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11447Re: [XTalk] Jesus, James et al and Their Observant Parents

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  • Ted Weeden
    Nov 7, 2002
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      Gordon Raynal wrote on Tuesday, November 05, 2002:

      > a bit of time free now for a few brief responses...
      > >
      > >Gordon, you are correct with respect to the midrash of the Isaianic
      > >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
      > >been rejected by his hometown, and Thomas is not under the influence of
      > >servant songs.
      > First, I think this saying is from HJ, but I have my doubts that it is
      > 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.)

      Gordon, I agree with you that Jesus was not self-referential. I do not see
      him pointing directly to himself. But I think it is possible that, in the
      case of the aphorism of GTh 31, he could have been repling to his critics
      in his hometown (family included) by quipping with a poverbial retort.
      To paraphrase only slightly: "Yea, and no prophet is accepted in his own
      village." In this case Jesus would not be calling himself a prophet but
      merely stating that his rejection by hometown or family is not a surprise.
      Even prophets aren't accepted in their own hometown (see essentially the
      same rationale presented by the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar (_The Five
      Gospels_, 31). Of course, this is a conjecture and only moves out of the
      range of speculation to being more likely characteristic of Jesus if it can
      be shown that he was really in conflict with the ideological bent of his
      family and Nazareth. I will be interested in your response to my case for
      that when I post it.

      > I also disagree with the JS majority that Jesus
      > was a healer (I like that little section in Hal Taussig's book on prayer
      > this for a nice little summation),

      Hal, at the end of his section on healing (_Jesus before God_, 31) seems to
      equivocate on the issue of Jesus not being a healer since he was a
      teaching sage, namely, "In any case Jesus either *performed* or inspired
      healing in relationship to his uncovering of hidden wisdom and God's
      surprising domain." I also think that too much emphasis is placed by Hal
      and others on Jesus teaching "hidden wisdom." The Thomistic Jesus, yes, but
      the historical Jesus, I do not think that characterization of his teaching
      is quite correct.

      > d 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"
      > of reaction. For those in hearing distance who knew their Nevi'im... all
      > sorts of connections might run through their minds. For those who
      > about JTB... this might raise some response to what was going on down
      > 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
      > double take. I'm simply presenting 3 sorts of responses that might be
      > aroused via that barb.

      These are, of course, possibilities. If we only knew the context in which
      Jesus uttered the saying, n'est pas?

      > >"Jesus, the Cultic Prodigal," in which I draw upon Mahlon Smith's
      > >suggesting that the Prodigal Son is an autobiographical parable, as well
      > >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
      > a woman who wouldn't let him alone:)!) Just for a bit of provacative
      > for us... in ruminations about HJ.... it might be some interesting fodder
      > 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
      > exercize. But to impute to a wisdom saying "autobiographical content" is
      > something that I don't think we have historical evidence for.

      I take the position in my forthcoming piece that James was the elder brother
      in the family. I would be interested in your response to my case, when I
      post it, for Jesus fashioning the "Prodigal" via the interdynamics of his

      > >
      > >> But that it suggests
      > >> "actual feelings" about HJ and his family? I don't think so. Indeed,
      > >> 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
      > >> that James was "a part of" the Kingdom Movement all along.
      > >
      > >If James was a part of the movement, I have difficulty understanding how
      > >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...


      > 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"...
      > 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,
      > Philemon and the Corinthian Correspondence... although I think All of
      > 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
      > 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!

      I follow your point. I think there can be vastly opposite positions held
      by persons in families without those differences leading to hostile
      division. I have also known of many families were differences, not even
      unbreachable differences, have led to the severing of relationships and the
      unwillingness to reconcile.
      > 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
      > of friends and associates... the common language is about "a ministry of
      > reconciliation" (Paul)/ "Saying peace to this house" (Q mission speech)/
      > 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
      > yes... the tart barb from Jesus! But "repudiate?"... I don't think so at
      > all... thus this group brought folks together who were peasants/
      > retainers/.... apocalyptically oriented/ wisdom oriented/
      > "spiritualist/mystically" oriented.... pious in observance... some half
      > pious and some not at all!/ some Judeans/ Samaritans/ Galileans/ folks
      > Herod Philips domain....

      As I see it, Jesus repudiates the cultic purity codes, the cultic boundary
      markers, which distinguish who is in and and who is out of God's favor
      (read: the cult's favor), in keeping with his egalitarian orientation toward
      the unqualified acceptance of the clean and unclean together in his
      kingdom vision. Again, I plan to present my case for this in the near

      > 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
      > 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].

      I am not sure how much the war caused the need for "standard proclamations."
      I doubt the war was that much of an issue among Gentile Christians, and I do
      not detect in Luke-Acts the war being the motivating factor in Luke's
      formulation of his Heilgeschichte. I do agree with you that Acts, at
      least, was written in that time frame. Richard Pervo argued for the same
      time period for Acts (110-120) at the fall meeting of the Jesus Seminar, and
      settled on the mean, 115 CE.
      > So... back to HJ... as you may remember from earlier postings here or when
      > 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
      > 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
      > sage... after all... is quite able to cast himself fictionally... if
      > part of the twist... to arouse the dialogue and thought!

      Quite so, and what better material for such parabolic casting than his own
      family experience, a la "the Prodigal"?
      > Lastly... James... like Jesus is going to be cast in a number of ways.
      > 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,
      > and even HPaul!


      > Thanks for your interest in "another sort of angle" on the Prodigal,
      > 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
      > probably argue quite healthily, but I see no reason to think that even
      > disputes as over certain purity rules would divide them away from common
      > interest.

      To be continued!

      Thank you, Gordon, for taking time to respond in a thoughtful and helpfully
      provocative way. I apologize for the delay in my reply. My schedule in
      last two days has prevented me from getting back to you before now. BTW,
      you had indicated in your post of Sunday, 11/3, that you hoped to see me at
      SBL. I will not be attending SBL this year. I am sorry that I will miss
      the opportunity to see you there.

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