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[Xtalk] A new look at methodology

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  • Joseph Codsi
    ... memory ... on ... to ... objectives ... the ... ===================== Dear Ernie, Thank you for your interest in my proposition. It consists in saying that
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 4, 2004
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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 2 of 4 , Jul 4, 2004
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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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