Re: [XTalk] Re: Cross-cultural comparisons
- In a message dated 10/24/2004 10:52:51 AM Central Daylight Time,
And now writes: Note that Bob and I both say that analogous thinking
gives rise to possibilities and hypotheses and not "therefore he'll
have these qualities" conclusions. That is an objection to a straw
man. If a person is said to fit into category X, but no
inferences about him can be drawn from that because category X has
no characteristics, then, of course, category X is meaningless.
Not to mention that nobody on crosstalk is claiming that Jesus was a
shaman and both Bob and I have expressed doubts that the word, as
commonly used, is meaningful.
Nonetheless, you make a useful (and accurate) distinction that needs to be
maintained in scholarly work. There are only a few different styles--"genres"
if you prefer--of traditional healing that can be identified, and the sort
of entranced spirit-possession evident in the healings attributed to Jesus is
distinct from the shamanic journey types. The psychomachia of the two are
distinct and should not be confused simply because the term "shaman" (like
"postmodern") gets abused in common speech.
It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that the traditional healers studied in
modern times in Greece and the Balkans use the sort of entranced psychomachia
in which the healer orders the "evil spirits" to leave the "here-and-now"
where they do not belong and return to their proper place in the cosmos. These
do not take a shamaic journey to fight the spirits on their own turf, but
banish them by command, just as you see Jesus doing to, for instance, the
demons in the Gerasene.
It's also no coincidence that you find Old English and Old High German
healing incantations operating the same way. Even though the MS that contain
these incantations postdate the conversion to Christianity, the contents of many
are unquestionably pre-Christian and so are the underlying psychomachia.
There are also innumerable texts in Latin produced at the cusp of
Christianization throughout Europe.
This brings up the question whether the characteristics of the healing
psychomachia of Jesus in the gospels are in fact Jewish, or essentially Greek
(Indo-European, that is). I guess a good secondary question would be to what
degree the traditional healers of 1st C Galilee had been directed by the
incipient Hellenization of the area.
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