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Re: [XTalk] Rikk Re: Messiah in spite of himself

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  • Rikk E. Watts
    Hi Bob, ... you are right of course, we can t speak for all, though mainstream might do. What concrete evidence do you have of early Christians explicitly
    Message 1 of 76 , Dec 1, 2003
      Hi Bob,

      > We know that *some* early Christians may have thought so. But I think you
      > may be over-reaching to imply that they *all* (or even mostly) "owned"
      > Jesus (what an interesting phrase) as a *Davidic* Messiah.
      you are right of course, we can't speak for all, though mainstream might do.
      What concrete evidence do you have of early Christians explicitly denying
      Jesus messianic status, and how significant a proportion do they represent?

      >> (e.g. Paul and yes then later Mark)
      > I don't think this is a slam dunk. In fact, I think Weeden would disagree
      > with your characterization of Mark, if he would re-emerge from Lurkerdom
      > long enough to tell us. See more on that below, but for now, let's just
      > observe that unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark does NOT provide Jesus with a
      > Davidic lineage.
      Yes, as someone who did the PhD in Mark, I am well aware of Ted's views on
      Mark. I don't mean to be unkind but I think it is fair to say that few would
      think he's made his case.

      >> when he seemed to fulfill none of the classic tasks of
      >> same, got himself crucified, and that after having done things no one
      >> expected such a messiah to do (e.g. his mighty deeds)?
      > That's the problem with the Davidic Messiah thing, isn't it? But is the
      > Davidic Messiah the only option?
      What others do you propose (i.e. not merely anointed language but figures to
      whom a titular Ho Xristos might be applied, as per say Rab Akiba and Simon?
      (As I stated in a recent post, I think this diversity of messiahs thing is
      grossly overplayed).

      >> Was it perhaps because it was impossible for them to think of Israel¹s
      >> restoration apart from a Davidic messiah?
      > Impossible, maybe. Difficult, almost certainly-- especially when you add
      > "Israel's restoration" to the menu. Do you really think that's what Jesus
      > had in mind? You keep adding preconceptions in, while I'm trying to
      > separate them out.
      The earliest hard evidence we have consistently understands Jesus in the
      light of Israel's scriptures, chief among those being Isaiah (a book which
      might fairly be described as focused on Israel's and especially Jerusalem's
      restoration) and the Psalms (with the majority of those cited by the NT
      involving either Davidic/Jerusalemite or restorationist traditions). These
      are the same early Xn documents that see Jesus in messianic terms. So, my
      question remains: whence this view merely decades after Jesus in Paul, and
      then in the canonical gospels?

      >> But if for them, why not also for Jesus?
      > I'd turn that question around: Why for Jesus?
      Because, as I'm arguing, I can't see anywhere in Jewish restorationist hopes
      a serious alternative that doesn't include some kind of Davidic figure. What
      would ever make us think that it was desirable, or even conceivable, to
      Jesus, a first century Jew, to think of the restoration of Israel (which
      again is how the earliest writers configure him) apart from God's covenant
      to David? I think it is generally recognized among Pss scholars that the
      retention of Davidic psalms even though the Davidic kingship had well and
      truly ceased is best explained in terms of Israel's future hopes. Do you
      have any evidence of any first century Jewish or Christian group repudiating
      those psalms? If not, then perhaps this is just another indication of how
      pervasive the Davidic hope was.

      >> And conversely, if it wasn¹t necessary for Jesus, why should it be for them?
      > Because they are in the position of trying to figure out what it means, and
      > what they have mainly to fall back on is existing cultural categories, even
      > if they don't have anything to do with Jesus' own sense of calling. Mark is
      > on record re: thinking the disciples were a bit dimwitted about
      > understanding what Jesus was trying to tell them.
      Ah yes, there's the rub. The trying to figure out what "it" means. What is
      this "it"? Maybe the problem, quite straightforwardly is that the disciples
      just couldn't put together Jesus' view of messiahship with what they had
      traditionally understood. But it seems clear from Mark that he thinks that
      both the Davidic messiah, and Isaianic servant belonged together in Jesus'
      >> ... So,(again) if one accepts with Wrede that Jesus made some kind of Davidic
      >> messianic claim,
      > Again, you inject the word "Davidic" into Wrede's deathbed conversion. Did
      > Wrede really use that word? Or are you just assuming it? Is that part of
      > the problem?
      Be careful of anachronism. We don't want to go reading 1980s discussions
      about varieties of messianisms back into those of a previous century. In the
      late 1800s, to the best of my understanding, there was only one
      understanding of first century Messianism. A Davidic one.

      We are, I think, all aware that there are various figures who were anointed.
      Just as we are all aware that the concept of The Messiah that emerged later
      had a particular kind of anointed figure in mind. Even Qumran who expected
      two anointed figures had no trouble recognizing that Jerusalem's restoration
      was linked with only one of them (as per the prophets on whom their based
      their diarchic views).

      It sounds like you, a la Ted's view, read Mark as evidence of competing
      views of messiahship. Two comments: I don't think Ted is referring to two
      competing views in Judaism(s). And I want to challenge that notion of a
      plurality of messianisms; I think it is a serious misreading of the data.
      Second, Ted seems to be describing a dispute among Christians as to what
      Jesus' messianic claims implied. The problem here is that as far as I can
      tell the whole divine man hypothesis, upon which a large part of Ted's
      thesis is built, has been pretty solidly debunked. Further, my recent work
      on the Pss in Mark indicate that while Mark's Jesus definitely uses the
      Isaianic servant to modify his Davidic messiah materials, they modify not
      supplant them. The Davidic materials are just as important to Mark's view of
      Jesus as are the Isaianic.

      So, as I've said before, I agree that for our writers, Jesus does not
      explicitly fulfill one of the major contemporary Davidic expectations. Every
      time you point out differences of this kind, we are only agreeing. Where I
      disagree is that I see the NT writers nevertheless insisting that Jesus is
      Israel's Messiah (Paul and Mark). And that needs to be explained. It becomes
      even more problematic if Jesus himself not only did not claim to be the
      Messiah but also repudiated such a title.

      In sum: the constant references to multiple anointed figures can become a
      red herring. There is really only one anointed figure connected with
      Israel's restorationist hopes of a purged Jerusalem and a rebuilt temple: a
      Davidic messiah (utterly in keeping with the Prophets and the Writings).
      Even "two anointed figures" Qumran shares this view. The earliest materials
      we have are replete with citations and allusions to texts that concern
      Israel's restorationist hopes. Far more likely then to me that this outlook
      originated with Jesus.

      Best wishes,

      Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
      Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
      Regent College
      5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4
    • Ted Weeden
      Dear Listers, I had indicated two weeks ago that I would submit my own response to responses of others re the thread Messiah in spite of himself in an
      Message 76 of 76 , Dec 18, 2003
        Dear Listers,

        I had indicated two weeks ago that I would submit my own response to
        responses of others re the thread "Messiah in spite of himself" in an
        article which Jeffrey Gibson has offered to upload to the Xtalk articles
        page. With the demand of other matters, it has taken far longer than I had
        envisioned to complete the article. And with the holidays at hand, it
        looks like I cannot get this article out until after the first of the year.
        I plan in the article not only to deal with matters related to the "Messiah"
        thread but also to incorporate in it issues related to the "4Q521" thread
        and the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" thread, which I had introduced.

        Happy holidays to you all.

        Ted Weeden
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