Re: [XTalk] "Authentic Sayings vs. Fictive Creations"
- I wrote:
>>Nice to meet you in Toronto. Maybe the SBL group and the new journal ought
>>to change their names, eh;)? "The Historical Jesuses Section" and its
>>journal (or will there be several;)???).
>Nice meeting you also!! Did you see Horsley and Allison HJesusHi Steve,
>presentation? Allison argued that Jesus believed in "hell", which
>might be something to think about. There is multiple attestation
>involved, but it does imply a Apocalyptic Jesus, so there is plenty
>for everyone to argue
Yes I went to that section... and what can I say? ...something of the
experience of hell;)?
I think they are both wrong on several scores... one... I think that their
favored quotes are from redaction [all the while both of them were
bemoaning choosing sayings;)!], two: that the earliest layers of sayings are
wisdom forms of communications, three: that in such forms... like the Rich
Man and Lazarus (and BTW that gets a gray vote from the J.Sem).... such
metaphorical (storied) imagery may be drawn upon to arouse ethical
reflection and not necessarily at all denote "an apocalyptic theology."
[folks are always telling each other "to go to hell:)!" and one can hardly
figure out one's metaphysics of the structures of eternity from that:)!!!]
And besides I think the whole argument: John was an apocalyptic prophet,
Paul was apocalyptic so Jesus in the middle was, too, is bogus. A. I think
the speeches of John in Q are authorial creations to cast him in the role of
a prophet of judgment and redemption. I think Historical John is better
understood in line with the wisdom and "Classical Prophetic" tradition as
well. B. I think Paul is a writer who works off all sorts of Hebrew
Scripture materials, apocalyptic being one, but also Royal, Priestly and
Classical Prophetic theology... as well as dabbling in some of the wisdom
heritage. Setting up this "gotta be" apocalyptic argument flies over
sensitivity to questions about layers of writing, redaction, story
development and care about the use of genres of thought.
So... can you tell that I wasn't impressed;)? "Hell" to say the least, is a
rich image matrix for all sorts of storied play. If you want to see a great
modern usage watch some of "the South Park" episodes! "Hell" can be a very
amusing backdrop for some serious "this worldly" reflection!
- James Hannam wrote:
>think this may be a US/UK thing. Some of what Dr Arnal says soundsI think you've rather misunderstood my position, or jumped to a conclusion
>disturbingly like the worst excesses of post structuralism which made
>far more headway on his side of the Atlantic than mine. Over here,
about it. I'm not taking that nasty old lit-crit line that all we have is
the text and there's nothing behind it. I am not arguing that all writing
should be viewed as imaginary until proved otherwise. ALL I have been saying
is that a) the Gospels in particular appear to me to be imaginative products
(a view generally endorsed by nearly ALL NT scholars, and even endorsed by
Brian Trafford, against whose views I THOUGHT I was arguing); and b) the
(subjective) intentionality behind any given writing is massively
complicated, and one cannot take a simple a priori position that "people
believe what they write to be literally true" -- such a position obscures
more than it reveals. I don't how either of these positions is typical of
"poststructuralist excess." Which poststructuralists or pos6tstructuralisms
do you have in mind?
>something from the historians' side. Firstly, the basic facts aboutThis is an unfair and distorted characterization. It homogenizes disparate
>Jesus are surprisingly uncontroversial to most historians. They tend
>to state them without much commentary and move on to something more
>interesting because there is really not much we can say about HJ. EP
>Sander's gives a list; we can add some more to that if we follow
>historical method and don't mind offending a few theologians, but
>half a page will cover what we can know about Jesus. But what is odd
>is that theologians do seem keen to deny even these basic facts and
>often for no particular reason.
positions. Historians differ on HJ, and so do theologians. On the basis of
such a litmus test, I'd be a theologian! The historians that *I* know
*personally* (and the classicists too) tend to take it for granted that the
gospels are NOT historically reliable literature, even in their outlines.
They are as puzzled by a "quest of the historical Jesus" as they would be by
a "quest of the historical Asclepius."
I further note that the DENIAL of the historicity of specific episodes in
the gospels is -- as several posters, including Brian Trafford, have made
clear -- really just about the ONLY solid decisions that can be made about
the HJ. In other words, it's almost impossible to demonstrate that Jesus did
or said anything -- the best we can manage with any secuirty is to say, "he
certainly didn't do this." And so, really, the difference between me and E.
P. Sanders on, say, the baptism, is that he's asserting (in shorthand):
"there are no good reasons to see this episode as Christian embellishment,
so we'll have to take it as being historical," while I'm saying, "yes, there
are LOTS of good reasons to see it as embellishment." In other words we're
talking about the same things in the same way, but disagreeing in our
specific judgments. The difference between theologians and historians in
applying this approach is simply this: for the theologian the answer is
somehow normative (often in complex and indirect ways), and for the
historian it is not. That's it. So Crossan may find it important,
rhetorically or theologically or otherwise, if "the Jews" killed Jesus. I
couldn't care less. It has no bearing on my attitude to Jews in general. Or
again, it may be important to a liberal theologian to conclude that Paul did
NOT unequivocally condemn homosexuality, or at least to somehow relativize
the condemnation that's there; it may be importanbt to a conservative
theologian to determine that Paul DID condemn it. I'm just interested in
Paul, how he operated, what he said, how he tried to shape his ekklesiai. No
skin off my nose either way: he's just some ancient dude talking about his
views on a matter that I made up MY mind about many years ago, and without
I must confess, however, to being in agreement with much of the gist of the
latter part of your post, to the effect that the HJ i sless historically
accessible, and for a variety if reasons less historically interesting, than
he is generally taken to be.
Department of Religious Studies
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0A2
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