At 07:49 AM 12/1/2003 -0800, you wrote:
>Re Paul and Jesus as the Davidic Messiah. Yes it is true that Paul only
>mentions Jesus' Davidic descent once in the undisputeds. But there are also
>hundreds of references to Christ in his letters. Which Christ do you think
>he has in mind, if not a Davidic one? Sometimes the absence of an explicit
>identifier simply indicates that in the mind of the author there is no need.
>He thinks it should be obvious.
Thanks for your reply. I still remain cautious about jumping to
conclusions. First, what was obvious to Paul (and his audience) may not be
obvious to us. Second, the Lukan characterization of Paul's rhetorical
style in Acts should suffice to warn us that just because Paul begins a
letter or oration with a familiar touchstone does not necessarily mean that
the touchstone remains untouched, as it were, by Paul's argument. For
example, just as the statue to an unknown God, a kind of miscellaneous
afterthought to Athenians, becomes in Paul's hands the God of all Gods, so
we might not expect Paul's brief bow to a Davidic heritage for Jesus to
remain unaltered as he moves through the letter. That is, Paul may use an
opening bow to a Davidic heritage for Jesus in order to engage a community
in which that identification has become important, only to shift the
discussion in another direction that has little to do with a *Davidic*
messiah. Indeed, I think that's what he does. If you take away the opening
allusion to the Davidic ancestry of Jesus, in what sense do you think the
Christology of Paul in Romans has anything to do with traditional Davidic
messianic images? Indeed, the contrast between David and Jesus seems rather
remarkable. The primary similarity I can see, outside of both having been
anointed by a prophet, is that both had to spend time in the boonies
rallying supporters. But Paul does not even explicitly allude to that
>If views of the Messiah were as variegated and as widespread as Robert and
>Bob suggest then surely one would expect Paul to clarify just which of these
>Messiah's he had in view. It would be irresponsible not to, right?
But I think this ignores Paul's rhetorical style, to the extent that we
have evidence of it in Acts and Paul's own letters. It also ignores the
absence of any readily available messianic prototypes to which Paul might
refer, that he regarded as satisfactory. After all, if Jesus was doing a
"new thing", how is Paul supposed to clarify, other than doing what he
does: start with an available popular prototype that has some currency, and
then bend it in the direction that he thinks it needs to go.
> It seems more reasonable to suppose that Paul offers no clarification in
>hundreds of cases because he happily assumes that his readers know exactly
>what he is talking about.
Good heavens, am I getting so cynical again in my old age that the above
strikes me as naive? [And surely hundreds of references is not the same as
hundreds of "cases," which implies to me a more substantial discussion, not
just a reference.] Judging by what is known of Paul's rhetorical style, he
is happy to encourage his audience to think at the outset that they know
exactly what he is talking about, only lead them off into some other direction.
> (Hence I think the mistake of scholars who find the evidence of the
> intertestamental period ambiguous; it is only ambiguous if one doesn't
> bring the right assumptions....
Ah, but there's the rub. After 2000 years of Christological development,
can we really assume that we know so quickly what Paul was assuming?
>What is more interesting to me is why in the letter to the Romans, the most
>Jewish of all of his writings and the one most replete with Jewish
>scripture, we get a reference to Jesus' Davidic origins at the very outset,
>but without any obvious apologetic intent. I wonder, given that he's going
>to be tackling some sensitive issues, if he starts by restating the most
>basic assumptions that both he and the recipients share.
See above. This may only be his opening gambit to engage his audience.
>Re Qumran, I realize that there has been quite a brouhaha about the two
>Messiahs, but I'm not sure why. This same notion of two figures is already
>found in the prophets where we have a Davidic figure and a priest alongside
>him both of whom are anointed (e.g. Jer 33:1518; Zech 4:1114; 6:1213).
>But even so, there is little question as to which anointed figure is linked
>with the destiny of Jerusalem and the Temple (one notes the emphasis in the
>Synoptics and John on Jesus' and Jerusalem).
Well, I don't know about that "little question." Perhaps I just don't know
as much as you do, so that I fail to see what is so obvious. Perhaps you
can enlighten me why it should be obvious that a fellow with no army should
be seen as obviously bearing the mantle of one of the greatest military
tacticians in the ancient world. On the other hand, if you can do so, then
perhaps it will be more obvious why Pilate felt that Jesus had to be crucified.
Thanks for your contributions on what has emerged as a very interesting thread.
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