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Re: [XTalk] News of the "Passion"

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  • Jan Sammer
    Why stop here? Why not excise these words from future editions of GMatthew as well? But I have a better idea, let s convene an interfaith ecumenical council
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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      Why stop here? Why not excise these words from future editions of GMatthew
      as well? But I have a better idea, let's convene an interfaith ecumenical
      council that will adopt the Reader's Digest Bible as the new official text.
      If the New Testament is hate literature and can no longer be quoted in
      public, how much longer will it be permitted to stay on library shelves?
      Let's at least be consistent.

      I am sorry that Mel yielded to pressure on this point. The text does not
      refer to all future generations of Jews, as the critics seem to assume; it
      refers to the the children of Caiaphas and his fellow members of the
      Sanhedrin, i.e., the high priest and the Sanhedrin that were in control of
      the Jewish Temple a generation after the crucifixion of Jesus. This is the
      generation that Paul was having problems with and that he was attempting to
      dislodge from power, by provoking them to press charges against him, in the
      hope that the Emperor's Court would rule in his favor. Why does everyone try
      to misread "our children" as "all future generations"? The gospel writers,
      who were Paul's contemporaries, had a perfectly good reason to put these
      words into Caiaphas' mouth. Caiaphas was dead by that time. Their chief
      opponents were the sons of Caiaphas and the sons of the other members of the
      Sanhedrin. Omitting these words from the movie will not solve the problem of
      their presence in the NT; what we need is an understanding of why the gospel
      writers would have Caiaphas say something like that. And the simplest
      explanation is that the author of GMatthew was trying to discredit those in
      control of the Temple in his day, by claiming that they were as guilty of
      the murder of Jesus as their fathers had been. In other words, they were
      unfit for office. The Emperor's Court should take note.

      Jan

      > Sorry to post again today on the same subject, but WorldNetDaily has just
      > reported:
      >
      > Amid criticism from Jewish groups, Mel Gibson has removed a controversial
      > scene from his film "The Passion of the Christ."
      >
      > In the section, the Jewish high priest Caiaphas says of Jesus as he is
      about
      > to be crucified, "His blood be on us and on our children."
      >
      > The scene will not be in the movie's final version, according to a Gibson
      > associate who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity.
      >
      > "It didn't work in the focus screenings," the associate told the Times.
      > "Maybe it was thought to be too hurtful, or taken not in the way it was
      > intended. It has been used terribly over the years."
      >
      > The scene has been included in a number of versions of the film Gibson has
      > shown to carefully selected groups, including ministers.
      >
      > jim
      >
    • Jim West
      ... Me too, for it bodes ill for us all when political correctness infects honest discussion of texts and their meanings. jim +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Dr
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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        At 06:53 PM 2/4/04 +0100, you wrote:
        >Why stop here? Why not excise these words from future editions of GMatthew
        >as well? But I have a better idea, let's convene an interfaith ecumenical
        >council that will adopt the Reader's Digest Bible as the new official text.
        >If the New Testament is hate literature and can no longer be quoted in
        >public, how much longer will it be permitted to stay on library shelves?
        >Let's at least be consistent.
        >
        >I am sorry that Mel yielded to pressure on this point.

        Me too, for it bodes ill for us all when political correctness infects
        honest discussion of texts and their meanings.

        jim

        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        Dr Jim West
        Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
        http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
        http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com --- Biblical Theology Weblog

        "Porro, quid deus sit, tam ex nobis ipsis ignoramus, quam ignorat scarebeus,
        quid sit homo" Zwingli (ZW III,643).
      • Zeba Crook
        ... Ah yes, it s always only a matter of time before someone invokes that much maligned phrase. As I said before, how sad it is when those in positions of
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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          Jim West wrote:

          >At 06:53 PM 2/4/04 +0100, you wrote:
          >
          >
          >>Why stop here? Why not excise these words from future editions of GMatthew
          >>as well? But I have a better idea, let's convene an interfaith ecumenical
          >>council that will adopt the Reader's Digest Bible as the new official text.
          >>If the New Testament is hate literature and can no longer be quoted in
          >>public, how much longer will it be permitted to stay on library shelves?
          >>Let's at least be consistent.
          >>
          >>I am sorry that Mel yielded to pressure on this point.
          >>
          >>
          >
          >Me too, for it bodes ill for us all when political correctness infects
          >honest discussion of texts and their meanings.
          >
          Ah yes, it's always only a matter of time before someone invokes that
          much maligned phrase. As I said before, how sad it is when those in
          positions of power (Christians, Whites, Males) can't understand that
          their "innocent" actions actually have effects on people beyond them.
          We're in far greater trouble when we malign "political correctness,"
          which after all is NOTHING more than consideration for others and the
          understanding that because our language has power, it behooves us to be
          sensitive about how we use it).

          Zeb
          --

          Zeba A. Crook

          Assistant Professor, Religion and Classics

          Carleton University

          1125 Colonel By Drive

          Ottawa, Ontario

          Canada K1S 5B6



          613-520-2600, ext. 2276

          http://www.carleton.ca/~zcrook/



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Davis, Robert C.
          Jim at al: Fair enough: let s have some honest discussion about texts and their meanings. It is not being unfair to the texts in question, along with some
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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            Jim at al:

            Fair enough: let's have some "honest discussion about texts and their meanings."

            It is not being unfair to the texts in question, along with some others not mentioned here, to suggest that they themselves are (in part) to blame for the opposition between Christians and Jews, for after all, we find just that sort of opposition in the texts. Recall, for instance, Matthew's diatribal statements (Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!), or John's use of the term "Jew" as one (or a group) opposed to Christ because they are too much a part of "the world." This sort of "opposition language" simply exists in the texts themselves, and no amount of rationalizing will make it go away.

            This does not mean that Christians should back away from the texts, nor does it mean that accountability for Jesus' continues to be assigned to Jews of more modern generations. But Jews cannot be blamed for noticing the language which already exists in the texts, nor, in the current political and religious climate can the ADL be blamed for calling it to the world's attention. Now, whether or not the ADL is justified in labeling such language as "anti-Semitic" is a question I would not want to address, for the simple reason that such statements are conclusions rather than mere observations of fact. However, we cannot overlook what must be manifestly obvious to anyone who reads them--ie, the Jews do not come off well in the Gospels. Simple as that.

            I will say this: taking out particular passages such as the one being referred to in these most recent postings will not do much of anything to ameliorate the overall situation. It is but one such passage.

            What you do about all this, I really don't know. My only point is that we cannot escape what the texts themselves say and mean.

            Respects,

            Robert Davis
            Pikeville College


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          • LeeEdgarTyler@aol.com
            In a message dated 2/4/2004 12:47:21 PM Central Standard Time, jwest@highland.net writes: ... Me too, for it bodes ill for us all when political correctness
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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              In a message dated 2/4/2004 12:47:21 PM Central Standard Time,
              jwest@... writes:

              At 06:53 PM 2/4/04 +0100, you wrote:
              >Why stop here? Why not excise these words from future editions of GMatthew
              >as well? But I have a better idea, let's convene an interfaith ecumenical
              >council that will adopt the Reader's Digest Bible as the new official text.
              >If the New Testament is hate literature and can no longer be quoted in
              >public, how much longer will it be permitted to stay on library shelves?
              >Let's at least be consistent.
              >
              >I am sorry that Mel yielded to pressure on this point.

              Me too, for it bodes ill for us all when political correctness infects
              honest discussion of texts and their meanings.

              jim

              Frankly, I am doubtful than an honest dicussion of the texts at hand leads
              to the conclusion that Mel Gibson is at all "telling it like it is," as it was
              expressed in an earlier post. At best, the film is his own preferred
              reading of four disparate ancient texts, an early medieval visionary legend, and a
              morality play or two. That recipe is already infected with something (I'm
              not sure what) and could stand an injection of correctness, whether political
              or not.
              Ed Tyler

              http://hometown.aol.com/leeedgartyler/myhomepage/index.html


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            • Bob Schacht
              ... But it is also important not to read too much into the text, which is a good part of the whole problem. Was John really referring to all those whom we
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                At 01:49 PM 2/4/2004 -0500, Robert Davis wrote:
                >Jim at al:
                >
                >Fair enough: let's have some "honest discussion about texts and their
                >meanings."
                >
                >... John's use of the term "Jew" as one (or a group) opposed to Christ
                >because they are too much a part of "the world." This sort of "opposition
                >language" simply exists in the texts themselves, and no amount of
                >rationalizing will make it go away.

                But it is also important not to read too much into the text, which is a
                good part of the whole problem. Was John really referring to all those whom
                we would now call Jews? Or was he referring, at least some of the time, to
                "Judeans" (as opposed to Galileans)? When he uses the term Judeans
                (translated as Jews), does he mean to include or exclude Israelites (i.e.,
                Galileans)?


                >... However, we cannot overlook what must be manifestly obvious to anyone
                >who reads them--ie, the Jews do not come off well in the Gospels. Simple
                >as that.
                >... My only point is that we cannot escape what the texts themselves say
                >and mean.

                But that assumes that we really know what the texts themselves say and
                mean. Sometimes, we read too much into the text. Sometimes, we draw
                inferences that were not meant to be drawn. Sometimes we use anachronisms
                in interpreting the text, without realizing it. And in making these
                interpretive leaps, we are often unconscious of the leaps we have made, and
                assert that the texts "say and mean" what we assume that they say and mean.
                So the matter, to me, is not so simple and straightforward as you claim.

                Bob


                Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D., Research Associate
                Northern Arizona University
                Flagstaff, AZ
                (928) 527-4002



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Mike Grondin
                ... Hmm. My bible says that _All the people_ answered and said... And this comes immediately after Pilate washes his hands in front of the crowd, saying
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                  --- Jan Sammer wrote:
                  > The text does not refer to all future generations of Jews, as the
                  > critics seem to assume; it refers to the the children of Caiaphas
                  > and his fellow members of the Sanhedrin...

                  Hmm. My bible says that "_All the people_ answered and said..."
                  And this comes immediately after Pilate washes his hands in front
                  of the crowd, saying (obviously to them - not just to the priests
                  and elders) "see to it yourselves". Sorry, but your revisionism -
                  unlike Pilate - won't wash, Jan.

                  I like what Zeba Crook and Steve Black had to say about implicit
                  anti-semitism, but to my own mind, Gibson's statements on TV and
                  in print about who he thinks were responsible are even more
                  insidious and malicious than that - he thinks _everyone_ is/was!
                  To which I think one must say: speak for yourself, Mel.

                  On another issue, it won't do, I think, as Loren does, to try to
                  blunt Zeba's question about the "point" of a graphic depiction of
                  all the gory but well-known details of the man's death by saying
                  that it has as much (or as little) point as gratuituous violence in
                  totally-fictional films. One has to assume that it has more of a
                  point to it than that - more than just the accumulation of mammon
                  by feeding the tawdry impulses of people who flock to the theatre
                  to get an unhealthy dose of psychic shock. The point, I take it,
                  is that Gibson wants everyone to "feel the pain" of a man he takes
                  to be "the Savior" - with the assumption that that death had some
                  significance that the torture/deaths of other men didn't/don't.
                  While this may strengthen Gibson's own radically-traditionalist
                  wing of Christianity, and - indications are - will probably be
                  used for proselytizing purposes, to most non-Christians, it'll
                  just be another horror flick.

                  Mike Grondin
                  Mt. Clemens, MI
                • Jan Sammer
                  From: Mike Grondin The text of Matthew uses the expression PAS TO LAOS (the whole people) in this connection; a few verses previously
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
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                    From: "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...>

                    The text of Matthew uses the expression PAS TO LAOS (the whole people) in
                    this connection; a few verses previously this same group is described merely
                    as TO OXLOS (the crowd). But where do these people come from? In 27:1 its is
                    "hOI ARCHIEREIS KAI hOI PRESBUTEROI TOU LAOU" (the priests and the elders of
                    the people) who put Jesus in chains and bring him before Pilate. Now at
                    27:15 a crowd is said to have gathered in front of Pilate's residence. These
                    would presumably include the priests and elders of the people perhaps joined
                    by some of their followers. The text is a not specific on this point, but in
                    any event "all the people" at 27:25 cannot be understood otherwise than
                    "everyone present." The author cannot have intended it to refer to all Jewry
                    and all future generations as it has unfortunately been interpreted in the
                    past. He speaks only of the particular group gathered in front of Pilate's
                    residence, consisting of the priests, the elders and their supporters, the
                    Temple establishment one might call them. These are the very people that
                    Paul was trying to dislodge with the help of Caesar's Court and I do
                    consider that their calling guilt upon their own heads and those of their
                    children, should be viewed in terms of the polemics c. 60 AD. After the
                    Temple's destruction Christians would not have had a motive to accuse the
                    elders, the high priests and their followers of a crime. But such
                    accusations make perfect sense in the context of a trial in which charges
                    are being pressed against Paul by this very establishment. The only problem
                    was that the people responsible for getting Jesus put to death were already
                    dead by then, so Matthew inserted a sentence whereby they helpfully passed
                    their own guilt onto the succeeding generation, the one in control of the
                    temple at the time of Paul's trial. After the trial the Christians (who
                    became a proscribed religion as a result of the verdict rendred in this
                    trial) were subject to open persecution and their best hope for survival was
                    to try to merge in with the rest of Jewry, who still enjoyed the privileges
                    of a recognized religion. This strategy worked to a degree at least until
                    the expulsion of the Christians from Jewish synagogues later in the first
                    century. Matthew's description of events would have been counterproductive
                    to this strategy of self-preservation, had it originated at a subsequent
                    date.

                    Jan

                    >>--- Jan Sammer wrote:
                    >> The text does not refer to all future generations of Jews, as the
                    >> critics seem to assume; it refers to the the children of Caiaphas
                    >> and his fellow members of the Sanhedrin...

                    >Hmm. My bible says that "_All the people_ answered and said..."
                    >And this comes immediately after Pilate washes his hands in front
                    >of the crowd, saying (obviously to them - not just to the priests
                    >and elders) "see to it yourselves". Sorry, but your revisionism -
                    >unlike Pilate - won't wash, Jan.
                  • Loren Rosson
                    [Robert Davis] ... [Bob Schacht] ... For John s gospel I have found Bruce Malina & Dick Rohrbaugh s social science commentary (which I ve mentioned on this
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
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                      [Robert Davis]

                      > >John's use of the term "Jew" as one (or a
                      > >group) opposed to Christ
                      > >because they are too much a part of "the world."
                      > >This sort of "opposition
                      > >language" simply exists in the texts themselves,
                      > >and no amount of
                      > >rationalizing will make it go away.

                      [Bob Schacht]
                      > But it is also important not to read too much into
                      > the text... Was John really
                      > referring to all those whom
                      > we would now call Jews? Or was he referring, at
                      > least some of the time, to
                      > "Judeans" (as opposed to Galileans)?

                      For John's gospel I have found Bruce Malina & Dick
                      Rohrbaugh's social science commentary (which I've
                      mentioned on this list before) to be a very helpful
                      tool. It explores the idea of the Johannine community
                      as an ostracized or marginalized "anti-society",
                      hostile to the Judean world at large. Deals with the
                      nature of anti-language, and what terms like "this
                      world", "eating Jesus", "abiding in him", etc mean.

                      Loren Rosson III
                      Nashua NH
                      rossoiii@...

                      __________________________________
                      Do you Yahoo!?
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                    • Mike Grondin
                      ... Agreed. ... I m not sure what counts as a supporter , but in any case there s no indication in the text that this crowd consisted solely or primarily of
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
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                        --- Jan Sammer wrote:
                        > ... "all the people" at 27:25 cannot be understood otherwise than
                        > "everyone present." The author cannot have intended it to refer to
                        > all Jewry and all future generations as it has unfortunately been
                        > interpreted in the past.

                        Agreed.

                        > He speaks only of the particular group gathered in front of
                        > Pilate's residence, consisting of the priests, the elders and
                        > their supporters, the Temple establishment one might call them.

                        I'm not sure what counts as a "supporter", but in any case there's
                        no indication in the text that this crowd consisted solely or
                        primarily of such folks. Furthermore, the extent of Matthew's
                        broadly condemnatory attitude is revealed by another kind of
                        argument at 23:29-36, where he's addressing scribes and Pharisees
                        (if these also are Temple "supporters" in your view, then I guess
                        that word would include almost all Judaeans - thus making your
                        interpretation of the sentencing scene unfalsifiable because
                        uninterestingly tautological). There, he argues that _anyone_ who
                        persecutes Christians is calling down upon themselves "the guilt of
                        all the righteous blood shed on earth". So I don't think that the
                        author's condemnation was restricted to the Temple establishment,
                        much as your exclusive focus on one factor would have it so.

                        Regards,
                        Mike Grondin
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