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Re: Asking questions (Mark 8)

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  • Eric Eve
    ... I suspect it may have been the second of these, which may in turn be a more general aspect of an oral culture. I ve just been reading Walter Ong s _Orality
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 2, 2004
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      Bob Schacht wrote:

      > Do you think that these kinds of questions were a special attribute
      > of the historical Jesus, or an unremarkable aspect of normal adult
      > male Jewish conversational style of that time and place, or an artifact
      > of the author of the gospel?

      I suspect it may have been the second of these, which may in turn be a more
      general aspect of an oral culture. I've just been reading Walter Ong's
      _Orality and Literacy_ (New Accents; New York: Routledge, 2002; originally
      published Methuen, 1982) and came across this passage on p. 68:

      "In oral cultures a request for information is commonly interpreted
      interactively..., as agonistic, and instead of being really answered, is
      frequently parried. An illuminating story is told of a visitor in County
      Cork, Ireland, an especially oral region in a country which in every region
      preserves massive residual orality. The visitor saw a Corkman leaning
      against the post office wall next to the Corkman's shoulder and asked, 'Is
      this the post office?' The Corkman was not taken in. He looked at his
      questioner quietly and with great concern: ''Twouldn't be a postage stamp
      you were lookin', for would it?' He treated the enquiry not as a request for
      information but as something the enquirer was doing to him. So he did
      something in turn to the enquirer to see what would happen. All natives of
      Cork, according to the mythology, treat all questions this way. Always
      answer a question by asking another. Never let down your oral guard."

      To be sure, this may not immediately address *every* type of question you
      identified from Mark 8, but my best guess is that the place to start is by
      interpreting questions and responses against the background of the challenge
      and response pattern in an oral, agonistic culture rather than as the
      stylistic pecularity of an individual.

      -- Eric
      ----------------------------------
      Eric Eve
      Harris Manchester College, Oxford




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Loren Rosson
      ... I agree with Eric; various Context Group members have argued that counterquestions and rhetorical questions were part of Jesus hostile strategy in dealing
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 2, 2004
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        Bob Schacht wrote:

        > > Do you think that these kinds of questions
        > > were a special attribute
        > > of the historical Jesus, or an unremarkable
        > > aspect of normal adult
        > > male Jewish conversational style of that time
        > > and place, or an artifact
        > > of the author of the gospel?

        Eric Eve responded:

        > I suspect it may have been the second of these,
        > which may in turn be a more
        > general aspect of an oral culture.
        > "In oral cultures a request for information is
        > commonly interpreted
        > interactively..., as agonistic...

        I agree with Eric; various Context Group members have
        argued that counterquestions and rhetorical questions
        were part of Jesus' hostile strategy in dealing with
        adversaries, pursuant to the canons of honor-shame.
        Consider the following catalog of challenge-riposte
        scenarios (which I've used before in this list), where
        questions are analogous to scriptural one-upsmanship,
        backhanded compliments, and insults:

        1. The scribes accuse Jesus of blasphemy (Mk.
        2:1-12/Mt. 9:1-8/Lk. 5:17-26)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTIONS

        2. The Pharisees and scribes challenge Jesus for
        eating with outcasts (Mk. 2:15-17/Mt. 9:10-13/Lk.
        5:29-32)
        Jesus: RHETORICAL CLEVERNESS; BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT

        3. The Pharisees challenge Jesus and the disciples for
        not fasting (Mk. 2:18-22/Mt. 9:14-17/Lk. 5:33-39)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; RHETORIC; CLEVER APHORISMS

        4. The Pharisees challenge Jesus and the disciples for
        plucking grain on the sabbath (Mk. 2:23-28/Mt.
        12:1-8/Lk. 6:1-5)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; CITING TRADITION AGAINST
        TRADITION; CLEVER APHORISM

        5. The Pharisees challenge Jesus for healing a man on
        the sabbath (Mk. 3:1-6/Mt. 12:9-14/Lk. 6:6-11)
        Jesus: HEALING (actions shame louder than words)

        6. The scribes accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed
        (Mk. 3:19b-30)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; RHETORIC; INSULT

        7. The Pharisees and scribes challenge Jesus and the
        disciples for eating with unwashed hands (Mk.
        7:1-23/Mt. 15:1-20)
        Jesus: INSULT; CITING TRADITION AGAINST TRADITION

        8. The Pharisees challenge Jesus on the subject of
        divorce (Mk. 10:2-12/Mt. 19:3-9)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; CITING TRADITION AGAINST
        TRADITION

        9. The temple authorities and scribes challenge Jesus
        after his prophetic act in the temple (Mk.
        11:27-33/Mt. 21:23-27/Lk. 20:1-8)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; BLOW-OFF

        10. The Herodians and Pharisees challenge Jesus on the
        subject of paying taxes to Caesar (Mk. 12:13-17/Mt.
        22:15-22/Lk. 20:20-26)
        Jesus: COUNTER-QUESTION; INSULT; DEMAND;
        COUNTER-QUESTION; CLEVER APHORISM

        In other words, questions like these were unremarakble
        enough as part of one's shaming strategy -- staying on
        top of one's opponent, refusing to concede ground by
        answering questions directly, and upping the ante with
        counterquestions and hostile challenges.

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH
        rossoiii@...





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      • Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Blogger Michael Gilleland quotes Matthew 5.43-46 and then cites 16 Greek sources to support the thesis that in Greek thought it was a commonplace of morality,
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 29, 2004
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          Blogger Michael Gilleland quotes Matthew 5.43-46 and
          then cites 16 Greek sources to support the thesis that
          in Greek thought "it was a commonplace of morality,
          indeed almost the very essence of justice, that one
          should benefit one's friends and harm one's enemies."

          Here's Gilleland's website:

          http://laudatortemporisacti.blogspot.com/

          See the entry "Loving or Hating Enemies" for Tuesday,
          September 28, 2004.

          I have two questions:

          1. Is Gilleland correct that this was a commonplace of
          Greek moral thinking?

          2. If Gilleland is correct, is the passage in Matthew
          5.43-46 referring to Greek moral thinking rather than
          to Biblical moral thought?

          Conversely, are there any passages in Greek moral
          thinking that cohere with the teaching about loving
          one's enemies?

          Jeffery Hodges

          =====
          University Degrees:

          Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
          (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
          M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
          B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

          Email Address:

          jefferyhodges@...

          Office Address:

          Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
          Department of English Language and Literature
          Korea University
          136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
          Seoul
          South Korea

          Home Address:

          Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
          Seo-Dong 125-2
          Shin-Dong-A, Apt. 102-709
          447-710 Kyunggido, Osan-City
          South Korea
        • Peter Kirby
          ... These are quoted via Robert Price (I don t know chapter and verse). A rather nice part of being a Cynic comes when you have to be beaten like an ass, and
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 29, 2004
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            On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 11:49:03 -0700 (PDT), Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:

            > Conversely, are there any passages in Greek moral
            > thinking that cohere with the teaching about loving
            > one's enemies?

            These are quoted via Robert Price (I don't know chapter and verse).

            A rather nice part of being a Cynic comes when you have to be beaten
            like an ass, and throughout the beating you have to love those who are
            beating you as though you were father or brother to them. (Epictetus)

            How shall I defend myself against my enemy? By being good and kind
            towards him, replied Diogenes. (Gnomologium Vaticanum)

            Someone gets angry with you. Challenge him with kindness in return.
            Enmity immediately tumbles away when one side lets it fall. (Seneca)

            --
            Peter Kirby (Student at Fullerton College, CA)
            Web Site: http://www.peterkirby.com/
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