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Re: [XTalk] "Authentic Sayings vs. Fictive Creations"

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  • Gordon Raynal
    ... Hi Steve, 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...
    Message 1 of 82 , Dec 3, 2002
      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;)???).

      Steve wrote:
      >Nice meeting you also!! Did you see Horsley and Allison HJesus
      >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
      >about... ;-)

      Hi Steve,

      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!

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
    • William Arnal
      ... I think you ve rather misunderstood my position, or jumped to a conclusion about it. I m not taking that nasty old lit-crit line that all we have is the
      Message 82 of 82 , Dec 20, 2002
        James Hannam wrote:

        >think this may be a US/UK thing. Some of what Dr Arnal says sounds
        >disturbingly like the worst excesses of post structuralism which made
        >far more headway on his side of the Atlantic than mine. Over here,

        I think you've rather misunderstood my position, or jumped to a conclusion
        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 about
        >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.

        This is an unfair and distorted characterization. It homogenizes disparate
        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
        Paul's input.

        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.

        William Arnal
        Department of Religious Studies
        University of Regina
        Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0A2

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