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11423Re: [XTalk] Jesus, James et al and Their Observant Parents

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  • Ted Weeden
    Nov 4, 2002
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      Steve Black wrote on November 02, 2002:

      > Firstly, I want to thanks you Ted for a fascinating essay!

      Thank you, Steve.

      > I have been wrestling through Mt's use of some of Q's "family"
      > material, Namely that found in the "missionary discourse" of Mt 10.
      > It strikes me that this material is best explained as a post-Easter
      > creation. The divisions which in 10:35 are not just the result, but
      > the *purpose* of Jesus' coming sound to me like a (desperate?)
      > attempt to make theological sense of the serious divisions created
      > from a radical decision to accept Jesus as God's eschatological
      > agent.

      I think such an apologetic is evident in Q. I think that Lk. 12:53 is
      closer to the original wording of Q than Mt. 10:35, however (see _CEQ_).


      > I think of other times of
      > unrest and social chaos where family turned against itself. (This
      > might be anachronistic, but I try to make sense of what I don't know
      > by way of connecting it to things that I do know) I think of the
      > American civil war - of Nazi Germany where children betrayed parents,
      > of the Civil war and genocide in Cambodia (in the 70's?). The point
      > of this anachronistic list is to suggest that this social breakdown
      > often happens in the context of larger social/political breakdown. In
      > Mt's case this would be obvious - the destruction of the temple and
      > the loss of a whole way of life and world view with it. In such a
      > context where everything becomes instable and insecure, religious
      > symbols begin to take on an all-consuming importance. As Xn's were
      > proclaiming symbols that undermined the symbols being uses by other
      > non-Xn Jews it is not surprising that this would result in harsh
      > mutual polemics. Thus the imperial powers are forgotten - the ones
      > actually responsible for this situation, and those closest become the
      > targets of battle - and this is because of the total significance
      > placed upon the religious symbols on both sides of the debate. The
      > point being that all this makes sense in the context of a society in
      > turmoil and destruction. This makes most sense in the 67-100CE range
      > - namely the time of the evangelists.

      Is it just a clash of symbols or is it the substantive content, meaning and
      claims being made which the symbols represent? (You may have had
      substantive issues in mind). Let me briefly put how I see this clash within
      family with respect to Jesus' substantive critique and adament opposition to
      the Judean cult of his family (both nuclear and the extended family of his
      hometown and Judean heritage, perhaps even a case, as you suggest, in which
      "the imperial powers are forgotten - the ones actually responsible for [the]
      situation, and those closest become the targets of battle."

      As N. Timothy Wright has stated (_Jesus and the Vistory of God_, see
      383-390) and its the purity codes, circumcision, Temple, Sabbath, as well as
      other festivals, were the distinctive and crucial identifying marks of what
      it meant to be Judean (I intentionally use the term "Judean," rather than
      "Jewish" to distinguish between Galilean Israelites of the first century CE
      and Judean Judahites) in the second Temple period. In a time when the
      Judeans, since they were not an independent nation, had no other way to
      establish boundaries that distinguished themselves ethno-religiously from
      Gentiles (i.e. other nations)---and particularly at a time when the Roman
      occupation and the incursion and imposition of Greco-Roman culture upon
      Palestine of the first century CE were blurring those ethno-religious
      boundaries and threatening the survival of the inherent integrity of what it
      meant to be Judean--- the observance and preservation of these distinctive
      Judean identity marks was considered by the Judean cultic establishment to
      be absolutely indispensable. As Joseph Klausner put it fifty-five years
      ago (_Jesus of Nazareth_, 376): "The Judaism of the time . . . had no other
      aim than to save the tiny nation, the guardian of great ideals, from sinking
      into the broad sea of heathen culture "

      It was this insistence of the Judean establishment upon the strict
      observance of its cultic observances, rules and practices that incensed
      Jesus and drove him to attack the cult at its heart. He challenged the
      purity codes, Temple practices, the literal application of certain
      commandments (the Sabbath commandment and the honoring-parents commandment)
      when those distinctive ethno-religious marks were employed to exclude the
      unobservant (the so-called "unclean")---unobservant by virtue of life
      conditions or whatever--- from being considered acceptable by or worthy of
      God. Jesus' opposition to the Judean cult made him a threat, minor though
      it may have been, to the survival of the Judean establishment in a world
      where it was fighting for survival against Roman occupation and the
      replacement of its ethno-religious distinctiveness with Greco-Roman culture
      (e.g. Herod Antipas' founding of Tiberias, his Greco-Roman resort center).
      Klausner---after summarizing Jesus' idealism, which included his disregard,
      even contempt, of the Judean Temple establishment (its Torah interpretation
      and ceremonial laws of purity which defined what and who was clean and
      unclean: Klausner 369-72)--- concludes (376), "the nation [Judea] as a whole
      could only see in such public ideals as those of Jesus, an abnormal and even
      dangerous phantasy; the majority, who followed the Pharisees and Scribes
      (*Tannaim*), the leaders of the popular party in the nation, could *on no
      account* [emphasis:Klausner] accept the teachings of Jesus. This teaching
      Jesus had imbibed from the breast of the Prophetic and, to a certain extent,
      Pharisaic Judaism; yet it became, on one hand, the negation of everything
      that had vitalized Judaism; and on the other hand, it brought Judaism to
      such an extreme that it became, in a sense, *non-Judaism* [emphasis:
      Klausner]. Hence the strange sight:--- Judaism brought forth Christianity
      in its first form (the teaching of Jesus), but it thrust aside its daughter
      when it saw that she would slay the mother with a deadly kiss.:" I will
      spell out my own perspective on Jesus' challenge to the Judean cultic
      establishment in the next installment of my developing monograph.

      > What might this have meant for "Q"? Turmoil preceded the actual
      > destruction of the temple by many years would think, So I guess this
      > same turmoil could be seen as religious symbols are being questions
      > earlier in the century. Religious symbols are always touchy things to
      > question in any event, but when they are "all you have" (as it were)
      > it results in full on in-fighting. However these passages might be
      > construed in "Q", it still makes sense to think about two communities
      > battling it out, and the Xn one projecting that battle back in
      > history upon Jesus.

      > With this theme in place, I wonder if the other family in-fighting
      > stories (ie. "Who is my mom, and bro, not those outside but those who
      > do God's will..."etc) might not be literary creations designed to
      > illustrate in narrative form the division that Jesus "came" to create
      > mentioned in Mt 10.

      I place Q in Galilee, north of the northern rim of the Sea of Galilee, as
      does Bill Arnal, John Kloppenborg-Verbin, Jonathan Reed (to name a few).
      I think Bill is correct that the final recension of 3Q was completed by 66
      CE (see _Jesus and the Village Scribes_ , 166). Thus the completion of
      3Q antedates the actual war, which then rules it out as the eternal *Sitz
      im Leben* behind your Q text. Besides, Bill dates 2Q, the first
      recension of Q, in which your text occurs (Q 12:53), in the time frame
      of the 40s-50s (172). That is long time before the war.

      It is noteworthy that the text speaks of intergenerational
      conflict--- father against son, son against father, mother against daughter,
      daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law,
      daughter-in-law against mother-in-law--- but does not speak of
      intragenerational conflict as in the case of Mk. 13:12, i.e. brother against
      brother. My take on this is that a situation has occurred, as a result of
      the evangelization of the Q people, in which sons and daughters, etc.,
      have responded to the "Jesus message" to the horror of their parents,
      a situation similar to the case in Jn. 9:1-41, the blind man, who once
      healed of his blindness, becomes a follower of Jesus, much to his
      parents' chagrin.

      I am not sure how much Roman oppression or the imposition of
      Greco-Roman culture on the section north of the Sea of Galilee
      would account for the hostile division between the generations of
      the various Q communities located there, though certainly, as Bill
      Arnal has made the case, the oppressive conditions and
      discombobulation of local communities' autonomy, as a result of
      Herodian intrusion in their lives via the rebuilding of Sepphoris and
      the founding of Tiberias, the centralization of power and authority
      there, and the resultant exploitation of the communities north of the
      Sea of Galilee, may have been a factor. Perhaps Bill has some
      insights on what is behind the Q text.

      You have raised a very interesting question, Steve.

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