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RE: [XTalk] News of the "Passion"

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
      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


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • 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 2 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
        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


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • 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 3 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
          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 4 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
            --- 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 5 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
              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 6 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
                [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@...

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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 7 of 10 , Feb 5, 2004
                  --- 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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