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Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Hi Andrew, a few responses... ... Let me start here. You ve misunderstood my point. I actually don t have a clue about Jesus mental health according to the
    Message 1 of 15 , Dec 31, 2002
      Hi Andrew,
      a few responses...

      >has historical Jesus study come to this, the informal generalising
      >you seem to advocate in your response here? What, pray tell, is "our
      >psychologically obsessed world" and why would psychological
      >investigation be "anachronistic"? It seems to me that it would be as
      >silly to suggest that our world was theologically or historically
      >obsessed for either persisting in theological interpretations of
      >Jesus or fixating ourselves with some individual from the past.
      >Further, you advance a psychological view in your post to the effect
      >that Jesus was not "neurotically driven".

      Let me start here. You've misunderstood my point. I actually don't have a
      clue about Jesus' mental health according to the canons of serious
      psychological assessment. As you well know psychological profiling is a
      popular aspect of many a modern assessment of long dead individuals. To say
      the very least this is a **highly speculative** venture when those talked
      about aren't present to tell us about themselves and we don't have broad
      knowledge of genetic make-up, family medical history, specifics of home life
      and community life, etc. etc. etc;)! My point in that **suggestion** was
      that it was just as possible as any number of profiles. In present
      psychological assessment work it takes a lot of data and time to make useful
      and accurate profiles. For persons dead for nearly 2 millennia... rather a
      stretch;)!

      >To continue: what are "storied elaborations from the Hebraic
      >heritage"?

      That was an informal way to talk about what is clearly a major element in
      the whole history of Hebraic/ Jewish religious story telling. To Torah...
      the Exodus narrative is a fine example in itself that has been carefully
      traced out by such as Von Rad and others. And to the New Testament this is
      hardly a novel or radical view as we see the "midrashic" and "exegetical" in
      and among the extant narrative Gospels (canonical and extrcanonical).


      This sounds like the common "pick a story and rewrite it"
      >reasoning beloved, not least, by Jesus-mythers as reasoning for why
      >Jesus never existed.

      I'm not "a Jesus myther," but I am a historical minimalist across the board.
      My greatest confidence is that we know the gist of original movement,
      something of Jesus' and associates original "voice print" (in the aphorisms
      and parables), and a few details of Jesus' life. I simply don't think we
      have very much historical data to work with and I'm not puzzled about
      that:)!

      (Alternatively, its used willy nilly by the
      >Jesus Seminar as a convenient way to dispatch material into the
      >generalised "common lore" abyss.)

      I think the J. Sem judgements about thte sayings are pretty much on target,
      I think many of my friends there are entirely too optimistic about knowing
      many "deeds/events." The narrative materials we have are theological works
      from insiders proclaiming theological, ethical and social ideas. Save for
      that snippet in Josephus (and I'm with Crossan, et. al. that there is a core
      there that counts as data) and that jab by Tacitus we have no other outside
      sources within a hundred years of Jesus' life. I am of the view that Mark
      is built around some memories (a. Jesus was baptized by John, b. Jesus and
      friends were originally centered in Capernaum, c. he and his friends were
      known for their table fellowship, d. he engaged in parabolic/aphoristic
      discourse in homes, by the seaside, on "the way" (I think he participated
      with the others in that 2 by 2 mission strategy), e. that he went to
      Jerusalem and was crucified there when Pilate was governor)... that and a
      few other things like accepting that mom's name was Mary and dad's, Joseph
      (from Matt and John), he had brothers and sister... that is the actual
      extent that I think is historical information about deeds/events.

      >
      >And finally, in my catalogue of trivia (sorry you caught me on a
      >picky day) is "your best guess" merely your way of being informal or
      >is historical Jesus research about guessing and not about evidential
      >reasoning?

      Just being informal...
      >
      >Pardon me if I've appeared abrupt,

      Hey, it's a whole new year in a few hours:)!

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
    • Sakari Häkkinen
      Dear Bill and others I think the parallels between _Joseph and Asenath_ and Matthew s Joseph Story are so clear that it is difficult not to see that the writer
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
        Dear Bill and others

        I think the parallels between _Joseph and Asenath_ and Matthew's Joseph Story are so clear that it is difficult not to see that the writer of Matthew's story knew and used _Joseph and Asenath_. Here are some examples:
        1) Joseph is a respected irreproachable man, known of his observance to the Torah and always willing to do the will of God.
        2) Joseph has plans to marry a virgin (whose virginity is highlighted), but is afraid to do that because he thinks it would not be appropriate for some reasons.
        3) Joseph is trying to escape the situation, but sees an angelic vision that encourages him to marry the virgin.
        4) Joseph gets married with the virgin, which is the will of God since from this marriage would born someone highly venerated by the reader's of the story.

        Someone might easily found also other connections between the stories, but these were the first that came to my mind (I do not have J & A here at home, so I may have missed something important).

        To Gordon (who missed me at SBL meeting which I skipped last year):
        I take both these stories only as stories without that psychological stuff you referred to that I do not even understand. However, if a scholar "votes pink or red" on the claim that Matthew used J&A when composing his birth narrative, several conclusions can be made:
        A) Joseph is a fictional figure - whatever be the name of the father of Jesus. This holds true also for the other parts of the Gospel of Matthew. (I would vote red).
        B) When the other Gospels mention Joseph as Jesus's father, there is at least a strong suspicion that they have read or heard the story of Joseph composed by the writer of Matthew. (pink in my opinion).
        C) There remains the possibility that a pre-Matthean tradition existed according to which the name of Jesus's father was Joseph and this would have been the reason to Matthew to pick up J&A when composing the story on a brutal fact of the name Joseph. This "fact" was also known to Luke and John who did not know Matthew's story on Joseph. This seems unlikely to me, because we do not have even a trace of such a pre-Matthean tradition on Joseph and because it would be too big a coincidence that also Luke would have composed a somewhat similar story of virgin Mary becoming pregnant when betrothed to Joseph without having ever heard of the birth story of Matthew. (grey)
        And here comes my black vote:
        D) Because the story of Joseph is a fiction it is not possible to reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus's family that the family had been Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be based on the figure of the Torah-observant Joseph. (black to the scenario).

        All the best,

        Sakari

        Hopefully there will be no war in Iraq.

        Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
        Diocesan secretary
        Kuopio, Finland
        sakari.hakkinen@...





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
        ... reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus s family that the family had been Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be based on the figure of
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
          --- Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
          > D) Because the story of Joseph is a fiction it is not possible to
          reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus's family that the family had
          been Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be
          based on the figure of the Torah-observant Joseph. (black to the
          scenario).

          The scenario is not based on a Torah-observant Joseph per se, nor on
          any of the birth narratives. Part of the evidence is the names given
          to Jesus and his brothers. This, I think, one cannot deny.

          Mike Grondin
          Mt. Clemens, MI
        • Jack Kilmon
          ... From: To: Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 10:29 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was:
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: <mwgrondin@...>
            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 10:29 AM
            Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)


            > --- Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
            > > D) Because the story of Joseph is a fiction it is not possible to
            > reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus's family that the family had
            > been Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be
            > based on the figure of the Torah-observant Joseph. (black to the
            > scenario).
            >
            > The scenario is not based on a Torah-observant Joseph per se, nor on
            > any of the birth narratives. Part of the evidence is the names given
            > to Jesus and his brothers. This, I think, one cannot deny.

            All of the squabbling aside, I am ALMOST ready to accept the "James Ossuary"
            as PROBABLY authentic to the historical James, hence resolving whether or
            not Joseph was fictional.

            Jack
          • Bob Schacht
            ... There s a nice summary article on Joseph & Asenath in the Anchor Bible Dictionary by Randall Chesnutt. After being relegated for a long time to the bin of
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
              At 04:58 PM 1/1/2003 +0200, you wrote:
              >Dear Bill and others
              >
              >I think the parallels between _Joseph and Asenath_ and Matthew's Joseph
              >Story are so clear that it is difficult not to see that the writer of
              >Matthew's story knew and used _Joseph and Asenath_. Here are some examples:
              >1) Joseph is a respected irreproachable man, known of his observance to
              >the Torah and always willing to do the will of God.
              >2) Joseph has plans to marry a virgin (whose virginity is highlighted),
              >but is afraid to do that because he thinks it would not be appropriate for
              >some reasons.
              >3) Joseph is trying to escape the situation, but sees an angelic vision
              >that encourages him to marry the virgin.
              >4) Joseph gets married with the virgin, which is the will of God since
              >from this marriage would born someone highly venerated by the reader's of
              >the story.
              >
              >Someone might easily found also other connections between the stories, but
              >these were the first that came to my mind (I do not have J & A here at
              >home, so I may have missed something important)....

              There's a nice summary article on Joseph & Asenath in the Anchor Bible
              Dictionary by Randall Chesnutt. After being relegated for a long time to
              the bin of later Christian literature, the consensus now seems to be that
              it is a legitimate First(?) Century work of Jewish literature-- either the
              first century BCE or CE! Evidence for dating gets more conjectural, of
              course, as one tries to narrow the date down further, but there is an
              excellent chance that it preceded the composition of the Gospel of Matthew.

              There is a danger of naive reductionism here-- that is, concluding that
              Matthew's Joseph story is "nothing but" an adaptation of the story of
              Joseph and Asenath. We don't know what other traditions Matthew may have
              had access to.

              Bob Schacht
            • Gordon Raynal
              Hi Sakari, ... I don t have any problem with your conclusions here, but just note that it depends if John and the Infancy Gospels are independent in this
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
                Hi Sakari,

                >D) Because the story of Joseph is a fiction it is not possible to
                >reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus's family that the family had been
                >Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be based on the
                >figure of the Torah-observant Joseph. (black to the scenario).

                I don't have any problem with your conclusions here, but just note that it
                depends if John and the Infancy Gospels are independent in this particular
                regard as to Joseph's "dadship:)!" (not the bio claim, but simply as father
                to this family of at least 7 kids). My vote would be light gray to dull
                pink that a Tekton named Joseph of Nazareth was dad:)!

                Happy New Year!
                Gordon
              • Karel Hanhart
                ... From: Gordon Raynal To: Cc: Michael Ensley Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 4:29 PM
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
                  To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                  Cc: Michael Ensley <mensley@...>
                  Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 4:29 PM
                  Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)

                  Dear Sakari and Gordon,

                  Like many before us, I too have pursued the Celsus legend
                  that historically Jesus was a 'mamzer' and that his begetter
                  was a Roman soldier.
                  However, I abandoned the idea, because in Mark
                  6,3 persons HOSTILE to Jesus use the derogatory
                  epithet: 'son of Mirjam'. In the East, if the mother is
                  named, the implication is that the father is unknown.
                  It is simply a swearword used in nearly all cultures:sob
                  The epithet is repeated in the Mishna.
                  The Markan version was too short and too ambiguous
                  for christians to be underrstood. Hence Matthew's
                  ironic opening 'begetting' story of his Gospel,
                  spelling out and elaborating what Mark also proclaimed in
                  'son of God (1,11; 9,7).
                  In exegesis it is important to establish who is saying what
                  and why.

                  cordially,

                  Karel




                  Hi Sakari,

                  Missed seeing you at SBL this year.

                  To this post... 'tis the tekton biz... like father/ like son... and the
                  number of siblings that push me in favor of Joseph as "dad" (whether
                  biological or not). Personally I think all this "fatherless"/ "mamser"/
                  "rape" stuff, and all the rest of this sort of speculation which soars into
                  anachronistic psychological profiling is the stuff of modernity/
                  post-modernity. Such as this is **so** popular these days, but it reeks of
                  our psychologically obsessed world. Looking at the parables and aphorisms
                  and at the essential nature of the mission discourse there is no necessary
                  reason to suppose that Jesus was neurotically driven:)! I'm with you as to
                  the stories... storied elaborations from the Hebraic heritage. My best guess
                  is that Joe was Mary's husband and father of the whole lot of this large
                  family... at least 6 (Jesus, 4 brothers and sisters #??) who were alive with
                  mom when he was parabling. Considering the general morbitity/ mortality
                  rates of the era this had to be a pretty healthy and at least adequately fed
                  family. But then again... not much of a shock that "Dad" died before his 30
                  something son came to be well known.

                  Anyway... good to hear from you.

                  Gordon Raynal
                  Inman, SC

                  >From: Sakari Häkkinen <sakari.hakkinen@...>


                  >I am a bit surprised what comes to the suggestions of Joseph's marriages.
                  >Was he even a historical figure? The earliest evidence comes from Matthew,
                  >Paul, Mark and Q do not mention him. Much depends on whether Luke and John
                  >could be regarded as independent sources what comes to Joseph. I think
                  >Andries van Aarde makes a good point in his _Fatherless in Galilee_ when he
                  >connects the story of Joseph to contemporary reverence of the Patriarch
                  >Joseph, especially in Galilee. It is worth comparing Matthew's story of
                  >Joseph (especially Matth. 1:18-23) to the novel Joseph and Asenath, which
                  >was quite a popular writing at the time Matthew wrote his story. Naturally,
                  >if the figure of Joseph in Matth. is based solely on the Hebrew Bible and
                  >other Jewish literature, it does not automatically follow, that Joseph
                  >never existed. If I recall right, it was about a half of the JSem fellows
                  >who regarded Joseph as the real father of Jesus. The vote would almost
                  >certainly give other results if it could be convincingly argued that 1)
                  >Matthew's story of Joseph and Mary is based merely on literature and 2)
                  >Luke's and John's knowledge on Joseph is based on Matthew's story. What do
                  >you think?


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                • Gordon Raynal
                  Hi Karel, Thanks for the note. I guess you say my last note to Sakari... in that I d give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus Dad being Joseph the Tekton.
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
                    Hi Karel,

                    Thanks for the note. I guess you say my last note to Sakari... in that I'd
                    give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus' Dad being Joseph the Tekton. But
                    this is just one more case where the data is so little and so open to lots
                    of explanations.

                    Gordon Raynal
                  • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
                    ... Sure. But if this was just a generic insult, why did Mark even dignify it by alluding to it? You seem to suggest that he was in fact committed to a
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 3, 2003
                      --- Karel Hanhart wrote:
                      > ... I too have pursued the Celsus legend that historically Jesus
                      > was a 'mamzer' and that his begetter was a Roman soldier.
                      > However, I abandoned the idea, because in Mark 6,3 persons
                      > HOSTILE to Jesus use the derogatory epithet: 'son of Mirjam'.
                      > ... In exegesis it is important to establish who is saying what
                      > and why.

                      Sure. But if this was just a generic insult, why did Mark even
                      dignify it by alluding to it? You seem to suggest that he was in
                      fact committed to a virginal conception, but presented the idea so
                      subtly (via inference from the heavenly proclamation) that it went
                      unrecognized. This would be more defensible, I think, were it not
                      for the descent of the dove, which has been widely interpreted as
                      an act of adoption at that moment, and not previously. Furthermore,
                      the charge of illegitimacy is echoed in GThomas, but again without
                      any explicit claim of virginal conception. This seems to suggest
                      that the charge came first, that it was not just a generic insult,
                      and that the virginal conception was by way of (a Hellenistic?)
                      response to it.

                      Mike Grondin
                      Mt. Clemens, MI
                    • Karel Hanhart
                      ... From: Gordon Raynal To: Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 8:13 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph?
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jan 6, 2003
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
                        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 8:13 PM
                        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)




                        Gordon wrote,:

                        > Thanks for the note. I guess you saw my last note to Sakari... in that
                        I'd
                        > give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus' Dad being Joseph the Tekton.

                        In addition to my brief note re. 'son of Mary' in Mark 6,3 being a
                        derogatory
                        epithet made by persons hostile to Jesus, I should have added that
                        'tekton' in this verse should be translated as 'templebuilder' because
                        in the Septuagint the word refers almost always to the craftsmen who built
                        the temple. This too was meant as an insult. Jesus' prophecy against a
                        false temple cult also is referred to on 11, 15-18; 13,2, 14,58; 15,29.38.
                        Matthew's version which you choose, appears to be an Matthean
                        attempt to circumvent the crude insinuation in Mark's original version which
                        could easily be misundertood by young or by new members of the ecclesia.

                        But
                        > this is just one more case where the data is so little and so open to lots
                        > of explanations.

                        True,

                        yours cordially,

                        Karel
                        > Gordon Raynal
                        >
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                      • Gordon Raynal
                        ... Karel, Thanks for this. Haven t thought about the tekton translation in exactly this way. Gordon
                        Message 11 of 15 , Jan 6, 2003
                          > In addition to my brief note re. 'son of Mary' in Mark 6,3 being a
                          >derogatory
                          >epithet made by persons hostile to Jesus, I should have added that
                          >'tekton' in this verse should be translated as 'templebuilder' because
                          >in the Septuagint the word refers almost always to the craftsmen who built
                          >the temple. This too was meant as an insult. Jesus' prophecy against a
                          >false temple cult also is referred to on 11, 15-18; 13,2, 14,58; 15,29.38.
                          > Matthew's version which you choose, appears to be an Matthean
                          >attempt to circumvent the crude insinuation in Mark's original version which
                          >could easily be misundertood by young or by new members of the ecclesia.

                          Karel,

                          Thanks for this. Haven't thought about the tekton translation in exactly
                          this way.

                          Gordon
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