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Fwd: Re: [XTalk] A new look at methodology?

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  • Bob Schacht
    On Date: Sat, 03 Jul 2004 19:05:56 -0000, Geoff Hudson ... [snip] ... Of course; these are exactly the right questions to ask. I think we start by trying to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2004
      On Date: Sat, 03 Jul 2004 19:05:56 -0000, "Geoff Hudson"
      <gth400@...> wrote off-list:

      >--- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...> wrote:

      [snip]

      > >... I didn't mean to suggest that we could "do" participant observation
      > > in the First Century. I was simply pointing out that participant
      > > observation involves an intermediate level of engagement between extreme
      > > detachment and total commitment. The way we do this with respect to the
      > > historical Jesus is to be able to enter into the world of the text as much
      > > as possible.

      Geoff responded:

      >I am all for trying to enter - I try all the time. But which world
      >of which texts? Is it the Greek world of the extanct texts, or the
      >Jewish world of the proto-texts that I and may be some others can't
      >resist thinking once existed?

      Of course; these are exactly the right questions to ask. I think we start
      by trying to enter the Greek world of the extant texts. But we also need to
      try to reconstruct the historical reality that lies behind the texts,
      without stripping the texts of their spiritual aspects-- unless it can be
      shown that, say, Greek Platonism in the text was an intrusion on the
      historical reality behind the texts. My point was not that we should
      abandon historical critical analysis, but rather that we might need to
      supplement it.

      > > To do so, we need a methodology and a way of discussion that does not
      > > banish the world of the Spirit from consideration. It is something of
      > > importance to Paul and virtually all others, so we can't really enter into
      > > their world without learning to understand how *they* understood it. The
      > > best we have been able to do so far is to accept testimony that "J. was
      > > reported to receive the Holy Spirit", without requiring that every scholar
      > > believe that the holy spirit exists. We need to be able to do more. For
      > > example, we might be able to triangulate by starting with what the
      > > contemporary writers are reporting, and what anthropologists and others
      > are
      > > reporting about various kinds of spirit possession in various
      > > circumstances. What makes this different from anachronism is that the
      > > ancient sources provide a check on the modern sources. We also ought to be
      > > able to use ancient sources, e.g. on Dionysian rites, etc.
      >
      >It seems to me that the best ancient contemporary source, particuarly
      >with regard to the spirit world is the Dead Sea Scrolls where we have
      >the two spirits (the double tongue of James?). The Spirit was more
      >or less my starting point in questioning my own understandings. What
      >was the Spirit doing before Pentecost? . . .

      Exactly. I didn't mean to leave out the Dead Sea Scrolls; that was a
      significant error on my part.

      >...Some notes:
      > > * All sources agree that Jesus had companions (disciples). It even
      > > appears that he called them into relationship ("Follow me"-- e.g., Mark
      > > 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21). He just didn't wander around on his own.
      > > * Paul usually traveled with companions. Like Jesus, his companions
      > > were friends, not random clumps of strangers.
      > > * Although they were not necessarily traveling companions, women were
      > > often included in gatherings by both Jesus (e.g. several Marys, Martha,
      > > Samaritan woman, Syro-Phoenician woman) and Paul (e.g., Priscilla, Aquila,
      > > Phoebe). They were important parts of their ministries. Karen King
      > proposes
      > > that Mary Magdalene was a disciple; Paul described Phoebe as diakonos of
      > > the church at Cenchreae.
      > > * We have the tradition in Luke, at least, that Jesus' companions were
      > > sent out to spread the good news not as solitary evangelicals, but in
      > pairs.
      > > * Jesus seems to have promoted distinctive relational attitudes and
      > > behaviors such as forgiveness, and love. In fact, love (agape) was to be
      > > virtually the trademark of his followers (John 13:35), who were
      > expected to
      > > love not only friends, but enemies (Matt 5:44//Luke)-- which even the
      > Jesus
      > > Seminar recognized as probably historical.
      > > I think focusing on these relational attitudes helps us to enter into the
      > > world of these texts.
      >
      >I think we have to ask ourselves, how can we relate characters in the
      >NT with characters in Josephus or secular history. Yes, why not ask
      >who Mary, Paul, Simon, Peter, James etc. really were?

      I think you missed my point, which was directed not only at the kinds of
      *relationships* that Jesus had with other people, but the significance
      attached to those relationships. Your question shifts the focus from the
      relationship to the Other in the relationship. But there's a sense in which
      the other people in the relationship were not as important as the
      relationship itself. So, for example, rather than trying to identify who
      the Samaritan Woman at the well was, the more important point might be that
      Jesus sought this kind of relationship with a strange woman (and a
      Samaritan, to boot). This was unusual, and instructive. In a sense, who the
      historical Samaritan Woman was, is irrelevant.

      Bob
      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University
      Flagstaff, AZ

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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