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RE: More Re: [XTalk] Violence

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  • Steve Black
    ... Some terms have to be used very carefully. Ethnic is such a term I think. The actual term, at least in the dictionary I have, does not include a distinct
    Message 1 of 104 , Aug 11, 2002
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      >Steve Black asks:
      ><<Could you elaborate? Which texts do you suggest have this ethnic
      >component? My first reaction is that there is no such reference to
      >"ethnicity" (and it seems anachronistic to speak in such terms - but here I
      >could be simply uninformed...), especially in Paul, but I would like to know
      >what you are specifically referring to before I respond in full.<<
      >Dave Hindley replies...
      >In Romans there are a few fairly modest statements that "Israel" has been
      >humbled, 1:8 "but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but
      >obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury." In 2:21 he expresses the
      >opinion of Jews: "you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself?
      >While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 [snip]
      > 1 Thess 2:15, though, gets a
      >bit mean: "[Jews] who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove
      >us out, and displease God and oppose all men [snip]

      Some terms have to be used very carefully. "Ethnic" is such a term I
      think. The actual term, at least in the dictionary I have, does not
      include a distinct "racial" component. This is important. Using it in
      regards to Paul's attitude towards the Jews is not without some
      difficulty. IF by this term we simply mean a
      social/political/religious entity that Paul (I think) was beginning
      to realize was not going to accept his message, then I don't think I
      have a huge problem. ALTHOUGH, your reading does tend to sidestep
      some passages where Paul seems to demonstrate less of an animosity.

      Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor
      free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ
      Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God
      for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also
      to the Greek.
      Ro 11:26 and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The
      Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from
      Jacob"; (The context seem to me to suggest that Paul is NOT talking
      about some "spiritual" Israel here)

      I suggest that Paul was simply not consistent or systematic in his
      thinking towards Non-XN Jews.

      Needless to say Paul, in the passages you quote, DOES reveal an sense
      that his gospel had more currency with Gentiles than it seemed to
      with Jews. But then again, he did consider himself the Apostle to the
      Gentiles, and not to the Jews, so perhaps this animosity is really
      just a attitude born on a realization that his audience was not
      Jewish. In any event, I still don't see anything that suggest that
      the book is written (or redacted, if you will) from a non-Jewish
      point of view. Speaking in terms of "the Jews" reflects, it seems to
      me, Paul's awareness that, like I said, his letters were dominantly
      for Gentiles. (I attended an excellent series of lectures by Rabbi
      Boyarin on GJohn - it was amazing - but to the matter at hand, he
      said that he refers to those fellow Jews who criticized him as "Those
      Jews". This certainly does not mean that he ceased to being Jewish!!)

      One final note. Speaking in terms a ethnicity, I think it important
      to be clear that we are NOT talking about racial notions. Paul is
      obviously upset that "his" people rejected his message (Rom 9:1-5),
      and he had a strong reaction to this rejection that some times boils
      over into polemic, other times into sorrow, yet other times into
      theological reflection - but I think we are on thin (or non-existent)
      ice to suggest that Paul was thinking racially. This is what I meant
      by anachronistic in the earlier post. It is one thing to string
      together harsh polemics because of a social/political/religious
      group's rejection of something, it is quite another to develop any
      notion based on race. This seems to require a (seriously misguided)
      theory of race itself, perhaps needing a notion of genetics, or
      something like it, which is completely out of place in the 1st Cent.
      The Gnostics (I do not have a good knowledge here - so please correct
      me if I stray from the truth) believed that there were different
      types of people - some children of the light, others of the darkness
      - this might be a good ground also to grow a racial theory. This
      manner of thought is clearly not present in Paul.

      >There is nothing in the Timothy letters. Titus seems to tell a bit about
      >what he thinks of Jews at that point: 1:14 "instead of giving heed to Jewish
      >myths or to commands of men who reject the truth. 15 To the pure all
      >things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their
      >very minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They profess to know God, but
      >they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for
      >any good deed."

      Because I don't believe the Pastorals were written by Paul, I do not
      think we can use them to reconstruct Paul's thought.

      >The four Gospels, for their part, have the occasional disapproving statement
      >(especially John), but mainly are content to hint, repeatedly, that the Jews
      >did not live up to their end of the covenant with their God, and their
      >inheritance was given to others who were more deserving.

      I believe that there is without doubt (at least to me) strong
      "Anti-Judaism" in the NT. On this we fully agree. I think it is based
      on a response to the early Xn message, on not on an ethnic theory. [I
      am not sure that "Anti-Judaism" is even the correct terminology. I
      see early Christianity as itself a form of Judaism, so perhaps
      something like "Anti-Other-Judaism" would be more accurate.]
      The NT writers often used the non-Xn Jews as foils to make their
      point - Matt, righteousness, in my view, is built upon the idea that
      whatever it is, it must be better than what the the scribes and
      Pharisees have.

      The NT writers, in my assessment, are guilty of a binary fashion of
      thinking where in this case the Pharisees/Scribes/etc occupy the "no"
      side of the binary. This has had disastrous historical consequences,
      and this post is by no means an attempt to absolve the NT writer of
      their rightful share of guilt. I believe it is important, on the
      other hand, not to over state this guilt.

      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
    • Thomas G. Barnes
      I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my question is
      Message 104 of 104 , Nov 13, 2002
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        I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the
        discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my
        question is this, how do I properly cite a web page I used information from
        in an academic paper. I am a student and an interested historical Jesus
        individual. I realize this is off topic so please send reply to me off the

        Thomas G. Barnes
        Philadelphia, PA
        Temple University
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