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Re: [XTalk] Historical Jesus Theories: circularity

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  • Steve Black
    ... I think my post wasn t clear. I have no real doubts that Paul knew about the Historical Jesus - I was thinking specifically of Paul s knowledge of Jesus
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 21, 2002
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      >Steve said:
      >The problem with this debate is that it is a classic example of
      >arguing from silence. Both sides have shown how nimble they can be in
      >their arguments - but neither has any basis for their assertions
      >other than - "well it kind of makes sense doesn't it?" It seems to me
      >that both sides have somewhat coherent arguments - but the *facts*
      >are simply too sparse!
      >[snip]
      >Tony Buglass said
      >I don't accept that this is a circular argument, or an argument from
      >silence. It is true that Paul only makes occasional references to
      >the historical Jesus, but there are enough references for us to
      >conclude that Jesus' historical existence was not unknown or
      >irrelevant to Paul:
      >Jesus was born of a woman (although there is no reference to a virgin birth);
      >He was born under the Law (Gal.4:4);
      >He was a descendant of David (Rom.1:3-4);
      >He had brothers (1 Cor.9:5; Gal.1:19);
      >Jesus had followers, including the Twelve (1 Cor.15:3);
      >He ministered to the Jews (Rom.15:8);
      >There are allusions to his character of meekness and compassion (eg
      >2 Cor.10:1);
      >Paul knows about the institution of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor.11:23-26);
      >He was crucified and buried (1 Cor.15:4);
      >His death was brought about by the Jews (1 Th.2:15).
      >It is clear that Paul did know that Jesus had been a historical
      >person, that his ministry had taken place, and that the salvation
      >events upon which he reflected and preached were actual events
      >rather than fables.

      I think my post wasn't clear. I have no real doubts that Paul knew
      about the Historical Jesus - I was thinking specifically of Paul's
      knowledge of Jesus' *teaching*. I didn't say that in the post so it
      is not strange that you didn't pick it up.

      >
      >Steve wrote:
      >I *certainly* think
      >it unsound to build anything on what we imagine Paul's oral teaching
      >included - there is no control at all in that!!!
      >Tony Buglass said
      >I agree that we can't put any weight on what he may or may not have
      >taught orally, because there is simply no evidence. However, given
      >the above, it is clear that Paul did know something of the life and
      >teaching of HJ, therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that this
      >was part of his teaching and ministry in his initial mission and
      >church planting. That being the case, it is more than likely that
      >he did receive some of the facts from those who were there, like
      >Peter. It is equally likely that the traditions which the form
      >critics assure us were formed and transmitted among the churches
      >were available and circulating in the churches where he worked.
      >Perhaps he learned some of the stories from those whom he taught?
      >Hypothesis, sure. Inference, definitely. But I'd say reasonable
      >inference.

      Once again, I see no reason to doubt that Paul knew (a little, at
      least) about the life of Jesus - but I see less reason to be sure
      that he knew about the teachings of Jesus. Your argument *seems*
      likely enough - but it is simply not reflected in the facts as we
      have them in Paul's writings. *If* Paul DID know the teachings of
      Jesus, a reading of his letters suggests that he didn't think about
      them too much. There are a few indicators of such a knowledge - such
      divorce in 1 Cor. - so it does seem likely that Paul may have had a
      minimal knowledge of Jesus' teachings. The absence of Paul's use of
      Jesus' teachings thus could mean no knowledge of them (except for a
      bit here or there - like divorce in 1 Cor.), or a general lack of
      interest in them because he had his *own* kerygma.

      My concern with arguing from silence is so reconstructing the
      scenario with "invented" background info so that a Paul who knew and
      daily used the teachings of Jesus in his ministry emerges. This Paul
      is the one argued from silence that I was addressing. This can only
      be done on an oral level where there are no controls. Paul's
      *letters*, as inadequate as they may be, must function as the primary
      controls for all our reconstructions of Paul and his ministry.

      --
      Steve Black
      Vancouver School of Theology
      Vancouver, BC
      ---

      Once in a while you can get shown the light
      in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

      -Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS
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