priestly?) collection from Qumran for the "how did they do
it" of a Galilean peasant prophet because we have no good
information about how Galilean peasant prophets did it.
> We must also avoid rampant anachronism and ethnocentrism.Good idea. Can I include in "ethnocentrism" the notion that the
Nazarene was a Judean?
> To most peoplea "classroom."
> today, "teaching" means something done by a "teacher" in
I don't think this is true for HJ aficionados.
> Consequently conservative Christian circles,is
> in trying to make sense of the fact that in all of the gospels he
> 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 findthis
> approach very helpful, either.Why do you write "conservative?" I think our liberals do exactly
> So, besides looking for the Authentic Sayings of Jesus, I want toknow
> which of those sayings were regarded as teaching, and which wereof the
> "Please pass the grits" stuff of daily non-teaching life.But here you quote as authentic a non-canonical saying. In the canon
it reads "Please pass the Ketchup" and not "Please pass the grits."
It does us all a disservice, Bob, for you to bring into the
discussion material that clearly is Gnostic and second or third
century. Grits, as we know, are not a flavoring-device to improve
the quality of the food set before us, as is Ketchup, but is an
alternative food in and of itself. Jesus, in the saying you quote,
is dissatisfied with his food and wants more or better food. But we
know from the sayings in the Bible that he insisted that we should
eat what is set before us. It does not say that we should demand
other foods. Because of the verbal identity in the initiational
phrase "Please pass the " we can tell that the variant with "grits"
is dependent on the original "Ketchup," but changed in such a way as
to reject this world, symbolized by the food upon which the Ketchup
is to be poured, in favor of a different higher world symbolized by
the term "grits," in a way typical of third century Gnosticism.
> Furthermore, I want to know about forms of teaching as well ascontent, and
> other clues to when Jesus was in "teaching" mode, and when hewasn't.
> And I also want to know whether he also taught by deed as well asby word,
> and how that was recognized and understood.Oh, you're not as humble as all that.
> Your humble student,
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