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RE: [Xtalk] A new look at methodology

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  • Linda & Ernest Pennells
    [Joseph Codsi] ... concentrate on his disciples and reconstruct their need to alter the memory they had of the historical Jesus, once they had become witnesses
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 3 9:56 AM
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      [Joseph Codsi]
      >In short, instead of concentrating our attention on Jesus, we should
      concentrate on his disciples and reconstruct their need to alter the memory
      they had of the historical Jesus, once they had become witnesses of the
      resurrection and were entrusted with the Easter revelation ... ... I
      propose, therefore, to make a fresh start. Let's study what the disciples
      tell us about themselves.<

      The material is rather sparse, but carries a potent message. As Luke
      describes events around the ascension of the risen Christ, the question on
      the lips of the eleven relates to restoring Israel's sovereignty. On
      Easter Day, Cleopas acknowledges that Jesus' followers had expected him to
      liberate Israel. Luke is joined by others in recalling Peter's bold
      confession just prior to the transfiguration, and in recording James' &
      John's bid for exalted seats in the ruling structure. The gospels are
      certainly not shy about conceding a serious mismatch between the objectives
      of Jesus and his immediate followers. The fundamental characteristic of the
      twelve would appear to have been wrong-headedness.

      As for the next generation of followers, one of the basic axioms of NT
      studies has been the role of church praxis in shaping tradition.

      Have I missed your point, Joseph?

      Personally, the most encouraging development I find in gospel studies is
      illustrated by Horsley's "Hearing the Whole Story." A willingness of
      scholarship to stand back from the microscopic examination of texts -
      analysing pericope by pericope - and take a broader view coupled with
      appreciation of the socio-historical context; particularly the regional
      tensions (Galilee - Judaea - Samaria) that are part of the structure of the
      gospels, visible as a single march on Jerusalem in the synoptics, as well
      as the commuting pattern of GJohn.

      The gospels are the best evidence we have regarding HJ. Arriving at a clear
      picture of the story each evangelist has to tell, and its significance for
      the audience they addressed, is an essential first step toward
      differentiating between their rhetoric and our best reconstruction of the
      historical reality that provoked that story.

      [Bob Schacht]
      >A second option is to become a "participant observer." Instead of
      attempting complete objectivity, the anthropologist seeks to learn the
      language of the people, and become acquainted with people in the community.<

      Prompted by the contrast between reflective private reading of texts, and
      the first century reality of public reading, I have been playing with
      Luke's Gospel as theatre. I have previously bounced some of the components
      around on XTalk:

      The audience knows that Herod had eliminated the Hasmoneans.
      Luke's sets the wider scene: Caesar in Rome; A legate in Syria; Herod,
      his successors and Pontius Pilate in Palestine.
      JBap's priestly birth throws down the gauntlet to political appointees
      presiding over Jerusalem's temple.
      JBap's public challenge to Antipas, and the fatal response.
      Jesus pronounces Jubilee.
      The twelve's persistent commitment to insurrection.
      Jesus' persistent acceptance of collaborators and other outcasts.
      An intense focus on Jerusalem (not Rome) that starts on the mount of
      transfiguration.
      A challenge to the Sanhedrin, appointing seventy.
      A determined march on Jerusalem, marked by frequent speeches about poverty
      and the redistribution of wealth.
      Zacchaeus takes centre stage as a political giant who bursts the bubble of
      antipathy toward collaborators.
      Jesus topples tables trading Tyrian shekels, but allows Caesar his
      denarius.
      The wrong-headed theme of insurrection ends with crucifixion.

      It makes powerful theatre - but does it work as NT scholarship, or
      historical reconstruction?

      Regards,

      Ernie Pennells
      220 - 50 Songhees Road, Victoria BC, Canada V9A 7J4
      http://www.lukeacts.com
      Tel: (250) 381 5674
    • Joseph Codsi
      ... memory ... on ... to ... objectives ... the ... ===================== Dear Ernie, Thank you for your interest in my proposition. It consists in saying that
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 4 3:03 AM
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        In his July 03 post, Ernie Pennells quoted the following paragraph of mine:



        > [Joseph Codsi]
        > >In short, instead of concentrating our attention on Jesus, we should
        > concentrate on his disciples and reconstruct their need to alter the
        memory
        > they had of the historical Jesus, once they had become witnesses of the
        > resurrection and were entrusted with the Easter revelation ... ... I
        > propose, therefore, to make a fresh start. Let's study what the disciples
        > tell us about themselves.<

        Then he added the following comment:

        > The material is rather sparse, but carries a potent message. As Luke
        > describes events around the ascension of the risen Christ, the question
        on
        > the lips of the eleven relates to restoring Israel's sovereignty. On
        > Easter Day, Cleopas acknowledges that Jesus' followers had expected him
        to
        > liberate Israel. Luke is joined by others in recalling Peter's bold
        > confession just prior to the transfiguration, and in recording James' &
        > John's bid for exalted seats in the ruling structure. The gospels are
        > certainly not shy about conceding a serious mismatch between the
        objectives
        > of Jesus and his immediate followers. The fundamental characteristic of
        the
        > twelve would appear to have been wrong-headedness.
        >
        > As for the next generation of followers, one of the basic axioms of NT
        > studies has been the role of church praxis in shaping tradition.
        >
        > Have I missed your point, Joseph?

        =====================

        Dear Ernie,

        Thank you for your interest in my proposition. It consists in saying that
        instead of concentrating our attention on Jesus, we should concentrate on
        what the disciples made of him once they had become witnesses of the
        resurrection. This statement implies that the disciples have systematically
        altered the memory they had of the historical Jesus so as to render it
        compatible with the Easter revelation.

        This is what my feel for the birth of Christianity leads me to say. Now this
        is just an intuitive feeling. I must put it to the test through a new way of
        reading the gospel, most particularly the Markan account.

        You are correct when you point out that "The gospels are certainly not shy
        about conceding a serious mismatch between the objectives of Jesus and his
        immediate followers." But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Under the
        surface lies what is hidden. I am speaking here of what the disciples are
        not conscious of, and what they could not accept, because it was
        incompatible with the Easter faith.

        In the Markan account, the disciples recognize that they had a hard time
        understanding Jesus. A closer look at this problem shows that it had to do
        with Jesus' second identity, which had remained unknown to them during the
        pre-Easter period and was not revealed to them before the Easter revelation.
        Clearly there was a formidable gap between the Jesus they had known during
        his life and the glorious Christ of the Christian faith. In order to make
        the historical Jesus one and the same with the divine being of the Easter
        revelation, they had to alter the memory they had of the historical past.
        They created the Jesus of the faith and commingled it with the historical
        Jesus. The Jesus of the faith knew that he was the Christ and the Son of God
        of the Easter revelation, but he wished to keep this point secret. This is
        how the disciples rationalized what had happened. Part of their
        rationalization is the second explanation, which consists in saying that
        they had been under the influence of a mysterious force, which caused them
        to be blind and unable to recognize the second identity of Jesus. The veil
        was not lifted until the resurrection.

        In their account of the historical Jesus, the disciples do not reproduce the
        events as they had perceived them then, but as they understood them in the
        light of the Easter revelation. This means that they have reinterpreted the
        historical past and that their memory of the past was systematically
        altered, so that it [the past] became compatible with the Christian faith.
        They are the womb in which Jesus of Nazareth underwent, after his death, the
        metamorphosis which transformed him into the glorious Christ.

        I have summed up here a theory, which is likely to be disturbing to many of
        us. Most of us will have a hard time accepting it. But the scholarly study
        of the Gospel cannot be based on personal convictions. Hard evidence is what
        serious research is all about. I claim that the Markan account provides this
        hard evidence, and that the Johannine theological discussions confirm it.
        The discourse I will elaborate will have to provide the hard evidence.

        Reading the gospel is not a simple proposition. What the disciples admit
        openly is not necessarily a correct interpretation of what they had lived,
        as companions of Jesus, before his death. Their reading of the historical
        Jesus is highly biased.

        * * *

        In relation to the next generations of followers, to the extent they had not
        known the historical Jesus, when he was still alive, they had no way of
        suspecting the creative role of the first disciples. They had no way of
        measuring the difference between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the
        faith. You are correct to speak here of "the role of church praxis in
        shaping tradition". The theological discourse of the church is a living
        thing. It keeps evolving as it addresses the questions of each generation.
        But this theological discourse would not alter in any way the Easter faith
        and the revelation based on it, concerning the divine (or quasi divine)
        identity of Jesus Christ.

        This is why it is important to distinguish between "the role of church
        praxis in shaping tradition" and the role of the eyewitnesses of the
        pre-Easter history, once they had become witnesses of the resurrection and
        entrusted with the Easter revelation.

        I know my theory can be confusing and hard to follow. It takes special
        efforts to try and understand it. So I invite you, Ernie, to open up to a
        new way of looking at things. You do not have to lose your critical sense.
        But do not use it before you have made sure you understand what I am saying
        and the reasons why I am saying it.

        Peace,

        Joseph


        Joseph Codsi
        P.O.Box 116-2088
        Beirut, Lebanon
        Telephone (961) 1 423-145
        joseph5@...
        Yahoo discussion group: Historical Jesus
        Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/historical_jesus
        E-mail: historical_jesus@yahoogroups.com
      • Jack Kilmon
        ... From: Joseph Codsi To: Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2004 5:03 AM Subject: [Xtalk] A new look at methodology
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 4 2:25 PM
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Joseph Codsi" <joseph5@...>
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2004 5:03 AM
          Subject: [Xtalk] A new look at methodology


          >
          > In his July 03 post, Ernie Pennells quoted the following paragraph of
          mine:
          >
          >
          >
          > > [Joseph Codsi]
          > > >In short, instead of concentrating our attention on Jesus, we should
          > > concentrate on his disciples and reconstruct their need to alter the
          > memory
          > > they had of the historical Jesus, once they had become witnesses of the
          > > resurrection and were entrusted with the Easter revelation ... ... I
          > > propose, therefore, to make a fresh start. Let's study what the
          disciples
          > > tell us about themselves.<
          >
          > Then he added the following comment:
          >
          > > The material is rather sparse, but carries a potent message. As Luke
          > > describes events around the ascension of the risen Christ, the question
          > on
          > > the lips of the eleven relates to restoring Israel's sovereignty. On
          > > Easter Day, Cleopas acknowledges that Jesus' followers had expected him
          > to
          > > liberate Israel. Luke is joined by others in recalling Peter's bold
          > > confession just prior to the transfiguration, and in recording James' &
          > > John's bid for exalted seats in the ruling structure. The gospels are
          > > certainly not shy about conceding a serious mismatch between the
          > objectives
          > > of Jesus and his immediate followers. The fundamental characteristic of
          > the
          > > twelve would appear to have been wrong-headedness.
          > >
          > > As for the next generation of followers, one of the basic axioms of NT
          > > studies has been the role of church praxis in shaping tradition.
          > >
          > > Have I missed your point, Joseph?
          >
          > =====================
          >
          > Dear Ernie,
          >
          > Thank you for your interest in my proposition. It consists in saying that
          > instead of concentrating our attention on Jesus, we should concentrate on
          > what the disciples made of him once they had become witnesses of the
          > resurrection. This statement implies that the disciples have
          systematically
          > altered the memory they had of the historical Jesus so as to render it
          > compatible with the Easter revelation.
          >
          > This is what my feel for the birth of Christianity leads me to say. Now
          this
          > is just an intuitive feeling. I must put it to the test through a new way
          of
          > reading the gospel, most particularly the Markan account.
          >
          > You are correct when you point out that "The gospels are certainly not shy
          > about conceding a serious mismatch between the objectives of Jesus and his
          > immediate followers." But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Under the
          > surface lies what is hidden. I am speaking here of what the disciples are
          > not conscious of, and what they could not accept, because it was
          > incompatible with the Easter faith.

          The problem I have with this methodology is that it does not consider the
          motivations and agendas of the authors nor does it consider the audience of
          the authors. We cannot assume a "mismatch" between Jesus and his talmuddaya
          by the testimony of a gaggle of writers who never knew them nor belonged to
          the same culture. We see a difference in audience between Matthew and Luke
          for the same parables and aphorisms, one addressing the disciples and the
          other, the people. We see Mark as anti-family and John as anti-Jewish. How
          much is historical Jesus research actually historical Matthean, Markan,
          Lukan and Johannine research with a dollop of historical Paul..NONE of whom
          ever got a glimpse of the historical Jesus...no less the historical Thomas,
          Bartholomew, Simon, Judas, Thaddeus, Matthew, Andrew, Peter..well, you
          know...none of whom, I believe, make it through the foggy eyeglasses of the
          NT authors.

          Jack
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