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Re: [XTalk] Scholars and the eschatology of Jesus

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Brian, I m more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests with Chilton s _Pure Kingdom: Jesus Vision of God_, and David Flusser s work, such
    Message 1 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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      At 03:26 PM 7/4/2002 +0000, bjtraff wrote:
      >First, thanks to Bob for recommending Patterson's book, as it does
      >sound like an interesting read. I am curious how it compares to
      >Bruce Chilton's _Rabbi Jesus_, as Chilton, too, focuses heavily on
      >Jesus' role as a disenfranchised outsider in 1st Century Palestine.

      Brian,
      I'm more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests with
      Chilton's _Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God_, and David Flusser's work,
      such as _Jesus_ (1997, with R. Steven Notley)


      >At the same time, I was struck by something in Charlesworth's review
      >of Patterson's book:
      >
      > >From the review found at
      >http://www.bookreviews.org/Reviews/1563382288.html
      >
      >"Patterson reflects the misconception of the Jesus Seminar that Jesus
      >was not eschatological (chap. 5). This has become a joke in the minds
      >of many German experts. Surely Chilton is right to stress that Jesus'
      >vision of God is "irreducibly eschatological" (Pure Kingdom: Jesus'
      >Vision of God). This is clearly the position of almost all engaged in
      >Jesus research in the United States who are not involved in the Jesus
      >Seminar."
      >
      >Now, I happen to believe that Jesus did have a highly developed
      >eschatology, but I found Charlesworth's claim to be rather extraordinary.
      >
      >Is the view that Jesus was not eschatological confined pretty much to
      >those in the Jesus Seminar? And further, does this mean that the JS
      >view is pretty much discreditted, especially in Germany/Europe?...

      I think it is better to put this comment in the context of Peter Kirby's
      recently discussed website with its survey of Jesus books, which includes a
      number of important American eschatological views of Jesus. In fact, I'd
      even put it in a wider framework, in which it might be helpful to invoke
      Schweitzer's well:

      Since the Renaissance, Jesus research has looked for a Renaissance man: a
      teacher, a man of knowledge. The early 20th century version of this was
      Jesus the Teacher; the late 20th century version was Jesus the Sage. But it
      was Schweitzer-- a German!-- who saw through this and understood the
      eschatological side of Jesus. There are plenty of American Schweitzerians--
      Ehrmann and Allison come to mind-- who stand in that tradition despite the
      renaissance. One might even invoke the criterion of dissimilarity-- to say
      that Jesus was eschatological is counter-cultural in the modern age,
      because the only eschatological prophets today are regarded as cranks and
      wierdos. Therefore in an odd sort of way, the Jesus the Sage crowd
      represent an effort to "save" Jesus for modern times by seeing him in terms
      of someone who would be a credible modern hero: a teacher, a man of wit and
      wisdom. So in this sense, the Jesus Seminar can actually be viewed as
      conservative! Ehrmann and Allison, on the other hand, view Jesus in
      terms that make absolutely no sense in modern terms-- unless you are a
      Christian fundamentalist, in which case an eschatological Jesus is OK
      because he is Different and stands outside of the Normal anyway. So
      although Ehrmann and Allison might not be viewed as congenial to Christian
      conservatives as N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington, they are nevertheless
      willing to conceive of Jesus in terms that are completely out of sync with
      modern cultural heroic ideals.

      I don't know if this makes any sense, but as is usual in such cases, both
      sides have seized on a piece of the truth.

      Bob
    • bjtraff
      ... I suppose the question begs as to why Patterson does not reference these other works if they address similar themes. After all, if we want to discover
      Message 2 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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        --- In crosstalk2@y..., Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...> wrote:

        >I'm more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests
        >with Chilton's _Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God_, and David
        >Flusser's work, such as _Jesus_ (1997, with R. Steven Notley)

        I suppose the question begs as to why Patterson does not reference
        these other works if they address similar themes. After all, if we
        want to "discover" the God of Jesus, it would make sense to compare
        one's own thesis to that of other scholars that have blazed this
        trail before.

        I wrote:
        >Now, I happen to believe that Jesus did have a highly developed
        >eschatology, but I found Charlesworth's claim to be rather
        >extraordinary.
        >Is the view that Jesus was not eschatological confined pretty much to
        >those in the Jesus Seminar? And further, does this mean that the JS
        >view is pretty much discreditted, especially in Germany/Europe?...

        Bob replied:
        >I think it is better to put this comment in the context of Peter
        >Kirby's recently discussed website with its survey of Jesus books,
        >which includes a number of important American eschatological views
        >of Jesus. In fact, I'd even put it in a wider framework, in which it
        >might be helpful to invoke Schweitzer's well:
        [Snip]

        Actually, I was more interested in knowing if there has been a
        broader survey of scholarly trends in which an eschatological Jesus
        is affirmed (or rejected) by the great majority of scholars.
        Charlesworth certainly seems to think so, yet if you read Borg, or
        Crossan, or Funk there seems to be little room for such a view of
        Jesus in modern scholarly circles. Does one school of thought
        dominate studies of the historical Jesus today in either Europe or
        North America? And if so, which one(s)?

        As for the belief that eschatology is rejected (by some) on the
        grounds that it offends their modern theological or ideological
        belief systems, this strikes me as interesting, but beside the
        point. The same holds for those that seem to think that Jesus was an
        end times prophet because they, themselves believe in the "End
        Times". After all, any historical inquiry is going to focus on the
        evidence and where it points us. Is it most probable that Jesus
        preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, and some kind of end
        times? Or is it more likely that the evangelists, Paul, and other NT
        authors take their own eschatalogical beliefs, and attribute them
        either directly to Jesus, or at least to the core beliefs of his
        earliest followers? What are the strength and weaknesses of the
        respective arguments?

        In any case, I am curious, how widely accepted are the respective
        views of an eschatological and non-eschatalogical Jesus? Ehrman, for
        example, has always struck me as a bit of a maverick in the field. Is
        he more mainstream in his belief on this subject, however, than Borg
        or Crossan (or even Wright and Witherington)? I do wonder.

        Peace,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • Mark Goodacre
        ... Here s the conclusion to Allison s article, A Plea for a Thoroughgoing Eschatology The eschatological Jesus is theologically troubling . . . the truth,
        Message 3 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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          On 4 Jul 2002 at 9:43, Bob Schacht wrote:

          > Ehrmann and Allison, on the other hand, view Jesus in terms that make
          > absolutely no sense in modern terms-- unless you are a Christian
          > fundamentalist, in which case an eschatological Jesus is OK because he
          > is Different and stands outside of the Normal anyway. So although
          > Ehrmann and Allison might not be viewed as congenial to Christian
          > conservatives as N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington, they are
          > nevertheless willing to conceive of Jesus in terms that are completely
          > out of sync with modern cultural heroic ideals.

          Here's the conclusion to Allison's article, "A Plea for a
          Thoroughgoing Eschatology"

          'The eschatological Jesus is theologically troubling . . . the truth,
          however, is like God: we can run from it but it is always there. I
          myself do not know what to make of the eschatological Jesus. I am,
          for theological reasons, unedified by the thought that, in a matter
          seemingly so crucial, a lie has been walking around for two thousand
          years while the truth has only recently put on its shoes. But there
          it is.'

          There is something in Allison's tone here that I find admirable, even
          moving, and it comes closer to the pathos of Schweitzer than anything
          else I've read in recent Historical Jesus scholarship.

          Mark
          -----------------------------
          Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
          Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
          University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
          Birmingham B15 2TT UK

          http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
          http://NTGateway.com
        • Rikk E. Watts
          ... Out of the mouths of babes... (Brian, definitely no offence intended); you ve just hit Charlesworth s nail on the head for him. I ll keep grinning all
          Message 4 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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            on 7/4/02 1:37 PM, bjtraff at bj_traff@... wrote:

            > .... yet if you read Borg, or
            > Crossan, or Funk there seems to be little room for such a view of
            > Jesus in modern scholarly circles.
            >
            Out of the mouths of babes... (Brian, definitely no offence intended);
            you've just hit Charlesworth's nail on the head for him.

            I'll keep grinning all afternoon :)

            Rikk

            Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
            Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
            Regent College
            5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Bob Webb
            ... In a 1986 article, Marcus Borg reports a survey in which he polled scholars on the question of the eschatological Jesus, both within the Jesus Seminar and
            Message 5 of 19 , Jul 5, 2002
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              Brian wrote:

              >In any case, I am curious, how widely accepted are the respective
              >views of an eschatological and non-eschatalogical Jesus? Ehrman, for
              >example, has always struck me as a bit of a maverick in the field. Is
              >he more mainstream in his belief on this subject, however, than Borg
              >or Crossan (or even Wright and Witherington)? I do wonder.

              In a 1986 article, Marcus Borg reports a survey in which he polled scholars
              on the question of the eschatological Jesus, both within the Jesus Seminar
              and outside it (Historical Jesus Section at SBL). The question was:

              "Do you think Jesus expected the end of the world in his generation, i.e.,
              in the lifetime of at least some of his contemporaries?"

              Four possible responses were allowed:
              - strongly think so
              - inclined to think so
              - inclined to think not
              - strongly do not think so

              Jesus Seminar results (21 responses):
              - 6
              - 4
              - 5
              - 6

              Historical Jesus Section in SBL (18 responses):
              - 3
              - 3
              - 6
              - 6

              Source: Borg, Marcus J. "A Temperate Case for a Non-Eschatological Jesus."
              SBLSP 25 (1986) 521-35.

              Of course, this immediately raises the question of Borg's definition of
              eschatological as "imminent end of the world". I would think this skews the
              results. I would think many would answer "don't think so" to this question
              and still view Jesus as eschatological.

              Bob Webb.



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            • Mark Goodacre
              ... Good point. After all, one of the things Tom Wright is so insistent on is that Jesus did not expect the imminent end of the world, yet at the same time he
              Message 6 of 19 , Jul 5, 2002
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                On 5 Jul 2002 at 7:43, Bob Webb wrote:

                > Of course, this immediately raises the question of Borg's definition
                > of eschatological as "imminent end of the world". I would think this
                > skews the results. I would think many would answer "don't think so" to
                > this question and still view Jesus as eschatological.

                Good point. After all, one of the things Tom Wright is so insistent
                on is that Jesus did not expect the imminent end of the world, yet at
                the same time he regards himself as strongly advocating an
                eschatological Jesus.

                Mark
                -----------------------------
                Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
                Birmingham B15 2TT UK

                http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                http://NTGateway.com
              • Bob Schacht
                ... It has wider implications than this, if we want to understand the growth and development of the Church in the early centuries, because such questions can
                Message 7 of 19 , Jul 6, 2002
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                  At 12:02 PM 7/4/2002 -0400, you wrote:

                  >I am bothered by statements such as his aim being to "show how scholars have
                  >come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and what these
                  >conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to take
                  >seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
                  >worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?"
                  >
                  >While I appreciate that the results of historical criticism must have
                  >repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals,

                  It has wider implications than this, if we want to understand the growth
                  and development of the Church in the early centuries, because such
                  questions can help us understand what motivated early Christians.

                  >this kind of talk makes it seem, at least to me, like Patterson thinks
                  >critics such as
                  >himself *have* found a "Rosetta stone" for understanding ourselves as human
                  >beings with basic psychological needs that theology helps satisfy. At times
                  >I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at least in
                  >modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning as a
                  >"personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing that
                  >just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of social
                  >enlightenment, reconciling society with God. Perhaps this explains the
                  >modern fascination with interpretations of Jesus as a prophetic reformer or
                  >wandering cynic-like social critic. Is it a coincidence that to many critics
                  >Jesus seems more and more to resemble a beatnik of the 50's, Allen Ginsberg
                  >of the 60's, and social radicals of the 1960's & 1970's, all rolled into
                  >one? It appears that we are simply gazing at our own reflections in the
                  >well, and a reflection that is at least 30 years old!

                  Much older than that, since the observation is Schweitzer's, no?

                  You then quote me:

                  > >>He also argues that "the search for the historical Jesus should not be
                  >about replacing the biblical stories with history, throwing out the
                  >'confessionally biased gospels' in favor of the 'indisputable facts of
                  >history'." (pp. 8-9). Instead, he argues that we need the confessional
                  >elements to understand what Jesus *meant* to his followers.<<
                  >
                  >And what Jesus meant to the authors of Christian literature is all we
                  >actually can "know" about him. If anything about a real Jesus is to be
                  >found, it must be deduced from the rhetoric by which that understanding was
                  >framed. But to speak of their understanding of Jesus in ethical terms, as if
                  >it has tremendously deep meaning for all humankind in all ages, is "social
                  >gospel" ideology, pure and simple.

                  I think what you may be missing is that Patterson's method is meant to
                  parse the rhetoric into its various components, some of which have to do
                  with meaning, and others of which may reflect history.

                  >...I say, if he wants to be all soft and fuzzy, move Patterson's books to the
                  >"Inspirational" shelf along with Og Mandino.
                  >
                  >Respectfully,
                  >
                  >Dave Hindley
                  >Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                  I think this does not fairly characterize Patterson's book. Perhaps you
                  have mistaken my commendation of the warm and fuzzy parts for the sum total
                  of his effort. But Patterson, after all, is/was a member of the Jesus
                  Seminar, and uses as the basis of his discussion the red and pink sayings
                  from The Five Gospels.

                  Bob
                • David C. Hindley
                  ... criticism must have repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals], if we want to understand the growth and development of the Church in the
                  Message 8 of 19 , Jul 6, 2002
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                    Robert Schacht says:

                    >>It has wider implications than this [i.e., that the results of historical
                    criticism must have
                    repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals], if we want to
                    understand the growth and development of the Church in the early centuries,
                    because such questions can help us understand what motivated early
                    Christians.<<

                    I doubt that we are going to discover how ancients answered questions like:
                    "Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?" in the way Patterson
                    would like us to. I am even doubtful the ancients would have asked these
                    questions in the form some of these take. "Who is God?" should be "Which
                    God?" One of the others is pretty cut & dried: "Who am I?" "Why, you are a
                    low-level retainer of me, an elite big-wig, mainly because you are a
                    non-inheriting son with no land to farm, and you can't learn a trade, so get
                    back to work."

                    The middle two, however, might be better asked as "Is this all there is?"
                    How various communities answered that question might be illuminated by the
                    study of Thomas and other early Christian documents. Yet the POV of Thomas
                    does not appear to be reflected strongly in early Christian theology,
                    including even the early Christian gnostic circles. It is a side track to
                    the mainline, but there is this strange modern insistence in thinking of it
                    as an important marshalling yard to the mainline. Why?

                    >>Much older than that, since the observation is Schweitzer's, no?<<

                    I was speaking of the modern reflections. Schweitzer, who popularized the
                    image in the well imagery, saw Jesus as a teacher of a messianic secret, but
                    not as a wandering radical social critic (at least as far as I can recall
                    off the top of my head). The well, to Schweitzer, was his commentary upon
                    the character of the then-modern "Liberal Lives of Jesus.' He felt they
                    reflected the bias and ideologies of the humanist liberal critics who wrote
                    them more than the actual life and teachings of an historical Jesus. Of
                    course that did not stop Schweitzer from doing the same thing himself with
                    his messianic secret hypothesis.

                    A couple years ago I read a magazine article on management strategy at large
                    corporations (since I work for one then as well as now). It said that the
                    buzz-words used by high-level management types usually turn out to be
                    technical terms used in cutting-edge trade journals coined about 10 years
                    earlier. The reason, I suspected, was that the high-level corporate leaders
                    were attempting to interpret circumstances prevailing in their own time by
                    using descriptive terms they heard of (but did not actually learn formally,
                    as no school is *that* "cutting-edge") in their business school graduate
                    programs 10 years prior.

                    I say, look at the social trends and popular ideas of the days when modern
                    critics were in undergraduate and graduate school, and you will find the
                    ideas that permeate their interpretations today. Not that there's anything
                    *wrong* with that <said while taking a step back>, but I feel the 60's
                    radical intellectual interpretation still dominant today is over-done and
                    ready for replacement. All the rough edges of the revolutionary Jesus (of S.
                    G. F. Brandon and some others) have been sanded off and Jesus has now been
                    polished into a caricature of a university professor, but it is all getting
                    quite worn out. Now if we stripped off the old polish and brought up the
                    grain, we might have another go at shaping the idea of an eschatological
                    Jesus ...

                    Respectfully,

                    Dave Hindley
                    Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                  • sdavies0
                    ... there is? ... by the ... Thomas ... theology, ... track to ... thinking of it ... Well, I think there s an answer to that question. Let s take your own
                    Message 9 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@c...> wrote:
                      > The middle two, however, might be better asked as "Is this all
                      there is?"
                      > How various communities answered that question might be illuminated
                      by the
                      > study of Thomas and other early Christian documents. Yet the POV of
                      Thomas
                      > does not appear to be reflected strongly in early Christian
                      theology,
                      > including even the early Christian gnostic circles. It is a side
                      track to
                      > the mainline, but there is this strange modern insistence in
                      thinking of it
                      > as an important marshalling yard to the mainline. Why?

                      Well, I think there's an answer to that question. Let's take your own
                      observations:

                      > At times
                      > I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at
                      least in
                      > modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning
                      as a
                      > "personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing
                      that
                      > just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of
                      social
                      > enlightenment, reconciling society with God.

                      I think this is quite true, although I suspect it applies to the
                      USA specifically. There is a third wing on the dove, and that's the
                      New Age, the Spiritual Questers, the folks who have become fed up for
                      good with the Christian Church of the two sorts and who want
                      something else to massage their spiritual goodness with.
                      Those folks are still Christian from their childhood training and so
                      for them the POV of Thomas is very reassuring.

                      As our very Stephen Patterson took pains to demonstrate, in
                      "The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus" book the Gospel of Thomas is
                      independent of the Canonical scriptures. It is probably
                      first century in date.
                      This fact is strong evidence against the
                      common presumption that because Mark and its revisions are
                      in the canon therefore Mark and its
                      revisions are the only possible ways of viewing Jesus (pace half of
                      Crosstalk). Thus as it becomes clearer that the canonical scriptures
                      are a particular point of view (or related set of points of view)
                      chosen by people who, we have reason to think, hated and
                      suppressed the POV of Thomas (cf. Irenaeus)
                      Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that
                      Jesus was not either an American Social Gospel Protestant, or
                      an American Born Again Protestant… but Jesus may have been
                      an American New Age Spiritual Quester.

                      That's why Thomas assumes such importance to some. Just as
                      prootexts from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount become the
                      essential HJ to the Social Gospelers, and the Born Agginers
                      pick prooftexts from Paul, so the New Agers find in Thomas their
                      prooftexts of choice.

                      Oh, incidentally, I've revised and cleaned up the
                      Gospel of Thomas Homepage, especially in light of
                      the fact that Stigmata the godawful movie is showing up on TV.

                      http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html

                      Steve Davies
                    • David C. Hindley
                      Steven, ... Questers, the folks who have become fed up for good with the Christian Church of the two sorts and who want something else to massage their
                      Message 10 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                        Steven,

                        >>There is a third wing on the dove, and that's the New Age, the Spiritual
                        Questers, the folks who have become fed up for good with the Christian
                        Church of the two sorts and who want something else to massage their
                        spiritual goodness with. <<

                        In *this* neighborhood? There goes the intellectual property values!

                        >>Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that Jesus was not either an
                        American Social Gospel Protestant, or an American Born Again Protestant� but
                        Jesus may have been an American New Age Spiritual Quester.<<

                        Whew, you had me goin' there for a minute!

                        Respectfully,

                        Dave Hindley
                        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                      • bjtraff
                        ... I m sorry, but which fact is this Steve? That GThomas is probably 2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-) ... Good heavens. The known first
                        Message 11 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                          --- In crosstalk2@y..., "sdavies0" <sdavies@m...> wrote:

                          > As our very Stephen Patterson took pains to demonstrate, in
                          > "The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus" book the Gospel of Thomas is
                          > independent of the Canonical scriptures. It is probably
                          > first century in date.
                          > This fact...


                          I'm sorry, but which "fact" is this Steve? That GThomas is probably
                          2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-)

                          > is strong evidence against the
                          > common presumption that because Mark and its revisions are
                          > in the canon therefore Mark and its
                          > revisions are the only possible ways of viewing Jesus (pace half of
                          > Crosstalk).

                          Good heavens. The "known" first century documents are in the Canon.
                          Those that "might be first century, but are probably second and later
                          are not. Yet many silly scholars appear bent on using the earlier
                          texts over the later ones. How odd.

                          >Thus as it becomes clearer that the canonical scriptures
                          >are a particular point of view (or related set of points of view)
                          >chosen by people who, we have reason to think, hated and
                          >suppressed the POV of Thomas (cf. Irenaeus)

                          Oh dear. Poisoning the well now? Is this why they elected not to
                          include 1 Clement? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be
                          apostolic? Now, if you could prove that it is a FACT that GThomas
                          was 1st Century, that would be interesting to say the least.

                          >Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that
                          >Jesus was not either an American Social Gospel Protestant, or
                          >an American Born Again Protestant… but Jesus may have been
                          >an American New Age Spiritual Quester.

                          Hmmm... which one of these are the Catholics? ;-)

                          >That's why Thomas assumes such importance to some.

                          Are you saying that it is important because it is congenial to the
                          theology of some, and antithical to others? I thought historicans
                          were supposed to treat data on the basis of its independence and
                          early dating, as well as its probable authenticity and closeness to
                          the historical Jesus.

                          >Just as rootexts from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount become the
                          >essential HJ to the Social Gospelers, and the Born Agginers pick
                          >prooftexts from Paul, to the New Agers find in Thomas their
                          >prooftexts of choice.

                          Fortunately, scholars are above all of this, and work from the
                          evidence on the basis of how reliable it is in itself, right? ;-)

                          Peace,

                          Brian Trafford
                          Calgary, AB, Canada
                        • David C. Hindley
                          My apologies if my Steven should have been StevAn ... Respectfully, Dave Hindley Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                          Message 12 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                            My apologies if my "Steven" should have been "StevAn" ... <gotta get me some
                            of them there spectacles>

                            Respectfully,

                            Dave Hindley
                            Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                          • smithand44
                            ... probably ... Canon. ... later ... ? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be ... Isn t it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                            Message 13 of 19 , Jul 9, 2002
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                              --- In crosstalk2@y..., "bjtraff" <bj_traff@h...> wrote:

                              > I'm sorry, but which "fact" is this Steve? That GThomas is
                              probably
                              > 2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-)


                              > Good heavens. The "known" first century documents are in the
                              Canon.
                              > Those that "might be first century, but are probably second and
                              later
                              > are not. Yet many silly scholars appear bent on using the earlier
                              > texts over the later ones. How odd.

                              ? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be
                              > apostolic? Now, if you could prove that it is a FACT that GThomas
                              > was 1st Century, that would be interesting to say the least.

                              Isn't it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                              century documents when it wasn't even the first century at that time?
                              It isn't a FACT that Thomas is first century, but then it isn't a
                              FACT that the canonical gospels are, either. I happen to think that
                              both are, but how could it truly be a fact without external evidence?

                              Best Wishes

                              Andrew Smith
                            • bjtraff
                              ... {Snip my stuff} ... Hello Andrew Actually, I was tweaking Steve a bit for his hyperbole, as curious assertion about the *factual dating* of GThomas and why
                              Message 14 of 19 , Jul 14, 2002
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                                --- In crosstalk2@y..., "smithand44" <smithand44@h...> wrote:

                                {Snip my stuff}

                                >Isn't it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                                >century documents when it wasn't even the first century at that
                                >time? It isn't a FACT that Thomas is first century, but then it
                                >isn't a FACT that the canonical gospels are, either. I happen to
                                >think that both are, but how could it truly be a fact without
                                >external evidence?

                                Hello Andrew

                                Actually, I was tweaking Steve a bit for his hyperbole, as curious
                                assertion about the *factual dating* of GThomas and why it never made
                                it into the Canon in the first place. As you have rightly noted, the
                                question of dating ancient texts can often prove quite problematic,
                                though I would add that this does not make the effort impossible. I
                                would argue that given the criteria that we use in dating ancient
                                texts, it can be more confidently demonstrated that many of the books
                                found in the Canon are 1st Century. Using this same criteria, and
                                applying it objectively, we can demonstrate that other texts are more
                                likely 2nd Century. Can any of Christian text be called 1st Century
                                as historical FACT? Well, perhaps FACT is too strong a word
                                (excepting the undisputed Pauline's, which do look to be 1st Century
                                as historical fact). After all, in the past I have argued that
                                *facts* are pretty scarce commodities in historical studies. All of
                                that said, I will stick with my original argument that all of the
                                KNOWN 1st Century Christian documents available to us are found in
                                the Canonical NT. Some of those books are very likely 2nd Century
                                (i.e. 2 Peter and probably the final form of GJohn). But the fact
                                (pun intended) remains that nothing has been proven about the
                                apocryphal texts visa vie their date ranges, outside of the
                                possibility that some of them MIGHT be 1st Century.

                                As you can see, when it comes to the specific case of GThomas, I have
                                yet to be convinced, but remain open to arguments that others may
                                wish to put forward.

                                Peace,

                                Brian Trafford
                                Calgary, AB, Canada
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