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Discipleship

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  • Bob Schacht
    I m reading an exegesis on Luke 14 (and its Matthean parallels) by Brian Stoffregen, which raises questions for me also with regard to the Didache. It seems to
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 5, 2004
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      I'm reading an exegesis on Luke 14 (and its Matthean parallels) by Brian
      Stoffregen, which raises questions for me also with regard to the Didache.
      It seems to me that a crucial issue during the time the Gospels were
      written was, who could become a disciple of Jesus, and what would it take?
      This was, it seems to me, a crucial sociological question as much as a
      theological issue.

      As Stoffregen points out, one of the key words in this chapter is the word
      for "able" (dynamai) with the negative generally carrying with it the
      meaning of "not being able" to do something. However, he points out that
      this root is used both with situations in which it is *impossible* to do
      something [e.g., Zechariah is unable to speak (Lu 1:20 & 22); He may want
      to speak, but he can't] and for situations where a real choice is involved
      [e.g., the man who cannot get up and give his neighbor some bread (11:7)
      and the man who has just gotten married and cannot come to the great dinner
      to which he had been invited (14:20). In both cases it was possible for
      them to do the task, but they just didn't want to do it. ] All of this is
      complicated by the Lukan assertion made near the beginning of his gospel
      that "nothing will be impossible (adynateo) with God" (1:37). The question
      of discipleship seems to bother Luke, for he writes of the issue in
      multiple contexts.

      "Repent or perish" is re-iterated twice at the beginning of Chapter 13. The
      pericope of the Narrow Door follows in vss. 22-30.

      So, did Luke have an answer, or was he, and all of the followers of Jesus,
      still wrestling with the problem?
      And isn't this also an issue in the Didache (which I do not have handy, to
      check)?

      Bob

      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      University of Hawaii
      Honolulu, HI

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • John E Staton
      Bob, Isn t the ambiguity you point out in Luke s use of the verb to be able to something which is in the nature of that verb. The same ambiguity is present
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 6, 2004
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        Bob,
        Isn't the ambiguity you point out in Luke's use of the verb "to be
        able to" something which is in the nature of that verb. The same ambiguity
        is present in every language I can think of, and in just about every user of
        those languages. I wonder whether any of us are too clear in our
        distinctions between not being able to because a thing is impossible or
        because we do not want to. Very often our ambiguity may well be deliberate.
        On other occasions it may be due to uncertainty. I suspect Luke shares the
        lack of clarity most of us exhibit concerning this question.

        Best Wishes
        JOHN E STATON
        Penistone, Sheffield UK
        www.jestaton.org
        jestaton@...
      • Bob Schacht
        ... John, Well, of course it is. But I m not just referring to an isolated instance of ambiguity; ... As the examples I offered suggest, however, It is quite
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 6, 2004
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          At 07:36 PM 9/5/2004, John E Staton wrote:
          >Bob,
          > Isn't the ambiguity you point out in Luke's use of the verb "to be
          >able to" something which is in the nature of that verb.

          John,
          Well, of course it is. But I'm not just referring to an isolated instance
          of ambiguity;

          >...Very often our ambiguity may well be deliberate.
          >On other occasions it may be due to uncertainty. I suspect Luke shares the
          >lack of clarity most of us exhibit concerning this question.

          As the examples I offered suggest, however, It is quite clear that in some
          examples, Luke has one meaning definitely in mind, and in others, he has
          another meaning definitely in mind, and that some of these quite different
          meanings are in the same chapter. Of course, you could be right, and the
          varying meanings could all be incidental. But my question was to ask
          whether Luke was being quite conscious in his choice of examples, in order
          to make a larger point. I gather that your answer is, no, he had no larger
          point to make. I am not so sure of this, however, and that's why I wanted
          to hear from others what they thought about this.

          Here's more. Sometimes the audience is the "disciples," the immediate
          followers of Jesus. But other times it is a "crowd," which may be a symbol
          for a larger group of people who had heard Jesus, but were still neutral in
          their judgment about him, or hadn't made up their minds. Do you think that
          in all the Lukan examples I cited, and more, that Luke's usage of "to be
          able to" is simply natural, without any larger meaning intended?

          Here's my original point again: during the generation(s) in which the
          canonical Gospels were written, there is an issue among scholars over
          authority, heterodoxy, and orthodoxy. Some argue for an original unanimity
          and concord among Jesus' followers, which only later broke out into
          heresies. For those persuaded of this view, there is no question. The in's
          are "in," and the out's were "out" [damned, if you will].

          Others argue that from the beginning, heterodoxy was the rule. In this
          case, Luke's series of stories about being able to do something have a
          different resonance. In that case, it might not be so clear who the real
          disciples were, and how one got to be a disciple. The Gospel writers
          themselves are not entirely of one accord when it comes to who the
          disciples were. In Acts, Luke provides us with a procedure whereby a new
          disciple was chosen to replace Judas. Then along comes Saul the Persecutor,
          and all of a sudden the enemy becomes a disciple of some sort. On top of
          this, the Didache includes a section where the reader is told how to
          discern between true and false teachers(?), or maybe prophets.

          So I am persuaded that heterodoxy was the sitz im leben, and that Luke was
          not just whistling dixie with all his various stories using the verb "to be
          able."

          Of course, in later theology the question gets mixed up with the issue of
          salvation, so that "who is able to be a disciple?" is broadened into "who
          is able to be saved?"

          Bob

          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          University of Hawaii
          Honolulu, HI

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • John E Staton
          Bob, I don t think we differ too much on the wider question. I am certainly not a propounder of double predestination, and would (if anything) interpret
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 7, 2004
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            Bob,
            I don't think we differ too much on the wider question. I am certainly
            not a propounder of double predestination, and would (if anything) interpret
            "cannot" in the weaker sense except where the stronger sense is reqired by
            the context. As for who is (was) a disciple, I am sure it was not such an
            open and shut case. Have you read Jimmy Dunn's thoughts on "Circles of
            Discipleship" in "Jesus Remembered"?

            Best Wishes
            JOHN E STATON
            Penistone, Sheffield UK
            www.jestaton.org
            jestaton@...
          • Bob Schacht
            ... That would be my point ... No; what s he say? Bob Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D. University of Hawaii Honolulu, HI [Non-text portions of this message have
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 7, 2004
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              At 08:56 AM 9/7/2004, John E Staton wrote:
              >Bob,
              > I don't think we differ too much on the wider question. I am certainly
              >not a propounder of double predestination, and would (if anything) interpret
              >"cannot" in the weaker sense except where the stronger sense is reqired by
              >the context. As for who is (was) a disciple, I am sure it was not such an
              >open and shut case.

              That would be my point <g>

              > Have you read Jimmy Dunn's thoughts on "Circles of Discipleship" in
              > "Jesus Remembered"?

              No; what's he say?

              Bob

              Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
              University of Hawaii
              Honolulu, HI

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • John E Staton
              Bob, From memory, he suggests there were various circles of discipleship around Jesus, ranging from the inner three and the twelve at one end, to people
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 8, 2004
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                Bob,
                From memory, he suggests there were various "circles of discipleship"
                around Jesus, ranging from the "inner three" and the twelve at one end, to
                people who turned up whenever Jesus was in the neighbourhood at the other.
                In between we have the women who provided for his needs. There may also have
                been "regional" disciples (i.e they may have followed him around Galilee,
                but not accompanied him to Jerusalem. Not all of these will have "given up
                everything", and some may have remained members of their local communities.
                It may, however, be wise to do a bit of source criticism to
                determine how much of the forgoing is Jimmy Dunn, and how much is me.

                Best Wishes
                JOHN E STATON
                Penistone, Sheffield UK
                www.jestaton.org
                jestaton@...
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