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11442Re: [XTalk] Jesus, James et al and Their Observant Parents

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Nov 5, 2002
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      ----------
      >From: "Ted Weeden" <weedent@...>


      Hi Ted,

      a bit of time free now for a few brief responses...
      >
      >Gordon, you are correct with respect to the midrash of the Isaianic servant
      >songs, but the Gospel of Thomas has an authentic saying (31), in my
      >judgment, in which Jesus speaks of himself, I gather, as a prophet who has
      >been rejected by his hometown, and Thomas is not under the influence of the
      >servant songs.

      First, I think this saying is from HJ, but I have my doubts that it is self
      referential either. It surely is in the way it is framed in the Markan
      story... no doubt about that. But a). I don't think Jesus thought of
      himself as a prophet, b.) I also disagree with the JS majority that Jesus
      was a healer (I like that little section in Hal Taussig's book on prayer on
      this for a nice little summation), and c. I think this, like the rest of the
      tart aphoristic and parabolic speech works in the direction of arousing
      response in the audience... if you will... via "a huh/ what did he say" kind
      of reaction. For those in hearing distance who knew their Nevi'im... all
      sorts of connections might run through their minds. For those who thinking
      about JTB... this might raise some response to what was going on down their
      by the river. For those who had their own thoughts about "what's gonna
      happen" and their favorite authorities to back it up... this might arouse a
      double take. I'm simply presenting 3 sorts of responses that might be
      aroused via that barb.

      >I will post soon one of my sections of this developing monograph on the
      >topic
      >"Jesus, the Cultic Prodigal," in which I draw upon Mahlon Smith's article,
      >suggesting that the Prodigal Son is an autobiographical parable, as well as
      >add my own further support for his theory. I will look forward to your
      >feedback on that piece.

      I was in Santa Rosa when Mahlon presented the paper and I think this
      metaphor provides a provacative metaphor for **us** to think about HJ. I
      also think Jesus in the ditch from Good Sam is another. But this is for
      **our** hermeneutical play and I can't figure out any justification for
      selecting this over say "the Sower" or "the Unjust Judge" for being
      "autobiographical." (And hey... wouldn't that be interesting in
      implication... Jesus, a former Judge who changed his ways after dealing with
      a woman who wouldn't let him alone:)!) Just for a bit of provacative fun...
      for us... in ruminations about HJ.... it might be some interesting fodder to
      think of **him** as the elder brother who seeing his father's dealing with
      rascally younger James or Simon or Tom(Jude) or Joe, Jr. had to "learn
      forgiveness" the hard way. The point being... as ways for us to enter the
      play of parabolic speech... such mental play and associations is a valuable
      exercize. But to impute to a wisdom saying "autobiographical content" is
      something that I don't think we have historical evidence for.
      >
      >> But that it suggests
      >> "actual feelings" about HJ and his family? I don't think so. Indeed, I'd
      >> suggest that such a saying as Thomas 12, James being also known by a
      >> nickname, what Paul says of his leadership in Galatians all go to suggest
      >> that James was "a part of" the Kingdom Movement all along.
      >
      >If James was a part of the movement, I have difficulty understanding how he
      >ended up advocating the very things that Jesus repudiated. What I have
      >reference to is Jesus' dismissal of the Judean cultic establishment, its
      >purity
      >codes and its interpretation of Torah.

      A few points here...

      It being election day... let me borrow an analogy from the political
      parties. Dems, Repubs, Indeps, etc. as parties have defining
      characteristics common to and LARGE ranges of differences among each
      constiuency... thus we talk about liberal dems... to moderate... to
      conservative... etc. In the case of the original crowd associated with
      HJ... by looking at the earliest sources we have (I judge them to be: the
      Common Sayings Tradition between Q/Th... on to Q1 and "Early Thomas"... the
      Two Ways section found in the Didache... a bare narrative frame found in
      Mark... the Signs Source... and I actually think Ep. James 1-3... and the
      authentic Pauline stuff (which I count to be Galatians, Philippians, Romans,
      Philemon and the Corinthian Correspondence... although I think All of these
      as we have them are redacted texts)... all of this produced somewhere
      between the mid 30's to the mid-60's) these writings show "diverse takes,"
      "diverse references," "diverse paradigms/ emphases" for communicating the
      theology/ ethics/ social praxis of the original circle of
      friends/associates. Therein there is a common affirmation base, but also
      differences. From this I'd suggest that "the Way" (just to borrow that Acts
      title) was a pretty diverse crowd. I'd suggest that there were some major
      core agreements... some particular differences in affirmation patterns...
      and some wonderful arguments that just sort of go with religio-social
      involvement.

      And we are talking about brothers... and family! My eldest brother is a
      Barthian theologian through and through. I rather like these Jesus
      studies:)! We're both Presbyterians... but we don't always agee!

      Third... you use the language of "repudiated" and that's a bit strong for
      me. Surely a whole set of authentic aphorisms push the envelope on the
      purity issues. But as for "the center of the defining markers of this group
      of friends and associates... the common language is about "a ministry of
      reconciliation" (Paul)/ "Saying peace to this house" (Q mission speech)/ "if
      two make peace in a single house...
      mountains move" (G.Th.) "salt and peace" (from that core in Mark)/ "a
      harvest of righteousness is sown..." (Ep.James)/ "The Way of Life"
      (Didache). As harsh definitions of purity were used to divide people off...
      yes... the tart barb from Jesus! But "repudiate?"... I don't think so at
      all... thus this group brought folks together who were peasants/ destitute/
      retainers/.... apocalyptically oriented/ wisdom oriented/
      "spiritualist/mystically" oriented.... pious in observance... some half
      pious and some not at all!/ some Judeans/ Samaritans/ Galileans/ folks from
      Herod Philips domain....
      Indeed I think this accounts for the verve "of the original time"...
      accounts for the multiplicity of "framings"... accounts for all the
      rowdiness as time went along... accounts for why "standard proclamations"
      were so needed after the war (and reactions against them blew up!)... and
      accounts for the early moves towards collecting what would fit together
      (yes, Galatians and Ep. of James could be saved, but not some of the wilder
      Gnostic stuff). [Just one side-bar here... I think this also accounts for
      Luke-Acts which I have to place circa 110 to 120 trying to "get the story
      straight].

      So... back to HJ... as you may remember from earlier postings here or when I
      used to post on the Westar group... I'm confident about a collection of
      aphorisms and parables from HJ... confident about the dining milieu and that
      the above mentioned "center constitution" for Jesus and friends. Beyond
      that I just don't see the data for such as historical assurance that Jesus
      was being self referential in this parable as opposed to that one. A dandy
      sage... after all... is quite able to cast himself fictionally... if that's
      part of the twist... to arouse the dialogue and thought!

      Lastly... James... like Jesus is going to be cast in a number of ways. The
      Thomas and later gnostic trajectory will claim him. He will be right in
      their with the apocalyptic oriented folks. He will be remembered as
      concerned about Purity. He will be remembered for his wisdom. I don't
      think we know too much about HJ. I think we know less about HJames, HPeter
      and even HPaul!

      Thanks for your interest in "another sort of angle" on the Prodigal, issues
      of Purity and what this all has to do with the late 20's among a group of
      provacative friend and family! My susupicion is that James and Jesus could
      probably argue quite healthily, but I see no reason to think that even such
      disputes as over certain purity rules would divide them away from common
      interest.

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
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