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Trafford & Davies Re: Written Q

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  • bjtraff
    ... Actually, I would say that they are the most important thing Jesus did in the minds of Paul, the evangelists, and all of the other NT authors, as well as
    Message 1 of 78 , Jun 2, 2002
      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "mwgrondin" <mwgrondin@c...> wrote:
      > --- Brian Trafford wrote:
      >Perhaps, Bob is right, and we should call [resurrection] a
      >biographical "event", rather than an "act" of Jesus. In any case,
      >the single most important things Jesus did was to die, and then to
      >rise again from the dead ...

      > I think what you mean to say is that *Paul* regarded these as the
      > most important events in J's life-story, not that you or we do.

      Actually, I would say that they are the most important thing Jesus
      did in the minds of Paul, the evangelists, and all of the other NT
      authors, as well as the Christian church that arose from the efforts
      of these men (and others, of course).

      >{Snip} ...For him (Paul), Jesus was put
      > to death, and then was "raised" by God - both things that happened
      > to him, not things that he "did" in the proper sense of that word.

      I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree here. I
      believe that Jesus himself came to see his mission as being one of a
      suffering, and even dying servant of God (on the model of Isaiah 53,
      ect). This provides a coherent model within which we can explain the
      earliest Christian writings, as the message being given (namely that
      Jesus had died for the sins of those who believed in him/God) came
      from the mind of Jesus. Now, I cannot prove this from historical
      critical methodology of course, but it does seem to be plausible and
      at least as probable as other models I have seen put forward. One
      other advantage it has over other theories is that it does not
      require the belief in some kind of vast conspiracy run by persons
      unknown who somehow managed to highjack the Jesus movement and turn
      it into this belief system at a later date. As Davies notes, this
      would have had to happen quickly, and early, and without a trace of
      resistance by anyone within that movement. Most interesting of all,
      this "take over" (assuming that is what happened, of course) occurred
      without the benefit of any kind of state or church power of any real

      As for your semantic quibble, I cannot help you with this, as I have
      sought to demonstrate that some of the core (in fact, THE core)
      material contained within the Gospels was preserved early within the
      movement we now call Christianity. Davies wishes to dispute this. I
      am unsure if you do as well, but you seem to accept, as I do, that
      there were early traditions, and if Davies accepts this then I will
      be quite content.

      >You're making use of a very loose and metaphorical sense of the
      >word 'do', according to which we might say that one of the things
      >that Jesus "did" was to get sentenced by Pilate, or to have his robe
      >tugged by the woman with the twelve-year issue of blood. Would you
      >count those also as things that Jesus "did"?

      Martyrdom is certainly something one can "do" for oneself, though it
      is not always the case. If you can demonstrate that Jesus had no
      wish to be executed, but sought instead to not be killed, then I
      would welcome your evidence. As for the healing of the woman with
      the flow of blood, this too was something Jesus was said to have
      done, but is clearly, at least to me, of less significance than his
      passion, death and resurrection. After all, if he was just another
      healer, then we almost certainly would not be talking about him, and
      more than we talk about Apollonius or Honi.

      > Or, to take a more
      > mundane example, one of the things that I occasionally "do" in this
      > sense is to get my foot stepped on by someone else. You must see
      > that this loose sense of the word 'do' obliterates the distinction
      > between active and passive - between doing something and having
      > something done to you.

      I understand fully that you do not think that Jesus' death was one of
      the things he did. I happen to believe that this was one of his
      acts, and I have no idea how to resolve the impasse. Perhaps we must
      simply agree to disagree.

      >Nor is that distinction idle - it's very
      >important to Paul, for example, that Jesus allows certain things to
      >happen to him. To put himself to death, or to raise himself from the
      >dead, would be entirely antithetical to Pauline thinking.


      > As anxious
      > as you are to make your major point, I hope you'll pay some
      > attention to this relatively minor point, since it has, after all,
      > been the source of some confusion as to what you were claiming with
      > respect to Paul.

      Hopefully the confusion is clearing up, especially as my contention
      has not been so much on which traditions were preserved early, as
      that we can determine that some of those traditions were preserved
      prior to the composition of the Gospels. What I need to learn at
      this point is if Davies grants this much.

      > > ... both of these events/acts predates the Gospels, and exists
      > > in a known extant source that predates them. Thus, Davies entire
      > > thesis that the evangelists pretty much made up whatever they
      > > wished from whole cloth strikes me as suspect.

      > Well, I could be wrong, but I don't see Davies or Arnal as denying
      > that stories of J's death and resurrection preceded the written
      > gospels.

      I have not had any disagreements with Arnal in this thread. As for
      Davies, I see this as a step by step process. The first step is to
      acknowledge that some traditions were preserved before Mark et al
      started to write. We can then look at specifics and perhaps agree on
      more traditions than merely those that deal with the death and
      resurrection accounts clearly offered in Paul and Hebrews.

      > > Maybe [the evangelists] were just filling in minor details that
      > > other early Christians did not think about much, but that seems
      > > to be very unlikely. After all, what did these folks talk about
      > > when they got together? ;-)

      > Dunno. Seems to have been a heck of a lot of disputes about a
      > "message" that we now think was pretty clear and unambiguous.

      One of the first things we learn about scholars is that they can
      dispute just about anything. The issue becomes how well the
      arguments for various disputes actually hold up.

      > > I have been very clear as to what acts of Jesus I see as being
      > > contained in Paul, so I do not see how anyone could, or should,
      > > misconstrue what I have claimed.

      > Well, the thing is, ya don't get to use words any way you want to,
      > even if you're clear about it.

      As I am willing to change the "words" from "acts" to "events" my hope
      is we can move beyond the semantic disputes and look at the evidence
      itself. As for preserved "words", I think the Eucharistic formula
      holds up rather well as an early attested tradition.

      > > Let's pause here, as I have not claimed that the Eucharistic
      > > formula originates with Jesus himself. What is certain is that
      > > it was preserved by the first Christians long before the
      > > evangelists began penning their respective Gospels. From this I
      > > think it is probable that these same people had other traditions
      > > that they had preserved, and later appear in those same Gospels.
      > > Further, from Source Criticism it does seem possible to detect
      > > some of those things. Now all I need to find out is why Steve
      > > doubts all of this, especially as it requires him to dismiss hard
      > > evidence as we see in Paul here.

      > OK, I get your point now. But the seeming ease with which acts and
      > sayings were attributed to Jesus seems to cut both ways - if it
      > facilitated the development of new oral traditions, it also must
      > have facilitated the development of new written traditions. We see
      > exactly this with John, who goes against what was presumably a well-
      > known written tradition.

      Interestingly, I am less certain than you are that John actually runs
      against the "well-known" written tradition, so much as he expands on
      it, and shifts the focus. Many, for example, note how much John
      looks like Paul. In fact, John seems to look more like Paul in places
      than do the Synoptics.

      In any case, I am glad that you get my original point. Sometimes it
      is the nature of email exchanges to misunderstand one another in the
      beginning, then with additional dialogue, and patience, mutual
      understanding takes place. That is what I am hoping to achieve with
      Steve as well.

      > So why could Mark not have gone against
      > even a well-known oral tradition? As long as your Jesus is _more_
      > godlike than the earlier one, you're on pretty safe ground. On the
      > Davies model, however, the pre-synoptic one was more godlike than
      > the synoptic one, which seems to violate this principle.

      Anything "could" have happened, but we must look for what probably
      happened. It is rare to hear anyone suggesting that the Synoptics
      contain a higher Christology than does Paul, and I do not think that
      you are advocating such a thing. But I would argue that the
      Synoptics, and even Mark, do not "go against" previous tradition. He
      gives it a narrative context, and fills in many of the details we
      have not seen in earlier documents (namely Paul, but also Hebrews and
      James), and we can always debate his motives for doing this. We can
      even debate his sources. But to argue, as Davies appears to have
      argued, that Mark made the whole thing pretty much up out of his head
      strikes me as highly implausible.

      I have given my own take on what might have happened in this case,
      but have refrained from going into much detail as this will make the
      posts quite unmanageable.

      > [Mike]:
      >(2) you respond with Paul's recitation of something that he "got
      >from the Lord", but (3) a claim that someone got something "from
      >the Lord" _after the Lord's death_ would be taken by at least some
      >of us here (and almost everyone in post-foundational Christendom,
      >i.e. from about 150 onwards) as a sure sign that it _was_ "made up"
      >Please do not insert your philosophical presuppositions into the
      >I don't understand. What "philosophical presupposition" have I
      >inserted into the discussion?

      I had assumed that when you said "some of us here" you were including
      yourself in this group. The objections of this group were based on
      the assumption that early Christians were more interested in making
      stuff up about Jesus than they were in preserving actual acts and
      words of the man they called their God. If you are not a part of
      this group, then I apologize, but I still reject such objections, as
      they are based on philosophical grounds, not historical critical
      ones. Speaking only for myself, I believe that traditions passed
      down from the original apostles were seen by the earliest followers
      of Jesus as coming directly from the Lord, whether it was from oral
      or written tradition, so calling something received "from the Lord"
      could mean a variety of things, including direct personal revelation,
      but also sermons and stories related by the original disciples.


      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    • Ted Weeden
      ... the ... and ... Rikk, you appear to be referring to James D. G. Dunn s statement in his footnote in _Jesus Remembered_ (207, n. 182), namely: Bailey s
      Message 78 of 78 , Apr 26, 2004
        Bob Schacht wrote on April 22:

        > > We have had a number of extensive sessions on oral tradition on XTalk;
        > > there was a special seminar with Jimmy Dunn, and Ted Weeden offered an
        > > extensive critique of Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral
        > > tradition. While Weeden's critique has exposed serious flaws in Bailey's
        > > argument in support of his theory, that doesn't necessarily mean that
        > > idea of informal controlled oral tradition is not relevant to the First
        > > Century in general and especially to the period between the crucifixion
        > > the composition of the Gospels.

        Rikk Watts wrote on Monday, April 26, 2004, in response to Bob Schacht:

        > Bob,
        > You might want to check Dunn's assessment of Ted's criticisms in his JESUS
        > REMEMBERED. Not very impressed.

        Rikk, you appear to be referring to James D. G. Dunn's statement in his
        footnote in _Jesus Remembered_ (207, n. 182), namely: "Bailey's claims
        regarding the stability of the stories told about Hogg have been seriously
        challenged, particularly by T. Weeden in
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/8301 and /8730. In
        personal correspondence Bailey has expressed his regret at some
        overstatement in regard to the Hogg tradition, but insists that his
        hypothesis is based primarily on his own experience of the haflat samar.
        Weeden's further critique of Bailey's anecdotes and their significance
        ["Bailey's Theory of Oral Tradition: a Flawed Theory, Part II"] misses much
        of Bailey's point, is unduly censorious, and weakens Bailey's case hardly at

        Let me provide a bit of background (for you and interested listers) to Jimmy
        Dunn's comment and the state of my critique of Bailey since the XTalk posts
        to which Dunn refers. Dunn presented a paper, "Jesus in Oral Memory: the
        Initial Stages of the Jesus Tradition," on an on-line seminar (arranged as I
        recall by Jeffrey Gibson), J_D_G_DunnSeminar@yahoogroups.com, in which list
        members of XTalk and members of other lists participated during the latter
        part of April and the first of May, 2001. In his paper Dunn declared his
        advocacy of Kenneth Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral tradition as
        a model to explain how the Jesus oral tradition was preserved in its
        integrity and authenicity in the years following Easter and up to the time
        of the composition of the Synoptic Gospels. Ken Olson in a response to Dunn
        raised questions about the reliability of Kenneth Bailey in accurately
        representing his only extant written source upon which he is heavily
        dependent for the validity of his theory. Olson's reservations led me to
        read Bailey's two articles ("Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the
        Synoptic Gospels, " _Asia Journal of Theology_, 5 [1991], 34-54; and "Middle
        Eastern Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels," _The Expository Times_,
        106 [1994-95], 363-367), in which he sets forth his theory, and I read as
        well the extant source in question, Rena Hogg's _A Master-Builder on the
        Nile_, her biography of her father John Hogg. In reading both Bailey's
        articles I found Ken Olson's reservations concerning Bailey's accuracy in
        representing Rena Hogg's anecdotes about her father to be well grounded. I,
        then, set about to write two essays, to which Jimmy Dunn refers, in which I
        challenged Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral tradition as a theory
        that is seriously flawed.

        Dunn became aware of my XTalk challenge to Baileys' theory via Jeffrey
        Gibson, and Jeffrey then arranged for Jimmy Dunn and I to exchange posts
        privately, an exchange that I found beneficial. I have since revised by
        critique of Bailey and I think considerably strengthened it. Dunn has not
        seen the revision as yet, though I have offered to send it to him and he, in
        response, has indicated he would like to see it. Since Bob Schacht had
        engaged me on XTalk with respect to my initial critique of Bailey, and
        raised himself some questions about my critique, I recently sent him my
        revised critique off-list earlier this month and invited his critical
        feedback on the revision. His feedback and suggestions have been very
        helpful and I am making further revisions as a result of them. Bob will
        need to speak for himself, if he wishes to do so, with respect to my case
        against Bailey's evidentiary support for his theory.

        Rikk, I would be happy to send you (off-list --- and to anyone else who is
        interested), my current revision to determine for yourself, quite apart from
        Dunn, whether my challenge to the validity of Baileys' theory, as he has
        presented it in his two articles with his evidentiary support, is well
        founded. Rather than summarily dismissing my critique by stating that Dunn
        was not impressed by it, I think it is only fair that you explain to me, and
        XTalk list members with whom you have registered your judgment, why your
        cryptic, perjorative statement, citing Dunn as your authority, renders my
        critique of Bailey's theory without foundation and merit.

        Best regards,.

        Ted Weeden
        Theodore J Weeden, Sr.
        Ph.D. (Claremont), retired
        Appleton, WI
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